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What Is Love?

The New York Times Bestseller Antifragile talks about things in our world that grow stronger from healthy stressors. The word “antifragile” describes systems that occur in nature, things that not only grow stronger from stress, but that actually weaken without positive stressors. A negative stress, for example, is a chronic stress; one that is never resolved and is ever present. Chronic stress breaks something that is antifragile; lack of stress weakens it. A positive stress is one that comes and goes, like physical stress from exercise.

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On the topic of human relationships, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the book’s author, says friendship is fragile, kinship is robust (stays the same) and attraction is antifragile. He doesn’t categorize love in this list– perhaps because it is a cloudy topic– or maybe because love is attraction.

Broadly, all love is attraction. But what more? In some cases it refers to a lasting deep attraction– in other cases a faint attraction- a subtle attraction. This could be attraction to clothes you love, books, people, experiences, activities. Yet in other cases- love refers to an uplifting, invigorating, exciting attraction. Of course I do think there is a difference between love and limerence. The high associated with limerence fades away. Love felt in different instances might be processed or considered differently – but I think when people use the word in any circumstance they are describing an attraction and bond to something. Sometimes it’s a bond they wish to cherish. When these things are not the case, when there is no attraction and no bond, the word “love” is not appropriate.

Love is an antifragile system. Without positive stressors that resolve, our love’s strength will fade and weaken. Neglected stressors that don’t resolve will break our love.

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In terms of romantic love, sometimes the bond is stronger than the attraction. Sometimes the attraction is stronger than the bond. The more intimate and more reciprocal a relationship is the deeper the love can be. The strongest relationships maintain mental and physical intimacy, attraction and bond.

What makes love last?

I do not think love is enough to last on its own device. It requires reenforcement and effort. It needs nourishment and positive stress. In The New York Times Bestseller The Female Brain Dr. Louann Brizendine says “the state of romantic love can be reignited by the threat or fear of losing one’s partner–” People in stable open relationships enjoy the benefits of positive emotional stressors firsthand. Eternal love is not effortless or experientially constant- if it lasts, it’s a ride and a journey (with ups and downs and varied experiences). If it doesn’t- it is not eternal. But that doesn’t deny the love’s existence.

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Some people think love is a temporary madness, or that you cannot maintain it. I disagree.

It’s noteworthy how muscles and attraction are in the same category of complex systems. At first the relationship between attraction and our physical bodies might seem funny, but I think it’s more understandable when one considers how both evolved from nature; they come from the same source.

From a more clinical perspective of evolutionary psychology– love is a neurological pattern characterized by certain brain states and hormones in the blood, namely oxytocin. Love is both a feeling and a belief. It’s function is to motivate, give pleasure, and manage connections between complex social animals. If we want love, we should be motivated to sustain it for ourselves. A better understanding of love can give a greater number of people hope uniting in solidarity.

Love is not an absolute. It is not immutable. Nothing is unchanging.  You must exercise your love. Exercise your compassion.

Images via via

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Polyglamorous Exclusive Interview With Christopher Ryan

On the subject of sex: “What I’m arguing against is the shame that is associated with desire. It’s the idea that if you love your husband or wife but you are still attracted to other people that there’s something wrong with you, there’s something wrong with your marriage, something wrong with your partner. I think a lot of families are fractured by unrealistic expectations that are based upon this false vision of human sexuality.”

Meet Christopher Ryan, Phd., co-author of the famed New York Times bestseller Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships.  It’s the winner of renowned scientific awards and referred to as “the single most important book on human sexuality since Aldred Kinsey unleashed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on the American public in 1948.”

Chris posits, “on an almost daily basis we are inundated with stories about the collapse of the latest celebrity marriage—and infidelity is almost always the cause of the break up. Is it even possible for two people to stay together happily over an extended period of time? Since Darwin’s day, we’ve been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. But it doesn’t, and never has. Mainstream science—as well as religious and cultural institutions—has long maintained that men and women evolved in nuclear families where a man’s possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman’s fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married and divorce rates keep climbing, while adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages.”

The book Sex at Dawn debunks false common knowledge about human sexuality, explains why sexuality exists and its relation to love. For anyone who wants a stable life full of love, this book has essential information inside. After reading this, it’s no wonder why anyone struggles with relationships.

In a presentation he gave at Ted Talks in 2012, “Why Is Sex Such A Big Deal?” Chris compares monogamy to vegetarianism. “It can be ethical, it can be healthy, it can be wonderful for the environment, it can be great in so many different ways, but the fact that you’ve chosen to be a vegetarian does not mean bacon suddenly stopped smelling good.” The discussion is continued in the Ted Talks “Are We Designed To Be Sexual Omnivores?” where Chris walks us through the controversial evidence that human beings are sexual omnivores by nature, in hopes that a more nuanced understanding may put an end to discrimination, shame and the kind of unrealistic expectations that kill relationships.

These days Chris travels a lot while speaking at venues like Ted Talks, writing for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post, and doing research. Chris took the time to answer a few of our questions.

PG EXCLUSIVE

Polyglamorous: There are not a lot of nonmonogamous role models for young people. What advice would you give to young people regarding how one should attempt to build their romantic life?
Chris Ryan: Be honest with yourself and then with your partners.

PG: Do you think people can control their own emotions?
CR: Of course. We do it every day. But controlling them doesn’t mean denying that they exist.

PG: Do you think it is healthy for people to exercise control over their emotions? Are there benefits to emotional intelligence? What should we learn (or interpret) from our emotions?
CR: Yes, but without slipping into the trap of thinking that controlling something means denying its existence or feeling shame about it. Shame feeds the thing we’re trying to control.

PG: As a shame exorcist would you have any advice how people should prepare for ridicule, besides being informed?
CR: Learning how to not give a shit is the most important lesson in life. It helps to experience humiliation, rejection, failure, poverty, and so on—and notice that all these things can end up being nothing more than interesting learning experiences. Take risks when you’re young, and you’ll fail a bunch of times. Failure creates character by showing you that you don’t have to worry about it.

PG: I think people value stability in relationships. What is the best way to establish and maintain trust?
CR: By being honest all the time—not just when it’s easy, or feels good.

PG: Is it possible to love more than one person at the same time?
CR: Of course. What mother doesn’t love all her children? As to romantic, sexual love … for some, it’s possible (even necessary). For others, impossible.

PG: How does one maintain love?
CR: One doesn’t. Love maintains us.

PG: Some young people are afraid of losing their partner in an open relationship– or losing their position in their lover’s eyes– what would you say to them? What is the best way to deal with this fear?
CR: We’re foolish to think we can control our relationships. They are organic things that live and die their own lives. If a relationship is meant to flourish over a long time, open honesty will only make it stronger (whether that means an open relationship or not). If it’s going to die, it will die whether it’s open or not.

PG: The lexicon for group relationships might be underdeveloped. Sometimes people ask about hierarchies– and how to deal with or avoid them– would you say there can be any similarity between the love of a large group of friends, or a group of siblings– are there different types of love– or is it all the same in varying degrees?
CR: I think there’s a lot of confusion created by linguistic poverty. I “love” my wife, my mother, my friends, Beethoven, Parliament Funkadelic, and manchego cheese. Clearly, these are not all the same feelings.

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Fashion Stylist Shakira Elliott

Bold and beautiful. Meet Shakira Elliott the newest Jungler across the Atlantic to join the ranks of Polyglamorous.

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Shakira is a London based talented stylist offering services to private and professional clients. She works in television, and styles for photography and video shoots. She is also a fashion consultant on music tours, and offers everything from wardrobe management to assisted styling and personal shopping! Shakira has also styled celebrities such as Avicii, One Republic, and Tyger Drew Honey.

Shakira loves to travel and immerse herself in new environments. Her favorite part of traveling is meeting interesting people and seeing how fashion is different in every part of the world. A true cosmopolitan, she draws her inspiration from various cultures.

Shakira writes her own blog which features Polyglamorous in its newest post.

Polyglamorous and Shakira are excited to be brainstorming new projects, and look forward to collaborating in the year ahead. As always, stay tuned for more–

photo credits
Tyger Drew Honey photography by Tom Cubis
Avicci – Denim and Supply – Ralph Lauren

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I’m not for one man – CityLife October 2014

I have started to speak more openly about my lifestyle to an audience in the Czech Republic. Recently, I was featured on the cover of City Life magazine which contained a fashion editorial and an interview with me. City Life is a supplement of the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes.

The article was provocatively titled “I’m Not Just For One Man,” and has stirred a bit of reaction. When the article released I was looking forward to join in the discussion boards and answer questions and concerns readers might have had for me. I was excited to see people’s reaction.

At first, I noticed a lot of dismissing remarks, mostly concerning my looks, as well as a lot of judgmental ones such as “what a slut,” or “how naive, young, incompetent.” None of those really surprised me. I have received comments like that before. It wasn’t that my ego was hurt, but I was really hoping to see a conversation starting question rather than irrelevant commentary about my eyebrows.

I realized which comments hurt me the most. It was the ones that said that I am engaging in polyamory simply because I haven’t met anyone that I am totally in love with, and that one day I would meet someone who I would want to keep for myself and I could not possibly manage to “share” with others.

This kind of reaction, I believe, dismisses me as naive and inexperienced. I think these comments attempt to degrade what I have with Jules, which is something incredibly strong and deeply romantic. People who meet us are surprised how close, comfortable, and enthusiastic we are about each other all the time. Mind you, we have lived together for three and a half years, spending pretty much every single day together, falling asleep in an embrace every night. We are in love, and I miss Jules almost immediately when we’re not together.

Our relationship is open BECAUSE it is so strong. I strongly suggest that you open your relationship only if you have a healthy relationship to begin with. Opening up is not a way to repair or save a relationship. If you don’t see a future with your partner, non-monogamy will most probably expedite a breakup. Polyamory is not a crutch, it is a way to push your relationship to the next stage.

Doesn’t it make sense, really? You need a strong foundation if you want to add some new, potentially disruptive, elements. You have to be able to navigate youself and your partner before welcoming others with loving arms.

One last remark: I have not opened my relationship to “find someone else” (even though my mom probably still thinks that. I have opened my relationship to explore things I haven’t explored yet. I don’t beleive we should limit ourselves to one partner, I think it creates dullness and stagnation).

Love is not finite. It is an abundant resource.

Here is a link for the preview on idnes website. If you are interested in the full interview, it can be found here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 (Both in Czech only).

Editorial acompanying the interview: Photo Petr Kozlik

Aesop Hand Balm: Niche Journal!

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My first review is up on Niche website! I tried the amazingly moisturizing and fast-absorbing Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm while searching for a product to keep my hands soft and hydrated during the cold winter season. It is a dream come true for everyone looking for a non-greasy, deep moisture! Check out the full review HERE!

Photo courtesy of NICHE

ELLE Czech Republic October 2014

The 20th anniversary issue of ELLE Czech Republic is featuring four top models on the cover and in the main fashion editorial. I had the honor to have been selected as one of them.

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I was photographed with Linda Vojtova, Denisa Dvorakova, and the legendary Daniela Pestova. The theme of the cover shoot was “All-American Girls.” All of us are originally from Czech (or Slovakia), and we all have lived in New York for a couple of years.

In the editorial, studio photography featuring the latest trends of fall 2014 including Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Dior, Marni, and others, was interlaced with signature 80s fashion style with white shirts and denim, using New York as a background. (more…)

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The Niche Apothecary

Jana has just joined The Niche Apothecary, a blog bringing you the latest discoveries in hard to find, niche, luxury cosmetics and fragrance products from around the world. Jana will be reviewing products she has tried, tested and most importantly fallen in love with. These products are not found in the mass market and many of them have an emphasis on natural and organic ingredients.

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Photo credit: www.nicheapothecary.com

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From Monogamy to Polyamory

What I appreciate about polyamory the most is its flexibility and its emphasis on communication, understanding, honesty, and emotional intelligence. You make your own rules. You stick to them, but you may change them as you need or as your circumstances evolve. You talk about everything with your partner(s).

Nowadays I like entering new relationships that are already open because I learned how to orient myself in an open/poly environment, I know what to expect, and I understand jealousy. However I believe there is something really interesting about starting out in a monogamous relationship and opening it up after a while.

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As Jules explains in detail in his post How we became polyamorous, we eased into non-monogamy together, helping each other along the way. We gave each other as much time as we needed to cope with the emotions and obstacles that we encountered along the way. We paced ourselves in order to nurture and grow our relationship.

We read a lot. I actually read more on the topic of non-monogamy than Jules at first: he started the polyamorous conversation by introducing The Moral Animal to me, but I was the one who became very curious and started reading books like “Opening Up” and “The Ethical Slut.” I had too many questions that needed answers, as is natural for anyone when introduced to a controversial topic. All the new knowledge made me comfortable with what I feel and what I believe. I totally re-evaluated my thoughts about jealousy and romantic love. I became more comfortable with intimacy, my body, and my sexuality. I evolved into a new person. (more…)

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Curiosity Saved the Cat

In his influential and oft-quoted book, The World Is Flat, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and pundit Thomas Friedman argues that “IQ still matters, but CQ and PQ—Curiosity Quotient and Passion Quotient—matter even more.” While I personally think that Friedman frequently oversimplifies complex concepts, I ardently agree with his assessment on the importance of curiosity and passion.

The old adage “curiosity killed the cat” cautions against the dangers of being too nosey or too cavalier, and has been invoked for hundreds of years to dampen dreams, allay ambition, and eschew enthusiasm. Yet, it is the openness of curiosity—and the passion that comes with it—that allow us to challenge convention, explore possibilities, and drive human progress.

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More than this, however, curiosity is an important factor in personal and professional success, as business psychologist Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argued in a recent Harvard Business Review post. An ample amount of recent research has demonstrated that people with high CQs can actually match the academic performance of people with high IQs. Studies have also confirmed that people with high CQs tend to be more innovative, more knowledgeable, and more adaptable to change. And, in a world where technology is relentlessly accelerating the rate of change, it will be those who are constantly questioning, experimenting, and dreaming that can keep up with the world, understand it, and master it. As Friedman writes, “give me a kid with a passion to learn and a curiosity to discover and I will take him or her over a less passionate kid with a high IQ every day of the week.” (more…)