Current Reading

I just finished (in two days) David Levithan’s new book Two Boys Kissing. It is, obviously, a fast read, and one of the sweetest stories I have read in a long time. Not sweet in a saccharine way, but sweet in an achingly love-me/accept-me/born-this-way kind of way. The stories weave together beautifully, and the characters are portraits of common experiences. I loved it. Check it out!

Getting out of social media and digital connections. Watch this video for a poetic, rhyming reminder for the need to connect face-to-face, in-person with real people. It’s given me motivation to put myself out there recently, to say “yes” to social encounters that make me feel anxious. I can’t expect to make new connections without meeting people in person. I won’t know if I like someone or if they like me until we spend time together in person. I do think social media offers us a way to stay in touch with people we are not geographically close to, but when it becomes a voyeuristic black hole, I think it does start to damage our social and emotional worlds. Close your computer, leave your phone, and join the world again.

This post has been hugely popular lately: Stop Saying “I Have a Boyfriend” To Deflect Unwanted Attention. I think the author makes an excellent point. By using a male partner as an excuse for continuing a social interaction, we perpetuate an assumption that men speak for us, instead of us (women) speaking for us. Using the existence of a relationship seems a little different to me (Oh, I’m sorry but I’m married- instead of Sorry, I have a boyfriend), although it follows a similar path. I have shied away from using this excuse a number of times, for various reasons. Before J and I were open, I remember feeling uncomfortable using this line because I didn’t want someone to just stop talking to me because I had a boyfriend- I would still enjoy the social interaction, flirtation, or attention and didn’t want to someone to just stop interacting with me because I had a boyfriend. Since we have opened up, I have often opened up a complicated conversation by not simply saying “I have a boyfriend” or “I’m not interested,” because I like educating people on open relationships. The few times I have used the “I have a boyfriend” line I have felt cheap: I haven’t been honest about my situation and I haven’t done the open community any favors and I’ve given my agency away to a male partner/relationship as opposed to giving the honest “I’m not interested.” Complicated!

Poly Speed Dating in Portland!

“June 17: Poly Speed Dating!

Coming up in June: Portland’s very first inclusive, all-gender Poly Speed Dating night. It’s going to be awesome… please share with friends!

This is speed dating for nonomonogamous folks of all genders and sexualities, kinky and vanilla alike, ages 21+. We pair you up using a matchmaking system developed by relationship renegades in San Francisco. Couples and groups can date together or separately.

The event is Portland-based, but if you’re from Seattle or beyond and you are into meeting and dating people in the Portland/Vancouver area, please come on down!

Wondering if this is really for you? Have a look at the registration page: you can set your sights on half a dozen gender categories, and ask to meet kinky or non-kinky hotties, or both. Don’t love mingling? There’s an Introvert Corner to escape to during the breaks between dating rounds.

(We’re cooking up more special-interests events in the future. Sign up for email updates or send us your ideas at the website.)

Read more and REGISTER ONLINE at

We’re on Facebook too…
Share this event and invite your entire polycule:
Like our page and get nudged about future events:“



Confessions of a Working Girl

I finished this memoir this past weekend, and it was overall a good read. Not super well written, but the content was full of interesting and entertaining bits. I love sex work memoirs and this one definitely filled the need of mine to read a good one. So, thank you Miss S for sharing your story!

I started my new job today, and it didn’t take long to have an interesting conversation with my supervisor about strippers and sex work. No one at my new job knows about my dancing experience, so having this conversation was weird for me. I was talking with all of this authority and insight, but had zero intentions of explaining how I could. My supervisor wanted to know what I thought about the difference between sex trafficking and sex work was, and whether sex work in which a woman has a “pimp” could still be empowering and free of violence.

Here are some various comments from the both of us (I don’t remember the entire conversation or flow, but thought they might be interesting to share nonetheless):

My supervisor: “My daughter came home and was sort of processing the fact that she has a lot of friends who are dancers. She was particularly worried about one who was sort of going down a path toward prostitution.”

Me: “I think sex work probably falls along a continuum. It’s very gray. There could be one woman who has a pimp and finds a lot of benefits to it, while another could feel extremely controlled and manipulated and stuck working at a brothel with a madam.”

Me: “Sex trafficking is different than sex workers who choose to profit from sex in some way.”

My supervisor: “Yeah, what about a woman whose partner doesn’t let her work and doesn’t give her any money [constituting financial abuse] and forces her to have sex? Is this sex trafficking?”

I am so excited to be working in another open-minded and social justice oriented program, and one in which I will still be able to be involved with our local sex worker outreach coalition (now professionally instead of in a volunteer role!) More to come I am sure :)


Cuckold Books

I was asked a few months ago to review a couple of new cuckold books. It’s not my particular kink (J isn’t turned on by any humiliation, and I don’t think I am either), but that wasn’t going to stop me from reading sexy books. I knew I was probably not going to be turned on from reading them, but I simply wanted a taste of what could turn on someone with a cuckolding kink.

While the story lines I am sure do it for some folks, I simply couldn’t finish them. And not because of the story lines or the characters or the sex or anything else. It was because the writing just was not very good. The book I started (Southern Belle Cuckold) was entertaining, but I could not get past the redundancy and frequent unclear sentences. So, I am moving on to other books.

Right now, I am reading or about to start:

Confessions of  a Working Girl, by Miss S

Sex Work: Writings By Women in the Sex Industry

The Jealousy Workbook, by Kathy Labriola

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex

Any good reads on your bookshelf/night table/e-reader right now?

Jealousy Workbook

I received Kathy Labriola’s newest book in the mail, and I am so excited to crack it open! I’ll post a more full review once I’ve read it through, but wanted to put in a quick plug now. Kathy is a wonderful counselor, and I can’t say enough good things about her other book, Love in Abundance. This book, The Jealousy Workbook, looks chock full of exercises and techniques for understanding your jealousy, your partner’s jealousy, and for managing and circumventing it. She also brings in techniques practiced by other big names in open relationships. I’m excited to dive in, and encourage you all to check it out as well!


Underdogs & Misfits

I recently finished Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. And, saw “Dallas Buyers Club” (if someone fits the bill as an underdog or misfit, it’s Ron Woodruff, imo). I love, love, loved that movie.

I felt so comforted reading and watching these stories, likely because I have been feeling like an underdog/misfit myself. I have felt like an outsider many times in my life (a huge motivation for going to Berkeley for college), but never so much as right now. I also really appreciated Gladwell’s reframing of what it means to be the little person (in his traditional style). It’s not about being weaker or smaller or having less resources and then miraculously overcoming a situation: there are advantages to things we normally see as disadvantages, disadvantages to things we normally see as advantages, some level of difficulty that actually leaves us stronger in the end, and limits to the big person’s power (power has its limits). There are so many ways in which the underdog actually has the advantages in a tricky situation, and may actually yield more power than the “powerful” person.

One of the parts I liked the most from Gladwell’s book is about the Big Five theory of personality, and how innovators tend to be not only open to new ideas and conscientious and persistent, but also tend to be pretty darn disagreeable. (You can take a free test here; it measures openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. I’m relatively to pretty high on all of them according to this test). Being disagreeable, according to Gladwell, isn’t just about being rude or selfish- it’s about bucking social norms and expectations in favor of pursuing ideas and values outside the box or norm. In this way, I would think of myself as pretty disagreeable. Not that it’s always comfortable for me to be disagreeable in this sense, but I think I have become more that way. (In the way that agreeableness is traditionally discussed-unselfish, helpful, etc-, I am pretty agreeable.)

“The reasonable man [woman! person!] adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ~George Bernard Shaw

Poly Ideas in “Ecotopia”

I was assigned to read a novel for a class next semester (assuming I am still in school). The class is called Introduction to Ecopsychology, the book Ecotopia. The book itself is a little dorky, the writing okay, some presentations of gender and race off (it was written in 1975), but the ideas inherent in the story are thought-provoking (that an ecologically sound country would totally revolutionize school, the work week would be 20 hours, women run the government, cars are left behind in favor of bikes and high speed rail, etc.).

I loved reading the following passages, too, that hint at values within ethical nonmonogamy and polyamory and a societal structure of relationship that echoes how I could see relationships operating if polyamory were the norm instead of the rule:

…It turns out she [Marissa, the main character's newfound lover in Ecotopia] has a regular lover in the camp. But has somehow arranged it so she can be with me during my stay. Lover is blond, shy, blushes a lot about other things but doesn’t seem at all jealous about his woman having made love with me. Evidently there are other women he can console himself with! Wasn’t sure till nightfall who would sleep with whom. But she came to the little cabin I’m assigned to, quite unanxious about the whole situation.

…It’s as if the whole American psychodrama of mutual suspicion between the sexes, demands and counterdemands and our desperate working at sex like a problem to be solved, has left my head. Everything comes from our feelings…” (p. 58-9).


I don’t see, when I look at Ecotopian love relationships, or marriages, that awful sense of constriction that we felt, the impact of a rigid sterotyped set of expectations- that this was the way we were going to relate to each other forever, that we had to, in order to somehow survive in a hostile universe. Ecotopians’ marriages shade off more gradually into extended family connections, into friendships with both sexes. Individuals don’t perhaps stand out as sharply as we do; they don’t present themselves as problems or gifts to each other, more as companions. Nobody is was essential (or as expendable) here as with us. It is all fearfully complex and dense to me, yet I can see that it’s the density that sustains them- there are always good solid alternatives to any relationship, however intense. Thus they don’t have our terrible agonizing worries when a relationship is rocky. This saddens me somehow- it seems terribly unromantic. It’s their usual goddamned realism: they are taking care of themselves, of each other. Yet I can see too that it’s that very realism that allows them to be silly and irresponsible sometimes, because they know they can afford it; mistakes are never irreparable, they are never going to be cast out alone, no matter what they do… And perhaps this even makes marriages last better- they have lower expectations than we do, in some ways. A marriage is a less central fact of a person’s life, and therefore it is not so crucial that it be altogether satisfying (as if anything or anybody was ever altogether satisfying.) …” (p 117-8).


Cuckold Reads

I was contacted by an editor asking if I would like to review a couple of new cuckold books coming out in the next couple of months. Although I am slammed with school, how can I pass on something like that?! I hope to be able to read them by the end of December and post my reviews of them. (It’s funny: J is not even interested because cuckolding stories totally turn him off. They don’t turn me on, but I am sure I will at least be entertained by them!)

Here are the cover descriptions:

The Education of a Cuckold ($12.95/5×8 Trade Paperback, $4.95/eBook; 182 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-544-4)
Jason is a smart, handsome high school kid, but when he falls hard for Beth, he just can’t drum up enough confidence to bring their close friendship to the next level. Meanwhile he has to watch her date other guys. At the end of the summer before college, Jason finally discovers Beth’s secret: she is sexually voracious. He also makes an uncomfortable discovery about himself: he is too poorly endowed to ever satisfy a woman like Beth. But wait … watching her make it with other men is no small turn-on. College brings more brutal lessons in humility, and Jason despairs of finding his place in the sexual universe. Then, as he begins his adult life, he meets Kristen and for the first time begins to take his extracurricular studies in submission seriously. Under Kristen’s cruel and compassionate tutelage, he learns exactly what it means to embrace his true cuckold nature.

Southern Belle Cuckold ($12.95/5×8 Trade Paperback, $4.95/eBook, 176 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-491-1)
When divorcé Michael meets divorcée Catherine at the gym, he’s convinced that she’s the perfect southern girl whose family will blend harmoniously with his. But Cat is not what she seems, not a tame little southern lamb, cultivated and gently reared to stroke his ego. No, she is a wild rose of Texas, a vixen who will stop at nothing to get satisfaction, even if it means jumping the chauffeur in their wedding limo. And that’s only the beginning. After all, Michael is a loving dad and a good provider, but as far as God’s gifts go, his package isn’t quite what it should be. Catherine needs more, a lot more, and he’d better come to terms with that … or else.

The Husband Swap

J recently read The Husband Swap by Louisa Leontiades. Because he isn’t as into blogging, I decided to interview him about the book and type up his responses instead :)

The basic premise of the memoir: the author and her husband adventure into the world of open relationships and polyamory.

J says Leontiades’ story is the classic “why you don’t open up a struggling relationship” example. J sees through the author’s description that there was very little wrong with the open relationship itself. Instead, the people within the relationship were not happy with each other and wanted different things leading to dramatic experiences.

Leontiades and her husband decide that they want to meet another couple to explore nonmonogamy with. The other couple they end up exploring with also struggles within their coupled relationship (serious mental health issues plague the other woman). J mentioned that it was really interesting to see the different relationship dynamics the author experiences with each man (her first husband and with the other man)- in the fashion of Arianne Cohen’s The Sex Diaries Project, the author has more of a lovers relationship with her first husband and more of an aspirers relationship with the other man.

SPOILER ALERT: The author and her husband are not together at the end of the story. Both couples end up divorcing and actually “swapped partners.” The author has been with the other man from the other couple, married for seven years, has children with him, and they have an open relationship. (Her ex husband and the other woman were also together for a little time.) J was quite shocked to read at the end that Leontiades and her new husband still have an open relationship, given all of the drama that the two couples went through together. Pretty interesting, yeah? It definitely speaks to the potential fluidity of relationships.

This story is a pretty dramatic example of open relationships. J doesn’t see the story as a very positive representation of open relationships, but the author doesn’t blame the relationship structure (she blames “messy” individuals). Leontiades gives a great deal of insight into her emotional world, which is helpful and insightful into the dynamics of her particular story. In fact, the story made J question if poly relationships can ever really work, as the story represented a pattern that he has seen between me and other women we have been in relation to (situations spiraling out of control between the women involved). (However, I have to say J in response: this is blaming the “failure” of poly relationships to the structure and not the individuals in relation to each other. To which I also say: I have been a “messy” individual myself, as you well know. And my internal world has become a lot cleaner in the past couple of years, and in the past year in particular!)

J doesn’t know if he would recommend this story to others; it definitely is not for the poly/open faint-hearted, and probably not the best for someone just exploring open relationships (it sounds like it could scare people away! ha!). It also has little to no advice or how-to structure; it really is just a personal story. It is awesome to have another memoir out there about open relationship experiences (we both really love Jenny Block’s Open) and we hope to read more and more as people have the courage to share so publicly their experiences.

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)

More- Loving What Is

I forgot to include a few things in my last post:

Part of how The Work is so powerful is Byron Katie’s encouragement that one “lives” the turnarounds. This includes making amends with those that you have hurt (even if initially you felt hurt, doing the turnarounds and finding examples of how those are also true sheds light on your part in the hurt occurring). 

For example, she says:

Self-realization is not complete until it lives as action. Live the turnarounds. When you see how you have been preaching to others, go back and make amends, and let them know how difficult it is for you to do what you wanted them to do. Let them know the ways that you manipulated and conned them, how you got angry, used sex, used money, and used guilt to get what you wanted…

Reporting is another powerful way I found to manifest self-realization. In the first year after I woke up to reality, I often went to the people I had been judging and shared my turnarounds and realizations. I reported only what I had discovered about my part in whatever difficulty I was experiencing. (Under no circumstances did I talk about their part.) … You are doing this for your own freedom. Humility is the true resting place. ~p98-99

Also, I love this Q&A from the end of her book:

Q: How can I learn to forgive someone who has hurt me very badly?
A: Judge your enemy, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. See for yourself that forgiveness means discovering that what you thought happened didn’t. Until you can see that there is nothing to forgive, you haven’t really forgiven. No one has ever hurt anyone. No one has ever done anything terrible. There’s nothing terrible except your uninvestigated thoughts about what happened. So whenever you suffer, inquire, look at the thoughts you’re thinking, and set yourself free. Be a child. Start from the mind that knows nothing. Take your ignorance all the way to freedom. ~p297