"I am zero percent interested in my new relationship becoming strictly monogamous," my friend revealed to me recently. A decade after her divorce, a decade of healing, dating, disappointments, and soul-searching has brought her to a place where she feels open and excited about exploring polyamory. But what makes her feel ready? And how does one even get started?
I asked my friend, a mother of three teens, what had changed for her. She said she'd done a lot of internal work and had finally arrived at a place where she felt like she could take care of herself and make herself happy. She feels settled in herself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. "My life is beautiful and wonderful as it is, so let's see what we can find and explore and pull into myself."
But it's more than that. She's also felt a shift in how she wants to relate with other people. "I just feel like I really love having intensely close relationships with people, and that's what I do in my work, and that's how I behave in my life, and I'm just now having the courage to say that's what I want."
I think it's crucial that my friend is in this very grounded state of mind. She has just begun a relationship with a like-minded man and is looking forward to their adventures. This got us wondering about long-married couples who are also interested in exploring polyamory. How do you get started, and how do you make it a positive element in your relationship, especially if you're married?
We asked some experts for their advice. Here are their tips.
1. Make sure your relationship is in good health before you try anything.
"The key to any marriage, monogamous or polyamorous, vanilla or kinky, starts with safe attachment," says Jeffery Sumber, licensed psychotherapist and author of the forthcoming book, Renew Your Vows: Seven Powerful Tools to Ignite the Spark and Transform Your Relationship. "The experience of feeling safe with your partner, both safe to be yourself and safe to explore being someone else, is vital to the success to any long term partnership."
Dedeker Winston, a relationship coach, author of forthcoming book The Thinking Woman's Guide to Polyamory, and member of a polyamorous community, also says that this is an important first step. "Take inventory of your relationship. How well do the two of you communicate? Do you trust each other? Do both of you have a similar vision of what the ideal romantic or sexual life would look like? What excites you about the prospect of opening up your marriage and what terrifies you? What are your insecurities?"
2. Think about why you want to try polyamory.
"Be as honest and vulnerable as possible," Winston advises. "Be aware of whether you are making this choice to bring more love, affection, intimacy, and adventure to your lives or if you are making this choice to fix something in the relationship."
3. Do some research.
Winston recommends looking for stories from people who are practicing polyamory in a healthy way. "There are plenty of communities online, as well as numerous useful books." She recommends Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cecilda Jetha and The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Winston is also a co-author of the informative blog and website Polyamory.com. ...
Prior to starting my practice as a therapist, I was confronted with contradicting perspectives on the therapist’s disclosure of personal information to their clients. The prevailing thought behind this in the mental health field is that the therapeutic environment is not a place for therapists to disclose too much about themselves—therapy is about the client, not about the therapist, and disclosing personal information might distract clients from the therapeutic process for a variety of reasons. Having said that, recent research has shown potential benefits in certain types of disclosure, particularly when the therapist is a member of a sexual minority group, and the client in question might feel safer with a therapist who shares their marginalized identification(s).
I have to say, it was validating and such a relief to hear this perspective echo my own. The fact is, I was aligned with this approach to disclosure well before reading this research, having had the experience of searching for a therapist myself, and asking potential therapists to disclose their connection to and experience with BDSM. Not that I wanted to know personal details about the therapist’s sex life or partner status, but it was important to me to know that they had a working knowledge of my lifestyle, not only so they wouldn’t judge or pathologize my preferences, but so I wouldn’t waste time and money on educating them as I had with past therapists.
This is exactly why I’m out about the communities I work with and am a part of, and this is also exactly why I created ManhattanAlternative.com—a listing of providers in New York City who are openly affirmative to kink, poly, and LGBTQ communities and lifestyles. The last time I looked for a therapist for myself, I (successfully!) used NCSF’s KAP listing to help direct my search. I know I’m not the only one who finds NCSF’s work hugely inspiring, and I have to give a great amount of credit to NCSF for encouraging me to be out about my intersecting identifications, and motivating me to create a diverse network of affirming providers in the city where I live and practice.
I feel an obligation to the individuals I work with to be out about my identifications, not only because it might help them feel safer and more comfortable in talking to me, but because it sets the precedent that there is nothing wrong with feeling good about having an atypical identification and owning who you are. It is important to note that being out in this way is a privilege that not everyone has. Many people who are kinky, poly, or have a non-binary sexual orientation or gender identification (or intersections thereof) work and live in environments that could be dangerous if they weren’t closeted. Being out is definitely an individual decision, and depends on social context and individual readiness. I am of the mindset that the more of us who can be out the better, because it will slowly help those who can’t be by chipping away at pathologizing public perceptions and stigmatization.
My goals in creating Manhattan Alternative are to make it easier for people who have been wanting to reach out for support but have been reluctant to, or haven’t been able to find someone they feel comfortable talking to, and offer support to those with intersecting marginalized identities (e.g., kinky and poly; kinky and gender-nonconforming; poly and gender-nonconforming; kinky, poly, and queer; etc). Another goal is to encourage providers with practical knowledge of these communities to offer support by being out about their knowledge of and connection to these communities. Especially in the wake of the 50 Shades franchise, many providers are advertising that they are kink- or alt lifestyle-friendly, and while I don’t doubt many of them are affirming, they may not have the practical knowledge or experience that Manhattan Alternativeproviders emphasize.
My hope is to create a network of providers that is as inclusive and diverse as possible, which is why I’m putting a call out to therapists and health care professionals of varying races, ethnicities, abilities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations—particularly those with an intersection of identifications—to fill out the Manhattan Alternative Provider Application Form if they are interested in being listed as a kink/poly/trans/LGBQ-affirmative provider.
Guest Blogs do not represent NCSF but are the opinion of the blogger. NCSF provides space for activists to post their opinions in order to get feedback from the kink and nonmonogamous communities on the work they are doing and the information they are providing to the mainstream. Please leave your comments below and go to the blogger’s website to join in the conversation!
From the beginning, it was apparent this was a court case like no other.
The jury was informed on the first day that "acts of stabbing" were an "essential part" of Graham Dwyer and Elaine O'Hara's sexual relationship.
For many, "knife play" and "blood play" were foreign terms.
It seemed surprising such an extreme sexual sub-culture could exist in Ireland.
Bondage and sadomasochism are not common terms in the eminently respectable suburbs of Blackrock and Foxrock.
But as details of the trial emerged, it became apparent a thriving Irish BDSM (Bondage, Dominance and Submission, and Sadomasochism) community existed.
The BDSM sex dating site O'Hara and Dwyer met on, alt.com, claims that more than 28,000 Irish swingers, singles and couples avail of its services. Fet life - a sort of Facebook for 'kinksters' - has a 10,000-strong following in Ireland.
There are also regular BDSM master classes run around the country, suspension stage shows in Temple Bar, erotic arts festivals in County Down, fetish nights in Cork.
Despite the details that have emerged during the court case, a degree of mystery continues to surround the BDSM world.
This is partially due to the term BDSM itself - a clumsy umbrella phrase that encompasses a huge range of sexual preferences and persuasions.
It refers to anything from wearing a pair of novelty handcuffs to being hoisted into the air on hooks, or stabbed with retractable blades.
"There is huge variety within BDSM," Beth Wallace, founder of Sex Festival Bliss Ireland, explained. ...
Only 15% of Americans age 18 to 29 would ever consider being in an open relationship, according to a new survey conducted by the Huffington Post and YouGov. That proportion is nearly identical to — not higher than — the numbers for adults age 30 to 44 and 45 to 64.
The survey also found that 18% of 18- to 29-year-olds have been in an open relationship, while only 14% have attended a party where they engaged in sexual activity with multiple partners.
It turns out we young folks might not be as edgy or non-monogamous as everyone assumes. And that's totally OK.
Overexcited headlines: This lukewarm attitude toward open relationships isn't the edgy portrait of millennials the media often paints in articles such as Rolling Stone 's conversation-starting feature on millennials' sex lives. "Millennials realize that they're pushing the boundaries of the sexual revolution beyond what their parents might have expected and their grandparents could even conceive," Alex Morris excitedly reported.
Indeed, Amy Moors, a University of Michigan sex researcher, told Mic, "Questioning the often unrealistic ideals and expectations of monogamy is having a moment right now."
But despite the increased interest in casual sex and hookups, data suggests that millennials are having sex about as frequently as previous generations. And while we're surrounded by a culture that's more sex-positive than ever, the 20-something dating landscape itself might be tamer than we envision.
Moors' research shows that many young men and women have positive attitudes towards open relationships and express an interest in swingers' parties and threesomes, but most couples still don't actually engage in non-monogamy. ...
Private clubs for sexual swinging won’t be allowed to locate within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, daycares or parks in Tennessee.
The state Senate and House each voted resoundingly for the new law Monday night, without a single vote in opposition. The bills still must be signed by Gov. Bill Haslam to become law.
The state law would give Nashville double protection against swingers clubs. Last week, Metro Council passed a zoning change with a similar intent, blocking private clubs from properties zoned for office uses.
Both measures target the efforts of The Social Club, a Nashville swingers club, which planned to move into a former medical office at 520 Lentz Drive in Madison, a property adjacent to Goodpasture Christian School.
A final amendment on the state law specifically targets private clubs that allow participation and viewing of sex acts — a narrowing from prior wording that included all types of private clubs, which are distinguished in Nashville as places governed with membership fees.
The law also does not address adult entertainment venues, which are defined differently. ...
Wayne Boone's nude months run from June to December. You can wear clothes if you want when you visit him, but these are his nude months, and so he'll be naked—it says so right there on his Couchsurfing profile.
Strangers often find themselves in Boone's home in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, for a couple days, a week, or longer—over the past seven years, he says, he's hosted more than 500 travelers.
Knock on his door and he'll greet you in a plush blue robe—to appease his neighbors. But once inside, the robe is off.
With Halifax being the most eastern major city in mainland Canada, and because Boone offers drives from the airport and train station to his home, this is the first Canadian house seen by many travelers.
In his living room, an eight-foot wooden cross with steel shackles leans against a wall holding two different dartboards with suggestions for sexual activities instead of points. The room is full of boxes of sex costumes and stacks of books on religion, home repair, gardening, travel, and the Royal Family. On one shelf, books on astrology and numerology sit behind pictures of his children and the four medals he received in the Navy. The room also features a $500 floor-mounted portable stripper pole.
"My neighbors just look at me [when] I'm going to a party—of course I take my stripper pole, I take my cross, I take my massage table and it's, 'Oh, the freak is going somewhere,'" he says with a shrug.
Boone, 55, has hair that is as gray and long as it will ever be. A whisper of brown in the mustache of his Santa beard jiggles when he speaks in his thick Newfie accent, punctuated with coughs from years of chain smoking.
His heavy, tanned body—he tries to spend four hours a day in the sun—is animated at any moment. Swiveling around, he points to the floor where a fabric chair with a rope and trapeze bar sits. ...
The 411: Founded in 1997 and made up of more than 50 businesses, groups, individuals and more, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has been the go-to supporter for people who participate in consensual alternative sexual behaviors.
Have you ever been afraid your boss will fire you if he or she found out you like BDSM?
What about your family? Have you been worried they will shun you if they discovered that you and your partner are swingers?
Discrimination and concerns like these are just some of the reasons the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) was formed.
Founded by Susan Wright, the NCSF brings together kink and non-monogamy educational groups, therapists, domestic violence centers and other professionals to stand up for the legal rights and privacy of people who take part in these types of activities.
“Our goal is to fight discrimination against people who are kinky or non-monogamist,” she said.
We spoke with Wright to discuss the organization’s most impactful services, how people can overcome prejudices in their lives and the team’s plan to get all of America, and even the world, involved in the discussion.
Your rights. Your privacy. Your freedom.
The NCSF may be a small nonprofit, but they’re still able to create some incredibly impressive initiatives that make a real difference.
Their one of a kind media outreach program works directly with newspapers, TV stations, online outlets and more to get accurate information out there about alternative sexuality, especially when it comes to consent.
“Consent is at the heart of what we do, and you have to make sure that you have consent ahead of time. In this day and age, people look at sex as you make the move and see if you get a no,” she said. “With kink, you can’t do that. You actually have to verbalize what you want first and then be able to speak it and map out the game you’re going to play before you start playing it.” ...
The Tom of Finland Foundation has collaborated with artists and designers to satisfy a new generation of collectors.
From Michelangelo to Rauschenberg, gay artists can be found at any major museum. Meanwhile, Tom of Finland’s “dirty drawings” of bulging bikers, lumberjacks, and leathermen seemed forever confined to the back rooms of gay bars — not the hallowed halls of white-walled galleries. But a new window display at Colette Gallery on one of Paris’s most fashionable streets is aiming to elevate the work from hardcore to haute. The new exhibition of Henzel Studio’s luxury handmade rugs — which will also feature designs by Nan Goldin and Richard Prince — is the result of the tireless efforts of the Tom of Finland Foundation to promote the artist’s legacy.
But the trend doesn’t stop with pricey tapestries. With gallery exhibitions, linens, a line of athletic apparel, and a new biopic about the artist in the works, we’re experiencing a full-blown Tom of Finland renaissance.
“We just received a beautiful letter from a 21-year-old Polish guy telling us how he discovered Tom in the last year, and how good it makes him feel,” says Durk Dehner, president of the Tom of Finland Foundation. “And we could have gotten that letter in 1976 or 2006. It’s what made me work with Tom to start this: listening to young guys who said his work gave them a positive identity — that they weren’t the only gays in the village.”
Dehner always knew the work of Tom of Finland (a.k.a. Touko Laaksonen) was special. Inspired by one of the artist’s erotic drawings he saw at the Spike, a New York City fetish bar, in the ’70s, he wrote Tom a fan letter. They became friends, and Dehner helped create the foundation in 1984 in his Los Angeles home, where Tom lived for his last decade. Originally intended to preserve the work of the artist, who died in 1991 at the age of 71, the organization soon expanded to “offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response.”
With the motto “Let’s keep it fun,” Dehner threw parties in the ’80s and ’90s to celebrate Tom’s images, but interest began to wane. Then, in 2006, the Judith Rothschild Foundation donated five works to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “Tom of Finland is one of the five most influential artists of the 20th century,” Harvey S. Shipley Miller, a Rothschild Foundation trustee, said at the time. “As an artist, he was superb. As an influence, he was transcendent.” ...