Morgaine

Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Wedded to variety

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 26, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Source: Chicago Sun Times

When Tilda Swinton won the best supporting actress Oscar for "Michael Clayton," there wasn't too much talk about what designer she was wearing.

But people were curious about her date.

Swinton, 47, brought along 29-year-old Sandro Kopp, an actor and artist she met while filming "The Chronicles of Narnia."

Nowhere in sight was playwright John Byrne, 67, her husband and father of her twins.

Both men know about each other. And both are OK with it.

You might call the arrangement "awfully messy." Or you might call it by its proper name: polyamory. That's the practice of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

"Tilda's relationship situation is exactly like the relationships of many people I know," says polyamory activist Anita Wagner. "Except for the fame and money."

Some people have the capacity to love more than one person, and somehow they have the energy to work at more than one committed relationship, too. Open marriages probably have been around as long as marriage.

It's not a higher love, says Cunning Minx, an Oak Park polyamorist who hosts a weekly podcast at http://polyweekly.libsyn.com/. Poly people get jealous just like everyone else. "It's not more evolved, it's just a little more complicated," she says. "People do this because it's an orientation. For some, it's a lifestyle choice."

Like most polyamorists, Minx uses a pseudonym because there's no legally protected status. In the poly community, especially in Chicago, people try to keep things quiet.

"You can be fired for it, and your kids can be taken away," Minx says. "We have a saying: In a divorce hearing, the first person to call the other person 'poly' gets the kids."

A recent poll on Oprah.com found 7 percent of women say they have an open marriage, while 14 percent of men do.

"Chicago is probably the least well-organized of the major cities in terms of having an active and well-organized polyamory community," Wagner says. "This doesn't mean that poly people don't exist, though."

There's a PolyChi Yahoo! group with more than 1,000 members, who meet once or twice a month. Sidekicks on Montrose and the Center on Halsted are common poly gathering places. "The Fox Valley area is very active for meet-ups and potlucks," Minx says.

She was initiated into the lifestyle when she fell in love with a polyamorist, Gray Dancer, who was engaged and later married. Without any rules to follow, the threesome sometimes had a hard time working things out. Her podcast started out as a way to ask questions and find others like her.

"The amount of communication and calendar shuffling involved can be daunting," Minx says.

Next she fell in love with a man in Atlanta who had a wife and a 2-year-old son. "His wife was quite lovely," Minx says. "She was happy that when I got bored, I would clean their house." They dated for nine months.

It's not the same thing as "swingers," she clarifies. "People always want to know about the sex," she says. "The word 'compersion' means a type of joy that you take in seeing your partner with somebody else. The British call it 'frubble.' It's when your wife comes home and she's all glowing from a date with her new partner, and she wants to share."

A few other famous "responsible non-monogamists":

Diego Rivera tolerated wife Frida Kahlo's relationships with other men and women (including Leon Trotsky).

Amelia Earhart had a prenuptial agreement that "I shall not hold you to any midaevil [sic] code of faithfulness."

Billionaire Warren Buffett was happily married to his wife until she died in 2004. He also had a long-term relationship with mistress Astrid Menks. They sent out Christmas cards signed, "Warren, Susie and Astrid."

After Jada Pinkett Smith was interviewed by Britain's Daily Mail, polyamorists rallied behind her marriage. "In our marriage vows, we didn't say 'forsaking all others,'" said Smith in the interview. "The vow that we made was that you will never hear that I did something after the fact.

"If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, 'Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I'm not going to if you don't approve of it — but please approve of it."

Don't be shocked until you examine your own history, Minx says. "Think back. Was there ever an 'aunt' or an 'uncle' who visited your grandparents all the time? Or a couple they spent a lot of time with, or a 'good friend of the family?' "

Welcome to the club.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Married, with several relationships on the side

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 26, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Source: Staten Island Advance

It's difficult for Rose Fox to watch romance movies. At the end, she is always disappointed when the protagonist is forced to decide between two love interests. She wonders: Why not choose both?

Ms. Fox, 29, is polyamorous. She lives with her husband in Manhattan, speaks weekly to her long-distance girlfriend in Portland, Ore., and currently is "feeling out" another love prospect. Her spouse, Josh, 36 — who requested only his first name be used — recently has fallen for a younger woman, who herself has a fiancee.

"They're stupidly in love; they are so cute together," Ms. Fox says about Josh and his semi-new flame.

Practicing polyamory, Ms. Fox and her husband believe in having sexual, loving relationships with multiple partners simultaneously, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

As "primaries," Ms. Fox and her husband "come first in each other's eyes," but have an agreement in which they can develop relationships outside the marriage.

Their only rules include, says Ms Fox: "Don't get anyone sick or pregnant and don't damage the relationship." Everything else is pretty much fair game.

What makes the situation work, she notes, is a lot of trust, openness, loyalty and negotiation.

According to Ms. Fox, polyamorous relationships are very fluid, and it is really up to those involved to define the dynamics.

"There are a lot of different configurations," she explains. "Triads work; quads work, but are hard to do."

There are those who are "polyfidelitious," faithful to the poly group, who act very much like a family. Others prefer a "V" configuration, in which the "arm" partners are not as close to each other as each is to the "pivot" partner.

"It's really a 'roll your own' relationship," explains Ms. Fox, who got involved in her first open relationship at age 14 while dating her first boyfriend.

"We were randy teen-agers and thought it'd be kind of cool to date other people while still being together," Ms. Fox recalls.

"The first time was when I was out of town [during summer vacation]," she continues. "He called me for our weekly phone call, and he told me he met this girl. The bottom jumped out of my stomach."

But when she got back, she realized it would be OK. Her boyfriend was eager to tell her about this new girl and still very much wanted her to be a part of his life.

But, "I do get jealous, and I do get insecure," Ms. Fox says, revealing how she recently felt toward her husband's current interest.

Right now Josh is experiencing a lot of "New Relationship Energy" — the euphoria every person has when falling in love — and Ms. Fox is having a harder time coping with it than usual.

But, "my jealousy is my problem," she says, pointing out, "Josh has done nothing wrong."

She believes her jealousy is a sign of her own insecurity and something she needs to address herself.

Eventually, she realized the reason she was feeling a bit shut out was because she wanted more of a role to play in the relationship, even if that simply means "playing hostess" and welcoming this woman into her home.

Today, she says her jealousy has been replaced by "compersion," or the joy of seeing how happy her husband is with this other woman. It is a feeling many polyamorists report having.

"They are deeply in love. You look at them and think, 'This one is for the ages; they're beautiful,'" Ms Fox says about Josh and his new lover, without a trace of envy.

Ms. Fox and her husband married two years ago. Not a legal ceremony, the wedding was a celebration of their love, to signify they are "first in each other's lives."

Ms. Fox remembers at the wedding: "I caught my father flirting with my girlfriend."

"All these people here, you either were dating, are dating or will be dating" was his response to her.

For the most part, Ms. Fox had to agree.

Yet when it comes to sex, the Manhattan resident says, "I can take it or leave it.

"Contrary to the stereotype [about polyamorists], I do not have a ravenous libido."

It's true: Many in the polyamory community have a huge appetite for sex, and it's very hard for one woman or man to keep them satisfied, says Ms. Fox.

That's why she and her husband regularly get tested for STDs, and are careful about protecting themselves during sex.

There is one thing polyamorists cannot protect themselves against: The heartbreak of getting dumped. Because breakups in polyamorous relationships are very personal, they sting even more, says Ms. Fox.

It's not like they're breaking up because there is "someone else" — polys are encouraged to date other people — so the reason really has to do with you.

Ms. Fox recalls how painful it was when one partner broke up with her.

"I am sorry. I don't know how this happened, but I am not in love with you anymore," she recalls him as saying.

Ouch.

For a while, it was weird, she says. But, at least she had her husband's shoulder to cry on.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

How many’s a crowd?

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 26, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Source: Diamondback Online

Sophomore computer science major Seth Weinstein has two girlfriends: One he sees during the school year, and the other when at home in Columbia.

But don't get him confused for a player or even a cheater – he's simply polyamorous.

A growing relationship type among university students, polyamory is the practice of intimately and openly dating several people at once. Different from an open relationship, polyamory is not just about sex, nor is it about playing the field, say students involved in the practice. Instead, it's about caring for several people at the same time – just in different ways.

"We are just trying to be open and honest about our ability to love more than one person at a time," Marly Davidson, an event organizer for the Chesapeake Polyamory Network, said.

A romantic concept that has been around since the '80s, polyamory is now making its way into the public eye more so than in past generations. For example, episodes of Oprah, Montel and The Tyra Banks Show have been dedicated to the subject, and countless polyamorous organizations have popped up across the Internet, with many, such as Loving More and Poly Living, holding conferences every year.

Though Davidson said the poly-community at CPN consists of adults from 30- to 70-years-old, more and more members of the younger generation are discovering this relationship alternative.

"We run into a lot of people, younger people, thinking for themselves, and they understand that they have lots of options," Davidson said. "The whole idea of one person meeting all of their needs for rest of their lives is very silly. It's not realistic."

Weinstein felt polyamory functions well for the college-age generation, and was content with balancing two relationships at one time. He has been dating girlfriend C.J. Rock, a junior lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies and Spanish major, for about seven months after their friendship blossomed over summer conversations online.

Rock, however, is always on the go because of her double major, and encouraged Weinstein to pursue other relationships, fearing that she could not always fit him into her tight schedule.

"I'm so busy," Rock said. "I kind of feel bad not giving the person enough attention as they deserve. In polyamory, it's easier for the person to get the attention they need when I can't provide it."

So when Weinstein met Adrienne Moser at a party during Thanksgiving break, he felt free to start a relationship with her.

Weinstein now dates Rock while at school and sees Moser when at home, creating a perfect situation that all three parties are open and fine with.

"In a traditional relationship, I would have been put in a difficult situation when I met Adrienne," Weinstein said. "I was attracted to her and I can't do anything about that. I'm a sophomore. I can date a lot of people and see who interests me."

Although the typical relationship would see such openness as a form of double-dipping, Davidson says jealousy is often a symptom of a poorly-functioning relationship. Openly dating several people eliminates that problem, she added.

And for Weinstein, Moser and Rock, the situation mostly works, they said.

"I pretty much can do what I'm used to doing," Moser said. "If I meet someone, I don't have to be like 'Oh my God, will my boyfriend not like me talking to this guy?' I am able to not have to worry about the jealousy factor."

As with any relationship, things are not always perfect, Rock said, and conflicts are bound to come up with multiple people. To avoid situations like these, the polyamorist mantra is communication, with honesty between all parties functioning as the lifeline to the relationships, Rock added.

"It forces an honesty that people don't always bring to a relationship," she said. "You have to talk about things."

But in no way is polyamory a glorified form of an open relationship, polyamorists say.

For example, while sophomore computer science major Mike Onufrak has a girlfriend of 10 months, the relationship is an open one, and he occasionally hooks up with other girls, he said. Because he and his girlfriend communicate about what they're doing, Onufrak said, the outside dalliances are simply understood as sex without emotional attachment.

"I don't get into serious relationships in college," Onufrak said. "In college, it just does not sound like a fun thing to do."

While Weinstein stressed the benefits of being intimate and involved with several people at once, he added polyamory requires more discussion between those involved – a situation certainly not everyone can deal with.

"If a person cannot handle you being with another person, this is not the relationship to be in," Weinstein said.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Radio Netherlands Worldwide: About Fitna, The Movie

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 22, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Source: About Fitna, The Movie
Also see: Geert Wilders dossier

About Fitna, the Netherlands and Wilders

Very rarely has a film sparked off as much pre-release controversy as Dutch MP Geert Wilder’s ‘Fitna,the movie’. Even without knowing what’s in it, 'Fitna’ has got the world asking questions. Questions about the man who made it and his motives, about the country he lives in where his film is allowed. Questions about that country’s government – which issues warnings about the film but does nothing to stop it. And questions about the position of Muslims in The Netherlands. The central character in this film is also struggling with these questions, and decides to travel to The Netherlands in search of answers.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Miyajima

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Miyajima

BlueSkyinBY uploaded this image to flickr, click the image and follow the link to the original page

Itsukushima [.]

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Murder In The Air

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 22, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Murder In The Air

tarotastic uploaded this image to flickr, click the image and follow the link to the original page

Look closely … you may be surprised …

View large

This species of spider waits on the tips of a certain type of plant camouflaging itself amongst the flowers. When an unwitting butterfly approaches for a nectar break … it pounces.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

georgia and the tree

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 22, 2008 at 8:52 pm

georgia and the tree

wild goose chase uploaded this image to flickr, click the image and follow the link to the original page

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Nasir Almolk

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 22, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Nasir Almolk

Maryam.z uploaded this image to flickr, click the image and follow the link to the original page

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

It’s not about sex, it’s about Self

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 17, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Fragments from an interesting read, It's not about sex, it's about Self, by Eric Francis:

(found via Ailim)

I don't understand love that excludes. To me, love's greatest quality is that it includes, to the best extent that we can cooperate. Yet theme of jealousy seems to be endemic to the human condition. There are few coherent ideas on the topic, much less sane ideas about what to do. Those in the reading audience who have explored polyamory (honest non-monogamy) will recognize some of its themes as the series develops, particularly the idea of compersion.

In practice, relationships and gender are fluid; they change and are subject to an ongoing process of revision and sometimes even conscious creation by individuals and by society. Our definitions of masculine and feminine seem important, but more often they are ridiculous. Despite being ridiculous, they make all kinds of demands on us that we hop to, as if somebody were pointing a gun.

The psyche on its deepest layers is so closely intertwined with sexual consciousness as to be one and the same with it. Because it accounts for how we come into the world, which is the only world we know, sex is cosmic. Yet discussion of sex is a kind of ruse for the real discussion, below the surface, and that is about one's sense of identity and existence.

Our relationship to sex and sexuality is our relationship to existence. If we feel good about our erotic experiences, needs and feelings, we tend to feel good about life. If we are bitter, if we don't get what we need, if we feel guilty or ashamed of our sexual feelings and experiences, that is most likely how we're going to feel about life. This can manifest some strange ways, such as violence and manipulation, just like feeling good about sex can manifest as a passionate, creative person who creates their existence consciously every day.

He could think; he could see; he could hear. His memory and imagination were intact. But he could not move or express himself — except for one eye. This is called "locked-in syndrome." It is consciousness locked into a body that cannot respond; it is the ultimate mind-body split.

I think that sexually, we are a society of people suffering from a variant of locked-in syndrome. We may have our erotic imaginations, we may have our memories and we may have our desires. But we have untold thousands of reasons not to act on or even speak about our experiences. To some extent, nearly everyone in the current version of Western culture is erotically paralyzed.

Monogamy for most people is less about fidelity and more about not wanting to make one's partner jealous. Or, it's about being good, whether out of guilt, or so they don't do anything that makes you jealous.

"My jealousy keeps me monogamous. Seriously, what other reason would there be?" She admitted she didn't want him to do anything that would make her jealous, either. I call this kind of deadlock gunpoint monogamy: if you move, I'll shoot. If I move, you'll shoot. We both better be good. Note, I don't believe this has anything to do with love.

We know inside that we're all responsible for our own jealousy. Yet typically we either make it everyone else's fault ("he made me jealous"), or take on the burden of shielding others from what might stir up their rage (and this is often a convenient, deceptive excuse). Projection takes many forms. I've noticed that the people who pour on the jealousy tend to be the most likely to cheat.

Relationships in our society and in many others are trumped up as the pearl of great price, the most valuable thing in the universe — and to many, it makes sense to avoid the one thing that could threaten this, at any cost. The result is we can gradually come to live lives of total deception. As a result, the emotional subject matter that we need to open up about in our relationships goes unaddressed. We avoid jealousy and thus avoid what it has to offer us as a growth tool; as a cosmic mirror. We avoid truth, and erotic energy dies.

Much of that unaddressed emotional material involves insecurity and lack of self-esteem. A relationship can cover that up for a while, and jealousy can quickly expose the emotional void we lived with all along. If someone wants someone else, we must be unworthy. For most people, jealousy is so painful and so entirely debilitating that it makes sense to avoid it, just like you would not intentionally put your hand on a hot stove.
 
The idea that one's lover could be with someone else is often viewed as the ultimate betrayal, and the worst form of abandonment. The supposed solution is to avoid the feeling and anything that can lead to it at all costs, though without recognizing what that cost really is. Taken unconsciously, the cost of jealousy is loss of the right to exist, or the denial of your partner's right to exist. Usually, both happen together.

As adults, guilt is to love and happiness what embalming fluid is to human blood. In many relationships, it has come to entirely replace the sense of bonding, friendship and kindness that previously characterized the joining. Our guilt is the means by which we allow other people to control us; when we give up our guilt, we are no longer subject to emotional manipulation, and therefore partners, parents, bosses and so forth can no longer control us; we are free.

If we are lacking self-esteem — a problem so pervasive as to be invisible — we are going to have a lot of problems in relationships. This can account for much of our stuff around jealousy. For example, if we need a relationship to know that we exist, then we will naturally feel that our existence is threatened if our partner so much as smiles at someone else.

Whatever may be a natural thing for a human to do — we don't know, because we've gone so far from it — there is incalculable social pressure to behave within extremely strict rules that, as it happens, rarely ever follow the natural course of human emotion or desire.
 
Both sanctioned forms of relationship, marriage or temporary promiscuity, imply that relationship is about property: in one case, property you keep, and in the other, property you dispose of.
 
There are people who practice alternatives. Maybe you're friends with a few; maybe you don't even know it. They have good reasons to keep quiet: for example, a judge can take away their kids. It's considered weird to have an open marriage, to be polyamorous, or to stay single and have sex with your friends. If you're married and are secretly lesbian or bisexual, you live a hidden double life — for a reason. If you are openly bisexual, it is usually presumed that you will be serially monogamous and only have relations with one sex or the other at a time.

Acceptable models of relationship tend to have an all or nothing quality; they are black and white deals involving total surrender. You are either married or a slut. Past a certain age, you're a good husband or a womanizer who can't settle down and make a commitment.

If you are polyamorous (someone who practices conscious non monogamy), others may be polite toward you, but most will presume that there must be "something missing" from your relationship, which is why you have other love interests. (And if you have kids, please do not go on TV and talk about it.) Truly, I am happy ever to see a positive response outside the poly community itself. Many people know they would adore having a couple of lovers, so I imagine there would be some secret jealousy. Or, if you're a man and openly say you're poly, you will likely be presumed by many in the straight world to be an kind of polite womaniser whose primary partner has no self-esteem. A few people will be secretly envious, but will likely keep that quiet to. Who knows, I don't get out a lot. Maybe times are changing.

You might think of compersion, which is about embracing the love and pleasure of our lover or anyone else, as a study in flight dynamics. This is akin to pointing the nose of an air plane downward when you go into a stall created by a jealous episode. It takes courage to do this in any event, but particularly when you're caught flying low to the ground. But it may be the only way to keep from crashing.
 
Looked at another way, compersion is the full appreciation of another person's pleasure and indeed their existence — something many relationships could use a lot more of. If we could indeed get there, this would be an excellent resolution for jealousy and much besides. Our relationships would be more interesting, more compassionate and best of all, make room for who we really are.
 
More than being a protective measure, compersion is a daring way to explore the emotional dynamics of pleasure and human interaction, as well as to work through attachment and guilt. It's a way to take a constructive approach to shame and embarrassment. For people who are considering opening up to their relationship to other partners, it's the thing that makes the process safe and sane.

While we're considering the subject of relationships, and jealousy in particular, we need to remember that in our society, the ideas we are given about love are competitive. Only one person is going to "get" you; for any individual, the chances are six billion to one. There seems to be not enough of anything for all of us, so we have to compete; we have to be Number One. We may say this is the way of nature, but humans love to point out how far above nature they are.
 
Most of our ideas about life and love are based on scarcity. Even on a planet where you have billions of people without partners, many of them can't find a date on a Friday night. Have you ever considered how twisted that is? Such as when you're home alone and horny and want some company, and you realize there must be millions of people in this same condition? On a planet with so many people, you would think there would be nothing easier to find than other people, or someone special. On a planet where so many people want sex, you would think there would be plenty of it. Yet even in this state of total abundance, we manage to turn it around and live in the midst of a horrid shortage. (No matter what people may have, or need, unless they're willing to give and receive — generally in that order — there is no exchange possible. That is part of the problem.)
 
In this desert, we tend to fear two things. What we fear most is abandonment. Even if that one special person has found us, or vice versa, the big fear is that we will lose them; that they will find someone else. Often, even when we find love, we live with a sense of incredible frailty, sensitivity and imminent doom. This is usually based on the fear of not being good enough; indeed, at times on a total absence of self-esteem.
 
The second thing we fear is being close to others. A great many people don't like who they are inside, and are terrified about the prospect of exposing this to others. Many people survive by making up a fake character, and if someone gets close to us, we may fear that they'll figure out we're empty and thus undeserving of love.

Some feel that jealousy is about the desire to be preferred, or a sense of competition because we all want the best. Or it is a kind of extreme envy, where you want what someone else has. The author is proposing that these are superficial issues that conceal the true spiritual matter beneath jealousy — and if we stay on the surface, we miss the benefit we can get from encountering the deeper levels directly. Jealousy will haunt us and never become a teacher or ally.

There is profound surrender involved in any situation where jealousy comes up — in truth, you cannot do anything about how other people feel or what they want. We can try to violate that by attempting to gain control over the situation, or we can let go — and letting go is one of the sexiest and most pleasurable things known to humanity. For as much as we cling and struggle to control ourselves, everyone and everything, what I think we we need the most is to let go.
 
I recognize that in the middle of the fear, rage, pain and loss associated with a jealous experience, this may feel like pointing the airplane directly at the ground — it violates common sense, and goes contrary to all the body's instincts. There is no way you're supposed to be turned on by your lover caring about someone else, or be comforted by the knowledge that they're wrapped in someone else's arms. That would be a form of masochism, right? What do you do with all that overwhelming feeling of betrayal? And of course, even if you can get there, it's not socially acceptable. If you described feeling any pleasure at your partner's feeling of love for someone else, your friends might think you had lost your mind.
 
But having found one's mind is more likely to be true. The point here is simple: to be free. Remember, that's not socially acceptable. Human beings often come to love the bonds that chain them; the rooms that imprison them. We seem to love the drama of jealousy, its intensity, its pathos, and we do so without going underneath to see what's there. Attachment provides a sense of belonging. There are people who don't feel loved unless their partner gets jealous. There are people who don't feel loved unless their partner experiences guilt for having any pleasure that doesn't involve them. The logic of monogamous guilt is, "He will be mad at me if I do something that feels good and don't feel guilty." After a while this becomes a serious block to love. Control, which is often effected through guilt, is a direct obstacle to the space that love needs to be itself. Compersion allows what exists to be itself.

Compersion is a lot like compassion, but the origin, the core of the idea, is specifically sexual. You could say it's about recognizing what someone feels and embracing that, but I think that (like jealousy) it is closer to the existential level. Per means one or individual, so compersion is embracing the whole person and their experience. This is supposed to be what love is about. Unfortunately, once guilt and jealousy get into the picture, who a person is as an individual ends up being the last thing on most people's minds.
 
If you follow the experience, you may notice that it leads to a complete reversal of how we are supposed to experience life; it goes contrary to all the values of possession, control and commitment that characterize our relationships.
 
Compersion is the complete acknowledgement of who a person is, in their entirety, as apart from you. All they may feel, go through, need, experience, desire; their fears and repulsions and conflicts are all included. This is holistic empathy.

Some relationships have nothing to do with this elusive concept of who a person is. Even in more enlightened relationships, as it works out, we can do this for people close to us in many aspects of life, except for sexual. Embracing someone — such as a lover or person we desire — in the full spectrum of their erotic reality presents a specific challenge, because it can quickly take us to the empty place where we are no longer necessary. So often in this empty space we still love, because we don't have a choice, or because we refuse to not love.
 
It's as close to ego death or even death as we may safely approach, because our own identity and individual needs stand outside of the equation — except in that we're aware enough to embrace the other in all their feelings and experiences.
 
This degree of embracing the other is entirely necessary for any sense of fulfilment in love, in erotic expression or in art. To do this we must first cease to exist, and then find existence within the emptiness. It is right there! In a sense, we are born into that emptiness, shorn of expectation, need, or the sense of loss involved with not being needed. Or, at the least, we recognize that we are needed because of the incomparable properties we possess. And in that space, we can actually exist.
 
To offer another person your compersion is to offer them and yourself the autonomy necessary for each of us to be ourselves; and for love to be itself. It is the living expression that only truth is erotic.
 
If you're ever wondering where all the erotic energy has gone from your life, this is something to consider.

We might wonder, why bother with all of this, when you can just have a monogamous relationship? You know, keep things nice and simple? Well, that works in theory. When we look closer at a human psyche, we discover that people are more complex than they are monogamous. For the most part, monogamy is perpetuated by not discussing what we really feel. Even when two people really want to be together, often, anything that might threaten the relationship is quietly dropped from the discussion.

In many monogamous relationships, people have needs that they feel guilty about getting met outside the relationship. The guilt becomes the means by which people control themselves and one another. Compersion is a way to get free of that extremely toxic exchange that happens in so many relationships.
 
Once you get the hang of compersion, as an emotion and not just a concept, life gets easier. You can give yourself more space to feel, give your lover more space to feel, and the happiness of others can spill over into your life. You can learn from others how to be happy. You don't need to keep up with the Jones's (and you probably would not want to). After a while, you can start to feel what love is like when you subtract the competition and guilt. Why don't you need guilt? Well, because whatever you feel is okay. Then after a while, what you need is okay. Then, what you do is okay — it has nothing to do with the love you feel for your partner.

Compersion starts with telling the truth to your partner about all things erotic. This may be difficult, but it gets easier as you practice and build confidence. It's also a great way to find out if you're with the right person.

When dealing with resistance in any form, let the fear have a voice. Let the fear speak first, and don't moralize it out of existence — it will be more cooperative if it knows you're listening. Be aware that it is fear. This is an opportunity to be reassuring. If someone goes into a panic, you are getting a look at the dynamics which underlie your relationship. Make sure you see them for what they are.

I have a theory, and I'm eager to try it on society. I believe we can ease a lot of the stifling sexual tension we live with by recognizing and moreover appreciating one another as independent erotic beings. We need to recognize that everyone has an erotic reality, and love that reality — without necessarily needing to take over or mixing energies all the way. Compersion is about appreciating, recognizing, identifying, feeling, witnessing and loving — all from a little distance, and most of all respecting everyone's autonomy of feeling. It's a fine way to live. It eases the pain of isolation and points the way to unusual and deeply nourishing emotional and erotic pleasures. The only catch, and it's a big one, is you need the willingness to be free.

To plunge into this deeply negative programming and begin to unravel it takes courage. To consciously challenge any cultural programming takes guts, devotion and creativity. To seek something different, a world based on pleasure, sharing and understanding, takes even more courage. Usually, such a journey requires help and it takes some resources, in particular, different ideas than the ones we were taught and a means of deciding what is really true for us. And I don't think we are going to do it alone. The most important ingredient is something that anyone can call upon and receive: the desire to connect with oneself, and then with those around us.

Wilhelm Reich in his book The Function of the Orgasm proposed that sex is a creative act and that biological reproduction is the outgrowth of that creativity, rather than the purpose of sex. He proposed that the Christians — the single most anti-sex religion known to history — and everyone else has it backwards. Sex is about creation first and reproduction second. It is no wonder that sex — when it's sane and up-front — is rejuvenating, creatively inspiring, and helps us feel beautifully human.
 
We do not need to look far to solve the greatest crime against humanity — the co-opting of sex and sexuality by religion as evil. Instead of being taught to celebrate that which gives us creation and life, we are taught to lie, to hide and to feel guilty. We encase creativity and love in "romance," drama and pathology when we could just as easily, and with far less expenditure of time and energy, celebrate existence. We live in a world where it seems sex must always have a victim. It's dumb, but why do we fall for it?
 
Our culture has no idea of what sex meant, how it was practised, or how people felt about it before the burning of libraries and the women; the smashing of artefacts and our psyches. If we want to know, we are going to need to seek the truth, and very patiently teach ourselves and one another a new way of being.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Are we really mono-poly?

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

By Janet Kira Lessin, printed in Loving More Magazine #22, Spring 2000

Doctors Hal and Sidra Stone teach us that we have many "voices" within ourselves. We each have our own set of voices, be they the Inner Critic, the Inner Child, the Inner Pope, the Inner Aphrodite or any of a myriad possible combinations.

At different times these voices battle for dominance within us. We each have inner dichotomies — poles of opposition vying for the upper hand. The Inner Catholic conflicts with the Inner Atheist, for example.

Where we find ourselves in any given point in our existence, we tend to throw stones at our opposites. In life we tend to attract to us, to "hire" in a sense our "disowned selves." We see in others what we least like about ourselves. These "mirrors" act as a reflection to us of those parts we need to incorporate into our being, in order to feel whole and complete.

As we seek to come to complete integration of our many selves, or subpersonalities, we strive to come to our center, or as we say in voice dialogue, to develop an "aware ego". Many books have chronicled this search for enlightenment.

Two complete opposites, almost universally, are our Inner Monogamist and our Inner Polyamorist (loving more than one in an intimate relationship). Never before has there been such debate, especially in this Judeo/Christian culture. Why does it seem that so many polyamorists are attracted to and marry so many monogamists and vice versa? If we were to imagine the center for this dichotomy, what would we find? Could it be a combination of the best of both worlds, that which I refer to as Mono-Poly?

As we observe the world around us, it doesn't appear that mankind is truly monogamous; with our incredible divorce rate that is rapidly heading towards sixty-five percentile for us "baby boomers". That's not counting our infidelity rate, which is staggering. Add on top of that the "happiness factor", those who stay together only because of the kids, the bills, the family, habit, etc. and the figures really get alarming. What's going on here?

Despite all of the above, it does appear that we humans do tend to "pair bond". Even at the east and west poly conferences last year, it was observable; twos seeking three, couples seeking couples, even those "expanded group marriages" within them appeared to have groupings, two by two! Lets now examine the pros of each lifestyle.

With monogamy, one can embrace the creation; man/woman, Adam/Eve, two by two, the dyad, romanticism. Many find it fashionable to trounce romanticism, but face it; romance is fun! It gives one that chemical rush, that "high" of a new love, NRE (New Relationship Energy)!

Monogamy reinforces the security of a stable home, Mom and Dad, someone we can turn to in thick and thin, loyalty, commitment, our "best friend". Monogamy provides that special someone to whom you can confess your deepest, darkest secrets; that person with whom you have that "special" something that only you two know and share.

Monogamy resonates the feeling the feeling of forever, security, safety, warm fuzzies. It provides that person to whom you return when your poly adventures turn sour and they "dump" you.

Spiritually it resembles "the split-apart", the "twin flame", symbolized in the yin/yang. The twin flame is that one special person that for some inexplicable reason you feel this incredible bond that transcends time and space. When you meet that person, it bowls you over. You connect, not just on one or two chakras, but on all chakras. You realize how you never really completely connected with anyone else before and if they left, you would never go this deep ever again. It is a merging; a oneness with Man/Woman/God/Goddess/Universe.

Historically, says Dr. Helen Fisher (Anatomy of Love, Norton: 1992), monogamy insured at least two people stayed together and committed to their child's survival; staying together until he was "weaned" and somewhat self-sufficient before parting (about 4 years).

Now that we've shown the virtues of monogamy, what possibly are the the pros of polyamory?

Obviously the first thing is "variety is the spice of life".  In polyamory we have sexual variety, which is very exciting and attractive to many of us. We also have more than one person with whom do things with, so one person is not trying to meet all of our "needs", which is virtually impossible.

In polyamory, one has many mirrors in which to reflect; many points of view in which to learn and grow. In a poly household, there are many hands to accomplish tasks, to pull resources together.

Polyamory resonates the security of the "tribe"; the memory of which resides deep within many of us. With numerous to defend the women and children and assure their survival, the survival of the tribe, the children and continuance was assured against predators and foes.

As souls we appear to be created in soul groups that find one another lifetime after lifetime. We have many "soul mates" that we have loved through many lifetimes; that we have loved in various fashions time and again. As souls we know that we have an endless, boundless capacity to love. Polyamory brings our natural state of loving oneness and that ability to love all into the physical.

Statistically it appears that our marriages and dyadic relationships seem to last on the average of 3.5 to 4 years. Currently there are no real statistics available on poly relationships. We can only speculate as many remain hidden to protect their lifestyles and their families.

In my poly group, I have seen first hand the trials and tribulations of loving more than one. It is certainly not an easy path to undertake, no easier than monogamy, it appears. Broken hearts happen here as well.

Recently, I heard one staggering statistic from a local Hawaii talk show host, Kevin Hughes, which made me stand up and take notice. He said that swingers stay married on the average of 23 years! Wait a minute… 23 years! Let's take a look at that one! So I did.

I had noticed in conversations on the Internet that there are many who define themselves as "swingers" who are actually couples seeking other couples with whom to love. They just don't have any other models. They've never heard the vocabulary. Perhaps they really are poly?

I had noticed that I myself had been passing judgement and throwing stones at swingers, if only to myself. I wanted to observe things first hand, see what was really going on. So, I asked my husband, Sasha, if he wanted to check out one of the swinger's parties. After some debate, we decided the best course of action was to open up invite the local swingers organization to have a party at our house. This way, we would be able to make the most scientifically accurate observations. With some reservations and much anticipation, the party began.

What we discovered from our party is that swingers traditionally do not allow any single men in their functions. Parties are strictly couples with once in a while the occasional single woman, who is usually bisexual.

They do what I call "inclusionary lovemaking". One man told me, "I would never imagine going somewhere and making it with anyone without my wife. We are a matched set. Love me, love my dog".

In swinging, there doesn't appear to be any "mini-monoging; that little mini-affair away from home, discreet, unseen, separate from one another. Swingers seem to love together, in parties, with another couple, in the same room, or out of the room but not very far out of site from one another. They always remain connected in some way; sensing each other; feeling each other. Rather sweet, huh?

I'm not advocating that swinging is "THE MODEL" for all of the world. It is just that I no longer throw stones at them and I'm now taking a deeper look. I see the love. Many swingers develop lifelong friendships with those whom they engage in sexual play.

One thing to notice is that there are only about 200 in attendance at each poly conference each year where there are more than 3,000 who attend the Lifestyles Conference for the whole time with approximately 10,000 additional attendees for the daily events attending the workshops visiting booths and exhibitions.

I feel that, in the final analysis, we act from "choice." Even if we define ourselves as belonging to one relationship type, it appears that life throws a wrench at you; someone comes into your life; you respond with love; and soon you find yourself somewhere else along the continuum. After all, the only thing constant in life is change.

Perhaps that's truly what Hal and Sidra Stone talk about when they speak of centering oneself and the "dance of the selves" as the path to awareness and wholeness in life.

As we seem to go from lifetime to lifetime experiencing being every religion, race, color and creed, we find within our soul group that we have experienced being every imaginable configuration of friends, family and lovers. We do this dance time and again, hurting and being hurt, until one day we, find that we have completed all karma, our soul group reunites in bliss and we return home to "go out no more". Bless free will. Enjoy the adventure.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend