Polyamory Classes I Wish Someone Else Would Teach

I asked folks what polyamory seminars they’d like me to teach – because I do teach seminars – and got a lot of good suggestions.

Mostly for classes I’m unqualified to teach.

I’m putting this list out here, because I think these are great topics that I’d like to see covered in-depth some day. If these topics are in your wheelhouse, please consider pitching this topic to your local conventions/training sources! And if you do teach them, feel free to leave comments (with dates/locations of your upcoming classes) to spread your wisdom around!

Raising Kids While You’re Polyamorous.
There was an excellent seminar on that at Beyond the Love a couple of years ago, but it was focused on raising kids in a poly commune. Never having raised kids while poly, I’d love to hear more tips and tricks about balancing privacy, childrens’ safety, and potential legal concerns.

Effective Polyamorous Communes.
I’ve seen a lot of poly groups move in together. Most of ’em fell apart shortly thereafter. I’d love to see a discussion of best practices on how to handle finances, romances, etc in a close-contact environment. Bonus if you’re not an extrovert and can tell us introverts how to survive.

Polyamorous Legal Concerns.
Wills and living arrangements and marriages, wow! I’m totally not a lawyer, but this would be a fascinating topic for a professional who’s specialized in these topics.  (I suspect this would only be useful on a state level, but hey.)

Scheduling.
You’d think I’d be good at scheduling, with my many partners, but the truth is that they’re good enough at scheduling to cover for my manifest weaknesses. I’d love to see someone(s) discuss how to schedule time effectively, how to handle conflict in events, how to reserve enough time for each partner who needs it (including you), etc.

Forging Better Bonds With Metamours.
Some of the most stressful situations in poly involve your partner’s partners – and all too often they’re seen as either your BEST FRIENDS EVER or alien beasts you beam communications through a third party to. I’d love to see a class from someone with a long history of effectively communicating with people on the other side of their lovers.

Now, if any of those classes seem like something you could cohere a 50-minute talk on, I’ll note that The Geeky Kink Event is taking applications for November, and though Beyond The Love’s presentation window has just closed, they do have lunchtime pop-up seminars and maybe you might wanna talk to them.

And if you have any questions on teaching, ask me! It’s both simpler and more complex than you think. But not enough qualified people do it.

Three Trusts To Survive Your Partner Going On Their First Date With Someone Else.

One of the worst moments in polyamory is the first date.

Not yours.

Theirs.

Your first poly date is usually this exciting squiggle of “Where is this going?” and flirtatious arm-touches and effervescent ZOMG I LIKE THEM and maybe even some hot smooching. And it’s great, ‘cuz it’s you.

But their first poly date, where you’re the one at home cooling your heels while you’re imagining their flirtatious arm-touches and trying not to break down in jealousy?

That can be a long night.

And I get asked, “How do you cope when your partner starts dating?” And the answer is threefold:

I Trust They’d Tell Me If Things Were Bad.
Sometimes I worry that they’re dating because I’m fucking up in some way. Then I remember how honest they’ve been with me. They’ve told me about any issues between us as soon as they figured out what it was.

I trust my partners to come to me when something is going wrong.

So I trust that if there was a problem, I’d know.

A lot of the jealousies swirling around new poly tend to be, “Is there something wrong with me? Is this a prelude to a breakup?” And honestly, if you’re going for the “Hail Mary” of “We’re not getting along but maybe fucking other people will bring us closer together,” it might well be.

But if this has been a studied expansion, where you’ve talked about dating other people and are now exploring it, hopefully you trust that your partner would tell you if they were seeking other lovers because you were failing them. But they’re not. Healthy polyamory’s not an attempt to replace a broken system, but to expand it to include others.

They’re not dating me because I’m failing them, but because we believe a) that having other emotionally-fulfilling relationships is good, and b) those relationships can include sex. (And often, c) we’re both a little slutty.)

It shouldn’t be a threat if my partner has good friends they talk to. Their desire to see a movie with someone else isn’t a refutal of who we are.

This is just an extension of that logic. And nothing has to be wrong with me, or us, for them to desire someone else.

(I mean, I desire other people and it doesn’t lessen my affection for my existing partners. But that’s easy to remember when I’m in the driver’s seat.)

I Trust In My Own Uniqueness.
The media frames a lot of sex as a competition – whoever’s got the bigger dick wins. And if your partner’s girlfriend is hotter than you are, girl, she will steal your man.

That’s not necessarily true, though.

An odd fact about polyamory is that your partners are often drawn to people totally unlike you. That’s often a source of friction – you’re organized and reliable, why are they dating this sloppy hedonist?

The answer is, dating you provides all the you they need. They’re stocked up on “neat” and “reliable” simply because you’re doing a great job! Now they’re unconsciously seeking people who have other traits they find desirable.

And if you’re not careful, you dismiss your own talents and focus on the things you don’t have. Oh, she’s really good at talking dirty, I can’t do that. She loves that country music I can’t stand. She’s a better cook.

When you do that, you forget the things your lover might say about you if they were forced, somehow, to evaluate you as a direct comparison. They’re a way better cuddler. They know how to make me feel better after a hard day at work. They love the movies I do.

You gotta trust in your own uniqueness. This isn’t a zero-sum game where the person who ticks off the most marks on the checklist walks away with the prize. Yes, your partner’s new lover may be a better kisser, but trust that your sexual skills have something to be desired even if you can’t see it right now.

Trust that there’s also reasons to want you.

I Trust That Some Relationships Need To Be Over.
This is the tough one. Because yeah, sometimes when people fling themselves into polyamory, they do find someone more suitable and they do leave the old partners behind and they don’t communicate their problems until it’s too late to do anything about them.

I trust it’s better to know that we’re not meant for each other.

And you’ll see plenty of couples tapdancing around some fundamental incompatibility – he wants kids/she doesn’t, she wants deep emotional relationships/he doesn’t, he wants to get married/he doesn’t – and rather than look squarely at the irreconcilable difference and walk away, they instead push it off for years, grinding agony the whole time.

And in the end, they often give in to something they never wanted to happen, or they break up after years of intimacy.

That’s a lot harder than acknowledging it early and breaking it off while it’s still nascent.

So I take the attitude with relationships that I do with medical tests: No, I don’t want this, but if I have some terminal condition, it’s better to know right away.

Maybe my lover will discover that they’re polyamorous and I’m not. That’s not great, but it’s good for us both to know who we are – and if that’s not compatible, let’s examine it.

I don’t want to lose anyone, but if there are problems in this relationship, let’s highlight what they are and see whether we can fix it. Or not.

And it’s a weirdly calm trust, because this is the one that brings me back to reality: Yes, I love her. But are we really as good for each other as we think we are? Maybe I’m putting this relationship on a pedestal.

And then the old prayer: It’ll work if it’s meant to be.

And honestly, it mostly has worked out. Dating mature partners who discuss things generally turns out to be stable. They can see other people and come back to me and be just as excited – sometimes more so, because I’m actually enabling them to have wonderful relationships and so they come to associate me as “That person I love who wants me to have so much beauty in my life.” And they date other people, as I do, but in the end the thing I have to offer is “I’m that person who really, demonstrably, wants the best for them.”

That’s a helluva strength to bring to the table.

It can be okay.

You just gotta trust.

I Failed “Standing”: Adventures In Personal Training

So for my birthday, I got myself an expensive gift I didn’t want:

A personal trainer.

I don’t want a personal trainer because I hate exercise and I hate going someplace else to exercise and I hate paying money to have strangers judge my body.  But I also recognize that my fitness has never been great, and perhaps I don’t know how to push myself properly (which is a real concern when you have both heart problems and a proven inability to recognize fatal pain), and so I signed up for a couple of months with a personal trainer as an experiment.  Just to see whether it would make a difference.

And this trainer seemed nice.  She told me she was not the ooh-rah trainer who says you’re not done until you’re barfing. She was a physical therapist who’d dealt with heart patients before, and could make long-term changes conducive to my benefit.

So as I went to the trainer yesterday, I was nervous.  I’m not a weightlifter.  Would she have me doing laps around the gym?  Would it be the medicine ball?  Would I be completely useless after the session, my every muscle quivering?

As it turned out, my job was to stand there while they critiqued.

I failed at standing.

“See how his hip is turned out?” she asked her fellow trainer, who was called in for a consultation.  “All his weight is on his left foot.”

“Dangerous to let a man like that exercise,” the other trainer agreed, and I was shuttled off to a massage room where she jammed the inside of my hip, telling me to relax as she rammed stiff fingers dangerously close to my crotch, reminding me to breathe.

“You’re very shielded,” she said, wrenching me aside.  “I can’t get this muscle to release.”  And then, five minutes later: “That’ll do.”

She didn’t get it to release, but apparently she’d given up on me.

Then she had me breathe.

I failed breathing.

Apparently, there’s a way you breathe from your diaphragm in a way that makes your crotch tighten, and if that sounds sexy I assure you it was not.  All my breath was in, apparently, my chest.  It’s supposed to be in my diaphragm, which is to say my belly, and I did that wrong.  She had me on my knees, palm on my stomach, urging me to do something with my belly button to bring it against my spine, and eventually she sighed and called out, “We’re putting him on his back.  He can’t do the APT.”

Even on my back, I didn’t breathe properly.  She said, encouragingly, that I’d learn, but it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’ve just failed standing and breathing. I’m not sure what else there is to fail, but I’m sure I’ll find out.

So I have a sheet of exercises.  When I head towards the bathroom, I am instructed to take a moment in the hall to twist my leg and loosen the hip, or to stand with my back against the wall and press out.  My hip aches from where she pressed hard enough to bruise it.

I thought personal training would be gruelling – and to be fair, I was sweaty and tired at the end of it.  And I’m sure it’ll ramp up over time.

I just thought it would be more “You’re too weak to lift this weight” and less “You’re too incompetent to breathe,” you know?

 

 

What’d I Miss?

So I have been absent from blogging for a very long time.  But I have good reasons!

Work has been chewing up large portions of my energy.  
The project I’ve been working on for about two years finally got pushed out the door, which has led to a fascinating complication:

My bugs actually matter.

I’ve gotten used to the comparatively sedate pace of Massive Development, where I had deadlines but they were months down the road and if I had bugs, well, it was just test data.  And after a lovely long vacation I’m launched back into bugs actually costing people money, or inconveniencing customers, and that turns out to be a significant stressor.

So work’s gotten more tense, and that’s almost entirely due to my own overdeveloped sense of responsibility – because my bosses are understanding that bugs will shake out when a hugely complex project rolls live, thankfully.  I am the one who’s like “ZOMG MUST FIX NOW.”

It’s not bad, it’s just a situation I have to reacclimate myself to.  Or get myself into another lovely theoretical project.

I’ve been frantically writing books. 
One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was from Seanan McGuire, who warned me that if I was at successful at this novel-writing thing that I’d be forever bouncing between projects, so I’d best get used to writing novels in snippets.

Sure enough, I had the editorial letter for Savor Station, so I was doing final(ish) edits on that, then I returned to my polyamory-in-Narnia novel (if you think you’re jealous of your girlfriend’s boyfriend now, imagine when you find out he’s Prince Caspian) just long enough to finish off Act I, and then I snapped back to writing my maintenance cyberpunk novel where yes there are voluntary amputees charging into combat with hyperfast prosthetic armaments but really the battle was won in the workshop two days ago when you fine-tuned your IFF routines to be better than your opponent.

All that switching headspaces is surprisingly exhausting.  Which means that when it’s time to blog….

I’m doing low-key blogging on other platforms.
I’ve been experimenting with doing more Twitter threads,  which are a lot like short essays here except every line is potentially Retweetable.  They’ve been popular and get me more fans – FOLLOW ME AT @FERRETTHIMSELF, he said – but I’m not ultimately sure I like it.  Twitter threads are easier to write in a way, and the social media environment rewards them disproportionately, but if one hits big then my mentions are chewed to pieces and I can’t interact with people I actually like.

I’m debating what to do on that one.

And then I’m tossing off the occasional essay on FetLife, merely because Fet provides more context.  I’m usually riffing off the topic of the day there (as their Kinky and Popular page, which shows the most-read essays on Fet, ensures regular swirls of debate on various issues), and FetLife’s easier to write for because there’s a certain base layer of “Hey, we’re all kinky here, so we agree on these tenets.”

Writing for the open Internet is a bit harder, because I have to stranger-proof my writings, whether here or on Twitter – something I write could be easily taken out of context and draw a lot of heat, so I have to continually explain myself to strangers.  Whereas writing on kink or consent on Fet is a bit like Harry Potter fanfic – you don’t have to explain to the audience what Hogwarts is, you don’t have to infodump the magic system, let’s go.

So the blog’s been a bit dusty.

But hi!  I have a book coming out in September (which is getting good advance reviews, if scarce ones) on rebellious teenagers fighting against immortal digitized politicians who’ve forgotten what it’s like to be alive.  (Because seriously, if we perfect brain-uploading technology so no one ever dies, that’s gonna fuck up our politics something fierce.) And my first book Flex is on sale for a dollar this week, so it’s an easy in if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to read me.

And much is happening in my life! My Dad is visiting this weekend!  My wife and I have hired a personal trainer!  I fixed stuff around my own house, and other peoples’ houses!  But I just haven’t had the spare cycles to write about any of that so I’m watching Twin Peaks and drinking bourbon.

If you want a more livestream version of me, I’m at Twitter or Fet. And if history shows anything, I’ll probably be back here more often.  But hallooooo!  I’m a me. It’s good to see a you.

I Know You Love Me Today.

Dear Lover:

Sometimes, you’ll see me flinch when you say “I love you.” It’s not a bad thing. I’m startled.

I forget you love me a lot.

And the sad thing is, it’s nothing you did. I’m a depressive. That’s my disease. No matter how much adoration has flowed between us, no matter what grand gestures you make to prove your affection to me, I forget. I’m like an emotional amnesiac, my good feelings forever being erased to leave me with shadows of doubt and terror. Sometimes I read old texts of yours to try to remember what it felt like being loved, and all I come away with is cruel reinterpretations of how those kind words didn’t really mean what I thought they did.

I don’t want this. I merely survive with it.

And I know my inability to remember consistently costs me. My past is strewn with exes who exhausted themselves through increasingly grander gestures, convinced that if they kissed me the right way then all this depression would vanish like dew in the summer sun. And when it didn’t, they decided I was being stubborn, and left.

You haven’t. Not yet.

Don’t think I’m not grateful. Don’t think my endless, shivering fear that today you’ve stopped loving me means that I don’t love you – why would I be afraid of you going unless you meant something to me?

And don’t think I’m not trying. Like I said, I reread your old texts, I recall your warm embraces, I recount all the lovely things you’ve done for me, all in an imperfect attempt to transform cold memories into some flickering ember of love to warm myself by. I will flinch sometimes, and be shocked, and yes, sometimes be the pain in the ass who asks “You love me, right?” at the worst times – but I am trying, oh so trying, to retain what emotional memories I can.

Then there are the days when you ask the right question at the right time. A simple text: “Do you know I love you today?”

That “today” makes all the difference.

That “today” lets me know that I might forget tomorrow, and you’ll be here to remind me.

That “today” tells me you understand my illness in all the ways I need you to.

And yes. Yes, I know today. I know today, and it is wonderful because for a brief moment I can feel that love flowing between us like a river, and maybe I’ll forget the warmth of water tomorrow but for right now I know it yes I know it.

I love you.

That’s something I never forget.

Today Is My Birthday, And Here’s How You Can Help Me Celebrate!

Today is the most important day of the year – it is MY BIRTHDAY!  I was the first grandchild in my family for six years, and I was born on July 3rd, so it took me a while to figure out that the fireworks and the big beach celebration weren’t meant for me.

(I was generous. I magnanimously shared My Fireworks with everyone.  AS I STILL DO.)

Today I shall be celebrating by heading down to Amish country and eat cheese, which is a thing that old people do to celebrate. But if you would like to wish me joy on this occasion, here’s a few things you can do:

1) Call Your Senator To Preserve Health Care!
Looks like Trumpcare is about to pass – while Donald Trump has been making headlines with stupid Twitter-fights, Mitch McConnell has quietly submitted his revised bill to the CBO, indicating that he probably has the votes.  And yes, it’s exhausting and demoralizing because even if we get the Senators to halt this bill, they’ll come back with another bill…

So your birthday gift to me can be rising, grumpy and irritated, from your couch to pick up the phone and call one more time.  (To those of you going, “But my Senators are Democratic!”, call them and say, “GO BALLS TO THE WALL TO STOP THIS FUCKING THING.”)

I’ve written a still-mostly-relevant how-to guide as to how neurotic people like myself can call their Senator, so it’s as easy as possible.  Wanna make a weasel happy?  Act politically.

2) Preorder My Upcoming Book, THE UPLOADED!
People frequently ask me, “Where’s the best place to buy your book so you benefit the most from it?”  And as for all authors, the question is not “Where” but “When.”  As I’ve discussed before, ordering in advance of the release date is the single best thing you can do for an author’s career.

(Unless you’re an editor. Then buying their book and promoting the fuck out of it is the best thing you can do.  But most of you aren’t editors.)

Anyway, The Uploaded is coming out in September, and I’m nervous about its reception because – like every book – it’s hard to get traction when the world is actually falling apart.  So if you were planning on buying it, you can make me happier on my birthday by buying it today! And if you’re not sure whether you wanted to buy a book about what happens five hundred years after humanity perfected immortality, well, Barnes and Noble has the first two chapters available for your perusal.

(And yes, I’ll be doing a book tour of some kind, though there will probably be different cities. I’m gonna try hard to hit Ann Arbor, and Washington DC, and maybe Atlanta and Colorado, as well as other locations people have been bugging me about to go to. Feel free to contact me if you have a local bookstore you think would be amenable to hosting.)

Anyway, The Uploaded is ready for preorder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and every good bookshop you can name.  If you’re up for it, geddit.

3) Treat Yo Self. 
If you’ve done those first two, well, do something nice for yourself. Go watch the fireworks, if you have them in your country.  My birthday’s awesome, and you’re awesome, so make yourself feel awesome.

Love to you.  Happy birthday to me.  Peace out.

Reviewers! Download THE UPLOADED! The Rest Of You! Preview It! If You Like!

So if you’re a reviewer and you’ve been thirsting to get my tale of genetically engineered superponies and immortal brain-gods who have made life positively unfashionable, well, The Uploaded is available for download at everyone’s favorite advanced reader review site NetGalley. Get out there and give it however many stars you think it deserves.

If you’re not a reviewer and you’re like, “Say, I want in on this pseudo-cyberpunk family drama!” then let us not forget that Barnes and Noble has two sample chapters available for you, so you can see what happens when your mother and father die and get uploaded into immortal perfection while you’re stuck on this filthy rotting Earth.

And if you like it, well, it’s coming out in September. Feel free to preorder it.  It’s at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and every reputable bookshop. If your local bookdealer of choice doesn’t carry it, explain to them that reputability is critical to their business, and there’s but one way to achieve that, and that is indeed ensuring they carry my book.  Funny, that.  But hey, I didn’t make these rules.

Vicariously Disabled.

I doubt he even remembers enraging me. But I almost screamed at him.

I’m still not sure whether it was his fault.

But let’s rewind. I have a friend who has pretty severe walking issues – he gets only so many steps in a day before he collapses. Most days he can get to nightfall without needing a walker – and he works hard, very hard, not to be seen as a burden.

More so, he struggles to be seen as a person. If you’ve never friended someone with a disability, you don’t quite understand how a visible handicap can eclipse someone’s personality. People tend to assume that everyone in a wheelchair acts the same – they talk a little louder, a little slower, they’re quicker to dismiss their opinions because really, do they know what they want?

Disabled people struggle to be seen. And my friend, well, he worked really hard to be more than his disability –

– which meant he pushed himself hard at conventions. Lots of covert sweating, casually leaning on bars, sitting down when they could. Because if he displayed weakness, the conversation would shift from all the happy things that made his life worthwhile and would focus on “Are you all right?” – which is a question he asks himself entirely too damn much as it is.

He wanted the con to be a vacation and not an explanation. Which was why his disability was, largely, not quite a secret among friends but something where the extent wasn’t entirely revealed unless you were in the know.

And my friend had held up well during the day but was starting to fade in the evening. He was looking for, well, let’s call him The Guy Ultimately I Wanted To Yell At, or Tguiwtya.

He was looking for Tguiwtya. Because he was good friends with Tguiwtya, and and wanted a few moments to hang with Tguiwtya to hang out before he collapsed. And my friend texted Tguiwtya to say “Hey, I’m on my way,” and Tguiwtya had said “I’m in the back of the ballroom.”

Tguiwtya was not in the back of the ballroom.

I ran into my friend, looking exhausted, who asked me if I’d seen Tguiwtya. I knew he’d walked all the way down from their room to meet Tguiwtya, exhausting the very last of his daily steps, and getting back up to the room would be an effort. I said I hadn’t.

He plopped into a chair, sweaty, miserable, waiting for Tguiwtya to show. I kept him company, brought him water. But Tguiwtya wasn’t responding to texts. And eventually, my friend said, “Well, let’s see if I can find him,” and staggered off, leaning heavily on his cane.

I wondered if he was going to make it.

I left. And lo, a couple of hallways down, there was Tguiwtya! Merrily laughing with a bunch of his friends. I collared him.

“Hey. Our friend’s walking the halls looking for you.”

He looked puzzled, as if unsure why I’d bring such a trivial thing to his attention. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s fine.”

I almost screamed.

What I wanted to yell was, “Do you fucking realize how much effort it takes for my friend to find you? You said your dumb ass would be at the back of the ballroom, and they exerted themselves to get to you because they like you, and now they’re straining themselves to find you again, and your answer should not be some pudding-faced ‘that’s fine’ but ‘Yes, sir, I will get right on that.'”

Then I saw Tguiwtya’s friends, crooking their necks at me.

Did I want to make a scene?

Was it worth looking like a fucking maniac in front of all these people, just to make a point about someone’s condition? Because they didn’t know. They couldn’t understand unless I literally barged into their conversation, twisted it, made it about this, and….

Oh.

Shit, that’s gotta be what it’s like all the time, isn’t it?

Let’s be honest: Tguiwtya should have fucking known how much effort it took my friend to walk all the way down to meet him. I know for a fact that my buddy had talked to Tguiwtya about his illness. He was one of the inner circle, one of the folks who’d pushed a walker for my friend.

But how many times do you want to call some able-bodied person out for not comprehending something that they cannot experience? For Tguiwtya, “walking to the ballroom and back” was such a trivial effort that I doubt he even contemplated it as an effort.

Would I be damaging Tguiwtya’s friendship with my friend by explaining what an accidental asshole they were being?

That was, I realized, a brief window into being disabled. People don’t see your illness, even when you make it clear to them. They can’t comprehend that this background static of their lives could be a deafening uproar to anyone else.

And you always get to choose: make an embarrassing fuss and maybe get accommodated, maybe get rejected – or keep the peace and keep a friendship that means less but at least you get to keep it?

To this day, I’m still not sure if I should have yelled at him. Maybe I should. But he wasn’t my friend, and even if he was, I’m not sure I wanted to dress him down in front of a crowd of people.

What I do know is that I doubt Tguiwtya even ponders that moment. If he does, he thinks of me as the asshole who gave him a vicious side-eye when he didn’t break off his amusing anecdote to rush to meet our friend in the ballroom.

But I remember.

I learned something that day.

I hope I learned to listen.

“Polyamory Doesn’t Have Limits.”

I was told the other day how true polyamory didn’t have rules. You just got to fuck whoever you wanted, and nobody could stop you or it wasn’t polyamory.

Okay.

Let’s break that down.

Because people forget rules weren’t inflicted on people wholesale by malicious bureaucrats. Rules are like pearls, which are beautiful to us but an irritant to an oyster. Oysters create pearls because they can’t get a piece of sand out of their tendermeats and layer it in nacre until they have a ball of Stuff stuck in their craw. That’s not great for the oyster, but it’s better than having sand ripping up their insides.

And like a pearl, every rule started with some Problem that was causing distress, and people decided to wrap a Rule around it – because as annoying as that Rule was, it was better than the initial Problem.

Now rules, as I’ve noted, are the failure state of polyamory. You’d be better served by utilizing expectations, which aren’t quite as brittle and lead to better understanding. But rules and expectations both are solutions to the same ultimate problem:

You’re hurting someone you love.

They feel abandoned when you don’t text them at the end of the night. They feel threatened when you cancel dates on them to go out with New Person. They feel exasperated when they’re spending their dates with you as a pseudo-relationship counsellor, picking apart the reasons you’re fighting with your other partner all the time.

But hey. You have no limits. So even if your partner’s cat just died and they’re desperate to not be alone tonight, fuck that! You had a date. And you’re not cancelling that because NO LIMITS!

What’s that?

That’d be cruel? You wouldn’t leave your partner alone during a time of need?

Well, I guess you have limits.

“That’s different!” you cry. “That’s what I wanted to do! I chose to do that of my own volition, not because of some stupid rules!”

Here’s the secret to rules, my friend:

Everyone chooses them.

There’s no legal contract for any poly relationship saying, “I have to stay with this person.” There may be consequences, divorce laws being punitive and all, but there’s consequences for any bad decision. You treat them badly enough that they refuse to talk to you, you don’t get the hot sex or the emotional support. If you’re really a shithead, you may lose friends over the breakup. There is no consequence-free decision.

As such, people may bitch about rules, but ultimately they chose to stay with the person who enacted them. Why? Because the irritant of the rules is better than losing that person entirely – or better than the less-critical problem of “I love them, so I don’t want to make them feel bad.”

You’re not better because you made a decision on the fly to alter your behavior to be with someone. That’s how relationships work. You negotiate, you compromise, you figure out where your elbow hits someone’s eye.

And in a lot of cases, you don’t do something that would bring you magnificent satisfaction because you know it would hurt someone. Unsafe sex. Taking someone else to the concert you promised you’d take them to. Disappearing for a two-week vacation with a new sweetie without letting them know where you’re going.

All those are limits.

“They’re self-imposed limits!” you cry – but now you’re changing the argument. Because polyamory was supposed to have no limits, man. Total and utter William Wallace-style FREEEEEEDOM!

…except that compassionate human beings, when given the choice to do whatever they want, will often choose not to do things that injure the people they love.

True freedom involves the ability to self-limit.

And so “Polyamory has no limits” often is a synonym for “I am a sociopath who is only out for my own satisfaction, and anyone who inconveniences me in any way will be shunted aside. I don’t give a fuck about you as long as I get mine.” It’s not so much an ethos as a warning sign that this person is not someone you want to date unless your Venn diagram of what you desire overlaps theirs perfectly.

And yes. It’s perfectly logical to stop dating someone whose feelings are so sensitive you can’t avoid bruising them; I’ve done it myself. But that’s not “I have no limits” so much as “Our limits were irreconcilable.” There’s nothing wrong with a hedonistic relationship based on pleasure, either, so long as everyone involved chose it honestly. It’s possible to have a relationship with such low limits that you never brush against them.

But I generally find that the people who bristle at any idea of limitations are the people who bristle at the idea of other people having needs. They want no limitations because really, anything that obstructs their satisfaction is an enemy to be destroyed.

Date these people at your peril.

Looking For Pro Bono Web Design Work To Help Protest The GOP’s Health Care Bill

Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.

If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at theferrett@gmail.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am.  (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at theferrett@gmail.com, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.

If you’re feeling volunteery, please email.  Thanks.