June 10th, 2014

progressing

for assertive/exuberant/forceful people: some notes on avoiding accidental coercion/pressuring

If you have a forceful personality (like me), tend to get very exuberant about things you want, and/or get very down about your disappointments, it can be difficult to keep these tendencies from running over other people's needs, especially if those people are invested in your happiness. Note: if you tend to get your way without negotiating, or if you ever assume that someone should do something that you want, you may be running over other people's needs. My examples are sex but this applies to all interactions; stuff like going to an event, making a shift in your relationship, etc.

My number one suggestion is, if it is something you really want, make a mental habit to double-check when you get your way. This can happen first in your head -- yay they said yes! this means time to double-check. Do they seem as excited as I am about it? If yes, great, move forward! If they are ANY less excited than me, look at how I asked*, look at their body language, look at their phrasing. If it all matches up with go-time**, move forward. If not, open up the chance for them to decline*** by saying something like "you seem a little hesitant, is there something else you want to do right now?" or "what are you feeling?" or even "are you sure? we could always do [alternate choice]!" (that last one you need to say with happiness for it to be useful). If you discuss it and don't end up feeling like they are sure they want it, don't do it. Better to avoid an experience that turns out to be unwanted, even if that sometimes means you mistakenly miss out on an experience that was wanted.

And, frankly, better to only do things when people clearly state that they want it than to have murky communication as the default mode. I know some people would not be able to have sex in this case, but it's not your job to make sure other people have sex, it's your job to make sure you never violate someone's boundaries. If someone wants to have sex but is hesitant about the kind/boundaries/etc, that can be negotiated, but if you want to make sure you don't violate them, you can't have sex with them if they are unsure that they want it to begin with.

*did you ask with an easy way for them to decline? For example, did you say "can we get sexy?/ will you go to this party with me?" or "I'd love to have sex with you tonight / I'd love if you came to this party." The first is a yes/no and it is REALLY hard for many people to give a flat no. So anything that is not a yes or other excited affirmative, treat it as a no. The second is better, in my experience, because people can share their own feelings in return, instead of being pushed into having to do it or say no. Sideways-no is much easier for most people to say.

**go-time body language and phrasing differs for everyone, but some things that in my experience are clear signs of reluctance (thus NOT go-time) are closed-off body (arms or legs crossed, leaning away, toes or shoulders or face pointed away from you, physical barriers like knees or pillows in the way, not making eye contact) or answers like "okay" or "sure" instead of yes/yeah. If you're not good at noting body language, practice and double-check with words, or just use words.

***the more chances you give someone to decline, the more sure you can be that they want what you want.

More in-depth explanation on how to be careful with sexual consent specifically.
vivacious

Playing By Heart screened w new people/ time at Sanctuary/ poly, mono, & friendship

This weekend was very busy with social things but I didn't get overwhelmed and crash! Saturday I got up very late and Topaz made us breakfast (sprouted grain bagels with goat cheese and fresh-picked spinach and grilled bell peppers and egg and chipotle sauce) and we drank coffee together. I had wanted zir to come to the Saturday events (watching my favorite movie followed by Kyle's birthday party) but ze was feeling exhausted and in need of down time so ze chose not to go.

I was disappointed but also happy to realize that I didn't feel like going out and being social on my own would drain me. This is the first time in a very long time that that has been true, and I think the reason for this change is that I feel super safe and cozy with Kei-Won-Tia and Heather, and affectionate toward Kyle, Christo, Kylei, and Brian, who were also coming. Coyote was also going which made me nervous because I feel sure ze dislikes me now that Kylei and I broke up, but I still felt safe.

So we watched Playing By Heart, and I didn't really get a chance to discuss it with anyone, but I got some initial senses about people's reactions. I felt that Kei-Won-Tia resonated with Joan (who is like 90% me) and several other characters. I wasn't sure which parts Kyle and Heather resonated with but I felt like they definitely connected with the core of it. I am unsure about Brian and Christo, but would like to know their thoughts too. Coyote hated Joan, to the point of wishing zir dead, which made me feel incapable of pointing out places where I especially resonated, or saying anything really. I felt disturbed that Kylei (the only one who had seen it before) seemed to be agreeing, because a lot of the things I love about Joan are also true about Kylei. Coyote also seemed to think that one of the love stories was ridiculous because the two didn't interact for much time, which made me see it in a new light. It still makes perfect sense to me though because when you're really looking, it is the easiest thing in the world to fall in love, and all it takes for me to tell if a deep connection is possible is a long hug or long eye contact.

After this we started playing Imaginiff (a board game that I actually like because it's all about asking questions and getting to know people) but Kyle (whose birthday we were celebrating) wasn't into it so we put it away after only a few turns. There was a clash between Kyle and Kei-Won-Tia after which Kei-Won-Tia started feeling ill and went to bed. I felt concerned but not yet comfy enough to barge in without invitation. But the rest of the evening was fun and I felt like Kyle and I connected a lot over the evening; we talked about Douglas Adams and ADD and other things, and I feel like we can be friends. I only interacted a little with Christo but I thought ze was pretty awesome for reacting with good humor to people poking at zir masculinity. I feel safer around people who don't guard their gender aggressively because I feel it means they are less likely to try to police other people in that way.

I went from there to Topaz' and hung out while ze cleaned for a while and then we went on the front porch to be near the rain, and talked about my experiences that evening and somehow moved into talking about poly. I occasionally get hit with a wave of worry that because ze's monogamous, when we break up ze won't be my soulfriend and cuddle buddy any more. Ze's assured me that ze wants that as much as I do, but I still get scared sometimes because I really don't understand rules in relationships and they make me uncomfortable. The idea of two people being in love but not being together for some external rule (a partner says no, or it would endanger their identity, stuff like that) is so horrifically sad to me; that's the entire reason I'm poly. I expressed this and added that with poly people, there's a pretty fine line between friend and lover so I don't feel worried I'll get shut out after a breakup. Ze said this fine line feels to zir like one category so it's either "friends and maybe lovers" or "acquaintances but no closer." I've definitely felt that myself before but I think that not valuing/prioritizing friendship is a problem with poly and mono people alike. (the only people I regularly feel a resonance with on the valuing of friendship are asexual people) Logically, I know Topaz and I will continue to be friends because we both do value friendship highly and we prefer to work shit out rather than avoid. But we haven't broken up before so I still feel the need for reassurance sometimes.

The main reason I'm not even casually looking for another romance is that right now, I have so many relationships that are just budding or in recovery, and I don't want to take time from building those connections to focus on a new romance. I feel like I'm finally recovered enough from depression that it would be possible for me to fall in love with a new person, but that's not what I want right now. I feel so excited and happy about spending more time with my friends and I feel so encouraged about long-term friendships. That's what I want to do with my relational energy.

Sunday was disappointing because everyone cancelled on the crafty party, but like I told Topaz when ze exclaimed at my calm response, at least 90% of my friends have anxiety, depression, physical disability and/or ADD. I expect frequent cancellations because a lot of the time you can't predict what you're going to be up for. Topaz and I crafted and took turns reading "The Mer-Child" to each other, which was adorable and fun. Ze left to watch Cosmos but I was in the zone and kept crafting for another 3.5 hours. I've now finished the tedious part of my new project and the next step is fun ;-) Also, Kylei and Heather offered to come visit and craft with me this week, so I'm looking forward to that.