A compilation of research on children and polyamorous families. Continue reading “Polyamory and Children”
You think being a polyamorous person will erase all of your relationship woes? Guess again. If anything, being poly puts everything under a lens that allows everything to be discussed. Many will believe that they are not meant for poly because the same tragedies that plagued their monogamous relationship has in turn plagued their poly relationship. This doesn’t have to be true for you and the relationships that you form.
What’s great about being in an open relationship is that you have more control of your life. You’re not stuck in a situation where your options are limited. The concept of family and love is taking on a new identity, and I believe that it’s heading in a direction that will allow people of color more flexibility in the design of their families.
Poly encourages healthy dynamics in relationships. It’s a mirror reflection of what you put out in the world. You’re unable to hide in other partners because your issues will simply rise to the top. The connections you’ve formed will be strained if you don’t first take care of the relationship you have with yourself.
I’m a counselor by trade, so I highly advocate for people to practice some form of self care as they navigate life. Knowing yourself goes a long ways in figuring out what kind of poly relationships you desire. So I encourage everyone to look into taking the Myers Briggs personality tests and other scientific instruments that can give you insight into who you are.
Ask your partners, friends, and family about quirks of yours that stick out. It’s better to know your strengths and weakness so that you can educate your partners about the best way to communicate with you. Do some journaling about your past relationships and look at them without the concept of you being involved. Some exploration about who you are in relationships will give you better insight into what style of relationship will work best for you.
You’ll encounter heartbreak, passion, tears, joy, all of the emotions that are essential to the human experience. If you’re running away from those things, then you need to take a reality check. Poly is hard. Mono is hard. Life is hard. But learning to dance in the rain is what makes life worth living. Those moments when we are able to see the sun through the fog and realize that it’s all about our perspective.
Developing healthy relationships is my passion these days. And I want to help others have those healthy relationships with their partners, family members, and friends. The poly community is growing. I would love to see it become more popular in the black community. The economic hardships that face minority populations and low income folks would benefit from a more communal style of family and relationships. It could make a world of difference in the development of young lives. Think about the emotional intelligence of these children compared to what we currently see.
Just like we go through stages of our black identity, so does our identity as a poly person. Allow yourself the space and grace to make mistakes. Move at your own pace and educate yourself by reading posts, joining Facebook groups, etc. The only way to start finding out what you want from poly is to explore. Look at certain relationships and say, I can see myself in a relationship like that. Or vice versa. Personally, I could never see myself in a closed triad, but at some point in my life that may be a great option. It’s all about the now and what it’s doing for you.
Last but not least I want to reiterate the importance of self care. Schedule time to yourself as if it was a date. Just you and the universe. Interact with the world in a different way and bring the information you’ve learned back to your partners. It’ll make for a wonderful experience and promote growth amongst your polycule. Take care of yourself and others. Metta.
Check out more of Brian’s writings at www.cultivatingdopeness.com.
I like white women. Yeah I said it. Not only that, but I love women of all races that inhabit this earth. That’s why, as an heterosexual cis-gendered male, I do not have a preference when it comes to race. In my book, race shouldn’t matter. But I’m far too wise to understand that this hasn’t been the case. I understand that some brothers feel the need to only marry and populate this earth with melanted sistas. To a degree, I completely understand where this ideology comes from.
My personal marriage story ended pretty tragically, because I was trying to uphold an ideal of what black love is supposed to look like. Called myself trying to create an Obama family of excellence. Since that fall from grace, I took race and religion out of my love book. It’s not so much that I don’t value race and religion, but because of my own personal experience, I can’t fathom trying to design a relationship based on race alone. Now! With that being said, I do have a bar for my partners to leap over. I need to know their wokeness. How authentic is this person? Are they generally eager to understand the oppression that is faced by African-Americans in this country? Or do they use my friendship as a prop to show that they have that one black guy that they are cool with? These are the things that matter most to me personally. My future children will grow up with a black father and have black culture ingrained into their upbringing. That’s a priority that I’m not willing to budge on.
I wanted to write about this because in our Black & Poly discussion board, a member asked the question about if he was wrong for requesting that his wife only have relationships with black men. You are never wrong for voicing your opinion on something that speaks to your heart and core values. I would caution that you should give your wife the opportunity to explain if this doesn’t fit well with her core values. If you’re married, then I would assume that you share core values, but you must remember that she is an individual just like yourself. She has autonomy over her personal dominion, and there is nothing more beautiful than a black man who completely trusts his black wife to make decisions in regards to how they shape their polycule. Remember, she loves you, and she already wants to make sure she doesn’t rock the boat with the relationship.
Imposing unnecessary restrictions on people is a sure fire way to create an environment for deception and cheating. Try boundary language where you get to the root of your feelings. Rules can come off as feeling entitled and controlling. Rules enforce restrictions and make people feel stuck. Value her views as you would want your views to be valued also. May nothing but peace and happiness bless your relationships from this point on and forward. Metta.
Check out more of Brian’s writings at www.cultivatingdopeness.com.
"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?
You ever talk to a person and just instantly feel a kinship and ease with them? A comfort and familiarity. Warmth. That was exactly what my conversation with Ruby Bouie Johnson felt like. I had never met Ruby in person or online, and I was asked to get the word out about this dynamic polyamorous woman of color and to plug her upcoming event in July. Poly Dallas Millennium is her annual symposium about ethical and consensual non-monogamy with a special emphasis on the experiences of persons of color. I called Ruby on an early Saturday afternoon, and, in no time, we were chatting like old friends.
ES: “Hello! Such a pleasure to be speaking with you. Let’s dive in! How long have you been polyamorous?”
RBJ: “I discovered polyamory in 2010.”
ES: “Nice! And how many current partners do you have?”
RBJ: *Laughs* “Partner is such a loaded word! Let’s just say that I have many people that I love a lot that have love for me, but I am currently in one romantic relationship.”
ES: *Laughs* “I feel that! Makes sense. Tell me how you discovered polyamory.”
RBJ: “I met a gentleman while in recovery. He was recently divorced and didn’t want to be monogamous anymore; he was over it. He introduced the concept to me. I didn’t understand it. I had a territorial and possessive idea about love, that there wasn’t enough, that love was scarce. I struggled. We broke up but I fell in love with the community. Like minded people together, learning from one another and supporting each other. My first love was the community.”
ES: “Man, do I understand that. Discovering the swinger community had that same affect for me. I felt like I was finally around people who ‘get’ me. People I could really be myself with.”
RBJ: “And through polyamory, I discovered the kink community. Kink was always something that I held but hadn’t fully explored. There’s a large intersection of the polyamorous and kink communities. I burst open. I was like a kid in a candy store and no one judged me! I felt freedom from the abuse I had experienced in my life; I learned about consent. Polyamory was the catalyst for a life altering change for me. It aided in my recovery and in the evolution of myself. It was the liberation and the breaking of life long chains. I never thought I’d get remarried, and now I’ve been with my current spouse for five years.”
ES: “I felt the Spirit move on that one! What is polyamory about to you?”
RBJ: “Honestly, polyamory is as much about loving myself as it is about loving others. It’s about not judging ourselves for our wants and desires and not judging others for theirs. It’s a revolutionary act of love for me.”
ES: “That resonated with me. The biggest benefit of polyamory for me is the self-discovery. I have learned so much about myself and how to appreciate and accept and love ME. I feel like once I began to learn how to do that, it made it easier for me to do that for others.”
RBJ: “Exactly. You can’t do something for someone else that you can’t do for yourself.”
ES: “What would you consider is YOUR polyamorous practice?”
RBJ: “My approach to polyamory is an egalitarian approach. In my experience, hierarchy in my relationships doesn’t work, it doesn’t feel good. I don’t have a “primary” and “secondary” outlook for my relationships. There’s no up or down. I feel like an egalitarian approach is kinder. No one is made to feel like a second class citizen or disposable. I had to learn how jealousy works in order to learn how to be accepting and inviting of the people I am in relationship with.”
ES: “To me, egalitarian relationships are empowered relationships. People do better when they feel they have power and agency in their relationships. Tell me about your event in the summer! What is the Poly Dallas Millennium Symposium?”
RBJ: “The Poly Dallas Millennium Symposium started in 2015 as a workshop to educate clinicians about polyamory, kink, and BDSM. By 2016 it was over two days long. 2017, three days. Poly Dallas first provided a platform for a lot of folks of color to have their voices be heard. That wasn’t commonly heard of at poly conferences before: a large number of speakers of color.”
ES: “Even now, we are just starting to really make our voices heard as polyamorous people of color.”
RBJ: “This is the only event of this kind that caters specifically to persons of color and their experiences. It’s a labor of love for me; I pour my own personal resources into it because I believe in what we’re doing.”
ES: “I have heard some incredible things about the event.”
RBJ: “We have to be intentional about creating our own spaces. We need our black communities to come out and support. This may be the last year I am able to coordinate this if we don’t get the word out and get people coming.”
ES: “That is a major struggle. I live in San Diego where large communities of black polyamorous persons are scarce. It’s hard trying to get people to come together. We complain about not having our own spaces and representation but when we do, we need to do the work to keep them going.”
RBJ: “This year we have an incredible line up of speakers, including Kevin Patterson, author of ‘Love Is Not Colorblind’ and creator of the Poly Role Models blog, and Femnista Jones, blogger, activist, and author of ‘The Secret of Sugar Water’.”
ES: “I saw that you wrote the foreword for Kevin’s book! I totally fan girled out for you when I read it! It was really good!”
RBJ: “Thank you! Most people don’t even notice that that was me!”
ES: “What are some of the topics that will be discussed?”
RBJ: “The tagline for Poly Dallas Millennium is Developing Critical Consciousness, and this year’s theme is Rewriting the Rules. We’ll be talking about a wide range of topics from raising children in polyamorous families, dealing with grief and loss in polyamorous relationship, how to set proper boundaries for yourself, the intersection of race in polyamory, rewiring your personal triggers, and a variety of relevant discussions will be taking place.”
ES: “It sounds amazing; I can’t wait to go. It’ll be my first time attending anything like this! I’m excited. Before we close this out, any last words? A parting message?”
RBJ: “Yes. Come and support our event. Lend your presence and voice and experience. Come and learn and find community amongst other polyamorous people of color just like you. Black people are the game changers. We are an essential group, and we don’t realize our power, and once we realize our power, we’ll be unstoppable.”
The 4th annual 2018 Poly Dallas Millennium Symposium will be taking place July 13-15. For more information and to register, visit their website at www.polydallasmillennium.com.
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.
Love’s Not Color Blind by Kevin Patterson
THIS…..BOOK……RIGHT…HERE!!! (inserts slow clap) I’ve been waiting to read this since hearing about it last year. I thought, Finally Yesss, someone talking about the problems of race within polyamory and other alternative communities which I do belong in.
First can we just talk about the Forward by Ruby Bouie Johnson though??!!! Sis, really came through. Yup I’m about to be real black on this review. I already admire her from just hearing her speak on previous occasions within the poly community so when I read her forward it set the tone for the whole book. It fed my soul and made this atheist want to go back to my old church and do a praise dance and run a few laps around the sanctuary. That’s just how good I felt throughout this WHOLE book. Some of her quotes that got me were:
“A book about the polyamorous experience written by a black man just happened in 2017. This is a historical moment.”
“Black people have been spectators to the white experience long enough. Kevin fills a much needed gap in the literature within the poly community.”
I made a status update just 22 pages in about how this book was making me get my whole entire life, and it was. I had to nod my head to SO much in this book. So much that most people in the alternative communities don’t know about inclusion. I’ve personally experienced in the BDSM community both online and in real life. I’ve been one of the only few black women there who just so happened to have a friend (another black women who I refer to as my “sub sister”) there to support and have fun, but of course I’ve been met with the fetishization of me and my body as a black woman. Kevin speaks about this at length in his chapter on fetishization.
I’ve dogeared several pages that I wanted to talk about that really resonated with me like always being the “ambassador” of polyamory to my non-poly or mono relatives. It’s really irritating that I’m always that one, the face of polyamory so to speak. I know a few of my friends or relatives may say yeah Jai’s into that “white people shit” which he discusses in the book as well. I nearly died laughing when he said that because I’ve heard that about almost everything I like to do, but, oh well, I won’t take up too much time on that topic.
A few things that Kevin does that I absolutely love about this book is he says in the first few chapters of the book about how much privilege he has a cisgendered heterosexual male. He recognized the privilege he had right there, and that’s very important. Sadly, most non-POC can’t recognize how their racial privilege affects people. For the most part it’s a negative effect. I seriously wish I could post every single quote and thing that hit home. I just nodded my head through so much of it, like yup he gets it. He absolutely gets it. Some of the other topics he discusses are intentional communities, othering, white feminism in polyamory, and fostering inclusion in poly to name a few.
These topics definitely need to be addressed all the time, not just in polyamory and alternative communities. I don’t know how many countless discussion, journal entries and group posts that I’ve read in online forums about racism, stereotyping and fetishization. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs, but it is pretty common and of course those people who do it don’t even realize they’re doing it, and, when confronted, they make up every excuse not “to own their shit” as stated in the book. Hey, everyone can’t and won’t grow, I learned that a long time ago.
I’m going to end this review with another quote that resonated with me. “If you aren’t being actively inclusive, you are being passively exclusionary.”
The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple Partner Relationships and Families by Elizabeth Sheff
In my ever growing thirst for knowledge on polyamory and non-monogamy, I came across this book while browsing Audible. I have a monthly membership, so I’m able to purchase an audiobook with a credit. When I first saw the title, I was like Yessss! They’re finally talking about polyamory within a family setting and how real people navigate it.
Here’s a slight blurb from the Goodreads website about the book. “Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them. While polyamorous families are increasingly common, fairly little is known about them outside of their own social circles or of the occasional media sensationalism. This book provides information that will be useful for professionals with polyamorous clients, educators who wish to understand or teach about polyamory, and especially people who wish to better understand polyamory themselves or explain it to their potential partners, adult children, or in-laws.”
After listening to it, here are my thoughts on the book:
This book came about from 15 years of research in the poly community by the author. For those who continually say, “What about the kids?” when it comes to poly people, Elisabeth gave those real life questions important answers. I felt like her research was groundbreaking in the sense that very few books focus on poly households and the day-to-day lives of those families. I really liked that the author included LGBTQ people and their families in her research as well. One thing I was disappointed with is that there was virtually no representation of poly people of color, which I brought up to a friend who’s doing research on poly people of color. He stated, and I agree, that the poly community is divided along the color lines. Which I feel is very sad. All in all I’m happy that I read this book.
I personally don’t have any small children so this issue doesn’t affect or bother me but it’s important because of my other partners have children and this research and discussion is much needed.