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THE VOWS

What happens when a couple about to be wed negotiates the language of their marital vows to conform to their polyamorous viewpoints?  Comedy!  Check out this sketch written and produced by Michael Shames:

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YONI-licious!

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I received an email from a tantra teacher who knew of my openness .  She was hosting a goddess workshop to explore the mysteries of the yoni, to include instructions on what to contract, what to relax, and demonstrations on how to touch.  She asked would I be so kind to be the model. HELL yes.  I did not hesitate.  I began to prepare for this adventure.  

As a sensualist, I like to incorporate all senses into my experiential being:  taste, sound, touch, sight and smell.  However, I am most fully integrated when I can combine my sensuality with my creativity, spirituality and intellectualism.  I saw an opportunity to prepare for this yoni-centric experience while fully realizing my integrated self.  

I knew that the tantrika would serve food at the event and the group would be a receptive audience to my out-of-the-box food creations.  I would create a food both sexy to look at and sexy to eat.  Just this act of creation tapped into my sexual reservoir and started the juices flowing.  Creative juices, sexual energy, the result would be delicious!

banana and honeydewI have long experimented with the plating of dishes to appear phallic or yonic:  sexy shaped food to remind us of our sexual being.  We eat first with our eyes and sight is the sense that helps draw us in to the experience.  Next, our palate is dependent and connected to our sense of smell. the aroma should be inviting; nurturing not abrasive.  The scent attracts one to consume it as a cologne or a perfume seeks a lover.  Finally, when the food and mouth meet, the tastes should combine to offer complexity and variety:  combinations that the poly-inclined appreciate more than most.

I decided to take an old favorite – a dish that always generated requests for the recipe when I would share it at potlucks – with a new packaging and appearance in order to honor the yoni – the guest of honor at this particular event.  Scalloped Pineapple the recipe book calls it, but it’s really a pineapple bread pudding.  A simple recipe, the dish combines the glutonous basics (egg, sugar, butter, bread and pineapple) for a doughy, sweet medley with the carmelized sugar offering some crunch and texture.  Here is the basic recipe:

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The recipe book I am using also taps into the Goddess; this is a collection of tried and true family restaurants passed around and shared by the generations of women who live in the grand estates just outsidmain line classice Philadelphia on what is known as “The Main Line.”  Thusly  titled Philadelphia Main Line Classics its popularity generated a sequel, aptly titled Philadelphia Main Line Classics II.  I have both, but the first shows its wear and tear; it is a favorite.  The recipe contributors, collectively named The Saturday Club, is a philanthropic women’s club organized in 1907. The group today has a membership of over 100 women who donate their time and energy to local groups and community service projects and their resources to numerous non-profit and educational organizations in need. 

I intended to draw upon their wisdom and expand upon it, to create a visual, aromatic and tasteful replication of the yoni.   I believe these women would be proud that their recipe would be applied to such yoni-licious consequences!  So, instead of preparing the concoction family style as a souffle, I would instead make individual servings that bake in their own yoni-shapPicture2ed lemon shell.  The bread pudding would then cook inside the lemon shell melding together flavors of fruity doughy sweetness with the citric tanginess of the lemon.  The pudding, thus, replicates the fleshy insides of the vagina.  On top, I would shape two peach wedges to form the labia, between which I would place a dollop of honey & cream in between to symbolize the nectar found within this mysterious organ.  Finally, a cherry would rest either in the center or at its edge to symbolize the sacred spot.   The result are 12 individual sized servings of yoni!

 

 

Before I get ahead of myself, here are the ingredients you will need to make 12 individual-sized servings:

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  • stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (20 ounces) of crushed pineapple
  • 1 can (20 ounces) cherry pie filling
  • 1 can (20 ounces) peach pie filling
  • 6 slices of bread (crust removed)
  • 6 lemons
  • 1 package (8 ounces) of marscapone
  • honey to taste
  • lady fingers or vanilla sandwich creme fingers
  • sweetened cream soda, add to taste

The first thing I do, a few hours in advance, is take the butter out of the fridge so it can warm up and be more receptive when I cream it with the sugar.  I found this simple task to be similar to the warming up the yoni must to do be awakened and receptive to self-pleasure.   Those times that I made do with refrigerator-cold butter, I would have to work harder with my wrist and arm to combine it with the sugar. But warmed up, they come together and bind harmoniously.

Once you are ready to start combining ingredients, you must also warm-up the oven so that it is hot enough to get the job done.  For this recipe, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Start with the lemons.  Halve them along their long side so that the shape most resembles the elongated yoni.  Then, you want to juice them.  Finally, take a spoon and scrape out as much of the remaining lemon as you can.  A bit of pithy membrane will remain.

IMG_20141207_130838647Arrange the lemon wedges on a baking pan and place them in the oven.  This is to dry out the pith a bit before you add the other ingredients, but the result is an aromatic delight, as baked lemon will start wafting through your kitchen.  I removed the lemon wedges a few minutes after this aroma reminded me that they too were warmed and ready for what would come next.

Time for the wet-ingredient sinfulness:  all those delicious staples which perplex some:  butter, egg, sugar.  Irresistible for the taste hedonist I am! (A little secret – I always add a little more butter than the recipe calls for!)  If you are under dietary restriction do not let my words lure you to danger.  But, for those who can tolerate, these substances are the very essence of woman.

Butter springs from milk: the substance that nourishes the young and connects mother to infant.  This is also a source of strength:  calcium growing strong bones.  Eggs are the eternal depiction of birth and motherhood.  Their fragility must be guarded yet their contents, provide nourishing protein in the most tasty of varieties.  Sugar:  sweet as sweet can be, there is no substitute.  Yet, this sIMG_20141207_124119831ame sweetness will lure others to consume her for their own.  She learns to guard against this, and hides behind sheaths of fibrous stalks known as cane.

So, order and timing are important.  Whenever combining eggs and dairy there is the chance you will instead make scrambled eggs (or so I am led to believe) so keep first things first!  Combine the butter with the sugar.  At room temperature, the butter should clump with the sugar.  Keep combining until all the sugar is clinging to some butter.

IMG_20141207_124314928Now, take the eggs and add them.  I add them together all at once but the important thing is to take it slow and easy when breaking them into the butter and sugar medley – – don’t whip ’em into a frothy mess or they will peak before their time!   Once the eggs are all broken and assimilated with the buttery sugar concoction, time for the pineapple.  You can also substitute pineapple chunks instead of crushed pineapple.    Drain the juice from the can and add to the lemon juice you set aside from earlier.   After gently stirring, set aside.

Return to the baking pan filled with the emptied out lemon halves.  Sprinkle some sugar into each lemon. For those who elect to eat the baked lemon rind, this added sugar will balance with the baked citrus of the lemon to reduce its acidity, and they will thank you for this extra step.

Next, we add the bread.  Bread, too, has a great many symbolisms throughout our cultural history.  Bread is life.  Bread is sustenance. Bread represents bounty and plenty.  The gift of bread is in many cultures and act of social politeness for being welcomed into another’s home.  In France, for example, “buying fresh bread on the way home is a simple way of showing loved ones that you have thought about them and of giving them pleasure during the day.”  (Westwood, 2014, para151408-379x251-Whole_wheat_assorted. 2) How appropriate as giving and receiving pleasure will be a focus of the ceremony celebrating womanhood I would soon attend.

Bread, as well, is intimately connected with the female.  “A woman’s fertility cycle was linked to the earth. Women, they thought, were responsible for the success (or lack thereof) of the harvest, as they were perceived to have knowledge about creation. Fertility festivals were common, and in places like Sicily, loves of vaginal-shaped bread were given out in celebration of women and the harvest.”  (Wheeler, 2014, para. 4.)

IMG_20141207_132016451Returning to our yoni assembly, take a slice of bread, remove the crusts and divide the remainder in half.  Place the half in the bottom of the lemon.  Press down so bread is below the outer rip of the lemon but not so firmly as you want it to soak up and absorb the gooey wet ingredients that you add on top. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out an appropriate amount of the pineapple-butter-sugar-egg mixture, being careful to scoop from the bottom to get all the ingredients.  When topping, these ingredients which comprise the “fleshy mound” of our yoni, can extend above the rim of the lemon.  While cooking the center mound may rise, as well.

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When we later gathered for our clitoral stimulation demonstration, this would be the first time for many women, to have been able to observe, up close, the vagina of another exposed for their examination.   They were in awe.  They examined with quiet reverence.  When we cover ourselves up in clothes we create an image we hope to project.  When we lay naked with our most private parts exposed, we have no such protection.  We are at our most vulnerable.  The women were most appreciative of my willingness to lay bare my flesh for their examination.  I am a social scientist at heart.  We learn by seeeing, trying and refining our techniques!   The women watched quietly as I was slowly brought to ecstasy through the adept fingers and palm of the tantrika. A few noted how surprised they were to see that the the labia and surrounding flesh changes color and gets swollen.  They wondered if their body behaved similarly all these years without their knowledge.

Our bread pudding yoni will also get swollen as it cooks and will change in coloration.  Like the exposed yoni, the pineapple bread pudding reveals similar vulnerability when placed in the oven.  The dessert will not be edible and could make people sick if it is not cooked long enough, but, if it is cooked too long, it will dry out and burn.  Thus, while the pudding is at its most vulnerable we must be careful to allow it enough time to get to where it needs to get, but not too much time that it can no longer serve its intended purpose.

I recommend approximately 45 minutes to an hour for this to occur.  You will want to wait for some slight carmelization to occur on the top of each.  At this point, remove from the oven and allow to cool still in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Now, time to add a few other parts.

 

IMG_20141207_142104590Take two peach slices and arrange them around the perimeter to replicate the lips of the labia.  The larger edge of the peach should be on the outside.  You can press the peach in to the pudding slightly to secure it in place.  Then, in another bowl, blend together the marscapone cheese with honey.  Honey, created from the nectar of flowers, reminds us of our own nectar:  the essence of our sexual and sensual being.  Religious texts and ancient literature reveres honey for its medicinal, healing and spiritual qualities. (Theophil, 2006.)

Now, return the lemons back to the oven for the peaches and cream to be absorbed into the pudding.  Wait for the peaches (labia) to get slightly darker.  Remove and let cool.  I experimented first with three lemon shells when placing the cherry on top and returning it to the oven with the cherry on top, but much as I had worried might happen, the cherry sauce bled in the oven and made for a slightly “bloody” appearance, and not as appetizing.  Thus, hold off on placing the cherries until immediately before serving.  Also pat off the excess cherry pie glaze that surrounds each cherry.

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We don’t want to let the lemon juice and pineapple juice we have set aside go to waste.  Add sweetened cream soda for some carbonation and sweetness to offset the bitterness of the lemon.  Add to taste (I used approximately 4 12-ounce cans).  This will make a very refreshing beverage to complement the yoni-liciousness.  Transfer the lemons to a serving plate and place out the punch.

And now for the climactic finale:  the consummation.

How does one eat such a yoni?  The lemon shell, once baked, can be eaten or can be held as a cup to eat out its contents only.  As with a yoni, the person eating it has the option of burying the concoction in his or her face, scooping out delicious goodness with one’s tongue, or a few fingers can be used to help.  For this purpose, the yoni should be served aside lady fingers or vanilla fingers – perhaps both for more poly-choices and variety of textures!  Those who don’t eat their lemon cup can later fill it with the pineapple-cream-lemonade.

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The result:  a yoni-licious extravaganza:  visual appeal combines with aroma and a taste medley.  But while each of these lemon halves contains similar ingredients, was assembled by the same person and has a consistent taste, they are all, too, slightly unique.  This was my take away from the gathering of goddesses who unabashedly shared methods and techniques for self-pleasure so that their fellow goddesses could experience the pleasures they had found for themselves.  What struck me was how varied the approaches to self-pleasure, yet, in the end, how similar we all are in our quest for better understanding our selves and our yoni.  Bon vivant!

References:

Saturday Club of Wayne (1982, June 10).  Philadelphia Main Line Classics.  Wayne, PA:  Junior Saturday Club of Wayne.

Theophil, M.  (2006, November 16).  A Meaningful Story of Buddha, Elephant and Monkey.

Westwood, M.  (2014, January 31).  How has bread been symbolic, culturally and religiously? eNotes.

Wheeler, (2014, February 18).   How has bread been symbolic, culturally and religiously? eNotes.

 

Solo Polyamory: rules for myself and my expectations of others

It was in law school that we first learned the benefit of not “recreating the wheel.”  In other words, benefit from those who have pioneered the trails before you and have crafted a better way.  So as I stumble through the solo polyamory territory, I am grateful to those who have gone before me in this journey.  It is from their potholes, speed bumps and detours that I may learn in order that my ride is smoother.  18516225-road-with-under-construction-traffic-cones

In my own personal transition from monogamy to polyamory, I found myself shedding one set of rules and expectations, usually unstated, and embracing an entirely new paradigm.  In rejecting the ownership construct of monogamy, I found myself reluctant to impose rules on others.  My reluctance was also born out of an understanding of the elusiveness of externally-imposed rules.  Enforcement is necessary.  Thus, if you impose rules, you must enforce them.  This can be pointless with other people, who are sovereign unto themselves and who can elect to abide your rules or not.

So I found it easier to think of rules for myself.  It takes a lot of discipline, I have long understood, to be a free spirit.  Thus, identifying what you want and don’t want involves setting rules for yourself.  How will you go about getting what you want and excising from your world that which you don’t want?  It is through the use of self-imposed rules.  The trick, however, is in enforcing these rules upon yourself!  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  The first start is in determining what those rules should be.

As we cannot control others, and we are deluding ourselves if we attempt to try, I don’t have rules for others.  I do, however, have expectations that if they are not met, would likely result in incompatibility.  Thus, these act like guidelines to inform others of the type of individual and relationship I am seeking.

As Polyamory gains in social acceptance, it is still marginalized.  In my research, I have found many writings about the personal experiences others have had that have shaped their choices, but these are but a drop in the bucket compared to the parallel writings that exist and support the monogamous culture.  It’s essential, then, that when quality resources are created and that are helpful in deconstructing the mysteries, increasing awareness of the options, and in avoiding the usual struggles, should be shared and highlighted.  That is one of the mission’s of this blog in building community and networking support systems for polyamorists.

AggieSez is a female solo polyamorist who self-describes herself as “a 40-something straight, white, cisgendered, able-bodied, tech savvy, mentally and physically healthy, active, college-educated, neurotypical, divorced, atheist woman. I’m child-free by choice. I’m very sex positive but not especially kinky. I’m a longtime self-employed professional, fully self-supporting. I’m not rich, but I do OK.”  Except as to the child-free descriptor, she could be describing me.  But Aggie, with a decade of polyamorous relationships has had more experience than I in attempting to navigate this terrain.

AggieSez shares her experiences as a female solo polyamorist at SOLOPOLY, a blog dedicated to offer a counter-vision to the balance of information that addresses polyamory from a couples perspective.  Solo and couples poly offer unique challenges, however.  AggieSez has been a wonderful guide for myself and other solo polyamorists as we attempt our own individual paths.

So when AggieSez shared the rules and expectations that she had developed for herself, I found that these same guidelines are those I already adhered to a certain degree yet might not have been able to articulate as well.  All of the rules resonated.  Thus, I wrote and asked for permission to reprint her rules on the Poly Peeps blog, which she graciously extended.  I share the following not only as a resource for others in like-minded paths, but also for those who are interested in partnering with myself as a guide for what a relationship with me might entail and whether that is an arrangement that is compatible with what you are looking for in your life.

My bottom line: What I require and expect in my solo poly relationships

November 21, 2014 by aggiesez

The best — and sometimes hardest — part about choosing solo polyamory is that I can never coast in my intimate relationships. When you’re this far off the standardrelationship escalator, you can’t afford to make assumptions about how relationships work, or about partners or metamours.

Through much trial and error, I’ve tried my best to develop good relationship skills — including good communication skills. I don’t claim to be perfect, or even great, as a partner or metamour. But I do try to be forthright and transparent.

In that spirit, since I can’t take anything for granted in my relationships (and since I flunked telepathy) I’m using my words right now. This post is intended to let people who might be considering getting intimately connected to me, in any sense, know up front what my bottom line is in intimate relationships.

I’m posting this to my blog because I think it’s helpful for anyone to know, and be able to articulate, their own needs and expectations, for any kind of relationship — regardless of style. I’m not saying your bottom line should match mine. But I am saying: If you don’t have your own clear bottom line, you’re asking for trouble.

I’ve found it’s absolutely essential to know what your own bottom line is.To be clear and confident about it, and not waver or cave under pressure. To not settle for, or rationalize, getting less than what you need. To not cave to pressure, manipulation or abuse. To be as flexible as you can, but to know where bending or changing would be unhealthy or destructive. And ultimately, to be willing and able to walk away from relationships which fall irretrievably below your bottom line — even if that means not having any partners, or enduring some loss.

Knowing and sticking to your bottom line is especially crucial for solo poly people. So far, most people don’t really understand solo polyamory. Having relatinships with us often involves a big learning curve. People usually harbor consciously or unconsciously assumptions or biases rooted in the escalator approach to relationships — which means they often expect that solo poly folks will eventually end up playing by escalator rules to some extent. Or, conversely, that relationships aren’t really important to us — so it doesn’t really matter much if we’re not treated so well by partners or metamours.

Aggie’s bottom line in intimate relationships:

1. Honest and open relationships only. I only participate in intimate relationships which are both fully honest (that is, all major partners and metamours know about each other, and the nature/extent of those connections) and sexually and romantically nonexclusive. I don’t help people cheat, and I don’t do don’t-ask-don’t tell relationships.

I expect my partners to be aware of, respect, and to not have a problem with (or interfere with) any other relationships and partners I may have. I offer this in return.

I will not avoid mentioning or acknowledging any of my partners to shield other people from their own insecurities. However, I may be willing, with direct negotiation, to support partners and metamours in expanding their comfort zone — as long as this isn’t being used as an excuse to cling to insecurity or prevent change.

2. Metamour relationships. Everyone in a relationship network affects each other, directly and indirectly. I like to know who I’m affecting, and who might affect me, so we can all take each other into consideration and more realistically grasp the context of overlapping realtionships.

Therefore, I usually want to meet — or at least communicate directly with — my significant metamours before a relationship progresses too far. (“Trust, and verify.”) We don’t need to be friends, or close, or even interact much all. But it’s important to me to establish direct communication and mutual goodwill; or to figure out how to adapt if that’s not feasible.

3. I don’t do hierarchy. I never wish to have an escalator-style “primary” or “nesting” realtionship — but I am never a “secondary” partner (or person), in any sense. I expect full respect and consideration as a human being.

Consequently, I require a full and equal voice with my partners regarding the form that our relationship takes, and how we negotiate to handle our connection. In addition to negotiating our boundaries and voluntary commitments, this also includes negotiating what we do/don’t wish to keep each other in the loop about concerning our other relationships, major life decisions, etc.

My partners and I may each choose to take our other partners or priorities into consideration (in terms or what we are each willing or able to offer in our relationship). However, metamours do not get to make any decisions or demands concerning any relationship I am part of. I don’t enter or remain in relationships where I’m expected to comply with rules that I did not consent to or negotiate on, or where a veto in any sense (explicit or implicit) may exist.

4. I don’t ask for permission, but I do offer consideration. My partners do not get to make decisions or demands/rules for any relationship of mine which they are not part of. Nor do I expect, or want, them to ask my permission for how they conduct their relationships.

That said, I do generally prefer to keep my partners in the loop about what’s going on in my life (including my love/sex life). I often invite or welcome my partners’ (and sometimes, my metamours’) perspectives. I’m generally open to hearing or discussing their concerns or questions. And I prefer, but don’t demand, the same consideration in return.

5. No defaults or assumed obligations. My partners and I are not entitled to each other’s time, attention, affection, sex, etc. We are not each other’s “default” anything. Our relationship does not oblige us in any ways aside from mutual honesty, respect and consideration.

If either of us wants or needs something in our relationship, I expect that we’ll ask for it, using our words. “No,” or a counteroffer, is always an acceptable response — although this should be delivered kindly or considerately, knowing that sometimes it can be scary or risky to speak up for what you really need.

6. Safer sex. I thoroughly enjoy safer sex! I also have high standards for communicating about STI risks, and I talk with partners clearly about sexual health, likes, and dislikes, right up front. (That’s fun!) This is actually a bit of a skills test: I’ve found that people who are accomplished at, and enthusiastic about, discussing and doing a variety of safer sex techniques tend to be vastly better lovers and partners.

When starting any sexual relationship, I choose to only engage in barriered penetrative sex. I will consider and negotiate other risk factors situationally. I get regular STI testing and am willing to share results upon request, as well as discuss aspects of my sex life that may have a bearing on the health of people in my network. (More about my personal approach to safer sex.)

After time (as we establish trust and if I feel confident about our risk tolerances, boundaries, STI status and testing, etc.) I may sometimes choose to forego barriers. However, unbarriered sex is neither a guarantee nor a goal for me. It may work in some relationships and not others.

If I do decide to have unbarriered sex with a partner, they or I may choose to resume using barriers at any time, for any reason. This should not be seen as having any effect on our relationship — it’s not a “demotion,” etc. People who aren’t OK with this, or who “tokenize” unbarried sex as a symbol of relationship rank or quality, are not compatible with me in a sexual relationship.

7. Constructive communication. I expect to communicate calmly, directly, clearly, constructively and as promptly as possible with partners (and, if necessary, metamours) regarding key questions, concerns, boundaries or issues involving our relationship or relationship network. It’s OK, and healthy, to express strong feelings; but it;s not OK for us to interact in a blaming, accusatory, condescending, entitled, manipulative or abusive way.

I expect and invite my partners and metamours to speak up to me directly as well, with similar civility and consideration, as needed. Use your words: I do not abide manipulative or passive-aggressive behavior.

Things change, and I expect my partners to tell me when things that might affect our relationship shift, so we can negotiate and adapt as needed. I expect us to listen to each other, especially when that’s hard, and to collaborate on finding options and solutions.

I do not remain in relationships with partners who can’t or won’t communicate calmly and constructively with me. Also, I limit contact with metamours who lack this skill or willingness. (Although I’m happy to interact constructively and amiably with metamours to the extent we both desire.)

8. We are not going to shack up, no matter how long our relationship lasts. I am not interested in sharing a home or finances with any partner, or identifying strongly as a couple rather than an individual. With some of my intimate partners, we may end up sharing very deep investment or commitment in other ways, or spending lots of time together — each relationship I’m in finds its own level over time.

This is not a distancing tactic. I absolutely need my alone time, and my autonomy. I am a better partner (and make better decisions in relationships) when my housing, finances, support network, identity, and circle of family/friends is not dependent on any intimate relationship; and when my partners are not enmeshed with me in those ways.

9. I expect cooperation and goodwill, not perfection. Everyone makes mistakes. Also, people and life (and thus relationships) are always changing. so it’s inevitable that sometimes we’ll hurt, offend, transgress, misunderstand, embarrass, or neglect each other — perhaps even badly. That’s just part of being in real relationships with real people. I prefer to discuss mistakes and transgressions calmly and learn from them, to heal and become better people through that process.

I strive to always expect, and assume mutual goodwill with my partners and metamours; that we will not intentionally try to hurt or undermine each other. I don’t abide scorekeeping, territoriality, retribution or “pulling rank.” I will not remain in relationships where resentment, competition or contempt become entrenched in our dynamic.

10. We are always free to leave or change our relationship. My strong preference is to discuss and negotiate, sooner rather than later, the possibility of ending or significantly transitioning my intimate relationships. Also, I strongly prefer to transition into viable (not in-name-only) friendship with former partners and metamours. However, I don’t require friendship — or indeed, any contact at all — post-relationship.

We don’t necessarily need to agree when a relationship is no longer worth keeping. I don’t do “zombie relationships,” where we continue on out of habit or inertia, rather than from desire and caring. I won’t stay in a relationship only because my partner isn’t ready for it to transition or end. But I will always try to end or transition relationships kindly and considerately, where possible.

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Poly Peeps Postscript:  Though I have a child and AggieSex is child-less by choice, I see no need to add or amend any rule or expectation.  “Other relationships” as its used above would extend to one’s children and the children of one’s paramours and metatmours.  The meeting of the metamours, however, becomes more significant when there are children involved so everyone can participate in discussing the expectations they have where their children are concerned.   Some of my partners have not revealed their polyamorous status to their children while others have.  Some of my partners are okay attending social events with children while some metamours would prefer his or her children never meet me, socially or otherwise.  All of this would need to be discussed in further and the meeting of the first metamours is an excellent place and time.

I would add to the honesty rule that for me, honesty is also a turn-on and a craving.  Honesty helps to develop emotional intimacy and through shared vulnerability the partners become closer.  This is not just a rule or an expectation, but a craving and a need of mine.

Green-eyed dragons: Brain Challenge

green eyed monster

You visit a remote desert island inhabited by one hundred very friendly dragons, all of whom have green eyes. They haven’t seen a human for many centuries and are very excited about your visit. They show you around their island and tell you all about their dragon way of life (dragons can talk, of course).

They seem to be quite normal, as far as dragons go, but then you find out something rather odd. They have a rule on the island which states that if a dragon ever finds out that he/she has green eyes, then at precisely midnight on the day of this discovery, he/she must relinquish all dragon powers and transform into a long-tailed sparrow. However, there are no mirrors on the island, and they never talk about eye color, so the dragons have been living in blissful ignorance throughout the ages.

Upon your departure, all the dragons get together to see you off, and in a tearfulfarewell you thank them for being such hospitable dragons. Then you decide to tell them something that they all already know (for each can see the colors of the eyes of the other dragons). You tell them all that at least one of them has green eyes. Then you leave, not thinking of the consequences (if any).

LOGICAL?  Assuming that the dragons are (of course) infallibly logical, what happens?  How many dragons, if any, become long-tailed sparrows and in what period of time?

PHILOSOPHICAL?  While scratching your head, can you figure out what this logic problem has to do with polyamory?  What might the dragons and sparrows represent, allegorically?  What if the dragons are in a forest by themselves with a rock that God created so large and heavy that even God cannot move it?

CONSERVATION ECOLOGIST? Are you concerned more about the long-term survival and possible extinction of the green-eyed dragon in the wake of your very regrettable action?  Perhaps if the dragons reproduced and kept the next generation from finding out about your careless reveal, the species can be saved.

SAPIO SEXUAL?   Do you enjoy scrolling through the comments of intellectuals who attempted to solve this puzzle to see how their minds operate?  Do you enjoy words like egalitarian and lascivious?   Does learning turn you on?

ARTISTIC?  What do the long-tailed sparrows look like while transforming from a dragon and in their final form?   Sketch a scene.  Sculpt a statue.   Sing a song.  Dance like no one’s watching, except that everyone is.  But that’s okay.

The 100 Green Dragons logic problem originally appeared on io9 website with its solution where it was billed as either the hardest or the second-hardest logic problem in the world.  

Mambo Number 5: Polyamory Pop

Viva la variety!  Pop artist Lou Bega explains how much he loves a little bit of all his many partners in Mambo No. 5.  Just makes you wanna dance, doesn’t it?

Ladies and gentlemen

This is Mambo No. 5!

One, two, three, four, five
Everybody in the car, so come on let’s ride
To the liquor store around the corner
The boys say they want some gin and juice
But I really don’t wanna
Beer bust, like I had last week
I must stay deep, ’cause talk is cheap
woman-dancing-silhouette-image-6I like Angela, Pamela, Sandra and Rita
And as I continue you know they’re getting sweeter
So what can I do? I really beg you, my Lord
To me flirting is just like a sport
Anything fly, it’s all good let me dump it
Please set in the trumpet

A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side
A little bit of Rita is all I need
A little bit of Tina is what I see
A little bit of Sandra in the sun
A little bit of Mary all night long
A little bit of Jessica here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

Mambo No. 5!

Hip-Hop-Dance-Silhouette-GraphicsJump up and down and move it all around
Shake your head to the sound
Put your hands on the ground
Take one step left and one step right
One to the front and one to the side
Clap your hands once and clap your hands twice
And if it looks like this then you’re doing it right
A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side
A little bit of Rita is all I need
A little bit of Tina is what I see
A little bit of Sandra in the sun
A little bit of Mary all night long
A little bit of Jessica here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man
13137001351524485184Dancer Silhouettes.svg.hiTrumpet!
The trumpet!
Mambo No. 5!
(ha ha ha)A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side
A little bit of Rita is all I need
A little bit of Tina is what I see
A little bit of Sandra in the sun
A little bit of Mary all night long
A little bit of Jessica here I am
A little bit of you makes me your man

I do all I do
To fall in love with a girl like you
You can’t run and you can’t hide
You and me gonna touch the sky

Mambo No. 5!

Club_DancingBlackSilhouette_BlueBk_v1

Resolving Scheduling Conflicts

Veronica_LodgeDear Veronica,

I have a predicament.  My wife just told me the date of her graduation from law school but I already have plans with my girlfriend to go out of town camping that weekend. We made the plans weeks ago before I knew when the graduation ceremony would be.  What should I do?

Man in the Middle 

 

 

 

Dear Man in the Middle:

What do you want to do?  That is a starting point because polyamory is not about imposing obligation over pleasure.  But what you choose to do may have consequences in your relations with your partners. Your wife has been working hard for years now and graduation is a celebration of her effort and accomplishment.  Your girlfriend, however, is entitled to predictability and dependability in the plans that she makes with you.  The key principles to remember here are to be honest about what you want, respectful of your girlfriend’s autonomy, and supportive of your wife’s success.

Sit down with your partners.  I would prefer to get the three together at the same time, if possible.  Be honest about your predicament and the pull you feel to both of your partners.  Brainstorm:  is there a way that everyone can be made happy?  Can you attend the graduation and move the camping trip?  Can you skip the graduation ceremony but instead throw a graduation party?

If these options are not feasible, then this is where prior agreements would be helpful.  Some couples prioritize the commitments between the married couple.  But “couples privilege” can quickly alienate those outside the pair who are, thus, unprivileged.  From my perspective as a solo poly female, I am sympathetic to your girlfriend’s predicament, as constantly having plans reshuffled to accommodate another can feel disrespectful.

For this reason, my partners and I generally practice the “first in time” rule where the plans that were scheduled first (and that make it on the Google calendar) would trump any later plans.  But, there are always exceptions.  No one rule can anticipate all of the varied circumstances that will present themselves.  It would help if you had a pattern of honoring your commitments and this conflict was viewed as an aberration.

Remember to thank your partners for their accommodation in the love language of their preference.  For example, if your girlfriend likes touch the most, you could offer to give her a massage and if your wife most likes acts of service, you could offer to cook dinner.  In this way, you remind each how important they are in your life.

I hope, with honest self-reflection and open communication with your partners you are able to arrive at an accommodation that will leave all feeling respected and valued in the relationship.

Thanks for writing!

Presentation1

Archie Comic Publications, Inc.  (2014).  Image of Veronica Lodge.

To find out how it came to be that Veronica, Betty, Archie, Jughead, Moose and Reggie all transitioned from monogamy to polyamory, or to ASK VERONICA and the other members of ARCHIE’S GANG questions about polyamory or open relating, go to the Poly Advice page.

 

Polyamory Maxims excerpted from The Ethical Slut

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Choose Happiness. Reject Misery.

hug heart

Sounds simple enough.  And it is.  Here is how:

Compersion and Jealousy

Compersion is such a recent concept, spell-check doesn’t even recognize the word and you cannot find a definition in mainstream dictionaries.  This is the definition offered up by Modern Poly:

Compersion: adj., the experience of taking pleasure in the knowledge that one’s partner is experiencing pleasure, even if the source of their pleasure is other than yourself. The feeling may or may not be sexual.

While this concept is commonly understood by those who practice polyamorous relationships, it has not yet found mainstream acceptance.  Yet it operates as does altruism and self-confidence, whereas jealousy, its evil twin, operates through its antithesis:  selfishness and insecurity.  The more I embrace compersion, the more I reject jealousy.  This concept is equally compatible with monogamy as it is polyamory and non-monogamy.

Jealousy needs no definition; we have examples all around us.  Jealousy is a destructive emotion.  Jealousy seeks to deny, repress and hurt.  Compersion, on the other hand, is constructive.  Compersion seeks to give, share and provide pleasure.  Imagine how many murders and assaults have been committed due to jealousy and insecurity?  What if, instead, we embraced compersion as a society and encouraged the idea that if you love someone else, then you should want that other person to experience pleasure?

With jealousy, the bearer of the emotion makes others accountable for his or her insecurity.  A lover is expected to conform to the stated or unstated expectations of another to avoid triggering a jealous response in that person.  The jealous person is rarely required to accept responsibility for the negative emotion and conform his or her behavior instead.  Outside relationships, however, we would not tolerate this, so why do we embrace it within the confines of dating and marriage?  Consider the following analogies:

  • A high school student is jealous of another student’s good grades.  Instead improving his or her grades or otherwise dealing with this jealousy, the student with the good grades is expected to stop performing so well.
  • A neighbor is jealous of the car another neighbor drives.  Instead of dealing with this jealousy, the neighbor with the car is expected to stop driving it or to sell it entirely.
  • An amateur athlete is jealous of the fame and success of professional athletes.  Instead of dealing with this jealousy, the professional athletes are expected to stop competing professionally.

These make no sense.  So why, therefore, in the context of dating, should a lover’s reaction dictate our choices and freedoms?  Remember, jealousy are the selfish trappings of the ownership paradigm of monogamy.  With jealousy, we believe we have an ownership interest that trumps our partner’s rights to control their own body, make their own decisions and extend their personal experiences with others.

We invest time and effort to create rules that we convince ourselves will help us feel safe and secure when, paradoxically, when another stays with us in the absence or despite the rules we find the greatest reassurance.  Jealousy is of our own creation and we have the ability to examine it and discard it. When we allow it to control our thoughts and the actions of others we are inviting the misery and drama that jealousy brings.

Conversely, with compersion one person loves the other unselfishly and want’s the other person’s happiness.  The person who embraces compersion recognizes his or her own individual limits and that he or she cannot provide all possible pleasure or happiness to those who he or she may love.  The partner who embraces compersion chooses happiness – both that of their partner and their own.  Knowing their partner has received pleasure brings them happiness.

If one is insecure, however, and does not trust what they bring to the relationship is unique and incomparable, then the idea of allowing the object of one’s affection to experience pleasure with another is threatening.  The jealous person seeks to confine and restrict the other person to avoid feeling insecure rather than address their own lack of self-esteem or confidence.

Thus, the ability to embrace compersion is recognition of one’s own limitations.  We cannot provide all the pleasures in the universe to those whom we love.  Those who are self-secure is not threatened by their partner’s pleasure.  Indeed, the person who embraces compersion finds happiness through their partner’s pleasure.

So, to choose happiness, we need only take pleasure in our partner’s pleasures.  To reject misery we need only abandon the selfish trappings of our jealousy.  It’s that simple.  Reject misery.  Discard jealousy. Choose happiness. Embrace compersion.

Reference:

Modern Poly.  (2011, March 26).  Compersion.  Retrieved on November 30, 2013 from: http://modernpoly.com/feeditem/definition-compersion

Originally published under title Compersion and Jealousy:  The good twin and the evil twin on December 1, 2013 at Puzzle Pieces blog.

Just me, Just me.

heart_kisses

by Shel Silverstein

Sweet Marie, she loves just me

(She also loves Maurice McGhee).
No she don’t, she loves just me
(She also loves Louise Dupree).
No she don’t, she loves just me
(She also loves the willow tree).
No she don’t, she loves just me!
(Poor, poor fool, why can’t you see
She can love others and still love thee.)

Early Adopters of Open Relating

goldfish jumping out of the water

The term early adopter refers to an individual who is amongst the first to try a new product, technology or service.  In our context, it refers to the modern polyamorists; social pioneers who have found monogamy to be inadequate for their needs and who have found a polyamorous model more suited to their proclivities.

While monogamy is a relatively recent experiment, it has predominated in Western Civilization to exceed the collective memory of all but the historians.  Thus, the re-emergence of polyamory is instead viewed as a novelty and has not yet gained in mainstream social acceptance.

Early adopters are the tbefore it was coolrend setters.  These are the individuals who were doing [insert activity here] before it was considered “cool” and “hip” to do so.  And they are eager to remind you of this, as if it were a badge of honor.  And so it should be.

It’s easy to “go with the flow,” at least in concept.  Society promotes monogamy starting with fairy tales.  Men are pressured to pop the question and women are busily planning for their wedding day.  But is this working?  Every divorce would suggest not.  Even those who remain married, what percent do so out of social, religious and financial constraints, and not out of love or affection?  When did the pursuit of monogamy replace our pursuit of happiness and what can we do to redirect our pursuit to more hedonistic aims?

The early adopters of polyamory are those who aren’t just wondering, but who are actively seeking to find their own happiness instead of blindly following in the footsteps of prior generations.  This group does deserve recognition and applaud.  These are the brave.  These are the strong.  These are the social pioneers.   Others who follow do so in the wake of the trails that these early adopters have forged when the terrain was much less tamed.

Who is an early adopter of polyamory?  While polyamory has been practiced in its modern iteration for decades, the concept has still not achieved mainstream social acceptance and thus, is not yet “cool.”  Of course those who actually engage in the practice know otherwise, but for this to expand to a more mainstream awareness, the early adopters will have to educate and inform the population.

If you are an early adopter, this responsibility falls on you, as it does on me.  As early adopters of polyamory, we possess knowledge and experiences that others are still only curious about and have not yet found for themselves.  There will be those who become disillusioned with the trappings of monogamy but will not understand what alternatives and choices they have to shape the relationship style that works best for them.

It is not our role to overstep our boundaries, proselytize and impose our relating styles on others who are not in accordance.  Polyamorists honor consent and respect the personal autonomy of others.  But in the honoring of consent, is where the duty to educate and inform springs forth.  For how can one consent, either to polygamy OR to monogamy, when one is not fully informed of the alternatives?

So, to fulfill our role as early adopters we must do our best in our personal relating with others to model the precepts of polyamory.  The principles and practices we engage in will, decades from now, be traditions adhered to by future generations.  We must ensure they promote the pillars of polyamory and are not injurious to self or others.

The role of early adopters is also to make ourselves available to answer questions and mentor others who are further behind us on their journey toward more open relating.  We should also be mindful not to encroach on the personal autonomy of those whose journey is mono oriented.  As more persons become aware of their choices and elect a polyamorous path, this relating style will gain in mainstream social acceptance, so that eventually, the early adopters of polyamory can proudly claim that we were “poly before poly was cool.”

ice_cube

 

 

Date Within Your Species

animal species

Do you know that phenomena in the wild when one species adopts another and raises it as its own?  Well, as cute or amazing as this occurrence is, it is also very, very rare.  And this is for obvious reasons. Bunnies and chicks may hang out together for springtime photo opportunities but have little else in common.  This article addresses the problems inherent when Poly Peeps attempt to relate with mono types.  Sometimes cute.  Rarely productive or practical.  Conflict laden.

 

bunny-in-a-parrot-suit-forwbunnybirdwbowtieforsiteBirds are able to fly and have wings that will take them far and wide.  If the bird paired with a rabbit, the bird wouldn’t be able to share flight with the rabbit.  The bird would be grounded and unable to experience the world as the bird was able to, following the migration patterns that define its species.  The bird wasn’t well designed for hopping about and so as the rabbit experienced life in the way that rabbits do, the bird would not be able to fully engage in that activity.  Both animals would have to suppress their animal nature to share time and space with the other.

While partners need not share the same interests of their other partners, they do need to be able to experience the world in the manner best suited for them.  An individual who has chosen poly follows different rules and seeks different goals than does one who seeks to find a monogamous pairing.  When a polyamorous-minded person dates a monogamous-minded person, each are playing by a different set of rules and applying a different set of expectations.  This is likely to engender conflict or predispose the union to failure.

Consider the consequences if a basketball player followed the rules for soccer, instead.    The failure to achieve one’s unstated expectations can result in disappointment and disillusionment.  Imagine being handed a sandwich and assuming it to be tuna salad but it instead turns out to be banana and peanut butter?  Much could be avoided had the server informed the patron of its contents instead of expecting the patron would know, and similarly, the patron could also have sought confirmation that his assumption was accurate before the first bite.  The shock of the first taste aside, the patron may find the variety of taste appealing.  More plausible, however, the person’s whose expectations were not met will be left with disappointment and disillusionment.  With the rabbit and the bird, one would give up what it wanted (to hop or to fly) in order to co-relate with the other, but consider if instead, the species were called upon to give up what each needed?

Rainbow-colored-seahorsehorse on beach  In another mixed species analogy, consider the plight of the seahorse who needs to be in water and the horses that run wild on the beaches but lack the biology to breathe under water.  Size difference aside, a union between these two species would be quite near impossible.  Outsiders can see such an arrangement lacks much potential, but those who are caught up in the moment of connection may lack the necessary objectivity.

Is the inclination toward poly or mono relating then a want or a need?  If a “want,” the individual will be be called upon to sacrifice its animal instincts.  Short term this might be cute.  Long term, one or both of the partners will be disappointed and disillusioned.  But, if instead the inclination is a “need,” then the pairing could be not only impossible, but also injurious to one’s health.  Sea horses cannot live on the beach.  Wild horses cannot live underwater.   Thus, dating within one’s species may not just be a matter of selfish practicality, but also one of physical necessity.

Honesty and acceptance are two of the twelve pillars of polyamory.  A pairing between a mono- and poly-inclined partner is inherently dishonest.  Either the individuals are not being true to themselves and their poly inclinations or if they are, they are not truly accepting of the other person who holds contrary objectives of monogamy.  The lack of self-honesty, self-acceptance and acceptance of others will pre-incline the relationship to failure.  Without knowing what one is looking to find, one is certain not to find it.

There are several common circumstances in which  a mono-inclined person and a poly-inclined person seek to co-relate.  These include:

Strings-Attached Transitions:  One person in an exclusive relationship seeks to open up the relationship in order to pursue that person’s inclination toward polyamorous relating.  The other partner remains monogamous, but permits the person certain agreed-upon freedoms, with conditions.

Deliberate Ignorance:  Partners couple due to shared activities or to have needs met and close their eyes to any potential discord.  Each will avoid asking questions to which they don’t want to know the answer and both will avoid talking about their different relationship style.

Dating Choice Odds:  Persons seeking poly partners find a greater selection amongst the broader population of singles than amongst the smaller poly sub-culture in their community.  While each knows the other’s relationship style contrasts with that of their own, they put off resolving the conflict with the hope that if the relationship develops, the other person can be persuaded to change their mind.

kids-swimmingNone of these situations, however, are fully embracing of polyamorous principles nor do these situations permit full participation in the polyamorous experience.  Let’s consider yet another analogy:  three swimming pools are open to the public:  one is for poly people only, one is for mono people only and the third is for people who have not decided.  The poly pool contains the fewest swimmers, with people swimming alone, in pairs and in groups of three or more.  The mono pool has twice as many people as the poly pool, but most of these individuals are navigating in pairs.  The third pool is crowded; standing room only, a lot of whom have their eyes closed.

With the strings-attached transitions, one partner is in one pool and another is in another pool.  The two can get together on land, but can never swim together. How sad?  Another comparison for this group is permitting a loved one to go swimming, but only while wearing a life vest and tied to the shore.  The body is in the water, but can it be swimming with such constraints?  The persons who attempt polyamory yet impose ownership-based rules on the autonomy of the partner are still tethered to the shores of mono, allowed to dip their body in the poly pool but never fully submerge and never swim with the freedom of a fish.

With those who gravitate to deliberate ignorance, they find themselves in the crowded “undecided” pool with all the other unexamined swimmers.  Because they don’t want to alert the partner about their inclinations they remain in the over populated pool.  They would be looking yearningly toward the poly pool, but those who elect deliberate ignorance have their eyes closed.  Thus, not only are they swimming in the most populated of pools, they are doing so with their eyes closed.  The reluctance of those in this group to assert and communicate their needs also renders them powerless to call out for “help” should they need it.  This is the scariest of options to be blind and mute and attempting to stay afloat in a body of water crowded with others in a similar predicament.  In this situation, the blind and mute swimmers are dependent upon an observant lifeguard, if any, to avoid drowning or other dangers.

With the deliberate ignorance group, these persons also are tethered to the shore and cannot fully participate in the complete polyamorous experience.  Poly participants are self-reflective and take inventory of what it is they want and need.  Without this step, they would be powerless to communicate those needs to others.  Without communicating those needs, they would be less likely to have those needs met.  Thus, the deliberate ignorance group is sabotaging their autonomy and instead “going along with the crowd.”

Those in the third category, “Dating Choice Odds” arrive at the pool and are shown the three pools, but deliberately choose the overcrowded pool so that they will have a lot of different choices.  Or will they? Imagine if you want only blue m&ms.  Would you rather reach your hand into a bowl of only blue m&ms or instead grab a handful of assorted m&ms and sort through to try and find the blue ones?  Just because there are more swimmers in the overcrowded pool doesn’t mean that these persons are going to want to leave the comfort of the pool that he or she chose to instead swim in the pool that you would like to explore.  Moreover, this presupposition, that you will eventually change the other person’s mind, denies the other person the respect and autonomy that are crucial to the polyamorous experience.

bunny birdhorse birdWhat are the odds, if you are a bird that you will find a horse or a rabbit who will be able to fly as you can fly and who will be able to experience life as you are able to experience it?  Only with photoshop is this possible.

 

A word about the journey:  it is an individual one.  While we may invite others to accompany us and join others in their journey we are all, still, on our own individual journey.  Like a bird who perches on a rhinoceros or a driver who picks up a hitchhiker, our paths may cross but our journey remains singular.

Polyamorists value honesty and consent.  A driver would not consent to pick up a hitchhiker headed north when his or her own path was heading south instead.  A hitchhiker headed south would not consent to get in a car headed north.  Neither of the two would get very far by being dishonest about their intended direction.   As polyamorists, the individuals we pick up along the way should therefore further our objectives and not impede our journey. When we intend to explore poly connections but we remain rooted to persons with inclinations toward mono tendencies we prevent ourselves from living the experience.  Even though we may get a front row seat to watch, the perspective is still only that of a bystander and not a participant.

Undoubtedly, this is a lot of analogies to make the same point.  For good reason.  These are mistakes and lessons learned experientially.  How do you explain an experience so that others may benefit without their having to live through the experience themselves?  Through analogy and comparison to situations and experiences that are more understandable and recognizable.

These are lessons learned by others and rarely without struggle and discord.  When the mono type and poly peep pair, the mono will continually seek more restriction, ownership and control to achieve the intended mono goal while the poly person exploring poly will seek more and more freedom and autonomy.  There is nothing but conflict in the forecast ahead.

Choose the poly pool.  Experience the experience.  Untether yourself from the mono shore.  Assert your needs.  Respect the autonomy of others.  Date within your species.

Not enough people in the poly pool?  Stay tuned for articles on finding and growing community.  Subscribe to this blog and other’s like it to meet like-minded others and to have a forum for resolving the relationship issues that present themselves in poly arrangements.