Quick poly analogy about “fairness”

From a recent conversation with a friend. Please note, this is not about my relationship or my situation in the slightest.

Fairness with objects: “if you have a cookie, I get a cookie.”

Fairness with human beings: “if you are able to explore new relationships, I am able to explore new relationships.”

Unfairness with objects:  “If you ate a cookie and my cookie fell on the floor in the middle of a New York City gutter, you have to find the nearest restroom facility and puke up your cookie.”

Unfairness with human beings: “If my extracurricular relationship fails, you have to end yours.”

tl;dr: People are not objects. Don’t “experiment” with people’s emotions.  Learn the difference between fair and idealistic.  Recognize when your idealism is actually very unfair (and hurtful) to someone else.


Deconstructing the destruction: How Professor Snape and Lily Potter’s eyes can help you process your most recent breakup

I used to “fall in love” online every twenty-two minutes. That’s an exaggeration, but suffice it to say that as a very young adult (and sometimes teenager) I would meet people online and start developing emotional attachments to them very quickly. It was easy to do this. I didn’t know they snored. Or subscribed to the “If it’s yellow, it’s mellow / if it’s brown flush it down” mentality. I didn’t know they were rude to servers, or hated children. I didn’t know because I didn’t ask.

Why the fuck would I ask that?

“So, what’s your favorite color, what did you want to be when you grew up, and are you rude to servers?”

When you’re developing an online romance, you fill in the blanks of what you don’t know with the best case scenario. You assume they don’t do the things you HATE that people do because you are idealizing all the things they say that make you feel so good.

Guess what? They didn’t know the bad stuff about me either. They didn’t know that I regularly leave the cap off the toothpaste. That I wait until it takes DAYS to do laundry to do the laundry. That you will regularly find clumps of my hair circling the drain, and that I get terribly gassy when I eat too much garlic.

Why the fuck would they ask that? They just assume I can tolerate garlic like normal people do.

So, what’s this got to do with breakups and Snape?

There’s a thing that happens when a breakup isn’t amicable. You know, when it’s not the two partners sitting down and negotiating their way out of the relationship the same way we negotiate our way into them. The thing that happens is that one or both of them, (usually the person that was left, and not the leaver …but sometimes the leaver, too) start to question a lot of things. They feel blindsided by the sudden news that they were not wanted.

And it’s hard to process that, because….why the fuck would they have filled in the blanks with “this person does not want me the way I want them?”

Blah, Blah, Blah – communication. Communication, communication, communication. How many half-hour sitcoms would be over in 30 seconds if the comedic duo just TOLD each other what they were thinking instead of relying on innuendo and assumptions?

But, okay – in this case, communication was lacking at some point and the whole thing comes crashing down – and someone gets hurt. This next bit isn’t only about online or long-distance type relationships. It’s about ANY type of relationship.

Think about the Harry Potter films. The early ones, where Snape is such a DOUCHE. OMG, he’s taking that shit out on Harry just because Harry’s dad teased him in High School? GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF, HALF-BLOOD.

And why did he always look so fuckingconstipated?

But when you get to the end of the series and you find out what Alan Rickman knew all along – what he knew since the very beginning that none of the other actors knew – that Snape had the hots for Lily Potter. Not just a schoolboy crush, Snape was in love with her. And that he did everything he did to protect Harry because Harry had his mother’s eyes.

We didn’t have that information. That’s why we cried so much in the end when he died. Fuckin’ Snape was the unsung hero, and we’d had all these horrible thoughts about him, when he was a good guy all along.

That’s basically the OPPOSITE of what happens with relationships that fall apart. In relationships, what we get is the polyjuice copy of Mad-Eye Moody, where we think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread only to find out they’re really the 10th Doctor with Daddy Issues in disguise.

Wait…hold on…

Whatever. You know what I mean.

The thing that happens after the breakup is that we start questioning EVERYTHING. We don’t understand – “why did he/she say X when now they are doing Y?” I don’t think we’re trying to disprove our current reality – we’re not trying to go back to them and say “No, wait, you can’t be leaving me because three weeks ago you told me that that photo of my grandmother made you think that you couldn’t wait to grow old with me, so therefore you must love me and cannot leave!”

I mean, some people do that – but it doesn’t ever really work out well. I think mostly what we’re trying to do is re-calibrate our instincts. “Wait, was I wrong? How could I be wrong? What were the signs that I was wrong so that I can be more prepared to notice them in the future?”

We go back and watch all the movies again, now knowing what we know and start to see the signs of the truth. Oh yeah, remember that time that he said Cloris Leachman was a babe? Or the time that he insisted on vacationing in Boca Raton in February? Or that time he said it would be fun to learn how to play Bridge?

You go back and suddenly it makes sense why he would say he can’t wait to grow old with you, and then leave you a few weeks later for the octogenarian hottie he met at the Bingo tournament. He wasn’t lying at all. He literallycould not wait.

So. What happens next? You’ve done a rewatch. And a re-read. And you found new clues. And then you do another re-watch. And maybe another re-read and this time you pick up on other clues.

And you think, if I can just keep re-watching this I’ll have deconstructed this entire relationship so shit like this never happens to me again.

Meanwhile, there have been a ton of other great movies and books that have come out. Really good ones with bad-ass babes with bows and arrows and shit. But you’re still re-reading an almost 20-year old series, looking for clues.

Yes, there are stages of grief that include denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. It’s that last one – acceptance. There’s not an exact time frame when this should be happening. But, it should eventually happen.

My giddy teenager

I’ve written about “my little” before, but I’d stopped updating my index at that point and I can’t remember what I titled it, so … I dunno, it’s somewhere in that mountain of writing. So is the metaphor of all of these different aspects of my personality being passengers on a “bus” that take their turns at the wheel.

But if I recall the gist of it, it had to do with my “little” not being happy. A friend of mine called her a “Sad Little.” She, (because these different sides of me are like a bunch of different people that make up one phi), ….she (not me) is afraid, has abandonment issues, and feels a constant yearning to be unconditionally loved. She is the manifestation of my fears that the people I care about in my life are going to go away or not want me anymore.

And she’s been dormant for the better part of a year now. She was probably the last bit of me clinging with arms wrapped tightly around the ankle of codependency as it pulled away.

This new bit of me has emerged. He called her the “giddy teenager.” She is the manifestation of the excitement and joy and fearless way that I approach love when I feel completely secure. For those who know me in person and accuse my eyes of “lighting up” when I talk about him or something we’ve done or planned to do…that’s her. That’s the giddy teenage wallflower getting ready for prom with the star of the football team at the end of the 80s rom-com. Yes, in he next scene he’s throwing eggs at her or standing her up or whatever, but not that part. The part where she’s all excited in her new dress and her head is spinning with all the possibilities of what the night will bring.

That part. HER.

I fucking LOVE her.

But, I feel like it’s important to point out that these are all just little bits of me, and no one of these characteristics make up my whole. It’s not that the sad little has now aged into giddy teenager. Sad Little is dormant, but she’s still part of the whole phi, napping in the back of the metaphorical bus. None of us are one-dimensional characters, and we all have parts of us that ebb and flow with the tide of personality.

I know I’ve written about that before too, but whatever. I just think it’s important to remember that you don’t really know anybody here by the words on the screen, nor likely by the first impression they make on you.

Hell, he told me that when we first started spending time together, the giddy teenager caused him concern, but that over time he realized that she never takes over completely. Now, when she pops into the forefront, he smiles. He recognizes and loves her as part of who I am, and knows that I can (and do) send her to the back of the bus when it’s time for one of the serious or mature aspects of my personality to take the wheel.

Giddy teenager does not just become “bratty sorority girl” when responsibilities come knocking. I don’t actually have “bratty sorority girl” on the bus.

Guess she overslept and missed the stop.

Shooting spitballs at butterflies

They met in the caterpillar colony, under the shade of a broad leaf.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m shooting spitballs at butterflies.” he responded.

She seemed puzzled. “The butterflies are beautiful and free. Why are you shooting spitballs at them?”

He shrugged. “They’re not any better than we are. And when I hit one, it proves just how fragile they really are. Butterflies aren’t any more special than you are.”

She liked the sound of that, and she crawled over and sat by him.

Time passed. Friends would come and then go.

“You’ve been around a long time,” they’d say. “Yeah, I like being a caterpillar,” he’d say. People can go and be butterflies if they want to, but I like it here on the ground.”

“I want to be a butterfly one day and be free,” said the friend.

“You can be whatever you want to be,” said the caterpillar. Later on, they’d see their friends shedding their cocoons and flying off. “Do you think they’re prettier when they fly?” asked his young friend.

“Nah, they’re alright, but they’re not you.” She liked the sound of that and decided to stay a caterpillar another day.

“Wow. It’s really great up there,” the friends would say when they’d stop off on the leaf for a visit. “Views for days, and when it’s warm out the wind feels great under our wings.”

“That’s cool,” said the other caterpillar. But he saw his young friend beside him look longingly at the colorful butterfly wings.

After the butterfly took off, he looked at her. “They’re no better than you are, you know. Just because they can fly now and have pretty colors. You’re great as a caterpillar. In fact, you’re even BETTER this way.”

And that was the last time she ever thought about building her own cocoon. Instead, she’d curl up contentedly each morning beside him and watch the world from a leaf, never from the sky.

“What are you doing?” she asked him one morning.

“Shooting spitballs at butterflies.”

“But that was our friend.”

“We’re caterpillars. We don’t have butterfly friends. They can’t be trusted.”

Minutes later, she was rolling up spitballs, too.

The Collar

I have lots of collars.  Lots and lots and lots.  They’re accessories, though, like the many many rings i have and wear when I’m dressing up for a special occasion.

But not like the rings I keep tucked in a special box in my jewelry drawer:  my engagement and wedding rings.

Those are different.  Those are symbolic.  I don’t wear those anymore.

I don’t have a collar like that.  I never have.  Almost did, once.

This is the story about that one:

I always wore red nail polish.  She wore blue.  Whenever he got us a similar thing, I would get the red, and she’d get the blue.

She had a lot of insecurities.  Most of them were based on a lack of self worth. The angry part of me would tell you that her self-worth was probably right where it belonged, though at the time – I tried to convince her otherwise.

She started doing things….little things at first, to undermine my relationship with him.

He kept letting her.  He kept catering to her insecurities in such a way that our relationship (his and mine) would suffer.  Cancelling plans on me regularly. Changing our dynamic to please her. Subscribing to her near-constant emotional manipulation.

There was more.  Stuff I don’t want to get into because it’d bring up memories I don’t want to re-live and put him in a very unfavorable light.  He’ll read this.  He’ll agree:  he behaved very badly toward me, and he regrets it.  He’s asked for and received my forgiveness.

He’d told us he was getting us something special.  I can’t remember if I figured it out or if he told us point blank that he was getting each of us our own collars.  I was excited, because I’d never been given a collar before that meant something.  All the ones I had were freebies or accessories.  Costume pieces.  I’d wear them with him when we played, and I was attached to wearing them – but I wasn’t attached to THEM.

The last weekend we spent together, all together, she’d come over to our hotel room and unpacked her overnight bag.  She laid out, in the closet – on a shelf where it would be very visible – her corset, a leash, and …

A brand new, red leather collar.  He’d given it to her earlier in the week when they’d spent some time alone. He said the blue one was on back order and hadn’t arrived yet.

She known I’d seen it.  She’d known I hadn’t received mine yet.

I withdrew.  I was so upset. That was her intended result.  I left the room and went and sat by the hotel pool for over an hour. That was her intended result, as well.

He came up, eventually.  I told him how it felt seeing it.  How it looked as though he’d given her my collar because her insecurities had flared up when the red one had arrived and the blue one was on back-order.

He kept insisting that wasn’t what had happened.  That he’d intended for me to get the blue and her to get the red, contrary to the color-coding system we’d used for virtually everything in the short time we were all on the same continent simultaneously.

I couldn’t believe him.  There had been so many previous lies and manipulations he’d participated in, that the trust between us had been broken. No matter how often he swore to me that was the truth, I could never believe him.  I still don’t.

We broke up by the end of that weekend.  The blue one had come in a few weeks later.

I never received it.  That’s probably best.

Open Relationships; Closed Minds (a rant)

Note: This is a rant about something I experienced today. I do not think ALL poly people are this way. Not even ALL the poly people in the chatroom where this happened felt this way. Just the very vocal ones. But I’m upset by it and I need to vent, so…boom: blog post.

I asked a question in a poly chatroom today. It was a curiosity, really. I wanted to know how poly people handle reading about very intimate details between their partners and their other partners. It came up because I’ve seen several posts on Fetlife recently where people are chronicling their sex lives in erotica-like detail, and then seeing other people who I know have been intimately involved with the star of said story write thinly-veiled expressions of discomfort and upset.

I tend to keep my smut to the imagined or the long-ago for some similar reasons, and also because writing about current happenings in my sex life means I’m writing about someone else’s sex life and maybe he doesn’t want 2000 strangers knowing what he’s up to on Friday nights, know what I mean?

I talked about this with one of my metamours once, who said they would not be too upset by reading about my latest escapades, and yet, I still don’t post it. Not on FetLife, anyway. Some of it ends up here where I suppose they can opt-in if they want to.

What ended up happening in that chatroom got me all riled up and upset, though. Because most of the polyfolk (there was one who actually agreed with me) started seeing my query as a cry for help. They started trying to solve my “problem.”

The problem was, there WASN’T a problem.

I’m not sitting here wringing my hands ’cause I can’t post about that time he did this thing with that thing and then we both did that other thing. The “no posting about current events” mantra has been a rule of mine since before I was in a relationship.

And it’s not like my metamours are sitting there feeling left out of the conversation because I won’t share all these sexy details with them. I’m sure they don’t feel a pressing need to know. And if they do, I suppose they could ask me.

So again….it wasn’t advice I was after. Just information. An informal poll of the collected polyfolk online at the time.

And what I ended up participating in was very distressing, to be honest. A bunch of people telling me that my way of thinking was “wrong,” despite my repeatedly reminding them that I wasn’t complaining and that I am asking them how they view these things as poly people because I am not poly.

I finally told one of my friends who had been one of the ones trying to “solve” the Problem That Wasn’t a Problem and said, “I feel like the fact that I am monogamous isn’t being respected in the same way that I respect that all of you are poly.”

It felt preachy. It felt like I was being told that my not wanting to know just how hard he thrusts or how far into his other partners’ throats he gets meant that I was doing relationships all wrong. I mean, would I be upset to learn that they went to the ice cream store and got a watermelon sorbet? (This is literally one of the comparisons drawn.)

And somehow it got from “I don’t want to know details about their intimacies” to “I don’t want to know ANYTHING about their relationships.”

Hi….I need to just…


I get it. You don’t “get” monogamy. Fine. I get that you don’t GET it.

And yet, I still have an open enough mind to GET your relationship preference.

I still have an open enough mind to understand how YOU process love.

And yet, I still want to educate myself on how you see other things differently than I do by ASKING you how you view something in particular that I view in another way.

But no….No, no. I’m not allowed to have a different point of view. Because you just don’t GET it.

For people in such open relationships, I really was astounded at the closed minds I was exposed to this afternoon.

Critical Thinking

Yesterday, NPR reposted a story to their facebook page from 2014. The article title was: Why doesn’t America read anymore?

If you clicked through to read the article, it wished you a happy April Fool’s Day and explained that they wanted to see how many people actually read the stories vs how many people just commented based on the title alone.

It asked that the people who clicked through not mention it in the comments. And of course, the post had been filled with comments from people arguing with the title of the post, as if it were true.

The person who reposted it on my feed said something along the lines of “April 1st, the one day of the year that people look at every news article critically before believing it.”

In my third attempt at college, I had to take an English course called “Critical Thinking.” It taught us logical fallacies and explained that you can’t just take everything you read for granted. That’s the class where you have to write a lot of argumentative and persuasive essays

And, despite my never having actually finished my degree in creative writing, I can say that I probably took more away from that class than any other in my very long and unfinished college career.

I think very critically whenever I read or hear anything. I don’t mean “critically” in the sense of “negatively”…I mean it in the sense of wondering what the authors’ bias or purpose is, trying to asses any logical fallacies, and engaging my ability to question things and form my own opinions, rather using “chameleon thinking” and automagically buying everything I read.

We’re taught how to do this from a young age. We’re told not to talk to strangers. We learn about heroes who affected positive social change in the world by questioning authority. Especially here in “America,” where we are spoon fed the ideals of critical thinking as soon as we are taught the words “We, the people.”

It’s no wonder that I read so many accounts of people here and in “real” life who say they have trouble accepting a compliment. “I don’t know what to say,” say some. “I don’t think of myself that way,” say others.

It’s taking “critical” thinking and turning it into “self-critical” thinking.

I get this. I used to feel like being paid a compliment was like accepting charity. You tell me I look gorgeous and I might tell you that it’s hair dye, makeup, and a little photo editing, or camera angles and great support undergarments.

What I’m doing might seem like I’m trying to deny that I’m anything special because I don’t want you to feel obligated to compliment me.

But, I make my bread and butter asking people to give to charity. I don’t want them to feelobligated to give. I want them to feel like they are privileged to be part of something great.

When I deny a donor the opportunity to fund research that might help cure their husband or wife, what I’m really doing is taking away their option to do something they want to do.

I’ve worked with friends in the past and have heard many more who have been practicing on saying “thank you,” upon receiving a compliment. Just “thank you.” No rationalizations. No excuses. Just gratitude.

I was speaking with a friend about this recently. “What do you say when he tells you you’re gorgeous?” I asked.

“I’ve been working on just saying ‘thank you,'” she answered.

“Are you ready to level up?” I asked.

Because I’ve taken this whole accepting a compliment thing to the next level.

Are you ready for it?

When someone you love, when the person in your life that makes your nether bits react tells you something flattering, try setting that self-critical thinking aside and say this:

I believe you.

I’ve been doing it. He can tell you that I do it. When he tells me he loves me or that I’m beautiful or that he enjoys spending time with me.

I believe you.

It’s only a matter of time before you might start believing it in yourself.

Please note – It’s probably best continue to employ CRITICAL thinking (not self-critical thinking) when you are establishing a relationship with someone new. We all know there are people out there who are not as intimately associated with honesty as others. But, once you have decided to trust someone….

Trust them.