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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

How to be a poly-friendly person

In Too lazy to assign a category on October 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm

1) Remember that polyamorous people are pretty much like monogamous people, only not monogamous. Being polyamorous doesn't mean that they have particular physical features, hobbies, or sexualities. Don't generalize about poly people. Don't assume that you know jack about polyamory – unless you've been doing it, you really don't. Even if you have tried nonmonogamy at some point, it tends to go differently for different people, so your experience is probably going to be different than someone else's.

2) Don't assume poly people are sexually insatiable or even have a high sex drive. Some do, some don't.

3) Don't assume poly people are sluts or available. Do not assume that they have casual sex: some do, some don't. At the same time, if you have a problem with people who are slutty or have casual sex, recognize that you are prejudiced and get over it.

4) Do not assume that poly people are cheating or somehow hiding things from their partners. Chances are, they are not.

5) When someone tells you they are poly, do not assume that they are hitting on you. They are probably not. Do not assume they are available to date or sleep with you just because they're poly.

6) Don't date poly people unless you are at least willing to invest some serious time and energy (measured in years) into either a) becoming poly yourself or b) getting over jealousy enough so that they can date other people.

7) Do not start dating a poly (or really, any nonmonogamous) person with the assumption that once you and they fall in love, they'll be monogamous with you. They probably won't, and this leads to heartbreak on all sides. If a person says to you that they plan on being nonmonogamous indefinitely, believe them.

8) If you want to date someone in a monogamous manner, say so explicitly early in the relationship. Don't assume that because you slept together (moved in, met the parents, etc) that you must be monogamous now. You might be surprised by what assumptions they have been making about monogamy or the lack thereof.

9) When a poly person breaks up with one of their lovers, don't think that they should be fine because they still have others. It doesn't work like that, even when monogamous people do it.

10) When a poly person breaks up or has a bad relationship experience, do not tell them it is because polyamory doesn't work. Monogamous people break up all the time, but that doesn't prove that monogamy is doomed to failure. Similarly, if a poly person decides to become monogamous, don't assume that all poly people are just fooling themselves. Polyamory does work, just not for everyone.

11) Don't assume that jealousy makes polyamory impossible. Some people don't get jealous, and others get good at managing or deprogramming their jealousy.

12) Don't get defensive. Polyamorous people are not saying that monogamy is inferior. (Or if they are, they're wrong.) Don't say things like, "I could never do that, I just get too jealous". Saying such things makes you look insecure in your monogamy. If you find yourself getting defensive around polyamorous people, check yourself: maybe you are insecure in monogamy in some way.

13) Don't assume that if your partner/lover/spouse meets a poly person, they will suddenly be seduced by polyamory. If you are that insecure about your partner's monogamy, maybe you should work on your relationship with them.

14) Don't assume people you meet are monogamous. Given the rates of negotiated nonmonogamy and cheating, there's a really good chance that you're wrong.

15) If you meet someone who is dissatisfied with monogamy or having trouble with monogamy, mention polyamory (or other types of negotiated nonmonogamy) to them as a possibility. Lots of people become polyamorous later in life simply because they did not know it was a possibility when they were younger.

16) Question your own prejudices about which relationships are valuable and worthy of celebration. Do you consider nonmonogamous relationships to somehow be inferior or less loving? Do you assume that they are unstable, or always end quickly? Do you understand that commitment and monogamy are not the same thing?

17) Note when monogamous assumptions are built into books or media. Ask yourself questions like, "how would this romantic comedy be different if nonmonogamy was a possibility?".

18) Check out poly resources of various sorts: online, books, etc. This serves two purposes. Not only do you get to know better what it is like to be polyamorous, but many poly relationship techniques (like managing jealousy or learning to communicate better) are really helpful in monogamous relationships.

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Some YouTube sources on polyamory

In Too lazy to assign a category on July 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Robyn Trask discusses multiple partners

In Too lazy to assign a category on May 9, 2008 at 6:36 am

Source: courant.com

Most of what we hear about polygamy has to do with stomach-turning situations like the recently raided West Texas ranch where it is believed that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a breakaway Mormon sect — abused children.

But Robyn Trask, executive director of Loving More, a Boulder, Colo.-based group, believes it is unfortunate that the public often doesn't hear about what she believes are the positive aspects to having more than one partner.

While polygamy involves having more than one spouse, Trask's group, which has 1,500 active members, including some in Connecticut, supports polyamory: having multiple loves of either sex with or without marriage.

Trask's organization publishes Loving More Magazine and runs conferences and retreats that address topics that naturally arise, such as jealousy and envy, and provides support and education for people who wish to have "poly" lives.

Read the rest of the interview

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Stereotypes in polyamory

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 31, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Source: polyamory community at LiveJournal

When I was but a wee lad in my early twenties, and not wise in the ways of polyamory, I used to scoff at the ideas of people falling into relatively easy to identify clichés.  Especially among the poly community; after all, weren’t we all being delightfully non-conformist.  Now, from the ever-so-much-more-enlightened position of being in my late twenties, I see that, no, my belief was quite wrong.  I think there are maybe about 10 types of polyamorites in the world (or more).  Certainly, the boundaries are not hard and fast, and I am not doubting that each one of you is a beautiful and unique flower with something special that makes you the exception, but the general rule holds nonetheless.  I think it all came together for me at a party hosted by some good friends of ours in Colorado Springs.  They were a (mostly) functional triad with two children.  They were kind and friendly to us when they first encountered us, and were incredible friends.  I walked into the cluttered living room and waved to them across the half-filled couches.  Two waved back, and the third looked up from a conversation with a curly haired refugee from the eighties, a look of amused despair on her face.  The man in question seemed oblivious to this look, and continued blithely pressing his suit.  It occurred to me that here were two extremely different types of people.

            Polyfi:  Polyfi has been polyamorous for years; long enough to watch the current internet blossoming of the polyamory “community” with a hope that slowly over time has become resigned disappointment.  Polyfi is usually very attractive, with attractive mates, and, no, no matter how many times you mention your stamp collection, Polyfi will not sleep with you.  Not now, not ever.  Polyfi’s natural enemies are Entitled and Fanatic.

            Entitled:  Entitled is almost always male.  He goes to poly events with one goal, and one goal only: to take home whatever woman he can manage to convince.  He will start the evening talking incessantly to the most attractive woman in the room (usually Polyfi) and persists until he is first gently, then rudely rebuffed.  Undeterred, he will turn his attentions to the next most attractive woman in the room.  Usually, he'll go home with Easy, unless even she can't abide his smarmy ways.  As time goes by, Entitled can sometimes evolve into Fanatic.

            As my wife and I circulated through the party (and she fended off her turn with Entitled) I began to look at the others and wonder whether they represented certain types as well.  I thought back to other events, and started observing again.  There was the somewhat disgruntled woman sitting off in the corner, looking occasionally at her husband (across the room, chatting with someone ten years younger than either of them) with a look hovering between wistfulness and jealousy.  Over on another couch, an aggressively together couple snags the much-sought-after attention of a woman that actually came here alone, and is by reputation bisexual.

            Hobbit:  short for "hot bi babe": the holy grail of polyamory.  Vessel for the ill-conceived fantasies of many a poly couple, man, and woman.  Not only is she (in theory) eminently available, but she might actually like YOU.  Why not?  Hobbit rivals polyfi in popularity, but is usually not as attractive.  In some cases it is possible to confuse Hobbit with Easy.  Hobbit's natural enemies are non-existent…but her natural predators are everywhere, waiting to pounce and snatch up this hot commodity before some other person or persons manage to do so.

            Twofer:  They may not be joined at the hip, but it sure seems like it sometimes.  Twofer is always on the prowl for someone they BOTH can date…and is nominally interested in nothing else.  Often times, being a Twofer is a compromise to avoid one party being Reluctant Spouse.  Twofers are sometimes (but not always) also Newbies.  Twofer's natural enemies include Hypocrite and Fanatic, but that's partially because both are trying to split one off from the other, which will always result in horrible drama.  Twofer sometimes generates Hypocrite and Hobbit, but not always.

            Easy:  Female fusion of Hobbit and Entitled.  Usually not as attractive as Hobbit, but makes up for it with a willingness to sleep with anyone and everyone that asks her.  Sometimes single, sometimes married, her relationships do not usually last long, and are often emotionally unfulfilling, which only spurs her to keep trying all the harder.  Easy's natural enemy is Romantic, but that won't stop him from sleeping with her, too.

            Philanderer:  Male.  Philanderer is always male.  He's somehow convinced his wife (Reluctant Spouse) that they should get into the poly "lifestyle," and either obliviously doesn't notice her unease or willfully ignores it.  Philanderer often closely resembles Entitled in his behavior.  Philanderer will encourage Reluctant Spouse to explore polyamory, and tries to set her up with women he wants to sleep with as well.  When Reluctant Spouse becomes interested in a male, however, Philanderer often becomes Hypocrite

            Reluctant Spouse:  She doesn't want to be here.  Really.  Her pride is wounded, she feels bad for being angry at Philanderer, and doesn't have the guts to tell him so.  Reluctant Spouse will eventually find the courage to date herself, and will be surprised again when Philanderer reveals himself as Hypocrite.

            No Boys Allowed:  No Boys Allowed is nearly always married to either Monogamous (male variety) or Hypocrite.  By decree, negotiation, or desire, she doesn't go after other men, and is somewhat insulted when other men ignore this fact and hit on her anyway.  No Boys Allowed is sometimes a Twofer in disguise.

            Quixotic: Quixotic is male and in love with No Boys Allowed.  Poor guy, but he's kind of asking for it.  Unless Quixotic manages to find some perspective, he will inevitably evolve into Fanatic.

            Fanatic: Fanatic thinks any negotiation, arrangement, or rules at all restricting who one's partners can see is tantamount to slavery and oppression.  He will climb high on his might horse and trumpet loudly "That's not poly!" and suggest that others need to shed their outmoded ways of dealing with relationships.  Fanatic will attempt to fix the definition of "polyamory" and "non-monogamy" using circuitous routes of logic (and fallacy).  Fanatic is rarely without his copy of "The Ethical Slut" and will insist that any and all newbies read it.  Fanatic will unabashedly encourage people with arrangements (especially No Boys Allowed) to leave their current partner(s) and find someone who will give them true freedom.  By definition, of course, this means them.  Convenient, huh?  Fanatic's natural enemies include anyone with a brain.

            Matriarch:  Matriarch loves attention.  She's often in her late thirties, is no longer skinny, and is often strikingly beautiful.  She can usually be seen holding court surrounded by a gaggle of admirers.  Cigar in one hand, whiskey in the other, she picks and chooses the best and brightest from her followers.  She usually rules the local poly social scene with an iron, yet benevolent hand.  She has an intense dislike for Entitled, and never invites him to her parties.

            Romantic: Romantic feels that it is his (or her) destiny to have many loves…and will do all possible to make this happen.  Romantic will actively woo, post regular holiday "I love you ALL" messages on his livejournal, publicly comment about how happy-making this lifestyle is…and generally try to "live the dream".  This is attractive to some, a turn-off for others.

            Hypocrite: "But honey, it's perfectly fair!  We'll have the same rules.  Both of us can only date women!"  Hypocrite was often once a Philanderer who discovers he's not quite as sanguine about his wife having other men as he originally claimed.  Hypocrite is surprisingly common, and often masquerades as any of the other types of Polyamorite.  The Fanatic actively plots Hypocrite's downfall, usually by encouraging Quixotic.

            Newbie:  Newbie is brand new to all that is polyamorous.  Newbie is full of optimism, hope, and has not yet realized that their ideal doesn't exist in the real world.  Newbie is often part of a Twofer.  Newbies are always welcomed with great fanfare, as everyone else jostles to get their chance at the fresh meat.

            Kinkball:  the name says it all.  Not only is kinkball polyamorous, kinkball is also into bondage, domination, watersports, yiffing, and half a dozen things you haven't heard of.  Kinkball lords their "more alternative than you" lifestyle as much as they can, and then complains of discrimination when other people complain.

            Picky: Can be male or female, and confuses many.  Picky will go to many poly events, meet, greet, and generally mingle.  Despite all this, Picky usually goes home with the same person that they came to the party with.  Picky will shoot down many attempts at flirtation, smoothly turning them into mere friendly conversation.  Some will hypothesize that Picky is not poly at all, but for Picky it comes down to this: "the odds are good, but the goods are odd."  That said, if Picky manages to find someone to meet their stringent standards, Picky will often evolve into Polyfi.  Can sometimes be mistaken for Snob

            Snob:  Snob will come to the poly party and subtly mock everyone around them.  They will not date anyone there, and wonder aloud why so many people attracted to poly are ugly, fat, or both.  Snob will not hesitate to show pictures of their unreasonably attractive mates.  While one would expect Snob to be equally attractive, this is not always the case.

            Homophobe:  Homophobe embarasses everyone around him.

            Bait:  Bait attempts to procure nubile female flesh for her husband by using herself as a lure for bisexual women.  She herself may not in fact be bisexual, and may even be a closet homophobe, but she'll do anything for her man.  The religious sub-type of Bait–sister-wife–is especially notorious for this, but she tends not to come to poly parties.  After all, she might meet strange people there.

            Out of Play: Out of play–for whatever reason–would really, really like to be poly, but isn't dating right now.  No, not even you.

            Monogamous: Happier than Reluctant Spouse, monogamous knows what they want, and knows that poly is not it.  That said, most specimens of Monogamous you will meet through the polyamory community do not mind if their spouse is Poly; in fact, Monogamous will often encourage it, to the confused consternation of everyone.  Monogamous sometimes has tried poly in the past, and "grown out of it."  Monogamous' greatest "enemy" is Fanatic, but Monogamous never hangs out on polyamory bulletin boards, and doesn't notice the hue and cry at all.

            I don't go to many poly meet ups anymore.  It's hard to see past the types when I go to these events.  These days, I prefer to make friends one on one with the rare poly person or couple I come across out in the real world.  This means fewer dates, but also less drama.  Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to venture back into one of those meat markets, but I'm not counting on it anytime soon.

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How to Make It Work – Tools for Healthy (Polyamorous) Relationships

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm

By Brian Frederick

1. Tell the Truth. Lasting relationships are built on trust. Trust is built on honesty. Honesty isn't hard and it's a good habit. Bite the bullet, tell the truth. If your relationship can't weather it, you are in the wrong relationship; but it probably can. Telling the truth is easier than lying, all rumour and myth to the contrary. Lies are a lot of work. They weigh you down and isolate you. Small lies get lonely and seek out bigger lies. Don't ask one lover to lie or keep secrets from others. Secrets may not be lies but they breed lies. Secrets build walls and discourage intimacy. Know the difference between privacy and secrecy.

Resist the desire to tell someone what you think they want to hear or try to protect them. "Especially do not feign affection." If you're not sure about love, say so. If your relationships are not a high priority in your life, let people know. Encourage honesty in others. Above all, be honest with yourself. Are you looking to build a family or for a little sexual variety?

2. Know Yourself. This is the most important tool and sometimes the hardest to find. Spend quality time with yourself and find out what you're like. Most people never do. Learn to tell when you are moody or unreasonable or defensive or hyper-sensitive or blinded by New Relationship Energy. Know your limits. Discover where you could do better. Learn what's healthy for you and what's not. Figure out what your priorities really are. Learn when to take a walk and cool off.

Many people never see the consistent patterns in their own behaviour that are obvious to everyone else, like always pursuing the same type of lover or always turning relationships into soap operas or lovers into adversaries. They are blind to themselves. What don't you know about yourself? If you know about your addictions you can transform them into a preferences and eventually into a choices, but first you have to know about them.

Take time to discover things like: what baggage are you carrying from your childhood or your last relationship, what do you need and what do you only want, what pushes your buttons and why, which things are you willing to compromise on, what are your core motivations, what makes you jealous or insecure or competitive, at what point are you over-extending yourself, what are your patterns, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Remember to learn your good points too. A lot of this goes back to honesty.

3. Take Care of Yourself.
Work on you. "Grow your own garden in your own soul, don't wait for someone else to bring you flowers." Instead of looking to other people for validation or satisfaction or happiness, learn to make it yourself. This is a vitally important skill for living. You will always be at other people's mercy – until you learn to satisfy your own needs. Once you do, you gain a freedom and confidence that can never be taken away. You can meet people as equals and choose to enjoy each other instead of carefully exchanging needs in a scarcity-driven emotional economy. Ironically, people find this kind of independence very attractive.

Take time by yourself to think about what you need to work on and give yourself the space to do it. Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, like yourself, love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself, respect yourself, serve yourself, nurture yourself, just be yourself and please, sharpen a knife and cut yourself some slack. Everyone is too hard on themselves and everyone's mirrors are warped. Yours are too; learn to compensate. Learn emotional first aid. Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of all your other relationships.

4. Take Responsibility. Own your feelings. No one can make you sad or angry or happy either, they are your emotions. They exist in your head and nowhere else. You own them. You. There are always choices. Accept that sometimes you feel good or bad for no reason at all – not because of the people or events in your life. When you make someone else accountable for your feelings, your disempower yourself.

Playing the victim or martyr is just a way to manipulate people. To say, "I hurt you because my parents hurt me", is to surrender your life to other people and to the past. Be here now. Take charge of your own feelings and actions and life. You are responsible for seeing that your own needs get met. (Yes, even your own sexual needs.) Don't tell other people "do me, make me happy, protect me." Learn to take care of yourself.

If there are problems in one of your relationships or if your life is a mess, stand up and carry your share of the responsibility (and no more), even if you don't think you deserve it. Taking responsibility is not taking blame. "It's all your fault," causes new problems, it doesn't solve any. The more responsibility you take over your own life, the more freedom you have.

5. Encourage Growth. Remember to care about your lovers as human beings. Support them in advancing their careers, spiritual pursuits, educations and ambitions. At their own pace and in their own way. Help them to heal and understand themselves better. Encourage them to take time by themselves and give them the space they need. Help them cultivate strength. Ask them to do the same for you but tell them how; they can't read your mind. One way to encourage growth is to give those you love the freedom to love others.

Some people find neediness and weakness very attractive. Maybe they think they'll be abandoned if their loved ones get strong. They might try to keep people weak and needy so they'll stay. They might give generously but with conditions and strings attached. This is not unconditional love – it may not be love at all – it might just be aggressive need.

Growth can be stunted by difficult emotions like insecurity or fear of abandonment. One way to manage a limiting emotion is to meet it head on. "The only way out – is through." Don't hide from it; that just gives it power. Dive in and weather it and survive it and examine it. Your fear is far worse than reality. Learn that and the emotion loses its power and you grow stronger. You can even use jealousy, insecurity, etc. to teach you about yourself. They are valuable. Pay attention to them and learn from them.

6. Respect. Respect is a form of love. Respect yourself, set limits and boundaries and respect those of other people. Know how and when to clearly say `no' and how to listen when others say `no'. Never tolerate abuse. You deserve better. Remember to be polite to your partners, they deserve it even more than the stranger down the street.

Try not to save all your best stuff for one partner and take your partners for granted, especially when they are together. Try to treat them evenly or someone will feel slighted. Comparisons make people compete and force someone to be the loser. Find a way for everyone to win.

Respect relationships as well as people. Each relationship seems to have a natural shape; don't try to force it to be something else. Think of each relationship as a separate entity that could be healthy or sick. Resist the urge to use a relationship to get your head in order; a lover is not a life raft. If you need therapy, see a doctor.

It's easy to project your expectations onto other people. "Maybe they'll change." Don't try to force a person to be someone they are not. People are package deals; accept them for who they are, good and bad, or don't accept them at all.

If you want respect, keep your word. Keep to the spirit of your agreements; don't squabble over semantics looking for loop-holes to exploit. If you make an agreement in the kitchen, keep it in the bedroom. Every agreement you've ever made is really with yourself.

7. Communicate. If you want a healthy relationship, strong communication skills are a necessity, not a luxury. Trouble usually starts when talking stops. Things come up all the time that have to be worked through patiently and lovingly, even when you're having a bad day. It gets easier over time, but it takes work and a willingness to break up scar tissue and tear down walls. Communication skills are what make a person a good lover.

Arguing skills are not communication skills. Arguing better than someone doesn't make you right, it just makes you better at arguing. Sometimes people strive to `win' an argument at the cost of their own relationship. Negotiate a way for everyone to win.

Listening is more important than talking. Listen actively and don't just hear. Make eye contact. Be here now, don't wander. Paraphrase their words to see if you heard them right. Notice your own words and feelings, ask why they are what they are. Listen to unhappy feelings (yours and those of others) without needing to fix them. Listen to disagreements without taking sides. Listen to non-verbal communication, which usually speaks more clearly than words. Be aware of how the people in your life are loving you.

Some talk is not communication. If you get lost in the woods and pass the same landmark several times, you are making the same mistake over and over. Raising your voice or speaking harshly makes you harder to understand, not easier. Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements. "I think you're wrong" is easier to accept than "you are wrong." Directness works better than manipulation.

Clearly express yourself; people can't read your mind. Tear down the wall between your feelings and your words. Set limits and boundaries and communicate them. Make sure everyone knows what they are getting into. Learn how to defuse arguments. If necessary, learn how and when to say goodbye. Actions communicate better than words. Show people that you love them. Share kindness and affection and laughter. When in doubt, rub their feet.

8. Attitude. Having tools isn't enough, you have to really want to use them. Ya gotta wanna. Your disposition will make it work or blow it. Find a way for everyone to win. Make important decisions unanimous. Shine a positive light on difficult situations too; many relationships wither from negative energy. Don't turn little things into big things. Look for solutions, not someone to blame. Practice tolerance, patience, flexibility, generosity, understanding, forgiveness. Learn to apologize. Laugh at yourself.

Be wrong; you can't learn from errors if you always gotta be right. Let it go; be happy instead. Listen more than you talk. Give someone else the last word. See things through their eyes; empathy is the cure for anger. Stay calm and remember to breath. Let down your walls, trust, open up, risk and let yourself be vulnerable. Without vulnerability there is no intimacy. Take your time and emphasize friendship over romance. Savour what you have instead of dwelling on what you don't have. Practice truly unconditional love. Share.

These tools apply to lovers (monogamous or poly, straight, gay, bi or sell) but also to friends, children, parents and yourself. They won't give anyone a healthy relationship, but if you find yourself confounded and don't know what to do, one of these might help.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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