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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time for an oil change!

Well kids, it is that time of year again. Planning is well underway for Beltane, Lupercalia is right around the corner and planning should be done, Mardi Gras isn't far behind, and of course everyone is already starting to get anxious about all the summer festivals, celebrations, rituals, campouts, and parties. The holidays are over so all that gunk is out of the way. We can start to prepare for all the fun things we want to do instead of the holidays that are obligations.

Dust off your goat skin leggings, press your kilt, find your robes, dig out that mask, wash your sarong, and check your camping gear. And if you are like me the holidays add to your mass, so maybe do a few sit-ups or get outside and exercise a bit. Yes, I know, it is still winter, cold, and nobody likes going for pointless walks on the ice. But you want to look your best while shirtless and chasing nymphs through the woods right?

Those of you that are non-pagan are sure to be doing something similar. Planning family BBQ's, parties, Fourth of July bashes, camping trips, or just thinking about hitting the pool when it warms up. (See, the exercise suggestion applies to you as well!)

Yep, everyone is looking forward to warmer weather and getting out of the house to see friends and maybe make new friends. So why am I bugging you? It is time for your friendly Public Service Announcement!

While getting ready for all those yummy social events remember to be a good poly practitioner and dust off certain conversations with your partner(s). Many of us have rules or agreements by which we live our poly lives. Often those rules become flexible or are suspended during times of festivals, rituals, celebrations, or "play parties". Now is the time to find out if you are still on the same page, not the night before a big event or possibly after something happens and your partner explodes in your face.

Some of the things to refresh with your conversations, or just ideas to jog your memory:

-Casual sex is not normally practiced by you or your partners. Does that change at a "play party" or festival?

-Are there rules or exceptions for physical encounters during rituals, which can be sexually charged at times?

-Do you have a "Do Not Do" list of people who are off-limits in play situations? Has that list changed? Are there new additions or new information that might change the list?

-More activities means more opportunity to meet potential new partners. What are your agreed upon expectations? Is immediate communication required? Must the potential new love meet all existing partners first? Must they be approved? Do those rules change in a "heat of the moment" situation?

-Do you maybe have a new partner and have never been in a questionable situation with them before? Now is the time to play the "what if" game and define boundaries if necessary.

-In general, has your relationship status changed since last spring? If so, what new situations could you and your new partner encounter with warmer weather? Have you had the necessary conversations?

-Maybe you are now singled or unpartnered. Think about your expectations at the events I've mentioned. Are there situations you need to avoid? Specific people in particular situations? Think about how to keep yourself safe and what your goals are with new partners or new situations.

-Scheduling. Are there events you or your partners are determined to attend that need to be scheduled around? What about schedules in general, which can get busy during warm seasons? Can anyone put something on the calendar or does it require discussion first? Is free time without events more important to you than your partner? How will you schedule to accommodate everyone being satisfied?

-Are you saving money for a particular festival or trip? Maybe poly week in Club Med? Are you on track with your saving? Does everyone agree that a portion of your savings is earmarked and off limits?

-What about house rules when you are the one throwing the party? Is your bed off limits to everyone? Are there certain "house rules" that should be reviewed by everyone living in the house now, before the party date arrives? Maybe your house now includes more or less family members. Does that require a change to your house rules?

Those are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head. The possibilities are as endless as the number of different relationship designs and differences in partners. I'm not trying to create a finite list here, but rather help you to think about conversations you may have had over the past year. Assuming those conversations went well and everyone is happy, that's great! But people change over time. Their opinions are altered, their tastes change, desires wax and wane, goals are formed or achieved, and for no reason at all sometimes they will change their minds. Even though you have had a conversation before, it doesn’t hurt to review it again.

No, you don't need to have the same conversations again word for word. Simply tell your partner that you would like to do a quick review to keep things fresh in your mind. Give them a quick summary of the conversation you had or of your understanding from the conversation. Ask them if you got it right. Then, ask them if there is anything they would like to change. Do they have the same understanding? Let them know now is a good time to renegotiate rules or expectations if they would like. If you aren't sure you're both still on the same page, do some "What If's" and gauge things that way.

Just like checking your summer gear for preparedness, doing a quick relationship check-up can save you troubles down the road. And once it is done, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy all the fun the warmer months bring while knowing you prepared as best you could.

Do you have annual or even semi-annual "maintenance" you do with your relationships? Are they just conversations or something else? What types of things would you suggest be put on a relationship maintenance list?

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