Why Should You Pay Attention To Your Partner’s Other Lovers?

I try to keep up with who my lovers are dating, and how things are going with them and their metamours.

That effort can be exhausting.

Because let’s be honest: I can be an insecure cuss sometimes, and watching my partners float off on a cloud of happy New Relationship Energy with their new lover can trigger anxiety spasms. And when they have relationships that are slowly crashing and burning, being there to talk over their issues with them – doing the inevitable “Am I the asshole?” checks – can take up valuable us-time. Plus, to be honest, it’s kinda weird overseeing breakups that aren’t even mine.

And at times like those, I think about that old saying: “As long as they come back home safe, what they do when they’re out is none of my business!”

That saying is a school of thought in polyamory, a thought which says you shouldn’t have to pay attention to your partner’s other partners – that there’s a firewall in between “What you do when you’re with your lover” and “What your lover does when they’re out with their lovers.” All that matters is the interactions between the two of you, and you can safely ignore the rest.

Problem is, I don’t think that “safely” part is entirely true. Not in long-term relationships, anyway.

Because in the short-term, sure, you and your partner are unlikely to fall out of step. Maybe you’ll pick up a new kink or two over the next three months, but you’ll mostly be the same people.

Over years, though?

I claim that I’ve been married to the same woman for two decades, but that is blatantly not true. The wife I married was monogamous; we evolved into polyamory. The wife I married was secretive; she’s blossomed into being more open. The wife I married was pagan; she’s since drifted back to the Church.

Heck, the wife I married thought The Simpsons was a little too edgy at times; thanks to my influence, she now regularly quotes The League of Gentlemen, the blackest Cthulhu-meets-soap-opera comedy ever.

I’m not the same person, either. Hardly anyone is, over that amount of time. (Heck, the man she married chewed his nails ragged, wore no hat, and only wore black jeans and a black T-shirt because he didn’t care about his wardrobe; now I am emblazoned in Hawaiian shirts and pretty pretty princess nails.) We pick up new preferences, discard old ones, learn new lessons, discard old habits.

And one of the most frequent causes of breakups in the long term is people drifting apart.

One of the reasons I think my marriage has lasted all this time is that my wife and I are constantly checking in with each other, seeing who we are right now and adjusting to be in love with that person.

And the most valuable portions of that work come from poking our noses into things we’re not all that interested in. My wife listens to me blather about videogame design, I listen to her squee about quilting. We sit down and pay attention when the other one is griping – or cheering – about their job, even though we’re both in highly technical fields and only understand about half of what the other is talking about.

With that easy flow of communications, it’s easy to pick up on the smaller changes coming around. I knew my wife was unhappy about her old job long before she finally moved on – but more importantly, I understood why the job she’d trained for had become a career that didn’t suit her, I understood what sorts of ambitions fulfilled her and which ones just made her feel deflated, I understood how she valued income vs the emotional expenditure of work.

She got a new job, sure. But when we both came down with heart problems and needed to get more exercise, I’d learned that my wife was big on personal outside affirmations – she didn’t get that warm glow of accomplishment until a stranger (not me) told her “Attaboy!”

So I hired a personal trainer, because I knew that person would give her the encouragement to keep her going. And that, in turn, led to my wife and I bonding over our physical health journey; now we’re gym rats. (Pudgy gym rats, admittedly, but our cores are strong.)

Listening to the little things helped me clue me into the big things.

And I think, over the long run, walling off your partner’s experiences with their other partners can lead to situations where you get sideswiped – because particularly in polyamory, other relationships bring out different aspects of you. You learn new lessons – oh, I really like it when people talk to me that way, I want that style of intimacy.

Walling off that experience means you potentially miss out on the ways your partner is evolving. And evolution? Can happen rapidly in the world of polyamory, particularly when you’re just starting out. Which leads to a danger where one day you’ve said, “Sure, go out and do whatever” and a year later the person they’ve become while you’ve been averting your eyes is someone who doesn’t have much in common with you any more.

(Particularly if they’re not super-proactive at bringing the lessons they learned home to you – but that’s an essay for another day.)

Now, I’m not saying y’all need a blow-by-blow recap of every moment on a date – that could drive the insecure crazy. Nor am I saying that if your partner dates fifteen different people a week that you need to get personally involved with someone who’ll be gone from your life in two months, tops. Nor am I saying that you should get dragged into playing peacemaker when you don’t want to. This certainly isn’t one of those prescriptive essays where I boom out, “IF YOU DO THIS, YOU ARE WRONG AND MUST BE BANISHED TO POLY FAKER HELL FOREVER.”

But I am saying that sometimes – perhaps often – people in poly relationships are so terrified of feeling insecure (or are so disinterested in others) that they inadvertently put themselves into a situation where they distance themselves from their partners. And that short-term fix can have long-term consequences.

Because the person you’re dating today will probably not be the exact same person a year from now. They’ll almost certainly be a significantly different person five years from now. And if you want to be with that person, knowing what they’re evolving into is a significant advantage.

And a lot of that work gets done in the small moments. Just asking, “So how are things going with Jamie?” can open up lines of communication that benefit you in ways that are both subtle and profoundly nourishing.

Even if, you know, sometimes it takes a bit of effort.

Literally All Of My Published Books Are On Sale This Week!

What you are witnessing is the equivalent of a solar eclipse; thanks to a weird conflux of events, all five of my published books are on sale! Which means that the most you need to pay for any of my works is $3.52 in American dollars.

I mean, it’s not like you’re going out, and a book is cheap entertainment – ah, but what kind of entertainment can my books provide? Lemme shoot you some links:

The ‘Mancer Series
FlexThe FluxFix

The ‘Mancer series is a kinder Breaking Bad with magic drugs, wherein a father sets out to sell a distilled thaumaturgy to help save his badly-burned daughter.

But that magic system, though…

See, in the ‘mancer-verse, anything you obsess about sufficiently can wear a hole through the laws of physics. You’re a crazy cat lady? Eventually your devotion will lead you to unlock the powers of felimancy! But you won’t want to conquer the world – no, all you’ll care about will be your collection of kitties.

As such, Paul Tsabo isn’t just any magician – he’s a bureaucromancer, able to unlock the powers of paperwork. And when he runs into chaotic Valentine DiGriz, mayhem master of videogamemancy, to learn how to brew the mystical drug called “Flex,” things get out of hand quickly.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you haven’t read the series for a while, or just never finished the trilogy, you might want to brush up – there’s gonna be a very special birthday celebration for a special little girl soon, and you’ll want to be caught up on events.

The Sol Majestic
Kenna, the forlorn Prince of a forgotten religion, is starving – starving for food, starving for hope, starving of knowledge. Yet when his paths cross with the most magical restaurant in all the stars, the owner takes pity on him and takes him on a Willy Wonka-style adventure through the delights of the pleasures of the flesh.

This one is a weird little book, and hard to market – think Kitchen Confidential in space, or perhaps Iron Chef meets Space Opera. But it’s been on sale all this month, and shockingly, the GoodReads reviews for this little book have ticked up, which never happens – basically, this book has been the buried treasure of my career, where people read it, then pass it around with whispered exhortations to their friends.

You might wanna get in on this magic, because when the world is full of despair and economic collapse, The Sol Majestic is about pure hope in the face of ruin. Plus, a major plot point revolves around a lack of toilet paper, so it’s timely!

The Uploaded
Everyone talks about the Singularity, where everyone uploads their brains into computers and lives forever in a digital afterlife.

But what happens after that?

The Uploaded is about what happens centuries after that cultural shock has hit and transformed the landscape, and physical living has become outmoded. And one boy, Amichai, leads a bold quest to get his sister killed so she can be freed from her fleshly torment…

Automatic Reload
At AmazonAt Barnes and NobleAt Independent Bookstores

SPOILER WARNING: This one’s not on sale because it’s not published yet, but it is coming out in May and needs your preorder loving! In this dire publishing industry, afflicted by the coronavirus, every preorder really helps literally keep both publishers, authors, and bookstores alive – and me in particular for this one.

So can I sell you on the story of a cyberpunk James Bond, a super-programmer who’s fine-tuned his prosthetic armaments to perfection? Except he’s breaking down from PTSD because he’s determined his automated guns will never shoot an innocent. And he’s terrified of connection, because he doesn’t trust anyone.

But then he gets involved with a black-ops mission where the goal is to kidnap a genetically-engineered assassin and bring her to the facility where she’ll be brainwashed for good. He refuses, taking her on the run – and kickstarting a very strange and beautiful firefight romance…

If you can spare the bucks to preorder this, this would not only be a goodness, but it’s the only way to get an invite to Aliyah’s sixteenth birthday party.

What? Did I say too much?

Probably. Shutting down.

What If Your Partner’s Partner Is Trying To Break You Apart?

So you’ve opened up your relationship! You and your spouse are now officially Dating Other People. And you have only one fear:

What if your spouse’s new partner isn’t really polyamorous?

That happens, you know – there are people who are only tolerating your polyamory because it’s the only way they can get at their crush. And once they start quote-unquote “dating” your spouse, their whole goal becomes “Start trash-talking you and causing rifts between you and her until the inevitable divorce” – and then they can swoop in and scoop up your newly-single ex into a happily monogamous relationship.

Nobody really likes talking about it, but yeah. There are partners who basically exist only to be a disruption. And maybe they won’t be successful in getting you to break up, but it is pretty miserable, knowing your lover’s out there dating someone who a) totally disrespects you, and b) is waging a campaign to make you look like as much of an asshole as possible.

But the funny thing is how newly-polyamorous couples often face this threat: They vet the outside partner as much as possible.

Which is to say, they do a lot of screening and interviewing and vetoing, convinced that if they just interrogate their potential lovers’ lovers enough, they can firewall off these cowbird threats. And if they still don’t feel comfortable after all that, they drop a ton of rules to ensure that no outside threat can get out of control – no overnight sleepovers, strict monitoring of physical affections, restrictions on where you can go for dates.

I got sad news for you, my friend: The real threat is coming from inside the house.

Which is to say that yeah, it’s certainly good to do a little vetting before you first start dating, and I’m never going to say “no” to the idea that you should get to know your partner’s partners. (I myself run strictly on the “share a drink” rule – if I can’t feel comfortable alone at a bar with my sweetie’s sweetie, shooting the shit for twenty minutes or so, then it’s probably not a good relationship.)

Yet you know, the idea that you can map out the shape of a relationship with a stranger is kind of ludicrous, when you think about it. Most people can’t figure out where their romantic relationships are going to end up, let alone triangulating the entirety of a potential threat from some unknown stranger with your spouse. You can spend weeks, months, years scrutinizing someone and still get it wrong – particularly when the someone in question has every reason to put on a pleasant face until they can get to the real business of dating, and hence separating, your spouse and yourself.

But you know what the best asshole barrier in the world is?

Your spouse not being attracted to assholes.

Because yes, there certainly are relationships where one partner is dating someone who’s constantly griping about their other partner… But in most healthy relationships, a spouse wouldn’t feel good about spending time with someone who’s trash-talking someone who they theoretically love. A loving relationship might tolerate a grumble or two, but come the third time that evening where their date is going, “And you know what else your wife does that bothers me?”, they’re gonna say, “Thanks for playing, but… no.”

It’s kind of like a grift: You can’t con an innocent man, and you can’t lure away someone who wasn’t looking to be lured.

In truth, what happens in a fair amount of those “My spouse was lured away by another partner!”s is that you had some serious flaws in your relationship already, and your partner was secretly looking to leave, and someone else capitalized on those flaws. (As I’ve mentioned before, for no apparent reason I’ve ever been able to fathom, “Let’s go poly!” is all too often the Hail Mary of decaying relationships everywhere.) Sometimes those flaws are not at all apparent to you, and sometimes they’re as unfair as “I’m just not attracted to you any more.”

But if your relationship is truly crumbling, ruthlessly interrogating all the terrorists who might slip into your office building will do you no good if that skyscraper is already teetering in the breeze.

Which is why I suggest, gently, that if you’re worried about someone stealing your partner away from you, focus on the relationship you and your partner already have. Figure out ways to strengthen it. Is your sex life in the dumps? Break out the whipped cream. Are you afraid you’re drifting apart? Plan some activities you both enjoy, together. Emotionally distant? Get some intimacy back between you.

Don’t wall people out – add to your own foundations, bricklaying as much love as you can possibly have for each other, so when the New Relationship Energy bug comes along and your partner dates someone so new that this relationship seems effortless and pure, you’ll still have a partner who feels that blush of a strong and enduring love with you.

What keeps you together is not combating the outside world – it’s nurturing your inside world, ensuring that what bonds you is not a lack of opportunities, but rather an abundance of joy.

Which isn’t to say it’s gonna be easy. New poly’s always like lurching out onto a ship on a high sea, filled with occasional nausea-inducing drops and sudden rearrangements of your existing plans. It’s always gonna be a little scary.

But you don’t keep your ship afloat by machine-gunning the clouds to keep the storms away. You do it by patching up your little boat until it’s the best darn home you can possibly imagine.

I wish you luck.

(Inspired by a conversation with a friend, who I asked permission from before writing this. Also, if you liked this entry, please ponder pre-ordering my upcoming book Automatic Reload, which is basically James Bond equipped with faster-than-human cybernetic weaponry.)

The Best Way To Get Me Out To Your Favorite Convention? Ask Me.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had some folks asking me: “Will you be attending my favorite convention this year?”

My answer is, inevitably, “Nobody’s asked me.”

So why do you have to ask?

I’m happy to attend conventions in 2020, simply because I’ve got my cyberpunk romance comedy book Automatic Reload to promote, so showing up at your favorite convention to say “HELLO I AM HERE I AM AN AUTHOR HOW ARE YOU?” is something I’m willing to do.

But as an author and occasional presenter on polyamorous topics, I have three reasons for attending a convention:

1) Someone Is Putting Me On Cool Panels.
If you just like me as an author and have a literary convention, ask them to invite me as a guest. Literary conventions can pay my way by putting me on panels – panels where I get to discuss my book, meet new authors, sign books for fans.

(In truth, I never make enough at literary conventions to pay the bills, but depending on where they’re located, it’s fun meeting new people/authors/fans.)

So if you have a con where there’s authors who talk about their books, get your convention to extend me an invite as an author, preferably with a list of panels they’d like me to be on. The further in advance you can do this, the better; my May is filling up now.

2) Someone Is Paying Me To Be There To Teach A Class.
This usually means that some kind convention has offered to pay my travel expenses and hotel costs so that I can do presentations and/or workshops for them. (Also see my post I Teach Classes! Ask Me How!)

(Note: These classes are not getting me rich; I usually pay more in food and expenses than I make.)

But! For a convention to be willing to pay to fly a Ferrett out to, say, Nevada or Florida or Norway, someone at that convention has to say, “You know who’d be a fantastic guest? Ferrett.” (And, in fact, usually that has to be several people wanting me to present.)

If nobody on the convention board has heard of me, they won’t pay for my travel expenses. Which is fair; I’m still debating how much of a public presence I’m going to be going forward.

But on the other hand, if you’ve liked my poly essays and feel like I might be a good fit to teach your event, my class notes are readily available to give you an idea of what I might talk about.

3) This Convention Seems Like A Fun Time.
If I think a convention might be fun, I’ll spend my own cash to go there! I do it all the time – I always hit up ConFusion in January in Detroit, and I’ll be attending the NASFIC convention in Columbus this summer.

But these conventions are expensive in two ways! If it’s money, I have to pay for travel and hotels. And if it’s mental energy, I am a socially anxious introvert who panics at the thought of meeting people.

So telling me, “Come to a convention where you know nobody to meet a bunch of strangers”? Not a real draw.

If your convention is literary, tell me of the fantastic discussions you have! What new authors might I meet? What panels might I be on? And if it’s a kink convention, what’s happening there that might tempt me to spend $400 of my own cash to drop a weekend there?

And, of course, who are you? Obviously, you’re asking me there – telling me who’s there that might be fun to hang out with is a part of the experience.

But again, I pretty much need to be sold on the concept. The answer to “Are you attending this convention you’ve never heard of?” is a flat “No.” Thanks to my anxieties, I will never show up to a convention cold just for fun – that’s more like torture. I gotta plan my conventions like a mental heist, where I circumvent all my usual social anxieties to have fun, and that requires planning.

That Final Note: Ask.
I am, at best, a reluctant public figure these days – but I do have books I’d like to discuss in front of strangers, and I do like the good of discussing what I consider to be healthy polyamorous strategies with people. I’d like to meet you.

But it all starts with that ask. I’m available at theferrett@theferrett.com – hit me up (or, preferably, have your convention hit me up) if you’re interested in having me somewhere.

And that is that.

My Cyberpunk Romance Got A Starred Review From Publishers’ Weekly!

In case you were wondering what my upcoming book Automatic Reload was like, Publishers’ Weekly had some really nice things to say:

A cyborg mercenary works to protect a genetically enhanced woman from a powerful corporation in this consistently surprising, hyperkinetic action adventure from Steinmetz (The Sol Majestic). ….

Steinmetz expertly fuses cyberpunk staples and romantic comedy elements to deliver an over-the-top, action-packed tale while also addressing mental illness and body issues. In tackling Silvia’s panic disorder and Mat’s PTSD, as well as their respective feelings of dysphoria, Steinmetz imbues this rip-roaring tale with a surprising amount of sensitivity and heart. This thoroughly satisfying story works as both thriller and romance.


Which is really nice, as this is my second starred review from Publishers’ Weekly in a row. I don’t know if starred reviews translate to sales, but good reviews always make me happy.

If you’d like to get an advance copy of Automatic Reload before it publishes in May, there’s two ways for you to get it before the release date:

  • If you’re a book reviewer, email me at theferrett@theferrett.com and let me know you’d like to read it. I’ll get a copy to you.
  • If you’re not a book review but can tolerate once-a-month emails, subscribing to my newsletter automatically enters you into a monthly drawing for a freebie. Plus, you get to hear what I’m up to!

And if you can do neither, remember, ordering a book in advance is literally the best thing you can do for any author. Advance sales mean more bookseller commitment, more publisher faith in the book, more happiness all around. So if you feel like committing your hard-earned bucks to my book, here’s how you can do it:


The 2019 Annual Greed List!

Every year, I publish my Christmas list for public consumption, jokingly calling it “The Greed List.” It’s not because I expect you to get anything for me. 

(Though the first two items are free gifts that may be useful to you as well, so maybe checking them out wouldn’t hazardous.)  

The reason I publish it, and hence commit these lists to the communal memory, is that I think “What you want” is a reflection of “Who you are” at this moment – your music, your hobbies, your fandoms, all help define who you are as a person.  I find it a fascinating history, watching how what I’ve desired has mutated – for example, the list used to be heavy on physical Things, which then changed slowly into digital objects as MP3s and iTunes became big, and now as I’m renting a lot of digital stuff nowadays I’m back to wanting Things again.

(And it allows me to chronicle strange bumps in my desires; for example, 2016’s list contained not one single book. Why? Was it because I stopped loving books?  No!  It’s because I just got off a book tour promoting my book Fix, and I was so overflowing with books that I needed to run down my pile. If you’re curious as to what I’m reading at the moment, well, my GoodReads automatically tracks most of it; feel free to follow me.)

(And also, well, I’ve directed my family to look at my blog for my Christmas and Birthday lists – and my Dad wants me to publish it, so here we are. I’m still on blogging hiatus, but I’d forgotten that I had this as a commitment.)

And while I guess I could just shove my Amazon Wishlist at you without context, why bother?  I want you to know who I am in this moment, and so I not only list what I want, but explain why I want it.

So.  Here’s what I’d like for this holiday season.

50 Amazon Reviews On The Sol Majestic. (Free!)
My book The Sol Majestic came out this year, to grand reviews and middling sales. It was always a hard-to-market beast; a gay foodie space opera? Oh, God, any one of those things would be a hard sell, let alone combined.

Still, those who got there largely took The Sol Majestic as what I’d intended; it’s not been a bestseller, but those who loved it found it to be somewhat of a sacred text.

Basically, those what loved The Sol Majestic really loved it, and those what didn’t skipped past.

But what irritates me about The Sol Majestic is Amazon’s review list. It’s rumored in the industry that 50 reviews is the magic number that lets a book be on promotions, on sales, in recommendations – and The Sol Majestic has been hovering at 48 reviews for, like, two months.

So if you’ve read The Sol Majestic and if you haven’t already left a review, then maybe leave a review on Amazon as a special Christmas present to me? And if you haven’t bought it, well, the great American indie bookstore Powells just listed it as one of their best science-fiction books of 2019. So maybe it’s not too late for any of us.

Dank Memes. (Free.)
As noted, I’ve shut down my social media accounts as of yesterday, and it’s already pretty lonely. I’m staying in touch with people (and feel free to email me) – but severing the ties from social media means that I am now bereft of Baby Yoda memes.

I have no idea how the Internet is having fun these days. So if you see a meme you think I’d laugh at, trust that I haven’t seen it – and maybe send it to me?

Buy My Next Book, AUTOMATIC RELOAD. ($16.99)
If you’re looking for romance and gunfire, for PTSD and automated cyborg combat, for human bravery in the face of computer-targeted guns that, for all intents and purposes, will never miss – well, my new book might be for you.

The Outer Worlds (Playstation 4, $59.99)
2018 may have been a nadir for the kinds of roleplaying games that I like; the big, sprawling story-heavy games had evaporated, and the game companies had put narrative-free “shooters as a service” in place, where people just ran around and shot things and nothing mattered.

I don’t do games without a motivation. It’s not enough to “git gud” at a game; I have to know why I’m slaughtering my way through a warehouse of colorful aliens.

Then, in 2019, the “shooters as a service” market collapsed. It turns out there’s only so many shooters you can play at a time for a couple of hours an evening, and when a newer game comes out it eats into the older games’ time, and several classic companies came out with rushed misfires (talkin’ to you, BioWare and Bethesda).

And then the best game of 2019 came out – Disco Elysium – which was a miracle of gaming, but I’ve already played it. But the second-best RPG, Outer Worlds, has gotten beautiful reviews for its story – and I saved it, because someone had to get me something for Christmas.

Untitled Goose Game (PC, $19.99)
Remember when I said I would lose fun things by being off the Internet?

Untitled Goose Game is the prime example of the good things I’ll miss by deactivating my Facebook and Twitter.

Untitled Goose Game is just that – a malicious goose goes around town, picking on the town’s inhabitants. It went viral on the net because people loved the idea of a game with a comparatively harmless goose being a dick, and the game provided the experience people wanted.

Unfortunately, it’s not available in physical form – if you want to get this to me, you’ll have to get me a gift certificate from Epic. Still. Worth it.

PlayStation 4 Pro ($325)
Okay, this is a weird one because it’s low. But that said:

The PlayStation Pro is basically a PlayStation 4, but with 4k hi-def graphics. And I want one because it would make my games very much prettier on our big-screen television, but it’s also not, strictly speaking, necessary; I just want the pretty games.

But I also have a light list this year, so I don’t know. Life is pretty good. We’re doing well. I have lots of books, and bourbon, and shirts; if my family wanted to pitch in on this to get me something, I’d be happy, but beyond that I don’t know.

(And in terms of truly stupid purchases I can’t justify, I want the PlayStation VR to play Beat Saber and yet the whole shebang is like $600, and who the heck wants to pay that for one game?)

(Don’t mention the fact that we essentially did that for Rock Band.)

So this is a very short list, and most of it is communication. That’s where I’m at this year, I guess; good financially, struggling for healthy connections.

And, you know, trying to sell books. 🙂

Another Blog Bites The Dust, Or: Why I’m Stepping Down From Social Media.

When I was twenty, I loved Howard Stern, so the essays I wrote for the college newspaper were ripoffs of his ridiculously self-revelatory radio show. If you went on the show, nothing was sacred – you’d reveal the embarrassing arguments you had with your wife, you’d discuss your weirdo quirks, you’d share your most humiliating secrets.

So that’s what I did: I wrote about myself.

And when I got my own website in 1997, I put some of those old essays up on my site, and got a mild following for That Guy Who Wrote The Wildly Personal Essays. Which continued into LiveJournal and FetLife, where I continued to expose my life for the education and entertainment and occasional punishment of crowds, until one day I hit fifty and I realized:

Why am I still living by Howard Stern rules?

Now, if I’d revealed ridiculously intimate details of my mental health and sex life and my relationships for thirty years and I felt people had a good bead on who I was, I’d probably consider that a win. But I don’t feel that they do.

At one point recently, someone reviewed a book of mine by saying something like “Ferrett sells a lot of books, seemingly because he’s a nice guy” – which is a thought I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

I can be a nice guy. I try to be. Every day I work hard to be better than the raging asshole I was in my early twenties.

Yet still: I’m intensely human, with three barriers to work with – I’m not the most socially adept person on the planet, I’m towing years of ciswhitedudely privilege that I keep unpacking one block at a time, and I have severe mental illnesses that get in the way.

All those buried assumptions mean that I can – and do – fuck up and hurt people I care about.

And on the occasions I’ve tried to write honestly about those fuckups – to say, “Hey, I was a total shithead here, please learn from my mistakes” – I almost always got misinterpreted, with well-intentioned defenders covering for me (with that old infected bandage of “You meant well”) or the folks who disliked me assuming I was trying to cover for me, because Ferrett is a nice guy and he means well and aren’t his words comforting? Maybe a little too comforting?

For years, I’ve felt like I’ve been slowly losing some remnant of my humanity – what I’d like to be seen is as a flawed human who has some pretty monumental errors to overcome, but instead what all-too-often gets passed around is “Ferrett is cool” – and while I do try to be cool to as many people as I can, with the number of people I interact with, I’m pretty much guaranteed to step on someone’s foot.

And I felt that the image I’m presenting was all too often being reduced to either “Ferrett’s a great guy” or “Ferrett is a monster pretending to be a great guy,” and neither is close to the human truth of “Ferrett has a decent batting average, but let’s not pretend he’s an all-star either.”

(And if that’s how you’ve interpreted me all along… thank you. Sincerely. Thank you.)

I’ve been working with my therapist on that for almost two years now, and increasingly feeling like a fraud. I’ve grown to dislike the public persona. I feel it’s a shallow and reductive idea of who I am. I don’t want some arbitrary image of me to become a marketing tool.

So why not stop?

On Monday, I’ll abandon my Twitter account, shut down Facebook and FetLife, and stop blogging (with one exception that I’ll discuss).

I’m really scared.

The Internet is where I make my friends. The Internet is where I find out about all those cool memes. The Internet is where I find the new and cool books, where I find out about the public crises of the day, where I find clever jokes.

But the social side of the Internet is where I also feel like I’m exuding a persona, and despite two years of trying to unentangle that persona, I haven’t gotten closer to a solution.

I don’t know what I’ll do with all that free time. I know how many hours a day I spend reflexively checking into Twitter, chatting with buddies. If you have a group chat of people who know me and could use a Ferrett, well, I’d like the company.

(Ironically, the place I feel most comfortable is Facebook, where I’m mostly with my friends, but Facebook is also totally fucking evil and I was planning on shutting it down come New Years’ Eve anyway, so that’s gone.)

If you and I have talked beforehand and you’d like to continue to talk afterwards, well, my email address is theferrett@theferrett.com, and if you have my number, well, you have my number. Maybe I’ll transition to secret Slack servers and be just as content.

But if I’m not, I’ll get by.

Another issue: the Internet is also where I’ve been meeting my partners – and I think that has to stop, too.

Because I met my wife online, I used to think that you could judge compatibility through texts and emails, and so when we went poly I was happy to have near-strangers down for a test weekend to see whether our smooching was compatible – and while the communications usually went well on both sides, occasionally they really, disastrously didn’t, so I stopped having people over. Then I started flirting at kink conventions, and again, that usually went well, but there were a couple of occasions where I inadvertently pressured people, so I stopped that.

And while I have a handful of fulfilling sexual relationships I have gleaned from meeting people on the Internets (and thank you if you’re one of them), the Internet courtship means there’s often not enough real-life time to work problems out, leading to relationships which go really well until we need to hash out complex problems that don’t do well with texted words or cold phone calls. (Also see: mental health issues, on either side of the equation.) That’s led to some relationships that turned out to be fairly traumatic, if not downright abusive, for me.

And that last paragraph reveals another problem with dating while being a public persona: It could describe several of my relatonships, and yet any of my exes who read that might think it was specifically targeted at them. Blogging about personal issues without revealing personal details has been a continual landmine as long as I’ve written about polyamory, and there comes a point where the public discussions wind up hurting people who think that’s aimed at them – even if it’s not.

If I’ve been flirting with you, please – continue to flirt. But I’m going to be far more cautious in moving forward (and it’s not like it was easy before).

And when writing, or teaching, about polyamory becomes an active hindrance to fulfilling personal relationships, well, sorry, I gotta choose. So rather than risking people feeling called out by an essay that might not have even been about them, that aspect of my life’s gotta die on the vine.

Note that I haven’t said I’ll be off the Internet forever. Because I’m still writing books. I’ve got my new book AUTOMATIC RELOAD due out sometime in May, and I’ll doubtlessly be writing essays to remind you of it and saying “Hi I’m here” because, well, that’s what authors gotta do.

And I may write a few personalish essays when I get back, because that’s what reminds you I’m alive come the Novel.

But my hope is that going dark for a few months will burn some of this need to perform out of me. It’s not you, as the saying goes, it’s me. It’s all too easy when I’m having a bad day to turn to the brightness of social media, to say “HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME” and get the attention that maybe’s not healthy.

The goal is for that to be gone, or at least to massively lessen the overlap between my personal and my public life. I may fail at that. (Also see: Human.) But I can at least give it a try.

If you’d like to stay in touch, the one place I will commit to writing once a month at it is in my personal newsletter. I’ll keep you informed there, so subscribe if you’d like the opportunity to see me nerding out about weird things.

And, as noted, if you already know me and feel like chatting privately or group chats, I’m amenable. I just don’t wanna be OMG FERRETT IS HERE, but rather “Hey! Good to see you.”

In any case, I’m leaving things up over the weekend so if anyone wants to know what happened, it’s out long enough to propagate.

And if I don’t catch you… have a great goddamned day.