BDSM and Polyamory

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Jai is back with her story of how BDSM and polyamory intersect. If you missed her first article, check out BDSM 101.

I was introduced to both lifestyles relatively at the same time within my first Dominant/submissive relationship. My Sir and I talked a great amount about life and relationships in general. The topic of polyamory came up. He asked me did I know what it was and how did I feel about it? I’m a very open-minded person and I had read about it prior to meeting him so I told him how I felt about the subject. That was the end of the conversation until months later when he told me that he had another sub and we would all be meeting and spending time together. The only thing he told me is “Don’t be jealous”. I don’t want any jealousy from you. That was the first time I even thought about the possibility of me being jealous of another woman.

Polyamory and BDSM–or D/s and M/s lifestyles–have several similarities, but the only difference is that there’s a power exchange aspect to these relationships. People who are in Dominant/submissive or Master/slave relationships maybe poly but then again there are those who seek monogamy within their dynamics as well.

One similarity is that most D/s poly relationships can be hierarchical. Like any poly relationship, people who are into BDSM can or single. Also, a common misconception is that couples who are into BDSM or the lifestyle, in general, are only comprised of a Dominant and a submissive. The reality is that there are couples in the lifestyle who both identify as Dominants. I’ve personally been in poly relationships with both types of couples. I won’t delve deeper into that but please do take a look at my article on BDSM 101 if you’re confused by any of these terms. I noticed that most married couples have a hierarchical poly situation but it’s not always an OPP(one penis policy) especially if both people identify as Dominants. Both of them may have submissives as each as well as play partners.

One of my relationships was with a married couple comprised of a Daddy Dominant and his baby girl wife. I was actually invited by her to be apart of their family. Her husband, the Daddy was our Dominant. She was a baby girl ,which is under the submissive category but she also had a male slave. They had a purely non-physical, non-sexual relationship. I was her husband’s submissive and I was also in service to her under that specific hierarchy.

To explain what the term “in service” means would show how hierarchy plays a role. In service generally, means that I would also play a submissive role to her as well. That role is not always sexual as with any other relationship. Because they were married and I was coming into the relationship I was the third and therefore was beneath her in the BDSM dynamic.

Another similarity is that often times there is an OPP (one penis policy) The OPP is also rooted in the power exchange that’s within that particular relationship. Personally, I’m opposed to an OPP but once I enter into that power exchange with a Dominant, I can expect that.

The Power exchange is the true distinction. An s-type (submissive, slave, babygirl or masochist) willfully give over that power to their Dominant in exchange for guidance, protection and or leadership. While the s-type has the established responsibilities that his or her Dominant has stated that they need.

Polyamory with a female Dominant woman can look very different. While there is still a power exchange dynamic there may not be an OPP. The female dominant’s sexuality may play a role in this, and if her submissives are male or female. An example is if both the dominant and her submissive are bisexual or pansexual, they both may have other male or female partners to varying degrees and intensities.

All in all, polyamory is and can be integrated into any type of alternative lifestyle. It all amounts to loving and being open to love more than one individual.

Do you have experience with BDSM? Comment below or send us your story!

Stop Sharing Partners!

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As the second eldest of eight children, I learned at an early age the importance of sharing. After a certain amount of children, we became a unit, a flock, a group, and were treated as such.

That’s not to say our individuality was lost, but it can be quite expensive gifting and even treating a large family. Enter: group gifts. These were generalized items that we could either enjoy collectively, or pass around individually. Share.

This became second nature after some squabbles, and eventually sharing became something we wanted, and volunteered to do. But every so often we would receive a personalized gift, one in which we did not have to share as a default, but with permission.

I had several possessions which I passed along happily, keeping a watchful eye on my younger siblings as they tend to destroy all they came in contact with. But my prize possession was MINE. No human dare ask to borrow it, lest they be subjected to a fury hell hath not endured. My coveted possession was cherished and loved to destruction or loss by my own hands.

Unlike that toy or gift, my lovers aren’t mine to possess (unless we’re talking kink.) They aren’t my toys to lend out. They don’t belong to me to share. In all actuality they are sharing of themselves with me. They are free thinking, free loving, individuals, who can make their own decisions, do what they please with their bodies and love, including sharing it with others. It’s their possession, not mine. Respectfully, my body, time and love is my possession to share with whom I desire, without ‘permission’ from anyone.

This concept is what allows me to appreciate them more, not taking for granted that we will be together. I no longer feel entitled to or believe in forever, but am appreciative for every beautiful moment spent together, that we share with each other.

Polyamory is about consent, yes, but what we are consenting to is the non monogamy, not how that looks. All too often when meeting new loves we are bumping into more restrictions imposed by other parties than liberties. And isn’t liberated love essentially what Polyamory about?
Are your relationships prisons and boot camps masquerading as a good time? Trying to control every aspect of your love’s lives is like monitoring your younger siblings in hopes they don’t break what’s ‘yours’. Expecting new partners to thank you for sharing what isn’t essentially yours to share, is quite possessive and in fact screams “Monogamy conditioning!” More so than Polyamory.

This may be one of the reasons so many of those who transition or are even considered vets may have a hard time! Self work= Self worth. It begins with understanding the value of self and how we would like to be loved unrestricted like children.

When we stop looking at ourselves and our lovers through the eyes of a toy mongering 3 year old, and truly understand that they belong to themselves, and we, ourselves, we may be able to loosen the reigns a little and enjoy life and loves just a bit more.

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.

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!

A Unicorn by Any Other Name

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A Unicorn by Any Other Name……

“Unicorn.” One of the first terms of the polyamorous lexicon that I encountered upon entering the non-monogamous world. Generally it is used to describe a single bisexual female willing to become sexually and/or romantically involved with a couple that is usually comprised of a heterosexual man and a bisexual woman. You need not be in the polyamorous community long to become aware that it is a hotly contested term with negative connotations. Just try posting in a polyamory group asking who identifies as a unicorn and you’re in for a bumpy ride. You also need not be in the polyamorous community long to become aware that there are many unicorn horror stories, many women who complain of the predatory-like tactics of “unicorn-hunters” (heterosexual couples looking for a bisexual woman to “complete their union”), many who lament the evils of couple-privilege, closed triads, and being a “third”.

I was initially tasked to write some of those stories. Even had a clever little title for my article. “Tales from the Unicorn Stable”. I posted on my page and in several groups asking if anyone who identifies as a unicorn would be willing to share their experience being such with me. I received quite a few responses from those who wished to participate, all of them being women which didn’t surprise me, but I was struck by a thought. Bisexual women aren’t the only ones with “unicorn” stories to tell and the fact that we don’t hear the stories of the other persons in the polyamorous community having “unicorn” experiences is disappointing.

The reality is that lesbian couples seek single lesbian women to form a triad. Gay men seek other single gay men to form triads. Lesbian couples comprised of two bisexual women often seek a single heterosexual man to join their unit as gay couples comprised of two bisexual men seek single heterosexual women to join them. Couples with a heterosexual woman and a bisexual man also seek a single bisexual man to join them. Couples with gender queer/gender non-conforming/gender non-binary persons who seek other single persons who identify as such to form triads with. Basically, if you can think it, it exists. While these instances aren’t as frequent, bisexual women aren’t the only ones subject to the phenomenon of being sought after by eager couples looking to “add to their relationship”.

I mentioned in a comment on one of my posts that I wished I could find a male “unicorn” to interview and a friend of mine who would be categorized by the classic definition of the term expressed what I perceived as a sort of ownership over the word. She replied that interchanging the word to include other persons besides single bisexual women was confusing. I understand her point but how then are these other people who are having these “unicorn-esque” experiences supposed to share their stories when there is no language for them to do so because the definition of unicorn is so narrow? She also expressed not wishing to be objectified by the term while another woman that I spoke to said that she loved being called a unicorn. To her, it has a mythical, magical quality that she enjoys being associated with herself.

Since I don’t technically fall into the original definition of the term, I am a little hesitant to prescribe this but I think the definition of “unicorn” should be expanded to describe the phenomenon of the two seeking the magical one to form the fully connected three. Many women who are categorized as unicorns balk at the term and being objectified as such but if the term were broadened to define a concept and not a specific type of individual, that objectification would lessen because it would include a variety of examples. I also think that the narrowness of the term allows for other types of couples who don’t fall into the classic description of “unicorn-hunters” to believe that they aren’t carrying out problematic behaviors in their search for their “third” because how can they be “unicorn-hunters” if they aren’t looking for a “unicorn”? They may not be looking for a single bisexual woman but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t committing many of the same faux pas that most unicorn-hunting couples commit like treating the new person as an add-on to the existing relationship, making rules and agreements for the new person before they even enter into the relationship, not allowing for the new partner to develop individual relationships with each party in the couple, wielding couple-privilege all over the place, etc.

As this community expands and evolves, so will its language and words. One of the things I love and loathe about language is its ability to adapt and to change. I think it’s time that we examine some of those terms and ask do they fit us anymore. Triads are not all heterosexual male/bisexual female/bisexual female. They come in many varieties and are made up of a multitude of genders and sexualities. And just like there are many different kinds of horses, I think there are many different kinds of “unicorns”. While the experience of a bisexual male in a couple would I’m sure be different from a bisexual woman’s, I’m also confident that they’d find a lot of commonalities in being the person entering into an already established relationship of two.

To quote Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and I believe a “unicorn” by any other definition, would still be as magical.

BDSM 101

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What is it?
BDSM or Bondage Dominance Sadomasochism. Historically it is a coined phrase from the “fathers of sexual deviance,” as I like to call them, the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. For many people, BDSM is a lifestyle choice that they live 24/7 while others choose to be involved just in the bedroom or when they can make time.

Couples involved in the lifestyle enter into the D/s lifestyle (Dominant/submissive) or M/s (Master/slave) lifestyle for several reasons. Those entering into the lifestyle and who desire to live it 24/7 decide to enter into a contract between themselves. By entering into a contract, both the dominant and the submissive are aware of what their responsibilities are. Every contract and dynamic (relationship) is different. Some relationships are lifelong, while others, just like any type of relationship, may last several months or years.

Short term play is called a scene. A scene is role play that has been negotiated between the two people. Another short term arrangement can be a professional who works at a dungeon that been can hired, most commonly known as a Dominatrix (female). There are professional male Dominants, but they are less well known. Professional submissives (male and female) can be hired out as well.

Specific lifestyle philosophies
Most practitioners of BDSM follow two different philosophies:

  • Safe sane and consensual (SSC) which is a term which came from a gay activist organization in the 1970s that revolves around activities that are safe for everyone involved.
  • Risk Aware Consensual Kink or (RACK) which is another practice within the kink community that some people use to ensure all parties involved take individual responsibility for their actions.

 

What It Isn’t
BDSM isn’t abuse. BDSM isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. There’s a very clear distinction between BDSM and sexual abuse. So what are the most common misconceptions about the lifestyle? Some of the most common misconceptions are:

  1. BDSM is only for white people and that only white people do it. That is very far from the truth. There is a very strong community of black and brown kinky people within most major cities: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, to name a few.
  2. It’s all about pain. While there are sadists and masochists who enjoy the pain aspect, not everyone identifies with the need to inflict pain or the desire to receive pain.
  3. It’s all about sex. While sexual contact and sex may be a part of some people’s scenes or what they enjoy when they play, for most people it’s not necessary. For most people, like myself, I got into BDSM not for sex but to figure out certain things about myself. I got into the lifestyle for some semblance of normalcy and structure.

What are the Titles?
There are specific titles and categories that most people like to place themselves in based on how they want to be viewed. The most common and most known are dominants and submissives. In general, dominants can be categorized as Masters, Daddys/Mommys, Sadists, or Tops and they are not gender exclusive. Dominants can be either male or female. Submissives can be baby girls/boys, brats, masochists, slaves or bottoms. Another category is called a switch. A switch is a male or female who posses both dominant and submissive traits and tendencies. Other categories are hedonists, voyeurs, exhibitionists, rope tops, bottoms, riggers, and bunnies.

Activities Within the Community
People within the BDSM community have a variety of options that they can enjoy with others who life the lifestyle as well. Some of the most common are:

  • Munches. Munches are get togethers in a neutral, non-kink setting such as a restaurant or bar. People meet to talk, eat, and communicate with others in the community.
  • Play parties. Play parties are parties involving play at a local dungeon that has BDSM equipment to use. Some are open to the public. Often it is a private, invite-only event. Cost can range from free to $40 depending on membership and if there will be someone teaching a technique or speaking on a particular topic.
  • Classes. Classes can be on history, relationship advice, or certain techniques such as how to use implements like a flogger or single tail whip.
  • Sloshes. Sloshes are munches that involve alcohol. Sloshes are held at a local bar or an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages.
  • Conferences. Often throughout the year, across the country, conferences are held at hotels. These conferences may range from just a day to a whole weekend. These events are more in depth in regards to the classes and topics being discussed.

 

My Personal Story
I decided to join an online fetish community (Fetlife) because at the time my best friend had joined, and she said it seemed interesting. Me being who I am (always curious) I decided to join. It was something new and exciting and I am always up for something new and exciting.

When I joined the site, I thought I was going to have a different experience. I got weird inbox messages from men I didn’t know and didn’t care to know. I felt like they were rude, and they talked to me like they knew me on a personal level. I wasn’t having that, so I deleted my account, feeling slightly upset and defeated. My father had recently passed away, and I needed to take a break from everything.

A year later, I decided to come back and give it a try. Something was nagging away at me deep inside. I felt like I was missing something in my life. On the surface I had everything going on for myself. A good job, a house, and my children were doing good. But something was missing. I felt like my life was chaotic. I had goals and things that I was accomplishing, but I needed more structure and more rules.

So I jumped back on the website and joined a few groups. I joined groups that mainly catered to submissive women. I learned a great deal about what true submission was. It wasn’t just doing what my mate wanted me to do, and it wasn’t just making his dinner. I soon met my first Dominant. The relationship changed me for the better. He taught me so much and also challenged me to learn why I was in the lifestyle and what I ultimately got out of it. Through self discovery and research that he required, I learned that being a submissive required so much strength. I willingly submit to another person’s will. To trust that that the other person has your best interest at heart that is true submission. That relationship ended, but I went on to have other D/s relationships, and they all taught me a little bit more about myself and what I needed. I’m grateful for my journey.

Do you have experience with BDSM? Comment below or send us your story!

Further Reading
Story of O by Pauline Reage
Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman
9 ½ Weeks by Elizabeth McNeil
Exit to Eden by Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure
Belinda by Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure
Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure
Something Leather by Alasdair
The Wet Forever by David Aaron Clark

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.

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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!

Mr. & Misogyny

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Although the title is meant to be witty and slightly humorous in the name of starting a conversation, the people I’m describing can be quite the opposite. You know them. Or maybe you ARE them. The forced OPP couple who have deemed it “Unicorn season”. The Hoteps who insist their “secondary” single girlfriends date only them while they themselves are married. The wife who only wants to play pillow princess to, but could never marry or take a relationship serious. Even the LGBTQ couple who fall into heteronormative gender identifications in which the feminine party is viewed as less than, or subservient to the masculine or otherwise dominant one.

For some reason or another polyamorous people are sometimes looked upon as more enlightened and or evolved than the general monogamous population.

Some of us will argue that monogamy is actually the devolution of the natural order of things, but I can agree that the ability to connect to and love more than one person in these times is hella progressive.
But to think that these poly-oriented people don’t each come with a customized set of very human and sometimes downright oppressive belief systems is not a stretch, it’s just incorrect.

I can only speak for my experiences , and those that have been shared with me from other non mono people. I listen to the stories of women and men who try to love these people, only to be treated as less than, or even as some kind of disposable object, here for the entertainment of those who subscribe to these ideals. The worst of these stories end in abuse, self esteem issues and other emotional and psychological damage.

I myself have my own tales to tell, as a masculine leaning androgynous queer person in a largely hetero community, (many woman I date are married to men) I have been made to feel as though my relationships are invalid. As if my presence in a married woman’s life was temporary, a phase she was going through, and not to be taken seriously. And not just by the men in these scenarios.

I’ve seen men and women alike flip out over wives for even wanting sexual encounters with men, but won’t push to meet or otherwise interact with me in the same situation because “men are different”. As if somehow my vagina makes me safe. Or not as bad. Or anything less than capable of doing just as much damage as my male counterparts. How cute, my girl has a girlfriend!

How do we move past misogyny in a society in which rape, domestic abuse and other atrocities are often blamed on the victims? How do you convince a woman her internalized misogyny is toxic to free thinking, womanist or feminist types, and this may be why nobody wants to “inbox her man if they aren’t eating her p*ssy” as one meme I saw suggests?

Here’s an idea; by not entertaining that mess. Say no to the date with the dude that insists you wear heels and know how to cook. Don’t hook up the woman who lets you know she could never go beyond sex with a woman. Let the woman who expects you to pay for the date know, men can be treated too. Call out the LGBT folks who belittle those who don’t fall into their already marginalized hypocrisy. Y’all need to check yourselves. This ain’t the 50’s!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for living your truth unapologetically. We are in a free thinking society in which one can do what they please, and some folks are OK with varying schools of radical thought. This is all good! But instead of forcing these hyper masculinity based belief systems on the rest of us, find each other and be happy. Let Mr. and Misogyny take their forced OPP elsewhere. Let the rest of us poly in peace and equal love.

What’s your take? Share it with 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!