Poly Living Keynote: audio + slides

For the curious, the audio plus sides posting is on SlideShare as well; here is the QuickTime version (bit wonky, but the best I could do in the airport):

Poly Living keynote slides

The slides from my keynote at Poly Living 2009. They’re intended to support a live presentation, so they don’t make much sense without it, but audio will hopefully follow soon.

From Poly Living 2009: Keynote slides

The audio will be edited and up soon; then, these slides will make more sense. For now:

[Edit: this is the Slideshare plus audio version:]

From Poly Living 2009: Making Lemonade: the Poly/Mono Journey

Anita Wagner and a group of couples in the round, speaking on poly-mono folks getting together:

What led you to be poly?

  • It’s a commitment to growth and opportunities for intimacy
  • What makes you poly? To Anita Wagner, if you feel you have the desire and ability to love more than one person at a time, whether you actually are at the time or not. It’s less about behavior than about identity and beliefs.
  • If I haven’t practiced but am curious by poly and fascinated by hearing about how others practice it, am I poly?
  • I am my own primary partner first. Wanting to explore intimacy to the depth of my being, not just physical but emotional intimacy as well (or instead).

What are the challenges you face in poly-mono relationships?

  • Reframing what commitment means
  • Resisting the urge to blame each other
  • Reestablishing trust
  • Figuring what to tell friends, family and children
  • Dealing with guilt from societal expectations
  • Dealing with “you deserve better than that” from others
  • For the mono partner, dealing with loneliness, shame, inferiority, confusion, feeling that the metamour is an intrusion to the relationship


  • Don’t pigeonhole monos or polys–we all do this for different reasons
  • Be aware that the metamour can get even more quality time than the existing partner because it’s set aside specifically–make sure the existing couple gets special, carved-out time, too
  • Don’t have an affair instead of talking to your partner about poly–your partner WILL find out, and trust will be destroyed
  • Don’t bring it up early and then drop the idea of poly for an extended period of time (say, 10 years) and expect your partner to be up to speed
  • Bring the subject up at least once a month for general discussion, even if you’re not actively pursuing another relationship at the time. Remember that people, their needs and their relationship dynamic changes subtly (or dramatically) over time. “I told you five years ago what I wanted” doesn’t cut it!
  • Be sure to get a good education in poly itself and in good communication skills–try Marshall Rosenburg’s Non Violent Communication

From Poly Living 2009: Diana Adams on gay/poly marriage

Diana Adams speaking briefly at Poly Living 2009:

From Poly Living 2009: Poly Weddings and Gay Marriage Rights

Diana Adams’ talk on Poly Weddings: the legal impact of same sex marriage decision on your poly family with Diana Adams. (I did record audio of this session with permission; check the Poly Weekly feed soon)

  • There is a legal bias against those who are sex-positive
  • Discussing “emotional pre-nups”–discussing what your relationship will look like and the terms of your breakup beforehand
  • She uses a forensic psychologist to help refocus on the issue of which of the parents is doing more negative parenting–the one who never puts the kid to bed or the one who does and who happens to have a locked cabinet of sex toys
  • The vibrator laws aren’t about vibrators but what it would mean if we allowed that: “You have the right to sell Tupperware, but not if there is a dildo in it.” Now focusing on how and whether these rules are actually to prevent harm.
  • Definition of “prostitution” in New York: sexual conduct for a fee. That is, whatever a judge decides is “sexual,” creating a culture of fear and shame for all workers, sexual and even sexual healers as well.

Prop 8 in California
The debate is whether this should be an actual amendment to the California constitution, which is surprisingly easy to amend. Diana argues this should be a court decision, not one put to the voting populace. There are now questions as to whether gay couples married during the legal period will still be legally married. She showed an Amicus brief from an organization associated with the religious right stating that because bisexual and polyamorous people can’t get legally married, we don’t need to give marriage rights to gays, either.

Same-Sex Marriage Debate and How It Affects Us
Diana explains how arguing that marriage is a fundamental human right actually harms the poly marriage issue. Lawrence v Texas overturned older sodomy laws, with an apology, maintaining it was undignified to afford homosexual citizens the same right to have private sex in their homes. (Does everybody know what “santorum” is?)

Two arguments being made:

  1. Sexual orientation should be a legal right as a “suspect class”, or group that has traditionally faced discrimination and thus needs protection. Saying that sexual orientation is a “suspect class” is a major step and very powerful. In states with civil unions, the argument is that allowing civil unions but not marriage for suspect classes is inherently as unfair as “separate but equal.”
  2. We ask: why aren’t we making the argument that the state shouldn’t be making marriages at all? The issue with making marriage a fundamental right is valorizing it and thus further entrenching it into our law, and we’ll no longer be able to separate church and state. This is dangerous because it’s appealing to morality and accepting the institution of marriage without examining it. We went from criminalizing to heterosexualizing our relationships.


  • We have passed the time where we link sexual relationships with economic dependency.
  • Participants recommend readings by Stephanie Koontz on the history of marriage and marriage as a tool of governmental control.

From Poly Living 2009: Compersion Immersion

Sitting at Eric Francis’ Compersion Immersion seminar here at Poly Living, my first seminar of the day (had some health issues this morning).

First memorable quote of the day: “Without embracing a journey of compersion, we are lying sacks of shit.”

Definition of “compersion” (per Eric): A transient emotion that we are capable of experiencing in a specific erotic experience.

  • It’s about embracing change and authenticity.
  • “If you don’t experience attachment or jealousy–you’re like one of those yogis that lives in a cave and breathes once in 150 years–you’re just not that common”
  • “Jealousy is the ego’s reaction to the fact that it’s being held by the short hairs over the abyss.” And its existence doesn’t really make a difference. Read more about jealousy and the abyss here.
  • “There is something profoundly erotic going on every time there is a jealous episode.” Reminds me of Damn6InchHeels, who confesses she loves to be jealous; it’s an erotic experience for her.
  • “Love and attachment are basically incompatible” Hmm. Not sure I agree with that. It’s human to form attachments and to bond. Possessiveness isn’t, but I think possessiveness and attachment aren’t the same thing.
  • Comparing avoiding jealousy to avoiding the stall when flying a plane–when flying a stalled plane, the best fix is to point the plane towards the ground, which is the least intuitive thing. When facing jealousy, fly into the stall.
  • I disagree with his definition of “attachment;” looking up the dictionary definition, which has nothing to do with not being able to live without someone or anything unnatural, unhealthy or possessive. It is simply “affectionate regard.” Trace leans over and comments that he might be using the Buddhist definition of attachment, which does in fact have a negative connotation in the sense that attachment is the source of suffering.
  • Defining compersion as letting go.
  • “In order to overcome jealousy, masturbate with your partner over and over again, like 5,000 times” to confirm one’s erotic definition is to oneself, not the other person. Once again I disagree (not that I’d mind masturbating 5,000 times, although my hand might get tired). I’m all about generously sharing sexual energy and self, and “maintaining one’s egoic shell” to me isn’t what love and vulnerability are about. And I also don’t believe that attachment is unhealthy; I believe it’s brave and significant to human experience.
  • New classification: “I’m monogamous, but… ” (I’m cheating/unhappy/not having sex, etc.)

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