Q:I would be very interested to hear more about “Parallel Polyamory” and how that actually works in an ethical and compassionate way.
A: Gladly! I have been in a relationship structured this way for 31 years. My nesting partner and I date separately; our other partners know about each other, but don’t necessarily interact, and we don’t come together as one big group… well, ever.
So long as information is flowing, it works. There is no reason to force my partners to be friends with each other, or for them to come to know my metamours. They form the relationships that they want to, because each person is the center of their own poly constellation. They are aware of the whole thing, and can thus make informed decisions about how to participate.
For some people, kitchen table poly, focused on the group, is a preferred way to go. There can be a comfort in a large, warm, connected set of relationships. Parallel poly, on the other hand, focuses on the autonomy of each individual and their ability to form whatever relationship they want, independent of the others. It can certainly work for those so inclined.
Yes, it is a bit confusing from a geometric perspective. But the parallel part refers to a couple – as in, “I am dating and YOU are dating, but WE are not dating as a unit.” Think of it more like the electrical conception of parallel circuits rather than the geometric one. In a serial circuit, all the bulbs are connected in sequence, so they all have to light before the last one can go on. (Ask anyone who has tried to fix old-fashioned Christmas lights.)
In a parallel circuit, one is not dependent on the others. It gets its own power and can connect to any of the others or none. And so it is with parallel poly; it’s a different way to light your tree.
When your birthday-eve dream is of being dominated into relaxation, it might suggest that life needs a little rearranging. (Proper self-care shouldn’t require force majeure.)
Sexuality is usually portrayed in the mainstream media as sensational or tawdry or some combination of the above. That’s why it’s rewarding to note the exceptions.
NPR broadcast an unusually mature and thoughtful discussion of polyamory today (not surprising, given some of the panelists.) If you want to peek into how it really works, as opposed to some of the “reality” TV versions, give a listen here: https://the1a.org/audio/#/shows/2019-02-18/polyamory/116911/@00:00
“Hey, baby, are you an unobligated appropriation? Because there’s a national emergency in my pants.“
There are a lot of challenges in maintaining multiple relationships. One of the trickier bits, it seems to me, is when partners’ needs for intimacy and presence don’t match.
I am not someone who needs regular in-person time to maintain a feeling of intimacy. (If I were, my long-distance relationships would be impossible.) By contrast, one of my local partners needs time every few days to maintain that familiarity.
That could work out fine if your constellation of relationships includes people with different time requirements. But if they all need frequent in-person time to maintain the relationship, you’re going to wind up polysaturated much sooner. And if you are someone who needs frequent time, choosing partners with fewer existing commitments becomes a must.
If someone else needs more time than you do, they can seem greedy. If someone wants to give less time than you think you need, they can feel distant.
Everyone has different abilities to give time and different requirements for having it. And those abilities and requirements can change as other parts of their life change. Managing those different needs within the amount of time available is one of the most challenging parts of polyamory.
Today is the annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Can you believe we need a day for this?
For the moment, set aside the idea that every day, we should end violence against anybody. That goes without saying.
But violence directed at those whose role in life is to provide a basic human need is beyond bizarre. We don’t find unusual rates of violence against those in the food service industry, or those who sell mattresses and bedding. Those needs are somehow seen as different. But a world in which touch is sinful is a world that does not recognize what it means to be human.
That’s worth remembering, today and every day.
PS — This especially resonates in the context of the current crackdowns on expressions of sex positivity, most vividly today on Tumblr, but also on Facebook and through payment providers. Even FetLife. That suppression is another way of telling people that sensuality, physicality, and basic human touch are wrong and should be hidden. Little wonder, then, why people feel free to commit violence against the providers thereof.
To keep track of my travel, I use TripIt, an app that helpfully brings all my plans together in one place.
Recently, they introduced a new feature – safety ratings for one’s destinations. Today, however, they upgraded that to include specific ratings for LGBTQ safety in neighborhoods around the world.
It’s a shame that such a thing is needs to exist, but kudos to them for thinking of it. Now, let’s all keep working to help make it obsolete.
(Their pitch here: http://bit.ly/2QrB33I)
It’s an increasingly challenging time to be an adult on social media. Facebook’s new community guidelines and Tumblr’s elimination of all adult content promise to limit open discussion of common topics, sharing safety information, and building community. And these are but the most recent restrictions.
These moves aren’t a surprise. Rather, they are the logical consequence of two recently-passed laws in the U.S. Known as SESTA and FOSTA, these acts ostensibly intended to curb sex trafficking, but were accidentally or deliberately written so broadly that they appear to make normal adult conversations actionable.
Moreover, these laws make social media sites responsible for the content their users post. Because of that responsibility, the Facebooks and Verizon/Oath/Tumblrs of the world are suddenly more vulnerable to legal action — and their response is to protect themselves through the recent changes of policy. But that new legal responsibility means that petitions and other traditional pressures are unlikely to have even their usual effect.
Fortunately, someone is doing something to make a difference — to change the underlying laws that have led us to this chilling situation. The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, long an advocate for adults’ rights, is leading a group of plaintiffs suing the government to get those laws rolled back.
Of course, fighting the government isn’t easy. They’ve got some backing, but this effort promises to be long and difficult. I’m helping the good guys trying to defend and restore your rights; if you can help too, please do. The cavalry is coming, but they need our support.
Back them here: https://www.woodhullfoundation.org. And thank you.
The difference between “I want you to be mine“ and “I want to be with you” is profound, even if the latter is harder to fit on a candy heart.
This guest post comes from the soon-to-be sexual wasteland known as Tumblr. HypnoBunny is a presenter on and practitioner of erotic (and other kinds of) hypnosis. But she has written a fine disquisition on the male member that I am leery of reprinting in its entirety, but which you can read >>>here<<<. It’s an appreciation that people of any gender can enjoy. I know I do!
Just for the record, I do not have “female-presenting nipples.” I present my nipples to interested and consenting adults regardless of their gender.
Yours, making a clean breast of it,