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Anonymous asked:

kinda hurts my feelings you called triads cliche, but understand your reasoning behind it. Please don't make my relationship seem like it has less meaning to others that are just entering the polly lifestyle or those out side of it.

Sorry. Let me clarify. (I’ve already edited the post in question.)

Triads are awesome! I mean, they can be awesome, just like plenty of other relationship structures can be awesome! (And they can have issues and be problematic, too, just like other kinds of relationships.)

But I think the stories that get told about poly relationships disproportionately feature triads. There’s a particular narrative around a couple opening up and finding a third that gets too much attention. When this is all or most of what people see, it ends up misrepresenting a wider community.

And when that particular experience starts getting seen as the normative polyamory experience, I think that hurts all of us.


Anonymous asked:

My gf and I have a slightly different relationship than some people, we like to have sec with other people. We always do it together, as a couple and have yet to have sex with someone else individually. We also have slightly different ideas about where to take our relationship but that doesn't cause any friction between the two of us. I was just wondering, does that make us polyamorous?

You’re definitely nonmonogamous. And that’s part of why I like that word, that it’s more inclusive.

Some people use polyamorous specifically for people who are involved in multiple loving relationships. It’s not clear from what you’ve said if you fit that, though, or if you might want to fit that in the future.

Other people use polyamorous a little more inclusively.

I don’t draw such a fine line, partly because I’m personally interested both in having multiple loving relationships and in also having casual sex, and both of those are important to my identity. I might be poly either way, but if it’s used more narrowly, poly isn’t as good a description.

I wouldn’t be offended if you called yourself polyamorous. But some folks who really identify with that narrower definition might feel like you were invading their space.

Regardless of what you call yourself, you’ll definitely find plenty of advice and insight that’s relevant to your current relationship under the category of polyamory. And you’ll find folks with similar experiences in some poly communities.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a call from a TV producer working on a “poly dating show.” A few readers had some reasonable criticisms of the post. Here’s my advice for projects like this:

1. Unhealthy relationships can make compelling stories, but they are bad press for our community. Focus on finding ways to make positive relationships interesting to watch (or read).

2. There is a huge variety of poly relationships out there. It’s your responsibility to make it clear a particular structure doesn’t represent everyone, particularly if you showcase couples forming triads (it’s a narrative that’s been told a disproportionate amount of times).

3. You know less about this community than people who are in it. Get some of them involved in the project on the production side and in the planning stages. And just do your research.

Donate to the 2014 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago

Dear Friends,

I’m currently doing a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance. In my role as Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, I help Bonaventure House provide two years of comprehensive services to homeless individuals with HIV. By including housing, case management, occupational therapy, spiritual care, and aftercare, we support graduates of our program moving towards living independently.

I really believe in the work we do. I see our program transform our residents’ lives, and I also understand that we’re a piece of a much broader solution to the HIV epidemic in the United States.

Homeless individuals in the United States are about ten times more likely to have HIV. While struggles with healthcare and discrimination make it more likely that someone will lose their housing, homelessness also puts people at greater risk for getting HIV. It’s more difficult to get medical treatment without stable housing, and treating those who have HIV is an important part of stopping it from spreading to others.

On September 14th, I’m participating in the Chicago AIDS Run & Walk. Ninety percent of the money we raise for this event will go directly back to supporting our programs and services. This is also an opportunity to raise awareness and fight stigma around HIV. Knowing how to prevent infection and being willing to seek treatment are vital pieces too.

I’m asking you to consider making a donation. Maybe you can spare a dollar, or a hundred dollars. How about five?

Thank you,

P.S. You can also join our team, share this with your friends, or just take a couple of minutes today to learn about HIV in the United States. (Here’s a good article to start with. Or follow Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance on Facebook for links to more about HIV and homelessness.)

Hey! I’m Dan.

This blog is less personal than a lot of the other poly blogs on Tumblr. Like, I write more about ideas than about myself. And when I tell stories about myself, they’re often in random bits and pieces. But I am a real person! Sometimes I see other folks periodically reintroduce themselves as they get new followers, so I kind of thought maybe I’d do that.

Hey! I’m Dan. I’m 25, and I live in Chicago. I have an underpaid administrative job at a non-profit vaguely related to my actual interests. I also have an English degree. I moonlight doing tech theater. Ideally I will find a way to do adult sex/relationship education professionally!

I identify as bisexual, queer, poly, nonmonogamous, and kinky. Sometimes I’m kind of ambivalent about all of those labels. I’m also white, and a man.

I have a girlfriend. We have been dating for almost two years. She has a husband. Sometimes I sleep with him too. All of us sometimes date or have sex other people. Sometimes I go to kink clubs or participate in group sex.

I’ve been actively nonmonogamous for about 3 years. For a couple years before that I was in an open relationship where neither of us was really involved with anyone else.

My parents know about my relationships and are totally cool about it. Some other family knows. Most of my friends know. I don’t really talk about it at work.

I am generally super excited to get messages and happy to answer questions, whether you want to hear about my experience or want advice for your issues. You can also email me at If you ask for me to keep your message anonymous, I will. I also take submissions for the blog. (Read more about Asks. Read more about Submissions.)

Thanks for reading!

Nonmonogamy And Mental Health

A while ago I saw someone in the polyamory tag write that they wanted to see more people talk about navigating poly relationships while dealing with mental health. I’d like to try to say a bit, but I’m not exactly sure what to say. I can only talk about my own experiences, of course.

I sometimes struggle with depression and often struggle with anxiety, and I think it’s important to be open about mental health experiences in a similar way to how I think it’s important to be out about sexuality.

Some quick things I think are worth sharing: I was on meds for 2 years, but I got off them about half a year ago. A lot of my family members have dealt with similar stuff. I didn’t really get how bad my anxiety was until a close friend at work said something. He could see visible signs of my anxiety throughout the workday, and it hadn’t quite registered for me that this wasn’t a normal way to spend the day.

Depression and anxiety make dating and relationship more difficult for me. It’s harder to write messages to people on OkCupid, and harder to get out the door to go on dates, and harder to flirt with people at parties, and harder to express my sexual desires, and harder to trust that my partners actually like me and want to be around me. That’s all mostly true whether I’m in monogamous relationships or nonmonogamous relationships. It seems like I’m just anxious about slightly different things.

The meds helped, and they helped me learn some stuff that lasts even now that I’m off them. They also came with some sexual side affects. I didn’t want to live with those forever, though they did end up teaching me some good things about my sexuality.

I think nonmonogamy is partially appealing to me because it helps me not build up quite as much anxiety around one particular person. Maybe that is also to say I use it to avoid some level of intimacy, which probably is not a great coping mechanism.

I was in therapy for a few months. I thought I was in therapy to deal with being depressed, but I ended up talking a lot more about my relationships. Therapy essentially ended up being a way for me to figure out I needed to end a relationship that wasn’t working for me any more.

I found a therapist who was listed in a directory of poly-friendly professionals, but I still felt really awkward talking about nonmonogamy. She wasn’t judgmental about my relationships, but she also didn’t say anything to particularly put me at ease. I wish I’d felt her out more on the subject before booking a session, so I either could have felt comfortable talking about it with her or found someone else to work with.

(I’ve shared some recommendations for finding a poly-friendly therapist previously here.)

I’m still figuring out how my mental health intersects with how I navigate relationships. I’m not really sure. I’d like to see more people write about this stuff.

You’re Talking About Safer Sex All Wrong

I’m going to use an excerpt from Sex From Scratch as an example here, but this is really about wider issues in how we talk about safer sex. Sex From Scratch is actually a really good book, and that’s sort of the point. Even really smart, well-meaning folks are screwing this up.

Here’s what the book says:

Only have safe sex

Condoms are annoying, birth control is a hassle, STD tests are expensive. But you know what’s worse than all three combined? Giving an STD to someone you love.

Relentlessly practicing safer sex is a must for open relationships because having sex with numerous people puts you at higher risk for getting an STD. In addition to always using condoms and birth control if you’re fooling around with multiple people, it’s smart to get an STD test every six months or anytime you’re about to start having sex with a new person. As a decent human being, you’re contractually obligated to talk about STDs and pregnancy before you have sex with someone. Before there’s any genital-to-genital action, offer up your own status, talk about what method of birth control you guys are using, and ask if they have any diseases you should know about. It can suck being the person who brings up these issues, especially if you have an STD and know that discussing it could stop your romance in its tracks. But don’t you dare skip that conversation and burn yourself with a lifetime of guilt (or a lifetime of herpes).

Are here are some issues I have:

- Being in an open relationship doesn’t mean you’re having sex with numerous people. It doesn’t mean you’re having sex with anyone. We need to focus on particular behaviors that actually represent higher risks.

- You can have an infection without symptoms and pass that infection on to others without it manifesting as a disease. That’s why STI is a preferable term to STD.

- If you are going to mention that STI tests are expensive, you should mention resources that make them more affordable, like free testing sites.

- If you’re going to use herpes as an example of an STI to avoid, you should probably mention that most people already have it, and that most people who have it don’t know they do.

- And if you’re going to talk about herpes and STI testing at the same time, you should probably mention that standard tests don’t look for herpes.

- You might also want to mention that HIV doesn’t show up on STI tests immediately, and that you can talk about recent sexual behavior along with recent test results.

- Let’s just cut the heteronormative assumption that having sex always involves a risk of pregnancy.

- Let’s generally be clearer on what we’re talking about when we say sex, particularly whether that includes oral, manual, and anal sex.

- If we’re going to stress getting tested and talking about our statuses, we should be specific about how that should affect our actions. (What should we do differently if one of us has an STI?)

- All sex carries some risk. These measures make it safer, not safe. That’s why safer sex is a preferable term to safe sex.

- Given that some risk is acceptable, we should be clearer about when and why we’re setting a level at which risk is unacceptably high.

- We should ensure our advice reflects the actual risk level of behavior. (Unilaterally demanding condom use without mention of dental dams or gloves probably doesn’t.)

- But really we should focus on encouraging people to make their own informed decisions about risk, rather than demanding everyone use the same safer sex methods.

- And we just need to talk a lot more what the actual risks of infection are, and how much preventative measures actually moderate those risks, and how testing actually works, and what all the options for birth control are, and what it’s like to actually have these infections.

- We also should be careful about stigmatizing STIs. Lots of people have them, and people aren’t gross or worthless because they do.

Book Review: Sex From Scratch

Sarah Mirk is the Online Editor for Bitch Media. On August 1st, her new book came out. Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules is all about taking “A DIY approach to dating.” I got a review copy.

Sex From Scratch includes an awesome collection of interviews. I was particularly excited for to see contributions from three sex educators with their own books on non-monogamy, Tristan Taormino (Opening Up), Wendy-O Matik (Redefining Our Relationships), and Betty Dodson (The Ethical Slut). I was also delighted to see awesome comic artist Erika Moen included.

The book is broken into seven chapters. Each of these chapters contains practical advice for navigating relationships. Most of these chapters also challenge the view that relationships should all progress in the same direction, towards an exclusive permanent marriage with children.

Loving Being Single suggests that you don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. Navigating Non-Monogamy tackles the idea that exclusivity is always preferable. Staying Childless by Choice takes on the pressure for everyone to have kids. On Never Getting Married discusses the reasons for not forming a legal union. And Knowing When To Split faces how sometimes ending a relationships is the best option.

Two chapters are a bit different. Building Feminist Relationships and Gender is Messy contend with gender roles and gender identity, and look for positive ways to take on gender issues to build positive relationships.

We need more books like this. We need more books that acknowledge that one kind of relationship doesn’t work for everyone, and that people can define relationships on their own terms. And we just need more books that talk about non-monogamy, not getting married, and not having kids.

We need more books that incorporate feminism into advice for daily life too. We need more books that examine how to have positive, progressive relationships. We need more books that challenge how we conduct intimate relationships in critical ways. And we need more books that do all that with honesty, sincerity, and humor.

My biggest complaint about the book is the territory it doesn’t explore. The introduction makes passing references to asexuality and kink, but I’d like to hear more. I’d like to hear more about other ways people buck relationships conventions too, like couples that decide to keep separate residences or spend more time apart.

I also wish it examined more of the ways these topics overlap, like the options for raising children within a nonmonogamous relationship, or specific challenges of not being married if you do have kids. And I wish the book looked closer at where taking these less common routes made it harder or easier to build feminist relationships.

There’s so much this book didn’t cover, but that’s not really a flaw. There’s a lot it does include, and it builds groundwork that could lead to more. As I said, we need more books like this.

Sex From Scrach is put out by Microcosm Publishing. The suggested retail price is $14.95, but right now it’s only $11.03 on Amazon.

I got an email from someone working on a dating show about polyamorous folks. I said I’d share this. There’s no pay at this stage.

"The Poly Dating Show follows a couple’s search for a third and a single’s journey to join a couple. We’re looking for modern, young-ish, attractive couples that are interested in opening up their relationship – either enthusiastically or with trepidation or simple curiosity. If there is interest in the format from the Skype interviews, we would then shoot real footage and discuss casting options. We are in the research and casting phase right now, and would love to interview people on Skype for Proof of Concept.

We’d love to briefly set up a video Skype with interested couples and singles to ask why you are open to the idea and what you hope to find – and anything else you’re comfortable discussing on camera.

About us: Zodiak Media is one of the world’s largest independent production companies with 45 offices in 17 territories. In the U.S. we are know for Wife Swap, Secret Millionaire and the upcoming Beyond Dance on MTV. We also have several reality shows and games shows on TruTV. We try to focus on socially relevant content (and crazy fun in the case of Killer Karaoke).

Any interested parties should contact Ian Roth at or 310-309-3956.”

There are heteronormative ideas of monogamous and procreation-focused sexuality that poly and kink don’t fit.

I think there are even ways poly and kink can be actively used to subvert heteronormativity. Kink that plays with gender roles, perhaps. Or maybe poly relationships that emphasize personal autonomy replacing possessiveness.

But there are also ways in which poly and kink relationships can thoroughly embrace and assert heteronomative values.

For example: Dominant male, submissive female relationships that are premised on these gendered roles being a natural fit.

Or: “One Penis Policies” that, even while condoning same-gender relationships, also delegitimize them by framing them as less real and significant.

There are lots of ways male privilege and sexism can play out in kink and poly relationships, particularly when partners take on roles and arrangements without consciousness and critique.

Supporting poly and kink doesn’t mean supporting every instance of these relationships. Alternative sexualities and relationship styles can be problematic in the same ways as the mainstream.

And there are plenty of ways male privilege and sexism can play out in vanilla and monogamous relationships, which should also be engaged in consciously and examined critically.

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