Falling in love in a series of moments

Do you fall in love all at once, or in a series of moments?

For me love has always been an unfolding series of emotions but often with a secure path.  I recognize NRE easily, and feel it pretty readily as well.  It’s the feeling of my breath catching and heart fluttering when I’m getting to know someone and they say something sweet.  It’s the tugging sensation when I’m talking to someone and they express their values and goals and I see how they reflect my own, and I want to share more of my life with them.  It’s the excitement of learning their favorite food, or what author has shaped their life, and this information being precious because it comes from them.  New relationships have a particular electric excitement to them that enhances everything, those floods of brain chemicals making me want to think about someone constantly and spend all day talking to them and exploring their mind.  I acknowledge the love and limerence I feel during that time as real and feel honest in the expression of it, while also knowing that it doesn’t always predict the shape of a long term connection or translate into a more deeply seated love.

Following the rushing torrent of NRE feels, my love often takes one of two paths.  The first path is into a comfortable realm of cozy warm feelings of contentment and comfort with a person.  I would liken my love to a warm hearth, stable and providing security, not full of intensity, but full of a consistent glow of enjoyment.  This path often runs towards a slowly deepening loyalty and commitment to a person and exploring vulnerabilities together over time as we grow close.

The second path is almost a continuation of NRE, in that it mirrors those intense rushes of emotion, the overwhelming sensations of being caught off guard and reveling in the energy of it.  Little moments become big electrical boosts in the person centered part of my psyche, thrilling me and driving me to focus intimately on those moments of exhilaration.  This often included elements of the first path as well, but has a definite aspect to it of love gathering intensity and momentum in a series of defining moments.

This weekend one of those stark moments came into clarity.  I was sitting in the backseat of Hoffy’s truck as he was driving and half dozing off, as we were coming back from hanging out with some other folks in the local poly community and stuffing our faces at the buffet.  I was a bit at my limit for socialing, had been wanting to just have some space to relax alone.  Being in the truck with Hoffy driving, Kelev in the front seat, Raichu in the back with me, and music filtering through the background with no need for conversation, was peaceful.  I was thinking of how I was surprised at how comfortable I was, because I don’t normally feel comfortable with someone else driving.  Then I looked at Hoffy and was watching him drive and sing softly along to the music, and it was one of those moments where I was just overwhelmed with how much love I felt for him.  There was just this intense feeling of ‘yes, this person. This is my person, I am happy here, and this is the person I love.’ There is a feeling of certainty in those moments of intensity.  And they are amazing moments in how they have the level of excitement of NRE, but also the sheer comfortable and stable feeling of love after NRE has passed.  I was thinking about how falling in love with him is a series of moments, just ordinary moments that happen as we live life together, but that take on this intense special quality out of the blue.

It is interesting, how my brain in those moments goes ‘this is the person I love.’  It’s true, it is absolutely true in that moment, and as a whole.  It certainly isn’t exclusive though, and that is the beauty of being a polyamorist relationship anarchist to me.  I very rarely feel that sort of intensity of emotion past NRE though, with most people I settle into that comfortable hearth fire love of stability and warmth, and overwhelming moments are not a regular occurrence.  Once in a while though, the path of my love with someone takes the more passionate and extreme route, with strong surges and surprising and startling moments of energy.  I found it amusing and ironic, that the other person in my life that I’ve felt that with was sitting in the front seat beside the person I was having those thoughts about now.  And it mirrored the experience I had when I first recognized I was feeling that intensely about Kelev, also coming when I was sitting in the back seat of his truck eight years ago, watching him drive.  I always wondered why my emotional connection with him was so much more potent at times, and here I was feeling that again.

I don’t really feel passion for people easily.  I feel NRE, I feel comfortable safe feelings of love, I feel extremely potent and intense loyalty and connection and vulnerability.  But passion, that often escapes me except in rare circumstances.  My passions are often directed to my efforts to create and intentional community and dreams of such, towards my activism which is one of the most important aspects of my life, towards art and music, towards my never-ending quest for knowledge and learning.  Those things are where my passions lay, and my relationships with people are more a beautiful cozy place rather then an enormous ardent one.  I’ve found another partnership in my life that has diverged from the usual path they take for me though, that has a more passionate quality to it that is unfolding for me in that series of moments.  Those moments where I really see him, and I am quite overwhelmed and absolutely eager for that fiery intensity.  I’m amused when those moments mirror previous moments in the series that has played out in my other partnership of a similar quality.  But most of all I’m just grateful for them, and for how they show me the many ways we are able to fall in love and appreciate that multitude and the aspect of it that I’m in at the moment.


Moving forward towards a new year

So yesterday was the first day since I started this that I didn’t publish a post.  I kept to my challenge for myself of writing daily, but my writing yesterday was just half formed thoughts and notes.

The past few days have been a ride of ups and downs, a lot more turmoil then my typical holiday season, and I’m trying to recover.  I’ve been thinking about things I need to work on this year and one of my new years resolutions will be to get into better shape.  I have long since dismissed the notion of their being one most attractive type of body, that bullshit society feeds us about is has no use to me. Losing weight is something that appeals, not because the number on the scale indicates self worth, but because it may assist in taking the strain off my knees. What I do know is, as I am now my stamina and strength are in the shitter, and my joints ache.  I feel like I’ve aged more in the last year, than in all my other years combined.  Pain is becoming a daily background noise, and if I can treat my body better and reduce or eliminate that noise, I will be a much more functional human.

After the past couple days I realized getting back into a state of good health is a bit more complex then my half formed plan to do more yoga, cut out the foods that my nutritionist told me were causing my digestive issues, and work on eating a more healthy options as a whole. One thing I really need to work on is self care.  I tend to push myself until I hit such a low energy point that I don’t take care of the basic things I need to feel okay.  And that’s how I end up sometimes with my room a mess, trying to count the last time I swept or cleaned the counters, looking in the fridge and having a snack of pickle juice because I pushed to the point where I was too hungry and tired to cook and that’s the only easy thing to grab.  I feel some times that I have a put together facade made of cardboard boxes and duct tape, and it’s all about to topple down.

On the other hard, life isn’t just about failures.  While I’m currently perilously low on spoons, and high on desire to make some changes so I can make sure I don’t push myself to this point in the future, I also see that I have great support in my life.  I have spent the past few days trying to help others through some hard times, and I could see the way people in my life really reach out and care for each other and go the extra distance for that.  I also know I could count on those communities if I were the one needing help, if I could get my head out of my ass far enough to ask, since I struggle with pride.  There is a lot of hope though, this time of year is high tension, high stress, but also a time of new beginnings.  And I’m going to do what I need to, to feel renewed and go into it on a good note.

Building community is coming home

Sometimes I’m thinking so hard about something that my brain feels a bit too big to fit in my head.  If I’m going to have a headache though, I suppose that is the sort I’d like to have, because at least it nets good results in the long run.  I’ve been thinking about community for a long time.  As a kid I went to a socialist Jewish camp modeled after Israeli Kibutzim, which are intentional communities focused on farming and living with the land, and mutual support among members.  They involve an integrated group living style and camp was much like that.

At camp we got up every morning and all met to check in at the flag pole before breakfast, any important announcements were shared and then we ate together as a group.  Following breakfast we had work groups, each choosing what group we wanted to be in at the beginning of the camp session.  Not surprisingly, I always gravitated to the group responsible for the garden and taking care of the animals.  Through all my childhood, if being near animals or in the dirt was an option, I jumped on it.  Throughout the rest of the day we had meals as a whole community, and some activities were structured that was as well, where others were split up by age group, skill level, or interests.  Song was an ever-present reality of life, one thing I miss the most about being there was living a life where song and dance were a constant part of daily existence.  The landscape as well absolutely haunts my dreams and my soul sometimes cries out for it.  The summer skies were perfection, no matter the clouds or the endless blue, or the deep violets at night with an endless amount of clearly visible stars.  They had a quality to them that was so intense, they felt so close, that it made every other sky I had seen before seem fake.  The camp was nestled by a serpentine, so we hiked through meadows where the mineral composition of the soil caused the grass to grow in beautiful shades of blue and purple intermixed with green and teal.  It felt like another world, and it felt like home.

The sense of community there was so palpable, it was everything you’ve dreamed of when you think of coming home.  It was the last place I remember being entirely comfortable with touch, where I could just curl up in a pile of warm bodies and not cringe or tense up.  There was always a feeling of safety, everyone had the best intentions of others at heart, or it certainly seemed so.  It wasn’t that we were too young for malice and selfishness, but as a community even of young folk, we actively discussed ways we could create a more kind and generous world, fight bigotry, and tear down the walls that divided us.  I’ve never met so many driven passionate people in one place, so many artists with a vision straining to burst out of them, so many healers with a desire to absorb all the ills of the heart and mind and make everyone around them feel whole.  When I ever wonder if with my rational logic driven mind, focused on figures and arguable facts, if I could possibly believe with my whole being in magic, I only have to think back to that place to say yes.

I didn’t know that my last year there would be my last, I always intended to return as a counselor and stay for many years onward, but that didn’t happen.  I did spend every summer there from around when I was ten to when I was fifteen, and I knew after the first one that I would create something that felt that way, when I grew up.  I talked for years incessantly and with passion about my dream for a community, not a summer camp, but a place where as an adult I could live my life constantly in that feeling of comfort and home and magic summer skies.   I have lived most of my adult life in communal living environments, usually with my polycule, partners and metamours.  There has been sometimes a glimpse of community, it is a shadow that flits around our home, but there were barriers in truly creating that in full.  After incessant talk of community for the past almost twenty years though, I have found others with a shared dream and we’ve begun the discussion process towards truly building that.  In discovering the term, intentional community, and then beginning to explore ecovillages, co-housing, communal living, and other IC models, we opened the door to the knowledge we needed to move forward.  I’ve done a lot with my life thus far, I have two college degrees and working on a third, I’ve run a craft business briefly, raised my own meat, had many partnerships and loves, descended into and back out of alcoholism, dealt with and societal and emotional impact of being trans and queer in today’s society, and shoved a fuck ton of adventures under my belt in the process.  Nothing I have done resonates with me as much as this though, I’ve known since childhood that this was my driving passion.  So, as I work on so much other personal growth and have begun several other new life journeys, I also look to move forward with this.  I know with the other amazing people I’ve found who share this dream that it will succeed, and I look forward to coming home.

Relationship anarchy vs polyamory – What the heck is the difference?

What is the difference between relationship anarchy and polyamory?

That’s a good question, but not an easy one, because there are many types of polyamory, and relationship anarchy is a newer term and the concepts it includes have been evolving over the past twelve(ish) years since Andie Nordgren wrote the relationship anarchy manifesto.

So first let’s define what each of these are.  My definitions are a lovely chimera made of the commonly used definitions, what I found through research as a supposed standard, what I’ve most heard repeated in my experience with both communities, and what I feel fits from my own personal experiences with each.

Polyamory is the style of relationshipping that involves negotiated dynamics of having, or the possibility of having, multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships.  Most people include “with the knowledge and consent of all involved”.  I prefer my addition of “negotiated dynamics” at the beginning instead because the basis of polyamory is deciding with a partner, or deciding on your own and informing a partner, that you are going to potentially date multiple people at once.  There is not always knowledge in that some polya folks do have DADT (don’t ask don’t tell) agreements. There is also not always consent, someone can be ethically polya with the consent of their partner in some of their dynamics and end up cheating in another dynamic due to an agreement or rule broken, but they are still practicing polyamory (although they probably aren’t doing a very good job of it).  I think the point of the knowledge and consent portion is meant to rule out people who just decide one day they are polya, don’t care to inform their spouse, and run around sexing ALL the peoples behind their spouses back.  FYI, that isn’t polyamory, but I think you knew that.

Relationship anarchy is the act of treating each relationship as it’s own individual dynamic, and the individuals engaged in it determining exactly how that dynamic will be shaped, while respecting their own autonomy and each others.  Relationship anarchy is a more amorphous term once you get past that, likely because it is so new.  Andie Nordgren wrote the original Relationship Anarchy Manifesto back around 2006, but since then as more people have adapted it, the definition has evolved and been expanded upon.  It remains similar to the original though, in that most people use it to represent a few key ideas.

One key idea of relationship anarchy that varies from polyamory is that the focus of polyamory is on multiple romantic and/or sexual dynamics.  While there are types of polyamory that have hierarchy between partnerships and types that do not, relationship anarchy forgoes hierarchy altogether between all sort of relationships.  For a relationship anarchist, there is no strict hierarchy where friendships are less then lovers or romantic partners, which is often commonplace in polyamory.  In that way, polyamory mimics the amatonormativity (“the assumption that a central, exclusive, amorous relationship is normal for humans, in that it is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in the sense that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types,” – Elizabeth Brake) of society but simply extends it to multiple relationships.  Relationship anarchy goes “fuck that noise” and either does not prioritize people at all, or does so on the basis of the dynamic in particular, and not the basis of it being a platonic, romantic, or sexual one.

Another key point in relationship anarchy is the focus on personal autonomy.  Relationship anarchy highlights the individuals in the relationship deciding what the relationship will look like, and any agreements they have in it.  Some relationship anarchists don’t even prescribe to the idea of agreements as a whole, and favor a way of relating that focuses on sharing what can and can’t be expected of them and if that changes, but not choosing to tie themselves down to any specific agreed upon commitment.  For most though, agreements are about figuring out what they want to and can bring to the dynamic, and committing to share that until such a point as it is discussed and renegotiated if need be.  This is something that is found in some polyamorous dynamics as well, but not all types of polyamory center this.  In some types of polyamory, partners agree on not only what shape their relationship will take, but on the shape other relationships they each can have with other people.  This idea of putting rules that may restrict the way a person can interact with and have other partners is antithetical with the practice of most relationship anarchists.

One other deviation between polyamory and relationship anarchy is the use of labels.  Relationship anarchist tend to favor either not using relationship labels (titles like boyfriend/girlfriend/lovefriend, husband/wife/spouse, etc) or only using descriptive labels as opposed to prescriptive ones.  Descriptive labels are ones used to describe in shorthand what the relationship is at that time.  For example, nesting partner is a term that is used to mean a partner that you live with.  Descriptive use of that would be to describe the partners you live with at that time as nesting partners.  Prescriptive labels are ones that are meant to create structure that informs people of the place that relationship is allowed to fit in your life.  For example, spouse is often a prescriptive label, because most people do not walk into marriage with an expected end date. Spouse confers a certain amount of societal privilege, implies certain things about the dynamic, and therefor is more used as a “I have given this person this specific role in my life, this is the role they have, yes” as opposed to a descriptive label of “right now this person means this to me and here is a shorthand way of conveying that.” Prescriptive labels don’t work with relationship anarchy, partly because they often effect relationships other then the one they are labeling, and partly because relationship anarchy is all about dismantling those relationship structures that prioritize people or create dynamics with implied privileges or structures.  In polyamory it is not uncommon to see a hierarchy created with prescriptive titles such as primary, secondary, tertiary, and so on. Some polyamorous folk do favor descriptive over prescriptive labels though. Its more a venn diagram, with RA folks using either no labels or descriptive ones, and polya folks using prescriptive or descriptive ones, with descriptive labels being the potential overlap.

One final thing I think about when I’m considering the differences between relationship anarchy and polyamory, is something I see covered less in similar guides.  Most comparisons focus on the ways relationship anarchists and polyamorists structure their relationships differently and interact within them, as I have above.  There is one other core difference that I feel bears mentioning though.  Polyamory is a different way of approaching romantic and/or sexual relationships.  Relationship anarchy is a different way of approaching all relationships in life, but it is also a deeply political concept.  Relationship anarchy is not, as many believe, just a spin off of polyamory for those who wanted even less restriction and more fluidity.  RA overlaps with polyamory in many ways, but it has deep roots in political anarchism.  As such, casting off relationship hierarchies and amatonormativity, and centering autonomy, are not just a product of seeking greater freedom to make tailored individual relationships.  Relationship anarchy is also about rebellion against the societal institution that prioritizes certain types of connection and the traditional romantic dynamics that isolate people into nuclear families.  It is about centering community and connection.  It is about deconstructing to coercive relationships as a whole, and it makes no sense to hold those ideals specific to only romantic and platonic relationships and not apply them to the coercion workers, sex workers, children, marginalized communities, and others face in our society.  While there are people who engage in relationship anarchy in their personal relationships and never question the overall societal structure that exploits workers, marginalizes minorities, focuses on small nuclear family units over community, glorifies capitalism, etc, it is important to remember that the roots of relationship anarchy are deeply political and it was born from anarchist concepts and still continues to embody those.

So in conclusion, there is overlap between the concepts of relationship anarchy and polyamory, and a person can in fact practice both in their life, or they could fall firmly into one category and not another.  With the varying types of polyamory, some have more in common with relationship anarchy and some less. Relationship anarchy has roots in more then just a movement to have multiple romantic and/or sexual partners though, and is a structure that embraces ideals that have deep political ties to changing societal structure and bucking the current coercive systems.  Polyamory also allows for hierarchy and rule based relationships in ways relationship anarchy does not.  In the end it is up to the individual to decide what structures and ideologies they will adapt and explore in their own life.  Hopefully this helps you in understanding each a little better and taking your next steps in that exploration.


Some resources to look into for further information:





Relationship anarchy is not for fuckboys(or polyamorists)

Vulnerability opens doors to community

Tomorrow I am hosting a potluck for my local polya group. I usually host a Thanksgiving celebration for my polycule every year, and a Christmahanukwanzikayulemastide celebration, but that’s been about it for a while.  We’ve had a few small game nights at the house here and there.  I have been saying for years that I would have some sort of BBQ, or plan a themed party like I used to, but it wasn’t something I managed to manifest from casual conversation into reality.

I remember vaguely searching for local polya groups a little over a year ago, I think what prompted it was curiosity, and one of my loves saying that we didn’t really have polya and RA folks in this area. This was the only local group I found, and while I joined a bit over a year ago as I mentioned, I didn’t really become active in it until this spring.  I don’t actually remember exactly what prompted me to start being more active in it, I believe it was noticing that a potluck was coming up, but it could be that I started engaging more first and that was why I noticed the event.  Either way, I RSVPed to it, and possibly because of that and their desire to make new folks feel welcome, or possibly because of my sheer queer magnetism, the two admins initiated conversation by reaching out to welcome me and start a friendship.

The beginning of the friendship that has developed with those individuals was interesting, I actually found that I took up a role of advise-giver and listener-to-rants for a while there.  That’s a frequent role I find myself in, so it was a comfortable one, but it was a little surprising to be that for two people I barely knew.  They were both at a bit of a rocky point with mental health, each other, other life situations, and I tried to help the best I could.  Despite that being a role I frequently find myself in, two things were different about it this time around.  The first was the amount of openness and trust and rawness they showed me, despite us just getting acquainted.  The usual skating around the issues and revealing a little bit at a time until trust was established and that picture perfect masked could be dropped, we just skipped right over that step. I value that raw authenticity beyond measure, it is something I crave in a world where people are guarded little drones pushing their identical Target shopping carts with their identical forced smiles.  These two people showed me the ugly parts of themselves and their relationship, and I was barely more than a stranger.  It wasn’t an over-share, it was a baring of the soul, and it was a courageous act. The second thing that was different was that in all my years as resident advice-giver in my groups of friends, I have almost never seen anyone really focus on examining the advice I gave so completely and then applying it.  It was unique to see someone actually evaluate the pretty advice scarf I painstakingly knitted them, realize it’s merit, and put it on and use it daily.  The fact that they put value on the time and energy I put into trying to offer assistance was an affirmation I had rarely been given, and was a true gift.  The fact that I was able to offer assistance to people who wanted that much to actually grow and improve, rather than mouth the words and continue on in the same old patterns, was so refreshing.  And seeing them both grow as people in tremendous ways over the eight months I’ve now known them, is an absolute inspiration. What I didn’t realize until much later was that being allowed to take the role of advise-giver for people who were so immediately vulnerable and also quite completely dedicated to personal-growth and positive change, also effected me in the most wonderful positive way.

I felt comfortable and at home in the raw gritty realness of those individuals, and in the inspiring growth they showed.  It mirrored my own fractured and flawed existence and constant search for vulnerability and need for self improvement.  I felt welcomed by the intensity of the sudden closeness I found with them, and the invitation to be myself.  I also was allowed to enter into my venture into the group within a role I felt very comfortable with, which eased the transition from mostly recluse, to reemerging social butterfly.  It was one of those times in life where circumstances line up in just the right way to allow for a new path to unfurl with radiant clarity right when you need it.  I was craving community, I was craving what it felt like to have a group beyond my polycule where I felt belonging and a sense of home, and I was craving a realness in my interactions with people that broke past the surface of the casual and polite and restrained that permeated my social engagements with your average human. That began to extend to others in the group as I went to the potluck and also began engaging in conversation through the group online.  The atmosphere in the online group forum was unique as well.  Most local groups I’ve seen have a lot of unicorn hunting and meme sharing, and not much else.  Here there were group conversations in which people also showed startling levels of vulnerability, where we talked about our traumatic pasts, and deeply flawed selves to a group of almost-strangers on the internet, and there was always an outpouring of support and love in response.  It also was one of the only communities I’ve been a part of that both centered and elevated and protected marginalized groups, while also welcoming those who weren’t really up to date on or concerned about social justice issues and gently guiding them to understand. I eventually joined the moderator team and found an even bigger new circle of friends I could be my absolutely obnoxious flamboyant self with, who even seemed to appreciate it and welcome it from time to time. People who came from all walks of life, but again shared a welcoming openness and realness that felt just like coming home.

And that led to now, where I’m getting ready to get up and clean house for a potluck tomorrow.  I’ve spent years saying I would host a gathering like I used to in the good old days when I had the energy to be a sparkling force of nature that hosted exuberant parties that brought people together. I also haven’t had any more then a shadow of the desire in me until now, the want to do so flitted around in my chest cavity but there was no passion for it to feed on and break out with.  The amazing group of people I’ve connected with changed that, I feel renewed having found a place where I feel at home, and a place that inspires my own growth as well.  When the opportunity came up to offer to host one of the events instead of just being in attendance, I was compelled to do so.  For me, that was a huge step after years of somewhat isolating myself due to a lack of passion and energy and motivation. The community I found that was so invigorating and raw has changed me, giving me back a certain spark that I have not felt in a good long time. So I hope, as I work on preparing food and finding places to hide my clutter, that this gathering has a few more new folks as well, who may also realize that they have found their community, and settle in and call it home.