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.

Why Bisexual Women Aren’t Replying To Your Couples Ad: Some Tips

“We’ve opened up our marriage and are looking for a third person to date,” says every other kinky personal ad ever. “We’d like an attractive bisexual woman who needs to fall in love with both of us, simultaneously, at the same rate. We’re hot and 420-friendly. The door’s open, ladies!”

Tumbleweeds blow across the plaintive desert of this ad. Nobody answers, except for the creepy dudes who reply to every post offering sex anywhere whether that sex is meant for them or not.

This hot-and-pot couple will go tragically unbethreesomed.

Yet there’s good reason for this! Most experienced bisexual women don’t want to date a fresh-off-the-boat couple, for very good reasons. So if you’d like to understand why your proposed relationship is unappealing, and perhaps proactively address some of these concerns, well… let’s discuss why dating as a couple is hard on the woman.

Reason #1: Dating’s Tricky Enough When You Only Have To Be Attracted To One Person.
You know those days when you’re swiping through Tinder like you’re scrolling through Netflix movies, and nobody seems attractive? Those days where if you’re lucky, one out of ten people seem worth swiping right on?

Okay. Now imagine that Tinder is pairing people up randomly. Wanna date this one girl? You also have to hang out with her friend WHO ALWAYS TALKS IN ALL CAPS AND NEVER SHUTS UP ABOUT HOW KANYE WEST IS HER TRUE 100 SPIRIT GUIDE.

Much, much harder to swipe right when it’s a package deal.

And it’s not like, you know, bisexual hot women are short on options. You might be willing to cut a few corners if you can get that mystical threesome-love-magic you’re questing for – but to them, your offer is a lot closer to the background radiation of their lives, where they literally have someone trying to rope them into a threesome every day.

So they have zero need to approach someone who looks like they might be annoying. And you *do* look annoying, because…

Reason #2: Imbalanced Attractions Exacerbate Jealousy.
Let’s say the bisexual woman tries dating the both of you! And you’re totally into her.

She is marginally into you.

But she fucking loves your partner.

Every time you go out together, she spends 80% of her time laughing at your partner’s jokes, touching your partner’s knee, squeeing because she loves that band your partner loves but you could never get into, and basically making you feel completely alienated in your own relationship.

And you talk to your sweetie – the old sweetie – and they’re like, “This is a great relationship I have with her, she’s not opposed to you, why are you fucking it up for me?”

What then?

Now, it’s possible that you find a bisexual woman who’s equally into both of you, but that’s rare. Usually there’s a bit more chemistry on one side than another – maybe not an unmanageable chemistry, but it’s like when you get a cat together and the cat clearly has a favorite person to hang with.

If you’re not really confident in your love for each other, that difference in chemistry can feel like a threat. Which often leads to draconian attempts to balance that chemistry – demands of restricted time, or of mandated time where the bisexual woman has to try to find deeper feelings for the partner on the outs, or bizarre rules about touching or laughter or bedroom antics designed to ensure that the partner who feels not as included is catered to.

In other words, it’s generally not the less-chemistried partner who has to change their behavior to adapt to the changes the third person’s caused – it is, in fact, the outside partner who has to change to keep the couple intact. Which is a weird way of saying, “Hey, bisexual woman, your desires are not as important as our needs as a couple.” Which in fact leads to….

Reason #3: Couples Often Treat The Third Person As Expendable.
So let’s say your bisexual partner comes in and has needs of their own.

“That’s good!” you cry. “We want to dote on our new partner! Ask for the world, honey!”

…and their needs conflict with yours. Maybe they want to stop pretending to be your “friend” in front of your very conservative family, maybe they need emotional support at times that are inconvenient for you as a couple, maybe they need to stop having sexy threesomes for a while because of medical concerns, maybe they need you to stop dating still other people to focus on them.

“It just didn’t work out,” the couple says sadly.

And the ugly truth is, that when a couple starts hunting for a third partner, that third partner is quietly viewed as a nice-to-have – you want this extra partner, sure, but nothing’s worth causing strife between the original hubby and wife.

So if one partner feels threatened by a need from this new partner, guess who gets the boot?

Experienced bisexual women will trade stories of well-meaning couples who treated them as an experiment – they wanted to see what happened when they brought in a third, and it didn’t quite work out, and when all was said and done the third was tossed unceremoniously out onto the street but the couple had learned a Valuable Lesson About Themselves, and wasn’t that worth the experience?

It was not for the third partner, who fell in love and had that love fired by nepotism.

And look. I’m not saying that as a couple, you have to break up to placate a third. What I am saying is that too many couples treat their third partners as a nice-to-have, like a luxury Corvette that can be sold in times of trouble. These couples expect that any stresses in the relationship will be borne exclusively by the external partner, and if they are expected to do some reflection or negotiation or restructuring, that’s the sign it’s time to end this troublesome relationship.

And again. Bisexual women can afford to be picky.

So why would they find this appealing?

It is, of course, difficult to convince someone that you’re not like those other couples. But before you place that ad, ask yourself: *are* we like these other couples? If you’re really ready to open up your relationship, are you willing to adapt to the needs of other people, or are you just seeking a fling?

If you want a fling, try the swingers’ club. It still might provoke jealousy. But at least at the swingers’ club, you weren’t promising your potential partners anything more than an enjoyable fuck.

Be honest.

Reason #4: Your One-Penis Policy Is Probably Sexist As Fuck
I wrote about this extensively in my essay All Women And Never Men, which you should probably read in full before you defend the process – but to summarize:

* Most One-Penis Policies are made because the dude is insecure about other men, so he’ll “generously” allow his wife to have sex with other women as long as it turns him on;
* Which doesn’t threaten him because women don’t have real relationships – for an actual bond, you need a penis;
* Those policies all too often – not always, but far too often – lead to a relationship that only works so long as the man is completely satisfied, and the minute the dude has to process jealousy or dissatisfaction, the relationship collapses.

I mean, some OPPs work out because the woman genuinely doesn’t want any other male partners – and that is wonderful. But most of them are shadowed by this concern where the woman isn’t seeking other male partners because their man would get jealous if she did, and multi-partner relationships aren’t about removing jealousy.

(They’re about recognizing that jealousy is an emotion like any other – sometimes you realize it’s an irrational emotion, sometimes you change the relationship to diminish that unpleasant emotion, and sometimes you realize this emotion means this relationship isn’t going to work out.)

So What Now?
I’ve told you a lot of negatives. Now here’s the truth:

A lot of the reasons bisexual women aren’t receptive to these ads are because the ad itself means you don’t see them as a person, but rather a position to be filled.

If you really want to add a third, then a lot of the advice comes down to “See them as a person. Don’t expect them to make your lives magical, then eject them when they fail at that role.” I know a fair number of couples who did find that third, but they generally did so by meeting in person, talking extensively, a slow process that involved a lot of self-reflection and self-awareness.

As with so much else about dating, sometimes the answer to “Why can’t I find a date?” is “You need to work on yourself to become more desirable as a person.” And in this particular case, the desirability comes from showing people that you can make a genuine space for them in your relationship.

Good luck.

Listen To Me Talk About What’s Wrong With Society For Half An Hour!

So the folks at Kinkycast saw my FetLife essay “How Do You Deal With All These Angry Comments?” and invited me on to discuss how to bring a little civility to your comments section. Which led to some interesting discussions on why angry men try to drive women off the Internet, and how those men get roped into believing MRA-style bullshit, and how the anonymity the Internet offers is changing society.

Interesting stuff, say I.

So anyway, if you’ve got thirty minutes free and feel like hearing me opine, I am opinating here, on their episode #250, which is great because I love big anniversary numbers.

Go check it out!

Requiring Perfect Communication Is Another Way Of Asking You To Shut Up

“I want to help you, I do,” the nobly saddened partner says. “But you keep asking for help wrong. When you’re upset, you get mad, and when you get mad you get quite irrational, and when you’re irrational I’m not under any obligation to listen.

“So what you need to do when I’ve erred is to refine your communication. Because I can’t help you if you’re forever blundering across my sensitive spots!”

SPOILER: This is a person who will never help you.

Look, I’m by no means saying that “learning to speak your needs more clearly” isn’t a vital thing in relationships. Nor am I saying that stumbling through in arm-flailing upset, paying zero attention to who you’re elbowing in their emotional eye, is life goals.

But I am saying that any relationship has to be able to tolerate imperfections. Because when you hurt someone – and you may, accidentally, even with the best of intentions – expecting them to react like harmless porcelain dolls is a form of control.

Because sometimes you hurt someone and they’re reduced to incoherent tears, unable to tell you what they need because they’re melting down inside, except they don’t want to be held and they need you to do something now but they can’t get the words out.

Sometimes you hurt someone and they snap, not phrasing things with clean precision but raising their voice and claiming you “always” or “never” do things and ripping off a hurtful insinuation or two.

Sometimes you hurt someone and they’re so hurt they retreat into silence, sulking as they swirl everything over and over in their minds, trying to determine whether this is worth talking about and maybe it’s just them and even if it isn’t how will they phrase their eventual complaint?

None of those things are ideal, of course. And if they crop up routinely, then that’s a communication pattern that needs to be addressed. Nobody’s saying that you should put up with unending misfires in communication.

But there is a type of person who looks at your pain and stands aloof, claiming that your pain isn’t their problem until you cease all this imperfect discussion and speak to them in the proper way.

Which is another way of saying “It doesn’t matter how badly I screw up, but you have to be perfect.”

And this sort of person exerts a continual control, because they’re wandering about stepping on ancient traumas and stretching boundaries and breaking unspoken agreements in ways that seem almost designed to cause major meltdowns. They’re acting in ugly ways that should cause upset, and yet refusing to take responsibility for that pain until it’s laid as neatly at their feet as a five-star concierge presenting a bill.

Real relationships allow for a little messiness, ya know?

And strangely, these “I won’t handle your upset until you’re nice to me” folks often date people with a history of trauma, homing in on people who are stunned into incoherence whenever their boundaries are crossed, which allows them to dance away from responsibility whenever they push another button.

Here’s the truth: expecting everyone to be kind to you when you’ve been cruel to them is a way of exerting power. Jabbing at someone’s sensitive spots and then demanding they calm down before you’ll take responsibility for them is a shitty way of prioritizing placid words over damaging behavior.

In grown-up relationships, sometimes you hurt someone and, in responding, they hurt you back. And sometimes you suck that hurt down temporarily because yes, they’ve put your fur up, but the person you wounded is in more pain than you are. And demanding that they always drop everything to cater to your needs is a way of saying, “It doesn’t matter what I do to you, I come first.”

And if you hang around these people long enough, what you’ll find are beaten-down hangers-on. They’ve stopped reacting when their partners hurt them because they’ve internalized that idea that they’re not good enough, that they’re swinging wildly out of control and hence they need to cling on to this nice, stable partner because they never get upset, they always have the right words, they don’t overreact.

What these poor, benighted souls never ask is, “Is this person calm because they’re enlightened, or are they calm because they’re secretly getting everything they want out of this relationship?”

But it’s a question worth asking. Because seeking perfection is a delightful goal.

Demanding it is often a twisted way of requesting silence.