Archive for the ‘Polyamory’
I was recently answering a question in a queer poly FAAB/woman/feminine-oriented group I’m part of and thought it would make good blog fodder. I have a ton of posts I keep working on and meaning to finish, but keep putting off, so I figure I could slap this one up. I have no idea what my readership is like these days (not that there’s many of you since my writing gap has grown larger and larger), but I imagine this might not be new information. Oh well!
Question posed: What is your story with your sexual identity? What’s your relationship with being queer?
(tl;dr, early bloomer. much queer, but always awkward. so genderqueer. much kink.)
I had my first sexual experience around third grade with a female friend of mine at the time: kissing and rubbing our bodies, including genitals, against each other while sleeping over at each others houses. I fooled around with a few people in middle school and high school, had my first boyfriend in middle school, where we ended up in a polyish relationship where he was dating me and another girl for a period of time. We weren’t together for very long, but mostly because it was middle school and less because of the poly. I had a few girls who were maybe sort of almost girlfriends, but who were mostly friends who were girls that I made out with or had sex with once and not really ever again. I was horribly awkward and shy and I didn’t know how to approach girls, or anyone for that matter. I did experience some discrimination and uncomfortableness from others because of my visible and unapologetic queerness, but I was used to being othered for most of my life anyway.
Being attracted to people regardless of gender was always a non-issue for me to some extent. When I learned the term bisexual around 6th grade I began calling myself that and coming out as bisexual, which lead me to being the President and Co-founder of my high school’s Gay/Straight Alliance (as they were commonly called then), and also lead most of the people in my school and my hometown thinking I was a lesbian. I came out to my mom somewhere around freshman year of high school and her response was: “oh, I thought you were a lesbian.” A non-issue. My older sibling identifies now as queer, as I do, and they were where I learned the term bisexual from all those years ago.
I discovered the concept of bdsm/kink around 6th grade as well, having had fantasies about it for as long as I’d had fantasies. That became and has always been a central part of my sexual identity as well. I first believed I was strictly a Submissive or Bottom, but have been identifying as a Top and Switch for the last seven or so years now.
I started playing consciously with my gender in high school as well, probably also leading a number of people to assume queerness from me (even though the conflation of gender and sexuality is inaccurate and not useful for anyone, imo, it is unfortunately pervasive, and gender does in fact tie in to sexual identity, since sexual identity is based on it, e.g., one cannot be homosexual or heterosexual without having a gender to base the homo or hetero aspect of that identity on. But, I digress). My genderfucking once included a fellow student that I didn’t know once asking me if I was a guy in drag (I was wearing a wig and “feminine” clothing). This was highly amusing to me, even though it was obviously meant to be offensive (I didn’t take it that way, though). I also did a lot of acting all through school (elementary-high), and basically during the plays in 6th and 7th grades I went through a phase where I only wanted to play guys (a big part of that, I think, was that I was always taller and larger than all of the girls and most of the guys in my age range at the time, but also probably something else).
I started identifying as queer around when that became common language, somewhere around 2005ish while I was in my undergrad in Gender Studies. I started identifying as genderqueer around the same time, though I had played with gender for long before that.
Onyx and I met when I was 19. It was my first real long-term relationship, and we have been together ever since. We’ve been poly since we met, and I had a long-distance relationship at the time we met as well, and that was also a non-issue. I wasn’t familiar with the term polyamory when we got together, but I knew the concept of an open relationship and was happy to expand my identity to include poly as well. We were only theoretically poly/monogamish for the first few years of our relationship, though.
For the first few years of our relationship I also had a difficult time with him being cis male and us being in a seemingly heterosexual relationship. I was not used to experiencing heterosexual privilege and it was really uncomfortable for me. I felt invisible and ignored by both queer and non-queer communities and people. I began feeling uncomfortable in queer circles and queer community because of my primary partnership with a cis guy, and I experienced individuals change their way of relating to me once they found out about that. I had my first serious girlfriend when I was 23; an attempted triad with me and Onyx that ended horribly. We were mostly monogamish for a while after that, until over a year ago when I met Rose.
For a large part of the last year Onyx and I were monogamish. There was occasional makeouts and things with other people, but even though there were a few people we were interested in I couldn’t think of venturing out into another relationship at the time. I was a wreck and thoroughly closed to myself. I could barely let Onyx in and the idea of a new relationship was daunting and terrifying.
Since Onyx and I got together we have never been strictly monogamous. Our flavor of non-monogamy has shifted many times over the years, but more often than not we have only been in a relationship with each other. When we first got together I had another long-distance relationship I was in, though that was not particularly healthy and stopped before we moved in together. For a long while after I moved in with him we were monogamish or poly-theoretical. We were not monogamous, but we weren’t actively seeing anyone else or seeking out additional partners. We flirted with a long-distance N-style relationship with a couple friends of ours at one point. Then Marla came along. We shifted into the triad and then to polyfidelitous together. Once that ended, and after our time apart, we have basically been in an open/non-monogamous relationship. We have played with/had sex with people, but we haven’t really been in any other relationships besides the one between us. This began to shift a few months ago.
At the end of September I met a couple of people at a weekend ritual workshop and began to date them. The concept of meeting someone or wanting to play with someone at the ritual was so out of my head that Onyx and I didn’t even have a conversation about the possibility beforehand. It was unexpected, sudden, and intense with both of them in completely different ways. Luckily, even though the ritual was in Portland, they both live in the Seattle area and so we have been able to continue seeing each other. More on them in other posts, though.
In light of those new relationships budding another friend and I started dating as well. She and I began talking about dating before my father died, but due to that happening it got postponed until recently. Due to extremely busy schedules and both of us having multiple partners we haven’t been able to spend too much time together, but we are working on it.
Onyx recently began dating another person as well. This is someone I am close with and knew before he did. I introduced them, which is amusing to me. It has been really lovely to watch the two of them beginning their relationship, especially since I have much love for both of them.
Historically in our relationship he has been much more open and relaxed about me seeing other people than I have about him seeing other people. He has also had more interest in the last year or two for other people than I have. For a while after the triad, once we got back together, we were primarily wanting to explore new relationships or play partners together rather than separately. I didn’t know why it was so daunting to me at the time, but there were many things going on with me and it was difficult to play with someone else with him. It has been really good to have this shift to poly happen with me finding multiple people to build relationships with after not feeling much interest for that. Having the experience of being the first one to venture into a new relationship has helped me be comfortable with his new relationship as well.
Our communication abilities are the best they’ve ever been (and I hope to continue to be able to say that as our relationship progresses), so we have been able to talk about any issues, jealousies, envies, or whatnot that come up. Because of this our experience with poly this time is much different than the last.
Each of us seeing already-poly people who have at least one (usually many more than one) other partner is really helpful as well. We aren’t exactly new to polyamory and non-monogamy, but neither Onyx or I had much positive experiences with it before now. Being in relationships with people who do have positive experiences with it, who can handle their shit, who have good communication skills, and who are seeing other people so they aren’t focused exclusively on one of us has been exceptionally good.
I currently only have express consent from one of the new people mentioned in this post to give them a name or talk about them in depth on here, so look for upcoming posts about him. More consent will be asked for, so eventually I will not have to only speak in generalities. For now, though, know that there will be more poly-focused posts in the future.
Just like everything else the needs of poly people can change quite often. Since Onyx and I got back together and I returned to Seattle we have had quite a few casual play experiences but neither of us have really been interested in another new relationship. I think at least partially this is because we were both so burned by the last one, but mostly because of the change in our dynamic and activities.
We’ve both gotten considerably more involved in the local occult community than we ever really have been before while we’ve been together. Our D/s-slash-O/p relationship is also far more solid and working. Also we both are working a lot and I’ve been taking a certification class recently. Add all this up together and it means we have just about enough time for each other, let alone someone else.
This is one of the drawbacks of being poly: even with a desire for another relationship there is a point when it comes down to how much time you feasibly have for a new relationship. Now, all of this isn’t to say that either of us would be against a new relationship should something develop organically (the only way we would want it to anyway), but neither of us is actively looking for another partner.
That being said I do still feel the pang of desire for being with a woman. I need a woman in my life with which to have an intimate relationship, that is just a fundamental truth at this point. I’m confident, however, that I will find someone when the time is right. There are just too many things that I am working on and that Onyx and I are working on together so there isn’t much room for anything else. I am very much still poly, as is Onyx, but that doesn’t mean we’re out there actively looking for new relationships.
This isn’t abnormal for poly people, in fact while in the midst of writing this post I came upon the term polysaturated1 which describes what I’m feeling quite perfectly, except I only currently have one partner but many many activities.
This all said, not looking for a relationship also does not exclude the possibility of casual and play partners, in my opinion. Something with friendship and emotions but without being “serious” would be ideal for me at this point in time. I would love the opportunity for purposefully casual play with friends as we’ve already explored a little.
This desire has definitely encouraged me to get looking around more at the local kink community, which I am already making plans to get more into. Not just to find causal play partners but to friend friends first and foremost. While there is definitely bleed over between the occult and the kinky scenes here in Seattle it’s also not a ready topic to be broached with a new acquaintance at occult social events.
Anyone who is already friends with me on FetLife may have noticed that I’ve been on there more lately and I’ve especially been looking at events in my area and tirelessly ticking “going to” or “might be going to” when I find one that interests me. Onyx has been doing much the same. We already signed up for a Delving Into Power workshop with Lee Harrington in February which we’re both very much looking toward. Plus the weekend intensive class I’m taking is over next weekend so we will have more opportunity to go to events than we have in the last two months.
I’ve been slowly pulling our focus toward kink as well as everything else that we’re doing, as I’m sure you may have noticed if you’ve been reading this blog at all the last couple months. Whether or not this happened because of starting the 30 Days of Kink or I started the 30 Days of Kink because my focus was already shifting to kink-related areas is a definite chicken and egg scenario. Regardless, it’s happening.
I’m really looking forward to getting into the community here, and I’m sure I will share as that journey moves along. Perhaps the ebb and flow of poly needs and desires will change once again through this exploration.
Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. If I had been on top of things this post would have come out then, but I’m a little bit behind on just about everything at this moment. I used this day to reflect on my identities. Here are some of my thoughts.
I’ve been out for quite a while. Unless this is your first time here and/or you haven’t read the about page yet you should already know that I have a long string of labels I like to use in order to describe my identities. I am a genderqueer fat femme drag queen fagette and pomo queer intellisexual polyamorous switch. I am also an occultist, sacred whore, astrologer, and all manner of other things. Specifically NCOD refers to coming out of the proverbial closet, or LGBT(QQIA) people coming out, so I focused on my identity string.
I’ve talked about this before, but the main reason why I use so many identity words strung together like I do is so that it is nearly impossible to pigeonhole me into one identity or another. Instead, it forces people to acknowledge the way the identities blend and interchange between them, and how my identities are fluid. At least, that’s my theory.
I don’t really have a story of coming out to my parents. I remember being a teenager telling my mother I was bisexual. Her response? “Oh. I thought you were a lesbian.” And that was it. During the triad with Marla I told both of my parents about her and our relationship configuration and they both responded without judgment, just asked practical questions about the situation.
Coming out, ultimately, is an ongoing process both for me and, really, for everyone. While there are people who fit into the stereotypical way that a certain identity or another looks there are just as many if not more people who are not so easy to categorize with a look. For those of us who are not blatantly obvious we have to come out over and over again, to just about everyone we choose. This is compounded by the fact that I present femme most of the time and have a cisgendered male partner so we are often mistaken for a straight couple even though neither of us is straight.
This isn’t to say I walk up to new people and give them the string of identity words I used above, but it does mean that there are times I have to come out, sometimes coming out multiple times to the same person.
It can be exhausting, but I appreciate the ability to live stealth as well, so I can be privy to those possibly bigoted conversations and attempt to put in my own two cents, and as a result maybe change some minds.
One thing that continues to amaze me is the ability someone has to be an inspiration for others simply by being themselves. By doing what is right and good for you others can be inspired to do the same for themselves, and I love this. Every time you come out is an act of courage. Feel free to come out in the comments.
New from Franklin Veaux who also brought us the Human Sexuality Map (which you can buy posters of, and I totally did) is the Map of Non-Monogamy which is, I believe, still a bit of a work-in-progress, but is fascinating and detailed. Sometimes the arrows are a bit difficult to follow.
I’m mildly bummed/surprised that there are no examples of the overlap of “BDSM Play & D/s Non-monogamy” with “Polyamorous relationships” in a similar manner to “This is my wife, her boyfriend, my boyfriend, and our girlfriend. Her husband will be joining us later.” But, of course, he can’t please everyone and there is already a ton of options up there and, no doubt, many more that aren’t represented. Like the Human Sexuality Map it’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty awesome.
Click the image above for a larger view.
On Sunday after the rest of our weekend fun Onyx and I walked to Babeland here in Seattle for a workshop by Tristan Taormino. She called it Poly 201, basically the next level of information after her book Opening Up.
She talked about what does and does not make poly/non-monogamy work and started with a T-chart listing only what doesn’t make poly work on one side which included: New Relationship Energy, Time Management, Miscommunication, Agreement Violation, Jealousy, and Change. She then proceeded to address each factor individually and give the tools and skills to use to combat each of the potential issues. The following is her information both from my notes and as I remember it.
What doesn’t make poly work and the tools we can use to combat each of those issues:
- New Relationship Energy: patience, compassion, communication
- Time Management: organization, (google) calendars, negotiation skills
- Miscommunication: honesty, full disclosure, self-awareness, communication
- Agreement Violation: checklists, commitment
- Jealousy: reality check, self-awareness, self-esteem, confidence, security, non-attachment, support/therapy
She stopped there to unpack jealousy a bit for us. Jealousy can be broken down into envy, competitiveness, possessiveness, excluded feelings, insecurity (fear of abandonment, not good enough, not valued, etc.), obsessiveness. Essentially “all roads lead to fear.” Jealousy isn’t about reason or using our intellect it’s about our reptilian brain overtaking us and it takes a fuckofalot to get us out of it. There is a lot of debate as to whether jealousy is innate or learned, but most likely it is some combination.
The following two situations can be both good or bad depending on the situation.
- Change: the tools needed to cope depends on what kind of change is occuring
- Love: compersion
Change can be welcome, or it can be difficult and unexpected. New love (and old love) can be a source of great happiness or something that catches us off guard. As Tristan said, there’s a reason why it is called “falling in love,” because most of the time you “fall on your face.” Or perhaps something came into your path that made you stumble and fall, not always in a good way.
When new love comes along specifically it can often trigger “old monogamous programming,” or the socialization that we all get in this culture to believe in monogamy. The best way to combat this is compersion. Compersion is finding joy and happiness in the happiness of your partner with another. It is the opposite of jealousy and a goal in most non-monogamous relationships.
Tristan offered “the selfish person’s guide to compersion” which essentially is for you (the selfish person) to remember that eventually the energy and excitement of the other relationship will come back and help to fuel your relationship. When a relationship is going well for someone they will feel good and that feeling good will bleed over into every relationship that person is in.
That’s the bare bones of what was covered. There was also a Q&A session at the end and after that we said hello to Tristan and got our copy of Opening Up signed. It was a wonderful workshop and was absolutely wonderful to see and meet Tristan Taormino. I highly encourage you to go to a workshop of hers if you ever have the chance!
Another sort-of call for submissions, but surveys this time. These don’t take very long so I highly encourage you to take one or both depending on which categories you fit within.
This first one was found via Tristan Taormino’s twitter:
“The survey is intended for people who are involved in a romantic relationship. We will ask you about your views of yourself, your relationship with your partners, and your sexual encounters with people other than your primary romantic partner.”
I found this request via Essin’ Em and wanted to share it. It’s for a book similar to “Our Bodies, Ourselves” titled “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.” There are basically three different surveys that you can take depending on the category you fit in, so it’s not just for trans people but also partners of trans people or parents of trans people.
I’m editing a book and would love your help finding transgender/genderqueer people, as well as their parents and partners for a survey. The answers will appear as quotes in the book, similarly to Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Want to be part of a resource guide for transgender and other gender-variant people?
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves features a line-up of wonderful transgender and genderqueer authors, and they’re looking for your help to make the book amazing.
Take the survey and your thoughts could appear in the book!
Go to http://www.transbodies.com/Survey.html for surveys designed for:
- Transgender/genderqueer people
- Parents of gender-variant children
- Partners of transgender/genderqueer people
Please forward widely.
YOUR VOICE is greatly appreciated!
Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, MA
Editor, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves
I had never broken up with someone before, but now I’ve essentially had to do it twice in the span of a week or so. I feel like I don’t have the right to mourn or be sad because I was the one who said it’s over. In reality I know that is nonsense, I have just as much right as anyone to be sad about the ending of the relationships I worked hard on and put so much energy into the past months to years, but it’s difficult not to feel like I should not feel the way I do.
My heart aches for both of them every day. I have dreams about them and talk about them all the time. While I seem to be able to maintain a friendship with Onyx the possibility of that with Marla is extremely unlikely, next to impossible at this point really. I’m still somewhat in shock from everything that has happened, still very numb, still haven’t processed everything, and still don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if I can stay here in Alaska or if I have another option at this point.
Their relationship wasn’t as deep as the ones I had with each of them. This is the longest Onyx and I have been away from each other in four years, and that alone would be enough to cripple me but that combined with being so far from Marla and knowing that I have and continue to hurt her just makes everything unbearable, to the point I have a hard time getting out of bed a lot of days. My motivation is shot and I’m just generally down.
While I was the one who called it quits, it wasn’t because I don’t want to be with either of them, if anything it’s because I want to be with both of them but had to make a choice. I love them both very much and will continue to love them, but the circumstances are such that I can’t be with either of them right now. I have high hopes for the future, and I feel like I survived one of the worst poly situations possible (not the only bad one, of course, and probably not the worst) so that’s something at least.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned from everything that has happened is I cannot be responsible for the emotions or emotional well being of others. It is something I have always done and probably will continue to do, but it is something I am working on. While this doesn’t mean I don’t care about the emotions of others or that I would stop empathizing or anything it does mean that I need to accept I cannot change their emotions or even help if they will not let me and that it is not responsibility to hold back my own feelings for the sake of someone elses (I’m still working on that last part).
I guess it’s self-explanatory to an extent, but for as long as I can remember I’ve taken on the responsibility of making sure everyone around me is happy, often to the detriment of my own happiness and well-being. I can’t say this will stop, but at least I’m going to be more aware of it. I also don’t think that wanting the people you love to be happy is a bad thing, but there is a point where it can be taken too far, especially if those around you are not willing or not wanting to change.
I am responsible, however, to my reactions to new relationship energy (NRE). I love NRE. I love the feeling of a new relationship, the excitement, the passion, the discovery, everything. This is dangerous, and something I want to go into more depth in another post, and I think this is the reason why we moved so quickly into everything.
It is easy for me to get caught up in a new relationship, I have discovered, and I also have a tendency to be a bit of a chameleon, changing myself to fit my partner’s desires without any conscious intent or effort on my part. This doesn’t work well when multiple partners with vastly different desires come into play.
So, I’m working on discovering myself outside of relationships, focusing on what I want and what I need both here and now and in the future. I have been so aimless since I graduated that I have lost sight of a lot of things, and it’s time to get that back.
I have abandonment issues. Though, really, doesn’t everyone to one extent or another? I think this is one of the biggest issues with poly for me, specifically moving from a V type relationship to a triad, I’m worried that my partners will find something they like in each other better than they like in me and cast me aside. I think this is a pretty common fear, and why a lot of triads don’t work out so well, though there are a lot of other factors as well of course, but this is a big one.
I know this is a fear both my partners have as well. For Onyx I’ve always maintained the fact that I’m more attracted and connect more with women than I do with men and so when Marla came in to the picture he was worried that this was just a way for me to leave him. When she moved here and things didn’t work out the way we all thought they would (and, sidenote, if you haven’t read his post on the subject I highly suggest doing so. I’ll be here when you get back, promise. No, really, go. I’ll wait. … Okay. Anyway.) that was triggered in him even more, because his relationship with me suffered greatly from that as well.
From things Marla has said to me I know she worries about this as well, especially being the one coming into the existing relationship she’s mentioned worrying that we will decide she’s not worth it, or that we don’t want her, or that she’s too much work and Onyx and I would rather be alone. I don’t and never have forseen any of these things happening, but that doesn’t mean the fear and insecurity isn’t there.
The thing I’ve come to, however, after these six or so weeks since Marla moved in with us, is that while there are ups and downs in the frequency of having sex being intimate with one of my partners just makes me want to be intimate with the other, it fills me with desire rather than taking away from the desire I have for the other. Call it greedyness, perhaps, or indecisiveness, or maybe just the way my poly brain works, but it’s true.
Despite having been with Onyx for much longer the two of them are linked in my head, and even though we three haven’t had sex together in a while that idea is still in my head as well, of course, and I look forward to the day we are all able to do that again. I even look forward to the day that they desire to be sexual with each other with or without me, knowing that my partners are happy together is going to be amazing. I’m sure I will still feel a twinge of uneasyness, but at the very least I’m anticipating my compersion.
I find it immensely interesting that my desire for one is linked with desire for the other. I don’t feel like they are not separate entities that I must divide my love between, but rather each enhances my love for the other, that they compliment each other rather than taking away.
I’m excited to reach this stage, even, and hope they will eventually be able to find the same thing in each other and me.