Hump Day Links

What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure? (Sorry the ending is so cheesy everyone)

Five Lessons From Poly Relationships That Everyone Can Benefit From

This Is What The Female Orgasm Really Feels Like

To give you an idea of the lack of sex-positivity of the community I grew up in: Bikini coffee shop agrees to change drink names

She’s not ugly in my opinion, and her body is amazing. Inspiring me to practice my head and handstands: 10+ Reasons I Love My Ugly Body

And this gem that was posted in my Open FB group:


Feeling Like a Fraud

This post has been brewing subconsciously and consciously for quite some time, so here goes.

I love talking about relationship diversity- it’s something I am really passionate about. I love talking with other people who are new to ethical nonmonogamy about “it all”: jealousy, cultural influences and norms, family of origin influences, compersion, boundaries and rules, communication skills, personality differences, identities, preferences, kinks, porn, feminism, and more. I could do it for hours and hours. I feel like I am supporting and contributing to an important cause, something that is changing our society for the better, and I feel proud to be part of the wave. I obviously love writing about ethically nonmonogamous/polyamorous relationships and all of their triumphs and pitfalls.

What I don’t love recently (the past six to twelve months) is another feeling that has come alongside all of the pleasant ones: that I am a fake.

I should specify: I don’t feel like an “ethical nonmonogamous fake.” J and I have had sexy fun times throughout this past year, and they’ve all been swell, as far as I can remember. Friends with benefits relationships and fuck buddy relationships are satisfying and fun and largely void of yucky emotions for me.

I feel like a “poly fake.” Though, calling myself a “poly fake” isn’t quite right, because I feel like I am capable of holding another relationship of depth and intensity and caring, and giving that relationship the time and energy and love it needs. And although not pertinent to my fakeness or not, J is obviously capable of supporting me in that.

What I question is my ability to ever be “good enough” at poly so that J can also truly experience having another relationship. I know how I felt and acted three years ago and two years ago and a year ago, and while my understanding of myself and my triggers and emotions has deepened significantly, I don’t know if I have had enough practice for getting skills under my belt to where I can actually sit with gross feelings and not bother J with them so much that he can actually function in another relationship.

I don’t know how he feels about this, truly. I don’t know if he’ll read this, and completely agree. I don’t know if he’ll read this, and remember past events differently than me.

I have said numerous times that I have made a commitment to him and to our relationship, and with that comes a commitment toward working through gross things in part so that I grow as a person and in part so that he has the relationship he wants and deserves. I come back to that commitment often, and I worry about whether it’s good enough.

Am I enough? With my shortcomings and past mistakes and past hurts? Is my striving toward independence and separation in our relationship enough?

I brought up this struggle in my women’s group recently. The response I received from most of the women there was a “levels” approach: have you taken things slowly enough? Have you asked for specific boundaries and worked up to more challenging situations? You’ll make it to the next level eventually!


I appreciated my one dear friend’s response: maybe there are no “levels.” We’re not playing a “poly video game” in which you have to “win” each level in order to proceed. Maybe there is no hierarchy of “poly”ness. There’s just you, and your comfort levels, and your path.

I weigh those different approaches in myself, and I know that for me it’s both: I like to proceed slowly, to know that I get to have a say in how my comfort levels are tried and tested, to know that my partner(s) will respect my discomforts and work with me to grow. I also know that as of yet, I am not some expansive blossoming flower of pure flowing love, able to completely and freely give up a relationship if it needs to go away. I know myself, and I know my sticky spots; I have lots of them. I also know I am afraid of having my fears go away completely: what would that life look like and feel like?

My counselor today, after talking to me about how my body image disorder is exacerbated by being around more naked people as a result of our open relationship, asked me how I deal with anxiety when J is dating other people. And she asked me, rhetorically, if it was healthy to do something that causes me so much anxiety. Immediately I withdrew from her, because the question reeked of poly-misunderstanding and phobia. Good grief! I am here to face anxiety related to my body! How can I not use a similar approach for to my relationships?? So that was not super helpful.

I guess this post is just my continuous self-reflection: my comfort levels change slowly, and that’s okay. I’m trying to focus on relaxing, working on my self-confidence and letting go of personal insecurities, and being grateful for how life changes. I don’t need to feel like a fraud, but I guess welcoming those feelings will help me move through them.

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!


Satisfying Connections & Emotions

I had a really fabulous weekend reconnecting with lovely people!

Not too long ago in counseling, I was telling my therapist that it sort of seemed to be the nature of having an open relationship that I experience loss often: Well we used to date them, and then we didn’t, and then we were friends, and now we haven’t seen them recently, and I miss seeing them. Oh, and I was dating her and it was an amazing experience, and now that relationship is just gone. And they live further away and we just don’t see them very often. Etc. etc. It makes for a dynamic social network, with people changing from new friends to play partners to close friends to romantic partners to close friends to more distant friends and back to close friends. It can be a lot for me to keep up with emotionally.

But this weekend we got to spend time with a lot of the people that I hold extremely close to my heart. Out dinner with some amazing friends that we haven’t spent much time with this fall; catching up, laughing, and eating felt so good. Some social and sexy time with our other sweet friends who we see a couple times a month; comfortable, relaxing, and satisfying social time and group sex always feels connecting for me. And our other besties over for dinner another night: real conversation about our real “stuff” made me feel totally in tune with them once again. Having some real social interactions with the people who I/we have gone through so much with in the past couple of years was deeply needed I think. And so I am so grateful that this weekend opened up and gave me all of that.

Now to switch gears for a minute:

J and I were at our swingers club on Friday (when I/we had social and sexy time), and it was the first time that J played with another person without me. And I was totally fine. I kept scanning myself for negative reactions and emotions, and I simply didn’t have them. There were pieces in place that allowed me to feel so comfortable, and hopeful that he had a good time. Our sweet friends were there, and I am so comfortable with them, that I just folded myself into them. If they hadn’t been there, I think I may have experienced some social anxiety. Also, J’s slight ambivalence about the situation helped me feel completely non-threatened by the person and proposed play. So, it would have been a different story I think if I didn’t have friends to be with and if J had fallen in love with this person at first sight. But as it was, it was totally relaxing to experience the compersive and easy nature of the situation.

This weekend was full of things to make my heart full and grateful: amazing friends, real connection, and pleasant, loving emotions. Happiness. Love. Sexy times. Yummy food.

(Not a bad way to kick off a week that will be full of family- I’m sure I’ll be writing on various things sparked by the holiday coming up. It’s really awesome to have so many positive connections and emotions salient before I embark on family time.)

Rough Patches in Our Open Relationship

My latest DA post went live: The Cons I’ve Experienced in My Open Relationship.

This one was tough for me to write at the time, and is still not my favorite to read. It’s just kind of downer for me to reflect on some of the major difficulties I have had! Haha :) But I suppose it’s also a great thing to see that I/we got through them.

Recognizing the Third in Monogamous Relationships

My latest post is live: Can You Be Monogamous and Attracted to Other People? (I like my title better, haha) I based this post off of Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity, in which she mentions the specter of “the third” (i.e. other people you may be attracted to) and how some couples choose to ignore the third, recognize the third, or invite the third in to their relationship. I wanted to explore some ways that monogamous couples could push the boundaries of their relationship to incorporate sexual explorations, and deepen their sense of honesty and trust.

Here’s my intro:

In Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity,” she discusses the “shadow of the third.”
That is the fact that even when in coupled relationships marked by commitment and love, we often (maybe always) find ourselves attracted to other people.
By acknowledging the third, keeping your communication transparent and striving to know and understand your partner and yourself, cheating may be less likely to happen (thus preserving the commitment to monogamy you both have made).
What are ways two people can be sexually monogamous, but widen the door for more honesty and trust around sexual desires, fantasies and exploration?
The foundation for this is solid trust in your partner and relationship as sexually monogamous and a healthy way of managing your jealousy and insecurities.
I also believe it is a privilege to learn new things about someone, not a right. Being in a romantic relationship doesn’t give you the right to know about your partner’s private sexual thoughts.
If they, and you, are able to share this information, you should take it as a sign of the health and resiliency of your relationship.

I go on to offer the following ways that couples can be monogamous but add honesty and new sexual flavors to their lives; make sure to go read the post on DA so you can see my further explanation!:

Having opposite sex/opposite gender friends
Reminisce about the past
Watch porn and read erotica together
Share fantasies and attractions
Is flirting ok?
Visit strip clubs together
Visit a swingers’ club or party to watch and be watched 

I would love to hear from others: what are other ways that you can be monogamous and recognize “the third” in your relationship?

Jealousy Teleseminar

I was happy to listen to a jealousy teleseminar facilitated by Kathy Labriola and Dawn Davidson last week. They discussed some new techniques for managing jealousy- who doesn’t like those?? :)

One of these techniques was Kathy’s jealousy pie chart- you can read more about it in her new Jealousy Workbook (available for pre-order). Essentially, you create a pie chart and assign what she names as the three main emotions behind jealousy: sadness, anger, and fear. By targeting which emotions, and inquiring further into what specifically you are sad, angry, or fearful about, you can work on drastically cutting down your experience of jealousy. Here was the quick pie chart I constructed while I was on the phone last week (the questions are taken from one of the worksheets Kathy provided; I bolded those things that I found to resonate most with my experiences of jealousy):

In addition, Dawn discussed a self-applied Eye Moment, Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) technique. EMDR is not recommended for use except for with a highly skilled therapist, but this simple exercise can be used on your own. Basically:

Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Cross your arms and put one hand on each shoulder (your right hand on your left shoulder and vice versa). Think about an event that triggered jealous feelings for you. Immerse yourself as best you can in that experience- what happened, how you felt, what your reaction was. As you think about that experience, begin to tap your shoulders, alternating between your right and left shoulder. As you tap, allow your eyes (while closed) to look at your right and left shoulders. So when you tap your left shoulder, look at your left shoulder, and then tap your right shoulder and move your eyes to look at your right shoulder. Try to hold onto you jealousy-provoking experience as best you can while you do this. You may notice that you have a more and more difficult time remembering and paying attention to your memory. 

This technique is interesting to me- I think it is basically a feeling-diffusion technique, one meant to simmer yourself down. One caller during the Q&A mentioned that she found it extremely useful for all sorts of stressful situations and feelings. I actually have used it laying in bed as a way to quiet my mind: I don’t even need to physically tap my shoulders. I simply imagine my right hand tapping my left shoulder and vice versa and move my eyes back and forth across the midline of my vision. It’s worked to help me relax and fall asleep.

I love coming across new jealousy management techniques and hearing how other people treat and manage this (sometimes) gnarly emotion. It was really awesome to listen to other people ask questions, and then during their brief conversations with the facilitators, go through pretty quick “ah-ha” moments about how they could better negotiate boundaries, ask for things they want, and manage their jealousy. It’s pretty transformational!

Recent Articles & Resources

Some recently seen articles I wanted to pass on:

J found these great (/annoyingly funny) pieces on The Onion:

On a family watching sexually explicit movies
Abstinent only sex education
Marriage counseling is a scam
Hatred of marriage counselor

For those of you as fed up as me with all of the hype about “hook up culture,” here is a study that discusses how it’s a bit (and by “a bit” I mean very) overblown: Study dispels notions of ‘no-holds barred’ sex on campus

Anyone want more of Marty Klein’s great wisdom? Sign up for his teleseminar series!! (Probably most interesting to those working in the mental health/psychology/counseling field)

And, lastly, today Dawn Davidson and Kathy Labriola are offering a free teleseminar on managing jealousy! It’s going to be awesome! RSVP even if you can’t listen live so you can listen to the recording later!

Chakras & Applications

I recently read David Pond’s Chakras for Beginners (thanks M!), and loved it. Specifically, I loved the new metaphor (new to me) for thinking about my intentionality, energy, and manifestations of thoughts into behaviors.

I have, since last summer, focused on rebuilding my power- speaking up for what I need, articulating what I believe, and working on putting those thoughts and ideas into action. I often use a visualization exercise where I imagine my center and core turning gold and growing larger and larger. Little did I know (consciously; I am sure chakra-like messages and images have seeped into my sub-conscious throughout my life) that the third chakra is located in your abdomen, associated with the color yellow, and is the one associated with power.

Reading about the ideas behind the other chakras was enlightening. Here is my (super) basic recap:

Root chakra: associated with security, base of tailbone, red
Second chakra: associated with pursuit of pleasure, groin, orange
Third chakra: associated with power, core, yellow
Fourth chakra: associated with love, heart, green and pink
Fifth chakra: associated with creativity and speaking up, throat, sky blue
Sixth chakra: associated with intuition, third eye, indigo
Seventh chakra: associated with spirituality, crown of head, violet and white

My favorite part of this book were the meditations and visualization exercises included at the end. They basically guide you to imagine white, cosmic energy running through your body, activating each chakra. You breathe in the pure, white energy, and let out any toxic, muddy energy from each chakra. You focus on what each chakra means and concentrate on gaining balance in each chakra. All of the meditations have allowed me to feel more centered, grounded, energized, and ready to work on whatever is in front of me in the moment.

The main thread throughout the book (balancing your energy), was helpful for me in reflecting on where in my life I could put more of my self-growth work. It was also helpful to consider how if any of the lower chakras are unbalanced, all of those above it will be out of whack, too (and the unbalanced lower chakra will manifest in issues in the chakras above it. For example, [according to Pond] if you feel insecure in your root chakra, like you can’t secure your physical environment, it is likely you will feel jealous [a manifestation of imbalance] when engaging in your pursuits of pleasure. Interesting for me to consider. I have been trying to really focus the past week on simply feeling secure in myself physically, financially, emotionally. Like an entirely whole person who has her shit together and isn’t going anywhere. Like no matter what else is happening around me, I will remain whole, healthy, and happy. Like no matter who I am partnered to or where I am living or what I am working on, I will remain whole, healthy, and happy. I like the feeling this focus gives me.). And, I really liked the idea that the first three chakras are about the ego, while the top three are about the interdependent and cosmic nature of life. Both of these energies converge in the heart. It has been surprisingly helpful to focus my energy on my heart chakra when I think I might be experiencing jealousy- I recognize the negative emotion, how it is associated with my ego feeling insecure/threatened/etc, and move my attention to a higher point in my body (my heart; when I feel negative emotions I tend to focus all of my energy on how it physically feels, and those emotions tend to manifest in my stomach and abdomen. Moving my attention to my chest and heart is really refreshing) and focus on feeling compassionate and universal love. I have been truly surprised with how much more open-hearted I feel from this exercise. Since finishing the book, I have been using a visualization exercise for areas that need special attention right now- my root chakra and my heart chakra. I think the focus and meditation I gave to each helped me get through a rough few days (maybe why I didn’t feel a sense of impending doom when J and I were in conflict?). This week also gave me great opportunity to focus on mobilizing my throat chakra (speaking my mind, coming up with creative solutions to challenges).

Great read, loved it, plan on reading more on chakras! :)