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Posts Tagged ‘poly relationships’

  1. The Gifts of Polyamory

    June 11, 2013 by Heather Cole

    When I first discovered poly, I thought it was the answer that I had been seeking to describe my unconventional views on romantic relationships. Finding out about ethical, open relationships felt like my squareness finally fit into the round hole. Heh… I said hole. I’ve heard over and over again that poly is “hard,” and I agree in so much that it takes effort and requires more communication than I ever realized. It’s like I bought into the poly idea because I thought it was going to bring me a ton of sex. Don’t get me wrong, I fuck a lot. But even more importantly, and what I didn’t realize when I started, was that poly brought me love… love and compassion and more opportunities for introspection and growth than I ever thought possible.

    When I was monogamous, I found that I was always hiding some part of myself. I fully expected to be married forever, so being completely honest about everything seemed more harmful than helpful in the long run. I subscribed to the “pick your battles” philosophy of relationships, and sometimes I felt like revealing everything I thought would only hurt us more. After the divorce when I was single again, I still operated along the pattern of hiding the difficult truths. Not all of them, mind you, but some of them.

    Poly and BDSM were the two things that inspired me to really change that pattern. In the various books I read about open relationships, the authors talked about honest and frequent communication. I was nodding and smiling and agreeing that this was a great theory, but it scared the crap out of me to be so open. I mean, what kind of person could love me in my entirety once they knew ALL of me?! I wasn’t trying to be open and honest with only one person either. Somehow I was going to do this with multiple people to foster multiple open relationships. Yes, there were times that I thought I was nuts. Even my mama said so.

    Some patterns are harder to break than others, but I honestly wanted to change this. Practicing polyamory offered me the way to do just that. It has taken time for me to change how I communicate, and I failed along the way, stumbled and asked myself over and over if this was what I wanted. With willing partners, though, my fuck ups didn’t mean an end to our conversations or our relationships. I’m reminded of this, because Zen and I had a breakdown of communication in the week following my birthday.

    “I’m never going to do that again,” I said to Zen. He had asked to meet me at the arboretum, and we sat amidst the blooming shrubs and trees and talked about some of our recent relationship challenges. In very general terms, I had failed to communicate sufficiently to both boyfriends about what precisely my birthday plans consisted of. As a result, Zen had felt excluded–like he was a lesser partner.  “I never want you to feel that way again,” I repeated.

    He looked at me and smiled, pulling me closer beside him on the bench. “You know, chances are that we’ll revisit this issue again. In fact, it might come back around several times. What’s important is that we agree to work on it and that we continue moving forward.”

    His words stole my breath. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He still loved me despite my fuck up, AND that we could be ok if it happened again. This man, this amazing, kind, thoughtful human being, offered his love to me when I was at my worst. He told me that he knew I would make mistakes, and that as long as we talked about it and tried to be better, that we could move forward. These challenges didn’t have to be the end of us. In fact, this hiccup in our relationship offered us the chance to become even better communicators and better lovers.

    I don’t know that I can fully articulate what a gift this was to me. Zen saw me, the Heather that was over-analytical and silent and confused, and he still wanted our relationship. Not because we were married or going to embark on some happily ever after scenario like in a monogamous paradigm, but because of our connection and the possibilities that we held between us. Those moments in our relationship may be messy or ugly or amazing and beautiful. And I never would have had the chance at this if I wasn’t poly.

    Poly has given me an abundance of sex, love and deep, quality relationships. The effort that I put into them, the energy that I expend, has been given back to me tenfold. I’m learning to show my vulnerability and to speak up when I’m dissatisfied. I’m finally feeling safe enough to show all of me and know that I will still be loved. Unfettered by the traditional paradigm of monogamy, I am free to explore and love to the very best of my ability, to reach beyond what I thought I understood about myself. I know that poly isn’t for everyone. Hell, my mama is still asking me if I’m going to marry one of my boyfriends. But I’m grateful a thousand times over that I discovered polyamory and that my boyfriends found me.


  2. You Think This Story’s Over / But It’s Ready to Begin

    March 2, 2013 by Heather Cole

    In my blog post, New Endeavors in Poly Land, I wrote about becoming conscious of my efforts to keep my people mostly insulated from each other. In my previous poly dynamic there was so much animosity and jealousy between partners that every visit was precluded by hours and hours of damage control. My coping mechanism was to keep each one in their individual silos, like a cone of silence but with sex. My efforts were futile, of course, because relationships aren’t tidy parcels that can be put away and then brought out when it’s convenient for everyone. The worst part was having that pattern creep its way into my new poly dynamic with new partners that had nothing to do with my past. It was a real bitch realizing that I was the only one in the room with a hangup. Everyone talked about how nice it would be to meet one another as I smiled and nodded, secretly freaking out that it was the beginning of the end.

    In my old poly life, I was responsible for the emotional well-being of one partner in particular. I chose to take that role, and anything I did or said in regards to my other boyfriend was grounds for a huge blow-up. I spent days before a visit reassuring him, promising him nothing would change between us, swearing up and down that my time away from him wasn’t depleting anything from our relationship. Sure, we said that we were poly but the way the relationship worked was more like grudgingly permitting me to cheat on the side. In the end I knew I’d be emotionally punished somehow for loving the other person.

    Fast forward to when my new partners expressed an interest in meeting, and those old feelings of dread and despair nosed their way into my thoughts. I knew I had to change it. I couldn’t bear to live in constant anxiety again, fearful that one comment about a partner would send the other plummeting. As I dilly-dallied about how to change my patterns, Boy Scout gave me a command. He wanted me to arrange a night where we would go out with Zen and his wife for dinner, and these two important men in my life would finally meet. I won’t lie. I was one deep breath away from a panic attack, but then I sat down to figure out how to do this in the best way possible. I can do a few things well, and throwing a party is one of them. So that’s exactly what I planned to do: throw a poly dinner party for all my people. (Commence breathing into a paper bag.)

    I figured that I could best diffuse my anxiety by spreading it out over a group. I wouldn’t obsess specifically about Boy Scout and Zen meeting if Liri was part of that mix. Add everyone’s other partners plus me cooking dinner, and there would be so much going on that I wouldn’t fret about whether or not they liked each other. The more I thought about the dinner party idea, the more it appealed to me. I love feeding those that I care about, and I wanted everyone to know how significant they were to me.

    I chose the menu, made my grocery list and began cleaning. I broke out the prep work over four days, wrote it all down in my planner and picked out the china and crystal. I ignored my anxiety as I wrote out the invitations, sketching out the small section of our poly tree that pertains to me. There were three parts to the invite; RSVP with a song for our dinner soundtrack, bring something you liked to drink and a story to share. Boy Scout, feeling somewhat responsible for my workload, helped iron linens and brought take-out when I was too busy baking the carrot cake. He also lugged a cardboard box full of cooking magazines upstairs and didn’t ask me once if we could just burn it in the back yard already.

    The night of our poly dinner arrived and there I was, wearing my June Cleaver dress with my hair in pigtails, gazing across the chicken provencal and my grandparents’ wedding china at Zen and his wife. Boy Scout sat on my right and Liri was on my left. Dr. Hammer sat at the end of the table between Matt, Liri’s boyfriend, and the lovely woman he’s dating, Laccaria. I had a glass full of brass monkey and was feeling a bit surreal around the edges. I looked around the table at everyone and thought, these are my people. With all their different personalities, sexualities, flaws, drama and complex lives, they form my chosen group of friends and lovers.

    My big fear was that my partners wouldn’t like each other. Zen pointed out to me not so long ago that I try to make each of my partners feel special. I love them for their unique qualities, and I focus on making sure that they know how much I appreciate them for it. Place them together at a party, though, and my individual approach became moot. I am a slave, a lover of rules and boundaries. As much as I wanted everyone together, I also dreaded the overlap. Lines were going to blur, and I wasn’t entirely certain that I could handle it gracefully.

    Add to that the addition of a mystery guest, Dr. Dreamhammer. Dr. Hammer and I have only recently begun an association outside of emails and text messages, but our budding relationship has decidedly D/s overtones and we’ve spoken openly about our desire to bring our Secretary fantasies to real life. Those details, however, will wait for another blog post. I mostly fretted about the kinksters getting along with the traditionals, the guys liking each other and my girlfriend, while Nikki just wanted to Skype us with a bowl of popcorn and a vodka tonic in hand to watch all the fun. Despite my worries, though, everyone talked and ate and seemed to enjoy themselves. I also managed to keep my shit together and gradually relaxed enough to have a good time.

    This week I’ve been debriefing my partners one by one, asking for their impressions and opinions about the evening. As Zen said, “there were a lot of strong personalities in the room.” Meaning that not everyone was going to peel off their clothes and have crazy monkey sex on my dining room table. My partners liked each other, though, and have even exchanged contact info so that they can correspond on their own. (Where the hell did I put that paper bag??) And Boy Scout and Dr. Hammer may have a lunch date. I told them that they can’t talk about me, only politics, religion and their penises in that order. Dr. Hammer’s response was, “so Boy Scout, where do you like to put your penis?” HAHAHA, Dr. Hammer. Don’t even try it.

    There were many parts of the evening that I loved; sitting beside my girlfriend, laughing at her incredible wit and simply loving her for exactly who she is. Resting my bare foot on Boy Scout’s boots underneath the table and admiring the huge bouquet of flowers that he bought and arranged for the evening. Drinking the brass monkey that Dr. Hammer mixed and watching him fall victim to my crackeroni and cheese. Kissing Zen after the dining room had emptied of guests, his hand making its way under my skirt and down my panties. Ah yes, my people are amazing.

    I thought that hosting the poly dinner would mean the end to that old relationship pattern that no longer worked, the closing paragraph to a chapter of my life. And I’m happy to report that the ghosts of my poly past have been banished except for the occasional twinge now and then. That night wasn’t an end, however. What I saw in the faces of the people sitting around my dinner table had everything to do with new beginnings. I made myself take a mental snapshot, because I always want to remember that specific moment in time. My poly story is only getting started, and no matter how our dynamic changes in the future, these people will always be in my heart. That in itself is the best happy ending I could hope for.

  3. New Management

    October 11, 2012 by Heather Cole

    It all began with a little red heart next to one of my pictures on Fetlife. The man who bestowed it had a handsome, smiling face and was partnered with a young woman who had recently posted a journal entry about having “no expectations” when it came to relationships. It was good writing, and I admired their open, loving way with one another. It’s hard sometimes to get a feel of people electronically, but Spanks and Miss M gave me a good vibe.

    FINE! I was stalking them. OK? I was running late to Liri’s birthday party at Matt’s house, because my muffins wouldn’t rise. Not a euphemism. So I was looking at Fet and trying to formulate my intentions for the evening. I know I have a tendency to overthink things, but I like deciding what I want out of an evening ahead of time. Since I currently have no Master or Dom, I like to think about my options. You see, I’m under new management–my own.

    When I arrived at the party, it was no surprise when Liri grabbed me by the hand to meet some “awesome folks.” It was right in keeping with my goals for the night. I intended to meet at least three new people, and I wanted to help Liri celebrate. After making our way through a crowd of people, I was suddenly staring face-to-face with the very couple I had been looking at on my computer screen. In fact, I think my first sentence was, “holy fuck, I was just stalking you on Fetlife!” Yes, I’m a card carrying member of dork.

    I was thrilled to discover that Spanks and Miss M were as engaging as I had thought. They were friendly and kind and smoothed right over my stupid opening line. Liri drifted away to speak with someone else, and it wasn’t long before Miss M divulged that she had a bit of a crush on Liri. Darlings, if I had a dollar for every person, male and female, that has told me that, I’d be typing this on a gold plated laptop. Of course I was delighted to facilitate some play between the nubile Miss M and my girl. I believe Liri’s exact words were, “it’s my birthday, and I’ll do whatever the fuck I want!” She then turned to the excited couple and explained, “Heather is a connoisseur of pain and a slave.” As I blushed at the introduction, Liri asked me to be her assistant.

    Miss M protested when I knelt to unfasten the tiny buckles around her slender ankles, but I brushed off her offer to help. “This is the perk of having a slave,” I said. I carefully folded her clothes and set her wine glass to the side where it wouldn’t get knocked over by floggers or canes. The services I performed, although small, were significant. I’m service inclined, generally speaking, in my day-to-day interactions, but that night was different. I realized hours later that the thing that sent a sizzle of electricity through me was demonstrating what I was capable of. It was a mere ripple on the surface of my deep submission, but it was as if I said with each graze of my fingertip along her calf, “do you realize what it would be like to own me? Even for a night…”

    Miss M was cuffed to the large wooden frame in the living room, and Spanks and I sat back to watch the scene. Sweeties, never doubt for a moment that my Liri isn’t a fucking sadistic cunt. She will smile and laugh and tell you the very best things from her giant science brain, and then that beautiful woman will treat your most tender bits to some serious pain. From the volume of Miss M’s shrieks, I think she’d agree with me. After I snapped some excellent pictures of Spanks with his head buried between Miss M’s creamy thighs, Liri cleaned up the implements she had used and motioned me upstairs.

    We ended up in a tangle on the bed, and an orgasm soon followed. Mine, that is. It should probably have been Liri receiving the orgasm since she was one of the three birthday girls that night, but when she’s feeling bossy, I’m a very happy recipient of her oral administrations. Then she bounded out of bed and tugged on her second outfit of the evening, announcing that she was going downstairs to receive birthday spanks. I moved to follow, but I was much slower to pull myself together. A good orgasm can do that to you.

    I was almost out of the bedroom when Miss M appeared in the doorway with Spanks in tow. She was wearing his white button down shirt and was a vision of red hair and pale, smooth skin. I gave her a hug of congratulations on a great scene, and she said something complimentary in return. Our conversation is a bit blurred in my memory. I can remember the feel of her hands on the curve of my waist and how close her heart-shaped face was to mine. She wanted to play with me. Even if the actual words had never crossed her lips, I would have felt it in the charged air between us. My brain almost short-circuited on our sexual sparks, but I experienced a moment of panic. Who did I ask for permission?

    I’m not accustomed to operating without specific rules. Liri doesn’t own me. We’re dating. We love each other. But she has never restricted anything I do. I’ve asked her for things, but she has never required anything of me like, “thou shalt not play with other women!” The conflict is that I’ve been trained to navigate with specific rules in place about what I may or may not do in a play situation. My instincts were to automatically ask permission as any slave would, but there wasn’t anyone to ask. Just when I thought I’d have to run in the bathroom and hide, Miss M said the thing that sealed my fate, “I’ve never had the chance to explore a woman before.”

    I’ve blogged about some of my bisexual challenges here, so the regular readers will know that I spent years yearning to have a “real” experience with another woman. I feared that I would be forever stuck in the bi-curious category because of lack of opportunity and a lack of confidence with women. When Miss M said that, her words reverberated with my own. I also saw a glimmer of what my heart truly wanted–to be used as a sexual toy. At some point Spanks asked to video us for his personal library, and you know me, I agreed. It was for posterity!

    Nails raked down my chest as teeth fastened around my right nipple. Instinctively I arched my back, but Miss M pinned my lower body firmly with her own. Her hair was a cascade around me as she nibbled and kissed her way over my body. She complimented me, worshipped me, and I felt honored and… speechless with the gift she was giving me. Someone’s first. Miss M’s first. The memory of it brings all those feelings back, and I’m grateful all over again as I sit here and write.

    Miss M’s mouth was still between my legs when Liri came back into the bedroom.

    “OH!” she said and disappeared into the bathroom.

    Miss M and I parted with more hugs and caresses while my brain churned. Technically I hadn’t broken any rules, but my slave instincts were in high gear. I needed to apologize to Liri. I tried to squelch my rising panic. The voice of reason whispered, this isn’t the same situation. Liri is different. We didn’t have enough rules that kept our feelings safe! I argued with logic. What was I supposed to do, just blunder around until I really fucked something up? I needed to fix something. I worried that I had somehow hurt Liri even though nothing of the sort had been verbalized between us. Liri swore she was fine, that what I had done was fine, that everything was peachy birthday keen. But as I’ve written a hundred times before, old patterns are a bitch to change. If she had taken a crop to me or caned me until I sobbed, it would have been a relief; that remembered pattern of guilt assuaged in physical pain. Maybe the uncertainty I fretted over was related to both of us trying to feel our way through a completely new situation. Neither one of us had expected me to be the lady cherry popper, but there I was in the afterglow.

    Liri told me to get on the bed again. I frowned in confusion but did as she ordered. She gave me one instruction: I had to count my orgasms out loud. Once my brain caught up with my body, I relaxed. Liri probably didn’t mean it as a reclaiming, but the slave in me interpreted it as such and took comfort in it. I tried to articulate the feeling later, but I don’t think I managed it. Liri and I have talked about playing with the incredible Miss M again, but it’s Liri who has my time, my energy and a piece of my heart. She’s also the one who inspired me to yell, “four is my favorite number!”