Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

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?

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“Mine!” September 27, 2010

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

 

Poly Lessons May 17, 2010

Filed under: Polyamory,Relationships,Sex — Araliya @ 7:47 pm
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Gleaned first hand from the past few years of being poly and in no order other than the one in which they occurred to me:

  1. It’s a cliche, but communication really is key. This doesn’t mean you have to jabber on incessantly about every passing feeling, but check in. Touch base. Ask your partners how they’re doing every now and then and then listen to what they say.
  2. Related to the above, different people have different communication needs. Figure out what yours are and ask your partners what theirs are. Work out some sort of middle ground if they don’t match.
  3. Tell your partners you appreciate them. Tell your metamours. Tell your friends too. Nobody likes to be taken for granted.
  4. You don’t lose anything by being honest and truthful. Sure some things may be hurtful or it may be the wrong time to bring them up – hanging on to stuff till you work it out is fine if that’s how you function – but if they start to weigh on you or affect your relationships, talk.
  5. Poly friends are a blessing.
  6. “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.” (From Erica Jong’s How to Save Your Own Life)
  7. Try to find a local poly discussion group or community. It may not be your cup of tea and you may only end up going once before you run screaming, but you’ll still have gained two things:
    a. the knowledge that other people out there are just as weird, if not weirder, than you, and
    b.  some understanding of what you don’t (and therefore eventually do) want from your life/relationships.
  8. Monogamous friends who get your poly lifestyle or at least take it in their stride are awesome.
  9. Online calendars, like Google’s, are a great way to organize your time and to let your people know your availability and commitments.
  10. Different people have different needs and expectations. Ask.
  11. When you’re with someone, be with them. Time and attention are pretty much the most valuable things you can offer someone and being distracted or spending ages on the phone/reading your mail/chatting with someone else online, etc. is just rude. Barring an emergency or routine checking in, try to minimize interruptions.
  12. If you have to cancel on one partner because of another partner’s availability, be up front about it and reschedule rather than leaving them hanging.
  13. When a partner cancels on you because they’re ill or busy with work, you might want to think carefully before calling them the following day and telling them how it was for the best because you hooked up with so-and-so.
  14. The woman or man you are with is not a carbon copy of that other woman or man you happen(ed) to be with. Learn to appreciate the differences between individuals.
  15. A corollary to the above: when the person you’re in bed with objects or otherwise indicates a dislike for something you just did, the appropriate response is not “but all the other people I’ve been with really like it.”
  16. If your partners are or become friends, they will eventually share embarrassing stories about you or commiserate about what a bed hog/tease/bossyboots/etc. you are. This is not a bad thing.
  17. That said, not all your partners will be BFFs. This is also not a bad thing.
  18. You will not become instant best friends with all your metamours either, but there’s no harm being cordial.
  19. Metamours you do bond with can be and incredible source of support and friendship.
  20. Yes, people fall for metamours. This is not the end of the world, but at some point you need to decide what you want to do about it because whatever you do has the potential to change all three relationships.
  21. You do not have to ‘prove’ your poly-ness by having sex with people you don’t really want to have sex with, or by participating in kinds of sex you do not want to/aren’t comfortable participating in.
  22. Following on from that, one of the greatest things about polyamory is that, because you no longer have to choose one relationship over another, with all the attendant pressure and drama of that decision, you can assess the merits of each relationship far more calmly and act from a more rational than emotionally desperate position.
  23. Cuddle piles are awesome.

That’s all I can think of for now. Any suggestions?

 

“Coming Out” October 15, 2009

Filed under: Bisexuality,Coming out,Polyamory — Araliya @ 7:49 pm
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How much do you tell people? When do you tell them? How? Should you tell them anything in the first place? Why?

I’ve been poly for over a year now and haven’t run into any major issues with my relationships. I’m happy with my partners, they like each other, I like their partners, it’s all good.

But when I talk to my colleagues or to an acquaintance, how do I work in the partners? Thus far, I’ve spoken about my boyfriend/partner to some, about my girlfriend to others and about my husband to most. In some instances I’ve mentioned both my husband and my partner/boyfriend, but generally the persons I’ve been speaking with have assumed I was talking about the same person. Given that these are throwaway conversations with people I don’t intend to have any kind of deep-and-meaningfuls with, that’s not so bad. Flying under the radar and all that.

But what about contacts that are a bit more than that? What about people who, because we see each other more often, eventually mention their kids and what they did that weekend, or the funny thing that happened with their in-laws, etc.? At some level, you’re expected to reciprocate with stories of your own lest you seem uninterested in theirs. And I’m not uninterested. These are nice people who are fun to talk to and while they’re not on my BFF list, I don’t want them to think I’m being standoffish or that they’re boring me because neither is true.

My boyfriend gets mentioned more often than my girlfriend because, as I said earlier, people tend to confuse him with my husband, and that works fine for me. ‘Girlfriend’ however is a word that would draw attention and possibly questions or confusion from people who’d assumed I was straight. Now, on the one hand, so what? They made an assumption and it turned out to be wrong. Happens all the time. They’ll live. On the other, I dread the poly 1o1 conversation because I don’t want to have to explain the ins and outs of my lifestyle, or worse, have to give a summary and then have the person assume a whole new set of things.

But then again, why should I care what they assume? Why not just put it all out there and expect them to catch up on their own? There’s plenty of information out there – why should I have to explain anything? In general, I’d tend to agree with that, but then you could argue that the best way to avoid the tedious task of explaining things is by simply not mentioning them in the first place. It’s a bid disingenuous, after all, to throw something out there that’s clearly ‘out there’ by current social standards and just blink at people and say ‘what?’ all innocent-like when they don’t get it.

In retrospect, it was far easier to come out to existing friends because I already knew who I needed to tell and to whom it just wasn’t relevant. With new friendships, it’s a lot harder because you don’t know what level they’ll eventually find and it’s a bit hard walking the tightrope between full disclosure and oversharing. You don’t want to spring something on them that they really don’t need (or care) to know, but you don’t want to leave it too late and make them feel like you’ve been misrepresenting yourself or just plain lying to them all along.

Throw in other potential issues like professional contact, legal requirements, the likelihood of your lifestyle being used to discriminate against you, the impact of word getting out to whomever it is you’re not all that cool with or with entities or organizations  or communities that might create issues, etc., and it can get a bit worrying. I know there’s no delineated ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it, but I wish there were some sort of general guideline, because I really don’t know what to do sometimes.

 

Pass Go. Collect $200. January 8, 2009

Filed under: Polyamory,Relationships — Araliya @ 9:56 am
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Happy 2009, people.

I always feel one should have something terribly profoud to say at this time but I can’t quite bring myself to wax lyrical about the newness of the new year and all that because you know as well as I do that once the tipsy excitement of it all wears off, you’re going to go right back to living mostly just as you were before the year changed. Luckily for me though, that’s still pretty good. Way better than the beginning of 2008, when I was insecure and lost and frustrated and all those other nasties. While life is rarely completely free of such things, there are other things – love, work, friendship, community – that can mitigate their effect and those things I have received in handsome measure over the past year. So even though most of them do not read this blog, I still want to thank my loves, H, A, and S, for being in my life and for teaching me so much about life, love, relationships and how not to screw it all up. Here’s hoping that this year is just as exciting as the last for them and for everyone reading this.

 

Restricting Language December 24, 2008

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

 

The 12 Poly Days of Christmas December 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Araliya @ 2:42 pm
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You find the darnedest things on YouTube.