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!

Click to access herpes-opportunity-disclosure-handout.pdf

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November Realization

I am so glad that November is over.  I tried to take on a bit too much and that all escalated to a grinding halt during our dear dark, and cold November.  Typically I balance my work, home, love life with a certain confidence that leaves me with a sense of pride when I look back on the day, and at all I have achieved.  This past month was a bit too much for me. It is rare for me to feel overwhelmed off and on for that long of a period of time.  So long in fact that I look back upon this blog and find it missing in any content for this bleak time span.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you will appreciate how writing centers me.  It grounds me in an almost trance like way, my own form of meditation.  And well, I was so out of sorts, I could not write.
An amazing realization happened out of those overwhelming feelings, that brought me to tears on more than one occasion.  That being the re affirmation that I am not alone.  I have the perfect fitting partner for who I am now, and for who I am striving to be in the future.  The is not something that I ever thought would happen.  I do not believe in “the one”, however I do embrace the love of the right now and look fondly towards the future with a man who fits so perfectly it takes my breath away. After all the stressful and amazing situations the two of us have gone through together, we emulate the phrase stronger than ever.  
I call my partner and my being on the same page an amazing thing because there is always that nagging fear that when your partner sees you at your worst they are going to run away.  And it feels rational at the time.  You find yourself hating who you are, having troubles getting happy or just catching a breath.  Who in their right mind would want to stand by that, support and even find ways to cherish the moments when you are just needing a hug because you feel like you have nothing left in you.  This post would have been near impossible for me to admit to anyone anything more than a few years ago.  And to my character I just couldn’t write this when I was actually feeling low and lost.  Now however, I feel refreshed and excited for how strong we are as partners.  I hope to share some adventures of the two of us dating shortly and bring a little fun to this blog.  

Here and Now: Regret

The second post I ever wrote, and in fact the first post that I was brave enough to actually publish and e-mail out to a few friends and select family members was entitled Regret.  When I wrote this post E and I had broken up and I was reeling.  I was trying to decide if an open relationship was something new and exciting because of his introduction, or because it suited me.  And in all honesty it took me a few years to be able to start putting into actions what I felt was right for me in theory.  I never for a moment regretted my time with him, and I have not since then regretted how hard I have fallen for him in the past few years.  We are amazing partners.  And yet, I read that post of mine, and I felt a lump in my throat.  I tried so hard to edit it, to have it make a little more sense.  And yet, there was real and raw emotion to it when I wrote it.

I cannot help but delve a little deeper into why that is, or was.  I have heard from many of my friends and peers that my writing style has changed, that it has grown and matured.  I smile and say thank you, or that I know it has.  The truth is, it is not my writing that has changed, it is me.  My perspectives and my views.  I wrote Regret being fiercely proud of my actions up until that point.  Almost arrogantly self assured that every action I took, I stood behind.  That I could live with the ramifications and move forward with my life.  The crushing honesty was though, that I knew deep down, that not being with E was just wrong.  I regretted nothing, except the very essence of why I was writing, trying to make sense of me, relationships, and the like.  Doing all of this while balancing the pain and the knowledge that the biggest mistake of my life was being without him.
If at the time of writing that post I had acknowledged what I was really feeling and why, I may just have crumbled.  Heartbreak and loneliness is something I have a great deal of experience with, and again in that case, it was completely out of my control.  I had allowed something amazing to spiral downwards because I was in limbo between theory and actions.  I was caught up between falling in love, and having to share.  Between being an only child, selfish to the core and learning that I could love more than one.  I was a mess, an emotional, gut aching mess.  It took me years to re read that post.  I am amazed at how wonderful the here is, in relation to that moment where I felt crippling regret and fought everything in me to believe that everything happens for a reason.  That moment where annoying optimism collides head on with the unknown reality that something really wrong has just happened.  That first pang of real regret.

Blissful Oblivion and Being Myself

In my previous post I touched on the idea of not acting a different way depending on your relationship status, and instead to try altering the focus to being true to yourself, and going one step further, to be true to yourself in every situation.  This is not always easy, or even possible, as I have often found in the workplace especially.   My language and interests, including my blog and book research are not workplace appropriate conversations.  For the most part though I am focussing on developing myself as a whole person who can look back and feel that no compromises need to be made, no matter the role I need to play. 
I had an interesting discussion to this end with my partner.  Often I have found myself watching everything that goes on around me.  I miss very little as far as body language and social interaction goes.  This is a skill I have refined and tweaked over the years to be as precise and accurate as the situation calls for.  I had completely missed out on the art of being oblivious.  I thought this concept was odd at first hearing as well.  The art of being oblivious or purposefully ignoring things that just may not matter seemed bizarre.  What could possibly be gained from having a white noise filter when at a social event?  Just thinking of all the conversations and interactions that could be missed gives me a little social anxiety.  But is there a peaceful centre to be gained from this? 
Let us say that you have a friend who always says the wrong thing, is socially awkward or is just perpetually nervous giving the vibe of a social nincompoop.  Do you A) follow them around nervous and on edge preparing for damage control.  B) Stop hanging out with them because the stress it puts on you could potentially ruin your time as well.  Or C) just put a filter on in your mind and become oblivious to all the things that do not affect you.  I without thinking have always picked A, but what if the best answer was C?  In the quest to find ways to increase my personal happiness, one of the components is to not allow other people to add stress in my life.  Learning to live for myself and be responsible for my own thoughts and feelings is so important.  And looking at the little multiple choice questionnaire, it is obvious that the first two answers involve giving my emotions over to someone else.  I have been putting myself in position geared to react, versus having the control over my own autonomy.
Now although the example here is to do with friendship, I can apply this to so many facets of my relationships.  Having dated someone in my past who loved to get drunk, I rarely took control of my own emotions.  I allowed myself to follow the rollercoaster of his drunken adventures, which would often result in negative feelings at the end of the night or the next morning.  It was incredibly stressful.  By opening myself up to his destructive behaviour, I saw his actions as a reflection of myself.  I felt we were a team and his actions reflected poorly, especially when he drank, on me.  I shifted the power, so to speak on him, instead of understanding that I could only be responsible for my own thoughts, feelings and actions.  Had I known about having an oblivious feature, living life for me alone, I believe two things would have happened although I am not confident on in what order.  I would have been a lot happier, as my stress would have significantly decreased.  I would not have felt this intrinsic bond which resulted in negative thoughts every time he would go out drinking, preparing myself for the worst.  Also, having separation between his actions and my feelings would have potentially allowed me to see a little clearer into what I really wanted in a partner.  I would have allowed myself to view my thoughts and feelings on my own merit, rather than an extension of his.  I may have made adjustments sooner in our relationship and who knows what that result would have been. 
I have sought out real and true connections in earnest, with the ultimate goal being joined at the hip with someone else.  With the new thought that I can turn blinders on when interacting with certain people or situations, I potentially could allow myself more self control, and ultimately be solely responsible for my own actions instead of reacting to the actions of those I love.  Happiness can truly be in my hands with a little blissful oblivion.

Preconceived Notions: Open Relationships

Here are a few misgivings that I have heard since beginning my blog over a year and a half ago.  The first being that there is a preconceived notion out there that being in an open relationship lends a person to be slutty (and not in a sex positive way).  But I find the opposite is actually true.  Because I am quite happy in my current relationship I do not need to settle to get my kicks or spice as I like to call it.  If someone is going to catch my interest they need to be incredibly special.  I am afforded an actual luxury about the whole thing, where I can happily pick and choose whom I want to engage in any sort of relation with, even if only a mild brand of flirting.
How then can you stand being jealous all the time is also something that I am frequently asked. Irrational feelings develop at times, and are quite natural.  I am miles away from where I was in dealing with jealousy at the beginning to where I am now, and yes it does take work. You need to be in a loving and honest relationship so that you can understand and help your partner through natural periods of jealousy while at the same time understanding that jealousy is your own problem.  Jealousy can be a cancer in a relationship if left to fester or if not dealt with head on.  Now in saying that when I have jealousy, I take a step back.   It often drives E crazy, but I almost always walk into the other room and find myself a quiet corner to regain my composure.  I try to rationally evaluate if this is something that will bother me in the future and thus require a conversation with my partner, or if this is just a gut reaction style emotion that will just go away naturally.
There is also a huge stereotype about how horrible and detrimental an open relationships can be and how immoral they are in our society.  I have tried to present a different side to this and be a voice of reason giving an open and honest perspective.    I have mentioned that I am not particularly promiscuous by any means.  As well I am not actively seeking anything on the side.  This is not my method at all for an open relationship.  And I am pretty sure that if you met me in person you would have no idea that E and I are open.  We pose no threat to single or coupled people around us, as well we are both ethical and moral people, of course me more so than him.
How can you say that you are committed if you are always open to something on the side?  Sometimes flirting with somebody else really makes your main relationship so much stronger, not always, but every so often.  The feeling of joy and re-affirmed confidence when your partner tells you how much he/she appreciates you after a little fling or flirtation is amazing.  The bond between the two of you more often gets stronger as a result of it.  Of course the reality presented to society from the media is that the extra on the side will harm and often sever the main relationship, but it is the same risk that monogamous couples run into.  If a little fling or on monogamous interaction is natural human behavior, which is very well explained in “Sex at Dawn” then why fight it?  Instead embrace all the positives that it can bring into your main and healthy relationship, rather than falling prey to the preconceived notions in our society.