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Fluid Bonding – Initial Decision Making

So I was reading the polyamory subreddit earlier today, like I often do, and came across someone asking this question: What were some questions about polyamory you wish you’d asked in the beginning?

Someone posted that the question they would have asked would be: “How do I navigate fluid bonding networks when I don’t have hierarchy in my relationships?”
(potentially NSFW, after the break)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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November Write 30

When raised with monogamy we are taught that part of why we are important in a relationship is that we are unique, that that was very important for all we do to be unique.  It’s what makes us special for our partners.  If we aren’t unique for our partners it is the end of the world – we are stuck comparing ourselves to past relationships and generally finding ourselves lacking in some regard (age, appearance, intelligence, job status, etc.).  Which, wow, that sucks.

As a poly person, dating people with other partners, that can come to the forefront.  It is often a concern with new poly people, so they put restrictions on who their partners can date because of their fear of not being unique, of not being special to their partner.  Which is really a load of hooey.

Even if you do the exact same things, look the same, went to the same college, have the same job, so on, you will never be not unique.  You have different genes, different backgrounds, different life stories – that’s what makes us unique, makes us special.  No matter how much we are the same, we will always be different people.  Part of the joy of poly is that. We get to build different relationships, to have different stories to tell, build different lives together.  And, that, that is one of the greatest joys.

I get to be a different person with each of my partners.  I get to build a new life with them.  Our relationship gets to be whatever it is going to be.  Even if I’m dating multiple people at the same time I can have very different relationships with them, can choose different labels, have different kinds of sex, go to different kinds of events, express my affection for them differently.

Comparison can become much more complicated if you know the other people involved, especially if you’re on good terms with them.  When on good terms metas become full people, with fabulously different lives and stories.  Yes, it is likely that you will share some things in common with your metas – people tend to have types of people they’re attracted to, whether that be physical, mental, emotional, or sexual types.  So yeah, you will likely have something in common with your metas.  Nothing wrong with that.  It can be harder than when the other person was just a hypothetical ex, someone that may or may not have actually existed – having a real person on the other end of things can make things harder.  Or easier.  Depending on how you are wired.

But love is love and the amazing part is that we get to build our own unique stories with the people we love, whether that be for months, years, or a lifetime.

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August Post 23

Feeling: happy and something else

CW: sex, especially my sex life.  If you don’t want to know about it, feel free to skip this post.

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OK, there we go.

I am reminded of a couple things today.  The first one being that it is wonderful for me to have an emotional tie when it comes to sex.  As I’ve said it before, love is definitely not necessary, but it is a matter of having an emotional bond to a person, a connection that goes beyond “this physical act gives me pleasure”.  Not that I haven’t had great encounters, where “this physical act gives me pleasure” was the primary concern, but if I was to be told to choose between the two, I would choose the one with the emotional connection.  I haven’t quite figured out why yet.  I’ve played around with the idea that it’s a matter of accountability to each other, that if something goes wrong, that we’ll be better equipped to take care of each other and ourselves, but I’m not sure that’s all of it.

The second thing being that I am glad of the work I have done to untangle PIV from the notion of sex.  This took me a great deal of time.  Part of what has helped is fucking people with vulvas/vaginas.  There is no doubt left in my mind that I have fucked and been well and thoroughly fucked, but look…no penis!  What part of this is is that even though I haven’t always been able to orgasm from certain sorts of penetration (wow, that’s only about a year old), I have always enjoyed it.  It has been something I’ve always enjoyed out of sex. But within the last three or four years, I’ve been realizing that I enjoy penetration by objects and hands as much as penetration by penises.  And I enjoy giving penetration, as well.

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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.