10 Things No One Warns You About Nonmonogamy

Nonmonogamy comes with some well publicized high-risk areas. There are plenty of articles out there about overcoming insecurity and dealing with jealousy. Careful thought has been put into handling STI and pregnancy risks. And communication! I swear if I read one more article about how important honest, open communication is in poly relationships* I’m going to snap and start maniacally disclosing All The Things to random people in the streets.

But there are other things that change. Little things. Polyamory affects aspects of life that don’t seem to have anything to do with relationships at all.

For instance:

1. You will never again just share a story even tangentially related to your partners with monogamous friends.

It’s no longer possible. If they think you’re monogamous, you omit details and use creative phrasing to keep the relationship ambiguous. If you’re out, every conversation involving any of your partners becomes a conversation about their opinions and/or befuddlement about polyamory itself. I’ve been spending the night at Z and the Techie’s place a night or two a week. Sometimes a classmate will ask if I can print or bring something from home. “No, sorry, I’m not there” demands an explanation. Out or not, there’ll be questions about whether Spouse freaks out when I stay the night elsewhere.

2. The amount of time you spend doing dishes increases exponentially with each additional partner.

Spouse and I don’t live with any other partners. But Polly Pocket comes for dinner maybe twice a week, and I cook at the Techie and Z’s place twice a week, and one morning I realized that they think Monster energy drinks are breakfast so suddenly I have a massive waffle making project on my hands…on and on and on. I run the dishwasher every two days and still scrub a sink load of dishes by hand almost daily and I swear I have no idea how we use so many forks so quickly.

3. 97% of movies and TV shows will make you roll your eyes.

The other 3% have no hint of a romantic subplot***. The rest of them? You’ll be mumbling under your breath about the obvious solution to the love triangles and sexual tension. You’ll practically scream at films like Pirate Radio when our protagonist is crushed (crushed!) that the woman he falls in love-at-first-sight with has sex with someone else. She’s ruined. Purity culture! You’ll want to love Lost Girl, but you can’t because the succubus protagonist’s (literally suicidal) choice to be monogamous because that’s what good people do drives way too much of the plot.

4. If you think adapting to one person’s schedule is hard…

…try syncing your calendar with three partners, who may each have a number of other partners whose schedules need to be taken into account as well. And if your partners aren’t on similar sleep schedules? Learn to love caffeine pills. Spouse and I wake up at or before 0700 on weekdays. When I spend the night at Z and the Techie’s place, we may not collapse into bed until dawn or later. If I stay at their place on a weeknight, nevermind even attempting sleep; I’ll just write a few emails or read on the phone until it’s time to get ready for class or work.

5. The relationship webs get seriously tangled.

Incestuous is the wrong word, but it sort of conveys the right idea. Poly networks form and break multiple connections among the same handful of people. It makes sense. Unless you live somewhere with a large, dynamic, easy-to-find poly community, partners of partners are going to be the simplest way to meet other nonmonogamous folks. Once you start trying to describe those networks, it feels a little like a stand-up routine about a family reunion in Alabama**. For example: I’m seeing my Spouse’s girlfriend’s ex. I’m also seeing his girlfriend. No, not Spouse’s girlfriend, her ex-whom-I’m-seeing’s girlfriend. Oh, and she’s casual play partners with one of my play partners. No, not that “she,” the other one. Actually, nevermind; it might be easier if I drew a chart. (I did draw a chart. it’s in my about page.)

6. People expect you to be jealous

Even when you’re not.

Polly Pocket is young. She is tiny and bubbly and pretty and sweet. My female friends think this is the worst thing ever. “She’s so pretty! Aren’t you worried?”

“No.”

“What if Spouse thinks she’s prettier than you?”

“What if?”

The way they talk, it sounds like they’re only nonmonogamous so they can reaffirm that their primary partners like them best. I hope I’m wrong about that, because the idea is disgusting and they are my friends. But the conversation inevitably acts like one has to be jealous or disdainful of metamours. Nonsense.

7. “So…do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/six or more cats?” or “Are you taken?”

People try to assess availability to a relationship by asking whether you’re already in one. This should annoy monogamous people; even if being in one relationship precludes forming another, the question implies a sort of ownership****. I have a spouse, a girlfriend, and a lover. I don’t have time for another relationship, not really, but it’s nothing to do with having been claimed.

8. That sense of control? Gone.

The idea that you control your partner or they control you has to go. You don’t give permission to do things and you don’t need permission to make your own plans. You’re not “letting” each other do things, you’re acting autonomously. And dear god is it wonderful.

Now, I realize many poly relationships do have rules and a higher degree of control than mine. And there are constraints to some degree; if I have plans with someone I have a responsibility to keep them. If I’m not going to be home it’s only fair to give Spouse advance notice so he knows to make his own dinner plan or that he should expect to be spending the night alone. There’s a lot of communication that has to happen for that giving up of control to run smoothly and not make anyone miserable. But I said we weren’t going to talk about communication in this post, so we’ll leave it at that.

9. Being friends with exes becomes normal.
Because poly is rarely on the standard assumed relationship escalator, expectations and norms surrounding the life course of a relationship can be very different for poly folk. Permanence is not necessarily expected nor necessarily a sign of relationship success. If you’re already thinking about relationships differently, it’s a lot easier to realize that the end of a relationship doesn’t have to mean that one of you is a terrible person. Maybe scheduling was too complicated, or an incompatibility arose, or one of you just didn’t feel a sexual or romantic connection anymore. Granted, not all poly people can be friends with exes. Sometimes breakups still are because one or both parties did something monstrous and ending contact is for the best. And of course some monogamous folks can stay friends with exes, which is great. The point is that it’s far less likely to cause major strife in continuing or future relationships to remain friends with an ex than it is for monogamous folks to do the same. It’s rather a relief.

10. Meal planning and grocery shopping can become almost comically complex.

I keep kosher(ish) and have allergies to a couple of quite common foods. Spouse doesn’t eat onions and tries to limit dairy. Polly Pocket is easily overwhelmed by new flavors, and I’m beginning to form the impression that she’s been exposed to approximately nothing before. The Techie doesn’t care for dinners without meat, and is used to cooking robust American meals with ingredients I can’t have. Z doesn’t care for bread. When I make a grocery list for my weekly trip I take all these things into account as well as who’s eating with whom on what night, what I already have in the pantry, and what the Techie and Z are likely to have on hand. My grocery list starts with a giant chart of meals.

 


*Monogamous people, by contrast, need communicate only in the three days around the new moon, and then only by means of interpretive dance.

**In fairness to Alabama, the only time I’ve been hit on at a family reunion was in Texas.

*** Reason #843 that the Gregory Peck/Richard Basehart Moby Dick is one of the finest films I know.

****Reason #579 that normative cis het monogamous relationships are a form of power exchange that’s maybe less than completely consensual. I’m not knocking negotiated D/s, I’m talking about assumptions of power and control brought to relationships because they’re normative and never challenged or discussed by their participants.

Not the Time

[CN: violence against women, general misogyny]

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On Friday night a man named Elliot Rodgers went on a shooting spree. He killed half a dozen people, and wounded others. He wrote an extensive screed (which I have not read) and created a video (which I have not watched) in which he explicitly states that he seeks retribution against women for not having sex with him. Which is unfair. Because he’s a gentleman.*

This is frightening. This isn’t frightening because it’s anomalous, it’s frightening because it’s such a common sentiment and we can’t know–ever–whether a man feels sufficiently entitled to our bodies to use force to get them.

Yet when I say this is frightening, I’m told it isn’t. That this is just a mentally ill person (“mentally healthy people don’t kill”). That sure, the killer explicitly stated that his motive was hatred of women, and that this hate stemmed from the fact that women chose not to have sex with him, but somehow it’s still not about misogyny.

That this is the wrong time to talk about misogyny or patriarchal norms.

That we need to talk about guns and mental healthcare instead.

That of course misogyny is a problem, but *this* is not a good example because *normal* misogyny looks different.

That this is deviance, not normal at all.

Now is not the time to focus on the systemic oppression of women.

So when is the time?

I’m carrying a filing cabinet. It’s unwieldy but I’ve got it, and god damn it I’ve got it in heels. A man stops me in the hall, asks if he can help. “I just need to get into that office. Thanks, I’ve got it.” He insists, bars my way. I have to stand arguing with him about whether I can carry a thing I’m already carrying for longer than it would take to get inside and set it down. He won’t move until I threaten to drop it on his head.

Everyone said I should have just let him take the cabinet. Why not take advantage of the fact men think I’m weak, if it means I don’t have to do physical labor? It’s not misogyny, it’s chivalry; more men should be like him. Now’s not the time.

A man pulls his truck up to ask my girlfriend and I if we’re going his way. We ignore him. He asks again. “Definitely not.” He asks if we’re sure. We ignore him. I have my keys between my fingers, see her hand move towards her knife. He calls us cunts before driving off.

We’re told that’s harmless: he didn’t *do* anything, all he did was ask. It’s not about misogyny. Now’s not the time.

A man in the club asks if I’m interested in a scene. We’ve been talking for an hour, about board games and Game of Thrones. I’m startled by the request, caught off guard. I say “not really” and go back to nerd talk. He brings it up two more times before I make an excuse to walk away.

I’m told I should take it as a compliment. I’m told it’s not creepy because he’s submissive. I’m told “not really” isn’t a firm no, that I should have said “no” a certain way if I really wanted him to stop pushing. It’s not about misogyny. Now’s not the time.

I’m reading a statistical report about sexual violence. I’m shaken by the numbers. More than 3/4 of bisexual women have been sexually assaulted. Many of us more than once. I want to cry but I can’t, I feel almost relieved that it’s not just me, that it can’t be something I did wrong if it happens to almost all of us. I’m disgusted with myself for feeling relief, because no positive feeling should come out of knowing how prevalent sexual violence is.

I’m told that it’s sexist of me to focus on women, that sexual violence affects all victims. That not all victims are women, that not all perpetrators are male. I’m told I’m erasing victims. I’m hurting all male victims and enabling all female perpetrators and also I’m a cissexist because it is worse for trans persons. This is not about misogyny. Now’s not the time.

These aren’t rare or isolated incidents. These are just the first few examples that aren’t assault that came to mind. These are among the minority of times that I’ve complained about behaviors. Speaking up got me told to shut my mouth unless I’m going to frame it so it’s not about women experiencing violence or oppression.

I’m tired of being told that every incident of misogynistic behavior is an isolated and individual act. That it’s only fair to talk about it as an isolated and individual act.

I’m tired of being told that systemic misogyny is not responsible for behavior that can only be explained by systemic misogyny.

I’m tired of being asked to reframe every discussion about women’s issues and rights to center around men. Of being required to acknowledge “not all men” before I’m allowed to speak about issues. Of being reminded that men experience sexual violence too (but brushed off if I note that this, too, is misogyny: that sexual violence against men is considered feminizing. Makes them “pussies”).

I’m tired of people who claim to support women telling us to shut up about violence against women.

I’m tired of it all. It’s exhausting, and I don’t want to deal with it anymore, and that leads to a whole new layer of fear: that nothing will change. Because we’re all tired of fighting. Will there be enough of us with the energy left to advocate for ourselves to make society take note tomorrow? Next week?

So here’s my question. If misogyny is a real problem and we need to talk about it, just not in the context of any situations like these, when is the time?

What is the context?

And god damn it, why do we need men’s permission to talk about violence we are reminded of, often explicitly, every single day?

 

 

*dear everyone: have you ever had even one class on creative writing? Have you heard that one needs to show, not tell? If you have to keep reminding people that you’re a gentleman or a nice guy, chances are that you’re not. Good people don’t have to tell others how good they are; they just do good things and folks who are around them can figure it out.

Ripcord

It’s late. I’m alone in a hotel room in a city I’ve never been to before.

It’s late, but I can’t sleep. I’m alone, states away from anyone I could call at this hour. I’m texting  a partner back home, flirting and sending pictures back and forth, both getting more frustrated but not getting off. He’s teasing me for being insatiable. It’s a fair taunt, but not one I plan to let slide.


I’m sure I can find a way to entertain myself for a few nights alone.

Oh?

Yes, I came prepared. [I send a snapshot of a sheet of clothespins leaning against my thigh.]

And you plan to entertain yourself how, exactly?

That’s up to you.

[He tells me where to attach them. I send a photo when it’s done.]

Like this?

Looks about right…needs more clips though.

Yeah, well. TSA might have looked askance at that. Fuck, pulling these off is going to hurt.

Isn’t that the idea? Is it worse to wait or pull as soon as possible?

Waiting. Gives things a chance to get used to the pinching, then it’s worse when it stops.

That’s what I thought. So let things acclimate then change the climate.

Of course you’d say that. Just what am I meant to do while I’m waiting?

Be patient. [He starts talking about other things, making plans for after I get home.]

Just so you know, breathing makes the clothespins on my ribs shift. Ow.

Aww. Guess it’s just as well I didn’t have you line the whole ribcage, then. I considered a couple of other patterns.

Well, maybe I can try something else after you let me pull these ones off.

Oh, you expect me to let you pull them off.

Fuck.

You bastard.

Yes, that I am. Shouldn’t you be a little nicer if you want me to tell you to pull?

I wish you could be here for this.

Not just because I wish someone else would pull this damn ripcord for me.

Oh? To pull the line or to fuck you mercilessly afterwards?

Or to help keep me quiet when they do come off.

So maybe you should try to convince me.

[Hell. I never beg. I hate begging. If one or two renditions of “please” doesn’t get a result, I settle into a prideful state of “fine, I didn’t need that anyway”]

How would it go if I were there?

How would you want it to?

I don’t know how you’d pull. Jerk the whole string at at once, maybe,  or steadily increase pressure to release one clothespin at a time.

Which is worse?

Whichever is worse? I don’t know which one is worse, they’re both damn near unbearable.

I suspect you’d draw it out. Waiting for that rush of pain to hit is its own special torture, and you do love to torture me.

As if you don’t… I can’t tell if this is about pain or sex right now.

Is there a difference? It hurts. And yes, I’m desperate to come.  My clit is throbbing against that horrible clothespin. What the hell was I thinking, putting one there?

That it would please me. So what is it you want?

I wish you were here. I need to come but not half as badly as I need to taste your cock. I want to make you moan and grab me by the hair. I want to do whatever it is you want me to do.

I want you to keep talking. What do you want?

I want to see your face, what this does to you. I want to fly home right fucking now; to hell with this conference I want you to hurt me.

I need to come. Please. God, I need to come ten minutes ago. My legs are shaking. It hurts. It fucking hurts and I can’t touch myself with all these clothespins in the way.

I’m afraid to pull the cord, afraid I’ll make too much noise. Fuck, it’s going to hurt.

Fast or slow, which is worse? It’s a trick question. Waiting is worse.

Please. I need to come. I need these clothespins off of me so I can shove my fingers in my cunt and imagine they’re yours. Just…please.

Pull.


I’d never begged before. Talking, flirting, demanding others say these things for me, sure, but this was new and a little frightening.

New can be a good thing, right?

 

e[lust] #58

Pandora
Photo courtesy of Pandora Blake

Welcome to Elust #58

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #59? Start with the rules, come back June 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Do NOT take my rapeplay fantasy away from me!

Pulp Fiction

“O” is for Outlaw No More

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

The Second Letter

The Wake

~ Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Orgasm Denial Games and Ideas
What is “Normal,” Anyway?
Abject Submission 3: Only the Gift
Is All BDSM Sexual? #KinkySex
A new Dom asked me for advice
Let’s Talk Sex Stigma
What I want
On Being Submissive
Dildos in Wonderland – Fantasy Sex Toys

Sex News,Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

My sexual Assaults
Risky Business
What is feminist porn?
Butt Plug Weekend (Humor)
The Shaming of Slut Shaming
Do Bisexuals Need To Be More Upfront?
Why I Don’t Support CatalystCon

Erotic Non-Fiction

The ‘Good’ Girl vs The Whore – Marriage
Well Laid
The sheer poetry of pegging a homophobe
The Missouri Misery’s Maiden Voyage
On the Edge (Touch Your Cock for Me)
Parking On A Dirt Road
Masturbation: The Big Finish
The four-day orgasm
Dear lover

Writing About Writing

Imagining Disabled Characters in Erotica

Poetry

Simple Needs – a Lusty Limerick

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

On Happiness and Risk
Sex addiction – a primer
More Than Bend Over Boyfriend Toys

Erotic Fiction

Neverland
X marks the spot
Chain Links and the Rail Marshall
The Devil and the Golden Ring
A lonely day in Paradise
Mine Is Bigger Than Yours
Rub It Harder
Face Splash – Part 1
Stray Kat
Sneaky Sexy Snippet of A Work in Progress

Blogging

56 posts later …

ELust Site Badge

The Cannibal List

This has nothing to do with kink or sex or any of that. This is just a list of things I may or may not have said that give people the impression that I might in fact be a cannibal.

I am not a cannibal. Just so we’re clear.

 

“What do you want for breakfast?”
“Soylent green”

“All I’m saying is if we skinned him, we couldn’t make brother cracklins. There’s no fat there.”

“No, those are not human shins in the freezer. Where would I get human shins?”

“Mmm…human flesh. Wait, no, human isn’t kosher.”

“Yeah? Well your face is full of protein.”

“Honey, how do you prevent kreutzfeld-jakob or kuru?”
“Don’t eat people.”
“I meant other than that.”

“Do you have any idea how impractical it would be to butcher a whole human? We barely have enough room in the freezer for three steaks and two pounds of chicken!”

“Things were going well, we were talking, we were flirting…”
“She thinks you’re a cannibal, doesn’t she.”
“Yes! Why does this keep happening?”

“No! That meat tenderizer is for use on human only!”

“Of course I would eat at a deli called Ugolino’s. What’s the problem?”

“It is a new ice age! We will have to resort to cannibalism.”

“You know, one advantage of grinding your own meat is that no one can tell for sure what it was before it went through the grinder.”

“It’s just such a fine line between innuendo about oral sex and threat of cannibalism. I was a little too close there, may have crossed it. These things happen!”

“I’m pretty sure she’d fit in the oven. You know, if you ever want to go Hansel and Gretel on her.”

“Look, I’m not saying it’s person, I’m just saying that butchered flesh sans hands, feet, or face…would you be able to tell?”

“No food is blue.”
“What about those blue people in Alabama? The inbred hill folk. I mean, if you were a cannibal.”
“I feel like if I were a cannibal I would have more discerning taste.”

“Firstborn children go best with a béarnaise.”

“I’m not kissing her, there’s probably like human flesh caught in her teeth”
“Oy! I just brushed my teeth.”
“That’s your only objection?”

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. Everyone knows my people only eat Christian babies; your atheist spawn is safe!”

“So I told him a foot rub really just wasn’t going to do anything for me. I mean, welcome to try and all, but unless he’s tenderizing them for the grill he’s not going to accomplish much.”

“Nah, he’s too little to snorkel. Hasn’t learned about not aspirating water yet. Anyway, he’s barely an hors d’oeuvre.”
“…”
“For a shark. If there were sharks in the keys, which there are. He’s more like a four-person main course for humans.”

“Are you biting me?”
[muffled]”No.”
“It *feels* like you’re biting me.”
“Absolutely not. Eating is similar to, but distinct from biting.”

“Why would I mind you spending the night?”
“I dunno, you might be worried that if I’m loose in the house while you’re asleep I will kill you and roast your parts?”
“I’m not.”
“Well that’s awfully trusting of you.”

And finally (though this one is a bit unfair):

“I’m not a cannibal! Honest!”

I’m not allowed to wonder why people think I’m a cannibal anymore.