July 29th, 2011
It’s been a long time since I posted my reflection on the first section of The Ethical Slut, but I finally made it back to Part Two. It’s been a busy week, so I didn’t manage to get a post done on time. I’ve divided the quotes up into four sections, here is the first set. The topic is Polyamory and Boundaries.
“One of the things people get out of multiple relationships is the chance to be all of their various selves. … Being different things to different lovers, we might find ourselves having different boundaries, limits and relationship styles in different circumstances.” (123) I’ve talked about this before, how I have different relationships, boundaries and dynamics with all of my partners. Poly, for me, is a chance to explore all the different sides of myself.
“Forget about fairness.” (123) “Fairness does not mean equity.” (194) “We have to learn to give freedom to our partners if we’re going to get it for ourselves.” (174) For me, these quotes are about making agreements that work for everyone. In poly, not everyone is going to have the same boundaries or rules, things don’t have to be equal and fair, so long as everyone agrees. And it’s important to remember that sometimes, letting your partner have a little freedom will help them feel comfortable giving you a little freedom.
“You may believe that you have to take your share away from somebody else… if someone else gets something, that means there must be less of it for you.” (125) “Time is the biggest real-world limit we encounter in trying to live and love as we like.” (127) “This is not a contest, this is not a race, and no one is the prize.” (157) These quotes are around the ‘economics of starvation’ that many of us learn growing up. Dividing up time in poly is often the most difficult, it’s important to use your time wisely and well, because it is so limited just by life itself. And that goes for non-poly relationships, too. One of the easiest ways to counter starvation economics thinking, when one is being rational and not in the middle of an emotional freak out, is to remember that having more kids in a family doesn’t mean you love the first (or second, or third) less than the newest edition. Love and affection do not run out, they only grow.
“It is impossible for anyone to predict what depth of feeling may potentially exist in any sexual relationship.” (158) “Relationships change, people grow out of them, people change.” (166) “Remember that your soon-to-be-ex-partner is still the same terrific person you used to love. (171) These quotes are about the inevitable changes of people and relationships. You cannot predict when you will fall in love, or out of love. You cannot predict how long a relationship will last, or how it could change. Some relationships last lifetimes, some a few days. Sometimes people fall in love, get married, fall out of love, get divorced and then are the best of friends. Sometimes people never speak again after a relationship is over, sometimes they become play partners or close friends. Sometimes people don’t speak for a year or more after a break up, and then get married a few years down the line. Life is crazy, people and situations change. It can get a bit quantum sometimes – things defined by the way they are observed, even though they are in an ever-changing or undefinable state.
“To be an ethical slut, you need to have very good boundaries that are clear, strong flexible, and, above all, conscious.” (117) This quote is about being clear about yourself and your boundaries. You need to know your boundaries, discuss your boundaries and make sure everyone involved is clear and accepting of them. Some think that poly people have no standards, no boundaries, they just do whatever they want. But that’s not sustainable. You have to take care of yourself and your relationships, or neither will last.