“A Relationship’s Strength Is Measured By How Well It Survives Trauma.”

My poly relationships are a little weird right now, because they’re defined by absence. My wife is a senior citizen with a heart condition, so COVID is a riskier risk than it normally riskenates, and as such I haven’t physically been with any of my partners in the last seven months.

What’s more depressing is that I really can’t envision seeing them in the next twelve months. Even if a vaccine got approved tomorrow, which is unlikely if we want a vaccine actually guaranteed to work, it would still take at least eight months to be developed and distributed.

I’m not seeing my loved ones any time soon.

And that hurts.

Turns out, my relationships are very much held together by cuddles, kisses, hugs, and orgasms. It’s not that verbal and text communication is worthless, but the reason we’re lovers is because, well, that physical expression of love. There is something about my partners where we said, “We could just be buddies, but God, those kisses.”

Not having those feels like something fundamentally missing from a relationship – something lessened. It turns out that these periods of great loss and longing have been made much more bearable by the promise of future kisses, even if those kisses were months away or even in that nebulous comet zone of “whenever.”

Without that, it’s just longing. Yeah, we can videochat or LOL, but for me, there’s something about seeing someone laugh and then hugging them.

Yet I think of what my therapist said: “A relationship’s strength is measured by how well it survives trauma.” Which I wrestled with for a while – surely that can’t be the only measurement – but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d had very intense relationships that crumbled when the first serious argument hit.

It’s not that relationships can’t be worthwhile if they can’t survive trauma.

But it does mean you won’t have those relationships once the trauma hits.

And this is trauma, alas, a big ongoing spinning wheel of pandemic loneliness, where yes I have Gini and yes my partners have their other partners, but our love isn’t fungible – our love is specific in that we want each other, and yes, we have positive things to offset the loss of this person’s presence but they do fill a unique gap.

Yet there is pride.

Because other relationships are crumbling – from people who have found their partners denying the COVID crisis and demanding unsafe risks to their health, to people deciding what’s the point if they can’t see their sweeties, to folks lying.

Mine have largely stayed constant.

And I appreciate them – their understanding that my wife’s health is vital to me, and to them, and to look this ugly future straight in the face and not deny what’s happening.

I’m not fond of the pandemic. I’m not fond of the idea that trauma is a relationship’s measure of strength. But both are unpleasant truths, and right now, my relationships with smart and loving people have been largely bearing up under this trauma because we are strong, and realistic, and understanding.

It’s a rough time. There’s so much skin-hunger going around. And maybe you’re feeling that with your partners.

But you’re feeling that because you’re safe, you’re caring, and you’re pragmatic.

Take some pride in that, at least.

Today, I’m Proud To Be A Catholic: The Pope Calls For Civil Unions For Same-Sex Couples

For the longest time, I didn’t want to associate myself with Catholicism because I had severe disagreements with the Church.

Then I realized I had severe disagreements with other liberals and polyamorous people, and I still identified with them.

As it is, being Catholic remains an issue, because the Church has fucked up a lot, and depending on the specific parish or the specific pastor, that one church can still have all the issues that make me want to fling religion aside. Still, there’s a lot of good humility and compassion to be extracted from the Bible, if you have the right eyes to see past your biases.

Pope Francis, however, generally makes me happy.

And today, Pope Francis took a magnificent stand, saying ““Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it.” And also, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

And I know there will be backlash. I know the next Pope will probably walk it back. The struggle is never complete; it’s always three steps forward, two steps back, and the Church is a hoary, fragmented institution with eddies of repugnant hatred and abuse.

But today.


Today, I’m proud.

I Wrote This Essay On The Fly: What Bugs Me About Political Debates

The big takeaway of last night’s VP debate was… a fly on Mike Pence’s head. It landed on his hair, stayed there for about two minutes, then flew away.

The fly demonstrated just how political discussions cater to a dramatically misinformed audience.

In any other conversation, if a fly landed in your hair, you’d wave it off. But this is politics, and politics are Stern and Stoic, and if Mike Pence had waved a fly away – or worse, waved a fly away ineffectually – then that would have been seen as “unpresidential,” because we all know that politicians are immobile robots who must not respond to external stimuli.

Which is really the problem with the debates – they’re not about substance, but about two candidates trying to look Presidential… And what looks “Presidential” is literally inhuman. They can’t appear distressed (even when the stuff that’s being brought up should be upsetting), they can’t stammer, they can’t roll their eyes or snort or burst out laughing.

Basically, there’s a large segment of voters who think the best – perhaps the only – quality to make someone the President is being Serious.

Serious is not the same as effective.

Serious doesn’t mean someone’s logical or informed.

Serious is merely a set of behaviors that can be easily duplicated – in fact, they’re behaviors that are easier to mimic for people who aren’t personally involved. It’s pretty easy for someone to remain calm when saying that wildfires have burned down a house, but staying dispassionate when it’s your house that got burned down is difficult.

Essentially, for archaic and arbitrary reasons, we have a society that’s decided to reward people who don’t react to bad behavior – which is to say, we make it easier for psychopaths to function.

I’m not saying Pence is a psychopath. But what I am saying is that last night, we had a human on stage who had to pretend he didn’t notice a fly in his hair because admitting that a fly bugged him would have been seen as proof that he was unfit for office in the eyes of many…

And seriously. How fucked up is that?

I’m Not Kind To Them Because They Deserve It

People are frequently dickish, snappish, and snide at me online. And I used to go after them like hungry barracuda, matching them assholery for assholery, dismantling all of their talking points with cold logic and a dollop of gratuitous insults.

But about three years ago, I started to realize that “being an angry asshole” wasn’t necessarily positive for me.

What I discovered is that I didn’t feel good about taking people apart – partially because periodically I’d misread someone and blast an innocent with an fiery salvo, but also because pummeling someone all day made me feel like the only difference between me and them was a more correct point of view.

So… I cut down. Which is not to say that I won’t enter into the occasional snark-on-snark combat, but in general I try to respond with some level of courtesy and civility.

Note: this is not because they deserve civility – these folks are overwhelmingly from the “fuck your feelings” crowd, barging in to douse everything with a gasoline can full of ill-formed sarcasm. As with so many things in life, you only deserve civility if you give civility.

And it’s not because I believe in some ill-formed idea of “politeness.” Most “politeness” prioritizes appearance over substance in toxic ways – which, as has been noted by a wittier person than I on Twitter, “Law school class professionalism means I can’t say ‘Fuck’ in class but salmon-shorts Chad can say ‘Slavery was a necessary evil.’” What should be offensive is the opinions you present, not the way you present them.

But what I’ve discovered personally is that raining doom on someone’s head generally isn’t soul-settling for me. We become what we pretend to be, and for me, emulating someone’s shitposting has personal costs – it makes me more wound up, more tense, and certainly less forgiving of myself.

So I am kinder. Not because they are worthy people. But because being kinder to them allows me to be kinder to myself.

And that’s a solid concept to keep in mind, even if it’s not for everyone.

Particularly when, you know, prominent politicians who have tried to do me personal harm are now deeply sick.

There was a whole debate on Twitter about whether it was “right” to celebrate Trump’s illness, and most of it seemed to boil down to “We must be better than them.” Which, you know, fuck that – I’m sick of Democrats playing softball when Republicans have gone well past hardball and are just chasing the outfielders down to break their legs with baseball bats.

A lot of that “calming the waters” talk is encouraged by families that prioritize harmony over harm – “Oh, grampa doesn’t mean it when he says you’re going to hell, be nice, hug him and tell him you love him.” That’s an approach that stops vicious actors from ever suffering consequences for their shitty behavior, which means – you guessed it – more shitty behavior.

And Trump has attempted to harm me. I have a preexisting condition, a heart problem, and removing protections for that – as he has actively, and consistently, tried to do – is saying, through very polite and formal laws, “If you can’t afford insurance, we don’t care if you die.” Likewise, there’s trans friends of mine who can’t go to the bathroom, and gay friends of mine who he’s tried to undermine their marriage, and everyone who’s in lockdown because of COVID…

The political is personal, unfortunately. And don’t tell me that Trump and any other conservative politician don’t deserve anger, because these motherfuckers have endangered us personally. Pretending otherwise is an insult.


For me, wishing someone outright malice does not make me kinder to the friends around me – it trains me to encourage my hatred more than my love, which makes me quicker to fury. So even though I think that Trump does valiantly deserve any misfortune brought upon him, I personally don’t celebrate his illness.

And anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t is, probably, some mealy-mouthed motherfucker who prizes nice words over substance. If Trump’s angered you, well, you probably have some personal reasons at this point in our collective plague-fueled nightmare. You’re right to let it rage.

But being right is not necessarily the same thing as being healthy. Sometimes, you look at your anger, decide it’s not the productive sort of anger that drives you to the polls, and is instead the self-destructive anger that leads you to endless doomscrolling and shitposting.

And if it is the case that the anger you feel is personally harmful, remember, you do not have to encourage that anger within yourself – even if someone utterly, completely, deserves your rage, your personal well-being is more valuable. Take a walk. Pet a dog. Drink a glass of good wine.

Sometimes, you’re kind not because your enemies are deserving of kindness, but because the person you naturally are gets deformed by too much rage. And if that’s the case, you’re not betraying the cause by refusing to celebrate their demise – you’re just nourishing yourself.

They may in fact deserve everything that’s coming to them.

Just make sure you don’t hurt yourself giving it.