First, do no harm: Some thoughts on rules as a safety mechanism

Primum non nocere. It’s a Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.” It’s not part of the Hippocratic Oath, but it is a central tenet of bioethics in most of the world.

It also, I think, makes a pretty good tenet for relationship ethics as well.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Dan Savage’s personal assistant, asking if I was interested in helping craft a response to a person who’d written in to Mr. Savage with a poly problem.

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Awkwardness as the Price of Admission to Being Human

Nearly all relationship advice of any sort, for any kind of relationship, can be dismissed with just one sentence: “But that would be awkward!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard those words. Suffice it to say that if I had a dime for every time, I’d be quite a lot wealthier than I am right now.

“Talk about STI testing before we have sex? But that would be awkward!” “Meet my partner’s other partner? But that would be awkward!” “Talk to my partner about how I’m feeling? But that would be awkward!” “Experiment and try new things in bed? But that would be awkward!” “Talk openly about sexual boundaries? But that would be awkward!” “Talk about my sexual fantasies? But that would be awkward!” “Ask before kissing someone? But that would be awkward!” (That last one, in fact, deserves a blog post of its own.)

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Can polyamorous hierarchies be ethical? Part 2: Influence and control

This is part two of a three-part series inspired by the question Can a hierarchy ever be ethical in polyamory? As I said in part 1, I have come to the conclusion that this is the wrong question to ask. To get to the right questions, we need to drill down deeper. Part 1 talked about how we define hierarchy, and how hierarchies reflect power dynamics within relationships. In this instalment, we’re going to look closer at some of those power dynamics.

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Can polyamorous hierarchies be ethical? Part 1: The tower and the village

Awhile back, Tikva Wolf, creator of the excellent webcomic Kimchi Cuddles, posted a query on her Facebook page: Can hierarchical relationships ever be ethical? I’ve been chewing on a response to that question for some time, because the answer is not simple. I mean, we spend probably a solid 50 pages in More Than Two trying to tease apart how to make relationship agreements ethical—and we still don’t really answer that question. I finally realized, that’s because it’s the wrong question. If we’re concerned about treating our partners ethically, then the right questions are not Can a hierarchy be ethical? or Is this a hierarchy?

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On the path to a new book

Eve and I are back in the woods again, in the same cabin where we wrote More Than Two, working on a new book.

The new book is not about polyamory. It’s called Love More, Be Awesome, and it’s our take on a kind of user’s guide for being a human being: tips and ideas for being awesome and living a life of compassion and kindness.

Part of the reason More Than Two turned out like it did is this place. It’s incredibly remote; we’re miles from the nearest convenience store and a half-hour drive to the closest town. All around us, as far as the eye can see, is temperate rainforest.

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Some thoughts on finding love

Someone recently asked the question, “What is the difference between a person who finds love easily and a person who finds it difficult to make loving connections?”

This is a question I think I can offer some insight on (at least for people who share most of my privileges), because in my own life I have gone from a person who found love impossible to a person who finds opportunities for love and connection all around me. During that transition, I learned that many of the things I assumed about folks who find love easily—that they’re rich, that they’re handsome, that they’re famous—aren’t true.

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