Tell Us!

Confession time! Tell us one of your poly mistakes. 

Here's one of mine: I dated a poly person who's primary partner said she was never jealous. I believed everything he told me she felt, until one day she decided to veto me. Now I always offer to talk to metamours myself!

Comment yours below! (Note that Facebook comments are public.)

The S Word

“You’re just a slut.”

That’s the response I get when I describe my style of polyamory to people. I am not married and I don’t have any live-in partners. One of the reasons I have relationships is to have sex. I have both casual sex and sex in the context of committed relationships. In monogamous eyes, that makes me a slut.

The monogamous view of relationships is that people who love each must move up the relationship escalator, slowly (or quickly, depending on hormones) progressing from casual dating, to living together, to married and parenting. But consider that while people get married for many reasons, the reason they get divorced is often infidelity. Why do people cheat? Because they lack companionship, emotional support, or--most likely--sex. Adults have needs, and they form relationships to satisfy them. Polyamory is a way to get needs met without asking one partner to fulfill all of them.

I do solo polyamory, which means I seek relationships with people without connection to any other relationship. I look for a partner who can meet one or more of my needs for companionship, fun activities, emotional support, and sex. Once we decide we’re compatible, we make agreements and see each other when we can. As the parent of a special needs child, that “when we can” varies from weeks to months. My partners are young and old, married and unmarried, straight and queer. They all consent to the relationship and know as much about each other as they want.

A long time ago I dated a man who was cheating on his wife. Our rendezvous were exciting--we met in parking lots and out of town restaurants. I enjoyed spending time with him, but every time we went home, I knew he was lying to his family. What would his wife think when she found out, if not about me, about some other woman who was younger, more interesting, more beautiful, or sexier? Some couples survive infidelity, but on the way to a lifetime of mistrust is heartache, drama, and loss of friends. Being the cause of that pain was not for me. I no longer date people who are not open and consenting. I find plenty of partners who are willing to have difficult conversations about their needs and wants, and are happy even when they can’t meet some needs for a partner. My poly is about loving people, and what better expression of love is there than sex?

That’s why I’m a slut.

Do you have an experience to share about the polyamorous lovestyle? Tell us!

A Little Sugar in My Bowl

Ruby Bouie Johnson gathers wisdom from sexologists and sex therapists.

“I want a little sugar In my bowl I want a little sweetness Down in my soul I could stand some lovin’ Oh so bad Feel so lonely and I feel so sad”

Nina Simone

There is an ache and ravenousness in music that expresses an emotional hunger. The insatiable music of Nina Simone’s song “A little sugar in my bowl” suggests unrequited sexual need and desire. The yearning expressed in the lyric, “Feel so lonely and I feel so sad,” summarizes the uneasiness from a person experiencing the unmet need for desire. This unease can keep someone awake at night tossing and turning seeking solution and understanding. I say this because of the emails I receive at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and 3 a.m.

As sex therapist, it is not uncommon to receive emails seeking answers to “where has the desire, passion, and intimacy gone?” The person speaks and writes with exasperation about the frustration, confusion, and longing for connection and affirmation from their partners. Unfortunately, those expressed desires for affection are met with aloofness, dismissiveness, and unresponsiveness. When the harmony within the relationship is disrupted, disenchantment, disengagement, and avoidance follows. At this point, partners seek help for their relationship.

Your partner’s response to your desire matters

James Wadley PhD, LPC-S, sex therapist and relationship expert in Philadelphia, defines desire as, “… simply the need or want of something.” He continues, “Desire does not infer that an action will take place to satisfy a want or need.” The perceived lack of action or lack of response to a partner’s expressed need may evoke a lack of confidence within the relationship – this deters intimacy. Therapists, sexologists, and clinicians continuously search for effective methods and techniques to empower their clients to promote enhanced intimacy. Those professionals in the sexuality field recognize a partner’s response to the expressed desire for validation, affection, and understanding is essential to build intimacy in the sexual health of a relationship. Responsive partners are communicating a level of understanding and intimate connection that demonstrates an ability to meet the needs of the relationship.

Harmonious Relationships

This reasoning aligns with the field’s contention that passion is fueled by cues of affection and understanding; with the relationship this shows mutually reliable support and promotes the priority each person’s personal needs—one of the major functions of close relationships.

Michael Salas, MS, LPC-S, CSAT, CST, is a certified sex therapist who works daily to help clients build healthy sexuality. Mr. Salas emphasizes that desirability is the responsibility of each person. “Many of us tend to think that the other person that we are with has the responsibility of making us feel a certain way. However, we ignore our own role in the responsibility that we have in opening doors that will help us feel that way.”

Relational harmony is disrupted when the perceived emotional, mental, and verbal cues are not present. Lack of presence for partners may lead to sexual avoidance. Within practice, this an essential exploration and important element to focus on within relationships. The complaint from one partner is that their partner rejects and “never wants sex.” The other partner’s immediate response is “All you want from me is sex.”

“When you are an object to your partner rather than a person, desire is typically low. I desire you as an object rather than a human being.” Mark Bird, PhD, LMFT-S, author of an upcoming book on problematic sexual behavior and connection.

What are some suggestions for creating more desirability in relationships?

Some Ideas?

Michael Salas believes “personal responsibility is key in developing or rejuvenating desire.” Cultural sexual scripts pigeon hold the proactive (initiator) and the reactive (receiver) into roles. The reactive role expects the attentiveness, acknowledgment, and validation from the actions of the proactive role. These unmet expectations are barriers. Once these barriers are exposed, the creative and collaborative process can begin. Christopher Smith, doctoral student in sociology (dissertation covers consensual non-monogamous trends in current and historical context) at Howard University, says, “When I think of desire, it is beyond physical desire. It is a simple as wanting a conversation or an interaction.”

It doesn’t take much. Simple, yet, powerful suggestions:

1. Being present. Conversation and time with a partner is about holding space for intimacy. The challenge comes when the voice inside your head is louder than the voice of the person you are having the conversation with at that moment. Being present moves beyond physically holding space. Intimate space is presence mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. Being present with your partner allows for you to pay attention to your partner.

2. Curiosity. When something is interesting, it grabs one’s attention. Being inquisitive about your partner creates a mutual connection of sharing and giving. People evolve based upon experiences, challenges, successes, and connections. Learn something new about your partner daily. Pay attention to the person you love.

3. Intentional interaction. Intention is the offering of time, commitment, and follow through. Prioritizing your relationship is about making space for its continued growth. Fondness and admiration is shown through the commitment to that growth. Following through with your commitment is intentionality.

4. Vulnerability. Allowing your partner to see the authentic person is a very loving act. The façade is about protecting self from rejection and abandonment. Believe your partner when they say “I care and love you.” Consistency and congruence assists with intimacy.

5. Willingness. Be open to trying things your partner wants, and never judge or shame them for their desires.

Keep the sugar in your bowl.

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.

New Research on Polyamory in the Black Community

Chris Smith recently published a research paper called Open to Love: Polyamory and the Black American. An active member of Black & Poly, he describes himself as an educator, community builder, father, relationship advocate and passionate about increasing awareness of and support for non-monogamous relationships structures in the United States. Recently he was interviewed in the podcast Poly Weekly.

Help expand knowledge about the Black & Poly community!

-Complete this survey by Howard University.

-Review his anthology's Call for Participants and submit the consent form if you're interested in being included.

-Read his research paper Open to Love.

-Get in touch with Chris Smith by email, Facebook, or Twitter.

My Poly Journey

My Poly Journey

A cross post from Free Spirited Aqua on her poly journey.

I am happy to say I have been getting to know myself a lot better and understanding what polyamory means to me. This is what I found out so far.

1. I don’t see myself dating a couple. It would have to be a dynamic set of ladies for this to happen. In my experience, couples seem more concerned about their relationship then the other people involved. Not to say, they don’t care. I also understand, it’s a change and one must allow for adjustments. I think problems arise when unexpected connections happen.

2. I can no longer date monogamous women. I just realized our relationship orientation is so different, I don’t see this working for either of us. I want a free loving relationship that allows for connections with consent, respect and open communication.

3. I have to be okay being judged. Unfortunately many have not been able to get past the title. I have lost relationships and some friendships. Their misconceptions consume them more than sustaining their connection with me. Let’s see, “How many women would you have? Remember to be safe out there?” or other questions related to sex. Polyamory is about building relationships and love. Not extra sex. I’m offended that you would think I am not aware of or care about my sexual health. I am offended that you can’t reflect on what you already know of me and know that I will not do anything to intentionally bring myself harm.

Have you been learning what you want in your poly relationships? Tell us!

Left Out

Kiikii Santana shares her story of being in a polyamorous relationship. Originally posted in the Black and Poly Facebook group.

A bit over 2 years ago, I started dating someone who introduced me to poly. That dynamic became very toxic: I would question his intentions with me, she would manipulate both him and I separately, he was in the middle feeling like nothing he did or said was good enough. Some time last year they broke up, she and I stopped communicating, and we (he and I) still remained close. We have had miscommunications this year about a few things which has made our connection weaker than it's ever been.

Anyways, this year came and he's been working hard on himself. He's becoming a better version of himself - smiling more, learning more and more about himself each day, and I'm extremely happy for him. Our relationship is still stagnant, but now instead of it being his ex, it's his work schedule that has gotten in our way. He works two jobs and barely sleeps or eats, which is taking a toll on him, but he enjoys it in a way. He and I both know that there are some things we need to work on in order to reconnect.

That is the short version of how things have been between us.

----------------------------------------------------------

When I came in the picture, he told me about his twin - a person he met online who is the female version of Him: same birthday, almost identical life story, etc. They mirror one another perfectly.

I've always been fascinated by them because of how identical they are, and I have always spoke to him about how they should finally meet and see how things go. He'd brush it off, thinking it wouldn't happen, but they finally met this year and they had a good time together--hectic but good.
Things between them are intensifying and I love it. I feel so happy and excited for them. Seeing him happy brings me happiness, and listening to him speak about her and how they speak about the future brings me so much joy, but it also brings me sadness.

I am sad because I feel left out. I feel sad, because I thought that after all we've been through together, we could at least rebuild our relationship - work on our communication, work on our friendship, reconnect, just get to know one another better, and have some time to do the things we have spoken about--create memories together, etc. Granted, we can still do so but it'll have to be another readjustment.

They speak about the future, what they want their poly to look like, household, BDSM, etc. And I just sit there and think "what about me?" I haven't felt secure in our relationship for a while. Just a few months ago, I went into a bit of a depression, because all of my insecurities resurfaced and I've started learning how to love myself and all, but I can't help but to feel envious about how they get to speak about things that I crave from him.

Like I said before, he introduced me to poly, and, him being the person he was, made me submit to him, but we haven't been able to experience any of BDSM power exchange. I've been very understanding, which he acknowledges, but I don't think he necessarily wants that from me. Yesterday, he said to me how he has been thinking about relocating closer to the state she lives in because of the job opportunities, lifestyles, etc. It took me by surprise, because the state she lives in is one that I thought about relocating to in the next few years because of all the things he has said. I never spoke to him about it, because we stopped speaking about things like that a long time ago.

He did say to me that he wants me to come with him, which made me smile, because again, I was thinking of relocating there at some point, and also because he thought of me and doesn't want to "leave me behind." But I also fear that maybe the reason why he doesn't want to leave me behind is because through all of the craziness we've experienced together, I've stuck around and have been patient and beyond understanding, so maybe he feels he owes me that.

Or maybe it is just me overthinking all of this?

I know he cares about me, and I don't want to have that same connection they have, because it is something special and something that I will eventually write a book about (with some twists). I just want him and I to strengthen our relationship.

Writing this helped me realize how deeply wounded I am and how I must heal and learn how to love myself, not just for him but for me. I honestly don't know what my point was in writing this, other than to vent and maybe get back some feedback. What I do know is that I am not feeling as overwhelmed as I was originally.

Do you have a story or advice to share? Write to us!

Three Questions

Wanting to explore an open relationship with your partner? We have many resources to help you navigate your poly journey, but first, ask yourself some questions. Are you in one of these three situations? (This article assumes you are married or otherwise coupled.)

  1. You’ve been married to your current partner and your relationship is stable but kind of boring. There’s a new person at work who flirts with you, makes you laugh, and makes you wonder...is the grass greener on the other side?
  2. You’ve already crossed the line with someone. You’ve had sex on the sly, and it feels great. You’re worried your partner will discover it, but you’re curious if this is actually a good thing.
  3. Your marriage is at a low point. The fights and stress are not worth it. If you haven’t already starting looking to others to meet your emotional or sexual needs, you’re thinking about it. What if there was a way to reignite the flame between you?

These describe very common situations in monogamous couples. They are also common entry points for couples that get into polyamory. Caution! These exact situations can actually hamper your future happiness with new partners. Let’s look at each situation in detail and how you can resolve them before becoming polyamorous.

1. Do you have someone in mind?

Polyamory offers the opportunity to explore love relationships with multiple people regardless of whether you are married or not. One person can’t meet all of the needs in your life; that’s why you have drinking buddies or or spa friends. In marriages, emotional needs get neglected just as often as our sexual needs. The spark you feel with your new friend points to something missing in your life. Sometimes it’s just the rush of stealing glances like teenagers. Other times it’s the late night phone conversations that help you feel loved. (If you’ve already crossed into emotional infidelity with this person, see quesiton 2.)

If you have identified someone who may be a good potential partner for an open marriage, take a step back. Does your partner know this person? Do they already suspect that your feelings for them may be more than just a friendship? If so, the bonds of trust are already starting to degrade in your marriage. Suggesting an open relationship may only confirm your partner’s fears of being left for the younger, hotter model. Even if your partner doesn’t suspect, your suggestion could start the death spiral of anxious thoughts about the health of your marriage. Have a frank discussion with your partner about what’s missing. What are your needs? What about your partner’s? How are they getting met or being neglected? Enlist the help of a counselor to help you hear each other. Polyamory requires trust and communication, so build those skills now! Don’t move forward until you both feel comfortable.

2. Have you already cheated?

When the outside world thinks of polyamory, they picture sex with multiple people. Even the typical stock photos are of threesomes kissing or in bed. So why not open your marriage to more sexual freedom? Whether you married young or want to explore another side of your sexuality, adventures outside of your marriage sound like a way to have fun and still stay secure in the life you’ve built together.

Infidelity is a serious breach of trust in a marriage. Even if the spouse never finds out, you are lying to a person you promised to commit your life to. Polyamorists make committments too. Cheating is not OK. There is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell but there is no Down Low. Therefore, before you engage in an open marriage, reveal your infidelity to your spouse. They may be hurt, they may not care, but you are starting the process of communicating your desires and how you want them to be met. Your partner did not consent to your affair, but they will need to consent to any relationships moving forward. Many times the spouse agrees to the open marriage only because they are afraid of divorce. Do your best to give them an honest choice. If they say no you are bound by that decision. Do not continue to hurt them by forcing them into an open marriage when they are unwilling. Once again, a marriage therapist will help you communicate with each other and get past any sticking points.

There are very few circumstances where I would recommend continuing a relationship with the person you cheated with. Your polyamorous relationships should be with people who are ethical. Your spouse will also likely have lingering mistrust about that person’s place in your life. If you want to be in a relationship with that person, do the right thing and get a divorce.

3. Is there some problem in your current relationship?

Marriages go through highs and lows, and sometimes people just stop meshing. Maybe your interests are different, or your schedules are out of sync, or you’re just disconnected. Often mismatched libidos lead people to try swinging or inviting a woman to have a threesome. Whatever problem you have in your relationship, new people and new feelings seems like it could bring back the connection you want with your spouse.

A marriage is between two people, and (besides a therapist) those two people are the only ones who should do the work of fixing your relationship. Polyamorous people want healthy relationships based on communication and openness. If you have unresolved issues in your marriage, you’re missing the boat on one of those. The last thing a poly person wants to do is get involved in a relationship with one spouse, only for the other spouse to demand that it end because “we need to secure our relationship.” Other people, especially bisexual women, are not here to make you feel good about your marriage. Understand your needs and where they are not being met. If both you and your partner agree to pursue an open marriage, start by reading and learning. Your expectations about what a new partner can do are likely wrong. Most couples date separately, and most bisexual women date men as well as women outside of their spouse. You are unlikely to find a woman willing to date both spouses in a serious poly relationship.

I know this post is full of bad news, but transparency is a big part of polyamory. We polyamorists put a lot of work into building relationships that are ethical, respectful, and honest. Your current relationship may need some work of its own, but hopefully that work make your relationship stronger or bring it to a place where it can end peacefully. Either way, you will develop good tools to enter into healthy polyamorous relationships.

Do you have questions about starting a polyamorous relationship? Ask us!

Book Review: Ayana The Return

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A book review of Ayana: The Return. This book contains adult content.

Peter Mack’s Ayana: The Return is a fascinating book about love, sex and intrigue. At its center are characters that have appeared before in Mack’s books, including the exotic Prada, a transgender escort with expensive taste. This was the first Peter Mack book I’ve read, but even though I was new to the world, it was easy to enjoy the plot and characters.

It’s hard to know what to expect from self-published eBooks because they usually don’t have the quality of popular authors who sell first edition hardcovers. This is true for Ayana; a good editor would have polished the formatting and insisted he write in past tense instead of present tense. Despite the flaws, Peter Mack has crystal clear characters, a solid style, and a sense of what makes a good story.

The characters include the aforementioned Prada, the main character Ayana, a grieving pastor with his own history, an evil villian straight out of the Bayou, and more than enough colorful secondary characters. Instead of each person being a stereotype, they have clear motivations, backstories, and personalities. I appreciated this, especially when I learned Prada was transgender. The black community can have a lot of hurtful stereotypes about transgender women, but I saw a lot of truth and thoughtfulness in her story. Ayana is similarly thought out and well written, and their relationship jumps off the page. I don’t know anything about Maserati or Gucci, but I’d love to be their friend. And just in case you were wondering, Prada and Ayana have multiple relationships (some ethical, some not) that make up the sweetest parts of the story. I’m happy to see a male author write multi-dimensional female characters, and I’ll forgive him for mentioning their breasts so often.

The plot seems to be part three in an Ayana series, but I don’t think I missed a lot by jumping into the middle. The story starts out with a bang (literally) and keeps up the momentum until the dramatic conclusion. I only wish I could have spent a little more time with the good guys after the bad guys were vanquished, instead of the climax and denouement being squashed into the same scene. That points back to Mack’s strength in writing characters. Luckily, they all appear in multiple other books. I’m interested to read the Licks trilogy, set in Los Angeles with the drug dealers we only got a glimpse of in Ayana. I don’t know if any of the lifestyle is true, but, just like any thriller, it’s more fun to watch the drama than to wonder about accuracy.

Peter Mack has written 16 books, all available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. I recommend him if you’re looking for exciting and sexy reading. Peter Mack is the pen name of Isiko Cooks, a member of Black & Poly. You can find links to his books, social media, and website below.

https://twitter.com/filthyconfess
http://facebook.com/petermackpresents
https://www.instagram.com/Novelist_Peter_Mack/

Website: http://petermackpresents.com/

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Ask Aunty: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

aunty

Ask Aunty is a regular feature of Black & Poly where real people ask about their polyamorous relationships. Aunty is here for you, so ask away!

Dear Aunty,

I'm trying to convince my husband to be poly. He doesn't mind if I step out on him, but he doesn't want to have an open relationship where he knows my partners. He's afraid of all the attention I'll be getting. He agreed that I can date as long as he doesn't know, but I feel like I'm lying to people. What do I do?

Date Anyway or Date Truthfully?

Dear DADT,

Your husband wants DADT--don't ask, don't tell. DADT works for some people when they understand why they don't want to know. Your husband is insecure, no doubt, and he wants to pretend he's satisfying you in every way. That's not true and you know it. You have sexual and emotional needs, and you already know one person can't meet all of them.

By asking for DADT, he's consenting to a poly relationship. Consent is the key. Take the deal and keep talking. He really doesn't want to know what private parts were where when, but tell him how happy you are. And always remind him that he's still your boo thang.

He still may get jealous and demand you end all the side relationships. Too late, honey. You will hurt your partners, yourself, and even your relationship with hubby. Aunty has been on the bad side of the veto and you can bet those numbers are blocked.

Keep being honest and open and you’ll show him how poly can make everyone happy.

Aunty

Do you have a question for Aunty? Comment below or use our contact form!

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Ask Aunty: Seeking Bisexual Mate

aunty

Ask Aunty is a regular feature of Black & Poly where real people ask about their polyamorous relationships. Aunty is here for you, so ask away!

Dear Aunty,

How do I find a polyamorous woman to date? I have a wonderful wife and we just agreed to open up our relationship. She's bisexual so I'd be happy to meet a woman to date both of us. But where do I find women?

Seeking Bisexual Mate

Dear SBM,

I'm ​going to ignore half of your question because the last thing you want to do is post in an online forum that you're LOOKING FOR A BISEXUAL FEMALE FOR YOU AND YOUR WIFE. Poly people are tired of hearing from unicorn hunters and you'll get your head snatched off every time you mention it. There are many ways to do poly, and a closed triad is not for newbies!

*Calm down Aunty. Deep breaths.* Finding a new boo is as easy as it was when you found your wife. You mean you didn't find her three months after you joined Match.com? I'm shocked! You probably dated multiple women before you even knew what you wanted. Then you learned to approach your wife like the lady she is--none of that “can I holla atcha?” Polyamorous women are smart as well as sexy, so you have to be more than a smooth talker. Know your needs and wants. Know what makes you a great catch, and know what type of agreements you would have between you two. (She's probably not going to agree to only date you and your wife. Too many horror stories, Aunty can tell you.)

Always be honest about your situation. Monogamous women don't understand that you’re not looking for a side chick. Even if you have to explain "polyamorous" a million times, you want her to know exactly what she’s getting in to. If you just want the occasional threesome, let her know. If you want someone to move in and help take care of your kids, make that clear too. That's why polys love the c-word--communication.

Remember, a polyamorous woman doesn't want to be the topper on your wedding cake. She wants fulfilling relationships with individuals, not the perfect couple from Monogamy Land. Accept that the women you will find may already be dating other partners with their own commitments and agreements. She may not be interested in your wife at all. That doesn't mean you two can't have a healthy relationship. You just have to change your image of the ideal poly woman, especially if you're imagining a bisexual sex goddess. (That's why they're called unicorns, honey. They don't exist.)

So how do you find a woman? Go to online dating sites. Visit your local poly community. Talk to other polyamorous people. Find a woman you like spending time with and see where things go. If she hits it off with wifey, that's great. If she doesn't want to move in to your future poly household, that's fine too. Let go of expectations and enjoy the journey.

Or else.

Aunty

Do you have a question for Aunty? Comment below or use our contact form!