Posts Tagged ‘non-monogamy’
Roma Mafia, www.romamafia.com
1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?
I’d wanted to open up my relationships since I was in high school, but I thought I was alone – it never occurred to me that there was an entire community of people out there having healthy, communicative, consensually open relationship structures. Because I was disconnected from that community and didn’t have the language to articulate my needs and desires, I was unfaithful in my earliest relationships to maintain my own happiness, and I regret that. So, in short, I wish I’d had more information sooner, or the wherewithal to seek it.
2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?
Situational jealousy. Being poly is harder for me when I’m in an emotional or vulnerable place – all I want to do is feel the warm, protective reassurance of my primary partner. It comes so suddenly sometimes – I’ll have an awful day, and all of a sudden can no longer stomach the thought of my partner going out on a date that night. There’s no way to “fix” this, I’m afraid, but my partner and I have certainly learned how to better deal with it. I’ve turned introspectively to try and determine the warning signs that indicate when a period of vulnerability is coming. I’ve examined why my “panic mode” necessitates I cling to my partner – why I feel like I “need” that specific support, why I “need” to assert my possessiveness at that time. And I’ve explored other options – calling a close friend to be with me during those times instead, for instance, or even seeking comforting company with another trusted play partner. A work in progress, of course, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by extraordinary people.
3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?
Speaking of extraordinary people, I’ve met countless numbers of them since I opened up my first relationship (4+ years ago). My poly identity came hand in hand with my kink identity, though, so opening up can’t take all the credit! But I truly feel as though I’ve met the most sensitive, intelligent, and creative people through non-monogamous avenues. In addition, I’ve come to know myself incredibly well. Being non-monogamous means that you’re constantly asking yourself to acknowledge a lot of really difficult subjects, the worst parts of yourself, really, and be willing to consistently reevaluate them and commit to evolving. Finally, I’ve become a superb (though not perfect!) communicator and mediator, and it’s worth mentioning that I’ve had the best sex of my life since opening up, both with my primary partner(s) and others I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with along my journey.
Sugarbutch turned 6 years old on Sunday, April 29th. It was in 2006 at a corporate office job I’d just started, after obsessively reading every sex blog I could find for about a month, that I started publishing my own sexy fantasy writings.
I’ve told this story many times over the last six years, but here’s how it started. I was in a bed death relationship with my college girlfriend of four years, meaning for about the last two years of our relationship we had sex maybe six times (a few of which were when we almost broke up). I was going nuts, tearing my hair out, getting off multiple times a day. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had stopped writing for a long time because all I was writing was about how I wanted to get out of that relationship, and that was a reality I wasn’t quite ready to face. So I decided that every time I wanted to have sex, I would either go to the gym, or write erotica, and I ended up writing a lot of erotica (and not really going to the gym much—this was before my gymbunny days). I started liking some of the work I was writing, and I went back to a medium that was one I had relied upon for many years: the online writing project, aka the blog.
I had kept personal writing projects online since 1996—for the last sixteen years, now—in various states of anonymous or semi-anonymous, but this one was the first one that grew to this caliber. Sugarbutch was completely anonymous for a few years, but as it grew, my identity became less and less hidden. (It’s not exactly anonymous anymore, it’s only been semi-anonymous for a few years now, and then I came out on Coming Out Day in October of last year.) I’ve had to deal with writing about the people I slept with without them knowing—and what to say when they later found out, and now I’m a lot more open and always get permission before I write about someone here.
So it started out as a place for me to get out of my bed death relationship, and quickly became a chronicle of that relationship ending. When it ended, I realized that I thought I knew what I wanted in a relationship, I thought I knew what my gender was and who I was attracted to, I thought I knew the kind of sex I wanted to have, but none of that had worked out. So how did I get that? Who was I, and how do I date the girl I want to date? How do I have the kind of sex I want to have? Can I really be who I am and get what I want?
These became the central questions I was exploring—and still explore—on Sugarbutch. It’s always been a personal exploration. As the blog grew, much of the more personal explorations have been put under a password (which you can get if you sign up for the mailing list—the idea is that you can see the more personal things in exchange for interacting with me with integrity).
The initial focus on this blog was where the subtitle of “kinky queer butch top” came from: a) my gender identity (butch), b) my sexual orientation (queer and attracted to femmes) and the process of seeking a serious partnership with someone, and c) exploring my kinkiness through my particular power orientation of masculinity and dominance. I wanted to figure out who I was in those contexts, who I would be to a partner, who I was in the butch/femme world, how I could continue to grow and push myself sexually, and how I could maintain all of those dynamics over a long-term relationship and not fall into another bed death situation.
The first three years of Sugarbutch were a lot of exploring and a lot of rebuilding myself. Early readers will remember the difficulty I had getting out of my relationship with The Ex and the box of darkness gift that one particular rebound relationship gave me.
Then I started dating Kristen, and the last three and (almost) a half years have been exploring with her. Having a steady partner meant that I had a steady sex life that I could explore, and I stepped up the product reviews. It was so much easier to review products frequently when I had a steady partner, it was much harder when I’d bring a new harness to someone that I hadn’t slept with before to try to figure out whether or not it worked for me and us (for example, was it the harness? Or was it the newness of the sexual partner that meant that I wasn’t getting off or fucking comfortably?).
Product reviews, of course, get old pretty quickly, and I never wanted this place to turn into an all-product blog. I’ve scaled back on products significantly, though I’m still interested in keeping up with the strap-on hardware that is being released.
Kristen brought some new sexual explorations, too. It was with her that I started exploring this Daddy identity of mine, a new space that I didn’t really see coming but that fits very well. We’ve also been exploring D/s and pushing our BDSM play to new places, and in the last year or so we’ve been deepening our relationship to the leather communities, being more involved with leather and BDSM retreats and culture. It’s been incredibly rewarding.
And for the past seven months, Kristen and I have been navigating non-monogamy in practice since I started dating rife. It’s been a challenge for our relationship, and while Kristen is totally behind this shift in our relationship (and recently wrote here about her thoughts on non-monogamy), it has not been without difficulty. It’s been very hard to write about because it’s been painful—for both of us—at various times, and it’s been hard to reveal the mistakes I’ve made, the pain it’s sometimes caused, and the ways that we are trying to move forward. I know there has been judgment about that decision from readers, too, so that’s made it harder to write about, but I’m trying to continue to stay open to chronicling my journey—our journey—as an open couple.
So while Sugarbutch used to be an exploration of gender (specifically, how I would be butch), sex (and getting the sex life that I wanted), and relationships (finding a girl to explore and deepen with), the edge now that I’ve been writing about has been non-monogamy (and I’m sure there is tons more to write about that as this expands), Daddy and D/s dynamics, and our deepening relationship to the BDSM and leather worlds.
Those explorations are my personal explorations, my personal edges, my personal work. I know many readers aren’t following me into these worlds, not only because they are edgier, but also because those aren’t as reflective of what you’re going through personally, and it’s harder to follow and relate to. I know many of you don’t agree with or understand what I’m doing (and you’ve said so in comments and emails frequently), and I’m going to continue to do my best to explain what I do and how it comes from a feminist, open, consensual perspective, but I know sometimes those things are just beyond grasp. I find it fascinating to continue to reconcile feminist politics with heavier BDSM theory, and I hope that I can keep writing about that in ways that incite curiosity rather than judgment and hateful comments.
Of course, Sugarbutch is still an exploration of those things that sparked it—sex, gender, relationships. In fact, as I’ve been teaching more and more, leading workshops and writing advice columns and learning more about how to counsel people one-on-one, I am surprised at how much comes back to those three things. They are not simple, after all. Figuring out who we are in the world and what we want are basic, on one level, but they are also Our Life’s Work, and they are not small. Plus, they are ever in flux, constantly changing.
That’s the other major thing that Sugarbutch has evolved into over the last six years: It’s now more than just a place where I go to work out my own shit, it’s also a platform for my work. I’ve turned it into my full-time job (which still scares me), and so part of what happens here is promotion for my books (!), workshops, travels, appearances, retreats, and writing elsewhere.
As I’ve had more of a position of teaching, I’ve been going back to those basics—”basics”—of sex, gender, and relationships, and the things that I’ve learned through this journey to know myself, over and over. I have come to all of this work from a very personal perspective, never assuming that I know what’s best for anyone else, only putting forward what has worked for me and what I’ve discovered—through reflection, writing, and various research—with the hope that something in there might be helpful to you, too. I don’t expect 100% of what I do or say or write to apply to you. Hell, even I don’t agree with 100% of what I’ve said. I revise my ideas constantly, or sometimes someone will ask me, “You just said ___, what did you mean?” at a workshop and I’ll have to backtrack and say, “Yeah, I didn’t mean that at all.” (Or, more likely, “I didn’t articulate that very well, let me explain what I meant.”) I am in a constant state of revising how I understand myself and my relationship to the world, and how I understand all of this work.
These topics are huge, and central, to all of us.
(I debated saying “almost all of us,” but in actuality, I think those issues affect all of us, every one of us, whether we are aware of it or not.)
I have some goals for this sixth year: I want to publish an ebook (or maybe more than one). I want to keep working on my finances and figure out how to be able to afford this patchwork freelance life. I want to get my Cock Confidence Product Guide up and running (I was working on that over the winter but the release of Say Please has pushed it back). I want to continue to collaborate more with Kristen, since her voice hasn’t been heard much here and I hope to do more of that (we have some ideas about what she might do). I want to keep writing elsewhere, and keep publishing my own short stories in anthologies, and hopefully do another erotica anthology soon. I want to keep writing about the things that are pushing my own edges, the non-monogamy and the BDSM and the D/s and Daddy play, even though it is not always well received. I want to keep teaching and doing workshops. I want to keep traveling, and to figure out how to travel better so that I’m away from my girl less and so that my recovery time is easier. I want to write here more, which is frequently a challenge because of the challenging feedback and the personal reveals and the traveling that gets in the way, but I want to keep it up.
I am thrilled to be doing the work that I’m doing. I love that my personal explorations have turned into lessons and guides and ideas for other people to learn more about their own lives, their own genders and sexualities and sexual satisfactions, and I still sincerely hope that what I put forth can help, in any way whatsoever. I am so grateful that you are reading and listening and buying my book and attending my workshops.
Thank you for reading over these last six years, thank you for commenting, thank you for your emails and your questions and your praise and your critiques. I couldn’t do this without you, and I am so grateful that I get to keep doing what I’m doing.
Some of the other anniversary posts:
- Fifth Anniversary
- Fourth Anniversary
- Third Anniversary
- Second Anniversary
- Bed Death, Standard Variety: the post that started it all.