PW 388: It’s not about you

judgmentcatTurns out that many argued against tolerance in the community, so let’s revisit poly policing other people’s right to self-identify

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

Poly movie review: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

7:30 Topic: It’s not about you, or everyone is doing poly wrong redux

A number of listeners commented and wrote in to argue that sure, tolerance is great—until you disagree with someone else’s definition of poly or self identity. So we brought in the big guns to reiterate the point: LustyGuy! Y’all wrote in with quite a few objections and instances in which you REALLY wanted to dispute someone else’s self-identity, including:

  1. But Minx, _____ isn’t the RIGHT definition of poly
  2. But Minx, if we don’t have one common definition of poly, we can’t communicate
  3. But Minx, the cheaters who call themselves poly hurt our cause
  4. But Minx, the cheaters who call themselves poly insult my hard-won ethical relationship

31:15 Happy Poly Moment

  • SH shares a happy poly moment of encouraging a friend to pursue the same woman
  • Em shares a happy poly moment of her two partners meeting up secretly to sign a birthday card for her

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 387: Is monogamy natural?

labkittenspolygene

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

2:00 Topic: Is monogamy natural?

Before we dive into this, what do you hope to accomplish or prove by answering this question? Do you want it to be true or untrue that human beings are naturally monogamous? Why does it matter to you, and how will it affect your behavior?

All the books I recommend are in the Poly Weekly Amazon Store under Polyamory Must Reads or For Sex Scholars.

21:00 Happy Poly Moment

Diana shared a Happy Poly Moment about getting not just tolerance but active support within a relationship with differing approaches to polyamory.

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 386: Telling the emperor he has no clothes

types-of-dishonesty-lolcat

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

  • OKCupid has added Relationship Type (mono/non-mono and mostly/strictly) under your details! Plus, you can specify “in an open relationship” (versus “seeing someone”)
  • I’ll be teaching at Debauchery April 25-27 in North Carolina

Topic: How do you tell the people you’re dating that their relationship is fucked up

G writes in to ask how to broach the topic of seeing some issues in the relationship of the couple she’s dating. If you see something unhealthy or concerning going on, is it your business? Should you just butt out? How can you tell if it’s a harmless quirk of the dynamic or a relationship-ending issue? And if you do decide to bring it up, how do you do that diplomatically?

This is a tough one! No one likes being told that their relationship appears unhealthy. But the general rules of relationship communication apply: if you see something you’re afraid to bring up, you absolutely should bring it up. But how?

I don’t have any magic plan for this one; it’s really tricky. So I applied the basic guidelines for bringing up any difficult topic:

  1. Set a time to talk
  2. Use “I” statements based on your own experience
  3. Acknowledge your limitations
  4. Refer to specific behaviors first
  5. Refer to your own experience
  6. Ask for insights

Happy Poly Moment

Harper shared a happy poly moment in which her mother chose to publicly acknowledge Harper’s poly relationship rather than avoiding it!

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 385: Everyone is doing poly wrong (the podcast!)

LustyGuy and Cunning Minx at Conflation in Wild West garb

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

4:15 Topic: Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire

lolcat_doing_it_wrong

I’ve been speaking at more conference than usual this quarter, and with getting out more comes more musing.

In particular, I’ve noticed that we poly folks can be quick to police and judge others who have different definitions from ours. My blog post on why we should stop the poly policing and promote curiosity and tolerance is here; I talk through all the major points and make a plea for stopping our tendency to be the poly police and instead focus on curiosity, understanding and tolerance of others who might practice polyamory differently from us. (Yes, even when we think they’re doing it 100% wrong!)

22:00 Feedback

Q wrote in about polyamory and Buddhism and how they relate. Your thoughts?

25:30 Happy Poly Moment

A wrote in to share a Happy Poly Valentine’s Day moment!

27:00 Thank you!

Thanks to Poly Weekly supporters Melissa, Davie and Nigel for their donations this week! Also, we welcome Madalyn to the Poly Weekly playmates!

28:30 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Everyone is doing poly wrong and needs to die in a fire

Why we all need to do a self-check for tolerance and acceptance

There is a phenomenon I’ve noticed in many of the poly communities I’ve visited, and it’s time I brought it into the light so we can all take a good, hard look at how we’re treating each other.

cat_weidLet’s start from the basic premise: those of us participating in online forums, posting opinions on blogs or Facebook and attending conferences with poly tracks are all either practicing or interested in practicing polyamory. Or non-monogamy. Or swinging. Or open marriage. Some of us are into BDSM; some of us are into science fiction; some of us are pagan. Some of us have unusual fetishes. Some of us are disabled. Some of us are white; some are African American; some are mixed race. Some of us are wildly creative and spend our lives making beautiful art, music or film and living in humble abodes. Some of us have well-paying, 9-to-5 jobs and enjoy a traditional-looking, middle- or upper-class lifestyle.

We all have opinions, some of them quite strong. And those opinions are not all the same.

But every one of us has something in common: an interest in polyamory. And because of that, we’re weird. We are not 100% mainstream. Even those of us who have traditional jobs, traditional homes and traditional hairstyles are alternative by virtue of the fact that we are interested in, are enjoying or are openly practicing some type of ethical non-monogamy.

So why are so many of us so vehement in our desire to demean, judge and exclude others?

You’re not really poly

It’s alarmingly common during any given poly discussion group or meeting for someone to come out with a definition of polyamory that condemns, criticizes or excludes some other type of practicing polyamorist. We hear, “you’re not really poly if you don’t all live together” or “you’re not really poly if you practice don’t ask/don’t tell” or “you’re not really poly if your husband isn’t also dating as many people as you are.”

To be fair, I understand why we do this. Since polyamory is an alternative relationship structure, most of us have worked very hard at defining what polyamory is for us. We try poly once and make a mess of it. We try again, and it works better, so we decide that what we did the first time was wrong. We try again, and it works better for us, so we decide that we need to advise everyone coming after us that the way we are doing it now is the right way to do polyamory, and every other way is wrong.

But please, I beg of you, let’s stop judging others so harshly, even after we’ve discovered a brand of polyamory that works for us. Before critiquing others based on your personal definitions of what poly is or isn’t, first perform a quick self-check: would you like it if someone told you you weren’t really poly? Would you want someone telling you that your marriage wasn’t real? Would you like for someone else to define what love or commitment means for you? So let’s not impose our definitions and experiences on others.

Everyone gets to choose her own label

Having the right to self-identify is empowering to the individual. It is neither appropriate nor helpful to try to take that right away from others. We let people choose their own labels for their gender identity and for their kink identity. We don’t argue if a man who has never had sex with another man chooses to identify himself as bisexual. We don’t argue if a person who appears female asks us to use the gendered pronoun “he” for address. We offer people the freedom of gender and relationship identity; let’s please extend that same courtesy to relationship orientation as well. whhha

As individuals, it is our job to find the right relationship structure that works for us. I often say that there are as many types of polyamory (and monogamy) as there are people involved in those relationships. Everyone practices monogamy a bit differently; no two relationships look exactly the same when you delve under the surface.

The same is true for polyamory, for non-monogamy, swinging and open relationships. While there are some commonalities to those definitions, every person or group defines his own polyamory in a slightly different way. We each find a brand of non-monogamy that works for us, and we customize it to our specific situation.

So let’s please stop spending our time looking at other people’s relationships and telling them that they aren’t “really” polyamorous. Let’s give people the courtesy of self-exploration and let’s empower each individual to self-label however she sees fit.

In the BDSM world, there is a philosophy that folks are encouraged to embrace. Since BDSM involves exposure to a plethora of fetishes and kinks that we may only not share but may actively dislike, folks are encouraged to be accepting. Even when exposed to a kink that incites disgust, we are encouraged to embrace the notion of “your kink isn’t my kink, but your kink is OK.” Let’s please do that with polyamory as well. Let’s stop spending our time judging others and telling them they are doing poly wrong and simply agree to say:

Your polyamory is not my polyamory, but your polyamory is OK.

Two powerful tools

When someone is kind enough to share with you his poly situation, it is our job to listen, to ask questions and to offer support if asked for it. Labels are the beginning of a discussion and an invitation to ask more questions, not the be-all and end-all. So when someone says, “I’m polyamorous,” my favorite tool to whip out is:

Tool #1: “Cool! So what does that mean to you?”

I believe it’s not anyone’s job (including mine!) to judge and tell someone she is doing poly wrong. Criticism like that only serves to puff up the speaker with a sense of power and to disempower the person sharing his story. If you truly believe that someone you’re speaking with is doing something horribly wrong, a good way to offer an option without judging is, “My experience has been… ” and share your story. See? No judgment necessary.

Tool #2: “My experience has been… “

One caveat, since I know someone will ask: yes, I do have a personal belief about a “wrong” way to do polyamory based on the dictionary definition involving the “full knowledge and consent of all parties involved.” So if, for example, a person self-identifies as poly and has an additional partner that his wife is unaware of, I personally am more inclined to label that “cheating” rather than polyamory due to the fact that his wife doesn’t have knowledge and therefore can’t consent. However, my response is not “you’re not really poly” but rather, “In my experience, poly tends to work best when everyone involved is honest, open and consenting. Have you tried talking with your wife about that?” to open up a conversation rather than impose a judgment.

Share stories, not judgments

story-lolcatI’m a big believer that sharing stories makes us all stronger. Sharing experiences of love, hope and failure in both the poly and monogamous world help all of us to understand what we are going through better and to feel, if nothing else, that we are not alone in our struggles to understand ourselves and the lifestyles we have chosen. So I believe in the power of sharing stories and asking questions rather than offering judgments.

I’ve read a few assertions from intelligent poly folk of late that claim that anyone who defines poly or poly family as [fill in the blank] is wrong and needs to “die in a fire” because that doesn’t match the writer’s or speaker’s own experience.

I don’t know about you, but I dislike it when someone who isn’t in my shoes and who hasn’t lived my life tries to tell me what my poly experience should be. It brings to mind right-wing extremists who claim that they have the right to define what marriage is for everyone else. Or what “family” or “family values” are for everyone else.

If we don’t want others to define marriage or family for us, let’s not do that to each other. The person who gets to define your brand of polyamory is YOU. No one else. And the ONLY person for whom you get to define polyamory is you. Share your definition with your loves, your partners and anyone who asks for it, but please don’t impose it on others or judge others who have chosen to do poly a different way from you. Offer to listen; offer support; offer discussion,;offer your own anecdotes. But please do not offer judgments or critiques. We have the aforementioned right-wing extremists for that.

If you don’t like it when others judge your lifestyle, maybe you should stop judging theirs.

What is right for you?

If you are lucky enough to have found a brand of non-monogamy, polyamory, swinging or open relationships that works for you, GREAT! Many of us take months or years to figure out what we need in order to be happy and healthy in our relationships. And please do share that with others when asked: many of us are looking for models, ideas and roadmaps that might work for us.

So please, share rather than critique. Listen rather than judge. And communicate your definition as an option rather than imposing it as a rule.

And as a final word, absolutely no person or concept should “die in a fire” or “burn in hell.” Let’s just say “My experience has been… “

PW 384: Graydancer update

graydancerRemember Graydancer from the early episodes? What has he been up to?

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

6:20 Interview: Graydancer!

If you’ve been listening since the beginning, you might be missing Graydancer. We caught up at Winter Wickedness and found out what Graydancer has been up to!

The Ropecast

Love Life Practice

Graydancer.com

25:45 Feedback

Q wrote in about episode 381 Poly rope-a-palooza to say he discovered something interesting about rope

28:00 Happy Poly Moment

33:00 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 383: Poly for Valentine’s Day

valentines day lolcatHow do you celebrate Valentine’s Day as a “secondary”?

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

13:45 Topic: Poly for Valentine’s Day

A from New Orleans wrote in to ask about how to celebrate this sexy and very couples-oriented holiday when you are in a poly relationship. Who gets the chocolate and flowers and who gets the shaft? How does a “secondary” celebrate this sexy holiday without feeling crappy!

Check out the solo poly blog

Check out these previous Poly for the Holidays segments; the same rules apply to sexy holidays as to family holidays:

Also, keep these basic guidelines in place:

  • Ask you partners for what they want: what makes a great Valentine’s Day for you? OK? Bare minimum?
  • Say what you want.
  • Coordinate with your partners to make sure everyone gets pretty close to what he/she wants.

21:30 Feedback

  • J wrote in that Episode 379 Owning your own shit was a good refresher course
  • Doug wrote in to say that episode 380 reminded him that all relationships—including with friends and exes, require nurturing and attention

24:20 Happy Poly Moment

J wrote in to share a great HPM of a partner offering to host a metamour in order to give J time alone!

Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

8 Things I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory

I’m here at Winter Wickedness for the first time and having a great time! Thanks to everyone who came out to this session today.

And this was also my first time presenting a shiny, brand-new class: Eight Things I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory (Before I Tried It and Fucked It Up). The full presentation is below:

And if you’re interested in having me present at your event, contact Minx at Poly Weekly

Kicking Poly Drama in the Ass

Want to avoid poly drama? We had a great time at Winter Wickedness discussing what “drama” actually is and how to kick it on its ass for a drama-free poly relationship.

Full deck below:

And if you’re interested in having me present at your event, contact Minx at Poly Weekly

PW 382: Poly for realz

pick me lolcatHow do you deal with the reality of bringing up poly with a partner and with choosing partners that are poly-friendly?

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

  • Minx will be teaching two sessions at Winter Wickedness February 7-8 in Columbus, Ohio! Classes will include Kicking Poly Drama on Its Ass and Eight Things I Wish I’d Known about Poly (Before I Tried and Fucked It Up). Both are new classes and hopefully will fit into the kink venue!
  • The wacky poly-friendly Butterfinger Superbowl commercial got quite a negative reaction, but Dan Savage praised it as monogamish
  • The movie Her is about a guy who falls in love with his AI and has some poly messaging, including “I’m yours, and I’m not yours”

7:30 Topic: Poly for realz and partner selection

B wrote in to ask about how to deal with actively dating and possibly attracting partners who might not identify as poly. A great episode is always Getting Over the Poly Hump, even though B has been open for quite a few years. Focus on more communication, not less and yes, 99% of successful poly is partner selection.

Also, P from NY state asks about how to bring polyamory up to a partner he’s been seeing for a while. Minx recommends the poly hump podcast and also considering poly an ongoing conversation rather than a one-time, all-or-nothing deal.

22:50 Feedback

  • Episode 379 Owning your own shit got a lot of feedback!
  • Vaughn comments that saying something out loud often mitigates the issue
  • Heather asks where to draw the line on disclosing one’s emotions

27:50 Happy Poly Moment

  • Hayley wrote in with a very cute car analogy to deal with a partner’s possessiveness
  • S in Australia shared a moment of poly joy as his partners found a shared interest in architecture and design

31:45 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

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