Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

Things I’ve Learned March 20, 2012

I’m sure I mentioned this in an earlier post, but men have become more appealing of late. I think that comes from having sorted out a lot of my shit in that department and having come to understand and accept my kinks and inclinations.

For instance, I wondered if, in being drawn to being dominant towards men, I was simply reacting to the submissive-by-default status of women in what little BDSM I had previously been exposed to as well as, well, the world in general. I wondered if wanting to hurt them was perhaps more a political thing than a personal thing and maybe, deep down, I really didn’t want to do it at all. I know that my reaction to being struck, dominated, etc. is almost immediately aggressive and potentially violent in just about any context, and that should have been a clue, but such is the power of suggestion and conformity. It’s just so much easier (at least in theory) for a woman to be submissive that when you’re not, you’re left second-guessing yourself. At least I was.

Then I met a woman with whom I had amazing chemistry and whose libido was about as strong as mine. We spent at least the first three months fucking like our lives depended on it at every single opportunity. The funny thing about all that sex is that it didn’t really help us get to know each other all that well as people, but it certainly helped both of us get to know ourselves an awful lot better.

I can’t write about what she learned, but for my part, I found out that I really do like running the show. I really do like impact play. I really DON’T like being on the receiving end of impact play, but trying it and finding out was actually pretty fun anyway, and I only really concluded that it wasn’t for me afterwards. I don’t mind hurting women or dominating them, though I much prefer things to even out in the end. I get off on hurting people in ways they like. I get off on playing with people’s bodies and figuring out what works for them and what freaks them out (in a good way). I don’t mind tying people up, but I much prefer simply not allowing them to move. I love the feel, smell and weight of a whip in my hand. I love just using my hands. I love using my mouth, and especially my teeth.

And, at the same time, I learnt that a lot of the stuff that freaked me out or that I didn’t like the idea of wasn’t all that scary after all. I may not like it, but that’s ok. I have the right to not like things. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It did not shatter my idea of who I was. It did not make me a bad person. It was just…stuff.

For a while, I thought it was weird that sex with a woman should help me sort out stuff about sex with men. Eventually, it dawned on me that, duh, it’s not that different. I feel safer with women in general, but I felt particularly safe with her, at least sexually, and that allowed me to let go and experiment with stuff that, in the past, I’d been far too wound up to even think of trying. I’d thought for the longest time that it just took me longer to trust men than women sexually, but really, it was me I didn’t trust. I was afraid that despite what I really wanted, I would simply freeze and then revert to the handy-dandy little  he-Tarzan, me-Jane script when dealing with a man.

*lightbulb*

I don’t have to do that. Or, if I really feel like it, I can do exactly that. The key is figuring out what I want at the time and articulating it and then letting the response be about the other person and not me.

And the end result is that while that relationship may have gone south, it’s left me in a much better place. I’ve actually started to notice men and to find lots of them sexy without knowing the first thing about them. I know most people will think that’s perfectly normal, but it has rarely, if ever, happened to me.

Now to figure out what to do about it.

 

“I’m so jealous!” November 17, 2011

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory — Araliya @ 10:08 am
Tags: ,

Mini-rant time.

I really hate it when person A describes a holiday or food or a fun activity to person B who didn’t participate and the latter responds with “I’m so jealous!” or “I hate you!” or “You suck!”

Mostly, the person making these statements doesn’t actually harbor any ill-will towards person A, and is only trying to indicate that the activity in question is something they like and wish they could do too. I don’t have a problem with that bit. I do have a problem with the phrasing though, because it’s such a negative way to express yourself. To me, it sounds like you’re saying you’re the center of the universe and how dare somebody else get to do something you don’t? Why not just a ‘good for you’ or ‘that’s so great’ or ‘have fun’ or ‘you deserve it’? I know in most cases the person who says ‘I’m so jealous’ probably feels all those things. Why not say them instead of something negative-sounding?

I suppose the j-word particularly irks me, specially in the poly context where we’ve actively worked to process and understand jealousy. You could argue that trivializing it in this way helps de-fang it – it’s just a word – and, intellectually, I’d probably agree. Generally, its use every now and then isn’t a big deal. But lately it seems that it’s being used ALL the freaking time, to the point that person A in the example above will now say ‘I’m doing such-and-such. Aren’t you jealous?’ or ‘Ooh x! B is going to be SO jealous!’ and I really don’t like it.

As if the value of whatever one is doing exists only so long as someone else is not getting to do it or someone else indicates their approval of it by saying it’s worth being jealous of. Something about that stinks.
 

Annoyed. September 28, 2011

I’m going to have to think carefully about this.

So I met this person. Or rather, this person met me and decided they were interested. I didn’t object – they’re cute and sweet and only here for a short time, so why not?

This person is not polyamorous, but knows all about me and my setup and says they’re willing to give it a shot. We’ve talked a lot, met a few times, things are good.

Except that even at this early stage, I’m having flashbacks to my relationship with A and the thoughtless things he did when it came to dating other people. I have no expectations with this new person and am frankly happy that they’re meeting other people and having a good time at it. If nothing else, it takes the pressure off me since I don’t feel like their only source of entertainment.

And yet…I don’t know. I don’t suspect any ill-will, but in describing new and exciting people, I can’t help but hear an indictment of myself. If other people are too interesting to be interested in them, then what does that say about someone who IS interested? Like A, I don’t think they’ve thought their statement through and unlike with A, we’re not even in a relationship of any kind so I don’t get why I feel vaguely ill when they say that.

But I do.

With A, I eventually spoke up and informed him that saying crap like that was insulting to me. With this person, I don’t feel like I have any business saying something like that. We kid around, flirt, talk about random crap and that’s it. So they think somebody else is exciting. So what? So do I.

I guess I feel like they’re hedging their bets and I don’t like not knowing where I stand. I also suspect that the comments are not as innocent as A’s – this person has given me reason to believe they’re a whole lot more savvy than A ever was about this stuff. But then again, maybe it’s just me projecting my own insecurities on someone who’s only sharing how they feel because I’ve been happy to listen so far.

Upon further thought, I’ve decided that next time something like this comes up, I will point out the implied criticism in the statement, but with the assumption that it was unintentional. Hopefully a simple ‘ouch’ will suffice.

And if that doesn’t work, it’s off to the reject pile for this one.

 

(Sorta-)Meta-post June 27, 2011

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory — Araliya @ 2:13 pm
Tags: ,

I was listening to Polamory Weekly the other day, which I do about as often as Minx can put up new podcasts. She’s currently revisiting her favorite episodes from the past, with the most recent one, #277 featuring an interview with Franklin Veaux from July 2007. The whole podcast and interview are excellent, but the bit that resonated most with me was when Franklin said that he felt NRE (new relationship energy) was an obstacle to really getting to know a person and, as such, something to wait out before one could get to the good stuff. Minx disagreed to a degree, presenting what I think is the more usual view of NRE as a blissful stage to be enjoyed.

I don’t think she’s wrong, but what Franklin said echoes my own view better. Personally, I don’t trust NRE. I enjoy it, certainly – the giddiness, the butterflies in the stomach, the obsession, the very high highs and the crazy hot sex. But all the while it’s happening, I know that I’m not being rational and that I should avoid making any long-term decisions until it wears off.  This isn’t a bad thing, really. I think, in a way, knowing that the rush will wear off makes me savor it all the more. But, like Franklin said, this isn’t the real ‘good stuff’.

For me, it’s what happens when the chemical rush wears off that really matters. Sometimes, the fog clears and you realize that the person causing it is someone you genuinely like, get along with, want to be with and can build a relationship with. Sometimes, not so much.

Neither result is fundamentally bad, really, but for me, the real relationship begins after the NRE ends. It’s when you’ve regained control of your faculties that you can make a real decision regarding how, or even whether, you want to proceed with a relationship.

Of course, if it turns out the person is every bit as awesome as I thought they were, I can’t help feeling a little smug in a I-knew-it-all-along sort of way. I’m only human.

And it doesn’t make it any less sad when a potential relationship doesn’t work out. Just because I have a macro lens in my head doesn’t mean I don’t actually feel all the emotions I’m going through at the time. I just also have a bird’s eye view of the process as it happens. FSM knows it doesn’t stop me being stupid about it all, hence the no-major-decisions rule.

The reason I’m thinking about all of this, aside from having listened to the podcast, is that I broke up with NP this week. Chalk that up to the NRE wearing off and us realizing we speak completely different languages, relationship-wise. I am not sure when exactly I’ll get the many many crossed wires straightened out enough to actually process it. At the moment, it feels more like it’s still spitting little sparks of “oh so that’s what they meant when they said x” and “so they thought y meant z – no wonder”.  What a mess.

 

The Gentle ‘No’ May 5, 2011

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory,Relationships — Araliya @ 5:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Reading my last post over, I realize that I really need to learn the art of the gentle No. I am good at ignoring people and I am good at annihilating them. I am absolutely useless, however, at addressing a minor irritation. I don’t know how to simply say, ‘Hey, that kind of sucked. Please don’t do it again.’ To my ears, that always sounds like I’m telling someone off. It’s not nice to be checked and it can be a bit of a bummer, but it shouldn’t ruin the whole day, should it? Or must it? A reasonable adult can, if addressed the right way, simply take on board that that little thing they just did is kind of a no-no for you and simply make a mental note to refrain from doing it around you. Can’t they? I’d like to think that I can, and, if I can do it, certainly anybody should be able to do it. Right?

But reasonable as it may sound in my head, I don’t know how to actually do it. Instead, I put up with minor annoyances until I can’t stand them any more. At that point, my desire to not hurt the person annoying me gets outweighed by my irritation, and I let fly, often with far more force than the original annoyance warranted, often damaging the relationship irreparably. This is bad.

I need to find a way to flag things before they become problems. Often, it’s hard to spot, what with it being a tiny thing here, a little overstepping there. Or, if I do spot it, it’s hard to bring attention to without making it a huge deal.

I’ve thought of various ways I could soften the ‘no’. There’s the ‘Honey, I love you, but could you please not do that?’ or ‘Hey you know, that thing you did wasn’t cool. Not a big deal, but just, yeah, could you not do it again please?’ or the ‘me’ statement approach ‘I don’t like such and such much, so if we could avoid that, that’d be really nice.’ or even ‘Hey, when I hear that kind of thing, I feel …’ with perhaps a few bits of ‘I know you don’t mean it that way/wouldn’t do something deliberately’ thrown in for good measure. I don’t know if those are actually good statements or not – they’re just what have come to mind. I  like the advice I got once of focusing on what the person did rather than making it about who they are, and I’ve tried to do that in the statements above. I have yet to use any of them though.

What I think I’d like, really, is a warning sign. I’d like to be able to say, ‘Hey, what you just did is not a big deal, but if it gets any worse, we’re going to have a problem.’  Does that sound like I’m picking  a fight? It does to my ears, so I don’t use it.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

“Mine!” September 27, 2010

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory — Araliya @ 12:23 am
Tags: ,

I was horsing around with a lover and pretending to run away when she grabbed me around the waist, pulled me back down, wrapped her arms around me and said “No! Mine!” I laughed, turned around to muss her hair and then ran away again. The cat decided to join me. It was silly and fun.

But it got me thinking about that word. Mine. I’ve been with people who have a serious allergy to it. Any accidental outburst of the kind is always tempered with “at the moment”, or “well, partially”, or, even worse, an apology for not resisting the social programming that says we automatically own those we sleep with. For one person, that resistance meant he was never able to be fully present in a relationship. Instead, there was always a reminder that I was one of many, particularly if any reference was made to my being the partner he saw most frequently. It seemed, at least in his case, that giving up on the idea of ownership meant keeping everyone at arm’s length.

I found – and continue to find – that ridiculous. I get that nobody owns anyone – or shouldn’t anyway. I get that everyone involved is an autonomous adult capable of making their own decisions and taking care of themselves. What I don’t get is why that means you can’t give yourself fully in the moment. I have no doubt that when she said “mine!”, my lover was not staking a claim so much as accessing the vocabulary we use to express affection. In English, much of that vocabulary has at least a tinge of ownership to it. And why not? After all, love and affection is one of the ways in which we form families and identify those who belong in our individual inner circles. It’s how we choose who we want around to take care of us when we can’t do it ourselves. It’s how we decide to step in and support or take care of those who can’t do it for themselves for the time being. It’s why we get angry or upset when someone hurts someone we care about. It’s why we want to protect people, even as we let them fight their own battles.

We are fundamentally self-referential creatures. We assign value to things according to how important they are to us. Every choice we have the freedom to make, from what we like to eat to how we dress to whether and what we drive, where and how we live, etc., is based on what we think is important. It’s always about us. In that light, referring to someone as ‘mine’ in jest is hardly a big deal, particularly in the context of a healthy polyamorous relationship.

I also got to thinking how we are different people in different relationships. Just as we change the way we speak, if only a little bit, according to the company in which we happen to be, each relationship enables us to express an aspect of ourselves that that particular relationship fosters. I’m not saying we switch personalities entirely. I may be more confident here, more silly there, more awkward elsewhere, but I’m basically the same person regardless of who I’m with.

What I am saying is that each person we meet and interact with develops a particular view of us depending on how we behave together. At their best, our long term relationships remind us of our values, who we are, and who we want to be. In each of our friends and loved ones exists a record of who we are to them.  For one friend, I am the person who listens to her problems and suggests what she can do to fix them, while for another I am the person he can talk to freely about his work. In one relationship, I am the nurturer, while in another I am the person being taken care of and fussed over. I am always me, but, depending on who I am with, the connection is dependent on different aspects of myself. Because of that, I think that the particular me in each of those relationships does ‘belong’ in some way to the person who inspires it in the first place, but not in any restrictive way. Instead, I feel that each relationship expands and challenges me in ways I never would have expected, all of which keeps me from complacency in all my relationships.

So for me, a friend or lover who respects my autonomy referring to me as theirs is simply a mark of affection and acceptance. It means that they identify with me, or identify me with themselves, in some way. It means they are putting themselves on the line and saying ‘This is how important you are. Am I that important to you?’ And even if it is just for that moment, I say yes, you are. Because right now, you are just as precious and just as much mine.

 

Restricting Language December 24, 2008

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory — Araliya @ 10:17 am
Tags: ,

Sometimes I find language incredibly confining, particularly when expressing affection. It’s all very well when you’re speaking directly to the object of your affection, but when you speak in the same manner about them with another partner, it’s hard not to sound like you’re making comparisons. It seems the more affectionate you get, the more exclusive you sound. If, when speaking to S, I say something affectionate about  A, I immediately feel that I have to reassure S that I do love her as well because the I find that the language I have access to implies exclusivity of affection even though I mean no such thing.

As a result of this, I rarely discuss my feelings about one partner with the others*. If I did, I think I’d probably have to establish first of all that anything I said about my feeling for the partner in question has no bearing on my feelings for the partner with whom I’m speaking. That sounds tedious, but it’s something I think I need to bring up with my partners anyway, and with some more than others. I don’t know if I’m just being paranoid though. Nobody’s actually brought up that they feel threatened or insecure – it’s just a feeling I get  when, in the presence of one partner, I address another partner with an endearment that I’ve used for the former, or with an endearment that I use only with the other partner. Either way, the (usually innocuous) word suddenly seems laden not just with affection but with all this other meaning, all of which could be construed as detrimental to my relationship with the partner listening in.

Am I overthinking this?

*I generally do not discuss my partners, beyond incidental stuff, with anyone at all because I think that would be a breach of privacy.