What Relationship Anarchist are you?

Bar none, relationship anarchists are my favorite polyamorists.  However, relationship anarchists also make up the vast majority of my least favorite polyamorists.  While polarizing opinions are very rarely drawn between a person and himself, I’ve been musing myself in twain!  Just like political anarchy, relationship anarchy is a profound shift in the existing paradigm.  Also like political anarchy, it can leave people worse off than they were before if the revolution is executed poorly.

Firstly, definitions.  Since the voice of the people is the voice of god.  Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of Relationship Anarchy:

The practice of forming relationships that are not bound by rules aside from what the people involved mutually agree on.

Oooooh, shit!  What a sexy relationship philosophy!

Kinda…

That’s how things look on paper.  It’s tough to apply the structure of language to something as aggressively unstructured as anarchy, though.  In practice, relationship anarchy is manifest in its different subsections; just like political anarchy!  In all my experience with people who self-identify as “Relationship Anarchists”, I’ve found they generally fall into one of two categories:

Relationship Marxists      &      Relationship Libertarians

So if you have been flirting with or subscribing to the notion of relationship anarchy, there’s a real chance you could be one of these persuasions.  But which one?!?

I wish there was a test we could take– like finding out which House you’d be in Hogwarts.  But there’s no Sorting Hat in my sex life (except maybe this one), so we’re forced to self identify.  At its base, relationship anarchy is a DIY relationship.  That broad definition encompasses virtually all alternative lifestyle relationships, though.  I hit up some of my buddies who identify with the relationship anarchy style, and most define it as a form of “non-heirarchical polyamory”.

While many non-monogamists might have a single or number of partners they view as their “primary”, there are some who prefer not to stratify their partners.  And while complete equality of all the relationships in your life is not a realistic achievement, it’s certainly a goal worth reaching for.

Striving for that is what pushes relationship anarchists, and what I truly admire about them.

That being said, no revolution is without people using its tenets to advance their own agenda.  If relationship marxists follow their namesake’s mantra:

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”

So to do relationship libertarians follow their namesake’s mantra:

“Got mine. Fuck y’all”

Alright, that’s harsh.  But I’m a recovering libertarian, so I can say that.  I still think Gary Johnson was the most entertaining third party candidate we’ve had in recent memory, and Ayn Rand has some decent quotes despite the fact that I disagree with the vast majority of her sentiments now.

Not every relationship anarchist I’ve met has a high regard for individual freedoms and personal boundaries.  Many actually assume the mantle of the relationship anarchist to have even more control in a relationship than is normally granted by the unwritten rules laid down by the patriarchy of conventional dating.

Feminist author Jo Freeman has an excellent essay called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” where she talks about the inherent dangers of unseating the establishment coming from her experiences with the radical feminists of the 1970s.  The dangers she calls out of anarchy are the same as the ones found in relationship anarchy.  Over 30 years after Freeman, another feminist author, Hilary Wainwright, revisited that essay with her own “Imagine There’s No Leaders“.  Wainwright explains:

“lack of structure too often disguised an informal, unacknowledged and unaccountable leadership that was all the more pernicious because its very existence was denied.”

A progressive relationship style with built-in gaslighting?  Opportunistic liberals are chomping at the bit…

I’ve seen this paralleled in the poly communities by self identified “relationship anarchists” who believe that because they have absolved themselves of conventional obligations to their partners, they too can also absolve themselves of basic accountability. 

The solution to people abusing relationship anarchy is the same as the solution to people abusing political anarchy: representation.  The terms of the relationship need to reflect the needs of the partners.  That may lead to obligation or feelings of ownership, but leaving yourself open to that is a better option than leaving yourself open to abuse.  Wainwright goes on to explain:

“The only democratic answer lies in the creation of transparent structures based on collectively agreed rules that may or may not include leaders of some kind.”

Communication, the yardstick of polyamory, is another item that people abusing relationship anarchy often consider themselves ‘above’.  This is the easiest way to determine if you are involved with (or are personally) a relationship libertarian: sit down and have a talk about preferences.  Resistance to discussing shared boundaries often means that a person doesn’t want to get hung up on their route to having a good time.  While any partner, even monogamists, can certainly be opposed to having certain shared boundaries; if just discussing them is off the table, then a stratification exists in that this person’s romantic status quo is their primary.  In such a case, you might be better off leaving them to find some other objectivist heart to live together in whatever romantic utopia makes sense to them.

Relationship marxists on the other hand, are willing to address these issues with real responses.  These people know that we’re all in it together, and preserving one’s individuality does not need to come at a cost of consideration.  If you have the aforementioned discussion of preferences, they will be willing to open that dialogue.  A relationship marxist would come to mutually agreed terms that can keep all parties satisfied.  Even if it comes at some cost to their autonomy.

And I hate to use the word “cost” at the risk of making a relationship feel like it’s an exchange you have to haggle and bargain with.  Relationships don’t need to have a cost.  But everyone has to put in their fare share.

That’s just been my experience with relationship anarchy, though!  Any of you reading are relationship anarchists who think I totally missed the mark?  Anybody else relationship anar-churious and want to share your hesitations?  Relationship libertarians who want to stand up for their rights?  Let’s keep this discussion going in the comments!

Down with OPP

For conventional dating, the three word phrases that usually send people running are “I love You” and “Ass to Mouth”.  In the world of nonmonogamy, there is a different three words that go bump in the night:

One Penis Policy

The OPP; also known as polygyny, hareming, or the “Highlander-Cock Rule”.  I’m talking about the relationship style that is a form of a cis-heterosexual coupling that is non-monogamous.  The stipulation to their non-monogamy being that while the man is allowed to have whatever outsider partners he likes, his female partner may only have relations with other women.

You might have known some people with an OPP (One Penis Policy), you might have even been one of those couples.  I know I was.

It was when I was a young, scared, and still recovering from being a monogamist.  And fuck me running if it didn’t make me feel secure to adopt a lifestyle that’s incidentally one of the most desired male fantasies in existence.  As a crutch, having an OPP eased me into polyamory just fine.  But now that I’ve spread my wings (and have them tested regularly), I can fly free in the winds of non-exclusivity and I look back on where I came from and see the real issues with it.  Firstly and simply, it’s not fair to the woman in the relationship.  It’s also dismissive of the connections that are built between women.  Ultimately though, it’s not really a necessary step to being truly open with each other.

Being truly open relies on being fair.  It relies on having a realistic understanding of the expectations you have for your partner.  I encourage guys to try playing with their own asshole before they try anal with their girlfriend.  I encourage guys to try body waxing before they expect brazillians.  It’s good to know what it’s like to be on the receiving end before you buy a pretense.  In this case, I’m talking about being on the receiving end of somebody else’s nonmonogamy with a heterosexual partner.

While some guys might feel like the only way they could be nonmonogamous and secure is if their girlfriend was with another woman.  If that’s the case for you, you’re letting your greed and insecurity undermine your partner’s pursuit of happiness; which fundamentally opposes nearly all the virtues of polyamory.  And to tack it onto the historical practice of polygyny as a tool for female oppression, the OPP has no place in modern polyamory.  Modern polyamory is also feminist polyamory.  Modern polyamory cannot exist in a space where men are explicitly given liberties not also offered to women.

To be blunt, the OPP is misogynist.

To be extra blunt, the OPP is misogynist and homophobic.

Having the policy doesn’t make you Jerry Falwell, but it does dismiss the legitimacy of connections built in the absence of heterosexuality.  I didn’t feel like I was being homophobic when I was doing it.  Hell, I felt like I was a champion of the queer movement for allowing my partner to indulge her bisexual desires.  I fancied myself to be the great liberator, imparting my superior male blessings upon her playful acts of want and carnality.

Like I said, I was young.  Did I say stupid?  I was stupid too…

The OPP is not an ally of the queer movement.  It’s quite the opposite.  It’s tantamount to telling your partner:

“I’m possessive of you and feel threatened by the idea of seeing you build a heterosexual connection.  I recognize that you are more secure in our relationship, and can abide the limitations I am neglecting to extend also to myself.  Because I consider homosexual relations between women to be novel and trivial, I will allow them.”

The OPP fundamentally relies on the idea that a sapphic encounter is somehow not “real sex.”

I assure you, it is.  And girls can be just as territorial and possessive as boys when it comes to romance.  So if there’s a worry that a another man will somehow upstage the relationship dynamic, then a real solution is to avoid nonmonogamy altogether.  If you’re new to nonmonogamy, set whatever boundaries make you feel comfortable.  But I implore newbies to avoid having a long term OPP.

Even if you don’t have an official OPP, you’ll probably end up with a de-facto OPP.  For several of my partners, I have been their only male partner.  It’s not because I’ve established a set of rules preventing anything otherwise.  It’s because of an underlying truth about modern courtship:

Dating guys sucks.

Trust me, I’ve done it.  There’s a reason I’m on the straighter end of bisexual.  There are lots of reasons, actually.  Women don’t mind taking things slowly.  Women are more willing to talk about their feelings.  Women are self lubricating.  My partners and I have mostly dated women simply because it’s generally a much more pleasant experience.  Making a policy for it is unnecessary and functions only to perpetuate the marginalizing of women and queers.

If you’re a standup guy, then you’ve set the bar for the quality of gentleman that your lady will desire.  Lesser basic bros will be turned away by her having a confident man in her life.  If there’s a worry that being open to other men will somehow invite the creepers to start making their advances, I can understand that.  But for those of us who have seen the modern dating market, we know that creepers will make their advances regardless of how your relationship is identified.  Even if the man in a given relationship was out of the picture, and the woman was on the dating market as an asexual lesbian only looking for distance partners, she would still be accosted by straight male creepers.  She’d also probably get accosted by couples with an OPP…

Anybody here ever have an OPP?  How did it go for you?  Post in the comments!

What’d the Five Fingers Say to the Face?

Something scary happened in my bed one time.

Now, I fancy myself to be a little experienced in the bedroom.  But I’m still in my 20s.  All my ‘experiences’ are just the tip of what a real adult sex life looks like.

Me and my gal went out for the night.  We hit up a coffee shop, caught a movie, slipped in for the tail end of a party, drank Sangria and laughed hard until we started weeping fruity, crimson tears; then we turned in.

We crawled into bed and started getting frisky.  I touched her up and down.  We smooched and squeezed and spanked.  She is a foreplay junky, and it only gets worse when she’s drinking, so we were drunkenly fondling and tonguing each other for the better part of an hour.  After this spell, I stuff a hard dick into her and we go to Pound Town.

Pound Town is a wild country with this gal.  She is a bit of a tomboy.  She plays softball, fucks girls, and has a wrestling fetish.  She can be a real lady too.  She likes dresses and makeup and the Gilmore Girls.  Though lets her fuzzy navel grow freely.  She’s proud of that.  Sex with this gal is an interesting combo of wiles, both feminine and masculine.

Now, I get scared in the bedroom.  All the time.  For all sorts of different reasons.  I get scared that my partner won’t find me attractive.  I get scared that I won’t be able to get it up.  I get scared that I won’t be rough enough.  I get scared that I’ll be too rough.

I get scared that I am too rough.  But as a top-heavy kinkster, I’ve never really been scared of my partner being too rough.  But I had a very real experience with this girl when she unannouncedly slapped me in the face mid coitus.  Hard.

She slapped the shit out of me.

There were a number of different feelings this provoked in me.  I was startled.  I was angry.  And I was scared on a whole series of levels.  I was scared for my safety because she engaged in a direct mechanical strike without negotiating that level of physicality with me.  I was scared I made a very inaccurate judgement of my partner’s dedication to my safety.  And I was scared of the anger I felt.  I slapped her back.

I slapped the shit out of her.

After I did that, I told her we needed to stop.  The emotions that were running hot in my horny lizard brain were something that needed to be checked immediately.  I pulled out and threw in the towel like somebody just showed me a picture of Gary Busey.  She was polite enough to offer me a session of gentle cuddles and relaxed conversation.

Laying there, all flustered and frantic, I asked what provoked her to do that.  She said she had no idea.  She told me that she was just overcome with an intense urge to slap me stupid and it happened virtually without a thought.  I wasn’t going to judge her too harshly, though.  I’ve certainly pulled a spur-of-the-moment move that wasn’t received as well as I had predicted.  So I wrote it off as just one of those things you do and she acknowledged my hesitations as legitimate and it was never a problem ever again.

It was never a problem with her, at least.

A year later, I’m with a different young lady.  She has different proclivities, different styles, and has never met the lady from the previous anecdote.  But still, despite complete separation from my previous experience, this girl behaved in a very similar fashion.  We were getting hot and heavy like two frottage-wild teenagers.  After we started splicing sex organs, she looked up at me with this face that I’ve only seen Jack Nicholson make.  Sure enough, without warning, she reeled back with her strong hand and slapped me right across the face.

She slapped the shit out of me.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, though.  So I kept my cool and just held her arms down and fucked her crooked like a calm and collected young man.  It wasn’t as startling as the first time, but it still wasn’t real pleasant.  Not so unpleasant I had to stop, though.

After we had wrapped things up and she was cleaning the Hitachi and I was putting away the N64 Rumble-Pack, we cuddled up and I had to inquire.

Why do that thing that you done?

She said something similar to the last explanation I had received.  She wasn’t entirely sure.  But in the heat of the moment, cracking me across the kisser like she was a pimp named Slickback seemed a totally logical decision.  We had a few words, and just resolved to ask before exchanging that kind of intimacy in the future.

The third time I was with a gal who suddenly slapped me in the face during sex, I just said “please don’t do that” and carried on.

And yes, she slapped the shit out of me.

I could dismiss an isolated incident with this kind of behavior.  But three independent, non-consecutive occurrences has led me to believe that this might be something worth exploring more comprehensively.  This experience has led me to some new ideas about the realms of sexuality.  Firstly, nobody falls 100% on either side of the dom/sub spectrum. This is also a fine reason to remind people about the importance of prior consent in the bedroom.

Just like gender, sexuality, or any other conventionally accepted false dichotomy; there is a wide spectrum of potential standings for how dominant or submissive somebody is in the bedroom.  I’ve seen diehard subs who would lick strange things off stranger places and like it just because they were being told.  I’ve seen these same subs be absolutely enamored with the idea of their dom being tied up before being serviced.  Similarly, I’ve seen plenty of domineering, heavy-handed doms start to swoon when somebody mentions pulling their hair.

The point is that nobody falls completely on either end of the spectrum.  There is no factory-standard set of sexual preferences.  And it’s dangerous to assume.  I’ve had partners in the past forge ahead without asking based on their previous successes and I have been very startled at some of these attempts.  You should ask before trying something new with a partner, ideally.  You should definitely ask if your partner will need to look it up before they agree.

We need to explore these different aspects of our own preferences.

We need to explore the shit out of them.

On Receiving Rejection

In the dating game, I wish people could be put in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.  One of the most common and heinous acts of unsportsmanlike conduct I’ve seen is the inability to take a refusal with a little grace.  Maybe I just get rejected so much that I think it’s a necessity.  But unless you’re deluded enough to think you’re always going to be “winning“, there will be times when you’re not winning.

I use the phrase “not winning” instead of “losing” for a number of reasons.  Firstly, everyone in the dating game is a winner as long as you’re being respectful and polite.  I also dislike the idea of rejection as losing because it implies that the goals of being courtly are solely romantic conquest.  It also implies that if you’re a “loser”, you have nothing left the lose.

Plenty of hopefuls have felt slighted by a “no” and have done some silly-ass shit in response.  I did when I was young and rambuncious and couldn’t comprehend the idea that someone wouldn’t be interested in a lothario like myself.  So I made a total ass of myself and tried to make them feel as bad for rejecting me as I felt for being rejected.  It wasn’t thoughtful.  It wasn’t constructive.  And it ruined any chance I might have had.

Plenty of people don’t understand that a “no” might very well become a “yes” if you’re patient and respectful.  That being said, I’ve come a long way from my r/seduction-reading, fireball-guzzling youth.  Sure, it would be nifty if being understanding of a rejection awakened someone’s need to be with an empathetic partner and they change their mind immediately after hearing a graceful acceptance of refusal.  Primarily though, doing this enriches a shame free dating culture.  Which is a dramatically more noble calling then constantly cruising for ass.

Respond well and you could be accepted later.

Respond well and you might make a new friend.

Most importantly though, respond well to help foster a culture where people aren’t afraid to say “no”.

So many people are practically incapable of saying “no”.  This is partly because a huge population  (esp. women) is groomed from a tender age to not say it.  This is also because the few who have mustered a refusal are very often met with backlash in the form of dismissal, insults, even threats.  Because of this, and the proliferation of literature about “winning”, I thought it would be valuable to offer my experience with keeping a sense of style when you’re not winning.  I have a lot of experience…

Handling your rejection can be done with contextual candor, depending on the circumstances:

  1. On Teh Internets
    I message so many people, I inevitably receive replies explaining that I am too old/young/male/short/Irish.  If they put the effort into writing me a refusal, I’m obligated as a gentleman to write an understanding acceptance of it.  By far, the most common refusal I get is when I ask people if polyamory is a dealbreaker:
    BPResponse
    Firstly, I gotta assure them that there’s nothing wrong with having preferences that don’t fit me.  Just like there are plenty of people I don’t want to date, I want to acknowledge my respect of their right to not want to date me.  Next, I make sure to thank them for taking the time to write a reply.  They could have not read my messages, or pretended not to have read it, or read it and wrote a disgruntled reply full of pointed comments about my bushy eyebrows.  But they didn’t.  They spent time providing me a conclusive communique.  I better recognize.  Finally, I put the ball in their court.  In any courtship, it falls on the suitor to initiate contact.  My last move is to offer that responsibility to them.
    While it may not have a great turnover rate (28.7%).  It does have a better turnover rate than offering a shitty response to their refusal (0%).  If someone offers a response, even a rejection, they have opened a communication that is civil.  You could walk away with a new friend at the very least.
  2. IRL
    You might meet someone at the party, or on the train, or at the anime fitness convention and feel a spark.  You might finally try to manifest those feelings you’ve been sitting on to ask out someone close to you in an effort to break out of the friend-zone.  Or you might just ask someone out who’s not as into you as you are into them and your date proposal is met unreciprocatedly.  The best course of action to just move along like it never happened.
    Will it make things awkward between the two of you?  Not really.
    The only difference between two peoples’ interactions after a date request is unrequited is that a future romantic engagement is significantly less likely.  If your friendship or civility with someone hinges so heavily on a potential date, you may not actually be that good of a friend.  If the answer is “no”, FIDO.
  3. Unfinished Symphony
    Just because somebody said “yes” to a date, doesn’t mean you have standing consent for the rest of the encounter.  With regular and consistent communication, you may very well find out that your date may not be interested in taking a step you’re gearing towards.  If they agreed to hold your hand, they may not want to kiss.  If they agreed to give you a kiss, they may not wanna bang.  If they agreed to go to bed with you, they may not have the kind of sex you want to have.
    When you’re taking intimacy somewhere new, your partner might say something like “I think we’re moving too fast”, or “I don’t know if I want to do that”, or “Let’s get back to the table before our waiter thinks we left”.
    All these things mean “no”, which also means no.  So ease back and keep your hands to yourself for a spell.  This might mean keep them to yourself for the rest of the night, this might mean keeping them to yourself until your partner is ready to get back to pound-town.  Ultimately, it means they’re calling the shots for a minute.  Don’t feel tempted to test how far they’re willing to go by letting your hands wander until they’re met with another refusal.  Don’t feel tempted to try and barter some hanky panky with offers like “Could you gimme a BJ instead?” or “Just the tip?.  You’ve established that you want to go farther than they do.  So let them decide how far y’all are going because they know you’re game.  Say something to the effect of “What would you be comfortable doing instead?”  If they are too frazzled to make a decision about where intimacy is going, you’re probably done for the night.
    It’s a bummer, but it happens.
    If anything, just ask them if you can hold them and then try and conk out for the night.  If you have a stone-hard-life-threatening boner that you really have to do something about, just go crank one out in the bathroom.  I encourage people to say nothing about giving yourself a quick treat in private.  If you ask/tell your partner about what you’re going to do, that’s kind of pressuring them to ‘satisfy’ you.  At the same time, trying to sleep with blue balls is sometimes like trying to sleep with your socks on.  I can’t do it.  So if you’ve been building up all night but release got denied, in the most discreet way possible, hit up the john for the old crap’n’fap.
  4. Hitting Hard Limits
    Similar to the unfinished symphony, if you’re asking an existing partner for something new, they may not be as interested as you are.  Make sure you discuss taking these steps together while your clothes are still on to give your partner time to come to an informed decision about what route to take with this knew desire they know about you.  This could be an opportunity to explore something new together, or this could be a wedge that gets driven into the relationship.  The most common limit that people hit refusal for is anal.  Because it’s placed on this pedestal as a sexual holy grail, and because it’s real tough to do; lots of relationships hit this bump.  But it’s true of virtually any snag of intimacy due to hesitations, not just buttsex.  This could happen if you’re asking your partner for a sexy roleplay, or if you’re asking your partner for a threeway, or to draw stairs on an etch-a-sketch while pegging him.  If the answer is no, you’ve got some options:

    1. FIDO
      Continue the relationship without getting this thing you want.  Ever.
      San Savage calls this the “Price of Admission“.  Ask yourself if this person means enough to you that you are willing to carry on without getting this particular intimacy that you desire.  Hopefully, they’re worth it.  Your desire may fade, or it may fester and mold out into stewing enmity between you and your partner.
    2. Pass the Pace
      Accept the no.  If you respect it, it could very well become a yes later on.  A tentative yes could become their favorite activity with you, or it might become a special treat they give you on birthday and Hanukkah.  But the only way it’ll become anything is if you’re respectful and don’t push too hard.  Take it at their pace, or just slow as a glacial pace; whichever is slower.
    3. Non-Monogamy
      Outsource your desires.  If your partner doesn’t want to get pegged, but you absolutely have to; if the two of you are comfortable with it, branch out.  Hit up Craigslist or AdultFriendFinder for something casual.  Adopt a lifestyle of polyamory if you’re considering something more invested.
    4. Cut Bait
      If you’re not willing to pay the price of admission, but want to remain monogamous, I strongly encourage ending the relationship.  As I mentioned before, desire may become frustration which may become enmity.  By the time you hit enmity, you might be so deeply entwined that you just resolve yourself to being permanently romantically affixed to someone who cannot satisfy you.

If there was a penalty box for the dating world, it would be filled with people who didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong.  We’re still getting used to this whole asking thing, so of course there’s going to be some hiccups in the realm of getting a refusal.  But consent culture won’t be built over night.

Have you ever refused someone and gotten a good response accepting your refusal?  If so, what was it?
How do you handle refusals?  If you never get them, what’s your secret?  Please post in the comments below!  If you refuse to post in the comments, I respect that decision.

Confessions of a Recovering Adjacent-Rapist

It’s pure luck that I’ve never woke up next to someone I recently assaulted.  There were times I didn’t know a party was consenting until I reached down and felt how excited they were.

I had some great times before I made getting consent a priority.  A platonic spooning party with a friend could turn into a forbidden tryst in the middle of the night.  I could meet someone on the dancefloor and accept their afterparty invitation without knowing their sobriety.  I could let kisses turn to touches turn to wet fingers and clenched teeth and the only sound either of us muttered were moans.

But I was stupid and should have known better.  In my head, I was reading consent in all sorts of places.  But I was also young enough to believe all sorts of bad shit was a good idea.  Whether or not I was committing rape-adjacent sex wouldn’t be confirmed until the pillow talk.  I was getting Schrodinger’s consent.  And I’m a lucky guy that I guessed right all those times.

Now that I’m more grown up, I have distinctly higher developed ideas about consent.  At the time though, I would have defended my behavior fiercely.  I wasn’t driven to committing these acts by any classical rape motives.  I committed these acts because I wasn’t raised not to.  I committed these acts because nobody ever told me it was wrong.

These days, I’m friends with enough staunch feminists that requesting consent is implicit in lovemaking.  For plenty of people, asking for consent does not impede the chemistry of an encounter.  They will glaze over it as part of the process, like queefing.  For some people though, the idea of asking for verbal consent is as destructive to an intimate encounter as whiskey-dick or seeing a picture of Janet Reno.

Some people view the push for verbal consent as an unnecessary version of a sex contract that ruins the intimacy of an encounter; it kills the mood.  Some guys think it somehow undermines the classical male sexual fantasy they are trying to embody.  Some girls don’t do it because social conditioning.  Ladies are more than just groomed to not say “no” when they don’t want something.  Plenty of women are never groomed to say “yes” when they do.

Speaking with my female friends, they seem to be just as unacclimated to giving consent as plenty of guys are unacclimated to asking for it.  Lots of my female friends have told to me that they have frozen up silently when guys have asked them.  The guys went ahead with Schrodinger’s Consent, and things have worked out sometimes.  And just like plenty of guys believe they can read nonverbal consent, plenty of girls have tried to give nonverbal consent by doing weird shit like averting their eyes and starting to giggle.  

Just this last weekend, I was at a Halloween party I was hosting for the Chicago Poly Community.  I invited along a lady that I had been on two dates with.  I thought the dates went pretty well.  At the end of our second date, she even gave me a kiss…in the face!  Third time seeing her, I invite her out to the Polyween party.  She looks to be having a great time meeting people and hitting the dance floor.  I even had some time to share a dance with her.

When I’m dancing with someone I don’t know…or only kind of know, I keep my hands to myself  unless I ask permission first.  So she and I had some of that sweet intimate-but-separate dancing for a spell.  I leaned in and asked her if I could put my hand on the small of her back.  She didn’t respond, though.  I thought she didn’t hear me, so I asked again.  She averted her eyes and started giggling.  Then I told her straight; I wasn’t going to touch her without her verbal consent.  Instead of saying yes or even nodding her head, she instead turned around and began grinding her ass against my crotch.  It was some straight-up tweenstyle frottage on the dancefloor.  To me, I felt like she was more comfortable doing this than saying “yes” which was really unsettling.

I’ve had a date where we were giggling in between sharing a big plate of nachos and discussing our mutual affinity for cunnilingus.  Nachos turn into a motorcycle ride to her place for coffee.  While we were waiting for the lattes to cool, I asked if I could give her a kiss.  When I leaned in to kiss her, it was like her libido was a party popper and I just pulled the cord.  We collapsed on the kitchen floor, frantically snogging each other like ravenous octopi.  She ripped both of our clothes off, pitching them at the recycling bin, the dish rack, the cat.  When I was finally able to come up for air and lay her back on the checkered tiles, I began kissing down her bare midsection.  I stopped at her waistline and said something brazen and ridiculous:

“I don’t mean to be too forward.  But if you’ll have me, I’d be awful fond of slinging your legs around my neck and eating out your snatch like I was wearing a fucking feedbag.
I gave that imagery a second to set in and let her finish giggling before I followed up:
“I don’t mean to make those kind of moves without your blessing, though.  May I?”

She didn’t respond with a “yes”, but I know she heard my question.  She averted her eyes and started giggling.  I decided to shoot her straight.  I told her I don’t like to get involved with peoples’ genitals unless I have aggressive consent.  She still didn’t say anything.  She grabbed a fistful of my hair and stuffed my face down into her crotch.  I know it’s dangerous to go ahead without enthusiastic verbal consent, but I did that thing where I put my faith in reading nonverbal cues.

On the one hand, I was a little put off that she wouldn’t just say “yes”.  I was put off that I put all this work into verbal consent and she didn’t ask if she could ball up my pompadour and put me to work.  I was put off that she was bold enough to ride on a stranger’s motorcycle and let him into her home, strip him naked and decorate the kitchen with his clothes, then let perfectly good coffee get cold; but this whole saying “yes” thing was just too much.  Yeah, I was a little put off.

On the other hand, she was smokin’ hot and I wasn’t fibbing when I made my original offer…

Lots of people believe that nonverbal consent is acceptable if the guy is following the gal’s lead.  But this opens a whole different slew of issues.  Sure, there are ladies who are more comfortable taking the reigns silently than they are with responding verbally to a consent request.  But for one thing, they aren’t as common as girls who just freeze up silently and make no response despite their desires.  The other issue with letting the woman lead is questioning whether women should be held to the same standard of verbal consent as men.  Letting the woman lead without verbal consent operates under the assumption that men can never be the victims of rape-adjacent sex with a woman.

Getting over the problems with consent is going to be tough.  For everyone.

Obviously, us guys are going to need to dramatically beef up our efforts to gain consent.  But we’re all in this together and there’s a lot of work that women have to do to undo this consent bind we’re all in.  Just like guys need to know when to ask, girls need to know when to tell.  Something I’ve learned in my greater efforts to get consent is that girls have been raised to do a lot of confusing shit when it comes to consent.

I’m all but spent with confusing consent issues.  I was reading this great article by Leah Libresco about rape-adjacent sex.  She recommends guys conduct a “reverse-lysistrata“, where we boycott sex with women who aren’t willing to give us verbal consent.  While many may scoff at the idea, I don’t think this is that far off.  I know plenty of my male peers who won’t have sex with a girl if they have to wear a condom, plenty won’t have sex with a girl if she won’t perform fellatio first, plenty who go soft if a gal hasn’t shaved her legs.  If these trivialities can keep guys from having sex, hell yeah I believe we can hold out without verbal consent.

Up until the revolution comes, though, we’re could all try a little more to diffuse some of these issues.

TO THE MEN OF THE WORLD:

Will a greater effort for verbal consent be damaging to the intimate encounters that you have?  Not really.

I’ve been a consent thumper for the past few years and it hasn’t reduced the amount of girls I’ve brought home.  I may have a few novelties to sway the ladies in my direction, but consent is easy enough to get.  In the event that you bring home a gal who can’t say “yes”, you could certainly make a fun game of giving her consent to take charge, otherwise you may just have to spend the night platonically.  It might be better to not have sex with someone who’s got an issue with a push for consent.  Any girl who would get turned off by the idea of you asking first is probably not the kind of person you wanna take home.

TO THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD:

Be ready to say no.  Be ready to say yes.

Nobody is going to call you a slut.  Unless that’s what you want.  In which case you should definitely tell us.

Ask for consent.  Ask for us to ask for consent.  Take the initiative.

If you’re the kind of lady who’s already capable, god bless you.  Help your sisters reach that level of confidence and comfort.

To everyone:

This might mean that I don’t have a whole lot of bedroom skills to be complimented on, but the most common compliment I receive from a new lover is that they really liked how I asked before I did anything.  Flattering though it is, I don’t want to be complimented for this anymore.  Asking for consent shouldn’t be something I get recognition for, this should be a standard practice.  I want people to request/grant consent while fucking as easily as they gloss over the sheets getting ruffled while fucking.  I want girls to feel comfortable owning their sexuality, especially if it means telling guys like me they want that D.  I want to lay in bed with a new lover, catching our breath and I want to be complimented for my cuddling ability, my O-face, my bedsheets…fucking anything except asking for consent.

A consent revolution isn’t going to happen overnight.  It’s not going to happen because of the actions of one gender.  It’s going to happen one person at a time until it becomes the standard.

What converted me?  Somebody asked me.

 

 

 

 

AUTHORS NOTE: I understand that this article was written with a very heteronormative idea of relationships which falls heavily on the false gender dichotomy.  The spectrum of love and gender is vast and wide and yet still unexplored completely!  I apologize if you feel like this article does not apply to you because you do not subscribe to these ideas.  This article is directed towards the sizable population of conventional datership that does.

Responding to a Response

The Bro Bible once ran an article:

10 Signs Of How ‘Down To F**k’ A Girl Is…Just From What She’s Wearing

The article was removed from the Bro Bible after an article from the Huffington Post-Women went viral on facebook.  The Huffington Post’s article spread like glitter at a Ke$ha concert.  It was called:

“How To Tell If A Woman Is Down To Have Sex With You”

The Post’s article was the following:

“ASK HER.

A woman’s clothing or jewelry or level of intoxication can’t tell you anything about whether she’s ‘down to f**k.’ Only she can.

End. Of. Story.”

I’m going to just dismiss The Bro Bible.  Outside of practically embodying some of the most negative ethos of rape culture, there is only one true source for bro wisdom.  The ass-hats responsible for the Bro Bible’s post are easy enough to shrug away.  The Huffington Post, on the other hand, got under my skin and I wanted to address their article.

Firstly, let me do that thing where I check my privilege.  As a white, educated, mostly-employed, vaguely-heterosexual male; I’ve got more privilege than Gaston has biceps.  That being said, I know many people would dismiss my opinions on women’s consent.  As a rebuff of the Bro Bible, the Post squashed them so bad that the article was pulled.  However, I do feel like The Post is also guilty of publishing a misleading idea about what is and is not consent.

Of course, no means no.  But there is a library of other tells that also mean no.  Sometimes, even “yes” means no.

A common enough issue is that consent is indeterminate in shape and varies depending on the consenter.  While asking if you can touch could mean standing consent for everything from cunnilingus to scat-play with one partner, asking if you can touch could very well mean just touching with another.  And while it may seem tedious to have to ask:
“Miss, may I kiss you?” “Miss, may I fondle your breasts?” “Miss, I’d like to kiss your breasts now, is that okay?”
Doing this still isn’t as tedious as a consent debacle.  Especially when it’s your first time with a partner, it’s fantastically better to get too much consent than not enough.

Another obvious scenario when verbal consent isn’t actually consent is when alcohol is involved.  But I would amend that to include any scenario where a potential sexual partner doesn’t have their head on straight.  This extends to judgement-impairing drugs like Adderall, Molly, and 4Loko.  Just because they give you consent, doesn’t mean you should take it.

If you ask first and they say something like “As surely as the lizard queens have bestowed their many succulent powers unto me, I will usher you into the garden of sexual delights”.  Obviously, you shouldn’t let them.  But if you even get the feeling that someone is a little off, it’s your responsibility to not take them to the bedroom.  Not because you might go to jail.  Statistically speaking, you probably wouldn’t go to jail if you raped a stone-cold sober person.  We don’t take intoxicated people to the bedroom because to do so would be taking advantage of a fellow human being, which is fundamentally damaging to the self.

Granted, you might be going to bed with someone who is plastered drunk, but also your spouse of some years.  In that case, assumed consent is a safer bet.  This ties in to the next problem with getting verbal consent.  Do you know them well enough that you trust their consent?  While you may feel like you know, it’s impossible to tell for certain.  You can have more faith in a person’s verbal consent based on your experiences with them.

This is a big reason I really fail to have try to never have sex on the first date.  When I’m first meeting someone, it’s hard for me to understand them well enough to know they really want me.  This is a very unfortunate symptom of living in a world where women are cultured to not say no.  Plenty of girls are pressured from a young age to be people pleasers first.  People pleasers have a very hard time saying no.  For a lot of them, they imagine saying yes to something they don’t want is easier than refusing it.

Our world has become a hot mess because we’ve created a culture where women are commonly the gatekeepers of sex, and rarely the initiators.  This monkeywrenches the gears because the people who most often start the action are most often the worst judges of it.  This is like letting the Indy 500 get started by one of the race car drivers…chosen at random, wearing a blindfold, and using a gun loaded with live ammunition.  So guys, we’ve got to tread carefully.

Personally, I feel the Huffington Post got it wrong.  Not as wrong as the Bro Bible, but here’s a real answer to the question.

How to tell if a woman wants to have sex with you: You can never be 100% sure.  Tough luck, dudes.

Obviously, ask first.  Ask early.  Ask often.  But whenever things are getting physical, you’re rolling the dice.  You’re putting a lot of yours on the table, including your reputation as a man who respects women.  Your putting a lot of hers on the table when you roll the dice too.  Don’t get me wrong, the prize is worth the gamble…as long as the odds are good.

Good odds come from things like getting enthusiastic verbal consent.  Good odds come from things like getting enthusiastic verbal consent two or three times.  Good odds come from a partner you trust, and one who trusts you too.  Good odds come from things like safewords, and sobriety, and ignoring the advice of people who tell you consent comes solely from anything…including affirmation.

A Guy’s Guide to Poly Meetups

I’ve got more guys that want to join a polyamory meetup than I can shake a Tristan Taormino book at.

It makes sense.

The average poly meetup group has a number of intelligent, confident, sex-positive women who are attractive and capable enough to have multiple partners.  And the women of this group are most likely available to boot.

Naturally, we have ten new male applicants for every one female that wants to join.  Unfortunately, we lose ten members for every one male member who has misguided intentions.  Because we’re a community struggling to have the organized numbers to be taken seriously, we really can’t afford to be losing our constituency.

Whenever people leave the group, I always try to touch base about their reasons.  Like clockwork, the most common reason is that a male member did/said something that made them so uncomfortable that the meetup group was forever tainted.  This is always unfortunate to hear, because your local poly community is a great avenue to mingle with peers who share your philosophy about romance.  Especially when you’re new to polyamory, it’s very beneficial to have people who remind you that you can be polyamorous and normal.

If you identify as a male, though, please be sensitive to many polyamorists hesitations.  Even if it’s not your intention, you might end up spoiling somebody’s good time…

Before I get assaulted with comments containing #notallmen, let me just say that #enoughmen are guilty or unconsciously guilty of doing this.  So as a benefit to anybody who wants to join their local poly meetup, or wants to improve on their behavior in the poly meetup they’ve already joined, I’ve decided to write a bit about the dos and don’ts of poly meetups.  I’ve polled my male and female peers in the group for which I organize and arranged some guidelines.  Given that I’m a guy’s guy, I would like to offer:

_________________________________________________________________________

A Guy’s Guide to Being in a Poly Meetup

Before I dive into the meat and potatoes for male-identified members of any poly meetup group, I would just like to drive home two key points:

  1. Poly Meetups ≠ Meat Markets-
    Lots of people inaccurately assume a polyamory meetup is a swinger group.  They’re wrong.  Don’t treat the group like they’re right. If you are looking for ass, there are avenues for that.  If you’re already a member of meetup.com, join one of the swingers groups.  Sign up for OkCupid, get Tinder, troll fetlife.  Hell, even craigslist is a better and healthier option for casual encounters.
  2. Err Conservatively-
    When you’re getting to know someone new at a poly meetup, it’s real hard to move too slow.  But it’s real easy to move too fast.  If you’re not entirely sure about how to act, treat the people at your poly meetup like your partner’s parents.  Be on your best, most respectful behavior.

The following insights are all drawn from the same thread as the above.  That being said, let’s start with finding your group!

Joining
Finding the right group can be tough, but you only have to do it once.  Meetup is your best bet, though Google can always point you in the right direction.  If you’re already friends with polyamorists, ask them if they are members of any groups.  If they’re not, maybe y’all could start a local poly meetup!

  1. Profile Picture
    Use a PG rated picture of yourself dressed like a sane human being.  While that headless selfie of you wearing only your dog tags may be loved by 3 people on fetlife, that same photo may dissuade people from joining when they see the thumbnail in the current members.  Also, don’t avoid having a profile picture.  The factory-standard picture they put on guys’ profiles with no picture can be intimidating.  If you don’t want your face in your profile picture, just use a photo of your favorite saturday morning cartoon.
  2. Username
    Sure, on AFF, the name ShadOwdragOn is totally legit.  In a poly meetup, however, people don’t want your bedroom persona.  Polyamory meetups are made of real people, so use a real name.  I recommend using the format First-Name Last-Initial, like “Edward A”.  If you don’t want people to know you’re real name, use your middle name, like “James A”.  If you want nothing to connect your profile to your life outside of it, use a fake, but normal sounding name, like “George T”.
  3. Online Behavior
    Don’t message people you haven’t met in real life.  Even if you have met them, it can seem like a touch of stalker if you hit them up after the first time meeting.  If you want to tell someone you liked meeting them, don’t send them a private message.  Post a nice, public greeting on their profile/wall.

Attending Events
Lots of people are used to ignoring poor behavior on the internet.  But when you meet them in person, it’s much harder to let transgressions slide.  If you have any intention of going to an event, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Try to Not Go Stag
    Any given polyamorist should theoretically have multiple partners.  If a guy show’s up with zero partners, it’s tremendously suspect.  It’s an unfortunate level of sexist assumed intent.  If a lady regularly shows up stag, she is often viewed as a champion of singles empowerment.  When a guy shows up stag on the regular, he’s most commonly viewed as tooling for ass.  #notallmen are only looking for ass, but #enoughmen are that it’s a valid concern.
    But, Pilot-Precise!  I don’t have any partners to bring with me to the meetup!
    Be that as it may, you will still need to be sensitive to hesitations of the meetup members.   Your +1 doesn’t need to be a partner.  Ask a friend whose polycurious, ask a friend who’s an ally, ask your mom.  As long as you show up with a lady, you have the feminine stamp of approval and people won’t think that you’re here to leech on the ladies.
  2. Don’t Even Look Like You’re Cruising
    When it’s your first time meeting someone, don’t exchange numbers with them, don’t ask them if they’re looking for anyone new, don’t call them pet names, and you better not try negging a gal.  Similarly, anything you may have heard/seen a pickup artist practice is a bad move.
  3. Befriend Guys Before Girls
    If you don’t talk to any of the guys at a poly meetup, it’s a surefire way to look like you’re cruising for tail.  Like I said before, most of the girls at a poly meetup are available.  But virtually none of the ladies aren’t involved.  If you want to make friends with any of the girls at a poly meetup, get on their partner(s)’ good side first.  Outside of the fact that you’ll have a more complete comprehension of the community, you will also get the chance to meet someone who can empathize with you concerning the struggles of being a polyamorous guy.  You could meet a new friend, maybe even a new poly wingman!
  4. Approach the Hosts
    The event host might be the most important person to befriend.  Outside of the fact that they are putting in the work to help the community socialize, it can be very beneficial to have the favor of a poly meetup’s leadership.  If you get in good with the host, you’ve got someone that knows you at all the events.  If you rub the host the wrong way, you might just get kicked out of the group.  Talk to the hosts, ask if there’s any way you could help set up at the start of the event or clean up at the end of it.
  5. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
    If you really hit it off with a gal, then when she’s leaving you can ask her permission for a handshake.  If she offers you a hug instead, then you can certainly take it!  Please don’t fall prey to the mindset that all women in a polyamory group are always hungry for dick and are just waiting for you to make the first move.  This means don’t get all handsy with the gals at a poly meetup.  Even if you ask permission first, she might be too timid to say no to you at a meetup and will feel pigeonholed, which can be just as bad.
    The most common culprit is soft affections; e.g. shoulder massages, rubbing legs with the person your sitting next to, soft touching in very PG places like the hands.  Just because it seems PG to you, it can make the recipient feel very uncomfortable.  Or it can even make their partner very uncomfortable.  In the latter, we end up losing a guy who is capable of bringing a female partner because of the behavior of a guy who’s so desperate for affection that he can’t keep his hands to himself at a public event with people he just met.
  6. Don’t Hover
    If you want to be part of a conversation, ask if you can join it.  Don’t invite yourself to other peoples’ conversations by just being present and don’t stand around and wait for people to include you.  Just approach an existing conversation and say “Hey, could I mingle with you for a little while?”  It’s very unsettling when somebody wants to be part of a conversation, but won’t add anything to it.  It may just be shyness, but it feels a lot like they’re just around to watch, which can be very creepy.
  7. Don’t Attach
    If you mustered the courage to talk to a gal at the meetup and she seems interested in talking to you, that’s great!  But just because she reciprocates your friendly civility, doesn’t mean she’s your chaperon for the evening.  Invite some other people to come in and talk with the two of you, or just find your way to the other people at the event to talk to.  If you two get along great, try and end things on a high note before you make your rounds and come back to each other.

The driving principle in all of this is a conscious effort to not make the ladies uncomfortable.  In that, I hope this is more than a guide for how to be a good meetup member.  I think this is a good set of guidelines for guys at most social events.  Poly meetups are just one of the places you shouldn’t treat like a meat market.

This is a safe set of guidelines for any event where you don’t want to make women uncomfortable by appearing to potentially be looking for a date.  So please keep these in mind at kink munches, book clubs, your job, weddings, funerals, and brisses.

This is just from the average guy to the average guy, though.  If you’re interested in a vastly more articulate exploration of non-monogamy for men, I recommend Pepomint’s guide from freaksexual.  And if there’s anything you think guys should keep in mind before they join their local poly meetup, please post it in the comments!

Do the Creep

You know the guy.  He didn’t come to the party with anyone.  He might be wearing a fedora, 3 wolf moon t-shirt, and a neckbeard.  He will come up and approach you to talk about things he finds interesting.  You may not be in to Magic: the Gathering or Neal Stephenson as much as he is, but he’s going to discuss it with you.  He’s probably not malicious, but he certainly isn’t stimulating.  And what he lacks in social ability, he makes up for in persistence.

Virtually every gal and a fair selection of gentleman have been approached by the creeper.

Urban Dictionary defines the creeper as:

A weird man one may know or not know and he gives off a strong rapist/molester vibe. His presence just makes a person extremely uncomfortable.

While most guys will have bouts of being the creeper for whatever reason (E.G. Off game, post-breakup, going stag, laundry day, etc…).  There are some who creep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  But how do we, as guys, know whether we are afflicted with creepery or if we are dyed-in-the-wool-creepers?

If you ever find yourself wondering about your creepiness, know this:

You are one.

The most common sentiment in the people I’ve surveyed is that all guys are creepers.  What is perceived as being creepy is really just the raw, unprocessed form of a human male.  The only disparity between creepers and non-creepers is the amount of creep displayed:

“probably about 60% of guys i meet are creepers to some degree” -Female, 27

“The same guy in the same situation acting in identical ways can be a creeper to one woman, but not to another” -Male, 26

“Depending on the receiving end’s perspective, anyone’s actions could be taken as creeping.” -Female, 24

“All men are creepers, it’s just what extent do they show it” -Female, 25

Creeping, much like flatulence, is something all men can suffer from.  But much like flatulence, you need to keep your creeping to a minimum around ladies you want to feel comfortable.

That means winding certain things back.  Firstly, your style.

“Creepers don’t dress well.  If they did, they wouldn’t be creeping.” -Female, 23

We can’t all look like Hugh Jackman.  But most guys can pull a Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Some simple clothes that show you’ve put effort into looking good is all it usually takes.  It’s the first car on the “I understand girls” train.  Most girls will be a little creeped if you try and impress her with your trenchcoat, or video game memorabilia.

You might have an expansive collection of knowledge about video games.  You might know the Konami Code by heart.  But unless a gal seems interested in what you’re saying, you are conversationally creeping.

Whenever you try and spark up a conversation, you risk conversationally creeping.  Fishing and cutting bait is the golden, beholden decision to make when courting a partner.  If they’re not interested in what you’re saying, try what always works.  Things that don’t make you sound too wild, but make you sound wild enough.  Talk about popular movies you liked, talk about popular kids movies you took your nephews to.

If they are giving you obvious signs of disinterest, cut bait before you start talking at someone instead of with someone.

Which ties in to the last rule of creep mitigation: creeping past the point of no return.

You might have done everything right, but you complimented her too much. She may have caught you staring at her bust, even though she bought a low cut top that shows off her personality.  Or you may have just said the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time, and now you’re a creeper.  Unfortunately, it’s outside of common decency to just lay it on the line, like 

“You are really creeping me out and I want to end this conversation.”

Some women have been blessed with the ability to do this, and men thank you for your courage and dedication.  There are many who are too courteous/polte/shy/scared to deliver this message, though.  Unfortunately, we do live in a world where ladies are cultured to not say no.  This means that guys have to pay special attention to a woman who is disinterested.

Ladies, please understand, this is tough.  It’s hard to tell when you’re playing hard to get, when you’re shy and intimidated, when you’re disinterested, or when you’re plain-old not in the mood.

Guys, you need to recognize the very subtle differences between these.  Ask yourself:

  • Does she seem enthusiastic about what you’re trying to do?
  • Does she seem happy in response to whatever your behavior was?

This all reminds me of what my mom told me on the day I graduated high school.  She said:

“If a girl isn’t sure if I guy wants her to, he wants her to.  If a guy isn’t she if a girl wants him to, she doesn’t.”

Girls, there are a few ways to subvert a creeper:

  1. Be straight up with him.
    Tell him he is creeping you out and he needs to leave you alone.  It may not always need this, but it’s better to say it and not need to than need to and not said it.
  2. Evacuate.
    You need to go.  Call your boyfriend, have a smoke, change your tampon.  Go somewhere he isn’t going to follow you if you have that luxury.  If you’re at work or somewhere, tell him you need to check in with your boss about something.
  3. Interception.
    Have friends come help you.  He might be a lot more enjoyable if you’ve got the safety blanket of friends.  If you’ve already got a boyfriend, he could certainly be a very persuasive agent.
Follow Pilot Precise on WordPress.com