Contest Winners!

The following people have won the contest, and now have ARCs of The Sol Majestic winging their way towards them:

  • Jason from Milwaukee;
  • Robert from Rochester;
  • Wendy from Marlborough;
  • Jess from Tulsa;
  • Alicorn from Oakland;
  • Sophie from Berlin.

If you didn’t win the ARCs, well, remember, you’re still up for getting the signed bookplate, the super-secret drink recipe, and the super-super-secret regular recipe. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, it’s never too late to pre-order The Sol Majestic and get in on the swag train.

The Sweetest Review Of The Sol Majestic

I promise that after my contest ends, I will not breathe another word about my book until 2019. But yesterday, my sweetie Fox wrote the most gorgeous review of my upcoming book The Sol Majestic on Facebook, and I wanted to commit it to my blog before it hit the endless Zuckerbergs and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

(For despite their attempts to revive old posts, Facebook is where history goes to die.)

So anyway. They wrote this. I thought it was proof I checked all the boxes in writing The Sol Majestic.


So, it should be no surprise to anyone around here that I’m a little biased when it comes to Ferrett.

Back in 2016, when we were dealing with the Visa Clusterfuck, we had to leave the US at no notice and with no guarantee that we’d be able to return. Ferrett sent me an early draft of this book – nominally to beta-read, but also that I might take something of him with me. He’d read sections to me before, and we’d talked concepts that were coming up in the process of writing it, but I got to read the whole thing in that fledgling version.

It was amazing. Even with my aforementioned bias, I could tell that.

Before long I’d decided that I was going to pace myself through it, because otherwise I would have devoured it all in one long session despite my difficulties reading through the BrainFog. Instead, I savoured it a chapter or three at a time.

It sparked conversations with almost everyone I saw during that time about food and identity, about the culinary landscapes we think of as home and the concept of “home” itself, about the cultural factors and biases that see some culinary traditions elevated to the level of ‘cuisine’ and others humbled despite their histories and complexities, about what it is to feel the echoes of one’s ethnic heritage across the span of distance, about philosophy and morality and mortality and the ephemerality of experience and more.

It made me laugh aloud, and it made me cry, and it made me think. It made me actually physically shiver, made me stop to just hug my phone to my chest as I read on it, and it made Daniel and Anne ask time and again what I was reacting so audibly to this time. It made me send texts across the planet like “AAAAAAAAAAAH YOU JUST HAD TO DO THAT DIDN’T YOU OF COURSE YOU HAD TO FUCKING HELL FERRETT” until Autocomplete on my phone knew that those last three words went together – but only if I started the phrase in all-caps.

It was a dégustation menu and a comfort food all at once.

I am so very glad that it found its home with a publisher – with Tor, no less – and that it’s getting released to the world.

I can’t wait to read it in its final form, now honed and edited and polished, and I will champion it to anyone I can.

Read this book, my friends.

Plus, if you pre-order it there are fabulous perks (including special drink recipes) – and a 5% chance to win an ARC if you pre-order by Thursday at midnight EST (GMT -5) and email Ferrett to tell him.

Do the thing!


Anyway. In writing The Sol Majestic, I was very inspired by my friend Sarah’s concept of “The sacred book” – those books that distinctly aren’t for everybody, but those who get the book clasp it close to their heart because it expresses a part of them. It’s not just a book, it’s something that expands and elucidates a part of their personality.

So knowing the Majestic hit at least one person the way I wanted – and someone I love – helps me feel like I already accomplished what I set out to do, even if the book bombs.

Anyway. If you pre-order the book before midnight tonight (it’s Thursday) and email me your address, I’ll enter you into a raffle to (hopefully) get an ARC of the book in time for Christmas. (Click for more details, obviously.) And then I’ll announce who won, and I promise I’ll shut up about this damn thing for a week or two.

Message ends.

Why “Just Google It” Is Now A Synonym For “Indoctrinate Someone”

This week, famed African-American author Alice Walker recommended a book of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. She wrote about her love for these theories in the New York Times, of all places.

Now, you’d think that if someone could recognize white supremacy in all its aspects, it would be the woman who wrote THE COLOR PURPLE. Unfortunately, she seems to have inhaled a lot of the theories from the repeatedly-debunked-but-unable-to-die Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

But where is Alice Walker getting her news from these days? Well, according to her own blog:

For a more in depth study I recommend starting with YouTube. Simply follow the trail of ‘The Talmud’ as its poison belatedly winds its way Into our collective consciousness.”

That’s right; she’s confirming her antisemitic bias by watching YouTube videos.

She’s not alone, of course. If Fox is where old people get brainwashed into believing crazy right-wing ideas, YouTube is where most of the young right-wing kids get indoctrinated these days – and there are more of those kids than you think. Because these videos are fun, they’re great to watch, and in a vacuum they’re pretty convincing.

And they come from goddamned everywhere. Me? I watch a lot of videogame YouTube videos. And even though I’m a pretty overt liberal who’s free with the “dislike” button, about one in every twenty gaming videos YouTube suggests for my enjoyment is a rant against SJW influences in gaming.

Same with Star Wars – about one in every ten videos it suggests is a rant on The Last Jedi, which if you watch it is actually a distilled right-wing argument using TLJ as an example of everything that’s wrong in society.

And that’s just, you know, watching regular videos. If I wanted to look up something on, say, Jewish culture or Black history, it wouldn’t take more than a couple of videos before YouTube started showing me videos that were designed to show the “other side” of these topics – which is to say, videos “debunking” the idea of the Holocaust or Black Lives Matter.

Which is a weird thing. My thirteen-year-old niece at one point confidently informed me that fluoridation was a plot to poison people. Where the hell did she pick up that 1950s piece of tripe?

You guessed it: YouTube.

And this isn’t technological alarmism; YouTube is still an insanely great resource for information. (As someone who does home repair, watching videos of people changing out electrical outlets is super-helpful.) But at this point, just throwing someone at YouTube without giving them a little context means they could be suckered into watching a ton of right-wing propaganda without warning.

Which means we gotta adjust our thinking.

There was a time when if you didn’t feel like educating someone about discrimination or the real causes of the Civil War (hint: it is actually slavery), you’d tell ’em, “Just Google it.”

Unfortunately, these days “Just Google it” has been hijacked by a bunch of smart, motivated people who are doing their damndest to ensure that Google hands out links with slanted arguments and outright lies. Google’s merely an algorithm; if a million people say “President Trump is an idiot,” then Googling “idiot” will display Trump.

But if a million people say “Jews created the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…”

(Hint: They didn’t. Those protocols are made up. If you believe otherwise, you’re an idiot.)

And I don’t want to tell you what your new strategy is. I get that minorities of all shapes get exhausted by having to be everyone’s teacher, and that repeatedly explaining yourself to a bunch of uneducated jamooks can be leveraged as a conscious way of wearing you down. I’m not saying that you have to be a walking Wikipedia for everyone who’s too lazy to look shit up.

But I am saying that “looking shit up” has been poisoned by right-wing activists. And Google is designed to encourage bad information spirals – which is harmless if you’re looking up home improvement videos, but once you’re curious about a few right-wing theories, it’ll keep suggesting deeper theories for you until you’re thoroughly Red-pilled.

Google can be the new Fox news.

And like I said: You’re not obligated to be anyone’s teaching experience. But at least be aware that malicious actors are now quite eager to be someone’s teaching experience for the exact same subjects you’re sending them off to Google to look up.

The Internet is changing. It used to be that the Internet was for porn; now SESTA/FOSTA has altered that landscape, and Tumblr is demonstrating the price. It used to be that the Internet was a good place to direct people to for mostly unbiased information; that, too, has changed.

Be aware of the changes. Contemplate your needs. And keep in mind that the opposition is every bit as technologically clever as we are, they’re every bit as charming as we are, they’re equally as funny as we are if the joke’s not on us, and alter your strategies as they have altered theirs.

Message ends.

(ACTUALLY, AN EDIT: It’s interesting how some people are saying “It’s just an algorithm, it only chooses what people like,” while sailing by the point I’m making here – namely, that any algorithm is gameable as long as you can pass it the right inputs. And the right wing has been working overtime to create videos and web pages that slide under Google’s radar to push their message into otherwise innocuous content. And no, that’s not a unique-to-the-right thing – as has been pointed out, try looking for information on vaccines – but they’ve generally leveraged their pull much, much better on YouTube than leftists have.

(No two people see the same Google, it’s true. But my niece didn’t start out looking for fluoridation conspiracy videos; at some point, Google decided, “Hey, these conspiracy videos are what a teenager like her should see,” and pushed her in that direction. That push is people gaming the algorithms to deliver their message to people who may not know better. And that’s the point.)

Win An Advance Copy Of My Novel THE SOL MAJESTIC Six Months Before It Comes Out! (And Maybe Get It In Time For Christmas!)

You know what’s exciting? Getting your first box of physical Advance Review Copies.  These are the sampler books the publisher prints and sends out to bookstores and libraries everywhere to generate buzz. 

ARCs of the Sol Majestic!
ARCs of the Sol Majestic!

And I thought, “You know what people might like to get in time for Christmas? A super-rare present of my book, so they can read all about this time-travelling space cuisine six months before anyone else gets to.”

Then I thought: Why not? 

So here’s the deal: loyal readers already know that if you pre-order the Sol Majestic, you’ll get a bunch of cool bonuses: a signed bookplate, a special drink recipe, an extra-secret recipe recipe. 

But from now until Thursday at midnight, if you pre-order The Sol Majestic, I’ll make a special raffle: one out of every twenty people who’ve pre-ordered it will get a physical copy sent to them on Friday!  Which means that if you live in America, USPS willing, you’ll get it in time for Christmas!

(Sorry, foreign friends. I’ll still send you a copy if you win, but it’ll go slow. )

And I’ll make sure your odds are good – if more people pre-order this book, I’ll just send out more books.  Your odds will always be, at most, one in twenty.  Sound good?  

So here’s what you have to do, reiterated:

* Pre-order the book at AmazonBarnes and NobleLoganberry Books, or any other indie store of your choosing (hint: each of these links will bring you directly to my book at these fine establishments);
* Email theferrett@theferrett.com with the subject header “I Have Pre-Ordered The Sol Majestic,” and give me your address. (I’ll trust you that you’ve preordered. Authors largely run on kindness.)
* Wait impatiently until Friday to see if you win.  
* But even if you don’t, you’ll still get free signed bookplates and the drink recipe, yadda yadda.

And just to remind you, here’s what one of my favorite authors Seanan McGuire had to say about The Sol Majestic:

THE SOL MAJESTIC by @ferretthimself is not a love letter: it’s a love asterisk, a love starburst, radiating out in so many contradictory directions that it shouldn’t possibly work, and yet somehow, gloriously, does.

It is a feast of a book, with an ingredient list and flavor profile that seems strange, until you sink your teeth into it and realize that it’s what you’ve been hungering for all along, lamb and honey, vanilla ice cream and blackcurrant jam, cinnamon and chicken and rosemary.

And trust me.  Having read a couple of ARCs, the joys of getting to Have An Opinion on a book months before anyone else gets to read it leads to an amazing amount of smugness.  You become a Book Hipster, going, “Oh, you read The Sol Majestic when it came out in bookstores?  Well.” 

So if you have pre-ordered already, well, you’re automatically in. 
But if you want to win a physical copy to get in on this action soon, then please!  Pre-order before Thursday at midnight, send me the obligatory email with your address so I don’t have to chase you, and on Friday we’ll send these eager little puppies out to you. 

I can’t wait. But you might not have to. 

The 2018 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 you know, if you at least looked at the first item on the  list as a personal favor to me, well, that’d be a nice Christmas all round.)  

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. And this year has no books on it because Gini finally hauled me to the library and showed me how easy it was to electronically check out books from Cuyahoga’s system, so I’m full up on reading.  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 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.

BUY THE SOL MAJESTIC, MY NEW NOVEL.  Please.  ($16.99 or less.)
So if you haven’t noticed, my time-travelling, gay-romancing, space station food porn book is coming out next June, and it is a) a remarkably difficult book to market, and b) kiiiinda critical to my career.  

It’s so critical, in fact, that to goad advance sales I’m breaking out all the stops to entice you to preorder it – a signed bookplate, a secret drink recipe from my favorite bar,  an even secreter recipe themed on the book.  (Details on how to order it, and what you get, are here.)  

So if you want to get me the best kind of present, order one for yourself.  It’s only $16.99, or less electronically, and as I’ve said – if you like the me that gets presented in these blog posts, The Sol Majestic is probably the most authentic translation of that me into fiction I’ve ever done. 

Plus, you know, lots of food porn.  Lush as I can make it.  Promise.

Pencils And A Pencil Holder.  ($Trivial)
“Ferrett, this list is ordered by the desire,” you say. “This means your #2 gift on Christmas, the thing you’re most likely to receive…. is pencils.”

Fucking yes.

Now that I have started woodworking, and my friends join me in the wood shop, we need to make marks on wood. A lot.  And here’s the most common phrase spoken in our wood shop: 

“Where’d I put that pencil?”

If I had a dime for every time we’ve said that, I could buy a much better workshop. 

Because we have two pencils.  We keep misplacing them.  I bought a box of pencils one day and they were too big for the auto-sharpener. And even if I bought a bunch more pencils, I’d still not have an official place to put them, and so we’ll keep losing pencils. 

What I want is: 

  • A bunch of #2 pencils
  • In bright day-glo colors so we can’t miss them lying on brown, gray, and surfaces
  • And a big-ass, gaudy pencil holder that is, frankly, embarrassing but sort of me, if you get what I’m saying

Is it cheap?  You bet. Do I risk being besieged in pencils?  You bet – check with Gini.  But will I have enough pencils in the wood shop when I am done?

No.

No, I will not.  

Bluetooth Headphones That Won’t Fall Out Of My Ears. ($???)
When I am in the workshop, I’ll often want to listen to podcasts. (Before you ask: Futility Closet, Limited Resources, Writing Excuses, Planet Money.  There; those are the best four podcasts out there, to my mind.)  And having wired headphones risks the wire falling into the blade, so I have to go wireless.

The problem is, those earbuds that work for everyone else? 

They just fall out of my head.

I don’t know what’s up with my ear canals, but they seem custom-designed to push ear buds out of them.  So I need some form of bluetooth headphone that will not force me to remove my dapper hat or protective goggles but also has some form of ear-shieldy-staply-sticky thing so I’m not continually grabbing for my damn earbuds again.  

What would that look like?  I have no idea.  Surprise me.  

The Beatles White Album Deluxe 6-CD Edition ($129.99) (Electronic)
When I was thirteen, my friend Bryan discovered the Beatles.  And I wanted to listen to the Beatles, but he wouldn’t let me.

“I’ve been listening to the White Album,” he said.  “It’s pretty advanced.  I don’t think you’d get it.”  

Motherfucker, it’s thirty years later, and I still got it.  

Seriously, though, the Beatles’ White Album is the Beatles at the pinnacle of their career as far as I’m concerned – unsettling and beautiful, experimental without going too far (well, Revolution #9, but I’ll forgive that), and gorgeous.

To celebrate the Beatles, they made a six-CD collection with a significant amount of alternate takes and remixes – and what I want to hear is the paths the Beatles didn’t take, to analyze why they chose this version of “Glass Onion” over the other.  I want that.

Now.  The problem is that I actually want this in iTunes, because I don’t listen to CDs any more.  In a pinch I can scan it on my computer and sync it, but that’s an extra step that skips the cloud – and I don’t know how you gift an iTunes box.  

So gift an iTunes to me?  Somehow?  Specifically, this album if you can?  Thank you.  

(Incidentally, I’m feeling a bit guilty because this year’s Greed List involves a lot more work on everyone’s part – usually I just hand you a list and say “This make and model,” and it’s done.  These involve followups – emailing me after pre-ordering the Sol Majestic, finding pencils, researching earphones – but people said they like surprising me.  So this is your year, people.)  

Colibri V-Cut Cigar Cutter ($31.20)
I smoke a cigar about once every three weeks, but it is often the best part of those three weeks.  Because the cigar is where I take my purest me-time – I go into my woodshop with a glass of chocolate milk in my hand (because chocolate milk and cigars go great together), start sawing lumber and occasionally puffing and drinking, and just exult in my body doing bodily things. 

But I suck at cutting cigars.

If you don’t know, to smoke a cigar you have to cut a notch into the end so you can draw smoke through it. 

And I always cut it wrong.

I always cut too much, so there’s too much smoke, or more likely I compress the tobacco so smoking it is like drinking a thick milkshake through a straw.  And I’ve tried a bunch of cutters, and nothing worked quite well except for this spring-loaded sucker lent to me at a convention. 

Help me with my me-time.

Doctor Who: Peter Davison, Season 1 ($55.99)
Peter Davison is my Doctor: the flawed one.  People don’t always listen to him, his gambits sometimes fail, and he seems genuinely distressed – not enraged, distressed – by evil.    

And above all, he fails.  Which means that the tension is always present: after Adric died, can the Doctor really save the day? 

As someone who’s intensely fallible at times, that resonates more for me than Tom Baker’s thundrous jokester God personality never did.  (Though honestly, if you wanted to buy me his first season too, it’s only $65.99.) 

And now Season 1 is available on DVD, meaning I can rewatch them in higher-resolution and also repurpose some DVDs in my basement.  Which is awesome.  

Night Of The Living Dead: Criterion Edition ($27.99)
My friend Bart recently asked, “What are the top three influential horror films of all time?”  And I said it was Dawn of the Dead, but realistically, you can trace the entirety of the modern zombie movie back to this dark little microbudget Pittsburgh number.  

It’s got a black man in the lead in a 1967 film.  It’s got gore and unhappy demises for likeable characters.  It’s got a hardcore lesson that the dead are truly dead.  

And the Criterion edition, as usual, makes it brilliant.  Criterion is the king of DVD extras, exhuming classic movies and finding the best behind-the-scenes stuff.  I’d love to see this, because the only NotL I actually have is a dreadful off-brand anniversary edition with a hammers-on-synth pasteded on soundtrack and new edits that ruin it.  

Ugly Hawaiian Shirts and Silly Socks
Seriously, you can’t go wrong buying me ridiculously ugly shirts or providing me with more nerdy socks for the sock god.  I wear XXL for Hawaiian shirts (which tend to shrink), and my socks I wear in, uh, sock sizes.  

Are there sock sizes?  Sure.  I guess.  

Dominican Cigars ($???) 
As I said, I smoke cigars occasionally, and I am in the “beer and bourbon” phase of my development – I don’t know what I really like yet, so I’m just walking around trying things with cool labels.  It’s a good way to learn.

But it does mean that I’ve come to realize I prefer Dominican cigars widely, which is about the same range as “I like stouts” – it narrows it down, just, y’know, not a whole lot.  

The best cigar store in town is Robusto and Briar – it’s manned by competent people who are also kind (I used to shop at Cigar Cigars until they mocked my choice of a Macanudo), and if you wanted to toss them some business that would be great.

Porter Cable Dovetail Jig ($225)
I’m gonna say that I was reluctant to put this on the list, because I’m not sure I’m worthy yet.  This is the holy grail of woodworking for me – it’s when we’ve begun working with hardwood exclusively, which we haven’t yet, and start assembling frames with not crude carpentry nails or biscuit quick-fixes, but genuine artistry.  

For the price, I don’t think we’d use this much.  But we do, what we’d create with it would be glorious fitted joints that would make for gorgeous furniture. 

I don’t think I’m worthy yet, which is why it’s at the bottom of the list.  But if by some reason someone got this for me, I might one day become worthy of it, which is a beautiful gift in and of itself. 

(But seriously.  Pre-order The Sol Majestic first.)  

Why Would A Monogamous Person Date A Polyamorous Person?

“Too many mono-poly relationships crumble because the monogamous partner never bothers to explore the potential advantages of polyamory,” I said in my essay “Dear Monogamous People Dating Polyamorous People: Don’t Go Camping.” And someone asked:

“Could you say more about the potential advantages for a monogamous person dating a polyamorous person? That is precisely what I’m trying to explore right now, and at risk of sounding selfish, it’s been difficult to find the tangible benefits for me, the essentially-monogamous partner.”

I absolutely can. But first, lemme give you four caveats – which, yes, is a lot. Then again, poly is a lot.

The Main Benefit Of You Dating A Polyamorous Person Is Getting To Have The Polyamorous Person In Your Life Romantically.
I mean, that’s absolutely the prime benefit – getting to keep this polyamorous person around. If you want this person in your life and in your bed, you have to accept their sleeping with other people. If you’re monogamous, that can be a tough row to hoe.

So make sure that investment is worth the payoff. If that person makes you insecure all the time, or mistreats you, or is just someone you’re staying with because it’s better than being alone, then maaaaaybe it’s time to think about leaving.

Ideally, that person should bring you joy, caring, and baskets of hot snuggles. And you forget that at your peril – the main benefit is, and will always be, them, so either treasure their presence or ponder whether it’s worth the trouble.

Don’t Think Hostage Situations Are Polyamory.
I have a friend who, whenever she’s had one too many glasses of wine, confesses “I tried polyamory, but it didn’t work.”

Unfortunately, her “polyamory” was her partner coming in and bellowing, “I GET TO FUCK OTHER PEOPLE WHENEVER I WANT OR I’M LEAVING.” Which is not “polyamory” so much as “a hostage situation.” If you got no say in whether your previously-monogamous partner has turned polyamorous, that’s generally a bad sign – because the sort of person who lays down laws and doesn’t give a fuck about how you feel generally will not provide you with a good relationship in any sort of environment.

Now, that’s different from a partner who explains their new-found need and tries to meet you halfway. (I’ll get to that in a second.) And it’s entirely different from someone who was polyamorous when you found them and you thought you could monogamize them – you took yourself hostage there, son.

But the sort of person who lays down a law, telling you how it’s going to be from now on? That’s probably not good. Contemplate leaving.

Don’t Think Comfort Is The Same As Contentment.
If you think “being comfortable” is a tangible benefit in your relationship, polyamory probably won’t bring you much.

Because opening up your relationship opens up all the emotions – all the jealousies, all the simmering conflicts, all the assumptions get flung into the air and recomposed. And just when you think you’ve stabilized, there’s some new breakup or some new relationship and the deck gets shuffled again.

If you do it right, those changes can lead to steady progress – my wife and girlfriend can mark the increasing stability of each relationship I’ve had over the last ten years, and can also mark how those relationships have made me more sensitive to their needs. But it’s not always comfortable. You can go months where everything’s on course, but with more people to deal with, more upheavals will happen.

That said, unsatisfying relationships often prioritize stability over genuine enjoyment – “We’ve been together for seven years, I know her, even if I don’t like her much I’ve learned to work around her.” That “comfort” in substandard relationships often turns out to be the sort of slow rot that undermines a marriage until one day everything tumbles apart without any external help – so one of the benefits that polyamory brings is forcing you to reexamine your fundamentals.

If polyamory is done right – and not just the “I get to fuck anyone anywhere any time” that’s foisted upon people in hostage situations – it ensures that you have to communicate properly. That ensures you don’t take much for granted. And that can encourage a long-term stability that’s hard to beat.

A Lot Of The Benefits Of Actively Investing In Polyamory Are Preventative.
In my “Don’t Go Camping” essay, I said that monogamous partners should try to find the advantages in polyamory, and not just shove everything poly-flavored into a box they never look at. I’ve seen too many relationships that are “Your boyfriend will be at that party, I’m not going there” and “I don’t care about her scheduling, she’s not my problem.”

And you should learn to meet your partner’s partners and get at least a little invested in how and why they come to date them – but mostly, the benefits there are making the polyamory easy on you.

Because if you never sit down for a drink with your partner’s sweetie, chances are good that you’ll either see them as some untouchably beautiful sex-siren who you can’t compete with, or some horrid hag who is nothing but a tick on the ass of humanity. The truth’s in the middle. Learning to garner some level of comfort of the ins and outs of how your partner practices polyamory – and, more importantly, who they choose to do it with – will often not only help reduce your jealousy, but it’ll cushion the inevitable bumps that happen when conflicts arise. You won’t be passively carried down a stream helplessly, you’ll be taking some hand in your combined futures.

You’ll see your partner’s other partners as human beings – and believe me, that helps.

But that’s only a “benefit” in the same way that an aspirin is a benefit when you have a headache – you’d rather just not have the headache, amiright? So let’s look at some of the actual benefits:

Sex Is Not The Exclusive Thing That Defines You As A Couple.
So what does?

If you focus entirely on the lament of “I’m only having sex with them,” then you miss the opportunity to define your relationship with your partner in other, more positive, ways. I mean, people have sex all the time, but how many of them share your obsessive need to stat-point the perfect Fantasy Football team? Or those singular in-jokes where one of you says “They’re making headlines!” and you both collapse into giggles as everyone else stares in puzzlement? Or those little rituals of asking your partner to “Pay the toll” when you accidentally block their path in the hallway, forcing them to kiss you before you proceed?

You have to be careful with those moments, because sometimes they’re too generic to claim as yours – and it’s usually unhealthy to do a land grab, clasping every thing you’ve ever done together as your exclusive. But if you do it organically, you eventually come to realize that you two geek out over the latest “Serial” episode in a way that your partner literally can’t with anyone else, and that intellectual curiosity is what bonds you.

That can be oddly freeing. Because almost anyone can bump uglies. What you’ve done is to define your own relationship’s exclusivity in terms of something that sprung naturally from how you interacted together, and if you choose it right it’s almost impossible for someone else to seriously impinge upon that bond.

I mean, it’s my go-to example, but I met my wife in a Star Wars chat room. We have twenty years of attending Star Wars premieres together, having serious discussions on Death Star trench run strategies, getting Star Wars tattoos. I can discuss Star Wars with other people – and do – but I know one of the reasons we’re together is because we not only like Star Wars, we like it for the same reasons.

My wife will not run off on me with a younger, more knowledgeable, Star Wars nerd. This is who we are. It’s a lot more stable, in many ways, than pure sexuality.

You Get To Learn What Your Partner’s Really Like.
I wrote the other day about how my wife is a slightly different person with everyone she’s ever dated. I like nerd stuff and hate the outdoors – so when she’s with me, she focuses on Star Wars. (LIGHT SIDERS 4 LYFE, BABY.) But her ex-husband hated nerd stuff and loved skiing, so back then she went skiing.

If you watch your poly partner instead of slapping your hands over your eyes whenever they leave your sight, you can get a fuller sense of who they are. Which, in turn, can surprise you in good ways – hey, you didn’t know they wanted someone to hold them when they were sick.

Quite often, you’ll find things you didn’t know they wanted that you can also provide.

Now, you have to be careful – smart readers have already noted the tension between “this nonsexual thing defines us as a couple” and “I will do this nonsexual thing with my partner.” You can step on toes that way, which is why I said it’s best not to try to wrangle something into being a just-you-and-me ritual unless it’s seriously meaningful. But often, what you’ll find by observing in the wild is something as trivial as “My partner likes it when his other partner holds his hand in public.” And if you can do that, you can give them tiny gifts that strengthen your relationship.

You Can Build Stronger Outside Relationships.
A lot of bad forms of monogamy involve shaving everything down to the lowest common denominator – you’re not allowed to have friends who might encroach upon the Sacred Monogamous Couple, and so too many monogamous couples become a self-contained unit. They don’t have buddies they go out with, they just spend time with themselves.

And what will happen in bad mono-poly relationships is that the poly person goes out, dancing and drinking and dalliancing, and the monogamous partner stays at home and soaks in self-pity, patently waiting for the butterfly of their beau to come alight upon them once more.

The good news is, when your partner’s dating, one of the best cures to get over jealousy is to go out with other friends! Or find new things to do with new people! Make all those coffee dates with the people you’ve been meaning to catch up with! Take up that bedazzling kit you wanted! Find a platonic pal to square-dance with!

Your partner may not be around as much as you’d like them. But you can use that time to create a stronger background so you’re not as reliant on your partner for your happiness, which is a total win throughout.

(And if your so-called polyamorous partner, for some reason, feels jealous that you’re not doing the Rapunzel bit for them, then see the first rule: Hey, is the reward of having this person around worth the trouble?)

You Can Get Other Perspectives.
This is advanced poly, but if you get to be good enough acquaintances with your partner’s other partners, you can sometimes huddle for groupthink when they’re in trouble. If Daniella’s depressed and you’re not sure who to turn to, the answer is sometimes “the other people they’re deeply involved with.”

Now, it’s generally unwise to ask them about an argument you’re having, unless you’re a) really good friends with them, and b) have a relationship-spanning understanding that they’re only going to agree with you if they think you’re correct. But you often can suss out difficulties by quietly asking, “Hey, Daniella’s seemed a little slow to initiate intimacy lately – is that something you’ve seen?” And sometimes what you wind up being is a mutual support group, which is absolutely the ideal.

Your Partner May Be A Different Person With Someone Else, And That’s Okay

My wife largely busies herself around the house in her hobbies; she quilts. She gardens. She watches a little TV, drinks some wine.

She does not ski. She does not go hiking. She does not go camping.

Which is weird, because she used to do a lot of that.

When she was married to her ex-husband, she spent pretty much all her free time out in the wilderness, doing these great expeditions. She tells grand stories of stumbling across bear spoor, of almost drowning in canoes, grand adventures that seem pretty pale compared to who she is today.

The reason she was that person, of course, was because her husband was an inveterate outdoorsman, a relentless athlete who got anxious when he couldn’t run. And she loved going outdoors, and his enthusiasm kindled hers, and when you have an eager partner who loves doing what you do, well, then you do it.

We don’t go skiing because I’m not into it. There have been no fights about this; we tried it a couple of times, I fell over a lot, and she didn’t want to go alone even though I was perfectly okay with her doing so.

She just… cruised to a stop.

Yet her ex would probably be shocked to see her going out to cocktail bars as much as we do, savoring exotic foods, because he wasn’t nearly the foodie that I was and she loves that too. We geek out on Star Wars, Steven Universe, and The Good Place in ways that he never would have understood. And our annual Oscar trip to see all the Best Picture nominees was Gini’s idea, but her ex wouldn’t have been into it.

She’s got fundamental portions of her personality that don’t change, of course. But if I died, and she found a partner who loved dancing – something neither her ex nor I were into – I suspect she’d become an avid dancer.

And that’s not just her. My Mom used to watch a lot of reality television because my stepdad liked Ice Road Truckers; since he passed on, now she doesn’t. If I dated someone who loved Magic: the Gathering – which my wife does not – I’d probably become someone who went on the PTQ circuit and made weekend trips to Grand Prixs in other states.

We’re all mutable. And it’s not anything we’re suppressing; it’s that some partners bring out aspects of our lives that are just more fun when we have someone to share them with. I suppose my Mom could watch Ice Road Truckers alone, but what fun would that be without my stepdad there to provide ascerbic commentary?

Which frequently weirds people out when they dip their toe into polyamory.

In a lot of cases, your partner will date someone who is unlike you – which is a good sign! They’ve got all the you they want! Why would they want more you when they’re full up?

But it does mean that sometimes, you’re watching your partner become someone you didn’t know they *could* be. Maybe they’re a lot snarkier because you don’t like sarcasm but this new partner loves zingers. Maybe their long-buried love of videogames rises up now that they have someone to Twitch-stream with. Maybe they’re getting new experiences in bed that you didn’t display an interest in; maybe they’re drug-friendlier.

That can be terrifying, especially if you’ve known them for years and you thought you had them down. But you didn’t.

You just knew who they were when they were with you.

And sometimes, those changes are the sign of impending trouble or a partner lost in New Relationship Energy – if they’re kinder to your new partner than they ever were to you, or more attentive, then that’s probably something that needs to be dealt with. You don’t want to tolerate someone treating you as less worthy of respect.

Yet mostly, it’s often just kind of a weird shock, watching a different dynamic at play. They see different bands than you do. They develop their own secret shorthands of language. And that can feel alienating at times.

The trick is not to panic, though. If they’re still the same person they are with you, and the changes your partner is having don’t permeate your relationship, that’s probably just another facet of their personality revolving into glintspace. Part of stable polyamorous relationships is understanding that yeah, maybe they’ll get more kink from their new partner, but what do they get from you?

You don’t necessarily have to compete by trying to be the kinkiest, or to drag yourself out dancing every night, or otherwise entering into a competition that you’re likely to lose anyway. You just have to focus on what you bring to the table. Because it’s easy to forget that they do the hard kinky shit with the other partner, but it’s you they go back home to express their cuddlier, gentler side – and that is also valuable.

And sometimes, you discover things you can press yourself a little on. If you see how jazzed they get by having someone to play board games with, maybe pushing yourself to haul out the Kill Doctor Lucky set from the closet once in a while isn’t a bad thing for your relationship.

Point is, allowing your partner to have healthy relationship with other people – friends or lovers or family – will often allow other portions of their personalities to flourish. It’s okay. You also nurture parts of who they are, and as long as the things you’re encouraging are positive parts of them, then there’s no need to ensure you’re being EVERYTHING for them that EVERYONE could provide all the time.

You’re special. Trust in that. Even when you feel bad that you suck – I mean, really suck – at skiing.