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.

 

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.

 

The Golden Retriever of Love May 3, 2011

Filed under: Figuring it out,People,Relationships — Araliya @ 12:50 pm
Tags: , ,

If you haven’t come across her yet, know this: Captain Awkward rocks.

Her latest post, in which she tries to help a reader cope with her anxiety around a budding relationship, is both hilarious and actually very good advice. It cracked me up because I recognize myself in both the question and the answer, saw how silly it all was, and realized I was probably not going to get over the silliness any time soon.

Her two very practical suggestions are, well, very practical:

  1. I  would resist, at this stage, getting all up in each other’s Social Media.  It’s too easy to obsess, and the more potential points of contact you have the more tempted you are to use all of them at once (or feel ignored via all of them at once).
  2. Tell your loins to chill out.  People have lives and when they meet someone great it sometimes takes some rearranging to have enough time to really incorporate a new dating partner.  If you go a week or two without a date, that is normal and okay.  It means he is a person with a life and he had plans, and you want someone to have a life.  If you go two weeks without any contact at all, not even a quick text, THEN you are allowed to feel crazy, okay?
I’m guessing most people already know this on some level, but seeing it articulated can be helpful nonetheless.
Anyway, go read the whole post.
 

Coming back around May 1, 2011

The loop seems to be completing itself again. I’m no longer ‘off’ men. Don’t get me wrong, even when I’m off them, there are usually a few I still find appealing. But for the last few weeks (months? This stuff sneaks up on me.) my brain has stopped dismissing the thought of having sex with a man  as utterly boring. Instead, I’ve dwelt on it, thought about who and what and where and all that, and it’s started to sound like a good idea again. Not, mind you, that I am no longer interested in women. I think I’ve established that women are my primary interest. I just think I’m secure enough in that now to glance over to the other ‘side’ without worrying about all the things I used to worry about.

It’s a nice space to be in, actually. I think a lot of my resistance to men is actually a resistance to the scripts and patterns I end up following. I don’t like feeling like I ‘have’ to occupy a specific role – here that of ‘the girl’ – so that the other person can play theirs. I’m generally not a fan of the gender binary anyway, and things that reinforce it annoy me. Relationships with straight, cisgender men when one is a cisgender woman pretty much IS a working model of the gender binary. You see my problem.

But, I tell myself, my relationship with H doesn’t follow the standard. Yes he is a cis man and I am a cis woman, but that tells you nothing about our relationship. So why can’t I just repeat that? There are plenty of straight men out there who don’t buy the hypermasculine, macho crap and are able to instead be decent human beings who just happen to occupy male bodies. All I have to do is stick to those – which if I’m honest, has not proved terribly difficult – and avoid the chest-thumpers.

Right?

 

I’m still here November 23, 2008

I am indeed still here and still working much stuff out, but work, deadlines and life in general have been taking up all my time. I have quite a few bits and pieces so, as a way or sorting through them and getting myself organized and writing on topic, here are some of the things, in no particular order, that I want/plan to write about in the (near) future:

  • Further issues with ‘ordering’ in relationships – This time from the practical standpoint. Yes I loathe the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ but I suppose they do have some practical application.
  • Living arrangements – What I’ve seen, what I like, what I think I want/could handle, what I couldn’t deal with.
  • The mandatory jealousy post – Just about every poly blog seems to have at least one post on jealousy and while I suppose it is something of a cliche, it’s also just plain useful when jealousy does strike to have all these different perspectives, accounts, and advice out there. Given how similar and yet how varied everyone’s experience of jealousy seems to be, I hope my account can in turn help someone else get through their own battle with this particular bugbear.
  • Partners’ partners – How close can metamours get? What if you can’t stand each other? Is it important to meet them at all? If so, when? Why? Why not? Does one particular policy tend to work better than another or should it be completely ad hoc? What do/can you expect? What should/shouldn’t you do when you meet? etc.
  • Forays into ‘kink’ – Honestly, I don’t know where kinky actually begins and I suspect it’s different for different people. I’m not very easily shocked and I don’t consider most things ‘weird’ anyway, so my world is more divided in to stuff I will do and stuff I won’t, and my willingness or otherwise is decided by how interesting or appealing I find something, not how extreme or challenging or strange it is. I also deliberately didn’t use the term BDSM because it feels far too big and clunky for someone who’s only just taking the tiniest of tiny baby steps into the wonderful world of sadism.
  • Sexuality – Specifically, how mine has evolved, how I’ve been growing into it and getting comfortable with expressing it personally, socially and in some instances politically. I’ve begun to see coming out not as the end point or arrival, but the announcement of one’s departure on a kind of expedition into completely uncharted territory. I’m not done exploring yet by any means, but I’ve certainly learnt a lot already.

I think that’s it so far. Hopefully I’ll get at least some of these written before I start adding to the list. Thanks to the people who’ve been stopping by regularly. With more efficient planning, I should be able to offer up some new stuff for you to read soon!

 

Bi/Poly or Bi and Poly? September 8, 2008

So we told some of H’s family and got a pretty good response. This time, he did the talking, which I think was a good idea given that he’s the reason they’d be interested in the first place and because, by talking about it, he takes some amount of ownership of it. Even though he’s not interested in finding or forming other relationships, polyamory is something that we made a decision about together and something that we are still exploring and expanding together. Neither of us would be where we are if it weren’t for the other.

I also realize that I need to stop using bisexuality as a reason for being poly. It came up when H told his family about A and someone asked, ‘If she’s doing this because she wants to be with women, what’s with the boyfriend?’ Given how we’d framed the whole situation, I think that was a reasonable enough question. I honestly am no longer sure what I said at the time because I’ve since talked it over with several people, but I’ve basically concluded that while bisexuality was the avenue through which I learned about polyamory, it isn’t the reason I’m polyamorous. I am increasingly sure that even if I weren’t bisexual, I would be polyamorous and that I am both is a coincidence, if an extremely convenient one.

 

Am I an activist? September 2, 2008

Filed under: Figuring it out,Polyamory — Araliya @ 3:02 pm
Tags: ,

I’m not sure how to proceed. The Poly Old Fart asked an important question a while ago and I’ve been thinking about it since: Why am I blogging?

This is and isn’t a journal. While I’ve outlined my journey from a monogamous to a polyamorous situation here, I’ve left out lots of details, not published a lot of what I’ve recorded elsewhere about each relationship, and attempted to protect other people’s privacy to the extent that I could. I have, however, posted some very personal things that I can’t take back now that they’re out there. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to take them back when I posted them and I’m OK with that. It was important for me to write those things and important for me to know that someone had read them. I needed to get the frustration I was feeling off my chest, as well as the realization that I needed to acknowledge some very basic things about myself – things I had known all along and chosen to ignore or push aside for the time being.

I didn’t expect people to read my blog and then write to me telling me they understood what I was going through or that they were just a few months behind me in the figuring-it-all-out process and that what I’d written had actually helped them along. For me, this was just a space in which to vent, think, and maybe at some point connect with other people in the same or a similar situation so that I could get my head together. The positive comments and support have been wonderful and I’ve learnt a lot from other poly bloggers who’ve been either poly or blogging, or both, for far longer than I have.

I wouldn’t call myself an activist either, but I am a communicator. My instinct upon finding out about something new and interesting and challenging is to broadcast it. Acknowledging that I was bisexual was a big enough ‘event’, if personal, but discovering polyamory and realizing how much potential there was in it was way too much to just sit on. And then, as often happens when one ‘discovers’ something, I found many other people had got there first and were doing a brilliant job of talking about the emotional, political, financial, social implications of being polyamorous. So now I write and I link.

I stop at communication though. I don’t seek to evangelize or convince people that polyamory is the One True Way, mainly because while it is a good fit for me personally, my experience with it is limited. Most of my information comes from the community I interact with, the books I read, and the bloggers I follow online.  I respect experience and knowledge gained through the thoughtful examining thereof and overall, I’ve found experienced poly bloggers do rather a lot of that, which is catnip to this kitteh.

My own poly relationships are going well. A and I are rolling along happily and my relationship with S is growing firmer as we get to know and trust each other. H and I are closer than ever in a lot of ways and his ‘role’ in the community has come as something of a happy surprise all around. We’re all discovering new things about ourselves, our relationships, our feelings, our attitudes, our wants, our insecurities and much more. Everyone’s at a different point, but we manage to communciate over the gaps and even though we don’t have much of a blueprint, we’re building something.

And that is where I reach the next question: what do I write about now? I’m quite protective of all three of them, but particularly of A and S because H at least knows about this blog and that I write about him (the other two know that I have a blog and expect to be mentioned, but that’s it). I want to write about them – about how they make me feel, how we’ve worked things out, who they are, etc – but I want to protect both their privacy and mine. I also get cynical and think, really, how different is any of what I have to say from the millions of other relationships that get started and are built on every day? Just because there are more people involved doesn’t really make it news. So then I think I should take a leaf from the books of the poly bloggers I read and talk instead about the larger issues, the ideas, the conflicts – the learning and the  learning process, really. That’s what’s meant the most to me when I’ve read other blogs and if I’m to do anything with this blog, providing an account of what I’ve learned from being polyamorous is probably what would be most useful, both to others and also to me.

 

A Post-Mortem of Sorts July 26, 2008

So I ended it with M the other day. Things generally started to go south about a month and a half ago – right after we got all warm and fuzzy, it seems. Now, of course, all the little niggling doubts I had about our relationship suddenly seem like such blindingly obvious red flags. Ah well. You learn.

Basically, I no longer felt safe. I didn’t realize that was the case initially, specially since I’ve had a bit of stress piling up from various other quarters. I thought I wasn’t paying as much attention to M as before because I was tired, frazzled, upset, distracted, etc. I thought we weren’t catching up as often as before because she’d been ill and overworked. All those things were true enough, but they were excuses, not reasons.

A friend of mine once commented that your body doesn’t lie to you. I think she has a point. At least for me, physical contact hinges on trust. I can talk a good game, but if I don’t feel safe with someone, touching them, particularly intimately, is out of the question – it makes me physically ill. It’s not a pleasant reaction at the best of times, but when it’s your girlfriend that makes you recoil, it fucking hurts.

A while ago, M carelessly mentioned something I had told her in confidence in front of someone I barely knew. I don’t for a second believe that she meant any harm, but I was quite upset and she realized her mistake and apologized. It was a slip. But it shook me pretty badly – worse than I thought because, H recently reminded me that I mentioned wanting to end it when I got home that day. I had forgotten I’d said that, but it’s true and, now that I think about it, things weren’t quite the same from then on.

While the incident itself was Not Good, I think what it did was highlight the fact that there was a disconnect between us. Our attitudes towards a few important things were quite different and I found that I’d done my stupid just-smile-and-go-along-with-it thing, which is never a good idea, however easy it seems at the time. You keep hearing about boundaries, and in theory it makes perfect sense that you would identify and then defend your own, as it were. But in practice…well, the balance between patrolman and peacemaker can be a bit difficult to negotiate.

Still, M is a smart woman and realized something was up, so she asked. And the upshot of that conversation was that I no longer wanted a physical relationship with her. Which hurt her. But I think that she would have been more hurt if I hadn’t been truthful and it had all come out at some later time, so I am telling myself that it is for the best. It’s awful to be the one doing the breaking up. It’s no cakewalk to be broken up with, but I think I prefer to be on that end, really. There’s certainly less guilt involved and you don’t feel quite so much like a horrible person who apparently doesn’t care about hurting other people. Halfway through, I was wondering why on earth I was torturing her like that and almost backed down. I’m glad I didn’t, ultimately, but there was a moment there when I’d have given anything to not have said what I had. Perhaps it would have been easier if one or both of us were given to histrionics. Unfortunately, it was all calm and reasonable and I got to explain how I felt and she explained how she felt, we cried, we went home.

And so it’s done. It’s over. We will carefully avoid all contact and try not to run into each other for the time being, and hopefully, over time, she’ll be able to stand being in the same room as me. She’s a wonderful person – just not someone I should be in a relationship with.

 

A Moment July 14, 2008

Filed under: Figuring it out,Polyamory — Araliya @ 4:24 pm
Tags: ,

Someone asked me a few months ago what I ultimately wanted with my relationships, where I saw them going, etc. At the time, I had no clear idea and, for the most part, I still don’t. But the other day, A stopped by and, while I was in the other room, I heard him and H talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the friendly, warm tone they were using made me smile. They get along. They have stuff to say to each other. They make the same kind of (awful) jokes and defend each other for making them too.

I like that. I like that very much. It makes me happy to hear them getting along. It makes me hope very very quietly – so that I don’t disturb things by pushing too hard – that this can continue indefinitely and keep growing. Growing into what exactly, I don’t know, but growing all the same.

 

Telling Friends July 8, 2008

I came out as bi and poly to a lovely friend of mine the other day who was great about it. Two things prompted my telling her. One was that it is becoming increasingly difficult not to mention A and M in conversation. They’re important to me and my relationships with them have become a big part of my life, to the extent that it is almost impossible to fill anyone in on what I’ve been ‘up to’ since the last time we met without mentioning them.

The second reason was that a mutual friend tends to frequent a place A and I are often in and around so it’s not impossible that she will see us together at some point. If that happens, I think she would probably get in touch with our friends to tell them or ask them about what was going on, and personally I’d rather my closer friends heard about it from me first. I’d rather short-circuit any gossipy stuff where it matters. I’m not terribly concerned about what she might say to anyone she knows – that’s her prerogative – but people we both know and who matter to me I’m a little more concerned about. Of course I could just tell her, but we’re not close enough and I don’t particularly want to. It’s an effort to bring up the whole poly thing because, in the heads of the majority of the people around us, H and I have been neatly filed away as straight and monogamous for years now and attempting to change that would draw more attention to our relationship with each other than I want. And more than the attention itself, it’s the type of attention that bugs me. It’s the way people ask questions that tells you whether they’re genuinely concerned and interested or just asking because they think you’re a freak – I’ve spent enough time getting the latter for other reasons to know the difference.

So that’s two local friends who know, and a third that I shall tell at the next opportunity. There are one or two other people in particular that I want to tell, but I don’t know when or how. Otherwise, I’m fairly open and visible when I’m out with either M or A in places where acquaintances might spot us. These are not people that I have any kind of investment in so I’m not concerned about what they might think or say, though I’m happy to talk about it if asked. I doubt I will be though.  I do still hesitate to refer to either A or M when talking to people I know through work or casually, but then I don’t really mention H either to people I don’t care about to some extent, so while I may feel a twinge or two when I let something particularly relevant slide, it’s not a huge deal.

What I am still worried about – and I’ve mentioned this is previous posts – is one of H’s friends seeing me with M or A as we’re not out to them. My own friends I can deal with. His, I’m not so sure about. I know I’d feel quite defensive and I’d probably be tempted to imply that he wasn’t monogamous either just to make myself look less ‘bad’. Also, I think that in some cases M might be easier for them to handle than the idea of me being with another man because, thanks to what folks have started calling the ‘hot bi babe syndrome’, my bisexuality could be read as being about pleasing H, thereby allowing it to still fit to some degree into the whole heterosexual-men-are-the-center-of-the-universe thing. But there’s no room within that trope for my relationship with A. They couldn’t stick with the idea that I’m doing it ‘for H’ because that would make them question his orientation, which is something most of them would probably prefer only slightly to chewing lightbulbs, so they’d have to consider that I was doing it for, well, me.

(Wow. I am honestly amazed at the chorus of ugly words that started howling through my head as I typed that. Talk about conditioning.)

Also, where H could be seen as gracious and tolerant for ‘letting’ me have my cute little relationship with another woman (not to mention ‘lucky’ by some definition because the idea that he wouldn’t have sexual access to my girlfriend is too bizarre to consider), it is unlikely that he would be seen as anything but weird and possibly insane for standing by while I got involved with another man. The way I see it, that is because, au fond, women still are considered property and men are considered owners. No matter how ‘equal’ and ‘modern’ your relationship or you yourself may be, no matter whose name you take or don’t take, who does the cooking or the cleaning, who earns more, who takes care of the kids, etc., when you get right down to it, the wife is still considered the husband’s property. Oh the husband may ‘belong’ to the wife too in some ways, but really it’s only because he allows it. If he really wanted to, he could put her right back in her place, and we all know where that is.

All these assumptions make it even more difficult to explain that some of us resist the trope right down to its roots. Yes H and I are married and yes that gives us certain benefits and perks that make our lives more comfortable, but outside of that, our relationship is ours. Before I got married, my father asked me why I would willingly enter into a relationship that was inherently unequal, and I replied that it was because I knew it wouldn’t be. He was skeptical and, to be honest, I was a lot more unsure than I let on, but hey, we did it. Our relationship is our own. Neither of us falls neatly into the category of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ other than legally, and H generally avoids using the terms when he talks about us – in fact, I tend to use the former far more than he does. And our relationship happens to have grown to the point where it can accommodate my involvement with other people without that involvement threatening my relationship with H.

But while I’m secure in my relationships and in what I’m doing, I hate the idea of H being thought of badly. I know, I know. It’s the people who would do that who have the problem, not me or H (or A or M, for that matter), but it’s still hard to stomach. I also know that it hasn’t happened yet and I am probably not giving his friends enough credit, either, painting them as some kind of knuckle-dragging medieval ogres (preemptive strike, anyone?).  And yet here I am tying myself up into knots over it just the same.