Recent Reflections

It’s time for an update… School has been keeping me too far away from our cute blog, and it’s been driving me nuts!!

J and I have been working through some schtuff, which is another reason why I haven’t posted anything lately… as much as it is helpful for me to process, write, and post what we are doing, I am not of the mind to post completely raw emotions and experiences on here. So it was best to wait until things simmered down. I am also attempting to segment my recent reflections, as it seems easier to write them this way although I think all of these issues are interconnected in different ways.

#1: My bisexuality journey.
I have been wanting a girlfriend. I am still trying to find one. These attempts are complicated by so many factors: physical attraction, emotional connection, other women looking for a similar relationship to the one I have in mind, J’s comfort level, etc. I have met women I like, but who aren’t interested in me in the same way, women who aren’t interested in the kind of relationship I am looking for, and women who are too busy to really invest time into exploring something with me. I have met women that I find attractive, who I feel chemistry with, and those that I don’t feel that instant click with. I am still trying to find the right kind of connection, and I am holding out hope and investing my time and energy into meeting people.

#2: Casual versus intimate sex, and What do we each want?
This is a big one. Both J and I have decided that we can enjoy casual or intimate sexual encounters, as long as there is chemistry. Intimate sex cannot be enjoyed by either of us if there is no chemistry. This seems like a no-brainer, but it has taken some time for both of us to figure out. By “casual” I mean encounters that are primarily about having sex. By “intimate” I mean encounters that also have a level of commitment to building, exploring, and sustaining a larger friendship or relationship. For me, intimate encounters are also those that I experience one-on-one with a person; I have yet to feel comfortable having a “casual” encounter one-on-one with someone. If I had chemistry with someone, I think I could enjoy both casual and intimate encounters. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else, but there it is.
So, for J right now, intimate sex just sounds way, waaaay better than casual sex. He is seeking relationships that can be built in an intimate way. And I definitely want a more intimate relationship with a girlfriend… and if I have casual encounters, there needs to be great chemistry.

#3: Phone counseling with Kathy Labriola.
Let me just give a tremendously positive review of Kathy Labriola’s counseling skills, even as they are over the phone. She is patient, communicative, asks great questions, and actually has a wealth of experience counseling people in open relationships and is able to draw on her personal experience as well. She is amazing. Simply amazing. And she accepts payment on a self-determined sliding scale!! Really awesome for students like ourselves. Anyone seeking helpful and compassionate advice about their open relationship journey and experiences? Call her!

#4. Jealousies and insecurities.
J and I have been working through some different jealousies and insecurities with regards to our current situation. Mine are related to his need for intimate relationships, and his have been related to personal insecurities. I have been experiencing varying insecurities since we opened up, and while it has been very painful for me at times to process insecurities, it has been just as painful for me to watch J process insecurities. Being on the other side of the process has made me more compassionate to J when I am experiencing insecurities, envy, etc. 

I always make fun of J when he writes emails or messages with a numbered list, but this was actually easier for me to write with the numbers, so excuse the formality! 🙂

The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping with Chicks

Can I just give five stars to Jen Sincero’s The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping with Chicks?? 

Five words: Hilarious. Exciting. Practical. Hilarious. Sexy.

Sincero wrote the book geared toward women who have primarily been partnered and interested in men, but have now come to realize that they have an interest, slight curiosity, or fantasy about being with women. I felt like I was not quite her intended audience, since I am already convinced I like being with women, I want to be with women, and I want a girlfriend. She also, in her attempts to persuade her hetero-normative straight-ish female counterparts, makes some off-color (albeit, funny!) jokes about lesbians, which I didn’t totally appreciate. Overall, though, Sincero’s upbeat and friendly writing style sustained my attention and I finished the book within a couple of days.

She has advice on getting to know yourself and desires to be more familiar and comfortable being with women sexually (read: masturbate and read erotica/watch porn), where and how to meet women, and really practical advice on sex with women (positions and techniques). She also has great sections on using toys and negotiating threesomes. 

My favorite part of the whole book I think though, is her introduction, “The Joy of Sex with Chicks.” Following is an excerpt, and I include it because I hold all of the same pros of being with women:

“1. When you’re with another chick, the roles can switch back and forth in a much more equal and fluid way…
2. The way women women orgasm is so different from the way guys do. We don’t need to stop and recharge before starting up again, so we can go on and on till the break of dawn without a time-out…
3. I found that every time I did something to her, I could imagine I was doing it to myself. So much so that I could practically feel it even if I wasn’t touching myself at all. The combo of watching her get off and imagining exactly what it must feel like could bring me to orgasm.
4. Women’s bodies are unbelievably soft! They’re like the softest pillows in the world. This has made me totally understand why men go apeshit over us. It also made me aware of my own body’s softness, and it made me feel incredibly sexy in a way I never had before.
5. Lastly, because we live in a society that has a large stick up its ass, also because my sexual hometown is Straightyville, sleeping with someone I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to made me feel kind of kinky. This turned me on like nobody’s business… (pxi-xiii).”

Now, if I could just meet a girl… 😉

Rejection & Dejection

Rejection and dejection are two issues that we haven’t had to deal much with since opening up, but definitely have been things we have been on both ends of. Being rejected, rejecting someone or a relationship, and feeling the subsequent dejection is hard stuff. I hate feeling like badly about a lack of chemistry, I hate feeling like “Hey! I’m a great person! Why don’t you like me??,” and I hate feeling so crummy after a rejection exchange.

One thing that we have realized, though, is that chemistry is just not something you fake or try too hard to grow. Although, chemistry for me kind be kind of an odd thing. There is that gut-feeling kind of chemistry, where I know right away- I dig this person. Then there is the more gradual kind of chemistry, which more slowly builds up and then I realize after a time, Oh yeah, I dig this person! What is crummy about the latter kind of chemistry is that I give myself time to see if chemistry will build up, and then if it doesn’t, it is even more difficult to tell my partner, makes my partner feel crummy, and makes me feel even crummier. Yuck.

And then being on the other end of that sucks, too. Not to mention being stood up. I mean, really! Who does that?!? All it takes is a quick message, email, text, phone call, whatever! Two words are all that’s needed: Not coming. But I guess not showing up sends a pretty strong message: I am not interested. Again: Yuck. At least I am able to go home to J, a partner that loves me and is into me and doesn’t stand me up.

I feel like this is one of my more pathetic posts. But it needed to be written, however poorly. And posted. Because then it feels done-with and over. Goodbye terrible feelings of rejection and dejection. And hello something better 🙂

Scissor Sisters

J and I visited a new dungeon space in town, on a night dedicated to the art of rope and rigging. I was excited to see a new space, and a more kinky space than the swingers club we usually go to. I was impressed by the skill of the riggers there, and was happy to see some of our sexy friends there and meet new one.

Primarily, this post is dedicated to the woman I now lovingly refer to as my “Scissor Sister” (a name she suggested; we were tied up in the scissoring position, which is something that I have been wanting to try with a woman for a while…). Being tied up with you was absolutely amazing. Thank you, thank you. I have never been so deep while tied up myself, but hearing and watching you sink deeper and deeper made my experience that much more enjoyable.

I feel so lucky to live in area where we have an alternative community, where we are able to meet so many deliciously kinky people, and where I can be tied up by two professional doms and riggers, scissoring with a beautiful woman on a Thursday night for $15 per person at the door. Whew.

Love in Abundance

I read Kathy Labriola’s book over my winter break, and I think it is just as practical and helpful as Taormino’s Opening Up. The title of it is: Love in Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships.
At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. She begins with a discussion of how she personally views “polyamory” and “open relationships” as synonymous, and uses the terms interchangeably throughout the book. For some reason, I still have a slight aversion identifying as poly (for reasons I have a difficult time articulating), and so I prefer describing what J and I do as an open relationship.
Anyway, getting past the intro showed me that this book is quite fantastic. One of the first exercises she asks readers and their partners to do is explore one’s dislikes, likes, past experiences, and expectations with regards to monogamous and open relationships. It was illuminating for me to write down what was basically a pros and cons list for each style of relationship, and notice how invested I truly am in our open relationship.
One of the first things she also explains is how most people generally want one of two things when considering an open relationship: More or Different. Generally, she believes that people either have needs that cannot be completely met through their primary relationship and so they need More of something, or people have needs for something Different that their primary relationship cannot meet. For example, I think I basically just want More from our open relationship- more cuddling, more physical touch, etc. And I think J basically wants Different- sexual variety through different partners. I really enjoy Different as well, but these concepts were helpful for us to think about in how our open relationship has shifted since we opened up.
Part of her section on communication was on meta communication: communicating about what you are going to communicate. She explains that in her experience as a counselor, she has noticed that in general, men tend to want to communicate to fix a problem or make a decision, whereas women tend to want to communicate to create intimacy, tell a story, or ask for support of comfort. (She is clear that she knows these are broad generalizations but that they are trends she has noticed). She says that communicating to one’s partner about what you are about to communicate delineates to your partner the goals of the communication. For example, if I tell J I need support and then proceed to tell him about a crummy day at school, he knows his role is to listen and comfort me. If I didn’t tell him I needed support before launching into my story about my crummy day, he might respond with how I could have handled my day better (which would be a more appropriate response if I wanted to fix a problem). This would leave us both feeling dissatisfied, me feeling like I didn’t get the support I wanted, and him feeling like his offered help unappreciated. Reading about meta communication in this way was helpful for J and I in thinking about how we handle instances when one of us is feeling uncomfortable or jealous about something: I often just want support and comfort, not to “fix a problem” or renegotiate our relationship. However, without telling J that I just need support or comfort, he thinks that I am telling him that I am feeling jealous so that we can renegotiate. This leads to a communication breakdown and not a satisfying communication process for either of us.
Her chapters on jealousy are also excellent, and gave me yet another way to focus my energy toward working through jealousy. Labriola maintains that jealousy is like a smoke alarm for a relationship, and I would guess that she might say that we are encouraged to develop hyperactive and “false” smoke alarms within our culture. However, she does think that some situations warrant our jealousy smoke alarms to go off because it is a key sign that we have to do something about our relationship in order to fix a crucial issue.
She also offers a distinct checklist of questions for figuring out if jealous feelings are worth investing further feelings into. This checklist has been helpful for me in figuring out if my smoke alarm is just going off for no reason (which, I think, has been the case since I can remember). She says there are four prerequisite conditions for jealousy, and going through those conditions will reveal whether or not if feelings of jealousy are “valid” or if you need to relax and calm down.
She identifies two key ways that partners often mitigate jealousy. The engineering model means that you create boundaries around the situations that  cause jealousy. If I, for example, got jealous when J went on a date with someone, I might pinpoint my jealousy to a specific activity, say, seeing a movie. So we would create a boundary that stipulates J can go on dates with other people, but reserve going out to movies to be something only the two of us do together. (This is all hypothetical.) The other model is called the phobia model, which means building up slowly to the situations that cause anxiety and jealousy, pushing yourself a little at a time, until the situations that initially cause anxiety and jealousy no longer do. This is the model that we decided to practice long before I read this book. I don’t want to create boundaries around a practice, like dating, because I want that to be an option that we both have. Rather, it makes more sense for us to slowly adjust to new situations and people. For example, the first time J went on a date and was gone for a couple of hours, it was difficult for me. Then the next time was less difficult. However, when he went on a date that lasted five or six hours, it was really challenging again. I expect if and when he is gone that long on a date again, it will be less challenging because I will know what to expect.
Another section of her book that led to some serious and necessary communication between J and I is her chapter on autonomy and intimacy. She asks the reader to think about a 0-10 scale, 0 being someone who wants complete independence and autonomy in their relationships and a 10 being someone who wants to be joined at the hip 24/7 with their partners. She thinks that people who identify as a 0 or 1 probably don’t have a primary relationship because they don’t have the time, energy, or desire to invest in one, and people who identify as a 9 or 10 probably don’t have a primary relationship because they smother their partner. Thus, most people fall between a 2 and 8. This was an extremely helpful exercise for J and I to discuss. I identify as about a 7 or 7.5 and he identifies somewhere between a 5 and 6. This frame of reference made it a lot easier to discuss our differences in intimacy and autonomy needs, and made it a bit easier to discuss what we both want from our open relationship. I want More physical touch, and J want Different partner and the ability to seek them out.
This book might top Taormino’s book for me, just because it was such a fast read, clearly written, and offered some new ways of looking at communication and jealousy. Two thumbs up from me!! 🙂

What is Bisexuality? by Kathy Labriola

This other article by Bay Area open relationship and LGBT counselor Kathy Labriola is a great insight into the discovery of one’s bisexual curiosities, desires, motivations, and experiences. I think it is insightful and meaningful, especially considering our current cultural context for female bisexuality. Female bisexuality is fairly encouraged (at least as an “experiment” during college) and somewhat accepted. Her ideas about bisexuality and suggestions moving forward using “bisexual” as an identity and label for oneself have been helpful in my own explorations. Enjoy!