Tag Archive | polyamory

Digital Dating

i am part of a secret Facebook polyamory group.  Some of the people, for lots of different legitimate, (though often sad), reasons can not be public with their sexual identity.  The other day a new person was added to the group and the way they were introduced is with a link to their OKCupid profile.  i clicked thru to look at the profile and was told that i could not see it, because i did not have a profile on OKCupid myself.  i had been thinking about making a profile for a while, not because i need more romantic relationships, but because i believe the platform is extremely powerful and i wanted to understand it better.  So this restriction set me to crafting one for myself.

okcupid logo.pgn

i have lots of profiles.  i have a Facebook one, a LinkedIn one, i have both the official one on wikipedia and the banned one (which is much better).  So i did not think it would be a big deal to craft one for OKC (as it is often abbreviated).  i was, once again, completely wrong.

The first thing that happened was OKC matched me up with a gal from Twin Oaks, who while i quite like her, would be a terrible romantic partner and both of us knew this instantly.   And she is not polyamorous.

OKcupid had a lot of trouble matching me to anyone else.  i thought at first this was because of my age, and being married, and being poly and being located out in the middle of no where.  But again i was wrong.

Cassandra looked at my profile and started to tell me all the things that were wrong with it.  i realized that i had done it poorly and she offered to help fix it, including answering questions for me to filter out non-poly people from finding high matches with me.  Unsurprisingly, after she answered a bunch of questions for me hers and my profiles matched much better.  She also added a bunch of pictures and edited my bio and other identity questions.

“does it work for you to post pictures of you kissing other women?” – Photo credit Cassandra

And then once Cassandra made these enhancements i started to get more people responding to my profile, despite the basic information still being the same.  i did not even see that Cassandra had put in this beautiful picture (which she took) of Mac and i kissing.

One of the women responding to my profile asked if including this image actually helped me find new intimates.  When she asked i was unaware the picture was on my profile, but i assure her that it did work effectively as a filter for people who have jealousy problems – which would be a total deal breaker for someone thinking of getting involved with me.

R to L - Casandra and her Mom - circa 2013

R to L – Casandra and her Mom – circa 2013

So now that i have worked with OKCupid for a while, i have a less rarefied attitude towards it.  Many of the questions are weak, it has been bought out by Match.com, so there are endless ads on it.  And while i am not actually looking for a new girlfriend it is a bit depressing to see myself so poorly matched.

But i am going on a double date with Mac and Cassandra and her partner tomorrow.  It turns out Cassandra and i have a high match.

Poly Comics

The talented and lovely Tikva has started a comic which is largely about polyamory.

kimchi cuddles 1

poly means more processing

Tikva and i lived at Twin Oaks together some years back…

her talents are not limited to art stuff

her talents are not limited to art stuff

Of course poly folks are our own best critics

kimchi cuddles 2

guilty

Tikva is highly telegenic - making for good blog material.

Tikva is telegenic – making for great blog material.

how many times have i heard this ...

how many times have i heard this …

i recruited her perhaps a decade back on the Harvard Yard, she was a shooting star

tikva alice

Her comic can be found at http://kimchicuddles.tumblr.com/

April is Manifesting Loud Love

What is important to me in this coming month is promoting the Loud Love conference and so we get a bunch of people to experience it.  We have a good program and a great team of organizers (see below).fall in love

Loud Love is about exploring, expressing, exporting and celebrating your romantic identity and experience.    There are a wide range of workshops offered from Blues Dancing (a non-sexual intimacy building skill) to Honest Seduction (yes, this is not a contradiction in terms) to Drag King 101, to Transcending Jealousy and building compersion (yes, people actually succeed in this) to advanced polyamory techniques.

blues

Blues Dancing

Plus there is a days worth of open space technology which permits conference participants to present on topics that the group in interested in.

Loud Love Logo

The New Loud Love Logo – art by Mac

At the end of our last organizers meeting Sky pointed out that we are not where we want to be for this Loud Love event, which is in two short months.  And it made me realize that despite the good work we have done (securing a space, finding presenters, designing workshops, budgeting and more) there is more left to do to make this happen.

conspire

i dont usually ask things of my readers, but this post i will.  Please think about a friend of yours (or possibly you yourself) who would be well served by this event.  Then encourage them to register and attend or let us know who they are and we will let them know you recommend them for our event.  

Here are the awesome folks i get to work with on this event:

Sky Blue has been experimenting with relationships since he was 8 years old and did his first

sky bio picmediation with squabbling friends.  He’s been in some form of open relationship for most of the last 14 years.  A drop-out from UC Santa Cruz he’s lived and worked in cooperative and communal groups for most of the last 17 years.  His purpose in life is to help bring people together to transform themselves, each other, and the world around them.

Kassia is a musician, activist, community builder and all-around nosey-parker.   She hKassiaas traveled the world, lived on a commune, toured the US with a klezmer band, and practiced Jewish Farming.  After spending several years in Charlottesville helping start two small collective businesses (a hostel and a home-veggie gardening biz), she concluded that there is more fun to be had on the commune and recently moved back to Twin Oaks to work on her life-goal of conspiring with the universe to have as much fun as possible.

Angie Tupelo is a queer, anarchist, polyamorous, feminist, sub-identified, Angiesex-positive gal.   She recently moved back to the “real world” after living on a commune for 4 years, and is gradually adjusting to wearing shoes.  She gives workshops on Polyamory, BDSM for Feminists, Honest Seduction, Kink for Abuse Survivors, and Intentional Community living. She blogs about life, love, revolution, mental illness, and how they fit together in her life, and really really enjoys bacon.

Ali has been bisexual and polyamorous since before she knew what those words meant. She languished in mainstream culture for several years feeling ashamed of her desires for multiple concurrentAli intimacies with different genders before she found her physical and philosophical home at Twin Oaks. Among Ali’s many life goals is to make sex an acceptable form of social currency and move it from the taboo to appropriate dinner table conversation. She wants to normalize polyamory as a relationship model, move forward the idea of a mischief (group) of interconnected lovers taking care of one another, and to make group intimacy & sex as easily & openly sought as coupledom.

Paxus  facilitates a workshop called “Modesty is Dangerous” and you can start figPaxusuring out who he is from there. Paxus self-identifies as a revolutionary, but more importantly he identifies you, dear reader, as a potential co-conspirator in designing irresistible ideas which will change the world (super memes).  He comes to the Loud Love organizing team engaged, reckless, and feeling intensely daring.  His tangled form of activism fuses direct action against those threatening the biosphere (MonstantoWestinghouse, et. al) with actively fostering and building new income-sharing intentional communities with proselytizing for radical intimacy models (including Honest Seduction). Paxus is one of three parents in a polyamorous family.  His biography does not make credible fiction and was thus rejected by Wikipedia.  He co-founded and directs the Emma Goldman Institute for Theoretical and Applied Funology, an entity which there seems to be no proof actually exists.

Organic cover girl

MacGyver dumped her job in high end tine-share real estate marketing to live with her friends in the country and do righteous work for an organic seed company.  She drives a tractor, works as cook and carpenter and tends chickens at absurd o’clock in the morning.  She spends 97% less time worrying about things than the average US American.  Some of her friends call her Surprise.  She is not afraid  to pick up a microphone and entertain without a plan as to what she is going to say or sing when she grabs it.   Not a day goes by when she is not appreciative for ditching the mainstream life and moving to Acorn.

Feonix and Aries Bios to come

Feonix and Aries Bios to come

Minority Relationship Model

Crystal asked me to shock his Social Movement students at Cal State Monterey Bay.  This felt like a high bar, so i offered to entertain them and provoke their thinking.

Crystal and fellow philosopher

Crystal and fellow philosopher

i presented about all the folks who had said the world was going to end unless we dramatically change our behavior (Club or Rome, Carl Sagan and nuclear winter, Rio 1992 and sustainability, the Peak Oil kids and now climate change).  i put them in small groups and asked them to discuss what things they could do a better job of sharing.

But it was (predictably) the second part of the class which got the most eyebrows raised.  I talked about polyamory and the astronomy of the Star family (and bragged about various Willowisms).  The group exercise was to talk about their relationship with jealousy and report back on if they liked it and how they might change it.

But the thing that Crystal was most excited about was the idea that polyamory was a minority relationships model and as such was discriminated against in most peoples thinking.  i pointed out that if you get involved in a poly relationship and it does not work out, you are quite likely to say “Polyamory does not work” or perhaps “Poly does not work for me”.

polyamory pedals

But if you are on the other side of a failed monogamous relationship you are more likely to say “Joe is an asshole”.  It is quite possible that your poly relationship failed because Joe is an asshole, or because Joe is not even poly.  We rarely say “Monogamy does not work”

[80% of students reported being shocked.]

Transcending Jealousy and The Shakespeare Challenge

kissThe coining of the word “kiss” is often credited to Shakespeare and i think it is an especially brilliant name, further solidifying his genius status in my mind.  Perhaps it was called just “snogging” before old Bill came along and saved the day.  In this spirit, i have asked Rabbit to come up with a better term for compersion, which is slightly poorly defined as the opposite of jealousy.  What compersion really is is feeling excited about your romantic intimate having other romantic intimates.  Great idea, terrible name.  Oh, and it turns out Shakespeare did not coin “kiss”, but has the first attestation of it (first recorded printing).

A talented group of organizers is putting together this Loud Love conference in June (you can register on line for it).  peoplecirclejoypplclosermost copyThe content is potent and eclectic, including: how to date a sexual assault survivor,  how to have a brilliant break up, honest seductionblues dancingbluesas non-sexual consent practice, transparency tools, how to explain polyamory to your kids, crafting sexy consent, BDSM/kink, becoming a drag king, multiple parallel honeymoons and much more.  One of the workshops i am most excited about is on how to transcend jealousy and learn how to be excited about your lover having other intimate relationships.

In polyamory discussions one often hears “Do i have to transcend my own jealousy to be polyamorous?”  The answer is no.  The stock reply is that you do not have to transcend jealousy to be in a poly relationship, but you do need to be willing to look at the feelings underneath it and communicate honestly about them with your partner.  If you can communicate about these and other tricky feelings, you maybe able to navigate through your jealous experiences and maintain multiple relationships.  If you can’t talk about it, you are sunk.poly

There is a fair amount of good stuff out there in the world on how to manage jealousy and there is precious little that i have found on how to build compersion.  And by the time Loud Love is actually happening, i am confident we will have found useful stuff on this important topic, and/or we will have found a capable facilitator for this workshop.

And hopefully Rabbit will have found a better name for it by then as well.

My would be Shakespeare practicing snogging

My would be Shakespeare practicing snogging

The Best Dancer

Rabbit described it charitably by saying “Paxus dances like he is listening to a musical instrument which has not yet been invented.”  But i have to confess i was a bit terrified heading into our blues dancing adventure.  Feonix had contended that Blues Dancing and Yoga were powerful non-sexual intimacy building tools that we should include in the Loud Love conference we are organizing.  Ali (a new Oaker and part of the organizing team) was skeptical of the Blues Dancing part of this claim, so we needed to see it and experience it for ourselves.  After a 45 minute lesson, we jumped into the deep end of beginner Blues Dancing.

bluesdance

Blues dancing works well when the communication is free flowing. 

Feonix was right.  Blues Dancing, in contrast to many forms of dancing, requires a high level of consent consciousness to work.  The leader needs to send clear signals to the follower and they need to have a sensitivity to the followers comfort level.  I loved that the women asked me to dance and as poor as i was at the steps, i walked away feeling confident that our interaction was a positive one for them – despite my poor dancing.

At one point when i was dancing with Feonix i noticed a young woman who had her head against her partners chest and she had an incredible smile on her face.  I was appreciative of what i assumed was either a long trusting dance relationship or a romantic connection between this smiling dancer and her lead.  bluesdacne

Thirty minutes later this smiling dancer, Nina, would introduce herself to me.  We spoke of my developing theories on Blues Dancing and consent.  And like a good propagandist, Nina was quick to point out that there are problems with the consent culture in the DC area blues dancing scene.  Nothing especially serious, but people who were scaring away new dancers by being creepy around them.  Nina told me of partners who are sloppy in their signals and did things their followers did not want them to do.  But my mind had already linked onto the metaphor of blues dancing and advanced consent culture.  When i asked Nina about the partner who she was smiling so broadly on, she told me it was someone she had met one week earlier, but they had an extraordinary connection.    I was blown away, and further convinced.
blues-dancing-photos-10

When Steve later asked me who my favorite dance partner was, i had to say Nina.  Not because she was the most talented dancer (this was quite hard for me to tell), nor for her grace and attractive appearance.  For me Nina was the best dancer, because she shook me up.  She showed me her emotional daring both in asking me to dance and in dancing so close with a near stranger.

And daring is my favorite trait.

And i had a fantastic time and am convinced Blues Dancing should be part of the Loud Love conference we are organizing May 31-June 2 at Sophia House (more info and register here).

blues2

Finding the group mind

Initially, I was angered by her.

It was the lead up to Y2K and some people at Twin Oaks were worried about what might happen with the change over from 1999 to 2000. We had a series of discussions and community meetings and Tree (who lived at Acorn at the time) came over to facilitate the largest meeting we had on the topic.

Ari was an annoying, alcoholic, older member. (His clever thinking included explaining to a much younger woman that because she was polyamorous there was no reason she could not have sex with him, despite a complete absence of desire on her part.) Ari came to the big Y2K discussion.

Tree was adeptly facilitating this contentious meeting. Moving through the long stack of people who wanted to speak. She isolated issues we could discuss and make decisions about from the endless editorials about the imminent end of the world and our lack of preparedness.  She called on Ari (who was likely at least slightly intoxicated) and he babbled for five minutes in an inchoate haze until she gently cut him off and said,

Tree is a bit of a Luddite and thus there are few images of her to grab.

“So what I hear you saying is A, B and C.” I forget her exact points but she presented them crisply and clearly. Ari and the rest of us were stunned.  Ari quickly agreed that this was what he had meant to say and then shut up. I was angry because instead of validating my (and the group) experience that there was nothing of value in what this man had said, she had managed to translate his incomprehensible babbling to actual suggestions and concerns.

It was only later when I was complaining to another member that I got an alternate perspective on it. “Tree did not make up her summary of his points,” said this member.  “Rather she listened deeply to him, cut away the nonsense, reached into his mind and distilled his muddled thinking down to his useful thoughts.” My upset moved to respect.

I started flirting with Tree who had already decided I was not a safe person to be dancing with, despite our both being activists, poly, networkers and into group decision making. Not long afterwards, she left Acorn and moved to Eugene, OR.

Tree at work.

NASCO is the North American Student Cooperative Organization.  It has a big conference every year in the fall in Ann Arbor which it calls “Institute.”  NASCO is the association of student co-ops, which are logical feeders for intentional communities. In 2000, Tree and I both attended. We flirted some more. With 3,000 miles between us, she thought I was a safe distance away, but after the event I kept contacting her and visiting Eugene.  My relationship with Tree, which was supposed to be a short affair, ended up being one of the more important relationships in my life.

As a networking revolutionary, my job is to find people with extraordinary gifts and get them in service of the transformative collective good. Tree has a boat load of gifts, perhaps the most important is her ability to facilitate the coalescing of the group mind. She serves as teacher, facilitator, process designer, event convener, peacemaker, and more. Helping groups discover not only what they can do together, but also what they will love doing together is where her power is.  It’s also partly why I think she is so sexy.  She does not need my help to find places to be useful, but I am flattered when she seeks my advice

The eco-system of services Tree provides.

Tree uses a gifting-based fee model for her consulting practices.  Meaning, she does her work and then leaves it to the group to decide what they should pay her.  She has done this for years.  She jokes, “I do the work, and the Goddess works out the money.”  The nice thing about this arrangement is deities work for free.  She also does not advertise her services, though she does have a website.  Instead she leaves the marketing to her previous clients, to word of mouth.   Her results are so powerful and her services in such demand, she has the luxury of selecting who to work for based on geographics and other factors.

For years we acted as each others adviser, talking irregularly but deeply on the phone, and visiting occasionally when our transcontinental journeys permitted. We built a deep connection. At one point we were struggling and I wanted to break up.  My other lovers, including Hawina, did an intervention and stopped me from ending our connection because our relationship was so important and my reasons for splitting up were so weak.

But I am a very tricky person to be romantically involved with. I am inconsistent, endlessly distracted, unreliable. Bringing me into your life means putting up with tremendous turbulence. A couple of years back I could not handle the pain our connection was causing Tree and my own feelings of guilt about it, mostly from us being disconnected for so long.  While she wanted to find something that would work better for both of us, I just walked away, exhausted and frustrated.

 

With a group in LA, but Tree’s work is more locally focused now..

I looked her up on a recent visit to Eugene; we talked about her work with the very cool pattern language process cards and how she is developing her process consulting practice, shifting to more local gigs, doing things with small businesses and non-profits – breaking away some from the alternative culture world, despite her roots in it.  We talk about her other efforts in gift and non-monetary economy. She introduced me to the latest social network in the field of gifting called Kindista.org. She continues to write for Communities Magazine, despite living alone in her own charming little house. She advised me (in her sage manner) on various options for economic engines for Chubby Squirrels.

A card from Tree’s pattern language deck.

And I realized that I have never stopped loving her and still want her in my life. I need her – We need us.

Non-Euclidean Honeymoons

i’ve been involved with open relationships for a long time.  And there a bunch of things which we have discovered, some are well chronicled and discussed (safe sex agreements jump to mind) and other aspects much less so. This post is about one of the less considered aspects of polyamory.

An intimate of mine is in a new honeymoon.  At the same time they have a crush on another person which feels uncomfortable to reveal their feelings about.  My intimate (who shall remain nameless for the moment) was thinking that if they could just tell the person that they were silently attracted to that they were feeling drawn to them, then this would reduce the pressure.

“Do you think they are also attracted to you?” i asked

“i think so”

“Then telling them will make it worse.” i replied

Not that i am usually an advocate of withholding expressions of attraction, but the idea that the pent up frustration around an attraction will dissipate once it has been expressed is demonstrably false, especially when the attraction is mutual.  What goes from being an uncomfortable, unexpressed emotion turns into a likely even more frustrating open possibility. And in this particular case, it might just lead to one of the more impossible polyamory geometries:  parallel honeymoons.

Open relationships depend on people being able to have honest communication and multiple parallel romantic experiences.  But honeymoons are different.  There is what the some poly writers call New Relationship Energy (NRE), common to not just poly relationships – that special feeling of excitement, possibility and lust you have at the start of a new romance.  It is time before you realize their feet stink.

Turns out you cant do honeymoons in parallel.  At least i have never seen anyone do it really successfully.  There are things you can do to make it seem easier: put the relationships on opposite sides of a large land mass, choose partners of dramatically different cultures or genders.  But as sophisticated as some of us poly people occasionally like to think we are, this is a trick that i just dont think can be pulled off.

What do you think?