Sex Positive and Safe Sex Go Hand in Hand

As someone who prides herself on being a part of the sex positive community, I am a little embarrassed about how little I talk about safe sex, and more to the point, about how there are absolutely zero resources to be found anywhere on my site for those who want to practice safe sex, and get tested regularly.  Well, with this post (Thank you for showing me the error in my ways and sponsoring this post), I am striving to improve on that glaring oversight.  Sometimes I forget how limited the access is for people to get tested regularly, and practice safe sex because I live in Canada, where healthcare is free and I am extraordinarily lucky to have a family doctor that I can be open and honest about being non-monogamous with.  And as an added bonus she supports me in regular testing and screening and will even remind me on occasion when I am due or ask me if I have had new partners and want to book a fresh screening.  But it took me years to find her, and I recognize that very few are as lucky as I am in that regard and thus I feel it is my duty to write this PSA.

If I am being completely honest, having a strong network of safe sex, support and resources makes my non-monogamous life possible.  For you see, I subscribed for a long time to the stigma about how dangerous sex with other people can be, and how your chances of catching something grew exponentially with each new partner.  It kept me monogamous to a fault, and when I was first introduced to open relationships, held me in a steadfast fueled by a strong fear of actually exploring sex with other people due to inherent risks.  It was one of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome in my early years of non-monogamy, well and a mix of jealousy and insecurity.

And that is why, for me, writing this post about safe sex is so important, because it makes being non-monogamous possible, and ethical.  Safety is not just about condoms.  It is about disclosure, consent and regular testing.  These are the fundamental building blocks that make non monogamy fun, and allow me to relax and enjoy new people and situations.  While safety will always be a concern, my partner and I have developed rules that work for our lifestyle and values.  For example, we do not kiss or have any fluid contact with strangers or people we have just met.  This allows us the freedom to have spontaneous and often very hot, same room play with a new couple, but keeps the risk down, until we can have a conversation about safe sex, disclosure (if any) and a few likes and dislikes in a sober state of mind with new people.  Secondly, we always use condoms with other people, zero exceptions.   Simple rules, that keep us active and healthy within our community.  And again, living in Canada it is definitely easier to access certain resources, but that is not necessarily the case for those of you in the US.

I read constantly in forums about people not being able to talk to their family doctors about non-monogamy due to privacy or religious reasons, and therefore forgo regular testing.  Or the people who preach that herpes is a normal part of the lifestyle because most doctors don’t even test for it.  These are dangerous mindsets to have and I am super excited that there is now a simple and cost effective way for you to get the tests you want, and when you want them.  With you can pick the appropriate tests online, or via the phone, then choose a test sight and have your results e-mailed securely within 1 – 2 days.  No longer do you have the hurdles that prevent you and your partners from accessing what I often take for granted.

Safe sex is important.  And the more you know about your status and those of your partners the stronger and safer the community grows as a whole.  We can all do our part to disclose, test and practice safe sex every single time.  While your rules may not be the same as mine, it is important to have a conversation with your partner and agree to something that makes you both comfortable.  This is a community, whether you are dipping a toe in for the first time or have been doing this for decades.  We want to work to eliminate the stigmas and keep each other safe.  So do your part, get tested, and disclose each and every time you interact with new partners.

So please, take a moment to check out their amazing service, and follow them on Twitter.  

Take control of your sexual health today!

A Casual Swing Club Encounter: My Internal Plight

Sigh, that coveted casual swing club encounter.  That hot steamy night that you fantasize would just spontaneously occur.  You stack the deck in your favour of course.  Slow hot bath, sipping wine as you scrub yourself squeaky clean and do all the necessary personal grooming.  Then you dress to the nines with your partner, or in our case, pick the most elaborate costume you can.  You arrive at a packed swing club with that pre-screened and amazing looking guest list, tonight is going to be hot.  You pour yourselves a drink and begin the mingling and flirting dance.  And then you find a couple.  The small talk begins and you find some common ground.  Let’s go somewhere quieter they say.  You laugh, stroke your partners thigh and discover that it is smiles all around.  This night is going perfectly.  That fantasy is looking very promising.

And then, you remember, your rules, and you are snapped back into reality.  No full swapping the first time you meet.  Why?  Quite simply it’s a little matter of safety and sexual compatibility.  As hot as that anonymous first time swap would be, for you it will remain nothing more than a fantasy.  When it comes to sexual health and safety we never compromise.

At a club, in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to have a clear and completely honest conversation about disclosure.  I don’t subscribe to the idea that everyone lies, however, in a sexually charged environment, there can be a tendency by some parties to say whatever they can to sway the cards in their sexual favor.  And even if every one is telling the truth, it is an often loud environment.  It is easy to not be heard, or clearly understand what someone has said.  So, we err on the side of caution.  Touching, soft swap, all good things.  But no kissing or fluid exchange with strangers, period.

For my personal comfort and sanity, I cannot stand waking up the next morning wondering if the person we kissed was clean (I use the term loosely and for simplicity, no judgement intended).  It turns a really hot memory into one of suspicion and uncertainty.  I prefer guilt free fantasies.  Especially with my writers over active imagination.  In fact, I had situation just a few months ago, where we were soft swapping with a bunch of people, touching and getting a little intense when all of a sudden a woman stuck her tongue down my throat.  No permission was obtained and while I wanted to get lost in the sexiness of the situation, as there were hands everywhere, the reality was not hot.  It felt instead, obtrusive, invasive and all manor of inappropriate and all that separated her behaviour from everyone else’s, was the fluid exchange.  I was angry that I didn’t even have the chance to say no, or have the safe sex talk.  And as a result of how I felt the next morning and a very short conversation with my partner, we made a rule that from here on in, we tell people that we do not swap the first time we meet.

The other aspect I mentioned is sexual compatibility.  I don’t know about you, but history tells me that first time sex with a person is average to bad.  Every sexual encounter is unique, the sights, sounds and smells of a person.  So having no clue what to expect personality wise or sexually can be a bit of a hurdle.  I even heard of a few swingers who stopped going to clubs in general because the anonymous sex was actually getting boring.  It was constantly mediocre or bad and the thrill of newness was starting to wane.  Sex really ramps up, when you get to know a person.  When you can read their body language and get into the situation without having to stop every 30 seconds to ask permission (a slight exaggeration there, but you get the idea). I for one, want a much more sustainable sex life.  I enjoy good to great sex.  I love the butterflies and after glow, and I get that from a specific memory or touch from a person I care a bit about.  Strangers just don’t have any staying power in my mental spank bank.  I don’t want objects, I yearn for flesh and blood, emotional beings.

And for us the advantages of playing this way far outweigh the lost fantasy.  Especially for us, as we love a little chase and the excitement of getting to know someone.  Building that sexually charged suspense.  We don’t always get the payoff for postponing a swap, but man, when we do!  That keeps us going for weeks!  So the trade-off of an amazing novelty encounter, versus more of the getting to know a couple sex is definitely up our alley.

Now you can call me a tease or a dirty vanilla or a no touchie if it makes you feel better, but the truth of the matter is I would love to play the first time.  I just don’t want to waste my time hoping the sex will be good or to put myself in a situation where I do not feel safe. I’m in this for the long haul, not to just try out a few new people for curiosities sake.  Maybe I’m not a true swinger in that I don’t actually engage in anonymous sex with strangers.  I have written about already feeling like an outlier.  I know there is an argument for your valuable time.  You have the night off, a babysitter booked and you are looking for some strange.  And I respect your fantasy, just as I hope you respect my reasoning for not doing a full swap when we meet.  We try to disclose this information sooner rather than later, however we have screwed up few times and left it until we were already in the same room taking off our clothes.  For that, I humbly ask your forgiveness and I hope that you will want to get some strange with us in the future, only, not when it’s 100 percent strange.

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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!

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I Practice Ethical Non-Monogamy and it Does Not Make Me Full of Shit

So apparently claiming to be an “ethical non-monogamous person makes [me] full of shit”.  This is a real statement received earlier this week, and it perfectly summarizes the many messages that I have read and heard over the years.   The person further explained that we are “just looking for a loophole that will allow [us] to bang multiple people without being accountable”.  The first part makes me angry, while the second part could not be farther from the truth.  So, let me hash out my thoughts in a full post, and explain a few things about my lifestyle.
Firstly, I believe in ethical non-monogamy.  And it took me a long time to understand it, practice it, and finally embrace it.  My blog is a journey through this lifestyle and over the past few years, there had been a lot more adventure, and less questioning.  I see real progression in myself and my point of view, wants and needs.  With that being said, let me for a moment, put the word non-monogamy on the back burner and just focus on the word ethical.
My entire life, the one key factor to my being is the want and desire to be regarded as ethical.  I strive to be level headed and to do what’s right, kind, and compassionate to my fellow man, and to myself.  Growing up I was told often that I should become a judge.  I never use the term ethical lightly.  It is an important and very core part of who I am.  My most memorable challenges throughout my life have occurred when I was questioned as to the ethicacy of an action of mine.  For the most part when this happens I walk away, and I search in myself for days/weeks/whatever it takes to ensure that I do not portray similar actions in future that would bring my ethics into question.  Therefore, calling my ethics into question certainly rubs me the wrong way.
Now let me examine the second portion of this rash statement, of the finding loopholes and not being accountable.  You know, I cannot entirely argue with the loophole part.  Yes, to many it could be perceived as a loophole.  For myself, and anyone who has read “Sex at Dawn”, I would challenge that it is more than a loophole, and more a natural part of who we are.  With that being said, I don’t feel that loophole was used in a derogatory way, more so, as a word filled with jealousy.  Yeah, I found a way to have my cake and eat it too, so what?  No one is stopping you from doing the same.  But with that in mind I do love that we have monogamy, and non-monogamy to choose from.  It is your life, and you are free to live it, in whatever capacity that you and your partner choose.  Variety in our sexual relationships allows for evolution, compassion, learning, and plain old fun times to be had.
Finally, let me address the last part of this persons statement, and that was the laughable not being accountable part.  I have mentioned in a post years ago about safe sex, and how being open ensures that safety is of the utmost importance.  Why?  Because I am engaging in activity that not only will affect myself, but also my partner.  We take safety, and cleanliness seriously.  As our risks are more than just an occasional dirty toilet seat, we do not jeopardize ourselves or our partners.  Simply put, I take excellent care of myself and try to take zero unnecessary chances.  I will not fuck up both of us, and I ensure that I am accountable for all of my actions.  Nothing foul proof of course, and I recognize that, but I try very hard to dot all the I’s and cross my T’s every single time.
So in summary, being ethical in non-monogamy is real.  I do not see how it makes me full of shit.  And the jealousy that this poor person felt is on them, not on me.  This lifestyle could be regarded by some as a loophole, but if everyone is doing it, then it becomes a norm.  A recent statistic came out that nearly 4% of all marriages in the USA are open.  So I’m pretty sure that this qualifies my relationship norm as more than just a lifestyle cheat so to speak, to get some strange.  The bottom line, do who and what makes you happy.

Sexual Partners, Does that Number Matter in Non-Monogamy?

Does the number of sexual partners matter to me the non monogamist as much as it did in my monogamy?
When I was monogamous, my number of sexual partners mattered to me, a lot.  It was a point of pride knowing that for the majority of my first relationship we were each others one and only sexual partner.  And after a few break ups, it mattered to him that we were even in the number of partners we had.  It was a strange hinge that kept us connected through the good and bad times.  My number of partners meant something to me in monogamy, and even more early on in my non monogamous journey.  I even kept a little black book.
I took a look in my book the other day, and while it brought back a few smiles, it also reminded me about what keeping track actually meant.  It was a way of keeping tabs on myself, and my body.  And I went on to realize just how blurry the people on that list are and why I have let the book collect dust.  It actually became hard to keep track of who was an actual number or not.  For example, do I count the non-consensual mistake that happened one Stampede morning?  Does someone taking advantage of me really constitute a sexual partner?  That one was tough to write down.  Or how about all the members of a foursome.  I was not physically intimate with the woman of it, other than kissing and some light petting.  So does she make my list? 
These blurred lines will become more and more frequent as time goes on.  And I guess there is a symmetry to getting older and putting more emphasis on how you feel rather than the year on your birth certificate.  But I cannot help but wonder, if I had remained monogamous, would that number have the same importance as it did early on.  Or is the putting away of the list linked somehow to me being non-monogamous and truly OK with it.
Or is there perhaps a third option?  And that is me growing up, and breaking free altogether with the notion of sluttiness.  I have shifted my frame of mind into a sex positive understanding of myself and those around me.  People’s sexual wants and desires are their own to explore and feel.  Just as mine are.  So what good does it do to allow my number to keep real estate in my head?  I cannot remember the last time I asked a person what their number was prior to making out or whatever could follow.  The number itself doesn’t matter.  Where my concern lies, is on safety, cleanliness and how the person will treat me.  None of those things are determined by an arbitrary number of sexual partners.
So here I find myself, no longer keeping track.  The numbers no longer matter to me.  This shift in thought was gradual, and then all but forgotten.  The focus has shifted from the mere number towards building real and solid foundations.  Towards finding a couple that really suits E and my lifestyle for more than a date or two.  A couple that wants us, as much as we want them, regardless of what is kept in a little black book.