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Author Topic: Heather, what are your thoughts on polyamory?
WesLuck
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A quote from Sex Lives of Australian Women by Joan Sauers:

"Perhaps monogamy as the unshakeable foundation of all romantic unions is the next battleground for sexual emancipation."

And Sauers quotes author Esther Perel:

"Even our most entrenched beliefs about sexuality are susceptible to revision. We once shunned premarital sex and homosexuality; they are now more or less accepted in most circles."

Sauers then writes "Perhaps, as Perel suggests, monogamy needs to be a choice, rather than a given."

What are your thoughts on polyamory?

(Btw: just had a quick search of polyamory on startpage.com and it seems there are a lot of resources in Australia!)

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WesLuck
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I'm talking more like, an ongoing relationship between three people.
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Heather
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Are you asking here for my personal opinion or my professional opinion (mind, they're in alignment, but still)?

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WesLuck
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Both. And I'm not talking about one where a couple can choose to have other partners, but where there is one relationship between three people (say two women and a man). But I still would like your general personal and professional thoughts on polyamory too.
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WesLuck
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I've got a lot of interesting thoughts and insights from that book I referred to in my opening post. From society's frequently "forced monogamy", to the desire displayed to not be forced into common roles of "heterosexuality as default" and "must only have sex with one other person at a time, even if you can love more than one", and big penalties for going outside a one-on-one relationship. I am interested in exploring the possibility of an exclusive relationship with two other females, possibly living at my house if that turns out to be possible, and feel that I would have the confidence to deal with any put-downs that might come my way or my partners' way. And I feel it may also help to reduce the still widely held opinion that sex is "dirty" or "shameful". It really can be pure pleasure and as long as you set boundaries and respect yourself and the people you choose to be with, then it doesn't matter if your relationships don't fit the "default" format.

I also think having an exclusive sexual relationship with more than two other people is practically impossible due to time and energy constraints, but I think people in the right frame of mind, approach, communication skills and chemistry could manage with two equal (but not the same [Wink] ) partners.)

There are a few of my thoughts. Heather, what are yours? [Smile]

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Heather
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Sure.

Well, personally and professionally, I don't think there is ANY one model of relationship when it comes to exclusivity that's right or wrong, better or worse. It's just about what model best suits the people involved at any given time and their unique relationship(s).

By all means, there are some people, relationships and situations where clearly exclusivity or non-exclusivity is going to be a better or worse fit, but again, that's all very individual and situational.

For sure, we know that for the most part, in most parts of the world, anything besides monogamy can have the extra challenge of not being as culturally accepted, so there's always that to deal with. Of course, I think it's also fair to say that there are people who are monogamous who have to deal with that too, or have, whether we're talking about being in queer relationships, interracial or interfaith relationships, having one partner be abled and the other not, etc.

And you're right, time management, and energy management, is often an issue. Any time we have more than one intimate relationship -- not just sexual or romantic -- it is, and the same is true when that management involves multiple people interrelating together. I'd disagree that anything larger than a triad is impossible, and some people and history itself (there have been whole sexual communities, for instance, like Oneida, in history) make clear that for some people, that is possible.

But again, this is individual and situational. What's not doable or wanted for one person can be for someone else.

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WesLuck
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Social conformity is a big issue. Even when I have not committed to having a three-way exclusive relationship I can feel it. Although I did mention "practically impossible" to have more than 3 in a relationship, meaning possible, but rare.

What do you like and dislike about polyamorous relationships? Are there many three person exclusive relationships in the world? Probably not many openly.

I think it might be best if I start off getting involved with one person and see how it goes, and then see what happens. Of course, it might be good if using on-line dating to leave open the possibility of more than two people in the relationship. But I kind of like the idea of having three equal but different people in a committed relationship, two females and myself, but I am aware it would be a *lot* of work to create and maintain. I would have to decide whether it was the right thing for me (and for the others), and whether I have enough energy to go against the two-person monogamous expectation and stereotype, and whether I could find two other women (probably bi/pansexual) it would suit. [Smile]

Heather, do you have any more thoughts on this issue?

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WesLuck
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Would a women need to be bisexual to get involved in a three way exclusive relationship? It would definitely help, but in that book it found that in some research that had been done, straight men and women were often attracted to pictures of the "other" sex, but gay men were only attracted to pictures of men and straight men were only attracted to pictures of women. Whereas even women who identified as straight were often attracted to pictures of other women. I'll try to find the exact part of the book where this research is mentioned.
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Heather
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I'm not sure I understand what you're asking or assuming.

Are we talking about a relationship in which two women are involved and they are expected to be sexually or romantically involved with each other?

If so, then by all means, they'd each need to have those feelings, however it was they identified their orientation (and remember, too, being an orientation where it's possible for a person to be attracted to people of a given gender never means they will be attracted to any or every member of that gender).

I don't think I can say what I like/dislike about poly relationships in some broad way just like I couldn't about other models: I'd have to be considering a specific relationship, as relationships are so diverse, even within any one model.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Also, I'd say that in general trying to "shop" from the outset for people for a specific model of relationship often isn't the best approach to any kind of relationship, IMO.

Rather, I personally advise that people meet who they meet, see how they fit together, and feel out what's best from there. By all means, you can express interest in certain models or make clear others are dealbreakers or just not what you want, but I think trying to find people to fit a model is a bit backwards and often not how the good stuff happens.

I'd say that's even more an issue with something like a triad, especially if it's you on the prowl, as it were, for two women to be in a relationship with you and each other, which kind of puts you in the drivers seat when there would be a whole relationship there that wasn't about you at all. Know what I mean?

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Yes, I agree with you that it would be extremely unwise to go "shop" as it were. I think I will just meet people and see what happens. But that doesn't mean I can't leave my Menage a Trois book as a subtle conversation starter. I suppose even I can be guilty, as least at the previous moment, of unresolved lust. (Which is what this issue is about, IMO. [Wink] )

I'm kind of new at this kind of thing. I've grown emotionally and spiritually (and I don't mean that in a particularly "religious" way either, but just that I see the interconnectness between things), but I can still come up with funny ideas occasionally. Thank you Heather for talking me round, and helping me focus on what's "really" important! [Smile] I really do appreciate your straight talking, down to earth approach (and in this case I am talking "straight" as in "straight talking"). I know that I have been known to say nice things about you, but that is because you are such a great, well-rounded person IMO! [Smile]

Thank you!

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WesLuck
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Btw Heather, do you think I've been posting too much in the last day or so? I've thought about all the posts I've written and have tried to be positive and supportive as much as I could. But I did get that flood message once, which meant that I gave it a rest for the rest of the night before I went to bed. I don't think any of my email was spam though.

(You can still reply to my previous post if you want to, too. [Smile] )

Look forward to your reply/ies!

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Heather
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No worries about that: someone cheerleading positive support for everyone is always a good thing. [Smile]

Personally, I think something like coming to a first date and putting a book about triads on the table might read...well, a little tacky. And to the other person, might feel kind of pressure-y. I'm not sure if that's exactly what you were envisioning, but I'd advise getting to know someone better first to get a sense of if that's something they might want, establishing more of a relationship first, and then talking about it when the time feels right rather than dropping hints like that (even though that's hardly as subtle as a hint, if you catch my drift).

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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No, it would only be at the stage of them coming to my house, so quite far along, and only the case that I'd show them my bookcase, with all books names' pointing out, I wouldn't specifically point to any book. And I definitely wouldn't leave a book like that on a main table or an obvious place where it can be easily seen. [Smile]

Btw: I also have a lot of other books apart from sex related books in my bookcase. [Smile] It includes textbooks, general interest, and a lot of non-fiction.

I would think them coming to my house would be quite far along in the process of getting to know someone, and I'd be showing them through my house. If they showed interest in any of my books (and not just be sex-related books) I'd be happy to talk to them about it. Just clarifying - I wouldn't have the book on the table on a first date or even on a table by itself when they first came to my house. I would only talk about any of the books if they wanted to talk about any of my books. [Smile]

[ 03-17-2012, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Heather
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Well, that's certainly a different scenario than I envisioned, so there you go. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Now I wonder what that means? [Wink]

Does my previous post change your perpective on the issue? [Smile]

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Heather
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Sorry to be obtuse. [Smile] My point is, having someone see you have one book on something when looking at all of your books rather than, say. flopping that one book out so you can say something without, you know, actually talking about it, is a very different thing.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Well, I'm not sure if I would want a non-exclusive relationship. I might find I am quite happy with my partner, and not even worry about bringing three up. At this point in time, I think I'd want any romantic relationship I might have in the future to be exclusive, so just one woman, or two women. I'm not sure I'd be into a fling or a once-off with a Menage a Trois, like the book describes. In some ways, just having a one-on-one relationship is easier than introducing other permutations and emotions into the mix. [Smile] (And if both people are having flings on the side in that particular kind of polyamory, then I think that does increase the risk of STIs.) There are some advantages to the traditional model of monogamy! [Smile]

[ 03-17-2012, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Heather
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Well, you're not really talking about an exclusive relationship when there are more than two people: you're talking about a closed triad. That's exclusive in its way, to be sure, in that you'd not want it to be open to anyone else, but when most people think or hear "exclusive" they're thinking about monogamy between two people.

It also sounds to me like you might be dismissing what could be the experience of the women involved: after all, neither of them would be exclusive with you, and whatever relationship they had with each other, while it may also include you, would also be its own relationship.

(On STIs, for sure, any time more partners, of any kind, are added to the mix or just to one person's life, the risk of STIs increases. But latex barriers and regular sexual healthcare actually play much bigger parts in reducing those risks and decreasing STI rates than monogamy does, especially when we're not talking about two people who have only, only ever been sexual with each other and won't ever be with anyone else, a scenario that's exceptionally rare.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Sorry, yes - by "exclusive" I did mean "exclusive within the triad". The thing is there are a lot more relationships when there are more than two people - two people has one relationship, whereas three goes up to three relationships in a closed triad. That's what I meant with my last comment in my last post - that there is only one relationship if it is only a couple.

And for sure, jealousy can be issue in a triad or other polyamorous relationship (of course, even in monogamous too [Smile] ). I just have to decide that of the opportunities that I get, based on what my partner wants, what to do as a couple. As I said, I may stick to just one partner, for (relative [Wink] ) simplicity (if relationships can ever be described as "relatively simple"! [Wink] [Smile] ).

[ 03-17-2012, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Heather
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I'm a little confused by where jealousy came up here? I didn't bring it up, so I'm wondering if you misunderstood something I said.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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I was referring to "It also sounds to me like you might be dismissing what could be the experience of the women involved: after all, neither of them would be exclusive with you, and whatever relationship they had with each other, while it may also include you, would also be its own relationship."

It is at least a bit related I think.

And no, I wouldn't mind at all what the relationship between the two women was like, as long as it was caring and supportive. I would not expect everything to go through me, but I guess I would still like to know if everything wasn't alright with regards to that relationship.

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Heather
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Oh, I wasn't talking about jealously. I was talking about the idea that this is an exclusive relationship from where you're sitting, but it sounds like some of why is that you might be seeing the triad as really mostly being about YOUR relationships, not getting that the two other people involved would also have their own, including parts which don't include you or aren't about you.

And FYI, that can, in triads, include relationship issues between two people that aren't brought to the third if those two people don't think it involves the third person or don't want it to. Allowing for some level of privacy like that in poly relationships is pretty important.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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It might help to think about things like that, btw, by thinking about family relationships. Let's say you have a family with two parents, one extended relative and two kids.

Everyone isn't always going to be sharing everything with everyone, even conflicts, even though that family is its own unit and group relationship. In group relationships of any kind, there always has to be room for smaller relationships to also be their own.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Yes, I see what you mean now. Yeah, it's something to think about. It also suggests that multiple concurrent partner relationships are more like families (in terms of number of relationships, person to person) although there is the sexual element.

Basically, every relationship (sexual or no) that one is related to is different and important, and must be allowed to be its own. I think I could handle that, if it were to happen that there were more than two in the relationship. [Smile]

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Heather
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I'd certainly say that sex being in the equation doesn't somehow change all the other relationship dynamics, or somehow make a group relationship that's sexual different with the kind of dynamics we're talking about. Sex doesn't take things away, after all, it just potentially adds things.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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Yes, I certainly agree with that.
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WesLuck
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I think I've decided that I will just focus on one partner. I don't know the stats on polyamorous relationships, but I can't see how a three person relationship can be balanced in the long run, in the majority of cases. And anyway, a one-on-one relationship is quite an achievement to keep together long-term, just by itself!
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Heather
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To my knowledge, we don't have any data that says that monogamy or poly work better or worse than one another. Of course, we'd have to even know what the criteria for "works" is, and have a criteria that's not only applicable to monogamy or that framework.

Like I said earlier, I think the best way to go about picking a model for relationships is to go with what you think or know will or won't work for you, then, when you meet people, to feel out what feels right for that unique relationship that also still fits those parameters for you and the other person in it.

Whatever that is, I think it's all good on the whole. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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