31 December 2008


In response to Toni who posted a comment on my previous blog post:

"So being poly is fucking whoever you want, good good I must be poly then but it seems my poly relationships are quite short-term. I know some of my past poly relationships have been with people who were in relationships with monogamous partners, but it would have been bad form for me to discourage their poly lifestyle, even though their husbands were probalbly unaware of the poly element in their relationship. I guess it is the responsibility of the poly partner in a monogamous relationship to inform her partner. It would be socially awkward for me to introduce myself as the fellow who is fucking his wife!"

At no point will I ever encourage someone who is poly to act in a dishonest way in their relationship/s. Cheating on your partner/s is always cheating regardless of whether you are poly or monogamous. You can cheat on your poly partners as easily as you can cheat when you are monogamous. I discourage all forms of cheating and instead encourage people who are tempted to cheat to sort out why they are tempted to and to talk to their partners about it or resolve the issue as they best possibly can. Counselling is always a good option.

To say that polyamory is fucking whoever you want is over simplifying the whole issue. Polyamory is ethical non-monogamy. If fucking whoever you want is indeed ethical to both you and the fuckee, then go for it. If it isn't, then perhaps you need to rethink your strategy and ideals and come up with something that is ethical.

I demand honesty from my partners and I give it in return. I would have big, insurmountable issues with a partner if they were not being honest with me, in fact that would be a deal breaker. Part of that honesty is ensuring that their partner is aware of me and ok with the relationship I have with them, whether that relationship lasts for a night or much longer.

24 December 2008


Polyamory: [as taken from Wikipedia] is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamorous perspectives differ from monogamous perspectives, in that they respect a partner's wish to have second or further meaningful relationships and to accommodate these alongside their existing relationships.

Monogamy: [also from Wikipedia] is the custom or condition of having only one mate in a relationship, thus forming a couple.

Why, you ask, did I feel the need to find these definitions and put them up here? Good question, and one I shall answer, after finding a much better definition of monogamy.

Monogamy: [from the Macquarie Dictionary] 2. the practice of remaining faithful to a single sexual partner.
3. Zoology the habit of having only one mate.

Ok, I am poly, James is poly, my girlfriend is poly, Scott is monogamous. This seems to be a bit of an issue for some people (and I am relationships with all these people if that wasn't clear). Their reasoning is:
  • If someone is in a relationship with someone else who is poly and that first person is actively poly, then the second (third/fourth/etc) person must also be poly.
And I think that this reasoning is flawed. Its flawed because it removes the option for someone to self identify (which has its own range of problems [I'm not going to enter the "I'm a lesbian who has sex with mostly men" debate here]) and also assumes that monogamy and polyamory cannot coexist in the same sphere, that they are mutually exclusive.

Clearly I'm shooting this reasoning and theory in the head. I'm poly and in a relationship with a monogamous man. I'm not someone who identifies as poly who is currently acting monogamous and in a monogamous relationship, because that's a different game again. I am actively poly and yet one of my partners is monogamous.

You see, as long as he doesn't mind that I see other people, which he doesn't, then my other relationships are mine and have no impact on his sexual or relationship orientation. With the definitions above (minus the definition of monogamy from Wikipedia which is rather useless), there is nothing stopping Scott being monogamous and in a relationship with me while I'm being in a relationship with him and other people, that is being poly.

If Scott later decides to dabble in the pool of polyamory, which at this point he has stated he has no inclination to do, then that's his choice and I will respect that and probably encourage it (as well as be supportive and a good partner). If he chooses not to, if he remains monogamous for the rest of his life, I will also support and respect his decision.

See, monogamy and polyamory can coexist side by side in the same sphere and work.

15 December 2008

Telling the world you're poly

I noticed within myself when I became actively poly, versus knowing I was poly and not doing much about it, that I wanted to tell the world about my new relationship and how magnificent it all was, and how everyone was getting along so well.

I think most people go through this, I've certainly watched monogamous people do this with their latest partner, so the fact that polyamorous people want to do it too should come as no great surprise. I suspect part of it has to do with the rush of new relationship energy, and wanting to tell the whole world how lucky you are that you found X (and Y and Z perhaps).

However, telling the world when you're poly is trickier than when you are monogamous. In my experience, this has stemmed from having to explain what polyamory is in the first place and dealing with various people's prejudices about monogamy being the preferred option, whether that be helped religious beliefs or their own ideals.

My own experience pointed to different phases in telling the world that I am poly. The first phase was telling people and then explaining it to them. During this period I was afraid of rejection from friends and family and went out of my way to explain that James and I were happily married, that our respective partners were new and sustainable relationships and that it wasn't all going to end in tears.

The second phase had me explain poly, but in a much more positive mind set. I had moved to the, "if you don't like it, that's your problem and not mine" mindset. Which meant that I wasn't afraid of rejection, because that was not my problem, and if someone walked away because of my lifestyle, then perhaps they weren't worth keeping.

The final phase has me now just expecting people to cope with the fact that I am poly. I will just drop into conversation that I have two husbands and a girl friend and expect people to keep up. This is actually the easiest, for me, of all the phases. I believe that because I have an expectation that people will keep up, and most of the hard work (my family and close friends) have already been told. Therefore, if someone objects now, then its not going to be as painful.

To get to the final phase I believe requires a level of confidence about yourself and your lifestyle choices. The final phase also requires you to not take rejection personally. To recognise that their rejection is their issue and if they cannot or will not cope with your choices in life, then that doesn't mean that you are not ok, it just means that they cannot cope.

My final bit of advice in relation to telling people that you are poly is to choose your battles wisely. We still have friends we haven't told because it isn't worth the angst it would cause. Not to us, but to them, and we don't want to upset them that much. Consideration as to how your employer might react is also worthwhile before outing yourself at work. I'm a Federal Public Servant in Australia, my employer can't discriminate against me, and my colleagues don't care. But some employers might, and since some discrimination isn't illegal, its best to be careful and know how your employer will deal with such things before telling them.

Good luck in telling everyone you want to tell.

19 October 2008

This article is relevant

And reminds me that I need to write a post about bisexuality and polyamory at some point.

Enjoy this.

(Note: I do have some issues with the way this article is structured, however I think its well written and researched. I think it'd be better off as two separate papers, but that's just my take.)

17 October 2008

My actual point is....

The types of people who are poly.

(I've been trying to write this post for weeks. School and other things kept getting in the way... so back to my post)

So, in very quick summary.... poly people generally are trying to be more self-aware, are as flawed and injured as anyone else, have a better idea (in my experience) of what they want and tend to be a whole lot more sex positive.

Really, this doesn't make them stand out in a crowd, unless of course they are standing with all their partners and clearly treating them equally in terms of affection or there is some other sign. Poly people generally are very little different from the rest of the world at large. The biggest difference really comes down to how we build our relationships and what we're willing to do to have those relationships.

Monogamy is only one option in the types of relationships that people can have, polyamory is another. Poly people can (and some are) be religious, they just don't tend to accept all the rules or customs of their religion. They study, have families, work, contribute, volunteer and live next door to you.

Despite all the negative press that polyamory, polygamy, polygyny and polyandry gets, provided that everyone is in agreement, that boundaries are set and respected, these options are as valid as the accepted cultural norms. It really does not end up all in tears any more than relationships do in the monogamous world.

So, anyone who is willing to do the work that is required in themselves and in their relationship (if they are in one), who is willing to respect boundaries, start sorting out what they want and who knows that they can love more than one person at a time, or continue love someone who can love more than one person at a time, can consider entering the great big world of poly.

So some resources for everyone:

PolyMatchMaker is a good site with excellent forums (and match making functionality) where discussions about all things poly (and some things not). There is a vibrant community involved with some really wonderful people. If you're not from Australia, its a good place to start to find out if there is a poly community near you, and to find out more about poly people in general.

Bi-Victoria is a website for the bisexual community in Victoria, Australia. There is a sister group "Poly-Victoria" that uses Bi-Victoria's website to list their social meetings and discussion group events. Check the list on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

There are also two Yahoo! groups in Australia (and no doubt more worldwide) that act as a mailing list in relation to poly issues. I don't subscribe to them myself (I don't have time), but James does. There is a good list here.

17 September 2008


Learning to say "no" is one of the most difficult skills for a poly person to acquire.

I was having a think about it last night, after chatting with a friend who is fairly new to poly and is finding herself being overwhelmed with offers. In my opinion, saying no is actually a set of three skills:

1) Knowing when you need to say "no"
2) Being able to actually say it, and
3) Saying it in a positive, or at least non-hurtful, way.

Each one is a distinct skill, and it's possible to have one or more of them and lack others. All of them are important, though, and generally your poly experience will be easier and happier if you can master them all. That said, while I have #1 down pretty well now, I'm still working on consistently applying #2, and #3 is still very hard.

Number one is all about self-awareness, and it's more than just recognising compatibility (or a lack thereof) with another person. It's also about knowing your own limitations, recognising how much time and energy a new romantic commitment will take up and deciding whether you can spare them. One of the hardest things is meeting someone with whom you have great chemistry, but realising that your life is just too full for another relationship, so you have to tell them "no".

Number two is about confidence and trust in yourself. Whether you have no interest in someone who is interested in you, or you feel the same as they do but can't initiate anything for other reasons, actually coming out with it and saying "no" can be very tough. I think the strongest incentive to urge you to speak your mind is thinking about the potential consequences if you keep silent. Imagine someone developing deep feelings for you that you can't reciprocate because you couldn't bit the bullet and tell them it couldn't go anywhere. Like many emotional issues, it's one of things that gets more painful the longer you leave it.

Number three is a tough one. Nobody who is interested in you wants to hear that you don't feel the same about them, and it's the kind of news which is going to sting a bit, no matter how well you phrase it. Unless you're a nasty person, causing other people pain is something you want to avoid. This may contribute to a failure to exercise skill #2 above: turning someone down hurts, and you don't want to hurt anyone, so you have trouble turning people down even when you know you should.

I think there is an art to letting people down gently, rather than a precise science, so no advice is universally applicable. To be honest, I am not a good one to give advice on developing skill #3 anyway: I don't often find myself pursued, so rarely need to let people down, gently or otherwise. The last time I had to do it, I don't think I did a very good job. I recognise that this is a skill I really need to work on.

My problem is that I have an aversion to conflict (hooray for childhood traumas) and tend avoid saying "no" for as long as possible. When I finally say it, it's often because I've been backed into a corner and forced to finally be fully honest. As a result, I'm feeling cornered and defensive, and not in the loving headspace needed to tell someone they can't have what they want but avoid hurting them more than can be avoided.

Sorry this blog post is a little unsatisfying - this is an issue I am still working on myself.


I thought I'd add my two cents to this, and in particular number three on the list above. I think I am somewhat qualified to add to this given I seem to have a small queue of men who would love to take me to bed with them (at least), and whom I've had to turn down.

I think the art of saying no, is when its said with respect for the other's feelings, which James has already stated above. And also with a genuine sense of appreciation for how hard it is to actually ask someone for more than a hug, and an appreciation of how flattering it is to be desired.

I had to learn this, by the way. I had a close friend who was an artist at saying no to people in ways that left them happy, if a little disappointed. I never got to overhear any of her conversations with people she said no to, but she'd tell me later and I never got an explanation from her as to what she did.

So then came along the day when I actually realised that I needed to say no to someone. A lovely angel of a man who many people find quite sexy, and with whom I didn't feel any chemistry. I emailed him and apologised for my lack of chemistry, given that I felt that I was letting the side down given how desired he was by everyone else.

I wasn't happy with the whole emailing thing, but given he lived in another city, it was the best option at the time.

Then, more offers from lovely people who I adore, but feel no chemistry with (I'm quite picky). Each time I told them how flattered I was, how much I appreciated them asking me, but given I didn't feel any chemistry with them, it'd be wrong/unfair on both of us to take it further than we have. I am still close with these people, I appear to have let them know that I do value them as friends and confidants and am not dismissive of their desires. The fact that I continue lightly flirting with them and being affectionate with them probably helps - but that was the way I was with them before they propositioned me.

One sweet gentleman (and he'd laugh if he read that description of himself), asked me on IM once when we were chatting if I was interested in more with him. I said that I loved chatting with him, but that was as far as I was willing to take it. He said that he thought that was the case and just wanted to check and that he loved how he could be incredibly suggestive with me and I'd just laugh and continue talking with him, because there had been some people who took offense at that.

So, respect the individual and their courage in asking or propositioning you. Thank them for asking you and say no gently. This clearly applies to people you like and know and want to remain friends with. There will always be people who don't listen to a subtle no, and for whom, "fuck no" or even "fuck off" is the only answer they might hear. Don't feel bad in using that in that instance. If you've tried to say no in all the other ways and not been heard, telling someone directly, even if it does hurt their feelings, isn't a bad thing. Its better to be safe than sorry after all.

29 August 2008

Go and read this post... now

I don't generally find another blog post so amazing that I have to post about it... but this ties in here just as much as anything else I could write.

So go and read... and enjoy

29 July 2008

Sexual Assault - the aftermath

This story is graphic in its detail and those who have survived sexual assault may wish to skip this bit and start reading again at the row of asterisks.
I was friends (unfortunately only briefly) with a beautiful and sweet woman when I first attempted university. I noticed that she had a scar on her neck and I didn't ask her about it because that was impolite and I assumed that it was probably surgical in nature.

During one of our physics practials, after we'd known each other for a while, she told me I should ask her how she got the scar on her neck sometime. So I asked. She told me that she had had her throat slit and was raped.

Her story was horrifying, she was walking home from school and was walking along the bank of the river that cut through the town, as this was a well used path, very public and usually very safe. She heard someone walking behind her, turned and saw a man walking some distance back. As it was a public place, she didn't worry and when she heard him approach, thought that he was overtaking her.

Instead he grabbed her, cut her throat and she passed out from the blood pressure loss. Fortunately for her, her attacker was inept and only severed one of her arteries and nicked the other. As she fell unconscious with her head forward it stemmed the blood loss. At one point she regained consciousness and struggled with her attacked and managed to cause him some injury.

She again fell unconscious and was found by two young school boys walking home. They raised the alarm and she was taken to hospital, where she spent quite a bit of time, and made - as much as you can - a full recovery.
Ok, in summary rape is a terrible thing and the reason I told the story above is that like most terrible things, there are degrees. I was raped by my boyfriend when I was 16 - it wasn't violent just coersive. I stayed with him for another 3 years and it was an emotionally abusive relationship, because I couldn't see any other option - at that time. However, I would never compare my rape with that of my friend above.

Like common assault where it can range from being spat upon through to being punched, there are degrees of sexual assault. I'm not demeaning mine or anyone else's experience, I'm just stating that there are degrees - and in my opinion, anyone who tells you that all rape is the same is demeaning my friend's experience and elevating mine to something nonsensical.

Apart from stating that there are degrees of sexual assault, some worse than others, the main thrust of this post is about what happens next. Physical wounds heal, the body regenerates as much as it can and can leave physical reminders of what happened, but often its the psyche that takes the longest to heal - and that is perfectly understandable.

Sexual assault - whether it be by someone you know and trust, or by a complete stranger, is a terrible thing to experience and the shame, disempowerment and soul damage that survivors experience is really hard.

How do you move on after such a terrible thing has happened? For me, and for my friend I believe, it was a case of not letting that event define us. I am so much more than that one event. I am someone who has survived rape and sexual assault, but that's only a small part of who I am. I don't want to let that define who I am, when I know that that is only one of the many experiences in my life that make me who I am.

I was lucky in that the date-rape that I survived was relatively minor on the scale of rape and sexual assault. It was easier for me to move on and grow into the person that I have become. My new partner, when I eventually left that relationship, was incredibly supportive and understanding.

For my friend, she turned to her faith and that helped her, as did an incredibly supportive family and friends network. She was determined to move on, even though she would bear the physical scars for the rest of her life.

Finding the key that helps you move on is important, whether it be travelling, religion, counselling, study, family, friends or other healthy relationships. Your state of mind about how the universe and you interact is also important I believe.

Life is unfair, that is something that we all need to accept and bad things do happen to good people, but doing your best to be a full and complete person, to be the entire sum of all your experiences and not the sum of the negative experiences, is important.

22 June 2008

Knowing what you want

I have this theory, it goes something like this:

The more you know about what you want from life, the happier and more centred you will be.

This is why it is important to sit down and think about what you want, and one of the best ways in starting that process is looking at what you don't want in your life. Everyone has some idea about the things that make them unhappy, the things that haven't worked in other relationships and typically have a mental list of things that they certainly don't want in the next relationship (whatever sort it may be).

And people have the opposite too, the things that did work, the things that do make them happy, the things that they do want to find... and see you're almost there already (at least for relationships) on a path to finding what you want.

So, why is it important? I've found, as an available woman dating on OkCupid, that people are attracted to others who know what they want, who have that added degree of certainty about themselves, and who appear confident because they've decided things about themselves, their desires and to some extent how they fit in the world.

Which is not to say that I know everything about what I want, but I know a lot. I know a lot about what I want from relationships, I have a fair idea what I want from potential employers when I finish my degree and start looking for work, I have a fair idea about how I want to interact with people and how I would prefer people to see me.

Why is this important, and what does it have to do with polyamory? Figuring out exactly what I wanted has taken me quite some time to figure out, and evolves as I personally grow and change. What I think I may want today will gradually crystallise over time and may be quite different in form in 5 years time.

But back to polyamory. If you don't know what you want, then it is very hard to ask that from one partner, let alone many. In my shoes certainly, polyamory has taught me that to get what I want and need I not only need to be confident enough to ask and/or take it, but that I need to know what it is. Monogamy gave me greater freedom to be slack. I could poke and prod James from time to time and he'd figure out what I wanted and I'd be happy with that.

Add additional partners and the resorting of how your world works (in your head) and suddenly
there were a lot of different parameters for me to consider. James knew me thoroughly - he understood me and could answer my needs before I knew they existed (and yes, I do know how blessed I am to have such a wonderful relationship). A new partner required me to start verbalising some of my wants and needs.

My former partner expressed his frustration with me in relation to people who didn't know what they wanted, and I didn't understand him as well as I do now (and not even he really knew what he wanted). Doing someone else's thinking for them, second guessing them and constantly trying to read between the lines is hard and tiring work.

Of course most of this goes back to communication between you and your partner, but to communicate what you want and need, you need to know what those things are. Of course, this holds true for monogamous relationships as well as polyamorous ones.

In summary, knowing what you want makes you more confident and means that you can start attempting to source those things. You can start talking to people who are close to you and ask for their help in attaining those goals, personal development and experiences. For me, knowing what I want has meant that not only am I more confident, but I'm also much happier as I'm getting what I want and need.

23 May 2008

Madonna vs Whore dichotomy (sex positivity)

I have read, recently, a wide number of articles (like these) and commentary about the whole Madonna versus Whore dichotomy that women are expected to adhere to... Some of this has been in the Australian media and the rest various posts and articles from the US.

Firstly, I think the standards that women, and people, are expected to maintain in the US are different from Australia. The US is a lot more conservative sexually (publicly) than Australia. Nipplegate caused a furore in the US, and was laughed at in Australia. We're somewhat more permissive here, and that makes my life SO much easier.

But anyway... with "personalities" such as Sam Newman in Australia degrading women and causing this reaction its evident that there are still double standards for women even in Australia. Catherine Deveny wrote about how wrong it is that women are expected to stay silent about issues or be labelled hysterical, in relation to the Sam Newman issue.

It's an ongoing issue and one that women play into themselves. How often have you heard one woman refer to another as a "slut" in a manner that is degrading? In my experience, women are crueler to other women than men. I don't know why this is and it upsets me every time I run into it, but it happens all the same. Perhaps for this reason I opted out of female and into the grey space between genders. I didn't wan to be a woman if it required acting like that and playing those games, and I'm not a man... so I'm me.

But back to topic, women have two roles to play... the Madonna - the good girl, virtuous, well behaved, willing to put up with crap and smile... or the Whore - the bad girl, sexy, asking for it (in all senses of the phrase), willing to tell others to get lost....

The articles and commentary talk about how men want a whore in the bedroom but want to be married to the Madonna.... they expect women to act at both ends of the spectrum simultaneously. The boys like the girls at the pub who drink, sleep around and have fun, but they won't marry them...

All of this is a huge load of crap of course. Men and women who expect such insane behaviour should be taken outside, shaken and given a stern talking to. I'm not a student of anthropology or the human condition, other than what I've seen through life, so I can't give an answer as to why this happens... but I have my suspicions.

The biggest is religion. There are very few mainstream religions that are sex positive. Since most societal norms, in my experience, stem from religion our culture isn't overly sex positive and has certain expectations of women. These expectations have, over time and especially recently, been eroded... women now work, allegedly earn as much as a man and are considered full human beings able to participate fully in society... well in Western society anyway.

So... what, you ask, does this have to do with polyamory? What does Western society call women who have multiple partners? That's right... we're sluts... and we revel in it. There are polyamorous people who struggle with what other people will think, who try to be the good girl on the outside, even I'm guilty of that with certain people I know won't cope with the real me, but generally we (regardless of gender and orientation) take joy in being different, in being sex positive, of knowing what we want, knowing where we can find it and demanding that we be accepted for who we are.

Sex is a good thing - its not the core of polyamory, but certainly is a nice perk - and pretending that you don't like sex because good girls don't is just insane. If you genuinely don't like sex... then that's your deal... but if you like sex, say so. Stop pandering to the societal norms that don't make sense and start being the entire you.

Love who you are, love the things you enjoy, be proud that you are a sexual being, sensual and aware of the effect you have on others. All these things will lead to much greater happiness than trying to fit societal expectations.

09 May 2008

Things I plan to post on

I need to write a list so that when I am over this cold and my brain is working, I can look at the list and write on the topics below.

  1. Types of people who are poly
  2. Why knowing what you want is important
  3. Madonna vs Whore dichotomy (sex positivity)
  4. Sexual assault - the aftermath

Not all of these topic seem immediately relevant to polyamory, but there are links... trust me.

Now I have something to remind me what I was going to think and write about, I should have four articles written soon.

02 May 2008

Letting it be what it is

Hey everyone, James here. I've been rather slack in getting my thoughts into this blog, but I've been trying to write more recently, so here I am!

The topic of this blog post is one close to my heart. While at ConFest over the Easter long weekend, my friends Anne and Pete ran some workshops on polyamory. I gave an answer to one of the participants' questions that got me thinking about one of the things I really love about being poly, but had never distilled into words before.

Polyamory allows relationships to be what they are.

I feel that, in the world of monogamy, there is great pressure from all sides for relationships to confirm to a certain archetype: meet, fall in love, get married, have satisfying sex, have children, stay together forever. Any ongoing relationship which doesn't match this template is suspect. If two people have been having a sexual relationship for years but have never felt the urge to settle down, their friends will almost certainly be asking when they're going to "tie the knot", and if they're not getting married when are they going to break up and find a "real" relationship.

Intense platonic relationships fall under the same pressure. When the participants are single, friends will be asking, "So, have you had sex yet?" The suggestion will be that a relationship without sex is no relationship at all. If the participants are not single, then intense, loving, affectionate platonic relationships are a source of jealousy and tension. The trouble is, if someone in that situation tells a worried partner that, "We're just friends!" they may not be telling the truth; polyamorous people often tell me of intense "platonic affairs" that feel as real as any sexual relationship.

The trouble is, trying to force these relationships into a designated shape will nearly always be a bad thing. I suspect we all know someone who found someone with whom they had amazing sex, and felt compelled to take it further, despite ample evidence that outside the bedroom they didn't get on so well. This will usually result in years of fighting, acromonious divorce, and unhappy children.

Then there are the non-sexual affairs, which participants and friends may feel should be sexual. When two people who love each other deeply, love each other's company, and talk for hours about intense and personal topics, but feel no real sexual attraction toward each other, forcing the relationship into a sexual arena is rarely a good idea. Such relationships may naturally develop into something sexual over time, but forcing the issue is unlikely to make anyone happy. Years of passionless marriage, with bland, unsatisfying sex at best, and no sex at all at worst, can lead to affairs, betrayal, and broken hearts.

Polyamory can neatly sidestep all of this bullshit. The reason is quite simple: in monogamy, you only get one relationship (aside from affairs) so you need to get all of your relationship needs met in one person. Most people need a confidante and friend, a soul mate, a partner, and a lover. They need someone who shares at least some of their interests, and someone who will meet their needs. In poly, you can meet your needs with multiple people, and this means that each person is not forced to try to be everything for you.

If you're poly, you can have your passionate sexual friendship, knowing that you'll go home to your own place to sleep and not have to share a living space. You can have a deep, non-sexual relationship without having to either forego sex entirely (or have sex without someone you are not physically attracted to).

As I see it, trying to reshape a relationship into something it was never meant to be is only going to hurt the people involved and break the relationship. Polyamory lets relationships be what they are, without pressure to make them into something else. This, I think, is one of the great gifts of being poly. In my own life, I have a lover named Jack. Early on we had a great conversation in which we both admitted that we didn't know precisely what our relationship was, where it was going, and what form it would ultimately take. More importantly, neither of us cared. There is true freedom in that, and it's one of the things I love most about this lifestyle.

. . .

Edit - I've heard through the grapevine that something I wrote in this blog entry has offended someone I care about. Even though no names were mentioned, they felt something I wrote made them feel personally identified and (I think) unfairly judged. It was not my intention to hurt anyone, so I have deleted the offending phrase and also deleted an anonymous comment made by that person that referenced that comment.

If you read this, please get in touch and talk to me about it. I'd like to apologise and try to explain.

10 April 2008


Jealousy is one of the most asked after things about polyamory. Not usually asked of me personally, but asked a lot in our Poly community's discussion groups and other workshops. So, this is my take on it. How do you deal with it, does it happen, how does your partner deal with it, etc

And as this is my take on jealousy it may not be entirely relevant to you. Who can tell but you.

I don't think I'm all that standard when it comes to jealousy, maybe I am. As an example I never have been jealous of my husband's male sexual contact. I just can't be jealous of a my husband and his male partners. I know of women who are or who have struggled with their male partner seeking or desiring male sexual contact but for me its not an issue... and here is the reason why, I think, this is the case for me.

For starters, I know my husband loves women. He loves men too, but he also loves women and when we first started out down this path, he wasn't ever likely to leave me for a man. And really that's the core of it. Whatever I can write here about jealousy... the core message is security. If you are secure in your relationship, then jealousy becomes less and less of an issue.

Yes I do get jealous, but never of other men having relationships with my husband. So, what do I get jealous of? When I spoke to my husband about him seeing other women, I was terrified. I initiated the conversation because I'm a big believer in equity and fairness and he'd given me permission to pursue a man, so why shouldn't he have the same?

Basically I was afraid he'd find someone younger, smarter, sexier, more successful, prettier, etc than me. How did I deal with it? I talked to him and explained how I felt and tried very hard to listen to the reassurances he gave me. I put boundaries around his activities until I felt comfortable. He let me cry on him, he listened to me, I explained how I felt, he reassured me. He was patient and kind and I tried very hard to be patient with myself and not push myself beyond what I could cope with... knowing full well that now I had cracked open this door there was no easy way to close it, I had to deal with these emotions and move on.

My jealousies are generally insecurities. Some people's jealousies are other things, and I can't really comment on them, since I haven't experienced them. So until I feel really secure in a relationship, which takes its own time depending on the pace of the relationship, I can feel insecure when other (often newer) partners are involved. And I'm happy to label it insecurity versus jealousy, I'm happy to call it what it is. And I'm also happy to go out and seek that reassurance that I am special, unique, loved and needed for who I am. Because if I feel that, then I feel more secure.

Over time, this has helped me understand that I am unique and individual and what I offer to the world is unique and special. There are no other Rebeccas around who are like me, or anyone else around that is like me. So if someone loves me, then they love not only who I am, but what I offer. So when I feel insecure I need to remember that.

Which really is easier said than done. So when I can't quite get the whole "I am unique and no one else is like me, so I cannot be replaced", I go to my partner and tell them how I feel and ask them for reassurance.

It all goes back to the poly mantra "communicate, communicate, communicate". Polyamory is built on open, honest and dedicated communication. If you aren't happy talking at length about your feelings, your partners feelings, negotiation and compromises... then perhaps it isn't for you.

The one other jealousy I suffer from is jealousy of time. I love my partners and I want to spend time with them. If I can't spend time with them because they are spending time with other people, then I sometimes get jealous of that. The only way I've found to conquer this is to a) tell myself to be realistic and b) tell my partner that I miss them and organise to catch up with them as soon as we both can.

Another solution, which is probably not even remotely for everyone, is to live with all your partners. This works for me now. The vagaries of time and distance aren't so much of an issue for me any more. They're both around when I want them and need them, I can spend time with one or both. Its making me extremely happy, but as I said, this won't work for everyone, and in fact I think it'd be more likely to work for a very small minority. Not all poly relationships are built to be live in relationships and that's part of what polyamory is all about.

Ok... now for partners of jealous people - what role do you play? I think its really important to listen and be patient with your partner when they are suffering. You may feel that their fears are trivial because you know that you love them and that you're not going anywhere, but to them right now, their fears are huge and it takes a lot of effort to be willing to admit that to another person to begin with. Be ready to offer reassurance, but try to make sure they actually hear you. If they come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day with the same fears and concerns, then what you are saying isn't getting through and you may need to try another tactic.

There are many good online resources for communication and this one isn't a bad place to start if you think that their failure to hear you is hurting themselves.

So to summarise. Jealousy is a natural emotion, and often born out of other emotions within yourself. Its important to own your emotions and it is completely valid to ask for reassurance. I believe that if you can own your emotions you will find them much easier to deal with in the long run.

Jealousy fades the more secure you feel in a relationship. Finding the security in your relationships is an important thing to do, and if your relationship is insecure, then that's a whole separate kettle of fish. To find the security do not hesitate to ask difficult questions to find out what you need to know.

Boundary setting is not a bad way to start with dealing with jealousy, but once the boundaries start shifting and moving, as they will, you can't re-establish them without causing resentment - be very careful about that.

And finally, partners of jealous people need to be patient, gentle and willing to both listen and reassure.

Ok, I'm done for now. I'll post again when I have another topic in mind that inspires me to write. If someone wants my thoughts on a specific poly issue, they are very welcome to suggest some through the comments field.

29 February 2008

What is polyamory?

I'm not talking about a definition or explanation you can find on wikipedia, although that is useful. I'm talking about what it actually gives you, what you find when you are poly... if everything goes relatively well.

This is more, I guess, about how polyamory feels, what I gain from it and why I am poly.

I have never really been monogamous. My earlier relationships all overlapped until I was forced to choose between the two partners I had. I chose the new partner in each situation because there were reasons that those new relationships had started up... Being poly was only a matter of time for me... and the right partner/s and understanding it myself... but what do I get out of it?

Being poly means I can love without restriction. I can find someone who I connect with and I can let myself fall in love with them, if that's where that relationship goes. Being poly means that I am loved and know I am loved by my many friends and my tribe. That we can declare our love for each other without having to second guess what it all means, because it really doesn't matter.

Being poly means that not only am I loved, I know I am loved and that is a buffer against other pain in the world. When my other partner left me, I never thought that I was unlovable, unlikeable, that I should go off and eat some worms... I knew that I was loved by my tribe, husband and friends. There were there, their love was overwhelming and positive... even when the rest of the world was dim.

So my world is filled with love, this is a good thing.

I am never alone. This doesn't mean that I never have any time to myself... because if I didn't I'd go crazy, but my partner/s and tribe are always handy to offer hugs, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, etc.

My experience of monogamy is that your sole partner is expected mostly to do all this for you, that if your partner can't fulfil all your needs then there is something wrong with the relationship and you should leave it. This of course is bollocks. There will never be one person on the planet that meets all your needs. One person who fits you so perfectly that you never feel that need X or Y is going to be unmet. Monogamy is a series of compromises. You know that this person is close to perfect, that they meet most of your needs... so you bundle those needs that are unfulfilled and put them in a box and pretend that they aren't there... or if they are safe needs... like watching soppy, romantic comedies, you find friends who will join you in that (depending on how possessive/jealous your partner is).

With poly I can go and get all my needs and desires filled. I can find the people who fit around me like the hexagonal puzzle piece I am and get my needs met. And in doing so I can be challenged and challenge myself into growing, learning and filling my potential.

One of the brightest things about poly that I have experienced over the past few years is that the love is multiplied and the pain diminished. Yes there is pain... just like there is in monogamy when partners clash or misunderstand each other... but with the extra love and support from poly friends, family and partners, the pain is lessened.

The other thing about poly is that its all about positive choice. I don't have to be asked to choose between two people I'm attracted to/love (and if I am I get very cranky) and I don't need to ask anyone to choose between me and someone/s else. I don't have to consider which partner, friend, lover, whatever I prefer over someone else. I can have it all, provided I am considerate, communicate clearly and am patient/understanding/accepting of my partner's potential jealousy or whatever.

So, in summary.... poly gives me the ability to love as much as I can, the knowledge that I am loved in return, the knowledge that I am never truly alone, the ability to have all my needs and desires met should I seek to do that and positive choice.

Of course I'm poly... it makes perfect sense to me.

20 February 2008

Getting along

I've been asked to write more frequently in here, and believe me, there wouldn't've been such a big gap between postings if I hadn't had my heart broken. That kind of thing tends to crimp your writing and most other creative outlets quite severely.

So today's topic is one that is close to my heart and one that there are many different impressions about. Getting along with your partner's partner... is it important?

My answer is FUCK YES! With all the extra emphasis that capitals, bold, underline and italics can add to two words... oh I can't underline... well you get the idea.

Polyamory lends itself to many different types of relationships developing which is a good thing. Some may be casual, others more serious. No matter how important each relationship is to your partner, it is important that you get along with their other partners. (I know I could just assign a gender here, but I can't be arsed just now, so deal with the incorrect "their" for the moment).

Remember when you were back in school and had a best friend. Remember what happened when you best friend had a falling out with one of your other best friends and you were forced to play sides or choose between friends. Remember how destructive that was... well poly can be that bad if you aren't mature about it and communicate and work on getting along.

Asking your partner to choose between you and someone else because you don't like them or are insecure about that relationship is a recipe for disaster. I've told my partners that to ask me to choose is very likely to mean that they lose. Being polyamorous is all about positive choice. Being asked to choose is about negative choice...

This post isn't about communication or choice, that can come later, so I'll get back to my point. I've been the pivot, pointy end of a V relationship where my two partners weren't getting along and I've been at the end of a V and not getting along with another partner, so I am speaking from experience here about how important it is that everyone does their best to get along.

You don't have to be best friends with your patner's partner, but not hating their guts and actually having an avenue of communication open if its needed is important. If you can be best friends with your partner's partner, then that's great, but if not, as long as you can be friendly it will mean a huge amount to your partner.

In a healthy relationship you want your partner to be hapy and your partner wants you to be happy. If you are not getting along with another of their partners your parter will feel the tension. They'll probably censor what they say about their day, be cautious around you and that runs the risk of damaging the relationship you have with your partner because you will know that they aren't being entirely honest with you, know why they aren't being honest with you and that tension will be felt.

If the falling out between the partners is shortlived, then it goes away and people are ok. If it's unresolvable as far as the partners are concerned, this is where the pivot has a role to play. When my partners weren't getting along (briefly) I ensured that they knew it was important for me that they got along. I encouraged them to talk to each other, to extend the hand of friendship and forgiveness, and explained that them getting along added to my happiness. They both understood that my overall happiness was impacted them getting along and so worked on getting over stuff... and did so.

When I didn't get along with my partner's partner... then that particular partner told me that he didn't mind if his partners didn't get along. This was really hard for me to deal with as it was the complete opposite of how I viewed polyamory. I was constantly afraid that he'd choose sides in the conflict, that the other partner would influence something somehow, that I'd be perceived as being difficult or whatever. I didn't feel that my concerns about this were really heard or understood by my partner because he didn't work on sorting out the conflict. He didn't encourage each of us to talk, he didn't explain to me his partner's position and I don't know if he explained my position to his partner. I felt that I had no way forward in resolving this and he didn't help me.

Polyamory is difficult enough without adding conflict between partners to it. So, I strongly recommend you work through any conflict you may have as quickly as possible. If you can't sort it out yourself, ask your partner to help. If you are concerned that your partner may not be the best help, find someone you both trust to help mediate, or meet somewhere public and just talk about the issues between you, how much working through these will make your joint partner happier and how it will make you both happier. This requires ownership of your own issues and maturity to acknowledge your own fault in the conflict.

05 February 2008

The right way

I haven't reread my earlier post, but apart from it being WAY over time that something was posted here again, something has also happened that I think is relevant to the whole poly thing.

It has been said by some, and by me once or twice, that the worst thing about polyamory is monogamy. Falling for monogamous people who won't shift is really hard, and monogamous people who try out poly and then don't deal well with it, can break your heart when they leave.

I've done both of these. I've fallen for a monogamous man and I've been left by a poly partner for a monogamous partner because she couldn't cope with my partner's polyamory any more... and he didn't want to lose her, but was happy to lose me (I could rant about this, but I won't other than its short-sighted and blind behaviour - denying an aspect of yourself doesn't lead to long term happiness).

Anyway, my point is this... time leads you down all sorts of strange roads, and that person who can't consider polyamory today or can't cope with it today may actually grow and think and learn about it and decide, in time, that they can.

This, I think, is the best way to go about it. Forcing someone to be poly isn't going to work for them or for you. It's a big change to stop following the footsteps of society and look at relationships in a different light. It's a big step to actually ask yourself if you could share a partner with someone else or even be shared by other people. For some this comes naturally, for others it's weird, odd and very scary.

People's choices as well as your own integrity should be respected in this instance. You should be who you are.

If you are poly and in relationships with other people, then leaving those people for a monogamous relationship isn't necessarily good for you, the other people or the person you are hooking up with . The big picture is important, I feel.

If you are monogamous, then you should respect that about yourself... and if you are questioning it, talk freely to the person/s you are interested in and go from there.

Just like sexuality, I think that polyamoury is a fluid scale from people who are very poly, who would never ever be happy being monogamous to people who are so monogamous that the idea of having an affair or another relationship is repulsive to them. Generally though, most of us fall into the spectrum. From the people who understand it but don't want to do it, through to those who do it and are hoping for the best, and then those who are poly and actively making it work and are happy doing so.

So, back to my point. Time. There is time enough for everything. Don't rush things, don't feel that you must make a decision today, tomorrow or even next year. If someone you love is poly and you are not... then question what will make you happy and whether you can live that lifestyle:
  • being monogamous with them while they are poly with others, and don't forget that appropriate boundaries still need to be set;
  • learning to be poly yourself, and all that entails;
  • or if you can't do it at all.

If you are poly and have fallen in love with someone who is monogamous, then respect their beliefs and values, even if you don't hold them. Tell them about what poly does for you, but let them decide, when and if they are ever ready, to come and join you or not.

One of the great things about being poly is that you don't have to fuck everyone you love. You don't have to have any more than a deep, loving and committed friendship. Sure sex is great, but it isn't the sole reason you have relationships with people. It may be the reason you have relationships with some people, but not all of them.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and the people you love, is to aim to always do the right thing by them and by you. Keep your integrity and only question your own values if you really want to and think that perhaps it might be time. Don't let anyone push you into something you don't want to do. You are the one who best makes you happy.

That said though, finding out what you want is an important part of the journey of life. Experimentation is not a bad way to go about these things, but try to do it respectfully of other people's feelings. Many poly people I know, including myself, fall in love hard and deep. Communicate clearly what you are doing so that everyone involved knows what is going on and can guard (or not) their hearts as much as they need to.