#WLAMF no. 33: Black belt mistakes

Some time ago, I wrote about dating black belts. I prefer to date people who have already demonstrated the skills required to treat others well in a relationship–that is, people who are black belts at relationships.

It’s a common misconception among folks who’ve never done any martial arts that a person with a black belt has mastered the techniques of his discipline. That’s not true; in fact, a black belt merely shows you’ve got a handle on the basics, and are now ready to start learning the more advanced stuff.

#WLAMF no. 32: Relationship negativity

There is a concept in sex-positive circles of “sex negativity.” Sex negativity is the notion that sex is intrinsically bad, dangerous, dirty, or wrong, unless it occurs within certain tightly prescribed conditions (for example, in marriage for procreation).

Sex positivity, by way of comparison, isn’t the idea that sex is always good, but rather the notion that it’s not intrinsically bad–there are many ‘right’ ways to have sex, and sex doesn’t need to be fenced in or constrained in order to be a positive force.

#WLAMF no. 18: Feeling worthy

I have said many times that one of the core secrets to good relationships is good partner selection. A huge number of relationship problems can be avoided up front simply by choosing good partners: partners with compatible ideas about relationships, with good communication and problem-solving skills, partners who are not abusive or controlling or entitled.

But there is a prerequisite to good partner selection. It’s one I don’t often think about, because it’s something I’ve always taken for granted. And I’ve become aware that I can’t take it for granted; indeed, it’s far from a given for many of us.

Rules: Why we make them, where they can go wrong

Folks already familiar with my writings over the years won’t be shocked to hear me say I’m deeply skeptical of rule-based romantic relationships. It’s a theme throughout most of my writings on polyamory, and in the book More Than Two, Eve and I argue that rules-based systems rarely seem to create structures that work (at least for everyone, including all the people who are not present when the rules are made), and often create harmful structures. When they do work, it’s quite common to credit the rules for the success of a relationship even in situations where the relationship likely would still have succeeded without them.

From friends to lovers

Recently, my attention was called to a message in a polyamory forum about turbulence in a polyamorous relationship caused when one person wanted to start dating a friend, and that person’s existing partner wanted to impose a “No dating existing friends” rule.

I haven’t seen many examples, at least so far, of people prohibiting other people from beginning romantic relationships with anyone who was already a friend. Yet as I read this message, it seemed many other people on that forum had, or wanted, similar rules.

Ethical agreements

Polyamorous relationships come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with all sorts of configurations, arrangements and agreements. From closed triads to sprawling networks, from tightly nested live-in relationships to aggregations of long-distance relationships, from fleeting to long-lived, from consensual power exchange to egalitarian, I’ve seen polyamorous groupings with just about every structure possible.

Given that variety, it’s clear there’s no one right way to “do” polyamory. But that doesn’t mean all polyamorous relationships are happy or sustainable!