Cuddles, Growth, Calendars, and Inclusivity


It’s been a while. My life stays pretty busy between being a corporate employee, a businesswoman, and poly. While I’ve not been diligent about my writing, I do have lots of momentum in my poly world. A few things have been lingering in my mind, and a text conversation with two of my partners made me realize I needed to write or I might burst.


A little over two weeks ago, I attended my first official cuddle party. For those of you who may not know, there are chapters of cuddle groups throughout the US, and they are groups of people who get together to cuddle and experience simple affection in a safe environment. The parties typically start off with an orientation that is quite extensive. The orientation discusses consent more thoroughly than anything I’ve experienced in the kink community. The exercises we went through were quite eye-opening.  The exercises made me realize both how scary people find asking for what they want, and conversely how much we dread hearing No. The exercises emphasized a belief that I have been touting for a while: NO is powerful and empowering. It can be said simply without malice or negativity, and it can be received gracefully.

An example of an exercise was that we stood in two rows, across from each other. In one row, person A beckoned  person  B directly across in the second row. Person B walked toward Person A, in small steps. Person A would use hand signals to halt, beckon, or send Person B backward as they wished. I watched as I beckoned my person. I could see his focus, waiting for me to make him stop or come forward or go back. It was powerful, seeing how a small flick of the hand could control someone and establish a safe space for me.

The cuddle part was quite peaceful. I cuddled with my partner G for a while, and then I cuddled with someone who turned out to share photography. We cuddled, and shared our experiences. At the end of the cuddle party, I was a fan of the group. I wish in general schools, colleges, support groups, and churches would go through the consent exercises we did.


For a long while, it seemed my poly life was moving at the proverbial tortoise pace.  Poor health, struggling metamour dichotomies, and just LIFE in general. And suddenly, like love and romance tend to do, things exploded unexpectedly.

My partner D, with the metamour T whom I’ve been having a great experience with…well, we are now in fluid-bonded status. That change status began with quite a serious bump in our relationship. We managed to work through it without letting the bump destroy us all, and we came out of it much better as a trio. We talked a lot about my partners and our intimacy levels, and T expressed a desire to date me both solo and as a couple. They didn’t ask me to forego my other partners, which I’m quite happy with. Everyone in my life is valuable to me and I am not ready to be in a closed triad. They respected my needs to be able to explore poly my way at this point in my life, and I respect their concerns for their health and the health of our relationship.

Two new relationships have emerged. Both are surprising in their timing and occurrence. One, whom I’ll refer to as TDP, is someone I’ve known for 10 years and always had an attraction for. Sadly, his marriage ended last year, but happily and unexpectedly it’s opened the door for us to explore that attraction. He’s had a rough go in his attempts at dating post-divorce, and I think he appreciates that I am poly, and have no desire to tie him down and make demands. I’ve emphasized given the stress of his current situation, that our time together should be a place of safety and peace and relaxation. So far, it’s working out splendidly.

The other new relationship is another person I’ve known for four years in the kink community. Again, that interest was always there, but due to our relationships, it was never the right time to explore anything. While he prefers monogamy, as he noted with some ire, he keeps ending up with poly women. I don’t know how serious this will end up being, and for now, it’s been pretty easygoing and light all the way around.

I still have my female partner, though things have slowed down quite a bit. I checked in, and while she is expending a considerable amount of energy to a particular partner, we are still in a relationship.

My last partner…that has slowed down, a result of my own doing. I still struggle with his primary and her passive-aggressive behavior, and as a result, I find myself being passive-aggressive in my own reaction. Passive-aggressiveness is not my style, and I really need to sit down and talk about what I’m thinking and feeling.

Generally speaking, I am really happy with where I’m at in my dynamics. I really never thought I’d be in this place in my poly journey, and it’s a good feeling. The only downside is there is never enough time. Speaking of time…


I know I’ve made everything seem just hunky dory and blissful, but today I encountered a problem that is talked about quite a bit in poly: scheduling time with your partners. Normally I’m on point with my time management. I have to be, with being a corporate employee and a businesswoman. Add five different relationships, and sooner or later there will be a scheduling snafu.

And so it happened today. Between all of what I’ve described, plus the addition of a friend moving into my house temporarily while he’s in a life transition, I forgot I had a date this week with D. That, on top of some feelings he was having about the progression of my relationship with TDP, he was feeling a bit off kilter today and needed to express it. I was horrified that I did not put it on my calendar and  I forgot my date with him, and hated that I made him feel less important to me.

My immediate fix was to do what most poly people end up doing: I shared both of my calendars with D and T this evening. I also had to make sure he knew how important he is to me. We talked about our different households and logistical boundaries, and recognized we are still feeling our way through this process. I can’t say it’s all been fixed to his satisfaction as we’ve not been able to complete the discussion, but I think it is headed that direction.

If you’re going to be poly, set up a calendar system. It will save you so much grief!


As is with every social group in the world, there are those who want to project what they think the dynamic should or shouldn’t be for that group. In non-mainstream relationships, I view us as all on the same team. We are all struggling for acceptance, inclusivity, and the right to live in a fashion that pleases us without causing harm or injustice to others. I support others’ right to live the way they wish, as long as no harm is caused and consent is granted by all involved.

Poly is different for all of us. Sex is different for all of us. In the kink community, we say “Your kink is not my kink.” That means that we support each other’s right to engage in our kink and promote inclusivity, even if the activity is not one we personally wish to engage in.

I think our poly community needs a bit of that reminder. Your poly is not my poly, and your sex is not my sex. In the end, those of us in the alternative love lifestyles need to remember that we cannot gain acceptance globally if we cannot accept each other within our small circles. Georgian Ghan

Being Solo Ain’t Easy

Welcome, welcome, welcome. It’s 2018, and I’m finally posting again. It’s been a while. To be quite frank, I’ve been in a deep funk for the last two months or so. Some of it has been being in a toxic work environment and struggling to get out of said work environment at the hardest possible time of year: the holidays. Even though there are a shit ton of job reqs out there, rarely do HR departments and companies actually make movement on those reqs at the holidays. But, things are looking up, and I hope that in this first month of 2018, a new opportunity will emerge. Dammit, I’m an agent of change, and change will happen.

Another contributing factor to my funk has been my physical health.Due to a lifetime of abusing my own body through insane workouts and a career that was quite physical, I deal with a lot of pain. I am pursuing a change in that as well, though it’s a slow process. However, small changes to my diet, small increases in my physical activity, and being my own advocate with my doctor will hopefully result in improvements.

The biggest contributor to my funk is really dealing with the positives and negatives of being solopoly. I have a few partners, but ultimately I’m the single woman in the picture, and for a bit was feeling quite expendable. Yes, I know a huge portion of this is indulging in my own bit of self-pity. But this factor in my funk is what’s prevented me from writing because quite honestly, I didn’t know how to express what I’ve been feeling. I’m not confident today I’ll make sense or have a level-headed viewpoint, but I owe myself this post today, to finally really blurt out what’s been preoccupying my mind.

Being Solo Has its Positives.

  • It means being able to step away from drama when drama appears.
  • It’s egalitarian, and no one has primary consideration.
  • Your space is your own, and it’s there when you need it to recharge.
  • You’re free to meet people, to a certain extent, though there is still the responsibility of consideration and safety for the people you are involved with.
  • You can develop fantastic relationships with metamours.

Being Solo Has its Negatives.

  • If you’re involved with someone who has a primary, and life events happen, the reality is that you get put on the back burner for a bit until the life event passes and everyone feels stable and has the energy to expend. That’s just the way it is.
  • You get asked, “how many partners do you consider to be too many?”–a question I sometimes find irritating.
  • Calendars get more challenging to coordinate. The only solution is absolute communication about needs and better coordination.
  • You can have disastrous relationships, or non-existent relationships, with metamours.

If you’ll notice, I mention metamours in both categories. Really, these statements are not unique to being solopoly. I have a fantastic metamour, and I have a not-so-fantastic metamour. One works hard on being my friend, and I give her all the support I can, to foster a healthy relationship for all three of us. She’s pretty self-aware, and has no problem voicing her concerns to me, and also owning her feelings and not laying the responsibility for her feelings at my feet.

I have another metamour that quite frankly, I don’t understand why she identifies as poly. I find her continuing social passive-aggressiveness quite offensive, and I’m struggling with figuring how much I’m willing to tolerate. I blogged about the Two Sides of the Metamour Coin, and while I want to be patient, a recent social event really highlighted the passive-aggressive behavior she exhibits towards me and allegedly her other metamours. My issue is I think she has jealousy issues that are being couched as anxiety; I don’t think she’s taking ownership of her behavior. Yes, we say in poly that you can only go as fast as the slowest partner, but we also say you have to own your shit. It’s a dilemma I’m still pondering.

My Other Solopoly Struggle

I miss having a partner to wake up with and to share things with on a daily basis. Being solopoly, Sometimes it’s gratifying to come home from a date and have my sanctuary. Other times, coming home or watching someone go home leaves me with an emptiness that I berate myself for. Am I being codependent because I want someone to sleep next to? Codependent is the one thing I don’t want to be. I find I don’t want to share all my good and bad daily garbage with my partners; they each have enough of their own to contend with, and most of them have a person to share that garbage with. The result is sometimes the only person I can talk to is me, and my fur babies, and I overload myself with my own thoughts.

As Dan Harmon said, “Feelings are real but they aren’t reality.”

I remind myself of that daily. cropped-georgian-ghan1.png



“Modern Love”: The Story I Wish Lisa Ling Had Told

Lisa Ling is one of my favorite reporters, and her show, “This is Life” on CNN is a show I enjoy. I love that Ling isn’t afraid to present alternate lifestyles and philosophies. I know these shows and others like them take a slant and find cases that fit that angle. However, the episode “Modern Love,” an attempt at presenting polyamory as a new take on love, fails to provide a basic foundational understanding of non-monogamy.

Ling never even uses the term “polyamory” once during the whole show. She focuses on “polygamy” and on “throuple” as her terms to describe being in non-ethical non-monogamy. “Polygamy” carries a huge negative stigma thanks to the history of the Mormon Church and abusive criminal leaders such as Warren Jeffs. “Throuple” doesn’t even begin to accurately represent what polyamory is or the wide variety of relationships that can occur in the polyamory community, not to mention I’ve only heard the term “triad” used to describe a threesome relationship.

The first story of the episode showcases Gary, a married farmer in Missouri who always loved multiple women, and felt something was missing. He and his wife Sarah watched the reality series “Sister Wives,” and voila, that was the answer. He met a woman named Tracy online on the website They spend six months talking on the phone since she lives in Colorado, and she and her children visit him and his family for the first time for a week. Ling presents their story well as a story on its own, and the three adults seem to be approaching it in a level-headed manner. I do appreciate that Gary points out that his desire to have another wife isn’t about the sex; it’s a mantra many of us say repeatedly.

My hesitation is that given the stigma that accompanies “polygamy,” I think Ling missed an opportunity to present the idea in a more neutral way. Yes, the reality is that if having multiple spouses was legal, many non-monogamists would be polygamists. I have to wonder that since this couple got the idea from the TV show “Sister Wives,” did it make a more sensational case to present as opposed to talking about a polyamorous couple who didn’t get their inspiration from the show?

The second story in the episode is about a married female couple in Texas, Jessica and Mary, whose marriage got a little stale, and they decided what they were missing was another partner. They met Camille on, and after meeting in a coffee shop, decided there was chemistry and they would pursue a triad or a “throuple” as Ling refers to it. Camille’s story is a bit more poignant; she grew up in the south, and followed her traditional upbringing and got married straight out of high school. Married, for 20 years and battling her desires to be in a relationship with a woman to the point of being suicidal and committing herself to a psychiatric institution. Finding out she was gay and not crazy, Camille divorced her husband and three months later found herself in not only her first gay relationship but her first poly relationship.

Again, Ling portrays the story as everyone is fairly level-headed, but to anyone in the poly lifestyle, we know the challenges are there. The reality is that Camille will have much evolution to go through as she emerges from her heterosexual marriage, and will have challenges in co-parenting her children in the aftermath of divorce with these circumstances.

I want Ling to tell the polyamory story, but I wish better cases would have been selected. Poly isn’t about polygamy as we know it from the Mormon Church. Poly isn’t, or it shouldn’t be, about bored couples looking to spice up their love life. I wish Ling would have used the language that those in the lifestyle are using, and presented the concepts we talk about: communication, consent, boundaries, negotiation, safe sex, scheduling…

Ling had a great opportunity, and she missed it by pursuing something that was more sensationalistic. Many of us in the community are excited to see more and more stories about non-monogamy in the news and in pop culture, but we want to see more accuracy in how our relationships are portrayed. cropped-georgian-ghan1.png

The Two Sides of the Metamour Coin

When I first began my polyamory journey, I wasn’t equipped to be the primary partner in a non-monogamous, long distance, BDSM relationship, nor was I equipped to be a metamour. I’d never heard of polyamory, was just coming out of a 15-year marriage, and to be frank, I was a hot freakin’ emotional mess. The reality is, to this day I’m stunned my relationship lasted the four years that it did. My partner, C, had his hands full each time he had a play date, especially the first two years. I wasn’t ready to share him, I didn’t know these women due to living 428 miles apart, and we had only technology as a means to reconnect after his dates.

I can only imagine how horrible I was as a metamour. Insecure, afraid, and sometimes downright resentful, I wanted to be the ideal metamour, but sometimes it was just impossible. It’s not to say I didn’t try my hardest. I wanted to be what I believed to be the ideal partner and metamour: warm, supportive, willing to share, and lacking one iota of jealousy. Instead, I was all over the place in my actions and behavior. Sometimes I was accepting of the play partner but still struggled with sharing from afar. Sometimes I didn’t like the play partner but had to accept the situation anyway, which resulted in my resentment. Sometimes the play partners were empathetic, but other times they understandably were frustrated with me. And then afterward I’d feel guilty for having my feelings. And so the vicious cycle continued.

Over the duration of the relationship, I grew less anxious. To be honest, very few of his play partners wanted to become something more than just a dalliance. Over time, I came to realize this, and my focus changed from worrying about them staying to worrying about them leaving. Play partners would come for a few play dates, and then they’d move on to the next exciting Dom in the community. I began to hope his partners would become something more, felt compersion when things went well, and felt sorrow when they ended for him. I wanted him to have the true poly relationship he so badly wanted but seemed to elude him.

I also realized that my comfort with a play partner was based on her willingness to communicate. A lack of transparency or a refusal to communicate with me became my red flags.

Fast forward almost a year, which included a short-lived relationship fraught with a lack of transparency and cheating (on his end, not mine), and I find myself on the other side of that metamour coin.

I am the new partner arriving on the scene for two different couples. Each woman who is the primary in each relationship is different from the other in how they are handling my presence. One metamour doesn’t want to socialize with me in any way at the moment. It’s not personal; she struggles for a while with new metamours and it takes her time to process and accept. I get it. My feelings aren’t hurt, and my hope is one day we’ll get to a place where we can have a conversation and I’m not seen as a threat.

The other metamour is different. She’s nervous, but we text, we talk, and the three of us have hung out. This coming Sunday, she and I will have our time to hang out and get to know each other on our terms. She’s been through some major life events recently that also add an emotional element to our situation, and as best as I can, I’ve tried to be a source of support and encouragement.

I appreciate the efforts the second metamour is making, and because I still remember clearly how I felt during my time with C, I reciprocate, and I express my appreciation for her efforts. This morning, following a date with her partner, I sent her a text, thanking her. There was more to the text, but the important aspect was that I wanted her to know her support meant something to me.

Being metamours is not easy, regardless of gender. Rarely are humans not inclined to a certain level of jealousy and insecurity.  At this time my way of handling being on this side of the metamour coin is to clearly articulate my motives, or lack thereof, and to be empathetic. I try to remember how I wanted C’s play partners to treat me, and how I wished the metamour relationships would have evolved for me. I can’t assume all metamours want or need what I did and still do, but I feel like it gives these relationships a chance to foster.

I think much like romantic relationships, metamour relationships are profoundly affected by baggage. The thing is, we all have baggage. Very few people get through life without having baggage. The real issue is, what do you do with that baggage? Baggage can be detrimental if you let it be, but you can also choose to make it a learning experience. What’s been done to you does not have to be done to someone else. Being vulnerable is hard, and it requires blind trust. However, without vulnerability, the deep longing for connection and recognition will go unfulfilled.

If you’re a metamour and you’re struggling, it’s okay that you are struggling. Take a deep breath, and think about why you’re struggling. You have to own the struggle. A hurt may have happened to you, but in turn, you can learn from the hurt and turn that into a positive outcome and find that multi-layered relationship that you’re seeking. cropped-georgian-ghan.png

Jealousy: The Line Between Insecurity and Manipulation

I have a new dog, a little female. I’ve wanted a female for a long time to be a companion to my male dog. I’ve had her a week, and there are many signs she’s blending in nicely. However, there are signs of jealousy between the two. If I pay attention to one, the other tries to push in-between to interfere with the attention being given to the other. I am working to reduce the behavior, as ultimately my goal is for them to be close to each other, metamours as it were. It’ll take time.

Humans aren’t much different. We start dating someone, and jealousies arise. I was reminded of this tonight. Earlier this evening, I found out that someone whom I consider a professional colleague had deleted my phone number after I sent him a simple “hope you are doing well” text and he responded asking who the text was from. For full disclosure, he was once a potential suitor until I had “the talk” with him and he ghosted me. I’ll refer to him as “P.”

P at first tried to say his phone got wiped. I played it cool, told him no worries. I guess his conscience pricked him, because then he told me he was working on a new relationship, and she wasn’t comfortable with some of his friendships. I responded and said I considered him a professional colleague and nothing more. He said he felt the same way but that perspective was not shared by all.

It made me think about jealousy, poor communication, and manipulation.

I think a bit of jealousy is normal. I believe the human who doesn’t feel jealous is a rare thing, and for most people, not feeling it at all isn’t a realistic expectation. I think what makes jealousy healthy is how it’s handled:  how do you talk about it, how do you explore the root cause, and how do you work on the root cause so that the root cause doesn’t control you in the future.

What isn’t healthy is when one partner manipulates the relationships, connections, and activities of another partner. Making your partner delete phone numbers, unfriend connections on social media, and feeling jealous of people your partner has little contact with is a sign that your jealousy is out of control. And if you have a partner who treats you this way and you allow it, there is a co-dependency in you that likewise is not healthy. Boundaries have not been set, and such behavior is evidence that there is little self-awareness and constructive communication is severely lacking.

My human story in this post is about a monogamous couple. But jealousy is found everywhere. In non-monogamy, having multiple partners can open the door to experiencing jealousy. Sharing partners, sharing intimacy, exploring experiences, these things can wake up the green-eyed monster within all of us. We, however, can control the green-eyed monster. We can own it, we can explore it, and we can resolve it. Our partners can help us with those tasks, but they are not responsible for those tasks. And likewise, we cannot control or manipulate our partners to make ourselves feel better.

As I sit here typing, my new little female dog is on my right side. My male dog is wwaaayyy over to my left, perturbed she is sitting so close to me. I give him love, but I also give him space to realize I’m still here, and I’m still his loving two-legged mom. I understand why he’s feeling jealous, but eventually, as I give him the same stable home, he’ll realize he isn’t being replaced, but that we have a new family member.

As for P, when I’m done with this post I’ll delete his phone number, and move on. As I told him in my last response, I wish him well.

I’m glad I’m not in his shoes. cropped-georgian-ghan1.png

Learning to say NO

The last six weeks I’ve been undergoing a number of transitions in my romantic life, my career, and in my business. Those transitions, which are not complete yet, make me think about my existence as a woman, and a woman living a non-monogamous life.

The news regarding Havey Weinstein and allegations of rape and sexual misconduct really bring my thoughts to the forefront. Weinstein isn’t the first to misuse and abuse his power and influence, and he for sure won’t be the last. He forced himself on women, promising opportunities and careers if his victims just let him take what he wanted.

I’ve been molested. I’ve been abused. As I grew up and chose a career path that was very male-dominated, I was told I needed more tact. I was told by a woman in that same industry I needed to stop wearing makeup and quit doing my hair to be taken seriously. All before the age of 22. Each year for a three-year period, “tenacious” was used by different supervisors to describe me. Sometimes I wondered if that was male code for “bitch.”

I’m in my 40s now. Just in the last three weeks, I’ve had things said to me by men in power that I know they would never say to another man. I was called a control freak, because I recounted to a C-line exec when he implied I needed to work voluntarily on the weekends that not only do I work for the company, I own and take care of my own house, and I run a business, in which I am my own admin, my own accountant, my own marketing, and I do the work of my business. Recently I was told I have a “bad reputation” for being “difficult” to work with, and that was the reason why I couldn’t be promoted or given a pay raise. For background, I was hired to implement processes in my company, and bring order to absolute chaos, which I’ve done as much as my realm of influence allows me to do so; sometimes I say “No” because it makes business sense to say no.

At this age, it’s becoming more apparent to me that there will always be people who will tell you that you are not enough, too much or both, and somehow you are supposed to reconcile that and become what they want you to be. As I get older and become more intimately attuned with my value, I realize I couldn’t care less if I’m too much for you, or not enough. Either way, we obviously shouldn’t be acquainted with each other. I’m okay with that.


NO is empowering. For a time in my young life, I didn’t KNOW how to say “NO.”  I LEARNED to say “NO” as I had experiences that were meant to marginalize me, demean me, to put me in my place.

My non-monogamy is emphasizing the value of YES and NO in my life. I say YES and give myself permission to have multiple loves and partners. I say NO and give myself permission to draw boundaries, to define what I will not tolerate in my life.  And I’m learning every day what I will and won’t tolerate in my life. What I thought I could tolerate last year I cannot tolerate this year. My tolerance for poor communication, flimsy excuses for half-assed commitment,  and a lack of value on words has diminished tremendously.

My fellow sisters…if you’re afraid to say NO, I encourage you to say NO. If you don’t know how to say NO, LEARN to say NO. It isn’t always negative to say no; some people can’t handle it when you say no, but how often is that really YOUR problem? Very little.

Give yourself permission to draw boundaries that work for you. cropped-georgian-ghan1.png






Exploring Me, Part I

For the first time in a while, I’m truly single, and I have total freedom to explore non-monogamy and designer relationships. I say I have total freedom because even when I first became single after my divorce in 2012, I didn’t know polyamory existed, and I was struggling through the conventional dating scene. Eventually, I entered the kink scene and found out about polyamory, but I was polyamorous on someone else’s terms.

Five years later, I not only know about this thing called polyamory, I have personally experienced a bit of it for a few years, and now that I’m fully single, the knowledge I have gives me freedom.

The truth is, I feel rather like I’m floating in a sea of choices in determining my relationship needs and want.

I have one play partner, “B,” who is solopoly. She is her own primary partner, well known in the kink community, and has a fairly large circle of partners. I’ve known her a few years, and it took forever for us both to finally say, “Hey, I’m attracted to you immensely.”

I think about B alot. Not in the “Oh my gosh, she’s the center of my world” kind of way. My thoughts are contemplative as I get to know her and about her various play partners. How she negotiates, how she makes time for her partners, how she identifies the positive addition a partner gives her life, how she makes me feel special when she and I talk or flirt or spend time together. I think about how she responsibly manages her career, her very busy kink life, and her partners. All the while maintaining an equality among all of us who are part of her circle.

I am in the midst of getting to know some people in the poly community who have indicated they are interested in being partners with me. I get asked what it is I am looking for. I’ve been asked if I could be part of a triad. I’ve been told (very politely) by one individual that if it seems I have too many partners, that he’ll transition our relationship to something less but maintain a friendship. He couldn’t tell me what “too many” was, but said he’d know it when he felt it. I don’t have an issue with that, but it does make me wonder, “how many is too many?”

I don’t have a magic number in mind. I know my availability is limited since I work full time, have a business, and I volunteer with an organization. To the question about being in a triad, I am open to being in a triad, but not a closed triad. For me personally, a closed triad doesn’t seem ideal at this point in my life.

I look at B, and I’m amazed at her capacity. While some would look at her circle of partners and think she has too many, I look at all of us and realize it’s working for us. It’s comfortable, there’s no jealousy, safe sex is employed, and we’re all happy.

Could I have a solopoly dynamic for myself such as the one B has? I’m open to it. And I like the idea of having my relationships on my terms. I think for too long I’ve had relationships on someone else’s terms. Conversely, I don’t want so many that my time with people is half-hearted and superficial. That isn’t fulfilling to me, either.

I think what’s even more unusual for me is while I feel like I’m floating in a sea of so many choices, I’m not in a rush to make a decision about my needs in non-monogamy. Yes, I want multiple partners. I am affectionate, loving, nurturing, sexual, and kinky as fuck. But I’m not desperate to be loved. I figure as I talk to these people, make a connection, the options will reveal themselves and I’ll find out what works and what doesn’t work.  cropped-georgian-ghan1.png

Non-Monogamy and HSV2

I have a deep, dark, dirty secret. It’s one that hinders my ability to have fulfilling non-monogamous relationships. The thing is, I don’t feel like it should be a deep, dark, dirty secret. I don’t consider myself unclean or unsafe.

I have HSV2. Herpes Simplex Virus 2. I’ve had it since I was 19. I’ve had it 29 years. Most of that 29 years, I was married. And yes, while I was dating him, my ex-husband caught it from me. That is a story I’ll tell you in a bit.

I’m on acyclovir. I’m one of those carriers who break out frequently if I’m taking acyclovir or zovirax daily. On it, I have no outbreaks.

I’ve never been one to hide having HSV2. My conscience won’t let me hide it. The reason for writing this post is it’s become abundantly clear to me the last four months that even in this day and age of the internet, the availability of information, people still are not educated about STIs.

I’ve been rejected more in the last four months of actively seeking meaningful non-monogamous relationships than in my whole adult life of having HSV2. I don’t mind being rejected; I get it. No one wants to have an STI, and especially one that can’t be cured.  Having multiple partners compounds the complexity of the issue. The part that bothers me is each time I’ve been told, “I don’t know much about it, but I can’t risk it.”

“I don’t know much about it.”

When someone says that, it means they are making a decision based on fear, not fact. It means that today the stigma is still the driving force of how we treat someone with a disease. I’ve also realized is many people are dipping their toes into the polyamory pool but truly have not considered all the risks and consequences of their choices.

I’ve been approached on by numerous men claiming they and their partners are finally opening up their marriage/relationship and are in essence looking for simple hookups. When I reveal that I have HSV2, the figurative squealing of tires is audible. I finally added on my profile that I have HSV2, and the interest has died drastically. I’m okay with that; quality relationships are what I’m after, not the hookup.

STIs are not to be taken lightly. Some are easily curable, such as chlamydia. Some used to be curable but today have certain strains that are not curable with antibiotics, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. Others last a lifetime, such as HSV2, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

My plea to you if you are non-monogamous or are considering non-monogamy is to please get educated. Make smart choices based on fact, not fear and stigma. When engaging in non-monogamy, your percentages of being exposed to STIs are higher. Get tested frequently, and get tested when ending a relationship. Require that your partners get tested, and ask to see recent test results from partners of interest.

And last but not least, condoms, condoms, condoms. Being fluid-bonded is a special relationship, and should be reserved for a partner or partners with whom you’ve been with for a long period of time and know who they are with.

For those of you reading this who don’t understand HSV2, I’ll share some data, the sources of the data, and give you the range of what can happen with HSV2. HSV2 is still not fully understood by science.

  • Herpes is a virus. It cannot be cured. It can be controlled through taking acyclovir or zovirax. More common forms of herpes are oral  (HSV1) or genital (HSV-2). Other herpes family diseases include ocular herpes, chicken pox, shingles, viral meningitis with encephalitis, and Epstein-Barr.
  • One in six Americans aged 14-49 has herpes.  According to WHO, two-thirds of the world’s population under 50 has herpes. Many people do not realize they have herpes. Some outbreaks can look like a pimple or an ingrown hair. Outbreaks can be around the mouth (HSV-1), the rectum or genitalia (HSV2 typically), and in other areas such as along the sacral nerve on your buttocks. It is possible to transmit oral herpes to the genitalia through oral sex.
  • Herpes is still transmittable even if you don’t have a visible outbreak.
  • For those exposed to herpes and have their first outbreak, flu-like symptoms such as soreness, lethargy, and swollen lymph glands can accompany the outbreak. More commonly the first outbreak is usually the worst. The symptoms can be alleviated with NSAIDs, but most importantly you should go to the doctor if you suspect you have your first herpes lesion, or blister, to get tested.
  • Herpes testing is not a standard part of an STI panel. The common medical practice is to test when you have a lesion or a reason to believe you’ve been exposed. A culture, or a swab, of the lesion is taken. The danger with these culture tests is there is a high rate of false negatives if the culture is taken later than 48 hours after the lesion first occurs.  DNA tests can be run instead of a culture test, and the results are faster and more accurate. Other tests use blood to detect the herpes antibodies in your system, but the American Sexual Health Association states these tests are not quite accurate yet.

If you’re exposed to herpes, the physical impact can vary. Some people are exposed to it and never have an outbreak. Some have one or two, and then never have one again. Some people, like me, will have frequent outbreaks.

If you spend any time reading blogs and posts about herpes such as this one, a variety of opinions exist on how serious herpes is. I’ve seen some people write that beyond the outbreak, herpes is no big deal. Herpes can have no impact on your life, and for others, it can have serious consequences, and yes, in rare cases, death. A pregnant mother with herpes can pass it to her infant through the birth canal, resulting in skin infections, encephalitis, blindness, or seizures.

I had my own frightening experience with how serious herpes can be. Remember earlier I mentioned passing it to my ex-husband during our dating period? During that outbreak, certain conditions existed that resulted in something I didn’t know could happen. He was coaching a youth baseball team practice one day and got terribly sunburned on a day of 80-degree temps, especially on his head as he is bald. That sunburn resulted in the herpes virus becoming more highly active in his system. Two days after getting sunburned, I was taking him to the hospital. We thought he had some horrific flu. The diagnosis was viral meningitis with encephalitis. Over the course of a month, between two separate hospital stays totaling three weeks, he received 750 CCs of acyclovir intravenously daily to eliminate the viral meningitis in his system. Five spinal taps later, he was finally cleared medically and could return to normal life.

I never forgot that lesson. Viral meningitis from herpes is incredibly rare. At the time he went through this, I read something like 1 in 10,000 herpes carriers experience this. It didn’t matter to me; in my mind, I nearly killed a man because I underestimated my body (I thought I was completely recovered from an outbreak) and the impact of herpes on the nervous system.

That lesson sticks with me. It’s why when I think someone is interested in me beyond friendship, I sit down and talk with them. Truthfully the rejection sucks, but as I said earlier, I understand it.

Be educated about all STIs. Being non-monogamous can put you at a higher risk, and you and your partners have to be smarter and safer. And if you meet someone like me who has a life-long STI, please also remember we are not immoral, or unclean, or unsafe. Condoms work, and pleasurable intimate relationships are still possible.

The “What” vs. the “How”

It’s not WHAT you do that makes or breaks a relationship, but HOW you do it.

This isn’t unique to designer relationships. It applies to all relationships. It just so happens I’m writing about it because I’m into designer relationships and recent experiences in the last 10 months drive this point further home for me.

Back when I was raising my children, I tried to drive this home to them. Like most kids, they’d cross a boundary, often failing to recognize they could have achieved the same result with less angst and negative consequences if they’d used a different approach.

Intimate relationships are the same way. Rather than a partner being open and asking for exactly they want or need, the partner seeks subversive ways to obtain that want or need. Typically the motive is avoidance:  to avoid rejection for the request, avoid hurting someone or avoid having to deal with the other partner’s initial reaction.

Avoidance is not justification for operating irresponsibly within a relationship. All relationships have an expectation of clear, honest communication; whether you’re acquaintances, colleagues, friends, peers, family, lovers, or anchor partners, no one wants to be manipulated or lied to.

In designer relationships, the problem is multiplied with multiple partners. Designer relationships can be rewarding and fulfilling, but they require a commitment to transparency and communication. What that means to each designer relationship is unique and subject to negotiation, but it should be set before the beginning of any relationship. And if any of the partners find the needs of the other(s) difficult to meet, then the establishment or the continuation of the relationship should be honestly reconsidered.

Being able to negotiate transparency in a relationship also requires everyone involved be self-aware; self-awareness can include admitting you don’t know how you feel about a certain situation or topic. It’s ok to say you don’t know what you don’t know, to use a Rummyism. Conversely, your behavior should not involve actions, the WHAT in a relationship, that shows a decision otherwise not clearly communicated. That’s where the HOW becomes important. If you can’t talk about it, don’t be passive-aggressive in your actions.

Communication in relationships is hard. No one likes to have their viewpoints or feelings rejected or overridden. In my opinion, I think it’s egotistical to believe you know best how your partner is going to respond to your request or demand, and it’s far more painful when you take subversive actions to gain instant gratification.

You can lose all your material possessions in this world and your most valued relationships. At the end of the day, all you have to claim as your own are your words and deeds. Remember, it’s not WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it.cropped-georgian-ghan1.png


Why ‘Tailored Love?’

For a while now, I’ve contemplated returning to blogging, desiring to write about polyamory. Many years ago, I had a personal blog, and it grew in popularity over time. However, my (ex)husband didn’t always like my posts. Sometimes he felt they were a bit too revealing. Sometimes he learned something new about me that made him uncomfortable. Blogging does that. It’s voyeuristic and exhibitionist at the same time. You reveal private things to a faceless audience, and the audience peeks in, titillated.

This morning, as I thought about where I am in my life, I spontaneously decided it was time to return to blogging. It seems to be the right time as I’m going through a change in a significant relationship this week. Without yet going into that story, the result is I’m pondering where the next leg of my journey in polyamory will take me.

In the last three months, I’ve become more active in the poly community locally. I’ve hosted meetings, hoping to create a safe place where people could ask questions, seek support, and sometimes just have a sounding board. One of the things that I’m becoming more acutely aware of is the language we use in the poly community. Much of our language is still very fluid in definition and usage, sometimes to our detriment as we gain more notice in the media.

To be honest, I don’t like the term “polyamory.” It’s not because the word mixes Latin and Greek root words. As much as we bastardize the English language, the last thing I’m worried about is mixing root words. My dislike for the word has to do more with that it incites debates about what it is, what it should be, what it isn’t.

The reality is human relationships are complicated. There are no golden rules, no perfect formulas for relationship success. The best we can do is design our relationships to fit our needs and within our boundaries. That’s why I prefer “designer relationships” as opposed to “polyamory.” To me, it’s a better description that allows for more inclusiveness when discussing relationships.

As I pondered what to call my blog site this morning, and thought about the phrase “designer relationships,” I realized what we are doing is tailoring love for ourselves.  There is no such thing as “one size fits all” in love. People bring out different things in you. Each person in your life fills a different need and teaches you something new.

So, here’s to a new blog, a new adventure, new ideas, old concepts, and the occasional awkwardness that comes from some brutal honesty. Most of all here’s to tailored love.  ღ