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Why This Woman Chooses To Embrace Polyamory In Her Marriage

"There is a common misconception that something is inherently wrong with us."

Marriage

I have a mostly traditional view of relationships and consider myself to be very monogamous by nature. If a future together is the goal, I'll rock with you until I have nothing left in me to give, and from my partner, I expect the same. Now, there has been a time or two where the door to our bedroom has been opened to another, but they were only guests, never mainstay attractions in our relationship and never more than us adding depth to the bevy of our sexual experiences together. I take commitment seriously, but like many things in life, and many things pertaining sexuality, I don't believe in a spectrum that is all black and white.

Thus, I'm always curious about different lifestyles and seeing how the other half lives. Monogamy is very important to me in a relationship, but I'm well aware that it is not the only way we have relationships in this day and age. I had questions, especially while catching up on one of my favorite podcasts, The Sexually Liberated Woman.

In one of her more recent podcasts, Ev'Yan Whitney confessed to listeners intimate details about her marriage through an open dialogue with her husband aptly titled "Non-Monogamy and My New Marriage." The most common myth Ev'Yan Whitney has heard is that someone polyamorous must be dissatisfied with their relationship, but it's one she isn't afraid to readily dispel.

“This common misconception that something is inherently wrong with us, that we are in denial about something, that something is missing, is hogwash. For my husband and I, it does not apply. And polyamory does and can work," says Whitney.

Becoming polyamorous was a decision she and her husband of nine years, Jonathan Mead, did not take lightly and occurred only after they were open and honest about one another's views on love and marriage. By definition, polyamory is having "many loves," and can be expressed in relationships in different ways, including having sex with people outside the relationship without emotional connection (i.e. wife-swapping, swinging) and having multiple wives and multiple husbands.

“At the crux of it," Whitney says, “Polyamory means you believe that there is no such thing as one soulmate, one love, that there are many people that you can have sexual, emotional, and romantic connections with and that you honor that by dating other people and being with other people."

How She Met Her Husband

Having not been a believer of love at first sight, soulmates or other romantic clichés, her and Jonathan's love story is something she says went against her every intention at 19 and newly single, “We met on MySpace and within the first of week of talking we were madly in love with each other. I was pretty jaded about relationships because of my parents going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage. Their divorce made me feel like love doesn't matter, but Jonathan came into my life and changed everything. Six months into us dating, we were living together. And by the end of the first year, we were married. It was serious and fun."

How Polyamory First Came Into Play

In the beginning of their 10-year relationship, monogamy was very much a part of how they approached their relationship. They were both raised in monogamous households, so complete faithfulness was their default. Until three years into their marriage, and a day after the couple watched a documentary on concubines together, her husband confessed to her that he had romantic feelings for someone who shared those feelings with him. “The way that he told me wasn't like he was telling me he had feelings for this woman and they had consummated their feelings, and he wasn't asking me for permission. It was him coming to me, being open and asking that we have a conversation about it because he just didn't know what to do with it. That was the first time I heard the word 'polyamory.'"

Understandably, Whitney felt betrayed and describes that turning point in their relationship as a very tough time with the word “divorce" even rearing its ugly head in conversation. Six months later, however, Whitney developed feelings for someone else. In her realizing her feelings for someone else, she also uncovered her bisexuality and queerness.

“I wanted to uncover and live a part of myself that I didn't really have the opportunity to do because I got married so young. My queerness is very important to me, and I didn't want to feel like my sexuality or my individuality was hindered because of being in a relationship with someone. That's when we started to have a real conversation about what it would look like if we had a non-monogamous relationship."

"I thought I owned him. You don't own anyone."

The Transition Into Polyamory

The transition from a monogamous marriage to a marriage that was polyamorous was not a smooth one. There were a lot of road bumps along the road to the seemingly blissful place it is now several years later. “We had to unlearn a lot of our beliefs that we learned about love and relationships and marriage and sex and sexuality. That was rocky for us both. I learned I had some really messed up views of who my partner was. I thought I owned him. You don't own anyone."

Whitney had no idea the benefits that would come from engaging in a polyamorous marriage, but she says she has maintained her individuality, autonomy and sovereignty even while fully committed for life to another.

“The sex is amazing," she says with a smile.

“When I know that partner desires someone else, but he chooses me, he chooses to come home to me, he chooses to share his life with me––that is the biggest compliment and the biggest gesture of love there is. It's also really hot that I can go out and date other people and experiment with queerness and to uphold that and figure that out and my partner supports me. It's so beautiful to me."

Whitney is a champion for polyamory relationships, namely because it works so well with the dynamic she and her husband have established, but she doesn't want people to get it twisted and see her marriage as #goals. “Non-monogamy is not for everyone. Monogamy is also not for everyone. When we take the time to question the way that we are going along with templates, I think it's important for us to choose how we want our relationships to look and the kinds of relationships we want to have."

"Non-monogamy is not for everyone. Monogamy is also not for everyone."

5 Things to Do Before Becoming Polyamorous:

  • Ask your partner questions about jealousy, ownership, and independence.
  • Have conversations about what healthy love looks like.
  • Discuss and discover your true stance on monogamy.
  • Read books. Start with Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open by Tristan Taorimino and work your way through The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Read them alone and with your partner.
  • Make sure that the foundation of your relationship is strong enough to withstand the dynamics of polyamory and introducing new people inside of your relationship.

Connect with Ev'Yan on other spaces around the web via her blog and Instagram.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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