A detailed look at effective techniques to get your points across regarding the polyamory community.
Usually there is no graceful way to segue into a sound bite. That's fine, reporters are used to nonsensical conversations when they give interviews. Whatever the question, respond with one of your sound bites. Repeat these sound bites over and over. Out of a 1/2 long interview, you will be on the air for about 10 seconds or quoted once or twice in a newspaper. So don't ad lib. Keep repeating these sound bites below, as well as any sound bites you and your organization agree to provide to the media about your event or local group.
You don't have to get all these in, sometimes it's best to pick a few and keep repeating them in different ways.
General Sound Bites on Polyamory
Polyamory is the desire for and conduct of responsible, non-monogamous, consensual, romantic relationships with more than one partner. Polyamory is different from cheating because of the honest communication between partners and lovers about their relationships.
Polys say theirs is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity just as monogamy is a relationship orientation and an aspect of personal identity for others, whether they are involved with anyone at a particular time or not.
Poly relationships take many forms. They may be open relationships where a two primary partners agree to have relationships outside their committed primary relationship, or they may be group relationships consisting of three or more people. Some group relationships are cohabitating relationships, others are not.
Poly relationships are formed between adults of all ages, races, genders and sexual orientations.
Polys focus on love, commitment and family just as monogamous people do.
Millions of Americans are looking for ways to spice up their sexual and emotional lives and get more of their needs met than is possible for them through traditional monogamy. The polyamorous lovestyle can be a consensual, safe, and gratifying way to strengthen healthy, caring, committed relationships and realize a greater abundance of love and companionship for all concerned.
Poly families often have more assets to support their families. More adults in the family means more income, less housing cost, and more help with child care and household chores. If a partner is ill or elderly, there are more adults available to help care for them.
Poly people are your friends, neighbors and co-workers--doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, and teachers--and there is no scientific evidence that polyamory is unhealthy for relationships or affects parenting skills. Polys are committed to their partners and consider the partners of their partners to be extended family.
Many Americans, even those who are married, structure their sex lives differently today than 50 years ago. Most adults are not married, and many families don't include two married heterosexual parents anymore.
The fact is that millions of Americans practice polyamory, and it is the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's mission to make sure that they can do so without fear of harassment, violence, or discrimination.
Latest research on Polyamory
Blumstein and Schwartz (1983, cited in Rubin & Adams, 1986) noted that of 3,574 married couples in their sample, 15-28% had "an understanding that allows nonmonogamy under some circumstances. The percentages are higher among cohabitating couples (28%), lesbian couples (29%) and gay male couples (65%)" (p. 312).
In 1976, Knapp administered a battery of standardized psychological assessment measures to a sample of polyamorous couples (Peabody, 1982). No significant differences were found between the couples in her sample and the general population norms. "That is, neither group was particularly neurotic, immature, promiscuous, maladjusted, pathological, or sexually inadequate." (p. 429).
Rubin & Adams (1986) found that after several years, there was no significant difference in marital stability (i.e. breaking up vs. staying together) between those couples who had been polyamorous versus those whose marriages had been exclusive. Similar proportions of each group reported happiness versus unhappiness, compared to the earlier sample. Additionally, "the reasons given for breakup were almost never related to extramarital sex" (p. 318).
In many cultures, polyamory is the norm, and many benefits of this lifestyle have been reported. For instance, in Nigeria it is said that "the sharing of responsibilities among members may greatly dilute the burden, financial or otherwise, of care for members with problems" (Makanjuola, 1987, p. 366). Venezuelan Yanomamo women who choose a poly lifestyle may not need to work as long on household and child-care tasks as their monogamous sisters do, due to co-operation between co-wives (Hames, 1996).
Is polyamory immoral?
Polyamory is the complete opposite of irresponsible promiscuity. Polyamory involves couples or groups consensually sharing playful loving life experiences--sexual and otherwise.
Research shows that most Americans support privacy rights for consenting adults to choose and practice safe, sane and consensual sexual loving relationships, regardless of marital status.
Of course many people prefer monogamy and aren't interested in developing intimate relationships with more than one person. Poly people aren't trying to convert anyone. We are adults living our lives how we choose, and no one has the right to dictate our personal choices.
What is the affect on Children?
If parents are happy in their intimate relationships, it helps the family. Happy families are good for children.
Some poly families are structured so that one parent can be home to care for the children while two or more other adults work outside the home and earn an income, thus providing a better standard of living for all concerned.
More adult caretakers means more people available for child care, help with homework, and rides to soccer practice.
Children thrive on love. The more adults they have to love them who are part of the family, the happier and more well-adjusted they are.
There is no evidence that growing up in a poly family is detrimental to the physical, psychological or moral well being of children.
Recently a legal case was heard in which a young child was removed from a polyamorous household after her grandparents petitioned for custody, on the grounds that the home environment was immoral according to the Bible. No evidence of child abuse or neglect was found, and mental health professionals found that the child was well-adjusted; but the child's family still had to fight a court battle in order to have her returned; and even then, the child was only returned on the grounds that one of the three parents move out (Cloud, 1999).
Benefits of Polyamory
People involved in polyamory in general, are better educated about safe sex and sexual responsibility. Often polyamorous social events offer educational programs about consent, communication, as well as safe sex education.
Polyamorists consider the practice of safer sex to be essential to the practice of responsible non-monogamy.
People involved in polyamory tend to get a lot of experience with communicating their desires, feelings, and boundaries. It's well-established that good communication builds healthy relationships.
Polyamory can meet more of one's emotional, intellectual, and sexual needs through accepting that one person cannot provide everything.
Positive elements to polyamory: increased personal freedom; greater depth to social relationships; the potential for sexual exploration in a non-judgmental setting; a strengthening of spousal bonds; a sense of being desired; a feeling of belongingness; added companionship; a greater abundance of love; increased self-awareness; intellectual variety; and the chance for new aspects of personality to emerge through relating to more people.
Challenges of Polyamory
People who decide to open their relationship to include others must be secure in the strength of their partnership bond, and comfortable in developing relationships with new people.
Jealousy is a natural emotion and is a signal that additional communication and negotiation must occur in order to keep the relationship healthy.
Polyamorous unions are not typically recognized by church or state, and spousal health benefits are not available for one's non-married partner(s). Many of the discriminations that the gay community faces are concerns for the polyamorous community as well.
Poly people often remain "closeted" about their relationships because of the social stigma involved, as well as fear of threats to job security and child custody. Poly people fear discrimination and persecution, so having to keep such a secret can cause stress in their lives.
Attacks on Polyamory
You really have to wonder what motivates people who would go to such extraordinary lengths to sensationalize someone else's private life. It's obvious that sex makes some people uncomfortable, and we think that these people should deal with their own issues instead of interfering in our lives.
This is not about sex, this is about a threat to our most basic constitutional rights - freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. The Supreme Court recently abolished Sodomy Laws because they violate Americans' fundamental right to privacy.
What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory
by Geri D. Weitzman
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by Joy Davidson, Ph.D.
Journal of Human Sexuality