Polyamory Fics with Hispanic Characters

Double the Risk by Samantha Cato. Two cops–partners–fall for the new medical examiner. Nice bonus ATM–series is about a family of cops trying to expose corruption in the Boston PD. (CN for the rest of the series–the 3rd book has some heavy transphobia.)

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. Polyamory classic.

The Feeling Is Multiplied bio-fictional webcomic by Blue Crow, Marco Padilla, and Matt J. Rainwater. First strip. Awesome webcomic. I wish they’d update their navigation.

After You by Ophelia Bell. I’m iffy on this one. Short story, three-way sex, established couple has a three-way with someone they are both attracted to. Normally I wouldn’t tag it polyam, but reviewers say the story ends with all three in love with each other. And Bell has written at least on other polyam story (Dragon’s Melody).

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. Post apocalyptic story with both utopian and dystopian societies. On the Goodreads Polyamory in Fiction list and has Hispanic characters.

Mother of Demons by Eric Flint. Polyam relationship is very much in the background, but it’s there.

The Allison Dutch Series by Michon Neal. And many of Michon’s other books.

Polyamory and Pregnancy

Revised 10/18/16. Not much changed here, though I did update the description of how pregnancy affects me and add the note on terminology at the bottom. Unfortunately, I was not aware of trans issues when I first wrote this series, so I’ll be changing terms as we go.. Also some grammar fixes. And I have four kids now. Ironically, these updated posts will be going up Tuesdays, not the Thursdays of the original pregnancy series.

As a mother of three, recently postpartum, I can safely say pregnancy is a major, life-altering, relationship changing, huge-as-the-Mariana Trench deal. Bookstores have entire sections about pregnancy, and magazines are written just for pregnant mothers. We have one entire industry devoted to preventing pregnancy and another to helping people get pregnant.

And I promise, when you are throwing up from morning sickness (or holding your partner’s hair while they throw up) is not the time to deal with relationships gone haywire because you’re not sure who the father is! (Every person is different, and I make no claims to speak for every pregnancy experience. In my case, pregnancies trigger massive depression with all the associated problems. I warn people when I get pregnant that I will be insane for the next 9 months. They never believe me. NOT a good time to try to sort out major life issues whether it’s a relationship problem or a big move.)

That said, pregnancy in polyamory is just too huge for me to discuss in one post or one dozen posts. So, I’m going to try to expand my posting a bit. In addition to Sunday posts, I’ll be posting every Thursday about pregnancy in polyam relationships.

Thursday topics will include:

  • Planning for pregnancy
  • Coping with unexpected pregnancies
  • Contraceptives
  • Prenatal care with multiple partners
  • Birth planning with multiple partners
  • Living arrangements during pregnancy
  • And anything else I can think of that might be relevant, useful, or interesting to a poly relationship dealing with, or preparing to deal with, pregnancy.

Note on terminology: throughout this series, I will refer to people who are pregnant as “mothers” and everyone else as “parents” or “potential parents” regardless of gender. I realize this isn’t a perfect approach, but it’s the best I have at the moment. Readers are welcome to suggest alternatives.

Click here for the full list of polyamory and pregnancy blog posts.

Polyamory Meal Planning

Revised and re-posted 10/11/16. My polycule has changed several times over the past few years, and the details of my meal lists have changed as people moved in and out of my life. But I still keep these three lists. Main changes here are fixing grammar and typos.

meal planning polyamory

Are family meals ever really this idealistic?

In a few weeks, my metamour will be coming to visit. She’s allergic to vitamin K. My partner is on a restricted diet due to heartburn. And I keep Kosher. My metamour’s husband is staying home this time, so we don’t need to eat vegetarian.

Yup, polyam meals can get complicated. If you live together, the process can become habit, but sometimes it will still be a hassle. Luckily, there are ways to make life easier.

Polyam Meal Lists

My favorite trick for putting together polyam meals is to keep these three lists. The first two I keep saved on my computer though if you live together it might be easier to post them in the kitchen. The last one I keep in my head.

  • Food restrictions – what doesn’t each person eat.
  • Food preferences – what does each person like to eat.
  • Emergency meals – what can you throw together on the fly that everyone can eat.

Here is an example of my food restrictions list. I combine this with food preferences, and I have a pretty good guideline for planning meals, depending on who is going to be there.

Restrictions list:

My partner –

  • tomato-based sauces
  • ‘hot’ foods
  • broccoli (he just can’t stand it)

My metamour –

  • Anything with vitamin K including
    • Dark leafy vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus

Me –

  • Pork
  • Anything that mixes dairy and meat
  • Organ meats
  • Shellfish

My sister –

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary

Metamour’s Husband –

  • Meat (includes fish)

One time, when my metamour and her husband came down, the ‘vegetarian’ boxed meal I picked up, wasn’t. It was a massive scramble to find something everyone could eat. That’s when I came up with my emergency meals list. It’s 3 meals that everyone I might expect to be at my home can eat and that I can throw together quickly. This way, if a planned meal falls through, I have alternatives.
My emergency meals list is:

  • Pasta with light pesto sauce
  • Rice balls with corn or another veggie filling
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

These are meals that I reliably have the ingredients for, and can cook practically in my sleep.

I hope somewhere there exists a polyamorous relationship that doesn’t need to jump through hoops to make a meal everyone can enjoy. So far, every polyam family I’ve been in has had multiple food restrictions, often contradictory ones! A bit of thought, planning ahead, and most of all keeping these lists, makes meal time a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable.

What are you polyam meal tips? Share them in the comments!

Polyamory Fic with Black Characters

There are a LOT of romance/erotica books with black characters that are listed as polyamory. Unfortunately, they are very hit-or-miss with may of them fetishizing black characters or including coersive or other un-polyam elements in the relationships. The things listed here are things I can say for certain are not fetishizing blackness AND represent polyamory (or honest attempts at polyam). Most of them have been created by black people. As always, you are welcome to leave comments with addition suggestions.

Compersion: YouTube video series, currently 11 episodes with new episodes every two weeks. Keena tells her husband she wants to try polyamory. Drama ensues. (I want to say here that part of why I love Compersion is it is NOT showing an idealized polyam relationship. It is showing three flawed people who make mistakes and hurt each other, but are in their own ways trying to make things work. Or as EnchantTV tweeted, “…show is called #Compersion for a reason. Journey to. Not an easy arrival.” But if you are looking for happy polyam representation, this isn’t it [yet].)

3:The New Normal: video featuring the daily life of an FMF triad. (What I said about Compersion? Here’s you happy, healthy polyam representation.)

Ascension by Jacquiline Koyanagi: Science fantasy novel, one of my faves, supposedly a sequel coming eventually.

The Changing of Allison Dutch by Michon Neal. And most of Michon’s other books.

Domina: Submission is a Privilege by Peter Mack. I haven’t had a chance to read any of Mack’s work yet, but he’s on my to-read list. Rec’d by Kato Cooks of Black & Poly.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. Polyamory classic.

Patternmaster series and Xenogenesis series by Octavia Butler.

Showtime’s Shameless includes a polyam throuple that (according to one reviewer) may be the most normal part of the show. Details on the polyam plot line on Poly in the Media.

This post is part of a series on Minority Representation in Polyam Fiction.

Polyamory and Power of Attorney

This US-centric post contains information that may or may not apply in other countries. I am not a lawyer, this post is for information purposes only. Not much changed here, but I fixed a few broken links and checked that Rocket Lawyer is still up and running. They are, and it looks like you can do most Power of Attorney paperwork there for free now. Updated October 6, 2016

A common piece of practical advice for polyam folk is “set up medical power of attorney.” But most people I’ve spoken with never do. Why? Well, people often expect legal stuff to be complicated, expensive and time-consuming. And hey, I’m healthy, right? I’ll take care of it when I have the money, can afford a lawyer, have the time to research… and it gets pushed behind all the daily concerns of bills, family and relationship stuff.

If you haven’t set up a medical power of attorney yet, you should as soon as possible, for a lot of important reasons. But, that there are other things you can do with a power of attorney. Power of attorney can give anyone the financial, medical, and property powers and rights that a legally married spouse has. And you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. Just give your agent(s) (the person(s) you gave power of attorney) a statement saying that you are revoking your power of attorney. So you don’t need to worry about being trapped in an agreement.

In my research for this post, I stumbled across a great site for US polyam folk called Rocket Lawyer. They have an easy set up to create a personalized power of attorney with all the proper legalese. Their ‘interview’ questions cover everything you need to set up power of attorney. Then the site auto-generates the proper legal paperwork. It also includes the ability to give the power of attorney to multiple people. Rocket Lawyer charges for some services and offers others for free. The services it charges for are a lot cheaper than hiring your own attorney.

If you know of similar resources for polyam folk in other countries, please leave a link in the comments!

For a polyamorous relationship, it’s a good idea to set up two separate power of attorney forms:

  • Specific financial/legal rights–you can pay each other’s bills, talk to the IRS on behalf of your spice, or whatever day-to-day rights would suit your relationships. This can be set up to go into effect as soon as it is signed and/or filed.
  • Durable medical power of attorney–set to go into effect if you are unable to make decisions for your own medical care. This allows your spice to take over your medical decisions when (and only when) you are incapacitated.

Not all polyam folks will need both kinds of power of attorney. If you only want to have a highly entwined relationship with one person, and you are legally married o that person, no power of attorney needed.

If you are legally married to someone and want that person making decisions for you if you are medically incapacitated, no medical power of attorney needed. If either or both of these are not the case, having power of attorney set up will protect you and your polyam partners.

A power of attorney to give rights to polyam partners will be more likely to face challenges than normal. Sadly, being in a non-mainstream relationship style will do that. However, as long as you are of sound mind when you sign the form, any challenge should get tossed out.

You can protect your power of attorney by making an appointment with your doctor before signing the power of attorney. Ask them for a statement that you are of sound mind. Keep this statement with the original copy of the signed power of attorney.

Every state has slightly different laws regarding power of attorney. Rocketlawyer.com is set up to incorporate the requirements of each individual state. The site will give you specific instructions on what to do after you print out the form to make it legally binding. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney and need one, I really suggest you pop over and set one up. That way, if something does happen, your polyam partners will be involved in your care and treatment.

If you choose not to use RocketLawyer, there are other internet sites where you can get a generic medical power of attorney. Or you can talk with a lawyer, or (in some states) write the document yourself.

Seriously, this is about protecting you and your polyam partners. It is not nearly as complicated or expensive as many people assume.

Subscribe to the Polyamory on Purpose Newsletter

(Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Rocket Lawyer and receive no compensation for recommending them.)

From Now On, I’m Saying “Polyam”

Several people from Polynesian backgrounds have said that “Poly” has been a way Polynesians id themselves and our use of it has been problematic and erasing. For those unfamiliar, Lily Stone gives a powerful explanation of ,a href=”http://www.guerrillafeminism.org/poly-means-polynesian-not-polyamorous-lily-stone/”>why the use of “poly” for polyamory has been actively harmful to Polynesians. In response, the polyam community has had recurring discussions about whether we should keep using “poly.”

My initial response focused on the specific harms Lily Stone writes about. My blog post titles, tagging, and etc, used the full word “polyamory” or “polyamorous” to avoid causing problems for Polynesians searching online for other Poly people. But it occurred to me that using “poly” as a shorthand within blog posts and books normalizes the use of “poly” for polyamory.

It does me no harm to type a few extra letters. The lack of those letters is doing harm to others. Put that way, it’s an easy decision to make. So from now on, I’ll be using “polyam.” I invite you to do the same.

(P.S. Do not comment to debate whether it is ‘right’ or ‘okay’ for Polynesians to be upset or ask this of us. Do not start the shtick about how Polynesian was originally a word used by colonizers. I’ve seen it all. All your well-thought, logical arguments why using “poly” for polyamory should be okay don’t mean shit to me when beside the fact that this practice is hurting people. So don’t waste my time or spoons.)

This post is part of the Etiquette in Polyamory series.

Minority Representation in Polyamory Fics and Pics

School has severely sapped my spoons. So we’re going to take another break from talking about mental illness. A year and a half ago I did a short series on representation of polyamorous/non-monogamous LG&T folks in fiction and art. I’m going to pick that series up again looking at other under-represented groups.

My goal is to share positive representations that are not fetishizing or stereotyping. Unfortunately I don’t have the money or time to personally read/watch/review everything I find. So often items on these lists will be included based on the media’s description or reviews. If you find anything on these lists that shouldn’t belong here, please let me know. If you know media I haven’t included, please leave a comment for other readers. Thanks!

Posts so far:

Lesbian Polyamory Fics/Pics

Gay Polyamory Fics

Trans Polyamory Fics/Pics

Mental Illness and Dating for Polyamorous Folk Part 3

So far we’ve talked about how mental illness can interfere with dating, dating as a numbers game, and ways you can shift those numbers in your favor. Today we’re finally going to look at tips and tricks for keeping mental illness from fucking with you too much while you are meeting people/dating.

Pick Your Venue

Going out in public is a problem for many people with mental illness. Social anxiety for obvious reasons, but also depression, PTSD, schizophrenia and other mental illness can make it hard to get out. Going places comfortable and safe places will make meeting people, and especially meeting someone who would be interested in dating, a lot easier.

What this means will be very personal. For some people, it will mean the library and bookstores (join a local book club, attend author signings, etc). For others, it will be that one restaurant you’ve been going to for years and feel safe at. It might be a game store, a club or your friend’s house.

Alternatively, invite people to come to you. If going out is too spoony, start having get-togethers at your place. Volunteer to host a meetup, invite your friends over for game night, plan a summer bar-b-que. Whatever suits you. The important part: invite people to bring other people. For instance, if you invite friends and family to a bar-b-que, tell them to bring their friends and family. If you arrange a game night for your friends, invite their friends to join the game. Or you can call the local gaming store and tell them you’re doing a game night, will they add you to their list of local gaming groups?

Hosting a thing at your home can take a lot of spoons, so it isn’t for everyone. But it does give an alternative. If you can’t go to people, people can come to you.

And of course, we can’t forget the miracle which is the internet. If you are comfortable with long distance dating, dating online becomes pretty easy. Same rules as in-person dating: avoid the “usual” dating sites, find communities you feel comfortable in, get to know people, ask someone out.

Looking to date someone local restricts your options. But you can still find (for instance) a gamers’ Facebook group in your city, a coders’ subreddit in your state or an environmentalist forum in your county.

Get Your Support in Place

Mental illness is hard to deal with alone. This is true whether you are wading through flashbacks or trying to meet people. We tend to approach dating as something we need to do alone. But there are alternatives.

When you are going places where you hope to meet people, a friend can come with you both as emotional support and to help if your illness flares up suddenly. They can:

1) help you ease into the group
2) find a quiet spot if you need some time away from everyone but aren’t ready to leave
3) watch for signs that you are getting overwhelmed so you can slip out before you reach a breaking point

Double dates are a thing! Sure, it isn’t the “norm” for a first date to be a double date. But why be trapped by the “norm?” When you connect with a person who wants to date you, you can ask how they’d feel about a double date. (They are more likely to agree if they’ve met know the friend(s) who’d be part of the double date—another good reason to have a friend with you when you go out to meet people.)

Don’t be afraid to use speed dial. Telephones are beautiful things. When I’m having a panic attack, 90% of the time the first thing I do is call my mother is Israel. If you alone at any point in your journey have a friend or family member on speed dial. Just knowing you can excuse yourself for five minutes and call for support can be a big help.

Remember to be upfront about being polyamorous and to tell your date what they need to know about your mental illness.

Most important: try to relax and have fun.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Mental Illness blog series.

Help Support Polyamory on Purpose.

Mental Illness and Dating for Polyamorous Folk, Part II

Last week we talked about the first rule of dating: dating is a numbers game.

The problems for people with mental illness (and many other people as well) are:

1) Mental illness can lower the number of people who are attracted to you

2) Mental illness can make it hard to meet people, making it harder to find people who are attracted to you (and who you are attracted to).

Stereotypical dating involves going out to where a lot of people looking for a date gather—bars, clubs, single’s MeetUp groups, dating sites, etc—and trying to make yourself attractive to people so they will go on a date with you.

For people with mental illness (and many other people) the problem is this makes the numbers work against you. A random group of people looking for a date means:

1) You will have little in common with most of them, meaning your chances of being attractive to them are low

2) The social situation will be designed around a “typical” person looking for a date: young, single, mainstream, etc. Chances are there will be nothing you can do to reduce the impact of your mental illness on your ability to attend/take part in these activities/events.

So what can you do?

Play by the Numbers

In order to date effectively, you need to do two things:

1) Increase the number of people you meet you might be attracted to you.

2) Find places and ways to meet people that work around or with your mental illness, rather than conflict with it.

Moving from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 100

Let’s say, on average, 1 in 1000 people will find you attractive. You can either run around meeting hundreds or thousands of people hoping to find the one who wants to date you (and who you want to date! Don’t forget that part!) or you can change the numbers.

So let’s look at how you do that.

Increase Your Attractiveness

Yes, a person who loves you should love you for who you are. Newsflash: someone you just met doesn’t love you. Yet. They need time to get to know you. In the meantime, you need to show them why you are worth the time and energy they spend getting to know you.

This means doing your best to take care of your appearance, developing hobbies and passions so you have something interesting to talk about, learning more about the ways people interact and your culture’s social customs.

Taking Care of Your Appearance

I want to focus on this one for a minute because it’s the most likely to get people up in arms against me and/or down on themselves.

Now, this is hugely important: taking care of your appearance does NOT mean trying to be conventionally attractive. It doesn’t mean trying to stay “in style” or spending hundreds of dollars on makeup to cover up your “deficiencies.”

My partner Michael describes my fashion sense as “granny style.” I have rosacea that makes me look like a red raccoon (especially in the summer). I wear hats everywhere, all the time. And some of my hats are…unusual. When’s the last time, outside of a historical docu-drama, you saw someone walking around in a snood?

But twice this month random people have complimented me on how I look. And not in a creepy way. In an “oh I love that outfit,” kind of way. I’ve been working on my wardrobe for over three years, slowly finding clothes I like at thrift stores and clothing drives, putting things I love but can’t afford on birthday wish lists for the folks who want to spend money on me. I’ve finally reached a point that as long as I keep up with the laundry, I can wear an outfit that I like and look good in every day of the week.

Taking care of your appearance is about finding ways to express who you are and what you love about yourself. And yeah, that’s one of the things that mental illness can make hard. It’s hard to love yourself when you are struggling with mental illness, and it’s hard to find the spoons to care about your appearance when you can barely drag yourself out of bed. At the same time, and speaking from experience, being able to look in the mirror and like what you see can be a big help in fighting mental illness. So if you have the spoons, showering, caring for your hair, slapping some moisturizer on your face, and putting on clothes that make you look and feel awesome can be a major win.

And if you can’t?

That’s okay! Yeah, these days I can generally reach into the draw and find clothes that look good on me. Before I built my wardrobe I lived in 10-year-old t-shirts, “nice” shirts with holes in them, and whatever pants I could find that fit. You do what you have too. There are still days I go out without brushing my hair. (Pro-tip: the right hat can hide a LOT of bed head.) This isn’t about putting more pressure on yourself or shaming you. This is about giving you ideas on things you can do to change your numbers in the dating game. If taking care of your appearance isn’t an option right now, focus on other things.

Now, it is completely true that with this advice I’m going against a lot of other good advice. No, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Yes, we should take all people as they are. There are people doing good work to push for acceptance of others regardless of how they look or talk. But they are fighting an uphill battle against human nature. We form a general impression of people within seconds of meeting them. We have a solid impression within the first few sentences of a conversation. If you don’t make that impression a good one, either with your appearance, your conversation, or your general attitude and presentation, you will be fighting an uphill battle against an initial bad impression.

By working on growing and changing, you can increase the total number of people who will find you attractive.

Selective Filtering

Okay, that’s how you can change your numbers by making changes in yourself. Since I consider growth a good thing, I don’t have any problem changing myself, as long as the changes are ones I like. (And yes, I do like walking out the door thinking “Damn I look good today!” just as much as I like how much I’ve learned about social justice and intersectionality the last few years.) If you don’t want to change yourself this is another approach that can help.

Or you can combine two approaches and get even better numbers.

So, selective filtering.

When you are looking for people to date, try to filter out as many people as possible that you will not be attracted to and who will not be attracted to you. Go where people who will be attracted to are likely to gather.

For instance, if you, like me, are a geek and a nerd, but not a big sports fan, going to a tailgate party will not be a good way to meet people. Sure, if football is big in your town dozens of potential dates might turn up. But how much good does that do you when they are huge football fans wanting to talk football and you don’t know the end zone from the goal posts? (I actually do like sports, and can talk the talk, but not something I’ll spend hours of my life on. On the other hand, hitting the local gaming store and joining the gaming group may only introduce you to a half-dozen people, but they will be people you have something in common with. And people you have something in common with are more likely to find you attractive.

You, as a person, have an automatic membership in a bunch of communities. If you are reading this blog you are probably polyamorous, so you can claim membership in the poly community. Fandom communities are (theoretically) always open to fans. The crafting community is always open to crafters. People who are mentally ill have our own community, mostly made up of people who are mentally ill and a few people who have someone they love who are mentally ill and are trying to learn and be supportive.

If you haven’t claimed membership in your communities, doing so is a great way to meet people who are more likely to be attracted to you. If you can find community overlaps (for instance many poly people are geeks, and many geeks are neuroatypical) even better!

This works online too. Michael and C met because there were both part of the Twitch gaming community.

The important thing about joining these communities is you can’t jump in and immediately start looking for a date. While they are better places to find a date than typical dating scenes, not everyone in them will be looking for a date. You need to take the time to get to know people, find out who is interested in new relationships, who do you enjoy talking with, maybe do a little flirting, and asking only the people who are A) open to having a new relationship, B) you are attracted to, C) you think might be attracted to you. If they say no, DON’T make a big deal out of it. Go back to enjoying the community, participating in discussions and activities, etc. Sooner or later you will find someone else to ask.

Okay, this has turned into a longer post than I planned on, so we’ll stop here. Next week will finally look at ways mental illness directly interferes with dating and what you can do about it. For now, remember: dating is a numbers game, and you can shift the numbers in your favor.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Mental Illness blog series.

Help Support Polyamory on Purpose.

Audio Post: What Does Respect Mean in Polyamory?

Polyamory on Purpose Patreon Campaign


Transcript (subheadings added to make reading at least a little easier)


Hey folks, this is Jessica and we’re trying something new this week.

I’ve been thinking for a while about adding a podcast or vlog as a community goal on the PolyonPurpose Patreon campaign. And since this week I’m having a bit of trouble putting my words on paper, I thought I’d give a try doing an audio blog and seeing what people think and how well it works.

Please bear with me on the sound quality. If I do add a vlog or podcast to the Patreon campaign as a community goal, I’m obviously going to need to invest in some new sound equipment.

So, this week we’re going to be talking about respect and specifically how we define respect. I’d been planning on going into kitchen table polyamory this week and how the etiquette around that can work. But I realized there is something I’ve been putting off. When I started this series on polyamory and etiquette, I said that as two of the core values of polyamory.

Defining Respect

Now, something I didn’t think about at the time is the many different ways respect can be defined. And that came up a couple weeks ago in my post on “disrespecting the primary.” Which is an idea that floats around the poly community, that for a metamour were to do something– or a secondary partner were to do something with their part– with the mutual partner it’d be disrespecting the primary partner. And what I mentioned in that post is the saying—and I really need to track down who said it first—is the saying that respect can mean “respect me as a person” or respect can mean “respect my authority.” And so when people say “I will respect you if you will respect me,” what they often are meaning is “I will respect you as a person if you will respect me as an authority”. And it seems to me that 9 times out of 10, if not more often, when poly folks talk about “disrespecting the primary” this is the kind of thing they are talking about, that the primary is being disrespected as an authority.

So this got me thinking about there’s, you know, obviously different ways of looking at respect, different ways of defining it. So when we are talking about respect as one of the bases of etiquette in poly relationships, what are we talking about? What does respect me to us in polyamory, when we are talking about respect not just our partners, but our partner’s partners, and our partner’s and all the other people in our lives because of our connection with our poly partners.

Now if you practice parallel polyamory you only really need to worry about respect in terms of you and your poly partners*. And that in and of itself is a big thing. If you have a communal approach, if you practice kitchen table poly or group poly or a bunch of other possible setups, respect also comes into not just you with your partners but you with a bunch of other people who you interact with because of your partners.

So that’s kind of where we are starting from today.

Now, you look at traditional definitions of respect, they are all talking about giving deference to someone, or esteeming someone, basically tying in with idea that respect is about respecting someone’s authority, respecting someone’s knowledge, respecting someone as a person to be looked up to in some manner or form.

But words evolve, and ideas evolve. And at least within Western culture, especially American culture, respect became something that you were expected to give to people as a default. And when that happened it kind of lost its meaning of deference. Because you aren’t expected to give someone deference as a default. What you are expected to do as a default is treat people with common decency and acknowledgment of their rights and existence. And that’s where “respect me as a person” comes in. Respect my humanity, respect that, you know I am a person. And being a person means there are certain things I get automatically.

Respect My Humanity

What do I get automatically as a person? I get the right to self-determination. I get the right to decide what I will do with my life, what-what actions I will take and what choices I make. I can give this right up. People can take this right away from me, as happens in dictatorships, in abusive relationships, in all kinds of situations. But at base, this is my right as a person.

Along with self-determination comes the right to set boundaries and the right to agency, to act within my environment. There’s other rights that come with being a person, the human rights people talk about. Now, there’s an argument that humans have a right to clean water. That really doesn’t come into play in interpersonal relationships, that’s a geopolitical issue. [Realizing as I transcribe—this CAN be an interpersonal issue is a specific individual is deliberately taking or fouling your water.] In interpersonal relationships, you know I have the right not to be harmed. I have the right to defend myself again harm. I have the right to interact with you or not interact with you as I choose, you do not have the right to force yourself on me. That would be a violation of my self-determination.

And this is what we are talking about when we talk about respect and polyamory. We are talking about all of us, in our relationships, in our lives, have these rights to self-determination, to set boundaries, to excerpt agency, to decide what we will and won’t do and who we will and won’t do it with.

As pat of my self-determination, I can determine I want to be in the closet about polyamory. I don’t want people to know I’m practicing this love style. If I make that decision, and you out me, you are disrespecting my right to self-determination, you are disrespecting me as a person who gets to decide who I will live my life.

And this applies in a lot of other ways. But—I think it’s an important distinction to make, that it’s really not—respect has so many definitions, and this is the one we are talking about in polyamory. We are not talking about respecting your boss, respecting your teaching, respecting authority. We are not talking about respecting in any way of being looking up to someone. We are talking about what has come, in American society at least, to be the bare default of “you are another person, and as another person I respect you and I respect your right to live your life as you choose.”

Respect and Common Decency

Now another thing that can go into this, and it’s debatable but my personal opinion, I believe respecting a person also comes with treating them with common decency. Y’know if I’m gonna cut you off in line at the supermarket, I’m disrespecting you, in my opinion. This is debatable. It doesn’t fall within self-determination, it doesn’t fall within boundaries and agency so much. But it is breaking the social contract. And if I break the social contract to your detriment, that to me is disrespect because I am denying you something that society agrees is your right. Even if it’s just the right to be ahead of me in line at the local Kroger.

If I’m calling you names, if I’m insulting you, if I’m in any way treating you in ways that don’t line up with our social contract of “this is the way people treat each other in society” that’s disrespect. Now of course society various. How people treat each other as schoolmates in a classroom is different from how people treat each other as fans at a football field, is different from how people treat each other bumping into each other at the store, is different from how people treat each other online. And that isn’t even getting into issues of culture and subcultures and what is part of the social contract of the way we interact for Jews at a synagogue is different from mainstream white people in Time Square is different from African American’s down south, is—it all interacts in different ways.

Accidental Disrespect

So accidental disrespect can happen. If…ya know, I’m pretty open about being Jewish and keeping kosher. It’s, to me, disrespectful to me to show up at my house, knowing hat I’m Jewish and keeping kosher, with pork that you’re planning on cooking for dinner. But there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what keeping kosher is. If you don’t realize that I keep a kosher home, that if you bring pork into my home I’m gonna spend an hour scrubbing my kitchen down because that’s what my religion asks of me, if you don’t know this and you bring pork over, that’s arguably disrespectful to me but you didn’t know it. It’s an accidental disrespect. it’s violating my rights in several ways because you are violating my right to set boundaries on my home and decide how I will live in my home. But you don’t know this. It’s an accident, accidents happen.

So respect isn’t something that can be carved in stone “THIS is being respectful, THIS isn’t.” Respect is an individual thing and it changes with everyone. What is respectful to me will be disrespectful to my partner will be disrespectful to the person down the street, might be respectful to you. Might be something that you’re “Eh, that’s not about respect of disrespect, that’s just, you know, a quirk.”

Where Does That Leave Us?

And that’s all something that goes into how we handle etiquette within the poly community and within poly relationships. Taking the time to learn about what is respectful and disrespectful to other people. In order to be respectful, in order to give people respect as the basis for our approach to etiquette, we need to know what they view as respectful and disrespectful. That goes back to honesty, goes back to community, goes back to just knowing each other as the basis for a relationship.

So that’s where I’m coming from when I say that respect is one of the foundations of etiquette in polyamory.

Um, ya know, comments are open below, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you see as being the foundations of etiquette in polyamory? What do you think respect means? How does respect for your in your relationships? I’d love to hear from you and if you’re interested in getting more audio posts like this, in my getting a vlog or podcast going, please check out the patreon page, link is down below.

Take care all.

*This was a silly thing for me to say. It is totally possible to be disrespectful to people you never meet or interact directly with.