Planet Waves FM: A conversation with C.T. Butler about relationships, the universe and everything

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Editor’s Note: C.T. Butler’s name has come up a couple of times today, and after seeing that this post got 37 comments, I thought I would reprise our interview from over the summer. Wow that was already two months ago. This discussion has a resonance with the weekend’s astrology, which is all about relationships and how we experience them. New entries are posted below this one. — efc

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Today’s edition of Planet Waves FM is a conversation with my old friend C.T. Butler, the most famous person you’ve never heard of. Author of Food Not Bombs, co-creator of IndyMedia and a contributor to the field of consensus building and nonviolent communication, C.T. and I talk about his influences on the polyamory movement, the idea of compersion and how exactly society could benefit from a non-possessive model of relationships.

To listen to today’s edition of Planet Waves FM in the old player, or to view the archives going back more than a year, check this link. If you listen to Planet Waves FM in iTunes, please check this letter to iTunes listeners.

Thank you!
Eric Francis

Eric Francis

About Eric Francis

Planet Waves began in 1998 as the home of the Eric Francis horoscope, a prominent feature in our premium service. Going far beyond what most Sun-sign astrologers even dream is possible, Eric brings in-depth interpretations to his work. He is a pioneer in the newly-discovered planets, including Chiron and the centaurs, and is able to translate their movements into accessible human terms, offering ideas for life, love and work. Discover a whole new world of literary journalism in Planet Waves. We offer free trial subscriptions, discounts for students and seniors, and gift subscriptions for veterans and those on active military duty.
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40 Responses to Planet Waves FM: A conversation with C.T. Butler about relationships, the universe and everything

  1. Pingback: A Polyamory Pioneer

  2. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    I just listened to the whole thing through, doing dishes in my studio. Very interesting conversation. Lots of good framing of perplexing issues as we put our minds together.

  3. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    eric – glad you re-posted this! it crossed my mind to re-post it a couple times over the last couple weeks in response to conversation threads on the blog. it’s a great interview.

  4. susyc says:

    Carrie, the email person is looking for a ‘2nd half,’ so probably I’d be a third wheel, but I’d love a wife too, someone to get me organized and cleaned up and out the door with my sack lunch. My sister and I were just talking about this today. I like Maria Padhila’s (sp?) post today or yesterday, about how the nuclear family was a new invention to increase consumerism. You know when I was young, I loved having extended family around, always something happening and funny conversations going on. I agree with Maria that these times are calling us to pull together. But now I get tired. We just moved my disabled sister out on her own, I have a daughter trying to get through college in record time with a mentally ill husband who is taking care of her grandmother, my mother, and their two boys, my own needy friends and other basic worries. The calls upon my purse are regular and I definitely have some responsibility to help, especially those helping me by taking care of my mother. Would it help us all to live together? Where would I get the energy to go to work? When would I get quiet time or creativity time? Luckily we are all, disabled sister and mother and all, only 10 minutes apart.

  5. Carrie says:

    Susyc,

    Your post made me think about a sentiment I have often expressed around the house. I keep saying that what I need is a wife; someone to do for me what I did for my husband when he was in college. I did everything for him short of doing his classes; I scheduled his health stuff, paid all bills, did all the financial aid paperwork for him, ran errands to deliver papers for him, typed up resumes, answered e-mails. If his future employers ever knew I was the one responding and agreeing to the interview times it would have been disastrous. I was basically his housekeeper, parenting his kids, his cook, laundress, scheduler, personal assistant, sexual partner and emotional coach. I handled all correspondences, took phone messages, and so much more. If only someone could cook, do laundry, schedule, create lesson plans, teach my son (I am not that good at teaching) and keep my calendar for me it would be heaven. ::::laughing:::

  6. susyc says:

    So interesting how responsive is the universe. In just considering the possibility of having a concubine for me and my husband, I receive this message in my email:

    “Hello my stranger!! I write to you – these lines of the letter in hope
    and search of second half. The person from 30 years. In hope to cast
    in the lot!! About myself I will tell to me 27, that I was not married
    and I have no children. If you interests and further ours relations
    write me the answer. I send you the photo in hope, that it was
    pleasant to you. And as I wait from you for your letter and your
    photos!!! I hope for your answer!!! With the big respect for you!!”

    I don’t think we meet her requirements being a fair amount older than 30 years each. I didn’t open the suggestive photo being afraid of viruses.

  7. susyc says:

    So, just for fun, is there a verb form of compersion? What part of speech is compersion? Come on grammar experts help me out. Is it an adverb or an adjective or a noun? Past participle suggestions: comperted, compersed. Present tense: compert, comperse. Let’s compert! We comperted yesterday. Tomorrow we will compert again. They comperted themselves without decorum on the roof and much fun was had by all. I like compert! Sounds kind of saucy! Comperse, hmmmm, not so much.

  8. Carrie says:

    “At times during my marriage it’s been clear that my husband and I have a pretty deep psychic connection too. He’s been aware of deep upsets and feelings I’ve had without my telling him, even being aware of a dream state I was in at one point and responding to it in a way that comforted me. I still don’t know how he knew. Our marriage has been a spiritual discipline, too. Monogamy as spiritual discipline. Not imposed but chosen.”

    My DH too. I am usually very competent and complete within myself but when I am most vulnerable, he seems to know it without me saying it and he knows exactly how to comfort me without words. He seems to sense when I am needy and respond to it with gentle healing touch. He has Capricorn rising so he is not one to express his feelings openly but he gives to me the way I need it most; with touch. I feel amazingly fortunate to have him in my life.

    I come across in my writing as a vulnerable, easily hurt person but that’s because writing is the one place my Piscean side comes out. In real life, I am this hard-working, practical, realist Virgo rising person who can handle a lot and keep on going. I am stronger than these words appear; people who know me in real life are always surprised to read what I write because it is so opposite the competent, emotionally stable person they are used to relating to. That’s the problem with my relationships online; they have no idea who I am as a whole person. It was one of the reasons I really wanted to talk to internet guy on the phone because then he would be able to hear that strong person I am and know he could be honest with me without fear of hurting me too much.

    Relationships are so complicated; this is why I am really not looking for any more love relationships; between mine with DH and the parent-child relationship I have with our four kids and the friends I have, my hands are full.

  9. Carrie says:

    susyc,

    Thanks for the great reply. I know feelings are not bad in themselves and that it is what you do about them that can cause problems. I guess part of why I feel bad is because after I told the internet guy my feelings, I wondered if he felt pinned to a wall. I mean how do you answer that kind of question if a). you don ‘t have the same feelings but you are afraid to tell because you don’t want to cause hurt and b). you have some feelings but don’t know how to describe them without leading the questioner on? I felt like I put him in a bad spot. It would be like having a long-time best girlfriend and then you tell her you have really connected feelings for her and you are having sexual feelings too. How would I feel if someone told me that and then asked me how I felt in return? I told him because I thought he could handle that information and I wanted to check my perceptions and be honest with him but now I think it was not the best thing to do.

    I don’t know if I was clear enough about what I was wanting; I wanted clarification to check my perceptions but I also was fine if he said he didn’t feel the same connection. I know that sounds weird but I don’t love him (at least not like I do DH) and I wanted to know where to put him and our relationship in my mind; I have Virgo rising and I need to categorize people, relationships and all that to feel comfortable. I would have accepted whatever answer he gave and agreed to the parameters he set if he had done that. I valued the relationship that much. This feels like I lost by best girlfriend. I just don’t know how to approach such things and I am afraid I pushed him away by telling him how I feel and by asking for an answer. I miss our discussion and would have been just happy to have that part back. What if he is also missing that conversation and I ruined the relationship by asking? Then I have caused harm. :::sigh:::

    All I know is, this is new territory for me and yet old as well. I have never been very good at making or keeping friends; I seem too honest about my feelings for most people. I guess people prefer things left unsaid. Growing up in a family consumed by lies (the elephant in the living room) I have had to try to be honest not only with others but most of all with myself. Problem is, I keep thinking people are up to that kind of honesty and then I find that apparently they are not. This means I am really misunderstanding them so I will have to do better.

  10. susyc says:

    Great comment Carrie. It’s wonderful to have friendships with the opposite or same sex and it’s sad that there are so many barriers to them. It’s probably easier for same sex friendships to slide under the radar a bit more easily.

    Feelings are feelings and there aren’t any shoulds/shouldn’ts about them except maybe one big one. Not acknowledging and accepting them is generally bad policy. They might be submerged in that unconscious ocean and bob up now and then, to be shoved back down, only to be expressed sideways without awareness. It’s better to have them up for review making the conscious choice about whether to act on them or not and being honest with ourselves and others whom our choices might affect.

    At times during my marriage it’s been clear that my husband and I have a pretty deep psychic connection too. He’s been aware of deep upsets and feelings I’ve had without my telling him, even being aware of a dream state I was in at one point and responding to it in a way that comforted me. I still don’t know how he knew. Our marriage has been a spiritual discipline, too. Monogamy as spiritual discipline. Not imposed but chosen.

    I can imagine polyamory as a spiritual discipline. I wonder what it would look like in practice. Loving and healing in a group with loving kindness at the heart of it.

  11. CarolineKelly says:

    Thank you Eric,C T and commentators! Wow, really gives me so much to think about. Wonderful program.
    Caroline

  12. Carrie says:

    susyc,

    Your husband sounds a lot like mine except mine wants monogamy but will not stop me were I to do something else.

    Like you, I tell my DH when I have feelings. We were going along just fine; I had no addictions when we met but I did have issues based on past abuse at the hands of a brother, husband, and boyfriend. DH knew I had slept around a lot before meeting him and knew that I was highly and easily sexed but he also knew I was the kind that doesn’t want another relationship once I am in one where my feelings are involved.

    Around 14 years ago, I began an online chat with a guy just to insert what I felt was my different point of view (being a married woman with children). This conversation went along for some years and got more and more like two girlfriends sharing their deepest feelings and thoughts. Like girlfriends do, we shared what our sex lives were like; problem is, we weren’t both female. I made sure he knew I was monogamously married and not looking for anyone else; in other words I made sure to set the boundaries. These were sharing conversations, more of a philosophical flavor than titillation or sex-interplay, Things went along fine until suddenly, he started using terms of endearment when he wrote me and that set off alarms with me. The more he shared, the more connected I felt with him until one day he shared more than I expected. He wasn’t just sharing with me; I knew he shared with several (or even a lot) of people so I was not thinking that he had any stronger feelings for me until he started using those terms of endearment.

    Then, I started having feelings I hadn’t thought I would have. I was very upset because after all, I was the one who had set the boundaries and here I was…the same one who started having feelings. I told him how I felt and he didn’t seem upset about it but when I asked how he felt (in order to know how to place him in my mind) he would not answer. I felt really bad about the whole thing despite trying to be very honest with him, myself, and my husband. Even though I had feelings for him, I could not tell exactly how to categorize him in my life. Thankfully, my husband helped by not going all possessive or jealous on me; he just listened and asked me things to help me clarify my feelings and allowed me space and time to figure things out. He wants us to be monogamous but he seemed willing to support me if that changed for me. Until I had those feelings for this other man, I thought I was highly sexed (meaning I can get turned on by other men) but I had no desire to act on those feelings. I still don’t.

    Now I have lost that guy friend and I miss discussing with him so much but I cannot do anything else; he didn’t answer me so I have to move on. My husband is happy that he is out of my life (he was honest about that; we try to be honest with each other) but he is also sympathetic with me as I grieve that loss.

    I always knew I was able to love more than one person; that wasn’t the shock. What I didn’t know was how easily I could have deep, strong, connected feelings for someone I have never met and have only conversed with online; and how easily those feelings could turn into sexual ones. THAT is what scared me and made me feel bad because I was the one insisting on the “this isn’t about sex between us” deal all along. I hadn’t asked to feel that way and I wasn’t expecting it either; before that I had only had sexual feelings for men I was physically close to or around; this guy was an internet relationship only. The power of connection was something I didn’t bargain for. And I certainly didn’t want to push that on the guy or mess with him or my husband if the feelings were not returned (which I had suspected they weren’t).

    Relationships are more than just those people you deal with in real life. The internet has created intimate relationships that have strong emotional connections and I still don’t know how to categorize that guy I was relating with. I think our society will have to figure those things out eventually.

  13. susyc says:

    I think I did the satellite relationship play partner thing before my marriage with an early boyfriend. But it wasn’t comfortable at the time. I had too many conflicting feelings and negative self-judgments about my sexuality and ‘sleeping around’ to be able to enjoy that time a whole lot. I was really so sick from my sex abuse history that I couldn’t tell a ‘safe’ man from a perpetrator and I had very little experience of positive masculinity.

    When, by some miracle, I was able to hook up with a man who had the patience to walk with me through a recovery from alcoholism, years of working on healing from my sex abuse history, and becoming a competent woman and mother, I guess I decided that the best thing to do would be to stick to him like glue.

    But I was lucky with him in so many other ways too. After I sobered up, I found myself being attracted to other people sexually for the first time in my marriage. We’d been married five years by then. Before, the addiction, denial, maybe that dream of perfect monogamy had dampened those feelings. I didn’t know what to do with those feelings, and when I found myself kissing some other man out front of the AA club, I got scared. I called my husband on the phone and told him what I had done and that I was scared. After that, I continued to tell him about my feelings. Telling him seemed to defuse a need to act on the feelings. I still wanted to be monogamous.

    It was when I found myself starting to have sexual feelings for women that things really started to heat up. It took me a long time to open up to my husband about those feelings. I was so frightened. I was sure that this outrageousness would finally drive him away. Finally I was at the tell him about it or do something about it stage, so I told him. It was hard. Here I was 15+years married, 3 kids, and bisexual too?? WTF! He received the information as calmly as he’d received everything else. But he did say that he was still committed to monogamy and that sex outside the marriage was still off limits whether it was with a man or a woman. I felt a lot of grief that I had never been able to explore that side of myself. I finally told him, “I have no idea how this is going to turn out.” He said, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

    I guess it just comes down to wanting him more. I want him more. The guy just continually accepts me. It’s funny our urges to break out of monogamy haven’t matched up. When he had his midlife crisis and wasn’t sure he wanted to stay in the marriage I fought for him. I became ready to let go of him, but I fought for him also, and eventually he decided to stay. It’s funny I can honestly say I fought for him to stay, but staying was 100% his own decision.

    We’ve had a friendship throughout these almost 35 years as of August 21st, love laughing together, and still turn each other on after all this time. It has been a joy and privilege to live through so many needy years with him and then begin to give back. When he had colon cancer 11 years ago, it was my turn to be the strong one. He’ll retire 6 years ahead of me in several years and is 61 now and I plan to work hard to make our last years together as secure as possible, the same way he worked in the beginning to help bring me into the light. I have offered to get us concubine, but he says “No, thank you.”

  14. michele michele says:

    yes. the libido aspect is partially at the root. everyone tracks differently. i don’t know what the fuck that language is… but it just is. make a flow chart for one person, that’s one person. try to keep a flow chart of everyone’s libido…. gah. we’re all different. and that’s OK. and any way you look at it we fit and we don’t and we fit again and we don’t again.

    i can hardly keep up with myself. not sure how you match with others. but i guess that’s my deal right now. figuring it all out. but for the record, i lie awake at night these days twisting in my blankets. i have fucked my pillows since i was 7 or so. that hasn’t changed. makes it difficult for a man in bed with me. people need sleep. (insert a smile here.) libido…. hmmmm….

  15. Carrie says:

    One of my favorite parts of the discussion was about differences in libido. CT mentioned his was once a day and one of his partners was once a week. I know how that feels; mine seems to be more frequent than DH’s (in fact mine has been higher than any man I hook up with; seems I radar to men with low libidos) so I can get rather…tense. Or sometimes he wants it and I don’t for whatever reason (that’s more rare). I can see where having different partners with different frequencies can be a plus but that begs the question; if one partner matches you better, then how do the other partners have time with you if you are getting satisfied with that one?

    Too much wrangling for me; though I can do this in my head (as a way to understand poly life) actively living it sounds way too busy and stressful and like a lot more work than I have time or energy for.

  16. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    p.s. carrie — one of my intimate friends here at camp is someone who described his marriage as “monogamish” two years ago when we first connected here. it cracked me up then and still does.

    and it occurs to me, that at last summer’s dance camp (and perhaps this one, if i could ever get enough sleep to feel vaguely aroused — sheesh!) are the contexts within which i have maybe come the closest to any form of “intimate network,” though i still clearly have a primary partner. maybe someday soon i’ll get around to sharing the story of how i found myself at the center of three very special men here who were all in complete harmony around sharing me. it was pretty amazing.

  17. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    random, sleepy thought as i try to finish work tonight and get back to dance camp; spurred by a few comments here:

    i particularly struggle with the situation of having a lover who seems to be more in tune with the “intimate network” model while i am still plugged into a primary relationship with him on my end, with a few intimate friendships i currently only get to connect with once or twice a year (i just haven’t cultivated anything local lately).

    maybe it comes down to solidifying my relationship to myself first, but in the meantime, it can be stressful….

  18. astrodem says:

    awordedgewise,

    I was just reflecting on my days in my college a cappella group and in the college gospel choir. BTW, I’m white, gay, Jewish, very liberal, and very astrological. So thank goodness for coordinated motion. I don’t know how I would have survived either of those choirs without it!

  19. darkmary says:

    World as lover. Yes. The hum of crickets, distant siren. August night air blowing through a fan against my face. Tomatoes from the garden, dripping with juice, a stranger’s gaze. Steam pouring off a morning cup of tea, a woman’s bare shoulders, the rise and fall of green earth. This is what enters me now, slowly, and then urgently. Just I enter her, enter him. And the lines blur.

    Thank you, everyone, for giving so much of yourselves. Sweetest dreams.

  20. michele michele says:

    I truly appreciate this converstion. And I’m not really certain how to express this… I’m not a very good juggler. It takes a lot of energy to “manage” people. Which is what I find a lot of people want. Or maybe what I create. Hard to say, at the moment. But it just feels like people have to be managed just right. What I’m discovering is that if in the initial conversation, some clarity can exist, I can step away from that role. Less managing, more loving. Still haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the podcast. But, as I said, really truly appreciate the comments. Hopefully I’ll have the time to listen to this one soon. “Intimate network…” I like that. Far more than any other language I’ve heard around sexuality, intimacy. love, relationship etc. All of it. Sounds more like the way I’m made.

    SO thanks for all of the honesty here.

  21. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    “…modern poly, which is more like swinging: primary partner, plus a bunch of satellite relationships or play partners.”

    Ya, this is what I mostly l see too. Pretty common. Im sure it’s an easier scenario although I’m not personally into the “hold onto someone while I play with someone else” thing. Can’t we all just be Free. Oh, I sound soooo “hippy”! lol!)

    My current “situation” is that myself and one partner are “old-fashioned poly” but his other partner hasn’t evolved past something more like “swinging”.

    So ‘one day at a time and enjoy the journey…..

  22. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    I don’t think CT has those kinds of bullshit negotiations. I think he just wants to be told the truth, or have the experiences be within the agreement.

    I take “let” as meaning, “make space within myself for.”

    As for poly having everyone on the same level — as in no primary, no secondary — this is an idea of early poly, but definitely not modern poly, which is more like swinging: primary partner, plus a bunch of satellite relationships or play partners.

  23. Carrie says:

    Eric,

    On a different note:
    I can tell you who we sell those million Macs to: India and China both have huge and fast-growing middle classes; the plan is for us to be the low-wage serfs and China and India to be the new consumers. That makes more sense than CT’s answer (I stole this idea from my husband).

    This was a really amazing conversation; I hope you share more of these.

  24. Carrie says:

    There are some monogamous people who are not actively looking for any other people but they have the aptitude, or ability, or openness to be poly. I read an article that called this monogamish, as in sort of monogamous, not swinging, not actively looking, but open to other relationships.

    I really believe that the reason people fear polyamory is because they fear losing the person they are attached to. If there are children involved, that could be a very risky thought indeed. Imagine having a family going on and one of the parents falls in love with someone else. The remaining partner may not like the new one and the new one may not like the remaining one. The kids belong to the original pair and the remaining partner then worries that the one who has fallen for another person may leave. The impact of this for the remaining partner or the children can be devastating which is why the fear is there. Financially dependent remaining partners feel doubly fearful. Kids will also feel threatened. Of course this is a worst-case scenario but that’s what the fears scream in the remaining partner’s head. I think those fears, if addressed and if believed (and that is the hardest part, making the people involved believe) can be dealt with.

    I do think relationship is a good word for any connections we all have no matter what those connections are.

    For myself, I think the internet has created relationships that were never happening before. For example two people interacting online and sharing deep intimate thoughts about their lives, feelings, and sexuality; what definition would we place on that? Are they friends? Intimate friends? Lovers? What if they talk about how they feel about sex (in a philosophical way, not geared to turning each other on)? Are they having sex? What if one or the other or both are in long-term relationships with someone else? Is that cheating? What do you call those kinds of relationships? What if it changes from a philosophical discussion to a deep, emotional connection? Is it cheating if it is only an emotional connection? Is this a real relationship? All I know is, when I had one like that, it felt real to me and losing it has caused me the same grief as losing a real life friend.

    Relationships are something I have been dealing with and making my study for a long time. This is where I want to make a difference.

  25. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Astrodem,

    Every Dance needs a Bumbling Peasant.

    Everyone can’t be Dance Lord.

    And Coordinated Motion can be a nice augmentation to the Festival.

  26. astrodem says:

    I most definitely do not have the gift of the dance. If there were a Lord of the Dance, I would be the Bumbling Peasant of the Dance. Coordinated motion is about all I can handle.

  27. susyc says:

    Such an interesting conversation today. I was just talking to a young man about polyamory last night who’s view of it was pretty negative. He says from what he’s seen of the ‘polyamorous’ they’re mostly unhappy, jealous, feeling like they’re not getting enough or that their poly partner is getting too much, drama, drama, drama. “That’s funny,” I said to him. “Polyamory works perfectly in my fantasies.” We both got a good laugh out of that.

    I remember a recent Andy Borowitz line: “The song Sex On Fire makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong,” so maybe if polyamory isn’t fun, it might be a clue that you’re not doing it right. Certainly for it to work out it seems like everyone has to be held to pretty high expectations, particularly in the realms of maturity and the ability to be honest about who you really are, and some pretty good negotiating skills. Lacking maturity and honesty would ramp up control issues and codependency rather than the opposite, however, that would probably definitely be on the not doing it right side of things…

    Even CT, in the discussion today used the word ‘let’ to describe his permission for one of his partners to go off and enjoy herself with someone else. To that, I would say “What’s this ‘let’ shit kemosabe?” I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that she actually needs his permission. Equality is equality, right? But there are probably lots of negotiations about where you going, how long you gonna be gone, when you gonna come home, blah, blah, blah….and awordedgewise has it right; it can’t really be polyamory if there’s a primary relationship and then all these little satellites…seems like each relationship needs to be equally important, another challenge to maturity and honesty. But maybe it’s even deeper than that. Each individual participant needs to be equally important. Now there’s a challenge.

    The podcast today was serendipitous. My dad was interested in ‘open marriage’ back there in the 70’s and tried to talk my mom into it but she would have none of it. I wish CT had been around to counsel them; they married and divorced each other twice.

    I have a nephew in a “polyamorous” situation. Married to a woman who six months into their marriage informed him that she was in love with another man also and wanted to move him into their home. She didn’t want to split, she loved both of them and so he said OK. They are still together as far as I know. I am sorry I don’t see much of them. I’ve invited them over as a trio but the other man is shy, doesn’t want to meet or socialize with my nephew’s extended family, not sure why, but I can see a lot of reasons why it might be difficult. I hope they’re happy. I hope they’re truly polyamorous and doing it right. That seems to be the only way to make it work. I’m fairly sure my nephew has a girlfriend or two now also.

    I must confess though that I felt a deep sadness when I first found out. The ideal of monogamy is that you will find someone who thinks the sun rises and sets in your eyes, the be all, end all, soulmate, completer, etc., as CT and Eric talk about in this podcast. How realistic is that? However unrealistic, I felt sad that my nephew’s ideals in this department were blown apart so early. I wonder if what has replaced those ideals is worth it for him in particular. I kind of doubt it since he speaks of the other man rather disparagingly. But they all live together. That sounds different than the households CT was talking about. Then again I wonder how you can expect young adults to have the maturity, honesty and skills to be able to grow into making polyamory work, but it looks like the answer might be in the question. You grow into it if it’s really what you want.

    My nephew’s father is my brother. My brother is married to a woman who underwent a female to male gender change, so unusual relationships are not unheard of in our family. My brother’s wife came into awareness of his gender identity disorder in the course of their marriage, they worked on it together, he had some surgery done to remove his breasts, and they continue in their marriage together to this day. My nephew is from my brother’s first marriage. It still makes me feel a bit dizzy to think about all this. It works for my brother and his wife. They still like us to think of them as husband and wife and I do.

    Now as for me. I am perfectly polyamorous in my own mind. My husband prefers monogamy and so far, I prefer my husband. It would take a lot of work to arrange a different agreement. However I have sent my astral sexual self out on one or two occasions to particular men for different reasons. Once to comfort a man who’s wife recently died, and again to comfort myself during hormone surges driving a particularly high libido in midlife. They were both fully consensual fantasies on the parts of all involved, except perhaps, my husband, and I know they were consensual because of the responses of the two men involved. My husband is not open to discussions of polyamory at this time. They scare him.

    I’m sure, like Jimmy Carter, my husband has strayed at least in his mind from the straight and narrow of monogamy. I wonder if he might have strayed physically. There was a time in my life when this would have been devastating to me. Now I don’t think I would be devastated, but I think he abides by the old ‘don’t kiss and tell’ policy, so if he ever did sleep with another woman during our marriage, he won’t tell me.

    I have guilt about how I cut him off from friendships with women he knew from college early in our marriage. Good friendships are rare and shouldn’t be interfered with. He has female friends at work now and I am glad of it. In fact, we’ve both talked about our ‘work wives and work husbands.’ Just people you pair with in the work environment to get things done. All relationships can be fertile. They just might not result in actual sex and human babies. Brainstorming at work is sexy. Fantasizing is sexy. Creativity is sexy. Life is sexy.

  28. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    Yes – Eric — I took note, literally, of your “Intimate Network” phrase during this listening.

    In my experience the Intimate Network is a profoundly important POV for healthy relationships; I share this POV with you. It is a challenge to work with this space when so many people are still in one phase or another of “mono”-type relationship/s (including “open” relationships or any other relationship wherein there is a “primary partner”.)

    It seems to me the idea/l behind “poly” is that no one is favored or “primary”.

    I know that I am in a fairly unique social situation which doesn’t bear long-form here; but regardless, the journey leads (hopefully) to the same place as any other; as much loving, respectful, erotic, etc etc relations between each of us as possible.

    I have long kept close to my heart your suggestion of this as a kind of yoga.
    Thank you.
    xo

  29. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    Worth repeating:

    Partner or no, all I can say is how great it is to feel so alive! And while, for me right now, masturbation is no substitution for a hard, thrusting cock (PW if you need to edit my language, please do) I am finding that I have been able to channel this incredible desire and longing to myself as never before. In fact, today I realized I am falling in love with myself.
    — Dark Mary

    Yes, it’s not about substitution but about taking the energy in a different way. In terms of substitution, however, you can look at it this way — the partner is the substitute for the deep connection with oneself. The sex with the partner just might be a substitution for that deep sense of contact with oneself. Once you subtract “the purpose of sex is making babies” from the equation, you open up a lot of possibilities for erotic relating. At that point the healing level can be reached; the inner relational aspect can be reached. Here is an example.

    As for the primary relationship theme — polyamory has gone almost entirely into the direction of primary and secondary relationships, rather than intimate network or panfidelity. CT and I am among the few still discussing the intimate network model. I think that this is, at least, an essential step away from heteronormative relationships. It’s the blend of ‘single’ and ‘partnered’ or you might say the essence of taking the world as one’s lover.

    It is challenging to keep people in our lives on a more or less equal plane, and some will be offended by that idea at first. I find that to do this with any success I must focus on being my own lover first, as a kind of yoga, and the people that can accept that are the ones who get closer to me. But this takes a lot of focus and awareness. For those of you who have read any of Book of Blue, this is the process I am describing in many of the entries and just about all of the photo sessions.

  30. darkmary says:

    aword, I am so new to this journey, I wouldn’t want to try and comment on your questions, but to say thank you for asking them and thank you to Planet Waves for creating a space in which to hold them. love to you…

  31. darkmary says:

    Carrie, I completely understand your near-constant desire to fuck and feel it daily myself, but am without a ‘regular’ sexual partner. For the first time in my life I think I finally understand what it must be like to be a 16 year old boy with a hard-on that won’t quit. Partner or no, all I can say is how great it is to feel so alive! And while, for me right now, masturbation is no substitution for a hard, thrusting cock (PW if you need to edit my language, please do) I am finding that I have been able to channel this incredible desire and longing to myself as never before. In fact, today I realized I am falling in love with myself. It has to do with really discovering my own integrity, which, for me, means holding and acknowledging all of the different parts of myself–masculine, feminine, gay, straight, bi, scared, courageous, strong, tender–all of those ‘contradictions’ I had tried so hard to either ignore or reconcile into some neat package. And this falling in love with myself is made sweeter with the most incredible sexual desire of my life.

    So, enjoy it Carrie! Eat up your own slick wetness, your throbbing desire, the fire that is burning you through and through. Offer it to the universe. It is a gift to all of us. It is healing what needs to be healed. It is nothing less than the fire of life. Fuck away, darlin’!

  32. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    (Yes, I get the idea of self-strength going above and beyond that. But I am NOT a super-hero. I go above and beyond and renew my faith in myself and my friends and lovers all the time. BUT – “primary relationship” necessarily ruptures the basic idea of Polyamory.)

  33. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    PS.

    A point that is missing from everything Polyamorous I have read or heard to date is:

    Just as s/he may come back to one relationship with “juice” and “energy” from another relationship,

    So must the latter relationship be one within which s/he may come back to with “juice” and “energy” to the former (relationship – and equally for potentially many other relationships).

    So far in my experience, I have found discussions/books on Poly to miss this vital point; that having one “main” relationship still excludes most of what the poly-community is preaching.

    There remains a strong inference of a Primary Relationship exisiting within any Poly relationship – thereby excluding other relationship/s from the same parameters – and this keeps the teeter-totter out of balance….and making it seem like what Poly is Preaching is just freedom to screw around outside of Primary Relationship. This makes the Outsider prone to be a Third Wheel.

    Being a Third Wheel can be a choice; but it is not often the choice of those that would be truly Poly Amorous.

    I believe in the conversations’ intent – but this point is NOT being presented clearly and it is personally close to my heart to have it be heard. I for one, am patiently working with the less flexible emotions of others in this regard, and it is an often difficult and LONELY place to be.

    xo

  34. Carrie says:

    :::resid::::::

    Stellium and darkmary, nice comments. Darkmary, I love your openness about your life.

    Speaking of sexuality.. ::::warning, graphic sexuality ahead:::::
    Today I am in the grip of a raging lust and it makes me wonder if this is what men deal with every day. I mean I can hardly concentrate. It started this morning as my DH and I cuddled naked in the bed, belly to belly, the heat of him soaking my skin, and it has gotten worse as the day goes on. It is a constant throbbing desire, a slick wetness with every step, an open and ready emptiness wanting to be filled. Every erogenous zone is on fire. Every decent looking man I see I envision him thrusting hard and fast between my legs. Damn! How do men deal with this if they feel like this ALL THE TIME???? And me a long-time, happily married woman? I can barely wait for DH to get home. If we had no kids around I would rape him the moment he came home (provided of course that he wasn’t too tired or unwilling).

    How DO men get anything done while feeling like this? I mean, I want to fuck badly. No wonder they feel at a disadvantage around women. No wonder they have “one thing on their mind.” Hormones drive this stuff.

    The person I want is DH so anyone else would be a poor substitute because it was his skin I felt, his touch that lit me up this morning, his smell, his breath, his voice, his kiss. I want to absorb him and enfold him deep within me. :::sigh::: I miss him.

    :::wishing there were a functioning edit/delete button because I am going to regret being this candid:::::

  35. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    **Note*

    Dear Eric and C.T.,

    I Love You.

    -Word.on.Edge

  36. michele michele says:

    wah. i need to get on top of my freaking technology. i’m missing too many of these. and now this: relationships, the universe, and everything???? i think i’ll have to sneak into work late tonight and go have a listen. stupid laptop. stupid safe mode. stupid viral crap.

    ooops. that would be teenaged mars comin’ on my merc. acting like a big baby. and blaming everyone but my own self. do i get special dispensation for all that being in my 12th? i know there’s an appropriate rolling stones song… take me to the station? something about the devil?

  37. darkmary says:

    What a treat your conversation was! From someone, who only in the last year crossed the threshold of being willing to be alone rather than be in a ‘bad’ relationship, a heart-felt thank you, CT and Eric. At the age of 46, as I settle into a life of living alone as a single person for the first time since I was 23, I sometimes (and simultaneously) feel both the loneliest and the most whole, complete and joyful I have ever felt. My marriage wasn’t ‘bad’; there was and remains deep love and respect between me and my former partner. I simply outgrew the relationship model of a monogamous dyad. In retrospect, I realize it was never a good fit for me, particularly as a bisexual person. As I listened to the two of you talk (please, have more conversations, Eric and CT!) I realized that although I am now officially ‘single’, I am enjoying multiple intimate relationships, some of which have recently been sexual relationships, some not. One of my most recent joys has been a deepening friendship with a man with whom I was lovers with this year. We would likely still be physically involved if I hadn’t moved many states away. Now, our conversations are as much of an sexual exploration as our physical relationship was. I have loved being centered enough in myself to support him as he also explores a love affair with another woman. I take genuine joy and pleasure in his sexual pleasure, of which he sometimes relates to me in great detail.

    In another relationship with a former lover, I have struggled with my own clinging and jealousy, and though experiencing those emotions are painful, I have been grateful for the opportunity to come face to face with the old wounds that his involvement with another woman has triggered. It has been my experience that through the re-opening of improperly healed wounds I have finally been able care for myself (or parts of myself) in ways I couldn’t when those wounds were first endured. Frozen emotional patterns and energies are thawing and beginning to flow.

    With my former partner, I am exploring some of the complexity of my sexuality (and hers, as well) in a way we were not able to explore when we were married. The landscape of my relationships is rich and fertile.

    The Sanskrit word *mudita* translates as sympathetic or empathetic joy and is cultivated/practiced as one of the mind states known in Buddhism as the Four Immeasurables (along with compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity.) Opening my heart to the full complexity of my own sexual and emotional expression has allowed me to begin opening to the full expression of others’ passion and creativity. If this is not the manifestation of the divine in physical form, I do not know what is. And yes, Eric, I think it is no less than a revolution, a transformation on the cellular level, become manifest in our daily lives, each of us effecting the other, effecting community.

    A call to action? Please! Although I am not ready, yet, to come out as polyamorous, I will in time. I have already, to some degree, in this backward coming out from lesbian to bisexual, married to single. A funny story with brief background: My 25 year old daughter, who I was pressured/shamed into giving up for adoption at birth (much longer story), was raised in a Catholic family by loving parents. I mourned the loss of parenting her continually as she grew up, but sent presents and letters regularly, which her parents shared with her. She finally wanted to meet me when she was senior in college and we have been in each others’ lives since then. She is a wonderful, smart woman and, given a conservative background, embraced her Buddhist lesbian birthmother (and partner) with an enormously open heart and a lot of grace. When I told her I was ending my relationship with my partner and had fallen in love with a man, it rocked her world. Mostly, I think it brought up worries that I would (once again) leave her. The funny part: In one of her lighter moments, she half-joked that it was hard enough to explain to her friends that her birthmother was gay, but then to explain that she had come out as straight, well that was too much! All of this to say, I do not doubt the freedom or wisdom of coming out of the closet as polyamorous, but it takes enormous energy to educate and support loved ones as they are dealing with their own prejudice and emotions, and, in their own way, coming out with us.

    Thank you to anyone who braved this long post. I hope it was of benefit. It means a lot to me to be able to share.

    In the meantime, those of us who are still making the journey, need those of you who have been blazing the trail. With thanks and much love!

  38. Stellium in Sag says:

    Carrie- for sure, right? ha!

    vvvvv. interesting! I love how common sense Relating 101 now needs champions! incredible but so true, so true!

    poly or non, that sure is some crazy talk goin’ on about the state of things-

    monogamy & community college: yes our no?
    ha!!
    faaaaaaaa! after listening to *that* I am supremely grateful
    G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L

    120 degrees in the barn, and I’m with my buds….no doubt about it. I’ve got nothin’ to complain about- heaven. I’m in Heaven.

    love also the de-labeling (of course). Existence. yes.

    all right,
    Pikachu moves on,
    jupita OUT.

    Torch burning

  39. Carrie says:

    Stellium,

    “video.
    subscribers want video!!”

    I second that. :::laughing::::

  40. Stellium in Sag says:

    DANCE CAMP????

    first NYC , now Dance Camp????
    how could you??????

    video.
    subscribers want video!!
    k.
    back to too much fun podcast!!!!

    BTW, I’m cranking this up in the barn right now, yes, Caramel, Moon, Spirit Star, Icing, and some select others are getting a hoof check/trim…. and some yes, vaccines….selectly…
    and my buddy Will…
    We’re ALL ears!!

    and dancing in anticipation!
    I know, WAY too much Energy in the Comments area today, I’m blasting away, chipping paint with Energy……excusemoi

    : ))

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