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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!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bite me!


Warning: This article isn’t going to have much to do with Polyamory, may contain foul language, and could be offensive to some. Maybe it will also be a bit interesting.

Teeth. Not mine or yours, but the name of a movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t bother. It really isn’t that good. If you do think you are interested, leave this article now and check it out. Come back when you have seen it or decided you don’t want to see it because I’m about to spoil the plot for you.

Teeth is about a girl who is born with teeth in her vagina. Medically termed Vagina Dentata (I have since learned that is a real term and just plain sounds cool), she finds out about the teeth when she is quite young and her step-brother tries to finger her during a game of “Show Me Yours”. Did you guess what happened? Yep, her vagina bit his finger. Convinced there is something wrong with her she hides her avoidance of sex by promoting chastity. Now years later, hormones raging, she tries sex again but eventually finds a vagina with teeth can be a weapon.
The story was an interesting concept but the film didn’t deliver well at all. What it did get me to thinking about was the idea of teeth in the vagina. If they did exist, and were able to be controlled by the owner, it presents some interesting possibilities!

Think about rape for a second. The guy forces himself upon the woman, sticks it in and her vagina promptly bites off his penis. Chances are the guy will never rape a woman again even if somehow he is repaired and made fully functional again. Catching him would also be a breeze; “Hello police? I was just raped. A description? The guy checking into a hospital with his penis bitten off.” And proving the crime would probably be easier considering DNA from the woman, not to mention a bite pattern, would be on his stump. Would a vagina have dental records? Think about the direction the practice of dentistry would have taken if vagina dentate were real, or should I say "common".

Lately there has been a lot of talk, due to the recently published book Sex at Dawn, about evolution as it relates to sexual psychology. I haven’t read the book yet but apparently it proposes some evolutionary explanations as to why humans are Monogamous rather than Polyamorous. Somehow my brain connected the theme of the movie Teeth with the concept of sexual evolution.

If it is possible humans have psychologically adapted their sexuality from Polyamorous to Monogamous lifestyles, why haven’t they evolved physically? Evolutionary theory, the small amount I have read anyway, suggests that once sex organs developed in humans we have remained largely unchanged since. One noticeable trend, attributed to sexuality, is the divergence of size between males and females. It is suggested this is due to female preference for larger males due to their ability to protect and provide better than smaller males. That actually makes sense though at some point I’ll have to research some more since I’m guessing that now we are more a more technical world, rather than hunter/gatherer, the female preference for large males should decline as preference would shift to intelligence.

I digress so I’ll get back on point now. If the human brain is the most complex muscle in the human body and we have been able to modify it relative to sexuality then why haven’t other simpler muscles modified over time to support our sexuality? If men really like bigger boobs on women, why haven’t they gotten bigger over time? If women really prefer a bigger penis, why hasn’t average size increased? And why hasn’t the vagina evolved to prevent unwanted sexual intrusion, such as rape? Maybe not teeth necessarily, but how about the ability to voluntarily tighten the vagina to the point penetration by a penis would be impossible?

I’m really not sure where I was going with all of this. I guess a couple of unrelated ideas somehow got into my head around the same time and through some warped variation of the physical attraction law, they went on a weird date that resulted in this article.

Do you think we could have evolved as much as we have psychologically with respect to sexuality without physical evolution? If tomorrow we started evolving physically to support our sexuality, what physical changes would you expect? Other comments?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

License and Poly card please.


A while back I wrote an article explaining why I often don't use my real name for writing blogs. Sensitive topics, personal security, social discrimination, and more that I don't need to rehash here again. While discussing that article recently I heard a comment I found interesting. A friend said, "I could lose my license for being Poly".
Really?
I didn't argue since I don't have much experience with professional licenses. I did ask a few questions though. Basically what I was hearing is that licenses, such as the different types issued for massage and counseling, could be revoked is a person was found to be polyamorous.

I decided to do a bit of research and see what I could find on the subject. Being in Colorado I focused on the laws of that state. Looking at the laws governing massage therapy licensing from the Department Of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) I couldn't find anything regarding sexual orientation or lifestyle in sections pertaining to licensing, revoking a license, or penalties. In short, it appears that unless or until you are convicted of a crime, are unqualified, mentally deficient, or refuse to pay the licensing fees you can get a massage license.
Link to the DORA web page regarding massage therapy: http://www.dora.state.co.us/massage-therapists/Statutes.pdf

I did a bit of reading about other states and counties and interestingly enough I did find some areas where the statutes/laws/guidelines mention moral turpitude as cause for license denial or revocation though most also tie it to a court conviction. Several of those same areas include the verbiage "for any cause" under sections regarding license denial or revocation. Obviously "for any cause" would likely provide a way of revoking a license regardless or inclusive of morality.

Moral turpitude is about as close as I could get to tying Polyamory to the denial or revocation of a professional license. Investigating the definition of "moral turpitude" a bit further I found a lot of courts refuse to define the term. Many that do use "depravity" or "actions of depravity" in their definition of moral turpitude. Many of the cases I found that resulted in removal of a professional license, with 320 F. 3d 1119 - Ballard v. Independent School District No of Bryan County al We being the most famous, dealt with physical threats, harm, and drunk driving more than lifestyle.

Now for the disclaimer. I focused on massage therapy here because it seems most of the licenses held in the poly community in which I travel are for massage therapy. I also focused on Colorado law which in no way is representative of anywhere but Colorado. I also fully realize I haven't addressed other licenses, accreditations, or educational awards such as a diploma or degree.

Based on what I have found my conclusion is two-fold;
1. Legally I seriously doubt many common licenses could be revoked simply because a person was Polyamorous. Does that mean it couldn't be revoked? Of course not. Simply that were a license revoked because someone lived a polyamorous lifestyle and they decided to challenge the revocation in court they would have a good chance at reinstatement.
2. If they want you gone they will find a way to get rid of you. They may find other reasons to revoke a license or you may realize you were somehow "blackballed" causing your license to be worthless for earning income but the bottom line; if they want you gone they will find a way to get rid of you.

An interesting by-product of my research was finding that most of the above results hold true for the concern by parents in a divorce that "outing" themselves as poly will result in their loss of child custody. But that's another article.

Have you had any experience with the loss of a professional license due to being polyamorous? Do you hold a license and does being poly make you concerned you could lose your license? I would also be interested in any specific, citable cases or examples of license revocation or loss of custody due to polyamory. Do you think my research is accurate or not? Let me know your thoughts!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

There is a Unicorn in my garden!!


First off, have you heard the term Unicorn before? A Unicorn is that elusive bisexual female creature that is willing to join an existing M/F couple and have relationships with each individually or both of them as a couple, including physical relationships. For many women, including those who are bisexual, the idea of joining an existing relationship that requires them to be involved with both partners is not completely attractive. Just because they are attracted to the woman from the couple doesn't mean they will be attracted to the male by default. The situation often also implies the new woman will be a lesser partner, or Secondary, which is also somewhat unattractive giving the appearance the new woman will basically be a warm body to fill voids and sexual fantasies. Because women willing to enter into these arrangements are hard to find they have become termed Unicorns, an impossible to find mythical creature.

In the interest of disclaimers I must admit up front that I have very little patience for Unicorn hunters. Although I can respect people knowing what they want and making it known up front, a couple in search of a Unicorn most of the time is covering what I consider to be concerns in other areas. Polyamory is about having multiple loving relationships. Does that mean the guy can have multiple loving relationships with as many women as he wants but the woman can only have a single loving relationship with a male? That's not Poly in my book. Does Polyamory also mean that all the partners involved in the extended poly family must be having relationships with all the other people in the poly family? Again, not in my book. Requiring anyone you add to your poly family to have relationships with anyone already in the family is ridiculous.

I know there are a few guys out there shaking their heads and flipping me the bird right now. Well guys, forget your One Penis Policy (OPP) for a moment and think about it this way. Can you really think it is okay to limit your girl to you being the only guy in her life while you want to sleep with all her friends? Turn that around. What if your girl wanted to sleep with all your guy friends, told you it was okay for you to sleep with all your guy friends, but that she was the only woman you could have sex with? Now take it a step further. What if she expected you to have a sexual relationship with any other guy she brought home? Or what if your girl told you she was going to form a family with you and another guy, expected you two guys to have a loving physical relationship as well, that the guy would be living with you both, AND he would be the only additional partner added to your relationship so you weren't allowed to date other women.

Once again, that isn't Polyamory in my book. If you don't like it, write your own book. Hopefully that explains why I have little patience or consideration for Unicorn hunters. More often than not it is either the guy driving the restrictions, or the woman trying to make her guy happy.

That said, there are exceptions to the rule. And again, I need a disclaimer so you know where I'm coming from.

My current partner is a female focused bisexual woman. She is also looking for a female partner. She is not looking for a male partner. I am also open to finding another female partner and don't have much interest in finding a male partner. Ideally what would we find? You guessed it, a Unicorn! Now before you chop me up and dissolve my body parts in a bathtub full of acid let me tell you why we aren't Unicorn hunters. My SO's disinterest in other men is her choice. We have had many conversations and she knows that I support her completely should she find another male partner. That extends beyond just supporting their relationship. Although I wouldn't expect to be physically involved with her male partner, I would welcome him to our family and would have no problem someday living under the same roof as a literal family. And although a Unicorn would be ideal, we in no way expect any woman my SO dates to be involved with me, nor is it a requirement for us in any way. The same goes for any women I might date.

What we got to thinking about today was how to present yourself to overcome the Unicorn hunter stigma. Even putting an ad on an internet dating site that mentions my SO is already in a relationship with a male may cause females to run away. They may believe that although it isn't being said directly, that my SO is Unicorn hunting. Putting something in the ad mentioning that new partners are not required to become involved with me might help but could still result in people thinking she is Unicorn hunting without saying as much.

We batted the problem around a bit and I suggested different wording but nothing seemed to completely avoid the possibility of assumption. We even briefly thought that mention of our existing relationship should be eliminated but both had concerns potential new partners may consider that lying were it to come to light later. Something else we noticed was that most of the dating site ads by Unicorn hunters were from the female of the couple. I realized then that I had been focusing on Unicorn hunters from my own male perspective. I hadn't thought about it much before but it dawned on me that any personals ad I might place would probably also create assumptions by potential new partners e.g. a woman reading my ad would probably think I was Unicorn hunting and would expect being involved physically with my existing SO was a requirement to a relationship.

Would we enjoy finding a woman who was able to enjoy relationships with us both and as a family? You bet, and we do keep our eyes open for just such a partner. Have we become the Unicorn hunters I dislike so much? From outward appearances I think that is very possible. However, my SO and I know in our hearts that isn't the case. That is supported by the fact we have both had independent relationships during our relationship together as well as the odd Unicorn. The question is how to let the world know we aren't Unicorn hunters.

I think anyone who took the time to get to know either of us would realize we aren't Unicorn hunters. But the bottom line is; I don't know.

What do you think about Unicorn hunters? Do you dislike them as I do or think that is completely acceptable? Are Unicorn hunters truly poly in your book? Do you have suggestions on how my SO and I can present ourselves so we aren't assumed to be Unicorn hunters?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I need my space!


Adding a new partner to the mix can require some changes to existing relationships. A lot of the time people focus on only part of the emotional aspects. How to avoid jealousy, how to abide by rules between relationships, or even on the fear of losing one of their relationships. What they don't focus on a lot of the time are the details.

When you add a new partner your energy levels are probably fairly high. Known as NRE (New Relationship Energy) you are probably devoting a lot of time to your new partner. You are probably putting forth extra effort to ensure needs are exceeded for the new partner and, hopefully, at least met for your existing partner. Though it may be hard to see at the moment do you really think you can maintain that energy level? Probably not. When things calm down with the new partner you will likely settle into a calm routine much like you had with your existing partner before the new partner came along. Will your new partner be okay with the decreased energy level?

Rather than finding out later, why not find out at the beginning? Instead of focusing on the big emotional changes that are probably coming with the addition of a new partner, focus on some of the details.

Adjusting time is a big one. NRE often results in a focus on the new partner, giving them time preference over the existing partner. Now, nobody is saying there doesn't have to be an adjustment. Obviously if you have been spending all your free time with your existing partner and add someone new your available time will change. But giving a new partner a greater proportion of your free time is probably unfair. Your existing partner may feel neglected and become upset, not a big surprise. But even worse, are you setting yourself up for failure? By focusing a large portion of your time on the new partner you could be setting an expectation for that person that you won't be able to maintain in the future. Setting realistic expectations and dividing time somewhat equally, or as needed realistically, may prevent problems down the road.

Scheduling is another problem that seems to pop up. This is different than a time problem. Think of it more like this; You have a standing date with your existing partner every Tuesday night but that is the only night your new partner has free. Obviously cancelling date night to be with your new partner will probably cause problems. What about adjusting date night to a different night? Maybe your existing partner is willing to compromise and would like something of equal quality like a date day or bubble bath instead? And again, if you quickly adjust to spending Tuesday night with your new partner are you setting yourself up for failure? What happens when both of your partners only have Tuesday night free? Will you alternate weeks? Will either partner be happy with that scenario?

Another difficulty a lot of poly folks face is space. It is easy to say you are open to loving more than one person, that you want your partner to have that same experience and freedom, and that you will both go on dates. That sounds great until one of the relationships progresses to the point of physical intimacy. But where exactly do you plan to take the big step? Your partners place? Sorry, they have another partner who is home with the kids. Your place? Nope, your partner is there working on that big presentation for work. Hotels get expensive fast and really aren't very romantic. Back seat of the car? Ok, the last one was a joke but I think you get the idea. Let's say you can get the house to yourself and decide to have your new partner over for some fun. Problem solved! Wrong. Your existing partner may have issues with someone else being in their bed, or even just space issues in general. Again, doing some planning ahead of time can avoid some serious problems. Talk to your existing partner and understand their concerns about private space. Do they feel certain rooms should be off-limits initially? Setting up a spare bedroom may be a possible solution. Or if they don't have space issues the solution could be as simple as promising to always change the sheets, either before or after your new partner visits.

Communication is another hurdle I've heard couples trying to overcome. Specifically the "Goodnight, I love you, sweet dreams baby" that most couples share. How will that work when you spend your first overnight with your new partner? Is it okay for your existing partner to call and interrupt the evening? Will your new partner throw a fit when your phone rings? While I don't suggest doing away with the goodnight phone call I would minimize it. Talk to your existing partner and let them know it is okay to call, that you want them to call. Or even that you will call them if they prefer. But also communicate that you would like the call to be brief and strictly a goodnight call. No discussing the kids, budget, how your date is going, or anything like that. Also let your new partner know that you have an agreement with your existing partner for a goodnight phone call. And let both partners know that whomever you are with on a specific night the other partner will be entitled to a goodnight call.

I like to boil those things down into what I call 'space issues'. That can be physical space, literal space, or emotional space. The point is that regardless of the type of space (or whatever name you want to use for the concept) people often have a few things that are deeply important to them. They may not be logical but are probably very necessary. A bit of planning ahead and respecting the space issues of everyone involved can go a long way toward making the addition of new partners smooth for everyone.

How do you respect your existing partners space concerns when you start a new relationship?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Take my wife, please!


For once the title matches the article! Regular readers will realize that isn't normal but this time I couldn't think of something funnier.

And yes, this actually happened to me.
Recently while out with some friends the husband I were discussing his new partner and some frustrations he was having with his wife over his new partner. He casually made the comment that he was surprised I hadn't dated his wife yet. (We are all poly so it wouldn't be out of question). The conversation migrated to new topics and in the middle of something completely unrelated he blurted again that he was surprised his wife and I hadn't dated since we are both poly. I politely brushed off the comment and the conversation continued, again moving to other topics. Again, he made the same comment and added this time that maybe we should think about getting together. Glancing at his wife I was happy to notice she was smiling and not making gagging noises.

It was about that time I realized my friend was trying to setup his wife with someone and at the moment, it was me!

Now at the time of the conversation my friend had a new partner and his wife was having some issues. Apparently my friend thought some of those issues were based on her feeling left out since she didn't have a current partner other than her husband. He likely felt that if she had somewhere else to focus her attention she wouldn't be having so many issues with his new partner and some of his problems would be solved. Since we all know each other fairly well he could be comfortable knowing that I believe in sexual safety, wouldn't just be looking for some quick fun, and would have no interest in changing his relationship with his wife. In a sense, I'm safe.

Now that I understood what was happening the question became; What to do about it?

I've been in similar situations before but without the wife present and with the suggestion being made for different reasons. Most of the time I had seen it coming so I was prepared for the conversation. This time I was completely caught off-guard. His wife was also sitting there which made me feel a bit uncomfortable since I wasn't sure I was interested in her, and I would have wanted to completely understand his reasons for making the suggestion. Obviously if he was pushing her off on me to solve his own problems I wouldn't want to get involved. I also didn't want to hurt her feelings.

So I let it go and changed the subject once again. I think my friend got the hint because he didn't bring it up again. The wife and I have talked since then and agreed we are both open to the possibility but so far I haven't felt the spark of a connection on that level. She hasn't initiated any conversations indicating she has either.

A current partner of mine was also present for the conversation and later, after we had left the couple, she mentioned noticing the same things I had. That my friend seemed to be trying to setup his wife. She then suggested I take the opportunity, which is one of the reasons I love her but, that's another story.

I was left questioning the morality of trying to setup a partner. I know a lot of couples, particularly those unicorn hunting, do something similar. One partner will often shop for a new partner for them both as a couple. Typically the woman will try to find another woman to join her and her male partner. In my mind though, that is a bit different than trying to setup a partner with someone new in a one-on-one relationship. That almost feels like an arranged marriage of sorts.

Let me know where you stand on this one. Do you feel it is a bit inappropriate or totally okay? Obviously there would be concerns about this type of setup like; are the two people attracted to each other? But I'm talking more about the morality than the technicality. Would you have been offended had you been in my shoes? Would you have let it go? If not, how would you have handled the situation and not bruised their feelings?