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‘Polycule’ relationships are a bureaucratic nightmare

Whose idea was this? Credit: Getty

April 17, 2024 - 7:20pm

There’s a lot to say about The New York Timesprofile of a 20-person polycule in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an article that reads like a very tedious one-act play or a very short History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

As is typical for the genre, all the big questions go unanswered, like, “why?” The interviewees demonstrate their mastery of the latest social-justice lingo, alongside world-historical levels of self-involvement and mind-bending logistics. Check back in seven months for the New York Times’ Gift Guide for The Dearly Beloved Non-Romantic-But-Occasionally-Sexual Life-Partner Pseudo-Wife in Your Life: “My husband, my nesting partner, is the person I own a home with. I also have life-partnership friends, I call them my wives, who are core members in the polycule. One of their husbands is one of my best friends and occasional sexual partner, and I do have sex with my wives, but we’re not romantically involved. But I love them”.

The pleasure of reading the article is, of course, purely and shamelessly voyeuristic. But the feelings it inspires are not envy or titillation but exhaustion and relief that one has never felt (or indeed ever heard of) “compersion” the feeling of “being happy seeing your partner happy with one of their other partners.”

The participants wax rhapsodic about liberation, authenticity, empowerment, and intentionality. “It is very much about social change,” Ann says. “It is about making the world a better place.” Nico praises the fact that the polycule is “female-run. It’s the female-identified people who spearhead.” Nonmonogamy is about “a bunch of queer women who say we’re not going to follow the rules.”

But there’s a strange gap between the high-flying pronouncements and the evidence that makes it unclear whether anyone is in fact being liberated, authentic, or empowered (intentionality, at least, seems to be in abundance). What’s being reinvented here? They’re 21st-century swingers — just with fewer leisure suits, more worksheets, and vague aspirations to split utility bills sometime down the road. The women — sorry, “female-identified people” — still seem to be carrying the mental load, responsible for resolving the scheduling nightmares nonmonogamy always seems to entail.

As far as “not follow[ing] the rules” goes, they seem merely to have replaced the old “monogamous script” with a new, infinitely more complicated one, torturously negotiated and renegotiated in “six to 10 hours of hard poly-processing” sessions.

Back in 1914, the revolutionary Emma Goldman imagined a future where free love between men and women might be possible: “Some day, men and women will rise, they will reach the mountain peak, they will meet big and strong and free, ready to receive, to partake, and to bask in the golden rays of love,” she wrote. “What fancy, what imagination, what poetic genius can foresee even approximately the potentialities of such a force in the life of men and women. If the world is ever to give birth to true companionship and oneness, not marriage, but love will be the parent.”

I’m not convinced Goldman would recognise the realisation of her vision in these Cambridge house parties, which seem less an exercise in human liberation than Human Resources. Clearly, some people want to turn their personal lives into HR nightmares as part of their “activism.” They surrounded themselves with dictates: Talk to/about me this way, not that way. Fill out these poly worksheets with me. Politicise every interaction, without realising or caring that there is no surer way to destroy everything you touch.

Somewhere along the way, the revolutionary spirit of free love — however impractical or impossible it may have been — got lost, replaced by thought exercises and pills to make you OK with the bad feelings that seeing your partner sleep with other people tends to stir up. Anyone can use the latest jargon to macerate ordinary human emotions. The problem of how to balance one’s “radical queer values” with the responsibility and consideration we owe to the people closest to us is a more delicate one. No one in this article seems to have mastered it.


Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student in psychiatry and the author of Writing Behavior on Substack.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
1 month ago

The problem of how to balance one’s “radical queer values” with the responsibility and consideration we owe to the people closest to us is a more delicate one.
The solution to the problem is to not have “radical queer values”. Just be a responsible and considerate person. Sometimes when I see these profiles I feel like I’m reading an advice column authored by Lenin: “Dear Vladimir, long-time reader, first-time writer. How do I balance being an inhumanly ruthless revolutionary with being a decent human being and loving father? Sincerely, Radical in Rochester.” “Dear Radical, you must embrace the revolutionary within while maintaining the illusion of decency without…”

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

I suspect most of these people are childless and will wind up old, lonely and bitter.

Darlene Craig
Darlene Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I hope they’re childless.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I suspect a fair few of them will eventually grow up and, in time, look back on that period in their lives with a sense of mortified embarrassment (and a full-body cringe).

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I had the misfortune to live in a shared house with such people in my youth. Not for long and thankfully whatever they got up to was usually undertaken elsewhere in other members of the group’s houses. Most are shuffling, muttering alkies or long term residents of the lunatic asylum these days, at least from what I hear as I have no desire to set eyes on them ever again.

The ones that grew out of it turned out fine, of course.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
1 month ago

I mean, I generally don’t really care what anyone else does in their private life, but stuff like this makes monogamy seem way more fun and carefree – and it really can be! 
Feeling valued and secure can be more freeing, in its own way.
I seriously doubt people who overcomplicate their home life to this extent are all that fun to be with; rather, they are likely too annoying to be worth the effort. 
Really, hearing about such arcane setups just makes me appreciate my own simple little two-person household even more. 
I’m also pretty sure I would rather just be alone, than in a “polycule”.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

Your last point is something worth considering further. How would any of the polyculiculars gain free time, i.e. time to be alone? Having to ‘service’ so many people (in more ways than one) sounds like a living nightmare. Perhaps they’d find ‘alone time’ to be something they can’t cope with, hence their choice of lifestyle. It won’t last.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Monogamy can be fun provided it is done in suitably small doses.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Monogamy is at its most satisfactory when practiced with only one partner at a time.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Yes, obviously. It wouldn’t be monogamy if it wasn’t. My point is that it is better if one moves from one monogamous partner to another fairly regularly.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Better for whom? I don’t notice any mention in the article of children. And on average, the life outcomes of children who see their mother (it’s mostly mothers, since the fathers tend to bu**er off pretty quickly) move from one partner to another, whether regularly or otherwise, are not particularly desirable.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Divorce is pretty much the standard nowadays, so kids are every chance of growing up in what used to be called a “broken home” anyway. There is no stigma attached to it.

Jane Doe
Jane Doe
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Divorce is not the standard among my large group of longtime friends or my extended family. As far as no stigma attached to divorce, that has little to do with the effect it has on children whose parents are divorced.

Road Best Traveled
Road Best Traveled
29 days ago
Reply to  Jane Doe

Divorce is not the standard in my circle either. I have a grandmother whose husband got another woman pregnant while she was pregnant with my dad, a mother who is constantly put down by her husband (my dad), a friend whose husband never helps with the kids and is totally emotionally absent, a good friend whose wife seriously emotionally abuses him…idk…maybe all the people in my life who aren’t divorced should be!

Ali W
Ali W
29 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Stigma isn’t what causes issues for children from broken homes, it’s the instability that creates insecurity, attachment issues, and low expectations of marital commitment down the road.
Source: I am a product of divorce, joint custody (going back and forth between 2 households), and the revolving door of both parents’ dating partners subsequent to their divorce. Not to mention the multiple moves that both parents made while restabilizing their own lives after the split (9 schools by the time I graduated high school).

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Better for whom?

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Better for everybody concerned. Stay in a relationship while it is good. Leave when it stops being so.

Kat L
Kat L
28 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

As long as the partners know you can’t be relied on if the going gets rough, adults make their own choices.

Roland Jeffery
Roland Jeffery
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

These comments – and I suspect Mondegreen and the Cambridge Massachusetts group of metropolitans – seem to think that there is a more or less binary alternative to monogramy and it is polycular. But there are other ways, that have flourished at various times and places. My own first encounter with them was in the 1970s among gay and bisexual men, fed by wide discussion of relationships in a context when all our relationships were to some extent experiments in living (they could not be officially recognised and most of us then thought they would not be in our lifetime).
So, we learned on the case—and it was sometimes bumpy and painful—that you could be faithful to a partner without that term requiring sexual monogamy. Unburdening a faithful relationship of a requirement for sexual monogamy gives it a much better chance of surviving, as countless couples of all sexualities have since testified. This seems to apply even in the case that the partners rarely exercise the agreed freedoms. Of course, there needs to be an understanding, honest and equal faithful relationship for this to work. And it wont be for those whose instincts about partnering seem still to be wedded to a kind of mutual ownership, something which traditional marriages—and, paradoxically, divorce lawyers—both encourage.
It is encouraged too, by religious zealots of all stripes of the sort who put a wholly disproportionate emphasis on sex acts as a type of human communication. It is not the language that is spoken between two humans that matters, but what is said. I suspect that in many unrecorded lives over many centuries the de-coupling of faithful relationships and monogamy has been widespread, quietly and successfully practiced. But the record is patchy and very sparse; very few people historically have written this stuff up, even in private diaries, let alone in the New York Times.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
1 month ago
Reply to  Roland Jeffery

Yes, gay men rarely seem to practice sexual monogamy, but then their sexual behaviours aren’t going to result in children. Despite the Pill, contraceptives fail and babies result who need stability. In the 1970s we talked about “open marriage ” nothing new under the sun. Few of those marriages seem to have survived.

Roland Jeffery
Roland Jeffery
21 days ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Thats just my point. It isnt just open v. closed partnerships. How about faithful (committed if you like) but non-monogamous? Its not just middle-way-ism but opens subtler possibilities to be with those who matter most in your life; no obligation, just for those it suits.
If open marriages in your sphere of the 1970s have not survived to 2024 thats not surprising. Many of the most traditionally based ones haven’t either. Marriage needs a re-think.

Road Best Traveled
Road Best Traveled
29 days ago
Reply to  Roland Jeffery

Lovely share. Yes, there is more to not being monogamous than meets the eye. I’d say it’s not for most, but it is a necessity for the happiness of some. I support monogamous people in their choice and I expect the same respect.

Kat L
Kat L
28 days ago
Reply to  Roland Jeffery

Despite what normies were sold, the relationships of hets and others are not the same.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago

Or as the late, great George Michael put it:
“Sex is natural, sex is fun. Sex is best when it’s one on one.”

Kat L
Kat L
28 days ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Not speaking for himself of course…LOL

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

When the welfare state collapses due to mass immigration the nuclear family will quickly make a comeback.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Extended family will probably be required.

Christopher Michael Barrett
Christopher Michael Barrett
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

You mean to say Traditional family. Multigenerarional households include grandparents and the collapse of the welfare state will include the collapse of retirement homes.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 month ago

And I would rather be alone than listen to a member discuss xis/xer “polycule.”

James Lennox
James Lennox
22 days ago

Agreed monogamy is the Dream for me

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

I’m exhausted after two paragraphs. All I can say is let them get on with it, as long as I’m not going to be expected at some to believe they’ve all discovered something fundamental or that they represent some sort of norm I now have to accommodate.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You’re going to,at some future point be expected to pay out for it in some way. All through human history many people HAVE lived like this,the Court of our King Charles 11 comes to mind,so it’s nothing NEW but this is the first step to a boring,long running campaign to get some sort of legal status.
That could be interesting. It’s one thing to have one person,your legally recognised partner inherit your pension rights but if 20 people all have a claim. Ha ha ha could be interesting. Job creation for lawyers

Danny D
Danny D
1 month ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You will be expected to approve of their depravity eventually, when they ask for their setups to be legitimised through marriage laws, same as with considering men to be women and gender a social construct. They’ll march through the institutions.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
1 month ago

I’d take an afternoon at the garden centre with the wife over this shit anyday.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

I’d take watching The Sound of Music with my wife over this shit.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Sorry, that’s A Bridge Too Far for me.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

In which case, it probably isn’t for you.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

I appreciate your sentiments wrt the article, but I am somewhat put off by your flippancy regarding garden centres. They are places of floral joy. Seeds. Fertiliser. Not to mention infinitely useful tools ranging from the humble rake to the wonderous well engineered copper oscillating reciprocating hoe.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

What on earth is a “copper osc…?” Never mind, I don’t want to know.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Wont someone please think of the children ?

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

They probably do. Poor kids.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Ha ha. Good one….

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Oh they do all the time – all kinds of deviant fantasies at work

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

Queer is wanting civilization to burn. That is how I see these sad sacks.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago

Some people turn their marriages into a three act, Wagnerian opera, full of sturm und drang. It’s a very self-destructive form of domestic entertainment. Think of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Or George and Martha, in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
These people have taken it to the next level. They are so busy with each other, do they ever have time to, you know, read a book or hold down a job?

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago

Free Love ?

It’s like a Free Lunch; there’s no such thing.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

This is how it starts. They do this. It’s really about gaining a legal status. I’m not clear in this how that would work. But a legal status of some sort usually has a Kerching aspect to it.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  jane baker

Kerching? Is that near Basingstoke?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

I thought it had something to do with ancient Tibetan wisdom.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

I don’t know but Amal Clooney lives there and I think Cherie Blair is a neighbour.

Thomas Donald
Thomas Donald
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Boom.

John Murray
John Murray
1 month ago

Check in with the members of the “polycule” about, say, two years from now, especially the female members, and I suspect you’ll find a very different perspective on just how progressive and “female-led” it was.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago

Yeah,yeah,yeah. YAWN. This is ALWAYS how it starts. This is just as usual pigs heading for the trough. I mean that as usual in human affairs it’s all about MONEY. It starts like this,presentations in the legacy media of wistfully romantic people who would be SO HAPPY and well adjusted if only all the normies,the consumers of the legacy media would just accept their relationship,but of course everybody does,be it approvingly or with censure. What they are going after is some form of LEGAL RECOGNITION that of course entails some sort of FINANCIAL aspect. It’s all about Money.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago

They are not the first preachers of this sh.t.
The same thing has happened more than once in human history.
The Russian Revolution proved fertile ground for the brief flowering of free love.
All utopians had the theory that everyone has to f.ck with everyone. The most responsible of them, starting with Plato, were still worried about improving human’s breed and proposed appointing special breeders to determine who should f.ck whom.
My personal favorite is the story of the Münster rebellion. There are a lot of picturesque details: “rob the rich”, “all wives are common” and a happy ending at the end, when the participants in this booth were chopped into salad, and the corpses of the main ideologists had placed in iron cages at the church. The cages are still hanging there.
For those unfamiliar with this story, I highly recommend.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

I might have guessed that the Church had a role in supressing this. They supress everything they consider deviant (except of course the “deviant” things that they themselves favour).

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

The experience of millennia (I am not exaggerating, since millenarian epidemics have existed for millennia) convinces us that it was religion that helped heal peoples from these epidemics, which always gave rise to violence and death. The petty sins of religion cannot be compared with the fits of millenarian madness.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

“Petty sins of religion”? The fact that a large portion of the clergy of the Catholic Church are raving pedophiles, and the the rest of them helped the first lot cover their activities up?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

4%, apparently. While that’s 4% too many, it does lead one to question your mathematical ability.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Let’s say your figure is correct, although I doubt it. Let’s also overlook your ignoring of the fact that for every child abusing Catholic Priest, a lot of other Catholic Priests must have helped cover up the activities, or at the very least turned a blind eye to their activities. Should an organisation containing that level of reprehensible criminal behaviour be anything other that reviled?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Not to nick-pick, but they weren’t actually pedophiles, but homosexuals as their targets were usually adolescent boys, not prepubescent ones.
I do appreciate your comment, however, and wonder what you make of this article on sex abused by public school educators in the U.S.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/has-media-ignored-sex-abuse-in-school/
It’s based on a study that came out about twenty years go and purports that the abuse in the public education system is far worse than anything that happened in the Catholic Church and yet oddly enough there has been very little hue and cry over this issue.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I can’t really speak on what happened in US schools, as I grew up in Australia. I can say that during my school years, there was no suggestion whatsoever that there was sexual abuse in government schools (although there were cases of it in the Scouts or sporting groups). However, even when I was a kid, the rumours of what happened in Catholic schools abounded. I guess the main difference is that in the Catholic system, the Church rallied round to protect Priests who were accused, thus perpetrating the system.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

My Mother said
Always look under the bed
Before you blow the candle out
See if there’s a man about
I always do
You can make a bet
But it’s never been my luck
To find a man there yet!

Nellie Wallace old time (and very funny)
Music Hall song performed on The Good Old Days many years ago but very memorably by a young,and hilarious Sue Pollard.

Seems to me a lot of people spend their time “looking under the bed”.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

This is all fun and games when you’re young and horny, but not sustainable in middle age when it all starts to become decidedly awkward and embarrassing. I mean how do you decide which partner should come to you work-do? Do you draw straws or take a different one each time?

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The second one. It is the fairest.

Sayantani G
Sayantani G
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Maybe ” car keys” as in ” swinger” couples of yore( though I am not sure environmental ” codes”allow fossil fuel guzzling vehicles for this sorry set!)

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

As is typical for the genre, all the big questions go unanswered, like, “why?”
Surely the big question is “why not”? At least someone is attempting to move beyond Judeo-Christian norms.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Don’t knock it till you try it.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well, I don’t think it is my kind of thing (having even one wife has proved too much for me on a number of occasions), but I am supportive of the concept.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

‘Taking fentanyl is not my thing but I’m supportive of the concept’ – as the cities burn, homelessness and mental illness, violent crime take over the centres. I’m guessing Martin that you live somewhere so benign that you are still immersed in a functioning but invisible reservoir of Judeo-Christian norms such that you can generalize the idea of rationality and constraint to all your neighbours…in so far as you know them… I would love to see you take the New York underground of a Saturday night, or dodge the human shit on the pavements of down down ‘Cisco.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Well, I live in Australia, which is unarguably a far less religious place than the US. I also don’t take Fentanyl, as it is not my thing (I know this for a fact, as I have been administered it in a medical context). I have been to the US. I was in Denver last year. It struct me as a nice place. I have also been to New York on a few occasions, although not as recently. The general suggestion seems to be that it was “way better than in the 1970s”.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

You live in Oz revealed as the world’s biggest open prison by COVID. Ha ha.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago

He doesn’t live in Portland Oregon for sure then.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Bloomin Eck,move beyond…I never even got there in the first place….where to then..Islamic norms,I approve. Four wives but you can beat them if theyre lippy.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
1 month ago

Must be nice to think one’s sexual pastimes make the “World” a better place… no, no it’s just a great way to gain attention and feel like you are something cool and special…

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago

I just pray they never bring children into this indulgent, immature muck. For every unrelated male in a household, the risk of a child being abused goes up substantially. Men are the perpetrators, but as a woman, I hold women accountable as the facilitators.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Uh huh. Fine for children to be abused by Catholic Priests though, right?

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Can we all just recognize that you like to bring Catholic priests into a lot of conversations, and then you don’t have to always write it out. We get it. Shielding abuse was a terrible thing. But we don’t have to bring it into every conversation, relevant or not. I am genuinely sorry if you were personally harmed, but even if so I don’t think bringing it up as the ultimate example of human hypocrisy is healing anybody or anything.

Road Best Traveled
Road Best Traveled
29 days ago
Reply to  Martin M

Uh no…let’s just not allow children to be abused by *anyone*. Ps, Catholic priests are males

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
1 month ago

No accommodations. No queer theory in schools. Public promotion of traditional marriage as the only legitimate context for children. Ban gay adoption. Ban surrogacy. Reverse gay marriage laws – back to civil partnerships. Natural law all the way down – because there is no middle ground. If America legitimates ‘polycules’ the natural law reaction when it comes will be Islamic and involve gay people swinging from cranes. There is a balance between the need for society to reproduce itself and not turn sex (or anything else) into an idol; and the humanity to understand inclinations and sexual ‘sin’/ concupiscence sit alongside many other forms of material idolatry and failures of self control….and shouldn’t be targeted for extreme vengeful suppression by the state. From the 1960s we got it right in terms of decriminalization but wrong in terms of the wider sexual revolution – and disastrously wrong with the morphing of feminist gender politics and a fetishistic liberal individualism into queer theory

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

What an absolutely miserable world that would be.

jane baker
jane baker
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

That’s MY WORLD you’re talking about. How very dare you!

Darlene Craig
Darlene Craig
1 month ago

I am so glad I got married back in the dark ages when we still said “for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, til death do we part.” Doesn’t always work out, but something to aspire to.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago
Reply to  Darlene Craig

I got married in the “dark ages” too. A couple of times. I got divorced back then too.

Thomas Donald
Thomas Donald
1 month ago

It’s why you always need an accountant and an attorney within the polycule, to take care of the bureaucracy while the rest of you cavort.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

Do you know I thought this was about small pieces of polyester used in the manufacture of clothing. Would have been a more enjoyable subject (though the article itself is good). “Two mostly straight women gingerly taking turns to go down on each other whilst he beats off in the corner” sums it up for me.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 month ago

Wokesters have found ways of sucking the fun out of everything – even sex.

Richard Kurth
Richard Kurth
1 month ago

Polycule is not exactly poetic, is it.

Mister Smith
Mister Smith
1 month ago

I doubt many of these people have jobs. If working, who would have time or energy for such frivolity?

Bruce Thorne
Bruce Thorne
1 month ago

It’s a cult. It will collapse. Best to ignore it.

Zeph Smith
Zeph Smith
1 month ago

I have an unusual background among commenters here, being in a polyamorous relationship which is approaching 50 years. I have a very rewarding and loving primary relationship (which is anathema to the relationship anarchists), and several other relationships of multiple decades. I have lived in a great triad for a dozen years and it looks like this will go on for the rest of our lives.
AND – this is just what works well for those of us involved. We are not special, we are not superior, it’s not our “identity”, we do not aim to radically restructure society, we are not trying to be the wave of the future, and while liberal we are definitely not fans of Critical Social Justice. We don’t need victim status or social applause – we just want to be left alone to do our voluntary thing.
The Boston polycule might be a wonderful thing; I don’t know them and this puff piece doesn’t give any real sense of it – it’s about the official story, and just like monogamous relationships, the official story presented to the world is sometimes edited to reinforce a narrative.
But I have to say that it sounds like they are a bit too attached to being Avant Garde for my taste. In my observation over the decades, the poly folks who were too proud of their polyness tended not to last. I would not be surprised if this polycule disintegrates fairly soon. If so I hope it was a great experience for them while it lasted. I’m not hostile and I wish them well, but I am wary.
A core component of polyamory was that it was all about custom relationships, designed and refined to fit the individuals involved (which is NOT the same as meeting everybody’s fanatasies with endless immediate gratification). There was no one right way for everybody. Adding Critical Social Justice (avoiding the w word here) with all of its judgementalism, shoulding on people, moral rightness competition, etc would tend to sabotage polyamory, in my own view, but if they can work it out, I support them going for it.
At least the cited “feelings are not facts” mantra seems encouraging. If they based their polycule on the progressive idea that “whoever is most fragile needs to have the most power”, it would have collapsed long ago. Good luck to them.

M Shewbridge
M Shewbridge
1 month ago

I’d be tempted to argue that they’re experimenting in liberating themselves from the prison of normal human emotions. That’s certainly something I try to do myself to an extent, and have some sympathy with. Stoicism, basically.
But it can’t be that, because identity politics is the very antithesis of stoicism, with its reverence of emotions over all else.
These people can do what they want, of course, but it’s weird that publications seem to think this is something we all ought to be paying special attention to.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago
Reply to  M Shewbridge

Stoicism has nothing to do with “liberating themselves from normal human emotions”. Rather, it emphasizes controlling emotions.

M Shewbridge
M Shewbridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

That’s hardly “nothing to do with”. My wording could have been better though.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago

No mention of children. Children are a consequence of normal heterosexual love. And here’s the thing – children are expensive. You must be time (the only finite resource) into the children. You must pay the dentist and buy clothing and food. And so, while your wife is f*****g Husband #3, who is breast-feeding the baby?
We have a pair-bond for children. If children come into this paradise of f*****g and sucking, what then?