Guest columnist Nolan Lawless lends a concerned high school student a polyamorous assist!

I'm a male high school student who found this column through a Google search, and I need some help. I've been casually seeing this girl in my grade who I'm really into, but the problem is that I think I'm polyamorous. I live in a rural area and I haven't really had anyone to talk about this with, and while I'd love to bring up an open relationship to the girl I like, I'm afraid she's just going to think that I want to cheat on her. How do I have a conversation about this with someone who hasn't really had that much relationship experience to begin with - let alone non-monogamous experience - without it going badly?

   Would Cory and Topanga made it as a non-monogamous couple, I wonder?

Would Cory and Topanga made it as a non-monogamous couple, I wonder?

This is the second in a new series of advice columns written by professionals in the field of alternative relationships here at “I Am Poly(amorous) & So Can You!” . I hope you enjoy these fresh, intersectional new perspectives on evolving non-monogamous relationships!


Broaching the subject of non-monogamy in a monogamy-focused society is always complicated, and being in a rural area complicates it further. Getting from where you are in your relationship to where you'd like to be requires confronting multiple obstacles. We're going to look at them one at a time, and make a roadmap the two of you can follow.

1) Make sure your partner knows that non-monogamy exists

The first obstacle is a simple one of information, namely, is your partner aware of what non-monogamy is? Traditionally, monogamy is presented as the one and only option for relationships, so presenting an alternative requires even acknowledging that another choice exists. Fortunately, non-monogamy is having a bit of a cultural moment, so opening the discussion is easier than ever. Netflix, in particular, has programs that touch on polyamory in almost every genre, from Sense8 to She's Gotta Have It to Wanderlust, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Find a program that features a relationship that looks like what you would like to have, then sit down with your partner and watch it together. Which brings us to...

2) Find out how your partner feels about non-monogamy as a concept

The concepts of monogamy are central to many aspects of traditional Western society, so many people react with anger or anxiety to learning that some people live and love in non-monogamous ways. You may be tempted to immediately follow whatever show or film the two of you watch together with "so, what do you think about that?" Resist that urge. If you have the discussion right then, you will very likely get a negative reaction as your partner struggles to readjust their worldview to include non-monogamous options. Instead, give them some time to process what they've seen, then bring up what you watched the next time you get together. Ask them if they had ever heard of relationships like that before, and let the conversation flow from there. Avoid asking if your partner would consider a relationship like that, because they will almost certainly have a lot of unanswered questions, so...

3) Do research together

As I mentioned earlier, non-monogamy is finally having its moment, so there are numerous resources (like this column!) to learn more about what non-monogamy is, how people practice it, terminology, and the like. This is the place to address concerns like whether opening a relationship is a license to cheat. You've already done your Google research, so let your partner drive this round. Resist the urge to steer them, and instead be supportive of their journey. At some point, something that they come across will lead to...

4) Finding out how your partner feels about being non-monogamous

The moment of truth: can your partner see themselves in a non-monogamous relationship? You, of course, know the answer that you want them to give, but what matters is the answer they actually give. They may find through their research that the idea resonates with them, they may feel like it would be something to try out for a while, or they may not think that it's right for them. If you don't want things to end badly, the most important thing is to respect their answer. Period. Coercing, guilting, threatening, ultimatums, etc. will only make things much worse in the long run. If your partner says that they can't see themselves in a non-monogamous relationship, then you have decisions to make about what you want to do, but you can only decide for yourself. Your partner's decision is their own. (A note: sometimes, your partner hasn't had enough time to fully wrap their mind around the concept at this point, so don't be surprised if their answer to this question changes multiple times in the early days of opening up. That is another column all to itself!)

In short, dear reader. the best thing you can do is to help facilitate the same journey for your partner that you yourself have gone on. If you aren't pushy, you will be a part of educating the world about non-monogamy, you will earn your partner's trust by respecting their journey and their needs on that journey, and at the end you may find the relationship that you hope to have. The best of luck to you, and thank you for writing!


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Nolan Lawless is a Licensed Professional Counselor, sex educator, public speaker, and polyamory advocate. He has presented across the United States and Canada on alternative sexuality and alternative relationship models, both to professional and community audiences. Nolan is owner of Mount Scott Counseling in Lawton, Oklahoma, where he provides clinical services to a diverse range of clients, including many in non-traditional or non-monogamous relationships. His current focus is on increasing the number of polyamory-informed professionals in the Bible Belt, and he coordinates and teaches continuing education workshops for mental health workers about working with non-monogamous clients.

Guest Columnist Ariel Vegosen tackles being home for the holidays when you're polyamorous!

Help! The holidays are fast approaching, and I'm stuck. I practice non-hierarchical polyamory and this is the first holiday season I get to celebrate with both of my current partners. I have a tepid relationship with my family, and while they know about both of my partners, they've never met either of them. Additionally, I've never brought more than one partner home at the same time before. The three of us want to give it a go, and my family isn't outwardly combating the idea, but I'm still worried that I'm leading my loves into a lion's den. How do I adequately "prepare" both my family and my partners for the occasion ahead?

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This is the first in a brand new series of advice columns written by professionals in the field of alternative relationships here at “I Am Poly(amorous) & So Can You!” . I hope you enjoy these fresh, intersectional new perspectives on evolving non-monogamous relationships!

Congrats on taking this big step of bringing your partners home for the holidays! I have created a two-part guide to help in this process – this first part is how to prepare your partners and the second part is how to prepare your family.

Preparing Your Partners

  • Sit down with your partners and check in about what their needs are for the holiday and share your needs as well. Find out what they desire, expect, and would like out of their holiday experience and share yours as well.  For example: how much time do they expect to spend with your family verse time with just you? Do your partners need one on one time with you? What are their needs around sleeping arrangements? Do you all plan to stay at your family’s house and if so is your family putting you all in one room? Is your family’s house a place you can all get down/be comfortable having sex? If not and sex is part of your holiday needs how can you make this a reality? Remember to also share your needs, expectations, and desires so that everyone is clear about each other’s and you can be clear about what is possible and what is not possible.

  • Let your partners know how you relate to your family and the style of communication your family uses. For example: let your partners know if your family is loud and if talking over each other is normal and part of how they communicate or if your family is more reserved and interrupting would be seen as rude. Let your partners know if you only see some of your family members once a year and who are the members of the family you are really close to. Tell your partners if your family might say something unacceptable, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, classist, ect. Let your partners know the politics of your family and if it is ok or not ok to talk about politics at the dinner table. Create a plan for how to navigate if your family is likely to say something offensive to your partners. You know your family best. Is speaking up going to be effective? Is leaving the room a better plan? Is simply saying that a statement is not ok and then moving on going to work? Tell your partners in advance what they can expect from your family and what method of response is most effective.

  • Decide with your partners how much you want to share with your family about your relationship. If your family is new to poly people they might have a lot of questions. Before you arrive you and your partners should decide how much educating you want to do and how much sharing of personal information you want to do. Talk to your partners about what information should and should not be shared with your family

  • Tell your partners what you will need if you are triggered by your family. Tell your partners how they can support you if your family is getting on your nerves or pushing your boundaries.

  • Tell your partners about your family’s eating habits. Should your partners be bringing a certain dish or wine or are there family members who are in AA. Is your family all about eating meat or are they vegetarian? Is it mandatory to eat Aunt Martha’s mashed potatoes even though they don’t taste good?

  • Tell your partners about your family’s religion if they have one. Will there be “grace” before the meal? Is there a chance your partners spiritual practices and the practices of your family will clash? If so, prepare your partners for this possibility.

  • Build in self-care for you and your partners.  Create time in the holiday that is fun and nourishing and about you three having a great time.

Preparing Your Family

  • Remind your family that you are non-hierarchical poly and what that means to you. Since they have never seen you with both your partners they might not actually understand what poly means and what it means specifically to you.

  • Ask your family what they expect, desire, and need from you this holiday season and share what you expect, desire, and need from them. For example: you can say that you need them not to make offensive comments and to respect your lifestyle choices. They might need you to show up on time or listen to stories you have already heard multiple times. Be clear on what you each are thinking so there is no confusion.

  • Remind your family of your partners names and pronouns and how important it is to get that correctly.

  • Tell your family if your partners have food restrictions or a different spirituality/religion than the family. Ask the family to respect those needs and differences.

  • Remind your family that by bringing home your partners you are giving them an opportunity to be closer to you and to connect to the people in your life who are important.

Hope this guide helps you have an enjoyable home for the holiday experience!

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Ariel Vegosen is a professional sex educator, relationship coach, creator of Poly Excellent curriculum and classes, inclusivity and diversity expert, performance artist, workshop facilitator, public speaker, Priestess extraordinaire, liberation advocate, writer, and consultant.  Ariel is a co-creator and member of the Sexual Liberation Collective (sexualliberationcollective.com) and the founder of Gender Illumination (www.genderillumination.com) an organization dedicated to creating gender liberation. Ariel’s new website polyexcellent.com is coming soon!  Ariel is proud to be kinky, queer, gender-blended and available for workshops, performing, teaching, coaching, and speaking engagements. Contact: ariel@genderillumination.com.

How do I help my love interest talk to her wife about opening up?

How do I help my love interest talk to her wife about opening up? Should I offer to talk to her wife, to let her ask me questions and reassure her as needed? What role can I play in initiating and supporting them in this process? I don’t want to give her an ultimatum, but I want her to be open and honest with her wife. Right now, she’s not. So what boundaries should I set until she speaks up? Or, how do I dial back emotional involvement without it being an ultimatum?

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In talking about “ultimatums” within the context of a romantic and sexual relationship, I often underline how unhealthy the practice of threatening your partner to conform to your needs - or get lost - can be, particularly if the ultimatum accompanies some new and unexpected information for one of the people involved. Within non-monogamy specifically, very rarely do both members of a monogamous relationship come to the idea of non-monogamy together. More often one partner admits to either a general curiosity about non-monogamy, or admits to harboring intimate feelings for another person outside of the monogamous commitment.

To be the initiator of such a dialogue, you must anticipate that your partner is, at the very least, going to take some time to “warm up” to this new information. That this new information may make them feel confused, insecure, vulnerable, angry, upset, sad, or defensive, and their feelings are just as valid as yours’. To then turn and tell them that they can either “get with the program or get out the door” is not only selfish and insensitive, but it communicates to your partner that they’re disposable. That what you share together is, and perhaps always has been, disposable.

In these situations, yes, I strongly advise against introducing an ultimatum. Because even if your partner AGREES to said ultimatum, they are not doing so consensually. They are doing so under duress, and at that point the ultimatum becomes synonymous with emotional abuse.

Example: If someone were to ask me if I could abandon a helpless puppy on the side of the road, I would say absolutely not. If that same person then told me that if I didn’t abandon that puppy, they would visit the home of my best friend and stab her, well, then, I would ask them where exactly they wanted the puppy dropped. Despite eventually submitting to the task, few would appraise the situation and determine I had done so of my own free will.

But here’s the thing, reader. While ultimatums can be disastrous for preexisting partnerships, what you presently have with this woman is not a partnership. It is, at this juncture, a flirtation, and her preexisting relationship with her wife takes precedence over said flirtation. You do not have the right to inject yourself into a preexisting relationship without - at the very least - an explicit invitation from one party and unambiguous consent from the other. From the sounds of it, the woman for whom you have feelings is not in a position to extend such an invitation at this time.

Imagine that the woman you’re emotionally entangled with was having a full-fledged affair with you, one that she kept strategically hidden from her wife. Over a period of many months, she routinely promised you that she was going to leave her wife for you. You gave her your good faith in the beginning, but as the affair deepened, so did your skepticism. Eventually you found yourself “pitching” her, throwing out idea after idea on how she could best broach this admittedly challenging topic with her wife. In doing so, you were demonstrating your willful ignorance in accepting WHY your girlfriend had not yet left her wife. By suggesting a variety of different tactics, you were actively implying that your girlfriend only lacked STRATEGY, as opposed to will. When human beings truly desire an outcome, they typically don’t let something like strategy prevent them from their goal; they find the motivation and do damage control (if necessary) after the fact.

This hypothetical situation doesn’t seem to be all that different from your own, despite your eventual goal of having an ethically transparent open relationship with the woman in question. For reasons I am not privy to, this woman is obviously not ready to broach the topic of non-monogamy with her wife. And THAT’S OKAY. Also, my best guess is that the more unyielding pressure your love interest feels from you, the more inclined she’s going to be to drop the whole thing altogether.

So. In this particular instance, if this is a situation that has been dragging on for a while and causing you great strife throughout, I give you permission to give this woman - who you are NOT in a relationship with - an ultimatum. Either she opens up an initial dialogue with her wife - WITHOUT your direct intervention, mind you - or you are going to begin focusing your attention and affections elsewhere.

Finally, reader, do yourself a favor and mentally prepare for her to tell you that she’s just not ready. Ready your best self care practices, and lean on your existing support networks. For the health of your future relationships, it may also be worth it to work on pursuing love interests who are both emotionally and logistically available for what you’re looking for. Best of luck to you!


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...

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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

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