Monday, August 31, 2009

Change and loss

In any connection, any relationship, things change. Even when they change for the better, as when a child grows up and becomes a self-sustaining adult, there can be a sense of loss attached to that change. I find myself in a space with many changes going on, and experiencing some sense of loss with those changes.

As PG continues to work through his stuff, there is a need for more space. It's different, and that change is a loss. As S moves towards the new connection he's making, it's a new era for our relationship, and as happy and excited as I am for the two of them, it is different. Even as we look toward the future with optimism, love, and support, I will miss what has gone before.

There is no such thing as stasis within relationships, so fighting change is an exercise in futility. Embrace the changes, allow yourself to ride the waves, rather than clawing through the water against the flow. It may just save some time drowning. ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strive to Share

One of the most amazing tenants of polyamory is the freedom to fall in love with other people. Caught up in the thralls of NRE (New Relationship Energy), though, it may be too convenient to forget the love, compassion, and tolerance of our primary lovers who give us that freedom, and who lift us up when the chips are down.

When in poly, and when celebrating your new-found connections, always give equal - if not more! - time to your primary. Celebrate them, too. Do not take them for granted. Go on dates with them, buy her flowers, remind her how she stands out in a room, where their absence hurts, and why they're so important in your life. It is hard for anyone to see a lover happily chatting, texting, or being with another; it is even harder when their attention is totally lost or unavailable. It is, in fact, because of them and their ability to rationalize their jealousy and love you that you are where you are today.

And for those who would argue that there is nothing new to say, that, there is something complacent and mediocre about relishing your life partner, it is precisely that thought which limits the boundless capacity of joy. If you're to put on artificial blinders and pre-define the world, then all you will ever see in a person is the portrait you've already painted; if that is all you do in all relationships - even platonic ones - then you will never discover the new and interesting ways they evolve. People are not static. You are not static. Love is the exploration, growth, connection, and evolution of self with others - it's often tritely described as a journey, not a destination, and we must remind ourselves to appreciate the travel. Reach out, try harder, do more, to learn more about your partner, and more about yourself.

There is an unlimited amount of happiness in your life. Strive to always share it with the people who helped to create it for you.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Emotional intensity

When I was a teenager, I remember having pretty intense emotional responses to things. If so-and-so didn't respond favorably to my interest, or, worse yet, asked my friend to go out, it was cause for several days worth of hand-wringing, crying and desolation. These days, it takes a bit more to put me into a serious funk, and I'd like to keep it that way. Seeking out intensity, regardless of the flavor, is one of the reasons I've often heard poly people characterized as "drama seeking" by those observing the community. There does seem to be a higher ratio of drama, but is that due to an attraction to excitement, or merely an increase in the possible outcomes with more people involved in a given dynamic? Either way, is it something that we want to work to avoid becoming embroiled in?

For me, the answer is a definite "Yes!". There is no value in drama for its own sake. The thrill of extreme negative emotion, while it certainly can get the blood pumping, isn't something to look for. If that's your passion, I'd suggest taking a look at BDSM, demolition, martial arts, etc, and find a more constructive outlet for those impulses.

That isn't to say that avoidance of conflict is the way to go either. Taking a hard look at the people you are considering as partners to see if they walk about in a cloud of self-made tumult is always advisable. Conflict has its place in any healthy relationship. There is no way that any two (or more) people are going to be in complete accord at all times on all things. Finding a way to express those differences without allowing things to expand into a really satisfying fight is a skill worth cultivating.

The other side of the fence, the extreme positive emotions, have their own pitfalls. I've spent a bit of time discussing some of the amazingly short-sighted and oblivious things I've done under the influence of NRE. It's an awareness level that I hope to bring to my next relationships. To really take a good step back from all the happy juice and see if I'm inadvertently screwing the pooch in a haze of endorphins.

Feel solid in your emotional states. Allow them to be a part of the decision-making process, but when a time comes that you find yourself treading water as fast as you can to keep your head above water, consider taking a step back from the intensity, and find a space to breathe and refocus. No one likes drama mongers, least of all those who are doing the mongering. ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Texting - Wherein an Old Dog Learns a New Trick

Recently, I've started dating someone who is significantly younger than me (by twelve years), and I've never done that before.

The reason why I've never done that before is because I've never really connected well with most within that age bracket - my problems with work and career, kid, family, house, knocking-off debt, and so on just seem so totally removed from the concerns of the "twenty-something". So, conversationally, I thought there'd be this big-ass gap of experience that would leave the two of us staring at each other wondering what the heck to say for, like, endless hours over coffee or something. Ich, scary! Especially for an extrovert like me - brain narrative in a squeaky tone: "Like OMG! What do I say? What do I say?!"

Well, luckily, generalizations being what they are, there's likely to be an exception somewhere and I it just so happened that I met one of them last month. She's mature in her perspectives on things, is ambitious, gorgeous (of course), and usually dates older guys. Right on. One thing, though, that I'm trying to acclimate to, is texting.

Probably like most her age, she's, like, really comfortable with texting - as in she texts almost as a principal means of communication. Don't get me wrong: it's great to randomly hear from her during the day and night and that's a really cool thing about our relationship, and there's nothing wrong with that, but man - texting is an awkward form of communication.

It's like we have this phone-thing that allows us to communicate voice wirelessly from anywhere, I mean, we can "talk" any time, yet then we purposefully revert to telegrams of small words, phrases, and disjointed thoughts, or at best it's like teletyping and using Morse Code. The acronyms, the lingo, the emoticons - it's a whole new vocabulary - and I think my thumb and index fingers have carpel tunnel. And hell, I'm lucky I purchased the "unlimited" text package with the phone - I think we've racked up more than 500 of these things, and, somehow, I think we're just getting started.

Text has its cool parts. One, it's asynchronous: it can be sent, viewed, and responded to whenever either of our schedules allow for it. That means she can send me a thought and I can continue that thought two hours later. Two, it's convenient. Three, it keeps this perpetual dialog going so it feels like we're "close by" when we're not around each other. When blended with email and sending pics, it's oddly comforting, like, the phone is an instrument of "presence" more than just a communication device.

But, yeah, it has its drawbacks. First of all, I've developed this Pavlov-like response to my damn phone. It blurps and whirls and I'm curious. Hmm! I wonder what she has to say; I have to check it. It's a huge compulsion. Second, in the context of poly, having that salivating-like response isn't all that swell: I may be with my PF-sweetie and I really shouldn't be looking at my phone. Again, thinking of it being more of a "presence", when the phone twitters an announcement of a text message it's like my other friend just walked into the room. Graciously (and I am so fortunate to have such a kind and understanding primary), PF may encourage me to respond, or, knowing better (or she gives me one of those knowing "If you look at that right now, you will bleed" kind of looks) or because we're on a date, I just put the phone away and smile. Three, I'm really conscious about appearing like a teenager: if I'm not careful, I could find myself sitting at a dinner table and ignoring the people around me to diddle with the phone (I might as well put a baseball cap on my head sideways, wear my jeans at my knees, grow a soul patch and put some ear buds in to complete the experience.)

Fundamentally, it's just amazing to me how text is used by her "generation" and how I've had to adapt to using it. It just seems so much simpler when I say, "Hey - I'm online right now - why don't we chat?", or, "Heck, call me voice" (grin, that expression was foreign to her, that was funny: "Voice? Call you 'voice'?" - Ahem). Indirectly, though, it's an interesting sensation of "presence" - I always feel she's close by and instantly available in some way, which is really interesting in the context of poly since time and distance, and that "presence", plays such a huge role in the interconnectedness we might feel when our schedules take us elsewhere.

Well, awkward as it is, I feel like I've gotten to know her pretty well in 500+ posts of 150 characters or less, and those bursts of conversation do augment our "live" or voice discussions. I "feel" her around at times. It's a different sensation of the excitement you feel when you anticipate somebody calling or you get to see them on a date, it's like that sense is perpetual, it's constant, and it's a terrific "high". Anyway, what an awesome adventure so far... L8R.


Accessible and participatory

"What's your availability like?" It's one of the questions that is often asked towards the beginning of a dating connection (or at least, it should be!). This question helps to clarify when they have the space to add you to their life, what their current landscape looks like, and if that coincides with what you have available. This question is a good starting point, but it doesn't go far enough, in my experience.

A good follow-up query, and this may be a more complex answer than, "I'm free in the evenings after 9pm, and on Sunday afternoons.", is to find out how accessible someone is. What's the difference? Available is logistics, access is desire and motivation to bring someone into a shared experience. For example, in the long-distance relationship I had early on in my poly experience, availability was pretty limited. We lived 3000 miles apart, but access was good. We could pick up the phone and have a conversation about whatever was on our minds. There was no sense of imposition, or a need to censor the conversation to accommodate limitations on the relationship. We gave each other access to the full spectrum of life, as much as possible.

Some people are comfortable with logistics, and will happily set up a date to get together every other Thursday, but outside of those bounds, the relationship, and the access to them is limited. If that's a comfortable space for both parties involved, great! However, for me, that is a more limited spectrum of access than I would participate in with a close platonic friend, much less a lover! Sharing more than an occasional meal and sex is what makes it worth coming back for.

Knowing that someone would want to be there for me if I had a need, and that I would be welcome to participate in their life outside of the bedroom as well, takes it from a date to a relationship. Lack of access can stunt a connection to the point of not being viable once the NRE wears off.

Let's look at the ideas of "help" and "participation" now. When helping someone, there is a definite sense that the other party has ownership of whatever is going on. Participation, on the other hand, is more about contributing to something that is also yours.

Here's one that I've heard pretty often, "He thinks he's "helping" me out by "babysitting" the kids! They are his kids too! Helping and babysitting aren't part of the picture!" That one smacks of a lack of ownership in the parenting role, where one partner is given the onus of being the "primary parent". This is one I've heard from myself too often, "Thanks for helping out with dinner!" Now, does everyone in the house have some ownership in getting themselves fed? Yes! So why am I owning that role, and allowing others to "help" me?

Moving away from a model of helping and towards a space of participation is something that I want in domestic and relationship space. If a shared dynamic involves a lot of "helping", chances are that someone is controlling things, maybe just because no one seems willing to participate, or someone lacks a sense of ownership in the responsibilities of life. In a participatory place, we take on the roles and duties that are ours, and help others with things that are theirs if we want to.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


No Strings Attached. This is often applied to sexual encounters. People that want to connect physically without the emotional or practical connection that is often associated with rubbing bits together. This is something that seems to work well in a number of cases. Perhaps someone is just disinterested in a relationship, but wants to have their sexual needs satisfied. Maybe they are not emotionally equipped to be in partnership with someone. There could be a large component of their life, like schooling, that sucks so many time and energy resources as to make a relationship untenable.

The question I am wrestling with is if it is possible to have an emotionally and sexually connected relationship, to be part of a family, without also having responsibilities (strings) that are attached? Voluntary participation in any relationship is non-negotiable for me. There is abundance available, so why stay in a relationship out of a sense of obligation?

"Strings" seem to be intrinsic in relationships. The quest is to find the ones that resonate with your core, without signing up for the ones that feel imposed by others. Obligation is a poor motivator, but desire to participate and be a part of something larger than self can seem very similar on the surface. What goes on beneath the still waters is what counts.

How many strings can one release before the connection to the relationship is disconnected? Is it the sexual component? There are many people that enjoy warm a loving relationships that are asexual in nature, often due to medical issues, but what if sexuality has ceased to be a resonant quality for someone in a relationship? Does that invalidate all of the other ways that that relationship works?

Perhaps it just comes down to the lowest common denominator: Desire. As long as the people involved still want to be together, they are. Simple. A slender string to attach to, but one with more tensile strength than steel cables.

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Inspired Community

I am a tech guy.

Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I learned that I could sit alone in my room and have endless hours of entertainment with a personal computer (ahem - clarification: using the PC to write programs and build things, and not necessarily porn). If left to my own devices, I would fritter away my hours in front of a machine and allow the real world to happen somewhere outside my door.

But, ever since I was living up to grasshopper standards, I used this thing to edge closer to a sense of community with other like-minded sociopaths. When I was 10, I used my Vic20 to dial into CompuServe and was astounded at the raw information streaming at 300 baud. My imagination roiled: everything, accessible and available, here, from this stupid little device. It wasn't long after that I discovered the BBS (Bulletin Board System) community with ham-radio-like-passionate-people who setup PC's that could be dialed into. It was a tediously dry experience - nothing like the 'Net today: no graphics, just text, and leaving messages for the next person to login. It was slow, and conversations took days, weeks, instead of seconds. Even still, when I opened my own BBS, I was striving towards a sense of belonging and community. The PC was a portal to others.

I don't think it's a far stretch to imagine the Internet as a social place: isolated as we might seem to be, the Internet brings our ideas and selves closer in an imaginary space, whether or not it's okcupid, World of Warcraft, FetLife, or SecondLife, the Internet is a private (even sometimes anonymous) media that inspires closeness, interrelationships, and compassion. Regardless of our initial impressions, the Internet inspires community.

And I am proud of this community. Enabled by the 'Net, the poly community as it stretches from us, to you - our readers - to the folks who come to our monthly meetings, or to other poly meetings we attend, or out to others in LoveTribe, or to FetLife, or to PolyWeekly, and out and out from there. Even out to Oprah and Newsweek. I'm proud of those connections. Closer to me, I'm proud of the small things: knowing glances, inside jokes, friendships, brief chatter and talk of things we know and care about, the excitement and anxiety of NRE, the dreadful spiritual collapse of losing a loved partner, and the embrace of a kind hug when meeting others time and time again.

Poly, I feel, whether digital or analog, whether synchronous or asynchronous, whether remotely or right next door, inspires community. It should always bring, inspire, reinforce, and promote community.

Even as I'm writing a bunch of illuminated pixels on a digital canvas, I'm connected to a bigger and broader idea, and a bigger and broader community. As a reclusive geeky tech guy, it's what I've longed to have all of my life.


Return of the child

For the past couple weeks and change, the daughter that PG and I have has been out of town visiting with my family. This timing has turned out to be a very good thing as we've been processing and shifting things around a bit in her absence. In addition, there's been more freedom to explore different feelings (read: cry, discuss things that are a bit sensitive, otherwise have rather adult conversations) without the restraint of having a small person around that needs to be considered and protected.

Now that she is coming back to town tomorrow, I am looking at the possibility of answering questions that might be a bit uncomfortable, as she notices changes and differences in general operations. I may be over-selling this, but she's a pretty perceptive person, with a fairly adept personal radar for things that may be impacting those she loves. Although the practical changes are pretty minor, there's an overall shift in SOP emotionally that might be noticeable. I'll be doing my best to answer as fully and honestly as possible any questions that come up from her, without getting into too much detail, or sharing context that is over her head.

To provide a safe, stable and loving environment is the top priority for all of us in regards to the children. People often wonder how kids in poly households do with changes like breakups. With outside the household changes, they've been curious, interested, and concerned. Unless it impacts their emotional support, it's just about as impactful as a friend moving to a different neighborhood. Some sadness, regret, but it's part of life. We haven't had major shifts in our inner circle, but I'm sure that would be more intensive. All in all, there are more resources to go around for the kids, and if one or two of us are off nursing some emotional struggle, there is someone to help handle the slack.

On a different note: S has a new dating interest that is bringing a smile to his face these days. There is texting, and email, and phone calls, oh my! A date is set up later this week, and I am hoping it goes really well. On the flip side, you might as well line up my personal insecurity buttons and push them in sequence. She's cute, shorter, younger, thinner and more ambitious than I, as well as totally new to poly. That said, he likes her so far, and I'm excited that he is enjoying an opportunity that is light and fun!

PG is also dating someone new in recent weeks. She is a wonderfully likable person, who makes it a point to include me at times, and to get to know me as a person. I am grateful to have a metamour that seems so much closer to my comfort zone in poly style.

I also have a date this week, unexpectedly! Very preliminarily, she seems well-spoken, takes initiative, is bold, lovely to behold, and intelligent. It will be really good to spend some time reminding myself that I am a person apart from the household dynamics, and delve into my flirty self again. :)

So much to do, so little time to do it in... Where to begin?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sex and polyamory

The poly discussion group that we host was earlier this week. The topic of discussion was sex and polyamory. There was a lot of interest, big group here, and then we started talking. Guess what? While there is usually a bit of effort on my part to keep the discussion focused on the topic at hand, this month, it was much more challenging! Few people in the room seemed to be comfortable talking about sex directly. Those that were really were, but there was a distinct reluctance to stay on topic, when the topic was sex.

This was fascinating to me. Maybe I was just having an off night facilitating? Perhaps to some degree, but not to the extent that this seemed to be happening. What I was starting to feel about half way through the discussion was that poly people seem to be MUCH more comfortable talking about their relationship dramas, "...and then my metamour pulled my still-beating heart from my chest, turned it into pulp with their bare hands, and laughed maniacally as they ran off into the sunset with MY partner!", and their feelings, "This sense of gratitude that I was experiencing as my partners took turns nursing me through (insert horrible illness here) was amazing!", than their sex lives.

Well sure, that's personal stuff, right? Or is it maybe that, as a group, we're still stuck in a lot of the puritanical tripe that we were brought up with? Maybe, if we talk about enjoying casual sex, group sex, lots of sex, bi/gay/straight sex, kinky sex, we may be lumped in with swingers, and we are NOT swingers! We aren't sluts either. We're better than that. We're into this for the emotions and connections. But what's wrong with sex (however you define THAT term!) being a part of the equation?

Put my money where my mouth is. Here we go! I like sex. A lot. I like many kinds of sex. I like it with women, with men, sometimes more than one of each simultaneously. Toys are fun. I masturbate pretty regularly in addition to all the sex I do have. Sex doesn't detract from my emotional bonds with others, it facilitates it. The more I have, the more I want. It's the ultimate positive feedback system!

Between having a minister for a parent, and having been sexually assaulted as a child, I have needed to work very hard to reclaim my sexual birthright. I refuse to feel shame as I scream my pleasure to the heavens. Repeatedly. I would encourage those within the poly community to also embrace sex-positive thinking. Society pushes many agendas on us that we seek to overcome. Allowing the devaluing of sex, the hiding and secrecy about it, to pervade this community does us no favors.

Embrace sex.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unicorn Hunters

They are out there, looking for the HBB (hot bi babe), the perfect woman to "complete their family". Usually, there's quite a list of qualities that this woman should possess, as well as an even longer list of disqualifiers. The couple looking will remain the ultimate priority, of course, and any woman that emotionally or sexually threatens either partner will be out the door. Did I mention the expectation that she'll be sexually exclusive with just them?

Oy vey! There are quite a number of threads on places like OKCupid regarding the unicorn hunters. Many pertinent observations have been made, but the one that I'd like to focus on for this post is that the vast majority of the UH's are so green at poly they'd blend right into any hardwood forest without disturbing the trees. If someone starts talking with me about their desire for a unicorn, I can pretty well ascertain that they are likely to be rather new to ethical non-monogamy.

Now, let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to date a woman, even as a couple or group, what tends to be a problem is that this strategy is being used to assuage someones insecurities at the very beginning stages of exploring polyamory. It would serve all parties better to deal with the aforementioned insecurities before tangling anyone else up in that mess.

Let's say you're new to poly. Here's a nice hetero couple, and the woman thinks that she might be interested in exploring bisexuality. She'll be doing it with her male partner, of course. This is about bringing their relationship closer together, right? The man is all over that idea! It plays right into his favorite porn fantasy, plus, there's no messy territorialism to work through with another man. "His" woman will be untainted by another's cock, plus he gets to enjoy the variety of strange pussy, presumably while his partner gets something out of the whole equation. There's just the small issue of the unicorn in question being a person with their own thoughts and ideas, wants and needs, which may not include another man, another woman, or a group dynamic at all!

"But it says right here on your profile that you're a bisexual woman. Doesn't that mean you like both men and women sexually?" Sure, particular ones that are appealing in their own right. Not necessarily specific ones that are looking for a sex toy that will show up, fuck, and go back home when it's convenient. It is not anyone else's job to "bring you closer together". She may not be necessarily interested in a man and woman at the same time either.

What if she likes one partner, and isn't into the other sexually? Suddenly, this exploration of the female partner's sexuality has left someone out. Maybe she likes the man more, and the woman that was looking forward to this lovely sisterly bond, along with the grinding of girly bits, is left standing at the sidelines while "her" man is off cavorting with the object of her desires! Perhaps the woman is seen as more appealing, and the man is sidelined, feeling like the lioness failed to bring home the prey item as promised, largely because people aren't like antelope, they have more self-determination. ;)

While it is possible for everyone to fall in love across couple lines and form triad relationships that serve the needs of all partners involved, it seems like the place that many people start their journey into poly, unicorn hunting, is among the last places that are easy to explore in a healthful way for all concerned.

Start with solo dates. Feel the insecurities. Delve into the preconceived notions. Communicate and learn how it feels to be waiting up for your partner while they are out without you. Look into those scary places. Approach each new potential partner as an individual, worthy of being known as a person, not someone to fill a job description. Acknowledge that your partner might be interested in someone that does absolutely nothing for you personally, and that's going to be alright. Watch your partner fall in love with someone else and don't try to control their emotions by inserting yourself in their dynamic. Gain self-knowledge and apply it!

After going through this process, if you STILL really want to find a woman that will be interested in you both to date, start looking, patiently. Consider the idea that she will almost certainly have other partners as well as the two of you, probably other partners that are just as important as the two of you are to each other, maybe even children and/or a profession that occupies a good deal of her time and energy. She isn't likely to be waiting by the phone for you to call, ready to trot over as soon as your kids fall asleep, and will likely require real get-to-know-you dates with each of you separately, as well as together. There may be a stronger bond with one partner than the other. Allow the connections to be what they are, without trying to force it into a certain mold. Unbelievably, this seems to be the fastest way to find what you want. Stop trying soooooo hard, and become the type of partners that you would want to date yourself.

Happy Birthday!

Thank you so much to those of you that have gifted us with your supportive words and thoughts! It's one of those times that I just want to get to the other side of, but at the same point, I am seeing a lot of growth in my partner, and that is fantastic!

Yesterday was our anniversary. I started the day crying over processing things that we got into in counseling the day before, and ended the day laughing and feeling close, sharing things together that felt intimate and important, with compassion and caring after having a full house at the discussion group. All in all, I'll take it.

Today is PG's birthday, and I'm going to try to remember that this really isn't about me, it's about him. To love and laugh, to touch and be open. Being open while things are in flux is tough for me, but it's the type of courage I want to develop, staying open when the first impulse is to shut down and protect self. I know people that have successfully navigated these waters, so I know it can be done.

One of the things that has become apparent as we're going through this process is that the relationship that we share has changed quite a bit since we began this journey 15 years ago. Amazing, isn't it? ;) One way or another, this time next year we'll be in new territory. Something pretty entirely different can be scary, even if it's not a whole lot of functional difference, but more of a mental/emotional shift.

I've always been appreciative of my spouse, but now, even as I struggle with the changing landscape, I find myself deeply proud that he is taking the initiative to work his ass off and find congruency between what his head says and what his heart says, to find out who he is, authentically, and to pursue his dreams wherever they lead him. Bring it!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sorting through chaos

Things have been tough lately. One of my processes that I'm moving forward with is sorting through the crap that I own and selling/tossing as much as I can. Feels a lot like it did one year ago during my Summer of Chaos right before merging our two families together into this house. I did a lot of sorting/selling/tossing then too. Interesting that there's so much I missed the first time around.

Anyways... I got rid of about 75% of my button collection. Most of them from the 80's when I would geekily wear one or more on my jacket in high school. But I had to keep at least the three pictured; they resonate with me right now.

Getting What You Wanted

So the kind readers of this blog may have noticed a common theme (ahem - total relationship upheaval) over the last couple of months. And some readers may be wondering how I am doing.

Why, I'm glad you asked; I am fine. Giddy, actually, busily flirting with a new feminine preoccupation.... Thank you.

The tumultuous affairs that plague my metamours do not directly affect me, although it'd be disingenuous to suggest that I'm far removed from their affects. It'd be hard for anyone, I'd think, to be emotionally withdrawn from his two best friends as they endure any form of pain. I hate to see my friends hurt. It's in our human nature to comfort our friends and to say the things that bring hope and encouragement into this moment of their lives. And consciously, considering my role as PF's secondary, there's a risk of creating a schism that places me squarely on one side of the argument. That's both dangerous and unfair.

So I shall say this: I love both of my friends. I support whatever changes they wish to introduce into their lives and confront whatever closure they need. I wish that both can find happiness, fulfillment, and compromise. I will do everything I can to see to it that both of my friends are secure in who they wish to be. Yet, I cannot play mediator, and I cannot help to solve problems that are exclusively between them. And above all: it is okay. They are both loved, and it is okay.

It's a very Western view to look at time as a sequence of frequent starts and stops. We move forward, adapt, and grow comfortable, and then "change" is introduced and we're forced to "embrace it", adapt, move forward, and grow comfortable again, so life figuratively becomes this sputtering traffic jam of incremental experiences, and right now, there's a lot of road range.

I'd like to think of polyamory as an experiment in "living" change. Polyamory embraces a more fluid sense of change and, hell, we encourage it. It's a tenant of polyamory that we don't wish our partners to stagnate and we actively promote their growth, development, and maturing as individual people. We want our partners to flourish and to be unconstrained... alas, even if that means they grow apart from us. If you refuse to accept that the freedoms we enjoy in polyamory may produce this seemingly undesirable outcome, then you will likely wallow in selfishness and misery for a time, perhaps repeating the same unfortunate habits again and again, until you realize (again) that love isn't ownership. A person and their feelings aren't your property. And there is no exclusivity clause in any arrangement. There is just ongoing, thoughtful, directed evolution of self.

So it's okay. It's okay that my girlfriend's husband is sad, and that he's confronting the crap in his past so it'll reshape his future. And it's okay that my girlfriend and her husband are addressing the issues between them, because maybe dealing with those problems will make a stronger and more intense bond. And it's okay that my girlfriend's husband's girlfriend has grown emotionally and found new passion for others and for a new life. And it's okay that my girlfriend's husband's girlfriend's husband has also embraced a new life where he is comfortable and where he can thrive.

It's okay. Everybody got - and still has (and this is really the key thought here) - everything that they wanted. Polyamory.


Progress and set-backs

When I am working with people following a physical injury there is a time that I talk with them about during the very first session. There will come a day that they are feeling pretty good, and so they decide to do something "normal". The problem is that their body still isn't normal. It's hyper-reactive, still trying to protect itself after whatever injury suffered, and suddenly, that simple act of, say, mowing the lawn, turns into a backward step in recovery.
Emotional trauma seems to have a similar impact on some. When one is hurt, there are so many stages of recovery that it can feel endless. One day, you're feeling pretty good, and decide to stretch a bit emotionally, and it bites you in the ass, pushing you back into a darker space. "Ugh! Will this never end? Are things going to stay this way forever?" you might think to yourself.

The other side of that physical experience I talked about in the first paragraph is that the second "recovery" period is often much shorter, because that body is already moving in a direction of healing. The person whose body it is gains a whole new awareness and appreciation for how much more care they need to take with their body, because even a healed injury isn't as strong in that same place as it was before it was damaged. Often, making sure to stretch and exercise the area, to maintain flexibility and strength, makes all the difference in the world. It just needs to be movement that supports, rather than overly challenges, the injured-now-healed area.

In that same way, emotional wounds heal, but the same emotional spots seems to be more prone to being sensitive. Finding ways to stretch and strengthen tender areas without aggravation is key to recovery. What are the ways to support yourself, on your own, and with the help of others? How can you stretch without overextending? Can you make your partner(s) aware of that? Most of all, if it hurts in a way that re-damages you, stop doing it! It's like pulling stitches out before being fully healed and wondering why you still have a gaping wound.

There will be rises and falls on the road of recovery. Expect it. Continuing forward when it would feel so much easier to stay down and wallow is where true courage comes into play. Sometimes, it's fake it 'til you make it, but healing is what the body does, it's what the heart does, and it will get there eventually.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


There is a strong inclination that most of us have to seek parity in our connections with others. When we're interested in them, we would like them to be interested back. When we take the time to call, it'd be nice if they pick up the phone and show the same level of initiative. When we love someone, we want them to love us back with similar intensity. When we have a sexual connection with someone, we want them to desire that just as deeply. We'd have the same level of interest in getting together, at the same frequency.

In an ideal world, all those things would happen. They'd even happen naturally, without talking about it. Guess what? We don't live in an ideal world. There are going to be things that lack parity in our relationships, where that level difference can be a deal-breaker. It can also be something that pushes one to grow in a direction they would not have chosen independently.

Maybe you aren't comfortable asking for what you want. Inexplicably, you find yourself strongly drawn to a person who seems oblivious to what you desire from them. This could be just the nudge you've needed to be more assertive, to learn to take a no, or how to earn a yes from someone you feel connected to. It could also demonstrate the need to take a look at partner selection skills again, to help identify connections that would be more attuned to your needs, less self-centered.

Perhaps you find yourself in a relationship where the sexual component has fizzled on one side or the other. This could be a great opportunity to explore and reinvent the connection. To stop going on auto-pilot, or to look at having those needs met with a different partner if there is an unwillingness/incapacity with the first partner.

What if you are doing all the chasing with someone? You send the emails, plan the dates, make yourself available, and the best response in return is to elicit participation on a sporadic basis, if it's convenient to the other person. Do you enjoy the hunt that deeply? Is a one-sided connection going to be satisfactory as time goes by? Do you crave being crushed under foot as they walk all over you? Now is the time to stand up tall and walk away, or to reduce the amount of energy you are pouring into a given connection, and see if that starts to equalize.

There is no perfect formula, and every relationship will have some level of disparity in some aspect of the connection. Those uneven spots can be where you find the most growth, and ultimately, the deepest understanding of your own needs and wants.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Begin again

S and I were at a meditation class recently, and one of the ideas that caught my attention was this bit of wisdom: "Meditation is the art of beginning again." It isn't sitting like a rock contemplating your belly button lint for six hours at a time, it is about being able to re-focus when distractions occur, to stay present in the moment, to start over when something isn't going well or as expected. This is useful to me as a poly person as well.

In any relationship, there are going to be shifts, changes, different stages of development, and it can be tempting to hang onto what has gone before as a way of predicting what may happen next, or to cling to the agreements and plans that we made previously. The problem with this paradigm is that we all keep changing, and circumstances shift. There is no crystal ball that is going to tell you what is coming next. There is only the opportunity to begin again. By staying focused and conscious of where you are, rather than where you have been, or where you want to go, what you wish for, acceptance comes more easily.

Goal-setting can still be an important part of this journey, but I find staying relaxed enough to shift into what is, rather than pushing towards what may be, less stressful. If something gets way off-track, just begin again. Seeing a need to start over as failure isn't useful. Apply what you have learned, plot a course forward, and begin again. There is always a new opportunity waiting for you anytime you desire it. Begin again.