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NaNoWriMo 9 – Going Out

So after therapy, I decided to head out to the meet up that one of the larger local polya groups does in the city. This wasn’t exactly unprompted though… Ember had asked me the day before whether I was going, and I had been undecided, basically dependent on how I felt after therapy. After therapy I did a quick check-in with myself to see if I was good to go out (yup, had the energy to socialize) and I headed out.

I got myself parked, then got myself lost trying to find the place – sometimes Google Maps does not really help when you’re on foot, despite how much you want it to. After I got there, I shed my coat, and joined a group of my friends who were near the door, just to say hi. Ember spotted me and came over to greet me with a hug and a kiss and a whiskey to have a sip of (good stuff, but I like peaty). I went over to the bar, the bartender flirted a little with me and I flirted right back, and got myself a single of the same.

I hung out with Ember for awhile, after checking out the rest of the event upstairs. I bumped into three other friends at the bottom of the stairs on my way up, said hello and did hugs, and flirted a little bit with the second gal (she’s cute and I like her). Upstairs wasn’t fitting my mood, so I went back downstairs to put down my stuff and socialize. It is a marvel watching people being flirty and friendly with other people when that’s their element. I mean, it’s fun watching people in their element, period.

I drifted back towards Ember after a bit and we went to go say hi to his partner Seafoam, and I had a super awkward moment with her as we were waiting to talk to her when I went to look at something off the table. So, not a great thing – not sure if I’m deal with a case of genuine bad stuff or whether my anxiety brain is blowing it way out of proportion. Stood and chatted there for awhile, then Ember and Seafoam left and I kept chatting with people.

Eventually I finished my drink and went and got a rye Manhattan at the bar – the bartender asked if I’d ever tried one with Rittenhouse. I wasn’t sure, so I said no. And he made me quite a good Manhattan. I sat down at the bar for a bit and started chatting with the guy who was a couple seats down, mostly just small talk, him asking about the group, but engaging enough that I stayed there for longer than I had intended. After that I went back over and spent most of the next hour chatting with the group of friends who were by the door.

About 15 minutes before they left, in comes someone I haven’t seen for years. And she was happy and that was super infectious. So I stayed there and chatted for most of the rest of the night, listening to her stories about the good things that have been happening in her family medical dramas. The guy at the car eventually came over to join the group and we all stood and chatted for awhile before I started coughing. Something was irritating my throat, so I went over to the bar to get some water. Then other people in the same area started coughing too. The cute bartender went outside to see what was going on and found out that someone had pepper-sprayed someone else a block or so over and it had come in through the vents. So we moved our group back further into the bar and sat there and chatted until closing time.

I forget sometimes how much I like flirting with people I’m comfortable with, and after a drink or two, people I find cute. I can be an incorrigible flirt when I’m relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings. I wish I’d figured this out earlier in life – some of my early 20s might not have been quite so awkward.

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NaNoWriMo 8 – New

So… I think it’s time. I’m adding my new guy (and his peeps) to my polycule chart. I’ve been hesitating for a while because I don’t know what to call him (there are a number of appropriate ones that I’ve come up with) and because we’re trying to keep things pretty casual (we’ll see how well that works down the line…). I started seeing him about 13 weeks ago and we’ve been going on dates every couple weeks, pretty regularly. I’ve known him for several years now – the kind of knowing that involves conversations at mutual friends’ parties and larger scale play/sex parties and some sexual tension. The timing had never been quite right before, but now, now I’ve been open to different kinds of connections for a bit and that opened up that possibility. And wow… yeah. The chemistry is awesome.

What I’ve decided on for now namewise, and I reserve the right to change my mind, is Ember.

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More Than Two Question Index

I have been inspired by one of my favorite blogs (Poly.Land) to do a series answering the chapter end questions in the book More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.  I have been re-reading portions of the book and this blog series at the same time, so I thought this would be a good addition to that.

The Questions:

Chapter 1
Have I ever felt romantic love for more than one person at the same time?
Do I feel there can be only one “true” love or one “real” soulmate?
How important is my desire for multiple romantic relationships?
What do I want from my romantic life? Am I open to multiple sexual relationships, romantic relationships, or both? If I want more than one lover, what degree of closeness and intimacy do I expect, and what do I offer?
How important is transparency to me? If I have more than one lover, am I happy with them knowing about each other? If they have other lovers, am I happy knowing them?
How do I define commitment? Is it possible for me to commit to more than one person at a time, and if so, what would those commitments look like?
If I am already in a relationship, does my desire for others come from my dissatisfaction or unhappiness with my current relationship? If I were in a relationship that met my needs, would I still want multiple partners?

Chapter 2

What are my needs in relationships? Are they attached to specific people? That is, do I need these things generally, or do I need them just from certain people?
What configurations am I open to? Am I looking for a particular configuration because I’m afraid that others might be more scary or more threatening?
Am I flexible in what I’m looking for?
If my relationship changes, is that okay?
Can I accommodate change, even unexpected change or change I don’t like?
When I visualize the kind of relationship I want, how much space does it leave for new partners to shape the relationship to their needs?
Am I focusing on an idealized fantasy more than on making organic connections with real people?
What happens if I connect with someone in a way that differs from how I want my poly relationship to look? What message does that send to someone who doesn’t fit neatly into my dreams?

Chapter 3

(Ch. 3 questions are all asked in the context of ones to ask to evaluate whether your choices are ethical.)
Have I disclosed all relevant information to everyone affected by my decision?
Have I sought input from everyone affected? Have I obtained their consent where my decision overlaps their personal boundaries?
Does my decision impose obligations or expectations on others without their input or consent?
Am I seeking to have my needs met at the expense of the well-being of others?
Am I imposing consequences that will make others feel unsafe saying no to me?
Am I offering others the same consideration I expect from them?

Chapter 4

Why do I have romantic relationships? What do I get out of them?
What do I consider essential, indispensable elements of a relationship?
Are there specific kinds of relationships that I know I’m looking for? Kinds that I know I don’t want?
What do I bring to the table for others?
What makes me feel cherished, loved and secure?
What makes me feel afraid in relationships? Why?
In what ways do I protect myself from being hurt? Do those strategies help or hinder my search for connection?

Chapter 5

Why do I have relationships with other people? (see also 4.1)
What needs do I have from my partners, in terms of time, emotional availability, commitment, communication and intimacy?
What does “commitment” mean to me, and why? (see also 1.6)
When I think about the future, what does it look like? Is there room for change and growth? (see also 2.4 and 2.5)
How much do I value personal autonomy, transparency, cohabitation, having and raising children, shared finances, community, tradition, the opinions of my friends and family, adhering to social norms?
What values are the most important to me in myself and in others?
Are the choices I make in alignment with these values?
Who are my mirrors? Whom do I rely on to call me on my mistakes?
How do I respond to criticism from people close to me?
How do I evaluate my choices when the effects of my actions are impossible to predict?
What do I expect of others, and why?

Chapter 6

Do I use words the same way my partners do? Do I often find myself in discussions about the meanings of words?
If I have a problem with someone’s behavior, do I discuss the problem with that person?
If my partners have a problem with someone else’s behavior, do I encourage them to bring it up with that person?
Do I communicate passively or directly?
Do I look for hidden meanings in other people’s words? Do I bury my real meaning?
Do I communicate authentically in ways that make me vulnerable?
In what ways do I actively listen to my partners?

Chapter 7
How do I directly ask for what I need?
What can I do to be more direct in my communication?
If I hear a hidden meaning in a statement or a question, do I ask for clarification before acting on my assumptions?
Do I perceive criticism in my partner’s statements even if they aren’t directly critical?
What do I do to check in with my partners?
How well do I listen to my partners?
What do I do to make sure it’s safe for my partners to communicate with me, and to let them know it’s safe?
Does my communication show that I take responsibility for my actions and emotions?

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Enough?

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this afternoon as I was driving and they were talking about expanding sexual orientation in relation/response to non-monogamy.  The idea came up about not being queer enough to claim queer.  My first response is to call bullshit on this, but I know that I have internalized a lot of the “not enough” bullshit.

I do not feel “queer/bi enough” because I am currently a Kinsey 2.  I have a female partner who I have sex with, and might be interested in having sex with another female partner, but am otherwise not really interested in pursuing any other women.  In the past a great majority of my relationships have been with male or AMAB people.  Am I queer enough?

I sometimes do not feel “poly enough” because my saturation point is fairly low and in the past I have chosen to only have one partner when I was not mentally stable.  In that particular case I began doubting myself – not my identity, but myself, as being poly is rather central to being me – because I was not sure I would ever fall in love again.  Fortunately, that did not end up being the case.  But that still remains in the back corner of my head (more quiet than not these days).  I am not loud and proud about being poly, but don’t make much effort to keep it any bit of a secret.  Am I poly enough?

I sometimes do not feel “genderqueer/genderfluid/non-binary gendered enough” to claim that identity or to claim being transgender.  I tend to look lazy femme or just tomboyish in my presentation.  My dysphoria only flares up occasionally.  I do not have any issues with how my genitals look or work or the fact that I have visible breasts and other curves that may not be easily disguisable.  I strongly prefer they/them pronouns, but am willing to accept she/her in some contexts.  I am not out about this identity to anyone except friends.  Am I trans/NB enough?

I sometimes don’t feel “mentally ill or neurodivergent enough” to claim those.  My depression is cyclical and my anxiety is, in at least half of cases, controlled enough not to show.  Yes, I have sensory processing issues, but those tend to just come across as being a little weird to most people.  My ADHD is moderately well managed and also just tends to come across as a bit odd or flighty when not.  Am I mentally ill/neurodivergent enough?

I sometimes don’t feel “physically ill” or in pain enough to claim being a spoonie.  But the truth is – I have an autoimmune condition that I will have to take medication for for the rest of my life and does have an effect on my energy levels.  However, that’s under control and my migraines have mostly abated.  My joint pain is getting worse and I’m starting to think it might be something other than the barometric pressure shifts to that pain (the remaining migraines are definitely just that though).  My pain levels do affect my energy levels.  Yes, there are many people who have it worse.  It is hard to remember that my pain is also valid.  Am I physically ill enough to be a spoonie?

Am I enough of a partner for my partners?  The idea that I was defective because I was not the only partner a partner has, that they were looking for someone else because I am not enough never was an issue for me.  Instead it is a matter of other measures.  Am I available enough, physically or mentally?  Am I stable enough (physically and mentally) to be in a relationship with them?  Am I pretty enough to keep their attention?  Am I satisfying enough in bed for them to still want to sleep with me?  Can we build enough of a relationship to weather the years (can I contribute enough to the relationship to this building), if that is indeed something we want?

Am I enough?  To myself I can be, that I know.  And I am very glad that I am at a point in my life where this matters most.  It was not easy getting here and sometimes I slip back into old thoughts.

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November Write 21

As most of you probably know by now, I have been non-monogamous for about 10 years now and have actively identified as polyamorous for more than 7 years.  But what does that actually mean?

For the first two and a half years I didn’t have a label for what I was doing.  I had come across the idea of poly in my freshman year of college, but wasn’t really in a place to make that commitment yet.  When my FWB who became my short term BF (oh dear, why did I ever think that was a good idea?) graduated, we had an open relationship because of the distance.  I tried to put rules on it in the beginning, then realized that just wouldn’t work well.  We broke up after about 5 months (see the parenthetical above), but the idea stuck.  So I spent time researching, digging deeper into the idea, and it really started to grow on me.

So I used it once.  Then again, and again.  It eventually became a part of my identity.

Now, I’ve settled into the style of that works best for me.

I like kitchen table poly – I prefer to at least be friendly with my metas and to be able to spend time together, at least in the company of a shared partner, if not without.

I consider myself a free agent – I choose my own relationships and let them take whatever form they take by myself.  I do not have to seek the consent of my partner(s) when I choose to date, but I will always talk to them about the people I date and at least give them a basic idea of where each relationship is at.  Because I live with a group of people, which happens to include one of my partners, I prefer to seek their consent to have someone come over, especially if they’re going to stay the night (at least until my household is used to having that partner around).  I am, to a certain degree, accountable to my household for my choices – I need to be sure that if I bring someone over I can trust them and know them well enough to be able to reasonably say that they probably won’t murder the household in our sleep.

I believe in letting relationships seek their level – and that level won’t necessarily even be the same for either side of the relationship.  And that’s ok, as long as communication is going on.  That being said, I do like having labels to give for my relationships, but those are subject to change and the consent of both parties.

If I am in at least one relationship I do not consider myself single, even though I am a free agent.  I do identify as a girlfriend and partner (don’t get me started on the scarcity of easily recognized and understood non-binary terms on the level of bf/gf).  They will always be a consideration for me.  I endeavor to involve them as deeply in my life as is fitting for our level of commitment.  We do exist as couples together, even though we are all separate people.

I do not identify as solo poly or a relationship anarchist, though I do use some of their ideas.  I also do not subscribe to prescriptive hierarchical poly (as in, the level of the relationship gives someone status or importance over someone else) or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (what a communication nightmare).  I do not identify as a swinger, even though I do occasionally enjoy group sex and orgies, and like the idea of progressive swinging.

I believe in letting people know that I love them, no matter what kind of love it is – or whether I just love them or am in love with them

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Saturday Debriefing

I went to a birthday party on Saturday for one of the other members of the LLC at their place – a costume party of course.  I had a bit of an upset with my costume at the last minute, but managed to pull something together at the last minute (somehow, not sure how).

Trydaen and I were the first ones there, but the party picked up pretty quickly.  I got to try Manishevitz for the first time.  Quickly decided that it needed vodka, so that was my first drink.  Lasted me a bit more than an hour (trying to cut down on my drinking at parties).

Spent some time watching one of my friends play games and talking to them and whoever else walked into the room.  Then decided it was time for some hot-tubbing, naked, of course.  The tub was full of people, but I still managed to find space.  Then moved around to make out with a friend of mine (we’ve made out before – it’s quite nice).

The cast of the party was a wide web of relationships by the end.  My partner.  Grey Sky and his partner, my friend(?) Asa – everything went well on that front.  The friend I made out with, who is another ex of Grey Sky’s (we were only metas for a short amount of time) and one of his current partners, who was my Girl Scout day camp counselor, among other things, since I was about 10.  So, a bit odd to see naked, but whatevs.

Spent the last couple hours after getting out of the hot tub in a borrowed flying squirrel kigarumi.  It had wings so I got to do some flying down the halls.  Lots of fun.  Then had to put boring clothes back on to go home.