Varying Stages of Attachment

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Note: Someone told me recently that being kinky and being poly are not orientations. In this post, I want to describe how my brain works as a poly person, and why it is fundamentally different than that of a monogamous person. It is absolutely my orientation, and I can’t understand or accept the way monogamous people see relationships.

First you should know that I move around a lot.

This did not start because my husband is in the military. In fact, that actually causes me to stay places longer, since we have to stay until he completes a set of orders.

Long before my husband was a part of my life, I moved a lot.

It started because I was poor and lived in a neighborhood that was in the process of being gentrified. I would sign a six month or one year lease, and then at the end of the lease, the apartment complex would try to double the rent and I would have to move.

After awhile, I just got used to moving a lot. I ended up really liking it, since it is a chance to go through all the things you own and figure out what really matters to you. Do you actually need to keep that receipt from that one date? How much do you really care about that book you read that was only so-so?

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However, the older I got, the farther the moves got. I actually even traveled from state-to-state with the Renaissance Festival for awhile.

This kind of lifestyle means that you will leave people behind. I know that in the movies and on TV, you would never leave someone if you really loved them. But in real life, it’s pretty normal to choose travel and adventure over a person. In particular, it is pretty normal if the relationship is less about love and more about sex.

Don’t get me wrong- I am not some heartless bitch. I have at least a fondness for everyone I sleep with for any respectable length of time. I mean obviously you don’t always get names at an orgy, but other than that, I get names and remember birthdays and cultivate an emotional attachment to some degree.

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And yet, an emotional attachment does not mean that I will stay with that person no matter what. In fact, the one time I chose a person over an experience, I really grew to regret my choice and resent the person I made it for. I had been offered the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica for a semester via a scholarship my Spanish teacher put me up for. I said no because the person I was with at the time would have failed out of college without me to wake him up and kick his ass to class. It was a huge mistake, and I wish I would have spent that semester in Costa Rica.

So that being said: What happens to a relationship or attachment when you leave the place where the other person is?

It turns out that most people consider the relationship to be over at that point. I find that extremely sad. Maybe it is because I am poly, but when someone matters to me, they just keep on mattering to me no matter where they are or where I am.

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Example: There is this guy who wouldn’t like me using his name, so let’s call him Chris (just swapping one common name for another.) I met Chris in South Korea when I was a teacher and he was a medic in the air force. We had sex and talked and stuff, and then he got deployed to Afghanistan.

He did two tours in Afghanistan, which was hard for him.

Then, he was shipped to a base in Tucson Arizona when his enlistment was up. I came to see him while he was out-processing from the air force, at his tiny little house with no air conditioning.

Later, he came to see me at a fetish club in Phoenix.

We met up for sex, but also for company.

When someone travels similar paths, you share a bond. We had lived some of the same places, for one. And for another thing, I had seen a lot of violence and death in my teens. We had common ideas because we had common experiences.

Leaving on a jet plane

When he got out, he moved to Kansas and I moved to Oregon. Both of us had families to go spend time with after our time abroad.

However, we still talked on the phone and kept in touch.

Later, I moved to Guam. He is still in Kansas. And yet, we still keep in touch.

The other day, I sent him a picture of me in the bath to try to cheer him up on Valentine’s Day, and promised that he was always welcome to visit my bed whether it was here in Guam, or in Hawaii when we move there.

And I meant it.

See, my thinking is this: If you had sex with someone and it didn’t suck, why wouldn’t you do it again? And if someone moves away but you still like them, then why wouldn’t you still talk?

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This has gotten me into trouble here and there. Sometimes a guy will stay “in a relationship” with me, but start dating a monogamous girl. Then I will turn up to visit and we will have sex (because he does not tell me about the monogamous girl,) and then she ends up getting hurt.

Now first, that is on the guy for not telling me that he started a new (and monogamous) relationship.

But second, why does it have to be this way? What is actually so bad about borrowing someone when you are in town?

I mean, if I had known about the girl, I would have asked her permission (obviously) but it just seems to me that people you have had sex with are part of ongoing relationships until someone says stop.

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Example: There was a guy that I dated on and off for fifteen years. We were never soul mates or anything, but he was pretty and I liked to have sex with him. I also liked to just sit and talk with him and stare into his eyes, because he always looked so loving and devoted.

However, a few years ago he started seeing a girl who convinced him that I was “taking advantage of him” by not wanting to marry and be committed, but still wanting to hang out and have sex sometimes.

As a result, he made a huge show of saying “We are breaking up and I never want to see you again.”

This hurt my feelings. I don’t like breakups. Wandering away from someone but still keeping the connection open is fine. I like to explore and try new things, so I am always moving forward. But just because I am wandering, doesn’t mean I sever ties with everywhere I have ever been.

He broke up with me.

So I did the rational thing: I decided that he was dead to me, and I moved on with my life.

Divorce

Several times since that day, he has written me e-mails and Facebook messages and whatnot trying to reconnect with me. He keeps saying that he misses me and that we were good together.

But for me, the relationship is over.

It ended when he hurt me and I stopped seeing him as an ongoing relationship and started seeing him as an ex. It cannot be restarted again, because in my mind, a relationship is over once it ends. It is a final thing. I have to set a boundary (which I have few of) and tell myself “this is really over.” After that, I cannot change what has passed because boundaries stay in place or else nothing makes sense.

Besides, there was no reason to say that he never wanted to talk to me or see me again. He could have just said: “I want to go for this monogamous girl, so we need to keep this friends-only for a little bit to see how things go.” I would have been fine with that because we were living in different states at the time (although he was only in Washington state and I was in Oregon, so it was a short drive.)

Anyway, the point is: There could have been the lesser boundary placed of “no sex right now but still friends,” or even “Let’s take a break for a few months or a year.” But that was not what happened. Instead he placed the boundary of: “I never want to see you again.” And I respect boundaries. Forever.

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My point is this: How you view relationships is probably different from me.

Monogamous people tend to do this really uncomfortable thing where they feel that they own a person. They do not want to share that person with anyone, and they expect that person to terminate all other relationships as a condition of “being in a relationship.”

This is idiotic.

Think of it this way: I have always been a guy, but I live in a girl’s body. I decided to just accept this, and so I am (as the Native Americans would say) “of two spirits.” It’s fine, but it means that I really need my guy friends to go drinking and blow off steam with. I need time to get my male energy out, particularly if I happen to be dating men at the moment.

Two of my oldest friends are male. One is a few years younger, and one is a few years older. I have never had sex with either of them because they are my designated male friends. But in order to keep them as friends when dating, I have always had to call them my younger brother and my older brother. This is because both men and woman that I have dated have found our relationship to be “too close.”

 

As an introvert, I happen to feel that I value relationships more, since I have to stretch so far to make them. But more than that, being close to another human in a non-sexual sibling kind of way should not be considered unnatural.

Yet monogamy dominates society and so we are all expected to whip ourselves into a frenzy of jealousy for every little thing.

I adopted a kid as well. He was homeless and his mom was in jail. I grew up homeless, so I had a desire to help him based on personal experience. However, everyone I dated saw him as an “unrelated male” and I have been accused of sleeping with him since he was thirteen (who fucks a thirteen year old anyway?!?)

Jealousy is seen as some sort of value in “normal” world, and so the fact that I would run my fingers through his hair when he had a nightmare was seen as “wrong.” But he had been literally tortured as a child by a meth-crazy mother, and he had awful nightmares about days of being duct taped and locked in a closet without food, water, or anywhere to relieve himself. What kind of care-taker doesn’t show sympathy and compassion for a torture victim? And after I had similar experiences when I was on the streets!

I think you can see that jealously is often beyond the rational. It can be so unbelievably uncalled for at times that I have been utterly incredulous with people. Their heartless expectation that all relationships outside a romantic one should be cold and without touch is unreasonable. I think any sane person should be able to see that.

In the same way, I do not think it is reasonable to expect people to just stop communicating with a person that they wandered away from. If I made a connection with someone, sexual or otherwise, and then wandered out of their country and into another, this does not stop them from being part of my life.

To me, relationships are threads in the fabric of my universe, and they should run continuously in an unbroken cloth from the point of entrance in my life until my death. I hate to cut a thread out of the tapestry of my life, and a person must do something pretty bad to get me to do so.

Plus, I think relationships can (and should) evolve over time. Sometimes it is harder than others. For example, I have this ex who I just really like having sex with. I don’t know why. We just had awesome chemistry, and he intuitively understood what my body wanted. It was awesome.

He has decided that we should no longer have sex (no reason given.) I respect that, but it doesn’t mean that I want to lose the relationship. After all, he carries some of my memories, and therefore a part of who I am. So he is still a Facebook friend, on my Christmas card list, and someone I visit when I am in the same country/state. But the relationship has evolved from sexual to friendship.

Another example is literally laying in my bed right now. She is my ex girlfriend, and she is visiting with her husband. Her husband is not the sort to be interested in sex with me or my husband, so even though we used to date her, she is now off-limits.

That doesn’t mean I want to stop talking to her! She is this amazing and talented person who I admire. Now, does she still make me turn into a complete idiot around her because she is so beautiful and refined? Yes. Totally. But pretty girls have always done that to me, whether I was sleeping with them or not.

My point is, both of these people are part of my tapestry, and I value them as people. They are not just pieces of meat to me. And so, I prefer to keep them woven into my life in whatever way is appropriate at the time.

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Anyway, this is how a polyamorous person views relationships. They are ongoing. They may go in and out of being sexual, but they continue.

It is worth noting that some relationships never really get started, and those don’t count.

I have a habit of meeting people and having sex with them pretty soon after, because I want to see their soul and decide if I like them. Sometimes I decide I don’t like them. Those are the ones who don’t get a call back. One guy just stuck me as a shit person. Another was angry and became violent when I asked to change the nature of our relationship because the sex had lost my interest. A girl I used to date started cutting herself and saying she was a sinner for being a lesbian, and I quietly backed away from that because gods are not my thing.  So, I do end relationships with people that I don’t really like.

However, for the people who are good people, I see no reason to ever stop being attached to them.

This brings me to the final thought on the matter. People ask me how many people I am dating, and I am never sure how to answer this. To me, dating means:

Staying in touch with the person, have had sex with them, and would have sex with them again if the opportunity presented itself.

I feel that this is “dating” because it is closeness with the potential for sex. And, by that definition, I would say that I am casually dating W, Z, other Z, M, J, and R. So, seven people. And yet, I am only in one in-person relationship at the moment because I am stuck on Guam.

I guess you could say it is shades of dating.

Currently I am engaged in threes shades of dating, but there are others:

1. Level One: Dating in-person, with all the in-person obligations. (R)

2. Dating, the exchanging of gifts on holidays and birthdays, and sex when in person. (M,J,W)

3. Dating and keeping in touch, with sex when in person. (Z,Z)

Is that too complicated? Maybe for you. But, it is how the world exists for me. I did try to be normal when I was young. I tried to end old romantic relationships with people when I started a new romantic relationship, as the monogamous folks tell you that you must do. But when even that wasn’t enough and people were accusing me of sleeping with my brothers and my kid, that was it for me. Monogamous people are insane.

 

Honest Appreciation

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A fan wrote to me a little while ago, saying that he had read my post “Tell Them They’re Sexy” and thought it was good advice. He wanted a more exciting sex life, and so here are his words on what he did:

“I told her that she was pretty every day. Really. Every single day I told her ‘you look nice’ when I came home. And she didn’t warm up at all. In fact, she seems stiffer than ever.” 

Now, I thought I made myself perfectly clear in the post Tell Them They’re Sexy that mechanical praise would not get the job done. However, it seems that some people read my words of “find something you can really like about them and fall in love with it,” and you just didn’t take my meaning.

So for the record, I am not saying that you should repeat tired cliches like “You have the most beautiful eyes” or “I love your dimples.” These are the stuff of pulp romances and they are not said with feeling or meaning because they are too cliche for anyone to ever mean them again.

When I said you have to fall in love with things about your significant other and then vocalize that love, I meant it. You are not trying to win the award for best actor by selling a lie. You have to actually love things about the person who you want to inspire confidence in.

Really.

You have to actually love them.

Is that such a surprise?

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Let me explain this in a whole different way than I did last time so that maybe everyone will get it.

When I was around 12 years old I read a book that helped me to think in terms of the other person’s wants. The book is called “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It was written in the 1930’s by Dale Carnegie, and revised for the modern reader in 1981.

I know for most girls it’s easy to think about life in terms of the wants of another person, since women so often change everything about themselves to fit into the world of a man they care for. This seems to be a basic instinct among women, and I am not sure if its evolutionary or societal, but I have watched it happen to many female friends.

For me, fitting into someone else’s universe was impossible when I was young. My world was huge and it took up all the space in any room or relationship. So I read this book, and it helped me to learn to think in terms of another person’s wants and needs.

This helped me make other people happy, which in turn made me happy.

 

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Note: Pardon my bad paraphrase, but I am afraid an exact quote would have taken five pages, as Dale Carnegie had a way of explaining things that took a very long time.

There is only one way to get a person to do what you want. It is to make them want to do it.

Sure, you can make them want to do it at the end of a gun, but they will stop the moment your back is turned. So the best way to get another person to do what you want is to sincerely make them want to do whatever it is that you need. 

The way to get others to want to do what you want is to express sincere appreciation for them and help them feel important. 

Let me use a direct quote for effect here: “No! No! No! I am not suggesting flattery! Far from it. I’m talking about a new way of life. Let me repeat that. I am talking about a new way of life.”

In other words, the book is saying that you have to change yourself.

Instead of spending all your time thinking about yourself and your own wants, you have to stop and remember that every person you meet, from your spouse to the clerk at Circle K, has a life full of wants and desires and hopes. And you have to take the time to consider those people- really consider them.

Once you consider a person, you might be able to begin to see things from their point of view. You might learn to appreciate their life, and in doing so, to appreciate them.

There is no shortcut to giving people sincere appreciation, and if you fail to do this, you won’t get anyone to care about doing what you want.

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This is what I was saying before in my original post. I may not have used the same words or examples, but in essence, this is what I was saying.

You can’t just tell a person that they look nice. That won’t convince anyone of anything.

Rather, you learn to love what there is to love.

For example: My husband is really dinky for a guy. He looks like you could fold him up and put him in a briefcase. His shoulders are so narrow that the military armor he has to wear needs to come in child sizes in order to fit him properly (and tragically, yes, they do make child-sized armor.)

Anyway the point is, this is counter to what most women want and what society glorifies.

And I will admit that in the past, even I have appreciated plenty of men for their broad shoulders and strong stance.

However, there are things to appreciate in a slight form and those are things that I have learned because of my husband.

He didn’t happen to come in a tall or broad package. This is the package that the person I love came in. And as such, it is the package that I learned to love.

Now, I appreciate the way that he looks so adorable curled up in ball. I appreciate how I can hug him and just wrap all of me around him. I appreciate that his slight stance has given him the most adorable little butt.

And here’s the important part: I tell him these things.

I learned to appreciate him for who he is and the body that he lives in, and I tell him how I feel all the time.

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If you want someone to really feel comfortable around you and to open up and be fun, this is what you have to do. It is the only way.

Like I said, there is no shortcut to making someone feel appreciated. You actually have to learn to appreciate them.

How long does this take?

Well, my favorite boys and girls have all appreciated me for what I was right from the start.

Who doesn’t love a man who will undress you slowly while telling you why they love each new part of you that they are seeing? I have little love handles, and I love when someone can see them and kiss them and love them right away; rather than avoiding looking at them or touching them (which makes me feel like they are ashamed of the parts of me that they don’t like.)

I have been impressed right off the bat by someone who will undress me with praise and appreciation for every part of me, and then make sure I get off twice before they suggest penetrative sex. Those are the keepers.

However, even if this doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s not as though you can’t learn. Really! Read this until it becomes clear, and start learning to appreciate your partner (or if you don’t have a partner, then start making plans for when you do.) There is no reason why old dogs cannot learn new tricks! In fact, people are learning new things every day and becoming better for it. You can too!

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Sometimes a person you meet might have been torn down a lot by people or events in the past, and they might then have a pretty big wall around them. You will have to break down that wall over time with love and affection, and that might be a bit of a challenge. Just know that if you really appreciate them for what they are, you will win them over before too long.

And then? Well… that’s when the fun begins.

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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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24/7 Play

A rather cute couple

A rather cute couple

I recently got asked about the difference between 24/7 play and “only in the bedroom” play. So, thought I’d write a quick post about it.

First, I should mention that most of the couples I know fall somewhere in the middle. That is to say, you do not have to be exclusively one or the other. I think it happens in most couples that one person tends to lead and one person tends to follow.

I should also note that those roles are not always the same as a person’s BDSM roles. I know of lot of submissives who are very authoritative outside of the bedroom, and I know a lot of Dommes who are very easy-going and agreeable outside of the bedroom. So real-life roles and BDSM roles are not always the same.

But let’s skip the stories about CEOs who end up in a dungeon begging a girl in thigh-high boots to spank them. That is most certainly a thing, but it is not the subject of today’s post.

So BDSM “only in the bedroom” means just that. You walk out of the bedroom and become two individuals on even footing, with no power dynamic at play. That’s easy to understand.

Where it gets complicated is in a 24/7 power exchange. I think when people ask about the difference between BDSM in the bedroom and all the time, what they really want to know is how a 24/7 relationship works.

A 24/7 power exchange means that a couple finds ways to work BDSM into every aspect of their lives. The submissive will have a collar to wear in pubic. Something simple that does not attract unwanted attention. And their Dom or Domme will tell them things they must do each day, such as writing assignments (explore a scene you want to play in an e-mail to me), forced masturbation (you will masturbate until you orgasm in the bathroom at work,) etc…

A subtle collar, like a sub would wear in a public setting

A subtle collar, like a sub would wear in a public setting

I have no opinion on which is better. I know some people who have gotten far too into a 24/7 exchange and lost their own identity for a time, but it seems to me that they enjoyed it. The biggest drawbacks that I see are when a break-up happens. That is why I think leather families are so important, as well as having protectors and people who look out for you. It seems to me that there is no relationship harder to leave than a 24/7 power exchange.

I am not currently in any. I have been, but I generally choose to keep my kink to the bedroom. In real life, I want someone to tell me where they want to eat and what they want to do. I want them to offer opinions and challange me intellectually. I am not saying those things can’t happen in a 24/7 exchange. I am sure they can! But they never have for me. All the 24/7 exchanges I have been in involved a person who gave their will over to me, to the point of expecting me to pick out their clothes for the day and keep track of what they ate. It as a lot of work, and unlike some Dommes, I did not get off on having that much control.

Each couple must choose for themselves what they think is best. But remember people; safe, sane, and consensual. A good Domme never looses sight of the well-being of their submissives, and always protects their free will, while keeping their best interests at heart. If you’re going to be a Domme, be a good one who cares deeply for your submissive and makes sure they are always okay, and never too lost in you to know what is best for themselves.

Going Vanilla

We've almost all tried it...

We’ve almost all tried it…

Sometimes the scene can get a little uncomfortable where you are, right? Like, this one time when I was dating 3 guys who I assumed all knew that we were not exclusive (since it had never come up and I had never agreed to such a thing).

Meanwhile, they were working on the opposite assumption that not talking about it meant we were committed. So they “find out” about each other, and my stuff gets thrown off of a balcony. And I thought; well I’m not moving, but everyone in this scene is mad at me right now. So… maybe it’s time to date outside until things cool down and I can tell my side of the story.

I am not, by nature, given to monogamy (which eventually everyone agree is okay as long as the people I’m dating don’t ask for monogamy and I sneak around.) In time, my side was heard and everyone came around and decided the guys were assholes for how they planned out the whole throwing my shit into a parking lot thing.

However like I said, at first it was tense and I didn’t want to turn up at a fetish prom for awhile. That’s when I met a nice vanilla boy who took me shooting in the desert with his Mouser and his SKS, and told me that I was pretty. And I thought; eh, what the fuck? I’ll give it a try.

To this day, it was my only monogamous relationship, and my only vanilla relationship as well.

So what of it?

Well, often I see people asking; can kinky people be happy with vanilla people? And that is up to each person to decide for themselves. Me personally, it lasted for 2 years. We dated longer than that, but I only managed to be happy for two years. The rest of the time I just hated him.

It’s not like I didn’t try to open his mind a little. I took him to fetish proms and hung a whip by the bedside. But he was willfully ignorant of anything BDSM related, and when I tried to bring it up he always seemed to be busy or uninterested.

Now of course, there are always different variables at play. Every situations is unique and I can’t tell you what will happen to you. But for those that have asked if I ever had a vanilla relationship; yes I did. And no, it did not work out. I ended up being very unfair to him and picking fights over nothing because I was unsatisfied in bed. And he was good too. The sex was great and he always got me off before we got to the penetration part of the sex. If I were a vanilla girl, it would have been the best sex of my life. But I am me, so I got really bored.

It’s just my experience. And it’s in response to a faithful reader who asked. I’m not trying to tell you how it is, and your relationship may be different.

For me though; yes I tried it. I went vanilla. And no, I will not go back.