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Friday, October 17, 2014

New indie film project: Women... and Sometimes Men

Women... and Sometimes Men is an interesting looking project from Lesley Demetriades that follows the story of Sara, a woman who realizes there are more options, and possibly satisfaction, to love. The story engages the concept of creating relationships that are fulfilling rather than conforming to social norms, with exploration along the way into the psychology and circumstance that drive Sara to re-examine the love in her life.

After a brief reading of the script Women... and Sometimes Men is more than intriguing. The characters feel well developed and the story doesn't cringe from the realities that come with alternative relationships and lifestyles. Nor does it feel there is judgment involved in any aspect. The result is a well-rounded storyline challenging societal norms from a personal perspective but with one foot firmly planted in reality.

Written by Matthew Holtzclaw, a featured writer for the NYC Fringe, Lesley has taken the approach of crowd-funding the project via HatchFund.org, an online community for artists to present their projects and secure funding via contributions for specific works.

For more information about the project check out the Hatchfund page at:


And for more information about the production company: www.TheUnknownWorks.com 

While I'm not posting this for the purpose of fundraising, but rather simply supporting awareness of choice when it comes to relationship and sexuality, I do hope those of you who see the benefit to this type of project will consider contributing to Women... and Sometimes Men.

With all my best,
PP

From the Women... and Sometimes Men press release:

OCTOBER 15, 2014 – Lesley Demetriades is launching her first directorial film project
Women… and Sometimes Men on Hatchfund.
 
The story of Women… and Sometimes Men follows Sara – a woman in crisis. Engaged
for one day, she decides to call off her marriage. Quirky, beautiful, and tender, she is
working on being honest and answering some big questions. Having had a short
relationship with a woman in college, Sara seeks that feeling again… or at least to
understand it. How can she have a woman’s touch without giving up men entirely? This
question launches Sara on a bittersweet journey filled with self-discovery, sexual
awakening, beautiful women… and sometimes men. The film will be shot in New York
City on a micro budget of $13,000. The production team will be utilizing locations in the
Brooklyn area.
 
From The Production Team: We live in a world very much affected by people's
perceptions. Ask a person what he or she believes is right and wrong in our world and
each person will provide a different answer. So what is the "right" way to live and love?
The quest to answer what is "wrong or right" becomes even more intriguing when it
comes to human sexuality. We are excited to offer up this quirky, offbeat and thoughtful
film. "Women... and Sometimes Men" is a conversation about creating your own contract
of marriage, your own kind of relationship. It celebrates the shades of gray in our world.
It allows a place and space for everyone to love how and whom they wish. It pays
homage to the complex female awareness. It explores some of the places people look
when on a journey to find themselves, especially the journey within.
To make a tax-deductible donation to Lesley’s campaign, please click here:
http://www.hatchfund.org/project/women_and_sometimes_men_an_indie_feature_film

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love beyond – love on the cliff





Today we have a letter from a reader looking for advice...

Dear PP,

I never labelled myself a polyamorist. I have read something about it and I were always fascinated by the idea of an open idea of love, the idea of accepting and welcoming the love in any form it manifests to us, but never definitely concluded that was the right way for a couple, or at least for mine. I never completely agreed there was no values, no important things concerning my idea of love that polyamory could have gone against. At the same time, my boyfriend (now my husband) and I have had an open approach to our relationship for the biggest part of the time spent together so far.

My boyfriend and I have been together for more than 12 years (married for almost 3). We met when we were 20 in our home town in the south of Europe. Before meeting each other we had a normal childhood, a couple of girlfriends then a relatively smooth process of coming out, some homosexual relationships before finding and falling in love with each other. Our love was strong and profound from the beginning, our sexual compatibility very intense, we committed to each other starting to deeply interconnect our lives. Our relationship grew symbiotically and exclusively for more than 4 years, sharing everything, living together abroad for a while during our studies. Then we had to part for few months in the last part of our academic path. My boyfriend had to spend some time abroad, while I was still studying at home. During his stay he met a guy he started to feel strongly attracted to. He got confused as it was the first time we was feeling something for another person from the moment we got together. He was honest about that with me at the telephone and they started to see each other for a while. This was a step he had to take knowing it could destroy “us”, according the exclusivity we had chosen for our relationship. He said he was lost that he thought he still loved me, but that he could not help it and that he couldn’t put aside what he felt for this other guy and that he needed a time to clear up his mind. I was destroyed, everything was broken for me, I was angry, hurt, but also incapable of letting him go. After few weeks while I was in desperation, he made the decision and managed to start the process of coming back to me, he decided that despite his fall, I was the one he wanted to stay with, he left the other guy, came back to our home town and wanted me back. I was relieved, but too hurt to accept a reconstruction of our relationship. In the meantime I had the occasion to access his mailbox (not respectful, but I was young and desperate), I read exchanges with this guy. Through those mails I knew “their” love, the connection between us, how much my boyfriend was still missing him despite his decision of coming back to me, the deep pain he was causing to another person desperately in love with somebody that finally was leaving him to come back to me. I ran away abroad, again for my studies, I could not and did not want to cut off my boyfriend from my life, but  I couldn’t be back with him either, after the pain I had experienced, after the sadness for our perfect picture that got broken, I was thinking, forever. We started a long period, in which we were in contact and visiting each other, but not officially together and still seeing (mostly without openly telling each other) other people. He was running after me, but I was keeping him away, like he had to pay a price, like I had to feel re-assured in my hurt pride. Then I started to work in the north of Europe. At a certain moment, still both there with our love for each other, we finally agreed to put aside anything that went wrong and give ourselves a second chance. He moved to live with me a looked for a job in the city I was living too. It was a new beginning, things started to be wonderful again. We had grown up, make peace with the past and ready to go on with our relationship and look at the future. I felt at the moment that a new beginning was to be built on new basis, making the best of what happened. To me it couldn’t be concluded that my boyfriend simply did a mistake, that the way to not risk going there again into the big pain we experienced, was simply to protect more our world, to be stronger in the effort to renounce to inputs, desires, attractions from the outside. I was obviously curious of exploring a path where I could have lived more openly and in harmony pleasures and emotions outside our couple, but I was also going back with my mind to those mails I had the chance reading. Knowing all those love and pain, that was actually being experienced without my involvement gave me a lot of pain and hurt badly my feelings back then, but somehow and weirdly I was also feeling attraction for those emotions lived outside me and empathy for their (both of my boyfriend and the other guy) pain and loss of their stopped love. I started gently to advocate a more open approach for our couple. Very slowly and respectfully, despite an initial resistance of my boyfriend cause to jealousy, we started to open up to sexual experiences outside the couple. For few years we developed a strong complicity in pursuing “flings” with other people. Our usual way was more often threesomes, even if sometimes, away for respective business trips, we allowed each other occasional sexual encounters. The nature of this opening was mainly sexual, even if, also for our healthy, “clean” and respectful approach to sexuality we usually tended to develop bonds of affection and friendship with the people we used to date together. Complicity was a big element of this, in a very symbiotic alignment and sharing of emotions, desires and sexual fantasies that used to have a very positive impact on our couple dimension. We were very flexible and open to the steps we took, but it was always clear that we were for each other the centre of our world and the rest was turning around us. We had our rules and way of indicating each other limits, but this came natural and it never happened that any of us challenged this centrality. 3 years ago we married and then started to even develop discussions on if and how becoming parents.

Then we met somebody who changed things. Through common friends we got friends with Eric and we found us both very attracted to him. Eric did not initially know we were actually together and at few parties he had the occasion to talk and receives discreet attention from both of us. The point was also that Eric was not a type of guy that used to be open to unconventional relationships. Despite this, he started feel attracted and interested by both of us. After a relatively long phase of flirting and approaching during which Eric became aware, with initial disorientation, of the fact we were a couple one night we slept together and started to date regularly. From the very initial moment it was clear to me and my boyfriend that we were taking a different way this time. We were opening ourselves in a qualitatively different way. We were staring to date a third person romantically and believe it could develop and go somewhere. Eric is a great and special guy, somebody very sensitive, with dramatic family history that made him feeling alone and vulnerable for his whole life, but despite all this also capable of embracing love by giving everything. We started to date every day, sleeping together for most part of the week (even if Eric had his own apartment). We all agree in making “us 3” exclusive and neither of us dated anybody else. We had wonderful months, we invested a lot in our relationship, in taking care of each other lives, but then some elements started to be critical. First of all, there was our long history and interconnection between me and my husband, in front of Eric‘s insecurity and needs of confirmation. The fact of having an apartment together, a common language, common friends and families knowing each other back home and a whole social recognition of our couple dimension, was from the beginning a burden. Eric had the need of quickly reducing this gap by feeling less and less the “third”. From the beginning I recognized this as a normal need to be addressed. We started, slowly, a process of coming out with closest friends and part of the family.  On the other hand I recently realized that in the beginning both me and my husband felt an inner contradiction between the need of opening up and offer in perspective the steady reduction of that “gap” and the resistance of giving up that “centrality” of us, that “sanctuary” of our exclusiveness that, even while experiencing contacts with the outside world was never touched. Maybe one mistake was not to openly put light on this inner contradiction we were fighting with, inside us, but certainly we both wanted to give the relationship with Eric a chance. A role was played probably also by differences between me and my husband. My husband is a very caring a sensitive person, but he also has the tendency to close up in his doubts and fears with a consequence of resulting sometime close to other needs for re-assurance and step forwards. I am maybe more extrovert and flexible. We both had our moments of doubts on the possibility of going forward and on the possibility and opportunity of tearing down the last barriers of our exclusiveness, we both happened to be jealous and threatened by the connection and bonds the other was building up with Eric, but generally I was always more able to understand and address Eric’s needs and keeping an acceptable speed in the reduction of that gap that was making Eric continuously insecure. I was usually the most keen in making difficult steps in coming up (I told my mum about Eric). My husband, on the contrary, got under pressure. On the choices on the table like moving to live together or spending the entire part of our summer holiday together or coming out with friends and family he found himself always few steps late in comparison to Eric’s expectations and my readiness to meet those expectations. After 10 months of our relationship between very good moments and some tensed moments, partially under the pressure of Eric always looking for a confirmation of the commitment of my husband, my husband finally concluded he was not ready, not 100% there. He got and still is profoundly attached to Eric, he even said Eric was able to open part of his-self that nobody was able to open, but also realized that he was probably not enough in love to give what he was suppose to give and keep investing on the relationship. That meant the end of everything for Eric; he always said that if between us three could have worked it should have been on a balanced basis between us three. He gave back his keys of our apartment to my husband. From that moment has began the hardest part for me. The two people I was deeply loving got somehow apart. My husband never stopped deeply caring about Eric, wanting somehow to be part of his life and support to it, nevertheless he concluded he could not give 100% to him, and be ready to share with him everything. Every time they see each other, Eric looks for more and my husband feels inappropriate and guilty. Eric, in every attempt to keep a relationship with my husband, felt the gap between what he wanted from my husband and what he could be given, as a painful and confronting issue. In the last weeks/months, I have been trying to suggest a path in which we could save our relationship, even if not anymore in the form of a perfect triad. I am the first one in seeing difficulties, in seeing how hard it could be to make it work in practice, but I love them both, I feel to commit to them both and I have been hoping that a way forward in harmony could be there for us three. I have been advocating for an open approach (inspired by polyamorous philosophy), suggesting to look together for an arrangement in which I could keep loving and giving things to them both and in which they could have developed a closeness a complicity among them two. The problem is that Eric does not see a future in which he could be happy as my boyfriend while I am still married to my husband. He feels that he would always be jealous, missing the time and space I do not dedicate to him and the fact of not having an equal connection to my husband. He also sees enormous difficulties in being able to see a clear “place” for him in my life in relation to family, friends and society. He feels, also in reason of a difficult path in his family of origin, that he now deserves somebody that chooses him, that is there for him 100%, to build a future with. We have just passed a phase in which I was seeing him occasionally, because we both wanted, but at the same time, every time that it happened, besides it was great, he turned depressed, making him proposing to stop to see each other. One extra element was also that he knew my husband was feeling insecure when i was seeing him and did not want to hurt him.  Now we do not speak, because he wants to manage to pull his self together alone and seeing each other destroys him every time.  My husband from his side, he would be open to pursue different solutions, but he remains sceptic on the possibilities of having a future in which I have to divide myself between Eric and him, he wonders how practically the life would be, how would he feel when I am not there at night, what would be of our projects and dreams. He believes in an open approach for our relationship, but I also know that he is hurt by realising I do not put anymore at the centre, unconditionally as he still does for me.  Also in the phase in which I was occasionally seeing Eric, he felt very insecure, I imagine also in relation to Eric’s negative position, fearing I could choose to leave him for Eric. On the other hand my husband admitted he was feeling sad by me and Eric stopping to see each other at all as one part of him was happy for me and happy I could take care of Eric even if in a way he could not involved. My sex life with my husband (that used to be great even if evolving and changing along our relationship) has been recently unbalanced, by fears (from me and from him), by a lack of energy and now we are kind of blocked on that side, both terrified rationally or irrationally by potential implications.

I am now consuming myself day after day. I cannot recover, because I do not know what I have to recover from, I do not know what to do. I am passing day and days trying to imagine a solution and I am like a crazy pendulum. One moment I imagine to try to forget Eric and go back to put energy in my marriage, but only thinking of it makes me sick and lost. One minute after I consider to leave my husband and I realize I do not want to, I do not want to throw away what we have and our future together, I love him too much. I am now thinking of leaving for a while, cause I feel I cannot stay next to my husband while I am tore apart by the pain, I am afraid it could mess us more. I am wondering what I have to do. Should I wait till it is clearer to me whether I have the force to leave one of them? Should I keep proposing a way that at the moment does not seem to make them happy? Hoping that little by little we all could remove our fears, uncertainties, transform jealousy in “compersion”, turn the situation positively and live our life happily according the existing flows of love, friendship and companionship? I really welcome any type of advice, from any point of view.

Mat

Monday, December 31, 2012

Broken Agreement


This one popped up elsewhere lately and I thought it would be good to share. . .

Let me say first of all this is a general “Troubleshooting Guide” I often use. As with any relationship issue, there are always variables and as such this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive, applies to every situation process. It is entirely possible steps will be out of order, skipped, or modified depending upon the individual situation. Think of this instead as a starting point when you have that “I don’t know what to do!” feeling.

Question: What should you do when your Primary breaks an agreement and rather than telling you they have done so, you stumble upon the truth?

First, I try to remember to reserve judgment. In this case things were found out about by accident, not in a controlled manner. I would want to know why. Though on the surface it may sound like deception, maybe there were other reasons; waiting for the right time, wanted to discuss it in person not on the phone, etc. What I’m not trying to do here is assign blame or guilt but just simply start to understand things.

Second, I would try to understand *why* I am upset. Is it the actual *whatever* that happened? Is it that I feel deceived? Was it the way I found out? Understanding what exactly is making me twitchy helps me to focus on the real problem. In the past I’ve found the strong emotional reaction I think I’m having to something is actually a reaction to something else. In this example I might be upset at feeling I was lied to, rather than whatever was done that actually broke our agreement. In actuality, I would be reacting to the agreement we are honest with each other, rather than an agreement about a specific activity (assuming that is what happened here).

Third, I would evaluate the agreement itself. Why did we have that agreement? Was it an agreement I wanted, or simply one to which I agreed to support my partner? Typically if I make an agreement it is to prevent passing one of my Hard Limits.
Hard Limits usually have one of two reactions from me:
1) Point of no return, relationship over.
2) Relationship can potentially be salvaged, but only if specific actions are taken. 
For example; Unsafe sexual activity. If I’ve been lied to about unsafe sexual activity; relationship over. If my partner has engaged in unsafe sexual activity but told me before we have been physical together again so I can evaluate my risk; relationship possibly salvageable after testing and discussion.

Remembering the reason for the agreement often dictates my actions and helps me determine what discussion is actually required, if any.

At this point I’m ready to have a discussion about the problem with the other person. I have the foundation from which to work so we can have a deep conversation about what happened. I have put my emotions in perspective and applied some logic to the situation. In our deep conversation I should now be able to temper my emotions a bit and, working with my partner, determine how we move forward and if we do so together.

First, why did they break the agreement? What was going through their mind at the time? I ask them to explain the situation, setting, and mindset to me. Again, I’m not judging or assigning blame here but simply ensuring I understand things.

Second, did we both have a clear understanding of the agreement or was this a communication failure? In my experience, this is the cause about 90% of the time with relationship problems. I ask if they understand that I believe they broke an agreement and why. Do they feel the same? Did they understand the agreement the same as I did or differently? Was there a perception of latitude within the agreement on their part?

Third, was there malicious intent or intentional disregard? In other words; Did they understand the agreement but consciously decide to break it? Did they feel I would understand their breaking the agreement and if so, why?

Fourth, what do they believe we should do going forward? Do we now have a better mutual understanding of the agreement? Should it be discarded? Rewritten? And what steps do they feel need to be taken to rebuild the comfort level we had prior to the problem? Maybe they feel the relationship is no longer viable?

It is after acquiring this information, usually during the process, that the actions I need to take become clear. Do I still have trust with the person? Is disengaging from the relationship the only way to protect myself? Can it be rebuilt and what is needed to do so? Can we make agreements with an expectation they will be followed, or are we unable to reach an agreement at all? Did I overreact, or possibly react based on perception or emotion, rather than logic? With all this information, are my emotions still valid?

My approach is to view the problem as an opportunity to learn more about my partner, how they think and respond to situations, and create easily followed agreements (if necessary) that will support our relationship going forward. I also see it as an opportunity to figure out where we both failed. What I don’t do is compromise my own needs, values, ethics, or emotions during the process. To do so (IMHO) undermines the relationship going forward.
 
What about you? Do you have a methodical or defined approach to relationship problems? Do you have a mental, or even literal, “Troubleshooting Guide” that you use when trouble appears?

PP

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wanna play?

This came up elsewhere and I thought it might be worth posting here. The question is: What do you talk about with your partner(s) before attending a "play party"?


These aren’t necessarily MY required conversations but simply a list of some I’ve used or heard about.

-Is our relationship strong enough to handle this? If we aren’t sure, or this is our first play party, maybe we should go with the understanding we
will only play with each other if we do play.

-Our definition of ‘play party’
-What do we think this ‘play party’ will actually be like?
-Our definition of ‘play’.
-What activities are allowed, what aren’t? (maybe oral is okay, intercourse isn’t)
-What are we okay seeing each other do, what are we not okay seeing each other do?
-Will we only play together, or can we play separately?
-What if one of us is playing with someone the other person wants to play with too? Is it okay if we play together?
-If we bring toys with us, are we allowed to share them with others? Are there restrictions on how they are shared?

-What is our intent with play? Are we looking for something new, just following any connections that might come up, or trying to spark relationships? To me, this one is important because if I’m trying to spark a relationship I may be disappointed if the other person isn’t. Conversely, if I’m only playing and want nothing more from the person and they do I could end up with something of a stalker the next day.
-Is play limited to this party? In other words, if I play with Martin at the party and Martin wants to go back to his place, or play the next day, is that okay? (This might be important so Martin and I can negotiate our ‘play’ appropriately).
-Are we attending the party together, and going home together? Is there anything that could change that? (Nobody wants to be scrambling for a ride home later).
-Are there restrictions for us after the party? Such as: we won’t play together until we have both showered, until a specific amount of time has expired?
-What time are we leaving if we are leaving together? Is that a hard limit, or are we flexible? What if I want to leave and you are in the middle of schtupping Gertrude?

-Who is coming to the party and is on our Do Not Touch list?
-Why are they on our Do Not Touch list? (STD’s, behavior), or simply our own feelings about them.
-Are there exceptions? Such as: I can have intercourse with Martin, but not with Oliver?

-When asked if we would like to play, how will we answer? Give hard limits up front? Wait until playing to express hard limits? How will we define our relationship if asked? Having these answers ready can make things easier.

-Is it required we communicate at the party ‘before’ we play with someone? (I discourage this one personally. I think it can ruin the mood for everyone and create drama. In my opinion, if you have to do this you probably shouldn’t be at a play party in the first place.)
-What if we do need to check in? For example: I can’t remember if we had limits around Martin. How do we let each other know we need to have a quick chat? What if I can’t find you, or you are in the middle of ‘playing’? Can I interrupt? Is there a safe space we can go to talk quickly? What is our agreed upon definition of ‘check in’? A wink, nudge, short conversation, extended conversation, text message?
-If one of us is having a problem with someone (a person not taking NO for an answer for example) how will we deal with it? Will we come find each other? Is interrupting activities okay?

-Decompress afterwards;
-What worked well
-What didn’t work
-What did I see, hear, feel that I liked or didn’t like.
-What should we do differently in the future.
-What do I absolutely NOT want to hear about? What do I want to hear about?
-What is still with me from the party? Did I maybe connect with someone I would like to continue seeing? Did anything happen to put people on our Do Not Touch list, or take them off the list?

-Some people like to reconnect after their partner has had sex with someone else by having sex themselves. Should we expect that and maintain the needed energy reserves?

-A general conversation about trust and confidence. Do we trust each other to make good decisions. Do we realize there may be mistakes made? How will we recover from mistakes; time apart, talking, not having sex?

What things do YOU talk to your partner about before attending a play party? What pitfalls have you encountered and how did you work through them?

PP

Monday, November 5, 2012

Epiphany

As happens infrequently, I had a brief moment of quiet in my day and the free minute to think resulted in something of an epiphany. I’ll try to explain it but, the perspective may be so personal that this may not translate for everyone.

At times, seeing my partners date others can be a challenge for me. Feelings of insecurity can pop up but usually dissolve as the relationships take form and I get a chance to know my new metamour a bit. This has been something of a challenge for me with a long-term partner who hasn’t had any other partners since we have been together. Those feelings of insecurity have been floating around in my head for a while; what will happen when she does engage with someone? Will I be jealous? Will blinding NRE take her over and ruin us? How will she manage time or affection? Will I find she is actually a serial monogamist when she leaves me?

The flip side of that is that I’ve had several other relationships since we have been together. And she has had difficulty with those. I tend to verbalize my thoughts as I enter new relationships which to me, is something of an evaluation process. Do we fit socially? Emotionally? Physically? Can I fit into their life? Them into mine? And so anyone around me will hear different positions come and go as I think about those things. Some days I may be charging in full force, other days thinking it won’t work, and even other times moving with caution. That is confusing to say the least. And that confusion leads to frustration on the part of my long-term partner as she ends up not having a clue what I’m doing until I’m either engaged, or disengaged, with the new person.

The result is that we both have some frustration along with less than desirable emotions and feelings that pop up.

Those emotions, I think, are somewhat normal. They seem to come from a fear of the unknown and to a lesser extent possibly, the contemplation of change.  The insecurity, in my mind, is born from not comprehending how our partners engage with new people. The rooted fear being that what they are doing is entertainment, distraction, or the search for someone *better* as opposed to engagement with another out of emotion, attraction, or love.

Back to my situation; my fear may be that my partner hasn’t engaged with others due to our relationship and that when she does it will be with the intent of replacing me. In fact, it is simply that she approaches relationships differently. She takes the time to find someone she really connects with deeply before becoming involved. She prefers to take time, get to know someone, and fully evaluate who they are and how a partnership might be formed.

On the other hand, I follow my heart easily. I prefer to explore connections without preconceptions. Maybe those connections flourish into a romantic relationship, maybe they don’t. During my exploration is where I learn if there is a lasting romantic relationship to be built, or if maybe we will just be friends, or maybe there really isn’t anything there at all.

This is where the epiphany struck.

Though both approaches sound different, the intended results are the same. We are both looking, with integrity and ethics, at potential relationships as long-term engagements. Neither of us is looking for a replacement or playing games. Neither approach is better or worse, just different. Realizing that we simply have different approaches, but are both in fact hoping connections will result in similar results, has done a lot to minimize those undesirable emotions. It has helped me to understand emotionally how my partner is feeling, both toward me and toward potential new partners. The epiphany for me;  knowing that in the end my partner and I are more the same than I had realized. It has also allowed me to see that although we follow different paths toward similar goals, and I may not always understand what she is doing, I can possibly learn from her approach as hopefully she can from mine.

My advice to you is this; if you are having mixed feelings about your partners activities with others it may be because you lack confidence in what they are doing. How you find that confidence will be different for everyone so I won’t try to suggest how it be found, but try. I think when that confidence is realized you will find that many of the negative emotions dissolve easily with the knowledge your partner is acting with love in their heart and purpose of mind. It will make it much easier to trust your partner, their approach to new relationships, and allow you both to relax a bit.

As always, love well.

PP