Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post on Polyamory: Sexual Orientation or Lifestyle?

Susannah Summer’s guest post muses about polyamory as a sexual orientation and/or a lifestyle.

 

Born this way- Polyamorous as an orientation vs. life-style choice

About a year ago, after months of anguish and fighting every time my partner brought up the prospect of another female, I came to the realization that I needed to ask him to close our relationship.  I have been under a tremendous amount of stress for about 3 years now.  Last year around this time, a particularly bad crisis hit my business that required I muscle every ounce of my emotional, spiritual and physical strength to fight it.  I began working 12 hour days– every day.  I went 7 months this past year without a day off.  It was hard.

Lucky for me, my wonderful partner understood and could perceive that I was correct in my assessment that I currently do not  have the emotional depth and fortitude to actively practice polyamory and he agreed to the closure.  For how long?  Good question.  We do not know.  YIKES!  DOES THIS MEAN WE ARE NOT REALLY POLY??

We have had several discussions lately about why being poly is harder for me– I’m much older and lived in a monogamous marriage for 18 years, whereas he’s been practicing polyamory since the age of 14 and has NEVER been monogamous; I grew up in a very strict, conservative home where I was told that sex is a sin outside of marriage whereas he was handed pornographic novels at age 13 by his liberal thinking mother–” Here son, read this!” A number of factors have led us to very different places on the poly spectrum.

 

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I recently had an epiphany moment when having a conversation with a transgender friend about whether or not being trans is a “choice” or if transgender people are just born that way. We were discussing my friend’s daughter, who has been exhibiting signs of being trans since she was only 2 years old.  Now as a 9 year-old, she looks, acts and dresses like a boy. She/he has been my most convincing piece of evidence that being transgender IS NOT A CHOICE for some people. It is who they are. I realize I may be stepping on the line of not being PC here, folks….please have mercy on me if I’m using words that are offensive to you. This conversation about my friend’s daughter led me to say, “Oh, my God….J was born this way!”.

 

My friend laughed at the way my face lit up as the thought of polyamory being an orientation struck me.  It made me consider my own ideas about poly?  Is this my orientation or is this more of a lifestyle choice for me following the stifling experience I had in a long-term marriage?

 

I know that I was NOT born poly. I had never heard that word before I was 41.  I knew as a college student that I liked men– a lot– and I often had more than one partner, all of whom knew of one another and a couple were even friends. But, I thought I was a slut. I thought this because I had been told that this is what girls who slept around were. When I left my marriage about 4 years ago, I told my first partner (who happened to be J) that I would not be monogamous with him. But, it was a lifestyle choice for me. J could never be happy in a long-term monogamous marriage like the one I had for so long. However, that is not true for me, even now. I could just as easily be happy in a monogamous marriage/long-term relationship if that situation were presented to me and I decided to go for it.

 

So, where does this leave us?  

I think with more questions than answers at this point:

 

*If one member of a poly couple/triad or more has a poly orientation but the other(s) do not, what will this mean for their relationship? What challenges will they face? How will they deal with them? Is their relationship destined to fail?

 

*How can the orientation poly person help the life-style poly person better navigate the poly world? Is the orientation poly person inherently more capable of higher functioning in a poly relationship- i.e. less jealousy, more open to the benefits of being polyamorous?

 

For now, J has agreed to our closure. But, I feel guilty about it. I struggle with my feelings around this almost every day. I want to be okay with him experiencing meaningful relationships with others. I want to trust him enough to let him make his own decisions and not have them be hindered by what I feel I can or cannot handle emotionally. I want to be happy for him when he expresses interest in someone else he’s met.

 

So, what do I do? For myself? For my own understanding and growth?

 

What does he do? Just wait? Help me find ways to de-stress and find more balance in my life so I can become more emotionally stable?

 

DOES THIS MEAN WE ARE NOT POLY?

 

I believe the answer to that is no.

 

We want this for our lives and we hope that someday soon we can re-open our relationship. But, for now, we need to keep each of us healthy and that requires this sacrifice. For this time. For this place. And that’s just how it is.

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Filed under consensual nonmonogamy, Guest Post, love, marriage, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, relationships, romance, sex, sexuality, Transgender, Uncategorized

Dr. Sheff Now Guest Blogging for NCSF

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I have begun guest blogging for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom — check out my first guest blog with NCSF on the Top Three Considerations When Coming Out As Polyamorous at https://ncsfreedom.org/press/blog/item/guest-blog-top-three-considerations-when-coming-out-as-polyamorous.html

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How To Talk About Sexting With Your Teen: Guest Post by Hilary Smith

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Many parents dread giving the “birds and the bees” talk to our kids. In days past, this talk involved a lot of awkward silences and euphemisms. Today, however, these talks can also be used to empower our sons and daughters to safely navigate their sexual development. Unfortunately, one area of concern parents often overlook is the role technology and sexting plays in our child’s sexual exploration.

 

For parents it can be daunting to begin talking about sexting, but we can’t overlook this new right of passage that comes with raising digital natives. Data shows that 40 percent of all high school age children send or receive sexts. To drive this point home, 70 percent of teenagers acknowledge they participate in sexting behaviors with their significant other. Admitting that our children are actively sexting can be difficult, but recent studies have found that sexting is a completely normal part of development.

 

Curious on How To Approach Sexting?

 

First, we need to take a deep breath and relax. After all, sexting isn’t alien or abnormal. These behaviors are often compared to an updated version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.” Many of our teens viewing sexting as a safe alternative for intercourse, because there are no pregnancy and STD threats when images are the only items being exchanged.

 

Given the secretive nature of sexual interactions, it can be very difficult for a parent to know if their child is sexting behind closed doors. The private nature of online interaction and especially sexting makes it even more important we address this issue before our kids encounter pressure from peers to participate. Hopefully, by encouraging open communication, we can give our sons and daughters the means and methods to protect themselves in a digital world.

 

Tips For “The Talk”

 

Thankfully, there are measures everyone can take to help reduce the risks associated with sexting. Listed below are eight pointers to help us approach the topic of sexting with our children:

 

  • Avoid name calling, yelling, or blaming during our discussion. As parents, we ultimately want to create a safe environment that our children feel comfortable discussing intimate topics.

 

  • Remind them that anything posted on the Internet will last forever. That includes deleted texts, messages, and disappearing apps. Stress that it is a good idea to only post images or messages that they would allow their grandparents to view.

 

  • Make sure they understand that once a sext is sent, the recipient holds their fate in their hands. Sexting leaves a person exposed to the whim of the person on the other end of the connection. Even disappearing messages can be retrieved or screenshots taken.

 

  • Stress the importance of consent. Consent is an important life skill, even if they are only snapping a racy selfie. Encourage them to question if they willingly want to participate or if they have the other person’s consent to share a personal photo.

 

  • Let teens know it’s alright to say NO. Experts estimate that 60 percent of teens who sext feel pressure to send racy images. A person who truly cares, will not force someone to do things they are uncomfortable with.

 

  • Teens need to understand the legal consequences they face if caught. Due to outdated laws, sexting between underage minors can be considered possessing or distributing child pornography, even if both parties consent. This can result in being labeled as a child predator, felon, and sexual offender.

 

  • Encourage interaction between people children know in real life and make sure they know how to adjust their privacy settings. After all, anything posted on social media is never really private.

 

  • Help protect their reputation by stressing the importance of keeping their faces and identifying traits out of a sext. Every now and then a sext is leaked or shared with others, which can cascade into cyberbullying and harassment cases. Simply adjust the angles of the photo to take an extra safeguard- just in case.

 

Caught In The Act: What Not To Say To A Sexting Teen

 

If you suspect your child is sexting, avoid reacting with rage and fury. It is believed that 70 percent of our teens take measures to hide their online activity from us. As parents, this can be difficult to digest. Watching our children dim screens or close windows the minute we walk in the room can easily set off our parental radars for questionable activity. Collect yourself and touch base with your teen using the above tips to help guide the conversation.

 

What methods does your family utilize to address teen sexting?

 

 

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Filed under Families, Guest Post, love, Media, relationships, romance, sex, sex education, sexuality, Uncategorized