Jess Mahler’s Fiction
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- Abuse, Boundaries, and Incompatibilities in Mono/Poly Relationships
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Tag Archives: books
I keep saying I’m going to start posting snippets from Safer Sex on my Patreon page. Time to finally get my shit together and do it. For the next several weeks I’ll be sharing sections from Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous 3 times a week. These will be Patron only posts and the snippets won’t be final drafts. So expect typos and such, but they’ve been through first round edits so the general content shouldn’t change much between now and publishing.
I am, as usually, running behind schedule. But if I can keep on my current pace I can be ready to send the manuscript out my sensitivity editor in June, for an early August publication. So I’m not yet at my goal of a book every 6 months, but I’m getting closer.
Re: the blog.
As predicted, custody shit has stirred up all my mental illnesses, so posting went to hell. Rather than scramble to catch up, I’ll be writing/editing posts as I can and holding them to build back the buffer I lost a couple month ago. Once I have a two week buffer again I’ll resume posting on the website.
And since I mentioned custody shit–let me just say that it is going far better (and fast) than I expected. Court in is two weeks, so fingers crossed!
The Polyamorous Home is now up for preorder as an ebook. I’m working on getting the paperback up. In the meantime, Dr. Elizabeth Sheff just shared her review with me. Check it out:
Review of The Polyamorous Home by Jess Mahler
With a great discussion of individual versus group needs and lots of helpful examples, Mahler’s new book The Polyamorous Home is a thoughtful and informative look at how polys can structure their living arrangements. From negotiating boundaries, sharing a kitchen or bathroom, working out finances, managing holidays, and dealing with changes like the onset of a disability, to personal/relational space, sleeping arrangements. legal hassles, solo poly homes, sharing housework, and exit plans, The Polyamorous Home is chock full of useful tips for new and long-time polyamorists.
Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door (2014), Stories from the Polycule (2015), and When Someone you Love is Polyamorous (2016).
When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous is a clearly laid out book that introduces the basic concepts of polyamory in simple, easy to understand language. Topics include advantages and challenges of polyamory, why are people polyamorous, and children in polyamory.
Dr. Sheff doesn’t sugarcoat the problems in polyamory, including the lack of diversity among people willing and able to be openly polyamorous. She does lay out clearly what polyamory is, why it works for some people, and why it isn’t cheating or religious-style polygyny. I especially appreciate Dr. Sheff’s taking the time to explain why many poly folk want to “come out” to friends and family, and how friends and family can be supportive.
There are two things I would have liked to see in this book. The first is an explicit acknowledgement of the variety in polyamory. Dr. Sheff does describe several different ways people structure polyamorous relationships. Still I would have liked to see something like “Every polyamorous relationship is different. What you see in TV or the media may not be anything like the relationships your loved ones form.”
The other I would have liked to see addressed is abuse. You’d think “non-abusive” would be covered under “ethical” “honest” and “consensual.” But I’ve known a number of people who believed a poly relationship had to be abusive or coercive. Best to grasp that bull by the horns. “People who don’t understand polyamory may fear their loved one is being abused. The vast majority of polyamorous relationships are non-abusive and abuse seems to occur in polyamory (about as often/slightly more often/slightly less often) than in monogamy. If you have specific concerns about the way your loved one is being treated in their relationships, don’t focus on polyamory. Instead talk with your lloved ones about the specific issues that concern you.”
Those two points aside, When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous is a well written and useful book. I recommend it for anyone considering coming out to their friends and family, or anyone who has come out but is having trouble getting their loved ones to understand and accept their relationships.
I had hoped to post a joint review here, as monogamous friend volunteered to read The Game Changer with me and share their thoughts and reactions. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so without further ado, here is my take on The Game Changer.
You that “watching a train wreck in slow motion” feeling? I lost count of how often I got that reading this book. As someone whose been (more or less) involved in poly for over a decade now, I’ve made most of the easy mistakes. Franklin would start a new section with something like “and we decided this, and had no idea how we were setting ourselves up for disaster.” And I would already be mentally tracing the lines of disaster, shaking my head and thinking “Yup, I remember being that (naive/foolish/culturally brainwashed/oblivious).”
This is why I wanted a monogamous (or at least inexperienced poly person’s) take on The Game Changer. it must be a completely different read for those of us who haven’t been around the block long enough to see those disasters coming a mile away.
I won’t go into the details of Franklin’s story here. I will say that the title is fitting. There is a Game Changer in the story, and after the change hits, the game is no longer recognizable as what it once was.
In spite of the almost complete lack of surprise in any of the major “plot twists,” I had trouble putting the book down. As usual, Franklin has an engaging writing style, a way of working humor, self awareness, and bulls-eye insight into his narrative that makes for an engrossing read.
It seems that we, as a culture, understand that if we leave kids to teach themselves math or history or literature, few people will end up being good at those things. So we have developed formal systems of education to teach people, to help them become productive members of society. But we don’t teach them communication, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, or many other skills we need to become fully formed human beings. We leave kids to figure that stuff out on their own. The results are about what we might expect if we left them, say, to deduce the laws of algebra by themselves. The difference is that most of us need interpersonal skills a lot more than we need algebra.
If Franklin’s writing suffers from any flaw, it is a tendency to take a US-centric view, which has occasionally been criticized in his advice on polyamory. However in a memoir, that kind of cultural focus is not just expected, it is required.
Perhaps the most important thing I took away from The Game Changer is a new perspective on the poly approach to honesty and communication:
Self awareness is a prerequisite for open and honest communication. We can’t tell others the truth of our feelings and needs if we refuse to face them and admit them to ourselves.
The Game Changer by Franklin Veaux will be available on September 23, 2015, from Thorntree Press.
Okay folks, wrapping up this short series with some trans polyamory stories and webcomics. I won’t be covering bisexual poly because I had to wade through a couple hundred bisexual poly books to find what’s on the lesbian and trans poly lists, so I don’t think any bisexuals are having trouble finding themselves represented in poly fic! Anyway, here’s the (sadly short) list of trans poly fics and pics:
Tales of MU by Alexandra Erin, this fun webserial is set at Magisterius University where high fantasy meets higher education. At least one trans woman character (I stopped reading several years ago, so it’s possible other trans characters have popped up since). Also got mention on the lesbian poly list, due to the heavy focus on f/f(/f/f/f/f) relationships. There are (or were) a couple of males scattered around as well.
Kimchi Cuddles by Tikva Wolf, “A webcomic spreading awareness about poly, queer, and genderqueer issues in the most hilarious way possible” I’ve never gotten into Kimchi Cuddles, in spite of its great rep in the poly community. Anyway, it includes a trans (or perhaps several trans) characters, lots of poly situations, and a bunch more too.
First by Jacob Louder, description includes queer and trans characters, and suggests lots of non-monogamous sex. Came up on “polyamory trans” search.
Roller Coasters by Kris Ripper, first chapter has some really sweet interactions between poly cis man and genderqueer person who don’t seem to know what to make of each other but have a lot of fun in and out of bed. Description suggests the book centers around these characters, and some dealings with poly guy’s boyfriends.
The Peacock Notebook by Kira Elliot, tagged polyamory and transgender. Description makes the poly very clear, no details on any trans characters.
If you know of any other fics or pics with trans poly characters/themes/plots, please share them in the comments. I tried to filter out books that fetishize trans characters. Suggestions in the comments which appear to fetishize trans will be removed. I usually don’t moderate comments that heavily, I’m making an exception in this case.
So, I rounded up a short list of gay polyamory fiction, but to be honest I didn’t have to try that hard. I’d say it took nearly three hours to gather the lesbian polyamory fic/pics list at the beginning of the month, this list took less than an hour. Not too surprising when the Goodreads Best Gay Polyamory Romance list has over 300 items. So all in all, if you can’t find anything you like on this list, just dig around a bit, I’m sure you’ll find something!
Evergreen by Racheline Maltese
Misfits by Garrett Leigh
The Forgotten Prince by Kelex, description notes two men from a “Triad” being sent to find the prince who is their destined mate. Destined mate stories usually hit coercion/rape notes so read with caution.
Above the Dungeon by SM Johnson, as the name implies, BDSM themed. M/m/m.
Beyond Complicated by Mercy Celeste, based on the description and several reviews, involves consensual adult incest.
The Scientific Method series by Chris Ripper Another BDSM themed, starts off F/m, moves to M/m, and ends up M/M/m by book 4.
Tales of the Thessali Harem series by Danielle Summers tagged gay fourway sex
Lone Wolf Chronicles by Alastair Anders gay shifter romance, tagged polyamory and orgies
This week I had the chance to read an advance reader copy of the second edition of The Husband Swap, by Louisa Leontiades. The Husband Swap is the story of Louisa’s journey into polyamory, and her first poly relationship, a quad between herself, her husband and another couple, Morten and Elena.
It was a difficult, and somewhat triggering, read for me. Louisa’s painful and love-filled journey through her first polyamorous relationship called up many memories of my own quad and our time together. Like my own family, Louisa’s quad does not survive itself, but is torn apart under the pressure of the incompatible personalities, including some who may simply have been unsuited to polyamory.
This is not a happy poly story. This is not a tale of how polyamory works, or how much more “advanced” polyamory is. Fans of HEA romance will likely be disappointed in both the ending and the brutally simple way Louisa tells her story, without the dramatics or flair of plot-driven fiction. Fans of polyamory will likely be disappointed in the ending of the relationship, the failure of the book to flag-waving paean to the wonders of poly life.
Perhaps that is why, like More Than Two, this is a book that polyamory needs.
The Husband Swap is the tale of Gilles and Louisa, Elena and Morten. It is the story of Louisa’s discovery of herself. It is a memoir of polyamory—the good, the bad, and the ugly. The unvarnished truth of what happens when polyamory doesn’t work.
And of starting again.
I would recommend this book to anyone look for a good story involving polyamory, and to poly newcomers for an open-eyed look at some of what can go wrong in a poly relationship.
The Husband Swap by Louisa Leontiades will be available May 1.
(This post contains affiliate links)
Hey folks, the amazing Dr. Eli Sheff’s new book, The Polyamorists Next Door, is out now on Amazon.
“It is the first book to use empirical evidence from a 15-year study of polyamorous families with children to explore this rapidly-growing relationship style. Hot off the presses, it is the perfect gift for the reader/seeker/counselor/teacher in your life.”
I’ll be getting a review up later this week [edit: Here’s my review], in the meantime, I highly encourage you to go order a copy now. If not for yourself, then for the people in your life—family, friends, professionals—who could benefit from learning a lot about the reality of poly families.
Marriage and monogamy are not what they used to be, and today many couples are opting to start families before getting married, or deciding not to get married at all. At the same time, gay couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage are getting married in droves. Some people prefer non-monogamy and have relationships that include swinging and polyamory. The landscape of American marriage and relationships is changing, and a variety of family systems are developing and becoming more common.The Polyamorists Next Door introduces polyamorous families, in which people are free to pursue emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time, openly and with support from their partners, sometimes forming multi-partner relationships, or other arrangements that allow for emotional and sexual freedom within the family system. In colorful and moving details, this book explores how polyamorous relationships come to be, grow and change, manage the ins and outs of daily family life, and cope with the challenges they face both within their families and from society at large. Using polyamorists own words, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them.While polyamorous families are increasingly common, fairly little is known about them outside of their own social circles or of the occasional media sensationalism. This book provides information that will be useful for professionals with polyamorous clients, educators who wish to understand or teach about polyamory, and especially people who wish to better understand polyamory themselves or explain it to their potential partners, adult children, or in-laws.
(This post includes affiliate links.)