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no, i don’t need to share my Google calender, tyvm

I’m a fresh faced Kitten, with newly opened eyes, emerging into the poly community (my first alternative community). Well, these people know what they’re talking about! First time I’ve heard anyone have any common sense when it comes to romance (and, no, their common sense does not force you to have even one romantic partner, let alone multiple.)

First step (after Communication)? Get a shared calendar! A shared calendar is key to the success of any poly relationship. So, good, diligent little me, I made a “Polyship Calendar.”  I figured I didn’t need it, since all my relationships at the time were quite casual- some barely qualifying as “relationship”- but why not get off to the right start? I think I shared it with my now primary partner, because he was into that kind of organizational thing.

But then we never used it, plus I noticed a couple of things:

  1. On the (heavily newbie populated) poly groups, I see a near constant suggestion that the ONLY way to make a polyamorous life work is “Share your Google calendars!”
  2. Those people, coincidentally, I’m sure, also mention how their lives are incredibly stressful.

Google calendars ARE absurdly useful, after all.  (Does this count as product placement?  whatever, you may as well know Google owns a quarter of my soul).  I use it every day.  

I need it, too, because my calendar usually looks like this:

Because of THIS:

  • A live in, primary 24/7 M/s relationship
  • A girlfriend I see between once a week and a little more than that (sometimes it’ll be three weeks between dates, sometimes we can squeeze a few in that week)
  • A playmate/friend I see once or twice a month (more often on a good month!)
  • Local best friends
  • Long distance best friends
  • A family member with health issues (that required me to travel and spend time with them for about a week a month for a couple months)
  • Three minor semi-dependents (they aren’t technically my dependents, but tell me that when I can’t go to the bathroom for five minutes, without little hands banging down the door demanding “what I am doing in there?”)
  • Kik friends that I text with on a regular basis
  • A lost love of mine, a comet in a foreign country with whom I shared one perfect weekend that I’ve managed to keep in my life for 5+ year (she calls me “cherie,” swoons)

If I didn’t keep track with my Google calendar EVERY DAY, I would be lost.  

My chosen family say I’m always doing something. It might not work out. I may have no clue why I’m doing it. But I’m always doing SOMETHING. But you know what I’ve never done?  Shared that calendar.  Nor have my partners ever shared theirs with me.

You see, dear friend, what makes a shared calendar USEFUL is making sure it is ACCURATE.  You know what I never have time for?  UPDATING the stupid thing.  You know what my friends never have time for between making sure their boss doesn’t fire them and they take care of family obligations and they don’t kill their coworkers or roommates and also maybe having a night or two for actual playtime and date nights? UPDATING A CALENDAR.

Having a shared calendar would actually make us all MORE stressed, and that stress would inevitably trickle down to us all needing extra care and support (which doesn’t help anyone).

Plus, nobody ever looks at it.  So just about zero motivation to remember one more thing in my life.

Nobody uses a tool when they don’t have to— having a business has taught me this in spades.  And I’m never going to convert all my partners and friends to this whole Shared Google Calendar system. I don’t know who that system actually works for, although it must work for many.

So here’s my modest proposal for those it DOESN’T work for:

Communicate.  

Yeah, that communication thing poly folk are talking about?  That’s actually useful.  

I talk with my partner and girlfriend every day (sometimes a day off here and there, especially when I’m with family or at a multi-day play party).  I talk with my play partner nearly every day (and I’m pretty sure my partner talks with her daily).  I talk to my friends regularly during the week.  Sometimes I’ve let friendships slide, but I pick it back up, with confidence, and it’s just as strong as ever.  Because those kinds of friends are okay with losing touch for a while, as long as you put in the effort when you can.  And it’s like you never lost touch at all…

Since we talk every day, I generally know what everyone is up to that week.  We exchange opportunities (“Hey, I’m thinking about going to XYZ, want to go with me?” or “So, I’m free this Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night.  Which works for you?”) I schedule based on 1) How difficult it is to find time to get together and 2) Time the person needs/wants from me.  So first I schedule with girlfriend, then playmate, than friends I haven’t seen recently (certain friends and family members I have set nights/times to hang out, my partners know about these and work around it).  If it’s been more than a couple months, I make extra effort to do something special together. 

Sometimes this might mean we can’t make it together for a few days, or even a few weeks. But I’ll understand. I don’t need to know every detail of your life; although if you move to New Zealand, I might be thrown for a minute or two.

Yes, I suppose it’s not any easier than a calendar.

But I actually enjoy talking to my partners. If I didn’t like that, why am I even with them? Conversely, updating yet another organizational app ranks fairly low (I still love you all, but yeah, in this case it’s a low bar to compare).

I balance, too, between social time, group time, and one on one time.  Usually that means alternating.  This week, I have one on one time with girlfriend.  This week, we go out out favorite munch together, and maybe she and I go off and have a random dance party on the beach together.  Yay for impromptu date “nights” together! 

I also keep semi regular schedule for my own sanity.  My friends know the two weekends each month that are usually reserved for family.  They know what munches I’ll be at— and approximately what time I’ll be there.  They know I’ll get ice cream at the one munch.  They know I’m free in the evenings, and that I’m good for a breakfast or lunch once or twice a month.  They know which days are best for me.  They know where is best to meet up.  

My live in, 24/7 relationship?  We find whatever free night we have— and we plan something, sometimes as last minute as right as we walk out the door.  We don’t care, we just want to enjoy some work free time together.  

Of course it IS a lot. And I can’t always do everything.

This DOES mean if you want my time, you need to put in quite a lot of effort.  If it’s me reaching out to you 90% of the time, I’m going to eventually let the relationship drop. Because my close relationships are willing to put in the effort and more– and I have no need to settle for less.

Oh, and it helps that I keep most of my relationships local; I explain to new friends that I really cannot have much of a relationship with them if they live further away; I even live next door to two of my best friends/gaming buddies.  Yeah, logistics isn’t sexy, but damn if it doesn’t make it easier to schedule.

It also helps that we’re all accommodating with Life Stuff.

If plans need to be altered or moved (or very rarely canceled), we’re all okay with it. Because sometimes Life Stuff is more important.

If this STILL seems selfish, rigid, or cold, mind you, it also keeps me and my partners sane. I also try to make sure I give as much as I get.  I know their “hard limits” when it comes to what time I can ask for them, usually based around their work schedules, and I do my best to not make demands on them during those times. I try to make sure I listen to their needs and treat them by the Platinum Rule.

…although texting has gotten a bit unwieldy lately. I might use a Slack channel for better communication….or should I make a new Discord server…do I still have Ventrilo….maybe I could switch switch my one friend over from our regular Gchat sessions…what does she have?

Yeah, maybe I have too many forms of communication.

…what works for you?

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art of the followup question in relationships, the

“What are you into?”

Someone- several someones– on Fet got mad. They said the question was trite, boring.  ‘What was the best part about your day?,” your mother would ask you at dinner, after you got home from school.  And secretly, you hated that question. And “What are you into?” starts to feel quite a lot like that inquiry.

Nobody likes this question, but it’s okay, you see, because

It’s not about THIS question.

It’s about the follow up questions.

Ever watch the news? The reporter asks Man #1 a question.  Man #1 glibly spouts off his talking point.  You can TELL it’s a talking point, because you’ve heard the same phrase from a dozen others.  The reporter then moves on to the next question— and you’re left with, “Um, what?  They didn’t answer the question, they just handed you a talking point!”  All you have to do is ask one single stupid follow up question and most talking points will break down.  Because they aren’t expecting ANOTHER question. 

There’s precious little follow up in journalism, which is a pity. 

It’s the same in relationships.  

Someone who is “good” at relationships asks these follow-ups.  Not all at once– you’re dating someone, not interrogating them.  Slowly, over time, more and more comes out.  You’re into rope?  Cool.  Now I know that you’re “98% rope bunny” mention on your profile is real.  Or, real-ish.  You recite a list of basic interests that more or less match up with your profile, too.  Great.  At least you just didn’t blow off the questions or forget to update your profile in ten years— and actually none of your fetishes, interests, hard limits, etc are accurate.  

So I keep probing (so to speak).  I find out the subtleties of how the rope feels on your skin.  The feeling of safety or comfort— or perhaps it thrills you to feel scared and vulnerable?  

Obviously there is much, much more to you than a simple listing of interests.  But I am into my things, as you are into yours.  If I start spending time with you on assumption that you are into the things you say on your profile— without even ASKING you about it— I may end up sorely disappointed.

I mean, when was the last time YOU updated your profile?  Is it accurate?  As I write this, I honestly don’t even know what I said I’m into.  It’s probably right.  It might not be.  

So ask me what I’m into, please.  It’s as good a starting point as any.

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**PRIDE** coming out is something I do every day— but not for every one

I read a post on how coming out is something one does every day. 

It’s true.  I have been “coming out,” since, oh, I turned twelve.  Sometimes in small, often unseen, ways.  The first time I can remember is when I awkwardly tried to tell my P.E. teacher that I wanted to change in private.  Away from the other girls.  I didn’t want to change in front of them, but I didn’t know it was because I found them attractive.  I just felt wrong doing so, without their explicit permission to see their bodies. 

Other times I came out more formally.  I remember coming out to my family.  I had already confided in my oldest brother.  He held my hand under the table and squeezed it, as I explained that I liked women as well as men.  That I wanted to date women, too.

I appreciated the article.  But I want to add something to it:

Coming out is something I do every DAY, but I don’t do it for every ONE.  

When I read the story, it appeared that the person came out, as if on a journey, slowly making their way from one person to the next.  Which may have been how it worked for them.  My way of coming out is a little different (or perhaps not, and I misinterpreted.)

I, too, come out piecemeal.  I, too, have no way of broadcasting my sexuality and relationship styles in one fell stroke.  Nor would I if I could.  I am not interested, nor have I ever been, in broadcasting my public life to the world.

But I don’t just do it systematically to anyone who crosses my path.   Nor do I come out the same way to everyone. 

You see, it depends on the person.

To my close family, I come out with certain parts of my personality.  I tell them about my romantic life, but I do not come out about my kinky side.  

To my kinky friends, I come out about all of my basics (I am kinky, poly, etc) but I don’t necessarily delve into the intimate details that more fully explain what these various labels mean.

I tell my semi close friends about my personal life in broad strokes, explaining how I don’t rank romantic relationships over platonic.  Or how I really just see everyone in my life as a friend, even if we’re dating.  Or how I don’t value jealousy, but see it as a sign that something is actually WRONG in a relationship.  A sign that I need to talk to that person to figure out the issue, instead of avoiding it until the relationship explodes in a fiery death.  It’s almost as if, to those I trust less, that I drop hints and clues of my true nature. 

I come out ever so quietly, ever so carefully.

Because sometimes it seems like people feel they are owed that “coming out,” simply because I’ve reached the point where I am ready to tell people. 

I FEEL that I have to tell EVERYONE about the piece of myself I am revealing, such as announcing my sexuality.  That my coming out is solely about me, not about the people I meet.  Therefore, if I come out about my queerness, I must make it KNOWN.  Not selectively, but wholesale.  Or else I’m deceptive, lying.

I believe I have already come out, and I am continuing to come out.  On my own terms.  In a way that protects me first.  That makes me feel safe.  I think that is good enough.

I don’t wish to feel guilty about the legitimacy of my “coming out,” or if I came out the ‘right’ way. Or if it counts at all, because everyone doesn’t know.

I am constantly filtering people in my mind into these various categories.  Not everyone qualifies to learn everything about me.  I selectively determine who knows what— based on trust level, professional relations, degree of emotional or physical intimacy, etc.  From there, I filter each unique relationship.  I come out slowly— or quickly if the connection feels right— to every individual. 

Our first meeting, I may come out about one part of myself that is culturally taboo (or I might spend six hours sharing every single detail we can squeeze in).  As the relationship develops, I figure out how much I want to share and at what pace.  (Yes, almost any relationship becomes more intimate over time, but I’m specifically referring to the parts of my personality that fall under “coming out.”) 

Do I tell them I’m polyamorous?  Kinky?  Submissive?  Ahh, but that is my decision to make.

I say this, not as an excuse to spout words, but to reassure you that you ought to come out in any way you please. 

There is no One Twue Way to do it.  Can’t tell everyone?  Would it help you if you told a counselor in private?  Would it make you feel more honest and free if you told your best friend? 

It isn’t a stepping stone to coming out, anything you say IS coming out.  It is something worth celebrating.  It is something that you should feel proud of— and, hey, maybe that person you come out to is YOURSELF.  That counts. 

Being able to be honest with yourself about your needs and wants?  That is a legitimate first step.  And if you want to stop there, do so.  This really is about the journey, not the destination.  

Come, grow with me. 

Come, expose a little piece of yourself to someone you trust.  If this is important to you, keep coming…out.

Over and over and over again. 

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sometimes it’s too late

Sometimes the words can’t be pulled back

Sometimes the words knife through 

Sometimes the poison has already seeped into the cut

                      Under the chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me 

Sometimes there is no happy ending

Sometimes the story simply fades

Sometimes the words feel good to say,

                    until the person walks away, saying 

“I have nothing more to say to you.” 

Sometimes it’s only words inflicted

Sometimes it’s said in anger that dissipates

                     “I’m only being honest.  I’m only saying how I feel.”

Sometimes it’s okay to speak hard words

Sometimes it’s necessary to have even one person 

                     to whom you can say absolutely anything.

Sometimes you have to forgive because

                      you’ll want to be forgiven for saying words you don’t mean

Sometimes, there is no going back.

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why I won’t stop listening to “both” sides

I’ve seen this a lot: Listening to both sides is wrong. You should shut up the abuser and only listen to the victim.

In cases of rape, this is usually obvious. In many instances of abuse, it is not.

How do you know that you haven’t silenced the victim, when you refuse to hear both sides? How do you know that you, with your enlightened senses, aren’t wrong?

I don’t know. In many cases, I don’t care enough to find out. I don’t owe every accused perpetrator a chance.

But I might. And it’s my right to do so.

Note: I put this in quotes, because sometimes there are far more than two sides.  I believe as many as possible should be listened to.

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communication is SO important

Me:  Communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship.

Also Me:  (yells across the room) I’m putting the thingy in the thingy.  Master:  Okay.

Moral of the story?  If your communication works, it works.  In other words,  no matter how silly or idiotic it feels, if you say something and the person understands what you meant, THAT is good communication.  If they don’t, then it’s not.

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why use a label?

“Listen to my tone, not my words.”

When I taught ESL (English as a Second Language), I can’t tell you how many times I said this phrase.  I realized, soon after arriving and teaching myself how to do this whole “teacher” thing, that the first thing I had to teach wasn’t grammar or vocabulary.  Many had quite a good knowledge of English, in fact.  No, I had to teach them something nobody else had taught them.  That language isn’t about using the right words or the correct grammar.  It’s about how well you communicate what you wish to mean to the person who hears it.

Labels are simply a form of language. The labels don’t matter. The words don’t matter. Not really.  They serve a base, useful purpose.  What matters is the beliefs, the person behind the label.  

People misuse labels and mislabel themselves- on purpose or accidentally- all the time. If I had a dime for every ‘straight’ girl I hooked up with that was genuinely into me and not faking it for a boyfriend, I’d have, well, I’d have a few dimes.  And I’d certainly rather date someone that I see is ‘polyminded,’ as I put it, than someone who is simply poly identified.

Language is about communication– and labels are language.

Sometimes she– the woman who found me interesting and whom I liked back– deliberately avoided the label “bisexual,” because of the creeps who would message her with unwanted solicitations.  (I’ve done that myself.)

Sometimes she simply didn’t know herself that well and had been raised to believe she was straight, while never questioning it or thinking about it for herself.

Sometimes she had misconceptions about the label (people have weird assumptions about every label).

Labels aren’t something you just pick up and put on like a piece of clothing- at least I don’t believe they should be.  If you try to force a label on yourself, I’ve found it doesn’t work very wel. Calling yourself “polyamorous” or “monogamous” or “kinky” doesn’t make you that way.  Why would it?  You still act the way you want to act, still are the person you were before the discovery of said label.  And, to be quite frank, it doesn’t much matter, because

Labels, truthfully, often aren’t about you.

I’ve seen countless folk asking about what a label means or which label they ‘should’ use. But that’s not asking the right question.  Or at least not a very useful one.  Because it’s not about them. It’s about their audience.

If I tell a person at a munch that I am polyamorous, at best, it might get us on the right path.  But they’ll still need to talk to me, and I with them, about what that means to me. Because not all polyamorous people are seeking the same ideals.  Sure, it’ll more or less communicate the idea that I am “romantic” with multiple people, or that I desire/am open to that outcome.  But there’s still so much room for misinterpretation if we don’t talk.

If I tell a stranger I am my partner’s kids’ friend, they won’t get it. If I call them my stepkids, it helps illustrate our actual relationship. But it won’t communicate fully what I want to express. So I use different words, different labels, dependent on the circumstances. That way, as closely as possible, my label communicates the desired meaning to the person in question.

I sometimes get mad because people don’t use dictionary definitions (and it’s something that I do sometimes struggle with), but at the end of the day, words mean different things to different people.  No dictionary definition will overrule one’s personal interpretation.

Finding the “right” label for you is a matter of trial and error.

Labels grow with you, adapt, change. It has to fit you naturally, like an aura. I also don’t expect anyone to be married to their labels. Just because you call yourself something today, doesn’t mean you aren’t wholly free to change at a moment’s notice.

Here’s some of the questions I’ve used to settle on the one that fits me best:

1) “Am I often uttering the phrase ‘well, but what I MEAN is…’ whenever the label comes up? I once saw a guy who labeled himself as “monogamous” with Sarah and “monogamous” with Jane. Now, in his mind, I guess that counts as monogamy. However, there are certain associations people make with monogamy. If you stray, it’s on YOU to make that clear. Not on THEM to read your minds. If you find yourself having to explain your label over and over…maybe it’s time for a new label. If you call yourself “asexual,” but really mean “I do want sex, just only with certain people,” you might find that “demisexual” is a better suited label. At least don’t be surprised when people who do desire sex don’t really push to have a relationship with you.

2) “Do I feel comfortable with the label?” Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with a certain label, it probably isn’t the right one for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. I didn’t feel wholly comfortable identifying as kinky for a while, but I couldn’t think of one better. Now I’ve grown into it. Even if I’m not Miss Super Kinky, I am kinky enough. Plus, it helps clear up the matter of what kind of relationship I want. If someone wants a a traditional, vanilla life, my calling myself ‘kinky’ helps them understand we’re not a great match. Or, if we do decide to date each other, at least I’ve made it clear that I may want some nontraditional fun in our intimate life.

3) “What does this label generally mean?” Some labels are far more defined than others. If you choose a label that already has a lot of solid assumptions, perhaps be careful using it in ways that are not commonly applied. If you aren’t sure what something means, ask around. Especially in communities that are based around that particular label (that doesn’t mean they are the ultimate experts, but it’ll give you a good idea of what MANY mean by using that word).

Anyway, hope that helps with the best use of a label, if you are keen to use ’em!  Also remember that it’s not about right or wrong, but about achieving your goals.  If the label “works” for  you, than it’s the right one.

Any other questions/thoughts/ideas on how to better use labels to further good communication?