My Early New Year’s Resolution: I’m Giving Up Why

I'm Giving Up Why

I’m starting early, because I know this is a tough one.

I’ve been reducing why for a while. A few years. Sometimes it still slips out. I can’t help it. It feels so DAMN good.

“WHY” is a mental masturbation trap. It’s so easy to get sucked into.

It feels so good when we think we may have ‘why’ figured it out, but it’s also mental masochism, because we don’t REALLY know and we know we don’t really know.

Even when they tell us ‘why,’ we know that their given reason (no matter how sincere or honest) is often not the REAL reason.

Sure, the reason they give for ‘why’ is often enlightening. We can learn from it.

It rarely really ‘why,’ though.

Science has shown that humans use a decide-first-justify-later process for nearly everything. Our emotions tell us what to do, based on our personal priorities, survival language, and perceived good, then we explain ‘why’ even to ourselves.

In other words, even those of us who really pay attention and self-reflect rarely know why we’re doing what we’re doing.

So, for example, it’s a more accurate judge of character to just go by behaviors over time and assume people have their reasons.

From there we can determine (ie: decide-first-justify-later) our own reactions and move on.

More accurate.

Not easier.

Because ‘why’ is tempting. Asking “Why?” put the blame and emotional labor onto others (which is a HUGE relief when we are feeling burdened by whatever).

I’ve been pretty good about removing that from my life.

  • Instead of “Why do you feel that way,” I might say, “What inspired that?”
  • Instead of “Why did you do _____ ,” I might ask, “What made _____ seem to be the best action?”

Now, these may not seem all that different. And they are not, except in one thing:

What, in these cases focuses focuses on actual thoughts and actions they have had, versus making someone dig through the murky waters of their brain for justifications.

And it doesn’t create as strong a knee-jerk response of defensiveness in most people as “Why?” does.

That’s worked for me, mostly.

It’s harder to stop asking ‘why’ in my head, and trying to fill in the answers about other people’s behaviors. But I’m working on it.

I just focus on what I’m feeling when I start asking that question, and listen to my thoughts and feelings. I also look at the actual behaviors and think about them from a logical perspective, then let go and move on.

It’s been good to me.

I’m going to work on it more.

Intentionally.

Because I don’t even like regular masturbation much. Mental masturbation, I like even less.

Your ‘But’ Is Showing

Your 'But" Is Showing

Imagine you are with a kinky play partner, lounging around in the afterglow of an amazing scene and they say:

“I really appreciate you as a friend, I am glad we get to spend time together, and I especially like how your kinks and mine are so compatible…,” and then they pause and add “…BUT….”

Or someone says:

“I was really impressed with that scene you did…but…”

“That’s an amazing corset…but…”

“I like your new hairstyle…but…”

Or, one of my favorites:

“You’re right…but…”

When we use the word “but” in the middle of a sentence, it effectively negates everything that goes before it in the mind of others, and tells them the REALLY important bit is coming.

It makes that first dangly bit of words before the conjunction a sort of emotional sop that almost no one believes or takes good from.

In case you didn’t realize.

If you did, well, yay!

Spread the word.

Leggo My Ego!

Ego: If you start believing your own greatness...

If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.

MARINA ABRAMOVIC, The Economist, Sep. 15, 2010

A lot of comments over the past couple weeks on my writings have focused in on ego and how it gets in the way of being a good dominant.

Mostly.

The thing I see, though, is that ego gets in the way of being a good ANYTHING—in kink and out. Dominant, sub, parent, employee, basketball player, politician… the list goes on.

Ego is brittle shell of what we want to be seen as, placed before who we truly, authentically are, getting in the way of…

Ego gets in the way of communication when we believe that what we are saying MUST be clear, and therefore our partner is being willfully obtuse or just plain stupid.

Continue reading “Leggo My Ego!”

You’re Making Dominance HARDER For Yourself, You Know…

Stop Making Dominance Harder

Dominance is easy.

Dominance is natural.

It isn’t hard or stressful or a chore.

Well, if you’re a dominant, that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, I see a pattern in so many people who choose to self-identify as dominant. A pattern of making dominance more difficult than it is.

They make their job harder than it needs to by not gathering information about their partners. They challenge themselves to be a leader by blustering in and saying, “I have all the answers and I am going to call all the shots!”

They are trying to know it all without listening their subjects. They’re trying to have the perfect answer without even knowing what the question is.

Yes, a dominant leads and calls the shots, but the more you understand those you lead, the better and more consistent your decisions will be.

Why make your job more difficult?

A dominant leader is first and foremost (in my mind) an excellent observer and an attentive listener.

This is what makes a dominant best able to lead. To choose the right reward for behavior. To know which words make them squirm with lust and which cut them harshly in reprimand. To grok their deepest fantasies, and be able to bring them to life in your own style, to tie them to you for now or for forever.

None of this is possible if you don’t pay attention.

You can’t fake it.

In other words, quit trying to be right to your partner all the time.

Focus on understanding what is right for your partner, so you can’t help but embody that as part of your dominance.

Call Me Ishmael—I Mean Nookie—Please

Call Me Ishmael, I Mean Nookie

Whatever you call me will, in part, determine how I react to you.

This is important to me. I have a macro on my computer that I trigger every time someone writes to me and calls me “goddess,” “mistress,” “domina,” or the like.

I don’t like any of those, and certainly not from the mouths of strangers.

It goes like this:

Please don’t call me ____. I don’t own you, so I prefer not to be titled by you. Please call me Nookie, or Miss Nookie if you must use an honorific.
Thank you.

You can imagine how many people get confused by this or take offense.

Not my problem. Address me how I prefer to be addressed or I won’t respond.

Simple.

I had this conversation with a friend of mine on here, where he was asking about the opposite situation, where he might call me by my username (or rather, someone else), and they required him to use some sort of honorific, and how did I feel about that?

I responded that I think I have a right to say what I prefer to be called, and you have a right to decide whether you will call me that.

If someone wants you to call them Goddess, and you don’t want to, well, then, you have a right to ask for alternatives or remove yourself from their company.

You have a right to call me something I do not like and I have a right to leave your presence, not respond, or respond in a negative manner.

It’s obvious, right?

Which is why I suggest that when approaching people, it’s safest to start with their username, or whatever is written on their nametag, then, as soon as possible, ask, “And what would you like me to call you?”

And if they say, “Call me Ishmael,” then that’s the right thing to do.

I Don’t _______ (With You).

Not With You

I have a list of things I don’t do. And I pull them out and use them when appropriate.

I don’t go offsite with people until I’ve met and connected with them.

I don’t have casual sex.

I don’t play outside of my relationships.

I don”t eat in chain restaurants.

And so on.

And these things are true. Well, mostly true. Like 99% true.

I’ve done them.

I do them.

It’s rare, though. And it takes the perfect situation or combination of factors to make them happen.

And if I say these things or something like it to you, it’s not gonna happen.

You pushed too hard, you gave a weird vibe. I’m not interested in being flexible, or doing that kink.

Because I don’t ____. Or, at least I don’t with you.

The Language of Survival, The Language of Trust

Language of Trust

Each of us has a language of survival that we create as we grow up. We have a language of trust as well. In some, the language of trust has a huge vocabulary, and covers many varied situations.

They/we are the lucky ones.

CW: mentions of abuse

In some, the language of survival is the strongest, most nuanced, and pervasive language they understand.

Language of Trust

This conversation clearly shows the deleterious effects of languages of survival.

And as newvagabond points out, even knowing intellectually that they are safe is not enough.

The language of trust in their head is too small to overpower the survival mechanisms they’ve developed.

And if you live and love, you will meet these people. Perhaps you are these people.

And you could, if you choose, help them create their language of trust, by offering your own to them, and being a safe space.

Here are a few ways:

  • Validate. This does not always mean saying, “you’re right,” instead showing that they have the right to feel they way they feel. This means accepting and loving them for their fears as well as for their strengths.
  • Reassure. Speak to them of your OK-ness with their concerns.
  • Offer touch. Often, touch is as compelling, sometimes more, than the words. MAKE SURE THEY CONSENT. For those for whom touch is a part of their trauma, touch without consent can make things MUCH worse.
  • Be patient. Don’t speak the words, but project the opposite. Actually be patient. We all have things to learn. You may be an expert at trust and being not-afraid. Great! Use that with them. As with any language, it may take years to become fluent in trust with you and with others… or like me and Russian, they may never get it. That’s OK, too.
  • Understand this is not personal. It’s not YOU. It’s survival reactions to past lived-experiences. Also understand that as you hold your space safe for them, you are creating a language of trust with them as well. They KNOW/HOPE they are safe with you, or they would not choose to be with you, to put themselves in harms way. Their survival brain, though, doesn’t feel it. Like when you are safe at home, and a pan drops suddenly in the kitchen,a nd you jump, because WTF!?!? and it takes a while for your heart to slow down…instinct. It’s a bitch.

Last year, I wrote a piece about communication breakdowns when partners aren’t safe. I think that’s also a good reference to read. That one is also how we can add to their language of survival, often, even, without realizing the damage we’re doing.

How do you create your language of trust with your partners?

Or… on the other side, how does your language of survival affect you and your relationships long after the original behaviors that created it have past?

What You Say Versus How You Say It…Matters

What You Say Versus How You Say It

Last year, I wrote a piece about consent. This morning, I got a comment on FetLife on that piece saying: 

“…the type of consent you’re describing:

‘Do you like when I do this? Would you like more? What if I move lower? May I touch you here?’

Would be a boring turnoff to everyone I’ve ever played with who I can think of. That’s service topping, which is fine, but plenty of people don’t want service topping.”

SirDudeTheBrutal on FetLife

The conversation has continued. You can see it in this thread, if you’re curious: https://fetlife.com/users/50648/posts/4759575

There is a Huge difference between:

And this:

Because HOW we speak words matters.

Now, maybe neither of those audios really do it for you, or the consent idea is not your thing.

And that’s OK. I’m not out to be appealing to everyone in the world. (I don’t have the energy to fight y’all off, anyway! LOL!)

This is really about how we communicate.

Here’s another example I’ve used before:

I’m Your Man, Michael Bublé

Versus:

I’m You Man, Bill Pritchard

I was SUPER excited when I found out Michael was releasing a version of “I’m Your Man,” because I LOVED Bill Pritchard’s version from “I’m Your Fan.”

Unfortunately, I found Michael’s version felt whiny and entitled to me, while Bill Pritchard’s version feels like surrender from a place of strength…

Same words.

Different ways of saying them.

What you say matters.

How you say it also matters.

Poly Is Not Just “Yes!” (Poly Is Not, Part XVI)

Polyamory Is Not... A Series

So many see polyamory as saying “Yes!” to more people, more sex, more dates, more playtime.

And it is.

But it’s not JUST saying yes.

Because every yes is also a no.

When I say “Yes,” to a new partner, I’m potentially saying “No,” to the following:

  • My alone time.
  • My time with friends.
  • My time with existing partners.

And so on.

Which is not a BAD thing, in itself. Because sometimes it’s worth it to choose one person over another, to explore new potential connections over existing ones.

Sometimes it’s not.

Which is where the term “polysaturated” comes into play. Totally committed. No room for another, no matter how much I want to try, because those I already care about need what I have, and more importantly, I need it, too.

From and with them.

Polyamory can be a challenge.

When I’m planning travel or fun or business commitments, I weight those decisions against the people in my life that I already enjoy connections to.

I think on the things I do for them that make them happy, and those they do for me that fulfill me and bring me joy. These are some of the things I say no to when I add another partner, travel a lot on business, work 18 hour days and more.

Not just because of the actual time spent on each other those things, but because of the mental load added outside of those hours in thinking about, planning, and preparing for them.

It’s also saying no to: watching more Netflix, Facebook time, iPhone games/time wasters… things I’m often quite happy to say no to.

If I think about it.

And that’s what polyamory means. When we say yes to more people, more activities, and more… more…

We CHOOSE what to say no to that does not add enough value to our lives.

I *HATE* Labels!

Labels

Labels. We seem to have a love/hate relationship with them. I know that I’ve often railed against a particular label and the constraints I felt it forced on me, and yet, I value labels for their usefulness in communicating entire concepts and ideas in a single word.

The video:

The text:

Today, I followed up on a few posts I’d made in various groups and pages on Facebook. I had shared a piece about pansexuality that I thought was an interesting look at a word that may be a bit new to a lot of people:

https://www.them.us/story/pansexuality-101

While quite a few people in different channels responded well to the link and the information it contained, there were some who really railed against it.

Not against BEING pansexual so much as labeling oneself as pansexual.

The “pansexual label.”

And I see this a lot:

Why does everything need a label?

Labels are limiting.

Why use a label at all? Why not just treat everyone the same way?

People in general HATE to be labeled.

I hate to be labeled.

Again, I’ve railed against the limitations of labels myself, so I’m no stranger to these thoughts.

That said, I’m going to answer these questions.

Why does everything need a label?

Humans use labels (words) to communicate. Using one word (label) over another makes communication more concise.

Saying “chair” brings one thing to mind. Saying “chaise lounge” brings a more specific thing to mind.

Saying “kinky person” brings a general idea to mind. Saying “dominant daddy” brings a more specific idea to mind.

Labels are limiting.

Yes, they are.

Labels are MEANT to be limiting. That’s why they make for effective communication.

Labels are 1-to-3-word-shorthands for potentially paragraphs of information.

Take the examples above.

Chaise lounge replaces the following: “An upholstered sofa in the shape of a chair that is long enough to support the legs. In modern French the term chaise longue can refer to any long reclining chair such as a deckchair.”

And dominant daddy replaces: “A Daddy Dom is a slight variation from a traditional dominant in a dominant/submissive relationship in that they must consider their subs inner child dynamic. DaddyDoms are usually in full control of their li’l, but also have to take care of the social and emotional well being of their baby girl since their sub is in a slightly different mind space than traditional subs.  Another significant indication of a Daddy Dom is that they will spoil the heck out of their li’l…” [ref] and more.

Now, that said, many labels (especially those that apply to humans) are not, and were never meant to be a substitute for actual communication between two people. They are simply a place to begin.

Why use a label at all? Why not just treat everyone the same way?

You can do both!

You can use and understand what people are communicating with their labels and still treat them as you would treat anyone.

People in general HATE to be labeled. I hate to be labeled.

Agreed.

I absolutely despise it when people label me without my input or consent.

And yet, I happily label myself.

We ALL do.

I am a writer, kinky, polyamorous, woman, dominant, foodie, businessperson, teacher, shoe-lover, reader, hedonist, friend, dog enthusiast, flirt, neuro-atypical…

I’m betting even you can relate to one or more of those. We all use labels for ourselves.

No one is saying that you HAVE to use a label in that article about pansexuality. They are saying this is the label they prefer to use and what it means to them.

Now you know what they are communicating when they say it.

Simple.