My partner's first polyamorous relationship began with a ten day trip to South America. Was this excessive?

My partner came out as polyamorous three years into our five year monogamous relationship. He just returned from his first visit to see a new partner who lives in South America, so my first experience [with polyamory] was him being gone for ten days. It was excruciating. I managed his homecoming and subsequent discussions, but now am left wondering what are reasonable time/frequency asks for future partner visits. Suggestions?

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So, let me get this straight.

You and your partner have been together for five years. Three years in, your partner told you he was polyamorous. Fast forward two years, and he’s just now engaging in his first polyamorous relationship...which is also a transnational relationship...and the first time he spent any time with said new partner involved him going to South America for ten days?

What the hell have you two been doing for the past two years?!

Not only am I genuinely curious, reader, but there’s such a lack of information available here that I’m concerned I can’t give you the quality of personalized advice you’re looking for!

Questions I’m dying to ask you include:

  • What was your relationship with your partner like prior to him coming out as polyamorous? How was your sex life? When you did disagree or argue, what themes or topics repeatedly came up, if any?

  • How did your partner come out to you? Was it under duress, or by his own volition? Where was he in his polyamorous journey? Had he simply heard the word “polyamorous” and felt something click, or was this an identity that he’d been devoting intentional time and energy towards researching and fleshing out? Had he already encountered someone he was interested in pursuing, or was the discussion of future partners purely hypothetical?

  • How did that initial coming out conversation end? Did your partner give you an ultimatum, threatening to end the relationship if it didn’t automatically “evolve” to fit his newly-articulated needs, or was he genuinely invested in working through this as a team?

  • If you both consented to exploring non-monogamy at some point, what did that look like? What boundaries, negotiations, and communication strategies did you decide upon?

  • Do you personally have any organic interest in pursuing non-monogamy? If so, what about it is attractive to you? If not, what are your biggest fears and concerns? Does your partner know about those fears and concerns? Do you have other people in your life who you can engage in open and honest dialogues with regarding non-monogamy, or do you feel isolated and unsupported?

Do you see what I mean when I reference “missing information”? However befuddled I may be, however, it’s not my intention to leave you hanging. So I’m going to make a bunch of assumptions, and then give you my two cents based on those assumptions.

Let’s assume that when your partner came out to you, it didn’t go well. Because it didn’t go well, you both delayed opening up the relationship for a significant amount of time. I’m not sure how your partner met his South American beau, but let’s also assume that for accessibility-related reasons, the only option for in-person interaction was for your partner to visit them (as opposed to the other way around). And he expected you to be cool with it.

Sounds SUPER unrealistic.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The most successful non-monogamous relationships are ones born from a place of mutual trust, security, and stability. They’re relationships that are slowly and intentionally built from the ground up, rather than ones people dive into headfirst with - or without! - the support of their preexisting partner. Non-monogamy starts with baby steps, and traveling to South America for ten days is NOT a baby step. Here’s how things SHOULD have been rolled out:

  • Your partner realizes he has a connection with someone in South America.

  • He communicates this to you in a timely and compassionate way. He encourages you to be forthcoming with your feelings, and does an excellent job listening. You consent to him pursuing a remote relationship with this person, with the goal of signing off on some in-person time down the road.

  • In the following weeks or months, you and your partner spend a lot of intentional time together. A third of it is bonding time (connecting emotionally, physically, and/or sexually), a third of it is mutual research (giving yourselves “homework” while becoming “students” of non-monogamy), and a third of it is time devoted to checking in on the situation between you, your partner, and your now-metamour. Some conversations are more “successful” than others, but you both keep coming back to the mutual love, respect, and devotion you have for each other.

  • You both also work to find non-monogamy community outside of one another - whether it be IRL or within online forums - so that you have alternative resources and sounding boards when you need them.

  • Finally, the time comes to coordinate an in-person meeting between your partner and his South American beau. You negotiate a long weekend to start. You discuss what self care strategies you’ll be utilizing while he’s away, as well as what the communication expectations will be for his trip (e.g. Do you want him to Facetime you once a day and keep texting channels open? Are you comfortable with texting only? Do you want those communications to be full of love and reassurance, information about what him and his partner are up to, or none of the above?).

  • When he returns, you schedule ample time to review how you both felt about the trip, what could be done differently, what worked really well, etc. Based on this conversation, you both decide to move forward, scale back, or pull the plug entirely. (Note: It sounds like this WAS part of your process, so good on you!)

Hopefully you can use the above framework to assist in arranging any future trips with more intentionality and care!

My partner deemed me "unsafe" and broke up with me after a threesome. What did I do wrong?

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I just got dumped after I expressed hurt feelings surrounding a threesome that my play partner arranged for my birthday. The morning of, I was told to book the room for her and this new guy to stay in afterwards. I was hurt that I wasn’t invited to be part of the afterwards or even breakfast the next morning. I explained to her that made me feel left out and sabotaged my ability to enjoy the experience (despite going through with it and sucking my first male cock for her). She told me I am an “unsafe bottom” for my failure to communicate. What does that mean and what can I do to correct it? Is there anywhere I can read about this or educate myself more?


Happy Birthday! I got you...a break up?

I too had a failed birthday threesome once, dear reader. My lovely primary partner at the time got a bit overzealous about making the celebratory evening “one to remember”. Unbeknownst to me, they drunkenly roped two of my other [new and extremely submissive] play partners into coming home with us. When we arrived, my primary handcuffed me to the bed, stepped back proudly, and encouraged my other partners to “Go get ‘er!” Both of their faces froze in anxious bewilderment as their eyes turned to mine, silently begging me to tell them what to do. Feeling obligated to see the sex through, I ended up ordering my hands free and then topped the entire awkward experience from the bottom. No relationships ended afterwards, thank goodness, but my primary definitely got a talking-to about threesome protocol moving forward!

I feel for you, and I’m genuinely sorry to hear about your experience. Let me do my best to try and break down where things went wrong.

First, it seems as though you were in a D/S (Dominant/Submissive) relationship with the ex in question. I LOVE D/S play, but one of my biggest relationship pet peeves is when folks use D/S dynamics to mask toxic behavior. From the information you provided me with, your ex sounds like she may be one of those people. Her telling you that you’re an “unsafe bottom” after a communication mishap - that both of you are equally responsible for - is a way for her to waive any personal accountability for what occurred. It’s also gaslighting. Second, instead of rewarding you for coming to her after the threesome and opening up honestly about what didn’t work for you, she punishes you by ending the relationship. In addition to ensuring that any blame for your dissatisfaction fell exclusively on you, her response was also massively disproportionate to the situation at hand. It did NOT warrant her breaking things off.

What SHOULD have happened: When your ex decided to gift “you” a threesome for your birthday (“you” is in quotations because it also very much feels as though it was SHE who wanted the threesome and saw an excuse - with your birthday fast approaching - to indulge), she was responsible for opening up a conversation about it PRIOR to anything going down. You both should have thoroughly discussed your preferences and boundaries (safe sex practices, who would be doing what to whom, safe words, aftercare plans, what future contact with the third person would look like moving forward, etc) to ensure that everyone was on the same page, as well as to set everyone involved up for maximum success and pleasure! She obviously failed to initiate said dialogue, and now, moving forward, you know better than to wait for your Dom to do so. Instead, make sure that you’re always prioritizing communication, even in the early stages of planning something new and intimate. If a Dom ever chastises you for wanting to communicate MORE, that person is not someone you want to be playing with.

I’m not just talking about pre-play communication, however. If you’re going to continue to engage in D/S dynamics, you need to feel empowered enough in your play to utilize your safeword(s) mid-scene if something isn’t feeling right. These can be verbal or nonverbal safewords. If I’m topping a submissive, whether for BDSM or for sex, I have to be able to trust that my submissive a) Has enough physical and emotional intuition to sense when something is “off”, and b) Won’t hesitate to communicate that to me, no matter how “deep” we are in the scene and/or how much I appear to be enjoying myself. Sometimes folks who struggle with communication would rather silently accept a situation that becomes uncomfortable, painful, triggering, or otherwise unpleasant because they feel ashamed that they “can’t handle it” and/or reluctant to “ruin the good time”. These are very human emotions; they also need to be pushed through in order to engage in safe, consensual play.

The next time you find yourself gravitating towards a dominant play partner (or ANY play partner, really!), be certain to lay out your past communication challenges and experiences at the onset. That way you two can begin brainstorming healthy ways to help hold you accountable to your commitment of increased communication, not only before and after scenes, but DURING. Regarding your ex, I’d consider her decision to end the relationship to be your REAL birthday present. Best of luck to you!


Guest Contributor Edition: "A Letter to My Metamour"

It may be an "off" week for the advice column, but I recently came across an extraordinary piece of writing on social media that I could not not share with you all. 

One of the most frequent observations made about my #polyamfam is the fact that my partners all have relationships with one another in addition to their relationships with me. I don't mean that they all date or sleep with one another, but they all get along, can share space with each other, and are invested in each other's well being. That being said, one of the most frequent questions I field is something along the vein of "How do I build and sustain a relationship with my metamour?". And there's a BIG reason for that!

Building a relationship with one's metamour - if desired or expected - is one of the most difficult parts of non-monogamy. In the process of shedding the societal scripts of monogamy that have been bred into us by our culture, automatically assuming nefarious intent of those interested in our partner(s) is one of the hardest lessons to unlearn. Getting rid of the idea that a person who has intimate feelings for a partner of ours' must be "violating" or "disrespecting" us with their "manipulations" or "duplicity" often involves a stark facing of our own insecurities, a process of working through competitive impulses, and a conscious effort to get to know your metamour(s) not as looming shadowy figures waiting to "steal" our partner(s), but as HUMAN BEINGS.

But how do you initiate a relationship with your metamour?

The letter below (shared with permission) was written by a woman who - despite having eight years of non-monogamy experience under her belt - had been deeply struggling with how to "break the ice" with a new metamour. It's so authentically raw, genuine, honorable, and heartfelt that I wanted to share it as a model for future folks to utilize if/when they find themselves in similar circumstances. I especially love that the author is comfortable acknowledging her vulnerability and that she openly admits to struggling despite this being FAR from her first rodeo. Goes to show that non-monogamy is a lifelong process.  I hope you find it as beautiful and precious as I did. 

Love,

Andre


Hello Metamour,

I don’t know how familiar you are with polyamory, so in case you don’t know, I’d like to explain the idea of a metamour. Literally it means "a love of a love", but in the poly community it refers to a partner’s partner. Because you matter to my girlfriend, you automatically matter to me. And I want to welcome you.

I met you in person, and I appreciate your respect and kindness towards me. I noticed when you and my girlfriend were flirting, and you would pass me by and reach your hand out to squeeze mine. It helped remind me I still mattered and existed, in a space where I was struggling at times to feel secure in watching the great chemistry between you two. I noticed how positively you engaged with me and asked me questions about myself. I was also glad to learn tidbits about you too. You make a stellar first impression. I think you are beautiful, kind, passionate, joyful, and do meaningful work in this world. I absolutely understand why my girlfriend is drawn to you. I have not yet had a positive ongoing relationship with a metamour, as the few experiences in my past did not go well or last long for a variety of reasons. However, I would really like to have a positive relationship with you.

I don’t know if you share similar fears or insecurities of mine that a person we care about shares time and energy between us. Perhaps you are not fazed. Perhaps you feel compersion consistently ("compersion", if it’s new to you, is the idea of feeling joy at another’s joy, where one feels happy their partner is happy with someone else. It’s often thought of as the opposite of jealousy).

Without asking a lot of emotional labor from you, I would like to give you a glimpse into where I am at, with the hopes that it brings you an awareness to some tender places in my heart and an understanding of my commitments to support your and my girlfriends’ budding relationship. Sometimes I’ve felt scared, lonely, or insecure when my girlfriend told me she was going to spend time away from our home to see you. Or when I saw you two having so much fun together at that party. I recognize that these fears and insecurities are mine to own, and my areas of growth for more self-love.

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I want you to know that while I feel scared, I am incredibly intentional not to tell my girlfriend what she can or cannot do. She is her own person and I only have control over my choices. So I commit to you that I will do my personal work to work through my fears and insecurities, so that I do not dampen the light that shines from my girlfriend when she’s glowing about you.

Other times, I get to a beautiful place of compersion, where it feels good to hear stories about you and to feel my girlfriend’s interest in you beam out of her body. She likes you and I like to see her happy. I am grateful in anticipation of what you two will learn together, enjoy together, and how those positive effects will trickle into her relationship with me. I would like to feel these feelings more often, so as I said, I’m committed to doing my personal work to get there. I also would like to express an interest in getting to spend some more time with you. I am interested in having a positive connection with you, but I think you are a lot scarier as an unknown in my head than you are in real life (as if you could really be scary at all). 

So if you have interest and availability, I would be honored to spend a couple hours sharing time with you and my girlfriend, preferably in a social space. I think it would help my process of feeling trust with you and ease some of my fears that have built up over time with past pains that have actually nothing to do with you but impact my fears about you anyway.

So, I hope you hear me that I don’t think you have anything you need to prove, and you don’t owe me time. I would consider it a gift and a peace offering, to help me feel more ease. Because I fiercely want to support you and my girlfriend being together. I know that you have wonderful offerings of care, adventure, and joy that will benefit her and help her feel whole. I know I cannot offer her everything, and I would never expect to be the only person she needs to feel happy. I think you and I have the potential to know each other in a very sweet way.

I hope you and I can tenderly connect in support of my support of your and her relationship. I also understand if my request does not feel like something you are interested or available to honor, and I welcome your no. If we were to spend time together, I would want it to feel good to you too, and not come from a sense of obligation. I would be honored by a reply to know how this message lands with you, regardless of whether or not you’d like to meet.

Blessings and Gratitude.


How open should I be to the possibility of dating both a mother and her daughter?

I have been flirting with a woman in her 30s and we have been planning some kinky play. I also have a thing for her mother (who is in her 50s) and have done some light kinky play with her. Both are cool with me playing with each separately, but I’m still feeling a bit uneasy. Is this just social conditioning coming at me?

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Here I am trying to roll gently back into columnist mode after a two month hiatus, but nooooo, you all wouldn’t want to give me an EASY question, would you? THAT WOULD JUST BE WAY TOO KIND. Well strap yourself in folks, because I never back down from a challenge!

Your situation is more like “traditional” polyamory and kink than you’d immediately think. On a base level, you’re walking into a pre-existing dynamic. Look at it as though you were interested in a woman who had other established play partners active in her life, and you’re the shiny new toy (or the woman is the shiny new toy, or you’re BOTH shiny new toys...whatever, you get it). You’d want to do your due diligence in respecting how these people are connected, observing how they communicate and interact with one another, and just generally taking the overall temperature of the dynamics involved before making the decision to integrate yourself.

I never thought I’d use any of my mother’s advice in my column, but it seems an appropriate time to do so, so here it goes: Trust your gut. You have my permission to decline this particular arrangement without passing judgment on these women’s boundaries (or therefore lack of); you can also put your decision to play with the daughter on hold until you get to know both of these women better. I’m telling you, a false sense of immediacy has been the death of many a dynamic with great potential!

If you want to continue to push past your uneasiness and I can’t convince you otherwise, I would advise you to schedule a meal with both women, with the explicit caveat that the evening NOT devolve into anything physical, or even flirtatious. In fact, establish a set time that you “must” leave by, and go easy on the wine at dinner. Look, I don’t know that these women aren’t going to entice you into some incestual shit, and frankly, neither do you.

Then, be up front with them. Unpack your uneasiness, including how you’re wavering between the “appropriateness” of it all vs accepting your unease as a construct of social and sexual conditioning. Ask them questions about their relationship with one another. What was their relationship like prior to them coming out to each other as kinky? What motivated them to do so? Have they ever shared a play partner before, or are you the first one? Have they discussed what their boundaries would be between one another?


Examples of good questions could be:

  • Are they comfortable sharing public space with you together?
     

  • What level of conversational disclosure would they observe in terms of discussing you with each other?
     

  • How do they imagine scheduling individual time with you would work?



Examples of red flags could be:

  • If they're living together
     

  • If they aren't financially independent from one another
     

  • If you sense any kind of competitive vibe between them


Have a list of your own personal boundaries on hand to run by them (and remember, those boundaries are allowed to fluctuate and be edited over time!). Talk about how private or public you all feel comfortable being with your connections to one another, and how to handle scrutiny from the outside. Finally, if applicable, talk about safe(r) sex practices.

If it seems like a hell of a lot of labor, that’s because it is. And if you’re already thinking, “This is WAY too much work!”, well, then you have your answer.

This is the first - and potentially last - time in the history of this column that I’ll make this request, but to satiate the curiosity of everyone reading this: PLEASE write back and tell us how it all worked out! I’m already on the edge of my seat...

$EX WORKER APPAREL IS BACK ON PRE-SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Back by popular demand! Our second pre-sale is open until MONDAY AUGUST 20TH!

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As a response to the passing of SESTA-FOSTA on Wednesday April 11th, 2018, I began working closely with Hand of Glory Printing - an independent, sweatshop-free custom printing service - to create a limited line of pro-sex work apparel for both sex workers and allies alike! Together we created a number of shirt designs to encourage more dialogues about the sex industry (and, subsequently, to encourage decriminalization and destigmatization). The shirts were such a raging success the first time around that we decided to run another pre-sale!

Not familiar with SESTA-FOSTA? Here are some great pieces to read as homework:

Congress just legalized sex censorship: What to know

The New Law That Puts Transgender Sex Workers in Danger

Pimps Are Preying on Sex Workers Pushed Off the Web Because of FOSTA-SESTA

Now, more than ever, it is imperative for our allies to stand up and get LOUD. To remind those in their networks - as well as their legislators - that sex workers are HUMAN BEINGS who should be listened to and believed when it comes to what would make their industry safer, and what wouldn't. To remind them that sex work is LEGITIMATE LABOR. To remind them that CONSENTING, ADULT-AGED SEX WORK should NOT be tragically conflated with NON-CONSENSUAL TRAFFICKING OF OFTEN UNDERAGE VICTIMS. To show the sex workers in your life that you're ready to put your money where your mouth is.

Place your order(s) NOW via my Slut Shop, and email my directly at ms.andre.shakti@gmail.com to inquire about a 25% off accessibility discount! 

My girlfriend just got into sex work; does this mean we have to be non-monogamous? | I'm Poly and So Can You

My girlfriend and I have been together for a little over a year, and by far it's the happiest, healthiest relationship I've been in. I'd never dated a sex worker before, but I trust her to make good decisions, and it's her body, her choice. What I DIDN'T take into account was whether or not I'd feel jealous about her interactions with other men (I'm a straight guy). We're otherwise monogamous, and recently she suggested opening up the relationship - allowing ME to see other people - to help ease my jealousy. Help!

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