Ethical Slut

Not Poly

couple-holding-hands

i have a confession to make…Maximus and i went to Desire 2016 with the understanding that it was our last trip to Desire with the Life of the Swingset group. Yes, you read that right. But…we left Desire 2016 already booked for the 2017 trip with the Swingset.

So what was the deal? We are swingers, we are non-monogamous, we are kinky, but we are not polyamorous and at Desire 2015, we felt like the odd couple out. It seemed like there was such a big focus on polyamory that we started to feel like we were with the wrong crowd. And it wasn’t just a bunch of people we didn’t know or hang out with, we had friends, close friends actually, that started exploring poly after the 2015 trip.

And it squigged us out.

But we’d already booked the 2016 trip and we really like our friends, especially our poly-exploring friends!

Maximus and i talked about this dilemma quite a bit. What was our issue with poly? Was there an issue with poly?

First, we both view poly through a frame of infidelity. Both Maximus and i were unfaithful in previous relationships and Maximus had a previous spouse cheat and leave Him for this other person. We both understand the concept of poly, that it’s not cheating. And we both understand the comparison of polyamory to parental love, in that you can love more than one child, thus you can love more than one adult. In Maximus’ case, He and JB met another couple through a swinging website and all was great with the four of them as swinging friends. However, JB and the other husband fell in love and worked very hard to convince Maximus and the other wife (Ms. W) that it would be super fun if Maximus and Ms. W fell in love too–they could have a four-way relationship. But it was never called poly, never really was poly in that Maximus didn’t have feelings for Ms. W and it was just a ruse to distract Maximus and Ms. W from what was really going on. In my case, i cheated because i was lonely. My first husband, PiperC was professionally jealous and just plain stopped loving me because of it. i cheated to feel connected with people and to have sexual fun, but they were never poly relationships.

Second, we just see a lot of drama with poly relationships. When Maximus and i started seeing each other, we were fuck-buddies/travel-buddies. We lived three hours apart and had an understanding that we saw other people. We really weren’t dating, just friends with like interests (sex) and available to be a plus-one for anything, including travel. Ms. W was still in the picture as they were friends and Maximus carried a lot of (unsubstantiated, self-inflicted) guilt for her divorce, and was just one of many women He was FWB/FBs with. However, after a while, Ms. W became very possessive of Maximus once He and i took our relationship to the next level, and portrayed her relationship with Him as something it wasn’t when speaking to me or anyone else. Maximus was completely unaware this was happening and it caused a great deal of angst for us (as seen in posts in the beginning of our D/s relationship). So again, it wasn’t poly, but there was a component of three people and a lot of drama.

Unfortunately, we hear about/see the drama our new poly friends go through. And it’s heartbreaking for us. i am very empathetic, so seeing friends going through difficulties is hard for me. We’ve even had friends with situations similar to what Maximus went through with JB, in that two couples met, one husband and one wife liked each other and wanted the other husband and wife to like each other and all go poly in that configuration–but the other spouses weren’t into each other. It’s hard for Maximus to see that happen as it triggers some bad feelings. So we worry about our poly friends.

It’s not like we haven’t explored what polyamory is about. When i divorced OneGuy, i decided to figure myself out and explored all types of sexuality and relationships. Being that i had gotten into swinging with him, i wasn’t sure whether swinging was a me-thing or a we-thing. i had friends who were exploring tantra and i got involved in that, which got me exploring LoveTribe, and all different types of relationship avenues. i talked with, slept with, dated all kinds of people in different relationships, including polyamory, asked a lot of questions, and determined poly just wasn’t for me. Maximus and i even discussed poly when we first got together, having both just read The Ethical Slut and other books, but it just wasn’t our thing.

What brought this posting up was going through our D/s contract last week. Our contract outlines that we are primary relationships with one another, that we cannot be contracted as a Dominant/Domme or submissive to anyone else, although we can be in scenes with others in Dominant/submissive roles. Maximus stopped us at this point and wanted to discuss polyamory, wanting to make sure we were still on the same page about the topic as before. We talked about poly, about what it was, our feelings, and i just simply replied, “You fulfill all my needs–i just don’t need anyone else.”

And that’s where we are. We fulfill each others needs and we just don’t have any desires that aren’t met by the other. Furthermore, we endeavor to meet each others desires, whether it is something we can do ourselves or require assistance from others in doing. That is our joy.

So what changed with Desire 2016? We let poly be other people’s kink and didn’t let it bother us. We didn’t let ourselves worry about our friends in poly relationships–it’s there thing and it makes them happy, or not at times, but it’s their thing to deal with. We are here for them if they need a shoulder, but they understand we are here for support and not at all for direction. And we didn’t let it bother us that we were not poly amongst lots of poly people.

i did have a wonderful afternoon with a very special woman friend who is fairly new into a poly relationship situation with her spouse and another couple. She and i have always connected, both being s-types, and i feel very close with her. The following evening she pulled me aside to talk and she shared how special our afternoon together was and how connected she felt with me. It was such a wonderful moment, one i will always cherish. i wasn’t sure, however, what it all meant, being that she had started into polyamory. Maximus and i spoke about it and i decided i would just simply go talk with her about it. It was a great conversation and one we needed to have anyway, as Maximus and i needed to know how to navigate our relationship with her and her husband now that they were poly with another couple. She and i are connected but not in a polyamorous way–more of a soul sister, connected, loving way. It was great to have the clarity and not get squigged out by ambiguity.

Because we changed our perspective of the dynamics of this group we love, we will be back at Desire with the Life on the Swingset for years to come. i love this group!

YKINMKBYKIOK – Your Kink Is Not My Kink But Your Kink Is Ok

Categories: 24/7, Ethical Slut, polyamory, relationship, relationship needs | Leave a comment

Help from One Ethical Slut to Another

i’m learning more about myself through this process. Most of it i love, some of it, i’m unhappy to see. And that’s ok, this needs to be an honest process and so necessary for us. i’m not perfect, have never professed to be, but i don’t like disappointing anyone, myself, or someone i love.

As i’ve written about over and over, i have had trouble understanding where i fit in with Ms. W. This has brought conflict several times and in increasing frequency. The weekend before last, Maximus noted that it was going to continue to be an area of conflict for us. i’ve insisted that i was not jealous and He said that He thought i was initially, but had come to realize that i was not, through my insistence.

i’m NOT dwelling on things, i’m moving forward! Today, as part of my self-directed journey to figure this out and to prevent ever again having a blow-up such as i had Sunday, i decided to reference a book i read a year ago, The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. I found this book extremely insightful a year ago when considering my future in relationships. In fact, after Maximus and i met, i shared the book with Him because i thought it could be helpful for Him as well, as we’d had many conversations similar to the issues discussed in the book.

i remembered that there had been an entire chapter on jealousy and thought perhaps i needed to read it again. i have never considered myself a jealous person and have insisted that i have not been jealous, but after reading this chapter, i really need to own up to the fact that i, gabriella, have been jealous. i don’t like it at all. it feels like a personality failure. But i really need to own this and learn how to deal with it so i never blow up again.

“Let jealousy be your teacher. Jealousy can lead you to the very places where you most need healing. It can be your guide into into your own dark side and show you the way to total self-realization. Jealousy can teach you how to live in peace with yourself and with the whole world if you let it.” Deborah Anapol, Love Without Limits

Easton and Hardy advise “Once we are willing to confront the feeling of jealousy rather than run away from it, we can see more clearly what jealousy truly is for each of us…[it] may be an expression of insecurity, of fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, feeling left out, feeling not good enough, or feeling inadequate.” They look at the roots of jealousy, from grief and loss, competitiveness and a desire to be number one, etc. i think the latter is true for me, so much so that it is written into our BDSM contract that we are each others primary relationship–i made sure that was in there. i think that my fear is that by Maximus sleeping with Ms. W., i lose my edge, that she is somehow diminishing my position with Him. It is the ultimate intimate thing, sleeping with someone, we have agreed that. i am jealous that Maximus desires to have that with her despite me agreeing, without exception, to not ever sleep with anyone else. It causes me great fear and insecurity.

Ok, i admit it, i’m jealous, but how do i fix this?

“So reassure yourself: there is no graceful way to unlearn jealousy. It’s kind of like learning to skate- you have to fall down and make a fool of yourself a few times before you become as graceful as a swan.”

So i’ve got the making a fool of myself down. The challenge, is restoring my internal security, not dependent upon Maximus’ love. This is not new for me. This is the thing i know about and fear, the boundary issue i have with love that i shared with Maximus (see the section on the permeable membrane in Becoming gabriella). Since my divorce, my personal power has been from me, from within, i fell in love with me. i need to remember to continue this despite being in love with Maximus, and not let His love for me be my validation–He doesn’t want this, He wants the strong, self-validated woman He met and fell in love with. Part of this is owning my shit, and the other is recognizing that i cannot do things or agree to things solely because i don’t want to disappoint Him. During my meltdown, i screamed, “i said i’d never do this, that i’d never lie to myself!” This is what i felt like, as if i had made decisions against myself, and it felt untrue. Maximus asked if i had been lying to Him. i hadn’t lied, would never lie, but i had disregarded my needs, not communicated my fears, and went ahead with an agreement that i thought i would learn to live with. i could not take it anymore and exploded–how could i be surprised? It’s not fair to me or Maximus for me to do this.

“Jealousy is not a cancer that you can cut out. It is a part of you, a way that you express fear and hurt. What you can do is change the way you experience jealousy, learn to deal with it as you learn to deal with-any emotion-until it becomes, not overwhelming and not exactly pleasant, but tolerable: a mild disturbance, like a rainy day rather than a typhoon.”

What do i need to do to change how i experience jealousy?

  • Acknowledge it. And don’t take it as a personality failure.

“It is particularly important that you own your jealousy, to yourself and to your intimates. If you try to pretend that you are not jealous when you are, others will perceive you as dishonest, or worse yet, they may believe you, and see no need to support or protect you because you’re fine, right? If you pretend to yourself that you are not jealous when you are, then your own emotions may try devious routes to bring themselves to your attention, which can generate intensely irrational feelings and behavior, temper tantrums and hissy fits, or perhaps even make you physically ill.” 

“When you deny jealousy, or any other difficult emotion, you put yourself in a harsh and difficult landscape, full of pitfalls and land mines. “Acting out” means doing things you dont understand, driven by emotions you have refused to be aware of- and denying your jealousy can lead you to act out harsh feelings in ways you will regret later.” 

  • Remember that it is my job to get my needs met.
  • Allow myself to feel it, but refuse to act on it. Yes, it is how you feel, but don’t give it power.

“Just feel it. It will hurt, and you will feel frightened and confused, but if you sit still, and listen to yourself with compassion and support for the scared child inside, the first thing you will learn is that the experience of jealousy is survivable. You have the strength to get through it.”

“By actively choosing to experience a painful feeling like jealousy, you are already starting to reduce its power over you. First, you decide that you will not allow your jealousy to make you run screaming over the horizon. And so you exercise your first form of control over jealousy. I will hold steady and stay with myself and my feelings.”
  • Be good to myself. Keep my virtues at their full value and cherish them.
“…remember that the most important part of love is not the love, however wonderful, that you or another can have for your beauty and strength and virtue. The real test of love is when a person- including you- can know your weaknesses, your stupidities and your smallnesses, and still love you.”
“Give yourself permission to take good care of yourself while you learn
to work through jealousy…nurture yourself. Give yourself permission to take the best possible care of yourself. You deserve it.”
  •   Cry. Let it out.
“The images you see in your mind are the perfect reflection of your own fears. One way to come to terms with your fears is to acknowledge them: “Yes, I’m afraid of that.” You can take it even further, and work through the fears by envisioning the worst possible scenario that you can imagine. Go ahead, wallow in it.Elaborate it until it becomes ridiculous.” 
    • Write about it without blaming anyone, including myself.
      “It is okay to cover pages of your journal with FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK I HATE THIS! in bright red ink…Try writing down your stream of consciousness, which means whatever you find in your head whether or not it makes sense, and see what you get.Treasures, jewels of self knowledge are often found here.”

      “Make a list of everything you value about your relationship, and put it aside for a rainy day. Be an optimist, turn your mind to the positive end of things. Value what you have, and what you get from your partner; the time, attention and love that he shares with you, the good stuff that fills your cup. Avoid being the pessimist who focuses on what is not there, the energy that goes somewhere else. That energy is not subtracted from what you get- relationships are not balanced like checkbooks. So when you are feeling deprived, remember all the good stuff you get from your partnership.”

      • Breathe.
      • Communicate effectively. Own it.
      “When we tell our partners that we feel jealous, we are making ourselves vulnerable in a very profound way. When our partners respond with respect, listen to us, validate our feelings, support and reassure us, we feel better taken care of than we would have if no difficulty had arisen in the first place. So we strongly recommend that you and your partners give each other the profoundly bonding experience of sharing your vulnerabilities. We are all human, we are all vulnerable, and we all need validation.”

      i will use these strategies. i have to. i cannot go through what happened ever again, not for us, not for me. This was devastating and tore my own heart out. Its disappointing to realize i’m jealous, but i am and i need to acknowledge that. i never thought i’d be jealous, ever, and part of the disappointment is being wrong. i do feel better acknowledging it.

      “So when you get this far, congratulate yourself. Celebrate your successes: write “I am a genius!” two hundred times with lots of bright colors.”

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      Categories: BDSM, BDSM relationship, Ethical Slut, jealousy | Leave a comment

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