Tag Archives: same sex marriage

three wedding rings with the caption "Love Multiplied"

Are we next? Polyamory & Marriage Equality

With last week’s Supreme Court decision to make same-sex marriage legal across all 50 US states (or, as I’ve heard it said, “Fifty States of Gay!” 😉 ), we of the Poly Leadership Network have been deluged with questions, most asking some variant of “Is plural marriage next?”

Poly people have long known that we’re “the bottom of the slippery slope” according to the conservative right.  Lumping the right to marry multiple spouses in with child abuse, marrying livestock, and other extreme and unwelcome cases has been a favorite tactic of those trying to shut down the push toward “gay marriage.”  But now that we’re here, and the “unthinkable” has happened, is legalization of multi-partner marriage actually “next on the agenda” for poly people in the US? Continue reading

Polyamory on Huffpost Live TODAY at 1pmPacific

HuffPoLive Hey folks!  A quick and last-minute heads-up, that there will be a polyamory segment on Huffpost Live‘s “Hump Day” at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern TODAY, Wed. 2/26/14. [Here’s the link to the recorded segment.]  Loving More‘s Robyn Trask is one of those scheduled to appear.  (They contacted me, but I didn’t see the note till this morning, so I won’t be joining them this time.  See here for a link to the segment I appeared on in December.) At this past weekend’s International Academic Conference on the Future of Monogamy and Non-Monogamy, and especially during the special day on political issues, there was much discussion about the increase in media coverage over the past 5-8 years, and the implications that this might have for polyamorous and other sorts of non-monogamous people.  As Jim Fleckenstein of NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) said in the title of his presentation, “Okay, Polyamory’s Been Outed!  NOW What Do We Do?” — referring mostly to the media frenzy around the change in the Same Sex marriage landscape, and the many “slippery slope” predictions. And as always, you can keep tabs on what’s happening in poly media by checking out Alan M’s Poly In the News. He’s got a great archive going back to at least 2005, with lots of insightful commentary and discussion. It’s great to realize that the world is finally starting to catch up with the notion that no matter who or how many you love… Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  If you’re looking for help with your own polyamorous or other “outside the box” relationship, I do phone or Skype sessions, as well as in-person in the SF  Bay Area. Get more info here!kiss I’ve also updated my KISSable Agreements Workbook, and the updated version is now available from my website for only $10 for the pdf .  I’ve got a few physical copies on hand as well, for $15 (not including shipping, if you need that).


∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ [© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

Poly & Religon

Polyamory and Christianity: Strange Bedfellows, or Loving Companions?

Poly & Religon

Series title at ModernPoly.com

With the recent legal changes and affirmations around same-sex marriage, the conservative right is grappling with their own predictions of doom and gloom and the slippery slope.  The unthinkable has happened, so what could be next?

Those of us who are polyamorous are quite aware that we’ve long been painted as “the bottom of the slippery slope,” so it comes as no surprise to us that fundamentalists, especially Christians (e.g., the Christian Broadcasting Network), are looking to interview poly people on the topic. But while we polyfolk aren’t finding the conservatives particularly surprising, apparently WE are surprising THEM.

In particular, in his recent (and not yet released) interview, Dave Doleshal (founder of the Academic Polyamory Conference) reported that the interviewer for CBN was extremely surprised that there are many Christians who are also polyamorous.  According to Dave, this

“…seemed to make his eyes bug out. It seemed like this was a possibility he had never considered.”

As many of us who are polyamorous already know, there are indeed many poly* Christians.  (By “poly*” I am including those who identify as polygamous as well as polyamorous in this case, as the two groups are certainly overlapping in some ways, though not in others.) There are some who are devoutly Christian, and also poly*. In my practice as well as my personal experience, I have met some that believe that they are fulfilling God’s commandments (e.g., “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31) by being poly*. Some consider themselves to be following in the footsteps of Old Testament leaders, such as Kings Solomon and David, who each had many wives, or of Jacob, who famously waited 7 years to marry Rachel in addition to Leah. There is strong precedent for multiple wives (though less precedent for multiple husbands), in the Bible.

Note that we are not talking here about the Unitarians, who have a strong polyamory contingent. Nor are we limiting the discussion to Mormon splinter sects.  Many Christians do not consider either of those groups to be Christians, strictly speaking. We’re talking about Catholics, Episcopals, Lutherans, and many, many more from the mainstream Christian denominations. Some are closeted, and some are open with their Christian communities.  All are Christian AND poly*.

For those of you who might be Christian, but feel the call to being poly* as well, here are a few resources on the topic. [Note:  I have not explored all of these deeply, so this does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any particular beliefs, practices or politics; just a link to a few places to look to convince yourself that you are not alone!]

Article on Modern Poly site:

Liberated Christians:


Facebook Group for Poly Christians:

For those who may not know, I myself come out of a conservative Christian background. My ultimate choice was not to stay within the Christian Church, but to pursue Love as a spiritual path.  However, I do understand the mindset and the choices that those who are called to both might face. If you’re ever interested in discussing your own situation with me, feel free to book a free or half price session. I’m happy to listen, and to share any wisdom I can offer, because, as many of you already know, I truly believe that

“No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…

Love is ALWAYS OK.”

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Have you signed up yet for the FREE teleseminar, “Jealousy First Aid,” that I’m doing on September 4th at 5:45pm, with Kathy Labriola? It’s gonna be great! We’ll run through two tools you can use to reduce feelings of jealousy, and also tell you how you can get her new book The Jealousy Workbook (and hopefully also how you can get MY new book, the KISSable Agreements Workbook!)  Sign up now, so you can get the information on how to call in, and how to get the recording later!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Flying Pig Magnet from City Royalty, available on Zazzle

Marriage Isn’t the Only Way to Secure Human (and Poly) Rights

With the exciting developments of last week around striking down part of DOMA, and lifting the ban on same sex marriage in California (read lots more in Poly in the News), there’s a lot of discussion about marriage as the vehicle for various rights and privileges.  Political pundits on both sides of the aisle are starting to realize that now that pigs have flown, the reality of that slippery slope argument is imminently upon us.  In other words now that one group of people have been granted access to marriage rights, what about all the others who still don’t have those rights?  Say, for instance, the many un- (or under-)insured children of polyamorous or polygamous relationships? It becomes more and more difficult to maintain (at least with a straight face) that children of one relationship style (heterosexual dyadic marriage) are more deserving of healthcare and other rights than are children of other relationship styles, now that the heterosexual-only barrier has been broken.

That said, it’s unlikely in the extreme that plural marriages will be granted equal marriage rights anytime soon. In legal red tape terms, granting marriage rights to same sex couples is exactly the same as granting them to heterosexual couples. Granting them to multiple spouses, however, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish indeed. (Those who have been through a divorce are already rolling their eyes even as I type…)

To those who are engaging in hand-wringing and predictions of doom and despair, the best possible response may be, “Yes.  So?” Or to put it slightly more completely, “yes, many people in our `country don’t have equal rights even yet. So what is this society going to do about it? Making plural marriage legal (or decriminalizing it) is only one possible option to making sure that millions of children have adequate health care and other benefits.  We’re not set on that as the ONLY option. Would you like to talk about some others, such as separating individual human rights from the religious-based institution of marriage?”

No matter what happens in the future, the sad fact is that polyamory is discriminated against in many ways.  We are not (yet) protected by the anti-discrimination laws that cover same sex couples for instance, so the spectre of losing jobs (or failing to get them), getting discriminated against in housing matters (including retirement communities), and losing children in a custody dispute is very real indeed. Getting equal access to rights and privileges granted to married couples is certainly one way to gain some protections, but it’s not the only way.

Ken Haslam (retired MD, and curator of the Polyamory Collection at the Kinsey Library) reminded the Poly Leadership Network today of a paper written by Ann Tweedy, discussing the possibility of getting the protections afforded under the anti-discrimination laws I mentioned above, by asserting that polyamory should already be covered as a “sexual orientation.”  She makes some excellent and cogent arguments, and I highly recommend reading the abstract, and the whole paper if you can lay your hands on it.

In the meantime, you might want to brush up your responses to the “slippery slope” arguments, including but not limited to “oh, you mean polygamy? I didn’t know you were a Mormon!” You might want to check the handy table I posted recently, for this purpose. 🙂

Remember, no matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS: I’m running a SUMMER COACHING Special right now. I’d love to help you avoid the seemingly inevitable arguments and Agreements failures that come with the increasing complexity of polyamory and/or open relationships. Check out the special deals on my coaching (and Wedding Packages!) on my website. Buy now, and save over 30% off full price. 🙂  Not sure? Check out my testimonials page to see what others are saying, and/or contact me to set up a time for a free 30 minute exploratory session. Because Love is Always OK!

Poly People and Marriage: Results of the Loving More 2012 Survey


image by Angi Becker Stevens

With all the excitement over the recent rulings on DOMA (declared unconstitutional in part) and California’s Prop 8 (thrown out), Loving More Nonprofit’s release of a summary of some of the results of their 2012 Survey is timely indeed.

So what DO polyamorous people want?  Are we happy? What do we think about marriage?  These are some of the questions addressed in the Loving More 2012 survey (endorsed by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, aka NCSF) of over 4,000 self-identified polyamorous people. A summary report from these findings was recently released, and you can read it by clicking this link:


I found the survey interesting, if somewhat flawed (the limitations of the survey are openly discussed in this summary article.) Some of the findings are no surprise whatsoever (e.g., there are MANY more bisexual people in the Loving More population than in the general population, as represented by the General Social Survey.)

Also of interest is the fact that

consensually non-monogamous individuals were significantly more likely to have practiced safer sex with all partners, to have undergone STI testing, and to have had conversations about safer sex practices than were sexually unfaithful individuals in ostensibly monogamous relationships.”

The authors suggest — and I agree — that this is

“in keeping with general polyamorous ideologies of rigorous honesty in sexual relationships.”

I think it also matches up with the “poly mantra” of Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. 🙂

One of my favorite personal statistics from this survey is that

“the LM population was slightly, but significantly, happier than the general population.”

Cool. 🙂

On the whole, it’s an interesting survey, and worth a look, especially for those of us who are academically minded… or just plain curious. 😉

Here’s hoping that you, too are happy in your relationships, no matter who, or how many you love!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Did you know I’m already licensed to perform marriages in CA (and most other states)? I love co-creating custom rituals for weddings, handfastings, and other Life Milestone ceremonies for people of any and all genders, involved in any and all healthy and supportive relationship structures. Check out my LoveOTB Ministerial Services Page for more information! No matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Heart equals OK

Forgetting To Be Scared (a poem)

Heart equals OK
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that, in addition to believing that loving whomever and however many you want is a basic human right, I also follow love as a spiritual path. It’s not always easy to remember to turn toward love in all circumstances.  If, for instance, people are attacking you because of your relationship choices, (or if you are afraid that they might, or if you are afraid that those choices might affect your family) it can be awfully hard to remember that part of why you made those choices would be to allow more love in the world, and in your life. Recently, things have been a bit stressful for me personally, and I’ve found it necessary to remind myself of how to get back in touch with love, and with myself.  Since I’m pretty sure that this experience is not unique to me (*wry smile*), I thought I’d share with you the poem that I wrote as I followed my own path back to center.  It’s called “Forgetting To Be Scared,” and you can find it below the cut. I hope you enjoy it.

May you always remember that you are Love,

~♥ Dawn

PS: If you like the poem, you might want to join my LoveOTB list, where I shared this poem with my subscribers (along with a couple of other rockin’ offers like this awesome weekend June 20-23, by my friend and mentor Samantha Bennett) a couple of days ago.

PPS: In honor of Pride Month, you might also want to check out my Love Is OK T-shirt with the rainbow heart.  Because no matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK! (Tip: Use code 15PROMOONALL for a 15% discount when you order by end of day on 6/11/13.)

Continue reading

What Is Couple Privilege?


Fellow poly blogger Franklin, aka Tacit (deservedly well-known for his site More Than Two), recently published a very interesting article in his Live Journal about “couple privilege.” Rather than try to reinvent the wheel here, I’ll let you read his own words about what that means:

Polyamory: So What Is Couple Privilege, Anyway?


I also wrote a bit about this concept last year, in an entry called “Primary Privilege and the Illusion of Security,” in case you’re interested in reading more.
It might be worth noting, as I am publishing this on April 15, tax day, that one of the privileges accorded to married couples in the US is that of filling taxes as Married, which can often result in tax savings over two individuals filing separately. This privilege is not available to non-married couples, nor is a comparable tax rate available to singles (or groups of more than 2, for that matter!). This is only the the most obvious tip of the iceberg around the vast numbers of privileges afforded to couples, in particular (but not limited to, in most cases) married, heterosexual couples.

As always, I welcome your thoughts. Some questions you might find interesting: How does couple privilege show up in your relationship/s? Do you think it’s good to “protect the couple”? Bad to perpetuate privilege? Neither, or both? Feel free to contact me (or comment below) with any feedback or comments.

With very best wishes,

~♥ Dawn

PS: Want to discuss all of this privately? I’m happy to do a free 30 minute, or a 1/2 price 60 minute phone session with you. Get clear on what your relationship structure is, and underlying assumptions about rules and boundaries, and your relationship/s will be easier and happier! Or call me (510-686-3386) to set up a time for a free intro session!

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Changes for Polys in Colorado


Things are really hopping for polyamorous people in Colorado right now. In addition to the big news with the excellent poly episode on Our America With Lisa Ling (which profiled some of the Loving More folks in CO), the Colorado legislature has apparently also just passed legislation regarding same sex partnerships in the state. According to Robyn Trask, head of Loving More:

[Recently] the Colorado Legislature passed a bill for Civil Unions for same sex couple. The bill allows many of the same rights for Civil Unions as marriage but falls short in areas of taxation and some financial benefits.

Loving More has been contacted by reporters asking if the polyamory community wants marriage or civil unions and do we plan to “push” for this now or in the future. …

I am wondering how the leaders here [on the Poly Leadership Network list] feel about this issue. Loving More is not a political organization and we can’t push for any legislation. Our role is awareness, social advocacy and support.

Discussion is ongoing on the PLN list, and several people have weighed in. Jessica Burde of Polyamory on Purpose expressed a couple of very good points:

1) We have bigger issues. When polyfolk can’t lose their children and
their jobs for being poly, when there aren’t laws on the books which
can fine us or send us to jail for our lifestyles, then I’ll worry
about whether or not we should fight for marriage.

2) LGBT doesn’t need us rocking their boat. A lot of us have been
disappointed with the response of the LGBT community to the poly
movement. Many of them see our desire for recognition as a threat to
the progress they have made over the last few decades. By providing
ammunition for the slippery slope argument, we hurt the people we want
for allies, and help the people who want to hurt us.

three wedding rings with the caption "Love Multiplied"

Are we ready for poly marriages?

Here’s what I added to the discussion:

“Pushing” for poly marriage would probably be a mistake, I think. Jessica [Burde] has said some good reasons why. I actually think that the way to create a more just, fair, and safe society (here in the US anyway) for everyone, is to fix the damn health care situation. Ridiculous “health” “care” costs ruin so many people’s lives, and drive decisions about marriage and relationships. I’m still married to my “almost ex” (or my “significant ex” as my sister calls him!) in large part because of health care access. […] Get health care OUT of the marriage question, and make it a RIGHT for ALL citizens (at the very least; possibly all HUMANS residing in these borders), and then we can start talking about what choices people might want to make around marriage/relationship.

And yes, the dangers of losing children in custody battles is a huge problem as well. The more we can educate the public on the safety and indeed positive benefits of poly to children raised in poly households, the better for everyone. Again, that doesn’t require “pushing” for marriage benefits — just educating about poly families (e.g., the excellent work of Elisabeth Sheff in the US and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (sp?) in Australia.) Getting it through the thick skulls of the lawmakers that the stigma and fear is more dangerous than the “lifestyle” is definitely going to help.

As to polys riding on the coattails of the GLBT movement… yes, same sex marriage is necessary before we can even consider poly marriage, since any poly marriage would defacto contain at least one same sex couple. But same sex marriage is not the SAME as poly marriage, and it isn’t necessarily the next logical step, since it is pretty radically not the same as hetero couple marriage. Same sex marriage is required — but not sufficient — for poly marriages to exist.

Where I come down, in general, is that I believe that everyone should have a right to free association (gee, where did that idea come from?? *eyes the documents of our founding forebears…*) and to be related to whomever and however many they love. As such, I support the rights of same sex couples to marry. I also think that, if we remove the notion of heterosexual couples only, that eventually it will become nonsensical to think that we should limit loving relationships to only two adults, in the same way that eventually it became nonsensical to imagine that people of different religions or races should not marry. But I think that will come about without us having to “push” for it… just educate, educate, educate.

What do YOU think? Is now the time to be discussing poly marriage? What kind of marriage laws might YOU like to see? How do you think we should be approaching this issue?

As always, feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my Facebook Page, Love Outside The Box. I welcome your input on these issues of importance to all of us who “love outside the box.”

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Are you interested in creating a poly relationship ceremony?  Or creating a more standard wedding for two people, and want someone who understands that you are proceeding from some different assumptions? I’m an ordained minister, with experience creating and officiating at weddings and other life milestone ceremonies.  You can find out more about this aspect of my work on my Ministerial Services page. And as always, I’m happy to set up a 30 minute free consultation to help you determine if I’m the right person for the ceremony you want to create.  No matter who and how many you love… Love is ALWAYS OK!


∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Savaging Dan: Some Thoughts on Poly as Identity

The inimitable Dan Savage has stirred things up again, this time by saying it’s not possible for polyamory to be an identity:

Poly is not a sexual identity, PP, it’s not a sexual orientation. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do. — Dan Savage, 11/21/12

For the record (although Dan’s actual advice to Polyamorous Polymath isn’t so bad — basically “if you really can’t compromise on this, then do both of you a favor and end the relationship as gracefully and as quickly as possible”), I definitely disagree with his statement around polyamory and identity. I think that you should be able to identify however you damn well please, as well as loving (and/or being sexually attracted to) whomever and however many people works for you (and for them.) I don’t think these are mutually exclusive concepts. (For some more good poly critique of Dan’s original post, check out Anita Wagner Ilig’s post in her Practical Polyamory blog.)

In a thread on the Poly Researchers list, author Meg Barker (Rewriting the Rules) said,

It is different things for different people, and sometimes at different times for the same person.
To which I added:
“…and for the same person with *different people.*”

As an example, I have some partners where the “fundamental harmonic” is kinky, and some for whom it is not. I literally cannot have vanilla sex with one partner, and I never or rarely have kinky sex with another. It’s about the dynamic BETWEEN individuals, not about some static quality of each person. The fact that there’s a “fundamental harmonic” doesn’t mean that other harmonics are less “real” or less “true” for any particular interaction.

By extension, I think it’s possible for people to be somewhere on the mono to poly/open scale, and to be in a fundamentally poly dynamic with one (or more) partner/s, and in a fundamentally mono dynamic with another.  I think they can APPEAR to change over time, much as bisexual people appear to change over time, when really, it’s more that they’re expressing different parts of themselves at different times with different people.  People are complex, after all!

I even referred to this (in a different context) a couple of months back in my blog:

“…I think it’s by far the most common case that polyamory includes sex. In my definition, polyamory most often includes sex, in the exact same way that monogamy most often includes sex, but can be experienced without it; they’re both relationship styles after all. But just as it’s possible to have a celibate or sex-free monogamous relationship,  it’s quite possible that someone might identify as polyamorous but not be having sex or in a sexual relationship.  The presence or absence of  sex is not like a light switch after all. Otherwise, we’d all walk around changing our status whenever we had a sexual encounter (or didn’t): Now polyamorous, now celibate, momentarily monogamous, polyamorous again ….” (http://blog.unchartedlove.com/?p=1594)

Ultimately, I am concluding, I do view polyamory as an orientation — whether a sexual one or “only a relationship one” pretty much doesn’t matter in this case — which might for some of us be/become an identity. As Jessica Burde said on the PLN list, I think it’s possible for poly to be BOTH “something you are” AND “something you do.”  Which, I’ll note, can be true of being “Queer” as well (much as Dan might prefer to skip over that part):  You can certainly engage in same-sex sexual behaviors, without identifying as “queer”; and you can certainly identify as gay, for instance, while not being in any currently sexual relationship whatsoever.

Sarah Taub mentioned in the version of this thread on the PLN list that she views the genesis of this tension (at least in the US, and I’ll add, possibly the driving force behind Dan’s need to exclude polyamory as an orientation or an identity) as being the struggle for rights and freedoms. The GLBT movement leaders largely chose to frame the discussion as a matter of “innate orientation,” saying that people should not be penalized for expressing their true nature (“we can’t help it.”) So therefore same-sex couples and families should not be penalized in terms of marriage rights and tax benefits, for instance, because “they can’t help being who they are.”

(This framework is, not incidentally, problematic for bisexuals (among others), since people who can choose to be in either a heterosexual or a homosexual relationship don’t fit well within an “I can’t help it” framework. This is undoubtedly at least part of why so many bi folk have felt dismissed, denigrated, or just erased by the GLBT rights activists over the years… and why poly folks and bisexuals seem to have found common cause in at least some cases.)

Polyamory banner in the 2005 SF Pride Parade

The polyamory contingent of the SF Pride Parade, on June 26 2005, marching under the registration of the Bay Area Bisexual Network (BABN.)

On the other hand, there’s another common framework for the “fairness” discussion that dates back at least to the founding of our country, which is the idea of “free choice.” This is what our doctrine of “freedom of religion” is based upon:  “everyone gets to choose whether and how to worship deity/spirit, without interference from the government” (at least in theory).

As Sarah said, GLBT activists have mostly used the first frame, and poly activists have mostly used the second.  There are some GLBT activists that choose the second frame (e.g., “everyone gets to choose whom they love, and whom they call family”), but by and large the differences in these frames can explain why the conversation comes up over and over again as a point of tension, and why (inexplicably to me, previously), so many GLBT folks seem to view polys as “the enemy” rather than natural allies.

I think ultimately, I’m with Bonefish, commenting on Dan’s blog, who says that whether or not polyamory is a sexual orientation (which arguably it’s not under most current definitions of “sexual orientation”), it most definitely CAN be an “identity.”  The point, ultimately, isn’t “orientation vs. choice.”  The point is actually that regardless of whether polyamory is something innate, or something chosen, it can still be a primary part of one’s identity. And no one — not Dan, not some church, not the government — has a right to tell me (or you!) what and who is important to me. I get to love who I love, and to say that, and I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it, nor fear consequences for speaking out about it (though this latter is still unfortunately true for many people regarding employment and child custody issues in particular. See Woodhull’s Family Matters Project for more on “rights, recognition and respect for all families.”)

To sum up, I think that with regard to the issue of polyamory as identity, Dan has his loud mouth up his proverbial backside, and people have come out in force to tell him so.  What a shame he can’t recognize polyamorous people as potential allies if you doused us in glowpaint and shone a blacklight on us! I’ll surely be looking forward to seeing the responses he posts in next week’s promised follow up on the original post!  Should be very interesting indeed….

I’d be curious to know, by the way, how you identify. Feel free to fill out this quick checkbox form if you’d like. (You don’t even have to leave your email address for this one [ETA: and I’ve even made the name field optional, too]. 🙂

May you have as much love as you want, need, and deserve (no matter what your orientation is!)

~♥ Dawn

PS: It’s kinda funny, actually, because I said some stuff recently that might be read as agreeing with Dan, that poly is something you do rather than are (here in my most recent Agreements Tip, #6.)  To clarify, though, I see it more as a case of AND rather than OR.  Yes, when making Agreements, it’s a good idea to keep sexual behaviors separate from relationship needs.  That’s more about how Agreements (especially ones around Safer Sex) work, though, and not about the validity of viewing polyamory (or GLBT, or…) as either behavior or orientation.

PPS: And as weird as it feels to say this, I find myself agreeing with Tim Graham (Note: a “right wing nutjob” according to Anita) when he says to Dan:

This seems a little bit arbitrary in the world of Anything Goes, doesn’t it? You may behave however you want sexually in Savage World, but the political dictionary is strictly maintained.
That does seem a bit odd, doesn’t it, for someone like Dan who usually argues that no one else should be allowed to comment on his chosen relationship? So who made him god … er … the editor of the “political dictionary” when it comes to polyamory??

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Create Clear Ownership of Agreements (Tip #5)

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.As mentioned in Monday’s post, I’m plugging away at finishing a draft of my Agreements Workbook.  Here’s the next installment, Tip #5:  “Create Clear Ownership of the Agreement.”

Questions or comments about any of these Agreements Workbook entries?  Feel free to contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box!

Thanks for reading. 🙂

~♥ Dawn

PS:  How about that election news, eh? Same sex marriage rights bills passed in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State! And voters also rejected a bid in Minnesota to change their constitution in order to ban same sex unions. For once I kinda hope that the conservatives are c0rrect, and rights for multiple partner unions are a mere slippery slope away, because if so, it looks like we’re picking up speed! In the meantime, you may want to check out Woodhull’s Family Matters project. They’re still looking for participants in their project based on family diversity being a human rights issue (rather than a civil rights one.)

PPS: Want to talk more specifically about your own family situation? I’ll be happy to do a mini-session for you for free. 🙂 Just drop me a line!

 ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

5) Create Clear Ownership of the Agreements

Suppose you and your partner/s have agreed that the cat’s litterbox needs to be cleaned every day. You even wrote it down.  It’s everyone’s job, so everyone is supposed to notice that it needs to be done.  But every day, the box isn’t clean, and no one seems to know why.  The answer?  Because you didn’t create “clear ownership” of the Agreement.  Because it was “everyone’s job,” but no one’s job in particular, no one felt any particular responsibility to do it, and everyone assumed that “someone else” would take care of it. (My ex and I used to call this an “SEP field” for “Somebody Else’s Problem.”)

Kitten in a litterbox

It stinks when someone doesn’t do their job…

To create clear ownership of the Agreement, designate who is responsible for the Agreement.  In some cases, this will be one person, though who that is might change from day to day. So for example, you might create an Agreement that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kitty’s litterbox will be cleaned by Person A, and on Mondays and Wednesdays by Person B, etc. That way, if the box isn’t clean, it’s clear who is responsible for that, and any consequences or requests can get directed to the right person.  This saves time, energy, and sometimes relationships!

It’s possible to have Agreements where more than one person “owns” the Agreement, but to do this, it’s very important that both/all people “own the Agreement 100%.”  You might think that it would be ok for two people to each own it 50%… but this just ends up being the same thing as no one owning the Agreement.  If each person owns the Agreement 100%, however, then each person will do the required action every time that they can do it, because they never assume that someone else will do it. So for instance, if everyone is responsible for keeping the counters clean, then every time each individual uses a dish, they clean it and put it in the drainer.  Each person owns their own part of that Agreement 100%. However, this only works if everyone is 100% responsible, and/or if there is some specific plan of action for what to do if someone slacks off.

Here’s an example of how this style of Agreement might work. My housemate told me a story about a shared household she lived in for a while where the rule was that no one ever left dirty dishes on the counter.  If you used it, you washed it immediately. The other housemates were empowered to put any dirty dishes on the bed of the person who left them there (assuming you could figure out who did it.) For me personally, I don’t like this version as much, because it can still end up with one person doing all or most of the work if every person isn’t 100% responsible all the time — or with all of the dishes in one person’s room and nothing to eat on! But she’s says it worked for them. For myself, I vastly prefer clear and individual ownership of each Agreement, but “your mileage may vary,” as they say!

Another challenge that arises if there isn’t clear ownership of an Agreement is that each person may be waiting for the other to do something, before moving on to the next step.  So let’s take an example of a primary couple who each have secondary partners. If we have an Agreement to only schedule dates when the other person already has a date, we might end up with no one going on dates for a long time, while each person waits for the other person to schedule a date! This is called a “bottleneck,” and it can bring things to a complete halt very quickly. (See the book The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
for more about this concept.)  It might be better to frame the Agreement in a way that no one is waiting for someone else, or agree on a maximum time that you need to wait after informing your partner/s of the date proposal before you can consider it finalized. Anything that addresses the bottleneck (and doesn’t create another!) would be helpful here.

Clear ownership of the Agreement — including any sub-parts it might have, or anything that differs from one person to the next — will help keep the Agreements functional, and will help to forestall bottlenecks and other such issues.

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

[Next Entry: Keep Emotional and Safety Needs Distinct (Agreements Tip #6)]

[Previous Entry: The Fun Factor in Agreements (Tip #4)]

[Return to the Table of Contents for the Agreements Workbook Series]

[Return to the first text entry in the Agreements Workbook series]