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.]
emanix: (emanix)
Subtitle: Seriously, please don't buy me gifts.
---

Dear Peoples,

This year (as I have for the past several years) I am declaring my house a Christmas Free Zone. I am excusing myself from participating in a pointless cultural habit.

Some of it is ideological: I am neither a Christian, a Pagan, nor a Capitalist, and while I think it's nice knowing that Isaac Newton was born on the 25th of December, I think he would appreciate the sentiment of my doing nothing at all to celebrate this fact, because he simply isn't around to see it.

Some of it is more practical: After almost a decade of short-term living situations and an entire year of living out of backpack, the idea of acquiring more Stuff gives me an almost-physical pain. I can't help imagining carrying the extra weight of this new item, whatever it is, or doing the calculation in my head, working out which thing in my already full to capacity backpack I will have to give away, destroy, or otherwise leave behind in order to accommodate this new uninvited guest, however small.

Yes, I have a house right now, but my intention is to sell up and go back to being nomadic in the future. Every gift I receive now will have to be either carried or disposed of in the intervening time, and it hurts my heart to receive beautiful things knowing I can't keep them.

I'm not a complete grinch. I don't want to spoil anyone else's fun. I just question how much 'fun' is really involved in the rituals of compulsory gift-giving, emotional blackmail and gluttony that go alongside a traditional celebration of... what? The birth of a prophet who preached poverty, self-immolation and charitable giving? The turning of the seasons?
Why not, then, spare a thought instead for folks who are less well off? Perhaps those who are out in the cold. Rather than indulging in ridiculously high calorie foods, making oneself miserable, or at best uncomfortable, with overindulgence, why not give the whole damn lot to a food bank? Why not the gifts too? Instead of buying yet another gift set of pre-wrapped toiletries, probably destined barely to be glanced over before being placed on a high shelf and left to gather dust, why not say to your friend, family member, colleague, 'Today I made the world a slightly better place'. Why not give to charity instead, or volunteer your time?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against ever giving gifts. I love gift-giving. I just feel that gifts can happen the other 364 days of the year, for better reasons than 'a historical figure was born over 2000 years ago and probably nowhere near this time of year, so now I have to give you these socks that you didn't ask for...'. I have no objection to giving things to folks, especially if they're useful, wanted, well thought out. If they'll make life genuinely *better* rather than just fulfilling some sort of ritual expectation. I'll probably even be buying gifts for a few people this December, they just won't be christmas gifts.

If you're the sort of person who might have the urge to buy me a gift, I urge you please to reconsider. I have no need of more 'stuff' in my life – in fact, I need less. I have more than enough food, more than enough clothes, a warm place to live. The only thing I'm short on is time. I would rather hear that you had donated to charity on my behalf, or spent some time making the world a better place in some way. Some random act of kindness, or at the very least the carbon-neutral, pollution-free and mostly harmless act that is doing nothing at all.

There will be no christmas cards sent from my house, this year. There will be no tinsel, no baubles, and no tree. There will be no massive christmas dinner, or stressful family visits. Life, in fact, will carry on pretty much as usual, except perhaps a little quieter. Since I first went 'on strike' from christmas, several years ago now, midwinter has become a peaceful contemplative time for me to catch up with myself, my reading, and all of the bits and bobs that have built up through the year. I'll be sorting out my tax return, figuring out what I might be donating to charity on top of the steady stream of possessions I've been giving away over the last few months, and thinking about how I can contribute to the lives of friends and family through the rest of the year. I might get some DIY done.

Whatever I end up doing, I'm rather looking forward to the blissful peace of watching the hustle and bustle of the 'festive season' from a safe distance, and not being involved in any of it.

I guess you could say that this is the gift I'm giving myself.

Love and peace to everyone,

Maxine.

x
emanix: (emanix)
"Editor's Note": I wrote the original article in 2008, for a website that no longer exists, and it's been gathering dust in my archive ever since. I thought it was about time it came out for an airing. There may be a few grammatical errors as I had to run a find and replace on the genders, having pleasingly met lots of female and gender variant Techie types since I wrote the first version. Hope folks enjoy it!

----
Why I Love Techies
by GeekGroupie (a.k.a. Maxine Green)



An enthusiastic rant about just what it is I love so much about (shiver) practical folks.

Now really, would you trust someone who didn't know which end of a screwdriver was which to push *your* buttons?


I have to confess, I have a soft spot for geeks in general. Geeks are, in their many quiet ways, passionate people, and that's a thing that has always appealed to me, but a particular love has always been the Techie.


::-o0o-::


What is a Techie?


The Techie is a guru of technology. A specialist. They are the sort of person other people go to when they have a technical problem, a source of expertise. The Techie, male, female or otherwise, may be an engineer, a programmer, a top-level mechanic, a space-ship builder, maybe even a chef - it's the personality traits that make the difference. They are passionate about what they do, they do things right, and they get things done.


Techies are confident in their field, they tend to be well aware of their own competencies - a trait that happily extends to other aspects of their lives. A good techie is innovative and pragmatic - they will use the tools they has at hand to get the job done, and if they aren't the ones designed to do the job they will improvise. They are generally single-minded, focused and willing to experiment. If the Techie doesn't know how to do a thing, they will learn how rather than leave it to someone else.


::-o0o-::


So what exactly is it that I love? Every one of those traits has a use in the bedroom, I promise you. The human body is a complicated device - would you entrust it to someone who wasn't capable of learning how to use any others? A Techie won't just assume they're doing everything right, they will look and listen for feedback, and most likely ask if they're not getting it. If the task at hand happens to be, say, 'provide partner with orgasm' believe me, they won't rest until the task is complete. A Techie is not afraid to use tools to get the job done - I confess, a Techie guy introduced me to my first vibrator, and I haven't looked back.


As partners, Techies have their faults - it can take a bit of effort sometimes to get their attention when they're more interested in pushing buttons on their latest project than on ''you'' but on the other hand, my engineer loves have fulfilled more of my fantasies than anyone else - To a true Techie there is no such thing as 'can't'. I've seen techie folks take up soldering irons, spanners, welding torches and saws to make play equipment and looked on in awe at the results - and these weren't botch-jobs, No, a good Techie is always a perfectionist. They're not going to do anything by halves. Some of the best nights of my life have been spent in the hands of the folks who spend their days bending over their electronic loves.


So who do I look to when I want a good time? Do I go for the playboy? The Charmer? The pretty people? Do I go after money, or looks, or a silver tongue? Hell no! I'm off to find the folks behind the scenes who are busy making things work, screwdriver in hand.


Hey sexy Techie, got a tool for me?
emanix: (emanix)
I don't post much personal stuff these days. I've been finding, whilst I'm ever so happy to be out, as an activist, as a kinkster, as a visible poly person, that I want to live my private life... well, privately. But since writing my last post I've been feeling the need to post a personal update.

I've spent most of the last nine months out in the countryside, bouncing around alone in a big empty house with a barely functioning phone and minimal internet. I was tired of humanity, tired of the city, tired of sharing space with folks who mostly took and forgot to give back, tired of broken promises and thoughtless behaviour. So I left. I moved out to the Edge of Everywhere, into my 'hermitage' and I hid away. And, of course, I learned some new things about myself.

I learned how terrifying it is to be on your own, two hours drive or more away from everyone you know, and to be suddenly taken ill with a fever. To call up the only folks you can rely on and say "Ring me in the morning. If I don't pick up, call an ambulance." knowing that was the best they'd be able to do.

I learned a few things about my own resourcefulness, my own ability to cope when things suck. I learned a few things about my need for human contact, but also my never previously suspected need to be able sometimes to switch that off and just be.

Most of all, though, I learned a lot about who the folks are I really care about, and who really care about me. The people I feel the need to reach out to when I'm out on a limb, and even more, the folks who stuck with me, who made sure they kept in touch, even when I was out of sight and far away. I learned about the lines of love that stay open when we are far apart, when communications are hard, and the ones that shut down as soon as you're not visible.

I learned about being an Outdoor Cat.

Now I'm moving on again, after nine months. Just long enough to have had the baby. The hermitage was always temporary. It could have been longer, it could have been less. I don't feel quite ready to leave, but perhaps I never would have done, who knows? And where I'm moving to is... nowhere, everywhere, into thin air.

I have a place lined up to go to, it's not ready yet. May not be for a few months (given the folks involved, maybe even longer). In the meantime, I'm embracing the freedom of movement. I will be living out of my backpack, with a suitcase on the side full of art materials to enable me to keep painting, keep creating. I'm free from paying rent or bills, so that gives me a little more money for travel and accommodation should I find the need to pay for places, but I am starting to suspect I won't be struggling. I am trusting that there will be places open to me.

As if in answer to that trust, when I started telling my friends and loved ones about my plan, vistas of possibility opened up. I found myself welling up with tears as one after another members of my chosen family, friends and lovers, even ex partners I'm still close to, began offering me places to stay not just for a day or two but for weeks or months, as long as I liked, and not just rooms but also keys to their houses to come and go as I please, to be trusted, one of the family. To install the cat flap. I am indescribably grateful for that. Awed by the love and joy in those connections and wanting to celebrate that. To announce to the world that I love these people. Be good to these people. They've been, are currently being so good to me.

So I'm moving on... as I jokingly said to a friend of mine who asked me 'where to?' the other day, I'm moving on to the internet. My email address is the same as ever, as is my mobile number. I have a couple of partners willing to accept packages for me, depending on where I'll be in the world. I'm still just as easy to get hold of, just perhaps a little harder to pin down in one place. I'm already pretty much booked up for the next couple of months, in terms of places to be. In fact I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever find time to move into my new place at all. I shall play it by ear, as with everything else in my life at the moment.

I'll see you on the internet!

With love and joy,

M.

xx
emanix: (emanix)
It's a set of questions that comes up perennially in poly communities: Do I refer to my relationships as Primaries and Secondaries and if so what does that mean? Is that descriptive labelling, does it simply describe how things already are, or is it prescriptive, indicating how one thinks the relationship ought to be? Doesn't primary and secondary imply hierarchy (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't)? What other terms could I possibly use?

For me I have always very clearly explained that my 'primary' partners are the partners I think of first (first, hence 'primary'), before I make decisions, and my secondary partners are the folks I inform after a decision is made. It's always seemed a little clumsy requiring so much explanation to make it clear that my system was not based on a prescriptive hierarchy, but I've struggled to find better terms to use.

The other day I was engaged in a discussion in a poly space that was actually unrelated to this particular debate. The discussion was about current partners vs. exes, and attitudes towards relating to them. A most excellent lady, one Poly-Anna, calls her ex-lovers "Outdoor Cats" and her current primary lover her "Indoor Cat." I took one look at this metaphor and fell utterly in love. I mean, what's not to like? It's cute, familiar to nearly everybody and involves kitties. Win!

From the discussion:

"All Outdoor Cats used to be Indoor Cats until something went wrong. But once you are an Outdoor Cat, you may occasionally get petted or fed, but you never live indoors again.

Also, we don't mind visitors coming into the house and petting or playing with our Indoor Cats, but it's important to us that the Indoor Cat remember where he is fed and sleeps."

"We also recognize that our Indoor Cats may be someone else's Outdoor Cat. There is a cat door!"


Of course, there is the implication that by equating relationships to cat ownership, one might be implying ownership of one's partners... but I'm pretty sure anyone who has ever lived with cats knows that "ownership" is a rather loose term for a particular cat choosing to live with you for a while, for as long as that suits the cat.

So I got thinking, and the more I thought about this particular analogy for relationships the more I liked it.

Now, I don't agree word for word. For example, I don't think it's quite true that all Outdoor Cats used to be Indoor Cats. I think that some cats may well start out as Outdoor Cats and get themselves adopted to become Indoor Cats later.
Some cats really don't like living indoors and want more freedom, or are suited to a different style of household.
Some cats like to live indoors most of the time, but occasionally go off a-wandering.
Some cats have two households.
Some cats may bring other cats home with them, or the occasional small animal to play with, and it is quite possible to have more than one Indoor Cat as long as they get on well together, or have enough space.

These labels can still be descriptive or prescriptive: One could say prescriptively 'I'm looking for an Indoor Cat' or 'I'm looking for an Outdoor Cat', 'you're an Outdoor Cat right now, would you like to move Indoors with me, entailing x, y and z?' or you might just find yourself saying descriptively one day 'well it looks like I have an Indoor Cat now, what a surprise!' but I really like that there is no implied value judgement. Something that's ever so hard to avoid with language like primary/secondary or anchor/satellite or most of the terms I've come across in poly circles. The Outdoor Cat is not automatically less important than the Indoor Cat, is not due any less love, respect or consideration, the Outdoor Cat is still very much a cat in its own right, it's just a different living situation.

...and sometimes cats... get rabies and have to be put down?

Okay, perhaps I've stretched the metaphor just a little too far, but you see my point I hope!

For me, this also leads to a new realisation. Right now, I am the Outdoor Cat. All of my relationships, however loving and intimate, are long-distance and ad-hoc. While I have a partner I consider to be 'primary' by my own definition, we're not well suited to living with each other so we don't try to push ourselves into a box that doesn't fit.
Some day I would very much like to be an Indoor Cat again, but I'm not planning to rush into anything unsuitable just because it's a home. I think, for now, the wandering life suits me.
But I realise also that, as an Outdoor Cat, I'm not without care, feeding or attention. I realise that if something bad were to happen and I was to get sick or injured I think there are several homes where I could get taken in, looked after for a while, taken to the vet... and for that I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate. It was only when I looked at my relationships through a slightly different lens, thinking about the love and care involved in each, rather than the logic of decision-making and who informs who of what, that I realised that. I think that's a beautiful thing.

What relationship do you have with your 'cats'?
emanix: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] tacit spotted this in my paper journal back in February and asked me to post it so he could link to it. I only just remembered it today:

Let's only date grown-ups.
Here is what is mine, there is what is yours.
This is what I would like, and this is what I will give.
This is what I won't, can't, don't give.
Where is your beginning and what is your end?
Love is not give and take, love is give and give.
I give, and you give, and we draw lines in ourselves where we stop.
I draw a line here, do you see it?
It's the place just before it hurts me to give,
because I know, if you love me, if you love the way I do, this is where you would beg me to stop.
And if you don't, if you wouldn't, you are worth nothing further.
emanix: (Default)

I have come across this poem online a couple of times, attributed to a Veronica Shoffstall. However it appears that it's also a translation of an original work in Spanish, possibly by Jorge Luis Borges.

Either way, it is beautiful, and expresses a lot of how I feel about relationships, and about polyamory, and deserves to be known.

After a While

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman*
Not the grief of a child*

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
And with every day, you learn.




Click for the original language )

.

*I notice these two lines aren't present in the Spanish version. They are awfully pretty, though, and fit well into the model of the poem, so I've left them where I found them. Being a language nerd, I also fixed the last line of the translation: the version I found said 'with every goodbye you learn', whereas the spanish just says 'with every day', which I think is far more optimistic!
  
NB: I'm not keen on infringing copyright, so I'll happily take this post down or correct the attribution if I'm contacted by someone who can demonstrate ownership, but in this case it seems the ownership is fuzzy, and the likely original author is no longer alive to benefit from his work. There appears to be a longer version in Spanish here: http://elprincipito.blogia.com/2005/101102-jorge-luis-borges-aprendiendo.php
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)
Wow it's been a busy month! A lot of new friendships, a may-be new relationship, a lot of new ideas, and a lot of running around.

Idea 1. I love Frolicon!

The first of April saw me at Frolicon - utterly fabulous. Great to see a lot of the people I connected with last year again. And also a certain person that I only briefly bumped into last year, we hit it off *very* well, and I got to hang out with a lovely portion of the polyfamily, too. That was lovely! Now engaged in one of several 'Sooper Sekrit Projects' which involve a great deal of awesome... and tentacles! Frolicon makes me very happy, and it is worth a lot to me to keep going back there. Where else could I find such people? Perhaps not quite so appealing to [livejournal.com profile] werenerd - he and jetlag are not good friends, but I think we'll be back - it was also our anniversary party, after all!

Idea 2. Skeptical Tantra.

Barely had time to breathe in London, catch up on work and spend a little time with my other primary before [livejournal.com profile] werenerd and I were off to a Tantra weekend where I yelled at the instructor for spouting sexist drivel, but also was inspired by the challenge of taking what is good and valuable from these practices (and there certainly *are* parts that are good and valuable) and separating it from the pseudoscience and religious babble.
I realise I'm pretty well-placed to do this. I've been studying sex in a casually academic sense for some 20 years*, I have useful knowledge of the real science behind the pseudoscience, and I have worked for and with a tantra school, one of the teachers for which is conveniently a housemate. It's a hell of an undertaking, but the groundwork is there already that would make it possible, and I feel it would be useful to the world. I'm giving this some serious thought.

Idea 3. Rethinking my views on long-distance relationships.

Once upon a time I swore I woudn't ever have another long-distance relationship, mostly based on the fact that every time I have done it's caused me immense stress thanks to partners being not okay with polyamory (often after previously having been fine with it). These days I might flirt with an openly poly person who lived a bit further away, but had been keeping them somewhat casual out of wariness. My experience of poly thus far is that it works better when partners are local. Perhaps, though, if the person(s) concerned are poly activists, it might in fact be worth taking that chance? It's not as if I don't have plenty of long-distance friendships. I still can't see myself taking on a new relationship with a person that isn't already poly, though. I just don't have that kind of energy these days. One policy change at a time, I think!

Idea 4. Being a 'Superhero'.

Having watched 'Kick-Ass', (which was awesome and you all want to see it!) I went home thinking about 'if I was a superhero, what would I call myself?' I came up with the name 'Polly Amorous' and was amazed to discover that this was in fact available as a web domain, so I impulse-bought it and am now considering what to put there. Suggestions welcomed!

Two vaguely serious thoughts followed - one related to my post on being SAMOTURE: that actually, we *are* all responsible for the state of the world we live in, and taking the cop-out option to be bystanders in our own lives... well, it just plain sucks.
From the film: "with no power comes no responsibility... except that's not true."
How does one encourage heroism anyway?

Secondly, that poly people often seem to be considered 'other' by the media in the same way that superheroes are. Every article I read lately seems to include some phrase equivalent to 'this is not for the average Joe', whereas I would protest that we are very much normal people, just normal people with one slightly different belief. I really feel the need to challenge that perception.
So... there will no doubt be related rants, cartoons, essays and other stuff on www.PollyAmorous.com - watch this space!

Idea 5. Boobquake! Today!

Encountered on twitter, details are here: http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html
In the name of science I shall be also be trotting around town this evening wearing the most immodest dress I can, and my lovely housemate [livejournal.com profile] getoffmoiland will be joining me. Pics later!

Join the #boobquake on Twitter! For Science!

Next month looks to be equally busy, so I intend to spend much of next week being a 'hermit', attempting to get some artwork done, and getting a little rest in if I can, as well. I shall be remaining in South London, and not allowing people to entice me into town during the evenings, which are always (annoyingly) the most productive part of my day.

Love to everybody!




*For the hyperobservant of you, yes really. I said academic, not in a physical manner. That came a little later.
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

 


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