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)
Q. What is a unicorn when it comes to polyamoury?

A. Everything that Jessica Burde said. I’m basically just adding some detail to add weight to what they said (more voices and all) because lots of people want to dismiss poly advice when they don’t like it. So I’m adding basically an agreement post to support their answer - their post is not just their “opinion”, it’s the observation of those of us who have been here from the beginning and have seen the origin of words and the intention of the coining of terms and what happens and why we came up with those words in the first place.

The term “unicorn hunter” came first to refer to a particular type of person / couple who uses predatory and (& this is the important part) *improbable* practices to find a partner that is so specific and/or so unattainable and/or so unlikely to exist, that we called the partner they are looking for a “unicorn” because of it, and therefore the person / couple became “unicorn hunters”.

The History Of The Term Unicorn Hunter - https://joreth.dreamwidth.org/388631.html

We could have chosen another set of terms to describe this process, but the term “unicorn” (www.TheInnBetween.net/polyterms.html#unicorn) had some precedent. A lot of the early poly community was made up of people who came from the swinger community but found the lack of emotional connection unsatisfying and so built a new-to-them style of relationship that was more along what they were looking for.

In the swinger community, a “unicorn” is a bisexual woman who is willing to have a threesome with a couple and then go away without disrupting the primary couple.
 
So, when former swingers were trying to find more emotionally intimate multi-partner relationships, and when some of them brought some of their swinger habits with them, including searching for a bisexual woman *who would not disrupt the primary couple* even though this new style of emotionally intimate relationship would, by definition, disrupt the way they did things (I Love You, Just Don't Disrupt Anything - https://joreth.dreamwidth.org/275094.html), it was natural to adapt the term “unicorn” to a polyamorous purpose.

(https://www.instagram.com/p/BVOILerBElZ/)

But, remember, “unicorn” was never intended to apply to just bisexual poly women, not even bisexual poly women who are willing to be with two people in a preexisting relationship. We had a term for them back then - we called them bipoly women (www.TheInnBetween.net/polyterms.html#bipoly).

The “unicorn” bit was specifically because the person they were looking for was a fantasy, whereas bipoly women exist in abundance.

Some people are not familiar with the history or the deliberately intended insult in the term “unicorn hunter”, and think that a “unicorn” is simply a bisexual poly woman. Because of this, some bipoly women have started calling themselves “unicorns”.

While we want to encourage people to identify however feels right to them, and while we also want to encourage it when people “take back” offensive terms to turn around systems of oppression, this all becomes very problematic when poly people do it with the term “unicorn”.

Because the term “unicorn” *in the poly community* was never intended to apply to actual people. It was specifically chosen to refer to a construct that doesn’t exist, as a way to identify predatory behaviour. So it’s not really a term that should be “taken back” because it was never meant to apply to them in the first place.

And it’s a necessary term intended to discuss a deeply problematic, harmful set of behaviours in our community. People who do those things still exist and are still a problem. In fact, I would say they’re even worse now. It’s been almost 30 years and we still haven’t reached community consensus that objectifying and dehumanizing and fetishizing women is wrong.

Not only that, but they’ve become emboldened by another poly catchphrase “there is no one right way to do polyamory”. Sure, there is no ONE right way. That means that there are more than one path to successful poly relationships. But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any WRONG ways. Certain methods and practices are harmful and also less likely to work than other ways. These would be “wrong ways”.

But because the community embraced “there is no one right way”, it has gotten warped over the years into “there are no wrong ways”, which is absolutely not true. So we still need to talk about this problem. And we have not come up with any substitute terms that so eloquently and simply elucidate this specific problem.

“Unicorn” = mythical creature that does not exist.
“Hunter” = predator.

A unicorn hunter is a predator, someone who is harming others and the community, someone who is *hunting* a creature that they made up and that does not exist, to fulfill their own fantasies of power and purity, who is so filled with their own hubris and delusion that they chase down figments of their imagination for their own gratification.

It’s a beautiful, elegant metaphor. Many of our early terms have fallen out of favor and been replaced by new terms that better resonate with the newer generations of polys. This one has stuck around because it’s so useful.

So when bipoly women choose to identify as unicorns *in the polyamorous context of a bipoly women who is willing to date two people who are in a preexisting relationship* (as opposed to outside context uses of the term “unicorn”), it muddies up our collective dialog about a systemic problem in our communities that need to be addressed.

Polys are all about “communication, communication, communication”. But then we take existing terms and tweak the definitions in a Motte & Bailey tactic (https://www.morethantwo.com/blog/2016/06/can-polyamorous-hierarchies-ethical-part-1-tower-village & https://www.morethantwo.com/blog/2016/06/can-polyamorous-hierarchies-ethical-part-2-influence-control) and then get upset when people don’t see us as how we want them to see us.

Sure, language evolves and all of that. But the need for the term still exists, and if you’re trying to “evolve” a word while we still need that word with its original definition, then people are going to make some assumptions based on the original definition whether you like it or not.

So a “unicorn” is not a real person, within the context of polyamory. It’s a construct used to illustrate the predatory, harmful behaviours of objectification, dehumanization, and fetishization of certain people in the poly community.

Some people have tried to strip the term “unicorn hunter” of its intended offensive definition in order to avoid accountability for their harmful behaviour. Some people have similarly tried to strip the term “unicorn” of its intended illustrative construct because unicorns are pretty and magical and some people like thinking of themselves as pretty and magical.

But the term was coined for a reason. And that reason was not complimentary.
 
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)
I'm considering two new poly terms for the glossary. This is the definition:
a cishet person (usually male) who fetishizes his partner's bi/queer sexual orientation and who uses said partner to obtain new partners to fulfill his fantasy of group sex with people of the genders/orientations he is fetishizing.
Which do y'all like?

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

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

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

Thoughts?

(P.S. - I didn't come up with either of these terms so I have no emotional connection to them. I saw them in a poly forum and I think it's a useful concept to include in a glossary - I mean, since I have terms like "cowboy", "cuckoo", "polywog", and "french kiss" in there)
joreth: (polyamory)
We have this damn argument constantly in poly forums.  Somebody calls someone a "unicorn hunter", somebody gets upset at the insult, someone else demands that there's nothing wrong with being a unicorn hunter, someone chimes in that they're a unicorn and proud of it, someone else tries to explain what the term means and where it came from, and then everyone yells "language evolves!" and "language police!" to justify whichever position they happen to hold.

And I'm fucking sick of it.

The history of this term is hard to cite sources for, because nobody really documented it at the time.   I mean, all our conversations were in text on the internet, but in old BBS boards and email lists and geocities websites that are all defunct now.

So basically it's left up to the old-timers like me who were around back then to try and explain things, and then the young'ins come along with no understanding of our cultural history and how that shapes our cultural present, insisting that things aren't the way that we experienced.  Most don't even realize that we *have* a "cultural history".   But the word "polyamory" was coined in 1992, and it was coined because people were already doing this thing that we wanted to name.  26 years is long enough to create a sense of culture, to create art and history.  It's long enough that we are now multi-generational.

So let me tell you a little story about How Things Used To Be.

The polyamorous community did not invent the term "unicorn" for a bisexual woman.   That came a long time ago, at least from the 1970s, back in the disco swingers' era.  It might even have origins earlier than that (as the wife-swapping version of swinging is said to have evolved out of WWII with soldiers on deployment, so swinging has been around even longer but it may or may not have been applicable to have "unicorns" in other iterations of the Lifestyle) , but since I was never part of the swinger community, I am not as up on swinger history as I am on poly history.  I only know it as tangential to poly history.

So, anyway, in the '70s swinger communities, a "unicorn" was a bisexual woman willing to have threesomes with a straight MF couple, and then go away again without causing any complications like coming between the primary couple or trying to "steal" anyone.  I'll be honest, I don't know if there is any subtext or any implications in that context.  I don't know if it was considered an insult or a compliment or if it was neutral.   Again, I wasn't part of that community, I just know that this is where I first heard the term to refer specifically to a bisexual woman.

However, when the poly community adopted it, the term was definitely used derisively.  When we used the term, we weren't actually calling bisexual women "unicorns", like we were complimenting them as magical beings.  We were insulting the people who were using women as breathing sex toys by accusing them of "hunting" for a mythological creature who didn't exist anywhere except in their own imaginations, to fulfill their own fantasies of capturing such a wondrous creature.

Back when the term first started getting widespread use, those of us who used it were not calling bisexual women "unicorns".  Bisexual polyamorous women were "bipoly" women.   That was our term for them back then.  We liked portmanteaus back then more than the slang today that prefers metaphor or pop culture references.  We used to say that you couldn't go to a poly potluck (because back then we didn't have "discussion meetings" or conferences, we had potlucks) and swing a stuffed parrot (because that was the symbol we used in public for people to find our gatherings) without hitting a bipoly woman.

We weren't calling anyone "unicorns".  Unicorns don't exist.  That was the whole point of using that term.  A "unicorn" was symbolic, not a real person.   It was symbolic of all the hopes and dreams and naiveté from monogamous couples curious about "opening up" their marriages.  As the unicorn has always been symbolic of hopes and dreams and naiveté.

And power.

The unicorn has also always been a symbol of power.   The brave and courageous hunter or prince or knight charges into the forest, seeking that symbol of purity and beauty and grace, hoping to overpower such a powerful beast, kill it, and tear its horn from its head to drink from and steal its magical properties for himself.  There are actual, real thrones made out of narwhal horns and billed as unicorn horns.  Ground "unicorn" horn powder was sold as medicine and magic.

Or perhaps the hero sought the unicorn be found worthy by the magical creature who only appears to the pure of heart to bestow its blessing.   Every myth and legend about the unicorn says something about how the men see themselves, or how they see their gods (which are further reflections of themselves).  Even the legends about unicorns being irresistibly drawn to virgins to lay their heads in the young maidens' laps and sleep (so leaving a young girl alone in a forest as a trap for a unicorn was a thing) says something about powerful men and their values.

The unicorn has never been about the animal.  It has always been about the ones seeking it.

So when the poly community adopted the term "unicorn hunter", we used it in this manner.  A lot of our early lexicon-creators liked literary allusion and historical references (some a little more "pseudo" than others).  The arrogance and ignorance and entitlement of the wealthy white fictional and real historical men who hunted unicorns was more than applicable to what we saw happening in our own communities, with hetero couples trading on their couple privilege to maintain an uneven power distribution in their relationships.

Back then, we didn't have the language of "disempowerment" and "privilege" ... not that this language didn't exist, but it hadn't made it into widespread social use as it is now.   A lot of us made a lot of semantics mistakes back in the '90s and early Naughties because we didn't have this language.  But we were talking about the same things we continue to talk about today - power.

I came into the poly community as a single, bi-curious woman back in the '90s.  I did not start out "opening up" a monogamous relationship.  I wasn't introduced to poly society as part of a "couple".  I didn't have the safety net of an existing relationship to fall back on if this "poly thing" didn't work out.  If my relationships ended, I didn't have an "existing primary" that I could "close up" with and try to go back to being monogamous, or who would stick by me as we tried again as a single unit, I was left alone to mourn the loss of my relationships, and possibly the loss of several relationships if I also lost my metamours in the breakup.  Unlike those couples who only lost a girlfriend, I lost an entire  *family* when a couple decided to dump me for not living up to their magical unicorn standards. 

From my perspective, the community was made up of two kinds of people - hetero couples and Free Agents.  Long before we had the term "solo poly", we had Free Agents - people who dated and who had partners but who always operated as individuals whether they had many partners, one, or none.   The men who were Free Agents were routinely looked upon with contempt for their callousness, lack of empathy, and selfishness.  Even by women who were also Free Agents.

But the women who were Free Agents... I did not identify with that term.   I had known too many men who treated polyamory as a way to have lots of sex without doing any emotional labor in their relationships (not that we had *that* term either).  What I wanted was to build intentional family.  So I didn't identify with the Free Agents.  But because I always maintained my own identity and independence whether I was partnered or not, I was seen, essentially, as a Free Agent by the hetero couples, who almost exclusively did hierarchical polyamory.  The fact that I wanted a "family" but was "unattached" made me extremely attractive to hierarchical polys looking for a bipoly woman to "add to their relationship".

So let me tell you how people treated me.  I have a whole inbox from an old poly dating forum filled with nothing but straight men asking me to join their households either as an equal threesome or as "sister-wives", raise the children, keep the house, and manage the chicken farm.

No, seriously, there was one in particular that actually opened up correspondence with me looking for a co-wife to raise chickens in Montana.  Or, South Dakota, or something.  And when I complained about his email online, a half dozen other women responded that he had sent them the exact same email, verbatim.   A form letter seeking a co-wife to run his chicken farm.

Many of them didn't start right out the gate like this guy, asking if I'd be interested in becoming a wife.  Most of them went through the motions of pretending to want to get to know me first, but really, all of these meetings and correspondences were interviews.  They had a job position to fill - co-wife - and they wanted to see if I could fit into that position.

The first couple of emails from the first couple of guys ... it's easy to overlook the feeling of being "hunted" at first.  Especially if you're in a category of person who, statistically speaking, never gets hunted and is expected to be the hunter.  Complain about catcalls to a lot of men, for instance, and many of them will respond with "I *never* get complimented!  I would *love* it if women would just yell out a compliment on the street sometime!"

When you're in a category of person who has a lot of social capital and a lot of cultural power, even if you, personally, have setbacks and challenges in your life, it's really difficult to understand how someone without that capital and power might feel on the receiving end of attention from people who have it.  Because part of the advantage of all that capital and power is the freedom from experiencing life without it and not ever needing to even notice what life is like without it.

So, the first few emails just sound like ... dating app messages.   But the next few emails, and the next dozen emails, and the next hundred emails, over years and years and years of them all being the same thing - hetero couples not listening to me, not seeing me, not getting to know me, all of them looking for what I can do for them and not really caring about who I am or what *I* may be getting out of the deal...

It's predatory, it's demoralizing, it's depressing, and it's dehumanizing.

Hence, "unicorn hunters".

So, before our history is lost to ... well, history, I wanted to make a record of what it was like back then.  I wanted to put in black and white what our intentions were when we were still coming up with the terms that people throw around, and away, these days with careless abandon.

Sure, "language evolves" and words change meaning.  But a word's *origins* are important. Words, out of context, might have just a simple definition. But within context, the word can say a whole lot more than just a line in a dictionary.  The origins of a word can tell you what a culture's *atmosphere* was like when the word was coined.   It can show you insight into how we got to any given point and when we turned a corner and where the culture was destined to go from there.  It can explain the subjective experience of the participants of being in that culture.

Words have power.   We started using the phrase "unicorn hunters" to describe a very specific set of circumstances and a very specific type of people.  We needed that term because we needed to be able to discuss a very big and very real problem we were having.  If we couldn't discuss it, we couldn't address it.

And now we have people entering the community who were in diapers back when the term was first being coined, arguing about "evolving language" and "taking it back" and being "proud" to be unicorns, as if all our history doesn't matter.  We still need to talk about disempowerment in relationships and predatory behaviour in our community.  The need for the term still exists, whether that specific term has "evolved" or not.  But we don't have a replacement for a term that is still incredibly accurate.  And the words we *do* use to describe what we mean when we say "unicorn hunter" are received with even more offense.

Because that term is meant to be offensive.  It's meant to describe offensive behaviour.  That's what we always meant when we started using that term nearly three decades ago and that's what many of us still mean when we use it now.  People might want to erase all the subtext and context that comes with the term "unicorn hunter", but I want to make sure that we at least don't erase the history.  That history will tell us where we came from, and show us where we're going.  


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Jessica Burde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (polyamory)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joreth: (polyamory)
Hey! You are not "entering an existing relationship" or finding someone to "enter / join your existing relationship". You are creating a WHOLE NEW SUITE OF RELATIONSHIPS!

Please just fucking stop saying that phrase.

YOU ARE NOT ENTERING / FINDING SOMEONE TO ENTER AN EXISTING RELATIONSHIP

YOU ARE NOT ENTERING / FINDING SOMEONE TO ENTER AN EXISTING RELATIONSHIP

YOU ARE NOT ENTERING / FINDING SOMEONE TO ENTER AN EXISTING RELATIONSHIP

YOU ARE NOT ENTERING / FINDING SOMEONE TO ENTER AN EXISTING RELATIONSHIP

While we're at it:

You cannot protect your existing relationship from upheaval.

You cannot prevent your existing relationship from changing.

You cannot prevent your existing relationship from ending.

You cannot convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced that polyamory will be good for them.

You cannot guarantee that you will all make it out of this intact.

You cannot "go back" if it doesn't work out.

When you change the fundamental nature of your relationship, in any way - be it polyamory, having a baby, separation, moving in, closing it up, whatever - you CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP. It is no longer your existing relationship, it is a brand new one.  But that's never more true than when that change includes the number of people with an active participation in your relationship, such as having kids or getting new partners.

As a matter of fact, when you start adding people, you don't get a brand new relationship, you get 4 new relationships when there are 3 of you, and 11 new relationships when there are 4 of you, and the number goes up geometrically (if I recall correctly the math increase term) from there.

Maybe everything will all work out for the better. Maybe your relationship will change for the better. But it is no longer the same relationship.

If you have a baby, then your relationship *used* to be "child-free couple", but now it's "family". You are no longer a child-free couple and you never will be that same couple again. You might some day be "couple who lost a child", or "couple with grown children who no longer live at home". But you will never again be the same "never had kids together couple" that you were before the baby.

And you did not "add" that baby to your couple. You created a whole new family with a whole new person.

When you "add a third" or "open up", you are, just by virtue of even having the discussion, changing your relationship. You have changed it, and you can never go back to the time before you brought it up.  You can go back to being a couple again, but now you're "a couple who discussed / tried opening up". You will never be that pre-open couple ever again.

You cannot protect your relationship.

You cannot preserve your relationship.

All you can do is hope and work with intention so that your relationship continues to grow in ways that nourish everyone in the relationship. EVERYONE, not just the two of you.

But it might not. It might not grow and nourish everyone, or anyone. That is a possibility, no matter what you do, but it's pretty probable if you keep keep trying to "protect" things.

It's not the same relationship anymore. You are not "adding someone to an existing relationship". Just strike that phrase from your vocabulary and never utter it again.

In fact, don't just strike it, replace it with the repeated phrase above. Constantly remind yourself that you ARE NOT and CAN NOT do that.

If your relationship has any chance of continuing to grow in ways that nourish everyone in it, I promise you that it is through this reminder.
joreth: (polyamory)
"But WWWHHHYYYYY are you all so mean to unicorn hunters?!? We just want to be loved, like everyone else!"

Maybe because we've seen more than one post where a couple wants to "add a third", except the sex doll, er, I mean new hire, er, that is the "lucky lady" is trying to leave an abusive relationship, and the couple starts asking advice on whether they should risk their hearts with her because it looks like she's flaky and may "back out" of their relationship?

Like, the concern here, folks, isn't that someone you know and presumably care about is IS IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP THAT SHE CAN'T LEAVE, but that she might break *your* hearts by going back to her abuser. Because you getting "played" or "dumped" by someone WHO IS IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP is the real issue here. 0.o

"Yeah, but we're people too! Our feelings matter!"

Uh, no, not so much, not in this case. Your feelings really don't matter here because ABUSE. This is *exactly* what we're talking about when we complain about treating people like things, disrespecting agency, couple-centrism, etc.

This is why unicorn hunting is a bad thing.

"But we're part of a couple looking for a third, and we don't do THAT!"

Yeah, it's not this very specific situation that's the problem, this is just an especially egregious example that 1) is totally obvious to most people that the unicorn hunters are the fucked up ones, and 2) the unicorn hunters STILL can't tell what's wrong with them because they're the ones who described the situation in the first place, so they obviously don't think they're being problematic here.

There is an underlying mentality that is the problem, and it's a problem because that mentality manifests in a million different, often unanticipated ways. We can't always predict in what way the unicorn hunters will mistreat their "third", but we can predict that they will, and that all reasonable people will recognize it when they do but they will continue to feel that they are the ones being victimized by the circumstances.

Today, with this hypothetical couple, it's a girl who is trapped in an abusive relationship so badly that even though she's in the process of trying to escape, she may not make it but the couple's biggest concern is how bad their feelz will hurt if she gets sucked back in, with maybe some afterthought to how much "drama" she's bringing to the triad because of her abuser's actions with regard to her leaving him and/or dating them.

Tomorrow it might be someone being gaslighted to believe that the triad fell apart because she was too "needy" or because she "changed" when she "knew the rules when she signed up", and what a "drama queen" she is for having wants/needs beyond what everyone agreed in the beginning.

The next day, it might be some poor guy who dared to fall in love with some girl who isn't allowed to feel her feelings because she signed a contract, maybe even literally, giving all her future feelings away to the couple, thereby introducing "drama" by developing feelings that she promised she would never have.

A woman tries to escape abuse, and signs point to a high chance of failure. But the issue on everyone's mind is ... what about the couple she promised to date once she escaped? What about their feelings about her flaking out on them? And what about the drama she'll cause if she does leave and he makes trouble for everyone and she flip-flops and possibly goes back to him later anyway? What about the couple?!

#UnicornHuntingIsProhibitedHere #CouplePrivilege #dehumanizing #NeedFulfillmentMachines #ThePeopleInTheRelationshipNeedToBeMoreImportantThanTheRelationship #EmbeddedCoersion #OutOfTheFryingPanIntoTheFryer
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

#Irony: #Polyamory is explicitly supposed to be about "more than two", and yet every resource we have, every discussion, every fear, every relationship rule, everything centers around couples. We have to "protect the primary couple"; we have to "respect the original or preexisting couple"; we have to develop communication so that we can improve our relationships (implied to be between couples); we assuage fears by talking about how the new relationship can improve the old *couple*'s relationship; singles and solo polys wonder how to get into couples "of their own"; and dog forbid we neglect to discuss how to "open up" an existing couple! ...

"The Couple" takes on a life of its own and soon it's a battle between The Couple and everyone who is not part of The Couple. That goes for the single interloper who is a threat to The Couple and yet is also the same person they want to "include in their relationship" and that goes for everyone who has seen this story play out a million times before and tries to warn The Couple that we already know the ending to this story.

Y'know what? Fuck "The Couple". I don't give a rat's ass about your relationships anymore. I certainly don't "respect" your coercive, destructive, exclusionary relationship. I care about the people in the relationships, and that includes everyone that the people in The Couple are about to sacrifice on the alter to The Couple. I have partners of my own. I have life partners. I have entangled partners. I have partners I care deeply about and who share significant portions of my life with me. Fuck those "couples" too.

I want to focus on building *partnerships* with my lovers and metamours and friends and family. A partnership isn't *inherently* limited to a "couple" and no one dyad gets to take precedence over anyone else and certainly no *relationship* gets to take precedence over any *person*. The partnership must always exist to serve the people in the partnership and never the other way around. Sometimes my partnerships do include just two of us, and that's fine, but fuck The Couple as its own entity. I care about the people, even the two who make up The Couple, but I do not care about The Couple as if it were a living, breathing person in its own right. I do not grant The Couple personhood status. People are more important than The Couple.

And fuck those cousins of The Couple who elevate The Triad or The Quad or The Tribe or whatever fucking group name you have to the same status as The Couple. You won't have as much social support as The Couple, so you might think that your little relationship unit deserves to be in a protected class, but a bully is still a bully even among minority groups so fuck your application of The Couple filter over your technically-more-than-two relationship too.

And if you try to argue semantics with me over what you think makes a "couple" and whether that's different from a "partnership" or not, fuck you too, you're missing the point.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
http://the-orbit.net/brutereason/2016/04/04/one-penis-policies/

I had a partner once who, when I found out that their pattern of both he and his wife only dating women was partially instigated by his discomfort with having his wife date a man and not fully because she was really more into women than men, I got really upset with him and pointed out the inherent sexism. I went through the usual objections, including the idea of ownership over his wife's body, etc., but right now I want to focus on his reaction to the proposal that the reason why he wasn't bothered by his wife having female lovers but was regarding male lovers is because he, fundamentally, believed that "lesbian sex / women's relationships don't count".

It basically boiled down to "I can't compete with other women and they can't compete with me because we have different parts, so I'm not threatened by them because they offer her something she can't get from a relationship with me, but another man can give her the same thing that I can, therefore she might leave me if she has access to another man" with the further assumption that said other man would necessarily be "better" in some way to facilitate the threat that she would leave if she only had the chance to know some other man.

This idea equates people with their genitals. A) No one can "give her the same thing [you] can" because NO ONE ELSE IS YOU. B) Since your relationship is not purely sexual, a woman can also give her the "same" things that you do, which are good sex, companionship, understanding, support, love, fun times, arguments, and everything else that makes up your relationship in addition to inserting your penis into her vagina. C) Women can also insert penises into vaginas - either the ones that are part of their own bodies or the ones bought in the store.

Since this argument is literally condensing all of human romantic / sexual interaction to which body parts people can mash together, it requires an unspoken assumption that mashing two particular set of body parts together is more important than mashing any other set of body parts together because mashing those other body parts together (or, y'know, any other part about relating to each other) couldn't possibly compare to or threaten the act of mashing that one set of body parts together.

BY DEFINITION, being afraid that someone else's vagina coming into contact with someone else's penis might make that vagina-haver discard everything about your relationship that makes it special and break up with you, but not being afraid of someone else's vagina coming into contact with literally any other body part from some other person will do the same thing is erasing the validity and legitimacy of relationships between women (going with the position of those who defend this policy of equating vagina-having with "women").

I also want to address the idea of using rules with what's called "sunset clauses" - a specific time limit for when the rule will end. This is a legitimate use of rules to work through specific issues and I have used them myself. However, I remain suspicious of them as "rules" - limitations that one person imposes on (or asks nicely of) another person(s) with regards to how they interact with other people to mitigate one's own issues, again, primarily because of this same former partner.

He and his wife also used the excuse of sunset clauses to justify rules, and they used these as "evidence" that they were both "getting better" and experiencing "personal growth". What would happen is that he would have a bad reaction to the idea of his wife doing a thing with a guy, the wife would hold off on doing that thing until the husband felt better, then when he could deal, he allowed her to do the thing. Their position was that, since the wife was building an ever-growing list of specific activities that she could do with men, clearly the husband was "getting better". I thought that sounded like it too.

I was wrong.

Yes, the wife was able to check off additional specific sexual activities over time that she was able to engage in, but neither of them ever got out of the mindset that *he* had a right to control access to *her* body or that sexual relationships with other men was somehow inherently more "threatening" than sexual relationships with women. There was never any actual personal growth happening, just a desensitization of specific sexual activities and positions. That is not "working on it" and it is not "getting better". It's basically just moving the goalposts while defending the same basic premise.

There is a time for when people have such a strong emotional reaction to something that the first thing they can focus on is just desensitization. I've used this tactic myself. But the point of desensitizing myself to an idea is to "numb" the emotional reaction enough that I can see through it to the root issue, and then actually do work on the root issue itself, so that I won't *need* to continuously desensitize myself to something that, ultimately, has nothing to do with me in the first place (i.e. my partner's other relationships).

But too many people stop at the desensitization process and think that, now that they're "numb" to this one thing, problem solved! Then that exact same issue gets triggered by a totally different thing, and they think "well, last time this desensitization made it more bearable, let's do that again!" It's the emotional equivalent, to borrow the pill analogy from the article, of taking shit loads of ibuprofen for my endometriosis. Every month, I'm wracked with pain and forced to spend a day or two in the fetal position, so I take ibuprofen to numb the pain enough to barely function. That is not a solution! A solution would be to attack the endo at the root cause so that I don't have to rely on copious amounts of drugs that may ultimately damage my liver from chronic use ever again!

Unfortunately, our medical industry is also misogynistic and has not put any effort into solving the root cause of endo, so millions of women are stuck desensitizing ourselves just to make it to work every month or ripping out a part of our internal organs which may or may not fix the problem anyway.

So don't let your cultural misogynistic programming work like our cultural misogynistic medical industry - we should not accept as sufficient the mere desensitization of emotional issues or hacking out deep parts of ourselves just to function. Focus on solving the actual problem of not seeing queer relationships as equally legitimate to hetero ones so that you don't need that mental ibuprofen anymore.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Here's a surprisingly effective gaslighting tactic that I find in poly groups that is less likely to be appropriate in monogamous pairings:

First, either find people who want desperately to belong to *a* group or your group specifically, or build a group of people who learn to place belonging to that group as an important part of their identity or goals (i.e. make the relationship more important than the people in it; protect "the marriage" or "the family" at all costs, etc.).

Next, whenever someone does something that you don't like, get the rest of the group to side with you against the other person.

Finally, make the act of disagreement a hinge issue that can affect the other person's inclusion into the group, whether it is or isn't.

This places an additional burden on the person as an "outsider", as someone who could lose, not just this argument or this concession, but their place in the group entirely. Simply by having a disagreement, their position as a member of the group becomes threatened. It's not enough that they have a disagreement with someone they love or that the outcome of the disagreement may mean that they lose something (either the thing they're disagreeing about or the partner in the event of a breakup), but that the very nature of having that disagreement means they *have* lost something - belongingness.

When the importance of belonging to the group is high enough, individuals will backpedal on the issue they disagree about. They will either make a concession for the "greater good" or they will "decide" that the issue isn't all that important anyway. It becomes more important to maintain group cohesion than it does to protect and maintain one's individuality.

Once one's own individuality is less important than the group, one's own needs and rights are less important. This is how you get people to subsume their identities in a relationship. This is how you can coerce a poly person into an abusive relationship even with "multiple sets of eyes" watching.

Example:
Riley: I'd like to start dating someone new.

Quinn: The group doesn't agree. Why would you hurt all of us like that? Don't you care about us? Doesn't all our history and our commitments mean anything to you?

Riley: I'm sorry, I won't date anyone new. It wasn't that big of a deal anyway, just an idea I was tossing around.

-----

Jordan: So, things with Sam have been going pretty well lately. I think we could be taking things to the next level.

Alex: Wait a minute, what about us? Your time with us is already stretched thin. Can't you see how much this hurts Shannon? You made a promise to us to put us first. Between this and your school and your part-time job, you don't have enough time for everyone. Besides, what about safer sex? *We* don't feel comfortable with *you* taking on extra risk. That's not a choice that we would make for the group. You're endangering the people you care about. You need to break up with Sam right now.

Jordan: OK, you're right, I'm sorry, I didn't realize how much I was hurting you. I'll end things with Sam.
In both of these examples, the needs of the group were more important than the needs of the individual, and the otherwise good and wonderful quality of compassion within the individual was exploited to get them to give up something of themselves in favor of maintaining the group. Jordan's relationship with Sam wasn't anything done TO the group, but Jordan was convinced that the relationship was a direct, active action to harm the group. Riley hadn't even done anything yet but was convinced that what they wanted to do wasn't really what they wanted to do because Quinn re-framed the argument to be about what Riley once said they wanted before circumstances or feelings had changed (or to rephrase what Riley had once said to make it seem like Riley had said those things).

Both of these examples are things that I either personally witnessed (as in, I saw the arguments in question, I'm not just "believing" someone's personal retelling of a story that I wasn't there for) as an outside observer or was subjected to myself. Both of these examples represent more than one case. Both of these examples flew under my own radar for a while because I thought I knew what abuse would look like based on my own experience with abuse but I didn't. It took extreme scenarios before I could finally connect dots and see that coercion exists in the very foundations of certain poly community "principles" and "values" - namely those fear-based principles that got grandfathered into the poly community by people still carrying around their Monogamous Mindset.

I am *still* a proponent of family-based polyamory. I still greatly prefer the network style of poly that includes close friendships with metamours and a balance of group cohesion with independence. But I rail against couple privilege and polyfi and unicorn hunting because those systems are set up from the beginning to undermine that balance. It is absolutely possible to be part of a close-knit poly group and to compensate for the pressures of the group on the individual. But the key here is that you have to *compensate* for them because they are built into the foundations, between our cultural privileges and our own human tendencies towards tribalism, these are things we have to guard against.

But in poly forums, I see too much protection for these systems and not enough safeguards. This is how abuse runs rampant in our communities.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
#‎UnicornHunters‬ talk about adding a new girlfriend to their relationship like they're adding on a new room to their house. The house is already built, already has the foundation, the electrical, the plumbing, the layout already designed. All they get is this new room, but the house essentially stays the same up to the doorway where the new room has been added.

The reality is that building a triad is more like building a new house from scratch, or perhaps even simply buying a new one. A married couple decides that their current house isn't meeting their relationship needs anymore - they want something a little bigger, a little different, a little less conventional.

Their old house has a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, and two bedrooms. It's nice, but they'd like something more. The new house also has a kitchen and a living room, but it has 2 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms and a smaller room billed as an "office". There are lots of similarities between the old house and the new house - lots of the rooms serve the same function, both are made of a wood frame with drywall and plaster and siding and roof tiles and double-pane windows and both have electrical wiring and plumbing. But it's still a totally different house in addition to just having more rooms to accommodate the growing family.

The house is in a different neighborhood, so you have to drive around a bit to learn where the grocery store is and the nearby restaurants and the best path now to get to work and the movie theater. The neighbors, while still human beings, are different people and you have to get to know them and develop new connections that might look different than the ones you had with the old neighbors. You might be a little more inconvenienced in this new house because you have to drive past a school during school hours and traffic backs up making you late for work if you don't start leaving earlier.

It's an adjustment, moving into a new house. Ultimately, it might be the best decision you ever made, and your life will get better for it in the long run. But in the beginning, you might have to make some adjustments, like finding new paths and doing some internal remodeling or redecorating when your old house was already furnished exactly the way you liked it. Or, it might be a mistake and you might find yourself moving again in just a short time.

But if you really wanted the exact same house, only with one more room, I'd recommend you don't make that new room out of a human being. Take up a hobby or a pet. But a person is going to be disruptive. A person is going to change things far more than adding a door at the end of the hall where there used to be a wall - something that makes your house look mostly exactly the same and that you can only tell the difference if you go into that space, but that you can ignore if you just close the door.

Don't think of it as "adding a new girlfriend to our relationship" like she's a rumpus room tacked onto the back end of the house. Think of it more like getting a whole new house that, while it has many similar elements, is still a totally different building that will contain your family.

And wait to build that house until everyone who is going to live in it is present to offer their preferences for what they want in a house that they're going to live in too. Maybe you and the new person all agree that they should live in a separate mother-in-law suite in the backyard, rather than being attached to the main house, but they should still be there to help design that mother-in-law suite themselves, since they're the ones who have to live in it. But if they really are going to be part of the main house, then they really ought to have an equal say in what color the walls are and what kind of layout they want, not just to move into a house that already exists and doesn't reflect their own personality or preferences.

Remember, people are not accessories to your existing marriage, nor are they extra rooms you tack on to your existing house. They are the architects of their own lives, and if you want them to share your life with you, then they need to be collaborators.

‪#‎UnicornHunting‬ ‪#‎polyamory‬ ‪#‎poly‬ ‪#‎polyamorous‬ ‪#‎OpenRelationships‬
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Listening to people justify giving romantic partners full access* to each other's phones & emails in the aftermath of a broken trust in order to rebuild that trust. Saying that because someone did something related to texting that was "against their rules", it sucks, but it might be a necessary way to regain the trust of the person who was betrayed.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

If someone has broken an agreement or betrayed the trust of the other person, giving someone full access to things that DON'T BELONG TO ONLY THE PERSON IN THE COUPLE IN QUESTION is not acceptable. Texts and other communication owned by the "betrayer" are not their sole property. Those communiques (and, more importantly, the thoughts and intimacy they contain) also belong to the person who sent them. You are not sharing something that is private to the person who broke the rule, you are sharing something that is private of someone who is not in the relationship where the broken trust occurred.

By insisting on full access to the communications of a third party, you are pawning off the burden of repairing your broken trust onto that third party. The *third person* is the one who has to shoulder the responsibility for the "betrayer's" actions and for the "betrayed's" fear. And not just that person who participated in whatever action constitutes a "betrayal", but ALL third parties who might communicate with the "betrayer" in that manner - every single person has to give up their own privacy (and potentially hamper their own intimacy, even platonic and familial ones) to assuage the "betrayed" and fix this now "broken" relationship. All friends, all family, even all future partners (for those in open relationships) have to pay for what the "betrayer" and some other person did.

If your relationship is now "broken" and you are trying to rebuild trust between the two of you, it is your ethical responsibility to find a way to work through that pain and fear in a way that makes the two of YOU shoulder the entire burden for the work involved. It is not ethically right to violate the privacy and intimacy of people who are not in your relationship, who did not break any agreements (because they didn't make those agreements with you since they are not your partner), and who are not trying to rebuild any broken trust with you. New metamours may be trying to *build* trust with you, but they should not have added onto their load the responsibility of *REbuilding* the trust that someone else broke.

If you are choosing to put the work into this relationship so that you can eventually trust your partner again, that is your choice and you need to shoulder the burdens of your own fears regarding your partner's lack of trustworthiness. I'm not saying it doesn't suck. I'm saying it's YOUR burden to carry. All too often, poly people carry into polyamory with them bad habits from monogamy that go unchallenged in monogamous culture.

Until the industrial revolution, and really until WWI, marriage was not considered the One Relationship To Rule Them All.  In fact, just the opposite.  Philosophical treatises were written and sermons were preached condemning the act of making one's spouse the sole source of all types of support.  People were expected to find emotional, financial, labor, and sometimes even sexual support from all manner of relationships other than their spouse.  Placing one's spouse in a position of one's Everything was considered to be an affront to God himself because it was seen as replacing God with a human being.  Men and women were expected to have strong emotional ties to people of the same gender, and in some eras, those ties were expected to be stronger than the ties to one's spouse.  Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, extended family in general were expected to live under the same roof, or at least nearby, to help with the labor of running a household and raising children.  One's pastor or preacher was expected to carry the burden of one's religious commitments and spiritual support.  And, in certain eras and locations, sex with one's spouse was considered a necessity for procreation but sex for pleasure was expected to be saved for one's lovers.  It was considered "unseemly" to be "too in love" or too infatuated or too attracted to one's own spouse.  That wasn't their role.

But then, somewhere along the line, mainly about the time that the industrial cities took over as holding the bulk of the population, all that changed.  With famine and war, people left the countryside in droves and flooded the urban centers, leaving behind extended family, generational churches, and best friends.  The nuclear family took over because single adults left their entire network behind to make a living in the big cities and started raising families alone, while existing families could often only pack up themselves (the spouses and kids) to search for a "better life" in the city, again leaving behind their support networks.  Suddenly, spouses HAD to become one's Everything because all they had was each other.

Although the U.S. has made attempts to build other sorts of networks from the wreckage the Urban Influx left on the old-style networks, the nuclear family and the myth of the One reigns supreme.  We have elevated the role of the spouse (and by extension, any singular romantic partner) to such a degree that people, even those of us conscientious objectors who ought to know better, can't even see the ethical dilemma with privileging one role above all others.  When faced with questions like "should your spouse have unrestricted access to your text messages", we don't even blink an eye when we shout "of course!"  That's not even a question for most people - it's taken for granted that spouses would share everything.  Even those things that don't belong to the other spouse to share.  It's written into marriage vows.  It's part of the cultural fabric.  And if some third party would dare to suggest that this thing here doesn't belong solely to the spouse in question to be giving permission to access, it's just flat out assumed that the romantic primary couple has "priority" so of course anything belonging even in part to the spouse belongs entirely to the spouse and simultaneously belongs to the other spouse.  Requests for privacy are seen as direct challenges to the primacy of the couple.

Personally, if my romantic relationship isn't strong enough to accommodate for individual privacy, I would say that the relationship isn't as "primary" as one would think.  The specialness and strength of my relationships and of my role within those relationships comes from the connection itself which is comprised of the individuals that make up the relationship, and nothing can take that away short of the individuals themselves.  Including the rights of the individual within the relationships.  Once the rights and integrity and very personhood of the individuals within the relationship are seen as less important than the relationship itself, the relationship is inherently doomed because the foundation of the relationship is the individuals in it.

So no one has "unrestricted access" or "full access" to those paths of intimacy, including communication, that involve anyone other than the two of us on that path together.  Some of my partners and metamours may have emergency access, but that is not "full access" or "unrestricted access".  Attempting to access the communications and therefore possible paths of intimacy of my other partners and loved ones is seen as a boundary violation, both my own boundaries and those of the other people, by the one doing the accessing.  It is understood that the wrongdoing here is in the accessing of data, not in the keeping of privacy.

When I was a teenager, my sister used to sneak into my room and steal my clothing and my cassette tapes.  No amount of shouting or sneaking into her room to steal them back would stop her.  I begged my parents for a lock on my door to keep her out.  They responded that a locked door would enable me to hide things from THEM, and as my parents, they had a right to access every space in the house, including my space.  I had no right to privacy as their daughter living on their property.  These are the kinds of assumptions that we bring with us into poly relationships - property and ownership of other people - their bodies and their minds.


As a child, I knew this was wrong.  As an adult, I know now why.  This is a violation of my very autonomy, the thing that makes me a person.  So, in my romantic relationships I can leave the metaphorical door unlocked because everyone knows that opening that door without an emergency-based reason would harm the relationship between myself and the person who opened that door.  My partners are not children or pets who can't be trusted to stay out of my room, nor are they overprotective parents who think that I am not entitled to my own autonomy.  Should I ever feel the need or the desire to lock my door, my partners understand that it's my room to lock and they didn't have a right to access that space anyway.  But, because they understand this, I can leave the door unlocked for safety purposes and everything that anyone gives me that I keep in that room is safe from anyone else getting to it.

I understand the desire to infringe on someone else's rights in order to make the bad feelings go away.  I understand how scary it is to shoulder my own burdens in a relationship where there is fear, insecurity, and broken trust.  I've been there, I've done that.  To this day, I may feel a strong enough fear to prompt me to ask to violate someone's boundaries for my own comfort.  But the key is that I do not assume it is my right to do so, and I must shoulder the burden myself to do the work on repairing the broken trust and calming that fear.  The allure of making someone else carry one's own burden is strong.  It will take everyone's effort to stand up to that allure and to create a culture that does not support the violation of other people's boundaries, privacy, and intimacy in service to our own fears and pain.



* By "full access", I do not mean that one *must* keep a lock on their phone and *never* show any texts to one's partner.  My phone doesn't even have a lock because it's a dumb flip phone, and I have a shared document online with passwords and other instructions for access to my files in the event of emergencies where someone else needs to run my life on my behalf.  But my partners have no interest in accessing my data short of an emergency, and everyone who communicates with me has a reasonable expectation that what they say to me will be held in confidence if they ask for it.  When they communicate with me, they know that they are communicating *with me*.  They do not have to communicate with me under the assumption that they are also communicating or sharing with someone else.  Assuming that all communications will be shared with someone else creates a built-in filter that hampers and infringes on the intimacy we can build together because they can only build as much intimacy with me as they are willing to build with this other person who will have access to that intimacy.

Partners who ask for "full access", in this context, are not asking for pragmatic, emergency-based access, nor do they technically have access but a lack of interest in accessing data.  Those are different situations and one that I am not addressing, so please don't derail the comments with "I can read my husband's texts because we trust each other but I don't because I don't care / we trust each other."  That's not what I'm talking about.  "Full access", in this context, is when one partner is suspected (or known) of possible relationship agreement violations and the other partner deliberately goes into their data (or wants the ability to do so) in order to check up on them.  They either want to police their activity like a child who can't be trusted to do their homework without the teacher sending home a homework sheet that the parents check off every night, or they want the threat of checking their activity to act as a deterrent to prevent their partner from misbehaving.

And these people will justify their actions or their request to violate privacy on the grounds that their partner has already proven that they can't be trusted, therefore punitive and corrective action is necessary.  That or if an infidelity of some kind hasn't actually happened, they will hand-wave away their violations with things like "if he's not hiding anything, then it shouldn't matter if I have access" and other hand-wavy justifications like the ones my parents used to deny me a lock on my door, which all have the underlying root of couple privilege and ownership.  It's not about "hiding" things, it's about treating partners as adults who have the right to make their own decisions (even bad ones), and about respecting the autonomy of both partners and third parties, AND about carrying one's own relationship burdens and responsibilities without pawning the work off onto someone else.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
www.elephantjournal.com/2014/10/when-emotional-abuse-looks-a-lot-like-love/
"Because abusers see their partner merely as an extension of themselves rather than their own person with every right to their own opinions and limitations, boundaries are often blurred."
This. This so clearly and succinctly explains the problem I have with our culture's view on relationships. And this toxic attitude has seeped into the poly community. It starts as the One True Love fantasy. It morphed into the Soulmate dream and the "two halves of one whole" myth. When we subsume our identity into the relationship, and when our partners accept that submission, that enables abuse even if the abuser never *intended* to abuse or be malicious.

The act of viewing a partner as an extension of oneself rather than an independent person who has chosen to entangle their life with one is an abusive act. Merely seeing a partner as an extension is a dehumanizing event and robs them of agency, even if you are "benign" about what you do with that view.

When it moves into polyamory, we see this in closed groups and in typical unicorn hunting "add a third to our relationship". I shouldn't have to say this, but I will because I do have to: this is not a commentary on the *structure* of triads or of core couples with extramarital or extrarelationship partners. This is about the *mentality* that often leads to a particular structure rather than other structures because those structures are so compatible with abusive mentalities. It is possible to be in a triad that is not abusive. I was in one myself. But the structure of a pre-existing couple wanting to add a very specific sort of person to "complete" their household has, at its very foundations, the script for abuse.

It's right there in the descriptions - "complete us", "add to our relationship". This could be a quad or a quint or anything else. It's the context, which is why motivations are so important.

Abusers see their partners as extensions of themselves. Couples who see their "secondaries" or their "thirds" as an extension of themselves or an extension of their relationship are starting out with the exact same dehumanizing, agency-removing viewpoint as abusers. People in quads that put the "family" group above the needs of the people in it are dehumanizing their partners, which removes their agency, which *fundamentally* removes the ability to consent.

I was in an 6-person group that was ostensibly "open" (because I don't do closed relationships). Some members viewed the other members as extensions of themselves via the family group. This led directly to abuse.

It's not the structure, it's the mindset. It's just that there aren't a whole lot of dehumanizing abusers out there deliberately setting up *open* networks. That's too difficult to control.

But a triad filled with unexamined gender assumptions and gender and/or racial privilege, with a dash of cultural discrimination in the form of couple privilege is much more logistically easier to control because those things are tools for control, as well as including built-in support for isolation and other common abuse tactics.

Poly folk are so busy reinventing the wheel and thinking that mono-based scripts don't apply to us, that we're all too ready to ignore and rationalize away abuse under the well-intentioned but very damaging rose-colored lens of "there's no Right Way" and "truth is relative" and "we are trailblazers making up our own society as we go".

It's so very easy to hide abuse when the culture has its own persecution complex mixed with our fucking harmful American Rugged Individualism. Galileo Effect, Dunning-Kruger Effect, No True Scotsman, and our fantastically good innate ability for self-deception - it's past time to stop harboring abuse in our communities and in our relationships.
 
Share The 8 Inforgraphic - 8 Warning Signs Of An Abusive Relationship
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
"But we need rules to keep people from lying to us!"

I got news for you honey, rules don't keep people from lying to you, they only tell people willing to lie what they need to lie about. An honest person and a liar look exactly the same ... until after you discover the lie, and by then it's too late. Rules won't stop someone from lying because, and I'm gonna let you in on a little secret here ... someone willing to lie to you won't care that there's a rule against lying. It's like someone who is intent on murder isn't going to say "oh, you mean it's illegal for me to own a gun? Oh, well, I guess I won't go murder then!" Being against the rules isn't what stops people from lying, cheating, or hurting us.

But I'll tell you what does stop them from doing those things, most of the time. Respecting people's autonomy, giving them the freedom to make their own decisions, and providing enough safe space for them to tell you things that you might find difficult to hear - that's what prevents most people from lying.

It's kind of amazing how much more willing people are to be honest to you if they believe that it's safe to be honest to you. Lying takes effort. It takes work. But our society rewards lying and punishes telling hard truths. This doesn't mean, of course, that you're not allowed to react or have bad feelings when you hear something upsetting. But it does mean that there has to be some incentive to tell a hard truth that is greater than the incentive to lie and the consequences for telling the truth have to be less than the consequences for lying. Why should I tell the truth if I can lie and nothing bad will happen to me?

Because telling the truth would make a better person, and if you don't make it so difficult for me that not being a good person is the lesser consequence, then I'll tell you the truth (giving myself Brownie points for being a Good Person) and avoid the hassle of lying.

This doesn't stop everyone from lying, of course. Some people have a mental disorder called pathological lying. Some people have programming that's just too ingrained. Some people get off on secrecy and subterfuge. But the kicker is that, for those people, the rules won't stop them anyway. The rules just tell them how they can "win" the game by oh-so-considerately laying out exactly what they can or should lie about. The rules don't weed out liars, they create opportunities for liars.

I've often been baffled by guys who would get into relationships with me because I said I wanted an open one, and then they would proceed to lie to me about seeing anyone else. Like, WTF dude? You have my blessings! There's no reason to lie! Those people are out there, absolutely. What do you think would have happened if I had made a rule that these guys couldn't date other people? Do you think they would have said "oh, well, I WAS going to sneak around behind her back and fuck this chick on the side, but now that she SAID that I couldn't, I guess there goes that plan then!" Because that's totally realistic, right?

People who are going to lie are going to lie. Supporting people's freedom and autonomy and encouraging them to follow their own path while nurturing a haven for them to share the stories of their travels with you is far more successful at weeding out liars and developing honest relationships.

I know, it's surprising, that treating people with respect makes them want to be respectful back. Totally counter-intuitive, right? Well, yes, it is in a culture that confuses "respect" with "fear my authority". But it's really easy to make people fear you. It's much harder to make them willingly respect you.

Our culture can't always tell the difference between "treat me like a person" and "treat me like an authority" because it uses the word "respect" for both concepts.  So some people think that the only way to make a partner treat them like a person is to make their partner fear their authority.

I've heard from many people, even within the poly community, that they want to get married, for instance, because being married will make it more difficult for a partner to leave them, so they will feel more secure in their relationship knowing that their partner will be disinclined to leave because of the difficulty.  

Some people are less interested in treating their partners like autonomous human beings than they are in controlling their behaviour, specifically in "making" someone "respect" them, "love" them, not lie to them.  You can't *make* someone feel respect (and a lot of people assume that you won't lie to them if you respect them).  Tying them to you legally does not make them love you or prevent them from leaving.  Passing rules against lying does not keep people from lying to you.  Even passing rules and making scary punishments does not stop people from lying to you.  It just makes them work harder to not get caught.  But it's not love and it's not "respect".

I guess if fear and control is what you're going for in a relationship, at least you can own up to that and stop kidding yourself that you're doing it for the "respect".  
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
So this is interesting. I've noticed a trend now, that I started seeing many years ago, but had less nuanced and accurate language to describe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something like sharing an account password or not has no implications for honesty. There's a difference between honesty and openness. So long as you're saying "no, I won't share that with you," there is nothing dishonest going on."
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
https://www.morethantwo.com/gamechanger.html

"The game changer is the relationship that comes along and turns everything upside down. It’s the relationship that changes the familiar landscape of life, rearranging the furniture in new and unexpected ways."

"“Yes, you will always be #1“ is true until it isn’t, and there is no rule that can change that. If someone comes along who your partner genuinely does love more than he loves you, whatever that means…well, his priorities are unlikely to remain with abiding by the agreements he’s made with you. Game-changing relationships change things; that’s what they do. They change priorities, and that means they change rules. Expecting an agreement to protect you from a game changer is about like expecting a river to obey a law against flooding."
One of the drawbacks to choosing a life off the relationship escalator - of deliberately choosing to be poly, to be "single", to be a "bachelor" (none of which are interchangeable terms) - is that having more partners than most means that I probably have had more breakups than most too.

But that's also one of the benefits. Not really a set of benefits that I'd like to have, mind you, but I did benefit greatly from going through as many breakups as I have. I've learned, the hard way, about the Game Changer. I've seen from both perspectives how Game Changers change the game. I've seen people who had every intention of following through with their rules and agreements encounter a Game Changer of some sort and the rules turned out to have no power at all in the face of it. I've seen what happens when you let go of the control and just let it go where it wants to go - I've seen relationships thrive with that kind of freedom and I've seen relationships die, either due to lack of nourishment from "letting it go" or due to the relationship "going" in places that couldn't sustain it.

I've experienced just about every kind of breakup imaginable, from the fade-away to the better-as-friends to the all-out-war to the cut-them-off-and-never-speak-to-them-again to even the death of a former partner. And what all this experience has taught me is that the future is uncertain, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, rules only work until they don't, and no matter how bad it gets - if it doesn't kill me, I will survive it.*

People are afraid of loss.  People are afraid of change.  People get comfortable and don't want to lose their comforts.  So people create all kinds of rules and structures to protect themselves against loss and change.  But the #10 bus careening around the corner doesn't care about your rules and structures.  It will cause a change and a loss and laugh in the face of your rules and structures.  The #10 bus is a Game Changer.  A new baby is a Game Changer.  Sometimes new partners can also be Game Changers.  These are forces of nature that will upset your apple carts.  No battle plan survives contact with the enemy and all that jazz (and all those cliches, too).  You can make your rules against Game Changers, but when someone or something comes along who is a Game Changer, all your rules will change.  That's the point.  No take-backsies doesn't matter anymore to someone who is no longer playing your game.  And rules preventing people from ever backing out of the game A) don't work; and B) if they did, would be coercive.

I fear loss and change just like most people do. But I've learned that fearing loss and change doesn't matter to loss and change. Loss and change happen whether you deal with them or not. The best way to handle them is to accept that it'll happen, take a deep breath, and jump off that ledge anyway. With each successive breakup, I have learned a little more about how to handle Game Changers and my own fears of loss and change, and with each breakup I have gotten better at constructing my relationships to be flexible and accommodating of Game Changers. This, ultimately, actually builds relationships that are better able to withstand those Game Changers than any other method that attempts to prevent Game Changers from happening.



*That bullshit about whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is crap - sometimes if it doesn't kill you, it still maims you pretty damn good, leaving you worse off than you were before. But if I'm not dead, I'm still alive, and that's not nothin'.

joreth: (Purple Mobius)
There's this thing that people who are exploring polyamory for the first time as part of a couple do, and I don't see it happen when people attempt to try polyamory as a single person. It doesn't matter if the "couple" is dating together, dating individually, unicorn hunting or not, or how long the relationship has existed prior to the poly exploration. And there's this thing that a lot of poly "veterans" keep trying to do, but a lot of poly veterans learned the hard way that it's not the most successful strategy so they don't do it anymore. The thing they do is set out trying to find additional partners "without risking or disrupting the pre-existing relationship".

Every time, these new explorations are attempted while simultaneously attempting to keep the pre-existing relationship exactly the same, only, y'know, with more people. I get it, I mean, they love each other, otherwise they'd break up and start dating someone new. Kind of the whole point of polyamory is that you get to start dating someone new without losing anyone old.

Single people, however, don't try to find a partner with the assumption that their life will look exactly the same after they get a new partner as it did before. We seem to instinctively understand that, no matter what relationship type - poly or mono - dating someone new means things will be a little different. Compromises will have to be made based on who the new person ends up being, some plans get put on the back burner, some priorities get reshuffled, some things get given up and some new things get adopted.

Sometimes we can predict which of our things will be affected, like a guy who assumes that he'll have less time for Monday Night Football once he gets a girlfriend who doesn't like it, and other things we can't predict like waking up one day and realizing that we haven't actually touched our scuba equipment in months because our new partner doesn't dive and we'd rather spend time with them.

Every once in a while, we decide that our pre-dating proclamation to never ever leave the city we're in because we love it so much, ever, no matter what, doesn't feel as strong in the face of our soulmate announcing their intention to move back to their home country. Some people who thought they'd never even consider dating someone with a kid from a previous relationship find themselves being a step-parent because their True Love just happened to come with a kid. Life ends up looking different than it did before dating, and we all just kind of know that.

But couples seem to think that they can preserve and protect their relationship from experiencing any kind of change or disruption if they just find the "right partner" or if they make a bunch of rules dictating the speed and direction the new relationships are allowed to take, to make the change happen slow enough that it's essentially unnoticeable. There's a fundamental flaw that makes this strategy inherently less likely to succeed. Only Franklin said it better than I could - I'd ramble on for pages, so I'll let him say it:
There is one fly in the ointment: If you introduce someone new into your life, you DO risk disruption.

A lot of otherwise decent people do many very evil things in the name of protecting their existing relationships from disruption. But disruption is a fact of life. You can't introduce someone new into your life without risking disruption, and that's okay.

Almost everything you do in your life risks disruption to your relationships. Taking a new job. Losing a job. (Couples counselors say that financial stress is more likely to ruin a relationship than any other single factor, including cheating.) Deciding to have a baby. Moving to another city. An illness or injury. Problems in the family of origin. A death in the family. New hobbies. Hell, every time you walk outside your door or step into a car, you're risking serious injury or death, and that'll disrupt a relationship real quick!

We don't live in fear of disruption when we're offered a new job or decide to have a child. We accept that these things will change our lives, and move on. Ethical polyamory is the same thing: you accept that changes in your romantic life may affect your relationship, you resolve to act with integrity and honesty to cherish your partners to the best of your ability, you trust that your partners will do the same thing, and you move on.
There will be disruption. You can't avoid that. Your pre-existing relationship *will change*. The only thing that trying to prevent change will do is hurt the new person, and quite likely hurt the pre-existing relationship that you were seeking to protect in the first place. Have you ever tried to put ice into a glass of water without affecting the water level? It can't be done. The presence of the new ice *affects* the existing water. And if it's the middle of winter and you have hypothermia, adding ice is probably going to be a foolish idea. But if it's the middle of summer, and it's hot, and you're sweating, and you take that ice water onto the porch where there's a bit of a breeze, to sip while reading a good book on the porch swing, well, adding that ice makes the water a whole lot better.

It's not a terrific analogy. As I said, I'll ramble on for pages, even after Franklin already said all there needed to be said on the subject. There will be change and you can't avoid it. But you might be turning your pre-existing relationship into something better, if you just let the change happen instead of trying to prevent it.

See also:  https://joreth.dreamwidth.org/376186.html - The Most Skipped Step[s] When "Opening A Relationship" + 1
joreth: (polyamory)
Honey, can we talk? So, we've been talking about this for a while, but I think we're ready. I think we ought to do it. Our relationship has never been stronger, we're both in really good places right now with work and with each other. Life is perfect, so right now is the best time, I think, to bring in someone new to our family.

Let's have a baby.

I think it'll be great! We're totally ready to take this next step in our relationship. But, because our relationship is so perfect, I don't want the kind of baby that will threaten our existing relationship, so let's talk about the rules. We need to have some rules to make sure that nothing between you and I changes when the baby comes along.

First of all, we have to have a girl baby. I don't want to have to compete with a son for being "the guy" around the house, and you're a woman so you'll have lots in common with a girl baby so you'll naturally get along perfectly. You already know how to handle girls because you are one - you have all the same equipment and you understand women, so having a girl baby makes more sense. I'm a guy, so naturally I understand how to handle girls too, but I don't have any experience with dudes, so I'll be a better father to a girl baby.

Second, we have to do exactly the same things with the baby. I don't want our new daughter to end up loving one of us more than the other, so let's agree to never be alone with the baby and to do all the same things with her. If one of us plays soccer with her before the big soccer game, then the other has to play for the same amount of time the next day. If you help her with her math homework for 2 hours, then I get to help her with her math homework for 2 hours.

Now, honey, I know math isn't your favorite thing to do, but she's going to need help with her math homework, and if I'm the only one helping her, then that leaves you out. And I don't want you to feel left out. Besides, then you might do something with her without me and I'll feel left out. No, it's just better if we only do things with her together, that way no one will feel left out. Of course, we'll also only do the things that you and I like to do. Since she'll be our daughter, she'll just want to do all those things anyway - we wouldn't have a daughter that wanted different things, so that'll be that.

Since a trio is inherently more stable than any other configuration, let's agree to just one daughter that we both share equally. There will not be any accidental pregnancies because we've agreed not to have any.  We don't need to discuss what happens if you unintentionally get pregnant because we just agreed that it won't happen.  

I think I ought to have veto power over your pregnancies too. You can have the same, of course. I know men can't get pregnant, but I'm still giving you the veto power, so it's still totally equal. Also veto power after the kid is born - if one of us doesn't like her, out she goes and we try again. I'm willing to give you veto power because I love you that much, and I trust you not to use the veto power except in extreme circumstances, and protecting our relationship is more important than protecting the parental relationship with the new kid - after all, you and I were here first, way before any kid came along.

We'll work out a schedule for the baby - who gets to change her and who gets to feed her and when. We'll stick to that schedule no matter what because the important thing here is that our relationship with each other doesn't change significantly. The baby will have only the extra-curricular activities we tell her to have, and we'll choose them based on what works best for you and me, not her preferences, because I don't want this new baby to upset our lives too much.

After the baby comes, I still expect sex as often with you as we have it now. I want you to be there for me like you always have been, just as I will be there for you. I still want us to have the time and energy to dedicate to each other that we currently do. Just because the baby will be all new and shiny and she'll want lots of our attention in the beginning, we have to take care not to let that new relationship interfere with our existing relationship.

So we have to promise, before any baby comes along, that none of that will change when we finally do have a baby. OK? You won't stop having sex with me, we'll still have date nights, and we won't give each other only the boring, day-to-day parts of ourselves. Promise me now that we'll both still keep the magic in our relationship just the way it is now and that we won't let any baby interfere with that.

What we have right now is so wonderful, we should share it with another person. A baby will be so lucky to grow up in our lives! We have good jobs and we take fun vacations and we have great friends and a lot of knowledge to pass on, any baby would be fortunate to have us as parents! She'll go on all the same vacations that we like to go on, she'll eat all the awesome food that we eat, she'll play all the same sports that we like to play, she'll take after me in math but after you in music, and she'll just love our lives as much as we do! And as long as we plan everything out in advance, make all kinds of rules for every contingency, everything should work out totally smoothly. It'll be awesome!
joreth: (polyamory)
I hereby disallow anyone to accuse me of strawman or hyperbole when I speak of Those Couples, the Percivalians, the Unicorn Hunters, for using phrases like "interviewing for the job position of Third".

I will not reveal any identifying or personal information, but I *did* receive several emails and participated in a forum where the phrase "interviewed for our household", in quotes, was used. Also used were phrases like "looking for someone seeking a position..." and "meets our criteria".

This is not a single instance. This is multiple communications, in black-and-white text, where their own words included "interview", "position", "criteria", and other job-like language, all within a week of each other.

I can't imagine why they are having such trouble finding partners!؟ What person wouldn't feel honored to have been selected out of the masses for having the appropriate skills necessary to perform the duties required of them؟

If you can't tell that was sarcasm, even without the percontation points, and you don't see how creepy and fucked up that is, then you're part of the problem and I lack the ability to sufficiently explain to people without empathy why empathy is important and why lack of empathy is problematic.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
Someone made a post in a poly Facebook group that invited everyone to complete that sentence. So I did. Then I made a hashtag for it on Twitter. Then I realized that tweets don't last forever, so I'm making this post to archive them:

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

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

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

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

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

...you don't own a TV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...most of your friends knit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...you wonder where all the time went.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...you have laundry. ALL THE LAUNDRY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

2. I will periodically re-check the hashtag & FB thread and update this post with new additions.  Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
joreth: (Super Tech)
When discussing polyamory, I am often confronted by people who think it is reasonable to limit their pool of prospective partners to a single category.  This is often summarized by the cliche of the Unicorn, the Hot Bi Babe.  People confuse the very understandable desire to, say, limit their choices to people who don't want to eat babies in the middle of the night, with the idea that a single type of person is the only possible person that can make them happy.

What happens is that they say "I know for a fact that I can only be happy if I and my wife share the same person, and that person has no other partners, and we all live together in a house and raise children together and live off the proceeds from our chicken farm in Montana" (seriously, I was approached by a guy who said this once).  They then set out to find exactly a single bisexual female to give up all present and future partners, to love them both equally, who wants to raise children, leave her home and job to move into their house, and raise chickens.

And then they wonder why they can't find it.

There *are* some things that are deal-breakers.  For instance, I don't care just how much I might be attracted to the guy, if he likes slaughtering kittens, we're gonna have some relationship issues.  If he thinks that the Man is the King of his Castle, we're gonna have some problems.

But these people often come up to Franklin and say "wow, you have so many bi female partners, you must be really lucky!" and Franklin hates that, with good reason.  It completely negates all his hard work and effort to see people as who they are, not as providers for his happiness.  It completely overlooks the part where Franklin *sees* each person individually and leaves himself open to finding out how that relationship wants to work out.

As I keep saying, I find spaces for the people in my life, I don't find people for the spaces in my life.

And, as it turns out, there has been a study on this very thing.  It turns out that people who leave themselves open to just seeing what's out there, tend to be "luckier".  People who focus on a single outcome tend to miss possibilities and potentials that "lucky" people don't miss.  So when Franklin meets a woman, he just leaves himself open to learning about who she is and how she might naturally fit into his life and he into hers.  

When the Percivals (i.e. Unicorn Hunters) meet a woman, they are not open to the experience of who she is, they are evaluating her on how she fits a narrow list of criteria, and when she doesn't fit that exact list, she is rejected wholesale as unsuitable.  If she already has a husband, she is passed by without the Percival ever noticing that she actually *is* compatible with him and his wife, even with the husband, because the husband is also compatible and a quad could have formed.  But, since it's not a triad with a hot bi babe, it's rejected.  

People are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy.  And this study shows that people who are not fixed on a single idea are often happier, and "luckier" in life.

So, go out and just meet people.  See how things work without taking a preconceived notion of how you think they should work.  You might find that this person is, indeed, incompatible.  It doesn't mean you have to try dating everyone you come across, it means being open to considering the options and looking at it for what it is, not rejecting it for what it's not.  You might find a relationship that brings everyone happiness that you never even considered before.

And, interestingly enough, there's a note in there about how lucky people consider both logic and emotion.  The logical-only people fall into the "unlucky" category.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/3304496/Be-lucky---its-an-easy-skill-to-learn.html

Those who think they're unlucky should change their outlook and discover how to generate good fortune, says Richard Wiseman

Richard Wiseman
Published: 12:01AM GMT 09 Jan 2003

A decade ago, I set out to investigate luck. I wanted to examine the impact on people's lives of chance opportunities, lucky breaks and being in the right place at the right time. After many experiments, I believe that I now understand why some people are luckier than others and that it is possible to become luckier.

To launch my study, I placed advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, asking for people who felt consistently lucky or unlucky to contact me. Over the years, 400 extraordinary men and women volunteered for my research from all walks of life: the youngest is an 18-year-old student, the oldest an 84-year-old retired accountant.

Jessica, a 42-year-old forensic scientist, is typical of the lucky group. As she explained: "I have my dream job, two wonderful children and a great guy whom I love very much. It's amazing; when I look back at my life, I realise I have been lucky in just about every area."

In contrast, Carolyn, a 34-year-old care assistant, is typical of the unlucky group. She is accident-prone. In one week, she twisted her ankle in a pothole, injured her back in another fall and reversed her car into a tree during a driving lesson. She was also unlucky in love and felt she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Over the years, I interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, questionnaires and intelligence tests, and invited them to participate in experiments. The findings have revealed that although unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for much of their fortune.

Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.

I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message: "Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper." This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than 2in high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

For fun, I placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper: "Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250." Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people's ability to notice the unexpected. In one experiment, people were asked to watch a moving dot in the centre of a computer screen. Without warning, large dots would occasionally be flashed at the edges of the screen. Nearly all participants noticed these large dots.

The experiment was then repeated with a second group of people, who were offered a large financial reward for accurately watching the centre dot, creating more anxiety. They became focused on the centre dot and more than a third of them missed the large dots when they appeared on the screen. The harder they looked, the less they saw.

And so it is with luck - unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

I wondered whether these four principles could be used to increase the amount of good luck that people encounter in their lives. To find out, I created a "luck school" - a simple experiment that examined whether people's luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave like a lucky person.

I asked a group of lucky and unlucky volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person. These exercises helped them spot chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, expect to be lucky, and be more resilient to bad luck.

One month later, the volunteers returned and described what had happened. The results were dramatic: 80 per cent of people were now happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier. While lucky people became luckier, the unlucky had become lucky. Take Carolyn, whom I introduced at the start of this article. After graduating from "luck school", she has passed her driving test after three years of trying, was no longer accident-prone and became more confident.

In the wake of these studies, I think there are three easy techniques that can help to maximise good fortune:

Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell - a reason to consider a decision carefully.

Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.

Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire. His book, The Luck Factor (Century), is available for £9.99 + £1.99 p&p. To order, please call Telegraph Books Direct on 0870 155 7222.
joreth: (polyamory)
This has come up in several venues lately, so when a friend posted an article by Mistress Matisse, I decided to re-post it.

Control Tower
The One-Penis Policy
by Mistress Matisse

I am naughty by nature, but I'm actually not down with OPP. Surprised? Well, OPP has a different meaning to me. OPP means this: A bisexual female/heterosexual male couple are discussing polyamory, but he doesn't like the idea of her fucking other guys. So he says, "Okay, you can sleep with women—but no other men." Sometimes they'll just leave it at that: She'll get him plus her girlfriends, but he'll remain monogamous. Often, however, the next sentence out of his mouth is "And if you get to sleep with other women, then so do I." This is what polyamorous people refer to, disparagingly, as the One-Penis Policy.

Why disparagingly? On the surface, the OPP sounds equitable: Both partners get to do exactly the same thing. Only it's not. It's about as fair and balanced as Fox News. Under the OPP, the straight man is free to pursue any woman he wishes, while his bisexual partner must limit her choices because of his fears.

And fear is the reason for an OPP. Fears like: If another man fucks "my" woman, he'll steal her away. Only by isolating her can I keep her. Men who fuck lots of women are studs, but women who fuck more than one man are dirty whores; my partner cannot be a dirty whore! (Sex with other women, though—that's different. If there's no penis, then it's not real sex, merely foreplay for me.)

Fear of the woman getting an STD from a new male partner is often mentioned as additional justification—which conveniently ignores the fact that straight men can get STDs from women, and thus the One Penis is also capable of bringing one home. Also implied is that a vicious, Highlander-esque competition for status and dominance is biologically inherent to men. They can't help it; it's just their nature. A good, loving woman restricts her sexuality so she doesn't tarnish her man's image and rouse his inner beast.

Women in this position often reluctantly accept the OPP as a stepping-stone. In time, she thinks, he'll relax the rule and let me have sex with other men, too. But it's a rare individual who willingly gives up an arrangement where he gets everything he wants and nothing he doesn't. If you want the freedom to have sex with other men, then work out the jealousy issues in some other fashion. But don't adopt the OPP, because it builds resentment and the temptation to lie.

Male practitioners of the OPP say, "It's not unfair! She doesn't want to fuck other men." If she doesn't want to, obviously she doesn't have to. But why have a rule forbidding it? Lift the gender ban and let her choose as freely as you do. Or stay monogamous and let OPP stand for One-Pussy as well as One-Penis.
This was written by Mistress Matisse.

The OPP is couched in a lot of rational-sounding reasons.  But humans are very, very good at having an emotional reaction and then rationalizing it later to the point that even they don't understand what they just did.  An MRI study just recently showed that almost all our decisions are decided up to 10 seconds before we act on them (actually giving the MRI reader the opportunity to predict someone's actions), and another one showed that the act-on-this part of the brain lit up before the rational-reason-making part of the brain did. (wish I had the links to cite my references).  This means that we do stuff, then we explain why we did it after the fact.  

Franklin also likes to reference an interesting study where they looked at people who had the connection between the hemispheres of the brain missing, for whatever reason.  When that connection is gone, both eyes can still see and can still send images to the brain, but only one half of the brain has the ability to talk about it.  That half of the brain has absolutely no clue what the other half of the brain is doing, since the connection is gone.  

So, for example, let's say you show one of these people 2 pictures - one to each eye.  To the eye that can send images to the half of the brain that communicates, you show a chicken coop.  To the other eye, you show a picture of a snow bank.  Next, you hand them a pile of toys and have them pick out one toy with each hand that references the picture they saw.  The hand that correlates to the eye that saw the chicken coop picks out a stuffed chicken.  The other hand picks out a toy shovel.  Next, ask the person why he chose those toys.  Remember, the half of the brain that speaks has absolutely no idea that the other half of the brain recorded a snowbank.  Without noticeable hesitation, the person says the chicken goes in the chicken coop, and the shovel is to clean up the bird shit.

So we are very, very good at making shit up and rationalizing and justifying our actions, even to ourselves.

In one particular thread online, a couple of guys were absolutely standing by their excuse to limit their woman to only female partners by way of progeny.  You see, they did not want to spend resources raising someone else's kid.  The only progeny allowed in his house, by god, would be of his own bloodline!  He also wanted to make sure that his genetic heritage remain in an unbroken line from wherever it is he started counting.  And since you can never really be sure who the father is, the only way to control that he was the father was to restrict his partner from any and all male partners to avoid accidents from happening.

I threw out the adoption argument (how dare you say my mother couldn't love me as much as my natural mother) because the idea that bloodlines have anything to do with love is offensive.  What I didn't bother to get into is that he has no way of knowing that his line is "unbroken" already and that even with his rule restricting his woman, she could *still* produce offspring that wasn't his, if she wanted to.  If he was convinced that he had her properly isolated, he would have no reason to ask for a paternity test when she gets pregnant, and, as he pointed out in his rationale for being against other male partners, the paternity test takes place after the baby is conceived anyway and it's too late to do anything about limiting the fatherhood.  

When Franklin proposed letting men who have vasectomies be potential partners, how did Mr. Caveman feel about that?  Funny enough, no response the last time I checked the thread.  That tells me that it's NOT about progeny at all, it's about rationalizing an emotional reaction without understanding the emotional reaction at all.  Color me shocked that this argument might be a rationale.

As Franklin likes to say, if your partners are loving and kind and considerate and genuinely do not want to hurt you, then rules are not necessary.  If they are not loving and kind and considerate and genuinely don't care if they hurt you, then the rules won't stop them.

When I do not want my partner to be with a particular partner, I can express my fears to my partner, who will then seriously consider the consequences of taking on said new partner.  A kind, loving, considerate, and compassionate partner will evaluate the fears for their real impact and decide that either yes, the fears have merit and refrain, or no, the fears are about something internal and work with me on resolving that internal issue.  It is not necessary for me to forbid him from doing anything.

As Mistress Matisse says, if your wife just happens to be only interested in other woman, you don't need the rule to forbid it.  But if she is interested in men, and you feel the need to restrict her behaviour, that says an awful lot about you, none of it good.

It says you're insecure.  It says you're an asshole.  It says you let your emotions cloud your judgement.  It says you don't believe your wife can make her own decisions, because if she does, she will necessarily choose something harmful to you and to your relationships  That says your relationship is awfully weak and fragile..  It says you believe your relationship can be threatened by the mere presence of another partner based on their genitalia.  It says that you devalue the importance of same-gender (and that you also conflate gender with plumbing) relationships because other woman couldn't possibly be threatening to your relationship the way other men could.  

It says you believe you actually have the ability and the right to control another human being, which is textbook abuse.  It says you believe you are entitled to your wife's body, time, and sexuality, as opposed to it being a shared experience between the two of you that you are both *offering* to each other.  It says you have no idea about your own emotional and psychological makeup because you adhere to a 1950s Flintstones' version of biology that has been discarded by actual scientists decades ago to justify internal insecurities as "just what a man has evolved to do".  

It says that you are completely self-centric and selfish, and that's a sign of someone who hasn't grown up yet.  It says that you still live on the junior high playground where everyone is a competitor and no one can communicate their feelings in an honest and considerate fashion, while the rest of us grew up and moved on to adulthood.  It says that you are in for some huge shocks when you realize that the world does not, in fact, revolve around you, and that your partners are whole and complete human beings that you can't actually control - only their consent to acquiesce maintains that illusion at all, in which case, we're back to the main point, which is that rules are either unnecessary or unenforceable. 

It says that you have Little Dog Syndrome, which is someone who is actually very small, but who doesn't know it (or who does and won't admit it) and overcompensates by barking a lot and annoying everyone else around him.  The problem is that little dogs often pick fights with bigger dogs, and when the bigger dog isn't a lovable pushover, that little dog often gets injured or killed.  Meanwhile, the bigger dog doesn't have to go around barking at everyone to stay off his property because he's confident and secure in his place in the world.  

Where the analogy fails, of course, is that men are *not* territorial, protective-by-nature animals.  That goes back to the '50s Flintstones' view of history.  Some individuals may be territorial, and some cultures have certainly encouraged territoriality, but the idea that one's mate falls under the category of one's territory is a concept that was culturally evolved, not biologically, in humans, along with the idea of material possessions.  Our closest relatives are much more communistic.  

It's also plain offensive to a species of animal that can think, make predictions of consequences, and can override much of biology because of it (birth-control anyone?).  I am absolutely not anyone's "territory", you're damn lucky just to have me spend any of my time and attention on you, what with all the other things I want to spend my time and energy on.

It says that I should stay the hell away from you.  I prefer to date grown ups, not scared little boys overcompensating for their inadequacies with machismo attitudes and a reign of fear.  And even being around you at all, in any context, is cause for concern because of your devaluing and dismissing of the agency of the women around you.  You are not a safe person.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
There is often a debate in online venues about the Unicorn, the Holy Grail of polyamory.  Also known as the "mythical" HBB or Hot Bi Babe, this is the bisexual female that a married male-female couple is seeking to be their magical "third", the person who will "complete" them by developing equal emotional and sexual relationships with both members of the couple, who likes kids, is willing to help raise the couple's kids but not come with any of her own, willing to move out of her house (or city, or state) to move into the couple's house, and basically give up her entire life to fit herself into theirs. 

The couple's sacrifices include buying a bed big enough for all 3 of them (because there is no consideration that she might want her own bed or that any of them might want some "alone" time in the future) but otherwise the couple's life goes on as is with little change.  The reason for the "mythical" terms is not because bisexual women don't exist, but because this specific kind of bisexual woman is unlikely to exist and the quest for such is about as fruitful as seeking the Grail or unicorn is.

A derivative of this is all of the above except this girl will be a secondary only who will not be allowed to develop any emotional attachment to either of the couple, or at least it will not ever be "equal" to the bond between the original couple but the girl's interest will still be exactly the same for each half of the couple.  Her position is tenuous, she has no say in when or how her relationship with this couple will be terminated because it is the prerogative of the couple to decide, at any time, when she gets the boot. 

The rules are written by the couple before the HBB is even found, let alone consulted, and not up for negotiation, except members of the original couple can change the rules without warning and the girl, as the "secondary" is required to accept the decision without ever giving her input about it.  She is not allowed to have other partners, but she is also not treated as a full member of the family, often given the title of "housekeeper" or "roommate" because the couple can't be outed to neighbors, friends, family, or jobs.

This is NOT, I repeat NOT how all polyamorous couples go about being poly, even some of those who are interested in creating a triad that includes 2 women and 1 man.

Many of us have a problem with the above scenarios because the couple completely overlooks what this hypothetical third person might have or want for *her* life.  The person who might magically connect with the couple to create a family that meets everyone's needs might already have a partner or several, might have a bigger house or a high-paying, well-loved career she is unwilling to give up, or might even be male!  The new partner is not given any say in how her (or his) relationship should look like.  This person is treated as a job applicant, not as a human being with needs of her own and a right to get them met. 

This type of couple often uses the HBB to cover up some sort of insecurity and/or get their selfish rocks off with a live-in maid / love-slave.  This can be exhibited sometimes by rules created by the husband that forbid the wife from having male lovers, but allows female lovers for both because the male is afraid of the competition and often thinks that same-sex partners don't really "count" (forgetting that since he's engaging with an opposite-sex partner, it's therefore "cheating" by this same definition and totally discounting the validity of the same-sex relationship).  

And sometimes it can be revealed by rules that do not allow either half of the married couple from experiencing *anything* with the new partner when the other married partner isn't around out of the deluded belief that as long as everyone does exactly the same things, the relationship between the HBB and one half of the couple will be *exactly* the same as the relationship between the HBB and the other half of the couple.  We also dislike *these couples* because they all insist they are not this couple even when they are.

But, as I said above, this is NOT all married poly couples, even if they do want a triad.  Sometimes a m-f couple is interested in an HBB because the wife is actively bi-sexual and wants a female partner *of her own* and the male happens to be straight and wouldn't it be fun if both of their partners happened to be the same person?

As a friend recently reminded me, all married poly couples face distrust from the poly community because so many of us are so tired and frustrated from *that type* of married couple that we automatically look on married-couples-looking-for-triads with suspicion.  And that's really not fair.  Hell, I'd like a triad someday, but my preference would be for a MFM triad and my HBBs are male ;-)  

The difference is that I (and those couples who are not *that type* of couple) don't assume the triad is the magic configuration that will automatically be the perfect relationship.  I am willing to consider all sorts of permutations of relationships because I understand that it's the *person* and not the position that makes a relationship work or not work.  While a triad might be a nice thought in theory, in reality, the people I'm relating to right now or in the future might just not be suitable to that kind of configuration, but the V or the quad or the network we're in *does* work and *does* meet all of our needs, providing happiness, fulfillment, and joy.  The difference is that I consider each potential partner on an individual basis and I try to find the relationship configuration that works with those personalities involved, I do not build a slot and find or force someone to fit in it.

I think someone in the polyamory LJ community once said "you do not find people to fit the spaces in your life, you find spaces to fit the people in your life", and that's the big difference.

But, in order to discuss what's wrong with *that type* of couple, we might start out by prefacing that we're speaking of a particular kind of couple, but we always end up using some form of shorthand that might accidentally include *the other types* of couples just because it takes too long to qualify every sentence.  My method of dealing with this in the past has always been to write a disclaimer that says "I am speaking of *this type of couple* and if you happen to be in a relationship that superficially resembles this one but you don't do the things I'm complaining about, then *assume I'm not talking about you*".

Problem is that people on the internet don't always read the posts carefully and too many people take these things personally.  And, as newbies stumble on these posts and entries and web pages, people who haven't had the time to develop the kind of sensitivity to the nuances in terminology, the distrust persists even to couples who are not *that type*.

So, for my own part, I'm going to start referring to *that type* of couple as Percivalian Couples, maybe PCs or Percies for short?  The term comes from the tales of King Arthur seeking the Holy Grail and his knight, Percival, actually finding it at one point but being too immature and failing to ask the proper question, causing him to fail in attaining the Grail and he must grow spiritually and mentally before he can locate it again.  Percival is described in some places as "the least worldly and the least groomed of all the knights", having been raised in the woods away from society, and "extremely pious but somewhat naive". 

I think these can be applied quite seamlessly with *that type* of couple.  They are often new to polyamory and seem to lack the subtle social skills required to mix effortlessly with so many different (and volatile) poly personalities.  They are also often quite pious in their belief that theirs is the One True Way to be poly and quite a bit emotionally naive as they don't even recognize that their rules and structures are designed to protect insecurities (because they are quite insecure). 

Sometimes they will acknowledge that other types of poly are valid for other people, but they are dead set on the equilateral FMF triad being the One True Way for them and no other type could possibly bring them happiness because they cannot accept that happiness comes from the individuals involved and they insist there is some magic configuration that will make all other problems disappear.  They do not ask the proper questions, mainly because they're too busy making statements about what they want to ask what anyone else might want of them.

It is my small attempt to distinguish between people who just happen to like FMF triads, but are willing to consider other types of relationships, are not looking for this particular configuration to protect insecurities of the original couple, and who do not look for partners like job applicants with an eye out only for what the couple gets out of the arrangement - from the couples who are not all of those things.

It is *these couples* who are responsible for causing all the real HBBs to go into hiding, disappearing into the glen like the mythical unicorns we liken them to, who infuriate those of us who are not bisexual (and those who are) when they come on to us with their form emails asking us to join their commune as another sister-wife, who hurt the male HBB's feelings by refusing their very existence, let alone validity, and who dismiss all the partners (current and future) of the women they approach as being totally unworthy of consideration because the couple is somehow the more noble relationship that all of us women would desire to attain even at the sake of dropping all our current and future partners just for the chance at happiness with this shining couple.

Some other terms helpfully suggested by my sweetie, Franklin, include:
Insecure
Clueless
Trophy Hunters
Safari Goers

And, for once, I'm actually trying to not be inflammatory or incite a riot (because, even though there are couples who are not *that kind* of couple, all of *those couples* insist that they are not either), so I'm actually kind of counting on the obscurity of the reference for a little subtlety.

Of course, I've learned my lesson and will not be posting in the LJ community, but I hope to use some term regularly enough that it takes on a life of its own.

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