joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
http://www.crocs.com/p/womens-busy-day-stretch-lace-up/204760.html

I think my mom didn't realize that I have 2 separate wishlists.  She usually hates buying me clothing because she's afraid it won't fit me, even if I put the size in the instructions (don't ask - it is *very* important to my mom that other people be happy, and she doesn't want me to be unhappy with her choice of gifts). But this year, she *only* bought me things from my clothing wishlist.

2 years ago, I separated my clothing into its own wishlist because she and my dad were getting overwhelmed by the sheer size of my wishlist. So now I have 3 - a clothing one, a gift-card one, and an everything-else one (I also have an "adult" one but mom doesn't need to see that one).  Anyway, mom bought me a pair of shoes I had on my wishlist.  When Crocs first came out, I hated them.  I thought the clogs were the ugliest shoes I'd ever seen and I refused to wear them no matter how comfortable they were (and, it turns out, I didn't find them comfortable either).

Then they started making *shoes*.  A former friend of mine, who is seriously high-femme, was wearing an interesting pair of high heels and I commented on them.  She said they were Crocs and they were so comfortable, that they were the only heels she could wear for an entire weekend at a sci-fi convention, on her feet all day, every day.

I was impressed.  So I went to their website and fell in love with their high heeled wedges and a pair of sandals.  I bought the sandals at a local store, where I could try them on, and they are now the only shoes I'll bother to wear unless close-toed shoes are required for some reason (like work).  I also discovered that I can't bake without wearing them because standing barefoot on the hard kitchen floor for that long hurts my lower back, but the Crocs sandals make it possible to stand and walk for hours without pain.

So I tried the wedges.  I've written before about how comfortable and cute they are. When I go dancing, my dance shoes are floor-exclusive - they cannot be worn off the hardwood dance floor because of their special soles.  So I need shoes to wear to and from the event.  I want to wear my Crocs because, even in shoes made for comfort while dancing, after 4 hours of it, my feet are killing me and I can barely walk.  But my sandals are not attractive.  They're not as ugly as the clogs, but they're not high fashion either, and certainly not suitable for the femme attire I dress up in to dance.

Enter the wedges.  When I am *literally* hobbling off the dance floor, I put my wedges on and stand up, and instantly my feet stop hurting.  I have been known to walk around the block for another 2 hours after dancing, while wearing my Crocs wedges.  So I now have them in 2 colors and a third pair of mary-jane style wedges.

Between my retail job (which believes its employees should never sit down and always look "busy"), and my backstage job (which requires unloading trucks, pushing cases from the loading dock to the room we are setting up, and then staging our storage room across the convention center from the event room), I walk an average of 5-15 miles per day.

Yes, I know it's a big gap, but some days I sit down backstage and only have to walk from the parking lot (a mile away) to my room, and then from my room to the break room (about half a mile away, no I'm not being hyperbolic), so I can get away with about 5 miles of walking.  But make enough .5 mile trips from the dock to the room, and 15 miles comes quick enough.

When I'm not actively lifting heavy things and therefore wearing my steel-toe boots, I wear my Converse high tops with special insoles.  These are very comfortable and helpful.  But after 15 miles, I still wish I could be wearing my Crocs.  So now Crocs has sneakers, and an all-black pair.  So I put them on my wishlist and my mom actually got them for me for Christmas. I've worn them twice now at my retail job AND I LOVE THEM!

They have the squishy, bouncy Crocs sole & insole, and the rest of the shoe is made of something like Neoprene so it's very stretchy and "huggy".  I really wish they made high-tops because I have not worn low-top sneakers since before Reebok high-tops came in fashion back in the '80s.  I'm really not a fan of low-top shoes, but I was willing to try it out for the sake of Crocs sneakers.

If you need a good pair of walking shoes that aren't specially formulated for some kind of exercise or sport that you're doing, I'd recommend trying out one of their styles of sneakers. If you can, visit a Crocs store to try them on first, but if you find Crocs to be comfortable at all, you will probably like these sneakers. They do have other styles, as well.  And for those who wear larger sizes and/or prefer "masculine" styles (not that there's a big difference between the masc and femme styles of tennis shoes), they also have this style they call the Swiftwater Hiker, which I actually like better but they don't make in my small size:  http://www.crocs.com/p/mens-swiftwater-hiker/203392.html
joreth: (boxed in)
So, about 6-ish years ago, I lost my long-term place to live.  I had been there for years and I was given no notice (there's a legal reason they could do that but it's long & I don't want to go into it).  Because I had no notice, and I was poor, I spent the next 2 years bouncing around.  A friend would take me in with no notice, that situation would become untenable, I'd have to find the first place I could afford, that place would bottom out, another friend would have to take me in, rinse repeat.

In the middle of all this, I applied for low-income housing.  Let me tell you why this is not a solution for people with low incomes.  More than 4 years after I applied, I finally heard something from them today.  And it's not to say that I finally got in.  No, it's to say that one of their properties is changing owners, so I'll have to go on a *separate* waiting list if I want to still be considered for that property.

I had completely forgotten that I had even applied for low-income housing.  Fortunately, for me, I managed to bust my ass enough to make just enough money to afford this shitty little apartment I found with a landlord who was (at the time) a real person I could talk to and explain things to, and not a management company who has to follow "policy".

Otherwise, I might have spent the last 4 years couch-surfing still (and wearing out my welcome with friends all over town), waiting for the city to get back to me with an apartment I can afford.

This is why poor people stay poor. There are just not enough resources to help them get out of a system that is designed to make them stay in it.
joreth: (feminism)
At work a few months back, I passed by a couple of dudes arguing. One guy stopped me and said, "I'm pretty sure JORETH doesn't need a man for anything!"

Without knowing the rest of their conversation, I said "nope! I don't need a man for anything!"

The other guy started rattling off things that people, being part of a social species, need, like companionship, physical touch, love, etc.

I said, "sure, but I don't need to get any of those things FROM A MAN."

He just stopped and blinked at me, like it had never crossed his mind that "companionship", "physical touch", "a support network" are things that A) have nothing to do with penises and B) are not synonymous with heterosexual romantic relationships.

His mouth opened and closed a few times, as he tried to work out how this was possible. Then he just asked me how else I would get them.

So I pointed out that some women are not straight and they seem to get those things from not-men all the time. And some of us have these things called "friends" and "family" who not only provide "companionship", "physical touch", and "support network", but who often provide it better, and with more stability.

As a last ditch effort, he asked about sex, as he learned that I was straight. That's always a sign that someone doesn't know me, when they think they can "gotcha" me on any topic related to sex.

So I said, "honey, I can do it faster and better by myself than any man can do it for me. Out of all those things, that's the LAST thing I need a man for."

He conceded the argument.

(The first guy who roped me into this later came up and apologized for pulling me in - he's a feminist who was trying to make this guy understand but wasn't succeeding and had reached the end of his rope, and since I happened to be walking by, he knew that I'd have some good responses handy)

joreth: (being wise)
"I apologize for the unintended distress"

"I'm sorry if there were any hurt feelings"

"I regret any pain you might have felt"
These are examples of not-pologies. Notice the lack of any active agent. There is "unintended distress". On whom? Caused by whom or what? "if there were any hurt feelings". Whose feelings? How were they hurt?

Nobody in these not-pologies is taking any responsibility for having *caused* distress, hurt, or pain. There isn't even any acknowledgement of *a cause* for the distress, hurt, or pain, as if the recipient's feelings just magically, spontaneously erupted in a vacuum, not related to anything at all.

"I am sorry for hurting you" - acknowledges an active agent. "I" actively hurt "you".

"I was wrong because..." - lays out exactly why "my" actions were wrong & shows understanding of the wrongdoing.

"In the future, I will..." - accepts accountability by offering reparations and a correction to behaviour to prevent the harm from happening again.

Without these 3 elements, it is not a real apology and the words "I'm sorry" are meaningless. Take responsibility as the agent of harm, show understanding of what that harm was, and make changes to behaviour to repair the harm and prevent its repetition.

"I'm sorry" doesn't mean anything without this behind it. Otherwise, it's just a way to say "your pain is your fault, because I didn't have anything to do with it, your pain just happened, but I feel uncomfortable that your bad feelings are directed at me."

A Better Way To Say Sorry: http://www.cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry/

Mistakes Were Made: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistakes_were_made

Non-Apology Apology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-apology_apology
joreth: (being wise)
I have to admit, I just saw one of the most responsible things ever in a romantic comedy (Fuller House on Netflix).

A woman had a high school sweetheart. They broke up at the end of high school because they had different college dreams (and in rom-coms, if you go to separate schools for 4 years, your relationship is guaranteed to end anyway). 20 years later, they got back in touch, but she had started dating someone new.

At first, the two men competed for her attention, but then the high school sweetheart started dating someone new of his own (who just happened to be almost exactly like the woman, even down to a similar sounding name).  Now everyone seemed paired up with people who made them happy, so problem solved, right? Each couple even got engaged.  Except they still had feelings for each other. So, first, the high school sweetheart broke up with his fiance, and a few moments later, the woman broke off her engagement with her fiance too.

I want to point out that the show did *not* make either jilted fiance into a villain. There was nothing wrong with either character and no "reason" why each should dump them. They just loved each other (and in monogamy-land, you can only have one). I have to give it points for not villainizing the others, and for the characters just deciding to end it with people when they weren't feeling it. That is a perfectly valid reason to end a relationship (see my other posts on not needing to turn exes into evil villains before we break up with them).

So, now the two high school sweethearts are both single again, and both aware of each other's feelings. But, instead of jumping right into another relationship with each other (usually fading into another wedding scene in most rom-coms), they talk first about what to do.  And they *mutually* agree that they need to process their recent breakups (because they did actually really care for their respective exes) and this new revelation of their feelings for each other.  So they agree to not date each other for a month, to give themselves time to grieve and process first.

This is possibly the most emotionally mature, responsible rom-com plot I've ever seen.

#RelationshipBreaksAreMoreImportantThanWeRealize #HavingFeelingsDoesNotMeanWeNeedToActOnThem #IfTheRelationshipIsThatRealThenItWillStillBeThereWhenTheTimingIsBetter #DoNotMakeImportantDecisionsUnderTheInfluenceOfNRE
joreth: (boxed in)
I wish they had told me in high school that suicidal people usually *don't* announce to you that they're going to commit suicide, especially when followed by some kind of condition, such as "I can't live if you won't go out with me".

I wish they had told me this was a manipulative, abusive tactic and that the correct response is to immediately call the authorities and warn them that someone is a danger to themself, even and especially if they tell you not to, and let people trained in this help them.

I wish I hadn't spent 5 years worrying about a "friend" just because I wouldn't date him, and then another 10 years feeling like I was a mean person for finally snapping at him and telling him to just fucking do it then, but if he isn't going to, then stop telling me about it. And then yet another 10 years still talking to him, trying to salvage a friendship out of the girlfriendzone he kept putting me in.

I wish they taught the wheel of abuse in middle school, so that I would have been prepared for when I met all the abusive boys and men I let into my life, when I was pressured to be "nice" to them because their behaviour was "romantic", and even if I didn't return their feelings, when I was told that I still owed them kindness just because they "loved" me.

We keep arguing over sex ed in schools and whether or not to teach people who are probably already sexually active what's going on with their bodies, but we almost never talk about what's going on with their minds. I wish we taught kids how to recognize abusive tactics, in others and in themselves, and how to disentangle themselves from abuse.

I wonder who I would be today if anyone had taught me these things?

#TheWindowsWereFineToBeginWith #NotAllLessonsNeedToBeLearnedFirstHand #IBetIWouldBeALotLessAngryToday
joreth: (boxed in)
Permanent disclaimer: Almost everything aimed at relationships - communication tools, self-esteem tools, advice, techniques, helpful hints, etc. - do not apply to abusive situations. Abuse changes all the rules.  This goes for everything I say and for all relationship stuff everywhere.

Abusers do not operate in good faith and they fuck up your reality. They take and manipulate all those tools and techniques so that they become weapons instead of tools. This is why regular therapy or "couples therapy" is such an awful idea for those in abusive relationships - it just gives them access to more tools to warp into weapons.

If I'm not talking about abuse specifically, I'm exempting abuse. Abuse is a Game Changer. It changes the game and most of the time, only the abuser even knows that the game has been changed - that's part of the game. It's like that one card game my social group used to play, Mao, where the players aren't told the rules until they break one, and even then they still aren't really told. The person giving the penalty must state what the incorrect action was, without explaining the rule that was broken. Except the Game Changer of Abuse is played with your soul as the stakes.

So if you're in an abusive situation or you have not started or progressed far down the path of recovery, most advice for relationships will not apply to you. Do not try Non-Violent Communication with an abuser. Do not try to trust more. Do not let go of your fears or concerns. Do not open up and be vulnerable. Do not learn their Love Language. Do not respond to their Bids for Attention (or, rather, you probably should for your survival, but it's not to keep the love and respect in the relationship, which are the normal "rules" for BfA).

Don't do anything I say about relationships except to seek the advice of abuse specialists like domestic violence shelters and agencies. I am not qualified to give advice about abuse. At best, I can show you the signs and call out abuse masquerading as other things.

I'm pretty good about recognizing patterns once I've learned that their connections exist. But my abuse warnings and rants are separate from my relationship advice. The only thing I can help with abuse is to point out patterns and say "get yourself safe, then leave". Anything more advanced than that, you need a specialist.

As someone said in my FB comments on this thread, all of my other relationship advice assumes at a minimum good intentions between/among partners. An abusive situation does not meet this minimum standard. Don't do all my other relationship advice in abusive situations, and if you're still recovering, you still need an abuse specialist to tell you how to get from there to where my advice is applicable or possible.
joreth: (feminism)
I just made a connection that I've been dancing around for years but I don't think I ever drew such a bold line between before.   Most people who have heard of the word "limerence" confuse it or use it interchangeably with NRE, and they are not synonyms.

NRE is that giddy feeling of being "in love" that you have at the beginning of a relationship.  It has some characteristics in common with limerence, but it also has some very important distinctions.  For instance, what it has in common is that, during NRE, you may think about the other person to the extent that you have trouble concentrating on other things. That can be characterized as "intrusive thoughts".  But limerence is *really* about "intrusive thoughts", more like a mental illness has "intrusive thoughts". Those thoughts become downright obsessive.

Limerence also does not require any relationship to actually exist.  It requires the right combination of Hope and Fear - hope for the "limerent object" (i.e. the person you're limerent about, and "object" is really a very accurate term here because they are often objectifying the other person) to reciprocate your feelings and fear that they won't.  People can be limerent about strangers they have never spoken to (like the cute bank teller that you see every payday or the person who always sits 3 seats behind the driver on your bus commute home), and even people they have never come in contact with like celebrities.  In fact, the scary kind of celebrity stalking has all the hallmarks of limerence.

Once you're actually *in* a relationship, limerence is more likely to fade because, now that you've "secured" the relationship, the amount of fear that they don't reciprocate drops (for most people, anyway).  But having a crush on someone who is also willing to be your friend? That's a recipe for maintaining limerence indefinitely because the friendship keeps feeding the hope and the continued not-dating keeps feeding the fear.

One of the hallmark symptoms of limerence is in a particular daydream.  The daydream involves the limerent person in a situation requiring them to save the limerent object's life.  This act of saving them is what finally brings them to the attention of their L.O.  The L.O. falls for them because this selfless act pulls the scales from their eyes and they finally see them as worthy of love.

Many times, this daydream actually results in the limerent person's death, because if they were to actually achieve their goal of obtaining a relationship with the L.O., they would have to live with the reality of relating to another human being, not the perfect angel casing they have constructed around their L.O.  So their "love" remains "pure" and "unsullied" because it is only a moment of sacrifice and recognition, perfect in its transitory nature.

To give an example, a very common daydream for someone suffering limerence is to imagine that they are walking down the street one day, and they pass their L.O. on the street.  Sometimes they come up with elaborate reasons for why the L.O. is in that particular place and time or why they are (mine as a kid was that I finally convinced my parents to take me to this touristy island near where I grew up, where I heard my teeny-bopper celebrity crush liked to hang out).  But regardless, they are both there, on the sidewalk.

Suddenly, a bus comes careening around the corner.  It has no brakes!  It's barreling down, heading right for the L.O.!  They dash across the street, or down the sidewalk, or wherever they are, and make it to their L.O. in the nick of time, pushing them out of the way to save them from the bus, but not quite fast enough to jump to safety themselves.

The L.O. picks themselves up and runs over to where they lay, broken and bloody.  The L.O. cradles their head in their lap and cries.  The L.O. thanks them and profess undying love to them, begging them to please hold on, help will be there soon.  They stare up into the beautiful eyes of their L.O., they smile through the pain, they say it was nothing, that the L.O. deserves to live because the world will be better by having the L.O. in it.  And then they die, held in the arms of the one they love who literally loved them until death did they part.

The daydream does not *need* to have death at the end of it to be a limerence daydream, but it's common. Sometimes, the daydream ends with the saving, but instead of the hero winning the victim, the hero graciously, magnanimously accepts no reward and walks off into the sunset, leaving the L.O. staring wistfully after them.

And this is the connection I just made. This is basically every MRA, incel fantasy (incel = "involuntary celibate"). The reason they are the way that they are is because they have a toxic dose of misogyny mixed with limerence. The whole incel subculture exists for misogynists who are also limerent-prone.

This makes everything make more sense now.

This realization comes because of a story I just read about some dorky dude who saves his L.O. from a would-be mugger while her jock boyfriend freezes, and he saves them all by pulling out a "judo katana" (I shit you not) in the face of a gun and calmly lectures the mugger into fright.  Then his L.O. kisses him in thanks, but he doesn't even smile, he's just "doing his duty".

When I read this story, my first thought was horror at limerence, as it is every time I cross paths with it.  I've always found this obsessive state to be a terrible thing.  But the comments kept mocking this story for the MRA drivel that it is, which I initially overlooked.  So, I was hit by a connection. This entire subculture is completely fueled by limerence and tainted by misogyny, like a particularly potent and noxious gasoline additive. That combination leads to exactly this group of people.

I don't know what to do with this connection that I always kinda knew but never really had it out in front of me before.  But as someone who thinks of limerence as almost a mental disorder, like any other obsessive disorder (disclaimer: I have at least 2 of them myself), I feel that this connection Means Something.

In the book, Love and Limerence by Dorothy Tennov, the author goes on to explain that there are people who are prone to limerence and people who are not prone to limerence (although people not "prone" to it can still have experienced it, just not regularly). And the people who are not prone to it have a very difficult time understanding exactly what it is, but when they do seem to understand it, they all think it sounds like the worst mental state ever to be in. It doesn't sound pleasant at all, it sounds like torture. If they do have a brush with it, they all universally hate the experience and take steps to avoid it in the future.

People who are prone to limerence can range from people who think it's awful to people who think it's fun, much like those who are prone to NRE. It's an emotional roller coaster, and some people enjoy roller coasters while some people don't.

But people who are not prone to limerence have more trouble understanding it. When you read the book, if you think "OMG that's totally me!", then you are probably prone to limerence.  If you read it and say "well, I experience some of these things too, have I ever had limerence?" but then get to the chapter describing what not-limerence is and then give a sigh of relief, you're probably not prone to limerence.

I am *not* prone to limerence, in spite of a brief visit to Limerenceville in my hormonal puberty stage for a handful of teen actors.  To me, I think it sounds like the most horrible awful thing a person can go thorough, but I also really dislike NRE, which is much less ... just less.  Toxic maybe? It'll make you make bad decisions, kinda like being drunk, but I don't think it's *inherently* an objectifying, brain-fucking, selfish mental state to be in, which I think of limerence as.

And to suddenly realize that this is what incels are going through, and the fact that nobody outside of a few narrow "relationship and the brain" communities know about it, means that we have no structures in place for building up defenses for it or treating it once limerence has taken root.  We even have rom-coms ('80s movies are lousy with limerence!) celebrating and rewarding it!  Throw in systemic support for misogyny and boom!  A culture ready-made to create MRA incels.
joreth: (anger)
"These people cut off contact with their own adult-child because they disapproved of them. They DIED never reconciling! Would you really ask someone to make their own parents give them up?!"

Well, since the parents CHOSE to die never having reconciled with their adult-child, then I'd say they deserved what they got.  The parents are not the ones deserving of sympathy in this story, and their feelings are not the ones I'm interested in protecting.

The adult-child, on the other hand, did not deserve to have such shitty parents, but it's also not their fault that the parents disowned them (also, can I point out the inherent issue with the phrase "disowned" involving familial relationships?  Parents are not the "owners" of children, they have their own autonomy, especially once they reach the age of majority and become legally autonomous).

There is no asking of a person to *make their parents* be shitty parents.  The parents are already shitty parents.  That the adult-child does something to trigger a really shitty response doesn't change the fact that the parents were shitty to begin with.  The adult-child's behaviour is the *trigger*, not the cause of the shittiness.

So this is a faulty question to begin with.  Nobody can ask or tell anyone else to *make* their parents do something that their parents are going to do.

For example, my grandfather refused to come to my parents' wedding because my mother is Mexican.  He was racist.  My mother could have asked my father not to marry her, to avoid pushing his father into boycotting the wedding.  Or my mother could have insisted that he marry her anyway, knowing that this would result in a rift between my father and his father.

But in reality, my parents loved each other and my grandfather was a shitty, racist parent.  If they had not gotten married, my grandfather would still have been a shitty, racist parent.  My parents getting married or not getting married didn't change that.  My mom wanting to marry my dad in spite of my grandfather not being there for him didn't MAKE my grandfather not be there for him. My grandfather did that all by himself. Because he was a shitty, racist parent.

And while no child deserves shitty parents, anyone who chooses to cut off contact with a relative deserves to not have that relative in their life anymore.

Sometimes that's a good thing - someone cutting off contact with an abusive relative deserves to have a life free of their abuse.  Sometimes it's a bad thing, but cutting off contact with a decent human being because you feel entitled to how they live their lives means that you fucking deserve to not have them in your life anymore.

So, yeah, if a parent is willing to cut off contact with an adult-child in the first place, particularly for something like the adult-child having the audacity of being their own person, then I am absolutely in favor of whatever anguish they feel at not having their adult-children in their lives anymore because they choose to do it.

There's a really simple way to avoid the pain of losing an adult-child in this particular way - don't be a shitty parent and cut off contact with your adult-children for being their own person or loving people you don't love.  That's not the fault of the adult-child, that's entirely the fault of the shitty parent.
joreth: (being wise)
So, this is interesting. I'm putting together a playlist of love songs that don't suck. Basically, I just want songs that are merely absent of exclusivity in their lyrics and absent of promises of forever. And I'm grading those criteria gently. I recognize that, while I have found tons of songs that *technically* qualify as poly-ISH, in that they're explicitly about multiple partners in one way or another, most of those songs actually suck. They are either poorly produced, or they're joke or satire, or they're just badly written.

So if I want to get all schmoopy with music, I'll settle for songs that I can apply to any individual partner because they don't actively prohibit the presence of others outright or they don't violate autonomy by making promises that can't be kept and so reasonably shouldn't be made. In other words, if I can't have good quality "I love you and you and you" or "I love you, but not to the exclusion of the others I also love" in songs, then I'll take "I love you but without 'forever' and 'only you'".

So, now to my point.

I had the song I'll Be by Edwin McCain in my library. But as I added it to my YouTube playlist, I thought "why don't I just double check the lyrics, in case I'm missing some context that plain text might help me see?"

When I looked up the lyrics, I started to get a little wibbly about its inclusion in the list, what with it's line about "love suicide" and its future tense implying a promise. So I looked up the meaning of the song, and I learned that it was never intended as a love song, but of a guy processing his feelings during a breakup.

And, ironically, his explanation actually made me feel better about including it as a love song that doesn't suck.
"It was the end of a relationship for me, and it was also an admission of my inability to function in a relationship, hence the love suicide line. And it was the hope that I would be better, grow and be better as a person. I was struggling with some personal problems at the time, as well, so it was all of those things. It was this admission of failure and this prayer that I could be a better person, wrapped up as sort of the end of a relationship kind of thought. "
To me, an admission of one's faults that contributed to the demise of a relationship and the motivation to become a better person through one's experience in a relationship IS a song about love. Maybe the relationship ended, but he is taking responsibility for his own part in the demise, he is using the experience to be a better version of himself and to grow, and he is not holding onto bitterness when he says he'll continue to be a fan of her and her work. Those are very loving acts.

I wish all breakups were as positive as that, even though this particular breakup was traumatic for him. Some breakups are relatively painless (but likely a little bit uncomfortable), and some are just fucking torture. But if this is how we come away from them, regardless of how much they hurt to go through, I will have considered that a successful ending (or "transition").
joreth: (polyamory)
Holidays in polyamory, even the "romantic" ones are much the same as any other holiday, only maybe with more schedules to consult (honestly, with 2 kids, godparents, and extended relatives, it's not any more schedules to consult than my monogamous childhood).
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they don't have any partners at the moment, like single people.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because their partners are long distance, like many monogamous people such as couples with one or both in active duty military service overseas.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they didn't win the priority to get that exact day to celebrate, like a lot of partnered people whose partners work in emergency services and have to work that day.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day alone because they don't celebrate, like some monogamous people who are conscientious objectors.
     
  • Many polys spend V-Day with partners but not doing anything different than any other day because they don't celebrate, like some monogamous people who are conscientious objectors.
     
  • Many polys celebrate V-Day on alternate days, like many monogamous people who are busy on the exact day like when it falls in the middle of the week, and polys might choose to celebrate on alternate days for the same busyness reasons or because they have multiple partners so they have multiple celebrations.
     
  • Many polys celebrate V-Day with as many of their partners and metamours as they can get at the same time, just like many monogamous people who celebrate a romantic holiday with their partners and their friends, or make it a family holiday with the kids, or with their entire extended families.
It's really no different than being monogamous (meaning that there are all kinds of ways to celebrate holidays even among monogamous people), and it doesn't *have* to be a big, stressful thing - at least, it doesn't have to be a *different* stressful thing. Some of y'all want to make this holiday really important and then stress out about it, no matter how many partners y'all have.

It's really very simple. Ask your partners how they feel about the holiday. Then find the compromise that makes everyone feel cared for without putting anyone out too much. If this is a big deal to one or more partners, then make it a big deal. If it's not, then don't. Express your own preferences too.

Go out together as a group. Have your own coupley dates all on different days. Give gifts. Don't give gifts. Deliberately avoid the materialistic, couple-centric commercialism by NOT celebrating your romantic relationships, but by celebrating your *metamour* relationships instead. 

It's really not any different from monogamous people, except for a small percentage of us who might have group sex. That's probably different from monogamy. Depending on your definition of "monogamy".  But other than that, most of us celebrate like monogamous people do. If you're new to poly and stressing out about how to celebrate: relax. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than the holiday normally is.

But a word of caution - if you're new to this and you're starting out by "opening up", make a point to ask your newer partners what their feelings are on the subject, and try to prioritize *their* feelings, because they get the short end of the stick in most other things.

And if there's really a conflict between your partners, then opt for either the group date or the alternate dates where *nobody* gets The Day for themselves. Part of learning to be ethically poly is learning that we all have to give up some of our privileges and expectations in order for everyone to feel safe enough to want to concede theirs in return. You learn to trust by giving trust. You get their cooperation by being cooperative at them.

For those who do celebrate some version of Valentine's Day, consider sending your *metamours* V-Day cards or gifts, taking your metamours out for dinner instead of (or in addition to) your partners, and if you're into the whole gift thing, consider mother-jewelry to symbolize polyamory with birthstones to represent everyone in the polycule instead of the typical exclusive-heart type jewelry.

I mean, it can be emotionally challenging to figure out how to celebrate romantic holidays when one has multiple partners - who is going to be left out by not getting the fancy dinner on that exact day? So subvert that by sending the partners off and take your metamours out instead. Or go out with everyone all at once, and have the one-on-one dates *all* on some other day so that nobody gets The Day but everyone together does.

Send a card to your metamour telling them how much they mean to you. Buy your partners and metamours jewelry that has room for more-than-one like mom- or dad-jewelry with birthstones. Turn a mono-centric, commercial holiday into a celebration of non-mono relationships with very little extra effort - just take your metamours into consideration and prioritize them instead of your romantic connections for this one day.

And what about metafores? Those former metamours who are basically still family even though you no longer have a mutual partner? Those people who, in some cases, are "the best thing I got out of my relationship with our partner was you"? Why not spend this day appreciating their place in your life, a place they might not occupy had it not been for a partner who is no longer in the picture? Send them a "glad you're in my life" card or FB post too!

Me, personally, instead of Valentine's day, I'll be celebrating Villaintine's Day by wishing my metamours and metametamours a happy Villaintine's Day and possibly scheming with my Villaintines, as good Villaintines do.

#MadEngineer #Chaosbunny #KillerOfDreams #TheOutsideContractor #HarbringerDestine #VillaintinesDay #SinglesAwarenessDay #NeverTooEarlyToStartPlanningWorldDomination #IMeanGangingUpOnMutualPartners #IMeanExpressingLoveAndGratitudeForMyPolycule #PolyHolidays
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  That fucking show! This is Florida, it's not that dramatic.

Monkey Brain:  You must bulk up for the winter. You need calories.

Me:  Shut up, I do not. It's frickin' 86 degrees outside and anyway, I have heat at the house.

Monkey Brain:  Winter is coming.

Me:  Stop saying that!

Monkey Brain:  Eat all the things.

Me:  I DO NOT NEED INSULATION FOR WINTER!

Monkey Brain:  Chocolate. Pastries. Cheese. Sugar. Carbs. Winter is coming.

Me:  I hate you.

#EatingSeason #BrainChemistrySucks
joreth: (cool)
Just finished The Punisher [on November 27th]. I really liked it. Maybe not Luke Cage caliber but better than Daredevil and I really liked Daredevil. I think I'd put it in the same category, for me, as Jessica Jones. Both characters are just so fucking broken.

I thought that Luke Cage was possibly a better quality of script and story, but I liked the tragic damage of Jessica Jones better. Punisher had that same tragic damage. Where Jessica Jones explored the woman's experience of abuse and PTSD through domestic violence, and *finally* showed us a dimensional female character who is messy and complex, Punisher showed us a man's experience of toxic masculinity and addressing violent trauma from within a violent worldview.

"How do you live in the silence between gunshots?"

So basically any Netflix Marvel story that doesn't involve Danny Rand is worth watching.

Huh, here's an interesting thought: in a surprising turn of events, the woman, black man, blind man, and working class man all have depth and nuance while the rich white guy is flat, sullen, whiny, foolish, boorish, and manages to make even the group dynamic all about him.

So, like real life then.
joreth: (strong)
www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-its-like-to-win-the-lottery-as-a-woman/2017/11/24/c90f67ea-cd69-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html

When I was in junior high and high school, my teachers and administration were all very good about telling us what domestic violence looked like. I vowed at an early age that if anyone ever so much as raised a hand to me, whether he followed through or not, whether he expressed remorse afterwards or not, there would be no second chances. I was vocal about this vow. I told everyone how I felt about anger and violence. I didn't even allow anyone to touch me in any manner if they were angry. And I have never been in a physically violent relationship.

But what my schools were not good about was explaining the more subtle forms of violence - emotional and sexual abuse. Sure, we knew that "no means no", but nobody ever mentioned what it meant to have him keep you up all night, every night, begging for sex, so that you suffered chronic sleep deprivation over a series of weeks, and what that sleep deprivation does to you emotionally and physically, so that eventually you say yes just to get a full 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Nobody explained when yes means no.

So by the time I reached my mid 30s, I believed I had only been in one abusive relationship, and that it didn't "stick" because I got myself out relatively quickly and easily. And even that relationship I didn't recognize as abusive until years afterwards. I just thought he was a dick.

The thing with emotional abuse is that it tears down your sense of self, of who you are, right to your core, so that you end up hollow and empty, not a real person anymore. And that's something that, for some reason, I have never had taken away from me. So, in a sense, I was correct that abuse aimed at me doesn't "stick". In that sense, I am a lottery winner.

But the author of this piece talks of being stalked, but never touched. That's what makes her a lottery winner. I, however, was "touched", many times by many abusers. I just didn't recognize it, so I could turn my back and walk away.

I dated someone whose victim tried to tell me in that incomprehensible way that victims call out for help but that nobody can understand. He didn't touch me, so I didn't see it. Until he did try to touch me. And even then, I still averted my eyes. I tried to reassure him, certain that his unreasonable behaviour was merely insecurity that, if I could just reassure him enough, he'd learn to move past.

But he didn't want reassurance, he wanted control. So when I reassured but didn't bend to his control (it didn't stick), *he* dumped *me*, to the shock of everyone closest to us. To everyone who was close enough to know, I was his healthiest and most stable relationship at that time. Literally every other relationship in his life was falling apart at the seams. Nobody anticipated our break, or that he would be the one to initiate.

I won the lottery. I saw what happened to those for whom his abuse did "stick".

Abusive tactics are taught as a matter of course in this culture. They are celebrated in pop culture, they are modeled in our parents, they are accepted by all as The Way Things Should Be. Everyone has picked up some of these tactics somewhere along the line and everyone has used them or excused them in their own behaviour and on behalf of others.

But the vast majority of that time, they are not in "abusive relationships". They are not performed as a foundational part of an overarching goal to dominate and control another. They are often used as ... time savers. Someone wants a certain outcome, manipulating the flow of information just a little is easier. A child won't eat her brussel sprouts, says she doesn't like them. Mom gaslight her "yes you do" because it's just too much effort to have a reasonable conversation with a finicky 3 year old and because her mom told her the same thing so it obviously can't be all that bad of a tactic.

In my relationships, however, it has taken me until nearly middle age to recognize that a harried mom trying to get her kid to eat healthy is not the same kind of disempowering, entitled sense of possession the gaslighting, coercion, manipulation, and controlling that most of my exes have done to me - that what my exes did to me isn't as dismissable as what that exhausted mom does to her child even though it's the same *tactic*. I just didn't recognize what my exes did to me as abuse at the time because nobody told me what it looked like and it didn't "stick".

I won the lottery. I've bedded down with wolves and didn't get eaten, although I got nicked a bit here and there. I won the lottery. So far.
joreth: (polyamory)
I have, on occasion, offered to host "guest posts" for people I know who wanted to write something they felt was important but didn't feel like their own platform was the appropriate place for it, for whatever reason. I'm not really known as a blogger with a large audience, but I figure with my history of topics I can probably afford to host certain posts when others can't or would rather not.

So, today I'm providing a platform for Leni Hester on Facebook, who wrote the following post in a group that I and others felt would make an excellent public resource and reference article. They asked for name attribution only, no link-backs. Linked references and commentary at the bottom added by me.



A PSA for Unicorn Hunters! For those of us who enjoy playing with couples, here are some things I wish you would keep in mind:
  1. I'm HUMAN. Unicorn hunting sounds really icky and violent.

  2. The risk is ALL mine. If anything goes wrong between us, I mean ANYTHING--she gets insecure, he loses his 'momentum', indigestion, I tell a joke you don't find funny, you name it--I'm the one who pays. It'll be "okay, party's over, please get dressed and get out" and no matter how I feel, i get to drive home in tears while you two do self-care and cuddle.

  3. Couple Privilege. Yes I know your relationship is the center of your lives. It is not the center of MINE. If protecting the "sanctity" of your relationship supersedes my physical health, my safety, my feelings, and my time--it's obvious y'all don't want a lover. Y'all want a sextoy. Please check out Babes in Toyland for an inanimate object, and leave the actual human beings alone.

  4. One Penis Policy. Hahahahahahaha! You're hilarious, bro.

  5. Babysitting and House chores. No, I will not watch Chad Jr. and Becky Marie while you have date night. I know for a fact, you will NOT pay me for that time. You want me to help clean up before we have a date? Sure! Then I expect YOU BOTH to come over and help me paint or help me move. Not holding my breath.

  6. Ghosting. Eventually you two will meet someone cuter, hotter or less intimidating to the wife, at which point I will be expected to have the good manners to just disappear. My hurt feelings will be proof that I'm crazy, my anger will be proof I'm a bitch, and the fact that I had sex with you will be used against me.

  7. Offended by this? If y'all can't behave courteously, that's not on me. Maybe look into why these simple boundaries feel unreasonable, and be honest: do you really want to be poly? If you want the sex but hate having to care for another person, maybe poly is not for you. Figure this out before you pull another person into your drama.


And this shouldn't need to be said, but it does:  This is not the place for #NotAllUnicornHunters.  We already know that there are people out there who happen to already be partnered and who happen to like threesomes and triads but who aren't doing these kinds of things.  Congratulations, you don't suck.  But instead of centering yourselves yet again by reminding everyone here that you're Not One Of THOSE Couples, you could instead talk to *other couples* and tell them not to be like this. 

People who are technically part of a privileged group but who consciously and conscientiously object to a stratified privileged society don't tend to feel offended or insulted or even guilty when people who are part of a disenfranchised group talk about the problems between the groups.  They already know that they're not the targets or the objects of the criticism, so they don't take it personally and they can really hear the criticism without feeling attacked.  And they can feel secure in turning to others in their group to say "see this?  This is a problem that our group contributes to.  As a member of this group, I think we can do better."

So if you're not one of Those Couples, then be one of these other kinds of couples instead.  *We* are not the ones who need to know, in this space, that you are an exception to the rule.  It's your brethren who need to know that you are not one of Those Couples and you disapprove of those who are, that you will not defend them or hide them, that you will stand up to them and help us make our communities less welcoming to their toxicity.

We don't need to hear yet again that #NotAllCouples.  We need to see it by your actions, which includes not centering yourselves in our discussions, but signal-boosting and supporting us in the spaces where we aren't normally heard.
joreth: (polyamory)
https://medium.com/@PolyamoryINC/the-most-skipped-step-when-opening-a-relationship-f1f67abbbd49
"What you didn’t realize when you were living in the cocoon of a monogamous relationship is how much of a monogamous relationship is a favorable breeding ground for codependence. ...

Disentanglement will help 90% of that go away. And it’s rather simple. And you can do it all before you ever go on a single date.

Step 1 - Pick a night, any night, and leave. ...

Step 2 - Make the night random. ...

Step 3 - Get comfortable having to ask each other for date nights. ...

Step 4 - Now, and only now, ease into dating other people."

This. Thisthisthisthisthis.

All of this.

There is only one thing I would amend this with:

This article is about not subsuming your identity into your relationships (usually into your couple) and how avoid doing that. It calls this a single step - disentanglement - but then goes on to give 4 steps on how to disentangle yourselves from a codependent (read: monogamous) relationship. It even insists that people who intend to remain monogamous learn how to disentangle themselves for their own relationship health, which I totally agree.

In the last step, you finally get to the part where you "open up" your relationship and start dating people. I totally agree that you should do all this other work first, so the dating part will be a long, slow process because you have to do this other stuff first.

This article *does* point out that people have trouble keeping to plans and to learn to forgive yourself for not following the timeline exactly. So what I'd like to amend is really very nitpicky and only because I've seen people who don't engage in polyamory in good faith abuse this otherwise well-intentioned advice.  But I think it's *really* important, important enough to mention.

The article insists that you start out dating slow - only once a month, and then not until a few months in do you start kissing, and another month in for making out, etc. What I don't want to see happen is for couples to make "agreements" that they won't have a date night with a new partner more than once a month for 4 months, and then they won't kiss their new partner until month 5, and they won't start making out with their new partner until month 6, etc.

This guideline is supposed to teach you how to *disentangle* yourself from your partner. If you start making *agreements* with each other that dictate what you can and can't do with people who are not present there to negotiate the agreement, and when you can and can't do them, that's the exact opposite of learning how to disentangle yourself.

Yes, please learn how to be an independent individual while partnered before you stick your toes in the poly pool. PLEASE do this first! But don't then undo all that work by sitting down with your spouse and making "agreements" with each other about how quickly or slowly your forays into dating will go.

The point of the slow speed in the article is to make sure that you really learn to disentangle yourselves first, to give yourselves time to become full people again, and not these weird amalgamated conjoined spouses. The point of the slow speed is not to then yank yourselves back together with agreements that dictate other people's behaviour, particularly if it feels contrary to the wants and desires of those people who are behaving and who aren't the one enforcing the agreement.

Yes, we absolutely want you to take things slow - as slow as you need to! Just don't shoot yourselves in the foot by doing exactly the opposite of the whole point of this advice, which is to become independent people. Don't follow up all that hard work learning how to be whole and complete with some kind of "rule" or "agreement" to connect you back together again.

The article even says that this monthly timeline thing is a *guideline*. If you don't happen to have anyone of interest when you're ready for this step, then make it a *personal* goal to try dating once a month because that's a pretty reasonable goal to start with. But then once you meet someone and you're ready to start dating them, make sure you talk to them directly about your concerns and your process and decide *with them* how frequently the two of you will share this experience together.

Because let me tell you, as the new partner feeling New Relationship Excitement, seeing you, their new love interest, only once a month *fucking sucks*.  It's going to feel like torture not seeing you for a whole month, doubly so if the reason is because "I made a promise to my spouse and they won't let me go out with you more often" (which adds resentment on top of the yearning), so get their input on how often they want to see you and how often you are both available to see each other before making any decisions about frequency.

Then you can let your existing partner know what you've *decided* with your new partner and work with your existing partner on reassuring them or compensating for your time apart, or whatever it is that needs to happen so that the decision *you've made with the new partner's input* can be acted on with consideration.

Remember, the whole point is to become independent people engaged in an interdependent relationship. Don't undo all your hard work with old, codependent habits.

joreth: (polyamory)
Not too long ago, Professor Sex contacted me and asked if I had some extra energy reserves to address a question she had. She asked, if I was on a poly/CNM social networking site (not a dating site but there are no moderators/rules about dating etc.) and I see the following post: "Hey folks, we are a secured married couple in seek of a third to complete our triad. Any women in our state?" --- if I were to assume that they were well meaning and just needed to be educated, how would I reply to that?

So I wrote out a long response. And a whole ton of it got used in an article addressing Unicorn Hunters! I think it's a great article (not just because it uses so much of my own material) and I'm so pleased to have something like this I can bookmark and link to in all the forums whenever this subject comes up. I like it because the tone is so much nicer than I usually end up being because I'm out of patience, and yet it doesn't mince any words or pussyfoot around the subject, or even make allowances. That's a really hard line to toe.

I even got to throw some love out to my dear metamour, Maxine, when the link to her blog post about poly unicorn math was included. Remember, I have now added tags for all my blog articles on Unicorn Hunting, Hierarchy, Couple Privilege, Triads, and Solo Poly, which are all related to the subject of this article. Most of the posts under those tags are decidedly not so polite in tone.  But if you're looking for more of my opinions on the subject, they can be found here.

I was also asked a second question, which may or may not find its way into another article someday.

In your opinion, is there an ethical way to "unicorn hunt"?

No. The term was specifically coined to describe an unethical practice. By definition, it is unethical. The words themselves mean "mythological, non-human creature" and "predatory". It is a label for behaviour that is dehumanizing, objectifying, and predatory. I write more about how and why it's unethical on my blog.

There is, however, an ethical way to form a triad that happens to have two bisexual women and one straight man - and that's by simply being one of those people and managing to run into the other two people and having the relationship form naturally out of the compatibility between those people. Don't try for one. Be open about who you are and what you have to offer a relationship, and be open to meeting all kinds of people and considering all kinds of relationships. An FMF triad may form out of the people you meet that way, and if it happens organically, without any prescripting of roles or having anybody in the relationship tell another person in the relationship what they can and can't do with their own bodies, minds, or emotions, then it might be an ethical FMF triad.

Don't try to find people for the spaces in your life, find spaces for the people in your life.
joreth: (polyamory)
I want to respond to everyone who ever utters the phrase "open our relationship" with the following:
Stop saying that phrase. Every time you want to say that, replace it with "deconstruct our relationship and reconstruct it as a new, open relationship". And then start *seeing* your relationship as a brand new relationship that is open, not an existing relationship that is identical in every way to the old one except now you can talk to or fuck other people.

Because you are not "opening up". You have to rebuild your relationship from the ground up, with new paradigms and new assumptions and new expectations.  Your new partners are not entering an existing relationship, even if they date both of you. They are constructing WITH YOU a whole new set of structures.

You are not adding on a rumpus room to an existing house that doesn't change anything about the rest of the house and where you can conveniently close the door when you want to pretend that it doesn't exist.

You are building a whole new building complex with multiple structures that interact with each other and share infrastructure while maintaining separate other elements that all add up to one beautiful complex of dwellings that each inhabitant ought to have, not just a say in designing, but the *final* say in designing the part in which they inhabit over anyone who lives in other parts.

So stop saying you want to "open up your relationship". You're not "opening up". You need to "deconstruct" your relationship, and rebuild something totally new that might have some similar elements, like all houses have plumbing, or whatever, but it's still a new relationship with new assumptions and expectations and totally different property lines.

Don't say you are "opening up", say you are "deconstructing" your relationship and constructing new ones.
I think if we all start using this language instead, it will really hammer the point home and make everyone think about what they're doing in a different way, which will hopefully lead to more intentional, more compassionate, and less fearful relationship practices.

You can't "protect" your "existing relationship" if that relationship is already gone because you're deconstructing it to build something totally new. Raze it to the ground, like any construction project requires you to remove what's there before you start building something new.

And, like any good construction project, you start with the foundation that will properly support the rest of the structures. Don't build something on top of a foundation that wasn't intended for this type of building in the first place.

(For more on this subject, click on the tags below, especially for unicorn hunting and couple privilege)

joreth: (feminism)
Women aren't "more complicated". Women actually have very simple needs - safety, love, companionship; mostly safety. But the world we live in is complicated.  We have to do a lot of mental calculus to try and stay safe. Sometimes, it takes Rube Goldbergian levels of precautions to maintain our safety.  So, when you think that "women are complicated", what you're actually seeing is "men make women do complicated things to protect themselves".

And that's why you can't "figure women out" - there isn't a single formula to "what women want" because 1) women are not all the same person, and 2) if we were that easy to "figure out", then we'd lose our safety net.  If those men who are dangerous figured out how we were protecting ourselves from them, we'd lose our protection. So we are invested in maintaining the illusion that everything is OK, that we like you, and that you're wonderful.

But since that's clearly a lie, you may occasionally see the cracks in our stories. We're not "complicated", keeping men placated is a complicated job. Sometimes we're not always seamless about it.

If you want women to not be "complicated" with you, then YOU have to put in the effort to prove that you're trustworthy enough for the women in your life to put away the survival tactics. That will take time and patience on your part.  And even then, some women may never put away the tactics. And they don't have to. They don't owe you their trust. Feeling entitled to that trust because you're "one of the good guys" pretty much makes you one of those guys they need the safety tactics for in the first place.

That's how complicated you guys make it.



This rant follows up my previous rant on Women As Feral Cats and inspired by the following collection of tweets:
"Seeing some folks I follow circulating a point that's worth drawing a bit of attention to. One of the oldest canards in low-denominator comedy is that women are inscrutable and men can't understand them. There's a reason for this and it ain't funny.

By the time a man reaches adulthood he has probably heard that women constantly say one thing and mean another, and that they are impossible to understand at least a thousand times. To some extent he probably believes this to be true.

And to a degree it is. Women VERY frequently say one thing and mean another, display expressions or reactions that don't jibe with their feelings, and so on. But it's actually really easy to decode once you understand why it happens. It is survival behavior.

While some men choose to become skilled dissemblers, men are not -required- to learn very much subterfuge at all -- looking calm while you'd like to strangle your boss is the biggie. Women face a completely different situation.

Women spend their lives surrounded by people who are, on average, bigger than they are, socially privileged over them, both more inclined to immediate anger (testosterone is a hell of a thing) AND more socially encouraged to express it, and best of all? Cherry on top?

Some of these dudes around them are extremely dangerous, others are not, and most of the time it is impossible to tell the two apart on sight, or even from extended contact. Often the only way to find out is to say or do something that might make a man blow up and see if he does.

This is not a great way of finding out what kind of guy a woman is dealing with for the same reason we don't use pogo sticks to test for buried land mines. It's often th eonly one available, though. So, VERY SENSIBLY, women will generally just opt not to run the test.

What that means is smiling at a man's flirting in a closed or isolated space, or laughing at an uncomfortable joke because the room is full of men and all of them are laughing.

Men are not only -not- required to learn dissembling, they -are- taught to seek affirmation of self-worth from women. They take these reactions at face value because they very much want to. And this can build uncomfortable or dangerous cycles and relationships.

Lemme be real clear on this point: Women do this because the way our society is currently set up, they have absolutely no better option available to them. They quite rightly value their safety over offering legibility to people who might seriously hurt or even kill them.

So while this may be frustrating to guys, it is not on women to behave differently as long as the social baseline for masculine behaviour is a toxic stew of lionized violence and anger. They're gonna smile and laugh as long as a huge % of men present a serious potential threat.

But let's say that you weren't raised by fucking spiders and your reaction to this isn't annoyance but instead serious concern, because you DON'T want to freak women out but now you realize you might have been reading "oh god go away" as "yes chat me up more in this elevator."

A few simple tells that you're doing something that's putting a woman's hackles up, which will follow outward affirmative signals: She leaves the area; she changes the subject; she moves herself or the two of you toward other people, esp. other women; she doesn't flirt/joke back; or, her rejoinder doesn't match what you put out there-- a compliment, for example, eliciting "thanks" or "haha" rather than a return compliment. All of these have a good chance of translating to "you are overstepping my boundaries but I don't feel safe saying so."

There's a good chance that when you spot this, your frist instinct is going to be to say something like "Am I making you uncomfortable?" or "Did I say something wrong?" That's what a good dude would ask, right? Welllll it's not the worst response but it's not a good one, either.

Those questions have a very good chance of getting back a response calculated to calm you down rather than an honest answer, because you have STILL offered no real indication you won't blow up when rebuffed. You see, those are also questions an irritated dude would ask.

It puts the woman on the spot and makes her pull off an immediate calculation-- is this guy actually concerned or is he feeling offended because he realized that wasn't a real laugh? Am I in more danger now, or less?

If you are in doubt it's usually best to back off, provide some breathing room, and then once the situation has a low threat index (non-confined space, potentially supportive people nearby), boot up honesty.exe:

"Hey, if the jokes about clown dicks are over the line, please let me know and I'll cut that out." Not just interrogation about her real feelings, but proactive information about the reaction that an honest response will provoke from you.

That's not some kind of cheat-code to human interaction, mind. People are complicated as fuck and women don't come off an assembly line at a factory.

But it's generally a better base-line set of guidelines for social navigation than either taking everything at face value or assuming the female mind was forged from the same inscrutable mystic bullshit as Harry Potter's wand.

Oh and this should go without saying but if you put forward the promise that you're not going to blow up, for the love of fuck, STICK TO IT. Offering a guy candor is an act of trust, be worthy of it.

tl;dr: Women have simple needs (safety) and live in a more dangerous world than men, which requires more precautions to maintain safety than most dudes have to worry about. Mocking them or getting mad at them for exercising basic safety precautions is an asshole move.

Understand the world you're part of, practice empathy for people who got dealt a different hand in the game of life than you did, and don't be an asshole, the world has too many of those already. It's not that hard once you know what you're doing. The End."
~ Holden Shearer
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
For me, the difficulty I have with holidays is not about having to spend time with family (either of origin or of choice). Even though I am MUCH more radical on just about every single topic than almost all of them (with the exception of my immediate polycule, the Tangle, who I *don't* get to spend holidays with anyway because of distance), I still like spending holiday time with family.

The difficulty I have is when the holiday gatherings include people my family is close to. So, like, if I host something, it's all people I get along with. But if I go to their house, usually the only people I connect with are the ones I bring with me and the hosts. Because I am the more radical one, my friends are less radical. And then they have friends who are less radical, or otherwise different from them, and those friends have spouses who are similarly more conservative than the friends-of-friends, and so on and so forth.

So, for me, the difficulty of holidays is the anxiety of attending a gathering which will have a high but unknown probability of running into someone who has a perspective that I strongly, personally, disagree with, and I'll have to do mental calculus about how to respond.  Even choosing to do nothing takes a mental toll on me, so just being in that space with that person is exhausting and trying.

These days, I'm becoming more and more anxious and undesiring of attending social functions simply because I don't want to deal with "friends of friends" who are, say, Trump supporters, or who casually joke about rape, or who throw in the random mildly racist statement (even if it's "benevolent" racism), or who feel the need to remark "well, to each his own, but *I* couldn't do it!" when they first figure out that I'm poly, etc.

Like, even when I choose to let it all slide so that I never once get into an argument, I still don't want to deal with it. A part of me wants to say "I like you well enough, but your friends suck and I can't pretend to be nice to them anymore, even though they're being perfectly polite to me."

But if I did that every time I got an invitation to something, I'd literally never leave my house or socialize again. Because there's ALWAYS someone around who says or thinks something awful, and even though socializing takes energy because I'm an introvert, I'm still human, which is a social species, so I still need some social contact.

But today I'm feeling it. I had absolutely no bad or awkward encounters on Thanksgiving. Nobody said anything within my earshot to make me uncomfortable. But I was on edge the whole time waiting for it.

And I'm thinking about all the other upcoming holiday parties - parties that I actively want to attend - and thinking about all the different times that I'm going to be feeling this anxiety about dealing with people I don't like when I'm there to have a good time.

And today, I just don't wanna.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I am so sick of people excusing -isms because "that's just how things were back then." My grandfather was a decent employer to his Mexican fieldhands who worked in his orchards. He was still fucking racist. He didn't attend my parents' wedding - his own son! - because my mother is Mexican.

Women weren't allowed to be sexual, so they had to "allow" a man to "entice" them into sexual situations, so it wouldn't be "her fault". That's still fucking sexist and rapey, even if "everyone did it that way". The very definition of Rape Culture is that coercion, manipulation, assault, and rape are so normalized in society that it's "just how things are".

Benevolent -isms go hand-in-hand with malicious -isms. The "nice" version can't exist without the "bad" version. And, in fact, when someone upholds the "nice" version, they are more likely to "punish" someone for failing to live up to the high standards and fit in the narrow box of the "nice" version.

So, like, women are "nurturing", which is heralded as a virtue, right? Until a woman *isn't* "nurturing", and then she's punished for it and forced back into that role.

So, sure, the people "back then" didn't see anything racist or sexist or whatever-ist about what they were doing. IT WAS STILL FUCKING RACIST OR SEXIST OR WHATEVER-IST.

Maybe they can't be "blamed" for "not knowing any better", but I can still fucking hate examples of them reveling in their ignorance because their behaviour violates my own value system and what they "didn't know any better" about "back then" is WHY I'M FIGHTING WITH RACIST SEXIST WHATEVER-IST ASSHOLES STILL TODAY.

That behaviour "back then" directly led to everything I'm fighting against now, and the struggle to maintain control over my own agency every single fucking day. Because "back then" is the precedent that we still haven't crawled out of.

Today, we supposedly "know better", but the whole fucking reason we're in the political mess we're in is because enough people wanted to go back to the "good ol' days" when all that shit was "just how things are" and nobody seemed to mind because they didn't have the power to speak up if they did.

So no, I'm not going to forgive my predecessors just because they "didn't know any better back then", because they're the reason why things are still fucked up today.
joreth: (feminism)
B movie idea: Bad action flick of a wildly implausible conspiracy story with kung fu Hilary Clinton a la Sigourney Weaver in Defenders.

How much better would Defenders have been as satire mocking "Hilary kills all her rivals" conspiracists? White, privileged, whiney Rand makes more sense in this context - poor little rich kid mad at the white lady taking over the world and making teh menz feel bad about themselves.

I'm thinking an Inglorious Basterds absurdist romp where Hilary is just over the top karate awesome and evil, personally assassinating her rivals and co-conspirators alike to build her empire and keep her secrets. Alexandra Clinton running around spin-kicking Berniebros and Donny Jr. getting his ass handed to him by the evil Progressive Alliance while he stares torturedly into the distance at how much his rich life sucks?

And, seriously, cast Sigourney Weaver. She did Galaxy Quest, she can do action and satire simultaneously.
joreth: (anger)
Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on “Stranger Things”, says that he couldn't get any acting jobs for 2 years because of his condition. He says that "they couldn’t write in a disability into the show because they had already written the script.”

Hey, writers! You don't actually have to write in a disability into a show. People with disabilities have lives. They have adventures. They have friends and families and enemies. They do things and they know things.

If Stranger Things had never added that one tiny scene where one of the friends teases Dustin about his lisp, and Dustin says "I told you a million times, my teeth are coming in, it's called cleidocranial dysplasia", the show would have been EXACTLY THE SAME.

You don't have to give people with disabilities a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give women a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give people of color a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give trans people a "reason" for existing in the story. You don't have to give not-straight people a reason for existing in the story.

A story happens, people are part of it, and lots of times, those people happen to be people with disabilities, or women, or POC, or trans, or gay, or bi, or anything other than white straight cismen.  Just write the fucking story, and then cast someone who can deliver the lines convincingly in it. Or, if it's a text-based medium, just write the fucking story and then change around some of the pronouns or descriptors just because.

Like, the terrible Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds could have been the exact same fucking movie if you had cast a woman in the role, or a person of color, or someone with a hearing challenge. Especially since the character didn't survive by some amazing abilities that he magically had exactly the right ones at the right time (like most of Tom Cruise's movies), but he survived pretty much on pure, blind luck (which is one of the many reasons I hated the film).

Straight white men don't need any particular "reason" to be in stories. Nobody writes a story and then says "wait a minute, we need a reason why he's straight and white for him to be doing this... I know! Let's write in a series of awkward flashbacks showing his struggle growing up where he likes girls or he doesn't experience racism, and how that leads him on his path to where he is today!"

We don't need to create a romantic subplot to give the women a reason to be in the story. We don't need to set a movie in the "ghetto" to give the character a reason to be black (which is different from setting a movie in the "ghetto" because we want to tell the experience of being in the "ghetto"). We don't need to explain away a character's disability if the story isn't actually about their disability.

Stories don't need to be rewritten to accommodate disabled people, or women, or POC, or anyone else. Only if the story itself is about the experience of being that particular kind of person. But an action film? A drama? A comedy? Just talking about people's lives and adventures? We all have them.

If their disability literally prevents them from doing the thing (like, probably a deaf character couldn't be one of those safe-crackers who listens to the tumblers to open safes), then, OK.  But, like, this one actor with cerebral palsy talked about auditioning for a character *who had cerebral palsy*. She wasn't hired because the director was afraid her disability would prevent her from being able to physically handle the role.

As she pointed out, SHE HAS CEREBRAL PALSY. If SHE can't do those things, then the CHARACTER CAN'T EITHER.

So, just write your fucking stories and then cast people in them who can deliver the lines. You don't need to "write into the script" something to explain away your casting choice unless you are directly contradicting something in the script. "The character existed and had relationships and adventures" is not directly contradicting things like "the character also has a disability" or "the character also has a vagina" or "the character also has brown skin".
joreth: (anger)
I see a lot of people say things like "I wish I had known this lesson before, then I wouldn't have ..." I've said it myself. But I also spend LOTS of time repeating things in poly forums that the community has collectively learned over the decades the hard way.

In my more cynical moments, I don't think most of us would really have changed things had we known because some of this shit WAS known. I see plenty of people being told what will happen, who get *mad* that people are warning them, and go off and do it anyway.

How many times have you had someone ask your advice, not listened to you, the thing you predicted happened, then they complain about it happening? Or they do it again next opportunity?

My ranting on the internet is predicated on the premise that we don't need to burn our own hands in order to learn that fire is hot. Our entire educational system is based on the idea that people learn things the hard way first and then we tell others about it so we can keep moving forward as a society, each new generation standing on the shoulders of those who came before.

But no, let's continue to fuck up our relationships and governments as if we've never seen or done this shit before. And then wail about "if only we'd known ahead of time, we would have done it differently!"

Y'all know. You just don't want to know.
joreth: (Default)
 
This is pretty accurate, I think. I'm on the Relaxed side of the spectrum but not very far, so I have some bits of On Edge anxiety. I'm also on the Engaging edge of the spectrum but just *barely*, so I have a lot of Avoidant traits too:

Relaxed-Engaging (Secure): Relaxed-Engaging individuals tend to have good self-esteem and typically find it easy to share their feelings and opinions with others. They spend less time fretting and second-guessing themselves than individuals in the other three quadrants, [all me] and they generally find it easy to ask others for help or support when in need [I do not find it easy to ask for help].

They are usually straightforward and trusting in their relations with others [I am straightforward, but not always so trusting], and their usual state is one of being open, approachable, and relaxed [I am open but I am not always perceived as "approachable" because some people find me intimidating, apparently]. For this reason, they typically have fewer interpersonal defenses than others [this is patently not me - I have tons of interpersonal defenses].

They naturally seek to connect with others while remaining realistic about the transformative power of intimate relationships: Relaxed-Engaging individuals don't expect to be swept off their feet, or to have their entire world turned upside-down by the arrival of some romantic savior or the like - they're already "comfortable in their own skin," so to speak. Instead, they seek to cultivate simple virtues, such as mutual trust and a sense of shared intimacy with others. They generally don't play games, but seek to establish uncomplicated and mutually beneficial relationships. [This is definitely all me]

Relaxed-Avoidant (Dismissive): Individuals in this quadrant often take a dim view of others, preferring to keep their distance and guard against invasions of their autonomy and privacy [I am cynical and my experience has been that my autonomy will be violated repeatedly because the world experiences me as "woman", so life has made me "avoidant" in this sense].

Relaxed-Avoidant personalities tend to have a strong belief that others are too different from them for truly intimate relations to be worthwhile. They may have a spouse and family, and even be solidly anchored in a stable network of friends and acquaintances, but at the end of the day, they tend to avoid entering into relations where emotional interdependence and intimacy are required [I do not avoid intimacy or emotional interdependence and in fact crave it, I just don't find it very often because people really *are* very different from me, at least in how we each perceive the world. It is because of the fact that I don't avoid these things that I keep finding how different I am from most people].

Unlike individuals who fall in the On Edge-Avoidant quadrant, Dismissive personalities tend to be quite content keeping their deepest feelings and views to themselves, and they often have a deeply-held belief that the opinions of others are mildly irrelevant or even second-rate [Again, I don't keep my feelings and views to myself - I blast them from the rooftops, but I do tend to think that other people's opinions are basically irrelevant]. Consequently, many Dismissive types are often quite good at dissimulating, that is, appearing to share their innermost thoughts, while in reality, they are simply appeasing others without ever letting them come close. [Yep, not me at all. What you see is what you get]

Independent and proud of it [me], these individuals can typically achieve remarkable feats of social manipulation and self-restraint [funny, but every time I've tried to do this, in order to "better" a community, I've failed spectacularly], but on the downside, they may have trouble kicking bad habits (such as drinking or smoking) which they can enjoy in solitude and use to comfort themselves, independently of the company of others [not me at all].

They can frequently be unmotivated or lazy with regard to the duties that others expect of them [depends - if it's expected of me and I didn't agree to it, i.e. gender roles, I'm unmotivated to adhere, but if it's something I agreed to like working out with a friend, I'll stick to it better than if I didn't have their expectation to motivate me], but on the other hand, they are often very original (since they are not hindered by concerns about having to conform to the expectations of the group).

Finally, they also tend to be intelligent risk-takers, since they are at heart relaxed and cool under fire. [yep, me]

The Horizontal Axis: Relaxed-On Edge

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards themselves. Roughly speaking, individuals who fall towards the Relaxed end of this axis appear self-sufficient, confident, and low in anxiety when engaged in social situations. In short, they give off the impression of being at ease with themselves.  [yep, me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the On Edge end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of being more vulnerable or concerned than their Relaxed counterparts. In a nutshell, On Edge individuals feel a sense of unease about themselves whereas Relaxed individuals tend to be more at ease. [this is accurate of my experience being Relaxed]

A complicating factor in the precise administration of this axis is that On Edge personalities have often learned to counteract their root uneasiness, for example by being intensely gregarious and charming, thus causing others to believe that they really are Relaxed (whereas in reality, they are overcompensating because they feel that if they did not, others would not notice them). [Yep, this is not me, so being on the Relaxed side of the axis is accurate]

The Vertical Axis: Engaging-Avoidant

This axis pertains to the individual's root affection towards others. As a general rule, individuals who fall towards the Engaging end of the axis appear approachable, open-hearted, and open to forming relationships with others. In short, they give off the impression that one could easily become friends with them and form a relation where they will keep you in their thoughts. [Depends - some people tell me that I appear approachable, open-hearted, that I'm a good listener, that they surprised themselves by confiding things in me they haven't told others, but some people say the opposite of me]

By contrast, individuals who fall towards the Avoidant end of the spectrum tend to give off an impression of independence, coldness, aloofness, and of being hard to approach. [This is what the other people say of me, so it depends on the person and whether they associate "independence" with coldness and being hard to approach or whether they find "self-confidence" to be "indimidating"]

In essence, Avoidant individuals feel a sense of unease about others whereas Engaging individuals tend to have fewer fears about forming connections with others. [This is why I'm on the Engaging side, but just barely. I don't feel unease or fear about connecting with others, I just don't often think it's worth trying when I can tell that we're very different people]

Avoidant individuals may give off the impression of being simply private or closed, but according to Attachment Style Theory, this demeanor is really an adaptation; a counterattack against their root feeling of uneasiness about others. [And this is why I'm not Avoidant, but just barely. My closed-off-ness is a defense mechanism, but it's not in response to "unease". To me, it's like wearing a seatbelt - I'm playing the odds and choosing caution, that's all]

(Note that an Avoidant Attachment Style is not the same as an Avoidant Personality Style.)
joreth: (being wise)
I'm an introvert. That means that I spend a lot of time in my head. Introversion does not mean shyness, or lack of social skills, it means that interactions with people outside of one's monkeysphere is taxing on the emotional reserves and one will need some alone-time to "recharge". That's all it means.

If you like socializing and like people, but you feel tired after *most* (not all) social interactions and want to spend some time by yourself or with just one or a few close intimates, you're an introvert, not an "ambivert". But introversion / extroversion is a whole other topic. Because introverts "get energy" from being by themselves, that often leads introverts to being very introspective as well. MY VERSION of introversion includes having imaginary conversations with people. Lots of them.

By the time I've said something out loud, it's been rolling around in my brain for a while now. Unlike extroverts, I'm not "thinking things through out loud". I'm now sharing conclusions. I've reached a conclusion *about my viewpoint*, but since a viewpoint can be changed with more information, it doesn't necessarily mean that I've found The Answer To Life, The Universe, And Everything (42), just that I know what my subjective position is on the subject. Now, either I need something from outside, or I'm done and I'm making an announcement.

Some extroverts, particularly those with a P in their personality designations, when they hear "I want you to do something", what they actually hear is "Hey! An option! There's a thing that exists! Just FYI, for you to add to your list of options!" When an introvert like me says something, though, I'm actually saying "I've made a decision that this is a thing that needs addressing."

So, when I say "we need to talk about this", I'll say it gently. I'll say "hey, I'd like to talk about this when you have a moment" or something flexible or soft like that. But some people will hear that and think "OK, there's no time limit so it must be not a big deal. I'll get around to it when I feel like it."

But what I'm *actually* saying is "I want your full and undivided attention to address this thing. I am not going to infringe on your autonomy to decide when on your behalf, because that will only add resentment to the difficult conversation, so I'm giving you a warning that you need to choose some time that you can dedicate to this thing, because it will require your attention."

When I say things like "I need to talk about something", it's the Check Engine light going on - this isn't the moment that the car explodes in a fireball, but it's not idle chatter either. If you don't address it, that fireball is in your future. You should probably address it while it's something as simple as needing oil, not when you're sitting on the side of the highway, stranded, with black smoke pouring out from under the hood.

So every day that goes by after I've said "I need this from you" is a day that I give up a little more on you. It's one day's less worth of trust that you care about me or have my interests at heart. It's one day's less worth of caring that I have back towards you for this being a mutual exchange between us.

And eventually, that caring, compassion, and trust that I give up reaches a bottom where I can't care about you anymore. You stop being People for me, and there is likely nothing you can ever do to win back that trust. I will always see you as The Person Who Does Not Care Enough To Talk To Me When I Say I Need It. I will always expect you to let me down. I will always assume that anything you do that's positive for me is for a selfish reason and that I can count on you removing your effort as soon as it's no longer convenient for you.

And it doesn't even matter if you have a Really Good Reason for putting off talking to me. Because I do not pick moments to have Talks willy-nilly. Like, I've seen those romantic couples who get into fights at parties that make everyone around them uncomfortable. I've even had those partners who picks fights with me right before bedtime on work nights, or when I'm on my way out the door.

One of them actually scheduled to come over to my house one weekend, was 3 HOURS LATE, I was already in bed and had to get up to let him in, where he then insisted on having a Talk, and I had to be up for a dance performance the next morning where my appearance and my focus was actually important. I even told him on the phone when he called to say that he was finally on the road that I could not stay up that night because of my responsibility the next day.  So I don't do that shit to others. I'll give you space to choose a mutually less-inconvenient time. That's why it doesn't matter to me if you have a Really Good Reason for just continuing to not talk to me. The longer you put it off, the more I distrust you.

I once had a partner who started dating a poly newbie. She had all the usual problems adjusting to poly. After about a year, I put my foot down and said "do something about this". So he approached her and she said she couldn't talk about the problem anymore. She wanted a 6-week moratorium where she didn't have to hear anything about polyamory or his other partners at all. She wanted 6 freaking weeks where she could pretend it was just her and him.

So 6 weeks go by without them talking about it (but otherwise being in a relationship together). And then another week. And then another week. After about the 3rd or 4th month of not discussing her inability to be in a poly relationship after I said she needs to show some improvement at being in a poly relationship, let alone him reminding her that her sunset clause was up, I broke up with him. I could not trust her, and because he saw no problem with that, I could not trust him either.

So, by the time someone in your life says "there's something on my mind..." it means FUCKING PAY ATTENTION THIS IS SERIOUS. If it's not serious, they'll probably tell you that. Unless you know for a fact that this person is the type of extrovert who likes just throwing shit out there and has no attachment to anything they're saying, and that what they're saying right now is indeed one of those things, then assume that every time someone in your life says that they want to talk or that they want you to do something for them, that this is a bid for your attention that will get weighed against all the other bids for attention, and the longer you refuse to acknowledge that bid, the more they will pull away from you.

Dr. John Gottman at the The Gottman Institute has written entire volumes on bids for attention. Bids for attention are basically any statement or gesture towards another person that requests their attention back in some way. It could be as simple as saying "I talked to my sister the other day." That's a complete statement, not a question, so it might seem like it doesn't require an answer. But what it means is "I'd like to chat with you."

If you don't pause for a moment to say "Really? What about?", then you turn away from their bid for attention. If you *can't* turn towards their bid for attention right then, you should say "I'd love to hear about it, as soon as I'm done with this thing, OK?" That's still a "turn towards" or a positive response to a bid.

"We need to talk" and "I need you to do something" are much clearer than "I'm hungry [aka hint hint I want you to take me to dinner]". Those are obvious bids for attention. Not all bids for attention will be that clear, but that doesn't make them "passive-aggressive", or even "indirect communication". Gottman's research shows that couples who turn away from or turn against bids for attention have a higher chance of divorce. His predictability on this subject is in the 80-90s% rate. People who do not turn towards bids for attention WILL LOSE THE TRUST OF THE PERSON MAKING THE BID. And loss of trust leads to the end of a relationship. Pretty much every time.

Gottman's research is primarily on heterosexual romantic monogamous couples. But, just like the 5 Love Languages that has similar perspective limitations, it's actually applicable to *any* interpersonal relationship - friends, parents & children, coworkers, and in poly relationships, metamours. Orientation is also irrelevant, although there may be some cultural differences in expression and in response proportions.

Saying "I need this from you" or "we need to talk" is what Gottman calls a Sliding Door moment. That exact moment that the bid is offered is not usually the big blow-up ending. But that's the moment that the decision the other person makes that leads inevitably towards the path - the make it or break it moment.

If you've not ever seen the movie Sliding Doors, and you can still stomach Gwyneth Paltrow, I recommend it. It's a brilliant film that explores possibilities. What happens when the door to the train stays open just long enough to catch it? What happens when you just barely miss it? Whether the door slides shut in front of you or behind you isn't a noteworthy event, by itself. But the chain of events that stem from when the door shuts leads to very different outcomes.

Bids for attention, particularly large bids like "I have been thinking of something for a while and it's a big enough deal that I'm finally saying something about it and it needs to be addressed" are sliding door moments. Every day that this bid is not addressed is lost trust.

Lost trust leads to the end of relationships. By the time I'm willing to verbally say "this is a problem and we need to talk about it", it's a Big Fucking Deal and we need to talk about it. Every day that we don't talk about it is a massive withdrawal from our shared Trust Account. When that balance hits zero, you stop being People to me and I close myself out of the account. You can then start trying to build up more trust again, but I very likely will never trust you again once I've checked out, no matter what you do.
joreth: (boxed in)
https://theestablishment.co/so-youve-sexually-harassed-or-abused-someone-what-now-ed49a934bab1

When my metamour was being abused by our mutual partner, he accused her of abusing him. That was part of his abuse of her, but that's not actually the point I want to make about it. When he did that, she immediately wracked her brain to see how she could be abusing him.  She didn't get defensive, she was horrified. "How could I be abusing the man I love?!" She went into therapy to try and figure out how she was being abusive and how to stop. She spent weeks, months, searching her soul, tearing herself inside out to find this monster that he said was in there.

Every time someone accuses me of being awful, if I don't already agree to it, I call up Franklin and ask "do I do this? Am I this person?"

The point here is that good people are concerned with how others perceive them, and whether they have blindness when that perception differs from their own. Good people want to know if they've hurt someone so that they can stop hurting them.  Some people (who also do good things and have people who love them and who love others) do not. When accused of hurting others, they get defensive. They don't see how it was possible. They assume that their own perception of events was the correct one.

You have hurt people. Yes, you. Everyone has. You have hurt people and you have done so thinking that you were right, justified, or that you didn't hurt them at all and it's all in their head. Sometimes you are correct, but sometimes you are not. You have hurt people.

Now is a good time in our culture to own up to that. If you actually care about others, or even if you just care about what people think of you, then you will look back in your history to try and find the times when you hurt someone, or when you could have hurt someone, or when someone may have felt hurt by you even though you didn't *technically* hurt them but you put yourself in a position for them to feel hurt by you.

You have hurt people. Abuse victims know what it's like to hear that accusation and to feel concerned, ashamed, afraid that it might be true. Abuse victims know what it's like to actually care enough about someone else that when they are accused of hurting them, they stop and look.

Abusers look for "good people" who are exploitable. That compassion, that caring is exploitable. That compassion and caring is also one of their superpowers. Abusers abuse because they feel justified in doing so. They believe that their actions are the correct actions to take. There are two paths here that you can take.

You have hurt people. Which direction are you going to go from that?
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
I don't understand the question of how do poly people decide whose family to visit for holidays.

Or rather, I understand the question in the sense that I understand English, but the underlying premise that assumes that making holiday decisions is somehow *different* for poly people than everyone else is what I don't understand. Strike that. I "understand" even that premise, what I'm trying to say is that why *they* don't see that their question has this premise and why it's problematic is frustrating for me.

Every time someone asks that, I just think "did you really grow up with a mom and a dad who were still married to each other and literally no other family anywhere so that your family never had to answer this question at any point during your childhood? Do families like that actually exist? Because I know they're not the norm."

And I ask that as a child of two parents who got married to each other right out of high school and remain married to this day and who actually *do* live in a city with no other blood relatives in the same city. Because we still had family nearby, and we still made family-of-choice out of friends and neighbors, as most people do.

There was always a question in my home growing up - do we visit mom's sister an hour away, mom's adult nephew's family about half an hour away, dad's brother about 2 hours away, dad's sister, dad's mother or dad's father (who were divorced) - all about 7 hours away, mom & dad's best friends or mom & dad's other best friends (in our city), or the godparents a couple of neighborhoods over?

My parents solved that one by putting out hors d'oeuvres and having everyone else and the neighbors (literally) drop in at our house throughout the day if they could.

This isn't a poly problem but a people problem of any "nuclear family" growing up and starting families of their own which makes the whole concept of "family" into this giant branching tree with conflicting schedules and priorities. My dad grew up in a nuclear family but once he and his siblings became adults, there were 5 new "nuclear" families to consider.

My mom also grew up in a nuclear home, but when her generation became adults, that made 8 more nuclear families to visit. So when my mom and dad created their own nuclear family, they were still connected to their own nuclear-family-of-origin but being adults that meant 13 different households.

Since "who to visit for the holidays" isn't a poly problem, growing up we did what everyone else did - made decisions for each holiday based on a million different variables including time, money, distance, children's school schedules, who we saw last year, and then we try to pack as many of everyone who didn't get eliminated by conflicting schedules, finances, or priorities into one event.

I handle poly holidays the same way I handled holidays while monogamous - talk with everyone involved, see who wants to host and who wants to travel, balance time and money against preferences, and make decisions based on all of that information every time a question of "who to visit during the holidays" comes up. It's a different answer every time even one of those variables changes, and most years at least one of those variables is guaranteed to change.

With so many families scattered around the country and around the globe, usually the problem is pretty simply sorted out by who is even in physical proximity to visit in the first place. Most years, that doesn't leave us with more than 2 or 3 options, logistically speaking, and house-hopping is totally an option with so few choices to reasonably choose from.

But honestly? If I could make the whole country scale way back on how important these damn holidays are and just spend the time quietly at home, away from repetitive holiday music and obligatory gift exchanges, I'd rather do that. Or better yet, working.  My friends and I manage to find plenty of reasons to host large food-centered gatherings so if it's the food and the gathering part that I wanted, I don't need an over-commercialized holiday shoved down my throat to get it.

But, back to the point. Most of the questions I get about polyamory can quite easily be answered with "I dunno, how do YOU deal with it? Because it's probably pretty similar to how you do things."

Since the question isn't really the question. The *real* question is "but are you even people? How do you people if you're not people?"
joreth: (sex)
Interesting. The term "sex negative" refers to the philosophy that sex is bad, dirty, dangerous, or wrong, unless it occurs within a very narrow range of circumstances (i.e. within a marriage for procreation). "Sex negative" is pretty much what it sounds like - that sex is a negative thing, possibly with some exceptions.

But "sex positive" doesn't mean the opposite. "Sex positive" does not mean that all sex is good (with maybe some exceptions), it just means that sex isn't *inherently* bad.

So "sex negative" means that sex is actively bad, but "sex positive" means an absence of an active descriptor about sex.

It seems that, because of the way our society chooses one particular thing to herald, not just as "normal" but as "the One True Way", most of my own philosophies have to do with saying "well, I'm not for OR against it, I'm just absent a positive affirmation in this thing that everyone else is saying."

I'm atheist, which doesn't necessarily mean "there are no gods", it just means an absence of belief in gods. I'm non-monogamous, which doesn't necessarily mean that I'm opposed to monogamy, just that I don't do it, even when I only have one partner at a time.

I'm sex-positive, which doesn't mean that I think all sex is good or that people should be having all the sex all the time, just that I don't think that sex is, by it's very nature, bad, and you can have it or not as you see fit. And there was that meme a while back about "I'm not liberal, I just think the earth is more than 6,000 years old but I can see how you'd think that's liberal by comparison". When extremism reigns supreme, even a middle ground can seem extremist next to it.

No point here, it just came to my awareness that a lot of subcultures exist because we don't have any other way to say "well, but I'm not THAT." And that's a big enough deal to have its own subcultures, labels, and ideologies around it.

This is also a reminder that "sex positive" doesn't mean "all the sex, all the time, for all the people". Some assholes get all offended when we don't make space for their desires because they feel entitled to expressing their "sexuality" (psst ... being a rapist isn't your "orientation" or your "sexuality, just sayin'). Just because you have feelz, it doesn't mean you're entitled to a platform to express them at others.

"Sex positive" just means that *if* consenting people like doing sexyfuntimes together, that's cool, but if not, that's cool too.

But sex-negativity is such a strongly enforced worldview that we have to add "positive" to the other descriptor just to indicate what really is more of a neutral position, because "neutral" is a subversive, radical act in a culture that swings way too far to the "negative" side.
joreth: (boxed in)

I'm working on an analogy of privacy vs. secrecy vs. transparency. I looked *everywhere* through my blog to find some post talking about the difference between these 3 things. I'm *sure* I've talked about it before, but it seems to have only been in comments and not archived here anywhere. I could find a couple of posts where I'm railing against Those Couples who tell each other "everything" where they think it's acceptable to "protect their relationship" by violating other people's privacy, but nothing that that merely described the difference between the 3 terms (that people often use interchangeably) and nothing that defended either privacy or transparency.

There's also a recent Poly Weekly episode with Casey Blake, who talks about the difference, but I'd have to go back and listen to the whole episode to find the specific quotes. I think she also talks about it in her book, which I'd now like to read. The analogy is coming up at the end. But first, a story that I usually tell to illustrate the point:
 



I once dated this guy, who had an ex-girlfriend. She and I used to be friends, until I started dating him about a year after they broke up. Apparently I broke the Girl Code by dating a friend's ex-boyfriend. Then she actually got me blackballed from the local union office in that town so that I couldn't work anymore (all 3 of us worked in the industry together). Anyway, I thought they both brought out the worst in each other, so I didn't start dating him until we ran into each other a year later and he said he wanted her completely out of his life because he recognized they were bad for each other, and while we were dating, I was opposed to him even being friends with her, let alone getting back together (for the millionth time).

One day, we were hanging out at my place, just catching up and talking about our lives. He mentioned "the other day", but was kind of dodgy about it. I asked some questions, as I do when I'm engaged in my partners' stories and want to know about who they are and what they do in their lives. His answers were even more dodgy. So I started asking questions as I do when I'm suspicious that I'm not getting the full story.

After a bit, he got all pissed off at me for "prying", so I got all pissed off at him for keeping secrets. What could he possibly be doing that he would actively lie to me to keep me from finding out? Finally, he blurted out that he had spent the day with his ex because she had a run-in with her abusive mom* and since he had a similar upbringing and they originally bonded over that shared abusive childhood, she called the only person she knew who she could talk to about it. So he listened to her and comforted her.

But that was supposed to be a secret, and now I "forced" him to divulge "private" information about someone who didn't agree to telling me those details. He yelled at me about not respecting "privacy" and now look what I had made him do. So I blinked at him a moment, and then said "you didn't have to tell me her secrets. You didn't have to tell me the details of her trauma. All you had to say was that she had a personal thing that she needed to talk to someone about, and it's a thing she feels safe talking to *you* about, and that's how you spent your day. I don't need to know anything about *her* intimate life, I wanted to know about *your day*."
 



It's not actually that hard to maintain privacy (yours or someone else's) while still maintaining transparency in a relationship. A simple "yes, there is something, but I don't want to talk about it," usually suffices. Also "that's not my story to tell, I'm sorry." Also, "I spent time with a friend who is going through some shit that they don't want me to share, but that's where I was the other day for 5 hours." Admit that there is *something*, acknowledge that you are not going to share the details, and then let it go. Privacy and transparency at the same time.

I tell this story frequently as an illustration of the difference between privacy and secrecy, so it really ought to be a permanent page here in the blog for future reference. But I also want something pithy to trot out that's a little more lighthearted, a little more memorable, a little more repeatable. Kinda like my "polyamory is multiple loves, there may or may not be marriage / polygamy is multiple marriages, there may or may not be love" slogans.

I haven't gotten the pithy part down yet, but I did get the concept out. I'm hoping that writing it out here, for the first time, will give me something to refer back to, and then refine over time as I use it in conversation more and more, and eventually I'll find a way to boil it down to something meme-able.

Every mother I know has made jokes about not knowing what it's like to pee without an audience for the first 5 years of a child's life.

Privacy is your partner being able to go to the bathroom without an audience.

Transparency is knowing what they're doing in that bathroom and that it doesn't hurt you or them (i.e. they really are peeing, not doing drugs or sneaking cigarettes or scheduling a date to cheat on you), but you don't need to watch or hear the details about it because that's their business.

Unless, y'know, you have that kind of relationship where you talk about your bathroom habits. *Shrug* I'm not judging. But it's your partner's bathroom habits, so it's your partner's call on what to share. But they don't *have* to share, because they're transparent about the fact that they're going to the bathroom.

Secrecy is not telling you that they go to the bathroom and taking measures to keep you from finding out that they use the bathroom, whether they are using drugs in the bathroom or really just peeing.

Now, when it comes to other people -

Privacy is your partner's other partner being able to go to the bathroom while your partner is visiting them without you witnessing it or getting a text update about it. Even if their bathroom habits differ from yours.

Transparency is knowing that your partner and their other partner do, indeed, go to the bathroom (separately) when they spend time together, but you don't *need* to know the details - you're aware that it happens because you know they're both humans who use the loo occasionally.

Secrecy is your partner refusing to admit that their other partner uses the bathroom, like ever, or that they leave the door open to use the bathroom when they visit even though you don't care if they leave the door open or shut and you already assume that they use the bathroom because they're human, or maybe they refuse to divulge that they do other things in the bathroom - dangerous things - that could harm themselves, your partner, or even you by extension, so that you don't have the information necessary to make informed decisions about your own body or relationship with your mutual partner given the context.

Everyone deserves the right to pee without an audience (unless they want an audience, and then they ought to find an audience who wants to *be* an audience). Everyone deserves to know that their partners do, in fact, pee because not peeing means they're probably not human and that's kind of important information. Nobody should deliberately, through lies, omission, or obfuscation, keep anyone else in the dark about the fact that pee happens.



* She doesn't actually have an abusive mom. I changed the nature of her trauma to protect her privacy, even though this was more than a decade ago and we haven't spoken to each other since before then. But it was a trauma of similar enough kind or similar enough intensity that this will suffice.

joreth: (boxed in)
I have feral cats living under my house. I love cats. I've been trying to win their trust for months and very slowly succeeding.

Feral cats have very good reasons for not trusting people. People generally suck when it comes to treatment of animals. Their literal lives depend on them being cautious and wary of humans.  I have never once felt bad or offended that a stray cat doesn't trust me immediately and can't tell me apart from those assholes who want to hurt them. I am bigger than they are and I have all the power in the world over their existence. I understand their safety requires them to start out by distrusting me. It's not personal to me, it's what they need to do to survive.

I don't always feel like I have "all the power in the world". Some things still have power over me. Hell, even the ferals manage to get in a good scratch now and then if I get too close. And that scratch has a high chance of getting infected, them being ferals and all, and I could actually catch something from them that could kill me.

And yet, I am still bigger and stronger than they are and I have *more* of a chance of seriously harming them than they do of me, even with their "unfair advantage" of dirty claws. Plus, I have the weight of society behind me, that doesn't much like stray animals running around. Even if I often feel trod on by that very society myself.

Women are like feral cats in this way. We live in a world with creatures bigger than we are that have power over our existence, and a system set up to support them, and some of them want to hurt us and we can't tell who they are from the ones that don't until they grab our tails.

Some women trust easily because they've had no or few bad experiences and they get lucky and their trust is never betrayed.

Some women don't trust easily and they miss out on the wonderful bond that they could have had with the nice guy who genuinely cares for them and really wouldn't hurt them.

Some women trust easily and get tortured and killed for it. Some women don't trust easily and still get tortured and killed.

Not all men, just like not all humans. As one of those humans who does not torture and kill cats (one of the majority, I might add), and as one of the few who is actively trying to provide a safe place and nourishment for some cats, I am #NotAllHumans, but I am not suffering any sort of self-esteem or rejection crisis just because these cats are taking their time figuring out that I am Not All Humans.

The vast majority of stray and feral cats will never trust me, some even actively cross the street to avoid me even when I crouch down and call out to them in a friendly way. They run from me, but I don't want to hurt them. I want to offer them food and kindness and pettings that would feel good.

They don't know that. They might never know that if they don't take a chance and trust me, but not taking a chance on me might save their lives someday when they don't take a chance on someone else. I'll get over it. I'll find other cats who do trust me, if that's really what I want.

And I'll patiently continue to put food in the bowl on my porch for the ones under my house, the ones closest to me, even if they never learn to trust me, because I care about their health and safety. Their safety is more important to me than my ego over whether or not they like me.

Some might try to say that it's different, because we have a drive to bond to other people. These people obviously have never been inside my head and don't know how strong the drive is to bond with cats. Honestly, I'd rather bond with cats than with most people. My need to develop relationships with tiny furry predators is stronger than my need for sex. At least sex I can do by myself if I really want to.

The point is that it's not about the Humans and it's not about the Men. It's about what's good for the cats and the women. It's not about *me* when a cat rejects me or doesn't even give me a chance. It's about the cat and what they need to do for their survival.

Rejection sucks. But it's not about you, so suck it up and move on. There are other cats in the world, many of whom will be happy to rub up on your ankles and claw your face in the middle of the night.
joreth: (polyamory)
I write a lot about the non-possessiveness of love.  This was my latest comment on someone's FB post:

I cannot share my partners because my partners are not my possessions to share. Their body, minds, emotions, and time do not belong to me, they belong to them and them alone, and THEY choose to share THEMSELVES with me (and anyone else).

What they choose to give of themselves to others is not something taken away from me because it was never mine to begin with.

What they give of themselves to me is a gift. And only when received without entitlement and without obligation does it remain a gift. Otherwise it is a tithing, and I am nobody's lord and master to be tithed to.

We are equal partners in this partnership. That which I choose to share of mine, I share freely. That which they choose to share of theirs with me, they share freely. Together, it blends into a wonderful new entity that is our relationship.

But always it is made up of mine and theirs, and we each retain sole ownership of ourselves - our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our time - to share with whom we choose.

Nobody can take that away from me which is not mine to begin with. My partners are not mine to share, they share themselves with me, and that is exactly what makes relationships so special, so unique, and so irreplaceable.
joreth: (boxed in)
https://medium.com/@emmalindsay/if-we-fire-all-sexual-assaulters-will-we-end-up-firing-everyone-bca0db236174

The headline is inflammatory. It makes it sound like the article will be one of those strawman arguments defending the "right" to sexual assault and criticizing the "over-sensitive liberal left" for being big whiny babies accusing everyone of rape and trying to wiggle out of accountability.

But it's more about acknowledging that everyone *is* culpable in perpetuating #RapeCulture and about looking inside ourselves for at least part of the solution.

If the #MeToo campaign made you feel better, gave you a sense of solidarity, had some benefit for you, then I'm genuinely happy that it helped you. It did not help me. It made me feel weary, cynical, and apathetic. So, even though I also raised my hand in #MeToo, I also took that opportunity to join another set of ranks - one that acknowledged my own participation in rape culture and in hurting other people. It's only by acknowledging it that we can even begin the work to change it.

As I've said before, abusers abuse people not because they have "feelings", like they're angry or afraid because everyone has those feelings, but because they have *beliefs* - they believe right down to their toes that what they did is justified and right. As long as they have those beliefs, they will never change their abuse. Abusers abuse because they believe they are right to do so. They believe they have the right to control other people in an attempt to manage their own feelings. Accusing them of abuse only makes them feel and react indignantly, offended, insulted, and more angry, because they believe they are *righteous* in their behaviour.

Rape culture is just more of that. People sexually assault, not because they're "overcome with lust", but because they believe they are good people, and since they are "good people", what they did must not be assault. They have a justification for it. They believe that they did not do anything wrong.

And as long as they continue to believe that, they, like abusers, will not change.

So we need to stop seeing people who do bad things as cardboard, cartoon evil villains, and start seeing them as complex people who have absorbed the very messages our society tells them to absorb and they believe they are right for having done so.

That has to start with ourselves. That has to start with it becoming "cool" to see the complexity in people, and "trendy" to look at ourselves deeply and acknowledge our actions, and morally right to accept accountability for those actions. We have to make it the more socially acceptable path to model and reward humility and accountability over strength and confidence (two of my own traits I am most proud of, btw, so this is not easy for me).

Nobody will be perfect. I'm sure there are plenty of things that I still believe I was "right" to do that others think I was wrong about. But I will start by acknowledging my participation in rape culture *even as I was a victim of it* my whole life, and I will apologize, and I will seek to change my behaviour in the future because sometimes that's all we can do when something is too far past or the people we have hurt are too far out of our lives to make reparations towards them personally.

But the hard part is that I am seen by society as a woman. My standing up to "MeToo" my participation, rather than my experiences, isn't what will fix things. It will take people seen as men, and respected as men, doing it visible and frequently to turn the tide of society.

Because otherwise, I am just a tu quoque example "well women do shitty things too!" defense.

"And, part of what was creepy about that night, is that I was hooking up with that girl for social status, not to connect with her. Of course I was tuned out to what she was feeling sexually; I was completely numbing my own sexual desires in pursuit of ego gratification. I wanted the feelings of success that would come after hooking up with her, but wasn’t much interested in the feelings of connection that came during hooking up. I wanted to fuck her as quickly as possible and get it over with just so I could say that I’d done it."

"How could people enjoy, and demand, being sexual with my body when they could knew it was hurting me?

The answer, I believe, is that they were in pursuit of ego gratification. They were disconnected from what we both were feeling, and were instead focused on the “accomplishment” of hooking up with me. The gratification they wanted wasn’t the gratification of connecting with another human, but rather achieving something in the eyes of society."

"Even if I didn’t do anything to her without consent, I think what I did was bad for her. I think I hurt her. "

"However, I think most of us *have* participated in the culture of sexual harassment in one way or another. There is not a sharp divide between the “evil” men in the headlines and a mostly innocent public; rather there is a spectrum that we will all find ourselves on."

"Sexual assault is a natural and obvious extension of our culture. It is a natural extension of values that we all have internalized."


joreth: (polyamory)

I'm going through my blog, looking for a particular entry, so I'm coming across some old writings and I found this paragraph:

"I went after something that, at the time, I felt I needed to help cope with all my chaos and loss and pain. And it did help. It was honestly the right thing for me at the time and I don't regret it at all. It directly led to another series of events that eventually contributed to my healing, and to pulling myself out of the bleakness that was consuming me. It turned out to be absolutely necessary for me, although I couldn't have known that at the time - I thought it was something I should do, but I didn't realize how it would start a snowball effect that would ultimately lead to saving my life. The details are not mine alone to share, even anonymously, but I will also say that the thing I "went after" is not actually the thing that I was accused of doing that lead to my partner "Flipp[ing] the Fuck Out". But I did pursue another relationship, and its progress frightened my abusive ex."

It got me to thinking.

I see a lot of "my partner is doing / wants to do this new, scary thing and I don't want them to!" posts in the forums. Sometimes they're asking how to make their partner stop, and sometimes they're asking how to learn to be OK with the thing. I don't want to focus on what they "should" do, because, honestly, it depends on the context.

But I want to address their fear from the perspective of the partner who wants to do / is doing something "scary".

As I mention in this post, and in a lot of other posts that I make on the subject, I went through a turbulent period. I lost everything important in my life at the same time - I lost my place to live and then had to escape from a "friend" who offered to "rescue" me but turned out to be a monster who tortured my cats, and from there I moved 7 times in 2 years because I *kept losing my place to live* through circumstances beyond my control.

If you've never lived in the kind of poverty where the very basics of life such as "shelter" are uncertain, you can't know what this kind of uncertainty does to one's psyche. I've now been in my current apartment for 4 years and I *still* keep all of my things in file boxes on the shelves because I'm afraid I'm going to have to bug out again with no notice.

But, more than that, I have this sort of apathetic distrust of the world. I now expect that people will fail me and abandon me and that life as I know it will get turned upside down, and that this is just how life is and there is nothing I can do about it.

When I was a kid, my parents were lower-middle class. We lived in the suburbs, I went to a private school, didn't have to buy my first car, but my parents were just barely making an income to support their lifestyle. They didn't live above their means, they lived just barely at it. They never got into trouble, they never had their home foreclosed on, they always kept their head just above water. But there were some months that were tense.

My situation now is nothing like that. To live with that level of uncertainty seems to me like a fantasy, like real people don't actually live like that. I aspire to be so wealthy that I can sit up late at night in my spacious kitchen, balancing a checkbook and finding corners to cut so that the kids don't notice how tight the belt is. To me now, that's a level of wealth that's as unattainable as gold-plated toilet seats. And yet, that's my entire childhood experience.

Back to the point - I was experiencing a devastating series of losses. In addition to my unstable living situation, I also lost both of my cats, who had been with me since I first moved out of my parents' home. They were more than just pets. They were part of my transition to adulthood. They were my source of comfort and companionship. I can't overstate my bond with my cats, it was so strong. And I lost them both almost exactly within a month of each other, thanks to that White Knight who decided that he didn't want me there after all and took it out on my cats instead of just telling me to get lost.

On top of that, someone who I had very strong feelings for years and years ago but who had hurt me very deeply, had come back into my life and seemed to be hinting that he could make up for the hurt and offer me some solace and comfort and love that I felt I was missing. And then that person almost immediately took that offer away just when I was starting to trust that the offer was real, by announcing that he was moving to another state.

Plus, the nation was in an economic "recession" and I was not working as much as I needed to pay the bills, let alone put down deposits on all these apartments I had to keep moving into (and out of).

I was living in a quicksand bog with giant attack rats hiding behind every tree and random geysers that shot fire whenever I stepped near them.

At this time, my then-partner was going through his own shit. As I predicted, he had taken on too many partners and they were consuming his time and attention. What I *didn't* predict was that the reason they were consuming his time and attention is because it takes a lot of extra effort to manipulate and control multiple partners, particularly when one of them is resistant to that control.

So he was abusing one of his partners, and she went "crazy". His life was filled with arguments that he thought they had resolved, only to have her bring them up again and again. So all his spare time was taken up by her and her "erratic" behaviour, and all his other partners started to get pissed off that he wasn't available to them. I was allotted 10-minute increments of his time in phone calls 3 times a week. That was the extent of our relationship.

I detail all of this to explain how utterly chaotic my life was and just how dark things got. I spiraled into a suicidal depression. I actually got to the planning stage, where I started trying to tie up loose ends, get my various passwords to people so they could access my social media accounts to make announcements, my bank account to handle my post-mortem financial obligations, my list of Important People so that family and friends would get notified, etc.

Before it got quite this bad, though, when I was still on this path but not at the destination, I felt a pull to do some things. I didn't yet recognize that I was slipping into a depression. I didn't yet recognize what was so valuable about these things that I wanted to do. All I knew is that I wanted to do them, and I wanted to do them very strongly.

These things were very scary to my then-bf who, unbeknownst to me, believed he was right to control his partners when they did scary things. Well, not *totally* unbeknownst ... there were red flags, I just had on rose colored glasses that render the bright red grey.

When I first started dating him 3 years prior, I had 2 other partners - 1 who he had known for over a decade and was friends with him, and another who he didn't know very well but had a decent reputation in the poly community and was *extremely* conservative in his dating practices.

The partner that my abusive ex had known before me was a long-distance partner who I saw only once or twice a year, at best. The other partner only had 2 girlfriends (me and another), had been with us both for a long time, and his other gf had her own conservative sexual history.

There's this phenomenon in the poly community, where people with insecurities seem to have no problem "sharing" their partner with people who came before them, but who then freak out whenever someone new comes along. It's because the preexisting partners are part of the initial calculus when deciding on beginning a relationship, but new partners are a *change*.

People, as a general rule, are frightened by change. We are more comfortable with known variables. Coming to us with existing partners is a known variable. We set up our expectations based on what *is*, right now, so when a new partner comes along, that upsets the status quo and changes the expectations. We don't usually like that.

In the 3 years that I was with that abusive ex, I lost the local partner almost immediately (because he also couldn't deal with the change of me dating the abusive ex - not that either of us knew he was abusive at the time), so I was only dating my long-distance partner and nobody else.

So even though I'm solo poly with a HUGE rap sheet of dating partners, I was, in effect, basically monogamous with this abusive ex. I had an LD partner who I never saw, so the abusive ex could almost forget that he existed, except to capitalize on the fame-by-association he got for being metamours with him, and I had the abusive ex, and that was it, except for group sex that included the abusive ex's own branch of the network. I could focus all my relationship energy on the abusive ex because I wasn't *dating* anyone else, even though I was technically connected to a couple of others.

He got used to that. For 3 years, that's how it was. I don't actually need a whole lot of partners in my life. I don't really have the time or attention for that. I need the *freedom* for multiple partners, but one or two healthy relationships and *maybe* a couple of casual hookups every year or so is pretty good for me. I can get by on just one, long-term, satisfying relationship for years, especially when my sex drive tanks for months at a time.

So then the abusive ex became unavailable, and then all that chaos happened. And I needed ... something. I found myself drawn to a couple of experiences that frightened my abusive ex. In our entire relationship of several years, this was the first time I had ever taken on a new partner, or wanted to. This was the first time he had ever had to deal with how, when, and why I take on new partners.

And he really didn't like it.

So he sought to prevent me by pulling out all the usual SJW, "enlightened" poly language - I was hurting him, I was disrespecting his "boundaries", I didn't care about his feelings, you're supposed to move only as fast as the slowest person in the group, I need to consider the safety of everyone else in the group, I need to consider group cohesion and how these new experiences fit (or didn't) into the style of the group, everyone else in the group needs to have a vote on what I do because it affects them, etc.

I needed to have these experiences for me, but he turned them entirely from things that happened to me into things that I DID TO him.

What I was unable to articulate at the time, because none of this stuff ever becomes clear until after the fact, was that these experiences literally saved my life and I *needed* to experience them. We throw around the word "need" a lot in poly relationships. "Different people meet different needs". "I need for all my women to be with no other men." We all "need" a lot. But most of the time, this word is not used correctly.

As it turned out, I *needed* these experiences. And I needed them in ways that I couldn't predict. There is no way that I could have known that, in just a few months, I would find myself sitting on the floor of my storage unit, sobbing hysterically, and gazing longingly at the gun that was just out of my reach but having literally not enough motivation to get up off the floor to either grab the gun or dust myself off and leave; and no way to predict that these experiences that I had would lead to relationships that gave me the sort of comfort and stable base that I needed to eventually leave that storage unit and not reach for the gun that night, or on future nights.

These specific experiences that I wanted that my abusive ex yelled at me about one night, keeping me up several hours past my bedtime the night before a performance when I really needed my sleep (and told him that I could not have that discussion that night for that reason) - these specific experiences were not some magical sex dates that brought life back into my suicidal brain. It wasn't that simple.

These experiences led to things that led to things that brought about a relationship and a renewed attachment and affirmation of my other relationship and a deep bond in solidarity with a metamour, that all became my rock and my salvation after that night on the floor of the storage unit.

Those experiences that drove a wedge between me and my insecure, abusive ex were not directly responsible for saving me from suicide, but I can draw *direct* lines from those experiences to the broader circumstances that provided me with the safety net that I needed to pull back from the edge.

If you think of a safety net, with its webbing of rope connecting from multiple points to multiple points, and all those strands and connections are what make it safe to catch you, my couple of experiences that so freaked out my ex even before I had them and they were just possibilities, those experiences are the spools from which all that safety rope came.

So, when you're thinking about your partner who wants to do a thing that frightens you, remember this story. Your partner is probably not on the brink of suicide at this very moment, and likely won't ever be. Your partner's experiences probably won't be literally life-saving to them.

But the things that your partner wants to experience will be the foundation of who they will become in the future. There's no way to predict who they will become or how their experiences will affect that. But those experiences are things that their future selves need to become their future selves.

Sometimes that's not a good thing. Sometimes we have experiences that we do not benefit from. But, again, we can't predict that.

So, you can be like my abusive ex, who was so frightened of me having experiences that I *needed* to have even though I didn't know yet that I needed them or I didn't know how to articulate how important they were that I have them, he was so frightened that he tried to manipulate and control his partners in order to avoid feeling that fear, and when that didn't work, he ended up losing the very relationships that those experiences made him afraid of losing in the first place. You can be that person.

Or you can recognize that your partner is not your possession, and is a fully formed human being, who needs to have experiences in order to become who they will become. And sometimes those experiences are life-saving. You can ride the curl, or you can try to push back the ocean with a broom. Either you will fail and the tide will wash over you anyway, or you will succeed in containing and hampering all the wild glory that is an unfettered wave.

I know it's scary to face the unknown. But this isn't about you. This is about your partner and who they are and who they will be. Are you the kind of partner who stands before your mate and blocks their path?

Or are you the kind of partner who feels fear, takes a deep breath, tells that fear that it will not control you or make you control your partner, and musters up every ounce of courage you have to trust in your partner and let them be who they will be?

This isn't about you, this is about them. What kind of partner will you be to them?

Life rewards those who take the Path of Greatest Courage. I took mine. I risked losing a relationship that I valued, and I did lose it, but in exchange I also lost an abusive partner, the scales from my eyes hiding his abuse of his other partners, and I gained a measure of control over my circumstances, and my life as well as some deep connections and a better understanding of myself. I think it was a fair exchange.

So when you and your partner make it through all of this to the other side, how do you want them to look back on their relationship with you over this? Do you want them to see you as I see my ex? Someone who was holding me back and causing harm, who I am better off now for having traded him in for those experiences he was so afraid of?

Or as someone with courage who faced your fears, trusted in their love, and embraced your partner for all they are and all they will become?

joreth: (polyamory)
Your regular, sporadic reminder that not everyone who is poly started out as a "couple opening up" or a bisexual woman who got courted by a couple, and that not all poly relationships involve polyfi FMF triads.

In fact, the majority of poly people and relationships are not this.

Not all of us are hetero men and bisexual women. Not all of us are cisgender. Some people are even gay! And asexual! And aromantic! Some women are straight and some men aren't!

And most of us have relationship structures that don't fit a convenient geometric shape.

#polycule #TheAmorphousSquiggle #TheTangle #IStartedOutPolyAsAMostlyStraightSingleWoman #NeverOpenedUp #AlwaysPoly #IHaveWaitAMinuteFirstDefineTheTermPartner #MyRomanticNetworkNeedsA3DFlowchart #SorryIHaveNoIdeaHowManyPartnersMyPartnerCurrentlyHasIHaveLostTrack #OKSoWeAre3rdMetamoursTwiceRemoved? #MyBestFriendsSistersBoyfriendsBrothersGirlfriendHeardFromThisGuyWhoKnowsThisKidWhosGoingWithAGirlWhoSawFerrisPassOutAt31FlavorsLastNightIGuessItsPrettySerious #IAmYourFathersBrothersNephewsCousinsFormerRoommate
joreth: (polyamory)
https://longreads.com/2017/10/10/the-horizon-of-desire/

"Why 'you knew what the deal was going in' is bullshit in relationships. Just because I knew the deal doesn't mean I am required to consent to it unendingly.

'Consent is a state of being. Giving someone your consent — sexually, politically, socially — is a little like giving them your attention. It’s a continuous process. It’s an interaction between two human creatures.'"

~Jessica Burde

The article linked is about sexual consent in the context of what constitutes "real rape" and our current Rapist-In-Chief's endorsement of the new social climate of Rape Culture. But "you knew the deal going in" with respect to poly relationships is a natural extension of this same mindset, even if it's adjacent to the conversation about Rape Culture.

It's a coercive practice in the poly community where, usually, a cis-hetero couple lays down the law for some poor bisexual woman about what their relationship is going to look like once she signs her life away to them (sometimes not much different from the scene in 50 Shades, with actual contracts on paper and everything).

And then, when the woman who was initially snowed over with lust and New Relationship Excitement and the promises of double the fun by a, usually, more experienced couple, and not a little bit of strong-arming her to accept what would clearly be manipulative and toxic relationship practices in a monogamous context but who get away with it because it's "polyamory" so obviously it's going to look different so why can't "toxic" = "healthy" when we're turning the whole monogamous paradigm upside down ... ahem,

when this woman eventually starts to add up all the red flags and she can't ignore her misgivings any longer, or when she just changes her mind and her libido as people do over time and wants to renegotiate the parameters of her relationship *as we all have to over time*, the couple trots this old worn out trope and demands that she not ever change, that whatever she consented to previously still holds, and it's ALL HER FAULT for "disrespecting the primary" by daring to want something other than what she signed up for.

Consent, whether it's missionary sex in a long-term, hetero, vanilla relationship, casual hookup sex with the person you met in a bar, or ongoing intimacy in a poly relationship, is a continuous process and it is required *the whole time*, not just once up front. Expecting anyone to maintain a sexual, emotional, or romantic agreement they made in the past is coercive and a part of Rape Culture. Even when it's a couple doing it to a bisexual woman who "knew the deal going in".

"The problem is that technically isn’t good enough. 'At least I didn’t actively assault anyone' is not a gold standard for sexual morality, and it never was."

"Ideally you want them to say it again, and again, and mean it every time. Not just because it’s hotter that way, although it absolutely is; consent doesn’t have to be sexy to be centrally important. But because when you get down to it, sexuality should not be about arguing over what you can get away with and still call consensual."

"Rape culture describes the process whereby rape and sexual assault are normalized and excused, the process whereby women’s sexual agency is continuously denied and women and girls are expected to be afraid of rape and to guard against it, the process whereby men are assumed to have the erotic self-control of a gibbon with a sweetie jar of Viagra, creatures who ought to be applauded for not flinging turds everywhere rather than encouraged to apply critical thinking."

"The thing is, if you accept the idea a woman has the absolute right to sexual choice, you must also wrestle with the prospect that she might not make the choice you want. If she’s really free to say no, even if she’s said yes before, even if she’s naked in your bed, even if you’ve been married for twenty years, well then — you might not get to fuck her."

See how often these things apply to a couple's "third" when you mentally place them in these statements?

joreth: (polyamory)

#ThingsIWantToToon: I want to show a picture of people riding an escalator with signs or markers or levels that are labeled with common Important Relationship Markers (like "first date", "first kiss", "meeting the parents", "PIV sex", "marriage", "baby", "first mortgage", etc.)

The people all look remarkably similar, bland, and like they're trudging through the process unwillingly or neutrally. Maybe one or two of them look happy and excited to be there.

In the next panel, or maybe down on the ground floor, there is a buffet set up with several different food tables scattered around in a non-linear fashion with all the same labels on the dishes, and maybe a few not listed on the escalator. People are wandering around, not in line, browsing, excitedly helping themselves to this or that, walking away with heaping plates or sparse plates, all generally looking happy to be there and full of color and "energy". Maybe a few people standing around the edges with empty plates looking nervous.

And at least one person in both groups is looking longingly at the other group.

joreth: (polyamory)
Q. How do you handle things like shared finances, economic support, gifts, co-owned property, etc. without letting those financial entanglements create Escalator expectations in your relationships? When people start buying dinner for each other, or buying gifts for each other, or owning property together, it's usually a sign of a relationship going somewhere, like, to the next step. But what if you don't want to move to the next step? How do you mix finances and still stay off the Relationship Escalator?

A. I'm solo poly and always have been. I don't live with any partners. But I do tend to date other people who respect autonomy very highly. We discuss our expectations and assumptions about money early and often in our relationships. And then money (or the equivalent thereof) is offered as gifts freely, without obligation. Sometimes the gift is rejected, and that rejection has to be received gracefully - that's part of the "without obligation".

One of my partners has a full time job whose salary more than meets his needs, plus he puts in a lot of overtime. He has his own goals for his money and I don't pay attention to the specifics like how much exactly he makes or what he does with his money. I just know that he is comfortable with his spending and income.

I, however, am a freelancer. My income is erratic. Some months I have a surplus, some months I have a deficit.

This partner will often come over for several days at a time and then go home and we won't see each other for several days at a time again. No set schedule, just whenever we both feel like it. Every so often, he hands me a handful of bills "because I eat your food and I want to help out."

I am free to reject it if I want to, but I know that helping others makes him happy and he can afford what he gives me. I don't expect this money and he gives it to me whenever he feels like it. It's totally no-strings-attached. I have food at the house that he can eat. Sometimes he gives me cash to put towards buying more food.

When we go out, we just automatically assume that we're going dutch, unless one of us says "I got this". And then the other one just smiles and says thank you, and that's it. There is no obligation to pay, and no expectation of payment or of what that payment "means". It just happens when one of us feels like doing it.

He also likes to do repairs around the house. His Love Language is Acts of Service. He'll fix things, like my washing machine when it got vandalized, and he installed a watering system for my plants in my tiny garden. He does these things because that's how he shows that he loves people. He does these kinds of things for *everyone* who mean something to him and who will let him.

One weekend, we drove 4 hours south to a mutual friend's house, climbed an ancient tree in the back yard, and re-rigged this massive potted plant that the previous owners had hung there years before. We had to cut the chain out of the tree branch and re-hang it with padding so that it didn't cut into the tree again. The mutual friend had once mentioned that he was afraid the limb would break during a storm and crash into the house. So, because my partner and I both climb things and hang things for a living, we went down there to fix our friend's tree. Because we love our friend and it made us happy to help.

Then there's the story of my metamour and my AAA insurance. She was concerned for me and had the money at the time. It made her feel better to know that I had emergency roadside service with my car breaking down a lot that year. She paid for one year, I said thank you, and that was the end of it. I didn't expect her gift and she wasn't obligated to do it. She just did because she wanted to. And then she paid for another year. And then another. Each year was an unexpected gift. Finally, one year, she said she couldn't afford it anymore. So I thanked her profusely and told her how much it helped me and that was the end of it.

When my house got broken into and all my electronics were stolen, one of my partners who had some extra cash lying around offered to replace one of them for me. Just a gift, because he knew I needed it.

My ex-sweetie, to this day, asks me to do the driving when we meet up and then he pays for something to compensate for me doing the labor. If we just meet for, say, lunch, then I drive out to him and he pays for my lunch.

When we speak at conferences together and we carpool, he has me drive and then he pays for all the gas because he feels it's a reasonable trade-off for not having to put the wear and tear on his car or do the work of driving. I really like to drive, he really likes convenience and is willing to pay or it.

It's not an expectation, though. If he ever didn't do this, that's OK with me. If I couldn't afford to drive all the way to him, or cover the gas on long trips, I would say so and we'd work out some other arrangements.

I am legally married, but my husband and I have a long-distance relationship. We do everything dutch. We have our own households, we have our own money, we have our own incomes, and we have our own expenses. If we ever *did* have any extra money to give, we would help the other out, because we love each other and relieving the stress of being poor is an act of love.

But we are both freelancers and don't have enough to support another. However, I do pay retail for all of his books so that he gets his royalties. I don't expect free access to his writing just because we're in a relationship together. He never asked me to buy his books. I just do. Because I want to help and I have a thing about supporting artists if I share in their art (y'know, being a starving artist myself, and all).

I never found it very difficult to have a mixture of independence and support from partners, but that's because I tend to date people who have similar views on these things as I do. And, being solo poly, all of my relationships from the very beginning are explicitly not Escalator Relationships. There is never any expectation that moving in together or any of the other entanglements are on the table. Any exchange of money is given and received as an isolated gift without obligation or expectation.

If somebody wants to do something and the other can't afford it, we just say we can't afford it. Then, if the other person can afford to cover both of us, and they *want* to cover both of us, they offer. If they don't, then they don't offer. That's it.

As for large purchases like buying property - I look at these kinds of expenditures as business ventures among colleagues. Lots of people can buy property together. My parents owned a vacation home with our next door neighbors when I was growing up. They are *definitely not* poly. Making purchases or having large expenses is a totally separate thing, to me, from being in a relationship. There is no expectation of "going somewhere" because all kinds of different people make these kinds of purchases.

One of my metamours and her husband (before they were poly) bought a duplex with another couple years ago, and they've shared that house for ages now. People who aren't in relationships spend money on each other all the time. Again, reference my metamour and the AAA subscription. We're metamours, so obviously there's no expectation that we're "going somewhere".

Anything involving finances is a *business* or *legal* matter. It's property law or contract law. That's separate. So we handle things that way. If we wanted to buy property together, it would be as 2 investors buying property together.

Tying the state of our romantic relationship to the state of our shared property seems ... weird to me, and a little bit coercive. "Because we own a house together, you now have to share my bed every night and have sex when I want it because that's just an assumption that goes along with owning a house together."

That's just ... weird. For us, owning a house with someone means only that we own a house together. It doesn't say anything about the state of the relationship, except maybe that we're on good enough terms to own property together.

And we TALK. We talk and talk and talk and talk. We all just *know* that going on vacation together doesn't mean that it's a sign that we're headed for the alter or something (well, except for the time 4 of us *did* take a trip together and 2 of us ended up married, but that was the intention of that particular trip!) We all just *know* that buying property doesn't mean that our romantic relationship is necessarily changing in any way. We know that because we all talk about what these kinds of things mean to us.

Buying property together might change the nature of our relationship, but it doesn't have to change the *romantic* relationship. It means that we are now romantic partners *and* property co-owners. So we would have an additional commitment to paying our share (whatever that arrangement is) and not screwing over the other person financially, but the *romantic* relationship is whatever the romantic relationship is.

I would have the exact same sort of financial commitment to a platonic friend that went in on a large purchase with me, just like my parents had a financial commitment to our neighbors when they all bought that vacation condo together. It *certainly* didn't mean that they were now a polyfi quad or something. They were still just neighbors and friends.

I think that, probably since I've always been this way about money and relationships for as long as I can remember, even as a monogamous teenager, that I can't really conceive of it being any other way. *I* have trouble understanding why helping out a partner when they're having financial difficulties automatically means that the relationship means something different than it did before helping.

Also, I think being poor and having a lot of poor friends helps with that too. A lot of people in my industry are used to fluctuating finances and hard times. So we all kinda keep an eye out for each other and help when we can. Most of us do that with no sense of obligation, because we believe that even if this one friend that we supported doesn't return the favor, somebody else will if we should need support someday.

I had a string of bad luck with housing a couple years back and I had to move 7 times in 2 years. One of my coworkers took me in twice during that time period. No expectations, no obligation, he just wanted to help. He was between homes himself just a year earlier, and some of our other coworkers took *him* in when he needed a place to stay. So he invited me in as "repayment" for all the friends who housed him when he needed it.

The second time I had to stay with him, after I was there for a few months, his bills went up so he asked me to start paying rent. He suggested a reasonable rent amount that was open to negotiation, and I payed until I found my own place to live again. In none of this time was there ever any expectation that our relationship was "going somewhere".

One of my former fuckbuddies is also my car mechanic. He drives the same car and just has a flare for automotive maintenance. He likes messing around with engine parts. I pay for all the parts, he does the labor for free, and this is the case whether we are sleeping together or not.

He was a coworker first. At the time, I was living in one town and working in his town 2 hours away. He used to let me crash on his couch so that I could take several days worth of work in a row and not have to drive 4 hours round trip every day on top of our 12 hour work days. Free of obligation, he just supported me in a way that I needed and that he could provide.

Somewhere along the line, we started sleeping together. And then somewhere along the line, we stopped. In the middle of that, I moved to his town so that I didn't have to commute anymore so I no longer needed couch space, and he started fixing my car. We haven't hooked up in, I dunno, like 6 years now, but he came over last week to work on my car again.

I think if people learned to value their friendships more, these difficulties with entanglements and assumptions would be easier to deal with. When we make our partners into our *entire world* and our whole support system, then we start tying together all of these otherwise unrelated things.

But if we have friends that we can rely on for emotional support, financial assistance, physical labor, emotional labor, etc., and those friendships aren't expected to "go somewhere", then I think we would all be better at developing the tools that protect our relationships from these Relationship Escalator traps.

The people best suited for my nesting partners may not be romantic partners. Good co-parents might be former romantic partners or never-been-romantic partners. Caregivers to disabled people might be best found among our siblings or relatives or platonic friends. A metamour might be the best source for financial assistance during economic downfalls.

There's no reason any of this should be tied to romantic relationships and no reason why romantic relationships should be assumed to be something other than what they are.

My relationships are what they are. Sometimes, we help each other out financially. Sometimes we make legal or financial commitments to each other. Sometimes they are romantic. Sometimes, those things overlap.

joreth: (boxed in)

Q. Is this thing wrong?
A. Yes.

Q. Am I a bad person for doing it?
A. Well, that depends on context.

Q. What should be the consequences or punishment?
A. Uh, first of all, consequences and punishments are two different things. And what they "should" be depends on a LOT of nuance.

This is a problem in a lot of online advice seeking. The answer depends on how you ask the question. A thing can be wrong, but *how* wrong it is, what kind of character you have for doing it, and how you should be treated going forward are all *very very* different.

For instance, is stealing wrong? Yes. But on a scale of all wrong things, stealing a loaf of bread for your starving children isn't as bad as, say, murdering unarmed black people for selling cigarettes.

Is the person who steals a bad person? Well, what is the context for the theft? I used to steal food when I was poor and briefly homeless as a teen. Everyone I know "steals" other people's intellectual property. A lot of people steal office supplies from work. Everyone in these examples also pays taxes, donates to charities, cares for their children (if they have any), has been there in a time of need for a friend, and otherwise exhibits compassion and consideration for others. Except for maybe when they steal something. Does this make them "bad people"?

What about going forward? Can you ever trust someone who steals? They've proven that they're willing to take things that don't belong to them, how do you know that they won't take something of yours? Again, go back to the context. What's the motivation and where is the line after which they justify the action?

What should the consequences or punishments be? Consequences can include legal repercussions and loss of trust. Do those consequences also act as punitive? How about preventative?

The point is that the answers to the question all depend on the framing of the question. Something can be wrong, but what does it really mean to be "wrong"? Is physical violence "wrong"? What about in self-defense? What about in defense of someone who can't defend themselves? What about in defense of a nation? Of an ideal? Of an ideology? What about the best defense being a good offense?

And then there's the confounding element of the other players, such as with the violence question. Hitting people is "wrong", but what if it's the only way to make someone stop hitting you?

I see a lot of people justify cheating by saying that the spouse being cheated on has somehow wronged the cheater first. OK, so that just means that there are two wrong parties, not just one. Doing a bad or wrong thing doesn't absolve the other person from also doing their own bad or wrong thing. Selling individual cigarettes is illegal. Doesn't justify being murdered for it. Jaywalking is illegal. Doesn't justify being murdered for it. Committing a petty crime and running away is illegal. Doesn't justify being murdered for it.

Two wrong people. But also in context, one more wrong than the other.

It's less helpful to ask "is this thing wrong?", because that answer is often a simple "yes" or "no". It's more helpful to ask *why* and *how* it's wrong, because that's where we get to the more interesting answers.

Is lying wrong? Usually yes. But why did the lying happen? Was it someone trying to avoid responsibility for something they did? We can talk about cowardice and selfishness. Was it someone trying to protect the lives of Jews hiding in the basement from Nazi concentration camps? We can talk about when lying is an act of courage.

Is cheating wrong? Yes. But why did the cheating happen? That will tell us where they draw the line that justifies doing a wrong thing, how trustworthy that person is and under what circumstances, and more importantly, what other solutions to the problem other than cheating may be more effective (or at least, more compassionate and ethical).

Rather than ask "is this wrong", ask "what is the context, the motivation, the subtext, the consequences, the responsibility, the goals?"

Is this wrong? Yes. Now what? What do we do with that answer? Well, that depends.

joreth: (polyamory)

A quick explanation of how I have boundaries regarding safer sex practices that don't turn into "rules" or those insidious type of rules that masquerade as "agreements" from a comment I made literally upon waking and not even out of bed yet:

Q. You say you don't have rules or agreements about what people can do with others, but don't your safer sex agreements cover what your partners can do with others?

A. Nope, they address safer sex boundaries *with me*.

All of my relationships are structured to support everyone in being authentic to themselves and any "agreements" are about what "you" can do to *me*, not what "you" can do with others. And even then, those "agreements" are always subject to negotiation. "That thing you said you needed me to do to you? I don't think I can live up to that, so let's talk about our options".

Boundaries are the lines I draw around *myself* and only myself. They are the edges of where I end and the world begins. They tell you how to treat me, and that's it.

Boundaries are if-then statements. Rules are you-will statements. So, my boundaries are "if you take these kinds of precautions with others, then I will have this kind of sex with you" and "if you do these things, then I will not have this kind of sex with you". I do not say "we agree that you (and I) will not do these things with others."

My partners can make whatever choices they want regarding their own bodies, minds, and feelings with regards to other people. Only when it comes to what they do with me do I get a say in it. Then I choose partners who naturally, of their own volition, *prefer* to do the kinds of things that match my boundaries. Then I never have to police anyone, and there is never any punishment nor "breaking" some agreement (which, btw, is one way you know it's a rule in disguise) because I'm not their mother to dictate and punish their behaviour when they misbehave.

My relationships are a Choose Your Own Adventure story. If we make Choice A, the story goes this way. If we make Choice B, the story goes another way. This respects everyone's autonomy and agency at the same time. They are free to make choices about themselves, I am free to make choices about myself, together our choices create our relationship structure.

joreth: (polyamory)

Why do poly people always need to invent new words? What's wrong with all the words we already have?

Because, even when we use the words we already have, people don't understand what we're saying, thanks to narrow gender roles and social expectations.

I'm watching a video where a couple of women are professional dance partners and they're talking about the nature of their relationship. They go by the professional title of The Decavita Sisters (I think - I wasn't really paying attention to their names; a big flaw I have in general). So the interviewer asks about other siblings, and they admit that they're not biological sisters. They're asked to go on, so they talk about meeting "a very, very long time ago" and how close they became very quickly, and eventually they became sisters. "We adopted each other".

The interviewer's next question was "so, are you *together*? Or just dance partners?" The women both look at her and repeat "no, we're sisters. We adopted each other." So the interviewer asks "and you changed your name legally?" They look at her as if to say "well, yeah, we adopted each other, that's kinda what you do," but they answered much more politely with a "yes, it's in our passports."

She then asks whose name they took, so the women have to explain that they made it up, and that they are "the only in the whole world with that name." The interviewer is just stunned and baffled by this. She has no idea what to do with this information. To me, this makes perfect sense. They became sisters, so they are now sisters. I don't understand the confusion. "Sisters" is the relationship that they have, therefore, they are.

I think my adopted background helps me in polyamory. I intuitively recognize families of choice. I have a sister, because we were raised together as sisters. We're not biologically related, but we're still sisters because that's our relationship.

When I was in junior high school, my clique did a thing where we all took on familial titles. I have no idea why we thought this was a good thing at the time, we just did. So I had 3 sons, I think, and a sister, and an aunt maybe? I don't remember them all, just that 3 guys were my "sons". We were all the same age, and there were maybe 10 or 12 of us in this "family". I think I drew out a chart. As I do.

Then, in high school, I had my 5-40 Fone Crew - my besties who all hung around the only pay phone on campus during our lunch break (40 minute lunch break, 5 days a week). Our boyfriends were all friends too (I introduced my friends to his friends when we started dating and everyone kinda just paired up), and we were the first in our school to all have pagers because our boyfriends were older and all had them, so we sat by the phone so we could all send each other l33t-type pager messages. We were also a family of sorts, and we had our own terminology for our group.

I was just in a thread discussing a term for a metamour who is technically no longer a metamour because one or both of you are not dating the person who connected you, but you both still *feel* like metamours (the word is metafore, btw, www.theinnbetween.net/polyterms.html#metafore).

There are 2 uses for the term "metamour" - one that means just the connecting line, which is "one's partner's other partner", and the other that means a special kind of direct connection between two people who have a mutual romantic partner in common. Both are valid and necessary definitions.

Because of the nature of poly relationships, as different from other forms of non-monogamy, which builds more interconnected, entangled, and interdependent types of relationships, it's important to acknowledge our partners' other partners as valid and deserving of recognition. So we have a word to call them.

I really like the fact that my metamours are MY metamours, not "something over there on the other side of my partner that he does that has nothing to do with me". I think there's a certain level of respect inherent in the metamour relationship that other forms of non-monogamy don't require in their partner's other partner relationships.

But this label doesn't tell us what *kind* of relationship we have with each other, just *how* we are connected. I make the analogy to cousins and in-laws: saying that someone is my cousin or my sister-in-law tells you how we are connected via other relationships between us, but it doesn't tell you if we like each other, or get along, or what. But it does tell you that we are *family*.

And I think that's an enormously important concept - the idea of acknowledging and respecting how people are connected to each other without dictating or prescripting how that relationship ought to look.

The other definition *is* about the nature of the relationship. Some poly people don't bestow the label "metamour" without that direct connection between them - usually an independent friendship or a sibling-like bond. We often hear about sister-wives (controversial because of the associations with religiously determined polygyny), and about metamours who see each other as "brothers" or co-husbands, etc.

This is why "metafore" came into being. This is when people feel a special closeness that is related to their shared connection to a mutual partner. It's difficult to really explain, but there is a special quality to the closeness between people who have a romantic partner in common that doesn't exist in any other relationship bond. So when the connection to the mutual partner is severed, that closeness can sometimes remain in spite of the break, because of that shared linkage in our history.

Or, in my case with my 2 metafores, that bond gets even closer when we both went through breakups with our mutual partner. I have people whom I like and respect a great deal who are former metamours, and I have 2 metafores because that bond is unique to that situation of having once been close metamours and remaining in (or strengthening) that close bond.

People ask why we need all these terms. And I think that's because society gives us such strict roles, that anything outside of that role doesn't make any sense without a new word to cover it. Instead, society tries to give us a blanket term, "friend", to cover *everything* from slightly more than acquaintance to "best" friend who can often be a more intimate, stronger bond than romantic partnerships.

Sex And The City, for as problematic as it is, was an excellent example of "friends" who are "more than" the romantic relationships in their lives. No matter what happened in their romantic relationships, their friendships were their anchors, their partners, the core of their lives. That show was instrumental for me in being my first step towards learning to see the relationship between women as valuable, and as necessary, even for tomboy Chill Girls like me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx5N2b94BSk

 

We can't use "friend" because that means too many things, so it doesn't cover it. But, at the same time, we have a culture that privileges romantic couples. Romantic partners are privileged and prioritized above everything else, except possibly the parent / child relationship.

This is why the SATC show was so controversial. The characters were accused of "using men like Kleenex" because all their romantic partnerships took a backseat to their platonic friendships. The only men who made the cut were the ones who basically accepted that they came in second to "the girls".

Normally, if a platonic friendship interferes with a romantic relationship, it is culturally expected that the platonic friendship will have to end unless the romantic relationship isn't The One. Nobody ever asks what happens if the romantic relationship interferes with the platonic friendship. Except abuse specialists.

If you get invited to a wedding, your legal spouse is pretty much automatically invited. I've never heard of anyone sending a wedding invitation to one half of a married couple and then getting upset when they RSVP for the spouse too. But bringing along "just a friend" is very controversial. It's often seen as the "consolation prize" - who you invite when you can't get a date. And you need to ask permission to do so. And it's totally cool for the bride to say no, but saying no to bringing a spouse? That's pretty uncool.

Legal marriage confers a whole bunch of legal rights and responsibilities that are *just not available* through any other means. Like immigration, for example, and not testifying against someone in court. If you try to use these rights, the government makes you "prove" that the person you're using them with is a "legitimate" spouse, meaning a *romantic partner*. If you aren't romantically involved with your spouse, that's actually grounds for an annulment in many areas, which means that the marriage never legally existed in the first place.

This is my entire problem with legal marriage. I should be able to enter into any legal contract with any other person I want, providing we are otherwise eligible to enter into legal contracts with each other. My ability to enter into a contract with someone should not hinge on something as subjective and ethereal and, frankly, nobody's fucking business, as romantic feelings for them. If they are of legal age and "sound" mind to give consent, that's all that should be necessary for entering into a contract with them.

But before I go too far down the rabbit hole of my moral objections to legal marriage, let's get back to the point. If two people seem exceptionally close to each other, we just automatically assume they must be romantically involved. Because romantic couple privilege.

If we call them "friend", it's not descriptive enough, even though it's true, because "friend" covers too many different things. But "friend", for as broad as it is, is also limited in its own way, *because* of that romantic couple privilege. As in, "just" friends. Since romantic couples are privileged, everything else is "just", no matter how close those "friends" actually are.  So we come up with other terms. "Sisters" (but, if you don't have the same parents, how can you be sisters?), soulmates (but that's for romantic relationships!), metamours, anchors, nesting partners, core partners...

We need these terms because we're not *allowed* to be these things otherwise. Two women are supposed to be close because women have certain gendered expectations of their relationships and women (apparently) are all nurturing and emotionally intimate. But they can't be "too" close, because then they'd have to be romantic partners.

We can only understand that level of intimacy without sex as siblings. Never mind the fact that lots of sisters aren't that close. Only "sisters" can be that close. Blood vs. water, and all that (and don't even get me started on the irony of that cliché in context).

I don't really have a point, I think. I just heard this bit of dialog in a video, and it came on the heels of a discussion of metafores and people complaining about yet another poly term and why is it even necessary when we have the word "friend", and I got all annoyed at the interviewer's confusion because our current vocabulary is simultaneously too broad to be clear and too narrow to allow for the diversity of intimate connections.

In other words, our culture is incredibly stunted when it comes to recognizing and accepting intimacy. And that irritates me.

joreth: (dance)

It is my opinion that social partner dancing is *the perfect* activity for poly people. Partner dancing is a conversation; it reinforces consent and active listening and communication; it actively supports multiple partners and good community skills; it's a physical activity that increases endorphins; it rewards effort and personal growth; it provides a pathway for intimacy and vulnerability; it creates an awareness of yourself, your partners, and your effect on others; and it satisfies the Physical Touch Love Language that so many polys seem to speak (possibly why they're drawn to community-based forms of non-monogamy in the first place).

I strongly recommend the movie Alive & Kicking, available now on Netflix (at least in the US, not sure about other countries). It's a documentary about swing dancing, from its origins to its modern day revival.

These are some of my favorite quotes from the documentary because they highlight exactly what I'm always saying about social partner dance and polyamory:

There's a leader and there's a follower. The leader always has to be thinking ahead, planning what they're gonna do next, how they're gonna move the partner. The follower is responding to what the [leader]'s doing and they have this great conversation.

It's a little hard to learn. It's like a lot of good things in life, maybe you have to put in a little work to get to a place where you get tremendous reward.

When you are social dancing swing, there's no choreography. You are dancing to the music that the band is creating.

You have to improvise, you have to negotiate. Kinda like jazz music, this ability to call and respond, to read your partner and see what happens.

You're sharing your imagination with someone else. That's real intimacy. In that moment, you never recreate it, that's what makes it special.

Unlike some dances I've observed that are partner dances but they're very much "I'm on a date with my girlfriend, don't ask her to dance", lindy hop it's understood that everyone dances with everybody. And the more the merrier. I mean I think really if there were a movie called "lindy hop", the tagline should be "the more the merrier".

...

There's an incredible intimacy that forms among strangers. You meet someone for the first time and by the end of the song, you feel like they're finishing your sentences. If I had that kind of connection with someone I met in the grocery store, I'd ask him for his number. But it's not like that. In swing dance, you just move on and then find the next person.

Frankie always called it, like, "3 minute romance". You're just gonna be in love with this person you're dancing with for 3 minutes and it's gonna be amazing, and then you do it again, and again, all night long.

I know that in some areas, the lindy hop community is pretty well saturated with polys and non-monogamists.

But not in all areas, and it doesn't work in reverse - there aren't many *poly* spaces that are saturated with dancers. If I go to a swing dance in the Pacific Northwest, I can be sure to meet a bunch of polys. But if I go to a *poly* meetup anywhere, I can't be sure that I'll meet other dancers, and if I go to any kind of partner dancing here in the South, I'm more likely to meet a bunch of conservative Christians than anything else. And also, lindy isn't the only (or best) style of partner dancing.

And that seems a shame to me because the nature of social partner dancing fits so well with the nature of poly communities. Especially if you expand to *all* forms of partner dancing, not just the acrobatic, elite level of swing dancing highlighted in the documentary.

There are even more elements that I find valuable, such as the reverence the social dance communities have for people of more advanced age that I so rarely see in other areas of society, and the wider community safety net.

So, go watch the show if you have access to it. Maybe it'll inspire you to learn how to dance, or maybe it will help you to understand why I love it so much. It's worth watching, even with the sprinkling of anti-technology sentiment thrown in there (ah, the irony of people who disparage the internet as a form of communication in a documentary that will be disseminated and spread through online viewing & social media, but that's another rant for another day). Roll your eyes at that part, but the movie is worth watching anyway.

joreth: (polyamory)

I had a match available to answer someone's genuine-seeming question on why some of the less-offensive unicorn hunting posts were also picked on. The thread is a good thread, with thoughtful yet passionate responses. My comments aren't that great, because I just typed quickly, trying to answer before I leave my house to the mercy of the coming hurricane. But there are some nuggets in there that I'd like to be able to find again, to write a more comprehensive post on the subject later. It is my opinion that couples-seeking-thirds is *always* coercive and disempowering and cannot be anything else. But it's really hard to explain why. Here are some of my comments touching on why:


Polyamory isn't an add-on to a relationship. Polyamory isn't something that COUPLES do, it's something that PEOPLE do. It's when a "couple" is seeking, as if that couple-relationship is a sentient being of its own. It's when the *relationship* is prioritized above the individual needs of the people.

When the relationship is prioritized over the needs of the individual people in it, and when any relationship requires any one person to have a relationship with someone else, those relationships are fundamentally, inherently coercive in nature.

People get all hung up on the configuration, as if we're complaining about triads, instead of recognizing the *nature* of the relationship itself. Unicorn hunting is coercive and disempowering. It just so happens to most often take the form of a MF couple seeking a bi woman for a triad.

It's not the triad that's the problem, it's the hunting that's the problem.

If you read any material on emotional domestic abuse, stuff that is a clear red flag for mono het relationships are things that the poly community just nods its collective head at, like, "well, sure, that makes sense, you totally need to organize your multi-person relationships that way in order to stay safe! What? It's just our preference! There are no wrong ways to do poly! Stop oppressing me for wanting to oppress others!"

Seriously, read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, and see how many couples-seeking-thirds do these kinds of things to their thirds.

For some reason, poly people like to reinvent wheels. Just because some of us are seeking to dismantle the monogamous paradigm, it doesn't mean that everything we've learned about monogamy needs to also get thrown out. We've learned a lot about what NOT to do, but the larger poly community seems to want to start over completely from scratch.

So now we have to re-learn what coercive relationships look like, because it's somehow "different when we do it". As if having 2 people in positions of power exerting coercive control over a third is less wrong than when one person does it.

Why Does He Do That is a book written by an abuse specialist who specializes in men-on-women abuse. He includes some nods to other demographics, but this is his specialty. It's tempting to write this book off because of that, but I think it's really important not to.

The reason is because men-on-women abuse has an added layer of culturally supported misogyny protecting it, and this book acknowledges that. How intersectional social issues affect abuse in relationships differs among demographics. White cis het men in particular are at the top of the privilege food chain, so it's important to see how all those privileged positions affect their ability to abuse and their type of abuse.

Even though we are polyamorous, we are still living in a monogamous culture. So we have couples privilege on top of all the other layers of privilege. Granted, couples privilege is not even in the same class as race or gender when it comes to oppression, but it is *one more layer* of a privileged class that affects abuse.

This is why I think we can take the lessons we learn from Why Does He Do That and apply it to unicorn hunting. In the microcosm that is polyamory, couples have the cultural support that white cis het men do, so we can draw parallels.

In addition to that, many of those unicorn hunters have white cis het men at the helm, having been steeped in the same culture that protects and excuses the abusers in the book. Throw in some internalized misogyny, and their women partners turn into enablers, funneling and directing the abuse out towards a third even while they are subjected to the very same coercion by their men partners. Like when child abusers turn their victims into accomplices later in life, only less dramatic.

So, as touched on in a comment above, because of the nature of most unicorn hunters just happening to be cis-MF couples (usually white but not always), it's bigger than just individuals being coercive and it's bigger than just "couples privilege".

Unicorn Hunters exist because we live in a culture that, through several axis of privilege and oppression, have spawned this one, little demographic of cis-MF couples seeking thirds that is a culmination of all kinds of intersectional privilege.

Which means that they are *inherently*, definitionally, fundamentally, harmful to the individuals they hunt and to the community as a whole. And this book is relevant for that point.

Related reading:

 

joreth: (boxed in)
Me: I need this information to assess where I should place my boundaries.

Them: It hurts me that you would even ask me about that! Don't you trust me to tell you? Your boundaries make me feel bad. Don't you care about me to let me in?

Me: Sure, it's cool, I'll just do the emotional labor so that you don't feel bad.

If people wonder why I'm so standoffish and hard to get to know on an interpersonal level, this is why. It's easier to keep people at a distance than get into fights over who should be shouldering the burden of emotional labor. If I push, I'm a nag or I'm disrespectful of someone's hurt feelings. If I don't push, then I don't feel safe so I place my boundaries farther out and then I'm "cold" and "emotionally distant". Which hurts their feelings.

When I was a portrait photographer in a studio, I used to have lots of clients bringing in their toddlers and babies. It was my job to make their bratty, cranky, frightened children look like the advertisement photos of baby models who were deliberately selected for having traits conducive to producing flattering portraits (including temperament and parents whose patience was increased by a paycheck). I would spend more time than I was supposed to, patiently waiting for the parents to get their kids to stop crying and fussing.

Every single session, the parents would exclaim how patient I was! How did I do it?! What I couldn't tell them was that I had built a barrier in my head to tune them out. I just ... spaced. I did not notice the passage of time and I wasn't really paying them any attention. I just let my muscle memory control the equipment and make the noises that got kids to look and smile. It's an old trick I adapted from getting through assaults by bullies as a kid - tune out, mentally leave the body, make the right mouth noises to get the preferred response.

That kind of emotional labor management takes a toll. I couldn't express any irritation or annoyance at the client and I couldn't leave to let them handle the kid and the photographing on their own. So I learned to compartmentalize and distance myself while going through the physical motions.

But the price? I now hate kids. I used to like them. I was a babysitter, a math tutor, and a mentor and counselor. I originally went to college to get a counseling degree so that I could specialize in problem teens from problematic homes. Now I want nothing at all to do with kids unless it's an environment where I am teaching them something specific and I can give up on them the moment I am no longer feeling heard or helpful.

That's not what made me not want children, btw. I was already childfree-by-choice at that time. I just still liked them back then. Now I can only stand certain specific kids who are very good natured, interested in my interests, and able to function independently (as in, introverted and not dependent on my attention).

So, yeah, I can do the emotional labor. But the cost is high. Doing the labor for too long, to the point where I have to shut myself off from empathy to bear the consequences of doing that labor, results in my emotional distance.

That's what happened with my abusive fiance. He wanted a caretaker, not an equal partner. Everything I did to remain an independent person "hurt" him. I bent a little in the beginning, as I believe partners are supposed to do for each other. But eventually catering to his feelings while putting my own on the back burner took its toll.

So I shut down. In the end, I was able to watch him dispassionately as he lay on the concrete floor of our garage, supposedly knocked unconscious by walking into a low-hanging pipe conveniently in the middle of an argument. And then calmly walk upstairs without even a glance behind me to see if he was following. He described my breakup with him as "cold", like a machine. I had run out labor chips to give, even to feel compassion as I was breaking his heart.

Of course, I didn't recognize his behaviour as "abuse" until years later, or I might have bothered to get angry instead of remaining cold. Point is, emotional labor isn't free, and if you don't pay for it in cash or a suitably equitable exchange, it will be paid by some other means. I don't mean we should never do emotional labor for anyone, just that it needs to be compensated for because it will be paid one way or another.

Since this method has served to end several relationships with abusive men where I never felt "abused" because it didn't "stick" (I just thought of them as assholes), I don't feel much incentive to change it, even though it would probably be better to either not take on so much emotional labor in the first place (which is hard not to do because I *want* to do some forms of emotional labor in the beginning as an expression of love back when I'm still expecting a reciprocal exchange) or to leave or change things before I run out of fucks to give.

But I do eventually run out of fucks to give and I do eventually stop taking on too much emotional labor. And it always seems to surprise people when I do. Because I was so accommodating before so that I wouldn't push "too hard" or seem "too selfish". But that always comes with a price. People are often surprised to learn that.

joreth: (polyamory)

Q. If monogamous people have to restrict themselves to just one partner in order to be monogamous, how come polyamorous people can still be poly even if they only have one partner or no partners?

The definition of polyamory is not "Must be in a romantic relationship with 2 or more people at all times." Monogamous people are also still monogamous even when they have no partners. It's about the *kind* of relationships they prefer, desire, or have the capacity to have, not a requirement on the number of partners people must have at all times. That a why it's still poly even if someone only has 1 partner.

A straight person is still straight even when they're not in a relationship. A bisexual person is still bisexual even when they only have partners of one gender at the moment.

And everyone is still whatever they are when a relationship breaks up and new relationships have not yet been found. It takes time and effort to find compatible partners. Just because someone happens to not know anyone compatible for a relationship at the moment (even if that "moment" lasts a long time, like years), it doesn't change *who they are as a person*.

There is also a difference between what a *person* is, and what a *relationship* is. A poly *person* is about the kind of relationships they prefer, desire, or have the capacity to have, while a poly *relationship* is about the kind of other relationships that the people in this relationship are available to have by the nature of this relationship's configuration.

A relationship is a Thing with needs and limitations all by itself. If a *relationship* is open to its participants having other partners, but any of the *participants* is not open to having other partners at the moment, the *relationship* is still poly. For instance, a relationship can be open and poly, but maybe someone in the relationship is polysaturated and doesn't have time for any more partners. That individual person not being open to more partners doesn't make the *relationship* less open.

Or if a relationship is open to its participants adding more partners but someone is in the middle of their doctorate program and also working to put themselves through school and maybe doesn't even have the time or emotional resources to maintain the one partner that they have - that *relationship*, and even that *person* can still be poly, they're just tapped out of resources at this moment in time.

And if a relationship is open to its participants adding more partners but one of the participants simply *does not* prefer, desire, or have the capacity to have multiple loving, romantic relationships, this can be a mono person engaging in a poly relationship - the *relationship* is open to that person having more and to the other people in the relationship having more, whether any individual wants to or not. Just as a poly person, who prefers, desires, or has the capacity to have multiple loving, romantic relationships, can *choose* their behaviour to limit themselves to a monogamous relationship.

Polyamory is not Pokemon! Go - we are not here to "catch them all". With all the other things going on in our lives, we can self-limit the number of romantic partners that we have to whatever functions best in our lives and still be poly in nature, just the way that straight people who are not dating anyone right now because they want to focus on these other important things in their lives are still straight even when they're not currently dating anyone.

Monogamous culture, at this point in time and in this region, sees "dating" like an interview process. This allows people who prefer, desire, or have the capacity to romantically love only one person at a time, to *date* more than one at a time (a behaviour, as opposed to a preference), providing that they are in the process of winnowing them down. It's OK (says monogamous culture), to interview a bunch of people at once, because the goal is to optimize your time by dating a bunch of people in order to find The One out of the interviewees. They are trying to identify *which one* of the group is The One they will love forever.

We even have several popular television shows with this very premise - The Bachelor goes out on a bunch of dates with a bunch of women, but his goal is to find out which one of the 20 (or whatever) is his Soulmate and pick The One out of the crowd. These people are monogamous, even though they are deliberately dating multiple people at once.

It's because of the *kind* of relationships they prefer, desire, or have the capacity to have. The multiple dating thing is a *vehicle* to eventually get to the type of relationship they ultimately prefer. Whereas, for polys, the multiple dating thing isn't a tool to get to the preferred type, it's the point all by itself.

Or, they may be between "serious" relationships but still enjoying sexual encounters. This kind of "dating around" in monogamy also doesn't include big-L Love, so it doesn't "count". Although, this kind of setup *is* debatable among monos - some would not count this as acceptable within the Monogamous Paradigm.

Behaviour and internal inclination are not the same thing. Everyone behaves in ways contrary to their natural inclinations all the time, and for a lot of different reasons, many of which include social cohesion like following traffic laws when we'd rather drive faster or asking permission or paying for something before taking it rather than just taking it because we want it. We can make choices for our behaviour that do not necessarily align with our preferences. It doesn't change our preferences.

When gay people are so closeted that they don't even admit it to themselves, they often go their entire lives in hetero marriages, become biological parents to children with opposite sex partners, etc. That doesn't make them straight. It makes their *behaviour* appear to be straight, and they can have any number of reasons for choosing to do this, including fearing for their lives.

Polyamory is not about how many partners you have. If that was the only criteria, then we wouldn't need swinging, RA, monogamish, or any of the other labels of non-monogamy that's out there. Technically, we wouldn't need the word "polyamory" because we had other words for multiple partnerships long before polyamory came around. We came up with the term precisely because we wanted to differentiate between the *kinds* of multiple partnerships that we were having and the *kinds* of multiple partnerships that other people were having. It was never about the numbers, it was about what those numbers represented.

It's about the *kind* of relationships that you have. One of those important criteria is how the person in question handles *their partner* having other partners. If they prioritize a primary couple and insist that their partner only have casual sex with people they meet at parties intended for hooking up with casual partners, and they only have sex with the hookups together as a couple - that person probably isn't poly, they're probably one specific type of swinger. But they have multiple partners, so it's not about the numbers, it's about the nature and the criteria of those partners. If they revel in their partner's autonomy, encourage their romantic interest in others, view metamours as potential opportunities instead of competition, and feel compersion, that person is probably poly even if they aren't romantically involved with anyone else at the moment.

They could also be any number of other things, like a swinger, a kinkster, a sex worker, etc. - one person can enjoy, prefer, or desire different kinds of relationships. That makes them all of the labels, it doesn't disqualify them from all of those labels. Some are mutually exclusive - so one can't be both a monogamist and a polyamorist at the same time, but most of them are not mutually exclusive; the different types of non-monogamy labels just clarify a certain type of non-monogamy that a person can like, and just like a person can like different kinds of desserts, a person can also like different kinds of non-monogamy.

There are a lot of things that go into whether or not a person is poly or mono, not just how many people they're dating. In my opinion, the actual number of partners at any given time is the *least* important of the criteria to determining if someone is poly or not. How they feel about metamours, what *kinds* of relationships they prefer to have, their ethics on interpersonal dynamics - all of these things are more important.

Someone looking at a relationship group from the outside and only counting the number of people can't tell any of that stuff, which is why we can't label other people's relationships without their input on themselves.

joreth: (being wise)

As a kid, I grew up on Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Crystal Gale. That was '70s country. Crystal Gale is the reason I gave to my parents, when I was finally old enough to articulate rather than just scream and throw a tantrum, how much I hated having my hair cut. I had my own 8-track stereo in the room I shared with my sister and a stack of cartridges with these '70s country icons (among others).

Then, as I started going to school and became aware of the social strata of popularity, I decided that I wanted to be one of the "cool kids". So I dumped the country in favor of Madonna, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, Corey Hart, and Culture Club.

Then, around 8th grade, I hit my rebellious phase and decided that being "cool" wasn't cool anymore, so I got into edgier music like glam rock, hard rock, and metal. If my mom wanted to throw the album in the trash, I thought it was great - Poison, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Lita Ford, Def Leppard, Megadeath, Slayer, Skid Row, Ratt, etc.

But I still secretly harbored an interest in country. I wouldn't even admit this to myself, but it's true. And then, in my junior year, I found myself at a school dance with two guys who were vying for my attention, both of whom were total metalheads. We were standing in the courtyard as I desperately tried to make this encounter less awkward, when the Alan Jackson song, Chatahoochie, came over the speakers.

These two blond haired guys wearing ripped, stone-washed jeans, black band t-shirts, and heavy leather motorcycle boots playing passive-aggressive dominance games with each other both immediately stopped their one-upmanship, looked at each other, and shouted in unison "Chatahoochie!" and ran back inside the building together, while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

Still under the mesmerizing sway of popular opinion (only now it was the "we're all so unique that we reject the mainstream in exactly the same way" type of "popular"), I decided that if these two rockers could like country music, that was enough permission for me to like it again. So I got into country music right then and there, with Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill.

About a year or two later, I was driving my sister around (who was not *quite* old enough for her license yet to drive herself). She liked rap and hip hop, which bothered the hell out of me. I couldn't stand the lack of melody lines and complex harmonies and the overwhelming percussion to almost the exclusion of any other instrument.

But it was my car, so it was my music. I don't remember if a Dixie Chicks song came on the radio and my sister expressed an interest in it, if the song was on one of my mix tapes, or if *she* put the music in herself. But somehow or another, she ended up admitting to liking the Chicks "because they're not really country".

So I said to her, "honey, they're bluegrass! They're more country than any of these other country stars on the radio!" She insisted that she didn't like country music, just the Chicks, who didn't "count".

This is the first memory I have of noticing the inconsistencies with the phrase "I like everything but country and rap". How could anyone like bluegrass music but not "country"? And then, a popular country song hit the charts that was released as a hip hop ballad almost at the same time. It was exactly the same, except for the accents of the singers - white twang vs. "urban" (i.e. "black").

This song became huge radio hits on their respective stations, but I noticed that A) most people had no idea that there was a version in the genre that they "hated", and B) when they did find out, they were outraged and they "hated" the other version in spite of using almost the exact same backing track and being nearly identical except for the singers' accents.

That started me down the path of learning about how the different genres influenced each other, which led me to the history of music in general (well, that and I was forced to take a Musical Theory class, which didn't actually teach us much "theory" (which I got more from my piano teacher) but did spend the whole semester traveling through time showing us how music genres begat other music genres), which finally led me to the conclusion that people who "like everything but country and rap" are full of shit. Including myself.

I have never been able to articulate why this now bugs me so much. I spend a lot of time rambling about the frustration of people who just don't know their music history. But this article simplifies the whole thing. This isn't just a widespread musical ignorance, it's a deliberate marketing decision to racially segregate an industry. And we all buy into it, literally almost a century later.

"That’s when the “everything but country” comment started to bug me. I figured people just weren’t trying, heard Toby Keith on the radio, and changed the station. Still, I couldn’t understand how some of the people I knew who were deeply interested in music like I was couldn’t see the light and recognize the worth of country music."

"“Everything but country and rap” at its core is a class issue. I just needed someone else to say it, and it confirmed why it had been bugging me. ... Where there’s class issues, there are race issues. This is no surprise. But that’s where the story of “everything but country and rap” starts: a formal racial division."

"When popular recorded music was first able to be distributed and marketed in the 1920s, a decision had to be made. This is the South-- do we keep all of the blues-based music together? That would mean white and black in one category. It was an easy answer at the time: no. This created two, in Hubbs’ words, “racially distinct marketing categories:” hillbilly and race."

"While they seem completely separate, hip hop and country sit on the extremes of the spectrum of popular musical genres, and find themselves subject to many of the same criticisms. This, to me, threw open the door on why “everything but country and rap” is a bigger deal than it seems. Authenticity is important in both musical communities, both policed inwardly and from outside listeners."

“Authenticity seekers today reject modern commercial country and its market-driven anything-goes stylistic idiom, idealizing past artists and purist notions of a genuine folk idiom,” Hubbs explains. In embracing this fantasy, listeners forget that “country has always been a commercial music.”

"To admit you like country music is admitting you like something inherently and purely working class, which jeopardizes your status as middle class. ... The middle class white actively avoid identifying with country music and hip hop because it represents something they’re afraid of being perceived as: something other than white, and something lower than middle class."

"Country and hip hop are seen as extremes: one very conservative, religious, and traditional, and the other vulgar and violent. ... These blanket statement topics are how the cultural majority is taught to interpret these genres. There’s no discussion that these are very rich groupings of music, with many vibrant subgenres of their own. ... The anxiety that causes people to avoid being fans of these genres, however, prevents understanding this. It all sounds the same because it all sounds different than what you listen to."

I've been trying really hard over the last several years to describe the sounds that I like or dislike, rather than blindly listing entire genres. I prefer melodic music, even better if it's in my own vocal range. I also like catchy hooks, and I also like complex harmonies and intricate interplay among different instruments. This means that I do occasionally like some songs that fall under the "rap" and "hip hop" genre titles because these are rich and diverse genres that sometimes incorporate these elements.

I don't like "country" so much as I like the sound of fiddles, banjos, and Southern accents, specifically. I am more likely to find that in country music, but not always. I also like blues bass lines, so I'm also going to find that in a lot of country music, because what's more "white culture" than appropriating "black" art?

After my departure from pop music into rock and metal, I adopted the typical rocker arrogance (which has since turned into hipster snobbery) where I didn't like anything "popular" because "everyone else liked it" (completely oblivious to the immense popularity of my own hard rock idols who filled stadiums with thousands and thousands of fans).

It has taken me a really long time to finally admit that I do actually like pop music. When I first started admitting to it, I tried to soften the revelation by saying that I only got into it because I do ballroom dancing, and we have an aging-out problem. It's really hard to continue bringing in new dancers when the dance style is an older style associated with older music.

So, as you might have noticed if you watch Dancing With The Stars, a lot of dancers have been dancing to modern pop music, partly in an effort to attract newer, younger dancers, but also because some of those dancers *are* new and younger and that's the kind of music they like.

If someone looked at me sideways for having a pop song or artist on my playlist, I would shrug and say "I'm a dancer. I build playlists, and this is what brings people in." But, honestly? It's on my playlist because I fucking like the song. Maybe not my YouTube playlists, which are deliberately built to introduce people to partner dancing and get them to learn how to identify rhythms suitable to each dance style.

But my personal playlists on my iPod contain songs that I like to listen to. And yeah, I have music from Nickleback, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and about half the former-Disney-bubblegum-artist squad. That music is commercially successful because it capitalizes on sounds *that people like to hear*.

So here is yet another rant on why I dislike when people dismiss entire genres of music when I know that they haven't put in the time to actually experience those genres. You can't always help the sounds that you like or dislike, and that's not what I'm talking about. I don't care if you don't like the sound of a fiddle. But that's not "country music". I don't care if you don't like lyrics that "glorify violence", but that's not "rap music".

What has bothered me about the "I like everything but country and rap" is something that I didn't have the words to explain - this is an inherently classist and racist attitude that was deliberately, consciously, developed in our society by a commercial mega-industry for the two-fold purpose of increasing profits and solidifying bigotry in our society.

http://www.runoutnumbers.com/blog/2015/11/16/everything-except-country-and-rap

(One of these days, I still want to put together an audio quiz with little snippets of songs and challenge people to identify the song as country or not, because I bet that people who don't listen to the genre and don't recognize the songs won't do well on that test.

I also plan to put together a YouTube video of snippets of songs that exemplify the different subgenres of country music, to show the diversity of the genre - Zydeco sounds WAY different from Beach Country which sounds way different from Southwestern Country which sounds way different from Pop Country which sounds way different from this new rap/sing-talk/country crossover thing, and sometimes it's *really* hard to tell if a song is bluegrass or Irish folk music.)

joreth: (polyamory)

www.quora.com/My-wife-is-interested-in-and-Im-open-to-polyamory-with-a-second-man-How-do-you-bring-a-healthy-third-person-into-an-existing-marriage

My wife is interested in and I'm open to polyamory with a second man. How do you bring a healthy third person into an existing marriage? We are not having children and are not close to our biological families, but all of our friends have or are moving away. We miss having “family” and there are times that two just doesnt feel like enough. We both have attraction to men but have no desire to replace the other.

I’m answering this because I see this sort of thing all the time, where someone asks “how do I?” about polyamory, and a bunch of people say “you’re going about it the wrong way, do it this way instead” and the person asking the question gets upset that no one is validating their approach.

Which is ridiculous because the person asking the question is asking that question precisely because they don’t know the answer. Listen to the collective wisdom of those who have been there, done that.

The word polyamory has been around for 27 years. We’re now onto multi-generational poly people. That’s a LOT of accumulated wisdom. Don’t dismiss it just because you don’t like what it says, the way so many others have.

I’m answering this to add one more voice, so that it’s harder to say “these are all just opinions and I don’t have to listen to them”. It’s not *just* opinion. It’s *experience*. And it’s experience earned the hard way.

  1. Don’t try to “bring someone into our marriage”. You can’t. It’s impossible. You do not “add a third” to an existing relationship, you create all new relationships. Even your existing marriage will be recreated as a totally new relationship that’s now “open”. Treat each dyadic relationship (of which there will be 3) as their own entity that requires nourishment and care, and then treat the relationship among the 3 of you (whether it’s a triad or a Vee arrangement) as *it’s* own entity that needs nourishment and care.

    Yes, you read that right, when 3 people get into a relationship, you have 4 whole new relationships to care for. You do not “add a third” like simply pouring in a new liquid into an existing drink and it all blends together into one drink.

  2. The phrase “healthy third person” reveals a pretty sex-negative, abled bias. That’s going to come across pretty poorly when you start engaging with poly communities. Go do a LOT more research on sexual stigma, body positivity, and ableism.

  3. Join poly communities - as many as you can make time for (at least one being in-person). Regular discussion group attendance is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you really need to know other poly people to develop good poly skills. You need to see how others are succeeding (or failing) and you need to know people who understand and accept polyamory as a choice (because even compassionate mono people just don’t have that mindset or that experience to really empathize and see the joys and problems of what you’re about to experience).

    Being isolated is one of the tools of abuse. This doesn’t mean that I’m saying you’re being abusive. It means that abusers understand how important it is to have a support network and to have more objective sets of eyes looking in on a relationship to see things that the people in the relationship are too close to the situation to see. Abusers understand how important these things are, and that’s why they try to remove these things from their victims.

    You don’t want to unintentionally put yourself in the same sort of dangerous situation that abusers try to create intentionally. You need a support network that extends beyond your romantic relationship and you need people who can see your relationship from other angles outside of the relationship. That’s a tool for mental health and relationship health. Join communities to meet other poly people and build a support network. If you don’t like structured discussion group meetings, go long enough to make friends and build up a social network through the group.

  4. Don’t join groups for the purpose of meeting your potential partner. Sure, if you want to meet someone who is open to polyamory, you’ll have more luck if you’re in spaces where poly people gather. But going to these groups in order to *use* the group as a dating service is usually both poor etiquette and off-putting (unless the group is specifically labeled as some kind of poly dating service).

    In general, going out for the purpose of finding someone is less successful than just being yourself and doing things socially. People don’t generally like being interviewed and then hired for the job of Your Next Partner, and that’s what it feels like when you go out “looking”. But people *do* generally like meeting people who share their interests and values and are interesting people doing interesting things. So go out and be interesting and meet people. Dating partners will *eventually* follow from that. And if you just go out and be interesting, you might be surprised at all the different places you will end up meeting partners.

  5. Speaking of job positions, don’t treat people as things. Again, people are generally attracted to those they find interesting. They are not here for you to use. They do not exist to fulfill your desires. They are not supporting characters in your story. They are whole and complete humans and deserve to be treated as such. They are the main characters in their own stories. A lot of newbies go out and say “we’re looking for someone who can do these things and be this way and likes this stuff”. Try shifting your perspective away from what the other person can do for you, to what *you* can offer in a relationship to another person. That’s not the end, that’s just the start, but do that first before you get to the next part of that equation.

  6. Don’t decide ahead of time what the relationship ought to look like and then try to find people to fit into that idea. Again with the “the people you date are real people” thing. The happiest, most successful relationships are those that built organically, over time, based on what *all* the people in the relationships want and need and negotiated. Just meet people and listen to what the *relationship* is telling you that it wants to be. Most people find themselves surprised to be happy in configurations that they didn’t anticipate, mainly because people really suck at predicting what will make them happy. It’s not the configuration that brings happiness, it’s the people. The “correct” configuration develops from the people, not the other way around.

  7. Don’t try to “protect our marriage”. You can’t. Even if you remain monogamous, you can’t. Shit happens and Game Changers exist. All the promises you make to each other don’t mean anything to the #10 bus with broken brakes that comes careening around the corner and into your car. All the rules in the world won’t save you from cancer. All the agreements you agree to won’t stop one of you from leaving if you change who you are or what you want over time. Ask anyone now sitting in divorce court how well that “promise to love and honor until death do we part” really lasts when someone decides it’s not what they want to do anymore.

    Your marriage will work, or not work, because of the two of you in it, not because of some other person. If you try to “protect” your marriage against your third person, first of all it won’t work because it has nothing to do with them, and second of all, you can’t ever fully engage in a romantic relationship with another person if you are simultaneously viewing them as a “threat”. That is a barrier to intimacy and a Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. Most people will not want to take that role anyway, and those who do will be in a fundamentally disempowered relationship.

    If you want someone to give you their heart, you have to be just as vulnerable and just as intimate as you expect them to be. They can’t open up and fully trust you with their heart if you think of them as a threat and put up barriers to them in the interests of “protecting our marriage”. Their relationship with you deserves all the same potential to develop as your marriage did when you first met your now-spouse.

    Which also means that once you decide to “open up”, if you leave yourself a back door by agreeing to dump partners if one of you thinks it’s not working out, or if you think you need to “work on our marriage”, you’re treating other human beings as disposable, which is not giving them the same potential, not treating them as whole human beings deserving of intimacy and vulnerability, etc. Don’t do this.

    If you decide to “open up”, then you’re open. If you’re not involved with anyone else and you want to go back to monogamy, that’s one thing, but dumping existing partners for the sake of your marriage is doing all of these things here that we are all saying are bad ideas. Frankly, your other partners deserve better than what you’re offering if you’re willing to do this.

  8. And related to the previous one, don’t do “rules”. Don’t even make “agreements” when the “agreement” is something about what you can or can’t do with another person, especially if that other person isn’t yet present to give their input. Talk to *each person* (your spouse, your future partner, etc.) about how *they want to be treated*, and then treat them that way. “I want you to not have sex with that person” is not a statement on how I want to be treated, just FYI. Discuss what things you can and can’t do *to that person directly* - that’s what getting consent looks like and that’s what boundaries are. But don’t make decisions (whatever word you use to label them) with one person about what you will or won’t do *with another person*. That’s treating people as things, which we’ve already discussed in several comments and at length in this own comment.

    Nobody should have less power to negotiate what you can and can’t do to or with them than someone who isn’t you or them.

Remember, when you go to a community and say that you want to do something, and a bunch of people in that community try to tell you that it’s not a great idea, don’t dismiss it just because it was "too long; didn’t read", or because they had an attitude and you didn’t like their tone, or because everyone is being “too negative” towards you, or because you’ve thought about it a lot and you’re pretty sure this is what you want to do in spite of their objections.

If the people in the community are telling you that an idea you have isn’t a great idea, listen to them. They’re probably telling you that for a reason. And being new to the community, no matter how smart you might be or how much you’ve thought about the idea, the collective experienced community is probably in a better position to be able to predict how well your idea will work in practice. Lots of things sound good on paper, but when the rubber meets the road, we already know how it plays out because we’ve done it and seen it a million times before.

Don’t “add someone to our marriage”. Start a whole new set of relationships with your spouse and your future partner.

Also, read More Than Two (www.morethantwo.com)

joreth: (polyamory)

This is one of those ageless questions that have been going around the poly forums for DECADES. Well, ok, 2 decades tops, because the word itself is only 27 years old as of this article, and it certainly can't have been very common when literally everyone was a n00b. The point is that ever since some people felt that they had enough experience under their belt to only want to date other people with similar experience, baby polys have been getting their feathers ruffled at the thought that experienced people might not want to date them.

Every so often, one of them stomps into a forum, crosses their arms, and pouts at us, demanding to know what's so wrong with dating newbies, and how are they ever supposed to learn anything if experienced polys won't date them (sounding very much like entitled white boys demanding to know how they're supposed to learn about feminism or racism if we won't drop everything and explain it to them in the tone they prefer or getting upset if women or people of color say they don't want to date cis white boys anymore because it's too much work). And then, no matter what we answer or how we answer it, somebody gets huffy at the response that they are not entitled to our wisdom, knowledge, experience, or emotional connection. This very reaction is exactly why poly vets use the phrase "don't date the newbies".

Although that phrase is popular, it's also not entirely accurate. This is a culmination of several comments I made on the subject that I hope will answer the question sufficiently to just refer back to this over time.

The short answer is that it's an issue of ethics, entitlement, emotional resources, roles within relationships / separation of roles, emotional labor, burnout, and boundaries.
 



Q. Why won't poly veterans date newbies? How else are we supposed to learn? What's wrong with teaching newbies?

#DoNotDateTheNewbies #DateYourSpecies

It's not that vets don't want to teach, it's that vets don't usually want to teach *the person we're dating*. I've been poly for more than 20 years. I don't date newbies anymore precisely because I can't mix the Mentor role with the Partner role anymore. It creates an unequal power dynamic (that isn't consensual PE, which is equal, by definition, because it's an *exchange* of power) and I just can't do it anymore.

Teaching and dating at the same time is VERY emotionally exhausting and also creates an unethical situation because of a built-in uneven power dynamic. Those of us who have been around a while have learned the hard way to separate our teaching from our personal lives. A dead giveaway that someone is a newbie is someone who doesn't understand the danger of uneven power dynamics in romantic relationships. You'll see this in other forms of uneven power dynamics too, not just the vet / newbie one. Just asking the question, or not seeing power dynamics in relationships, or not seeing the danger in them, is an obvious sign that someone is new, or at least inexperienced and ignorant which is often shorthanded to "new".

You get your mentoring and instruction from a mentor and from other resources like online forums, books, discussion groups, etc. Then you can go back to your romantic relationships as a *partner*, not as a child / student. Most of us vets have no problem teaching. Most of us vets lead workshops, write blogs and books, and even take on a student in a mentorship role.

We don't mind teaching. We mind teaching *our partners*.

If we didn't want to teach, we wouldn't be here, on the internet, in these groups with y'all newbies. We'd all start backing out and making our own vets-only groups if we didn't like newbies and didn't like teaching them. Kinda like some weird, poly Logan's Run, where our palm crystals turn red when we've reached a sufficient poly vet age and we all ascend to a magical poly vet carousel in the sky to be with other poly vets, leaving only the children behind to govern themselves. As much as I might like to do that some days, remember how well that ended for Logan and his people?

And there absolutely are vets who back away from poly groups. After a while, they tire of having the same conversation over and over again, and they've been doing this long enough that they have a dynamic, active, supportive group of people who grok their style of relationships, and they just withdraw from the "poly community" because they're' too busy just living life and loving their extended families of choice. So those of us still here, it's not the teaching that bothers us, it's the context in which the teaching is requested or demanded.

I think that there may be a difference between poly vets and poly vets who are also community leaders. I would bet that a lot of poly vets who are also media spokespeople or lecturers or who teach workshops or who are intersectional activists - I would bet that those are the poly vets who are less likely to want to date newbies. But poly people who aren't activists and educators but who have just been poly for a while - I would bet that those people probably have more emotional resources for mentoring in their romantic relationships.

I'm an educator and activist. I need to be able to let that role go in my romantic relationships.

Also, this whole vet / newbie thing isn't binary. It's not like all vets are 20+ year vets and all newbies are 3-month old infants, and we're all set up across some imaginary line in opposition to each other. Someone who has never had a poly relationship before can still get into a relationship with an experienced person. Someone who has only been doing poly for a few months or a couple of years might feel "new" but might have garnered a lot of experience in that time and be well-suited to someone who has been technically poly for many years but has little experience. 3 years, 5 years, 8 years, - that's a lot of experience to draw on.

And not all vets are also *educators*. Vets who don't also write, blog, teach, mentor, give lectures and workshops, etc. and/or who aren't also educators in other, probably intersectional, subjects, don't reach burnout as fast. So you'll find people with lots of lived experience still willing to date newbies and also some who are willing to play the mentor at the same time.

Poly people are people, which means that they are diverse. There are all kinds of people at all levels of experience - people with little experience but who are still good at poly, people with lots of experience but who are still bad at poly, people who like to teach regardless of how long they've been doing it or how good they are at it, people who don't particularly like to teach no matter how long they've been doing it or how good they are at it, solo polys, RAs, hierarchical polys, 2nd generation millennial polys, aging hippie polys, just discovering poly after 40 years of monogamy polys, asexual polys, queer polys, straight cis polys, polys with mental illness, kinky polys, closeted polys, Libertarian polys, etc. All of these different kinds of people can be put into broad categories, and come with likely pros and cons of getting into relationships with them.

But the *specific* problem of mixing a Mentoring role into my romantic relationships is a set of cons that I no longer have the patience to deal with. Many other vets come to similar conclusions about their own energy and resources. I find that it's personally exhausting in a way that some other sorts of problems aren't, and I find it ethically questionable to have that sort of power dynamic embedded in my relationships.

Not that every single person who has been poly for more than a certain amount of time who is dating someone who has been poly for less than a certain amount of time *necessarily* has this exact same ethically questionable power dynamic. It has been pointed out in other contexts that being poly doesn't make one "enlightened" and there are certainly people who have been "doing poly" for a long time who still lack the advanced relationship skills, and who lack the power behind a community-held authoritative position.

But *I* am not a beginner relationship. I am not *just* a 20-year vet, I am also a 20-year *activist*, educator, and spokesperson. I *train other vets* on how to be even more advanced vets! I have a position of respect and authority in the poly community (or, at least, of notoriety), which adds weight to my side of any power dynamic that any relationship I engage in might have.  Even people who aren't that good at relationships but are pretend famous on the internet have a degree of power in relationships, because of that fame, that automatically influences their partners.

To me, dating newbies is like a tenured teacher who also sits on board at the school and has a vote in making policy or in deciding curriculum or in influencing the status or experience of other people in some way who then dates their under-age student who is in their class. It's an unethical power dynamic for *me*, and people in similar positions, to do it.  Since my whole interest in polyamory is in *ethical* non-monogamy, I choose not to deliberately add unethical power dynamics into my relationships when it's something I can avoid.

And because I spend so much time educating, I am totally out of the emotional resources to do it at home. Other problems that I might encounter with experienced people don't tax my reserves the way that *educating my lovers* in the basics does.

I mean, I still have to educate everyone I date on who *I* am as a person because that's part of getting to know people and finding out shared paths. But they're doing a reciprocal educating of me about them, so it's more of an equal exchange. I don't have the patience to add Poly 101 on top of that. That specific form of emotional labor is too much for me. I have other forms of emotional labor that are also too much for me, like teaching Feminism 101.

I shouldn't have to have debates and lessons *with my own lovers and partners* about whether or not I am an equal human being deserving of rights and equal treatment. When I get into a relationship with someone, I expect them to already have some of the basics down, like how to be ethical in a relationship. And those lessons on ethics are often the same lessons, whether we're talking about feminism, racism, or poly relationships - not treating people as things - so it's just tiring and frustrating to have to have those lessons with people I'm being emotionally intimate with at the same time.

I have other problems with experienced polys. But, 1) that wasn't the question, and 2) I can more easily deal with, and recover from many of those kinds of problems. I need partners who have a history I can verify, other partners I can check in with, and who have ties to poly communities. Those don't necessarily guarantee that they have all the skills I'm looking for in a partner, but it gives me more avenues to *verify* that they have the skills and more accountability for when they don't, and I don't have to spend time in my romantic relationships having the same annoying conversations that I end up in online, like repeating for the millionth time what the difference between polyamory and polygamy or poly and swinging is. By the time he's been poly for a few years and had a couple of partners, I don't have to tell him to check the glossary anymore.

Franklin's post about dating black belts is a good summary. A black belt isn't someone who has *mastered* it all. A black belt is someone who is proficient in the basics and now has enough knowledge to grasp just how much more they have to learn. A black belt in relationships is basically someone who can compensate for the Dunning-Kruger Effect (although he doesn't mention that term in the article) - it's someone who has enough education and training to be able to see how much they still don't know and to be confident in the skills they do have with a reasonable degree of accuracy.  I can have a student who is learning how to become a black belt, and I can have a partner who *is* a black belt, but they are mutually incompatible roles in my life. I can't have a partner who is also my student. It's too much work and it's unethical to date your students.

I also make a distinction between "well, I've never heard of it but I want to date you so I guess I can try it" newbies and "YOU MEAN THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE ME?! I’M NOT ALONE AND I CAN FINALLY EXPRESS ALL THESE FEELINGS I'VE ALWAYS HAD BUT OTHER PARTNERS MADE ME SUPPRESS?!" newbies. The latter type may be technically "new" to the word and the community, but they very often have the more advanced skills that I'm looking for because they often keep trying to find a way to turn their relationships into poly-like relationships except only with 1 sex partner at a time.

That's how I was when I first discovered the word back in the '90s and how one of my current partners was when I introduced him to poly 13 years ago (10 years before we actually started dating). When most of the reactions to my teaching are "there's a word for what I'm already doing?", I wouldn't really call that person a newbie. I usually call them "isolated polys", because they're naturally, inherently poly or have already received many of the skills necessary for healthy poly relationships, they just didn't know that they weren't alone.

But when the conversations are filled with "wait, why can't I call it polygamy again?" and "but I still don't understand how you can say you love me if you have sex with him!" and "can't we just have some rules in place so I can learn first, like training wheels?" and "I don't see why I need to talk to some strangers in a discussion group when I have you," I just can't anymore.

There are some common pitfalls when vets date newbies:

  • The newbie constantly feels that they are never good enough;
  • The newbie feels that they are being held to standards they can't possibly be expected to reach yet and may not even be possible;
  • The newbie feels like they can't just enjoy the relationship because everything gets turned into another lesson;
  • The newbie starts to feel like a project;
  • The newbie starts to feel like their partner can't relate to them or doesn't understand how hard things are for them;
  • The newbie feels that they are being controlled by the more experienced partner or molded to fit the experienced partner's vision of polyamory instead of learning to find their own vision of their poly self.
  • The vet constantly feels like they're a parent in a romantic relationship;
  • The vet can feel frustrated that they have to revisit lessons that they've already covered or already learned themselves the hard way, like they're doing double the work;
  • The vet can lack patience;
  • The vet can feel held back from their own personal growth because there's nobody around to challenge *them*;
  • The vet can reach burnout and lose empathy;
  • The vet can feel that there is pressure to always be the Perfect Poly Partner because they are more experienced so they can't ever make mistakes of their own;
  • The vet may have trouble relating to the more inexperienced partner, and may lack the ability to empathize and therefore expect too much of the more inexperienced partner;
  • The vet may indeed try to control or mold the inexperienced partner into their vision of polyamory instead of allowing them to find their own path;
  • The vet may start to feel like they're not really the inexperienced person's partner, but their science experiment.
When there is an extreme experience difference between partners and the relationship doubles as one big learning experience, then there's no space to relax for either partner. Think of what it might be like to date a math teacher who makes you show your work on bill night and tests you at restaurants when the check comes and makes you prove that you know how to balance a checkbook and assigns you homework.  Doesn't mean that the math teacher *never* gets math problems wrong anymore or never gets stumped by hard ones, and it doesn't mean that the math teacher is any good at anything else.  It just means that if you date someone who is also your teacher, they're going to be *better*, not perfect, at that thing and their job is to keep pushing you to get better too.

When the subject you're trying to learn about IS your relationship, you're never out of the classroom. *Everything* is Another Fucking Growth Opportunity. It adds another layer of stress on top of everything. And THEN, you still have all the usual sorts of conflicts and growing pains that comes with any old relationship.

As a vet, my relationships are *already* filled with relationship processing. We are already spending huge amounts of time digging in deep, analyzing, introspecting, communicating, revealing, and just generally working. I simply don't have the energy to *teach* someone how to do all of that in addition to *doing* all of that.

But I've also been doing this for more than 20 years. And I teach other things - I teach dance, I teach newbies at work how to do our job, and I teach other poly vets more advanced poly vet stuff. That's a lot of teaching, so when I come back to my relationships, I need to be my shoes-off self. I need to take off the Teacher hat and go braless in the Girlfriend t-shirt for a while. I need for my partners to take up some of the slack and do an equal amount of work in our relationships.

Read up on the concept of unpaid emotional labor. That's what a lot of the conflict about newbies vs. vets is here. People of color are frequently asked to perform unpaid emotional labor in their everyday lives, especially by white people. So are women or people socialized as women or people perceived as women, especially by men(etc.). Add on some intersectional issues like female queer POC, and basically their entire lives are nothing but unpaid emotional labor for everyone around them.

Most of the resentment in these poly groups over the whole vets vs. newbie thing is basically one long example of requests and demands for unpaid emotional labor. It's not appropriate to say "just don't do it". The solution is for everyone to respect the burden of emotional labor more and to shoulder their own share of it, so that teaching *can still happen* while people stop expecting others to carry all the weight of emotional labor.

Emotional Labor is a huge subject with *tons* already written about it elsewhere, so if you don't know what it means, you need to go off and read about it on your own. There, I introduced the concept and provided some context for you. I did that as an educator. Now y'all's job as students is to do some homework and look up more about it.

That's sharing the burden of emotional labor.

There are plenty of vets who enjoy teaching newbies the ropes as mentors and educators. There are also plenty of vets who are also educators who don't mind dating people with less experience, as long as they don't also have to play Teacher to their partner. If their newbie partner can find mentoring from someone else, or does the emotional labor on their own to go out and find resources and talk to others and build their own support networks, then a lot of vets are totally willing to date someone who is doing their own work. Or who did the work with vet as a mentor *first* and later traded in the "student" role for the "partner" role.

So vets dating newbies is a lot of *extra* work and an ethically questionable situation. But y'know a great way to make sure a vet doesn't date a newbie? Having the newbie complain that vets won't date them. It's kinda like when guys complain that women won't date them because they're "just too nice". Feeling entitled to someone else's experience because you are "owed" that lesson or "deserve" that lesson or that gaining experience automatically requires a payback in the form of teaching someone else is very unattractive. So maybe some vet *would* date a newbie, or mentor a newbie, or explain something to a newbie, but just not you because you're annoying and entitled and presumptuous about it.

joreth: (dance)
www.quora.com/Why-did-so-many-Latin-music-and-dance-genres-originate-in-Cuba

They didn’t. Latin dances originated in a lot of different places in South America and are heavily influenced by Afro-Caribbean rhythms from the booming slave trade and trans-Atlantic travel of the 1500’s-1800s.

Samba originated in Brazil in the very early 1900s: Samba - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Salsa doesn’t have a single point of origin but Cuba likes to take the credit for it: Salsa - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal Salsa includes influences from Puerto Rico, Haiti, Africa, and even a little bit of European country dance styles. Mambo is also Cuban, but today’s Mambo is basically the Salsa on a different beat.

Tango comes from Argentina: Tango - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Merengue hails from the Dominican Republic but Haiti likes to claim credit for it: Merengue - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Cha Cha is genuinely a Cuban dance, having been created by a Cuban composer who invented the music that people eventually developed a dance for: Cha Cha - What Is it? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Bachata comes from the Dominican Republic: Bachata (dance) - Wikipedia

Rumba is a Cuban dance, but it also has some differences with today’s rumba/rhumba in the US. The *music* came from Cuba, and a dance was made up to go with the music, but the 2 versions danced today are American Standard (which was invented in the US) and International Standard (which was invented by a French instructor in London). Rhumba - Wikipedia

Bolero is a dance that has two separate styles and two completely separate and independent origins - Cuba, and Spain, with the Cuban version being heavily influenced by other countries like Puerto Rico and Mexico: Bolero - Wikipedia

Paso Doble is usually categorized as a “Latin dance” when you watch the TV competitions, but, ironically, the partner dance is French (based on Spanish military marches & bullfights), and then adopted by Spain and Portugal: Pasodoble - Wikipedia

And then there’s Jive, which is classified as a “Latin dance” under International dancesport categories, but Jive originated as Lindy Hop in New York at the Savoy Theater by a primarily black community and was later codified by Arthur Murray and other ballroom studios to make it easier to teach, and also to compete in. This led to the development of several different sub-categories of Lindy, and the competition version which is classified as a “Latin dance” is called Jive: Swing Dance - What Is It? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

joreth: (dance)
www.quora.com/How-do-I-learn-to-dance

That depends on what style of dance you want to learn. Generally speaking, taking lessons are a pretty good way to learn how to dance.

If you want to learn how to *partner* dance, I wrote a whole article on how to decide what to learn: What To Learn? - Orlando Ballroom Dance Party Portal

Basically, you need to identify your goals, look into the different types of instruction to see what meets your needs, and then choose a dance style to start out with.

My personal bias is that partner dancing requires in-class lessons with a partner and an instructor, supplemented with videos *after the lesson* for “homework”. I usually recommend group classes first because it’s a low-investment, “dip the toe in the water” kind of method for exploring dancing. It costs less than private instruction and there are other people there who are also learning that you can share the experience with. Plus, you don’t need to bring your own partner with you.

I believe you need in-person instruction before videos because it won’t feel the same without the resistance and communication from a partner, and most people need someone who can observe their body and offer corrections. Beginners simply *cannot* tell if their bodies are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Partner dancing is as much communication as anything else. Partner dancing is a *conversation*. It’s not just learning steps. In fact, memorizing step patterns is the least important part of dancing, believe it or not. The important part to being a good partner dancer is the communication between you and your partner. And, for that, you need to dance with another person, not watch a video. The steps will feel *very* different if you try to do them alone, and some people aren’t even able to do certain steps at all without the partner providing the resistance and communication. Partner dancing is a collaborative effort.

Do a Google search for the name of the dance style you want to learn + “lessons” + the name of your nearest largest city.

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