Polyamory Series: Introduction

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Polyamory  is typically the practice of, or desire for, sexual relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners.  It has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.

So first, let’s talk about monogamy. This is a relationship between two people that is sexually exclusive. A lesbian couple, a gay couple, or a heterosexual couple; may fall in love and decide that their relationship should be exclusive and not include anyone else.

Hallmarks of this kind of behavior are jealousy, restrictions and rules for spending time with people outside the relationship, and an idea that the other person is “all you will ever need.”

Does this mean that Poly couples don’t ever get jealous? Of course not! You can have three boyfriends and a girlfriend and still be jealous if your husband wants to spend Valentine’s Day with someone else. And yes, the relationship webs that can develop in a poly community are often very complicated. I will get into that later in the series. For now, I just want to explain some hallmarks of Polyamory.

Consent

First: Consent.

This is the most important part and so I can’t possibly stress this enough. In a poly relationship it is extremely important to be up-front about everything, be aware of your feelings and ready to discuss them, and never lie to your partners or knowingly date someone who has a partner that they are lying to.

Make sure all relationships are always with the consent of everyone involved!

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Second: STDs.

You can’t “just trust” a new boyfriend when you have other people whom you are in love with who can be hurt by your bad decisions. This means that trading STD tests becomes very important before sexual contact. I know the vanilla monogamous folks just hook up in bathrooms and parking lots and sometimes that can sound hot. However, that’s not how a responsible person behaves. Well, not unless they want to wait six weeks before any play with any other partner and then get an STD test to show that they didn’t pick up any parasites.

Remember: Condoms are not 100% effective so use them, but also be responsible and get tested!

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Third: Talking.

I am not saying you have to talk all the time. You can play scenes and hook up and go on dates and not think about things a lot. However, you do need to make sure to check in periodically with each person you are dating. You need to make sure that the people in your lives are not holding any resentments inside that could explode and cause drama for the rest of the community. It is the responsibility of every person in the community to head off problems before they happen by making sure that everyone they care about is okay.

Remember: No one likes the guy or girl in the community who is always surrounded by yelling and drama.

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Forth: Tertiary Relationships.

There are going to people in your life that are not there by your choice. For example, I am sort of a wild card because I don’t have a type. I am pan-sexual and I am known for appreciating whatever someone is unique for. I have dated guys who were dumb as a post because I liked the way they deferred to me. I have dated both a rocket scientist and an experimental particle physicist. And, I dated a girl who is a professional translator and is out-of-this-world smart. None of these people have anything in common. They have different genders, intelligence levels, sexual orientation, kink orientation, and disposition. As you can probably tell, I want to try all the things! So anyone I date seriously has to be willing to handle the parade of random humans that marches through my life.

Let me be clear: You don’t have to be friends with everyone that your partners date. You can be, and often that will happen naturally. However, it’s fine if you’re not. You just have to be alright with them being in your life, because if they are dating your partner, then they are in your life. You will hear about them and see them around, and that is just how it is.

 

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Fifth: Perspective.

When you are in a poly-amorous community, you have to remember to keep things in perceptive. Your opinion matters, but you can’t be self-centered. Everyone has a different perspective, and it’s important to respect all of them.

I am always really grossed out by people that only make statements about what they want and what they thing and how they feel. Unless you live alone on a deserted island and never have any friends, you should probably grow up enough to lead with questions and express interest in others.

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In conclusion

These are just a few key points that highlight some things you should know about polyamory and the people who practice it. Over the next few weeks I want to talk about issues that come up a lot in e-mails I get and interactions I have which relate to the topic of polyamory. So, I felt an initial introduction would be a good place to start. 

An Honest Confession

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A girl in a group I belong to recently told me that I should be the one to organize the next event because “I don’t have trouble dealing with people.”

I am really glad that I come off that way, but it is not something that happened without a TON of work.

I just needed to confess somewhere that I have social anxiety, and that I always have, because the way she said “you don’t have trouble dealing with people” really got to me, and I needed to deal with that somewhere.

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My parents met at a First Edition Dungeons and Dragons quest at Berkley. My mom was the Dungeon Master, and she killed my dad every game. He always had to roll up a new character before they played again. I guess that was her version of flirting.

They were extremely awkward people.

My mom never wore makeup, high-heels, or skirts. She said it was because she was a feminist, but I suspect that it was because she didn’t understand all that stuff, and she didn’t care to learn.

My dad was an engineer. I know they aren’t all obtuse and awkward, but the stereotype that engineers ARE socially awkward comes from people like my dad. He had this laugh like a donkey that always made everyone stare, and he never even noticed that they were staring.

Seriously, it sounded just like a donkey.

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Growing up with parents who bought an isolated farm on purpose to raise us on, and who had no friends, did not help me learn to socialize.

Having a younger sister who was a sociopath as basically my only playmate didn’t help either. She was really frightening. I remember one time when she squeezed a baby chicken until its head came off, and then tossed it aside as if she had done nothing worthy of concern. I was so upset I cried hours in one of my secret hiding places.

In my teens, my parents kicked me out of their house.

I lived on the streets for years, and awful shit happened to me. I was a naive and pretty girl from a small town, so you can take some guesses as to how that worked out for me. If I hadn’t had social anxiety before, the PTSD from being homeless and all that came with that would have ensured that I developed it.

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All the while, I had Grave’s disease, so my body was attacking my thyroid gland. This caused my thyroid to overproduce hormones, and made me live in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

I couldn’t afford healthcare, and anyway, I thought it was all in my head when my heart started racing if I had to deal with a person. It felt like my heart would rise up in my throat and I would sweat and feel light-headed.

I just thought everyone always felt that way, you know? People all talk like they struggle with social stuff, so I always assumed they all had the same panic that I did. When I read the definition of a panic attack in one of my Psych textbooks, I remember being confused and thinking “that’s not normal?!?”

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The thing is; I am fucking stubborn.

So because I am fucking stubborn, I worked in a dungeon called Madam Tracy’s and taught myself to act confident and be a Dominatrix. I went to events and talked to strangers. I joined organizations and groups and made friends.

And because my husband is in the military, I have to keep making new friends, because we move away from the old ones. I have been making new friends constantly my entire life, and sometimes the fear of rejection is just crushing.

It has never gotten easier for me.

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Just a few weeks ago I was hanging out with a new friend that I met through a hiking group I started. She is cute, and smart, and interesting. So naturally I  feel big and dumb and awkward around her. And I remember thinking “I am so glad she can’t tell how freaked out I am. I hope I am not acting weird.” And I always feel that way. All the time, my entire life, for 35 years.

It didn’t stop me from having a promotions company and throwing events, owning an art gallery on the First Friday Art Walk in Phoenix, or being the managing editor of S.L.A.M. Magazine. It didn’t stop me from planning fetish proms, play parties, and camping trips. It didn’t stop me from speaking at conventions in front of rooms full of people.

As I said, I am stubborn.

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But no matter how stubborn I am, I still have social anxiety.

It’s not easy for me. And I know after all these years of practice that it never will be easy, because it’s exactly as bad as it always was.

The moral of the story is: Don’t assume that other people are more confident or more comfortable around people than you are. Just because they don’t talk about how they feel, doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings.

I am pretty fucked up inside and my nightmares are worse than any horror movie I have ever seen. There are places in my head that I can’t look because I will cry for days. I am glad that I come off as together, friendly, and good at planning. I am glad that people feel like asking me to take charge of events because I am “so good at it.” I am glad that I inspire confidence and motivation in others.

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However, it’s not easy.

I guess if I were to give this story a moral, the moral would be this: Just do the things you are terrified of. Push through the panic attacks and the sweat. Push through the sheer terror and don’t let yourself give up.

It never gets easier on the inside. That much is true. On the inside I am still the little girl hiding in a cupboard from my little sister because she was so scary. I am still the homeless teenager who was hurt too much to feel anything for a long time. And I am still the person who panics and says stupid stuff at inopportune moments in my head. 

However, on the outside, years of public speaking classes and practice have paid off. Outside my own head, I actually manage to convince people that I am cool and confident. Outside my head, I am the girl who stitched up my friends’ head after he got beat up by a gang. I am the girl who kept my calm when they pushed me out on stage in front of thousands of people to do a count down to Midnight at one of my shows on New Year’s. Outside my head I manage to speak at funerals, make friends, and plan events.

So I am living proof that someone who grew up with social anxiety and geeks for parents can still have friends and do stuff. And if I live as much as I possibly can outside of my head, I can even enjoy some of that stuff. And so can you.

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Shopping Suggestions

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Obviously I always suggest that you think globally but shop locally. However, that’s not something you can do often with kink (to my dismay.) Of course sometimes you know a great leather guy who does custom work, or something of the sort. But mostly, we have to order our toys online.

The question then becomes: Where to shop?

Of course you can always go to amazon.com, and hilariously, sometimes you’ll find a good deal.

However, let’s talk about some more targeted shopping.

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I have always had a soft spot for stockroom.com because they were willing to ship to me when I lived in South Korea.

Sex shops in Korea are very overpriced and have almost no selection.

Therefore, Stockroom.com saved me, and I will always be grateful.

Their stuff is definitely more targeted towards man-on-man action, but there are some awesome toys on there.

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My friend suggests Ethical Kink as a good resource.

They have synthetic leather and synthetic hair options, for those who don’t want to use animal products.

I admit that I can’t give up the smell of real leather.

However, I am totally happy to use fake hair on my tail butt plugs, since it lasts longer and doesn’t absorb bacteria.

So, check them out.

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For rope, you can’t do better than Twisted Monk.

These guys are awesome, and even include helpful videos on how to do various ties.

You could absolutely have an entire workshop based around everyone buying some rope from Twisted Monk and then following along with their videos.

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For crazy-classy collars, Eternity Locking Metal Collars is the most elegant thing you can find.

They are gorgeous, and having owned one, they are also easy to use and very functional. I highly recommend them.

They are not for play, of course. But for everyday kink wear that fits into a vanilla world, these collars are a beautiful option.

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There are also all kinds of suggestions online for where to shop, and I think that is a wise way to go.

Always go through someone who is recommended to you instead of a random website; just to be safe.

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I Am Not Sneaky

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Recently I made a new friend who I liked enough to have over at my house. However, I didn’t want her husband and my husband to sit there feeling weird while we talked, so I invited some of my other friends to make it more of a party, and less of a high-pressure situation.

This new friend of mine is vanilla, but she knew that my husband and I are kinky, and that we have other kinky friends. (That will be important in just a second.)

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So she came to the party and hung out. After a few drinks she asked me to go for a walk with her, and I agreed. And that’s when she dropped this little bomb on me. She said:

“I was worried it was going to be some kind of orgy because you are kinky. My husband and I didn’t know what we might be walking into.”

Now, I know you kinky people probably felt offended when you read that. I admit, I was a little taken aback myself.

However after some thought, I decided that I can see why a vanilla person might think that. I mean, these are people who hook up with strangers without trading STD tests, doing a scene negotiation, or any other preliminaries. They just haul off and have sex with people they don’t know without even talking about it beforehand. Vanilla folks really are just down with surprises. When you come from a group where things are surprises or not discussed, I guess I can see how you might think that other groups would be like that too.

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Those of us in the kink community are decidedly the opposite.

I mean, I have been in the kink community for 21 years, and no one has ever invited me to a surprise sex party. Everyone has always made it clear exactly what will be going on before the party starts.

I have never been to a play party where I was not told in advance what kind of play was okay/not allowed. I never been to a swinger’s party where the rules where not made VERY clear prior to showing up. I have never been to a dungeon where the orientation wasn’t a rule-heavy disclosure with a 5-page waiver to sign at the end.

We kink people really love our paperwork, discussion, and negotiations. We are not into surprises.

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When you think about it, it makes sense. If you are dating someone who has toys like a 15 inch dildo and a single-tail leather whip, you know damn well that you want to make your limits known up front before anything with ropes or handcuffs gets going.

Upon reflection, I realize that the kink community taught me to dislike surprise. When I was a kid I was fine with it. However, years of scene negotiations and consent forms later, I have become more open-minded and less inhibited than before, but also really not into surprises.

And you know what? I am cool with that. I will take the way I am over a vanilla person any day. No offense you lovely vanilla folks. You’re good people. But I will always be way more cautious and into full disclosure up front than a vanilla person will ever be.

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Alien Fetish?

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There is a site called Primal Hardware which sells mostly your usual sex toy fodder. However, a new edition made me laugh, and I wanted to share it with you.

It is a dildo-like device which allows you to deposit “alien eggs” made of gelatin into the orifice of your choice. I am not sure if the excitement is in having the eggs go in, or in having the eggs come out. It seems like gelatin would melt at body temperature though, which seems like it would make quite a mess.

Then again, I suppose if you already have plastic sheets, you could consider the gelatin to be tube and give that a shot? The device is named “G’lorp,” which I think is probably the perfect name.

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Dating Woes

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I sometimes use this blog to vent, and this is one of those times. I know first dates are difficult, and kink first dates are more complicated than most. And yet, even in a complicated subculture, I expect better than my recent meeting.

Recently I was talking with a guy off fetlife.com, and he seemed like a pretty decent human. I agreed to meet him because I hate wasting time chatting with someone for weeks on end only to find out that they are gross in person.

(In my opinion, this is an attitude that most people in their 30’s have. It’s a huge waste of time to message back and forth like teenagers while being nervous about meeting up. I just want to look people in the eyes and see if they are cool or not first thing.)

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We met in a park by my house (it’s a public place so I know I am safe, but not a place where I am obligated to buy anything because I am cheap), and that was when I realized that this guy was clueless.

I mean straight-up without a damn clue.

He had only ever watched kink porn, and it was obvious that he was conflicted about actually doing a kinky thing. It was also obvious that he didn’t look at people in the scene as people; but rather as nothing more than vehicles to fulfill a fantasy that he is ashamed of.

Not only that, but he confessed after some nervous pacing that he is married, and his wife doesn’t know that he’s even into kink.

Best part: I was supposed to just be chill with all those issues.

Like I said: Clueless.

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I didn’t even know where to begin in terms of saying “This really isn’t cool.” I knew it had to wait until he was not in the same place as me because his pacing made me think he could become violent.

So, I waited until we parted ways and then I sent him a message.

It would have been a public service for me to explain to him all the various things that he did wrong. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like getting into a long conversation about why you shouldn’t spend the first date only talking about what you want while pacing like a psycho.

In the message, I just told him that I wasn’t okay with the fact that he lies to his wife. (Which is true. If my husband lied to me I wouldn’t be happy at all.)

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BDSM requires trust, and honesty. That definitely means that you shouldn’t lie to your wife.

However, women who are kinky are also people. No really, we are people. So we aren’t really keen to hear all about your fantasies and all your selfish wants, rather than having you ask us what we are interested in.

You know what else: noobs suck. Be a decent human being and read up on the kink community first before you waste someone’s time on a date. Learn. Read. Get a clue. Don’t go out with someone from the community when you have never been to a single kink event, don’t know anything about it, and have a bunch of issues in your head about kink because you haven’t accepted yourself yet.

And finally, don’t act like a psycho. Pacing like crazy and being unable to talk like a normal person is weird. Don’t be weird.

Gods I hate dating.

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Fodder for Your Imagination

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Classic Damsel

Sometimes it can be hard to come up with ideas for scenes/kink nights. When that happens, I like to go look for things that inspire my imagination.

A great example I came across is this blog. The “40 Bondage Positions” are great because you can look at each picture, and imagine the things that you could do to someone when they were in that position.

From floggers and whips to butt plugs and dildos, and even a little teasing with feathers or other toys…

So if you were looking for ideas, that’s my suggestion of the moment, because it gave me a lot to think about.

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Box Tie