Polyamory and Children

If ever I were to defend polyamory it would be on the grounds that consenting adults should be allowed to sleep with whomever they please. Throw kids into the mix, however:

In theory, I should be writing another post on pregnancy. If I tried in this exhausted state, what would come out is my own emotions and reactions to my experiences of pregnancy in polyamorous relationships, not all of which were good. I guess if I were to sum up the badness it would be: it was difficult and hurtful for a woman who was supposed to be part of a quad with me, to want me to have nothing to do with her pregnancy, and then want to be heavily involved in my own pregnancy later that same year. Of course, that whole relationship was a disaster. None of us handled the situation well, and a lot of people were very hurt before it ended.

Imagine my surprise.

Probably the one who was hurt the most was my husband, who left the relationship, left behind me, his brother, and the two children of his heart who he now never sees, living half way across the country. Thankfully, and due to a series of very messed up circumstances, involving extended family, Division of Youth and Family Services, and a messed up legal system, the children had been living with my parents and had barely seen him for a year, as well as being young enough that now, three years later, they barely remember him, so they weren’t nearly as hurt as they could have been by his leaving. Though, sometimes, a few times a year maybe, my daughter asks for him.

This did not come out of a clear blue sky: it is a direct consquence of involving children in a polyamorous lifestyle. How do you think these kids are going to turn out?

And I suppose if this post has a point, that should be it. There are no legal ties to the children of our poly partners. And if things end, it can be so easy to walk away, so much less hurtful to leave them behind rather then see them constantly and be reminded of what we lost.

Well, yes. If the descriptions of polyamorous relationships are anything to go by, being able to just walk out the door with no responsibility is one of the primary attractions of the lifestyle. What you are describing is a feature, not a bug.

But if we chose to bring children into a polyam relationship, whether we are the biological parents or not, we have a responsibility to them.

If that were true you’d be keeping children well out of it. Instead, you choose to satisfy your own lifestyle desires first and try to shoehorn the kids in around them.

I hear it said so often in polyam forums that a relationship that ends is not a failure if it simply ran its course and everyone moved on . . . but, when you bring children in, whether they are born into the relationship, or brought in from previous relationships, we owe it to them not to let the end of a relationship with our partners, take us away from the children who also have a relationship with us.

So what’s the priority here? Your sex life or the wellbeing of the children? If the latter, why bring them into the lifestyle at all?

There is a little girl who called me her parent, and whose face lights up whenever she sees me, who is not allowed to spend time with me.

/facepalm

There are two children sleeping upstairs who have a father they will probably never see again.

/bangs head on desk

This is wrong, and I cannot change it. But I can hope and pray that those of you who read this, will do everything in your power to make sure these things never happen to the children in your life.

Because our children deserve better than this.

Yes, they do. So quit the polyamory, find a proper partner, and build a normal, stable environment to raise them in.

The more I read about polyamorous relationships the more I realise they are underpinned by a staggering degree of selfishness on the part of everyone involved. Except the kids, of course; they have no choice in it.

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Polyamory and Mental Illness

Via Twitter, I found this advice on talking about mental problems when in a polyamorous relationship:

If your partner is constantly battling suicidal thoughts and you want to talk about how they never do their share of the dishes, stop. Is it fair that you are doing most of the dishes? No. But they are literally fighting for their life and asking them to take energy away from that battle to hash out a schedule for the dishes isn’t fair to them either.

Being in a relationship with someone who is severally mentally ill (or physically ill, or sometimes just dealing with life shitting on them) means prioritizing. Yes, it is annoying as fuck that you are doing all the dishes. But who does the dishes is not as important as keeping everyone alive and healthy. Before you can fix the dishes problem, your partner needs to heal. That, as I have said elsewhere, takes time.

As is so often the case with stories related to polyamory, the example could easily apply to a monogamous relationship. This is probably deliberate, because it deflects attention from the serious issues that are unique to polyamory. Were the example to be specific to polyamory, it might read:

If your partner is constantly battling suicidal thoughts and you want to talk about how you want to sleep with your other lovers more often, stop. Is it fair that you can’t sleep with your other partners? No. But they are literally fighting for their life and asking them to take energy away from that battle to hash out a schedule for sex isn’t fair to them either.

Being in a relationship with someone who is severally mentally ill (or physically ill, or sometimes just dealing with life shitting on them) means prioritizing. Yes, it is annoying as fuck that you can’t be with your other lovers as often as you like. But having sex is not as important as keeping everyone alive and healthy. Before you can fix the sex problem, your partner needs to heal.

Putting it like that raises the obvious question: should someone who is mentally ill be in a polyamorous relationship in the first place, given the additional stresses and burdens such an arrangement inevitably brings?

Or is being mentally ill a requirement?

This post is part of the Polyamory and Mental Illness blog series.

One would almost think the two to go hand-in-hand.

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Men might want older women, but not for these reasons

Via a polyamorous community on Twitter I found this article on why younger men love older women. Now before I begin, there’s nothing wrong with a guy dating a woman a few years older than him and the older he gets, the less odd this becomes, i.e. a 40 year old dating a 43 year old is a bit different from a 16 year old dating a 19 year old. And while I really don’t care if Macron marries someone his mother’s age, let’s not pretend it’s very common. Here goes:

Confidence: The most appealing trait in anyone is self-confidence. Many older women have developed their own sense of style, and after years of growth both mentally and physically they’re comfortable in their own skin.

Firstly, this isn’t true. There are plenty of middle-aged women out there who are emotional wrecks, endlessly seeking validation in one form or another. Secondly, of those that are confident, many express it by being a complete ball-breaking bitch. Hardly what men are looking for, is it?

Frequently she’s financially independent and streetwise.

Women who date much younger men are streetwise, eh? And often they’re financially independent because they’ve cleaned out some poor sod in a divorce.

Younger men want to be with her because of the positive energy she emits.

Unlike twenty-two year old women who are just down on everything, I suppose.

Her self-assurance will have a reciprocal effect on the man too. He’ll gain maturity by being in the relationship. This will help build his character and make him feel good about himself.

It sounds as though sonny-boy is missing his mother.

Knowledge about sex and life. Older women have years of sexual experience with men of all ages. She’s had a lot of practice whether it was with multiple partners or one man. Being with a woman who can teach the younger guy a few new tricks is extremely alluring, especially to those who haven’t had many partners or experiences.

Sorry, is he after a girlfriend or a whore for the night? It is a myth that men are impressed by women who are filthy in bed in the early stages of a relationship. Contrary to the opinions of the buffoon writing this piece, having had “practice with multiple partners” is generally not considered an attractive quality in a woman. What men want is a woman who has some experience, but wants to learn more – with him. If a man can find a woman who is fairly innocent and train her up to be a rampaging slut in the bedroom but only with him – that’s marriage material.

The older woman knows her own body and what turns her on. She has the owner’s manual and shares it willingly with her partners. She’s self-aware and knows what she wants in and out of the bedroom.

Because mutual sexual explorations are so boring, aren’t they? Better to find a woman who knows exactly what she wants – and doesn’t want to do.

No game playing. Older women are done playing games. They are straight shooters and will be honest about what they want in the relationship and what they won’t accept.

Which is why they’re still single and trawling the internet for younger men.

 They will demand respect from the younger man because they respect themselves.

Nothing says a woman respects herself more than demanding respect from a lover half her age.

Typically the younger guy won’t need to worry about pregnancy prevention since the older woman will be equally concerned having already had her own children.

Leaving aside that she’s also probably incapable now anyway, I find that she has children of her own amusing. I wonder what they think of ma’s new boyfriend?

Communication. A younger less experienced woman may worry that if she shares her desires, she may lose the man. She may be embarrassed to tell a guy what turns her on sexually.

Most guys have a lot of fun finding this out rather than waiting to be told.

The older woman won’t shy away from offering advice on personal hygiene. She’ll encourage him to dress like a man – not a boy. This will spill over into other areas of his life, as he gets encouragement from people about his “new look.”

Handy for those men who are used to their mothers dressing them, I suppose.

The younger man can be free to be himself with an older woman. He won’t need to impress her with a fake bravado the way he might think a younger woman would expect. He’s with the older woman for companionship and sex without worrying that she wants something more – like marriage.

Oh yeah? What’s the woman’s view on this?

He feels nurtured and cared for by her, and doesn’t feel the demands of taking care of the younger more “needy” girl.

Some Oedipus stuff going on here, isn’t there?

He can be with her when he wants and their aren’t any obligations other than to have fun. Once the relationship is over, the resulting friendship may continue to last throughout their lifetimes.

Oh, I bet Mrs Robinson just loves that! “Sorry love, I’m here just to have fun (and for you to do my laundry), but we can be friends when it’s over!” A minute ago we were told she respects herself.

The younger guy may receive a great ego boost knowing that a hot older woman finds him desirable.

As a substitute for hot young women finding him desirable? Erm, no.

The older woman will come to expect a certain amount of emotional maturity, which if achieved, will have a great effect on the younger man’s confidence with all women.

I doubt it: he’s spent the whole time being spoon-fed in the bedroom and told how to dress.

His friends may originally question the relationship but ultimately envy him.

This may be true, but is dependent on his sharing the sex stories and the arrangement being very short-lived. Meaning a month, tops.

Some guys may end up finding their life partner in the older woman, whereas others may move on to be with women their own age or younger.

Leaving the older woman to die alone with her cats. Funny that these financially secure, confident, worldly-wise older women won’t be able to see a flaky younger man coming, isn’t it?

Naturally, this was written by an older woman, one who clearly hasn’t got a clue about men. In her defence she is a widow, so didn’t choose to be in this situation.

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Polyamory and Children

Apparently – and this comes as a complete surprise to me – polyamorists have difficulty convincing other people their arrangement brings about an environment suitable for children. One Gracie X laments thusly:

Six years ago when my husband and new boyfriend all decided to cohabitate under the same roof– I felt pretty smug. I had created a situation where I got to have my husband of 20 years and a new lover as well. We converted our single-family home into a duplex. My husband and his new girlfriend moved into one side of the house, while I lived on the other side with my new man, Oz.

Sounds idyllic. Who’s in charge of the laundry?

But not everyone was thrilled for us. When Oz, told his ex-wife he was giving up his apartment permanently to move in with me, she slapped him with a custody suit. She was determined that their two children would never live in my home. She accused us of all kinds of perversities and insisted the household was unsafe for their children. During the hearings, we were basically investigated for being polyamorous. Thus began my painful education into the fears and bigotry surrounding my alternative chosen family.

Well, yes. Whereas this lady might have been okay with her kids spending time with their father and his new girlfriend, putting them under the same roof as another two adults about which she knows nothing and have no connection to the children whatsoever is a different question altogether. I have a friend who is a single mother, and she would never leave her kid alone with one of her boyfriends, and when the father moved another woman in with him, my friend insisted on meeting her just to get a feel for the sort of woman her daughter would be spending time with. All was fine, but she checked anyway. Sensible woman, my friend.

But even after Oz’s children moved in, we all felt vulnerable. Until there are laws that protect polyamorous people, swingers and those with any openness in their marriage—we are unprotected from people who would use our sexuality to attack us.

They probably couldn’t care less what you do sans enfants, but when kids are involved it becomes another matter entirely. That’s not to say that no polyamorous people should be allowed to have kids, but they ought to expect additional scrutiny of their child-raising environment. That this came as a surprise to Gracie X speaks volumes.

Your sexuality does not determine your effectiveness and goodness as a parent. One mistake we made was trying to justify and explain our lifestyle to the courts. In hindsight this further put our sexuality on display. Better to do just the opposite. Focus on your excellent parenting skills.

Shift the focus off the sexuality, she says. Okay, but:

Utilize local LGBT organizations for legal strategy. Gay rights activist groups have already dealt with the kind of situations and bigotry that you may be confronted with in court.

In other words, make your sexuality an issue. And that’s the problem: polyamory is about sex, despite what its practitioners say. I think these days most people would concede that being gay or lesbian is not a choice, much less a lifestyle choice, but polyamory – which is basically a term to describe how people’s sex lives are organised – can’t possibly be described as a natural condition over which the participants have no control. I hesitate to call it a lifestyle choice because, from what I’ve seen and what others have told me, it is more of a coping mechanism. The reason why people concentrate so much on the sex part of polyamory is because that pretty much defines it: leave the sex out and you have the guts of what most functioning adults enjoy anyway.

Get letters of recommendation from teachers’, friends, co-workers, anyone who has witnessed your parenting and can accurately describe your parental strengths.

I wonder what percentage of polyamorists could get these?

When I look back at this time it was one of the most stressful of my life. I was on edge for the entire two years that we were embroiled with the courts and their appointed evaluator. Reach out to your support network, find ways to calm yourself down and deal with your stress. It’s extremely challenging to deal with the courts and even more so with the potential of losing your children– my heart goes out to anyone going through it.

Makes you wonder if the kids were considered at all, doesn’t it? All of this stress could have been avoided by not getting into a cohabiting polyamorous arrangement. I’d love to see how they turn out.

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The Benefits of Polyamory

Last month the Metro carried an article on polyamory in which they asked the question:

What are the benefits of a poly relationship?

The answer:

You can experience a unique and lasting love with more than one person, which opens you up to lots of different experiences with multiple people.

You can do this without having sex, unless those “different experiences” are having sex.

If you’re feeling down, or need support, you’ll have more than one loving partner to turn to – which will add increased comfort and reassurance.

When in need of support, is it really necessary that it comes from more than one person you’re having sex with?

It’s also a good setup for those who like to get creative in bed – with everyone being into different things in the bedroom, a person who wants to try lots of things can get experimental with more than one person, and learn things from multiple lovers.

Ah, it’s mainly about sex, then. I’ve noticed this before.

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Another attempt at normalising polyamory

Via TJ in the comments, the mainstream media has another go at normalising polyamorous relationships. This time it’s the BBC:

Prof Aviram said she found little appetite for marriage among polyamorous groups when she first started her research in 2004 but she began to see a change around 2012.

Prof Aviram believes changing attitudes may be due to wider acceptance of same-sex marriage around the world, making way for new taboos to be broken.

“Perhaps in the 1970s, same-sex marriage was as unimaginable as group marriage is today,” she says.

When same-sex marriages were legalised, some folks warned that it would put the institute of marriage on a slippery slope to mockery and obsolescence. Reading this, they may have been onto something. Of course, for many people this was the whole point.

[28-year-old DeAnna Rivas] suggested to her husband, Manny, that they start experimenting with another woman in 2014.

After the birth of their second child, DeAnna was struggling with depression and felt she could not get enough emotional support from her husband alone.

“I was so unhappy I couldn’t express my feelings to him. I had another part of me that was missing.

“When we met Melissa it just felt right.”

DeAnna, an art teacher, now lives with both Manny and 20-year-old Melissa James; they share incomes, childcare and household duties, and a bed.

So at twenty years old this Melissa is apparently mature enough to decide getting into a polyamorous relationship with a married couple with kids is the right thing to do. Here’s my prediction. Within a few years Melissa will be out of the relationship and will either:

1. Angrily defend her past choices, screaming abuse at anyone who questions them backed by a veritable phalanx of middle-aged feminists with green hair and neck tattoos. She’ll double down on the stupidity and learn nothing.

2. Write this off as youthful naivety, deal with it, bury it, and move on. With luck, she’ll go on to lead a normal life.

Manny, 30, says some people are upset by the relationship – a previous employer even threatened to sack him as a result – but others are intrigued.

Can we hear from Melissa’s father, please? Or did he walk out when she was 12, which would explain everything.

If things are going to change, there need to be more role models to show people that polyamorous relationships can last long term, she adds.

Manny Rivas says he “would love for us to be able to get legally married and show people there’s nothing wrong with it, show people you can make it work.

Getting married would show us only that the legal system in the US can be manipulated in the interests of social engineering. What would show people polyamorous relationships can work is an interview with three partners who’ve made it work over three decades and whose grown-up children are normal and speak of a happy, stable childhood.

Oddly, these media puff-pieces praising polyamory are remarkably short on such examples.

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Macron, Putin, and the term “LGBT”

Lefties on social media were all wetting their knickers last night at the news that French president Emmanuel Macron “stood up” to Putin at their meeting in Versailles by labelling Russia Today and Sputnik of being “organs of influence and propaganda” against his campaign.

Judging by some of the comments, one would think Macron wrested back control of the Crimea rather than complained about media outlets. Others think this shows that Macron has far more backbone than Donald Trump who didn’t confront Putin over Russia’s meddling in the US election (possibly because he, like most of us, is still waiting for evidence that they did). It seems that in Macron the progressive media has found a new darling to replace Obama, and we can expect them to write endless puff-pieces every time he says something. Whether they’ll report honestly on what he actually does is another matter entirely.

But Macron’s criticism of RT and Sputnik isn’t what I want to talk about just yet. I am more interested in this part of his speech:

French president Emmanuel Macron says he has urged Vladimir Putin to ensure that the rights of LGBT people are protected following allegations of a crackdown on gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Macron added that President Putin told him he had started a number of initiatives with regard to the Chechen LGBT community. Previously, Putin said he would talk to the prosecutor general and interior minister regarding an investigation.

I have watched a video of the original speech and Macron uses the term LGBT, not gay men, which appears to be the norm among progressives these days.

One of the things I find quite strange is that gay men appear to be quite content to be described as LGBT, lumping them in with transsexuals. The reason I find it strange is because in doing so they will find it a lot harder to be accepted in places like Russia where they are having a tough time of it. I can understand it on one level: progressive gay men in the west who enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else want to show solidarity with another minority group who aren’t as well accepted. But throwing your lot in with a much smaller group that isn’t as well accepted might not be the smartest approach for gay men in the long term.

Despite the best efforts of progressives backed by an entire grievance industry, transsexuals are not anywhere near as accepted by the general population as gays, and this applies anywhere (even Thailand). Part of this is because of what the population is being asked to accept. With gay men, we are simply asked to accept that some men prefer other men to women and not to punish them for following through on those desires. In this modern age, most people can and do accept such a request. But with the transsexuals we are being asked – nay, told – to accept that a man can become a woman by changing their clothes, mutilating their genitals, or simply by deciding they are a woman. Even reasonable, open-minded people are struggling with this because it feels as though they are being forced to accept something ridiculous in the name of social justice. Furthermore, we are not being asked to merely accept that these people are different, we are being told to address them in the manner they demand and that they are entitled, among other things, to use whichever bathroom or changing rooms they please.

Even in enlightened places such as the USA and UK there is a considerable rift opening up between what the progressives are demanding and what the general population is happy with on the subject of transsexuals. Your average middle class dad doesn’t mind gays and probably wouldn’t have his life ruined if his son turned out to be gay. But he’s never going to be very happy with a 16 year old boy wandering around the changing rooms where his 14 year old daughter gets in and out of her swimming costume.

By throwing in their lot with the transsexuals, I think gay men have scored a massive own goal. Macron talked to Putin about the “LGBT community” in Chechnya. Let me put Le President straight on this point, if you excuse the pun: there is no LGBT community in Chechnya. There are gay men in Chechnya and they are being treated abominably, but there is no LGBT community in the way the term is understood on, say, an American university campus. If Macron (or anyone else) wants to help gay men in Chechnya they should refer to them as gay men, not wrap them up in terms of a community that simply doesn’t exist. He has now handed Putin a perfect excuse not to do anything about it: he can come back and simply say that he went to Chechnya and couldn’t find this LGBT community of which Macron spoke.

But that’s only half the issue. Unlike us in the west, the Russian government appears to have little interest in browbeating its population into accepting gays and trannies. Therefore the only way gays are going to see their position in Russia improve is if the general population learns to accept them, and by far the best way of doing that is to demonstrate that they aren’t much different from normal folk and it’s really nobody’s business what they get up to in private. I suspect a lot of Russians would be on board with that: despite the hostility towards gays in Russia, most middle class Russians aren’t about to go gay-bashing and I’m not even sure they approve of the skinheads doing it. From the ones I have canvassed in my social circles, it is more a question of them rolling their eyes and laughing a little rather than foaming-at-the-mouth hatred towards gays. I’d say Russians are somewhere around where the UK was in the 1960s, with the new generations becoming a lot more tolerant than the last.

But what Russians are a long, long way from accepting is the idiocy that is being rammed down the throat of westerners regarding transsexuals. Gay men they might accept, but men “choosing” to become women and demanding to use women’s toilets, no. One of the most effective arguments authoritarian government use to repress gays is one which suggests that turning a blind eye to gays results in a slippery slope of degeneracy which can lead to outcomes nobody wants or expected. Unfortunately, these arguments can be amply supported by pointing to intolerant, ridiculous cases in the west, such as the man who recently got arrested for heckling Caitlyn Jenner or the Christian bakers.

Macron’s use of the term LGBT may have won him praise in liberal circles in the west, but it will not have helped gay men in Chechnya (or anywhere else in Russia) one jot. When Putin returns home he doesn’t need to explain to the Russian people that Macron asked him to stop bashing gay men; he can instead say that Macron asked him to ensure the rights of transsexuals are upheld. Most Russians will have no idea what this even means, and those that do will be quite sure they don’t want that to happen. The end result is ordinary Russians will feel under no obligation to push their government to end the bashing of gay men, and some will even think it necessary.

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A tragic end to a polyamorous relationship

I am indebted to commenter Nikw211 in this thread at David Thompson’s for this story:

A member of YouTube’s skeptic community has been arrested in the fatal shooting of a woman, who has since been identified as his female YouTube co-host. Better known as “RDP” or Skeptic Feminist on social media, 29-year-old Aleksandr Kolpakov was arrested by police and is currently being held in Mesa County, Colorado jail on suspicion of second-degree murder.

The victim was identified this Monday afternoon as 31-year-old Heather Anable, a co-streamer in Kolpakov’s videos who viewers knew as “Ivy.” The coroner’s office ruled her death a homicide. Anable was shot multiple times in the neck and chest.

I saw something breaking on Twitter last night about this and couldn’t work out what was going on, so I lost interest. Or rather, I did until I found that Kolpakov and his victim were in a polyamorous relationship with another of their co-hosts of the Skeptic Feminist channel. Here is a video of Anable spelling out the virtues of ‘committed polyamory’ while Kolpakov sits beside her.

According to Twitter, Kolpakov is a US Army veteran and suffers from PTSD as a result of his service in Iraq. As Nikw211 remarks:

I find it quite hard to imagine how the particular stresses and strains involved in living in a polyamorous relationship would have been helpful for the stress levels of someone with an already imbalanced mental state.

Whether Kolpakov has PTSD or not will no doubt be confirmed or otherwise in his trial, but it seems almost certain that he did shoot and kill his lover. For a trio that made themselves vaguely famous by telling everyone that their polyamorous setup was full of advantages and based firmly in love this is a rather ironic ending, albeit tragic.

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Normalising Polyamory

In the comments under a previous post on the subject of polyamory, Tui noted:

Once trans issues become passé, poly living will be the hot new fashion. Gotta keep the sexual revolution chugging along, after all. I’ve seen a few more enthusiastic pieces over the last year or so trying to stir up interest.

Tui wasn’t wrong. The New York Times is but the latest mainstream publication to ask:

Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

Let’s see.

Daniel, then a 27-year-old who worked in information technology…

Now this may not be relevant, but both the former partners of the polyamorous woman I knew worked in IT. And it goes without saying that they, like the people in this article, lived in New York.

But as with any happy marriage, there were frustrations. Daniel liked sex, and not long after they were married, it became clear that Elizabeth’s interest in it had cooled. She thought hers was the normal response: She was raised by strict Catholics, she would tell Daniel, as if that explained it, and she never saw her own parents hold hands, much less kiss. It was not as if she and Daniel never had sex, but when they did, Daniel often felt lonely in his desire for something more — not necessarily exotic sex but sex in which both partners cared about it, and cared about each other, with one of those interests fueling the other.

So a man gets married and soon gets bored of banging his wife and wouldn’t mind sleeping with other women. How very unusual.

Elizabeth, baffled by Daniel’s disappointment, wondered: How great does sex have to be for a person to be happy? Daniel wondered: Don’t I have the right to care this much about sex, about intimacy?

Woman frets over whether she’s making her man happy in the bed. Man belatedly realises that getting married impacts one’s sex life. This is some groundbreaking stuff right here.

Occasionally, when he decided the answer was yes, and he felt some vital part of himself dwindling, Daniel would think about a radical possibility: opening up their marriage to other relationships.

Man fails to understand that being married is a trade-off.

He would poke around on the internet and read about other couples’ arrangements. It was both an outlandish idea and, to him, a totally rational one. He eventually even wrote about it in 2009 for a friend who had a blog about sexuality. “As our culture becomes more accepting of choices outside the norm, nonmonogamy will expand as an acceptable choice, and the world will have to change as a result,” he predicted.

Some of us are incapable of holding down a normal, functioning relationship and attempt to address severe self-esteem issues with meaningless sex. We demand the rest of society approves of our lifestyle.

He was in his late 30s when he decided to broach the subject with Elizabeth gingerly: Do you ever miss that energy you feel when you’re in love with someone for the first time? They had two children, and he pointed out that having the second did not detract from how much they loved the first one. “Love is additive,” he told her. “It is not finite.”

He’s using his wife’s love of their children in attempt to convince her to let him go and shag other women. Lovely.

He was not surprised when Elizabeth rejected the idea; he had mostly raised it as a way of communicating the urgency of his needs.

Man tells wife about his need to shag other women, wife doesn’t take it well.

Elizabeth did not resent him for bringing it up, but felt stuck: She was not even sure what, exactly, he wanted from her, or how she could give it.

Yes, she’s confused: that’s what happens when you’re stuck with a manipulative shit of a husband.

In the fall of 2015, Elizabeth met a man at a Parkinson’s fund-raiser. Joseph … asked her to tea once, and then a second time. They understood something profound about each other but also barely knew each other, which allowed for a lightness between them, pure fun in the face of everything. They met once more, and that afternoon, in the parking lot, he kissed her beside his car, someone else’s mouth on hers for the first time in 24 years. It did not occur to her to resist. Hadn’t Daniel wanted an open marriage?

Woman rejects concept of open marriage but cops off with a bloke offering her tea at a charity bash. Remember, these polyamory types are perfectly normal, just like you and me.

Elizabeth did not announce that the friendship was turning romantic, but she did not deny it either, when Daniel, uneasy with the frequency of her visits with Joseph, confronted her. That she intended to keep seeing Joseph despite Daniel’s obvious distress shamed him: He was suddenly an outsider in his own marriage, scrambling for scraps of information and a sense of control.

Man who wanted an open marriage fails to understand it’s a two-way street.

This was not at all what Daniel had in mind when he proposed opening the marriage.

No, he thought he’d be banging waitresses and cheerleaders. Instead he’s been cuckolded.

They had not agreed on anything ahead of time; they had not, as a couple, talked about their commitment to each other, about how they would manage and tend to each other’s feelings.

That’s because they weren’t in an open marriage: he suggested it, she said no, and then she went and had an affair. Hubby is now playing catch-up and trying to apply labels which don’t fit.

“It wasn’t like we had a conversation about it,” Daniel said the first time I met him, in April 2016, when they were just starting to put that painful period of their relationship behind them. “It was more like: This is what I’m doing — deal with it.”

Wonderful. What a lovely couple. I’m at a loss to decide who is the bigger selfish, narcissistic, shit here.

Elizabeth’s intransigence, and Daniel’s pain, had brought them back into couples therapy. After several months of surveying the situation, which seemed to be deadlocked, the therapist told them in early March 2016 that she thought they were most likely heading for divorce.

I wonder how much they paid their therapist before she reached this conclusion?

For several nights following that therapy session, they talked in their bedroom, with an attention they had not given each other in years, sitting on the strip of rug between the foot of their bed and the wall. The sex, too, was different, more varied, as if reflecting the inventing going on in their marriage. Elizabeth was still someone’s wife, still her children’s mother, but now she was also somebody’s girlfriend, desired and desiring; now her own marriage was also new to her.

Hmmm. I think the journalist ought to have expressed a little skepticism at this point, don’t you?

When I met Elizabeth and Daniel, Elizabeth had already received Daniel’s permission to keep seeing Joseph

She was seeing him anyway, IIRC.

Daniel was contemplating how he might, in turn, meet someone.

I bet he was. Like a lot of middle-aged men who bail on their marriages in the hope of getting hot and sweaty with pretty young things, he found the reality to be somewhat brutal. I only hope he didn’t grow a pony tail and start wearing hoodies.

Their marriage had already strained to accommodate another person, someone whom Elizabeth would meet while Daniel was at work, whom she texted in the car while her husband drove.

This must do wonders for the self-esteem, which likely wasn’t very high to begin with. I wonder how his “love is not finite” analogy is holding up at this point.

But Daniel said he was past the point of fear. “Basically you could say maybe we loved each other before all this — but maybe we were just asleep. And maybe being asleep is more dangerous and worse to you as a person than what’s going on right now. I want to be married, and I don’t want anything to happen to us. But I have no idea what would happen either way. Would you rather be asleep and have things fall apart? Or rather be alive and have things fall apart?”

Yeah, that therapist really helped, didn’t she?

“The new monogamy is, baldly speaking, the recognition that, for an increasing number of couples, marital attachment involves a more fluid idea of connection to the primary partner than is true of the ‘old monogamy,’  … Within the new notion of monogamy, each partner assumes that the other is, and will remain, the main attachment, but that outside attachments of one kind or another are allowed — as long as they don’t threaten the primary connection.”

In short, the “new monogamy” accepts “But she meant nothing to me!” at face value.

The spectrum of those attachments included one-night stands and ongoing relationships; as she understood it, honesty and transparency, rather than fidelity, were the guiding principles underlying the healthiest of these kinds of marriages.

I wonder just how healthy the healthiest of these marriages are?

The couples did not perceive their desire to see other people as a symptom of dysfunction but rather as a fairly typical human need that they thought they were up to the challenge of navigating.

Well, yes. Everyone would like the freedom to fuck whoever they want if the opportunity arises, but that’s something you give up in order to be in a relationship. You hope that the overall benefits of being with one person are greater than being single and free to do what you like. Nobody says monogamy is easy, but it’s a trade-off. If you could get the benefits of a monogamous relationship without the downsides, everyone would do it.

Terms have long existed for arrangements similar to those she was seeing — they could fall under the category of polyamory, which involves more than one loving relationship, or the more all-encompassing term, consensual nonmonogamy, which also includes more casual sex outside of marriage or a relationship.

Polyfuckery would be a better description for a lot of these arrangements. Or simply shagging around.

Divorce, or not marrying in the first place, might seem like a more logical response to a desire for openness. But even as marriage rates have declined in this country, the institution has retained a seductive status for Americans.

People still believe in marital arrangements that have gone on for millennia. Who would have thought?

And yet the tradition is nonetheless at odds, he argues, with the country’s emphasis on individualism, a tension that leads to high rates of divorce but also to remarriage, with worrisome outcomes for finances and children.

Ah, this old chestnut: traditional marriages often fail so polyamorous ones are worth considering. What nobody ever does is closely examine the rate at which polyamorous relationships fail, the mental state of the people involved in them, and the effect on any children unfortunate enough to be caught up in them.

And yet open marriages — and to a lesser degree open but nonmarital committed relationships — are still considered so taboo that many of the people I interviewed over the last year resisted giving their names, for fear of social disapprobation and of jeopardizing their jobs.

Here’s my own position: I have no objection to consenting adults doing what the hell they like, but don’t try to sell me polyamory as a viable option for those seeking a normal, functioning relationship.

It is no surprise that most conservatives would perceive the concept as a degradation of marriage, of a key foundation of society.

And you know what, perhaps they’re onto something?

But even among progressives I talked to, the subject typically provoked a curled lip or a slack jaw. The thought bubble, or expressed thought: How? How could any married person be comfortable with, or encouraging of, a spouse’s extramarital sex? The subject seemed offensive to many at some primal level, or at least ridiculously self-indulgent, as if those involved — working, married people, people with children — were indecently preoccupied with sexual adventure instead of channeling their energies toward, say, their children, or composting.

An admission, at last, that those who practice polyamory are rather different from the rest of us and are capable of mentally accepting things which most people would find abhorrent.

It was several months after he posted his profile that Daniel went on a date with a woman he met on the site, someone who was also in an open marriage. … Drinks flowed, and around midnight, Daniel found himself in a Ford Explorer, kissing a woman who was not his wife for the first time in 25 years.

Two middle-aged people copping off in an SUV on the first date after meeting online. Anyone who thinks polyamory lacks class better think again.

They were still making awkward conversation at a bar when a woman sitting nearby asked how long they had been together. Daniel and his date exchanged glances; Daniel shrugged, as if to say: “Go ahead.” “He’s married to someone else,” his date said. “I’m married to someone else. We’re on our first date.”

The first rule of polyamory: advertise it to the whole world.

Susan Wenzel, a therapist in Winnipeg, Canada … felt equipped to manage the arrangement, and she and her boyfriend cautiously agreed that they could see other people, so long as those relationships remained casual. Susan did not feel it detracted from the strength of their relationship when she started seeing someone who is, like her, an immigrant from Kenya. But when that faded and her live-in boyfriend started dating someone, she found that jealousy hijacked the relationship.

Meaningless extra-marital sex with African immigrants have detrimental effects on the marriage. Who knew?

She sought therapy with Nelson, working by Skype to identify the source of her own jealousy.

I have no words…

She also had two young children from a previous marriage who lived with them…

Lucky them. And let me tell you how surprised I am to find that a practitioner of polyamory has a feeble track record in holding down a lasting, stable relationship.

She eventually wrote her boyfriend’s female friend a note of apology, adding that she had resolved a lot of her own insecurities.

All perfectly normal, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

The chief adjustment she and her boyfriend made was the one that seemed the least likely: They married, a year and a half after they first opened their relationship. Her boyfriend felt, for the first time, happy to commit to a woman he loved, knowing he had the freedom he wanted; and the symbolism of marriage gave Susan enough security that she could grant him that freedom, and exercise it herself.

Or, more likely, it was a vain attempt to put  a veneer of respectability on a degenerate lifestyle that was causing them to be shut out of ordinary society.

In August, Elizabeth and Daniel made a road trip to a Lower East Side bar in New York to attend Poly Cocktails, a monthly event founded in 2007 for people who are interested in nonmonogamy, or practicing it.

A pickup party, in other words. Not exactly low-key types these polyamorists, are they?

For the most part, the socializing was studiously nonsexual, but a young woman with a retro look — red lipstick, baby-doll dress — was flirting with a tall man in a sleeveless T-shirt, a 45-year-old dad from brownstone Brooklyn, a musician with a corporate day job.

Brooklyn. Where else? And what’s the betting the girl in question has some sort of severe Cluster B personality disorder and enough daddy issues to fill a book? Can we come back and see how she’s doing in ten years time?

Elizabeth and Daniel had ostensibly come to be among people who would not judge them.

Meaning, form opinions as to their chosen lifestyle and characters.

Instead he spent most of the evening talking to a married woman who complained that she felt underappreciated by the crowd at the bar.

Woman who goes to a party for those who practice indiscriminate sex feels underappreciated.

Conventional wisdom has it that men are more likely than women to crave, even need, variety in their sex lives. But of the 25 couples I encountered, a majority of the relationships were opened at the initiation of the women; only in six cases had it been the men.

Sorry but…

When I last wrote about polyamory I said:

It is almost a certainty that the men in a polyamorous relationship will be noodle-armed omegas of hipster persuasion. On the odd occasion this rule doesn’t apply, he will be an astonishingly ugly, middle-aged man with a pot belly and wearing bad knitwear.

Look at the pictures in the article then tell me I’m wrong.

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Lambing

There’s a thread over at Tim Worstall’s about sheep breeding, and I’ve thrown in my contribution as usual. The thing is, I know a bit about this (I grew up in Wales, after all) and this isn’t the first time I’ve described it. So just for the hell of it I’ll turn it into a blog post.

Firstly, to get sheep to breed you need both ewes and rams. With me so far? Good. A flock of a hundred or so ewes can be serviced by two or three rams, no bother. If you ever see a ram you’ll notice it has enormous bollocks for such a small animal. There are reasons for this. Normally you’d keep the ewes in one field and the rams in another waaaaaaaaay over the other side of the farm, otherwise your lambing season is going to be somewhat lengthy. When the right time of year comes around (autumn, I think) you send the rams in and they get to work. But before you do that you strap a large, rectangular crayon to their chests using a nylon harness, with each ram getting a different colour. This is for keeping score. When the ram mounts a ewe and starts humping the crayon leaves a mark on her back. At the end of a few weeks the farmer can see which sheep have been humped and which remain un-humped, and see which ram has been putting in the hard yards and which has been loafing under a tree snoozing. If a ram isn’t pulling his weight, chances are he’ll be replaced for the next season with one a little more enthusiastic. So if ever you wake up captured by aliens with an odd crayon strapped to your belly, you’ll have an idea what is expected of you to survive.

At some point later on, I forget when, the farmer may enlist the services of a guy who, for a per-sheep fee, uses one of those ultrasound machines you find in antenatal wards to determine how many lambs are inside each ewe. I’ve watched somebody do this and how he can determine anything from the grey mess that appears on the screen is beyond me, but we wrote down his predictions against the tag number of each ewe and his predictions were bang on. At this point the farmer will be paying close attention to which ewes are not “with lamb” and what colour mark is on their back. If too many ewes with red crayon marks are not carrying lambs, then that particular ram is out of a job for next season. If all the ewes with a red mark are carrying lambs except one or two, then those ewes might be barren. We’ll see next year.

Lambing season starts sometime in spring and you prepare a lambing shed which is warm, dry, and divided into pens. You keep your flock in a field nearby and when any is showing signs of imminent birthing (I have no idea what the more subtle signs are, but forelegs sticking out the back of a ewe is not unheard of) you catch them using a pickup truck and a young, fit, and slightly idiotic local boy who for some reason likes farms and get them into the lambing shed. You then wait for them to give birth, and this can take a while so sometimes the shed is rigged up to CCTV and fed back to the farmhouse. I should point out that all of this is what went on back in the early-mid 1990s, so perhaps things have moved on now and there is an iPhone app for all this. Anyway, when a ewe starts to give birth it usually needs human help.

This is particularly the case with multiple births: most ewes carry two lambs, three is common, four less common, and occasionally five. Single lambs are common enough but a little disappointing from the point of view of the farmer. Ewes often struggle to give birth and so somebody must assist by grabbing hold of the protruding forelegs and giving them a yank. If the lamb is facing the wrong way around then somebody must roll up their sleeve, wash their arm in soapy water up the elbow, reach in, grab the legs, and yank it out. I have never done this myself but have held the animal when this was being done many times, and I was about 12 or 13 years old at the time. No city boy, me.

Sometimes when you pull a lamb out it is not breathing, and you need to try to revive it. First you tip its head back and clear its airway of mucus, and then you stick a piece of straw up its nostril. This will sometimes cause it to sneeze and it will start breathing. If that doesn’t work you grab it by its hind legs and swing it in an arc (taking care not to smack its head against a wall or something) so that its head is flung back and air forced into the airway. I swear I’m not making this up, but don’t take this as a manual for what you should do: ask a vet. You do that a few times and then massage its heart. Sometimes it will cough into life, other times not. If not, you get the corpse away from the mother ASAP: you want her attention focused on the lambs that survived.

Even distribution of the lambs is important. A ewe may feel overwhelmed by more than two or three lambs and you’ll notice straight away if one is lacking attention. If so it stands a high risk of being abandoned, and ewes are prone to lying on top of their unwanted young and smothering them. So any that is looking like an outcast is taken away and an attempt is made to wean it onto a mother with only one lamb of her own. This is done by taking the afterbirth of the adopted mother and wrapping it around the foster lamb immediately after she has given birth in the hope that she will smell it and be tricked into thinking it is one of her own. This works surprisingly often and the lamb is adopted and looked after. If she doesn’t fall for it then you have an orphaned lamb, which is immediately thrown to a pack of hungry dogs you keep outside just for this purpose. Nobody has time or patience for orphaned lambs.

I’m kidding, you don’t do that. The orphaned lambs – nicknamed “mollies” on the farm I used to play around on – are kept in a separate pen under a strong heat lamp, and cared for by hand. If you have a farm dog that is female, chances are her mothering instincts will kick in and she’ll lie in beside them. When kids come around wanting to see the lambs, these are the ones you show them because there are no protective mothers and they are used to human contact. You might have to wrap them in towels for a while, and two or three times a day you feed them warm milk from a bottle of the exact type you use on a baby. These things are as cute as you can imagine and feeding them is a lot of fun with lots of “Aaaw!” sounds being made. You can put milk on your fingers and get them to suck so hard you can almost lift them off the ground (they don’t have teeth yet), and they are still so small you can pick one up in each hand easily. They can stand up within about an hour of being born, but they are very unsteady on their feet at the beginning. This only makes them cuter.

When the weather gets warmer and the lambs a bit stronger, they’re kicked out into the field where you see them playing and my experience with lambs converges with that of everyone else. I did a lot of this sort of stuff when I was a kid, and you don’t forget it.

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