Tag Archives: lgbt

Overflow

Sometimes I worry that my heart is going to overflow. 
 
My best friend used to tell me that “a big front has a big back.”  It was his way of reminding me that, in both emotions and gravity, what goes up must come down.  But I’m starting to see the flip side.  For all the awful things I’ve seen, for all the hurt and confusion and helplessness, I’ve seen at least as much beauty in my lifetime.  In my memories, the beauty is almost blinding.  Even the bittersweet seems to become sweeter and less bitter over the years.  Things I swore would be important simply aren’t, and the joy in my life is made up of surprises I never even suspected.  
 
I can wax poetic until the reassembly of the bovine line.  I’ve always been good at making grand, sweeping statements and over-generalizing.  I mix up my tenses (in both English and Spanish) and switch between octaves over the course of a song.  I spend so much time teetering on the sharp edge between black and white, the shades of gray fog my vision.  If worrying were an Olympic Sport, I’d be a professional.  
 
It’s strange the way the realization that you have something worth protecting can fill a person’s heart with fear.  And fear pollutes everything.  Where once you saw inspiration, now you wilt in the presence of greatness like a sunflower in the shade.  Under a bushel seems like the only proper place to keep one’s light.  Do I even dare to exist in a world where there is so much beauty, so much talent, so much courage?  What gifts have I brought?
 
I’m not trying to save the world anymore; I’ve long since learned we can only save ourselves.  But faith is hard to come by. 
 
I think of all the trivial dating advice that’s passed through my ears over the years: that you shouldn’t love someone more than they love you; that you don’t want to be easy to “conquer” lest you become boring; that you must cultivate an aura of mystery.  I remember one of my exes telling me that people prefer to be around happy people, so I should just fake it if I’m not feeling it at the moment.  It all makes me want to gag.  I prefer to save the acting for the stage.  All I want to do is Love More– to leave things better than I found them.  It sounds easier than it’s been.  I don’t have an endless well of Love to go to, my joy isn’t contagious.  Perhaps there’s a hole in my bucket?  I smile more than I used to, much more, and it makes a difference.  Still, I’m told I’m “intimidating” and hard to approach.  Not by my coworkers, though, they all know me well enough to see the doormat within.  
 
How do I fill this bucket, I wonder? How I combat all the negativity, the insecurity, the worry? How do I drown it in Love?
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I’m way too jealous for that!

Lately, since I’ve started dating non-monogamously, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments regarding jealousy.  Usually something to the effect of, “You’re poly? Damn, I’m waaaay too jealous for that!”  After mulling it over a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that jealousy really has nothing to do with it.  I’d like to propose that we are not inherently jealous, but that we’ve been taught that jealousy is an appropriate, perhaps even necessary, reaction to these kinds of situations.

Jealousy is a secondary emotion.  In other words, this means that the jealousy is blossoming from another emotion– almost always fear (which, coincidentally, is also anger’s primary emotion).  In the context of relationships these fears tend to be fear of losing your partner and/or fear of not being good enough for your partner.

Let me first say that your fears are unfounded.  For one, your definitely good enough.  Could your partner still leave? Of course.  That’s the risk you run with relationships.  But from my experience, people don’t leave a relationship they’re happy in.  Even in situations where there has been “someone else,” they were the catalyst to ending an already failing relationship, not the cause.  Which isn’t to say things couldn’t seem blissful and then one day your partner does a 180, it happens.  But it’s unlikely that if there have been no warning signs, something will happen out of the blue.

So jealousy is really just fear dressed up for the party.  And if everyone is communicating openly and honestly, there’s little to fear.  So what’s with the jealousy? Do we just enjoy tearing ourselves down? Or do we think, somehow, that we’re protecting what’s ours? Defending our claim?  Does anyone else think that sounds weird?

Relationships are just that– the way you relate to people.  You aren’t employing a servant or buying a flightless bird to keep in a cage.  You’re relating, you’re learning, you’re getting to know another person and sharing yourself with them.  So the possessiveness that can arise in relationships is actually kind of a scary thing.  We become defensive and greedy when we’re afraid, we try to hide our partner away and keep them close to us… and when they get fed up with being treated like a pet, we use this outcome as validation for our fears when, in reality, the fear created the problem from the get go.

No joke, if you want to chase away a partner as quickly as possible, try keeping them tied down.  Keep them from the other things in their life, friends, hobbies, family, etc. and they’ll leave faster than you can say, “Did I do something wrong?” A lover or partner is not meant to be the center of our lives.  Our partners are supposed to enhance our lives and support our choices.  If that’s not happening, it won’t last long.

The more we flesh out jealousy as an idea, the clearer it is to me that it’s a hallmark of monogamy, oddly enough.  Think about it: Where is jealousy more likely? In a relationship where each partner is emotional and physically exclusive, or one where partners, though emotionally committed, are free to find others attractive and pursue that?  Instinctively you want to say the latter, but the latter situation is one where boundaries have been established that allow partners to engage with other’s sexually without threatening the trust or the emotional intimacy of the relationship.  Your poly partner is going to tell you if/when they sleep with someone else.  In monogamous situations, we consider that cheating, which in turn encourages lying.

An example might help.  If I’m walking down the street with my monogamous girlfriend and I see someone else attractive, I keep my mouth shut.  If I mention the attractive person instead, the response is usually something to the effect of, “And I’m hideous??” or something as equally insecure and needlessly aggressive.  When I’m walking down the street with my poly boyfriend and we see someone sexy (which happens a lot) he might say, “Wow, she’s beautiful!” and I might say in return, “Yeah she is! Why don’t you go talk to her?”  One of those is going to result in a fight, and it’s not the poly example.

Listen, I’m not saying everyone should be polyamorous.  Clearly, monogamy works for some people and I do believe that some people are better wired for a monogamous situations.  What I am saying is that it’s funny to me that people associate jealousy with polyamory since what polyamory does is basically remove the barriers and insecurities that cause and feed jealousy.  To me, it’s more honest in that you’re admitting up front that you WILL find others attractive.  The difference is that in poly situations, we know that finding someone else attractive doesn’t mean NOT finding us attractive.   We know that both can and do co-exist.  What’s even better, though, is we don’t make you choose, either.  It’s not like you have to leave one partner to be with another.

But I do understand what people are getting at.  They want to know how I can handle seeing someone I love love others.  (It sounds like a silly question when I put it that way, huh?)  And the answer is two-fold: (1) I’m secure in the relationship my boyfriend and I have, and he does a great job of making me feel special and loved even though I’m well aware that I’m not the only person in his life in that capacity.  (2) I got over my insecurities.  And this really is the key.  For a long time I didn’t think I could handle non-monogamy, but at least I was honest about why: “I just think I’m too insecure for that kind of relationship.”  And at the time, I definitely was.  Confidence is sexy, sure, but confidence will also preserve your sanity.  That is, it doesn’t bother me seeing my boyfriend with another woman (or man–actually, that sounds hot, but I digress) because I’m confident in who I am and that he likes and cares for who I am, regardless of whether or not there are other attractive people around.

This isn’t a call for polyamory for all, that just wouldn’t work.  But this is a call for confidence for all– whether you’re monogamous, polyamorous, single or asexual.  Faith in ourselves is essential for survival, and if you only get yours from other sources, one day your well will run dry.  Learning to love myself (because it’s still a work in progress) has been simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done.   It’s hard, but it’s well worth the rewards.

Consider starting small.  I know I did.  My therapist gave me these post-it notes to put around the house with positive messages on them.  I tried not to gag when she first gave them to me.  (Yeah, I’m definitely that person who rolls her eyes at “positive affirmations,” even knowing they can work.)   For weeks I sat with the post-it notes, unable to think of a single nice thing about myself that I actually believed.  And then it hit me, “Love yourself anyway.”  I started writing things like, “You’re a ridiculous human being, but I love you anyway.”  or “I have seen your struggle and I love you anyway.”  It managed to acknowledge my resistance to loving myself while still sending a positive message.  Go figure.   But those words have come to mean quite a lot to me.  They mean that even on days when I just can stand myself, when I muck everything up, when I want to just pull all my hair out and throw a tantrum, they mean that despite all the imperfections I should love myself… anyway.

Love more, fear less.

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Jealous of the Moon

I’m a bit of a perfectionist by nature.  School was the ideal distraction for me as a kid: I could dive into it completely and dedicate myself to learning all the rules, reading all the books, getting the highest scores on tests, etc.  Unsurprisingly, math was my favorite subject.  (Or maybe surprisingly, since math is always getting a bad rap and I am, after all, A GIRL. GASP!)  There’s more than one way to arrive at an answer in mathematics, but ultimately there’s only one correct answer (or set of correct answers).  There’s something comforting and definitive about math that the other subjects lack, and math doesn’t even have to sacrifice any creativity for it. 

Direct, decisive, but creative.  In a nutshell, what I aspire to be.  

But math doesn’t stop there.  Because you have to show all your work (or, at least, we did when I was in school; I don’t know how the state of calculator use has advanced), you can always go back and find your mistake.  Find your mistake, fix it, recalculate and we’re back in business!  If only determining and remedying our mistakes in the rest of life were so easy.  

I was called “wise,” tonight.  It’s not the first time I’ve been described that way, but frankly I don’t think I possess any special skills or insight others lack.  Truthfully, if I’m wise it’s because I make a lot of mistakes.  I make mistakes, I reflect on them, and I try to make different and/or better choices the next time.  It seems simple because it is, this is how we learn.  But as I grow older I am honestly floored by how many supposed “adults” I’ve met that are afraid to make mistakes or, worse yet, learn from them!  Even my closest friends warn me against taking risks.  I know they mean well, I know they don’t want to see me hurt, but the size of the reward is generally directly proportional to the size of the risk.  You dream big? You’ll have to take big risks to get it.  

So let me propose that the idea that mistakes are in any way, shape or form “bad” is completely ludicrous.  Mistakes are a blessing.  For one, we’re not actually required to be perfect, even if we insist on putting that pressure on ourselves.  (I’m utterly convinced perfect would be boring anyway.  The Twilight Zone fans out there know what I’m talking about.)  More importantly, mistakes open the door for new knowledge and insight.  Some of history’s best inventions began as “mistakes.”  

If mistakes are inherently good things (which seems oxymoronic to say, I know), the best mistakes are the one you learn the most from.  Which, unfortunately, often correlates with the size of the mistake… There have been times in my life where getting my heartbroken, saying the wrong thing to the new boss, utterly embarrassing myself, etc.–the things that sting so damn much in the moment–where the best things that could’ve happened to me. 

Relationship mistakes are perhaps the most interesting because we don’t learn what’s necessary “right” or “wrong,” we learn about ourselves.  We learn who we are, how we love, how we cope, what we want, want we can give and what we’re willing to give.  And those are some of the most important things to know about oneself.  So was dating my coworker dumb? Sure.  Did dating someone twice my age present more challenges than I anticipated? Absolutely.  Will co-dependency gnaw at your sense of self like a hungry rat? Of course.  But I don’t regret a single one of these mistakes.  Perhaps I wish I’d know better sooner, but I know better now.  And that’s what matters.  

So what exactly have I learned through my various relationship follies?  Well, it sounds cliche, but I’ve certainly learned that the most important relationship I have is with myself and that self-care is not optional or self-indulgent, it’s a matter of survival.  I’ve learned that while relating is important, I never want to be the most important or *biggest* thing in someone’s life or vise versa.  I’ve learned that relationships are supposed to enhance your life, not become your life, not engulf your life.  I’ve learned that you don’t give to get, and, at the same time, if you’re consistently giving and not getting anything in return, it’s time to move on.  Often the act of giving gives back to ourselves, but if that’s not happening there’s a problem.  I’ve learned that jealousy is an extremely silly emotion that usually arises from not speaking your peace.  I’ve learned to speak up.  I’ve learned that sex is better when you’re loud. 

I’ve learned that Love is not always enough. 

I’ve learned that while I cannot control the actions or reactions of others, I can make informed choices and be in control of my own emotions and reactions, which is actually quite a lot.  I’ve learned that I don’t have to catch what others are throwing at me.  I’ve learned that making and keeping boundaries is hard work, but well worth the effort.  I’ve learned that love is meant to be shared–inclusive, not exclusive.  I’ve learned that 99% of the time it’s not personal.  I’ve learned to trust the person who shows me they love me without saying it, over the person who says it without showing it.  I’ve learned that my heart will heal and grow back, and being bitter just keeps the wounds from healing.   I’ve learned that if I love myself first, I have more to give others as a result.  I’ve learned that dating co-workers is about as good an idea as living with friends (i.e. not very).  I’ve learned some people will take as much as you let them.  I’ve learned that you are not obligated to anyone, even if they love you.  I’ve learned that communication is crucial.  I’ve learned that genuine love means letting go, even when it’s the last thing in the world you want to do.  

I’ve learned that there’s more than one right way to Love. 

This is an incomplete list, by far, and I know I still have much to learn.  The things I’ve learned are not necessarily universal truths, though some might be.  They’re what’s true for me, what I want in and out of my life.  I think that’s why there are so many mistakes we have to make for ourselves.  Not because we’re stubborn and won’t listen, but because we’re all unique people, so we’ll learn different things through our mistakes.  We’ll learn what we value, what we love, and what hurts the deepest.   

As long as you’re willing to take a risk, the rest will follow.  

Starin’ down the stars
Jealous of the moon
You wish you could fly
Just being where you are
There’s nothin’ you can do
If you’re too scared to try…

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Patience is a Virtue

In one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen, The Mummy (1999), there’s a scene where the main characters are being chased by a mob.  Evy is trying to translate something that will help them stop the mob and Rick asks her to PLEASE hurry it up.  She simply responds without stopping what she’s doing, “Patience is a virtue.”  It’s always tickled me, and sometimes I use it to respond to impatience in real life.

However you feel about virtues, patience is a useful skill.  Very few things in life happen overnight, most of the time we have to wait.  And the better something is, the longer we have to wait! (Not the all the time, but often.)  Because of this, learning patience is downright practical.  Impatience brings a great deal of unnecessary discontent upon the barer.  Which isn’t to say don’t speak up or advocate for yourself when you need to, but learn to be patient too.  Timing is key.

This is very much how I feel about relationships.  I rarely go looking for a relationship, they seem to elude me when I do anyway.   But I wait, I meet people, I do things I enjoy doing, and eventually I meet someone I want to date and sometimes they want to date me too!  Sure, many of my friends are married, some married in their teens, most in their early to mid 20s.  And sure, it’s tempting to compare myself to their timeline, but what’s the use in that?

My beau and his wife have been married for 12 years.  They’re happy and they’ve built a life together despite challenges such as both of them being poly and very busy people.  It’s hard not to envy such a amazing relationship, but then I remember that my beau was 8 years older than I am now when they met.  There’s still time.  Heck, as long as we’re breathing there’s still time.  And surely their relationship did not come to be so awesome without hard work and–wait for it!–patience.

Truth be told, he waited for me, too.  We met over a year ago, really hit it off, but I didn’t call him… I was caught up in my own junk at the time, and it took me a whole damn year to call him.  But he didn’t prod me, he just waited.  And eventually I came to him.  If he’d pushed, I wouldn’t have.  (I know this about myself from past experience.) And now… now I feel like such an idiot for not calling him sooner!  But really, the timing wasn’t right then.  And I almost passed this up entirely because the timing wasn’t right.  What a terrible fool I would’ve been…

I can’t tell you whether it’s fate or coincidence, honestly, but sometimes life’s timing is uncanny.  Sometimes you get exactly what you need at exactly the right time.  And sometimes you have to wait a little while.

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Wristbands, really?

I’m just a little flabbergasted.  Apparently we need to brand single people now so you know they’re single (like how you totally know someone is unavailable if they wear a ring their left ring finger).

There are two major problems I see with this concept:
(1) Despite Facebook’s insistence that you’re either are, were or wish to be married, there’s actually a lot more nuance to relationship statuses, even if you’re single.  I mean, heck, at the moment I’m “single but seeing someone,” what color wristband would that be?
(2) It’s downright degrading!

Jezebel’s coverage of the issue is actually pretty thorough, and I appreciate the seething sarcasm.  They certainly cover the problem of nuance, “seven colors cannot possibly contain the multitudes of relationship statuses within singleness.” True story.

Perhaps the creation of these isn’t as insidious as I suspect… Creator Rob says: ‘Whilst working at my previous office of 3,500 people, I realised that I saw hundreds of people each day that could potentially be a suitable partner, yet there was no way of knowing their relationship status.’  Then again, maybe it is.

Really, Rob? NO WAY of knowing? So it’s safe to assume you cut out your tongue to win a bet and that’s why you can’t simply TALK to people to find out what their deal is? REALLY? I mean, it’s not even hard nowadays: you can talk, text, skype, chat, tweet, post, like, etc. etc. The ways we communicate keep expanding, but you need a special colored wristband to know who’s single so, HEAVEN FORBID, you don’t accidentally have a conversation with someone who’s romantically unavailable but may, nevertheless, make a great friend? I call shenanigans.

I really do find this degrading.  Maybe that seems a little out of proportion.  Granted, it’s hardly the same as the pink triangle, and it’s still a form of branding.  Branding a person to reduce them to a single characteristic and separate them accordingly.

Not only is it degrading because it reduces me to my status as “single” and nothing else, but it also springboards off the assumption that there’s simply no way I would willingly choose to be single.

“The new MY Single Band bracelet aims to take some of the complication out of looking for love, enabling singletons to easily spot each other.” 

Clearly, I am a “singleton” against my will, but thanks to this nifty colored wristbands (that happen to look exactly like the colored wristbands people wear for causes or those “shag bands” kids were into for a minute) will solve all my problems!  All I need to do is find someone wearing the right color wristband– no need to waste time talking or getting to know people!

Sinceriously– it’s degrading.  And they absolutely reinforce the idea of there being ONE TRUE LOVE out there, waiting for you with baited breath.  “The silicone wristbands are embossed with the words fate, destiny and future.”  I think I might gag.  If “fate” and “destiny” were REALLY at play here, then why would you need a stupid silicone wristband to find each other???

This idea does vaguely remind me of a quirky film I saw on Netflix called “TiMER.”  The concept is that science knows who your soulmate is and you can get a timer installed in your wrist which will tell you when you’re going to meet them!  It’s an interesting idea, and despite my general cynicism I actually adored this movie.  Why? I thought it did a fabulous job of challenging the traditional narrative about how you’re supposed to fall in love and raises some interesting questions.  In a world where you can know who your soulmate is, does dating have a purpose? What if you meet someone you like, but know they’re not your soulmate per the timer?  What if you meet someone you like and they don’t HAVE a timer?  Ultimately, the point I took home is that there isn’t a right way to love.  There’s just love.

So, in response to disgusting wristbands: No thanks, I’d rather continue having meaningful conversations and getting to know people without being focused on their relationship status.  Cool?

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Welcome to the Future

Last night was yet another amazing evening spent with my new beau.  I was recounting some of the night to a close friend of mine, telling her about how happy I was, how a meteor could fall on my head right now and I’d still have a smile on my face, but inevitably “the future” came back to haunt me.

“Don’t hate me,” she began, “But what does this mean for the future?”

I get it.  I understand the path we are taught to take always ends in marriage and kids and this one doesn’t.  But why is that so scary? 

“Uh, lots of hot sex with someone who adores me as much as I adore him?” I responded.  

But of course it’s more than that.  Of course I’m emotionally invested (meaningless sex really does it get me off, but power to the folks it does!) in this relationship, non-tradition though it may be.  And of course a relationship has to go somewhere.  Even if the habits stay the same, even if one doesn’t progress towards marriage or living together, being together for a long time will inevitably lead to a deeper connection– and that, admittedly, is something I do desire.  

But let’s pretend, for argument’s sake, that he were single and monogamous.  It really wouldn’t change where we are right now: enjoying each other’s company, figuring out each other’s quirks.  We’re still new to each other, and at this stage, we’re having fun and learning.  All relationships start this way, regardless of where they end up. 

So I can’t help but wonder, what’s the rush?  What’s the rush to see it “evolve”? And why does evolution only look one way (i.e. marriage)?  I think Darwin would be disappointed by the suggestion.  Yes, my options would be different, but so what?  Even if I had options like marriage and kids and living together, is that something I even want? Right now I can definitely say, “Hell no!” 

“Wouldn’t you eventually want to live with your partner?” asks my concerned friend.  “Not necessarily,” is the answer, but more the point, who says I couldn’t?  I’ve seen some very creative polyamorous households, for the record.  But really, I don’t know.  I’ve never actually lived with a partner (unless you count that semester from hell back in college, I don’t) and I don’t know that I’d want to.  I very much enjoy having my own living space, and even if I did agree to move in with someone, it would be with the caveat that I had at least a room that was all my own space.   A place to escape to, in case of emergency.  

“But don’t you get jealous?” she asks.  A fair question, and I tell her honestly, “Yes, sometimes.  But actually it’s good for me to get confronted with my jealously.  When I stop to think about it, I realize there’s really nothing to be jealous of.  When I’m with him I feel loved and sexy and desirable and heck, even important.  Each relationship is unique, and when I’m aware of this comparison begins to seem so foolish!” 

I really appreciate how open my friend is being, I know it’s hard for her to think I could be happy without getting married.  “When you do believe that marriage and babies is the path that people take and the structure you believe in, its scary when people you love step outside of that.” 

“I guess it’s just dawning on me now, truly, that marriage isn’t the ONLY path to happiness, to family, to love.  It’s disorienting, to be sure, but freeing too.” 

But really, what I can’t get over is what’s the rush? Honestly, what is it? Is it that my biological clock is ticking? Don’t worry, my ovaries never let me forget.  Is it that everybody else is doing it (I’m at that age, I’m going to at least a wedding a year)?  Or is it that life is short? 

Well that’s the irony, I suppose.  It’s because life is short that I DON’T see the rush.  Why am I going to plan for 5 or 10 years down the road when, in reality, the world could explode this evening?  I don’t know what’s going to happen next.  I could win the lottery, I could get hit by a bus, I could find a baby goat on my doorstep and be tasked with raising him to be a proud, badass adult goat.  I don’t know! And that’s the beauty of it.  

So yes, I’m staying in the here and the now as much as possible.  I’m focusing on all the amazing things happening in my life right at this very moment– the future will come soon enough no matter how (un)prepared I am.  So why concern myself with the amorphous FUTURE, when I can spend my time being grateful for everything already present in my life? 

THE FUTURE, as far as I can tell, has already arrived. 

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Diminished

Have you ever heard the saying, “A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle”?  It’s a beautiful quote, author unknown, that speaks volumes to me about community, helping our neighbors, and giving for the sake of it.  But that’s probably because I’m a bleeding heart who works in the non-profit sector.  

But what if we applied this concept to Love? I would argue that right now, we don’t.  The model we’re peddle from day one thanks to companies like Disney is that somewhere out there this is a magical person who is your missing other half and all you have to do is find them! There are only 7 billion people on Earth, so how hard can that be? True love awaits!  

If you’ve been reading my blog for more than 5 minutes, then you already know I think this idea is bullocks.  There are just too many people in the world and too much love to be shared to say that we each have ONE person who’s our soulmate, ONE person who will be right for us for our whole lives through and ONE person whom will provide us with everything we need.  It sounds like a fairy tale because it IS a fairy tale.  

People ebb and flow in our lives.  Some leave as quickly as they arrived, others stay in it for the long haul, their involvement in our lives varying over time as we grow up, grow apart and come back together again.  I think of parents, for example.  No one would deny the important of their parents in their lives (for better or for worse), but most of us don’t talk to them every day.  We might even have friends that are our parents’ ages.  Does this mean we’ve replaced our parents? Does this mean we don’t care about them or love them?  Of course not.  When you’re 5, you spend every waking moment with your mother.  When you’re 25, you’re probably dodging her Sunday morning calls so she doesn’t know how hungover you are.  Our relationships change and evolve over time, but they are not somehow less important because they change. 

So back to my original question… what if we shared our love freely and weren’t ruled by ugly emotions such as envy and jealousy? Why do we hold onto this concept that by virtue of sharing our love, it is somehow diminished? 

It’s a insidious little thought, one that permeates every part of our culture.  The whole concept of “purity” or virginity is based on this idea– that you should only share yourself with ONE person, and if you share yourself with more than one person, you yourself are diminished– you, yourself, are worth less than you previously were.  Well I call shenanigans on this purity bullshit and all it entails.  Whatever higher power gave me this body also imbued me with bodily autonomy.  As long as I am sharing my love, and not hurting anyone, as long as I am consensually giving of myself, how am I diminishing myself?  The more I love, the stronger I feel, it just doesn’t add up.  

So if you’re a purist or a fundamentalist, if you think a woman’s worth is directly related to her virgnity, this is simply where we part ways.  I will never believe that a person’s worth is in any way tied to their virginity, regardless of gender, and frankly I find any other assertion disgusting.  We are more than the sum of our experiences, more than a series of actions taken or acted upon us.   Human beings are beautiful, complex creatures and I can’t think of anything much more meaningless than the number of people you’ve had sex with.  Like most numbers, it’s just used to shame.  Throw it out!  Love all, shame none. This is a SHAME-FREE ZONE.  

Over the years I’ve had run-ins with polyamory, as it were.  I used to say I just kept falling for people who identified as poly, but at some point I have take a closer examination of the fact that I keep gravitating towards people who identify as polyamorous.  Note: polyamory as in “many loves,” not polygamy as in many spouses.  (Which isn’t to say I’m against polygamy, but it’s not quite what I’m talking about.  Culturally speaking, polygamy is often tied to certain religious beliefs, while polyamory is basically the creation of many thoughtful, ethical sluts.)  

Recently I met someone who just awes me in so many ways, perhaps most profoundly in how much love he has to give.  He is, indeed, polyamorous and he has complete understanding of the idea that one relationship need not take away from another.  We are force-fed the idea of of monogamy (along with the marriage and picket fence end game) and the concept of relationship hierarchy.  And this is where I see a lot of new-to-poly folks fall into a trap.  They might’ve gotten rid of the monogamy thought, but not the hierarchy, and that will cause serious problems if you are juggling more than one romantic relationship at a time.  Trust me.  

But what if we throw both ideas out?  No more hierarchy, no more “primary partner” or “one and only”, just love.  Just love given freely.  It seemed so simple when it first hit me.  That jealousy is beyond pointless.  That I can love someone and have a deep and unique connection with them– and it doesn’t diminish what we have for me to love others, or for them to love others.  If anything, you’re just making the pie bigger.  More love, no shame, no jealousy, no competition.  I’m not saying it’s easy, especially when we’ve been taught the only way to be special to someone is to segregate them from all others.  But that’s not the way.  That sounds more like keeping a pet than loving a person, to me.  I mean, heck, even my cats are allowed to socialize.  

So I ask again, how is my Love diminished by sharing it with more people?  Knowledge is strengthened by spreading it around, I don’t see why Love is any different. 

Just use a condom.  Seriously, be safe.  

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End Game

Thanks to prolonged peer pressure from some of my coworkers, I finally caved in and watched Orange is the New Black, which I highly recommend.  For those who are unfamiliar, the show is based on the memoir of Piper Kerman about her time in a women’s prison.  The show itself is rife with prison and lesbian drama and while I certainly wouldn’t call it a comedy, it has it’s lighter moments.

Towards the end of season one, Piper asks her on-again-off-again lover what exactly the “end game” of their relationship is.  That is, are they going to move to Vermont and have a baby, or will they hop around the globe from one fabulous party to another, free-falling through life? These are but two lesbian stereotypes in an ocean of possibility, of course, but the point is clear: Most of us date because we’re in search of a particular end game.  And, for many of us, that looks like monogamous marriage with kids and, yes, a white picket fence.

I’m not knocking marriage or monogamy, but I don’t know what the rush is to get to the end of the game.   I mean, the world we live in is such that many people live into their 80s, 90s and beyond– so why the rush to pop out a kid by 25? Why the need to plan your wedding when you’re not even engaged? Why the insistence on labeling a relationship (and the associated expectations) so quickly? What ever happened to living in the moment?

I reconnected with someone a few weeks ago who’s company I’ve been thoroughly enjoying.  I guess it would be fair to say we’ve been enjoying each other.  It’s rare, at least in my experience, to find someone you’re just comfortable being with– where silences are just silences without the awkward, where looking at one another is endlessly engaging, where you’re free to be yourself, whatever that looks like.  But that’s how it’s been with us.  We sincerely like each other, we enjoy spending time together, and beyond that their are no expectations.

I think it’s kind of perfect, actually.  I love adding interesting and passionate people to my life, so why not do so without worrying about labels?  Why not enjoy the company of those around you without concerning yourself with where you’ll all be in ten years?  Not everyone sees it that way, though.

One of my closest friends is getting married next Spring, and unlike me she’s all about the wedding planning.  But she’s also all about monogamous marriage and sincerely doesn’t seem to understand that I am not worried about the long-term right now.  My last relationship was all about the long-term, empty promises and sweet nothings.  I don’t want any more of that… but the idea that maybe I changed my mind, that maybe I was wrong about what I wanted (a long-term committed relationship, for example) and just want to have fun in the NOW is very foreign to my soon-to-be-bride friend.

To use an analogy, our conversations feel like this lately:

Me: Oh wow! Look at this delicious cake! I’m so going to eat this cake! 
Friend: NO! Don’t eat the cake! You might get diabetes in 10 years! 
Me: Yeah, but, I want cake right now and right now I don’t have diabetes. 
Friend: But you have to plan for your future! 
Me: … *shoves cake in her mouth* 

I know she’s concerned that I might get hurt (that’s a risk you take when you put your heart in anything, I’m prepared for the consequences), and that she’s concerned because she cares about me but… it almost feels like concern trolling.  Even worse, it feels like she’s condescending to me.  I tell her about how happy I am and she says things like, “That’s so nice” as though what I’m doing is some kind of quaint placeholder until I wise up and go on a husband (wife?) hunt.

But what I’ve realized is that I don’t need to hunt– I don’t need another person to complete me or make my life work, and my life is full of dear friends who love me very much.  While sometimes it’s hard to separate the peer pressure (thanks, Facebook) from my actual wants and desires, I’m finally starting to accept that maybe I don’t want what most people seem to want, and maybe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, I have a lot of love to give, who says I need to give it all in the same place?

I came across this comment on an article recently and it really resonated with me: “As mentioned above, I’m older. I do NOT want to get married or have kids. The best relationships that I’ve ever had consisted of sex and dinner a few times a week, peppered with intense conversations and some social outings as a couple. I’m fairly self-sufficient, and don’t really WANT someone who is too deeply ingrained in my daily routine. I’ve been accused of everything from being a heartless bitch to a total evil slutsicle for articulating this.”

Well, I’m “younger” by many standards, but otherwise I feel very similar.  I don’t want to get married, and while I do want kids someday, that’s something I’m really not going to start thinking about for at least 5 more years.  I love having my own place and I don’t want to move in with anyone or infuse myself into their daily routine.  But I do want fun and great sex and intense conversations with someone with whom I share a sincere connection… yeah, I guess that does make us sluts, Internet Sister.   At least by the standards of the penis-barers.   (This is one of many reasons why I only sleep with feminists, no joke.)

Suddenly, English is failing me yet again.  How does one even refer to the types of connections I’m talking about?  The rhetoric we have surrounding dating and relationships reinforces the idea that the end game is, should and shall always be marriage, kids, house, dog, fence, etc.   If you’re “dating,” it’s for the hope that you’ll turn out to be great life partners and decide to get married.   I could effectively say I’m dating right now, since I’m going out on dates and having fun, but my end goal isn’t a long-term relationship and that’s the expectation with “dating.”  It’s a kind of courtship, at least it’s assumed to be.  So how do I say I’m non-exclusively dating and not looking for a spouse?  What a mouthful.   No wonder I’m a quirkyalone.

My friend says, “I’m just concerned that there is potential for you to fall madly in love with someone who won’t give you everything you want in life.” and I can’t help but laugh out loud.  Is this a common sentiment– that we’re supposed to get “everything we want in life” from ONE person– one person who isn’t even ourselves?  It’s just so ludicrous, I have to laugh.  If I’ve learned anything from my last relationship, it’s that making yourself happy is crucial and it’s nobody else’s responsibility but your own.  When we depend solely on others to make us happy or “give us what we want,” we’re not only setting ourselves up for failure, we’re being outright unfair.   I don’t know any psychics  so I’ve always found it good practice to ask for the things you want or need from others, rather than waiting for them to figure it out and pout passively in the meantime.  But I’m single and unmarried– what could I possible know about relationships?

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