Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ask Dr. Helen on PJTV: Threesome Marriages


Do you think it's hard having one spouse to contend with? Now, imagine having two or more. Sasha, Janet and husband Shivaya were featured recently on their threesome marriage by The Daily Beast. Sasha, a psychologist, and Janet Lessin share more about their story with me in this PJTV interview-- what is polyamory?, why is it popular among baby boomers and how do people react to their non-traditional marriage. I would love to hear your views in the comment section.

But first, you can watch the interview here or click on the picture above.

Update: You can also read more about Polyamory at the Lessin's website at World Polyamory Association.

Labels: ,

50 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

Probably a bad idea in general. Not only would it skew the gender ratio of available spouses if widely adopted, a trio makes inter-family politics potentially very nasty as any two gang up on the third.

4:07 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

Quoth that sage of human relations, the late, much lamented Jimmy Durante: "Solomon? Envy him? Who wants to see a thousand pairs of stockings hanging in the bathroom when he gets up in the morning?"

But seriously, I consider polygamy and polyandry a bad deal for both sexes. We bond best in pairs; when there are others in the bag, we're never quite sure who holds what allegiance to whom, and of what priority. That having been said, both arrangements have been legal de facto since prosecutions for adultery and fornication faded away. The Republic hasn't crashed from it; somehow, I doubt it will.

4:50 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

"There's a lot of ruin in a country.".

The Republic hasn't fallen *yet*. How many more keystones can be knocked out before it does?

5:04 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Tether said...

"We bond best in pairs; when there are others in the bag, we're never quite sure who holds what allegiance to whom, and of what priority."

-------------

Yeah, I know what you mean. Every married man is 100% sure of his wife's loyalty to him.

5:33 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Eric said...

For a variety of reasons I'm unlikely to do that personally. But I have to say that I admire people who can work out the logistics in such a way as to be happy, which these folks genuinely seem to be. I would not deny them their right to live that way, and I don't know on what basis other people would, other than the assertion of tradition.

I'm not sure about getting the legal system into enforcing polyamorous relationships in court, though. It seems like a can of worms. (Three way divorces?) My reaction is to keep the state out of it.

5:38 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Novaseeker said...

More will be coming, I think, in the form of polyandry, rather than polygyny, as women truly begin to outstrip men everywhere in the economy except the tippity top. That will create reverse incentives for both men and women. As Guy Garcia wrote in his book, "The Decline of Men", last year: men are the new women.

5:39 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger BeltainAmerica said...

The odds of them working is slim. The only way is if it is a long term union between the women and they married the man. I can only speak to F-F-M threeway union I know nothing of the other combination.

Having been involved in two three-way relationships that could be counted as "Long term" one of the women always begins to feel that urge to move on. Usually they meet a man and want to try for a one on one thing with them as the dominant female.

I have also witnessed several other three-way relationships that all ended with the same scenario. So no scientific study but enough for me to form an opinion.

Also it seems that when a woman is added into an already formed male-female relationship the second female typically does not take the relationship as serious as the two original members.

For what its worth just my observations on them from limited experience.

5:40 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger jamused said...

Some of my closest friends have been in a poly relationship (FMM) for going on fifteen years now, with kids and everything, and it seems about as stable as the most stable couples I know. What I mostly think is that it isn't anybody else's business and I don't really care whether somebody thinks that on the whole it would be good or bad for society, any more than I care about the opinions of people who worry about mixed race or faith marriages.

7:09 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

Right on jamused! And while we're not getting involved in anyone else's business let us review some other outdated relationship restrictions!

"Age of consent" is sooo demeaning of young people, don't you think? And what's up with that taboo on incest? You can always kill any defective embryos, right? And you know...animals are people too!

Down with limits! Screw "society"! "Morality" is just a cynical tool of the Patriarchy to keep us from living Free of Constraint! To get in touch with our True, Inner Natures!

If it feels good, do it! There's no such thing as "consequences", and all restrictions are equally invalid!

Yeah, that's the ticket...

7:17 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Aurelian said...

I gotta ask jamused: Did you use your entire brain cell to figure that out?

7:50 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

Shivaya's situation is the answer to the old riddle "What's the penalty for bigamy?"

8:17 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

I have several Mormon Polygamous ancestors. Mainstream Mormon polygamy happened during the Victorian Era and was largely engaged in by people who didn't understand the hypocrisy of Victorianism (in other words, they really believed it, didn't treat it as a no-ask-no-tell arrangement.) One result of this is that my ancestors and their peers didn't really talk about polygamy. That said, when she was old my great-great-grandmother was asked how she felt about polygamy. All she said was that "she did her duty." Based on this, reactions from other ancestors and reading extensively on the subject, I've determined that a small fraction of people can handle a polygamous relationship without some strong religious belief backing it up, the rest endure it. The Mormon theology gave them the strength to do it. I imagine the same thing happens with Muslim marriages.

* * * *

I ran across an article several months ago from a swinging proponent who bluntly stated that once a couple starts to swing, a divorce will happen within seven years. He argued that too many people who swing are doing it as a effort to fix a failing marriage and it doesn't work.

* * * *

A friend lived on a true communal property Kibutz in Israel several decades ago. What he found fascinating is that despite the ideals, people pared up, kids cared about and strongly identified with their biological parents and people moved into sexually stereotyped work roles, though he did find it refreshing that those who wanted to be non-traditional were allowed to be so. In the end, though, he concluded that the whole experiment was a massive failure.

9:17 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger Dan said...

@ Jason: if you honestly can't see the difference between more than two consenting adults in a relationship and having no age of consent, you have some issues you need to be looking at.

As long as I don't have to watch, consenting adults can do as they darn well please. I have a friend of mine who's in a "triad" and it has a perfectly obvious fatal flaw that will cause its dissolution at some point: in any conflict in a triad relationship, it's always going to end up as two against one. Unless the results of those conflicts are very evenly distributed, it's going to get messy, and one person is going to be feeling on the outs.

9:37 PM, August 13, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

I have no problems with gay civil unions or adult polyandrous unions. I cannot support marriages in these cases, but civil unions are not a sacrement and not my business.

Trey

12:37 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Polygamy is not for me, but I'm not going to mandate what happens in another home.

8:06 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger sykes.1 said...

The reasoning behind Griswold v. Connecticut eliminates any government regulation of consensual sexual relations between adults. Poly-anthing, gay marriage and prostitution will eventually be legalized everywhere.

As a libertarian, I could care less. However, I'm not willing to pony up any cash to bail these people out if their choices lead them into disaster.

8:37 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger msierk said...

Notice that children are usually not the primary focus of discussions about polyamory, etc. Yet children are the primary focus of the institution of marriage over the centuries - specifically, who had the responsibility to care for and raise the child? It's always been the biological parents, for obvious reasons. Polyamory specifically makes this obligation ambiguous.

There is a reason that the modern world has a standard of monogamous, lifelong marriage (various violations of the standard notwithstanding), and much of the third world doesn't. You cannot build modern liberal democracies and modern market economies on polygamist, polyandrous, or even clan-based societies.

I also think it's one thing for libertarians to argue against prohibitions on various sexual behaviors & relationships; but the public debate we are having isn't about prohibitions, it's about explicit recognition of relationships by the state. The state has no interest in recognizing same-sex relationships, or in polyamorous ones. It does have an interest in recognizing the biological, legal, and cultural relationship known as marriage, because that is where the society propagates itself.

9:42 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger msierk said...

The people Dr. Helen interviewed commented that they "want to be able to walk down the street". As if they can't walk down the street holding hands right now. Many SSM proponents say similar things. They want to force acceptance of their lifestyle by using the power of the state. Not a very libertarian impulse, yet many libertarians accept the logic.

9:44 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

No man may serve two masters. He will hate one, and love the other.

9:56 AM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger Whiskey said...

My guess is most of the polyandry as opposed the polygamy unions are made up of gay men. I don't see this as a sell for most men: "share your wife with another guy!" Yeah that will go over big.

Men have, historically, killed without reservation or restraint to monopolize a woman's sexual favors. This is particularly true of Western men, who generally don't tolerate the sharing of women.

Now, as Mark Steyn says, for Polygamy there will far more takers than gay marriage. Already NYC's welfare offices have a policy of not referring polygamous arrangements to the authorities for prosecution, including welfare fraud, allowing polygamous husbands to claim multiple welfare benefits for each wife.

Reading 19th Century contemporaneous literature with Mormon polygamy, the objections then (expressed very violently) were that the Mormon elders would abduct non-Mormon women and sexually enslave them in polygamous marriages to feed the ever-expanding need for more women, polygamy being by it's nature predatory on non-polygamous groups. Given that there is a limited supply of women, and ten wives for a Mormon Elder in the 19th Century meant nine Mormons went without any wife. Thus had to abduct them from other men outside the Mormon group.

Twain, and Arthur Conan Doyle, had this in a number of their writings. With the scarcity of women in the West anyway, you can imagine why Mormons were hated outside their dominant areas, and never trusted.

I would say the big threat is polygamy. While it's unlikely that Muslim men would echo those of 19th Century Mormons in abducting (or being accused of abducting) women from other groups, even small numbers of women voluntarily marrying Muslim men in polygamous marriages is bound to create large amounts of resentment by non-Muslim men.

Given the overall negative environment for male marriage prospects among younger men. I fully expect to see those sentiments expressed -- they always are.

12:58 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger iconoclast said...

Whiskey...women tend to be attracted to men who look like winners. As Western civilization continues to show increasing uncertainty and weakness..and this is reflected in wimpy behavior of individual men...Muslim men, with their absolute belief in their religion and culture, will look increasingly attractive to women.

Conquerors generally have their pick of women, and some women will not wait for the actual conquest to jump sides. Ironically this will happen first/most among elite college women.

1:26 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger The Soothsayer said...

Well, as a word polyamory means 'multiple loves'. Polygamy is one man with multiple wives, whereas polyandry is one woman with multiple husbands. It is worth noting that only monogamy, one husband and one wife, has ever created a sustainable and advanced civilization.

There is a reason why Jesus sanctified marriage as the highest sacrament in His church. Because that's what's best for men, women and children. But people have been complaining about it ever since.

In our current culture, which denies the fundamental differences between male and female, encourages divorce in the name of female liberation, at the expense of children no less, and with our current legal system, which makes it profitable for women to divorce and forces men to pay child support for bastards that are not theirs, the destruction of the sacrament of marriage is almost complete.

I see this as re-primitization. If I had to describe the polyamorous, polygamous and polyandrous relationships, I would call them monkey existence.

2:17 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger ransom147 said...

"And you know...animals are people too!" whoever upthread said that is ridiculous.

animals have no legal rights, as such they cannot enter into contracts.

children have rights, but still can not enter into contracts. they have the right to be shielded by the law from predators.




msierk: as a libertarian i can tell you i don't give a rats ass who walks down the street together.

also i believe as many people as would like to enter into consensual contracts, that's their business. the notion that this somehow forces something on you has a name.

bigotry


hope you enjoy your hatred. me i'm a straight male in a relationship/ with one woman. but i missed out on the hate gene.

your argument for the traditional family would carry over just as well at any KKK meeting, and is not dissimilar to there arguments for racial purity really it's reminiscent of the way some people justified slavery. just wanted you to know what company you're in.


Soothsayer:

"It is worth noting that only monogamy, one husband and one wife, has ever created a sustainable and advanced civilization."


dude you have a copy of the old testament right? i suggest reading it. you are aware the earthly lineage of Christ goes back to King David? is it your contention that the egyptians, the romans, the hebrews and other ancient societies did nothing to advance civilization?

that is either the stupidest or most ill informed statement i've read in awhile.

if your really that ignorant of history or your own religiion i feel sorry for you. if you do know the history, then your in the same category w/ msierk.

6:31 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger IronShrink said...

Hi Helen! I also took shot at polyamory recently. Not literally, but vicariously through writing. Alas.

http://www.ironshrink.com/articles09.php?artID=090708_polygamy_monogamy

Shawn

7:39 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger IronShrink said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:39 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

I have a difficult enough time just looking at pictures of two different women at once.

8:12 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

So what do we need to do here? Since marriage is deemed by some posters as only between a man and a woman, do we need to punish those that want to lead life any other way? Throw them in prison? Behead them? Maybe we can all collectively agree that these man-woman believing posters are right and sing their praises for being so correct and superintelligent. Tolerance and consideration be damned! More government in our bedrooms please.

Next we can legislate sexual positions and ban bedroom toys and porn.

9:15 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger Siobhan Phoenix said...

In the polyamourous community (which I am a part of) - Children are a big focus. In fact many children benefit from multiple partners - We live in a family of 3 adults, 2 of us are involved with each other (wqe both happen to be women). The other person who lives with us is not sexually involved with us, but is part of our family. He is the male influence in my son's life. My son benefits by a third person in our family, regardless of whether we are sexually involved or not.

As a libertarian, I simply don;t believe that anyone should judge the relationships of someone else. - 2, 3, 4 ,10, or 20 partners. I think that so called "marriage protections" should be available to everyone, people should be taxed individually, people should be allowed to enter into whatever relationships they want.

The government should stay out of my bedroom and my relationships. Period.

11:22 PM, August 14, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

I wonder, in say the case of one man and two women, that the women aren't the best of friends, and end up in some sort of competition.
Who matters more legally? The one who married the man first? Is she entitled to more of the estate?

But say the man dies and the women are left. Do they "stay together" in the marriage? Are they considered married to each other after the man dies? Were they considered married to each other before when he was alive? Is it considered a marriage between the two wives at all, or just "joint custody" of the newly deceased and his assets?

How does that work, I wonder?

7:56 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

BR549:

I haven't been in one of these 3somes but I would assume every situation is different and dependent on the people involved.

8:17 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Siobahn, is the male in your special relationship the biological father of your son? Which of you two females had him, if either? If you and your partner split up, would the biological mother have more "rights" to your son than the non-biological other mother, were that the situation? Did the sperm come from an anonymous male ( or otherwise artificial insemination), or through copulation? (wondering about emotional involvement) In the event of your relationship ending, do you and your partner split the care and raising of your son, without financial involvement of the biological father if he is known? Equality of financial outlay doesn't happen in the split up of a hetero relationship, so I wonder what happens in a case such as yours, should a split up occur?

I agree the government should stay out of relationships. But you know they won't. I'm just asking how things work in relationships such as yours. And I wonder what would happen in court should a break up occur.

How does your son feel about your special arrangement? Is he old enough yet to know it's "different"? Has it become a point of discussion and explanation? I am just wondering out loud.

And no, I did not watch the video. Not yet, anyway.

8:20 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Me either, cham. Not long term. When young and stupid, I have been involved in the "perfect sandwich", but those were one night things that all three were interested in and knew going in that's all it was about. At 56, a perfect sandwich would probably kill me now, anyway.

8:27 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Let me be clear. My version of the perfect sandwich was always ONE male and TWO females. Relax, guys.

8:32 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Ah, the days of yesteryear. I vaguely remember a similar night, but it was 2 guys and me. Now, I just pray for one guy with fully functional body parts, limited baggage and, hopefully, some sort of grip on sanity. Easier said than done.

8:46 AM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Cham, want to go camping?

12:45 PM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger tomcal said...

That used to be called the "Cossack Sandwich" in in the Soviet Union. Don't know if post soviet Russia has carried on the tradition...

12:54 PM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Camping right now is a bad idea: Mosquitoes, snakes, poison ivy, torrential downpours, heat and mud. I know, I just did 2 weeks of it. May this hot weather end soon.

5:42 PM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Michael said...

Siobhan Phoenix said...
The other person who lives with us is not sexually involved with us, but is part of our family. He is the male influence in my son's life. My son benefits by a third person in our family, regardless of whether we are sexually involved or not.

Don't you need someone with male qualities to be a male influence in your son's life? A eunich who will hang around sexlessly hoping for some scraps from the lesbian fest doesn't count for much.

Just because I don't want to send the government thugs after you doesn't mean I can't judge you. The male is letting himself get walked over, you know what he actually wants and you're selfishly using him to teach your son male values this 'father figure' clearly hasn't internalized, and you're letting your son watch this entire f*cked-up menagerie while telling yourself how sophisticated and modern you are.

9:44 PM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Bill said...

Cham - you went to Pennsic?

Bill

11:46 PM, August 15, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:56 AM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Close enough. I was on the AT in Central Pennsylvania, on and around Port Clinton. Then 3 days of Joyce Meyer.

8:58 AM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger Words Twice said...

http://xkcd.com/592/

People are complicated.

2:49 PM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

By the way, my reaction to the interview was rather funny. The sexual aspect of the polyamory relationship didn't faze me, but when they started talking about the new age love shit, I thought "weirdos."

6:07 PM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger Wormwood said...

God! I hate hippies.

8:22 PM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

"but i missed out on the hate gene."

-snip_

"that is either the stupidest or most ill informed statement i've read in awhile."

Whoa. Wonder what he is like when he IS hating.

Bet I find out.

Trey

10:45 PM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Cham, you found the recipe for "Instant Male Attention."

A statement that can in any way be thought to be suggesting of a three way. 8)

Trey

10:47 PM, August 16, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

Dan, you said: "@ Jason: if you honestly can't see the difference between more than two consenting adults in a relationship and having no age of consent, you have some issues you need to be looking at"

Ah, the old "I disagree with you, therefore you're insane" argument!

Of course there's a difference, but the point, which you seem to have missed, is that once you start tearing down traditional limits, where do you stop? If gay marriage, why not polyamory? If polyamory, why not incest? If incest, why not reduce the age of consent? If children, why not animals? And so on, and so forth. At some point one has to say "this far and no farther". Heterosexual monogamy has worked for thousands of years, despite all the other variations being tried in one place and time or another. I say we stick with what works, even if it means that some people can't have everything they want.

ransom147 said: "animals have no legal rights, as such they cannot enter into contracts.

children have rights, but still can not enter into contracts. they have the right to be shielded by the law from predators. "

All true, but so what? There's a movement in Europe to give rights to the Great Apes, so why not to Rover too? As for children, what constitutes "childhood"? Aisha was married at nine. Eighteen is pretty indisputably adult, at least biologically.

Again, once you start abandoning traditional standards of acceptable behavior, where do you stop?

I've got no problem with gradual evolution of those standards, but our modern Jacobins want to overturn everything that they find the least bit unjust, and ignore that those injustices may well exist for very good reasons.

Free Love led to a resurgence of STDs, many unknown. Do you really want to play "uncontrolled social experiment" with your own society?

Probably you do. I don't.

And before anyone mentions anti-miscegnation laws, such laws never questioned the nature of marriage. They simply imposed a particular set of restrictions on who could engage with whom. The elimination of that restriction doesn't justify re-defining the institution.

3:31 PM, August 17, 2009  
Blogger ransom147 said...

@Jason:

"Again, once you start abandoning traditional standards of acceptable behavior, where do you stop?"

obviously where they interfere w/ the person or property of another individual.

when society serves man that is freedom. when man serves society, that is tyranny.

@Trey:

no, i'm not baited that easy. want an earful? say something ignorant.

contempt for bigotry is not hatred, it's a natural reacdtion for some. ire would be a good word. only when we call for other voices to be silenced are we approaching their level of contempt. i disagree w/ the poster, but he should remain free to have his say. no one has the right to "not be offended".
while i agree that if these people are expecting some kind of "social acceptance" they are claiming the right to try and shape the hearts and minds of other people. that's stupid. time will change people, but we can not force them to. thought police? screw that. all one can reasonably expect from society is to be free to to as one pleases w/out risk of retribution, or attempts at coercion. right to be accepted? ballyhoo. that is the truck of "social justice/engineers" and affirmative action douchebags. one can work for acceptance, but no one is guaranteed it.


i personally think marriage is for suckers, but don't care what others do. if you provide special rights to participants in leagal arrangements, i.e., marriage, then those partnerships need to be open to anyone.

wanna call it civil unions? i don't really care. seems like the activists who are all hung up on the word "marriage" and aren't willing to accept those rights without the name are just being obstinate. but once again that's their right.

i think they should rewrite the laws so that no one could have a legal "marriage". they all say it's really a religious instituion. i would propose civil unions for anybody and every body who wanted them (who has reached the age of majority), and leave marriage to the church. i mean if it's a union between you and your chosen before god, who gives a crap if the state recognizes it? that respects the rights of everyone... claiming the legal right have your marriage recognized by the state, is like expecting the governor to send you a card congatulating you for being a Baptist.

btw/ it's none of the federal governments business either...

4:18 PM, August 17, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

ransom147 said: ""Again, once you start abandoning traditional standards of acceptable behavior, where do you stop?"

obviously where they interfere w/ the person or property of another individual."

Regardless of the harm to society at large? By modern, libertarian standards, sex-selection abortions are just an example of personal determination, but in India and China they're skewing the sex ratio dangerously.

Individual rights and freedoms are good things, generally. But no man is an island, and pretending that personal actions have no larger consequences, even if they appear to have no *immediately* harmful consequences, is naive.

But I doubt you'll be swayed by any argument I make, any more than I'll be swayed by your "personal license uber alles" assertions, so I suppose there's no point in continuing the discussion.

4:25 PM, August 17, 2009  
Blogger ransom147 said...

egad, i gotta start proof reading my posts.

4:43 PM, August 17, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home