10 Useful Prophylactic Facts

Outside of getting your sperm supply cut off, male birth control is limited to condoms and abstinence.  Thanks to my American public school sex-education course, you can guess which of these two I learned about…

I’m one of millions of men in this country who was vastly unprepared for and culturally dissuaded from using condoms.  And considering that condoms are essentially the most vital tool for safe sex, sexually active people have got to educate themselves more!

When people use them correctly, condoms are 98% effective.  However, If you just know how to put one on right, you’re already ahead of the curve.  But if you’ve got that first lesson in your sex transcripts, here’s a selection of other vital infortmation for your everyday sex life:

10 Things I Never Learned About Condoms in Sex-Ed

  1. Most Condoms are NOT vegan
    Renouncing the consumption of all animals and animal byproducts is no simple feat, especially when people learn that most condoms are not vegan.  The majority of condoms smooth the latex with a milk protein called casein.  If you don’t want the vegan police to come for you, you should invest in some vegan alternatives.  While most non-latex condoms are incidentally vegan, you may need to double check that.  For a list of confirmed vegan options, follow Vegan.com’s recommendations.
  2. You might NOT have a Latex Allergy
    Research shows that less than 1% of the US population is legitimately allergic to latex. Many who have reactions to latex condoms are actually reacting to certain chemicals (like casein) that are often used in their production.  So if you’re afraid of an allergy, get a doctor to confirm that before you rule out a GIANT portion of the condom market.  While you can try testing at home by trying out different latex condoms until your partner goes into anaphylactic shock; this is not a preferred method to determine allergies, regardless of how hot it would be to blast your partner with an epipen mid-coitus.
  3. Lambskin Sex is NOT Safe Sex
    Lambskin condoms do not protect against viral STDs, like HIV and herpes.  While they do protect against children, the cutest of all the sexually transmitted diseases, viruses are tiny enough to get through the pores in lambskin.  So if you only like the feeling of lambskin, you better only be worried about getting children from your partner.
  4. Buy Online to Save
    Just like printer ink, the condom market preys on desperate people who have run out.  But if you purchase before you need, you pay a fraction of the price!  Even if you’re buying the “best value” at your local pharmacy, you’ll pay half that amount if you order online.  I order in bulks of 100-count packages where I can easily find options that cost $0.05 USD per condom.   While 100 condoms may seem like a lot, condoms are generally good for 5 years (2 years if they have spermicidal lubricant).  Step your safe sex game up and buy for a year of fucking, not just a night.
  5. American Condoms are Rare
    More than 5 billion condoms worldwide are sold every year, according to Michael S. Zedalis, senior vice president in charge of science and technology for condom-maker Ansell Limited.  Of all the brands on the market, the only American company who makes American condoms is Trojan.  Continued support of the American economy means buying American condoms for all your banging needs.
  6. Condom Climate is Important
    Keeping condoms in your wallet or your car is sure useful in a pinch.  But for maximum longevity, condoms need to be kept in a cool, dry place.  The regular frictions put on the average wallet by the average man can deteriorate the condom or puncture the packaging, causing failures.  Keeping them in your car’s glove box can have a similar effect on the condoms.  Excluding the frictions of the glove box, condoms should never be stored anywhere it’s over 100 degrees or cooler than 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  I keep my condoms in an empty Altoids tin in my breast pocket.  It doesn’t get too warm there, not too much turbulence, and I’ve got the room for 4 condoms and a packet of lube!
  7. Flavored Condoms are Probably ONLY for the Mouth
    The same is true for flavored lubricants.  It would be neat if they said this ANYWHERE on the package, but they generally don’t mention that the sugars that make these taste so good also put women at a higher risk for infections like a yeast infection.  While we’re on the subject of women-friendly condoms, spermicidal lubricants also cause irritation which can cause UTIs in women.
  8. Size Matters…kinda
    Here’s a chart for condoms and their sizes.  Unstretched, the smallest “snugger fit” has 58% of the volume that you’ll find in the biggest condom on the market.  That being said, anybody who has ever stuffed their whole head in a condom will tell you that condoms are plenty flexible!  Most “large sized” condoms are the same size as the regular-sized option, but cost 33% more.  Let it never be said that men don’t fall prey to vanity sizing.
  9. Condoms are Especially Important for Buttsex
    While it’s a surefire way to avoid pregnancy.  Just because you’re thinking outside the box, doesn’t mean you’re playing it safe.  Clinical studies show that unprotected anal sex has over twice the HIV risk of its vaginal counterpart.
  10. Condoms Have Tons of Uses
    Even if you’ve decided you’d rather not have sex than do it with a condom on, it’s still beneficial to keep a few in the house!  If you need to waterproof anything or just need a quick bit of latex for tying off something, condoms are good for lots of stuff other than fucking.  And if you have them on hand for those occasions, you won’t be caught unawares if you ever need them for their intended purpose…

I’m always a little shaken by how little people know about condoms.  Often enough, all people know about condoms are the problems they have with them.  If I could address some of those greivances:

  • I can’t feel anything with the condom on
    You lucky duck.  Here I am thinking about baseball and counting prime numbers to stop myself from finishing too fast, and all you have to do is make a prudent decision about the health of yourself and your partner.  Pressuring partners into having unprotected sex with this line is disturbingly common.
    I understand why.  It’s a much more acceptable way of saying “I want to put us both at risk for some reason, and I’m going to bait you into agreeing with me by calling into question your desire for approval.”
    Bad form.
  • The condom is too tight, it cuts off circulation
    I hope your partner isn’t too tight, then!  For real though, try out all the different options on this chart before you decide that no condom in the world has enough room for your enormous pecker.  If you’ve used every single one to no avail, then maybe invest in some female condoms.
  • It takes too long to put it on
    If several seconds is a sizable portion of the time you’re spending making love, you have bigger problems than condom use.  If you feel like putting on a condom interrupts the flow of your session, there are plenty of sexy ways to get the condom on.  Just like taking time in foreplay to get your partner ready, you shouldn’t have a problem with the time it takes to get yourself ready.

That’s just some stuff that I really wish someone had taught me back in the day when I had “sex ed”.  Is there anything you wish you got taught about safe sex when you were in sex ed?  Any important pieces of information about prophylactics I could add to the list?  Feel free to drop those comments in the comments!

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!

What’s in a Number?

I find numbers very sexy.  This has led me to two behaviors with OkCupid.  One -fairly innocuous- idea is that I find people with a higher match percentage more attractive.  The other -kinda peculiar- urge I have is to keep a record of my match percentages with people I meet from the website.

Yeah, it’s weird, but I started doing it when I was unemployed and needed something to fill my days.

This is why we need to build a better economy, it’ll prevent guys like me from having the time to build spreadsheets about weird shit.  If you think I’m bad, you should read some of the studies they do at OkTrends

Anyway…over time, I’ve collected a sample size of 35 percentages.  These are the match percentages of people I’ve met on OkC and with whom I’ve had relations.  I tried to be good about recording these.  Given that 35 is a nearly complete fair size to draw conclusions about my preferences with online dating, here’s what I’ve found with OkCupid dates:

  1. Average Percentage Match: 89%
  2. Median Match: 93%
  3. Highest Match: 99%
  4. Lowest Match: 63%

What can I draw from this data?  Firstly, I can see that a low percentage match will not automatically disqualify a connection.  63% is low.  Like…catfish profile low.  But even then, there’s hope.  So if you ever see someone that seems like your type, but may not have the numbers to push you all the way to send that message, maybe send it anyway!

Outside of that, it tells me that I generally end up in the bedroom with people in or around the 90% match range.

Makes sense.  When I’m browsing profiles and see a high percent match; it’s just as sexy as seeing a photo of them at the beach, a number of different languages spoken, or listing Digimon as one of their favorite shows.  But this provokes a whole different series of questions about whether or not we would have slept together if we didn’t have such a high match.

Did we sleep together because we were a good match or did we sleep together because we had a high match?

OkCupid programmers actually lied to their users one time in an effort to test the persuasive ability of the algorithm.  It’s a very interesting study in consumption of statistics and also involuntary experimentation if you want to read that here.  The final numbers on their study were as such:

OkCupid-experiment

The end results of this experiment did confirm my suspicions, but not by that much.  Was I being swayed by a big, strong, match percent? Maybe…Marginally, at most.

While that study yielded results based on comparing their real algorithm to a fake algorithm, I wanted a more comprehensive comparative sample.  I collected the data from people that I have found on OkCupid after we’d already met somewhere else.

Maybe we met at a party, on tinder, or in line at the Planned Parenthood and had a liaisons before they showed up in my Quickmatch later on and I scribbled down our numbers.  Obviously this sample size is smaller (20 entries), but as a tool for comparison, that’s a substantial value.  This is a real test of the OkCupid algorithm:

How do OkCupid matches compare to real life matches?

If we met on OkCupid…

If we met outside Okcupid…

Average Match

89%

88%

Median Match

93%

94%

High Match %

99%

99%

Low Match %

63%

37%

 

These numbers barely have a deviation.  It’s almost a little disturbing…

To be extra sciency, I had my most skillful statistician buddy run the two sets of data through a T-Test Calculator which yielded a p-value of .844416.  After I had him explain to me what that meant, I learned that OkCupid matches are the same percent as my existing romantic life 84% of the time.

84 whole percents? That’s nothing to scoff at.  OkCupid gets a B- at my dating life!  Or as my aforementioned stat-nerd-bro puts it, “It means their algorithm really is quite good”.

While the OkCupid study was able to illustrate how fake their numbers can be, I think my data indicates just how real things can be.  While this study is based on a limited sample size (35 Okc dates Vs. 20 IRL dates), I believe this to be a representative sample of my dating life as a whole.

The one outlier comes from the significantly lower lowest I found in my non-OkC dates.  At nearly half the percentage match of my lowest OkC, my lowest matches from real life might have come from a time when I didn’t have a computer program to tell me it was a bad idea.

Higher match percentage may not always make an online date more attractive, but a very low match percentage is apparently a bigger deal for electronic affections.

The study needs more data.  If you’d like to help, feel free to come over and sleep with me, then we can share match percentages and I could add them to my spreadsheet.  All my grant requests have been denied for me to conduct this study, however.  If you would like to take part, you’ll have to test pro-bono

Anyway…Do you keep track of your percentages?  How do you think your results vary?  Have you found the OkC algorithm to be a fair decider for a good match?  Post 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!

Swing Your Partner Round and Round

notactuallythat_LargeI’m such a good wingman.  If my bros don’t hook up by night’s end, I’ll bang them myself.  While my friends may not always take me up on that offer, my partners often do.  I play matchmaker for my partners if they like.  And I like it too.  I think doing so reinforces the structure of my polyamorous relationships.

Polyamory takes more than just tolerance of your partner having other liasons.  Polyamory is about appreciating the other connections your partner is building.  I like to take it the step further and enable those connections when I can.  There is value in helping your partner find other partners.

Outside of the fact that I want my partner to have someone good to them, it’s great having a metamour who’s good to me.  Especially for those of us who are still feeling out polyamory, having a more personal stake in your partner’s romantic decisions can help ease folks away from conventional dating.  And dating is work, but one of the nice things about polyamory is that you get to share the load.

One of my favorite ways to spend a night in with a partner is to sit around drinking wine and reviewing each others’ potential dates.  We’ll go through a few rounds of swiping left and right where we giggle and tease like the immature bisexuals we’re too old to be anymore.  From there, we get the chance to scoop through who each of us is talking to.  This gives us an opportunity to air our excitements and also our hesitations.  So if I see someone who lists an interest in motorcycles, then my partner can get a date and I might get a new riding buddy!  Similarly, I might see someone I know that I would not like to become metamours with and let my partner know about that right away.

I’ve always been of the mind that metamour relations are one of the truest determining factors in the success of any polyamorous engagement.  While your partner might have a decent idea of the kind of metamour you would like to have, you know better than they do.  So just like mixing cocktails or performing oral sex, it’s worthwhile to let your partner know what you like.

Awareness of your partner(s)’ romantic preferences is integral in polyamorous dating.  This is one of the harder parts for people to adopt when they are just getting started with nonmonogamy.  Plenty of couples just decide to date people together.  Most commonly, this is a straight couple who start looking for a bisexual woman to be their third.  While this practice is met with grand disapproval from many polyamorists, branching out of monogamy together is a fine idea.  I just strongly encourage people to ease back on how together you are when you’re branching out.

When I was first breaking into this whole polyamory thing, I found it much easier to have metamours that I helped to arrange.  It was very beneficial for all the emotions that came along with my partner having other partners.  When I would hear about the hard times my partner had with a metamour I had a hand in arranging, I wasn’t so quick to dismiss their quality as a partner.  When my partner is out with some yahoo she met on OkC named “4ngry1nches” and she tells me that the dates are anything but a pristine joy, there’s a real good chance I’ll encourage her to cut bait.  But if she tells me that she’s having a hard time communicating with the cute programmer that I encouraged her to swipe right, I’ll give her some stratagems to keep his attention.  After all, I’m practically responsible for that.

Opposite bad dates, when my partner is gushing about their newest fling with the most impossibly handsome, charming, wealthy adonis of a man; I may start to feel a bit insecure.  I might feel insubstantial, jealous, even threatened.  However, if I helped my partner arrange this date, my ego will take over and I’ll be flushed with pride.  It’s like when you give someone advice on what to get their spouse for their anniversary, and they get the perfect gift.  You don’t get to give or receive the booty, but you can still relish knowing you’re responsible for the assist.

Assistance is key, by the way.  Dating yields good results when it’s fed good labor.  The best way to get good labor, is sometimes to just get a little more labor.  Many hands make work light, so cruise around OkCupid or Tinder with your partner together.  Help your partner write a good Boiler Plate message that they can send to profiles they really like.  The two of you can even just sit down over dinner and talk about some people the two of you might know who would be worth asking out.  One of you two could even play messenger.

I’ve never asked anybody out on behalf of my partner before, but I have been asked out by a lady’s boyfriend in the past.  In no way did it cheapen or invalidate the proposal.  I actually found myself cozied with an extra sense of security.  I could immediately bypass the worries that this was old-school polyamory noncensensual nonmonogamy.  And I was flattered to be considered such a solid choice that her man made the approach.  As long as you have your partner’s consent, you can certainly take the initiative if they’re too shy.

You can’t date half a couple.  Similarly, you can’t date a full couple.  That sweet spot in between is where polyamorous dating can flourish.  Finding partners outside a polyamorous relationship has so many dimensions because there are relationships being created between all involved parties.  Every relationship that’s created, be it romantic, social, or at least just civil; is independent and unique and worth care and consideration.

What works for you, though?  Have you ever helped a partner get a date?  Have you ever been assisted? What works with that?  What hasn’t worked?  Be a wingman for my blog and post in the comments!

Easing him in

I used to be a juggalo.

There.  I said it.

It’s easy to understand how I transitioned out of that lifestyle…

I also used to be a diehard monogamist.  This was a little more precarious of a lifestyle to vacate.  Thankfully, I had a partner who held my hand step-by-baby-step unto the exotic lands of nonmonogamy.  Seven years later, now we giggle about the way we used to be.

Polyamory was her idea.  It’s a common misconception that all polyamorous couples are the result of a man who can’t commit to monogamy and an ineffectual woman not holding him to ‘real’ relationship standards.  In my experience, there are just as many women looking to steer their relationship to a non-exclusive path as there are men.  While the lady may be ready to embrace this progressive, new-age relationship style that she’s read all about at Jezebel, her guy might be unexposed and hesitant to dive right in.

Polyamory can be like playing Skyrim.  If someone has never played an Elder Scrolls game, it can be confusing and intimidating; full of strange rules and vocabulary.  The learning curve is so steep, that some guys just go back to playing Candy Crush before they learn their first Dragonshout.

I would have snapped right back to Candy Crush monogamy if my lady didn’t offer me a few hands to ease me into the ethical slut I am today.

So if you are a lady looking to pop your guy’s poly cherry, here are a few things you can do to break him in smoothly:

Baby Steps

When you’re approaching a dramatically different kind of relationship, it’s hard to go too slow.  It’s real easy to go too fast, though.  If polyamory is more your idea than his, you may need to move more his pace than your own.  You may even need to employ some Poly Training Wheels until your guy can pedal on his own.

Poly Training Wheels are addendums to your relationship that make the steps into conventional polyamory that much easier.  While they are certainly useful in acclimating neophytes to polyamory, these are not long term practices.  If these addendums are seen in a relationship that’s been poly for more than a year or so, many seasoned polyamorists will scoff like they just saw a grown-ass man riding a bike with training wheels or eating a hot dog with ketchup.  Poly Training Wheels include the like of:

  1. The One Penis Policy
    Also known as The Highlander Penis.  This is where the guy is allowed to have heterosexual relations outside his lady, but the gal is only allowed to date other girls.  Overlooking the glaring homophobia and misogyny that’s spilling out of this policy, it’s not without its use.  First time polyamorists often fall prey to the question “What does my metamour have that I don’t?” and all of the insecurities that are tied to it.  When the differences between a man and his partner’s partner are made out of chromosomes, it’s easy to stem those insecurities.  When I was just starting, we never had an official One Penis Policy.  But my partner was bisexual and was only finding women who she was interested in.  Later on, when she started seeing more men, my reactions were tempered by my previous experience of seeing her with women.
  2. Package Deal
    This is where couples see someone new, just not separately.  While there is the much hated stereotype of the Unicorn Hunting couple, as a temporary arrangement to get a guy used to the idea of his partner with other people; it could be beneficial for both partners to be present for any new romance.  It might even be a good chance for the guy to explore some of his non-heterosexual tendencies in a safe space!
  3. Do What You Know
    Some polyamorists have a rule to not get involved with their partner’s friends.  For many beginners, though, it helps to have a rule that you only date each others’ friends.  Even though you risk compromising your social circles to do it, it can be helpful for a guy to know that his lady is just out with Kyle, his drummer from the band.  Insecurities can run rampant when a poly newbie thinks about his partner out with a strange man of mysterious intentions.  This all ties into the old adage about the evil you know.
    While this kind of familiarity can certainly be comfortable for dating, it can be tremendously uncomfortable and awkward for breaking up.  Given the turnover rate on your average relationships, consider the possibility post breakup fallout in your social circle.  You may even want to consider getting involved with one of your partner’s acquaintances instead of friends…
  4. Veto Powers
    This is where any outside relationships are conditional upon mutual approval.  If there comes a time when either of you disapproves of an extraneous relationship, the relationship may be vetoed and the rejection must be accepted.  I put “Veto Powers” as a Training Wheel, but I feel like plenty of veteran poly couples practice de-facto veto powers.  My partners and I don’t have veto powers because I know that if they don’t like any new dates I have, I quickly lose interest.  And vise-versa with their partners.
  5. The Panic Button
    When I first got started in polyamory, I hit a few snags.  Whenever I would talk to my lady about it, she would lay monogamy back on the table for me.  Just the act of her saying that put me so much at ease!  If monogamy is still an option for the two of you, it can be very gratifying to hear that option confirmed.  The option is malleable too.  If things are getting tough, you could have some temporary exclusivity, or put them on an indefinite hiatus until the two of you are in a good place again.

Building Blocks

As things progress, you’ll hopefully outgrow training wheels as you grow into a really developed polyamorous couple.  But not all fundamentals are ablative.  Some useful building blocks will help your guy adjust from the start until the two of you are hosting key parties at the retirement home.  Useful building blocks include:

  1. Check Ups
    This is a valuable skill for monogamous and polyamorous couples, but it’s got special weight for a guy shifting away from monogamy.  Obviously, it can be unsettling to be hitting your guy up every day to assess his levels of satisfaction concerning your intimated fraternization.  But it can be beneficial for both of you to chat about how you feel about the relationship over dinner or drinks once a week or so.  Maybe you can even convince him to start writing a blog about polyamory and name it after his favorite kind of pen…
  2. Body Rights
    These take all forms:  No anal sex outside of him.  No cowgirl riding on anyone else.  No twerking if he’s not on the dance floor.  While these are heavily employed in the kink community, lighter versions of them can make any relationship more intimate.  Just because polyamorists deny overarching exclusion, doesn’t mean we’ve boycotted all kinds of exclusion.  The most common form of body rights I see extended is the practice of fluid bonding, which is having exclusive unprotected sex with a chosen partner.
  3. Relationship Hierarchy
    Plenty of poly couples use terms like “primary” and “secondary” to explain the levels of commitment they have to the various partners in their life.  While stratifying the people in your heart can certainly be problematic, it can also diffuse many problems.  Not all polyamorists use these terms, but most usually end up giving a special preference to a single partner who takes no title.  The title of “primary” is an honorific with terms that you can leave undefined if you really want.  Calling somebody your “primary” carries a level of security in the stratification.
  4. Schedule Rights
    I can’t imagine a world of functioning polyamorists without Google Calendar.  If you are ready to take your relationship to that level, sharing your calendar with someone else is a good way to keep them abreast of your life outside of them.  If you want to step up the commitment, have one night every week that is dedicated to being spent together.  Every Wednesday is dedicated to one of my partners in my G-Calendar as “Hump Day“.  If you’re just getting started, it can be helpful to set defined limits on the amount of time you dedicate to other partners.  You could talk about something like limiting the number of outside dates you both have to 2 per week.

This is just what worked for me.  If you’ve had success with any other methods, please post them in the comments!

Most people’s first experience with polyamory will usually determine whether they retreat forever back to monogamy or if they want to make nonmonogamy a part of their lives for good.  When I was being brought into the poly-fold, I was brought in just right.  Horrific as it may sound, I’d probably go back to being a juggalo before I tried monogamy again.

The Trouble with Triads

I just got a question posted on my Ask.fm:

Hey, dude. I was a unicorn once in college, and while I’m pretty wary of that particular poly formation, I just started dating a married couple I know and I really, really like them. What are some of the pitfalls we should be aware of, and how can we avoid them?

There are few members of the non-monogamous community viewed with as much enmity as unicorn hunters.  Many polyamorists imagine these couples struggling to stay above water in their failing relationship by snatching up hapless bisexuals to try and use as a flotation device.  Unicorn hunters are thought to be lurking in the shadows of the polyamory community, polishing their Feeldoes and targeting every cute bisexual girl to for them to ‘complete’ their ‘family’.

While I don’t find that caricature painfully inaccurate, it certainly doesn’t describe every couple looking for a third.  If you are the elusive unicorn, there’s a chance you may find a couple that rubs you just the right way.  While definitely not common, there are a handful of couples I’ve seen who incorporate a third without falling into the negative stereotype of the unicorn hunters.

Truth be known, I have safaried a few times hunting this slippery prey.  There are a handful of roadblocks that I’ve always encountered.  Speaking with my friends who have also tried being the unicorn, we’ve collaborated on this list of potential red flags:

  1. Don’t be a Band-aid
    Sometimes, a couple’s romance fails and the only real answer is a new relationship.  Unfortunately, many couples don’t break up before they pursue this new relationship.  Commonly, they end up cheating on each other and the relationship blows up in a storm of burned bridges and Gotye songs.  Less commonly though, the couple will attempt to have a new relationship to supplement their failed one by persuing a girl together.  They end up dating a third which just delays their inevitable split.
    Even if you wanted to, you won’t fix their relationship by joining it.  So before you sign up for a triad, make sure it’s a working dyad.  Ask yourself how well the two of them get along?  Do they have healthy communication?  Regular dates?  Good chemistry?  You wouldn’t want to date a person who is inherently unhappy, so beware of dating couples who are inherently unhappy.
  2. Don’t be a Sex Toy
    Unless that’s what you want.  If so, stop reading.  Start banging.
    If not, be wary of couples who will make your place in their life primarily as a supplement to their sexual escapades.  Many couples are just looking to spice up their bedroom antics.  So even if you feel like you’re building a meaningful connection with both of them, they might view you solely as an accent to their relationship instead of an integral part of a bigger three.
    Like any relationship, it never hurts to vocalize your limits from the start.  Let them know that you want more than a part in their sex life.
  3. Don’t be their First
    Because this relationship configuration is wildly different from conventional dating, everyone might as well be a teenagers going on their first dates again.  First timers are going to make a lot of mistakes.  So be ready for some failure if it’s anybody’s first time.  Or better yet, let them make their beginner hiccups with someone else.
  4. Have Separate Relationships
    I know I’ve said “dating a couple” several times in this article, but you are still separately dating two people.  Each of them is separately dating two people too.  The unit of all three of you is incidental to the three separate relationships that already exist.  Trying to do everything in threes is complicated and unnecessary.
    In these three separate relationships that exist in your triad, you should have individual dates, individual arguments, and individual expectations.  Let these connections mature independently of each other.  Theoretically, if one of the relationships in the triad ends civilly enough, the other two should be able to carry on just fine.
  5. Clarify Polify
    Just like dolphins are technically mammals, but morally fish.  Polyfidelity is technically polyamory, but morally monogamy.  Check and see what their thinking for their future.  Unless they are Mormons, there’s only one way to know they really want polyfi- you gotta ask.
    Many unicorn hunters plan long-game exclusivity.  If you’re not interested in that, fess up early before they start planning.
  6. Clarify Everything Else too
    It doesn’t need to be cast in adamantium.  But sharing your long term goals will spare everyone a lot of heartache down the road.  Find out how long they want this triad to last; do they want it just until they move to Portland, or are they in it till death do us and you part?  Is anyone having kids?  If so, how many?  Where’s everyone living?  What do we do on holidays?  Are we out to our families?  Friends? Facebooks?
    Marriage plans?  Going to begin fighting for group marriage legalization?  In the state of Illinois, you’re technically allowed to have a civil union as long as your unmarried, but you can be married if you have a previous civil union.  So maybe arrange something with these laws?
    Discuss these early and everyone will hopefully remain flexible.  A relationship between two people changes constantly, a relationship with three is certainly bound to change as much, if not exponentially more.
  7. No Man’s Land
    My mother once gave me an entirely sexist, but still quite accurate bit of advice that I’ve kept for dealing with metamours:
    Men are more possessive.  Women are more territorial.
    That being said, 90 percent of the working triads I have ever encountered are two men, one woman.  The FMF traids that fail commonly do so when it comes time to decide the ownership of space, not emotions.  So be respectful of the existing woman’s territory, be it in the home or the schedule.
  8. Abandon Equality
    There are three separate relationships.  So just like any polyamorous engagement, don’t go comparing and don’t let yourself be compared.  You will all like each other with different and varying levels of intensity.  Be careful of one of them trying to force equal intimacy by pushing for you to be closer with their partner.  This is especially dangerous for unicorns.
    Because unicorns are in such high demand, couples might compromise a lot just to make it work.  If a couple finds one to start a relationship, even if the new girl isn’t a really good match for both people, they’ll ignore that to achieve an ideal.

That last warning is where I get drawn back to my severe hesitations about triads.  Like I said before, I’ve had triads in the past that have lasted well over a year.  They can work and be a lot of fun.  You really have to look at things realistically, though.

It’s real tough to find one person with whom you can spend the rest of your life.  If you can find two, you’ve struck gold.  Finding two partners who you love who also love each other is astronomically improbable.  But just because the odds aren’t in your favor, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Also, get a big bed.  Queen at least.

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!

The Elusive Pegasus

Reddit, a website where slightly intelligent people sometimes go, is where I met my most recent date.  A guy and a girl who wanted to bring another man into the fray.  Their ad said they were looking for the usuals (DP, bukkake, exhibitionist humiliation, etc…).

Naturally, I was happy to oblige them with a message.

We exchange for a few days and they agree to meet up with me for brunch.

Over some mimosas and french toast, we discuss the basics.  The who/what/where/when/which-holes of it all.  After that’s all been arranged, out of sheer egotistical curiosity, I want to know about who else they’ve screened as a potential third.  They told me I was the top-rated individual.  Flattering though it may be, being the most impressive sample from internet dating is not necessarily as impressive as they might be looking for.

I bring up the idea of coming to one of the poly events, trying to find a guy there, maybe even a girl.

Then the guy says something:
“It’s easy to find girls who want to be in a threesome.”

That struck me, because he was essentially telling me that one of the most definitively popular male fantasies was not particularly difficult to achieve.

He went on:
“It’s much more difficult to find a guy who wants to be a part of your threesome.”

In my experience, this has definitely been the case.  I had never thought about it before, though.

Perhaps one of the most teased tropes in the world of polyamory is the conventional couple looking to add another girl to the relationship.  These couples are commonly referred to as Unicorn Hunters because a single, stable, bisexual woman who’s willing to get involved in a pre-existing relationship is thought to be as likely as a mythical creature.

On the much more rare side of that is the couple looking to bring in another man into the relationship.  They want a comfortable, non-threatening, possibly bisexual gentleman.  These couples are sometimes known as Pegasus Hunters.  And depending on who you talk to, a pegasus is harder to find than a unicorn.

I am inclined to agree with that sentiment, based on how little our society does to foster the bisexual agenda.  They do even less to foster the bisexual men’s agenda.  Specifically, I’m thinking of the following factors:

  1. No-Homo Syndrome
    A girl can kiss other girls at a bar to attract the attention of men (Read: Barsexuals), and this is thought of as wild and playful.  A dude can’t go out to the club and start necking his bros to get ladies interested.  It’s hard to hit 2 or 3 on the Kinsey Scale when there’s no incentive to hit 1.
  2. Fence-rider-phobia
    Many bisexuals face discrimination the conservative right, who lump them in with Gays, Trans people, and anybody who orders a Mojito.  But they also get discrimination from both sides, as there are plenty of people in the gay community who dismiss bisexuals as being confused, desperate  or just in a phase.  Many bisexuals women find solace in the poly community where there are plenty of unicorn hunters to make them feel accepted.  That is not necessarily the case with bisexual men.
  3. No P2P sharing
    Guys are generally cultured to be more possessive in a relationship.  Bringing another girl into the relationship can be thought of as a treat for both parties.  Bringing another guy into the relationship means that men have to share and women have to be shared to make it work. Definitely not impossible, but certainly against the social grain.

Thankfully, I found a couple open to the idea.  We’ll see how they pan out and with their blessing, I’ll share all the juicy, double-penetrated details!

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