Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 27

27. A favorite picture, song and/or video you associate with non-monogamy.

Cute and generally representative of the people and community I have found through non-monogamy.

I know this is the same one that I used the last time, but I would not have inked it on my body permanently if it didn’t mean a lot for me.  We are all different, but linked together we form a circle that never ends.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 26

26. A resource you’ve found especially helpful.

Just see the books and site from the post from the 25th.  There is also a forum site called Polyamorous Percolations that I found very useful in my early wanderings into non-monogamy, but I do not know if it is still used, as I haven’t been on in years.

I also have linked a few other useful resources to read in my links in the sidebar.

Another important resource has been the people in the community around me.  Seriously, as problematic/dramatic as they can be, I highly recommend finding at least one online community to talk to – local is a bonus, but not really necessary.  Heck, I recommend more than one, just in case you need to vent about someone who is in one group, but not in the other.  I found mine through friends and kept up through Facebook.  Having an online community helped me realize that the problems and joys I had were not just mine alone – that there were a lot of other people, even in my area, who dealt with the same sorts of things, and may be willing to help me wrap my brain around an idea that I am having some issues understanding.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 25

25. Your favorite Non-monogamous blog/tumblr/site/book?

Online: The Polyamorous Misanthrope (linked in my sidebar – I’m too lazy to find the link now).

The author does not take any bullshit from anyone – she owns up to her failings and is honest about how poly can be, especially for those of us who have been doing it for awhile.  Sometimes challenges pop up for fogies too, and she is good about handling them and calling letter writers out on their bullshit.

I chose not to do the More Than Two website, as awesome as it is (it is actually tied for my favorite, for very different reasons), because they have it all in hand-dandy book form – see below.

On paper: More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert
Close second: The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy

I never thought that a book could bump The Ethical Slut off the top spot, but a couple of the authors from the More Than Two website managed to write the book that did it. Heck, if anyone could have, it would be them.

So, I know that Opening Up by Tristan Taromino is supposed to be the Bible of non-monogamy books, but I never much liked it. Her style never really hooks me, so I found it a drag to get through (and I’m not sure I ever actually finished, despite having started it more than half a dozen times already). I didn’t find it very applicable – I was not opening up a relationship (I never have) – and a lot of the stuff seemed really couple-centric to me.

More Than Two is a good combination of The Ethical Slut, Opening Up, with a little bit of Sex at Dawn (by Cacilda Jetha and Christopher Ryan) thrown in. I have heard that The Ethical Slut can be a bit intimdating to newcomers or people who aren’t overly sexual or aren’t into non-monogamy just for the sex, and More Than Two turns down the volume on that. It does deal with many different styles of non-monogamy and presents different structures in an equal light. They are honest about the upsides and downsides of each style and not judgmental.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 24

24. The stupidest argument or comment you’ve heard about non-monogamy, either for or against?

How about both?

For: That it is so-called natural (and monogamy isn’t), so everyone should be doing it (and not monogamy).
Any argument that contains the idea that everyone should be doing something is bullshit by me. I don’t necessarily disagree with the first part – it, like monogamy, is something that can be found in nature – so it is, therefore, natural. Heck, it seems to be the dominant relationship structure in some of our closest primate relatives, with whom we share a lot of our DNA.
However, we have social structures that are beyond what our DNA could have predicted. Monoamory works for some people, like my parents, so good on them. I’m happy for all of them. As long as they choose that without societal pressure (distinct from influence) and are aware of other options, should it start to not feel right to them, then I have no beef with that. I do have a beef against the idea that, because a lot of people are monogamous/monoamorous, that everyone should be, but that’s just the other side of the coin.

Against: Oh, there are far too many for me to pick the stupidest. Maybe “God made us to pair up into twos”?
Well, any religious argument is going to rate pretty high on the stupid for me. Why do you want me to be unhappy? Organized religion has never made me happy (at most, neutral) and I am pretty sure that I don’t believe in your god, nor am I sure that any such being exists (leaning towards no, but there are still some unanswered questions for me). So why do I need to follow your religious beliefs about relationships when I don’t follow your religion.
I’m not even going to take on how many non-monogamous relationships are portrayed in the Bible, because basically all of the male figureheads of the Abrahamic religions had more than one wife, and many had concubines as well. Heck, one could argue that the Bible is definitely in favor of non-mongamy, at least a very limited portrayal of it.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 23

23. What, if any, involvement have you had with any groups or organizations? How did you find them?

I have had some involvement with groups on Facebook.  I am even a moderator for a small private book club.

One of the general local poly groups I have been involved with since they had about 350 people and now they have over 1000 members.  Amazing to see it grow and split and change over the years.  Interesting to see people come and go.  I have had a lot of time to assess my place in the group and rethink whether I still want to be part of it – I do, but the arguments in favor of that have become weaker over the last couple years.  The strongest argument in favor being that I would not have met Diplomat or June, may not have met Lola, wouldn’t have gotten to know Star or Sparkles much more than tangentially, and none of that is cool by me. I also belong to a number (and moderate one) subgroup of this big group – it broke into subgroups, like the Catholic Church, awhile back, and everyone seems to be better off for it.

Another (not specifically poly, but definitely non-monogamous) group I belong to, is, well, X-rated.  It is a group that organizes sex parties/orgies a few times a year, about 60% of which I go to.  It is a great place to go and see pictures of cute people (sometimes even naked) and to organize sexually oriented events.  I joined this group when it was first forming and had gone to one event before that fact (my first official sex party), but no one (unless they met me individually) seems to remember me – I had a couple people (including a moderator) ask if it was my first event with them.  I got a bit of a shocked reaction when I told them it was actually my fifth (Fourth?  Can’t remember) with them.  Am I really that forgettable?  Or is a matter of not being an extrovert, so I don’t really stand out?  I don’t know.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 22

22. A majority of non-monogamous people are also kinky – what are your thoughts on kink?

I definitely identify as kinky – generally I say I’m a sadistic switch.  In a little bit more detail:

Bondage – switch (I burnt out on bottoming to hard core rope stuff, especially more decorative stuff, and I like topping more practical rope-work than pretty)

Discipline – not actually sure, probably bottom-leaning switch

Dominance/submission – switch

Sadism/masochism – I get more mental pleasure out of sadism, but I enjoy pain as a sensation (it’s more a sensation play thing to me).

I enjoy sensation play (other than super cold – that’s kind of a nope due to circulatory issues), both topping and bottoming.  I like both topping and bottoming wax play, and bottoming to cupping.

I really like struggle play/play wrestling – not sure there’s actually a top and bottom for that.

I like sensory deprivation boxes.  I could be very comfortable in one of those for a very long time, as long as it was well padded with something inoffensive.

I like bottoming to flogging and other impact play – I cannot top heavy duty flogging due to a shoulder injury, but other impact play is not off limits to top.

There’s more, but I think that’s enough for now.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 21

21. Thoughts on fluid bonding?

My definition goes beyond sexual fluid exchange and into blood and other bodily fluids.

I am super picky about fluid bonding.  I have been fluid bonded with two partners in my life and for both I required testing before we did that, even though we had been sexing for awhile, and I plan on continuing that testing requirement.

I will not do it before the six month mark – that is the absolute minimum.  I need to have that time to figure out if I have absolute trust with my partner, their safer sex pratices, and their communication standard.  Giving it six months also gives more time for some of the NRE to wear off, so we are both relatively sane (it’s all relative) when making the decision to forgo barriers.

I need to also have faith in my method of birth control.  For the first time, we only ever occasionally exchanged fluids, so I wasn’t super concerned, even though being on the pill made me nervous about this.  With the other, I already had my Mirena IUD and I have great faith in that, so that wasn’t really a concern.

If there’s any breaches in sexual practices – whether that be an STD/STI worry, a trust issue, a consent issue, or a problematic (for a variety of reasons) outside partner – then it is time to go back to using barriers until the issue is resolved, then talk again about whether we want to go back to being fluid bonded.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 20

20. What, if any, agreements do you and your partners have about sex?

For safer sex practices I will always have a conversation before anything beyond kissing goes on.  I try to make a point to talk about what people’s expectations about the knowledge they want about my sex with other partners early on in any relationship – usually after we’ve had sex at least a few times and are starting to get a rhythm going in our lives.

My general philosophy is that I will use the highest protection level of the people involved (myself and whoever I want to be sexing).  

I will ask any potential sexual partner about their latest STD test results – when they were, any new partners since then (and their results, if needed), and if there was anything of concern.  I require partners (and will ask for their potential new partner, if it comes up) to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HSV (both 1 and 2), and HIV.  HSV1 is agreed upon to be a non-issue within my group.

For me, personally, I use condoms (internal/female or external/male) with any penis-having partner for any non-oral penetration, if we have not agreed and tested for fluid bonding.  I do not require condoms to give oral sex or dental dams to receive it.  I will always use condoms on penetrative toys and external toys that may come in contact with bodily fluids, mine or someone else’s.  The former is an always – it makes clean up so much easier, the latter is toy dependent.  Since I have nails now, I will use gloves with any manual penetration unless I am told that scratching is not a problem and I have quick and easy access to running water, soap, and a nail brush (partially a safer sex thing, partially a “I can’t stand things under my nails” thing).  This last one – I prefer to use gloves, but this is not a dealbreaker.  If my partner has longer nails, I would prefer if they also used gloves for manual penetration.

As for individual deals with partners about what they do and don’t want to know: one partner does not care about knowing about sexual partners unless he has met them or something goes wrong, the other two would like to know, but have different times as to when they would prefer to know.  If one of my partners has questions about any given encounter, I am up for answering them, but I try not to go into lurid details, because that’s not my style, in general.  As for safer sex practices, mine are the most restrictive, so those are the ones used.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 19

I’m out of order?!  No, you’re out of order.  Your cats are out of order.  The whole world is out of order and I’m the only ordered one in this chaos.

19. What are your thoughts/feelings on jealousy?  On compersion?

The definitions I am using:

Jealousy: Jealousy denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one more rightfully deserves.  Generally wanting that the other should not have that something.

Envy: Envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded, achieved, or received by another.

Compersion: The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another; feeling joy that one’s partner is sharing closeness with another person.

I think that jealousy, envy, and compersion are all natural – they exist in people, no matter how they choose or are oriented to have relationships.  Some people say that they do not experience jealousy, envy, and/or compersion.  Which is a-okay, but I tend to think that a lot of those cases are a matter of have not experienced it, rather than will not ever experience it.  But who am I to doubt their lived experiences?

Within my relationships, jealousy itself is generally not a thing for me.  I generally want all the people involved in relationships about me to be happy.  I want them to have what makes them happy, as much as that is possible.

Envy is something I have to deal with in relationships – I want something that someone else has, whether than be a personal situation, time, act, or item that one of my metamours has or gets from our shared partner.  This is one I have had to dig into quite a bit and I still struggle with, sometimes more often than others.  

The podcast Polyamory Weekly gave me the greatest insight I ever got on dealing with envy.  The discussion was between the main host and her metamour about how they nteracted within that relationship and their individual relationships with their shared partner.  The main host notes that when she feels envy, she digs down into the feeling and figures out what is causing the envy, then asks her partner for whatever that is.  The reasoning being that the worst answer she could get would be no – if she doesn’t ask then the answer might as well be no, but if she does ask, there is a chance that she could get what she wants.  If it is a no, then there can be room for discussion and negotiation so that the host can get some of what she really wants.

I have tried to use this strategy when dealing with envy myself, and have, for the most part, seen great success with it.  Weird how communication works, huh?  The only time I have run into issues with it is cases where getting a “no” would feel far worse than not knowing if I would possibly get it; I weigh the benefits and costs and it comes out with a net cost that is unacceptable for me.  These are few and far between – I have only had this come up twice in my life.

As for compersion…damn!  I have not always experienced compersion – it is, for me, a learned way of feeling.  When I can open my heart up, then a lot of joy and love comes in.  This has not existed in all of my relationships when I had metamours.  That is not to say that I did not like my metamours in those relationships.  I did.  I just did not get that extra bit of joy from that relationship.  Which was what it was.  I am glad to experience it now – I am often overjoyed.

Compersion does not exclude the presence of envy in that relationship, for me at least. Often it comes alongside it.  It makes envy so much easier to deal with when it does pop up.


Non-Monogamy Challenge Day 18

18. How do you define “sex”?

In general, acts performed by at least one party in an interaction with the intention of causing orgasm for one or more other parties, with the consent of all the parties involved.  For me, intention matters more than act.  A person has an orgasm in the middle of an intense kink scene that doesn’t involve any expectation of sex – not sex.  The same person has an orgasm in the middle of a kink scene where there was the intention to cause orgasm in some way, shape, or form for any party involved (not counting bystanders) – definitely sex, at least for one party.

What about cases where the intention was unknown or unclear?

If it was me personally, I will generally assume that that was not the intention, until I have the chance to clear with the other party or parties involved and I definitely will want to clarify it, if it is at all positive.

What about if only one party had an orgasm or if only one party was acting on another, without expectation of reciprocation and no intent on another party’s part to induce orgasm?

Technically both parties could claim that they had sex.  The acting party could put up a decent case that they didn’t have sex with the acted upon party, as no one acted upon them (assuming two parties involved).  This is mostly up to the parties involved.  For me, if we do have sex or are planning on having sex in the future, even if the action was one-sided – it probably will balance out in the end.  With someone with whom that is not the case – I’d probably just leave that up to individual parties to decide whether they, personally, had sex.  Based upon the mood and the relationship with the person involved, I have decided on both sides of that for myself.

What about group sex?

I would actually use a situation that I was in as an example.  I was in the middle of a make out, cuddle pile that ended up going to the bedroom.  I was in the middle of the bed but I was not acting upon anyone past making out with them and handing out condoms and lube and was not acted upon other than some fondling and making out.  I did not have sex with anyone there – but I did participate in an orgy.