Tag Archives: bi

Sex is hard to talk about

I recently watched an old Dan Savage video where he answers the question “do threesomes ruin relationships?”. He answered that if there is a problem or some kind of lack in a relationship then adding another person into it for a charged sexual liason might very well ruin a relationship, but successful threesomes happen as well. It’s just that you don’t hear about the successful ones. The people having successful threesomes are not running around telling their friends and family about their hot three-way over dinner; they are not “out” about it.

Over the course of the last year, certain features of my life have enabled me to have regular fulfilling sex – including group sex – in the context of varied yet stable and emotionally fulfilling relationships. These features include being bi, being poly, having good communication skills to establish consent, having bi poly friends and places to hang out together. Safe sex is a top priority, as is consent, as is communicating openly about needs and preferences. If someone finds a new partner, this news is greeted with joy and maintaining other relationships and activities outside of this friendship group is also a priority.

The nature of this sexual contact is such that we find ourselves talking about being happy, being fulfilled, finding positive effects on our mental health and overall wellbeing.

Personally, I have been on a deliberate journey to make sex as positive an experience as possible due to starting from very negative beginnings. The success of this journey is a source of happiness and pride for me.

In the context of the wider world it seems clear that the more sex is talked about with children and young people in an open and honest manner the better their subsequent choices are and the more healthy they can be. Sex can and should be a topic of conversation that is as normal and natural as one’s other activities and hobbies.

As an activist, I would like to be ‘out’, especially about the benefits of group sex, which I have spoken about before. But when I imagined going in to work and someone asking me about my weekend and my reply being that I had a birthday party that involved a select guest list of comfortable friends and we all had amazing sex, I couldn’t see that being taken as an acceptable detail of conversation, even though I’m out to my colleagues in every way I can think of.

I have someone in my life who takes great pains and great pleasure in pointing out that I don’t know what the boundaries are of “normal” conversation and regularly go too far with what I’m willing to say. I find it emotionally draining to trigger someone else’s sense of discomfort (much more so than dealing with my own), even though in most cases of people being ‘out’, it is very much to the greater good that people are exposed to things so that they start to perceive them as normal, or everyday.

It is to everyone’s benefit if we can talk openly about sex (including lack of it), but the social pressure in the UK that bears down upon anyone who wants to start the conversation is weighty indeed.

This Was Not In The Handbook

This is a testament to My So Amazing Life and is not even a #firstworldproblem or a #middleclassproblem rather a #mylifeistooawesome problem or #poorlittlepolygirlhastoomanysexpartners kind of problem but STILL it has become a fact of my life that group sex is easier, happier, simpler and freer than traditional one-on-one sex.

My friends in the bi-poly world tend to agree. We’ve all been in situation whereby we know the people around us are all 1)bi  2)non-monogamous 3)actively practicing safe sex and due to feeling safe, happy & fuzzy, some chatting has turned into cuddling has turned into kissing has turned into fondling has turned into sex with more than one other person. I call situations like this (parties, conferences) ‘euphoric’ spaces, because something about the safety and large numbers of people feeling friendly towards each other can build a sense of giddy abandon. In ‘euphoric’ spaces it seems easier to have sexual interactions with people, to do sexual activities you might not otherwise do and do these things with people you might not otherwise do it with. Within group sex situations, things are easier to do because there is less pressure to perform, individual acts have less overall meaning, experimentation is the only option and there is a sense that anything is worth trying and anything that feels good is a bonus. There are also simply ‘more’ body parts to play with and more minds creatively attacking the problem, if you’ll excuse my phrasing.

It’s really rather lovely.

Now we come to my (not really a) problem. I have lately been thinking of the etiquette of seeing the people you have been ‘euphoric’ with outside of those spaces. The first instance is fine, you all had sex when high on hormones at a party and now you’re not so interested in each other. But what happens when another ‘euphoric’ space comes around? Is it ok to have sex with someone again in a euphoric space when you wouldn’t normally? Does it sort of imply, “I only fancy you in a heightened state, but when we’re on our own together you turn me off” ? In poly circles it’s traditional to just have a chat about it, and if everyone is ok with it, then it’s fine.

But sometimes getting to know the person actually turns you off them as a person and so you wouldn’t want to be in a sexual relationship with them, you also can’t really find common ground to ‘have a chat’ but when you’re in a euphoric space, all you can think of is the lust and it’s tempting to chuck away the knowledge that you don’t like them that much and dive on in. Is such a course of action duplicitous? Callous? To be avoided? Is this monogamy ethics, within which one is supposed to both fancy, love and be a friend to your only partner, but which does not necessarily apply in poly?

It still feels wrong, but am I overthinking this?

It seems I’m one of the only people in my friendship group to be wondering about these things. They believe you should follow your positive feelings in the moment and it is unlikely to create problems. If problems do arise, we’re all poly, we can talk about it. Nonetheless, for me it seems a bit too laissez-faire considering we’re normally so good at looking after people’s feelings, particularly when tied in with other thoughts I’ve had about dominant type people and submissive type people (and I’m not talking about kink, here).

Myself and my friend term these people ‘carers’ and ‘chargers’. ‘Carers’ are people who naturally incline towards accommodating other people’s needs before looking after their own. ‘Chargers’ are people who go forth into the world, doing their own thing and even though they ask if everyone else is ok with their actions, they don’t know they have carers in their life who don’t speak up for their own needs. Chargers can trample other people with no idea they’re doing it. I am certainly a charger who was once with a carer. In a broader sense, there are people who are less able to communicate their needs or desires and the more loud, confident people need to take care to create a space (which could take time and lots of shutting up) so that the less loud people can express themselves. I feel that charging into euphoric spaces might lead to quieter folks developing crushes or stronger feelings for people who do not return the affection. Those quieter folks with the crushes might wait until the next euphoric space to be with their crush, and rationalise that they enjoy what they can get, but surely an unspoken desire where the object of affection has no idea of the feelings involved is bad for everybody.

All of that was just an aside to another non-problem I’m having right now. I’ve noticed that I have ups and downs with individuals in my life, both in terms of relationships and in terms of sexual problems, which is to be expected, however I sometimes find myself in potential group sex situations with these same people and I find (I think) that I’m perfectly happy to be in these situations with the individuals. I’m happy to see them having sex, I think I’m even happy to have sex with them. Even if the problem between me and them is about sex. Again, it’s something about the dilution of individual elements into a greater whole. Personal problems seem small and far away when in a group of people who just want to touch each other in pleasant ways. (It kinda goes without saying that, as a poly with a few year’s experience, I don’t really have many feelings of jealousy and I do have big feelings of pleasure when I see my partners having fun with other people.)  This is not to say that I haven’t also felt uncomfortable in group sexual spaces, but I’m very happy to leave such situations to look after my own feelings, and it’s normally my own vague discomfort rather than raging jealousy or sadness. In general, group sex is an extremely positive experience.

I really don’t know how to navigate this at all. This was not in the handbook of life. Shall I, more or less, avoid these euphoric spaces when I have problems with individuals so that I don’t put the problems constantly on the back burner? Shall I make sure all problems are sorted before something like this happens, and withdraw from these spaces if there are unsettled issues? Or shall I go with my feelings, engage in a happy way with these spaces, and perhaps, in the best possible of instances, use these euphoric spaces as a way to heal problems, with myself and with individuals? If the problem is about sex, then having positive sexual experiences in a less high stakes context might be an excellent way to move forward.

(Indeed, just to get hippie for a moment, I think the absence of group sex in mono/Christian cultures might go some way to explain the pathology our society seems to exhibit at the moment. I wonder how easy it would be to decide to cut people’s benefits if the deciding person was regularly in a room of 100 bodies all having sex together.)

I don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know for now is that group sex can be easier and happier than couple sex, and that fact is complicating my decision-making process considerably!


Theoretical Statements (1)

Bisexuality, feminism and trans thought/behaviour are all interconnected with the idea of gender, hence people from these groups are comfortable bedfellows (metaphorically and often, in my experience, literally). However there is an important difference; trans and feminist thought/behaviour is very invested in the idea of gender, and by this I mean the idea of binary gender. They take binary gender to be self evident, at the very least as a past tense certainty as well as a present tense reality. T+F thought may idealise a future ‘utopian’ reality beyond binarised gender, perhaps feminism more than trans.

But bisexual thought/experience is unconcerned with binarised gender, or of all groups of thoughts/behaviours it could be said that bisexual thought is least concerned with gender than anyone else. Bisexual thought is the least invested in binary gender as a present tense reality, subjects within bisexual thought then typically allow for freedom and play with gender, subjects are unserious in their play and unfixed in their boundaries or definitions.

Bisexual thought then is in an interesting position of being able to accommodate systems of thought that are invested in gender, because it doesn’t care either way and because these systems are interested in equalities /emancipation/liberation in relation to gender but while accommodating these systems it itself is almost radically opposite to the notions at the crux of their epistemology. In so being it might be enacting a present tense reality that T+F thought only imagine as a future utopia.