Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Face Your Music


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Find a legal pad. Think of your partner. Write down (by hand) five positive aspects that you really appreciate about that person. Flourish a little: explain why you like this aspect of their personality. Then remove the paper from the pad, fold it, and seal it in an unmarked envelope.

Next month, repeat the process. Write down five more that you discovered in your partner. Seal it in an unmarked envelope, and continue this process through the end of the year.

And on Christmas Eve, take all of the envelopes and place them in a box, wrap it, and place it under the tree, somewhere in the back, obscure, nondescript.

When they open their gift, they'll likely be surprised and thankful for your thoughtfulness and individualized attention.

And when they read your thoughts line by line, you'll each be reminded of the tiny melodies that comprise the symphony of your lives.

We can never say enough; there's never enough time. Listen intently.

s1m0n

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poly "family"


No, not the "Family" web series...
In creating some of the comments about the DADT post, as well as experiencing some recent shifts, I've come to the conclusion that somewhere in my soft fuzzy secret heart, I want to have an extended poly family. "What do you mean, chicky-boo? You _live_ a poly family!" Yes, this is true, but it's pretty one-sided. What I'm talking about is having a family-type relationship with metamours.

It'd be nice to have someone(s) who liked to come hang out in the evenings, just to be social and because they like all of us. To snuggle up in a pile and watch movies, listen to music and read, go for walks, try out new restaurants and cook together, then split off later in the day to enjoy more intimate activities with respective partners.

I'd like to experience a sense of warmth and mutual appreciation that lets you know that this is someone you can let your guard down with, and not feel apologetic if the house isn't picked up, or if you haven't quite had time to hit the showers after working out. This is someone that would get you a cup of soup when you don't feel well, someone that has your back, even though you aren't banging them. Family.
I'm NOT looking to make this a "term of employment" for anyone that wants to date either of the guys, so any interested parties that aren't enthused about the family dynamic can relax. It's just something that would be value added for me.

Who knows if I'll ever get there? Still, I'm going to put the request out to the universe and say that it's something that sounds like it would be pretty wonderful! Send it on over. Having a friendship like that with a metamour would be like having a sibling that I actually got along with most of the time, without the messy taboos around sexuality. ;)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Joss Whedon Accepts Bradbury Award for SciFi


All of us being a fan of Mr. Whedon... of course, if you're poly, you're automatically a fan of Joss Whedon... it's like, "Yeah, I'm a firedancer, I'm into SCA, I role play, I'm an engineer for technology and a geek, and oh yes, I watch FireFly and know who Dr. Horrible is.... hence, I'm poly"... should see his acceptance video for the scifi Bradbury Award. This was delivered on a jumbotron to a live audience...

s1m0n

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell.


There's an on-going debate as to whether "don't ask, don't tell" can be poly. On the one hand, polyamory is such a broad term that one can make it be anything desired, within their own mind, and a particular partner may be requesting to stay outside the flow of information. On the other hand, someone is out of the loop not being told, which will, in my opinion and experience, eventually lead to unethical behavior of some sort.


Disclosure is one of the foundation pieces in polyamory. It's so closely related to honesty and truthfulness that I'd venture to say that, without disclosure on some level, there is no polyamory. There can still be an "open relationship", but sharing with one's partners is one of the basic parts of the "amoury" segment of poly. Without the sharing of information, relationships live well below the available potential, no matter if they are mono or poly in nature.


As you may have gathered by reading some past material, my first significant poly relationship was poly on my side, and DADT on his. While his spouse knew of my existence, knew he visited, sent gifts to my child, etc, there was no capacity to be part of his daily life, meet any of their children, spend time in their home etc. It was one of the two major limiting factors that led to the demise of that relationship, the other being distance.


Without disclosure, the growth available in a given connection is truncated, on every side of the equation. Choosing to move into more active sharing of information can be challenging, particularly for the person that would rather pretend the whole thing doesn't exist, but knowledge of other relationships colors even the most skilled actor's responses, poisoning the whole system.


If one chooses to disallow DADT in their poly relationships, there may be some missed opportunities, but those are outweighed by the growth options that are no longer stifled by being in information restrictive structures. In short, "If you can't talk about it, you shouldn't do it."


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Running in Circles


When I was six, at the dinner table, I voiced a strong disagreement towards eating my vegetables. My parents – doing what parents do – attempted to encourage me to eat my vegetables by reminding me that they make the rules in the house and if I didn't like it I could just leave. Well, I took them up on that offer. I declared that I wanted to leave the house. I packed my bags. They drove me to the bus station. I stepped out of the car and looked down a long hall of people and trash, bags in hand, and looked back at my parents, who huddled together – barely able to contain their laughter – and I started to walk away. Instantly, the gravitas of my situation fell upon my mother and she ran up, hugged me, and pulled me into her. They then took me home.

It didn't stop there. When I was fourteen, I decided to move in with some friends. My mother went rifling through my stuff and found some Dexatrim tablets. Speed, she said. Hell, I just wanted to lose some weight. So, I left. I didn't tell my parents where I went. I was gone for a few days. They called the police. I was safe. I was living in the basement of my friend's place; he owned his own apartment. No big.

When I was seventeen, it was summer, and I decided to camp out under the stars near Battle Ground lake. I took my bike, my gear, and left. I left a note for the parental consent: “Gone camping. Be back tomorrow.” While I was out there, I met up with some people I knew, and I decided to stay for another night. Then, another. A week had past. Cops were called again. This time they found me.

Close to the end of my senior year, my dad caught me in a compromising position in my room. It was dark, 3am, and I was … downloading. Downloading programs for my Commodore 64. Back then, you were lucky to get in 1mb of data in a night, so I wanted to get an early start to download this stuff from a pirate board on the east coast. My dad, he warned me about this before, so he took my C64; well, actually, that was my second C64 – I had purchased it on my own, hid it, and used it at night, because he took my first one and grounded me. Well, I thought that was the shit – wasn't even rewarded for my clever replenishment of the asset; I mean, how fucking industrious, eh? – so I hung out over at another friend's place. His parents were cool. Didn't talk to my folks for a week.

Throughout my adult life, I would repeat this pattern. I'd meet a girl. We'd hit it off. Things were fine until she said something wrong and I'd piss off. I just started my car and drove. I'd drive everywhere: to the coast, to Ontario (Oregon), to Ashland, to Port Angeles. I'd come back, we'd split up.

In my first marriage, when I had a fight with my wife, I'd scram. I'd head over to PG/PF's and tell them about my problems. They would listen and I'd return to my crap relationship and eventually get in another fight and come back around. Eventually, I ended up staying... for a month. And I got a divorce.

The next girlfriend: same stuff, different day, except this time she liked to run, too. She'd take off. I'd take off. We'd text each other to apologize or to plead – beg! - to meet up, reconcile. And we did. Over and over. Eventually we married. And in my second marriage, when I had a fight with my wife, I'd scram. I'd head over to PG/PF's and tell them about my problems. They would listen and I'd return to my crap relationship and eventually get in another fight and come back around. If it sounds repetitive, it was. Painfully, stupidly repetitive. And, eventually, I ended up staying... for a month. And I got a divorce.

In the last two years I've been in a relationship, a poly relationship which – on the surface – would seem more screwed up than anything else, but it's the first relationship that I haven't run from. Since that time, I've had time to reflect.

Leaving... running... is selfish. I used to convince myself that it was the moral high-ground in that I could escape the situation to return calmer and more prepared to engage in constructive conversation. This didn't happen. Instead, I left because it returned some sense of control that I felt that I had lost, and, because I maliciously wanted my absence to be painfully remembered. I wanted to be missed.

Once, during my second marriage, I recall being alone one night after she had packed her things in the car and left with her kid. It was horribly silent. It was raining and just the sound of the outside, the 'drip-drop-drip' permeated the bedroom, and, when you're anxious and worried like that, you know, you can't sleep, so I was laying there for what seemed like an eternity, waiting, staring at the ceiling, watching my cell phone, and waiting for the call to talk, to reconcile, to make up. I felt awful. I was very alone. She had stolen something from me. She'd taken my breath away. Today, I still wish I could have done something differently that night. It hurts even now, not being able to tell her I'm sorry.

I think I saw then that walking away deprives your partner that breath – that chance – to make amends, to snuggle, or to mend the fence, or to apologize, or to argue, or to resolve the issue. Walking away short-circuits reconciliation and diminishes your partner. Walking away and then making up is a reinforcing cycle – the act of reconciliation may spike emotions, create more feelings of closeness for a while, and may bring you and your partner together, but for me, it became a negatively reinforcing cycle of “problem-attention-resolution”. Walking away is cowardly because it allows you to retreat and leaves the problem clearly at the feet of your partner. You've chosen not to deal with it. You've chosen to leave it – and her – all behind.

I'm thankful that I don't run anymore. I have a partner that doesn't leave me feeling out of control, or, without my breath. She is a communicator and I am never lacking. I am also thankful that I have come to realize that a lifetime of running took me nowhere (just in circles), aimlessly ending up exactly where I was before. Now, I am content.

I have to tell you: if you're a runner, before you run again, think about how many times you had done so before and about how many times you had to start over, and about how much life seems to repeat itself. The pattern isn't found in your partners but the lowest common denominator of yourself, and how you've always dealt with your problems. And in your retrospection you may come to realize - much earlier than I and hopefully at less expense - how much agony your partner feels when they're so carelessly tossed away.

s1m0n

p.s. - Yeah, sorry I haven't been writing for a while. My attention has been seriously removed as of late, working too many hours and building up content on my consultancy's website. I'll try to refocus my priorities. You know it's bad when PolyGestalt (a.k.a. Silent Bob) has been able to blog twice since my last post... can't freekin' have that...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Penalties for abundance


Ok. Polyfolk, I have a question. How many relationships/connections does a potential partner have to have before you decide that person is too busy or doesn't have enough time for you?

I ask this because I think that while a person may be poly, there is still a strong urge in most (if not all) of us to want to have a significant portion of a person's time if we're going to be romantically linked. And, I think that most people will make that snap judgement without consulting their person of interest.


Example:

"Oh, he's already seeing 2,643 women, he surely doesn't have time for me!"


What is that point for you? Or is the number of connections that someone has not even a factor for you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

PG's Seven Layer Burrito of Intimacy



POLYGESTALT RUMINATES:

OK. So, I've been thinking a lot about the kind of relationships I want in my life. That lead me to start thinking about how I classify them. I haven't formally organized relationship classes until now, but my mind has always been a bit structured. Classes with a sexual intimacy component would be open to women only, at this time.

LIFE PARTNER
Intimacy: Love Bond, Friendship & Sexual
Reliability: Expected emotional and/or physical support
Communication: Daily
Face-to-Face Time: Daily
Common Interests: At least more than one
Economic Entanglement: Gift giving, integrated finances and cohabitation
Comments: Not sure if I could support more than one of these. If I did, my dance card would probably be very near capacity.

HEART KEEPER
Intimacy: Love Bond, Friendship & Sexual
Reliability: Some emotional and/or physical support within certain contexts
Communication: Nearly Daily
Face-to-Face Time: Weekly
Common Interests: At least one
Economic Entanglement: Gift giving
Comments: I could probably maintain either one high-intensity Heart Keeper, or up to two regular-intensity ones.

PLAYMATE
Intimacy: Friendship & Sexual
Reliability: Limited emotional support
Communication: Weekly to Monthly
Face-to-Face Time: Two to four weeks
Common Interests: Preferably, at least one
Economic Entanglement: None (possibly spontaneous gift-giving not tied to holiday)
Comments: I could support... hmmm... maybe four of these.

FAMILY (Non-nuclear blood relations)
Intimacy: Family Bond & Friendship
Reliability: Somewhere between expected and limited emotional and/or physical support
Communication: Weekly to Semi-annually
Face-to-Face Time: Monthly to Semi-annually
Common Interests: Probably not!
Economic Entanglement: Gift-giving.
Comments: While my daughter would also fall under the heading of family, obviously the parameters would be very different in her specific case. I don't want to create a whole seperate class for her. The stats above are for other blood relations. I have plenty of these peeps.

FLIRTATION CIRCLE
Intimacy: From light to deep friendship
Reliability: Possibly some emotional support depending on friendship depth
Communication: Weekly to monthly
Face-to-Face Time: Monthly to quarterly
Common Interests: Hopefully more than one
Economic Entanglement: Depending on friendship depth.
Comments: This is extremely close to my feelings on friendship, but is a kind of transitionary domain. These are women I generally hope will shift our connection into Playmate or Heart Keeper. But I also have female friends who I have a "just friends" pact with.

FRIEND
Intimacy: From light to deep friendship
Reliability: Possibly some emotional support depending on friendship depth
Communication: Weekly to monthly
Face-to-Face Time: Monthly to quarterly
Common Interests: Hopefully more than one
Economic Entanglement: Possibly gift giving, depending on friendship depth.
Comments: I have a pretty good amount of these. And actually there's quite a variety of expression in this category. The communication and face-to-face time are just the average parameters; it could be way more frequent or infrequent depending on individual cases.

ASSOCIATE
Intimacy: None
Reliability: None
Communication: Various
Face-to-Face Time: Various
Common Interests: Only one
Economic Entanglement: None
Comments: Maybe it's a person I know from work or maybe a person who I share a single point of connection with. (Most often that connection would be a shared interest in a game or intellectual point of view.) Could be just about anyone.

=======

Reliability Note: I'm just talking about general expectations here. Of course, circumstances are going to vary from relationship-to-relationship and individual incidents. Emotional support entails both verbal and non-verbal support of a person going through tough times. Physical support would be physical assistance to a hurt or sick partner.

Finding the sweet spot


Partner selection. It continues to come up over and over again! Right now, I'm looking at the idea of dating outside the house hold as a possibility, and keep getting stuck in my own feedback loop of possible outcomes. One of the key factors that I keep running up against is the availability factor, particularly regarding time and emotional availability.

Here are issues I've encountered before and don't want to have a repeat performance in: Dating partners who: won't schedule time to spend together, have WAY more time or energy available than I do, or want to date me so much that they pretend to be poly or bi, rather than mono or gay.
Having two full time relationships, a business, a couple of dogs and kids to wrangle, time is a pretty limiting factor, as is the availability of relationship time. So, what would the ideal situation look like? I'd like to find someone who has a similar profile, so that they aren't waiting by the phone for a call either, but also a person that I connect with well enough to want to prioritize spending time with.

On the other hand, I don't really have time or energy to accommodate an additional Relationship, capital R. Rather, a nice relationship, lower case r, would suit nicely! Weekly, or every other week, dates would be grand, anything more than that looks a lot like hanging out at the house with me.

So, now that I've gotten parts of my personal ad written, what are some of the factors that feed into your partner selection criteria? How do you find the sweet spot between attraction and availability? How do you pass on a good connection that isn't going to execute well in practical terms? Share what's working for you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Conversion

You meet this really great person! They are fantastic in nearly every way, you click on a wide variety of levels, have huge commonalities, they're funny, smart, sexy...and monogamous.

But, but, but... I can show them how fantastic poly is! Sure, they _say_ they're mono, but maybe they'd be open to poly, if they really like me. Maybe we can do mono/poly! Sure, that's it, there's my out! I'll be poly, and they can keep being mono, and we'll have this great wonderful relationship. It'll all work out, if they like me enough to give this a shot.

Um, this is like taking a straight person and making them gay in just this one case. If someone is in a relationship with a poly person just to be with that specific person, chances are really good that there is some level of coercion being felt.

The mono/poly situations I've seen that are working well involve a mono person that is poly in almost every way as far as their approach to relationships, excepting the application of addition people on a personal level. They see the ways that being with a poly partner benefits them personally, and aren't doing it to please anyone.

On the other hand, let's say you meet this great person from the first paragraph, as you are getting to know them (but before you are actually in a relationship with them!) you share that you are polyamorous. They ask what that is, they see the relationships you already have (if you are currently partnered), they seem to show interest on a personally applicable level, as though this is something that they've been wanting, but never thought possible. You may just have something here!

This is about how the relationship with S began. He knew us, knew about our relationship style, and sure, the motivation to be with me was a biggie, but polyamory, as a philosophy or set of ideals, had personal resonance for him. He'd also decided that monogamy wasn't a relationship model that worked for him.

He read, he asked questions, he exposed himself to things that were outside his previous experience, he acknowledged it when he made mistakes, corrected, and moved forward. Yep, I knew there was a learning curve to get through, and while I was willing to support and encourage, there was a lot that he had to do for, and by, himself.

Conversion from mono to poly is possible. Almost all of us made that transition, but the key factor remains personal choice. Going from mono to poly to be with someone specific is like losing weight to please another. The pounds inevitably come back, because the change wasn't motivated for, and by, self. The change must come from the convert, and not the converter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poly by Numbers


In the early NRE days of the relationship with S, PG introduced us to the Defcon System. Since then, I've learned that we did it numerically backwards, but since we started it that way, I think we're stuck with it.

Based on the system the military uses to denote its state of readiness, this was a numerical scale that helped S and I to realize if we were treading towards waters that were far murkier than we had suspected! ;)

Defcon 1= operations as normal, all is well in the world!

Defcon 2 = twinges of unease, but still well within the realm of simple corrective discussions.

Defcon 3= significantly noticeable distress and fear about the direction something was going, need to talk soon.

Defcon 4= anger, shutting down lines of communication, feeling disregarded, must talk NOW!

Defcon 5= I'm out of here!

We actually hit Defcon 4 once, when S and I went house shopping a couple months after we started dating. Nope, I wasn't drunk with NRE, not at all! After that, during this period of the relationship, we'd use the defcon as a check in strategy. "Hi Sweetie! I'm glad you're home so I can go out on a date! Love you! Bye!" Might be met with a "Defcon 3!" and a change in plans for the evening... ;) There was a 3.5 when S and PG's other partner kissed. There is such a thing as too much sharing, even for poly people!

On the flip side, when things were much more consistently in a 1-2 range, it was an indication that the strategies and ideas being implemented were moving things in a useful direction, something that would be more sustainable.

I actually kind of like Defcon 2's as an opportunity to give some attention to something _before_ it hits crisis proportions. These are things like time management, use of resources, finding focus time together, kid stuff, boundary negotiations and looking at blind spots that need illumination.

Standard check-ins are good as well, but we've found additional value in the numerical approach because it presents more simple view of how important something is, both in urgency and in emotional impact. It can make a difference between: "Let's set a time to talk about x this weekend." and "If you do this, I will feel that you don't value me as a partner very much."

This can also work well when someone is feeling triggered to a point where they aren't articulating well, or is experiencing the amorphous "Something isn't right..." feeling. They can start with a number, and not have to worry about specifics right away, while still advising their partner(s) that is is important stuff! When I hear a 3 from someone, I know that this is sensitive material that requires a more cautious approach, and that's good information to have entering a conversation!

Poly by numbers might seem a bit trite on the surface, but it's been a good tool for us, particularly in metamour relations and NRE. "What do you need from me to get to a 1 again?", "What actions are pushing you up to a 3?", "How can we structure this agreement so your baseline doesn't get above a 2?". Find the snapshot that opens up insight into your partners head and heart, and things smooth out at that point.




Monday, April 13, 2009

But this is hard work!


I've heard many times from other poly people, or every once in a while, in my own head, an expression of how hard it is to be in relationship with another person, and how hard it is to be poly in particular, due to the geometric progression of complexity when more people are involved. Is this true, or is it a construct that has been pushed upon us, to our detriment?


There's a perception that if you "Do the work." things will be better. I'm starting to shy away from the idea that relationships are, or should be, viewed as work. Instead, I'm leaning towards a model from yoga of "effortless effort". This is an idea where one strives in the direction of their personal best, without being vested in a specific goal or outcome. Rather than working on my relationships, I'm going to do my personal best, continue to grow, continue to communicate, negotiate, and enjoy those connections _without_ making them into a job, where I expect to be "paid" for the time and effort I'm expending.


“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.” -James Albert Michener (1907 - 1997) A friend shared this quote with me, and, other than the religion bit and masculine pronouns, this seems to be a great approach to life and love that would be more joyous than the work ethic that we all grew up with.


Relationships are more of a meritocracy, where achievement and excellence are rewarded by abundance in personal resources. When someone is successful in their relationship(s), it is something that others notice, and want to emulate or be a part of. (Except for the ones that want to tear down what they don't seem able to manifest in their own lives.) One of my proudest moments was at a poly group where someone was a bit aghast at our household setup as being fairly extreme, even for poly, and another person there chimed in that they'd seen a lot of poly groups and ours was "one of the good ones."


To be a part of "one of the good ones", not because I've worked so hard, but because the energy investment has lead to the creation of something beautiful that supports me well, that's something to continue to put some effortless effort towards. ;)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

That which survives...

...is not always the same.

POLYGESTALT COMPARES THEN AND NOW.

I've been thinking lately about my friend s1m0n. A lot of people reading this blog don't have any of the back history. So, here's the nutshell.

We met each other on a local multi-phone-line BBS called Foundation Earth around 1992. I had just recently moved back in to live with my parents from a stint away in college. BBS's were an important social networking node for me as I had no local friends in the city where my parents retired. We played role-playing games (RPGs) both online and in person. (Back in the day when an online RPG meant either just writing text stories or playing on a MUD -- we were the text-writing sorts.)

Back then, s1m0n was known more for his creativity than his business acumen. Although, sometimes distracted by rules ("Read the docs!") or character nuance ("Newton's hair is not blue!"), s1m0n was (and still is) one of the best storytellers I know when he puts his mind to it. Couple that with a flair for drawing and I totally thought he was going to write comic books or go down a much more creative path.

But ya know, we all change. While he was always a very motivated person, within the first few years that I knew him, he kicked his ambition into high gear. His priorities shifted and he began to devote more of his energy into both business development and computers. He became a father -- anyone who has gone through that knows that certainly shifts your priorities even further. (As I'm also a father, I totally understand.)

Over the period from 1997 to 2007, s1m0n and I saw each other less and less -- to the lowest point which was seeing each other once or twice a year even though we lived in the same city. His last wife's "no friends" insecurity mandate was most of the reason for the last few years of that.

Then in 2007, he and my wife developed a deeper bond and suddenly he was slammed back into my life in a full time capacity unprecedented in our relationship. I was seeing him all the time, but doubts abounded. How much of his desire to be here was my wife and how much was his friendship with me? Without crawling into his brain, I doubt there's a way to really evaluate that, but I came to accept the situation as a positive one.

So, how are things now? Well, although I see him on a daily basis now, I'm not sure just how close we are. I guess it fluxuates. Most of the time, I'm glad to have a great metamor that handles his life responsibly and treats my wife with the love and respect she deserves. Sometimes, I feel like there is something between us that bends the friendship from feeling completely comfortable -- a princess and the pea kind of feeling. I'm not sure how much of that feeling is just simply having to live with a partner that I'm not romantically attached to and sharing life responsibilities with. And how much is some mild sense of lingering rivalry over our shared womanly resource.

Things are just different.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Fulcrum?


I was browsing through some poly dictionary stuff today and noticed that the term I use for my place in this relationship structure isn't there. The words that I see noted are "pivot" and "hinge". It got me to thinking about why I opted to go with fulcrum?


It has to do with what a fulcrum is. A point, somewhere between more than one object, that the system balances on. To me, pivot is a term that denotes turning from one thing to another, and that isn't terribly descriptive of what I want to manifest. Hinge sounds more like opening to one thing, while closing to another, again, not what I am seeking.


For me, being the person in between is an active space to occcupy. I have taken two (or more) people into my life that aren't in relationship with each other, and asked them to co-exist on a great many levels. My job is to keep the system as close to balanced as possible, and that requires conscious effort at times. It's a bit of a responsibility, but hopefully they're having fun like the folks in the picture. ;)

Symptom or cause?

When there is an issue going on within the circle of relationships, how do you differentiate between the issues being a symptom of something going on within the relationship(s) or a particular person being the cause of problems? There are many times where an outside connection can bring to light some patterns or weaknesses in the existing relationship(s), but when there is a pattern of issues being connected to a specific person, how does one make the distinction?


Perhaps it has nothing to do with the actual person, and more to do with a difference in style of polyamory, or in communication styles? If relationship expectations are different, why wouldn't there be consistent issues cropping up? Let's say there's an introvert dating an extrovert, well, there are some different types of language that might be needed to bridge that gap, perhaps even with a "translator" person at some points.

Prevailing opinion would lead one to believe that the secondary relationship isn't the problem, it's just the spotlight that brings those issues to the surface. I suppose from the context of "picker problems" this could be true. Even if the metamour in question is a bringer of drama, someone picked them as partner material. Shoot, show me the poly person that's never made a poor pick. As I suspected... ;)

When you've spent time and energy on a direct or indirect connection with someone, there is an investment in them. The desire to "make it work" is huge! So undoing "picker problems" is tough for all concerned. When I see people drifting from things they considered core to accommodate that, that's where a small difference can become a bigger issue.

Having strong personal boundaries is a good place to start. With poly, the difficulty can come where you implicitly trust one partner, but perhaps not the metamour on that same level. How do you maintain a boundary with the metamour without cutting yourself off from the fulcrum partner? I'm working on this diligently, so please bring on the insight!

Friday, April 10, 2009

PolyTripod Forums are Open!


Okay now - we're ready to roll with our new forums:


When you're there, you'll have to register to post in the forums; unfortunately the user credential isn't the same between here (Google's Blogger) and AdultForumHost.

Enjoy!
s1m0n

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Programming Note


Just adding labels to all of the posts. This is a process: I'm going back through the hundreds of posts and trying to tack on labels, and I'll probably have to do three rounds of this or so to make sure I capture every idea. The labels can be found now to the right-hand nav bar.

s1m0n

Coming Soon!

We'll be adding discussion forums to this blog within the week. What sorts of categories within poly would you be interested in seeing? Please comment with your input and we'll make it happen!

Monday, April 6, 2009

An Ode to Redheads


At lunch today with David and PolyFulcrum (PF), I recounted a few of my past partners and concluded that I've an extraordinary attraction to redheads.

You see, I think there was this programming going all the way back to pre-teen years and finding Velma of ScoobyDoo rather desirable; the redhead librarian (jinkies!). Then there was Molly Ringwald, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, and Milla Jovovich: all caught in the naughty subliminal loops of teen masturbation. I ended up with some heavy crushes in high school and one of them was a redhead to the core; she was a hard one to let go. Then there were the rash of former girlfriends and wives with red hair - I counted four today at lunch and that includes PF. Woops. Five. Forgot about Gretchen.

So, anyway, I had to ask myself: what is it about the redhead? Yes, what is it about the breed that captures my attention? Out of the real-world examples that I've had the pleasure of knowing, there are a couple of things that stand out.

1. Skin.

Porcelain white covered with darling freckles across their shoulders, up the side of their neck and down their arms, maybe dotting their noses and running across their thighs or small of their back. Ravishing. The contrast between their neckline and their hair - particularly if cut in a European Bob - is exquisite yet I'm not quick to discount the idea of collapsing red locks across soft creamy complexion. Nothing is as perfect as watching her asleep, pacing her soft breath, with bright crimson shot across her brow, down her cheeks. Like finger paint. Simply devastating.

2. Intelligence and Witt.

I've found that the redhead possesses a keen intellect. Every redhead that I've dated has inspired me and has engaged me in meaningful conversation, and they've had a stunning sense of humor. It's not purely academic though - sometimes their smarts are subtle and more of a culmination of informed practical perspectives.  The redhead is engaging and maybe she knows it; flaunts it more than the blonde or the brunette. Some of my most fondest memories are holding her, from behind, and mounds of red hair up all in my face, while she reads or tells me about her day, or as she reexamined her actions in the past.  Conversation in red.

3. Eyes.

Contrast the white complexion, the stark red of her hair, and the bright ruby glare of her lips, and between all that, the redhead looks at you - penetrates you - with a stare that peels away whatever skin you had at the time: over-confidence, zeal, insecurity. It's the tiny little stares as she glances upward from a wine glass, their brilliance when she's laughing, or, their sheer depth when you sink into her pools of blue, hazel, or green. The redhead's eyes are intoxicating: the essence of her and who she has yet to become is so revealed.

4. Drive, Power, Sexuality.

I adore the redhead because of their outspokenness, their penchant for achievement, and their intense sense of sexuality and sexual presence. All of the redheaded women that I've dated thoroughly enjoyed sex (well, all but one, but I fear she lost her drive for other reasons) and reveled in private times together; it's when they let their guard down, and let themselves be who they are. Personally, I'm attracted to power - I love it when a woman commands a room, or, demands attention just by her voice, or, with her substance, her hair, or her legs; when she strives to do the things that fulfills her; when she achieves the little milestones or the major accomplishments. It's not about money. It's the power of their will; forces of nature.

5. Sensitivity.

Finally, every redhead that I've ever met loved to touch and be touched, and was moved with poetry, sensitive expression, meaningful exchanges, distant views, and thoughtful gifts. For all of her flaws, my ex-wife was one of the most sensitive people that I had ever met which, unfortunately, brought her to highly emotional and vulnerable states and then she'd collapse into the relative security of being angry or frustrated. With the redhead, every caress is felt, like, ripples across a still pond, and she responds like no other. Not the blonde who giggles or writhes like she's being tickled; not the brunette whose thoughts always seem absent, elsewhere; the redhead shudders: she trembles and she shakes.

Curious that the redhead is the most rare of hair colors among women: nature's unique expression; genetic works of art. And sure, maybe you can buy a bit of color these days - paint the carpet the same color as the drapes - but that doesn't make the head red, for hers is the most disquieted of souls, unapologetic, immersed, and vulnerable. I think you can tell a real redhead long before you've undressed her - her secret's found in her stare.

s1m0n


N-O. Such a small word to have so many connotations surrounding it! In a tangent from a comment on the asking and giving post, let us examine some ways that we can handle this short, yet potent, word!

"When I ask a partner for something, how do I know I'm not asking for too much?" Ask any parent of a toddler, and they will be very clear that the use of the word "no" is one of the very first verbalizations that come on line, and it is used with a high degree of frequency. Why then, in the intervening years, do we forget how to use this word with those closest to us? If you ask for something that is too much for your partner to give, use of the word "no" is indicated. What if it isn't used? Well, the likely outcome is a partner that is doing something they don't want to do, for someone else's benefit. This may also be known as "martyring". See also "resentment", "angst" and "victim".


Why would someone do that to themselves? My suspicions include the idea that it comes back to social training, particularly around the piece that says we are supposed to be all things to our partner. This is the person you LOVE! Why would you say no to them? You are supposed to bend over backwards to "make them happy". Read that again, and tell me that this isn't something that might need some reprogramming. It's pervasive. Particularly for women, the desire to please is fairly ingrained and culturally reinforced, specifically with those we are emotionally bonded to.


When a request is made that is beyond our emotional or practical capacity, it can be hard to say no. We like to pretend that our capacity to support the needs of our partner(s) is infinite, but alas, we still have our own limitations, and saying no can be an explicit statement of that particular "failing". Still, when that is pulled out and examined by the light of day, it is obvious that the idea of having no boundaries is ridiculous!


It seems more palatable to have boundaries that are set up in advance than to acknowledge those limits in the moment. Let's say you have a boundary about meeting a potential metamour before things go to a sexual level. You haven't been able to coordinate schedules to mesh up yet, but your partner comes to you and says they would like to get your okay on sex for their date this evening. Do you: A) Waffle, waffle, waffle, well, if you really think that's what you want to do... B) Say "No, for now. Here are some times we could meet in the next few days so that we can move into that territory more comfortably." or C) Sure! Go for it. (Subtext: I'm going to make you suffer for this though!)?


Now, in theory, you have a simple boundary, and you think your partner is totally aware of this, so why are they making the request? The gall! It's easy to forget when someone nudges it that boundaries _do_ move, so perhaps your partner is just checking to see if you still feel this is an important line to hold.


Another reason a partner may be reluctant to give a "no" is the way that no's have been responded to in the past, either by you or another partner. If a no has lead to hellacious drama and gnashing of teeth, the incentive isn't there to be totally honest. Finding a way to give a "soft no", where the word never actually comes up, is usually sought at this point. Maybe it's a reminder that there was an agreed on boundary, or that the timing just isn't right, or that when certain conditions are met, there would be a yes in the offing, but there can be reluctance to be fully up front with a firm negative. Create a safe place within your relationship to disagree, and show your partner that you are willing to hear their no with respect, even if you still don't agree.


When I was a girl, going to church with my family, one of the questions that came up pretty regularly was "God didn't answer my prayers." My father would always reply the same way. "Sometimes, you get a yes, sometimes you get a no, sometimes you get a not right now. They are all answers." Just because the answer you get isn't the one you were hoping for doesn't make it bad information to have!


Another complication is the story telling one can do. Let's say you want to approach a partner with a request, but you think they'll say no. Many of us will come up with ways to avoid making the request because the outcome is considered a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, there are times where our imaginations run farther afield than is useful! I can't even count the number of times where I ponied up a question, waiting for the axe to fall, and got an easy yes, or a quick fix to get one. Consensus is nice, but a simple yes or no can have more clarity.

Within the poly community there is a perception that having a definitive opinion is trying to control one's partner. If you are looking to give or deny permission, this is likely true. If you are sharing what your personal opinion is without ambiguity, not to force behavior, but to inform, this is what a healthy "no" is all about.




Friday, April 3, 2009

Giving what you want to receive, or asking for it?

There was a debate going on in a forum I read concerning the ideas of giving what you want to receive, or asking for what you want. This could be the shortest blog post ever, with me saying that doing both is really the way to go, but brevity is apparently not my strongest suit, so let's delve into those ideas a bit more!

"Ask for what you want." It's just about front page on any poly manual out there. Your partners aren't psychic. You want something? Just wo(man) up and say so! Hmmmm... yet, why would we need to cover this over and over again if it weren't quite so simple for most of us? Societal training, particularly for women, says that you should wait for things to be offered to you, hint around it, make suggestions, or otherwise obfuscate what you _really_ want.

Apparently, it isn't lady-like to say: "I really want you to bury your face in my womanly-bits until I pull you up for air." Go figure. Instead, we are trained to be subtle, or just do without needs being met until such time as your partner spontaneously finds themselves interested in the same idea. Of course, by that point, it's likely that toys have been employed and the need no longer exists, but there's still a bit of resentment at being "denied" what was desired by one's own silence. Passive-aggressive much?

"Give what you want to receive." This sounds great in theory, but there are times where it just doesn't fit. Let's say that I'm kinky (just theoretically, you understand...), and that I want to enjoy public play as the Dominant. I offer that up to my partner, waiting for them to appreciate that gift. Hmmmm... they are vanilla, and not into public play. Well shoot, what do I do now?

This idea works better in intention than in specifics. Let's use the above example and instead of that specific scenario, I offer up an evening out, handling all of the childcare arrangements, so that there is a slot of totally free time available for use by my partner. This is getting closer, but let's face it, giving a gift and expecting reciprocation isn't much of a gift. Until I open up my mouth and say: "I'd really like to schedule an evening out, totally free of kids, to run a scene at a party. Here are a few times that events are running in the next month. Can we get that on the schedule, as well as a similar time slot for you to enjoy?" there is just an amorphous blob of vague wants and expectations that aren't likely to find the desired path on their own. It's the difference between going north, hoping to hit Canada, and plotting out a course with a specific route in mind. One is going to be MUCH more direct than the other.

On the flip side, let's suppose you want something. You best be prepared to set that up for your partners in return! Let's say you're the first one to have an outside partner. When the time comes that the shoe is on the other foot, work on wrestling any "But it's _different_ when it's you!" sorts of thoughts to the ground. They don't belong. You asked for it from them, you want it from them, pony up on your side of things!

Being upfront in negotiation with partners is really the fastest and easiest way to get what you want without jumping through a lot of extraneous hoops. Even if you get a no, at least you are aware of what you're working with, instead of waiting for the Relationship Parity Fairy to swoop down and bestow the perfect resolution.

Men, in contrast, have the idea that expressing a need is, well, needy and perhaps emasculating. They might do some of the same things, as far as indirectly asking, as a woman would do, but not usually for the same reasons. For example, I know a proud male Massage Slut. I am open to giving him massage, but find the approach of pathetic whimpering and whining with lots of hints to be less than appealing. ;) I'd rather just have a direct request, say yes (or no), and put a time frame around it. It's not needy to make a request, it's needy to expect someone to _notice_ that you _want_ to make a request.

Continuing to be aware of what your needs are, and how you generally go about trying to bring those needs to the attention of others in your life is an area of growth for most of us. Often, I find that if I'm feeling frustrated with my partners, it's because I didn't ask for something, or they didn't. Back-tracking and picking up that missed connection is usually a big step in the direction of resolution and getting everyone on the same page. Give what you want to receive, but also make sure you are communicating that clearly. The Relationship Parity Fairy will be pleased with you...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mono/poly

There was a post I read in a forum that was vociferous in its defense of mono/poly relationships. Seriously cursing, no punctuation, no caps, no style, sort of argument. It was truly appalling (the poster, not the idea). The basic point of contention was that they had gotten static from other poly people telling them that they were doing poly "wrong", that they were being selfish. Since I've heard this from other poly people, I guess they may have had a point.

We all have the right to do our relationships anyway we see fit. However, the assumption, even among the poly community, is often that in a mono/poly pairing, the mono partner is sacrificing something, perhaps by being in a relationship style that doesn't suit them personally, to stay with the poly partner.

Some of the more functional poly folk I've met are with mono partners. The way this seems to work best is if the mono partner doesn't perceive sexuality as really that much different than any other form of socialization. Emotional connection is seen as an abundant commodity, and their poly partners do an exceptional job of creating a base of trust to work from. They need to be willing to speak up for themselves and have well-defined boundaries, including the capacity to negotiate and form connections with their metamours. In short, all the qualities of any well-functioning poly partner, but choosing to be monogamous themselves.

That the mono partner might change their mind and exercise the option to become poly is also something that seems important to mono/poly pairings. Where knickers get all twisted up is when the idea of choice is taken off the table. Even if it's not exercised, it needs to be there.

Being functionally poly in all directions myself, I don't have a lot of experience to draw off of when it comes to mono/poly. What direct experience I do have comes from spending time where one of my partners wanted to manifest an outside relationship and wasn't able to at that time. Either there were too many other responsibilities to afford the time to connect with someone, or there wasn't a suitable candidate to bring on board. It seems we're all agreed that it's better to be "poly single" than to insert a poorly matched partner, or try to satisfy too many demands on one's attention.

When you are the poly partner in a relationship where your partner is, at least in practical application, mono, guilty feelings may arise about having something in life that one's partner also wants. Another possibility is being in a position where one is looking forward to their partner having a secondary, not only for the positive impact on their growth in life, but also to alleviate pressure on the relationship from being the footloose poly partner while the mono partner is all nose-to-the-grind stone. The amount of concern that a poly partner might feel, the desire to make sure the mono partner is "really okay", can branch into martyrdom or taking on responsibility for the feelings of another.

As the mono partner, it is imperative to develop coping strategies and a strong support network outside of your poly partner to help work through the challenges that are primarily your responsibility. While there are a great many things that are within the purview of the relationship, there are pieces that belong to you, and would be best served with outside input, or structured action that helps you work through your own emotions.

Let's run an example: Let's say your partner is off on a date. You've asked for what you needed as far as support from them, and are still having feelings of anxiety. What do you do? Some strategies that may be helpful include setting up a different social opportunity for yourself, gaming, catching a movie, working on a project, cleaning, journaling, or working. If it's something that you can feel good about, plug it into that space and give yourself some emotional breathing room. Again, these are the same sorts of strategies that poly/poly partners would want to develop, so it can be very useful for mono partners to participate in poly groups, gaining these types of skills that serve their personal needs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who sleeps with me?


Please note: Picture is not of us! We have two different beds. ;)


One of the questions that people ask me fairly often concerns "sleeping arrangements". How exactly does that whole thing work? Who "gets me" on a given night? Is there a schedule? Does seniority count? Does the low man on the totem pole get me during my period? Is there a way to earn extra time? Yes, I have actually had people ask. My first response is usually a giggle. Like I'm some amazing prize to be bestowed upon the lucky man?!?! While I have a healthy sense of my own worth, I don't think it's that big a deal.


So you really want to know? I actually wanted a schedule, but both guys said no to that idea. They wanted _me_ to decide. No pressure! So this is the system we came up with: I sleep where I want, generally with an alternating night schedule, unless someone has a different preference. Let's say that S is getting up at ungodly o'clock to teach a class, I would choose to sleep with PG. Perhaps PG has a date and is likely to be out or up late entertaining, I sleep with S.


This has been working pretty well so far. The key policy that keeps it going is that, if someone has a particular need, they are mandated to speak up. There are no allowances for "But I kind of wanted you to sleep with _me_ last night, but you didn't, and now I feel neglected, jealous and/or unimportant." Did you ask? Nope! Do better next time.


I do make efforts to "tuck in" whatever partner isn't in bed with me on a given night, as well as snuggle in the morning when practical to do so. It's a nice way to reconnect, particularly in that half-asleep/half-awake state that creates a nice sense of intimacy and warmth.


You'll notice that this system is highly dependent on all of us being grown up enough to recognize our own needs and use our big boy and big girl words. There isn't a way that everyone is going to get everything they want all the time, but you can get pretty close to it when you follow that general guideline.


As for tonight, I just don't know. I had a migraine last night, so I don't think passing out at 7pm in a particular bed really counts towards the "sleeping together" tally for the week. On the other hand, one of the guys is going to be out a while this evening, so maybe that means a late night out? More information is needed, but in the end it always comes down to personal choice. Maybe a coin toss?