I'm Kitten, a Neutral Good pansexual poly pagan geek mom living in Seattle, actively searching for new ideas and new connections. I'm a strange mix of experienced and n00b when it comes to poly; I've been actively living the poly lifestyle since 1997, but have lived in mostly small towns, and have kindof stumbled into partners by accident. I have never experienced a poly community...until very recently. This has opened up a whole new world to me, as well as new pitfalls that I'd never been aware of. Join me as I chronicle my journey into this incredibly rewarding lifestyle.
Note: Nicknames or initials will always be used in this blog. If you think you know who I'm referring to, DO NOT call them out by name or use identifying characteristics.
"A slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you." -Dossie Easton
I WISH my mother had read this letter. Heck, I STILL wish she’d read it. And take it absolutely to heart. I am still so sad that my mother’s bigotry and inability to love me without condition has destroyed our relationship.
From the Christian advice blog of John Shore, a Christian reader asked what she should do about her sister, who had just come out as poly.
Here’s the reader’s question:
First, I want to thank you for doing what you do. I’ve been reading your books, blogs, facebook, etc. for a while now. I’ve had friends who just don’t think God wants them the way they are, and I’ve pointed them to your writings many, many times. I know that your encouragement has helped thousands of people find God’s acceptance.
Now, I’m finding myself in a crisis.
It seems that when it’s all just theology and talk, I am quite open minded. I believe in LGBT rights in the church, and I have repeated it countless times to many people. But now it has hit home, and I find myself acting quite differently — the very picture of the bigotry and hate I have come to condemn from the churches in which I grew up.
Here’s the situation: My sister has come to me and told me that she has decided to be in a three-person relationship. My husband and I met the guy in the relationship last week (at the time she just told us he was her boyfriend). But now she has told us the truth, and is asking us to meet the woman this week. We are supposed to keep this a secret from our parents.
I don’t want to meet her. My husband doesn’t want to meet her. I don’t think this is right for my sister, and I want to find a way to tell her. The back-story on this is that my sister has just come out of an awful divorce. She got married too young (she was 21, and had never lived as an adult on her own). Since her divorce, she has not taken any time to be alone. She hassearchedout sexual experiences of all spectrums. So although this is different — it seems to be a loving committed relationship — to me it just feels like an extension of her sexual freedom spree.
Ihatethe way that I feel about this. Ifeellike I am spewing out the very same sort of hate and bigotry that I condemn. Yet on the same time I feel on a gut level that this is wrong. Mostly just wrong for her, but also wrong. And I can’t sort out my feelings; I can’t tell if they’re a remnant from my upbringing, or if it’s my conscience telling me to take responsibility for my kid sister (which I can’t, of course; she’s an adult). I’ve been praying for God to guide me in this and help me be loving toward my sister in any way that I need to. If that includes accepting this relationship in her life, then I seriously need God’s help to change my attitude.Butso far I just have a big ball of anxiety in my stomach, because all I feel is the need to tell her toget outof this relationship. Please help me understand how I should react. Thank you so much.
And here’s John’s response:
Thank you for the kind words about my work. I appreciate that.
The first thing I’d recommend is to read this interview, which I did with a woman in a polyamorous (meaning more than two people) relationship: 1 Man, 2 Women in a Polyamorous Relationship. I can’t imagine you not finding it helpful.
Secondly, it’s touching that you care so much about your younger sister’s well-being. Sometimes, though, older siblings tend to take a little more responsibility for the feelings of their younger siblings than is altogether healthy or helpful; in that sense they sort of assume the role of a proxy parent. It feels to me maybe you’re doing a little of that here. Which is certainly understandable; clearly, you love your sister. But the bottom line is that she’s going to do what she’s going to do. You can and should, of course, gently share with her your own thoughts and concerns. Just remember, for your own peace of mind if nothing else, that her feelings are not your responsibility.
I don’t understand why you and your husband are so against meeting the other woman. What do you have to lose? Meeting her means having a lot more information about what your sister’s getting involved in. How could that be bad? At any rate, by refusing to meet her you pretty much forfeit your right to have an opinion about your sister’s relationship with her. You wouldn’t care what someone who’s never met him thinks about your husband — much less your relationship to him — would you? Go meet the woman. Be honest with her about your concerns. There’s no way she doesn’t know how weird most people find the idea of a polyamorous relationship. So talk to her about that. See what she says. For all you know, she’s freaked out to find herself loving the way she now is. You never know. So go. Find out. Learn.
Here’s the thing: Your sister is either going through a phase that will pass, or she’s really in love with these two people, and they really love her, and the three of them are going to live happily ever after. Either way, your job remains the same: to love and support your sister. You can’t change your sister; you can’t make your sister see truths you wish she would; it’s unlikely that you can influence your sister at all. All you can do is make sure that she knows you love her, that you’ll always listen to her, and that if she needs you for anything, you’re there. That’s the best. That’s all anyone wants to know about anyone they love.
Let her drive for a while. Take a back seat. Trust her a little. That’s really all you can do. If you shun your sister now, or constantly make clear how wrong you think what she’s doing is, she’ll only recoil from you. And if her love-love-love affair doesn’t end up working out, she’ll be a lot less likely to come to you for solace than she would if you’d been there for her all along. And if it does work out, then it would have done so in spite of you. No good. You just cannot win by condemning it now. And neither can she.
Bottom line: You can, and should, share with your sister your concerns, thoughts, fears, prejudices — all of it. You get to talk about you. But you don’t get to talk about her: you don’t get to tell her who she is, or who she should be. You can share with her, for instance, that you genuinely can’t understand how a person can love two people in the way that most people love one. But you can’t say that no one can love two people in the way most people love one. The former is about you, which is fine. The latter is about her and everyone else, which is beyond your rightful purview.
Bottom line redux: Love is a strange, wild animal. I tend to think people were designed to love, mate-for-life wise, only one other person. But who am I to say what romantic/committed love should or must look like? The woman I interviewed above seems perfectly content in her polyamorouos relationship; if anything, she seems more sane than most people. Since publishing that interview I’ve received a great many emails from people in polyamorous relationships, and to a person they’ve seemed sane, kind and… rather disappointingly normal. They’re not freaks. They’re not immoral. They don’t have subpar values. They don’t seem any less dedicated to either of their mates than I am to my wife. They’re just… in love with two people.
Who am I to say that such a love indicates the presence of… faulty wiring, or whatever? As long as no one’s getting hurt in such a relationship, who am I to say it’s inherently wrong or harmful? For all I know polyamorous relationships are better than the regular kind. I mean, it’s not like any of us are surrounded by nothing but happy normal marriages.
I don’t know about polyamorous relationships. I also don’t care about them. Again: if no one’s getting hurt, I can’t find a hook to hang my caring hat on. I’ve got my own life to worry about, my own relationship to tend to. Of all the problems in the world, I can’t see getting upset over the fact that someone is loving two people instead of one.
So I say relax. If your sister’s polyamorous relationship is real, you’ll know it. If it’s not, she’ll know it — and then you’ll know it. Either way, you’ll still be sisters. And that’s a love that should never change at all.
I saw this quote in one of my social networking groups this morning:
“A living language responds to the aspirations and needs of each generation but the changes should enrich, not impoverish. We debase our language if, while inventing new words to meet new techniques, we lose that nice precision of definition in vocabulary and construction which makes English an exact as well as a versatile language.”
This made my brain start clicking. Even though the author is clearly speaking about language, I went straight past that and into how easily the quote could be about non-monogamy.
So, a little rearranging and replacing, and it became this:
A living relationship responds to the aspirations and needs of each person but the changes should enrich, not impoverish. We debase our relationships (and ourselves) if, while adjusting dynamics to introduce new partners, we sacrifice the “old” in favor of the “new”. To take for granted that lovely dynamic of dance that you’ve built over time, that give-and-take, that meeting of the mind and heart that has come to define that relationship, is to devalue a very precious gift. Non-monogamy is an exact as well as a versatile relationship structure…in many ways, just like the evolution of a language.
That was a fun little thought exercise! What do you think? Does this make your brain start clicking?
I thought my character trial as a parent ended with my divorce. Nope, it’s all been dredged back up again in our current situation. All of it.
Will I ever just be able to put that chapter behind me and move on? And will I EVER get past the feeling that I need to prove that I’m not the person my parents and ex said I was?
I have an incredible chosen family and my life is so amazing I often feel like I’m dreaming. When can I simply settle down and enjoy it?
I am so very, very tired.
I got to be in a commercial!
I was cast for a photo shoot for an ad campaign, and then my family and I got to be the stars of an actual commercial for the same company.
We’re rock climbers, and so this morning at 6 a.m., we went to our climbing gym, went through hair, wardrobe and makeup, and then went into the gym. It was a really interesting and fun experience.
I got a HUGE laugh out of being referred to as the “talent”. It didn’t fit right, so I had to giggle at it.
I also got a massive ego boost out of the makeup artist not actually touching me. She took one look at me and told me I was perfect as-is. She said several other highly complimentary things, which made me blush like mad, but I was floored that she didn’t do a thing with my hair, my makeup, or what I was wearing.
We went into the gym, I climbed 30+ feet up the wall, and then talked into the camera. I think it helped that I actually believed what I was saying. There was no script, they just asked me to speak about my experiences with the company and their products, so I did.
It really was a fun experience. I don’t see myself doing anything further in this line, but now I can check it off of the list and say that it was interesting, exciting, and entertaining, and get on with my regular life.
I decided it was time for an update, to address why I’ve been fairly inactive on here for a while.
Those of you who have been reading long enough, or who have read back through previous posts, know of my divorce and custody battle, and how being openly poly was used against me in an attempt to assassinate my character and malign my fitness as a mother.
That was finally wrapped up in July of last year, and I breathed a sigh of relief to know that chapter was over, and I could move on with my new life, with an incredible core partner who fulfilled everything I’d never known I wanted in a match.
The peace was short-lived.
Less than a month later, I was again on the custody roller-coaster, but this battle was ten times worse…and is the reason I’ve been laying low.
This time, I’m in it as both participant and bystander. My core partner, Raven, has a fantastic daughter that I am now very proud to say I am evil stepmother to (she laughs hysterically at me when I make that claim…not sure why). I call her Chickadee.
Shortly after Raven and I moved in together, Chickadee’s mother decided to go off the deep end, and began a vicious campaign to have Raven permanently barred from his daughter’s life. Her statements to the court were vile, the accusations deeply personal and horrific. It was crystal clear that she could and would use absolutely anything she thought would give her case weight. She went way past mud-slinging into pure fabrication.
(For the record, though I believe her actions were in retaliation for Raven’s involvement with me, he and his ex had not been involved romantically for more than a decade at that point.)
Her attempts have not only dramatically failed, but we ended up with far more custody than he’d had previously, and the mother’s mental health has been called into question. (On second thought, I really should have titled this “The idiosynCRAZIES of life”.) :P
So, once again, I’m back in the round of home visits, interviews with a Guardian ad Litem, court dates…and the constant, very real fear that Chickadee is going to vanish.
Other than this process, my life is so full of epic and win that I would be posting nearly daily if I felt able. I would love to open a window into that life so you can all see that being non-monogamous can truly, truly work with the right partners, with honest and open communication, and with empathy and care for each other.
But I can’t. Not yet.
Brace yourselves, though. Once this has concluded, I will unleash the torrent of awesome that is my existence upon all of you. You have been warned.
(Update: based on the above sentence, a friend made this for me. I just about killed myself laughing.)
I am a lucky, lucky woman.
Seen in one of my online poly groups: “I had a conversation with my mom today in which it came out that I had a boyfriend. Her reply: “Life’s too short to be judgmental. And what I mean to say is life’s too F***ing short. I just want you to be happy.”
I wish that had been my mother’s outlook, rather than what ended up happening. I just cannot understand the need to force your outlook on someone else, to the point that you’re willing to destroy your relationship with that person if they won’t fall into line. That’s conditional love, and I want no part of it.
It’s just so stupid and sad.
The last two years have had most of my highest highs, and nearly all of my lowest lows. You could not induce me to relive them, not for all the money in the world. But…I have a bit of dissonance, in that I also wouldn’t, COULDN’T, choose to not experience them were that an option.
The story of the Vinegar Tasters applies, here. I could choose to see my experiences as sour, as bitter, or: appreciate them just as they are.
I am precisely where I am meant to be.
The sun is breaking over the mountaintops, and it is GLORIOUS.
That’s actually a pretty common relationship structure in poly, and is most often called a triad (if all parties are dating each other). A closely related, but slightly different structure, is when two parties out of three are dating each other, but not the third partner in common (an example of this would be my relationship with one of my female partners, who is not dating my husband). That second structure is generally called a V (pronounced ‘vee’, just like the letter), because if you diagram it out, it looks like a V, with the one partner in common forming the point of the V.
Does that make sense?