The Slut, The Witch, and the Solo Poly Woman

“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”

~
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves

There is so much that has been written, and so much yet to find expression, in the lives of those who have been raised as women. For centuries, being born with a uterus has meant being locked into being nurturing, polite, gentle. Women have always sought to break out of those limitations, and dared to ask to be seen for more than their breasts, their sex appeal, or their procreative abilities. We ask to be known for our intelligence, our personalities, our integrity, our insight, our wildness, and our strength. This is the timeless journey to find “the great woman”, and there are many expressions of who the Great Woman can be.

I wish to share something of my own journey in this.

Throughout them all, giving up her individuality, she would become the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point, and in which they might vivify and embody their images of woman’s frailty and sinful passion. Thus the young and pure would be taught to look at her, with the scarlet letter flaming on her breast,—at her, the child of honorable parents,—at her, the mother of a babe, that would hereafter be a woman, —at her, who had once been innocent, —as the figure, the body, the reality of sin. And over her grave, the infamy that she must carry thither would be her only monument.

~ from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is implied trust of the partner of someone who is well liked and trusted. Whether conscious of it or not, we form opinions of people that are often informed by our opinions of the people they are in relationships with, and our perceptions of the interactions in those relationships. Without visible partnerships and relationships- which can happen both to Solo Polyamorous individuals, as well as individuals who need to keep their relationships secret (which can be for a variety of reasons)- opinions can grow through a kind of tunnel vision, where we are never able to witness the other facets of a person’s character and integrity.

growing togetherThere are many things I miss about being ‘coupled’, many moments I wish I had a nesting or primary-like partner: when I want to check in about someone new I’m seeing, or need to talk about something I’ve experienced. There is absolutely a void there, one that I seek to fill through my friendships, and by gently inviting partners into that space as our relationships allow.

Whereas coupledom offers a mechanism where someone can say, “Hey, your partner was out of line there”, or even allow someone to call their own partner in, the uncoupled person has the potential to be a source of chaos- and sometimes, it’s true, they are- because there’s no fail-safe accountability system that is immediately obvious. And, as human beings, we have learned to be suspicious of individuals who don’t have someone to hold them accountable, encourage them to apologize for their mistakes, or support them to own their actions, even when they’ve made poor choices.

In honest non monogamous relationships it can be tricky to balance the individual requests for privacy, with requests for transparency from other partners. With no primary partner to be accountable to, I’ve lived my relationships with a particular degree of openness, allowing my close friends and partners to take the place of that accountability normally handed to one person only. Blogging about my experiences has been one way of offering myself with accountability, but it certainly hasn’t been the only way. I’ve learned to be less impulsive in my actions, and to temper my passions with patience. I trust the people around me to let me know if I’ve acted out of line. And, I ask my partners and my friends to trust me, as I allow my life to be a little more transparent than most

But trust is hard. Trust is not easy. Everyone’s had experiences of trust being broken. And so, some people are looked on by society as more of a risk, more of a threat than others.

I’m recently finding myself confronted with a level of Judgement I hadn’t experienced before. Perhaps it is something emerging as I age and my grey hairs become more populous. Maybe it’s that I continue to stay Solo and uncoupled through the years, committed to my single-hood in many ways. When I began this blog, and at every step of the growth of my path as a Relationship Coach, I have noticed that many have felt challenged by my singleishness personally, and by the idea of Solo Polyamory in general. I was fortunate to find many like minds, and form networks of support through social media, and very quickly felt that I was not alone. However, I live in a bubble of solo-support.

I ask myself, what is it that I’m feeling, that I’m labelling as ‘judgement’? Perhaps it’s fear? Fear that I, as a solo, polyamorous individual, might secretly try to “cowboy” someone’s beloved, rope them off from the herd, and seek to make them my monogamous or primary partner?

Maybe there is a fear because, as a solo individual, I don’t appear to be answerable or accountable to anyone. The kinds of agreements that help a primary couple in their path to opening up are not ones that I have to make with any partners. I don’t need to make a check in call or let my partners know before I have sex with someone new (though, I do choose to keep them up to date, and let them know if I can when sex with someone new to me might be a possibility). That can bring up anxiety around sexual health and safety, and I get that. But at the same time, I’m forthright in my relationships about operating on a system of trust: trust that my partners will disclose everything I need to know about their sexual health, and asking them to trust that I will do the same.

The very thing that others can be suspicious of Solo people for, is often the very reason we are Solo: a strong desire to preserve our individual sovereignty.

“For me being solo poly seems to have made me aware of just how much ownership I have over myself. That no one, even if I am dating them, has ownership of me or control of my actions (except in the sense that we have agreed on something or negotiated it). It’s lovely to be “free” to just be.” ~Catherin, Solo polyamorist

The Harlot

slutA few months ago I started doing work with a coach, examining archetypal energies, looking at past traumas, approaching his work on an energetic and experiential level. When we were looking at my archetypes, one that stood out, was the Harlot

A Man and One Man at that, is what women are supposed to want. So, women for whom this isn’t of interest have traditionally been treated with suspicion. You only have to read the horrific stories of how lesbians are routinely treated in South Africa and hundreds of other cultures to see how women who don’t base their lives around men are viewed as a threat to the social order. Or look at the rampant slut-shaming of any woman in history who has ever dared to suggest she enjoys sex, or can have it without love, or can enjoy it with multiple partners, or is happy to sell it.”

~Catherine “Chas” Scott 

This archetype reading has really stuck with me, and offered me a new framing to understand how I, a solo polyamorous woman in my mid 30s, can be perceived by the world.

The socially accepted path for a woman today is far more liberal than the expectations held of our mothers and foremothers. A woman can date around through her teens and twenties, but there is an expectation that she will, eventually, find a partner to settle and nest with, and perhaps have children with. She is encouraged to find her sexual empowerment during her dating years, and can continue to have a sexually rich life through her years of marriage, and become a loving, nurturing mother.

Women in nesting partnerships who open their relationships consensually are perceived as doing so with support and agreements with their partners (ideally) and so the sexual freedom that open relating can offer manifests through a funnel of clear accountability. The safety zone created by being coupled, makes this woman’s sexual empowerment safer, perceived to be tempered by her partner.

While a sexually empowered solo man is often deemed a ‘player’, an archetype sometimes celebrated, the only framework we have for understanding the sexually empowered solo woman is as a slut, a whore- the harlot.

“Recently I’ve been subject to what I feel is, if not downright slut-shaming, then at least some pretty harsh judgement by other women due to my fairly sexually open persona. What I perceive in those women is projection of their own insecurities, possibly also jealousy that I’m unafraid to admit that I’m attracted to more than one man, and ultimately a need to police other women’s behaviour and desires because I represent a threat to this starvation economy, where Men are the ultimate prize, and Other Women are our competitors for that prize. I find it kind of amusing, if I’m honest, but it’s also pretty sad. “

~Catherine “Chas” Scott 

 

spice girls 2

The Spice Girls: sexually empowered women celebrated in their 20s, but shunned in their 30s.

The unwed and solo woman, empowered in her sovereignty- including, but not limited to, empowerment in her sexual and sensual expressions- is terrifying to society. I don’t think it’s that she is fundamentally scary; I think it’s because she embodies the antithesis of the accepted order of things.

Take the stigma of being a woman, and add to that the stigma of being a sexually forward woman, who articulates her desires, a ‘slut’ if you like. But a slut is no longer a slut if she is coupled, owned, tamed. She can be a slut when she is in her twenties, fresh and exploring.

The slut who remains unowned, untamed, beholden seemingly to only herself beyond her 20s- that’s terrifying. She is an unknown variable, a ‘witch’ of seduction.

Solo polyamorous women in their 30s, 40s, and older, have faced all kinds of discrimination and shaming- from employers to family members, to complete strangers. People question “Well, what’s wrong with you?” when they learn that you are not interested in marriage, and not desiring to have children. “Why are you afraid of commitment?” come the well intentioned inquiries. Doctors and other medical professionals profess “Oh, you’ll change your mind about having children eventually.”

The Witch and the Crone

witchThe desire to not have children, for me, is not just from my own miscarriages, but also arises when I see dear friends surrendering dreams to their children to make manifest for them, some two decades from now. While my desire to be unshackled by legal wedlock was born from seven years living in default monogamy and sinking into co-dependance within that, the commitment to stay unwed and without bearing children of my own has grown from a very real desire to focus my energy and time on other endeavours.

In ancient societies, an older woman who dedicated her life to disseminating the wisdom of the community, who could speak up with boldness, was seen as the Crone- a perhaps mysterious elder to be respected.

But if a younger woman grew into her Crone-hood before her hairs were grey and while her libido still hummed, a woman who was perhaps childless yet passionate- she was labelled a Witch.

“The archetype of the witch is long overdue for celebration. Daughters, mothers, queens, virgins, wives, et al. derive meaning from their relation to another person. Witches, on the other hand, have power on their own terms. They have agency. They create. They praise. They commune with nature/ Spirit/God/dess/Choose-your-own-semantics, freely, and free of any mediator. But most importantly: they make things happen. The best definition of magic I’ve been able to come up with is “symbolic action with intent” — “action” being the operative word. Witches are midwives to metamorphosis. They are magical women, and they, quite literally, change the world.”

~ Pamela J. Grossman

I never fully appreciated it until now, how much my body would change in my 30s. How much my energy levels would shift, and the extent to which I would desire to untangle myself from the very limiting scripts of expectations placed upon me because of my physical biology.

A woman in her 30s is ‘supposed’ to be kept, mothering children, boundlessly compassionate, giving her nurturing to anyone and everyone, and she helps sustain the status quo. If she says no to any of those things, if she asserts her boundaries around what feels good and doesn’t feel good for her, if she speaks up against things happening in the world that don’t sit well for her, if she dares ruffle any feathers at all, she is often shamed and both she and those around her are made to believe she is being neglectful and selfish, and potentially dangerous.

As I move through another layer of understanding my inner Good Girl (a term coined by my friend and colleague Marcia Baczynski), I find I just don’t have energy to play into that story of self limitation any more. As risky as it is to put myself out to the world as who I am- queer, solo, polyamorous- and as much as I may be shamed, even treated with suspicion in certain quarters, it costs me far more inside my soul and my heart to not be open about who I am and to live my life authentically.

I don’t know if what I write will make sense for anyone other than the other solo poly women who will read this. It can be challenging for us to find community, to be accepted in an experience of village/tribe/community when we are so clear on our soloness, our desires, and our edges. Some perceive that as being in conflict with their values around Community. We are emotionally strung up for having boundaries. We are berated for not meeting someone else’s expectation or assumption of a perceived obligation.

The Great Solo Woman

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I want to invite a new possibility into this conversation.

In the Good Girl Recovery program we talk about bringing our Great Woman into the world. She’s the one with beautiful bold boundaries, who isn’t trapped in by the ‘shoulds’ society tells her, who does not quietly suffer from tolerations that she has the ability to address. She is empowered. She has her voice. She ruffles feathers. She shines into the world.

Just as our old foremothers in their crone-hood became keepers of wisdom, the elders and teachers of communities, I hold that for us younger, solo poly women seeking out our Great Woman, we too can become holders of insight and guides of sorts. I feel that, moving into my life as a relationship coach, I’m already exploring this. My primary relationship these days is in collecting my writings, sharing my thoughts, and coaching others through their journeys to understand themselves and their loved ones.

I don’t wish to be plagued by the feeling of self shame that arises when someone casts a subtle judgement on my life choices, or when someone skews my outspokenness, my boundary setting, or my comfortability in my sexuality, into a narrowed implication of my values and intentions.

And- this is not to say that the coupled women and the mothers do not have their own struggles to be seen. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I want every woman to find her Great Woman.

I look first at my own life. In keeping with the wisdom that says one must look after one’s self first before tending to others, I feel so palpably now that what I’m seeking is a means to dance courageously into my Great Woman, into my harlot-crone, the wise lover, the wild knowledge giver.

Her magic is to fall in love, not with a single human body or soul, but potentially with everyone, and every thing that is.

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Why I’m no longer on the original Facebook solo poly discussion group (but I am on the new one)

This fantastic post from Aggie at Solo Poly explains whats happened with the group we co-moderated for the last year and a half.
I’m sad that things have turned out this way- the community that the Singleish group has come to represent is one of the things I am proudest of in my life today. I had this idea that, well, there must be other people doing polyamory without primaries, and that it would be pretty rad to get everyone together to share experiences and ideas.
The fact that the group blossomed to over 3000 people is phenomenal. It’s taken hours of volunteer work from all the admins to nurture the growth of this group, and through that process I’ve come to develop some fantastic friendships and have learned so much.

SoloPoly

Since its creation in early 2013, I’ve been very active in the original Facebook group for singleish & solo poly people. In fact, I’ve been part of the moderating team since the beginning, helping it grow to nearly 3100 members.

But I haven’t been a moderator there for a week now, and as of last night I am no longer even a member. Neither change was by my choice or my doing.

Here’s what happened, why I think the recent dramatic (but so far publicly unacknowledged) changes to that group are highly problematic for its members, and why I’ll be participating in a new Facebook group for solo poly people — where I welcome readers of this blog, members of the original Facebook group, and others interested in discussing solo polyamory to join me.

View original post 2,388 more words

Polynormativity and the New Poly Paradigm.

The media presents a clear set of poly norms, and overwhelmingly showcases people who speak about and practice polyamory within those norms…. polyamory is presented as a hip new trend that edgy straight folks are trying out, and boy, are they ever proud of it. 

~ Sex Geek, “the problem with polynormativity”

This article on polynormativity, quoted and linked to above, appeared recently on poly-friendly blog Sex Geek, and has triggered shouts of joy from those for whom poly-normativity isn’t a part of their paradigm, with contrasting outcries from those for whom polynormativity is a valid and functioning structure for their relationship style.

Im-With-ThemWhat is polynormativity? SexGeek defines it as four norms being perpetuated by the media:

  1. Polyamory starts with a couple
  2. Polyamory is hierarchical
  3. Polyamory requires a lot of rules.
  4. Polyamory is heterosexual-ish. Also cute and young and white. Also new and exciting and sexy.

Sex Geek goes on to highlight three key problems she has with polynormativity:

  1. It’s a hierarchical model that can come with a host of problems for everyone involved  in part because rigid adherence to rules can ignore the emotional and physical needs of individuals.
  2. The media presents polynormatvity as the way to do Poly.
  3. The perpetuation of this norm screws over newcomers to poly who do not line up with those four norms.

I think it’s important for us in the Poly community to engage in discussion about the many ways to have multiple open and ethical, loving and intimate relationships. Your poly may not be my poly, but our ways of being poly can co-exist, and can even be compatible.

Once upon a time, if you weren’t straight, you were simply ‘gay’. We now possess a much richer lexicon for describing sexual orientation and identity. The ethically non-monogamous world has still too few descriptive labels to really accurately capture the full spectrum of how people approach their relationships. Swinger, monogamish, polyamorous… these few words are insufficient.

I have no problem with people who practise polynormativity. In fact, many friends from within the poly world are arguably in relationships more closely resembling polynormativity than anything else.

But, I look at my own personal relationship style in comparison and, well:

  1. I’m not part of any couple, I’m single… ish.
  2. The only hierarchical structure in place for me is that my own needs take top priority at all times.
  3. If I am in a relationship with someone who has a primary with rules and guidelines set out for how they take on new lovers and partners, then I will gladly respect and accomodate to these as long as I’m not beng taken advantage of or treated as a lesser being. In my own life, too many rules are restrictive, and I prefer ever evolving guidelines. My only non-negotiables are disclosure about STIs and testing, and honest assertive communication.
  4. I’m definitely bisexual, of mixed ethnicity, and whilst I am often told I am cute and exciting, I think all it is, is I’m just doing my best to be the most awesome me I can be!

Polynormalcy has its role, and has its value. For many it’s the first exposure to the idea of polyamory as a ‘thing’, as something beyond just straight up swinging with no emotional involvement. But it’s not what works for everyone. Being in a monogamous-primary partnership before opening up is a huge leap. It takes dedication, and the couples I know who have been able to make it work have, for the most part, done some kind of counselling or therapy together at some point in the journey, with a professional who ‘gets’ and understands open relationship dynamics.

Unicorns ahead!

Unicorns ahead!

I arrived to polyamory through an attempt at polynormativity. I was in a primary relationship, married. We were unicorn hunters for a while. After having one night of drunken unicorn fun, I realized I wanted more. We played with the idea of dating outside, but he wasn’t comfortable with me dating other men. I went ahead and did it anyway and had an affair. Eventually, for various reasons, our relationship unravelled.

Once single I thought that I now had a mission to find a new primary. Thats how it goes, right? You find a primary, and then add secondaries. I met someone who, like me, was single and polycurious. In our oxytocin fuelled rapture for one another, and innocent naivety about things poly, we thought, “Oh so we’re like primaries now,” first come first served, finders keepers. We attempted to develop something with a primary-esque flavour and needless to say it didn’t work. We broke up, despite the incredible passion between us.

Fuck, I thought, now what?

I spent hours analyzing the diagram of non monogamy, trying to picture myself in various different scenarios. Nothing quite fitted with what I wanted- and still want- a freedom without boxes. It didn’t seem to exist, at least no one was writing about it. So many people were reading Dan Savage and toting the word monogamish around. Even on OkCupid, single and coupled folks alike were using the term. And, though it didn’t really suit where I was feeling I might fit, it gave me the inspiration. And that was how I came to decide I was Singleish.

And that’s why I am here. This is why I write Polysingleish. Why I am coining new terms to try out within the poly lexicon.

We can only feel a sense of belonging and identity when we find the language with which to describe ourselves.

I am passionate about finding a voice for us non ‘polynormative’ folks who don’t have a primary partner, who pursue poly with as much love and fire as anyone else, who break down the boxes of preconceived notions and write our own individual and unique paradigms  I knew I needed to write this because I couldn’t find anyone else writing about the relationship things I was experiencing. I didn’t see anyone connecting the philosophy of self relationship to keeping sanity within poly relationship fluidity the way I found I was connecting them in my journals.

Polynormative has done much to bring poly and non monogamy into the arena of public awareness and discussion. And, it will probably continue to do so. I do believe it is now time to add poly-alternative to the mix. There are so many ways to be non monogamous, and there are so many ways to do so ethically. So many ways to be polyamorous  with multiple emotional and sexual loving relationships in our lives!

The danger with polynormativity is that newbies to poly encounter it first because it is so prevalent and proliferated now in subculture. Amidst confusion of how to navigate open relationships it offers a clear structure, yes, but it is one that doesn’t actually work for everyone. And for folks like myself who come to it single, or start in a marriage that ends and find themselves partnerless… there has to be something for us. About us.

Bottom line? There’s no single ‘right’ way to ‘do poly’ or ‘be poly’.

There’s many many ways to be ethically non-monogamous in multiple loving and intimate relationships, and over time we all figure out which way brings us the most happiness.

And, perhaps the time has come to start getting the non-normative models of polyamory into the public eye and craft out a language for this new poly paradigm.

singleish

Polysingleish Interviews Franklin Veaux, Part 1: Being Poly

Franklin Veaux www.xeromag.com

Franklin Veaux http://www.xeromag.com

Franklin Veaux has been blogging about polyamory since the earliest days of blogging. As a result, his self-described ‘sprawling web empire’ covers a lot of ground in exploring the realms of polyamory, relationships, kink, and more. The chances are, if you have ever googled polyamory, you’ve read something by him in the search results.
I recently got to cosy up with Franklin (via Skype) and pick his brain about life, sex, relationship expectations, and how many people it takes to make an orgy.

DISCOVERING POLYAMORY

M: How did you know you were Poly?

FV: I knew that I wasn’t mono from the time I was about five. I didn’t know I was poly because I didn’t have a word for it, but I always had this weird thing: when people would tell stories about the beautiful princess who had to choose the suitor, the five year old me was like, “Wait a minute, everyone knows that princesses live in castles, and everyone knows that castles are big, so surely there’s room for both of them, right? I mean, I don’t get it! What am I not getting here?” So it never really made sense to me, and I’ve never been in a monogamous relationship; I lost my virginity in a threesome; I took two partners to my senior prom when I was in high school. There’s never been a point where being monogamous has really made any sense. What I didn’t have when I first started doing this stuff … the word polyamory hadn’t really gotten into circulation then.

M: So how did you build an understanding of what it was? How did you create a framework for your relationship style amidst the fairytale fantasies?

FV: Lots and lots of trial and error. Mostly error, actually. I had very little conception that it was possible to have a committed relationship with someone who felt the same way that I did about relationships, so I was married for a long time to a person who identified as monogamous, and our relationship was not monogamous, but she was never really okay with the idea that I had other partners, so we kept fumbling around trying to make things up as we went along. We managed to make it work for about eighteen years, and then ultimately it fell apart under the weight of her being unhappy being non-monogamous..

M: And, now you are one of the most prolific writers about polyamory on the Internet. You’ve helped in creating a language for people through which they can communicate their relationship style. Are you aware that you’ve done that?

FV: I’ve had people tell me things like that. That wasn’t what I set out to do. I discovered the language of polyamory and other people who were polyamorous sometime around the mid 90s and I sat down and started writing the website for people who were in the position that I was in, for the version of me that didn’t know this was possible. I thought maybe if I write about my experiences, someone else will find that and they’ll be able how to figure out how to make this stuff work without having to make all the trial and error that I had to do. But I never actually imagined that it would run away from me the way that it has. I never thought there were that many people like me in the world.

OPEN-NETWORK POLYAMORY

M: One of the things I see reposted a lot is the diagram of non-monogamous relationship you created.

FV: There are so many ways that people are non-monogamous!

M: Where in the diagram do you fit?

FV: I do open network polyamory which means that the people in my life that I form connections with if I have space and time and energy for it; I can start relationships, and I don’t expect or want to have any sort of power over how my partners interact with other people or form their own relationships. So what that ends up is usually a sort of loose network of relationships. People ask, “Well, where does it end? “I would say people, don’t’ have an infinite capacity for relationships, and when you look at open networks of relationships you will see there’s a few people who have 5 or 6 partners, and a large number of people who have 1 or 2 or maybe 3 partners, and that seems to be the way things shake out.

M: Your network expands across the world.

FV: It does. I have sweeties in London, Canada, and have had partners in the past who have had relationships that have extended all over the place.

M: What does it mean to you then, to have those long distance relationships? Are they someone who, when you are in town, you can fuck? Is there a heartfelt connection? Is there Love? Are there any of the other traditional trappings of a relationship?

FV: I have experimented with the idea of having a partner who is just a recreational sex partner. Doesn’t tend to work very well for me. Physical intimacy seems to open the doorway to emotional intimacy. The long distance partners that I have are definitely loving, heartfelt relationships, that are constrained by geography. And one of the things that I try to do with many of my partners that are long distance is I try to create with them, because that’s one of my love languages- co-creation. I try to do the things that I can to bring them into my life on an ongoing basis. I do things that remind me of them. I will wear bunny ears, which I got from one of my partners in London. I wear a ring from one of my partners who lives in Florida now. So, I try to keep in touch with them that way, keeping them in my day-to-day life. Obviously it’s not as good or effective as living with somebody is. And there are limits to what you can do.

One of the differences for me between a romantic relationship and someone I ‘just fuck’ is, when you have a partner that is just a sex partner, there isn’t an expectation of continuity. You have sex, and go your separate ways, and if you never get around to talking to that person again, there’s not a sense of loss or expectation you stay in touch. As soon as you start having that expectation of continuity, as soon as you start having that person living with you emotionally all the time, that’s when it becomes a relationship.

Franklin’s infographic map of Non Monogamy. Visit http://www.xeromag.com/sexualinformatics/nonmonogamy2.5.2.gif for the full size image.

SINGLEISH POLYAMORY

M: I like that.  So, going back to the diagram…

FV: I keep meaning to make that into a poster.

M: When I look at the diagram, all the scenarios and examples seem to come from a place of someone being in a primary relationship already.

FV: The map comes from a place of being in relationship of some sort, because it’s a map of relationship types. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s primary relationship. I think a lot of it is about a primary type of relationship because as human beings we tend to form close emotionally intimate relationships and so that’s kind of the default for people to be in when they are in a relationship. But, I think its possible for network polyamory to be a looser style of relationship, and certainly there are lots of poly people I’ve met. And before I started dating I was a single poly person because I knew that I was non monogamous, even before I had a partner.

M: I think I just figured out where in the diagram I would fit! There’s a little overlap between open relationships, polyamorous relationships, and dating around. There’s a purple strip in there. That’s probably where I am, being Singleish.

FV: So, there needs to be an X there with your name attached to it?

M: Sure!

FV: Singleish. I like that. So what’s the difference between single and Singleish and in a relationship?

M: I came to the conclusion that I was single-ish because I didn’t want to be in a “committed” relationship; that model of two people get into a relationship and live happily ever after, it works for some people, but not for me. I tried that. The expectations that came with that were challenging. Mainly, the expectation that the other person is there to complete you and make you whole.

FV: Wow, that’s a tricky one too. The idea that you are not complete in yourself and that it’s your relationships that complete you is something that kind of gives me the heebee geebies!

M: I see a lot of people stuck in that. Anyway, I decided that I needed to be in a primary relationship with myself. And that being in a primary relationship with myself, I could still be having an orgy with the universe.

FV: I like that, having an orgy with the universe. I like that a lot!

M: So that’s where the Singleish approach comes from. I date, and I develop connections, and I want to honor every connection where it is in that moment It’s a lot about living in the moment.

FV: Living in the moment I think is probably the best key to happiness that I have ever discovered. And I discovered it by accident. The word Singleish, that’s kind of interesting. How do you define commitment? I’m curious?

M: I want to build connections that have longevity, that have this honoring, that have this love, whether it is platonic or sexual, but it’s not tied into this expectation of “Oh, we should move in together, we should share bank accounts, lets make a family.”

FV: For me, commitment is an expectation of continuity. You are making that person part of your life, whatever that might look like, going forward. But the word commitment doesn’t necessarily imply anything about what that ongoing relationship looks like, only that you are committed to the idea that it exists, that going forward this person is going to be involved in your life in some way.

MEETING POLY PEOPLE

FV: Everyone asks this question- where do you go to meet poly folks? Well, I go to Polys-R-Us. They stockpile them there. If you go on Wednesday night they have them on sale and you can get two for one!The way you meet poly people is you be open about being poly yourself. I have met poly people at McDonald’s, I’ve met poly people at my client’s sites, conferences: it’s all about that willingness to be open.

M: When I separated from my husband, I learned that very quickly. I started dating a married couple, and just mentioning the fact I had a boyfriend and a girlfriend, it immediately got people’s attention.

FV: It tells people your approach to relationship. It tells people you are non monogamous, that you are bisexual, and if you want to meet someone that has those attributes, then be open about having those attributes yourself

M: There are guys who message me on OkCupid who say, “Oh we have so much in common! You’re poly, I’m poly, lets fuck!”

FV: Well yes of course that means you must be compatible!
I got a message from someone on OkCupid once who was 0% match, 0% friend, 53% enemy. How is this possible?  The only way this could be possible is if this person had answered only five questions. So I look at this person’s profile and no, they’ve answered 2000 questions in common with me, and they’re at 0% match, 0% friend.

M: What did they say in the message?

FV: It was like “Oh hi, your profile looks very interesting!” Does it now?

M: I imagine it would! I’ve seen some interesting discussions about OkCupid. Like, should you only answer the questions that pertain to poly in order to find other poly people?

FV: If you want to find poly people you’re not compatible with, then sure!

M: That was my response too!

DEFINING RELATIONSHIP

FV: How do you define relationship?

M: I look at relationship as big R and small r. I have hundreds of small r relationships. Anyone I consider to be a friend, that’s a relationship and it requires just as much mental energy and honoring as a romantic relationship would. The big R relationships, that’s where it’s hard for me to define. There’s a threshold that gets crossed, and a feeling of love that’s not just the chemical hormonal NRE feeling, it’s the ‘Wow, I really like what you bring out in me, I really love what you bring to my life, I can see ways that we can continue to dance together. ‘

 There’s just something in the emotional connection in my heart that I feel which makes me want to be in Relationship with somebody. Right now there are three people in my life that I feel that I am in a ‘Relationship’ with, but not where there’s an expectation or ‘box’ on it. I consider them all to be dear friends, two of whom were good friends prior to the intimate connection, one who I shared an intimate connection with and that opened the door to becoming really good friends.

FV: So are all big R relationships romantic relationships?

M: In their own way, yes. Maybe not in the “let me buy you roses” way. There’s a sensuality that I think is romantic. For me it has a lot to do with the creative spark.  If I can be creative and throw creative ideas back and forth with someone, that to me is exciting!

FV: I definitely understand that because that co-creating thing is my love language also.

NEW-RELATIONSHIP ENERGY

M: Going back to terminology. NRE.

FV: Oh yes, what other people call being ‘in love’, as opposed to loving somebody. I cringe every time I hear somebody say, “Well, I love him, but I wasn’t in love with him”.

M: How do you define NRE? How do you define Love?

FV: My college background was in neurobiology.  I tend to be a mechanist about these things. I define NRE in terms of brain chemistry. NRE is what you’re experiencing when you’re in that part of the relationship when you’re brain is flooded with serotonin and oxytocin and all of these other things and you’re giddy and you see the object of your affection and you know, you get the trembles and the heart flutters, and the palm shaking- this is a biological experience. This is a biological thing. It’s a biological adaptation for social mating whatever whatever. So we feel that way, we fall in love, we feel that giddiness, and we’re like woo this is true love, I will never feel like this again. And you know, it fades over time, because the chemistry changes, and then you meet someone new and you’re like “ooh this is true love, because I will never feel like this again”.

M: Do you think it’s addictive?

FV: Addictive is a tricky word. I think there are people who are drawn to it. And people who feel compelled to seek it out. I am skeptical that anything behavioral can actually be addictive in the true sense of being addictive. I cringe when people talk about sex addiction for example, because it’s really abusing the word addictive. But Yeah I think there are people who can feel compelled to seek that feeling out over and over again.

M: Are they addicted to the surge of hormones?

FV:  Possibly.  Or they’re seeking out the feelings, emotions. They’re seeking out that trembly excitement of oh my god this is so awesome.  It feels good, and there are people who seek out things that feel good. I think that’s probably quite common. The trick is of course realizing it for what it is, and that its not “Oh this is something I have never felt before and this proves I need to sell my house and move in with this person”.

PERMISSION TO SAY NO

M: I would agree. I have struggled with that. With friends who want to take things further and I’m not feeling it. Having to tell them, I’m not there right now, and I’m not sure if I will ever be there. In the past I have made excuses and done the indirect no, but they want to hear yes, so they hear it as a ‘yes eventually’, if they wait long enough I might change my mind. Then they get upset when I start developing other connections that are a definite “Yup, I’m in!”

FV: So, I think when someone asks a question and it doesn’t matter if it’s ‘Do you like pickles on your hamburgers?’ or, ‘Do you want to fuck?’ it has to be okay for the answer to be no. And part of the reason we are indirect about saying no is that it is clear when it is NOT ok for the answer to be no. It’s clear when there’s an expectation that what you want to hear is ‘yes’. And if you are asking a question and its not okay for the answer to be no, then you’re not actually asking the question, you’re making a demand. And that actually goes to expectation management, which is, “It is ok for me to want something from somebody; it is not okay for me to expect something from somebody if that person hasn’t signed on to it”. So, what I try to do for myself, if I am asking somebody a question, whether it’s “Do you want to go out to dinner?” or  “Do you want to date,?” or, “Do you want to have sex?“ I try to do it with no expectation of what the answer has to be and I try to make it clear that its okay for the answer to be no.
So part of the answer to the question is: people who ask need to make it ok to hear a no. And then, people who are asked need to be okay with saying no.

M: So if I get asked a question, and they’ve asked it in such a way that I don’t feel safe saying no….

FV: That puts you in a really bad spot.

M: I need to be assertive in my communication and say, ‘Is it going to be okay if I say no?’

FV: That seems like a workaround, and it feels clumsy, but… since we are so strongly conditioned not to say no, I think that’s a reasonable thing to do. But of course if you really don’t feel safe in saying no, then that suggests there’s another problem there.

M: I’m always worried I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings or offend them, that they will shut down the friendship.

FV: And a lot of people do. If somebody does, if they cant hear a no and shut down a friendship with you because they’re not getting sex, not getting what they are asking for, that’s actually on them and not on you.

M: Yeah, I’ve been figuring that out recently.

FV: Really, what does it say, I’m not going to be your friend unless you give me this, whatever this is, what kind of friendship is that? And unfortunately we do live in a society that lives in this idea that men and women can’t actually be friends. That there’s always this agenda. There’s always sex on the table somewhere, there’s always this goal of the man pursuing sex and the women being the gatekeepers of sex, and that’s a little fucked up.
When you have a society or set of values or cultural assumptions that say you cant be friends with somebody that you are sexually attracted to without sex being on the table, that’s kind of skuzzy.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE AN ORGY?

FV: When we first moved to Portland, we were living in this apartment before we got the house sorted, and there was this pizza place next to the complex and my partner and I would go there and have pizza. There was this woman working there, I can’t even remember her name now. Carolyn maybe? We would see her over and over. My partner and I would always have conversations like, “How do you define an orgy? How many people does it take? Cos you know three people is a threesome, four people is a foursome. What if there are six people and they are three couples and no people crossing- is that an orgy? And so the server who worked there would start getting involved in those conversations, which was awesome! And one time we were having the orgy conversation and she came over and said, “Actually, if its just a bunch of couples, and they aren’t having sex with each other, then I wouldn’t really consider that an orgy.” And this is some random person at a pizza place! God bless Portland, right? So at one point I was in there and I told her,  “You know, I think I have a crush on you’, and she replied, “Really? Thank you.” And that was it. Because there was no expectation attached to it, I wasn’t telling her, “I have a crush on you” with the expectation that she has to say, “Well we should date”. So to hear that without expectation attached to it and just be able to say well, that’s kind of cool, and that was the end of it: that’s the kind of society that I would like to work for.

M:I fully support that.
Speaking of orgies. How many people does it take to make up an orgy?

FV: I think five. Three is a threesome; four people is a foursome. As soon as you get to five, it’s an orgy.

M: I have a theory about prime numbers. I’ve not been able to test it out fully yet. I think sex is better with prime numbers.

FV: Sex is better with prime numbers? Because there’s always going to be one group that has at least three people in it? Because you cant evenly divide it?

M: Yes.

FV: So actually that would mean that its not just prime numbers, its any number of the form (2N+1). Nine is not a prime number, but I think nine would be a very satisfying orgy.

M: That’s true, nine probably would work.

FV: Yes! The best orgies are ones that can be decomposed into (2N+1.) I like that!

Click here to read Part 2 of my interview with Franklin Veaux, where we examine the darker sides of Poly, its connection with the BDSM world, and the responsibility of community leaders… stay tuned, and follow Polysingleish on Facebook to stay up-to-date on new articles!

Authenticity and Affectations

Authenticity

  • The quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.
  • Of undisputed origin or authorship.
  • Bringing an accurate representation of the facts; trustworthy; reliable.

Affectation 

  • A show, pretence, or display.
  • Behaviour that is assumed rather than natural; artificiality.
  • A particular habit, as of speech or dress, adopted to give a false impression.

Authenticity.

Honest expression.

Clear vision.

I don’t think that authenticity is some end point goal to be achieved. Increasingly, I am of the opinion that the achievement of perfection is a futile quest, since the definition of perfection is so innately subjective. Rather, I strive to have integrity with myself, and with all people.

I’ve become aware lately of how this integrity and authenticity relates to my quest to remain singleish. Being singleish really is a whole different mindset to get into. To quote Yoda, you must unlearn what you have learned.

There’s all kinds of ways of showing affection. Orion was describing these to me last night: gift-giving, acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch. I know that my preferences are to be physical, to spend quality time, and to share words of affirmation. Gift-giving and acts of service are things I do without thinking about them too much.

Sometimes though, we feel obligated to give in ways that aren’t our style, or just don’t feel authentic for us.

For example, the first time you say to an intimate, “I love you,” there’s that scary moment of, Will they say it back to me?

Of course, people can say anything, really. What matters is what they actually feel.

Years ago I was in training for a retail management job. My supervisor coached me about giving feedback to my peers and team, and explained to me that its always good to start with “I feel”, rather than “I believe”, because what you feel is personal to you, and no one can ever invalidate that.

Similarly, in relationships, what we feel is non-negotioable. I’ve heard of a lot of poly agreements including a clause on ‘no emotional involvement with other partners’. Who the heck are they kidding, I ask myself, emotions are what make us human! If you’re having sex without any emotions, without any feelings of love spontaneously errupt inside of you, you might as well be mastrubating, really.

So in that moment of the first I Love You, should there be any obligation to speak it back?

No, there really shouldn’t, not unless it feels 100% authentic in that moment to say it. And it would be a good idea (for myself, at least) to let go of the fear surrounding the ‘what if they dont say it back’ thought.

Being Singleish, you also have to stay detatched from what such an utterance could mean. Just as a kiss is not a contract, “I love you” doesn’t mean “marry me”, nor does “come spend the night” mean, “lets have sex”.

I’m learning more and more about the need for this authenticity with my sex life.

I’ve realized that for me, sex is like dessert. I don’t need to have it every day. And I can enjoy it with or without whip-cream orgasms. I can go without for a fairly long time if needs be, so long as my craving for sweetness is satiated by some tasty intimate cuddle time with kisses. And then, there’s days where all I want to do is eat cherry pie.

Most of all, I am realising that the biggest turn on for me is authenticity. Being authentic and honest-in-action according to what you are feeling in the shared moment with one another. No expectation or attatchment to pleasing, or being pleased- either through physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, or quality time- because its that attachment and expectation that causes us to put on the affectations, and the moment I sense someone’s acting out of a feeling of obligation rather than love, I shut off entirely.

When we reach that moment of authenticity in how we are in relationship to others, thats when we can really begin to discover ourselves without selfish motivations, and start the journey to unravelling who we are at our most loving core.

 

authenticity1

Post-publication addendum:
A trillion thankyous to ElkFeather who has taken it upon himself to proofread some of my posts. He pointed out to me that the types of expressing love Orion was talking about was in fact something known as The 5 Love Languages. He gently reminded me that as a good writer, I should be including these references in here for your perusal. So here it is. Thankyou both, Orion and ElkFeather!

O Brave New World!

I’m sitting here, waiting for the bath to run, listening to the pitter-patter of rain and the exploding Halloween fireworks outside, and I am feeling so incredibly lonely and alone.

I question my life choices far more than I should.

What if my mom was right? What if ‘sexually deviant’ people can never be happy? What if there really is no silver lining in all this. Have I been foolish? My heart yearns so badly to have connection with one person, let alone multiple people, and at every turn I find myself feeling disillusioned, disappointed, distracted, defeated.

I want to love with every pore of my being. And I don’t want to limit it. And I’m tired of feeling the connections of love that I build cut short.

WordPress says that the writing assignment this week is to write on the theme “I wish I were”.

Some days, I wish I were monogamous and straight.

I wish I could have had a more ‘traditional’ life. That I could be like the happy housewives, starting their families, looking after their homes, their babies, their husbands; preparing large festive meals for their family and friends; attending community functions and being a productive member of their society. I wish I were able to fathom what that life could be like with me in it.

I wish I were able to stay focussed and devoted to just one person in an intimate monogamous relationship. That I were content with one man and one man only.

However, that isn’t my reality. I tried the mono-hetero thing. 8 years. I was miserable, unhappy, and only began to find joy in my life again when I started to see the possibilities of a poly and bisexual lifestyle.

I spent some time today hanging out with my ex-husband, Finn. People are sometimes surprised that we are still friends, that we still talk, and share with each other what’s going on in our lives. Our separation was so entirely mutually amicable that there’s not really any ‘bad-blood’ between us, and for that I’m grateful. I do miss his company some times. Not the pot-smoking, or his body odor, or boring sex, or frustrating way of doing things, but I do miss his company.

We used to cuddle up on the couch almost every night and watch a tv series, usually sci-fi. We went through Stargate, Farscape, Battlestar Gallactica, Fringe… sometimes we would watch comedy movies, like Blades of Glory, or epic action adventure superhero movies like The Watchmen. He knew my ups and downs, understood my frustrations with my mother, and over the years he learnt how to read when I was just tired versus really depressed. Out of every one who is a regular feature in my life today, he has known me the longest. And so it really hit home this afternoon when he shared with me that he’d had a dream a couple of weeks ago that we were sitting on the couch, cuddled up, watching a movie just like we used to do, and that he missed that- because I miss that too.

Not that we are going to get back together. That’d be a most resounding “no”. We’ve had a good laugh at the very divergent relationship paths we have taken. He’s in a really beautiful, loving, monogamous relationship with a woman who I think is a perfect match for him. They compliment each other in wonderful ways, and I’ve seen that she brings out some of his best qualities, qualities I never saw come out when he and I were together. And I, on the other hand, have been a wild child- this summer especially- diving into the deep end, in many ways, to a world that I had for so long yearned to experience, and yet, never had, till now.

I miss the companionship. The comfort of that reliable relationship.
When I have longed so much for the freedom that this poly lifestyle affords me, when I have spent so many years with my real self pent up, why is it I feel so discontent and unhappy now?

I wish I could have more emotional detachment in my poly relationships. It’s a common misconception that poly people have some kind of immunity to feeling hurt, jealousy, anger, or any of those more shadowy-side of the emotional spectrum. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, I just know that I most certainly feel all of those, as equally as I feel the happier things like love, adoration, joy and contentment.

I can’t help but love someone. And love them completely. And want to share that love all-the-time. And maybe its the impatience in me that causes me so much grief, perhaps I want things so immediately that I rush into things with a wild abandon, only to grind to a halt when I realise I’m moving too fast and should stop to think things through.

What on earth do regular, normal people do? You know, those straight and monogamous ones? Is there some massive chapter in life skills, covering patience and virtue, self restraint and thoughtful consideration, and maintaining one’s emotional well being that I somehow missed out on entirely? Are there bi and poly people who have those skills too? If they do, how on earth did they learn them, and where can I sign up for the next course please?

I wish I were able to take a peek into the future. To look at myself in 10, 20, 50 years from now, and see what I’m doing. My hope would be that I’m happy, and content. Surrounded by people I adore and share mutual bonds of affection and love with. It would be so consoling to know that, despite the momentary ripples and tremors I experience day-to-day in my here and now, somewhere down the road there’s equilibrium waiting for me.

So much of my self-work the last few months has been about receptivity and my inability to be open to receiving. This has manifested in many ways- even down to my ability to let someone else give me an orgasm. Somewhere in my subconscious lies a pattern of diving into connections and then shutting down when they might be reciprocated fully, of refusing help from people who love me lest I seem weak, of stubbornly persisting in courses of action that I know will lead me nowhere and/or could cause me harm, a pattern of lashing out in anger at the people I care about the most when I feel my most vulnerable and scared.

In that preview of the future, I’d hope to see a me who is able to receive: who can trust the people she meets, rather than treat them as enemies first and friends later; a me who has forgiven all wrongs, including the mistakes I myself have made; a woman who can really walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, and fully embody the core values she believes in and espouses. A me who is gentle with herself, and with others.

Interesting to note that in expressing that future vision, I don’t seem to care if I have a life-partner or not, or whether I have children of my own or not. I think I’ve trained myself to be unattached from the notion of either, even though deep down in my core, I know I still want both. It won’t look like anything that I had in my marriage with Finn. I honestly doubt, if it happens, that it will resemble any other relationship model I’ve known. But, there’s that fantasy lurking in the subtext of my mind- of the perfect picket-fence partnership, with plenty of poly playfulness- that needs to be acknowledged.

Yes, I am still looking for a life partner. Eventually. Not right now, though some long-term security and stability would be quite welcome. Can I do this while still being poly and singleish? I wish I were certain that I could. I’m not. I’d like to believe it’s possible. Only time- and a heck of a lot of patience- will reveal if it really is.

Dancing with Detachment and Devotion

“As spiritual searchers we need to become freer and freer of the attachment to our own smallness in which we get occupied with me-me-me … If we … attune our mind to …  indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy. Also recalling our own experiences in which we acted generously or with compassion for the simple delight of it without expectation of any gain can give us more confidence in the existence of a deeper goodness from which we may deviate.”
~Ravi Ravindra, The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra
“Relationships aren’t about making you happy, they are about making you conscious.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Perhaps one of the greatest unspoken challenges in my polyamarous lifestyle is this: the dance of balancing incredible attraction with a level of detatchment.

When I am with a lover, I want to be one hundred and fifty percent present with them. I don’t want my mind to be wondering elsewhere. I want to be IN that moment with them- not in the past, not in the future, but right there, breathing their breath, responding to them, dancing that dance. And when that dance moves and shifts and I am alone, or with another lover, I want to be just as present to that moment.

Its possibly one of the most challenging things to train yourself to do. It requires this wierd level of detatchment from expectations whilst giving myself wholly to the moment at hand. I’m not with someone thinking “this will go somewhere”, or “I can’t wait until.” No. I’m there, in that moment with them, as much as I can be. Its a dynamic and powerful practice in self discipline.

It has been said that the purpose of yoga is the quietening of the ‘fluctuations of the mind.’ For many yogis and similarly minded students, this means a quiet mind. Maybe going into a private room and freeing yourself of distractions in order to meditate. Perhaps giving up posessions, or sensual indulgences. Living in austerity. Living in celibacy. Absolute detachment from the state of the mind.

I consider myself a ‘yogi’, except that I have instinctively chosen a different approach, one that I’m only now beginning to understand yet alone be able to articulate.
In the book “Tantra Illuminated”, a fantastic book that covers the history and origins of tantra (as in, tantra before it became a sex-thing), author Christopher Wallis writes:
“Being predominantly aware of our awareness comes about ether spontaneously or through Spiritual practices. We do have spontaneous experiences … from time to time … Perhaps realizing you are falling in love… In these moments, we feel expanded, our awareness is intensified… these moments… are tiny imitations of our inner potency… If the false mental constructs about ourselves are dissolved the Heart will stand revealed in its fullness.”
This is like a hyper-awareness. Rather than detatching from the mind and body, its a state of being fully aware of the mind and body. Rather like living in a constant state of mini-orgasm.
As author Jeff Brown puts it, “Transcend nothing, include everything.”
I experience the strongest sensations of love as flowing from within myself. The time I spend with partners/lovers/flovers is a meditation on Love, allowing the novelty of love and passion to find expression in each breath. It’s my own means of adoration and devotion to the beauty I see in the person- or people- I am with.

I’m not poly because I seek love or validation in myself. I’m polyamarous because I experience so much love within me to be shared that I cannot hold it back.

Being present with one person like this requires a lot of self work. A lot of releasing fears based on past experiences. A lot of surrendering of future fantasies. Being fully present with multiple partners-  it’s not for the faint of heart.

I’ve been engaged proactively in this process with myself now for over two years- tearing down the masks and the habits that hold me back from being present, and discovering new and exciting layers of my individuality. I no longer want to tone down the intensity that seems innate to my personality. Having grown weary of being ‘not me’, I’m learning how to un-zip this wildly present orgasmic Me.

I love to love. Perhaps I am simply in love with Love itself, seeking other lovers to share the delights of the moment with.

Kickin’ it Kinky

At one point on my OkCupid profile I described myself as something like vanilla ice cream with white chocolate and raspberry swirls, aspiring to be drizzled in butterscotch and meringue pieces.

I’ve got a fun and creative side that has only started to be explored sexually in the last year. There’s all different shades of kinky, its true, and a question that keeps coming up for me is- am I kinky?

I read some blogs that are UBER kinky. I read kinky porn sexy stories. Heck, I’ve been known to enjoy some BDSM porn every now again (especially if its all girls). Almost all of it though seems a little impersonal, and whilst I can get excited as an observer, I find it challenging to get into on a real-life level because so much of who I am is about connecting with lovers on a very personal and profound level.

Rope- I love it. There’s something fun about getting stuck, and its very liberating to experience a freedom within that. Blindfolds, a change in sensory awareness are also fun. And I love to dress up, whether its with the intention of having sex, or not. Chains and collars and whips and paddles and all that jazz? That I’m not so sure about. I mean, it might do something for me. I can’t say I’ve tried everything out yet (and I’ll try anything twice before I decide if its for me or not). The whole handcuffs thing and sexy oil massages…  the only time I really really tried the handcuffs and massaging thing was with my ex husband, and, if you’re one of my twenty adoring hardcore fans, you’ll have read about our unsuccessful ventures into bondage in a previous post. That stuff just doesn’t get me going. And, whilst I’ve often enjoyed being talked dirty to, its a stretch for me to think of anything dirty to say back to my partner- mainly because my brain seems to loose its language capacity when I’m really enjoying myself!

Really, I think I’m more of a tantric kinkster. If, that is, that’s a thing. If its not, I’m making it a thing, as of now.

I went searching at a local new age bookstore for books on Sacred Tantra. All the books I found were either too ‘hippy dippy’- with photos of hemp wearing new age rainbows-and-light folks dancing and leaping through their chakras pre and post orgasm (dude, I can do that already, I don’t need a book)- or they were all science and no spirit- with diagrams and photos of positions and of how the breathing patterns should move and for how long you breathe into each centre, like a scientific manual. Actually they weren’t too dissimilar to the Kama Sutra. If you ever pick up the original text of the Kama Sutra, I dare you to read a bit out loud with your best David Attenborough voice- its really just a scientific commentary on human mating practices, rather than the actual nature of intimacy and energetic connecting that happens during lovemaking. I did find a couple of interesting books that attempted to put a neuvo-spiritual spin on the tantric spiritual and sex practices, with some simple excercises to try out (like eye gazing with your partner during intercourse) and yet lacked the spiritual backbone, and so they skipped over what, to me, is the real gold in the treasure trove that I feel sure is there.

I want a tantra that is sacred and sexual, that’s grounded and enlightening, that teaches you about your body and soul, as well as reveals your partner’s body and soul. Teasing and intimate, present and fun.The kind of pure living-in-the-moment and breathing-creativity that grants you the experience of orgasming with the whole universe. Delicious and decadent. Liberating lovemaking.

I asked Orion about this conundrum of mine. He’s far more experienced in this stuff than I am- hence why he’s my personal rope tutor.

“There’s only two things you need to be kinky,” he said, “Presence, and Imagination.”

Really?

I think I can do that.

Perhaps one of my strengths as a lover is in being creative, and in applying myself to relationships much the same way I do to my creative endeavours- constantly seeking out my edges and daring to traverse them in whatever way works the best for me. Courageously catapulting myself into uncharted territory of tantalizing tantric tenderness.

So here I am, forging my own style of tantric kink.

That might need to be a blog all of its own….

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

Polysaturation [noun]

Describing the phenomena of a poly-identified individual with a full dating/relationship schedule, unable to fit in- logisitically, physically, or emotionally- any new intimate relationships.

It was my friend Margareta who first introduced me to the phrase ‘poly-saturated’. I love it. Immediately groked it. And ever since it’s had me wondering- how do you know when you are polysaturated?

At first, I thought maybe its a logistical thing. I think back to a month ago when I was, I kid you not, going on dates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Okay, maybe not all three in one day. I can easily skip a meal. My room-mate noticed that I cooked for myself only ONCE in that whole week. Thank god it calmed down as I began to realise the insanity of it, and I consciously backed away from any connections I wasn’t feeling overwhelmingly compelled towards in the moment.

Then I thought, maybe its an emotional thing. Perhaps there comes a point where your heart and/or mind can’t handle any more? I’ve caught myself on a few occasions being in bed with one lover and thinking of another- its a terrible feeling. Being present to each partner is a beautiful challenge, absolutely, and is a grand learning curve in mental self-discipline. I’m pleased to say I’m now finding my way around this- helped, perhaps, by the fact that the two main developing relationships I’m enjoying right now are both so delicious and colorful and exciting in their own unique ways.

So I moved on to considering it might be a physical limitation that lets you know you’re polysaturated. I mean, as sexy as I can feel, as turned on as I can be, there always is a point where enough is enough. I don’t think I’m the sort of person who could be having crazy mind blowing sex every day. I’d get bored. Not to mention I’d be exhausted. I tested myself on this recently- going through a weekend of lots and lots of intimacy (which was great, but felt lacking in intensity), to two weeks with no sex.

Yup, two weeks. Not even masturbating. Oh yeah. That was challenging. Went through a lot of chocolate.

It was good to experience and test myself at the extremes. And oh it was worth it for the earth shattering soul-shaking results.

My conclusion? For me, at least, two or three nights of crazy sex a week is a max. Need at least a day inbetween for rest and recharge. But a bit more time inbetween makes it all the more sweeter and enjoyable. Quality, not quantity.

I asked Noel about this idea of polysaturation last night in bed.

I’m immensely curious about his poly experiences. He has this beautiful no-drama attitude towards poly relationships (he attributes this to the positive influence of some wonderful people on the East Coast who were supportive when, several years ago, he and his wife began exploring opening up). Its refreshing, especially when the poly community where I live has grown very close knit and overlapping, and has been known to experience divisions and petty differences. Amidst this almost insular core poly group, Noel walks in with insight on non-monogamy that’s more than just a breath of fresh air; talking with him about poly and open dynamics is like sitting at an Oxygen Bar in zero gravity. (Does that analogy even make sense?) Oh, and the sheer joy on his face when he smiles is more delicious than a lindor chocolate ball…

Anyway, as I was saying. Noel’s got a very wonderful grounded approach to poly. So, talking last night about other lovers in our lives, he mentioned how at one point he had felt too much was going on, and so I asked him: how did you know when you were polysaturated? He pondered for a moment and then answered very simply: “When I no longer had any time for myself”.

Ahhhh.

There’s the answer.

Of course! This makes total sense.

One of my big self-discoveries in my poly persuits is that I need to remember to make myself the priority. My primary relationship is with me.

The moment I run out of time with me, that’s when I need to step back, and either change the frequency with which I see lovers, flovers, and go on dates, or consider if there are some that need to go on pause or move to the back-burner. Another term I’ve heard recently, from my metamor Lily, is ‘dating-lite’. I have to remind myself, there’s no ‘rules’ to this game except to strive for honesty in communication and respect of individuality. Nothing says I can’t be seeing one person weekly, another person bi-weekly, another monthly, and have the occasionally floverly fling, tryst, or orgy.

Its lovely to see how each relationship can unfold in its own unique dynamic. Noel is great at being present to the moment. I’ve noticed that he doesn’t express an attachment to “I have to see you”. Its more like, “Hey, we should hang out again soon. When can we do that?”.

If you aren’t sure just how delighful I find this, then I invite you to check out this video, introduced to me by Margareta. Cringe. Omigod, I never want to be one of those poly people who pull out their schedule to give you that one day of the week they are gonna be able to see you. I know it works for some people. Most certainly doesn’t work for me. Big turn off.

I do, however, need a schedule of some kind.

So here’s what I’ve done.

I’ve asigned days in my week I can go on dates. Its marked in my google calander. Repeating event: Dates. Two nights a week, with a possible third night put aside for ‘light’ dates- you know, the more “hey lets just chill” kind of dates. Then there’s also two nights a week for Me. That’s my time to take myself out for dinner, or yoga, or go dancing. And the rest are pretty flexible. Social nights. Alternative date nights if I need to switch things around.

There we go. A loose structure. And its not like I’m attached to seeing every single lover and flover every single week. In fact, its much sweeter and more delightful when there is space between. Time to process, discover, learn, grow more curious.

My end conclusion in all this?

Really, its not about dating all the people. Or sleeping with all the people.

I’m so clear now that I need to focus my relationships on people who can communicate with ferocious honesty and vulnerability. People I can feel connection, friendship,  camaraderie and a general sense of kinship with. People who share a similar perspective and passion for creativity and spirituality, and are willing to play with combining all of that in bed. And right now, I’m getting that. Oh fuck yes, I am getting that. And still-

Perhaps I’m not as polysaturated as I thought I was.

Maybe- just maybe- there is indeed room for a few more in this current mix.

Perhaps, lots more, depending on the dynamics of things.

And as long as I keep the balance in dedicating time for and with myself, staying in integrity to my values, I think I can step forward and dare to share the love a little more!

Tied-up and Tantalised

I’ve always had a thing about knots.

Learning to tie my shoelaces in school took forever- I had velcro till I was in grade 4 or 5. And I had a pink bag for my lunch that had a pull tie opening. I was always worried something might fall out so I would tie it again and again and again. In sewing clases I could never figure out how to do those nice flat sewing knots, and so would tie at least a half dozen twists to create my very own Gordian Knot.

I once tried to tie myself up, when I was in high school. That didn’t turn out so well. I got stuck. My mom freaked out about it.

On one occasion, again, in high school, I tried to tie up my best friend. In a purely innocent kind of way, naturally.

When Finn and I were married, I once suggested that we try out bondage stuff. I wanted to have my hands tied above my head. I wanted to be blindfolded, to feel out of control and have to surrender totally and utterly. We tried it, and it just didn’t feel right. He was too aggresive, and very uncomfortable with the idea of tying me up. He seemed to struggle with the idea that I was enjoying it. That was our one and only experiment into bondage.

Since then, I’ve had a few lovers who have been willing to play with it. I’ve been handcuffed, tied, blindfolded. I even got to be suspended once at a big party- that was fun, even if I was drunk and more-than-slightly high.

But I really really wanted to experience more.

I wanted to experience rope.

A few weeks back, during a long conversation with a few friends, Orion expressed how he missed having play partners to tie up. My ears perked up like a cat who just heard the can opener twisting around a fresh tin of friskies. We were good friends, like old comrades who had been through some epic adventures and shared a lot of Life stuff with one another, we are on the same page about so much in terms of spirituality and personal growth, but I knew him as more of a light and rainbows kind of person. He played with rope?

Suddenly all the fleeting and ignored what if  thoughts I’d had about him went flashing through my head, and then all the fantasies about rope, and then the little moments of flirtation that had started occurring between us, and I knew I had to find a way to bring it up with him.

I let a week go by. We were doing the summer hanging-out-with-lots-of-friends thing and that just didn’t seem like the right time to bring it up. I was sneaky about it. I just casually dropped it into a facebook chat conversation one day. The next day we met up in person to talk about it more, and the more we talked, the more we realised we had some really wierd kinks and fetishes in common.

Orion is a ‘switch’. Meaning he can dominate one moment, and be completely submissive to me when I want to dominate. I’ve always been able to be more dominant with women, but never with guys. Not for lack of wanting to, I don’t think, but just because I never found myself with men who were okay and comfortable with that.

He’s helping me to get a whole lot more comfortable with that side of myself. And, there’s something quite fun about being able to tie him up too.

Yes, I’ve been learning rope. And we’ve been playing, in this crazy rope and tantric dance, in my tiny little bedroom. And after, we cuddle, and hold eachother, and laugh and giggle hysterically at all of this and talk about spiritual shit and relationships and the singleish life. Its one of the most comfortable and creative sexual partnerships I’ve ever experienced, I think perhaps because of that long standing friendship. I don’t know if most ‘play partners’ share pancake breakfast in the morning, but the fact that we can share a night and morning together is deeply nurturing, and something that was missing in some of my other recent relationships.

Its bondage and spirituality all rolled into one diabolical exploration of intimacy, sexuality, and friendship. And its awesome.

And also, I think its possible I might now be slightly better at tying my shoelaces than I used to be.

Strangers and Surprises

I may have had an epiphany today in the way I’m approaching things.

Well, several epiphanies perhaps.

1. There are three distinct types of relationships that can form right now: lovers in the moment, lovers who become friends, and friends who become lovers. Each one evolves at its own very distinct pace. And its really important for me to figure out quickly, if I’m attracted to someone, which one of these dynamics it might be.

2. The poly community is a small world. Actually, Vancouver is a small world. I’ve had a few cringing moments lately as I have been experiencing a new wave of ‘first dates’, realising that the person I’m on a date with knows someone else I once slept with, or seeing someone I was on a date with a few days prior come in to the same coffee shop where I’m having a date. Ah. Awkward. At what point do I say anything, really? There’s a level at which I say- is it even relevant? And another where I ask myself- what choice would have more integrity?

3. Its good to be clear up front about who I am. In my world, there are no inappropriate questions. If I’m going to be intimate with someone then they’ve got to be ok with my swearing, my quirky humor, my sudden spiritual rants, and all my other eccentricities.

4. Its ok to be patient. In fact, its probably better. This might mean I finally take the plunge and invest in some sex toys (yes, gasp, can you believe I don’t own any?).

5. It can be a lot of fun to meet strangers who you know almost nothing about. I’m endeavouring in my own process to trust my instinct more. Its been scarily accurate about a lot of stuff so might as well see what it can do for selecting who I go on dates with. So rather than engage in lengthy back and forth emails on OkCupid, if I get a good vibe from someone, I’ll say ‘lets meet’. Same on facebook with people from the poly groups who I haven’t met yet, but take a liking to from their comments and posts. The whole process of getting to know a total stranger is really pretty awesome, and can be filled with surprises rather than expectations that lead to disappointments. One recent coffee date, I fully expected a creepy old toothless guy (he uses a pseudonym on facebook and has almost no personal photos), and was very pleasantly surprised to find he was nothing of the sort. Its fun to meet strangers with whom you think you might click .If it ends up that I eventually get to know them naked too, well hey, that could be fun.
I spent a good deal of this summer enjoying a far more fluid lifestyle, travelling and transitioning. This was very conducive to a more fluid lovestyle too, with a lot of spontaneity and fun. But I have to shift gears now. As Joseph pointed out to me, its a small and very intimately connected community, and despite all the attention I’ve been getting, I really shouldn’t let that get to my head. I am relatively new on the scene, and its natural that everyone wants to know me I suppose. Well, who can blame them, I like to think I’m pretty damn awesome, and most certainly worth knowing! But right now, it feels like just a bit too much attention. Its distracting too.

I’m seriously considering avoiding all poly-centric events for a while. Or, if I do go, wearing a potato sack or a burqa. Even better- a potato sack and a burqa. Yes! There we go!

Sex and Sensuality

Alright, lets talk about Sex.

There’s so many different kinds of Sex, and yet most articles and books focus on what, to me, is the more superficial side of sex. There’s oodles of instruction manuals out there, try this position, massage here, etc. Very few people talk about the difference between sexuality and sensuality.

For myself, I crave intimacy in all sex. It’s not as simple as two or more hormonally compatible people getting eachother off. Been there, done that thankyou very much. I’ve had flings and trysts and even a few more long-term experiences like that and while it can be fun, it leaves me feeling drained and dry.

My body is more than just a mastrubation machine.

So what’s the intimacy? When there’s intellectual attraction and emotional attraction on top of the physical attraction, that’s where magic can start to happen. Add spiritual attraction and sparks will start to fly. And that doesn’t preclude one-night stands. Some of the best sex I have had has been spontaneously with people I hardly knew, yet felt an incredibly strong connection with.

Having more than one night a week of sexual extravagance seems to drain me; as much as I really love it, I also want to be able to function properly the next day!

I wonder how orgasms differ for men. I know that for myself there’s a vast repertoire. There’s clitoral orgasms, very different from vaginal orgasms. There’s small inward orgasms which are more like a tiny almost imperceptible squeal, and then there’s the full body quaking orgasms and the mind blowing full body squirting orgasm. And let’s not forget the peegasm. Yes. I said peegasm. Ladies- next time you go to the washroom, hold your pee and fantasize, and hold your pee some more, and then…release. I refuse to believe I’m the only person in the world who does this.

Then there’s the question of what type of foreplay gets you there. Some people need to be dominant. Some love to be submissive. Some are “switch” and enjoy both roles equally. Some people love to give pleasure- their joy is seeing someone else brought to orgasm by their handiwork. Some people are so in their heads they need to be teased in different and unpredictable ways or told stories in order to climax.

Personally, I love it all! One of the most exciting things about having multiple lovers is the variety I get to experience in bed- both in what I receive, and in what each different person brings out of me. Its impossible to get bored.

But the best part of sex? For me it’s in the moments just after the climax, when all your walls have dropped, when your sweet vulnerable soul is exposed to your lover, and theirs is exposed to you, and you can glimpse the truth in their eyes. It’s the gentle stroking of the skin in post-coital bliss, as every cell scintillates and glows with orgasmic delight. It’s the joyful surrender into the arms of someone you trust, as you feel them surrender back into your own arms. It’s the smell of bliss that permeates the room and cocoons you in its warm embrace as you offer up words of honesty that come bubbling forth from the core of your being. It’s that intimacy- when you feel that subtle merging of body and mind- that I crave more than anything.

Flovers and Flerburgs

“I have only one language, but it is not my own” ~Derrida

I find myself frustrated by not having the vocabulary to accurately describe what I experience in relationships. I’ve always found that, whilst I can grok a concept without necessarily needing a matching vocabulary, when it comes to articulating the concepts to others, the right words often evade me.

Right now, there’s a few different individuals I am looking to more casually date and have fun with. They each present a tantalising dynamic that I want to explore, and in each case, things are still quite fresh. With each of them, I absolutely love the idea of ‘dating’ without all the posessiveness and drama that seems to come along with that territory. Perhaps further down the road those terms could apply, but I feel like they do an inadequate job of describing them. I want to go to dinner, run amok in Stanley Park taking photos, hike in remote areas, go to costume parties, have more amazing mind blowing sex, and stay in this space of perpetual open-ness. And at the same time, I have an assortment of friends that have been lovers in the not-so-distant past, and could be again in the near or not-so-near future. With them, there’s no on-going arrangement, so I can hardly call them friends-with-benefits. And the term fuck buddies is nowhere near this equation for me, because with each of them, I feel incredible connection, emotional and spiritual.

So, we seem to need a new term. A term to describe someone who you would/could/have/will/will again have as a lover, and when they aren’t in bed rocking your world, are amazingly good friends, friends who can feel like extended family, or tribe. I’m going to play with the term “flover” for now. A friend who is also a lover. A lover who is also a friend.

 

Having said all of this, maybe we should get rid of all the terms altogether. It seems there is endless discussion amongst poly forums and groups as to defining words in finite terms, rather than recognizing them as fluid and subjective, and I am loathe to get roped into this. As the wife of one of my potential flovers writes, “I’ve decided to give up on the English language where any words that routinely cause confusion are concerned. I shall heretofore replace such words with “flerburg.”

Perhaps the bottom line here is this: A little less conversation, a little more action please. And a lot more flovers and flerburgs.

Origins

Image

When did I first know I was polyamarous? There’s a loaded question.

Let’s start at the begining shall we?

Like many little girls born in the 80s, I grew up on a steady diet of Disney fairytales and Barbie dolls. And yet, when it came to my own make believe stories, I crafted out epic tales of a magical alter ego who had not just one, but three (yes, three!) ‘husbands’. I remember telling my mom the original story and being told, “No, no, no, you can only have one husband at a time!”. I went back and a few rewrites later, the story was adapted to fit the societal norms a little closer. Other make believe/fantasties seemed to be ripe with this common theme- more than one significant other.

I wonder now to what extent I was influenced by knowing the stories of my parent’s own pasts. My mother would tell me stories of her ex boyfriends, and I recall thinking that she still had a lot of love for them. And my father, well- prior to meeting my mother he had been living with his ex wife and his girlfriend all in the same house. I’m still not totally clear on how that dynamic worked. I do know that coming out to my dad was a whole lot easier than coming out to my mom. That’s a story for another post though.

I struggled with dating in high school. A lot. Mainly because I couldn’t make up my mind about who I wanted to date. At age 15 I had this complicated chart where I tracked the different boys I had a crush on, and who I was feeling more attracted to that day. Never dated a single one of the boys on that chart. On the other hand, my favorite game to play at parties was truth or dare. Somehow it would always end up being a game of getting everyone to kiss everyone else. I’m pretty sure I was, on more than one occasion, a tad aggressive about getting everyone to play. It was fun, kissing all my friends (wasn’t until 17 that I kissed a girl though) and I seemed to enjoy watching my friends make out with eachother too.

Despite the innocent kissing orgies, I remained ‘single’, with the average ‘relationship’ no longer than 2 weeks, right through till graduating from University.

The best piece of advice came to me out of the blue and from the most suprising source- my ex boyfriend, actually he was my first boyfriend, from when I was a tender 14 years old- we dated a whole two months, making it still, my fourth-longest ‘relationship’. Lets call him Chef, for the sake of this blog. We stayed good friends (and still chat frequently) and one day, after listening to me mope about relationships, he turned to me and said, “It’s not about finding your soul mate, M. It’s about getting to know someone a whole lot better, and in a totally unique way.”

This was the Eureka moment. The oh my god I dont have to be a Disney princess I can just be me and relax about it moment.

It was still several years before I learnt what polyamory was and what that would mean for me in relationships. In fact, its only now that I think I’m really beginning to totally grok what the full implications of that realization are. I knew in the moment, however, that this was the truest piece of advice I had ever had given to me about relationships, and my approach to them began to change and shift from there on.

Singleish: Adventures in a Polyamarous Lovestyle

Singleish: [noun]

i) describing a non-monogamous attitude towards intimate relationships where an individual, not in any form of primary, committed intimate or romantic relationship, wishes to experience dating or seeing multiple people at the same time, with no expectation of long term commitments, such as a Relationship Escalator trajectory. Such an individual is differentiated from being a ‘player’ through the honesty and integrity they bring to their dating approach, without concealing any of the relationships from the other people they are seeing.

ii) the relationship status of an individual who is dating several people casually, yet is open to dating more.

iii) a style of both Solo Polyamory and Relationship Anarchy.

Welcome!

One day, I decided that it was time to introduce a new word to the polyamarous lexicon.

For a while I have struggled to describe my attitude and approach to polyamory. I didn’t mesh with the couple centric, polynormative majority that I kept encountering again and again. I decided to find my own approach to ethical non-monogamy. At last, I had the eureka moment I had been yearning, and in the gift of that moment is an intriguing sense of freedom and liberation.

My name is Mel, aka “Polly Singleish”. I’m  30-something, queer, singleish, and I live in Canada.

This blog was created to chronicle my adventures in an ethical, non-monogamous, and anarchic love-style. Please check out the other sections of the blog, and the links on the side.

Enjoy 🙂