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    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.81)
    And I have plenty of other reasons that are intimate to my partners and myself, so they're not really open to discussion on a public forum


    Okay, and that's something that I can relate to, which comes of quite differently to the 'I have to tell everyone all about this!' example presented by allana.

    We're agreeing perhaps that some things aren't appropriate to discuss in certain contexts.

    someone who has admitted that you're making judgements from the outside


    I've got a bit of a problem with this. Where are the lines between inside and outside? That sort of statement seems quite judgemental and setting tests for entry to an us and them situation. You may see my feelings on this as vastly different to yours, but another person may view my thoughts on discreet open relationships as being akin to them, but you'll call me 'someone outside' and I feel I'm getting attacked here, especially with these 'warnings' for just having some opinions.
  1.  (11148.82)
    My experience in the aforementioned medium-distance relationship was a lot like what Alanna describes. We didn't share accounts of every sexual adventure (we didn't talk about every meal or movie or magazine article, either ... gods, how tedious such phone calls would get) but if Scout's visit to the alternative free-trade coffeehouse involved a particularly interesting conversation, it seemed perfectly natural to for her talk about it. And if it also included a particularly interesting sexual hook-up .... I was equally interested. (Which is to say: not as interested as she was, but still curious to hear about it, because it mattered to her.)

    Oddcult, that clearly isn't how you feel about it. I sorta get it. Sometimes hearing about what a good time she had was frustrating, because I wished it had been me. Not just because I wished I got to do it, but because I wished it was us who did it. But – personal perspective warning here – if I couldn't be there for her, I was glad that she was still experiencing life ... going to movies, buying CDs, hanging with friends, and sometimes getting her erogenous zones tickled. To me, love is about placing their happiness just a little ahead of mine, and this was one way we did that. And the thought that she wasn't getting any because I was too wrapped up in my life to drive over there and give her some would've upset me, so knowing that she was ... helped make me a little happier too.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.83)
    I'll actually answer that, Oddcult, even though it's clear you're not here to learn. Other people can benefit from this regardless.


    That's actually pretty damn insulting. Just because I don't see things your way and am not having my attitudes changed, that does not mean I am not listening, receiving information and learning.

    I think your attitude to communication, as you've described it, comes from a place I can never relate to or have empathy with. That's not to condemn it and I've learned something from it.

    If I'm going to make a judgment, its that I think it should come with an understanding that there are many people you would hurt and upset by being that way, and that's not a problem with them, and that's okay too.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.84)
    Success! Plurality established.

    Cool, let me know if you have any other questions about my life that aren't expressed as skepticism or incredulity.
    •  
      CommentAuthorglukkake
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.85)
    @Oddcult that doesn't discount that in Allana's relationships, it's perfectly fine for her to share every intimate detail. Same, that I don't share intimate details publicly with strangers, but with my personal people, I do. And I tell my partners that I tell my primaries details. And if they're not OK with it, then they should not be in a relationship with me.

    At this point though, it's been 3 pages of us saying "it works for us because our partners agree that's how it's going to be, so that's why it works". Whether you can wrap your head around that or not, is up to you.

    As far as you being on the outside, yes, you said you're not polyamorous. That you're basing your opinions on your friend's anecdotes. So you're making uninformed opinions and I'm saying I'm making informed opinions. Informed by my experience in poly relationships. Which you do not have, which means you do not have inside information but...


    (outside).
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.86)
    I really wasn't making this about you, you know.

    But if you are interested in what I've learned, its that perhaps some of the reaction against this that I have is down to a sense that it involves removal of privacy and the privileging of openness over that in a way that would seem to increase potential for anxiety and tension.

    Sex and relationships are about intimacy. The rules of the 'lifestyle' that my details are probably now being circulated throughout with a big warning, seem to me to exclude the sorts of intimacy that I associate with them.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.87)
    uninformed opinions


    An astronomer doesn't have to be a solar system to be informed about them.

    Crap metaphor, but anyway, you'll take the point I hope that having an informed opinion about something and labelling yourself as that thing, are not mutually exclusive. Even more so when it's something that has a fairly fluctuating set of criteria anyway.

    I've been in open relationships. Does that make me polyamorous or not? It might meet some definitions of it, but because I don't relate to the term especially, am I excluding myself from it, because I don't like some of the aspects that the 'lifestyle' seems to impose as rules, despite poorly defined entry qualifications?

    Those are mostly rhetorical questions, but I hope you'll see the point that neither side of the debate has exclusive rights to judgement calls about it either, and - importantly - negative opinions and statements, even from 'outside' can be valid and meaningful too, and should not be rejected as uninformed just because of their source.

    Okay, to bring anecdote into it, having to comfort someone crying and heartbroken because the person they loved was with someone else, but they loved them too much to break up with them too, and then seeing that person go off with someone who was just taking advantage of them being vulnerable, was pretty heartbreaking, even for someone 'outside' that was 'uninformed' who clearly was missing how wonderful it was for all of them, except maybe they'd just it quite got the communication right. But hell, I'm outside and uninformed, so what do I know?
  2.  (11148.88)
    I've never felt a loss of privacy in an open relationship. Just because she's telling me and I'm telling her (and probably in less detail with fewer identifying marks than you imagine) doesn't mean she's telling everyone about me (or vice versa). Of course that's assuming that it's a relationship involving primaries and adjuncts ("open" not strictly "poly"), but when I picked up a guy who whimpers like a puppy just before he cums, and I told Scout about it, yeah his story got told to someone. But not in a context that gave him a good reason to feel violated by it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorglukkake
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013 edited
     (11148.89)
    @Oddcult - I think you're looking for answers that aren't going to get from my experiences. That's all. I'm done conversing with you on this train of thought.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     (11148.90)
    I'll actually pick up the privacy ball and run with it, since it's something I'm curious about.

    Privacy is simply a logistical minefield in the multi-partner context. It's rare to find a couple that works by 'sorry I can't see you tonight because I'm ... doing that thing we agreed never to talk about.'
    I think I might eventually get lax enough to allow for non-disclosure in that vein, but the thing about secrets is that you don't know what they are. If you're comfortable with your partner keeping all types of secrets from you, that's cool. But when someone starts being cagey about their plans you have no way of knowing whether it's because they're being respectful of the boundaries of intimacy or because x other thing is going on. ESPECIALLY-ass when you live with someone. Not knowing if they're coming home at night is mighty weird.

    Putting your foot down on don't-tell sounds to me too much like being a bad friend. 'I don't want to hear about it' is a pretty heartless wall to put up if your partner's emotional needs are at stake. Not many relationships of any orientation can survive that.

    And as Jason points out, the opposite of privacy isn't embarrassment and exploitation. If people don't want their sexual adventures talked about they had better not have sex at all. Has Sex And The City taught us nothing? People brag about their encounters, laugh about them, ask for advice. To hope for otherwise is pretty naive, and to assume you can control the lines of dissemination so that it never gets back to you is equally so. Them's the breaks.

    I'd love it if others could chime in on their experiences here. Privacy and poly just don't jive nearly as well as disclosure and poly, but if anyone has ever made privacy a cornerstone for intimacy's sake, I'd like to know. I'm reasonably sure there's a way to negotiate the logistics without compromising whatever attachment sits between the two.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013 edited
     (11148.91)
    Okay, WOAH! That was pretty crazy...
    I feel this whole massive back and forth ranting (aka: Drama) could have been avoided if the communication had been a bit more effective. (see what I did there?!) Seems to me that the problem was that while Oddcult was talking about THIS:
    "if you're saying you utterly, utterly have to tell someone that has feelings for you, just how great the head you got the other night from someone else was, then, well, no. I've got no empathy with that in the slightest and have a fairly visceral reaction against it."

    The rest of us were talking about THIS:
    "sharing doesn't ness. mean every detail. I'm pretty sure no one here has said that its every detail." (From LittlePurpleGoth) and THIS: "but the thing about secrets is that you don't know what they are." (Allana)

    I identified this discrepancy within the space of about three posts but sadly I only got to the thread ten minutes ago. The thing is that loads of people are bad at poly relationships. Loads of people are bad at MONO relationships too. It's usually down to communication and honesty. Because without those two, how are you supposed to trust the other person? Not just trust them to do right by you, but trust them to tell you if you're not doing right by THEM? The reason me and my wife's relationship has always worked, even when we've gone through really tough times, is that we can trust each other to tell one another that something is not right. Then we TALK about what's not right. That's what communication is. Communication can ALSO be to talk specifically in detail about something wonderful you experienced that wasn't with your partner, be it art, a movie, sex or a party. However, ultimately, within a relationship you establish "guidelines" for how much of that is fine and where the line goes when there's TMI or when the information just leaves you feeling left out. How do you establish this? COMMUNICATION.

    In The Ethical Slut, they mention a relationship where one partner was always very jealous before, whereas she actually finds that she's not jealous when she knows that her man is out with someone, because she doesn't worry who he MIGHT be with or what he MIGHT be doing.


    I think if I'm going to concisely define what the problem over these past few pages has been, it would be to say this:
    Communication is not information, and information is not communication.


    They go hand in hand, as you need some information to communicate effectively, but you don't need ALL the information. In our relationship, I like to hear about specific things she's done that are particularly adventurous, special or might make things interesting our OUR bedroom. She very specifically likes me to tell her all of the details, because she's wired that way. Some relationships have a Don't Ask Don't Tell rule, some have "I want to know the barest minimum of detail I need in order to know that you're safe and happy." as their rule. All successful open relationships have different sets of rules regarding information and communication, and they arrive at them through communicating.

    This does mean "Talking about your feelings", which to some is like having five root canals while being forced to watch Sharknado AND Miley Cyrus' VMA "performance" (ooooh, topical!) but those people are generally bad at ALL relationships. In a mono relationship, you can "get away" with not talking to each other a lot more easily. An open relationship REQUIRES communication on a massive scale, but that says nothing about talking about how hard you fucked that wee lassie last night.


    Okay, analogy time! (Imagine that said in a sing-songy voice)

    You know how it's important to be "out" if you're gay? Unless there are extenuating circumstances, your parents should know you're gay if you are. Yes? Do they need to know if you like being fucked in the ass? NO! OF COURSE NOT! Likewise, do I NEED to know what positions that guy fucked my wife in? Of course not!

    Sounds like you've been witness to bad relationships full stop, and that's a shitty thing to bear witness to. But they were not bad because of communication. They were bad because of a lack of regard for at least one person in the relationship.

    EDIT:
    I would just like to add that this is exactly the kind of discussion I was kind of hoping we would have, though it got out of hand a bit. I'm honestly very glad to hear Oddcult's thoughts on this and I hope that my post has gone some way to clarifying what seems to be a barrier to understanding between him and the polys. I definitely think there's common ground here but that part of the discussion got off on the wrong foot a bit.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013
     (11148.92)
    Has Sex And The City taught us nothing? People brag about their encounters, laugh about them, ask for advice. To hope for otherwise is pretty naive, and to assume you can control the lines of dissemination so that it never gets back to you is equally so. Them's the breaks.


    Well, I'm only vaguely aware of Sex and the City by general cultural assimilation and seeing the trailers for the films when I've been in the cinema to see other thing, but it seems like a horrible alienating caricature of a certain lifestyle, not anything to aspire to.

    I'm not especially prudish, and to counter with something else that was talking about sex a lot, but seemingly from a totally different perspective, I followed Belle de Jour almost right from the start. That was because she's an excellent writer, and although she was talking about sex and relationships and the sometimes unconventional, she was also the soul of discretion and privacy - both her own and that of the people she was writing about. I can respect - and also enjoy - that in a way that Sex in the City's oversharing and shallow crassness is a million miles away from.

    If you're comfortable with your partner keeping all types of secrets from you, that's cool. But when someone starts being cagey about their plans you have no way of knowing whether it's because they're being respectful of the boundaries of intimacy or because x other thing is going on. ESPECIALLY-ass when you live with someone. Not knowing if they're coming home at night is mighty weird.


    See, that's freedom to me. Not the right to be able to have sex with whoever I want or form multiple relationships. But to not have to justify myself or explain. I might not want to see someone because I want to read my book. Or listen to some music and stare at the wall. Even if I'm seeing the hottest person in the world and they promise the most freaky night of kinky monkey love I might still just want to read my book, or stare at the wall and listen to music and I don't want to have to justify that or explain it.

    Communication is not so wonderful if I feel it's coerced. The surest way to get me to break up with you, is if you ask 'what're you thinking?' - if it's not in the context, say, of already making a choice between one thing or another, but as just a general enquiry, or because I've got a look on my face that someone feels needs explanation.

    So, as for 'communication', if I can communicate that 'sometimes I don't want to communicate, and I never want to have to explain that' then maybe it's okay. I want to be able to pull down a blind that says 'sorry, not available to you' without insult being taken or being blamed for that.

    Which is why I feel a lot like all this 'THOU SHALT COMMUNICATE!' is oppressive and overbearing and as likely to cause problems as a lack of communication.

    Sounds like you've been witness to bad relationships full stop, and that's a shitty thing to bear witness to. But they were not bad because of communication. They were bad because of a lack of regard for at least one person in the relationship.


    I've been witness to a lot of relationships of all kinds, some bad, some good. But absolutely some of the bad ones were bad because of a mismatch in the levels of communication expected. And the really important thing to consider there is that the person who wanted less, or to not share everything, had as much right to that as the other person but going by what many are saying here, they'd make this that party's fault and that the person who wants sharing has their position privileged over the person that doesn't. And what I'm saying is that that's not okay or necessarily the right thing.

    You know how it's important to be "out" if you're gay?


    Once again you're losing me here.

    Being gay should not be something anyone is persecuted for, so that they're expected to hide their sexuality, of course, but in a lot of situations - such as the workplace - it should be no one's business and irrelevant, and up to the individual as to whether they want to disclose it or not, and to have various levels of disclosure they're happy with.

    It's probably important for people considered role models to not lie about their sexuality, but in a properly enlightened world it should just not matter.
  3.  (11148.93)
    I consider myself a pretty private person, at least in the sense that I'm selective about what I share with whom. For example, while I have comix about my sex life online, I don't post photos of myself. Only a handful of offline friends know that I make comix, because then they'd want to know more about them ... and I don't want them to. The people in my department at work know I have a boyfriend (because workplaces are social environments, and the bare outline of one's family situation is relevant in that situation), but I don't tell them anything at all about that relationship (especially the poly/open aspect). I'm carefully evasive if people ask things I don't want to share. I have a not-especially-close friend who sometimes calls me up and asks "what're you doin'?" It's none of his fucking business whether I was scrubbing stains out of my sheets, drawing porn, making cannabutter, watching a Wonderection concert on TV in my undies, or whatever. I consider that privacy-intruding, so I make up boring lies. But a romantic partner asking "what are you thinking?" as a conversation starter, or expecting more than "I have plans" as an explanation for why I turn down an invitation to get together? Not particularly. That's the privacy that one exchanges for intimacy. It certainly isn't coercive, and if you feel it is, then you have unusually high expectations of privacy, and that's going to cause problems in almost any sort of romantic relationship.
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013
     (11148.94)
    Monogamy isn't working for me.

    Perhaps it is because despite what I do with the rest of my time (writing, a form of communication), I must be pretty shit at communicating person-to-person. I have been in monogamous relationships most of my adult life, and apart from one period in an open relationship - the early stages of what became a very long, mostly happy monogamous relationship - I've never experimented with any kind of poly or other lifestyle, other than sleeping with a few boys in my teens (I'm definitely bi, with a strong bias towards hetero).

    An aside: The mag I write for used to have an LGBT section - they re-named it 'Deviance' and this still pisses me off. ALL of these lifestyles/outlooks/practices seem eminently valuable and equally acceptable ways of expressing a deep and human need.

    Anyway, what I've found in my experience as a serial monogamist is that all too often things fall into a pattern which leaves me craving more sex than I get, and feeling unable to do anything about it, other than talk in the abstract. I think, for someone who has had many partners and several close, loving relationships, I am incredibly ignorant about how to communicate my wants and needs, and to sense and satisfy the wants and needs of others. I'm a sexual-emotional cripple in many ways.

    There are aspects of what I find a turn-on that I've never felt comfortable sharing (*note - really quite vanilla aspects, I'm just rubbish...!), and have never felt comfortable telling a partner what I like, or good at eliciting that information from them. Not only does this, I'm pretty sure, make me a shit lay in general, it probably means I'm a pretty unbearable partner.

    I love my current partner deeply and passionately, and as a team, we are unbeatable. But when it comes to sex, we're like an old, married couple, and it isn't like it's just a case of things becoming stagnant. I think there are some basic misconceptions in our relationship about who we are (and can be) to each other. I think we both have an idea of who we want to be with and how, sexually, but no language to express it. I'm extremely envious of people who have experimented with or become comfortable with polyamory and things like that... I wish I could feel as liberated, in my own life, to choose, ask for or even know what I really want. I admire your self-knowledge, and your comfortableness when it comes to things I would feel are 'too risky', like sharing a partner with someone else. I'm even envious of people who are monogamous, vanilla, and completely happy. Would that I were able to accept things as I find them...

    I would really like to fix the relationship I am in, because I love my partner, and I would really like to gain some sexual/emotional literacy, to learn the language that would help me express what I want, ask and listen to what others want, and have a more fulfilling experience of that side of my life. But I don't know where to begin, not least because the majority of the people I know and the culture I experience is rigidly heteronormative (not a fan of that word but it works, I guess, in context), and my network of close friends even more so - everyone coupled off in boy/girl relationships, getting married and having kids.

    I feel, sometimes, like I've missed the boat when it comes to my sex life - that I've missed the opportunity to explore what I feel is probably a far more complex series of options and choices than I've allowed myself to consider. So this thread has been valuable, illuminating, to say the least. I don't feel I can talk about this with anyone I know IRL.

    If I may be permitted a question, where do I go from here? I'd value some opinions and advice. Hope that isn't too much of a threadjack.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013 edited
     (11148.95)
    Oddcult/anyone else to whom it applies:
    It's not really necessary for you to contribute every instance of your ignorance. You would better serve this discussion by only chiming when you DO relate to something someone else has said.
    Clearly you have some emotional prudishness that outweighs any sexual prudishness, and that's cool, you have a right to your vague sociopathies, but this isn't the place for them anymore.
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013 edited
     (11148.96)
    Not sure if any of that was aimed at my own 'prudishness', allana, but if so that's a fair enough comment. I relate to a lot of what's been said, I just have little experience of it, hence the request for guidance. But you're probably right that I will learn more by shutting the hell up, listening, and not asking questions. As you were. Apologies if any of my comment caused offence, please disregard it as the incoherent mumblings of the inexperienced.
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      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013
     (11148.97)
    texture: Does 'talk in the abstract' mean saying 'You know, I guess I just have a really high sex drive!' and then waggling your eyebrows a bunch?

    Seriously though, comfort and experience are at opposite ends of the spectrum on this one. You'll have to forego one for the other, or at least risk foregoing. It takes attempts and failures to figure this out.
    For me the number one discomfort is talking about what I want in bed, and I'm sure there will be enthusiastic agreements from a number me people. Women especially are exposed to a lot of fiction that describes the height of passion as some wordless communion of souls, which makes us all feel like we're insulting our partners by instructing them. And men are exposed to a lot of experience = authority rhetoric, without any reflection on the nature or quality of that experience.
    The first step there is simply to acknowledge that you feel silly and naive, have a laugh about how much culture sucks, and then be earnest about the fact that the ultimate goal is greater pleasure for everyone involved.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013 edited
     (11148.98)
    Woah, son, no worries! We could use some directed requests for advice up in here. It's shooting down all attempts to help, in non-constructive ways, that we're trying to avoid.
    •  
      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013
     (11148.99)
    Than you for clarifying, I guess that's what I'm asking... give me your wisdom, oh sexually enlightened beings, and experienced practitioners of both mono and other paths! :)

    For me the number one discomfort is talking about what I want in bed


    Yup, me too, always been difficult for me... so that's the most important question I guess. How do you even begin to express these things without squirming?
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2013
     (11148.100)
    Dan Savage, I find, has a bunch of varied advice on this. Sometimes he's all 'be upfront bro' and sometimes he's like 'hint it, send them an Oglaf comic, show them a scene from a movie, dance around the edges until the time seems right.' I find the latter vaguely manipulative but not always avoidable.
    But who's to say squirming can't be kind of fun?

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