Get connected to the World Wide Polyamory Web!
Five years ago, Ron Young started Black & Poly with the vision of creating a space for black families to love and learn together. Now, 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.
"The Sharing Game" was designed by Dr. Arthur Aron as a way for complete strangers to develop close bonds or even romantic connections in just under an hour. This "game" explores vulnerability and transparency in a way that results in accelerated emotional intimacy, and interpersonal closeness with others through introspective sharing, and deep communication.
Originally written in 2013, Ron Young poses a series of question that may help you or your potential mates gain a better understanding of what you're looking for in a relationship.
Consider your Ideal Relationship
- Sum up your relationship in a quick sentence.
- How many partners do you have?
- What kind of connections do you have? e.g. primary, secondary, casual...other?
- How many partners would your partners have and how deep are the connections?
- Would all of your metamour be your lovers, too? Or would none of them?
- Do you or your partners have casual sex and/or swing?
- How important is this ideal to you, and how strongly do you pursue it?
- What sorts of poly relationships will you not get involved in, and what might you consider reluctantly?
- What nature of partners are you interested in? (sexual, BDSM, M/s, casual sex, casual play, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, live-in, take out only, shared only, only not shared)
- Do you have hierarchical relationships? If so, how does that hierarchy work? Are you open to a changing hierarchy or are you committed to keeping particular partners in particular roles?
For the following questions, assume you are having a difference of opinion or a disagreement with a partner.
- Do you address it or just let it go? What determines your choice?
- Do you prefer to talk about things immediately, or wait a while? If so how long? (days, weeks, hours, years?)
- Do you believe you should 'never go to bed angry?' What does that mean for you?
- How would you feel about your partner talking over these issues with someone else that you know (a friend or metamour or whatever)?
- If you reach an agreement, how can it be changed and how long is it in effect?
How You Work in Relationships
- How do you define "faithful," "commitment," and "cheating?"
- Have you ever cheated on anyone? Is there anyone in your past who would disagree?
- How do you manage your time?
- How long have you been actively poly? Do you consider poly part of your nature, something you are experimenting with, or something else?
- Do you actively seek more partners? If so, how? If not, how has your poly been realized? How do people become your partners?
- How do you feel about long-distance relationships? Live-in relationships? Local relationships? Do you have particular restrictions on what sorts of relationships you can have with someone you do not live with? How about someone you do live with?
- How do you feel about your partner embarking on new relationships after the one between you is established?
- How would you be most comfortable dealing with changes over time? What are your feelings regarding rules, boundaries, and limits, whether stricter or more open?
- How are you feeling right now? Explain as you would to a partner.
- What are three things that make you feel loved?
- What are three things that hurt you deeply?
- How can a partner support you when you're having a hard time?
- What do you do to take care of yourself?
- What kinds of emotional support are you good at offering?
- What are your ideas about spirituality? How do you think those ideas are a part of your intimate relationships? How do you accept, respect and deal with diversity around spiritual beliefs and practices?
- Do you have children? What are your policies and agreements about your or others' kids and poly? At what point, and in what context/role do you you want your partners to meet your kids? What kinds of relationship would you want to have, or not want to have with partners' kids?
- Do you want to have future children? Do you have thoughts on with whom and when?
- What will you do in the case of an unplanned pregnancy?
- Does what you would do or expect in an unplanned pregnancy change with the nature of the relationship? How?
- What range are you comfortable with, regarding the amount that you know about your partners' other relationships, and what they know about yours? Every sexual detail? Nothing except that the other partners exist and maybe their first names? Whatever the metamour chooses to share with you directly, but very little via your common partner?
- What kind and level of involvement do you want among your partners? Is it important to you that they get to know each other, like each other, and/or become involved with each other romantically or sexually? How flexible are you on these desires?
- Do you perceive your relationships as affecting each other? Do you keep them completely separate and work to see that they have no effect on each other? In what ways do you perceive your relationships having an effect on each other? How’s that working for you?
- If a partner breaks up with you, how would you feel if they kept seeing a metamour of yours?
- What is, or what would you want for your relationship to your exes? If you do not know, how do you think/want it would look? (For instance, do you stay friends, do you never want to see or hear from the person again?) How has that worked for you in the past?
- What is your transition/breakup style ? If you do not know, how do you think/want it to look?
- How long have your relationships lasted in the past?
- After the dust has settled on your breakup or transition, have you ever made an attempt to reach back into that relationship? Not for your selfish desires of wanting to rekindle things, but to find TRUE GENUINE COMPERSION and friendship in that person whether or not they hurt you or you hurt them?
Have you asked these questions of yourself and your partners? What would you add?
If you are looking to expand your poly connections, a Meetup is a great way to meet like-minded people. This article will give you suggestions for how to make the most of your experience in the real world of polyamory.
Find your group
Black & Poly has several official groups on Meetup.com. Check out our official list, and if you don't find one, try searching for “polyamory” on the site. Facebook also has groups geared toward in person meets. Read the group description carefully to see if it is primarily a discussion group, a dating group, or a social group. Outside of B&P, the majority of poly Meetups are majority white people, but you can still find people you can learn from and be friends with.
Go with the right intentions
Go to the first Meetup just to get an idea of the atmosphere. Be aware of the group rules and how they apply you. Interact with the leadership and long term members so that you have an idea of how the group operates. If you are more introverted, sit back and watch how people interact. Do most of them appear to be friends outside of the group? Does one person dominate the conversation? Do people have poly configurations that you are interested in?
Whatever you do, don't go with the intention of finding a date right off the bat. Things can happen, but seasoned poly folk are hip to people who only come to hunt. Avoid monopolizing the time of the person you find most attractive. leadership will notice if you are too focused on one person. Spread your attention across the room. This will give potential partners an idea of how you interact with others and the chance to make friends. This is especially true when you are at a mixed race Meetup. Feel free to make conversation with the other black people there, but talk to others to avoid giving the impression that you are part of a clique.
After you attend one Meetup, attempt to attend at least one other before giving up on the group. You may not like the vibe at one meeting, but you might enjoy it with a different mix of people. Attending other events lets the leadership know that you are there to be a part of the poly community, not just to find a date. Regular members become trusted members, and within time others may recommend people who you might be compatible with. You will also learn a lot about the different types of poly and common mistakes to avoid in relationships.
If you are a couple, try attending Meetups separately. Many poly people bring their partners to Meetups because they know they will have at least one person to talk to. However, you risk being viewed as unicorn hunters when you sit together the whole meeting and only talk to the same people. Separate yourselves and interact as individuals. Admit it if you are new to poly and unsure about process. Once again, do not try to pursue a date at your first Meetup. Have a conversation and tell them you hope to see them at the next one. If the person is showing interest, ask if you can contact them after the meeting. Do not assume that because someone spent time talking to you that they are interested in dating you.
But what about dating?
Once you have attended three or four Meetups, you will have a sense of the diversity and scope of the group. This is the time to focus on people you have a connection with. Keep an open mind: they may become partners, or they may become good friends. Try not to burden new friends with complaints about the dating world. Everyone knows finding compatible people is hard, and dwelling on it makes you seem desperate. Instead, talk about your shared interests and positive events from your life.
If you are a man or male-identified, do your best to allow the other person to take the lead. Women and femme-identified people are usually turned off by someone who asks a lot of personal questions, especially those related to their dating life and what kind of person they are looking for. They will volunteer that information if they are comfortable. If they like you, people will either seek you out at future events or ask for your contact information. That is not to say that you can't ask to contact them in the future. Just be aware that you may be misjudging their interest. If you contact the person a few times and do not get much response, move on.
The same rule applies for couples. Do your best to talk to different people at events so you are not seen as inseparable. Even if you are looking for a triad, learn from others about their poly styles and experiences. Never ask a woman if she is “single.” If she's at a poly event, she's most likely already dating or looking for open configurations. It's up to you to decide how to approach a person for a triad, but always be upfront about whether that person is going to date just you or both of you. Have that conversation after you have gotten their contact information and received a positive response back. Having this conversation at the Meetup will make the person feel cornered and uncomfortable, and the leadership may flag you as a possible bad fit for the group.
What if I hate talking to people?
Introverts are just as welcome at Meetups as others! Show your interest in being a part of the group by showing up to the events where you feel comfortable. Make an effort to connect to one or two people, and volunteer to help with something if that means you will feel less awkward. Follow the same advice if you are interested in someone as a partner. Ask if you can contact them later, or--if you are really shy--ask a mutual connection if they will contact them on your behalf.
Meetups are a great way to connect with your local poly community. You will not always find someone you're interested in dating--in fact, you may never meet someone who returns your interest. You will, however, build up a group of people who understand your situation and can provide advice or support. Leaders and regular members are highly aware of the people who show up at one meeting, don't find what they are looking for, and never show up again. Don't be that person. If the group is a good fit, stay active and be open to connections. The poly community is small, and your reputation will get passed around the more you are involved. That just might be the difference in finding fulfilling poly relationships.
What are your suggestions for getting the most out of a Meetup?
Last year’s surprise indie hit, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, tells the story of the polyamorous relationship between Elizabeth Marston, Olive Byrne, and Professor William Moulton Marston, creator of the iconic comic book superhero, Wonder Woman. Directed byAngela Robinson (Charlie’s Angels, The L Word), the film was released in October 2017 where it had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival and was well received by audiences and critics. It currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% with the site’s critical consensus reading, “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women winds a lasso of cinematic truth around a
fascinating fact-based tale with strong performances from its three stars.”
I was asked to review the film last year and had every intention of doing so but after grabbing one of my homegirls and seeing it in the theater, I couldn’t. I knew little about the story other than its validity and little about Wonder Woman herself, not having read any of the comics or watched the show as a child. After seeing the film, I wanted to know more; I wanted to know just how much the film got right and wrong, what was real life and what was Hollywood.
I was already minimally acquainted with the tale of Wonder Woman’s origins. Before this movie, another woman shed light on this remarkable piece of history in “The Secret History of Wonder Woman”, written by Jill Lepore in 2014. I purchased it right away…and then it sat onmy shelf and collected dust. I came home from the theater, dusted it off, and set to reading it that evening. Now that I have read the book and seen the movie, I feel I can give a more accurate review.
“Professor Marston and The Wonder Woman” as a movie is beautiful, poignant, sexy, inspiring. The cinematography is dazzling and the actor performances are endearing. Rebecca Hall, who plays Marston’s ferocious, witty, and brilliant wife Elizabeth, I found completely arresting; I would have fallen in love with her, too. Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne was sweet and beguiling but not just an angelic pretty face; she had depth and complexity. Luke Evans’ Dr. Marston was sexy but in a way that we don’t see often reflected in male characters; he was pensive, compassionate, a man who felt deeply. The onscreen chemistry between the trio was believable, as was the various struggles they faced both personally and in their outward lives as they sought to be true to themselves and what they felt for one another but wrestled with conventionality.
Set in the late 1930’s, the rich costumes are evocative of the pin-up era yet the movie had a modern feel. And the sex scenes? Very sensual and frankly, arousing. What I enjoyed most about it is that it transported me. It reminded me of what it was like when I was in a triad and falling in love, coming together, working through our issues as a trio, raising our children together. It made me nostalgic. It made me cry. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie experience–however the movie as a historical retelling? Not so much.
One of the things that nagged me about the film is that there is no concrete evidence that Olive Byrne and Elizabeth Marsten EVER had a sexual/romantic relationship. After reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman and doing my own research, I have come to the conclusion that either Elizabeth and Olive had little to no romantic involvement with one another or that they went to great pains to conceal it. I think it is likely the former. While I believe the women shared a very close and intimate relationship (Elizabeth named her second child, a girl, after Olive) and even though they lived together for nearly forty years after the death of William Marston in 1947, I just can’t bring myself to declare definitively that the two women shared anything more than a sisterhood.
In a Forbes.com article, Rob Salkowitz interviews Christie Marston, daughter of William’s son Moulton, who claims that she can say with about 99.99% accuracy that there was no sexual relationship between her grandmother Elizabeth and Olive Byrne, lovingly referred to by her family as “Dots”. According to Christie, “The relationship between Gram [Elizabeth Marston] and Dots [Olive Byrne] is wrong; they were as sisters, not lovers.” In an interview of the film’s director Angela Robinson with Vulture’s Abraham Riesman, Robinson said “I wanted to kind of be able to explore my own interpretation of what the story was,” and admitted that while she read extensively on Marston and his work, she did not include reaching out to family members with actual knowledge of the situation in her research efforts. In statements made by Christie Marston about Robinson’s artistic decisions in creating the film, “If she wanted to ‘explore her own interpretation’ she should not have used real people’s lives to sell her story,” and, “There are many real people who deserve to have their story told who are better subjects. In fact, there was a lesbian who was part of the family and part of WW’s beginnings; had AR done any research, she could have used the Marston and Wonder Woman names honestly.”
I agree. Yes, it made for a great film watching experience but it wasn’t the truth. It opened up this whole conversation for me about respecting the rights and privacy of a person’s life story, even posthumously. I think the director told the story that she wanted to have happened, not the one that did. I also think that the decision to cast Olive and Elizabeth as lovers was about mass appeal. FMF triads, with their current trendiness, make for a more titillating story. Plus, if they had just centered Dr. Marston as the pivot point of the relationship between the two women, it would have been far too redolent of polygamy, which is frowned upon as archaic and misogynistic in modern American society. I also think that it’s interesting to note that the director is herself a lesbian.
The story of the creation of Wonder Woman and the relationship between William, Olive, and Elizabeth, without any artistic flourish, is an extraordinary one. Even in 2018, living in a set-up such as they did is seen as odd, taboo, amoral even. The fact that they were shirking the societal conventions of marriage and monogamy in the 1930’s and 40’s is revolutionary. There was no need to put any extra sauce on it. It was a savory tale on its own.
My conclusion: It’s a great film but it’s just that, a film. A stirring and beautifully told story but a story nonetheless. I encourage everyone to see it but to go into it with the knowledge that you will be watching one person’s interpretation of a true story, not a factual historical depiction. I will say, though, that I watched it three times while writing this and will probably watch it once more before the rental expires. It hits me in all the feels. As far as films are concerned, Angela Robinson did a stellar job in creating this one. I could easily find myself in each character. It’s a touching tale of polyamorous love, heartache, forgiveness, and wonder.
I just started talking to a person that I’m interested in dating. When do I tell them that I’m polyamorous?
Polyamory is often described as a way of being, a “lovestyle,” and an orientation. In that sense, polyamory is as integral to our identity as gender, sexual orientation, and race. So when should you reveal that you are poly? As soon as possible.
Polyamorous people who date online usually state somewhere in their profile that they are polyamorous. It usually helps to weed out people who don’t know how polyamory works or know that they are monogamous.
For those that don’t read profiles, it’s important to tell them by the first date that you are in relationships with other people (or plan to be). Monogamy is the standard in the world, so many potential partners will be unaware that there is another option. Even if they are, it might be a dealbreaker. There is no need to waste emotional energy on someone who doesn’t view polyamory as a viable option. Let them know before the first date, and if not then, tell them during the first date.
Ways to bring up polyamory are to ask what they know about it, and then to describe your dynamics and correct misconceptions. You can throw the book (More Than Two) at them, or you can say simply, “I have romantic and sexual relationships with other people.” At this point, it is the potential partner's decision whether to continue dating you or not.
There are those who, upon hearing this, say they are down with polyamory but are lying. These people are intentionally or unintentionally dishonest because they want a relationship with you and believe they are good enough to become your primary or only partner. Beware of engaging with these people, but don't treat all potential partners with suspicion just because of one bad experience.
Polyamory is about openness and honesty, and by revealing your poly status as soon as possible, you are showing every potential partner that you believe in those values.
Having lived a poly lifestyle for over 10 years, I am familiar with metamour relationships. I have made both friends and enemies with metamours, so I have my own spidey sense when it comes to whether a relationship will work based how the conversation with the metamour goes. Many of you will disagree with my approach to metamour relationships, but I think this method promotes honesty and openness that is key to polyamorous relationships.
Step 1: Meet the potential partner. When I meet a new polyamorous person, I am interested in their personality, desires, and needs first. I have a specific set of needs that I look to fulfill in a partner, and I don’t proceed with a relationship if none of those can be met by the particular person.
Step 2: Ask about their other partners. I do not need to know their name, age, orientation, or even where they live. At first I just want to know that they exist. One sign of a healthy polyamorous relationship is that all partners are dating others (unless the metamour is mono). If one partner is dating and the other is seeking without success, that is a potential yellow flag to me. It is often difficult for men to find other partners immediately, so I make room for that possibility. A red flag is when my potential partner has not dated any other people or has only engaged in sexual activity with people and their current partner. To me, that indicates that the person is new to poly or ineffective at dating. It would take another post to explain why I don’t date people new to poly, but the short reason is that they may not be emotionally ready to handle the complexity of polyamorous relationships.
Step 3: Communicate with the metamour. I usually ask to communicate with the metamour when the potential partner and I have a good rapport going. I do not need to meet them in person ever, but I do want to know how they feel about their relationship with the other person. During our conversation I will ask how long they have been poly, what their poly style is like, and how they like their other partners. Red flags during this conversation are clear: if the person is not really interested in seeking partners, not sure they want to be poly, or only doing poly because their partner is, then that tells me my potential partner may not be doing a good job communicating and listening to their partner. It is difficult for me to be in relationship with someone who has not attended to the needs of their original partner. Another red flag is signs of codependency in either partner. As a recovering codependent, I do not have the emotional energy to relate to codependent people or their enablers. A good book to read if you are curious about codependency is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.
Step 4: Circle back to the potential partner. After I talk to the metamour, I want to know how the partner thinks about their current partners. Unless given consent, I don’t talk specifically about what the metamour has said to me, but I make my concerns clear if I have heard things that are red flags to me. I hope that the potential partner is willing to listen and work on issues with their partner, and at that point I may start dating them. If the partner ignores my concerns or doesn’t believe what their partner has told me, then I cross that person off the list. I am not a guru of poly, but I have been in enough relationships to know that someone who is unwilling to listen to feedback will be difficult to have a relationship with.
How do you interact with metamours at the beginning of a relationship? Are you interested in getting to know your metamours, or do you ignore them and focus on your partner?
Dear Unicorn Hunter(s),
We don’t hate you. Honestly many of us are looking for the same or similar result. I would take it a step further and suggest a lot of the ones rolling their eyes, right now at your, “We looking for our Queen” introductory post, have posted in a similar vein. Busted through the doors of the PolyWorld with the announcement that they were a happy healthy good looking couple looking for “Our Queen.”
If they were tactful, maybe they had the wife post it. She’s looking for a “Bff, Sister-wife, Soulmate for us to share.”
You know what? That’s dope.
When you consider the conservative traditions of Black Folk and romance, that is nothing short of a revolutionary act.
Now get over yourself.
Lucky enough for you, many a Beavis and Butthead couple made that same clumsy entrance into the Black polyamorous community before they realized that wait, this is a community. After all of those years perfecting the whole “couple that tries to pick up chicks together at the bar” act, they quickly realized they had to throw the whole damn thing away.
You know why? Because they are an actually VERY attractive couple. And folks think they’re cute. In this group there is a collection of the most woke, forward thinking people around. So when you say, “We looking for our Queen?”
They got questions.
What do you mean by Queen? Can your wife date? Alone? What are your thoughts on an OPP? Kitchen table? Hierarchy? What dynamic you claiming?
Don’t get it twisted, it’s OK not to know.
I mean that’s the whole point of having a COMMUNITY. The one thing black poly people love doing more than posting pics of their amazing curl patterns and obsessing about the Black Panther premiere is talking about being black and poly. They will recommend books, site experiences, and slide into your DMs with a Youtube link and a come to Jesus moment.
We have thousands of people coming to these spaces from every corner of the globe looking for a person to add to their life, and what they receive has nothing to do with romance. It is more of blessing than many had the good sense to ask for, because while we out here, “Looking for our Queen,” the foundations of a real community are being laid.
That fellow educator on the frontlines all the way across the country that inspires your lesson plans.
That brother your wife used to date but now you call when you going through it.
That couple that you never met in person, but you live for the pictures they post of their beautiful family.
That’s what you just stepped in to.
Not just a Facebook group or a dating page. This is something that took years, and experiences to build:
Personal, financial and emotional investments.
Being part of a community means you don’t have to make every mistake yourself, although we will give that first one. We silently smile to one another when you post that sexy pic of the two of you laying in the bed doing your best Jigga and Bey.
But after that, please know that have you finally have a group of people to talk shop with when it comes to being non-monogamous. People who won’t classify you as a creep. Some you won’t connect with. Others you feel like you have known them forever.
One way or the other, chances are you will make connections here, but it can’t be the same as rifling through the discount bin in the back of Burlington.
Take a look around. Get to know the people. The language. Make connections that aren’t transactional. Make it out to a few events.
What you will find is an expanded view of what ‘Many Loves’ means and who knows, you might just run into your Queen.