On building a culture of consent

It’s predictable. That’s the most infuriating thing about it: it’s so goddamn dreadfully predictable.

If it were a surprise, we could at least say that it was surprising because we didn’t expect it. If we didn’t expect it, that means we were expecting something else. But god damn if it isn’t dreary in its monotonous predictability.

Five and a half years ago, I wrote a blog post called Assault and Consent in the BDSM Community. It concerned a person I know who’d been raped by a well-known leader in the Portland BDSM scene1. When she came forward about the assault, the BDSM scene closed ranks behind him and against her. It wasn’t until many more women stepped forward to say that he had raped them, too, that he was eventually run out of the scene…but it took a long time. And during that time, the predictable and monotonous drumbeat of minimization and victim-blaming and “well I never had a problem with him” bullshit (newsflash: you never had a problem with him because you’re not in his preferred victim demographic, duh) was all you could hear in the local community.

I’ve talked about this before, of course. It, and a succession of similar events like it with that same old same old unwillingness to deal with abuse in the community, was the reason I left the BDSM scene. I am still kinky, and I still consider other kinky folks to be my people, but god damn so many of the organized BDSM communities are dysfunctional when it comes to consent.

Ironically, given all the lip service it pays to consent.

None of this is news, at least to anyone paying attention. We live in a society where access to other people’s bodies, particularly women’s bodies, is considered as much a right as free speech and the right to bear arms. I mean, hell, access to other people’s bodies is a goddamn advertising campaign, as this photo I took of a sign in a storefront in California quite plainly illustrates.


You know she was asking for it.

And here’s the thing: It’s not just about sex.

Access to, and entitlement to, other people is so pervasive, so intimately woven into the fabric of Western society, that it’s the backdrop against which our lives are played out.

Not just access to other people’s bodies, though there is that, but access to other people. Access to other people’s time, other people’s attention, other people’s creativity, other people’s expression.

If you’re a woman, you know this already. If you’re at all creative, or if you’re someone who’s even moderately famous, you know this already. If you’re a woman who’s well-known or even moderately famous, you know this so thoroughly you probably don’t even need to read the rest of this blog post to know what’s coming.


I wrote recently about a storm brewing in the Italian poly scene over the Italian language version of More Than Two. It’s something Eve has also written about.

And before I go any further, I want to say that no, I’m not claiming what’s happening with the book is in any way comparable to rape. If that’s the idea you come away from this essay with, you’re not paying attention.

Instead, what I want to say is that the casual entitlement to other people, the offhand attitude that suggests that person A has, by right, an expectation to access to person B, and should B object to this access, A can be expected not only to trot out the same old tired objections we’ve heard a hundred times, but A’s friends F, U, C, and K can be expected to do the same, is the common thread that unites many different forms of consent violation.

That’s the thing. That’s the maddening, infuriating, and painfully mundane thing about this. People who feel an entitlement to access to other people can be counted on to justify that entitlement in the same exact ways, and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about physical assault, emotional labor, control over another person’s choices, or any other kind of forced intimacy. The same tools–victim-blaming, gaslighting, feigned “neutrality,” cries of “oh, but I’ve never had a problem with him!”–get use against any kind of non-consensual access to other people, sexual or not.

And it’s so predictable we barely even notice. Might I point out how fucked up that is?

Eve recently shared her blog post in a 2,500-member Italian polyamory Facebook group, one of two major groups in Italy. By then there was already a roiling, seething mass of innuendo, speculation, storytelling, and weird narrative growing around the problems with the Italian version of More Than Two, which is what typically happens in the absence of information; we are a storytelling species, and we make up stories to explain the world, without even knowing we’re doing it.

So she posted. And the result was…well, it was indistinguishable from what happened five and a half years ago, around a different issue in a different community halfway around the world.

We don’t like it when people we admire do something wrong, and we are, as a species, quite predictable in the ways we will hold on to the idea that folks we personally like are Pure And Noble, and folks who tell us inconveniently unpleasant things about them are Bad And Wrong.

Different situation, different crime, same disregard for consent, same rationalizations and reactions.

Fuck me if it’s not as monotonous as clockwork.


On each rotation of the center gear, someone says “But she’s overreacting!”

So let’s cut to the chase.

If someone writes a book and you like it, that’s cool.

If someone writes a book and you want to see it published where you live, that’s cool.

If someone writes a book and you work with the publisher to attach a foreword to the book that you wrote without talking to the authors about first, and then you fight back when they want it removed, that’s not, and never will be, cool. That’s the sort of pervasive attitude of entitlement to other people I’m talking about.

If someone writes a book and you go to the publisher misrepresenting yourself as speaking on behalf of the authors, that’s not only not cool, it’s creepy.

If someone writes a book, and you do these things, and the authors complain, and then you begin a campaign of throwing anyone who you think publicly or privately supports the authors out of groups and events and leadership roles, that’s…that’s…

Sadly, that’s as predictable as the rotation of a gear.

Because that’s how entitlement works. That’s what entitlement is. It’s the belief that that access to another person, be it physical or emotional or psychological or whatever, belongs to you, it’s yours by right, and anyone who tries to take it away is depriving you of what’s rightfully yours.

And the victim blaming, closing ranks behind the consent violator, “oh it was all in her head” stuff? That’s also part of how entitlement works, because entitlement isn’t just some random guy who thinks he has the right to have access to you, entitlement is a system. It’s a pattern of beliefs. It’s the water in which we swim.

It’s the advertising message we see hanging in a store window while we’re walking down the street.

This idea, that entitlement is not just a personal failure of boundaries but a toxic environment in which we live, is central to the whole idea of consent culture. And it distresses me when people who represent themselves as part of a community built on a culture of consent behave this way.

I quit the BDSM community because by the time I left it had not succeeded, even after decades, in building a meaningful culture of consent.

I see the poly community headed the same way, and it’s heartbreaking. This is not okay. Let’s do better.


1 Last I heard, he’d moved to Seattle and was gaining a reputation as a rapist in the BDSM scene there, too. Funny thing, though. In all of US history, as near as I can tell, there has never once been a successful rape prosecution against a rapist who was in a kink relationship with their victim. Not one. If you want a 100% guaranteed free ride to rape with total, irrevocable legal immunity, join the kink scene. Now you know.

Email o’ the Week: Beta Male

This just landed in my inbox from the More Than Two contact page. Formatting as in the original.

To: Franklin <franklin@franklinveaux.com>
From: Mrkoolio [email address redacted]
Subject: New Message From More Than Two – Contact Us

Dude…Buck up and have a back bone. When she wants to see other people it is because you are not fulfflling a need or you are not the one. It is exactly what you feel when you are not in love. This never works unless everyone is banging around at the same time. This is, “I want to screw other people, but if they dump me …it will be great to run back to you and you can help pay the bills too. If she meets a guy that does it for her, she will all of a sudden become monogamous. I can tell you are a beta by looking at you. Hand out with the alpha males a copy them. And the next time a chick says “I am poly.” You say,” good for you ….I am gone”. Or you can do the laundry while she is out banging around. Don’t be a pussy. Deep down…girls want a tough confident man….listen to Tom leykis. Let me guess, u were raised by a single mom who taught you all this bs….grow a pair….it will be so much better

I am a beta. He can tell by looking at me. So now you know.

“Does my butt look big in this?” Some more thoughts on honesty in communication

“Does my butt look big in this?”

I am a fan of the idea of honesty. This is no secret. I’ve written before about why I think lies, even supposedly harmless “little white lies,” are destructive. (tl;dr: They teach people not to listen to the good things we say, and to dismiss compliments and positive things as white lies, while making negative things stick more.)

Inevitably, every time I write something like this or I say this at a workshop or lecture I’m giving, someone always, always says “but what if my girlfriend asks if her butt looks big in this dress? I shouldn’t tell the truth then, right?”

And I say “honesty in communication works both ways. It is wrong to give dishonest answers. It is also wrong to ask dishonest questions.”

Far more often than not, “does my butt look big in this?” is a dishonest question.

Questions like this are not requests for information. They are passive, indirect requests for validation. They are an indirect way of saying “I am feeling insecure. I want you to tell me that you think I’m attractive.” And, of course, they’re harmful and destructive ways of seeking that validation, because if you say “no, your butt looks awesome in that,” the other person is just going to dismiss it as a white lie. The answer doesn’t meet the need for validation, because on some level, the person you’re talking to won’t believe you. We’re all conditioned to know that other people are likely to prefer white lies to honesty, usually under the guise of sparing our feelings.

And if you say “yes, that’s unflattering,” well, not only have you not offered the hoped-for validation, you’ve confirmed the other person’s deepest fear. These questions are lose-lose: affirmations aren’t believed, unpleasant answers cut deep.

“Does my butt look big in this?” It’s the most obvious example of an indirect request for validation masquerading as a question, but we ask dishonest questions that are less obvious all the time. Whenever we ask a question expecting to hear a certain answer that validates us, that’s a dishonest question.

Honesty is just as important in the questions we ask as in the answers we offer. Dishonest questions are just as harmful as dishonest answers. Indeed, they might be even more harmful, because they set the other person up for failure.

I don’t believe they’re always a deliberate setup. It can be difficult to tease out all the threads woven into the way we communicate. Sometimes, we ask questions that we believe are honest, but then become upset when the answer doesn’t validate us. Sometimes, we tell ourselves we want an honest opinion while secretly longing for the answer that feels best.

But dishonest questions are not fair. They put other people into a difficult bind that offers no easy way out. At best, they are a sign of chinks in our own sense of self; at worst, they’re manipulative, immature, or both.

I am a fan of honesty in communication. I would like, therefore, to propose an idea: If you ask a question, be prepared for an answer that surprises you. If you’re not prepared for that, it’s probably a dishonest question. If you ask a question and then blame the other person for giving an answer that doesn’t follow the script in your head, it’s definitely a dishonest question.

Relationships do not thrive when everyone is reading from the same playbook of dishonesty, they thrive when people are straight with each other and ask for their needs to be met directly rather than indirectly.

How, then, do we deal with our ordinary human need for reassurance and validation? I propose a solution: direct communication. I’d like to propose that we strive for relationships where we feel safe to say,”I’m feeling insecure about thus-and-such, and I would like your validation.” I think that looking within ourselves to understand what we really want, and doing whatever may be in our power to ask only honest questions and to advocate for our needs directly, is a gift we can offer our partner. By offering this gift, we avoid putting our partner in a position where they must either compromise their integrity or hurt us.

I would also like to propose the suggestion that by answering questions honestly, instead of telling white lies, we are offering a gift to our partner: the gift of integrity. This gift allows the people in our lives to believe us more fully, and not dismiss the positive things we say.

Honesty works both ways. We can, and I believe we should, seek to ask honest questions as well as answer questions honestly.

So you Want to Have a Threesome…

Group sex. It’s arguably one of the most common sexual fantasies that exists, right up there with the one about your French teacher, a paddle, and a giant pot of honey. It’s also one of the most fraught: How do I find people who want to have a threesome? What happens if I’m with a partner who’s more into the third person than into me? What if I get jealous? What if my partner gets jealous? What if there’s Drama? What if I feel left out?

I’m a huge fan of group sex. I lost my virginity in an MFM threesome (something I talk about in my memoir The Game Changer), and in the time since I’ve had far too many threesomes (and quite a lot of foursomes, and a few fivesomes, and some elevensomes, and at least one fifteensome) to count.

Group sex is hella fun, though like any kind of sexual activity it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. If group sex is something that interests you, it can be hard to know where to get started and how to stack the deck in favor of a good experience for everyone. That’s what this guide is for.

What is group sex like? Fun. I’ve consistently found it to be amazing. First, though, I’ll talk about what it’s not like.

What group sex isn’t

It’s not (usually) like what you see in porn flicks or Hollywood movies. The other folks involved are people; unless you’ve hired a pair of sex workers, they’re not there just to be part of a male wank fantasy.

I’m afraid I have some bad news for the straight dudes in the audience: When you’re having sex with two (or more) women, they’re not there just for you. It’s not all about you and your pleasure. A typical threesome wank fantasy is about two women who make out or have sex with each other just to get the dude hot, but secretly they both need the D.

That’s not likely to be how it happens. Maybe they’re both straight. Maybe they’re both bi and more into each other than him. Like I said, I’ve had a threesome with a bi woman and her lesbian girlfriend; we both paid attention to the bi woman, but her girlfriend and I had no contact at all. It was all about the bi woman, not all about me.

In fact, threesomes with two men are about as common as threesomes with two women–and no, you don’t need to be bisexual to have a threesome. Three men can have a threesome, as can three women. If you’re a straight guy, you also need not feel threatened by the presence of another penis in the room. As many women as men fantasize about threesomes, and often, women quite fancy the notion of two men paying attention to her as much as men like the idea of two women paying attention to him.

Which brings up another point: unless you’ve explicitly negotiated otherwise, you can’t assume it’s a free-for-all. You don’t get to do whatever you want with both of the other folks involved. Everyone is going to come to group sex with their own limits and boundaries. If you ever want to have a second threesome, pay attention to those boundaries! Yes, people are getting naked and sweaty. No, that doesn’t (necessarily) mean you get to have sex, or perform any particular act, with either or both of them. They have the right to say what you may or may not do with their bodies. (And so do you, by the way. You are never obligated to have sex with someone just because they’re involved in sex with someone else. I am straight, so when I have threesomes involving another guy, he and I don’t touch. That’s fine. Your body, your rules.)

Finally, a lot of folks naively assume “if I’m with someone and we both have sex with the same third person, we won’t feel jealous because we’re both there!” Wrong. Jealousy is about insecurity, and it’s possible to feel insecure even when you and your partner are having sex with the same lover. The best time to get a handle on that is before you invite someone else into your bed, not after.

What group sex is

Fun. Lots and lots of fun. Threesomes can happen in a wide range of configurations with a wide range of activities that go way beyond the stereotypical porn shoot or wank fantasy. They offer virtually unlimited ways for three people to come together and explore.

There’s something delicious about having two sets of hands and lips and tongues on your body that’s just amazing. It’s fun to be the one receiving that attention, but it’s also fun to be participating in giving someone else that kind of pleasure.

It’s cozy. Three people all wrapped up together is really nice. It’s incredibly intimate, both physically and emotionally. I remember a situation where I, one of my girlfriends, and my FWB all spent the night together. We had lots of sex and fell asleep all tangled up together, but you know what the most fun part was? The next morning when we woke up and showered together. The three of us barely fit in the shower stall, and all of us were still sleepy and a bit giddy from the night before, and it was incredibly warm and cozy and intimate.

The sex is amazing. There are a lot of sensations and activities that are not possible with two people that are possible with three.

If you’re a straight dude in an FMF threesome, for instance, it’s not necessarily a question of having ordinary PIV intercourse with two women, though of course that can be part of it (and it’s hella fun when it is). I’m a big fan of pegging (having a woman use a strapon on me), and in threesomes, there are all kinds of fun combinations available. I’ve been on top of one lover having PIV sex with her while another lover is behind me pegging me…that was fun! (We broke the bed.) I’ve been lying on my side spooning a lover and penetrating her while another lover is spooning me and pegging me. There are all kinds of varieties in any kind of threesome, and a little imagination goes a long way.

It’s a lot of fun when bondage is involved, too. The night before my girlfriend and my FWB and I ended up in the shower together, my girlfriend and I tied my FWB to the bed and we both took turns playing with her. On another occasion, I was tied to the bed on my back while one lover straddled me and rode me, and another lover sat on my face. The two of them made out with each other while they both took pleasure from me. As you can imagine, both experiences were really hot.

So how do you make it work? What are the rules for group sex?

In my experience, the most important rules for threesomes (or foursomes or orgies or any other group sex) are not that different from the most important rules for two-person sex. Sex is sex, after all, and it doesn’t turn into something qualitatively different for n>2. As with any sex:

  • The folks involved are people, not sex toys or objects for your pleasure. Their needs and desires matter just as much as yours.
  • Consent matters. This means do not do things without someone else’s consent. Do not, for example, assume you have sexual access to everyone else involved. (I have had threesomes with two women where one of the women involved self-identified as lesbian. I have had threesomes with two women where one of the women was the girlfriend of my partner. In neither case did I assume that just because there were two women there, that meant I got to have sex with both of them.)
  • Set and respect boundaries. Talk about what access you will and will not allow to you. You don’t have to have sex with all the other folks just because your orientations and/or wibbly bits line up!
  • Talk about and plan for sexual health. Use barriers, exchange sexual histories, or do whatever else you need to do to protect your health.
  • I have found that sex of all sorts usually goes better with friends than with strangers. It is common for people new to group sex to want to try it with strangers, because they fear that having sex with people they know will make things “awkward” or induce jealousy. In my experience, though, inviting a random person into your bed goes along with inviting random communication skill, random sets of expectations, random STI risk profile, and random risk of Drama into your bed. With friends, you’ve already established a baseline, I hope, of communication and trust. Those things make sex better.
  • Communication matters. If you’re feeling something you didn’t expect, communicate! If you want (or don’t want) something to happen, communicate!
  • Treat the other people with respect and compassion. They are people too, remember? Treating people well is the key to having everyone have a good experience. When you treat other people well, you might get to play again!
  • If you do have an unexpected response, try to deal with it with grace. It’s okay to feel unexpected things when you try something new. If you need to stop, stop, but do so calmly and without shame, blame, or drama.
  • Don’t spend all your time trying to script exactly what happens or how it goes, unless scripting sex is your particular kink. Sometimes people are tempted to try to avoid jealousy by using a script. That’s unlikely to work. Jealousy is caused by insecurity and it’s hard to navigate around insecurity with rules or scripts.

Special considerations for safer sex

Group sex poses special challenges for safer sex that you might not have to think about when you’re accustomed to the more one-on-one variety. In addition to being aware of transmitting potential pathogens to your partner or receiving them from your partner, you also have to be aware of transmitting them between participants.

Some of these guidelines are common sense. If you use barriers like condoms, for instance, don’t use the same barrier with two different partners. Change condoms when moving between partners.

The same goes for use of sex toys or fingers. Be aware of who you’ve touched and with what. Cover toys and change the coverings between partners, or use toys with only one partner. Don’t put your fingers in one person’s wibbly bits and then put them in another person’s bits, if those people aren’t fluid-bonded.

Oral sex requires particular care. We don’t necessarily think of it as a vector between two folks who aren’t directly intimate with each other, but it can be. Use dental dams or condoms if you’re offering oral sex to two partners, or use mouthwash between partners. Be aware of where your bits have been, where your fingers have been, and yes, where your tongue has been.

Finding partners

Having group sex doesn’t take magic superpowers or arcane pickup secrets you learn from the seedier corners of the Internet. It does, however, help to let go of conventional attitudes about sex. We are all, throughout our lives, inculcated with a lot of baggage around sex, and some of that baggage makes it really hard to have threesomes.

In my experience, there are three approaches to trying to find group sex.

A lot of folks start out with a conventional relationship, then search for someone who will basically be an expendable fantasy fulfillment object. That can feel nice and safe. The third person is barely even a person. In fact, a lot of folks set strict rules on what that third person can and can’t do, or even set rules that it has to be an anonymous stranger from Craigslist rather than a friend or acquaintance, in the belief that this will avoid jealousy or awkwardness.

There are several problems with this approach. First, in my experience, the couples who do it are often trying to outsmart jealousy by planning and scripting a scenario they think will keep it at bay. But jealousy doesn’t come from sex. Jealousy comes from insecurity. If you see your partner enjoying someone else, and you’re sexually insecure, you will likely feel threatened and jealous even if the other person is a stranger, even if you’re having sex with that person at the same time, and even if you’re following a script. Second, sex with a stranger can feel less threatening than sex with a friend, but the problem is a random stranger brings random STI profile, random integrity or lack thereof, random baggage, and random drama to the table. Third, it encourages thinking of that person as a thing, not as a person with needs and desires.

It’s easier to take this approach than to build good tools for self-confidence, security, communication, and respect. A lot of folks take this approach because they don’t want to (or don’t know how to) build those tools, and the results are mixed. It is possible to have a good threesome with this approach, but it’s surprisingly hard. I think every threesome horror story I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard quite a lot of them) started with this approach.

The second approach is to join a swing club or lifestyle community. This approach is really intimidating to a lot of people. There are all kinds of stereotypes about swingers, it can be hard to admit to other people what you want, and a lot of folks will say things like “sure, I want to have group sex, but that doesn’t mean I’m like all those perverts!” (Seriously, I’ve heard people say just that.)

The advantages to this approach are that it’s safe–the lifestyle community tends to have zero tolerance for abusive or disrespectful behavior, there is a strong culture of not disrupting other people’s relationships, there are meet and greets where you can get to know folks in the community in a low-pressure social setting without sex, and you’ll meet people who are on the same page about what you want. The disadvantage is that it’s intimidating at first, and if you’re still carrying around a bunch of baggage like sexual insecurity, sex negativity, or poor communication skills, you’re going to have to address those. It also can tend, depending on where you are, to favor people who are conventionally attractive. But the lifestyle community offers a structural way to get what you want on your terms.

My approach is different. I’ve never “found” a partner for a threesome by going out and looking. All the threesomes I’ve ever had have involved people I already knew. I’ve always had a social circle who are open and sex-positive, so I’ve never had to go out searching; it’s always been more like “hey, I like you, I’d like to explore bring more physically intimate with you, whaddya say?”

I’ve tried to work on myself to build strong self-esteem and security, to confront my fears and insecurities, to develop the qualities of integrity and transparency, to be able to talk about sex without fear or shame, and to let go of the idea that if my lover digs sex involving another person that means I’m not good enough or whatever.

I’ve also worked hard to understand three principles that sound obvious but aren’t:

  • I can’t expect to have what I want if I don’t ask for what I want
  • If I feel something bad or unpleasant that doesn’t necessarily mean someone else is doing something wrong
  • Other people are real, which means their needs and desires are just as valid as mine.

Having done that, I deliberately built a social circle of open, sex-positive people. I got over feeling intimidated about going to kink or lifestyle social groups. I sought out people who have positive, healthy attitudes about sex. I worked on my own integrity.

And it really paid off. And because my social circle is made up of folks with good communication skills and positive attitudes about sex, it’s remarkably drama-free.

This approach takes the most work of the three, but it’s work you do on yourself. Being confident and secure, being open, having good communication skills, being willing to face down your fears and insecurities help you find partners, sure, but they also help you live a better, happier life.

2015: The Year in Review; or, Bugger Off and Good Riddance

Here we are, nearly two weeks into 2016, a land of promise filled with mistakes yet to be made and nascent errors still unhatched. It is customary, as the calendar ticks over from one arbitrary designation to the next, to look back upon the road traveled and ask questions like “what the hell was that?” and “how in the name of God did I get here?”

In the spirit of that tradition, allow me to take a moment to offer a retrospective of 2015, a year that can well and truly fuck right off.

To be fair, it wasn’t all bad. Indeed, many parts of the year, taken on their own, were quite joyful. To help separate the good from the bad, I will be using a thumbs up icon for the bits I liked and a red X for the bits I didn’t, because I’m told clarity in communication is a virtue.

In matters such as this, it is difficult for any of us not to be an unreliable narrator. We are, after all, only imperfectly aware of how others see the world, and even of how others perceive the events in which we take part. That said, I will endeavor to be as objective as I can about the massive suck that made up an unfortunately disproportionate part of the year now past, and to polish what nuggets of win I can find amid the rubble.


Mechanical Difficulties
The year started with replacing the engine in Zaiah’s car, a four thousand dollar expense necessitated when Jiffy Lube installed a defective oil filter and then refused responsibility for the error, causing catastrophic destruction of the engine. Always a nice way to start the year. Lesson learned: Jiffy Lube is not a place where one should do business. This turned out to be a theme; hang onto the thought, I’ll get back to it.

In the meantime…


Seclusion and Murder
2015 (woe be unto it) started on a good note. Eve and I spent some time in the same remote wilderness cabin where we wrote More Than Two. It’s a lovely place, far from…everything, really. It’s a lovely place with a lovely (if murderous) cat and a great way to spend the first days of a new year filled with promise and the hope of a bright new future. And the murder of small furry animals by an adorable feline, but you have to take the bad with the good, or so they say.


Carelessness of the heart
Eve and I spoke at a poly conference, which was a lot of fun save for the fact that I met a delightful woman whose interest, initially quite mutual, I feel I handled poorly. I was not appropriately cautious and became aware of significant incompatibilities too late to avoid hurting both of us unnecessarily.

So, yeah, lesson learned. Mindfulness at all times in all interactions with other people? It’s a thing I need to do.

This was also when I began to fully grasp the weird–and often dangerous–ways that the one-sided intimacy inherent in being a writer and speaker who offers up bits of one’s inner life for public consumption can distort human interactions, especially with new acquaintances. Another lesson learned: Flirting with fans is a dangerous game, and is a risk I’m no longer willing to take on myself or expose others to.


Bionic penises
The next few months of 2015 were relatively calm and reasonably normal, at least for those values of “normal” as one might expect. Hmm. Normal. There’s a word I use only cautiously, and perhaps should consider striking from my vocabulary altogether, except insofar as it has a negation in front of it…but I digress.

The first third of the year was all about bionic cock. Eve and I got serious about launching a business to investigate producing the dildo that provides sensory feedback to the wearer, by which I mean Eve, who is rather the amazing mastermind and who has a can-do attitude that would make Ernst Stavro Blofeld jealous, enrolled us in a business accelerator competition that brought us together with investors and mentors and taught both of us how to say “penis” in a room full of people without blushing–a valuable business skill, it must be said, if one’s aim is to develop a bionic penis.

Penis, penis, penis. See? Hardly a twitch.

It turns out that business accelerators are a lot of work. We did market research about penises. We built business plans around penises, and had our penis business plans examined, dissected, critiqued, and torn into teeny tiny shreds by a procession of investors and business leaders. We built value chains focused on penises. We constructed penis value propositions for penis market segments of folks who want to know what having a penis feels like. I’ve run my own business since about 2001 and I learned more about how to run a business between February and May of last year than in the ten years before.


Sick kitties
My cat Kyla has never been terribly healthy. Shortly after she adopted me and declared me hers, when she was still a very young kitten, she got a respiratory infection that nearly killed her. I spent long nights awake with her, holding her and rubbing her chest, and she eventually recovered.

While I was away in Canadia-land dodging Kurgan raiders, she got sick again and very nearly died.

Well, technically speaking, she did die. Twice. She stopped breathing, and Zaiah brought her back with kitty CPR.

She’s a fighter, Kyla is, and she really, really likes being alive. Kinda like I do. She got through it with minor damage to her balance that seems to be permanent, but she did bounce back. So I suppose on the whole that’s good, or at least better than the alternative, but it’s bad it happened.


Indiana Jones Goes to a Swinger’s Conference
2015 was the year Eve and I started getting more speaking conventions than we could hope to say yes to. One of those invitations was a swinger’s convention in Canada that wanted us to talk about ways to do non-monogamy beyond swinging.

Swingers have a problem. Since at least WWII, swinging has been the go-to style of non-monogamy for people outside the leather scene. But now it’s getting harder and harder for swing clubs to find new members, what with Millennials growing up witht he idea that polyamory and other styles of non-monogamy are just options among the many out there and TV shows about polyamory and all. You don’t need the structure and safety of a swinger’s group when non-monogamy just isn’t that big a deal.

So we said yes, hopped into a rented car, and were on our way.

We were driving along the Crowsnest Highway (insert appropriate Scottish joke about taking the crow road here) when from out the window of the car I spied with my little eye something beginning with “ooh, look, pull over, that looks like the ruins of an old mine shaft up there!”

Eve, familiar in the years we’ve been together with my many and varied eccentricities and often given to indulging me, pulled over. We looked at the mine entrance, a few hundred feet up the side of a slope.

“Think we can get up there?” I said.

“Sure,” she said.

So we started the scramble up. We climbed up an embankment, past a row of trees, up over another embankment, and..whoa. Serious Indiana Jones moment.

The detour cost us several hours, dirt all over our clothes, and more than a fair bit of hard physical labor, but man, was it worth it.


Have a nice trip!
I have long been something of a straight arrow when it comes to the many pleasures of chemical mind alteration.

I know, I know, hard to believe, what with me being an Internet sex gargoyle and all, but until I was in my late 40s I never once experimented with any chemical alterant beyond alcohol. I didn’t try any recreational drugs at all until I was 46, when I experimented with hallucinogenic mushrooms–an altogether positive experience, and one I’ve been thinking about writing about for a while. I didn’t even drink ’til fairly late in the game.

We arrived at the swinger event considerably dustier than we had been, and were offered ecstasy by a person who apparently quite likes the experience of swinging while on E.

Now, as I mentioned, I’ve not dabbled far into the ocean of recreational biochemistry, and in fact have barely gone so far as to build sand castles on the beach of recreational chemistry, the waters being not to my liking and even the sand being more coarse and gritty than is perhaps entirely pleasant, and the sun and sounds of the gulls are…where was I going with this metaphor? Anyway, I’ve never felt the siren song of pharmacologicals, but I will admit to a certain level of curiosity about ecstasy. So we accepted his offer.

Ecstasy is not an easy molecule to synthesize by any measure. It’s a complex, fiddly, two-day process that involves a lot of extremely close monitoring and very careful mucking about, and one of the waste products of a more popular synthesis pathway is elemental mercury. All of which means that what’s often claimed to be ecstasy in the dystopian nightmare that is the market for street drugs is anything but.

I’m still not 100% sure what it was we took. Google suggests it was methamphetamine, based on its color, consistency, and the absolutely miserable night we had.


Ten carbons, fifteen hydrogens, one nitrogen, all the rage and hate of Lucifer after the Fall

I want to impress upon you, Gentle Readers, exactly what “miserable night” means. To do this properly, I will wander off for a moment into a story about a bucket of chicken. When I had first met my former wife, she and I were kinda sorta in what kids today might call a “quad” with two close friends of mine, and we spent many a night doing things to make a bishop blush, often with a video camera. We got some bad chicken at a KFC one evening–salmonella, I believe the diagnosis was. My friend’s girlfriend and I spent about three continuous days on the bed together barfing our guts out more or less nonstop. It was a waterbed, see, so whenever she would start throwing up, the waves in the waterbed would start shaking me, and then I would start barfing too, and that would set her off, and…you get the idea.

I describe this because I can now say it was the second most miserable time of my life.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, not every moment of the experience was bad. The first four hours were great, seeing as how we both had turbocharged libidos and couldn’t get enough raw animal sex, and raw animal sex is not something that I’m normally on distant terms with–Internet sex gargoyle, remember?

But after that…

The closest I can come to describing what the rest of the night was like is I had the visceral experience that there was something in my body that hated me and wanted to hurt me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop moving…I don’t often use the word “evil,” and when I do, it’s not usually about organic molecules, but meth is an evil, evil molecule. I can not comprehend why any human being would knowingly take that stuff in full awareness of the ride it was going to give them. Dante’s most vivid descriptions of Hell are a walk across a breezy tropical island compared to what meth feels like, assuming that is in fact what it was. Without hyperbole, I can state with confidence that I would rather get hit by a bus than experience anything like that ever again.

One star. Do not want. Should you, Gentle Reader, ever want to go down this road, learn from my example. Do not trod this path without a testing kit, which if you’re in the US you can find here and if you’re in Canada you can find here. Wish I’d’ve known about that sooner.

The weeks following the swinger convention were a whirlwind of chaos, the kind of chaos only two chaosbunnies in the same place can create.

My sweetie Maxine came into town, and we spent weeks traveling the deserts of the Pacific coast photographing ghost towns. Mining towns, railroad towns, logging towns, you name it, we visited it–a journey I’m still in the process of journaling.

Maxine and I are both chaosbunnies, so the two of us together is pure concentrated chaos. Into any such maelstrom good and bad must go. I will touch only on the hilights here, some of which I have not yet documented.


Camping in the Wilderness
This is, as it turns out, something Bunny has become quite adroit at, with a set of mad camping skills that’s little short of awe-inspiring. Seriously, when the Big One hits and civilization collapses, I hope I happen to be on the same side of the pond as she is. Build a campfire in the pouring rain, armed with nothing but a flint and a soggy roll of toilet paper? She’s the one to do it.

We had a fantastic time, even if there was rather less sex than perhaps there could, or should, have been. (Note to self: next time, plan a less ambitious schedule and leave more time for the horizontal mambo.) It was fantastic to spend some quality time with her in the deep desert.


Break a rib!
It is telling, I think, that when you make a list of all the things that went wrong during the year, you keep forgetting “oh, yeah, I broke a rib.”

If I could go back in time and give information to the younger me, I would definitely tell myself “don’t try to cross that stream on that slippery fallen log.” Well, first I would tell myself the Powerball numbers, but after that, I would definitely tell myself the thing about the log. Well, okay, the Powerball numbers, the stock price for AMZN throughout the second half of the year, and then the thing about the log.

But I lack access to a time machine, and so the younger me said “hey, look, a log across a stream! That seems a reasonable thing to walk across!”

Fast forward a few seconds and I was tumbling into ice-cold snow runoff, pausing just long enough on the way down to whack my side against the log.


The desert defeats us
One of the stops on our tour was an old lead mine, closed in the mid-1800s and since left alone, high atop a mountain in the middle of Black Rock Desert.

Or rather, one of the stops on our tour was supposed to be an old lead mine, closed in the mid-1800s.

It took us rather a long time just to find the old road–little more than a narrow, rutted dirt track, really–branching off the paved road in the direction of the mountain. It took us a couple of hours to crawl along that road, such as it was, to the base of the mountain. It took us another hour to climb halfway up it, then two minutes to realize that the grade had become so steep that the van simply would not move, even in low gear–and, for that matter, the wheels wouldn’t spin either. Another minute after that convinced me that any additional tilting at that particular windmill would only destroy the transmission, which was already slipping.

From there, it took five minutes to realize that turning around was an absolute impossibility, five minutes to realize that the van could not back down the grade as heavily loaded as it was without the back bumper digging into the earth, twenty-five minutes to unload everything onto the side of the dirt track, half an hour to back cautiously down to the point where a wide spot afforded opportunity to turn around with only a moderate chance of tumbling off the edge of a cliff, and half an hour to load everything back into the van again.


Black Rock desert. That thin dark line in the lower left is the “road” we came in on.

It should be noted here that before we set out on this journey, Eve had suggested I get a GPS locator beacon, in the event that, I don’t know, we should encounter problems deep in Black Rock Desert or something. I pooh-poohed that idea, because, really, what were the odds? Next time, I will not so easily discard that idea.

I still haven’t fixed the damage to the van’s transmission. The shop says the transmission needs to be replaced. So far, they haven’t been able to come up with an estimate. I’m not optimistic.


Bored and Terrified…at the Same Time
Our misadventure in Black Rock Desert was merely the appetizer for the main course of mechanical suck–the price, I suppose, of adventuring in a 23-year-old camper van.

We set out on the last leg of our trip straight over a mountain that Siri, in all her passive aggressive navigational glory, didn’t think to send us around. That particular part of the adventure will most likely get a blog post all its own, filled as it was with ominous signs and squadrons of US Marines, but the hilight, which I will briefly mention here, was definitely the trip down the far side, during which with a thump and a cloud of foul-smelling smoke the van’s brakes failed.

We were, at the time, in a remote area unserved by cellular signal–indeed, it’s quite likely that most of the natives were entirely unfamiliar with any communications technology more advanced than the telegraph, or perhaps smoke signals–and 70 miles from the nearest town.

Therefore, with no other options availing themselves, we spent almost the entire night on a white-knuckle journey across seventy miles of narrow and windy mountain roads in first gear at about ten miles an hour with no brakes, relying on engine braking to manage our speed.

I did not, prior to that night, realize it was possible to be both utterly terrified and completely bored at the same time.

The next day, we found a Les Schwab service center. I’d never heard of Les Schwab before I moved to Oregon, but Zaiah swears by them. “Great customer service!” she told me. “Awesome warranty!” she told me. I was skeptical, but when I bought the van I had the brakes serviced at a Les Schwab.

It took them an hour just to work up an estimate–never a good sign when it comes to brakes. They gave me a number. I choked. “Well, we need to replace everything in the front,” they said. “…” I said.

“We looked you up in the computer. You still have a thousand miles left on your warranty,” they said. “It will all be no charge.”

“…!!” I said.

Sometimes, fortune favors the foolhardy.


Uterine Thunderdome
June decided to continue the theme of random bodily injury started with the rib thing in May, because why mess with what works, amirite? And so it came to pass that I ended up with weird pain that left my doctor scratching his head and muttering about the possibility of a kidney tumor, that got worse and worse until eventually I ended up in a CT scanner shot full of contrast that made my eyes feel like they were melting.

The CT scan was illuminating, both as to the nature of the problem (appendicitis) and to why it was tricky to figure out. Apparently, my internal geography is as unorthodox as my romantic life.

More distressing, perhaps, was finding out that such unusual innards are often the result of a situation whereby a person becomes pregnant with twins, one of which absorbs the other early in development in a kind of uterine Thunderdome–two fetuses enter, one fetus leaves.


I have no idea if Tina Turner was there or not. It was too dark to see.

But hey, there’s a silver lining. From now on, if anyone gets all up in my face, I can say “don’t fuck with me, man, I ate my twin!”


O Canada
Eve, in her ongoing attempt to make me more self-sufficient in the nutrient procurement department, has been encouraging me to learn the dark arts of cooking and baking, by whose secret alchemy ingredients are transmogrified into food.

As part of that ongoing effort, she had me decorate a cake for Canada Day. I must say, I think it turned out rather well.

A most excellent representation of the spirit of Canada, if I do say so myself.


The Big Book of Franklin Gets It Wrong
2015 is the year my memoir, The Game Changer, finally saw the light of day.

Writing it was rough. For years–decades, really–I’ve written about polyamory and kink and relationships, but I’ve never really told my story. I’ve talked a lot about the things I believe, but not very much about how I got there. The Game Changer was a new kind of writing–one that’s not very comfortable for me.

It also tells the story of things I’m not proud of. It’s about the mistakes I made and the people I hurt, because those are the experiences that led me where I am. In fact, while I was writing it, I called it The Big Book of Franklin Gets it Wrong.

The response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s reached a lot more folks than I expected it to. I am deeply grateful for that, no matter how hard it was to write.


Dancin’ the Blues
One of the many things I’ve been working on this year is learning to blues dance.

I’ve always quite liked to dance–generally more gothy than bluesy, and without a partner–but partner dancing is new to me. Eve’s been teaching me, and it’s turned out to be rather a lot of fun.

In the fall, Eve and I went to Northwest Recess, which is rather like Burning Man only with fewer flamethrowers and a lot more dancing.

A whole lot of folks got together in the middle of nowhere, set up tents, and spent several days dancing without the distractions of civilization, like Internet, television, or potable water. And it was absolutely lovely. How come nobody ever told me how much fun blues dancing is?


More bionic penises
2015 was the Year of Travel and Presenting. Most of the presenting revolved around polyamory, but we took just enough time from talking about the whys and hows of multiple lovers to talk bionic cocks at Arse Electronika.


The second-generation prototype lacks the glowing lights, sadly

We were told we’d won the Golden Kleene Award for tech in sex, but weren’t able to pick it up as we had to depart for the airport immediately after our presentation to head to Europe. That right there ended up becoming the theme of the next five weeks.


Roads go ever ever on, over rock and under tree
The book tour. Ah, yes, the book tour.

What to say about it? The book tour was very, by which I mean parts of it were very good and parts of it were very bad but none of it was mediocre.

I started touring with The Game Changer a couple of weeks before Eve joined me for the European leg with More Than Two. I also ended up in urgent care midway into the second week, diagnosed with bronchitis.


The bunny ears are mandatory. The bunny ears are always mandatory.

As for the European bits…

We miscalculated, we did. During last year’s book tour in Canada and the US, we lived in the back of the Adventure Van traveling from town to town talking about polyamory. We packed our European schedule with the same density of events, neglecting to consider that:

  1. We would be on foot or relying on public transit for most of the tour;
  2. We would be dragging all our luggage with us everywhere we went; and
  3. We would be dependent on the schedule of the trains for our schedule.

They say good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment. If that’s true, we’re now so absolutely brimming with good judgment we should be on the Supreme Court and at least seventeen less supreme courts.

Meeting people was amazing. The folks we met on the trip were absolutely wonderful. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so utterly exhausted in my life. By midway through, we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth, putting one foot in front of the other, and all those other cliches that one resorts to when one is too damn tired to be able to think.


This is how most mornings started: double-fisting cups of tea.

And it was still unbelievably amazing.

One thing we never did get used to: no cats. Such a dearth of cats, in fact, that on no fewer than three occasions we were forced to seek company of the feline variety in various cat cafes across the European continent.

We spent our last night in Paris atop the Eiffel Tower, drinking champagne and looking out over the city. I got to cross “spin poi in front of the Eiffel Tower” off my bucket list.


I didn’t even know it was on my bucket list.

We flew home the day before the terrorist attacks in the city. When we hit the ground in San Francisco, we both had a bit of a freakout about it.


Oh, you wanted to breathe with those lungs?
On returning, finally, to Oregon, I visited my doctor to follow up on the bronchitis thing.

He did the poking and prodding doctors do, and then welcomed me to the wonderful world of adult-onset asthma, the result, apparently, of the pneumonia I had in Atlanta a few years back and the more recent spell of bronchitis.

If there were a god, I think he or she should have made us from something a bit more durable than meat. Just sayin’.


The last twist of the knife
2014’s last fuck-you was the destruction of Zaiah’s engine by the incompetent boobs at Jiffy Lube. Not to be outdone, 2015 had to get in its last little dig in the same spirit of giving, when the radiator in her car–the same one we’d only just put a new engine in–erupted in a cloud of steam.

Fortunately, this was a far less expensive fix. Still, they say it’s the thought that counts.

So that’s the way it was, the Year of Very. I still hold out some hope that 2016 will be a bit less very, though I have a feeling that this year will be a bit of a roller coaster as well. And I don’t even like roller coasters.

Some thoughts on little white lies

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s read my writings for any length of time that I’m not a fan of dishonesty in relationships–of any sort, big or small. I have always championed the cause of open, honest communication, especially in romantic relationships. A great deal of human misery and suffering in relationships can, it seems to me, be addressed by the simple but nevertheless radical idea that communication is good.

That doesn’t mean I embrace the idea of Radical Honesty™, at least not as it often shakes out in the real world. I’ve written about that before.

But I am no fan of intentional dishonesty, even in small ways. The little white lie? It has effects that are farther reaching and more insidious than I think most folks realize.

People who advocate for the little white lie often argue–indeed, seem to believe–that they are being compassionate. The function of the little white lie is to save someone from hurt or embarrassment, the reasoning goes. What is the harm in that? Isn’t it cruel to tell a hurtful truth, if there is no purpose to it?

I have oft observed a very strange thing in romantic relationships, and that is good things our partners say to us tend to bounce off as though our self-conception were made of Teflon, whereas bad things have amazing power to stick. If our partner tells us “I think you’re beautiful; I am totally attracted to you,” it is easy to say “well, he doesn’t really mean it,” and not to internalize it. But a partner saying “I don’t think you look good in that dress” sticks tenaciously, and can haunt us for weeks.

Why is that?

There might be a lot of reasons, but I think one of them is the little white lie.

We live in a society where there are certain things we are “supposed” to say. There are certain lies that we are encouraged to tell–little soothing words that we set up like fences around anything that might potentially be hurtful to hear.

Each of them might, in and of itself, not be that big a deal. Who cares, really, if your partner’s butt looks big in that skirt? You’re not with your partner because of the size of their butt, after all; it doesn’t matter to your relationship.

But here’s the thing.

When you tell little white lies, however harmless they may seem, you are telling your partner, Don’t believe me. Don’t believe me. I will lie to you. I will tell you what you want to hear. Don’t believe me.

Is it any wonder, then, that positive stuff bounces off but negative stuff sticks? You are establishing a precedent that communicates to your partner, straight up, do not trust positive things I say. They are empty words. They do not reflect the reality of what I believe. So how, given that, can we really expect our partners to trust it when we give them affirmation?

Little white lies are corrosive. They communicate a very important truth: I will be dishonest to you to save your feelings.

When we make a habit of telling the truth all the time, something wonderful happens. We tell our partners, You can believe me. I will not say what you want to hear; I will say what I actually believe. That means when I tell you positive things, I mean them.

Lies, however innocuous, breed insecurity. They cause your partner to second-guess everything you say: does he really think this is true, or is he just trying to placate me? Is he genuine, or is he just trying to avoid saying something I might not want to hear?

A question I hear often is “When I tell my partner things I like about them, why don’t they believe me?” And the answer, of course, is that we live in a society that cherishes comfort above truth. We are taught from the time we are children that we should tell white lies, and expect others to lie to us, rather than say anything uncomfortable. That leaves us in a tricky position, because we don’t have any way of telling whether the positive words we hear are lies.

Oh, we know we can believe the negative words, because those aren’t little white lies–the purpose of a white lie is to avoid discomfort, and negative things are uncomfortable. We trust the bad stuff implicitly. But the good stuff? We have no reason to trust that! We don’t know if it’s real or if it’s a white lie.

So here’s a thought. If you want your lover to believe you about the good stuff, give them a reason to. Let them know it’s honest. How? By embracing honesty as a core value. What’s the harm in little white lies? They create an environment where we suspect dishonesty from everyone. We can never quite be comfortable that anything positive we hear is the truth; there is always–there must always be–that niggling little doubt.

It is very difficult to develop positive self-esteem when we can not trust the good things people say about us. And yet, taking away our trust to believe the good is exactly what little white lies do.

Don’t do that. Be compassionate in your truth–but be truthful.

“Most likely a sociopath”

As many folks who read me probably know by now (and goodness, I’m doing my job wrong if you don’t!), I’m polyamorous. I’ve been polyamorous my entire life, I’ve been writing a Web site about polyamory since the 1990s, and I recently co-wrote a book on the subject.

A lot of folks ask me if I get negative responses from being so open about poly. And the answer is, no, I usually don’t. In fact, it’s extremely rare that I hear anything negative about polyamory, all things considered. I generally encourage folks who are poly (or in other non-traditional relationships) to be as open as they feel safe in being, both because stigma is reduced when many people are open about non-traditional relationships and because, almost always, the pushback is nowhere near as great as people are likely to think it will be.

But that’s not to say I never hear anything negative. Like this, for example, left as an anonymous comment to a post I made about dating and relationships on a social media site recently:

“This is what a woman had to say about you “Let me put this franklin, frank is a user/manipulator. I am sure he tells the women he is with that by being in a relationship with him and 4 other women that he is “empowering” them. You have to realize that there is a new “modern” type of feminism, these women misconstrue the term femism. The original feminist wanted to feel equal to men, they wanted more opportunities that we (women) are now given due to thier efforts. Nowadays women are empowered in a completely different way, women are mislead (in my opinion by manipulative men such as franklin) to believe that being overtly sexual is empowering, so that is why you see these women bending over backwards for men. I dont know exactly who is misleading women of our generation to believe polyamory is empowering or being overly sexual is but its someone, perhaps the feminists in the media but the question who is behind the media in the first place? I just feel bad for young feminists because they have no true understanding of what it means to be empowered and they are very confused. Franklin is smart and manipulating each girlfriend he has and he most likely a sociopath.””

Formatting, quote marks, and spelling as in the original.

So now you know, the media feminists are pushing women into the arms of sociopaths like me. Curses, my secret is out.

The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love

This entry is cross-posted from the More Than Two blog. Feel free to comment here or over there.

gamechanger-finalFinally, after incredible struggle, the manuscript for my memoir The Game Changer is finished and in copyediting. You can preorder it now on Amazon.

Writing this book has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ve been thinking of it as The Big Book of Franklin Gets It Wrong, because it tells the story of the most awful things I have ever done, the greatest mistakes I’ve ever made, and the various ways I’ve hurt people close to me in the quest to figure out how to make this whole polyamory thing work. It’s been written and re-written and re-re-written (I went through four complete drafts and numerous smaller revisions and edits, prompted in large part by the incredible support and comments I’ve received from people who looked at the early versions).

Writing this book meant reliving some of the most painful times in my life. Along the way, I had to wrestle with my first-ever feelings of imposter syndrome (“Who am I to be writing a memoir? Who’s going to care about the relationships I screwed up?”), with feelings that I wasn’t good enough to write this book (it is radically different, in style, tone, and content, from anything I’ve ever written before), and with my own inner demons: my guilt and shame over the people I’ve hurt and the things I’ve screwed up.

In the end, I wrote this book because I believe there’s an elephant in the poly living room, a great gray pachyderm we don’t often acknowledge. We like to say that one of the biggest benefits of polyamory is we don’t have to choose; when we connect with someone new, that connection doesn’t have to threaten our existing relationships. Indeed, some poly folks look down on those benighted monogamous heathens, those poor struggling savages who aren’t yet enlightened enough to realize that a new love doesn’t have to mean discarding the old.

But sometimes, we connect with someone new, and that person changes things. Or changes you. Love is not always safe, or tidy, or neat. Sometimes, it’s disruptive. Sometimes, a new love makes us realize that our existing relationships no longer work for us.

These relationships are game changers.

Game changers, by their very nature, create turmoil. Game changers upset applecarts. And we, as polyamorous people, need to be aware that game changers happen.

My first game-changing relationship showed me that for years, the compromises I had made to be with a monogamous partner were damaging to the people around me. I was both easy to love and dangerous to love. I did not think about the consequences of my agreements for new partners who might want to be close to me, and I did not recognize the ways I failed to take responsibility for my own emotions or actions. And so, predictably, I hurt other people—people who loved me very much.

The Game Changer is a love story, but it’s also more than that. It’s the story of how I learned to be honest about my needs, to recognize that other people are human, and to take responsibility for myself.

It’s also the story of things I did very, very wrong.

It is still, years later, hard for me to deal with some of the things I got so badly wrong, and the damage I did to people who loved me. Maybe, just maybe, other people will read this book and be a little bit less wrong, a little bit more compassionate, in the way they handle their game changers.

Back in the cabin again!

I’m typing this blog post in front of a huge picture window overlooking a temperate rainforest in rural Washington state, which means I’m back at the cabin where Eve Rickert and I wrote our polyamory book More Than Two. The cabin kitty, Whiskers, has been happy to see us, and has scarcely stopped begging for treats since we got here.

This time, I’m here to write my memoir, The Game Changer, about my relationship with my partner Shelly and the many and varied ways it changed my life. Poly folks–especially those of us who are poly activists–tend to be salesmen for polyamory, which means we don’t really talk about the ways polyamory can be disruptive…even when we have years of experience and think we have a pretty good bead on how to make it work.

A lot of folks contributed to the croudfunding of this book, and yet, I’m feeling kinda stuck. For years, I’ve written about the lessons I’ve learned and the conclusions I’ve come to, without really writing about how I got there. Now, in this memoir, I’m trying to write something very different from anything I’ve done before: I’m trying to write the personal story of how I came to be who I am, and how I learned the things I’ve learned. And it’s really hard! They say you get good at what you practice. I haven’t practiced this kind of writing.

And that means, for the first time I can remember, I’m grappling with imposter syndrome. I know you all helped support this book financially, and that means you want to read it…and I don’t want to let you down. But I am struggling with how to write this book.

So, for those of you who want to read The Game Changer, I would love if you could tell me a bit about why you want to read it. I’m trying to get this thing out of my head and into the computer, and I could use your encouragement.

Whiskers and I both thank you.

More Than Two blog post: Coming full circle

I wrote a thing over on the More Than Two blog! It talks about the new book I’m working on, The Game Changer, and a bit about how More Than Two came to be. Here’s the teaser:

There is something we don’t talk about much in polyamory. Those of us who are educators and activists tend to focus only on the positive aspects of polyamory. We’re so busy playing cheerleader (see, polyamory is healthy! It’s fun! You can have your Kate and Edith too! There’s no need to be afraid your partner will leave you from someone else, when they can have both of you!) that we don’t talk about the bits that are scary and disruptive. We don’t talk about the fact that, yes, even in polyamory, sometimes you do choose one person over another.

A game changer is a relationship that’s so amazing, so spectacular, so absolutely mindblowing (or sometimes, so terrible and destructive) that it changes your life. It changes your sense of what’s possible. It changes you, in a thousand different ways. Game-changers change things. It’s in the name. They’re disruptive.

I was married when I met Shelly, my first game-changer. Shelly, whose guest posts about consent and family you will find right here on this blog, is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met in my life.

I really believed I had a pretty good handle on things when I met her. I truly believed I had it all figured out…what I wanted my life to look like, who I was as a person, what my priorities were. Shelly changed all that. She showed me a world I did not, in a very literal sense, believe was possible.

The Game Changer is a memoir about my experiences with game-changing relationships. It, along with two other poly books, is being crowdfunded right now.

You can read the full post here.