Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a short poly booklist

Essentials/ones I've read and recommend personally:

Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits : Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships, Deborah M. Anapol

The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt

Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful, Anthony Ravenscroft

The Polyamory Handbook: A User's Guide, Peter J. Benson

Ones I'd like to read/have had recommended to me:

Spiritual Polyamory, Mystic Life

The Sex and Love Handbook: Polyamory! Bisexuality! Swingers! Spirituality! (& even) Monogamy! A Practical Optimistic Relationship Guide, Kris A. Heinlein and Rozz M. Heinlein
The Lesbian Polyamory Reader: Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Casual Sex
, Marcia Munson

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, Tristan Taormino

Others you might want to consider:

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, Jenny Block

The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, David P. Barash

The Threesome Handbook: A Practical Guide to SLEEPING WITH THREE, Vicki Vantoch

Better have this handy, in case someone asks...

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

notes from 24/03/09 poly 101: boundaries and negotiations

We had a fantastic poly discussion at our March meet, with almost twice the number of participants from the first meeting, in a wonderful space at Camas. I for one was delighted to meet so many diverse yet articulate and thoughtful people and to hear what all of you had to say about some very sensitive and tricky boundary issues. I also really enjoyed hearing about everyone's varied poly backgrounds and experiences. I can't wait for the next meet, which I'll announce for next month as soon as I figure out a date that works. I'm going to try to rebook at Camas for the time being since the space (and the yummy potluck) was so conducive to safe, relaxed conversation. I'm also considering ordering a poly uniform, possibly consisting of polyestery polypants and "Got Compersion?" t-shirts. Go, us!

I'm including some very brief notes from our discussion, mostly because although I meant to take actual notes I found I was enjoying listening raptly to what everyone said, so couldn't be bothered to write it down. Please feel free to post and add bits of what you remember to this.
We discussed what boundaries are: Are they rules? guidelines? flexible or dealbreakers? It was agreed that poly people like shades of grey.

How do we communicate boundaries? By setting aside specific time, picking good times to talk, continual communication and checking in and by being self-aware and flexible (because needs and opinions can change over time).

What boundaries work for you? Tailoring to each relationship, knowing our own needs and stating them clearly, working with a spectrum of responses to an issue, and the importance of firm boundaries so that everyone knows where they stand. Honesty and trust was also discussed. I really liked what one person said about beginning with being centered in their own heart and speaking from that perspective. Living truthfully is tough but rewarding and can make things easier, even in a seemingly complex web of relationships.

Specific boundaries talked about included: being "out" -- different people have different degrees of comfort with this, TMI boundaries, either among partners or with other friends and family members with regard to poly and intimacy

Thank you all for a great discussion and please feel free to send suggestions to me for future topics. Ones I'm considering for next month are:

- What different types of poly relationships are there?
- How do we deal with jealousy, envy and get to compersion?
- Poly dating challenges

Dan's Yes to No Checklist for negotiating in poly relationships

This is a terrific discussion tool developed by a friend of mine and his wife. He was kind enough to share it with me so I could bring it to my discussion on Negotiations and Boundaries. Thanks, Dan!

A couple of years back, I developed this little communications tool to use in relationship negotiations.

The idea of the spectrum is that it gives a 1 to 10 rating of the intensity between "no" and "yes". It can be useful because not only will it help you gauge your own intensity, it can make it easier to express your position when you’re talking about an emotionally charged subject. So, here’s the scale:

1. "No, and I never want to talk about this again."
2. "No, but you could ask again in the future."
3. "No, but I can see a possible path towards yes, so let’s discuss it."
4. "No for today, but my mind is open. Let’s take our time and discuss it."
5. "No for today, but I am close to yes. Let’s talk about some remaining issues or obstacles."
6. "Yes, but I’m not comfortable with it."
7. "Yes, but with severe limitations that may not be what you want."
8. "Yes, within broad limits that you seem to be comfortable with."
9. "Yes, you have my blessing with no limits."
10. "Yes, and I’m actively encouraging you. Why are we still talking instead of acting?"

When you are afraid to ask your partner something, it’s typically because you think their answer will be #1. Maybe it will be. Personally, I think it’s worth asking and knowing rather than just assuming. If the answer is #3 or above, you can actually start talking about it.

It’s important to remember is that not all things require #10 to do. If I wanted to blow some money on a new camera, my partner might be at #6, but I would feel OK doing it anyway. However, if I wanted to get hand-fasted to another woman, I would need a #10 from my partner to feel OK doing it. Ultimately we decided that most actions and relationships in the poly realm require a #7 or #8 as the minimum to act.

It’s also important to understand that not everything will move up the scale into the "yes" range, and that’s OK. This is not a tool to persuade someone towards yes. It’s a tool to better communicate your position on a particular subject.

notes from the first poly 101, 24/02/09

Last night I held a Poly 101 evening at a local bistro, in the hopes of encouraging the new and curious to come out and ask the questions they might be having about polyamory. I've been to similar sessions over the last few years and found them extremely helpful in sorting out some of my own feelings about practicing and identifying as poly, and one of the things I love about attending them regularly is the wealth of fresh perspective on "old" poly issues that new people bring to the table.

I was incredibly pleased to see over half a dozen new and eager faces last night; the discussion, which was a fairly loosely structured "what challenges have you encountered or do you expect to encounter in polyamory as a relationship style?" generated some awesome ideas for future, more focused discussion.

Some of the tantalizing topics touched upon were:

- the challenge of loving non-poly people
- different kinds of poly relationships
- does poly really "work"?
- what about commitment? are poly people into commitment? how does one define commitment in a culture where exclusivity is the accepted norm for a committed relationship?
- semantics (is an "open relationship" the same thing as polyamory?)
- how do poly partners reach agreements, and what about boundaries?
- jealousy, envy and compersion- secrecy, communication within relationships, and being "out" to the world at large -- varying levels of openess

I also provided a links list of online and local resources:

Poly Links

"Polyamory? What, like two girlfriends?", Franklin Veaux's extremely practical and thorough poly information and advice website. A must read: http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html

"The Polyamorous Misanthrope", a terrific advice column/blog by an experienced poly practitioner:http://www.polyamorousmisanthrope.com/

"VanIsle Poly Yahoo list", where you can sign up to get news of all the latest events: http://www.vanisle-polyamory.com/

"Sex Positive Alternatives" (SPA), a Victoria-based Cyber Community Centre promoting events on Vancouver Island for consenting adults (19 yrs +) who practice alternative loving choices such as swinging, polyamory and Dominance/submission,masochism/sadism or variations there of and those who identify as heterosexual, bi-sexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, or transsexual:http://www.sexpositivealternatives.com/

"Jealousy and the Abyss", a really wonderful essay on how to look at jealousy as a tool for growth and self exploration rather than as something to be avoided: http://www.planetwaves.net/jealousy.html

"Polyamory, STDs and Safer Sex": http://www.serolynne.com/poly_stds.htm

"Polymatchmaker", more than just a matchmaking site, there are informative forums and links to all kinds of poly information worldwide: http://www.polymatchmaker.com/

"Sexual Integration and Free Association", Kiki's blog: http://kikimuse.blogspot.com/