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Update: Letter to My Dad

So, I received a response letter from my dad, apparently a few days after I sent the letter (Delayed mail? Me not checking my mail often?), I thought it was worth retyping:

24 June 2016

Dear [my first name],

Thank you for the letter you sent me a couple days ago.

I appreciate it very much, and I’m flattered, that you care enough about my opinion to send it.

I’m a child of the sixties, and my cultural conditioning tells me that polyamoury leads to trouble.  That may or may not be true; but it still makes me a bit uneasy when you talk about your new boyfriend and it develops that he’s married.  I worry that your loving heart could lead you into heartbreak, unpleasant scenes, disaster.

However, your mother reminds me that you are an adult, a smart and well-educated adult, and undoubtedly more in touch with the cultural zeitgeist than I am.  And of course, I have to accept the truth of that.  So I wish you the best of luck in your romantic endeavors.  Keep your mother and me posted; when you’re happy we’ll be happy along with you, and of course we’ll always be ready to provide unconditional love and support if anything should go wrong.

Your loving father,

Dad

I think this shows hope – my dad can be a bit, well, behind in his thinking sometimes. But the thing is, I know his intentions are good.  There’s room for growth here – my thought is that the Dan Savage approach here is probably best – keep exposing them to it in a “this is part of my life, part of me” kind of way so that they can see how happy this makes me.  It becomes something they get used to over time.

What do you think?  Good approach?  Could use work?

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Letter to my Dad

So, I went to have lunch with my dad for Father’s Day on Saturday.  When I introduced the idea of my new boyfriend (Diplomat), he asked me this: “Aren’t you afraid of hurting someone?”.  My immediate answer was “no, because I know that we have open knowledge and consent”.  But it’s been rolling around in my head for awhile, so I thought I’d write a letter to him, explaining my answer in a bit more detail.  Here it is (and yes, I’m sending it via snail mail):

20 June 2016

Dad,

So, I’ve been reconsidering the question you asked me on Saturday – whether I was/am afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings, when I was talking about my boyfriend (the new one).  The best answer is really a combination of yes and no.

Yes, I am concerned, as I often am, of hurting someone.  But here’s the thing: I don’t go into relationships all willy-nilly.  Behind that “boyfriend” is a lot of work.  On his side, I maintain open and honest communication with his spouse and other partners – I know that if anything comes up for them that they will talk to me about it and that they are all mature enough adults to be able to process their feelings in healthy ways.  I will not date anyone for whom this is not the case.  Period.

As for [Trydaen], as I’m sure you wonder about, we have four and a half years of thorough communication and consideration.  We have had many conversations about how we want our relationship to work.  What he wants to know about my outside relationships and what doesn’t matter to him.  I’ve spent enough time with him to know that I can trust him to communicate what he wants and needs out of a relationship with me.

He is not pursuing other relationships at this point in time due to being too busy.  And that’s his call.  As he understands that I am choosing to do so.  [Trydaen] and the new guy ([Diplomat]) have met and seem, as far as I can tell from the outside, to get along just fine.  I trust both of them sufficiently to communicate with each other if anything needs to be talked about.

So, the TL;DR (as they say on the internet these days) is this: Yes, I am concerned, but no, I know that there is enough space for open and honest communication between all parties involved that enthusiastic consent is given and received by all.

Sincerely,

[My first initial] 

So, yeah.  I’m a bit nervous about sending that off, but I think it’s the right thing to do.  I want him to understand that this is done out of love, rather than callousness.

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Processing out of love

shapiro-conflict-resolution

Warning:  This is a lot of brain spillage, just getting my thoughts out at this point in time.  It does not necessarily represent my feelings in the future.

Here is the truth – I don’t know what happened here with Grey Sky.

I don’t know why I only got four days to process, to have an opinion of the situation – one that did change over that time, and would have, I suspect, been satisfactory if I’d had the chance to present the final edition – but I did not get that chance.

See my post on Reddit here, trying to figure out how to resolve things.

I do not know why I was punished for doing as I promised – being honest about my feelings.

I do not know what went on in his head.  I do not know why he didn’t think to talk to me in the middle of things, so I could help sort things out, rather than at the end.  It sounds a bit like I’m trying to say this retroactively, to make it sound like I am a better person than it might otherwise appear, but I did actually come to the conclusion that I could be okay with the situation as is.

But here’s the thing – I know I did ask a lot at the beginning – time that wasn’t available, especially.  But it was only ever a problem at the very beginning and once when plans were cancelled last minute.  I am afraid that light-hearted teasing about the subject was taken far more seriously than it was intended.

When the conversation was good, when we talked – one or two days for in person visiting was just fine.  Trydaen is my anchor partner and I enjoy spending most of my free partner time with him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get attached to the notion of spending time with others who seem to genuinely enjoy me for me, especially comfortable time in home settings.

I could choose to be vindictive, to strike out physically or emotionally.

But I don’t have it in me – I didn’t have it in me to bad-mouth Asa, to reveal their faults, then or now, because there’s a history there that I wanted to value.  So I made my discomfort with the situation seem to be about my feelings, rather than about any real concerns with her, to the extent of masking them.  I don’t know whether this was a mistake on my part.

I know that at some point in time Grey Sky cared for and trusted me enough to reveal some secrets, some more hidden things.  I want him to know that these are safe with me, regardless of what our relationship status is – I have no desire to strike out in fear or sadness.  To him I say – if you do not choose to do the same, I can’t say I would feel good about it, but there is nothing there that I cannot deal with the world knowing.  I hope he does not choose to, out of malice or any other reason – I trust that this will never come up.

To address what came up, I would have to know what went into it.  What thoughts motivated it, what was not shared.

But from what I know here is what I can address (in no particular order, because my memory is shoddy):

  1. I do not believe that our relationship is/was unhealthy for either of us.  I do not know where this notion came from, where its roots lie.  I wish I had had the chance to address whatever it is that’s driving this.  Yes, it was one-sided – I offered to remedy this, but I don’t think my suggestion was heard with sincerity – it was something I was genuinely offering.  I didn’t see any point in offering up what I had come to in the situation regarding Asa because it felt too late anyways.
  2. I genuinely have no idea why you would need to protect your child or family from me – I remember that I used the word unsafe, but that was not what he said exactly.  They all seemed to like me – especially the kid.  Yes, I am a sadist, but like his submission, that does not extend outside the bedroom (not a secret to much of anyone).  I have made extra careful to make sure this is the case.  If it was a matter of pressure to out himself – I will admit that I did push this a bit hard at the beginning – but the truth was, it was never a dealbreaker, just a concern.
  3. Yes, I did beg.  I begged because the relationship was worth a lot to me, because I thought it a thing worth working to save.  I am sorry that he did not seem to think so – I wish this had been addressed earlier, so things didn’t blow up in our faces.
  4. As to whether the two days a month would have worked, was working – at the beginning it was not quite what I was used to, so that raised some flags for me, but by two months, three months, it was something that I felt I could live happily with for awhile – whether he believes that or not.
  5. Yes, I do think our expectations of the relationship were very different.  I think maybe we should have addressed this at the beginning – things might have been a bit more flexible, a bit more loose, if we could have outlined this.  If we ever get back together, this is something that we will need to address as a prerequisite.
  6. If there is love left there for me, I hope that he chooses to consider the good things more than as just memories, but reasons to choose to go on, to consider the idea of repair.  We made such grand plans, even if there was not the time ever to make them come true (this is something that I realized a very short time in – did not make them any less fun to make).

To Asa:

I do not know how much of this you knew beforehand.  And do not think I blame you for it – there was so much there beforehand that really needed to be addressed before you came in, and that was what the fuss was about, at least in my eyes.  Out of my love for you, and for what is, was, and will be – I can offer “I’m sorry” and I hope you decide to talk to me again.  I will not put our mutual friends in the middle of things, so I hope, for the sake of our pre-existing friendship, that we can talk in the end.  I cannot deny that I think this situation will change things for us, but I hope that we can see through this.

To Grey Sky:

I hope you eventually see this as a blip, rather than something permanent – something we can resolve, whoever “we” ends up being.  In the meantime – know that I hold a light in my heart for you and for your dearest.  I still want to see where we can go – I think we have further adventures to go on if we can figure out our issues and communicate.  I hope you find the help you need, find that therapist you were talking about.  I wish I could recommend mine, but I don’t know what insurance she takes and I think that there might be a conflict of interest anyways, but she has been very helpful.

I miss talking to you.  I love you.

 

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Different Love

The idea in poly that we could love people the same is rather silly.  I do not love anyone the same as anyone else.

I love my parents because I honestly believe that they did the best job they knew how to do to raise my sister and me.  They have been supportive even when they had no idea how to handle an introverted bi poly kid.  I appreciate that.  They have both tried to have an adult relationship with my sister and I and respect, generally, that they raised two very independent minded children.

I emphatically love some of my friends.  It’s mostly because they’ve been around when I’ve needed people around and chose to stay in my life and bond with me.  Some of them I want to have sex with, some I’d consider, some I have.  It may have an effect on how I love them.  It may not.  I’m not sure,  and for each it is different.

I love Grey Sky.  I fell in love with him (for lack of a more preferred pronoun) very early on in things, not sure why so early, may be a matter of leaving my heart open.  He is very sweet and I know he tries to be the best partner he can, given the limited opportunities to physically express it.  Grey Sky gives me ammunition to love myself and in doing so, is far more lovable.  I want to convey  that to him – whatever he brings to the table, I will love him for it.  I want to grow my Dom/top self with him, give him chances to know a part of me that I don’t often show.  And I hope he feels comfortable enough to show the same.

I have been with Trydaen for near on four years.  My love for him has blossomed and metamorphosed through that time.  I love him because he folded himself into my life very well,  because he gives me new mysteries every day, because he chose to stick with me even when it was not an easy thing to do, because he touches me even when that is not an easy/comfortable thing for him to do.  We both are strong-willed, so when we fight, we really do, but it never escalates into abusive patterns.  I like that he is willing to stand up to me.

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Poly Communication Yay!

So, I went to my third orgy yesterday (which is really far less exciting than it sounds, but still completely awesome) and when I was coming into the house after sitting in the hot tub I walked through a conversation that reminded me why I love poly so much. 

They were having a safer sex catch up conversation, half naked, in the middle of the kitchen, with people walking in and out of the room to grab food, and this was treated like the most normal thing in the world.  And it really was.  

I don’t know too many subcultures where that’s true, and it is one of the things I absolutely love about it.  Free and open communication.

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Metamours

I read a question post in one of the many poly groups I’m in on Facebook, asking for advice on how to get along with a metamour, especially one that you don’t have much in common with. I left a short answer because I felt like I was rambling, but I came to think more about it and here’s what I came up with:

I don’t know about without a lot of commonalities – I tend to find that people tend to be attracted to people that usually share some characteristics/interests. I find that the best way to try to make nice with metamours, even if you’ll never be friends per se is to try to find those commonalities and to be able to communicate about your partner in common.

I have had a couple relationships/friendships/interestships that outlasted my relationship with our partner in common (and in the two cases I can think of off the top of my head – also their relationship with the partner in common, though not always through break-up).

I feel blessed for the former metamours I have in my Facebook (and sometimes real) life:

1. The one who posts pictures of them and their kids, so I can see how their life has been even though I lost touch with them years ago;
2. The one who posts thought provoking articles and fabulous pictures (she is a truly talented photographer) and her partner who I occasionally nerd out with (and secretly have a tiny crush on *shush*);
3. The one who, along with my mother (and my partner, of course), is helping me plan my handfasting. He will be officiating at it. He is one of the very few people outside of my immediate family I would trust with my life.

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It’s Not All About The Sex, but…

NSFW.  I do not intend for this to be pornographic, per se, but hey, I liked it, so if you do good for you.

As the tag line of one of my favorite poly podcasts goes, poly isn’t all about the sex.  But sometimes that is a bonus part of it.

Overall, I value a diversity of sexual partners, for each of them has unique skills, characteristics, and personalities to bring to the table.  At some points in time I will value the familiarity of a certain partner over the acquiring of new experiences.  It can be comforting to have someone who knows what I like and to have a rough idea how things are going to go with them.  Sometimes I like the novelty, seeking out the new experiences and people over the familiar – there’s a certain thrill to learning about someone and what makes them tick sexually all over again.  In the middle, which seems to be currently my state of mind, I like branching out from the familiar, seeking new dynamics, new experiences that I would not necessarily have with a central partner, but having that familiarity behind me, supporting me in a sense, to grow and travel.

Sometimes these correspond with relationship stages.  Generally I seek novelty over anything else when I have no one else, or my partner is beginning a relationship elsewhere and I am not the recipient of a majority of their attention.  I seek familiarity when I have no one else, when I am in a brand new other relationship (a desire to strengthen the original one(s) before I drift into NRE, I think), and when I am having issues with another relationship.  I spend most of my time in the middle, leaning to one side or the other generally.  I know I am in the middle right now because I know that I am still not emotionally strong enough to out and out pursue new things to their fullest extent, but I am curious enough about what’s out there to poke at new opportunities over the short term, but perhaps not pursue them to the furthest degree.

There are certain things I am more likely to want to pursue at any given time.  If I am in relationships with mostly men, I am more likely to pursue opportunities with women – it is due to no fault on the part of my male partners, but there are certain things about play and sex with women that cannot be obtained through sex with men – opportunities for breast play (yes, men have breasts, but much less so), vaginal fisting/fingering (not so if that particular man has a vagina, but so far none of my male partners have), double penetration, and there is something very different about mens’ and womens’ skins – there’s a softness to women’s skins (in general) that is very pleasing.

If am in relationships with mostly vanilla people, I am more likely to want to pursue my kinky interests.  If I am in relationships with mostly masochistic/bottoming people, then I am going to want to pursue opportunities to appease my own masochistic/bottoming desires.  Vice versa goes for sadistic/topping.

I am am not sure whether this is the same for other pansexual/bisexual switchy people, but after a time of not being able to engage with a side of my desires (or not being able to engage enough) – men, women, sadism/topping, masochism/bottoming, I tend to feel an emptiness that cannot be filled otherwise, a lack of a certain kind of dynamic or energy.

Polyamory gives me the opportunity to pursue what I want/need to fill me – love, sex, kinky play, whatever it is, while retaining stability and familiarity, with the informed consent of all involved.  And that makes me happy.

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My Web

My life is complicated.  Whenever I add a new partner, I go over my web with them, so they know who I spend time with, who means a lot to me.  The first time, I drew it out on a napkin, the second time on a receipt.  Since then, I’ve gotten a little bit more high-tech and have a graphic to share*.

If you had asked me several months ago what my chart looks like, this is what I would have told you:  I am partnered with two people, Minx (female) and Trydaen (male).  Minx is recently married to Raven (male) and is partnered with Baron (male).  Though they are no longer dating me, Musician (male) and Butterfly (female) are still significant to me.  Butterfly is wife to Biker (male) and Willow (female) and dating Heinlein and Enoch (both male).  Musician is partnered to Shadow (female).  Willow is wife to Tech (male) and Biker is partnered to Sprite (female).  There are a few people I see occasionally, but don’t anticipate partnering with them, at least at this point in time.

My poly web, polycule, network, whatever you want to call it has recently gotten smaller with the passing of my partner Minx and the withdrawal of my former partner Musician.  I am still connected, at least by memory of Minx, to Raven and Baron.

*My current graphic:

As of 9/29/2013

As of 9/29/2013

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Bi and Poly

It is a common meme that bisexual women are slutty, or need one of each sex to make them happy.  Whereas this may be true for some bi women (as it could be for anyone) it is not true of all.  Which brings me to an odd point.

Of most women I have talked to, either in person or online, who identify as polyamorous, also identify as bisexual.  Is it just a coincidence?  I do not think so. It is a matter of choice. We like having lots of choices and see no reason to limit ourselves, to close ourselves off from the possibility that there is more out there. There is debate about whether polyamory is a choice or something inborn in a person, and honestly, I’m not so sure about this, so I’m not going to touch it.

The religious right likes to say that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is a choice–which is bullshit. The gay and lesbian community sadly parrots this to bisexual people–you must make a choice, as if we can decide who we are physically and/or emotionally attracted to. If they can’t, why do they assume we can? The same goes for the poly community–we can’t make a choice as to who we are physically and/or emotionally attracted to–it happens, often out of our control.

The choices we do have regard who we have relationships with. Where it is true that we cannot choose who we are attracted to, we can choose who we want to have relationships with–especially with regards to the poly community. We know that there are some people who we may be attracted to who may be bad relationship partners–who may not be able to respect our identities or existing relationships. And it is our choice whether we want to include these people in our lives.

While it is true that there are poly women who have both male and female partners, it is equally true that there are bi poly women who have only male, or only female partners. A multitude of partners of the “opposite” sex does not make a bi poly person any more straight than having a multitude of partners of the “same” sex makes them more gay. It is also true that having a mix of sexes with partners does not make a person any more bisexual than one who has partners of just one sex.

As for being open and out, I am of two minds. I will and do freely admit to being bisexual–it is part of who I am and a part of my dating history and I think it is important for people, especially those whom I am attracted to and may be interested in forming a relationship with. While I do believe it is important to be honest to all of one’s partners, there’s a certain point where I think poly becomes must know information. So, in summary, bi=freely open, especially to prospective partners and poly=on a need to know basis, but as early as is practical. Maybe the last half is because I am not fully comfortable with this part of myself yet–it took me years of knowing I was bisexual to be this comfortable about it and I have only been dealing with poly for months.

I’m not quite sure how I was intending to structure this when I started, but I think I’ve said all I can say on this subject at this point in time.

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Linguistic Oddities: Part Deux

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, mostly that it is so common in the vernacular.

Polyamory: many loves
Monogamy: one partner*

Why are these always used as opposites? They may be almost mutually exclusive (not going to go into when they aren’t because that’s just semantics) but they are not logically linguistic opposites. If one looks at roots (both Greek and Roman in the case of polyamory) the opposites are as follows:

Opposite of many loves, is one love–monoamory
Opposite of one partner is many partners*–polygamy

I propose the increased usage of the word monoamory–despite its plethora of vowels, it is the technically correct word to use opposite polyamory.

*: I simplified the terms incredibly. The ending -gamy usually refers to marriages, but is often used to also refer to non-married relationships as well.