joreth: (being wise)
Y'know one of the reasons why I like the Deadpool movie? Because most of the time, I can't figure out why the female love interest is interested in the male lead.

Her character isn't usually a character, it's a placeholder. She's just this generic sort of "woman shape", with generic sort of "woman attributes" that male writers think all women have - pleasant, loving, nurturing, capable yet needy, wants to save her man, shows him the light, keeps him on the right path, likes flowers and sparkly jewelry (but not too much), and is sensual without being dirty. And maybe a little clumsy, because, y'know, that's relatable.

The male leads are diverse and flawed and colorful. Exactly the sort of men that a boring, vanilla, "blank" woman would not be interested in.

But Vanessa has the same sense of humor as Wade (Deadpool), which, let's be honest, is a little over the top, if I'm being generous. Outside of a comic book movie, he's fucking annoying. Nobody who doesn't share his sense of humor is going to spend years with him smiling tolerantly while he goes through life totally incapable of having a serious conversation. But she's his match.

I like Deadpool because I *get* why the romantic couple is together. She's not a carbon copy of Wade. She compliments him. She has strengths where he does not. But she also isn't his Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She's just as fucked up as he is. As the character says right in the film "your crazy matches my crazy".

I like Deadpool because it's probably the healthiest, most compatible relationship I've ever seen on screen. It's at least up there in the top 10.
joreth: (being wise)
Everyone: please learn that you are lovable *to someone* and worthy of love and that anyone who thinks you are "too" something or "not enough" whatever IS NOT THE RIGHT PERSON FOR YOU.

If people don't like something important about you, you are not going to "scare off" potential partners, you are dodging bullets.

Gaslighters and manipulators will take advantage of the cultural trope (overwhelmingly applied to women) that you have no value without a romantic partner and you must change yourself to find a partner, to keep a partner, and to make your partner happy. This is bullshit. This is how they deflect and get you to accept toxic behaviour, abuse, and general shittiness.

Not everyone HAS to like you. Not everyone WILL like you. That's OK. Don't let that fact become a weapon to manipulate you.

Not only is it OK if people don't like you for a thing, it's what you want. It's how you tell who is compatible with you and who will love you for who you are, your core self. It's a valuable screening tool. Use it to your advantage, don't let it get used against you.



Brought to you by the boring response of men telling me that I'm "too intense" or "too aggressive" to "attract a man". The appropriate response to that is not to tone myself down. It's this:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

[deep breath]

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dude. No, srsly, dude. Anyone who is intimidated by me or thinks I'm too much is not man enough to be worthy of being my partner.

I eat the weak.
joreth: (feminism)
#ImaginaryConversationsIHave

Watching Age of Ultron & the trumped up love story between Banner and Black Widow, where the super assassin who has never known a "normal" day in her fucking life is putting the moves on the dude who turns into a giant green monster every time he gets pissed off.

So Banner, once he finally figures out that Natasha is actually propositioning him and not just "flirting", rejects her advances, not because he's not interested, but because he can't offer her a "normal" life on a farm with kids and a day job.

So, in my head, I'm getting pissed off at the hubris of men all over again, for not allowing her to make her own damn decisions, and for assuming that a white picket fence is even an interest of hers (and at the presumably male writers who made fucking Black Widow's big secret be that she wants kids & can't have them), so this conversation pops into my head:

Banner: I can't offer you this! I can't ever have a normal life!

Romanoff: I can't have this either!

Banner: What?!

Me: Hold on a minute here.

Banner: Hey, who are you?

Me: Shut up and listen because you're mucking this all up. Bruce, look at her.

Banner: [looks at Black Widow in head-to-toe black leather]

Me: Does she look like Suzie Homemaker?

Banner: Huh?

Me: Does Natasha *look* like the house in the suburbs kinda girl?

Banner: Well...

Me: Is she a child?

Banner: No!

Me: Then stop making her fucking decisions for her! She is not under any illusions about the kind of life you lead. She's the one who tracked you down in the jungle. She's the one who talks you down from your rages. She's the one who has no super powers whatsoever and yet she can keep up with your entire fucking team!

Banner: But...

Me: No. Just stop right there. Do you like her?

Banner: I...

Me: Stop. Do you like her, yes or no?

Banner: Yes.

Me: Are you attracted to her?

Banner: Yes, but...

Me: Uh uh! Stop with all the objections. This is very simple. Stop telling her what she can't have and tell her what she *can* have. What is on the table? What can you offer her?

Banner: Huh?

Me: Excitement? Danger? Adventure? Violence? Extra emotional labor? A very good chance that one or both of you will die young in a horrible way? Some companionship on the journey? Maybe a little nookie?

Banner: Uh, yeah.

Me: Great. Natasha, how does that sound to you?

Romanoff: Sounds great to me!

Me: Excellent! Negotiations complete - you're now dating!

Banner: Wait a minute! What about when this all gets old? What happens when she changes her mind?

Me: The same thing that happens when you change your mind - you renegotiate when the time comes. Muggles! I swear!

Banner / Romanoff: Muggles?!

Me: Muggles - monogamous people. Y'all make this whole romance stuff way more complicated than it needs to be. Just say what you want, ask if they want that too, hear what it is that they want, and if you can find a compromise, then go with it, otherwise, don't.

It REALLY does not need to be this much trouble.

Me: [wanders off, muttering to myself about monogamous paradigms]

Banner: [stares after me leaving with a glazed look on his face - half confused, half "who the hell was that?"]

Romanoff: Well, you heard her - we're dating now. So quit your bitching and get over here and kiss me!

#HollywoodIAmAvailableForWritingConsultations #JustFuckingTalkToEachOther #ItIsNotThatComplicated #WhatDoYouWant?
joreth: (polyamory)
Hey, look, 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 busy-ness 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.
joreth: (polyamory)
So, if you really want to limit or avoid couple privilege in your relationships, you can't have a "primary". By definition, singling out one person above all others (whether we're talking the legitimate definition of hierarchy as a power structure, or we're talking the bastardization of the term with just default priority) is couple privilege.

If you really want to subvert couple privilege, you have to give up certain privileges. Like the ability to default to anyone or have them default to you.  Picking just one person to be the top priority and/or have power over you / your other partners is, *by definition* couple privilege.

Either let it go, or just man* up and admit that you like your position of privilege even when it disempowers others and you have no intention of inconveniencing yourself for the sake of others. At least then people would know going into a relationship with you that they will always be second class citizens to you and that their hearts are not safe with you.

Children do not change my point. Plenty of people co-parent who are not in romantic relationships with each other and who are not "primaries". Divorced parents co-parent just fine, and the children get the priority they need because they are *dependent beings*.

This does not justify *disempowering* the people we are in relationships with, nor does it justify default-prioritizing one adult among all the adults. Particularly if the *stated assumption* is that the person I'm addressing explicitly says they do not want "couple privilege" in their relationships.

This is an if-then statement. If the given is "I do not want couple privilege", then one cannot have a primary. They are mutually exclusive terms.



* I thought about not using the term "man up", but then I figured straight white cis men are pretty much the top of the privilege food chain, so holding onto one's position of privilege at the expense of disempowering others is very much a "man" thing to do, although admitting it may not be. But then again, the contempt for others being naked and blatant is becoming more and more regular in certain straight white cis men these days too.

** Also, I am extremely rage-triggery on people confusing "power" with "priority" and mixing up criticisms of hierarchy and couple privilege with a Motte & Bailey tactic of "priority".

I have no patience for it at all. Read http://blog.franklinveaux.com/2013/03/guest-post-polyamory-and-hierarchy/ and www.morethantwo.com/blog/2016/06/can-polyamorous-hierarchies-ethical-part-2-influence-control for what I mean when I talk about hierarchy and know that I will not waste any time in my threads going 'round in circles on the definition.

These are the definitions that will be used in my threads or I will simply start deleting and blocking because I'm tired of not having made any progress on the discussion of power and hierarchy in the poly community in more than 2 decades.

See also www.morethantwo.com/coupleprivilege.html
 
joreth: (polyamory)
Q. If you could reconnect with any of your exes, who would it be and why?

A. Almost without exception, my exes are exes for a reason. Some of them became friends after we broke up, but I wouldn’t get back together with them. With very few exceptions.

I have an ex who I broke up with because of political pressures. We remain friends and I still care about him. The pressures on our relationship have not changed. But I did recently consider having sex with him when an opportunity came up that was uniquely suited for a fetish we have in common. We will probably never get back together, but I might possibly consider the occasional hookup if the circumstances are exactly right.

I have another ex who I broke up with because we wanted different things from our relationship together. It has now been more than a decade and we are still friends and business partners. Every so often I consider possibly getting back together with him and then I realize that neither of us has changed what we want out of a relationship, so it wouldn’t work.

However, I have a much wider range of acceptable structures in my Friends With Benefits category. The things that we want out of a relationship are irrelevant if we’re not in a romantic relationship but we are friends. It may be possible to find a FWB type of arrangement that would work. I have not yet decided if I really want to pursue this or not, so I don’t even know if he would be interested either. But it’s something I’m thinking about. I’m on the fence and leaning towards “not likely, but not impossible either”. Our platonic chemistry was always stronger than our romantic or sexual chemistry, so I don’t know, we’ll see.

The only ex I would definitely get back together with if I could would be my high school sweetheart. We broke up because we went off to college and neither of us wanted to be tied to each other over the distance and with new experiences and opportunities to explore. A few years after that breakup, I discovered that I was polyamorous, while he remains steadfastly monogamous.

That difference is not a problem between platonic friends. Since he is still the same considerate, caring, intelligent, clever, funny, creative, and passionate person he always was, and since the years have taught him to be more worldly and aware than either of us were as teenagers, I continue to love him all this time.

But it is a love that can endure whether we remain platonic friends or not, through time and physical distance. It is a love based on character and compatibility and respect and admiration, which does not require any sort of romance or sex. So, as long as he is monogamous, our friendship will remain platonic, because he is honorable towards his commitments and I respect his loyalty and honor among everything else that I respect about him.

But he is one of the greatest loves of my life and I would pursue a romantic relationship with him if we were romantically compatible. Since we are not, I cherish the platonic relationship with him that I do have, not as a consolation prize, but because it is valuable all on its own.
joreth: (being wise)
Someone exhibited confusion regarding the differences between Gift Giving (in the 5 Love Languages theory) and Acts of Service. They see their Acts as Gifts, so they don't know why there needs to be 2 categories.

Here is my distinction between the two:
A gift is a tangible reminder that someone is thinking of another person even when they are not physically present. It's a symbolic manifestation that someone really sees another person right down to their core. A gift represents what the gift giver perceives about the recipient.  A gift says "I see you, I see who you are as a person, and the thought of you is present with me even when you're not around, and here is a physical symbol of your presence in my life and how I see you so that you will know every time you see this that you are seen and considered and loved."

Acts of Service are physical or emotional acts of labor that are intended to ease another person's trouble, their responsibilities, their obligations. They are an action that says "I see you and I wish to share your burdens to make more time and opportunity for you to experience joy and to have a partner on this portion of your journey".
Some people exhibited surprise that the 5LL theory could be confusing, and I had some examples of how messy it can be when "theory" meets "reality":

A surprising number of people have a very hard time figuring out their own LL, or their partners' LL, or what category a particular thing fits under.

I mean, even Franklin has trouble with the 5LL theory - he keeps insisting that all these other, specific things are their own Language, rather than dialects that fall under one of the 5 umbrellas because he doesn't seem to see their connection.

For instance, he insists that "co-creating" is its own LL, whereas I think it's a dialect of Quality Time, because the point of QT is to build shared experiences together. That could result in a number of different outcomes - building a shared history, building shared memories, building shared in-jokes and language, or literally building *things* like co-writing books or co-hosting podcasts.

People also don't realize that "co-gaming" falls under Quality Time, if they think that QT means you have to be staring soulfully into each other's eyes for a couple of hours at a romantic restaurant or something. But 2 (or more) people sitting in the same room, basically ignoring each other and doing their own thing can be a form of QT for introverts, people on the autism spectrum, and others who value the idea of allowing someone into their "off-stage" space, when they don't have to "perform" or "entertain" anyone and can be their shoes-off self.

Sometimes Acts of Service and Gifts can overlap, such as when I bake and then give away my baked goods. So the basic concepts can be easy to grasp, but when you start to really dig into the subject, things get a little messier, as most human endeavors that we try to box up neatly tend to do.
joreth: (Default)
Someone once asked me what behaviour in myself have I altered because of my experience with cis men. I think it might be illuminating for some men to hear about the kinds of things that at least one woman has changed about herself because this change was easier to make than to deal with men unaltered.  Let me repeat that:  it was easier to actually change myself than to deal with the shit men do when I am me.

And I feel that I have cultivated a space and enough armor that I can share these things publicly to make this lesson.

Other people who are not cis-men can contribute their own stories of alteration if you want to, but I'm not asking anyone to share this vulnerability in public. Because that's what this is - many of these alterations are protective behaviours and rely on the typical willful ignorance and deafness that men have towards women's emotional labor.

What I don't want is for cis men to tell me their own stories of altering themselves for women.  Everyone makes changes to accommodate the other people in their life, sometimes willingly, sometimes coerced.  This is a personal illustration of a gendered trend, and I don't want to get sidetracked with Not All Men or But Men Too.  I also don't want cis men to express more surprise at the efforts I or other women go to. At this point, nobody on my friends list should be surprised by these kinds of things - not knowing specifically what any given woman does, sure, but that we do it? Not any more.

So if you are surprised, I don't really want to hear yet again how blind men are to all the work that women do to manage men's emotional reactions.  That is part of the problem.

I also don't need to hear criticisms or anyone suggesting that the alterations were not necessary, that I was overreacting, or that I shouldn't have to do this with all men. Because you have no idea what the consequences for not altering are and also because fuck off.



I have to always cut the loaf of bread served at restaurants before dinner, and I have to do it discreetly.

I do this because I've dated too many guys who just mash the entire loaf by grasping it too tightly and using too much weight on the knife, and they grab the loaf first, ruining it for everyone else.

I do it myself because I've learned that suggesting a different way of cutting bread (as a person who used really soft bread loaves in my demonstrations as a cutlery salesperson) hurts their feelings and they respond angrily to the implication that they are not master bread slicers nor master knife wielders (whereas, I actually am).

So I just grab the bread first as if I'm really hungry (and my love of bread is usually well known), slice it about halfway, and take 2 of the slices for myself, leaving the rest of the slices for anyone else at the table who wants them. Somehow, they don't seem to notice that as a commentary on their slicing abilities.



I have learned to not ask to drive the car when I share a vehicle with a man who has access to his car. Doesn't matter if we're dating or not. I LOVE driving. I take great pride in my driving. I suffer anxiety on the scale of mild to panic attack when I'm not the driver.

And yet I do not request to drive, because I've learned that it's not worth the fight that comes from asking *the wrong man* to allow me to drive.

I've also learned how to have a panic attack silently and to hide the fact that I can't always look out of the window when I'm in the passenger seat.  Because then I have to do emotional labor, placating them that it's not because they're bad drivers, but because I'm "broken" in this way.



I never leave the house unarmed. I have had to pull a knife on 3 separate occasions in my life to warn off aggressive men - only one of whom was amorous.



I have learned how to go out alone even though I'm terribly shy because I've had so few romantic partners who are willing to do the things that I enjoy doing. If I want to go out in public with a romantic partner, it has to be for things that he enjoys, not for things that I enjoy. So if I want to do things that I enjoy, I have learned how to do them alone.

And I have learned how to deal with the feelings of loneliness that always accompany these outings without showing them "too much" to my partners because then I have to do more emotional labor in comforting them about how "hard" it is for them to do the things that I like.  For some reason, it's always a challenge, it's always difficult, it's always a sacrifice for them to do the things that I like, so my complaints about feeling lonely, feeling neglected, and feeling dismissed turn into soothing them about how much pain and hardship they're under when they accommodate me.

Sometimes they will insist that I do their things and not understand if I don't like them or not see how their feelings of rejection aren't comparable to mine when they don't like my things.  Sometimes they will be fine with me not accompanying them to their events, and then use their acceptance of me not attending their events as leverage in the arguments of why I shouldn't feel hurt when they don't attend my events.  And occasionally they actually don't have any interests outside of the home or us or the relationship, so if we don't go do my things, we just stay home and do nothing.

Even if I can drag them to an event that I like, they will inevitably take out their phones and ignore the thing that is the reason I want to be there and the thing I am trying to share with them, so sometimes I'd rather they not be there anyway.



I have developed a rather annoying habit of cutting people off and speaking over them because I've found that it's the only way I ever get to say anything when men are talking.



I tend to treat the men in my life like helpless blind people, becoming hyper aware of the space that they take up, and very gently, physically guiding them or maneuvering myself in such a way as to manipulate their own movements, to prevent them from having the sorts of accidents that so many men have - walking into people who will not get out of their way, walking in front of people because they don't notice other people are there, blocking aisles and walkways, stepping on toes, hitting people with overly large gestures, etc.

I stand between them and other people so that their large gestures can't reach the other people.  I hold their hand when we walk so that I can tug on it and hold them back from barreling into the street in front of cars just assuming that the cars will stop for them.  I take shopping carts from them so that they won't park them in the middle of the aisles.  I lean towards them when we walk so that they will be forced to veer to the side when other people are sharing the space and they would otherwise insist on maintaining their trajectory, forcing everyone else to go around them or bumping into people as if they didn't even see those people blocking their path.



I started holding my romantic partners' hands (back when I still did not like displays of affection - more on that below) just to keep them from sprinting ahead of me when we walk together. No matter what speed I walk, men keep walking ahead of me, and then complain that I'm always trailing behind.

So I hold their hand and tug on it when they go too fast.

Now that I have a knee injury to blame, I can get men to stop and wait for me when they get a significant distance ahead, and most will no longer complain about my slower speed, but the only way I can get many men to *pace* me is to hold their hand and then literally hold them back.

(Meanwhile, I have never walked with another woman or non-binary person who didn't automatically adjust their pace so that we walked together unless there was a significant reason, like a power imbalance, or someone was racing ahead to catch something for the slower people in the group, like a door or a vehicle that was about to depart.  Dancers, however, I'm discovering, are much better at keeping pace with their companions, regardless of gender, which shouldn't be surprising given the spatial awareness and the automatic body-matching that dancers do.)



I thought I disliked physical affection entirely because I did not realize at the time that all physical affection I'd had up until that point was entangled with displays of possession. I didn't know why I didn't like physical affection, just that I didn't. So I refused all physical affection except for sex in private.

It took until my mid 20s to figure out that I did actually like physical affection, and to deliberately use a relationship (with his agreement) to work on this. And, not only did I actually like physical affection, but it's one of my Love Languages, and because I had been denying it to myself for so many years, I was touch-starved, even with an active sex life.

To this day, I still have issues with instigating physical affection and from disentangling it from sex, so I am still touch-starved.



I stopped living with other people. Even though I don't make enough money to afford to live in a "safe" neighborhood, or in a building that isn't literally falling down around my ears, I choose terrible places to live because that's what I can afford on my single person's income.

I stopped living with other people because I can't handle being the Household Manager. Project Management is a full time, upper level position. I don't have the energy to do it as a second (or third) job, to do it without pay, or to do it in relationships that are not supposed to be business relationships.

And I have never had a romantic relationship with a man that didn't put me in this role by default. So I minimize it by making my living and sleeping space my own and not subject to Managing other people. I have other reasons for wanting to live alone as well, but I have tried cohabiting in the past in spite of those preferences, and it's the Household Management problem that made me alter my behaviour and stop living with partners.



I have started asking questions that I already know the answer to because I see men around me doing the wrong thing, they won't ask what the right thing is, and they ignore me when I tell them what the right thing is or they get upset with me for correcting them, and then I have to go behind them and fix it.

So when a supervisor comes along, I ask "wait, what am I supposed to do here?" or "how is this done?" or whatever, where the man in question can hear so that the boss can tell me within their earshot the "correct" way to do something, that I already know.

And I HATE that it makes me look like I know less than I do. I'm wicked smart, and I pick up on things quickly. But I have to look like I'm still a beginner at shit because men won't listen to me, so they waste my time and theirs and we all end up doing double the work.
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: (feminism)
Some day, I hope to cease being surprised at how many people are REALLY offended at the idea that a person might be able to end a relationship with someone *just because they want to* and not because the other person is a horribly abusive person.  I mean, if we can just end relationships for *any reason* or no reason at all, what's to keep our own partners with us? What's to stop everyone from breaking up with us just because?!?!

Uh, well, maybe how you treat them, for one thing. This might actually require you to keep putting in effort into your relationships because there's no point at which you've "won" and you're done.

But for another thing, nothing. There is nothing to keep our partners with us or to stop them from breaking up with us. Nothing at all. Because if there was something preventing people from breaking up with us, THAT WOULD BE COERCION.

Which is a consent violation.

And abusive.

If your partners are not with you because they actively want to be with you every single day, then you're duin it rong. Your partners can leave you. Your partners can die. There is nothing in the universe guaranteeing your relationships.

Now accept that and appreciate every day that you *do* have with your partners for the gift that it is, not the prize that you are owed for having completed the appropriate levels and making it to the castle.
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: (anger)
Some People: I would never date someone with this trait that they can't help but that can be acquired at any time. I would dump someone if they got it.

Me: I hope everyone who says that gets that trait and their partners dump them for it.

SP: OMG that's so mean! How could you say that?! You're an awful person to wish that on anyone!

Me: O.o

Me: ...

Me: So, let me get this straight, you think being dumped over this issue is cruel and painful and you don't want it to happen to you?

SP: Yes!

Me: ...

SP: ...

Me: So... you gonna rethink your position then on dumping someone else over it?

SP: No way! I couldn't handle it if I had a partner like that!

Me: Either it's totes cool to do, and therefore I didn't say anything mean at all, or it IS cruel, in which case you shouldn't be so cavalier about wanting to do it to other people and the punishment fits the crime here.

SP: ...

SP: No it's totally unfair for someone to dump me over something I would dump them for and you're a big meaniehead for hoping that will happen to me!

Me: 0.o

Me: Yes, I am a big meaniehead for wanting people to feel consequences for harming others and for those consequences to be knowing what it feels like to be the person being harmed. That's exactly what I am.

#MySuperAntiHeroNameWouldBeRetribution #hypocrisy #NoSenseOfIrony #ButIHonestlyWouldDumpSomeoneForAcquiringLibertarianism #AndIfItWasThatImportantToThemAndIAcquiredItThenIHopeTheyWouldDumpMeTooBecauseWeWouldNoLongerBeCompatible #ForAsLongAsTheLoveShallLast #AsLongAsWeStillFindHappinessTogetherAndNoLonger
joreth: (polyamory)
People seem to think that triads are the starter pack to polyamory, when really they're the advanced level. You're trying to jump to the big boss level when you haven't really learned the mechanics of the game yet.

No, seriously, almost everyone who hasn't had a poly relationship yet, and especially those who are "thinking about it" or "trying it out" all opt for the triad model, somehow thinking that because everyone is in a relationship with everyone else, that'll diffuse jealousy. It doesn't. Not only does it *not* work that way, often jealousy gets amplified because it's like this little insulated cyclone where all the emotions just keep whirling around and around among the 3 people with no outlet, no pressure release, and no skills in handling it.

This was my introductory video to a vlogger named Evita, and she covers this pretty well:


In this video, Evita points out that, if you're going to feel jealousy related to your partner having another relationship with someone else, in a triad, that feeling is doubled because TWO of your partners are both having relationships with other people (each other):
"If you've never ever found yourself in a position where you've seen your partner be romantically involved with someone, see your partner be in love with someone, and seen what you're like with your partner being romantically involved with / in love with someone because you have no idea what that looks like for you ... going from never having experienced that to now putting yourself in a dynamic where it's happening *all the time*, right in front of your face, is naive at best and disillusional at worst.

Y'know, thinking that you're just gonna transition into this, going from never seeing it at all to seeing it all the time and you're just gonna be OK with it is super super naive. And most couples go 'oh, we're gonna feel *less* jealousy because we're with the same person' and it's usually the other way around.

Which brings me to my next point. It's usually double the jealousy, not less jealousy. ... Because if you think about it, both of your partners are interacting with someone else and the someone else that they're interacting with is each other. ...
The relationships will not look and feel the same and that is challenging for couples. There's usually what happens is the person coming in gets along much better with one than the other, the relationships do not look the same ... Your relationships are going to look different with the other person but these couples are approaching this going 'we're going to have the same experience' and you're totally totally not."
If you're going to feel jealousy, and remember, jealousy is a composite emotion made up of other emotions like fear of losing something you cherish, insecurity in your own worthiness, being left out - a bunch of really complicated stuff - if you're going to feel jealousy when your partner is with someone else, what do you think will happen with you have *two* partners are are both with someone else (each other)? As Evita points out, when her husband is off with another partner and she feels jealous, it's just regular old jealousy because she isn't emotionally connected or attached to that other person.

But if two of her partners are both off interacting with someone else (each other) at the same time, that's TWO partners she's feeling jealous over. And she might even be feeling different types of jealousy for each one, where her jealousy has different roots for each person. So now it's extra complicated, because regular jealousy wasn't challenging enough?

She later goes on to talk about isolationism as a separate bullet point. Newbies seem to think of triads as a single group relationship, when it's actually 4 relationships that all need to be cared for. There's the 3-person dynamic that is the triad, and then each couple within that triad is its own separate relationship and all of those relationships have to be nurtured and cared for.

A lot of newbies will try to ignore this by only nurturing the triad as a whole and never allowing any couple-time or dyad-nurturing to happen (or, rather, still nurturing the original couple dynamic, but not allowing either half of the original couple to nurture independent relationships with the new third person). Some think that if everything is "equal", if they do everything exactly the same with their third person and never have any differences or any alone-time with her (because it's almost always a her), they won't have to care for those two legs of the triad.

But a triad is more like a 3-legged stool. If you don't care for 2 of the 3 legs or any of the legs at all and focus only on the seat, you're gonna wind up on your ass when the individual legs fail and the whole thing collapses.

Each 2-person dynamic is going to be its own relationship. When your partner is off on their own with another partner, that can leave some people feeling lonely and bereft. So these people are usually encouraged to find themselves - to develop their own friends and hobbies and other partnerships so that they don't lose a piece of themselves when their partner is gone. That's co-dependency, when you feel lost or like you're missing a piece of yourself when your partner is not with you. It's OK to miss someone, but to feel as though you, yourself, are broken, partial, or you're unable to think of what to do with yourself without your partner, that's co-dependency. People in healthy relationships have other interests and other people and other intimate relationships in their lives besides their partner (yes, even healthy monogamous relationships).

So when your partner is off on their own with someone else, and that someone else *is your other partner*, that tends to double the feelings of isolationism because the other important person in your life who you would otherwise turn to while your partner is occupied *is the person your partner is occupied with*.

They don't even have to physically go somewhere and leave you alone. Just the connection that they share between each other can make someone feel left out. One of the most horrible feelings in polyamory is when you're right there, in the same room, watching your loved one share a connection with your other loved one, and feeling that you are not part of that connection, that they are sharing it with each other and not you, and it's right there in your face, reminding you that you aren't connected in that moment.

It's very isolating.

You have to level up to a certain point to gain the skills in relationships to handle this situation, and then you have to do the extra special side quests to gain the fancy armor that makes this situation not problematic and hurtful and needing to be "handled" in the first place.

Jealousy gets doubled when you have two partners to feel jealous about, but feelings of isolation also get doubled when you have two partners interacting with each other to feel isolated from. If you think you can just jump right to that level without learning how to handle your jealousy and fears and communication about that stuff first, you're gonna get slammed when the Big Boss Jealousy walks into the room. Because "if we're just always together and then jealousy won't happen" is not how you learn the skills to handle your jealousy. You have to actually face it, not just attempt to prevent it from ever happening.

Getting tag-teamed with the giant Two-Headed Jealousy Monster and Twin Isolationist Bosses at the same time is the hardest way to learn that. Passing the minor jealousy bosses in stages, where you learn their tactics and weaknesses in smaller, more manageable doses and defeating each one gives you a better weapon and better armor for the next more challenging boss, is how you eventually learn how to pass the giant Two-Headed Jealousy at the end of the game.

Triad relationships take some extra level communication skills, introspection skills, accountability skills, self-sufficiency skills, time management skills, and Relationship Management skills. Maintaining two independent relationships is actually easier on all fronts and, counter-intuitively, how you gain all those skills in the first place.

Newbies talk about wanting "training wheels". This is how they justify treating people as things. "But how are we supposed to learn how to trust people if we don't chain them in and prevent them from doing what we're afraid of?" "But how can we learn how to deal with jealousy without strictly designing our relationships and rigidly policing each other's behaviour so that nobody does anything that will trigger the jealousy?" I say all the time that "training wheels" are a horrible idea when the activity you're trying to learn is how to swim.

You don't jump in the deep end of the poly pool with training wheels. That will just weigh you down. You need water wings that will lift you up and support you while you tread water. Dating separately and learning how to disentangle yourselves and become whole, independent people again are those water wings. This is where you learn the fundamentals of swimming so that when you take the water wings off, you have the muscle memory to help you in the deep water. "Training wheels", in this context, teaches you the wrong lessons, so that you have to unlearn everything you learned with the training wheels *at the same time* you're struggling to learn how to swim. Water wings teaches you exactly those skills you'll be using in the water, just with less at stake. These are the beginning levels where you gain all those extra skill points and extra life-hearts and the fancy armor that protects you against the more powerful villains in the more difficult levels.

Start out dating individually first. A triad will work itself out when y'all are ready for it, not when you set out to make it happen.



"Ooh, that prize looks cool! I want one of those!"

"OK, but you have to defeat the final demon to win the game for that prize."

"Great, where is he, bring him on!"

"Uh, you can't just get to him, you have to go through all of these other levels first, collecting skills and tools that you will need to defeat the big boss demon."

"But I want the prize!!"

"Fine, but you have to defeat the demon first ..."

"Then show me the demon!"

"... and you can't get there until you've mastered the beginning levels first."

"OMG YOU'RE SO MEAN WHY YOU GOTTA GATEKEEP LIKE THAT YOU'RE SCARING AWAY ALL THE NEWBIES WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST PRIZES I'M GONNA GO PLAY THE GAME MY WAY OVER HERE STOP TELLING ME HOW TO PLAY THERE'S NO ONE RIGHT WAY!"

also "hey, other newbies, who else wants the prize at the end and can't get to it? Let's start a group for gamers who just want the prize, where other gamers can't tell us we're wrong!"

- Every #UnicornHunter ever.
joreth: (polyamory)
People who proudly proclaim that their partner (almost always singular even when they're poly) has complete access to their phones, including their messages, because they have "nothing to hide" freak me right the fuck out.

They basically tell me that I can never divulge a confidence to them unless I develop the exact same amount and type of intimacy with their partner because nothing I say will be held in confidence.  They tell me that they are not actually whole and complete individual people, because I have to *treat* them as a singular unit with their partner, since anything I share with them will also be shared with someone else.

Whether they *feel* complete is irrelevant from my perspective because I can't *treat* them as complete, I have to treat them as an extension of another person, so anything I share with one must be something I'm willing to share with the other.

I kinda have to treat them like a ship's avatar, if anyone is familiar with The Culture book series by Iain M. Banks - a physically separate being, usually humanoid in shape, that can run autonomously when desired, but is inextricably linked to the mother ship and will merge and become one being (if you define "being" by the collective knowledge and experiences that make one up) at some point.

So nothing the avatar knows or experiences will be kept from the ship. When you interact with the avatar, you are, for all intents and purposes, interacting with the ship itself even when the avatar is, at the moment, cut off from contact with the ship, either by design or circumstance.  If I don't develop the relationship with the ship where I want to share something in confidence with it, then I can't develop that kind of relationship with the avatar either. And I can't develop intimate relationships with one "half" of a "couple".

My partners have *technical* access to my devices, meaning that it's physically and technologically *possible* for them to access the contents. It's not locked up so tight that only a master hacker could break into it.  They have this ability for safety - if something happens to me, certain individuals who I trust need to be able to take care of the business of death or incapacitation. But that's not the situation I'm talking about.

My partners don't have *permission* to access these things any time they want to. And I only date people who do not *want* that kind of access because they, too, value the intimacy that privacy protects.

The "but for safety" people, I'm not talking about you. However, the "it's just easier to have my husband read my text messages for me when my phone is ringing in the other room and I don't want to / can't get up to get it" people? You're straddling the line.

It's not about "hiding" anything. It's about being vulnerable and raw and choosing when, where, how, and with whom to be vulnerable and raw.

I have a fucking scan of my brain while having an orgasm posted on the fucking internet. I have nothing to "hide". But who can I expose my sensitive nerve endings to? Everyone knows that I *have* nerve endings, and a lot of people know what those nerve endings are connected to, but who can I *expose* those nerve endings to?

Who can I give access to my soul to? Not the person who will hold that access door open for someone else.
joreth: (polyamory)
http://qr.ae/TUNDQL

Thanks to some experiences with people who use "agreements" as weapons and who also hide their abusive behaviour behind social justice language, I have become extremely averse to words like "agreements" and the casual use of the term "rules".

I was always pretty anti-rule, but a lot of things are treated as rules while being called other things. And I've discovered that the words we use are important because they subtly and subconsciously influence how we think and view our partners and other people, especially when we use agency-denying language in jest or casually.

So I have written an answer to the common question "what are your relationship agreements" that I'd like to archive on my blog to share every time the question comes up:

I don’t have very many “agreements”. I learned the hard way a long time ago that some people use the word “agreement” as a blunt object with which to beat partners over the head. I don’t do “rules”, which are things that are imposed on other people that dictate their behaviour (and sometimes their emotions and choices). I do “boundaries” which are lines that I draw around myself where I don’t want other people to cross.

Some people treat “agreements” like “rules”. You can usually tell that someone is treating an agreement like a rule when you discover what happens when someone “breaks” the “agreement” or wants to change it. If there are punishments, if breaking or changing the agreement is seen as a “betrayal”, then it’s probably a rule in disguise.

What I do is, I have certain things that I *prefer* to do with my own body, and I tell my partners what those things are so that they know what to expect of me. If I change my behaviour for any reason, then I notify my partners as soon as possible that I’ve done or am planning to do something different, so that they can make informed decisions about their own body (mind, emotions, time, etc.) based on my choices.

The things that I prefer to do is to get tested once a year for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, & chlamydia (what I refer to as The Big Four) and also HSV +1&2. If I have not had any new partners in the last 6 months, and my ongoing, regular partners have not had any new partners, then I might skip a testing period. But if I am considering taking a new partner then I will get tested right before so that my tests are the most current possible. Then I also prefer to get tested about 2 weeks after I take on a new sexual partner.

I prefer to see the actual tests results on paper for my partners before we have genital contact or fluid transfer for the first time, and 2 weeks after any ongoing partners take on a new sexual partner. I also prefer to keep an open dialog with all potential partners and ongoing partners about our sexual history, our current STD test results, our interests in potential new partners, etc.

I tend to use condoms only for birth control, and I tend to prefer having sex with men who have had vasectomies so that I don’t have to use condoms for birth control. I don’t consider condoms alone to be sufficient protection in the absence of discussing sexual history, STI testing, and sexual patterns so I don’t generally have even barriered sex with people I’m not comfortable having unbarriered sex with.

I prefer to choose sexual partners who have similar STI risk profiles as me - people who prefer to get tested regularly, only have sex with partners who get tested regularly, who openly and frequently discuss sexual risk and history and behaviour, who tend to have a relatively stable number of partners, who have had vasectomies, and who have paper test results that they are willing to share with me.

We do not make “agreements” to do these things, these are just things that I tend to do and I prefer to date people who also tend to do these things. Should either of us make choices that differ from anything we discussed that our partners can expect from us, then we talk to each other about the different choices we have made (or want to make), and we each evaluate the new situation and make our respective choices based on the new information.

I have found this to be the most statistically likely to prevent me from unwanted consequences for sex and to also be the most respectful of everyone’s agency. This allows everyone to be in charge of themselves, to have complete autonomy over their body, mind, emotions, and choices, and to still respect the risk we might place on our partners through our decisions.



**Added**  I  received a comment on my Facebook post of this article and I like my response to it that I'm adding it here.  The comment was about a person who responds negatively to agreements being broken, not because they're "rules" but because they believe their partners should find them safe enough to come to them and renegotiate any agreements that aren't working instead of just breaking them, because their own personal integrity requires them to keep any agreements they make and so only make agreements that they can keep, and because many times people will break an agreement and then dismiss this person's upset feelings as if they are not responsible for breaking their trust.

Here is my response:

And that's exactly why I don't make agreements. I basically treat them as promises, and I don't make promises that I can't keep. For most things, since I can't tell the future, I can't guarantee that I can keep an agreement or a promise. And, yeah, when trust is broken, it's understandable that someone would be upset and want that broken trust to be acknowledged.

For most reasonable people, things like "we both agree to pay half the rent" and then a few months in, having a conversation that goes "honey, I don't think I can make my share anymore, can we change this agreement?" are conversations that are had and people don't generally flip out about one person "betraying" them if they can't make their share anymore.

Those are expectations and agreements about how two people are going to treat *each other*. You will pay for half our our shared expenses, and I will pay for half our our shared expenses, and that is how we will help each other survive.

But most of the abuse that I see comes from "agreements" between two people about what one person will do *with their own body, mind, emotions, and time*. When someone makes an "agreement" about what they will do with their own body, time, mind, and emotions, and then they change their mind about that, whether it's something talked about before or after the fact, the other person they made that agreement with takes that as a personal betrayal, even though it was the first person's sole property, so to speak, to do with what they will, "agreement" notwithstanding.

The casual way that people mix these two types of "agreements" up under the same label of "agreements" is the danger, and, in my experience, most people are not savvy enough to separate these two things out when discussing their relationship arrangements.

I make "agreements" all the time, where I "agree" to come pick someone up from work because their car is non-operable and they need a ride somewhere, or where I "agree" to call them before I show up at their house to give them some notice, or where I "agree" with them on where to go for dinner so that we find a place that we both want to go.

These are not generally the sorts of "agreements" that get people into trouble. I mean, they *can* ... lots of people do things like agree to pick someone up and then totally flake out on them and leave them hanging. But when it comes to  people asking "what kinds of agreements do you make in your relationships", this is not generally what they're asking about.

Usually, they're asking about having sex with other people, falling in love with other people, spending time with other people, and spending money on other people. These are things that are better handled by discussing *boundaries*, because these are things that only one person can *own* and stake a claim to (excepting money, in states with shared property marriage laws).

I will make agreements with someone on how I will treat *that person* and how I want that person to treat me. This is discussing our boundaries. I say what my boundaries are, they say what their boundaries are, and we agree to respect each other's boundaries. Then, if for some reason, one of us feels that we can not abide by that particular agreement anymore, we discuss it.

But I will not make agreements with someone on how I will treat *my body, time, mind, emotions, or money* with respect to other people. My time away from my partners is my own time and I will not make agreements with my partners on how I will spend that time away from them. My body is my own, and I will not make agreements with my partners on what I will & won't do with my own body, etc.

It is the lack of awareness of that division (or the deliberate blurring of that division) that I see causing problems (and becoming abusive, in many cases).

It's one thing to get angry because a partner had sex with me without telling me that they recently had unprotected sex with a new partner without trading test results - that is a violation of my ability to consent. That is a "betrayal".

It's quite another thing to get angry just because they had sex with someone else, even if it was unprotected and without trading test results, and even if it goes contrary to their preferences. That is not a violation of my ability to consent. That has nothing at all to do with me. That has to do with *their* body, and I am not entitled to control of their body. That is not a "betrayal" of me.

And I will not be punished anymore for things that I do with my body, my time, my mind, my emotions, and my money just because somebody else had an expectation of the things I would or ought to do with my stuff. They are not entitled to those things, even if they have reasonable expectations of what I would do with those things.

What I do with the things that are mine are not a "betrayal" of someone else. But as soon as you say the word "agreement", people take any deviation as one.

So I don't make "agreements". I state the kinds of things I am *likely* to do and try to only date people who are likely to do similar sorts of things.
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: (anger)
You know what I'm really fucking sick of? People who see all my independence and my relationship and poly experience and think that means that I don't need any care and feeding at all.

"Joreth is self-sufficient, so I can just put her on a back shelf somewhere and she'll just be there waiting for me when I have time to get back to her. "

"Joreth knows how to do introspection and stuff so I can just leave her to it while I put out everyone else's fires for them or with them. My other partners need help, but Joreth can handle all her shit by herself."

"Joreth is good at being alone so I don't need to pay attention to the fact that we haven't spoken in over a month, but my cohabiting spouse hasn't heard my voice in 20 minutes and they're getting anxious so I'll just put off talking to Joreth another day."

"Joreth spent years getting over her painful shyness so when we go places together, I can ditch her as soon as we cross the threshold because she already did the work on herself so now she doesn't need my companionship."

"Joreth and I have lots of common friends so I can ditch her when we go out together because all these people are her friends too so she isn't alone if I disappear for the remainder of the event."

"Joreth has been alone for so long, I don't really need do build up any common friends or shared activities because she's used to going out solo so she'll be fine if I never come along to her things or include her in my things - she'll still find a way to go out and socialize."

"Joreth has so much patience and understanding that I never have to worry about her emotional needs or pay attention to her Bids For Attention or manage my own issues in order to save some resources to help her with her issues because she will just serenely take everything in stride."

I do not have infinite patience. Sometimes I feel insecure and need reassurance. Sometimes I get a little selfish. Sometimes I need to do coupley things even when I don't like being part of a "couple" just because sometimes it's fucking nice to have someone else around to go to movies with or to walk into a strange environment with as mutual support or who knows me well enough to finish my sentences.

Sometimes I just want to be someone's priority. Maybe not their only priority, or even not their absolute #1 priority (that should be themselves), but A Priority. Sometimes *I* want to be the whiny troublesome partner who needs looking after instead of looking after everyone else, always doing the emotional labor in a relationship, or stepping back politely while the metamours get all the attention and energy from our mutual partner leaving none leftover for me.

Sometimes I want someone else to be the designated grown up. Being good at relationshipping doesn't mean I'm flawless at it. But even people who know me IRL and who should know that forget it.

And, of course, it's hard to talk about publicly as a community leader, because when we're not flawless, we lose credibility. So I can't turn to my community for support because they're looking to me to uphold the example, and I can't go to my partners because they're the ones I'm having the problem with and the problem is that they think they can get away with not being there for me and shouldering some of the burden.

Fuck all that. I need care and feeding and attention too.



From my comments in my FB thread:

Like, solo poly doesn't mean NO poly. I'm still a fucking partner, I still need to be treated like one, not the backup plan or that old college buddy who will be there whenever you get around to calling them. ...

I feel like a polite "hey, pay some attention to me, please!" should be sufficient and I shouldn't have to be a squeaky wheel, at least not in a romantic relationship where, presumably, the other person *wants* to exchange attention with me. It's not like I'm a passive communicator who requires people to read between the lines and magically divine my thoughts to figure out what I want.

But when other people expect to only notice when relationships are on fire before they start fixing things because that's how everyone else gets noticed, my polite "hey, pay some attention to me, please!"s get lost in the chaos of the rest of their lives.

So then I wait until I'm pissed off, and when I finally start shouting, people get surprised to find out that I'm at the end of my rope over here and when did the fire even start, let alone turn into a blaze, and oh crap, did this relationship have to blow up when everything else is on fire too?

Well, yeah, if there had been routine maintenance done, then this one wouldn't be blowing up while they were busy being distracted by other fires to put out. The check engine light has been on for a long time now. Apparently I need to start adding annoying beeping to my check engine light, to prevent people from ignoring it just because there are no knocking sounds coming from the engine just yet.

Have I mixed my disaster metaphors sufficiently yet?

The big problem is that by the time I start becoming that squeaky wheel, I'm actually pretty done and ready to start withdrawing too. So it's often too late to fix anything by then.
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)
More comments of mine that I want to turn into blog posts:

Q. I am a single mother and have more than one male partner. My religious family disapproves. Am I being a bad mother by being poly? How can I do this without messing them up or confusing them?

A. My sister is a monogamous single teen mother (well, she *was* a teen, now she's well into adulthood). Because of her circumstances, she raised her son with the help of me and our mono, hetero, Christian parents. That's 4 adults all living in the home raising one child.

For about a year or two, she moved to her babydaddy's town and lived with his parents, who were right across the street from my uncle, down the street from 2 cousins, and around the block from our grandfather, and a short drive away from 3 more aunts and uncles and a grandmother. That's 3 live-in adults, and about 10 more adults in the vicinity.

When she moved back with our parents, that was the 4 of us again, plus the new monogamous boyfriend (who eventually became her husband and father to her second child), and the kid's regular daycare provider so that she could finish her degree and get a good job. So now 6 adults helping to raise the child, plus a handful of neighbors and teachers and good friends who all played a peripheral role.

That kid grew up to be a decent student, an amazing athlete, and aspiring soldier, who loves his mother and all his other "parents". He's one of the most loving, considerate, compassionate people I've ever known. He became an assistant coach for the swim league that he grew up swimming for and he mentors young children. He also regularly stays with my parents (his grandparents) and does manual labor around the house now that my dad is getting too old to do it himself.

None of this has anything to do with polyamory.

The more loving, stable adults there are in a child's life, the better off that child is. My nephew could have become just one more statistic - a child of a teenage single mom. He could have been poor, he could have been "difficult" with his ADHD and not enough discipline, he could have gotten into trouble with too much unsupervised free time on his hands.

But instead, he had so many pairs of eyes looking in on him and so many people to support his mother emotionally and financially that she was able to finish high school, put herself through college, get a degree, and start a career while *still* being present in his life to coach his swim team when he was a kid and volunteer at his school and help him with his homework. She couldn't have done any of that without all the other loving parental figures around to help.

There was never any confusion about who the adults in his life are or how they are related to him. And he had so much love and support that he turned out to be a great young adult.

You mention being confused. This is something I have a personal beef about. My sister and I are also adopted. We were both born to teen moms who couldn't care for us and made the ultimate sacrifice to allow someone else to raise their children. Our adopted parents adopted us as babies and were the best possible choice we could have hoped for. They were always honest with us about being adopted. It was always clear that we were "born of mommy's heart, not her tummy". So I technically have 4 legitimate parents.

I have never once been "confused" as to who my parents are. I have 2 people who contributed genetic material and who loved me enough to let me go, and 2 people who dedicated their lives to seeing me healthy and happy and raised to adulthood.

Children need loving adults in their lives. They need some semblance of stability. They need security in order to develop healthy attachment styles of relating to other people. They need a reasonable amount of discipline to develop the skills necessary to survive as an adult. None of this has anything at all to do with the gender or relationship of the adults in the child's life.

This concern trolling "but what about the children?!?" for poly households just makes me so mad because I came from a wonderful home that has all the same elements of poly households but without any polyamory, and I benefited greatly from those elements, as did my sister and her children. I feel that we were given an edge over others, that we were *privileged* because of our family circumstances. And I wish more children had at least the same privileges that we did.

If you look at the actual reality of their concerns even a tiny bit, they fall apart completely. More adults who care about the children is better. Obviously they won't get "confused" any more than literally ANY child gets "confused" by their own families. More incomes is better. More resources is better. Turn it around and ask why they want to restrict access for children from more love and more resources?

If you want even more ammunition, pick up the book The Polyamorists Next Door by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff. It's about her longitudinal study on poly families with children - the longest running study on poly families ever. Her conclusions are basically the same as families with gay parents - if the parents are loving and attentive, then the kids turn out just fine and everything else the parents do is irrelevant.

Kids don't care who is sleeping with whom and usually don't even notice. Kids care how that adult is related *to the kid*. Is the adult there to buy them things? Is the adult there to play with them? Is the adult there to help them with homework? Is the adult there to drive them to their friends' houses? Is the adult there to keep them from messing up? It's all about "me", as far as kids are concerned. They don't know and don't care about their parents' genitals or what they do with them in private.

They care if they have a safe place to sleep at night, enough food to eat, and fun things to do (and they also care if their *parents* are happy, because that reflects on their own ability to find stability and happiness at home, so parents who are in alignment about how to raise the kids and who treat *each other* well are also important but whether or not they are having sex or even married or dating is irrelevant too).
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: (polyamory)
I just had an ah-ha moment - one of those things that I kinda already know but it somehow crystallized for me in a way that it hadn't before.

I come from an immigrant family.  It's true that both of the parents who raised me are natural born citizens, but my grandparents on my mom's side were immigrants (and POC at that, who never really learned English), and my grandparents on my dad's side were from that sort of white Norwegian immigrant type family that embedded their immigration status into their family identity, regardless of how many generations ago the actual migration happened.  Like, y'know, Minnesotans who still maintain ties with their second cousins from "the old country" and who are still baking the same old family recipes at county fairs and stuff.

Intellectually, I know that not everyone has the same kind of family ties that I was raised with.  I have the kind of family who still gets offended if their great-niece doesn't send her annual holiday letter every year, and the first time I drove across the country, I was required to stop by and meet my dad's father's sister-in-law's brother (who is my great-uncle by marriage) who my mom hadn't even met yet.  It would have been mildly offensive for me to not introduce myself while I was in the neighborhood.  Keep in mind that I hadn't even known of his existence until I announced the trip, but I sure as hell had to stop and say "hi" or risk ruffling some feathers (and as a product of this family, I thought it was kinda neat to meet family I didn't know I had).

I *know* that not everyone has these kinds of family connections.  But I just put it together that this was related to immigration.

I have drawn parallels before between polyamory and "normal" monogamous extended families.  People often ask me about scheduling in a poly relationship, and I always say that it's no more complicated than trying to schedule an extended family event.  When people seem to get stuck on that concept, it's clear that they've obviously never tried to get 3 uncles, an aunt, about 12 cousins, two grandparents who are divorced and don't speak to each other, a great aunt, a cousin-once-removed, two god-siblings and a god-nephew to Las Vegas for a wedding anniversary party.

And people look at me like I've just grown a second head - of course they've never tried to do that, who would try to do that?!

When I tried to explain to Franklin about the wedding guest list and the need for a large enough venue, he kind of boggled at me rattling off my list of relatives.  Why did we have to invite everyone?  Because of the family politics of *not* inviting someone! (Not that he actually balked at inviting people, but it didn't actually occur to *him* to invite second cousins and great-aunts and it certainly didn't occur to him that any of his relatives might get offended for not getting an invitation).

Meanwhile, I had to check in with him after the wedding to see if his sister was even notified that he had just gotten married.  He *thought* someone had told her.  I have no concept for this in my head.  My bio-mom's step-daughter's (from an ex-husband) cousins all heard (directly from me) about us getting married.  I can't even fathom the idea that a *sister* might have been told by someone, maybe.

So, I know that not everyone does family the way I do, but it didn't occur to me that this is, at least in some part, due to immigration.

If you look at recently immigrated families, you'll see some trends.  Often you will see entire sections of town devoted to preserving their culture, like having a "Chinatown" or a "Jewish" district.  Sometimes that's imposed from the outside, to keep the POC safely contained, but a lot of it is also because recent immigrants to a new country can rely on others of their nationality for support.  They might have immigrated in the first place because they already had family here.  Certain foods might be unavailable anywhere other than their own grocery stores.  They can be guided on naturalization, on language classes, on jobs that will hire them.  The schools in the area are more likely to understand and connect with the children who may be bilingual (or not yet speak English) and have different customs and foods and clothing.

To come to a foreign country is intimidating and there are often a lot of obstacles in the way of settling in.  So people who have had similar experiences, both with the immigration process and with their cultural background, often band together to form large extended family-like neighborhoods and communities.  People whose families have been here long enough for the descendants to no longer identify as a hyphenated-American, but simply as belonging to the US, don't have this same pressure to build and maintain ties to people whose ancestors came from the same place.

Not that they *don't* do that - the Daughters of the Revolution, for instance, is a good example of a purely US extended family construct that has many of these kinds of traits - pulling together as a community, pride in lineage, common cultural mores and foods and clothing and thoughts and behaviours, etc.

But if a person doesn't have, as part of their *identity*, the struggle to fit into an alien culture and needing those like them, even if not directly related, for support, that person may have an easier time adopting a "rugged individualism" sort of identity and maintaining ties with smaller groups like a nuclear family, and perhaps even experience a freedom of social mobility to move through communities and even physical locations without a sense of culture shock and loss of identity.

I have been told by several people that white people like to think that they made up this poly thing, but if you look at black culture, you'll see that something like polyamory has been around for much longer than the '90s when some neo-pagans coined the term, and longer than the Free Love movement that inspired them.  Sure, even white people will talk about how some form of non-monogamy has always existed, but talk of historical non-monogamy tends to be mostly made up of other white examples. While my POC friends point out that they've been doing this *in parallel*, not in response to or influenced by whatever it is that white people think is polyamory.

So, while black cultures can seem to be coming almost from the opposite direction as immigrants, seeing as how they didn't "immigrate" while trying to hang onto an old culture but instead had their culture stolen from them when their ancestors were stolen, the response seems to be to come towards the same place as immigrants - which is to build interconnected, dynamic, extended support networks of families. When you have nothing else, you at least have each other and your shared experiences as an unwanted "outsider" in a hostile land that you call "home".

So, when I was pulling out my usual "polyamory isn't any different from monogamy with extended families", it occurred to me that if anyone needed to develop better tools regarding extended family interpersonal relationships (like therapists, for example), one could look at the research on recent immigrant subcultures and communities in the US.

Which then led me to consider, if immigrant families are so prone to this kind of interconnected family networks, could that be where I picked it up?  My mom is from a recently immigrated, Mexican family, so yeah, probably there.  But what about my dad?  Oh, dad's Norwegian whose parents moved here from Minnesota, who are also pretty notorious for their in-group communities.  No matter how many generations have lived in the US, they still act like recent-immigrant communities, kinda like Jewish people do.

So, now this is a connection I have in my head that I can use to explain polyamory better.  To someone like Franklin, the idea of not talking to a sibling for months or years, or even needing to cut a sibling out for "differences of opinion" is an option that's totally on the table.  But for someone who comes from a Mexican family like mine, or a Chinese family, or an Indian family, the idea that, when two people get married, and the new spouse has a problem with the sister-in-law, the idea that the married couple can just stop talking to the sister because the "marriage comes first" isn't even an option.  It's not even considered, unless one is willing to cut ties with the whole freaking family.

You simply Do Not just drop someone who has a conflict with a romantic partner.  You fucking work it out, one way or another.  And, in some cases, it's the romantic partner who gets dumped.

I'm not saying we should stray too far in this direction where toxic and abusive familial relationships are maintained because they're "family" to the detriment of healthy romantic relationships.  But I am saying that this is a model, a framework, where (some) people understand that a romantic relationship is not the pinnacle of all relationships, and that interpersonal dynamics are complex and strong, and good conflict resolution skills are prized because winnowing down to just "the couple" is not considered the healthy option.

In poly relationships, when we make "the family" more important than the people in it, we stray into coercive territory.  But that's not what I'm talking about here - that's a whole other rant (which I've made several times before).  So I'm not talking about making the family more important than the people.

But I *am* talking about making the family at least AS important, if not moreso, than "the couple".  THAT dynamic needs to go.  That's a lesson we can learn from recent-immigrant communities.  The people in the relationships need to be more important than the relationship, but once that is prioritized, the *networks* of interconnected people needs to be at least as important as any given dyadic romantic "couple".

Because polyamory is not something that "couples" do, it's something that people do.  Your metamours are not people you can just drop when you're having your own issues inside your dyad, in the same way that your mother-in-law is not someone you can just cut out of your lives forever when you decide it's time to have a baby, to focus on your own nuclear family, or when you're having a time of stress between you and your partner.  In fact, calling on your mother-in-law when you start having children, or maintaining your connections with your siblings when you're romantic relationship is going through a rough patch are excellent tools for helping people get through those challenging times.

Poly networks can be an incredible tool for the same things.  When someone dies in a recent-immigrant community, everyone bands together to take some of the responsibility off of the grieving widow, for example - it's a trope to bring food to a funeral because, when this practice became popular, making food was a seriously time- and effort-intensive process (still can be) and if the person who died was the "breadwinner", a community can come together and make sure that people who are grieving, and potentially now out of income or labor to support the family, can still get fed.

And when the entire community pitches in, nobody is overly burdened.  When my grandfather died, my grandmother was not able to care for herself, so she got shuttled around from one of her child's households to another, adding an extra amount of food and financial obligation and labor to that nuclear family.  At least she had several children to keep passing her around to.

But if she had a *community*, with someone who could have dropped off a casserole every other day, and someone else who could have come by to play bridge with, and someone else who could have interfaced with the lawyers, etc., etc., none of her children's nuclear families would have been taxed to the point that she was needed to be "passed off" to someone else (the reason she only had her kids and no extended community has to do with my grandfather being an abusive patriarch type, but that's another story).

Or, as many other elderly people who didn't come from the kind of community-based background as my grandmother and didn't have nearly a dozen children who believed it was their obligation to take her in no matter what have had to rely on nursing homes and the kind of kindness of strangers that money can buy.

When I went into my suicidal depression, I had several people I could turn to, all with different ways of helping - the one who could show me love and affection, the one who could help me navigate the complicated medical system while looking for a counselor, the one who could just listen, etc.  When I found a low-income clinic that accepted my application for the most amount of financial assistance they had to offer ($10 therapy visits), and the counselor they assigned to me learned of me being poly, the first thing he asked was if the stress of multiple relationships was contributing to my depression.

I explained to him that my poly network was the only thing that *wasn't* contributing to my depression and, in fact, was actively helping by being my support network.  I could tell that this possibility hadn't even occurred to him (not that he was familiar with poly in the first place, but naturally the first thing he thought of when he heard "multiple partners" was stressful love triangle, jealousy, competition, superficial connections, etc.).

But, to me, it seems obvious that more people to love means more people to support me.  I credit a lot of my ability to grasp polyamory with my adoptive background too.  My parents instilled in me a very strong sense of "family is more than who you're related to, it's who you're connected to through love, not blood".  But a lot of people see adoption as a last resort, and not even that because they want children "of their own", they don't want to raise "someone else's kids".  And it occurred to me that part of my parents' ability to see adoption as "god's plan" for them and their adopted children as "theirs" might be related to the whole immigrant thing too.

The church I went to in high school was predominantly Filipino, with some Mexicans.  I sang in the church youth choir.  All of us choir kids called each other's parents "mom and dad", because, in our church, they were all our "parents" and we were all their "kids".  Lots of people in this area had adopted or raised "someone else's children" - siblings or children who were unwed teen parents that couldn't raise their children so they did instead, young cousins or their own siblings who had some kind of problem at home and needed to escape, their own kids' school friends with similar problems, a relative's child who lived in an area with poor schools so they took in the child to give them an address that allowed them to attend a better school, stuff like that.

For recent-immigrant families, seeing everyone as part of one big family is how we survived.  I think it gave my parents the ability to provide me with probably the most idyllic adoption story possible short of a Daddy Warbucks story, and that sense of family and my positive adoption experience gave me the ability to foster a healthy outlook on polyamory, one that sees the destructiveness and toxicity of couple-centrism and couple-privilege.

In recent-immigrant families, you can't isolate yourself down to just "the couple".  That's where you are in the most danger.  You can't lock yourselves into a "couple" because that leaves no room for family, friends, god, and community, and without those things, you can't survive.

Obviously, within monogamy, a "couple" is still important - you wouldn't want someone to "come between" a romantic couple by having more romantic connections, so the analogy starts to break down at that point.  But, even there, we have some room.  There is some precedence for "the mistress" being part of the family, or at least maintaining connection to the community.  As we see in The Color Purple, black families have had some romantic interconnectedness going on there too.

These things have happened, they're just not talked about in the same way as modern polys talk openly about polyamory.  A lot of times, kids grow up never really understanding that "Aunt" Sarah isn't someone's sister or a friend of the family that moved in to have help raising her kids, but her kids might be Daddy's kids too.  And in certain sorts of communities, while this might not be the norm or widely accepted, it has happened, and people are not thrown out for being "black sheep", because they're *family* and family is supported and helped to the best of the community's ability.

So I think we can look to the complex nature of recent-immigrant communities for some guidance and modeling of large, complex, interconnected networks of family systems.  And maybe all these damn "couples" can learn a thing or two by emulating the healthier aspects of communities with rich cultural traditions of extended families.

Lots of time, the Argument From Antiquity is a logical fallacy - just because it's "old", or "we've always done it", it doesn't mean that it's true or healthy or good for you.  But sometimes things are "always done" because it's a system that works.  Sometimes, it *is* in our better interests to "listen to our elders" and keep certain traditions alive - like valuing the larger family and not prioritizing couplehood over complex family network connections.
joreth: (Default)
I'm working on my memoir. I've always expected it to be published (like, on my blog or something) either post-mortem by a loved one, or at least near the end of my life. It always felt ... I dunno, presumptuous, to write a memoir while still young enough to have more stories to tell. I suppose if one had a particular segment of life that had an identifiable ending to it, that would make sense.

My memoir is basically a chapter-by-chapter review of my poly explorations, to see how I've grown and the mistakes I've made over time.  I'm also working on a book about breaking up. This is more of a how-to, self-help sort of break up manual. Although, to be honest, more than a little of the "do not do" stuff is shit that I've done (and the rest is shit that I've had done to me).

Recently, I wrote about having to block an ex over something that, by itself wasn't really a big deal, but was symptomatic of a larger picture of abuse, and then I ended up telling the whole tale of our breakup where he physically tried to restrain me from leaving.

As I get more informed about what abuse is and isn't, I look back over my history and I've come to recognize that more and more of my past relationships were abusive and I just never recognized it because, to me, that's just how relationships go, according to my expectations from my culture and the sheer commonality of the behaviour I've experienced.

Like, early on in my relationship with Franklin, we discussed something that I call Octopus-Hands - how I've been on dates, and just hanging out with "friends", who have suddenly tried to touch my breasts, and when I knocked their hands away, they grabbed for my crotch, and when I tried to block there, they used their other hand to go for the breast again...

Franklin was appalled. He couldn't even fathom that this would happen at all, let alone be common. When he expressed surprise, I responded with surprise at his surprise, telling him that this is just what it's like being a woman who dates men. Like, it surprised *me* that someone was surprised that it happens. I think it was my first sign that my experiences weren't "normal" - or rather, they were "normal" in the sense that they were common, but they're not "normal" in the sense that they're acceptable or universal.

I talk about my abusive ex, who didn't abuse me because I didn't "take" it but did abuse someone else, and I talk about my abusive ex-fiance who *did* sexually assault me and gaslight me on the regular. But I never considered that other ex, who tried to prevent me from leaving, and who did the whole pussy-grabbing-while-asleep-after-I-said-no-sex-tonight thing to be "abusive" until I wrote out the story recently.

The growing realization of just how many of my past experiences were actually, unambiguously abusive combined with my writing of a book on how to break up, and the periodic drive to get back to my memoir all combined at once yesterday to forge an idea that popped into my brain.

What if, after my how-to breakup book is published, I rewrite and release a serial publication of some sort detailing every breakup I've ever had (that I can remember)? Maybe I can crowdfund it, and each breakup will get its own release, perhaps on my blog, perhaps as an e-booklet or something? Might this be something people would be interested in?

If not, I'll end up publishing my original story anyway, probably as the original blog series, but later in life as planned. I was just struck by the confluence of subjects and events and wondered if I could connect all these things together.
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)
Couples wanting to "open up" their relationship for the first time (besides being impossible, because you can't just "open" an existing relationship and expect it to be exactly the same as before just with more people, you actually end up creating whole new relationships) often spend a great deal of time fantasizing and worrying about hypothetical future relationships with people they haven't met and have created in their minds, who they make up to be either their greatest fantasies or their biggest fears.

Then these couples go about looking for these hypothetical, mythical people. They simultaneously seek for some magical goddess (because it's usually a bi cis woman) that will fit their giant laundry list of qualifications, while seeing monsters peeking out from behind the eyes of everyone who doesn't fit that list.

What they're doing is overestimating the happiness that they expect to find with their mythical pet and overestimating the UNhappiness that they expect to find if their new pet doesn't meet all their criteria.

This is called Impact Bias.

"The impact bias is our tendency to overestimate our emotional reaction to future events. Research shows that most of the time we don’t feel as bad as we expect to when things go wrong. Similarly we usually don’t get quite the high we expect when things go right for us." - Jeremy Dean www.spring.org.uk/2008/05/why-youre-sucker-for-impact-bias.php

In other words, people are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy. (paraphrase of Franklin Veaux)

Impact Bias does several things, two of which are particularly relevant to polyamory:

1) When predicting how an experience will impact us emotionally, things we haven't experienced yet are REALLY difficult to accurately predict and we usually get it wrong.

2) We have our own "theories" based on our culture and our cultural experiences, and those "theories" are often wrong.

What all this means is that couples, if they want to find success in polyamory, need to be aware of Impact Bias in a similar way that they are told to be aware of NRE. They don't actually know what will make them happy, even though they feel really strongly that they do. They are likely basing those predictions on cultural assumptions. But those cultural assumptions come from our monogamous culture, which means that they don't apply to poly relationships.

Trying to apply mononormative assumptions over poly relationships tends to make them fail because poly relationships, fundamentally, run contrary to those very mononormative assumptions. The couple's background, past experiences, and cultural exposure are all conspiring against them to give them bad information when they make their predictions. Predictions made on faulty premises usually come out wrong.

When everyone in the forums is saying "stop focusing on a single bi woman to love you both equally in a live-in triad" and "all those rules aren't going to help you 'protect your relationship', just let go and trust", and the couples are feeling upset and defensive because hey! they've thought all this out and they know how they feel and what they want! ... no, you probably don't.

I mean, yes, you probably do feel all that fear and hope and desire, but it probably doesn't reflect reality. Everyone falls victim for Impact Bias, just like everyone falls for all the other cognitive biases. They're what our brains do. The advice for NRE is to feel what you feel, but keep in the back of your mind that it's a temporary state and likely an illusion so don't make any *real world plans* based on NRE because NRE is lying to you. Fiction can be a fun experience, even a meaningful, profound experience, but at the end of the day, it's still a fiction.

The same goes for this Impact Bias - feel your feelings, just know that they're probably lying to you so don't actually make plans based on them. You are probably overly optimistic about how happy you will feel if you find some magical unicorn with perfect boobs and a penchant for childcare, and you are very likely overestimating how terrible things will be if you try dating someone who doesn't meet all your criteria, like someone who is only interested in one of you or who maybe has a penis or doesn't want children.

So just relax, acknowledge your fears and your fantasies but let them go and just meet people. Dating someone a little different from all your rules probably won't be as bad as you think it will, and searching for The Perfect Match probably won't bring you as much happiness as you think it will - at least not enough to be worth the price of dehumanizing all your interviewees and missing out on other potential sources of happiness.
joreth: (boxed in)
"Friendships can be abusive. It took me a long time to realize that a friend can manipulate you, emotionally abuse you, gaslight you, and that the effects of that trauma can last for years after the friendship ends. Abuse also knows no distance; one of the most damaging friendships I ever had had thousands of miles between us. We haven't spoken in years and I'm only recently discovering the depths to which that friendship has affected me to this day. I didn't even want to admit the fact that it was abusive in nature even though she's not in my life anymore because her hold on me is still present, and because I didn't think friendships could be classified as abusive relationships. But they absolutely can be. Please be careful and take [care] of yourselves and if you think a friend is crossing a line, please reach out." ~ jacksisko
When I was in high school, I had a best friend. Because I tend to nurture post-breakup friendships, I did some post hoc analysis with my exes. With 3 different guys (every guy I was involved with one way or another while she and I were friends), I discovered that she contacted each of them to deliberately mislead them about me.

Each guy, she tried to convince I was cheating on him. One of them, I did end up cheating on him, but only after she told him that I already was, and I did so because instead of confronting me about it, he just turned into an asshole and I turned to another guy friend for comfort that led to sex, instead of dumping him for being an asshole (I was a teenager with my own relationship issues).

One guy just flat out didn't believe her. We're still fairly close.

And the third guy I wasn't even dating, but he was a friend of mine who was actually obsessive about me and was girlfriendzoning me, trying to be my "friend" so that I'd eventually recognize him as superior to all those "losers" (i.e. like the awesome guy above who refused to believe her lies) and dump them to be with him instead.

It was only after she ghosted me on our high school graduation day (devastating me on what was already an emotionally challenging day) and the final romantic relationship breakup happened a year later and then all the post-breakup repairs were done with all 3 guys that I found out she had pulled the same stunt with each of them.

As I connected the dots on the patterns of our relationship with the benefit of more information and hindsight, she turned out to be extremely jealous of anyone who was taking up my time and attention and was manipulating everyone around her and gaslighting me about their behaviour in response to her manipulation to control our friendship so that she was my sole focus.

She is one of the main reasons why I held onto the Chill Girl persona for so long - I'm not one of Those Girls, I don't do Drama, I just don't Get Along with women, blah blah blah. It's taken me a really long time to learn how to trust women again, and I have never gotten over my physical withdrawal from them. To this day, I still can't initiate a cuddly, affectionate relationship with women like I had with her. I can only respond to overtures of affection, but I can't initiate (once an affectionate pattern has been established, I can, but I can't be the one to start that pattern).

My cousin also tried to develop an abusive relationship with my sister. She would go into a rage if my sister didn't put her first, didn't read her mind and anticipate her emotions. I've told the story before about my grandfather hosting a BBQ in my sister's honor when she came to visit (after having moved up north from living in their neighborhood for a year or two), and my cousin just going ballistic at my sister for receiving the invitation from our grandfather instead of directly from my sister. It didn't seem to matter that it wasn't my sister's party, or that my sister didn't even know about it at first. What mattered is that my sister wasn't the one to extend the invitation. She did shit like this all the time.

So, yeah, you can have abusive friends too. Abuse is about control. It's a belief that one is justified in controlling another. Platonic relationships do not offer some kind of magical vaccine against one's deeply ingrained belief that they are justified in controlling other people.

If anything, I might suggest that women, with our social permission to develop deeply intimate platonic relationships, can be particularly prone or at risk of doing this to others, and also likely at risk of having it done to us by abusive men we are not dating but who *want* us to date them, because girlfriendzoning seems like a situation just ripe for someone with beliefs about entitlement and controlling others to obtain what they feel they are owed.
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)
Once again, a post where people did a lot of labor to discuss, explain, and sort things out got deleted so the results of all that labor are lost forever from anyone else who might want to ask similar questions.  So I want to share my answer for future reference, to a more generalized question of "did my partner cheat, break a rule, or do something else?" and "what do I tell people about our breakup?" -

Let go of the specific terminology, and also let go of the idea that anyone else needs to know any of the details of why you are separating.  If you must tell people that you are no longer together, come up with a cliff-notes version of the story that doesn't place blame on anyone and focuses on *your* decisions, not someone else's actions.

"We want different things from our relationship and it's time to go our separate ways".

"We are no longer contributing to each other's happiness, so we are letting each other go to find happiness elsewhere."

"My life is taking me in a different direction."

"I am looking for something other than the life they can offer."

It doesn't matter if your partner "cheated" or "broke a rule" or whatever. Those kinds of distinctions are really only helpful for either identifying specific behaviours for correction or for punitive action - for assigning blame and identifying a "bad guy".  This is not a best-self course of action. Your partner doesn't need to be a "bad guy" to justify you leaving. You just have to not want to be with them anymore, and that's all anyone else needs to know, if they need to know anything.

And especially if there are shared kids involved, or both of you work at the same company, or otherwise have overlapping lives that can't be easily disentangled, the higher the road you can take during a breakup, the smoother that road will be, since you will inevitably cross paths again in the future.

Unless you particularly enjoy drama and messy lives, hurting children, and turning your friends into collateral damage, then refraining from blaming, gossiping, demonizing, or even just revealing private moments makes your overlapping futures together easier, and also makes you look like a freaking saint to everyone who is watching.

You'll win some massive adulting points for handling a breakup with grace and compassion.  So don't worry too much about picking specific labels for their behaviour - at this point, it's not really important anymore because you're not going to fix it and, if you're interested at all in looking like a grown up then you also shouldn't be trying to punish them for it anymore.

Just stick to "we broke up because we're not compatible anymore" and let everything else go.

#WritingABookOnBreakingUp #YouWouldThinkThatSomeoneWhoGivesAdviceLikeThisWouldBeBetterAtItHerself #AlwaysEasierToTellOthersWhatToDoThanToDoIt #ThoseWhoCanDoThoseWhoCannotTeach
joreth: (being wise)
Reminder:  Abuse makes people "crazy", so if you date someone who has an abusive ex, and you later discover that the person you're dating is "crazy" themselves, the proper response isn't to then doubt just how "abusive" their exes really were (particularly when *you saw them* be abusive with your own eyes), but to feel saddened that abuse is so ubiquitous, that your partner has been that badly hurt, and that society's first reaction to your partner's behaviour is to dismiss them as being "crazy" rather than condemn the abuse that makes them behave so irrationally.

Not that people never lie about abusive exes - my abusive ex is sticking to his story that it was his *victim* who was the one who abused *him*.  So I don't mean to say you should never question someone's one-sided story after new evidence comes to light.

I'm just saying that most of the time, when we call an ex "crazy", because of the social convention for the use of that word, it's often for behaviour that they picked up as a direct result of someone harming them.  It's either a survival strategy that no longer works when they're not being harmed, or it's contrary to reality because they no longer have a terrific grasp of reality thanks to someone rewriting their reality for them.

The things that we tend to call "crazy" (as in, "my crazy ex") are not usually the same sorts of things that abusers who flip the script and accuse their victims of being "abusive" tend to do.  If you're dating someone that you start to suspect might have lied about their ex being abusive, there's a good chance that what they're doing to make you suspect this is not behaviour that we culturally refer to as "crazy" from "my crazy ex", generally speaking.  They're probably being more gaslighty and / or controlling, than the sorts of things that we tend to label as "crazy".

Abusers who try to convince people that their former victims are the "real" abusers tend to do other things, like the things found on the Wheel of Abuse, such as gaslighting, manipulating, and other controlling behaviour.  Erratic and "emotional" behaviour and being out of touch with reality is actually more likely to be *confirmation* that the abuse was probably real.  Cool controlling or explosive anger controlling and using your fear to direct your own behaviour is more likely to be the signs that their story of past abuse may not be accurate.

If someone you're dating starts acting in a way that might tempt you to call them "crazy" (because of how we generally use that term), which then prompts you to reevaluate their claims of an abusive ex (even though you may have even seen the abusive behaviour first-hand) just because they're acting irrationally and you think this is reason enough to doubt everything they've ever told you including their abusive past even though their irrational behaviour isn't really related to lying about victimization, then they're probably not "crazy", they're still struggling with their abuse.

You don't have to stick around in that relationship if their response to their trauma is too hard for you to deal with.  Just don't call them "crazy" for it.  They're traumatized.  They're not immune from acting out in harmful ways just because they were a victim themselves, but they are traumatized, not "crazy".
joreth: (polyamory)
If you ever want to see just who is willing to put their money where their mouth is in terms of poly "equality" and "our others are just as important to us as we are to each other", ask if they'd be willing to divorce in order to give one of those other partners legal protections, rights, and obligations, and see how quickly people justify that their need for legal protection is necessary for life and more important than anyone else's need.

Usually the conversation goes like this:

Me:   So, you want your metamours to feel "equal", but you won't divorce so they can marry, huh?

Them:   We can draw up legal documents to make them equal if necessary.

Me:  OK, so then why not divorce and let them marry and YOU draw up legal paperwork to make yourself "equal"?

Them:   Because there's this thing I need that I can only get from marriage.

Me:  ...

Me:  So, you're saying that legal contracts can't give you the same things?

Them:  [without noticing the irony] No, I have to stay married to get this thing.

Me:  0.o

Me:  ::blinkblink::

Me:  So, much like why gay people wanted marriage and said that civil unions were not good enough and they were being treated like second class citizens and did not have equal rights, maybe that's partly why people say you have couple privilege and why they don't want to date couples and why they don't feel truly equal?

Them:   No but they are! We totally love our OSOs as much as each other!

This is why it's about power, not emotions or priorities.

#ItIsEqualAsLongAsIAmNotTheOneToSacrifice #ButItIsDifferentWhenIDoIt #ButIHaveTheGreaterNeed #UntilYouDoNot #ButWhatAboutTheChildren #InATrulyFairSystemSometimesYouHaveToBeTheDisadvantagedOne #WeDoEgalitarianPolyAndDoNotBelieveInCouplePrivilege #ExceptOnlyOurKidsGetHisHealthInsurance #WhatWeAlreadyDecidedNoKidsWithAnyoneElseAnyway #ButWeAreTotallyEgalPolyAndOurSecondariesAreEqual #OopsDidISaySecondariesOutLoud?
joreth: (anger)
Here's the thing.  The latest guy I blocked on FB is an ex-bf.  One of the reasons why I dumped his ass is because I suspected him of spying on my internet activities (we were in a poly relationship at the time, so there was no reason to have done so, other than fucking entitlement, which I'll get to in a moment).

He is a rather skilled computer networking type guy.  In fact, I learned a lot of my own networking skills from him.  Sometime after I moved out, my computer crashed.  I was dating another somewhat skilled networking type guy at the time who helped me recover my hard drive data.  During the deep recovery process, we uncovered a keystroke log buried in my hard drive.

This keystroke log did, in fact, show exactly a private IM conversation I had set up with a friend to "test" to see if this guy was spying on me.  We said some things in that conversation, and when my ex let some things slip that he would only have known if he had seen that conversation, I moved out.  And now here was the evidence that I was not paranoid, he did, indeed, spy on me and it wasn't by chance that he happened to say the right things to make me suspect him.

So, years later, he found me on FB.  Contrary to all my advice to other people, I have a habit of keeping toxic people in my life, justifying to myself that I want to "keep tabs" on them.  So, after about 3 years of letting his friend-request sit in my queue, I dubiously accepted it.

Now he fancies himself a "photographer" because he has money for all the latest technology, which makes just about *anyone* look like a competent photographer without doing all the hard work of learning the foundations of art, like composition, photography history, art theory, color theory, light theory, etc. and he's not a total bull-in-the-china-shop with computers.

So he decides to contradict me online about photography and Photoshop, which he himself admits to not being an "expert", even though *I am one*.  Most of y'all ought to be aware of how I respond to mansplaining my job to me.  So I blocked him.  Because fuck him.  I was already on edge with him with the whole violating-my-privacy thing.

He immediately contacted me using another account.  Not with an apology, of course, but to whine about me responding to his last comment and then blocking him so that he couldn't see my response, and he wasn't trying to argue with me anyway, so why I gotta be so rude and block him?!

Here's that entitlement thing.

You see, when people are told in no uncertain terms "I do not want to talk to you anymore" (which is exactly what a block is, and y'all fucking know it), and they keep trying to talk to you anyway, this is entitlement.  They feel that their desire to continue communicating with you is more important, and worth more consideration, than your desire to NOT communicate with them anymore.

It doesn't matter if it's an apology, if it's to continue the argument, to "explain" that they weren't trying to argue, or what, when someone tries to end communication and you try to continue it, you are, in fact, absolutely saying that your desire to continue trumps their desire to end it.

Here's why I get so pissed off at this:  His entitlement to attention at this very minor argument and his entitlement to my privacy are the same thing.

He feels that he has the right to access me even when I have explicitly said he does not.  My express wishes to cut off contact were dismissed.  The very idea that I could have private internet communication without his knowledge was dismissed.  Whatever reasons he had for violating my privacy, he believed those reasons justified violating my privacy.

And this is why I get so pissed off at people for doing seemingly minor infractions.  These infractions do not happen in a vacuum.  These infractions are usually part of a pattern.  Entitlement is a foundational value, and that value will affect all other interactions with people.  Feeling entitled to access someone, *even when they said no* can and will manifest itself in different ways.  Maybe he has some kind of line drawn somewhere in his head where his entitlement justifies his intrusion into [Group A] people or situations but not [Group B] people or situations.

So, like, maybe if a girl he hit on in a bar said she wasn't interested, he would totally respect that rejection.  But other things that other people told him that he couldn't access, he wouldn't respect those rejections.

"Entitlement" doesn't have to mean that everyone who feels "entitled" are all equally capable of exactly all violations.

But it does mean that they are capable of *some* violations.

And, as a former partner, I happen to know for a fact that he is capable of some violations.

Not only did he install a keystroke log on my computer to spy on my internet activity, he also was one of the MANY former partners I've had who did not take "no" for an answer.  

I fully believe that he would never meet a stranger in a bar, ask her for her phone number, and when she said she wasn't interested, he would never, not in a million years, follow her out of the bar and violently rape her in the parking lot.  He would, however, ask a girlfriend for sex, and when she said "not tonight, honey, I have a headache", he would wait until he thought she was asleep and then start touching her in ways she just said she didn't want.

I know he would do that because he did that to me most nights towards the end of our relationship.  We even fought about it a few times, but he still did it, until I banished him from sleeping with me anymore (we had our own bedrooms, he just slept in my bed every night because I slept in my own bed every night).

Then there was the Tupperware Incident.  I had been engaged before, and my ex-future-mother-in-law bought us a set of Tupperware as an "engagement gift" (considering that she hated me, this was kind of a big deal).  I took the Tupperware when my ex-fiance and I broke up (another relationship I had to "escape" from, but that's a tale for another time).

So, here I am, moving all the way across the country, my first *real* time away from home, and I move in with this guy.  And I bring my Tupperware with me.  Then the suspicions start, then the "test", then I move out.  I tried to mostly get my stuff out of the house while he was at work, to avoid a confrontation.  He knew I was moving, but I was hoping to just not be there one day when he came home.

On my very last trip back for the last of my stuff, he came home as I was putting the last load in my car.  It was awkward and tense, mostly because I didn't actually, "officially" break up with him, I just said I was moving out to try living on my own (since I never had, at that point) and to live closer to campus, where I had started going back to school.

As I walked to my car, he asked about the Tupperware.  He accused me of stealing it from *him*, that he had stolen it from his ex-wife when he kicked her out, and he wanted it back.  We argued, and I tried to end the argument (as I often do) by just leaving.

Before I could close my car door, he literally dived, head-first into the driver's seat and across my lap, holding onto the steering wheel, pinning my legs down, and blocking my view, to prevent me from leaving.

So I laid on the horn and screamed "rape!"  It was dirty play, because he wasn't trying to rape me, but he *was* assaulting me.  Startled, he backed out of the car and I peeled out of the parking lot with my door still open.  I used to street race, and I have a manual transmission, so as long as I could physically operate the car, he was not going to win against me in a car.

I also used to do really foolish shit, like drive with two of my friends hanging onto the hood of the car and one guy laying across the roof of the car, really fast around curved roads.  So I am *not* afraid of using my car ... unconventionally.  I also hit one of my closest friends with my car once, in retaliation for an injury he gave me, so I'm also fine with using my car as a weapon (we had an, let's just say "interesting" relationship - my teen years were kinda dramatic).

All I needed was enough room to operate the vehicle, and I would have driven off with him still hanging on through the open door, if I had to, with absolutely no concern about flinging him out of the car by simply taking a fast turn.  Because I used to do shit like that for fun.

Fortunately, for him, he was startled enough by the scream and the horn and he voluntarily backed out of my car.  I never contacted him again. We had run into each other a couple of times after that, and he never once apologized for physically restraining me as I tried to leave, or even acted awkward or concerned about our last encounter.  As far as I can tell, he doesn't think there was anything unusual about how we broke up, which is fucking frightening.

So when someone violates a boundary like "stop talking to me online", I know that this violation is possible because of a sense of entitlement.  And I know that when someone has a sense of entitlement, it is not isolated to one specific action.  It is an underlying belief structure that informs many different actions.

Which ones, I do *not* know for every single person.  But I know that entitlement sends out little tendrils at the base of their behaviour decision tree, and those tendrils flow under and around and through that decision tree, touching various branches here and there.

So while I don't know exactly what else someone with entitlement is willing to violate, I know that they are willing to violate some things.  When a person is blocked on social media, and that person *immediately* tries to contact the other using another account (and I will make a small exception for those whose attempt at contact is a humble, contrite, PROPER apology with no defensiveness and an awareness of wrongdoing and a willingness for accountability, but I have never actually seen this from anyone who was blocked who then attempted to force more contact within a few moments), then I know they are willing to violate boundaries.

I know this person is unsafe, because they have *just* demonstrated a lack of respect for boundaries, a willingness to violate boundaries, a sense of entitlement that their desires trump others' needs, and *I don't know what else this entitlement will affect*.  But I know that it will affect other interactions.

That makes someone a *very* unsafe person indeed.

So, sure, trying to contact someone after they've blocked you might not seem like a rage-worthy offense in the grand scheme of things, not in isolation.  But doing so reveals that they *are* willing to make rage-worthy offenses, because doing so requires them to have an underlying sense of entitlement to access another person against their express wishes, and that value does not exist in isolation.
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: (feminism)
At work a few months back, I passed by a couple of dudes arguing. One guy stopped me and said, "I'm pretty sure JORETH doesn't need a man for anything!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He conceded the argument.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As someone said in my FB comments on this thread, all of my other relationship advice assumes at a minimum good intentions between/among partners. An abusive situation does not meet this minimum standard. Don't do all my other relationship advice in abusive situations, and if you're still recovering, you still need an abuse specialist to tell you how to get from there to where my advice is applicable or possible.
joreth: (anger)
"These people cut off contact with their own adult-child because they disapproved of them. They DIED never reconciling! Would you really ask someone to make their own parents give them up?!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, now to my point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MadEngineer #Chaosbunny #KillerOfDreams #TheOutsideContractor #HarbringerDestine #VillaintinesDay #SinglesAwarenessDay #NeverTooEarlyToStartPlanningWorldDomination #IMeanGangingUpOnMutualPartners #IMeanExpressingLoveAndGratitudeForMyPolycule #PolyHolidays
joreth: (polyamory)
I have, on occasion, offered to host "guest posts" for people I know who wanted to write something they felt was important but didn't feel like their own platform was the appropriate place for it, for whatever reason. I'm not really known as a blogger with a large audience, but I figure with my history of topics I can probably afford to host certain posts when others can't or would rather not.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2 - Make the night random. ...

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

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

This. Thisthisthisthisthis.

All of this.

There is only one thing I would amend this with:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (anger)
I see a lot of people say things like "I wish I had known this lesson before, then I wouldn't have ..." I've said it myself. But I also spend LOTS of time repeating things in poly forums that the community has collectively learned over the decades the hard way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Horizontal Axis: Relaxed-On Edge

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

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

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

The Vertical Axis: Engaging-Avoidant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost trust leads to the end of relationships. By the time I'm willing to verbally say "this is a problem and we need to talk about it", it's a Big Fucking Deal and we need to talk about it. Every day that we don't talk about it is a massive withdrawal from our shared Trust Account. When that balance hits zero, you stop being People to me and I close myself out of the account. You can then start trying to build up more trust again, but I very likely will never trust you again once I've checked out, no matter what you do.
joreth: (Xmas Kitties)
I don't understand the question of how do poly people decide whose family to visit for holidays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since the question isn't really the question. The *real* question is "but are you even people? How do you people if you're not people?"
joreth: (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: (polyamory)
I write a lot about the non-possessiveness of love.  This was my latest comment on someone's FB post:

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody can take that away from me which is not mine to begin with. My partners are not mine to share, they share themselves with me, and that is exactly what makes relationships so special, so unique, and so irreplaceable.

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