A short primer from Franklin Veaux of More Than Two:
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”
Can we stop?
Seriously, if I hear one more person say the reason they became polyamorous is because they “no longer wanted to be a cheater,” I’m going to scream. And yeah, OK, no one really cares about me screaming, but come on.
I’ll be transparent and say that early on I was that guy.
More than a hundred times I’m sure I’ve introduced myself or, worse, the idea of polyamory, under the notion that I was once a cheater, and, to cure myself, I began practicing this lovestyle. In retrospective let me definitively say, Nah Son.
The error in this line of thinking is threefold.
- On a personal level, while polyamory did allow me to develop myself as a husband, father, and man, changing my lovestyle did nothing to correct the flawed thinking that allowed me to lie, cheat, and not honor my relationships.
That was work I had to do on myself. Period. At best, I can say that these holes in my own character were exposed by the increased emphasis poly brings to personal accountability/responsibility. If I wasn’t brave enough to be honest with one person about my actions, thoughts, or wants, then there was no way I was going to be honest with two or more just because I have the poly flag tatted on my arm.
This leads us to the second problem with this line of thinking.
2) I was setting others up for failure. Directly or indirectly, I was suggesting to a person that, instead of working on themselves or their relationship, they could escape to the comfort of Polyville, where infidelity was a thing of past, and everyone got along holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Again let me say, Nah Son.
This is something to be studied. This is something to prepare for. This is something to be intentional about. This is NOT a reaction to one’s own shortcomings or growing you have to do in your current relationship. To make it plain: get your house in order before you cross this threshold, because these Black & Poly folks WILL CALL YOU OUT!
Which brings to my final point.
3) Spreading such a sentiment only serves to damage the image and culture of the Black & Poly community. As polyamory creeps from the shadows, it is vital that we control the narrative about our own community. This has been a life giving, family oriented, freeing process for many of us, and to conflate polyamory with cheating is irresponsible and discouraging for those seeking the same freedom and peace we have been granted. Dishonesty, lying, and cheating have no home here.
We are a community that holds ourselves and each other accountable. We are a community rooted in standing against every kind of abuse. We are a community that is about far more than sex or even romantic relationships. We ARE about freedom. Freedom is something you can’t cheat your way to.
Sometimes you need more than your Black & Poly community. This list of resources can help you find professional help for personal or relationship issues in your life. Continue reading “Professional Resources”
Originally written in 2013, Ron Young poses a series of question that may help you or your potential mates gain a better understanding of what you're looking for in a relationship.
Consider your Ideal Relationship
- Sum up your relationship in a quick sentence.
- How many partners do you have?
- What kind of connections do you have? e.g. primary, secondary, casual...other?
- How many partners would your partners have and how deep are the connections?
- Would all of your metamour be your lovers, too? Or would none of them?
- Do you or your partners have casual sex and/or swing?
- How important is this ideal to you, and how strongly do you pursue it?
- What sorts of poly relationships will you not get involved in, and what might you consider reluctantly?
- What nature of partners are you interested in? (sexual, BDSM, M/s, casual sex, casual play, emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, live-in, take out only, shared only, only not shared)
- Do you have hierarchical relationships? If so, how does that hierarchy work? Are you open to a changing hierarchy or are you committed to keeping particular partners in particular roles?
For the following questions, assume you are having a difference of opinion or a disagreement with a partner.
- Do you address it or just let it go? What determines your choice?
- Do you prefer to talk about things immediately, or wait a while? If so how long? (days, weeks, hours, years?)
- Do you believe you should 'never go to bed angry?' What does that mean for you?
- How would you feel about your partner talking over these issues with someone else that you know (a friend or metamour or whatever)?
- If you reach an agreement, how can it be changed and how long is it in effect?
How You Work in Relationships
- How do you define "faithful," "commitment," and "cheating?"
- Have you ever cheated on anyone? Is there anyone in your past who would disagree?
- How do you manage your time?
- How long have you been actively poly? Do you consider poly part of your nature, something you are experimenting with, or something else?
- Do you actively seek more partners? If so, how? If not, how has your poly been realized? How do people become your partners?
- How do you feel about long-distance relationships? Live-in relationships? Local relationships? Do you have particular restrictions on what sorts of relationships you can have with someone you do not live with? How about someone you do live with?
- How do you feel about your partner embarking on new relationships after the one between you is established?
- How would you be most comfortable dealing with changes over time? What are your feelings regarding rules, boundaries, and limits, whether stricter or more open?
- How are you feeling right now? Explain as you would to a partner.
- What are three things that make you feel loved?
- What are three things that hurt you deeply?
- How can a partner support you when you're having a hard time?
- What do you do to take care of yourself?
- What kinds of emotional support are you good at offering?
- What are your ideas about spirituality? How do you think those ideas are a part of your intimate relationships? How do you accept, respect and deal with diversity around spiritual beliefs and practices?
- Do you have children? What are your policies and agreements about your or others' kids and poly? At what point, and in what context/role do you you want your partners to meet your kids? What kinds of relationship would you want to have, or not want to have with partners' kids?
- Do you want to have future children? Do you have thoughts on with whom and when?
- What will you do in the case of an unplanned pregnancy?
- Does what you would do or expect in an unplanned pregnancy change with the nature of the relationship? How?
- What range are you comfortable with, regarding the amount that you know about your partners' other relationships, and what they know about yours? Every sexual detail? Nothing except that the other partners exist and maybe their first names? Whatever the metamour chooses to share with you directly, but very little via your common partner?
- What kind and level of involvement do you want among your partners? Is it important to you that they get to know each other, like each other, and/or become involved with each other romantically or sexually? How flexible are you on these desires?
- Do you perceive your relationships as affecting each other? Do you keep them completely separate and work to see that they have no effect on each other? In what ways do you perceive your relationships having an effect on each other? How’s that working for you?
- If a partner breaks up with you, how would you feel if they kept seeing a metamour of yours?
- What is, or what would you want for your relationship to your exes? If you do not know, how do you think/want it would look? (For instance, do you stay friends, do you never want to see or hear from the person again?) How has that worked for you in the past?
- What is your transition/breakup style ? If you do not know, how do you think/want it to look?
- How long have your relationships lasted in the past?
- After the dust has settled on your breakup or transition, have you ever made an attempt to reach back into that relationship? Not for your selfish desires of wanting to rekindle things, but to find TRUE GENUINE COMPERSION and friendship in that person whether or not they hurt you or you hurt them?
Have you asked these questions of yourself and your partners? What would you add?
If you are looking to expand your poly connections, a Meetup is a great way to meet like-minded people. This article will give you suggestions for how to make the most of your experience in the real world of polyamory.
Find your group
Black & Poly has several official groups on Meetup.com. Check out our official list, and if you don't find one, try searching for “polyamory” on the site. Facebook also has groups geared toward in person meets. Read the group description carefully to see if it is primarily a discussion group, a dating group, or a social group. Outside of B&P, the majority of poly Meetups are majority white people, but you can still find people you can learn from and be friends with.
Go with the right intentions
Go to the first Meetup just to get an idea of the atmosphere. Be aware of the group rules and how they apply you. Interact with the leadership and long term members so that you have an idea of how the group operates. If you are more introverted, sit back and watch how people interact. Do most of them appear to be friends outside of the group? Does one person dominate the conversation? Do people have poly configurations that you are interested in?
Whatever you do, don't go with the intention of finding a date right off the bat. Things can happen, but seasoned poly folk are hip to people who only come to hunt. Avoid monopolizing the time of the person you find most attractive. leadership will notice if you are too focused on one person. Spread your attention across the room. This will give potential partners an idea of how you interact with others and the chance to make friends. This is especially true when you are at a mixed race Meetup. Feel free to make conversation with the other black people there, but talk to others to avoid giving the impression that you are part of a clique.
After you attend one Meetup, attempt to attend at least one other before giving up on the group. You may not like the vibe at one meeting, but you might enjoy it with a different mix of people. Attending other events lets the leadership know that you are there to be a part of the poly community, not just to find a date. Regular members become trusted members, and within time others may recommend people who you might be compatible with. You will also learn a lot about the different types of poly and common mistakes to avoid in relationships.
If you are a couple, try attending Meetups separately. Many poly people bring their partners to Meetups because they know they will have at least one person to talk to. However, you risk being viewed as unicorn hunters when you sit together the whole meeting and only talk to the same people. Separate yourselves and interact as individuals. Admit it if you are new to poly and unsure about process. Once again, do not try to pursue a date at your first Meetup. Have a conversation and tell them you hope to see them at the next one. If the person is showing interest, ask if you can contact them after the meeting. Do not assume that because someone spent time talking to you that they are interested in dating you.
But what about dating?
Once you have attended three or four Meetups, you will have a sense of the diversity and scope of the group. This is the time to focus on people you have a connection with. Keep an open mind: they may become partners, or they may become good friends. Try not to burden new friends with complaints about the dating world. Everyone knows finding compatible people is hard, and dwelling on it makes you seem desperate. Instead, talk about your shared interests and positive events from your life.
If you are a man or male-identified, do your best to allow the other person to take the lead. Women and femme-identified people are usually turned off by someone who asks a lot of personal questions, especially those related to their dating life and what kind of person they are looking for. They will volunteer that information if they are comfortable. If they like you, people will either seek you out at future events or ask for your contact information. That is not to say that you can't ask to contact them in the future. Just be aware that you may be misjudging their interest. If you contact the person a few times and do not get much response, move on.
The same rule applies for couples. Do your best to talk to different people at events so you are not seen as inseparable. Even if you are looking for a triad, learn from others about their poly styles and experiences. Never ask a woman if she is “single.” If she's at a poly event, she's most likely already dating or looking for open configurations. It's up to you to decide how to approach a person for a triad, but always be upfront about whether that person is going to date just you or both of you. Have that conversation after you have gotten their contact information and received a positive response back. Having this conversation at the Meetup will make the person feel cornered and uncomfortable, and the leadership may flag you as a possible bad fit for the group.
What if I hate talking to people?
Introverts are just as welcome at Meetups as others! Show your interest in being a part of the group by showing up to the events where you feel comfortable. Make an effort to connect to one or two people, and volunteer to help with something if that means you will feel less awkward. Follow the same advice if you are interested in someone as a partner. Ask if you can contact them later, or--if you are really shy--ask a mutual connection if they will contact them on your behalf.
Meetups are a great way to connect with your local poly community. You will not always find someone you're interested in dating--in fact, you may never meet someone who returns your interest. You will, however, build up a group of people who understand your situation and can provide advice or support. Leaders and regular members are highly aware of the people who show up at one meeting, don't find what they are looking for, and never show up again. Don't be that person. If the group is a good fit, stay active and be open to connections. The poly community is small, and your reputation will get passed around the more you are involved. That just might be the difference in finding fulfilling poly relationships.
What are your suggestions for getting the most out of a Meetup?
Dear Unicorn Hunter(s),
We don’t hate you. Honestly many of us are looking for the same or similar result. I would take it a step further and suggest a lot of the ones rolling their eyes, right now at your, “We looking for our Queen” introductory post, have posted in a similar vein. Busted through the doors of the PolyWorld with the announcement that they were a happy healthy good looking couple looking for “Our Queen.”
If they were tactful, maybe they had the wife post it. She’s looking for a “Bff, Sister-wife, Soulmate for us to share.”
You know what? That’s dope.
When you consider the conservative traditions of Black Folk and romance, that is nothing short of a revolutionary act.
Now get over yourself.
Lucky enough for you, many a Beavis and Butthead couple made that same clumsy entrance into the Black polyamorous community before they realized that wait, this is a community. After all of those years perfecting the whole “couple that tries to pick up chicks together at the bar” act, they quickly realized they had to throw the whole damn thing away.
You know why? Because they are an actually VERY attractive couple. And folks think they’re cute. In this group there is a collection of the most woke, forward thinking people around. So when you say, “We looking for our Queen?”
They got questions.
What do you mean by Queen? Can your wife date? Alone? What are your thoughts on an OPP? Kitchen table? Hierarchy? What dynamic you claiming?
Don’t get it twisted, it’s OK not to know.
I mean that’s the whole point of having a COMMUNITY. The one thing black poly people love doing more than posting pics of their amazing curl patterns and obsessing about the Black Panther premiere is talking about being black and poly. They will recommend books, site experiences, and slide into your DMs with a Youtube link and a come to Jesus moment.
We have thousands of people coming to these spaces from every corner of the globe looking for a person to add to their life, and what they receive has nothing to do with romance. It is more of blessing than many had the good sense to ask for, because while we out here, “Looking for our Queen,” the foundations of a real community are being laid.
That fellow educator on the frontlines all the way across the country that inspires your lesson plans.
That brother your wife used to date but now you call when you going through it.
That couple that you never met in person, but you live for the pictures they post of their beautiful family.
That’s what you just stepped in to.
Not just a Facebook group or a dating page. This is something that took years, and experiences to build:
Personal, financial and emotional investments.
Being part of a community means you don’t have to make every mistake yourself, although we will give that first one. We silently smile to one another when you post that sexy pic of the two of you laying in the bed doing your best Jigga and Bey.
But after that, please know that have you finally have a group of people to talk shop with when it comes to being non-monogamous. People who won’t classify you as a creep. Some you won’t connect with. Others you feel like you have known them forever.
One way or the other, chances are you will make connections here, but it can’t be the same as rifling through the discount bin in the back of Burlington.
Take a look around. Get to know the people. The language. Make connections that aren’t transactional. Make it out to a few events.
What you will find is an expanded view of what ‘Many Loves’ means and who knows, you might just run into your Queen.
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.
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.
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.
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!