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Polyamory

So as to not take over the other thread.

I do have emotional relationships.  If something happened and I or my partner wasn't able to have sex, I could work around that.  If our emotional/intellectual relationship diminished, it'd be over.  For me, the "connection" is the most important thing.  Sex is important to me, but it isn't defining - although bad sex will end a budding relationship.  I can usually tell by kissing styles.  I tend to work on the "connection" with people who I think will be good sex partners, so it goes hand-in-hand.  In a relationship, for me, what makes us "us" is the overall bond.

I avoid casual sex.  There's a high probability of first-time sex being bad because partners aren't in tune with what the other person likes.  I'm likely to be sexually monogamous, because for sex to be good (for me) it takes a few times with the same person and that wanders into emotional monogamy space.  However, I don't feel necessarily tied to either casual sex or monogamy.  

I dunno why I don't have a problem with open-ish relationships.  If people continue this dicussion, it may help me put it in words.  

I'll be honest, if I found out that my partner wasn't able to have sex, I would probably end the relationship, provided it wasn't a marriage or a relationship that had been going on for several years.  Because having good sex is one of my criteria for a relationship.  I mean, when you reallllly break it down, a boyfriend without sex or kissing or cuddling is just a guy friend.  Think about it.  It's a best guy friend.  Maybe I just can't tease out the differences yet, but to me, a romantic relationship is defined by having an awesome connection AND wanting to devour that person sexually.  You know? 

OK, so you say that you don't have casual sex because you don't feel like sex is as good without some commitment.  Some personal commitment to getting to know that person in a sexual manner.  I understand that.  But that is still an emotional commitment.  If you care about pleasing that person sexually, then you have some sort of emotional investment in that person.  I think it must be very, very rare that people could have repeated sex while still seeing each other merely as sexual receptacles.  Biology contradicts that.  At some point, (one of) you will build an attachment through the oxytocin and other hormones released during sex.  I'd honestly question the sexual/mental well-being of anyone who didn't build some attachment.

I mean, I get the idea.  That was GC.  I really didn't care for GC romantically--like, I rejected any advances in the direction of a relationship--and we still had good sex.  But that wasn't healthy in the long term.  I mean it was fun but, meh.  Totally unfulfilling.  I did it because I didn't feel like I had the mental/emotional capacity or desire for a relationship at the time, at least not with him.

So then, when you are in an open relationship with more than one partner, where does all that fit in?  That's what I don't get.  If my partner wasn't fulfilling my needs, then I would either work to correct it or end the relationship--not seek it elsewhere.  That hints at communication problems, to me.  I mean, what else?  Are people bored?  I don't know, I think that open-relationships are a cop-out or a way to avoid commitment.  Sorry, I just do.

I guess my main question is (going back to my first paragraph), how is a romantic relationship without sex different than just a best-friendship?

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Here, I'm making a checklist for myself to help illustrate what I mean:

Best friend behaviors and feelings:
- trust/secrets
- nicknames/terms of endearment
- shared values and/or respect for each other's values
- physical attachment (hugs, cuddling)
- personal investment in that person's success and well-being (a kind of love I guess)
- missing them when they are gone

Romantic partner behaviors and feelings:
- trust/secrets
- nicknames/terms of endearment
- shared values and/or respect for each other's values
- physical attachment (hugs, cuddling)
- personal investment in that person's success and well-being
- missing them when they are gone
- sexual desire and behaviors
- attraction to physical characteristics

So, these are my own personal lists for my best friends and my romantic partners.  The only different part is the last two--the sexual parts.  

As a thought exercise, I thought of a past boyfriend and thought, what if we had all those traits but the last two.  Honestly, that person would have been a good friend, not a past boyfriend.  See?

For me, sex is the defining trait.  And sex is pretty fluid--I just mean, sex which fits your needs.  That could be just lots of cuddling or kissing or sleeping together or whatever it may be.

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I hope rdust or bp chimes in here.

I categorize sex.  Sometimes sex is about sharing with and pleasing your partner on a higher level.  Sometimes sex is about getting off.

Not in addition to a relationship, but in general, what about a f-buddy?  It's someone for whom a person might have affection, but not deeply developed emotions - an aquaintance with whom sexual behaviors are practiced.  I see grey areas.  I think, if I had a good friend with whom I shared an interest and we ended up having sex, we could have sex once, it would be in the relationship category of sex, but it wouldn't necessarily have to happen again or affect our friendship.  It would be more than just getting off, but without the associated emotions weighted so heavily.  That's projecture on my part, but I think it would be true.

My example about not being able to have sex was premised (in my head, but not in the post) on a long-term relationship.  If someone got sick or injured, I would be there with them.  If the communication and bond was damaged, which led to a lack of sex/no sex, the root of that would be in the dissolution of the bond so, in that case, it would be an issue.

I'm highly sentimental.  I agree with you.  If I were to have a repeat partner, the sentimentality would develop.  I don't have a lot of answers for you because I'm prone to monogamy, but it's not a big deal to me if my partner engages in getting off category sex with other people.  I don't think it says anything about me.

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so if you have a sexual desire for your best friend then they are no longer your best friend?

...or if you think they are attractive?

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like i said in the other thread before i realized hh started this one, sex isn't important to me.

but i find that i like first sexual experiences the most since i like variety and change and the first time you are with someone everything is still exciting and electric.  you don't know what is about to come.

because i don't care about sex and have a really low libido, i get bored with it so easily.  it must be ultra exciting in order for me to be into it.

trust me, my sex life is nothing to brag about.  especially now that i'm on SSRIs.  my anxiety lowered my libido more from the low level it normally was, and then my SSRI made it almost disappear all together.

in order for me to feel  >:D, it has to be exciting.  i can do that with brittney, yes, but the issue with that is that she is the total opposite.  she doesn't like change in sex at all.  it only works for her if it's the same every time.  that's why i got her to join an adult play group with me so that we could go and play together in a more exciting area.  public + sex swing = HOTHOTHOT!  most of the time, though, it's the "normal", what brittney wants, roll around in the bed, privacy of our own room sex.  which is why usually brittney gets hers and i don't get mine.

also, to me, sex is easier without lots of emotions.  since my anxiety set in it has become way harder for me to focus.  when you're with someone you love (and who loves you) you have so much more to consider.  for one, it is making love (which is different, i agree) so you must make sure that even in the roughest sex, there are tender things like eye gazes and saying "i love you"s.  you care about more than just getting each other off.  in that case, not climaxing is okay.  with a one night stand climaxing is pretty much the point.

with all of those emotions, i cannot focus.  which means good emotions and bad.  what if i was mad at brittney earlier?  while she's doing her thing i might start thinking about how i was mad just a few hours ago.  totally not sexy.  i cannot stop these thoughts anymore because of my anxiety and inability to multitask.

with someone you don't love (in that way) and who also isn't in love with you, it's easier (for me, anyways).  i don't have to think about feelings or emotions.  i don't care if i was ever mad at them.  i'm just super into it because of how mysterious and new and exciting it is.

i tend to get bored sexually after a few months of having sex with someone.  not that they are not good.  brittney is awesome and knows what she does and does it very well.  and one of my exes was incredible but i still got bored.

doesn't mean i don't love brittney.  i do.  which might be why it's hard for me since i do have so many more emotions wrapped up in her which makes it more complicated... but i would have more fun with sex either doing it with her somewhere/some way that is more exciting or with someone else (plus brittney OR minus brittney). 

i'm monogamous with brittney.

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i don't agree with the idea of "emotional cheating" or "emotional monogamy".

you can't control your emotions.  if you could, that would be a way to prove the argument that gay is a choice.
or any other "alternative" relationship lifestyle, for that matter.  and what if you have a crush on someone?  is
that considered "emotional cheating"?  i'm pretty sure we'd all be cheaters eventually if it was.

if you could control your emotions then you wouldn't ever feel heartbroken because you
could just chose to turn it off.

who would willingly be heartbroken?

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and i feel that most social things (including monogamy) have been instilled by society.

our closest related animal relatives (primates) are definitely NOT monogamous.

and not ALL humans are, either.  there are several societies where monogamy is not the normal way of doing things.

monogamy is big in areas where religions that practice monogamy (like christianity) are widespread.

it's just what you grew up knowing as "right".

and if you have those feelings, you are expected to silently feel guilty and repress it.

i agree that sexuality is fluid... which is exactly why i believe the way i do.

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so if you have a sexual desire for your best friend then they are no longer your best friend?

...or if you think they are attractive?

No!  

I mean, if I had sustained sexual desires for a best friend, I would start to question whether I wanted that person as more than a friend.  And if we had sex, we would have some discussing to do.

Regarding the emotional monogamy: no, you can't control your emotions.  You control your actions.  If the emotions for the other person start to outweigh the emotions for the current person, you have the wrong one.  And I do think it's that simple.

So what I'm gathering is, polyamory is a way to expand your sexual experiences when your current partner's sexual tastes don't match with yours.  That's pretty much what I originally thought.  That makes sense to me, on paper at least.

I take issue with the idea that monogamy is a contrived social construct.  I took a course about this in college with Cindy Hazan, who is a researcher in human attachment (I'm referencing her work in these parts that follow).  Biologically, we share many, many of the sexual characteristics of animals who are monogamous.  I can't recall them right now, and I wish I still had those notes, but to say that apes are not monogamous is just too shallow of a generalization.  More physical human traits than not point to monogamy (which isn't to say it's right or wrong, but it's just a fact).

Furthermore, marriage (read: monogamy) is universal.  And that's not a generalization, it's a studied observation.  Also, 84% of cultures allow polygamy--but pretty much exclusively as man-with-many-wives arrangements.  Not what we are talking about here.  Overwhelmingly, societies are monogamous.  The only big non-monogamous societies I can think of here in the United States are Christian ones, ironically.  I don't know any others besides communes and the like.

Also, I do not have guilty feelings I repress because society told me they are wrong.  I really take issue with the notion that I am a victim of the social construct of monogamy.  I don't think any of us, as veg*ns, are inclined to do what society tells us to just because it's "right."  Again, if I had strong emotional feelings about another person, I would be pro-active about it and re-evaluate the relationship, which has happened to me.  None of this "repressing feelings of guilt" business, no.

I also think the idea of polyamory sounds good on paper, but I haven't read the details of someone who has actually done it.  I know they are out there, so perhaps I should do some reading.  It still sounds to me like it is something to do when you want to get your emotional needs at one place and your sexual needs at another.  I'd rather find the person who gives me both and make that my standard.  

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Isn't what we're talking about basically like, Playboy mansion?  Without the commoditization of women's bodies and fake boobs all that garbage?  I mean, Hef has three girlfriends at a time (right now I think it's a pair of twins and some other chick).  I guess that's an example of polyamory at work.  (Serious!  Don't you think?)  

He thinks, well, Kendra has the lean figure, but Bridgette has the best boobs/ass, and Holly can hold conversation.  For example.  So he'll take all three.  But Holly is like his main girlfriend figure.

I think that's the same thing as what we are talking about, and I'm being sincere here.  Thoughts?

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(Serious!  Don't you think?) 

He thinks, well, Kendra has the lean figure, but Bridgette has the best boobs/ass, and Holly can hold conversation.  For example.  So he'll take all three.  But Holly is like his main girlfriend figure.

I think that's the same thing as what we are talking about, and I'm being sincere here.  Thoughts?

I agree. I didn't see this thread before I posted in the other.

However, I don't agree with the idea that if my partner couldn't have sex anymore, I would leave. I used to think that I wouldn't be able to sustain a relationship (happily) without lots of sex, and I had a fairly long term relationship with someone that wasn't very healthy, but was very good, sexually. I thought that I would never be happy without that aspect.

BUT P and I have had to have breaks in our sexual life, due to different circumstances, but I've definitely adjusted, and adapted, and we are happier than ever. If a time came up (during one of the "breaks") when one of us felt like something was a bit off/missing, we just talked about it, and figured it out. I now feel like sex is secondary to everything else, but is definitely closely tied in to the whole relationship. Emotional closeness is obviously extremely important, and is closely related to sex (for me). Physical closeness (with or without sex) is also important. I guess I'm just saying that I feel as if I've evolved from sex focused, to just feeling strong in the relationship, as a whole.

I'm not saying that "crushes," or some sort of feeling/emotion are not going to arise for other people (when in a monogamous, happy relationship), because we obviously can't control our chemistry/attraction, but we can control our actions, and working through the feeling. (I feel like someone already said something similar to this, but I didn't read the whole thread, closely) If P told me he wanted to branch out, and try an open relationship (which I know he is definitely against), I would feel like there was something missing that he wanted to fulfill. Not because I'm insecure in myself, or our relationship, but I just can't grasp why else he (or anyone) would want someone else, other than to fulfill something..that he/she is not otherwise receiving.

I know that people can have sex with others who they don't love/feel an emotional bond to, but I don't understand why you would want to have sex (or any other type of relationship) with another person...if you are already happy and fulfilled in your current relationship. I think (some of you, and Cali) are saying that you wouldn't love your partner any less, but you want to give more love...to others. BUT WHY?

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I also think the idea of polyamory sounds good on paper, but I haven't read the details of someone who has actually done it.  I know they are out there, so perhaps I should do some reading.  It still sounds to me like it is something to do when you want to get your emotional needs at one place and your sexual needs at another.  I'd rather find the person who gives me both and make that my standard.  

yes you have.  i posted about my ex, heidi.  we had a wonderful relationship for the most part.  we got physical and emotional needs met through each other but we were not physically or emotionally monogamous.  mostly we just casually dated people outside of our relationship, but we each had at least one actual relationship with others while we were together.

the thing that most people end up getting stuck on in this is jealousy and insecurity.  heidi and i were very open and honest.  neither of us were jealous or insecure.

we almost married and only didn't because we weren't able to make it across the border into canada (we were in michigan at the time).  we got tattoos to show our love instead.  we have a beautiful daughter named layla (who will be four tomorrow!).

we were together for a few years.  i think it was my most functioning relationship i have ever had.  i've never been with someone as honest as she was.  we could truly connect and be totally open about everything because we had no fear of the other flipping out.  to us, honesty is the most important thing.  i knew i could tell her anything i felt about anyone else and i would never have to pretend the feelings weren't there, hide them, or feel guilty because she would understand and support any choice i made.

we were both very safe and always got tested in between partners.  (just because we were open, that doesn't mean that we slept around with everyone!)  

we eventually broke up, but it was nothing to do with any of this.  it was just that we started grinding on each other's nerves.  now we are best friends and think of each other as sisters more than ex girlfriends.  that works better with the layla thing.  at least her "divorced" parents love each other and will always enjoy being around her and each other (unlike mine... yikes!).

she's married to a boy and is monogamous and hating it.  she feels quite trapped and although he wanted the monogamy, he's cheating on her because he really isn't pro monogamy... just pro his-wife's-monogamy.  

i'm monogamous to brittney, but i'd be happier if we had an open relationship.  i think it would improve our relationship and a lot of the stress, jealousy, and insecurity that already exists would be lifted if it was done right.  i wouldn't attempt this, though, because with brittney there really isn't a way to do it "right" so that she wouldn't be jealous.  but if she could get past it, we would have a level of trust, compassion, and honesty that we have never experienced before.

i have to go to work.

talk later... although i might not be able to do much of this debate thing since my anxiety makes me unable to really handle stress.  i'll try.

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I didn't forget about this thread!  I have to collect my thoughts first.  Hopefully, I'll have a contribution tomorrow.

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I think (some of you, and Cali) are saying that you wouldn't love your partner any less, but you want to give more love...to others. BUT WHY?

because some people love more than one person.  it's called polyamory.  broken down it means multiple love. 

debating polyamory makes about as much sense as debating homosexuality.  it's all about human love and human sexuality and the way people are born, the way they feel, and the way that they live. 

it's true to say that i cannot control my feelings but i can control my actions... but if i am not a monogamous person (which obviously i'm not) then that's similar to telling a gay person that it's okay to be gay as long as they don't act on it.  as long as that gay person lives a non gay lifestyle, then it's okay.

i'm not saying that this gives me a green card to cheat on my wife.  absolutely not.  i never would.

but i'm saying that a polyamorous person living a monogamous life might eventually feel like a gay person living a straight life. 

i would not be happy married to a man in the same sense that i'm not sure i'd be happy spending a lifetime supressing my feelings for others.

i don't really understand the "debate" aspect here.  we're talking about a lifestyle.  what is there to debate?
if you are wanting to understand, then i'm cool with answering questions.  but some of you aren't seeming receptive.
i'm talking about my personal experiences and past relationships... i'm trying to answer questions to help you understand
how i feel and what it's like.  i'm not trying to convert you to polyamory or anything.  but, i don't see what there is to debate.

i know this is probably coming off abrasively... but i just don't understand this debate.

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and i think another reason why the sex thing is different for me is because i don't feel a connection through sex.  i can have the most amazing sex with the love of my life, but i'm not going to feel as connected to her as i would by having an amazing conversation using our brains instead of our cooters.

...which is why i do not equate love with sex or sex with love.

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I stuck it on the debate board because it's a "deeper" discussion than chit chat, not because it's an actual debate.  Chit Chat is more about the color of your favorite bedsheet (deep red, for me) and things like that.  I think that people are just poking and proding from one perspective to have people explain monogamy/polyamory from another perspective, not to challenge it.

Like, I think it's awesome that people are okay to go through life without the (perceptual, perhaps) security of knowing that a single person has their back all the way.  I'm curious about what makes that possible, because it seems a bit Buddhist to me about letting go of possessions.  Not that any of that has to be discussed, but it's more about understanding than challenging.

On the other hand, I don't understand how sex outside of a relationship challenges the strength of that relationship.  If someone had sex before they were in a relationship with me and sex with other people when we were first dating, why would it challenge my relationship if (s)he had continued to have sex with other people months or years into our relationship?  Again, Im not challenging it, just curious.

Like, one of the things I learned was perhaps the people who monogomous bond strongly through sex and the people who are polyamorous bond strongly through the mind.  I understand that there's a crossover there, but the emphasis is on those two categories.  That understanding may help me someday, so I'm glad we've discussed it to the extent that we have.

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I would like to say that just because I disagree with an idea, or don't understand the concept, does not mean that I am not receptive to listening to other viewpoints. I'm also obviously (I think) not trying to change anyone, just "debating" to learn more about the other side. This goes for all debates. There are some times when I feel really strongly about something, and I'm not necessarily trying to learn more about what I don't agree with, but listening, and having my "voice" heard (honey debate, for example). In this case, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea.

I don't know that I agree about the comparison to homosexuality, but I'll have to think about it more to talk about it.

I'll BE BACK.

Oh, hh, let's see..

curious about what makes being with one person possible? Or...? Explain that, and I'd like to talk about it.

I don't agree with your statement about monogamous people bonding strongly through sex, and polyamorous through mind...
I know you said there's crossover, but I don't agree with that blanket statement. I guess I'm not even thinking about this related to SEX. Monogamous or not, I'm just thinking about the bond that two people have with each other. I'm just trying to understand the need/desire to have that bond (more than a friendship) with another person, if one is already completely fulfilled and happy with one person. Honestly, it just seems like (what kmk was saying) I want to take this, and this from this person, but this person has this, etc. I don't understand it, otherwise, and that's what I want to know. I'm not saying "WHY?" like..."why are you like that? what's wrong with you?" I mean it like..why the desire to have more than one person?

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Yeah, we're not really "debating".....I mean no one is saying "Don't live your life that way!"

I just wanted someone to explain it to me because it's so outside my realm of experience, and I don't get it.

On the other hand, I don't understand how sex outside of a relationship challenges the strength of that relationship.  If someone had sex before they were in a relationship with me and sex with other people when we were first dating, why would it challenge my relationship if (s)he had continued to have sex with other people months or years into our relationship?  Again, Im not challenging it, just curious.

Well, the other people before/after don't matter because you weren't there.
Really, it matters by definition.  If a boyfriend and I live our relationship in such a way that sex is important for building intimacy and that it's something only we share (because we define it that way), then having sex with another person becomes a betrayal of that bond.  
And I know that if I slept with someone else, my partner would be hurt and angry, and vice versa.  It's a raw emotion.  It just happens instinctively.  

Sorry, I think the idea that monogamous people bond through sex and polyamorous people through the mind is way off.  All of my monogamous relationships have emotional/intellectual bonding as a precursor to sex.  I think it's more like this:

friends and loved ones: emotional bonding
monogamous partners: emotional and physical bonding, both
polyamorous partners: each partner has a different piece of the emotional and/or physical bonding.

I'll echo AC's sentiment and say that we can just discuss the pure "more than one love" aspect of it.  Now, to me, none of the cases we've described have been legitimately more than one LOVE.  They have been love with more than one.....fling.  Or like AC said, you see something else in some other person that you want, so you feel like you want that too.  Like, there are plenty of things that my partner and I don't have in common.....and I fulfill them with friends and other people.  But the things we do have in common, we build on them and enrich them.  You know?  Like, I wouldn't feel like something was missing if I didn't get xyz from this person and abc from that person.  

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I feel emotional sentiment way deeper then the physical sentiment.  If I’m in love with someone, if sex wasn’t possible for some reason, there’s always ways around that.  I can’t imagine giving up on a partner for lack of sex.  I’d be so emotionally miserable – that no amount of sex could ever compensate for.  On the flip side, a deep emotional connection could easily compensate for lack of sex.

From a guy’s perspective, I’m not sure there *is* such a thing as “bad sex” hehehe.  

My brain doesn’t necessarily connect “sex” with “love”.  Even within the confines of a committed relationship, I love the person for their heart, soul and spirit but when being intimate – it’s their body I’m f******.  I could have sex w/no emotional connection whatsoever and sometimes there’s the inbetween, where I feel emotions for someone, but not “relationship type emotions”, rather friendship and intimacy emotions – and still enjoy sex very much, w/that person.

I see eye to eye with RD, the public/sex thing would be hot. I’ve never explored such notions but it’s stuff I’ve thought about (being a sort of exhibitionist at heart anyhow).  I guess it makes sense because similar to our tastes in wanting to try and explore different types of foods, that part of our respective personalities probably carries over into many aspects of our lives, whether it be food, sex, whathaveyou. I don’t think that means something is necessarily missing from our lives or our respective relationships – rather it’s just part of who we are in how we approach the world (we like, and get off from “experience”).  The more excitement that may exist in a situation – the more it proportionally can intensify the given experience.  

I agree that one cannot reasonably control their emotions – and in fact, the more one tries – the more their emotions probably work against them.  But, one can control how they act on their emotions – difficult as it may be at times.

For me, I could easily have sustained sexual desires for someone w/o having to question why I have those desires.  To me it would boil down to quite simply – I find them sexually alluring, regardless of the nature of my emotional relationship w/that person – this is probably due to the fact that my brains separates the two – sex and emotions.

I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that overwhelmingly – societies are monogamous.  I think it’s accurate to say that overwhelmingly – societies follow a mandate of conducting themselves in a monogamous type manner – but if you were to factor in everything that goes on behind closed doors – I wonder how much closer to the truth we’d actually get?

The bottom was, is and will continue to be that people are just…wired differently.  We can throw whatever labels we wish onto that wiring “i.e. if someone behaves in such and such fashion – well this and that must be missing from them” but in the end – it’s all just labels, presumptions and inaccurate projections of our inner sanctum onto the world around us – which quite simply – doesn’t work.  I think it makes more sense to respect that people think, talk, walk, do, act different, we won’t (and don't have to) understand why, we don’t have to presume anything is missing or off-center, we just live our lives, let others live their lives and move on about the world.

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When HH first said something about casual safe sex being healthy (what thread was that?) I found it profound and I think I even said it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. Read?

I think a relationship like that could be great if both parties felt that way.
Personally, I am not emotionally mature enough for that type of relationship, but I certainly respect and admire those who choose it.
I had a college BF who subscribed to that way of thinking, but at the time, I just couldn't grasp it.
Today, if I were single without children, it might work for me, but I would not want to give up monogamy in my current relationship (11 year marriage).

In my  next life, I plan on being in a polyamorous (?) relationship with HH.

That's all.

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:)>>>

We are going to have a fabulous next life with our partners!

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I have a lot to say.  Sometime if we're all in chat I put it all there.  It'd be easier.

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