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Thursday, December 30, 2010

History of the word "Polyamory"

Ever been in on any of the endless debates about where the word "Polyamory" came from?

Alan and his team over at Polyamorous Percolations did a bit of research on the word "Polyamory" that was quite interesting.

Check out the article on his blog here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Caution, possible potholes ahead!


One of my beliefs about polyamory is that trying to convert a monogamous person to polyamory is a big no-no. That isn't to say I don't believe monogamy is a viable relationship model. I even know of poly folks who have multiple partners, one of which is monogamous, something I tried once but didn't work. In my life I've even had a few monogamous relationships though I have never tried to convert anyone.

Recently I met someone who was monogamous and knew very little about polyamory. We talked about polyamory and I made it clear that although we seemed to have a good emotional connection, because she was monogamous I was only interested in a friendship. For a day or two I didn't talk to her which I didn't think was unusual since I often don't talk to my friends for a few days. When she reached out to talk to me again she asked me something that threw me for a bit of a loop. She said, "I don't understand why you will only allow a friendship with me. As you have explained to me, your version of Polyamory is based on the concept that there is the possibility of a relationship with anyone. We seem to have an emotional and physical connection yet you refuse to discuss the potential of us having a relationship because I have traditionally been monogamous and don't identify as polyamorous."

After thinking about this for a while I realized she had a very valid point. To deny the possibility of a relationship with her simply because of her monogamous past seemed to contradict my poly beliefs. I had to take a step back and think about my beliefs a bit. Excluding her from the picture, I had to examine why I avoided relationships with monogamous people. In the past I've avoided them because to me trying to incorporate a monogamous person into my poly lifestyle is a minefield. In my experience, the relationships I've had with monogamous folks tend to involve a lot more jealousy and end with a lot of disappointment for everyone. Sometimes the monogamous person enters the relationship with the hope of "converting" the poly person back to monogamy. And again, the relationships end badly. The bottom line; they just aren't worth the trouble. But is that a fair assessment? If my poly beliefs are that a relationship is possible with anyone, and each relationship I have is defined only by the needs of those in the relationship, should that exclude those who prefer monogamy?

My feeling right now is that I was being somewhat unfair, both to her and to my beliefs. I wasn't honoring either of them. The result, which I often enjoy, was a paradigm shift. I began to believe that although I may have concerns, which are most probably valid, if those concerns were addressed the possibility of a relationship should be allowed. What has followed since has been a lot of conversation about polyamory and our desires in a relationship. Many of my concerns have been addressed while others, although acknowledged, are unable to be answered at this time. (Really, who can predict exactly what a relationship will look like after it is created, or if it will be durable?). The result is that we are now progressing with the possibility of having a romantic relationship. Conversations are continuing and we are making plans to see each other again in the context of a date.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Do you avoid dating people who identify as monogamous? Do you make exceptions? If you typically avoid dating monogamous people, what will make you take a chance? Is avoiding monogamous people consistent with your poly beliefs?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Santa. . .



Dear Poly Santa,

Yes, I'm assuming you are Poly because, well, it makes sense. Just look at all those cute little girl elves running around. I know Mrs. Claus is the bomb but lets face it, she just doesn't look to be rockin' it in the bedroom much and I'm betting she likes baking more than "cooking" these days. And, being at the South Pole your choice is elves or reindeer so. . .

Okay, I'm wayyyyyyy off track. Let me try this again.

Dear Poly Santa,

I hope you, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer, and the elves ::snicker:: are doing well. I hear polar ice melting is a bitch even though global warming isn't real. Since you pretty much live on ice I would imagine your property values are declining drastically though with the addition of more beachfront property there could be an increase in tourist value. Have you. . .

Dammit. Off track AGAIN. Ok, trying this one more time.

Dear Poly Santa,

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves ::giggle:: all have a wonderful celebration!

I know I haven't written you a wish list in a few years and I hope you will forgive me. Then again, I haven't seen presents from you under my tree for a while now so . . . nevermind, sorry, that was a bit petty. Anyway, I haven't really *wanted* for anything so I guess that explains my lack of correspondence with you. Ok, to the list. . .

First, can you do something about my kids getting older? I mean WTH? I blink and they are taller, smarter, and closer than ever to being able to kick my arse. I'm afraid if I blink again a bill for college will be sitting in front of me. That reminds me, I could use some eye drops.

Speaking of aging, could you help me out at all? I don't mind getting older. Hell, I seem to have more fun every year and sometimes even feel like I'm getting younger. Seriously, I'm writing a wish list to Santa. Something I haven't done since I was like 10 yrs old. I'm thinking of breaking out my Erector Set next. But dude, I'm not liking how I get cold easier, tired faster, and my hair is changing color in weird places.

Oh, Erector Set made me think of something else. You know those little blue pills Mrs. Claus slips you sometimes? Yeah, I know about them, don't act so surprised. Sophia, the elf, and I still talk even though she won't date me anymore. (I still don't think what Blitzen and I were doing was unnatural). Anyway, back to the question, I haven't had to use those yet and I would REALLY love it if you could make sure I never have to. K, Thx.

Ok, next on the list, the economy. Seriously, I know you are doing okay up there and everything. I mean, you keep hiring all the elves so there are none left where I live so you must be doing good. (By the way, you are KILLING my fetish dreams man.) Could you maybe quit ho-ho-hoing long enough to spread some of the wealth brother? Stop discriminating and hire full sized people or move your operations center down to the mainland. Remember the polar ice melting? Maybe you should think about that anyway. Ok, 'nuf said, I won't beat that dead reindeer any longer.

So, beside all that stuff maybe you can get me a few other things if you aren't busy? Love, compassion, understanding, consideration, and respect are always things I could use. Mainly because I keep giving all of mine away. Hmm, okay, maybe you better bring me double of those since I'll probably give them all away again anyway. It is really weird, people give me that stuff all the time but I always seem to run out. It is like fruit cake, know what I mean? Give it away, it comes back. Give it away, it comes back. It is like the haunted poltergeist food or something. I'm going to start tagging the damn things like wild animals and see if they come back. I'm thinking nobody ever eats them so there is just a fixed number of them floating around getting re-gifted every year. Sorry, I keep getting distracted today.

You know, reading this list over again it seems a bit pointless. I mean, do I REALLY need all this stuff? I'm pretty much happy with my life and don't sit around wishing for *things* constantly. I don't know that I'd say I'm blessed but, things are cool for the most part. I think I've just been missing you a lot lately. I remember when I would just shoot you a list and the stuff was under the tree a few days later. It was sooooo simple back then. (Except when you forgot the batteries that is. Not that I'm bitter about that!). You know, we had a good relationship back then. We understood each other. I'm really not sure why we even lost touch. Both got busy with our lives I guess. Anyway, skip the list my friend. I'm just happy to reconnect with you again and really do hope things are going well for you.

Love,
PP

P.S. If you could talk to Sophia I would appreciate it. I miss her a lot. Oh, and say Hi to Blitzen for me will ya? KThxBye.


Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you got my gift of a laugh or smile. Wherever you are, however you celebrate, or don't celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and happiness.

All my best to you,
PP

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gender love.

Big surprise to you regular readers, I had an interesting conversation with someone the other night. Since you couldn't be there with me, I'll try to summarize it for you now.

I ran into a casual friend who is a bit of a sexual enigma to me. Without a lot of boring detail, I suspected he was at the least bisexual, possibly homosexual, and I knew he enjoyed cross-dressing at times. I finally decided to get my questions answered the other night and ask him quite directly about his sexual orientation.

After a bit of discussion we ended up talking about our feelings toward the opposite sex and our bisexual experiences and feelings about the same sex. It was then that my friend told me, paraphrased, that he has emotional and sexual relationships with women but only sexual relationships with men. When I pressed him a bit for more detail he bluntly told me that when it came to sex with men it was all about the penis. He didn't care about their face or body and would actually prefer to not know their names or even have conversation with them. If they had a nice penis, he was interested in having sex with them.

Initially I had a hard time with the concept. It seemed contradictory to me that he could have sex with someone and not have an emotional connection. Let alone know their name, which only made the concept feel somehow cheap and dirty. It took me a moment to set aside my own feelings and try to view what he was saying impartially. Obviously he enjoys sex with men but does that necessitate an emotional connection?

Breaking this one down I started with the sex component.
Is it possible to have pleasurable sex with someone without having an emotional attachment to that same person? Been there, done that, so I have to say yes, it is possible. Not preferable, but possible. That led to the next question; is it possible to enjoy sex with a specific gender while never having an emotional attachment. For my friend apparently it is possible, but for me it is not. This was as far as I got with this one because obviously my friend and I are wired differently and I can't completely understand his perspective.

We did talk a bit more though and he did say not only does he have no interest in a loving emotional relationship with another man, he has never encountered another man who gave him the feeling there could be a loving emotional relationship.

That's where it started to make more sense to me. There is a difference between denying something out of logic or dislike, and not having had something because it has never appeared. I do enjoy the male form and appreciate the beauty and sexuality at times but personally I'm not attracted to a lot of men. While there have been a couple of men in my life to which I was attracted, with both I felt a desire to not only have a physical relationship, but an emotional one as well. For me this is a somewhat consistent behavior in that I desire an emotional relationship with a woman before allowing a physical relationship. At the same time, I have been physically attracted to women with whom I've had no interest in an emotional relationship. (Angelina Jolie is a perfect example of this). So again, I can't deny that it is possible to have a satisfying sexual encounter with someone without having an emotional attachment.

Thinking about it some more, I've heard women talk about their bisexuality and how they can be with a woman but only want relationships with men. I guess if the girls can do it, why not the guys.

Now to be fair, I have to admit I've had casual sexual encounters without an emotional connection. I've pretty much left those ways behind me and need an emotional connection in my relationships these days. But thinking back I did approach sex at times fully knowing I didn't want an emotional connection with the person. For me, it was a decision made based on the person, not their gender. Because of that I have a hard time understanding the blanket rejection of the possibility for a relationship with an entire gender. I can still understand someone not being attracted to the opposite sex, but being physically attracted while not being emotionally attracted still doesn't compute.

What are your thoughts on this one? Think you can explain it to me?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I now pronounce you Poly.


Sometimes the poly community seems painfully small. In my community it seems I pretty much know everyone and even when I meet someone new, usually they know someone I already know. A search of poly oriented singles in my area on dating sites reveals pretty much the same thing. The dozen or so who appear, I already know. Now seriously, I'm not that popular. I try to stay active in the poly community, attend socials and events, and regularly check the message boards. Yet the poly world seems huge. Even in my community which feels somewhat small, all flavors of polyamory can be found.

There are the older, hippie types who have something of a "free love" mentality and think the youngsters are all doing it wrong. There is the middle-aged group who seem to be looking for longer-term, stable poly-fi relationships though a few of them still hold onto the fetishes from their younger days. Speaking of fetishes, there is a good sized fetish crowd for whom poly seems more about finding a complimentary fetish and not committing to anyone. And there is the younger crowd who seem to still be trying to figure out exactly what poly means but they damn sure know that nobody else is going to tell them what it means either.

I am perpetually intrigued by the variations, consistencies, flavors, and styles of all the different types of polyamory practiced by this diverse community. They constantly remind me to challenge my beliefs, adjust my perspectives, modify my behavior, and evaluate my expectations. Because of this I am almost thrilled beyond belief when I find a new flavor of polyamory which is exactly what happened recently.

I won't go into the long conversation I had before I understood what I was being told. And in retrospect, I really question why it took me so long to understand what the person was saying. What I found was a polyamorous couple who don't believe in premarital sex.

I'm really wondering if you are as surprised as I was to hear that.

Let me make sure you heard it right. The couple, who has well defined the type of partner they hope to add to their relationship, does not believe in having sex with that new partner before an official commitment union or "marriage" of some type is performed. Their plan is to find, date, and eventually propose marriage to a potential new partner as a couple.

Now, they are fully aware a legal marriage is probably going to be impossible as they, the couple, are already legally married and group marriage isn't a legally recognized union in our state. What they do expect is a ceremony resembling a handfasting or something similar which will serve as binding commitment between all three parties. Really, that doesn't surprise me much since it is the goal of more than a few people I know.

What does surprise me is the premarital sex perspective. I have never before met someone who labeled themselves as polyamorous that was openly opposed to premarital sex. I know many who insist on establishing a relationship first, or even on completion of STD testing prior to sex. And I'm surprised that I'm surprised. Many people, maybe even most, are raised to believe that waiting to have sex until married is the ideal. Religious views are also often opposed to premarital sex. Not that long ago waiting to have sex until being married was the norm rather than the exception. But in my community of polyamorous folks, this couple appears to be a most interesting exception. The next time I talk to them I hope to discuss why they believe as they do.

What about you? Do you know any poly people who don't believe in premarital sex? What would you say is normal in your community, premarital or post marital sex? Have you heard of other relationship paradigms that avoid sex for unusual reasons?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Polyamory is the wrong word.


Recently I have had or witnessed more than a few discussions about what the word Polyamory or other Poly related terms mean. I've noticed something of an interesting trend which is that Poly people generally seem to dislike labels, are accepting of other lifestyles, and tend to avoid trying to place a specific definition on the word Polyamory. At the same time many are frustrated when they encounter others presenting themselves as Polyamorous but then find their lifestyle isn't what they consider Polyamorous.

A specific comment I saw was Deborah Anapol asking if she should discontinue use of the term Polyamory in favor of the term Responsible Non-Monogamy. My response to that comment was:
To me, lumping Polyamory under the Responsible Non-Monogamy umbrella assumes a static definition of the word Polyamory that defines something of a moral standard. Unfortunately I see plenty of people applying the Polyamory label to themselves that live a lifestyle that could hardly be considered “Responsible”.
It also seems that any definition of Polyamory that relies on the term “Monogamy” implies that Monogamy is the norm and Polyamory is an alternative or variation which could be considered of lesser value or subordinate to Monogamy.
If the problem is that Polyamory isn’t descriptive enough maybe that is because the word is being used casually by many people to define a large variety of lifestyles causing the word to have lost a defined meaning? Rather than finding a new word maybe the solution is to stop accepting the inappropriate application of the word Polyamory and cause it to once again have a defined and valuable definition.

Not long after this discussion I became involved in another discussion about the word Primary. Comments like "Someone can have multiple Primaries" or "Primary doesn't mean First" abounded to which my response was to quote the dictionary definition that basically states a Primary is first in order. You would have thought I dropped a fire-bomb on a group of kindergartners singing "We are the World". Basically I was told that creating a static definition for the word Primary was unfair, people should be allowed to define it for themselves. Not to mention the word Primary doesn't address the possibility of two people being in "first position", nor did the dictionary definition take into account Polyamory.

Really?

The same people who are struggling to find a descriptive word that accurately reflects the design of their lifestyle are the same people screaming that it is unfair to create a static definition for a word and everyone should be able to define it for themselves.

Really?

I think there is a logic problem there folks. If you refuse to allow the definition of the word Primary (or any other word) because it may exclude some folks, and want to find a new word to use, how exactly will that help?

Let's try an example. We don't want to use the word Primary anymore to describe the "main" relationship someone has. The person they are married to, joined with, or otherwise have a strong relationship with that may involve kids, mortgages, and take higher priority than other relationships. Instead we are now going to use the word Plob. But wait, Plob to you means the equivalent of a traditionally defined Primary but it doesn't to me. In my Poly world everyone I have a relationship with is a Plob!! And since creating a static definition for Plob would be unfair and we need to let everyone define it for themselves, my new definition of Plob is as valid as yours.

Now we are back to the same problem we had with the word Primary originally.

Instead of changing the word, maybe we need to change how the word is used. Using it appropriately, within a well established definition, would make the word useful again. Think about any simple conversation you have with another person. You can only have a conversation that makes sense if you are both using words that are generally understood the same way by both people and used within that understanding in a logical manner. Without that you might as well be speaking different unknown languages. Even reading this article would be impossible if I defined every word I used here in a different way than you do.

What are your thoughts about this one?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wanna fight?



Most relationships have problems now and then. No two people are exactly the same so chances are that sooner or later you will have a communication breakdown, difference of opinion, or just plain have a bad day and conflict with your partner.

Recently I had a conflict with one of my partners that at the time seemed pretty serious. She got quite emotional and said some things that concerned me greatly about our relationship. As seems to be the case with conflicts, it came at the worst time. We were in bed and had consumed a fair amount of mezcal which, along with an intense sexual encounter, was probably the catalyst for strong emotions. We discussed things a bit and after I was sure I was sober, I headed home for the night to give us both some space.

The next day we talked and realized we had both made more out of things than we should have and worked out the things that needed adjusting. Alcohol, high emotions, or a bad day that really isn't the point. What it did cause me to do was think about the disagreements we have had, and disagreements I have had with my partners in general. That is what I'm going to talk about in this article.

Generally disagreements in my relationships don't involve name calling, yelling, screaming, throwing things, or result in a visit by the police. I don't want to take all the credit for that. Just like ugly fights, all fights or disagreements take two people so I believe a lot of the credit goes to my partners. And I've walked away from more than a few disagreements when they did turn to name calling, yelling, or throwing things by both parties so obviously I'm not perfect. The other thing I realized is that most of the disagreements I have don't result in an impasse. We almost always find there has been a communication error or we are able to negotiate or compromise and come to a happy solution.

I don't think I'm lucky that most of my disagreements are handled in a mature fashion, it takes a lot of work and effort. The process includes constant re-examination of how disagreements were handled, the results, and how I acted during discussions. There are some other conscious things you can do in the heat of the moment to try and keep a disagreement calm and reasonable.

Listen to the other person. You may be grinding your teeth, biting your tongue trying to hold back a response to something they are saying. But don't interrupt, let them finish. This accomplishes a couple of things. One is that they feel you are actually listening. Maybe you don't agree with them but you actually listened. Another is that you hear much more about how they are really feeling rather than just some of it when you interrupt trying to make a point of your own. The impulse to respond immediately to a statement is often an emotional reaction like the desire to make a point or to respond to what you felt was a "cheap shot". Waiting to reply will help the emotion to pass allowing you to make a calm, intelligent response rather than allowing yourself to be provoked. It also gives you time to forget that "cheap shot" to which you wanted to respond. If it is a cheap shot it may irritate you and push your buttons but honestly, will responding in-kind help the discussion? Probably not.

Be the adult. Now, this is different than considering yourself superior. You don't know more than the other person, you aren't smarter, you don't have better ideas. That isn't what "being the adult" is about. It is about not allowing yourself to be provoked. Think of it this way; If your 5 yr old yells at you that they hate you, do you respond to that like a 5yr old would by pushing them down on the ground or do you respond in an adult manner? Hopefully you respond in an adult manner. Do the same thing when having an argument with your partner. Ignore the "cheap shot", condescending comments, or foul language. Take a breath once they have finished speaking. And respond in an adult manner. If absolutely necessary follow your response with something like "Name calling, cheap shots, and foul language aren't going to help us fix this".

That brings up something else, "fixing this". Let your partner know that you want to discuss the problem, you want to find a solution, you want to work together with them. The problem isn't you against them, the problem is the two of you against the problem. Let them know, more than once, that you are viewing the situation as you and them against the problem. Not the two of you against each other. That may go a long way to diffusing a potentially explosive situation.

Of course there are a lot of other things you can do to keep a disagreement civil. A lot of what you try though depends on the other person. Some people respond better to certain communication styles than others. Try a few different things and see what works. I often think of disagreements like cooking. Sometimes things I make are great, other times the stove wins and dinner is burnt. But I'm always looking at my cooking and thinking about how to do things better, more efficiently, and with a better result. If you can look at disagreements that way you can learn from them and hopefully make them more constructive than destructive.

So what methods do you use for keeping disagreements civil? Active listening techniques, body language, breaks for thinking or calming down? What has worked and what hasn't? Or do you just make sure you call the cops first?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A pinch of sexuality.


Recently some discussion on an article made me realize that I often sound like a prude. I frequently mention my believe that polyamory isn't about sex and anyone who reads my articles for a while will probably deduce that I'm not a big fan of casual sex either. More than a couple of people are probably looking at me and wondering what type of polyamorist I am if I'm not sleeping with anyone. I realized I didn't need to change my ways but that maybe I need to change the way I talk about my ways.

Sex has always been a private thing for me. I don't often gossip with the boys about my latest exploit and when I do I'm not as detailed as some guys. It isn't that I'm less sexual than other guys, in fact I've been told the opposite, but that rather somewhere in my evolution sex was filed under "Top Secret" in the filing system used by my brain. If I had to guess it would be due to the fact my parents were very private sexually. I never saw my father grab Mom's butt, breast, or other parts. They never made suggestive comments in front of us kids and I can't remember ever catching them in a compromising situation. They almost always held hands when I was younger, and often do today, and give each other quick kisses when appropriate. I find myself acting in much the same way with my partners in front of my own children.

At times I'm able to be more open about my sexuality, usually when I'm in a group of friends who are quite open. Polyamory seems to attract people who are more open about sexuality and that is where I seem to lose some of my privacy inhibitions. Over the past several years I've enjoyed a group of friends who regularly held "play parties" which included a healthy dose of nudity and group sexual activities. Although I became somewhat comfortable having sex in front of others, sequential partners in a group setting or casual sex with someone I don't know well still isn't something that appeals to me. I've also been fortunate to have had partners who have let me explore mild BDSM, both giving and receiving, and I've learned I'm more of a dominant than a submissive. I've had the opportunity for a few threesomes, done some role playing, and probably had sex in more than my share of interesting locations. A big eye opener for me was discovering, just a couple of years ago, that I am a bit bisexual through a couple of different encounters. Although I don't have a strong interest in the opposite sex, I've found a few people that peaked my interest and I'm no longer afraid of exploring that part of myself.

Currently one of my partners practices sex magik, something we hope to explore together at some point. For now we are busy exploring D/s a bit with collaring and some bondage. In the past we have had the opportunity to include others in our sex life and both hope to explore that more as well. During the year we attend "play parties" as they come up and a couple of annual events where some of our relationship rules are suspended based on the nature of the events. Safety and respect remain however we both have the freedom to explore more casual encounters. Something which neither of us have really taken advantage of so far, probably because we already have a satisfying and safe sexual relationship. This same partner has told me before that due to my sexual appetite, both in frequency and variety, she finds it hard to keep up with me and I need to find another girlfriend, something which I have been able to do recently. Though I have known my new partner a long time, the sexual aspect of our relationship is somewhat new. Yet it appears we both have interests that have the potential for a very sexually charged and challenging exploration of new areas together.

I'm also a bit cautious including a lot of sex in my articles for other reasons. My hope was that this blog would become something of a resource with good active discussions. Though I'm not hesitant to discuss sex, I didn't want that to become the focus on these pages. In trying to achieve that goal I may have pulled back too much giving the impression that the sexual aspect of polyamory isn't important to me when in fact it is important.

Hopefully this has provided some insight about who I am and that yes, I do have a healthy sexual appetite. Going forward I hope to be more open about sexuality and include it more often in articles. I am glad I had a paradigm shift which made me realize there was something missing from my writing. Thanks to you readers who helped me see that and please, don't ever hesitate to "call me on the carpet" if you think something is missing or don't agree with what I'm saying. I'm not perfect, and I don't know more than any of you. I'm just the person who started this blog hoping for a place where we can all help each other.

All the best,
PP

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where did my clothes go?


I'm surprised sometimes when poly people say they have a hard time finding other poly people. There are plenty of resources out there, particularly online. There are Yahoo! groups, Facebook groups, and on and on. Often that statement is met with a qualifying response something like "No, I mean meet other poly people to DATE."

Ohhhhhhhhhh, I get it now, sorry.

This leads me to my topic today. Posting nude pictures of yourself on Poly sites.

On one of the groups I'm in someone posted new nude pics the other day. Now, I'm not a prude by any means and enjoy the naked human form. Usually female in flavor but even the nude male form can be a pleasure to view sometimes. And I can even appreciate someone posting pics with partial nudity that are tastefully done or maybe reflect their lifestyle, such as a nicely done rope bondage scene. What I don't understand though is why someone would post nude, explicit, suggestive pictures to what is essentially a social group, not a dating site. I could understand if maybe it was a Swingers site or group as maybe they would want to use their pretty bits to try and attract partners. But polyamory is more about love and relationships than casual sex right? So why post those type of pics on that type of site?

I ask a few people about this and in the interest of fairness I want to provide some of their answers. The question was, "Why would someone post explicit, suggestive, nude pics of themselves on a social site or group?":
"They don't understand what poly is."
"They want attention."
"Because they are idiots?"
"Who knows."
"They just want attention."

I think another reason could be that some people confuse sex with love. They believe that when someone, pretty much anyone, wants them then they are loved. And in extreme cases, the more people who want them the more they are loved. Maybe it is that logic that then leads them to believe that attracting people who will want them, no matter how they do that, will bring them more love. And so they post nude pictures of themselves in inappropriate places and feel it is okay to do so because really all they are doing is trying to find "love".

Interestingly enough, this has the opposite effect on many people I know. When people post nude pictures on a poly site many of the folks I know are immediately repulsed by the person. Without knowing anything about them, people will dismiss them as being promiscuous or assuming they "aren't really poly". My own observation is that I rarely see the nude picture posters attending poly meetings, socials, or other social events leading me to believe that either posting the pictures is a game for them, or they are only looking for the "hookup" and not interested in being part of the community.

So what do you think about posting nude pictures on social sites? Have you ever done it? If so, why? I'm talking about social sites though not dating sites where, despite my own tastes, I can understand some nudes being posted.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My poly isn't as fast as yours.

Recently Janet Kira Lessin, Center Holder, World Polyamory Association and apparently a founder of the WPA posted an excerpt from her book "Polyamory, The Poly-Tantra Lovestyle". The excerpt (which I can't post a link to here since it was on membership site and I can't find it elsewhere) briefly outlines how she and her husband view and have designed their polyamory. Here is a reprint of a piece of the article on which I'm going to focus:

"G & R came out of the closet, walked into our world at the Loving More
Conference. There I admired a beautiful Goddess, J, in the hot tub. As Sasha
hugged me, J noticed me, floated up and met me eye-to-eye. She "saw" me and
there was this knowingness. Sasha introduced us but my head spun; names and
words were meaningless. He pointed to her mate, B, who was every bit the God to
her Goddess, and I gazed from her to him, him to her, then to Sasha.
Simultaneously, all our faces lighted with smiles. Our hearts and souls rejoiced
with knowingness. Our soul groups celebrated with a new homecoming.

In my mind, I pondered, "What should I do?" I'd exclusively committed to G
& R. Yet here was amazing energy with these two new people. I followed my
instincts and leveled with them. "Sasha and I are here with our lovers, G & R.
If you'd like to meet them and we all click, well who knows?"

When we met, the connection was there, all the way around, all six of us!
Sasha, G & R and I invited the new couple to our cabin with (we said) no
expectations. With the freedom of no expectations came the bliss of six, my most
magic night of love thus far.

I fell asleep basking in the glow of our six-way love. We have fulfilled
the prophecy laid out by the late Robert Rimmer in The Harrad Experiment; a
vision of three couples uniting at graduation. Yes, thank you, Robert, we all
indeed had graduated."

As entertaining as the article is, and it sounds like Janet's life may be, I was left shaking my head. The story is presented as a beautifully wonderful and loving poly moment and to that end I wish Janet nothing but happiness and a nice memory. But seriously, she and her husband and the couple they are dating met J&B and ended up in a six-way sex fest with them the same night. Really? That is polyamory? Before I sleep with anyone we have some serious conversations, even if it is just going to be casual. I'd like to hear a brief sexual history, general outlook on sexual activity, promiscuity, safety, and expectations going forward. Then we can talk about sexual likes and dislikes and determine if it is just going to be casual sex, are we even wanting the same kind of casual sex?

Folks, that isn't a 20 minute conversation. It can often take hours. I have a hard time understanding how Janet, a supposed expert and experienced polyamorist, could meet a couple, have the necessary conversations, and engage in a six-way orgy with the couple the same day. Personally I don't believe I could establish an emotional connection that quickly let alone satisfy my safety concerns. In my mind her story doesn't fall in the category of polyamory at all, but rather much more solidly lands in the swing realm of things.

What are your thoughts on this one? Is the story swing or poly? Did you view the story more like I did, or did you read it as a Happy Poly Moment?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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Disclaimer: This is a compensated posting.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Poly community.


I have talked before about involvement in the Poly community. Going to parties, participation on message boards, attending socials, etc. Now I would like to ask for ideas.

There has been a bit of chatter in my area lately about creating a new Poly group to have meetings for discussion of Poly topics and general socialization with other Poly folks. We have had a couple of groups in the past which have struggled with both leadership and locations. The new group being suggested will have completely new leadership so that problem will be avoided. But location is still a concern.

In the past groups often average 12 to 15 people and sometimes almost 30. Obviously this makes having the meetings in someones living room almost impossible. Groups have also tried community centers that are alternative lifestyle friendly but those options have mostly disappeared due to business closures and the economy. Coffee shops are the most recent venue but often they don't have a good space for 12-15 people to sit as a group and the lack of privacy is concerning to some folks.

Help! Do you attend poly discussion or other events in your area? Where do you meet? Ideally space would be free or very low cost, private or semi-private, and alternative lifestyle friendly. Ideas I've seen that were dismissed are public library's, community centers, and church spaces.

Any ideas you might have would be appreciated!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Canadian Polygamy Law Reference Case

Opening arguments in the Canadian Polygamy Law Reference Case started on Monday (11.22.10) and are already looking quite interesting. (Reference Trial of s. 293 to test its constitutionality. s.293 is the Canadian law that bans polygamy).

The following blog by Nancy Mereska is so far covering the case nicely. Nancy has a seat in the courtroom and is apparently taking some awesome notes which she is then posting to the blog.
Stop Polygamy in Canada

Day 2 of the case got more interesting with B.C. Attorney General Mr. Craig Jones' opening statement including the sentence "Polygamy must be restricted to polygyny and not polyandry, polyamory, etc."

Theories are flying at why that statement would be included with some believing it a setup for failure of the criminal code. Stating it is okay for women to have multiple marriages but not men is an interesting if not blatantly discriminatory statement that has me wondering if there is still some misunderstanding of terms, the issues, or both.

Either way this is truly shaping up to be the show to watch for those interested in or practicing alternative lifestyles!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving with the Poly's!


Well it is that time of year again. Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and all the other yummy Thanksgiving food. Black Friday and shopping until you can't stand anymore. The rush to get the Christmas presents, the tree up and decorated, lights stapled to the house. Finishing the last minute wrapping then shredding the wrapping to get to all the goodies. And finally, a big alcohol laden party to ring in a new year. Tons of fun, right!?

For polyamorists it also brings up some other things to deal with. How do you arrange time with your loves during the holidays? If you aren't *out* to everyone how will that work? And if you are out, is your family accepting enough to have you show up with your husband on one arm, your girlfriend on the other? And if you are traveling to be with family how will they accommodate the three of you? Are they aware you all share the same bed, or will they assume separate bedrooms are the order of the day?

Let's start with a simple one. You are invited to your sisters house for Thanksgiving. You are married so the expectation is you will bring your hubby. But you are poly, out to your family, and your sister makes it clear that your boyfriend is not welcome. It is a family event after all. You argue, maintaining that the Indians who dined with the Pilgrims so long ago were polyamorous so why not accept your boyfriend in the spirit of the holiday? (I'm kidding about the Indians. I have no idea if they were poly or not).

Though it would be tempting to tell your sister where she can stick that overcooked, dried out turkey leg, restrain yourself. Remember, this is your family. Even though they may try to accept your lifestyle, they may not understand it. Don't rush to tell her you won't be coming if your entire extended poly family can't come with you. And I would strongly caution you against just showing up with your poly family in tow.

Instead I would suggest letting your sister know you will come but may leave early so that you can spend time with all of the loved ones in your family. Or that you may show up late for the same reason. I might also GENTLY let her know that although she doesn't recognize your boyfriend as a member of the family, he is a part of the family to you and is expected to be a loved one for a long time. Sooner or later she will likely have a relationship with him. Does she really want it to start on a bad note?

Something I try to keep in mind during the holiday's is respect for the person hosting the event. The bottom line; it is their house, their rules. They can decide who they invite and who they don't. I don't have to like it, but I do have to respect it. And really, is it fair to get angry with them for not wanting your extended poly family in attendance? Turn that around. Would it be okay for them to be angry at you because you are poly? If you don't like their rules then you host Thanksgiving next year. Then you can make the rules.

Another thing I try to remember is that polyamory is about love. If I'm not spending the holiday's with family because I'm upset or angry, is that the spirit of the season? Is it the spirit of poly? For me it isn't. I have to live my life so I'll arrive late, leave early, or celebrate on different days. But I'll somehow find a way to love everyone in my family for the holiday's. I hope you can find a way as well!

On a side note, go back and look at the picture of a turkey above. Why did we ever decide such a weird looking bird would be good to eat?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Come together!


Polyamory is different from monogamy. That didn't surprise you did it? The people who practice polyamory are different from others as well. That shouldn't be a big surprise either. One of the things I enjoy about polyamory is the variety it brings to my life. Not that one of my partners is better than the other, but that I can appreciate their differences.

At a poly event the other night I was enjoying catching up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, getting to know some newer friends better, and making even more new friends. That's when it struck me that polyamory hasn't just expanded the variety of my love life but that it has expanded other aspects of my life as well. There were people at the event that I never would have met except for polyamory. And there were people who on a normal day would probably never socialize, or possibly even tolerate one another, except for polyamory.

I'm a fairly conservative person in everyday life. Some of that is for the protection of my kids, and some of it is because I like my private life private. Yes, I may look like a Republican on the outside but ask any of my partners and they will be happy to tell you that is not at all how my life looks once I walk in the door of my home and most definitely is not representative of me behind the bedroom door.

As for the rest of the folks at the poly event:
-Several goth types who enjoy fetish clubs.
-A wiccan, or two, or more.
-A bi-female who hates to be labeled a bi-female and favors corsets.
-A cross-dresser or two.
-A medicinal marijuana stoner who dabbles in art and music and has taken marijuana appreciation to impressive levels.
-A bi-female metal guitarist.
-An accountant by day, BDSM playboy by night.
-An alternative lifestyle therapist who enjoys dressing provocatively and her blue collar hubby who looks a lot like another Republican.
-A heavily inked and pierced dom and her long-term boyfriend (playtoy?).
-A lawyer
And an assortment of other folks whom I couldn't begin to classify.

As I looked around at this group I was truly impressed at the variety. To think that such a widely differing group of people could be brought together by their desire to love more than one person in their life amazes me. At the same time it made me realize how these different people have educated me, broadened my horizons, gently prodded me to explore and press boundaries, and accepted one another because of their lifestyle choice. Does that happen with monogamy? Could I walk up to someone completely outside my social class, with a contradictory type of life and say "Hi. I'm monogamous." and strike up a conversation based on the commonality of our both being monogamous? I seriously doubt it. I think they would look at me funny and walk away. That's just one more reason I know polyamory is right for me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poly will save the world!


Surprising as it may be, I'm a bit of a sci-fi movie fan. I love aliens, other worlds, space exploration, all that yummy stuff. Even more, I'm a huge End Of The World (EOTW) scenario nut. Something about EOTW movies and books that entrances me. I love digesting them, then dissecting them. Exploring all the "what if's?" and even extrapolating from the books and movies what will happen even further down the road.

Being such a big EOTW fan I watch just about every movie even remotely related to the subject that I can find. And I have also noticed a trend.

In a lot of EOTW books and movies after the decimation of most of the global population where groups of people come together there are almost always physical unions made rather quickly. I say "unions" because in some instances there are actual marriages, many instances the unions are a product of love, and in others they are simply out of convenience. Most of the time these unions are incidental to the plot with the exception of romances which are sometimes integral.

More daring EOTW films and books will touch on the subject of repopulation. The way to rebuild is to repopulate right? They may even suggest that people should make unions to begin repopulating the world. Even casual unions are acceptable.

The most adventurous of the EOTW scenarios however are much more direct. They not only recommend repopulation, but strongly encourage it. They are open about the idea that repopulation is necessary and the more partners a woman has the better the probability of pregnancy. Multiple partners are generally accepted. Small groups with skewed gender proportions often stimulate multiple partner activity even more when there is a large proportion of males to females.

It also helps that in most EOTW scenarios the surviving population would resort to martial law, bartering, and in general survival of the fittest. Males quickly become dominant and women often become prey. It makes sense that a woman would partner with the strongest available male, trading up frequently, until she felt protected. Partnering would be a means to survival.

Which leads me to the question; Is everyone Poly after the world population is decimated? After watching a few hundred films and reading a dozen books, most fiction of course, it sure looks that way. To me, it even makes some sense. But accepting that concept leads me to another question; Does how we expect to act after an EOTW event possibly indicate how we have acted in the past? Does it support theories that humans, or maybe I should say our caveman ancestors, were polyamorous? That we, humans, have suppressed our natural instinct for polyamory because of social and moral evolution?

Or is it simply that we are now intelligent enough and so dependent on a populated world, on other people to be around us and help us, that we know repopulation after the EOTW is necessary by any means including multiple-partner relationships?

What do you think? After the EOTW when you find yourself among the ten percent that survive will you do whatever you must to help repopulate the world?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Polyamory makes everything okay!

Somehow I ran across this CraigsList ad the other day:

"
Free bdrm for Polyamory Female (las vegas)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 2010-11-08, 5:30AM PST
Reply to: see below

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The title says it all so call if this is for U ladies for appointment to live in a 5000sqft luxury home.
"

Seriously? Maybe I'm reading a bit much into the ad but to me it says "If some hot chick wants to have sex with me she can live in my huge beautiful house rent free because I'm wealthy. She can even have other boyfriends if she wants."

Am I reading to much into it? Okay fine, maybe what it really means is, "I think poly people rock so I really want to help some poor poly girl with a free place to live since I'm wealthy. And knowing she is poly she is welcome to have other guys come over whenever she wants and of course I won't want a relationship with her at all."

Ya right. This is some poor schmuck who can't figure out how to get a girlfriend and figures that maybe if he lets one live in his house free, and lets her know she can still date other men, that she will take him up on the offer and he might get lucky. That or maybe he is a player and wants a live in playtoy while he dates other women too. Either way the ad screams "desperation" to me.

What I guess I'm really curious about though is whether there are women out there who would ever answer such an ad. To me it seems shady and sleazy on the surface, potentially dangerous and destructive underneath. Personally I can think of a lot of other ways of finding a relationship, or just sex, before responding to an ad like that.

Something else it says to me is that there is an opinion out there in the ether, hopefully not widespread, that poly women are "easy". Heck, just tell one she can have free room and board and she will be your partner right? I really don't think that is a prevalent opinion, and I hope it never is. I know the poly women I hang around with wouldn't fall into the "easy" category by a long shot.

What do you think of that ad? Am I reading it wrong?

If nothing else I hope it gives you a chuckle like it did me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Border crossing.

Lines. Everybody has them and they all seem to be different.

Think about office supplies. Most people know it is fairly common for office supplies to be "stolen". Some people think taking a stapler is no big deal, to others it is a crime. Some will take anything they can get their hands on, others think even the removal of a single piece of paper is theft.

What about relationship lines?

A partner of mine and I have each run into something of a moral dilemma recently that has made us question our relationship lines. We have each become interested in someone who is not poly and already in a relationship. For myself, the person of interest is married. For my partner, the person of interest is in a committed relationship and lives with their partner. The people we have been interested in have both made it clear they are not poly, not really interested in becoming poly, but would like to have an affair without their partner knowing.

My partner initially refused to even consider having an affair with someone we will call Lucy. Being friends with Lucy, my partner heard a lot about Lucy's failing relationship. How they weren't having sex and the relationship appeared to be more of a financial arrangement than a love situation. Of course, my partner knew they were only getting one side of the story and probably not the whole picture. After spending some time around Lucy, my partner realized most of the story was true but still held fast and refused the affair. Before long Lucy found someone else to have an affair with but was still interested in an affair with my partner.

For me, the person of interest we will call Ethel is an old friend whom I dated in High School. Having recently become reacquainted we found that we still have strong chemistry. As with Lucy, Ethel tells of how her marriage is loveless. She is unhappy but stays because of the children. But again, that is only one side of the story. I have made it clear to Ethel that I cannot have a physical relationship with her without the consent of her husband. Like Lucy, Ethel has had affairs with others. Making things even more challenging is that I run into Ethel at play parties.

My partner and I both have the strong conviction that all parties involved know what is happening with the relationships. We don't want to help others cheat, regardless of whether they are Poly. But holding that moral ground becomes difficult when we see the people we are interested in cheating anyway. While discussing our situations my partner and I both thought; if they are going to cheat on their partner anyway then would I really be helping them cheat? Obviously that question ignores our morality and instead provides us a reason to do something that may be against our morality. But it leads to the bigger question of where the morality lines are drawn.

At what point in a moral dilemma is your morality transferred to another party?

Let's talk about Ethel again for a minute. My morality says I can't sleep with her if her husband doesn't know because that is cheating and it is wrong. But wait, I'm not having a relationship with Ethel's husband so why do I have to abide by relationship rules I can only assume he has in place? I've never spoken to him so maybe he doesn't care about monogamy. And again, I'm not in a relationship with him so why do I have to abide by any rules he may or may not have anyway? I'm wanting a relationship with Ethel so as long as she agrees to sleep with me I'm not morally doing anything wrong. She may be cheating and breaking a morality based agreement with her husband, but I'm not. And what about Ethel cheating on him regardless of whether it is with me or someone else. In that scenario would it be better if she cheated with me since I care about her instead of someone just out for meaningless sex? Maybe morality at that point suggests I should sleep with her for her own safety. (Ok, the last one was a bit of a joke).

I know what you are thinking; morality is morality and if you know it is wrong you shouldn't do it nor should you try to justify doing it by placing the morality on someone else. Now, before you start throwing stones I want you to think about some things.

Have you ever known anyone who was planning to commit a crime? Even a small one like TP'ing a house with toilet paper? (Yes, TP'ing is illegal). Maybe you have even TP'd a house yourself. Did you call the police on the person? Did you turn yourself in? Why not? You know it was wrong and I'm assuming since you are capable of reading this article you know right from wrong, which is morality.
Ever broken something and hidden the fact you broke it? Maybe a dish, or a piece of your Mom's jewelry? Maybe you dented Dad's car with a baseball? Why did you hide it? Again, you knew it was morally wrong to hide it but you did anyway.
Is it because those examples are minor you did nothing? But cheating on a partner is serious, right? Wait, is it serious? Maybe to you it is but to them it isn't. To assume cheating is serious for everyone is imparting your morality on them. Do you have the right to decide which morals can be broken for everyone and which can't?

Weigh in people. Where are your moral lines? How or where would you draw them in the examples I've given?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Normal polyform.



In geek-land, particularly database geek-land, there is a concept called Normal Form that defines how data in a relational database is stored to provide for the most logical configuration with the least amount of data duplication or for the most efficient access. There have been books written on the subject that work wonderfully as sleep aids if you are interested. I tell you this because I thought the title of this article was a cute play on the term and you should know. I'm done geeking now. Maybe.

Sometime ago I was helping a couple having some problems. The woman was a long time poly practitioner and the man was not. He was however very in touch with himself and his feelings yet couldn't understand why he was experiencing certain feelings about polyamory and his partner. In an attempt to help them both understand what might be happening we discussed a theory I have had for a long time. I don't remember how or when I first imagined the theory, and it very well may not be completely mine but, rather the mutated offspring of a college psychology class. And I warn you, unless you are interested in psychology (as I am) you may hate reading some of this stuff.

The theory, which uses another term since I haven't come up with my own yet, is called Formative Norms.
To put the formative norms concept simply: When you are young your brain makes connections between actions you see from others and develops assumptions about why those things happen. They are then reinforced when you test the assumption with positive feedback and acceptance from others. Or, they can be destroyed by negative feedback and disapproval from others. Once the connection is made in the brain, such as the belief in monogamy, related behavior is then modified to support the connection that was made. Such as: Monogamy is good so cheating must be bad. Further relative behavior adaptations would be something like: Cheating will get me in trouble, I will lose my monogamous relationship which is good, so I better not cheat or I better hide it well.

The result is a psyche that is made up of millions of little norms or rules that support one another with the basic concept supporting all those rules. Some of the little rules can be changed but to change the basic concept (norm) that created all those little rules can cause serious problems. Think of a computer; everything depends on the electrical plug. You can change programs on the computer but if you pull that plug (which we will call monogamy here) the whole computer ceases to function. The same can happen with a brain but since there is no plug to pull the brain won’t shut down. Instead it will refuse to change the basic norm (monogamy) and instead try to change all the little rules supporting the basic norm. Such as: Monogamy as the basic rule is still good but now I learn it is okay to sleep with others, so cheating is okay.

Notice I didn’t end with "sleeping with others is okay" I ended with "cheating is okay". The little rule "cheating is bad" was changed to "cheating is okay". The result is that the basic rule that "monogamy is good" still remains. We are just supporting it differently.

Now, I’m not saying the basic norm can’t be changed. What I’m saying is that changing that basic norm first requires re-writing all the rules supporting it, then it can be modified. But it takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, willingness of the person to accept change, and their ability to comprehend the change to their most basic psyche. A lot of work!

This theory, to me at least, explains why some people who were raised to believe monogamy was "the one true way" have a hard time accepting the concept of polyamory. Even those who were raised monogamously but want to try poly and understand it, because of the Formative Norms theory, may have difficulty.

What do you think of this theory? Does it help to understand psychology around monogamy and polyamory and explain the actions and feelings of some, or did I once again get lost off the reservation?

Friday, November 5, 2010

It means what?


A while back Mistress Matisse wrote a piece for "the Stranger" titled "The Great Polyamory vs. Polyfuckery Debate". Find the article here if interested: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/control_tower/Content?oid=5253784

Alan of Polyamorous Percolations of course commented on his own blog "I hope she was just having a pissy day. . ." See Alan's related blog post here if interested: http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2010/10/great-polyamory-vs-polyfcukery-debate.html

Basically Matisse seemed to be complaining that purist groups have formed who believe there is one true and right way to do Polyamory and anyone not doing it that way is wrong. She seems to be frustrated that using the term Polyamory makes her a target for these purists so instead she will use the term Nonmonogamy. But, she doesn't seem happy with the negative connotations around that word either.

Alan in his post pretty much said he didn't see the problem as Matisse did, and quoted some pretty good resources for his feeling that way.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle with this one. That may sound vanilla but give me a second and you will find I do have a strong opinion.

I have heard the purists and myself have been one at times so I haven't had the same experiences as Alan who doesn't see the "One True Way putdowns" as he says. At the same time I think Matisse (and others) may have helped to create her own problem. (I say "may" because I don't know her personally. Given her psuedonym, I probably don’t care to either).

Here is what I think is going on. There are people out there who believe strongly in Polyamory. Call them purists if you like but what they believe is in the literal meaning of the word; multiple loves. When they see others using the word Polyamory to describe behavior like Swinging, Open Relationships, etc. they stand up and say "No, that isn't Polyamory" and end up looking like the purists mentioned in the quoted articles. What they are doing is trying to protect their lifestyle, and the word Polyamory, from corruption. Personally I don't see anything wrong with that. Think about it for a minute. If there were a lot of people practicing relationship designs with ethics different from the literal meaning of the word Polyamory, but using the word to describe their relationships, the literal meaning of Polyamory would be lost. The word would become commonly associated with a bunch of different relationship models. Not all of those models could be considered ethically or morally less desirable than Polyamory, but then again they could.

Take another look at things. Say gay rights are finally fully realized giving gay people the protections and rights they have always wanted. Gay is (roughly) two men in a relationship or two women in a relationship. Now let us pretend the BDSM community wanted those same rights and began presenting themselves as gay to get them. It wouldn't be right would it? Gay people would probably be up in arms appearing as "purists" and speaking out against the BDSM folks. In some ways, though that was an extreme example, I think that is what a lot of the Poly "purists" are doing. They don't want to end up with a default association to a group that practices an ethically, morally, or completely different type of Polyamory than is commonly practiced and understood to be Polyamory.

Speaking from my own experiences, when I have spoken up and defended Polyamory as a "purist" it hasn't been to promote the lifestyle, it has been to make it clear how I practice Polyamory or to differentiate myself from others. For example the following conversation;
Me "I am Polyamorous".
Her "Oh, so you want to marry a bunch of women".
Me "No hon, that is Polygamy" and then I explain my idea of Polyamory and the difference from Polygamy.

Does that make me a purist? Not by a long shot. I believe there are many forms of Polyamory but Polygamy doesn't fit my definition. That said, there are plenty of folks out there who believe Polygamy falls under the umbrella definition of Polyamory. I'm one of them. But I sure as heck am going to explain to someone I have that conversation with that my Polyamory is different from Polygamy because I don't want to get labeled or grouped in with Polygamists.

Now, at the same time I do believe there is a fine line between defending yourself, correcting misconceptions, and preaching a "One True Way" to do things. I have heard plenty of Polyfolk defend themselves and correct misconceptions but I rarely hear the One True Way types saying there is only one way to practice Polyamory.

Should a basic, common understanding of Polyamory be defended? I think so. I believe it necessary to lend credibility to the lifestyle. Should a one true way be assigned to the word Polyamory? In my mind no, because it invalidates the very word by doing so.

Chime in, what are your thoughts on this one?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Conversion or subversion?

There are many arguments about how long Polyamory has been alive. Some claim it has been around forever with beginnings in the animal kingdom. Others believe it was a child of the 60's that came into awareness in the 70's. And even others, I'm somewhat in this camp, believe it is still evolving. What they don't really disagree on is that the number of practicing Polyamorists is fairly low. Throw a rock in a crowd and you will likely hit a monogamous person. Throw 10 rocks in the same crowd and it is possible you will never hit a Polyamorist. Apply these odds to dating and a question or method is born; conversion.

I have known a few people who openly state they will try to convert monogamous people to polyamory. I've known a few more who will tell you they are open to dating monogamous people because "You just never know". I have even met a few who seem to think that converting anyone and everyone they can get their hands on to Polyamory is their lot in life.

I'm not convinced that conversion is the way to go. I've dated my share of monogamous people and even tried it myself for a time. When I was lucky the relationships ended quietly with both of us acknowledging the fact that we had incompatible lifestyles. When I wasn't lucky things blew up and love was replaced by bad feelings and even hatred.

Does it make sense to date a monogamous person in the hopes of converting them to Polyamory?

The downside, as I mentioned, is the relationship blowing up in your face. Assuming it blows up, if you are lucky it will happen soon. If you aren't lucky you may struggle for years before finally being forced to admit defeat. One or both of you may struggle with serious jealousy issues. Trying to solve those may result in the creation of rules designed to protect feelings and one or both of you may find the rules difficult or impossible to follow. Or you may try to take things as they come resulting in a pattern of highs and lows, giddy good times and turbulent bad times.

The upside is that you could end up with a perfectly wonderful relationship. Making a guess, by the time that happens you will have been through a lot with your new partner which would hopefully make for a fairly solid relationship.

Because I don't believe trying to convert people is a good way to go my approach is a bit different. I will date a monogamous person but with certain conditions. They must understand very clearly that I am polyamorous and that won't change. I am also very clear that if their monogamy begins to effect my other relationships that will be the end. And if I feel our relationship is hurting them morally or emotionally I will probably want to end the relationship. I also won't be a dirty secret for anyone. Spouses or other partners will need to know about and bless our relationship. If any of those things don't fit, aren't agreeable, or I don't get a sincere feeling from the other person about them I will not get involved with them. Often when I date a monogamous person I take the relationship at a very slow pace. If at any point things don't feel right I will stop and talk with them about what is happening to determine if we want to continue the relationship.

Where are you at with conversion? Good idea? Bad idea? Have you ever tried it or been the subject of a conversion?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I don't like you not liking them.


A topic we have talked about here before is making things fit. Adding a new partner, integrating households, primary and secondary considerations, your SO finding a new SO. But what happens when you end up with two partners who truly don't like each other?

Here you are, finding yourself stuck between two people who really don't care for each other. You have had some talks, both one-on-one and as a group. You have tried being the catalyst to compromise between the two partners. You have all spent time together to get to know one another better. Being the hinge between these two people you have taken responsibility to ensure communication is open, feelings are respected, and needs are being met. In short, you have been responsible as much as possible and done everything you can think of to spark a good relationship between your two partners but it just isn't working.

They just don't like each other.

Now you are seeing your hopes of an integrated family, living under one roof, being swept away in the wind. Those dreams of cozy nights cuddling as a group on the couch are evaporating. Fantasies of sharing the same bed seem about as possible as life on the Moon being discovered.

Maybe the perfect life isn't taking shape but then, has your life been perfect? Are you famous beyond your dreams? So popular you can't even remember all your friends names? Rich beyond belief? Probably not. (In case I'm wrong and you are rich beyond belief email your PayPal account information to me NOW! Thanks!). So do your relationships have to be perfect? Probably not. Hopefully you are a realist and know what has happened was a possibility and you are okay with loving two people who may never be good friends.

The question is; what do you do now?

If you have gotten this far without anyone murdering someone you must be doing something right. Sit down, think about it, and figure out what that thing may be. Then keep doing it.

The big one I would focus on is respect. I would insist that each of my partners respect the other. We would have a group meeting where I would be quite direct about things. I would let them know that a change is about to take place. That although I've been trying to help them have a friendship I now realize that isn't going to happen and I will no longer work toward that outcome. I would let them know I accept they are individuals and respect their feelings. At the same time I would insist they respect one another. No playing manipulative games for time, attention, etc. No bashing each other verbally in my presence. No blatant disregard for feelings or refusals to be considerate of each other. I would let them know I love each of them and I won't tolerate bad behavior towards one another.

Now maybe that sounds like I'm being a parent and not a partner but in my opinion I need to take that position. Again, I'm the hinge between them so I need to take some responsibility. It is also up to me to ensure my needs are met and being a chew toy in a tug of war would be the opposite of meeting my needs.

I would also think I probably need to stop trying to make them like each other. Planning dates together and such sounds great but with two people who don't like each other continuing to do that may cause them to begin to resent me or the situation.

And finally, I would let them know that their liking each other isn't a requirement. It won't prevent me from loving either of them nor will it cause me to love either of them less.

Have you been in this situation before? How did you deal with it? If you haven't, what would you do if you ended up in this situation?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Which came first, the Primary or the Secondary?


I stumbled across an interesting forum post the other day while flitting about the wonderful Web.

Most books, articles, and How To help guides about Polyamory assume that a Primary relationship will come first. Once rules, limits, etc. have been discussed and agreed upon then the couple will venture out into the world to find a Secondary.

But what happens when you have an established Secondary relationship and find someone with which you want a Primary relationship? Do you put the Secondary on hold while you build your new Primary relationship? Do you just "grandfather" the Secondary relationship even if it defies the proposed rules and agreements of your new Primary relationship?

I've been in this situation before and handled it quite poorly. I had an established relationship which we had mutually agreed was a Secondary relationship. (Disclaimer: I don't believe in applying the terms Primary and Secondary to my partners and use them only as a communication tool when necessary). We both knew that although we had a great physical relationship and a fairly solid emotional relationship neither of us had any interest in merging our lives and living under the same roof. A lot of our lifestyles were much different from each other and we both knew trying to cohabitate or take our relationship to a higher level of commitment would probably destroy our relationship.

Things were going along quite nicely until I met and started dating a new woman. Although we were nowhere near looking at each other as Primary partners, my current Secondary became unreasonably jealous of my new SO and asserted herself as my current Primary, insisting her feelings and desires were to be considered first and foremost. My initial response was to have conversations with my Secondary and try to understand why she was feeling the way she was and if she was now wanting to take our relationship to a different level and become my Primary. She did not. Her intention wasn't to change our relationship but rather to protect her relationship with me by asserting herself as the Primary.

My feeling was that it was unfair of her to assert herself as a Primary when she only wanted to be a Secondary. With more conversation we realized that we were no longer on the same page with our relationship. At that point I told her I felt we needed to renegotiate our relationship to which she replied as long as we kept having sex regularly that was fine. I disagreed and ask that while we renegotiated we abstain from sex allowing us to focus on agreements and emotional aspects. At the same time I was going to continue development of my new relationship and we would see how the two would fit together. She promptly discarded me like a used paper-towel without further discussion. Although I was disappointed with her decision, I can't blame her a bit.

Looking back I still struggle with how I could have handled things differently. In my mind she was being unreasonable and renegotiation was our only option. At the same time had I been in her shoes I probably would have done the same thing. But, I'm a bit off point here.

What I learned was that it is never okay (for me) to put an existing relationship, regardless of the level of that relationship, on hold while building a new relationship with another person. Although I may someday become involved with someone who would be okay putting our relationship on hold while I developed a new relationship with someone else, I think most people would feel very hurt in that position. I know I probably would.

Fortunately because of the equality I desire in relationships I don't see this being a problem I will have regularly and have in fact encountered it only once in my life. Should I run into it again I will try having more group conversations and try to forge agreements between everyone about how things will be handled.

Some other methods I've seen or heard of are:
-Put only some aspects of the current relationship(s) on hold such as not having sex, but still communicate as needed.
-Make acceptance of existing relationships, regardless of status, a requirement of any new partners.
-Get everyone together so they all know what is going on and build consensus around how to move forward.

I'm sure there are plenty of other ideas out there. What are yours? How would you handle creating a Primary relationship with a new person while you had an existing Secondary relationship in place? (Remember, the terms are only for convenience, it is the type of relationships we are talking about). Have you done this before and what did you do? Did it work or did you fail as I did?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I want to become one with you!


When people get excited sometimes that excitement is manifested in a rush to get things done. They hustle to the store to get the new Justin Bieber CD, rush to the big sale, rush to happy hour. Other times they cut corners, maybe putting off an errand to get to happy hour or waiting to pay the electric bill so they can afford the new LCD TV.

Sometimes Poly people get excited and rush things too. The new partner finally shows up in their life, everything looks perfect, and they want to incorporate them into their lives RIGHT NOW! Heck, I have felt that way before as have many of the people I know.

My advice to you; slow down. But then, you aren't going to take that advice are you because NRE is blinding you right now. Beside, I wouldn't have an article to write if you did.

So lets talk about quickly incorporating a new person into your life. There are probably a few things to keep in mind.

Don't cut corners.
It may be tempting to overlook things with that new relationship. Maybe you find out the person doesn't shower every day and it bugs you. Maybe they leave the sink full of dirty dishes which annoys you a bit. Don't make the mistake of overlooking those things just to facilitate the relationship. Those are the little things that can come back later and bite you. I'm not saying make a big deal or keep score or anything like that. In any relationship you always pick your battles. What I'm saying is don't dismiss them completely in the interest of merging your life with the new person.

Don't terraform.
You know what that is right? The destruction of an existing environment for the purpose of creating a new one. (Yes, that is a rough definition, don't quote me). In other words, don't destroy your current life just to fit in the new person. Don't throw out all your stuff to make room for theirs, don't empty your bank account to move them in or remodel the house, don't quit your friends or support groups because you think your life is done growing. Be sensible and make realistic changes. Expect the new partner to accept some of your life just as you try to accommodate theirs.

That brings me to the big one if you have an existing partner and are adding a new partner; protect what you already have.
Adding a new partner to an existing relationship can be a challenge for anyone. Even when the existing relationship is well established and time tested. Jealousy and other emotions can suddenly erupt where they hadn't been seen before.
Here are some ideas for managing things when quickly integrating a new partner without cutting corners:
-Have a meeting. Get everyone together to talk but don't just do it once. Plan a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly get together. Have dinner, have breakfast, do a picnic in the park, whatever. I wouldn't recommend doing it less than monthly whatever you do. Try to have the meeting in a quiet, private place without distractions. Make it clear that you want the meeting to be a 'family meeting' where everyone can talk about anything on their mind to make sure things are going smoothly and work out any potential issues.

-Have a family calendar in a convenient location for everyone. Use it for scheduling between partners if necessary. Also use it for important events, dates, etc. What you are trying to avoid is one partner planning to cook dinner for everyone only to find out at the last minute the other two have planned a date together. Not good. Or someone assumed someone else would be home to watch the kids. Again, not good.

-Designate space. Don't just assume your new partner will "fit their stuff in somewhere". The new partner may feel uncomfortable trying to find space for their things. And how would you feel if someone shoved your underwear aside to make room for theirs in the same drawer? Make space in drawers and closets for the new person and let them know that is their space. And after they move their stuff into the space, respect it. Don't start using their closet to store the kids toys later.

-Assuming you are the hinge in a V relationship; touch base with both partners regularly and privately. Talk to each partner and make sure things are working okay. You are the hinge so you need to facilitate things, right? Try to help with problems and avoid future problems as you can. And when you talk to each of them, do it privately. Often people open up about concerns much easier when the conversation is in private.

Those are just a few things to make your new partner feel welcome as well as make the transition smooth with your existing partner. There are many, many more and anyone who has gone through this before could quite easily write a volume on the topic. At the same time, every situation is different and every person is different. Think about yourself and your partners and make a list, mental or on paper, of the things you can do to make a smooth transition. Revisit the list regularly to remind yourself of the things you should be doing. Encourage your partners to do the same. It may sound a bit silly at first but this is important to you, right? The worst thing that could happen is you will write a list you will never look at again. But even that will get you to thinking about things in the right direction so you can enjoy your wonderful life.

Happy Polyamoring!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

They don’t get it.




I was at the local tequila bar with some friends the other night when one of my lesbian friends shows up wearing a shirt that says, “I can’t think straight”.
Think about it for a minute. Did you get it?
I loved it! She could wear the shirt in public and nobody would have a clue what she is really saying. And in fact, she has. A story she tells is of a woman in the grocery store who upon seeing her shirt said, “I can’t think straight either. I’m just in such a fog today!” She didn’t get it.
But to friends who know her and her sexual orientation, it is absolutely hysterical.
How many times have you seen a person, male or female, dressed in particular way and thought, “They are gay”. But did you really get it? It isn’t just that they may be gay, they are showing it to the world. Essentially wearing a big sign about their sexuality and broadcasting it to the world.
Now, I don’t have a problem with that but it did get me thinking about something. Why is it some people need to broadcast their sexuality or orientation? Initially I thought that it was mostly gay people who do this. T-shirts with rainbows, men wearing women's clothing, women wearing men's clothing. But monogamous people don’t broadcast their sexuality right? So why do gays? Ahhh, what about wedding rings? Isn't that the traditionally monogamous broadcasting their lifestyle for the world to see? I’m not making a judgment here either way but I’m going to move along and let you just think about that on your own. Comment if you like, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

On a fetish site the other day I read something that struck me as profound. Paraphrasing, the poster essentially said; If you are interested in a fetish, go to a fetish club. Ignore the people who dress a particular way, like in leather and chains for example. They are trying to dress a certain way to fit into a particular niche and fit a label. But who says you have to wear big boots, leather, and have tons of tattoo’s and piercings to fit a particular label? Why can’t the guy wearing Docker pants and a button-down oxford shirt be just as good a Sadist as the guy looking like he is wearing a leather and metal condom from head to toe?

It made me realize I don’t have to try to fit in. I don’t have to dress in a particular style. I don’t have to speak a certain way. I only have to be me to find the pleasure in my life, to enjoy my flavor of kink whatever that may be. And for me, maybe part of the fun is walking down the street looking just like everyone else and none of them having a clue that when the front door to my house closes I become someone completely different.
I become me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I think we need to talk!


A recent comment served to remind me to remind you of something.
Look over to the left. See where it says "E-mail me!" Read the short statement below that.
That is there for YOU. I can think of articles pretty easy, I'm warped that way. But as you may have noticed this isn't a blog chronicling my life, it isn't a journal or anything like that. It is simply topics as they come to me and that I find interesting or amusing. But that's for me. I want this blog to be for you!
Send me an e-mail about a topic you would like to hear about. Send me a question and I'll try to answer it. Even a funny story that you think is relevant and would like posted.
Don't worry, I won't use names if you ask me to withhold them. I will post anything you send exactly as you send it, or I will paraphrase/rewrite it if you prefer. Just let me know what you would like to see and we'll make it happen. The bottom line is; let's interact here!
Just like with Polyamory, this blog isn't all about me.
PP

Monday, October 18, 2010

My poly is better than yours!


I'm not an expert on Polyamory. I don't pretend to be and don't want to be one. I simply desire to share what I have learned and offer some concepts that may be useful to others. I hope that I succeed with that and would feel satisfied if there were many people who followed my writings, but I'm also a realist and know that I will never agree with everyone.

I enjoy learning about Polyamory and relationships in general so I spend a lot of time on message boards, blogs, forums, and in real life social groups. Lately I've been amazed at the level of conceit some people have with respect to their lifestyle.

Personally I feel I'm fairly well grounded, maybe even overly conservative, when it comes to my opinion about "experts". Because you have read every book about Polyamory does that make you an expert? Aren't those books really just opinions by others? And what qualifies someone as an expert on Polyamory?

In my mind there are very few, if any, experts on Polyamory. If Polyamory is a lifestyle then to be an expert you would have had to live the lifestyle perfectly. In other words, you would have never had a failed relationship. Then again, how do you learn without making mistakes? So is it the person who has had lifetime lasting poly relationships who is the expert, or the person who has had a large number of failed relationships?

I keep seeing people posting online and referring to popular books (such as The Ethical Slut) or organizations (such as Loving More) or others (Polyamorous Misanthrope or Cunning Minx) and using those references as "experts" in support of their opinions. Interestingly enough, those same authors and organizers freely admit to having had failed relationships and made mistakes. Knowing some of them personally I know without a doubt that many people completely disagree with how they practice Polyamory or with other aspects of their poly lives. I'm one of them.

Who you believe is an "expert" on a topic is completely subjective. If you agree with someone you may qualify them as an expert in your mind, if you don't you will think them an idiot. Yet those two people may have the exact same amount of experience with the subject.

I could quote opinions and writings here all day long supporting my opinions but it doesn't really matter much. If you don't agree with what I'm saying then you probably aren't going to agree with any sources I use either. No amount of scientific jargon or $10 words are going to change that. So why do some people insist their way is the best way and feel that because they can quote an "expert" their superiority is validated?

Maybe they fear that if they admit to making a mistake they will be a failure? Maybe because if they don't ferociously defend their lifestyle it will shatter, leaving them without guidance in life? Maybe they are trying to hide the fact they don't understand it better than anyone else?

I don't know. What I know I don't enjoy is having someone take a superior attitude about their lifestyle. Personally I prefer to try and understand perspectives and experiences different from mine. I question, suggest, and offer my experiences or opinions but I try very hard not to preach or profess knowing the absolute right way to live.

What I hope to find here is a sharing of knowledge, ideas, thoughts, and concepts. Maybe we can all help each other find our way down the bumpy road of life. But when the fork in the road is reached don't try to tell me which way to go. I won't try to tell you which way to go either. In the meantime, let's disagree and see if we can learn something!!