emanix: (emanix)
I'm posting this entry for the edification of new readers, as a flag to my important posts (at least the ones important to me), and a map of my world.

My name's Maxine Green. I'm an artist and illustrator by trade, polyamorous (and many other things) by nature, a scientist at heart, and an activist by accident.

My introductory post is here: Butterfly

A continuing series of scribblings about the things that are important to me:
Defining My Terms: 1. Bisexuality
Defining my Terms 2: Polyamory
Defining my Terms 3: Kink
Defining My Terms 4: Radical Agnostic
(because not everything is about sex)
Some More Definitions
Recipe for the Good Life

Original Essays/Articles:

SAMOTURE - or This is What an Activist Looks Like (2009-10-01)
Bisexuality & Statistics: Twice as many dates? (2010-07-16)
Secret Loves (why they suck) (2010-06-10)
The Emanixine Creed (2010-10-03)
The big, beautiful shiny rainbow of kink (A.K.A. there's no One True Way) (2011-04-25)
On hierarchies, relationships and cat ownership. (March 9th, 2013)
On how touching someone without asking is assault. EVEN IF THEY LIKED IT. (October 17th, 2012)
I Am Not Here For Your Entertainment. (The Story) (October 25th, 2011)
Self-Evident Epiphanies - Human Beings. (January 30th, 2011)
Hi, I'm poly and I don't exist. (August 1st, 2010)
Polyamory and Statistics, or “Why haven't we found 'our third' yet?” (September 8th, 2014)
. (.)

Resources:

Bicon Follow-Up - Poly 201 responses. (2010-09-05)
Bicon Follow-Up 2 - Recipe for Aloe-based Lube (2010-09-05)
Bicon Follow-Up 3 - SM/Breathplay, with link to Jay Wiseman's Essays (2010-09-05)
How to Be Trans-friendly and Subvert Crummy Gender Roles at the Same Time, in Five Easy Steps! (2010-04-07)
Legal Prostitutes Have HALF the Infection Rate of 'Straight' Population (2010-07-12)
'The Bastards! - A sympathetic technique for relationship harmony.' (September 27th, 2013)
More Bad Science - Contraception and Statistics. (a.k.a. Implanon Implants: They're Fine.) (January 9th, 2011)
. (.)

Some more "Me Manual" stuff:

Let's Only Date Grown-ups. (June 8th, 2012)
Form Letter (Response to idiots sending me form letters on dating sites and social networks) (October 23rd, 2013)
On Pain, Punishment and Perverse Incentives (February 3rd, 2012)
One from the Archives: Why I Love Techies. (November 21st, 2014 (Original, 2007))
The Penis Size Rant (September 18th, 2014)
Why My House is a Christmas Free Zone. (December 15th, 2014)
. (.)


No doubt I'll edit this further as new things occur to me, and as my essay series grows.

In the meantime, enjoy!

M.

x
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)
Find out why we call them 'unicorns'.



Edit, 1st October 2014 (Because I realised I hadn't properly defined my terms!):

In the poly community, a 'unicorn' is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek term for a single, bisexual poly woman willing to date both members of a couple, usually in an exclusive triad.

If that's what you're looking for, you may have already heard people tell you that what you're looking for is incredibly rare, and that it's going to be a long hard journey. Most folks just shrug their shoulders at this and say 'that's okay, I'll just keep on looking til I find it.'

So I took a look at just *how* rare finding a unicorn actually is, how many you're likely to find in your own social circle, and how long it might realistically take to find someone, as a couple, to fit you both.

Full disclosure: I am technically a 'unicorn' myself. As a poly bi woman with no formal primary partnership, I am hypothetically open to dating a couple (though the 'exclusive' part isn't for me). But how many times in my 20 years of dating have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? Well, I'll let you know at the end of the essay!




As many folks who read my blog know, it is mostly used as a repository for essays on topics that I encounter repeatedly. I've been writing this essay over about three years, adding a tiny little bit every time I see some new person ask the same question, and if you scroll down you'll see it's a pretty long essay. Stick with me. It's worth it.

Everywhere poly and interested folk gather, I hear the refrain “Why is it so hard for us to find the perfect woman to date us both?” often followed up with some sort of comment to the effect of “There's two of us, so that should make it easier, right?”

Sorry, folks! The computer says no!

Finding one single woman (or man*) to date as a couple is many many many times harder than finding a different partner for each of you. And if we look at the finding-a-date process step by step, the numbers will tell you why.

Let's begin our step by step starting with the straight male member of a male/female couple (just for example), and throw some numbers in for illustrative purposes.

So, wannabe poly triad-building guy, let's say that most of your dating experience has been as a single person. That's great! You know how that works. You go out, go online, mingle with folks, you check women out and you see who you find attractive. Let's assume that's about one in ten, or ten percent of the women out there. Hey, you've got some taste, right? But you've already knocked out 90% of the dating population as possibilities. But let's carry on. Ten percent of the available dating population just happens to be your personal version of 'hot'.

Now, you already know how if you are single only a certain percent of the hot women in your dating pool are going to be interested in you. So let's say that maybe ten percent of those women that you find attractive are willing to consider dating you (obviously your mileage may vary, but 10% is a nice easy number to use to demonstrate). Seems like you're off to a great start, right? Right. One in 100 isn't bad odds. You've still got a pretty good chance of finding a date for yourself here. But you're already down to 1% of the total dating pool (that's ten percent of ten percent), and you haven't asked any of the difficult questions yet.

Chance of finding a partner if you're single: 10% of 10% = 1% or 1 in 100

Now, if you are *not* single, you are limiting yourself to only the people within your dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy. Since the vast majority of the population are still not open to poly, we'll take a guess at that again being about ten percent, so now you're looking at ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, that's only 0.1% of everyone who's available for dating. You have already cut your chances of finding compatible people down to one in 1000, simply by being poly. So if you're dating as an individual, your chances of finding someone who's interested in just you are roughly one in every thousand women you check out. If you're surfing dating sites as an individual, or going out and meeting people in public, that's not too bad. Your female partner will probably have about the same odds if she wants to date other guys.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.1% or 1 in 1000

But then you want a partner who will also date your female partner. So it gets more complicated.

Assuming you are an m/f couple both looking for a partner in common, you are also looking for a woman who is bisexual. But don't forget, you're still limiting yourself to being inside that group of 'people who are open to nonmonogamy AND attracted to you'.
Across the board of sexuality studies, the highest estimated percentage of the population who are interested in same sex relationships is approximately ten percent (usually it's less, but we're rounding it up to make things look more hopeful here!). If your female partner is looking independently for another female partner who doesn't need to be attracted to you, her odds will be about here: ten percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, or in other words, about one in 10,000. Out of the general population, only one woman in 10,000 is likely to be hot, poly and as attracted to your female parter as she is to them.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly same sex partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.01% or 1 in 10,000

BUT you're still looking for a partner who will date BOTH of you, not just one of you, so it gets more complicated again.

Specifically bisexual people account for probably about half of that 'interested in same sex relationships' population (maybe a bit less). So again, you're cutting your odds down, this time to about 5% of your already limited group of 'hot women who are open to nonmonogamy AND already attracted to you'.
So that's five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. You're down to 0.005% of the dating population... That's one in 20,000, and we haven't even accounted for whether or not those women are attracted to your female partner yet – after all, we were so far just looking at women who were attracted to *you*.
So assuming your female partner is about as attractive as you are, and sexily compatible with about ten percent of the people she meets, that adds another zero in front of your chances.

(I'm also assuming here that you and your partner have *exactly* the same tastes, and exactly the same definition of what is 'hot' in a potential partner. If your tastes differ, that's going to reduce your options still further, but lets not, because that's just going to get depressing!).

Still following the maths? Right now, the percentage of hot bisexual women in the dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy AND likely to be interested in dating you AND interested in dating your partner as well is ten percent of five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. Out of all the potential women in the dating pool, you're now down to 0.0005%, or roughly one in 200,000 women. At this point you have probably run out of women in your dating pool. Hell, you've probably run out of women in your entire state, but hey, if you cast your net wide enough...

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you: 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.005% or 1 in 200,000

And that isn't even taking into account whether or not those women are open to being in a *closed* triad with you, just whether they might be interested in dating you in the first place. The number of poly women who will be open to creating a closed triad with you will be even smaller. Oh what? About ten percent, we figure? That's one in two million women, folks.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you AND in exclusivity: 10% of 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.0005% or 1 in 2,000,000

You probably call your existing partner 'one in a million', but to actually find ONE woman interested in setting up a FIRST date with both of you, are you really prepared to make contact with two million women?

And folks wonder why they're still looking years later...


*These numbers work equally well if you're an m/f couple looking for a male 'unicorn', just flip the gender of the 'partner' bits of the workings out, I just went with the most common scenario I see for illustration purposes. It's a little different, numerically speaking, if you're already a same sex couple, but not very.




So how long would it take you to sift through two million women, anyway?

How about I throw in some more numbers in for you?

Let's say you're trying to do most of your dating organically, in person or through forums, poly groups and other social mingling. Let's also wildly exaggerate and say that you can meet one woman every minute of your day. If you could do that non-stop without eating, sleeping, going to work or anything else, that alone adds up to nearly four years.

More realistically, you'll probably only be able to devote an hour a day to meeting brand new people. After all, you have lives to lead. At one hour a day, that initial sift alone will take you something like ninety years (actually, I make it 91.32 years ).

Now let's say you spend ten minutes chatting to all the women you find attractive (another 91.32 years), and another ten minutes chatting with the women who seem to be attracted to you. That's only an extra nine years at this point.

Oh hey, you've found out some these women are poly! And bi! You've got to chat with them a little longer, maybe research their background a bit. You're going to have to introduce them to your female partner, see if they get on. You've made great progress though! That's such a short list of women it's not even going to take you a month to sift through and figure out who's into who. You're so nearly there, after a mere 192.74 years of searching, why it's enough to make you drop your walking stick and click your heels together. It's time to actually go on some dates!

So let's say you and your partner finally have a shortlist of women who are hot, bisexual, poly, and even better, attracted to the both of you. Let's say out of your initial two million women, you've managed to narrow it down to ten. You take each one of those women out on a couple of dates to see how you get along, and then you pop the question: “Would you like to be in a closed triad with the two of us?” It's only going to take you twenty days or so. Barely even three weeks worth of dating. Of course, most of the hot bi babes say no. Perhaps they can't see themselves cutting off their options that way. Perhaps they already have existing partners they don't want to dump just for the privilege of being with you. Perhaps it's just not their style (It's not you, it's them). It doesn't matter though. Out of those ten women you spent nearly three weeks dating, miracle of miracles, one of them has said YES!

And it only took you 192.79 years to find someone who wants to start to date both of you. Assuming you're still alive, you'll all be over two hundred years old by now, so I figure you'll all have the maturity to build a successful relationship from this point, plus be too tired to look for anyone else if it doesn't work out. Congratulations! You've found your unicorn! Well done!




...in other words, unicorn hunting is the relationship equivalent of spending every day sitting at home imagining what you will do 'when you win the lottery', rather than going out to work and building yourself a viable business.

That doesn't mean you need to stop buying lottery tickets, but in the meantime why not go out, build solid relationships, build friendships, build family even, with people who fit *you*, and maybe in doing so you'll happen across people who also fit your other partner or partners.

Yes, it sounds like more work and less 'romantic', but on the other hand it's a whole lot more reliable.


Check my maths!

You can see my workings as a spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sm5YD8WASdDDs3RcIKUzaLaqF2yMuJe9TBE8tW8tl9U/edit?usp=sharing





Some further reading for couples who are seeking to date a 'unicorn', or for bisexual folks considering dating both or part of a couple:

About bisexuality:
Bisexuality & Statistics: Twice as many dates? (2010-07-16)

http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Main/Bisexuality#equal

More about unicorn hunting, and some advice from experienced poly folk:
http://goodmenproject.com/sex-relationships/hunting-the-elusive-unicorn/

http://www.multiplematch.com/2012/11/why-unicorn-hunting-is-exercising-couple-privilege/

http://unicorns-r-us.com/

http://polytical.org/2012/07/triads-ts/

About dating a couple:
http://www.morethantwo.com/coupledating.html





So, as a 'unicorn', how many times have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? --- 0.

That would be big fat zero. I have, however, been dating a wonderful couple for the last several years.
Because they were confident and independent enough to date separately, I was dating him for at least a year when a surprise 'spark' developed with her too. If I'd had to choose between both or neither right at the start though? I'd have had to choose neither, and that would have been a sad loss for all of us.
emanix: (emanix)
Or, 'The Bastards! - A sympathetic technique for relationship harmony.'

Are you a Fixer? Do you offer solutions instead of sympathy? Does this sometimes cause friction in your relationships when friends or partners who are simply looking for a sympathetic ear find themselves bombarded with 'have you trieds' and 'did you think ofs'? Or are you the partner or friend who sometimes find yourself looking for sympathy only to find yourself in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition?

I'm definitely a Fixer. If someone shares a problem with me I immediately start looking for ways to make the problem go away. This has occasionally caused friction in my relationships with partners who felt it was intrusive or disempowering when they just wanted to heard rather than Helped. But I've found that one particular technique I have used over the last few years has really helped with this. I have also noticed that my friends have been pinching it to use with their own partners and other friends. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I've come to the conclusion that it might actually be worth propagating further and sending it out into the world. So here it is: 'The Bastards' or How to Fix the Fixers and raise a smile, in one simple step.

Now I can't claim sole credit for the idea, since I pinched the original concept from Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt's book The Ethical Slut. One chapter described a situation like the one I mentioned above, and suggested a way for the Fixer to switch off the urge to Fix and just be there for their friend who simply wanted a sympathetic ear. The writer or their friend would occasionally provide a period of 'Poor Baby', where those two were the only words they said, repeatedly, until their friend was done venting. When I read the description, I particularly thought of one of my partners, who would often be frustrated at my trying to Fix things when really he just wanted to get something off his chest. But my partner thought 'Poor baby' was too patronising. He didn't want babying, so much as the feeling someone was fighting at his side. He felt that 'poor baby' didn't really convey the appropriate air of righteous indignation at the state of the world. So I pondered this for a while and dug around for a phrase that I felt might better fit the mood. The phrase I came up with was 'The Bastards!'

And it turns out that 'The Bastards!' fits pretty much every situation. If it doesn't make sense? All the better. It's not about the logic. It's about the righteous indignation dammit!

"I've had a long horrid day at work."
"The bastards!"

"I ran out of milk!"
"The bastards!"

"Ow, this headache really hurts!"
"The bastards!"

"I'm having trouble in my relationship..."
"The bastards?"

"My grandad's in hospital with pneumonia."
"Those bacterial bastards!"

"I got disappointing numbers from my mortgage advisor."
"The calculating bastards!"

...and so on.

And that's it. It's that simple. Obviously it doesn't fix every problem in the world, but sometimes, well... it's not about Fixing. With a bit of practice, even the most hardcore Fixer can learn to set Fixing aside and bring out The Bastards when appropriate, and folks who know what they're looking for is sympathy rather than help can learn to ask for The Bastards. And we all, hopefully, get on that little bit more harmoniously.

Lucky Bastards!
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)
(Cross-posted from Polytical.org - original article here)

When I first moved to London at the start of 2007 I was lucky enough that I *had* heard of polyamory. I even defined myself as polyamorous, thanks to a chance encounter with a copy of The Ethical Slut in an Ottawa bookshop. What I had no idea about was where to find other people like myself. It seems like poly people were a rare life form who only existed on the internet or in the USA.

Then, when I heard about Polyday thanks to another chance meeting, I can honestly say it was the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I discovered that not only were there other poly people in the UK, but there was a thriving community, and events I could go to, to meet people like myself. I felt like I had finally come home.

I volunteered to help run Polyday in 2009 because I think community is important. After years of feeling like a fish out of water, the poly community in london and around the UK provided a much-needed safe space where I could finally be myself amongst a bunch of awesome people, and since I’ve been organising the event I’ve had similar feedback from a lot of other folks. Not to mention some beautiful emails to say thanks for introducing people to new loved ones. Polyday is notoriously a high point in the year for new relationships in the poly community as well - though we emphasise that it is *not* a dating event, being surrounded by so many lovely non-monogamous folks a few are bound to hit it off!

There's always something for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned ‘polyamorists’ and activists, from vanilla to kinky, and whether you're into men, women or everything in between. Plus there will be a some fun sessions and evening entertainment thrown in for good measure.
If you’ve heard of polyamory but are unsure how to put it into practice or where to find out more, polyday is a great place to start.
If you’ve been poly for years and think you have it down, consider coming to our more advanced sessions and sharing your experience with other ‘experts’, joining in the 'poly crafting' workshop, helping out with the running of the day, or perhaps even volunteering to run a workshop - there are still a couple of slots free as I write this.

Whether you’re new to poly or not, this is *your* community event. Even if you feel like you've nothing to learn there is space to chat, share stories and connect with people you may not have met before, or haven't seen since the last Polyday. Come on home.

This year’s Polyday will be on the 27th of August, in central London at Dragon hall (near Holborn). Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and workshops start from noon, with nice long breaks between sessions for coffee and chat, and a dinner break to take advantage of the huge number of excellent local eateries before evening ents until 11pm. Online booking is already open, and there are more details on the website (which will continue to be updated as the event gets closer) at www.polyday.org.uk

You can see Bobbu's round-up of his experiences as a Polyday volunteer here: http://polytical.org/2011/01/a-summary-of-polyday/

I’ll look forward to seeing you all there!

emanix: (Activist)
Hi folks!

I've had no chance to catch up with livejournal for several weeks now, so apologies to everyone I've been failing to read. With a bit of luck I might get chance to catch up at some point!

At any rate, last weekend was BiCon and there are a few topics that came up which I wanted to follow up of which this is the first.

Poly 201

Photos and transcripts of the whiteboards from the Polyamory 201 session at BiCon )

I plan to add to these lists and put them up on www.pollyamorous.com when I have a little time to catch up.
emanix: (Default)
Hi, I'm a polyamorous woman, and I don't exist. In fact, I don't believe that polyamorous people exist.

“Huh?” I hear you say. “But you just declared yourself polyamorous. Up there! It says so!”

I did, and I do. I call myself polyamorous because I see this as an important part of how I relate to other people in my life. So I call myself poly in the same way I call myself an agnostic, or a Londoner, or a wearer of polka-dotted shirts. I get sick and tired, though, of hearing about poly people vs. monogamous people as though we're different species. Worse, the constant bickering about whether it's 'natural' for human beings in general to be monogamous or not. Good grief! Are we animals? It seems like a lot of people are deeply invested in perpetuating the split, but it's a false dichotomy that drives me up the wall. This may be an unpopular position but here I go:

There is no such thing as a polyamorous person.

There is no such thing as a monogamous person either.


I find it bizarre how often discussions about poly versus mono the arguments seem to fall back to biology. Folk are either claiming that we are ALL supposed to be one or the other, or they're claiming that there's a hard-wired difference between the two. Really? It's like claiming there is a biological reason for being a liberal versus a conservative, or a vegetarian versus a carnivore . The difference between these people is simple, obvious and nobody's arguing it: belief. When the issue is how to run a country or what to eat for dinner we're all happy to stick with arguing that this or that is the more rational option – x or y is better because it benefits people (or animals) in this or that way. So why on earth, when the issue is how to organise relationships, does everyone start insisting that nature has all of the answers?

Seriously, why on earth is anyone asking which is the 'natural' way to be? The natural way for us to be, running along some of these lines of thinking, is naked, eating raw foods and huddling in natural caves for warmth. Except that's not true either – the natural thing for us to be doing, as creatures of logic and imagination is *thinking* and basing our behaviours on the result of conscious thought, whatever internal system of logic we happen to be using.

What does nature want us to be doing? You know... it really doesn't matter. We started ignoring what nature wanted from us the minute we started adapting our environments to suit ourselves instead of vice versa. What matters is what we THINK. In other words, the difference between the mind of a monogamous person and that of a polyamorous person is the thoughts and beliefs inside it – and these are mutable things. On a daily basis people make the decision to stop, or start eating meat, choose which party to vote for, make decisions about moral and cultural issues based on their experiences and understanding of the world around them. If we are rational adults – and I think we are all aspiring to be rational adults here, no? - then we base our decisions on what our logic circuits tell us, not our bodies.

I'm Emanix. I'm a carnivore. Not because I believe it's the only right way to be. Not because I believe it's more natural, or more 'evolved', or because there is a fundamental difference between my brain chemistry and that of my vegetarian friends. I'm carnivorous because to me it's what makes sense on a daily basis.

Oh, and I happen to be polyamorous too.

I've had a few comments on the carnivore thing. Yes I know what carnivore actualy means, yes it's hyperbole for the sake of humour. My artistic license can be viewed here: [link to Artistic License'] it states 'Licensed to bend the truth in the name of comedy'. Can we get back to the point now please?

Secrecy

Jun. 10th, 2010 12:35 am
emanix: (Default)
This is a little out of the blue, as it started as a forum post up until I realised I was proselytizing. Then I decided to put it here instead, since what else is a blog for?

Now I've mentioned this topic before, and referenced this relevant post by [livejournal.com profile] tacit, but having bumped into the forum thread about whether or not to be open about poly relationships on Modern Poly, I wanted to go into more detail about my views on this, as it is something I've experienced both sides of, and I have pretty strong views on this topic.

An academic article I came across recently had this to say about secrecy in relationships:

“greater secrecy was associated with reduced commitment to one’s relationship, lower self-esteem, and more reported health symptoms ...poses a threat to partners’ personal health as a result of generating negative affect (e.g., nervousness and fear)“

(from http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/35/11/1452 )

In other words, being secretive about your relationships not only sucks as an experience, but it can also make you ill.

And now I'll tell you a story:

My own experience stems from when I was still quite new to poly (or at least to the idea that it was actually okay to be the way I had always been anyway) and still hadn't found a support network, online or in person.

I moved to a small and isolated community with a partner, let's call him P. It wasn't a highly religious place, but it was VERY old-fashioned in attitude. From having been very open about everything with our UK community, suddenly P was terrified we were going to be shunned by our new social group if either of us put a foot wrong, and he felt his job was at risk if this happened, so he demanded that I conduct my other relationships with the utmost secrecy.

I was not happy about this, but I put up with it because I loved him, we lived really well together, and thought we were in for the long haul. I went back into the closet both about being poly, and about my bisexuality as well, after one incident of platonic late night film-watching at a male friends house sparked a nasty whispering campaign that got back to P's ears and he felt very uncomfortable about it. If I couldn't be 'safe' around the men of the neighbourhood, I sure as hell wasn't going to give them more rumour fodder by coming out as bi. This was the sort of place where upright chaps stood around and talked about 'the gays' as though they were from a different (and highly contagious) planet. Being different was WRONG. It was like having walked onto the set of the Stepford Wives.

So I snuck around for several months, loathing the place more by the day, loathing myself also, and feeling like I was being watched, and whispered about everywhere I went. I know this wasn't entirely paranoia either, because certain rumours came back to my (and P's) ears from trusted sources. It was not a comfortable place to be. Being secretive about a relationship in such a tiny community is frankly, near impossible, and I literally worried myself sick at times.

As luck had it, shortly after I started seeing A (and for unrelated reasons), P and I hit a dealbreaker, and decided to call it a day. A had a somewhat different view about how to act in public – in short, if you act as though you are doing nothing wrong, people will respond accordingly. So we did. And it worked. We acted as though we were doing nothing wrong, and sure we raised a few eyebrows – I was still living pretty happily with P, and we were winding our relationship up slowly and amicably, but at the same time I was openly dating A, and the three of us were spending time together as friends. - but we were accepted at face value. Suddenly the goldfish bowl community seemed a much friendlier place, and I was genuinely sad when I left to move back to the UK (and y'know what, I managed to challenge some of the homophobic attitudes while I was there, too).

The curious thing here is that A and P were in exactly the same line of work – in fact, they were colleagues, yet P fretted about losing his job by being 'outed' (even about his partner's behaviour), whereas A felt the best way to safeguard his job was in fact to be open about things from the start.

In a way, they were both right. Essentially, P created the danger - and it was a real danger - of being blackmailed and exposed, entirely out of his own fears and discomforts. A, by being open and up-front, blew any possibility of blackmail or rumour out of the water, and created a safe space for us to exist right there in the public eye.

From my own experience, and judging by the careers of plenty of notable politicians (pick some examples local to you!), I'm tempted to say that the latter 'open' policy being better in the long run is obvious.

(A little note here: being 'open' does not have to mean yelling loudly to everyone in town 'I am dating X, Y and Z!' - it can just mean not lying or changing the subject it if someone asks you 'are you dating y?'. It doesn't need to mean snogging in public, but it does mean smiling and nodding when people see you together in town, rather than ducking your head down and hiding. It means walking with pride, as long as you're doing something that *you* feel is right.)

How the story 'ends' – I'm still in contact with P, but only occasionally. He went back to monogamy, and doesn't appear to have looked back. On the other hand, several years on, A is still very much a partner of mine, as well as seeing several other women, and he's still working for the same employer, who is well aware of our situation, and fine with it. So far, it's happily ever after.

Now everyone who finds themselves in a situation where they feel a need to be secretive has their reasons, and some of them are perfectly valid – there is no legal protection (yet) against discrimination towards poly people, and it takes a lot of balls to stand up and say 'this is who I am and I am proud of it'. Like [livejournal.com profile] joreth, I have chosen a line of work (as an artist) that means I am free to be just as open as I please knowing that it might lose me a client or two, but it will never lose me my job. - but what I keep on seeing time and again, in my own life and those of other people, is that it is quite astounding what even closed-minded folk will accept if you present it to them with pride and pleasure, rather than fear. Even more astounding is the difference it will make to your life, just knowing that you can stop looking over your shoulder to see who's watching.

Honestly, I think secrecy should be a last resort for people who are absolutely certain that their lives and/or families are directly at risk if they open up, and even then it makes me want to put my pointy breastplate on to charge down and rescue whoever is stuck in that situation*.

If it's only fear of public opinion stopping you, I would recommend every time, go open, march out with your head held high and smile. It's a leap of faith, but it's well worth taking.




*Sadly I don't actually have a pointy breastplate, or a charger, but I totally would if I did!
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)
Polyday happened on Saturday. After months of planning, plotting, communicating and organising, I still feel like I ought to be crossing my fingers as I speak about it, but it's over for this year, and it went well!

Read more... )

Wishing you all a happy poly year (for those who want it, at least),

Maxine.

x
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: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]I noticed this question when I logged in this morning, which inspired a brief digression.

It wasn't actually in a bar, but a coffee shop, but I have bought a drink for a stranger. It was my Australian friend's birthday, and she had asked that, rather than presents, her many long-distance friends performed a 'random act of kindness' and reported it back to her.
A particularly lovely idea, I think, and one that I intend to copy when I have chance.

My random act of kindness was to buy a drink for someone, so I trotted down to the local music cafe and asked the staff who out of their regulars would most appreciate being bought a coffee - which turned out to be a sweet but starving musician named Colin. We didn't get to be firm friends, or anything like that, but it certainly cheered up his day, and the same for everyone in the coffee shop.

I've since engaged in a few other acts of guerilla niceness, and I'd recommend it to anyone. It doesn't take much to brighten someone's day, but it made the world seem a better place for everyone there, and that's a lovely thing.


--
My most recent random act of kindness, of course, was volunteering to organise Polyday - I believe its existence makes the world a better place, at least for people like me.

Rather brilliantly, we have successfully recruited the Wet Spots (Look for them on YouTube if you don't know who they are) for the Polyday cabaret - details will be up on the website (www.polyday.org.uk) as soon as they're definite. I'm just waiting to be entirely certain that their flights are booked before I go promoting it everywhere. It should be awesome!

emanix: (tea)
I've been busy. Crazy busy. Sorting out Polyday and moving house, and everything all happening at once, and I'm not sure quite when I'll have a regular net connection again - we're due to be connected on wednesday, with a bit of luck!

Just a quick post to say yay for all of my boys - the joy of poly when it's working well really hit home today. I had that chat with A who was on a date over the weekend, and we made it up fine, and today he was driving the van for myself, Werenerd and Misterfallen. They've been the most fantastic team a girl could imagine moving house with, and despite my being a bit of a wuss (for which I forgive myself, as my last half dozen moves have been major horror stories) it's been the least stressful moving day I've ever experienced.

Went out with Misterfallen last night to see Waiting for Godot, and picked up a Moomins lollipop for my girl-sweetie, snork-maiden, too (if you can't tell by the name, she's a big fan!) I'm looking forward to presenting it to her, hopefully at our housewarming on Sunday. If I've forgotten to invite anyone please let me know - the plan is a barbecue at our new place in South London on Sunday afternoon.

Yay again for my boys! I love you all :) 

M.
emanix: (dots)
I really have no idea where to start with commenting on this article on triad relationships versus sensible poly- anyone care to start? 

(23/7/9 13:21 - edited title)

Polyday!

Jul. 15th, 2009 12:03 pm
emanix: (dots)
Apologies to anyone receiving this three times over. I wanted to share the message I sent out  this morning for the benefit of anyone not a member of bicon or polydayness on LJ, and add a couple of extra thoughts.

I haven't written much yet about polyamory and what it means to me, but I will be. Poly isn't so much a thing that I do, as what I am - it's always been a part of my self definition, despite adverse conditions, so the existence of events like Polyday is important to me - which is why I stepped in to help run it when it looked like otherwise it wasn't going to happen.

I am extremely grateful to the members of my poly 'family' who have already helped out, and got us this far down the road. Particularly [livejournal.com profile] werenerd - you've been brilliant, love.

Details of Polyday are below:

Polyday - 26th September at Dragon Hall, Central London

It's time to open up your diaries and write POLYDAY in indelible ink on the 26th of September!

This year we've put in a bit of extra work and found a lovely new venue at Dragon Hall, near Holborn (Central London). Details are on the website at www.polyday.org.uk

The schedule for the daytime event is not yet settled, but will be posted here, and on the website nearer to the day. Workshops and discussions will run from 1.30pm until 6.30pm, and will be divided into three 'threads': Poly for beginners, Advanced Poly, and Open to All.

Evening ents this year will be treated as a separate event, as we're hoping to put on something a little special - a cabaret and social, with live performances from guest entertainers. The cabaret will run from 7pm until 10.30pm.

I look forward to seeing you all!  (I hope to be at BiCon, too)

Maxine

x

emanix: (Default)
To fully understand where I am now, one has to look back to roughly the end of 2006. It was December, and I'd just broken up with the partner I'd been living with abroad. Not badly, really - we're still friends, but I wasn't going to able to carry on living there. So I visited London for a week to see if I might want to live there.
While I was in London, I happened to visit Coffee Cake and Kink, and met two people who I was very strongly drawn to. [profile] lord_don, who has since become my 'adoptive, if slightly incestuous little brother' , and [livejournal.com profile] skibbley who has since become a good, if geographically distant friend, and more than friend.

I moved to London, and had a vaguely stressful 2007, which isn't worth mentioning except for at the start of September 07 I got a note on a social networking site from [livejournal.com profile] werenerd inviting me to Polyday that year, which I failed to read until more than twelve months afterwards.

The first three-quarters of 2008 was even more horrible than the year before, but I don't need to go into that either, apart from to say that my ex-partner Alex was wonderful in looking after me right when I most needed it, and immensely patient with me, and eventually over Christmas I gave in and decided it was worth trying again as partners.

The latter part of 2008 also included me managing to attend my first Polyday, and then a week or two after the event logging into a particular site for the first time in 18 months to discover [livejournal.com profile] werenerd's note inviting me to LAST YEAR'S event. Sheer amusement prompted me to reply, which grew into a conversation after we realised we had mutual friends.
Chance, and [livejournal.com profile] skibbley led me within the same week to a 'Critical Sexology' seminar, at which I met [livejournal.com profile] snork_maiden, and also another very cool lady, [livejournal.com profile] werenerd's... well she's currently his other partner.

Fast forward a few months, to the start of April, and that's when all this stuff comes in. So Erich ([livejournal.com profile] werenerd) and I are now working together, and a whole lot else besides. Despite my initial nervousness about getting into any new relationships, particularly with a business partner*, we also seem to be... well, madly in love about describes it at the moment. He also introduced me to a whole crowd of polyamorous people, mostly on the activist-y end of the scene (- and thank heavens, I finally have a support network of poly people for the first time in my life!) and to [livejournal.com profile] misterfallen, who snuck in under the radar, *just* as I announced that I had "too many people in my life already".

Not quite three months on, I'm faced with more scary changes.

Well aware that I'm still in the full flush of 'NRE' with all but one of my two and two-half relationships, I'm finding myself looking for a new house, at the same time that [livejournal.com profile] werenerd is looking to build a 'happy poly shared house of joy' that just happens to include [livejournal.com profile] misterfallen, and a couple of other people. It's a shared house, but it's still going to contain at least one, probably two of my new partners - I'd be crazy to move in and not expect drama. Yet it's exactly what I've wanted pretty much my entire life. I've always loved group living, always wanted a big house full of people, want to live with people I know, and preferably love, and my presence provides the critical mass for the house to exist.
Despite all the apparent craziness, I'm relatively sure that it's the right thing to do. E and I have life (and world domination) plans that match amazingly well. We had been talking about creating our little poly-kinky-friendly commune already - it was part of both of our longer term plans, even before we met. Do you run away from what you want, just because it arrives at an odd time?

I'm committed to trying it, drama or no. The scariest bit is that we're spending the majority of the time we need to be house-hunting in separate countries. Out of roughly five weeks to the end of July, he's out of the country for three of them, and I'm away for one of the other two. It's going to be... interesting.

It's getting late, so to finish up for the night, I'm currently counting:
Two jobs
Two and two 'half' relationships, plus a couple of occasional sweeties.
Four houses that I have keys to (including my parents)
A huge list of projects to work on, including one city-wide, and one national level event.
One big upcoming house-move.

I'll explain the jobs and projects bit of that list later, but it's getting late now.

Wish us luck?

* I don't think any business partner has had their references checked *quite* so thoroughly, including speaking to interrogating both ex and current girlfriends.
emanix: (Default)
I have spent May working two jobs, and suddenly counting two and two-half relationships, and building a happy family around that, and not actually spending any time in my own house. It gives one very little time to wurble online. I am back down to only one day job from this week though, so look ahead to more posts, more essays, and exciting news about events I'm suddenly organising.

A recent conversation with an old friend:


"Sorry, can't talk long, we're off out to see a film for C's birthday."

"Who's C?"

"Oh, she's my other partner's other partner's other partner*."

"Um... okay..."


* Actually, she's my other other partner's other partner, too, but they don't see each other very much.

Confused? Hehe, I'm not going to draw any diagrams.


I'll be back soon, with much wordage and exciting news.

x

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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