Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, premier researcher on polyamory and other “alternative” relationship styles has a new book out. It’s called The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Families and Relationships. Based on personal interviews over nearly a decade, her research sheds new light on polyamorous people in the United States. Right now it’s available as either an e-book or a hardcover book from publisher Rowman and Littlefield. In order to attract interest from other publishers to do a paperback release, she’s asking that anyone who’s interested in purchasing this book please do so ON SUNDAY DECEMBER 15th, which will hopefully propel the book to the bestseller list on that day.
If everyone who is interested buys a copy on December 15 then it has a good chance of being rated as the top seller in that category on that day. Being a best seller is important because it can help get the book published in paperback, which is a lot less expensive to purchase and more likely to be in mainstream bookstores. Rowman and Littlefield only publish hardbacks and ebooks, and if the book is a “best seller” then it will be easier for me to get a different publisher interested in doing another run in paperback.
If your group or organization is interested in learning more about sexual and gender minorities in general or polyamorous families with children in specific, I am available to speak to groups large and small, and willing to travel to do so. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see my website at http://elisabethsheff.com.
Please help me make this book more affordable to everyone by purchasing it on December 15.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sheff on several occasions, and I can say that she’s not only a fabulous and dedicated researcher, but also a kind and warm-hearted person. Helping her out in this way will also help get her important research into the hands of a wider audience, and (hopefully) pave the way for greater understanding and acceptance of polyamorous people everywhere.
Thanks, Eli, for your excellent research, and I hope that your book sells well on 12/15 and thereafter!
PS: Want to declare that you Love Outside the Box? Hop on over to my Love Outside the Box Zazzle store by end of day tomorrow (12/6), and get 50% off all T-shirts, and 20% off everything else! Use code 48HOURSDEALS at checkout to get your discount. Great for Holiday gifts, too!
Ever wonder how we got from the Free Love movement in the 60’s/70’s, to the polyamory movement now? If so, you’re in luck! Loving More is doing another of their teleseminar series this coming week. Check out the details below!
…because Love is ALWAYS ok!
From Free Love to Polyamory
Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM America/Denver (Add to Calendar)You can choose to hear the audio for this meeting either through your computer speakers or by dialing the following conference call information with your phone:Conference Call : Toll Number: 213-416-1560 | Attendee Access Code: 201 9893
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Personal message from Loving More Nonprofit
From Free Love to Polyamory A history of non-monogamy, open relationships and the future of the Polyamory Movement. This webinar goes through the rich history of the polyamory movement taking a look at the origins of marriage, monogamy, free love and the roots of the modern polyamory movement. Where do we go from here and what is the role of polyamory play in the future of family, love and relationships.
This webinar is $8 or free for current Loving More Donating Members. Members need to contact Robyn@LoveMore.com to receive member code.Please include membership type; annual or monthly.
Hey folks! Check out this interesting Webinar from the folks who conducted the Loving More/NCSF Internet survey of self-identified polyamorous people!
October 17, 2013. 6:00PM Pacific*
Highlights of Loving More Polyamory Survey with
Jim Fleckenstein and Derrell W. Cox II, MA
From February 10th to April 2nd 2012, Loving More, with the endorsement of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) conducted an internet-based survey of over 4000 participants who self-identify as polyamorous. This is the largest survey of self-identified polyamorous individuals to date. Individuals were recruited through local and regional listserves, Loving More email list, the PolyResearchers list, the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality’s (IASHS) student and alumni lists, and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ (AASECT) AltSex list. With the exception of five questions, all the questions were drawn from among those asked in the NORC’s biennial General Social Survey (GSS) in order to compare a sample of the polyamory community with the general US adult population.
This free Webinar is a chance to learn about the survey results firsthand and includes 30 minute Q&A at the end.
You’ve all heard the songs. In fact, if you’ve been poly/open for a while, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at them. Songs with themes of how “I can’t live with out you,” “you complete me,” or “you broke my heart” with the subtext “… AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Singer/Songwriter Scott Kalechstein Grace took a few of the most common from the 50’s – 70’s — and most egregious — and wrote a very funny parody mashup. It’s worth the listen:
Of course, being polyamorous or open doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t also co-dependent… but I find that it at least tends to force one to confront some of these tendencies. It becomes harder, for instance, to imagine that one person can possibly be the answer to all of life’s problems — and that you will DIE without that person — if you’ve discovered that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time … and to have more than one person love you. 🙂
With best wishes for INTER-dependent, not co-dependent, love!
Those of you with cable will probably know that Showtime’s second season of Polyamory: Married and Dating started in August. Based on early reports of “more diversity,” and the producer talking to “families from the heartland,” I had had higher hopes for this season than last. I haven’t seen the show myself yet (viewing parties are being scheduled!), but I have heard from some of my friends, and frankly, they weren’t impressed. “You’d think all we poly folk ever do is have sex, or talk about having sex,” was more or less the comment from one of my friends who’s actually seen all of this season’s shows so far. Since that was pretty much my complaint last year, I have to say I’m not shocked by my friend’s assessment. The show isn’t a particularly representative sample of differing poly relationship styles, unfortunately. Of course, this is a “reality” TV show, not a documentary, so we do have to take that into account. Sex sells, and sales drive ratings, after all.
As usual, Alan M. of Poly In The News is covering the show in detail, including some clips and a lot of analysis. Alan’s opinion seems fairly favorable (again), though that’s not without reason. The San Diego group, and Kamala in particular (in my opinion), have pretty good communication skills, and really are interested in showing the world that polyamory can work — and how their version of it works, in particular. Kamala often says things that I agree with wholeheartedly, such as this quote that Alan M. reports:
“You need a tribe. You need a community. It’s so much better than trying to do this alone.”
— Kamala Devi, as quoted in Poly in the News
It’s not that polyamory is never about sex of course — I myself have said that polyamory is just as much about sex (or not) as any monogamous relationship. Sex is part of the vast majority of adult human romantic relationships. It just so happens that their version of polyamory involves a lot more sex than the versions of most of the people *I* know! This clip from episode 3 encapsulates some of my sense of Michael’s heavy focus on sex:
He seems to have a hard time separating sex and closeness. His new partner Rachel seems to have a hard time understanding his difficulty:
Rachel, bemused: “I’m trying to understand the way this conversation is going.” Getting into bed with her lover’s wife is not how she usually thinks of “going deeper” with a lover, she explains.
— as quoted by Alan M. in Poly in the News
So what’s the harm in portraying polyamory as primarily about the sex? Hard to say. After all, it’s actually true for some percentage of poly people. On the other hand, as my friend expressed to me, if this were your only exposure to polyamory, you might get the wrong idea, or at least a very skewed one, and think that polyamory is always primarily about sex. [Hint: It’s not.] I myself have a suspicion that my having suggested that an old friend watch the show (before I saw it, last year) might indeed have contributed to said friend’s sudden cessation of contact shortly thereafter. Certainly he seemed to think I wanted something much different than I actually did.
In my opinion, the real concern, though, is that all this focus on sex contributes to the cultural ideas that lead to “Michael Carey” on Slate writing this excellent article “Why I’m Still in the Polyamory Closet.” As “Michael” writes:
I have never, ever been out as poly in a workplace. Start trying to explain consensual non-monogamy, and some people—a lot of people—are going to think you’re obsessed with sex. (Never mind that I’ve been with my wife, Rose, for 10 years, have been married for three, and in all that time the two of us have dated fewer people than plenty of serially monogamous singles I know.) Some co-workers may avoid polyamorous colleagues because they’re paranoid that they may be on the prowl. Others will become distrustful because they think that poly is an attempt to re-label behavior that they consider cheating, and cheaters aren’t trustworthy.
Exactly. The assumption is that polyamory is all about sex, whether or not that’s actually the case. It’s stereotyping. So again, what’s problematic with portraying polyamory as being “about sex”? Here’s what:
“…you don’t know if your neighbors are poly (or whatever other term they may use), because they’re still afraid that if they don’t hide that aspect of their lives from you, something bad might happen. Those potential consequences range from having all future interactions feel awkward to having authorities take away their children.” — Michael Carey, in Slate
(Note that that link he gives above is to the relatively old April Divilbiss case, but many more recent instances of polyamorous people losing their children in custody battles have occurred, enough to cause there to be several polyamory legal defense funds and organizations created. It is definitely still an active concern for many polyamorous families.)
So this, then, is why I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress. But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.
I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV,” than about “reality.”
PS: The teleseminar I did with Kathy Labriola on Wednesday was a rousing success! So much so that we’ve scheduled a second one for Thursday afternoon September 19th at 2:15pm Pacific time. We’ll cover several more tools for dealing with jealousy in yourself, and in your partner/s!
Those of us who are polyamorous are quite aware that we’ve long been painted as “the bottom of the slippery slope,” so it comes as no surprise to us that fundamentalists, especially Christians (e.g., the Christian Broadcasting Network), are looking to interview poly people on the topic. But while we polyfolk aren’t finding the conservatives particularly surprising, apparently WE are surprising THEM.
In particular, in his recent (and not yet released) interview, Dave Doleshal (founder of the Academic Polyamory Conference) reported that the interviewer for CBN was extremely surprised that there are many Christians who are also polyamorous. According to Dave, this
“…seemed to make his eyes bug out. It seemed like this was a possibility he had never considered.”
Note that we are not talking here about the Unitarians, who have a strong polyamory contingent. Nor are we limiting the discussion to Mormon splinter sects. Many Christians do not consider either of those groups to be Christians, strictly speaking. We’re talking about Catholics, Episcopals, Lutherans, and many, many more from the mainstream Christian denominations. Some are closeted, and some are open with their Christian communities. All are Christian AND poly*.
For those of you who might be Christian, but feel the call to being poly* as well, here are a few resources on the topic. [Note: I have not explored all of these deeply, so this does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any particular beliefs, practices or politics; just a link to a few places to look to convince yourself that you are not alone!]
For those who may not know, I myself come out of a conservative Christian background. My ultimate choice was not to stay within the Christian Church, but to pursue Love as a spiritual path. However, I do understand the mindset and the choices that those who are called to both might face. If you’re ever interested in discussing your own situation with me, feel free to book a free or half price session. I’m happy to listen, and to share any wisdom I can offer, because, as many of you already know, I truly believe that
“No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…
A recent post in Facebook by Veronica Monet spurred me to post this poem I wrote a few years ago, about boundaries, in particular that “liminal space” where things are changing from one thing to the next. Veronica referenced the article “Monogamous, Except Online” and asked the question “What about you? Do you consider online sex to be “cheating” or is it harmless fun?” My answer there:
“Cheating” is breaking one’s agreements, whatever those are. So if you and your partner/s have an agreement not to have sex of any kind, even virtually, with someone else, then yes, it would be cheating. For me personally, I don’t have that sort of agreement, and it’s more about whether I feel like I’m hiding something from my partner, or vice versa. If I am able to be open with my partner, and not feel that “oh, I’m doing something wrong” feeling, and if they are able to hear about what I’m doing (online or elsewhere), and be ok with it (possibly even enthusiastic!), then it’s not “cheating,” and I know everything is ok. If they have a negative reaction, or if I feel “weird” or “furtive” about what I’m doing, then it’s a call to be in better communication with my partner.
So what about you? How do you know that you’ve come to “the edge of the world”? What kinds of Agreements do you have … or not? Do you prefer fences? a sign? guards? a guided tour? or complete freedom? As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, either here, in Facebook, or in email (LoveOTB@gmail.com). And if you’d like to talk about Agreements as a path to safety, or any other topic related to polyamory, love, and relationships, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and tools with you.
May you always love boldly, safely, and well!
PS: I’m running a summer coaching special, so now’s a great time to contact me by email, or call me (510-686-3386), and save 30% on a package. Find out how to make your relationships happier, safer, and more fulfilling! 🙂
ccording to the National Opinion Research Center, women in the US are catching up to their male counterparts. Not in making money, leading companies or accumulating wealth, alas. No, we’re catching up in the percentage of women who have “extramarital affairs.” In the last two decades, the percentage of wives having affairs rose almost 40 percent to 14.7 percent in 2010, while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent.
But is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Fellow PLN member Franklin Veaux thinks that there’s a good side to all of this (as quoted from email):
“In all seriousness, without being flip, I think it [statistical increase in women vs. men engaging in infidelity] IS progress. It shows that we’re moving away from a woman-as-possession model of marriage toward a woman-as-self-motivated-agent model. The cheating thing isn’t good, per se, but the reasons behind it are.” — Franklin Veaux
I’d have to agree with that. It seems that the double standard around who gets to sleep around may be starting to abate. Women are, more and more, making their own choices around with whom to have sex. But is there more to this than meets the eye? I think so.
Percent of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional
Percent of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had
Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had
Percent of married men who have strayed at least once during their married lives
Percent of married women who have strayed at least once during their married lives
Percentage of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker
Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity on business trips
Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law
Average length of an affair
Percentage of marriages that last after an affair has been admitted to or discovered
Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught
Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught
Percent of children who are the product of infidelity
I notice several things. For one thing, that 41% figure contains both people who have actually had sex with someone other than their spouse, AND those who had emotional affairs. Compared with the usual US standard of counting “infidelity” as “sex outside of marriage,” though, this significantly inflates the numbers. Also, from this table, we can’t tell the percentage of men vs. women who engage in either form of infidelity. I bet those numbers would be interesting, too.
For another, there is no room in this chart for polyamory, open relationships, or ethical non-monogamy. If presented with this poll myself, I might answer “yes” to questions about historical infidelity going back to the time before my marriage. I might also answer “yes” to either emotional or sexual “infidelity” depending on how that term is defined. It’s certainly true that I’ve had sex AND emotional intimacy with more than just my husband. *I* don’t call it cheating… but those writing this survey might.
It’s also interesting to me that the average affair lasts about 2 years… just long enough for the “Disney chemicals” to wear off, and the infatuation to fade. Hmmm….
However, on the whole, I’m forced to conclude that the data isn’t particularly firm here, and doesn’t actually say much. It is, as the saying goes (attributed to Mark Twain), “Lies, damn lies, and statistics,” raising as many questions in my mind about the research, as about the results.
On the good news side, given that it does seem to indicate an increase in people (of any gender) willing to talk about their “infidelity,” this probably bodes well for transparency and honesty in relationships, which in turn probably bodes well for fulfillment within the ones that last — or even the ones that don’t. If people are happier by pursuing outside relationships, and that happiness leads to them choosing new partners, then that would be reflected in the oft-quoted 50% divorce rate — but that might also indicate that people feel more free to pursue what actually makes them happy and fulfilled in relationship, even if that means having sex with someone other than their spouse, or even divorce.
What do you think about all this? How would you answer a poll of this sort? Do you think women’s “gains” in equality here are a good thing, a bad thing, or something else altogether?
That said, it’s unlikely in the extreme that plural marriages will be granted equal marriage rights anytime soon. In legal red tape terms, granting marriage rights to same sex couples is exactly the same as granting them to heterosexual couples. Granting them to multiple spouses, however, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish indeed. (Those who have been through a divorce are already rolling their eyes even as I type…)
No matter what happens in the future, the sad fact is that polyamory is discriminated against in many ways. We are not (yet) protected by the anti-discrimination laws that cover same sex couples for instance, so the spectre of losing jobs (or failing to get them), getting discriminated against in housing matters (including retirement communities), and losing children in a custody dispute is very real indeed. Getting equal access to rights and privileges granted to married couples is certainly one way to gain some protections, but it’s not the only way.
Ken Haslam (retired MD, and curator of the Polyamory Collection at the Kinsey Library) reminded the Poly Leadership Network today of a paper written by Ann Tweedy, discussing the possibility of getting the protections afforded under the anti-discrimination laws I mentioned above, by asserting that polyamory should already be covered as a “sexual orientation.” She makes some excellent and cogent arguments, and I highly recommend reading the abstract, and the whole paper if you can lay your hands on it.
So what DO polyamorous people want? Are we happy? What do we think about marriage? These are some of the questions addressed in the Loving More 2012 survey (endorsed by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, aka NCSF) of over 4,000 self-identified polyamorous people. A summary report from these findings was recently released, and you can read it by clicking this link:
I found the survey interesting, if somewhat flawed (the limitations of the survey are openly discussed in this summary article.) Some of the findings are no surprise whatsoever (e.g., there are MANY more bisexual people in the Loving More population than in the general population, as represented by the General Social Survey.)
Also of interest is the fact that
“consensually non-monogamous individuals were significantly more likely to have practiced safer sex with all partners, to have undergone STI testing, and to have had conversations about safer sex practices than were sexually unfaithful individuals in ostensibly monogamous relationships.”
The authors suggest — and I agree — that this is
“in keeping with general polyamorous ideologies of rigorous honesty in sexual relationships.”
I think it also matches up with the “poly mantra” of Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. 🙂
One of my favorite personal statistics from this survey is that
“the LM population was slightly, but significantly, happier than the general population.”
On the whole, it’s an interesting survey, and worth a look, especially for those of us who are academically minded… or just plain curious. 😉
Here’s hoping that you, too are happy in your relationships, no matter who, or how many you love!
PS: Did you know I’m already licensed to perform marriages in CA (and most other states)? I love co-creating custom rituals for weddings, handfastings, and other Life Milestone ceremonies for people of any and all genders, involved in any and all healthy and supportive relationship structures. Check out my LoveOTB Ministerial Services Page for more information! No matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK!