Poly vs Open

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I am not much for terms. As a writer, you would think I would love them. But I am not a precise person. I hate specifics. I think in broad strokes about overall ideas and I hate nitpicking. This makes me a horrible copy editor.

Anyway, I was asked about the difference between being “poly” and being “open,” and I thought it was a good question so I will do my best to answer it.

I lot of couples consider these terms synonymous, which is to say, they think it is the same thing. And that is fine. You can define things however you want in your world. I am not a purist, so I believe that usage defines language. But that’s a whole other blog post…

Anyway, those who hold that the terms have different means have defined them to me this way:

Poly: Having multiple emotional relationships at the same time (this can mean a primary and secondary, more than one primary, etc.)

Open: Having only one emotional relationship, but having sexual or play relationships with people outside the primary relationship.

Again, it is up to you to decide how you feel, but I want to put in my two cents that it’s very hard to sleep with someone and not become fond of them. (That’s just down to hormones and such, so don’t think I am being sappy. Oxcytocin and Dopamine are things, you know? ) So to me it seems like if you want to have an open relationship, and you define that as no outside emotional attachments, then you should probably stick to one-night stands.



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New Lifestyle Club

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I wrote before about Club Sesso in Portland after visiting there with one of my boyfriends. At the time, it was a swinger’s club owned by porn star Ron Jeremy and his business partners.

Since then, there the club became tied up in a scandal . I won’t get into the details because that’s not the relevant part. What matters is, they closed the club. This was a shame for kinky folks and swingers who enjoy such places.

In the wake of it all, two of the partners who owned the original club have filed to open a new club in its place, to be called Club Privata. No word on exactly what it will be. The owners describe it as an “upscale lifestyle club.” But, I think it’s safe to assume that it will be similar to what the old club was. This is good for all of us who live in or spend lots of time in Portland.

Ron Jeremy will not be involved at all in the new club.

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Negotiating Rules

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So you have realized you are kinky. Great! Now what?

In a typical vanilla relationship, you have a set of rules. You don’t have to follow those rules, and in fact, you can act in the opposite way all the time if you want. However, the rules are there.

This is sort of a holdover from a time when there were clearly defined gender roles. Women stayed home. They cooked and cleaned and had babies. Men went to work. And if they were gentlemen, perhaps they opened some doors or helped with things around the house.

Many people no longer follow those rules, but they still persist in TV, Music, Movies, and popular culture in general. As this is a US election year, I’ll just go ahead and point out that they still exist in politics too, which is really tragic.

(Maybe that’s just my opinion, but I think traditional gender roles are damaging to everyone.)

 

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However, us kinky folks don’t have rules that have been established over time. A Master/Mistress/Slave/Submissive does not always act in any particular way.

This can be very freeing, because obviously the oppressive gender roles of the mainstream are a bummer. And yet, it can also be scary. If there are no established rules, how do you know what to do?

I would only point out that it’s entirely up to you to decide how comfortable you are with things, and what you want.

Take the example of my husband and myself. We are both switches, but not in our primary relationship with each other. In our personal relationship, he is my Pet, and I am his Mistress. We do not do this 24/7, but we do observe this at home. This can get really confusing sometimes. Last year for my birthday he got me a cake that said “Happy Birthday Mistress.” I didn’t even think about it because I am so used to be called Mistress, and I posted a picture of the cake on my Facebook feed.

Big mistake.

I forget that his friends and co-workers can see things that he is tagged in, and that he’s not “out” in his public life. Not to mention he was talking to a few girls at the time who thought of him as a Master and I think he might have been friends with them on Facebook.

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We didn’t make a big deal about it or anything. It’s not like it caused a fight. But it was one of those awkward moments where we had to think about boundaries. It’s always hard to know where boundaries are, and they may not be in the same place for both parties in a relationship.

That’s just one example, but there are so many more.

As another example, think of how relationship dynamics change over time with a vanilla couple. That can be a huge cause of stress on a relationship, and they don’t even have kink roles added in. They can just have a situation where one party used to make more money, and now the other does, and that can ruin a marriage.

But we have the added complication of evolving kink roles over time. Sometimes the person who is dominant wants to do a submissive thing. This can cause the person who is usually submissive to suddenly see their Master in a whole other light and can ruin their psychological ability to feel properly submissive later (since kink is mostly about the space in your head and not the toys or bonds, this is a very real concern.)

So what do we do?

Well, that’s the part I hate to tell people: I don’t know. No one does. We just negotiate and re-negotiate and try to figure it out.

Yes, that sucks. I wish there were easy answers. But the truth is, in kink, you just have to feel things out and hope that you can find places where you agree on things. I actually think so many of us are poly because it’s very hard to find someone who you can have as a partner and also have compatible kinks with. Hence, play relationships outside the primary tend to crop up a lot of the time.

As I always say, there is no solution outside of good communication. If you can do that, you should be okay.

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Kink and Three or More People

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I was asked about BDSM play with more than two people involved in the scene, and I wanted to do a quick post on why adding people is complicated.

Obviously if it’s a poly situation it’s very complicated because then everyone is in some kind of relationship with each other, and I have written before about all the issues of poly relationships. Generally after awhile you need flow charts and a white board to express anything.

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You think adding one more person to a situation can’t be that confusing. But, you have to consider how many points of view are involved.

In a situation with two people, there are only two perspectives to consider. However, in a situation with three people, there are more than three. Observe:

First: Person One’s view of ┬áPerson Two

Second: Person One’s view of ┬áPerson Three

Third: Person Two’s view of Person One

Fourth: Person Two’s view of Person Three

Fifth: Person Three’s View of Person One

Sixth: Person Three’s view of Person Two

Seventh: Overall vibe of the collected group

As you can see, there’s a lot more than three points of view when there are three people.

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With three people, you effectively go from two points of view to seven. And obviously that is opening up a Pandora’s box of opportunity for misunderstanding. That’s why it’s more important than ever in a situation like this to make sure you are prepared and have planned out the scene in advance.

I actually have had most of my threesome situations with other switches, so that made it easier to understand each other and to take turns being the one in charge of the scene.

However, my husband and I have also done some co-topping of people, and that has been a good experience for us and for them.

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I think the key is to have understanding among the people involved, so if you aren’t married or dating or all switches, then more discussion may be required to make sure that everyone is on the same page. It seems to be that the better people know/understand each other, the better the scene will play out. Everyone is happy when everyone knows what is going on.

So make sure to make some tea, fill out some scene negotiation forms, and try to make sure that no one’s expectations get stepped on.

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