When I co-authored the book on polyamory that carries my name, it caught fire—mostly, I think, because it was at the right place at the right time. It was published as polyamory reached a kind of historical inflection point. I’m still quite proud of that book, though I no longer Read more…
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.)
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.
I have oft observed a very strange thing in romantic relationships, and that is good things our partners say to us tend to bounce off as though our self-conception were made of Teflon, whereas bad things have amazing power to stick. If our partner tells us “I think you’re beautiful; I am totally attracted to you,” it is easy to say “well, he doesn’t really mean it,” and not to internalize it. But a partner saying “I don’t think you look good in that dress” sticks tenaciously, and can haunt us for weeks.
Why is that?
There might be a lot of reasons, but I think one of them is the little white lie.
Two nights ago, Eve and I were hosting a book signing event in Bellingham, Washington. We usually do Q&As at these events, and invariably get some really interesting questions. At Bellingham, one of our readers asked us our impressions of the language and jargon that’s grown up around polyamory.