When people start exploring polyamory, their reasons for doing so lay out the initial map for the journey. But what happens when your partner tries to convince you to explore polyamory and you’re not ready? Should you ignore them? End the relationship? Acquiesce? Experienced poly people have tried all of them with mixed results. Continue reading “I Do it For You”
My grandfather died when I was in middle school. As with all funerals, there are a multitude of family members I’d never met or barely talked to. But hearing about one woman caught me completely by surprise: my mother’s half-sister.
My grandparents on my mother’s side had six children, and I knew them all well (they lived in Gastonia and surrounding towns). I had met their spouses, played with their children, and attended weddings and funerals with them. They’d never mentioned a seventh child, the daughter of my grandfather. My grandmother was reluctant to talk about her. My grandfather was dead. My mother doesn’t want me to talk about it online. But she exists, and the fact that she exists highlights an important part of black culture.
We are not monogamous.
If you’ve read Sex at Dawn, you’re aware of the historical underpinnings of marriage and how it is tied to property and birthright. It’s part of the reason polygyny (a man married to multiple women) is still acceptable across the world. As a black American, I don’t feel much connection with the African women in polygamous marriages. I do feel a connection with my great grandmother, who decided, after having five children, that she would have the next two with a different man. Was she a cheater? Most definitely. Did she have any other models of love and relationship other than monogamy and polygamy? Probably not.
During the slave trade, economic interest was stronger than marital bonds. Black families were routinely separated and sold to different owners whether they were married or single. A woman could not expect to stay on the same plantation with her father or her husband. She often could not decide who would be the father of her own children. Naturally, when freedom came, black families tried to create homes and communities that looked like white families’. They joined a culture that had decided monogamy was best, no matter how often the model citizens failed at it. But consistently up until the modern era, black families have looked more like single parent families, extended support systems, and skipped generation rearing.
Modern critics call it “the breakdown of family structures.” I call it the irreparable damage of white supremacy.
Research shows that, despite the fact that black Americans are less likely to be married than white Americans, black Americans still want and have romantic relationships. They just don’t always end with marriage. The stereotypical lower-income black mother with multiple “baby daddies” has a kernel of truth–black culture, in general, is accepting of serial monogamy and blended families. It’s acceptable to end a relationship when it no longer meets our needs, and it’s just as acceptable to ask that the ex participate in co-parenting along with or instead of a new partner.
Compared to the cultural standard, our way of doing relationships looks dysfunctional and unhealthy. Often times it is dysfunctional and unhealthy, but sometimes it works. Polyamory, a word invented in 1991, is about openness and honesty around our wants and needs. In polyamory, it’s normal to decide whether to live together or not, who participates in co-parenting, and who contributes financially. Black culture does not have to make a giant leap into polyamory–it just has to bring our current practices to the light. Not everyone is built for non-monogamy, and there is still work to be done around removing religion-based shame. At the end of the day, people will be healthier by having more options with which to live authentic lives.
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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!
Here’s another of type of posts available to our Patreon subscribers. This post contains adult content and language.
Wake up. Quietly slip out of bed. Close the door so wouldn’t wake them up. Cook breakfast. Nothing fancy. French toast, eggs, bacon and grits with juice. Makes plates. Prep bathroom so He can piss and brush teeth. Walk back in room. “Morning Sir. I cooked.” He sits up. I quickly kneel and slip on His slippers. We walk to bathroom. I stand and wait patiently. He walks into living room. I wait for Him to get comfortable. I pass Him the remote then quickly grab his food and juice. Wait patiently as He finds what He wants to watch and take His first bite of food. “Is it ok, Sir?” “Yes, baby. It’s fine. Go handle your business”. I quickly walk back to bathroom and flush toilet and prep toothbrush. Then go back to the room. Such a beautiful sight to see. I walk over to bed and kiss her on her forehead. She wakes up. “Morning beautiful. I’ve cooked breakfast. Daddy has been served. Your toothbrush is prepped and your plate is waiting on you.” She smiles and sits up in the bed. Grabs my hand as I begin to walk away. I turn around. She gets up and hugs me and kisses my neck. I blush. “You’re so sweet. Since you cooked breakfast, I’ll cook lunch and we can do dinner together.” My heart smiles. “Sounds perfect.” I say trying to tone down my excitement. She goes and brushes her teeth. I grab my plate and go sit at Daddy’s feet and eat. She comes in and sits down next to Daddy to eat. Daddy finishes before everyone. I pause eating to take His plate to the kitchen then return to His feet. “Finish eating. I’m going to get my clothes out. By time I’m done you should be done eating and ready to wash me.” “Yes Sir.” Washing Him gives me life. I finish eating and quickly put dish up and hurry to the bathroom to prep to wash Daddy. Sister wife finishes eating and begins to wash dishes. Daddy walks past me and goes into kitchen to kiss sister wife. My heart races. The very sight of them together makes my heart smile. She winks at me and Daddy walks back towards me and drops His towel.
What happens next? If you’re a Patreon subscriber you’ll get the password to the rest of the story!
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”
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.
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?
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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
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!
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?
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.