Category Archives: Advice

Causing Others To Stumble

On Christian Polyamory

Progressive Christian blogger John Shore got an email the other day looking for advice on being a polyamorous Christian. John’s written on polyamory before, and in a fairly balanced way, which makes this post particularly disappointing.

Alas, John has chosen to fall back on tired stereotypes and glib dismissal, rather than consider that a person might be struggling with a very legitimate concern. His entire advice amounts to “My insight is that you should (children: avert your eyes) stop fondling your dick through your pants pocket. You’ve got a wife. Put your attention there. I think you’re really just looking for a way to have an affair. Stop doing that.”

It’s hardly unexpected to see even the most progressive Christians equate polyamory with cheating, but still disappointing. The letter-writer is less looking for advice on how to open his marriage or negotiate two relationships at once (there are dozens of secular resources to handle this topic), and is more concerned about his standing in his Christian community. I’m especially drawn to “even though I know I am capable of loving more than one person completely and intimately, I should restrain myself out of my respect to fellow believers, so that they don’t stumble.” I know I’ve worried about this same thing myself, often.

The reference here is Romans 14, where Paul is discussing whether Christians should keep kosher. Paul knows that Jesus has changed the terms of salvation, and we no longer need keep strictly to the law in order to experience right relationship with God. Because of the expansive love of Christ, distinctions between clean and unclean no longer matter. I like thinking of Biblical cleanliness as decency; Christ’s love can enter and redeem even the most indecent of places and actions.

Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t stop there. Concerned about the health of his community, Paul first cautions against being judgmental. Live and let live, embrace all as your sisters and brothers in Christ. However, “if your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15). To best understand this Scripture, it is perhaps good for us to apply it to something other than unclean food. I imagine Paul talking about alcohol or sex, both of which can be good gifts from God, or can be abused and lead to disconnection and sin. It takes a lot of maturity and strength to be able to indulge in alcohol or sex as a glorious celebration of God’s beautiful creation, and not to pervert either of these and worship them in place of God. It is easier for some people to abstain altogether and thus retain their focus on God.

The problem comes when we live in community with one another. For those who are early in their journey, and have not yet learned to see God in all things, will the existence of alcohol or free sexual expression or other so-called “vices” distract them from developing the basic spiritual disciplines? If religious leaders are seen to indulge in these pleasures, how can the weaker members of their flock resist?

I find this interpretation patronizing and unrealistic. The statistics for the success of abstinence-only sex ed programs are telling; even though teens often lack the resources and maturity to engage in fully ethical sexual relationships, they still choose to enter them. The teens we give the least education to suffer the greatest consequences; those who have access to comprehensive education and a space to talk about the emotional and spiritual ramifications of sexual activity (as opposed to an overly physical focus on STIs and pregnancy) often choose to delay their own sexual activity, and are better able to make informed and ethical choices when they do choose to have sex.

I’d argue that this approach is necessary for all apparent vices we think would cause others to stumble. Polyamory is hard. It requires a lot of maturity and relationship skills and self-awareness, and should not be entered by just anyone. There are plenty of people who are capable of doing so, however, and it is more, not less, important that these people be able to do so and educate others about the possibility. Like teenagers who have had no practical sexual education and thus are unable to prevent pregnancy, many people who find themselves interested in more than one person are led to cheating, breakups and other negative relationship consequences. Even though every person who desires two or more people does not have the resources and ability to ethically love both people, everyone can benefit from being educated about what is actually entailed in such an arrangement. Everyone can benefit from learning to have an open and honest conversation about love and desire with one’s partner.

Being polyamorous is a part of my Christian witness. The strong family I am building with multiple partners is just as legitimate as the strong families monogamous Christians build. I am better able to minister to and offer care to people because of the lessons I learn in my family. God loves me, and God empowers me to love others without limits. There is no decent and indecent in Christ, only great love.

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How to Get Out of a Hook Up When the Guy Is Already in your Apartment

How to Get Out of a Hook Up When the Guy Is Already in your Apartment

People always ask me “David Chastity, how are you so good at kicking people out of your apartment?” Practice, really, but now Jezebel has written up this very nice piece so that I don’t have to walk you through it.

Get in the Right Mindset: 5 Ways to Avoid Bad Sex

Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.

Yes, Gentle Readers, it even happens to David Chastity. Bad sex. Sometimes you go to boink and everything goes wrong, and not in that cute “haha whoops that was my elbow, sorry!” way, but in that way where you just want to get up mid-thrust and walk into the other room and watch a movie instead. Alone. But don’t despair! There are lots of reasons Bad Sex happens, and just as many things you can do to avoid it. Let’s look at some of them:

1. Communicate.

Yes, yes, I harp on this all the time. But for a reason! We all have variations on what we like to do when we smoosh our bits together, and if you don’t develop some kind of understanding with your partner, how are you ever gonna get what you want? I have a list of things I really don’t like, and the sooner I mention that my body don’t work that way, the better for both of us. When someone tells me they really like something, I can start doing that all the time, which is fun for everyone. Beyond that, sex apparently has something to do with trust and intimacy, or at least works best when you have similar expectations of trust and intimacy levels. So if you can manage to not be in the middle of an argument with your sex partner, you’re probably gonna have nicer sex than if you both are seething inside.

2. Take Care of Yourself.

Recently, Thing One’s small children were away at grandma’s house, vastly increasing the amount of sleep and self-care Thing One was capable of. We enjoyed a quiet evening at home together, not chasing a single toddler, and by the time we made it to bed, discovered that we had all kinds of leftover energy for particularly good sex. Alas, parents of small children don’t usually get to choose to prioritize their lives for Maximum Sexual Pleasure, but all of us who don’t have to make sure a tiny person doesn’t die Every Damn Day can try harder to do things like get enough sleep and eat some decent food and maybe even exercise with our clothes on sometimes. Sex is a body thing, and the better your body feels, the better the sex will be.

3. Get in the Right Mindset.

Sex is a holy thing for me, and I’ve had some of the best sex ever immediately after meditating, worship, or prayer. I’m not saying this has to become part of your routine (it’s not actually in my normal set of behaviors, because apparently I’m too lazy to spend a minute or two preparing to have even better sex?). What I am saying is that being present and focused can do wonders. That old stereotype about a lady just laying there thinking about the grocery list while her husband pumps away? Don’t be that lady.

4. Have Some Standards.

I’m not saying you can’t take that random person from the bar home with you before you’re even quite sure what their name is. Random hookups can be great! If it’s 3 am and you’re just kind of horny and really drunk, though, it’s okay to take a dishonorable discharge. After all, you know what you’re capable of, and that desperation number in the corner could go either way. Moreover, if you HAVE hooked up with someone and it was so-so, you’d better have a good reason to go back for seconds, like strong mutual interests and shared values that set the stage for a solid long-term relationship in which you can both learn new sexual skills. One of my worst sexual experiences recently was with someone I had hooked up with before quite successfully, and then kept finding reasons to avoid based on some confusing subconscious feeling. Once I finally talked that inner voice into silence and invited Hook-Up back to my bed, it turns out that he was really bad at listening and boundaries, and I couldn’t wait to kick him out and never see him again. If only I had known that my misgivings were legitimate!

5. Do Your Research.

None of us, not even David Chastity, are born with sex therapist level skills. Did you know that sex therapists go to school for YEARS to learn to do what they do? So don’t worry if you’re sometimes the reason Bad Sex happens. We all have more things we can learn, and learning is fun! Get yourself some queer-friendly, feminist, realistic porn- the kind with real couples is the best for this purpose- and watch for ideas. Google lists of sex positions, and spend the afternoon laughing about the least practical, then go and try something that seems simple but interesting. Wander down to the local sex shop and pick out a new toy (or just talk to the clerks for a while! A fun game: find something that totally baffles you, then go ask what it does.)

Find times to casually talk about sex with your partner, if you’ve got one of those consistent partners. Sometimes it’s easier to mention what we like and don’t like away from the pressure of “and we’re about to do this!” If you’re struggling with a specific skill, look for instructional books or videos- there are tons of great resources, but Dr Ruthie’s Exploring Intimacy is one of my favorites. There’s no shame in wanting to up your game, and a patient, loving partner will probably be happy to help you work on something that will lead to both of you getting off better!

We can’t always avoid Bad Sex, but it doesn’t have to be a constant danger. And remember, you’re not obligated to finish what you start! If it’s not working for you, you can stop at literally any time- consent only lasts as long as you want it, after all. Having the self-confidence to say “I don’t want any more of this” is just as important to Good Sex as saying “I want a whole lot more of THAT!”

The Three Cs of Healthy Sexuality

Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.

I’m in this class called “Ministry and Human Sexuality” this quarter, and it’s so weird to be talking about sexual ethics with a bunch of nice, monogamous, mostly-liberal, (straight and queer) religious people instead of the sluts I’m used to. I’m openly poly in class, and no one’s given me any shit for it (because I’m damn articulate), but I’m finding a lot of the ethical material we’re reading doesn’t quite address my experience. So I sat down to name my own requirements for ethical, loving sexual practice and I’m proud to present David Chastity’s Three Cs of Healthy Sexuality:

1. Consent
2. Communication
3. Caring

These three cover everything you need to live out a healthy, loving, ethical sexual life with yourself and others, and they avoid the accusatory and prescriptive nature of many sexual ethics that imply only certain behaviors are acceptable (and only when performed by certain people).

Under “consent” comes not just “if someone says no, stop what you’re doing,” but also the ideas about power dynamics. In order to freely give consent, all parties must be on relatively equal footing. This means that certain sexual relationships are inherently more difficult to actualize ethically–relationships across races where one race historically (or currently) has more power than the other, relationships across age divides, relationships where the parties involved have a professional relationship that is not on equal footing, etc. These sorts of relationships are more vulnerable to consent being exploited, and those who seek to start such relationships should try to be aware of these issues and address them.

Even in fairly balanced relationships, we have different sexual wants and needs, and it’s essential that all sexual activity be grounded in consent. Consent is always action-specific (“Just because I said you could put your finger in my vagina doesn’t mean I consent to you putting your strap-on there.”) and time-bound (“Just because I consented to marrying you and having sex on numerous occasions over the past 30 years doesn’t mean I consent to sex right now.”). There’s a lot of debate over how verbal consent has to be, and while certainly, when in doubt, say something, I still tend to fall on the side of people who don’t talk a lot during sex. I don’t like talking, it distracts me, and I hate all the words for sex actions, and I’m super-good at nonverbal communication. So me and my partners don’t normally talk about a ton of stuff, we just go with the vibe and make noises and I’m chill with saying “no wait stop” if something’s no good. This takes a lot of trust. When in doubt, use words.

Consent isn’t just about sexual boundaries, either–a lot of the boundaries I need to establish with partners have more to do with things like “at what point in the relationship can we eat breakfast together” and “it’s not really okay to call me on Saturday mornings” than “you can put your finger here but not there.” Proper consent requires that all parties have a decent level of self-knowledge and self-love in order to identify what we really want and be able to communicate it.

Communication is a little more straight-forward and obvious. If you don’t tell someone what’s going on inside your head, the relationship isn’t going to get very far, is it? You gotta communicate both the stuff you want and the stuff you don’t want. I’m always amazed when I see those survey results where when you ask a bunch of people if they’re in an exclusive relationship, some big percentage of couples don’t agree. ‘Cause they never sat down and talked about it. So many of the problems in relationships come from mismatched expectations- if people would just say “I would like you to call me twice a week,” they’d avoid the fight three months later when Shmoopy fails to call. Don’t assume that just because you ask for something, your partner will automatically grant it (or vice versa): there’s an element of negotiation here, too. Healthy relationships give and take, and part of the excitement is working out how to best meet the needs of everyone involved.

I’m also using this to touch on all forms of communication, not just the verbal. Especially in sexual relationships, touch is such an important part of communication, and we should celebrate the state of being so in tune with a partner that we can convey whole conversations with just our eyebrows. I can name like 7 country songs about a marriage that’s falling apart because the husband and wife don’t take the time to pay attention to each other any more, which I assume is country-song euphemism for sexytimes. If you like someone, don’t just say it, do the other stuff that shows them.

Finally, I bring in caring, which is both a way to say love that keeps it in my C-based scheme and a way to get around some of the baggage we’ve stacked the word “love” with in a sexual context. I’m not talking just about whatever romantic notions abound (some of which actively violate the requirements for consent and communication!), but about the broader kind of love religious folks tend to espouse for all of humanity and/or creation. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, every person you interact with is of equal worth to you, and contains an equal divine spark. You need to honor that, and meet that equal person in loving care.

I’ve previously laid out my life-giving, ethical approach to anonymous sex, which I do think is a different kind of caring for/about a person than what we do in long-term relationships. No matter what, though, we need to care for and about ourselves and our partners, so that our sexuality can be a place of salvation for us. Caring for and loving other people heals them and us, and makes our world a better place. If you’re sexing someone without caring, you may not be doing anything wrong, but you’re certainly not increasing the good in the world.

I struggle with all of these Cs at some point or another in my sex life. I’ve been known to learn my own boundaries only after someone breaks them. I’ve been routinely awful about opening my damn mouth and saying something. I’m a frequent misanthrope who’s had to work hard to figure out how to let people down gently. The best was to try to get better at them is to apply them to yourself, in reverse order. Start from self-love (jerking off and otherwise), then learn to communicate with yourself, to name the things you love and crave. Finally, you can set your own boundaries, and ask for the things you want best, in a consensual relationship with someone else. You can’t have healthy sex without meeting some basic minimum of these 3 Cs. with yourself and your partner(s), but they also call you to a higher, better ideal.

How to Break Up With Someone

Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve earned a reputation as a skilled breaker-upper. Probably because I’ve only been dumped twice (first two relationships) and have done all the relationship-ending/getting rid of desperate sad sacks since. Because I’m picky and heartless and anti-social, and innocent boys fall for me and I can’t take it.

But I want to be a nice person, and along the way I’ve learned how not to be a jerk when you have to break someone’s heart. Fun fact: these skills translate equally well to firing someone, asking a roommate to leave your house, or really any situation when you need to change or sever a relationship. One day, I’m going to be allowed to put “polyamorous and damn good at it” on my resume as proof of my superior people skills.

Step 1: Get Clear About Why You Want to Break Up

I’m not trying to say you don’t have a good reason for breaking up, but it’s good to spend some time soul-searching first to make sure you’re not just actually miserable at work and choosing to take it out on your partner or something. You may also realize that the fight you’ve been having could be solved with a mature conversation, rather than a screaming match that ends with throwing someone’s porcelain cat collection out your fourth-floor window, so that would be a bonus.

It’s important not to rely on the partner you want to ditch to help in this soul searching. Do some journaling, talk to your besties, chat it out with another partner if they have enough distance not to cause extra drama (e.g. aren’t jealous of the one you want to ditch or happily dating the one you want to ditch). While you do this, feel free to take a little extra distance from problematic-partner — either make up excuses about being busy, or outright say, “I need to process some stuff alone; I’ll talk to you about it later,” depending on how serious your relationship is and how good you are about talking. This will help the break up feel like less of a blindside later. If you go from happy smoochy faces straight to “so we can’t do this anymore,” it’s confusing.

Step 1A: Figure Out A Less-Hurtful Way to Express Why You Want to Break Up

“His cock is too huge and he has bad taste in pizza” may be the real reason you can’t stand to spend time with your squeeze anymore, but these are bad reasons to give someone. Make up some bullshit about your own personal development if you need to, but try to articulate something that’s not a laundry list of someone’s flaws, especially those they can’t help (novelty dildo-sized dicks).

Step 2: Schedule a Time to Talk

Notice how I don’t say “send an email or text that drops the bomb.” You may do this if you are letting someone you have been on fewer than three dates with know that you would not like to continue, but after that point, you gotta sit down in person. Suck it up, you pansy. It’s called human decency.

So, how do you say, “We need to go talk somewhere so I can break up with you” without dropping the break up bomb? Just set up a low-key hangout. I’d recommend avoiding either of your homes (although if you live together, your shared home is probably the right place), and also avoiding anything that could be construed as a nice date. Coffee is perfect. If your person thinks you’re setting up coffee to lead to something more date-ish, just be vague about plans after that. Commit to coffee. Don’t buy movie tickets, don’t make restaurant reservations. Promise no more than coffee. Ideally somewhere you’re unlikely to run into your other friends, for privacy. Public places tend to help prevent drama-filled emotional blowouts, but no one wants to get dumped at the corner shop they hang out at every day. Give your soon-to-be-ex the benefit of an easy place to avoid in case it’s painful. (Or yourself, this process ain’t painless on your end.)

Step 3: Have That Conversation

This is the hardest part. It’s why Step One is so important. You need to be clear-headed and calm and rational, to help set the tone for a mature conversation. You also need to be as clear as possible- it’s normal for someone to try to negotiate a break-up and avoid the inevitable. You can start with a simple “this isn’t working for me anymore, and I think we need to end it.”

From that point, let the other person guide where things are going. Some people are going to want to process a lot with you, and it’s nice if you can sit with them through a little of that. Lay out some of the reasons you discovered in Step One. Affirm that they are a lovely person and someone else will love them, but be clear that you can’t be that person.

Above all else, be firm that this is the end. You will not have sex one last time. You will not immediately revert to being best friends. They can have their stuff back from your apartment. They will have to find someone else to go to that all-male Lady Gaga tribute band concert with. When the two of you leave this coffee shop, you will no longer be dating. Your person may simply want to go be alone anyway, so don’t force them to sit there and discuss things with you if they want to go home and cry. Neither of you is responsible for each other’s healing process, but you are both responsible for treating each other with basic respect at this moment. Talk for as long as you need (don’t let your person drag it out too long), and go home.

Step 4: Stop Dating

This is the part where you both learn not to text each other all the time. Where you put away pictures that you don’t want to look at anymore, change your Facebook relationship status, start setting up your separate lives. I’m not saying you can’t still be friends (even though I’m never friends with my exes), but being friends is different from dating. Err on the side of too much space at first. You both need to mourn, and learn to redefine your lives, and that takes some time. Even though you were the one who did the breaking up, feel free to listen to sad songs and eat ice cream and cry to your besties. Ending a relationship hurts either way. Or, you know, go out and slut it up if that makes you feel excited and empowered. The important thing is to no longer be dating that loser you wanted to get away from.

If you follow these simple steps, you too will be able to break up like a pro (i.e. me). It takes a lot more self-awareness and care and maturity than just texting “Sry. Cant be ur bf nemore. : ( Lez be friends, k?” But that’s the point of being in adult relationships, right? Treating other human beings with love and respect?

Ha, what am I talking about? Go break some hearts! Call me after and let’s party.

Five Ways Not to Be a Terrible Kisser

Note: this post originally appeared on In Our Words.

So, I’ve kissed a lot of people. And many of them are great, and some of them do things that are kind of terrible. Want to avoid their mistakes? Of course you do, that’s why you’re reading this! Check it:

1. Practice.

Unfortunately, the best way to get good at kissing is to kiss a bunch. Humans don’t come equipped with natural good kissing instincts for some reason — or maybe we do and then we overthink it and so we suck until we practice more. This piece of advice is obviously not helpful if you have no one to kiss at the moment, but I promise you if you just get someone and kiss them for an hour or so, you’ll have it all figured out. While you’re working on that, memorize my next four tips.

2. Don’t lead with your teeth.

Teeth aren’t sexy, it’s really quite inconvenient that they’re in our mouth. (I guess people who are more into biting than I am would disagree.) Confession: the very first time I made out with someone, it was all teeth and tongue. This is wrong. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, try keeping your teeth shut and focusing on lips. Once you get the part where smooshing lips together feels nice down, you can graduate to appropriate uses of tongue — and then to appropriate biting.

3. While we’re on the subject of teeth, brush your teeth.

This should be obvious. Mostly I’m mentioning it so I can bring up my favorite-ever euphemism for being in a relationship: “brushing for two.” How cute is that? And it’s poly-friendly, you can just as easily be brushing for three or five! Oral hygiene is good for makeouts, though, friends. Have a mouth that tastes nice. It’ll help.

4. Pay attention to your kissing partner’s signals.

First, you’ll need to be able to read signals to know if your person even wants to kiss you. Sure, you can ask (consent is great!), but some people are weirded out by that (boo, making consent more confusing!) and lots of people use non-verbal signals to indicate it’s smoochin’ time. Look for that increased eye contact and hand contact and moving all close, and take your moment.

And once you’ve taken your moment, keep paying attention to what your partner does. When in doubt, follow their lead. Don’t jam your tongue down their throat unless they’ve already started shoving theirs in your mouth. Don’t assume that just because you’re exploring their mouth, you get to take an expedition further south. Everyone likes kissing different ways, and you won’t know until you’re doing the kissing. So pay attention and you’re likely to do much better.

5. Don’t forget to move around a bit.

Even if you’re not pre-sex making out and thus prepping to start kissing necks, nipples, and bellies, kissing isn’t about just pushing your lips together in the same way over and over. Explore different angles and arrangements. Go off-center sometimes. According to Cosmo (yes, that Cosmo), if you lick lightly along the edge of a dude’s lip, ”it subconsciously reminds him of your tongue swirling around the tip of his penis.” So there’s that.

Kissing! It’s not really that hard, and it’s so great. (Seriously, I’m sad that, as a grown-ass adult, I can’t just make out with someone for three hours. Why do teenagers get all the makeout fun?) So, go out and grab yourself a sweetie and/or hottie and lock lips!

Just brush your teeth first. It’s only polite.

Poly Etiquette: For Poly Folks and Their Friends

Note: This post originally appeared on In Our Words.

1. What is okay about contact with other partners during time with one?

So, you’ve got more than one partner, congratulations! But where do you draw the line between them?  If you’re on a date with your boyfriend and your wife texts you, can you answer that text?  What if you and your wife are off on a romantic getaway weekend- can her girlfriend call her just to say hi?  There’s no easy answer to this, and really needs to be negotiated in each relationship. Some people are more inclined to jealousy and want some special time that’s just theirs, and some people (like me) don’t really care who you text when, as long you’re also paying attention to me.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to do exactly what you’d do if you were monogamous and the contact was coming from a friend- don’t spend your whole dinner date texting someone else, but if you’re just watching tv together, it’s probably okay to exchange a few messages. And if the partner you’re with (or the one trying to contact you when you’re not responding) gets offended, sit down and talk about it. Boundaries are best when explicitly stated.

2. Nicknames: How many pookies are you allowed to have?

Some poly people like to have a “special” category within relationships.  So, one partner is Sugartits and another is Babycham and your third is Sweetie.  I’m generally pretty against this kind of policy, and not just because of terrible nickname choices (it could also be something like “I will only eat sushi with you” or “We’re exchanging ceremonial toe rings and I will never do that with anyone else”).  Mostly I am against this because it gets to be a lot to keep in your head, and because it implies that your relationship needs some external trappings to make it special.

My partners are special to me because of who they are, not because we heard some song on the radio together once and now No One Else Is Ever Allowed To Listen To It. Implying that your Special Thing That You Do is what makes your relationship is kind of sad- so the moment you slip up during sex and say Sweetie instead of Sugartits, everything you and Sugartits had is ruined?  Unlikely.

3. How do you meet your partner’s partners?

Metamour etiquette could probably be its own huge topic, but one often nerve-wracking experience is meeting your new squeeze’s partner for the first time.  Different people have different expectations about this: some relationships are Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and you’ll never see your metamours, some people want everyone to be a Big Happy Family that spends all their time together, but most people like some balance, where metamours can enjoy each other’s company, but without the expectation that you’re going to be best friends just because you’re dating the same person.

It’s best to try to figure out what your expectations are ahead of time, and what your partner and metamour are expecting, and then to take things slow. Do something low-key the first time you meet, ideally with the middle of the vee also present, and see how you click.  Sometimes you’ll have all kinds of things in common beyond mutual attraction to a partner, and want to deepen the friendship, and sometimes you’ll just be cordial.  And sometimes one or both of you will be jealous and it will be hard to spend time together.  The important thing is to be open and honest and try your best, and avoid treating this like some big scary rivalry.  You’re both nice people, otherwise your partner wouldn’t be with either one of you.

4. How do you invite a poly person to something? A plus-three?

So, you’re pretty sure your good friend has at least three partners, and maybe those people have partners, and you definitely want your friend at your wedding, but do you have to have everyone else? Of course not, it’s your wedding! Do whatever you want!  But seriously, this can put some relationships in a more difficult place than others.  Some poly people have clear primaries and secondaries, and there’s no need to invite more than the primary if you’ve got limited space, (Note: if your space is unlimited, go ahead and make that unlimited invitation and let your friend decide).

Some are pretty close-knit triads or quads, though, and it’s not easy for the center of the vee to decide which partner to bring. In that situation, if you can make space for a plus-two, you are a Really Great Friend. It’s definitely okay to ask, though! Just let your friend know you want to invite them and the people they are close to, but you’re concerned about your guest list. If there’s one thing poly people understand, it’s balancing limited resources. Your friend might already have some agreements with their partners about who goes to what, or might not want your grandma to know they’re poly, and so may prefer to bring no one.  Asking goes a long way.

5. So really, what is it okay to ask about?

A lot of my friends are naturally curious about my relationships, and want to know more.  Many of them feel a little sheepish asking me things, though.  They don’t want to offend me, look ignorant or delve into things that aren’t their business.

Fortunately for my friends, I’m pretty much an open book in the middle of a poly circle that doesn’t know how to keep secrets. I can’t promise everyone else is like me, but it’s probably safe to ask your poly friends about relationship dynamics and who sleeps with whom and whether they experience jealousy. Don’t push for details that would be overly personal if your friend was monogamous, but you don’t have to act like you automatically know how everything works.  We know our relationships are complex.  We’re used to drawing maps for people.  It’s kind of like grandparents showing off pictures of their grandbabies: we actually love talking about the people we love, and we’re flattered you asked.

How Not to Be a Dick On OKCupid

Note: This post was originally published at In Our Words.

An infographic that’s making its way around the internet says that online dating is growing by leaps and bounds, a fact which surprises polyamorous people not at all. We love using the internet to meet new partners — because it’s much easier to screen for things like “will storm out of room crying when he finds out you’re married,” and because we don’t really have the time or interest to attend all those Singles Events I’ve seen in movies. Not to mention, you know, not being single.

But now that online dating is officially Not Just For Creeps and Weirdos, there seem to be a lot more people up in there acting like creeps and weirdos. Would you like to find True Love on the internet, or at least a solid lay? Read on, then, because David Chastity is a certified e-slut, and I’m here to help.

First off, you need to pick an Online Dating Service. Use OkCupid. I mean, I could sit here and go into all the pros and cons of various services, but unless you’re a monogamous heterosexual, only OKCupid is really set up to deal with your “alternative lifestyle.” Also it’s free, which means that it has a huge user base. I hear that this varies a bit in different cities, but it’s definitely the place to start. Also, if you’re into kink, and somehow not already on FetLife, I hear FetLife is the. place. to. be. (Thing Two set up a FetLife account for me once, I guess you can find me there, and maybe Thing Two will tell me about it later.)

So, you’ve set up your bright new shiny OKCupid account! Now what?

Well first, you need to fill out your profile. Do not underestimate this step. I have seen profiles with maybe a dozen words spread over six or seven fields, in which the user tells me, “Just ask what you want to know” and “I like to have fun.” This helps no one. At least list some bands and movies that will make you seem cool, and a hobby that’s not “sobbing myself to sleep while I masturbate because I am so very lonely.” Lie if you have to. And go ahead and tell OKCupid what you want — whether you’re interested in dudes, ladies or both, whether you’re currently in a romantic relationship, and whether you’re looking for dates. OKCupid will do this great thing where it lists single people as “single” and people who are dating someone but also open to dating other people as “available.” Keep this in mind as you’re browsing other profiles.

Now, you need some photos! Of your face, jerkwad. No one wants to talk to you online if they don’t know what your face looks like, no matter how well-lit your twelve-pack abs are. (Maybe this is different for gay men. Or ab fetishists. I don’t know.) Fortunately, OKCupid will help you choose the sexiest picture of yourself! Just head on over to My Best Face and drop in 7 or 8 options, and wait an hour or so for people to vote and tell you where you look best. You might be surprised at the results!

Now’s the part where things get interesting. If you are a 100% homosexual-identified dude or lady, I can’t really promise for you how things will go down now, but probably you will start receiving messages and you can browse and send messages to other people.

If, however, you are a person who also enjoys mixing P with V, your OKCupid experience is going to break down by gender. I hate that this is true, but it is. You can always mark your gender different to fuck with people, I guess. Anyway, if you are on OKCupid with a profile that says “female,” you will begin receiving messages. Lots of messages. From male-identified folks. Many of them will be worthless, but some will be nice! Your self esteem will soar as you feel like the sexiest belle of the ball. Everybody wants in your pants, and you could turn all of them down if you wanted. Or have sex with 18 guys in 3 days! Totally your choice.

If, however, your profile says “male,” this will never be your experience. Prepare all of those hunter instincts I read about in sexist articles and start messaging people like crazy. Thing One says it takes about 10 sent messages for one reply. Some of those replies will be, “Thanks but no thanks.” Fortunately for you, I have collected a large sample of Incoming OKCupid Messages, and I’m going to point out some of the worst mistakes so you can avoid them. (These tips are for people of all genders. And if you have any tips on how to make OKCupid be less heterosexual, I’d love to hear them in the comments!)

Terrible OKCupid Message Type One: The “Hey Ur Hott”

This is a message with fewer than 10 words, at least half of them misspelled, which comments only on the physical attractiveness of the recipient. If you’re feeling frisky, you can also imply or state that you would like to engage in sexual activities with the recipient. Ideally, copy and paste this message to at least 30 or 40 people in one session. Cast a wide net!

Every now and then, I reply to one of these people and try to understand why they have done what they have done. Most of them do not respond favorably. I wish I knew if any of them ever get laid using this technique.

Terrible OKCupid Message Type Two: The “I Disagree Strongly With Your Religious or Political Views”

Apparently, there is a subset of people on OKCupid who think that it is awesome to start political or religious debates. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I am on a dating website to meet people with whom to have sex. In any case, because I have a lot of things in my profile about religion — I’m trying to find a Christian girl/boyfriend to round out my set — I often get inundated with atheists who want to save my soul. Sometimes I promise them that, yes, I know about evolution and believe that child raping is bad, and sometimes I go into long explanations of Platonism, and sometimes I straight-up ignore them.

However, I have never, ever, gone on a date with any of them.

Terrible OKCupid Message Type Three: The “Can I Have a Threesome With You and Your Roommate?”

I covered why this is not acceptable in a previous post.

However! Do not confuse this with “my partner and I want to have a threesome with you.” I love those messages. I have had some nice threesomes with friendly couples thanks to those messages. Friendly couples, please keep soliciting pretty girls and/or boys! Try to keep those messages to the kinds of things you’d say to a single person if you were also a single person, though. No implying too much commitment too early,that sort of thing. Use both your heads.

Terrible OKCupid Message Type Four: The “I Did Not Read Your Profile Even a Little”

In the first sentence or so of my profile, it mentions that I have two boyfriends. Sometimes, though, I get to the third or so message with someone, drop that bomb, and they run screaming. It’s never happened with anyone that seemed worthwhile in the first place, but this is still a basic skill. Read the profile of the person you are messaging.

Terrible OKCupid Message Type Five: The “We Are a 60% Match! Wow That’s High!”

OKCupid has a lot of math and algorithms and nerd-things to help you find out if you and that hottie are compatible. Based primarily on a lot of questions that you answer yourself, about every topic under the sun. The thing is, that compatibility percentage is then rendered, as percentages are, out of 100. Some people on OKCupid are a little confused by math, though, and think that fairly low numbers are actually pretty good. I assume these people similarly scored 60s or 70s in math at school and thought that was great. (That said, don’t put too much stock in the match algorithm. I’ve gone on dates with 98% matches that failed miserably, and generally have better luck with people in the 85-95 range. Thing One and I are 91%, and Thing Two and I hit 93%.)

These are only the most egregious OKCupid mistakes. That said, they are depressingly common, and often occur in combination. But since you’re planning on avoiding them, what do you actually put in that message? To answer that, allow me to show you an actual exchange I had with some poor sap when I was feeling particularly vindictive (we had a 46% match):

His opening salvo: “You know that one special thing a guy can say to get your attention and melt your heart? Well, pretend I said that and write back and tell me what it was. :-) “

My reply: “Well, my one boyfriend said, ‘Hey, baby, wanna come play Rock Band?’ The guy I was all ready to fall head over heels for but he is moving to California said, ‘I have the same theology and religious experience as you.’ So, there are at least 2 special things. The problem with polyamorous people (or is it postmodernists? or comparative religion scholars?) is that we are more interested in the differences than the similarities. What makes me interested in a guy is a certain set of equivalent experiences (else we’d have nowhere to begin talking) combined with something that he is doing that is totally different and interesting from what I’m doing. So, show me that, and you might have a chance.”

That guy had no chance. Don’t be that guy.

P.S. I am really good at dating advice. If you want me and my partners and probably also their partners to look at your OKCupid profile and judge it, let me know! Like I said, I’m here to help.