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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A One Minute Woman?

We have all heard the jokes right? The guy who lasts a minute in bed. Sometimes, even less.
I'm not ashamed to admit I've been there, done that. In about a minute. Hell, control is tough. Don't believe me, try controlling a sneeze sometime. Or maybe the dilation of your pupils when you go out in the bright sunlight to laugh at this article. Beside, if women weren't so damn sexy then control wouldn't be so difficult! (Yes, that was a generalized compliment rather than a feeble attempt at blaming my lack of control on the woman).

Yes, we all know most women can have multiple O's. Yes, we men are jealous and hate you for it. But just because you CAN have multiple O's, should you? Oops, I meant, we men are happy for you being able to have multiple O's!!
But really, should you?

What about a woman delaying her orgasm?
Ok ok, before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. I know, it doesn't make sense that someone with the ability to have multiple O's would delay having them. If anything you would want to have more. Oh God yes, please, more, yes, MORE! (Sorry, got excited). But what if delaying orgasm as long as possible would result in the most wonderful, spectacular, mind-blowing, life-changing, hallelujah, warm apple pie orgasm possible? Would it be worth it then?

I'm sure there is a tantric, new-agey type movement, book, or group out there somewhere who has thought of that one already. Have any ladies tried it? How did it work out?

Maybe an even better question is this one; If men should work, usually at the behest of women, to control their orgasms and prolong intercourse, then wouldn't it be fair to ask women to work on learning how to have orgasms more quickly?
(Hey, you over there with the stake and gasoline, just hold up a minute!!)

I'm being serious here! Yes, I do think in general men achieve that warm apple pie moment a lot quicker than women. And I think men working on control in order to provide more satisfaction for their woman (women?) is a grand endeavor. But what about those times when you are in a hurry. You know what I mean. That 15 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up. The 10 minutes when you get home after work before you have to start dinner. Wouldn't it be great at those times if women had the ability to have an orgasm in a minute?

So what about a one minute woman? Is there such a thing? Could I possibly find a woman who has a mind-blowing, emotionally and physically exhausting orgasm in under a minute? Hmmmm.

Think about the emotional connection men and women could have if they could finally be on the same page with their orgasms! Both having fully satisfying sex in under a minute! The possibilities are phenomenal! World peace would finally be possible! No more hunger, no more disease, free ice cubes for everyone!!

But, what would we then do with all that free time?
Probably chores.

Yep, that's why I'm going to keep working on control. Keep reading the tantric sex books. Keep being jealous of the women who can have multiple O's. And keep doing the male kegel exercises.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I hate my SO's SO!!

Once upon a time I had a friend who was poly. Let's call her Ethel.
Ethel had a SO, let's call him Fred.
Fred had an OSO, lets call her Maggie.

Fred and Ethel had a poly relationship in that Ethel was also married to another man. Fred however hadn't had another SO (beside Ethel) for a couple of years so from his perspective his relationship with Ethel was essentially monogamous.
Then along comes Maggie. Fred and Maggie hooked up and started having what Fred believed was a casual relationship. Maggie however spoke to Ethel casually and indicated she was interested in being a part of their Big Poly Family. She wanted to establish a close friendship with Ethel. Ethel however didn't care much for Maggie from day one. They just didn't click well.

Now Fred made a few mistakes when he started dating Maggie. Some generalized rules he had about overnights and other things that he and Ethel had followed in their relationship went by the wayside with Maggie.

Understandably this would be a bit confusing and upsetting to Ethel. Why would Fred implement rules with her but not with Maggie? Rather than communication taking place so Ethel could understand what was happening she developed some resentment. Eventually she came to loathe Maggie, but for no definable reason. Maggie had never done anything to her directly to cause Ethel's hatred.

There are more than a few problems I see here:
-It doesn't sound like Fred had the prerequisite talks with Maggie and maybe they weren't on the same page about their relationship.
-Maggie got a bit overzealous and wanted to quickly insert herself into the Big Poly Family.
-Fred may not have done things properly when he started bending rules for Maggie. By properly, I mean he didn't explain to Ethel why he was bending his rules.
-Ethel overreacted and let her initial feelings of dislike grow and fester into absolute hatred for Maggie.
-And possibly the biggest problem, there was a serious lack of communication between all three of them.

But what I want to focus on here is Ethel's dislike for Maggie. In this situation Ethel ended up making some rules for herself about Maggie such as; Maggie isn't welcome in my house, Maggie can't call Fred when she and Fred are together, things like that. Basically a set of rules to keep Maggie at a distance so Ethel wouldn't have to interact with her. I think those rules are possibly unhealthy to a point and personally I don't think I could conceive them. My concept of Poly is much more family or group oriented so disallowing someone just isn't something I think I could do.

The question here is: What do you do when you dislike your SO’s SO? Stay away from them? How do you support your SO when you don’t like their SO? Can you still have compersion? Would you badmouth the person?

And maybe even more important, what do you expect from your SO in that situation? Do you expect them to quit seeing the person? Be okay with you hating them? What if your SO wants a poly family and your dislike prevents that possibility? Do you expect your SO to change what they want?

Personally I would probably make every effort to accept the person, biting my tongue and turning the other cheek as much as possible. I'm sure I would have some conversations with my SO, and maybe even the OSO to try and make things smoother.

So have you ever been in this situation? If so, what did you do? If not, what do you think you would do if you ended up in this situation?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get even or get real!

Watching a stupid daytime TV show the other day while eating lunch I heard a man say (paraphrased) "Because my wife cheats on her diet, I can cheat on my wife with other women".

Say what????

Forgetting about what he said, it did get me to thinking about some things. I've known people in relationships where when one person cheats the other person feels they then have a 'freebie' owed to them. In other words, they can then cheat as well to make things equal. Interesting concept but not one with which I agree. Two wrongs don't make a right. Right?
But more than that is the idea of leading by example. If your kid spills milk you don't turn around and knock over your cup of coffee to teach him/her a lesson do you? Nope, you have them clean up the mess. You show them how to hold a cup properly. To not overfill the cup. Things like that. Leading by example. I like that one. And that's how I try to live my relationships.
Now, that is an example using cheating. It could apply to poly or mono or other relationship types. But what I'm using it for here is a bridge to a somewhat related concept I've seen in some poly relationships. The idea of equality.
The idea of equality as I've seen it implemented both consciously and sub-consciously is as follows: My SO has an SO so I should have an SO. Or, my SO is dating someone so I NEED to be dating someone too. Gosh, I better go find someone quick and make things even!

Say what????

Why does it need to be even? I'm happy for my loves if they find another love who makes them happy. If at the time I don't have another partner do I wish I did? Very probably. It isn't jealousy, or a need for equality. It is simply knowing the joy they are feeling and wanting to have that same joy for myself. But I'm not going to rush out and grab the first warm body I can find just to 'make it even'.

So what do you think? When your SO has an OSO and you don't, do you feel the need to 'make things even'? What about the opposite? In other words, if you have an OSO and your SO doesn't do you feel guilty or the need to help them find someone?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reactive rules vs. Proactive rules

Yeah, I'm going to talk about rules AGAIN. For some reason I seem to be hearing and reading a lot about rules lately. (That will change soon, promise!).

Something that struck me recently was the difference between a reactive rule and a proactive rule. For example:
Proactive: If you get a new partner you have to keep showing me the attention you always have. Your new relationship can't diminish our existing relationship.
Reactive: You are treating your new partner better than me. You dote on them, giving them presents and treating them special. I want that too, you have to treat me the same!

Although a subtle difference, the proactive rule is really made as more of an understanding so partner(s) can continue to have their needs met despite potential changes in the relationship. It is likely designed to prevent a problem in the future.

The reactive rule is more likely the result of an existing partner feeling something is missing, possibly due to a change in the relationship, and wanting to enforce their needs being met.

Personally I prefer proactive to reactive types of rules or understandings. In my opinion a proactive agreement lets both partners know what they want in a relationship. At the same time both probably realize not meeting that agreement will cause problems in the relationship. A reactive rule feels much more to me like saying "Hey, I want you to modify your behavior". It creates an impression that something wrong was done and corrective action is being taken. Almost like a penalty.

At times I can see the need for either kind of 'rule' but I have also seen how rules can overwhelm relationships. Particularly when one person isn't feeling their needs are being met and starts creating a bunch of rules to have their needs supported. In that scenario I think there is possibly a problem in the relationship that creating a bunch of rules isn't going to solve. Rather than creating rules to make the relationship work maybe it is time to have conversations so that feelings and needs are understood by everyone involved. Maybe it is time to renegotiate the relationship. It is possible one partner's needs aren't being met because they aren't understood. Maybe both partner's needs aren't being met and neither realize it, creating a self-sustaining circle of unhappiness between them.

What do you think? Proactive vs. Reactive rules/expectations/understandings, is there that big a difference? Which do you prefer? Which have you employed in your relationships and how have they worked?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rules: Explicit vs. Assumed

Thanks to a comment here I realized in all my posts about rules there was a piece missing. While re-reading articles to confirm to myself I really had missed something I think I may have come off sounding like someone who enjoys nothing more than making a bunch of rules to regulate my relationships. That really isn't the case which I hope you will see here.

In my poly journey, which included some monogamy, I realized that monogamous (and poly) relationships are often built on assumed rules. For example;
-Once we are married neither of us will sleep with other people. A concept that often morphs over time into "No flirting, kissing, fondling, or even touching someone else!!"
-Our finances will be shared, we will support each other unconditionally.
-Once we have kids the man will provide while the woman stays at home. We ARE having kids, right?!

And on and on and on.
But honestly, are those things well defined prior to the marriage? Or even in long-term relationships?
Of course they are, you might say! We had those conversations before we got married, or before we moved in together.
Great. So you had a talk before you got married. Maybe it was even better than most and went something like: "We are going to have kids after we are married, right?"
"Of course I want kids. I'd love to make babies with you!"

But then 6 months down the road after the marriage the wife says "Ok, lets start trying to have a baby" and the man says "What? I'm not ready for kids yet!"
Uh oh, now we have a problem don't we?
The problem, in my opinion, was that they had a conversation where they each *assumed* they understood something they expected to explicitly happen in their relationship.

This is where I start talking about 'rules' though it may also be a place where my language doesn't explain my feelings very well. Often when I talk about 'rules' around things like communication or sex they are really more expectations or understandings than rules. Rules implies there is a penalty for non-compliance and I don't impose penalties in a relationship. What I'm really trying to accomplish with rules (or rather, expectations/understandings?) is an explicit understanding between myself and my partners rather than assumption.

I'm simply trying to make sure we are on the same page. That we really do agree. That we truly do understand each other. Not to control each other, or so we can penalize each other for not following the rules, but simply so we can avoid misunderstandings like those in my example above.

Does that solve all the problems? Of course not. But in my experience having an explicit understanding with someone avoids a lot of problems vs. when there was only an implicit or assumed understanding. Having an explicit conversation is a very small price to pay for the rewards of a solid, well understood relationship.

Inspiration for this post comes from Kameshwari who generously shared her feelings and in doing so reminded me of some things I had missed. Thank you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

If only they were poly . . . .

This came up the other day in conversation somehow. I think I even posted something about it on my Facebook Wall.

Do you ever watch one of those TV shows with the happy moral ending and think "If only they were poly, they wouldn't have that problem!"
Or maybe you listen to your friends talk about their relationships and bite your tongue until it bleeds thinking "If you were poly that wouldn't be a problem and I wouldn't have to listen to your whining!"

I seem to do that a lot when I hear about other relationships. Sometimes it really would solve a problem. Other times, it really isn't fair. We all know, just being poly doesn't avoid relationship issues. You can still have poor communicators, bad lovers, and for some reason those who can even find a way to break the rules and cheat! And the argument goes the other way, that monogamy doesn't solve all the problems either. I'm not sure there is a relationship design that can't have problems!

Let's get back to TV though.

I personally don't watch much regular television but am addicted to movies. A couple of shows I catch regularly are "Two and a Half Men" and "That 70's show".

For those who haven't seen Two and a Half Men the main character played by Charlie Sheen is a slut. Personally I think the guy is poly and just hasn't figured it out yet. He is constantly bringing home different women, sleeping with them, and doing a poor job of hiding it from everyone else. Doooooood, just tell them you are poly! You ARE poly! Then you wouldn't have to do a bad job of trying to hide it anymore.

That 70's Show has a cast of teenagers with Mila Kunis being one girl on the show who ends up being passed around between three of the guys over the course of several seasons. Yup, they should just try poly.
Then there are the next-door neighbors who have key parties, nudist parties, date other people, and try swinging over the course of several seasons. I'm convinced they have tried poly but didn't mention it. Not quite sure why it didn't work out either, they seem like a good fit for it.

That brings us to the question of the day. . . What poly friendly or themed shows do you know of, even if they don’t openly promote themselves as poly on the show. Poly movies?
And what shows do you regularly watch and find yourself saying "They should be poly!!"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Could they be polyamorous?

Have you ever had that friend who breaks up with one person to go out with someone else? They are miserable before they break up. Happy as hell with the new person for a short period of time, then become miserable again. They then break up with the new person and before you know it, they are back to dating the original person again!!

It is almost as if they want to fool around with someone new but can't unless they are in a relationship with them. And they don't want to completely give up on the first person.

Yes, in a way this is serial monogamy (I'll add this to the Definitions page). But I'm focusing here on the fact that they go back to the same person every time.

Let's forget about labels for a minute and just ponder what is happening. Wouldn't you, as the person being left and returned-to each time, finally realize what was happening and tell your partner "Hey, you are going to come back to me anyway. Instead of us breaking up why don't you just go have fun and come back when you are done." ?

Ok, I know I know. Why would someone wait around for their partner to come back in that situation? Why wouldn't they just say "To hell with you, don't come back!" and be done with them?


Yeah. Forgot about that sneaky little bug didn't ya. Because they are in love with the person who wants to go play with others once in a while!

To be fair, I would tell them to go have fun and come back when they were done. But I wouldn't tell them "I'll be waiting for you". No way. I would say go ahead, have your fun and come back when you are done. But while you are out, I won't be sitting here diddling myself. I'll be out having fun too. Yes, I'll come back when I'm done and we'll still have a relationship. There is no need to move out, divide our stuff, break up or anything like that. We will still sleep together, do fun things together, all that good stuff. But I'm not just going to sit by and wait for you. If we are going to do this, let's do it right.

Out in the open, on the table, honestly.

I'm going to try and remember that the next time I hear about one of my friends having relationship problems. When they say something like "I think Bob is cheating on me" or "I think Bob is thinking about cheating on me". My response will be, "He can only cheat if cheating is possible. Redefine your relationship so he is free to see other people, then he won't need to cheat."

What will you do?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Poly-activist or poly-anarchist?

Being around poly-folk on a fairly regular basis, reading about polyamory, having conversations and debates I've noticed a good portion of people who believe quite strongly in polyamory often (not everyone) fall into a couple of categories:

Poly-activist or poly-advocate.
Someone who is a vocal proponent of the Polyamory lifestyle and firmly extols the virtues of the lifestyle. These types of people don't however believe Polyamory is the only lifestyle. They are tolerant of other choices and respect that Polyamory may not work for everyone. They don't try to convince people to become poly, or try to change their minds about poly. They simply defend their own choices and answer questions politely when asked. These are the advocates for a poly lifestyle.

This is someone who is vehement in their polyamorous beliefs. Given any opportunity they will lecture those around them, extolling the virtues of poly. They are happy to explain how the poly lifestyle is better than monogamy in every aspect. For some, it almost seems poly is a religion and it is their goal to convert as many non-believers as possible. For them, there is no other way. These are the people who believe the herd is ignorant and has to be shown the way, by force if necessary.

Of course, just by giving these two definitions at the same time many other debates are opened such as;
Is it okay to try and convert someone? Should a poly date a non-poly in the hopes the non-poly will see the light? Shouldn't we fight for polyamory in any way possible? Isn't it our right to not be discriminated against?
But those are topics for other articles.

While I'm thinking about it I'll add those two definitions to the Definitions page on this site.

Back on topic. . .Although I enjoy a good fight (ok, I really mean *debate*), I really am more activist than anarchist. I enjoy educating people who have misconceptions as much as I enjoy learning about the relationship paradigms people have, particularly those I haven't heard of before. Even so, I find myself being an anarchist at times. Particularly when someone who is a monogamy-anarchist becomes determined to 'save me from polyamory'. It is then that I have to take a step back and ask myself whom I would rather be, anarchist or advocate.

Don't get me wrong, I think each has their place though I'm not as fond of the anarchist myself. I think poly has a lot to do with love. And expressing your feelings in a loving way is like leading by example whereas leading by a nose-ring and leash is more like conquering (Or BDSM but again, that's another conversation).

Which do you think you are; activist or anarchist? Or like me sometimes, are you both? Do you think they each have a place or are one or the other useless? Or am I seeing things that don't even exist?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Polyamory? by Franklin Veaux

This is a nice site with some good information on Polyamory written with an easy to read style.

Polyamory? by Franklin Veaux

Franklin tackles some of the common questions about Polyamory, misconceptions, issues, and even provides some advice.
Though not perfect, most of the information if very good and I highly recommend checking it out. Good site for poly-curious as well as experienced poly's.

The title for this post is an active link to Franklin's site. Click and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Have the rules worked?

In the last couple of articles I talked about rules others have, and rules I like to have, in relationships. In this follow-up I'll talk about rules I have had in past relationships and how they worked out.

Rule: Physical interaction (sex) with anyone else must be reported to each other as soon as possible.
We both had other partners during this relationship which was pretty open so this rule was really more about being sexually safe than anything else.

Rule: Dates or events we identify as 'dates' are attended with each other only. No playing with others, including our other partners that might be at the same event. In other words, we are there together on a date so we should be attentive and respectful to each other with that in mind.
This was a rule my SO proposed. After a few hiccups around this one I found the real reason for the rule was that she was afraid of going to an event only to find that at the end of the evening she would be going home alone. Once we modified the rule to ensure the understanding that I would be going home with her at the end of the night when we were on a 'date' together things went much more smoothly and we were both able to enjoy our freedom at events.

Both of the following rules were in the same relationship, the first made by me and the second by my SO. We had made these rules specifically to avoid the jealousy issues we were both feeling and both agreed to work on the feelings in an effort to overcome them. It wasn't long before the rules became flexible and eventually were removed completely.
Rule: OPP - One Penis Policy. My SO was free to enjoy other women and men but intercourse with men, particularly in front of me, was discouraged.
Rule: No oral. I was allowed to enjoy other men or women but giving oral sex to another woman was discouraged, specifically in front of my SO.
I don’t particularly like either of those rules and tend to avoid getting involved with people who indicate they may want those kinds of restrictive rules. This relationship however had been going on quite a while and was well developed before an internal change to the relationship started causing us both to have some jealousy issues. In this case I felt the rules were justified because 1) they were intended to be temporary and 2) they were being used to save an existing relationship, not establish a new relationship.

I'm sure not everyone will agree with rules I've lived with or applied. Just as I won't agree with the rules everyone else has or might have. But what I do believe is that everyone has their rules for a reason. If those rules support their needs and are acceptable to everyone involved in a relationship then for them they are the right rules.

Of course these aren't all the rules I've ever had in relationships; I don't have the room here to put them all down in text! But they give you an idea of where I've been and what I've done.

So what rules have you had, and how have they worked? Are there rules you avoid? Rules you insist upon? Relationship specifics and names aren’t needed if you aren’t comfortable giving them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poly Socialization or How Little is Your Big World?

One thing I've learned about being Poly is that I truly enjoy discussing the lifestyle with others. I like the perspectives others have, learning new terminology, hearing about their successes and failures. To support that I try to stay active in the community.

Now, I'm not an 'activist' by any means. I try to be somewhat active by seeking out groups, both formal and informal, and reading or writing on the web (obviously), and maintaining a diverse social circle. I could do more but I'm not much of a driver, I'm more of a passenger. At least for now. My point being I don't cast a huge social net but rather smaller nets in different locations with the hope I will find diversity.

Instead of diversity though I am often reminded how small the world can be and how disturbingly incestuous the poly community is sometimes. Are there really that few poly people out there that I already know them all? I find that hard to believe.
Yet I am shown otherwise.

Recently I attended a poly event I hadn't been to before, after being invited by people I didn't know well. I thought, "What a perfect opportunity to meet new people!" I didn't know the people well who invited me and hadn't seen them much in my social circle so I shouldn't know many people at the event. And since the event has been in existence for a couple of years and I hadn't heard of it before it could be an opportunity to open up a whole new social circle. Wrong! Well, not quite.

The new friends who invited me were there and I enjoyed getting to know them better. Then there were people I knew from other functions who were there. And then people I didn't know but after talking to them found out they were SO's, ex-SO's, or had some connection somehow to someone else I know.

Of course, being me I made mention of how incestuous some poly groups seem to be which caused a flurry of activity in my immediate area. Mostly in the form of agreement but how *this* group is different. Followed promptly by the requisite landscape mapping of the crowd in the room to explain all the interconnected relationships. I.E. Bob's dating Mary who is dating Fred who is married to Jenny who is dating Bob (the same Bob) who used to date Sally which is Fred's ex-wife who decided she was a lesbian and dated Jenny for a while and OMG MY HEAD IS SPINNING MAKE IT STOP!! Wait, wasn't *this* group different?

My big poly world had suddenly gotten quite a bit smaller. Interestingly, this group consisted of two poly social groups from different geographic areas that apparently hadn't gotten along in the past and had formed a sort of informal truce. (I didn't want to know more than that). But it was explained to me one group was quite physically focused while the other was socially focused. Knowing who was from which group it was entertaining to watch the groups collide but get along well. It was also interesting to see those from the social group being more physical and those from the physical group being more social. It appears this is a group where people can be someone they often aren't in other groups!

So how big is your little poly world? Do you feel it is so small as to be incestuous at times or is it so big you have an unlimited people pool in which to cast your nets?
And how are you involved in your poly community? Or, are you involved? Are you a driver, or a passenger?

I'm constantly amazed when talking with other poly's how the same resources surface over and over. The same web sites, the same groups, the same people. That is a big reason I decided to start writing here. I wanted to provide another resource in this tiny poly world and make it a bit bigger. So come on, talk back to me. Though it may seem contradictory to say this blog isn't about me, I don't want it to be about me. My hope is this blog will become an interactive resource for people, directed by the people.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My poly rules.

Maybe this should be titled "My relationship rules" ?

In my last article I talked about some of the rules I've seen in poly relationships. Here I will talk a bit about the rules I like to have in my relationships. And in a follow-up article I will discuss the rules my relationships have had in the past and how they have worked out.

Being a somewhat logical and anal-retentive person I don't mind rules and in fact enjoy them in some situations. But my belief in the freedom of polyamory is a bit contrary to my fondness for structure. For that reason I really try to minimize the rules I require in a relationship.

Currently the rules I feel I need in a relationship are:
*Honesty. (This is a theme you will hear from me often). This is the first rule I mention because it is the most important to me. I need honesty from every aspect of my relationships and give honesty back at all times.
*Openness. I want to know if something is bugging my partner, and I like to get their advice about things happening in my life and our relationship.
*Respect. With honesty and openness comes the need for respectful conversations. I won't tolerate name calling, yelling, throwing things, etc. (Even polys have fights, right?). We can't solve problems if we aren't communicating like adults so I'll ask that we have the conversation later, when we are calm, if it starts getting ugly.
*Compromise. We will each need to compromise at times. I don't insist someone compromise all the time on everything but I do expect them to be open to compromise. If it becomes apparent someone is unwilling to compromise the relationship will probably end soon.
*Forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes and relationships are no exception. I know my partners will make some, and so will I. Rather than dwelling on them, lets work it out and move on.

Well, that's it. I don't think that is a big list of rules and although a lot of folks feel those things are assumed in a relationship, I never do. I make them very clear up front during initial conversations I have with a new potential love.

A lot of people, after hearing my rules, are surprised and ask if I have rules about sex, other partners, etc. That's where I talk about the concept of Choices.
I believe rather than rules people should have choices. For example: If my love has sex with someone who I feel is sexually unsafe (exposure to STD's or has an STD for example), then I may choose to not have sex with them again until they are tested. And if they have an ongoing relationship with someone I believe is unsafe then my physical relationship with them will probably end. Of course in the spirit of Openness and Compromise I would be willing to discuss why I think the person is unsafe and allow that my opinion could be changed.
But what I'm not doing here, that I find a lot of people do, is make a rule or try to forbid my love from sleeping with that other person. I would rather they follow their heart and do whatever it is that makes them happy. I would never forbid my love another partner, or limit what they could do with that other partner. I would only let them know that their choices may cause me to make choices. And as much as possible I will let them know ahead of time what choices I may have to make. Although some may look at that as giving my partner an ultimatum or trying to intimidate their decision making, that is honestly not my intent and it is not presented that way in conversations. I truly want them to make their own choices, but I also want them to be aware of the results. Usually if I am contemplating a new love or change in my life I will ask my loves to try and tell me what effect it may have on them and if it will force them to make choices for themselves.
In my experience so far, this approach allows everyone in a relationship to feel they have control over the relationship direction while at the same time enjoying the freedom to do as they wish.

So what do you think of the Choices concept? Yes? No? Or maybe there need to be other rules anyway? What works for you?
Speak up, let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Polyamorous people have rules?

An interesting conversation I have with folks sometimes goes like this . . . .

Them: Oh wow, you are poly. So, you like sleep with anyone you want, right?

Me: Not exactly, though I'm free to follow my heart when it comes to loving other people.

Them: So like, your girlfriend can sleep with other people?

Me: Sure, if that's what she wants to do. Depending on who it is.

Them: That's cool. Wait. Depending on who it is? What do you mean?

Me: Well, there are some people who may be off-limits. We do have some rules you know.

Them: Rules? I thought you just slept with whoever you wanted? What do you mean you have rules?

Me: --Starts thumping head on table--.

Yes, surprising as it may seem many poly's do have rules. I've seen rules around the type of people that can be dated, rules about how to act in certain situations (play parties, rituals, etc.), and even rules about specific sexual acts that can or cannot be performed. I've heard rules about communication, respect, time, and even rules that support equality. Maybe more unusual is finding a poly who doesn't have any rules!

Some rules are fairly common. . .
*No cheating! If you sleep with someone, don't hide it. And don't lie about it.
*Tell me as soon as possible when you start liking someone, or have slept with someone. (See previous rule).
*Meeting rules. Such as; I have to meet someone before you sleep with them or start a relationship.
*OPP - One Penis Policy. Usually means a woman can only have sex with one guy, usually the one making the OPP rule.
*OPP - One Pussy Policy. Yes, you can only own one cat at a time! Haha, just kidding. Usually means a man can only have sex with one woman, usually the one making the OPP rule.
*Anything but intercourse rule. This can apply to either a male or female and is hopefully self-explanatory.
*Check with me first rule. I'll let you have sex with anyone you want as long as you check with me first. Oh, when you check with me first, I might say No.

Those are just a few of the common rules. I've even seen some strange ones like. . .
*Anal only policy. Which means, you can't have vaginal intercourse but you can have anal intercourse with whomever you want.
*Fair sex policy. If you have sex with your girlfriend when you get home you have to have sex with me too.

So what kind of rules have you had in your relationships in the past? What kind of rules do you see using in the future. Or, if you don't believe in rules, why or why not and, how has that worked out for you?

I'll discuss rules more in future articles, including rules I've tried and how they have worked out.
I'm trying to keep articles short and hope that comments from readers will actually direct the topics going forward.
So come on, chime in and let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My definition of Poly. . .

For me, defining Poly means defining a relationship.

I believe:

-Each and every relationship I have is independent and should be defined independently of other relationships. Maybe I have one relationship that is very physically and emotionally involved, we spend a lot of time together, and are working toward a deeper commitment. Another relationship may have a very strong emotional aspect and a very small physical aspect, we spend much less time together, and have no desire to move the relationship to a level that has deep commitment.
Note: At some point I'm sure to talk about 'rules' but let me make a note here that this concept of independent relationships applies to the 'rules' in my relationships as well. I have very few 'rules' I insist upon for myself but often the relationships I have will include rules. They are not the same in each relationship but are instead defined within each relationship.

-My relationships may overlap and in fact, I hope they will. But it is never required that any of my loves are more than social acquaintances with each other. Nor is any kind of physical interaction ever required. (Sorry to disappoint those of you who thought being Poly meant lots of threesomes and orgies).

-Honesty. Always in all ways. I like to know about anything my loves are thinking or worrying about before it becomes a big problem. I am very clear from the beginning of a relationship that I can't live with dishonesty and will likely end the relationship if I find there has been dishonesty.

-Communication is extremely important. Again, this is something that I bring up at the beginning of a relationship as a requirement. I welcome any conversation and I also let potential loves know that any topic they need to discuss I will respond to in an adult matter, without judgment. And of course, I refer them to my needs regarding honesty.

-I firmly believe that everyone should have choices. Sooner or later in a relationship there will probably be a difference of opinion. Rather than try to fight with someone to change their mind I prefer to let them know how I may have to react to their choice, thereby letting them know how it may effect me. For example, if one of my loves tells me they are going to quit their job and move to another country. My response would be that I love them and I want them to do what is right for them. At the same time, what is right for me is not having long distance relationships. Should they move I will still love them, and miss them but, I wouldn't be able to continue the relationship in the same manner.

-And probably the biggest ideal I have about Polyamory is the freedom to explore relationships. Fundamentally, Poly for me is about having the freedom to entertain the possibility of a relationship with whomever I choose, whenever I choose. (No, sorry, this doesn't mean having sex with whomever, whenever). It is about not having to ask permission, seek approval, or be worried about reprisals from my existing loves. It is being able to explore different paths in life without doubting I will have support from the ones I love. That doesn't mean I don't consider my existing relationships when I encounter a new interest, only that my existing loves will know I did consider them and made the best choice I could. And they will realize I may make mistakes, as I realize they might as well.

P.S. This is one post I can see being changed or updated over time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How do you define Polyamory?

A lot of articles I read, and people I speak with, communicate Poly as being a concept (or even a hard set of rules) to which they believe their lifestyle must conform within reason. Things such as “Poly is loving more than one person. There’s no such thing as a single poly.” Or, “Being Poly means I can love whomever I want, whenever I want and if anyone tries to restrict that I don’t date them”. Interestingly when the person making the last statement is pressed for more definition it often seems that saying “. . . love whomever I want. . .” equates to having sex. I’ve also heard more than one person state that being Poly is the equivalent to having Open Relationships.

I’m constantly amazed how many people will give a definition of Poly that relies on the concept of Love and often excludes sex specifically. Yet when asked to define their relationship concepts with respect to Poly, rules or ideals about sex often top the list. Almost as if the concept of Polyamory is well understood but implementation is sexually focused. I’m not saying that is wrong, just a bit surprising to me.

My belief is that Polyamory is about defining a relationship based on the idea of multiple loves. With that in mind, anything goes for a definition. You can have a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” type relationship where nobody talks about their ‘other’ relationships. Maybe it means your other relationships are purely physical rather than involving an emotional component. Or it could be you use terms such as Primary, Secondary, OSO (Other Significant Other) and base your relationships on traditional definitions of those terms. Or maybe, your relationships are none of the above. Although though several of those concepts aren't something I use with my relationships I can respect them if they are based on multiple loves.

I've even heard folks who live primarily in the Swing community define their lifestyle as polyamorous. Most of those definitions focus on the sexual aspect rather than the emotional. Again, I'm not saying that is wrong but it is a bit surprising and I've come to believe that Poly and Swing lifestyles often overlap.

In summary, there are a lot of different flavors of Polyamory. As the joke goes, ask 10 poly's their definition and you will get 10 different answers.

So what is your definition, idea, vision, or dream of Polyamory? No right or wrong answers here, and no judgment. I would love to hear a new poly configuration I've never heard of before so come on and share!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Poly what?

Poly what?
Yep, that’s what I’m going to write about here.
This being my first post I should probably introduce myself.

Poly started for me when I was about 15 yrs old and found myself on a date with 6 girls. Although it was a bit of an accident I didn’t really feel I had done anything wrong. I cared about each of the girls and had different relationships with each of them. Some of them felt as I did and things were okay. Some were understandably upset since, being raised monogamously, I didn’t quite do things right. (I learned a lot about honesty in relationships from this.) And some of them wanted to redefine our relationship afterwards, again understandably.

Through High School I explored different relationship types. Open relationships, monogamy, and even the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell relationship model. Like most everyone else, some worked and some didn’t. One common theme I noticed however was that it was rare for my relationships to end with anger or without a remaining friendship.

After High School as my friends were all getting married and having babies I tried to fit into the monogamy mold. I married monogamously and had two wonderful children. For over 10 years I struggled to fit into the expectations society places on a monogamous marriage. Though the marriage eventually failed it was due more too personal differences than my interest in a different lifestyle.

The result was that I took a look at my life, my desires, and my beliefs and realized I wasn’t living my life true to myself. I evaluated the type of relationships I had been having and what had gone wrong with them. That was when I found that not only was there a word for the type of relationships I had always believed could exist and had experienced, but there were people happily living them all over the world. I realized I was polyamorous and always had been.

Years later I’ve had many poly relationships of different varieties that I consider successful. Successful because they each ended with maturity and the knowledge that either our ideas of relationships didn’t fit together or we had grown as much as we could together and could only grow more without each other.

As of this writing I’m very much enjoying exploring a relationship with a loving woman who is new to the poly world. We are taking things slowly and though we have both explored other relationships since we have been together, there have been none that truly fit the life we envision. But neither of us is in a hurry and we are happy to take the time to make sure any new relationships will be a fit with our long-term goals.

What I will be writing about here are the things I’ve learned about relationships, the mistakes I have made, and both the joys and failures of the future. Sometimes I may stray and write about things that really don’t have much to do with polyamory. And as I can I will explore other relationship styles in addition to polyamory.

I hope you find my writings enjoyable, and I hope you will join me in discussion. In no way do I want to lecture anyone, I would much prefer a dialogue where we all learn from one another. I will be wrong sometimes, and you will be wrong sometimes. And sometimes, nobody will be wrong and we will all still learn. I hope you come back and are as interested in relationship discussions as I am.