Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Or whatever sort of holiday you do celebrate! One of the concerns I see bandied about rather frequently this time of year is how to handle the holidays? How do you split up time? Introduce your partners (people that are voluntarily in your life) to your family (not quite as choice-oriented)? How do you decide who goes to what house or event for a given celebration? How does it impact someone when they are left behind for a particular event? What about the dreaded "Holiday Party" for work? Are there some cans of worms that are better left just hibernating in the refrigerator for another time?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I haven't been in a poly-philosophical place lately and continue to not be there. But I thought the readership would appreciate a glimpse into the background of what's going on in our household -- or at least for me anyway.
The following significant events have happened around me in the last six months:
* The woman who was my Heart Keeper relationship had her husband move out after their divorce finalized.
* A few weeks later, I lost my fluid-bond status with my Heart Keeper. She got into a relationship with a guy that PF and S were nervous about and that flared drama a couple months earlier.
* I went on a week's vacation during the 4th of July week with our poly family and it felt uncomfortable. I began the process of re-thinking a lot of things in my life.
* My Heart Keeper's relationship with new guy deepened even further as he assumed a more central role in her life as her fluid-bonded partner. I felt pushed more to the periphery. When I asked for equal time, it was firmly, instantly denied.
* Made the difficult decision to transition my Heart Keeper relationship from Lovers to Friends -- in the hope that we might be able to salvage emotional intimacy even if we had less physical intimacy.
* Continued my thought process about how uncomfortable I've been in this cohabiting poly situation. PF and I went through couples counseling for a few sessions and then decided to separate at the end of August.
* As a part of my life re-evaluation, I sought closure about my biological father. He was an abusive alcoholic and even though my mom left with me when I was 3 years old, his absence was a significant factor in my life. So, I created a ceremony to give voice to those feelings as well as symbolically bond with what elements of him I could.
* Two weeks ago I finally accepted the fact that my Heart Keeper relationship was really over. Our transition to friends just did not feel good to me at all. Although the intent was to forge a comfortable closeness, I felt even less important to her than ever. I said goodbye to her ex-husband, children and her. The toughest Sunday I've had in a long time -- ripping four people out of my life. I loved them all in different ways.
* Almost a week ago, my oldest half-sister on my father's side died. Reminding me how little time remains for me to develop connections with my siblings on my father's side. We only re-connected 10 years ago.
So, here I am now. Today. Writing the first blog post I've written here in a long time. Still consider myself poly, but seriously doubting that I want to have this flavor of cohabiting polyamory. I feel a bit of an outcast for having those thoughts. After all, it feels like when you become polyamorous you sign a virtual contract to make it work no matter what. Once people have formed poly relationships, the footprint grows and changing course becomes more difficult. Once you add in more financial ties like shared expenses and housing, that footprint can feel like a suffocating snarl of responsibilities.
Where am I with my marriage? Well, we've actually had some good, connective discussions in the last week. So, things look more positive than they have in months. But things are still complicated. Both my wife and I have done things that have violated our trust in each other. And I'm still smarting from the hammer fall of a lot of recent pain.
I also don't want to slip down the destructive trail of demonizing my fellow housemates. They're both good people, doing the best they can.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Polyamory charitably tries to defend itself by pointing out our own raw imperfections. Polyamory tells us that we are not perfect for all people and at all times; not one person can ever hope to satisfy all of your needs - sexually, emotionally, or socially - at once. In polyamory, we are admittedly, honestly imperfect.
Western religion also capitalizes on our gross human imperfections. Fundamentalist ideas surrounding monogamy attempts to rationalize a doctrine built on the idea that love is an instrument of the divine and is thus its perfect, and wherein we struggle in marriage is a symptom of our own imperfections as people. Imperfections are revelation of character flaws: sin. Transgressions in love and fidelity translate into failures of faith requiring penitence, self-condemnation, shame, and guilt.
Therefore, polyamory might suggest that humans are capable of a broad range of emotional freedom that reveals too much about ourselves. Surely, isn't the iconic western marriage just an attempt to dismiss our imperfection in a foolish attempt to grasp the divine?
An extravagant white dress so pure as the fallen snow couldn't possibly harbor guilty imperfections. Honestly?
A beautiful ceremony held within the chambers of the Numinous, blessed by the offices of the Otherworldly, codified by the social order around them? Honestly?
Vows that stress all of those lovely ideas concerning obedience and perfect unions, forsaking all others, forever? Honestly?
And within the marriage, it is expected that both partners will cease "needing" any more that they can give, and that they never evolve as people, and that it's okay to habitually pretend and lie about those changes, and to deny those subtle imperfections we acquire through time. Honestly?
Insomuch that I would argue that western religious views on monogamy have come to define coupling in our modern culture as an act of guilt, denial, suppression, and a desire to impossibly live-up to an idyllic, perfect love, and when we falter in love we stray from the divine, and - boy - do we so love beating ourselves up for that! We love beating ourselves up on sin!
Polyamory is at once then a challenge for each of us to strip those notions of guilt, failure, and shame to constructively engage relationships as flawed and imperfect human beings. Honesty and compassion is not sinful. And it's okay to be imperfect. It's okay to admit that we all change over time, and it's okay to recognize that needs and priorities will shift over time. Polyamory presumes that we're emotionally mature enough to realize we're capable of making decisions outside of a "divine plan" and that we can be personally responsible for shaping the happiness within our own lives.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I was intrigued by a question that came up at our last poly meeting that got me thinking about historical personalities who were wrapped-up in poly situations. This may be the first of a few research-related posts to look at polyamory in a time where it lacked a name.
Teresa was sixteen and wedded to Count Guiccioli, a man 44-years her senior; she was just 19 when she met Goerge Gordon Byron. Teresa was pretty with thick blond hair and pristine: she was well-read, educated, and an idealist. And at a reception in April 1819, Teresa's passion for Byron swept her away in a love affair of her lifetime. Their love was legendary. When the Count found out about their affair, he moved himself and Teresa to Ravenna in order to separate them.
But time and distance did not separate Teresa and Byron. In her Ravenna-exile, Teresa would write Byron love letters and she would eventually fall gravely ill from longing him. She was just to a point of death that the Count was forced to bring Byron to Ravenna and have him come to his wife's bedside. Magically, the girl recovered. Byron would come to stay with them; the Countess Guiccioli was seen in public escorted by two men, and Byron was acknowledged as Teresa's lover.
Count Guiccioli was less than compliant in this arrangement. Byron and Teresa lived under the same roof for nearly three years. The poet and the Countess met frequently. The Count was rumored to have regarded Byron with a skepticism and an interest to eventually extort him. Then, when Byron was bed-ridden by fever, Teresa remained by his side, until the Count arrived and physically removed his wife from Byron's chambers. When she was taken from him, Byron exchanged desparate letters with the countess. He feared for his life as he believed assassins were dispatched by her husband to kill him. And when the Count attempted to obtain a divorce, public opinion was drastically against him given her fair nature and Bryon's stature.
Bologna, 25 August, 1819
My dearest Teresa,
I have read this book in your garden;--my love, you were absent, or else I could not have read it. It is a favourite book of yours, and the writer was a friend of mine. You will not understand these English words, and others will not understand them,--which is the reason I have not scrawled them in Italian. But you will recognize the handwriting of him who passionately loved you, and you will divine that, over a book which was yours, he could only think of love.
In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in yours--Amor mio--is comprised my existence here and hereafter. I feel I exist here, and I feel I shall exist hereafter,--to what purpose you will decide; my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent. I wish that you had staid there, with all my heart,--or, at least, that I had never met you in your married state.
But all this is too late. I love you, and you love me,--at least, you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation in all events. But I more than love you, and cannot cease to love you.
Think of me, sometimes, when the Alps and ocean divide us,--but they never will, unless you wish it.
Teresa was Byron's longest and truest love; the love affair tamed Byron and he became more settled, eventually coming to supporting idealistic causes and human liberty: values which would eventually take him to Greece to fight and die in the Greek War for Independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
She was tall, thin, had curly dark hair, and a beaming confident smile. She was practically smart with life experience but not extraordinarily academic, rather materialistic in almost every sense of that term, stubborn, and demanding. She was a most superb trophy. We dated ten years ago and, these days, my friends just call her Faconnable.
Now, if you're unfamiliar with that name, Facconable is a brand of pricey male fashions offered by Nordstrom out here in the Pacific Northwest. Go ahead and Google it - when you're ready to spend $200 on a dress shirt now you know where to look. Anyway, she earned the name because of the tawdry way she convinced me that I'd only be desirable if I had expended the requisite amount on my wardrobe, and that my appeal to her was only limited by the amount of money that I could ante-up in self-improvement.
All of that may sound atrocious although you shouldn't be thinking that I was entirely selfless and victimized. As for myself, I didn't use the earlier term "trophy" carelessly with her because it should somewhat connote my own requirements from this relationship: you see, Facconable was to be the culmination of my success. The icing on the proverbial cake as it were for I was to celebrate my thirtieth birthday by earning my master's degree and landing a lucrative executive position; I had the car, the house, the job, everything... except for one thing that had escaped me forever. You see, in my head, all I lacked was the appropriate (perfect) girl.
Certainly horrific as it may sound we were both getting what we wanted out of the relationship: I had something strikingly pretty to hang off of my arm and she had expensive tastes that through me could be ultimately provided for. We probably weren't very good friends and that translated into some contentious times. The relationship was tumultuous and unsatisfying at best for the both of us.
When it inevitably imploded, the universe corrected itself by deflating my ego with compounded interest and a broken heart. Rightly so. It shattered not only this silly illusion of myself but obliterated the epic fantasy of the "ideal" woman. It was a monumental event in my life that reshaped who I was at the time and created the conditions by which I'd eventually "settle" for my second marriage. And, in retrospect, I wouldn't have changed any of it for the relationship with Facconable took greed to an extreme and transformed a single woman into currency. In its bloody demise I recovered with fresh perspective on many things, but in particular, the conceptual "ownership/possessiveness" of a woman through a relationship.
Love isn't possessive. It is, in fact, just the opposite and seeks to be liberated. There are many facets of our make-up as men that encourage possession (rejection, fear of loss, emotional insecurity, low self-image) as just as many societal instruments that reinforce those perspectives in our patriarchal culture; love is so spoiled when we look at the appalling rates of domestic violence and violence performed upon women in this country. Yet, it's from this disastrous experience that I identify so strongly with Polyamory because it respects women as independent, adventurous, powerful, sexual, and playful; women are their own masters and every one a goddess in her own right, and for me, the expressions of her power through Polyamory is intoxicating and, because of Facconable, today, I can experience that to its fullest extent.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
As I entered the world of non-standard relationships, one of the first things that I noticed was that I had a LOT of thinking to do. So many of the things that I just sort of accepted and went along with in life needed to be looked at. This is one of the topics that we'll be looking at during the next discussion group, so I'm very interested to see what types of de/re-programming people feel they've needed to accomplish to make the shift into poly work for them.
For me, questions like: Does it matter what gender the person my partner is interested in is? Does sexual exclusivity equate to love? What about the whole "my other half", "The One", my "soul mate" concept? What is kinky? What is too kinky? Where does personal responsibility start and end in a relationship? Can I really love more than one person at a time? Do my partner's feelings for another person diminish our relationship? Do children need a two parent family to have an optimum childhood? Is seeking pleasure selfish? all came into play.
Examining the vast majority of the positions I was brought up with took some significant bandwidth. Even with being a pretty open-minded sort of person, there is/was plenty of self-examination to do.
Going through this process has been one of the most valuable things I've ever done. Lifetime. It isn't something that will ever be completed, but is a constant re-evaluation. Many of the hard and fast rules have gone to the wayside. There is situational context to be considered in determining the relative morality of a given action or belief. This is squarely at odds with the majority position of right and wrong, yes and no, black and white. Many of the questions that have come up wouldn't have been put in my way outside of polyamory, so I am thankful for this opportunity to learn more about myself and the world around me.
Shoot me a note! What have been your most interesting discoveries in deprogramming your worldview? How has poly shifted your perspectives on life, love, relationships and who you can become?
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
When I see someone I love moving in a direction that looks to be less positive, it feels yucky. It feels scary. It feels uncomfortable and unhappy. And it has almost nothing to do with me directly. These choices are about someone else's journey in life, not my own. Stepping back and watching someone I care for get their heart ripped out and handed to them on a platter, still pulsing and steaming, is one of the hardest things for me to do. I don't like the person that does it to them, and I don't like my partner choosing that path. I fight it every step of the way, and that resistance isn't working all that well.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Theoretically, this may spare someones feelings. If you never actually say it out loud, it isn't as real, and, after all, next month, you may very well feel differently and have a shift in your priorities, so no one feels less valued. This isn't about how much you value a relationship though, it's about where you are feeling compelled to put your resources in what proportions.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Dating under any circumstances can be risky. Trusting anybody new is hard and usually takes more than a couple of dates. It only gets more concerning when you throw-in extra curricular activities like group and public play, or attending a BDSM function), or a snuggle, then the risks - real or simply imaged - escalate exponentially.
Imagine. It's 4am - two hours later than when you expected her to be home - and you don't know where your partner is. Your options are limited. You don't even have a phone number to call. You're really concerned; you can't reach her on her cell. What do you do now?
Or, imagine it's 4am - two hours later than when you expected her to be home - and she must be out partying it up. Having a great time and having some really good sex. Way good sex. Like, mind-blowing monkey sex that she doesn't have with you. You've now eaten all of your good nails. Even the bad ones. Your anxiety is high and, quickly, your confidence begins to erode and you're beginning to chew on your jealousy as if it were a cherry jolly rancher.
There's gotta be a better way.
Here's a couple of practical ideas that PF and I use to stay safe and stay sane.
1. Set Expectations.
2. Set Defined Times.
3. Set Up a Means for Communicating Exceptions.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
intr.v. co·op·er·at·ed, co·op·er·at·ing, co·op·er·ates
1. To work or act together toward a common end or purpose.
2. To acquiesce willingly; be compliant: asked the child to cooperate and go to bed.
3. To form an association for common, usually economic, benefit: When buyers cooperate, they can make large wholesale purchases at a discount.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
You know, often in this forum we concentrate exclusively on what we're dong wrong. Cathartic and introspective but not irrationally exuberant; in fact, kind of a bummer at times. Today, I'd like to bring up a couple of things that are going right and made me irrationally exuberant.
Many of you probably already know that I've started up with somebody new to poly. Over the weekend, I had invited her over for dinner. A good time was had by all. I'd like to share a couple of tips and ideas on what went right.
1. Do a community event. Poly to me is very community-oriented and I think my pod does a good job selling it. We're able to share jokes, pieces of our communal history, and the poly-newcomer can see something that's positive, accepting, and reinforcing. What can you do to strike connection between others?
2. Do try to cook. You know, I think food brings people together. Being able to share a meal is a real plus. What can you do to give a part of yourself – your time, your talent, your effort - to everybody?
3. Do try to introduce your partners and their metamours and your “space”. Although it wasn't the first time we've all been together before, it was nice to be in our “space” - at home – and to bring everyone together. That also gave the new person a chance to see how we lived. What can you do to get all interested parties into a shared space, to spend a few hours together, sit together, and to get to know each other better?
4. Do go out of your way to share common interests. One of the cool things that happened was that PG knew that my date liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so he lent her his 8th Season comic books. I thought that was really cool. A metamour making a gesture like that sets the right tone. What can you do to go out of your way to feel somebody more accepted?
5. Do give your partners space to snuggle and be a couple. The gracious goddess that she is, PF stepped away later in the evening so my date and I could have a few minutes together at the close of the evening. She went upstairs and we were able to noodle-around a bit and connect privately for a few minutes. What can you do to foster connections?
6. Do try to set expectations. Admittedly, my primary needed some clarifications on where the night was going to go before it started. PF had asked for an understanding on where she should be later in the evening, or, if there were going to be separate sleeping arrangements. That one took a little while for me to come around to because I wanted the evening to be kind of “organic” and just see where it went, but if we had gone that route, PF could have felt out of place. Kind of a 3rd wheel. She needed that kind of expectation set. What can you do to communicate your expectations to your partner(s) in advance so that everybody is on the same page?
7. Do follow-up with an emotional check-in. This morning, PF had taken it upon herself to text a follow-through with my date to see if she had any questions, and just make sure it went okay for her, too. What I got was a text back about how great my primary is, and how accepting the whole household was, and what a fun time was had. It was awesome. What can you do to lay-down bridges and and follow-up on people's emotional states?
8. Do try to engage poly. We all talked a little bit about the poly lifestyle; my friend is, in fact, reading “The Ethical Slut” - it's great. She's going out of her way to ask questions as somebody new to all of this, and is making a genuine effort to learn more about it. If you're new to poly, consider how you can engage it, learn more about it, at least to some extent that makes you comfortable.
It's the little things that count. What happened the other night was a bunch of little things that added up into one big ball of a pleasant evening for all. My hats-off to my awesome partners and friends...
... and by the way, finding a new partner whose interested in learning about poly and is open minded, smart, charming, and literate.... It is so... choice. If you have the means, I'd highly recommend picking one up. :)