joreth: (polyamory)
For those who 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 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 ought to do.

#MadEngineer #Chaosbunny #KillerOfDreams #TheOutsideContractor #HarbringerDestine #VillaintinesDay #SinglesAwarenessDay #NeverTooEarlyToStartPlanningWorldDomination #IMeanGangingUpOnMutualPartners #IMeanExpressingLoveAndGratitudeForMyPolycule #PolyHolidays
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
http://www.babble.com/relationships/this-is-what-divorce-looks-like/

This is why I'm so adamant that poly lessons are very rarely ever *poly* lessons, and they're more like lessons for healthy relationships in general. This is why I can seem pushy about polyamory - I'm not out to "convert monos" because, frankly, I'd rather not have your monogamy baggage clouding up my dating pool. But I *am* out to improve the existing relationships of those around me, and it is my opinion that those lessons are most commonly found in poly circles.

Those lessons include advanced communication skills, but more importantly, consciously designing your relationships to meet the needs of the individuals, rather than trying to shoehorn people into a single relationship mold.

This is also the very foundation of why I am solo poly. Solo poly does NOT mean "unpartnered". It's not "being single" (although solo polys *can* be unpartnered, they're just not synonyms for each other). Solo poly means, to me, that I am an individual person, not half of a whole or a third of a triad or whatever. It means that all my partners get all of me as a whole and complete person, and each relationship is constructed based on that concept. Which further means that none of my relationships will look like the standard Escalator model, because that model hinges on the submerging of the individual into the group (or couple, in this case). It requires making the relationship more important than the individuals in it.

So I *might* someday have a relationship that superficially resembles an Escalator Relationship with some traditional markers of "couplehood", but the foundation of my relationships will always include the axiom "the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship". This leads, inevitably, to less traditionally structured relationships in order to meet the unique needs of the individuals in them. Like in the case of these and other parents who have figured out that they make excellent coparents but not spouses.

Build the relationships to meet the needs of the people in them. A marriage certificate is not necessary to create a healthy, fulfilling relationship, even one with a life-long emotional bond and children.

"Meshing your life with someone else’s is no small feat and the concept of marriage isn’t as simple as: Hey! We get along really well. We should live together forever! There are a million subtle nuances within every relationship that cause it to work or not to work, many of them only understood by the two people who experienced the relationship. I get along with my ex. I love my ex. That doesn’t mean we belong together." ~ Ditching The Escalator: Marriage does not have to be the only option; aka "it's possible to really and truly love someone and still not make a good partner for them" via [livejournal.com profile] tacit.

"Yeah, it’ll be weird, initially, watching my ex-husband with someone new, but I’d far rather adjust to that than maintain a very formal, even icy, existence with the father of my children and the woman with whom they’ll spend a large portion of their lives. ... I want to work with, not against, a woman who could potentially be the main female figure to my children when they’re not with me." ~ Metamour Relations 101

"Everyone is so caught up in defining family in this way or that way ... instead of just looking around at those people who are a part of our lives on a daily basis who love us and whom we love and being happy that so many people are present. The more the merrier. We are all family." ~ Consciously Designing Relationships

"The decision to end a marriage is not about quitting; it is about letting go of one relationship in exchange for another." ~ Polys Don't Breakup They Transition / aka our Breakup Workshop
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
I've been seeing a lot of "this thing happened between my partner and their other partner.  How do you handle that / deal with that / take that / interpret that happening between your partner and their other partner?"

My answer is (and my advice that pretty much everyone should also do this) "there is nothing there for me to handle / deal with / take/ or interpret. If it wasn't about me, then it's not about me and there is nothing for me to react to."

It's things like, the metamour wants to try some sex thing that they haven't done before, or some new person has been flirting with or sexting the partner, or maybe the metamour dislikes something about the partner and they had a disagreement over it. It's relationship stuff between two people who are not me, and it's not something like abuse or anything damaging to my partner.

This kind of thing is symptomatic of our cultural values of ownership and possession in romantic relationships, and the lack of agency and autonomy. Those values seep into our subconsciousness and into our assumptions about relationships and they manifest in all kinds of strange and interesting ways, even when we think that we respect and value our partners as people.  We probably do, but it's really hard to overcome all the cultural programming that we're subjected to.

And when someone asks how I feel about something that occurred between two people who aren't me and had nothing to do with me, that programming becomes obvious.  At least, it does to those of us who have learned to read code.

The context was something like, someone posted in a *poly* forum "How would you handle someone flirting with your partner?"

My reaction was "there's nothing for me to 'handle'.  It's not something that's hurting him, it's between two people that has nothing to do with me."

There wasn't any lying or deception going on, there wasn't any actual sex yet, the poster knew about the existence of the person flirting with their partner before it happened, and the partner & the flirty person had some romantic history together.

That's not the only post I've seen, just the latest one that prompted this post.  What would we do about some situation that is not happening to us?  The underlying assumption is that we have some right or obligation to interfere in some way, that what happens to our partner happens to us or is some kind of statement to us or about us that we need to react to.

I've also seen it for things like "how would you handle your partner dating someone who you don't like?" or "what would you do if your partner started dating someone who wasn't [insert whatever quality here that you think is important in a dating partner]" and "how would you deal with your partner's other partner wanting to have a kind of sex with your partner that you haven't had with them?", all with the implication in the way that they word it and in their follow up comments that *you* ought to be doing something about their relationship, not questioning how to handle a *metamour* relationship, which is a different sort of question.

I find the whole thing very weird and off-putting.  The very question, and the fact that it comes up so often under different contexts, belies some incredibly deep, unexamined assumptions about possession in relationships that bleed into the polyamorous communities.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
http://theinnbetween.net/polycommitments.html

Haven't posted one of these in a while: ‪Poly Commitments‬

* I am committed to considering my metamours as "family" regardless of the structure or emotional closeness of our individual metamour relationships and to treat them accordingly.

Speaking of poly families, this one is actually complicated enough to deserve its own post, but I will attempt to summarize here and post the link to the full post when I get around to making it. Basically, I was raised with a strong sense of "family" and a strong sense of commitment to family. But I was also raised to view "family" as being this large, nebulous thing with fuzzy borders that accommodated and allowed for everyone in the family to find their own specific relationship structure. The point of valuing "family", in my family, was to acknowledge that, for better or worse, we are all connected to each other through bonds that are supposed to be based on love, and that we all have an obligation to each other to be considerate of how our actions affect each other, although that doesn't trump doing what needs to be done for ourselves - our personal happiness and health is more important than familial obligations.

My family is a chosen family. As an adopted child, it was really hammered home that we are family because we chose to be family through the bonds of love, not blood. But my family was more than just my parents and myself. It was my parents, my sister, my grandparents, my dozen aunts and uncles, my two dozen cousins, great aunts and great uncles, second cousins twice removed, and family friends. Just because someone was a cousin, it didn't mean that we had the exact same relationship as the relationship that I had with my other cousin. I was allowed to develop different kinds of relationships with my different family members. We were friends, or not, as was natural. But at the same time, I was expected to welcome new members into the family because the happiness of the person they were connected to was important. I was expected to be considerate of my cousins and other relatives and to be aware of how my actions affected them. These were valuable lessons that I take with me into my poly family. My metamour relations are allowed to develop in whatever structure is most natural for the personalities involved. I welcome metamours into the family because the happiness of our mutual partner is important and it's his desire to date her that defines whether or not she's part of the family, not my like or dislike of her. I am considerate of my metamours and I try to be aware of how my actions affect them. To me, that's what makes an extended family.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
www.theinnbetween.net/polycommitments.html

This is serendipitous. I *just* answered a question in a poly group about the responsibility we have to our metamours, and this was the next Commitment I had lined up to post about in my "but what do you commit to if not sexual fidelity?" series:


* I am committed to allowing my metamour relationships to find their own structure and direction without forcing them into a predetermined shape.


This is related to the previous commitment. I very strongly favor family-style, inclusive networks where all the metamours get along with each other and, preferably, develop independent friendships with each other. The main reason is because I believe in non-zero sum relationships where time spent with one partner does not have to automatically mean time taken away from another partner. It is my opinion that the only way this can be possible (and not a chore) is if the metamours actually like each other and like being around each other. At a bare minimum, we have to all agree to be civilly polite to each other at social functions and to actually be willing to attend social functions where other metamours might be present in order for non-zero-sum to be possible.

So I need a reminder that forcing my metamour relationships to conform to a prescripted relationship path is no different than forcing romantic relationships to conform to a prescripted relationship path. I have been on the other end, with a metamour trying to force a relationship structure on me that didn't fit, and I am committed to making an effort to avoid doing that to someone else. The things I value most about my various metamours is our differing relationships. Just like my romantic partners and just like my non-poly-connected friends, each metamour relationship is special precisely because it is unique and tailored to the metamour associated with the relationship. I have very important connections with each of my metamours and they only exist because each relationship was allowed to flourish in its own way.

Not all of my metamour relationships are going to be as amazing as the ones I have now, and not all of my past relationships have been this wonderful. Several times, I have had virtually no relationship with a metamour because we just didn't mesh well. If we hadn't had a mutual partner, we wouldn't have had any reason to be connected to each other at all. Only one time did I have a metamour with whom I didn't get along and I was not satisfied with merely coexisting. I believe that the reason is because she artificially imposed a distance between us due to her discomfort with poly relationships. I still use a willingness to meet and foster friendly metamour relations as a litmus test for poly readiness, so this commitment is to remind me that a willingness to meet and foster friendly metamour relations must be different in both intent and execution from prescripting those same metamour relationships to fit my preconceived notions of poly family.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
So this is interesting. I've noticed a trend now, that I started seeing many years ago, but had less nuanced and accurate language to describe.

In the poly community, there are frequent debates on how much information we are supposed to share with our partners, usually regarding our other partners. To me, this completely sidesteps the issue. It's like Franklin's blog post on Radical Truthers where the question isn't between "truth vs. white lies" but about compassion and empathy. I've noticed that the following people tend to side with the following argument:

Pro - you should share EVERYTHING with your partner and keep no secrets ever! This includes no password locks on cell phones or emails or computers, or if you do, both parties should have the password.

I've noticed that this position is overwhelmingly held by people who are in primary-style relationships (or desire one) and only applies to the primary couple (or group if they're equilateral poly types) but not to anyone outside the couple, regardless of length of time of that "outside" relationship. These people nearly always disregard the suggestion that this level of entwineness is actually an invasion of privacy on the poor "secondaries" who do not receive an equal level of snoopiness into the couple's privacy. Sometimes this is not held by both members of the couple, and usually after some digging, it comes out that the one who does hold this position would rather that their relationship be more couple-centric hierarchical than it is, while the one who doesn't hold this position doesn't favor the couple-centric hierarchical model.

This position also finds favor more among straight cis-men whose female partners aren't exclusively interested in dating other women. Maybe they already do date other men, maybe they only date other women but they're bi, or maybe they even *say* that they don't want to date other men but their primary male partner picks up some "vibe" from them that makes them afraid that the woman might want to in spite of what she says she wants. That "vibe" could be completely in his head, too, as misogynistic men don't really believe that women can know what they want or make valid choices for themselves, and may suspect desires of their female partners that their female partners explicitly state they don't have.

I wanted to include the other side here, but it turns out that there are a whole bunch of different kinds of people who favor the con side, with several different motivations, and it's a mixture of both reasonable / respectful rationales and unreasonable / abusive rationales. So I'll explore that perhaps in another blot post where I can go into more depth.

Basically, as someone who fully embraces transparency and honesty in relationships, it's really disturbing to me to see so many people swing to the abusive and controlling side of the "honesty" spectrum, and use "honesty" as a blunt instrument with which to beat their partners & metamours over the head by disrespecting autonomy, privacy, agency of both their partners and their metamours. These sub-categories of people aren't really about "honesty" so much as they're about control and objectification, but it's couched in "honesty" language because that's more reasonable (and they perhaps don't even know that they're motivated by control because they may not have examined their insecurities deeply enough yet).

Demanding passwords and sharing accounts and the like is about controlling their partners and dehumanizing the metamours. This is *fundamentally different* from actual transparency in relationships, which still seeks to protect the privacy and agency of all involved. When it's motivated by compassion and respect for agency, then there is no conflict between transparency and privacy.

When desire for knowledge about one's partner is motivated by respect for agency, the desire for that knowledge is not about preventing people from "keeping secrets", but about sharing your life, your intimacy, and your vulnerability with someone. Because this person understands that it's about intimacy and vulnerability, this person also understands the need to protect the privacy of their partner and metamours BECAUSE they know that what is shared between the partner and metamour is ... get this ... intimate and vulnerable. If you respect intimacy and vulnerability, then you should also understand why it's so fragile and must be protected in others.

If you have empathy, then you understand that another couple's relationship (your partner and metamour) has the same right to have its privacy settings be set wherever that relationship needs them to be set just as your relationship with your partner does, regardless of your personal preference for *where* that boundary goes. if you have empathy, then you know to respect the other person's perspective, not to insist that whatever *you're* comfortable with is what everyone else should be comfortable too.

But when the motivation for information is about controlling other people, it's all too easy to rationalize why one person is privileged above another to invade their privacy and to force their way into another couple's intimacy and to demand a third party's vulnerability. Because, with this motivation, it's all about YOU, the person making the demands for information, not about the intimate experience that's shared between two fully-formed, vulnerable, sentient human beings. YOU need to "know" this. YOU need to feel "secure". YOUR feelings trump any space set aside for other people to be intimate or vulnerable and your feelings trump consent.

It doesn't matter if the other people involve acquiesce to the demand. It doesn't matter if the metamour says "sure, I have nothing to hide, so go ahead and share all our text communication with your wife." This only means that the person making the demands happened to find someone whose boundary is so far back, that it hasn't been stepped on yet. But the demand is still an attempt at boundary-pushing. The demand is still invasive, still intrusive, and still dehumanizing. And if the insecurity driving all this behaviour isn't dealt with, it'll only escalate until they DO find the boundary. And suddenly they'll wonder why everyone is yelling "abuse!" at them. When the truth is that they were abusive the whole time, it's just that no one ever pushed back at their boundary pushing before.



There were some good comments in the FB thread for this post I want to copy here. Eventually I will feel this pattern & put everything together. I'm going to leave these comments without attribution for now, but if you read my blog & you made one of these comments & you want attribution, feel free to identify yourself.
""but that I share more with my wife than another love is an interesting quandary"

It's not really about which partner you share more with. One of the biggest misunderstandings about poly relationships is this concept of "equal" vs. "fair". Lots of people think that relationships need to be "equal" in order to be fair, but that doesn't take into account individuality. It's not which of your partners gets more access to your information. It's whether or not your partners get access TO YOUR OTHER PARTNERS that causes the problem with the couple-centric model.

To give just one example, let's take a hypothetical couple Sam and Samantha. They share everything because they've built a life together and are blissfully happy and secure about it. They don't pry or snoop and they respect each other's privacy, but out of convenience, they have each other's passwords and occasionally get into each other's emails or phones for pragmatic reasons.

Now let's say that Samantha begins dating Steve. Because of the level of sharing that Sam and Samantha have, Steve has to factor in the possibility that anything he shares with Samantha via email or text might be seen by Sam. He isn't trying to hide anything from Sam. But certain moments and certain conversations between Steve and Samantha are an intimate moment between the two of them. Maybe Steve even doesn't mind if Samantha *tells* Sam about it later. But with the current setup, he has to always keep in mind that anything intimate or vulnerable that he shares with Samantha has to either be done in person and private, or he has to be willing to extend that *exact same level* of intimacy and vulnerability to Sam - a man that he is not dating.

This limits the paths of intimacy that Steve can share with Samantha. Maybe Steve is OK with that. Maybe he just naturally operates under these conditions anyway. I'm not suggesting any kind of maliciousness or mal-intent on anyone's part. I'm not even intending to imply a value judgement about the above scenario. I'm just pointing out that when we "share everything" with a partner, that affects how safe others feel to share with us.

When I write an email to one of my partners, I almost always am fine with their partners reading it. But I know that their emails are password-protected and they won't share my emails without my explicit permission. That affects how open and free I feel about sharing my intimacy through the medium of email with that partner. If I knew that they shared an email account with a spouse, every email that I wrote would be with the thought in mind that I am writing for *both* of them, not just one of them, even if I'm not in a romantic relationship with both of them. No matter how "open" of a person I am, that still places a limitation to the intimacy and vulnerability on my relationship.

And I had a relationship with someone once like that. I am so on the "open and honest" bandwagon that it didn't bother me at all, at first, that he shared everything with his wife. She was a friend too, we were hoping this was going to lead into a close family tribe, etc. But then when things started not going so well, the fact that their "open with each other" rule didn't protect *my* privacy hindered our ability to work through our issues. It wasn't the main reason that we broke up, but the speed and specific nature of our progress (or lack thereof) was negatively affected by it." ~ me
"I can't help noticing that all of the folks who responded saying 'My partner knows my passwords' used the word 'partner', 'spouse', or 'SO' in the singular. I actually had to go and look at the top of the page to check this was a poly group."
"Okay, here's how I see it. --- A password is much like a house key. Maybe some of you would be okay with copying your house key for everyone who asks. I'm not. That doesn't mean I am 'hiding' things inside my house. It means it's a private space where I want to be able to feel safe.

My phone and my email account are like a house I share with my friends and family, as well as my various partners. I can't just give someone a key to that space without first checking in with ALL of the other people who live there. That violates their boundaries and their privacy, not just mine. "
"The two big selling points I’ve seen for total transparency (to the point of reporting on and sharing everything) are intimacy and security. And I think, even brushing all resulting problems aside, it doesn’t actually work for either one. It’s kind of like how promising someone that you will never leave them, or you will never change, or you will never die will actually make them feel *more* insecure. Why? Because you can’t promise that, and the more you try to build a life in service of these goals the more you will both become aware of your mutual powerlessness to manage change.

Similarly, trying to share everything with a partner is a way to try to pretend that you aren’t fundamentally separate. The more you try to merge, the more you will be reminded that they are different, the more you will become aware that you cannot know them completely, that you cannot control what they are or how they change. Your attention will constantly be drawn to the fact that you are outside of them, and there’s no way to erase your fundamental isolation from everyone else.

Differentiation is required for intimacy. Expecting that your partner will not be separate weakens differentiation, and actually prevents intimacy.

As for the poly situation where you are expected to share everything you do with other people? Even if everyone agrees, in my experience this just starts to leave you feeling sicker and sicker. In the service of transparency I’ve shared things I wish I hadn’t shared, been forced in situations where I either had to feel like I was lying or breaking a confidence (seriously, the worst feeling ever) and been made a part of things that I didn't want to be a part of. And at the end of the day, it severely eroded intimacy and trust and left everyone feeling insecure.

Now when someone shares an experience with me I see it as something that belongs fundamentally to them, I feel honored to share some small part of that, I don’t feel it’s owed to me, and I don’t feel betrayed if they need to take it back.

* I feel like I should put the caveat in that a certain amount of honesty and sharing is required for intimacy, but that baseline of trust and openness is not what we’re talking about here."
"I would think the common factor isn't insecurity so much as entitlement (which tends to be the common factor in almost all forms of abuse, from what I've been reading recently). I can't stand it when people equate honesty with having no privacy. I recently wrote a big post about honesty, and made sure to include this point:

'While I tend to value privacy less than most, people still have a right to it, even from intimate partners. However, this doesn’t extend to a right to be dishonest. The key difference between privacy and dishonesty is that an honest person will admit to keeping things private. An honest exercise of privacy will involve phrases like “I don’t feel comfortable telling you that,” “I don’t want to talk about that,” or “that’s private.” Rather than misleading or misdirecting, an honest private person will merely state that they don’t wish to disclose.'

Something like sharing an account password or not has no implications for honesty. There's a difference between honesty and openness. So long as you're saying "no, I won't share that with you," there is nothing dishonest going on."
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
I posted this article with the following commentary in the Singleish and Solo Polyamory FB group, and I was asked permission to re-post my commentary.  So I'm archiving it here to prevent it from getting lost in the FB ether, and so that anyone wishing to re-post or refer to my commentary will have a link-back when they give me attribution:


This is a post by my metamour, that if you follow More Than Two, you've probably already seen. http://www.morethantwo.com/blog/2014/01/guest-post-on-zero-sum-family-and-consent/

When I started dating her partner, I spent a lot of effort on language to emphasize my solo nature. I had a dangerous job with unusual hours that I love and I was sick of men thinking it was "cute" at first but then trying to talk me out of it. I had never dated anyone who was poly-before-me at that point and I was fucking sick to death of cowboys. I had a long history of partners who sought to curb my autonomy.

So I used language deliberately to over-emphasize how solo I was, trying to nip that problem in the bud. But Shelly, at that point in her life, had invested most of her own self in the dream of "family". She and I had a lot of emails and a lot of discussion - tense, frustrated, tearful discussion - about family vs. solohood. She just could not understand my relationship with her partner. In her mind, it wasn't "serious" if it didn't match this family dream of hers.

She spent a lot of years struggling to understand my relationship with our partner. And I spent a lot of years struggling to reconcile my need for autonomy and independence with my desire for exactly the kind of family that she was offering, as well as to explain those seemingly conflicting needs and desires.

Then Shelly and I both dated another person. And she learned in one relationship what took me a lifetime of micro-aggressions to develop my autonomous stance. And I learned from that relationship a more nuanced definition of "family". This article is kind of a summation of some of our lessons on this topic (not that I had anything to do with the writing of it).

Shelly and I have both come towards the same destination from radically different starting points. Being autonomous has always been easier for me than for her, but finding that autonomy from within a family is her great lesson that I continue to need to work on.

I post this article because she addresses the need for autonomy within poly relationships from a unique perspective. She comes at it from a place of mental health and consent in a way that, although I'm sure others feel, I've not seen it verbalized in quite that way. Shelly looks at life in a very different way than anyone I've ever met. She adds nuance and flesh to already complex concepts, and she forces me to see myself from different points of view. So I want to share this article because it covers the dangers of hierarchical poly in a unique way, and the importance of autonomy, while in the comments she leaves room for the importance of family and compromise and commitment when oftentimes I see the pro-autonomy side stray too far into the "I am me, so fuck you" inconsiderate, un-compassionate (I know that's not a word, but it's what I mean) side.

Shelly makes me a better person, and if it weren't for polyamory, I'd never have met her; and if it weren't for our dating the same person (more than once), I'd never have gotten to know her on the level that I did. Shelly is the reason why I do poly. I mean, sure, it's great and all to have multiple partners. But equally, if not more important to me, is that poly relationships bring metamours into my life that I wouldn't have otherwise. There are lots of forms of non-monogamy out there, but polyamory and the emphasis on relationships over recreational sex as well as the importance of family - or at least of interconnected networks - polyamory brings the benefit of metamours. Metamours are half of the whole reason to do poly.

Not all my metamours have the same kind of relationship with me as I do with Shelly and not all of my metamours are like Shelly. That's not the point. But just as I subscribe to non-escalator relationships for romantic relationships and I require my romantic relationships to evolve into whatever form is best for *that* relationship because I find value in different types of relationships, I apply the same sort of freedom in evolving my metamour relationships.

My other metamours do not have the same sort of relationship with me as I do with Shelly. And that's the value of solo polyamory for me. If my metamour relationships were expected to ride their own version of a relationship escalator, then I wouldn't have the amazing relationships with each of them that I do have - as varied and unique as the people themselves. And I wouldn't have the amazing relationship with Shelly that I have, because our relationship never grew on the sort of metamour escalator that so many prescriptive, family-oriented relationships insist on - that even Shelly tried to insist on in the beginning. And as you can see from her writing, she is an amazing person, and my life would be less bright if I had to choose between an escalator metamour relationship with her that didn't fit right or nothing at all, if I could not find our own path to grow together. And we wouldn't have this gem of her writing to explain the importance of autonomy and independence as it pertains to consent and to mental health.
joreth: (polyamory)
I read an interesting article in Psychology Today. I'll be honest, I have dropped PT from my mental list of Websites Of Quality Articles. They are just another online blog site with dozens of bloggers of varying quality and expertise. They are certainly not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but increasingly they aren't even an interesting source of pop-psychology to provide food for thought - just a source of rage about how some people are able to obtain advanced degrees and be allowed to have a public forum for their views.

But occasionally I run across an article or op-ed that I like. This was one of them. It talks about respect. "Respect" is thrown around a lot in the poly community in a very particular way. I most often see it used as a defense of The Rules* by primary couples wishing to protect their relationship. The reason why The Rules are necessary, they might say, is because they need to ensure that the incoming partner respects their relationship, their primacy. This is, IME, the reason most often given when a couple does not want to admit to being insecure.

No, they might say, the Rules are not because I don't trust my partner! I trust him implicitly! It's other people that I don't trust! We have a rock-solid relationship! We are best friends! I know that he would never do anything to hurt me! So I am not dictating *his* behaviour, I am laying out the rules for *her* behaviour! We don't want anyone to come in and not respect our primary relationship and/or not respect me as his primary partner. So we need Rules to make sure she is respectful.

So let's talk about respect.

Franklin has said, in many places, but in his most recent post on rules:
Many folks who claim primacy in a primary/secondary relationship often say they need rules because otherwise they don't feel "respected" by secondary partners, yet it's difficult to be respectful when one feels hemmed in, encircled by walls, and knowing that one's relationship is always under review.
In his previous post on rules, he says
"Respect" is a slippery, tricky word. It's kind of like "freedom"--everyone thinks they know what it means, but when the rubber meets the road, few folks actually agree on a definition.

To me, respect has to be mutual. If Alice is demanding respect from Bob's new sweetie Cindy, that can only come if Alice in turn respects the notion that Cindy is a grown adult with her own needs and desires, and she, too, deserves a shot at having a voice in the relationship. Imposing rules by fiat on other people and then demanding respect from those people is all the rage (I hear) among leaders of North Korea, but can feel a bit yucky when we're talking romantic relationships. ...

At worst, it sets up a relationship with a certain amount of tension and conflict baked in. If you see your partner's other partner as a source of stress, if you set up rules to govern that other person's behavior, then already you've started out on a basis of conflict ... there's an irreconcilable difference there. Someone's desire is going to get trumped, and you're playing the "respect" card to try to make sure it's not yours.
So this article had some interesting things to say about respect. And no, it is not a poly article, it's about relationships in general. In fact, it spends about as much time, if not more, talking about respecting one's children as it does respecting one's spouse. As I say so often, this is not a poly issue, this is a people issue. But I want to bring it around to poly specifically, as I see it played out in this Primary vs. Secondary deathmatch battle at Thunderdome, where the primary couple puts themselves in opposition to the incoming secondary partner and justifies the structure under the heading of "respect".

The author, Peter Gray, separates out love from respect. He acknowledges that some people make respect an integral part of their definition of love (like I do), but he sticks to his point that they are independent elements. Although I do not believe one can "love" someone if they do not respect them, I agree that "love" and "respect" are not interchangeable and can be discussed separately. One can have respect without love, for instance, even if one insists that love must include respect. I can have bacon without it being in a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, but I can't have a BLT without bacon, by definition - then it's just an LT sandwich.

Gray says that, if you accept the premise that love can exist without respect and vice versa, then bliss is what happens when you combine the two. But if he had to choose between them, he'd take respect over love.
It is useful, I think, to compare and contrast parent-child relationships with husband-wife relationships. In both of these, respect is absolutely essential for the relationship to work. Love without respect is dangerous; it can crush the other person, sometimes literally. To respect is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand the other person as a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help that person achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control the other person or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. I think this applies as much to parent-child relationships as to husband-wife relationships.
If we apply this to the primary/secondary/metamour scenario, it sounds like this: To respect your partner is to understand that the other person is not you, not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product. To respect your metamour/secondary is to understand that the other person is not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, not your product.

In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your metamour/secondary is a unique individual and learn how to mesh your needs with his or hers and help your metamour/secondary to achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your metamour/secondary or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not. In a relationship of respect, your task is to understand that your partner is a unique individual and to help your partner achieve what he or she wants to achieve. Your task is not to control your partner or try to change him or her in a direction that you desire but he or she does not.

This is the antithesis of everything that The Rules stand for in poly relationships. The Rules, as I am referring to them here, are about protecting from change and prohibiting growth of one person in a direction not necessarily desired by another person. The Rules are designed to make partners into an extension of each other and reflection of each other and to make secondaries into toys, pets, or products.

This is the exact opposite of that "respect" that these sorts of couples are demanding. When those couples that I am talking about refer to "respect", they mean it in the way that we all "respect" the law - by that I mean that we all follow a set of rules that someone else imposed on us without our input whether we agree with it or not because there are consequences to breaking the law, and we surreptitiously break the law when we think we can get away with it (seriously, if anyone out there thinks that you never break any law, like speeding or oral sex, either you are lying to yourself or you've never actually read every single law that affects your jurisdiction - some are inherently contradictory and some don't even apply anymore but were never stricken from the books).

We are generally taught to obey authority for the good of society. But really, how much of that is "respect" and how much of that is a sense of obligation coupled with a fear of consequences? That may be an acceptable way to run a large society, but that doesn't sound like any way to run a relationship that claims to be "loving".

I don't "respect" authority and law. I recognize that authority & law have power over me and I recognize that a system of law and authority is beneficial for society (the individual points of authority & law are debatable, though). I accept this power structure, mostly, in order to get along with society, basically as a social contract - I don't hurt, maim, kill, or steal from you if you won't do it to me. That's not respect, that's an uneasy truce amongst people who don't know each other and don't have much motivation to care about each other.

But I also follow many laws simply by coincidence because I care and respect my fellow human beings. I don't need a law to tell me not to hurt or kill or steal from other people (as a matter of fact, there was a time when the law against stealing didn't do shit to prevent me from it). What makes me really not hurt or kill or steal from other people is a sense of compassion, a belief that we all deserve to live with dignity, an immense feeling of empathy, a passionate philosophy of personal sovereignty ... in short, respect.

As Franklin also says, if your partner truly loves and cherishes you, a rule is unnecessary, but if a partner does not truly love and cherish you, a rule won't make him. Just like with our secular laws, if someone really doesn't feel that sense of compassion and empathy towards the one they are hurting, a law doesn't tend to stop them from doing it. Never has a criminal seriously said (Facebook meme pics aside) "Man, I'm totally gonna kill you! What do you mean it's illegal? Oh, well, then, never mind, sorry, forget I said anything."

People who want to kill find ways to do it. Some of them become criminals who ignore the law, some of them become soldiers and cops who have the law behind them, and some of them become legal executioners who are specifically ordered to do it. If a partner wants to do something that will hurt you, he will whether there is a "rule" in place or not. If a partner honestly does not want to hurt you, he will do his best not to whether there is a rule in place or not.

The same goes for metamours. If respect is what you want, passing rules won't make anyone respect the relationship or the primary position. What makes a person respect that is all those other things I talked about above - compassion, empathy, consideration, acceptance, understanding. Those things are not demanded nor legislated. They are earned. And the best way to earn them from other people is to first give them to those other people.
Love is not all you need, nor all your wife or husband needs, and certainly not all your children need. We all need respect, especially from those who are closest and most intimately connected with us.



*The Rules are defined for this post as a set of restrictions or guidelines dictating the behaviour of other people, such as "you will not have intercourse with anyone other than me without a condom" and "no overnight stays".  Reciprocation and agreement to said rules are irrelevant to the definition of "dictating the behaviour of others".

This is contrasted from Boundaries, which are a source of information about one person that another person can use to inform his or her decisions, such as "I choose not to have sex with people who do not use condoms with their other partners" so that if another person wants to have sex with the first person, they can choose to use condoms with others or they can choose barrier-free sex with others over sex with the first person.  Boundaries tell people how I want to be treated so that they can make their own choices while rules tell other people how they have to behave so that *I* can make those choices for them.

Many people use the word "rule" when they actually mean "boundary" and many people *think* they are talking about boundaries when they are actually imposing rules.
joreth: (polyamory)
First of all, let's define "cheating". Two people have an agreement, either explicit or implicit, about how their relationship should look. If implicit, the "cheater" knows that the partner would not approve even if they never made any vows on the subject. What that agreement is about is not relevant to this definition.

It could be about sexual infidelity, it could be about emotional infidelity, it could be kink, it could be that they're not allowed to dance with anyone else but each other, or it could be that she's the only one allowed to ride on the back of his motorcycle (seriously, I know a couple like both of the last 2 examples). They could be monogamous, they could be poly, they could be swingers, they could be DADT. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they have an agreement not to do something with other people or to only do something with each other.

If they agree that one or both of them can go out and get sex as long as the other doesn't have to be aware of it, that's not cheating. If it's like the TV politician characters who say "she knows I have lovers & she looks the other way as long as I don't rub her nose in it", it's not cheating, for this rant. I have other problems with DADT, but that's not what I'm about to discuss.

Cheating, in this rant, is doing something your partner would not want you to do, and does not condone even "discreetly", and you know it, on some level. Saying "well, we never talked about it, and she never actually said I *couldn't* get blowjobs from strangers in bathhouses..." is cheating and you fucking know it.

I take a hard line against cheating. I've heard all the excuses, all the justifications, all the hypothetical "what if his wife is disabled & can't have sex with him, but he stays because he loves her & needs to care for her but he has to get his needs met somewhere" (although the last person who said this to me actually used the word "cripple", because justifying cheating on a disability wasn't bad enough) and "she already broke the marriage contract by withholding sex indefinitely so he's not really breaking his agreements by having a secret girlfriend on the side because she broke the marriage contract first" and "if he leaves, she'll get the kids and he'll never see them again and he'll go bankrupt because he can't afford to maintain two houses & then he'll have to resort to bank robbery to support his 12 children and then he'll get caught & die horribly in a police shootout, which the kids will see on TV and be scarred for life". I *was* a cheater, so don't tell me about the shitty situations people find themselves in that make them justify cheating.

Seriously, I don't want to hear any more excuses. Sometimes people have really shitty situations. And I'm sorry for them. There are a lot of really terrible conditions out there like stoning & mutilation and famine & discrimination, but the solution isn't to retaliate - the solution is to stop the terrible conditions from happening.

Making a relationship agreement with someone, and then breaking it behind their back and continuing to exist in the relationship as if the agreement still stands is *wrong*. It might be the lesser of two wrongs, it might bring the cheater a sliver of happiness in an otherwise horrible existence, but it is still breaking an agreement, no matter how you slice it, and it is not the greater path of courage.

But I'm not actually here to talk about being a cheater. I'm here to rant about being the person a cheater cheats with. There's this fucking irritating trope in the poly community that says "It's not my job to police other people's relationships. He's an adult, he can make his own choices. Who am I to tell him what he should and shouldn't do? If he wants to cheat, that's his choice. I'm not doing anything wrong because *I* didn't make those relationship agreements, so I'm not breaking any."

Bullshit.

There are a lot of selfish attitudes in the poly community, mostly holdovers from The Monogamous Mindset, mostly having to do with Couple Privilege. This is one of the worst. This is all about "me". This is all about what the third person is getting, masked under a pious attitude about "choice", and maybe even under some superficial sympathy for the poor man (or woman, or whoever) who is trapped in such a loveless marriage that he needs to find some happiness somewhere or experiment with something his spouse won't do, and oh how convenient that I'm here to provide it! This is all about ducking responsibility for one's own actions - actions that harm another person, even if it's only their dignity that is harmed.

I've always said that the real test of being poly is not how many people you're fucking, but how you handle your partners fucking someone else. In my opinion, being a caring and compassionate metamour is a required element for being in a poly relationship. No, not being your metamours' BFF, but being *caring and compassionate*, regardless of how well you actually like each other and get along. Courage and integrity are nothing when it's easy - it's when it's difficult that they count. And you cannot stand there and say that you support, choose, or prefer, relationships based on honesty, trust, and communication (y'know, the foundations of polyamory and, for that matter "open" relationships) while simultaneously supporting lying, cheating, dishonesty, and non-consensual relationships.

That wife (for the sake of simplicity, I'm sticking with pronouns specific to the situations I would find myself in if I were the "mistress" in the scenario - which means the cheater is male, his spouse is female, and the cheatee is female.), that wife did not consent to this arrangement. She could not have, since she doesn't know about it. And if she did know about it, she wouldn't. Whether she is being unreasonable or not is completely irrelevant ... SHE DID NOT CONSENT TO THIS ARRANGEMENT. That, by itself, makes my actions, as the mistress, wrong.

Sure, there can be levels of wrong, and there can be multiple wrong parties. Pilfering office supplies is not in the same league as, say, the Holocaust. I wouldn't give anyone the death penalty, or even jail time, for stealing a stapler or using the office copy machine for personal use. That does not erase the fact that willingly and deliberately engaging in a relationship that at least one person does not consent to is WRONG. I'm not making any statement at all on how "wrong" that wrong is, because there are too many variables and nuances and even perceptions, and we're talking about hypotheticals here, not any specific relationship. But a creek is small next to the Pacific Ocean, and if you step in either of them, you're gonna get wet. Wet is wet, whether you like being wet or not.

Now, let's skip past the pragmatic reasons why being the mistress is a bad idea. Let's just move right past the middle-of-the-night phone calls from the angry wife, the death threats, the lawsuits, the fact that, if he's caught, this new love of yours loses everything anyway, the fact that he has to hide you & can't acknowledge you, that you will always be "the dirty little secret", that you will never be able to fully share his life with him (maybe you don't want to, I dunno), that this is a setup pretty much designed for creating unnecessary drama.

Let's forget, for the moment, the time my PLATONIC friend's girlfriend tracked down my parent's phone number and started calling their house while I was there visiting, shrieking into the phone to "stay away from my man you fucking whore!" Let's pretend I never got a call at 3 in the morning, waking me and my then-boyfriend, from my one-time boss's fiancee demanding to know who I was and how her man got my phone number.

Let's dismiss the daily 5 AM phone calls from my then-boyfriend's EX-wife (who thought that giving him a couch to sleep on when he was out of work made him her property) demanding to know where he was, whether he was with me or not, and who only stopped calling when I reported her to the police for harassment & had my phone company block her number back when I had a landline.

Let's brush off the stories I have from 3, count them THREE coworkers and one ex-boyfriend's brother who all had either a girlfriend or an ex-girlfriend actually shoot at them for believing they were cheating (only 1 actually was - 2 of these guys actually married the women AFTER the shooting incident, but that's another rant). And let's especially ignore the young woman who showed up at my house with a stolen pickup truck and her daddy's shotgun to tell me that some guy I barely knew and wasn't interested in was "taken" (also, I grew up in a city in California, not a Kentucky farm town). Let's also ignore the fact that a person willing to cheat *with* me is more likely to excuse cheating *on* me if he feels justified.

Let's just say that we both agree there are some risks involved with being the mistress of a cheating husband.

I want to talk about character and integrity. Sure, the cheater is an adult. Sure, he can make his own choices. Sure, it's not my job to make sure he behaves. But that doesn't then give me license to engage in behaviour that a person who is affected by did not consent to.

As a polyamorous person, I believe that a good relationship requires honesty, consent, and communication. When I am someone's mistress, when I am a cheatee, that relationship is missing all three of those elements. I am engaging in a relationship, willfully and deliberately, that someone did not agree to, and would not agree to it if she knew. I am removing her personal sovereignty to make choices about how her life should look and I am robbing her of her dignity to live the life she chooses.

I am not acting out of compassion or consideration for another human being. That means that I am putting my own desires as priority *to the detriment of others*, which is the very definition of "selfish".

Some people have tried to defend this position by saying the poor guy is in a really bad situation. We feel sorry for him! We *are* being compassionate, because his life is just awful, so we're bringing him some joy. Back to those hypothetical extremes - the wife already broke the marriage contract, the wife is refusing him sex or a particular kind of sex, he loves his wife and doesn't want to hurt her but he can't help his love for you (or his desire for sex and your body will do), so he's doing the best he can in a difficult situation.

Bullshit.

I guarantee that the wife has a different perspective than the one he's selling you. Oh sure, he probably really does believe what he's telling you. Most people, I think, are not outright liars and frauds. I think, most of the time, these guys really do see themselves in difficult positions with no "good" options, only less-worse options. And I'm willing to bet that, most of the time, they're not *completely* wrong.

But I still guarantee that the wife *also* doesn't see herself as the bad guy in the situation. It's pretty much a human trait that we rarely ever see ourselves as "bad guys". Even Saddam Hussein & Osama Bin Laden probably really believed that they were good, honorable men, fighting for truth and justice. Even "bad guys" have people who love them, who see them as good people.

In fact, that's at least one reason why we have The Entrenchment Effect - giving people facts doesn't actually change their opinions, because the cognitive dissonance between their view of themselves as a "good person" and the fact that they were wrong about something makes people dig their heels in and believe even harder against the evidence so that they don't have to see themselves as "not good".

So no matter what sob story you want to tell me that he's sold you on, I know there is another side to that story, and no matter whose side I actually believe, I have some compassion for the wife who is being cheated on.  It's really hard for people to put themselves in their metamour's position.  That's why we have so many couples willing to use veto power & make rules restricting other people's behaviour.  But we have to do it anyway, at least, we do if we want to be honest about being an ethical person.

Which makes all your claims of feeling "sympathy" for the poor cheater fall flat. Maybe the wife really is a horrible, evil bitch. But putting her into a relationship that she did not agree to, or violating her existing relationship agreements does not make you the white knight in the story. It makes you *both* bad guys. Maybe you're less of a bad guy than she is, but you just put someone in a relationship that they did not consent to and could not give informed consent to even if she was willing. We're supposed to arrest people for that.

But, even worse, maybe she's not a horrible, evil bitch. Maybe she's the kind of wife that the husband really loves, but who just doesn't share his interest in a particular kind of sex, so he has to go explore elsewhere.  That's what a lot of poly people say to justify their complicity in a cheating partnership.  Mono people will justify cheating with someone by the "the wife is a horrible person who trapped him" line, but poly people seem to be OK with the "his wife is actually a good person and he loves her, she just won't have sex with him and won't agree to an open marriage, so he has to get his needs met somehow."

Seriously? You really want to justify participation in a relationship that breaks the agreements of a woman who is good & kind & loving & worth keeping? She's wonderful enough that he doesn't want to leave her and *this* is the thanks she gets for being such a great wife? You have turned her life into a lie. She is not in the relationship she thinks she's in and YOU contributed to that. You have removed from this wonderful woman the right to make her own choice about her own relationships. You talk about his right to "choose", but what about hers?  Is the freedom of choice only reserved for people who choose what happens to benefit you?

I care very deeply about not hurting that wife. I care that she is having her relationship agreement broken. As someone said in a Facebook thread recently, "Relationships are like webs, you can't just tug on one string and pretend you aren't affecting the others. And I'm not saying anything beyond that about what to do or not to do, just that I'm uncomfortable with the idea that 'ultimately it's their choice, not mine'. Because you are making a choice to get involved in the situation."

My involvement with a cheater affects his wife. I am complicit in breaking an agreement. I am agreeing to violate someone else's boundaries. We do not have to have made the agreement ourselves to be able to violate an agreement. I never "agreed" never to trespass on private property, yet climbing the fence with a "No Trespassing" sign on it puts me in violation.

In fact, we don't even have to have done an illegal act to be an accomplice or an accomplice after the fact, in the eyes of the law, as long as we know about it and don't try to stop it or report it to the authorities. We have a social contract that says "I won't do these things to you and you don't do these things to me" and that's how we all get along. I try not to do the sorts of things that I don't want people to do to me (like violate their agency), because I know how much it would hurt me, so I have empathy for the other people and I don't want to hurt them.

I don't have to try and "police" the husband's relationship agreements for him. He is a grown-up and he can make his own choices. But so am I. And I choose not to violate another human being's right to "choose" her own relationship. I choose not to participate in a relationship that removes the right of choice from someone else. I choose not to willingly infringe upon another's personal sovereignty or dignity. And I choose not to perform actions that lead a person into a non-consensual relationship.

I do not respect anyone who defends the position that it is ever morally or ethically "right" to do any of those things. The lesser of two wrongs is still wrong, not right. It just means that the situation is complicated and there may be no "right" answer. But if there is no "right" answer, that means that the cheating is still wrong. That some people might benefit (such as "bringing joy into a person stuck in a loveless marriage") does not overwrite that other people do not. That some people have complicated and difficult lives and I feel sympathy for them does not require participating in activities that harm someone else.

And if the defender is also polyamorous, is also a community leader or activist or "celebrity" espousing the values of polyamory as a valid and, especially as an "ethical" relationship choice, not only do I not respect that person, I also think she's a hypocrite. Since I've already heard all the defenses, continuing to defend that position only makes the defender look worse in my eyes.

If you want to talk about compassion & ethics, I'll start listening when that compassion & ethical behaviour gets extended to the metamours. As someone who *is* a metamour, I try not to treat my metamours with any less compassion than I expect in return. I may not always succeed, but that is the standard to which I hold myself. And violating their relationship agreements is not compassionate nor ethical.
joreth: (polyamory)
This reminds me a lot of an argument in high school with very smart teenagers who like to argue philosophy and semantics as if their intelligence gives them insight into the world that the adults who came before them never grasped. Yes, I was one of those teenagers. The argument was on selfishness and whether there was any act anywhere that didn't ultimately boil down to selfishness. The argument goes that even altruism is a selfish act because people who perform acts of altruism do so because they feel good or otherwise get something out of it, ergo there is no such thing as an unselfish act.

Except, as I didn't realize at the time, the definition of selfishness requires that the person being selfish put himself at the top of the priority list *even when it harms other people*. Altruism, by definition, is not selfish. But, being smart and yet very young and arrogant, we were missing a fundamental part of the definition of the word that rendered all those hours debating this topic completely moot*.

Anyway, that's what this stance reminded me of. If you circled around and squinted your eyes, you could eventually reach the conclusion that you are given the title of "metamour" by the person you are dating whether you wanted it or not, that it's the choice of the "person in center" entirely. And I disagree.  You can continue to insist that the glass is half empty if you wish and it might be technically true if you ignore or are unaware of a particular necessary element, but I prefer to say that it's exactly 50% full of water and 50% full of air and therefore completely full.

I used the analogy that a person is given the title "fiance" when that person accepts a proposal of marriage, so the title comes along with the relationship. Afterwards, I think I have a better analogy. It's more like being given the title of sister-in-law or son-in-law when you get married. Technically, you are given that title whether you want to be someone's son-in-law or not. But there are 2 things that make being a metamour not exclusively the choice of someone other than you.

First is that, by agreeing to get into the relationship in the first place, you are *also* agreeing to be someone's metamour, or son-in-law. That just goes along with the romantic relationship - they're a package deal. You might not like the other person you are now tied to, but if you didn't want to be their in-law or their metamour, you don't have to be in a relationship with someone that includes that person.

You know that old saying, when you marry someone, you marry their whole family? Well, you do. You get whatever kind of relationship with your spouse's family that your spouse has with them. No, it's not the exact same relationship, but if you marry a mama's boy, you're gonna get the mother along with the son. If you marry someone who never sees her family, then you won't have much of a relationship with them either. Whoever your partner is attached to comes along, in some form or another, when they get involved with you, and your relationship to those other people is, in part, determined by the relationship between them and your partner who brought them along. If he's a hermit, then I guess you're off the hook.

Now some people manage to convince their partners to drop some family member or friend once the romantic relationship "gets serious". We all know the stereotype of a group of guys losing one of their best buddies because he got married and his wife doesn't like their weekly poker nights or football games. But I'd say that is more of an exception than the rule, because even if a lot of people manage to get their spouses to dump one friend or family member, the spouse still comes along with all their other friends, family, and co-workers.

We are a social species, we have attachments and alliances, and when we get involved with someone, we get all those attachments and alliances too, just as they get ours. That's part of the deal, and it's not like it's some big secret. As a matter of fact, "marriage" was initially all ABOUT those connections and alliances and love had nothing to do with it. The whole freaking point was to connect yourself to all these other people. So I don't think you can say that you just get this title assigned to you whether you like it or not. It's part of the deal that you agreed to.

Second, is that a metamour relationship *is* a relationship. The definition explains how you are connected, but it is a relationship all on its own. Just like being a daughter-in-law isn't only about "sharing" someone in the middle, it also explains what your relationship is to this other person. Also, just like being a daughter-in-law, there is a very wide variety in how that relationship can be expressed. Maybe you have no direct line of communication and you avoid each other, or maybe you're best friends, but the metamour connection *is* its own relationship.

Or, to put it in the original person's terms, "metamour" describes not only X with A and B but ALSO AB, the exact opposite of his claim that it describes "a and b but not ab".

Now, I'd wager that most of us don't have a sit-down with our fiance's brother to work out the boundaries and relationship details and how we're going to split our fiance/brother's time between us. Mostly, we just kind of meet the brother, see how we get along, and the in-law relationship develops on its own. If our fiance is very close with his brother, then before meeting him, we might have some idea of how our relationship with him ought to go, and we might try to direct the course of the relationship by intentionally trying to become his friend on the grounds that, if he's going to be around a lot, we ought to strike up some kind of alliance rather than be at odds.

And metamours are the same thing, just with more talking and usually more structure. Some of us have an idea in our heads before meeting the metamour of what kind of relationship we want to have with them, and we might try to steer our metamour relationship in that general direction. Some of us just wait until we meet the metamour to decide how we get along and how this will work into our lives. And still some of us have decided ahead of time exactly what kind of metamour relationship we will have and demand that it will work this way or not at all. Anyone who has ever had a pushy mother-in-law try to arrange your marriage for you knows that this is usually a bad idea, fosters resentment, and generally pisses people off. But some metamours try to do it anyway.

So, the point is that there are 2 ways in which the metamour relationship is a choice of all parties involved, and not some title bestowed upon you, whether you are willing to be one or not. As I said in my response to him, that since polyamory requires consent of all involved, that means, by default and definition, that you consent to be someone's metamour, and if you don't, it's cheating.

By agreeing to be in a romantic relationship with someone who has or will have another partner, you are, de facto, agreeing to be someone's metamour, just the way that agreeing to marry someone implies that you are agreeing to be someone's in-law (or, as I said in my original analogy, agreeing to marry someone makes you a fiance whether you want the "title" or not - the title comes along with the relationship). You cannot get just the person without everyone he or she is attached to (or will be attached to, if you are agreeing to open up a preexisting monogamous relationship). That is not polyamory, that is some other form of non-monogamy that doesn't include consent or ethics.

In addition, being someone's metamour, while defined by its connections, is not *solely* about the path of connections. Like all other genealogical connections, the metamour connection is *also* a relationship of its own. The reason why its definition is restricted to the connections is because, also like all other genealogical connections, there is no single way to be someone's metamour.  My cousin might be my dad's sister's child, but he's also *my cousin* - the boy I grew up playing soccer and climbing trees and sneaking through the space between the fence in my back yard and the fence in my neighbor's yard pretending we were hunting for buried treasure.

We *cannot* define these familial relationships by their content because the only thing they have in common is the connections of relationship that put them there. There is no constant of behaviour or emotional content that applies to all people in any given familial connection, as much as we might like to think there is, or as much as the media would like us to believe there is an ideal (or stereotypical) form of them. The stepmother is not always wicked, the father is not always distant but providing, the big brother is not always a bully, and the metamour is not always a rival.

>What is always constant is how a person was given that title in the first place - by the connection (and even then there are multiple paths to any given title). You are someone's metamour because your partner has another partner. But you had to take on that title voluntarily by agreeing to a romantic relationship that includes metamours, and the "title" describes an independent relationship all on its own.

Which should serve to remind everyone that metamours are not something you have to put up with or tolerate, or even something you can dismiss and ignore. You agreed to be a metamour, and you have a relationship with that other person. Polyamory is not something you are forced to do - if you are forced into it, it's not polyamory. This is why people should never be grudgingly dragged into polyamory. Everyone has to agree and accept, because it's no longer about you and your spouse. It's about all these other people *and your relationship to them*.

Your metamours are *YOUR* metamours. Yes, they are your partner's other partner, but they are also connected to YOU. Polyamory doesn't require that all metamours be BFFs, just like family doesn't require that all daughter-in-laws hate their mother-in-laws or all fathers and sons have male bonding moments over the exposed engine of a car. But it does require that you recognize that your metamour is a person and not some nebulous "other" floating out there on the far side of your "shared" partner, that this person is connected to YOU, and that you agreed to that relationship.

If any of those qualifications don't apply, it's not polyamory, and I'd suggest that it's also not healthy and you probably ought not to be there.



*For the record, I was on the side of "altruism is not selfish", but if I had known that about the definition, I could have won the debate from the start, instead of having to argue for, literally, hours about it with others who are also very smart but didn't know this was a fundamental part of the definition.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Someone made a post in a poly Facebook group that invited everyone to complete that sentence. So I did. Then I made a hashtag for it on Twitter. Then I realized that tweets don't last forever, so I'm making this post to archive them:

...you come home and your girlfriend's husband's girlfriend is in the front yard tending to the vegetable patch.

...you lay down at night and you have both your husband and wife laying beside you and your perfectly content to share your queen size bed with 2 other adults

...it takes both your husband and your partner about 36 hours long to 'forgive' you for bringing home a new dog and each hopes you intend for it to primarily live with the other. *inno*

...your girlfriend's partner's wife's boyfriend's kids are playing with your girlfriend's kid in the living room.

...you stay home happily napping because you know your boyfriend and your girlfriend and your other boyfriend are all contentedly playing D&D together for the evening.

...you don't own a TV.

...you go to make plans with your g/f but shes busy going out drinking with your other g/f... >.>'

...your husband looks at your potential new lover and says, "Shes spoiled." ( live with two of my lovers) :D

...you describe your metamour to someone as "my boyfriend's life partner".

...you walk down the street holding hands with two loves at once. and then you skip. cause how can you not?

...your hot threesome with two of your boyfriends is interrupted by one of their wives saying "are you guys done yet? Cuz I'm hungry!" and this causes laughter, not strife. (Joreth)

...someone asks you how your boyfriend is doing, and you answer "which one?" (Joreth)

...a msg from your bf's gf filled with evil plots to torture him is met with enthusiasm from all involved, not drama (Joreth)

...you have to clarify to the interviewer for the glossy magazine that honest to god, you get along just fine with your gal's husband, and that he perceives "tension" in your voice because that's what he's expecting to find.

...you have to repeat yourself to the interviewer "no, there really isn't one I love better than the others and no amount of rephrasing the question will change the answer" (Joreth)

...trying to explain who is involved with whom and how, confuses everyone, including yourself until you pull out the chart. (Joreth)

...said chart is color coded, requires a legend, and is on your iphone because this happens to you so often, you need to keep it with you at all times. (Joreth)

...you're hanging out with your husband, your girlfriend and your girlfriend's husband... and you realize for the first time in your life you're really, truly sexually content.

...most of your friends knit.

...your partners have a pseudo show down on who is going to pick up the kid because you are too sick to manage it as usual. "I will pick him up." "no, I will." "no, I will."

...your husband tells you your boyfriend is adorable.

...saying "Ma…Ste…Sar…Ke… shit!" isn't a mom mixing up kids' names, but you mixing up partners! (Joreth)

...you throw out terms like "metamour" & "compersion" & no one listening stops you for definitions (Joreth)

...the kinky butch lesbian at work says "girl, I thought *I* was weird!" (Joreth)

...a sign of commitment is your bf's wife asking your opinion on mattresses for the MegaBed she's building (Joreth)

..."honey, what's for dinner?" turns into a 3 day email conversation & a panicky group IM chat (Joreth)

...you log in to Facebook to find your husband has changed his display picture to one of him and your boyfriend.

...your girlfriend periodically rotates her Facebook profile picture to give all of her men their fair share of time at her side.

...you and your boyfriend can't wait to compare notes on your dates the night before.

    ...(Oh, and hubby has already been filled in. :-)

...your husband hums the Hockey Night in Canada theme as you leave the room to have "quiet time" with your boyfriend. There is no hockey game on.

...your girlfriend and boyfriend take you home after being in an exhausting show, feed you wine and poutine and let you whine about being sooooo sick while your husband takes care of the boy.

...you're out for coffee with your girlfriend and she notices the hickey on your neck from your husband and lends you her scarf so you don't get mocked at work ♥

...you're borrowing your Halloween costume from your husband's gf.

...you see a Poly couple on Anderson Cooper's Show and get totally excited and can't think of who you're going to call first, the boyfriend or the girlfriend.

...you answer "how come you never married?" with "because 2 of my boyfriends are already legally married, and the other boyfriend's finances are a mess so I don't want to get dragged into that. But I might marry one of my boyfriend's other girlfriends for the medial benefits she gets at work if we move to a state with domestic partnership laws." (Joreth)

           -You know you're an OUT poly when you realize you just said this to your new boss.

...you ditch your socially full Friday night to be with your parents at the emergency vet watching your family dog pass away after a horrible accident and come home to your two men trading off showing you love, support and caring by listening, giving you food and a large martini. I am so blessed and grateful for my family and what we have all created (including my parents!)

...someone asks if you're single, & you respond: "Yes. Wait. ...Well, Mostly? ...Do you mean sexually or emotionally?" (@themaili)

...dating one person makes you think, "...wow. my social calendar feels so open. I should call up my old friends..." (@themaili)

...your boss giving you a plus-one to the company holiday party puts you in a moral & ethical dilemma. (@themaili)

...you hand your phone to one partner to take a sexy pic to send to another partner (@rsetzer314)

...you tag a partner in an ambiguous post on FB ("winning") and the partner you live with hits "like" (@rsetzer314)

...you add 'metamour' and 'frubbly' to the dictionary on your phone. (@notpilgrim)

...you realize you're hitting on the waitress, cause your date starts flirtatiously playing wingman for you. (@themaili)

...you hear that some guy is hitting on your wife and the first thing out of you mouth is "you go girl" (@Artofpaint)

...you want a caldav server to keep track of your dates. (@Artofpaint)

...you get grumpy because a romantic comedy doesn't end in a joyful orgy (@nanayasleeps)

...you have to ask "Whose hand is that?" (@relsqui)

...every romantic comedy you see you spend shouting JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER FOR CHRISSAKE. (@themaili)

...you send an iPhone postcard of the [romantic] mountain getaway to your metamour. (@cunningminx)

...you reflexively go to change the station everytime you hear a song lyric like "you're the only one" or "only you" (@themaili)

...the pic of your current partners is the wallpaper on your work computer #outandproud (@youngmetropoly)

...you know that love has no limits but time does (@HeavenlyWillow)

...your child, watching some sitcom, says "Why don't they just talk to each other??" 

...you pull up your file of your mate's sexy photos to find some for him to post to his online dating profile. And you're grinning the whole time! 

...your girlfriend casually mentions going on a date w/you to your wife's dad, and it's a Good Thing. 

...you wish your girlfriend happy anniversary but it's not YOUR anniversary. 

...Winterval gets expensive just buying for your partners (@xmakina)

...you tell her you had sex with her boyfriend in the shower and her first question is about the physical logistics. -F (@labcoatlingerie)

...you are just as excited about your love falling for another woman as he is. (@Shykokami)

...you run out of colors on your Google calendar. (@kelleytastic)

...you wonder why the characters in soap operas bother to marry each other one at a time. (@TriniPagan)

... you miss your girlfriend, and your wife comforts you. #NoNotLikeThatIMeanAHug #NotAllAboutTheSex 

...your network can spread a cold across national boundaries. *achoo* (@FranklinVeaux)

...you stress about introducing your new potential to your ex & their partners (@themaili)

...you can't wait to introduce your new potential to your exes & their partners! (@Kalyana)

...your metamour asks you what color scarf you want knitted. (@cunningminx)

...your metamour mournfully apologizes for disrupting sex between you & the shared GF (@MarkSobba)

...after you've been dumped your primary tries to comfort you by saying "we broke up once too" (@rsetzer314)

..."I'm currently on the lookout for a curvy girl." "You'd probably like my girlfriend." XD (@relsqui)

...you're having a moment of weakness to reach for the phone to call your recent ex & your husband says "don't do it!" (@PolyDen)

...your wife keeps washing underwear and giving them to you, but they don't belong to you, they belong to your husband's other girlfriend. (@Heidi Britt)

...the Canadian court decision makes you want to stage a kiss-in at the courthouse. bit.ly/tUq9q7

...every time you see "it's complicated" FB #relationship status for someone you don't know, you think "closeted #poly." (@themaili)

...you have to take both your paramours on a date in the front row at campus movie night so the whispering crowd will finally get it that it's not a secret!

...your boyfriend's girlfriend comes up with a brilliant idea, and you glow with pride to be part of such an awesome network of people. (Yes, me, just now, at this. :) ) (@Emanix)

...you make sure the UU minister who is to marry you deletes the words "foresaking all others" from the vows - and she takes it all in stride because she knows full well why you asked her to do it without your having to explain. (Anita Wagner)

...you have a romantic candlelit dinner for three (@Emanix)

...you ask a metamour about who's partnering who to your other partner's wedding, & both end up with a 'plus one-half'. (@Emanix)

...you hear the word #unicorn and you don't immediately think of a mythical horse with a horn. (@youngmetropoly)

...you giggle like a school girl gushing to your HUSBAND about seeing your BOYFRIEND. (@funkristy)

...you ask your partner for opinions on Valentine's gifts for your boyfriend (@OxfordPoly)

...you can't decide if 'friend/partner of a friend' or 'my partner's partner's partner' is a nearer connection (@Emanix)

...half of any relationship is spent learning new terminology (@NiaCJohn)

...you out your hubby’s crush TO HIS CRUSH, & your 1st thought is: I REALLY hope he’s home getting great sex. (@themaili)

...your girlfriends send each other photos of themselves with the bears you got them last weekend (@xmakina)

...your weekend is as likely to involve watching cartoons in bed w/a sweetie as it is a hot threesome. #NotAllAboutTheSex 

...spending the weekend "at home" could mean any of 4 different houses in 2 different cities. 

...one person dropping out of a weekend causes a complete reshuffle of sleeping arrangements for everyone. (@Emanix)

...you have to explain that, no, he can't come to the orgy cuz he's not part of the network & hasn't been tested (Joreth)

...you have to further explain that there is a surprising amount of logistical planning when it comes to orgies (Joreth / Franklin)

...your conservative Christian coworker tries to set you up with his younger brother because his brother refuses to "settle down" and your coworker thinks you've figured out how to do it responsibly & safely & without "the crazy chicks". (Joreth)

...your conservative Christian coworker asks you for sexual safety advice when he and his wife start talking about having a threesome. (Joreth)

...your mono "friends" confide in you about their cheating cuz they think you'll "get it". (Joreth)

...your cheating mono "friends" are then surprised to get a lecture from you about safety, compassion, & insensitivity. (Joreth)

...you have certain phrases on auto-response & don't even have to think about them, they just come out: yes he knows & he's OK with it; no I'm really not jealous of his wife; of course they both know, if they didn't, it would be cheating; actually, they were both friends with each other before I started dating either of them; I did find The One - in fact, I found several Ones; I am settled down, they are my family; my relationships ARE real relationships; no, I'm not a Mormon.

...at a wedding, there's a special photo for 'partners of the bride & groom'. <3 (@Emanix)

...people look at your "family" and say "nice entourage!" (@deadhead_moni)

...your boyfriend takes you to his office Christmas party. On the way, you stop at your other boyfriend's house to get the coat he borrowed from your boyfriend.. Boyfriend needs pants for the party, so gets a loan of fancy pants from your other boyfriend. Boyfriend needs office party gift wrapped, so your girlfriend offers to wrap it all pretty for him. You both get kissed and hugged goodbye as you leave for the party! (PS.. for those who are still confused, there were four poly people involved in this story.)

...you're out Christmas shopping and hold up the cashier because you're distracted simultaneously texting one boy about last night, a second boy about tonight, and a third about tomorrow night!

...you're making presents for 8 parents (two sets for one of us due to a remarriage).

...you are out browsing with your husband and son and your husband finds the perfect gift for your boyfriend on sale.

...you spend more time talking about sex than having it.

...you're talking about a schedule for showering in the morning with your wife and GF and just decide to have one together.

...Facebook's new Timeline shows a random image of six of your friends, and all six are crushes.

...nobody seems to have done anything wrong, but suddenly everything is all fucked up.

...your husband doesn't remember the date of his anniversary with his girlfriend, so you have to find it for him using the records in his Google Calendar.

... on your partner's Facebook profile it shows you a thumbnail box of eight mutual friends, and you've been intimate with all eight of them.

...you invite all your friends over and realise you've dated all of them, or their partners, at some point in time.

...you're in bed with your girlfriend checking out profiles on OKCupid and comparing notes.

    ...and then she gets a text from her boyfriend and has to jump out of bed to go check her Google calendar.

...you agree to go to a movie with your husband even though it is going to scare you silly and you hate being scared all because you realize he deserves it because he willingly stays home with the kids so you can have overnights with one of your loves.

...you are in bed with your boyfriend while he is texting his wife... and you love it . or when your hubby offers to stay out so you and your bf can have a sleep over at house

...you're making a fancy dinner for your two sweeties.

...your husband calls your boyfriend cupcake and boyfriend calls husband muffin! Lmao....totally platonically.

...your husband helps you pick out an outfit for your date with your boyfriend.

...your bf tends the kids so hubby and you can go to the hot springs for playtime with another couple. Teehee

...a calendar is more valuable to you than money o.o

...boyfriend has to buy two packages of condoms because he forgot which size husband needs....lolol..

...your boyfriend shows up with flowers for you, and beer for your husband and a movie to all snuggle up to

...talking on the phone to a far-away partner about their budding relationship (and accompanying sexy misadventures) with another person makes you feel fuzzy and warm inside.

...you are home alone, because your partner is on a date, your girlfriend is in another city, and your lover is at work.

...your partner asks you "why are you so dressed up this morning, is there a cute girl at work?"

...your sleeping-arrangement negotiations have to include whose bed the cat will sleep in.

...you're at a break-up dinner party hosted by your partner A and his ex B, your ex X messages you seeing if you want to hang out tonight, and when your girlfriend G notices X checked in on foursquare at his apartment (after a spell of international check-ins) you suggest to her (G) that you and G surprise crash X's place since you haven't seen him since many poly meets ago and both you and G both think he's cute.

...you often confuse people in your life when you mention other people in your life and don't have your current (and past) polycule diagram on hand.

...you just knew passing up that potential GF was going to kick your ass eventually. And holy fuck did it ever!

...you stay up late poly processing about twice as often as you stay up late having sex.

...you think about whether you're doing it wrong at *least* once a week, and share that with other poly people (because the non-poly friends stopped getting it).

...you can't see your lover often because she lives in another city, but you find time to flirt publicly on a social media group for poly people.

...you're reading this and getting all frubbly, or you're thinking 'yep, me too'.

...your boyfriend comes over to be cheerleader for job interviews because hubby is *not* so good at that....

...you wonder where all the time went.

...you are chatting with an online friend you haven't met in person- but are attracted to- and mutually agree to do a smooch test for compatibility when you do end up meeting in person.

...you're saddened by the difficulty one of your metamours (who identifies as mono) is having with the fact that your shared partner is poly. Due to the fact that she is not poly, she wants nothing to do with meeting you but you really wish she would so you could try to help her understand. You just wish you could go for a beer with her and give her a hug

...you're scheduled to sing at your boyfriend's upcoming wedding reception.

...you can flirt with multiple people simultaneously, within the same thread on a FB discussion.

...you deliver your boyfriend to your girlfriend so he can take her shopping for sex toys, and, after kissing them both in the lobby of a 5-star hotel (where you'd been hiding from the rain), you text your girlfriend to remind your boyfriend to pick up lube.

...the new guy you're dating turns out to have been a jerk, and you talk to your boyfriend about it and he gives you snuggles to help you feel better.

...you chat on Skype with your best friend, talking about the hot sex she just had with your boyfriend

...your boyfriend comes over to make sure you are OK when hubby and you are having difficulty and does his very best to support the both of you without being "in the middle"

...you like one partner's Facebook comment but not the other's, and then you start to wonder if the other partner will be offended that you didn't like their comment, and then you wonder if you should just like all their comments just to be fair to both of them.

...metamour bonding includes all three people in the V sharing a bed, and you're so impressed with the intimacy that was created from caring about the same person.

...your metamours console you about a rough breakup.

... you break up with your partner and their other partner reaches out to help you get through it. (Joreth)

... you break up with your partner and your other partners and metamours are shocked and upset that your now-former partner's other partners *didn't* reach out to help you get through it, because your current partners & metamours assume that family is family and a breakup doesn't necessarily change that, so the metamours through the former partner should have. (Joreth)

...there is nowhere on the internet to discuss your poly joys or sorrows that doesn't include at least part of your romantic network.

...your new love interest comes over to meet your primary, your bf shows up too in a protective gesture lol.

...after (a most unusual) 3 weeks in which nearly every night has been spent with a partner, you are foolishly, blissfully happy to find yourself alone in your own bed.

...your girlfriend says how happy she is to be alone in her bed after several weeks, and you and her other girlfriend both have the same thought- what about the cat?

...you spontaneously ride out to meet your metamour for a quick lunch on the beach, then make sure to check both of you in together on Facebook because you know it will make your sweetie happy.

...you have laundry. ALL THE LAUNDRY.

...you're home all alone because your partner is on a date, and your out of town lover, who is also on a date, texts you at the start of hers to tell you how it's going, and this makes you feel cared about.

...you send four texts in a row to different people, all containing the mathematical expression, less than three.

...you read stuff like this pretty much every day on your newsfeed, because the vast majority of your FB friends are either your lovers, your former lovers, your metamours, or part of your poly community.

...you try to create a Facebook list called "Polyfamily," and you struggle to remember everyone who's supposed to be on it, and even when you're finished, you're pretty sure you've forgotten someone.

...you negotiate relationships as early as the day after a first date because you know you have a full plate of things to put energy into. You feel a little sad but empowered to be saying no.

...you text "I love you & miss you" to a partner that reminds you to text another. I love being loved!

...you're giddy with excitement to have made a coffee date with your very first poly metamour!

...you get stuck home with the kids when hubby is gone for the weekend and original plans with so get all screwed up because he suddenly gets invited out, and you can't go

...you haven't dated in a decade b/c school, work and home made your schedule too full, so now that you are dating, you need your husbands help to make sure you aren't making a fool of yourself. And when he sees you talking to said interest online, he finds something else to do instead of asking for the computer b/c you are obviously doing something more important that him checking FB.

...your husband gives you his fortune and it reads "Your meaning of love is special. Why not share it."

...you go on a date, come home to your boyfriend, and send a message to your lover excited about it.

...you encourage your partner to go on dates because reconnecting after is so much fun and you have so much to say to each other.

...Friday night plans involve a game of musical beds amongst some of your closest friends, with your roommate having an overnight at yours/her boyfriend's place so your girlfriend can have an overnight with you while her hubby has an overnight with his girlfriend. #keepingitsimple

...you spend your Friday night talking poly with you metamour and consider it a well spent evening.

...you have plans for dinner next week and as a trained pastry chef you let go of the reigns to let said metamour bring dessert.

...you can't keep track of who all the toothbrushes belong too. (compounded when you have poly roommates)

...you ask how she feels about sneaking off for a quickie at an upcoming engagement. Her reply: with who?

...you sneak in a quickie with hubby before going out with your other sweetie

... you ask your husband, "may I have some of your potato chips." He responds, "as long as you don't take more than half." And you answer, "That is a very clear boundary that I can respect."

...your husband writes a post on a poly forum on April fools morning stating that you are pregnant by your boyfriend and it could be true if he weren't fixed.

...you exchange contact info and ask if they want to link Google calendars to "make it simpler".

...you need to get someone quickly out of a bad situation, and 12 people and 4 trucks show up with 6 hours notice to get it done in under two hours. Yay community!

...you set up a date with an online acquaintance at the local fet night, as a double date with your husband and his girlfriend...and your date is totally okay with the arrangement.

...this thread gives you a bigger and bigger smile that is equal parts recognition, compersion and "oh, I want THAT"! 

...you think about inviting a new lover to something you regularly attend with your partner, and wonder what your partner would think about that... then remember that your partners other lover comes too

...you spend an awesome night out at the club with your husband and metamour then come home to hang out. She stays the night and is there to help you care for your sick husband the next day.

...your boyfriend and your roommate (who happens to also be dating your boyfriend) make extra food for you cos you haven't eaten all day and have tons of work to do, and you smile as you hear them giggling and making out as you get back to work at the computer for the evening

...you totally get the title of this book and want to read it: http://www.amazon.com/Polyamori-gypsysattva-ebook/dp/B006UTL748/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327351717&sr=8-1 (@diparra27)

...it fucking sucks to be in the middle of dating 2 people who are each dating one half of a shitty breakup. (
@themaili)

...you find yourself joking, "no YOUR partner did something dumb" ...about the person you're (both) dating. (
@themaili)

...watching your partner dance w/draw on another woman makes you grin like an idiot (@rsetzer314)

...you spend your evening wrapping ALL your metamour's bday presents because your partner sucks at it (@OxfordPoly)

...pillow talk includes discussing other partners or potential partners (@rsetzer314)

...you go to a bisexual meetup with your metamour and have to keep saying 'our partner' instead of 'my partner' (@OxfordPoly)

...your girlfriends go to IKEA together… to purchase a bigger bed. (@sfslim)

...you are negotiating boundaries in your relationships via grouptext. (
@themaili)

..."I'm really glad you can be there for her" turns into a makeout session. (
@themaili)

...your boyfriend helps you revise your okcupid profile. ("How do I find more people I like as much as I like you?") (@relsqui)

...you're planning a first date on IM, while you watch boyfriend play video games, and his girlfriend is making dinner. (@relsqui)

...you fantasise about living in a farm house to accommodate you and your lovers, even though you hate rural living. (@redfernjohn)

...the family schedules a time on the calendar to schedule time on the calendar. True story. 

...someone cute mentions an upcoming date, & your default response is to flirt by offering cute date ideas. (
@themaili)

...you & your metamours spend quality time razzing your shared partner. (
@themaili)

...you are watching the LGBT pride parade with your metamour, and having a blast! (@polyamorypundit)

...you ask your wife what your girlfriend's favorite condom flavor is. :-) 

...your poly perspective takes the funny out of a comedian's routine presuming universal monogamy. (@polymisanthrope)

...your boyfriend's wife knits you a scarf for Valentine's Day. And it matches your outfit perfectly! (@cunningminx)

...your husband offers to make a romantic candlelight dinner for you and your girlfriend on #valentinesday. (@rosefox)

...you're forced to answer your friend's "How's your love life?" at a party w/ "...We should catch up over dinner." (
@themaili)

...you have a dream that the girl you're crushing on, and her boyfriend, turn out to be poly already. (@FishAye
)

...sharing Google calendars has become the official First Step in turning "dating" into big-r Relationship. (Joreth)

...your boyfriend's other girlfriend comes to visit you, even though your mutual boyfriend doesn't even live in your state, and you take her out swing dancing because that's another thing you have in common with her that even your boyfriend doesn't share. (Joreth)

...meeting your high school sweetheart's new girlfriend makes you feel compersion even though they're mono & you haven't dated him in nearly 20 years. (Joreth)

...you apply same justification for poly (metamours are opportunities to make new friends) to defend why it's OK to stay friends with exes (partner's exes are opportunities to make new friends / exes' new partners are opportunities to make new friends) even in mono culture. (Joreth)

...you text your boyfriend with a deliberately-misleading-but-technically-true "I met a dancer & took him home last night!" message and when you explain the details and it's not what it sounds like, your boyfriend is actually disappointed for you that it's not what it sounded like instead of jealously relieved that it was a joke, because he knows how much you'd like to date another dancer.

    ...the same thing happens when you do again to your other boyfriend. (Joreth)

...you realize that the "celebrity exception" lists that you thought were a safe way to fantasize with your partner about other people because it could never really happen aren't so safe because it could actually happen.

...you realize that said "celebrity exception" list is actually more exciting knowing that it really could happen and you're totally OK with that.

...you exchange dirty emails with a celebrity you idolize and arrange a second tryst, preferably in his town next time, and when you tell your boyfriend about it, he gives you a high-five and a "RIGHT ON!" (Joreth)

...My husband lost his phone. The first thing I did was message his girlfriends to let them know. ‪

...you start making valentine's plans before xmas, which include a romantic dinner for eleven. (@Emanix)

...you realise you need a bigger table for your romantic valentines dinner for nine. (@Emanix)

...someone's talking about unicorns and you assume they are talking about single bisexual females

...you just did laundry for three days and you realize none of it was yours.

...you've ever used the word metamour in casual conversation

...you use the phrase "my boyfriend's girlfriend" in a non-joking context.

...you mention your "girlfriend's girlfriend" in the office and everyone stops what they're doing to stare agape at you

...you and your husband are talking about his girlfriend in public and people think you're joking.

...u show up at work with love marks and when asked if your wife was hungry and you say yes they sure were.

...someone says they spoke to your girlfriend or wife and you answer with "You are going to have to be more specific."

...you redesigned your kitchen to make space for an industrial three-bay sink and a six-burner stove, and your cookware looks like it could easy roast a whole pig!

...you wake up in bed with your boyfriend and his wife.

...you're watching a show or movie and the main characters are in a love triangle with drama, the first thing to come to mind would be "they wouldn't have problems if they were poly,"

...you have an opinion on "couple's privilege,"

...you find yourself giving your gf/bf/wife etc. dating advice and/or counseling on their other relationship(s)

...you've helped your husband pick out a gift for his wife

...you have a Google calendar called "dates" that is shared with more than 2 people

...you have ever found another woman's underwear in your bedroom floor and laughed trying to identify who's they were

...you decided to go to "no gift Christmas" because re-financing the house every year wasn't an option

...you ever smiled while seeing your partner kiss someone else

...you've spent the last few evenings helping your partner process her transition with your former metamour - with and without your nesting partner there helping - you might be poly.

...your boyfriend's wife calls your partners to remind you to get ready for the dinner cruise with him. (@AnneRialen)

...between partners and metamours planning valentines week requires the coordination of seven people's schedules (@RandyFrehse)

...your bfs wife is baking cookies for her bf and sends some to you just because (@tixarah)

...you call out "Honey!” and more than one person answers back. (@AnneRialen)

...If the town gas station attendant pulls you to the side to inform you that your husband was spotted "seeing someone else" and you reply with "yea I needed a break - I've been with them every night this week"

...you end up with a husband-in-law.

...you somehow manage to get engaged to your husband's girlfriend *at your wedding(Joreth)

...the woman you proposed marriage to marries another, and then promptly re-proposes back to you at the wedding. (Joreth)

...your boyfriend becomes your outlaw and his girlfriend (you) becomes his fiance-in-law. (Joreth)

...the Bride & Groom nearly end up in a sword fight over who gets the Best Mate on whose side. (Joreth)

...And then the Best Mate and the Groom nearly end up in a sword fight over who gets the Bride. (Joreth)

... The Bride & the Best Mate don't need to get into a sword fight over the Groom because they've already tag-teamed him and they have a contingency plan to save him for food when the zombie apocalypse happens. (Joreth)

...your extra-competitive partner can't let you Eiffel Tower her more than she's Eiffel Towered you, so she and your other partner literally stop what they're doing to Eiffel Tower you a few more times (whether you consented to it or not), and invent a Tower of Babylon while they're at it so that you can't even hope to catch up when it's your turn to Eiffel Tower her later. (Joreth)



1. I left out attributions to the Facebook contributors since FB requires real names. If you want yours to be attributed, feel free to say so in the comments, along with your preferred name, and I'll edit this post.

2. I will periodically re-check the hashtag & FB thread and update this post with new additions.  Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
joreth: (polyamory)
How To Share:

One of the biggest concerns/complaints that I hear from poly newbies (or, rather, from monogamous partners of poly newbies who are only reluctantly poly) is the division of time. If I work 8 hours a day, spend 1 hour a day in commute traffic, and sleep 8 hours a day, that gives me only 6 hours a day with my spouse. If some of that time is spent doing chores & eating dinner, that really only leaves the weekends. How can you ask me to give up any of the only 48-hours left to someone else?

Well, as Franklin continues to point out, it's not a zero-sum game if you can learn to value all your time with your partner as quality time, even if there are other people present. This doesn't mean that alone-time is totally worthless, just that shared-time *also* isn't totally worthless. In fact, it could very well turn out to be some of your most important relationship-building time ever!

This is something that my parents taught me.

For example, by definition, the entire time I've known my parents, they've had kids. This means that they almost never got any "alone time". Babysitters are expensive. Usually, anytime my parents wanted to do something special with each other, they had to take us kids along. But instead of begrudging our presence, my parents valued "family time". Their relationship to each other was redefined once us kids came along and it was no longer just about the two of them, it was about the four of us. Sure, they did still hire babysitters and, once, they even had my grandmother come stay with us for a week so they could go to Hawaii. But they were not a "couple", they were a family of four.

In my family, my parents anniversaries were never a private matter. Their smallest celebrations always included us kids - usually dinner at a nice restaurant. But for their special milestones, they had big gatherings. My parents viewed celebrations of their relationship as things to be celebrated with others. Just like their wedding was an honoring of their commitment to each other by including their family and friends, other celebrations of their relationship, such as anniversaries, were also considered to be honoring their commitment by including their friends.

In other words, my parents' anniversaries and special celebrations that were all about the two of them were considered to be more honored and more special by including their family and friends in the celebration of my parents.

There's something special about sharing your relationship with others, about having those you care about most gather together to help you honor the relationship that you have with someone else. It's why we have big wedding ceremonies and big receptions afterwards. If relationships and relationship commitments were considered "private", there would be no wedding industry. We'd all stand before the officiate of our choice with a couple of witnesses for legal purposes and then have private "celebrations" after the legal work is done. Sure, some people do, but it's certainly not how our society thinks such things ought to be done.

In monogamous society, we already have a template for sharing our relationships with others. We already have a precedent for making a relationship between two people even more special by including others in a celebration of that relationship. In polyamory, it's no different in concept. It's only different in scale.

My relationship with my partners are each strengthened and honored when we share our love for each other with those closest family and friends. When my metamours can be present to witness how much my partner and I love each other, when they can participate by celebrating with us, our relationship to each other is made more intimate, at the same time that it deepens each of our respective relationships with them for having honored ours. When I can witness and celebrate their relationships and their love for each other, their relationships are made better for my honoring of their relationships, and my relationship with both my partner and my metamour is also strengthened by allowing me to participate in some part of their relationship together.

Just as, to me, a wedding without my sister there as my maid of honor, or a milestone wedding anniversary that my parents couldn't wish me happiness at, would be diminished for the lack of their presence, my relationships with my sweeties would be less without the presence of their loved ones and my other loved ones to help us celebrate. My parents celebrate their anniversaries with their children, and sometimes their extended relatives, because, to them, that is what their relationship with each other was all about - the foundation for building a family.

And that's what polyamory is all about to me too - building a family. The very idea of my time with any of my partners being diminished or lacking in quality just because a metamour is present is like saying my parents' anniversary celebrations are somehow diminished because us kids were there for it. Time spent alone with a single partner is *different* than time spent in a group, and sometimes we do need to prioritize alone-time over group time. But the idea of it not being *quality* time just doesn't compute to me. My parents wanted grown-up time without us kids, and we kids certainly wanted kid-time without them, but having the kids around was not a lack of quality time with each other. If anything, it was a greater quality because we were a family, and having us kids be there only reinforced that we were a family.

Having my partners and metamours present does not take away from the quality of my time with each of my partners. If anything, it's a greater quality to have everyone present because we're a family. Sure, I still want alone-time with each of my partners, and that alone-time provides a certain type of intimacy that the group-time doesn't. But it's not just me and him. Just like my parents are not a couple - they're a couple with a family, my partners and I are not a couple - we're couples with a family. And I learned that lesson from my monogamous, fidelitous, Christian parents. These are the "family values" I can support.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
[livejournal.com profile] cunningminx is doing a new segment at Poly Weekly, in which listeners write or call in their happy poly moments.  I recently had one, so I thought I'd email her mine.  I don't know if it will get read on the show, but since I also have a polyamory tag here, I thought I'd relate the story for my LJ too:

I had a happy poly moment last November when the metamour from my then-partner came into town for a visit.  I was dating [livejournal.com profile] zen_shooter at the time, who lives half the month in my town and half the month in another state for work.  He is dating[profile] may_dryad who lives in the other state, but not the same town and both have family at home, so they rarely get any alone-time.  So she came into town for his birthday and I was planning on leaving his house before she arrived so they could have their alone-time right from the start.  But the night before, [info]zen_shooter and I had sex and made a mess of the sheets.  I thought it would be nice if the sheets were clean before they used them together.  So I did some laundry while he did errands before picking her up.  [info]zen_shooter air-dries all his laundry to be environmentally friendly, but it leaves his sheets and towels rather stiff and scratchy.  [info]may_dryad and I both prefer to put our linens in the dryer, so I figured, since I was doing laundry anyway, I would throw in one of his towels especially for her and put it in the dryer.

Well, the laundry took a little longer than expected, and they both arrived a few minutes before it was done, which means that I couldn't make myself scarce for them (not that either of them objected to me being there).  But the upside is that I got to present to her a freshly laundered and dried towel especially for her use while she visited.  She was very appreciative and I left them to their alone-time feeling helpful and knowing that she knew that I valued her presence in his life.  I enjoyed showing her that I cared about her by listening to her comments of scratchy towels and doing something for her that she would appreciate (for those who curious - that would be the Service-Oriented Love Language, which is explained in the awesome book "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman)
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Wow.  I sent in this month's Miss Poly Manners segment to Poly Weekly and Minx loved it so much that she made it the topic of the whole show!  I'm so excited!  It's all about how to greet the new metamour.  Minx says it's the best segment so far!  That's a hard compliment to follow, hopefully I'm up to the task for next month!  So, everyone go visit Poly Weekly or download it from iTunes!

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