Thursday, July 21, 2016

Share Your Wisdom on Polyamory With Our New Estonian Penpal!

So steamy, despite presence of man bun.
So, yes. We DO have a new Estonian penpal!* Her name is Murca and she's got questions for you on polyamory--does it work? How do you let your parents know? How do you prevent being an insecure fuck and so forth? Got anything for her?

Hi, Jill,
This is my first time writing to you. I feel that we could be friends (or at least penpals). I've been reading and liking your blog for a while now. Not actually sure how grown-ups make new friends but this seems like one plausible way.

I don't know if you know this but your blog is a part of the recommended reading material for an ethnology course in University of Tartu. The course is called Cultural Conceptions of Human Body.

I was wondering if you have written anything about how people discover that they are polyamorous? Does it go as easily and naturally as those flowery writings by polyamorous people? You know--simply being a more loving person whose love for one does not limit their love for another and saying that jealousy is just people being selfish and insecure and why don't we just love some more and be happy. Or do people really struggle when discovering they can not leave their partner and at the same time can't stop loving (and sexing and wanting oh-so-bad) someone else. Since it is not the 'normal' way and how do you tell your parents that you have several forever-afters and what about the children(?!?) and all that. 

Getting more personal. When I discovered I was bisexual (or pan?) I had at least 2 months of intense confusion. 'I want this. I shouldn't want this. This feels right. This feels so wrong. But why is it so good.' I had met several gay and bi people and I was genuinely happy for their relationships and was fighting (in my little ways) for their rights. But to accept that I am one of them felt like breaking and rebuilding something in me. So for these reasons (and some others) I feel like people who are not monogamous and are open and happy about it could also have gone through a list of heartaches and self-identifying problems before they accepted this. What do you think?

I know that in order to be charismatic I shouldn't apologise for my language. So this part of my letter is just to give you rights to copyedit my text if you should want to use it.

I might have some sex stories to you too. Maybe when I feel more comfortable writing intimate things in a foreign language. And also let's see how this becoming friends thing works out.

With love and admiration,
There you go. I really want to help this chick out because, c'mom, she is so charming and open. So if you or someone you know is enjoying the love of many, let us know how it's working out.

You can:
1.  Comment below. Anonymous is an easy option if you haven't quite gotten to the "telling the parents" step. Because they totally read this blog. 
2.  Send me an email at
3.  Ask your polyamorous friend to do it for you. 

P.S. I'm on Caitlin Grace's Goddess 2 Goddess podcast. If you want to hear me sounding like I'm broadcasting from deep inside a tin can, mumbling and saying $#@$ without thinking it through first, go to town. Caitlin, however is beyond delightful, the tin can thing is not her fault and I did better than last time I was on the radio in which my main contribution was nodding vigorously. Still kinda sound like a wanker though. (Note: I actually am kind of a wanker.)

*At the mags I write for, everyone uses lots of exclamation points! Like on every sentence! It's rubbing off on me and I can't stop! Help!!!!!!

(gorgeous photo:  Love Story, pt 1, Q. Oliver)


A Heron's View said...

I think that most people would be polyamorous, if it were not for the moral conventions that the Christian church has fed into society. Most certainly the ancient Celts were for there are accounts of that in the Irish Mythologies.

Jill Hamilton said...

A Heron's View, I think you're right. Also I love that you brought up ancient Celts--viva educated people!

in bed with married women said...

Okay, Murca, here's some stuff I got from Mindbendermind ( delightful person who has been polyamorous for over a decade (forgive the formatting, cut n' pasting from 140 character answers):

I feel polyamory is discovered the moment one accepts they desire more than one person...and becomes ready to openly declare & honor this simultaneous desire to both/all people! <3
When you realize society has MANY ideas that are archaic/dysfunctional, you accept being poly
Monogamy/marriage isn't for all people & it doesn't work for everyone! Explore Love's options
As far as parents go: ACCEPT that if your parents are traditional, "The Talk" might be needed
It's your choice to confess to your parents: "I am safely intimate with more than one person"
And children understand poly WAY better than conservative adults do! Just be honest with them
She also nailed it: a moment comes where you realize YOU are "one of them": The Sexually FREE
We used to think "gay/bi/queer/kink/poly" people were "them" but now: you see "them" as "us"!
I told my mom & family I was poly & queer 3 years ago. Sometimes they support, sometimes not!
:) and please remind her: follow her heart before she follows society's rules. Be 100% honest
All the non-monogamy-like sacrifices I've made to be a poly lover have been WELL WORTH IT! <3

in bed with married women said...

And more from, this time from Janet aka Bella Rosa

first, re: telling parents:
you only need to reveal what is appropriate and needful for them to know.

no one needs to have access to your private life unless you want them to. Good boundaries.
it's easy to doubt polyamory especially once you encounter problems with enacting it. but that has more to do with how society teaches us to view relationships as trophies.

Then mindbendermind again:
Yes, but then you realize it just takes X amount of more work to make a SPECIAL relationship! OMG YESSS! *sparkling a-ha moment* We can NOT own our partners! It destroys healthy intimacy!

in bed with married women said...

Epic tweet wisdom from Bella Rosa again:

my own journey to #poly was a number of small realizations that came to one big conclusion after many years.
1) I was always friends with my exes
2) I resented partners who couldn't accept
3) I was egalitarian even with my stuffed animals as a kid--I had two "primary" bears but all others got a chance too.
4) I didn't feel jealous of a boyfriend's interest in someone else, just wanted to be included and treated honestly
5) I don't really fall out of love with people--I transform the relationship into a structure that better suits it now.
6) Catholic marriage prep gave us a questionnaire--with several questions about cheating on it--"I consider kissing someone else to be cheating" and "I consider looking at someone else to be cheating" and such. Realizing there were so many ways to define it told my husband and I that we could define cheating for ourselves. So we defined it as "having sex with someone else without telling me about it is cheating" and that's what we employ now.
7) it was husband who had to basically tell me I was #poly. He knew it all along but was waiting for me to recognize it.
8) with #poly he feels less pressure to be my "everything" and he feels accepted for 100% of who he is. even if it's not 100% of what I need. He isn't political, I am. Should he have to conform to meet my needs? I'm not a fan of punk music, should I have to conform to meet his needs? We can each be ourselves. And supported.
9) love is about the organic dynamic between people and highly individual to the people within that dynamic. My favorite saying, "there are as many forms of love as there are moments in time". love I share with A is different from B. I can love both my kids fiercely to the same degree but my relationship with each of them is different. I can love both my kids fiercely to the same degree but my relationship with each of them is different.
10) Are there any other connections where we force people to limit their choices to just 1? Must you choose between mother and father? How about between co-workers? Or favorite teachers? Or friends? And yet with romantic and sexual love we force people to choose one and only one. To commit. Forever. And Ever. Amen. And to do so puts unnatural limits on love that are more inspired by greed and fear than anything else. So call jealousy what it is--fear of rejection. Fear of replacement. Anger over lost time. Name the emotions and engage them.
But forcing these choices denies the very expansive, multi-faceted and beautiful nature of love. What people don't understand is that each relationship is an agreement. arrange the terms for -mutual- benefit. But the mainstream default is monogamy. We don't discuss agreements as couples very often. So what are the terms?

I view #polyamory as a self-actualize relationship structure. Agreement, Consent are built-in. And at the very least it's addressed. And polyamory isn't the only model out there. But why be forced to choose the default when the others aren't even evaluated?

Oh and I've been poly for 12 years, still married, two kids. One other partner who has been around for 8 years and other partners here and there that float in and out of my life. Although honestly haven't dated much in about 5 years. Had a pretty spectacularly awful break-up that made me question how good I am at poly or relationships.

I just love being able to share that the Catholic Church led me to poly. :)

Emily Adams said...

My husband and I decided to try the poly lifestyle about 11 years ago. We have had girlfriends, boyfriends and couples. Nothing has become long term. Yes, jealousy is a real thing that has to be dealt with. Because sex is no longer the exclusive element, what shows your love is the time you spend. It needs to be discussed and when someone in the group is feeling bad about the relationship it must be addressed. You can't be poly simply because your partner wants it, it has to be something you want. If you are heterosexual you can't make yourself homosexual. The same with poly. Monogamous people do not enjoy the poly lifestyle and a poly person would find monogamy stifling. I find my interest in other lovers does not diminish my passion for my husband. Actually the opposite. We have agreed to only play as a group but I know others who handle their relationships differently. Each relationship is different and the rules need to be discussed and agreed on. When a new issue pops up you discuss it, just like grown ups! An excellent book about how to handle some of the issues surrounding poly lifestyles is "Pagan Polyamoury-A Tribe of Lovers" by Raven Kaldera.

Pink said...

I'm thrilled to pieces that Estonians are able to talk seriously about polyamory! This is just fucking awesome!
I'm also a little sad that, as with so many things, the stereotypes and posturing have preceded the reality, but that's just how information travels.
I thought, though, that I might share some of my own experience with you and your pen pal since I think it differs from what a lot of people write or talk about.
I know in retrospect that I have always been polyamorous. I didn't have language for it until I moved to Philadelphia in 2006, and after a few years met friends in the polyamorous community there. At the time I was married and my husband was both very jealous and very... neglectful. I married as a virgin (Christianity can do that to you) and honestly believed the whole death-til-you-part, protect-your-virginity-and-live-happily-ever-after, just-have-faith-and-it-will-all-work-out nonsense. Unfortunately, not long after marriage and my first fuck, I discovered that my sex drive was near insatiable and that my husband wasn't even coming close to cutting it. Because of my job I am surrounded by men and have very few (zero?) female colleagues. It wasn't long before all of them started to look hot, and this is particularly sad when I say that my career is "economist." Have you ever met a hot economist?
Skipping forward, it was my inability to reconcile my sexuality with monogamy that started the whole polyamorous adventure, but because I take each and every one of my friendships very seriously and truly feel love towards my friends, I soon realized that the sexuality was just one part of the story. For me, differentiating a "platonic" friendship from a sexual relationship has always been difficult. Mostly it came down to whether or not I thought they were attractive. After my divorce, as I set out to redefine who I was as a sexual and spiritual, and newly single, person, I quickly discovered that I was utterly incapable of differentiating between my relationships at all.
With time and with a lot of trial and error I have more or less settled on a relatively solid polyamorous identity. All my relationships are open, and all of them are potentially sexual. Whether or not I develop a sexual relationship with a friend depends mostly on whether or not the friend is interested, but I also consider my current partners. I have one partner who is as open and poly as I am and he and I almost never need to discuss or negotiate boundaries. My other partners who have by coincidence been shorter lived, tend to be less experienced with poly and need lots of reassurance and time to adjust to what is a very strange type of relationship for them. Some eventually come around, but many men, I find, think that they are excited by the idea of an open relationship with a highly sexual woman, but soon discover that the insecurity and newness is too much to handle or else they always expected me to eventually settle down into a monogamous commitment. (con't)....

Pink said...

(con't from above)
I think the hardest part about being polyamorous is overcoming people's assumptions. No matter how clear you are or how hard you try to communicate, people grow up being taught that romantic/sexual relationships are a particular way and that everything different is proof that you're not in love, you're not serious, you're a slut, you're cheating etc etc. Some people will, eventually, learn that it's possible to love in different forms, but for many that reflex of "that proves you don't love me!" will never fully disappear.
As for coming out to my family and friends, most of my friends know that I am polyamorous. With new acquaintances I tend to operate on a need-to-know basis if they are crucial to me maintaining my current lifestyle (such as work colleagues), but with people who are not immediately consequential, I will usually make a point to leave glaringly obvious hints. I've found that unlike homosexuality/bisexuality, it's less important to make a declaration or a clear coming out, but I will correct people if they refer to my male partners as "boyfriends" and I will refer to myself as single while at the same time being openly affectionate with my partners.
I came out to my family in a similar way. For a long time I didn't talk about partners at all because the divorce was a sore spot with my religious family. Slowly, though, I would start to refer to my long term partners by name. I did tell my uncle directly that I was polyamorous and had two serious relationships going on, neither of which I intended to elevate to marriage or eventually end in favor of the other. He was understanding and even went so far as to say he did a similar thing when he was younger, before kids happened. Everyone else I just kind of let them hear the facts and make what conclusions they want. I find it's easier than making a big deal and since I live in a different country from the rest of my family, no one really needs to be hit in the face with the details of something that is largely irrelevant to them.
Ultimately, I would not say that my discovery of polyamory was easy or flowery, but it was definitely natural. Being gay or actively bisexual can require very obvious changes to your life and your self conception. In contrast, being polyamorous is in many ways just a matter of timing. So you love one person. So you love another person. So it happens that you didn't stop loving the first person just yet... I think it's not really as strange as many people make it out to be.

L said...

Oh, Jill. I fear someone is pulling your leg. Maybe you like that however, if done properly.

How do I know this? Well, the grammar is too perfect for an ESL type from Estonia. Unless you cleaned it up, there are none of the telltale mistakes that those who pick up English as a second, third or fourth language tend to make. Heck, even college students these days can hardly write a grammatically correct sentence, much less one that makes any sense. So, the English in this epistle is just too good except for a couple of things at the very end.

Secondly, there is the name: Murca. Uh, ok, look it up in the Urban Dictionary online.

Just sayin'

Jill Hamilton said...

Emily, thanks for all of that. And a book rec too! xoxoxo

Pink, I am so grateful for your thoughtful reply and I'm sure Murca will be too because,,,,

L, she does exist! she writes a blog in estonian about random stuff she's thinking about, teaching, food, cats, etc ...

i cleaned up her english very very marginally but it really is stellar.

also if you look up my name in the Urban Dictionary, it has all kinds of flattering definitions, as does every woman's name. However my favorite is the def. that "having a date with jill" = "jerking off at home." Seems about right somehow.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill
Due to my 60+ years in the world I have become increasingly jaded and cynical, but for various reasons choose to accept letters to your column (even from Estonia) at face value.
I also do this with Mr. Savage's column and miss hax.
When I try to open a discussion about a sexy topic with my beloved Miss N. she listens politely and then dismisses each and every letter as a fake. Initially I thought that she was showing her very staid German/Czech/farmgirl nature but have now reconsidered her motives.
What it boils down to, I am afraid, is that she is taking this position to avoid having a sexy conversation. She knows that I am on one of my missions to attempt to seduce her by exploring OTHER PEOPLES' love lives. sigh.

Anonymous said...

My heart is polyamorous but my brain has a very hard time with it.
I've been married for more than twenty years. I'm a teacher. We have children and grand children. We have a house, cars, bills. Sex happens once in a while if his dick will stay hard enough. Very disappointing.

But three years ago an old boyfriend who I've kept in touch with moved close to me. We get each other. We don't have the baggage of houses and children. When I'm with him there's no laundry or cooking..... Just wonderful magnificent sex.
But I feel too guilty. It would kill my husband to find out. I would lose everything. I'm a good, kind, sweet person who would never cheat.
So for now, I told my friend I need a break. I can't live a huge lie.
But man. I miss him.

Anonymous said...

I my either *are* or are *not* polyamorous. You can't really change from one to the other. My wife is very monogamous...always has been, probably always will be. I have always been polyamor. Looking at the list of what PAs do....yeah many are me. I love widely, but not too wife loves intensely,but not anyone but me. We just celebrated 30 years. I committed to her solely after 5-6 years of marriage and a couple of affairs, only because that was what it took to keep her. So, I *seem* to be monogamous....but nothing has changed for me relationship wise. I still communicate with several old girlfriends, being upfront (mostly) with my wife. One even sends me care packages every Xmas that now, the whole family looks forward to. She always includes a special treat for my indication of *her* PA.
So....I suggest you do what you have to to get along with whoever you need to get along with. Lieing will never work.Adjust behaviours to accept what you can. (My wife has come to not only accept, but look forward to my old girlfriends packages, because she feels the girlfriend acknowledges her. And that is extremely important to my be #1.

Anonymous said...

I never thought I was poly. I prefer non-monogamous as I am rather restrictive in my extra-curriculars, only having one other partner at a time. Husband has probably always been more poly than I, but we didn't know about these things when we got married. We now have elementary school aged kids.

I was the first to step beyond the marriage boundary but with his permission. Had been working a ton, traveling, met someone on the business travels who was an insane flirt. And I loved it. And wondered what would happen if I weren't married. I came home for a brief respite (18 hours) and husband said out if the blue, if you meet someone, you should have fun. I hadn't told him about the flirter. It turned out he was married and poly and we had fun for a while but we lived very far apart. So now we are just very good friends who possibly flirt more than married folk are usually allowed.

But the flirter suggested I find someone via OKC and I did. He's relatively local and we get together every few weeks and the sex is crazy hot. Like someone banged on the wall once to get us to quiet down. He's into things my husband is not and so everyone ends up more happy. Oh, and husband has a cuckold fetish, it turns out, so this arrangement satisfies most of us most of the time.

None of us is out about this to the world. A few close friends know but no one has met my wall-banger as my other partner, just as a friend. It just seems like too much info for the world at large. And my parents are super, liberal Zcatholic, but wouldn't understand.

But the key if you go down this road is to communicate lots and often. More than you'd like. It's hard to juggle more than one relationship.

Sam Schwarer said...

I haven't read the other comments because I know I'll get bogged down and I just want to quickly say some things that will hopefully be useful:

1. There was nothing worse than the day I realised that I could no longer be married to the man I still adore because me trying to be monogamous is waaay more emotionally messy than me just going ahead and being polyamorous. I don't believe that all people are 'wired' one way or the other, but I do know that for me, and both my partners, it comes far more naturally than monogamy.

2. You do not have to be amazingly good at relationships to be poly, but if you're crap at relationships then you're going to be crap at them whether you're poly or mono.

3. My parents do not 'know' I'm poly. One partner's mother knew. The other partner's parents have no idea. My kids know, and have lived with me and three of my partners for a short period. They feel empowered, as teenagers, that poly people exist and it's ok to question what society tells you about how relationships should work. Admittedly, they've been brought up to think that way. All three of us are out to most people we meet. Two of us are out in our workplaces. (You'll see I've not commented anonymously - I'm not particularly concerned, at this time, about being outed, though when my kids were younger I had more worries about it.)

4. I get jealous all the time, but I also got jealous when I was in a mono relationship. I had to learn to understand the things I need out of a relationship, and ask for them (I don't always get this right) and that helps a lot. People who tell you poly people are 'evolved beyond jealousy' are either stoned or jackasses.

Jill Hamilton said...

i am so so grateful for all of these thoughtful honest comments! Thanks and yay!