Polyamory Week 2020 – Review: ‘More Than Two’ by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020
Day 2: What is Polyamory
Day 3: What Polyamory Means to Me
Day 4: My Polyamory

When coming into a new area of life, research is important. I may have all the necessary skills and tools for this life, but it’s possible that I don’t know how to use them. And it’s a simple fact that as much as I consider myself a modern, open minded person, I’ve had thirty-six years of conditioning that the romantic ideal is to find “The One”.

There are books out there designed to help people into the non-monogamy world. But we need to remember that just because someone has been living the lifestyle longer, and may even be seen as a leading figure in the scene, it doesn’t mean their advice is perfect.

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More Then Two, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert has been referred to in a number of circles as the “Polyamory Bible”; recommended as the go-to resource for discovering and working out the basics of polyamory.

More Than Two is comprehensive. There are sections aimed at those coming in to polyamory from different points of view – single to poly, couples opening up, families with children – and more general topics like communication. A lot of it seems simple, and I’m certain that everyone who reads it will find parts are just common sense. But I’m also certain each person will find a chapter that will really benefit them. There were parts I skimmed through, but there were parts that really made me think about what I was doing and how I was doing it.

There are also lots of real life examples, most often taken from Veaux or Rickert’s personal experiences. These are useful, as not every topic will be relevant to each reader and these examples show the real world application of what is being discussed.

However, Franklin Veaux has been revealed as a problematic source. And in the last few years he’s been called out by a number of women he’s had relationships, including co-author Eve Rickert, for being manipulative and emotionally abusive.

I’m not going to comment strongly on this area here. I don’t know a huge amount about about the situation. I would recommend visiting https://polyamory-metoo.com, created by Louisa Leontiades, and https://brighterthansunflowers.com/2019/09/02/thoughts-on-the-fifth-anniversary-of-more-than-two/ for the views of the co-author Eve Rickert.

I was lucky enough to have met Louisa Leontiades at a party. When I started reading More Than Two I recognised Veaux’s name from posts she’d made regarding the issues with him that had been raised. So I reached out to her and asked if it was still valid to read the book. Her advice was it still was a valid resource, as long as those reading it kept in mind that the book presented polyamory through a single viewpoint; and knowing how Veaux had misused it to manipulate his partners was vital as a background understanding.

Reviewing More Than Two is difficult. It’s a useful resource of foundational knowledge. But it also filters polyamory through the point of view of a straight, cis, white man who believed it was something that benefited him over his partners. It is a book that cannot be viewed on its own merits alone, but requires outside context.

So, should you read it? I think it’s best put into words by co-author Eve Rickert (from the post I linked above):

I’m glad that people are thinking critically about More Than Two. I’m glad people are pointing out its flaws. This consensual nonmonogamy thing we’re all working on is not static, and no one has all the answers figured out for everyone. More Than Two represents, at best, a snapshot of what was important and how certain communities were thinking at a certain point in time, just like The Ethical Slut was two decades prior. Ideas and practices will continue to evolve, and that’s a good thing. Some or all of what’s in More Than Two may eventually be thrown out—and I think that’s okay, too. 

So I guess all I can say is: It’s flawed. Maybe it’ll help you. I hope it will. But be careful. Read other things. Take what works for you from each. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right to you, listen to that feeling. 

So would I recommend More Than Two?

Yes, I think I would. It’s not perfect, but no book on relationships will ever be perfect. If you’re looking to learn more about coming into polyamory it’s a good starting point, as long as it isn’t taken on its own. Do some further reading on Veaux, read the testimonies of the woman he talks about in this book, and indulge in some critical thinking.

Above all, take from this that there is no clear and easy resource to tell you how to “do” ethical non-monogamy. And just because someone’s been involved in the scene longer doesn’t mean they know more than you, or are necessarily doing it “better”. In polyamory, as in monogamy, people have their own issues that they bring to the table. Be aware, and be educated.

Polyamory Week 2020 – What is Polyamory?

Day 1: Polyamory Week 2020

Polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy. It literally means “many loves”. It’s a lifestyle in which I and my partners agree we are all free to fall in love with multiple people.

I’m going to start with the assumption everyone reading this understands monogamy, being the standard default relationship in western culture. So default, in fact, that a lot of people never even consider there being alternatives.

Non-Monogamy

Let’s start with non-monogamy as a whole.

The world of non-monogamy encompasses a large swath of different permutations. The most common ones in modern media are, usually, cheating, swinging, and unicorn hunting (a straight couple looking for a woman to join them).

Non-monogamy is not ideologically better than monogamy. It is not a world in which it’s impossible to hurt someone. In fact, it can be easier to do so. This is why you will often find people talking about ethical non-monogamy. This means that everyone involved is aware of and agrees to the rules or agreements that govern the situation.

This is why ethical non-monogamy isn’t cheating. Cheating implies someone is breaking a rule. If you change those rules so that you are fine with your partner having sex with other people, then sleeping with other people can’t be considered cheating.

But there are so many more different ways to live non-monogamy. From non-exclusive dating, to sexual commerce, to relationship anarchy; it’s far more varied and interesting than people sometimes realise.

Franklin Veaux* created a Venn diagram of non-monogamy, which is a very useful way to visualise all the differences.

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Polyamory

Polyamorous people are open to loving more than one person. 

This can involve a sexual element, or not. A lot of people come into non-monogamy from a sexual point of view, but decide they have no wish to have more than one romantic partner. But some of us are open to this happening.

As you might guess, once the traditional two-person pairing model goes out the window there are all sorts on configurations for polyamory. You can have “thruples”, where three people date each other. You can have “Vees”, where one person dates two people who have no romantic or sexual connection. And then, depending on everyone’s situation, people in those groups might date other people as well. So one part of a Vee might be part of a completely different thruple, while another member of that thruple dates other people outside the group.

For example, I am part of a Vee; I am married to Frankie and in a second relationship with Aine, and while the two of them are friends, they are not in a relationship themselves.

These groupings are called “Polycules”; a group of people who may not have a personal connection but are connected through this interlinking net of relationships. It’s 6-Degrees of Separation, but much more intimate. This is one of the reasons the Polyamory community is very open and friendly; it’s very possible you’ll be connected in some way.

The important thing about Polyamory is everyone involved is aware and everyone is comfortable. If I, for example, met someone new and was looking to potentially date them I would check in with my two partners first. While they don’t have a veto on my relationships, I would always take their feelings into consideration before doing anything new.

Misconceptions about Non-Monogamy

There are a lot of misconceptions about non-monogamy. This is because it’s almost always portrayed in the media as a sex thing or a way to fix a broken relationship.

There are a lot more films and TV shows about non-monogamy now. However, most them will follow – to at least some degree – the following plot: A couple will be in a loving relationship that’s gone stale. They want some excitement, so they decide to invite a girl to join them to “spice things up”. Then they will follow the ups and downs of learning to deal with the many problems of having a gorgeous, sexually adventurous, younger woman (in most cases) willing to sleep with both parts of the couple. There will be jealousy, confusion, excitement, and sexual titillation for the audience.

This then usually ends in one of two ways: The relationship will survive, imbued with life by the sexual excitement, or it will fall apart as the desire for non-monogamy was a sign the relationship was broken.

I’ve never seen a portrayal of non-monogamy as something someone – either single or a couple – sits down and makes a conscious effort to live. Not because they need excitement. Not because they need to jumpstart a failing marriage. But because the lifestyle makes sense to them.

There are many ways into non-monogamy. Don’t believe the only one is through desperation.

And more…

There is far more to non-monogamy and polyamory than what little I’ve put down here. I’m not an expert, and even I could take each of the sentences above and expand it to a full chapter. If you’re interested, I’ll try to link to a few good online resources on my website.

 

*There are issues with Franklin Veaux and his work, which I will address on Thursday’s post.