On Beyond Jealousy:
Keristans on the Donahue Show

July 1, 1980

return to Kerista Home

copyright Polyfidelity: Sex in the Kerista Commune and Other Related Theories on How to Solve the World's Problems - 1980

In the May 1980 issue of Psychology Today there appeared a lead article on the subject of jealousy. Featured in the article was a two-page spread entitled "Polyfidelity: the Kerista Village Ideal," which discussed the Keristan communal experiment, with its total absence of jealousy. When we first saw the spread, Jud said, with humor, "Here comes Phil Donahue!" Sure enough, a few days later, we received a call from a staff person on Phil Donahue's Today Show segment. Laf and Eve flew to Chicago to do two 7-minute spots on the subject of polyfidelity and jealousy. At the end of the taping, Phil commented that it was a lot to try to get into such a short run. Eve said, "Why don't you put us on your regular show?". . . which he did. So Eve, Lil and Ram went to Cleveland, and the contents of their conversations on the Donahue show are transcribed here. The transcendence of jealousy seems to be the favorite theme of newspeople when contacting Keristans. We have since appeared on a number of other talk shows around the country talking about how we did it, including a recent spot on 20/20. -Ed.

July 1, 1980

WEWS-TV, Cleveland, Ohio

Mr. Phil Donahue
Dr. Gregory L. White
Kerista Villagers

AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: Thank you. I'm glad you made it. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Whenever I feel blue, I'm coming here. You are the best happy pill I've - You're the best natural high you could have. This is our second show from my hometown, the best location in the nation, Cleveland, Ohio.
AUDIENCE: (Yea!) (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: We have in our company here in Cleveland, three members of Kerista Village, which is located in the Haight-Ashbury district of - San Francisco area, huh? Bay area. Also here is Gregory White, PhD. Dr. White is a social psychologist. The three on the right are members of this village. Let me tell you what I know about your village, and you let me know - This is an experiment in communal living, in which relationships are not monogamous. How many men?
RAM: There are eight men.
LIL: Yeah. Eight men and seven women in our community, and two children.
MR. DONAHUE: Okay. And you are - I'm sorry to go right for the - We're all wondering about the sex part, you know.
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
MR. DONAHUE: Apparently, you do sleep with each other.
LIL: Right. The family structure that we have is called polyfidelity, and as the word sounds, it's fidelity to a group of people in family units. Now, of the 15 adults who are in our community, we are not all in the same family, so we are not all sleeping together. There's one family of eight adults, another of three, another of two, and there are two individuals who are not members of any family. They're looking. (Chuckles)
MR. DONAHUE: All right. There's one family of eight adults?
LIL: Yes.
MR. DONAHUE: Four men and four women?
EVE: No. Lil and I are two of the people in that group. There are three men and five women in the group.
MR. DONAHUE: But how do you go to bed with one man on Tuesday and another man on Wednesday, and then feel good on Thursday?
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
LIL AND EVE (TOGETHER): Oh, it's very easy! (laughter)
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
EVE: It works out just fine. I mean, we think of ourselves as best friends. Actually, we call the kind of family that it is a best friend identity cluster. We take a long time getting to know people before they would come into it, and it's very selective. I think it's as selective, probably even more selective, than a marriage might be because all the people have to be very compatible, not just two.
MR. DONAHUE: But how - Why isn't this immmoral?
RAM: Why isn't it immoral is - To me, it's very obvious because I see nothing wrong with having a best friend relationship with a man, as well as with a woman, and I also feel a very natural desire to experience intimacy with more than one person.
MR. DONAHUE: But aren't you jealous of the other guys that are sleep ing with your -
RAM: No. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to be charming, and I'm selecting as carefully -
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
RAM: - as any couple could select their mate. I'm selecting the people to be in my family.
MR. DONAHUE: Right. Right.
EVE: But let me tell you something else about the morality thing. We are fidelitous. We do intend to spend the rest of our lives together, to raise our children together -
MR. DONAHUE: You are faithful to the other people in your familt, you're saying, even though there may be more than one man involved.
LIL: That's right. Very much so. We feel we are in love with each other. We feel, in fact, that in a lot of ways we're very traditional. There are just a few more of us.
MR. DONAHUE: So you wouldn't see someone here in Cleveland on the sly, so to speak, before you leave. Seriously, that would be cheating, huh?
RAM: Definitely not.
LIL: Yeah. Our standard on fidelity is absolute. That's why we're in the thing. And basically, what we're all looking for, I think, is the best of both worlds between traditional marriage, monogamy. We wanted the trust and the depth of intimacy, the lifetime intention of involvement, and we wanted to be raising children together, but we also found that, as individuals, we wanted variety in that intimacy, and so our new structure is to try to combine the best features.
MR. DONAHUE: But you've got to like some guys better than the others, or one guy better than the other. I mean, there's got to be - huh?
EVE: Well, people always bring that up, and I think we are all so used to that, and we're all so convinced just from what we see around us, growing up, and the way we're conditioned, that we expect that to be so, but we've found that it's something you learn, not something that's innate in people. And, of course, everyone is different. I mean, there's no way that my relationship with any one of my partners is gonna be identical to any other, and yet, I can appreciate the uniqueness. I think, to some degree, you have to learn this new way of thinking, of cultivating ...
LIL: One of the very good analogies is the analogy of fruit, that you like all the different kinds of fruit, and if you had to choose which fruit you would eat to the exclusion of all others for the rest of your life -
LIL: (laughter)
MR. DONAHUE: Did you understand the "ohs"? The problem here is that we're talking about people, not fruit.
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
LIL: Right.
MR. DONAHUE: Well, it's not
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: This is not -
RAM: - But the real question here is, is there anything inherently wrong with forming best friend relationships with more than one person? Is there anything wrong with having more than one person in your primary relationship ring?
MR. DONAHUE: What about children, offspring? Who's the father? And do you care? And -
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
EVE: It's worked - we decide before who the father is, but all of the people in the family, all the men, for instance, are involved in raising the children as fathers, all of the women participate.
MR. DONAHUE: But you do know who your - What do you do, practice birth control, if you want to have a child, for all the men except the one that you want to father your child? Is that how that works?
EVE: Uh-huh. But it isn't a question of wanting one person to father the child, in the sense of being preferential.
MR. DONAHUE: You want your child to be raised by more than one man -
EVE: Right.
MR. DONAHUE: - in a loving way.
EVE: All of the men and all of the women in the family and in the community, as a whole, are taking responsibility for parenting.
RAM: It's really a beautiful idea. I mean, if you can imagine a wholesome, nuclear family, where there are two loving adults, and the child had benefit of two loving adults. Well, we're talking about a child having the benefit of 15 loving adults.
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. But what does it do to a child who grows up in a monogamous, nuclear family society, when he goes out and he realizes he's got two or three fathers, and the other kids only have one?
EVE: Well, we'll have to see. They're pretty little, yet, but I think the base of security they have is very strong. I mean, they know who their natural parents are.
MR. DONAHUE: Sure. Okay. This is not to pass judgment on you, and I truly - I appreciate - I asked you to be here because it's a fascinating study, and certainly, an unusual lifestyle that you've chosen. But you understand, I'm sure, that you are a parent's nightmare. I mean, this is what - Do you have any idea -
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: You understand that. All right.
RAM: But that's not true because some of our parents don't feel that way at all.
MR. DONAHUE: How about your folks? I mean, your folks are living.
LIL: My mother's living.
MR. DONAHUE: She must have died, when you told her, didn't she?
LIL: Well, I think it did come as a shock to her, and she still doesn't agree with many of the fundamental principles that we're living by, but I think she has a tremendous amount of respect for my sincerity, for all of our sincerity, and she's very supportive. I think our parents have a range, in terms of how supportive they are. Some are very supportive. Some think it's marvelous.
MR. DONAHUE: How about yours?
EVE: I think it's pretty similar. When I first got into it, which is going on ten years ago, my mother was very surprised. Both my parents, but particularly my mother. She was, I don't think, happy about it, but I think over the years, she's gotten to know some of the people and realizes we're all good people, that we are sincere, that I'm happy, that my child, her grandchild, is being raised by good people in a very positive way.
MR. DONAHUE: Why did you do this? Was there something about the world you left that you didn't like?
RAM: Well, for myself, I had tried, in a very sincere manner I had tried monogamy. I was raised in a good Catholic family. I was raised to believe that one person would make me happy in my life, and I gave that a real go-around. I mean, I really went at it sincerely.
MR. DONAHUE: I'm comin' to you, Sister, in a little bit. I'm gonna need your help.
AUDIENCE: (laughter and applause)
MR. DONAHUE: We've got a nun in the front row here. I'm sorry.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: Go ahead. What's your point now?
RAM: But it just burned out. I mean, I gave my best. I tried a romantic relationship. She was giving her best, and at some point, it broke down. And I refused to pin the blame on myself or the other person, saying that, "Well, both of us must have made mistakes or something" When I finally analyzed it, it seemed like to me that I was simply not interested in that type of lifestyle.
MR. DONAHUE: All right. How about you? What about the - tell us your feeling?
LIL: Well, I think that the same thing was true of me as it was of Ram. I myself flip-flopped in between very serious monogamous, romantic relationships and a looser world of affairs, and so forth, or whatever you want to call it. And there I found transience. I mean, I really wanted a family. I really wanted permanence in my relationships, but both of those systems didn't quite make it for me, and when I heard about polyfidelity, it made common sense to me, from the first, and then I just had to figure out, "Is it for real ? Does it work?" And so I observed for a while, and it seemed to, and so I made the jump.
EVE: In my case, I think, there were two things that I felt uncomfortable with. Personally, I don't know that it would - I knew it wasn't so for a lot of people, but for myself, the other lifestyles made me feel like I was gonna be either bored, that I wouldn't have enough friendship and enough interaction with people as I wanted, and also, lonely. And they kind of go together. And I felt this was an alternative, which I wanted to explore.
MR. DONAHUE: Couldn't you do that with a bungalow and a vegetable garden, and a husband and a car with station wagon with wood on the side?
RAM: But see, I don't think we're unique. I don't think we're unique. Statistics show that only 13 percent of the people in this country live in a traditional nuclear family, where the father goes out to work and the mother stays home and raises the children.
RAM: The statistics - you can question it, but it's that way.
MR. DONAHUE: His point is not that 13 per - Now hear his whole point. Thirteen percent of the people live in a nuclear family situation where the mother stays home every day, and the father goes - I'm not - It is true, that fewer and fewer kids are being raised by a mother who stays home and a father who goes out to work. That's your point. How do you feel about this, Dr. White? You're the - Huh?
DR. WHITE: Well, as I've been listening to the audience, I'm fascinated by their reaction. I could imagine if they wore robes and came from some far off continent, and had rings in their noses, and all that. The audience might think, "Oh, how very interesting all that is. What an interesting culture." I think one of the fascinating things to me, having learned a little bit about the Kerista Commune, is that they have tried to build a new culture. In fact, a lot of the things they've done is from a cultural point of view, they've changed the way of organizing a culture, which, when you look anthropologically, predisposes to jealousy. For example, we know anthropologically, that private property exists along with extreme jealousy in different cultures. And one thing they've done is to work to enlarge the definition of property to the commune, rather than just individual property. So part of the reaction is they're a part of us. They look like they could be brothers or sisters or children, and yet, they have a culture which is quite different. And that's where the contrast is interesting.
MR. DONAHUE: Are you saying to us that these young men and women can live in this situation without being jealous of each other?
DR. WHITE: Well, I believe their experience, that they don't get jealous. And from what I know of how they've organized themselves, very consciously trying to construct a different society, small as it is, is that from the research of colleagues, as well as myself, they've hit upon structures which would really reduce jealousy tremendously. It's not inherent.
MR. DONAHUE: Let's find out what these folks think about this.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Some of the thoughts that came through to me when you were talking was that you found that you tired of a monogamous marriage. I've been married eight years, and I found that interest - to have an interesting marriage, you have to work at it. It isn't given to you. You have to -
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: They agree.
RAM: I agree with you. I don't think - I'm not saying that you shouldn't have to work at a relationship, but I think at some point, if it becomes bogged down, where it's hopelessly - where equality is not present in a relationship, where you're losing self-esteem by staying in it, I don't think you owe that to anyone.
MR. DONAHUE: Right. So what's your point?
WOMAN: My point is, is that I think that they're copping out, that they haven't given their marriage the all that it deserved.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: Can I just chat with her a minute? You know, we really don't have an altogether, rah, rah, hooray, aren't we proud of this, record, in terms of marriage and monogamy in this country, huh? Will you give me that? And there are a staggeringly large number of people in marriage who are being cheated on. Now why is that? It is - And all they're saying is, "Look, let's try this way."
WOMAN: Well, you'd have to probably go to my background. I try to apply Bible principles in my life, and -
AUDIENCE: (applause)
WOMAN: - my husband and I are faithful to each other because of our religion, and because we have applied Bible principles. But aside from that, we have worked very hard to continue to make our marriage interesting, and to excite one another within the marriage arrangement, as God intended.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
LIL: I think that's just fine. I think that's a good thing. And I think there are a lot of good marriages. I think all that we are saying is that here's an alternative. There are some people for whom marriage is not satisfying, and for whom it does not work. Now do those people, such as ourselves, have to be forced into something that isn't gonna work for us?
MR. DONAHUE: Well, the suggestion is that if you tried it, you'd like it, that you didn't give it a chance. I think that's one of the points of this.
RAM: Right. But you're implying that there's only one way to have a culture, and I think that the American culture is built upon diversity in thinking, and I think we fit right into that.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Are these the same people you started out with, when you began? Or do you have a big turnover?
AUDIENCE: (laughter and applause)
LIL: We began in February of 1971. Eve was one of the co-founders, Eve and another man, and people have been joining at different points over the last nine to ten years. There is very little turnover of people, once people find themselves in the experiment for more than three to six months, for instance.
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. How many - I'm - How many people are in your family?
LIL: Eight; five women and three men, and we have two children.
MR. DONAHUE: Now who decides who's sleeping with who on Tuesday?
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
LIL: Well, what we have is a balanced cycle for that, which is just set up from the time you join the family. It happens to be chronological. So I was the second woman to join the family, so I just know that I sleep with the person that Eve slept with last night, and so on and so forth.
MR. DONAHUE: In other words, It's not potluck then. There's some order to this.
LIL: Yes. Uh-huh.
EVE: Yes.
MR. DONAHUE: In other words, you know who you're gonna be with Friday.
LIL: Yes. And that way, I don't have to put any mental energy into thinking, "Well, who am I gonna sleep with tonight?" Or making eyes at dinner. So, I mean, it's just a very ceremonial part of living.
AUDIENCE: (murmuring)
MR. DONAHUE: Right. Now, obviously, there are some nights when you sleep alone.
LIL: Yes. Which is no big deal. (laughter)
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I'd like to ask Dr. White a question. Going back to his comments about jealousy, it seemed to me that he was implying that jealousy was automatically a negative response to a situation. I would question that, just as I would question whether or not anger, love, joy, any of those normal, human emotions are either positive or negative. I think it's what we do with those responses that counts. So that I wouldn't see jealousy, necessarily, as negative.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
DR. WHITE: Oh, I absolutely agree. In fact, in some respects, jealousy is a wonderful thing. It tells you that you have doubts, maybe, about the relationship, or about yourself, helps you maybe to work on it, and it can have very positive results. And I agree, it's what you do with it.
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. But don't you know people that are just terrified? Aren't there women who just can't take their eyes off him throughout the entire cocktail party because he might be talkin' to somebody who's you know what? I mean, isn't that a terrible drag though, really? And aren't there a lot of people who suffer? Men, as well.
WOMAN: I guess I would see jealousy more as the natural response which comes from a relationship where two people have a sense of caring about each other and belonging to each other.
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. But there are some jealousies that are just staggering, they're stifling, they -
WOMAN: Sure. And there are angers that are staggering and stifling, and there are joys that are stifling.
MR. DONAHUE: So you felt that you know what jealousy is. Does your husband?
WOMAN: Certainly.
MR. DONAHUE: And you're saying - Well, you say 'certainly.' Isn't it an awful feeling to have, though?
WOMAN: I think it's what you do with those feelings. I think to say that those feelings, in and of themselves, are good or bad ... I think it's how we handle them.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
LIL: I used to be an exceptionally jealous person. And I agree that what you're trying to protect sometimes in jealousy are positive aspects of the relationship, but what I want to do, what I have done, is try to preserve those positive aspects without that uncomfortable feeling 'cause I found it a tremendously painful experience.
MR. DONAHUE: You had it, huh?
LIL: Oh, yes. (laughter)
MR. DONAHUE: You mean boys would, when you dated - And is that it?
LIL: Yeah. And also, I was very flirtatious, myself. Part of that was because I wanted to make the other person jealous so we would have an equality of jealousy, and it was a very circular kind of feeling, very uncomfortable. I found myself in it frequently.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I'm concerned about the children. Who is responsible for disciplining them? I think when you have three men and five women that there would be a conflict in who would be disciplining the children.
EVE: We call the process we use for raising our children multiple parenting. We make a tremendous number of decisions about raising children a nd everything else, before people even come together. Things are talked out so we understand how we want to go about it, and continually, bringing up the children, we are discussing what's going on with them, how they're developing, what's the best way to handle a situation. Actually, I find that this kind of cooperative way of raising children cuts down the stress and the frustrations and the potential for getting - the potential for just blowing off the handle, very much, so that the children benefit by that, by the input, and so do we, so do the parents.
DR. WHITE: I think the extended family used to do that, and so many of our marriages are just the two parents and a child or two, and it becomes a real challenge for that kind of small family.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Yes. Dr. White, setting aside the multi use of sex partners here for a moment, you mentioned extended family. Many people in this audience, especially those brought up in the Depression years, the Great quote Depression years, were raised in extended families; that is, uncles, aunts, grandparents. Now don't you feel this isn't a new thing, this feeling, this sense of wanting to belong to a large family?
MR. DONAHUE: How do you feel about this?
WOMAN: Oh, Dr. White?
MR. DONAHUE: No, no. I want to know how you feel about this.
WOMAN: Oh. Well, I feel that the - I have this sense of their longing for belonging to this extended family, and I think that's just great. I don't think necessarily approve of the multi sex part of it.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
DR. WHITE: Well, that's what I think. Part of them is very traditional, and part of the reason the extended family's broken down has to do with the way economics are today, and what they have done is actually bucking the economics that have broken up the extended family, and are saying, "Let's do something different to rebuild an extended family," in their own way.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Well, first of all, I'd like to say, I don't think we're all quite hostile as we seem. I give you a lot of credit for trying something new and if it works out for you, that's super. We just don't want you to think that we're struggling along with relationships and marriages and whatever, and you've chosen an easy way out. The question that I have is, when someone wants to break off from the group, is it handled like a divorce, or this type of thing? And can the children be involved in any kind of incestuous relationship?
LIL: Graceful distancing is what we call that process. We always see it as a very positive thing. For instance, Ram is someone that we have tried, on a few occasions, exploring the idea of being in a family with Eve and I and the others, and it's never worked, quite. We've come close, and it's been too close, and we've backed off, and we're very good friends. In our situation, that's all that happens, is you just move the friendship out a little bit more, but we're still building a life together. We're still involved in raising children together.
EVE: And there is no incest at all, to answer your second question.
LIL: We have a very specific, absolute standard against that.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Okay. I was wondering how you would feel if your 13-year-old son or daughter would want to have sex with a previous partner of yours.
EVE: Well, that's a funny question. We would be quite strongly counseling that child not to have sex with anyone until she or he was 18.
EVE: Because we feel that - We feel people should wait. And we would - that's one issue. And the other issue about who a child would, as an adult, choose to have sex with, is their own business.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I believe that if you have your planning for your mate for Friday night and you decide you do not want a mate, do you have a headache, or
AUDIENCE: (laughter and applause)
RAM: Our sleeping cycle is a sleeping cycle, not a sex schedule. What happens between two people any given night is strictly up to them. And sex is not something that is seen as a mandatory situation.
MR. DONAHUE: You think that we're - You don't think then we're innately monogamous.
EVE: No.
RAM: Not everybody, anyway.
RAM: Not everybody. I think some people may be, but I know that I'm not. I know there's a disaffected minority of people in this country who have rejected monogamy outright, and I'm not gonna relegate them to the point where they're now disrespectful people, they're not wholesome because they don't want monogamy. We're trying to create an alternative which will make something other than monogamy also a wholesome alternative.
MR. DONAHUE: I just want Dr. White to - Give us your speech. What is jealousy? Why are we jealous?
DR. WHITE: I think we're jealous, partly because we live in a culture which tells us when we can be jealous, and it's okay, and all that. But jealousy comes about - A hard thing to do in any relationship is to become intimate and to deal with dependencies. It's very hard, particularly in a really close, romantic relationship. And we can be hurt by that intimacy, or that dependency, and jealousy is partly reacting to the very character of what romantic relationships can be like, intimate and dependent, and there's a need to protect ourselves against over-intimacy, over-dependency.
MR. DONAHUE: But what about moon, spoon and June and croon, and all the nice feelings that we had as - when we began to mature, and as we moved into adulthood? You know, can we still sit on the front porch swing and watch a hawk making lazy circles in the sky, in your view, and be healthy people?
DR. WHITE: To be romantic?
DR. WHITE: Oh, sure.
MR. DONAHUE: And to be in love with another person.
DR. WHITE: Sure. Absolutely, absolutely.
MR. DONAHUE: All right. Well, but -
DR. WHITE: But when you are in love, it's very difficult to always be head-over-heels in love. That's an impossibility, at least for most people. And there's another side of the coin. That other side of the coin sometimes takes the form of, "There's a rival to me" And then come the jealous reactions. Now what we do when we're jealous, depends on what culture we're in.
MR. DONAHUE: Don't jealous people feel insecure? Aren't people - People who are insanely jealous are people who really don't feel very good about themselves. Have I got that right?
DR. WHITE: Don't feel good about themselves. They may have surrendered their sense of esteem over to their partner. If my partner, and how she feels about me really sets me up for a fall, then it's very easy for me to be jealous, when I see her attracted to somebody else.
MR. DONAHUE: Well, how can we possibly have a monogamous relationship without having jealously? You can't have one without the other, can you?
DR. WHITE: I think it's difficult not to. In fact, Freud first said that any body who said they never had jealousy in their lives at all, either was very fortunate, probably denying, or very - or lying.
EVE: Well I feel that what he's saying is true, that a lot of jealousy comes out of people's own insecurities, but also, I think that a lot of it has to do with the structure of your relationship. If you know that you are in a monogamous situation, where there can only be one other primary partner at a time, and that partner is developing a good, strong relationship with someone else, then you have a very real threat that you may lose it. And who wants to? It's part of the way it's set up.
MR. DONAHUE: But does this solve that?
LIL: Yes, it does. Because what you're essentially doing is, you're broadening the base of your security. Now in our families, we expect to grow. Our families can grow as large as 12 women and 12 men. So we are broadening the base of security, and we're essentially removing, effectively removing that aspect of it.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Do you have spontaneity in your relationships? I mean, in the middle of the day, are you - Wouldn't you get bored of a sex schedule? Can you just grab someone and go into a bedroom?
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
RAM: But it's not a sex schedule. It's not a sex schedule.
WOMAN: You said it is a sex schedule.
RAM: No. I said it was a sleeping schedule for companionship. Whether or not sex takes place that night is up to the two individuals.
WOMAN: But that's what they're saying. What if you're in the middle of a sleeping schedule?
EVE: But there is a certain amount of spontaneity. I mean, we - With a lot of people living in the same space, you don't want too much of that kind of thing you're talking about happening (chuckles), but there's room for spontaneity.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I was just wondering, you know, there's a good and a bad marriage, and usually, you want to share the joys and all that sorrow. When he comes home from work, does he say, "Oh, Emmy, Sue, Betsy, I have good news." Don't you pick one person you want to tell it to?
AUDIENCE: (laughter and applause)
RAM: Well if I come home from work and something's bothering me, to me, it's a lot of fun, and very relieving to be able to sit down and to get more than one person's opinion about what's troubling me. I find it very consoling to have a number of people who care that much about my problems.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I would like to know how the kids are in this relationship, the little innocent children. Do they call you everybody in the whole family, do they call everybody mom and dad, or do they have certain names for you? And how is it affecting them?
EVE: Well right now neither of them talk yet. (Laughter) One is just past a year, and one is only three months. But when they do talk, they'll be calling us by our names.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Yes. I'd like to know how many of these polyfidelity communes there are, and if you see this happening more in the future.
EVE: Actually, there aren't any others besides ours, that we know of. There are a few small groups, or two people in a few different places trying to start something like what we're doing. And I don't know what's in store for the future. I think there probably will be a trend towards more cooperative living, and this may be one of the forms that it will take.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: Phil, my question would have to do with religion. Do any of you have any religious affiliation of any kind?
AUDIENCE: (applause)
EVE: Yes, we do. We have - We've actually developed our own religion.
LIL: Which is a blend of what we found positive in all the other ones that we've studied. And we do feel we are religious people.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: My question is, how do you go about how you choose who comes into this family the group? How you go about doing it?
LIL: Well, what we're going in on is a friendship model, so that the first thing that happens is that we're coming together inside of the same community because we share ideals, because we share a common vision for the future, and then, after we're inside the same community, then we begin a process of building friendship together. Now that could take a few months, maybe it would take a couple of years, in order for us to find that we didn't just have a very good friendship, but that we had love. That we had all the positive things that you might associate with romance. What it takes to do a lifetime run with intimacy.
RAM: Also, I just want to say ... On this question my criteria now is much, much higher, much more well-defined for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, than it was in my other lifestyle.
MR. DONAHUE: Would you consider a monogamous relationship for you in the future?
RAM: Me?
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. Uh-huh.
RAM: No. No way. I feel like I've run it out. I've exhausted that avenue.
MR. DONAHUE: How about these young women?
EVE: No.
LIL: No, I'm sold. (laughter)
MR. DONAHUE: You sure that Mr. Right is not going to come along, huh?
LIL: Well, I think that I've found three Mr. Rights so far, and I expect I have room for nine more.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: My parents - I was raised in a, you know, a nice little Catholic family, and I am just curious. What was your background like that, you know, my structure is really important to me, and I'm curious as to what your children's structure will be.
EVE: I'm not sure if I've got the question.
MR. DONAHUE: Well, how - She was raised in a nuclear family community, right?
WOMAN: Which was very important to me.
MR. DONAHUE: Which is important to her. She doesn't want to leave this tradition. In what tradition were you raised?
LIL: Well, all of us also came out of nuclear families. I'm sure our backgrounds weren't that different from most of the people's here. And -
WOMAN: - That's not important to you as - for your children?
LIL: I think our families are very important to us, and I feel tremendously positive about the upbringing that I was given, and I've taken a lot of those positive things with me into a new structure.
MR. DONAHUE: All right. Yes. Yes. Not much time.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: If the children, you know, grow up and they leave, are you gonna let them go and be with another man? If he's very religious, will you let him leave, and let that child leave, and be religious and that?
EVE: Yeah. Part of how we're planning to raise our children is to educate them to make the best decisions they can, knowing all their options. If they choose something other than what we're doing, that's their choice, and that's fine.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: What about the money situation? I mean, do you all have jobs, or does someone get transferred?
EVE: Yes. We do - We have different things that we work at, and we have a system of surplus income-sharing that we use together.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Okay. I'd like to direct this to one of the women.
MR. DONAHUE: Not much time.
WOMAN: (chuckles) If you have this loving relationship, how do you - how are you selective as to which mate, or which man will father your child?
EVE: We use - We don't select it, in terms of trying to decide who would be better. We use an impartial way of picking it.
MR. DONAHUE: You use a what?
EVE: An impartial way.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: What is the age range?
LIL: Our age range is 20 to 57.
LIL: And we're completely non-ageist, by the way. That's very important about our experiment.
MR. DONAHUE: I assume you're not sexist, as well. Do the men do the dishes?
LIL: We are non-sexist, non-racist, non-ageist. We're into total equality in all of its forms, and we're democratic in the way we operate.
RAM: No leaders, and majority rule.
MR. DONAHUE: There are no non-whites, however, in the Kerista Village, are there?
LIL: Not yet. We're looking for the first.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I would like to know how the whole village thing got started. Did you just walk up, you know, one day to some friends and say, "Hey, you want to start a village?" Or -
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
EVE: (laughter) It wasn't quite that casual. There were myself and the other person who together started it. We were each, individually, looking for a way to start a community, after having other experiences, and we intentionally advertised and met each other.
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. What are you going to say about these people on your way home on the airplane? I mean, how do you feel about this audience?
RAM: I feel like the people here are good people. I feel like the people of this country are good people, and I also would like to see myself as being in the mainstream of the American society.
EVE: I also feel like it would be a nice thing if the idea of respectability could be extended a little bit more than it is. That I think a lot of people are happy doing what they're doing, what you're doing, but a lot of people aren't as happy as they could be, and I think there's room for experimentation.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: They're craving. They're craving for families, big families. What size was their families, when they -
MR. DONAHUE: Well, how big were your families? Was that the reason for it, 'cause you came from a big family?
RAM: You mean our family we were raised in?
MR. DONAHUE: Yeah. You had a lot of brothers -
LIL: I have - There are four of us in our family, children. I think that partially I was looking for an extended family, but also, something that we're interested in is the friendship model, wanting to fill out our lives with friends, and that's really important.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: With all the women in the place, I don't worry about what woman is sleeping in which bed, but when she gets up, who makes the bed?
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
EVE: Well -
LIL: Whoever gets out of it last.
LIL: Whoever gets out of it last.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: I'd like to know, in this emotional sharing environment, how much a part chemicals play in your lifestyle, whether it be marijuana or alcohol.
LIL: We're not into drugs of any kind, and alcohol is done occasionally, in moderation.
MR. DONAHUE: And you don't smoke grass.
LIL: No.
MAN IN AUDIENCE: Although I don't agree, necessarily, with every thing about the program, I think it's - I can say, thank goodness that we live in a country where you're allowed to be different and do things that you want to do, and be happy.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
EVE: We feel the same way.
LIL: That's our message. Our message is, "Let's not have a monopoly on respectability, and let's give credit to people who are looking for a wholesome alternative." All we're interested in doing is presenting to you, the general public, that people are looking for different ways. It's not knocking what you're doing. It's just saying that we want to broaden the horizons.
MR. DONAHUE: But you must have had some anger, or you must be rejecting something from which you came, huh?
LIL: I'm rejecting the world of affairs, and I'm rejecting monogamy.
MR. DONAHUE: The world of affairs.
LIL: Too superficial.
MR. DONAHUE: You mean affairs as in trysts, evenings, one night only stuff?
LIL: Yeah. A run for a year, a run for three years, a run for three months, a run for two weeks, I don't care how long the run is.
MR. DONAHUE: Do you think a lot of people are into that, do you?
LIL: Yeah. I think en route to - I don't know how else - In my own situation, I was looking to get married, ultimately. I didn't know how else to do it.
EVE: Also, I think I am trying - Well, I was trying to get away from the isolation that I feel a lot of people deal with. I was very much not interested in having children, pretty much being on my own, with the chance of being literally by myself with the divorce rates, raising children.
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I was just wondering how they were educated, and if their kids will go to public school or not.
EVE: We have begun, already, our own private school to raise our children in.
MR. DONAHUE: Why does that bother you?
RAM: We have accredited teachers.
MR. DONAHUE: You think what?
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I believe they're startin' their own country.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
LIL: No. I disagree, absolutely. I feel that I'm very patriotic, and I feel that I'm an American, and I'm not interested in starting my own country, just my own alternative.
DR. WHITE: In fact, what they've done, rather than see them as rejecting, I think, a general idea comes to me is they've changed their behavior, and they weren't getting what they needed. And I think in my relationships and all our relationships, when we don't get what we need, we try to change our behavior. They've done it their way, so you can do it yours.
RAM: Isn't ingenuity one of the main forces in American society? And I think that we're just trying to be ingenious in how to solve our problems.
LIL: We're also interested in family renewal, and I think that the presentation of alternatives will ultimately, in the long run, make other alternatives stronger.
MR. DONAHUE: Right. And you think you're more moral than the monogamous person who cheats while he's on a convention, huh?
EVE: I don't think that. I don't think - I really don't believe I'm more moral than other people. I think people who want to be infidelitous, maybe it'd be better if they could talk about it, but if they can't, then I think that's up to them, too.
LIL: We have social tolerance, and that's all we're looking for, for us.
MR. DONAHUE: I'm sorry that our time is up for this, our second show from Cleveland. I hope you'll take - bear with me for just a moment. I want to - this is my hometown and I want so say - there are several people here, I don't have time to introduce everybody. First, I want you to meet one of my biggest fans, my baby sister, Kathy. Would you kindly stand?
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: Kathy, where are you? Oh, there you are. There you are.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: Also here is the first producer of "The Donahue Show," a woman who gave all the love, more than we were entitled to receive, and a person that I'll never be able to pay back. She taught me everything I know. Here's my mom. Here's Katherine.
AUDIENCE: (applause)
MR. DONAHUE: And Ma, we'll talk about this show later.
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
MR. DONAHUE: With thanks to those from Kerista Village. Also, to Dr. White, and especially to you for the vigor of your contribution to our program. Feel free to step forward and chat. For now, we'll say, good-bye, everybody from Cleveland, Ohio.