Monday, July 31, 2006

What sex is your brain? (I love these things, part 2)


Over at the cunting linguist, steff shared some results of a brain sex profile. Now I am a little knowledgeable about this stuff... not a lot; a little. I love these kinds of assessments, but I go into them a little too cautiously, fearing I can spot how each question factors into the big equation. So I have to watch myself to be sure I'm answering in a manner that is true to myself and my thoughts.

Here's how I did:
  • Part 1 was Angles, where I scored 18 out of 20. This tests spatial abilities. The average for men is 15 and for women, it's 13. This particular step indicates I have more of a male brain.
  • The second part of Part 1 was a "spot the difference" exercise. Me: 57%. Average women: 46%; avergae men 39%. This score indicates I have a balanced male-female brain. I was surprised at this score. I felt like I'd done much better at seeing the differences than the score indicates.
  • The thumb test indicates my right brain is dominant. (I actually said "duh!" out loud when I read it.)
  • For both empathising and systemising, I scored 8 out of 20. That's below the women's average for empathising and spot on the women's average for systemising. I agree with the empathy numbers. I would have considered myself more of a systemiser due to the nature of my work, but maybe it just means I'm not doing a job that is best suited for me.
  • Part 5 was a series of faces. This reminded me of visits to the eye doctor. I had a hard time with it. The results show I prefer masculine faces.
  • On the word association test, I scored a total of 18. The scale here only goes to 10, but it does say that women use both sides of the brain when doing verbal tasks.

Overall, my brain score puts me smack dab in the middle of the male-female spectrum. I'd love to see results broken down by gender and sexual preference. If you take the quiz and post it, let me know. I'd love to see other comments on it.

Sugasm #40

This week’s best of the sex blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Want in Sugasm #41? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form.

Mr. Sugasm himself
The New Wave of Porn Star Hookers (http://www.sugarbank.com)


BDSM and Fetish
Sweet Torture (http://xantasia.blogspot.com)
Sweet and Dirty (http://tangysweet.blogspot.com)
A Spanking Interlude (http://www.spankingwriters.com)
Spanked Again! (http://everythingoze.blogspot.com)
Punishment vs. Discipline (http://www.alternativealbany.com/bdsm/)
A Lesson in the Fine Art of Whipping (http://designingintimacy.blogspot.com)
I feel slightly better and get the brush and the paddle… Hmmmm (http://spankingkatiespades.blogspot.com)
A Gift (http://thebinside.blogspot.com)
Frugal Kink: The $25 Toy Bag (http://www.dangerousfemme.com)
D is for Daddy (http://redvelvetropeburn.com)
Carol’s room (http://assistantmistress.blogspot.com)


Erotic Writing and Experiences
What a girl has to do… (http://dawnndirty.blogspot.com)
Virginal Cherry (http://femmefataleteen.blogspot.com)
Touched, for the very first time (http://faltenin.blogspot.com)
Surprise (I) (http://junohenry.wordpress.com)
Sunday Confession (http://wetbeyondbelief.blogspot.com)
Sexual Exploration (http://sexyukgirl.blogspot.com)
The Return of the Lawyer (http://www.suchnonsense.com)
Outside (http://bdsmlover.blogspot.com)

More Sugasm
Join the Sugasm


Not Too Tired After All (http://masterenigma.blogspot.com)
The Morning After (http://ellabeecoquette.blogspot.com)
Married By Slut Puppy (http://fourstate.blogspot.com)
Hunger no more (http://xxgraciexx.blogspot.com)
Elegant Backstroke in a Shot Glass (http://theholidaylife.blogspot.com)
Come again? (http://orgasmcurious.blogspot.com)
The Celebratory Wank (http://wanklog.blogspot.com)
Annual Check Up (http://gentlygently.blogspot.com)
7/23 by Roxy: Make it a Double! (http://rexandroxy.blogspot.com)


NSFW Pics
Prime Cups (http://www.internetisforporn.com)
Multiple Choice (http://tgp.com)
Memory Lane (http://www.seska4lovers.com)

Sex News
New Blogging Designs Added! (http://tarasnaughtyshop.com)
Avery Score Takes Us Down Rainbow Road (http://sugarjoy.com)

Sex Work
Playing the Repentant Ex-Wife (http://radicalvixen.com/blog)
Any volunteers? (http://kyliecallme.com/diary)

Thoughts on Sex and Relationships
Reader Question - Unfaithfulness (http://shayssexcolumn.blogspot.com)
Panties or Knickers? (http://gentlebutfirm.blogspot.com)
In Search of the City’s Hottest Stripping and Swinging (http://www.taratainton.com)
Exploring Alternative Relationships (http://www.seskuality.com)
The Dangers of Cybersex (http://myhotbox.blogspot.com)
Coffee and a spanking with Master R tonight (http://darkside-journey.blogspot.com)
Beginner’s Fun with Role Play (http://cuntinglinguist.blogspot.com)
“Are You a Ho or Do You Just Want Others to be?” (http://lustylady.blogspot.com)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I bruise you. You bruise me.

On very rare occasions something comes along that adjusts my emotional bar. Once in a blue moon my emotional bar is completely shattered. It was a blue moon tonight.

I don’t like crowds. And maybe I’ve just become jaded, but I don’t go to many concerts anymore. These days, there just aren’t many artists I’d put up with the "experience" to see. I find myself very disappointed to see someone live and discover that they can’t sing like their songs we all know and love. They can’t hit the notes; they can’t stay on key. It does make me wonder if music today is more mirrors and smoke than a guy with a mic.

Tonight was the exception to all of those things. The crowd. The weather. 95 degrees and 80% humidity at 9pm is not my idea of fun outdoor weather. But we get three notes into it and none of that matters. Tears were streaming down my face and onto my neck by the third song. The hair on my arms and neck stood straight up for most of the night.

In conversation and in writing, I start a multitude of sentences with the phrase "I feel..." And many is the time I’ve been mistaken. I haven’t really felt in a long time. But I felt tonight. And amidst the emotion that made its way to the surface, I wondered where these long lost friends – true raw emotion and feeling – had disappeared to.

I sat there, too mesmerized to even make a sound. Singing along in my mind; knowing every word. Feeling every word. I can’t do the description justice with mere words.

As if it were yesterday, I see myself and some friends sitting in a bar. Upstairs. In a different country on a different continent. And here’s what blows me away.... it was 21 years ago. This album is playing. I close my eyes and I am there. The bar is gone and some of the people who were there with me are gone. And I miss her.


A Gift

They met for dinner in a fish restaurant in one of those new open-air specialty shopping areas. Several hundred other people seemed to have the same idea because the parking lot was packed. After circling the parking lot twice, she was lucky to find someone leaving and ended up with a spot that was virtually at the front door.

She’d noticed his car parked across the lot in front of a women’s shoe store and a Pier 1.

He was already seated at a table and she joined him, smiling. She was happy to see him. She slid into the booth across from him. "Hello."

"Hello. It’s nice to see you." His eyes took their time taking her in.

"You, too. Have you been here long?"

"Not really. I had to make a stop in the area, and I was a little early." He sipped his drink and she gave her drink order to the waiter. She was feeling a little anxious and knew the wine would soothe her. She chatted about her day, about traffic, about the dream she had last night. Actually she babbled like a brook. She knew she was going on and on but finally got a handle on it when the glass of wine appeared before her.

"I have something for you," he said.

She raised an eyebrow in surprise. "You do?"

"Yes."

She waited. Curiosity paraded a list of things through her mind that she categorically dismissed one after another. He’d given her things before and she knew they came with multiple "uses." Her cheeks flushed a deep pink and she took another sip of wine.

"Walk across the parking lot to the shoe store. Go in and ask for Marleigh. Tell her your name."

She listened, wide-eyed. While she was still processing his words, replaying them to make sure she’d heard correctly, he spoke in a low, firm tone that made the hair on her neck stand up. "Go."

She rose and with a feeling of curiosity mixed with excitement, walked out of the restaurant, past her car, across the parking lot. She loved shopping for shoes and had been meaning to come into this shop, but hadn’t yet made it.

The windows displayed a wide variety of colors, styles and heels. She stopped momentarily to examine a colorful pair of beaded mules with a matching bag. But only briefly; she knew she was probably being watched and didn’t want to seem like she was stalling. Which she was.

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.

A petite, dark-haired, older-looking woman sat behind the counter. When she walked in, the woman stood up and came around to greet her. "Hello. Is there something I can help you find?" The woman’s smile was somewhat maternal and very comforting.

"Yes. Are you Marleigh?"

"Yes I am."

She introduced herself and said that she understood there was something here for her to pick up.
Marleigh’s expression didn’t change at all. She said, "Oh, right. Have a seat, dear, and let me get them." She disappeared into the back. After a short pause, the woman reappeared with a box.


She sat down. As Marleigh approached, she knelt in front of her with the box, opening it and removing the paper and other protective materials. The shoes were black with just a few thin straps. And quite a heel. She was a tall woman so she’d not worn heels with too much height. She’d always felt awkward being taller than everyone around her, and that’s what heels did to her. These heels looked to be about 4 inches.

She kicked her slides off and slid her foot into the shoe that Marleigh held in place for her. One thin strap crossed her foot just above her toes. She watched as one of the straps was wrapped around her ankle. It was attached to a strap that rose from the shoe at the back of her heel.

The ankle strap was held in place by a second strap. This one was nearer to the front, but it met the ankle strap near the inside of her foot. It crossed over the top of her foot diagonally and joined the shoe on the outside of her foot.

The ankle strap had a small clasp. It was shiny and silver and kind of looked like chrome. Marleigh clasped it shut and reached for the other shoe.

She admired the shoe and it did occur to her that she might have a problem walking in these. But they were so dainty and so understated and sophisticated at the same time. She loved the look.

When Marleigh closed the clasp on the second ankle strap, she heard a small click and looked down to examine the clasp more closely. It was odd… not like any other shoe buckle she’d seen. The two metal pieces appeared to slide together. It reminded her of the locks on the diaries she’d had as a child. There was a small hole in one of the halves of the clasp and she felt around, trying to see how it worked.

Marleigh stood up and looked down at the shoes, smiling. "They look great on you."

She stood up and carefully walked to a nearby mirror. They did look great on her, she had to admit. She flexed her feet and turned, watching in the mirror to see how they moved.

"Oh, they are nice… really nice. I’ll have to practice walking in them though. It’s been a while since I’ve worn heels."

She walked unsteadily back to the seat and sat down. She bent and reached down to remove them.

"I think you’ll have a chance to practice sooner than you think. They’re locked." Marleigh smiled at her as if this was the sort of thing she did every day… locking shoes on women’s feet.

"Locked?"

"That’s right dear. I think you know where the keys are."

Heat rose on her face and she turned to look across the parking lot to the restaurant where the man waited.

"Let me just put these in a bag for you." Marleigh picked up her slides and arranged them in the shoebox as if they were brand new and very expensive. She went behind the counter and slipped the box into a bag. She handed it to her and walked her to the door.

"I hope you enjoy them, dear." Marleigh smiled up at her.

"Thank you," she stammered as she awkwardly moved out the door. As she took her first few steps, she noticed the parking lot seemed to have grown since she’d gone into the store.

She took another breath, and with determination, stepped off the sidewalk.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sex... In... Spaaaaaace.....

It’s all over the news… in order to have sex in space, you have to be into bondage. Velcro is the thing. It gives a whole new meaning to those trips to Dom Depot, huh?

So if you have to be kinky to do it in space, what does that mean for the other aspects of our kink? Will floggers still flog with the same thwackiness in anti-gravity? I’m guessing not. Will a paddling have the same level of intensity? Good question. But what about things like… say, clamps or clothespins? Will they still clamp as hard? Do battery operated devices work in space? They did in Apollo 13 (the movie version anyway).

I guess things like hot wax and watersports are out. Too messy. Will the use of lubricant become a much more thoughtful type of decision? Is the image of droplets of lube finding their way onto something important like the landing gear switch just frightening?

Will adult-themed space resorts have dungeons? Would you freefloat away from the wall, tethered only by the chains that attach you to it? So many questions…

It sounds like a whole bevy of problems to me. But rest assured, those of you who are already making your space travel reservations, someone somewhere is working on these important issues.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Closely Guarded Secret


One day all of the planets aligned and my husband, his submissive, myself and my Dominant all happened to be in the same place at the same time. It was the first time the "secondaries" had met and it was interesting to hear their impressions of each other.

My husband said his sub commented to him later that my Dom didn't seem very dominant. And my husband told her he'd thought the same thing when he met him.

This tickles me to no end. This man can evoke any number of emotions in me with just a look and I have bruises on my body that would disagree with the naysayers.

I feel like I'm in on this really big secret that only a few people know. And it's lip-smackingly delicious.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Brush With Death



Innocent looking little thing, innit? It's decidedly and deviously deceptive.

He hit me the first time and I reacted rather loudly. He hit me again to see if he'd really heard that right. Then he tried it on his palm a few times. I can only imagine what it must have looked like because, well... I was facing the other direction.

I heard a sharp WHACK! It was followed by a sharp intake of breath and a an utterance of "Oh, my!" Then he chuckled in that low tone that makes the hair on my arms stand straight up.

In between reddening my ass with it, he used the bristles to tease the bottoms of my feet. Pressed into and in between my toes, it was the most awesome dichotomy of feelings. The bristles are soft, yet pointy. Tickling and hurting at the same time.

One of the most underrated toys in my toybag... I now call it the Brush with Death.

Friday, July 21, 2006

B is for Balancing Act


That's exactly what I feel like I'm doing. And I keep looking from side to side trying to figure out which option is THE option. From the outside, my life looks pretty good. And in reality, it is. Yet I remain anxious and worried instead of being able to appreciate and enjoy the situation I'm in. I can name the things I have to be thankful for and I still feel like an emotional basketcase.

(rant)

I think as much as anyone else, I'm mad at myself. I continue to put myself in situations where I rely on other people to do things. My husband takes out the trash and changes the lightbulbs around here. And they both need to be done at about the same frequency. He left town for a week with all of the outside lights burned out. Now don't get me wrong, I can change a lightbulb. (There's a joke here... somewhere...) It's the fact that he knew they were burned out and chose to leave them that way when I was going to be here by myself for a week. It just rubs me the wrong way. It makes me feel insignificant.

So what'd I do? Changed the lightbulbs. Did he acknowledge that all of the lights had miraculously come back on while he was gone? No. More rubbing.

And the worst of it all is that I'm mad at myself for being mad about fucking lightbulbs...

(/rant)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I love these things.


This is an interesting
personality quiz. I do love these things and am amused at the results on this one.


About me:


You are an Inventor


  • Your imagination, self-reliance, openness to new things, and appreciation for utility combine to make you an INVENTOR.
  • You have the confidence to make your visions into reality, and you are willing to consider many alternatives to get that done.
  • The full spectrum of possibilities in the world intrigues you—you're not limited by pre-conceived notions of how things should be.
  • Problem-solving is a specialty of yours, owing to your persistence, curiosity, and understanding of how things work.
  • Your vision allows you to identify what's missing from a given situation, and your creativity allows you to fill in the gaps.
  • Your awareness of how things function gives you the ability to come up with new uses for common objects.
  • It is more interesting for you to pursue excitement than it is to get caught up in a routine.
  • Although understanding details is not difficult for you, you specialize in seeing the bigger picture and don't get caught up in specifics.
  • You tend to more proactive than reactive—you don't just wait for things to come to you.
  • You're not one to force your positions on a group, and you tend to be fair in evaluating different options.
  • You're not afraid to let your emotions guide you, and you're generally considerate of others' feelings as well.
  • You prefer to have time to plan for things, feeling better with a schedule than with keeping plans up in the air until the last minute.
  • You do your own thing when it comes to clothing, guided more by practical concerns than by other people's notions of style.
  • Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On Polyamory: an article

I ran across this article on a mailing list and think it's an interesting perspective.

LOVE UNLIMITED: THE POLYAMORISTS
* 07 July 2006
* Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
* Annalee Newitz


"I WAS dating Gordon when I met Heather and Jim. Then I started
dating Jim too, and Heather started dating Gordon right before he and
I broke up," says Noemi. Confused? Tonight I'm having dinner with a
group whose unusual lifestyle warrants such introductions. They are a
"polyamorous" family - one whose members are openly committed to
several lovers at the same time.

Their household, in a quiet neighbourhood on the outskirts of San
Francisco, looks like any other. A little boy in pyjamas answers the
door when I knock, smiling around a large strawberry stuck in his
mouth. His mother Heather, an artist with oval glasses and pink hair,
is cooking in the kitchen with her boyfriend Gordon, a computer-
network engineer with an understated manner. The dining room is
pleasant, airy and smells of roasting chicken. Heather's husband Jim,
along with housemates Noemi and Alicia, are bustling about the table,
opening wine, putting out place settings and making sure Heather and
Jim's son (the strawberry eater) brushes his teeth before going to
bed. Noemi, a park ranger who is pregnant with Jim's second child,
offers me some bread and cheese.

The group's network of relationships is fairly typical in polyamorous
circles, where it's not unusual to hear somebody introduce a
"husband's girlfriend" or "my wife and her boyfriends". Noemi does
her best to explain the history of the family, but it sounds like a
logic puzzle. "If you really want to understand all of our
relationships, it might be easier if we drew you a chart," says
Heather (see Diagram). "I'm not dating any of them," says Alicia, a
librarian. "My boyfriend is poly, so I guess I'm poly by association."
"I feel like I'm monogamous because I've been sleeping with only one
person for about five years," says Noemi. Everybody starts laughing,
and finally she admits, "OK, well I did sleep with some other people
too."

It is hard to estimate how many polyamorists exist - there is no box
for them on any national census - but the number of online resources,
articles and books on the topic has exploded since the early 1990s,
when the term polyamory ("poly" for short) was coined in internet
newsgroups. The Ethical Slut, a 1997 book by Dossie Easton and
Catherine Liszt that some call the "bible of poly", has sold more
than 50,000 copies and is about to go into its second edition.
Recently the concept of multiple lovers has become the subject of
public debate in the US, where conflicts over gay marriage have led
some conservatives to claim that homosexual weddings will lead to
marriages of more than two people: if you can have two mothers, they
say, why not two mothers and a father?

For psychologists and evolutionary biologists, polyamory is a rare
opportunity to see, out in the open, what happens when people stop
suppressing their desire for multiple partners and embrace non-
monogamy. Proponents say the poly brand of open but committed
relationships may be a way around infidelity because it turns an age-
old problem into a solution: polyamorists are released from the
burdens of traditional marriage vows, yet they seem to keep their
long-term relationships intact. What makes poly enticing is the
possibility of reconciling long-term stability and romantic variety.

No swinging, please

And why shouldn't we consider it? When most people think of non-
exclusive marriages, they think of polygamy, an ancient but still
widespread practice that involves one person, usually male, acquiring
multiple spouses in a harem-like arrangement. Or swinging, in which
couples have casual flings on the side. Polyamory is different. It
encompasses a dizzying variety of arrangements - anything from
couples with long-term lovers on the side to larger groups with
overlapping relationships. If anything characterises poly, says
Elaine Cook, a psychiatrist who has a private practice in Marin
county, California, it is a lack of rigid structure.

What evidence there is shows that poly couples stay together as long
as monogamous ones - and, apparently, for good reasons. In a study
published last December in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality
(vol 8), Cook analysed the relationships of seven couples who had
been married for more than 10 years, and who had had additional
partners for at least seven of those years. She found that most of
the couples reported "love" or "connection" as important reasons for
staying together. This contrasts with monogamous couples, Cook notes,
who often list external factors such as religion or family as major
reasons for remaining committed.

That is telling. Cook speculates that polyamorists perceive
themselves as having more choices, and therefore they only stay in
marriages and relationships that make them happy. "They have other
relationships that they are perhaps equally excited about being in,
but they want to maintain this [marriage] relationship because it
continues to satisfy them," she says.

For some, poly may be more realistic than monogamy. Having multiple
partners frees people from the process of trying to find "the one"
who is perfect for them in every way. In April, psychologist Rachel
Robbins at the Mission Mental Health clinic in San Francisco
conducted a survey of 250 polyamorous women. The number 1 reason they
gave for being poly was "to experience different activities and
explore different parts of themselves with different people". Instead
of asking one person to meet all their needs, polyamorists are
content with several people who each meet a few.

Noemi's housemates would drink to that. "I have a lot of interests
and passions in my life, and I can't fulfil them all in my
relationship," says Alicia. "It was good to have my partner go off
and date other people, because then I could pursue my outside
interests too - and I didn't feel scrutinised for wanting to do
that." Noemi agrees: "It makes me sad that so many people isolate
themselves," she says. "It's good to have multiple people who love
you, and it's good to have freedom and downtime too."

All well and good, but what about the demands of juggling so many
commitments at once? Surely it saps their time and energy. In a break
during dinner, I ask how the family manages multiple relationships,
particularly as most of them live under the same roof.

"We all have our own bedrooms, which is key," Noemi says. "And our
bedrooms aren't next to each other, so we have privacy," says
Heather. "Also, we have a nominal schedule where Jim sleeps with
Noemi and me on an every-other-night basis, and I'm with Gordon on
the weekends."

"My nights without Jim are great," Noemi says with a laugh. "I get to
hog the covers, and nobody snores."

Critics call poly self-indulgent and morally reprehensible. Yet it is
hardly a sexual free-for-all. The freedom has limits - and managing
emotions like jealousy becomes a central issue. "These are designer
relationships," Cook says. "Every group decides for itself what's
open and what isn't."

Take Emma and Nate, a young married couple living in California's
Silicon Valley who describe themselves as "stable and well-settled".
They met in college 11 years ago and have always had a polyamorous
relationship. Emma has had a boyfriend for the past seven years,
while Nate prefers to have short-term romances with friends. Some
aspects of their relationship, however, are not open. "We don't do
sleepovers with other people," Emma says.

"I like waking up next to her in the morning," Nate says. "The only
exception is if I'm out of town, in which case I don't mind if she's
having a sleepover." Another rule they have established is letting
each other know in advance about dates with other people. "If either
of us gets serious about someone else, we bring them home to meet the
spouse," says Nate. "In fact, that's what we're doing tomorrow -
we're having lunch with my new girlfriend and her husband."

Your cheating heart

Polyamorists come to it at different points in their lives and for
different reasons. Emma says she had open relationships in high
school, and many people I spoke with described discovering poly in
their late teens or early twenties. Most, like Jim, tried monogamy.
"My first marriage was supposed to be monogamous, and I was," he
recalls. "But she slept around in a cheating way. That killed the
relationship."

So is poly more sustainable than monogamy? "Infidelity in monogamous
relationships is estimated at 60 to 70 per cent, so it seems that
attraction to more than one person is normal. The question is how we
deal with that," says Meg Barker, a professor of psychology at London
South Bank University who presented her research into poly at the
2005 meeting of The British Psychological Society. "The evidence is
overwhelming that monogamy isn't natural," says evolutionary
biologist David Barash of the University of Washington, Seattle.
"Lots of people believe that once they find 'the one', they'll never
want anyone else. Then they're blindsided by their own inclinations
to desire other attractive individuals. So it's useful to know that
this behaviour is natural."

But as a mating strategy, poly may not be any better than monogamy; a
person's reproductive success may diminish if there is less pressure
to be exclusive. "Jealousy is probably fitness enhancing," Barash
says. A more jealous male is likely to stick closer to his mate and
prevent her from getting impregnated by other males. "A good look at
human biology does not support polyamory any more than it supports
monogamy," he says. Biologist Joan Roughgarden, at Stanford
University in Palo Alto, California, goes further. "Polyamory won't
last. The likelihood of being able to successfully raise children in
that context is very limited. My guess is that it's not an
evolutionary advance, but a liability."

To others, however, biology is not the point. "In middle-class urban
cultures, people aren't marrying for survival any more," says
psychologist Dossie Easton, co-author of The Ethical Slut. "They can
get divorced, and the kids won't starve. This means we're having
marriages and relationships for very different reasons than our
ancestors did. We're doing it for emotional gratification." Easton
sees poly as a break from the "survival strategy" traditions that
created both polygamy and monogamy. "Polyamory is a cultural
outgrowth of serial monogamy, or having multiple partners without
necessity," she says. "Once you're released from necessity, you can
start doing all kinds of original thinking."

Barker concurs. "It's assumed that jealousy is a natural response,"
she says, "but some polyamorous people say they hardly feel it at
all. I think this gives us insight into how people can make sense of
their worlds in many ways if monogamy isn't the default." She has
found that when people leave traditional monogamy behind, they often
rethink "givens" such as how to divide up the housework, money and
childcare. Children of poly couples, for instance, tend to be raised
by a small community instead of two parents.

Back in San Francisco, Heather's family is clearing the table. As she
replaces our plates with bowls of fruit compote, she says poly is a
way of keeping her long-term partnerships alive. "When you think
about it, what happened is that Jim and I didn't get divorced when we
got new partners. We're still together and yet have more love from
other people."

"Polyamory is not for everybody," says Jim. "But it creates a range
of options, which is important because you can't optimise one kind of
relationship to fit everyone."

"The important thing is that we trust each other," says Noemi,
rubbing her pregnant belly with a smile. Although poly is still well
out of the mainstream, it has become an attractive alternative to
monogamy for some. Whether it is good for society remains an open
question. For now, there's a more pressing issue - is it good for you?

From issue 2559 of New Scientist magazine, 07 July 2006, page 44
-----------------------------------------------------
Poly primer

In a study of polyamorous communities online, psychologist Meg Barker
found that they had invented new terms to describe the emotions and
logistics of non-monogamy.

Ethical slut - someone who sleeps with several people but is honest
and open about it; the foundation of polyamory

Frubbly - the opposite of romantic jealousy; the happiness a person
feels when his or her partner is happy with another partner (known as
compersion in the US)

Metamour - a poly partner's other lover

NRE - new relationship energy, the zingy feeling of euphoria when you
fall in love with a new person

Primary - a polyamorist's main partner. Other less intimate partners
may be termed secondary or tertiary. Those who have several equally
intimate relationships say they engage in non-hierarchical polyamory
Love, actually

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Dossie Easton is a psychotherapist and, along with Catherine Liszt,
wrote The Ethical Slut in 1997. The book discusses polyamory - being
openly committed to more than one sexual relationship at a time. Here
she describes what polyamory means to her.

What is polyamory, and where did it come from?

The idea has been around for a while. I decided to be non-monogamous
in 1969. Back then people called it free love, open relationships or
even transmarital sex. The word polyamory was invented by
psychologist Deborah Anapol to refer to group marriage. Now it means
people who have a variety of different kinds of relationships. It is
everyone who is living outside the notion that you can only have one
true love.

Why choose this lifestyle?

There is a whole range of reasons, but the highest is finding
community. Poly community becomes an extended family that shares
intimacy, sex, housing and child-rearing. I see non-monogamy as
creating places where people can nurture relationships because they
don't have to leave home, children or partner to explore themselves.
They don't have to tear up their world every time they try something
new.

How come everyone isn't poly?

We have huge social strictures against unbridled sexuality, so non-
monogamy is threatening and frightening. In my practice, I see a lot
of people who feel strongly drawn to poly, but they think something
is wrong with them - that they're commitment-phobic or have problems
with intimacy. I think desire draws us along a path of self-
discovery, and through that we find intimate connections with other
people.