emanix: (pink hair)
"Having needs doesn't make you needy. It makes you human. Just thought you should know."

A friend posted the above comment on Facebook today, and while I think I am fundamentally in agreement with the spirit of the statement, I am twitchy about the use of that particular word, 'needs', and have been for a long time. I do want to say that *wanting things* does not inherently make anyone a bad person, or needy, or whatever. To want is very definitely human. On the other hand, the word 'needs' as used to describe relationship requirements or even very important and urgent wants always gives me a little shudder because it is such a fuzzily defined term the way most people use it, and I have seen it very badly misused in the past.

Sure, everybody has needs. Food, water, shelter, basic medical care, y'know... the sorts of things that make us Not Die. But using the word 'needs' to mean 'minimum things I want in a relationship' or simply 'things I really really want right now' has always struck me as somewhat blackmailish, because it raises requirements within one particular relationship to the level of things that are non-negotiable for survival, which - and folks may certainly disagree with me here - in my opinion, they aren't. However much I might value my chosen family and the relationships I have built in and around that, the basic unit for survival is the individual, not the family, and definitely not the relationship.

Using the word 'needs' to describe any expectation or desire within a relationship seems to me to demand that a specific person (or sometimes in poly a small group of people) should meet those 'needs' whether they want to or not.

I strongly feel that romantic relationships are voluntary and therefore all aspects within those relationships should be voluntary as well (beyond the basic minimum level of respect that we should all have for our fellow human beings, of course). Not everybody has them, not everybody *should* have them. Ultimately where we are talking about the emotional aspect of a relationship, everyone is responsible for meeting their own needs or that aspect of the relationship is no longer voluntary and therefore, I would argue, neither is the relationship itself.

If I'm not able to satisfy what all of my partners *want* right now this minute, or vice versa... well, sometimes them's the breaks. We can't always expect our partners to 'perform' for us on every level. On the other hand, if I am not able to satisfy my partners minimum relationship requirements, or if they're not able to satisfy mine, logic says that we should dissolve the relationship. Whereas if the word 'needs' is used, the implication seems to be that if I am not able to satisfy my partners 'needs', I am a Bad Partner(TM) and should step up to the plate, whether doing so works for me or not.

I am probably extra sensitive to this because I had an abusive relationship in the past where my partners 'needs' were used as levers to demand more and more from me that I wasn't actually prepared to give, on the basis that *I* was a Bad and Abusive Partner(TM) if I didn't provide for them. How awful a person was I, to ignore things that were stated as NEEDS? Even if those needs effectively negated anything I might ever want out of that relationship myself, and even if those needs were things I would have stated as outside the remit of that relationship had the request been made in any other way. I was *needed*. To say no would have put me in the wrong, no matter what was being asked.

Everyone deserves to be able to ask for what they want in relationships, but every single person also deserves to set the terms of their own relationships, and not be hung out to dry if what they are able to provide is not the same as what the other person in that relationship wants, however those wants are stated.

I mean, how unreasonable would I be if I was to say "I need you not to use the word 'needs' ever again"...?

How do you folks feel about this question? Do you have different ways of defining the word 'need'? Do you love it, hate it, feel neutral about it? If you use it, what do you mean by it?
emanix: (emanix)


Polyamory is often defined as the practice of engaging in multiple romantic or sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.

I think that while that definition is a reasonable one, it doesn't convey the way that polyamory has, for me, opened up an entire new spectrum of potential relationships, of new ways to relate to other people.

Our 'monocentric' or monogamously oriented culture offers a fairly simple view of relationships. The path is laid out for us clearly by our friends, families and the media. We are expected to meet someone, fall in love, go on a few dates, move in together, settle down, get engaged, get married and live happily ever after. Some poly folks refer to this as the 'Relationship Escalator'. Once you are on the Relationship Escalator, a 'successful' relationship is defined as one that ends in marriage, and ideally children. According to this mythos, any relationship that falls outside this track is deemed a failure. For many polyamorous people, however, this is not the case. 'Success' in poly relationships is defined by the people in that relationship, and not necessarily by outside culture.

Just as the greeks had several different words for love, polyamorous people may find that they experience different kinds of relationship with different people. Certainly for some people, poly can offer opportunities for sexual exploration, but for others it can allow the building of close familial bonds, simply with more people. For yet others it can mean creating dispersed networks of long distance loves, and for some of us it means there is space for all of the above: Everything from occasional encounters and romantic but non-sexual friendships, all the way through to deeply committed live-in partnerships. The difference, for poly people, is that our relationship model doesn't tell us how to structure those relationships.

Some Different Styles of Polyamory



Some poly folks prefer to structure their relationships so that they still look very much like the Relationship Escalator model, only with more people in it. These people will still expect to meet someone new, fall in love, date for a period, and then consider adding that new partner to their existing household, before possibly making some sort of long term commitment or raising children together. In other words, it looks a lot like monogamy, only with more people. This is the version of polyamory most often seen in the media, since it is easier for those outside the community to understand and relate to, but it is far from the most common poly relationship structure.

More common in the polyamorous communities that I know is for poly people to form dynamic 'clusters', 'pods', 'polycules' or 'tribes' of interconnected singles, couples and smaller groups. Each relationship within that cluster may have different expectations. Some may be 'primary' style relationships with expectations about cohabiting, shared finances and child rearing (or as I sometimes call them 'Indoor Cat' relationships), some may be 'secondary' or 'satellite' relationships, or ('Outdoor Cats'), with romantic or sexual attachments but fewer shared commitments. Others may sit outside of those expectations entirely. Some poly people may share their living space with people who are not sexual partners, but who are still committed parts of their lives. Some folks may also choose to co-parent with people they are not romantically attached to, or with partners they are not cohabiting with, or pick and choose what aspects of a 'conventional' relationship structure they do and do not apply to each relationship.
Many polyamorous families with children are indistinguishable from the 'blended families' we are seeing more of in our society as a result of divorce (except usually less acrimonious!). Conversely, some monogamous divorced couples are nowadays choosing to build lifestyles that look remarkably similar to poly households, with ex spouses choosing to carry on house-sharing and co-parenting whilst dating other people. Labels, shmabels, eh!

Another, newer, phenomenon in the world of polyamory is the Solo Poly movement. Solo Poly people tend to live alone or cohabit with friends or roommates rather than with partners, and do so intentionally. Their relationships may be committed or not, sexual or not, romantic or not, independently of whether they are cohabiting with their partners. There is an excellent and more informative post about what Solo Poly is and is not here at http://solopoly.net/2014/12/05/what-is-solo-polyamory-my-take/

Where I personally stand is somewhere between those latter two styles of polyamory. Preferring something more akin to relationship anarchy to hierarchies, I like to let each of my relationships find its own level – looking for spaces to fit the people in my life rather than people to fill the preordained spaces. I tend towards the solo poly end of things philosophically. I prefer to keep my finances separate to those of my partners, to always have my own room and my own space. My relationships do not generally follow the Escalator model (several of the most important people in my life live in entirely different cities!). However I am not opposed to sharing living space with one or more partners, assuming we're compatible in that way, and I love the idea of one day building my own poly 'village' which I could share with lots of my partners and metamours. Experience has taught me that life rather often takes me in directions unexpected, however, so there is little I rule out, these days!

How Poly Can Make Different Kinds of Relationship Possible



For me personally, polyamory has made possible a number of relationships that simply could not have worked out in the world of monogamy, or at least with 'standard' relationship expectations.

Take my longest standing partner, for example: We're chalk and cheese in many ways. He is obsessively neat and ordered whereas I love my creative chaos, he loves to have the TV on all of the time whereas I find that it drives me nutty after only a short while, he wants to be interacting all of the time we're in the same building whereas I am more introverted and need to be left alone sometimes to work, or to think. He loves living in the city, whereas I'd rather be outside it these days. There are many ways, big and small, that we are not well suited to share space with each other, yet we have shared a deep, abiding and supportive love for the best part of a decade, have looked after each other financially, physically and most importantly emotionally. We have met each others' parents and colleagues and are firmly established as fixtures in each others' lives, but living together? The way I like to see it is that we love each other enough not to try to squeeze ourselves into that ill-fitting box.

Poly can also allow child-free people to maintain loving and supportive relationships with partners who want children, people with mismatched sex drives to stay in happy and fulfilling romantic relationships with partners they are otherwise perfectly suited with, and people in long distance relationships to find local companionship without harming their existing relationship. It certainly isn't a fix for every kind of relationship problem – far from it, but stepping outside the expectations of monogamy can make some things that would be 'deal-breakers' in a monogamous relationship much less of an issue.

I want to make it clear here that polyamory is NOT just about dating 'enough' people to make sure that all of your 'needs' are met. Known to some as 'Frankenpoly', the idea of adding all of one's partners together to create some sort of gestalt 'perfect poly partner' is flawed and somewhat objectifying. There are some important characteristics every relationship needs to have in order to be a functional and healthy relationship in itself, and the most important of these are compassion and a healthy respect for each other as human beings – not as 'needs fulfilment machines' as Tacit has often put it.

Polyamory has made it possible, too, for me and many other people to experience different sorts of relationships with people one might not normally be compatible with. Including, for me, an incredibly sweet ongoing connection with a young man who is otherwise only into men, and a cheerfully intimate friendship with a cheeky chap who tells me he is 'awful at relationships' mostly because of the nomadic nature of his work, but has been consistently lovely over 15 years of extremely intermittent occasional dates (I suppose I could call this man my longest standing partner but we have probably only spent a week together over that entire time, pleasant as it was).
Poly makes it possible to be a small-but-good thing in someone's life, and vice versa, without having to put any more expectations on that particular relationship. It has enabled me to play more relationships by ear, to 'see where things go', without feeling under pressure to find the one 'perfect' mate. With a rather beautiful irony, that has also allowed me to meet and develop strong relationships with people who turned out to be much larger features in my life than I expected them to be, whom I would have automatically discounted if I had been looking for a monogamous partnership, simply because I didn't believe we would turn out to be as compatible as we actually are.

Non-sexual Relationships and Poly



I want to add in a note here about asexuality and poly. It is an assumption often made by people outside of the polyamorous community – and even some people within our community - that poly is 'all about the sex'. The first page I came to when looking for a good definition of the word described polyamory as 'the practice of having multiple sexual relationships'. I personally would argue that the focus of polyamory, for myself and most of the folks that I know, is much more about the loving than about the sexual aspect of the relationship. Also while I do not in any way define myself as asexual, I have had (and still have) some incredibly satisfying romantic relationships that did not involve sex.
So I want to make it clear that yes, asexual people CAN have romantic relationships, which can also be poly relationships (although they don't have to be) – there is a lovely long 'manifesto' about asexuality and poly here by a blogger I just found when I was looking for references for this essay: https://transpolyasexual.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/my-ace-poly-manifesto/ - and polyamorous people can have romantic relationships that do not include sex. That too is another type of relationship that I firmly believe would not have been available to me if I had been monogamous, thanks to ideas about 'emotional infidelity'. As a sexual person, I could well have have had to choose between the deeper emotional connection on the one hand and a partner I could sleep with on the other. I am incredibly grateful that, thanks to poly, I do not have to make that choice.

I am clearly not the only poly person with a sexual orientation to appreciate the non-sexual opportunities my nonmonogamous relationship model allows me, as this post by The Ferrett shows too. http://www.theferrett.com/ferrettworks/2015/01/a-nice-thing-about-polyamory/

And last but most assuredly not least, there is another, more familial form of love I have found through poly: the love that I feel for my metamours, or my partners' partners. We may not have sexual chemistry (although the complexity of my network within the UK has before now resulted in the invention of the term 'lolomylo' or 'lover's lover who is also my lover'), but we invariably have more in common than just our mutual partner. We may not always agree on everything, but at the end of the day we are connected, by the community we are a part of, by ideology and by our love for our partners. Some of my metamours are also close friends, many of them are activists and, for me at least, being a part of my relationship network very often feels like being a member of a league of superheroes.

Much like this, in fact:



What About You?



In conclusion, being ethically non-monogamous has offered me and those close to me opportunities to build many different kinds of relationships and to tailor those relationships to suit our lives, our needs and our selves. Has poly opened up new kinds of love to you? If so, in what ways? Are there any kinds of love that I missed?

With love (of various sorts!),

Maxine.




[Edit 2015/03/06: Minor changes. Fixed a couple of typos and added in a couple of extra hyperlinks. Made headings more obvious.]

Thelping

Feb. 13th, 2012 10:17 pm
emanix: (Default)

Thelp

(verb)

To load with gin, innuendo, erotica or a combination thereof, an already potentially adventurous situation.

eg. "I was telling Minishka about all the fun we were going to have in explicit detail, and she said 'No thelping!'"

"she was about to leave as a threesome looked likely, so I handed her a gin to thelp"


https://twitter.com/#!/Emanix/status/169166681342623744


Spread the word! ;)
emanix: (Default)
I was introduced to the concept of the Self-Evident Epiphany by a friend of [livejournal.com profile] seinneann_ceoil over a large pot of tea one afternoon. The example she gave was the realisation, several weeks before, that on days when she went out wearing a sweater, she felt warmer. Astonishing!
I introduced her to another on the spot: that the phrase 'Self-Evident Epiphanies' not only has a poetic elegance to it, but also has the most perfectly apt abbreviation: SEE!

Every one of us put our heads to one side, and let out a sigh of delight at the beauty of this newly formed acronym. Ah, the sweetness that is the love of geeks for wordplay.

So the Self-Evident Epiphany, or SEE, is a thought, or a realisation that is perfectly obvious in hindsight, but somehow your brain had failed to register it until just now. A favourite one of mine, which despite its obviousness often fails to stick in my mind: if I keep my room tidy, I don't have to spend so much time Looking For Stuff. I realise this on a fairly regular basis, and it surprises me every time!

What Self-Evident Epiphanies have you had, or heard about?
emanix: (Default)
.

Emanix (noun, fem.): 1. one who emanates. An originator and creator of things. 2. One who puts out.
(The latter not 100% accurate, at least, not to just anybody, but I couldn't resist the pun!)

Polyamorist (n): one whose life is characterised by a set of complex overlapping calendars and scheduling conflicts and, to a lesser extent, multiple loving relationships. (from [livejournal.com profile] bminstrel link)

The latter seems particularly apt for me (apart from a general feeling that the word 'polyamorist' makes something that I feel is an innate part of my identity sound like a career choice - I prefer 'polyamorous person'). Back from a week in Thailand which I left for straight after helping out with Polyday, now recovering from jetlag and looking in despair at a to-do list that stretches on into infinity. Posts will happen though. When I can fit them in between my other scheduling conflicts, that is!

In the meantime, how would you define the meaning of your name or username, if it was up to you?
emanix: (Default)
I was walking down the road this afternoon and this idea just popped into my head. Wouldn't it be interesting to take one of the most traditional statements of faith in the christian church (which, being the faith that was vaguely foisted on me as a child, is the main religion that I push against, culturally-speaking) kick out the rubbish, and write what I really believe?

For those who aren't aware of it, this is the Nicene Creed

So here, with somewhat tortured language because of trying to fit it vaguely into the same pattern, is my set of beliefs about the world.


The Emanixine Creed:
(probably a first draft)

I believe in a reality external to myself, some of which is observable with my own senses, some of which is not.

I believe in myself as a conscious being, as a person, and in other conscious beings, other people. I believe that continued existence and pleasure in that existence is a good thing, and a valid goal to strive for. I believe that every conscious being has a right to that goal, and any others that do not conflict with my goal to exist in comfort.

I believe that there will be no judgement after life, but if we are to strive collectively to apply the right to exist in comfort to every conscious being, we must judge within ourselves and within our communities, and hold ourselves to the highest standards we are capable of. I believe that the highest glory is in the sharing of happiness and increasing of knowledge, as well as the peaceful coexistence of every conscious being.

I believe in empirical science, not as a fixed body of knowledge, but as a process through which to understand the world, and the external reality in which I exist.

I believe in the universe as the giver of life, which proceeds from the laws of physics as we know them. I acknowledge that my understanding of the world is incomplete, and hope for forgiveness of any misunderstandings. I look for the continuation of this life, and the world to come.



If you were to write a creed for yourself, how would yours read?
emanix: (Default)
(...because not all of my defining features are about sex)

Defining my Terms: Radical Agnostic - a part of my essay series talking about concepts that I find important to my life and way of thinking.

(This one will probably be edited repeatedly, though I'll try not to change the sense of it - if I do, I'll make it a new post)

I often refer to myself as a Radical Agnostic, but what does the phrase actually mean?

Agnostic, then - from the root 'a' meaning 'without' and 'gnostic' referring to knowledge. An agnostic person is a person who *does not know*. I'm not saying that there is a God, but nor am I saying there is not. What I am saying is that it's impossible to know, and that anyone who claims to know that there definitely is or isn't a God (or higher power in the universe of some sort) is, quite frankly, talking out of their backside. This brings me to the 'Radical' bit, which I pinched from Douglas Adams having heard him talk about being a Radical Atheist. Basically I add the 'Radical' to let people know that I really mean it.

Let me expand a bit...

I'm most certainly not a Christian, though I think he was a decent enough chap, for his day, and generally preached some sensible things. Be good to others, feed the needy, that sort of thing. For his day, he was pretty darned enlightened, and good on him. Son of God? I'm distinctly unconvinced. I'm afraid I find myself extremely unconvinced by the Old Testament too, for that matter. The whole idea of an all-powerful deity who 'loves' mankind (but only certain bits of it, depending on who you listen to) and wants us all to obey a rather arbitrary set of rules in order to hop up to the next level of enlightenment, computer game style... well, it all sounds rather far-fetched, to be honest. I'm not much impressed with the concept of most of the other god types out there either. I'm all for love, joy and world peace, but I find I'm incapable of believing in any omnipotent being that particularly gives a damn about the human race. It's just too unlikely.

And yet... I can't say for definite that there's nothing out there either. I have a vivid imagination, and can wot of quite a lot of things. For all we know perhaps we are the equivalent of some macroscopic computer game. Maybe there really is a god-like being up there that wants us to jump through these particular hoops because if he* can talk enough people into staying virgins until after marriage or whatever the particular religious oddity, then he'll score 1000 points and get to fight the big boss at the end of the level. I suspect it's not very likely, but I have no absolute proof that this isn't the case... and neither have you.

Science has limitations, and while it can tells us lots of things about the universe - what, when, where, how, which, who and so forth, it fails on a couple of important philosophical questions. One of which is 'why?' what's the point of it all? Science can't say much about that at all. Nor can science say much about what exactly put the universe here in the first place. Where did the big bang come from? What happened *before*? And religion - religion likes to say 'God came before' (occasionally with a slightly more complex backstory involving some being's entrails, and some other being's mischief, or someone giving birth to someone else, or whatever) but this only removes the same question by one more step - where did God come from? What came before God?

It's a question that I firmly believe is unanswerable, because every step further just leads to the same question again. Like the next digit of pi, like prime numbers, the question of what came before, or what comes next only leads to further study. Even if the universe is a loop, as some believe, it's no answer to how it came into being, or what will be afterwards.
My imagination loves the idea that someday there might be a unified God-plus-Universe theory that explains Everything, and somehow involves superstrings, the wiccan rede, and everything being inextricably interconnected, but I'm sure even if that happens there will still be the 'but where did *that* come from?' question.

So my 'religious certainty' is that we can't ever know, and rather than wasting time arguing about it, we may as well get used to living without the knowledge - perhaps even learn to appreciate the mystery. I'm also quite certain that it doesn't matter, because moral behaviour makes very rational sense, and I'll come back to that in a later post.




*Yeah, I know, male pronoun - in the context of giant godlike gamer geek I'm going to stick to the male stereotype, okay?
emanix: (restricted area)
Defining My Terms: 3. Kink* (a.k.a. BDSM)

The third in my series defining some terms that are important to me - these articles are not so much about explaining what these things mean to everybody, but what they mean to me in particular.

I find it interesting, that it was very easy for me to write about bisexuality, but quite hard to put kink into words. It's not that I'm ashamed - I love being a 'pervert', and I've spoken about it publically, for that matter. Putting a finger on what it means to me though, even when it's been a part of my sexuality for as long as I remember - that's tough! Since I find myself wanting to talk more about related things in my journal though, I think it's about time I laid the groundwork!

Cut as probably NSFW )


(*Note: While I'm aware that 'kink' includes things as well as BDSM, such as fetish, I tend to use the terms interchangeably - apologies to anyone offended by fuzzy semantics!)

(Note 2: I'm pleased that nobody's made this assumption, but just to be clear: just because I say I like this particular thing, does not mean I want to do it with everyone. Got that? Good. Now let's go back to having fun!)

I'm sure I've missed things out, so this essay is likely to be edited somewhat. Do feel free to ask (respectful) questions!
emanix: (Activist)
I'd love for everyone to read this and answer me a couple of questions afterwards:

What are your stereotypes, when you think of what an activist looks like?

Are you SAMOTURE?

Read more... )


Activism isn't just for a select few people at the 'top' of society, it's for everyone, and it's our responsibility to keep nibbling away at it until the world is how we want it.
emanix: (Default)

I've been meaning to post this for ages, and I've finally guilt tripped myself into it, having already announced that I'm organising Polyday this year (I'm sure I'll go into the story behind that at some point), without actually defining what poly means for me. This will no doubt be the first of many rambles, as poly is a large part of my life, and of what this blog is about, but it's a start!

For those in a hurry, I've marked a few sentences that I think sum up my important points in bold.

I'll state categorically now, that my views are not the same as all poly people, and I'm speaking for nobody but myself in this journal.

The wikipedia definition runs as follows:
Polyamory (from Greek πολυ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and free consent of everyone involved.

For me, being 'poly' is tied to my definition of what Love is. I believe that if you love someone, you want them to be happy, whether that means they are with you or without you - this applies both in the long-term, as in 'who would I like to spend the rest of my life with?' and the short, as in 'who would I like to spend this evening with?'. To me, loving someone means facilitating their happiness, or giving them space to create their own, in the best way you can.

If that sounds like a masochistic approach to relationships, it can be. In my early years of relating to people, this meant I gave a hell of a lot and expected little in return. However, having matured a bit since, and gained a lot more experience, the flip-side of this is that I now expect my partners - all of my partners - to feel the same way about me.
Obviously, what will make me happiest at any given moment is not always what will make my partner(s) happy. There is always a balance to be struck, and compromises to be made. Sometimes partnerships are just plain incompatible, and end up dissolving - but any two people who love each other in the way I defined above will care for and support each other even through break-ups.

There are still hard times: In the long-term sense, letting go of someone you're madly in love with but not well suited to is still damned hard, and in the short term so is spending an evening alone when you really don't want to, because it's better for someone else. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone else's happiness is nothing at all, and coming to terms with that can also be tough.

The bit that makes it worth it though: knowing that the person you're spending time with is there because they want to be with you, not because you've blackmailed them into it, or because they have nowhere better to be. That in itself is a heck of a boost in self-esteem.


Some observant folks may notice that the above segment doesn't actually refer to sexual interaction - and in that sense, could apply to monogamy just as easily as poly. I'd also like to point out that a lot of people talk about monogamy versus polyamory, as though there was a definite divide, and not a continuum – I'm guilty of this too sometimes (as I did just a minute ago), but in actuality monogamous relationships have different rules just as poly ones do, and the borders most certainly do overlap.

Perhaps it may surprise a few people coming from a poly activist such as myself, but I don't believe that poly is 'the best' or the only way to be. The way I prefer to see it is that everyone has a number of partners that they're happiest with, and have the time and energy for.

To me, 'fidelity' is about making sure you have enough time and energy for all the partners you're committed to. For some it's just one and that's fine, for others it may be half a dozen or more - just as some families have just one child, and others have many. For some people, who are 'married to their jobs' that may even be nobody. What I do see as wrong is trying to force someone else into being what they're not, whichever direction that goes in.
 

 

So where does the sex come in?

This is a huge simplification of my view, but it's a start: I don't see what makes sex different to any other activity that makes people happy. If a person I love wants to spend one evening playing tennis, and another having hot sweaty sex in a club with a few dozen strangers, or if they're happiest tucked away on the sofa watching a film with me, as long as they're being sensible and not endangering my health (and preferably not theirs either) I'm going to feel happiest knowing that he or she is enjoying life to the full - and I've worked on developing the communication skills to make sure I'm not losing out too. And for me, the thing that makes me happiest is freedom to choose.

The difference between poly and swinging to me is a preference, not a moral judgement. It's simply about how I am as a person. I don't make friends terribly easily. I put a lot into my relationships with people. I have platonic friendships that I consider to be on the same level as my love relationships, even when I haven't seen the person in question for a year or two at a time, and that makes sense to me. I would normally not consider sleeping with someone I didn't care about, not because I think it's a bad thing, but because I have no personal investment in making them feel happy. I also have no particular inhibitions about sleeping with friends, because ultimately I believe all of my friends care more about my happiness, and I about theirs, to let an orgasm or two get in the way of that.


Often after explaining all this, I still get asked why it is that I want to be sexual with more than one person - why I want to have more than one relationship at a time. My answer is a question: Why would anyone want to have dinner with more than one person? Or play tennis with more than one person? Or have a conversation with more than one person? The experiences are different – and an extra bonus is that there is always something new to learn from every new relationship – if you have parallel relationships, your existing partners benefit from this (believe me, I know!).

I keep my definition of fidelity in mind, which means that I do limit the number of people I see – because I have limited amounts of time, but if I was to cut out any one of the people I care about from my life, I'd be missing out on the unique things they each bring to my life, and bed, and ultimately I don't believe a single person would be happier for it.

Feel free to ask me questions on this, or point out errors. I am happy to receive direct messages, and will do my best to respond.

 

- Maxine.

 


A few polyamory links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory
http://www.polyday.org.uk
http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html (Polyamory, What, like, two girlfriends?)
http://www.xeromag.com/fvpolyrefrigerator.html
http://www.polyamory.org.uk

 


emanix: (emanix)
This will be the start in a short journal series defining the terms that are important to me. This one comes first, mainly because it was the first one I became aware of in myself. Also coincidentally a thread on the UK Poly mailing list today discussing bisexuality and its representation in the media reminded me of *why* I wanted to do this. The point of being open about what and who I am is to challenge stereotypes and misguided assumptions, and to reinforce positives instead of negatives.

So what is bisexuality? In the sense we're talking, the word means 'sexually attracted to both sexes' - To me this isn't entirely accurate as a description of my sexuality, because it's not a person's sex, or even their gender that I'm attracted to. In fact, in slightly over two and a half decades, I still entirely fail to comprehend how the shape of a person's genitalia could make the slightest difference to interpersonal relations. If I'm attracted to someone, my first thought is 'I want to connect with you and make you smile' and the 'how' of that comes much much later. Apparently though, I'm a freak - the majority of the population, be they gay or straight, seem to think that physical gender is important.

I think you're all weird.

Admittedly I did grow up with the usual expectations, and up to my teenage years went along with the default assumption that I was going to be straight and date boys. After all, I *liked* boys. Some of them were my best friends, and some of them I found pretty attractive too.
I was about 15 when I realised what should probably have been obvious sooner - having already had crushes on girls, and spent my playground years playing football with the boys and offering the girls piggyback rides and demonstrating my weightlifting talents in an attempt to impress them (aged ten years old and lifting more than double my bodyweight in the form of multiple wriggling young ladies - how baby-dyke can you get?!). The boy I was head over heels in love with at the time decided to break off our 'relationship' before it went further than holding hands and kissing, because he had a crush on another girl. I was devastated at the time, but I also realised something else. I had a crush on the same girl. I *liked* girls, too.

This scared me a bit at the time. The overarching image of bisexual people in the media was, and apparently still is about self-destructive sluts who can't control themselves: indiscriminate people of either gender who prey on innocent younger folk and end up in bad situations (a la Rocky Horror, if you will), married men who are 'really' gay and cheating on their wives with boys, and drunken college girls 'experimenting' with their friends and growing up to be traditional housewives after they outgrow their 'phase'. None of these things were exactly me.
Thankfully, I was lucky enough to grow up with a critical brain that said 'if these aren't me, then I can make my own niche' and a lovely accepting set of geek friends who didn't care if I had a fetish for space aliens as long as I was happy. So I did. I made my own niche, and got myself a full set: a boyfriend and a girlfriend (and this was a long long time before I heard the word 'polyamory') and that all made sense. Sort of.
Eventually I grew up a bit further, and refined my taste in people and realised that what I really wanted wasn't boobs or bum, dick or pussy, but a real mental connection with another intelligent human being, or maybe a few. And it didn't matter what shape the body was beyond that it was looked after. That's all there is to it.

Except the negative stereotyping, that is. I don't get it - just because I don't choose my lovers based on whether they have 'innies' or 'outies' or anything in-between for that matter, does that make me indiscriminate? Of course not. In fact, if anything it makes me more discriminating. If I have a larger percentage of the population to choose from, why would I settle for less?
When I was living in the 'Goldfish Bowl' (a small village in the mediterranean, with rather old fashioned attitudes) my partner asked me to remain in the closet about practically everything, except about being bi - but in the event I closeted myself over that too, when the rumours started flying about me and anyone I ever *spoke* to of the opposite sex, and I realised that if it came out that I was - shock - into women too, then nobody was safe from the rumour mill. I realised that the stereotype would stop me from being friends with anyone in the area - because apparently, I couldn't be trusted to not have sex with them.
It was only after I left the Goldfish Bowl that I realised there was a flip-side to that. I don't *have* to be a double-agent in the war of the sexes. Being bi not only means that I have a wider range of potential partners, but also that I have a wider range of potential friends.
I'm not bound to seeing one gender only as potential mates, and the other as allies, but I get to look at each and every person I meet and say 'where does this person fit best in my life?' I'm not subject to the broken logic mentioned in this post - and I'm better equipped for dealing with situations where I meet someone I'm potentially interested in sexually, and they're off-limits for whatever reason, including the reason 'I just don't want to, actually' - I get more practice. And yes, I do have friends that I don't sleep with who *aren't* off-limits. I have straight male friends, I have bi female ones. (I confess, for some reason I struggle to get along that well with the political sort of lesbians for any length of time - it's not because I accidentally sleep with them, though, we just seem to rub each other the wrong way. )

This shirt slogan just about sums it up:

Bisexual, Poly, Kinky, Horny, And I'm STILL not sleeping with you.

And handily enough, that also lists the topics I intend to cover later in this series, in roughly the right order.

Watch this space!

Butterfly

May. 1st, 2009 05:49 am
emanix: (Default)
Roughly three years ago now, I began an anonymous online journal*, intending to write about my experiences entering into polyamory as a lifestyle (having known I wasn't happy with monogamy for a long time before that, but being derailed by partners, attitudes and random events that meant I was 'accidentally monogamous' for a long time). It didn't turn out to be quite what I intended.
What I actually recorded was three years of living as a poly person in a community of non-poly people. Monogamites, as I tend to think of them. Three years of being in the closet, and accepting that my innate identity was something to be shut away, hidden and brought out only in private, whispered about in dark corners and conducted furtively.
Three years of internalised shame and embarrassment, and paranoia, culminating in one abusive relationship to end all of them, which I only really woke up from when I had to get the police involved.
Very recently though, I turned a corner. Partly thanks to finally coming into contact with some members of the poly-activist community in London, where I am based, and gaining a support network for coming out in, and partly thanks to this post http://tacit.livejournal.com/207965.html - which crystallised some of the arguments I had actually made way back in early 2006, when I was debating whether or not to make my blog public and write as myself, and let myself get talked out of openness by well-meaning people, and partners who claimed to love me, but weren't accepting enough of my lifestyle to fight for my right to have it and be open about it.

Now... 

You know what? I am proud of what and who I am. I've thought long and hard about my life choices, and about what parts of my personality are mere preferences, and what parts are innate *me*, and ever since I can remember I have put a lot of work into being a good person, and an ethical person, and developing the right kind of communication skills, and patience to be who I want to be, (and lord knows that last one was hardest of all) all without feeling the need to be told what to do by a 'higher authority', be that teacher, religious leader, ephemeral spirits or whatever, and without feeling that I have to follow the herd either. I have applied principles of critical thinking to my own lifestyle and attitudes and come up with a set of personal codes that I believe is both ethical *and* rational. My opinion is valued amongst people I care about and respect, and there are things I want to say. Not as an anonymous 'masked crusader', but as me.

I am, amongst many other things, bisexual, polyamorous, a BDSM switch, a radical agnostic, ambidextrous, an artist with a scientific mind, a geek, a fighter, a drinker of huge amounts of tea, and a person who is deeply upset at the horrible things people do to each other on a daily basis and wants to fight it with big piles of love and joy.
I am proud of the fact that, barring abusive psycho-guy, I am still on good terms with all of my ex-partners. I am proud that even whilst I was in recovery from that relationship, people I hold dear still felt they could come to me for help and advice. I am proud that despite all temptation, I refuse to allow one, or even a series of painful relationships to sour my view of all people (I am wary, yes, but I refuse to treat people with the suspicion that was aimed at me).

Another thing I am is angry. Not so much at the partners who asked me to hide who I was, but at the fact that they felt they needed to, and the society that taught my lovers (and me) that it was the right way to be, however much we all ended up hurting because of it. Through allowing people to talk me out of a large chunk of my self-esteem, through allowing myself to be closeted by others, I feel I contributed ultimately to my own abuse.

In some ways, I am lucky. I have a large number of friends amongst whom I have always been 'out' about everything I am (To some I 'came out' as a geek long after I came out about everything else). My brother knows pretty much everything, and my mother, whilst not officially In The Know, has talked with me about the fact that I was 'seriously' dating two guys who knew about each other, and seen the toys in my room, and watched me letch over women, without anything more than a smile and a raised eyebrow (and in one case, perhaps a hint of envy).  I grew up with some open minded and intelligent friends - the geek crowd - and felt free to be whoever I wanted to be in the schoolyard, even if it wasn't the most popular person in the school. Also, as an artist, the chances of my losing my job over my sexuality or sexual preferences is really quite low - the odd client, perhaps, but certainly not my career as a whole. So I've felt comfortable with being out about everything I am amongst my friends for many years, but not online. After all - people might connect posts on poly or BDSM or bisexuality with my work, and that, social conditioning told me, would be BAD.

Bad Schmad, I feel these days that my arguments have more weight coming from a 'real' person rather than a possibly imaginary anonymous blogger, and I have learned a lot over my lifetime of being polyamorous in a world of monogamites that I think could be very useful to people in the situation I escaped from. Also I want to connect with people who are like me on a real-world basis, not behind a screen.

I'm coming out of my chrysalis, and I intend to *fly*.


* If at some point, I receive agreement from everyone mentioned in my anonymous journal that they are okay with it, I will add a link here, but I promised someone I was deeply in love with at the time that, even as a nickname, I wouldn't 'out' him, and I don't intend to knowingly break that even now.

July 2015

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