How To Start A Local
Harold, Bruce and Karen

Polyamory is a closet subculture almost everywhere, but in the Washington, DC area it seems to be under the floorboards, which is what one can expect in a city dominated by power and money and image. Polyamorists in the DC area don't know each other. Many of us met for the first time at the first New models for loving Conference in Rowe Massachusetts in September 1994. The energy to start the Potomac Area Polyamory Network came out of this Conference. Harold was moving from Honolulu Hawaii to Washington DC and discovered that the previous poly support group (Potomac Area Lifestyles) had disbanded. The DC area conference participants decided that they needed a new support group. A list of those who wanted to form a DC area support group was circulated. A few months later, Harold and Bruce called the first meeting of the Potomac Area Polyamory Network (PAPN). We had three primary objectives: (1) to meet other polyamorists with whom we could exchange information and share experiences, (2) to provide a supportive place to talk about the philosophy and practice of polyamory, and (3) to provide information to people who are new to the concept.

Harold had been one of the founding members of the Pali Paths Organization in Honolulu and he remembered Moonstorm's (Founder of Pali Paths) Model of how he started Pali Paths. Harold and Bruce had also read Dr. Deborah Anapol's Book-"Love Without Limits", especially chapter 6 "Finding Your Tribe". Both sources (Moonstorm's Model and Deborah's chapter) were to be extremely helpful in starting this group. Other assets we had among us were Harold's strong marketing background Bruce's writing skills, energy, and poly activism and Karen's (Bruce's Wife) editorial and publishing skills. Furthermore Joan Constantine and the Family Tree Organization as well as the CoFounder of the Abundant Love Institute and recognized Leader of the Polyamory Movement- Ryam Nearing has been extremely supportive of our group.

Out group has two types of meetings: (1) formal and (2) social. Formal meetings focus on discussions led by a group facilitator. New member tend to feel comfortable with formal structure of these meetings. Social meetings are more unstructured, and socialization is the key component. We have always used social meetings as way of getting to know group members on a more personal level, where we attempt to break through the superficiality of the formal meetings. Yes Virginia, even formal Poly meetings can be impersonal and superficial.


Where to hold formal meetings is a difficult issue that your will have to decide on when start a poly group. The location should be viewed by its potential members as safe and accessible area where the complete range of polyamory lovestyles can be discussed in a non- threatening manner. Also you must understand the poly meetings draw many groups that may or may not be termed responsibly non-monogamous. Expect to draw the full range of curious from the truly poly curious to the codependent and even sex addicted. When Moonstorm started Pali Paths in Hawaii, he had the first meetings at his house, and then we moved to the Unitarian Church after the group became more established. When we started the Potomac Area Polyamory network in DC, we discovered a publication (by the Greater DC Nonprofit Support Association) listing meeting places where nonprofit organizations can meet for little or no cost.

INTRODUCTIONS: We designed a standard format for our formal meetings that was similar to that used by Pali Paths. We start each meeting with introductions that last from 10 to 20 minutes. The introductions are intended to go beyond learning names. They allow people to break the ice, and tell others who they are and where they are in terms of the poly world. It also gives individuals a sense of who is there and how safe it is. It also assures that each person (no matter how shy) talks at least once, new members feel included, and old member get a chance to let people know how they’re doing.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: After introductions, we take time to make announcements related to poly events. We also circulate publications and support materials related to polyamory. This gives the new attendees a sense of the resources available to polyamorists. We always bring one or more copies of Loving More Magazine, a copy of Deborah Anapol’s Love Without Limits, and Ryam Nearing’s Polyfidelity Primer. In addition we have also circulated copies of the Green Egg, and other books from our collective library on group marriage, and polygamy. We recommend your have a supply of poly books, magazines, newsletters, videos, information packets and handouts for your poly group. You can find many of the references that you need on sale in the back of Loving More Magazine Web Page:

DISCUSSION OF ANNOUNCED TOPIC: Next on the schedule is the discussion of the announced topic. Our topics have varied widely, including gender differences in polyamory, polyamory and spirituality, African polygamy, poly music, (one member brought a guitar and we sang a lot of songs with polyamory themes), and poly movies (one member showed Japanese animation with a bizarre polyamory message.) We try to find topics that provide information and engage the participants in thought and discussion.

SOCIAL HOUR: Social time after the meeting allows people to mingle. The more connections people, the stronger the group becomes. Unfortunately, our meeting place is not convenient to gathering places (the McDonald’s across the street isn’t the best place to share your soul with someone new), so our social time has been sporadic and at times awkward. But we have plans to move to another local library that is more accessible to a pleasant atmosphere.

HOW MANY TIME PER MONTH: At start-up we also confronted the question of how often to meet. Some wanted to meet every week, to be consistent and allow for frequent contact. Others thought twice a month would be better, to accommodate Washingtonians’ busy schedules. We decided to hold meetings twice a month on weekday nights, but hold a social gathering once a month on a weekend, usually Friday nights.

MEETINGS BY GENDER: In the early phase of our group’s formation we held a series of single gender meetings in addition to 3 combined gender meetings per month. We hoped that these meetings would provide a kind of gender bonding experience. We also thought that women might be uncomfortable at a meeting largely composed of men. The gender meetings lasted only few months, because our women’s organizer moved to California. However, we also found that attendance has not been as imbalanced towards men as we had thought. Although more than 80 percent of those calling for information are men, about 40 percent of those attending meetings are women. We think that our telephone message, and initial contact person screens out men who are only looking for “a good time”.

SOCIAL MEETINGS: For social gatherings during the cold weather months we meet at a local restaurant that has a back room that provides some semblance of privacy. But during the warmer months we had one social gathering at the picnic area of a scenic public park, which was very well attended. Also don't over look the obvious such as coffee shops, reading salons or groups closely aligned with our movement.


There is nothing more critical to your groups survival than getting the word out to your target poly audience. Some of the information discussed below involves a financial commitment, but please don't assume that you can’t start if you don't have the financial resources at this time. As the old cliché' goes "where there is a will there is a way", and we will suggest alternatives means for the financially strapped.


A computer allows you to produce ads, flyers, a newsletter and information to handout at your meetings. A modem and Internet service provider (such as America Online, Netcom or any of the other online services) will instantly connect you to the poly community and the international/national poly leadership. There are many great sources of poly information on the Internet that can be an excellent resource to young forming poly groups. You will have to learn how to navigate your online Internet service.

Most cities have a local alternative press --- newspapers or magazines, that are published on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Below is an example of a free advertisement that we run ever week in an alternative press newspaper called the CityPaper. Every monday we fax this same advertisement via our modem to the CityPaper. Since this is a free ad, you may or may not have a choice on where they place you ad, but it never hurts to ask. You need to study the publication to determine an appropriate category. We usually request to be placed in the section where the other support group are located.

Polyamory is a new word that your average laypoly may not be familiar with. To reach your target poly audience, you need to use traditional poly trigger words such as group Marriage, Responsible Nonmonogamy, Intimate Network, Open Relationship, Committed Multipartners or Alternative Lovestyles in your ad. (see Appendix 1).

Hi CityPaper...

I am a member of a nonprofit Organization called "POTOMAC AREA POLYAMORY NETWORK," We would like to place a free classified ad in your publication's Classified Section. It should read as follows:


SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVES: If you can not afford to a new computer system you can buy a used Pentium 60-100MHz computer for about $100-300 or Classical Pentium 100-200MHz computer for about $300-600. Remember you don't have to have the biggest or the best to do what needed to assist your poly group. If you have access to a computer at your job, school, friends or lovers, your poly group could benefit. Any of the above could be acceptable alternative to purchasing a computer but be careful not to "out" yourself prematurely to your co-workers or peers by leaving those blasted poly disc or rough drafts hanging around accidentally.


Nothing is better for screening your target poly audience than a voicemail message describing what your poly group is and is not. The caller can leave his/her mailing information and phone number. Voicemail services are run by your local phone company and will cost you $6-10 per month. The way voicemail works is you order it form your local phone company as a additional service for your home phone, then you set up your mailboxes. We recommend that you purchase the multiple voicemail service, because it allows you to have multiple “mailboxes” on your phone -- one for yourself, one for your business, one for your poly loves, one for your poly group, you get the idea. Voicemail is very simple to setup and easy to change. If your would like to hear our (Potomac Area Polyamory Network) Voicemail message to get a idea of what things can be done with Voicemail, look in "Loving More Magazine" for our Organization.


Hi, you have reached the Potomac Area Polyamory Network a support group for women and men who polyamorist or interested in polyamory in the Washington D.C. area. Polyamory is the philosophy and practice of ethically loving two or more partners at the same time. This is not a swing or sex club. We hold meetings on the second and fourth thurdays of each month. If you would like more information or if you would like to be on our mailing list please leave your indication how we can contact you.

SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE: Answering machine can be just as effective as voicemail without the recurring monthly cost. Unfortunately, most inexpensive models don't have a multiple message capabilities, and many are prone to mechanical break down. (For these reasons we do not recommend buying a used answering machine. )


We have found flyers to be extremely effective way of advertising our poly group. We recommend that you make up as many different kinds of flyers as can, such as new member recruitment, advertising social, and flyers appealing to specific groups. Keep an eye out for flyers that you like and model some of your flyers after these successful flyers. Also remember what was mentioned above about traditional poly trigger words such as Group Marriage, Responsible Nonmonogamy, Intimate Network, Open Relationship, Committed Multipartners or Alternative Lovestyles in your flyer. A few basic flyers are included in Appendix 2 & 3. Feel free to plagiarize and improve.


You will find many poly friendly establishments to post your poly flyers. Hopefully this list will give some ideas on where to start:

UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES: Look for bulletin boards, libraries, bookstores, student unions, other student support activities, and off campus hot spots. You may want to focus on areas frequented by graduate student and faculty. Also, try placing an poly ad in the student newspaper if your group is able to afford the expense.

BOOK STORES: Bookstores in the 1990's are more popular single get together spots than night clubs. Many have an area for free alternative press newspapers, which is a good place to leave flyers. You can also leave a few in areas such as science fiction, alternative or holistic health, erotica, sexuality, self-help, psychology, sociology, paganism, naturism, relationships and so on.

FOOD CO-OPS: Most food co-ops have at least one bulletin board for community based information. Excuse our plug for food co-ops, but they are great places to join and spend your hard earned poly money because they are usually supportive of alternative communities such as ours.

NATURAL OR HEALTH FOOD STORES: We are always amazed at the number of polys that are vegetarians and or at least try to eat as healthy as they can. post flyers on community bulletin boards or near alternative press newsstands.

SI-FI CONFERENCES/CONVENTIONS/MEETINGS: There are many polys that were initially introduced to polyamory through science fiction writers such as Robert Rimmer, Robert Heinlein, Melissa Scott, Vonda McIntyre to name a few. A good strategy is to exchange poly flyers for information that the people at other boothes want to give you, and ask them to display the poly flyer. Be sure use a flyer that appeals to the science fiction crowd, such as the "LIVE THE DREAM!" ad in Appendix 1.

HOLISTIC HEALTH CENTERS/SHOWS: The general rule about shows, conventions and conferences is that merchants are usually more receptive to flyers that have some kind of connection to the Show, so aim your poly flyers accordingly.

LIBRARIES: Most libraries have bulletin boards, alternative press newspaper stands, and a mountain of books relevant and related to polyamory. In order to tap into this energy, do a book search to find out: (1) what books and information the library has on polyamory, because this information can also be used as reference material, (2) where the material is located, so you can drop by and deposit a flyer or two in these publications. We are amazed at how many of our members have described their pursuit of poly information in terms of a never ending journey, we are willing to bet that this thirst for poly information will lead some of them to your local library. Some of the categories to search (not a complete listing by any stretch of the imagination) are Intimate Network, Multipartner Relation, Open Relationship, Open Marriage, Plural Marriage, Polyandry, Polygamy, Polygyny, Serial Monogamy, Swinging, Threesome, Intentional Communities, Group Marriage, Alternative Lifestyles, Communes, Bisexuality, Tantra and Sex Positive.

SEX INFORMATION CENTERS/SUPPORT GROUPS: In most major cities, there are support groups that cater to the full range of sexual communities, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, cross dressers, bondage-discipline/sado-masochists, fetishists and swingers. What we find interesting about all the above groups is that the polyamory lovestyle is well represented in all of their ranks. A good number of these groups advertise in the alternative press publications. We recommend that you mail them a few poly flyers or call them if no address is given.


The only announcement we had for our first meeting was posted to the poly community and poly friendly groups on the Internet. Fifteen people showed up for this meeting -- we think this tell us a lot about the power and promise of the Internet and the global poly community. Below is a copy of our first posted announcement including the poly friendly. The bottom line is to post as many announcements as you can on a regular basis to these appropriate poly list and poly friendly groups about your poly groups activities.


To Newsgroups: alt.polymory,alt.personals.poly,,,alt.pagan,

Attention: DC, VA, MD on 18 May 1995 at 7:00/p.m. There will be the meeting of "POTOMAC AREA POLYAMORY NETWORK." a support/discussion group for poly people in the DC area ... For more information please write



We recommend that all local poly groups publish a newsletter because newsletter gives your group a legitimizing voice in your community, and a way to keep your members and the national poly leadership. We also recommend that send a copy of your newsletter to Ryam nearing and all the poly support groups in your regional area (which are listed in the back of "Loving More Magazine").


The design of your newsletter should be simple and not distracting, and the name short and easily identified with the poly movement. Line art or clip art will make your newsletter more appealing, but does not need to be extensive. Unfortunately, commercial clipart is almost unusable, so try asking members or friends with graphic talent! If you are comfortable on the computer, a simple layout program like Microsoft Publisher can be bought for around $100 and will make your newsletter look professional. If you are less comfortable on the computer, using a work processor and some rubber cement is probably a better option. (Your local library will have several good books on making a newsletter.) The best, most original, source of material is the membership of your own group, who can contribute their poly experiences, group discussions, humor, poetry, and art. Articles can also be reprinted (with permission, of course) from internet newsgroups or mailing lists. Just send an email to the author to get permission.


Most poly list writers are flattered and happy to have their messages published, if asked. Finally, with written permission, you can reprint articles from other poly newsletters. This is one reason why it so important to network with other poly support groups.

In every issue of your poly newsletter we recommend that you have a brief introduction to polyamory, and include cost and subscription. We also recommend that you publish newsletter every 2 months (bi-monthly).





Loving More Magazine will not give out member names or addresses, but will do a mailing from their database if you give them postage and information packet about the your group. This is something that your local poly support group should look into with the Abundant Love Institute and Loving More Magazine.


Lately we have been asking members to bring one polycurious people to the formal meetings. Many people are nervous about discussing polyamory with their friends, so we recommend that they bring extra copies of the Introduction to Polyamory Information Sheet (see Appendix 4) to break the ice.


We are now at the section that we would like to discuss groups or organizations that you are most likely going to find members. At least most members of these groups will not look at polyamory with a mind closed tighter than a Brink’s armored truck! There is a degree of risk here though, you must risk Coming Out to them to see if they are receptive.

LIBERAL SPIRITUAL COMMUNITIES: The pagan spiritual community is probably the most supportive for polyamorists right now. If you find yourself in pagan spiritual circles your not going to be the only polyamorist inside the circle. Not all pagan spiritualist are polyamorist by any stretch of the imagination but you are on sacred and fertile polyamorist ground in the pagan spiritual community. The unitarian universalist congregations are also somewhat supportive of polyamorists. The UU spiritual community is open to everyone no matter what your beliefs, relationship style. They believe human relationships should be guided by love, which means always seeking the welfare of others and never seeking to hurt or destroy. UU’s also believe that no ideal or philosophy is superior to any other. UU's have shared their conference retreats with us, and Pali Paths in Honolulu holds meetings in their church. We have found that urban UU congregations generally tend to be more progressive and welcoming than their suburban and rural sisters congregations.

LIBERTARIANS: Many in our movement relate with view that the government has no business legislating its citizens relationships or lovestyles. Get to know libertarians and send them your newsletters , because they have lots of common ground with polyamorist. Your poly group is bound to find a friendly face in this group.

CIVIL LIBERTIES ADVOCATES: There is a branch of the American Civil Liberties Union in every state, and we recommend that you send newsletters to your local and state ACLU , and that your group joins and supports the ACLU. All of us in the polyamory movement benefit from the quintessential work of ACLU standing guard at the gates of the tyrants that are attempting erode our already dwindling civil liberties. We the polyamory activist want to become full participating members of the ACLU's inner circle. So remember next time you and your poly support group are supporting an ACLU event or activity, you are Ambassadors for the civil liberties of the polyamory lovestyle worldwide.

BISEXUAL COMMUNITY: There are many wonderful bisexual polys in our ranks, and we need to support our bisexual, brothers and sisters in every way possible, we can learn many things from their struggle to openly love and marry whom they choose.

ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES ADVOCATES: There are many other alternative lifestyle advocates in local your community and we recommend that you invite them to your poly support group to facilitate formal meetings on their Lifestyle choices and offer to facilitate a meeting on your polyamory lovestyle choice.

ALTERNATIVE HEALERS AND THERAPISTS: You will find healers and therapists advertising in alternative press newspapers. Ask them to do a brief presentation at your formal poly meetings., and ask them about shows and conferences scheduled for the near future.

LOCAL INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES AND GROUP HOUSES: In the D. C. area as well with other cities worldwide there are many intentional communities and group houses. In general intentional communities are places where people pool their resources and have a motivating philosophy, religious or otherwise. In a group house, individuals share a house with other individuals, but not necessarily a philosophy. For the most part you will learn about these groups through word of mouth. When you do, call or write and explain that your poly support group is closely aligned with the intentional community movement and ask them share information on the community with your group. If your group gets a positive response, place them on your newsletter mailing list.


1. Newsletter Editor

2. Mailing List Guardian

3. Treasurer

4. Voicemail Screener

5. Publicity and Outreach

6. Email List Monitor


The responses that your group receives will give you an indication of how your publicity campaign is going. Building a list an is slow and sometimes painful process. The few members that your group will initially attract must not lose faith. Continue to get the word and remember that they are searching for you as hard as you are searching for them.

We recommend that your poly group send to each new inquirer an introduction to polyamory information packet (see Appendix 4), a complementary copy of your newsletter and a application for Loving More Magazine.

BASIC INFORMATION PACKET (see Appendix 4): We have included an introduction to polyamory information packet in this article as you have notice our referring to above in article. We recommend that you use and improve on this introduction to polyamory with our blessing.

POST OFFICE BOX: We recommend that your group uses post office box as a mailing address. A post office box will give your poly group the buffer of anonymity that it will need to screen out the thrill seekers from the truly polyamorous and polycurious. Post office boxes cost about $35-40 per year.

PHONE SCREENING: Your poly groups first line of screening will be the voicemail message that spells out what the group is and what it is not. The second line of screening will be when the group makes phone contact with the person(s) inquiring for information. The poly group member doing the screening must make a gut feeling assessment if this person(s) would benefit from being a member in the poly group, although this is extremely subjective process. We would call the third line of screening selection, the people that come to one formal meeting and for their own reasons never come back or have any contact with group. Thus far we have not had any problems with new members.


There is software dedicated to printing mailing labels which is inexpensive and easy to use. Another option s to use your word-processing program, which is fine for small lists. Be aware that many members may want to revive their newsletters in a plain envelope (this also means no postcards!) Finally, update your mailing list often and keep multiple copies – it is one of your groups major assets.


Doing Business As checking account is a banking method that allows your the individual to start a personal checking account in the name of an organization. This is cheaper than an official business or organization checking account. Doing Business As is an effective way to cash checks in the name of your poly support group, but remember that this is a personal checking account so if a check bounces you’re personally responsible. You should consult with more than just one banks to get the full picture of Doing Business As in your state.


Most state have system of registering your Tradename for businesses and organizations. This process is usually based on the first use standard, which is simply that the first business or organization to use the Tradename has the right to use and register that tradename. One of the ways you can prove first use is by publishing an advertisement in any publication of your choice describing your group, services your group offers, and your group’s Newsletter subscription rates. The tradename that your poly support group is going to register must be capitalized in advertisement. Three copies of the same advertisement (called a specimen in National Trademark jargon) to include the entire newspaper will establish first use on Local and national level. To register a tradename costs between $30-60 in most states, and $245.


Finally we hope you have found something in this article that will inspire you to form local poly support group in your area. Please never lose sight of fact that this is all about having fellowship and fun with other polyamorists. If you take the fellowship and fun out of your poly group it will certainly fail, but with the hard work and energy that goes into this labor of our love, your group will flourish and we applaud you for even entertaining the idea.

Never Thirst,
Harold, Bruce and Karen.


Polyamorous, that is? Polys believe we can deeply, richly and ethically love two or more partners at once. Join our casual weekly discussion group on Responsible Non-monogamy. Pali Paths, POB 22586 Honolulu HI 96823. 808/239-6824

Line Marriage? Intimate Networks? Open Couples? If you're involved or interested in Responsible Nonmonogamy, join our casual weekly discussion group. Pali Paths, POB 22586 Honolulu HI 96823. 808/239-6824

Have you read books by Heinlein, Rimmer, Bradley and seriously wished that life and love could be that way? Join our casual weekly discussion group on Responsible Non-monogamy. Pali Paths, POB 22586 Honolulu HI 96823. 808/239-6824



Polyamorous, that is? Polys believe we can deeply, richly and ethically can love two or more partners at once. Group marriage, Open Couples and Intimate Networks are a few of the options we advocate. If you're involved of interested in a Responsible Non-monogamous Lifestyle come join our discussion group. This is not swinging or casual sex group but a path towards Multiple, Sustained, Intimate, Committed but Nonpossessive Relationships. Singles, Couples, Triads, Whatever, are all Welcome, as well as All Genders and Orientations. For more information, contact:

P.O. BOX 8162

Polyamorous, that is? Polys believe we can deeply, richly and ethically can love two or more partners at once. Group marriage, Open Couples and Intimate Networks are a few of the options we advocate. If you're involved of interested in a Responsible Non-monogamous Lifestyle come join our discussion group. This is not swinging or casual sex group but a path towards Multiple, Sustained, Intimate, Committed but Nonpossessive Relationships. Singles, Couples, Triads, Whatever, are all Welcome, as well as All Genders and Orientations. For more information, contact:

P.O. BOX 8162





A forum for discussing the philosophy and practice of deeply, richly and ethically loving two or more partners at the same time.

First Meeting will be held
Thursday, May 18, 2006 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at

Digital Library, 400 K Avenue, SE
Washington DC 20006


Child Rearing, Sexual Ethics, Sacred Sexuality, Family Finances, Jealousy, Social Acceptance of the Polyamorous Lifestyle, Legal and Political Issues, Religion and Sexuality... and many more.



For More Information write:
P.O. Box 8162
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Call 301-587-0514



What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. Polyamory is an umbrella term which integrates traditional mutipartner relationship terms with more evolved egalitarian terms. Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations towards an expanded circle of spousal intimacy and love. Polyamory is from the root words Poly meaning many and Amour meaning love hence "many loves" or Polyamory. Of course, love itself is a rather ambiguous term, but most polys seem to define it as a serious, intimate, romantic, or less stable, affectionate bond which a person has with another person or group of persons. This bond usually, though not necessarily always, involves sex. Sexualove or eromance are other words which have been coined to describe this kind of love. Other terms often used as synonyms for polyamory are responsible, ethical or intentional non-monogamy.

How many styles of Polyamory are there?

Many. Polyamory has its own unique multipartner terminology and language. One of the most popular styles of Polyamory is Polyfidelity. Sometimes also called closed group marriage. In Polyfidelity, groups of three or more partners consider themselves essentially married to each other. They usually live together in a single home and share their lives and resources such as married couples do. There may be any combination of males, females and sexual orientations. Polygyny, as it was practiced by the Mormons, is just one example of Polyfidelity. Classically, Polyfidelitous groups are sexually exclusive and do not engage in sexual relations outside the group. However, there are some group marriages which are "open," and which do allow for outside eromances. In the open marriage style relationships in which the members who consider themselves committed life partners nonetheless permit outside, sexual, romantic and loving relationships outside the marriage in a way that is agreed upon by the marital partners.

Some, but by no means all, "intentional communities" follow Polyamorous principles. The residents of the community may think of themselves as all "married" to each other (like the Oneida community in nineteenth century New York State) or not, but all members of the community may be viewed as legitimately available to each other as sexual and/or romantic partners (like the ZEGG community in present-day Germany or Windward in Washington state). Others have found Polyamory through residing in group homes and through coopertive housing living arrangements.

Finally at the less structured end of the spectrum are Intimate Networks. They are informal webs of people with varying levels of interpersonal bonding and commitment who share a belief in open multilateral relationships. Intimate Networks often develop around or among open marriages or open couples. People in Intimate Networks and other Polyamorous relationships sometimes refer to the depth of their relationships as "Primary," "Secondary," and "Tertiary" to describe the varying levels of commitment involved.
Primary Relationships are the closest relationship type, the person(s) given the most time, energy and priority in a person's life; includes high level of intimacy, attraction and commitment as demonstrated by marriage-level bonding (such as shared life paths, goals, parenting, economics, housing, important values, ongoing emotional support, etc.) Typically includes a desire for a shared lifelong future together.
Secondary Relationships are close relationship types, by definition they are given less in terms of time, energy and priority in a person's life than any primary relationship. Includes aspects of primary relating, such as sexuality and emotional support but usually involves fewer ongoing commitments as evidenced by fewer shared values, plans or financial/legal involvements. May include a desire for a long term future together.
Tertiary Relationships are relationships which may include emotional support or sexuality on a one-time or highly erratic schedule. Attention or energy is given in bursts but the relationship(s) is not a consistent part of one's life.

Are Polyamorists "swingers"?

Polyamorists vary a great deal in their attitudes toward casual or recreational sex. Some approve; some (particularly Polyfidelitous relationships) do not. In any case, polyamory is about stable intimate, emotionally committed relationships rather than casual sex. Swinging is defined as recreational sexual activity, also called "sport sex" where partner(s) or participant(s) agree to have casual sex with each other(s). There is usually no emotional involvement. Swinging is a form of monogamy in which usually two primary partners agree to have casual sex with other couples or singles. Swingers have their own organizations, newsletters, and contact networks. They are not likely to find much of an interest in Polyamory except by coincidence. The Polyamory and Swing communities are allies under the alternative lifestyles banner. Many swingers have transitioned to Polyamory through their desire to be emotionally committed in a multipartnered relationship.

How do Polyamorists feel about monogamy?

Most Polyamorists have a "live and let live" attitude. They are happy for those people who have found happiness in monogamous relationships. However, most polyamorists are impressed by the fact that the divorce and adultery statistics indicate that monogamy fails a great deal more than it succeeds. Polyamorists tend to see the modern American nuclear family as an aberration in the course of human history and believe that larger, more complex extended families or tribes have been the natural human family structure. Children are seen as being better off when they have a broad range of adult role models to relate to, instead of a single, monogamously married couple. Polyamorists believe in freedom of choice and consider Polyamory as a viable alternative to monogamy. They acknowledge that real love and a committed relationship is in no way free. Intimate love relationships, whether monogamous or Polyamorous are complex and challenging and their success requires maturity and hard work. Polyamorists, being outside the mainstream of our society, are taking on the extra challenge of trying to do something which is unpopular among their monogamous peers. Polyamorists do tend to object to our culture's idealization of monogamy and suppression of alternative lifestyles.

How do you become a Polyamorist?

It's a matter of personal choice what lifestyle you are going to adopt. Some people learn about Polyamory from friends or loved ones or by reading books, either fiction or non-fiction, on Polyamorous themes. Some people belong to religious groups which allow and/or encourage Polyamory. Some come in contact with national or local secular Polyamory organizations. Of course, many people create Polyamory out of their own thoughts and feelings when they first spontaneously discover their own capacity to love multiples.

What kind of people are Polyamorists?

Although non-monogamous behavior is fairly common in our society (singles playing the field, adulterous spouses, remarried divorcees), declared Polyamorists are rather few in number, and they haven't been studied very much. Very unscientific impressions would suggest that Polyamorists tend to be professionals, artists, academics, and other fairly highly educated people, with a rather strong showing from among computer professional or others with computer interests. Interest in science fiction is common among Polyamorists, many of when say they discovered polyamory through the writings of authors like Robert Heinlein, Robert Rimmer and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Polyamorists range through all age groups, genders, and sexual orientations. Religiously there is considerable variety atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews and a fairly strong showing from Unitarians and Pagans. Fundamentalists of the "moral majority" variety are unlikely be to see at Polyamorous gathering. Politically, there are conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Some people couple their Polyamory with the study of sacred or spiritual sexuality disciplines like tantra or sex magick while others are impatient with such "New Age claptrap" and see their Polyness as a strictly pragmatic, secular matter. Nudism, vegetarianism, ecology, holistic health, and so on are other common, though not universal, interests among Polyamorists. Finally many Polyamorists believe that the present day Polyamory movement will deliver the future relationship models of the next century that so many of the science fiction novelist have written about.

Where is there more information?


Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer, by Ryam Nearing. The premier how to book in the field of Polyamory. Not only theory and stories but the nuts and bolts of the Polyamory lifestyle. Written by the undeniable leader of the Polyamory movement and Co-Editor of Loving More Magazine. She is the leading authority in the Polyfideltous lovestyle. Available through the Polyamory Society.

Polyamory The New Love without Limits, by Dr. Deborah Anapol. The latest 1997 revised edition of one of the classics in Polyamory literature. Updated and includes new writing. Dr. Anapol is one of the pioneer and leading authorities in the Polyamory lovestyle. Available through the Polyamory Society.

Lesbian Polyfidelity, by Celeste West. This book contains information that can be universally applied to any sexual orientation Polyamorous relationship. Polyamory belongs to all genders and preferences. Enter the world of Polyfidelity allurement, engagement and creativity. A fascinating book for all Polyamorists to read. Available through the Polyamory Society.

Breaking The Barriers to Desire, edited by Kevin Lano & Claire Parry. This British import is a concise blend of personal accounts, advice, theory and history with continental flavor. Glossary, bibliography and resources. Available through the Polyamory Society.

Radical Honesty, by Dr. Brad Blanton. No bullshit advice on how to have lives that work, relationships that are alive and passionate and how to create intimacy where none exists. Brace yourself for a triple espresso to head and heart. Available through the Polyamory Society.

A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, by Attorneys Curry, Clifford and Leonard. This book contains information that can be applied Polyamorous relationships. How to obtain domestic partner benefits, plan for medical emergencies, by property together, provide for each other at death, having and raising children, etc. Available through the Polyamory Society.

The Loving Together Kit, by Attorneys Toni Ihara & Ralph Warner. This book contains information that can be applied to Polyamorous relationships. Unmarried and loving together? This book helps protect you legally on matters of property, parenthood, inheritance and other concerns. Tearout agreements and sample forms.

Open Marriage, by Nena and George O'Neill. An earlier book from the 1970's Available through the Polyamory Society and also check in your local used book store.

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. A classic science fiction novel which has inspired many Polyamorists. Preferably the version copyright 1961. Available through the Polyamory Society and also check in your local used book store.

Group Marriage, by Joan M. Constantine and Larry L. Constantine, 1973. The Book that launched the modern Polyamory Movement. Out of Print - Collector item, great reference if you can find a copy, check in your local graduate school library. Information is just as timely today as it was in the 70's.