Happiness, Polyamory, and “The Good Life”

Editorial Note: This post was written by Wes Fenza, long before the falling out of our previous quint household and the subsequent illumination of his abusive behavior, sexual assault of several women, and removal from the Polyamory Leadership Network and banning from at least one conference. I have left Wes’ posts  here because I don’t believe it’s meaningful to simply remove them. You cannot remove the truth by hiding it; Wes and I used to collaborate, and his thoughts will remain here, with this notice attached.



A study has been kicking around the blogosphere recently called The Ordinary Concept of Happiness (and Others Like It).  The study purports (convincingly, to my mind) to show that when people try to evaluate whether another person is happy or in love, they are not merely trying to identify a mental state, but are making moral/evaluative judgments about the person herself.  You can test it out yourself with the following video:

The researchers found that when they were presented with a woman in a situation that most would consider a good life or dating a good man, they were likely to accept her mental state as indicative of her actual happiness (or unhappiness) or state of being in love.  When they were presented with a bad life, or a bad man, people only tended to trust her mental state when it indicated that she was unhappy.  Her mental state showing happiness or being in love was distrusted by most respondents.  The researchers theorize that this is because people make evaluative judgments about the woman in question, and this impacts their evaluations of of happiness or love (but no unhappiness or lust).

Will Wilkinson theorizes that this is due to normative descriptions of happiness, which I find convincing.  However, the effect is the same – if you’re not living the kind of life that people think of as a good one, people won’t believe you when you say that you are happy.

It’s fairly obvious how this relates to polyamory.  To most, polyamory is not what they think of when they think of a rich, fulfilling, happy life.  Most think of having multiple relationships as disrespectful, irresponsible, reckless, and unfulfilling (much like many of the activities described as part of the “bad life” in the video above).  Therefore, people will be unwilling to trust that our lifestyle makes us happy, despite our subjective mental states.

This presents an interesting problem for the polyamorous – how do we make polyamory more accepted by society at large?  So far, most strategies I’ve heard involve showing people that we are polyamorous, and that we are happy and fulfilled.  However, the above study seems to suggest that we are working backward, that even if people believe that we think we’re happy, they’ll be reluctant to agree.  The research suggests that in order for people to believe that polyamory can make us happy, they will need to accept that polyamory is the type of activity that leads to a happy, fulfilling life.

The question is – how the hell are we supposed to convince people of that, if the evidence that we are happy isn’t enough?  What other evidence is there?

Birthdays are awesome

So, yesterday (the 30th) was my birthday.  35.  I got to enjoy some scotch (MacCallan 18!), so home made peanut butter pie, and some spades with some of the people closest to me (you know, the people who write for this blog).

I just wanted to express to the world that I feel quite fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.  Thanks for being awesome, and I look forward to another good year.

Next, off to Austin for the honeymoon!

Is there room for sex (or at least sex-positivity) at atheist/skeptical conferences?

So, the consensus that is forming on the atheist blogosphere seems to be that there should be significant distance between the world of skeptic/atheist conferences and the world of sex.  If you find yourself at a conference, you should probably put the possibility of hooking up aside.

You know, unless you really want to keep pissing a lot of people off.

Some quick context, in case you have not been aware of the various goings-on around the atheist/skeptical blogosphere recently.  I won’t bother trying to summarize, so I’ll just point you here, here, here, and most recently here (there are many others, but that is where I spent much of the last few days or so…).  Arguments have been had, flame wars ended in ban hammers being unleashed, and good times were had by all.  In the end it seems that a few people were educated, some minds possibly changed, and many others are still holding onto the opinion they came in with.

Oh, and a fair amount of frustration (perhaps related to lack of sex? Or is that joke not funny? Fuck it.)

Just another weekend on the internet.

(I also spent way too much time here, but that is not directly related to this post, but since I spent like 2 or 3 days reading and contributing to comments, I figure I would pass it along)

So, I’m a bit nervous to bring up some questions considering where things stand and what people have said, but I’m going to do it anyway.  I’ll claim that I was tired.  Perhaps drunk will work.  I’ll start drinking now….

So, this is a question that is of some interest to me, because I think, write, and sometimes comment about the intersection of issues related to sex-positivity and skepticism.   I’m an unapologetic slut who is not only quite comfortable with my sexuality, but who believes that sexuality is and should be a part of our lives in more integrated ways.  That is, I don’t think that we should pretend that it’s not a real thing that we think about day to day, assuming we are actually thinking about it.

And I know that many people don’t think about sex at all, much, or in most circumstances.  I also know that other people, such as myself, think about such things rather frequently, and I personally have to remind myself that this is not the case with many people.  So, what do we do with these facts when we travel near or far to go to a conference and find ourselves possibly interacting with interesting people whom we will likely not see again any time soon?

I don’t often go to conferences, being generally broke and not being invited to speak at them and all.  But when I do go to such events, I would be lying if the presence of hundreds, if not thousands, of smart, funny, sexy people is not something I will notice.  I’m attracted to smart people, and I feel no shame in feeling that way.  I’m not merely objectifying a person by finding them attractive if part of what attracts me to them is a combination of their thoughts, sense of humor, and of course their body.

We are always objectifying others.  We are doing so in the technical sense of other people literally being objects (but not mere objects), but also in the sense of making judgments based upon mere appearance, even if more information will eventually provide a more substantial judgment after we have a chance to get to know them better.  The question is whether we are merely objectifying, or are using multiple criteria of judgment to view a person.  I think it’s only honest to admit that this is part of our humanity, and not pretend that this behavior did not exist or that it was wrong per se.

It seems to me that part of this desire to cut out flirting, hitting on, etc at such events verges on doing just that.  In an attempt to create a safe space (and I cannot emphasize enough how important safe spaces are), I worry that we may be cutting out part of our humanity, a part of our humanity that means a lot to me and many other people.  I wonder if we are forgetting that part of creating a network of people, if we care about sex positivity in our culture, must involve our sexuality in all of its diversity.

Religion has done too much to squash and make sexuality dirty and immoral.  I am left with a bad taste in my mouth that the hetero-normative concept of sexual ethics has made too much of an impact on our culture, even among skeptics and atheists. I want to live in a world full of sex-positive skeptics who embrace their lustiness openly and unapologetically.  Perhaps my definition of sex-positivity goes beyond most people’s.  I think that is quite likely.

Now, I don’t suggest we schedule orgies at conferences, or that we consider this desire for sex positivity over the concerns of people’s safety, but I think that in this conversation we need to keep in mind that some people at such conferences, while not there for the sole purpose of sex, are quite interested in finding potential partners for such activities.  And whether we extreme sluts are an extreme minority or not, the fact is that recent discussions are going to make us avoid such interests.

And while I think those safe spaces are ultimately more important than this concern, I don’t want this concern to be ignored.  I don’t know what role sex-positivity can play in the networking and growth of this community pf reason, but I hope it is not left behind completely.

That said, I am quite shy IRL.  I rarely openly flirt with people I don’t know, I have never directly propositioned anyone at a conference whom I had not already known and interacted with prior to then, and I do attend such things primarily for the lectures and opportunity to meet people in non-sexual ways.  I don’t go to conferences to hook up and I have always tried to be completely respectful to speakers, guests, etc as people with minds, and not as mere bodies.

But bodies we have, and we cannot forget that nor the fact that they can be quite distracting at times.  I find a wide variety of bodies, especially when they contain brains which house intelligent minds, quite attractive.  I am left wondering if there is room in the conference world for this sexuality, or if it will have to be something left behind when we attend such things, perhaps finding it by accident in rare cases, but never intentionally pursuing it.

The fact is that if you want to find hook ups, there are places for that.  There are singles bars,  clubs, and swingers cruises for all those interested in such things.  But is there room for setting aside a time and place for people who might be interested in sexual activity at such conferences? Could we designate an arm band system, a specific location and time, where such flirtation is not only acceptable, but set aside for?

And if this were to be arranged, would it end up merely attracting the creepy people none of us wants to hook up with?

Ugh, there just does not seem to be an easy solution here.  Perhaps it would be better to leave it out of the conference atmosphere, but I hope not completely so.  Guidelines at very least are important, and we need to continue to educate ourselves and one-another about what a safe space looks like, as there are still many who don’t understand this idea (hell, I’m still learning and I think about this stuff all the time).

It seems that we, as a community, will have to adjust to the fact that many people (perhaps most?) simply don’t want to mix their business/activism with that kind of pleasure.

And while I understand this, the side of me that wants a more sex-positive world can only look on with some small measure of frustration and disappointment.  Despite what I would ideally prefer, I am forced to admit that there are too many issues of social justice between where we are as a society and where we will need to be before we can have gatherings where enough people are respectful, safe, and mature to allow our freaky flags fly en masse.

I hope I get to see it before I die, but I’m skeptical.

Normalizing Weird

This past weekend, Wes, Shaun, Ginny and I attended a BBQ at the home of one of the lovely poly families we know.  In fact, this particular family serves as inspiration and a model for Wes, Jessie and I because they were doing what we’re doing long before us.

Because I haven’t actually gotten permission to use their names on here, I’ll use initials instead.  So, V and IR are married and V is in a serious relationship with S.  S moved into V and IR’s home last year and things seem to be going great.  We don’t get to hang out with them very often because everyone is busy and they live a bit far away, but it’s always a good time when we do.

It’s especially fun because they have put together quite a poly community on their own.  With the exception of one guest’s young siblings and another person who was not explicitly so, everyone in attendance was living an actively polyamorous lifestyle.

So, when people  hear about poly parties such as this, I think (and Shaun says he gets comments like this often) that they get an image in their head of what this looks like.  Namely, they assume that a BBQ attended by a bunch of polyamorous people is automatically a big orgy or it’s all a big excuse for individuals to hook up on various couches and in various rooms of the house.  Not to say this isn’t a possibility.  I haven’t been to any parties like this personally, but I’m sure they happen.  And I would suspect that a party made up of a bunch of people with lower boundaries and fewer rules about the way they carry on their relationships would have higher incidents of hook ups, at least down the road after the party’s end.  But when we were invited to the BBQ, we were invited to a BBQ.  This meant that there were hamburgers and grilled corn and copious amounts of potato salad, good beer, and delicious sangria (made by Ginny with leftover boxed wine from their wedding!).

Looking around the yard at the various groups intermingling what could be seen was quite typical for any BBQ: a bunch of people chatting about various subjects (mostly not about polyamory, though it came up here and there since we were amongst like-minded people), kids playing in the dirt and climbing trees (that’s right, those depraved poly people brought their KIDS to a party…and the kids had a great time both entertaining each other and playing with a bunch of the adults), good food being eaten and enjoyed, everyone helping with set up and serving…you know, nothing but a normal old Memorial Day party.

Shaun and I were looking around and he said, “Yeah, I don’t think anyone would be able to tell the difference between this and any other standard 30-somethings party” and he’s completely right.  In fact, it wasn’t particularly clear at all who was dating who.  People were affectionate, but in a very we’re all friends here kind of way.  You would have had to have kept close tabs on each person and who they happened to share a kiss with at different points to get any ideas about pairings.

This was, of course, not surprising to me because, well, I don’t particularly view any of us as weird in a day-to-day sense.  Wes, Jessie, and I have a pretty normal life in terms of things like having dinner together, sharing household chores, picking movies or television shows to watch, coming up with fun things to do on the weekend, whatever.  Making plans with Shaun and Ginny is the same.  It’s just that there’s sex involved and declarations of love involved too and that distinction makes everything else seem weird to outsiders looking in.

I hope that this blog continues to serve a purpose of showing the world how “normal” we ultimately are in many ways and that you can be weird in the ways that we are without being dangerous or morally abhorrent or whatever it is people assume about people living perfectly harmless lives outside of the mainstream.

A little while back there was a troll who attacked the blog on multiple entries who, amongst other things (like insisting on saying we are polygamists and that the women involved in our relationships are obviously victims of the wills of the sexist assholes we married) said that us talking about polyamory publicly was just a way for us to look cool since we’re all so obviously boring; that us having a alternate way of living and saying that we wish people were more accepting of it was just our way of standing out in a crowd (and being bored with our own privilege otherwise or something).  I know, it was a troll and trolls can stay at the bridges under which they live, but I would like to point out that we aren’t living this way for attention.  We are living this way because it is satisfying for us, because our relationships are healthier and improved because of our experience with this life, because how could we ever go back to denying ourselves the loves we have found.  And we would enjoy the privilege of being able to live this way in peace, so we talk about it and be out about it so that people can see that it’s really OK (and that it’s OK not to live this way).

But now I’ve gone and talked about the burgers that were consumed at the BBQ and I really want another one.  V made them and they had cheese and bacon INSIDE them and were cooked to perfection.  Damn it.  Have another BBQ, guys!

Taming Demons: Not Just for Exorcists Anymore

I woke up yesterday feeling distressed and hopeless. This happens to me every once in a while (and, thankfully, much less than it used to), and if I take proper precautions I can keep it from spiraling out of control for the rest of the day. Sometimes I can’t get through it by myself though. I often need to talk things out with Wes to figure out what’s sparking the distress and to determine a course of corrective action.
I struggle with insecurity…a lot. When I tell this to people who know me socially, they are often surprised by this fact. When I’m out in public, I tend to carry myself with a relatively high amount of confidence. In addition, a lot of the things I do have a performance component to it, so my ham-it-up nature suggests that I don’t worry about what people think of me or something. But much in the same way as many hilarious comedians are actually quite depressed and disturbed, my social persona is not the entire story. In fact, my outgoing nature now is the result of a lot of work.
It has been a long standing goal for me to become the person I am in public when I am alone or amongst those very close to me. It used to be that the insecure, crying, irrational girl only showed herself when she was sure that no one would see, except for Wes. It bothered me that I could be completely fine most of the time when out and about, amongst people who didn’t know me as well, but would be floored by any little thing when I was at home. Before, it was a matter of exerting lots of energy to be OK for all the people who didn’t matter as much and by the time I came home I wouldn’t be able to cope with stress. And yet, it never felt like I was exerting that much energy. When I was out in the thick of social interaction, I just didn’t think about it. I just “was” and when I would get home, I would let my mind wander to dark and sinister places where all the judgment of the entire world hid. And, if there was not sufficient evidence that people actually felt the way I feared they did, I would invent it.
I have made a lot of progress towards rational handling of this kind of thing. This is why I talk about it in the past tense. I have done well to merge the two personas so that the people in both my public and private life see generally the same version of me. This means that I am calmer and more rational at home and that sometimes I have issues in the public eye. In general this has led to a marked increase in my own sense of sanity. By bringing the two sides together I am happier all around.
But, this is certainly not to say that the issues are gone. I am still insecure often. I worry that all the things and people in my life who make me so happy are actually just fleeting occurrences and that the only thing that keeps them near me is me being perfect at all times. Any mistake I make, any moment of weakness, any bout with irrationality could be the thing that snaps the thread. This fear is so profound that even when I ask people directly if my fears are founded and they tell me that I have nothing to worry about, I can’t quite bring myself to believe them. When I hear the words, I have a lingering thought in the back of my mind, “Sure, you say that now, but wait until I really mess up”. And I translate me “really messing up” to crying one too many times or misplacing some item of theirs somewhere during a cleaning frenzy.
I have never been to a therapist, so I don’t have a name for this other than extreme insecurity. I couldn’t tell you where it comes from, what specific thing (or series of things) during my childhood led to me not believing people when they say that they like the person I am, flaws and all, but it is there. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can accept that this is both something I have to constantly work on and be vigilant about, but it is also a constant part of who I am. We all have our demons. I am not different from anyone else in this regard. It’s just that it’s very important to me that my demons don’t control me.
The biggest difference between the me of today and the me of a couple of years ago is that the tears don’t come so easily and that when I am weathering an episode of insecurity, the language I use has changed. Yesterday while talking to Wes about various things I admitted fully through tears that I was likely projecting all of these things, that if I ask myself rationally what kind of evidence I have to support my claims I can only answer that I have none, and that I have an active imagination and have invented this yet again. And while this may sound like I am too hard on myself, it is this type of questioning of my neurosis that leads to calm and progress. Yes, when I find that I am inventing and projecting, I disparage myself for it still, but the disparaging is less severe than it used to be because my goals now have shifted. I don’t just want to get better overall, I want to be able to deal better in the moment. No good ever particularly comes from me tearing myself apart for being weak. It is important to acknowledge it and say that it is not behavior I particularly want to repeat, but that’s where it needs to end. No one was ever as good at abusing me emotionally than me and I’d like to think that I am pretty reformed these days.
I set out to attempt to write about this is an amusing way, but as I thought about composing the first sentence I found that I had nothing funny to say. I couldn’t be self deprecating about this particular aspect of my personal struggles because it is pretty much the underlying cause of all of my problems. I can’t distance myself from it. I don’t have any hilarious stories about when I was really insecure…I generally regret all of my bouts with it and can’t glean a bright side from it. The only bright side is that it is so much better now. While I honestly and openly say that I struggle with insecurity, I don’t feel completely controlled by it anymore and sometimes that’s the best we can achieve. Being in control of our own life is truly the only definition of freedom that has ever made sense to me.
Thank you to all the people who have shown me such love and patience while I have waded through my mental mire. You know who you are. May you never doubt how much I appreciate you. And if I come to you and cry “How could you love someone like me?!?”, just smash a cream pie in my face, OK?

Poly lessons I learned from cheating while monogamous.

This post will be hard for me to write.  It will be difficult because it involves mistakes I have made juxtaposed with ideas about love and polyamory that may come across as crass, cold, and possibly uncaring.  There will undoubtedly be people who read this that think of me as an asshole for the thoughts I will express below, but I think it’s worth exploring these ideas anyway.

After all, it is such experiences which helped give me perspective on polyamory, and perhaps some people will sympathize or have experienced similar things.

So, I have not always been polyamorous.  Well, I suppose somewhere deep down, I have always been predisposed to polyamory, but I have not always practiced polyamory in my relationships.  I discovered it early, being around 20 or so, and while I had a quasi polyamorous relationship back then, I was immature, uninformed, and was not really ready to have very healthy relationships then.

So, after college I was monogamous, serially so anyway.  And during the most serious relationship I was in during my 20’s, I acted badly on at least one occasion.  All of the details of the act are not necessary, but it should be sufficient for me to say that I cheated, hid that act from my girlfriend (with whom I was living at the time), and it was eventually found out.

But I want to focus in on a small part of all of this in order to draw out a lesson I learned about myself, love, and non-monogamy from that time.  This part occurred a long while (I think 6 months or so) before she found out about the act.  It was pretty immediately after the act happened, in fact.  It was the first real opportunity I had to reflect on it in the presence of my girlfriend, and I regret not coming clean at that time, but it’s the past….

I loved her.  In many ways, I still do.  But I truly loved her then and appreciated our relationship and all the wonderful times we had.  Sure, we argued about things like cleaning (she was terribly messy), being on time (She was perpetually late), and so forth, but I loved her genuinely.  The sex was great, she got along with my friends, and I loved being with her.  I found her very attractive, passionate, and there was never a lack of desire from my part.

The cheating act, therefore, was not about lack of attention or satisfaction.  It was just about me being into someone else I had met and with whom I had spent some time in social gatherings  One weekend, the circumstances allowed the possibility to act on it, which I did.  Yes, alcohol was involved, but the responsibility was ours.  We both knew what we were doing was wrong.  We did it anyway.

A couple of days later I was faced with my girlfriend, and I had a choice.  I knew that it would have been easy to get away with what happened, and so while I felt like I should say something, I hesitated.  And so with the intention of sitting her down and telling her, despite knowing it could end the relationship, I found her and could only express a strained but genuine smile.  She was happy.  She was in a great mood, had plans for the day she was excitedly telling me about, and I was genuinely glad to see her.  Yes, the sex had been good with the other girl.  Yes I also liked the other girl.  Yes, I had violated a trust.  Yes, I should have stopped her and said something.

But we were happy. A rationalization for sure, but a true one.

It was at this moment that it fully clicked home for me that there is no contradiction between loving two people.  Or at least loving one person while enjoying sex and intimacy with another person, as I cannot say honestly I was in love with the other girl; that would be a severe stretch of the truth.  We were recent acquaintances, really.  I didn’t know her very well.  But we liked each other, shared attraction, and decided to act on it spontaneously.

I felt the tension of knowing I had acted badly and feeling genuine love for the person whose trust I had violated.  It was guilt mixed with happiness.  I knew, at that moment, that I would be capable of caring for a person deeply and genuinely while also being with someone else.  I knew that polyamory was something I wanted and would be capable of.  The irony of discovering this in the context of doing it all very wrong is not lost on me at all.

We were together for some time after this, even after she found out about the act.  We actually had a polyamorous relationship with another woman later on, which was a fairly successful even if relatively short triad.  The cheating act did create problems, but we worked through them and moved on.  I don’t know if the trust ever fully returned, and the relationship eventually faded until we were friends with benefits, friends, and now there is distance between us.

Now I’m married, and she engaged.  We don’t talk much anymore, but are on friendly terms.  I still love her and care about her, even knowing we cannot work as partners nor, do I think, would either of us want to.  Such is life.


So, here is the thing.  I violated an important trust.  I had sex with another woman while in a monogamous relationship, and after having done so all I could think about was how happy I was with my girlfriend, how much I loved her, and how much I still wanted to be with her. I also thought about how in an ideal world I would continue to see that other girl.  That never happened.  We only saw each other a couple times after that, and eventually job opportunities led her away.

There was no immediate, visceral contradiction there for me.  Yes, there was a tension, but it was mostly fear of losing a person I loved with some guilt for having done it.  But there was no deep feeling of having done something inherently wrong; no feeling that sex with another person while in a relationship was always wrong, just wrong when done in this way.

I was aware of the fact that according to common wisdom there should have been a contradiction there, but it didn’t exist for me.  The tension was all in knowing that I could do it again, at least not in the wrong way.  I wanted to do it in the right way.  And eventually (after she found out) we would start talking about opening up our relationship, and we eventually did decide to become polyamorous.

I was as if, in my mind at that time, I was already polyamorous.  I completely got how one could share and be shared without it being an issue.  The fact that we were not polyamorous at the time, that we had not agreed to share, was a problem that did erode at me, but we continued to be happy.  In fact, later on she did something rather similar with a male friend of hers while visiting home and did disclose it to me immediately.  And it was fine.

It was fine because in my mind I was already willing to share.  I was already geared to have that conversation.  I had already stopped thinking about her as being exclusively mine.  I would love her whether she was with other men (or women) or not.  I loved her because I loved her, not because she loved only me.

Now that I am polyamorous, I experience a similar feeling all the time.  Whether I spend some intimate time with Gina, Ginny, or someone else, if I am to then spend time with my wife or my girlfriend afterwards, I am then focused on them.  The fact that I just had sex with another person cannot touch what I have with them.  What I have with them is special, powerful, and transcends such silly things as where my penis was just a little while ago or whose penis was with them.

Why does that matter? Why should that matter?

And I understood that in that moment I should have disclosed the act, but didn’t.  I rationalized all sorts of reasons why it was better to keep it secret.  I get that even if it didn’t change how I felt or that it really should not matter, I should have disclosed.  And now I do disclose.  If I am with someone else, Ginny and Gina usually know that it is a fair possibility before it happens.  And if it does happen, they know.

And I still love them both, am happy with them both, and all is transparent.

What I learned was that sex and other people cannot damage relationships in themselves.  Relationships fall or stand on their own merits.  If your relationship is strong, it can withstand external intimacy.  If your relationships have weaknesses, those external intimacies will become a lightning rod for those weaknesses, but are not necessarily the cause of them.

So yes, cheating is a violation of trust.  But it is not the act, the sex, that does the damage.  The damage is the violation of trust.  That was a distinction I learned that day, and have ever forgotten.

You don’t have to be a slut, but you should if you are

I love sex.  I think people should have as much sex as they want.

There are a number of cultural, social, and psychological barriers between people’s desires and what they do.  In many cases, these barriers are necessary and good, such as the object of said desire being attached to a subjective point of view that does not share that desire.  In other words, wanting sex with another person is insufficient; they need to want it too.  Having sex with mere objects, however, is fine (so long as it’s your object, I suppose).

Religion, while not really the ultimate source of such barriers, certainly perpetuates many of the behaviors that act as a barrier to healthy desires.  Religion is but a very prominent and powerful outgrowth of human behavior, and much of that behavior is not healthy.  Theological positions which declare our desires to be sinful, ungodly, etc are expressions of our deep fears and insecurities projected onto the universe, magnifying our senses of guilt, repression, and self-deprivation beyond its rational scope.  Most of theology, that is, is anti-human.

We all want sex to some degree.  For some, that amount is zero, and those people will probably not be sluts.  I mean, they can choose to participate in sex, but without the raw desire and attraction, why would they?  It’s not what they really want, so deep down they are not sluts.

For other people, that degree of interest in sex is great.  When I was younger, I remember spending weekends with a girlfriend where marathon sexcapades were common.  Having aged a bit, that is no longer the case but I still love sex, and I like it with women of varying body types, varying personalities, and even with varying numbers of them.  I am an unapologetic slut deep down, and I a not a slightest bit ashamed of that, and I love meeting people who feel the same way, or who at least share an attraction to me.

Whether they also share it with 1, 2 or a 10 others is not really important.

But I also don’t have that much time.  I have two very meaningful relationships, with my wife(!) Ginny and my girlfriend Gina.  Frankly, I don’t have much time to meet other women.  And other times even if I know other women I am attracted to, I don’t communicate it if it seems to create logistical problems, I get no indication that the attraction is two-way, etc.  But, when I do meet someone that I find attractive, I often communicate my interest.  Sometimes it works out, other times not so much.

The point is that I follow where my real desires actually lead, and not to some ideal or expectation.  I don’t artificially pretend that I am more or less interested in sex than I actually am.  Not everyone does this.  Some people reign in their desires, magnify them, or try and intentionally divert them away from some direction they find objectionable.  Now, if they have a good reason for doing so (and what I consider a good reason may differ from theirs), then no problem.  But some people are not comfortable with their sexuality, and that is not healthy.

Slut-shaming is a problem.  There is no reason to talk badly about a person who has a lot of sex with a lot of people, unless they are hurting people in the process.  There is nothing inherently wrong with such a thing as really liking sex and then having it, so long as it is done consensually, comes from real desire, and with transparency.  There is also no reason to feel bad about wanting such things to start with.

From where I stand, the problem comes from where people have those desires but don’t find healthy ways to act on them.  That is if you do have those desires to be sexual, and you are not seeking healthy and consensual ways to act on them, then perhaps there is something wrong.

Are you in an exclusive relationship? Perhaps you need to have an open and frank conversation with your partner.  Are you intimidated? You need to find ways to take steps to get over that.  You you feel dirty? Come on, you don’t find that as part of what makes it hot? No? Well, then perhaps you should find “clean” ways to have sex.

I feel too much pity for people who get into their 40’s, 50’s, or later and finally cannot stand to put off their desires any longer.  I have met many people in the poly community that talk about how they ignored so much about their sexuality when they were young, and then they found later on what they wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad they did find it, I just wish people would find it earlier.

We need to be who and what we really are under all the bullshit of socialization, religious training, and following of default expectations.  We will all be happier getting what we want out of life by pursuing it rather than putting it off.

In short, we’d be better getting off than putting off.


Holy crap, I’m married!

Like, for real.  Like, marriage license, wedding, reception, and all the rest that goes with it.

Damn, why do I always stand so awkwardly?

So, Ginny is more into things like traditions, cultural rituals, etc than I am.  In fact, she would pretty much have to be.  But on the whole, the day was pretty normal, at first glance.  There was a guy standing between us saying some words, there was a bridal party, and we stood there looking at each other all lovingly and crap.  You know, like a wedding.

But the guy standing there (my friend Staks) said some non-traditional things.  The nod to gay marriage (we were at a gay community center in downtown Philadelphia, after all), references to Doctor Who, and stuff like that.  He also included some traditional words that one finds in a marriage ceremony, but no references to any sky-fairies or zombie Jews, so that’s a bit abnormal, I guess.

Also, my girlfriend, the hilarious and talented Gina who readers here will all know as the very serious scientist who pisses off reddit with her analysis of comic book science, brought some people with instruments to play some rocking tunes.  (And yes, Arcati Crisis does indeed rock).  So, yes, girlfriend at my wedding.  Happy poly time!

There were speeches, including one quite sappy and teary one which was forced out through sobs (oh, right…that was me).  There was food, drinks, after parties, and crashing of other wedding parties.  Also, dancing to said rocking tunes.

People visited from out of town, mimosas were had with brunch, and people left to go back home.  Now back to real life, right?

This does not change much in our lives.  We are still polyamorous; marriage and commitment do not change that.  I am looking forward to the future, living in the present, and remembering the past few days with a smile, but also knowing that we can’t always have the people we enjoy being with around.

It was great seeing friends from Atlanta, Illinois, Virginia, etc for a couple of days.  It’s a shame that we can’t all hang out on a Saturday night, in a hotel room, with drinks and ginormous pizzas every week.  It’s a shame that everyone had to go home.

But many of them remain, and I am glad for that.

Compersion OVERLOAD

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Philadelphia.  The sun came up and it was immediately bright and sunny with barely a cloud in the sky.  It was warm but not oppressive.  Driving through the streets to get to the William Way Center, I saw so many people out and about, sipping on coffee or sitting in the window seats of cafes having brunch.  It is on days like this that the prettiness and excellence of the city is undeniable.

But perhaps everything looked so good to me because I was off to load in with Arcati Crisis to play at Shaun and Ginny’s wedding.

On Friday night, Wes and I went and dropped off a ton of stuff at the venue and went to buy a bunch of table cloths since the rental company they hired for linens sucks and didn’t really seem to understand what “We need them on Saturday” meant.  And then we went back to their house where Ginny’s brother Lane was, as well as several out of town friends.  They were working on wedding crafts, eating giant slices of pizza and smoking cigars on the front steps.  We hung out for a few hours and it was really fun for me to get to meet people from other realms of Shaun and Ginny’s lives, people who have know them for much longer and in different settings.  They were a diverse crowd and a funny crowd and in meeting them I got to see why we all get along so well.  They come from all over the country and I wish I was going to get more of a chance to get to know them, but seeing as I’m not going anywhere, I’m sure that those opportunities will arise.

On Saturday, I awoke around 7:30 in the morning with honest to goodness jitters.  Not bad jitters, just the kind that you get before something you’re excited about is going to happen.  They were “night before Christmas” or “night before my birthday” jitters.  When I finally succumbed to them, I realized that I was looking so forward to Shaun and Ginny’s wedding that I couldn’t even sleep anymore.  Then I got out of bed and went about getting ready, the excitement kept building.

When we got to the place, Arcati Crisis was all business.  We set to work getting out 100 pieces of necessary Rock Music equipment in order and, since we managed to beat the bride and groom there by a half hour, we were also telling the caterers and such what to do, always with the caveat of “Um…I don’t really know, but I guess this makes sense?” Shaun appeared, looking awesome in a yellow button down shirt and sweet green and yellow tie and his simultaneously hot and hilarious sunglasses.  This is a general theme about what I find attractive him.  I usually laugh and lust all at the same time.  Ginny arrived a little bit later looking like the picture of beauty.  She wore an almond colored 50’s style cocktail dress and a pearl headband and jewelry that she made herself.  She was also wearing a huge grin and she just looks so pretty when she smiles like that.

Eventually, we got everything set up and managed a sound check while the first guests started arriving.  Peter took on the role of wedding coordinator, something he is ridiculously good at.  He had put together a schedule for the day basically down to the minute.  There were a few hitches that put us behind for a bit, but somehow we ended up being only a minute over by the end.  I believe project/event management is Peter’s mutant power, which in this day and age beats the pants off of fire vision or hand spikes…at least in terms of being useful to people.  I’m pretty sure no one wants Wolverine to organize their wedding.  Though he might be kind of awesome at a Bar Mitzvah.

We played a bunch of originals while people arrived and Shaun and Ginny floated around saying hello to everyone.  Wes and Jessie walked around the room listening to make sure we sounded balanced and the right volume and then Jessie became the wedding photographer and walked around the whole time taking pictures of everything.  I was quite happy about that because I brought my fancy camera and I know that Jessie takes great pictures.

The ceremony was short but beautiful.  Their friend Staks was the officiant and started by asking for a moment to remember that not everyone is able to marry.  This was an important statement to make, in general, but also in a room such as that where there was such a diverse group with many different lifestyles.  The vows and exchanged words were about things so fundamental to a healthy, long lasting relationship: Trust, commitment to each other’s happiness, the feeling that they both can be everything that they are around each other, growth and change, and of course, love and a general bond and commitment to each other.  I wish that everyone who had ever expressed concern about their relationship and marriage could have been there to see it because being there, hearing their words, seeing the depth of emotion between them, you would be unable to deny the reality of the relationship’s strength and awesomeness.

Lane and I were the witnesses on their marriage license which meant a lot to me.  Then after lunch was served, I, the best man, the maid of honor, and Ginny’s father spoke, people from all different places in their lives.  I get to see them day to day but have known them for a relatively short time (though it feels like I have known them for much longer).  The wedding party (Jordan and Joy) have known them for years but aren’t able to be around as much now.  And of course, a parent always has a different perspective.  All together, it was a picture of a rich life filled with family and friends who, at least on this day (and from the sound of it, for many days to come), support and love them.  And this richness, to me, is so much more valuable than money or traditional professional success.

Ginny and I sang together and it went quite well, despite the fact that the band had learned it only a few days before.  I was happy for the chance to do it since Ginny has a lovely voice and everyone got to hear it.  Then the band’s dance set started and it was over in a blur.

At the end of the day, Shaun’s mom came over to me and complimented the band and things like that.  And then we talked about this blog.  Shaun had told me on Friday that she read much of what is on here…including my post about Easter.  Oops!  Well, hi, Shaun’s Mom (since you might be a regular reader now)!  But, the blog did something unexpected.  She didn’t react to the things I said in a defensive way in the slightest.  Instead, she apologized that I had felt uncomfortable and hoped that I would come back to visit and give her another chance.  Then she reminded me that this is all weird, and she’s right.  I have talked before about how I feel like I’m generally in a bubble when I’m at home because my life makes a lot of sense there.  Everyone there is part of it and is an active participant in my “lifestyle”.  Often when I blog about this stuff I am doing it because I have moments (many moments) where the bubble bursts and it inspires a lot of thought from me.  The absurdity of life is always blog worthy.  For Shaun’s mom, she just didn’t know what to expect, how to feel, anything about me and I explained to her that I was in a similar boat that day because it was the first time I was being introduced as the girlfriend.  So often I am introducing Jessie to people and people see it as “the wife giving her blessing” or something.  We were both in odd places and it was an absurd day on top of that.  But it meant a lot to me that she wanted to talk to me about it, that she wanted to move beyond it.  I felt accepted and saw potential of becoming part of the family and that means a great deal to me.

If yesterday was not argument enough that polyamory can be highly functional and truly preferred, I don’t know what is.    I was immensely happy for them all day, through the night, and am still beaming about it.  This is the picture of compersion.  I was so grateful to them for including in so many aspects of the day because I felt free to express to them how wonderful their love for each other makes me feel, and how lucky I am to get to experience it.

As the day went on, I often looked at Wes and Jessie and would feel compersion for them as well.  I was so happy that they were there and that they got to enjoy the day together along with me.  I am so happy that they found each other and that there is so much wonder in this house and in this life.  I understand that our lives are strange to many and seems impossible for many others.  That’s fine.  Everyone is different.  But take this as an honest and heartfelt statement: I could never go back to monogamy after having had what I have now.  There is so much joy in this life.  I feel overjoyed and happy so often, all because of the amazing people close to me.  How could I ever wish for anything else?

I have been going on like this for days.  I’m sure I’ll calm down with all this sentimentality and sappiness at some point, but for now, I feel like I am bursting with it.  I just can’t stop saying “I love you” and “I am so happy”.  I’m sure I’m making cynical people want to barf, but I’m OK with that.  To the Vomitorium with you! (Spell check does not recognize “vomitorium” and suggested that perhaps I meant “Victorian” or “Janitorial”.  No, those are not what I’m talking about.)

Well, I’ve blathered on about this long enough I suppose. I promise to return to my posts about stripper heals, germaphobes, and feminism shortly…though probably not all in the same post.  Although, now that sounds like a challenge.