The Poly Toronto Chocolate Crawl

Our tour guide was being cagey. Here we were at the first stop: the King and Spadina branch of Soma, perhaps Toronto’s best-known chocolatier. But she was keeping quiet about where we’d be going next. If we were up for it, she said, we’d hit all seven stops on her list, then hang out in Trinity-Bellwoods Park – in a caffeinated, diabetic haze by then, most likely.

We hit all seven stops.

At Soma the thing to get was (according to our guide) the pine-flavoured truffles, shaped like little elongated tree-pyramids. But it was hard to go wrong there, and my partner and I instead opted for basil-blueberry gelato. A lovely start to a hot summer afternoon.

Our group wandered through Graffiti Alley behind Queen Street, surveying the explosively colourful murals, then re-emerged near the macaron shop Butter Avenue. There was lots of excited foodie talk during our ramble, and food for thought as well. A few gay men talked about discovering the poly community, and about the differences in how nonmonogamy is practiced in the gay vs poly communities. I’ve rarely come away from a Poly Toronto meetup, even casual social events, without something to think about, and this was no exception.

You may ask: how much sugar can you sanely consume in one afternoon? Well, we did try to pace ourselves. Several fellow crawlers stashed chocolate in their bags, and crossed fingers it wouldn’t melt. Attrition occurred as people headed off elsewhere, but we were still a hardy little band by the end. By the time we reached Sweet Olenka’s, my partner and I still had room for vegan (coconut-milk) birthday-cake ice cream.

Our last stop was Bang Bang, on Ossington, but it was mobbed by ice-cream sandwich fans on this hot day—so we skipped it and doubled back to Trinity-Bellwoods. Somewhere behind us was a second group of chocolate-crawlers, who’d assembled at Soma slightly later with a second tour guide. Eventually they caught up with us, and the afternoon ended with the remnants of both groups seated companionably on the green, chatting and watching the local tightrope-walkers practice their art just a foot above the grass.

Unknown destinations, flexible routes and multiple pathways, constant checking-in and rethinking and dialogue…yes, I could turn the afternoon into a fanciful metaphor for polyamory. But let’s not get carried away. My thanks to Poly Toronto for putting this event together: I’m certainly game for heading wherever our guides take us next.

Poly Speed Dating stretches its legs in Toronto

If you begin the journey into non-monogamy just how do you find the relationships you think you are looking for. There are so many variations of relationship style, sexual preference, age range, and boundaries before we  even get to that magical unquantifiable ingredient – often labelled as Chemistry.

Now the way that meeting prospective partners often works, is that you discover the chemistry and then later find out if the person is a match in other ways. So what if you tried this in reverse?

 

We just held pour first ever Poly Speed Dating (PSD)event at the party room of the condo building of one of our members. It was a BYOB and BYOD event which also led to a wonderful evening of excess as well as success.

the Setting for the Poly Speed Dating event

the Setting for the Poly Speed Dating event

We were using the polyspeeddating.com web software. This has been running successfully in the USA and the UK, and helped us organize a social event where people met a number of potential dating partners. The event took into account gender preferences, individual/group dating preference, age range preferences, level of kink preferences, and welcomed all sexual orientations and genders.

So how did it go?

Well this is sample of what our members had to say:

This event felt like a unique success. Most people I spoke to expressed a genuine sense of satisfaction and relief in how easy the process was and how supportive the room was. Apprehensions and awkwardness were lifted mostly because we had a common thematic language to assist in breaking the ice which turned the idea of speed “dating” into something much more positive, effective and focussed.

Thanks must be given to the organizers for putting together an event with staggering logistics. By all appearances it came together flawlessly.

But how did it go – did it really work? we won’t really know. The results are emailed to the participants the next day. Then they choose to act on the contact information.  But I’m one of the PT Organizers and I was assisting at the event and what I saw was very interesting and here are my personal thoughts about it:

When you take chemistry out of the dating selection, things happen that wouldn’t normally happen. We are all to a greater or lesser extent  visually judgemental daters. We seek what our eyes delight upon. PSD does not consider height weight hair colour or any other visual cues, age notwithstanding. Participants may have got a little outside their normal screening procedure.

There was a gender imbalance. This is pretty common at poly events.  This meant the women had a lot more speed dates over the evening than the men. However there was still a lot of eye contact going on. After the dating there was a mingle. People kept on dating. The chemistry effect had  shown up.

Any poly social event is essentially an excuse to mix and mingle and make new friends. Instead of being an ordeal it became a party. Everyone bonded from the experience.  There was an expressed desire to hold this again every six months and I perceive this is the valedictory message for our first PSD event.

How do I love thee? Let me count the strands of love

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… (from Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barret Browning)

This little essay is my personal spin on the components of loving relationships. I worked on this idea as a means to understand the elements of love rather than try to create an authoritative work of non-fiction. It is not a comprehensive approach, For example I haven’t thought through the complex connections that happen in BDSM relationships. I have only experienced  heteronormative relationships.  It may not work for you even if it works fine for me. I’m not trying to sell this as a methodology. When I shared my spin with some of my poly friends they liked it and have asked me to write it down: so here it is.

The strands of love

I have come across the question in many discussions of Polyamory: “Is it about sex or about love?” There have been opinions expressed that if we have a non-sexual relationship then it’s just a form of friendship. I also know people in a relationship not having sex and they feel they are totally in love with each other.  Part of the difficulty of language is that “Love” is a very nebulous thing and subject to wide interpretation. While we have scientifically examined the  parts of the body we haven’t done so well with the metaphysical aspects of life.

Every love connection that we make is a little bit different from the others. We can’t easily describe what makes them so in terms of colours,  sounds, tastes, or other sensual measures, but we certainly know they feel and behave differently.

In the world of non-monogamy we have more freedom to explore the possibilities of such connections  No single partner has to fulfil all one’s possible needs nor should try to. Maybe it is healthier that there is no such burden of responsibility on a single soul to have to provide you everything you need in the metaphysical department. What makes Polyamory so useful in our personal study of love is having the freedom to love. There is an acceptance that one can go beyond a single love provider to explore what makes up these intimate human connections.

I think that what people mean when they use the term “Love” is a collection of conscious feelings and subconscious urgings. This collection I think of as the strands of love, that get intertwined to create the invisible bond between humans we call Love. There are a lot of strands and every intimate relationship has a different look and feel for each of the strands.

Making sense of the senses

What is love? Is the love for a child the same as the love for a partner, or a pet, or humankind, or one’s god?  Is it physical, is it emotional, is it more than that?

Love is the poetry of the senses.  ~ Quote by Honoré de Balzac

This quotation is one that resonates with me.

I had Reiki training way back in 1997 and from that moment I began to accept some less conventional ideas that fell into that category of things called New Age.  Now one of those ideas is that the body consists of energy centres called Chakras and each Chakra represents an aspect of our incarnation. I have found this view very useful in my understanding of the strands of love.  My interpretations here in this essay do not exactly align with the purpose of the Chakras in Reiki teachings, but it’s a close fit. Perhaps this depiction of love is the poetry of the Chakras.

The physiology of our metaphysics

He who knows others is learned;
He who knows himself is wise.
~ attributed to Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching

The first strand is at the root of things: the base Chakra. It’s also where the sexual organs happen to be.

I can have feelings of lust. I can get excited by thought alone of sexual activity with someone. I lust for them. I can crave them. It is extremely joyful to lust and to satisfy those lusts. This primal desire has helped the species carry on. It is natural and beautiful. It is one of the strands of love that forms part of our connection to another person.

The second strand is the lower belly, the Sacral Chakra. It is where procreation happens.

Sometimes you have a regular sexual partner and what comes along is an overwhelming desire to make a child with them. Making that conscious or unconscious decision to procreate is a different sort of manifestation of love than the mere lust for them. It is a desire to create a copy of yourselves.

There are ways to enjoy sex without creating babies.  But the creation of a new life is usually a much deeper decision today than being simply a risky outcome of the act of sexual  intercourse.  An intended child is also intended to be here on this planet for at least your own lifetime.   The nurturing and raising of child continues for many years and the bond between the adults who take on this task is a strand of love that is different to lust, and to the others that I’ll go on to describe.

I lost my wife and the mother of our children in 1989 but I feel such a powerful connection over 25 years later, it is something very wonderful. The mother of your children holds a dear and special place in your heart like no other.

The third strand is our solar plexus  – a place to get grounded

When I am with a partner I find there is a lot of activity concerned with taking care of each other in practical ways. Making meals, paying bills, taking out the trash, lighting a fire, making a bed, and many other aspects of Maslov’s pyramid of needs get addressed as a team. The acts themselves are about the sharing of living space, and  “taking care of business.” What comes with this set of behaviours is a nurturing dimension: feelings associated with caring for someone, having ways in which to show you care, and the joy from that experience. It is a giving that gives back. This nurturing element is another of the strands of love that may exist to differing degrees in our relationship.

The fourth strand is from our heart – our emotional centre

The heart is symbolically the place of love. When make an emotional connection with another we usually say “I love you” or  “I am in love with you.” This emotional connection can happen even without physical sex,  as labelled a “platonic relationship.” Our emotional roller coaster in life comes from our relationships with others. We talk about our ups and downs. We think about our feelings for another as being our love. Emotions are certainly a strand of love. Perhaps several.

The fifth strand comes from the throat Chakra – our place of communications

Our knowledge of pre-history tells us people were dependent on others to survive and prosper. The ability to hunt required a team effort. Communications played an essential part. Today there is a different interdependence. Society is very complicated with a massive division of labour to make society work economically, politically and socially. We have become communicators rather than hunters and gatherers.

We like doing things with others, sharing our adventures, relating our experiences, even analysing the play or film we just saw together. The communicating and sharing that we often crave is called friendship, comradeship, sisterhood, and other community-building labels.  This friendship dimension is certainly an element of relationships and without it the quality of a relationship can diminish. Communications also brings in to play the word “trust.” That too is an element of relationship. I think that these feelings of friendship, trust, and confidante  are further strands of love.

The sixth strand is from our Third Eye Chakra – our ability to see the world and to see the big picture

I am continually faced with choices and the person I am today is the outcome of  a very long list of choices we have made in the past. Some choices may not seem very wise when we apply hindsight but without them we wouldn’t be who we are to today, nor have gained that hindsight. Our future is similarly going to be an outcome of the choices we make. One of my very best friends introduced me to a spiritual teacher who talked about making choices that lead you to peace, love and joy. It has resonated ever since. So has that friend.

There are people in our lives that we trust with the issues of finding our path and staying on our path. They are more than friends, and this is not communicating about shared experiences it is simply baring our soul and accepting their witness. Is this what we call a soulmate? There are many definitions of a soulmate and not all are about romantic connections. A soulmate is usually seen as someone with the same attitudes and beliefs. It can also be called  karmic relationship.

We are spiritual beings. Sometimes we talk to the priest, or the angels, or our soulmate, or even complete strangers but we have those that we would talk to about the stuff that affects our choices in life, about our spiritual path. I have a lot of love for my friend that is my karmic friend. It’s not someone I have to see every week or even every month to maintain the friendship. It is though a joy to have him in my life, and an amazing comfort.

To some extent everyone we are involved with is part of our network of karmic relationships. Some are more significant than others. I believe that karmic connection forms one of the strands of love.

The seventh strand comes from the Crown Chakra and our connection to Spirit

This is about our divinity, about our relationship with our God, and about our relationship with ourself. Now we aren’t talking here about self love as in narcissism. While I’m not of a heavily religious disposition, the bible does deal with self love quite clearly.

In Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

Here King David describes his gratitude to God for the being that he was.

Is self love something that forms a part of relationships?  I have heard it said that you have to love yourself before you can love others. I think there is some truth in it. Loving ourself is a different strand to others but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps our psyche requires love of others to develop self love and self love to be able to love others. What came first the chicken or the egg, or the love of a parent?

How important is our understanding of love

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa

Love has been around. It has had its influence on the course of our human history.  It heavily infiltrates our entertainment. It overwhelmingly dictates our adult life experiences. It is intangible, powerful, and touches on the meaning of life.. These things we know, yet we have very little understanding of what the word really means.

I hope you enjoyed my little essay, and that some of it makes sense to you,

much love

Johnathon

 

 

 

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A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

I find symbolism for my life in some of the strangest places sometimes. Today it was in my kitchen, specifically my cutlery drawer as I was unloading my dishwasher.  I have my main cutlery drawer and what I like to call my support cutlery drawer.  The main one holds the spoons, forks, knives and some other odds and ends that get used regularly like a pair of scissors and the can/bottle opener.  The support drawer is the place for all my cooking and baking utensils — the wooden spoons, slotted spoons, different sized whisks, measuring cups, etc.

It dawned on me this afternoon that my life and relationships could be compared and organized in very much the same fashion. In my main cutlery drawer, there is a container which has 6 slots — one for small forks, big forks, small spoons & big spoons, one for butter knives and a small compartment at the top for odds and ends.  This container is like a corner of my life. And the drawers represent the time and space I have for interactions.

I have forks in my life and I have spoons in my life; people I interact with on a regular basis that help me in important ways.  I have a really sharp-witted friend that could be represented by the scissors. I have another person that can be compared to the slotted spoon — ready to help me pick up what’s necessary and leave the rest behind.  Some people are a combination of these tools. Some only represent one.  Both drawers and their contents are important in different ways.  The point for me is that a relationship structure such as polyamory allows me the space to have all of these different types of people in my life without limiting me to use just one spoon for the rest of my life. Or having access to a fork but only being able to utilize it in the “correct” way. So what if I use a fork to spread my peanut butter? So what if I improvise and use the butter knife to mix something instead of the whisk? So What!

Sometimes I forget and I put the rolling pin from the support drawer into the main cutlery drawer. I catch this right away — it sticks out, it doesn’t fit. I’m trying to make it something it’s not.  Some relationships are like that.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want or need a rolling pin. I just don’t want it to take up so much space in my main drawer. It doesn’t allow things to flow the way I like or desire.

And unfortunately some of my favourite tools/implements get worn out from plain wear and tear or right out neglect.  Sometimes there’s not enough space in either drawer for it anymore and we must part ways.  It happens. It’s one of the constants of life. But when something changes, it leaves space for new experiences. New experiences that don’t negate the memories. In fact new experiences can often provide perspective to look back on the memories with a new fondess and reflection.

Ultimately what matters is that I am nourished and valued and those in my life feel nourished and valued.

So as I complete the seemingly mundane task of putting my dishes away, I’m reflective of all the forks, spoons, scissors and can openers I have in my life.  I’m reflective of the super cool electric can opener I owned eons ago that was awesome to use but whose motor burnt out after only a year — not very dependable really despite all the bells and whistles it promised.  The pay out to get it fixed also out weighed the benefits and so I let it go.

And since kink is such a large part of my identity, it seems strange not to mention it. That kinky side of me — that’s represented by my set of knives that sits so eloquently in a protected wooden block on top of my fridge. Those knives are absolutely necessary in my life but that shit is dangerous and needs to be kept away from the children 😉

In the end, we’re all just looking for our place in the world and in the lives of the people we care for. It warms my heart to know I’m someone’s spoon or fork. And yes, even to know I was once someone’s fancy electric can opener, if only for a little while.

 

A Rambling on Solo-Polyamory

I have a strong belief in non-monogamy and multiple deeply committed relationships.  That’s what makes me Polyamorous.  For me, it manifests in a form that is often referred to as Solo-polyamory although a more accurate description for myself would be the Relationship Anarchy identity. The details differ from person to person and this is an account of my Solo-polyamory journey.  I prescribe to a non-hierarchal, non-conforming way of life overall … this isn’t just specific to my romantic relationships.  I treat each interaction as individual and don’t allow typical mainstream pressure to dictate who ‘should’ be important to me versus who is actually important and reliable based upon behaviour.  This comes after having an unstable family of origin upbringing and being raised with very unhealthy boundary messages that I‘ve had to unlearn. This is another subject all together and will probably pop up in writings in the future.

There are components of my behaviour that are specific to polyamory overall.  Such things as challenging the heteronormative monogamous status quo, my desire for variety in emotional, physical and sexual intimacy, the joy of having a diverse and colourful emotional support network, the joy derived from voyeurism and feeling compersion. And then there are components that are specific to Solo Polyamory that not all poly-identified people can relate to. They can be observed in my views on economics, co-habitation and commitment, how I wish to challenge the poly-normative model, my desire for healthy relationships versus relationships of longevity, compatibility and my level of risk assessment and finally how strongly I value autonomy, self-care, introversion and solitude.

Since I wanted to write about Solo Polyamory, I won’t focus too much on the broader poly elements but I thought it was still important for me to elaborate on each point a bit.

Challenging the Heteronormative Monogamous Status Quo

I was taught that there was a hierarchy to all relationships (parental, familial, friendships and romantic).  Conversations with many people over the years tells me a great deal of us were taught similar notions and they circulate around what is known as The Relationship Escalator.  Blogger Aggie addresses the issue perfectly and I have no desire to reinvent the wheel.  If you’re interested in learning more about the relationship escalator and default scripts, please read her writings.  The desire to NOT ride the relationship escalator means that my relationships appear to be non-progressional in the typical landmark types of ways.

Having an attraction to all gender identities also drives my desire for a variety of different experiences with different people.  Monogamy just doesn’t leave room for me to explore my sexuality in the ways I want to.

Longevity and why I’m not looking for ‘the one’

Longevity does not equal quality or depth.  Longevity does not validate a connection or qualify love.  Longevity only equates ones ability to be persistent and loyal to a cause and humans have this knack of staying in their comfort zones, staying loyal to stability out of fear and not challenging the norms of their lives so they don’t ripple the calm waters.  Humans often wear rose-coloured glasses, seeing what we want to see and not dealing with the reality of unhealthy situations.

Longevity is not my goal in a relationship.  It is a side effect of a healthy interaction.  As long as interactions remain healthy, I’ll be very willing to maintain them.  Constants “for life” are a rarity so I question why we base our love, interactions and financial stability upon this premise?  My preference is to leave room for change and contradiction.  Personal emotional growth will often look like a contradiction.  I will abandon a belief I wholeheartedly stood behind when I have a change of perspective.  My experiences often change my views … sometimes by re-affirming them, sometimes by invalidating them.  When there is room left in a relationship to communicate these changes, it just leads to a healthier dynamic overall.  Countless times I have had people confide in me that they were too scared to talk to their partner because they made a specific commitment and now no longer possess the ability or want to carry it forward.  Fear paralyzes us.  But I would rather a partner have the courage to be truthful to themselves and me, even if this means the end of the relationship as we know it.  Because of this, my commitments and promises are usually based on a specific situation, time frame or left open to further negotiation.  Life time commitments just aren’t in my vocabulary with the exception of offering life time support to my children.

“I will not let my loyalty become slavery.  If what I bring to the table isn’t appreciated, I will walk away and let the other eat alone.” Josie Picken

Voyeurism and Compersion

From a very early age, I relished in watching others experience life.  And while voyeurism is usually attached to some form of sexualization, I take great joy in people watching overall and specifically when these are people I love and care for.  It’s the feeling I get when I watch a friend succeed in a lifelong dream, it’s the feeling I get when I watch my goalie son get 3 shutouts in a row, it’s the feeling I get when I see my overworked father finally considering retirement.  For me, it just happens to also include watching my partners fall in love, hearing the joy another human being has brought to my lovers life and watching my partners be physically consumed with desire for another person.

Variety and Freedom

So you know when people say you only truly know something’s not right for you unless you actually try it?  While I normally think this line of thinking is hogwash and have no desire to validate myself for the comfort of others, I’m going to jump on this ship for a brief moment.  So how do I know monogamy isn’t for me?  Because I tried it and I tried it for a very long portion of my life, 14 years collectively.  And I tried it with three different people, three different set of characters and personalities; it wasn‘t them, it was me.  For me, monogamy was like being encased in a glass box with my partner. It appeared to be comfortable and stable. It appeared to be a great foundation to build from.  But it was also tremendously limiting, suffocating and was slowing killing my soul. I tried so very hard to ‘fit in’ to the script I had been given and it just wasn’t my path so I decided to write my own.  The freedom and variety of experiences polyamory brings to my life floods over in amazing ways … my creativity has been increased, my work ethic was always strong but it has deepened, my overall life fulfillment his multiplied.  My emotional support landscape is a beautiful workable art piece built with people who are willing and able to engage with me, not out of some level of obligation that’s been scripted to them but out of a true desire to want to!  I am surrounded by people who choose to exercise self care first which gives me great confidence and faith in knowing their actions are genuine.

What follows now are the distinct unique features that can be labelled as Solo Polyamory and they are very specific to me and how I relate to people.

The Polynormativity Model, Autonomy and what Primary means to me:

The Primary Partnership role models I have been presented with, both in real life form and in media presentation often (not always) follow a similar format.  For simplicity’s sake, I’ll divulge what my definition of primary looks like.  I can appreciate this isn’t everyone’s definition.  For me, engaging in a primary relationship often looks like two people, a pairing, living together, sometimes legally married, often with children, owning property together and financially entangled.  The commitment is seen as a long-term thing and legally binding. They could ‘pass’ as a monogamous couple and often do to their family, friends and business associates who are often unaware of their poly-identity.  For me, the Primary Partnership structure feels far too similar to monogamy for me to find fulfillment within it.  It feels like polyamory done by monogamy’s rules and restrictions.  For me, it is a breeding zone for possession, control and co-dependence if not monitored consciously.  Possession does not equal ownership.  To label one relationship Primary leaves room for all other relationships to feel deficient and incapable of reaching a level of importance.  It creates competition to an already challenging relationship style.

“If a partner respects me, I don’t need rules to make them treat me well, and if a partner doesn’t respect me, rules are just a bandaid that aren’t ultimately going to help” Franklin Veaux

I have great compassion for those couples who have been married or together long term prior to the realization that they were polyamorous.  It is a difficult transition from monogamy to polyamory for an existing couple and I agree, it should be done with conscious baby steps.  I had the luxury and privilege of starting this process as an individual, solo person.  Maintaining my autonomy is deeply rooted in who I am.  My independence is important enough for me to reject a primary relationship model.  I enjoy making informed, un-coerced decisions about my life.  This also has responsibilities and consequences; mainly that when something doesn’t work out, I’ve got no one to blame but myself and I’m okay with that. J

Naming one relationship primary in my life seems so demoralizing to all of the other relationships I’ll engage in, simply because my relationships are based in emotion and enjoyment of someone’s company and not tangible basic needs like cohabitating, co-parenting or ownership of property.  My level of commitment is based on upholding the integrity of the connection through trust and attentive behaviour.  I can’t quantify these qualities by assigning them a level of importance.  They’re all important in different ways, not in more/less ways.  And while I can’t possibly treat all of my partners equally (it’s just not possible), my aim from the get-go was to attempt to be fair. To communicate honestly about my feelings and emotions and what I wanted my life to look like.  I have no desire to chain myself to my favourite human.

“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.  Because if you pick it up it dies and ceases to be what you love.  So if you love a flower, let it be.  Love is not about possession.  Love is about appreciation.”  Osho

Economics, co-habitation, compatibility and self-care

A consistent theme of the Relationship Escalator is the benchmark of financial entanglement and co-habitation.  Again, I’ve been through this three separate times and every time, it became an unhealthy element in my relationships. I have an unhealthy relationship with money and specifically when it relates to an exchange between loved ones. This is strongly due to my childhood relationship with my mother who tried to buy my love and acceptance but offered very little in the way of emotional support or positive physical attention.  My mother would buy me things and then use them against me in an attempt to control and influence me.  It’s very difficult to say no to someone when they wield this type of power. Until I feel I have dealt with this baggage, I consciously choose not to engage in this type of interaction.

Because of the above, I do not enjoy being financially responsible for anyone’s needs other than myself and my children. On the flip side of that, I don’t derive any level of enjoyment from having someone care for me financially.  In fact, it has quite the opposite affect leaving me feeling inadequate, guilty and shameful for not being able to stand on my own two feet.  And I’m not talking about gifts or dinner.  I’m talking about paying for the roof over my head or my share of the bills. There are always exceptions to the rule and emergencies in which I must lean on my friends/partners, but in an ongoing day to day basis, I want to maintain my financial independence and know I can take care of my basic needs with or without a romantic relationship. A relationship should not be a person’s source of income or financial stability — not a primary source and for me, not even as a secondary source.  I have no desire to make love, emotions and relating into a business. Mixing economic needs with relating/emotional needs ensures an instability within the relationship structure and creates an ongoing imbalance for me.  It creates a ‘scorecard’ dynamic that I’m not interested in. It can lead to the inability to walk away from an unhealthy relationship because of financial dependence.  I’ve been on both sides of this coin.  I’ve wanted to leave a relationship but was unable to because I couldn’t afford to and that truly sucked.  I also left my husband of 10 years who made significantly less than I did and that created a lot of guilt and shame. His quality of life was directly linked to financial dependence on me and this changed when I left.

Does this mean I’ll never live with one of my partners ever again?  No, it doesn’t.  But my ideals around co-habitation are significantly different than most people I’ve interacted with.

Firstly is the issue of compatibility.  While I truly enjoy the company of a lot of people, this doesn’t mean that we’re compatible to live with one another.  That is a separate beast all together!  Just go away for a weekend with some of your friends or have your family stay over at your place for a week and I assure you, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Does this mean your friendship or family bond isn’t strong?  No, not at all. Even the strongest of relationships have difficulty standing up to the magnification of personalities when living in close quarters for an extended period of time.  So while I connect with many people on a deep and satisfying level, not all of these people are compatible living mates and I don’t wish to put this level of stain on them. The benefits just don’t balance with the risk.

I also value myself too much to compromise my needs.  And along with compatibility is the fact that I’m an introvert and I not only enjoy my solitude … I need it.  I need it like food and water. And I am fierce about how I obtain this solitude daily.  My boundaries are strong and I would need live-in partners who respected this need.  What I’ve encountered is that it is far too convenient for my partners to interrupt my solitude while we are cohabitating. Live-in situations are too intrusive for me.  Having physical separation ensures my ability to meet my needs on a regular basis. As Reid Mihalko says here about Dating Your Species, I’ve found it difficult to find someone compatible with my intense need for space.

The ways in which we label ourselves can be quite in depth and complex. I find more so when we’re living through alternative models.  It has taken me a number of years to be comfortable with my solo-poly identity but taking the time to gain the confidence to own my solo-ness was time I needed to take.  I truly could not see myself living any other way and while I may receive criticism or right out disapproval from many, I’m satisfied and secure enough to know I’m making the best decisions for me for right now.  Since I am a walking contradiction open to emotional growth, ask me again in a year if I still hold these beliefs.  I may just surprise you.

** Many people ask me why I use the term solo versus single.  My answer is simply because in our current culture, single is known to mean “alone and currently looking for the one” whereas solo is a respected version of individualism.  A solo act, in music or theatre for example, is looked upon as difficult to pull off but applauded when delicately executed. I know living solo-ly is a more complex choice but I’d like to think I’m executing it with grace and decorum.   

Happy 3rd Anniversary Polyamory Toronto

Below is a copy of the anniversary letter written for our private community, located on meetup

Happy International Women’s Day and Happy 3rd Anniversary to Polyamory Toronto!!

It is a hot time for Polyamory Toronto! The start of 2014 has rejuvenated people’s energy and commitment to themselves and their happiness. As a community, I am proud to see people flourish and expand their horizons!
As I reflect on the past year, I can’t help but turn to the numbers … the numbers don’t lie. This time last year, we were celebrating having 500 members and a regular line up of events that were well participated in. This year, we added a growth of over 300 new members. Some have stayed with us, some have taken what they needed while passing through. Nonetheless, the message of loving more than one is being heard loud and clear! And our events are growing ever popular.

There has been some exciting chatter around the table at our Group Planning meetings. Our vision of serving the Southern Ontario community has stretched to more national and worldwide possibilities.  Of course our heart and soul will always be dedicated to the grassroots of our local community and our local events but the options presented to us are intriguing.

Firstly, we’ve been focusing some of our attentions in reaching more people, in sharing that polyamory is a viable relationship structure and option.  We successfully launched our website which will assist in getting our message out there.  We’re especially proud of the blogging area and the prospects that will come from it. If you haven’t already taken a peek around, please take some time to do so.  And if you have any recommendations for content, our community leaders welcome your feedback. Having this public identity has enabled us greater freedom in reaching more people than our private meetup group currently allows. It’s a win, win overall. Rest assured though that our meetup group will remain private and there are still procedures in place before someone gains access to private event information.

Secondly, we’ve been engaging in conversations with community leaders in other areas and these conversations have presented us with some pretty interesting projects.  Samantha Fraser of Not Your Mother’s Playground has often been an ally to this community and we’re looking to strengthen this relationship by directly contributing polyamory-specific content to her annual Playground conference in November.  Look for further information on this in the coming weeks and months.  It’s a big task but one we’re eager to take on.  We’ve also established an ongoing relationship with members of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA).  While the CPAA is primarily located in the west of Canada, it is an organization that is dedicated to Canada as a whole.  Board members are interested in having more cross-national members and input.  The CPAA successfully held their first PolyCon in Vancouver in 2013.  They have now opened up the possibilities of having future PolyCon’s throughout the country.  Polyamory Toronto is interested in hosting an event of this stature in the future; hopefully in 2015.  We will be submitting our proposal in the next few months.  Other cities that are contenders are Vancouver and Montreal.  This would be a tremendous undertaking and one that carries a great deal of risk. Our leadership team would be looking to our membership for various forms of support (volunteering, content, fundraising, etc).  In saying all that, we’re are still very optimistic that Polyamory Toronto and Toronto in general could promote and host a successful PolyCon!

On behalf of the Community Leadership contributors, I’d like to say thank you for your efforts and participation in making Polyamory Toronto what it is today. The journey has been a challenging but fulfilling one for most of us.  We look forward to celebrating on Tuesday at our Anniversary event with those who can attend.

Sincerely, Eva

The 10 Things Candy Crush Taught Me About Being Polyamorous

The latest online game to sweep across my social circle is The Candy Crush Saga and it recently celebrated its one year anniversary.  I avoided it for a long time; simple lack of extra energy and stubbornness to not get swept into what everyone else was doing.  But the comments I heard here and there got to me and so one day, I added the app on my phone.  The rest is history and so the lessons began ….

1. Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture

The polyamorous way of life can be challenging at times.  It can create moments of tunnel vision; especially in less than successful moments.  Keeping with the thought that love is infinite, so is life and its numerous possibilities.

The way you have chosen to weave your love life is an intricate puzzle with many pieces of sweetness forming its whole.  In addition to the pieces of the puzzle that you can currently see, there lies other sweet pieces on the outside edge waiting to fall into place. Leave your heart open to the possibilities that you can’t even consider in this moment.

You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things,

so that all the small things go in the right direction —

Alvin Toffler

2. Never Underestimate the Power of BABY STEPS

Small changes over a long period of time often leaves room for monumental pieces to enter the picture later down the road; making room for bigger changes to take shape.  These changes may open up worlds of possibilities or they may stump you a little as you step back to figure out what the next move should be.  At the end of the day, we’re all on an individual adventure, where the focus is on a collective of small moves — not just one big one.

Remember that everyone starts somewhere.  While polyamory as a concept may be easy for you to wrap your head around, we still live out our lives in a society that breeds judgement in the face of change.  You will meet many people who will challenge your belief in this way of living and loving.  Taking baby steps and devouring the plethora of information available will assist in meeting those challenges with confidence.

3.  Practice Makes Perfect

There are going to be some levels in this game that seem harder than others; this is ok.  Our ability to love many may come natural but the strength of our relating tools may need some fine tuning when navigating multiple relationships.  Most humans did not come equipped with the skills or strategies to overcome the multitude of obstacles faced when taking on any meaningful intimate relationship.  We need to unlearn old, ineffective ways of relating in order to build  healthy, reliable skill sets. We need to unwire our hardwiring from our early role models.  This is not an easy task.

Picture these skills sets like tool boxes — we are given basic tools of relating at the beginning — a hammer, screwdriver and a wrench.  Some people are only given 1 or 2 of these tools; others may be given a variety of each type — Carpenter’s hammer, Sledge hammer, Gavel, Mallet, Phillips screwdriver, Robertson screwdriver, Flat head, Open-end wrench, Adjustable wrench, Monkey Wrench, Ratchet Wrench or a simple Allen Key.  The varieties are endless.

As we grow and interact with others in the world, we learn to perfect our relating style with the tools we’re given.  Practice turns newly learned skills into effortless habit.  And just as we sometimes hit our thumb the first few times swinging a hammer, emotionally we will gauge, take appropriate aim and still manage to hurt others.  This is life, this is love and this is learning. Try to minimize the frequency and depth of the hurt but accept that it may happen even when we don’t want it to. Along with multiple relationships comes a multiplied risk of pain but there is also the multiplied rewards of love which are oh so sweet.  Enter each interaction genuinely and authentically, willing to learn and love.  The hurt may still occur but the blow may be lessened when you approach with an honest heart.

4. It’s Tempting to Compare

It may feel like you’re the only one stuck on level 55.  Everyone has surpassed you and you tell yourself that it’s you — you’re not capable of passing this level.  But then you meet someone who is stuck on level 33 and you remember how difficult that lesson was — it took you five tries!

We’re not all at the same places at the same time.  We don’t all have the same insecurities to work on.  Those tools we’re equipped with — well some people have had opportunities to trade in their older tools for newer, more efficient ones.  Some people replaced their hammer with a shiny new nail gun or their Phillips screwdriver with an adjustable screwdriver set with a selection of multiple bits.  It’s hard not to be envious but if you want a nail gun too, you have the power to make that a reality by recognizing the right opportunities and making a commitment to doing some hard work.

Polyamorous loving is not a competition with others.  We each have our own paths to walk.  When you come across people who are where you’d like to be, chose to see them as an ally and not the competition our early roots have taught us.

Oh and when you come across someone who is loving in ways you can’t even fathom … leave them be!  Live and let live.  Repeat after me: Your poly isn’t my poly but your poly is still valid!  Leave the judgements for those who have nothing better to do.  Concentrate on loving more.

 Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts they way you would act.  Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people —

Arthur Forman

5.  You Need a Little Help from Your Friends

You’ve hit a wall, you just can’t figure it out.  You’re wasting time, energy and valuable life over and over again.  It’s time to visit your neighbours tool box!

Our friends and family are our support lines to happiness and success.  They can help in many different ways, even if they’re not polyamorous — by offering advice on how they overcame the level, by sharing their valuable energy with you or providing a much needed distraction when you require a refocus.

Granted, living a polyamorous life can be somewhat isolating in the beginning if your current emotional support system has never heard the word polyamory before.  Coming out to these people can be scary and overwhelming.  This is why finding and building a community like ours is so beneficial. I have heard countless stories of people who suffered little to no adverse affects when coming out to their loved ones.  Give your family and friends the benefit of the doubt and when the time is right for you, share your news and feel the warmth of their continued support.*

(* Disclaimer: Coming out to the variety of people in your life does carry certain risks and I am by no means belittling or ignoring these concerns.  This blog entry by Franklin Veaux is a great place to start when considering opening up to family and friends.)

Never underestimate the benefits others can bring to your game.  Following the game principle, a match of three is great to eliminate small obstables but wonderful things can occur when we match up four or five pieces of sweetness.  We’re all connected and as independent as we all want to be, we all need help from time to time.

6. Nobody Likes a Compulsive, Obsessive Whiner

Ok, here’s your dose of tough love.  If your game; the triumphs and difficulties of your game, are all you can talk about, you’re going to find yourself alone and fast.  Realize that there are endless games to choose from and not everyone is playing the same version or variety as you.

Now that you’ve discovered this utopia that is loving more than one, don’t be a jerk!  Being polyamorous does not entitle you to criticize the relationship choices of others.  There are still many valid options under the huge umbrella of relationship styles.  Swingers are not dirty.  Monogamist are not lost souls needing conversion.  The couple who are monogamish are not wrong.  Just as it is unacceptable to tell someone their sexual orientation isn’t valid because they haven’t tried ALL the options, it isn’t acceptable to bully people into polyamory.

Keeping an open mind means just that.  Once in a while, ask someone about the types of games they like to play and how this contributes to their overall enjoyment.  You might just learn a thing or two.

7. There are Short Cuts But They Have Consequences

So you learned a new way to cut some corners, to cut out the waiting game to recharge.  Your energy is replenished right away and you feel invincible!  Nothing can stop you now.  You’re engaged in your game ALL. THE. TIME.  Well, there’s a price to that immediate gratification.  The pressure to always be actively playing wears thin.  You become cranky as your frustrations are exemplified and you become egotistical as your triumphs occur at stupendous velocity.  You speed through levels but are you really absorbing all the joy, lessons and skill sets at this pace?  Patience is a virtue for a reason.

When you first learn about polyamory and find a great community of like-minded people, it can be really tempting to not take the time to do the homework.  You want to rush out into the world and date all the people!  Because, you know, you’re poly and you can do that, right?  Wrong!  Polyamory is not a game of quantity.  Two fulfilling, whole relationships will always be better than ten mediocre half connections.  Dedicating some time to yourself for inner introspection is just as valid!  No one can revoke your poly card based on your active number of relationships.  You’re polyamorous because you feel it in your heart, not because of the number of partners you have.  More is merrier but more doesn’t equal any and all.  Be selective; Polyamory is not Pokemon.

8. Revisit Your Past

While we’re not aiming for perfection, it’s valuable to take a step back, look at the entire map and see where you’ve been.

There are some levels you passed right away but you passed with only one or two stars.  There are some levels you struggled with for days and weeks that you were grateful to pass with that one star.

Re-evaluate.  You may have acquired the skill sets and tools to turn those one star achievements into two or three star achievements.  Perfection isn’t the goal, but challenging ourselves to be better is.  Sometimes it’s worthwhile to retest yourself with an old situation to reinforce how far you’ve come.

With polyamory, there is no rush to scoop up ‘the one’ when you come across them. Or to jump into a situation you’re not quite ready for. Timing can be everything when it comes to fruitful interactions.  That cute barista you had a crush on a few months but never acted on, now may be a great time to see if there’s something worth percolating.

9. Celebrate the Majestic Explosions that Change Your Game Page

You’re working away, making baby step after baby step — removing obstacles three red jelly beans at a time.  Then it happens; you make a seemingly insignificant move that allows the space for a yellow lemon drop to turn into a striped candy which activates a blue lollipop head to turn into a wrapped candy.  When that blue wrapped candy explodes, a pretty purple cluster falls between 4 other pretty purple clusters to create the ultimate obstacle busting tool — the Chocolate Ball coated in Sprinkles!  Exchange this decadent chocolate with a striped candy and be prepared to witness your picture frame radically change for the better.

Take the time to watch old obstacles melt away into the background, feel the sense of accomplishment and relish in the idea of a new different looking horizon. Give yourself permission to celebrate arriving in a place that seemed so far off only a short time ago.  You may feel like shouting from the roof tops when this occurs.  Go ahead, do it! It’s ok. Be your own Cheerleader and share with whomever you can.  We love hearing other people’s happy poly moments.

10. Get Some Rest

You need to take a break and recharge your energy.  Sometimes this game becomes far too exhausting and you need to shut it off/shut it out to gain perspective.

Sometimes You’re Not Ready For This Jelly!

Being continually open to relationships and love means experiencing a ton of emotions and processing on a regular basis.  Even when your relationships are going well and others consider you to be ‘successful’ at being poly, you still may need to put self care first. Poly saturation is a very real phenomena.  I use to say that time was our only limitation to the number of people we could love.  I now know this to be energy instead of time.  My energy tank must be refilled often and in a variety of ways in order for me to be at my prime.  If my self care is suffering, I’m going to be cranky and in turn, my partners are going to be cranky too.

Take a bath, have a tea, go for a walk, laugh, remember that you are a person outside of your relationships .  We don’t have forever here — the bigger picture game ends for everyone at some point.  Sometimes all too soon.  Enjoy it while you can.

There are only so many moves we can make.  Make them count.  If you’re lucky, you will have a few moves left over and your game will end with the colourful dance of the gummy fish.

Bonus #11: Control The Chocolate

Anyone that knows me, knows I love Milk Chocolate.  And some things, like New Relationship Energy, can be addicting like Milk Chocolate.  But this, too, needs to have its limits of moderation.  If you over indulge in the sweet Milk Chocolate and let it overtake your life, it spreads until there’s no room to make the moves needed to grow. It can cloud your judgement.

I have set boundaries with Milk Chocolate Squares.  It can have a small corner at the bottom of my puzzle.  It takes hard work to keep it there because Milk Chocolate is stubborn.  Being aware of the hazard it poses to the bigger picture is half the battle.  And a little bit of Chocolate is a good thing J

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Bill C 279 – bill to protect the rights of transgendered people

Ontario Humanist organisation and others have been campaigning for the rights of transgendered people.

http://ontariohumanists.ca/humanistnews/ohs-urges-the-senate-to-pass-bill-c-279

It prompts us to think about how to mount a campaign to protect the rights of those wishing to follow a polyamorous lifestyle.

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Hello Poly, from an SWM

It’s almost the end of summer and I have really enjoyed the six weeks I was back in Toronto.  As my close friends know, it was a hectic six weeks starting with losing my suitcase (with nearly all my decent clothing and all my hiking stuff) upon arrival back in the city.  At the same time, I moved into a new bachelor less than 1 block from Queen west within 1 block of 5 Roti places – life is good.

There have been a few PolyToronto events: our regular social, a Chat and Learn I was privileged to co-lead, an evening at our private party at the Aqua lounge, and a couple of Walk in the Park events I organised. The idea of the Walk in the Park was to create a situation where members can meet and get to know each other outside of a dating or bar environment.  The first Walk in The Park was at Asbridges Bay and ended at the Beaches Jazz fest. Members liked the idea of the walk ending at an event but by 8:30 a lot of events are well under way. No-one is obliged to attend the event and the walk is free of course so it’s an affordable way to mingle.

I came across a function called TMI night at the Go Lounge. TMI (Too Much Information) happens on the last Tuesday of the month and it’s an opportunity for Queer and Trans to tell their saucy stories.  There is an open mic after the first three speakers. For the walk, we started from the Bloor entrance to High Park, walked down to Lake Ontario, along the boardwalk to Palais Royale and then over the footbridge to Roncevalles. Although there was a thunderstorm and the paths were soaked, a few people still came out.

 

There was another aspect that inspired me to organize this event.  At PolyCon in Vancouver and in general discussions in the Poly world there is a noticeable gender imbalance of Straight White Males, and I am one of them.  I have four sons and the youngest (30) is gay coming out a long time ago. I got him to come to the walk and to TMI with me. It was my way of showing  him not only do I acknowledge his sexual orientation but I embrace it as being totally okay with him to be who he is. He called me the next morning to say it was the best evening he had ever spent with me.

 

It’s my personal opinion that to be an SWM and to claim to be poly, we need to work on our openness and our commitment to our movement being inclusive. I think we need to work on bringing a female companion or two to the social events. Being a poly SWM isn’t a passive thing; it’s about going on a journey where friends, family, workmates may frown or shun you. If you think that’s tough then think about those who choose to transgender and what they have to go through to be come who they really are …. So if you want to become more open and inclusive go to the TMI night sometime and don’t be afraid to listen.

 

much love to all

 

 

 

Hello Poly World!

Welcome to the Polyamory Toronto website. A place built by the community for the community of like-minded pioneering social activists. Monogamy is not for everyone. If you want to love more than one other, if you can allow the ones you love have other loves, if all your adult relationships are honest and consensual, then welcome to the culture of Polyamory.

 

 

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