Here's your first question to us in at the start of this thread:
So I am looking for similar feelings/experience from poly ppl. What is too much? What is the line where the cost out-weighs the benefit? is she looking to boost her self-esteem by people pleasing? When is a "slut" too slutty?
I've only ever felt uncomfortable in sexual encounters when they were with people who weren't already friends. I did the truly casual thing once or twice, and it was physically enjoyable, but it didn't do it for me. Relatively new friends in a group sex context, wherein everyone's respectful and enjoying themselves, have been wonderful. I also enjoy sexual friendships, and just keep cultivating them it seems... Sexual friendships and sexual relationships are among my favorite relationships in the world these days.
That said, I'm that weird person in The Ethical Slut
, the slut who is wondering why 'you' (the hypothetical reader) are the only friend of mine I haven't slept with yet-- at least if there's no barriers to it. My hetero female and gay male friends, not a question. My monogamously attached friends, not a question. Everyone else... I'm patiently enjoying the nonsexual friendship, and watching to see what happens. My constellation is very out of the closet, so anyone looking to explore in our circle of friends knows there's no harm in asking.
Here's your question from page 2 of this thread:
I'm curious about this, because I've had a lot of discussion over respecting other people's feelings about my actions. Where is the line between respecting and simply giving in? See, I grew up with poly, and I honestly see sex as ....... a way of communicating or communing with someone, like a hug. It can certainly be much more intimate and real, but it can also be just a very enjoyable different kind of hug. How do I respect the fact that other people see it differently? How do I respect their boundaries without feeling caged in?
This wasn't such a big deal with my last boyfriend, but since then I have developed some casually sexual relationships -- with my ex, with my roommate and her boyfriend, with my Boston crowd. Sex is an important part of how I relate to them. (And there are probably some deeper psychological reasons for that, but regardless I don't think it's completely unhealthy.) So if I'm in a more serious relationship with someone who's bothered by that .... it feels like there's no right answer. What do you think?
I actually got into a conversation with RedPepper about this on another thread. Here's what I wrote about what works in my relationships:
It's actually my policy not to move at the pace of the slowest person even in an 'existing relationship with an issue' situation, wherein the 'issue' is the involvement of a third person. The rule of thumb I go by instead is: what's reasonable in this situation for the parties directly involved?
For example: one of my partners, Z, has had trouble adjusting to me taking on a friend with benefits. There are parts of my having a friend with benefits in which Z is an involved party: who I sleep with at night; how much time this friend spends with both of us (he's actually friends with the whole constellation, not just me); who I sit next to when they both are in the living room; PDAs in front of Z; the degree to which a new love brings everyone an STD risk; etc. In those issues, Z is directly affected, and how he's doing with the thought of sharing me with this friend in this particular way is a major part of any decision on the topic. However, there are other parts of my relationship with this friend that have nothing to do with Z (like whether we talk online, what we do sexually --once we've agreed on STD issues--, and how we celebrate his birthday), and so we're not going to move at Z's pace on those issues, even if he's the one struggling the most in our constellation with the whole thing.
That doesn't have to be it for you, but I completely understand the desire to be autonomous. I let myself get stuck in a situation about five years ago where one of my primaries controlled how I interacted with my other primary, to the point of severely limiting the sexual aspect of our relationships. My logic at the time was that once primary 1 (came first chronologically, and I see no desire to identify him on here) was comfortable, we'd loosen things-- which he and I both discussed at length. The situation continued for two and a half years, because none of us were ready to walk away from the unbalanced, unhealthy situation. After that, there was no way
I was ever going to be willing to relinquish my control of my loving again.
(Coincidentally, I'm rebuilding my friendship with primary 2, two years later, and we're so glad to be back in each other's lives in a healthy way. Cheers!)
No clue what the right answer is for you, and I honestly struggle with my answer, the one I gave RP, every single day. So does Z, and so does everyone else along with us. But we're committed to trying and working on it, and it's getting better all the time, so we fight to make it work.
Good luck thinking and trying, and I encourage both of you to keep posting on here-- I learn a lot reading along and writing in.