November 7, 2012

Marked: Damaged Goods, Return to Sender

Recently, an old and dear friend of mine let me know that he is interested in dating me. And instead of being flattered and flirtatious or flattered but graciously decline (which are my normal responses to advances from someone so familiar and beloved to me), I just felt anxious and uncomfortable because I am still more emotionally damaged from a previous relationship than I care to admit.

Allow me to begin at the beginning. Though, bear with me since much of this is my first attempt to articulate this to anyone outside of my own head.

My issues from childhood with my then-teenaged mother are many and varied. In my young, formative years, I learned that my feelings were invalid and to be kept to myself. Sharing negative feelings directed at my mother or at anyone 'above me' or in a position of authority led to reprimand, ridicule and/or manipulation from my mother. Based on this very important mother/daughter relationship in my early life, I learned to be quiet and agreeable in order to minimize physical and emotional abuse. Later, I came to the conclusion that love could only be given to me with a healthy dose of scorn and that my trust WILL BE betrayed. As a very depressed teenager, I made a silent promise to never allow someone to have as much access or power over me as I gave to my mother. As a result, for most of my life I've had issues with being emotionally open and available with those close to me.(It is programming that I have consciously worked very hard to overcome as an adult. I'm not always successful.)

Fast forward about 10 years.

I started doing a lot of introspection, examining many of my philosophies. Reconsidering love and relationships was part of that, including allowing myself to be vulnerable. When I decided to try polyamory and a power exchange relationship for the first time with a couple I had known for a couple of years, we spent many months discussing fears, goals, and expectations. When asked what my main fear was in entering into this relationship, my response was something along the lines of, "I am afraid of being emotionally vulnerable for fear of being manipulated through them. I'm afraid of being taken advantage of through my submission and I'm afraid of having it all used against me." By the end of my 8-month relationship with The Husband, each of these fears came true. Once again, my trust had been betrayed.

While I'd learned a lot about myself during the course of that relationship with someone who described himself as "an extremely selfish and manipulative person," (verbatim, on multiple occasions) those hard-earned lessons not only reopened old wounds, they created a few new ones that are still tender today. I found myself newly repulsed by the men that I didn't know well and entirely disinterested in all others, particularly those whom identified as dominant (and even more particularly those dominant men with certain mannerisms, attitudes, and a few other specific physical and personality traits). For me, all of them were unsuitable relationship material because they felt unsafe, untrustworthy, and placed the happiness of others secondary to their own. I understood that these generalizations were based in my own fears as a reaction to a short-lived relationship, but I didn't care. Nearly three years later, I still cling to these fears along with my irrational generalizations.

Fast forward to today.

I can no longer find my bottom headspace that was so raw and cathartic before. I just cannot give of myself in that way anymore. Handing over that type of control, even temporarily, triggers the unpleasantness of fear and panic. Simply interacting on a social level with some self-identified dominant men makes me uncomfortable. I was once flirtatious and playful, indulging in the exchange. Now, I just feel awkward and unsure and I choose to withdraw by redirecting the conversation or excusing myself.

Which leads me to my discomfort and anxiety over my dear friend's interest. He is a self-identified dominant man and it scares me that my emotional reaction to him was so negative. It has forced me to realize that I am far more damaged than I wanted to believe and that even my relationships with close male friends is being jeopardized. I hate that my ex and our relationship still affects me this much in this way. And I feel so impotent because I don't know how to unfeel my repulsion or disinterest. I don't know how to get past these issues. They're a form of protection and self-preservation is a difficult instinct to override...


August 27, 2012

Am I My Boyfriend's Keeper?

Kare gets propositioned far more often than I do! I think it's pretty funny - in an ironic sort of way - considering that I am the one who identifies as poly and open to more relationships, while he identifies as monogamish and hasn't shown much interest in having other relationships, sexual or otherwise. The universe has a warped sense of humor, I tells ya lol.

At this time, Kare and I do not have a power exchange relationship outside of specific scenes. So, I find it strange when women come to me in casual, non-play settings to ask if they can play with him. I often respond with, "Kare's body is his own. If you'd like to play with him, you have to ask him if he's ok with that." I imagine these women are asking me out of respect or consideration for my relationship with Kare and I can appreciate the sentiment. But really, I mostly feel confused by their request. I expect Kare to make his own decisions when it comes to something that is inherently his, like his time and his body. I am not his handler or his pimp. Kare knows of what agreements our relationship consists and I expect him to uphold them. So if he needs to discuss or get permission for something (or someone) he's interested in, I expect him to ask me. (I was entirely offended once when someone asked Kare if they could engage in a certain sex act with me, instead of asking me when I was standing right there!)

Maybe it's just the phrasing of the question that I find so confusing. Perhaps when they ask, "Can I play with him?" what they mean is, "Would you mind if I ask him to play?" and I should respond to that question instead since it makes more sense to me. Or maybe I'm just weird and my expectations in these situations are outside of the norm. (It wouldn't be the first time that I was the weirdo in the room lol.)

Which brings me to a few questions. If you have been in a non-monogamous relationship or if you can imagine yourself in a non-monogamous relationship:

Do you expect people to ask you for permission to play/date/fuck/etc your partner(s)? Why or why not? Is this expectation/non-expectation situational?

Has someone asked you for permission to be with your partner(s)? How do you respond to the request and why?

July 2, 2012

Why Friends Make The Best Lovers

Ever since I was a teenager, I've noticed that I tend to choose partners from among my group of friends. When I first realized this, I was a little weirded out and thought it bizarre... but I had also noticed that my partner selection was greatly improved.

1. My friends are people with whom I have many things in common, from interests and hobbies to ethics and values. They are fun and interesting people.

2. I really get to know what kind of person they are (how they handle conflict, their goals, etc) without an expectation for our friendship to be anything more. It's a very low-pressure way to get to know someone and allows for any relationship to develop organically.

3. While I can be physically attracted to someone without knowing them (I've enjoyed many one-night-stands), I do not become emotionally invested in someone unless I've spent a significant amount of time around them.

4. All of my romantic relationships must begin with friendship. I don't know how to build a relationship on any other foundation.

Not all of my friendships become romantic relationships (matter-of-fact, most of them do not), nor do I choose friends based on any romantic relationship potential. But I have noticed that I am more likely to be interested in a friend than a stranger. Given how emotional attachment works for me and my process for starting a romantic relationship, it has been the easiest and most effective method.

How do you meet potential partners?

June 5, 2012

The Light That Flows Through Everything

One of the main points of conflict that I have seen in mono/poly relationships is each partner trying to understand how the other experiences love. For example, a monogamous person explaining to their polyamorous partner that romantic love is exclusive and that "sharing" it with more than one person cheapens it. While the polyamorous person explains to their monogamous partner that love is multiplied when shared, not divided and that each connection is unique and special and, therefore, not "shared." This is a very dangerous difference in world views between partners and can possibly end a relationship.

My mono/poly relationship with Kare (roughly pronounced Kah-reh. It is Japanese for boyfriend. I thought it a fitting nickname for him in my journal since he is half Japanese) has never encountered this particular conflict. From the beginning, Kare has accepted that this is how I love. I'm not sure that he fully understands the way that I love, but he has never questioned it. He doesn't appear to need or care to understand poly to know that I love - him and anyone else - with all that I have. Perhaps it's because I had the advantage of explaining poly to him and showing poly to him from the very beginning of our relationship. (I had a serious partner when I met Kare, so it gave me the chance to demonstrate to him that I can maintain healthy, loving, concurrent romantic relationships.)

Based on how supportive, encouraging, and understanding he's been of my other relationships, I have always been bewildered by Kare's monogamous identity (or monogamish identity, to be more accurate). Personally, I think he is in a transitional period and is currently unsure of how to identify so he uses that label because it is the one with which he is most familiar and comfortable. (I have shared this theory with him.) For example, he has a very doting friendship with Ryder, a mutual friend of ours. He has let me and her know that he has the biggest crush on her and they are absolutely adorable and cuddly in each others' company. If she were open to a romantic relationship with him, I'm sure he'd be open to dating her in addition to me. But he doesn't recognize his openness to such an arrangement as being poly-minded. He seems to believe that poly is a state of circumstances (how many partners you currently have) rather than a state of mind (views on love and relationships). (With me for a girlfriend, I have no idea why he holds such a belief.)

On the other hand, he can have very mononormative views. For example, we both love to laugh, even at our own expenses so we often playfully rib each other. After a particularly good time (in which I had bested him), I started to tease him about how awesome I am. The banter went something like this:

Me: "You hit the jackpot when you met me and you will never have another girlfriend as cool or as funny."
Him: "Well, to test your theory, I'm going to break up with you and check out my options."
Me: "The joke is on you. You don't have to break up with me if you want to date other people. You're just stuck with cool and funny me. Sucker."
Him: "Oh yeah. You're poly like that. You're the worst girlfriend ever for ruining my joke."

Regardless of how he identifies or expresses his love, I am appreciative that he supports my identity and expression so surely and unwaveringly. However, there definitely appears to be some sort of cognitive dissonance between his conscious and unconscious thinking. Reconciling the two can be a long and arduous journey. I look forward to joining him on his path of discovery and supporting him in his choices as fully as he has supported me in mine.

May 26, 2012

Suck My Cockiness, Lick My Persuasion

Last year, Kare and I decided that we would begin negotiations to establish a power exchange relationship. However, due to his demands at work, we decided to shelf the idea until the summer.

Now that summer is practically here, Kare has brought up the idea again. The only problem is... I don't think I want to go through with it. Or, more accurately, I don't think I want to go through with it with him. As wonderful and accommodating and acquiescent of a boyfriend as Kare is, he would make a terrible submissive for me - and I have a year's worth of evidence to support this statement.


  • My first assignment was for each of us to define how we view the roles commonly found within bdsm. It was a fairly simple and practical assignment. He wasn't required to write anything down and the definitions didn't require any research. The information was to be taken from his own understanding and beliefs on the topic. As I thoroughly explained to him, this assignment was meant to be a way to understand what each of us was asking going into negotiations to ensure that we were speaking the same language. And he didn't do it.
  • Kare has a few bad habits that frequently frustrate him and effect him negatively to the point that he has asked me to help him make improvements. For example, he is a terrible procrastinator. He'll stay up until 2am (when he has to be to work at 7am) doing work that should only take him 2 hours (at most) because instead of being productive, he is dicking around on his computer. I have gone so far as to offer to split his work with him to cut down on actual work time for him significantly. All he has to do is work on it before I go to bed, which is generally between 10pm and 11pm. I will remind him several times throughout the evening of my offer to help (as well as his request for my help), the advancing hour, and my upcoming bed time. To this, I am usually met with one of three reactions from him: superficial excuses, visible annoyance, or I am brushed off entirely. (Mind you, he asked this of me.)


These behaviors show me that he is not ready or not interested in the type of power exchange relationship that I would like to pursue. Based on his actions, I am under the impression that he wants all of the fun/play and none of the work required. This saddens me because I would be thrilled to share a meaningful bdsm relationship with someone that I love so much. But his blatant disregard for me in this context triggers highly negative emotions in me including hurt, disrespect, disgust, and resentment.

So, I guess when we actually move to talk about this I will share my observations with him and, instead, suggest that we limit our bdsm interactions to within temporary and defined scenes (play), with minimum to no power exchange involved. This has been our set up in the past and, while it's not as encompassing and, in some ways, less fulfilling for me, it still meets some needs. It will still allow us to connect on this intimately kinky level, it provides both of us with a certain release and, for me, it will provide practice as a Top.

If he is interested in a power exchange relationship, I will encourage him to search for someone more compatible for him in this regard since I want to see him fulfilled and happy on his own kinky terms. It is an option I plan to keep open for myself as well.

(Note: If you want to view the FetLife threads that I started on the topic, you can find them here: Submissive men and the women who love them ; Ask a Dominant Questions ; Femdom Group. There have been some very interesting comments shared if you care to have a look.)

May 18, 2012

Risk and Reward

My world has included a whirlwind of emotional events over the last several months.

I am very good friends with one of the kink community leaders in my area. I finally told her about my experience with Husband that included non-consensual sexual contact on multiple occasions. In turn, she told me that several other women have complained about Husband to various leaders with instances ranging from the minor (such as aggressive disregard of personal space that made them uncomfortable) to the major (such as unsafe play practices and non-consensual sexual contact). She also informed me that none of the women were willing to come forward to validate the claims since he was considered a leader in our local community.

So I decided to speak out.

The community leaders launched an investigation. By the end, 8 separate and independent statements were made where women were either permanently scarred from unsafe play or sexually violated, all of which included a disregard for boundaries and/or consent.

Later, there was a leadership meeting held where the most active and prominent groups were represented and - by unanimous vote - asked Husband to step down as group leader for the better of the community due to the controversial claims. He did not step down and, as such, his group is no longer endorsed by the community.

A new group has been formed and sanctioned and I have accepted a position on the leadership board.

I am extremely lucky to have received such support and encouragement from leadership and the (majority of) members of my local community. I am forever grateful that my statements and those of other women were taken seriously given the prevalence of rape culture (which I did experience, albeit minimally) that is disturbingly prevalent in the kink community (of all places!).

The icing on the cake was when Wife called me and said she had finally left him and was leaving town. She thanked me and apologized for not hearing me earlier (which I told her was unnecessary) and promised that she'd be in touch once she felt ready. I told her that I was extremely happy for her and wished her nothing but happiness with someone more deserving of a beautiful and compassionate person like herself.

On top of that on-going-but-mostly-concluded saga, I have been asked to help coordinate a national kink event, my first ever! I am excited and flattered to be trusted with such a responsibility as well as a bit overwhelmed and nervous. I have also decided to volunteer to be a Dungeon Monitor for a new and growing local community-ran dungeon (which includes being on-site security and policing the safety of scenes during play, another first for me). Not to mention, I have been accepted by a major kink site to aid in customer service issues.

Yeah, I don't know how I'm going to juggle all of this either lol.

February 21, 2012

BFD

I am SO SICK of the argument about whether humans are naturally monogamous or naturally polyamorous when it comes to debating relationship structures. Outside of an anthropological discussion, I see no relevance this has on the relationships between cognitive adults. People that operate based solely on primal urges - consequences be damned! - are known as sociopaths.

I often find that the certification of "naturalness" in one's choice is meant to validate that option and show others that their choices are unnatural and invalid. Frankly speaking, I don't give a flying shit about how natural or unnatural my choices are in relation to the evolution of my species. I don't classify my sexuality and the expression thereof under "mating habits." I do not reference the Hominid Timeline when determining the structure and function of my relationships and how many I should have. Your argument - no matter how cogent and well cited - is wasted on me.

My response to you is, "Big fucking deal."

February 16, 2012

Your Opinion Doesn't Matter

I am always a bit surprised to see people in the kink, poly, and other sex-positive communities proclaim that someone else is “doing it wrong” or isn’t a “real” or “true” so-and-so simply because the other approach doesn’t corroborate their own.

I have seen the term ‘vanilla’ used as an insult and monogamy looked down on as being limiting or less enlightened. I have seen sex workers, like pro-doms and escorts, denigrated and treated as lepers because of their choice in profession. These experiences are invalid because you (the universal ‘you‘) assume your way is the proper way.

Isn’t that what most of us experience from the mainstream? We are often invalidated and ostracized for what happens between consenting adults.

So what makes it acceptable when you do it? Who are you to define the identity and experiences of others?

Does anyone else recognize the hypocrisy in this?

I have shed a lot of guilt imposed upon me by social conditioning regarding the things that bring me happiness and pleasure as well as a lot of my own judgments towards others by making a conscious effort to recalibrate my thinking. Because of my “unconventional” desires in love, sex and relationships, over the years, I have learned to frame my choices as well as the choices of others in terms of 'consensual' and 'nonconsensual' rather than “right way” or “wrong way.” In the process, I have gained a whole new understanding and value in the experiences of others, even when those experiences involve terms to which I wouldn’t personally agree.

So consider this my public service announcement. When it comes to how others choose to enjoy sex, experience love and structure their relationships YOUR OPINION DOESN'T MATTER.

January 18, 2012

If You Build It, They Will Come

One of the most common questions asked by newcomers to the poly world is some variation of, "How do I find other polys?" The most common answer to this question is, "Attend local poly social events. Can't find a local social event? Create one!"

That's what I decided to do. In my corner of the world, the poly scene exists but it is overlooked and underdeveloped. For the last six months, I have been working to change that. I have created a poly group with the goal of making the community more visible and to help what is already here to grow. For the last two months, I have worked with fellow polys to help organize a meet and greet that has been very successful (the most attended poly event in the area, actually) with requests for more. If all goes well, it will become a monthly event.

I am also trying to organize a monthly poly discussion group. I'm hoping to create an interactive and diverse dialogue where polys can come and ask questions as well as share advice and other experiences. Hopefully, it will be very helpful to have real life examples of the many different ways others define and structure their poly and deal with personal or relationship issues. The community could be it's own resource. There seems to be a wide appeal and serious interest in this idea from my fellow polys. A few sex-positive venues have already offered their space for our events, too!

It's crazy. I've never so much as planned a party at my house before, now I'm creating and organizing community events.

How surreal.

January 11, 2012

This Communication Has Been Compromised

My discussion with Kare (regarding how some of my needs are currently not being met in the relationship) went very well!

Kare had no idea the affect this situation was having on me (as I suspected) and he was noticeably distressed to learn that I was feeling frustrated, resentful and distant. It turns out we have very different standards for what qualifies as time together. He considers us being in the same space - even if we're not interacting - as spending time together to an extent, which is obviously very different from how I define it because that setting doesn't even exist on my Together Time radar (hereforto known as Quality Time to emphasize the distinction). Now that he understands this difference in our needs, he has already begun to adjust some of his behaviors to accommodate me.

He wasn't very agreeable to the solution that I suggested since my idea significantly reduces the amount of time we spend in the same space, so we came up with a compromise that will (hopefully) work for both of us going forward:

  • I don't mind if he spends time on the computer at my place as long as he takes a break every few hours (4 is the limit) to spend some quality time with me. Also, I'm not interested in policing his computer time (I'm not his mother) so if I feel like he's consistently not holding to this agreement, I will revert to the solution that I originally suggested and we'll have to discuss our relationship from there.
  • We will have a weekly date night and a monthly (at the very least) social night. (He liked this idea.)

I am very thankful that I have a compassionate boyfriend that is willing to compromise so that each of us gets what we need from our relationship. As I playfully tell him all the time:  He's the best boyfriend ever!... except when he's the worst :p

January 3, 2012

All The Way Turned Up


For the last several months, Kare has been obsessed with an online game (that I foolishly introduced him to lol) - and that's putting it mildly. He spends 95% of his free time playing this game instead of taking care of other responsibilities such as preparing documents for work or spending time with me. Generally, I do not interrupt him while he's playing the game even though it is something he can do for 12 hours straight on his days off. To avoid feeling neglected by him, I've asked that he take 30 - 60mins to spend uninterrupted quality time with me at some point during the day.

While Kare has provided me with my quality time (as long as I request the time, because he never volunteers it), I have told him that I still feel ignored. However, the importance of this matter and the affect it is having on me does not seem to be registering with Kare because he hasn't changed any habits associated with playing this game.

The definition of insanity is doing the SAME thing and expecting a DIFFERENT result so I think it's time for a different approach. For the last few days, I have taken the time to identify which of my specific needs are not being met and what I can do to meet them. Since Kare has demonstrated that he is unwilling to change his behavior to help me meet these needs, it's up to me to change my behaviors and communicate a more structured boundary regarding "us" time that I need for a continued healthy and fulfilling relationship with him. This will include not tolerating computer use at my house or during "us" time, not accepting an offer for his company after 7pm on weekdays (because he'll be ready for bed at that time, not to hang out), a date night, and a social night.

These conditions may mean a significant reduction in the amount of time we currently spend together (he usually sleeps over every night) but it's the best compromise I can offer based on the circumstances. I've also determined that I don't mind minimum to no interaction when we are not together nor do I mind how much time we spend "not-together" as long as we have a weekly date night and a monthly social night.

To facilitate a more neutral and compassionate environment of giving and receiving, here is my issue framed using non-violent communication that I plan on presenting to Kare (so some of the language may reflect that):

When we go out (either alone or with friends), I've noticed that you are affectionate, attentive and actively engage in conversation with myself and others. When we are at home, I've noticed that the affection, attention and conversation are minimum to non-existent unless I specifically request your time [per the agreement I stated previously]. All activities: waking up, going to sleep, and everything in-between are done with little contact between us.

I feel distant when we spend all day in the same house and take only 30 - 60 mins to interact with each other. I feel frustrated that I am usually the one that initiates our interaction on these days. I am beginning to feel very resentful that the majority of your focus goes to non-work related computer time. Since a large portion of our time together is spent at home, I am experiencing these negative emotions for a significant portion of any given day.

My need for companionship, intimacy and bonding with my partner are not being met when we spend so much time in the same space and so little time engaged in each others company.

What I would like to happen is:
  • Spend time actively engaged with each other and/or sharing in activities when we are together.
  • When we spend time at my place, I'd like for computers to be off-limits.
  • I'd like at least one date per week that lasts a minimum of three hours, with at least one hour of that time dedicated for just you and me. If it's on a weekday, I'd prefer if "us" time begins no later than 7pm.
  • I'd like at least one social night per month where we are together and spend time with our friends.
  • If you need/want to use your computer for work or play, I would like for that to be handled during "not-us" time and at your own home.
These are not demands, but rather a statement of what I would like to see happen. If any of the above is not possible, I am happy to negotiate something that would work better for both of us.

I'm hoping that by turning up the communication (not the volume), he'll be better able to hear me.