How to Be a Good Couple to Threesome With

I’ve had a LOT of threesomes. I love them. Due to my status of more-or-less-constantly-in-a-relationship-since-I-was-a-teenager, I’ve more often – not always, but often – been one of the members of the more established couple, rather than the third person coming in for playtime.

Three Maine Coon cats sitting down in a row and looking at the camera. The middle one is white with a ginger face and the other two are tabbies. For a post about being a good couple to threesome with.

Playing with an existing couple can be really daunting, even if you’re really into them both. like to think that Mr CK and I are a good couple to threesome with. We’ve been told so, anyway! So I thought I’d set down some things that I believe a couple can do in order to treat the third party in their threesome well, and make sure they have a good time.

1. No Pressure

Pressure is a massive libido killer. It’s a really bad idea to go into a threesome or potential threesome with a very rigid idea of how you want it to go. This puts undue pressure on everyone, and especially on the third party, who may feel that they have (or actually have) less negotiating power than the couple.

Don’t rush things. Don’t invite a potential playmate over To Have A Threesome And Anything Else Is A Failure. Spend time getting to know what makes them tick, what they’re into, what they’re hoping to get out of the experience, what kind of ongoing dynamic they’re interested in with the two of you (if any), and how they communicate.

And for fuck’s sake, when things do progress to a sexy place, don’t make it a rush to get around all the “bases” as quickly as possible! Making out, touching, groping, hand stuff, oral sex, kink play… all of these things can be amazing. Yes, intercourse can be on the table, but it doesn’t have to be… and rushing to get there will just result in a bad time for everyone.

2. Have your own house in order first.

Nothing is more awkward than being in the middle of a couple having a fight… except being in bed with a couple having a fight.

Discuss your feelings. Talk about any insecurities or jealousies you have that might come up. Plan for how you’ll handle it if they do come up – in a way that is kind and compassionate to everyone, including the third person. “Well we can just kick her out if one of us gets jealous” is neither a solid plan nor an ethical way to treat a human being.

Don’t attempt to bring anyone else in to your relationship, whether for casual sex or something more, unless your relationship is solid first. Note I said solid, not perfect – perfection does not exist. It is monumentally unfair to bring a third party into a dynamic that is crumbling or dysfunctional. It is even more unfair to expect that this person, or sex with them, will somehow fix your relationship issues.

“Relationship broken, add more people” is a cliche because so many couples try to do it… and it never, ever ends well.

3. Approach sex as a collaboration, not a service from them to you.

If you want to have a threesome with a third party where the focus is really on the two of you in the couple, and their pleasure is less of a priority, consider hiring a sex worker. Your threesome partner, even if the sex is casual, is not a life-size sex toy! They’re a person with their own wants, needs, desires and feelings.

Sex is a collaboration, a dance. Everyone should give and receive pleasure and the goal should be mutual satisfaction for all parties – not just the couple. Your threesome buddy may not be a fully fledged member of your ongoing relationship, but they are a fully fledged member of whatever dynamic the three of you are creating together. Collaborate to have a sexy time. Don’t use them.

4. Consent first, consent last, consent in all things.

Check in early and often. If you’re not absolutely 1000% sure you have consent for something, ASK. “Ruining the mood” is a myth – a good time will never be ruined by checking on consent for something, but it can easily be ruined by overstepping someone’s boundaries.

And of course it should go without saying that no means no, and you should never push someone to do something if they don’t want to.

Mr CK and I received an email from someone we played with recently, thanking us for how good we were at consent and boundaries, and it is honestly one of the best compliments I have ever received.

5. Openly discuss safer sex.

This is absolutely vital. Ideally, this discussion should happen while clothes are still on, long before any sex happens, but it can happen in the moment if necessary. Everyone should disclose their testing status, their safer-sex protocols, the method(s) of birth control they’re using, and any other relevant information – an allergy to latex, for example.

This is as much your responsibility as a couple as it is the third party’s responsibility! 

6. Have things you’re likely to need on hand.

Have a stash of condoms, lube, gloves and dams easily reachable. Think about, and discuss, what toys you’re likely to want and have them easily accessible too (and charged, if applicable)!

7. Have an aftercare plan.

Will your threesome buddy stay over, or would they prefer to go home afterwards? How will they get home safely? If they do stay, would they prefer to sleep with you both or in a separate bed? (I hereby promise that anyone who stays over at ours after sexy time will get pancakes and your favourite hot beverage in the morning. Just, you know, in case it tempts anyone…!)

Make sure there’s time afterwards to cuddle, debrief if necessary, and make sure everyone is okay and has everything they need. Offer, and ask for, reassurance and affection freely as needed. Check in with your sexy friend the next day to make sure all is well with them.

Aaaaand that’s it. Follow these tips and, while I can’t guarantee you’ll have an amazing threesome, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re treating your Special Guest Star with the respect, compassion and consideration they deserve.

Image is from Pixabay. It’s what came up when I searched “three” and it amused me so it stays. If you enjoyed this post, you can buy me a coffee to say thanks or become one of my sexy Patrons, and access some exciting bonus content!

Building Your House Together: Using Rules for Good

Hey, I’m pro-rules in relationships. (Related, I’m also pro-hierarchy in polyamory – yes, even when I’m not the one on top of the heap. Read this to find out why.)

A close up of a section of red brick wall, for a post about rules

Did you see that I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project?

Join the discussion on Twitter or sign up for the project yourself – it’s FREE and can be used any way you like. Today’s prompt is all about rules. Kayla and John simply ask:

Do you know what kind of rules you may want or need?

A note about this post: it doesn’t contain much in the way of practical tips. I will do one soon with some more concrete advice on setting positive and useful relationship rules. This one is more a primer on my personal philosophy on the concept of rules/agreements in romantic relationships.

What’s wrong with rules?

A lot of non-monogamous people are against rules in relationships. The thinking goes: if you need rules to keep your partner from hurting you, the relationship is already doomed. I kind of agree with that sentiment, in so far as it goes. But I think it presents an unhelpfully pessimistic view on the role of rules in adult relationships.

Mr CK and I have rules in our relationship. They include things like always using condoms with lovers outside of our dyad, STI testing every 3 months, not having sex with someone new until the other has met the person, and not engaging in ongoing (i.e. longer than a scene) D/s dynamics with other people.

The rules don’t exist to keep either of us in line or prevent us from running amok over each other’s feelings. If we were going to do that, no rules would stop us, in the same way that the “rules” of traditional monogamy won’t stop somebody who is determined to cheat.

We have them because they keep us, and our relationship, happy and healthy.

A better framework

Used properly, rules aren’t a tool to bash your partner over the head with or keep them in line against your will. Used properly, they’re are the walls you build – collaboratively – to contain the house of your relationship.

You can use the word “agreements,” if you prefer, but in this framework they amount to the same thing. They’re limits, boundaries or modes of behaviour that you both (/all) agree to operate within, for the good of the relationship and everyone involved. Good rules should bring a sense of safety and security, like the solid, stable walls of your home. They’re not a prison.

If the agreements of your relationship are feeling like a cage, a conversation with your partner is in order. If your partner is arbitrarily imposing new ones without due discussion and buy-in from you, that’s a major red flag. (Incidentally, you obviously shouldn’t do this to your partner either!) To go back to the shared house metaphor, you wouldn’t just decide to build an extension or divide your living room in half without consulting your partner, would you? (If you would, umm, your relationship operates very differently from mine so please explain to me how this works for you!)

Build your house – together

I was once invited to move in by a partner and metamour. The further into “how will this work?” discussions we got, the more I came to realise a troubling fact. Namely, that their concept was that I would have little to no say in the running of the house. From the colour we’d paint the bathroom to the guests who were and weren’t allowed in the house, I would have very minimal input – while paying half the mortgage, naturally. I realise now, looking back, how fitting a metaphor this was for our relationship. They made the rules and I got no say, both in our trio and in my dyadic relationship with him. We weren’t building the metaphoric (or literal) house together – I was a permanent guest in theirs. I was caged.

I share this anecdote just to illustrate how a framework of rules can be really badly misappropriated. Contrast this with Mr CK and me, who thoroughly negotiate every agreement we make as equals. We leave them all open to discussion of renegotiation at any time, and always consider them with the best possible outcome for everyone involved in mind. Saying all rules (/agreements/boundaries) are inherently bad is like saying walls or doors or windows or grey tiling are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re elements you can pick and choose for your house – your relationship – to make sure it’s designed exactly the way you want it.

Keeping the house clean

You don’t build a house, move in, and expect to never do any work on it again. That’d be ridiculous. You have to sweep, do the dishes, repaint the odd wall and occasionally rip a piece out completely and spend loads of time fixing it. Maintaining the ‘house’ of your relationship is exactly the same. You don’t set the rules once and then you’re done. No. You have to tinker, negotiate

Build your perfect relationship the way you’d build your perfect house, with walls – agreements – to keep you cozy inside. That way, you can prevent the leaking roof of drama, and always have a safe home to retreat to and invite your loved ones into.

Kinky item of the day: Nipple clamps, for squeezy, pinchy fun! I looove clamps so much, both on my nipples and labia. (Pro tip: leave them on for more than 5-10 minutes, and they hurt like hell when they come off!)

This post contains an affiliate link. If you buy through it, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

The image in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

Four Times Three

I love threesomes. (I also love foursomes, moresomes and any combination of group sex you can think of – in fact, I’ve just pitched an article about why foursomes are the superior configuration in my experience.) The threesome, though… it’s often viewed as the pinnacle of sexual experience, and I’ve probably had hundreds of them. (#Explanabrag?) This post is just a few stand-out stories from a near-decade of menage et trois exploration.

Coffee beans on a surface with three hearts cut out by cookie cutters. For a post about threesome

The First

I wrap my arms around her warm body and snuggle into her shoulder. She’s littler than me, only 5’1″, but I feel so protected with her. She’s older, more experienced… and my first. I’m only eighteen and I’ve just made love to a woman for the first time.

‘Do you want to go and ask [my Boyfriend] to join us?’ she asks.

‘Are you sure?’ The question takes me aback, and not just because I’m still catching my breath.

‘Yeah, go on.’

So I throw on some clothing, still bashful, and skip downstairs with my sex hair to ask my boyfriend, happily waiting for us to finish and prepared to sleep on the couch if necessary, to come have a threesome with me and my new girlfriend.

He slides his fingers into her cunt, still wet from my earlier ministrations, and watches in awe as she comes once, twice, three times… we lose count. Then they both go to town on me, holding, fingering, kissing, caressing. I’m struggling to come, so she pulls out a vibrator and offers it to me. I use it on myself while they run their hands over my body, these two people I adore. I still don’t come – I’m too nervous – but it’s a good experience.

The Worst

I don’t know quite how it comes about that I’m going home with New Crush and his fiancee after the party. My boyfriend has pulled and is thoroughly occupied, so waves me off with a ‘have a good time.’ On the way back, they warn me that their flat is tiny. I correctly interpret this as, ‘we don’t have a guest bed, you’re sleeping with us.’

I fancy New Crush for sure. I’m pretty sure I don’t fancy his fiancee, but I like her just fine, so co-sleeping isn’t a problem for me. We’re all in bed together, at least partially clothed, and he’s kissing me and I’m into it. Then she’s kissing me and I’m not into it. He guides her hands to my wrists and instructs her to pin me down while he fingers me. I feel really uncomfortable and unsure how to gracefully extricate myself. I’m suddenly ‘very tired’ and I pretend to drift off to sleep while they fuck next to me. In the morning, I slip out quietly.

The Best

Mr CK has been seeing this girl, who we’ll call The Doctor, for a while. It’s taken me some time to get comfortable with the whole situation but I can’t deny I’m warming to her and my feelings have slipped beyond metamour friendship and into the realm of attraction.

She comes over to our place. We make food, we chat, we cuddle. It’s so easy. So chilled and genuinely affectionate. Mr CK suggests we move the cuddle to the bedroom – no pressure – and we both agree. They’re kissing. He’s kissing me. My eyes meet hers, and I dare to ask for permission to kiss her. She happily consents and her soft, soft lips meet mine. We all three tangle together, three bodies, kissing and nibbling and touching and stroking and stripping.

We introduce her to the Doxy wand. She’s scared. We offer to let her try it on a low setting, which she does – through her jeans. She comes in less than a minute, breathlessly declares ‘I’M BUYING ONE,’ and we all collapse into laughter.

The night is by turns passionate and giggly, intense and casual, sizzling hot and just plain fun. The Doctor leaves sometime after two in the morning. For the next three days, I can’t think of anything but her and him and me and this.

It happens two more times before it all ends too suddenly and it still immediately stands out whenever I think of the hottest sexual experiences of my life.

The Most Recent

This might *technically* be a cheat. There were other people in the room having sex beyond the three of us, so I’m not sure it can be classed as a threesome – but damnit, this particular part only involved us three, so I’m counting it.

I met him yesterday in a game of naked Twister (organised by – who else? – my girlfriend TwisterGirl.) The spark of attraction I felt was immediate and I tried not to glance at his sizeable cock while we were all naked and entangled on the game mat.

Tonight, this hot almost-stranger is next to us on the bed, watching as I suck Mr CK’s cock. I reach a hand out and play with his, asking first with my eyes and then out loud if it’s okay. The moan I receive tells me all I need to know.

Mr CK positions me on my knees. Tells me to suck our new friend’s cock. Slides his into me from behind and fucks me hard and deep. New Friend tells me to look at him, and our eyes lock while I come hard from the blissful sensation of being filled in two of my holes at once.

Afterwards, he kisses me. I want to do this again.

The image featured in this post was offered for usa via Creative Commons Licensing.

The Tyranny of ‘No Rules:’ in Defence of Polyamorous Hierarchy

Buckle in, folks. This has been a long time coming and it’s gonna be a long one.

Three red hearts arranged diagonally across a tic tac toe board. For a post on polyamory and hierarchy

Hierarchy is the subject du jour in current polyamorous discourse – mainly how it’s evil and we should avoid it. Polyamory educators I deeply respect and admire have spoken out as being largely against hierarchical structures. And that’s fine – as with any information providers, I draw from the many pieces of their work I find useful and don’t worry too much about the rest.

But I’ve been feeling for quite a while that a major piece of the picture is missing from the conversation around hierarchy in polyamory and that it has become somewhere between unfashionable and downright shun-worthy to tell enlightened polyamorous folks that you practice a hierarchical structure. The voices of people who have been hurt by hierarchy or power structures carelessly wielded have been amplified – and this is a Good Thing without a doubt. But what is largely absent or drowned out or shouted down, now, is the perspective of people who are very happy within a hierarchical structure. I am here to provide one small piece of that perspective.

Firstly, what do we mean by hierarchy?

The dictionary defines hierarchy as ‘a system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.’ In polyamory, though, it’s more specific –  polyamorous hierarchy refers to a structure in which one relationship, or one partner, is ‘Primary’ and other relationships are ‘secondary,’ ‘tertiary,’ ‘non-primary,’ or other similar terms. Exactly what these words mean will vary between people who use them. Sometimes it’s as simple as “my Primary is the person I own property and raise children with,” and sometimes there are elaborate systems of rules with pages-long documents outlining them all.

My own structure falls somewhere between the two. Mr CK and I are Primary partners and we do have a written relationship agreement, although it’s quite short and in practice hardly ever needs to be referred to. We have a system of guidelines for acceptable behaviour and some hard-and-fast rules. Every rule or guideline we agree to abide by is thoroughly negotiated, everything applies absolutely equally to both of us (read more about why that’s important to us here) and is open for renegotiation if necessary.

Why is hierarchy supposedly bad?

Like so many things, it’s bad when it’s misused and it can be wielded to cause great harm. Some Primary couples certainly have a habit of running roughshod over secondary/non-Primary partners’ feelings, needs and boundaries and asserting power in inappropriate ways. We’ll tackle the specifics later in ‘Towards Ethical Hierarchy.’

There are many examples of this – veto (also discussed later,) one partner in the Primary couple unilaterally closing down the relationship, messing secondaries around with plans and so on. These things happen. They’re shitty and they’re totally not okay. They’re examples of power imbalances used to deliberately cause harm or to get what one person wants at the expense of hurting someone (or someones) else. This is not ethical hierarchical polyamory.

The things is, non-hierarchical systems can also be abused. Relationship Anarchy (which I am not well qualified to talk about but you can read a basic definition here) is fine in and of itself, but just think about the following phrases (I’ve heard all of these):

“I’m a relationship anarchist which means I do what I want, when I want. If my partners are upset because I broke my commitments to them, that’s their fault for expecting me to keep my commitments.”

“I don’t have to consider your sexual health because I’m RA, that means no rules. By insisting on knowing my sexual health status you’re oppressing me.”

“Lies and cheating don’t exist in relationship anarchy.”

Suddenly, those statements make RA look super unhealthy and scary, don’t they? But it’s not, in and of itself. It’s just a relationship philosophy that can be used for good, evil or indifference. The same goes for hierarchical polyamory.

I think the question of whether someone’s acting unethically is also often approached in a really problematic way. A major problem I have with so much of the current discourse around hierarchy is it seems to forget this one fundamental truth:

Not Getting What You Want Does Not Necessarily Mean Someone Else Did Something Wrong.

Say it again for those in the back: not getting what you want does not necessarily mean someone else did something wrong.

I’m sorry*, but take this hypothetical scenario: you got into a non-primary relationship with a married man, knowing he’d never leave his wife for you or offer you a nesting relationship… then, two years down the line, you decide you want to live with him (either with or without his wife.) If he repeats what he said earlier, “my wife and I do not want anyone else living with us, now or ever, and I have no interest in leaving my wife,” he’s not doing something wrong (and neither, it bears stating, is the wife in this hypothetical.) He’s stating their boundaries. What would be wrong is if he’d said “you can probably live with us in a couple of years” at the beginning of your relationship, knowing full well this was never going to happen or was tremendously unlikely. Lying or omitting important information to get someone hooked in (also known as the “bait and switch”) is never okay.

Defending your boundaries, reasserting your position, and not giving somebody something you never promised to give (even if they really really want it) is always okay.

Take another scenario I’ve actually been in from all three positions, at various times in my life: A might want to do sexual acts with their partner B, that is currently a boundary or limit for B’s Primary partner C. This does not mean that C is doing something wrong in having that boundary. Nor does it mean B is doing something wrong in taking C’s boundaries into consideration and placing limits on what sexual activities they will and won’t engage in. What would be wrong is if C changed the rules on a whim, didn’t communicate the agreements clearly to A, or were totally unwilling to enter any kind of dialogue about it at any stage. What would also be wrong is if, at the beginning of that relationship, A was told “we don’t really have any rules” only to have the bait-and-switch pulled on them once they were invested. See the difference?

Boundaries and Choice

This is what it boils down to, really. Primaries (particularly wives or female nesting partners, I’ve found, which probably carries a hefty dose of unexamined misogyny) are vilified again and again and again for daring to have, set and maintain boundaries.

Mr CK and I agreed a long time ago that nobody else will move into our shared home. This was a condition of moving in with him for me, and one that worked well for him too as he prefers to live with only one person. This is a boundary we get to set around this shared space that we alone own and inhabit, and we’re not harming anyone by having it. Someone might really really really want to live with us, and in that instance I am sorry that this is going to be hard for them to hear, but… the answer is no.

Yes, it’s a rule. It’s a rule that if either of us broke it, our relationship would almost certainly end.

We have also agreed since the beginning that we will not engage in sexual activities with a new person until the other has had a chance to meet that person (a Skype meeting is acceptable if there’s distance involved.) This is because we both have baggage around being lied to, kept in the dark, or deliberately kept from meeting a metamour in order that direct metamour-to-metamour communication be rendered impossible. This a boundary we get to set around our relationship and our bodies. If someone doesn’t want to date me because they don’t want to meet my partner, that’s their choice, but the answer is that they don’t get to date me.

Yes, it’s a rule. It’s a rule that if either of us broke it, it would be considered cheating.

Yes. We have rules and we expect of each other that they will be kept. Anyone who tries to make us break them will receive a firm and resounding “no.” I can’t believe any of this is up for debate, but the number of times I’ve been told that if a secondary wants me to break a rule/agreement made with my Primary that I should do it, is frankly ridiculous.

Crucially, non-Primary partners get to set boundaries and expect them to be respected too! In all the relationships I’m in where I am a secondary partner, for example, I have been crystal clear from the beginning that none of those partners will exert any kind of control over what I do with my body outside of our relationship.  (More about this under ‘Towards Ethical Hierarchy.’) I have set boundaries around my time, my availability and the sexual acts that are and are not available. All of my partners get to set similar boundaries for themselves too, and those boundaries are as valid and important as mine or my Primary partner’s and must be respected.

At the end of the day, my Primary partner is my Primary partner because he chooses to be, just as I am his because I choose to be. He does not control me and I do not control him. We make mutual agreements that work for both of us, and we both stick to them out of choice every day because we love each other, prioritise each other’s happiness, and value our relationship. If you want to view making and keeping agreements as controlling each other then I think we have very different definitions of what control is.

“No Rules” is a rule.

A rule to not make or follow rules… is still a rule. An expectation to be able to do whatever you want without any responsibility to your partners… is still an expectation. An agreement to have no agreements is… still an agreement and still one that you get to opt in or out of.

I simply could not live this way. Because:

Structurelessness is a special kind of hell.

Some people value fluidity, ever-changing situations and no certainty. That’s beautiful and valid. I am not one of those people. I am a person who – while a certain degree of flexibility is essential – values structure, a level of predictability, and Knowing Where The Fuck I Stand. That includes knowing where I am in the hierarchy with each person I’m involved with.

I need to know that the person I share my home with will prioritise me consistently. I need to know whom I can rely upon in a crisis (all my partners, I hope, but it is right and expected that a Primary will put more time and effort in than a non-Primary.) I need to know to what degree my relationship with someone can grow and the point at which it can go no further. I need to know exactly what’s allowed and what isn’t in order to be sure I’m not trampling on any boundaries or breaking any consent.

I would go mad in a system with no rules. I could not function in a system where I am not allowed to admit that there is a single person who, when it all comes down to brass tacks, I am likely to prioritise over all else.

Towards Ethical Hierarchy

Despite what some people would like to believe, hierarchical relationships aren’t going anywhere because they work too well for so many of us. So instead of shaming people out of having hierarchical structures (or worse, shaming them into pretending not to have hierarchy while still practising it, which tends to lead to head-fuckery all around,) let’s look at how we can make our hierarchical relationships happy, considerate and ethical.

Don’t restrict your non-primary’s freedom. The only person apart from myself who gets a say in whether I go to sex parties, have lots of casual sex or start new relationships is my Primary. (I was once in a situation where my secondary forbade me from going to sex parties with my Primary. Yeah no.) If a non-Primary partner has concerns about these things, of course I will listen to their concerns and talk things over with them, reassure them where I can and consider if their reservations have merit. But putting their foot down and saying “no?” Not a chance. And I wouldn’t expect to have that power over them either.

You do not get to forbid your secondary from having their own Primary. Ever. I can’t believe this needs stating, but this was a reality I lived with for four years before I realised how fucked up it was. If your secondary doesn’t have a Primary and is happy with the situation (maybe their job, child, pet or hobby is their Primary partner, maybe they just like a lot of their own space,) then obviously this isn’t a problem, but if they don’t have a Primary and want one (which includes not wanting one previously but changing their mind and deciding that now they do,) you have no business being anything but supportive.  “You’re my secondary but you don’t get to have a Primary of your own” is some bullshit that will not fly with me.

Don’t use veto. One example of hierarchy being used to the detriment of the people involved is through an agreement commonly called ‘veto power,’ wherein one member of the Primary couple has the power to order the other to end an outside relationship with the reasonable expectation that they will obey. Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert put it well in More Than Two when they state that [paraphrased slightly] ‘the problem with veto isn’t that it can be used inappropriately but that it tends to cause major problems however it’s used.’ Which it certainly does. If you veto someone your partner loves, you’ll hurt them both but it will also bite you in the ass when they resent you for it down the line.

Use your words, not a kill switch. Talk about what you’re feeling and why. Listen to each other. But please don’t do this, it won’t go well.

I’m actually in favour of the ‘screening veto’ at least in theory. We don’t practice it in an “I forbid you to date this person case closed” sort of way, but Mr CK and I certainly give an awful lot of weight to each other’s opinions on the people we’re looking at getting involved with. If he’s interested in someone who would make me utterly miserable for whatever reason, it’s better to raise it at the beginning before anyone is invested. My metamour The Minstrel and I had a discussion about veto not long after I got together with The Artist, our shared partner, and I was worried I might fall in love and then find myself suddenly vetoed. They said this:

“I think I had the veto the first time you and I met? Like, if I had had an, “erk” reaction then, I’d have said, “I’m sorry, love, I can’t with her” to The Artist. But once I’d given my consent for the two of you to be together? That’s it. No veto from then on. Your relationship may not be a [Primary] relationship but it is a real and valid thing in itself, and I neither want nor should have the power to make it end at my whim.”

Preach. (Did I mention my metamour is pretty great? They are.)

Be upfront about the rules, agreements, boundaries and what you can offer. As discussed above, it’s really not okay to pull a bait-and-switch, where you hide the truth about yourself/your relationships/what you can offer until after someone is already emotionally invested.

Anyone who wants to date me will know right at the beginning that I have a Primary partner I’m very happy with and will not leave for anyone, that living with me or having kids with me is permanently and non-negotiably off the table, and what I can and cannot offer in terms of time commitments.  If that doesn’t work for them, that’s their right. It’s also their right to be told the truth and make an informed choice. (And if you think no-one will date me with these stipulations, you’re so wrong – I’ve found multiple wonderful people it works really well for, many of whom are in similar situations with their own Primary relationships.)

Be flexible. Mr CK and I were once both out on a date on the same night and had agreed to both be home by 11pm. When he phoned me and said his partner had had a medical emergency and may need to go to the hospital, meaning he might be home later than planned, I didn’t say “you said 11pm so you have to stick to that.”  I said “take as long as you need and I hope she’s okay.” This is flexibility. This is kindness where it’s needed. This is also not the same as rocking up at 3am when you agreed 11pm and going “oh sorry we were so busy having sex we lost track of time.” Keep your commitments wherever humanly possible, and give flexibility when it’s warranted. Yes, you can have both.

Don’t wield rules capriciously. Just because you could demand your Primary partner cancel a date at a moment’s notice (Note: me and Mr CK actually have an agreement that we CAN’T do this unless there’s an emergency, because it’s dickish) does not mean that you should. “Because I’m your Primary and I said so” is not good enough. Make agreements that work for you and stick to them. Don’t pull rank in a situation that really doesn’t call for it just because you can.

If your Primary fucks up, it’s (probably) not their secondary’s fault. If your husband stayed out until 2am when he agreed to be back by midnight because he lost track of time, that’s on HIM. It’s not on the partner he was with and it’s not her fault (unless she knew the agreement and deliberately and willingly flouted it with him – then you’re totally okay to go ahead and be pissed at them both because they’ve both behaved like assholes.) Similarly, if your wife lies to her hot co-worker and says that you’re cool with their fling when actually you know nothing about it, that’s HER fault – it’s not on the dude who was being lied to as well. I know it’s tempting to blame a third party when your partner fucks up and hurts you, but they’re an adult and responsible for themselves.

The bottom line to consider when making rules: does this agreement infringe upon anyone’s reasonably-assumed rights in this relationship?

Dating me does not give you a right to live with me, to meet my biological family, or to do every sex act you can possibly think of with me (three things I do not and will never offer to non-Primary partners.)

What it does give you is the right to open and honest communication from me, kindness and support and respect, to be told the truth, to get a place at the negotiating table on things that affect you directly, to know what the deal is from the beginning and all the way along.

Therefore, “I will never allow you to move in with me” is a valid boundary to hold in a secondary relationship. “I will lie to you randomly and switch the rules at a moment’s notice because my Primary said so” is not.

“Oh, but Amy! You’re only defending hierarchy because you’re top of the heap!”

Right, except in all the instances where I’m not. Yes, I come first with Mr CK, as he does with me. But my metamour The Minstrel comes first with my partner The Artist. Fondlebeast and Twistergirl prioritise each other over me. Evil Genius’s wife, other serious partners and children are way higher in the hierarchy than I am. ALL OF THESE ARE GOOD THINGS and it would be absurdity of the highest order to try to pretend these relationships were all equal. I don’t feel oppressed or diminished in any way in these relationships. I went into them all with eyes open, knowing what the scenario was, and I’m happy with the way things are. If that ever changes, I am allowed to leave the relationships. I am not allowed to trample all over their Primary partner(s) to get what I want.

Say it again: I am happy being a secondary and I would much, much rather this was openly acknowledged than that we lived some kind of lie where no-one is more important than anyone else in a romantic relationship. We’re so saturated with stories of abused unicorns, that we forget:

Being secondary is not necessarily a miserable place.

I created the hashtag #HappySecondary on Twitter and asked people to weigh in with their experiences of being a happy non-Primary in a hierarchical arrangement, because I couldn’t believe the experience was unique to me. I got some amazing quotes and I’d like to share just some of them.

“I’m a #HappySecondary in an LDR. Solopoly with no desire to build a home with anyone, don’t want what his wife has. Every visit is vacation!”

“Being R’s #HappySecondary is great! I get to plot with their Primary and things.”

“Very #HappySecondary in 2 relationships here.”

“Being a #HappySecondary gives me space when I need it but contact when I do. Helps that our schedules let us get together 2-3x per week.”

Stop assuming we’re all miserable if we’re secondaries. Stop assuming we’re all treating our partners badly if we’re in a Primary couple and practice hierarchy. Lots of us are very happy where we are, and our experiences are valid too.

[*No I’m not.]

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“Creepy Fuckery” (or: “Niece Jackie”) – CK Watches You Me Her, S1E5

You may recall that episode 4 ended with Izzy’s roommate (edit: her name is Nina!) catching Izzy and Jack making out, moments after crashing into and breaking Nina’s grandmother’s antique lamp. Well, episode 5 begins with them sitting at the table looking sheepish while Nina tells them off.

There’s a knock on the door, and in comes pdeudo-boyfriend Andy. “Ooh, this is gonna be interesting,” says Nina. No kidding. Jack awkwardly introduces himself, calls Andy “dude,” then apologises which just makes the whole thing that bit more excruciating. Jack says he’s Izzy’s uncle but they’re “more like cousins because we’re so close in age.”

  1. Who are you kidding, Jack-Not-Fred?
  2. If Andy is buying this for even a tenth of a millisecond, he’s the biggest idiot in this entire show populated by total idiots.

Izzy asks to move their planned lunch to cocktails later. Andy leaves after throwing a snarky “dude” remark in Jack’s direction.

“Yes, I’m a client,” Jack says, answering both Nina’s question and mine. “There’s your tip,” he adds to Izzy, leaving money on the side and walking out. Nina pockets the money, which is kinda fair given that Izzy and Jack just broke her expensive heirloom lamp.

Later, Izzy and Nina walk across campus and Nina asks Izzy why she kissed Andy in front of Jack. Izzy says it was to keep Andy “on simmer” (um?) but Nina knows it was to make Jack jealous and calls her out on it. Here’s a thing: if purposefully making your partners (who don’t even officially know about each other!) jealous is your game, you’re not ready for non-monogamy.

Nina asks Izzy if she’s okay breaking up a marriage. Izzy confesses her feelings about Jack and Emma. “Oh yeah, it would be so tragic if all three of you didn’t live happily ever after,” says Nina, ever the sympathetic friend. I mean, I can kind of see her point because we all know this is heading towards a trainwreck of epic proportions, but at the same time ,triads CAN work and can be happy and functional. Just not when they start with both members of a couple cheating on each other with the same escort, the escort inexplicably catching feels, and no-one having a clue how to do even the most basic communication.

The phone rings and it’s Emma. Only apparently she’s “Em” to Izzy now. Emma is with Carmen, who is obnoxiously trying to get her attention – I think to tell Emma to break up with Izzy. Izzy pretends Andy is on the other line and about to take her on holiday, and hangs up. Emma is upset and shouts “FUCK,” despite the fact that she’s in the middle of a public park and there are children around. This leads to this amazing exchange:

Emma: “Sorry, sorry! Hey kids, don’t do drugs, stay in school!”
Random Mum: “They’re toddlers, dumbshit!”
Emma: “Dumbshit!? Oh yeah, well I bet those snotty little brats aren’t even vaccinated!”
Random Mum: “I’ll vaccinate your ass!”

And then Carmen pulls Emma away, Emma professes how much she “HATES ANDY,” and Carmen demands that Emma not bring any of the Izzy drama into “HER neighbourhood” or around “HER children.” Hey Carmen, Emma might be acting world-class foolish, but she lives in the neighbourhood too and can invite whoever she damn well pleases back to her own damn house. Step off.

Later, Emma and Jack are having drinks. Emma confesses to phoning Izzy, and Jack confesses to visiting Izzy during his lunch hour. In a moment of surprisingly rational and adult conversation, Emma admits to being “scared and nervous and excited.” Next thing we know, they’re actually communicating! Jack asks what happens next, and Emma points out that there’s a third person involved who should probably get a say. I suddenly find new respect for her until…

…the bitching about Andy begins. “I hope he has low self-esteem!” says Jack. “Does he hate puppies and poor people?” Emma counters. Wow, guys. Really?

We cut to Izzy and Andy, who are eating pizza – because of course when a skinny, normatively attractive woman loves pizza, it’s OMGSOCUTE #Keepingitreal. I bet if Izzy was fat, this scene would get a very different response from viewers. Andy wants Izzy to “decide.” Decide what?

Back at Jack and Emma’s house, they’re fighting about the “niece” thing (remember when Jack told his boss’s daughter, whom he inexplicably felt he owed an explanation to, that Izzy was his niece “Jackie?” Yeah.)

Izzy is in a cab after Jack texts her telling her to come over but take a “slightly different route.” The cabbie is hitting on her and asks if the drop-off spot – in seemingly the middle of nowhere – is where she really wants to be. She essentially tells him to fuck off, gets out of the cab and wanders into some nearby woods, muttering, “damn fucking aunt and uncle bullshit. Fucking JACKIE!” Meanwhile, Jack and Emma are freaking out waiting for Izzy to arrive (apparently they just said “come over” but didn’t specify a time or anything, because obviously people do that,) and right on cue she arrives. Her first words are “if you don’t have something that makes sense in a shot glass, I’m killing everyone but the pug.” On balance, I’m voting in favour of this idea.

Lori, across the street, is spying on Jack and Emma’s house. Because of course she fucking is. Because she’s not only the nosiest busybody in existence, she’s also Jack’s boss and has no sense whatsoever of professional boundaries. If I found out my boss was watching my house, neighbour or not, I would literally take out a restraining order. Lori’s kid (“Ava,” apparently) comes outside and says, “we both know there’s something weird going on with them and that niece.” They then quickly realise “Jackie” is “in there.”

Jack, Emma and Izzy are all drunk, but Jack stops them getting stoned before they talk about Serious Adult Things. Meanwhile, back in the bar, Andy is talking to the bartender, who is also the cabbie from earlier who dropped Izzy off. Sure, why not? Also, he’s played by Patrick Gilmore, who was adorable David Mailer in Travelers, if you’ve seen that. (If you haven’t, you should. Gilmore is wasted in this nonsense.) Ooh, Bar & Cabbie Guy (“Shaun” is apparently his name) has recognised Andy as Izzy’s boyfriend and is about to reveal where he dropped her off.

Our intrepid “throuple” (fuck me I hate that word) are talking. Apparently Andy was a ploy all along to make Jack and Emma jealous and see if they “feel the same.” Also, Izzy is all “I MET YOU FOUR DAYS AGO BUT I CAN’T STAND THE IDEA OF YOU HAVING SEX WITHOUT ME.” For fuck’s sake, Izzy. Firstly, they’re married. Secondly, as you correctly identified, you’ve known them ten minutes. Third, and very important, even in non-monogamous arrangements the individual dyads do tend to have sex 1-on-1 at times. We’ve established that all three of them are super jealous for various reasons. This is not a problem in and of itself, of course, but I just know they’re not going to handle it in a constructive fashion.

In the bar, Andy is putting two and two together. In the house, Jack asks “where do we go from here?” “Well the logical question,” Emma replies, “is, has anyone in this room ever had a threesome?” They establish they haven’t. In the bar, Andy gives Shaun $80 to tell him exactly where Izzy is. Creepy. And credits.

Are we FINALLY going to get to see some hot threesome action in episode 6 of this “SUPER HOT THREESOME SHOW?” I will be very angry if not, but based on what I’ve seen thus far, if this lukewarm nonsense can pull “hot” out of the bag I will be stunned.

“Is That a Vagina Joke?” (or: “Check a Box”) – CK Watches You Me Her, S1E4

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, for I watched episode 4 of this travesty three weeks ago and have only just gathered enough fucks to write it up.

Episode 4 begins with Jack and Emma fucking. Jack says, as they finish, “it feels like we just gave orgasms to everyone within a two-mile radius!” Um. What? The pillowtalk that follows consists entirely of them congratulating themselves on how sexy their performance was. [Spoiler: it wasn’t.] Emma reveals she used to feel relieved after sex was over (poor woman!) and wonders if this new spark is “all Izzy.”

Jack goes jogging with Emma’s friend Carmen’s husband, Neighbour Dude. [Edit: his name is Dave!) Dave is interrogating Jack in a “he blatantly knows” kind of way. Not one to mince his words, he tells Jack “I think you’re a fucking moron” and lectures him on keeping fantasy as fantasy, then admits he’s jealous and asks how the rules work.

Also this just in: when two women have sex, apparently their vulvas just “smoosh together.” Well then.

Jack admits he thinks he has “never found a fucking G-spot in my life.” I have two comments on this:

  1. This is literally 5 minutes after “OH EM GEE WE JUST REINVENTED SEX.”
  2. It’s, like, a couple of inches inside and on the front wall in most vaginas. It’s not hiding!

Dave mentions that Carmen thinks Emma is in love with Izzy. No she isn’t, they barely know each other. She’s infatuated at best.

Next scene, Jack is at work (he works in a school, remember.) A teenage girl comes in who turns out to be Lori’s daughter (Lori is their nosy neighbour, who is also the Dean of the school and therefore in charge of basically Jack’s entire career.)

Lori’s Kid: “Who was that chick at your house?”
Jack: “Why do I have to tell you that?”
Me: “You don’t, Jack! You’re the fucking teacher here! Tell the brat to mind her own business and throw her out of your office stat!”

Lori’s kid is acting inappropriately sexual and Jack tells her to stop with the “Lolita act.” Ew. (Also LOLITA WAS A FUCKING TWELVE YEAR OLD ABUSE VICTIM, READ THE FUCKING BOOK FOR FUCKING FUCK’S SAKE.) Jack says Izzy is his niece, leading Lori’s kid to say he must be “old as shit.” Okay why isn’t this kid in detention yet? Jack finally gets rid of her, gets Emma on the phone, and they decide no more Izzy at the house. Lori comes by and Jack goes into full-on Kiss Ass mode, and invites her to a party. Smooth, Jack-Not-Fred. Very smooth.

We cut to Emma and Carmen, who are drinking juice on a pier. Carmen is giving Emma a much-needed reality check re. Lori and the future of Jack’s career. She lectures Emma about ruining her life with the “Izzy” situation and the spectre of waking up one day “with saggy tits, wondering where your awesome life went.” Nice. She steals Emma’s phone and threatens to dump Izzy for her if Emma won’t do it herself. Emma grabs the phone back and runs off.

Meanwhile, Creepy Pseudo-Boyfriend Andy is pissed that Izzy has been booty-calling him and breaking dates for 3 months. Fair. Izzy is vegging out on the sofa in jeans, comfy booties and… a lacy bra!? Fuck me sideways, I don’t even wear lacy bras to go out in, never mind on the sofa at home. There’s a knock on the door and…

…surprise! It’s Jack! Izzy scolds him for coming round unannounced. He points out she did the same a couple episodes back. I guess mutual stalking is okay?

Jack: “Why aren’t you dressed? It’s like 12:30.”
Me: “STUDENTS, Jack. Students.”

He makes a show of dumping her – apparently they won’t be “requiring [her] services any longer.” These people have no fucking clue if this is a sex-worker/client or a love relationship and they really need to make their minds up. Izzy calls his bluff, stating that Emma had no part in this decision and he’s unilaterally decided to duck out. Yeah, no shit.

He tells her to keep away from his wife. She calls him a “misogynistic dickbag.” I suddenly like her a lot more! She makes a bet he’d call her again within 2 weeks. He says, “stop acting like you’re irresistible.” “You don’t think about me?” she asks, taunting him. They make out. Her shirt is off. They crash into a lamp.

“This counts as our date, right?” he asks amidst the making out. Then right on cue, Izzy’s roommate walks in. Roomie is pissed – apparently the lamp was her grandmother’s and is an antique, and also Izzy broke the eminently sensible “Rule #1” – never tell clients where they live. She calls Jack “Clark Griswold,” a reference which is lost on me.

Roomie asks if Jack is a client or “something else.” I’m glad I am not the only one wondering this. Izzy goes, “umm…” and we fade to black.

Goddamn, even for this show, that episode was inane.

“No Common Sense Whatever” (or “No Penetration”) – CK Watches You Me Her, S1E3

Well then, I’ve been putting off writing this up but I suppose it is really time I did.

Episode 3 picks right up where Episode 2 left off, with Izzy the escort-not-a-hooker (ugh the sex worker shaming in this show is gross) on Emma and Jack-Not-Fred’s doorstep. It is quickly revealed that they didn’t actually invite her – she “cyber stalked [their] address” and “sprinted away” from Andy, the specimen of creepy toxic masculinity she’s dating.

The dialogue in this show is stellar as ever:
Jack: We don’t have any sedatives, but we do have wine.
Emma: It’s… made of grapes.

(Also, apparently they have bottles of wine that are just for show and not to be drunk. Doesn’t not drinking it defeat the object of wine?)

A short while later, and they’re all smoking Izzy’s weed while talking about Creepy Andy (the “most amazing guy in the world,” apparently – Izzy, your standards need some work, girl) and “why are we doing this?” GOOD FUCKING QUESTION EMMA. Emma confesses her office-wank from Episode 2, but says “I pleasured myself.” Ugh, is it just me or is that such a yucky, twee expression? What’s wrong with “masturbated” or even “wanked?”

Izzy is “way too insecure to feel anything but flattered” by their creepy obsession with her. She should be feeling “creeped the fuck out.” She cannot stop thinking about them, which literally makes no sense – these two idiots are not only her clients but the most boring and nondescript clients I imagine she’s ever had the misfortune to be hired by. A short while later, they’ve set up their arrangement – Jack and Emma each get two nights a week with Izzy (“we each get two dates a week with her… I mean you”) and no penetration.

Emma: We objectified her.
Jack: Honey, she’s an escort!
FUCK YOU, Jack-Not-Fred.

In the next scene, they’re in a cafe deciding who “gets” Izzy first (Emma,) and Emma very obviously foot-jobs Jack under the table. Meanwhile, Izzy spaces out in class and her roommate bullies a random boy next to her into giving her his notes. This scene serves no purpose. We then learn that Jack doesn’t realise his employer could track his browser history on his work computer. This fucking guy.

Emma goes outfit shopping with Carmen, neighbour-lady-and-yoga-friend, and tells her all about how she “couldn’t poop this morning.” Um, yay? Next shot, Izzy’s roommate is working out and enquiring what Izzy gets out of her new arrangement. Um, a SHIT TONNE OF MONEY, I imagine?

The outfit Emma chooses is pretty and classy. It’s kind of a shame that’s the best thing I can find to say about this nonsense. She tells Jack she wants him to “ravish” her later. These people are no unprepared for non-monogamy, it’s unreal.

Emma and Izzy start their date sweetly nervous. Izzy has an “idea” and runs off to a shop. Jack is at a party and VERY STRESSED (I think because Emma is on a date?) I can actually relate somewhat to this.

Emma has taken Izzy to a roof overlooking the city. Izzy talks about being sad because Jack and Emma were sleeping in bed without her the night before, which makes no sense because 1) They’re MARRIED for fuck’s sake, 2) This is a business arrangement, supposedly, 3) She’s known them ten minutes. Izzy talks about vegetables and “disturbing videos,” for some reason, and Emma goes off somewhere and comes back with a blanket and pillow. Emma says Izzy makes her nervous, Izzy says Emma’s beautiful, they make out. Emma peels off her shirt as the making out intensifies. I hate to say it but this is quite hot until…

Emma: I love your eyes. They’re like doe eyes but you’ve probably heard that a million times.

Ew.

Also Emma: It feels so weird that you don’t have a beard. (Hasn’t she been with women before!?)

Also also Emma: I think we broke the no penetration rule.

I’m just wondering why women in films and TV always have sex with their bra on, and next thing we know Emma is creeping in and Jack is fake-snoring. Really badly. Once she’s in bed, he pounces on her for sex but she is “orgasmed out” and tired. He says, “are you serious?” He’s clearly not happy. “I thought we had a no orgasm rule!” he says. Um, they never agreed that. They agreed on no penetration.

Jack is pissed. “I thought we were supposed to bring it home,” he says. And then, “it doesn’t look like I’m getting anything out of [this arrangement.]” Except the two dates a week with Izzy where he gets to do the sexy times too, I guess?

“Maybe a little jealousy is good for both of us?” Emms suggests. I mean, I disagree entirely, but working through their stuff like adults might be good for them. Fat chance of that, though. Instead, Jack is threatening to do the same things on his date with Izzy. Emma seems entirely nonplussed by this, since it is entirely in keeping with what they agreed. They make out.

Izzy, in her room, stares at the ceiling with a dreamy expression then pulls up the selfie she took with Emma on her phone. She zooms in on Emma’s face, puts her hand down her pants, and… her roommate walks in! (Without knocking, which no-one who has lived with a roommate for more than five seconds would do.)

“What are you doing?” Roomie asks. “Sleeping,” Izzy replies. She was wanking, Roomie. WANKING. Roomie grabs Izzy’s phone from her hands in a spectacularly rude and invasive fashion. “Well, fuck!” she says. And end scene.

“Can You Be Any More Ridiculous?” (Or: “Can You Be Cool?”) – CK Watches You Me Her, S1E2.

I live tweeted You Me Her episode 2 two weeks ago but somehow, writing about anal sex was more appealing than writing it up until now. Alas, I’ve set myself this ridiculous challenge to spare you all from this terrible TV show (and, to be entirely honest, I’m still harbouring a tiny hope it’ll redeem itself,) so here we go.

Episode 2 opens with Jack and Emma pretending that all the ridiculousness they got up to in episode 1 was all a dream. Small mercy that’d be if it was true, but alas, no. They kiss for half a second and then both screw up their faces in horror. These people have been together how long and they can’t cope with morning breath?

We cut to Izzy, she of the ‘college girl escort DEFINITELY NOT A HOOKER’ trope, who is talking to herself in the mirror, then vomiting, then getting text messages from her creepy boyfriend, ‘Andy,’ who is angry that he can’t reach her. A little later, she’s cleaning like mad. Her roommate comes home and accuses Izzy of being in a “death and resurrection cycle,” as if the symbolism needed bashing over our heads any harder.

Jack is at work. He works at a high school, and we are treated to close ups of the word INTEGRITY in the motto on the school’s sign. Okay, we get it, you’re telling us what the people in this show lack with more subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-face camera work. There’s a knock at Jack’s office door and Izzy’s voice says, ‘Fred? Are you in there?’ Hahaha, it’s a throwback to ‘Jack not Fred’ in Episode 1. In she comes, and we cut to Emma, who is looking at Izzy on the escort site on her work computer (just to further hammer home the point that these people are A) unhealthily obsessed with this much younger woman who they hired as a PROFESSIONAL, and B) completely lacking in any kind of basic common sense.)

Back in Jack’s office, Izzy is climbing on his desk and telling him all about what a bad girl she is, just as Emma slips her vibrating mobile phone between her legs on her desk chair (true confession: I used to wank that way when I was about 13.) Izzy’s making out with Jack, then – wait, what? – she’s making out with Emma, too, and…. oh, no. It was just a fantasy and Emma has been walked in on, very obviously masturbating in her office, by a young male co-worker. Izzy moans, ‘Jack.’ A male voice says, ‘Jack?’ And our intrepid hero comes back down to earth, dream-Izzy gone, and realises he’s been caught having a lurid sexual fantasy at work by his boss. Emma makes an inappropriate sexual comment to her terrified young comment and then promises to write him an excellent recommendation (in exchange, one assumes, for keeping quiet about catching her mid phone-wank.)

Izzy pseudo-meditates, for some reason while hanging half upside-down off her bed, then Creepy Andy calls and they make a date. Jack is now hanging out with his brother again, (he of the ‘shag an escort to improve your sex life with your wife’ advice) and talking about having great sex with Emma but fantasising about Izzy. This leads the brother to compare women to cars. Fuck off, Jack’s brother.

Meanwhile, Emma does some weirdly orgasmic yoga and comes out with, ‘I’m having some kind of mind-body renaissance.’ What the fuck is this I can’t even. She then tells her yoga friend (remember Neighbour Lady, whose name seems to be Carmen?) about how great she is at hooking up with girls. Carmen refers to Izzy as ‘that hideously deformed grad student.’ God, this show really hates women. To top it off, Carmen goes straight to, ‘if you’re into girls why not me?’ and calls her a ‘big lesbo.’ It hates bisexuals too, apparently.

Next up, Izzy’s date with Creepy Andy, who is clearly mad at her. ‘I’m trying really hard to be patiently submissive here,’ she says while he glowers. Heads up Izzy, if you feel the need to be ‘patiently submissive’ in your relationship and it’s not consensual D/s, you might be being abused.

‘I think you might be my penance,’ he says, and there’s a veiled reference to ‘evil deeds’ in his past. Well, now this reminds me of the time my ex told me I was a curse. Thanks, stupid show. Apparently they’re going on a date because Andy wants romance.

Back in the therapist’s office, Emma tells her bisexual origin story (a totally sweet and normal college romance with a girlfriend, with only a tiny bit of ‘being dared to kiss by a guy’ thrown in) and Jack is pulling out all the biphobic judgement. ‘I’m embarrassed for you even telling this story,’ he says. Fuck you, Jack-Not-Fred. Also, apparently her having dated women in the past (BEFORE THEY MET) is worse than him having sought out an escort and cheated on her (LIKE LAST WEEK.) So there’s that.

Prettied up now, Izzy is back out with Andy. This guy has some serious toxic masculinity issues going on. Apparently he’s ‘hot enough to be a dick,’ which is definitely not a thing. But, again, he wants romance and will even make her breakfast. I hate everybody in this show.

At home, Jack and Emma are lying on the floor for some reason and declaring their love for each other. ‘It wasn’t a thing!’ says Emma of her bisexuality. Emma, having dated four women is definitely a ‘thing.’ Stop erasing your own bisexuality, other people do enough of that for us.

Communicating entirely in eyebrow waggling, they decide they want to have a threesome with Izzy. Next shot, she’s walking up the drive to their house while a neighbour across the street spies out of her window. Then Izzy’s at the door and supremely awkward ‘hi’s are exchanged. She smiles, and…. end scene.

I’m not sure if I’m more depressed that people are calling this a great portrayal of polyamory, or that there are still 10 more episodes for me to get through.

[Book Review] The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory by Dedeker Winston

★★★★★ – five stars.

The cover of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory - Everything you need to know about open relationships, non monogamy and alternative love by Dedeker Winston.

As a long-time listener of the Multiamory Podcast, I was seriously excited when Dedeker Winston (one third of the hosting team, along with her partner Jase and former partner Emily) announced she was writing a book. She and her co-hosts are funny, wise, insightful and down to Earth on the podcast, so I had high hopes for The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know About Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy and Alternative Love  – a fresh take on the polyamory advice book, with women and female experience front and centre.

The book is grouped into chapters, which are clustered into four sections: Polyamory 101, Pre Reqs, Mastering Non-Monogamy, and Out of the Classroom, Into the World. I read it cover to cover, but you could just as easily dip in and out, picking and choosing the sections that feel most relevant to you.

Polyamory 101 covers what polyamory is (and what it isn’t,) some of the different forms that ethical non monogamy can take, and an absolutely fascinating chapter on the socio-cultural and anthropological history of non-monogamy. Dedeker also talks us through some of the common objections to polyamory, from family and friends or from society at large, and possible ways to counter them.

Pre-Reqs deals with self-knowledge, really interrogating who you are, what you want and what makes you tick, as well as the skills required to live a happy and healthy non-monomous life (it goes beyond just “communicate,” y’all!)

Mastering Non-Monogamy was the real meat of this book, for me. There’s the expected chapter on jealousy, a whole chapter on sex and the various issues surrounding it, advice on crafting positive and healthy relationship rules/agreements, and more.

Finally, Out of the Classroom, Into the World attemtps to take the theories discussed in previous chapters and apply them in real-world situations. Dedeker discusses poly dating, finding community, coming out of (or choosing to stay in!) the closet and how polyamory can intersect with a range of marginalised identities and liberation movements.

This book is not easy reading at times. Dedeker approaches difficult topics with a light touch and a healthy dose of humour, but there are parts that are unavoidably difficult reading. Though she doesn’t actually use the A-word, she candidly describes behaviour by a former partner that can only be labelled as abusive. It’s not all sunshine and light – she gives us the bad, the scary and the unshiny parts of polyamory as unflinchingly as she gives us the love and the joy. And she challenges us repeatedly to be brave, to be unfalteringly honest with ourselves and our loved ones, to do the hard work required to be stronger and better and more compassionate versions of ourselves.

What sets this book apart from the others I’ve read is that women are centred throughout. Dedeker shares her experience on the unique struggles of a polyamorous, queer, sex-positive woman and tackles those challenges head on, and encourages other women to battle outdated gender stereotypes, sex-negativity, slut shaming, rape culture and the myriad other issues that disproportionately affect women and those read as women in trying to live a non-monogamous life. But despite this female focus, the book is consistently inclusive – it makes no assumptions about age, sexuality, gender identity or relationship style. For this reason, I really think anyone interested in polyamory should read it.

Dedeker is also refreshingly non-judgemental. She shares her experiences and wisdom about what tends to work well and what doesn’t, without preaching her way as the only (or even the best!) way. She seems to intuitively understand that everyone’s experience is different and that different relationship styles will work for people, while offering principles (including self knowledge, strong communication, compassion, honesty, good boundaries) that apply in making just about any style of relationship a success.

In a landscape of non-monogamy where current trends carry a hefty dose of “you have to be a relationship anarchist or you’re DOIN’ IT RONG,” I can’t tell you how refreshing this is. [1]

I really hope this book takes its place alongside The Ethical Slut, More Than Two and Opening Up as polyamorous required reading, because it deserves to. In my view, Dedeker Winston has written quite simply the best guide book on polyamory on the market today.

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[1] I have zero problem with people who practice RA. I do have a problem with anyone – poly, monogamous, RA, swinger, whatever – preaching their way as the only correct way to be.

How to Find – and Work With – a Sex Positive Therapist

Mr CK and I have officially The Best Therapist In The World (According to Us.) We really landed on our feet – when we decided to explore joint counselling as a way to ease the transition to living together and deal with some past traumas, we thought it would be really difficult to find someone who would accept us in all our poly, kinky weirdness. Instead, the first person we contacted turned out to be the perfect therapist for us (and has an office a minute from our house, which doesn’t hurt.)

Most people, however, are not so lucky when trying to find a therapist – and the more ‘out of the mainstream’ traits one possesses, the harder it is. So I thought I’d put together a quick guide to help you find, and work with, a sex-positive therapist who’s a good fit for you.

1. Use an appropriate directory

There are directories of kink-aware (etc.) professionals. Try the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (multiple countries, somewhat US centric,) the Open List (US only) or Pink Therapy (mainly UK,) or even just do a Google search with some keywords and see what comes up. If you can find someone who is already versed in working with sexual minorities, you’ll be on much better footing right from the beginning. But if this isn’t possible or you can’t find someone suitable from these resources…

2. Put everything on the table upfront.

By ‘upfront,’ I mean ‘ideally before the first appointment.’ Chances are you’ll talk to a potential therapist on the phone, or at least by email, before setting up your first appointment.

I listened hesitantly as Mr CK laid everything out on the phone to our potential therapist a year ago. Queerness? Check. Polyamory? Not an eyelash batted. Surely BDSM would be too much for her to deal with? Nope. (‘Consensual sadomasochism? Oh yes I know what that is.’) It was a difficult conversation to have with a total stranger we were potentially going to entrust with our innermost traumas and strains, but it was so, so worth having. Because when we walked into her office, we knew that none of the many facets of our unconventional sexual identities were used against us.

3. Make it clear your identities aren’t the problem.

The other piece of our success was making it clear that ‘we’re queer, polyamorous and kinky… and none of those things are at all problematic for us.’ It was context, not a statement that these things needed fixing. If your therapist pathologises your sexual identities or tries to convince you they need to change, fire them immediately and go to someone better.

4. Be unapologetic.

This applies in your initial disclosure of your identities and also any subsequent discussion in case they come up. If you act like your identities are something to be ashamed of, your therapist is more likely to react in kind or to perceive them as some kind of problem. If you’re matter of fact and unapologetic, they’re more likely to take the information on board as nothing more than useful background knowledge.

Say this: ‘Just so you know, for context, I’m queer, polyamorous and practice BDSM. Do you know what those things are?’

Not this: ‘Um, I know it’s weird, but… I do some unusual sexual stuff. Please don’t think I’m a freak but…’

5. Expect them to educate themselves

Unless you’re unbelievably lucky, your therapist will probably not be an expert on all the different facets of your identity. Educating them is not your job. Of course, you will need to talk about what words like ‘polyamorous’ or ‘kink’ or ‘sex positive’ mean to you, but you’re paying them to help you, and that includes educating themselves. If they’re asking you basic or 101 questions, suggest some resources and move the conversation on. If they make no effort to learn, they’re not a good therapist.

6. Don’t be afraid to steer the conversation

If things come back to aspects of your identity that aren’t relevant to the subject at hand, don’t feel afraid to steer the conversation back in the direction you want it to go. ‘I don’t think X is relevant here’ is a useful phrase. Again, if they insist that an aspect of your sexuality is a problem when it isn’t problematic for you, think about moving on. If they use any expression resembling, ‘you wouldn’t have this problem if you were [monogamous/vanilla/whatever,]’ I strongly suggest ditching them straight away.

7. Remember you deserve top quality care.

You’re probably paying a lot of money for therapy, but whether you are or not, you deserve the best care from your therapist. They work for you. You can end the therapist/client relationship any time you choose and there are amazing therapists out there, so please don’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat you – all facets of you – with the respect you deserve.

How has your experience of therapy been as a sex-positive, LGBTQ+, non-monogamous or kinky person? Tell me about it in the comments or drop me a line.