As Valentine's Day approaches, poly in the media ramps up
Every year around Valentine's Day the polyamorous possibility gets extra media attention. Here are some examples so far.
More to love: how polyamorous relationships work (online February 7, 2018). Yuen has a book on the subject coming out next fall.
Thousands of Canadians are rejecting the idea that you can love only one person at a time. We spoke to Toronto author Jenny Yuen on why polyamory works for her.
By Michelle Da Silva
On Sunday nights, Jenny Yuen and her husband, Charlie, walk up the street to Adam’s house. The three of them cook dinner and then settle onto the sofa to watch a movie. ... It was a pretty typical date night for anyone in a relationship. The difference is that Yuen is in love with both Charlie and Adam (whose names have been changed for privacy), and all three of them are in a committed relationship.
According to the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, thousands of Canadians practice non-religious polyamory, which is when a person has more than one committed intimate partner at the same time.
The 36-year-old journalist and author of the forthcoming Polyamorous: Living And Loving More (Dundern, November 2018) says when she started doing research for her book, she found at least 100 Facebook support groups and online polyamorous communities.
“A lot of people I’ve talked to across Canada have different reasons for going into polyamory,” says Yuen. “Some of them feel like they’ve always been polyamorous. Then there are people who came to polyamory not because something was missing out of their relationships, but more for the variety.”
For Yuen, it was because she found herself falling in love with two people at the exact same time.... “Everyone’s always telling you that you have to pick one because that’s the only way we know how to do things, but I couldn’t choose,” she says. “It broke my heart.”
The future book cover
So Yuen decided to be honest about her feelings with Charlie and Adam. Surprisingly, they were both open to being in a polyamorous relationship.
“It was a workable alternative solution because everyone gets something, but everyone doesn’t get it all – except for me. I kind of get it all,” Yuen says with a laugh.
...Yuen told her parents, who told the extended family, and she came out to friends in a Facebook post in 2015.
“I did it on National Coming Out Day to clear the air about why there were pictures of me with two people,” she says. ... “We’ve always talked about the three of us being poly-fi, which is polyfidelitous,” Yuen explains. “Charlie and Adam actually call each other ‘co,’ as in co-partners.”
...Her advice to people considering polyamory is to join online and off-line communities (Polyamory Toronto hosts monthly meet-ups) and to be honest with their partner if they’re already in a relationship. Yuen says polyamory isn’t for everyone, but neither is monogamy.
“People need to find what’s right for them,” she says. “As long as monogamy or polyamory is a choice and not the default, I think it’s healthy.”
● Women's Health magazine: 7 People Share What Valentine's Day Is Like In A Polyamorous Relationship (Feb. 6). Separate quotes from various people:
– Kamala Devi, 42, lives in San Diego. She’s been married to Michael for almost 16 years. They have about a dozen other partners. “We tend to travel with lovers to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In past years, we've gone to the Bay Area for performance art or New York to visit friends and watch theater. Oftentimes there are lovers who can't celebrate with us, because of scheduling conflicts or other constraints, so we make an effort to celebrate on another date. We like to think of it more like Valentine’s Month."
– "Since becoming poly I really have internalized the realization that not all relationships will last forever or end in marriage, and that's okay. With that knowledge, it's much weirder to get someone a card that essentially says we will be together until death."
– "I was once dating six people who were also dating multiple people. We had to decide when and if we could physically see each other on that day or if another day that week was more plausible. Sometimes there were difficult feelings about who might get the actual day."
– "One of the best parts of being poly on Valentine’s Day is that there are more people telling you their feelings for you. It’s a great love boost!"
– "These days, I buy into the whole Valentine’s Day thing a lot less. When I was in a monogamous relationship, I placed quite a lot of stock into those kinds of rituals and they always felt a bit formulaic: demonstrate love with XYZ gesture, lingerie, and cards. Once you've broken the big rule of monogamy, it becomes easy and fun to break lots of little rules. For example, I like to buy one of my male partners flowers for Valentine’s."
– "You have to kind of accept that you'll never be able to equally distribute time across all partners. Sometimes that doesn’t even make sense — one of my partners isn’t really into Valentine’s Day anyway, so he'd find it strange if I went to great lengths to spend the whole evening with him every third year, for parity!"
– "All of us went to dinner, along with a couple of other partners that are connected to the group through my partners. I love it when there's an extended little circle of people hanging out."
– "I enjoy ‘silly’ holidays like Valentine’s Day, and I love celebrating them with multiple people. This past year I bought a monogamous-worded card for my husband and crossed some things out and re-wrote it to fit our marriage."
– Lola, 65, lives in Burlington, Vermont. She’s dating two women, both of whom have other partners. "We communicate everything up front, so we’re open about what we’re doing with our other partners that day without fear of retribution or disaster. The only complications are around expectations and scheduling. If someone has some deeper expectation of something special happening, and they don't make that request to the partner, there's room for ‘ouch.’ So it's an opportunity to grow our skills at asking for what we want or need."
– "There was definitely a competitive atmosphere among the girls I went to school with around whose boyfriend could produce the most romantic day of all, which made my unpartnered classmates feel unworthy. Looking back, I regret the power I let Valentine's Day hold over me. In my post-monogamy life ... my partners and I typically pool our resources and go in on a single excursion or indulgence that we all can enjoy. My partners and I also try to avoid feeding the capitalist machine around Valentine's Day if possible, so we don’t do many material gifts."
– Page, 36, lives in Cleveland, Ohio. She’s married to her husband and dates two women. Her husband dates one of her girlfriends, too. "The way I've typically celebrated is by having a big party near the actual date. All my partners are invited, along with their other partners, many of our friends, and those friends' other partners. We watch terrible movies and mock them, eat fried chicken, have drinks, and catch up with one another. It might be cheesy, but life is good and my relationships are so strong that every day feels like Valentine's Day. I know I'm loved year round."
● In the online women's magazine Hello Giggles ("part of the Time Inc. Style Collection and the Time Inc. Lifestyle Network"): Polyamorous couples share how they celebrate Valentine's Day (Feb. 6).
By S. Nicole Lane
...This will be Emilie’s first Valentine’s Day as a poly person with two partners. They say that “it’s so beautiful” to be in a poly relationship, and that all three partners share holidays, special events, and birthdays together: “It’s more complicated, and the planning is a lot more tedious, but in the end it’s all about love.”
While I am in a monogamous relationship now, I did spend three years in a poly relationship. In that partnership, I explored various ways of dating, celebrating pivotal events, and defining clear boundaries. It’s important to discuss your options with your primary partner. Since poly relationships come in all forms, with various dos and don’ts, it’s up to the people involved to create their own boundaries. In a poly relationship, especially a poly relationship with many partners, the people involved should remember to not make any partners feel unimportant. Discussing assumptions and expectations with a partner is considerate and important for a poly agreement.
Since couple’s privilege may cause a third partner to feel left out or abandoned, remember to discuss your plans with everyone involved in the poly relationship. Emilie explains that the term “primary” can be used to “create a perceived hierarchy among partners.” They continue, “I’m still working on finding my own language to describe my relationships.”
...“This year’s Valentine’s Day is about to be a damn dreamsicle,” says Emilie. Their partner is dating someone new and wants to spend the night, and since Emilie isn’t a night person, they are going out together earlier in the day. In the evening, Emilie is sharing time with their other partner. Emilie continues, “We will probably send each other selfies. We have a group chat on Facebook and it’s disgustingly adorable.”
● PrideSource Michigan: Be Mine…You, Too (Feb. 7).
Nicole MacRae, Doug MacRae, Dana Chase, Phil Chase and Rachael Feher. (BTL Photo: Andrew Cohen)
By Dana Chase
The other morning I was standing in the checkout lane behind a man who was buying two Valentine’s Day cards, each curiously turned faced down. ... After his strong assertion of monogamy, I felt moved to say “Not that there’s anything wrong with having more than one partner. I’m polyamorous and have multiple Valentines.” Blank stares from the clerk and the customer. ... I sometimes enjoy flashing my polyamorous identity, even more so during a holiday steeped in monogamy.
First, let me break it down. I have been legally married to Phillip for nearly a quarter century. We live in a big, love-filled house with Phillip’s girlfriend, whom I consider a kind of sister-wife. Together we are raising our two teenage sons alongside her teenage boy and eight-year-old girl. I am also partnered with Doug, who is married to Niki. They do not live with us, but Doug resides here scheduled nights of the week and his twins often join us at family gatherings. We consider ourselves chosen family.
People tend to view that which is foreign to them through an over-sexualized lens, thereby turning the exotic into the erotic. ... There are times when I hate having to painstakingly explain the sexual dynamic of our polycule, especially to those who have no idea whatsoever how to even begin to process what I take as a normal part of my sexual expression. Polyamorous people don’t have sex with everything that moves. We are, generally speaking, some of the most sexually responsible beings on this planet. ... Polyamorists have many of the same issues with labels as those who wave the rainbow flag. Small talk inevitably turns towards the family dynamic, and who is connected to whom.
...Tell me something: if a young girl knows the difference between polyamory and cheating, why can’t society see it, too? Rachael’s daughter tells all her friends about her polyamorous family. When one of them exclaimed “That’s cheating!!!” she replied “No it isn’t. My mom and Phil’s wife are friends on Facebook.” Which, of course, makes it all legit.
...After all, who out there can put a box around love? Or wrap it up in just one Valentine card?
Chase goes on to interview several of her partners about their (very sound) advice for newcomers to poly life. "Actively putting a face to polyamory for close to a decade, Dana has appeared at conferences, spoken to college classes and church groups, served on professional boards, and even held a feature spot on the evening news. She hopes to one day publish a memoir of her colorful polyamorous journey."
● And in the Vancouver edition of Canada's Metro newspaper: 'It's really just a dance:' Polyamorous community celebrates Valentine's Day (Feb. 8).
By Tessa Vikander
...“There's this kind of Google Calender lifestyle that you kind of have to adopt,” [musician Cass King] said. “Celebrating Valentine's Day or New Year’s or any sexy holiday is always a kind of a negotiation.”
...“I tend to form longer term love bonds,” explains King. “To me it's really a family thing. If we are in love, then you are a member of my family,” she said.
...In an effort to refocus the evening of Valentine’s Day as “a celebration of love, but not necessarily of coupledom,” King and her band, Cass King & The Next Right Thing, are playing a poly-positive show that’s open to everyone, including asexual people, and even monogamous couples, whom she encourages to attend.
“You don't have to worry about being hit on by a bunch of ravenous poly people!” she said jokingly. “It's really just a dance….”
Because King’s band is chock-full of poly people, they expect a big turnout from Vancouver’s polyamorous community. ...
● So why not use Val's Day to publicize your own group? Steve K. of Vancouver sends us a nice press release that the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) issued three days ago: Polyamory Continues To Grow In Canada. Wherever you are, you could copy much of its text for your own use. (Ask the listed contact person, Zoe Duff, for permission).
Labels: Valentine's Day