Tag Archives: Connectedness

Trust Fall Exercise -- Man falling backward into waiting arms of many people

Gratitude, Control, and Acceptance in Poly Community

Polyamory and Control

In polyamory (and open relationships), we’re often admonished for being “out of control,” or told that we should feel ashamed of who and what we are.  “Control” often shows up in polyamorous relationships in various other ways, too. For instance, people sometimes try to control their partner/s — or even more commonly, their partner’s partner/s) through inflexible rules. [Note: these are in contrast to Agreements, which require cooperation; read more here].  Poly people also often try to control their own feelings of jealousy or insecurity by suppressing or repressing them.  As Rocky the Squirrel says, “that trick never works!”

Fortunately, there are actually ways to moderate, work through, and get through such difficult situations and feelings. Thanks go to Veronica Monet for this clear, step by step guide to Getting What You Want by Giving Up Control:

How to Get What You Want by Giving Up Control of Self and Other

1) Breathe and Connect to Your Feelings
2) Feel Empathy and Compassion for Yourself
3) Replace Negative Thoughts with Hopeful Scenarios
4) Extend Empathy to Others
5) Let Go of Control and Practice Acceptance

Simple, powerful steps, with powerful results. (The rest of the article is great, too, and I recommend it.)

Letting Go of Shame to Find AcceptanceBy gnuckx [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I myself am receiving powerful messages right now to “let go” in my life. It’s not been something I’ve been traditionally good at. This is part of why I’m reaching out more for help of all sorts.  I need some “hopeful scenarios” to replace the negative thoughts, you know?

In that article, Veronica also quotes Brené Brown, well known expert on shame and vulnerability:

“You cannot shame or belittle people into changing. This means we can’t use self-hate to lose weight, we can’t shame ourselves into becoming better parents and we can’t belittle ourselves or our families into becoming who we need them to be. . . Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” [Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, page 197]

This speaks directly to what I was talking about a couple of weeks back (in Facebook) when I said I disagreed with the notion that we can hate ourselves into health. It’s also relevant to other situations in my life which are requiring letting go. It is HARD to ask for and accept help, especially when one has always been accustomed to being the one to offer it.  It’s especially hard for men in our culture. But it can be hard for women (or people of any gender) as well, in part because it requires letting go of the popular USAian idea that we can be “rugged individuals” and should be able to do everything on our own. It also requires letting go of the shame, and the internal messages that to ask for help is to have failed, or that we’re unworthy, or will never be good enough. It also requires us to give up control over what other people think of us, and the fear that they’ll judge us negatively for who we are, or what we need.

Polyamory and CommunityPoly Living Puppy Pile

One of the greatest gifts in polyamory (and sometimes in open relationships), in my view, is that of community. As we honestly open ourselves to others, and create bonds and ties and networks, we naturally create a community of not only lovers, but of loving people of all sorts; people who can be there for us in times of loss and hardship, as well as times of joy and celebration. It’s hard (for me, at least)to trust in this net, because of the strong messages of nuclear family, and individual responsibility. But as I allow myself to be more open and more vulnerable, I am finding more and more support — mentally, emotionally, and physically — is available to me.

Of course, this requires that I be open to receive that support, and that can be a challenge for a perfectionist like me. But by following those steps Veronica outlines above, I can breathe through the confusing feelings, and eventually learn to accept what IS. Not always easy, but usually possible.

I find that for me, part of the process is to continually remind myself to stay in a state of gratitude, which allows me to be open to receiving the gifts that may come my way, as well as allowing me to remain relaxed and able to respond appropriately.  “Fear is the mindkiller,” after all, and when I’m in a state of contraction, resistance and fear, I often cannot move, quite literally.

So it is now that I end this post where I began my day, in gratitude for my community.  I am grateful for so many of you, both those whom I know, and those whom I’ve never met, and may never meet. I am grateful for those who can help me with my physical and financial needs, and for those who can help me with my emotional, mental or spiritual needs. It is an article of faith for me, that in giving to each other, we always give back to ourselves. And I am especially grateful to my friend Adam, at the moment, who is providing an example that yes, it IS possible — through gratitude, acceptance, and letting go — to change for the better.

I hope by sharing these thoughts I can inspire you, as I have been inspired today by my friends and community. And may you always, always remember, that

Love is always OK.

~♥ Dawn

FREEPS: Are you interested in talking with me about polyamory, or about any of the topics in this blog?  I’m happy to give back via a Free 30-minute session, or a 1/2 price 60-minute one. Past clients have reported increased happiness, decreased feelings of shame and jealousy, and have gained clarity and useful tools through working with me in a co-creative process. I’d love to help you understand and manifest your own best life and loves! Contact me and we’ll set up a time that works for you. :)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

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Meeting Open-Hearted People via Local Groups

5 Ways to Meet Open-Hearted People — Part 2: Local Groups

This is part 2 of the series “5 Ways to Meet Poly/Open People.” In this series, I’m going to discuss 5 different ways you can learn more about “outside the box” relationships (e.g., polyamory, open-relationships, or other forms of ethical non-monogamy), and/or meet other people who are interested in the same things.  With some luck, you might even meet someone/s who want to date you! To recap, the 5 ways I’ll discuss are:

1) Conferences — one-time, occasional, or periodic gatherings
2) Ongoing Local Meetings — discussion groups, potlucks, dinners, game nights and more
3) Primarily on-line discussion groups — e.g., Facebook groups, Yahoo! Groups, Google Groups, Meetup, e-mail lists
4) Dating and Social Sites — e.g., Polymatchmaker, OK Cupid, Ko-Tango
5) Crossover Interests — e.g., tantra, swinging, naturists, kink/BDSM

Meeting Open-Hearted People at Ongoing Local Groups

Since the invention of the Internet and before, ongoing local meetings have been a staple way to meet polyamorous, open, or otherwise open-hearted people.  Whether it’s a potluck dinner, a discussion group, a hike, a board-game night, or a gathering at a local watering hole, these ongoing meetings provide a variety of locations, price-points, shared interests, and emotional support levels. These days, there’s something for everyone!

Local Meetings offer a number of positive benefits for meeting others,  including:

Continue reading

Morning Glory Zell

Remembering Morning Glory Zell, 1948 – 2014

I’d intended to continue my series of 5 Ways to Meet Poly/Open People today.  But life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  Instead, today I’m taking the time to commemorate Tuesday’s passing of Morning Glory Zell, Pagan Priestess, author, and (co-)originator of the word “polyamorous.”  Many others will tell her story more fully, and with more historical references. I’ll be telling the ways in which she affected me personally, and how she intersected with my experiences of both Paganism and Polyamory.

Meeting Morning Glory

Morning Glory had an impact on my life long before I knew it. I first met her in the late 80’s or early 90’s, up at Annwfn, the Church of All Worlds retreat center outside of Ukiah, CA. Continue reading

Hands4

5 Ways to Meet Open-Hearted People

Ever wonder how to meet other polyamorous, open, or ethically non-monogamous people?  Feel like you must be the only “weirdo” in the country?  Wish there were a way to connect with people in person… or conversely do you wish there were a way to find out more about this “new” lifestyle without leaving your living room?  Well, congratulations, you’re in luck!

As a person with access to the Internet (which you must be if you’re reading these words), you have access to some of the most powerful tools there are to connect with other people, and learn about this collection of lifestyles that can loosely be grouped under the heading of “ethical non-monogamy,” “open-relationships,” and/or “polyamory.” (Not sure what these words mean? Check out this past article on my blog, where I discuss some of the differences, and what it means — in MY opinion, anyway! — to be “polyamorous.“) The Internet has had a truly profound effect on our culture, as it has allowed a way for people to fairly easily locate other people of like-mind.

5 Ways to Meet Polyamorous/Open People

In this series, I’m going to discuss 5 different ways you can learn more about these sorts of relationships, and/or meet other people who are interested in the same things … and might even want to date you!

1) Conferences — one-time, occasional, or periodic gatherings
[BONUS! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for info on the upcoming Atlanta Poly Weekend Conference] Continue reading

Poly Gratitudes

120px-Cooking_cranberriesHappy Thanksgiving to all of you US folks (or anyone else) who celebrate it today!  Today I am grateful for the skills that I’ve learned through polyamory, which have helped to bring our tribe(s) into relative harmony and alignment that couldn’t have been imagined only two years ago.  I created my “usual” — fresh cranberry-orange sauce, an apple pie, and a pumpkin pie —  while my daughter made fresh bread with our breadmaker. My partner took the potatoes, the stuffing, and the turkey over to his ex’s house, and cooked them there.  I helped my daughter’s boyfriend’s family get costumed for the Dickens Fair this weekend, and then we headed over to my partner’s ex’s house, and consumed a marvelous feast and chatted while watching Rob Roy on DVD and enjoyed the attentions of a variety of domestic critters.  All in all, a good day.

I hope your day was as good, and I wish you a wonderful Holiday season.  I am thankful for you. :)

Because Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Have you checked out the “beta” version of my KISSable Agreements Workbook yet?  Only $10 via PayPal! :)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

Love’s Marathon [sharing a post by Patricia Pearce]

Patricia Pearce

Patricia Pearce

My friend Patricia Pearce often inspires me with her writings (or sometimes her friends do, as guest bloggers.)  This week she wrote another deep and thoughtful post on the tragedy of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, called Love’s Marathon. I highly recommend that you read it all. To get you started, here’s an excerpt:

In my understanding, the fundamental spiritual truth is that all things and all beings are interconnected, part of one body — Love — that animates the Universe. Atrocities such as Monday’s bombing in Boston do violence to that fundamental truth of interconnection by enacting a story of division. They are assaults on Love.

But because Love is the reality of complete oneness, even those who enact the story of division are not, cannot, be cast out of Love, because there is no “outside” of Love.

Once when I was walking a labyrinth on retreat, I received a teaching. “There are no enemies,” it said. “There are only those who do not know who they are.” There are only those who are not conscious that they are cells, as we all are, in the one body of Love.

[read the rest here]

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love this week, and about enemies, about division, and separation.  About what it means to love, to be an enemy (of), to support or betray.  Patricia points out that there is no “outside” of Love.  Love is intrinsically whole, intrinsically inclusive. There are people who try to say that, by loving “outside the box,” that I am outside of Love. That people whose love doesn’t fit societal expectations, such as those with same-sex partnerships, are somehow less deserving of being included in Love. I think this is nonsensical. Those who feel they must “protect the sanctity of marriage” by excluding one or another form of love are, as Patricia says, “enacting a story of division.” Love is bigger than marriage.  Love needs no “protection,” because it is bigger than the boxes we humans try to keep it locked up inside.

LoveOTB_DkPurp_72px_Clip

My logo, by the way, is a visual representation of this concept.  Love is literally outside of the box, the heart surrounding the smaller box at the center. It is impossible for the box — for me, or for others — to be outside of Love, because Love is bigger than the confining walls.  Love is unable to be contained … and also still open, with room to let more love, more people, inside.

When I get scared, and when others around me get scared, we tend to put up walls and barriers. Our intent is to create safety, but what we end up creating is separation.  We want love, but in our attempt to hold on to love, we create fear and pain, loneliness and suffering.  The hard thing, as Patricia says, is to continue to keep our hearts open, even in the face of pain and suffering. Even in the face of tragedy. Because without opening ourselves, and risking our own hearts, there is no way for us to remember that separateness is an illusion, that we all are one, and that there is room enough for everyone inside the welcoming heart of Love.

Fortunately for those of us who love outside the box, we’re used to running “Love’s Marathon”– we’re used to continuing to open ourselves to Love and to possibility, even when it brings us some pain in the shorter term, because we know (or trust) that the end of the journey is worthwhile. It’s not always easy — but then, worthwhile things rarely are. So when someone is casting ME out, or viewing me as an enemy, I get to remember that they’ve probably forgotten who they are.  And that makes it easier to love them in that moment, because I can remember that the separation is an illusion, and hope that soon, they will remember it themselves. I can hold that space of remembering that we are not separate, until they can remember it too, and then we can be together in Love again.

Wishing you Love and inclusion,

~♥ Dawn

PS: I first met Patricia in a course by my friend and mentor Samantha Bennett.  Sam has a course coming up this spring (her “Monster Get It Done telecourse), and since she’s rearranged the schedule so it starts next week instead of this one, you can still hop on the bandwagon. The way you learn how to sign up for the Monster Get It Done is to listen to the AWESOME teleseminar Get Unstuckified: Why You’re Procrastinating On the Important Stuff and What To Do About It.

I’m proud to be a Really Big Fan (aka Affiliate) of Sam’s, so if you choose to purchase the course through this link, I’ll get a referral fee. But I trust that you will do your own homework, and only purchase stuff that you know is right for YOU. I’ll be there in the course too, and on the calls, so you know I’m not just trying to get money here; I really believe in what Sam has to offer, and I think it’s worthwhile.

And I think that if we can all get ourselves “Unstuckified,” it will be easier for us to remember that we’re really all connected, and really all a part of LOVE.  After all… Love is ALWAYS OK.

love_is_ok_rainbow_heart_tshirt

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Poly Media Successes!

LMonOurAmerica

Chuy, Robyn, and John on “Our America”

Reports are coming in from all over that the poly segment of Our America that aired last night is a smashing success.  Alan M. of Poly In The News calls it “incredible,” and in one email to the Poly Leadership Network, said it would be “great publicity material for explaining the poly movement like forever.” :^D  You can see available video segments, and get a link to the re-broadcast schedule on Alan’s blog:

For those who missed the Oprah Winfrey Network’s incredibly good, hour-long poly documentary on “Our America” last night, you can watch the available video segments from it here:
http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2013/03/our-america-poly-documentary-incredible.html

Yes it was that good.

The show will be rebroadcast next Tuesday night and maybe again later. Schedule:
http://www.oprah.com/own/tv-schedule/index.html?q=Our+America+with+Lisa+Ling+%28Season+2C%29&page=1#browse_top

 

There’s also a great segment on the Loving More organization itself:

 

(Deleted Scenes: National Organization for Polyamory Awareness)

And another about a poly family raising an 11-year-old child:

(Deleted Scenes: Polyamorous Family Raising 11 Year-Old Girl)

Wow!

Remember also that we in the East Bay Poly Potluck community will be hosting TWO viewing parties in the next week.  I think the Berkeley viewing is full up, but there is still room at the one in Antioch, which is this coming Sunday, March 10th.  Doors open at 2pm.

In the process of getting ready for the show, the Loving More folks (who were profiled on the Our America segment) have also been working extremely hard at an upgrade to the Loving More website. They rolled it out last night, and it looks awesome!

LMBanner

One of the things ON that new Loving More site is a link to a new article by yours truly. :)  It’s called Five Reasons Agreements Fail, and it’s a combo of the two entries I made here last month in my KISSable Agreements Workbook series.

If you’re interested in another preview from the book, you can also download the section on Getting to Win-Win-Win, which I gave out at the recent International Academic Polyamory conference in Berkeley. The pdf is free, though to get it you’ll need to give me a valid email address. By the way, that will also sign you up for my list, where you’ll get periodic tools and tips, and notification when my workbook actually appears in print (soon, now!) If you don’t want to stay on my list after you get the pdf, you can always unsubscribe, of course (though I hope you’ll stay.)

Hooray for fabulous progress in the understanding of polyamory in our culture!  Hooray for personal and business success for Loving More, and all the other poly families and groups who appeared on this show! And hooray for getting the word out about tips and tools for successful polyamorous relationships — both my own (via this blog and Loving More), those of others on the Loving More site and at other locations all over the ‘net, and the world.  Bit by bit, we really are creating that reality in which I want to live, where whoever you love, whatever forms that might take, or however many people you might love …

love_is_ok_rainbow_heart_tshirt

Love is always OK.

~♥ Dawn


∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Sharing the Love (More) Safely

Qpid.me drawing of two stick figures sharing a heart outline

I was recently introduced to a new resource for managing safer sex and testing results.  It’s called Qpid.me, and it claims to be “A free, simple way to share your verified STD results” by registering with them, and having your results sent directly from your doctor to their private database.

Here’s what they say on their website:

To make informed sexual health decisions, you must not only be informed about your own health, but also about your partner’s health as well. We enable you to privately share your STD [Sexually Transmitted Disease, aka Sexually Transmitted Infection or STI] status however you choose. We believe that sharing is a good thing and that it can lead to better sexual health decisions, more (safe) sex and fewer STDs.

The service is limited, and doesn’t include a couple of important STIs (e.g., HSV, aka Herpes), and so far doesn’t seem to include a way to make any statement (or have your doctor make a statement) about those STIs, either.  Here’s the list of what they DO cover (from their FAQ):

  • » HIV: PCR/RNA, antibody and viral load (for HIV positive users)
  • » Gonorrhea: genital/urine, rectal and oral
  • » Chlamydia: genital/urine, rectal and oral
  • » Syphilis
  • » Hepatitis C antibody
  • » HPV vaccine
  • » Hepatitis A vaccine

I myself have some concerns over this whole idea, around the idea of the results being useable to potentially stigmatize someone/s in the community who turns up “positive” for something.  On the other hand, stigmatizing is certainly being done NOW, without benefit of this service to speed up the process, so I’m not sure how much actual increased risk there is.

BerkeleyFreeClinic.logo

I’m also concerned about things like financial accessibility, and that requiring a certain kind of testing might become a way to effectively marginalize some less-privileged parts of the community. Of course, there are some free or low-cost resources available, at least in most urban areas in the US (e.g., Berkeley Free Clinic), but in the current economic and social climate, this certainly is not a guarantee for everyone in all areas… and even if you live somewhere that’s covered by such services, accessing them can be more than a little bit of a hassle. (Not to mention the issues inherent with contributing to the unsustainable medical-industrial-complex in the US. (Thanks to Charlie Glickman in Twitter for that link))

One of the other things I’m concerned about is the common misconception that clear test results mean there is no risk of getting an STI. It doesn’t.  It’s incredibly important to remember that testing gives you a snapshot at a particular point in time, and that any sexual contact with others means that the snapshot may no longer be 100% accurate (see more about the “window period”).  Depending on how active you and/or your partner/s are, the accuracy could range anywhere from “still good” to “completely false.” Clear tests are never a substitute for good safer sex practices (e.g., consistent and correct condom use, and being mindful about cross-contamination), honest conversations with your prospective partner/s, and possibly having a Safer Sex Agreement (whether that’s something that’s “only” an Agreement with yourself, or whether that includes 1 or more partners as well.)  Remember also that any Agreements you make are best made in advance of clothes coming off, and when everyone’s awake and sober!

Picture of condoms in a rainbow of colors

In any case, I thought this might be of interest to some folks here, as one part of a comprehensive Safer Sex Agreement or plan.

(And now my brain is suddenly full of  images of eggs and juice and the phrase “[brand name cereal] is part of a complete breakfast”! *chuckle*)

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

Want some help negotiating safer sex (or any other kind of) Agreements? I’m always happy to schedule a free 30 minute session (or 60 minutes for half price). And if you act before the end of February, you can still get my Valentine’s Day coaching discounts.

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

The Time for Love is NOW

This has been a hard week. I am surrounded by loss, impending and tangible. The impending loss is of a personal nature, and involves me facing my own mortality in the mirror of my parents.  The already-tangible loss involves several deaths I’ve heard of so far in the last few days.  In particular, the loss of community members Brian Baker and Adam Griffiths has hit many of us very hard. Adam was not someone I knew well, but Brian was a friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed, and many of us are grieving this week, for both of them.

These losses and changes bring up fears. Fears of my own mental and emotional stabilities, for instance.  Will I, like my grandmother and my mother, also face the gradual eroding of my self and my memories? Will it change my personality, or render me incapable of self-care? Even if that’s not my fate, I might have something happen to me (as with my father) that takes some portion of who I am, and leaves me permanently altered. How would I handle that?  Would I still be ME? And even if THAT doesn’t happen… we never know how many days are left to us, as is so clear in the passing of these incredibly vital friends, taken “at their peak,” as many shared at a memorial gathering the other night.

We never know what will happen. For me, this stirs up thoughts about risk and safety. Far from driving me to take fewer risks, it tends to make me feel guilty for NOT having taken MORE, for not having been bolder and stronger, for not having gotten my work out sooner. I try to be gentle with myself (it’s a lot of grief, and a lot to process, after all), at the same time I’m feeling driven ahead by this sense of urgency.

I wrote this to someone privately today:

“Safety” is an illusion, ultimately. It’s a FEELING within ourselves. We
have control over our decisions to proceed, in spite of or considering
risks. Choosing a lower risk activity or course doesn’t not, however,
generally mean NO risk… and therefore may still result in “unsafety.”
There are no guarantees in life, no matter how “safe” one tries to be.

A common motivational poster says:

RISK Motivational Poster

“A ship in a harbor is safe… but that’s not what ships are for.”

Being wholly and fully alive, living your purpose in every moment …
that is, in my opinion, far better than attempting to play it safe, and
ending your life unfulfilled. I honor and cherish your goal to use good
accomplishments to fuel your desire for a positive world.

So mote it be. :)

Love is also a risk.

It’s a risk to dare to connect with others, when we don’t know the outcome. It’s a risk to love in the face of rejection.  It’s a risk to love in our own way, despite the real potential for stigma or censure.  But thing is…

We never know if there will be a tomorrow.

So I’m urging you now, my friends, my family, my colleagues, and all you relationship explorers out there (whether I’ve met you yet or not):  Take your relationSHIP out of the harbor. Even if it scares you, even if you don’t know how it could possibly succeed, even if you are afraid of failing, or that someone might hate you for who or how many you love.  Take the risk.  Love boldly.

Tell everyone you love how much they mean to you. Pick up the phone, write an email, go into the next room and give them a hug. Send an old-fashioned letter!  Even if your relationship is strained, if you can, try to imagine how you might feel if suddenly, tomorrow, they were gone, and your words of love were left unsaid. Would you regret it? Then speak love to them, now. Loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean approving of everything they do, by the way. Sometimes loving someone is an act of will! or an exercise in choosing your words carefully. :^) But if that feeling is there (even a tiny bit), then in my opinion it’s worth sharing, now, in this moment… because now is the only time we have.

The time for love is NOW.

Dawn

PS: I love you. :^)

hand-shake-love.330px

Keep Emotional and Physical Safety Agreements Distinct [Tip #6]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.After a delay due to illness (the nasty cold had turned to an ear infection), here at last is the next installment in my in-progress Agreements Workbook.  This is Tip #6: Keep Emotional and Physical Safety Agreements Distinct.

Questions or comments about any of these Agreements Workbook entries?  Feel free to contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box!

Wishing you and yours lots of love and gratitude on this (US-celebrated-) day of Thanks.

~♥ Dawn

PS: I’m working on a new program that I’ll be unveiling soon, called Jealousy Judo.  Are you interested in test-driving the first part in a 1/2 hour free session? Just drop me a line and we’ll find a time!

PPS: I got my test ornaments from Zazzle today!  I particularly like this one, with my logo on one side, and “Polyamory: Love Outside The Box” on the other. :)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

illustration of bleeding heart pierced and surrounded by thorns

“No falling in love” — Not a good safer sex Agreement!

6) Keep emotional and physical safety agreements distinct

Have you ever heard of someone putting this into their “Safer Sex” Agreements: “No falling in love”? In my experience, it’s pretty common, especially for those whose relationship structures tend more toward swinging or open than polyamory. However, although it’s tempting to attempt to mandate emotional safety via safer sex Agreements, it turns out to be extremely difficult if not impossible to do. Safer sex is primarily about logic and science, cold hard facts, and things that can be measured. You either used condoms, or you didn’t.  The test is positive, or it’s negative (usually). The heart, on the other hand, is notoriously capricious. Heart-decisions are most often emotionally based, and don’t respond well to logic. You can’t be a little bit pregnant, but you can be a little bit in love. And it’s really difficult to “back up” in a relationship, once two (or more) people have fallen in love. At the very least, it’s a recipe for drama and lengthy nights of processing.

Conversely, bacteria and viruses aren’t much impressed with how much in love you are, or whether you think you’re “fluid-bonded” or not when you kiss another lover right after going down on someone new. While there’s some evidence to support the idea that positive intentions do positively affect the immune system [refs], the evidence isn’t really strong enough to substitute “wishing really hard” for using condoms and knowing the testing status and risk tolerance of yourself and your partners.

Picture of condoms in a rainbow of colors

Because of how ineffective emotional Agreements are in Safer Sex, and vice versa, and because of the difficulty of actually enforcing Agreements that mix emotions and epidemiology, my suggestion is usually to avoid making such Agreements in the first place. Instead, create separate line items for emotional issues and epidemiological ones, and if necessary, create separate documents for safer sex vs. emotional safety.

Now might be a good time to review Tips #2a, b & c on having Clear Standards and Consequences [p. ___]. In particular, make a note of whether something uses objective or subjective standards for success.  If the standards are all subjective ones, chances are this Agreement belongs in your Relationship Agreements, rather than your Safer Sex ones. If you’d discuss it with your physician or a clinic worker, that’s probably a Safer Sex Agreement. If it’s an Agreement you’d make with your kids, or a platonic housemate, then it probably belongs in your Relationship Agreements instead. If it involves latex or plastic on human or toy appendages, it’s probably a Safer Sex Agreement.

Note that there are some areas that overlap, particularly in the matter of pacing new relationships. Human bodies are chemically and hormonally based, and having sex often triggers chemical cascades that nature intends to cement relationships [refs, e.g. Alchemy of Love and Lust] … at least long enough to get kids conceived, born, and to about their 2nd birthday. [refs, e.g., Sex At Dawn.] However, biology is not destiny, and while the heart is difficult to regulate, behavior can be tracked and modified. So especially in these “grey areas,” try to make your agreements about behaviors, not about feelings, and you’ll find them easier to track and measure.

You can see some examples of various sorts of Agreements in Appendix B, including some that (mostly) separate out Emotional Safety from Safer Sex, and some that don’t. Be sure to check out a bunch of different Agreements, to see which ones resonate for you, and which don’t.

 

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

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