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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: What are some ways poly people make commitments to partners?

One interesting potential side effect of exploring polyamory is that it can bring people way down deeper into the question of “what does this relationship mean?” It doesn’t always—some people just don’t want to go that deep—but for people who are trying to pay attention to how they do relationships, extracting the notion of sexual exclusivity from the ingredient list can somehow ease the rest of it open for examination, discussion, and conscious choice as well.

So, what are some ways of making commitments once that whole “sex/love with you only” thing has been taken off the table, you mean? Well, here are some common options for commitments…

  • Supporting each other, materially and emotionally, in pursuit of their individual and mutual dreams.
  • Taking care of one another when they are poorly or injured.
  • Creating a happy, comfortable home together.
  • Showing up on time for date nights, social gatherings, airplane departures, and other important events.
  • Being careful and aware about sexual health matters.
  • Talking about relationship problems when they arise, and maybe checking in on a regular basis just for emotional maintenance.
  • Being present and supportive when the other is having emotional challenges.
  • If in a shared household, contributing an agreed-upon amount to shared expenses.
  • Doing one’s best to be caring and conscious about the other person’s feelings.

The list goes on, but the point is: it’s not a different list than one that people in monoamorous relationships might make. A lot of it works for platonic friendships as well. All the commitments that could conceivably go into creating a solid, loving, good relationship are there for you, whatever your style of relationship arrangement.

The keen-eyed among you may have noticed that I didn’t put “getting married” in here. This was deliberate on my part; after having been married/civil-unioned three times, I have become very careful about just throwing marriage out there as a catch-all commitment array, or using it as a shorthand for some kind of higher-level relationship package, because falling into unexamined shorthand agreements as a default is a sure way to wake up one day and say, I thought we agreed to do this for each other, and then realize that was only your expectation, and it was only in your head.

Whether co-writing a set of wedding vows or having “the talk” (e.g. “what kind of relationship is this exactly?”), I find that commitments in relationships work best when they are discussed individually, with an eye for what the people involved need, and what they can actually provide. Clear expectations and caring communication: that’s what makes a commitment more likely to work.

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Yes, sometimes the Fuckbucket goes into relationship territory. But don't worry, I'm still getting stuck into sex stuff up to my elbows most weeks, with Smut Slams around Europe (and mentoring them around the world) and new shows and programming happening all the time. If you like what I do for facilitating awkward but essential conversations around sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships, consider supporting me on Patreon!

FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “I’d like to try sex with other men. Where do I look and should I explain myself?”

I consider myself mainly hetero and want to get to know how sex with another man is. How do I meet somebody and should I explain my situation or just pretend I am into men?

Online dating was MADE for people like you: you know exactly what you want, but you lack access to what you want in “meat space”/”the real world.” In your case, you may not know clubs that cater to man-on-man action—although I assure you, those spaces are out there, especially in large cities like Berlin, and if you decide you do like getting it on with dudes in the occasional not-gay way, you might want to investigate those clubs.

Right now those spaces may feel a little out of reach for you, and I think slightly anxious newbie energy is not going to show you to your best advantage in the clubs. There is a vast amount of space between “I am curious about dick” and “I wanna go dry hump a stranger to some heavy techno beats!”

So, start with the online thing. A lot of people have success with OKCupid; I don’t know how it is for gay guys, but you could just sign in and take a look. Remember, however, that they have a real-names policy, so if you are feeling like keeping this exploration period under wraps for whatever reason, tread carefully here. Grindr is an app for men specifically looking for sex with other men, with more a focus on hook-ups, which it sounds like what you want.

If digital stuff leaves you feeling a little cold, you could supplement it with the old-fashioned approach: ask close friends to help you look around. I don’t mean put it out on Facebook or anything, but if you talk about sex already with friends, and if you feel comfortable opening the door, you could let them know what you’re looking for (something casual and more experimental) and let them put it out there for you. They will have your best interests at heart, so you know they’re probably not going to set you up with anyone scary.

Whichever paths you choose for your search, I think you will be better served and more at ease by letting people know a little bit about your truth. You don’t have to say O HAI I’M A VIRGIN AND I’M CURIOUS, I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU, JUST YOUR COCK. That feels a little objectifying, as if all your options out there are potentially interchangeable, as far as you are concerned.

To be fair, there are definitely men out there who are into gay-sex virgins, so if you don’t mind being a little objectified in return, go for it. Otherwise, I think it’s enough to say “I’m pretty inexperienced, but I’m keen and willing to learn.” That’s the sort of spirit that goes well in the bedroom!

And, if you really don’t want to worry about coming off like a dick in terms of exploring gay sex? Save up and hire a male escort. With sex workers, you can say exactly what you want here and they aren’t going to be hurt or act weird. It’s actually another thing that is made for your situation. Good luck!

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