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Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm so jealous of you!

The other night I had the opportunity to have some interesting conversation with a small group of poly folks about general poly topics. The group consisted of a couple in a long term poly relationship and a couple of others whose status I don't know.

One person made a comment that I found interesting which I'll paraphrase here: Jealousy is a bad thing. Poly's strive to overcome jealousy so they don't experience it anymore. The ultimate goal is to never again have jealousy or to be able to say "I don't do jealousy".

When questioned about the reason for such a statement the person further stated, "Jealousy just isn't healthy."

As you might imagine that generated quite a lively conversation with some of the following arguments:

-Jealousy is a healthy thing. It is a normal human emotion and to try and just not have it anymore wouldn't be healthy.
-Jealousy can be a good tool. It lets us know that we care for someone, maybe more than we know, and that our needs maybe aren't being met. The result can be healthy as well if it prompts open discussion between partners about reasons for jealousy and how they can help each other overcome jealousy.
-Ownership jealousy, such as being jealous when your partner is physically with someone else, often is just a symptom of something else. Fear of loss or rejection, or one's own insecurities for example. Understanding and working on the actual root of the issue will often eliminate the feelings of jealousy.

One point of agreement within the group was that jealousy, for any reason, which begins to dictate control over another person, or the relationship, is not healthy.

Personally I experience jealousy and don't feel it is always a bad thing. Something I've realized is that I have different types and levels of jealousy depending on my partner. That isn't a way to assign blame or avoid ownership of my emotions but it has proven to me that jealousy, although a feeling experienced by one person, involves both people and requires both of them to consciously work at either avoiding or overcoming the feelings.

Whenever possible I try to embrace any feelings of jealousy I have and use them as a learning experience. I try to understand their cause and immediately upon noticing the feelings communicate with my partner. When communicating I try to be clear that I'm not assigning blame or criticizing their actions. Only that I want them to be aware of how I am feeling and to work with me to understand the feelings. Note that I don't say I want to work toward eliminating the feelings. I truly believe jealousy is okay at times. And often a better emotion than anger, resentment, envy or a host of other uglier alternatives. I have even been in relationships where we have made rules supporting jealousy as a way to temporarily provide relief for the person experiencing the jealousy while they try to understand their cause.

As many different types and causes of jealousy that exist, so do the number of possible solutions or methods of dealing with jealousy.

How do you deal with jealousy? Is it something you don't experience at all? Do you believe it to be healthy? Unhealthy?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A great body equals great sex?

Which would you rather have, a great body or great sex?

This was a street survey question posed on the daytime show Better. (Don't ask why I was watching the show, I'm still not sure).
Anyway, I found the answers quite interesting. Though obviously not a scientific or even reliable survey the majority of those who answered said that they would want a great body because it would lead to great sex.

Seriously. Regardless of gender the responders indicated a great body would lead to great sex.

I had to state that twice because while watching the show I did a double-take. These people were actually serious! Which really made me wonder how these people qualify sex as 'great'. Their logic, from some comments made, was that if they had a great body they would attract a sexual partner who also had a great body. The result would be great sex.

Not to toot my horn but I have been with women considered by both myself and others as beautiful. Not that I am a great looking guy by any means, I consider myself completely average which may actually be an embellishment! In my experience beauty has absolutely no relationship to the quality of sex. Some of those beautiful women were awful in bed. Then again, I've had awesome sex with women of average beauty.

Now don't get me wrong. All things being equal obviously I'd like my partner to have a great body. A nice body is a good turn-on, fun to gaze upon, and enjoyable to the touch. But that still doesn't make for great sex. That really made me wonder if people are so superficial that if their partner has a great body it is enough to help them overlook poor sexual quality.

My next thought was how I would answer the question. Putting it in terms of absolutes, if I had a great body I could never have great sex. And if I had great sex I could never have a great body. Really, that wasn't the question. But it did help me to find my own answer.

Would having great sex preclude me from having a great body? No.
Likewise would having a great body preclude me from having great sex? No.

Which resulted in this logic. . . If I have a great body I may still have to search for great sex. And searching for great sex can be quite difficult. If I have great sex but a not so good body, I will have to work on making my body better.
At that point the answer for me was easy, I want the great sex.
Here's why; I have a certain amount of control over my own body. I can change how I eat, exercise, bathe, dress, groom, etc. My body is always with me and I know where to find it. Great sex on the other hand is not something I have a lot of control over. I could search for a long time to find a partner with whom I have great sex, or even a partner interested in achieving great sex with me. I also think having great sex does a lot for a person physically and emotionally which would help them achieve a great body should they desire to have one.

So which would you prefer? A great body or great sex? Don't just answer the question though. Give us a bit of the logic behind your answer so we know why you chose as you did.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poly night at the Swing club!!

So here I am, merrily skipping down the poly path of life, hanging out with my friends Rickie and Lucy the other night. Rickie and Lucy are a poly couple I know and enjoy socializing with once in a while. Their poly relationship has been handled differently than I usually handle mine which is one reason I enjoy talking with them.
As usually happens, someone says something that gets the wheels in my brain spinning. This time it was Rickie saying "Yeah, we are going to head out to the swing club tomorrow night. Wanna go?"
Remember, I'm the guy who blurts out what is on his mind without thinking so appropriately my response was something like "Why would I want to go to a swing club? I'm not a swinger."

The conversation that followed (which I won't repeat word for word) basically went down the following road; Rickie believes that when poly's want sex and can't find other poly's to play with, finding a couple of swingers is a good substitute.

Now, don't take that the wrong way. Neither of us believes swing is a subordinate lifestyle to polyamory. We both respect Swing as a lifestyle and respect those who choose it.

Here is the real difference between myself and Rickie; I tend to believe that love is somewhat closely related to sex. That's to say, I need to have an emotional connection to have sex. Whereas Rickie believes love is an emotional component separate from sex. That's to say, Sex is just sex, whether there is an emotional component or not doesn't matter much. (At least with playmates).
Hence his reasoning that since he and Lucy are poly and able to have sex with others then swingers are viable sexual partners.

Now admittedly Swinging and Polyamory seem to overlap at times and the lines become blurry. Of course that is my opinion. There are plenty of folks out there who believe the two should never meet and if they do there will be sparks and an explosion of epic proportions which will cause the Earth to cease rotation. There are also those who believe the two are so similar that the terms "Swing" and "Poly" are interchangeable and use either to identify themselves. I tend to believe that people define their own relationship and lifestyle paradigms so whatever they do, it is their choice. And that's okay.

Where it does cause confusion though is when trying to relate to other people. Having my poly friend Rickie tell me he is going to a swing club with the express intent of finding a "playmate" causes me to question his categorization in my mind as "poly". At which point it becomes more difficult for me to relate to his lifestyle.

I've noticed Rickie also has difficulty relating to me at times. Particularly during the above conversation when he says something like "Don't you want to get laid?" and I respond something like "Hell yes I want to get laid. But not with some stranger!". To which he will reply, "It is only sex." and my response is "Exactly, that's only sex." Which results in us both having perplexed looks on our faces.

I really don't have a problem with having sex just to have sex. Been there, done that. I just don't prefer it and the older I get, the more unsafe it seems on several levels.

So where are you at with Poly vs. Swing? Are they oil and water, never to meet and mingle? Or is one ice cream and the other syrup, a good compliment to one another?
Are you able to exist happily in either lifestyle?
Have you in the past identified as either Swing or Poly and "converted" to the other? How did that go? Any regrets?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Date communication.

Once upon a time I had this friend. . . .

No really.
Once upon a time I had this friend who was poly. (Surprise huh?). She had a male SO who would call her every night right before he went to bed. One day he starts dating someone else and before long the nightly goodnight phone calls became intermittent.
My friend was extremely upset by this, which I actually understood. Being a creature of habit and predictability myself I could understand how it would be upsetting if a routine with one of my loves was broken. Particularly when it was unintentional. But in this case I also understood why the routine was broken and know it was somewhat inevitable. And I stated as much to my friend.

To my surprise her response was, "We had that routine before SHE came along! It isn't fair SHE is changing it! HER relationship with Rickie (name changed) shouldn't have any effect on MY relationship with him!"

To which I replied, "But, he is spending time with her. Maybe they are in bed together. You expect him to interrupt that and call you to say goodnight?" Her response involved more than a few expletives and didn't really add much to what was already mentioned so I'll not try to paraphrase it again here.

It did create an interesting quandary in my mind. As mentioned, I could somewhat understand her feelings. At the same time I have a hard time imagining my SO laying in bed with her OSO and saying "Hold on, I have to make my goodnight call." I wouldn't dream of expecting such a thing.

But it made me think, why not? We are poly, open, and my SO's OSO will know about me. I would know they were spending time together and were possibly in bed or spending the night together. So is there any reason they couldn't pick up the phone and wish me goodnight? Not really.

In trying to understand the problem I tried to put myself on the other side of the equation. Were I spending time with my OSO would I interrupt that time to call my SO and say goodnight? I didn't really come up with a solid answer. I think it would depend on the situation. If my OSO and I weren't really doing anything, then I would make the call. But if we were watching a movie together, snuggling, talking, or "other things" my phone would remain untouched. And if my OSO told me they had a problem with me interrupting our time together so I could call my SO I definitely wouldn't be picking up the phone. Of course, I wouldn't just stop calling, I would have a conversation with my SO and explain why I wouldn't be calling.

I haven't personally had this problem before and although the paragraph above sounds good I'm not sure how I would proceed if my SO insisted on a phone call every night despite my OSO's feelings.

So tell me what you think!

-What would you do if your SO insisted on a phone call and your OSO wasn't happy about it?

-What are your rules (soft or hard) about communication while your SO is on a date? Out with friends? Other?

-Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do about it?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Accidental monogamy?

As usual, it was a conversation with someone that got my brain to working. It went something like this. . .

Them: "So do you have a girlfriend"
"Yep, but I’m poly"
"You're what?"
"Polyamorous. As in someone who has multiple loves."
"So you have more than one girlfriend?"
"Nope, just one right now. But I could have more."
"Well you aren't poly then! You are monogamous! Duh!"

At which point my brain said "You are accidentally monogamous!"
Being someone with a tendency to blurt things, of course that was what I said. The result was more of a Twilight Zone conversation than I could put down here, so I won't.

But the whole "Accidental Monogamist" idea really stuck in my head for a while. Over the years I've even heard a few related comments like "There is no such thing as a single poly!" or "How can you be single and be poly?" or my favorite "You are poly and you are single? What the hell is wrong with you? You can sleep with anyone you want!"

But I think there is another kind of accidental monogamy when you are a polyamorist. It is that thing that happens when you and your SO end up with only one another for a while. It isn't by design, it just happens. Before you know it though, you are essentially monogamous. You plan all your time together and aren't even really looking for OSO's any longer. And when one day one of you does find a new OSO, you realize feelings of jealousy or ownership. Suddenly, poly isn't looking so attractive anymore.
You have become an Accidental Monogamist.

Most likely things will be okay after some struggling with emotions. It isn't like you hadn't been there before, right?

So my questions of the day are. . . .

-Is it possible to be a single poly? Personally I don't see anything wrong with being a single poly so I not only believe it is possible, I think sometimes it is preferable.

-If you call yourself poly but aren't dating anyone, are you still poly? I think so since it is a feeling or state of mind. That would be like saying "I am male." but since nobody is looking down my pants, maybe I'm not?

-Have you ever ended up accidentally monogamous? Is that a bad thing? How did you shift back to poly after accidental monogamy, or did it just come naturally?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do what you say, say what you mean.

Remember these lyrics from The Fixx?
(One Thing Leads to Another)

Why don't they
Do what you say, say what you mean
oh, baby
One thing leads to another
You told me something wrong,
I know I listen too long but then
One thing leads to another

I know in the past I've talked quite a bit about rules but this really isn't about rules at all. It is about feelings and trust.
In our lives every day we take people at their word. The person in the coffee shop or restaurant making a recommendation. Someone saying something as simple as "I'll call you later". Even recognizing the flashing turn indicator on another car implies a level of trust. Okay, maybe expectation on that last one. But even then, doesn't the expectation include a level of trust?

What I'm focusing on today is the level of implied trust you have with an SO. The trust and understanding that is built up over time. More importantly, how is that trust maintained or how easily might it be eroded.

For example:
-Your SO says "I don't really like Rickie much." But the next thing you know they head out to the bar to hang out with Rickie for several hours.
Or. . .
-Your SO says "I am really not much of a drinker." Then they go out and get ripped with some friends.
Or. . .
-Your SO says "I like Lucy but I would never sleep with her." But then they do.

Note: I'm not talking about lying here. I'm not talking about the person who purposely misleads. I'm talking about people who make valid statements at the time they are made but change their minds later. Or maybe they make a much stronger statement initially than they meant to make. Either way, for the purposes of this article, I'm not talking about people purposely lying or being deceitful.

Obviously these aren't rules, they are your SO's feelings. And of course, they are able to change how they feel. There are also exceptions, such as the usually light social drinker tying one on some night. Most likely your SO saying one thing and doing something else once in a while isn't a big deal. We have all seen the person with the left turn blinker on who makes a right turn instead.

But what happens when saying one thing and doing another becomes more frequent than just once in a while? Do you start losing trust in the person or do you just begin to take what they say with a grain of salt? Do you get angry or upset? How does it affect your relationship?

I think when someone makes a statement such as "I like Lucy but wouldn't sleep with her" they are creating an expectation. Maybe I have a concern about them sleeping with Lucy but after their statement I keep my opinion to myself. It isn't necessary for me to speak up because they have already eliminated my concern, right? But then what happens when they do sleep with Lucy? Suddenly my concern is not only alive again, the chance to avoid or address my concern ahead of time is gone. Possibly my concern is trivial, but it is also possible it is enormous. Maybe Lucy has an STD my SO didn't know about. Maybe she is married and my SO didn't know.

In the past when I've been in a relationship and realized the other person isn't doing what they say to the point it starts to erode my trust I try and have a conversation with them about dependability. I need to know what they say is what they mean, and they will do what they say. It isn't that I don't want them hanging out with Rickie, getting ripped with friends, or boffing Lucy. It is that I want the opportunity to speak up, ahead of time if possible, when I have a concern. It isn't that I want to pin them down on every little thing, or feel justified in punishing them if they don’t do what they say. I simply want the ability to accept what they say without second guessing their words.

Another thing I will do is take some ownership. When they say "I like Lucy but wouldn't sleep with her" instead of keeping my mouth shut about my concerns I will voice them anyway. At least that way if my SO changes their mind and does sleep with Lucy they were fully aware of my concerns ahead of time.

So what do you think? When your SO makes a general statement like those mentioned have they created an implied expectation? Is it a big deal if they change their mind and never let you know? Do you let it slide once in a while but not if it happens frequently?

Monday, April 12, 2010

What language was that?

Remember the days of Bill Clinton when we were expected to believe that Bill's definition of 'sex' didn't include the oral type his intern performed upon him? Do you also remember the pundits on TV bickering over the definition of sex after that fiasco?

Though I personally believe most any description of an act with the word Sex in it (such as Oral Sex), is indeed a sexual act and the pundit discussions were ridiculous, I have to respect them to a point. What they were really discussing was how the definitions of words can mean different things to different people, regardless of what Webster's or Wikipedia might say.

As poly people having discussions and defining relationships I think that point is even more pertinent.

For example; "Hey honey, I'm going to the Play Room to fool around with Lucy for a while."
Does that mean they are going to kiss and snuzzle a bit?
Does it mean they are going to feel each other up but not have sex?
Or does it mean they are going to have full-blown porno sex for the next hour?

At this point we don't really know what it means, do we?

Or how about this one. . .A couple talking before a party about engaging with other people at the party agree to give each other a 'sign' before engaging with anyone else.
Sounds like a great agreement right?
Maybe. Except one person thought 'sign' meant 'Talk to me first!' and the other person thought it meant 'Just get my attention so I don't wonder where you went'.

Now you can see where we have a situation as follows: Fred and Ethel go to the party together with their 'Give me a sign' agreement. Fred and Lucy start flirting. Fred catches Ethel's eye from across the room, gives a nod in Lucy's direction along with a wink, and merrily heads off to the Play Room with Lucy to. . . . . . ????

To what? We don't have a clue do we? Well, neither does Ethel really. And at the same time Fred thinks he has been a good poly boy and followed the rules wonderfully.

We all know what happens next right? On the way home from the party Ethel explodes at Fred asking why he didn't talk to her. Fred, confused, says he did give her a 'sign' before he went off and shagged Lucy. At which point Ethel explodes again saying "I thought you were just going to fool around, not have sex!!" Fred, scared for his life now as he should be, doesn't have a clue what just happened.

And honestly, neither does Ethel. They will probably argue for hours and possibly never figure out what went wrong.

Assumptions. That's what went wrong.
They each assumed a common word, term, or concept that they were discussing was explicitly understood by the other person. In actuality, they had somewhat differing understandings.

I actually learned this from an experience much like the example above. During the resulting discussion my partner made a passing remark about one of the terms we had used in defining our rules that didn't fit my understanding of the term at all. Hardly two or three sentences later and we both knew exactly what had happened. From then on I have tried to always ask for definitions of words upon which understandings are based. And to this day I am amazed at how many misunderstandings are avoided so simply.

Don't believe me? The next time you hear someone casually mention 'Sex', ask them to define what they mean by the word 'Sex'. I bet you will be surprised by at least one thing they say. And if you are in a group, ask the group if they all agree with the definition that first person gives. I virtually guarantee you will be surprised by their responses.

Having conversations about boundaries, rules, expectations, needs, etc. is all very well and good. But if you and the person you are having the conversation with are speaking different languages it will all be meaningless in the end.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Screening new loves?

So here you are, happily traveling down the poly road in life. You have an SO with an open relationship and there aren't many rules. One day you are at a party or other gathering and you see some sweet young thing that catches your eye. You pop on over, introduce yourself, and start having a conversation. Things go well and there seems to be some chemistry between you. You start to think that maybe there is a possibility of some type of relationship with this person.

So what now? Obviously there are the initial questions you might be asking yourself like, is their body language indicating interest beyond friendship? What about their attitude?
Or are you more direct, asking very open and direct questions like "Would you like to come see my stamp collection?" ::wink, wink, nudge, nudge::
Let's say that goes well. You are still getting all the right signals and things seem to be looking good.
Now you are up to the tough part, letting them know you are poly. You do let them know you are poly before you start dating them, right?
How do you approach that? Do you just blurt it out and await the usual questions about polygamy and how long you have been a Mormon? Or do you ask them what their orientation is first?

Let's assume you find they are poly, and you let them know you are poly as well.
What now?
Do you ask for their definition of poly and see if yours and theirs are compatible?
And what about all the other questions:
-Sexual safety.
-Poly openness? Do they say they are poly but really aren't?
-How would they mesh into your existing relationship(s)?
-Could they be integrated to your existing poly family?

In other words, how do you ‘screen’ relationship potentials? Follow your gut or have a well defined screening process? Does it start as soon as you see someone? Before your first date? After the first date? After your first child is born?

I usually try and get things out in the open right away. I'm pretty much open to a relationship regardless of race, color, size, etc. so that doesn't slow me down much. If I'm attracted, physically or emotionally, I'm open to the idea.
Once I approach someone and start having a conversation I try to read the body language and listen to what they are saying. If I think things are looking good I'll try to steer the conversation to relationships, or I'll just casually drop comments like "My girlfriend and I. . . " and see how they react.
If things are still looking good I'll try to somehow let them know I'm poly. Again, I look at their reaction. If they run away screaming I pretty much know there is no possibility of a relationship.

At that point if things are still looking good I'll start being much more direct with my questions about their current lifestyle, past lifestyle, lifestyle dreams, interests with respect to new loves, things like that.
Assuming everything still sounds good and we are both still interested I'll try to setup a date.

Ahhh, but the screening process doesn't end there. I usually expect nothing on the first date. I may flirt but I don't even expect a goodnight kiss. Now on that first date if they indicate they are interested in sex soon, like right then, I'll complete the date being as socially nice as possible but I probably won't pursue a relationship with any kind of physical aspect with the person. To me, that's casual sex, and I'm just not that interested in someone who has sex that casually. Maybe that's okay for some folks, good for you. Just not my thing.
But if that first date goes well, and they don't scare me off ::laughs:: then I'll try for a second.

The second date is where I'll start asking much more direct questions that are more physically and relationship focused. I'm still not going to assume there will be any physical interaction but in my mind it is a good time to get 'those conversations' out of the way. You know, the sexual safety questions, etc. Of course, every person is different and if I'm getting vibes from the other person that they aren't quite ready for 'those conversations' then I wait for a subsequent date. What I've outlined here is more of my general roadmap than a hard and fast set of procedures.

So how do you do it? Is each person different or do you have a method you prefer to follow? What has worked well and what hasn't?
Personally I've heard people say they never tell someone they are poly until after the first couple of dates. What do you think of that idea?
What failures have you had? I remember dating a woman once who I had told I was poly before our first date. After our first date we were talking on the phone the next day and I mentioned something about my SO and I getting together later. The next thing I knew I was being screamed at for "not telling her HOW poly I was". Apparently she thought I was poly until I started dating her, then I would somehow magically change and we would have a monogamous relationship. Wow.

And maybe an even better question; What suggestions do you have for poly people in the situation described above when they meet someone new?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Sex Addict?

Let me start off by saying I'm not much of a sports fan at all. I watch and participate regularly in no sports. If you named famous sports figures I doubt I could tell you what sport most of them play. But lately Tiger Woods has gotten my attention. Though I haven't followed every news story, nor do I know what effect his personal life is or will have on his career, I do find recent events quite interesting.

Apparently Tiger was sleeping with more than a few women without his wife knowing. Or at least that is what we are all assuming. Since none of us are a part of their relationship we don't really know for sure. Though from her actions it would appear she didn't know what was going on and is more than a little upset.

Assuming Tiger and his wife were in a mutually understood monogamous relationship that prohibited physical relationships with others then what Tiger did was wrong. With some assumptions, it would mean he was lying to his wife and cheating on her with other women. From things we have heard in the news from his mistresses, he was somehow lying to them as well. This is where I think things get interesting.

Is Tiger the first guy to cheat on his wife? Nope. Is it only men who cheat on women? Nope. So why is he being crucified by the public? Really it is a matter between him and his wife. Okay, and maybe the mistresses as well. But why is the public so focused on Tiger? Is it because he was assumed to be a role model? Surely it isn't because what he did was shocking. We all know someone who has either cheated or been cheated on, that's nothing new.

He was lying to his mistresses? Sure, maybe he was telling them he would leave his wife for them. Or they were the only one he was sleeping with. Now they are angry and demanding apologies from Tiger. Wait a second. They all knew he was married! Shouldn't THEY be apologizing to his wife and kids? To the mistresses: Come on ladies, how stupid are you? You can blame it on being 'in love' and say Tiger is a 'wonderful manipulator' but seriously, he is a famous figure and it is more than easy to find out he is married with children. You knew exactly what you were getting when you hopped on the Tiger-Train and don't deserve an apology from anyone for anything in which you willingly participated.

We have also heard that Tiger may be getting treatment for sex addiction. Assuming that is true, then the man has a disease. Again, why is he being crucified for having a disease? We give famous actors and actresses a free pass every day on their drug and alcohol addictions. If it is a disease it really wasn't his fault, right? We don't get mad at our children for catching a cold, it wasn't their fault. So why is his wife and mistresses angry with Tiger if he has a disease? Maybe because we (society) have a hard time believing that Sex Addiction is a legitimate disease?

Now for my theory; Tiger is actually poly, he just doesn't realize it. Probably raised with monogamy as the commonly accepted relationship design, he may not know about Polyamory. And as sometimes happens, those who struggle with monogamy do things wrong when they try a different path. Instead of going to his wife and asking for an open relationship, explaining his desires and needs, he cheated on her. Something that is probably more common than polyamory and better understood by many people. And instead of telling his mistresses the truth, he probably lied to them as well, trying to justify his needs. Maybe Tiger was simply a traditional monogamist learning how to be a Polyamorist and making some mistakes along the way.

Sounds good right? No, not really. I'm only being half-serious about this. I really have no clue if Tiger is polyamorous or even could be. And really, I don't much care either way. What I found interesting with his story was the social reaction. What I've tried to do here is present a different perspective leading up to a very simple question. . .

What would have happened if instead of renouncing his actions and apparently seeking help for a disease Tiger would have said, "I enjoy sex. And I enjoy having sex with different partners. I don't apologize for my sexual desires, nor will I try to inhibit them, but I do apologize for how I have fulfilled them. What I will do in the future is be open and honest with my partners about my lifestyle."

Dear reader, serving as 'the public' here, let me know what you think. What would the public reaction have been if Tiger had taken the approach I suggest above?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Let's have. . . The Talk

So you have decided you are poly. You know that part of poly is being open and honest. You know that communication is a big part of poly. And of course, you want to be the best poly you can be so you want to do things right. (You do want to be the best poly you can be, don't you?). You also realize poly is often misunderstood, particularly regarding the sexual aspects. And speaking of sex, you will probably have multiple partners.

Being the good poly you are, you know there are some conversations you may need to have with potential loves. You may want to discuss your current relationship(s) and how the new person might fit in. Maybe talk about labels you might have like Primary, Secondary, SO, OSO (Other Significant Other), Triad, Vee, etc. And sexual safety is probably important.

Some of the conversations I have found helpful:

-Assuming the person identifies as poly I ask them how they define Polyamory. It is surprising how many times someone else's definition is much different than yours. I've found after asking this question that people I had identified as potential loves were actually swingers, or interested in an open relationship, and even wanting a Don't Ask Don't Tell type situation. Possibly even more concerning are those who say "I don't care what my partners do, as long as I get time with them" or ". . .they come home to me" or ". . .we love each other".

-What does their ideal relationship look like? Is it a triad? Does it include poly-fidelity or is it more open? Would everyone be living together or maintaining their own households? Would there be a hierarchy of relationships? Would it look like a Cthulhu with them as the head if diagrammed? Answers to this one can also be surprising and reveal things like "I don't care how many others there are, as long as I'm Primary" or "Well, we would live together but I wouldn't want anyone else living with us".

-General sexual history. When did they become sexually active? Multiple-partner active? Fluid bonding? STD's, etc, etc, etc. What about sexual history concerns you and what do you need to know about. Ask those questions, weigh the answers as you see fit. This question usually leads into general sexual safety.

-Sexual safety. Just in case the previous question didn't bring it up. What do they believe is safer sex? What are their limits? Feelings on fluid-bonding? Are they a virgin? Last time tested? Oops, virgins and unicorns don't exist, right?

-And finally; What are their concerns about having a poly relationship with you? Are they afraid it will be to casual? To serious? Maybe they are worried about making your other partners jealous? A good open ended question like this will let them direct the conversation to their areas of concern which should probably be yours as well.

But what about the conversations you don't have? I've heard people say they don't even mention being poly when first dating someone. Is that you? Maybe you don't talk about sex for a while, or don't worry about integrating people into your poly family right away?
Speak up and tell us what you do and don't talk about!
If you don't speak up, nobody else will either, and nobody here will learn a thing. So c'mon. Share a little!