Swingers Club, Heteronormativity, & Couple Privilege… and DVP

J and I had a fabulous time at our swingers’ club last night (hooray for Hump Day!)

But, almost every time we’re there I become at least mildly irritated by displays of heternormativity. And now I can include becoming annoyed by the system of couple privilege at play. 

Last night, one of our closest friends met us there (it was his “singles” night and his wife, another super close and awesome friend of ours, was at home with their baby). It was really fun to hang out together, but I was completely flabbergasted when the staff came into the Couples Lounge to tell us that the three of us could not be in there together. Typically, only hetero couples and single women are allowed in the Couples Lounge, and it didn’t cross my mind that having another guy with J and I would be a problem. It was a dual heteronormativity/couple privilege situation, and it really did leave my mind blown. The staff member who told us to leave said that having another guy with us was only allowed on their themed “Bi Night”- wtf? It’s always “bi night” there if you are a woman, but apparently men only get one night a month, and on that special night (whoopdedoo) if you are a man and don’t have a woman half, you are allowed into the Couples Lounge. Big deal. And- this idea assumes that men who want to go into the Couples Lounge are bi to begin with (and I still can’t figure out why the Couples Lounge is the place where you would extend monthly privileges to bi men, instead of it always being a welcoming space). Last night, it was a situation of three people who simply wanted to be around each other in one of the club spaces. And what about people in poly configurations, like triads? Can they not then enjoy the Couples Lounge? Perhaps they could get in without notice if they were a man-woman-woman triad, but a man-man-woman triad would, based on our experience last night, would run into some difficulties. That’s an issue.

Now that I have gotten my little rantiness out of the way, I have to say that I checked another super fun and exploratory thing off my sexy list- DVP! (double vaginal penetration).

I. loved. it.

Big surprise, haha! Given my love of multiple cocks, I had a feeling that I would dig it, and I did. And, it was surprisingly easy, logistically. I was riding our friend, and J came behind me in doggy style position. I think my pussy has perhaps gotten used to fairly wide insertions, with all of the play J and I do with his cock sheaths. It felt amazingly good!!! After J came, it was so hot to have J’s come sliding around another cock inside me. Mmm, delicious.

Student Things

I am so excited to start school!! Next week!

The line-up:

-Psychology for Everyone (for my lack of psych background- it reminds me of my Physics for Future Presidents class from college. haha)
-Theory & Practice in Family Therapy
-Introduction to Marriage, Couples, & Family Therapy
-Equity in Family Therapy
-Ethical & Legal Issues
-LGBTQ & Family Therapy
-The Enneagram: Exploring a Tool for Clinical Practice (so stinkin’ excited for this one!)

Whoo!! I am going to be a busy, but totally enriched and happy, girl. 

I finally feel like I am on my path. And it feels awesome. I remember a peer from my Masters of Public Health program who was, from the outside, totally on the ball, motivated, and driven. And she found fulfilling work soon after the program as a natural outcome from the satisfaction she got from her hard work during the program. I feel like how it seemed she felt. I feel on top of my shit and it feels so good!

*smiling wide* *looking forward to getting to go back to school* *looking forward to the opportunity to work hard*

Consent, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism

J and I were at the nude beach in Maui back in May, and there was a couple that sneaked into the bushes above the beach and fucked. I don’t have a problem with public fucking (it gets me off, too)- I do have a problem with forcing other people to be around public fucking without their consent.

That’s why I think swingers’ and sex clubs are awesome- because everyone there has consented to being around sex.

And just tonight- J and I were supposed to meet a new couple via Skype. They had expressed wanting to have Skype sex, and J was clear in telling them, several times via email and text, that we were not that into Skype sex and that we preferred to just chat first. They called, we answered. They were naked. They told us they were just going to go for it anyway. Semi-shocked and open-mouthed, J and I said hi, turned off our microphone and video and let them fool around for a few minutes before they ended the call. (They ended up texting J later and admitting they were “off” and “it must be hard to deal with new couples”- ha!)

Again- I have no problem with Skype sex. I think it can be hot sometimes with the right people and right mood. But, taking advantage of a non-sexual space for your own desires (the phone call was supposed to be friendly, introductory, but not sexual yet), with the knowledge that not everyone around you is comfortable, or that people might not be, is not okay. It’s weird.

There was a great thread going on in our Open FB group today about public exposure of body parts and snapping pictures or video for personal use later. I would feel weird (and potentially violated) if I knew that a stranger had taken a picture of my crotch or my ass, or taken a video of me dancing, without my consent. So I wouldn’t do that to someone else. I would ask first (I would like to think that I would!)

While we were in Maui in May, I happened (oddly) to run into a customer of mine from work at the nude beach. He asked if he could take my picture for a fee. I told him Yes, but with my swimsuit on. He agreed. We took the photos. He gave me money. We were both happy. I think this is a great example of a consensual exchange of public exposure of one’s body for someone else’s personal use (in this case, photos) (not that money has to be involved of course).

What do you think? Does being in a public space change the terms of exposure and who can capture the exposure? What are ethical boundaries around exhibitionism and voyeurism within public spaces?

Recent Thoughts on Sex & Love

I have been thinking about all of this for a couple of months, and different things are gelling for me right now. Just a smattering of thoughts:

1- It is strange for me to encounter value judgements on different kinds of sex. For instance, in the small reading I have done on chakras, it seems that “tantric” sex is deemed the “highest” or “best” kind of sex. 

2- And yet, I have also been realizing, that for me: casual sex can be hot for certain encounters, but otherwise it is just kind of entertaining as an activity. Like watching a great movie.

3- They are each satisfying in their own way. I don’t think I would ever be satisfied with only tantric-like sex or only casual sex. Both feed me in different ways, both contribute to my sexual satisfaction and sexual identity.

4- Tantric-like and casual sex aren’t a binary, but define a spectrum for me. Depending on the connection with the person and the context and the meaning within the relationship, different experiences will fall at different points on that spectrum.5- I love Aggie Sez’s article on “Riding the relationship escalator.” Just, love it. Even though I have been in a primary relationship, and enjoy the coupled relationship I have, I have been aggravated for the past couple of years trying to navigate how non-escalator relationships can look and act like. And aggravated when, in trying to figure out for myself what that non-escalator can look like, I frustrate others I am trying to relate to.

6- For me, love is distinct from the relationship model within which I find it. For instance, I deeply love J and have also decided within the past seven years that I feel compatible enough with him to have a long-term relationship. In other cases, I can feel sweet, intense, caring, passionate, friendly, fiery, gentle, or another kind of love for someone, see all the ways that we are compatible as friends, play partners, lovers, or some other kind of partner, and see all the ways that we aren’t compatible to be a different kind of partner. For me, loving someone is not an indicator of the “seriousness” of the relationship. I think love is serious, but I also find it so easy to love another person, and I have been able to divorce loving feelings from needing to fit within the “right” relationship model (I have recognized the need to get off the relationship escalator if I am going to continue feeling love for other people- at least, I think I have been able to do this).

Polyamory Information for Therapists

I ran across this amazing poster on Reddit. If you are looking for a therapist or counselor, this poster has excellent information about polyamory and can provide a starting place for helping your therapist understand something they may have minimal knowledge of or experience with. I think I’ll pass it along to my counselor as well!

I Need Your Love- Is That True?

I loved this second Byron Katie book I read: I Need Your Love- Is That True? She takes her method and applies it to something that I know I have struggled with my whole life- trying to gain the love, approval, and appreciation of people around me and then, once I think I have it, hold on to it for dear life. For some people this love/approval/appreciation seeking behavior can manifest in romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, at work, etc. I can definitely remember and pinpoint experiences where I have sought someone else’s approval as validation of my worth in some way in many different facets of my life. It’s been truly moving for me to read this book (in conjunction with her first book, Loving What Is) and apply it to my life.
Here are some of my favorite quotes and passages:

“…seeking love and approval is a sure way to lose the awareness of both.” (p5)
 “Chronic approval seekers don’t realize that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their efforts.” (p6)

“When people take a fearful and rigid stance, they often bring about what they’re trying to prevent. Turnarounds open more space. They allow you to see how things can work out in a peaceful way, beyond what you had considered when you were defending a position.” (p21)

“A built-in part of developing a personality that’s designed to please is constantly watching for signs that you’re succeeding. This can be a stressful way to live. Anxiously focusing on the other person, checking for approval or disapproval, leaves nobody at home in yourself, nobody noticing your thoughts or taking responsibility for your feelings. This cuts you off from the source of real contentment. The outward focus also leaves unnoticed and unquestioned the inevitably painful thought that if you have to transform yourself to find love and approval, there must be something wrong with the way you are.” (p40)

From an exercise on separating out manners and politeness from approval-seeking:
“Notice when you make excuses, explain, or justify yourself… What do you experiences when you defend, qualify, or explain even your very existence? What are you afraid we’ll think or do if you remain silent and don’t defend, justify, qualify, explain yourself, or tell us what really happened unless we ask?” (p43)

“Your understanding of another person is limited by what you think you already know.” (p51)

“How can you know that a particular relationship is good or not? When you are out of sync with goodness, you know it: You aren’t happy. And if a relationship is anything less than good, you need to question your thoughts. It’s your responsibility to find your own way back to a relationship with yourself that makes sense.
When you have that sweet relationship with yourself, your partner is an added pleasure. It’s over-the-top grace.
Romantic love is the story of how you need another person to complete you. It’s an absolutely insane story. My experience is that I need no one to complete me. As soon as I realize that, everyone completes me.” (p70)

“We use our beauty, our cleverness, our charm to capture someone for a partnership, as if he were an animal. And then when he wants to get out of the cage, we’re furious. That doesn’t sound very caring to me. It’s not self-love. I want my husband to want what he wants. And I also notice that I don’t have a choice. That’s self-love. He does what he does, and I love that. That’s what I want, because when I’m at war with reality, it hurts.” (p73)

“This book could have been called The Two Major Universal Whoppers About Love… one…: ‘I need to win people over to make them like me’ (also known as ‘I can manipulate your love and approval’). Now we’ve come to the other one: ‘If you love me, you’ll do what I want.'” (p76)
–> “…there are two basic misconceptions about love: first, that you have to manipulate others to get it, and second, that love is about getting what you want.” (p88)

“If you’re not a clear communicator, you may live your life unloved and misunderstood, not ever realizing that if you just said what you wanted, your whole world would change…
Notice that once you have separated love from want, simply asking becomes much easier. But you have to ask. People can’t second-guess our desires; they aren’t psychic on cue.” (p83)

“I can tell you that when I have people’s approval is when I have it. How do I know that I need their approval? I have it. How do I know that I don’t need their approval? I don’t have it. And in either case, it has nothing to do with me. It’s their story about me that they’re approving of. What’s important is: Am I living in ways that I myself approve of? When I question my thoughts, I like the mind I live with. It not only leaves me alone, it leaves you alone too. That’s very peaceful, and I love it.” (p128)

I love her chapter on “What if My Partner is Flawed?” Using her method isn’t about just passively accepting everything and everyone in your life, but about questioning stressful thoughts. Questioning your thoughts is an active process, and will always result in peaceful decisions, whether they change your situation or not.

“The Work is never passive, though its results are always peaceful.” (p158)

“You may or may not be willing to put up with your partner’s apparent flaws. Whether you stay in or leave a relationship, there are always two ways to do it. One is in peace, with love; the other is at war, with anger and blame… Clearly see that his flaws are flaws in your own vision. Then let the decision make itself. It always happens right on time, and not one second before.” (p159)

“It’s not your job to understand me- it’s mine.” (p160)

In her chapter called “Five Keys to Freedom in Love” she calls out these five things:

1. Recognizing that “The word need suggests a permanent state of mind… How many of your problems today come from believing a thoughts about the future?” (p177)
2. You can make it without your fear: “Some thoughts seem too frightening to examine. Thoughts like ‘I couldn’t make it without you’ or ‘If my children died I couldn’t go on living’ can terrify you, and then, instead of asking if you really believe them, you might push them back down or live as if they were true and, as a result, feel anxious without knowing why.” (p179)
“Inquiry allows you to take the fear out of loss before anything happens to those you love. It also reveals the harm that fearful beliefs do to your relationships when everybody is still around and doing just fine.” (p180)
3. This moment should be happening: “One way to be miserable and confused is to conjure up a long-term need…Another way is to believe thoughts that object to the present moment. The two have a lot in common. In both cases you’re living in thoughts that separate you from what is; you’re arguing with reality instead of enjoying or simply dealing with it.” (p183)
4. ‘This is just what I needed’: the direct route to getting your needs met: “The direct route is to let reality be the guide to your needs. ‘What I need is what I have.’ This is not something to believe, it’s the way things are right now, whether you believe it or not.” (p189)
5. Whose business am I in now?: “It’s confusing and painful when you try to mind someone else’s business. This is especially true when the person whose business you’ve stepped into is someone you love. Often, you don’t realize that you’re doing this. Every time you try to second-guess what someone else is thinking or feeling, every time you believe that you know what’s good or bad for them, you have moved out of your own business and into someone else’s.” (p192)

“The only obstacle to loving other people is believing what you think, and you’ll come to see that that’s also the only obstacle to loving yourself… If you have any trouble with loving yourself, your work isn’t done.” (p204)

“Love is what you are already. Love doesn’t seek anything. It’s already complete. It doesn’t want, doesn’t need, has no shoulds. It already has everything it wants, it already is everything it wants, just the way it wants it. So when I hear people say that they love someone and want to be loved in return, I know they’re not talking about love. They’re talking about something else.” (p245)

Breaking Up Stinks

Even when it’s between two pretty self-reflective and kind people. Even when it’s a calm conversation. Even when it’s pretty clear both people just wanted different things. Even when even when even when. It just hurts.

“Relationships END; it doesn’t mean they were a failure, or that your ex-parters are bad people.”

“You can’t expect to HAVE what you want if you don’t ASK for what you want.”
“Just because you FEEL BAD doesn’t necessarily mean someone did something WRONG.”
“If you’re AFRAID to say it, that means you NEED to say it.”
“EXPECTATION on your part does not incur OBLIGATION on someone else’s.”
“Love is ABUNDANT.”
“Relationships are often different in THEORY than in PRACTICE.”
“Life is CHANGE.”
“All of us are terrible at predicting how we will feel in new circumstances.”
“When you hurt someone-and you will- suck it up, take responsibility, and do what you can to make it RIGHT.”
“Feelings are not FACT.”