Magical Mysterious Maybe

‎”Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung

I’ve been thinking about three little words: Yes, No, and Maybe.

This article on the power of “fuck yes” really got my attention. I think of how many times I’ve had an intoxicated liaison that wasn’t a “FUCK YES!” but more of a, “Well, I don’t have anything else to do…” and how different those experiences have been compared against the rolling crescendo building in my body when I’m with someone whom every cell of my being is yearning for.

noThe “No-Way-Jose”s are always very clear to me, and if I am not interested in someone’s romantic overtures, I tell them so quite plainly and in a straightforward manner. I’m told that the word “No” was one of the first words I ever spoke, right after “Baby”, “Mama” and “Dada”. Apparently, I have always been assertive in communicating my boundaries.

And then- there’s the mysterious Maybe.

A “maybe” can be so confounding. Because we often say maybe when we mean no, or say no when we mean maybe, and hardly ever do we say maybe to really mean that we aren’t sure yet because we don’t have all the information to make an informed decision either way.

Say What You Mean, And Mean What You Say

Several months ago a friend of mine found herself as the metamor of someone I had just started seeing. We already knew we attracted a lot of the same people, so when she told me she was going for brunch with my sweetie, I asked, “Is it a date?”

“No, no” she said emphatically. ” It’s not a date. I don’t think I would date him.”

So you can imagine my surprise when, a week later, the beau in question told me how attracted he was to her and he wanted to date her- and that the feeling was mutual.

What?

I felt a lot of anger towards her. What happened to the “I don’t want to date him”? How did that turn around? And why, as a friend, had she not thought to maybe say a few words to me after their brunch to say that, actually yeah she might want to date him too?

Honestly, if she had said that she might want to date him, or if she had texted me or called me up after their brunch and said “I know I said I wasn’t interested but that was before I got to know him and I’m actually really attracted to him” – I would have been okay with that. Really, I would have.

And for all that this friend kept saying about how much our friendship meant to her, I really had thought I could have expected more from her. I would have thought she would be the person to tell me. This certainly wasn’t something I thought I would hear from the mouth of my lover after some particularly magical and sensual afternoon delight.

I haven’t quite gotten over the shock of this. I still go back to that time in my memory and wonder how things could have played out differently, positively. I know we were both still figuring out this poly thing (heck, I think I am still figuring out), but I keep returning to this situation again and again.

Why did she do what she did? Why didn’t she speak her mind and say what she was thinking and feeling?

I can’t say for sure, though I wonder if it has to do with people pleasing. When we don’t want to ruffle feathers, we are more likely to say what we think other people want to hear, than actually express ourselves from our hearts- even if we know that it may not necessarily cause conflict to do so. Sometimes we just hold back from saying anything at all, stick our heads in the sand and hope that whatever we are feeling that’s incongruent with what we think we’re supposed to be feeling will just go away if we baton down the hatches for long enough.

But it doesn’t. It can fester. It can cause ambiguity that sews discord that in turn breeds distrust. And when you circulate with a social group of poly people who will all, inevitably, at one point or another date everyone else, that kind of discord can be a poison. And it hurts.

Taking responsibility for expressing ourselves

How do we take responsibility for the intentions we bring in to any situation- or relationship?

How do we become aware of how we express ourselves externally? How aware are we of the message we send to the people around us by the way we speak and interact?

Conscious ownership over our actions and the intention with which we move in the world and through life is a form of self-mastery. It is going to take some work. You can’t be complacent. You have to have courage in communication.

Most of all, I think we need to be able to engage in authentic dialogue within if we hope to have authentic expression on the outside.

I believe it’s healthy to question things, to assume nothing, and also to allow yourself to be present to each moment fully. That’s how we connect in with ourselves. You can call it meditation or self examination, or contemplation. It’s not about being detached from past or future, but allowing yourself to be fully You in the moment. And knowing who it is that you are.

Having An Authentic Dialogue with Yourself

It could be argued that being Singleish is a way of avoiding responsibility in relationships. Heck, being poly could be seen as a way of avoiding responsibility. The more on the promiscuous side of the spectrum you sit, the more tempting it is to treat relationships as disposable. I can hold myself guilty of that- of taking things for granted and not having the maturity and wisdom to exercise responsibility for the relationships I’ve been in.

But- as much as poly can potentially be a breeding ground for disposability and avoiding relationship responsibility, I also think it can lead to learning relationship responsibility in a whole new way.

We support one another the best, I think, when we are clear with ourselves in our own journey. When we are proactive in owning our own shit, and astute and self-aware enough to not take on anyone else’s caca. It takes a tremendous dedication to working with one’s self. Me- I like to journal. I enjoy the self-dialogue that grows organically from the stream of consciousness flow that simply seeks to express where I’m at internally, in my relationship to my body, my heart, my mind: in relationship to Me.

I’ve found that when I’m doing that work- regardless of whether or not I feel like I’m actually making progress- I am so much more connected to myself, honest and authentic with myself, and able to be honest and authentic with others far more readily.

I think I have come a long way in how I say- and how I hear- the words No, Yes, and Maybe. I’m working on making sure that when I say them, that I really do mean them, and really do feel them. And gradually, I’m learning to find out what those words mean for other people, and how comfortable they are saying them to me with honesty. Will I ever get it all figured out? Maybe. That’s certainly something I can work towards. I kinda like the ambiguity that comes with a true maybe. It means- the future’s unpredictable, don’t get complacent. If I want it to be a Yes, I’m gonna have to work on myself to make it a Yes. Heck, some of the most rewarding and enjoyable and meaningful experiences of my life have come about because I took the time to explore the Maybe.

As Miranda has reminded me, sitting in the space of Maybe takes a commitment to the moment, to how you are feeling in that moment, if you want to discover whether it’s a No or a Yes. And, since no two moments are ever the same, it also requires a willingness to embrace change.

Ménage à Matrimony

Alright, let’s get something straight.

I think married people are awesome. Couples are awesome. Two people who make a life long commitment to one another, and stick to it through thick and thin: they frickin rock. I am in awe of this kind of commitment.

Now, that is not to say that I do not occasionally feel the sting of singleism.

I won’t deny that this phenomena is real, and it can be very frustrating.

But, I adore dating married people. And when I say “married people”, I’m including those who are in committed long term common-law type relationships.

So, yes, I said it! I love dating married people!

Well, let’s be clear: not all marriages are the same. Having been in a marriage that was falling apart and attempting to glue itself back together under a guise of non monogamy, I feel I might have a better sense of what the warning signs might be when I meet a couple in a committed long term relationship who are doing the same thing, and coming to poly from an attitude of scarcity.

It’s very different from folks who come at it from an abundance perspective. Partners have to be willing to share- and I don’t mean in the “Please sleep with my husband cos I sure as hell don’t want to have sex with him anymore!” way (been there, done that).

Opening up a long term committed relationship is, I think, the ultimate litmus test for the viability of that relationship.  So, getting involved with married people can be challenging.

Here are the questions I ask:

1) What is their relationship to their partner? How is it defined? How long have they been together? How long have they been open?

2) What are the other relationships in their lives? Other partners? Kids?

3) What are they looking for? Why is it they want another relationship?

If I feel comfortable with those answers, I find I’m then curious to meet their partner and observe the home dynamic- this is especially true if there are kids involved. I dated one man who didn’t have children with his partner, but the way he spoke about her was full of praise, and I knew his other long term partner through several mutual friends. So, sometimes there’s exceptions.

Anyway, I think it’s important to have a date zero with the family. I had this when I was seeing Nate last year, and I also had this when Loki and I started seeing one another. Having done things that way, if someone married with kids did not invite me to meet their partner and children before diving in to anything more, I would just say no. That’s a red flag. Why on earth would you disregard your child in favor of getting laid? Those are values I can’t connect with. In my personal life philosophy, children are of paramount importance, and someone who would dismiss or disregard the needs of a growing human is not someone I’m going to be able to feel much respect for.

So, why do I love dating married people?

I am singleish because I do not want a life long relationship right now. I don’t want to get married and have babies and live in a picket fence house or share a bank account or any of that stuff that couples do. I tried it, and it wasn’t for me. But there’s a lovely stability that can come with that. When I date someone who is married, and get to know their children, their spouses, and the other people in their life, I get to become part of a tribe. I’m an independently functioning member of that tribe, it’s true, but that tribe is there. And some amazing friendships have formed as a result of this dynamic.

For a marriage to survive,  generally speaking people have to have their shit together More or less. At the very least, they have to be working on having their shit together. Especially if it’s been opening up to more relationships. It would be hard to find a long-term couple who had been poly for more than a couple of years and were still having problems, cos if problems arise you have to learn to either sit down and communicate, courageously, or you stop being non-monogamous.

What this means, of course, is that married people who are doing their work on themselves have a tendency to be really good at relationships. And that, for starters, is hugely appealing.

Also, married people won’t demand a huge amount of your time. They tend to not be needy. And they certainly won’t be putting pressure on you to settle down with them. How frickin awesome is that?

And, okay, realistically, it is paramount to keep in mind that you will not come first for someone who is married and has children. You may not even come first for someone who is married and doesn’t have children. But- that’s okay. Because- at least for me- there is always a person who makes sure that I come first- and that person is me!

None of this precludes the idea of loving, fulfilling relationships with someone who is married.

In summary, I think married people make ideal people to date if you are singleish, and I celebrate the fact that I know so many wonderful fantastic awesome married poly people today!

Forever Flirtatious

In July, this blog turns one year old.

I started the blog as a means of processing out loud and sharing my experiences and insights into an entirely different approach to relationships. And, okay, so we have already established that monogamy ain’t my thing-

What about life long relationships?

After a few months of dipping my toes into polyamory and the poly community I became disenchanted. People I met seemed, for the most part, to be seeking ‘forever’ relationships (in whatever multiples came along- some have called it ‘multiple monogamy’), and if that wasn’t their thing, they were prowling for purely transitory relationships (or as I like to call them- ‘poly filla’ relationships that occupy one’s time between the forever relationships), and well- neither of those are me.

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Polyfilla Relationships: Multipurpose; Shrink and Crack Resistant!

Though I admit I miss the consistency of daily companionship, and the daydreaming together of what kind of home we will make etc, that  nesting dynamic just isn’t me. Maybe it was, once upon a time. All my life I thought that what I wanted was to have children, but when I experienced my first miscarriage, back in 2009, something in me began to shift. I didn’t birth a new life into this world- instead I birthed a new life in to Me.

Part of my determination to remain Singleish has been because I don’t want to fall into the pattern of looking for a primary ‘prince charming’, nor do I want the complacency of a relationship where we become dependent on one another. What I want, more than anything, is the adventure of learning about myself and growing through relationships.

“It is so beautiful what happens when we define relationship success solely in terms of whether we have learned from it, expanded from it, grown to the next stage on our spiritual journey. How can it ever be a complete defeat? It took such courage to brave it all, to make love with the divine, to touch God through our vulnerable heart. This is not to say that we don’t grieve love’s disappointments, but to remind us of the opportunity that lives at the heart of every farewell. A little scar tissue can go a long way on the path to presence.”

~Jeff Brown

Conscious relationships are where it’s at. Sometimes they don’t go where you had hoped they might, but that process of being in relationships where you can grow your definition of who you are- that makes all the difference.

It’s not about finding people I can grow old with. It is not about dying together. It is about loving and living, and sharing that. It is about collaboratively discovering our capacities to expand the love we experience exponentially. I’m not looking for people who will be present with me till the day I die. I seek to spend time with people who can be present with me in my mad passionate love affair with the universe.

However long I get to share that for with someone- awesome!

Am I afraid of being alone my whole life? No. In fact, I rather crave it. I miss the solitude and self reflection time. I yearn to take off on solo adventures. There’s moments- yes there’s moments- when I wish I had that security of knowing someone’s got my back. But I had the ‘security’ before, when I was married, and it took away all the adventure.

Do I want to have someone to grow old with? Well, hang on a second- I’m only thirty one. I have no intention of “growing old” until I’m at least eighty. That’s fifty years away. And even if I were to start before then- say when I hit menopause, around 45 maybe- how the hell can I be sure that what I choose now will be what I want then? That’s fifteen years down the line. Do you know what I wanted to do with my life fifteen years ago? I wanted to be an Oscar winning actress living in a loft apartment in New York. That was all I could think about. I was a real life Rachel Berry.

Rachel Berry, the would-be starlet of the Glee Club, and my high-school doppelganger.

Not any more.
Besides- where’s the fun in growing old? It is only in the last few years that I feel like I have been able to feel young for the first time.

If I really did give birth to a ‘new life’- one that resides within me- in 2009, that life is now four years old. We’re still in kindergarten. Elementary school is a year away. There’s no rush. Plenty of time to explore and adventure and play.

People ask me what I mean when I say that I am ‘poly and single-ish’.

It means I’m looking for loving relationships that aren’t just ‘in the moment’ poly-filla flings; I want connections with substance where everyone involved can participate in the ever unfolding journey of self-growth. It means I don’t want to get attached to ‘forever’ in relationships, ambling hand in hand with someone on the way to our deaths. It means I want to live, being perpetually open to all the joy and wonder and passion and love available in any moment- and to share that joire de vivre with as many people as I feel inspired to.

And that, I suppose- that is why I created this blog. Thanks for being part of the adventure!

Needing Novelty

“I want to explore more of our connection. I feel like we are moving towards something that will be exciting and profound.”

I gazed out at the full moon, bright in the sky above us, smiling through the bittersweet sadness I had been feeling. “Me too,” I said. “And, I know we will.”

Bathed in moonlight, Orion and I sat and talked. We shared for three hours about how we have been feeling, about the new things we have been realizing in our lives and our relationships.

There can be sadness in poly.

I have had nothing but compersion for Miranda and Orion since they started their relationship, but sometimes, it triggers sadness in me.

They have beautiful chemistry- I see how they both come alive when they are around one another, and it makes me happy to see these two people I adore experiencing that joy and excitement. They’ve had some bumps in the road the last few months, but ones that ultimately have proven to be positive and transforming.

At the same time, however, Orion and I have noticed our own dynamic shifting. We are no longer in “N.R.E.” or “New Relationship Energy”. That warm glowing tingly feeling has given way to something we have nick-named “F.R.E.” or “Familiar Relationship Energy”. The longevity of the friendship we had before becoming intimate has given our relationship a depth that is profound, and we learn from one another every time we spend time together. But, something has been missing, something has been out of sync.

Orion and I both have had long term relationships where sex became an ‘obligation’. The “peck-peck, poke-poke” approach isn’t something either of us enjoyed in those relationships, nor is it something we want to experience ever again- least of all with one another. And so we have embraced an attitude of moving with authenticity in our relationship. When we feel the chemistry connecting, we follow it to where it leads us. And lately, that chemistry has not had much intimacy in it.

I wonder sometimes if it is me. If I am ‘broken’. I’ve been dealing with some body pain issues in the last few months which have impacted my level of confidence in my sexiness, and that has brought up a lot of feelings of insecurity in me. And, I can count on one hand how many times I have had sex this year. I am longing for more intimacy. I am yearning for it. I can’t just keep giving those full body rippling orgasms to myself. It is something that really, I want to share. I need to share.

Miranda and Orion have been diving deeper into their relationship, and I am joyful and compersive, but also find myself confronted with my own sadness and longing. I remember fondly the feeling of NRE I had with Orion, and I want to feel that again. I am sad that someone else is getting to experience something that I’m not able to experience right now. And that sadness runs deep, into a deeper part of my psyche that I still need to explore, triggering all sorts of insecurities from childhood.

In general, I am happy with the relationships in my life right now. I’m able to balance my work life and my love life, and the relationships I maintain each have their own beautiful dynamic, and they seem to work, well, synergistically.

But- I would love to have more sex. And, oh my god, I want to have more sex with Orion. I want to make love to the whole frickin Universe with him.

There’s a dilemma with this: whilst I have the time for more sex, I don’t feel I have time for more Relationship. And I don’t want random sex. It takes too long for me to trust someone and let down my guards to feel that full heart-opening sexual experience. But there isn’t anyone in my life right now that ‘fits the bill’ so to speak.

Intriguingly, Orion and I have both noticed that we experience more chemistry together when one or both of us has been diving into new relationships, and experiencing sexual satisfaction with others. We spent a while the other night, under the moon, talking about the potential pros of having relationships that were purely poly-sexual experiences, and the challenge of finding people to have such relationships with where there can be trust, but no strings attached.

Hrm. Sex with people we can trust, who can be friends without being an emotionally involved relationship. Maybe some readers know where this is going?

It is really too early to say how this is going to develop. There are so many other factors to consider, and whether this is something we explore together or with other partners remains to be seen. There’s a few people I’m going to talk to, get some ideas, suggestions, perhaps even some invitations? Orion and I know we want to awaken our chemistry together again, to get back to that place of mind-bending physical and emotional delight that we know we can share with one another, and the path to get there involves unpacking a lot of layers of stuff, and having lots of open and fiercely honest conversations with ourselves as well. Novelty, we agree, is something that both of us thrive on.

Novelty Relationship Energy. It’s gotta be a thing.

“Thank you,” Orion said as we hugged goodnight.
“For what?” I asked, eyelids a flutter.
“For walking the walk. Other people talk about compersion and such. You really do it. I learn so much from you. I have never shared my life so openly with anyone. Thank you.”

Sigh. This man takes my breath away. I don’t know that I have ever received a compliment quite like that. I’m excited to see how our relationship continues to evolve, and I don’t ever want to take what we share for granted.

Pokemon Polyamory

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” -George Carlin

Polyamory is not Pokemon.

You do not need to ‘catch them all’.

Granted, there are some similarities between the popular cult video-game/collectible card game and polyamory. Every pokemon has different abilities, just as every partner has different qualities, and you seek to build a collection of pokemon where the skill sets are balanced for best success, just as in polyamory you might seek to build relationships with people of varying talents to enjoy a wide spectrum of needs being met, and a satisfying variety of people in your life. But, that’s about where the similarities end.

My experience has been that, under the topic “Reasons to be Poly”, everything falls into one of two main categories:

1) A need for validation. Lacking self-confidence, self-esteem, and/or joire de vivre, people look for multiple partners in order to fill a void in their life.

2) A feeling that one has so much love and affection to share, that sharing with just one person will not be sufficient. Creative, enthused about life, the universe, and everything, people seek multiple partners in order to have multiple outlets of expression for their passions..

Now, I started off in polyamory looking for validation. I freely admit that. I was one of those people in an unhappy marriage seeking something more fulfilling. A long period of depression, and a short bout with suicidal depression, and my self esteem was rock bottom. I needed more than what my husband was giving me in order to ‘feel good’ about myself, and so I sought that from outside. I broke up my marriage and only one thing was on my mind: to date all the people.

I’ve been a master at using dating to distract me from the really important things in my life. You know, things like getting myself organised, growing, learning, developing, evolving. Oh, and earning a living too. That’s important too- can’t forget that!

When that happens, I’m letting my insecurities control my actions and interactions. I become ultra needy and, personally, I find neediness to be a very unsexy quality.

On the other hand, when I’ve spent time focusing on myself, doing the things that I know enhance my physical, emotional, and mental well-being, I naturally find my confidence again and can pursue relationships with a sense of ease, fulfillment, and satisfaction. It is no longer about “I need you… and you…. and you.” It becomes about “I want to share with you. And you. And you.” And that- that’s a lot more loving, don’t you think?

It was pointed out to me that this concept is resonant of the “Scarcity Mentality” talked about in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

On the topic of Scarcity vs Abundance, Stephen Covey writes:

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the scarcity mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The scarcity mentality is the Zero-Sum paradigm of life. People with a scarcity mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit- even with those who help in the production. They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

The abundance mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

Um, see how this applies to relationships too?

Many people seeking monogamous relationships act from this attitude of “there’s only one pie”, and will fight everyone else for the right to that pie.

Likewise, there’s some people in polyamory who like to- how can I put it- stock-pile all the pies? Date all the people immediately. They can really really embrace their inner ethical slut, and have three or four dates in a day (guilty!) and keep dating all those people, even if only at a superficial level. Can you blame them? It is really nice to have a pie collection. To look at the pie, not eat the pie, not yet. Maybe preserve the pies and put them on pie stands and say “look what lovely pies I have!” and only be willing to share the pie with their friends. Maybe.

Lately, I am embracing the experience that there is actually plenty of pie to go around. I can share the pie. The pie will not run out. This is perpetual pie, a bottomless dish of pie, and you don’t realize how amazing that is till you start actually eating the pie and discover there is no bottom to this pie it goes on forever!

Have I lost you in the metaphors? Let me summarize.

Scarcity-Driven Polyamory aka Pokemon Polyamory

Seeking partners primarily for self validation purposes.
Feeling insecure when partners are with other partners.
Comparing one’s self to others.
Ignoring the needs of other partners.
Wanting one’s own needs to be partners’ top priority.
Talking more than listening.
Dating people without being attracted to them.
Needing more partners.

Abundance-Driven Polyamory aka Infinite Pie Polyamory

Choosing partners who are doing their work on themselves.
Feeling compersion easily.
Confident in self identity.
Understanding of where their own needs and their partners’ needs overlap and coincide.
Balancing own needs with the needs of all relationships.
Listening more than talking.
Dating people they are incredibly drawn to, the thought of whom electrifies them.
Feeling satisfied even if not dating anyone at all.

Obviously, nobody is perfect. I fully admit I have my moments of freak out where I think someone else is, um, eating all my pie, and there will be none left for me. Generally, that happens for a few days every month, coinciding with those days where all I want to do is curl up and devour chocolate. I like to think, however, if I can recognize this behavior in myself when it happens, that I can avoid acting from it. I can acknowledge if I’m being overly needy, selfish, or distracted by more superficial things. And, if I need to, I can take some time for myself.

I do not have to let my insecurities rule my life- not in relationships or in any other aspect of my life.

There is, after all, always more pie.

Much gratitude to ElkFeather and Orion for the conversations that inspired this article and the support in editing and completing it. I love you.

Pandora Percolating

“I’m afraid. And I need to acknowledge this verbally, that although I don’t want to, some part of me is holding back in sharing all my love, all this love that I am so desperate to share. And I don’t want that to be the case, but I’m afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?” asked ElkFeather.

“That I will push people away with how intense I can be.” This was, after all, what seemed to happen with Noel.

“Is there anyone in particular you are afraid of pushing away?” he asked me.

In the safety of his arms, in the comfortable embrace, my legs locked around his waist, I could feel the fear melting as I spoke.

“You,” I answered. “I don’t want to drive you away.” Pause. Breathe. “I don’t want to drive anyone away.”

With my cheek resting against his neck, I could feel ElkFeather breathing, smiling. “You aren’t going to drive me away. I’m here.”

Wow. Melt.

There are these walls up within me against myself, and I’m slowly breaking through them.

My greatest fear is my own power. My own full expression of being. I want to unleash and let go. I want to pour my heart out over and over again, and let go of the pain and sorrow, celebrate the joy and the love. And I am so afraid of how overwhelming that can be. Of how I can become so overwhelmed by myself and consumed with that expressiveness that everything else falls by the wayside. Work, commitments, long term plans, everything. I am Pandora, holding this box, sealed tight for fear that what lies within will move without my control. Wild passion. Unbridled. Unrestrained. Powerful. Transformative.

Pandora and her box: a parable of feminine sexuality.

Pandora and her box: a parable of feminine sexuality.

I hold back with partners because, in the past, I have not held back. I have taken advantage. I choosen to not have sex when intoxicated for the simple reason that I don’t trust myself to recognize the other person’s No- whether spoken or bodily communicated- when I am in an altered state of awareness, and I don’t trust that someone else can say no when they are in that state. I have been the person who knew the person they were with was too drunk to resist or say no. I’ve been the one to cross unspoken boundaries and I hate that I have that capacity.

So I hold back. I hold back and hold back. And I can only let go when someone inserts a key. When someone gives me absolute outright permission “Yes, we are having sex. We are getting intimate.” And then it’s a gentle playful zone until… something magical shifts, and I melt. I’m gone. Everything changes. I open. I’m unleashed.

Maybe I will get to a place again when I feel I can trust myself enough with others that I can fully let down those guards and maybe have sex whilst more than a little tipsy, or at the tail-end of a mushroom trip. Who knows. I mean, I love those altered states of consciousness. I just don’t know that I can go there and go into that vulnerably open arena of sexuality with someone else at the same time.

It is said that our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. And here I am seeking to unleash the full expression of my sexuality, and holding back because I fear it could take over.

I love the time I get to spend with ElkFeather. Whilst we chat online often, we see each other in person maybe once every few months. There’s a lot of love shared between us. The time we spend together feels genuine. Nothing forced, no agenda. We play. We laugh. We do mushrooms and tumble around his living room. We read our Free Will Astrology for the week. We draw oracle cards to decipher our lives and laugh when the cards tell us the same things. We eat good food and watch TED talks. We share tea. We share kisses. And more.

He reminds me of an elemental forest creature. When we are together, I feel the gentle embrace of the trees, the softness of the moss, the uplifting fragrance of the earth. I reconnect with myself. I find my grounding. Once I know where that grounding is, I’m no longer afraid to spread my wings. I feel- invincible, wide open, free. The fear seems to melt.

On my last morning at ElkFeather’s, before heading back into the city, I was overcome with a wave of sorrow. I don’t know why. It was just, sadness, pouring out of me. I started crying. It was a joyous kind of sadness. He came over and gently touched my foot. “I love you, M” he said, his eyes glowing, his face beaming deep, compassionate love at me. That was all he needed to say. He reminded me of the experience of love, and the sadness evaporated into smiles and sweetness.

I’m reminded that we are all so vulnerable, we’ve all been hurt and wounded, we’ve all carried scars around our sexuality, and yet-we’ve all got immeasurable strength and wisdom to share. The deepest scars can indeed be healed. Our traumas can become our strengths. Each and every twist in our path leads us to opportunities to grow if we choose to see them that way. And relationships, they can be the greatest teacher of all. The people we undress to- physically and emotionally- get to see every little mark on our being, even the ones we forgot were there, and they can help us heal them, if the trust and capacity for sharing love is there.

Breaking the Boxes

Right now, I’m supposed to be working on my resume. It is about as bizarre and eclectic as the rest of my life is. Can I include “blogging about my sex and dating life” as a job?

Apparently, I like variety. I seem to change jobs every six months to a year. It’s a little like my dating life.

I like to do things my way.

I’m itching to travel again too. My daydreams are filled with ideas of returning to Europe, travelling the Middle East again, adventuring through North America. I grew up travelling, and want so much to travel again. As much as I love where I live right now, and have amazing friends in this community, I will need a change of scenery in the next year.

I’m finding myself frustrated with a lot of narrow minded views in the poly world around me. That attitude of assumption that ‘poly is this’ or ‘poly is this and this’, and I just can’t find myself in those assumptions. I know, the scientific mind has an easier time understanding things if it can define them as singular and finite things, but hey, even science is now finding that, when you get down to a quantum level, the universe is constantly fluctuating and changing.

art by Alex Grey http://www.alexgrey.com

When the human mind is allowed to process things with ambiguity and uncertainty, holding opposing ideas and notions in equal balance, it expands.

This is one of the reasons psychedelics have been credited as inspiration for so many artists, musicians, philosophers, and inventors of the last century: they aid in expanding one’s perspective. And I make no secret that this has been a huge part of my own path, just as much as meditation and yoga.

We are a society trained in holding on to fixed ideas, and maybe we need those fixed ideas to find order within the chaos. We learn from early on to categorize the world around us in boxes. For me, being Poly is not about living life in just a different box. It is one aspect of me living out of the box, all the way. Living life my way.

In the back of my mind I have been processing some of the incompatibilities with poly styles I have come across in some people I have gone on dates with, or dated, and I realized today that a big difference between myself and the poly-majority is that I do not seek life-partners.

It seems that a lot of people in the Poly world approach things with the idea that all relationships will be long term and long lasting- or be strictly recreational and casual. I’m somewhere in between that. Seeking friendtimacy that can have longevity- or not. I have discovered that I can love without desiring ownership over that which I love. In fact, I can love more when I do not desire ownership over the subject of my affections.

ImageWhereas a lot of people- poly or not- seek life long relationships and commitment, and (as much as some will deny it) seek relationships that contain a dynamic of ‘ownership’, I’m committed to me, and that, ultimately, is the only commitment I am willing to make. I love to share my love. And will continue to share it. And sharing that does not mean that I own you or that you own me.

It is how I feel free.
This is the only healthy way for me to be.

What’s Done, Is Done.

“Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what’s done, is done.”

~ William Shakespeare

When I walked into Finn’s place, the cat greeted me immediately with meows of “Where the F*&$ have you been?”

I had come in search of the vacuum bags to go in the vacuum cleaner that had, at one time, been my mother’s. Then, somehow, it became mine. Then I gave it to Finn. Then I got it back. Along the way the spare bags and filters went missing.

It would have been easier to buy new ones, but I was sure I knew where they were at Finn’s place.

Finn wasn’t going to be home for another half hour, but told me to let myself in. We have been separated for almost two years now. His girlfriend has been in the process of moving in with him. It was strange to see all her things intermixed with his. As I searched the house (to no avail) for the vacuum bags, it was weird to come across things like artwork that Finn and I had bought together, sitting alongside things of hers.

This is the first time I have had the feeling of having been ‘replaced’. Seeing things of his that used to sit alongside things of mine, now sitting next to her stuff. It felt eerie.

I’m actually one of people who introduced them to one another, she was part of our extended network of friends when we were just breaking up. Their relationship was one of those things no one could have predicted, but in retrospect their coupling makes perfect sense, and they are good for one another. She does things for him that I never would have done. I have no resentments about their relationship, I just didn’t expect them to live together so soon.

Downstairs I came across a row of Finn’s ties. Almost all of them, I had bought him as gifts. I think there were seven; ironically, one for each year we were married. Damn, I have a knack for finding good ties. And seeing them there, I wanted to rip them down. I wanted to take them back, I wanted to take it all back.

I’ve cleared through so many things from our marriage, and I’m continuing to rid myself of the stuff we jointly acquired. And yet he has hung onto all of it.

And all of it has memory.

I’m finding that it upsets me that he holds onto it. Like he is still holding on to me.

The cat was happy to see me at least. He purred and rolled around and let me pet his belly before jumping over to his treat box and making eyes at me. I gave in. I gave him a double serving of treats, right from my hand.

I miss the cat. I don’t miss the husband.

I think I feel resentful that all these things that were jointly acquired still play such a huge role in his life. It’s my own judgment of course; I see it as a sign of him not moving on totally. I have to remind myself he has always been a bit of a pack rat, and comes from a family that loves the comfort of many things around them. He probably doesn’t share my outlook on ‘things’ and belongings. Actually, I know he doesn’t. He still has t-shirts that his abusive ex-fiance (years before we met) gave him.

We chatted briefly when he came home. I asked him how he felt about his girlfriend moving in. The words sounded positive “It’s great, it’s a natural direction for things” but there wasn’t emotion behind them.

I felt heavy, almost sick, after being at his place.

We still haven’t filed for divorce. There’s a backlog of joint taxes that have to be filed first (he’s looking after that, apparently), and then, then hopefully we will be able to afford a divorce. It occurs to me that this may be expedited now that he has a live-in partner.

It would have made so much more sense to just buy new vacuum bags. A trip to the hardware store seems less emotionally stressful than a trip to the ex’s. I guess it was worth it to see the cat.

Orgasmic Odyssey

The female orgasm is a fascinating thing.

I find there is so much diversity to orgasms. They can range from small tremors, to full body tectonic shifting earthquakes, to explosive eruptions that ripple through the landscape. And this diversity really fascinates me. Whilst I have been able to give myself those planetary-scale gushing orgasms, very rarely has someone else been able to give them to me. ElkFeather did. Noel did. Often times I have come close, only for it to give way into a cascade of what I term ‘laugh-gasms’ and those are still plenty enjoyable in their own way. Still, I’ve gotten used to the fact full on polar-shifts might happen, or not, and even if they don’t, I’m still having fun. Mentally holding on to the idea that I want to experience one of those full-body shockwaves seems to get in the way of actually experiencing it. Which brings me to the catalyst for this article, because in the course of 24 hours, I had two separate tsunamis, with two different people.

I had a very interesting experience with a guy who, for the sake of the blog, we’ll call Haru. I’ve met him twice before, once last summer, and then again at a social event a few weeks ago. We’d connected over some common interests, and I found him quite fascinating. Glancing over his profile on Fetlife once, I remember feeling that unavoidable eyebrow raise of hrm, this could be interesting to explore.

Well, explore we did.
nakednessAfter seeing each other at this social event, we arranged to hang out for the evening, trading some massage. Amongst the many things I know in life, I know a thing or two about massage, as does he. The very platonic connection developed into something quite more than that very quickly. Something about the shared ability of being present to one another’s bodies. See, giving massage, touching another person’s skin from a massage point of view, requires a lot of ‘listening’ to the body. You have to tune in to understand some of the subtleties going on underneath the surface. This gave a beautiful foundation for a more powerful, trusting connection to evolve.

There are many ways in which what we shared was incredibly lovely, but one thing that stands out for me in the uniqueness of the experience, and as key to how I opened up to the full orgasm, is the loving affection he gave my belly. I have experienced a lot of trauma around my abdomen. Many years of painful ovarian cysts, two miscarriages, upsetting medical procedures and diagnostic tests, and the psychosomatic holding of emotions in my core that have related strongly to my mother and all the pain of her judgements against me: that subtle unseen umbilical chord that I have been seeking to sever in my quest for the full expression of my independent self.

I cannot emphasize enough just how healing it felt to have so much nurturing and sensual attention paid to my belly. It was incredibly profound, and there was a beautiful sense of joy and ecstasy that came from being ‘seen’ in that moment- being seen and experienced, not for the scars and wounding I have held, but for the light and potential within me.

I felt empowered to take charge more than I have done with new partners before, and, in a balanced expression of myself as a switch, got to explore a little more of my dominant side, taking charge whilst staying in tune with Haru’s body too.

Like Orion, Haru chooses to abstain from intercourse, a choice I find incredibly fascinating, and enjoyable for all the creativity it opens me up to. The foreplay is no longer foreplay. It’s just play. And play can go on for ever, and constantly evolve.

There’s a lot of fun to be had when the more obvious source of physical satisfaction isn’t available to you.

SUZ_3793I’ve been musing for a while about how I feel some orgasms through different parts of my nervous system- the nerve plexuses along the spine seem to ‘fire’ off in different ways with different orgasms. In the past few months I had been slowly progressing- in my own orgasmic practice as well as with partners- from a ‘root’ centered experience, to sacral, and then, in my night with Haru, I finally felt the orgasm travel all the way to the solar plexus nerve centre for the first time. It was really very incredible. There was a huge release of emotions, and joy. The synergy of that moment was incredibly lovely, and very special. In my exploration of my more polysexual side, my connection with him is something that I think will have room to be explored again- and in the meantime, I have opened myself up to a new and very nourishing friendship. We spooned and cuddled and sighed all night.

The following evening I had a date and sleepover at Orion’s.

Now, Orion and I haven’t had sex since last December. In fact, we haven’t been very sexual with one another for a few months. Partly due to physical energy, mental distractions, space, and just not feeling that either of us wanted to force something if we didn’t feel it was natural.

Exploring the possibilities of a relationship with no attachment to expectations, we’ve both been growing into a new level of comfort with the ‘unknowing’ of what might happen when we hang out. A date with Orion could mean anything: geeking out over sci-fi, sharing mongolian barbecue, a deep conversation about spirituality and/or polyamory and/or the nature of the universe. It could be soft warm cuddles, or hot sexy makeouts. Dessert could be gelato- or, it could be me. Neither of us holds one another to an expectation or obligation of things, and the way we have developed of communicating about it is quite neat.

Well, on this occasion, right from when I arrived at his place, we couldn’t keep our hands or mouths off each other  It was hot. Orion likes the image of lions pouncing on one another, and I think this is really accurate. It is playful, and because there’s no expectation or feeling of obligation to one another, it becomes a very freeing and liberating experience to not actually know where this is leading, or of how far we will be ready to go from moment to moment.

I told him about my experience the night before and how amazing I felt afterwards. As Orion gets to know me more, and gets to interact with my other partners, he’s been enjoying the experience of compersion more, and he seemed incredibly happy to hear about the fun night I had had. Cooling things down a bit with dinner and watching a movie together, we transitioned into conversation about life, the universe, and everything, before moving seamlessly back into a passionate flow of things. Then came that moment of ‘Is it bedtime, or do we keep making out?’ to which the answer seemed obvious.

We pulled shirts off. We pulled pants off. We kissed softly. We kissed roughly. We played with that rhythm of building anticipation and then cooling off just enough that the rush back into things built up the excitement and anticipation even further than it was before. It was fun, creative, without any agenda. We communicated playfully about what we were doing. Does it feel better at Warp 10, or Warp 5? God that communication is powerful when it can happen with ease. When you trust your own body and trust your partner, when you experience the liberating power of being seen and heard for who you are and what you love at that core, primal level of your being… few experiences  in life, that I know of, can compare to that.

Erotic lingerie

Orion was playful, commanding, respectful, exciting, calm, and gleeful as he explored me anew. He approached my body from this beautiful space of wanting to know more about it, wanting to understand it- not in an intellectual way- but in a kinaesthetic and tactile way. It was incredibly hot.

There’s a phenomena that I can only describe as a pre-orgasmic possession: the moments where my brain totally shuts off, and I am fully and wholly in my body. My body moves of its own accord, naturally. Squirming, sighing with my whole breath, reverberating spontaneous sound through every part of me. There’s no more thinking in that state. There’s just doing. And I’ve been asked questions in that state and, though I hear them, and as hot as it is to communicate back and forth about what’s happening, when that moment comes along, I can’t think to answer with any intellectual capacity. Yet, my body speaks the answer. My body responds. My body communicates. I become fully present to the moment at hand.

Of course, all human beings are wired slightly differently. The female anatomy can vary greatly from one woman to the next. Naomi Wolf talks at length in her book Vagina: A New Biography about this. We really are all unique and fascinating creatures. I say this with a fair bit of experience in giving women orgasms myself. We are delightfully complicated. And, never underestimate the significance of the head space someone is in, the stress they may be experiencing, how hydrated they are, how healthy they are, how their hormones are functioning.

556040_360662704040340_1319064682_nI wonder how the experience of orgasm may be similar or different for men. I’ve certainly noticed amongst men I have been with who identify closer to bisexual or gender queer, they seem to experience orgasms differently from men who identify as more straight or as purely masculine. I want to explore this more and develop a better understanding of it.

Is there a formula for the female orgasm?

Perhaps.

Keep exploring. Keep communicating. Keep sharing. Build trust. Share love and affection. Be creative. Don’t think of your partner as obligated to give you anything, and don’t obligate yourself to give them anything either. Be healthy. Take your time. Listen. Nurture a perspective that can stay in the moment. And then, where it goes, is where it goes.

Integrating Intimacy

” Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.”
~Dogen Zenji

I found myself smiling from ear to ear a few nights ago as ElkFeather and I caught up over a little chat on Facebook. He was all aglow about someone new he met recently and had shared a few sleepovers with. He seemed a little hesitant to tell me about her at first, but when I reacted with a “Squeeee! That’s so awesome!” he started sharing more details with enthusiasm  And now, it’s so cute, I  see little signs of NRE in their interactions on Facebook on his posts.

Gawd, I love compersion.

I feel really appreciative that compersion is something that is becoming easier and easier for me to feel. That this strange ‘muscle’ in my brain whose responsibility it is to work the alchemy of emotions is growing stronger. Less and less do I find myself falling into a mental whirlpool of fear-based thinking. There’s this beautiful symphony of feel good chemicals that get triggered now when I hear about, or witness, people I love (and sometimes, even people I don’t know), experiencing joy.

A few weeks ago I went to a big party with both Orion and ElkFeather. Totally independent of me, and thanks to the wonders of social media, they’ve been developing a friendship. When Orion arrived on the dance floor and gave ElkFeather a big hug, all I could think was, “How the heck did I find such amazing beings as part of my life? This is rad.” There were some great moments shared with each of them one on one, and with all three of us hanging out together at different moments in the party. I laughed so much, and felt so much joy just being in the loving and (at times) intimate presence of two men whom I trust completely and wholeheartedly. I was high on the oxytocin, seratonin, and a whole host of other happy hormones. I felt incredibly loved, and my sense of Self felt expanded by how much love I was able to share and express that night.

IMG_5010It was Orion who pointed out to me the other day that I seek unconditional love within this world where we are taught that love has to be conditional.

At my core, I want to develop intimacy. And intimacy can take many forms. Sometimes it takes the full naked sensual explosive intimacy to wake you up to it. Sometimes, intimacy grows gently over time. Ultimately, it is a sense of intimacy that brings me joy.

My desires for sex most often stem from a deeper desire for intimacy. And sex without that emotional and ‘spiritual’ intimacy is boring for me. But, intimacy without sex can still be exciting. I crave cuddles, kisses, touch, laughter, words. I crave intimacy that is that heart-to heart connection, breathing in the same space mentally, physically, emotionally with another being.

I have found that the stronger my relationship with myself becomes, the more I crave intimacy over just physical gratification.

In fact, I don’t think I can make a physically intimate connection without the emotional and intellectual intimacy hand in hand.

I’ve had a number of physically intimate encounters in the last few months. Almost all of them amazingly positive, and it has helped me to see this: that it is absolutely imposible for me to enjoy sex without that intimate connection, without that letting down of the masks. As I write this, the last person I had sex with was a guy I barely knew- but yet, we had had a connection previously. I met him originally at Orion’s birthday party several months ago. and then he turned up at a party that Kiki (Loki’s wife) organized. Small world. I recognized him, we got into conversation, found some rather interesting things in common between us, had some fun flirting, and then as the orgy started up in one corner of the main room, we disappeared to somewhere more private. It was great. He shared with me stuff about himself he said he doesn’t normally share with anyone- and we had a really good conversation after. He even drove me home from the party. He was a total gentleman. I like that.

It was a good experience to have as I move into a season of increased polysexuality for myself. Maintaining the existing loving connections I have, whilst still, ethically, with open communication, full knowledge, and sex-positivity, engage in fun sexy times with others. They may be one offs. They may be more in depth explorations. I’m unattached to any expectations of that.

But- when I make love, I want to be able to make love physically, emotionally, intellectually. Stimulating conversation turns me on just as much as the soft stroke of a lover’s nails down my arm, just as much as revealing deeply personal feelings and sharing with one another what we are passionate about in our life. That seems to me to be the only way that sex isn’t draining. And finding a way to have sex without feeling drained by it is rather important to me. I really do want to develop a sense of intimacy with all things. Whether I develop that through sex, friendship, conversation, touch, or even just empathy from a distance, this seems to be a rather significant part of my journey.

Present and Playful

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As the words singleish and polysingleish begin to squeeze their way into the poly lexicon (hurrah! I am an inventor of words!) I feel compelled to offer a refinement of how I define being ‘singleish’, and why I chose to name this blog ‘Polysingleish’.

It is very simple.

I am singleish. I do not have, nor do I currently seek, a primary partner.

I am also polyamorous. I form multiple, open, honest, very loving relationships, with full knowledge of all those I am involved with.

Some of my relationships develop with longevity, and this sometimes confuses people with the way I describe myself as singleish. Despite the longevity these relationships have, I don’t view them as primary partners. I love the idea that right now, there’s these two beautiful beings- whose long established friendship has lent the longevity to our intimate and loving connections-  who will remain in my life through the years. But I have no intention of ‘shacking up’.

Many people have commented to me about my relationship with Orion. Someone even asked me the other day if he was my Primary. I smiled.

There’s a strength to our connection that arises from the bond of our friendship and our common outlooks on life, love, and spirituality. Like me, Orion considers himself singleish. He actually might be more singleish than I am, and maybe one day my gentle nudging will see him publish some of what he has written about his philosophical take on this whole poly and singleish thing. Orion and I are both equally present with one another, whilst being unattached to the notion that this connection has to forge itself into a recognizable thing. It is a very powerful and ever evolving dynamic.

Everything in my relationships, as in my life, moves with a certain degree of fluidity and zen-like detachment. I’ve heard some people say this kind of every changing lifestyle must be crazy, yet I find it liberating because of what it challenges me to do.

I really have no choice but to be present to the moment. Allowing each moment to be so engaging that my mind cannot possibly dwell anywhere else.

What I desperately never want to do is stagnate or have things stay the same. Static relationships or connections do nothing for me.

Every day I develop a deeper understanding about how this Joy comes about through having no expectations. This ‘being present’ thing isn’t some new age mumbo jumbo. It isn’t about detaching myself from anything. It’s about bringing myself to be so overwhelmingly present to what I am experiencing right here, in this NOW, that nothing else but this moment matters. It’s about giving my heart- as well as my mind- permission to be fully engaged. To just feel whatever I am feeling and stay playful.

My only ‘struggle’ is how to define myself to the general public and world at large. I have no automatic ‘plus one’ for social or business things. I can refer to Emma as ‘my girlfriend’ and people can innocently assume it is just a platonic thing- after all, she is a married woman! I can walk into a party in the arms of one man, and leave in the arms of another. I can be on a date and still be flirting with someone I bump into. Inevitably, when someone starts asking me about my dating life, I can’t really hold back about it. I’m open and honest about it, and I’ve had more than a few raised eyebrows. It is kind of awesome, really, that I have yet to have any hugely negative responses from coworkers or new friends.

So, here I am. Poly. Singleish. Present. Playful.
Me.

The Compersion Conundrum

Compersion: Describing an empathetic state of happiness and joy brought about by knowing or witnessing the happiness and joy of another individual. Often used to describe the positive feelings an individual can experience when a lover is enjoying another relationship. Considered to be the opposite of jealousy.

Polyamory: The practice, state or ability of having more than one intimate, physical, loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved. 

How, and when, do you let your other partners know you are interested in someone else? When do you tell them when you are now seeing someone new?

I find I am fairly laisez-faire when it comes to this. I don’t expect anyone to be beholden to me in relationships, just as I wouldn’t expect to be beholden to them. Still, though, I like good healthy communication, and I am always curious to know about my lovers’ other lovers. I have friends who have joked that I seem to be immune to jealousy. I wouldn’t say that I am totally immune. Just that my capacity for compersion in most cases out weighs the jealous part of my brain.

I’m uber compersive. I can feel compersion at the drop of a hat- at the sight of strangers walking arm in arm down the street; as my friend tells me about his first romantic getaway with his girlfriend; when I am having dinner with a new crush and his wife and see them get snuggly together; even reading gooey Facebook statuses will have me in compersion. I will admit, there are times I even feel compersion and jealousy simultaneously- like they are battling in my head for supremacy. There’s a rationale process that usually wins over and compersion triumphs. See, Jealousy just wouldn’t be logical.

And even so, I cannot feel compersion if I do not know something is happening.

The network of cross-connections amongst my sweeties and metamours is complex- and with so many interwoven relationships, it is healthy to remember to treat every person as an individual, and to honor each relationship as the unique and dynamic phenomena it is. I’ve struggled with this a lot in the past. I think I am getting through that finally.

Well, almost. I found myself tested on that this week.

For a while now I’ve happily watched a flirtatious relationship develop between Orion and one of my best friends, Miranda. The friendship Miranda and I share is one of the closest platonic friendships in my life, and I really value that. I’ve rejoiced at her explorations into polyamory, celebrated her NRE, cried with her heartbreaks. We are bonded by many commonalities in our backgrounds and lifestyles. A few months ago we talked about the possibility of someone wanting to date both of us, and decided it would be weird, tricky, messy. We are in each other’s lives on a daily basis. We share a lot of things; sharing lovers seemed like taking things too far. But I started to see the chemistry between Orion and Miranda, and knew that something was likely to happen.

Orion talked to me about his crush on Miranda a couple of months ago, and I said that he should just go for it. I knew she was attracted to him. I love him, and I love Miranda, and I want them to explore and enjoy. I feel totally confident in the uniqueness of what I share with Orion, and I know how much he has taught me through being my lover- there’s no feeling of ‘I might be replaced’, which could come up in a newer relationship. Orion and Miranda? I instantly knew, right in my gut, that this was a good thing, and something that needed to happen.

I was therefore totally unprepared for the fit of anxiety and jealousy that came upon me when I found out, after the fact, that Miranda had spent the night at Orion’s.

Perhaps the weirdest part was that I had dreamt about it… in those sleepy moments of almost-wakefullness, I dreamt I heard Orion’s and Miranda’s voices talking. When I woke up, it hit me right then- she must have been at his place. But why wouldn’t I know? Shouldn’t I have known?

A little gentle prodding, and Miranda let on that this was, indeed, what had happened. I spent the day questioning myself. Should anyone have told me? Was this something I had some god-given right to know? Not really. Miranda’s always been good at keeping me up to date on her latest goings on. Orion has always told me when he’s got a new crush that might develop into more. And with Orion, I have never felt anything but happiness about him developing his other relationships. I have never wanted anyone to be beholden to me about anything in relationships. All I ever ask of my partners is ‘please be present with me, please communicate with me, please honor our connection whatever it may be’.

So why was I so upset?

I played through alternative scenarios in my head- what if I had known? What if, when Miranda had texted me that she wasn’t free that evening, she had mentioned ‘I’m at Orion’s’? How would I have reacted? I think I’d have sent her a thumbs up and a ‘Yay! Have fun!’ I feel like I was kinda denied that instant compersion because, well, I didn’t know it was happening, and you cannot feel compersion for something you don’t know is happening. The Big Sister in me feels sad that I was left out of knowing about something that I was really excited about, even though it had nothing to do with me. It’s not that I feel there’s an obligation to let me know every little detail. I just feel that in a spirit of perpetual openness, why hide something that might be relevant for someone to know? It’s not like I need a play by play detailed account. And going forward, it isn’t something I need to get too involved in. I just wish I’d had that opportunity to feel the compersion first, before the jealousy. I’m still uncertain how I should have found out though.

I’ve talked about this with both of them now. I think things are all good. We’ve all learned something out of this.

pompomThis experience has taught me something very important about myself and how I process things. I like to know what’s happening! Once I have shared my love with someone, that is not something I can take back, and even if I am no longer involved, I love to know that they are experiencing beautiful, happy things in their life. I had a huge grin on my face last night as ElkFeather told me about a girl he has a crush on. She’s someone I know peripherally, and I feel like they would be a really lovely pair. I’m rooting for them. This discovery of my desire for compersion brings me as well to understand the frustration I have felt with some other situations in my life: I think two exes of mine are now seeing each other. But I really have no idea. I just pick up on things, and it is sometimes enfuriating to be in the void of ‘not-knowing’. I get a little resentful of it. I’m not sure that there’s any obligation to tell me, of course. But again, they are two people whom I can see being incredibly compatible together  and I just wish I knew for sure if that was actually the case, so I can cheer them on!

I acknowledge this might make me one of the strangest people on the planet. I’ve just never found the head-in-the-sand approach worked very well for me. Whilst looking up definitions of compersion for this article I came across a book, “Compersion: Using Jealousy As A Path To Unconditional Love“, and I think that this concept- that you can transmute jealousy into a positive experience that brings about a feeling of emotional expansiveness- accurately summarizes one of the things I absolutely adore about polyamory: it challenges me on every ounce of selfishness and past-attachment, and the only way through all of that is by continually working on myself to find that place of natural (not forced) unconditional loving. When jealousy turns into compersion, it is a beautiful thing indeed. And I don’t like the feeling of being denied that opportunity to experience compersion with any loves, whether they are still a central feature of my life, or not.

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

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.