How to Find and Meet Polyamorous People

A short primer from Franklin Veaux* and Eve Rickert of More Than Two:

I have found that it’s quite easy to locate partners willing to accept polyamory. In fact, in all honesty, I have to say “no” far more often than I say “yes.” Here are the things I have found that work to help make it easy:

  1. Don’t pre-script what the relationship will look like (“it has to be a polyfi triad with a bisexual woman,” “it has to be a quad with a married couple”). Be flexible and open to connections even if they don’t form the way you expect.
  2. Don’t go around scoping out everyone you meet as a potential partner. Go about your life doing what you love and expressing your joy. When you do this, people tend to be attracted to you.
  3. Be open about polyamory, without apology, fear, or shame. If you are not open, you could be in a room with 15 other poly people, and all of you might be thinking “gosh, where can I go to meet other poly people?”
  4. Focus less on what you want than on who you are. Seek to build in yourself the qualities the kind of person you’re looking for might find desirable. If you are looking for people of integrity, be a person of integrity. If you’re looking for people who are flexible, be flexible. If you are looking for people who are compassionate and kind, be a person who is compassionate and kind.
  5. Don’t treat people as things. Don’t consider new relationships disposable. (This is a lot harder to do than it sounds.)

*Since More Than Two was published, Eve Rickert and several other former partners of Franklin Veaux have accused him of being an abuser. While we believe More Than Two is an essential guide for those new to polyamory, it’s important to recognize the context of the book. Read more at I Tripped on the Poly Stair.

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Black & Poly Fifth Anniversary

What a great celebration for Black & Poly’s Fifth Anniversary! Limited edition shirts and more are for sale in our shop!

Fun in the Sun

We spent the weekend in sunny Los Angeles. Guests enjoyed drinks on Friday night, a chilly pool on Saturday morning, and attractions on Saturday afternoon!

Fellowship and Fun

We met up with old and new friends and danced the night away. Our hosts at the Hilton Garden Inn were gracious and welcoming.

Hollywood Stars

Dossie Easton, author of The Ethical Slut, and actors from the show Compersion met us on the red carpet during the anniversary dinner. Poet Ifalade Tashia Asanti premiered her poem just for Black & Poly.

Find Your Local Group

Want to connect with B&P offline? Find out if there’s a Meetup group in your area. If not, consider becoming an organizer!

We Remain Freed

By Ifalade Tashia Asanti

Long before poly was a definition in the Webster dictionary,
Black people were loving this way
1 woman, 2 men
2 women, 1 man
3 women, 4 men
5 men, 3 women
All loved

Together
We worked

Planted life-giving food in fertile soil
Grew our passion

Healed ourselves
Shared knowledge and taught wisdom
Birthed and fed beautiful brown bodies with our spiritual food
Transitioned our Elders
Died, returned and were born again
Our erotic was as sacred as prayer
Kneeling to please our beloved was as holy as how we praised the Divine
An orgasm was a sermon speaking of freedom and pleasure to a willing congregation

As we made medicine for the roots of ancestral wombs
Worshipped the phallus as a God
Cast reflections from the walls of pyramids bearing images of the ancient ways in which we touched
Uttered invocation for the release of life lived in harmony with the universe
Back then, we did not need labels or definitions
For we were love and lived in love
There was no fear of being stolen

For we belonged to each other yet remained free
We saw spirit in kindred souls before there was speech or words
Reconnected with husbands and wives from other lifetimes
We recognized the rhythm of heartbeats in strangers
We kissed in Yoruba and made love in Swahili
We expressed our attraction through the beat of a conga and midnight dance to honor Haitian deities
We gave birth in the bellies of slave ships while our wives poured libation and lifted our babies up to the moon
We transformed brooms into sacred objects to legitimize our marriages
We raised another man’s children in the absence of their parents
And this is why Poly is so much more than a lifestyle for us—it is the flesh memory of how we survivedand thrived
How we broke bread and shared our wealth
How we baptized each other in sweet rivers
How we raised our children in safe communities
How we unearthed our purest desires
How we created art and music without paper or instruments
Turned foreign words and dry sentences into poetry
Made guttural hymns into floor-rocking gospel
Fancied our braids into crowns and turned wooden combs into Black power fists

So when they ask who gave you permission to love this way

Tell them you are the descendant of master innovators who had a love affair with the power of choice
Your chi cannot be caged
Your desires must be respected
Your needs must be, at the very least, heard
For if we respect our truth
If we speak power to our fire
If we serve our purpose with dignity and honor
No matter who is appointed or elected
No matter what laws they break or lies they tell
No matter what they do to our bodies
We will always, always, remain freeeeeeeeed!

© Noble Trinity Media, 2018 All Rights Reserved. No portion may be copied or distributed without permission of the author.

Black Love: A Family Affair

My grandfather died when I was in middle school. As with all funerals, there are a multitude of family members I’d never met or barely talked to. But hearing about one woman caught me completely by surprise: my mother’s half-sister.

My grandparents on my mother’s side had six children, and I knew them all well (they lived in Gastonia and surrounding towns). I had met their spouses, played with their children, and attended weddings and funerals with them. They’d never mentioned a seventh child, the daughter of my grandfather. My grandmother was reluctant to talk about her. My grandfather was dead. My mother doesn’t want me to talk about it online. But she exists, and the fact that she exists highlights an important part of black culture.

We are not monogamous.

If you’ve read Sex at Dawn, you’re aware of the historical underpinnings of marriage and how it is tied to property and birthright. It’s part of the reason polygyny (a man married to multiple women) is still acceptable across the world. As a black American, I don’t feel much connection with the African women in polygamous marriages. I do feel a connection with my great grandmother, who decided, after having five children, that she would have the next two with a different man. Was she a cheater? Most definitely. Did she have any other models of love and relationship other than monogamy and polygamy? Probably not.

During the slave trade, economic interest was stronger than marital bonds. Black families were routinely separated and sold to different owners whether they were married or single. A woman could not expect to stay on the same plantation with her father or her husband. She often could not decide who would be the father of her own children. Naturally, when freedom came, black families tried to create homes and communities that looked like white families’. They joined a culture that had decided monogamy was best, no matter how often the model citizens failed at it. But consistently up until the modern era, black families have looked more like single parent families, extended support systems, and skipped generation rearing.

Modern critics call it “the breakdown of family structures.” I call it the irreparable damage of white supremacy.

Research shows that, despite the fact that black Americans are less likely to be married than white Americans, black Americans still want and have romantic relationships. They just don’t always end with marriage. The stereotypical lower-income black mother with multiple “baby daddies” has a kernel of truth–black culture, in general, is accepting of serial monogamy and blended families. It’s acceptable to end a relationship when it no longer meets our needs, and it’s just as acceptable to ask that the ex participate in co-parenting along with or instead of a new partner.

Compared to the cultural standard, our way of doing relationships looks dysfunctional and unhealthy. Often times it is dysfunctional and unhealthy, but sometimes it works. Polyamory, a word invented in 1991, is about openness and honesty around our wants and needs. In polyamory, it’s normal to decide whether to live together or not, who participates in co-parenting, and who contributes financially. Black culture does not have to make a giant leap into polyamory–it just has to bring our current practices to the light. Not everyone is built for non-monogamy, and there is still work to be done around removing religion-based shame. At the end of the day, people will be healthier by having more options with which to live authentic lives.

Celebrate Black & Poly

Special Anniversary T-Shirts

Fifth anniversary t-shirts are now on sale for $20 each! Order these limited-edition shirts by September 14 and get a special gift with your order.

All Star Speakers

Join founder Ron Young as he reflects on the history of Black & Poly. Don’t miss our very special guests Dossie Easton, author of The Ethical Slut, and Jackie Stone, producer of the show Compersion.

Pool Party and Movies

Your tickets for our September event include the Poolside Breakfast with Mimosas and the Munchies Meetup and Screening along with the anniversary dinner. Each attendee will receive a souvenir B&P wristband.

See the whole itinerary here.

Celebrate Black & Poly

In 2013, Ron Young started Black & Poly with the vision of creating a space for black families to love and learn together. Black & Poly is celebrating it’s fifth anniversary with a weekend-long party in Los Angeles! Here are just a few of the highlights for this exciting event, September 28-30, 2018.

Black Panther Theme

Our Saturday dinner is themed The Wakanda Edition based on the blockbuster movie Black Panther. Come dressed in your Wakanda-inspired outfits, and a gift bag of goodies will be given to the best dressed!

Poly Movie Screening

Author Peter Mack will host an evening of short films from black screenwriters, including the YouTube series Compersion.

Guest Speakers and Appearances

Some of your favorite Black & Poly contributors will be at the event, including Crystal Byrd Farmer, Evita Sawyers, and Sir Orpheus Black. Poet Ifalade TaShia Asanti will also do a reading. Our very special guests will be Dossie Easton, author of The Ethical Slut, and Jackie Stone, producer of the show Compersion.

Culture and Fun

Bring your family to see the sights in LA! We’ll start with roller skating at World on Wheels on Friday. Saturday early risers can hike to the Hollywood Sign before joining Ron Young and Kato Cooks at the Poolside Breakfast. In the afternoon we’ll tour the Venice Beach Boardwalk and the California African American Museum. We’ll chill out with board and table games before the big anniversary dinner.

Commemorative T-Shirts and Gifts

We will have all the Black & Poly swag for sale during and after the celebration. Our special edition shirts will be available for a limited time. Guests who purchase dinner will receive a free souvenir B&P wristband.

Get your tickets for our September celebration as soon as you can! $50 gets you in to all the major events of the weekend, including the anniversary dinner. Need a place to stay? The Hilton Garden Inn has a block of rooms just for the B&P family.

Want to see the whole itinerary? Click here.

The 12 Pillars of Polyamory

This essay, written by Kenneth R. Haslam in 2008, has appeared all over the Internet as a defining document of polyamory. It is a long read and a little outdated, but it is presented unedited as requested by the author.

“Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy nor fear. It is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve.”

Percy Byshe Shelley

The road to Polyamory Utopia is long and twisting. There are many learning curves and it is dotted with potholes and littered with road kill. The rewards are great on arrival but there is a price to pay. You have to learn how to negotiate this road and unfortunately our parents, peers, teachers, and clerics have not been too helpful in guiding us along the way.

But we are learning Brad Blanton, the author of Radical Honesty, in a keynote address at a Loving More conference several years ago said, “You guys are the research and development arm of society”. And as researchers we will make mistakes.

But we also learn as we make mistakes. In observing the Poly community over the past 10 years it has become apparent to me that there are some basic principles, I call them Pillars, that everyone must understand and internalize to be able to successfully negotiate the road to Polyamory.

THE 12 PILLARS OF POLYAMORY

I. AUTHENTICITY

You must know yourself and be comfortable being you. You need to know without question the differences between your love needs and wants. Do you know your languages of love and which of them apply to you? (words of affirmation, touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service) Do you know and accept your sexuality – kinks and all? Are you genuine with yourself and are you comfortable sharing yourself as you really are with others? Can you be the person you really are? And if you are unsure, can you admit this to others? A good grasp of your sense of self is mandatory.

Polyamory is about VARIETY. I firmly believe that included in our authenticity is an honest acceptance of our need for variety – variety in our sexual and relationship needs and wants.

II. CHOICE

A grounded and balanced Poly understands they are free to make decisions about how they will live their life. They are free to choose. For example every day you choose to stay with your partners.

Of course this may cause conflict with partners who think they know what is good for you. Ask your partners for their opinions, think them over, and then make your own choices. You will make and be responsible for your own mistakes.

Watch out for those in your life who want to control you and limit your choices.

III.TRANSPARENCY

Although some will disagree, I firmly believe that there should be no secrets in Polyamory. Full disclosure is paramount. And even if you try to keep things to yourself remember the Poly community is very small and pillow talk is second only to the Internet in keeping everyone informed about who is in relationship with whom. Many Polyamorists love to gossip and your secrets may well be common knowledge – but you just don’t know that everyone else knows.

Nothing is more damaging to a Poly relationship than to find out the details about your partner from others.

A close friend of mine is married, and his wife does not know he is closet bisexual and a closet cross dresser. You cannot believe the amount of stress this causes which manifests as poor heath and depression.

Wherever possible, get to know your partner’s partners. I say this easily yet I have partners who are reluctant to be fully open about their partners.

Keep all of your partners in the loop. Poly relationships often fail because the primary partner feels left out.

A lesson the Poly community can teach the mono community is how to deal with unadulterated truth in relationships.

IV.TRUST

A quick definition of trust is: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. An example might be condom use. You agree with all your partners to use condoms with everyone not your primary. You believe that they will do what they say they will do.

You want to know that your partners will behave responsibly. In fact, an older term for Polyamory is “responsible non-monogamy”.

Trust is always an “iffy” thing, as we all know how easy it is to break that trust in the heat of passion.

Keeping your partners trust and honoring agreements may well be one of the most difficult aspects of Polyamory. I fail from time to time but I communicate, confess and just deal with the aftermath. Sometimes this not a lot of fun.

V. GENDER EQUALITY

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Different rules for different genders are not allowed.

A lady friend of mine has a bit of trouble with this concept. She is Poly and very much in love with her primary. She continues to date others, but he, being consumed with New Relationship Energy (NRE), preferred to be monogamous. As his NRE cooled and he became more comfortable with Poly thinking (and multipartnering) he began to develop an interest in other women. She was distraught, entered psychotherapy and now, months later she is still in therapy and still not comfortable with him dating.

It is easy to embrace the concept of Polyamory but the practice is sometimes hard. It may take years to feel at ease with the Poly lifestyle.

Let me add a word or two here about women and Polyamory. There is a saying that men often have to beg women to come to the first Polyamory party. But by the third party he has to beg her to come home. Women seem to love Polyamory and as you look over Poly history you find many women who are the movers and shakers in the Poly community.

It is my impression that men are more often prone to have difficulty sharing their women with other men.

VI. HONESTY

Now I ask you, who would want their partner to be dishonest?

When I was first learning about Polyamory I cheated on my primary partner. I had met someone new and was consumed by New Relationship Energy. When I eventually confessed, my partner was destroyed and there was a bloodbath with me getting the worst of the battle.

I was told in no uncertain terms that she could handle anything but deceit. She had no problems with my having sex with others, or falling in love with others, but lying and withholding information was not acceptable.

So now I just tell my partners when I am attracted to others and keep them informed. No editing, no withholding.

Your partners may not like hearing what you are telling them but in the long run just getting everything out for discussion beats lying, withholding information and editing.

Poly life is so complicated that I cannot imagine not being honest with all of my partners. And I will tell you this is not always easy.

In my opinion the essence of Polyamory is about HONESTY IN RELATIONSHIPS.

VII. OPEN COMMUNICATION

Although this overlaps other Pillars it is so important it is worth repeating.

There should be NO secrets in Polyamory. None.

Over and over I hear stories about multiple partner relationships failing because someone felt left out. Everyone should know about everyone in your life that is of romantic/sexual interest to you. Not knowing is deadly. Keep all of your partners in the loop, especially when you are starting new relationships.

By way of illustration I have a partner whose husband became depressed because of health issues. He did some inappropriate things which I didn’t understand until I found out about the depression. And I will warn you; depression dissolves lots of the defenses and melts your self-esteem.

Depression and Polyamory are not a good mix.

As an example of communication there is an apocryphal story about a man in therapy who finally confessed that he always wanted to tie up his wife and have sex with her. He was afraid to tell her for fear she would divorce him and he didn’t want that to happen. The wife finally entered therapy and after many sessions confessed that she always wanted her husband to tie her up and have sex with her but was afraid to tell him fearing that he would want a divorce. Think about the joy these two might have shared if only they were about to be honest in their communication.

When I begin a new relationship I always make it a point to tell my other partners the details of my romantic life.

COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE

It has been said that successful Polyamorists are so busy communicating that they cannot find time to have sex.

VIII. NON-POSSESSIVE

No one owns anyone.

This supposedly ancient Chinese proverb sums up possessiveness:

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was. We do not possess anything in this world, least of all other people. We only imagine that we do. Our friends, our lovers, our spouses, even our children are not ours; they belong only to themselves. Possessive and controlling friendships and relationships can be as harmful as neglect.”

In Polyamory you must quickly learn to love with an open hand. Allow yourself to understand and accept your partner’s autonomy.

My partners have complete autonomy to establish relationships that work for them. Of course, I am free to voice my opinions but they are welcome to make their own mistakes.

Practicing Polyamory requires heaps of self-esteem!

IX. CONSENSUAL

Everyone knows what is going on in all the partners’ lives and everyone AGREES to what is going on.

If there is no agreement it is cheating. And if it is cheating then it is NOT Polyamory. It is cheating.

X. ACCEPTING OF SELF DETERMINATION

Understanding that each of us is different is essential. Encourging your partners to follow their own life’s path is mandatory.

Suppose, as for an example, your partner wants to explore BDSM and you have little interest and maybe even an aversion to this pastime. If they find a play partner for an occasional session of impact play or bondage you just have encourage them to do it safely and welcome them home.

I have members of my extended Poly family where she wanted to explore her interest in BDSM and he encouraged her to find safe ways to do this. For a year or two she had one or two sessions a month with a Dom, learned her limits, and eventually lost interest. They remain happily married and Polyamorous.

You must keep an open mind about your partner’s behavior since you have no control. Yes, you can voice your opinions and make your concerns and wishes known but expect disagreements from time to time. And disagreements can lead to disruption of relationships.

No one ever said that Polyamory is about perfection in relationships. Rather Polyamory is about honesty in relationships. Polyamorous relationships can and will fail, just like monogamous relationships.

I will be the first to tell you THIS IS NOT ALWAYS EASY, especially in the early stages of exploring Polyamory.

XI. SEX POSITIVE

Sexuality is, of course, a major part of Polyamorous relationships and all partners being in agreement on sexual matters is essential. Are all of your partners sex positive?

I have seen few descriptions of what sex positive means and here is my definition.

1. A sex positive person is comfortable with their emotional, spiritual, physical and sexual selves.

2. A sex positive person understands, accepts and tolerates their partners sexual needs, beliefs, practices, and yes, even kinks.

3. A sex positive person is open to exploration of a variety of sensual, intimate, and sexual experiences and freely shares their thinking with their partners.

4. A sex positive person can easily communicate their sexual needs to their partners — they can ask for what they want comfortably.

Communicating your needs to NOT have sex or participate in activities you do not desire is also sex positive.

Ask for what you want – sometimes you might even get it.

XII. COMPERSION

Understanding and embracing compersion is the essence of successful Polyamorous relationships.

I plagiarized this description from a web site now disappeared into cyberspace and I quote (in part): “Compersion is the opposite of jealousy. In simple language Compersion is the love we feel when others feel love. It is the pleasure we feel when others feel pleasure. It is that vast landscape of pleasure and intimacy beyond jealousy. It is the emotional expression that what we want for our loved ones more than anything is their happiness and fulfillment. Compersion recognizes people for who they really are rather than for whom we might want them to be. Compersion recognizes that autonomy, not control, is the way of the lover.”

Here is an example plagiarized from an entry by “birgittefires” on My Space April, 2008:

“Compersion is taking your fiancé out to buy flowers for the girl he’s wooing, and offering to help pay for the bouquet without being paid back when he finds one a little out of his price range… And feeling excited and happy for him when you’re sitting on the couch eating pizza and watching romance movies while he spends his first night over there… waiting up for him to get home from a late date so you can hear all the sordid details.”

It takes some time and some practice to fully understand and embrace the concept of Compersion.

IN CONCLUSION

Having considered these 12 pillars, you might conclude that Polyamory is just not for you! Polyamory is not for everyone. It works for some and is a disaster for others.

As you travel down the road to Polyamory, especially during the first few miles, do not exceed the speed limit – ever. Go slow! Speed kills.

The road to Polyamory is difficult since there are no roadmaps that are suitable for all. But the traveler, by studying and understanding and embracing the 12 Pillars of Polyamory will have a much easier journey.

Kenneth R. Haslam MD

14 June 2008