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.

From here to there: Developing a mindset of abundance

I am blessed today with a life that is extraordinarily filled with love and connection. I find it easy to connect with people and to find love, warmth, and intimacy, and that has let me create a rich, joyful personal life in which I feel cherished and supported.

In the book More Than Two, Eve and I talk about the abundance model and the scarcity model of love.

Back in the cabin again!

I’m typing this blog post in front of a huge picture window overlooking a temperate rainforest in rural Washington state, which means I’m back at the cabin where Eve Rickert and I wrote our polyamory book More Than Two. The cabin kitty, Whiskers, has been happy to see us, and has scarcely stopped begging for treats since we got here.

This time, I’m here to write my memoir, The Game Changer, about my relationship with my partner Shelly and the many and varied ways it changed my life.

#WLAMF no. 30: Building up, not tearing down

There’s a common theme to the problem-solving approach we see in many poly relationships: bringing things down to the same level instead of building things up to the same level.

For example, when a new relationship starts, it often comes bundled with a lot of crazy sexual energy. This sexual passion can be intimidating for someone in an existing relationship, and often, people try to deal with feeling intimidated by trying to put dampers on the new relationship. Don’t have sex in that position! Don’t have so much sex! Only have sex when I am watching, even if you aren’t an exhibitionist! Don’t have sex unless you include me, even if you aren’t into group sex!

#WLAMF no. 23: Relationship rights

Way back in 2003, I proposed a “secondary’s bill of rights” for polyamorous relationships. This Bill of Rights, much of which was written by my partner Shelly, came out of our attempts to navigate the hierarchical relationship I was in at the time with my ex-wife. My wife and I had radically different goals in relationship (I am intrinsically polyamorous, whereas she identifies as monogamous; I wanted to be free to let other people in to my heart, while she preferred to be the only person I loved, or, failing that, the one I loved the most), and the hierarchies we had in place were our clumsy attempt to negotiate those differences.

#WLAMF no. 12: The flip side of couple privilege

In our book More Than Two, one of the dangers Eve and I talk about with existing couples opening their relationship to polyamory is the problem of “couple privilege.”

“Couple privilege” is a set of assumptions and expectations, some external and some internal, that we make about relationships. No mater how hard we try to be egalitarian or treat new partners as “equal,” we can assert privileges–sometimes without intending to–in our existing relationships, and end up disempowering anyone we may start a new relationship with.

Privacy and transparency in polyamory: What’s the balance?

Privacy is a basic human right. People involved in polyamory often talk about consent, but sometimes forget that there’s more to consent than choosing when and with whom to have sex. Consent is about access to any part of you: your body, your mind, your emotions, your space. Fundamental to the right to privacy is the right to control who you allow to have access to your most vulnerable places.

On the Relationship Bill of Rights

In June of 2003, I added a new page to my rapidly-growing site about polyamory. The new page, Polyamory for Secondaries, had a section on it called “A Proposed Secondary’s Bill of Rights.” My partner Shelly, who has contributed her thoughts on consent and “family-style” relationships right here in this blog (and whose writings and ideas about consent and ethics in romantic relationships were instrumental to us as we were crafting the ethics sections of More Than Two) contributed significantly to the Secondary’s Bill of Rights.