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Old 07-17-2017, 02:42 PM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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Default Can we talk about fluid bonding expectations?

I have a few questions about what is considered fluid bonding:

1. Do you consider yourself fluid bonded with someone if you receive or give oral sex without a dental dam or condom? If so, what do you require of your partner before engaging in unbarriered oral sex?

2. If someone says they are part of a "fluid bonded group" what does that mean to you? Is it a closed group where everyone is fluid bonded and not having ANY sex outside the group? Is it a closed group and everyone is having unbarriered sex with each other, as well as barriered sex outside the group?

3. Are all people in a fluid bonded group in relationships with each other? Or are they just all comfortable with the level of risk associated with each person in the network. and how does a fluid bonded "network" get defined?

Example: A and B are married and fluid bonded. B is in a relationship with C and they use condoms for penetrative sex, but have oral sex without barriers.....C is in a long-term relationship with D and they don't use barriers with each other. Are A, B, C, and D all in the same network? Do A and D have to be on the same page as far as safe sex even though they are not sleeping with each other at all? What about A and C? B and D? If B and C weren't using barriers for oral sex, would this be a breech of their fluid bonding agreements with A and D?

A little about why I am asking:

Ponytail recently brought up the idea of us (my husband, my boyfriend and I) someday deciding to become fluid-bonded. I am super confused because i already have unprotected oral sex with Ponytail -- so unless he is under the assumption that I don't do the same with my husband, aren't we already kind of fluid bonded? Are there really that many more risks with penetrative sex than oral? Ponytail and I have been recently screened and Glasses and I have been monogamous until now (and were screened years ago before becoming intimate with each other).

Obviously I can't expect to solve this by asking people on the internet -- I need to talk to both my partners about what their assumptions are regarding fluid bonding...but I am looking for some information about what other people consider to be fluid bonding in a poly situation.

Also, if I am nervous that I may have unknowingly violated an expectation by having unprotected oral sex, what is the best way to bring this up? It's already been done, and my understanding was that everyone was on the same page -- but if I am worried that we maybe are not, how do I start that conversation?
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  #2  
Old 07-17-2017, 06:48 PM
icesong icesong is offline
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It's *way* easier to not talk about fluid bonding as a state of being, but to talk about actual safer sex practices and expectations. Not using condoms/dams for oral is pretty standard for a lot of people, but does carry some risk - Artist, for instance, chooses not to do unprotected oral with anyone as it simplifies disclosure / safety and makes one of his metamours happier.

And yes, in your example, A would technically be in a "group" with D, if you think about it that way, but I'd rather focus on actual risks instead.
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Old 07-17-2017, 09:41 PM
KC43 KC43 is offline
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I'm fluid-bonded with two partners. Hubby's monogamous, so there isn't any question on his end about whether fluid-bonding will happen with anyone else. For me and my other partner, "fluid-bonded" refers only to penetrative sex; each of us use condoms if we have sex with anyone else. I have no intention of fluid-bonding with any future partners.

Oral sex without barriers falls under acceptable risk for us, though I'm not a big fan of oral anyway and rarely engage in giving or receiving with these two partners; I pretty much wouldn't do it at all with anyone else, because it's a PTSD trigger for me so needs to be done with someone I trust implicitly.

I would assume a fluid-bonded group is exactly that: A group of people who are fluid-bonded with everyone else in that group with whom they have sex. That doesn't mean everyone in the group is having sex with everyone else, just that those who are sexually involved with one another don't use barriers.
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Old 07-18-2017, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEmotional View Post
recently brought up the idea of us someday deciding to become fluid-bonded.
I may have missed an important part of your narrative: isn't your vee functionally "fluid bonded" at this point?

In any case, my impression is that this is a sort of "pre-handfasting" gambit by Ponytail, an existential "promise ring." It might be more fruitful to dig into the WHY here.

In years past, when the Condom Compact thing came up, it always seemed like the people braying most loudly were prone to messy affairs, relational blowups, unintended pregnancies, etc., yet there they were, claiming some weird moral superiority -- sorta soured me on the whole notion.

If barriers are used primarily from fear of STDs, then (IMNSHO) anyone making that claim & not using barriers for ALL sex -- including gloves, & never EVER kissing anyone's anything (ewww!) -- is on the ragged edge of being a flaming hypocrite.

But maybe it's a symbolic gesture; if a person offers some "fluid bonding" pledge, that seems a harmless enough bit of Romance.

Then again, that leads to issues of control of symbolic territory (a major underlying purpose of Romance, after all). It's not as though "fluid bonding" is somehow an enforceable contract. If I can trust my partners to stay smart... or if I can't... then exactly how does the agreement matter? Isn't it just another "anniversary" day to remember?
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:07 AM
AlwaysGrowing AlwaysGrowing is offline
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Fluid Bonding to me = PIV or PIA intercourse without barriers.

Oral/mutual masturbation are low enough risk that I don't worry about it. The exception would be if my partner was going to be with someone who has something like HSV- easily spread through ANY touch. HPV, however, is not a concern to me (unless it's an active wart making kind - that sounds a little irritating and might make me pause a minute to think about whether or not we all want to deal with that).
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2017, 05:06 PM
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vinsanity0 vinsanity0 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEmotional View Post
I have a few questions about what is considered fluid bonding:

1. Do you consider yourself fluid bonded with someone if you receive or give oral sex without a dental dam or condom? If so, what do you require of your partner before engaging in unbarriered oral sex?
I don't. I consider oral sex to be an acceptable risk. I do require a list of STIs before engaging in any sex though.

Quote:
2. If someone says they are part of a "fluid bonded group" what does that mean to you? Is it a closed group where everyone is fluid bonded and not having ANY sex outside the group? Is it a closed group and everyone is having unbarriered sex with each other, as well as barriered sex outside the group?
To me that means they use barriers outside the group.

Quote:
3. Are all people in a fluid bonded group in relationships with each other? Or are they just all comfortable with the level of risk associated with each person in the network. and how does a fluid bonded "network" get defined?
How it gets defined is up to the people involved.

Quote:
Example: A and B are married and fluid bonded. B is in a relationship with C and they use condoms for penetrative sex, but have oral sex without barriers.....C is in a long-term relationship with D and they don't use barriers with each other. Are A, B, C, and D all in the same network? Do A and D have to be on the same page as far as safe sex even though they are not sleeping with each other at all? What about A and C? B and D? If B and C weren't using barriers for oral sex, would this be a breech of their fluid bonding agreements with A and D?
The answer depends on what A, B, C , and D have decided. Yes, they are all in the same network because they are all having sex with people who are having sex with other people in that group.

The bottom line is assumptions shouldn't be made. If D thinks that unprotected oral sex is too risky, then they should have that agreement with C. If C does it anyway, then they are in breech of that agreement.

Quote:
A little about why I am asking:

Ponytail recently brought up the idea of us (my husband, my boyfriend and I) someday deciding to become fluid-bonded. I am super confused because i already have unprotected oral sex with Ponytail -- so unless he is under the assumption that I don't do the same with my husband, aren't we already kind of fluid bonded? Are there really that many more risks with penetrative sex than oral? Ponytail and I have been recently screened and Glasses and I have been monogamous until now (and were screened years ago before becoming intimate with each other).

Obviously I can't expect to solve this by asking people on the internet -- I need to talk to both my partners about what their assumptions are regarding fluid bonding...but I am looking for some information about what other people consider to be fluid bonding in a poly situation.

Also, if I am nervous that I may have unknowingly violated an expectation by having unprotected oral sex, what is the best way to bring this up? It's already been done, and my understanding was that everyone was on the same page -- but if I am worried that we maybe are not, how do I start that conversation?
Well, you let Ponytail know you have all manners of unprotected sex with Glasses. You ask Glasses if unprotected oral sex is within the bounds of whatever agreement you have.

Are you not having penetrative sex with Ponytail?
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Old 07-18-2017, 08:30 PM
breathemusic breathemusic is offline
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There is a significant difference in the risk of transmitting most STDs/STIs between oral, PIV, and PIA (increasing risk in that order).

From what I can tell, the majority of people would consider fluid-bonded to refer to PIV/PIA and not to oral, but I agree that it's something you should clarify with your partners rather than just assume.

When I refer to who I'm fluid bonded with, I'm only referring to my actual partners that I am intimate with. If they are intimate with someone else, even if they are fluid bonded, I wouldn't consider myself fluid bonded to them. Instead I just note that that portion of our polycule is fluid bonded. There's still a direct connection there in terms of risk that we all know about, but to me, that's just the interpretation of those word choices. But again, I assume that there will be some variation on that interpretation from person to person.
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:25 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi MsEmotional,

My rule of thumb is to think of fluid-bonding as unprotected (no condom) PIV and/or PIA. If I mean it to include (unprotected) oral sex, I will probably explicitly say so. When discussing it with one's partner/s, one should definitely clarify which meaning is being used, so that everyone is on the same page.

I think a "fluid-bonded group" is a group of people who may have unprotected sex (PIV/PIA) with each other, but who never have unprotected sex outside of the group. I don't think that everyone in a fluid-bonded group is sexually involved with everyone else in the group, necessarily. Just that they are "sexually linked."

In your example, A-B and C-D comprise two separate fluid-bound units. Unless we specifically include oral sex in the definition, in which case A-B-C-D adds up to one fluid-bound unit. When the four people talk to each other about fluid-bonding, they should clarify with each other whether or not they are including oral in the definition.

When he talks about fluid-bonding, I think Ponytail is talking about intercourse, but you should ask him if he means oral as well.

I'm no expert, but I'm guessing breathemusic is right when she says oral is the least risky, and PIA is the most risky.

As for how you tell Glasses that you've had unprotected oral sex with Ponytail, you say something simple like, "Glasses, I am worried that I may have violated an expectation; I have had unprotected oral sex with Ponytail. Can we talk about that?"

Hopefully that helps.
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  #9  
Old 07-22-2017, 10:47 PM
MsEmotional MsEmotional is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Hi MsEmotional,

My rule of thumb is to think of fluid-bonding as unprotected (no condom) PIV and/or PIA. If I mean it to include (unprotected) oral sex, I will probably explicitly say so. When discussing it with one's partner/s, one should definitely clarify which meaning is being used, so that everyone is on the same page.

...

As for how you tell Glasses that you've had unprotected oral sex with Ponytail, you say something simple like, "Glasses, I am worried that I may have violated an expectation; I have had unprotected oral sex with Ponytail. Can we talk about that?"

Hopefully that helps.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
Thanks Kevin. This is exactly how I approached the conversation with Glasses and it went well. Unfortunately, he did have the expectation that we were using protection for oral sex, but he handled the miscommunication in stride and was really understanding about how difficult it was for me to have accidentally betrayed his trust.
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  #10  
Old 07-23-2017, 12:39 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Glad to hear that turned out alright.
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