Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There's a Naked Man in My Shower

Nearly every morning when I wake up, there is a naked man in my shower.
No. This isn't him. It is, though, a picture representing a man in the shower. What fun.

When I stroll in - often quite naked myself - there is a mutual manly grunt of morning recognition and we go about doing our regular routines: I shave my face, brush my teeth, apply a q-tip to my inner ears; he'll do the same and shave his head.

Now, many males may find this unnerving and - I have to admit - it took a little while to get used to. Walking into a restroom with a naked woman in the shower... there is precedent for this. You're used to the curves, the hot water, the bubbly goodness running down her... ahem, anyway. Slightly different on a guy. Yikes! No curves, lots of hair, and soap doesn't look like that on me, does it? Unless you're living at the Y, it's not too often that the modern male encounters another guy in the stall.

A couple of pointers for the poly male:

1. Say hello, or, grunt. Don't move too quickly by but don't linger around either. He's a great guy and your housemate, after all, and he deserves some morning recognition or in the least a casual noise to reflect your joy in seeing him alive today.

2. Focus. You have a lot to do. He does, too. You're both likely running late.

3. Urinal-Like-Conversation. Now, for males, this isn't difficult to understand. With a urinal, you step up to the plate, whip out your Willie, and relieve yourself while making casual, trite, 30-second conversation and keeping the eyes on the tiles in front of your nose. "Weather sucks", or, "How 'bout them Blazers?", or, for the geek, "What do you think happened to Jane on Serenity after he left the planet on which he was treated as a hero?" In this case, you're staring into the mirror and getting the morning work done but the principles are still the same.

4. No Big Ideas. Avoid the big discussions. The bathroom is really just a staging area. You can talk later when you're eating breakfast at the kitchen table.

With these simple ideas in mind, the modern poly male can circumnavigate the tricky and awkward silence that may accompany the morning trip to the restroom. Remember that - even though your connections may be limitless - you've all got just one bathroom to share, so mind your P's and Q's. Just one more friendly tip from the Tripod.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Programming Note

Well, the end of another quarter and the numbers speak for themselves:

Pretty impressive for a wee little blog! And we so couldn't do it without you guys, the readers - so thank you!

So I made a few changes to the layout today:

1. Added RSS feed capability to the blog.

2. Added a feed from PolyamoryWeekly. If you scroll down, you can link-out to get the latest episodes.

3. Added a video feed to 3DogPictures - those guys up in Seattle who do The Family polyamory series? Anyway, you can get those here now, too!

4. I also added a convenient tag that lets you know when one of us are talking.

5. Finally, the nav bar to the right got a layout change just to re-organize things a tad.

So, yeah!
Thanks for reading and being such a great part of our lives!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Island, peninsula, or part of the continent?


There are several major models of polyamory that involve varying levels of privilege and responsibility between the various people in relationship together. One of the ways we see this expressed is in hierarchical language, like primary, secondary and tertiary. This tends to denote how the practical application of connection works, but there are a lot of people that don't like this language, finding it demeaning or limiting.

I'm looking at trying a different model of how to relate based on the degree that a person wants to be responsible to others, as well as the privileges they might have a reasonable expectation of having access to: Island, peninsula or continent.

An "island" person would be someone who prefers strongly to be very independent. They don't want to run decisions past others, participate in consensus within a group, be "on call" to anothers' emotional or physical needs, and might see those levels of entanglement to be co-dependent or undesirable. Relationships are loosely defined, if at all, although they tend to have intense emotions surrounding relationships. Giving and receiving are seen as independent choices with no strings attached to islands.

A "peninsula" person still values their independence highly, but sees value in having some connection on an on-going basis with others. They will participate in consensus, but may still go their own way at any time. Give a little, get a little, but seldom at expense of their own goals or objectives. Connections may be strong, but are often less entwined in daily living. Giving and receiving usually run pretty quid pro quot, with a balance being sought.

A "continent" type looks to build strong tensile strength in their networks. Consensus is highly important, to the point that some of their own desires and needs can be sublimated for the health of the group. The deep level of commitment to their relationships may cause them to appear to be dependent on their partners at times. They value responsibility, and have a tendency to over-give. Giving and receiving are important parts of why they are in relationships with others, and connections feel less significant if there isn't a level of responsibility attached.

How do these (admittedly highly general approaches!) work in application? One possibility- Let's say you have a "island" dating a "continent": The continent is looking for a level of connection involving responsibility and intimacy that the island is likely to find stifling, and may feel rebuffed when their requests for help are declined. The island may be confused as to why their personal decisions are questioned, or that their partner wants them to participate more fully within daily life. In this case it may be helpful to find someone who knows how to build bridges, or have each partner move more closely toward a peninsula mindset.

Would it be helpful to understand the general approaches that a potential partner has on independence, entanglement, responsibility and privileges before starting a relationship? Of course! Even after the fact, it can be very useful to "retrofit" a relationship to allow more flexibility between styles, as well as just understand when someone has a totally different take on the word "relationship" than you do.

One thing that can be very challenging is when rights and privileges are desired without the accompanying responsibilities or vice versa. This can look a little like S's 11 year old saying she wants a cell phone. Alas, she doesn't have a job, has no way to pay for that item, as well as monthly upkeep on it. In the same way, someone that doesn't put into the relationship "bank" may find themselves short when the time comes that they want to make a withdrawal. Whereas, someone who gives to a person that doesn't record their deposits will be shocked to find that there is no running balance when they need to pay an unexpected bill.

FYI: I'm a continent with peninsula leanings. How about you? ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009


Hey yall -

Favorite blogs or forums that you like to attend in your pursuit of better poly? Here's a couple of mine...






Always on the look out for a better read. What's in your bookmarks?


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Parallel doesn't mean congruent


So I had an epiphany yesterday. There was a recent situation that came up with a metamour where I realized that we had a very different underlying philosophy about something. The past several years, our actions had been in concert, and my thought (read: assumption) was that, because our actions were running in parallel, that meant our underlying motivations were also congruent. Yeah, I know, it sounds totally common sense when I lay it out there, but I think it's actually a pretty common communications error.

Have you ever been surprised at someone experiencing the same event, but having an entirely different take on what happened? This is why eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable. One would think that when in relationship with someone, you'd be in a position to figure out what is going on in their head a little more. Instead, we just fill in the blanks with whatever seems to fit.

When actions look the same, that MUST mean that the motivations are the same too, right? Well, what if this isn't someone that you are even in a direct relationship with? How are you supposed to be able to figure out what's going on in their head? You are pretty well confined to going off of actions, and when they don't fit what you had previously observed, it can be pretty shocking!

Remember the poly law of not expecting your partners to be psychic. Oh yeah, that one! Let's just extend that out so that you aren't expecting yourself to be psychic either. If someone doesn't choose to share information with you, how are you supposed to know any different? You're not. Damn, there goes my Omnipotence Badge...

So, if someones' actions don't necessarily indicate a similar viewpoint, how do you know what they think? Ask them. Back to square one, where we use, and ask others to use, their big girl and big boy words. Aren't there ANY shortcuts here?

The tough part of having this dissonance between what you _thought_ someone believed and what they actually do, is that there could be some retrofitting to do on the relationship. Let's say that you thought that someone also had hierarchical relationship models (believed that use of primary, secondary, and tertiary designations was useful) because they never said any differently and seemed to be cool being a "secondary", right up to the point where suddenly, well, they weren't. So what _do_ they believe? How does that look? Is there any way to fit that in with the existing relationship model, or is there a need to create a whole new way of looking at that connection? See previous paragraph for instructions in this case. ;)

What is useful to take away from this thought is that missing things that happen primarily in other people's head is to be expected. How you move forward from that point is up to the parties involved. Perspectives shift, and sometimes something that was true years ago isn't so today. Enlightening your partners to those changes is helpful to all parties that are connected. There may even come a time where parallel course of action is matched with parallel thoughts.

s1m0n's User Manual - Section 1

This End-User License Agreement ("Agreement" or "EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and s1m0n ("a Human Being") for the release of software known as "My Personality", and any updates, bug fixes, enhancements, additions, documentation, and any other related materials provided by s1m0n.

The terms and conditions of this EULA are separate and apart from those contained in any other agreement between s1m0n and you. BY INSTALLING, COPYING OR OTHERWISE USING S1M0N, YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS OF THIS EULA. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THIS EULA, DO NOT INSTALL, COPY OR USE S1M0N.


Current Build: 3.2.0

Overview of Fixes in this Release:

- More tolerant towards children

- 3.2.x builds off the Poly Engine installed in version 3

- Installed buffering subroutine to suppress hostile emotional outbreaks towards loved ones

- Zen Engine: s1m0n now enjoys contemplating existence without relating it to work

- Mods introduced to Work Ethic subroutine to accommodate for more evening time with family

- Raised the output:coffee ratio by 25% to make up for lost productivity

- s1m0n now has a healthy appreciation for "Serenity"; he dislikes "Battlestar" now

- s1m0n values breathing more

Known Bugs with This Release:

- s1m0n still suffers from occasional insomnia; working on a patch for version 3.5

- s1m0n 3.x has the potential to be "too gropy" at times; working on a patch for "boundaries"

- s1m0n doesn't recognize wife 1.0 or 2.0, and tends to be grumpy towards marriage in general

- s1m0n tries to be a better father but will fail; see Work Ethic subroutine

- s1m0n may under-estimate one area of workload and over-compensate in another

Interface Issues:

- s1m0n requires clear, constant communication that reinforces his support

- s1m0n generates a lot of cross-talk

- s1m0n is selfish, assertive, and extroverted, and will transmit XOR-breaks on handshakes

- Drama crosstalk and latency still disrupts s1m0n's comprehension of transferred datum

- s1m0n is compatible with all standards of Poly; prefers this interface over Mono

Compatability Issues:

- s1m0n is compiled for the hetero platform but can be recompiled for as a homo instance

- s1m0n complies with Internet Safe Sex Standards (ISSS) involving penile penetration

- s1m0n doesn't recognize ISSS oral standards with familar partners and other interfaces

- s1m0n prefers a very organized memory space; disorganized memory spaces freak him out

- s1m0n prefers assertive and creative programs by which to spend some quality time

- s1m0n dislikes winy, lazy, and otherwise dull programs that just consume spare cycles

What Drives s1m0n to General Protection Faults (GPF's):

- Unkept memory allocations, hard disks, particularly in waste disposal subroutines

- Unnecessary drama protocols

- Falsehood worms

- Spyware

- In the 3.x release, s1m0n will communicate with more programs on the Poly protocol, but he still retains a distain for Hippies version 25-32; this seems ingrained in the kernel; we're trying to work this one out

Tips for Using s1m0n:

- Provide for a clean installation; uninstall all previous versions prior to install

- Always be honest and truthful to s1m0n; never lie to s1m0n; "TMI" does not exist to s1m0n

- Use s1m0n... hard... frequently. Occasionally, restart s1m0n.

- Try out s1m0n's adeptness towards new situations and fuzzy logic modules; very adaptable!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009



The struggle for perfection bogs so many of us down in a morass of our own perceived inadequacies. Every time we fail to live up to our own standards is another opportunity to reevaluate them and refine what standards have value to us. Within my life, perfection is a ridiculously ephemeral concept. You see, almost everything I do, every role I fulfill, is subjective. Also, I don't have terribly strong personal boundaries or ideals of what perfection might look like. The one thing that I _don't_ lack clarity about is that I am not perfect.

When I think of myself as a parent, instead of getting stuck in beating myself up for whatever it is I don't do well, I consider the ways that I might be able to improve, or how I can help my fellow parenting support units increase their skills. Or perhaps what I'm trying to do is just something that doesn't suit me, and maybe I should farm it out? This is a role that definitely does NOT lend itself to perfection!

When I consider my body and the never-ending struggle with staying at a healthy size that is optimal for me, I try not to get discouraged about the process. I find something that I can focus on as a positive, develop a goal, or decide to be content with where I'm at at a given point in time. There will likely never be a time when my body will fit an ideal of perfection to society at large. Luckily for me, society at home is more important! Appreciation is available, as is encouragement. My body type is what it is, and I can work within that framework to improve on what nature has given me, perfection not withstanding.

When I contemplate my relationships, I realize that they are works in progress. It's unlikely that I will ever be the most accomplished communicator, but I have come a long way from the days of tactless blurting! Every person is different, each relationship has its own flavor, and new combinations create unique frequencies to accommodate. There is no perfection because perfection can only exist within a static framework. Still, there is breathtaking beauty in the variations of each relationship. From the comfort and familiarity of the most long-standing, to the vitality and effervescence of the newest; valuing connections that are redefined, or rise from the ashes of conflict, I try to embrace the flaws, the lack of perfection. They bring the depth, the contrast, the patina of life, of love, of who we are, and who we are growing towards becoming.

Sunday, March 22, 2009



A while ago, we found out that our daughter has amblyopia. For those who aren't familiar with the term, it's also known as lazy eye. When one eye sees better than the other from birth, the brain starts to shut off the image from the weaker eye and just uses the input from the stronger eye. To treat this issue, they patch the "good" eye and make the weaker one carry the load, forcing the brain to use the weaker side's input and improve its function.

How many of us have experienced this inability to focus on more than one thing, either within a mono relationship, in our poly relationships, or when in the throes of NRE? The majority of the mono people I know are serially mono. They move from relationship to relationship. When one starts to peeter out, or become less interesting, more domestic, they find it easier to focus on something new, something different, something exciting and romantic! At the loss of having balanced "vision" usually.

Within poly, the challenge becomes finding ways to keep the focus on more than one relationship at a time, especially when one seems more appealing than another; easier or more intense. There are times where one needs to "patch" their vision, and focus on another partner, or a different aspect of life entirely, in the interests of having a fuller vision in your life, a more balanced approach.

When one is focused exclusively on a single relationship or facet of life, depth perception is off, things aren't seen as clearly or as deeply as is possible. When all relationships are strong, and life is in balance, focus is more intense than ever imagined! For those of you with corrected vision, think of the first time you put your glasses on, all of the details that you were totally unaware of, the leaves on the trees and shapes of the clouds. Taking off the rose-colored glasses and opening both eyes to a more focused reality will lead to faster growth and healthier relationships within life and with self.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poly catch-22


So, you've "self identified" as being polyamorous, you're ready to start wading into the waters of multiple relationships with all the richness and complexities contained therein. You approach a poly person that is attractive to you, and get shot down. Why? You lack experience! Yes, it's fairly common to find that experienced poly-folk aren't interested in dating newbies, precisely because they lack the experience base to draw from, haven't made all the basic mistakes yet, and thus are seen as drama magnets for those who are the first to blaze that trail.

Enter one of the basic catch-22's of polydom: How do you get experience _being_ poly when other poly people won't date you because you lack experience? Well, of course there is the option to "convert" a previously monogamous person, to enlighten them to the joys of polyness and travel the path simultaneously. This generally leads to all sorts of entertaining scenarios where the blind are leading the blind, but it's a time-honored way to get the experience you are seeking! Many couples who open their relationships do things this way, learning together and figuring out what boundaries and communication within poly relationships look like. Of course, this also leads to dissolution of the relationship a not-insignificant portion of the time. Singles often take that route as well, bringing a potential partner on board the poly love boat and hoping that they aren't on the Titanic.

It'd be awfully nice if the learning curve wasn't quite so steep, or at least if there were some hiking boots to be had... But wait, there are! Books, online forums, discussion groups, communications classes, therapists and counselors, poly friends and mentors, oh my! Even if they aren't willing to date you for a while, many experienced poly folk are happy to lend you their hard-learned lessons, especially if they can see you are implementing and trying the things out that they share with you. They'll hold your hand and toss you the tissue box when it's needed. We've all been there. We'd just like to not revisit that same space again personally.

For those that have been living poly for a while, we tend to like community, a healthy and strong community, so it's to our advantage to feed the newbies (someone I know likes the term "polywogs") so that they grow into fantastic potential dating partners and friends that add tensile strength to our networks. A newer person who is eager to learn, asking questions and applying new-found skills, *even on their own*, shows that they have great potential, perhaps even to the point of being (wait for it!) DATE-WORTHY right now!

S was totally inexperienced in poly when we started dating, but he dove in and immersed himself as fully as he possibly could. He read, he talked, he questioned, he listened when we shared things we had learned, he applied and kept refining until it fit well. He was very motivated on personal, intellectual, and emotional levels to figure this out and do it well. It helped that there was a pre-existing friendship to draw off of. We shared as much support as possible, but he still had to do a lot of work on his own. Despite the occasional bobble, we've all done very well so far. There was a risk (a pretty big one that I was deeply afraid of) that he would freak and try to unsee and unlearn what he'd been exposed to. Fortunately, this didn't materialize, and I have a great functional poly partner now!

Commit to the process of learning what _your_ version of poly looks like. Even if there are some spectacular incidents that are painful in the extreme, learn from them and move forward. Polyamory is not a "success only" journey, but you can still choose to focus and build on the successes, and not allow the failures to define your path forward. This is how you get the experience that brings you to the place where you are poly in fact, and not just on paper. It's also how you get good dates! ;)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Now All We Have To Give?

"From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

But as the riper should by time decease,

His tender heir might bear his memory:

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,

Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel,

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel."

- Sonnet 1, William Shakespeare

I wonder if the notion of romantic love is lost upon the polyamorous? Well, perhaps I should re-evaluate the question - let me rephrase: I wonder what constitutes a date for poly people?
I think of the idealistic perspective of love introduced to monogamous pairing and think about all of the fanciful expectations. I remember the "process": I will charm her and inspire thoughtful and engaging conversation; I will treat her to an audacious dinner and fill her belly with rich and decadent food; I will slowly inspire her confidence, her trust, and the love we will make will be legendary and earth-shattering; we will confide in each other, share secrets, cry together over lost love and painful trials; there will be a meeting of parents, a shaking of the father's hand - a loyal stare that suggests, "Yes, I am employed, can be trusted, am relatively clean with decent aftershave, and I won't violate your daughter unless she really wants me to badly..." kind of man-shake - and a suave conversation with the mother that inspires a kind of mother/daughter jealousy; we will talk about naming children; there'll be an announcement for marriage, cute French titles exchanged ("fiance"), the shopping, the venue, the dress, the food, the guests, the fucking ring - oh, Jesus, the _fucking_ ring, of all things - all of the crap that constitutes the marriage itself, and THEN....

... happily ever after.

Boom. Pop. Bubbly. Fireworks. Romance achieved. Everybody have some cake, dance the polka, and go home. You're done. Zip. Finito.

I realize that I'm patronizing the whole asinine process but it's really rather trite, predictable, and so idyllic that it becomes a compulsory craving: "Everybody else gots this, so I gots to haves it, too." And therein rests the beautiful naivete that it brings: romance... in a package.

So let's pretend for a moment that the poly person isn't playing their game from the mono playbook and are actually not dreaming about the "perfect" future together on day one but are actually focused on the here, the now, the attainable, the realistic.

"Let's see," rationalizes-out the poly person. "This chic is available on Tuesdays and Fridays; her husband wants her on Sundays; there's a tertiary in the mix who wants to see her on Monday, she has BDSM munches on the second Wednesday of the month, so that leaves Wednesdays on weeks one, three, and four for me. Checking my calendar - well, crap, I'll have to bump my wife to Fridays - bump, my wife, Fridays, oh, man that's a funny, ahem anyway - then there's the whole problem with Sally, she's going to hate this competition but I know that Marc will really like her. But, SIGH - If I can't move my primary to another night, this is a no-fly situation. I should explain this to her. She'll understand."

Then both of our poly-persons delve into this logistics conversation which isn't entirely romantic and really has nothing to do with complementing her hair, drifting into her eyes, or caressing her soft skin. This really has more to do with answering the question: Logistically, are you a good fit?

I feel poly people are enlightened lovers and with all seriousness I believe that they're operating in good faith when they're overtly concerned with how a new addition could impact their schedule with primary and secondary relationships. Instead of thinking, "What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun...", we're thinking, "Gads, is two hours on Wednesdays really enough to meet my sexual/emotional needs?" Eh, kind of takes the fun out of it.

Also true that poly people don't have a model for an ultimate end-game that we'd see in traditional monogamous pairings; maybe, idealistically, we believe we can balance all of the complexity of our lives and this person will merrily fit in as if she had always been there - that's likely the most perfect of outcomes. We don't have the euphoria, the ring exchange, the announcements, or a bounty of toasters waiting for us on the other side of an exchange of vows. We don't have the romantic idealism to push us along as we might find in monogamous relationships. We are simply "here", in the moment, perhaps with no other future commitment, experiencing life as raw as it is without the sugar or promise for something greater, brighter, whole. There is, well, just _now_, and what can be given now. Where that is a conversation, a passionate kiss, a massage, a hug, a spanking, a lustful and explosive romp, or just a minute to talk about the weather. I wonder if the notion of romantic love is lost on the polyamorous... one, because our love model isn't predefined, and two, because now is all we have to give?


When you move at different paces


Yet another older piece resurrected for your reading enjoyment! ;)


One of the more challenging points of poly for us has been where one partner moves at a different speed than another. This can lend itself to one person feeling like they are holding another back, someone feeling like they are rushing a growth process on another, or just flat out being dragged backwards or forwards at a pace that is uncomfortable. With so many differences in the ways that we all process change, how does one pace the speed of growth in a way that is sustainable on a personal level, but more importantly, at a level that can work for existing relationships?

I am grateful for the influences of PG, who is a more cautious person than I in some ways. Generally, he's a deep thinker, who considers all the various aspects of a choice, processes how he might feel about it, what the ramifications may be, thinks it over again, then makes a decision. He provides me with a touchstone, an anchor, a more considered approach to many changes on a personal and business level. On the flip-side, he's also been known to be disturbed by a particularly bold haircut! ;)

Then there is my approach: Make a choice, run with it, process as you go, make tweaks as needed. Gee, you think that we might do this differently? S is getting his poly legs under him, but tends to be a bit closer to my style. It's a REALLY good thing we have PG to keep us grounded! The best thing is that I can totally rely on either of them to be supportive, tell me when they feel that I'm going off on a tangent, or to call me on my own crap. Particularly of help is the part where they point out how my own emotional stuff/past experiences might be coloring something that is going on currently. Talk about great resources!

As for the pacing part, it's something that I think will continue to be a force in the way that we form new connections, deal with issues, and create our direction in life together. All I know for sure is that the holding together is more important than superfluous change in the grand scheme of things, so I will strive to recognize the points where it would be better to circle wagons than make another six miles to the next camp!



I'm pulling some older writing entries to share. Re-reading has helped me see where perspectives have shifted, as well as what fundamentals stay the same over time for me.


One of the arguments I've heard repeatedly about why poly is unhealthy is the idea that by having more than one relationship, you are unable to commit fully, or have a mature emotional bond with another, that polyamory is a way to shield yourself from true, deep intimacy.
Categorically, I find that to be untrue, in fact, I've found a whole new level of intimacy within my marriage, with myself, and a conscious everyday impetus to focus on each of the important emotional bonds in my life. Still, I do think that for some, poly can be a way to have emotion without responsibility, intimacy without accountability.

Is it just a matter of deciding that you are not holding back from others? For me, the more richness I have in my emotional life, the more I have available to give back to all. The support I get from my extended, as well as my little nuclear, family feeds a need that I have for touch, for intimacy, to give, and more opportunities for growth, as enjoying additional connections that expose me to new ideas and feelings that I may not have encountered previously.

When others label multi-dating as polyamory I feel uncomfortable, since it's more about the "amour" part than the "poly" piece for me. With love has always come a sense of responsibility, a desire to nurture another, and a drive to help them in their journey in life. Does poly-lite carry any of those connotations, or is it an escape from the uncomfortable parts of a "real" relationship? When you are busy hiding from others, there is no way to be truly open within your own heart. When I am fully blissfully unshielded, totally open to my loves, I have the deepest sense of self, of spirit, I've ever experienced.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shifting perspectives


When PG and I first opened up our relationship we had a lot of ideas what that would look like. Amazingly enough, what it actually looks like 8 years later bears very little resemblance to what we thought it might before actually starting to implement things. We started out with the idea that we'd be swingers, to keep all that emotional juice for our relationship. It became apparent pretty quickly that all sex and no love wasn't terribly satisfactory to either of us, so we started down the path towards polyamory, which we had no concept of at that time.

There have been many shifts from what we thought we wanted to what actually works for us at a given point in time. Long distance to local, FWB to secondaries, dates to overnights, closely defined roles to non-hierarchical stuff, to living with S. One thought that is currently on the conscious level is the concept of commitment. Does love or caring without shared commitment work at this point? How does that fit in with a less hierarchical view of polyamory? What type of commitment or accountability from a partner serves the relationship without becoming controlling?

For me, I have a strong preference for more solid and transparent relationships. Amorphous and more independent connections don't tend to be strongly emotional with me. To have a deep sense of intimacy, I find it necessary to share a level of transparency and a sense of the importance of the connection with my partner. Things that might lead to that feeling might include: having a scheduled date night, talking regularly to touch bases and share general life experiences, being introduced to their friends and/or family as someone that is important in their life, and not initiating the vast majority of plans or affectionate contact.

When ones perspective shifts so often, how do you maintain a sense of continuity with your on-going relationships? By sharing consistently what you are thinking about, feeling, by growing together, rather than within the vacuum of your own mind, by being aware that changing circumstances may alter the landscape significantly and by being prepared to make course corrections before things become problems or issues.

There are times where shifts might lead to a change in relationship status, with something strengthening or weakening the bonds that you share. Some people try to avoid change, but status quo isn't something that really exists, so trying to maintain it as a safety mechanism (if we don't change, we won't grow apart) doesn't work. Positioning yourself to embrace change, to ride the wave to the new perspective, will save a lot of time spent rolling across the floor of the ocean gasping for breath and wondering which way is up.

Change can be scary or exhilarating, it can move you in directions you would never have imagined going on your own. My experiences in life have led to to believe that the changes that I wouldn't have chosen are the ones that have taken me to the most amazing places; in work, in love, and in family life. Life and love look much different than they did 15, 10 or 5 years ago, but I am ever more appreciative of the new spaces that have opened up for me by being available to step forward into the light of a new day and breathe deeply of the fresh air.

Monday, March 16, 2009



Where's my motivation? It's a silly line from many a bad comedy, but when it comes to relationships, there is something to be said for honestly asking that question. When your sweetie brings someone into their life that you're not thrilled with, or you'd just rather not be sharing just then, where's your motivation?

Theoretically, we should (don't you just LOVE that word?) all be happy to share our partners at any given time with anyone that they are interested in. In practice, it helps to have a grip on what your partner is enjoying about the relationship, what it will bring to them, and by extension, to you.

Is your sweetie interested in enjoying things that you just don't like doing with this person? Does this date leave you with an extra slot on your social calendar that you would enjoy filling? Are they sweetness and light when they get home, and you get to benefit from all the endorphins floating around in the air? Does their sweetie have conversations with them that foster personal development you get to enjoy? Is there a new skill they bring to the table? Is your love extra attentive and appreciative of you after seeing their sweetie?

When you can answer the "What's in it for me?" question with something meaningful, this makes it so much more rewarding to block that time off on the calendar and enjoy the time apart. As the partner spending the time elsewhere, try to find some value for the person you aren't currently with. For example, PG is more of a night person than I am. We've had an on-going conversation for years about my desire for him to go to bed with me, and his desire to stay up and enjoy the evening. With the split in sleeping schedules, it's easier for me to stay up a little later, and for him to go to bed a bit earlier on the evenings we sleep together. The rest of the time, I can crash earlier in the evening with S, who's an early to bed, early to rise type. On the flip side, S gets up too early for me most of the time, but he can usually stay in a little later on mornings I share with him, but still enjoy the butt-crack of dawn on days where I'm happily snuggled up with my later-riser, PG. Being able to split sleeping arrangements also gives me someplace and someone to be with when either of them is entertaining other partners, which is a much happier space for me than solo time on the couch. ;)

Find your motivation. Be able to provide your partner with motivation. Enjoy the fruits of said motivation! Life and love are sweet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Poly discussion group


The second meeting of the Vancouver Poly Discussion Group was this past week. What a trip! There were a total of 28 people here, which is the biggest session I've seen thus far of it's type. Even more exciting was that there were a number of newbies that expressed interest. I was able to help them find the Portland group, which is a bit more geared towards less complex issues, and it looks like they will have a full house tomorrow evening at that group!

I was very pleased to find great depth in the experience levels, different relationship configurations, and also age groups represented within the participants. The conversation was rather lively, and we could have continued for quite some time working with the topics selected for the evening.

There have been many times in my life that positions of leadership have presented themselves. Every so often, I've taken the lead, but more often, I've avoided being part of a group or community to escape being in a leadership role. This is really the first time I've stepped forward, of my own volition, to create, implement, and invest in, a place that involves being a leader.

The poly community is so highly varied, and I know that my way of doing things won't be for everyone, but I am very pleased that those participating in this group so far have seen what I am doing and appreciate where it's coming from. Moving the conversation along a more structured pathway is a bit of a challenge! Learning how to herd cats is a skill I'm going to cultivate! ;)

The depth of experience that is represented by the participants in this group is humbling. I'd say about half of them have 10+ years of open/poly relationship living to draw from. It greatly enhances the richness of the conversation to have so many practical perspectives of a given issue to learn from. Chewing old soup gets tiresome after a while, so seeing a new angle to approach something from is invaluable to me, and I hope that those participating in this process are getting some fresh ideas to work with as well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wanted or Needed?


Part of our pervasive culture is to be "needed" by our partner. Without them, we are incomplete. If our partner doesn't "need" us, why are we in a relationship with them? Gender roles play their part as well. I even had a man (not anyone I live with!) try to tell me that women _should_ need the man they are with. He's hardwired to feel needed, and fighting biology would be a pointless exercise. As a woman, I need a man to protect, guide and shelter my delicate self. Trying to structure things otherwise is feminist dogma that dis empowers my feminine vulnerabilities and undercuts his sense of manhood.

What a load of crap! Sure, there are going to be times where we need to lean on our partner to get through a tough spot, but I'd rather be in a relationship with someone that wants to be with me than someone that needs to be with me, and I would hope that my partners feel the same!

Things have not always been so clear. I have gone through my share of trials and self-doubt on the path to being more emotionally self-sufficient, and I'm sure that there is further to travel. At this point, I am the strongest that I've been, largely because my partners have helped to create the space for me to learn to love myself, and be proud of being self-reliant. Could I have gotten here on my own? Not as quickly and with a lot more pain, maybe not at all. This is why I want to be with them.

I am SO excited that, after many years of working on myself, becoming a person that is self-sufficient and strong, I feel able to focus on growing within a relationship from a place of desire and not necessity.

It seems ridiculous to succumb to societal pressure to emotionally "dumb myself down", to be more needy. The message I've been getting my whole life is that being "needed" is more important than being "wanted" to most people. I vowed to myself a long time ago that I wouldn't become less to make someone feel like more, not mentally, not emotionally, economically, or professionally. That isn't something that any of my partners would want from me.

Developing the ability and preference to love and be attracted to ones partner(s) for being _less_ dependent, being more self-directed, but choosing and wanting to be with them, is something that each of us would benefit from doing. When one is able to feel joy that their partner is there out of choice, in love and appreciation of what they bring to the table, and not out of necessity or being trapped by circumstances, that is a great gift to them both.

To my partners with love and intent: I don't need you.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Required Reading


A cursory glance at poly forums this week reveals...

1. An established triad with a secondary who refutes the "secondary" label and believes she's earned the "right" to be primary...

2. A poly "expert" who firmly believes as his love is endless so, too, is his time and he considers it perfectly acceptable to bring on as many partners as he wants (kind of like the old batty woman in the trailer that owns 200 cats because, well, she loves cats)...

3. A curious post of when it'd be a good time to suggest to a dating partner that you're poly...

No, really: are these for realzies? Yes.

Now, to this reporter, it seems like they've already been answered in the literature. Indeed, I think 75-percent of what anyone says in a poly forum these days has already been captured by Ravenscroft, Easton/Liszt, or Taormino. Instead, why do I get the distinct impression that members of the community are getting by without an education?

I was talking with a member of the community this week whose partners also haven't read the literature and had positively backwards understandings of roles, definitions, and responsibilities. Where this one party was encouraging the other two to, you know - "read the docs" - they obviously were perfectly contented with ignoring the establishment and creating it as what fit them: a life without hierarchy, a need for communication and transparency, boundaries, and willy-nilly fluid bonding ("Like, hey: it's my life, what I do affects just me, I can do whatever I want and you don't need to know about it...")...


Polyamory is complicated and it has its on lexicon. Practice demands study! If your partners haven't already gone out and purchased the latest edition of The Ethical Slut released this month, go kick them in the ass and force-feed it to them. If polyamory is a self-exploration of alternative relationships and lifestyles, then it's as much about expanding your mind as it is your libido, and I totally reject the hippie idea that "Poly is what you make out of it, wow, dude", no no NO, it's not, and there's established vocabulary, terms, conditions, and roles.

So. If somebody you know hasn't done it already, tell them: it's time. Get the license. Read the docs. Catch a podcast. Listen to an audio book. Bone up on the material. Know the issues of our time. It'll at least cut down on 3/4 of the asinine conversations and downright ignorant behaviors going on in the polyworld...

"I can have as many cats as I want in my trailer and they're all primaries to me." - Er, shuuhhh!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hitting your limits


Time management is a huge factor for most poly folk we talk to. How do you find time to nurture all the connections you desire, take care of basic life responsibilities, and spend time nurturing yourself as well? How can you tell when you've hit your limit on connections? Is chronological time the most important factor, or is it emotional "time"?

Oftentimes, when I am working with clients who have been injured on the job, or during an exerting activity, they will share with me that there was a point where they knew they were feeling fatigued, and kept on going, "just to finish up that last little bit". They got tired, they got sloppy, they got hurt. This often seems to hold true for emotional exertion as well. If one relationship is good, and two is great, three MUST be even better, and four will blow your mind! Never mind that you don't have time to spend caring for yourself, and your existing partners are already feeling like they don't get the attention that they desire when you have time to spend.

Learning to stop _before_ you hit the point of being "poly saturated" is a fantastic skill to cultivate! When you are at your maximum capacity, any small to medium sized issue at any point in your circle can overwhelm your limited emotional and chronological flexibility.

Being in relationships with other responsible adults is the first step, assuming you fit that bill yourself! ;) Beyond that, learning how much emotional energy and time you have to share with others is key. Resisting the temptation to add "just one more" when you are feeling relaxed and fulfilled, enjoying active growth in all spheres of your life, makes sense. Allow things to settle into a healthy stable pattern before considering new additions.

This isn't a numbers game. I know people that are just as "poly" with one, or even no partner as the ones with four or more. When you need to break out the white board to diagram connections so that they make sense to _you_, maybe that's too much! You know you're dating too much when: (fill in an answer that makes sense to you here).

Attention K Mart Shoppers: Quality counts! Choose your partners, and how many, with care, because YOU are usually the first one to fall to the side when things get rough, and take others you care for with down with you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ahead of the game, or behind the 8 ball?


There is no perfect time to have a baby, buy a home, get married, change jobs, etc. Pretty much anything that's worth doing, you can find a reason not to do it _now_. When PG and I started on this journey to open our relationship, gradually shifting to polyamory over time, I thought that, in perhaps 10-15 years, I might be ready to add to our family on a live-in basis. The kiddo would be out of the house, the house would be paid off, I'd still be a relatively young woman in her early 40's. Then S and I started dating and that whole convenient schedule went out the window!

As much as I greatly enjoy the new dynamic that is developing for our family of five, there are some wistful thoughts at times for the simplicity of the previous family of three. There are greater rewards, but some of the challenges are greater as well. I wonder what it might have been like if I had just stuck with my original schedule, which was more practical, instead of plowing ahead into uncharted territory. "Here be Monsters!" ;)

It feels like the opportunities that we are all seeing to grow are ones that will continue to pay dividends throughout the rest of our lives. Timing will be what it is, and you can either ride the wave, or have it wash over you until you're ground into the ocean floor. Whenever you seize an option to grow, to learn, to teach, you propel yourself further than you would under merely your own power. You are moving in the direction that (for lack of a better term) the universe appreciates, and you get an assist to make that work.

Think about the times in your life where you saw an opportunity and let it pass you by. When you turned away from growth and into stagnation. Any time I've gone that path, I ended up farther behind than where I started; less happy, less satisfied, less able to see a clear path out.

Courage to dive into deeper water is a quality that suits polyamory well. It seems so much more dangerous or scary at first, but the underlying truth is that, as long as you know how to swim, or you brought your life-jacket, it doesn't matter how deep the water is.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Partner selection


It has become more and more obvious to me over the years we've been exploring polyamory that one of the primary skills that is helpful to enjoying poly relationships is partner selection. This sounds like a no-brainer. Of course it's going to be a good idea to choose carefully who you decide to be involved with! The realities can be a bit murkier, with such factors as physical attractiveness, also being poly, sheer opportunity, and a desire to fill a role, skewing common sense and realism.

Let's say, for example, that you meet someone who you really connect well with! They're witty, funny, cute, poly, have their stuff together. One small problem: 90% of the time, your schedules aren't going to line up. Unfortunately, unless you are willing to change your life to accommodate a new schedule, this isn't likely to get off the ground floor.

Another idea: You are really jazzed up about the idea of meeting a hot bi babe/boy. There are lots of fantasies that work really well by being able to insert this fictional person into your life. You meet someone that fits the bill! They are the HBB! Let the rejoicing commence! Alas, in your zeal to enjoy the fantasy, you forgot to look under the hood and notice the lack of a productive life, that they're a smoker, or that they don't like kids (which you have). Your fantasy and reality don't belong in the same space.

You're at a community event, you meet another poly person who can relate to many of the factors present in your life. What a great thing to be able to talk and share with someone that understands! Unfortunately, you don't really have anything else of significance in common...

Perhaps most challenging of all: You meet someone that you REALLY connect with. They click with you, and seem well-suited to becoming part of your circle. Unfortunately, one of your other partners has formed an instant dislike of them, or they don't seem to get along with someone of significance in your life. Do you proceed? Do you back off? Do you move slowly and hope they start getting along?

So, how does one go about selecting a potential partner? Part of it is putting yourself in places where you can meet new people that might be amenable to poly, part of it is being brutally honest about your own strengths and weaknesses, preferences and blind-spots, part of it can be listening to outside partners who might have more perspective on a new person than you do, as you peer through your rose-colored glasses. ;)

When I first started my business, a good client was anyone that would show up and pay me. As time went on, I learned more about the types of people that were enjoyable to work with, and the types that were not. My marketing changed to reflect those preferences. In the same way, it is important to continue to rifle your approach to exclude those that won't make good partners from occupying the majority of your focus. There will be people you meet, you like, you feel attracted to, that are better left as friends, not brought in as partners.

One of the criterion I am currently working on developing is to focus on potential connections that have chosen to have significant responsibilities in their life. It seems to engender a more responsible approach to life that fits my relationship style better. Someone who has set their life up so they could drop it and move on within a week isn't likely to have the stability or maturity that I enjoy in a partner.

Time availability is another concept that I look at. If our schedules aren't likely to match up approximately weekly, this isn't likely to be a deeply connected relationship. People that reach out to me about as often as I connect with them are great! Me doing all the chasing and planning isn't fun, at least once the first blush of NRE wears off. ;) I enjoy people that have a good healthy relationship in their life already, since, with two full-time relationships already, I don't have the resources to take on a third person who looks to me for the majority of their emotional needs.

There isn't a list of qualifications you must possess to make it past the first round of interviews, but there are things that will limit the development of a relationship, or cause it to fail pretty rapidly. In the interests of not wasting the time of others, or myself, it is helpful to know my deal breakers, be able to share them, and be able to tell myself "no", even when I _want_ someone, despite recognizing a lack of suitability.