What it means for me to be monoflexible.

There are a lot of terms out there to try to describe people’s relational orientations or styles. Polygamous, polyamorous, monogamous, monoromantic, polysexual, asexual, and I’m sure a few I’ve forgotten or never heard of. As I’ve made my own explorations around how I believe I am relationally inclined, I found that none of these really fit, for multiple reasons. It’s really a very nuanced thing, these labels not feeling “right” for me. I’m not really into casual sex. I’m definitely not into one night stands. I’ve found that every friend I’ve wanted to have benefits with are ones I also have and do develop romantic feelings around. I’ve tried poly in different forms, and am involved in a polyamorous relationship currently, though I myself do not identify as polyamorous. I just don’t know that it’s in me at every turn to have the ability to love more than one person… or that I’ll even want to.

Neither monogamous or polyamorous as a label really seem to find a way to settle as a good way of explaining how I view my relationships. I have known for a while that I am not a person made for strict monogamy. I like to flirt and flounce, and don’t want any person I care for to be offended or hurt by that action. I can honestly say that many times I enjoy flirting without it going any further into a relationship of any nature- be that sexual, romantic, or any combination of the two. I do enjoy the ability, though, of knowing that if I wanted to develop another relationship with another person, I have that ability- including it being a sexual relationship. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I have, more often than not, a tremendous sex drive and doubt that one person can fill that drive under most circumstances (and if they can, then I’m good with that too!). I don’t want to put that type of pressure on a single person, either. “Hi. I know you love me, and want you to know that I have an amazingly high need for sex and expect you to be the only person who ever fucks me in a way that fills that need for sex, whether or not you have the ability to meet that need.” I recognize that my sex drive is higher than a lot of other people’s, and no matter how much they may *want* to fill it, they may not have a sex drive that is as ample as mine to be able to fill it. I like knowing that I can, with the blessing of my partner, find someone else to have a friendship with that can help decrease the pressure I may put on the one partner.

So where do I fit on the big mono-poly scale? Well… I do think that… given the right people, at the right time, in the right situation… I could be content loving and having relationships with two people. I don’t think I could do more than two. Calling myself “biamorous” would just make people think of bisexual, and it would be a pain in my ass to explain the difference between my sexual orientation and my relational one. So the term I’ve been using for myself has been monoflexible. As it stands right now, I am a mono component of a mono-poly-mono “v” family.

Now, does this mean that I really just want to be polysexual? Well, no, not really. I recognize that little factual statement I gave earlier: The people I am interested in sexually often move into romantic interest as well. So I recognize that any relationship I may enter into sexually has the potential to turn into a romantic encounter for me, and that must be treated carefully on all sides to ensure it is something that would work for all involved. I would rather *not* get involved in a sexual relationship that cannot progressively evolve into more for the other person, because that ends with *me* getting hurt. I know it takes a lot to get me to the romantic relationship point of being, and I carefully guard that so as to not hurt myself beyond repair getting into a situation that is truly a dead-end of heartbreak for me.

Actually, if we get down to it… since shortly before Gabe and I decided to move into “dating” territory, I have been monogamous to Gabe. We have had sex together as a trio (Gabe, Eliz, and I), but I have not had sex with anyone outside of that in over a year, almost 2 now. Do I still have the amazingly high sex drive? Yes. And Gabe and I do everything we can to fulfill those needs and desires. But I don’t have a desire to bring anyone else in right now, either. There are a few people in my life who I fawn over and have *amazingly* large crushes on. Given the chance with those specific people, I would probably take it into consideration and open up the discussions towards having another sexual partner, knowing it could lead to more. I cannot and will not say that monogamy doesn’t fulfill me, because it does. Not “on it’s own merits”, not “while waiting for a second person”, or any other qualifier. I am content in my current situation. But I can see myself getting into, functionally and happily, at least 2 romantic relationships. I want a label that shows that I am content and fulfilled with where I am and that I recognize the potential scope of what could happen in the future with my relationships. I didn’t find anything in most media that I could happily identify with, so I chose my own and created a space for me to feel comfortable in that label.

So… umm… Hi?

Hi! 🙂 I’m Kristi. I’m Gabe’s girlfriend.

No, the other one.

To the left.

A little more…

Yeah, that one right there. That’s me.

I’m pretty constantly in random states of flux, so giving a good description of myself is pretty difficult. I’m an pansexual, possibly queer, label-loving, label-fucking, monoflexible, flirtatious, brainiac, Christian-but-not-THAT-kind-of-Christian, snark machine who doesn’t quite hit 5 feet on the height scale. I’m extroverted, shy, loud but not because I mean to be, not extremely crafty but learning, power player, dog lover, random thinker, ADD… wait… what was I talking about? Oh yeah… I’m a pain slut, a fighter, a lover, a smart ass, recovering anorexic with longstanding issues about my body, and sometimes submissive if you do it right. I’m sex positive and body positive when I do it right, and I’m always trying to do it right. I don’t fit into many, if any, molds that people create with their labels, yet I use them because they are useful. I find pleasure in figuring out how I can twist your label to its limits, so that it can still apply to me even if it doesn’t mean the same thing as you want it to. I enjoy pushing boundaries, thinking logically, and ignoring “emotions” as much as I can- which trust me, isn’t much at all. I believe that age doesn’t mean wisdom, it just means your parents had unprotected sex before mine did. I believe that happy things are awesome, and bad things are “emotions”, and try to avoid them at all costs. I believe God doesn’t make a lick of sense to humans because he is bigger than anything our minds can comprehend, yet I think he gets great pleasure in watching us love and enjoy what he’s given us as a species. I have one friend whom I have maintained frequent contact with from high school. I have my best friend whom I met in my sophomore year of college. I have Gabe and Elizabeth, and a handful of friends I am building on here in town. I’m the most popular unpopular kid you will ever meet- everyone knows me, most like me, not many like to admit they know and possibly like me. I’ve created my own little family of people who love me for me, and I’m finding contentment in that. I’m not used to contentment, so it’s an ongoing journey to identify what that feels like for me.

I own my own home, and am finding an amazing amount of satisfaction in learning to do things to care for it. It’s a hard responsibility, yes… but one I’m finding I enjoy more and more as I do things. I love figuring out how I, and soon we, can change things to fit what we want or need from this space, and make it the most welcoming and comforting place for us to be. That will play into the next post I write, so I figured I’d introduce it here. 😉

Okay… so that’s my version of the “introduce yourself in 5 sentences or less” game. I won, right?

Also, this is the first time I’ve been publishing anything on a blog like this… so if it ends up all wonky, bear with me, k? I’ve worked all night long, and my brain might be a little fried.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

We are mid-move. A lot of my worldly stuff, and Gabe’s, is here in this house where my bed currently is. But a considerable portion of it has moved to its new home, the house that my metamour Kristi owns. The house that will soon be our home, all of us.

And there’s processes to figure out, and things to decide. Where do we put the furniture? What do we move next? What kind of move is it – do we just want to get it done, or do we have time to sort and get those elusive piles of junk winnowed down? What new items do we need? And where, in the blossoming shopping lists, is the room for our varying commitments to simple living, or DIY, or whatever each of us calls these things? What decisions do we make together? What decisions can be made unilaterally? How many what-ifs are a productive part of planning, and how many what-ifs really, REALLY need to go die in a fire? How do we bring our varying coping mechanisms together, so we live authentically and nourishingly through good days and bad days?

Part of the silence of this blog over the last year has been a lack of words, and a lack of answers, through a lot of change. I certainly don’t have any more of the latter now. But maybe it’s time to take a gamble on a few more of the former. Our family is getting much more complex. And naming things, even if the words are hasty and/or inaccurate, will become more and more important. I hear echoes of the challenges that friends have when they have kids. We are now an intimate family of more than two, and that’s a whole different world than coupled intimacy. I will not say that polyamory is the “grad school” of relationships, because that’s a load of horseshit. But I will call polyamory the “director’s cut” of the film. You get MORE of it all… a lot more. More need for scheduling. More support. More sound. More need for conversations. More intentionality. More spontaneity. More changes in plans. And that’s just what I know of so far.

My brain’s already feeling the short-circuiting of a learning curve shooting up like a rocket. As an old mentor would say, “Time for another fucking learning experience!” It’s time for more Big Scary Wonderful. And I won’t always have the time for the thrice-reflected on, nearly sermon-type writing that I’ve done before in this venue. Perhaps this place will resemble more of an unfinished journal than it already did. But it is my hope that we will all have more energy, and more camerapersons, available for this space. It’s important to me.

Big Changes and Lenten Journeys

Most years, I have chosen a spiritual theme to focus on for Lent; it’s typically something like a goal, but with room for change and growth and clarification along the way.  My Lenten plans this year had to do with the home I share with Gabe.  He and I had plans to remove clutter, prepare a space for our new pet rats, and generally nest and bond with the space.  I wanted to make it even more our own, and not just an impersonal living space: shape our stuff to it better, examine what our needs are and how we want our home space to support them, and be more intentional about how we interact with the space, and how we make a home.

Three weeks into Lent, a swarm of termites entered the house.  I won’t go into all the boring details.  The TL;DR summary is, the place is livable in the short term, and our very apathetic landlord doesn’t appear to be putting himself out too much to fix the problem long-term.  On the first day of invasion, when we weren’t sure whether the house would be usable at all, Gabe said that if the landlord couldn’t stop the swarm, we’d just go move in with Kristi, his other partner who owns her home, until something changed.  We all agreed that was sensible.

By the end of the night, we were all looking at each other, saying, “Um, why don’t we do that anyway?”

Being analytical people, we asked every question we could think to ask, and pondered every need – personal and collective – we could scrounge up to ponder.  We asked ourselves if this would really work, and if this was really what we wanted to do.  We examined.  We did.  But in between those moments, we were also immediately rearranging furniture in our heads.  We’ve talked about our various organizational and living styles, and what changes Kristi has wanted to make to her house.  Gabe and I have fantasized about a bathtub we’d actually want to sit down in, and I’ve salivated over a dedicated massage room. We’ve begun to fathom how three people with diets like ours can share one kitchen!  We’ve discussed how we want to share the space together.  We’ve discussed how to make it a home for all of us.

So, we’re doing it.  This weekend, the two of them tore old carpet up out of her house while I packed boxes and brought a carload of our stuff over.  We have several months before our lease is out.  We have Frolicon to prepare for too.  So we’re in no rush.  We don’t have a “move-in” date.  But, I’m also so excited.  I’m thrilled we have the opportunity to do this.  I’m so proud of us that we will be able to do this so well.  I’m excited about what I’ll learn, and how we can support each other. 

So, Lent, as per usual, has explored my anticipated themes in completely surprising ways. This year’s blessings are bringing me great joy.

Risk Unlearning What Has Kept Us Alive

These words feel too small and not entirely accurate, but they’re the best I can find for something really important.

When Gabe and I started dating, in the fall of 2007, I had some decisions to make about personal, psychological tools and strategies. We had a lot of work to do quickly. Neither one of us had been in a polyamorous relationship before, and I had just recently become convinced that they could actually be healthy. We had 3 1/2 years of friendship and longing for one another driving us forward. And we had stressful triggery situations we were each emerging from. We had work to do.

I made a decision at the time that I am grateful for. I pushed myself out to my limits and stayed there. Every day, I stayed out at the perimeter and pushed it a little further out… or a LOT further out. I deferred to Gabe for a lot of the timing; it was his relational orientation that was the newest and most foreign, and the sooner he figured it out, the sooner I would know too. So, he set the pace and I determined that I would keep up until I just couldn’t move anymore (then I’d collapse, rest a while and push myself past the edge again). After we had decided to date but before we’d ever had sex with each other, he called to ask me how far he could go sexually with a friend. Before our long-distance romance was 4 months old, he was on a date with somebody I hadn’t met. In retrospect, with my experience of poly now, I can see how very quickly we were moving and adapting. I didn’t have the perspective to know that my feelings of rocketing forward at full throttle were fairly accurate.

And I’m glad we did that. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now, and I think Us would be poorer for it. I may have deferred to him in a lot of choices, but that was still a choice of mine and I’m pleased with it. We have built a fantastic foundation, and learned so much so fast. The speed burned away extraneous obstacles and zeroed us in on what was most important. We have thrived.

I’ve been out at that periphery since… well, up until last week some time, lol! The daily demand to actually push, or to actively be pulled past my previous limits to find new ones, has faded each day for quite some time. There’s been rare need for it, especially the last six months or so. But I’ve been there, in place, waiting. I’ve been gauging daily life by whether I was pushed past my limit yet. When I named something in particular, it was usually because Gabe had presented an idea and I couldn’t conceive of managing it, so my observations were couched in the negative. It was difficult to bring my imagination to bear on planning of my own, it felt impossible to find balance, and I had growing resentment I couldn’t name… all because of this choice of location that had once been a survival skill allowing us to thrive. There were growing extra burdens on Gabe from what I was still deferring, and tension seemingly from several different places actually all originated from this strategy. It now fit more and more poorly each passing day. We’re not by ourselves forging an Us anymore. Us is established, as is another committed relationship of Gabe’s, and we’re a family of three.

So, I’ve focused a lot on my center now, the last five or six days since figuring this out. I have a great deal of experience and skill out on my growing edges; because of my family of origin and therapeutic history, I’ve spent a LOT of time there. And in most of my experience of my center, I’ve probably mistaken it as a passive, static place. It was usually where I rested for the briefest time possible before heading back out. It’s only now that I’m understanding how much space I have for movement at the center of me… how much imagination I have to pull from and build with… how very much I’m likely capable of with this better physical stance of balance. I’m certainly not starting from scratch, even if it does feel quite foreign here.

We did a scene Monday night that from the outside probably looked very characteristic of what we’ve often done before. But it felt so completely different from this inside place of centeredness that I’m still looking for words. I can’t name them yet, but there’s a lot of positive results, a lot of ease and a lot of freedom emanating from this one change.

(The title is an adaption of a phrase by Robin Morgan.)

Settling In

A couple months back, I noticed something. I noticed that my New Relationship Energy with Gabe, as I had known it, was gone. The burning intensity that had me soaring through most of the last two years, that lent a solar-flare kind of yellow-white light to everything, was no longer doing that.

And I have to admit, if I’m being completely honest, that I had assumed on some level that it would always be there. It would be that way because we’re special, or we’re the exception to the rule, or because we work so hard, or… yeah, I hadn’t quite worked the reason out. Some part of my brain just figured we’d never lose it.

I panicked a little when I noticed it missing. I realized that I had very little idea or expectations of what replaces NRE in a romantic relationship. Now, when it comes to relationship structure and communication? Oh sure, I have that analyzed up one side and down the other at any given point in time. I knew well where we were headed with that. But for the fire, the passion, the fuel of a romance? I hadn’t come to this place in a healthy relationship before, and I really didn’t know what kind of fuel comes next. I did realize I had a culture’s worth of messages that the dying of the spark was inevitable. I knew I wanted there to be more, that I’ve always wanted there to be lasting passion possible in a relationship. But I had no practical experience, and almost no stories or role models to pull from. I wondered if we really would have sex less than we used to. I was aware of NRE bubbling off his other relationship, and I wondered if I’d come to resent that.

I finally said to him out loud, a few weeks after I had noticed… that I thought our NRE had faded. Gabe felt there were differences, sure. But he said, in a matter of fact way, that he always thought the best stuff came after NRE. That one comment was enough to shake me out of my worry and my cultural baggage to notice what had actually been going on between us. With the blinding shine wiped off the surface, I can peer in and see what’s present in the depths.

The sex is richer every time. We have accumulated so much information about one another, that we can traverse complex explorations of our bodies and psyches with ease. We can reach in further, and we know the paths to deeper spaces. Sometimes, we dance our fucking through rhythms we’ve practiced until they’re smooth and silky. The urgency that’s let up in our romance has also let up in our emotional life; the obstacles and growth spurts that occur are not so all-encompassing, and we can ride them with more comfort and peace. Gabe’s NRE, and the unique beauty of them and their relationship, reflects back into us and multiplies the feeling that the Holy Spirit surrounds us all.

He and I still have fierceness and intensity and brilliance. But instead of being splashed across the surface, they’re currents flowing in richer, deeper waters. Instead of the earlier, intense yellow-white, we have all kinds of vivid hues shifting and playing around us and through us. Maybe they’ve been there a long while, but I couldn’t see them.

Mistress Matisse Is Just Plain Wrong

For the last day and a half I’ve been trying to figure out how to address this adequately, and coming up short, so I’ll just say it like this..

Mistress Matisse fucked this up royally.

A recent Stranger column by Mistress Matisse attempted to tackle the phenomenon of mono folks dating poly folks in order to change them, to rescue them from their wayward ways and live the romantic story of loving someone so hard that they became who they “should” be. I’ve seen of this kind of thing happen. It’s disrespectful at best and damaging to a person’s psyche at worst. It’s something that needs to be addressed.

Unfortunately Matisse did so terribly, and in the process insulted a lot of people.

She starts off describing monogamous “cowboys” who date poly folks to “persuade them to sever existing relationships and embrace monogamy,” but then paints every mono person who dates a poly person as one of those people.

Instead of speaking of cowboys and cowgirls, her language drifts into “monogamist” and “someone who is clearly monogamous” while still attributing the cowboy behavior to them.

She says

Viewed through a monogamist’s gaze, dropping your lasso on a wandering heart is the stuff of songs, literature, and drama.

Not “through a cowboy/girl’s gaze,” which would make sense. She’s now expanded the manipulative behavior to all mono folks. So us poly folks are the fodder for the romantic fantasies of those monos, eh? The reason one of them would be attracted to one of us is because they can save us and teach us the truth about love.

She just defined monogamous ideals across the board as the fairy tale manipulative machinations of a Harlequin romance novel. If you only want to have one relationship at a time, this must be your drive.

She goes on to say:

Why the hell would a poly person get romantically involved with someone who is clearly monogamous in the first place? The honest answer is something like: hormones, misguided optimism and willful self-delusion, more hormones, and a little emotional masochism

And the only reason one of us would want to date one of them is that we’re horny and deluding ourselves. Right. It couldn’t possibly be valuing that person, up to and including the way that they love.

Where Matisse goes wrong in painting mono/poly pairings as cowperson/cow is in the expectation that a person of one relational orientation requires the same of their partner. Sometimes that’s true, and sometimes that’s not. In my case, obviously, it’s not. Some folks, in order to be fulfilled, need their partner’s to have the same sort of numerical setup that they have. But how I work and what I need from my partner are two different issues.

Think of it like this. I’m starting a band, and I LOVE Black Sabbath. I bring Sabbath’s influence to my writing and playing. My bandmates find their inspiration in other places, like Black Flag, Bop and Jesus Freaks like Larry Norman. But we’re willing to work together, we’re compatible as writers and musicians, and we find unique, beautiful ways to blend our influences.

My buddy, another Sabbath freak, is trying to start up a band too. He found a couple of guys to play with who really believe that Led Zeppelin started heavy metal. My buddy decides to go ahead and start a band with them, even though he can’t stand Zeppelin. He figures if he just plays them enough Sabbath, and explains why its so wonderful, he can change their minds.

Which one of these is going to make it past 3 practices?

Now, is it the love of Black Sabbath that dooms bands? No. It’s requiring of others what they’re not willing to give, and not being up front about that.

In the same way, monogamy isn’t the problem in the mono-poly relationships. Those can be done really well. The problem is approaching ANY relationship as a means of changing someone to fit one person’s ideals.

It’s obvious Matisse doesn’t think so. After moving away from the cowperson language, as quoted above, she then goes on to say:

I can promise you, if you’re poly and you’re involved with someone who’s not, once the hot sex cools off and reality sets in, every single problem that occurs in the relationship will somehow devolve to: You’re fucking other people.

Suddenly Matisse knows everything there is to know about the workings of every mixed-orientation relationship. She’s just guaranteed us all that every mono person in a relationship with a poly person requires that their partner love and fuck only them. There’s no room for differentiating between two related but different needs. Matisse knows better than Elizabeth does that Elizabeth HATES me fucking other people.

And that is complete and utter bullshit.

I’ve respected Matisse’s advice in the past. I enjoy the podcast she does with Monk. I read her blog. That’s why I’m so waylaid by her sudden lack of nuance. The abruptness of her shift from talking about disrespectful behavior to asserting that behavior exists where it does not makes me angry.

Had she stayed talking about cowfolk, she could have had some useful insights, maybe even helped a few people. That without even seeing it she equated all mono-poly relationships with manipulation and abuse is impossible to overlook and difficult to forgive.

The problem with terrible behavior is the terrible behavior, not the other attributes that the person exhibiting it has.

It turns out, Elizabeth doesn’t need to love Black Sabbath the way I do. She’s just got to love that I love them. She does, and we make beautiful music together.

Collars and Identity

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
(Paul in his letter to the Galatians, 5:13-14)

I was given my first collar in 2006, by a church in Texas. It signified a bond between us as members of the body of Christ, and their acknowledgment and support of a unique vocational call for me. I had been a hospital chaplain for a few years already, and continued that work in their name for a few more years. As with any symbol that’s been around that long, that collar means a lot of different things to different people. To me, it came to mark me as someone in a liminal space. There is a strong differentiation in mainstream Christianity between clergy and laity, that I have never fully accepted. I wore the collar as a sign of servanthood: the education of a leader without the authority over others, the grassroots positioning of a layperson with the devotion that I hoped to find in my fellow congregants. Continuing a long theme in my life, I was “both/and”, combining categories often kept separate. I still have the right to wear that collar… though on the rare occasions that I am fulfilling the duties of that role I tend to wear other signifiers, like the collar-like stole.

I didn’t anticipate ever receiving another collar, until Gabe gave me one on Sunday, July 18th. This collar is specifically a signifier of a relationship between Gabe and one of my age play personas. So, he has a slutty twelve-year old sub! This collar is first a signifier that Lucy is Daddy’s, as Daddy is Lucy’s. Lucy has what are perhaps the most impressionable elements of my personality. She has a purity of desire that other parts of me can access through her, but don’t embody themselves. When she feels, she feels with her whole self. She is completely centered, or completely swept away; entirely in her strength, or entirely vulnerable… sometimes all at the same time. There’s no prevarication, no adult-like tempering of feeling or holding back, no going half-assed. The collar has that purity of devotion to Daddy, and more, without being less full of devotion. The collar reverberates through the rest of me as well, as it does through Gabe. The love he wove into it, and the love I give it as I wear it casts its own spell, and carries its own larger meaning… through us and around us. Symbols are powerful, and carry their own reality… especially when they have their own color, and texture, and weight on a body.

With most labels in my life, it’s been easy for me to realize that they apply both to my whole self and to only a part of myself. I am fully bisexual, but that label best describes one specific thread of me. I am fully female, though there are individual parts of me for which that label doesn’t make sense. When my vocation was minister, all of me was a minister, though being a minister was not all that I was. For some reason, this dance of the parts and the whole gets frequently gummed up in BDSM. There’s a lot of essentialist categorization floating around in the air. For some folks, if you submit or dominate, one of those is all that you are and you are always that. Obviously, there are those who think otherwise. And I believe there are those who want to think otherwise but get a little of this communal gunk rubbed off on their brain. It’s difficult to avoid entirely. I think this essentialism is a key dynamic in the “there’s no such thing as a switch” meme. It’s an inability to hold the paradox of the whole and the parts of an identity. Hard as it is to believe, it’s a reality that eludes a Venn diagram. When I am one of my ageplay personas, I am fully them, and they are a deep and authentic part of me. But they are not all of me. When I am subbing to Gabe, I am subbing with my whole self, though my whole self is not submissive. It’s the same paradox of being a partner, a friend, a massage therapist, a daughter, an office manager, a Christian, an anarchist and more, all at the same time.

This reminds me of one of Gabe’s favorite statements, from Walt Whitman: Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes.

Living With Someone/Living Poly

Moving in with someone else and beginning an intimate relationship with them has brought to light just how much potential for anxiety I have just below the surface. When I lived by myself I had a tremendous amount of authorship of my daily life, down to the smallest details. I knew what areas to avoid, what triggers to stay away from, and I could do so while still having a full and ever-growing life. This gave the illusion that I had overcome all that anxiety and didn’t have to handle it anymore.

There is a theory, however, that’s always felt instinctively true to me, that your fight or flight panic switch gets calibrated at a young age. If you grow up in an atmosphere that is primarily calm and peaceful, that primal switch needs a firm grip on it to set it off. If you grow up around highstrung people, in threatening or unstable surroundings, that switch is feather light and gets tripped easily. I think the latter is likely true for me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t practice peacefulness, and find ways to keep the air around that switch very, very still. I can, and at some points in my life I have. It just means I get to work a little harder at it than others might have to.

So I’m living a life now where the details of what I may be doing in any particular hour are shaped by a large number of factors, many of which are out of my control. That’s not a bad thing by any means. It just means I don’t have access to a major coping mechanism that I once used, and I get to develop new ones. They’re coming along slowly. One of the the first ones I got fluent in was leaning on Gabe. It was such a bizarre, wild, new, fundamentally thrilling thing to have somebody else I could rely on to take care of things, or to take care of me. I’ve not had that before — not from parents, not from any other lover. It was deeply healing to experience that. But it’s occurred to me the last month or so that I’m doing it too much. We are committed to communicating with each other, a lot, and so it’s easy to go to him first off about any worries I have. But he really doesn’t need to pour that much energy into reassuring me about everything, and I don’t need to be hit so hard if worries hit while I’m away from him. So, I’m not running directly to him with anxieties, and realizing I still have quite a toolbox of skills available to handle these things myself. I’m still getting my footing, but I didn’t realize how much I already knew.

-=-=-=-

Another recent learning is this: being with a poly partner means being, by definition, behind on the news on certain subjects. Gabe’s relationship with Kristi has… gotten larger. A few weeks ago there was a palpable new commitment or investment in it for them. It’s very hard for anybody to find language for it. They are not headed toward any particular goal, and there’s not a lot of modeling for romances that are not inevitably heading toward marriage. So they’re feeling it out as they go. Changes grow in them, and they communicate with me as well as they are able, through words and other kinds of language.

It was disconcerting at first for me to feel this particular change. I didn’t know what it was. I don’t get direct data; I discover what’s bubbling through them secondhand. Then there were my anxieties about going somewhere we hadn’t gone before. The other times he’s had someone important to him, the bond didn’t grow this deeply, I don’t think. I always had the feeling that they were many steps away from the biggest kinds of commitments, like moving in together or weaving daily life together at that level. With Kristi, our daily lives are entwined. We see each other in some form or another at least 4 times a week, usually more. So the next potential step I should prepare myself for is….? Who knows. They don’t. The most disturbing part of this big shift for me was that I suddenly felt disconnected from my capacity to enjoy them together, and get all frubbly. Something was in the way.

Now, I very much enjoy the way our daily lives weave together these days, you understand. That’s not the issue. The issue this time was more “NEW-OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-NEW-WHAT-THE-HELL’S-GOING-ON-AAAAAA-WE’RE-ALL-GONNA-DIE”. Something like that. Nice, rational, reasoned concerns. One of the benefits of my metamour being all kickass and awesome and human and a friend of mine is that I can’t even try to paint her as either evol or perfect. I get an immediate, really good look at just how rational my current fears are. And these were not. At all.

So I hung on and prayed and waited. At some point I realized, again, how much he loves me. I started noticing it again, in his touch and his eyes all day. I realized again that I’m perfectly capable of addressing any needs of mine that come up and getting them met. I realized they all were getting met, and that the danger on my radar was some sort of ancient shadow not at all related to the present. I realized how much I was anticipating, and not living in the present.

And then I got to watch Gabe make something with his own hands for Kristi. And to be able to observe that… was something sacred that still brings tears to my eyes. The stuff that pours out of them is awesome and beautiful. So then all the frubble started flooding in again, pouring through whatever was in the way.

So, I’m in a bizarre state of being raw from the recently flushed fear, and high from the incoming rush of frubbles. It’s odd, but pretty good. I really do love my life.

Getting Good at Oral Sex

I joined reddit.com a few weeks ago, and I have to say I’m really enjoying it. I find that the discussion that happens in the comments on reddit tends to be intelligent, informed and nuanced, especially as compared with other discussion forums on the web. That I can easily bounce between /r/OpenChristian and /r/BDSMcommunity and feel at home in both is pretty impressive.

When I saw someone posting on /r/sex about his worries about his smaller-than-average penis, I was hopeful that the comments would be helpful and reassuring. Reddit, as has been the case so far, didn’t let me down. There are quite a few comments from women (who the poster specifically request give input) stating that penis size is not the measure of a lover, and that they’ve had mindblowing sex with men with smaller-than-average penises. All guys have some worry about the appeal of their cock, specifically around size, and these are just the kinds of comments I’d be hoping for from a general audience.

But, and you knew there was a “but” coming, one thing kinda threw me off. In the top comment as of the time of this writing someone says, “Become GREAT at giving oral, read up on it, same for fingering and everything else.” The sentiment was repeated by quite a few other women. The general thought here is that penetrative sex isn’t the be all, end all of a satisfying sexual experience, and I fully agree with this. Good sex includes all kinds of activities and everyone should embrace them.

What bugged me is the idea that by reading up on oral sex someone can become good at it. I know I’m going against an entire industry of publishing here (including that cultural juggernaut, Cosmo), but I really believe that you can’t learn to have good sex by stacking up a library of techniques you can draw from. Writing the alphabet on her clit with your tongue may give some interesting and pleasurable sensations, but that’s not where good oral sex comes from.

Good sex, oral or otherwise, is communication.

Being a good lover, and indeed, eating pussy well, doesn’t come from combining techniques in a way that will get other people off. Each vulva is unique. Each clit is unique. And, despite all the marketing telling us otherwise, each woman is unique. If you want to be a masterful cunnilingist, then the skill you need to learn is listening.

I don’t mean sit down first and have a discussion about what actions will help your partner come. I mean that before your tongue even touches her you need to be aware of her fully. You need to hear the words she says, the way she breathes, the sounds she makes, the way she moves. And with each touch you need to be aware of how she responds. Does she like hard pressure. Does too much suction cause her to pull back. Does feeling your teeth cause her to gasp? Is it a good gasp or a bad one?

Good cunnilingus isn’t a system. It’s a conversation.

And when you know how she responds to different things, and she knows how she responds to you doing different things, then the conversation begins in earnest.

In preparing for writing this, I wanted an impartial opinion on my own skills, so I asked my friend, theshadowsrose, if to the best of her recollection I was good at oral sex. Without knowing what I was planning to write, or the idea I was going to explore she said “[Y]es. You were responsive to what my body said I liked and were willing to be adaptable to its preferences.”

The thing is, that’s not how you become good at oral sex. That’s how you become a good lover. That’s how you become a good partner. That’s how you become a good friend. That’s how you become good at relating to other people.

Don’t read a book on good sex. Read (and be read by) your partners. They are the ultimate text on themselves.