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Friday, May 18, 2012

204

The Non-Monogamous Couple Returns

[Previously: Hello!]

1. So my husband and I have been together for more than a decade and have a kid. We've talked about opening the relationship and we're both somewhat interested, since we're comfortable enough with each other to really trust each other. But how on earth do you meet people who will be into this? You all sound young — everyone I know is married! And if they're non-mog/poly, I don't know about it! (I know a lot of hot married dudes I'd happily enjoy a casual relationship with, though.) I feel like the answer to this is: wherever single people meet each other. But I'm in a stage where no one seems to be single. I know there are swinger parties, but that seems like such a crapshoot. What's a flirty Mrs. to do?

A Non-Monogamous Lady: First of all, congratulations on what sounds like a really happy, healthy marriage!

A Non-Monogamous Dude: Yes! Congrats and hooray!

ANML: Your kid is lucky to have such relaxed, communicative parents.

ANMD: Totally. But the presence of a child also raises the stakes here.

ANML: Yes. The stakes are higher anyway for married people, but you definitely want to make sure your household remains a stable environment for your kid. The first thing you should do is visit the Kink-Aware Professionals List and find a sex-positive marriage counselor.

ANMD: Not because there's anything pathological here! Opening a long-closed marriage with a child is a complicated scenario, and you’ll be happy to have an impartial, open-minded third party who can serve as a mediator and sounding board for any feelings that arise, be they positive or negative. 

ANML: So that's the first order of business — look for a good marriage counselor to hold your hands and guide you through this scary, messy, exciting new adventure.

ANMD: Second order of business: how do you find people? It’s as true in real life as it is in song: the internet is really, really great.

ANML: When we first read this question, we thought, "Why haven't they tried internet dating?" But then we realized, you've been married for 10 years! You might not realize that internet dating is totally normal now!

ANMD: Yes! There are lots of dating websites, catering to different romantic needs, from finding a soulmate who will love you forever to cheating on your spouse. (Which I do not condone. You know who you are, Website-I-Will-Not-Name. Shame on you.)

ANML: Personally, we like to use OkCupid. I don't know how old you are, but OkCupid is free and popular with people of all ages. I know a woman in her late fifties who uses the site with great success.

ANMD: Of course, it is far from a bed of roses. I'm sure some of the Commentariat will rail about how much they hate OKCupid and what a terrible time they've had on it. We empathize.We've both been on shitty dates too, and each of us has taken long hiatuses because we couldn't stand the site anymore.

ANML: But OkCupid has several advantages. For one, everyone is on it. It's like the Facebook of dating sites.

ANMD: I believe that is one of the epithets they lay claim to.

ANML: Note: I am not being paid to endorse OkCupid.

ANMD: You might even find some of your hot married dudes there! For someone in your position, the ability to search for other people in open relationships ("Status: Not Single") is invaluable. Which isn’t to say that you should limit yourselves to them, but I've found that it makes things easier. You're more likely to want similar things out of a date.

AMNL: We should mention at this point, since you’re new to it, that there are some basic precautions to take whenever you meet someone off the Internet. Meet in public, make sure you have friends who know where you are and who you’re with, that sort of thing.

ANML: Moving on to our last bit of advice. As it was pointed out in the comments for our last column, most major cities have a non-monogamous scene, just as they have a gay scene, a BDSM scene, a roller derby scene, etc. As you meet people on the internet, I encourage you to consider making platonic friends, too! It will help you so much to have a circle of friends who know exactly what you're going through, who can sympathize with your difficulties, who can laugh with you and not judge you.

ANMD: Yes, this is key. For example, ANML started talking to a guy on OkCupid who turned out to be very experienced in open and poly relationships. And neither of us have done anything ... romantic ... with him or his girlfriend, but just talking to them and hanging out with them has been a great way to process a lot of the issues that we face as a couple.

ANML: Best of all, they might introduce you to their hot friends!

ANMD: We can but hope.

ANML: Maybe your kids can have playdates!

ANMD: Maybe you can have playdates! At a different time!

ANML: Good luck!

ANMD: Yes! All the best in the next of your many adventures.

2. Hi there! My boyfriend and I have been dating about eight months, exclusive for two of those months. From the very beginning, we discussed non-monogamy as an option, for much the same reasons you cited, so I assigned him some reading material (my annotated copy of 'Sex at Dawn,' to be followed by Tristan Taormino's 'Opening Up') and said we'd talk about it after, because I wanted him to know where I was coming from. Over those exclusive months (he is bright but kind of a slow reader) he's basically let the topic drop, and all kinds of sweet, proprietary "mine" statements have started coming out of his mouth. They've come out of mine too, but I'm still interested in exploring this as an option, while I'm thinking he might have changed his mind.

How do I broach the topic again without sounding like I'm unhappy? I'm not, and we do talk very openly normally, but I don't want to hurt him. Or should I just wait for him to finish the damn books and assume that non-monogamy is an interesting enough topic that he won't forget about it?

ANMD: First off, ANML, I have to say that if you "assigned [me] some reading material" on any subject, I would drag my feet about reading it purely out of protest.

ANML: Wouldn't life be great, though, if people communicated entirely through books? Instead of having to break up with someone, you could just hand her a copy of He's Just Not That Into You, and bolt.

ANMD: With that in mind, ANML, I want to pass along to you my annotated copy of the Kama Sutra. Because I want you to know exactly where I'm coming from.

ANML: I see what you did there.

ANMD: I hate myself for it. Anyway, it comes down to this: you aren't actually communicating. Your books are an attempt to avoid direct communication, and it’s not very effective.

ANML: Even if he did read Sex at Dawn and Opening Up for you, he wouldn't necessarily interpret them the same way you did. This is why we have English departments.

ANMD: There are many reasons that he might not have read the books. He might resent being given a reading assignment, and the condescension that implies. He might not be interested in an open relationship, and not reading means that he gets to defer the issue. He might just legitimately not be much of a reader. But you won’t know until you ask.

ANML: Allow us to point out, gently, that you don't seem to be Opening Up much yourself in this situation. It sounds like you truncated the conversation by throwing books at him. Yousay that "he's basically let the topic drop," but he was enabled by your stalling mechanism.

ANMD: So, to the question, which is "How do I broach the topic again without sounding like I'm unhappy?"

ANML: We got a lot of questions like this. I wish we had an easy magic word of an answer.

ANMD: We should throw in a disclaimer here: as we've said before, we have always been non-monogamous, and so we haven't had the actual discussion in question. But we have had a lot of conversations about our relationship that fall along similar lines.

ANML: And, like you, we have found it frustratingly difficult to make each other read our minds. Or books, for that matter.

ANMD: First off, decide why you want an open relationship, and what type of openness you envision. Then find a quiet, un-rushed time alone with your SO, and ask him if he's given any more thought to that conversation two months ago. Listen to what he has to say.

ANML: Oh right, listening! Listening is the magic word.

ANMD: And it's possible that he'll get hurt, or take things the wrong way. But there's only so much you can do to prevent that.

ANML: Believe me, I understand that you don't want to hurt him. It pains me to think of ANMD's feelings being hurt. It's the worst. And it’s good to be sensitive to your partner's feelings, but don’t be crippled by the fear of doing so. He's not a delicate hothouse orchid. He's a big boy, and if you tell him something he doesn't want to hear, you know what? He will live. And so will you!

ANMD: Also, if he senses that you’re preoccupied by something, he might actually be relieved and happy when you broach the issue. When ANML and I have heart-to-hearts like this, it’s often such a relief to just get issues out in the open that we feel better after, even if we don’t get exactly what we want.

ANML: Best case scenario: you do get exactly what you want, and your relationship will be awesome!

ANMD: Even if you end up staying monogamous, the discussion itself will hopefully encourage you to be more forthright with one another, and the relationship will be healthier for it. So, win-win!

ANML: And please: no more communicating through reading assignments.

Is it possible that non-monogamy can help me tame my jealousy? I have cheated on every partner I've ever had, and I've also struggled with jealousy in every relationship I've ever had. I'm sure part of it is that I don't trust myself, so how can I trust anyone else?

I'm in a happy relationship right now, and we are more open about our histories and desires than I've ever been with someone. He's about to be on the road for six months for work. We've both cheated on more than one partner in the past, and I think we're kidding ourselves if we think one or both of us isn't going to cheat sometime in the next half year. I'm wondering if having an open relationship while he's gone would actually help me deal with my jealousy. I wouldn't have to worry that he's hiding something, and I wouldn't have to resent him if I tried really hard not to cheat and he beat me to it.

I've always been under the impression that the only people who can possible navigate an open relationship are the most secure people in the world, who aren't prone to jealousy. But could it possibly help me? By the way, yes I am in therapy and trying to deal with my issues on my own.

ANML: Letter Writer, I wish I could talk to you in person. Your dilemma raises so many deep questions about the nature of love and trust and self — I would love to go out for drinks with you so we could parse the shit out of it together.

ANMD: Wow, you came out swinging.

ANML: Can a cheater stop cheating? Is love enough to change a person’s fundamental nature? How do you learn to trust?

ANMD: In your case, how do you learn to trust quickly, before your partner leaves for six months and you both instantly hop into foreign beds? Before you consider whether having an open relationship will allay your cheating (and yes, you can still absolutely cheat and be cheated on in an open relationship), you need to figure out why you cheat.

ANML: Yes. It sounds like perhaps you cheat because you feel anxious and powerless in your relationships, and cheating is a way for you to gain the upper hand.

ANMD: And being in an open relationship won't necessarily help that — you’ll just find a new way to cause the same issue. Look at your language! You don't want to resist cheating and find out that your partner "beat you to it.” Like it's a race to cheat. Because that person wins ... something?

ANML: Well observed. And as for your assumption that you "wouldn't have to worry that he's hiding something" — let me assure you that you can most definitely find ways to worry.  Even if he's the most forthright gentleman in the world.

ANMD: Absolutely. Because, as you’re aware, your jealousy has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with you.

ANML: However — with all this said — here’s what I see: you two are happy with each other, and you're open and honest with each other. You've both made mistakes in the past, but you sincerely want to change. And you're working on it. You're in therapy (high five!). As far as I can tell, your interest in non-monogamy is in good faith. And ultimately, when it comes to non-monogamy, good faith is all you've got. In fact, when it comes to love in general, good faith is all anyone’s got.

ANMD: You should talk, frequently and openly, starting now, about what form you want your non-monogamy to take. Do you want to officially break up and see where things stand when he returns in six months? Do you want to continue the relationship emotionally but be free to have sex with other people? How much do you want to be informed about your partner's extra-relationship sex life? These are questions you have to answer for yourselves. And then, when he's away, you should do your very best to stick to the rules you've established. And if you find yourself struggling to do so, think about why you're struggling, and talk with him about it too!

ANML: And your shrink! Talk to your shrink about it!

ANMD: Nothing is set in stone, nothing is proscribed. There are no rules in a relationship except for those that you and your partner create through open and honest discussion. So make rules that you're comfortable with, ones that you can keep. And as you learn more about yourselves and each other, revisit those rules.

ANML: In fact, if rules make you anxious — I get the sense that you, like me, instinctively chafe against rules — then don't think of them as rules. Think of them as agreements. That's what a relationship is: an agreement between two people.

ANMD: Or however many people you want (hi polys!).

ANML: Yeah … polyamory probably isn’t for you right now. But some other form of non-monogamy might be! I think it’s worth a shot.

ANMD: Keep your good faith, and blaze a new, more honest path for you and your partner. You may be surprised by how much better you feel about it.

ANML: I think you're on that path already. Happy trails!

 

A Non-Monogamous Couple lives in New York City. If you have a question for them, send it here. (300 word max, please.)

Photo by Lisa F. Young, via Shutterstock



204 Comments / Post A Comment

redheaded&crazy

literally the only success i ever have had with okcupid was relevant to this post. so i second that suggestion. how useful is this anecdote! so useful.

Genghis Khat

@redheaded&crazie Yeah, I feel like everyone I meet on OKC is into some open and/or poly thing, and I'm really not. So.... take those married lady letter writer! You can have all these mens! They seem really nice!

WaityKatie

@Genghis Khat Thirded. It seems like most every guy on OKC is really looking for some kind of no strings attached or poly situation, including the ones who list as "single." Here's a tip - tell everyone you don't want kids, and watch the "You clearly don't deserve a committed relationship, so let's have NSA sex!" dudes come a-runnin! (not that there's anything wrong with NSA sex, just that many OKC dudes clearly have a very strong madonna/whore complex going on.)

Genghis Khat

@WaityKatie Oh shit is that why I get those? Ugh.

WaityKatie

@Genghis Khat One guy actually wrote, "You don't want kids? Great! Let's have lots and lots of casual sex!"

WaityKatie

@WaityKatie Ironically his solution is one of the ways to accidentally get a kid.

Genghis Khat

@WaityKatie And then you made a date and met him at the bar and punched him in the nuts.

JessicaLovejoy

@WaityKatie Ugh, Madonna/Whore, WHY ARE YOU STILL A THING

WaityKatie

@Genghis Khat Actually I set him on fire.

whizz_dumb

@redheaded&crazie I deactivated my account because it didn't feel "totally normal" to me. Okay, the real reason is I met someone and apparently I'm not open/poly.

WaityKatie

@whizz_dumb I deactivated mine because a 53 year old dude with a profile picture of his feet kept sending me detailed commentary on my answers to the match questions. Same diff.

gobblegirl

@WaityKatie "many OKC dudes clearly have a very strong madonna/whore complex going on."
There, fixed.

WaityKatie

@gobblegirl Yeah, I think my main problem with OKC in general is that it now reflects the general population too accurately. I liked it better when it was all dorks. I still never met anyone good there but at least they were nicer.

redheaded&crazy

@WaityKatie as i have just reactivated my okc account due to failure at real life dating, this whole thread is so incredibly heartening for me!

*sobs*

Beericle

@WaityKatie I deactivated mine b/c the last dude I went on a date with (much fatter/grosser than his picture, and he was 45 minutes late) Texted me "YOU ARE SUCH A CUNT" after I ended date early. Nope, don't need that.

whizz_dumb

@WaityKatie Pictures of 53 year old dudes' feet will deactivate everything, all the time.

WaityKatie

@Beericle Oh, and my epic experience with the sociopath/narcissist Brit who spent the entire date tearing apart my presumed personality, history, and essential being. That was my last okc "date." Maybe forever.

WaityKatie

@redheaded&crazie Oh, I've deactivated and outright resigned my account at least 5 times now. The problem is there doesn't seem to be any alternative.

JessicaLovejoy

@WaityKatie "I liked it better when it was all dorks."

Well, you still have the Pin! Even the cool kids who are smoking in the bathroom or drinking under the bleachers (these are....things kids do, ja?) are still talking about how Neil deGrasse Tyson is the perfect man or discussing feminism within the confines of the Wizarding World.

gobblegirl

@redheaded&crazie I have met and dated two very nice boys (who had only the statistical mean amount of baggage) through there, and I am friends with both of them still. All is not lost!

sarah girl

@gobblegirl I met my wonderful (single, monogamous [what I'm looking for]) boyfriend on OKC, too! It takes a lot of digging, but there are good guys on there.

redheaded&crazy

@JessicaLovejoy tangentially, feminism dominates the wizarding world because you don't need physical strength to be a magical badass!

...still waiting patiently for my hogwarts letter

terrific

@redheaded&crazie Don't fret! There are non-crazies, I promise. Two of my closest friends (and myself) have met long-term monogamous loving manfriends on OKC.

WaityKatie

@terrific I know people who have had success with it and are normal, which makes it worse because, the longer I keep meeting destructive freaks on there, the more I think it's my fault for attracting all of the freaks and no nice people.

Susanna

@redheaded&crazie Other things not to do:

1) Be *that* poly couple who spam emails every woman in town, including the ones who say they are not interested in open relationships.

2) If someone tells you they are not interested in being your poly playpal, don't keep popping up on their OKCupid instant messages every time they're online, insisting that "you just want to be friends".

Annoyingness - it transcends sexual practices.

harebell

@redheaded&crazie does Crazy Blind Date still exist? I haven't used it in 3 or so years, but it was all right. Run by the OkCupid people. Basically you pick a time & place that is VERY VERY soon and they match you up with somebody (allowing you to send anonymized texts messages to one another) and you can meet them in person right away, to figure out if you actually have chemistry/they weren't lying through their teeth on their profile.
i've never tried it, but there was another one that matched you with people based on interesting date ideas that you came up with. It sounded good. How About We , i think?

Apocalypstick

@Susanna OkCupid poly etiquette: one time a couple kept messaging me, but refused to tell me anything about the dude. And all the woman would say about herself was her height, weight, and kinks. This strikes me as weird -I'm not going to meet up with someone I can't have a conversation with, and I'm not going to agree to have sex with someone I've never even seen a picture of. Am I fussy or are they strange?

EternalFootwoman

@Susanna ALSO if you are a het couple and someone's profile says she's looking for "women only", that doesn't mean "women only, unless your husband is really hot."

Susanna

@redheaded&crazie Yeah, straight up there's something out of balance about that. You wonder how "sorted" they are about the whole poly thing.

Susanna

@EternalFootwoman Yeah, my God. I also always wonder about those dudes on dating sites who are heterosexual but also tick the box for meeting up with a lesbian couple. I'm not sure how they think that's going to work or what magic they think the internet performs.

EternalFootwoman

@Susanna The weirdest thing, to me, is the guys who send a message and make no mention of me only looking for women. I could maybe, maybe see it if someone wrote, "Hey, I see that you're looking for women, but we have XY&Z in common and if you'd like to chat, hit me up." But so many of them write messages detailed enough to show they've read my profile, which means they are completely ignoring that I only date women.

Scandyhoovian

Earwormed! I have a fast connection, so I don't have to waaaaaaaait...

Daisy Razor

@Scandyhoovian Ha, I caught that too. My husband and I used to sing that to each other until, you know, our daughter learned to talk.

redheaded&crazy

it’s good to be sensitive to your partner's feelings, but don’t be crippled by the fear of doing so. He's not a delicate hothouse orchid. He's a big boy, and if you tell him something he doesn't want to hear, you know what? He will live. And so will you!

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Anybody who is reading this who is keeping a difficult anything from their partner fucking man nut ovary gut up and just fucking tell them.

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazie fumes in corner

(not because i heard something i didn't want to hear mind you, but because i was treated like a delicate hothouse orchid which i absolutely am not)

Inkling

@redheaded&crazie
I dunno what kind of witchraft or wizardry this is, but does it look like all those S's are on an incline somehow?

redheaded&crazy

@Inkcrafter it's wingardium levioSAH not not wingardium leviOHsa

JadedStone

@redheaded&crazie "fucking man nut ovary gut up" - I laughed for about 10 minutes at this. I'm still chuckling

redheaded&crazy

@Jade it is SO hard to tell people to have some fucking balls without resorting to gendered terminology that I don't even agree with!

Inkling

@redheaded&crazie
Wait I thought it WAS leviohhhsa and not levioSAH!

redheaded&crazy

@Inkcrafter not gonna lie, I totally said that line in my head many times trying to figure out which way was right. harry potter nerd fail right here.

Inkling

@redheaded&crazie
BAM. I might be lying in bed with no underwear, surrounded by two half-finished job applications to restaurants, and dreaming only of Diablo 3, BUT I KNOW A SPELL.

redheaded&crazy

@Inkcrafter "lying in bed with no underwear, two half-finished job apps, dreaming of Diablo 3 AND i know a spell" you mean

i'm jealous

JessicaLovejoy

@redheaded&crazie Spine up is also good, 'cause everyone has one, even if it's curved from lack of use. Or, um, scoliosis.

Inkling

@redheaded&crazie
I'M GONNA PLAY DIABLO 3 AFTER I TURN IN THE APPLICATIONS. AND GO TO THE BANK. AND BUY SOME ZYRTEC. THE OFF-BRAND THOUGH I AIN'T MADE OF MONEY.

redheaded&crazy

@JessicaLovejoy way to stigmatize the non-vertebrate among us.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Inkcrafter YES. It is messing with my brain so bad. O.o

JessicaLovejoy

If those jiggly freeloaders want my respect, they can buy a bottle of Skele-Gro like the rest of us!

TheUnchosenOne

@Inkcrafter I can't unsee it now!

redheaded&crazy

@JessicaLovejoy i know a good many people who could use some fucking skele-gro.

EpWs

@redheaded&crazie "Go get some skele-grow yeh mewling weasel." /moodyspeak

runner in the garden

@redheaded&crazie you are the best.

ThatWench

@redheaded&crazie I know I'm late to this party, but did we get ride of cojovaries? 'cuz I still really like that turn of phrase.

EpWs

Everyone, let's keep things happy this time, please? I <3 all of you (especially bleachie!) and I get all fetal-in-the-corner when we fight. :(

redheaded&crazy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher yes i meant all of the above um ... happily

EpWs

@redheaded&crazie I know you did, darling! I didn't even see your posts when I posted this. Mine was more of a general plea to the 'Pin at large. And we're normally very good about things! This is just one of those topics that can get...a wee bit heated.

redheaded&crazy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher oh I know! :D it's friday though so i'm sure we can all play nice-ish!

meetapossum

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher The 'Pinners fight because you cry.

EpWs

@meetapossum
:O
:(
:'(
:'C

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

while I have totally respect for people who are in open relationships and are poly, i would be so horrid at it. to actually get someone to date me then have the expectation to get ANOTHER person to date me is a massive overestimation of my game.

redheaded&crazy

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood i'll sit with you in the monogamy forever, polyanything is overwhelming corner of the dating game! i'm content to be here, and to admire those on the other side for their communication and non-jealousy and self-confidence and what have you.

KatnotCat

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Right? I have so many issues and baggage that make loving one partner a whole lot of work. To do that with even more people? Damn, I have to hold down a job and sleep and stuff too.

Lila Fowler

Comments like this in the Poly threads seem a bit... unnecessary? aggressive? out of touch?

You wouldn't comment on an Ask A Queer Lady thread about how you totally respect people who are homosexy, but you just really could never ever get down with a same sex partner. Because that would be tacky and disrespectful. And IMO, these sentiments are in the same line of commenting.

stonefruit

@Lila Fowler wellll ... except that I don't agree that non-monogamy is comparable to non-straight sexual orientation.

redheaded&crazy

dear non-monogamous couple(s): apologies if my comment came across as tacky and disrespectful! I have nothing but respect for people who can do non-monogamy.
sincerely,
a fan

Porn Peddler

@Lila Fowler I definitely read the initial comment (from Josh is like Germany....) as a flippant estimation of his attractiveness.

Nicole Cliffe

@Third Wave Housewife So did I, FWIW.

WaityKatie

@Third Wave Housewife I think it's not too controversial to say that non-monogamy generally appeals more to people who enjoy dating and meeting new people...so generally the opposite of me. But more power to those people!

Lila Fowler

@Third Wave Housewife Perhaps Josh is indeed Misunderstood Like Germany.

I stand by what I said, regardless of whether the initial comment was a joke. Conversations about polyamory around these parts are consistently getting derailed by conversations about monogamy. I know that polyamory (unlike sexual orientation) is A Lifestyle Choice for many people and thus open to personal debate. BUT. It would be really nice to have a conversation about the nuances of polyamory, without getting derailed by a debate about whether polyamory is The Right Choice for You and You and You and You.

fondue with cheddar

@Lila Fowler I don't perceive these comments as aggressive. They aren't saying that non-monogamy doesn't appeal to them, they're saying they don't have what it takes to make it work. I think what they're saying is more akin to, "I have respect for people who are nuclear physicists but I'm terrible at math so I would be horrible at it! I'll just sit here and be happy about being a ________."

Susanna

@stonefruit Thank you for saying this. Took the words right out of my mouth.

thebestjasmine

@jen325 Indeed, thank you. Just like the comments on the Japan post saying that they could never do that because talking to people exhausts them.

fondue with cheddar

@thebestjasmine Oh, that's a better example! I was one of those commenters so I should have thought of that.

stonefruit

@Susanna aww, thank *you*. my pleasure. I have Lots of Strong Feelings about this.

Lila Fowler

@jen325 Hmmmm... I still disagree? My first analogy admittedly was not great (I'm a queer lady and nothing rankles my chain like straight people hijacking queer conversations in every space that is not expressly queer, which is why I brought it up).

A better analogy perhaps would be people hijacking conversations about Kink to talk about how much they love vanilla sex and aren't into spanking/whipping/whatevs. Or meat-eaters entering a conversation about vegetarian food to talk about how much they loooove bacon. Your choice to eat meat/fuck in the missionary position/be monogamous is affirmed and validated explicitly/implicitly in virtually all other conversations. Like that's cool and I'm really happy you love bacon, but it does read as unintentionally hostile when you keep trying to dominate my conversation about tofu.

thebestjasmine

@Lila Fowler If you can see if you look at Hairpin posts, in just about every single post, there are people who say that they don't like whatever the post is talking about. In the coffee post there were tea drinkers, in the posts about kids there are people who never want to have kids, in the posts about makeup there are people who don't wear makeup. None of that is hijacking conversations, all of it is discussion about the posts. The Hairpin would be really boring if the comments agreed with one another (and the column/post authors) all the time. I'm not sure why the non-monogomy posts should be any different than everything else here.

wee_ramekin

@Lila Fowler Girl, I get you.

I mean, folks, this thread is called Ask a Non-Monogamous Couple. All of these here questions are gonna be about non-monogamy. I do find it...if not disrespectful...well, kind of...self-indulgent?, to go on about how non-monogamy "isn't for you" on a thread specifically about shedding light on non-monogamy. Your position isn't exactly unique...that's why there's a specific thread for people who are interested in non-monog/poly relationships.

That isn't to say that you can't contribute to the discussion, but posts about how the whole thing isn't for you don't really add to the discussion, from my perspective.

fondue with cheddar

@Lila Fowler Point taken.

I don't think anybody's hijacking anybody's conversation though; the original commenter started a new thread. I don't think anyone commented with bad intentions; in fact, the first two comments in this thread contained the words "respect" and "admire". But one of the great things about the Hairpin is that people with different experiences/backgrounds/etc. can have a discussion and learn from each other (as people are learning from you in your comments). A nonmonogamous person might comment on this thread about how people in poly relationships have issues and baggage too (doesn't everyone?) and explain how they deal with it.

The Hairpin is more friendly and open than the rest of the world, and maybe some people who don't share a certain kink feel like they are in the minority here. Someone might comment in the hopes that like-minded people will reply and say, "Me too, and that's okay!"

"You wouldn't comment on an Ask A Queer Lady thread about how you totally respect people who are homosexy, but you just really could never ever get down with a same sex partner."
I think that is very different. The reasons someone could never ever get down with a same sex partner are entirely different from the reasons they stated for thinking they could never ever be in a poly relationship. They didn't say they couldn't do it because it's immoral or unhealthy, they said they couldn't do it because they feel they don't possess the skills necessary to pull it off. I don't know what a similar reason would be that relates to same-sex relations; maybe "I don't know what to do with a vagina" or "I just can't relate to other women/men" or "I can't imagine sharing the same restroom as someone I'm sexually attracted to because I wouldn't be able to control myself"? Those are terrible examples, but I hope you get the idea.

I'm not trying to invalidate your feelings. Everyone has a different experience, and nobody's feelings are right or wrong. I totally get why one might have an uncomfortable gut reaction to comments from monogamous people on a post about nonmonogamy. Hopefully everyone reading your comments has learned as well and will be more sensitive in the future.

wee_ramekin

@thebestjasmine Hmmmm. I see your point, but I can't escape the fact that this instance feels different to me. Also, FWIW, as a queer chick, I thought @Lila Fowler's comparison of this thread to folks coming on to A Queer Chick and hypothetically saying "Queer chicks are fine and all, but I really don't think I'll ever want to put my face on a vagina!" was extremely apt.

Let me see....hmmmm. I guess to me, what this Ask A column and the Ask A Queer chick column have in common is that both address the concerns of a specific set of people, people whose concerns and lifestyles are usually overlooked. It's so rare to find an advice column that actually answers the concerns and questions of queer folk, or non-monogamous folk, from the point of view that those lifestyles or backgrounds are acceptable.

It's also somewhat of a trope in ANY CONVERSATION EVER about non-monogs or poly issues that some monogamous person will earnestly say: "I could never do this!". Honestly, I don't think people who make those comments are bad, or are trying to be dicks, but mostly it's just like...dude, WE* GET IT. We get that most people could never do this, that is WHY this column was created (remember A Lady's horribly off-base advice to someone asking about non-monogamy?). Can't we think of columns such as Ask A Queer Chick or Ask A Non-Monogamous Couple as spaces where folks who have questions of a queer or non-monog nature can ask them, and those of us who could never do non-monog or who aren't queer can read and learn and discuss without talking about HOW WE COULD NEVER?

Your examples about tea/coffee, kids/no kids, make up/no make up seem a little different to me because in those cases, we're not talking about somewhat marginalized populations who usually have their issues sidelined in everyday discussion.

*spoken as a lady who probably "could never do" an open relaysch

Passion Fruit

@Lila Fowler I think you have a valid point. For me, truthfully, TRUTHFULLY, hearing other people say "Whoa, I could never do that, [insert joke] heh heh" is helpful to hear because it echoes my instantaneous feelings of insecurity and validates that I'm not abnormal.

Basically, I like these posts for horrible, selfish reasons of "Boo-hoo, I'm in the majority, and thinking about something different frightens me!" So I totally hear why it's rude, at best, for people who function within the satus quo to keep asserting themselves into spaces designated for discussing non-mainstream lives/choices/behaviors. I gotchya.

And, also, I'm speaking only about my reaction, not for Josh is Like Germany above, or anyone else.

redheaded&crazy

@Passion Fruit speaking on my own behalf, i always enjoy reading discussions between people who are far more articulate than myself, but I haven't felt the need to respond because what everybody is saying makes sense! spaces for marginalized people do not need to be taken over by non-marginalized people.

soooo good conversation! drinks on me folks.

DancingToBowie

My friend was dumped by a guy who gave her a copy of He's Just Not That Into You.

I would have bludgeoned him to death with it.

Genghis Khat

@DancingToBowie Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

EpWs

@DancingToBowie Good goddamn.

DancingToBowie

@Genghis Khat Exactly. He really set the standard for assholes.

Lila Fowler

@DancingToBowie OUCH MY BAND-AID ahhhhhhh

This is the worst. Set him On Fire.™

swirrlygrrl

@DancingToBowie Well, it wasn't a post-it note...

Reginal T. Squirge

My therapist has brought up He's Just Not That Into You on two separate occasions! Both non-ironically! Once to tell me about the book itself and then another time to recommend the same author's other book.

I think I need a new therapist...

TheUnchosenOne

@Reginal T. Squirge I think you might, because that is a terrible book full of terrible advice.

meetapossum

@Reginal T. Squirge It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken??

OhMarie

@DancingToBowie I don't get HJNTIT at all--the author is an amazing stand-up and it seems like a weird fluke that he wrote such an Oprah-tastic book.

laurel

@Reginal T. Squirge Set your therapist On Fire.™

stonefruit

@laurel Or get rid of your therapist, because SERIOUSLY THAT IS REVOLTING.

laurel

@stonefruit DTMFgTA

skyslang

@TheUnchosenOne I never read the book, but that Sex & The City episode when Adien (was it Adien?) said that? It sounds pathetic, but it helped me a lot! I seriously repeat it to myself from time to time, whenever I'm tempted to overthink a dating situation. Maybe he's just not into me; maybe I'm just not into him. No big deal.
It's kind of freeing to a worrier/overthinker like me!

redheaded&crazy

@skyslang ugh i don't even know. i always think i'm seeing signs of "he's just not that into you" and then I'm like h8 u brain stfu, and then it turns out he's just not that into me i guess.

i have not read the book, i think the slogan is sadly a good thing to keep in mind

meetapossum

@redheaded&crazie And then there's the HIMYM version, Of Course You're Still Single, Take a Look at Yourself, You Dumb Slut.

redheaded&crazy

@meetapossum ... :'( :'( :'(

meetapossum

@redheaded&crazie I repeat that one to myself, but it doesn't seem to help.

Passion Fruit

@meetapossum HAHAHAHHA! Ah, this made me laugh so much. (Also, I hope you don't think that 4 RLZIES about yourself.)

Reginal T. Squirge

@meetapossum Yes! That one! I almost said, "You're called an assface because your face looks like an ass."

Passion Fruit

@meetapossum OH, IT'S FROM A TV SHOW. OOOOooooohhhhhh. My bad.

spoondisaster

@Reginal T. Squirge My therapist gave me a copy once! I was 17 and opining about some dude who was obviously "not that into" me. I guess she figured that I wouldn't get it if she said it to me, so she had me read the book. It was a good idea.

SarahP

LW1, don't forget meetup groups! If you live near a big city, I'm sure you can find some. I have one friend who goes regularly to meetups at cafes or restaurants, and other friends who go to monthly poly potlucks (which is so freaking adorable it almost makes me wish I were poly, just so I could go).

Anita Ham Sandwich

@SarahP Agreed! My community has one of those, and while I don't go regularly, my husband does.

noReally

Now, those are some smart non-monagamous people right there.

Porn Peddler

LW #2, he's your boyfriend, not a student or a boy toy you have taken under your experienced, well-read wing. We don't really communicate openly? Yikes, girl. From your letter, I'd guess you are trying to go into this super intellectually and intelligently and confidently (and guiding your boyfriend along with an aloof detachment) buuuuuut you don't even mention what form you want your relationship to take. Also, discussing the topic from the start, then saying, "Oh read this stuff and THEN we can talk" is.....you cutting off the conversation, not dropping it. It's a little patronizing, too. Yeah, everyone should totally read Opening Up, definitely. But I kind of see...mad red flags in here.

LW3: I'm not sure an open relationship is the best therapy for what is, given the evidence, your problems in relationships. One of the people interviewed for Opening Up reported that he cheated on many of his partners before discovering non-monogamy, and now that he is with a primary partner who understands him and his lifestyle, he is not "looking for exits" because she isn't blocking them. So yeah, for some people, just knowing about non-monogamy is a doorway to gaining the emotional maturity they need to form mature relationships. As for you and your boyfriend and those six months of separation being a good time to try out non-monogamy.....think really hard about him having sex and going on dates with someone else. Picture it. That's probably enough to tell you whether or not you're ready.

SarahP

@Third Wave Housewife All of the successful open relationships I've seen are successful because of direct, open, and comfortable communication. If this couple can't even talk about nonmonogamy before it begins, I can only see trouble down the road when troubles or complications come up.

Porn Peddler

@SarahP Yes yes yes. Exactly. Doing it right means talking talking talking about YOUR FEELINGS and YOUR PARTNER'S (or partners) FEELINGS and more talking and taking responsibility, owning your FEELINGS, and not blaming each other or projecting.

So, if you can't take responsibility for....discussing nonmonogamy.....uh.

Porn Peddler

D'OH, I misread something in that letter: I read "we don't normally communicate openly" but....that's not just what I read in that one sentence: it's what I surmised from the whole letter.

SarahP

Also, LW3, nonmonogamy might be for you int he long run, but it sounds like you've got a bit more work to do on yourself first. Every person you bring into your life in a relationship-way is going to complicate your life exponentially. Not necessarily in a bad way, but you do not need more complications right now, in my opinion. You need to figure yourself out a bit first, figure out what you want out of a relationship, who you want to be in a relationship, etc. Nonmonogamy will not cure what's wrong or make you less jealous; only you can do that, and I think you should do that before you open things up.

Slutface

@SarahP I agree with this. It sounds like LW3 is only into poly as a means to protect herself from getting hurt not like she's actually interested in it.

JadedStone

umm.. I might have also given my boyfriend 'sex at dawn' as a reading assignment? Though, to be honest, it was more like OMG YOU MUST READ THIS and I've actually done that about... 5 million times in the time we've been dating so that makes it ok right? He is free to disregard my choices though he inevitably reads them because I won't shut up about them.

I'm a compulsive 'you should read this' kinda person! It canna be helped!

SarahP

@Jade Ha, I think as long as you're doing it consistently with books other than sex/relationship advice books, the occasional one is fine!

Nicole Cliffe

@Jade I totally gave my husband "Black Dogs" and "Fifth Business" when we started hooking up. Poor guy.

OhMarie

@Jade Oh, my husband basically does not read anything that I didn't tell him to read. It's just that we have the same taste in books and I read 10x faster than him, so by reading whatever I tell him he basically just gets the cream of the crop. I think it's much differen't if it's like, an assignment, rather than a recommendation.

EKPinc

@Nicole Cliffe My SO doesn't read fiction (side note: I know!)...but I make all my best girlfriends read Fifth Business. Because it's just necessary.

Gilgongo

@Jade My husband ALSO doesn't read fiction (I KNOW!) and it's maddening. MADDENING!!! I love him despite this, and he has a lot of other great qualities.

EKPinc

@Gilgongo so glad to hear that you've made it work despite your literature differences......most of the time I know that it's OK he doesn't read fiction but sometimes I'm like WHY WHO ARE YOU.

Megasus

OK, but I feel like cheating is not part of someone's fundamental nature, and it is a choice. You decide to P in V, it doesn't just happen. So for the last letter writer, having an open relationship might help her, but like, she definitely needs to work through the jealousy stuff first I think? I dunno, that was a reallllly tough one.
Kudos to anyone who can be in a relationship and trust someone more as time goes on, I have never experienced that (I am not a very trusting person).

WaityKatie

@Megano! I would think that the lying component of cheating would be the hardest part to change. Like, fine if you get bored with a partner and want a new one after a month, but why go behind his/her back and lie to them? Why not just break up and start with a new one? I find it very difficult to believe dishonest people ever really change.

Megasus

@WaityKatie Well, I guess it depends on what part of cheating it is that appeals to the person. Is it the lying and sneaking around? Or is it the novelty of a new person? Or is it because you need to have sex with more than one person to feel fulfilled? I think that's what she really needs to ask herself. And doing it just because her partner is away for 6 months and she'll probably be bored is terrible, terrible idea.

WaityKatie

@Megano! And, I think it's important to differentiate whether the cheating was "whoops I got drunk at a party and made out with someone" or more of a calculated "I'm bored and feel entitled to constant attention and you aren't around to give it to me, so I'm going to go bone this other guy." I would find the first person much more potentially trustworthy than the second.

Megasus

@WaityKatie That's true! There is a difference between making a mistake and cheating. I mean, sometimes you do get drunk and that happens, but like, as long as it's once and you feel awful, fine. If it's a serial thing than you kind of have two problems, and one of them is alcholism. it sounds like in the case of the letter writer though it is not a mistake, it's something she has done many times to many people.

fondue with cheddar

@WaityKatie "I find it very difficult to believe dishonest people ever really change."

Me too, which is why even though I'm totally over my failed marriage, I'm sort of dying to know how goes my ex's marriage to the girl with whom he had a prolonged affair (she was married at the time, too). I just don't see how a relationship based upon such profound betrayal could possibly be happy and healthy in the long term.

paddlepickle

@Megano! My first reaction to that letter was "NO THAT WILL NOT WORK". Possibly because a friend of mine recently was breaking up with his girlfriend because she'd lied to him about a bunch of stuff, and said to me "We really want to be back together. . .maybe we can have an open relationship so then she wouldn't feel the need to lie so much?". The premise that open relationships are an end to all trust issues is verrry very dangerous.

Litebrite Idea

@WaityKatie created new account to comment on this...the dishonesty and cheating. I've been the cheated on and known a lot of people who have been cheaters. Yeah, people who need constant attention is one category of men and women. Also people who absolutely cannot be alone, so they always have to be with someone but that person may not be the right someone. Or they need to have backups waiting. Can't risk the sure thing until they know the new person is definite. For some it's a power trip if they can do it and get away with it; they feel entitled. Some married the high school or college sweetheart because they were "supposed" to and then freak the f*** out or get into their career or to grad school and meet someone who is actually right for them, but don't want to upset the family, town, church, etc. so keep it secret.

stonefruit

huzzah, it's leon.saintjean's grandfather again!

hey leon! Paging leon.saintjean!

SarahP

@stonefruit He's probably too busy following up on those calls he let go to voicemail while reading Carolita's piece.

leonstj

@SarahP - I've moved onto the whatever the digital-only version of "proofing" is. I can't believe it's so beautiful outside, and I'm in here making sure commas are where they're supposed to be in animations.

Equestrienne

I don't care who you are and who you're with, the non-monogamous couple's response to LW3 should be mandatory reading.

fabel

I wish communicating through books was a thing!

Also, I've thought exactly the same way as the last LW before. I'm jealous, but have also been cheat-y in the past, which then causes me to assume everyone I date is equally cheat-y. Which leads to more jealousy. Which then leads to ideas of "Fuck it, let's just not be monogamous, then!" (But for some reason, I don't think beginning an open relationship with that sentiment would work out well)

Anita Ham Sandwich

I've got two partners in addition to my husband.

The first, I met through OKCupid. Now his girlfriend is dating my husband, too, though he'd contacted her on OKC and she ignored him. It was until they met in real life due to my dating my partner that they clicked.

The second, I met because my husband and I befriended his wife and co-spouse at a poly meetup, then we went over to have dinner with all of them. I assumed I wouldn't be interested in future-partner because I traditionally didn't like guys with beards (and he'd heard of my preference from the co-spouse, who is bearded and I had turned down), so we both went into the dinner not thinking that there was a potential partner here. <3

TL;dr: I think it's important to try a few different things when trying to meet potential poly partners, but just also to make friends and hang out with cool people. They'll know more cool people who don't necessarily go to the meetups or sign up for OKC.

SarahP

@Anita Ham Sandwich Clearly the important question here: have you revised your opinions on beards, or did he shave?

Anita Ham Sandwich

@SarahP How could I have left that out?!? He still has the beard, and now my husband has grown one also. I've grown somewhat attached to both of the beards, though, as I hadn't known that they're actually quite soft when kissing (I'd been expecting chinburn on a massive scale).

SarahP

@Anita Ham Sandwich I've noticed that the burning only happens for a brief just-starting-to-grow out period. Sometimes beards tickle, though!

JessicaLovejoy

@Anita Ham Sandwich You ARE a sandwich! 'Cept you're stacked with DUDES.

redheaded&crazy

@JessicaLovejoy I would like to place an order for one of those sandwiches please.

WaityKatie

@JessicaLovejoy Manwich.

redheaded&crazy

@WaityKatie Yes, that. To go please. And thank you.

EpWs

@JessicaLovejoy Not gonna lie, read @Anita Ham Sandwich's first line as "I've got two ham sandwiches in addition to my husband." Both situations sound lovely.

I think I need some lunch.

fondue with cheddar

@Anita Ham Sandwich I prefer beards because I hate chinburn. And vulvaburn.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
NOM NOM NOM indeed... ;-)

a horde of great crab things

@Anita Ham Sandwich I misread your response as 'he is still of the beard', which struck me as a lovely way of putting things.

stonefruit

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Aaaaaannnd now all I can think of is the Nerf Herder song Love Sandwich.

paddlepickle

I don't see what's wrong with doing some reading on nonmonogamy to help you figure out if you're into it. A friend of mine told me him and his girlfriend were going to read 'The Ethical Slut" together and then figure out if they wanted to be nonmonogamous. I thought that was about the most adorably nerdy thing I'd ever heard, and a good idea.

Anita Ham Sandwich

@paddlepickle Ugh, have them read "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino...I at least enjoyed it much more than "The Ethical Slut" while deciding what type of openness I was looking for.

sarah girl

@paddlepickle The operative word there is TOGETHER. It sounds like LW2 just kind of foisted the books upon her partner, rather than opening up discussion or saying "Hey, I really liked chapters 3 and 6, let me know when you get to those so we can talk about them!" Big difference there.

paddlepickle

@Anita Ham Sandwich But neither of them has read it before! She had already read 'em! I think they're just reading too much into the 'reading assignment' phrasing, it sounds like she said "I learned about nonmonogamy from these books! You should read them!" and he was like "OK good idea!", she didn't say he expressed any resistance to the idea or she pushed it at all. If she were having him write weekly book reports or anything I might feel differently.

timesnewroman

I don't want to start a fight. Definitely not. But I don't really like this couple's tone and I was wondering if anyone agreed. If you don't agree that's fine, I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but was just wondering if it's only me?

Please could nobody tell me I'm pissing all over someone's lifestyle choice, I'm not, I like reading about this stuff, I'm just not sure I really like the tone of this couple, in the same way that sometimes I don't really like how a specific Dude or Lady comes across. So ... just wonderin'. If not, keep going, nothing to see here yadda yadda

Porn Peddler

@timesnewroman ....well, what specifically jumped out at you as unpleasant about them? Any offending lines?

gobblegirl

@timesnewroman I would have agreed with you last time they were on, when I definitely got a real "let us tell you all about our wonderful life and our perfect relationship and don't you wish you could be as wonderful as us" vibe, crossed with the Lovers from SNL.
Whether it's because the subject matter is a bit different (answering problems from that "community," rather than introducing it to the rest of us), or a deliberate choice based on the criticism last time, today's column was much more enjoyable.
YMMV, of course!

paddlepickle

@timesnewroman No I agree. . .I think it might just be because I find the back-and-forth format irritating, though? I dunno. But I thought they were a little jerky about the 'reading assignment' thing. It sounds dorky, not demanding.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@timesnewroman What is it about the tone that you don't like? (I really like it, so I'm just curious.)

Porn Peddler

@paddlepickle Requesting that your partner read a book about non-monogamy so you can have more productive conversations about it is one thing. The LW in question, however, wrote a letter that was on the whole pretty patronizing of her boyfriend.

noodge

@timesnewroman ...they sound like the regis and kelly of non-monogamy, a little too sunshiney for my taste. but not offensive by any means.

sarah girl

@timesnewroman I feel the same way, but I also can't really put my finger on it. Maybe it's too flippant...? I'm really not sure. I'm not like "UGH I WILL NEVER READ THIS COLUMN AGAIN," it's just a little... grating. :\

Saaoirse

@timesnewroman Yeah, ditto- I think it's maybe the way it's split between the two of them without really sounding like a real-life conversation, so it sounds kind of infomerically?

Still, I'm glad it was written and is here! It's such an important thing to talk about.

paddlepickle

@sudden but inevitable betrayal I find it a little difficult to read, like I can't keep track of who is saying what. . .I dunno, I don't generally enjoy reading people banter with each other, for some reason. Not a legitimate criticism particularly, just sort of grates me when I'm reading.

paddlepickle

@Third Wave Housewife Why, just because of the 'bright but a slow reader' thing? That's the only thing about it I thought could be interpreted as patronizing.

EpWs

@timesnewroman I'd also be interested in knowing what about their tone was offputting (is that a word?) to you! I got the same vibe as @gobblegirl last time, but didn't get that much this time around.

(This is a safe and happy space! It's totally okay to disagree with things, and your comment came off as non-agressive and respectful, so no worries!)

thebestjasmine

@paddlepickle Yeah, I don't like the back and forth format either, though this is at least better than the Turntable interview posts, which are so frustrating to read that I don't click on them anymore. I really didn't like their tone in the first post, but this one is better.

Porn Peddler

@paddlepickle I definitely did not like that, as if we'd assume he's stupid or something. The bulk of the letter reads as if LW feels like she knows all there is to know about open relationships. Like I said, wanting your boyfriend to read some good materials: Okay. Giving him a "reading assignment" (and using those words and complaining that it is taking him too long to read [when you don't even mention whether or not he is interested in doing the reading, and if you had to "assign it" and wonder how long it will take him, kinda sounds like he isn't)] and saying you can continue the conversation when he's done (why? Is he not capable of productive discussion without being super duper enlightened?): not so okay, in my book. It reads like.....he doesn't particularly care. And she...assumes he would/should if he were more informed or whatever. Also, the mention of "sweet, proprietary "mine" statements" rubbed me the wrong way. Like...he isn't going against the values of the at-present exclusive relationship, and that sense of "home" can be a component of non-monogamous relationships anyway. The objection to "mine" can be visceral, sure, but her objection reads as....I don't know. Silly perhaps?

datalass

@paddlepickle I sympathize. There's a tiny local paper in a town near where I live that runs restaurant reviews by a married couple in a "He Said/She Said" format. Unfortunately, it's ruined the back-and-forth format for me for all time. Even though this NM couple and the restaurant reviewers could not be more unlike, I can't help but read this "Ask a" without it sounding chirpy and sententious in my head. Also, I find myself asking, "Did they get refills on their water without having to ask?"

paddlepickle

@Third Wave Housewife HM ok you make good points. I didn't really think about the 'proprietary 'my' statements' thing. That doesn't even make much sense, you can be in a nonmonogamous relationship and still use 'my' statements about your primary partner. They're still 'my love' or 'my girlfriend' or whatever. Unless the sweet statements he's making are along the lines of "my monogamous partner who never makes out with anyone other than me', but I think in that case she'd know the answer to this already.

paddlepickle

@datalass Chirpy! That's the word I was searching for. I don't like being chirped at. It's not they're fault they're chirpy, though, I guess.

karion

@timesnewroman: For me, it was tone of LW#2 that hit the nerve and distracted me from any sunshiney tonal response. There is a particular subgroup of the poly community that is insufferably smug and/or supremely confident that their way is the path of higher consciousness and enlightenment, to the exclusion of all others.

LW#2 seems to be a paradigm of how this smugness evolves.

timesnewroman

@all They are a little ... happy-clappy for my liking. And, rereading it, a little preachy in parts. "infomercial" is exactly the right word. As is the phrase "being chirped at".

And I too found the format difficult to read!

treeskier170

@timesnewroman I don't know about you, but I just find this Ask A a bit annoying too. Maybe it's the super happy "our life is amazing!" vibe they send, but I think I generalize about non-monogamous couples. Most of the advice I see in this area tends to come off as "monogamous couples aren't healthy and you're making THE right decision in not being that way". Thank you, but my decision to be monogamous makes me perfectly happy. I don't want to share nor do I want to be shared. The advice they gave was very good, but again, I just get the sense that too many non-monogamous couples hold themselves higher than those of us who decide to kick it old school and have just one partner.

fabel

@timesnewroman I think it's not only the back-and-forth, but the fact that the two people in the back-and-forth are agreeing? I think the format is better when there's dissonance.

Porn Peddler

And now we're on this subject.

The lifestyle choices of others are not attacks on yours. Nobody has to stand up and shout about how great monogamy is because our entire culture does that at every turn.

skyslang

@timesnewroman I couldn't (respectfully) disagree more! I thought their tone was warm and kind. But more than that, I thought their responses were spot-on. I'm speaking as a non-poly, monogamy-oriented person who's just likes good advice!

treeskier170

@Third Wave Housewife And I'm not attacking other's lifestyle choices nor do I see this column an attack on mine. I simply stated that generally speaking, from what I've read, non-monogamous couples don't just tell others how great their lives are. It almost seems as if they're calling monogamous couples strange. If someone who supports this type of relationship wants to gain acceptance and spread the awesomeness of what they're doing, great. But don't be critical of my choices, because you obviously don't want me to be critical of yours. That's why I was saying I have a tough time reading these. However, I understand that it's a popular thing, and I respect those who take part.

runner in the garden

@treeskier170 - For sure, there's a real phenomenon ("the zeal of the convert") where people who have changed their lifestyle become convinced that they've reached enlightenment and everyone should convert to their new thing. It happens with nonmonogamy just as with other things (religion, veganism, whatever).

BUT I don't see that happening in this column, at all. What have they said that makes you feel criticized or pathologized or "called strange"?

valentin

@paddlepickle I stand by what I said, regardless of whether the initial comment was a joke. Conversations about polyamory around these parts are consistently getting derailed by conversations about monogamy. I know that polyamory (unlike sexual orientation) is A Lifestyle Choice for many people and thus open to personal debate. BUT. It would be really nice to have a conversation about the nuances of polyamory, without getting derailed by a debate about whether polyamory is The Right Choice for You and You and You and You.Transport de mobilier

sudden but inevitable betrayal

I have pretty much always felt like an open relationship is Not For Me (serial monogamist, here), but I read this and...I'm sort of curious about it now?

Porn Peddler

@sudden but inevitable betrayal Opening Up by Tristan Taormino is super interesting, if that's how you feel, because she includes interviews with people who are in open relationships (I don't think some of the other "standard" books on the subject do that). So you don't just get an informative book, you get a peek into the actual dynamics of a whole bunch of different styles of nonmonogamy. Giving those ideas faces and stories is so important.

JessicaLovejoy

sudden but inevitable betrayal......OF MONOGAMY

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Third Wave Housewife Interesting...I may have to check that out!

wee_ramekin

@JessicaLovejoy I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love you.

runner in the garden

@Third Wave Housewife - my favorite aspect of the Taormino book is the DIVERSITY of the people she interviews. Different relationship structures, different sexual orientations, different age groups, different personality types... and even some real talk about "times we fucked it up" and "times when nonmonogamy was a bad idea." It's not a utopia of perfect relationships, it's just people trying to do the best they can.

LabRat

This makes me feel not so hot about how I suggested an open relationship to my SO. I basically accosted him with sex and then afterwards told him I wanted to make out with other people, too. It worked, but it may have been that post-coital haze.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@LabRat Ooh, dirty trick. :) I'll agree to ANYTHING in the afterglow.

laurel

Ohhhhhhh, he's holding a fishing pole because he's fishin' for additional hotties!

/internal monologue

sophduck

I would be a lot more down with these features if the general vibe was more 'we're non-monogamous because we enjoy it' rather than 'we're non-monogamous because we've reached a higher, more emotionally adjusted place than everyone else'. The response to letter one, for instance, opens with heaps of praise on a healthy, supportive, happy, relaxed marriage, simply because the LW has said her and her husband are considering non-monogamy and are comfortable with the idea. That, to me, is not an indication that their marriage is any happier or healthier than anyone elses, it's just an indication that they are into this idea.

I don't want to sound hostile but I can see from the comments that I'm not alone in being rubbed up the wrong way by these columns - I'm not monogamous because I'm jealous, insecure, or don't have the time - I'm monogamous because when I'm in love with someone I simply have no desire to be romantically intimate (be that sexually or otherwise) with other people. I see nothing wrong with people feeling differently, and it's interesting to discuss, but the constant 'we are brilliant and you are brilliant for being so open and mature' tone of the writers of these is kind of ruining what could be 1. an enlightening discussion and 2. a useful space to say 'here's what we're into, here's how to do it successfully'. My two cents, don't want to offend.

runner in the garden

@sophduck The opening was maybe a bit overenthusiastic (and apparently put a bad taste in the mouth of readers who were primed to be annoyed), but I think they were responding to the part about "we're comfortable enough with each other to really trust each other." Possibly in contrast to some other letters they get where, as they mentioned, people say "I want to have nonmonogamy, but I don't feel like I can talk about it with my partner." THAT seems like a difference worth celebrating.

adorable-eggplant

@sophduck Yeah, I got the same feeling, and then went ahead and read through the comments to see if I was alone. I think it's the chipper aspect that got under my skin. It feels condescending to the person who asked. Why are there 15 exclamation points in the first response alone? It's how I'd write to a five year old who wanted to know if she could be an astrophysicist some day. (Follow your dreams, kid!)

And I'd hardly say that I am primed to be annoyed. ;)

E
E

LW2 I kept re-reading the very start of your post, because I think there's a key to some of the issues right there. Your relationship is 8 months old and the last 2 months of it have been exclusive. So unless you 22 or younger, this is what I'd call an infant relationship- it's that young/early in. I'm also going to assume that when you were dating non-exclusively in the first 6 months, that meant you hadn't agreed to be each other's primary partners- that only the last 2 months is when you have given each other the dedicated boy/girlfriend titles and the official rights and responsibilities therein.

More broadly than just non-monogamy, the first year(s) of a relationship (from wherever you want to start counting that point where you guys transitioned into being primary people for each other- whether it's 8 months, 2 months, 4) are/should be about an ongoing dialogue about what the terms of your relationship will be. Monogamous or not, that's a healthy and important thing. I think a lot of people just lock everything in too soon, and if you think you are giving your boyfriend the wrong impression about everything being all set forever and ever, then back the conversation up and talk about that.

My partner and I have been together for something around 2ish years, and while a lot of people treat us as if we're an old married pair, I still feel like we've barely scratched the surface of things to discuss- I think every month includes a lot of thinking and discussing and changing our minds about all kinds of things, and it's good, and I don't think that should ever completely stop, because I like the way that lets us feel like free people who stay together because we want to, on terms that are agreeable to us both, and sometimes also on alternating terms where one of us gets more of what we want for a while, and then the other does. That's how I can stand the thought of seeing the same person all the time for all my life- when I see it as having someone who is going to change and grow alongside me.

Lastly, and before I say this, I want to really support the right of everyone to be non-monogamous and to endorse that as an equally valid expression of romantic love as monogamy, is it at all possible you feel so anxious about this, because you yourself kind of wanted to be monogamous for a bit and now you are sort of freaking out about enjoying it? You talk about how you also are enjoying the possessive part of the relationship right now, and maybe you aren't just letting yourself be happy with that, because it feels like a betrayal of your intellectual commitment to non-monogamy? Because maybe right now it's good to be monogamous and you are sort of thinking, "AUGH! This isn't who I want to be! But also I like it for now! I wish he'd just read the book, and like it and then I wouldn't have to decide which side of this choice I'm on!" Because I don't think it makes you a bad non-monogamous person to take a possessive delight in falling in love and wanting to hole up with that person exclusively for a while, and as long as you DO make sure and go back and talk about how maybe this phase isn't going to last for your whole relationship, and how you think overall you want to be non-monogamous for the bulk of things, it's totally fine for you guys to agree that you will shelve that concept for the next 3 or so months of blissing out on each other, and getting comfortable working as a team.

But yeah, talk to each other. And don't diss the slow reader.

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