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the hubris of monogamy

[Polyamory] forces us to contend with the hubris of monogamy, [a] false arrogance about who we are in a relationship that never has to be tested or contended with at all [in our] monogamous relationship.

I cannot remember when or where I had this conversation with a friend of mine. Discussing, among other topics of note, why polyamory is so difficult. Which troubled me, because in my thinking, well, don’t we all have multiple relationships? Some of us my have -only- one romantic partner. But we’ve all got busy lives to manage. Why would a polyamorous life be any more difficult than, say, a person with a large family? Until I thought about it.

And I thought about all the posts and comments I see like this one. People who learn new things in polyamorous relationships. Could be coincidence, of course, or,

“Do people, in fact, learn something from polyamorous relationships that they do not learn in other forms of romantic relationships?”

I didn’t have an immediate answer.  But it got me thinking.  This popular guide to beginning polyamory says,

“Moving from monogamy to polyamory requires a complete overhaul of your communication tactics.” 

@PolyamorySchool

With that thought in mind, I recalled two friends from a few years back.  We went on a road trip together– and it turned out they hadn’t really ever spent that much time together (I didn’t know them very well, they were friends of a friend).  Well, the first time their relationship ever got tested, it fell apart.  During that trip.  Not exactly fun for the rest of us to be around. But it taught me a lesson: Don’t test a new relationship with a big trip.

I thought about other things. How many times, I ask myself, has a friend has blown me off when they started dating someone new?  How many of my friends have terrible relationships with their parents– who never did figure out how to keep a relationship with their spouse and nurture lasting relationships with one or more children and ended up with poor relationships with everyone? They aren’t bad people, but they don’t exactly have the best relationship practices.

You know, I don’t believe people learn something new in polyamorous relationships that they don’t learn in other forms of romantic relationships.

I think people learn things in the polyamorous community that they don’t learn from any relationship at all.

Like this common story.

Joe returns home after a long time away.  His schedule has been busy, far busier than his wife’s.  Yet, when she picks him up, it’s only to inform him that she has a date planned with her new boyfriend and she’s dropping him off at home. Joe is upset and thinking maybe they should just go back to a monogamous life.

Poly couple new to poly; one of the original couple wants time with their -first- partner; partner ends up spending that time with new partner. Yeah, I’ve heard this before.

Your average person in the poly community has heard “Communicate. Tell your partner your needs.” But has everyone?

Something tells me Joe hasn’t. And I feel bad for him. Joe is none too pleased at realizing he cannot spend intimate time with his wife.  That she has chosen to wait until he is available to schedule time with this other guy.  Despite having ample opportunity to see the new guy while Joe was busy and she was not.  And I can’t blame him at all for those feelings. But I also can’t help feel like this was preventable.

Obviously, this is a problem. Because this is clearly something that Joe wants. For his wife to be there for him, excited for him, when he comes home. That isn’t such an unreasonable thing to want. But he’s never asked. It’s possible that Joe has had this complaint before… 

…but he never said anything.

And why not? Why hasn’t this ever come up in, what, ten years of marriage, maybe fifteen, twenty?

Because, from the wife’s perspective, it easily looks like he’s just jealous and trying to keep her from spending time with the boyfriend. When I’d like to give Joe the benefit of the doubt and assume that isn’t his intention at all- he simply had never voiced his needs before this situation occurred. Never said, “Hey, honey, I really want that evening with you.” Instead, he probably always assumed she’d be home for him– because before she always was. Why wouldn’t he think that would just continue? Well…

Have they, in fact, ever sat down and asked each other, “Hey, what are your expectations in this relationship? What could I do for you that would make you feel more loved? Am I reading your love languages correctly?” Heck, watch a romantic comedy together and ask the other, “What about this would you like to be how we work as a couple? Would you like a spontaneous trip to Hawaii? Or do you actually hate the sand and surprises and would prefer us to plan something together?” I don’t know, but she sure doesn’t seem to know Joe wanted that evening with her before the night of.

Why don’t we teach couples, or people for that matter, that learning communication is important?

Why does it feel like we only teach that in polyamorous relationships? Why do we wait until then? Literally the first thing I hear experienced poly folk say to people new to poly is, “Communicate with your partner!” Which is great– but maybe we should be saying this earlier?

We teach small children to not share their information online with strangers. But we don’t -consistently- teach them that it’s okay to say they don’t want to hug someone who asks for one. We don’t -consistently- teach women it’s okay to say no. Or that men should express feelings. In fact, we rather teach the opposite. That you should repress how you feel for the sake of making others feel comfortable.

And then we wonder why people don’t ask for what they want in their romantic relationships?

I’m not sure entering a second romantic relationship is the best time to learn how to communicate in romantic relationships. But where else is it going to happen?

Still, that’s not good enough. I believe we ought to try harder, not simply once one becomes polyamorous/in a polyamorous relationship. But in all our relationships, platonic, familial, as well as romantic. And definitely with our romantic partner who happens to be our only romantic partner.

It doesn’t matter if you never meet a second love, or if your partner never falls for anyone but you.

But, I’m not polyamorus, you say. This doesn’t apply to me. And maybe it’s true. Maybe you never have a second love. Nor even a second attraction or flirtation or any of it. What does that matter? Shouldn’t you be as happy as possible, even if “only” ever have one love? 

Cause it turns out you needed those skills all along, not simply in polyamory. Because romantic skills are life skills.  Cause your best friend felt pretty neglected when you finally found that really amazing guy that made your heart flutter— and you didn’t have the skills, then, to throw yourself into this new relationship, while still fulfilling your original commitment to said best friend.

Because if Joe had an understanding with his wife that he wanted to spend more time with her when he returned from a work trip, she -might- not have scheduled time with her other partner. She would know that he wanted that time with her, in and of herself. Because, second partner or no, eventually he’d have resented that she blew him off during this special time (for him). Or felt she just did it, because she had nothing else to do. Because maybe he does express his needs, and she ignores them, but at least he’d have the ability to decide what he wanted to do about it. Instead of sitting around and waiting.

Relationships matter. People matter. Romantic or not.

I think we need to stop telling people that they need special relationship skills to be in a polyamorous relationship, or that they’ll learn them after exploring polyamory. I can tell you right now that I don’t have any special romantic skills that I would feel I could do without if I were with my one and only romantic other.

I don’t have any skills that enhance my poly relationships that don’t also benefit my other relationships. And I don’t have any skills- in which I’m currently having a little trouble with– that aren’t negatively impacting my non romantic relationships just as much as my romantic ones.

We need to learn how to treat our loved ones well and do it in a way that works for ourselves, regardless of how many romances we happen to be juggling.

We need to do better.  Because we owe it to ourselves.


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why i stay polite to strangers

  1. who does it hurt?
  2. it makes me feel better to not drop to the level of the person being nasty to me
  3. i don’t see hierarchy in people, not in that way.  If I treat my life partners and best friends with respect (and sometimes I fail, but I try my best), than I should be the same to someone I don’t even know.
Look, everyone can do as they will. 

I won’t tell them they can’t do something, but I refuse to be bullied into responding to every Jack and Harry that sends me an insulting message on Fetlife.  

It’s not my job to do that, and I have plenty of other responsibilities to my businesses, friends, family, munchkins.  I basically have twenty three dependents at this point— and only one full-time responsible parent managing it all alongside me— and it will only get worse in the future.  I can’t raise total strangers to have good manners.  

“But if someone is rude to you, shouldn’t you be rude back?”

Why do I need to talk to them at all?  I don’t understand this idea that we need to address every single instance of incivility.  It feels like a waste of time.  It IS a waste of time.  I can move on and save my energy for helping someone who is doing their own little bit of good in this world.  Support them, acknowledge them, contribute to them.

Spend an extra hour that day writing, rather than tediously responding to idiot messages on social media and educating them on how to properly reach out to a woman for a first message.  

Moreover, it only makes you look bad. 

Every time I see some guy disrespecting his partner’s kids father as not their real dad, implying they are just some sperm donor, I feel a twinge of disgust TOWARDS THE PERSON SAYING IT.  Regardless of the validity of the statement. The kids’ mother may be, well, I won’t say here. But she does deserve a minimum of respect, if for no other reason than I have too much respect of herself than to treat her any other way.  I don’t want to be brought down to her level. Let their actions speak for themselves.

I will not automatically give validation and I will criticize when I feel it’s warranted, but I never resort to name calling and petty insults.  Because I want to be better than that.  Because I want to be treated better than that.  If I need to fall to that point, there is always the block function.  Block, delete, ignore. 

It is not rude to not engage. 

Sometimes I feel that annoyance that makes me want to say something, take a deep breath— and don’t do anything at all. Yeah, I have vents with friends, even with my friends at large on Fet, Kik, and other semi anonymous communities.  I say things within those safe places that I won’t necessarily say elsewhere.  

Sure, I can be judgmental as fuck. But I am unfailingly polite.

…because nothing pisses off the people who hate you than your smiling face offering kind words 🙂
Credit to https://www.pexels.com/@tookapic

dear kitty: my son might be seen in public with people that aren’t his spouse! help!

DEAR ABBY: I am extremely upset. My son got married a year ago. We were very happy and have welcomed his wife into our family. He met us for lunch yesterday and announced that he and his wife have a polyamorous relationship. They will stay married, but both of them will date and have long-term relationships with other people.

My husband and I are in shock. We have been married for more than 30 years and have always been faithful to each other. We thought we had set a good example. They are asking to be able to bring other boyfriends and girlfriends to our family events. I’m heartsick at the thought of watching them be affectionate with other partners. My granddaughter was a flower girl at their wedding. How do we explain this to her? I love my son, but does a relationship with him mean I have to abandon the values I have always felt were important to uphold? Right now he isn’t speaking to me because he thinks I was not supportive enough when he told me. I feel like I’m being forced to accept this new lifestyle or not see my son. How should I handle this? —

DUMBFOUNDED IN DALLAS

[Click Here to See Abby’s response]

DEAR DUMBFOUNDED:

Well, let me first off say that you are not alone.  Public displays of affection (PDA) are gross.  Why would you bring that out of the bedroom?  But, don’t worry, it’s not too late!

Perhaps you have failed slightly in your upbringing of your son.  That is okay.  We’re none of us perfect.  First things, first.  No banging at family events.  Seriously.  How have you not already informed your son of this basic rule?  Yes, a lot of vanilla, monogamous folk condone public sex at family gatherings, and it follows that polyamorous folk would probably start a public orgy.  But YOU need to stand up for YOUR values.  

As for the values you are abandoning, don’t!  Stay true to yourself.  I don’t know what yours are, but I do know many values of polyamorous folk.  They believe in commitment, love, communication, healthy boundaries, and all sorts of relationships, including friendship. That kind of long term commitment is nasuating and unnatural.  Also, you shouldn’t emotionally invest in anyone not your spouse.  That’s what boarding school and nursing maids are for, to prevent any emotional attachment to one’s offspring.  This modern idea that mothers and fathers should spend quality time with their children is ridiculous and abandons traditional morality.

Still, that doesn’t mean your son should never see other women, in the right context.  Men, especially, need to spread their seed.  Quietly take him aside and tell him to sleep with other women on the side (no falling in love! use these women for what they’re worth, only!), like any normal man.  His wife needn’t know about any of this.

Yeah, that sounds like solid advice.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe…your son might have something to teach you.  A new way of living.  It might be scary to change, but I am guessing your son is actually an amazing guy that you’ve raised well.  He may have a lot to teach YOU.  As may his girlfriends.  If you’re open to it, grab a coffee with one of them.  Who knows?  You might find yourself liking the people he surrounded himself with, after all.  Trust me, they won’t bite you.  Unless you ask respectfully.

Yours sincerely,

Kitty

(Not A Therapist)

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my kinky life is great….but….

“Hello, my name is Kitten and I like mental domination. Yourself?”

When I’m at a munch, or a friend’s party, I’m not subtle about my kinks– even to perfect strangers. If you can’t talk to me about everything, I don’t want to talk to you about anything. Because that desire to find out about each other is what drew us to this munch or this club or a mutual acquaintance’s home.

The problem is, I’m often in a non kinky setting. And I can’t exactly talk about my preferences. So I try to talk about “safe” stuff. It’s not too hard. I’ll try to talk about whatever it is we have in common. And most of my life isn’t that kinky, anyway, nor can I only speak on one subject.

But that means I can’t talk about a lot of me. My vanilla friends don’t want to hear about my “personal life,” or I can’t trust that they want to do so. Because I hear what people say and I think, If they knew I had a girlfriend and a partner, they might be uncomfortable. I don’t wish to upset anyone. I’m okay staying within another person’s comfort.

It’s not a big deal, and I can certainly handle not showing off my lifestyle, or posting pictures on Facebook of my triad (frankly, I’m not impressed when anyone posts sappy posts of their relationship, especially when I know what the relationship is like behind closed doors).  But it would be pleasant if I could mention them once in a while.

“Oh, I wasn’t up to much this weekend. A friend’s birthday party.”

Because I know that the birthday girl sometimes gets birthday spanks– but does she usually get them with a flogger, sprawled naked on the bed? Can’t mention the girls tied up on the bedposts or from the ceiling. The naked dancing. The fire play, and how my girlfriend tried it—in public!— for the first time. How proud I was of her.  Maybe they’ll understand.  Maybe they’ll drop me altogether.  It’s never an exact science.

I don’t care that much. Truly. It would, however, be oh, so, wonderfully nice if I didn’t have to be careful in what say and to whom I say it. That’s my tiny, annoying problem to deal with.

It would just be a little sweeter, if…I could tell them about the rest of me.

Everything else about the kinky lifestyle is great!