Review: The Game Changer

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The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love by Franklin Veaux

“There is no yardstick for measuring love; nevermind that the heart doesn’t follow rules.”

This quote caught me off guard, and, once I truly understood it, it resonated with me. The author, Franklin Veaux, is the grandfather of modern polyamory in my opinion. His memoir highlighted all his struggles with navigating non-monogamous relationships when there was no such thing. He made errors that I’m grateful for, sad to say. Those errors made a lesson on how to treat your partners ethically and with compassion while not losing who you were ultimately.

His wife Celeste,was a classic example of someone who had a lot of insecurities about herself. Later on in the book, it pointed out that she never considered herself polyamorous, but monogamous, while having sexual relationships with men that she never loved. Sadly, I know someone who deals with this. While I read it, I grew angrier and angrier, because this scenario is what someone I care about is experiencing.

I really would like to one day speak to Mr. Veaux and thank him for his contributions. Thank him for breaking down barriers and societal norms. Anyone who challenges mainstream society and monogamy is my hero.
I’d suggest this book to any poly newbie looking to gain perspective on a more personal level than some of the other nonfiction books on polyamory. While More than Two and The Ethical Slut are great reads for those that are just coming into non-monogamy, The Game Changer is for those of us that have made mistakes and want to know how real people fixed them, while unlearning all the toxic things that monogamy has taught us to be.

Buy the book from our shop.

How Do I Convince My Partner?

Polyamory is becoming more and more mainstream, and more people are recognizing that they have the capacity to include more romantic and emotional relationships in their lives. What happens when your partner has not come to the same conclusion as you have? How do you convince them to try polyamory?

The short answer is: you don't. Polyamory is a personal journey of discovery and self knowledge. Some people believe it is an orientation and not just something you do. Below are suggestions for talking to a partner about polyamory when you think they may be reluctant.

Before you bring up polyamory to your partner, know the reasons you have for doing so. Consider these three questions and understand the consequences of bringing up polyamory if you are having marital problems, have cheated, or have a specific person in mind. Those three situations are not only the most common, they are the most likely reasons married couples fail to find healthy polyamorous relationships.

Another step to take is to be informed about the world of non-monogamy. Understand the difference between swinging, polygamy, and polyamory. Your initial idea of a poly relationship will most likely not be what you end up with. Polyamorous people have the freedom to define and redefine their relationships as time goes on, so prepare to be flexible about who you are looking for.

Spend even more time understanding how you want to be polyamorous. Many black people choose polyamory as a way to rebuild the black community. Others choose it because they recognize they are able to love multiple people. Others desire multiple sexual partners with the choice of how to engage emotionally.

Know yourself beyond the desire to date outside your marriage. Many men start the journey once they decide they would like to date two bisexual women. Go deeper. Why do you want your partners to be bisexual? To what extent will you share your home, finances, and children with each partner? What if they have no desire for threesomes or sexual relationships with your other partners? What if they are asexual? What if they are dating other people, including men? What if your partner is nonbinary or dating someone who is gender non-conforming? The more you understand about how polyamorous people define themselves, the sooner you will find what you are looking for.

Once you have a good understanding of what you want and why, it's time to discuss polyamory with your partner. This is never a one time discussion. It is an open-ended conversation that takes into account your current situation and your partner's desires. At every step of the process, you must be open and honest. Polyamory is not about surprises or ultimatums.

Start by explaining what polyamory is to your partner. Have them read the FAQ if they have misconceptions. Allow them to digest the information. Most people who grow up monogamous believe that love is a scarce resource, and, if you want to love others, that means you don't love them. That's why it's important to maintain your current relationship with communication and outside counseling if needed. Your partner will never be comfortable with polyamory if they see it as a way to replace a deficit they have.

After the initial conversation, begin to talk to your partner in the language of wants and needs. Ask your partner about their wants and needs. Talk about what you can do to meet those needs. Acknowledge that you are not always able or willing to meet them. If you agree with the areas they see you lacking in, do the work to meet them halfway--not in a temporary way to get them to agree to polyamory, but because you care about them and desire a better relationship.

This kind of negotiation is the key to any relationship. As their partner, you are agreeing to meet some of their needs and desires. It is up to you to decide how you will meet them, but you must get feedback on how you are doing. If you come to a point where you do not want to meet a particular desire, you are free to say no. This includes sexual relations. Marriage does not obligate anyone to perform actions that they are not comfortable with. Use open communication to explain why you are not comfortable and what you can offer instead. Your partner may react negatively, but maintaining your boundaries is another key skill in a relationship. These intense discussions about wants and needs will prepare you for the work of maintaining multiple polyamorous relationships.

Do not begin a polyamorous relationship without your partner’s consent. Above all, polyamory is about openness and honesty. You must do the work within your current relationship so that your partner feels that their needs are being met, even if yours are not. Only when your partner feels loved and desired will they understand that polyamory is a multiplication of love, not a deprivation. If you break your partner's trust, you will move your poly journey ten steps backwards.

It's also possible that your partner may never believe that polyamory is a good idea. If they are convinced of that, you have the ability to end the relationship. Divorce is painful and difficult, but it is often the right thing to do when people are not able to meet each other's needs. The joy of being a polyamorous person is that you do not have to cut ties with your partner. If you still love them, you can maintain a relationship with them at the level they are comfortable with. However, recognize that your partner may want to disengage completely if you have decided that you are polyamorous and are leaving them because they are not. Do not continue any relationship that is abusive or unhealthy for you.

Recognize that everyone has the right to choose their own path. Your partner may or may not choose polyamory along with you, but with courage and communication, you can begin your poly journey the right way.

What If I Get Jealous?

It's my right to be hellish. I still get jealous.

-Nick Jonas, Jealous

Jealousy is common in all human relationships, and if you're transitioning into the poly world, you may wonder: how do I deal with jealousy? In this post, I'll explain that polyamory is not about avoiding jealousy, but processing it in a healthy way.

Monogamous relationships are all about status. First kiss, social media pictures, dinner with the parents--many significant events in a relationship center around when a couple is official. Online forums obsess about when you should have the DTR (Define the Relationship) talk. Modern society believes in an invisible line you cross when you go from single to partnered. Marriage, of course, is the ultimate expression of status. Once that line is crossed, partners are not even supposed to look at other potentials.

Jealous girl meme
Shutterstock's description is: "Disloyal man walking with his girlfriend and looking amazed at another seductive girl"

Society conditions us to feel jealous when our relationship is in potential danger. If we suspect that our partner may cheat or leave, jealousy kicks in and tells us to fight for the status quo. The bad news is that our fighting is not likely to change our partner's behavior. It will only cause drama and distrust, and it may drive the relationship to its end.

So how do you overcome jealousy when you choose the polyamorous lovestyle? First, recognize that you will feel jealous. When a female partner starts getting more dates than her male partner, he is likely to feel jealous. Insecurity may also be a factor. Many people worry that they're not good enough for their current partner. Once that partner starts dating, their imagination runs wild as they imagine the partner having more fun and better sex. 

When you run into jealous feelings, the key is to let yourself experience them. Don't try to ignore or explain them away. Sit alone on your couch and feel them. Rant with a friend (not someone you or your partner is dating). Cry into a pillow. Process your emotions. Once you do this, you'll realize the jealousy is covering other emotions. Perhaps you do feel insecure about your body or sexual performance. Perhaps you've always had low self-esteem and have tied most of your identity into your current relationship. Perhaps your needs for attention, sex, or touch are not being met. Analyze why you feel the way you do and come up with a solution.

Most of the time, your jealousy is not about your partner, but more about yourself. That means that any fixes you put in place should focus more on you and less on them. Consider therapy or couples counseling with a poly-positive therapist. Start looking for activities or meetups to keep you occupied and grow your self-esteem. Don't create restrictive rules about who or where your partner goes. Instead of demanding your partner text about their every move, ask that they check in before they head out with someone or give you extra cuddles when they get home. Its essential that your partner can say no to any of those requests. It's never their job to make you feel secure in the relationship.

If you find yourself still experiencing a lot of jealousy and are not getting your needs met, consider ending the relationship. Polyamory is a journey of self-knowledge, and even when long-term partners open up, they may realize they are better off without each other. Jealousy is not a relationship ending emotion, but it can be used to transform you into a healthier, happier poly person.

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

Who is Black & Poly For?

A group members asks the Facebook group to be inclusive.

Dear Black & Poly, can we visit or revisit the question of whether all black people should be allowed in this group?

Recently, a post came up on our wall about whether it was appropriate to request a partner restrict dating to black people. While the question was simple enough, some responses (many of which have been redacted) argued that white people were enemies unworthy of our love. The idea of interracial relationships, or “swirling” makes some people here sick.

I’m mixed, so this felt intensely personal. Does the thought of me, a product of an interracial relationship, make you sick? I came here because I’m poly, and I’m tired of walking into a room of white people and feeling on the outs because a black woman like me is overlooked or not seen as beautiful or not understood. And here I walk into my black family, and in less than a month of joining this group, I feel even more rejected than I do by the white folks.

Yeah, I might be half white, but I face a lot of the same stigma. I deal with the systemic racism, the lower employment chances, the fear of police, the lack of representation in the media and government. People avoid me and assume I’m on welfare. From being kicked out of hair salons to being called the maid in my own apartment complex, I deal every day with the same mess.

But.

If this group sees the white half of me as evil – that white half of me that was born and raised in Algeria during a civil war, the white half that almost died saving Algerian kids from being killed, the white half that worked on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after it escaped to safety, the white half that devoted its life to supporting the black African community here in the United States financially and emotionally for decades – then I don’t want to be a part of this group. And I think this group should seriously consider who it allows in, in the first place, because it’s crueler to say “we accept you as people” and then present rejection than it is to just say “no” in the first place.

We all know that there is no one experience of being black. Some of us are Southern, some of us are from the cities, some are from the suburbs, some are immigrants, and some are mixed. There are many more people than I’ve listed, and a bunch of us are in this group. It would be my personal preference to be as respectful of all of these experiences as possible, in the same way as we are as respectful towards all expressions of polyamory as possible.

So if your preference is to date one race, that hurts me a lot, but I can accept it. But if you see part of us black folk as the enemy because of how we are born or how we love, then rancor aside, let’s consider this as a group so those of us who don’t belong can form another community that will include people like us. Thanks for your understanding.

Editor's Note: Black & Poly is centered around black people and those who love them. Everyone, regardless of race, is welcome to participate in discussion. What do you think of our group's mission? Let us know in the comments.

Finding Partners

A common question for those beginning a polyamorous relationship is: Where do I find partners? The answer is amazingly simple, but this post will break down the various ways you can find a new partner.

In Person

Just as if you were in a monogamous marriage, people find their partners at the places they go frequently. People old and young enjoy going out to bars and restaurants, sporting events, concerts, or Meetups. For the more introverted types, there are game nights, books club, and discussion groups. Since monogamy is the default for most of the world, the people you are attracted to may not be familiar with polyamory. However, if you tell them you are polyamorous from the beginning (no later than the first date), you have a chance to start an honest conversation about your needs and desires.

Black & Poly has several local Meetups across the US. You can also search Meetup or Facebook for local polyamory groups. Polyamory groups often have a white, heterosexual majority, but showing up and representing your identity will go towards creating an inclusive environment.

Online

More and more relationships are started online. Black & Poly itself has an active Facebook group, though its goal is not to help people find partners. Interacting in online forums helps you find people who have similar interests. It's likely that you'll be attracted to some of those people, which can lead to a relationship. Just be conscious of the group's guidelines about messaging members and posting "seeking" posts.

Dating sites are also becoming more open to the idea of polyamorous relationships. OK Cupid is highly recommended in the poly community for its ability to mark yourself as polyamorous or in an open relationship. You can even use the filtering option to show only people open to polyamory. Google is your friend when searching for other dating sites. Just be aware of the differences between polyamory, open relationships, and swinging. You should clear on what type of relationship you are looking for when approaching people online. While many polyamorous people enjoy sexual relationships, it's rude to assume that's what they are seeking based on their identity as polyamorous.

Final Thoughts

Polyamorous veterans often find new connections occurring naturally as they live life. If you are new to poly, spend lots of time understanding yourself and your wants and needs before rushing into a relationship. If you are a couple, examine your own relationship and your reasons for opening the relationship. If you are single, be wary of looking for a couple as your ideal. If you are already in a relationship, your current partners must be aware of your desire to be poly and intention to date others. Keeping anyone in the dark is considered cheating, even in the poly world. (Don't Ask Don't Tell is one exception.)

Learn as much as you can about polyamory, and enjoy your journey!

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

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!