Valentine's Poly: "Gimme More"
In Toronto's Xtra ("where queers conspire"), Christina Starr writes a long, personal article with interviews about queer poly life in the city, a photo of his/her own triad whooping it up on the pillows, lists of poly books and local resources, a one-page list of Poly 101 tips suitable for pinning on a bulletin board and warnings from people who experienced the darker side.
By Christina Starr [Feb. 12, 2009]
Long before The Ethical Slut was even a twinkle in its authors’ eyes, I experienced my first temptation toward multiple sexual relationships.
I was sitting in the car of a handsome, playful guy I really wanted to do. But I already had a boyfriend, a serious one, who happened to be working overseas at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him or didn’t want to be his girlfriend, but I also wanted to explore my desire for the guy sitting only a slim gearshift away from me.
He wanted to play too but was conflicted by my being “someone else’s girlfriend.” The phrase triggered an instinctual protest in me.
As a pretty green sexual being with almost no political analysis and certainly very little relationship experience, it nevertheless felt hugely unfair that I should “belong” to someone else and consequently have my sexual activity curtailed, especially at a time in life when every single hormone has its own personal megaphone....
In the queer community I’ve found many people... interested in exploring alternatives to the-one-and-only, happy-ever-after model. “People who practice nonmonogamy... don’t limit themselves to sharing affection, flirting, sex, connection, romance and love with just one person,” writes Tristan Taormino in her new book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. “They believe strongly that you can have all these things with multiple people and do it in an ethical, responsible way.”
Taormino’s guide is a timely investigation into the nature of polyamorous relationships, a decade of trial and error beyond the groundbreaking The Ethical Slut....
...Polyamory [can] be a conscious, deliberate way to involve more people in your life, broaden your support network or create a larger family. These may be honourable pursuits, but unfortunately for those interested in realizing them monogamy still has a stranglehold on acceptable relationship practices in our culture. Many who try to live outside of that model tend to make it up as they go along, with inevitably mixed results.
“I’ve always lived nonmonogamously,” says Tania Szablowski, a mid-life trannybutch in a long-term committed relationship that includes parenting a three-year-old boy, “but until recently it’s rarely been well-negotiated.”
I could say the same thing....
“It can be a question of ideals versus the real world,” says Szablowski. “What you ideally want your relationships to be will look different in the real world. It’s important to be responsive and kind.”
...“Every time I’ve tried it it’s been a total fucking disaster,” admits Desiree, a confirmed monogamist. “Personally I’ve experienced some people’s nonmonogamy to be mostly about keeping an emotional distance, not getting too involved with one person.”
Marc shares a similar sentiment. “After many years of being nonmonogamous and promiscuous, both in and out of committed relationships, I found I couldn’t maintain emotional intimacy with any one person for any length of time. I didn’t know what love was anymore or how to keep it.”
Certainly for polyamory to work it has to be not only something you want, but something that’s negotiated well by all parties....
Read the whole article.
From the Poly 101 sidebar:
Communicate. That means not just talking well about yourself but listening well to your lover(s).
Know yourself. Know your triggers and vulnerabilities so that you can recognize them yourself and communicate them to your partner(s).
Take responsibility. Own your triggers and vulnerabilities and work to take responsibility for them....
Trust. Some poly people feel secure because they know their partner is there because they want to be, not because they have to. Trust that your partner(s) want to be with you, even when they're with someone else.
Make a contract. Whether you frame it in the front hall or put it in your sock drawer making a contract helps clarify desires and limits. It avoids assuming anybody knows what's okay and what's not....
Renegotiate. Relationships and people change. What worked last week or last year might be different now. Relationships can also flow from poly to monogamous and back again, depending what's needed.
Go slowly. If you're new to multiple relationships, don't do everything at once. It's also better to negotiate what it would look like before you're undoing your pants.
Join a group. Poly groups exist, online and in person, and can be a helpful source of support.
Meet your lovers' lovers. Meeting someone helps make them human and less threatening. It also helps to establish trust between you
Practice safer sex. When playing with multiple partners safer sex is a must. At risk is more than yourself and you may be playing with more people than you realize.
Have fun. New desire has a way of spreading itself around. Bring your happy hormones back to your existing relationship(s).