joreth: (being wise)
"What does it mean when my partner..."

Dunno, ask them.

"But what are they trying to say when they..."

Dunno, ask them.

"Would my partner like it if..."

Dunno, ask them.

"What is my partner thinking when they..."

Dunno, ask them.

"Should I..."

Dunno, ask them.

"But they won't tell me!"

That's your answer then.

Nobody can read your partner's mind for you and translate what they're thinking. I don't care what that psychic with the neon sign says, nobody can do that. The only answer you're going to get is from your partner.

Silence is an answer. Probably not the answer you want, but it's an answer. If you have outright asked them, in no uncertain terms, to explain themselves, and they blatantly, clearly refuse to tell you, then you're asking the wrong question.

The correct question in this case is "can I remain in a relationship with someone who cares so little for me and this relationship that they won't communicate with me even with direct questioning?"

And that's a question only you can answer. Nobody in a forum or online group can answer any of these question for you. You have to ask the person you need the answer from, either your partner, or yourself.
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: (polyamory)
I'm considering two new poly terms for the glossary. This is the definition:
a cishet person (usually male) who fetishizes his partner's bi/queer sexual orientation and who uses said partner to obtain new partners to fulfill his fantasy of group sex with people of the genders/orientations he is fetishizing.
Which do y'all like?

Fisherman / Fishing (he uses his queer/bi partner for "bait" to "fish" for another woman for FMF threesomes)

Muskratting (from Elon Musk and his creepy partnership with Grimes, particularly the weird unicorn hunting attempt with Azeala Banks)

I think Muskratting is funnier / more clever, but I also think it's less intuitive because it relies on a knowledge of current events and is basically a fad, so in the future (and not that far off), people won't really understand why it's called that. So I'm not sure which direction I want to push this in.

Thoughts?

(P.S. - I didn't come up with either of these terms so I have no emotional connection to them. I saw them in a poly forum and I think it's a useful concept to include in a glossary - I mean, since I have terms like "cowboy", "cuckoo", "polywog", and "french kiss" in there)
joreth: (being wise)
www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988/ - IMDB
www.crazyrichasiansmovie.com/ - Official Website

So, I just saw a pre-screening of Crazy Rich Asians. And I fucking loved it. Seriously, put it on your calendars to watch when it comes out for wide-release and give it a good opening weekend box office return.

I normally can't stand rom-coms and rom-drams, although I watch a lot of them (film student, movie review podcaster, masochist). They basically all go the same way - by following the standard Rom-Com Formula (TM) and occasionally picking one step to change as the "twist" in the film:

1) Neurotic young, thin woman who is a) hyperactive; b) clumsy (because that's how you make unobtainably attractive women feel "relatable"), and/or c) brusque and perfectionist meets ...

2) Extremely attractive man who is either a) emotionally distant, b) charming and charismatic; or c) warm yet stoic.

3) Woman and Man have everything or nothing in common and get thrown together by circumstance, whereupon they immediately proceed to hate each other.

4) As more and more things go wrong, continuing to keep the characters together, they are forced to reveal a vulnerability or two that erases or excuses whatever character flaw that has been their defining feature up until this point, so that

5) The characters fall in love with each other, but are not aware of it yet, because

6) The resolution of the continuing conflicts happens so that the characters are no longer forced to be together.

7) In their pending or ensuing absence, True Love is finally revealed and one character rushes to share the revelation with the other character before it's Too Late.

8) Optional ending: It is already Too Late, and the rushing character goes home dejected, but then the Plot Twist intervenes and fixes whatever it was that makes it Too Late so that the other character now shows up at the first character's home to confess their own undying love.

Additional elements that rom-coms might throw in can include:
  • The ex-lover who sows seeds of dissension and mistrust in order to win back their love-interest (or just cause trouble).

  • A current lover who prevents the main characters from hooking up because one of them is unavailable, and who seems like an OK enough person at first but is then revealed to be a total douche so that the audience feels justified in rooting for that character to get replaced by the main character and the audience doesn't have to deal with the thought that they are wishing for the misfortune of a "nice person".

  • Alternately, a current lover who never turns into a total douche but is just a nice person who is also totally flat and boring so that the audience can mollify itself over rooting for the other main character, and because the current lover is "nice", they willingly step aside for the other main character because it's the Right Thing To Do and they acknowledge that there is no chemistry between them and their lover anyway.

  • The best friend who tries to protect the main character by sabotaging the budding relationship "for their own good".

  • The best friend who tries to keep the relationship together (or jump-start it) because the main character is clearly not capable of managing their own shit.

  • Goofy parents who wholeheartedly support the main characters in their every wacky endeavor.

  • Strict parents for whom nobody will ever measure up to their standards for a child-in-law.

  • A gay friend. Just because. Usually to help with someone's deplorable fashion sense and/or to provide comedic relief.

  • A pet that either knows when someone is an asshole before the main character does, that knows when someone is a keeper before the main character does, or that is an annoyance to highlight the flaws of somebody who doesn't find the pet annoying.
So, all this to say that the things I hate the most about rom-coms were not present in Crazy Rich Asians, even though there were enough elements present to make it clearly fall square within the genre.

A few spoilers, to explain what I mean, but not the conclusion of the film and I'll keep the details to a minimum (to avoid all possible spoilers, skip down to the very last paragraph for my final comment).

First of all, the main characters were not strangers who meet and hate each other. When the film opens up, the couple has already been dating a year and the relationship is going well. They clearly adore each other and are compatible with each other.

The next thing I liked about the movie is that *this fact never changes*. There is no big reveal that someone is a douche, or that someone has a secret past that the other person might leave them if they find out, none of that.

The premise of the movie is that Nick is so rich with old family money that he's basically "Asian royalty", and Rachel doesn't know that until he invites her back to Singapore for his best friend's wedding, where Rachel meets his family.

So, there *kind of* is a "big reveal", but it's not like someone used to be a sex worker or used to be married or invents a fake past that they get "caught" about and then have to own up to it.

Nick doesn't tell Rachel because Rachel comes from a very humble background and Nick is pretty down-to-earth himself so he *likes* being "just a guy" with Rachel, not the famous Nick Young the way he is with every rich woman who knows who his family is.

And he knows that she's going to learn about his family because he voluntarily invited her to go to this wedding. He breaks the news to her in stages, because it's kind of a lot to take in, but I wouldn't say that it's really the same kind of deception that make the usual rom-com plots.

The third thing I liked about the movie is that the main female character is smart and capable, but still a little messy, and it is her smarts and strength that move her along through each obstacle.

In fact, most of the women characters have some depth and nuance to them, even if they are put into a particular role for the sake of the plot.

Rachel is a professor of economics and very good at her subject. She specializes in game theory. Nick loves that about her, and praises her intelligence and accomplishments in her field both to her and about her to others.

In each setback that she experiences, a woman close to her reminds her of her strengths and supports and encourages her, and she walks into her next challenge (usually alone) armed with her intelligence and courage. Every gain she makes in the plot is because of something she *did* deliberately, using her skills.

Speaking of which, we come to the next thing that I liked about the movie. The conflict is never about incompatible personalities, "opposites attract", or that really irritating trope where someone has a misunderstanding and goes off half-cocked without discussing it with the other person. Nick and Rachel genuinely like and trust each other, which means that they *talk* to each other. So the conflict has to come from somewhere else, not lazy script-writing and secrets.

The conflict is a culture clash, which is a real, legitimate conflict that can be big enough to break apart a relationship. Nick's mother is the foil in this film. But unlike most American movies where the "in-law" type character is the "bad guy", Mrs. Young is not a flat, 2-dimensional villain. Her motivations are all understandable and make a logical sense if you know and accept her premises. The actor who played Nick's mother did that deliberately.

Mrs. Young comes from a very specific cultural background, with very specific priorities and roles. Rachel comes from another cultural background with very different priorities and roles. It's not that either are necessarily better or worse than the other. While it's clear which position the screenwriters feel should win out, they don't make the other position out to be evil or bad ... just not right for our main characters.

The actor playing Mrs. Young intentionally set out to make her motives clear and understandable, so that we as the audience could empathize with her and so that she would not become the "villain", even though she was the antagonist and the personification of the conflict.

There was another subplot in this film that I really liked. So far, I haven't really given any spoilers because I haven't mentioned any specifics and everything I've said is pretty clear from the trailers. But for this one, I am going to give some.

Nick has a cousin named Astrid. Being part of the family, she has access to the family money and doesn't even blink at a $1.2 million price tag for a pair of earrings. She marries a "commoner", a man of more humble beginnings and a military background.

Aware of the difficulty that comes from someone not used to her world marrying into it, Astrid does what she can to support her husband and to consider his feelings. She is aware of the immense privilege and power that she holds, and she tries to minimize her position and elevate her husband's.

But in spite of her efforts, her husband, Michael, is too wrapped up in his own toxic masculinity to accept what Astrid has to offer.

In the end, Astrid finally recognizes that all her efforts to make herself smaller can't help make someone who is fundamentally insecure feel bigger. While she still believes in loving and supporting a husband, she learns that this should not require losing herself in the process, that he needs to own his own shit and see his own value the way she always has instead of dismissing his value by comparison to her net worth.

In their final conflict-and-resolution scene, when Astrid finally stands up for herself, all the women in the audience applauded. She was not without empathy for her husband's difficult position, but as so many women have found themselves, she was done managing his emotions for him and done apologizing for who she is.

I found these three women characters to be the core of the film, with Rachel's mother, Nick's grandmother, and Rachel's friend to be terrific supporting characters.

Rachel is not our typical Born Sexy Yesterday ingenue, nor is she the cold-hearted bitch in desperate need of a makeover and a lesson in soft femininity. She is intelligent and resourceful and passionate and respectful and considerate.

Mrs. Young is a conservative, reserved, powerful woman who has made sacrifices, and those sacrifices show us where her humanity lies to prevent her from becoming a stereotypical Dragon Lady character. She is hard and unyielding, but not without reason, or without feeling. It is possible to be hard and feeling at the same time.

Astrid is quiet, nurturing, sensitive, and caring, with a sense of her own value and of the value of others. She sees the good in people, along with the bad, and accepts people for who they are.

Mrs. Chu is only seen for a short time on screen, but she is clearly a devoted, supportive mother, who manages to be the kind of mother who has made her entire life about raising her daughter without being overbearing or helicoptery. She is *friends* with her adult daughter, and yet still her mother, there to hold her when her daughter needs being held, there to tell her the things her daughter needs to hear but doesn't want to hear. She is strong and brave and loving and wants nothing more than for her daughter to find happiness.

Ah Ma (Nick's grandmother) is also only seen for a short time on screen. She is the revered matriarch of the family, the kind, hands-on parental figure who raised Nick and taught him the value and responsibility of family and tradition. She is also the woman who inherited the fortune and the shipping business that created it and married the world-famous doctor Sir James Young, giving the name to our current protagonists' and antagonists' family. She may not be very active in the Singaporean social life anymore, or in running the family, but her word is still law.

Peik Lin, Rachel's friend in Singapore, is new money, the source of most exposition in the film, and a member of a family that is perhaps the most 2-dimensional of the film and yet still manages to have some depth. She's crude and her family is tacky (with a delightful dig at Hair Gropenfürher), but she knows fashion (which is a *very* important skill among the über wealthy) in spite of (or perhaps because of) the outlandish outfits we see her in, and she genuinely cares about what happens to Rachel.

The acting of these woman portraying these characters was phenomenal, with nuance and tones giving them a realistic depth. Which is saying something, given that the movie is based on a book that others have said has enough material for a whole season of Netflix episodes but that was crammed into a 2-hour movie because the director felt strongly that we needed to see Asian faces on the big screen in romantic leads, in realistic representations, and in anything other than martial arts films.

The movie was not without its flaws. There is one scene in particular that was so cringey, where a guy does a creepy thing and the women laugh it off, that I actually said out loud in the theater when the laughter died down "that's not funny, that's fucking creepy".

Not all of the characters had enough screen time for the same amount of depth as the main characters, or even the 3 supporting characters that I mentioned. Peik Lin's family, for instance, were especially flat, as were some of the Mean Girls that Rachel had to battle during her Culture Clash.

The movie isn't perfect. But when we have so few examples of any given culture, the few movies that we do see can become All The Representation, either by design or by expectation, and it will always fail in that regard. When the last big all-Asian movie was 13 years ago (Joy Luck Club), having another one now has a lot to live up to.

It's like female-led superhero movies - when you only have one, it has to be "perfect" or else it's a failure. But, as one of the actors said of Crazy Rich Asians, movies with white male actors are so plentiful, that someone can make a crappy one, and Hollywood just throws more opportunity out there for more white male movies. Movies made with and by Asians should have the opportunity to be not-great movies without the fate of all future Asian movies resting on its success.

It's not a perfect movie. But the main characters who we are supposed to be rooting for actually like each other; the conflict comes from cultural pressures and not either incompatibilities that "love" is supposed to magically fix, nor foolish misunderstandings that could be cleared up if only the characters talked to each other; reprehensible behaviour is not rewarded with the prize of "a girl", of sex, of a relationship, etc.; the women are the real cores of the story; and the main women characters are realistic and nuanced.

That means that this movie is making it onto my *very* short list of all-time favorite romantic-comedies.

So, if you like romantic comedies, if you hate romantic comedies and want to see an exception to the tripe, if you like strong and diverse female characters, and if you supported any of the non-white big budget films to come out in the last 2 years in order to make a point about what kinds of stories Hollywood should be telling, then you should see this movie.
joreth: (polyamory)
Here's why my Simple Steps workshop is so important (the workshop where I teach using lead and follow exercises to improve your relationship communication):

I went to an all-night dance event on a Friday - the day after I got fired from a gig over a medical condition. To say that I was having a bad week is an understatement. At that event, I had 2 friends there - one who dances and one who doesn't.

I met them both at roughly the same time. The dancer, I actually met a year or so ago, but only barely. He doesn't live in the US, he only visits here for a couple of months a year. So he came to a dance event once or twice last year, where I met him. I'm not sure I remembered his name until recently.

About 6 months ago, I started doing a weekly dance thing that I helped to organize with this dancer's father. Because it was his father's project, he attended the first couple of weeks even though that style of dance wasn't really his thing. Because it was a late-night sort of event, some of us night owls started staying afterwards to just chit chat. That's where I actually learned his name and set him apart from just "one of the dancers".

We didn't have any alone-time or any particularly intimate conversation, but we got to know each other well enough, and the others who stayed late to talk, that we have formed our own FB chat group to coordinate weekly get-togethers even though that weekly dance event is no longer.

At this same weekly dance event, I got to know one of the employees at the venue. Again, not very well, but we chatted a bit as I arrived and as I left every week, as did some of the other dancers. Then, when the dance event was canceled, we invited him to meet up with us after he got off work, since he really enjoyed seeing all of us dancers show up and now we weren't going to anymore. He and I have since had some *very* personal conversations and some intense alone-time, and we have gotten to know each other pretty well.

So, the day before this particular dance event is when I got fired from that gig. I realized 4 days later that I have officially slid back into my depression, complete with suicidal ideation. But on that Friday, I didn't realize I was heading towards depression, I just thought I was sad and upset over losing the gig, which is to be expected.

On Friday night (the next day), I went out dancing. The dancer friend was performing at the beginning of the event and I wanted to support him. That was enough motivation to push me through my growing depression and make myself leave the house. I fought my depression all night, and on at least 3 separate occasions, I nearly left to just go sit at home and cry. But I didn't. I pushed through and danced all night.

Dancing releases a lot of endorphins. It's a pretty strong mood elevator for me. But "mood" and "depression" are not the same thing, just ask Robin Williams. Once I started dancing, I got into a good mood. But the depression was still there, bubbling under the surface.

Here's my point...

My non-dancer friend remarked on how happy I looked. So I just smiled and mentioned the endorphins. Remember, I didn't recognize my depression yet, but I was a little surprised that the sadness wasn't showing through. I often post a "sneak peak" selfie of my outfits when I get dressed up and go out, and I think it's glaringly obvious in the picture I posted that night.

By the middle of the night after dancing for a few hours, I was feeling energetic and confident, and I was happy to see my friends. And this friend saw that.

But my dancer friend had one dance with me and knew something was wrong. And it was our best dance ever, yet he still knew.

He's a better dancer than I am, and I am new to this particular style of dance. So over the last few months, he's seen me go from unconfident, hesitant, and wooden, to relaxed and confident and trusting with him. So on Friday, we had our best dance ever. He was amazed and said we should have gotten it on video. And I mean it was a *good* dance - I looked like I had been taking lessons and practicing for months, when the reality is that I've never had a lesson in this particular style and I've really only danced it a couple handfuls of times in social settings.

But later, when we left the loud music and walked around outside in the quiet and the dark, the first thing he did was ask me what's wrong.

I was smiling, energetic, and *killing* it on the dance floor. But I was sliding into a depression. The friend who had some really intimate conversations with me couldn't see the depression. The dancer friend held me close for 3 minutes and, even though everything my body did was right, he still felt it.

This is why my workshop is important. With a dance partner, everything is out in the open, laid bare, raw, exposed, vulnerable. You can learn to read that, and honor that. Dance is one of the ways that can be learned.

And, of course, my workshop doesn't teach actual *dancing*, just the parts of dance that are relevant to that ability to communicate on such an intimate, intuitive level. No musicality or physical prowess or ability to memorize patterns necessary. Just pure, unfiltered flow of primal energy between two people.

He was able to read me that easily, in spite of not being a romantic partner and not knowing me very long or very well, because he is a Very Good Lead and I am a Very Good Follow. I can teach you the exercises that will guide you towards those leading and following skills.

But they take practice. He and I have been practicing, independently, for most of our adult lives. We did not need to practice with each other to learn how to read each other. We did, however, need to practice. A lot. For a long time.

My workshop will give you the tools to grow to this level of proficiency. But it's not a magic spell, where you whisper the incantation and move in the ritualistic movements one time and suddenly you're a good communicator. You have to practice the exercises that I will teach you after you leave my workshop.

And I promise, the amount of commitment you put into it will be proportional to the results you will get in the end.

Because he could read me with one 3-minute dance, through the endorphins brought on by physical activity, through my active processes to be pleasant and sociable and pretend like depression isn't a thing, through all the noise and distraction and other dancers, even through the sensuality and flirtatiousness of the dance and the barriers we all put up just for not knowing someone very well. 3 minutes of full body contact, and he knew.

You, too, can learn how to read the people you are close to. If you are driven enough to learn. And I can show you how.

Simple Steps For Better Relationship Communication with Joreth - available to come to your event! My next workshop will be at PolyDay North - SquiggleCon in Carlisle, England. Get your tickets now!
joreth: (::headdesk::)
I cannot stress enough just how important it is to plan your exit strategies with ANYONE you have any kind of legal connection or financial ties with - family, lovers, friends, strangers, exes, coworkers, anyone.  I don't know why this is such a difficult concept for people to accept, but you NEED to put down in writing how to split up with people when you're dealing with anything financial or legal.  And you need to do this when y'all still like each other.

If you get married, get a fucking pre-nup.  Like, seriously, get one.  It doesn't take the "romance" out of it, and it doesn't show a lack of trust.  It's a goddamn necessity.

If you are already married and didn't get a pre-nup, get a post-nup.  It's basically the same thing, but with all the verb tenses changed.  And the most recent post-nup supersedes any prior post-nup and any pre-nup, just automatically, so keep doing post-nups even if you did get a pre-nup, as your various assets and liabilities and debts change over time.

If you go into business together, don't just talk about how you're going to split the business while you're in it, talk about how to LEAVE the business.  PUT IT IN WRITING.  Discuss if one of you wants to leave the business to the other, how can you get out, and discuss if you both want to end the business, how you're going to split the assets and the debts.

Assume a worst case scenario.  Assume that the other person has been body-swapped with their double from the mirror universe and they are suddenly, without warning, totally evil.

No, seriously, have fun with this discussion - if one of you turns evil, how can you write an exit strategy to save the other one?  Then switch roles, is the exit strategy still fair now that the other person is evil?  Role play this out while y'all are on good terms and can laugh at the absurdity of the thought that one of you would try to screw over the other.

Because I guaran-fucking-tee that everyone who has been screwed over would have laughed at the absurdity of that thought at the beginning of their relationship too.

I have some friends who are going through a divorce.  OK, I know quite a few people going through divorces, so let's take a look at one hypothetical couple.  They're poly, they're "ethical", they totally agree with everything in More Than Two and everything I write about power imbalances, abuse, feminism, privilege, etc. They know a few things about a few things.

One of them is being blindsided by what appears to be the other one pulling a stunt like my abusive ex - after years of controlling behaviour that the first one never recognized, the second one is going around telling everyone else that the first one was abusing the second one all along. And they have all this legal crap to untangle.

One of our mutual buddies and I were talking the other day.  The mutual said to me, "I had a bad feeling about That One when I first met them. But I didn't say anything because This One was clearly smitten, and what do I know?  I had just met them.  But, do you think, maybe if I had said something back then, This One could have been warned that That One would do these things and maybe done something to protect themself?"

I had to say "no, I didn't think there is anything we could have said to protect This One, because some of us DID say something.  Over the course of their marriage, several of us, independently, did tell This One that we saw some red flags about That One, and a couple people actually argued with This One pretty strenuously, trying to make This One see.

But when anyone expressed concern about how deep This One was getting entangled, and how that was leaving them open for the potential for That One to do some fucked up shit, This One always said 'well that's just silly, That One would NEVER do something like that!  So I just won't worry about it.'

This One kept insisting, to everyone who brought up concerns, that none of us really knew That One like This One did.  Which is true, of course.  Nobody who said anything about the red flags we saw really got to know That One very well.  They were often absent from group events and did not reach out to most of This One's friends independently.  So we had to concede that point.  And This One felt confident that everyone coming to them with red flags was independently wrong for our own reasons, so there was nothing for This One to be concerned about."

All my friend could say after that conversation with me was "Huh. So there's nothing we could have done then?  Well, that's depressing.  I guess people just have to get bitten on the ass then."

No one who ever ended up on opposing tables in a bitter divorce court ever walked down the aisle and thought "y'know what? I bet, some day, this dearest angel, whom I love with every fiber of my being, will probably turn out to be the biggest asshole in the world!  But I love them so much, I'll just jump head-first anyway!"

Everyone who has ever found themselves at the point of a metaphorical sword held by a former lover thought that their lover was an OK person in the beginning, not likely to do anything horrible enough to financially ruin them or damage their standing with the law.

Take my aphorism about rules and look at it backwards here.  I often say that anyone who would follow the rules doesn't need them and anyone who wants to do the things against the rules, the rules won't stop them.

When it comes to legal and financial stuff, however, things are a little different.  You can't control another human being with rules without tromping on their agency, but you can protect yourself from *them* attempting to control or harm *you* using the leverage of money or business power with some contracts.  If they're truly good-hearted, compassionate people who care about your well-being, then they will WANT to protect you with documents, so things like pre-nups should not be offensive to them because if they really loved you, they would want to see you protected and cared for.

And since y'all are so confident that this is just hypothetical anyway because your love will never die and you are both the paragons of virtue you think of each other, then it doesn't matter if you have legal paperwork or not because you both know you'll never have to use it.  So might as well have it and not need it.  Just like any other insurance policy.

If they are one of these monsters in disguise who is managing to completely fool you, then you *need* that paperwork.

In addition, one of you will die before the other one.  That is almost guaranteed.  Part of these exit strategies can and should encompass how to handle assets and debts and property in the event of that kind of split as well.  Nobody likes talking about death, but too fucking bad. Put on the big kid pants and have the awkward conversation already. Like with most things in poly, or in any healthy relationship, if you want to adult with other people, you have to have awkward conversations, so roll up your sleeves and hitch up your britches and start talking.

And while you're playing at being grown ups with the conversation about death, you might as well go all the way and talk about splitting up too.  It's awkward and unsexy and you might learn something about your partner that you don't like as you hear them talk about how to divvy up property and cash, but if you can't handle that kind of conversation, you shouldn't be entangling yourself in finances or business or legal shit in the first place.

Treat your financial and legal presence as seriously as you treat your sexual presence - use some goddamn protection, and if you can't talk about it with each other, then you shouldn't be doing it with each other.

#IMaybeJustALittleAnnoyedAtWatchingYetMoreFriendsFindThemselvesInBadLegalSituationsBecauseTheirFormerLoverWouldNEVERdoThat
joreth: (polyamory)
Commitments Parchment
* I am committed to allowing the relationship to find its own structure and direction without forcing it into a predetermined shape and to considering alternate structures and directions before automatically resorting to breaking up when situations and priorities change.
I am committed to allowing the relationship to find its own structure and direction without forcing it into a predetermined shape and to considering alternate structures and directions before automatically resorting to breaking up when situations and priorities change.

This is the natural extension of the previous commitment. In addition to committing to being flexible with plans within a relationship, I want to be flexible about the relationship itself. As I mentioned before, I have a style of poly in my head that I idealize - the close-knit poly family. I need to be accommodating to the individual needs of each relationship and to make sure that the relationship follows its own natural path. Sometimes those paths twist and turn a bit. When they take a sharp left turn, it may not be necessary to get off the path entirely just because it's no longer going in the direction I thought it should. Sometimes, I may be able to follow a new path.

Just to make sure that metaphor was perfectly clear, I am reminding myself here that there are more than two states for romantic relationships - together or broken up. I have already established that I can accept a variety of relationship configurations and that I do not want to prescript my relationships. So here I am establishing that I will not let my relationship descriptions turn prescriptive once we get in them. If, some time into a relationship, one or the other (or both) of us decides that our life needs to look different than it currently does, I am reminding myself that it may be possible to simply readjust our relationship to look different too.

When I first started dating Franklin, we lived 3 miles away from each other. Then he moved to Gainesville. Then I moved to Orlando. Then he moved to Atlanta. Then he moved to Portland. If either of us had insisted that our relationship was a local relationship and could only be a local relationship, it would have ended with the first move to Gainesville a mere year or two into it. Instead, what I got was a long-distance relationship that has, as of this post, lasted more than a decade, brought me valuable life lessons, been a source of joy and comfort, taught me how to become the person I wanted to be, and introduced me to the people I consider my intentional family and those I feel the most connected to anywhere in the world (with the exception of my best friend, who I met through another partner).

When things change, I do not need to automatically reach for the breakup card. When things change, I can assess if we can change with it. The relationship may not be what we originally hoped it would be, but then again, it might be something just as valuable or more that we never anticipated if we give it room to just be.
joreth: (being wise)
I was listening to a recent episode of the Multiamory podcast and they were talking about their Triforce of Communication, and I realized that this actually mapped pretty well with 3 of the 5 Love Languages. If you're having trouble figuring out your Love Language(s), this may help you narrow it down.

Their Triforce of Communication is pretty simple. It breaks down communication styles into 3 categories:

1) Sharing - one person wants to share something with another person and does not want advice or anything else, they just want to share and for the other person to listen.

2) Support - one person wants to share something with another person and does not want advice but does want some kind of support, like praise or expressions of sympathy or whatever is appropriate for the thing being shared.

3) Advice - one person wants to share something with another person for the purpose of eliciting advice, practical tips, or actual help.

Even though I've heard of these 3 categories before, because I've been listening to the podcast from the beginning, it just dawned on me tonight that these 3 categories overlap with 3 of the 5 Love Languages.
  1. Sharing = Quality Time - specifically the dialect of Quality Conversation. This is where two people are sharing *intimacy* with each other by being vulnerable and sharing of themselves through conversation. This is also known as wanting to be "heard", wanting to be "seen", or wanting to be "witnessed".  This is a connection-building moment. Someone wants to *connect* with another person by sharing something of themselves and the entire point of this conversation is to build intimacy and to make connections.  

    That is why advice-giving is so wrong here. Trying to "fix" the thing they're sharing about makes them feel like the connection has been missed, and the gift of their intimacy is being rebuffed in favor of problem-solving.  They don't feel "heard", "seen", or "witnessed", they feel as though they are being dismissed, not accepted, a problem to be fixed, or that the situation has been turned around to focus on the other person and their problem-solving skills.  I wrote about the Gift of Presence & The Perils of Advice recently, which included a link to a longer article on the subject.

  2. Support = Words of Affirmation. This one is also about building connection and sharing intimacy, but they want it to be more of a two-way street. They are sharing something for the purpose of eliciting praise or sympathetic words. It's through these Words that they get to feel that connection coming back at them from the other person.

    Again, advice-giving is wrong here because, to someone who is looking for Words of Affirmation, trying to "fix" their problem implies that they are not good enough to problem-solve on their own. It doesn't matter if the advice-giver doesn't feel that way, the point is that the speaker needs to hear Words of Affirmation and Support in order to feel loved, but what they are getting is "you should do something different from what you are doing" which, while *helpful*, is not necessarily *supportive*.

  3. Advice = Acts of Service. Now is the time for advice because this person is asking for your help ... a "service" of sharing your wisdom and/or offering to actually do something for them. When a person speaks Acts of Service, and they share a problem with another person, they are requesting that the other person show their love by assisting in fixing the problem.

    Our culture really reinforces the idea that we should not ask for help. It's often a gendered message, but still somehow everyone gets the message. Men are taught not to ask for help because they would seem weak and apparently that's the worst thing a man can be. Women are taught not to ask for help because it would *inconvenience* other people, and apparently being inconvenient is the worst thing a woman can be.

    So it may not always be clear that someone wants advice. They may come to another person with just a story of a problem and be hoping to have solutions offered, but not know how to ask outright. If this is the case, then merely sitting and listening, or listening and offering emotional support, can be seen as not offering *help* when they are in need. They need an Act of Service.
So I thought that was an interesting pattern here, that the types of communication that people often are looking for but very rarely express that they are looking for this specific type, match up with 3 categories of how people express love and how they feel loved by others.

In addition to all of that, these are all examples of Bids for Attention, as described by John Gottman. As a reminder, a Bid for Attention is when a person is requesting the attention of someone they love, and repeated rebuffs of these Bids result in the loss of intimacy in a relationship, which leads to a loss of the relationship itself. Bids are often very small requests, and not usually phrased as a clear "request", so if you're not paying attention, you can miss them. Which is part of the problem - that not paying attention to your loved ones.

So, there ya go - just connecting some patterns for you, bridging 3 different communication tools for your relationship toolbox. If you're having trouble wrapping your brain around one or another, perhaps seeing the connection to one of the other systems can help. Or maybe *you* get the systems just fine but you're having trouble expressing to others why this communication style is so important to you and this other one isn't because they can't really tell the difference? Maybe putting it in the terms from another system can help.



P.S. I teach a workshop on the 5 Love Languages where I take out the religion, the gender binary, the heteromononormativity, and even the assumption of romance, provide the basic framework of what the 5 Love Languages is and how to use it, and expand on it. I have very reasonable speaking fees and I'm quite often willing to waive the speaking fees for some kind of travel accommodation or assistance in getting to your event. Contact me to arrange a lecture or workshop for your group or event.
joreth: (polyamory)
One of my ongoing rants is the anti-polyness of pop songs. With only a very small exception of artists who do an excellent job with music production and in that "it factor" in writing music, most of the songs that are written by poly people as poly songs are really pretty terrible songs, quality-wise. The recording quality is terrible, they don't have the full range of instruments to make a good, round sound, and the lyrics, while they rhyme, aren't really all that catchy.

Say what you will about the banality of pop lyrics, but they're catchy and they stick, which is what makes the songs popular.

Popular music (through the ages and genres, not just Britney's and Justin's music) is popular for a reason. It's well produced, it's catchy, the combination of instruments and vocals blend into pleasing sounds, and if the lyrics themselves aren't exactly high poetry, they're memorable and they flow.

So I've long said that what we ought to do is just record parodies of popular music with poly themes - people would be much more willing to listen to it, I think. Of course, we'd still need decent recordings, but we already know that the melody will be liked.

So, here's an excellent example: One of my favorite songs is Pink's Leave Me Alone, I'm Lonely. I think it's an EXCELLENT example of what it's like to be solo poly, except the song is clearly not poly. It has one line that explicitly excludes multiple partners. But, it also means that there is really only one line that needs to be altered to make it a solo poly anthem. And it's ridiculously easy to change this line too...

I don't wanna wake up with another
But I don't wanna always wake up with you either

to:

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either

So now we just need someone who can do justice to a Pink song to get the karaoke track and a decent mic and record this very slightly changed song to make a *really* good solo poly song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEwKSFdA-Y



Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

I love you so
Much more when you're not here
Watchin' all the bad shows
Drinking all of my beer

I don't believe Adam and Eve
Spent every goddamn day together
If you give me some room there will be room enough for two

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

I might wanna wake up with another
You might not wanna always wake up with me either
No you can't hop into my shower
All I ask for is one fuckin' hour

You taste so sweet
But I can't eat the same thing every day
Cuttin' off the phone
Leave me the fuck alone
Tomorrow I'll be beggin' you to come home

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Go away
Come back
Go away
Come back

Why can't I just have it both ways
Go away
Come back
Go away

Come back
I wish you knew the difference
Go away
Come back

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
I'm tired
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely tonight

Tonight
Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely

Alone I'm lonely
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
I'm tired

Go away
Give me a chance to miss you
Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely

Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you
Tonight
Go away

Give me a chance to miss you
Say goodbye
It'll make me want to kiss you

joreth: (being wise)
A really large portion of people want validation that their partner wronged them in some way.  They tell long, sordid stories and ask if they're justified in accusing their partner of violating some rule or agreement or if it "counts" as "cheating".  I get it.  I've done that too.  I continue to struggle with this.  But I've observed that this doesn't really accomplish anything.  It mostly serves to make the questioner feel "right", and it's almost always used as ammunition:  "Everyone else thinks you're wrong, therefore, you're the bad guy".

I'm the first one standing up defending labels and categorization.  I just don't think that most of us actually *use* labels and categorization for efficiency, which is their point.  I think we use them more like weapons.

As that meme goes, any cat owner can tell you the difference between trying to put someone in a box they don't want to fit into vs. fitting oneself into a box of one's choosing.  When we're looking for self-identifying labels, they're pretty useful.  When we're discussing abstract concepts, ideals, social constructs, etc., they're also pretty useful.

But when we seek to label *someone else*, particularly while feeling some kind of negative emotion about that person, the label is sometimes useful (such as warning others about some kind of threat) and sometimes less useful.  Sometimes, it's more about ego, about hubris, about revenge, about punitive action, about gratification, about in/out group tribalism, things like that.

What purpose does labeling a person or a behaviour serve?  Are you trying to identify the source of a problem?  To fix it?  To prevent it in the future?  To warn others?  To educate others?

Or do you want to look good in someone's eyes by comparison?  To look "wronged"?  To harm them?  To punish them?  As a parting shot to have the last word?  To absolve yourself of wrongdoing?  To justify your own actions as a response to theirs?

Is this label intended to fix or solve, or is intended to harm or restrict?  If you're really brutally honest with yourself and you look deep enough, most of the time this post hoc labeling of someone or their behaviour is meant to harm them in some way.  It can be used to make mutual acquaintances "take sides" and it can make people come to your defense (which puts them in opposition to the person being labeled).

The "harm" doesn't have to be very great. So what if one of your relatives, who has never met your partner, now thinks your partner is kind of a douche?  If you both go your separate ways, they might not ever even know that Great Auntie Beatrice kinda thinks they're not good enough for you.

But *you* know that someone else knows that your partner was a Bad Person this time. And, for whatever reason, that feels good.

So people unload intimate details about another person so that others will know this thing happened.  And I think this is a bigger problem, connected in ways to other things somehow that I haven't quite articulated just yet.  I'm starting to see part of a pattern.  It's like one of those remove-the-tile games, where I've pulled one tile off and I can see part of a picture, and it's clear that it's only part of a picture, but all the other tiles are still covering it up.

I'll uncover this pattern eventually. But for right now, it's something that I've noticed.
joreth: (being wise)
https://onbeing.org/blog/the-gift-of-presence-the-perils-of-advice/

Just a bit of perspective - but when people are complaining about "technology", particularly mobile phone usage, this is actually what they're asking. They're longing for more present-ness from people. They're asking you to witness them.

So while I am firmly on the side of "technology is good, the internet has saved lives by bringing connection to those who have little or none, and nobody owes you their attention", when a partner or friend spends a lot of their time on their device while physically spending time with me, it can feel hurtful because it feels like they're not really present and not witnessing either me or our rare and limited time together.

Sometimes I wish various partners I've had wouldn't be so prepared with their charging cables and their phones would just die so they have no choice but to be more *here* with me, because phones are so rarely their "in case of emergency" device there days; they're usually their "get instant answers and check in on people who are not present while the present ones wait for attention" devices.

So maybe "completely unplugging" is an unrealistic or selfish request, but if someone you value is complaining about your devices, perhaps putting it down a little more often and just being in the moment with them is an act of kindness, a response to a bid, that you can afford to pay a little more.

Also, stop with the fucking unsolicited advice. Seriously, if you feel this compulsion, there are tons of FB groups with people asking advice and Quora is a place specifically designed for advice giving.
"Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good."

"He talked while I listened and asked a few more questions. When we were done, he told me that some measure of peace had returned. It was a peace that had come from within him, not from anything I’d said. I’d simply helped clear some rubble that blocked his access to his own soul."

"Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through."

"And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up. As Mary Oliver has written:

“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”"
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)
http://www.crocs.com/p/womens-busy-day-stretch-lace-up/204760.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you need a good pair of walking shoes that aren't specially formulated for some kind of exercise or sport that you're doing, I'd recommend trying out one of their styles of sneakers. If you can, visit a Crocs store to try them on first, but if you find Crocs to be comfortable at all, you will probably like these sneakers. They do have other styles, as well.  And for those who wear larger sizes and/or prefer "masculine" styles (not that there's a big difference between the masc and femme styles of tennis shoes), they also have this style they call the Swiftwater Hiker, which I actually like better but they don't make in my small size:  http://www.crocs.com/p/mens-swiftwater-hiker/203392.html
joreth: (being wise)
"I apologize for the unintended distress"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-Apology Apology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-apology_apology
joreth: (boxed in)
Permanent disclaimer: Almost everything aimed at relationships - communication tools, self-esteem tools, advice, techniques, helpful hints, etc. - do not apply to abusive situations. Abuse changes all the rules.  This goes for everything I say and for all relationship stuff everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

As someone said in my FB comments on this thread, all of my other relationship advice assumes at a minimum good intentions between/among partners. An abusive situation does not meet this minimum standard. Don't do all my other relationship advice in abusive situations, and if you're still recovering, you still need an abuse specialist to tell you how to get from there to where my advice is applicable or possible.
joreth: (being wise)
So, this is interesting. I'm putting together a playlist of love songs that don't suck. Basically, I just want songs that are merely absent of exclusivity in their lyrics and absent of promises of forever. And I'm grading those criteria gently. I recognize that, while I have found tons of songs that *technically* qualify as poly-ISH, in that they're explicitly about multiple partners in one way or another, most of those songs actually suck. They are either poorly produced, or they're joke or satire, or they're just badly written.

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

So, now to my point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, like real life then.
joreth: (polyamory)
https://medium.com/@PolyamoryINC/the-most-skipped-step-when-opening-a-relationship-f1f67abbbd49
"What you didn’t realize when you were living in the cocoon of a monogamous relationship is how much of a monogamous relationship is a favorable breeding ground for codependence. ...

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

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

Step 2 - Make the night random. ...

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

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

This. Thisthisthisthisthis.

All of this.

There is only one thing I would amend this with:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (feminism)
B movie idea: Bad action flick of a wildly implausible conspiracy story with kung fu Hilary Clinton a la Sigourney Weaver in Defenders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, just write your fucking stories and then cast people in them who can deliver the lines. You don't need to "write into the script" something to explain away your casting choice unless you are directly contradicting something in the script. "The character existed and had relationships and adventures" is not directly contradicting things like "the character also has a disability" or "the character also has a vagina" or "the character also has brown skin".
joreth: (boxed in)
https://theestablishment.co/so-youve-sexually-harassed-or-abused-someone-what-now-ed49a934bab1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have hurt people. Which direction are you going to go from that?
joreth: (boxed in)

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, when it comes to other people -

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rejection sucks. But it's not about you, so suck it up and move on. There are other cats in the world, many of whom will be happy to rub up on your ankles and claw your face in the middle of the night.
joreth: (boxed in)
https://medium.com/@emmalindsay/if-we-fire-all-sexual-assaulters-will-we-end-up-firing-everyone-bca0db236174

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


joreth: (polyamory)

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

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

It got me to thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he really didn't like it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (boxed in)

Q. Is this thing wrong?
A. Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (dance)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (polyamory)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (polyamory)

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

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

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

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



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

#DoNotDateTheNewbies #DateYourSpecies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are some common pitfalls when vets date newbies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's sharing the burden of emotional labor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (polyamory)

Commitments Parchment

* I am committed to discussing harm reduction plans and contingency plans for when bad things happen, because I understand that we can’t always prevent them from happening.

One style of relationships, not just in poly but in all romantic relationships, involves legislating away bad things. Fear of losing a relationship that is important is a completely natural and reasonable fear to have. It's what we do about that fear that makes the difference. For some people, the way they deal with that fear is to make rules saying that things that could lead to losing a relationship simply won't happen. I've seen lots of poly relationships with rules that say "you cannot get anyone pregnant but your wife" or "I promise not to get pregnant by anyone other than my husband." As if we can stop that from happening in relationships that include PIV sex. Oh, sure, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of that happening, absolutely. But condoms break, vasectomies fail, and sometimes someone forgets to take a pill.

A more successful strategy than trying to rule away something like that is to take all reasonable precautions (with "reasonable" being defined by everyone involved, not just the "primary couple") and to also discuss contingency plans and harm reduction. A more successful strategy is to realize that sometimes shit just happens and sometimes Game Changers come along and change the game. Therefore, we can't afford to pretend like we have control over our future. We have some, but not ultimate control. We need to accept that the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. If we go into our relationships with that as our premise, we are better equipped to deal with change when it happens. When it happens. Change is often unexpected, and we can't expect the unexpected, pretty much by definition. But we can expect that the unexpected will probably happen at some point even if we can't predict what form it will take.

So rather than freaking out about it, or feeling betrayed even though change was inevitable, I can accept that change was bound to come along and fuck things up sooner or later and just plan to change the plans. This is how my J-ness (INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale) handles P people - how a schedule-oriented person can deal with spontaneous people. I put on my schedule that this is Anything Can Happen Time. Now it's on the schedule, it's part of the plan.

I am committing myself to attempting to address contingency plans beforehand for those scenarios we can think up (like an accidental pregnancy) and immediately afterwards both for those scenarios we couldn't think up until they happened as well as those scenarios we did think up but now someone wants to change the predetermined plan, because Game Changers happen. This is especially important no matter which direction the change comes from. I might want something different than I did at the beginning of a relationship, or my partner might want something different. Either way, I need to be willing to consider alternate options. I want to be more committed to considering alternatives and backup plans than I am to any given plan, so that I can weather change with more grace and dignity than I have in the past.

(Read the full list of commitments at www.theinnbetween.net/polycommitments.html)
joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Your relationship cannot "grow" if you try to keep everything the same. Even if you try to keep it "the same except this one thing". For growth to happen, you need Change.

Change is scary. Change is unpredictable. Change is inevitable. You can't determine how things will change, but you can be sure that change will happen. The best defense against negative consequences of Change is to embrace Change with flexibility and adaptability, not fight it with rigidity. Change laughs in the face of rules designed to prevent change.

As the old proverb says, a supple willow tree that bends with the winds of change will last, but a rigid, brittle tree will fall before the wind.

"The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than mighty oak which breaks in the storm." ~Confucius

"The wind does not break a tree that bends." ~Sukuma proverb

"The tree that does not bend with the wind will be broken by the wind." ~Mandarin Chinese proverb

I hate Change. I like my schedules and my plans. So I just learned how to accommodate for Change into my schedules and plans. Because Change doesn't care if I like it or not, and will do more damage the less I like it.

I had a partner once who was very spontaneous and could not be pinned down for plans. Even if he agreed to a plan, he would change it at the last minute. This made me furious, until I learned how to let go of my attachment for what I thought of as "the plan" and I started scheduling my time with him as "anything can happen time". Now it's part of the plan! It's in the schedule!

This sort of strategy needs of be applied to the bigger picture of relationships in general, not just individual dates. Many people have hopes for where they want their relationships to go. Some of us even turn those hopes into plans. And we get attached to those plans.

We need to let go of that attachment and embrace the opportunity and the challenge of Change. We need to take the challenge being offered to us to be flexible and to adapt to new circumstances and to come up with new "plans" on the fly. How quickly and gracefully can we meet this challenge? How can we steer ourselves to turn it into a new opportunity for growth, for experience, for lessons learned, for new skills?

Resistance to change is futile. You will experience Change. The more you try to resist it, the harder it it'll hit you. Your best defense for Change (and even little-c change) is to meet it head on and work with it.

Like my daddy taught me when learning to steer a boat in rough waters or drive car that is threatening to get away from me or my riding instructor when I first learned how to ride a horse - don't fight it. Lean into it. Feel what it's trying to do and work with it until it starts to trust you and gives up control. You collaborate with the turbulance and ride it out.

And then, if you're lucky, you walk away with a triumphant story. If you're a little less lucky, you learn how to rebuild the damage or how to start over. If the Change is just too big for you or you fight it too hard, you won't be lucky enough even for that opportunity. But maybe others can learn from your mistakes and we don't all have to go down the same way you did.

Your rules, your plans, your expectations don't mean shit to Change. It will come for you when it feels like it and in the form it wants. If you don't invite it in for tea, it will break down your door and make itself a 6 course meal.



To address some confusion:

I'm not saying that unpredictability is good or more evolved, I'm saying that it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, it will happen so we need to develop strategies to deal with it.

There were obviously problems in the relationship I used as an example, which is why he's a former partner. But I couldn't control HIS behaviour, and he was going to make changes. I could only control my reaction to the change. Continuing to fight him for control over how the relationship went would be an exercise in futility. I could bend with him, or I could leave, but leaving would be another change. There was no way I could make things stay the same or be the way *I* wanted them to be.

The point is that I can't escape change. None of us can. It's not fair, it's not right, but the universe doesn't give a fuck about "fair" or "right". It does what it does, and change happens.

I could change the example to include a person who has a chronic illness, rather than a spontaneous personality. Someone with a chronic illness can't always keep plans due to health reasons. I wouldn't call them selfish or infringing on my autonomy. That's what being in a relationship with a person like that means.

If we can't adjust to the changes that come with a person who needs to make changes - like someone who has to cancel plans last minute because of health issues or who won't commit to plans until the last minute because of health issues - that relationship will break.

Because the "how" and "why" are irrelevant to the fact that change is inevitable. I used the example merely to explain that a day-to-day skill that I had acquired needed to be extrapolated to the bigger picture, where "how" and "why" don't matter.

"How" and "why" doesn't matter to the number 10 bus that loses is brakes and careens into a loved one. That's a change to your life. Cancer doesn't give a shit about what we think of "how" and "why", it changes your life. A sudden influx of cash, a new baby, a random chance encounter with a person who turns your world upside down - "how" and "why" are irrelevant.

Change happens. We have to learn how to deal with and accept change, not make a bunch of rules trying to keep change from happening.
joreth: (polyamory)
Based on Poly Weekly episode 516: The Art of Three, I bought the book of the same name. This episode is an interview with Racheline Maltese, who wrote a polyamorous romance novel that does NOT include a couple opening up their relationship for the first time and does NOT include unicorn hunters finding their hot, bi, cis-woman love slave / nanny.
It does, however, include some hot bi men, which is automatically a plus for me.

I only just started the book, so I can't give a full review, but I already like that it's not unicorn hunting, it's not "opening up", it's not written for the literature version of the straight male gaze, and the characters don't seem to do the usual irritating-as-fuck foolishness stemming from typical monogamous culture habits like poor communication and objectification.

The authors, Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese, seem to actually know polyamory (and judging by some forum comments, there are self-identified poly people who nevertheless don't understand polyamory, so them understanding it says more about them than just calling them "poly"). The characters are self-aware, have decent communication skills, are respectful of agency, and still manage to have their own personalities, flaws, and foibles. They're not perfect, and they still make mistakes, but they don't make *rookie* mistakes. And even more importantly, they don't make *monogamous people who don't get polyamory* mistakes.

The polyamory seems to go pretty smoothly, at least so far. I have criticized movies and TV shows that make relationships look too easy and that skip over all the hard stuff where everyone just seems to magically be naturally good at relationships. But sometimes I just really need a story where the conflict and plot isn't related to the character's relationship skills. Sometimes I just need them to be decent at relationships so that I don't have to constantly yell at fictional characters that things don't have to be as difficult as they're making them.

Here are some of my reactions while reading it:

  • The book has a tense discussion where the authors, through the wife's character, acknowledge an unfair distribution of Emotional Labor along gender lines! They also make the male characters self-aware enough to be bothered by it when it occurs to them that they do not carry enough of the responsibility or the skill for this labor.
     
  • Love it. The Art of Three points out the sexism inherent in constantly asking if the husband is OK with the boyfriend sleeping with the wife or sharing their "marriage bed" or staying in "their" house, but never asked the same questions of the husband about the wife.

    The book points out that this is behaving as though she is her husband's property and notes the boyfriend's chagrin at the criticism, thereby implying that he is not intending to be sexist and does not wish to be sexist, but is nevertheless a product of his culture and participates in sexist assumptions even against his own better nature.

    To be fair, the boyfriend did ask the wife if she really did have an open marriage and really was OK with him sleeping with her husband for the first time. But he makes a bigger deal out of being in the husband's "place", like their shared bed or "his chair" at the dinner table in their home, when these thoughts never occurred to him about the wife when he was with the husband in their other shared home.

    The boyfriend does handle the criticism well and seeks to change.
     
  • The Art of Three also captures the weight that a long-term marriage has which presses down on newcomers. It reminds the reader of the gravitas that a preexisting relationship imposes on new partners through the boyfriend's occasional insecurity and his constant reminders to himself that he needs to be "respectful" of their marriage, as well as through the married couple's deliberate and conscious decisions to mitigate that weight whenever possible.

    That second part of that reminds the reader of the solidness of a preexisting relationship without enabling any couple privilege such as implying that this solidness and heaviness is as it should be or showing the established couple feeling or presenting as entitled to such privileges.

    These authors also avoided enabling couple privilege by not making the established couple suffer petty bouts of insecurity at the NRE or feeling "threatened" by a newcomer.



    So, if you're looking for a book that shows polyamory in a positive light, written by people who *get* polyamory, doesn't follow the single most overused and irritating trope in all of poly storytelling, and doesn't spend a whole lot of time dragging the characters through Poly 101 Drama, I'd recommend checking out The Art of Three.
joreth: (Spank)
http://www.boredpanda.com/girls-stop-abuse-boyfriends/

Abuse is abuse. In heteronormative relationships, man-on-woman abuse has an additional filter layered over it that is informed by misogyny. The blogger Shea Emma Fett used to talk about this and Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft covers how the cultural power dynamic is inherently embedded in man-on-woman abuse in hetero relationships. It's there automatically because the power imbalance is there automatically, so there always needs to be a conscious effort to fight against power dynamics in romantic relationships.

But in heteronormative relationships where there is woman-on-man abuse, that is ALSO misogyny at play. That's an example of the phrase "the patriarchy backfiring on itself".

What that means is that PATRIARCHY, as an inherently misogynistic system, created two, distinct gender roles to force people into, one of which is required to be submissive and the other as dominant and aggressive.

So if people are only allowed to fit into one of these roles, then when we don't, society simply refuses to acknowledge it. Which leads to women doing abusive things because they don't recognize it as abusive (because of the power structure, they don't believe women *can* abuse), and which leads to men not understanding that they are being abused and so not having any tools to deal with the abuse. Because they don't think they CAN be abused.

So if you participate in any of these behaviours (and let's face it, our culture teaches us that many of these things are OK no matter what your gender is, so we ALL have the potential to abuse others buried in our cultural programming, even if we fight it), if you do these things then you are participating in and supporting misogyny and the patriarchy.

While this is demonstrably worse for our victims, it's also bad for us living in a patriarchal society.
joreth: (polyamory)
Apparently, threesome romance novels (which means not just threesome sex but also threesome long-term relationships) with at least 2 men are A Thing, and paranormal romance novels are A Thing, and more importantly, paranormal threesome romance novels with at least 2 men (and often with plus-sized women and also often with Latina women) are also A Thing.

If you happen to want to buy any of these books through Amazon, the links I'm using are for my Affiliates Account, which means that I get a very small commission (that doesn't cost you anything extra) if you buy from these links instead of just searching Amazon.

I have not read ANY of these books. I have no idea if they're good or not. But I think I'm gonna try a few out. I am currently adding them to my Polyish Booklist which doesn't have my Amazon Affiliates link.
joreth: (anger)
*Sigh* Let's go over this again.

DO NOT CONTACT SOMEONE WHO HAS BLOCKED YOU.

When someone blocks you, it means that they don't want to talk to you anymore. Any attempt to contact them* after that on another platform, using another profile, or using another method entirely is a blatant disregard for their boundaries.

If the person who blocked you didn't say it was temporary, didn't give you conditions under which it would be appropriate to contact them again, or didn't un-block or otherwise reach out to you, then contacting them while blocked is boundary pushing and probably the reason why they resorted to blocking in the first place.

If I have to block someone I know in real life, I will often give them the benefit of the doubt and block them only in that medium where they are pushing me. I am trusting them to be grown-up enough not to keep pushing, not to keep violating my boundaries, not to look for ways around my block. I'm trusting them to understand that this is the online equivalent of hanging up the phone or walking out of the room during an argument and dropping the subject and not following after me to keep going.  Maybe, with time, I'll unblock and attempt to reconnect sometime in the future.

When I block someone and they try to contact me in other ways, particularly if they contact me in other ways *to continue the conversation / argument*, this only confirms the reason why I blocked in the first place and is a guaranteed way to make sure that the blocking is permanent and across all forms of contact.  This should not ever have to be explained. You, who does this, are the reason why my online profiles are so ranty. You are exactly who I am ranting about.



*There are some exceptions to this. Sometimes we have to cut off contact with people that we can't afford to cut off contact in every single manner.  For instance, needing to cut off social contact with a boss or coworker but still needing to keep in contact in a professional capacity; or co-parenting with an abusive ex.

If you have been blocked by someone online but you have a LEGITIMATE other relationship with them that requires LEGITIMATE contact with them in this other capacity, and you can keep your contact with them limited to this legitimate other relationship, then it's probably not a boundary violation.



Normally I have no problem blocking people who are becoming a pain in the ass, but when it's a *friend* who says *several times* that he will back out of an argument and then refuses to do so, sometimes I have to hang up the phone for him. But I'd rather not, and it hurts to do it.

I already know that when I lose my temper, I'll say things that I will later regret. So when I back out of an argument, I back out. I know that I can't be trusted to have a productive conversation when I'm too emotionally invested in my position to really hear the other side.  If you have the foresight to know that about yourself too, then seriously, back out when you say you're going to. Because I guarantee, no matter what the person on the other side of the argument is like, you will only make things worse if you stay in an argument past the point that even you recognize that you need to take a break from it.

The other person could be the best, most calm and collected arguer ever, or they could be a total douchebag, and either way, if you're not in the right emotional space for the argument, anything you say is going to make things worse. Which is why I back out when I'm getting pissed off. Unfortunately, though, online spaces don't offer very good ways to "back out" and they rely on the other person's cooperation or nuking them.

I wish FB had an option to just, say, put someone in a time-out. I mean, I know that you can unblock people later, but it's so ... final, so harsh. Maybe I just want to stop someone from talking at me for a while. It's like, if you're in an argument with someone in person, you can leave the room. But if you're in an argument with someone at a *party*, then you have to either leave the party to prevent them from following you around the party to continue arguing or kick them out of the party.

Sometimes, neither is an acceptable option for the circumstances. Sometimes, I just want someone to stop talking at me while I go into the "quiet room" at the party, or go talk with someone else on the other side of the room. I can turn off FB for a while and let them rant and rave at an empty inbox, but then I can't wander around FB. That's me leaving the party. Besides, then they're still ranting and raving and those messages will be there when I get back. Leaving might prevent *me* from saying something I don't want to say, but it doesn't make someone else take the space they need but won't take. And obviously I can't kick *them* off FB (nor would I want to).

Unfriending & unfollowing aren't always the right options either. When the problem is that someone I know posts shit that I don't want to see, then those are two reasonable options. But when the problem is that someone keeps talking at me, unfriending and unfollowing don't prevent that.

And, maybe I don't *want* to actually unfriend someone. I grew up understanding that friends and family argue sometimes, and it's not the end of the relationship. Sometimes those arguments are some pretty ugly fights, even, and it still doesn't mean that the relationship *has* to end over it.

I've been reading some stuff (citations not at hand atm) that suggests that there is a point in an argument at which nothing productive is happening because the participants are "flooded", meaning too emotional, and taking a break at that point significantly increases the chances of a resolution post-break. My family did this intuitively. I think it's one of the reasons why I maintain such strong emotional ties to members of my family who have such different worldviews from me.

Sometimes I just don't want to be in *this* argument right *now* and the other person doesn't seem to have the self-control to stop arguing. But, for whatever reason, I don't want to nuke the relationship. It would be nice to have, like, a 24-hour Wall of Silence, where neither of us can message each other or comment on each other's posts, until we've both had some space and time to calm down. But, y'know, you're still friends, and maybe you can even still see each other's posts and still interact in groups or mutual friends' comment threads. You just can't PM them or talk *in their space*.

But as long as people can't seem to help themselves and continue talking at others past the point where even they recognize that they are not in the right frame of mind to be continuing the conversation, I have to resort to blocking.

And I don't like that. There's not enough nuance in our online responses, and I think that hurts us individually and as communities.  Blocking needs to be contextual, but we only have on/off blocking options.  

But it's pretty safe to say that if someone has blocked you in the middle of an argument, don't continue the argument using other means of communication.  If someone has blocked you seemingly out of the blue but left other means of contact open to you, it might be appropriate for you to contact them to ask if you should stay away.  If someone has blocked you in one medium, and you're pretty sure you know why or it was during an argument, but you also have some other reason to be in contact with them, then respect their boundary and restrict your contact of them to those other mediums and that other relationship / reason.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
We're printing All The Things today and tomorrow and mailing out formal invitations next week! And the only way to get the address for the ceremony locations is through the mail!  Which means that we need your physical mailing address to send you the information you need to attend mine and Franklin's wedding, and we kinda need it right away.  The formal invitations will include all the details of the date and location, directions, lodging information, FAQs, RSVP cards, Pre-Wedding Party info, etc.  

You can download our wedding app, or login to the wedding website to give us your address and update RSVPs, or you can contact us in literally any other way that will reach us and we can update your address in our wedding app database on your behalf.  Then, if you prefer to do things the traditional way, you can RSVP using the included pre-addressed, stamped RSVP card in your formal invitation.

Please don't worry that you're "inviting yourself" - if you can see this post (and one of us hasn't blocked the other or otherwise refused to engage in multiple or all forms of interaction (see my recent post about temporary or contextual blocking vs. total blocking boundary violations)), then you're not "inviting yourself", you are invited!

But, since we don't have your mailing address (and probably your email address too, hence the public and generic posts), we can't send you an invitation yet. That's why we have to reach people this way. So you're not "inviting yourself", you are invited, but we need your contact info.

You can find our wedding app and website by visiting http://bit.ly/SquiggleWeddingCon and clicking on the RSVP link in the sidebar. Only 2 months to go!
joreth: (polyamory)
Every year, Atlanta Poly Weekend (www.AtlantaPolyWeekend.com) holds a charity auction where items are auctioned off and all the proceeds to go a local Atlanta-based charity called Lost-n-Found Youth (https://lnfy.org/) for homeless LGBTQ youth. I didn't really have the time this year to build new presentations, so instead of being a speaker (although I will be available to discuss any of my past presentations and I will have materials and handouts from old presentations), I decided to make something for the auction.

This year, I am donating a one-of-a-kind chain mail necklace and earring set, hand-crafted by me. Made of black and white-silver chain mail in a Byzantine rope pattern with "floating bead" diamond design, it features real Swarovski crystals in the shapes of hearts and bicone beads, using my own infinity-heart design of a floating infinity in front of a solid crystal heart.

I make and sell the Byzantine Floating Bead necklace and earring sets but this particular color pattern and pendant set does not exist in any of my commercial offers and it will not. I also do not offer the infinity-heart pendants in any color on any of my products for sale - I save this particular pendant design for my own personal jewelry and even I don't have it in this color pattern.

I designed it to be as color-neutral as possible so that it would match any outfit. If I were to sell this set in my jewelry store, it would retail for $50 because of the handmade work and the unique pendant design. I hope I can bring a good price to the auction to help our local charity.

So please start saving up now for June! Remember, 100% of the proceeds goes to the Lost-N-Found Youth charity in Atlanta, GA through the Atlanta Poly Weekend 2017 conference, hosted by the Relationship Equality Foundation.

If you would like to commission me to make some chain mail or wire elf ear jewelry, my Etsy shop is www.etsy.com/shop/InnBetween




Full Floating Bead Byzantine necklace and earring set in a clear plastic case with white foam insert for storage and travel. Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.





Closeup of the floating bead and infinity-heart design of the necklace and earrings.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.





Closeup of the floating bead connection used to join the 3 Floating Bead Byzantine diamonds.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.





Closeup of the Floating Bead Byzantine diamond and infinity heart pendant.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.





The Floating Bead Byzantine necklace with infinity-heart pendant around the "neck" of a dressmaker's dummy.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.





Artistic shot of the Floating Bead Byzantine necklace and earring with infinity-heart pendants.
Retail price for complete set $50. Up for auction at Atlanta Poly Weekend to support the Lost-N-Found Youth charity.
joreth: (polyamory)
www.polyishmoviereviews.com/show-notes/episode14-trois

Just a tiny bit late, but this month's episode is out! One of these days, I will plan my episodes to have better timing with milestones. This movie is perhaps not the movie I would have wanted to mark my 2-year episode. But here is Episode 24 none-the-less!

Content Note: This review contains the sardonic use of ableist language & possibly sex-negative sex worker language intending to mock the sorts of writers who use "crazy" as a scapegoat and their poor depiction of mental illness as well as their obviously one-dimensional and low opinion of sex work.

I am using the language to describe what the *writers* of these sorts of behaviours think and by using these words, I am intending to show my disapproval and contempt for this viewpoint in my tone. I apologize if my intention does not come across or if readers are unable to read or listen because of the language.

joreth: (polyamory)
The latest installment of my extremely sporadic posts about poly jewelry. These are all rings suitable for personal use and/or weddings or commitment ceremonies, most of which are not official poly jewelry but can work to symbolize polyamory "under the radar" with subtle elements from poly symbols:

www.amazon.com/dp/B01N44EOZ5 - Infinity Heart Simulated Sapphire & Cubic Zirconia .925 Sterling Silver Ring Sizes 4-12 Price: $14.99
  • 8mm
  • .925 Solid Sterling Silver
  • cubic zirconia, Sapphire
An open silver heart with two bands of cubic zirconia stones (one in simulated diamond, one in simulated sapphire) that evoke the feel of the infinity symbol running through the heart.
www.amazon.com/Simulated-Aquamarine-Sterling-Silver-RNG15776-4/dp/B01DQHDES8 - Sterling Silver Heart Halo Promise Ring Price: $15.89
  • PURE 925 STERLING SILVER — Crafted to stand the test of time. Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver, mixed with alloys to add strength and durability.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED — We promise superior service which includes fast shipping, great communication, and a full refund policy.
  • QUALITY — All jewelry is new and inspected for quality assurance.
  • SHIPS FROM THE UNITED STATES — All Sac Silver distributors ship from the United States to ensure quality, reliability, and punctuality.
A heart-shaped gemstone (shown in simulated emerald) in a variety of colors and surrounded with tiny simulated diamonds, with two twisted bands of cubic zirconia stones that evoke the feel of the infinity symbol extended on either side of the heart and into the band.
www.amazon.com/Simulated-Amethyst-Infinity-Silver-RNG14453-8/dp/B00X12U6VM/ - CHOOSE YOUR COLOR Sterling Silver Infinity Knot Heart Promise Ring Price: $14.39
  • PURE 925 STERLING SILVER — Crafted to stand the test of time. Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver, mixed with alloys to add strength and durability.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED — We promise superior service which includes fast shipping, great communication, and a full refund policy.
  • QUALITY — All jewelry is new and inspected for quality assurance.
  • SHIPS FROM THE UNITED STATES — All Sac Silver distributors ship from the United States to ensure quality, reliability, and punctuality.
A heart-shaped gemstone (shown in Mystic / simulated topaz) in a variety of colors and a silver band that splits and twists, evoking the feel of the infinity symbol extended on either side of the heart and into the band, with one of the twists including tiny embedded simulated diamond stones.
www.amazon.com/Sterling-Zirconia-Infinity-Tarnish-Resistant/dp/B01N3PLLK4 - Sterling Silver Infinity and Heart Ring Price: $10.88
  • Quality: Solid Sterling Silver w/ 925 stamp. Platinum plating and Rhodium finished, give the look of white gold and platinum, Tarnish resistant .Comfort Fit Design. Extremely hard. retain the perfectly round shape. Comes with a Eco Friendly Cotton bag. Each Ring Width 1.8mm
  • The BoRuo Advantage: BoRuo is a member of a very small number of brands invited to the Amazon Fine Jewelry category and all our products meet amazon Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards. Only those with brand strength and excellent products are eligible to enter this prestigious level.
  • Best Gift for Man/women/girls/ Girlfriend/ Lovers/Couple/Mom. Best Birthday Christmas Mother's Day Valentine's day Present Ever!!! Makes a wonderful gift for any occasion,Comes with a Eco Friendly Cotton bag.
  • What You Get: Boruo Sterling Silver jewelry coming with an Eco friendly Cotton bag. Our 60-day satisfaction guarantee and friendly customer service, No questions will be asked if you are not completely satisfied with the product and want to return it.
  • Please choose the correct size before place the order to avoid Return or Exchange. The paper measurement is intended for reference only. We would like to suggest you have your finger sized at a jewelry store for an accurate ring size.
An open silver heart encrusted with cubic zirconia simulated diamonds, with a silver infinity with heart-shaped ends weaving through the cubic zirconia heart.
www.blueapplejewelryco.com/products/925-sterling-silver-blue-lab-fire-australian-opal-6-heart-shape-blue-opal-ladies-fashion-ring-excellent-gift-for-christmas-valentines - Sterling Silver Blue Lab Fire Australian Opal 6 Heart Shape Price: $32.20
  • Metal Type: Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stampor Hallmark: 925
  • Face measurements from South to North: 25MM (0.9")
  • Band Thickness: 2MM
  • Theme: Heart
  • Gemstone Type: Blue Australian Lab Opal
  • Finish: Rhodium For Anti Tarnish
  • 100% Nickel Free
  • Gift Box Included
  • ****Engraving Available**** (Extra Charge)
  • Customize your ring: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Black Gold (Extra Charge) Change the Center stone to any color stone or natural stone of your choice (Extra Charge)
A silver geometric band with 6 hearts of different sizes shown with Blue Fire Opal stones. If you search this site for the keywords in the ring title, you may find color variations already available on the website for no extra charge.
www.blueapplejewelryco.com/products/infinity-ring-heart-love-valentines-crisscross-crossover-lab-australian-blue-opal-solid-925-sterling-silver-infinity-heart-promise-ring-gift - Infinity Ring Heart Crisscross Price: $24.99
  • Metal Type: Solid Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp or Halmark: 925
  • Gemstone Type: Lab Created Blue Opal
  • Gemstone Creation Method: Lab Created
  • Gemstone Treatment Method: Treated/Enhanced
  • Face Measurements From South To North: 9mm (0.32")
  • Infinity Measurements from East to West: 17mm (0.86")
  • Band Thickness: 2mm
  • Rhodium For Anti Tarnish
  • 100% Nickel Free
  • Gift Box Included
  • ****Engraving Available**** (Extra Charge)
  • Customize your ring: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Black Gold (Extra Charge) Change the Center stone to any color stone or natural stone of your choice (Extra Charge)
A silver band with an infinity made of lab created Australian blue opal, with a small silver heart nested inside one side of the infinity. If you search this site for the keywords in the ring title, you may find color variations already available on the website for no extra charge.
www.blueapplejewelryco.com/products/infinity-two-tone-heart-promise-ring-925-sterling-silver-cubic-zirconia-rose-gold-tone - Infinity Two-Tone Heart Promise Ring Price: $20.56
  • Metal Type: Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp or Halmark: 925
  • Gemstone Creation Method: Simulated
  • Face Measurements From South To North: 8mm
  • Change the color of the metal to rose, yellow, black at additional charge
A silver band that splits into a silver infinity with one leg encrusted with tiny simulated diamonds that weaves through an open heart (shown here in rose gold). If you search this site for the keywords in the ring title, you may find color variations already available on the website for no extra charge.
www.blueapplejewelryco.com/products/heart-promise-halo-ring-0-64ct-heart-shape-lab-white-opal-round-clear-cz-accent-solid-925-sterling-silver-wedding-engagement-split-shank - Halo Heart Promise Ring Price: $17.21
  • Metal Type: Solid Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp: 925
  • Gemstone Type: Grade AAA Russian CZ, Lab White Opal
  • Gemstone Cut: Heart, Round
  • Center Stone Cut: Heart
  • Center Stone Color: White Opal
  • Side Stone Cut: Round
  • Center Stone Carat Weight: 0.74
  • Center Stone Measurement: 5mm
  • Side Stone Color: Clear
  • Side Stone Cut: Round
  • Gemstone Creation Method: Lab Created
  • Gemstone Treatment Method: Treated/Enhanced
  • Clarity: Flawless Approximate Total Carat Weight: 1.04
  • Face Measurements From South To North: 6mm (0.2")
  • Band Thickness: 3.3mm
  • Rhodium For Anti Tarnish
  • Gift Box Included
  • Customize your ring: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Black Gold (Extra Charge) Change the Center stone to any color stone or natural stone of your choice (Extra Charge)
A silver band that splits into an infinity with one leg encrusted with simulated diamonds and an opal heart center stone. One leg of the infinity breaks and rests on top of the heart stone, which more closely resembles the infinity weaving through an open heart. If you search this site for the keywords in the ring title, you may find color variations already available on the website for no extra charge.
www.blueapplejewelryco.com/products/claddagh-ring-white-opal-claddagh-ring-celtic-irish-claddagh-promise-ring-solid-925-sterling-silver-lab-white-opal-wedding-engagement-ring - Blue Opal Claddagh Ring Price: $18.21
  • Metal Type: Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp: 925
  • Gemstone Type: Lab Opal
  • Center Stone Cut: Heart
  • Center Stone Cut Grade: Ideal
  • Face Measurements From South To North: 11MM (0.40")
  • Band Thickness: Top: 2MM
  • Rhodium For Anti Tarnish
  • Gift Box Included
  • Customize your ring: Change the color of the metal to: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Black Gold (Extra Charge) Change the Center stone to any color stone or natural stone of your choice (Extra Charge)
A silver Claddagh ring (traditional Irish ring) minus the hands that usually hold the heart and instead a Celtic trinity knot in the place of the hands, with a lab-created opal heart stone. If you search this site for the keywords in the ring title, you may find color variations already available on the website for no extra charge.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/496292761/free-engraving-top-quality-infinity - Infinity Heart Engraved Two-Tone Ring Price: $20.56
  • Metal Type: Tungsten Carbide
  • Patter Style: Infinity Heart Design
  • Width: 8mm
  • Size Offered: 6 to 13 including half sizes
A matte black wide ring with a rose gold step around the edges and a poly infinity-heart symbol engraved onto its surface. This seller offers free engraving on all of their rings so you may want to browse the shop for other styles of rings and have the infinity-heart added to another style.
https://www.blueapplejewelryco.com/collections/wedding-ring-sets/products/0-74-carat-heart-shape-blue-zircon-cz-halo-promise-ring-split-shank-round-white-clear-cz-solid-925-sterling-silver-wedding-engagement-love - Heart shaped halo ring with split shank. Ring Sizes 4-16 Price: $23.33
  • Metal Type: Solid Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp: 925
  • Gemstone Type: Grade AAA Russian CZ, Synthetic Blue Zircon
  • Gemstone Cut: Heart, Round
  • Center Stone Cut: Heart
  • Center Stone Color: Blue Zircon
  • Side Stone Cut: Round
  • Center Stone Carat Weight: 0.74
  • Center Stone Measurement: 6mmx6mm
  • Side Stone Color: Clear
  • Side Stone Cut: Round
  • Gemstone Creation Method: Lab Created
  • Gemstone Treatment Method: Treated/Enhanced
  • Clarity: Flawless
  • Approximate Total Carat Weight: 0.98
  • Face Measurements From South To North: 9mm (0.3")
  • Band Thickness: 1.5mm
  • Rhodium For Anti Tarnish
  • 100% Nickel Free
  • Gift Box Included
  • Customize your ring: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, Black Gold (Extra Charge). Change the Center stone to any color stone or natural stone of your choice (Extra Charge)
A silver infinity band with clear stones on alternating legs of the infinity, with a clear stone-encrusted open heart and a colored heart gemstone inside the open heart.  This item is available on the website in several center heart-stone colors.
https://www.blueapplejewelryco.com/collections/heart-rings/products/triple-three-heart-silver-ring-black-gold-solid-925-sterling-silver-14mm-wide-heart-ring-heart-promise-ring-valentines-gift - Triple Heart Ring Price: $47.20
  • Metal Type: Solid Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp or Hallmark: 925
  • Metal Purity: 92.5% Sterling
  • Face Measurements from South To North: 14MM (0.6")
  • Band Thickness: 3MM
  • Finish: Rhodium Plated For Anti Tarnish
A wide ring with 3 hearts in a row, shown here in black gold.  The website also shows listings for yellow gold and rose gold already made with no extra charge.
https://www.blueapplejewelryco.com/collections/heart-rings/products/tri-color-tri-tone-three-heart-ring-pink-rose-gold-yellow-gold-solid-925-sterling-silver-three-heart-promise-love-heart-ring-valentines-gift - Triple Heart Ring Price: $15.32
  • Metal Type: Solid Sterling Silver
  • Metal Stamp or Hallmark: 925
  • Metal Purity: 92.5% Sterling Silver
  • Gemstone Type: No Stone
  • Face Measurements from South to North: 12mm (0.6")
  • Band Thickness: 2mm
  • Finish Rhodium For Anti-Tarnish
  • Size: Available in All Sizes (Resizing Available)
  • Plating: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold
A delicate silver band with three hearts of various sizes and metal colors - large silver, medium gold, small rose gold.
https://geek.wish.com/c/58f97ee832d0c40215b14e19 - Natural White Sapphire Gemstone Ring Price: $2.00
  • Stone :White Sapphire
  • size : 6 7 8 9 10
Split shank ring twisted into an infinity shape that runs through an open heart, and the whole thing is entirely encrusted with tiny white sapphire stones.  You will need to have or create a free Geek account to view or purchase this ring.

Mother's Day is usually a good time to find poly-friendly jewelry too, with multiple birthstone options to represent multiple people.

joreth: (polyamory)
A few reminders:

1) Our wedding is public so if you can read this, you are invited (with only a few exceptions and they probably know who they are, mostly involving people I've had to block - if I've ever told you to fuck off, especially if I knew you in real life and I still told you to fuck off and then blocked you on all forms of contact, then you're probably not invited).

2) Plane tickets are going up, so make sure you make your travel arrangements soon for the wedding. San Jose (SJC) Mineta International Airport is the closest airport to the traditional ceremony and Seattle (SEA) International Airport is the closest airport to the handfasting ceremony.

Also remember that you need Northwest Recess event tickets to attend the handfasting ceremony.  

3) We have secured a block of rooms at an inexpensive (for Silicon Valley) hotel that is the closest hotel to the location for the traditional ceremony. This means that the rate is locked in and will not increase even as regular room rates increase. Any rooms not claimed under that room block 30 days before will be removed from the block and you will have to pay full price to get a room, assuming there are any left by then.

You don't have to stay here. We chose it for convenience and proximity to the wedding location and you can choose other accommodations if you prefer, but prices are going up. Silicon Valley in summertime is not a cheap place to visit, so make your reservations soon.

If you are getting a room there, please let us know so that we can adjust the number and types of rooms available. If you tried to reserve a room and the kind you wanted (2 double beds or 1 queen bed) was not available, let us know and we can add more of those rooms to the block.

4) We will be sending out formal invitations with instructions, maps, addresses, etc. in less than a month, so make sure you RSVP with your email address and mailing address before then to receive them, even if you aren't sure yet.

You can fill out the RSVP form, leave the specific events blank, and just add your addresses and comments for now if you want, and then come back and change your RSVP later.

All of this information and more, including relevant links, located here:  http://bit.ly/SquiggleWeddingCon 
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
www.polyishmoviereviews.com/show-notes/episode23-sametimenextyear

New episode! This time I review the classic play-turned-movie Same Time, Next Year with Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. Can a movie about cheating find a place on the Poly-ish Movie List?

If you subscribe to Poly-ish Movie Reviews on some kind of podcatcher or RSS feed, you probably already got this month's episode in your podcast feed. But the Show Notes & Transcripts page was posted late, so here's the new episode for this month!
joreth: (polyamory)
I came down, not "hard", exactly, but firm on someone asking some advice. At least, compared to some of my other responses, I don't think it was "hard". But I didn't shy away from the main point. I didn't ease him into it, I just didn't pick him up screaming and throw him into deep, choppy waters.

And he *listened*. I find that to be admirable and impressive and I think there is a lot of good potential for his future in unlearning all the shit that society has instilled in him.

I think the advice is good, so I'm gonna re-post a modified version of it here as a general post not aimed at a specific person but at a situation that I see play over and over again in the poly community.  I've left the gendered pronouns that applied to the OP, because I so often see this playing out with these pronouns and I often speak from my own experience, but the stories and the advice could be found with any mix of pronouns.

So, you're trying this poly thing out for the first time with your partner.  You love each other, so naturally you don't want to lose what you already have together, but you also want to explore something new.  So you discuss it a lot, and you make some agreements as to how to go about it that you think shows your commitment to and compassion for each other.

Then she comes to you and says that this agreement y'all had?  She wants to change the agreement.  Right now, because the thing you agreed not to do is about to happen.  Or maybe already happened.  Or maybe isn't about to happen right this instance, but it's now inevitable and it's *going* to happen and you can't stop it.

And you're afraid.  And hurt.  You agreed!  Now she wants to change the rules!  She can't just do that, can she?  Well, I'm going to tell you something that you're going to like even less than hearing that.  She's allowed to do change things.  What she does with herself and with other people who are not you is none of your business.  She can change the "rules" (whether you use that term or not) regarding what she does with herself whenever she wants to, and she's not "the bad guy" for doing so, even if you feel bad feels about it.

First of all, don't confuse "it's not your business, she's her own person and can do what she wants" with "don't have any emotional investment in your partner".  A lot of mono people and recently-mono people make that mistake.

When your partner goes to work, or hangs out with her friends, is it your "business" to negotiate ahead of time what she does or doesn't do at work?  I mean, you're sharing her with her job, right?  You're sharing her with her boss.  Shouldn't you get a say in what she does?  Of course not, that would be ridiculous.  You're not "sharing" her with her boss!  Even though, technically, she does spend more time with him, the majority of her waking hours, actually.  You don't get a say in it, you don't get to "negotiate" about it, and it's none of your business.  What she does on her boss's time is between her and her boss.  What she does with her best friend when they're out together is between her and her best friend.  How she spends her time with her mother is between her and her mother.

But as a loving partner, you might be *interested* in how her day at work goes.  You might want to hear all about it, or maybe what she does isn't of interest to you so you don't really want to hear all the details but you care how her job affects her.  Her happiness or lack of happiness at work matters to you, so you're "invested" in her well-being at work.  But it's not your "business" to know anything about her work, especially ahead of time when shit happens and things come up.

She doesn't have to report to you or notify you or tell you anything to soothe your own feelings.  But she might want to share with you because sharing who we are and what we do when we're apart with our partners is part of intimacy and connecting with each other.  And she ought to tell you things that could affect your own ability to consent to a relationship (or certain activities in that relationship) with her.  But that's about your relationship with her and how *she* affects *you*, not her relationship with other people.

No one is saying that you shouldn't be "invested" in her and even in her other relationships, but this "need" to know that you're expressing *is* a form of control, whether you see it or not.  It's scary to not know what's happening, and wanting to be kept in the loop isn't, by itself, a bad thing, but expecting to know, with the (probably subconscious) belief that by knowing you can then affect the outcome, is a drive to control.

If you think that she can't just announce it, and that a conversation or a dialog has to happen before rules or agreements can change, then you're likely believing that you can influence things.  Conversation *should* happen so that you can both explore your feelings together, but usually when the person in your position feels *affronted* at the idea that he isn't granted the "right" to this conversation and feels that an announcement is insufficient, if you dig down deep enough, it's based on the assumption that he can control or influence the outcome.

And often, I see people being affronted even when their partner *does* ask for a conversation first.  The very fact of "asking permission" is seen as offensive, because you "already agreed!"  You had an agreement!  Well, now she wants to renegotiate that agreement, and if that bothers you, then you have some issues with control right now.

Maybe you don't realize that's what you're doing, but right now you're not just expressing a desire to know because change is hard to deal with and you want time to adjust.  You're also expressing a desire to influence the potential situation, to influence *her* decision-making process.  That's control.  You might not understand that your underlying, sometimes hidden, assumptions are being expressed, but they are and that's why people in forums jump down your throat when you ask for advice on certain kinds of situations.

The problem is that only people who have made it through to the other side can see what the difference is between control vs. interest, or between "not your business" and "don't get invested".  Much like privilege, most of us can't see it when we're in it, but we can damn well see it when we're on the outside of it.

Because most of us, when we're on your side of the fence, can't tell what the difference is between "not your business" and "don't be invested", it probably sounds like I'm suggesting that you shouldn't *care*, because your side of the fence has all these different definitions of "caring" mixed up with each other.  I've written before about the story of a friend who voluntarily gave up polyamory on the basis that he couldn't deal with his partner "not caring" about what he did away from her.  He couldn't tell the difference between "not your business" and "don't be invested" either.

There are very subtle, but significant, things going on that make "none of your business" and "don't be invested" two very different things, but much like trying to point out to someone their own privilege, it can be very difficult to see what that difference is, until one day you just *do* see the difference.

Second of all, another common rookie mistake is that we often make it unsafe for our partners to be honest with us.  Without doing anything intentionally, and without even going so far as "abuse" or "control", when our partners are afraid of how we will react to something, our partners often skirt things because it doesn't feel safe to be totally up front and honest, and they do that *without intending* to be dishonest.

There is a reluctance to admit to themselves what they're really feeling, which becomes a hesitation to admit to us.  They try to "ease us in" to situations, they downplay this thing or gloss over that thing.  Because they don't feel completely safe in really examining themselves out of fear of how the revelations will affect us.  This happens to newbies all. the. time.  It's basically the transitional step - if you come from a mono world, you have certain habits and assumptions and expectations built in and getting past them into trusting oneself and one's partner is extremely difficult.

The example of someone who is upset that his partner originally agreed not to have sex with her new partner on a date but then calls to ask permission to change that rule while on that date is a *classic* example and the forums are filled with posts asking for advice on what to do now.  He obviously had a problem with her having sex with her partner.  She obviously picked up on that, whether he said anything explicitly or not.  If he really didn't have any problem with it, even being surprised by a change in plans wouldn't have elicited the all-to-common plea for validation that the poly forums would see the next day, as he plaintively asks "that was wrong of her to change our agreement, right?"

She didn't feel completely safe advocating for her own interest in sex with her partner or in advocating on behalf of her partner's interests, so she hedged and cushioned and tried to ease him into it, until sex was right there, in her face, and she couldn't hide from the possibility anymore without being blatantly dishonest.  She had to wait until the cognitive dissonance from the reality of potential sex was greater than her fear of hurting you before she could admit to herself, and then to you, that sex was an option.

This means that *you* have your own share of the responsibility here in setting up the situation you now find yourself in where agreements are changed or broken and you feel "betrayed" because her emotions and desires didn't conveniently followed the path that y'all somehow thought it was possible to map out ahead of time.

She needs to feel that her actions with another aren't going to hurt you, because she cares about you and doesn't *want* to hurt you, and she needs to see that enough times to really trust that it's true, before she'll learn how to let go of this habit of hiding her wants from herself, of downplaying herself, of diminishing herself, of making herself smaller for your comfort. She likely has a *lot* of programming from a multitude of sources over her life instructing her to make herself smaller for the comfort of others, particularly if your partner is female, femme, or socialized as a woman and has male or masculine or socialized-as-men romantic partners.

I've been there.  Yes, me, the Internet Flame Warrior, Le Online Bitch, who demands my agency and takes no prisoners in these battles for autonomy and respect.  I know the complicated, swirling morass of unnamed and unrecognized feelings, the justifications, the compassion tinged with darker fears, that murky soup inside the head that makes me believe, if only on the surface, that no, I really am not as interested in this guy, no, I really don't want sex this soon, no, I'm totally happy not dating anyone else for a while, so please, honey, take your time and get used to things first.

I know how to shrink myself so slowly that even I won't notice it until the box I'm trying to fit in bursts from the pressure.  I know how to put myself on the back burner, how to dismiss myself so that someone else feels better.

I also know that it's a false sense of security.  I know that this usually just makes things worse in the long run because my partner starts to get used to this unobtrusive, inconspicuous little package, so when the box suddenly explodes and sends shards and debris everywhere, he feels like a bomb has gone off.  Either way he's going to feel uncomfortable with me taking up my full size.  I know this.

And yet, I know what it's like to do this anyway, even knowing it.  Because I'm trained to do this.  Everything in my culture and upbringing says that this is the proper way to behave.  To be a "compassionate" person, a "nice" person, a "caring" person, you have to "compromise".  You have to "move at the pace of the slowest person".  You have to "give and take" and right now you have to "give" first.

She feels that she has to be smaller than she is.  She has made herself so small that even she can't see who she really is and what she wants, and she did that because she's afraid of how you will feel if she doesn't.  It doesn't even have to be a fear of punishment or retribution or abuse.  She could feel afraid because she genuinely doesn't want to hurt you because she loves you. 

But she feels that way because she believes that being herself and wanting what she wants *will hurt you*.

You have to set the tone, and you have to do the work before she will feel safe.  That may take some time and she will probably stumble over her own bad habits for a while before she learns to trust you and to trust herself.

But it starts with you.
joreth: (BDSM)

I'm finally getting around to reading "Why Does He Do That" by Lundy Bancroft so expect lots of quotes in the next few days, and hopefully some longer blog posts if I ever get a computer again. I didn't want to wait on this one because it's relevant to the atrocity of a "kinky romance" movie whose sequel just came out.

In addition to being rape and abuse apologia, the 50 Shades trilogy is also extemely classist. Some tweet put it more succinctly, basically that this book wouldn't seem romantic at all if Christian lived in a trailer park. If a guy with tattoos and a construction job behaved like Christian, even the "soft" version in the movie, it would be glaringly obvious how controlling and manipulative he is. But give him a private jet and suddenly it's "romantic"

Bancroft addresses this very thing as early as the first section in the introduction chapter on The Mythology of abuse.

"The social stereotype of the abuser as a relatively uneducated, blue-collar male adds to the confusion. The faulty equation goes: 'Abusive equals muscle-bound caveman, which in turn equals lower class.' In addition to the fact that this image is an unfair stereotype of working-class men, it also overlooks the fact that a professional or college-educated man has roughly the same likelihood of abusing women as anyone else. A successful businessperson, a college professor, or a sailing instructor may be less likely to adopt a tough-guy image with tattoos all over his body [although that stereotype is gradually being overcome these days] but still may well be a nightmare partner.
 
Class and racial stereotypes permit the more privileged members of society to duck the problem of abuse by pretending its someone else's problem. Their thinking goes: 'It's those construction-worker guys who never went to college; it's those Latinos; it's those street toughs - they're the abusers. Our town, our neighborhood, [our class of man,] isn't like that. We're not macho men here.'
 
But women who live with abuse know that abusers come in all styles and from all backgrounds. Sometimes the more educated an abuser, the more knots he knows how to tie in a woman's brain, the better he is at getting her to blame herself, and the slicker is his ability to persuade other people that she is crazy. The more socially powerful an abuser, the more difficult it can be to escape."



This is Christian Grey. This is Hair Gropenführer. This is even my ex, who is not in the same class as the extremely wealthy, but has the social power of being a white-collar, educated, middle-class, white, likeable, social-justice-conscious, cismale.

The Orangutan-In-Chief has made the "Latino" argument explicitly. One of the reasons he wants to build his security-blanket of a wall is because he claimed that Mexicans are rapists, implying  proportionally more often than US men are. My ex uses social justice language to obfuscate and confuse his victims so that they get confused and start believing that their resistance to his control victimizes *him* and that they are the monsters.

Christian uses his money. He can afford to travel literally anywhere and with no notice or preparation to stalk his victim. He buys the company his victim works for so that her income is directly tied to pleasing him. In the movie, they gave him an excuse that he wanted to fire her "abusive" boss, but a non-controlling person would seek legal prosection means to help her, not replacing one abusive boss for another. He buys her a car against her wishes. He consistently thinks that he knows what's best for her in spite of her protestations and buys whatever he thinks she "needs" from clothes to food to transportation to her source of income, regardless of her own preferences.

He uses legalese to obfuscate his manipulation in the form of a non-disclosure contract (and again in his farce of a bdsm contract) and then uses literally the power of the law with those contracts to isolate her and prevent her from communicating outside or having an independent support system.

Healthy kinksters introducing a newbie to bdsm for the first time recommend that the n00b find a local dungeon and/or community for more resources and support during the learning process. One of the red flags in the community, or "lifestyle", is when a dom tries to be the only teaching source, often insisting that he alone is "responsible" enough to properly guide the sub. One example of an extemist who uses this tactic is a cult leader who is the sole source of wisdom (and sex or decisions about sex).

I once had an ex who insisted that only he could be trusted to recognize predators in the community, so all new subbies had to be collared by him so that any dom wanting to play with the newbie sub had to court his permission and approval, so that he could "vet" them. I've also seen "poly" men use this same excuse to infantilize their female partners saying that they have poor judgement so he needs veto power to make sure that she stays safe. Ironically, this is a warning sign that *he* is the one abusing her.

Christian also uses the "I was abused as a child" myth that Bancroft addresses in the immediately prior bullet point. This excuse pulls on a victim's compassion and makes her feel guilty for her resistance because she is then continuing to hurt an already broken person, as well as making her want to stick around to "save" him.

This book and movie trilogy would have actually made a good suspense thriller (if you excuse the poor writing). If the author wasn't such a piss-poor writer and if she hadn't gone on record multiple times defending her tripe as "romantic", I might have thought that she researched abusive relationships and used the domestic abuse checklist as a character outline. And if the Twilight author wasn't almost as shitty of writer, I might have assumed that *she* was the researcher and used the checklist that the plagerizer - er, I mean 50 Shades author just unwittingly copied into her fanfic version.

I'm not even past the introduction chapters yet and 50 Shades can already be seen in the warning signs. Abuse is about power and control. Money, education, job type, and other class markers are all ways that people obtain power. If anything, it seems like it would be MORE likely that Christian and Orangeface McTinyhands would turn out to be abusers.

Don't support the books or movies by spending money on the franchise or watching / downloading through a service that tracks its popularity like Amazon or Netflix. Don't recommend it to newbies or excuse it as a "gateway" into real kink. If you happen to be interested in the erotic fantasy of being controlled or trained, I can recommend better stories that don't neglect the subbie's consent even while she submits to a power exchange dynamic, even ones that include her resistance and him "knowing her better than she knows herself".

To put it simply (yet again), it's not the kink that makes it abuse, it's the manipulation and control, and what makes it particularly dangerous is that it relies heavily on the audience buying into the class myth of abuse. This myth is one of the tools that abusers use to gaslight their victims and convince them that they are not victims. By not taking a hard stance and speaking out against this franchise, our silence contributes directly to the culture which traps women in abusive situations. Women need to know that this is abuse so they can better recognize it when it happens to them.

He is not romantic. He is not sexy. He is not a dom. He is not a broken bird to be saved. He is not your fault. He is not exempt.

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)

Hey filmmakers! I know this is a complicated, nuanced concept that takes years of study in advanced academic institutions, but I'm going to spoil the ending for you now:

It is not only possible, but likely, that two people of complimentary genders can be thrown together in a situation and not want to have sex with each other.
I know, I've seen this happen. Like every single mixed-gender office ever. They don't all pair up, even if they're not already married. Even if they genuinely like each other as people. And sometimes, even if they are actually attracted to each other.

Now, some of y'all script writers appear to have advanced doctorates in Non-Trope Writing, because I've seen a couple movies lately where you didn't do this. And I appreciate you. But the rest of y'all need to get your shit together and get some schoolin' because the obligatory romantic subplot that serves to support the male character's story arc is boring, trite, lazy writing, overdone, and way out of proportion to reality. It's like watching a movie set in Harlem around the turn of the last century and seeing only 1 black face (of someone who happens to be in power during Jim Crow and yet not a main character). Like, do you even history bro?

The population is more than 50% "woman" - there needs to be more than 1 female character in a cast of dozens. When you add up all the various ethnicities together, white men are a minority - there needs to be more than 1 or 2 black dudes and possibly that 1 hot Latina in a cast of dozens. And I know that this one will be some seriously high level thesis work for you, but all those women and non-white people have their own stories going on that have nothing to do with supporting some white dude's personal growth, which even white dudes in the audience can relate to if you tell the story well (and if they don't just refuse to relate to on principle).

And when you look at all the times that people don't hook up with each other just because their genitals are complimentary, there needs to be more than 3 movies in the last 10 years that feature a mixed-gender cast that doesn't have the token woman character having sex with the lead male character or any sexual tension leading up to will-they/won't-they subplots.

Because it's totally possible to put an attractive woman and an attractive man* in a room together and have them not want to bone each other.




*I'm not even going to address the problem with body diversity or gendered double standards of age and/or "attractiveness" here - I'm mad enough already.

joreth: (Super Tech)

The more I learn about Moana, the more I like it.

I'm about to say a few things that I just learned about the film and the backstory that I like, which aren't *too* spoilery, but if you're really spoiler averse, you might want to not read the rest of the post.  It's mostly about the background behind the movie and not so much about movie plot points.

First of all, I just learned that the production team recruited "experts from across the South Pacific to form an Oceanic Story Trust, who consulted on the film's cultural accuracy and sensitivity as the story evolved through nine versions." Seriously, more movies need to do something like this.

Next, I learned that one of those early versions had Moana as the only girl in a family of sons and her character arc was gender-based. Now, I'm usually all in for a good examination of how gender roles are expressed and inhibit characters, but something I've been really into lately is just having characters be fully fleshed characters that get into situations and who might happen to be not straight white males. MRA defenses of mostly white straight male protagonists include the justification that the story isn't *about* being a white male, so girls and POC should have no problem getting into the story because it could apply to "anyone". 1) Totally not true on pretty much every level of that assertion; 2) if they really could apply to "anyone", then it shouldn't matter if the character *is* "anyone", including non-male, non-straight, or non-white; and 3) yeah, having "white male" be the default setting where making a character not "white male" is a deliberate choice IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Ahem.

So, I really liked the fact that the story of Moana is not about her being "a girl". She wasn't prohibited from her dreams by her father "because she's a girl", she wasn't being forced into her traditional role "because she's a girl", and her story wasn't about either overcoming her gender or teaching anyone else to overcome gender roles. Her story was just an adventure story. That happened to happen to "a girl". The story could have been anyone. And I absolutely loved that she didn't have to "be a girl" and yet, she was one.

Next, I learned that the scene with Moana, Maui, and the ... well, I'll just say the "pirates" ... was a *deliberate homage to Mad Max: Fury Road*! Take that you fucking MRAs! Even Disney sees the financial incentive and storytelling value of Furiosa. Even "chick flicks" are fucking badass feminist action movies now. Because, here's a newsflash (and to blatantly steal from some other post I don't have the link to), women actually like action movies but particularly when the main character isn't a sexualized woman. Just tell our stories and we'll come see them. It's not that we don't like action films, it's that it's fucking lazy storytelling when the only women in the film are there to fulfill the (perceived) male audience members' wet dreams and we're *bored* and uninterested in lazy storytelling like that. The action isn't actiony enough to make up for the fact that your few women are cardboard flat and BORING.

There are legitimate criticisms about the film with respect to cultural sensitivity, and I was concerned about that happening when I first heard of it coming out and again when I saw it, but not being familiar with the communities of the people in the South Pacific (other than to know that there is no great controversy or ownership battle over who gets to use the term "poly" online and I refuse to White Knight them by making it into A Thing on their behalf), I was not able to anticipate or later to pick out what those criticisms might be.

So, as someone who is not disinfranchised by whatever gaffs the movie makes, the more I see, read, listen, and think about this movie, the more I want to include it in my top Disney favorites alongside Brave (my #1 favorite for the tomboy struggle), Maleficent (#3 for the lack of romantic love driving force and the nuanced look at a villain without ignoring her flaws) and Frozen (#4 for the lack of a husband and romance plot).

If I didn't list your favorite Disney princess movie, chances are it's because I either didn't like it or because I haven't seen it, so you don't have to ask me "have you seen...?" to find out why it's not listed.

joreth: (Swing Dance)

I got an amazing compliment last night. I have never danced bal before (balboa, a variation on the original lindy hop swing dance that was developed for really fast music in really crowded nightclubs) and I don't even know what the basic pattern is.  But a guy in the local lindy scene who knows bal was at the Gatsby party last night and none of the other follows knew how to dance it either, but a good bal song came on and he wanted to dance.

I've always wanted to learn and, through years of dedication and commitment to learning dance, I have learned how to push through my fear of looking foolish in public and I asked him to teach me right there at the (non-dance-event) party, with dozens of strangers looking on.  He showed me the basic step and then led me into the dance. I know I was off-beat the whole time - I could feel it. We weren't in sync and it felt awkward. But he led me and I followed.  Afterwards, he gushed, not just to me but to the others in the party, about what a good job I did, that he couldn't believe I had never danced bal before, and that I was able to keep up on some non-beginner steps that he threw at me.

This has inspired me to add bal to my "I will learn these dances this year" resolution. I mean, it's already on my list of dances I want to learn, but I am resolving to actually take lessons in certain dances in the coming year (Argentine Tango being the top of the list, previously the only one on the list).  Pushing through my fear of messing up in public has brought me more skills, more enjoyable memories, and more confidence than literally any other thing I've tried. The dance community has been instrumental in that because of the embedded nature of acceptance and welcome for newcomers, especially those who look foolish.

We were all that goofy newbie once, and we are all that goofy newbie again with each new skill we learn. No matter how long we've been dancing, or how good we get at it, we're still always that goofy newbie who messes up on the floor, steps on our partner's toes, bumps into someone else, and generally makes a fool of ourselves in public.  I've been that fool so many times, and it still frightens me. But I do it anyway because I have lived through the embarrassment in the past and nothing truly bad happened to me for being embarrassed. And now that I know that, I can tell my anxiety to shut up and I can do it anyway.

I can't always push through my anxiety - as my messy house and full sink will attest. But the more times I do it, the easier it gets to do it the next time. Sometimes I backslide and I just can't in that moment, but I know that I'm a flawed human and that's OK, so I can find the strength to do it next time.  It's that "do it next time" that's important, though. Accepting that I'm flawed and then not pushing through next time as every time becomes "I'll do it next time" doesn't make me better. Dancing, because of the acceptance of the community and the knowledge that we are all still beginners at something, makes it easier for that "next time" to happen, to not allow "next time" to become code for "never".

So, I had a good compliment - one that actually makes me feel good about myself as a person and inspires me to be even better. That's what a good compliment should do - not simply notify the other person that you have pants feels for them, but inspires them to be their best self and accepts them for their current self at the same time.

#WordsOfAffirmation #5LoveLanguages #DancingIsLifeSkills #MadFollowSkillz #NewYearsResolutions #RealMenDoNotHarassComplimentWomen #ToDanceIsToLive #JustKeepDancing #IWillLearnAllTheDances

joreth: (Purple Mobius)

Just like the word "polyamory" itself, there is a person who coined the term "solo poly" who is living* and yet most of the community debates the definition. We seem to like taking words and terms that exist for a purpose and changing them to suit our own preferences.  Then we argue over what the words mean and get upset when people misunderstand our non-standard, unconventional, or unique use of the word.

When the term first came out, I had been an outspoken writer and activist in the poly community for many years. I came into the poly community as a single, bi-curious, woman-presenting person. I wasn't trying to "open up" some existing monogamous relationship. Which means that I was immediately beset upon by the unicorn hunters - poly sharks circling the waters after fresh meat. It's enough to put anyone off their feed, to mix my metaphors.

But I'm stubborn. And I'm very secure in who I am and what I want. And I'm also absolutely adamant about what I believe I am entitled to. Some of the things I believe I am entitled to are controlling my agency, being treated as an individual human being, being an equal partner in my relationships, and designing my relationships to suit the preferences of the people in them rather than forcing people to fit into a predetermined relationship mold. Apparently, I'm asking a lot. But I didn't flee the poly community after being treated like something to be consumed. I stuck around to fight back so that I could change the community into something that was more hostile towards those sharks and more welcoming towards swimmers like me, the people who, I had been led to believe, started the community in the first place.

Around 2012, the phrase "solo poly" started getting used, notably by one blogger in particular who is credited with coining the phrase. I became aware of her when we started interacting on Twitter because we seemed to share similar relationship preferences and a similar frustration with the broader poly community being resistant to and dismissive of our visions of respect for autonomy, agency, and living alone. I do not take any credit whatsoever in the coining of that phrase, but I was there in the beginning when it was coined and I had been publicly espousing what turned out to be its definition for more than a decade before its coining.

There were a few other terms floating around at the time and we were trying them all on to see what fit. While trying on several terms, I started the first ever solo poly group, and I put it on Facebook. I invited several phrase coiners to run the group with me, as we seemed to share the same visions and frustrations. Eventually the other terms dropped out of favor and we stuck with "solo poly".

But in my time defending this new phrase, I have discovered that lots of people use the term differently, including those of us who started the whole movement in the first place. As usual, this has caused some confusion. Today, I have come up with a breakdown of the three or four most common variations on the phrase that I think will help to bridge communication gaps when we all start throwing around this term and everyone starts arguing about what it can and can't include.

Before I get to that breakdown, though, there is one misconception that needs to be cleared up. The one thing that solo poly does *not* mean is "unpartnered". Solo polys *can* be without any romantic partners (for however they want to define "romantic partner") but that is most definitely not what the term *means*. Solo polys can and do have partners of all sorts, including deeply intimate, emotional, committed partners. We already had a word for people who don't have any partners - single. The term "solo poly" is intended to address a specific way that they "do" their relationships, not to indicate that they don't have any.

  1. The most commonly cited explanation for "solo poly", in my observation, is the desire to live alone and be off the "relationship escalator". The "relationship escalator" is that culturally defined path that people in romantic relationships are supposed to take, with certain steps progressing in a particular order, all culminating in a particular relationship conclusion. In my culture, we start programming people from a very young age, notably with the children's rhyme "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage!" There can be some variance in the steps, but in general, the "relationship escalator" involves two people always moving towards a destination that ends with life together, a marriage certificate, kids, a house, entangled finances, and a blending of the self into the relationship unit.

    This can even play out in a microcosm of individual relationships, where even sex acts are ranked on an increasing scale of importance, to be done in a particular order in a particular time and imbued with meaning or significance related to its place on the escalator.  But with respect to this element, the culmination of the relationship, it's symbol of "success", involves the intermingling of lives.

    Many solo polys prefer to structure their lives, logistically, in alternate ways, with living alone or "independently" with housemates being a top priority. Many solo polys expend a lot of energy keeping their lives logistically, practically, disentangled from other people, regardless of the emotional connection they share with others.

  2. The next most commonly cited description that I, personally, see is the elevation of the self as "primary". This is more abstract and involves prioritizing the self over others, usually in terms of self-care and emotional labor. People who use this description will often refer to themselves as their own "primary" and everyone else comes "secondary" to the self. This does not preclude any depth to an emotional connection between the solo poly and others. This is all about priority - who comes first in a conflict of competing priorities (which is usually the alternate definition of "hierarchy" that so often leads us into circular argument over whether hierarchy can be "ethical" or not, where people confuse "priority" for "power" and attach ranking terms to priorities instead of centers of power). No matter how much one cares about another, sometimes priorities conflict and that's just the way of things - just ask anyone with two or more kids who have extra-curricular activities or who have had accidents at the same time. Prioritizing one's own self as "primary" sets the baseline precedent for how to resolve those conflicts.

    In practice, many solo polys are fairly adept at what I call "interdependence" - the balancing of priorities so that each person in a relationship can feel secure that their emotional needs will be cared for and that their partners and romantic networks can provide a safety net for them to fall back on when needed. Yet many tend to emphasize the importance of putting the self first in conversation about priorities, so it often sounds like they stray into "selfish" territory (which I have defined in some long-ago blog post as being different from self-interested, where "selfish" is about prioritizing the self to the detriment of anyone else and is inherently a negative trait).

    In my opinion and experience, I think some of this emphasis comes as a reaction to abuse. One of the red flags of abuse is in the loss of individual identity and subsuming one's identity into the relationship - in making the relationship itself more important than the people in the relationship. Lots and lots and lots of people see the melding of individuals into a single unit as "romantic" and don't see the danger inherent in losing one's identity separate from the relationship. Because of that, lots of people engage in fundamentally abusive practices without even realizing it (which is where the whole power issue of hierarchy comes in), and in polyamory, the people who feel the pressure and consequent explosion first and most often tend to be people who are not entangled in escalator-like relationships.

    In other words, even though losing one's identity into a relationship in an abusive situation hurts everyone, the most visible collateral damage in these situations tends to be the "secondary" brought into an existing dyadic relationship. These "secondaries" are treated as disposable, as crutches to shore up damaged couples, as sex toys, as nannies, as need-fulfillment machines. Even when they aren't supposed to be "secondaries" and are instead supposed to be equal "thirds" to existing dyads, their purpose tends to remain the same - a person is "hired" to fulfill a role for a couple and when it all goes to hell, that third person often ends up with the most visible scars.

    So I believe that many solo polys are gun-shy, so to speak, of getting sucked back into these kinds of toxic relationships or have seen the explosions on the poly battlefield and want to avoid being yet another statistic themselves. I might fall into that camp. Many may also be unable to articulate the difference between priority and power, and fearing a power imbalance, they emphasize their priority for themselves.  I think a lot of solo polys, even though they are quite capable of building interdependent relationships and may even be practiced at it in their existing relationships, I think a lot of solo polys tend to emphasize their self as "primary" to try and explain the concepts of autonomy and independence to an audience that often sees *any* separation or individuality as a threat to their control over the outcome of the relationship.

    I am not at all, in any way, suggesting that solo polys do not feel the way they claim to feel about being their own primaries. I'm suggesting to people who think that these claims mean that solo polys are callous and selfish and unable to care deeply about other people or even work together to form mutually beneficial partnerships that those people misunderstand the importance of the concepts, possibly because of a lack of understanding of that power imbalance and of how deep the threads of abuse go into our collective understandings of relationships where "abuse" and "romantic" become interchangeable.

  3. Closely related to the "self as the primary" but some may view as distinct, is the prioritization of the concepts of "autonomy", "agency", and "independence". This can also be related to abuse. First and foremost, abuse is about control. The way one controls another is by removing their agency - their ability to operate as an autonomous individual. Many solo polys cite "agency" as their motivation, or their priority. Much of what I said in the previous element can be applied here, especially the parts about reacting to abuse, where some solo polys are aware of and concerned about abuse and emphasize the language of "agency" in their descriptions such that people who don't understand the importance can misinterpret solo polys as being "selfish", "afraid of commitment", or unwilling / unable to work together in interdependent partnerships.

    Sometimes the people who are most sensitive to a loss of agency or autonomy are part of oppressed categories and understand the loss of agency from a cultural oppression perspective. Many solo polys are drawn to the label because of their closely held beliefs in the importance of autonomy and they seek to build relationships that honor and respect autonomy and agency above everything else, where all the other elements of relationships, such as support and intimacy, exist to serve and protect the partners' respective agency. Some solo polys believe that intimacy and connection can't exist without recognizing and acknowledging agency, because it is only by relating to an autonomous individual can we truly build intimate connections in the first place. Not recognizing the essential agency of our partners is considered a roadblock to intimacy because the participants are not really in relationships with each other, but are in relationships with models of people that exist in one's imagination that are *based* on real people.

    There are also a lot of motivations for people who value independence. I'm not going to go into a deep dive over the how and why of this. Some people were raised to be independent. Some people were harmed by being too dependent and learned independence as a survival skill. Some people had bad experiences with codependent partners in the past. Some people are just that way and who knows why? And probably there are even more reasons.

    Our culture tends to give us conflicting messages. On the one hand, we're supposed to "pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps" and be a "self-made man" and not take "handouts". On the other hand, romantic relationships are culturally designed to erode that sense of independence. There is also a gender power influence here, where men who have housewives raising the kids and managing the home are still considered "self-made" who become "successful" with "nobody's help" but women who have partners are considered to need help. If she works and he stays home with the kids, he is "helping out with the kids" so that she can pursue her career. But if he works and she stays home, she's not "helping out", she's doing her job and he still built his career "on his own" because it's the charity or handouts or assistance of others that "count" as "help".

    The gender differential and power dynamic in relationships is a big enough topic that some people can actually build entire careers out of studying it so I'm going to stop here before I go off on a rant about it. Back to independence, we are taught to be "independent" but that doesn't apply in relationships. In relationships, we are taught to entangle ourselves with other people. It's even written into the law in some places, such as shared property laws where, even if you maintain separate joint checking accounts, legally speaking each spouse is entitled to half of the other's money. Some people, for a variety of reasons, prefer to retain their independence even within romantic relationships, regardless of how much they care about their partner.

  4. The fourth element is about introversion and privacy. Many people who gravitate towards solo poly are introverts. First of all, "introversion" has nothing at all to do with social skills, shyness, or misanthropy. Introversion and extroversion are jungian psychological theories that describe how people feel "energized", or engaged, active, and happy. Introversion and extroversion are also not binary states; they are on spectrums. Everyone has some of both, so I don't want to hear any of this "I'm an ambivert" or "those tests never guess me right because I do both" bullshit in my comments. Everyone does both to some degree and boxing you into a single category is not the purpose of the system. But personality type systems and the public's collective misunderstanding of them is a rant for another time.

    Back to the point - introversion is where people feel that they lose "energy" by interacting with some people and they need to "recharge" by being alone. Extroversion is the opposite - people feel that they lose "energy" by being alone and need social contact with others to feel better. Many introverts enjoy social activity, some of us enjoy it a great deal. It's just that we feel tired after the event and it takes some time being alone to start to feel better. Introversion can be a difficult state to adequately care for when someone lives with other people, so polys who are strong introverts often enjoy living alone to care for their introversion. No matter how much an introvert loves someone else, and no matter what they feel or believe about entangling finances or other relationship escalator steps, an introvert still needs a way to get "alone time". So they may be open to such entangled arrangements, but only if they can configure them in the right way. The difficulty of finding such a balance when one is also poly can lead to people identifying as "solo poly".

    And then there is privacy. Again, like independence above, there are a wide variety of reasons why people value privacy, ranging from healthy to unhealthy, from "nature" to "nurture" (i.e. being inherent in the personality vs. a reaction to past experiences), and which slide around on the intensity scale. It is much more difficult to maintain one's privacy from within a relationship that is riding the escalator. When people cohabit, especially if they don't have a room of their own, when they share finances, when they share email and online accounts, when they entangle their lives with other people, it becomes extremely difficult to have privacy. This isn't about keeping secrets (and I'm not going to entertain comments about what "counts" as a "secret"). Every mother I know has made jokes about not knowing what it's like to pee without an audience for the first 5 years of a child's life (longer if one has multiple kids within 5 years of age). Some people value privacy more than they value entanglement and these people are often attracted to the label "solo poly".

These four elements - living alone, the self as the primary, autonomy / agency / independence, and introversion / privacy, are not mutually exclusive. Most solo polys I know desire a mix of the four elements. But I would say that each solo poly person has their own blend of these four elements, with certain elements being more important than others. And that is what, I think, causes a lot of confusion.  Someone asks "what is solo poly?" and someone with a blend that prioritizes element #1 gives their answer, but then someone who really feels and believes that element #3 describes them but doesn't much care about #1 thinks that they are not solo poly because their blend is different and they're not aware of all these different elements.

My personal stance on this, the position I have always held since I started fighting with hierarchical polys almost 20 years ago that led to me collaborating with those bloggers who started coining all these poly sub-group terms, my opinion is that the first element - the logistics of living alone - is not necessary but is extremely difficult to maintain the others without it. I am of the "autonomy and agency" flavor of solo poly. I believe that maintaining one's individuality and independence, and respecting the autonomy and agency of each person, and prioritizing the autonomy and agency of each individual above the relationship are of the utmost importance and how we reduce abusive structures in relationships.

I have always held that the idea of autonomy is what makes one "solo poly", even before we had the terms to use. I have also always held that maintaining one's autonomy is possible even in relationships that look "primary-like", but that couple privilege is a subtle, insidious thing that takes conscious and deliberate effort to undermine so that people in "primary-like" relationships or escalator relationships would have to intentionally structure their relationships to make space for autonomy.

I tend to see the autonomy / agency element of solo poly as being integral to the definition and the other elements as being either expressions of that element or supportive of that element but not necessarily requirements of solo polyamory.

So when you're talking to solo polys or if you're wondering if you "qualify" as solo poly, keep these elements in mind. Maybe three of them really hit you personally but you couldn't give a shit about living alone, or perhaps you're disabled and need to live with caregivers. You could still be solo poly. Or perhaps you really need to maintain your own money "just in case" and you're opposed to legal marriage because screw the government getting up in your business but you still want to build deeply connected, intimate relationships. You could still be solo poly. Or maybe everything about this sounds awesome except that you want to do it in a commune with two dozen other people who all live in their own huts but on the same property walking distance from each other or in the same apartment complex and you socialize with everyone all the time in the common spaces like the kitchen because you're extroverted. You could still be solo poly.

If you're legally married, live with only one partner, share finances, and co-parent, I think there is still room for you under the label if you hold the other values, but I do think you will be challenged more often because I think it's more difficult to see one's internal values of autonomy and agency when one's life is structured to more closely resemble a system of dependence. If you only date together, have veto power or approval power, access to each other's emails and phone or text conversations (especially if no one outside of your dyad has the same access to these things of yours), have a hierarchy, or otherwise have difficulty separating out where you end and your partner begins, I think I would question your commitment to values of autonomy, independence, privacy, etc.

In my opinion, as long as you value yourself, your partners, *and your metamours* as independent agents and you arrange your relationships to support  and encourage that, the rest of it all is more like flavor, or color, shading your own version of solo polyamory to reflect your uniqueness and individuality. Others may disagree, but as one of the earliest pioneers of this style of polyamory regardless of what it's called, this is what I was fighting for from the beginning. Treat people like independent, individual human beings who are more important than the relationship, discourage couple privilege, and separate out the culturally appointed markers of "romantic relationships" from the emotional connection or value that each relationship has for the participants.




This is a work in progress, which is why it's so long. I hope to refine it to a more digestible description in the future.

*Morning Glory Zell is responsible for coining the phrase "polyamory", being the first person to use the phrase "poly-amorous" in print and all other publicly available derivations of the term came later. She died in 2014 but was alive and available to clarify her intent with coining the phrase for the time period in which the definition was being debated and determined. Her intentions were often ignored when people wanted to use the term differently or dismissed under the excuse that another person was the "real" coiner of the phrase even though it was used 2 years later, simply because that other person had the first internet reach. "Who said it first" is an argument for another time.

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