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. 

Generally Accepted Terms

I have lamented before that every community used different terminology for different things, and how this can be confusing if you travel a lot. Every scene has their own inside jokes. However, there definitely are some terms that are generally accepted in all scenes, and it’s important to get them right. People can’t make informed and consensual decisions if they are not properly informed of what is going to happen, after all. And we do always strive for safe, sane, and consensual fun.

munch

Munch: A munch is when a group of kinky folks get together in a vanilla setting. This often involves going somewhere that serves food, so the term “munch” refers to that. However, I have also attended munches at theme parks, disused prisons, and various other interesting locations.

Note: When you agree to go to a munch, you are expected to dress vanilla unless otherwise specified. It is mostly about getting a chance to meet people, and it is generally assumed that the discussion of kink will be saved for more private areas where no one can be overheard and “outed” by accident to a co-worker of family member.

workshop

Workshop: This is when someone who has some sort of area of expertise chooses to teach the basics to others. This is generally in a private space, like a home or rented club. Dress as specified, because sometimes a group doesn’t want to attract attention, and will ask for vanilla dress. My favorite workshop that I have attended was at a public dungeon called the CSPC, and again, this was strictly for learning purposes. Play is not on the table for such events.

Note: When you agree to go to a workshop, you realize there will be frank discussions about kink-related things. A good presenter usually makes handouts, and sometimes brings another person to demonstrate a specific thing (for proper flogging techniques, I might bring my husband and demonstrate on him.)

play party

Play Party: For a play party, you can expect it to be at a private home because most are. Usually you will be invited to bring your own toys, and other people will bring theirs. It is okay to actually use the toys, and sometimes toys can be shared between consenting folks, so make sure to bring cleaning agents if you plan to bring toys and loan them out. Again, you may be asked to dress vanilla so as not to attract attention to the house of the host, or you may be invited to dress in kink attire. Always ask.

Note: When you agree to go to a play party, you are obviously consenting to seeing people naked. After all, a good flogging session doesn’t involve clothes. You will see other people playing. Note that you must always give a decent amount of space for a scene, so the Dom has room to swing things and not hit you. Remember that it is never okay to interrupt someone else scene or try to involve yourself if you were not invited, and it is never okay to touch someone else’s toys without permission.

orgy

Orgy: These can be at swinger’s clubs like The Velvet Rope and Club Desire, or they can be at a private home. Generally it is expected that you will bring condoms (regardless of your gender) and that you will follow the same rules as a play party in terms of respecting someone’s space unless invited. Even at an orgy, rape is still not okay. Dress, again, depends on the host. Many people who host parties do not want their neighbors to know, so vanilla clothing is often expected.

Note: Going to an orgy does not mean you consent to sex. You can just go and watch. People are still expected to respect your personal space unless invited into it, and you should still negotiate all scenes before they take place. You are consenting to see people naked, but this does not mean you have to be naked. Remember to give everyone space and, as was the motto of Club Sesso, “Don’t be a creep.”

Remember: If you organize events, you need to use the correct terms. People need to know what they are consenting to in advance. You do not want to create an atmosphere where people feel uncomfortable, because this reflects poorly on the community as a whole, and no one should want to do that.