So this is about a fun weekend w/ my family and also about being poly – ups and downs. (And it’s also about how to tell if a dungeon/club is cool or not.)
Last weekend, Ma’am, Poet and I were invited to a “private” party in Atlanta Saturday night. (We’ll come back to the quotes.) Friday night, we got invited to dinner at Poet’s parents’ house. I was really excited to have a chance to meet his folks, about whom I’ve already heard a lot about from Shdwkitten – all good. Now, there’s one odd part here, and it’s one of those things you will probably have to deal w/ if you are poly. His family all know Shdwkitten as his girlfriend… but only his mom knows that Kitten is also married to another guy, so I had to be introduced as Kitten's “housemate.”
I’m basically cool w/ this. I understand that not everybody is going to be comfortable w/ polyamory – especially if it’s their son involved. But I didn’t want to never be introduced to his family, so that means playing the role of the “housemate.” Sure it’s a tad dishonest… but I think each adult individual has the right to decide how much they want their parents to know about their private/dating life. Around Ma’am’s parents, we are completely out about being kinky, poly – everything. Around my family, I can be Kitten’s husband but not her puppy. Around poet’s family, I have to be the housemate and we’re all vanilla. So I think there are situations where such “white lies” are justified. What do you think?
For my part, it felt awkward pretending to be Kitten’s housemate and not her husband – or her huspup – mostly b/c we usually tend to be affectionate a lot by holding hands, petting, nuzzling, etc. But it was great to meet Poet’s family. His folks are pretty cool and the conversation was always interesting. I really enjoyed the evening.
Saturday started off w/ me buying Ma’am a HUGE, freaking stuffed tiger – as in, barely fits in the back seat of the car huge. We saw him in the window of a furniture shop, and she had to have him. I loved watching my Owner giggle and do a happy dance I paid for it. Then we hit the road for Atlanta.
So here’s where another one of those challenges of polyamory comes up. We were talking about poly relationships in the car. (The previous weekend the three of us drove to Chattanooga to visit friends and family, and we listened to the NoSafeWord podcast on poly along the way – so we’ve had enough to think and talk about.) One thing we’ve been dealing w/ is the issue of having or not having a “primary” relationship. For many years, Ma’am dated other people w/ the explicit understanding that I was always going to be her primary relationship. She even had that on her profile on one of her dating sites: something like, “I’m not looking for my ‘one true love;’ I’ve already found that.” Even when she got married to another woman in 2011 (while she was already married to me), it was made clear that her relationship w/ me would come first – and her wife also had a husband so it was also clear that that was her primary partner. Either Ma’am or I might date other people, sleep w/ other people, or even love other people – but at the end of the day, we came first, our marriage came first.
That kind of changed for Ma’am over the last few months. I think it started b/c when things began to go south w/ her now-ex-wife, her wife began to use this “Well, I’m secondary, so I come before any other people you might want to date” bullshit as a way of keeping Kitten from dating/loving other people. (Ma'am's ex had jealousy issues and really didn’t need to be doing poly – which for her was just a way to step-out on her husband w/o “cheating” b/c she didn’t love him any more and they ended up getting divorced anyway… but that’s another story entirely.) It came to leave a bad taste in my Owner’s mouth. She started saying she wasn’t comfortable w/ the term “primary” anymore… and while we were driving to Atlanta Saturday, she went further and said she “detested” the term. Strong word.
Okay, let me pause here and clarify, for those who don’t know, that “poly” means different things to different people and there are many ways of doing poly. The most common model has a couple who are in a primary relationship who also, individually (more common) or together (less common), date other people. One relationship trumps others in terms of time, resources and commitment level: this is the one I share a bank account w/ and share a mortgage w/ and will grow old and retire w/… and if I can come back in the next life w/ someone, it will be this one. There’s another, less common, form of poly that usually takes the form of a triad or a quad (I question if it’s really possible to do this w/ more than four people involved) where everyone is equally involved w/ everyone. This is the version that looks like a parent of multiple children: you don’t put anyone first; everybody is on an equal footing. This poly structure is less common, and I imagine it mostly occurs in situations where either everybody lives together or nobody lives together. In my mind, the first version looks more like a molecule w/ two “primary” atoms bound-together at its core, holding the center, and other relationships branching off from those… and the other version is just more like those auto window stickers w/ the stick-people representing the family: everybody is standing together in-line on an equal footing.
I’m not saying any one way is right or wrong or “twue” poly. But as far as my comfort zone, I really am most comfortable w/ the primary commitment version. I have no issue telling anybody that at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, Shdwkitten is the most important person in my life. Ours is the most important relationship, the biggest commitment – she is my life partner, my spouse, my Owner, my best friend, the love of my life… that’s a dedication that trumps everything else. I proudly call her my primary partner. And I can be up front w/ anyone about that. I can lay those cards on the table. I can be in a fantastic D/s relationship w/ Loki, but Sir is perfectly aware that my Owner will always come first in my life (and he’s also married as well, so that works).
Ma’am and I have been together for nine years, and were both were on the same page… until recently, and now I feel like she’s moving toward something that might be a little outside of my comfort zone – or maybe I just haven’t yet figured out how to make it work for me. However, let me be very clear that this has absolutely nothing to do w/ her other partners. Both Lilith and Poet are AWESOME! I love having them in my family, wouldn’t trade them for anything, and if anyone ever messed w/ them, they would have to deal w/ a potentially quite dangerous wolfhound (“Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.”)
So let me break from the abstract and return to my narrative, and talk more about the positives of poly…
We had a good ride to Atlanta where we were attending a party at a new dungeon: Incognito. We thought it was a private event, and I think it was originally supposed to be, but as it turns out there was apparently some miscommunication or something, and it turned out to be open to the public. Had we known that, we’d have invited the pack to join us… This was our first time at Incognito. It’s a good space w/ a lot of great potential. Huge! It’s twice the size of 1763 (Atlanta’s other, older dungeon). They have about 6 or 8 crosses, 4 or 5 spanking benches, a medical table and a couple of massage tables, 6 or 8 ceiling chains for doing suspensions – and a pool table. It doesn’t yet have some of the cool, unique equipment that 1763 and LaFortress have (like the spider web, the jungle gym, or LF’s birdcage…) but they are still a new operation. And the place still looks like a warehouse, but they are slowly working on redecorating. Other bonuses: It’s more sex-positive than 1763, and it’s also cheaper. The warehouse is used by a weekly magazine to distribute from – but they only use it one day a week and only use about 1/4 of the space – but since that pays for the building, Incognito doesn’t have to be as profit motivated as 1763; they can charge less and also be more community supportive. I still also like 1763 and LF, but I think Incognito is going to stay around and grow. They’re off to a good start.
I got to meet some cool new people – especially MitaBear (on Fet) who is delightful. What a fun guy! Ma’am let me get my pup gear on. I got to wear my tail for the first time since the hernia surgery and my leather pup mask (both from Fetishzone.net). A couple of strangers introduced themselves and (w/ Ma’am’s permission) gave me pets and scritches. I heard that earlier that day they had a fursuiter there. I have decided you can rate how cool a place is by how welcoming they are to pups and furries in the dungeon. One guy (who gave me a lot of head scitches) recommended I look at barkingleather.com – an Atlanta-based operation. I think I’ve seen them at SELF but don’t have any of their gear – but I’m passing the tip along, so there you go...
I had also requested that Ma’am let Poet start to work w/ me more as a handler. They have taken to referring to me as “our pup,” so I figured this would help me see Poet more as handler who I belong to. I like being the family puppy… and I figure that if Lilith is going to bugger me then the least Poet can do is play fetch w/ me now and then. (And since I mentioned this, Ma’am now wants to do a photo shoot w/ Poet in military uniform w/ me on-leash. What do you think?)
Well, this is getting too damn long. Quickly: Sunday, Poet, Shdwkitten and their puppy went over to Loki’s house. Sir invited the pack over for a cook-out. Unfortunately we had to hit the road and couldn’t stay for food (which looked yuuuuuumy!), but it was good to see that pack for an hour or two, and Ma’ma fell in love w/ Sir’s foster doggie and wants to adopt him. (*sigh*)
Bottom line: Being poly has challenges, complications and compromises… but when you have really wonderful, loving, fun people and puppies in your family and pack, it’s worth it! And I have the best!