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Archive for the ‘polyamory’ Category

I have recently become aware that my humble little blog has become somewhat more popular and respected than I expected. Another blogger even referred to me as a ‘big name’ in poly blogs, much to my surprise! A consequence of this is that people new to poly sometime stumble upon my blog when things get difficult, and come to me for advice.
I want to make it clear: I am not a relationship expert . I have found a relationship style that works for me, and I am happy for the most part. I give advice purely based on my own biases and experiences, and I’ll say up front: I have little tolerance for whiners or jerks. If I think you’re being either, it is difficult for me to be generous. “Tough love” you may call it, I call it not having time for bullshit.
Moving on…
I received the following comment a little while back and felt there was a lot in it that needed addressing. I will admit the private response I sent to the reader was much less harsh than the following response, but the more I read his letter, then more angry it made me. So forgive me if I seem a bit enraged by the end, and I hope you can take home the lesson here.

Dear PolyMomma

I’m trying the poly thing for the first time and am having a really hard time with it.

She spends more time with me than her other guys. We say we love each other but I don’t know how she says she loves me if she doesn’t care about my feelings and emotions. I would never do anything to hurt her feelings or upset her. This is what I think monogamy is about; loving and respecting each other so much that you wouldn’t want to hurt them so that is why I don’t cheat. Monogamy is NOT about ownership! (This is an ongoing argument we have)

Not everybody feels hurt if someone has sex with other people. In fact, that’s what polyamory is about – the fact that you can completely love and respect MORE THAN ONE person at a time. Polyamory is not just a free-for all!

Anyway, she has like 6 guy friends, I have no friends. Something in me, a conscience I suppose keeps me from pursuing other women. I feel guilty and can only concentrate and give my love and attention to one person at a time. I’m miserable when she is not with me.

Two things here, you are comparing what you have to what she has. You don’t seem bothered by the fact that you don’t have any friends, but you realise that puts the entire burden of your social needs on her. If you are miserable when she is not with you, maybe that’s a bit too much pressure to put on one person. Your wording, that it is your conscience keeping you from having other pursuits, even friends, is very telling. You think that your way of doing things – focusing all of your love and attention on one person – is morally superior to hers. Well, I say BOLLOCKS. I wanted to be nice here, but that is absolutely horrible. Her values are different from yours, but that does not make you a better person.

Now I am also into kinky shit and am open to trying 3-somes and couple swapping cause there is not really any emotion there and those are things we can experience together. We make movies and all sorts of sexy stuff.

However, I am not happy when she’s fucking other dudes while I’m at work or whatever. Or her not show up when we had plans because she passed out after fucking some dude. That REALLY hurt me. If she just communicated that she couldn’t make it I wouldn’t have been so upset.

I get how upsetting it is for someone to break plans, but it sounds like it’s more than just the inconsideration that upset you. It sounds like it’s the sex. It sounds like, for you, you don’t want to own her, you want exclusive rights to have sex with her because if you don’t, then you are not special.

Plus WHAT ABOUT STDS??!! Why isn’t this a hot topic on all these polyamorous sites??!!!

Why does no one care about stds anymore??

Condoms aren’t foolproof and many diseases can spread even with them.

I have inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis/crohns) and fear all her contact with all these other people because I have a compromised immune system and am more prone to infection. I am DEATHLY scared of STDS and herpes. I feel as if my ibd has scarred me socially so I can’t handle another physically and socially destroying disease.

Yes, this is actually a major issue. It almost goes without saying and it is covered OVER AND OVER AGAIN on polyamory sites. I am not sure how you missed it.

This is a major issue because I’m allergic to latex and I’m huge. Magnum XL aren’t even wide enough (it’s the girth not the length).
I know I’m not the only one she doesn’t use condoms with either. Oh and it makes me throw up if she sleeps with someone else before coming over. It’s just incredibly filthy, risky, smelly and totally disrespectful. I told her that fucking multiple partners the same day was a huge hang up of mine and something I will not tolerate.

Jesus, why are you with this woman if you find so much about her disgusting? I really don’t understand why you are pursuing her if it bothers you this much. FIND SOMEONE ELSE.

It just pains me she does this when I do everything and would do anything for her. She says I’m her best fuck and gave the biggest penis and make her cum harder than anyone else. I’m also the only who has ever and can make her squirt. It kills me and makes me feel insignificant every time she fucks someone else.

Why is she settling for the rest when she can have the best? She says she like variety. I don’t get it. I’d always just want the best. Why settle?

You are different people. Different people have different needs and desires. It may come as a surprise, but people have sex because they like sex. It doesn’t have to be the same person, it doesn’t have to be the best. Maybe she has sex with other people because it’s nice to fuck someone who doesn’t put so much baggage onto her for it.

BestRest

I don’t have anybody else in this world and don’t want to lose her. The only reason she is poly now is from being damaged, abused and 2 failed marriages. She refuses to give her love to one person because she’s scared of being hurt. How can this work or how can I show her she is not broken and nice guys do exist? Or any advice really?

Please help. Thanks!
Jeff

First of all, you need to stop making this about her. She is doing what she thinks is right for her. If you don’t like how she lives her life, and you have told her, and she keeps doing it and you don’t like that: LEAVE. You don’t have anybody else in this world? You need to get out of this relationship and find a definition of yourself that doesn’t revolve around someone else. I know I am being harsh, but this relationship is toxic and you can’t stay in it.

Secondly, HOW FUCKING DARE YOU presume to know ‘the only reason she is poly’. That is incredibly insulting to both her and anyone else who is polyamorous. As for the whole saviour complex and ‘nice guys do exist’ thing, well I have some big news to tell you: If you think by placing all of your emotional baggage on her and expecting her to worship your cock you are being a ‘nice guy’? You’re woefully mistaken, Jeff.

That’s my two cents. Good luck.

TL;DR Polyamory isn’t for everyone. Especially not if the idea of your partner fucking other people bothers you this much.

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Photo: fence bed springs is by Bunny Paffenroth and is available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftybunny/89898238/ under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Licence.

“Never tear down a fence until you know why it was raised.” – Robert Frost

After reading this article by Ms. Scarlet on Life on the Swingset, I was inspired to think a bit about my relationship with Husband.

When I first started this blog, we had a set of hard and fast rules. Since then, we’ve grown a lot more comfortable with simply allowing the policies of honest negotiation guide our action rather than a list of set rules. One of the main reasons I don’t like the idea of rules anymore is that they are pretty pointless. One assumes that rules exist to protect stakeholders. But rules mean next to nothing without consequences. Safety rules are pretty non-negotiable, but the consequences for a breach of those rules are self enforcing. What of a case where you follow the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law? Such as thinking, “Well, I’m supposed to tell her if I have sex. There was no penetration, therefore it wasn’t sex, so I don’t have to tell her about it.”

The problem with that, of course, is that if the truth does come out, either by the other party confessing, a member of the group testing positive for an STI or by some other slip-up, you have just damaged the trust you worked hard to establish (or re-establish). “Rules” did nothing to protect anyone in that situation. Accountability is a sign of maturity and you don’t need rules to accept that there are consequences for your actions.

But I’ve gotten a bit off-track. This isn’t what Ms. Scarlet’s article is about. It’s about boundaries; the particular limits on the level of intimacy you allow yourself when it comes to extramonogamous (that’s a word, right?) relationships. Her list includes things like co-habitating, having children and combining finances. So, a bit beyond ‘no kissing’ or ‘no anal’. In Ms. Scarlet’s case, she and her partner identify mainly as ‘swingers’ which is not really something I consider myself.

In my relationship with Husband, we have frequently discussed the possibility of a co-primary situation (the opportunity has arisen more than once for him, just once for me). Unfortunately, it’s not our own relationship that has set the limit in the past, it has been the other person setting the limit for themselves. In spite of the fact that we have been willing or even enthusiastic about the idea of integrating someone into our lives, so far nobody has been too keen on committing to that kind of blended family.

But we do allow for that possibility.

As I am moving on this year, finally allowing the possibility for new relationships again after a significant mourning period, I will have to face these issues again. What level of intimacy am I comfortable with now? Will I be able to open my heart to someone new? What are my deal-breakers? (Another post in itself, actually.)

What about you? What are your limits? Are they negotiable? Why do you have them?

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Imagine you have an acquaintance who is a big soccer fan. They play soccer, sing soccer songs and watch soccer. They love soccer and they talk about their soccer team all the time.

Soccer Ball Cake Pops

One day you tell them that you’re not really into soccer, but you are a sports fan.

“What do you mean, you don’t like soccer? What other sport is there?”

“Well, I like basketball. I play on a local team.”

“Basket ball? What’s that?”

“Well, players try to get a ball into the other team’s basket.”

“Ok, I follow. Like soccer.”

“Yeah, except you bounce the ball with your hands instead of using your feet.”

“Wait, what? You mean you can CHEAT?”

“No, it just has different rules.”

“What do the other players think about that?”

“Well, they all play by the same rules.”

“Maybe you just didn’t commit to soccer. It takes a lot of hard work.”

“So does basketball. It’s really difficult.”

“But it’s just basically permission to cheat. I just couldn’t do that. Sorry.”

“Well, I don’t like playing soccer. Basketball is closer to my skill set and I find it much more exciting and intimate to play. I love watching the game because it’s more fast paced and suits me better.”

“I just couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if the other players were allowed to use their hands like that. I couldn’t do it.”

“Well, it takes skill, but you realise you’d be able to use your hands too, right?”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to. I prefer only using my feet to kick the ball. I couldn’t do it any other way. I just couldn’t.”

“Nobody is making you. We just like different things.”

“Okay, but please don’t talk about this basket ball thing around my soccer friends. It might make them feel weird.”

And this is what it is like to talk to some people about polyamory.

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The last 12 months have been intense. I went through a breakup, that nearly broke me, then was in two relationships that ended within a month of each other.

After that, I swore off ‘dating’ anyone during 2013.

Then I went back to Uni, and have been busily preparing myself for a major life and career change (a.k.a. getting a new degree).

Since going on semester break, I’ve found myself with a little bit of free time and absolutely no desire to date.

But I miss having a companion. I just do not want to go through all the heartbreak again. And I don’t feel the rewards of being ‘poly’ are really worth the trouble right now.

However, should I meet someone and hit it off, I don’t see myself saying no because of any ‘rule’ against dating.

Husband and I were talking last night about loneliness. He’s an introvert, I’m…less of an introvert. We have each other, but we both get lonely. I can’t speak for him, but I have definitely been feeling lonely lately. I’ve been working, I’ve been relatively social, but I really miss having ‘someone’. I have ‘someone,’ obviously, I have Husband. But we’ve agreed that we are not perfect for each other in every way. We are not perfect lovers. We are not perfect ‘companions’ (which is a gender neutral word I like to use for the role a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ fills).  We are, however, perfect partners. We are great parents. We are an excellent Pictionary team.

So what I miss is having a lover and a companion with whom I am compatible. But I do not intend at this point to go seeking out someone to slot into that box (no pun intended). The heartbreak of losing someone who was those things, but also a lying, cheating, betrayer of my trust has left me scarred and scared. Even one year later, I’m just too exhausted to imagine making the effort.

As for Husband, he went through the emotional wringer over the last 12 months too. He was hit hard by the whole drama, then got dumped by his major, longtime companion. They’d been together nearly as long as he and I had been and then she just… yeah. Right after that, he got dumped by his two other lovers/companions as well. (EDIT: I’ve left out a part of this story, another major relationship ended in a mutual agreement to stop seeing each other. It was really emotionally draining and awful. I wouldn’t characterise it as being ‘dumped’ so it didn’t fit into this paragraph.) So it’s not just my own experiences that have left me with Post Traumatic Relationship Stress. Because we were both going through so much emotional shit at the same time (plus there was my school work making me stress out), we couldn’t even really be there for each other either and that has taken its toll.

For now, we are over dating.

Furthermore, I just don’t get crushes anymore. Not in the same way I used to. I used to get crushes that were consuming. And a major part of them was a burning desire to have sex with that person. Now, I get ‘friend crushes’ where I get all excited about hanging out with a new person. I’ve had several major friend crushes on classmates, coworkers and others in my life, but none of them have been sexual in the least. If I find myself picturing someone sexually, my brain clicks in and says, “What’s the point? What makes you think it will be anything special? You’ve had sex. Sex is sex. This person will offer nothing you haven’t had before.” Which is strange. My desire for sexual novelty is completely null. It’s not even like I’ve lost my libido. I still desire sex, but just not with anyone I know (besides Husband and Lovely Boy…more about him later).

I’ve got polyamory burnout.

However, on the horizon, I have an upcoming visit to my homeland. When I arrive there, I’ve got a former lover whom I have been wanting to see since last year. Last year, when I went back home I had planned a tryst, but did not engage in shenanigans out of respect for the aforementioned Lying Asshole, who had expressed discomfort with the idea. (Later events made me regret the decision somewhat, regardless of the fact that it meant I could maintain the moral high ground.) I’m looking forward to seeing Lovely Boy because he’s someone  I have fun with and with whom I’ve been compatible sexually. But he’s a far cry from a regular companion. He lives half a world away, and even if I were to move back next year, he’s still a 10 hour drive from where I’d be living.

And so, for now, I remain lonesome.

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mallard1

“So, do you want to hear my safer sex speech?”

“…ok.”

“Great! Here’s my speech. The last time I was tested was [_____], and I was tested for [_____] and [____]. I tested negative/positive/was treated for [_____]. I have [____] and I can’t guarantee I won’t give it to you, so if that is a problem, then I’m sorry but that means we can’t [_____]. I’ve had [____] sexual partners and right now I have [____] partners (our relationship agreement is that we are poly/mono/open/swingers/etc. which means [___]). I am currently on/not on hormonal birth control, but I still insist on using barrier methods for [______] sex. I am open to using barrier methods for [____] but not for [_____]. I really like [______] but I’m not into [_____]. What about you?”

I got this awesome idea from this YouTube video called Reid’s Saver Sex Elevator Speech. It’s by Reid Mihalko and honestly it was a huge turn on.

I thought I might try it if I ever date again.

What’s surprising is that there are people, mostly guys (that I know of), mostly younger than me, who don’t seem to be all that concerned about safer sex. It’s like they don’t think it matters, or think it’s too hard to have that conversation so they just pin the responsibility on their partner and let her call the shots. Well, as the Actual Advice Mallard up at the top reminds us, relying on your partner to set the safer sex standards for a sexual encounter means you’re leaving major decisions about your health – and if you are poly, the health of a whole community of people – to someone else. It’s up to YOU to take responsibility for your safer sex decisions. The only person whose safer sex decisions you can trust are your OWN. The only actions you know about for sure are YOUR OWN.

“But it’s too hard. It’s embarrassing. It’s not how I do things.”

You know what’s a more awkward conversation to have? Telling someone you tested positive for an STI. That is a shitty conversation to have. And if you are non-monogamous, you have to have that conversation with a lot of people. And some of them will never trust you again.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

If you front-load this conversation, and have it as early as possible, you can have ALL THE SEX! Think how awesome that would be!

And the best part, if it scares someone off, well, then maybe you’re not on the same page and you deserve better.

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Is someone still polyamorous if she is not actively seeking out new partners?

Is someone still polyamorous if she isn’t in a relationship?

Is someone still considered bisexual if they’ve never been in a same sex/opposite sex relationship?

Is someone considered bisexual if they’re in a monogamous same sex/oppposite sex relationship?

These questions have been coming up a lot lately. Right now, I’m what I call poly single. As I am only in one relationship, and not interested in pursuing any other romantic relationships, I am, for all practical purposes, monogamous. I still consider myself polyamorous, but just not really playing the game right now.

I got my heart broken pretty badly last year. Someone I trusted hurt me worse than anyone ever has, then my two fledgeling follow-up relationships didn’t make it past the six month mark. I have turned my attention to some things I’ve been neglecting for a long time, and I started a seriously intense graduate course at university, so I don’t really have time for the level of distraction and emotional investment romantic relationships usually require.

Does this still make me poly? I took part in another radio show on Q Radio’s Friday Night Lip Service, on identifying as queer while in an outwardly ‘straight’ relationship, and the host of the show spoke about her respect for people who could be invisible, but choose to be visible. In a way, she said, it’s even more brave because you have the option of being ‘normal’ and ‘passing’ but you choose to out yourself when it’s not an imperative.

But I still struggle with the question of authenticity. Can I really speak as a queer voice when I don’t suffer the same kind of discrimination? When I don’t have to come out? When my stakes aren’t as high?

I still don’t have any answers.

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I mentioned in my last post that I’d been questioning whether or not being polyamorous was worth it. I came back with the answer ‘Yes’ but didn’t really explain why.

I did a bit of brainstorming about why I do this, to serve as a reminder for myself and hopefully anyone who reads this. I’ve written before about Deborah Anapol’s article, Why People Choose Polyamory and found some inspiration there again.

So, why?

 Because I love being in love.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being in love and having it returned is one of the best feelings and I have found that being polyamorous means I get to experience that even more. I don’t have to stop being in love with one person in order to be in love with someone else. I never have to face that agonising experience of ‘BUT I LOVE THEM BOTH, HOW CAN I CHOOSE?’

Because I love sex.

Free Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I say it’s not just about the sex, but it definitely plays a big role. I do like sex a lot. It’s something I enjoy without guilt, and I am not afraid to seek it out or ask for it. I’m a sex-positive person and for me, sex is healthy and fun, however there is a lot of emotion that comes along with sexual intimacy. Polyamory offers an ethical framework where neither the physical act nor the emotions are taboo.

Because I want to grow as a person and push past my comfort zone.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Polyamory is challenging to both social norms and personal boundaries. In Deborah Anapol’s article on this, she says:

“The blessing and the curse of polyamory is that love which includes more than one tends to illuminate those dark shadows many would prefer to ignore.”

I personally hate glossing over problems. I prefer ‘front loading things,’ as my boyfriend is fond of saying, and keeping everything out in the open. This can be very confronting for other people, though many find it rather refreshing. As a dear friend of mine said to me once, “What I love about you, is I never have to guess what you’re thinking.” For better or worse, this is how I deal with things. If there is an elephant in the room, I say, “Hey! An elephant!” Then stride right up to it and start feeding it peanuts. For me, the communication and exploration aspects that are essential in making polyamory work are one of the things I enjoy. Though it is exhausting at times, I learn more about myself and constantly grow as a person.

Because I want my child to grow up in a happy home.

Mother and Child

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This one is being challenged at the moment, but I feel that forming more close bonds with other adults means my son will have a bigger family and more access to adult role models than if my husband and I were monogamous. We live far from our blood relatives, but we both believe in having a larger family. The article I wrote about in my last post covers this topic well, so I won’t rehash all of that.

I find that this lifestyle is rewarding and challenging. Sometimes I think it might be easier to be monogamous, but for me, it would be limiting, monotonous and I would have to deny much of my natural sexuality to make it work. When faced with the choice between the two, I would choose this lifestyle every time.

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