Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tristan Taormino--Opening Up

The Cunning Minx at Polyamory Weekly (Responsible Non-Monogamy From A Kink-Friendly, Pansexual Point Of View) interviews Tristan Taromino on her new book, Opening Up--A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships. I think this podcast was 30 minutes long and it's a good one. Here is the link to it, podcast #159.

Also, if you listen to the podcast or check our her livejournal by clicking on The Cunning Minx link above, you will find the offer code coupon secret word to enhance your shopping pleasure Adam & Eve for 50% off your purchase.

Tristan says:
"So much of open relationships is challenging and about letting go of expectations."
She talks about how her interest used to mainly focus on the sex and now her focus is on the people who are having the sex.
"Who are these people that run in these non-monogamous circles?"
She interviewed 126 people from all over the country, from all types of backgrounds and it's their voices that drive the book. Her purpose is to offer practical hands on advice on polyamory and other non-monogamous relationship styles. One thing that she offers in the book is identifying different particular styles of non-monogamy. She has created an outline to help people conceptualize their own relationships and to fill in the details for themselves. She has done her research and lays out all the different ways to do non-monogamy without the rules of coloring within the lines.

One section in the book offers a variety of new relationship structures along with the pitfalls of each relationship style. These are just a few:
*partnered non monogamy--two people who are partnered, committed to one another with their partnership at the center.

*mono/poly combo--one partner ismonogamous and the other is polyamorous. This is a common but very under represented group.

*solo poly--this may be a temporary situation such as when all of a person's energy is devoted to grad school, or raising their children or it might be a lifetime commitment. These people don't want to be in a couple by choice.
The solo poly is an interesting style in our society in that most people naturally tend to couple and we don't understand people who aren't in a couple. She offers a quote from her book from a woman with multiple partners but no primary partner:
"I struggle with the stories I was told while growing up about what it means to have a fulfilling life."
Don't we all struggle with this? We need to challenge these old worn out messages from parents, peers, t.v., society...

One message of the book is that everything is an option. There are also monogamous people represented in the book. People who have gone from monogamy to polyamory and vice versa, from polyamory to monogamy. The point is for you to custom design your relationship for you and for the people you are involved with.

Do do this we need to question the norms, actively and consciously, to make our own choices. She encourages us to not do monogamy by default, simply because it's expected of us. Any decision we end up making is fine. One way isn't better than the other. Monogamous or poly, doesn't matter. What matters is that we do it consciously. Also, to remember that the choice we make may be "for now", whether it is poly or mono, straight or queer, the choice is for now.
People change.
Don't do monogamy by default.

Ah, that reminds me of one of the lessons by my teacher, Abraham. It covers all aspects of our life--living actively, consciously, mindfully. Living on purpose.

In the interview Minx mentioned that she had read that Tristan doesn't like the word bi-sexual, and Tristan admits that she doesn't. She says she identifies as queer and equal opportunity. She says that the strict definition of being bi-sexual is: that you love and have sex and are romantic with people of both, two genders, male and female. The problem with this is that she believes there are more than two genders. Using the word bi-sexual reinforces this gender binary and what she is interested in doing is totally disrupting and challenging this construct. She says there are multiple gender expressions and gender identities. When will this be a mainstream obvious?
"Being queer is not just about who I love and who I have sex with. It about my culture, my community, my politics, it's about the way I see things and the way I walk in the world...Queer just feels so much more inclusive to me."
There is a lot of kink represented in the book. She says, "the great thing about kinky people and open relationships is that it's about the community. It's part of S/M culture. Sometimes it's about mentoring--playing with someone, learning skills from them. Kinky people have more clearly defined roles. Partners have a very specific niche, a unique role that they fulfill in a particular relationship and in doing this, kinky people tend to feel very secure in where they are in their relationships. In the kinky community, people's different needs are more readily recognized."

For monogamous people who have strong passions in their life, if these passions don't match with their potential partner's passions, it's easier for this to cause a rift in the relationship, or to be a deal breaker "well you aren't the one for me." But at the center of relationships with people in open relationships is the acknowledgment that we can't be everything to everyone.

She talks of Daphne Rose Kingma's book, The Future of Love, which I have written about before. It's a book that I have referred lots of people to. Tristan says:
" Her book is critical to my thinking about open relationships. "
It totally speaks to me too. I recently pulled it off the bookshelf in my office, feeling drawn to reading it again. After a few pages in I knew I was supposed to give it to one of my friends to read who got so much out of it that he bought another copy and gave it to his girlfriend. I don't know what she got out of it. I still need to get another copy for myself so I can reread it. In this book, the author makes the point how we expect people to be 100% compatible with us--sexually, parenting style, values, to be our personal and financial institutions. The assumptions we make and want from one person is of course, totally unrealistic.

Tristan said, "It's like going to your gynecologist and asking them to perform foot surgery. Not a good idea."

And then there was a little digression about feet in the pussy...

Next week's podcast will be the second half of the interview when Tristan Taormino talks about the future of the polyamorous movement.

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