Posts Tagged ‘time management’

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 TP: Dating is Hard

December 21, 2012  |  essays  |  No Comments

TP

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

First and foremost, I wish I had known how much love I would find and conversely how much hate I would find. It feels so natural but I feel as though we are looked down upon not only by the right, but also among many in the gay community who feel we distract from thier cause. As soon as those on the right attack gay marriage saying the next step is legalizing polyamorous marriages, we say why not? Many gay rights advocates turn on a dime and throw us under the bus.

I always thought we would see some converse support for our cause after theirs however I see this to not be the case. See also the recent statement from Dan Savage. In the way he addressed polyamory initially, it almost seemed to discount the experience entirely. He did recover nicely printing responses from other voices he respected. I must also say that I do appreciate his writing for the most part anyways.

I wish I would have known/remembered how hard dating is.

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

Two Words: Time Management. This is probably not what you were looking for but arranging time with our honeys is hard. Really hard. We have to cover for each other in watching the kids and often times we have to facilitate each others dates, we even sometimes buy each other condoms and other items in preparation for each others dates. Balance can be hard unless we are forcefully intentional about it.

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

The freedom to explore our fantasies with other people that we have not been able to experience for ourselves. I am circumcised. In a monogamous relationship my wife could never honestly experience giving falacio to a man with an uncut penis let alone riding him. But with our open relationship she can experience many different kinds of penises, and the concept follows for me with other people. It opens up a brave new world.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Sugarbutch! And: Ask Me Anything

April 29, 2011  |  advice, miscellany  |  25 Comments

Charles Demuth, The Figure 5 in Gold

Today is Sugarbutch’s 5th anniversary—I started this little personal online writing project five years ago, on April 29, 2006.

Oh so much has changed since then!

Though while I’m going back to see what I wrote last year, for the 4th anniversary, I’m still on that same path as I was then. Though my columns at CarnalNation.com and SexIs have ended, I’m still writing for AfterEllen.com, the Lambda Literary Foundation, and Good Vibes Magazine. I’m still keeping up with MrSexsmith.com for my speaking gigs, travels, and tracking my guest posts and interviews elsewhere, and still playing with Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I’m trying to figure out what it is I’m trying to build, and where I’m going, but I have some ideas and things are coming together, I think. I’m still writing about my main relationship and the turmoils—and thrilling joys—of constant intimacy.

The biggest news, perhaps, is that I’m editing a book of lesbian BDSM erotica for Cleis Press, which I am thrilled about. Actually, that manuscript is due this weekend, so I have officially declared today “Smut Day,” because I’m editing and compiling and putting all the last minute details together.

I woke up wondering whether Cleis includes a dedication standard in their book, so I flipped through some books from my smut library to see what I could find.

my (abridged) smut library

(You’ll just have to buy the book to see whether I am able to include one or not.)

I’m really enjoying this erotica anthology editing process, and I think the collection is going to be fantastic. I can’t wait to share the final product with you all! I don’t have a publication date yet, but you will be the first to know as soon as I do. I hope to do more of these, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself—this one isn’t even done yet. (Getting closer!)

I’ve got some other things in the works, but I’m mostly just focused on writing columns elsewhere online doing some more editing, and traveling to do workshops and speak. I’ve got some exciting gigs coming up this summer!

And now, on to the Sugarbutch anniversary tradition: Ask Me Anything.

I get a lot of emails asking for advice or help or clarification or what my opinion is on something, and though I’ve never formally written an advice column (though I would be interested in doing so—anybody want to hire me for that?), I have kept up this “ask me anything” tradition for a few years now, so perhaps that’s where y’all get the idea to email me questions. I always put those emails in a special folder that I swear I will get to, when I have time, but y’all, I never have time. I’m sorry. I feel bad not replying to your personal crises, and sometimes I write back to say “I’m sorry I can’t answer this,” but there are only so many hours in the day and any of those extra ones I would like to spend kissing my beautiful girlfriend rather than answering even more emails.

This is why I do not have an “ask me anything” on tumblr. They are very time consuming.

But! This is your opportunity! Got a question you crave to hear my advice about? Did you email me and I never answered (sorry)? Here’s the deal. Leave a comment on this post and ask me whatever you like. You can ask anything, from personal details about my life that you’ve always wondered, to questions about advice for sex toys or your relationship, to philosophical musings on identity, gender, or sexuality theory. The shorter and more specific the question, the better.

I will answer every single question asked by the end of May. That is my vow to you, especially since last year they dragged on and I didn’t answer them until the end of October. Read back on some of the former “ask me anything” questions if you like.

Apparently the 5th anniversary tradition is wood, so, well, try not to make too many jokes about that.

So go ahead—what do you want to know? What are you curious to read my thoughts about? What have you always wondered? What kind of dirty things will you get me to reveal?