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Follow the Leader: Authority-Based Relationships Uncovered

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

An expert on alternative lifestyles shatters myths on Master/slave relationships

Psychology Today

by Michael Aaron

This is the latest installment of interviews with speakers from the 2nd Annual AltSex NYC Conference, which was held on Friday, April 28 in a midtown NYC theater. Eric Pride, together with his wife Lady Christie, heads a structured authority-based household in New York, which celebrates its 15 year anniversary in 2017.  Eric enjoys consensual S&M, blogs on different aspects of the lifestyle, and gives presentations on alternative lifestyle relationships, structured authority-based living, S&M, ritual, and spirituality. He is a founding member and an instructor at the Master/slave Development Center, an educational group for Masters and slaves. He is also the founder of NYC Kinky Living (NYCKL) and the producer of the hands-on immersive full-day events EdgePlay, KinkWorks, PlaySpace, ROPESCAPE, ROPESCAPE 2 and Unleashed. His presentation at AltSex NYC was entitled Peeking under the Hood of Authority-Based Relationships: Structure, Dynamics, and Lifestyle.



​Q: Your presentation was on authority-based relationships. How would you define a relationship that is authority-based? Can you provide some examples?


A: I define an authority-based relationship as one in which the “leader” has been consensually granted authority by the “follower” to exercise control and power over them. A few examples of common authority-based relationships include “master/slave,” “dominant/submissive,” “daddy/boy,” “goddess/worm,” and “trainer/puppy”.


Q:  What are some reasons that people may be drawn to such relationships? What do they get out of it?


A: There are many reasons people might be drawn to the authority-based relationship structure. In living life, most of us seek to be fulfilled, or “whole.” Many of us may spend significant time seeking emotions and experiences to this end. One way in which we do this is by clearly defining and understanding our identities to reduce cognitive dissonance. Authority-based relationships can aid in this endeavor. In authority-based relationships, there is often great clarity about our roles, relationship, and expected behaviors. Values, beliefs, rules, and behavioral expectations need to be clearly defined for both leader and follower. Many people in authority-based relationships often describe their experience as being able to be their “whole selves,” by integrating kink/sex/power (an important part of their identity, for them) into their daily lives.



​Q: In your presentation, you referred to these relationships as "not just play" or "another form of BDSM." What is the distinction you make between these authority-based dynamics and BDSM?


A: The term BDSM was first used in a Usenet posting in 1991, to mean a combination of the abbreviations B/D (bondage and discipline), D/s (dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism). BDSM  can be a component of an authority-based relationship, but an authority-based relationship is not required to have any or all of these components as a part of it. I like to refer to authority-based relationships as a subgroup of “designer relationships,” relationships that are directly and explicitly designed and created by everyone involved. So, rather than residing in one category (polyamory, monogamy, 24/7, part time, bondage, sexually intimate, service-based, etc.), authority-based relationships can and do encompass any or all of the above by design of the individuals in the relationship.


Q: What are some of the most common structural elements of authority-based relationships? How on earth does one go about creating this type of relationship structure in the first place?


A: Authority-based relationships are negotiated and consensual social constructs, just as any one of the more common forms of relationships with which we are more familiar. The most basic structural element of an authority-based relationship is that the “follower” has granted authority to the “leader.” There are agreed-upon rules for the leader and follower, and expectations are set for everyone involved. Authority-based relationships often encompass many or all aspects of our lives, rather than selecting certain times or places to “act out” these roles. Rituals and symbols are frequently a part of authority-based relationships, such as a collar to symbolize belonging and commitment, and authority-based relationships regularly contain service components. ...

Please stop breaking up with my girlfriend

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

I was the one who wanted an open relationship. So why was I so upset when she and my roommate became involved?



Looking up from my drink and across the room, I watched my girlfriend and my roommate kiss for the first time.


It was her 21st birthday, five days into the spring of our junior year. Heads swiveled toward Elizabeth and Jamie as their kiss deepened. Quiet rippled out through the din of the party. In the background, Beyoncé continued to serenade us with “Drunk in Love.”




Jealousy welled up in me: I was the one who wanted an open relationship, not Elizabeth.


Crushes have always sprouted in me, independent of my will, like I live in an endless springtime. One blossoms for someone who feels right in my arms at a blues dance, another bursts for a classmate who writes achingly beautiful poetry — all the time, people pop up and make me dizzy.


But every time a crush budded, I felt like I’d betrayed Elizabeth. When I snipped it before it could fully bloom, I felt like I’d betrayed myself. I didn’t want to leave her, but I craved freedom to explore.


Several months before, I’d confessed this desire to her. “I want to give that to you,” she whispered — but the idea made her seethe with anxiety. Our time together was already a constant negotiation. She had to micromanage her schedule to balance a Mathematics major with ADHD, while my distaste for clocks and Google Calendar verged on phobia. We lived in glimpses and embraces between class; love slipped into the little spaces we had left over. She feared we’d have no time left at all if we were entangled with other people.


So as her mouth moved against Jamie’s in one of the loveliest kisses I’d ever seen, I felt a lot of things. Jealousy, yes, at the bitter irony that she had what I wanted. Confusion: Had she changed her mind, or was this just a drunken birthday kiss? Happiness, too — what some polyamorous people call “compersion” — that two people I loved were sharing this intimacy. And also a little private hope: that Elizabeth would understand me better now. Under my breath, I whispered, “Finally.”


As the night progressed, time warped around Jamie and Elizabeth’s kiss. It never stopped. I got drunker than I’d ever been. For the first time, I spent my night retching into a toilet. Elizabeth, after holding my hair, spent her first night in Jamie’s bed.


There was no privacy in our room; closeness was the way of our student-housing cooperative. The stairwells resounded with mandolin music. The walls of the gender-neutral shower room were sheened with orange grime. Nobody locked their doors, ever.


The third time I walked in on Jamie and Elizabeth kissing, we decided it was time to talk about it.



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We spoke for hours. Softly, carefully. Elizabeth held my gaze. Jamie averted it. “We need each other,” Elizabeth confessed.


“Okay,” I said.


They glanced at each other. “Okay? Really?”


“I never want to keep you from what you need,” I said. “Need is sacred.”


“Thank you,” Jamie told me, over and over. And, “I don’t deserve this.”


Maybe they didn’t. Jamie hadn’t yet told Sophie, their long-distance high school sweetheart and maybe-someday-fiancée, about kissing Elizabeth. “She’ll definitely be okay with it,” Jamie assured us.


I had my doubts that Sophie — who rarely used gender-neutral pronouns for Jamie and wanted them to be her husband, not her androgynous partner — would be a fan of polyamory.


But Elizabeth was beaming at me, moon-eyed. “I feel a hundred times lighter right now,” she said, “than I can remember having felt in I-don’t-know-how-many-months.”


We weren’t sure how we’d make it work, but we knew we’d figure it out. We had to. At dusk we walked to a campus café through swirling snow, arm-in-arm and arm-in-arm, giddy with laughter, embarking on this strange journey together.


The walk sticks out in my memory, because I think it was the last time all three of us were happy at once.


Later that night, Jamie called Sophie. Sure enough, they returned to the room and murmured, almost inaudibly, “This can’t happen anymore.”


But it kept happening.


Maybe I should’ve told Jamie and Elizabeth to stop. But watching them fall in love felt like falling in love myself. I liked when Jamie, half-asleep, would murmur, “I’m crazy about her,” and I would reply, “Right?!” I liked how Elizabeth told me little secrets and snippets of dialogue — and I liked the mystery of what she’d keep to herself. I liked waking up curled against her some mornings, and on others watching her stretch from Jamie’s bed, and waving to her.


But I hated how, wracked with guilt after Skyping with Sophie, Jamie would wrench themself away from Elizabeth.


It was a vicious cycle. Jamie couldn’t kiss Elizabeth without confessing the infidelity to Sophie, who insisted that this couldn’t continue. Jamie couldn’t help but agree and tell Elizabeth they had to break it off. Which left me stroking Elizabeth’s hair through the night as she wept and pined for all of the things they couldn’t do. Next week, they would find themselves alone together, and the cycle would begin again. ...

Nico Tortorella Gets Candid About His Polyamorous Relationship

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Access Hollywood

Nico Tortorella portrays heartthrob bachelor Josh on "Younger," but in his private life has been involved in an unconventional long-term relationship. The actor sits exclusively with Access Hollywood's Natalie Morales to define what being polyamorous means to him, and the prejudices he and his partner have encountered along the way. "Younger" airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on TV Land.


A new way to love: in praise of polyamory

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Polyamory isn’t monogamy and it isn’t swinging, it’s being open to having loving relationships with different people of different sexes at the same time, and in that way learning to love yourself, too

The Guardian

by Elf Lyons

I have never enjoyed typical monogamy. It makes me think of dowries and possessive prairie voles who mate for life, and historically all monogamous relationship models have owned women in some way, with marriage there for financial purposes and the ownership of property.


It opens the boundaries between friend and lover in a safe way

For the last few years I’ve defined myself as a polyamorist. Friends before defined me as a “friendly philanderer”. I love to kiss people. Friends usually, or women who wear polo-necks. Polyamory is consensual non- monogamy. It’s a philosophy. Rather than the active pursuing of multiple partners in a lascivious way, it’s the embracing and understanding that it’s possible to fall in love, and have relationships, with more than one person at the same time.


Alongside developing CEO-worthy skills in multitasking, polyamory is the most empowering way of loving that I have encountered. It gives women more autonomy than other relationship models ever have. Although monogamous relationship models work for many, they’re not the only way to have relationships in society. In non-monogamous relationships, their success relies on everything being on the table from the start. I believe that it could be the huge relationship revolution that the feminist movement needs.


Many think it’s about sex – it’s not. It’s not swinging. It’s not Pokémon Go, you don’t have to catch them all. It’s about the freedom to be honest about the evolving ways you feel. It opens up the boundaries between friend and lover in a safe and transparent way.



As a teen I questioned what it was to be adulterous. I saw infidelities on a different level to other friends. When partners mentioned they found other people attractive, I never minded. It made sense. “Why wouldn’t you want to kiss Stephanie? She’s a legend!” Apparently that was not considered a normal way to react.


If I had known as a teenager it was possible to love more than one person, it would have saved so much anxiety, guilt and time spent writing awful poetry. I spent years beating myself up about it. It often caused me to end relationships rashly, giving excuses like “I’m not ready to be in a relationship,” or “I have commitment issues,” or “I’m not into Warhammer as much as you think.” I didn’t want to end the relationships, but admitting how I felt seemed a worse betrayal, so I would lie, breaking friendships in the process.


I discovered polyamory when I was 23. I met a parliament of poly performers at the Adelaide Festival who were hippyish, liberal and kind. These performers spoke about their partners, children, poly-families. There were ex-couples who were working together on shows while their other poly families toured elsewhere, married couples who had live-in partners, triumvirates where they all balanced an equal partnership. I was entranced by their openness. It seemed symbolic of our changing global world, and most peoples developing nomadic lifestyles where we travel for work and find love with others on the way. ...

Polyamorous marriage: Is there a future for three-way weddings?

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

BBC News

By Jasmine Taylor-Coleman

A so-called "throuple" in Colombia have been hailed as having the first legal union between three men in the world. So will we see three-way marriages in the future?

"Victor tells the bad jokes," says Manuel.

"Very bad," agrees his partner Alejandro.

"I tell the smart ones," says Manuel.

Manuel José Bermúdez Andrade, Víctor Hugo Prada and Alejandro Rodríguez are all in a relationship together. They used to be four but their boyfriend Alex Esnéider Zabala died in 2014.

"The decision to marry was there before Alex died, the four of us wanted to get married," says Víctor.

"Alex's cancer changed our plans. But I never gave up."

When Alex died, the remaining three, who live in the Colombian city of Medellín, say they had to fight to be seen as his partners and get access to his pension.

It made them all the more determined to get legal recognition of their relationship.


They are now planning their long-awaited wedding ceremony after a supportive lawyer signed a special legal document last month.

"A document that tells us we are a family, and live together as three under the same roof, sharing a bed, a table, everything a family does," explains Víctor.


The paperwork formalises their union, but it is not a full marriage certificate. Like in most countries - except those that accept polygamy - it is illegal to marry more than one person in Colombia.

But Alejandro, Manuel and Víctor's legal success is a big step forward in a world where group marriage has been firmly off the agenda.

Could cases like theirs signal the start of a concerted effort by campaigners to allow it?

"The movement is absolutely going to develop if the activists so choose," says Hadar Aviram, a professor of law at University of California in the US. ...

'Wonder Woman' gets a kinky real-life backstory in ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

USA Today

by Maeve McDermott

No, this isn't the trailer for the Wonder Woman sequel.


Instead of taking place in the same DC Extended Universe as Wonder Woman's smash-hit film adaptation earlier this year, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women is a biopic that tells the story of Professor William Marston, who penned the original series under the pseudonym Charles Moulton.


In fact, the Wonder Woman comics have a backstory that's significantly more risqué than DC's recent Gal Gadot-led film. Set in the 1940s, Professor Marston's titular character (Luke Evans) engages in a sordid love triangle with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their shared romantic partner Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).


Professor Marston & the Wonder Women arrives in theaters Oct. 27.

Relationship Satisfaction Entails Playing By the Rules

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Psychology Today

by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. 

The so-called “standard” type of relationship in which both partners in a couple are monogamous doesn’t work for everyone.  In some of these alternative relationships, one partner may engage in sexual activities outside of the couple but not let the other partner know.  Another, the “monogamish” relationship, occurs when both partners agree that they can have extramarital sex but only as a threesome. In open relationships, both partners are free to engage with other partners but be in love with only one, and in polyamory, both partners can have multiple relationships of a romantic or sexual nature, with all parties aware of and consenting to the relationship. The question of whether “all in love is fair,” becomes one of determining whether people can be as satisfied in any of these relationships, as long as they agree to whatever the arrangement is that they work out with each other.

University of Quebec in Montreal researcher Léa J. Séguin and colleagues (2017) investigated the satisfaction of couples living according to differing types of “relationship agreements.” They noted that although some previous studies suggested that non-monogamy is healthiest for relationship quality, other researchers found no differences in such factors as jealousy, trust, and overall satisfaction. The Montreal team believes that the discrepancies in the literature can be accounted for by various unique aspects of sample characteristics and the particular measures of satisfaction they used. Most importantly, perhaps, the previous studies included samples only of gay men, among whom polyamory has tended to be more prevalent. To resolve these issues, Séguin and her collaborators compared relationship types among sexually diverse samples of men and women focusing on the monogamous, open, and polyamorous arrangements.

Using a sample of 3,463 adults living across all Canadian provinces and territories recruited via social media, Séguin et al. were able to obtain sufficient numbers across the three relationship types to allow comparisons to be made on several key measures of relationship health. The sample was large enough, in addition, to permit control for such important factors as age, sex, length of relationship, cohabitation status, and sexual orientation as well as the combined factors of sex and sexual orientation. Thus, this was the largest investigation to date in which it was possible to rule out many of the important qualities that could bias the results of relationship type comparisons.

The tricky feature of a study examining the multiple relationships of any one partner is that the participant needs to pick one of several possible individuals to use as the basis for rating. Therefore, the researchers instructed the survey responders to pick the most significant of their possible relationship partners. A 17-item questionnaire measured satisfaction with 5 aspects of this relationship: sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, closeness, trust, and commitment.  Additionally, participants answered a set of questions concerning whether they felt they were getting as much as they were giving in the relationship. Participants also described their relationships as monogamous (only one romantic partner and monogamous sexual agreement), open (explicit agreement that sex with multiple partners was permissible), and polyamorous (more than one romantic partner and agreement on the relationship rules).

One advantage of this study was that the online format of the questionnaires would allow participants to express their honest views about the relationship without worrying that they needed to look good to the researchers. Participants did complete a consent form, and were informed that their responses from the 20-45 minute survey would be recorded anonymously.  Imagining yourself completing such a survey, you can perhaps therefore appreciate that there was no reason for participants to try to hide the details of their sex lives. If you didn’t want to complete the survey, your participation was entirely voluntary anyhow. Another advantage of the study’s methods is that respondents were solicited through multiple sources rather than support groups for polyamorous couples (as has been true in other studies).

Now, onto the findings. The large majority (nearly 80 percent) of participants were monogamous, a small percentage were in open relationships (14 percent) and the remainder were in polyamorous relationships (7 percent). Most of the participants were women, a large percentage (62 percent) were students, and the average age was about 29 years old. With enough of a spread among the sample among other factors such as relationship duration and sexual orientation, the findings showed clearly that there was no down side to being in an open or polyamorous relationship compared to the monogamous variety. Monogamous individuals were most likely to be heterosexual, open-relationship individuals to be homosexual, and those in polyamorous to be bisexual. Nevertheless, there were large percentages of heterosexual individuals in these two non-monogamous relationship types,

Overall, participants in each of the three relationship types reported being very satisfied with their relationships. It’s possible that the study contained an inadvertent bias, then, and that people unhappy with their partners would have preferred not to participate in the first place. Even with this limitation in mind, the number of controls instituted in the analyses provide at least some assurance of the validity of the results. Of course, the study authors provide the usual caution that further studies on even more representative samples are needed.  ...

Dallas Symposium Puts Polyamory On Center Stage

on Friday, 21 July 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Dallas Observer


During Marla Stewart’s presentation of “Being Black, Poly and Kinky: Navigating Power, Equity and Anarchy in Alternative Relationship Modalities,” she encouraged members of the audience to think about their polyamorous relationships. The lecture was just one part of the third annual, three-day PolyDallas Millennium this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Hotel off Interstate 35.

According to Merriam-Webster, polyamorous means "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." Therapist Ruby Johnson founded the symposium three years ago when she realized there was no training for polyamory in Dallas.

“My thoughts were and are ... maybe we can have some de-mythification," she says. "It's not so much deviance and it's going to break down the fabric of America.”


Attendance at the conference is growing. The inaugural event hosted about 30 people during one day. The second year, it expanded to a day and a half, and this year, it took place over three days. About 80 to 100 people attended, Johnson says, and she suspects about 10 percent were not in a polyamorous relationship but simply curious about the lifestyle.


Iris Muscarella attended with her girlfriend and boyfriend. She spoke several times during Stewart’s lecture, explaining that she has been in a nonmonogamous relationship since she was 16.

“It was the first place someone didn’t tell me to be less,” Muscarella told the crowd and Stewart. “Well I made them feel less, but they loved it.” The crowd laughed.

Muscarella’s girlfriend, Jessica Hoffman, says she enjoys PolyDallas because there is no matchmaking overtone. “A lot of other events where you can get to know each other, it might be a little bit more like get to know each other with the end result of maybe finding someone, but here that’s, like, super back burner,” she says. “It’s more about education, being yourself and personal journey, but also building a community.”

Muscarella, Hoffman and Muscarella’s boyfriend, Sean Sparks, say coming out as polyamorous in Dallas hasn’t been that difficult, although there are some misconceptions. “I think Dallas has a lot of conservative pockets,” Muscarella says. “If you’re trying to date outside of the poly community, it can turn into this whole thing of, 'You’re just slutty and you don’t want any kind of meaning in your relationship.'”

Johnson says there are many misconceptions about polyamory. One is that it’s “polyfuckery,” in which people just go out and have sex. Instead, she says, it’s about many loves and being open to loving people. Johnson also says it’s not just an excuse to cheat, and it’s not just about couples.

"There's all kinds of structures,” she says. “There’s people who are solo-poly, which is they are by themselves; there's individuals who are in quads, who are in polyamorous families.”...

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