Posts Tagged ‘mini interviews’

The Great Reader Mini-Interview, Part Eight: Creating an Active Fantasy Life, It’s Okay to Be Butch, and “You’re Fucking Gay”

January 24, 2014  |  miscellany  |  3 Comments

And thus concludes the Great Reader Mini Interview series of 2013!

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and engagement and ideas. I have loved reading every one of your responses and recommendations. I have dreams of compiling a big list of blog URLs and recommended books and sources that changed your lives. We’ll see if I can get that done. I have such limited time and SO many project ideas, ya know? Everything I choose to do means choosing NOT to do something else.

And likewhoa, the Submissive Playground has taken up way more time than I expected. I mean, of course it did, doing a course for the first time always takes so much work to create the curriculum, and having something ongoing means I have even more room to tweak it and change it based on what the participants need, as it goes on. Which has been amazing, but also a lot of work. I am almost seeing the end of the course now, though, since there’s only one more full week of materials to prepare, and then the wrap-up call! (I’m still behind on grading homework, however. That’s on my MITs for today.)

If you sent in a mini interview for this series, and you haven’t seen your name here, I’m sorry! I very well may have overlooked it, somehow. Or maybe it didn’t get into the Google forms spreadsheet, somehow. I promise it was an accident—the only folks I didn’t include were those of you who wrote to me and specifically asked not to be printed. I would welcome you writing me with, “Hey, I submitted a mini-interview, but I didn’t see it; do you still have it?” kind of question if you want to (you probably know how to reach me, but my email isn’t really on the site anymore because I’m trying to get my inbox under control).

I love reading your advice and resources, so much. Thank you, everybody. I would really love to keep the conversations going … do you think if we had a monthly chat, in an online IRC kind of chatroom, y’all would come and talk to me? Rife & I were talking about it like a “fireside chat” kind of thing, so there should be tea or cocktails or something, but y’all would have to provide those for yourself.

Okay! On to the mini-interviews:

—–

What’s your relationship with sugarbutch.net and Sinclair?

I started reading your blog over a year ago. I had just come out to a dear friend– a very conservative straight female friend. Being the woman she is, she decided to google many things LGBT and found your site. She asked me about it, and since I hadn’t seen it before, she insisted that I read it and get to “know” you. A true friend.

—Annie Anthony, http://annieanthony.com

I won a copy of Say Please at a burlesque show and it opened the flood gates. And I’m not just talking about how wet it made me. I realized what I had been missing and the kinky, leather, submissive, masochist inside me would be ignored no longer! After reading The Harder She Comes, and Sometimes She Lets Me and seeing your name in all three I landed here. So obviously my favorite parts of Sugarbutch are the naughty bits. I love erotica because I always get to play the leading lady in my mind when I read.

—Summer, https://www.facebook.com/summer.r.banks

I have, as you know, been a long-time reader. I began reading Sugarbutch when I was in a hetero-relationship, maybe about 5 years ago (have you been publishing that long? I know you had been around for a little while already because I devoured the archives when I found you.) I was somewhat questioning my sexuality at the time, knew I was attracted to women- and so did my partner- but I was not out to many other people. … It’s been an interesting trajectory, to say the least, and I have also gone through some of the same stuff as you over the same-ish time frame, in terms of leaving my long-term partner and staying with a new partner who I met & started dating while in the long-term relationship. It was through being a reader of Sugarbutch that I first started to create this active fantasy life, including the desire for a Daddy/girl relationship (I believe you introduced this concept to me) which I now am living out with my partner.

Not only was your writing a great outlet for yummy lesbian smut and D/s dynamic when I was not getting any of that kind of sex, but your honest writing about your own relationships and your thoughtful introspection about power/self/learning/loving has been essential to my own growth and moving through what I needed to move through during that time in my life, in order to come out and to be comfortable with who I am.

—cravatica, http://titlesareeasy.Blogspot.com

What advice would you give your younger self about sex, gender, or relationships?

Don’t worry, it’ll all sort out, one thing at a time. Oh, and Lesbians do totally exist; so you are fu**ing normal.

(Just as a small explanation: as a teen I was kind of questioning my gender, since I am a woman attracted to woman but only knew (at the time) that it was not okay to feel this way (hello Homophobia). So I spend a lot of my time thinking about gender, power and such stuff. Which is okay, since it is a really fascinating topic, but I just wished that back than someone would have told me that it is okay to be butch. And that there are a quadrillion ways to express oneself, so you don’t have to become the girl next door stereotype.)

(I hope I made sense!)

—Max Vague, http://droemmelig.tumblr.com

Don’t spend too much time in relationships with cismen because they aren’t really your thing. You know you’re not satisfied w just girls on the side and you’ll get to the good stuff if you stop cockblocking yourself with cisdudes. Don’t spend too much time with people who don’t want to help draw out & make real your dirtiest desires from your shy self.

YOU ARE (mostly) A BOTTOM; DON’T DATE OTHER BOTTOMS!!!

—keta, http://papismija.tumblr.com

I would tell myself that there is less need to wait, that you are already whole and that the parts of yourself that feel freaky, incongruent, vulnerable and broken will be amongst your greatest beauties (especially when they awaken compassion). I would encourage my younger self to keep up the sexual self-exploration, that it will pay off in spades. I would encourage that younger self to honor that precocious gender-resistance and keep the girl-boy-girl-feral internal parts in conversation and alive; you’ll find others soon enough. I would also encourage my younger self to open up, share and to trust those few friends a bit more, that healthy, joyful, hot, loving relationships *are* possible, despite what you see all around. Oh, and PS, Austin is full of queers. Call OutYouth Austin, right now.

delightful wigglepuss, https://www.facebook.com/kim.lasdon

Dear Baby Summer,

You are going to spend a lot of time looking for the right penis. You will be convinced if you just sleep with enough men you’ll find the one that does it for you. You want so badly to find the nice man to marry and make babies with in a gated community. Here’s the thing… you don’t ACTUALLY want that, it’s just the only thing you’ve ever known. The moment that you meet people who have a different model for love and life your eyes start to open. The reason you are obsessed with the movie But I’m a Cheerleader is you’re fucking gay. This was the first example of young, queer ladies you’d ever seen in film and you latched onto it like a fucking gay life saver in a sea of hetero. It still takes you a few years to realize you don’t just “think girls are pretty”. Even after fucking a few you aren’t convinced you want to be in a relationship with a lady. And that’s ok. All in good time my pretty. You will eventually realize the right penis is actually a strap-on cock and while you weren’t sure you wanted to be in a relationship with a lady, being a butch’s girl is right where you belong. You are going to be so happy when you open your mind and your heart. And you’re going to cum a lot more.

—Summer, https://www.facebook.com/summer.r.banks

Fuck gender; do what you want. Pronouns aren’t the important things, or names, and breasts come off regardless of gender if you find the right surgeon. Love vintage hair cuts because they are comfortable and awesome, and your voice because it can do so much, and being a member of a community of women because there is similarity, strength, vulnerability and kinship there. Don’t worry what labels any of those things earn you; the labels matter to some people, but it’s okay that they don’t. Gender is a myth built around embodied truth, but still just a myth, and your truth can be something the myth-writers never imagined.

As for relationships, as wonderful as it feels to be someone’s whole world, that’s what puppies are for. There are things called “boundaries” and you really ought to develop some or you will lose yourself attempting the impossible. On the other hand, don’t be afraid of heart break. There are worse things than a broken heart.

Finally, there is no such thing as a “failed” relationship; there are just relationships that end (sometimes long after they stop being a positive force.)

—B., https://twitter.com/liminalgamer

What one resource has had the most impact on you, and why?

Hoffman Process, hands down. And I’ve done a lot of work in many forms. It helped me extricate and fundamentally alter the roots of old patterns that were lodged deeply in my somatic and neurological pathways. It offered me tools to continue the work on my own beyond the retreat. It also worked because I was fiercely ready to do the work and surrendered myself to the transformation despite and beyond the aspects that my rational, critical intellect would have dismissed.

—delightful wigglepuss, https://www.facebook.com/kim.lasdon

Insight-oriented therapy with a smart therapist. It took nine therapists to find one who clicked, but it was so very, very worth it. In addition to the obvious up sides, therapy taught me skills of self-reflection and intellectualization that have been way more adaptive than my previous coping mechanisms. It taught me to listen to my emotions and body, letting them tell me what I needed to care about or work on or empathize with. Even if one is completely emotionally and psychologically healthy, I still think insight-oriented therapy can be useful [since] we aren’t teaching that kind of emotional intelligence to everyone.

—B., https://twitter.com/liminalgamer

Anything else to add?

Ever think about coming to Ireland Sinclair? Plenty of LGBTQ groups to visit!

—CTD

I really love your site and the information and passion you share with the world. I’d really love to see you promote yourself more, to a wider audience. I think some of your stories and blog posts are so intelligent that you can appeal to a very academic audience. Yet your subjects are so interesting and fun that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy the blog. I’d love to hear audio transcripts of some or all of your workshops and also see more interactive content, pictures, etc. Overall, highly entertaining and interesting work!

—Annie Anthony, http://annieanthony.com/

I am awed and inspired by your bravery to share so much of yourself in a medium that can often feel completely one-sided, and I love that you opened up these questions to your readers in order to encourage a different kind of dynamic with your reader. Thanks for sharing yourself so openly for all these years.

I look forward to seeing you in person one day, if you ever come to do a talk in Phoenix, please let me know! I’m starting off my classes in gender and gay and lesbian studies this spring at ASU so if I ever come across an opportunity to bring you to campus for a speaking engagement, you can bet I will be trying to book you!

—cravatica, http://titlesareeasy.Blogspot.com

The Great Reader Mini-Interview, Part Seven: The Journey, Smut, and Black Tee Shirts

December 28, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

What’s your relationship with sugarbutch.net and Sinclair?

I started reading Sugarbutch.net back in 2008 when I first started journaling online, and later writing. I love Sinclair’s honesty and realness in everything that is written on this site. Sinclair is always willing to dive deep and ask the tough questions, the risky ones, the ones that challenge everything. The questions that could risk it all. In the end, the reflection of their own journey, becomes inspiring.

The smut. I love the way Sinclair writes smut, with all the realness of human connection, desire, imperfections, and wavering thoughts. Connection, Sinclair is brilliant at it. I’d love to see more of it. Even short snippets.

—DeDe Deylnn, http://www.deviantdyke.blogspot.com

‘m a fairly new reader. I’m trying to remember how I found your blog, but I can’t recall… I’m glad I found it though. You’re a great writer. You make yourself so vulnerable to your readers and I really admire that. Thank you for sharing such intimate detail with us!

—Daniela Amaya, http://witharmsakimbo.tumblr.com/

I started reading Sugarbutch in 2009, which was the last summer I had a sustained crush on a straight boy. I think what I appreciate the most is the self-reflexivity; the approach to relationships as deeply valuable and also deeply educational, always. I suppose I’m interested in you doing more of whatever you find interesting and challenging right now. That’s usually what I want interesting writers to do!

—Helena Swann, http://www.cuntext.com

i have been reading since just before Sinclair and K started dating. i’ve read all this time even though i don’t identify with daddy/girl or femme expression from a top or bottom perspective. i’ve been going through a lot of discover and changes around my gender expression and how i identify. i check in on his blog at least every couple of days, i love the way he expresses his journey, and his style of writing. i love his smut and the elements that focus on the D/s Authority exchange side. i’m looking forward to reading more about his dynamic with rife, since i’m now identifying as GQ primal masculine expressive, looking to find a dynamic/understand more about Sir/boy, Trans/butch dynamics. i wish you’d tell us more about what makes you tick, where you want your journey with rife to move forward towards, more smut.

—dylen, https://fetlife.com/users/592071

What advice would you give your younger self about sex, gender, or relationships?

I’d tell my younger self to write about sex sooner. Eleven years ago I wrote with Jen Cross in her first workshop for Queer survivors writing about sex and it changed everything for me. Writing in this way and later performing changed everything for me. My attitude and experiences of sex and gender and relationships changed. It changed how I parented, how I interacted with my community and lovers. It changed my writing and my views about sexuality and survivorhood and drove me to become a sex educator and writing facillitator.

http://writingourselveswhole.org has had the most impact on me. I would not have become the person that I am without it.

—Renee Garcia, http://queerly.tumblr.com/

I don’t feel like I’ve grown up enough to give my younger self advice. I kind of admire her for being so bold and kick-ass and take-no-prisoners. When I was younger, though, I figured all women were attracted to other women, and they just repressed all that to be heterosexual. I do still believe a lot of people play that game, but it wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that I realized all those straight women are actually *attracted* to men. Sounds dumb, but it was kind of a revelation.

—Giselle Renarde, http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com

Relax. Your sexuality is more fluid than you realize. Being queer may or may not be about being sexually assaulted by your boyfriend in high school and either way it’s ok. Being poly will complicate your marriage in good and bad ways. Tread carefully.

—Theresa

What one resource has had the most impact on you, and why?

This isn’t surprising: The Body Electric School’s introductory workshop Celebrating the Body Erotic has been the single most influential resource in my life. This weekend it has been six years (really??) since my first one, and I still find myself stopping to breathe, asking for what I want, and practicing the basic tantric breathing exercise with my partners (in through heart, out through genitals // in through genitals, out through heart). I can honestly say that I was able to handle some big issues in my life very gracefully because of my experiences with the Body Electric School – and not just sex & relationship issues, but various other life circumstances as well. There are just some experiences that have to be processed physically through body instead of through the mind – my first CBE taught me how to do that.

—Miss Avarice, http://missavarice.wordpress.com

CBT sessions – I know it’s extended but it was where I learned that you are supposed to talk about feelings not just express them in actions and snark.

—john, http://www.facebook.com/jmwallach

My Dangerous Desires by Amber L Hollibaugh has had the most impact on me and my identity as a queer femme. In one essay she talks about how living out queer desire is radical and subversive because it disrupts the idea that happiness/fulfillment is linked to heteronormativity. I think one reason it took me so long to accept that I was queer was because I wasn’t sure happiness was possible without a husband, a white picket fence and two kids.

—Erin, http://femmenistthought.tumblr.com/

Anything else to add?

Sinclair, every time I see a black T-shirt I think of you.

—Giselle Renarde, http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com

I love your reviews and have found so many things useful for my Mr. because of them.

—john, http://www.facebook.com/jmwallach

I’m pretty excited to check out your other readers. Something deserthooker wrote in one of your open relationship mini-interviews was one of the first things that prompted me to start actively thinking about how, where, and when mental health and D/s relationships overlap, for example.

—Helena Swann, http://www.cuntext.com

A huge thank you for continuing to share yourself online, there are SO many of that value this, and are here in spirit with you through the difficult times.

—dylen, https://fetlife.com/users/592071

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Aida: Exercise the Love Muscle

February 7, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Aida Manduley, www.smutandsensibility.com, @neuronbomb

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

Don’t assume that because someone you are dating is poly and one of their partners gets tested regularly, that your partner in common ALSO gets tested (or is STI-free for that matter). Do not make ANY assumptions about people’s sexual health; bring it up! If someone doesn’t want to talk about that with you, run far away! And if it’s you that feels nervous because you’re a n00b and you don’t know what poly etiquette is because you’re not the primary/spouse/etc., BRING IT UP ANYWAY. This will help you take care of yourself and your future partners PLUS it will show that you are a mature, responsible individual. In a relationship, unless explicitly negotiated otherwise or something, you can and should ask questions (albeit respectfully).

Even if boundaries make sense, make sure to ask and/or be explicit about the reasoning behind them, so when someone makes decisions on the spot and needs an educated guess to proceed, they have all the information they need.

Also, remember that poly is something you need to work on and think about even when you’re not “actively” pursuing/seeing other people. Think of it as exercising the love muscle.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

When it’s me juggling multiple partners, it has come down to time-management and making everyone feel valuable while not being able to give everyone equal time. My calendar is busy as is, and when trying to stick in multiple romantic/sexual relationships, it can get pretty wild. The only way it works is because I have BusyCal/iCal/GoogleCal and I’m not afraid to use it.

When it’s a primary partner expanding their relationships, it has been confronting seemingly irrational, sudden feelings of sadness and jealousy. This actually happened recently, when my long-term primary partner began to explore outside our relationship after a long time of not doing so. I felt this intense possessiveness and it was deeply uncomfortable for everyone involved. It’s easy for me to say “heck yeah!” to partners dating others when I LIKE and know the people they’re dating, but when it’s a random person I’ve never met or someone I don’t particularly like? I get uneasy and nervous about it. The reasons could be different depending on the relationship, but in this case, it wasn’t a fear of being abandoned or replaced or anything … it was a fear that the “outsider” wasn’t good enough; it was about not wanting to feel out of control, like the outside stuff would progress regardless of how I felt about it; and it was the discomfort with having to “share” my partner with someone I didn’t necessarily like when I ALREADY was only able to see them one or two days a week.

I consider myself a level-headed and logical person capable of compersion, so in the instances when I reacted very negatively or surprisingly, it really shook me. I have high standards for myself in every way, and not being able to be the partner I want to be (or that my partners deserve) is upsetting. Add that guilt/feelings of temporary weakness/failure to the feelings of jealousy/sadness over whatever the situation is and it’s a pretty shitty situation. The way I’ve dealt with it has been to WRITE MY HEART OUT; have lots of honest, open, and difficult conversations; and cry. Part of it has also been re-reading things I’ve written about polyamory in the past, revisiting blogs I consulted when I was first getting into this, talking to other people going through some rough times, and just immersing myself in the issue instead of trying to avoid it. It’s also been about trusting my partner.

Speaking in general, though, part of it has been unlearning some of the more ingrained ideas about what love, commitment, and relationships are “supposed” to be like. There was a LOT of unlearning and deconstructing when I embarked in my first relationship with a poly (and married) man, but I still find myself unlearning things to this day–things I didn’t even realize were part of those “packaged” notions. I’ve found it’s also about being able to come to terms with those things I DO want and feeling no (or little!) shame about them, since there are ideas floating around about what “perfect poly” is like and how “evolved” some models are, and there’s pressure to conform to those ideals.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

Aside from the obvious “being able to let relationships take their own individual courses without having to fit into a perfect mold” and “fulfilling more needs in multiple places,” I think another super cool piece of it is being able to feel New Relationship Energy and those exciting sparky feelings of flirting with (and/or crushing on) people many times throughout my life (while still maintaing steady relationships). Furthermore, being able to share that with another partner (whether it’s because I’m feeling NRE or they are for someone else that we both like) is fantastic.

Also? It was AWESOME having a loving support system (in the form of my primary partner) when I went through a rough breakup. Having him around as I grieved/dealt with the debacle of that other relationship and its roller-coaster ride helped immensely. It was nice to know someone still loved and supported me in that situation! In fact, my partner even helped me process and think through a lot of what happened, giving me perspective and reassurance when my morale was low.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Read up on the Love Languages. Figure out what your style is, and think about what ways you like to communicate. Make sure your partners are aware of their own style, and that you all communicate about this.

Finally, it’s okay to want a label for yourself and your relationships. So much focus gets placed on exploding binaries and breaking categories down that sometimes we forget how labels can be HELPFUL and comforting, how they can help people carve a space for others in their lives and vice-versa. The trick is to figure out what those labels actually MEAN on your own terms and to be intentional about those definitions.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Sassafras Lowrey: “I live the queer life I’ve always dreamed of”

February 1, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Sinclair’s note: This concludes the open relationship mini interview series! I’m debating if I should do more of these mini-interviews, and I might. I’m thinking one about breakups or transitioning relationships, one about healing, one about long term relationships, one about D/s and protocol … Alright so I’ve got plenty of ideas.

Sassafras Lowrey, pomofreakshow.com

Note: I personally use the term “poly” to talk about my relationship(s) not “open.” Additionally possibly useful information – I’ve been in a primary partnership with my partner for coming up on 9 years. Our relationship has always been poly. I came out into a community where poly relationships were very much the norm. Every “serious” relationship I’ve ever been in has involved 24/7 D/s, and my partner and I were already very poly experienced when we got together.

1. What insight about open relationships would you share with your younger self?

I think the biggest piece of advice I could ever give my younger self would be to spend less time worrying about what other people think, or trying to create what I thought I should want, as apposed to what actually felt good to me. What I mean here is I have at times felt pressure to enact being poly in certain ways (dating, sex etc.) because of queer cultural pressures that normalized or privileged certain kinds of interactions or relationship dynamics when the reality is I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I have in my D/s leather focused relationships which is at this time as a general rule non-sexual.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating your open relationships, and how have you overcome that?

I suppose I’ve already talked about this a little bit above. I think the biggest challenge for me has actually had very little to do with my relationship(s) and everything to do with the queer culture relationship norms that I found privileged sex, and specific dating focused types of romantic connection. I consider myself Leather oriented as apposed to sexually oriented. My primary partner/Daddy and I have been together for nearly 9 years. Ze has a wonderful girlfriend (a “good egg” I call her) and they have been together for upcoming 2 years. Previously ze has dated other people, and I have been involved with others as well. My partner and I live in a 24/7 Daddy/boy D/s dynamic and are (at this point and for quite some time) happily non-sexual with one another – a fact which shocks/horrifies/confuses many queer folk.

On top of that, I have a complicated relationship to sex/dating/relationships. As a general rule I am fairly uninterested in that type of connection to other people though I have dated and/or hooked up with folks in the past. Generally I find it particularly rewarding to date the books that I am writing, and very intimate though entirely non-sexual relationships with my leather/queer family.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationships?

One of the best things about being poly and having non-normative relationship structures has been the ability to live the kind of queer life I’ve always dreamed of. We create the rules for our life, building the kind of relationship(s) that are fulfilling and engaging for us, knowing that for each person that will take a different form. My partner and I are better together as a couple/family because of the connection we have to others in our lives – for my partner that looks like romantic “grown-up” relationships, and for me that primarily looks like the way I engage with my queer/leather family. Because we are poly and don’t expect the other to meet all of our needs be they emotional/intellectual/creative/sexual/etc. We are able to hone and focus our relationship on what is best about who we are to each other. In our case, that means that we create a beautiful home together sharing the ups and downs of daily life, we support one another creatively, and at the core of our relationship is the playful, whimsical magic of our Daddy/boy dynamic.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Nayland: “I finally am having the sorts of relationships that I’ve wanted all my life”

January 23, 2013  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Nayland Blake, naylandblake.net

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

That it’s entirely alright to discard the terms boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse. I’ve found that when I start thinking about someone in those terms that I screw things up, usually by letting my fear lead me into dishonesty. That it is indeed possible to set the terms of a relationship to reflect what I actually want, so long as I have the courage to do that from the beginning, and understand that rejection, when it happens in a context of honesty, is not failure.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

Capitulating to other people’s (those being people outside of the relationship) definitions, even if those are coming from “poly” people. I don’t have primaries, secondaries etc; I have co-conspirators who all know about each other and in most cases know each other independently of me. It works for us, but we still feel pressure from other folks to come up with a more regular model.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

Sharing the tales of our mutual adventures, and helping each other to have more of them.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m now in my 50’s and it’s only been recently that I feel like I finally am having the sorts of relationships that I’ve wanted all my life. I have more sex and a richer emotional life than I’ve ever had before. I think I’m proof that it is possible for things to get better, if you are willing to keep exploring.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katrina: People Are Adventures

January 11, 2013  |  essays  |  2 Comments

Katrina Elisse Caudle, www.kisskissdiary.com

Today’s mini-interview about open relationships with Katrina is in a podcast format! It’s 17 minutes, and Katrina has some great things to say. Check it out.

Download the mp3 file of the Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katrina

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Charlie Glickman: “Being poly doesn’t make you more evolved”

January 10, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Charlie Glickman, www.charlieglickman.com, www.facebook.com/charlie.glickman, gplus.to/CharlieGlickman, @charlieglickman

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

My partner and I have been together for over 20 years and we’ve been poly the entire time. There have been a few times that we stepped back from having other lovers because we needed some space to focus on each other. I’ve had lovers & playmates, as well a few ongoing secondary relationships. So one thing I’d tell my younger self is that things will change, and then they’ll change again. Don’t expect otherwise- there will come times when you struggle against changes that will happen anyway, and fighting them only made it harder.

Something else I’ve learned from being poly is that it requires the ability to talk about and process feelings quickly and efficiently. Of course, that skill will benefit any relationship, but when there are multiple people, each with their own needs and desires, as well as their feelings about each other, there are a lot of moving parts. If I could, I’d tell my younger self that the best way to learn how to process well would be to build social networks full of people who are dedicated to open-hearted, honest communication. Yes, therapy helped. Yes, workshops and books helped. But getting to see how other people do it and getting to practice it with lots of friends made it much easier to develop those skills in sexual/romantic relationships.

It’s also really easy to get smug about it. Being poly doesn’t make you more evolved or better than anyone else. If you think it does, you’re being a jerk. Don’t let it happen.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

Well, scheduling used to be one of the hardest, though google calendar is a big help. :-)

Sometimes, the New Relationship Energy I feel with a new partner can make things tricky for my partner. Fortunately, I’ve gotten better at managing that initial crush phase, in part because I know that it doesn’t last more than a few months. Sometimes, it deepens into a new dynamic and other times, the connection ends when the NRE does. I’ve learned how to let it take its own shape and be present with it, without letting it spill out into my partner. Usually. And when it doesn’t, she knows that she can tell me to take a break from talking about it, which makes it easier to manage.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

At this point in my life, I rarely have sex with people I don’t have a heart connection with. Having said that, I have a lot of people in my life who I love. Some of those people are lovers and some aren’t. Each of those relationships is unique and each offers different gifts, pleasures, and delights. For me, whether we have sex or not is really less important than whether we can be open with each other about what we think, feel, and want. Being poly has been a lifelong practice in how to love each of these wonderful people in the way that works for that dynamic. It’s like I get to have all of these different flavors of love, some of which have been in my life for years and others are more fleeting. And the more I practice it, the more kinds of love come my way. It’s really quite delightful.

Being poly is also a really great way to make room for different desires and interests. I don’t expect to be able to give my partner everything she might want, so I like to create the space for her to get it elsewhere, and vice versa. That has given us much more freedom to enjoy the many things we do offer each other because there’s no resentment forming as the result of unmet needs.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

There isn’t any one way to be poly. That can be challenging because you have to figure out what works for you, which means making mistakes along the way. You’ll feel hurt sometimes, and you’ll hurt others. Learning how to apologize and reconnect with people is essential. Don’t expect perfection- plan for bobbles.

Don’t keep secrets. That doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone everything, but if you’re withholding something that you know someone would want to know about or that they deserve to know about, lean into the fear and do tell them. Withholding leads to secrecy and resentment, both of which kill relationships. There’s plenty of room for privacy within a relationship, but not for secrets. So if you can’t be honest about what you want or what you’re doing, either stop doing it or learn how to be honest.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Alphafemme: I Create My Own Sense of Security and Safety

January 7, 2013  |  essays  |  1 Comment

Alphafemme, alphafemme.net

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

The way I ended up in an open relationship (and we haven’t agreed on it being an “open relationship” per se, but rather we have an intimate/romantic/sexual relationship that is completely undefined and has no specific rules or boundaries and we haven’t really ever had specific rules or boundaries) was catastrophically messy. I won’t get into the details here, I’ll do that on my own blog soon, but there are many things I wish I had done differently or insights I wish I’d had earlier on. I think the main one is that however uncomfortable and scary honesty is, it is critically important. I have always been someone who only ever wants to please others, accommodate others, make others feel happy and loved, and I had to learn how to come to terms with letting go of the need to please everyone. I can’t both take on everyone else’s happiness as my own responsibility and have integrity at the same time. I think that open relationships require real gut honesty and real commitment to hashing things out, and it is scary as fuck but also worth it. I was so scared of my own emotions that I ended up needlessly hurting one person (my ex-partner) and losing the trust of another one (my lover’s ex-partner) in a way that could have been avoided had I been more emotionally honest with myself (and, then, with others). Now, my commitment is to always be candid and intentional, and take the time with myself to understand my own emotions in order to be able to state them clearly.

I also wish I’d had more faith in myself to be okay, no matter what. That no matter what, no matter how hard things are, no matter how messy they become, no matter how impossible they may feel, I will be okay.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

My current relationship has never been a closed, partner relationship. It has always been a flying-high-in-the-sky-fuck-the-parachutes-are-broken-shit-we’re-gonna-die-omgomgomg-ok-no-actually-we’re-ok kind of relationship. It is an intense relationship with a lot of processing and a lot of emotions and a ton of trust-building work. I think the hardest part for me is sometimes feeling like there are no walls and ceilings that are protecting me from the elements. I think I’m forced to confront scary emotions (fear of abandonment, fear of hurt, fear of pain, jealousy, etc.) a lot more than in my prior monogamous relationships, and work through them on my own. What I mean is, in my monogamous relationships, I have relied on the safety of the relationship and the boundaries of the relationship to take care of the scariness of being vulnerable and intimate. I have avoided working through the sources of those fears because the monogamy was the safety net. In this open relationship, it can feel as though that safety net isn’t there and so instead I have to just let those emotions and fears in and sit with them, become acquainted with them, make peace with them, and even send them on their merry way – and I can do that with my lover’s support and understanding, but she doesn’t do it for me and she doesn’t fix it for me by eliminating the source of the fear for me. And that part is hard and takes a lot of emotional energy. Buuuut the flip side of the coin…

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

…is that the hardest thing is also the best thing. I feel like this relationship has helped me become so much more aware of my resilience and my capacity to get through difficult emotions and land on my own two feet. And this in turn has meant that my ability to trust – to trust her but also trust myself – has deepened immensely. It’s really gratifying to know that I can create my own sense of security and safety and don’t need to make rules for the relationship that are based on fear. And I have learned a LOT about how to communicate my emotions responsibly and when is a good time to stop and take space. It’s not easy, and I can imagine at some point not wanting an open relationship anymore, but for now I have no desire to change anything.

It’s funny – a lot of people in response to this question I noticed said that the best thing was being able to have sex or play or be involved with other people, and the bounty of love that invites. And that’s just not where I’m at with it right now. Maybe someday I will appreciate that but for now I’m not even really interested in that. For now it’s all about the emotional work and trust-building.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Someone I look up to recently said to me that she thinks we should all take the “ship” out of “relationship” and just focus on relating to one another. Relationships are not one size fits all and often when we enter into capital-R-Relationships we enforce an agenda on them that just doesn’t work for every relationship. That really resonated with me and that’s my M.O. with my lover right now. For us, we go day by day and make decisions that work for us based on what we want, and we arrive at those decisions based on working things through on our own and together and trusting each other a lot, and trusting ourselves. Easier said than done (see my answer to number 2!) but ultimately I feel like I’m growing in really important ways right now.

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Roxy: In Love With the Whole World

January 4, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Roxy, http://uncommoncuriosity.com/

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

That they exist. I was “younger” at a time (mid-80s to early-90s) when bisexuals were treated with suspicion by just about everyone (my nickname at the local LGBT Center where I volunteered was “straight girl,”) and so I wasn’t hanging out with folks who were exploring anything other than 1) dating a lot of people without commitment or 2) full monogamy. In the suburbs it’s pretty easy to go your whole life just drinking the kool-aid and never knowing there is anything else out there.

Now that my eyes have been opened, I continue to be amazed at all the different ways folks “do” poly. Sometimes it’s easy for me to get stuck in an idea that there’s a wrong way and a right way, and I have to keep reminding myself to keep an open mind along with the open relationship.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

Given that I drank gallons of the kool-aid, it’s been hard to reframe what relationships can be if you’re not following the Princess Bride, one true love, model. Despite all of the wonderful work that’s been written about poly, there still aren’t a lot of role models who are successful and happy in popular culture, either in real life (astonished and scandalized reactions to Tilda Swinton come to mind as one of the few) or fiction. Living in a socially progressive, but still pretty relationship-conservative, area means that I spend a lot of time either trying to explain all of poly in one sentence (“It’s like telling your partner they can cheat, right?” “Oh, I could never do that. I get jealous.”) or just not speaking up and feeling very isolated. It helps to have a strong virtual community of friends who are navigating some of the same issues and challenges.

A lot of other interviewees have mentioned communication, which is very, very key, but also one of the hardest parts for me. I’m constantly amazed that other people know themselves well enough to express it in anything other than questions – I find myself stumbling through sometimes, just trying to work out what’s right for me and what’s not. Frequently something will seem like a great idea in my head and then turn out to be an absolute disaster in practice.

Another issue is that I *am* a romantic, and that can be very scary, because there’s a lot of pressure in the scene to be easy-going and laissez-faire like the cool kids. It’s so dangerously easy to give in to internal pressure to be ok with a lot that I’m not really ok with, afraid of being labeled – *gasp* – clingy or needy, or being rejected altogether. Thankfully, I’ve been involved with two wonderful partners who love me for the person I am, not the person I sometimes wish I were, and I’m learning to ask for what I need, no matter how intimidating it feels. From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that it’s much less messy to admit to having needs up front rather than simply falling apart into a mess when you manage to break your own heart.

Putting that into practice remains an ongoing project for me.

Oh, and jealousy? *Sigh* Still working on it.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

At its best, it’s like you’re in love with the whole world. You feel supported and loved and beautifully fulfilled. For me, NRE lasts as long as the relationship, and I love being in love, and I adore people. Each partner offers precious new surprises and new ways to look at the Universe, and so there’s just that much more to be amazed by.

At its worst, it offers you a real-time education in patience with yourself and everyone around you.

Each extreme has been a gift.

Poly is a crucible that burns away extraneous distractions and demands your presence, attention, and full participation. I’ve learned to use words like “space” and “support” without snickering. I’ve learned to consider and express feelings, and that alone is a miracle. Despite an excellent education in the sciences, I managed to avoid maturing emotionally beyond about 14 years old, and it went unchallenged for decades. The past 4 to 5 years have offered me the (sometimes unwelcome) opportunity to develop skills I never had before, and I am very grateful for that opportunity, despite my occasionally quite pitiful thrashing at the time.

Stepping outside the box affords a view of the world that can be daunting, but liberating, and full of possibility. Having to sit down to negotiate parts of life many take for granted gives you the chance to create something new and wonderful. The price can be high, but the rewards are beyond what I would have imagined.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I am *so* thankful to everyone who contributed to this series. The relationships I’m involved in have been changing recently, and I’ve been struggling with where my future might lie. Reading about all the myriad choices and flavors that others have chosen is opening my mind to new possibilities for myself, and I feel a lifeline of connection to everyone else who’s exploring this brave, new world.

Open Relationships Mini Interview with Ashley: Love is Infinite

January 3, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Ashley Young, http://indigostheory.wordpress.com.

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

I would definitely tell myself not to be so cynical and that love is real, no matter how confusing it might be. Oh and I’d also tell myself ‘you aren’t going to end up a lonely spinster in the woods writing books like you planned’. When I first started to attempt poly, I didn’t even know it was possible until I had a loving partner to encourage me. I think if I could go back, I would give myself permission to explore love, sex and relationships, despite how overwhelming and scary it might be.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

There have been a few things that have been hard about being poly. At first it was jealousy. Seeing my partner with other people was hard but when I started to see the benefits of sharing her with others – these benefits being my partner’s happy and poly being a full expression of herself – I got over it. Once I realized jealously had nothing to do with my partner and had everything to do with my own insecurities, I started to deal with my relationship shit instead of dumping it on my partner.

The next challenge was stepping up my communication with my partner. I used to be so afraid to say what was on my mind but when I realized sharing doesn’t actually make me explode or expire, I started talking. My partner and I both worked very hard on our communication early on in the relationship before becoming poly so I trust her. I learned earlier on that trust is key in polyamory. To maintain the trust, we in a sense created an intimate poly language that works for us and talk constantly and openly about our issues with each other first.

After I got over my jealousy and learned how to communicate, I started dealing with my own shit. Dating others has made me continue to confront fears of intimacy and acceptance and discover the power and beauty of my evolving sexuality. The biggest challenge has been accepting my poly, queer, kinky self and creating relationships that work for me. I’m still working on that one!

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

I discovered I’m not a misanthropic and jaded as I used to pretend to be. I love people, I love bodies and I love sex. I love conversation and connections and being in a poly relationship has reaffirmed that for me. Plus, the more people I love, the more in love I am with my partner.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Love is infinite, not finite. Spread it.