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solo poly: compersion for my lovers nesting relationships.

March 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Compersion is a bit of polyamorous jargon that refers to how we can often feel a delicious happiness about the lovers of our lovers (“metamors”, for yet more non-monogamous vernacular). When I care about someone, that normal human empathy is ramped up, and my emotional state is even more linked to theirs. So if I can be happy that someone I love has done well in other aspects of their life, how much more so when its about something as delicious and rewarding as a sexual connection?

As a solo poly person, I sometimes feel bad that I can’t, or won’t, provide my sweethearts with a “partner” where that means someone they can build a life together with. A very new sweetie already comes with a very solid, beautiful relationship of this type. They live together, move cities to stay together when careers require that.

Do I feel threatened by this? Jealous of a connection I will never share with this new sweetie who I am experiencing all the delicious NRE*/honeymoon excitement with? No. I feel absolutely delighted that they have this nesting relationship. I feel a bit of relief, its true, that they won’t look to me for those wants/needs. But also I feel a real happiness that they have this connection. I feel genuine joy just thinking about how they both must feel to have this longlasting, loving foundation. Those empathy neuropathways are having a party, even though its not for anything I’d ever want for myself.

I don’t think that compersion is too alien even for monogamous people. Just think about how happy you feel when your lover has something good in their lives. That is how I feel when I think about my metamors.

I do get jealousy sometimes, but it is always, for me, connected to my mental health, insecurity and fears that I’m going to lose my sweetie. It always is a symptom of something else going on for me. Do I need to work on my self esteem? Is my life feeling too overwhelming? Are my needs/wants within my relationship being met? Does my sweetie help me feel valued, cared for, loved, desired? Do they even know what I need in order to feel those things? Am I slipping into a overbusy burnout pattern that means my emotional state is fried? Does my relationship feel unstable?

I try to look at jealousy as a miner’s canary – an indicator of how safe/nourishing the surrounding context is. And as a measure of how well I am doing at fixing underlying issues. As I work on whatever is actually meaning I feel jealous, I feel those horrible feelings fade away and the compersion that was always present, just eclipsed, gains ascendency and brightness.

With this new sweetie, I had fears that my new metamor, their longterm partner, would be unhappy about our new thing. They’re very new to opening up their relationship and I like and respect them both. We’ve all been friends for years. However my fears were assuaged when I saw the metamor in person and they were friendly and welcoming to me. Later my new sweetie checked in with me how I’d felt that the two of them had been affectionate in my presence and I could honestly say that it had made me both happy and relieved. The last thing I want is for my new relationship to destroy someone else’s. But seeing their connection reassured me that it was all good. And my increased closeness to them because of this new romantic/sexual aspect meant that what would have been lovely to observe anyway, I felt even more keenly. It was just pure yummy.

When I connect with someone, I become more aware of their vulnerabilities, and so seeing them held gives me comfort. I can’t give them this longterm committed home making. I travel through life mostly alone. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel happy when those who do want a nesting partner have one. I don’t want kids either, but I can appreciate and feel glad when those who do want this become parents.

The poly aspect compliments my soloness. It means I do not require any lover to also need the space and distance that I need. They are free to nest, to deeply entangle themselves in another partner’s life, to “settle down”, to become parents. And in return I gain the enjoyment of seeing my loved ones in beautiful partnerships. And nobody needs to squeeze anyone out in order to have their needs and wants met.

 

 

* New Relationship Energy – google is your friend this time I’m afraid.

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love/hate rships with airports. goodbye dear lover until next time.

July 22, 2016 1 comment

I live a “solo poly” existence. I choose not to have a “primary partner”. I choose not to live with a partner, or orbit my life around their’s. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t suit me at all. I love like I live – independent and freewheeling and with a few very deep very dear connections. Those deepest connections are primarily not people I happen to have a sexual/romantic connection with at the moment, though I tend to remain close to those I have had that kind of interaction with, because affection and care and love and connection are more permanent than whether or not sexy things feel right between folks at any particular time.

Anyway, today one of my closest folks and lovers, left after a wonderful 3 week visit. As the cab took me away from the airport, I acutely felt the separation. I felt hate for the plane that was shortly to take him even further from me. After such an concentrated togetherness, sharing intensely spacetime, deep companionship and nsfw activities, suddenly my partner in crime is no longer next to me.

We’ve talked about whether we should reorganise our lives to be geographically closer, but that wouldn’t work for us.

We meet and part at airports. I like that we both travel alone enough, and watch other folks being met, that being met ourselves feels like such a treat. Going to the airport is part of the ritual of our relationship. Hugs and passionate kisses at arrivals, later mirrored at the departure security check. In 4 different countries so far, on 3 continents. Sweet coming together. Never will we take time together for granted. The preciousness of waking up together for those weeks.

I’ve been planning for postdeparture and have nice things lined up for a few days. Tonight I’m going to have fun with a friend, tomorrow is a social gathering, Monday star trek in 3D. Self care ftw. I’m ok with the way our relationship is. I miss him because we have such a good connection and I’d rather have that and miss it than not. We miss each other because we are the people that we are, each with full lives and interests and desires and therefore don’t want to just give up all of that to live together, even if either of us were fixed enough in one place for the other to move there.

But damned if I didn’t hate that plane that was physically moving us away from each other.

Categories: diary, personal, poly Tags: , ,

Poly – mini lows and highs

August 1, 2015 2 comments

This is again just a diary entry as much as anything else, so don’t be expecting some great thought out theoretical perspective!

I just really want to document for future me what happened last night. That I had my biggest poly fears brought up with an existing lover getting together with someone new, whilst I simultaneously had lovely connections and snuggles with poly friends.

There can be an assumption that being poly means I don’t feel jealous – I wish that were true! But just like I can be scared of travelling on my own, or feel challenged by writing a masters dissertation, or feel achey and exhausted and cold and tired on a long Scottish hike, being poly is not all blue sky and effortless but I still choose to embark on it.

Just now I am dealing with a relatively new sweetie (18 months) beginning his first new affair. I seemed to have seen it coming before he did, and felt those familiar, unwelcome pangs. I forced myself to ask him, and he seemed surprised but then over the next few days confirmed that yes, as I’d predicted, they were getting close in that way. And last night they kissed for the first time.

Jealousy for me is almost pure insecurity. Its fear of loss, of my lover connecting with someone else in a way that squeezes me out, or eclipses our relationship.

This latter is not entirely unfounded – a seven year relationship was ended as my lover and his new partner gradually found themselves moving towards a more exclusive, married with kids setup. Looking back on it, our relationship was not what either of us needed – he wanted that livetogether full entanglement whereas I’m very solo poly. However the breakup was super painful, and was further complicated by PTSD because we’d got together in a warzone and somehow a lot of the trauma from that was dug back up as the relationship that had grown from it was wrenched up from its roots. To deal with this, I’m kinda getting back on the bicycle. As much as it scares me, I simultaneously really want my lovers to get together with new people. I want the experiential learning of different outcomes, so that my brain can start to disconnect “lover getting new lover” from “and this inevitably leads to loss and pain and grief”.

Other contributing factors to my jealousy is common old insecurity and low self esteem. Why would anyone be with me at all? How could I possibly stand up to comparison with their new love? And then I start putting so much pressure onto having amazing good times with them, that actually messes with the spontaneity and being in the moment that we really need. And then I become aware of that and get more stressed and flustered and feel how terrible how pressure cooker relationship is and become convinced that they’re only having great times with their new person, and the spiral gets out of control.

I really need to address a lot of this at a much earlier level than the jealousy. One way I could deal with these horrible and painful feelings is to try to control the relationships that my sweeties have with others. I could turn to monogamy, although that seems almost more doomed – surely if the only way your partner can make new connections with someone else is by leaving you, or having an illicit affair, that is worse not better? I totally understand that folks are monogamous for all sorts of reasons and I have as much right to judge them as they have to judge me in my consensual adult relationships – different strokes for different folks and all that. I’m just saying why I dismiss that option for myself, as it isn’t even going to nullify the jealousy for me.

So instead I’m trying to deal with my insecurities head on. I’m trying to live my life as fully and “me”ly as possible. And that way not only am I entirely unique (as we all are) and therefore incomparable to someone else, but even if the “worst” happens and a lover leaves me, at least my life has so much else going for it. And I get to have an awesome, meaningful, fulfilling and fun life on the way. How many wins is that? :D

But anyway, this post was titled poly lows and *highs* for a reason. Because randomly I was visiting some friends who are poly last night, and as the new person kissing thing was unfolding (my lover was keeping me informed as that is our agreement) not only was I able to share my feelings with folks who wouldn’t just say “well what do you expect being poly, of course your relationship is doomed if he’s getting together with someone else” but I got maybe my favourite part of polyness – cuddles. :) I don’t know if its because with monogamy comes a need to have explicit boundaries – this person I am in an exclusive relationship with, so that means that we don’t cross certain physical/emotional boundaries with anyone else – whereas non monogamy those set rules are not there and so they’re all up for negotiation and communication, but I have a lot of relationships which are pretty blurry and hard to define. I just don’t know if they would be allowed to develop at all within a monogamous framework, but maybe folks who are monogamous can comment on that.

I really really enjoy physical affection. Its almost like a hunger, that I’m not necessarily aware of building up until the relief and release of a good cuddle. And so when i got a message this morning saying that my lover had kissed this new girl, I was being held at the time by someone I could, with full awareness of the patheticness, ask “he’s not gonna leave me for this new girl is he?”and he held me and said “no he won’t because you’re awesome” and we just lay there. And then another poly person joined us for more snuggles and I just felt the warmth and affection and openness and caring and everything felt much more ok.

There’s no way I’d give up the connections, not necessarily sexual, that I have because I’m poly, because of the pain and self growth that non monogamy challenges me with. I might as well give up climbing mountains because my legs ache the next day. What would my life be like without the wild high places and wind in my hair? My legs will grow more muscular from the ascent and likewise my heart will strengthen. And if it doesn’t, why I’ll do what I do any time I feel raw and overwhelmed – I’ll endeavour to do gentle nourishing activities, and spend time with dear people and take some time off to recover.

Categories: diary, poly Tags: ,

Does your partner sometimes scare you? (TRIGGER WARNING : domestic abuse)

March 2, 2015 Leave a comment

 

How to read webpages without it being very easy for someone else to see what you’ve been looking at. ]

 

Bride beaten by new husband on their wedding night because he couldn’t get her dress off

Divorce: Amy has now filed to separate from Gavin

Divorce: Amy has now filed to separate from Gavin

Back in August, Amy was brutally assaulted by her new husband after he refused to take her advice on how to take off her wedding dress. Subsequently he’s got a pathetic community order and she’s filed for divorce and has moved on.

I stumbled across this story but something really stuck out to me :

In talking about their wedding day she states “It was a huge celebration full of friends and family, and I thought it would have been the fresh start we needed.” Fresh start … that seems an odd way to describe a celebration of finding a life partner. So why did they need this fresh start? Turns out that initially “[h]e was caring and loving, and when we found we were having baby, we were delighted.” But then she got pregnant and “almost straight away, Gavin became controlling and manipulative. It was like walking on eggshells.”

A midwife friend told me that pregnancy is a very common time for a relationship to begin to get abusive. I don’t know why, though I guess maybe its the increased vulnerability of the pregnant person that gives the abusive partner a feeling of safety in letting loose with their arseholery, feeling that now their pregnant partner is less able to do anything about it.

How do you know if your relationship is on the abusive spectrum? Here’s a list of some of the signs of abuse. If folks reading this have any additional thoughts or resources, maybe you could add them as a comment to this post?

Partner abuse is prevalent in all types of relationships, gay or straight, polyamorous or monogamous, vanilla or kinky, and with partners who might profess leftwing or feminist views. I’ve seen so many friends and acquaintances survive abusive relationships, and often before I knew, the relationship seemed perfectly normal from the outside. So, if I know you, and you have any feelings that your relationship is in any way abusive, please know that if you feel able to confide in me, I will take your words at face value. Even if I am friends with your partner, and they have always been super nice to me, I know that people act differently in different contexts and with different people. Please feel free to tell me that you need to talk with me about something and we can arrange a safe time and place to do that.

I’m aware that its easy to sit on the sidelines and observe a relationship that is abusive, but that part of the trap is to belittle and undermine you until the abuse is normalised into behaviour that you might even feel is what you deserve. Like Amy, maybe you feel that your partner will change. And maybe they will. But in the meantime maybe you should try talking it over with a helpline?

Are you worried about someone you know? I like these resources: love is respect which even includes a section at the bottom for if your friend is the one that’s being abusive and a surprise entry from Glamour magazine “The Exact Words That Could Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

Big love to everyone out there. x

My input on sex work and queer issues during last night’s #LSEanarchism panel

December 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Hey. This feels a bit weird/egotistical to write, as I don’t feel I’m the best at speaking and especially not writing (I’m not just being modest – there are things I kickass at! ;p ) and I’ve not come up with anything groundbreaking. I felt compelled to speak last night at LSE’s discussion on “Anarchism and Sexuality” because the panelists gave really interesting talks on historical Anarchists perspectives on sexuality, but a lot of views, particularly around sex work (looking at you Mujeres Libras!) are very dated and oppressive. Also questions came up around what contemporary Anarchists thought about campaigns for same sex marriage. Anyway, I gave a kind of nervous rant but folks seemed to like it and as the majority of those there last night (as least who spoke from the audience and who I spoke to afterwards) aren’t Anarchists and are interested in Anarchist ideas, I’m just writing roughly what I said.

On sex work, as was said during the talks, as Anarchists we believe struggles should be led by those affected, and so we have learned, especially from the sex workers within our own movements, that sex work is work, and not a unique case where “prostitutes” must be rescued from their degradation.

All work is degrading under capitalism. Why single out sex work, and ignore call centre workers, or those working in McDonalds or sweat shops? Under capitalism nobody really has freedom of choice, and our working conditions and the way we are treated is degrading. Those with truly socially important roles such as cleaning or care-work are looked down upon and undervalued.

Patriarchal views on sex are that, in hetero relations, the man (or top during same gender pairings) gains something, whilst the woman (or “bottom”) loses. This sexist garbage really colours social outlooks on sex work – whore shaming and rapes/other violent assaults on sex workers are the inevitable result. How much of our perception that sex work is inherently degrading comes from this? Do we view female sex workers, or rentboys in the same way as we think of gigolos? And there’s the ongoing double standard regarding males and females and the acceptability of casual sex.

To learn more I strongly recommend the Sex Workers Open University

The other thing I wanted to talk about was Anarchism and queer politics. We critique mainstream LGBTq obsessions with the pink pound and same-sex marriage as in large part being about sanitising queerness – “don’t be afraid, we’re not going to change social norms – we just want to be consumers and get married like the rest of you!” Apart from how this privileges certain LGTBTq folks over others – those who have money to spend and those who want monogamous relationships – its also irrelevant. Basic Anarchist principles are that you are free to do what you like, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. Why should we try to gain the acceptance of some mythical mainstream, when what we are doing doesn’t affect anyone else? Homophobia is not wrong because “look, we’re just like you”. We fight for freedom for all to live and love as they wish, straight or queer, monogamous or poly, kinky or vanilla, asexual, aromantic or celibate. As the panelists mentioned often same-sex marriage campaigns are driven even by those critical of bringing the state into the bedroom, because of how access to housing, pensions and insurance are dependent on marriage certificates – whereas actually housing etc should be available to all.

I think there’s another reason people, even Anarchists, choose to get married, and that’s as a marker of a life event. Celebrating stages in life, “hatches, matches and dispatches”, coming of age, and the changing seasons and years are meaningful to people. But the default ways of socially recognise such events, particularly important romantic/sexual relationships, is through a legal or religious marriage. Instead of criticising those who go down that route, we should find new ways of celebrating life events. We should evolve and create our own rituals and commemorations that recognise and honour relationships, rather than just the default of a state sanctioned wedding.

Anyway, that was pretty much what I said last night, I think. Afterwards folks wanted to know what groups I was involved with, where I’d learned so much and who was the “we” I referred to. The easy answer is that I’m in the Anarchist Federation, and in both the gender oppressed (women, trans*, nonbinary and anyone else who feels oppressed because of gender) and queer caucuses within that. But that’s just the formal answer. The real answer is that I have learned from living my life, and from doing so within communities that are also just getting on and doing it, trying things out, reflecting, chatting, listening and supporting. I guess I’m really lucky. We have formal meetings and discussions, but we also have long informal times, for example during the 7 month Free Hetherington occupation, or just whilst socialising with friends, and I feel that these are the most constructive. In a meeting, or worse at a “debate”, the goal is to win people over and sell a particular viewpoint. That doesn’t lead (imo) to learning or creating new ideas or philosophies together. For instance often we learn because of our fuckups – and its hard to share and collectively learn from those in a public meeting. Or getting pulled up on our shit, which we all have from our ongoing socialisation in a patriarchal, white supremacist culture. In informal settings we can play with ideas. The shy people find their voices. Those who feel they’re too new to contribute, ask questions and share their opinions, and blow the minds of the wise elders!

One reason I felt sheepish speaking last night and writing this today is because nothing I’ve said is cutting edge in the communities I inhabit. So I guess that’s the most important insight perhaps from Anarchism on sexuality; by prefiguring the society we want to live in, we learn and grow and develop as individuals and communities far more than any amount of theorising or formal lessons can do. Direct action means those who are oppressed taking initiatives that change the immediate conditions of their oppression. By creating queer spaces and communities we challenge heteronormativity by trying out queer ways of being in safe environments – these can include pride marches or more confrontational taking of spaces such as queer occupations of sites of homophobia. We don’t try to appeal to the Daily Mail with exhortations of how we were just born this way so please don’t blame us, but instead we boldly state that yes we reject patriarchal, heteronormative gender roles and relations. That our bodies, sexualities and gender presentations are ours to do with what we will. I think in doing this we also offer liberation to those who might still choose heterosexual, monogamous, vanilla life partnerships because at least know that that is your choice, that you are not compelled to do so, but followed rather what suited you and your partner best, and actually had those awesome conversations with them, and made it explicit. Just like vanilla people can learn from kinky people about consent, and monogamous people can learn from polyamory about talking through boundaries and working through jealousy. In the end, in an ideal Anarchist society, none of this would be remarkable. There will be no “queer Anarchism” just like we have no need for “blond haired Anarchism” – without oppression there is no need to develop specific organising around identity and we can all get on with our awesomely diverse and meaningful lives together.

Equal marriage poses no threat to professionals “freedom of speech”

October 9, 2012 1 comment

I assume nurses are included in those whose free speech is being argued to be under threat by same-sex marriage :

Carey argued that teachers, doctors and other professionals might be forced out of their jobs if they refused to embrace the proposed change to the law, an intolerant restriction on free speech

http://m.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/oct/08/archbishop-canterbury-gay-marriage-tory?cat=society&type=article

When working as a nurse, I don’t have the same right to free speech I have the rest of the time. Society has entrusted me with power and responsibility to care for people at their most vulnerable. Were Carey or Widdecombe to be my patients, I would not consider I have the “right” to tell them what I think of their oppressive ideas. When I have patients in who have jobs that I consider abhorrent, I do not let them know that. I’ve even given a bedbath to someone covered in nazi insignia – I made a believable excuse and left his room briefly when I saw it to cover my shock and horror. Then I regained my professional mask, put my personal values and Jewish identity away, and I think treated him as well as I treat every other patient requiring my care. That is what I require of myself as a nurse – that I do not abuse the power that I have been given. Patients rights to autonomy, dignity and respect outweigh my rights to free speech. I would not carry out a procedure that I consider unethical, but I would not insist on doing something that I consider in the “patient’s best interests” if they have refused consent. Their rights outweigh mine – they are vulnerable and under my power and I have agreed to be tasked with looking after them. I am not there to push my own agenda; my patients require me to help them with their agenda. It would be an abuse of what I have been tasked to do to claim my right to free speech meant I could refuse to recognise a patients same-sex spouse.

Getting married currently could be considered to be oppressive, because those getting wedded are taking advantage of heterosexism and monogamous privilege* but that would not give me the right to refuse to recognise that my patients are married.

The anti equality crowd have decided to adopt the same language of “protecting rights” in order to try and paint their increasingly retrogressive views as in keeping with the language and stated values of the political class and modern society. It reminds me of an abuser trying to claim that they have the right to safe space too and to not be challenged on their abuse as it is upsetting for them. It is an attempt to defend oppression with rhetorical devices and twisting logic around to try to turn themselves into the victims. But they are not victims defending rights to free speech, they are oppressors trying to shore up a system of privilege. That the only way they can defend this is with weak and false appeals to the “right to free speech of professionals” shows how empty their case really is.

* I do not consider those getting married oppressive, but I do consider the system oppressive.