I’ve recently had a few people ask me questions about vocabulary I use in my daily speech to talk about poly/relationship things. Some of them are common poly community words, some of them came from my local community and some of them I think I’ve just started using. Maybe after this they’ll catch on 🙂

Metamour (n) – A partner’s partner. Generally either someone similar to you with whom you get along fabulously, or someone nothing like you who you don’t know how to interact with at all. Rarely are they in between.

Polycule (n) – The 3-D map of how you, your partners, your partner’s partners, your partner’s partner’s partners… etc. interact. Often encodes things like who’s having sex, who’s living with/committed to/married to whom, who isn’t talking etc. Common configurations include: “Vs”, triads “Ns”, tetrahedrans, carbon rings etc.

Polywog (n) – A generally affectionate term for a newbie to poly, often one who has been spawned by being friends with, sleeping with, or dating an experienced poly person (a polyfrog?)

Polysaturated (adj) – The feeling of having reached ones relationship limit. Sometimes spurred by existing relationships taking up more time, or accidentally starting to date three new people in one weekend. Often characterized by the strange feeling of meeting someone you find attractive and not really caring if you get a chance to talk to them.

Relationship Hangover (n) – that depleted feeling you get after spending too much time with too many people. You’re not quite sure if you want to be alone in your room for a week, or curled up against a lover. Home remedies range from journaling to hot baths to alcohol to ‘the hair of the dog that bit you’ in the form of snuggling, dates, threesomes, etc.

Relationship (v) – Relationshiping – the act of engaging in/working on relationships. Activities range from scheduling, going on dates, having overnights, processing, seeing a couples counselor, etc.

These are just a few of the more unusual poly terminology I’ve been confusing my friends with lately. For a wonderfully complete glossary of poly related terms, check out this site.


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Eye Gazing

My first notable experience with eye gazing was with a man we’ll call Edgar.

Edgar had a tendency to catch my gaze and hold it until I looked away. I always looked away first. It was unnerving to be looked at with such focus, as if he was seeing right through me and there were things in there I was afraid for him to know.

Then one day, while sitting in a park in the warm, autumn sun, I was able to hold his gaze until he broke first.

That day I found something in myself, a confidence and stability I hadn’t really felt around him before. I was able to treat myself as an equal to this man who had impressed and somewhat intimidated me with his gaze for so long. It was empowering, it was freeing, and it allowed us to delve into a much more connected relationship after.

After that experience, I started using eye gazing as a tool to cultivate vulnerability and intimacy. I used it intentionally with lovers to open myself to them. I used it with dancers, both when social dancing and in classes that needed a vulnerable space. I noticed it not only increasing my connection with individual people, but also my ability to be open and confident in the world. Being willing and able to make eye contact with people on the street made me much less scared of moving through the world (rightly or wrongly).

Then I had a couple mis-steps. Dancers, students in particular, assumed I had romantic interest in them because I made and held eye contact. I received a couple unwanted kisses on the dance floor because I held eye contact during a dance.

A few months later while looking out the window of a coffee shop I accidentally, made eye contact with a stranger. Then I held the eye contact out of habit. The stranger came into the coffee shop, bought a drink, took a random book off a table, and sat next to me for over an hour, trying to get me to take interest in him.

These experiences scare me. I want to be open, I want to be vulnerable, I want to be able to make real eye contact with everyone I meet. Then I have these experiences that remind me, eye contact is powerful and not always safe. That some people are going to read into it more than I intend. Can I continue meeting people’s gaze if I find the strength to always express my boundaries when they get approached? Or will there be times when I can’t manage that. Or times when that wouldn’t be enough? Is avoiding those uncomfortable interactions worth closing myself off?

I don’t have good answers yet.


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Talk Dirty to Me?

Talking during sex. This seems to be a thing people do. It seems to be a thing lots of people, including me, like to hear. It is also a thing that some people like to do themselves. It is not something I do easily.

I’m not 100% sure why that is. In more casual or academic settings, I’m super comfortable talking about the finer points of squirting or breath play. But in the moment, I’m terrified to ask my lover to fuck me harder.

This is not to say that I’m not vocal, but gasps and moans seem to come more easily than real words and sentences.

Part of the problem is I worry about what to say. Anything I come up with is so tainted by the prevalence of porn and romance novels, that it’s hard to think of, “Oh yeah, harder” as a thing that real people say. I get so trapped in my head, trying to compose something with the right combination of desire, prose, and sincerity, that I often just get pulled out of the moment and stop feeling the things I wanted to express in the first place.

Some of it is fear over owning my own sexuality. Being a woman with specific sexual desires often feels scary. Verbalizing something specific and explicit makes the thought behind it undeniable. What if that ends up being a thought that makes my partner uncomfortable? “The sexually insatiable woman is to be found primarily, if not exclusively, in the ideology of feminism, the hopes of boys, and the fears of men.” – Donald Symons

I have learned how to let go of many of the sexual and body hang ups that society (among other things) has imparted on me. But letting my words go, that one’s still got me stymied.


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Relationship Success

For those of you who are not already familiar with Kimchi Cuddles, it’s a web comic that follows the daily lives of a handful of pseudo fictional poly, trans, queer, and lots of other types of people. While often not funny per se, it is almost always insightful and true at least to the subset of those trials and tribulations I experience on a day to day basis. This one has been hitting something for me recently.

Kimchi Cuddles #335

This is something I have a hard time with. It’s one thing to shed the societal expectation of monogamy. It’s another thing entirely to shed all the other programmed expectations, fallacies, and fantasies that most of us have grown up with. As a little girl I often had crushes on more than one boy at a time. But I still planned fanciful weddings in my day dreams with each of them. Even as I’ve embarked on all out polyamory my urge to measure relationship success in years together or life plans made is still often present. I even used to include a “I’m looking for deep connection and long term interaction only” caveat to my “by the way I’m poly” speech on first dates. While I’ve stopped doing that, I also have yet to successfully share a deep, meaningful connection with someone I don’t make plans to stay in touch with.

Maybe that’s just not my style and maybe that’s an okay thing. But there is something to be said for being able to interact with a lover as if it’s the only time you’ll see them. To be fully in the moment with no need to control or predict where it goes next, no goal you’re driving towards, no perfect moment you’re seeking. Because often the most important moments aren’t the ones you expect. And sometimes ‘happily every after’ accidentally unfolds around you, if you let it.


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Feeling Seen

A friend recently posted a FB status asking people, “What makes you feel most seen?” I never got around to responding to her post, because I didn’t know what to say. I spent a few weeks observing my interactions with people to figure out the answer to that question.

I eventually stumbled upon my answer totally by accident. One morning I met up in a park with a lover whom I hadn’t seen in a month. We sat on a bench and for a while, just sat in silence, lightly touching. With my head on his shoulder, his hand on my knee, my hand on his, we sat there in each other’s company, silently looking out over the bustle of the park.

After a while he said, “It’s good to see you too.”

I was totally struck. I didn’t realize I was feeling that, but as soon as he said it, it rang very true. He knew me, saw me clearly enough to know what I was thinking before I said it. Even before I knew I was thinking it.

Looking back at my life, this is something that has always made me feel seen and known by the people around me. I love having friends who can finish my sentences, lovers who know what I’m thinking when I look at them, and partners who know exactly what to do when I’m upset. When people know my thoughts, before I say them, I feel very seen.

I worry sometimes that this is a troublesome thing to value. It can feed into the societal, romantic narrative that if someone really knows and loves you, you shouldn’t have to ask for what you need. They’ll just know. Which I believe is a damaging narrative. It’s also one that I succumb to easily, to disastrous effect.

I think the important factor here is not to expect this behavior. It’s good to appreciate when people know me so well. It’s good to enjoy it, to feel loved and flattered by it. It’s not good to start expecting it. As soon as I start expecting it, depending on it, I’m going to be let down. I’m going to stop getting all my needs met.

Besides, expecting it takes the magic out of it. If I’m expecting it, then I don’t feel special when it happens 🙂


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How Do You Write a Love Letter?

How much effort does one put into the composition of a love letter? Does one simply pour out from the heart and trust in the raw truth of what gets set to paper? Or does one carefully choose every word, like a poet, rewriting until every phrase holds thrice the meaning?

Does a love letter always have to be handwritten? Is part of the charm in holding something that once touched your lover’s hand? Something which they labored over, carefully shaping each letter, blotting the ink and smoothing the creases that betray the emotion behind the writing, all the while thinking of you?

Is a love letter always on carefully chosen paper, lovingly crafted with good penmanship and a pretty stamp? Or is there as much power in a hurriedly scribbled note on a soiled piece of whatever paper was at hand because the sentiment had to be captured and delivered right now?

Does one add extra touches to a love letter? A spritz of perfume, a lock of hair, do these little additions add to the sentiment, or merely distract from the power of the words?

How much does one extol a lover’s virtues? Is there a point at which waxing poetic about a lover becomes insincere? Or unwelcome?

How much does one relive memories? Is walking through memories a way to keep up the fervor that existed in person, or do they dull in repetition? Is one better served trying to generate new memories through pen and paper, and can they be as powerful without the bodily presence?

How much does one share about the effect of a lover’s absence? Does one soldier bravely onward, assuring a lover that, while they are missed, life carries on? Or does one talk about the hole left behind? Does one reveal how often one’s thoughts drift, hijacked by memories of a lover’s touch, voice, presence? Does one admit when there is sleeplessness, distraction, loss of appetite, or does one keep those things neatly tucked away?

Should a love letter instead be a soothing balm for your lover, laid in place to protect the wound inflicted by your absence until your returned presence can close it up again? Or should it stoke the fire, piling more fuel onto the smoldering embers in preparation for the day when presence fans the flames back to life again?

How much does one’s love letters change, depending on who is receiving them? Is a love letter a pure reflection of oneself, or is that reflection shaped by the relationship being written about and the person being written to?

Are love letters a thing that get easier with practice?

Does anyone want to practice with me?

The inspiration for this train of thought:


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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a funny holiday for me. Growing up, I very much held the standard, romantic ideal for the day. In elementary school, Valentine’s Day was the day I over interpreted all the silly little mass produced cards that the boys I liked were required to put in everyone’s desks. In middle school it was the day I, for the first time, got up the courage to tell a boy I liked him (and got promptly, but gently rejected). And in High School it was a day I just kind of started ignoring, because I was far too scared to have a boyfriend.

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