Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Polyamory Fics with Black Characters

Polyamory Fics with Hispanic Characters

Polyamory Fics with Asian Characters

The Impact of Executive Dysfunction on Relationships

(The last part of Schizophrenia and PTSD is giving me trouble, so you’re getting next Sunday’s post a week early. Enjoy.)

Executive dysfunction is associated with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, ADD, schizophrenia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. It is probably found in numerous other contexts as well, but that’s a long enough list to be going on with.

But before we get into executive dysfunction, we need to talk about executive function.

Definitions for executive function sound either vague or jargony. WebMD says “Executive function is a set of mental skills that help you get things done.” Well, that doesn’t tell us very much. Wikipedia goes for full on jargon “Executive functions (also known as cognitive control and supervisory attentional system) are a set of cognitive processes — including attentional control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, as well as reasoning, problem solving, and planning — that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals.”

Breaking down the jargon, executive functions are “a set of cognitive processes” aka “things the brain does.” These processes “are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals” aka “being able to decide what to do and follow through on that decision so you can meet your goals.” And we are right back at WebMD’s definition: shit the brain does so we can get things done. Okay… it sounds vague, but being able to get shit done is pretty important. Still without knowing what these “processes” or “mental skills” are, these definitions don’t help much. So let’s take a look at the rest of the jargon.

What Are the Executive Functions?

Attentional control

Aka, being able to control your attention span. This includes both being able to pay attention to things when you need to and being able to break your attention away from things when appropriate.

Inhibitory control

You ever drop a 5 pound can of beans on your toes and bite your lip to keep from yelling “Oh my fucking god that hurts!” in the middle of the grocery store? That’s inhibitory control. Inhibitory control stops us from doing the things that we know we shouldn’t do.

Working memory

just what it says. Being able to remember things.

Cognitive flexibility

Aka being able to mentally cope with and adapt to change. One test for cognitive flexibility in children is giving them a stack of cards and telling them to sort by color. Half way through the stack tell them to switch to sorting by number. Cognitive flexibility lets us deal with changing plans, realign our actions to meet new goals, or just shift from casual shoot-the-shit mode to more formal interactions when your boss walks into the break room.

Reasoning

What is says, the ability to think, reason and understand shit. It is kind of scary to go from being able to think through and debate Focault to not being able to string two thoughts together well enough to figure out that 2+2=4, but that’s what many people with executive dysfunction live with. At least, those of us who are well to have times when are executive functions work and times when they don’t.

Problem solving.

Again, what it says. Being able to look at a problem and figure out how to solving it.

Planning

Yup, what it says. Being able to plan the steps to do something, reach a goal, or put together a damn schedule.

 

Read over that list and think about how hard daily life would be if you couldn’t do those things.

Several times Michael has needed to know how to do something and I’ve researched it for him. He couldn’t figure out how to get on google, search for what he wanted, and apply what he found to the problem. The more out of his comfort zone the “something” is, the more likely he is to need help. This is executive DYSfunction. When the executive functions, don’t.

I’ve dealt with my share of executive dysfunction as well. In my case it’s worst with decision making. On a bad day ask me what I want for dinner, and I’ll freak out. I can’t hold all the options in my head so I can compare them and decide “Pizza sounds good.” This became a major problem during my last child birth. I hit a point where I couldn’t think clearly enough to make decisions. I told the nurses “I can’t make decisions right now, any decisions that need to be made, go through Michael. He knows what is best for me.”

Well, when the baby was crowning they ignored me (which was somewhat understandable as I was completely out of my head—but damn they had better options than manhandling me), ignored Michael, and ignored my birth plan. And I couldn’t process what was going on well enough to realize that they were trying to help me, never mind communicate why they were making things worse. I’m still dealing with the trauma from that.

Executive Dysfunction and Polyamory

Executive dysfunction impacts relationships in a lot of ways. For instance, on a night when I can’t make decisions—I can’t decide to have sex. (Pro-tip: if someone is not capable of deciding to have sex, you don’t have sex.) Or maybe I’m horny and both my partners are there, and I can’t decide who I want sex with. (Pro-tip: if someone is not capable of deciding who they want sex with, you don’t have sex.) If I was thinking clearly, maybe we would have sex. But I wasn’t, so we didn’t.

Michael and C have been talking about him taking a trip down to see her in September for nearly 6 months. I (foolishly, because I know Michael better than this) assumed they’d handle the planning and tell me what they decided. C doesn’t know Michael well enough to help him through the planning process. He hasn’t traveled by plane, never mind traveled alone, since he got sick. This is very far out of his comfort zone. C kept asking him open ended questions without any information, like “how long to you want to visit?” She was approaching it from “once I know how long he wants to visit, I’ll be able to set up accomodations for him and find flights and such.” But he couldn’t process his options well enough to pick how long he wanted to stay. So nothing got planned. I ended up in a three way phone call with both of them helping Michael with his end of the planning and (hopefully) showing C what kind of help he needs for next time. Most importantly: break things down into small, easy steps and yes/no question.

Communication

Executive dysfunction can make it difficult to put words to your thoughts and feelings, can make it hard to follow a conversation, and if multiple conversations are happening at once (like at a restaurant, con, or munch), it can be very difficult to follow the conversation you are trying to take part in.

Meeting people’s needs

Difficulty with problem solving can make it hard to figure out how to meet people’s needs. Often needs don’t mesh perfectly or are in conflict. You need alone time to regain your mental balance but your partner needs attention and reassurance that they are loved. Or one partner needs help making dinner while another partner needs someone to listen to their concerns. Or even just addressing concerns. “I don’t feel like you care about me,” can be hard to address when your brain won’t process “ways to show I care.”

Dealing with conflicts

Multiple relationships often require navigating conflicts. Difficulty focusing, problem solving, and other aspects of executive dysfunction can all cause problems here.

Issues of consent and consideration

You ever meet someone who doesn’t seem to have a mental filter on their mouth? Whatever they think they say, and often end up putting their foot in their mouth as a result. Well, some people with executive dysfuction have a broken mental filter on their actions. They curse when it is inappropriate, they scratch themselves in public. And yes, they may touch you when you haven’t given permission. This is something Michael and I struggled with a lot, and sometimes still do struggle with. My PTSD means there are times when I can’t deal with being touched, much less having my boobs grabbed. And there are times when he will come up from behind, reach around, grab my boobs, and when I freak out he ends up curled in a ball, trembling, “i’mm sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He knows he shouldn’t have grabbed. He knows I have reason to be angry, but somewhere in his brain between “idea” and “action” the red flag that was supposed to say “No, don’t do that.” didn’t pop up.

Personal opinion, but I believe problems with inhibitory control are closely related to difficulty with cognitive flexibility. Michael doesn’t go around grabbing random women’s boobs. He knows that grabbing a random woman’s boobs is never appropriate. But we have been in a relationship for 7 years. He has often been allowed to grab, play with, tease, bite, and otherwise touch my boobs. This means when his brain needs to take a couple extra steps. Instead of “Want to touch,” “DON’T” his brain needs to think “Want to touch.” “touching might be okay.” “Assess situation” “public? Private? Sexy times? Not sexy times? Has she said she is having a bad day?” etc, etc. And somewhere in that process, his executive dysfunction kicks in and before his brain can work through all the steps to “It’s not clear if it’s okay to touch or not, I need to ask,” his hands are on me.

Possible solution: set the rule that he needs to ask before every time he touches me. That avoids the issue of needing to process different situations. Problem with this solution: If we are having sex, I don’t want to need to give approval to every single touch. I want to be able to say “yes, please play with my breasts,” and relax and enjoy myself. So I live with the random grabbiness at other times.
Maybe you’d make a different decision.

Okay, I’m already past 1500 words, and I’ve barely touched on all the ways executive dysfunction can impact a relationship. But at least this gives you a start on understanding what executive dysfunction is and how it can cause problems. Every situation with executive dysfunction is different, and executive dysfunction varies in how bad it is.

The one useful tip I can give you: come up with a “safe word” for when executive dysfunction is a problem. I tend to say “my brain is broken” and “that breaks my brain” for “my executive dysfunction is bad right now and I can’t to what you are asking me” and “this specific thing is usually a problem because of executive dysfunction, even on a good day I might not be able to do it,” respectively. This way, people who care about me know that either this thing needs to be dealt with later or I will need help with whatever they are asking of me.

 

Disclaimer

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

Help Support Polyamory on Purpose.

Comment Policy

I realized recently that I never created a comment moderation policy for this website. Until recently, haven’t needed one. Comments have been relatively rare, and the vast majority of commenters have been civil even when they disagreed with me or with polyamory in general.

However as both this blog and knowledge of polyamory grow, I’ve seen an increasing number of comments, not all of them civil. I’m putting my moderation policy in writing so everyone is clear on what to expect.

My comment moderation policy is partly determined by the purpose of this blog. This blog is written for people who are already polyamorous or want to explore polyamory and are looking for practical insights on making poly life work. It is not written for people looking to learn about what polyamory or for people who wish to debate/discuss the validity off different relationship styles.

I want this blog to be an open space for exchange of ideas. But there are limits. So, from now, I will moderate comments based on the following:

  1. Commenting is a privilege. This blog is my space and you are allowed access to comment at my discretion. If you have a problem with this, feel free to start your own blog with your own comment policy.
  2. Your first comment must go through moderation before being approved. After this comment is approved, new comments will be auto-approved unless you give me reason to revoke your commenting privileges.
  3. Personal attacks of any sort will be deleted and you will be blocked from commenting further.
  4. General attacks on polyamory or claims that polyamory can’t work/is unnatural/etc, including equating polyamory with cheating, will be deleted and you will be blocked from commenting further.
  5. This blog will address a variety of different life choices people can make, from having kids to being in the closet to religion. Different life choices suit different people. Some life choices I discuss may be ones you vehemently disagree with. That is your right. Do not criticize life choices you disagree with. This is not a debate forum and other people’s choices are none of your business.
  6. I have a life and do not sit around all day waiting for comments to moderate. If my mental illness is acting up it may take me several days to approve your comment and/or respond to it. Your patience is appreciated.

We now returning to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Looking Back at Poly Living 2016

Now that I’ve had a few days to recover from the post-con crash, I want to share some thoughts on Loving More‘s Poly Living conference that I was lucky enough to attend and present at this past weekend.

The conference was well attended, with a lot of people who were new to poly events and getting involved in the wider community for the first time. There were also a number of Poly Living “old hands.” Several folks I spoke with said they had been at every Loving More conference for over a decade.

And I completely understand why. Robyn and Jesus put together an amazing event that was welcoming and accepting without ever feeling intrusive. When my anxiety starting acting up I could slip away for a while. I got several offers of hugs when I needed them and easily a dozen people stopped to coo over the baby.

This was my first time meeting Reid Mikhalo, who gave the keynote speech. He reminds me of what Michael could be in 20 years. Self proclaimed jerkass and sex geek with a great sense of humor and a flair for entertainment that educates. His keynote was an engaging retrospective on the history of polyamory, how far we’ve come, and where we are might be going from here. Next time I see Reid, I’m going to make sure I have a camera–he’s also a self-proclaimed selfie slut and I want a pic with him ;).

I didn’t make as many of the presentations as I wanted, but in hindsight, I wasn’t as recovered from giving birth as I’d hoped. I did as much as I could manage, and that’s okay. The two presentations I really wanted to get to and couldn’t were scheduled for the same time as my workshop and presentation. So, yeah…

The presentation and workshop I did get to were great. A number of the presentations were recorded and will be available for sale on the Loving More website and/or the presenter’s websites. I highly suggest you check some of them out. I’m grabbing a copy of Kevin Patterson‘s workshop on diversity in polyamory, and if it’s available Tamara Pincus‘ presentation on abuse in polyamory.

Coping with Mental Illness and Legal Challenges to Poly Relationships, the workshop and presentation I ran, went well. Coping with Mental Illness wasn’t right for everyone, but several attendees told me it was exactly what they needed–just what every presenter likes to here. Legal Challenges also went well, with a number of attendees able to share their own experience with areas of the law I haven’t run into. The result was a comprehensive review of the legal shit that can mess with our relationships.

Michael had a minor medical emergency shortly before Legal Challenges, so contrary to our plans I had to have the baby with me while presenting. Everyone who attended was very understanding, and luckily she fell asleep shortly after I started.

The Legal Challenges to Poly Relationships presentation was recorded. I hope to have it available here in a couple of weeks.

I’m not much of a night owl, so I skipped most of the evening activities. Michael, however, had a great time at the Friday Masquerade dance, the games room Saturday evening, and a few other things. He definitely over did it, which probably contributed to his collapse Sunday morning, but he says it was well worth it.

If there was one thing the con could have done better, it would be support for families. I say this not just because I had my kids with me, but because a number of people told me during the con that they wished they could have brought their kids, that their wife/partner/friend wanted to come but had to stay home to watch the kids, etc. Poly Living is already kid-safe, in the sense that everything 18+ is behind closed doors and most of it is in the evenings. I hope next year Poly Living is able to have some kid-friendly activities and events, to make it easier for poly folk with families to attend. (And I’ve already sent Robyn an email volunteering to help make this happen.)

We had to leave earlier than we wanted–missing both the PLN meeting and the extra workshops after the official end of the conference. Michael wasn’t able to take any more, the kid was hungry, tired and bored, and I was just “stick a fork in me, I’m done.”

For anyone I didn’t get a chance to say “bye” too (most everyone), thank you so much for being there and helping make an amazing weekend.

We’ll be seeing you next year.

No New Posts This Week

Sorry folks, between life craziness and prepping for Poly Living next weekend, I got nothing. I’ll make it up with extra posts after the con.

Take care!

Is It Time for Poly Marriage?

I’m going to make an exception to my usual rules and talk politics for a bit.

Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent from the ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide, laid out why, in his opinion, once gay marriage is legal there is no reason not to make poly marriage legal. He even specifically mentioned polyamory several times in his dissent.

A lot of news outlets and poly folk have picked up on this and are asking the same question

Is It Time for Poly Marriage?

Several things have changed since the last time I attempted to answer this question, but overall my answer hasn’t changed.

Poly folk aren’t ready for a battle about marriage. The mainstream LGBT community has an internal structure, access to legal resources, coordination, and public support that the poly community can only dream of. So, this isn’t the right time to start this battle.

We would do far better to throw our resources and support behind the LGBT community’s push for non-discrimination, and in the process both strengthen our alliances and give us the time and opportunity to build the structure, coordination, and public support that will be needed when we are ready to start fighting for the rights we deserve.

Tactical and strategic thinking sucks sometimes. It’s easy to look at the sudden talk about poly marriage in the media and think about how much you want to marry your spice and say “LGBT got it, it’s our turn now!”

Real life doesn’t work that way. Real life means taking the time to have our shit in order before charging into the breach.

Real life also means realizing that “poly marriage” the way the talking heads are using the term isn’t what we need anyway. Group marriage will not be an answer for the poly community. Our relationship structures are too varied for that. What we need, and honestly what a shit-ton of folks outside the poly community need, is a path to have all families legally recognized, no matter what their structure.

Course of Treatment: Getting a Diagnosis

Once you’ve made the decision to get help, the first step is usually setting up an appointment with a doctor or counselor. Some people will go to a family doctor or general practitioner first, others will go straight to a psychiatrist. Some set up counselling through their employer, school, or religious organization.

In the US, insurance will only pay for psychological treatment if you are diagnosed with a mental disorder listed in the latest edition of the DSM (currently the DSM-5).[1] So for many people, getting a diagnosis becomes the crucial first step to getting the help they need.

There are several good references available for finding a mental health professional, so I’m not going to go into that here. I will say that if you have a bad feeling about a mental health professional, get the hell out immediately. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but in the US mental health care is a seriously mixed bag ranging literal life savers, to people I wouldn’t trust to take care of a plant. I’ve heard finding a mental health professional compared to finding a babysitter–it can take several tries to find one who is actually worth the time and expense. I don’t recommend looking for a poly-friendly mental health professional unless you are in a large urban area. People advertising as poly-friendly just aren’t that common. You can often (thought not always) find someone open minded on the LGBT-friendly lists, or you can educate your own poly-friendly professional (I’ve usually had good results with this, including in rural PA and smack in the middle of the Bible Belt in Tennessee).

Getting Diagnosed

Most of the time getting diagnosed with a mental illness is scary simple. You meet with a therapist, doctor, etc, you describe your symptoms, and they say, “well it sounds like you have X”. There usually isn’t any testing. The famous Rorschach and other less famous evaluation tools rarely come into play. No blood tests, certainly no actual testing your biochemistry before declaring that you have a “brain chemical imbalance.” Just a review of your life history, discussion of your symptoms, and a diagnosis code you may end up carrying around for the rest of your life.

Simple, right?

What to Watch Out For

People unfamiliar with mental illness and mental health care often think that once you have a diagnosis the hard part is done. It’s understandable because this is actually the opposite of what you go through getting a medical diagnosis.

For five years my partner Michael suffered from pain, weakness, “false seizures” and a bunch of other stuff, to the point that twice he was told by doctors that if they couldn’t find out what was wrong and treat it, he’d be dead in a few years. Everything from rheumatoid arthritis to brain cancer to multiple sclerosis was tossed around. But no doctor would dream of diagnosing from reported symptoms alone. If they didn’t have a test to back it up, there would be no diagnosis and no treatment beyond basic painkillers. But as soon as he got a diagnosis, the doctors were able to pinpoint the most effective treatment, and he started improving. Because it took so long to figure out what was wrong, some of the damage is permanent, but once they found out what was wrong, the hard part was over.

This is what we expect from medicine. People who have actually dealt with long term chronic illnesses know it rarely works this way–getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is not the end of the struggle. But even with hard-to-diagnosis illness like multiple sclerosis, it’s understood that doctors ain’t doing shit until they have a verified diagnosis.

Mental health…doesn’t work like that.

So if you or your poly partners are just started to get treatment for mental health, you need to understand that getting diagnosed is at best a tiny step towards getting better. Sometimes, with an excellent shrink and a fair bit of luck, you can get the right diagnosis, find the right treatment, and start seeing real improvement in a few weeks.However, that is not the way to bet.

It is also important to be proactive in learning about and understanding the diagnosis. If what you learn about your diagnosis doesn’t fit your experience, talk to your mental health care provider. Yes, they are professionals who (should) know more about mental illness than you, but you are the expert on your experience. If they aren’t willing to listen to you, dismiss you out of hand, or in any way pull a “me expert-you stupid” schtick, get up and walk out. That is a huge red flag and sign of a horrible mental health care provider.

A good mental health care provider will either discuss changing the diagnosis, respectfully explain to you why they feel your experience fits the diagnosis or both.

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



1. This is one of the major reasons “gender dysphoria” continues to appear in the DSM. In spite of the stigmatizing effect of classifying the experience of trans folk as a mental disorder, it vastly increases the treatment accessibility. Insurance companies can still refuse to pay for hormone treatment or surgery, but they can’t deny counselling and assistance in social transitioning, as long as there is an official DSM diagnosis.

Support the Poly on Purpose Patreon Campaign

The video pretty much says it, transcript below. I don’t expect Polyamory on Purpose to become a full-time job or anything like that, but I’d really like to make it a frequently updated and well-developed resource for the poly community, both the website and the books. And right now I literally can’t afford the time I have been putting in. If I’m going to expand the site and keep the books coming I need your help.

Many, many thanks to Alan M. and PepperMint, my first Patrons. Thanks to their support PoP will be posting 5 times a month from now on, instead of every other week.

Become a Patron today

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Video Transcript:
Hi, I’m Jessica, the creator of Polyamory on Purpose. I started this blog that became PolyonPurpose because I saw a need for information about polyamory that wasn’t focused on relationship advice. I’ve been writing the polyamory on Purpose blog for several years now, if somewhat inconsistently, and gotten a great deal of support from the community. I’ve covered everything from pregnancy to STIs to buying dishes, and the more I write the more I have to say.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to make Polyamory on Purpose a priority. I’m self-employed as a freelance writer and spoony. With a chronically ill long-term partner and a three year old, time and energy are at a premium. Right now, the time I spend on Polyamory on Purpose is time I am taking away from paying work. Which is (part of) why the blog has posted so inconsistently over the years.

There is a lot I would like to do with Polyamory on Purpose. I’d like to post two or three times a week, like I did when I started the blog. I’d like to gather a resource library for polyfolk covering everything from custody to calendars to relationship agreements. I’d like to add a forum to the site where people can discuss their strategies and choices for poly living. I want to finally start working my way through the dozen topics I have for future PolyonPurpose guides. And I can’t do any of this as long as Poly on Purpose is something I steal time for from my ‘real’ work.

I’m starting this Patreon campaign to change that. Every fifteen dollar’s pledged a month pays for the time it takes to write one blog post, and lets me put more time into growing this site. With enough pledges, instead of stealing an hour or two every other week to write a blog post, and scribbling additions to the next PolyonPurpose book whenever I can squeeze in a few sentences, I can dedicate several hours a week to writing blog posts, working on the next book, and adding new resources and capabilities to the site.

There is a lot more to polyamory than how we structure our relationships, communicate, and handle our jealousy, and I think it’s time we had a place to go to talk about and work on that more. With your help and support, Polyamory on Purpose can be that place.

I’m asking for your help and support. Even if you can only pledge one dollar a month it makes a difference for my family and brings me a little closer to growing Polyamory on Purpose.

All patrons will be included in a new Supporter’s page on Polyamory on Purpose, with a link back to the website of your choice.

Patron’s who pledge five dollars or more per month will get a thumbnail image and one sentence bio on their supporter listing, and a copy of the Poly and Pregnancy Guide.

Patrons who pledge ten dollars or more per month will get a half-banner image and a small paragraph description on the supporters page, free copies of polyamory and pregnancy, The poly home, and all future guides as I publish them.

As I start building the resource library, resources suggested by patrons with get priority for inclusion in the library, and new resources will be shared with patrons two weeks before they go up publicly on the site.

Finally, I will be posting the draft version of The Poly Home on Patreon for Patrons to read, critique and comment on as I write it.

For community goals, I am currently posting once every two weeks. When your patronage reaches twenty dollars per month, I will post weekly, and for every additional fifteen dollars pledged, I will write one additional post per month, up to three posts weekly.

When we reach one hundred dollars per month I’ll start building the resource library.

If we can reach two hundred fifty dollars per month, I’ll get a forum up and running.

Thank you for taking the time to listen, thank you for the support I have received from so many of you over the past few years. If you have found Polyamory on Purpose to be a valuable resource please support if you can. And whether or not you can support, please share this Patreon campaign on social media.

Guest Posts Welcome

Hey folks, life got crazy so no new post this week. I’ll be back next week with your regularly scheduled blathering.

In the mean time, I’m throwing out an invitation for guest posts. If you have something you would like to share about your experiences in poly relationship, advice on managing the daily-life stuff, or basically anything that would fit this blogs usual topics, I’d love to hear from you.

Share Your Poly Stories

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door, is working on a book called “Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families.” This book will be an anthology of stories from and about poly-folk. She is seeking submissions for stories, pictures, poems and essays. Submissions deadline is October 15th. Submissions (and any questions) can be mailed to drelisheff@gmail.com (Yes, submissions can be anonymous)

Here are the details:

Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Edited by Elisabeth Sheff

Are you a member of a poly family and willing to share your story (anonymously) with the world? Consider writing a brief entry for the upcoming book Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families. Submissions can:

  • Range in length from a few sentences to 10 pages long, depending on the age of the submitters, the format they select, and how much they have to say.
  • Take the form of essays, short stories, poetry, drawings, and photographs, or whatever else you create that can be depicted in a two dimensional format.
  • Use pseudonyms or real names, be as anonymous or out as you wish.
  • Come from anyone who identifies as a member of a polyamorous family composed of all adults, adults and kids, or some other mix of folks who identify as family.

To submit a contribution to Stories from the Polycule, please email them to drelisheff@gmail.com by October 15, 2014.

Topics you might consider include (but are not limited to):

SMALL CHILDREN

  • Draw a picture of your family
  • What is the best thing about being in your family?
  • What is the worst thing about being in your family?
  • What do you think about your family? The adults in your life/your parents’ partners?
  • Any cute stories or quotes the adults in your life remember you saying about your family?

OLDER KIDS AND TEENAGERS (ALL OF THE ABOVE, PLUS:)

  • Do you tell your friends, kids at school, teachers, or other adults about being in a poly family? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about your parents’ partners?
  • Can you talk to your extended family members (like grandparents and aunts or uncles) about being in a poly family? If yes, how does it go? If no, why not?
  • Do you think you will have polyamorous relationships when you grow up? Why or why not?
  • If you have tried dating at this point, how did it go? Was it monogamous, poly, or something else?
  • Are you happy your family is poly, or do you wish they were monogamous (or something else)?
  • Some people think polyamory is bad for kids. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  • How did you find out that you lived in a poly family, and how did you feel when you first found out? How do you feel now? Why?

ADULTS

  • What relationship do you have with the children in your life?
  • How do you think polyamory has affected your family?
  • How did your family get together (ie. How did you get started in polyamory, what is your family like now, and how did it get that way)?
  • What are the best things about your poly family? The worst?
  • What is one of the best things that have happened to your family? The worst?
  • Some people think polyamory is bad for kids. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
  • Have you experienced any discrimination because of your status as a member of a polyamorous family? What happened, and how did you deal with it?
  • Why have you split up with partners in the past, and how did it go? Why do you have the partners you do now?
  • Do you have any advice on how to do polyamory “right” or pitfalls to avoid? Ways to do poly “wrong?”
  • Did you come out as poly to your kids? Family of origin? Friends? At work? Why or why not?
  • If you are not the biological parent of a child (something Sociologists call a social parent) in a poly family, but have a close relationship with that child – how does it go? What does the child call you? What do you do together? How are you treated in public? By other family members?

ELDERS (ALL OF THE QUESTIONS ABOVE PLUS:)

  • Do your adult children know you are poly? If yes, how do they react? If no, why not? How do you keep it hidden?
  • Please describe your poly family and how it came to be.
  • What are the benefits of being poly now? When you were younger?
  • What are the disadvantages of being poly now? When you were younger?
  • Looking back, what do know now about polyamorous family life that you wish you had known when you were younger?