Part I: Rejection in the World of Monogamy

Remember that first crush you had as a kid?  And remember that gut wrenching feeling when you discovered they didn’t actually like you the same way you liked them?  It felt like your young heart was broken into a million pieces.  And for a moment you wondered what the point of having feelings for anyone really was, especially when the heartache hurt so badly.  The devastation of putting yourself out there for the first time, and not having the feelings reciprocated sticks with us.  In our monogamous driving society we learn, to avoid or prevent those feelings.  And we do so by putting up barriers, or learning to vet out a person before getting hurt.  We rally our friends to feel out our next love interest, to spare us the face to face humiliation of a “just not interested”, being ignored or worse, laughter!  And if you are anything like me, when you fell in love for the first time, and had that love finally returned you vowed that you would do whatever it took to make it work.  Because you had a glimpse of what rejection felt like, and that was more than enough to make you realize that it should be avoided wherever possible.

There is just no denying that getting rejected sucks!  But the reality is, that no one has the time, resources, attraction or even inclination to give every single person a chance.  And thus, we reject people, avoid the whole situation outright, or the latest fad, we ghost a person.  I could spend an entire post talking or rationalizing all the why’s a person rejects someone else, but the thing is, we have all done it at some point.  It would be impossible to like every single human on the planet, so part of growing up is rejection trial and error.  And for me, I had so many errors early on that I decided not to date until I was out of high school.  Which I attributed to the understanding that no one marries their high school sweetheart and stays happy, so why even bother wasting my time.  Let the e-mails from happily married high school sweethearts flood my inbox as I know there are a few of you out there.  I’m just a realist by nature and figured the chances for me were slim! 

Now once I actually started dating as an adult, I, like so many out there, had my fair share of total and absolute let downs that when that first guy that I could stand to both look at and talk to popped into my life, I clung on!  I had serious illusions that I would be the first monogamous person to fall in love and never experience the pain of heartbreak or rejection.  Blood, sweat and a lot of tears were shed in the quest to ensure that we were going to be married and live happily ever after.  And it was a close call.  A very, scary, close call to the I do’s.  I was fearful of being alone, and I was competitively inclined to make that first relationship succeed.  A life without heartbreak, was an opportunity too tantalizing to ignore.  And then, we broke up.  And I don’t have to relate to any of you just what that feels like.  The tightness in your chest, the inability to get out of bed, and the hiding from the sunlight because that represents the whole world seeing your pain and your failures.  It’s agonizing.  But I survived day by day, and then got back together with the same man.  Only to experience heartbreak again a few years later and finally walk away from him forever.  I had failed. I couldn’t avoid rejection or a broken heart, no matter how hard I tried.

The thing was, back then, I would have done anything to avoid that pain.  Hindsight shows me plainly that I was leaning eerily close to marring the devil I knew, rather than explore my options, to protect myself.  And I know I am not alone.  I guarantee that you know a person, perhaps even well, who got married to someone simply because they were tired and emotionally exhausted from getting their heartbroken.  That person decided to make things work with the next person they dated, simply to prevent any more pain.  It’s self preservation.  We want to be with someone far more than we want to be hurt, so sometimes we sacrifice perfection, in exchange for our mental and emotional well being, and just take what’s there.  Is the relationship perfect?  Of course not, but compatible is the next best thing.  And we humans have survived because once we experience pain we learn and adapt to avoid that same negative stimulus in the future.

And that is a huge benefit to living in the monogamous community and one that I never recognized until becoming non monogamous.  For you see, pair bonding for life, within the comfort of monogamy gives you a real chance to never feel that pain again.  We are told after our first heartache, not to fret, because someday, you will find someone amazing.  And you will fall in love, live happily ever after and you will never feel that loneliness again.  I bought into it, hook line and almost sinker.  I desperately wanted rejection to be something of a trial of youth.  But, here I am to tell you, that things are a little different on the non-monogamous side of the fence.  For you see, rejection is unavoidable and in fact, becomes a necessary skill to hone…

 

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Monogamy to Ethical Non-Monogamy: A Reflection 16 Years in the Making

Do you remember your first genuine relationship?  Of course you do, that first love stays with you, long after you’ve grown apart or in some rare cases grown together.  Today I was shocked to realize that it would have been 16 years had I stayed in my monogamous relationship/marriage.  I’ve mentioned a few times throughout my blog, that I do believe I would have fallen into non-monogamy eventually.  The fantasies were beginning, and there were sex acts that I just didn’t want to take part in, so I figured a unicorn would be perfect.  And as I have admitted, I was coming closer and closer to cheating all the time.  My then boyfriend and I would have taken the non-monogamous route to keep us together for the sake of the un-realized children.  It’s painful to accept, yet, I realize the truth in those words, having gained such a deep knowledge of myself and my needs.  And I absolutely know that I am not alone in this thinking.  So many have turned to an open relationships to save themselves and their partners.  Or to level the playing field after an indiscretion.  All judgement aside, this is the simple truth to why many have found themselves in the non-monogamous uncertain waters.

In my case, I consider myself lucky in that I ended things when I did.  When I walked away from monogamy and started serial dating I had yet to have heard the term non-monogamy.  So as I have mentioned when I did meet my current partner I had my eyes opened.  I can now say how fortunate I am to have found him and to have ended up where we are.  But as with any relationship we did not start out well.  I think our relationship can be broken down into two distinct parts.  The first, where I was so overwhelmed with being in an open relationship that we were living in an extremely unethical fashion.  Dates were hidden, and extra curricular activities were discovered, rather than discussed.  We began open, but did so, with a rocky and unstable foundation.

So we broke up.  I kept writing and he kept living the exact way he wanted to.  And then, a really surprising thing happened, we started building a new foundation, free of all pressure, just two singles coming together every now and again.  We weren’t intending to get back together, instead we used each others strengths, weaknesses and experiences to start forging ahead with a relationship style that would meaningful for each of us.  By the time we knew what was happening we were living together, and running on parallel paths.  There was a strange symmetry to our work and home lives and the word boyfriend and girlfriend was replaced by that of the title, partner.

Our love story was truly beginning.  And this is when we started looking together for our first couple.  We had been to a swing club, and had mixed feelings about it.  But the take away was the same, our foundation was ready to start building upon.  To start creating experiences together.  It was around this time that I started using the word ethical non-monogamy in my blogging.  I finally understood what it meant, and more than that, was living it.

I look back on these two distinct failed relationships, knowing that I am a direct result of them.  They were both interlaced with non-monogamy, but it wasn’t until I brought the word ethical in that my shift from an uncertain bystander turned to owning my relationship norm.  I cannot help but wonder if there is a parallel universe out there, where I sit here typing in secret about cheating and the mistakes I had made in monogamy.  That perhaps, I would still be a voice, but for those of the pained, rather than those of my current community.  It’s a strange feeling, looking across time like this.  But I feel a calmness in doing so.  It’s a peaceful realization that I am right where I need to be, and perhaps I need to watch a little less sci -fi (Ok, that would and could never happen!).  The path to non-monogamy was never straight and narrow, but I hope, in some small way, my reflection can offer some comfort to someone currently struggling.  After all, the journey is where the real memories are made.

 

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An Important PSA About Disclosure in the Swinging Community

Did you know that there are a disturbingly large number of people in the swinging community who have ingested the Kool-Aid and believe that 80% of people have HSV-1 and therefore it is not important to disclose to play partners?  Let that sink in.  There are people out there, who are not disclosing because they have made an assumption that everyone else already has the virus and it’s a waste of breath to say anything.  Furthermore, there are people out there telling new swingers that getting tested is a waste of time and energy unless you are currently symptomatic.  Now, I want you to get angry.  I want you to look around at your community and get really fucking pissed off that there are people who think this, and have decided that it is acceptable for them to make assumptions over someone else’s health and well being.

This is disgusting and needs to stop right this second.  No one, and I mean no one, has the right to determine someone else’s exposure to a virus, disease or even the common cold, ever!  If you care at all about your body, your partners and your fellow playmates stop this asinine way of thinking immediately.  Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and passing it around.

If you look at the low transmission rates for HSV-1 and how difficult it really is to transmit (10% men and 4% women) then this virus should be on its way out the door.  We should be rallying together to out HSV-1 from our community and even better yet, looking out for the 20 and 30 years old who are dipping their toes in non-monogamy.  Rather than maintaining a cesspool of virus’s, diseases, bacteria, etc let’s work to grow and learn and just freaking be ethical human beings.  Look at what shaved pubic hair did for crabs?  If we really work together we can accomplish anything!

This community is supposed to be all about consent and no means no.  Yet here we are running face first into a complete disconnect by what that term really means.  You do not just assume everyone you meet is lying and therefore you play at your own risk.  You man the fuck up, have the difficult conversation and then you make educated and healthy decisions!  I’ve had the safe sex conversation with every single partner I have had, and even did a little write up to help my friends who were struggling with how to broach the subject.  Have a read, share it, add things to the list that are important, ie safe words, just start now (Safe Sex)!  Have the tough talk and be a contributing member in the community and continue to fill it with ethically non-monogamous sexy people.

There are risks in everything we do, including crossing the street.  But if you get tested regularly, disclose to all your partners prior to play, practice safe sex and good hygiene, then you are a valued member of this community.  And we will soon become the norm and flush out all the people who hold onto stupid beliefs that put people at unnecessary risk.

And my final point in all this.  If you know someone in the community is not disclosing their status with their play partners, stop protecting them!  We are not going to keep silent anymore or subscribe to this stupid myth that the community is so small we must protect our own and keep silent.  The community is not nearly as small as you think it is.  It is incredible the amount of people who have come “out” to me as a result of this little blog within my own social network.  Try talking to the couple first, explain that even if they are asymptomatic they still should disclose every time as a risk still exists for transmission.  At that point, if they laugh in your face, say they don’t care, or brag that everyone has it and if you are that fearful then this lifestyle isn’t for you… out them!  But do try talking to them first, please.  Sometimes good people are under preconceived notions and just need a little education and guidance.

So with that in mind, I am including a few helpful resources that I read when a couple we were interested in disclosed their HSV-1 status to us.  My partner and I read up on the risks and made a decision based on our comfort levels.  And I strongly encourage each of you to do the same.  Only you can decide what’s right for you and your body, with of course some education behind it!

https://herpesopportunity.com/downloads/herpes-opportunity-disclosure-handout.pdf

http://www.herpes.com/hsv1-2.html

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When You’re Separated by a Screen, Don’t Forget There is a Human on the Other End

Yesterday something happened while on a dating app that I never thought would happen.  I have tried to pretend that it didn’t bother or affect me, but I just cannot do it.  Yesterday I was brought face to face with what I have said for years, that there is in fact a human being on the other end of that screen and you never know what really is going on with them.  And we must never forget that, and must always do better to be ethical and kind when interacting with strangers.

As I said I was on a dating app yesterday and I was contacted by a man who opened with a fantastic line of flattery or so I thought.  He said that he wished he was good enough to one day get with a woman as beautiful as me.  I responded right away, asking what he thought he needed to do to make that happen, and made a silly joke of responding in my dating coach voice as I typed.  He said that he needed to win the lottery to become attractive due to his short comings.  I laughed and said money wasn’t everything.  Obviously, he had been down this road before and said, because he was only 5’5” that no woman would ever find him attractive without money.  I brushed this off and said that as a dating coach maybe I could help him with his confidence if we wanted.  And if you have made it this far in the little back and forth between us, here’s the kicker.  And I quote, “I am just here killing time, before I kill myself because no woman will ever date me”.

I was positively floored.  In fact, I still am.  I am sad to say, my gut reaction was that he was using this as a ploy to get my attention.  But after a few minutes, my compassion and brain went into overdrive.  If there was even the slightest chance that he was serious I needed to do something.  But what could I do?  For all intents and purposes, online dating in anonymous.  I would have to do some incredibly serious sleuthing to find out even the slightest additional information about a person in the real world, and that would only be possible if we had chatted for more than 10 minutes.  I had nothing to go on.  So here’s how I reacted.  I wrote him a message saying that I wanted him to seek professional help immediately.  Then I copy and pasted the message and reported it to the app under other in the hopes that someone would have a data base of his information when he signed up.  I then wrote back to him the 1-800 number for suicide hotline.  To which he responded that he wouldn’t do anything drastic as long as his pets were alive, as they were his reason for living.  I implored with him one last time to seek help and then just like that, his profile was gone.

As I sit here typing away, I am reminded of one simple fact, the online world often removes the humanity in us.  We need to fight that urge and remind ourselves that there is a human being on the other end.  I didn’t accept what had happened right away and was in a horrible mood for the rest of the afternoon.  In fact, I was outright rude and argumentative to a stranger online who just wanted to meet me.  I pushed him until he said something silly, and goaded him into a fight.  I feel awful for doing that.  And I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  When you interact with someone online,remember you are not talking to a bot, even Siri was voiced by a real human.  Why?  Because shit flows downhill, especially in the virtual world.

So be cognitive, be aware, be kind!  Do not put your crap on a stranger, as I did.  And do not ignore the pain of someone reaching out as I was tempted to do.  Live as ethically online as you do in the real world.  Let’s make the experience better and more human for everyone.

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Some People Are Assholes and Give Non-Monogamy a Bad Name


As a follow up to a recent post about practicing Ethical Non-Monogamy, I feel it is only fair to mention that sometimes people are just assholes and don’t give a damn about ethics.  I like to imagine my perfect world where these people are in the minority or don’t exist at all.  However the truth is that people do exist who are looking for open relationships or non monogamy for all the wrong reasons.  If you are curious about opening up your relationship, and would like to start swinging or any other variety of monogamish, I truly hope that your positive experiences far outweigh the negative.  This is a story however of a very misguided male seeking a relationship without the word ethics in his vocabulary.
One of my non-monogamy forums that I frequent had a male user ask for advice and help with assisting his wife to open up their marriage.  This is a question I have been asked quite a few times over the years.  And there are many books, forums and resources available to help introduce non-monogamy to someone who has never heard the term.  Here however is this guys back story and why he is an asshole.  They were together for 15 plus years, had a young child and he was miserable. The problem in his words, was that he was trapped so to speak, because he had to turn down sex from a young, hot female due to his monogamous marriage.  So this guy did a bunch of research, and decided he was prepared to divorce his wife, and lose his child in order to sleep with other people.  He was willing to lose everything he had, in order to have full control over his sex life.  And he decided to call this his true nature, that he was either open or polyamorous at heart.  Let that story sink in for a moment. 
Now, here you are, looking for new partners in non-monogamy and you come across a profile for this guy.  He presents himself as a good family man, married, and with full blessings from his wife to have a little fun on the side.  What you don’t know is that he forced her to let him have some strange for fear of losing their family.  She is at home, miserable, devastated and he is out chasing tail because it is his God given right as a man to have sex with whomever he chooses.  He had a chance encounter with the notion of non monogamy and will do what it takes to prove the grass is greener on the other side.  Spoiler alert, it is NOT!  Non-monogamy is hard, and this guy does not have the communication or emotional aptitude to be successful, that is my earnest hope at any rate.

I’m sorry to say, this story is real.  A woman out there is going through this.  This man is on Tinder, and is actively seeking strange, as his family falls apart.  And if you chatted with him, you would never know.  My heart breaks for this woman, and I abhor this man.  But what does that mean for the rest of us?  Do we give up because there are bad apples out there who are abusing the system?  No, we promote ethical Non-Monogamy.  
We call out people like this.  If we are on a date with this person, we ask them if their significant other is really OK with things.  If they are not listed on each others profile, ask to meet them.  Watch this person’s reaction, and be critical in your thinking.  Protect yourself, physically and emotionally.  Everyone is entitled to make a mistake here and there, but we have a duty to be respectful of our fellow man.  To do no harm.  This arrogant man has proclaimed that he was in physical turmoil being tied down to one woman, forever.  But he made the commitment for a monogamous marriage and is now changing the rules.  This man, is an asshole.  This man is NOT the norm within the non-monogamous community, but you need to be prepared in case you meet him or chat with him.  What he is doing is selfish and cruel, and we can either be afraid of experiencing this lifestyle on the off chance that we may run into him, or we can be aware and have a plan for when we do.  Let’s work together to make this lifestyle a welcome place to be, ask questions and grow in your own sexuality.  And finally, don’t be that asshole!