Ask Me Anything

Due to the popularity of Sarahah and the SurveyMonkey account I established, I've decided to put all the questions and answers I've been sent in one place. If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits (as you will probably notice if you read through the questions). You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won't post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I'm always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi
PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
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"I'm in an amazing relationship and feel like 98% of my needs are met (plenty of affection, intellectual and creative support from my partner). We have sex less frequently than we used to but when we do it's still amazing. But, I've got a building crush on someone else. My partner and I are monogamous.

He knows about my sexual past (hooking up with friends, threesomes, etc.) and is the least jealous partner I've had as far as that goes. I don't want to risk hurting him by bringing this up in the wrong way, and I'm honestly not sure I'm 100% ready for it myself but what kind of advice do you have if I were thinking about exploring a less strictly monogamous relationship at some point?"

First off, that is really awesome that have 98% of your needs met. That is more than most. I’m glad things are going so well. And I wouldn’t worry too much about the sex thing, that is almost universally common as people become more familiar with each other. Sex frequency ebbs and flows over time and as long as you are both able to get the intimacy and orgasms and experiences you want then things are going well.

Before I actually answer your question I want this to be a lesson for other people out there. These problems can be avoided if you discuss potential circumstances before they happen. The odds are pretty good that one or, more likely, all members of a relationship are going to catch feelings for a new person at some point. Discussing how you will handle crushes and falling in love with others before it occurs makes it easier to deal with when it happens.

But, that isn’t your situation. You have some butterflies for a new barista or mutual friend or person you SnapChat with and you aren’t sure how to tell your partner. It is a good sign that he isn’t jealous or uncomfortable with your past, it would be ridiculous of him to be so but it is pretty common. It is pretty shitty to be an asshole about what someone did before they met you. There is often a pretty strong divide between “I’m fine with the orgy you had in college before I met you” and “I’m fine with you having feelings for your personal trainer while I’m home cooking and cleaning”.

So, you should definitely approach this with tact and realize that becoming more intimate with this crush may not actually be possible if you want to stay with your partner. Introducing non-monogamy while you have a potentially new partner in mind is usually a pretty rough road because it kind of sounds like you wanted monogamy (and for your partner to keep his feelings and genitals contained) until you met someone who makes you not want monogamy.

I guess you need to ask yourself, would you want to explore some sort of non-monogamy if you didn’t have this crush and are you willing to give a fair level of openness for your partner to explore. If you can answer yes to both questions then I think there is some potential but, again, this particular crush may be off the table, at least for a while. Bringing it up does risk making your partner uncomfortable, and even hurting him, but sometimes that happens in relationships. We don’t lose our individuality by becoming partners and I think a healthy partnership actually involves pushing each other out of our comfort zones so that we can get the most out of this short life.

I don’t know how you two communicated but I think you two need to talk about this. You (and probably him) are going to catch feelings again in the future and it is better to start that conversation ASAP. Maybe y’all email each other or you get a bottle of wine and sit down and talk. But I think you should start with hypothetical situations that are open-ended. Discuss under what circumstances kissing another person would be okay. Talk about when you should tell each other about crushes. Explore what you two would like to do together… a lot of non-monogamy starts with having foursomes, going to sex clubs, having lap dances together at strip clubs, and having other experiences together, and then they sometimes move to doing things separately.

Basically, if you want to explore “monogamish” relationship after starting out in a monogamous one then you need to move slowly and communicate often. Find kinks or fantasies that you are both interested in and work towards them. You don’t need to jump into dating new people separately. You can start with defining cheating as “anything that involves physical contact” to allow for flirting. Slowly loosen the definition of cheating (and explore those boundaries) to see how it feels and then decide if you prefer a “don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship or if you want to discuss the details of each interaction.

Instead of hooking up with new people you can start by sending sexy SnapChats to mutual friends as a couple. Find a low-risk couple who lives far away and become SnapChat sexting friends. From there you can have same room-sex, foursomes, and maybe threesomes or individual experiences.

The only thing I’m really on the fence about is whether you should tell your partner about his particular crush. I guess it comes down to how far you think you may want it to go. If you think this is a crush that will fade with time then I say you keep it to yourself and keep it all in your mind, but if you are serious about pursuing something with this person then you may need to bring it up soon… which is going to be a difficult conversation but if you two really meet each other’s needs 98% then you will get through it, and maybe that tough conversation will get the sex frequency up… it is actually pretty common for sex frequency to increase among partners as they discuss non-monogamy and experience things with other people. We certainly possibly (likely?) have an evolved nature for non-monogamy… but that’s a post for a different time.

“What is your favorite hot sauce? 
What was the spiciest thing you've ever eaten?”

So, I actually grew up in an environment with very bland food. I was never really exposed to spicy things, but that has changed in the last few years. Right now, my favorite hot sauce is Frank’s, but I am always interested in recommendations. Frank’s is pretty mild to me now and I want to experiment more. I haven’t really had many super spicy things, but the one thing that stands out is a thai dish I had while visiting some friends in San Diego. I asked for a spice level 3 (I think it was out of 10) and it was basically inedible to me. Fluid was leaking out of my eyes, nose, and pores. It was beautiful and gross and painful.

If anyone has spice recommendations please send them my way. I am not looking to just torture myself, but if there is some spicy food with good flavor then I’m all about it. I eat Frank’s every single day to help stay alive forever, but I’d totally add some more capsaicin to my diet. In fact, capsaicin is one of four things (along with ginger, cocoa, and turmeric) that I eat daily due to potential longevity benefits.

“Hi, Peter! I know you're one of the best people to turn to with this concern, and I would love to get your thoughts on it. 
As a female, I have such a hard time facing the "truth" that men's sexuality is the foundation of virtually every motivation. A male friend has gone on many rants about how every other male friend of mine has most likely masturbated to the thought of me; those who deny it "are either lying or gay." I bend over for something and a man's eyes are drawn to my ass, his "brain just switches over, he can't help it. It's hardwired like that." It makes me cry. Is modesty my only option here?”

Wow. What a good question. I love messages like this that spark a bunch of different ideas in my brain. My thoughts might be kind of random, but I hope they make sense and give you some perspective. And, like all things, I speak for myself based on my personal experiences and the readings I’ve done on this issue (which is probably more than most in this case). To my knowledge, there is not a ton of peer-reviewed research on this subject. I’m not sure how honest people would be anyway.

We lovely humans evolved with certain innate drives. We want carbs for fuel, shelter for safety, friendship for community, aggression for safety and stature, and sex for reproduction. These drives don’t exist independent of each other, they overlap, and they served our ancestors well. But as modern humans, we aren’t defined by these drives. In fact, one of the strengths of our species is our ability to adapt. These drives are malleable to serve certain times and places. They can be shaped by our culture and they can be changed by our individual actions to follow a more moral path.

We are not simply slaves to genes, particularly when it comes to sexual norms. Just look at what men (speaking in crazy broad generalizations) find attractive. You certainly can’t look at shaved armpits, legs, or pubic region and say that these things are “naturally” attractive to men because our brains evolved that way or are hard-wired for it. From a nature point of view, hairless bodies are a sign of pre-pubescent and should be unattractive to men (though, with adult breasts, it would probably send mixed signals). Instead, the sexiness of certain traits has been shaped by the environment we grew up in. Hell, people masturbate to cartoons. If we are simply slaves to our brain switching over to some sort of primal lust then we would see universal sexual norms that are do not reflect the unique time and place that people live. But that isn’t what we see. We see that what people find sexy and how people think about people based on appearance, relationship, etc. are heavily shaped by nurture.

Not only can our minds be shaped to find certain traits sexually desirable, we can change our minds to view certain people as acceptably sexually desirable (ie mutual friends who just want to go to the beach together). Unfortunately, we do not live in a society that is particularly conducive to equal (and erotically neutral) relationships between men and women. Sex is simultaneously viewed negatively for women but women’s bodies (especially nude bodies) are always sexualized. Additionally, we have a culture that encourages macho men who pursue sex, only think about sex, and are physically aggressive to get what they want. This creates a storm of social norms that reinforce the kind of mentality your friend was talking about.

Just because that is the way things are now that doesn’t mean that is the way things must be. If you spend some time in places where nudity is removed from sexuality the culture changes dramatically. Take Burning Man, for example. Nudity is pretty common at Burning Man and when I first arrived there I definitely had knee-jerk sexual thoughts and reactions, but over a few days that changed. When you hang out and talk to someone about philosophy for 45 minutes while in line with poutine the slight color change between breast and areola or the shape curve of hips, booty, belly, and boob lose their magic. That’s why I love going to Burning Man or nude beaches/clubs or just hang out and play video games with my friends naked. Now, that isn’t to say that these experiences have made my friends or strangers sexually unattractive to me… instead, sexual arousal is placed in a healthy time and place (ie when sexual intimacy is actually going to happen), and this makes sex more magical.

So, my basic take is that your friend’s “truth” may be true for him, but it isn’t universal. And, to be completely honest, it kind of says some potentially shitty things about him. He is basically telling you that he masturbates to you, if he’s attracted to women, and/or he masturbates to his guy friends. And if he says some shit like “Oh, I’m not like that, it is every other guy” then he is lying to your face. “Brain just switches on” is a cop-out, and a shitty one. It is what someone who has no interest in improving their relations with people, someone who gets joy out of sexualizing people, and has no moral issue with it. It is a shitty point of view and it is an excuse. It might be difficult, but you certainly can stop viewing other people only through a procreative lens. You can be around someone when they bend over and not have lust flood your brain.

Now, I am not going to claim that I am somehow innocent in this regard. I have masturbated to pictures of friends without their consent. There have been times in my life when I have scrolled Facebook looking for a bikini photo or, more likely, a smiling face and masturbated while looking at the photo and imagining doing sexual things with them.

Usually, these were times of particular lonliness in my life. I wasn’t necessarily horny (pornography is enough for horniness) but I was longing for an intimate connection, so I turned to my imagination and my friends. I was wrong with I did this, I was acting against my own moral code. Happily, it has been a long time since I did this. Now I only masturbate to photos, videos, or thoughts that involve people who have given appropriate consent via verbal message, sending me intentionally sexy pics/videos, or by purchasing pornography.

That’s my experience and I won’t make the sweeping generalization that most (or all) guys have done this. I’m sure there are men who have always had a better perspective than I did. There are asexual men. There are those with a moral code that has prevented them from doing that. So, I have no idea how many guys masturbate to their friends, but I’d guess probably a lot because we don’t live in a cutlure that discourages that. But I hope there are also probably a lot that have developed an ethical code that helps prevent that type of action because they see it as immoral. Maybe they are like me and consider consent a fundamental part of sexual acts, even sexual acts that one person isn’t aware of. Maybe they are married and masturbation (with or without someone else) in mind is cheating and that is enough to keep them from doing it. Maybe it is something else that keeps them from doing it.

I will tell you one thing though, the person who says “guys can’t help it” is someone that hasn’t decided to act morally. And if they can’t act morally when masturbating they certainly aren’t practicing controlling their mind when at yoga practice, the park, the beach or the grocery store. Control of action in private is necessary before you can claim moral control of your mind.

And yes, I consider it immoral. I was acting immorally when I have done it in the past. Morality is more than just the non-aggression principle. We are in control of our thoughts and can work to unlearn the social norms that we grew up with. Places with different cultural norms do not have sexual behavior that matches ours, hunter/gatherer, Burning Man, nude beaches, etc. It takes practice and work, but a person can stop viewing someone as primarily (solely) as a means for potential procreation (just like we can move beyond jealousy, rage, greed, the need for meat/cheese, or other acts/emotions that we have an evolved drive for but may go against our moral code).

So, is modesty your only option? No, it isn’t your only option but the other options aren’t great. If you want to minimize the men who lust after you then modesty will likely help a bit. As unfortunate as it is, we live in a society that teaches some very bad lessons about sexuality and masculinity from a very young age. You won’t be able to just change society quickly. But, you can do some other things that may make your life better.

First, try to surround yourself with people who don’t think like your friend (who also seems to be trying to sabotage your friendships with men). Go to places where nudity is not sexual like Burning Man, festivals, nude beaches, or have friends that you can skinny dip with, sun bathe, or just hang out naked with. Second, try not to let the minds of other people bother you. You can’t control (or even fully know) the thoughts of other people and it will only make your life more miserable trying to do that. Is it immoral for a man to view you as an object? Yes, but that is his sin and you can’t control that. Like the Stoics say, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with those things that are beyond our control. Lastly, maybe try to change society. Challenge this friend when he says these things (and if he says some sexist bullshit like “you’re not a guy so you don’t understand” then maybe consider cutting him out of your life). Participate in programs that fight for equality of body exposure in public. If you end up acting as a teacher or parent to a child teach them a better path than the one society is teaching them.

Finally, don’t cry because of men, but maybe crying because of society is warranted… for a short time. Crying is only valuable if it makes your life better or if it motivates you to take action. But try and be optimistic because your friend is wrong and people can move beyond the direction that social pressures send our primal drives. The tools all humans evolved with (sex drive, aggression, creativity, etc.) can all be shaped by individual will and society into healthy practices. Those tools have neither moral or immoral, they are simply tools, what matters is how you use them. You can just give in to society like your friend and use that as an excuse for shitty behavior, views, and thoughts, or you can work to overcome years of training to have truly healthy and happy relationships with other people, and place sexuality into an intimate, appropriate setting.

 

"Hi Peter, wanted you to know that I emailed you yesterday with a question! Didn't post here because I wanted to have a private response instead of a public one."

Awesome! I got your question and will respond ASAP via the email address you provided. I hope posting this doesn't violate anything... I just wanted to remind people that if they want a private response I will certainly honor that, I just need a way to respond back. Email works well, as does sending me a text or FB message (if you don't need anonymity from me). Though, even if I know who you are I am never going to share that with anyone. I may not be a licensed therapist (yet) but I still hold myself to that ethical standard.

"I think your openness to criticism and feedback is inspiring. I haven't talked to you in person in ages but I am so encouraged by your openness and genuine desire to learn, grow, and help others do the same. That's all. Thanks, I'm not sure if I did this wrong - am I supposed to aska question? Oh well. We must all be open to feedback (including me!)"

Thanks for the comment and kind words! You didn't do anything wrong. Sarahah, SurveyMonkey, etc. serve as a way to communicate with each other and as long as that is happening then we are doing it right.

And yes, I am very open to criticism and feedback. I am wrong about a lot of things and it is only through being challenged that I can improve. If you (or anyone) thinks I am wrong and want to inform me or direct me towards books, videos, or other resources that will open my eyes then please send them my way. I often share controversial articles and I read a variety of things, but I don't necessarily agree with what I share or read. The truth is, when I'm being most honest my answer is "I don't know" to most important questions.

"I want to move forward with the person I'm very complicatedly in love with. I want this knowing very well how difficult my partner is, and how difficult I am more importantly. We are on and off to the point that I don't even stress it anymore because I know we'll get back together. For me a lot of this is trying to conform to a monogamous relationship. It puts a lot of stress on me, and I start fights because I'm unhappy. Not with my partner, but with how I think a happy relationship is supposed to be. I want to move forward with my partner. However, a lot of damage has been done. I've said some nasty things. How do I move forward with my partner from here? Lots of water under the bridge."

There is a lot to unpack here, but I'll do my best. First, I don't think an "on again, off again" relationship where you don't worry about it ending is a particularly healthy way to view a relationship. If neither of you feel like you have nothing to lose then there are fewer incentives to be loving, trusting, and understanding. I'm not really sure how to address that though. If you both are never willing to permanently say good-bye then you seem destined to just repeat this cycle over and over again.

If a monogamous relationship isn't something you want or can conform to, then don't. You don't mention your partner's views on monogamy but that silence seems to speak volumes and it implies that your partner does want/need monogamy. I guess another option is that neither of you want monogamy but you feel pressured to by society. If the latter is the case then you should explore non-monogamy in your personal life but be socially monogamous. Most non-monogamous couples appear monogamous to the outside world but the details of their relationship are more open and complex. But, if monogamy is something that your partner and you want then this may be an irreconcilable difference. One of you either needs to give in to the other or you need to recognize you aren't compatible. Love isn't all you need. Love doesn't conquer all. Love won't keep an incompatible relationship together. In fact, love can make us stay in abusive, terrible, toxic environments. Love can be the enemy of happiness.

Lastly, if you really want to put the past behind you then you need to do just that. Sit down, have a heart to heart, apologize, promise not to bring it up again, and discuss permanent consequences if one of you violates the agreement. If you want to start over then you need to truly do that... start the relationship from the beginning by going on dates, flirting via text, but build and maintain friendships outside of each other. Treat your partner like you would if you just met and try not to fall into old routines. Those old routines will fire off the neurons in your mental pathways and spark anger, frustration, and old harmful habits.

Good luck, and I hope this helped.

 

“"Party in the USA" was playing on the radio (yeah, I just did that), and it made me think of you because, for some inexplicable reason, I know that's your jam! Why tell you anonymously? I'm hoping that now, everyone you connect with, in the back of your mind you're thinking, "maybe they think of me when my song comes on the radio." And I think it's kind of nice to have a sense of maybe anyone thinking of you now and then :)”

Haha, on man, I forgot how much I used to love and listen to that song. You actually inspired me to put it on right now. Music is so magical and it certainly brings memories to my mind a lot. Sometimes it makes me think about old lovers or adventures I’ve had. Certain people can spring to mind after just the opening chords of a familiar song and I fall in love again with a person, place, and band.

Thank you for sharing… it is nice to know that someone is thinking of me from time to time. I think we all have a fear inside of us that we will be forgotten (or have already been forgotten). I know I certainly wonder if the experiences that shaped me also shaped others involved, or was I just simply a passing shadow that was barely noticed? I think this is particularly true in the modern world where seeing how an old friend or partner is doing is just a click away, it can be bittersweet to see them doing well even though you aren’t in their life.

So, maybe we should all tell people when you think about them. It feels nice (as long as you aren’t a creepo) to know that our lives had an impact, that we aren’t going to be forgotten soon, that we have value to someone. A simple “Hey, Dropkick Murphy’s came on the radio and it made me think of you.” Can really go a long way. I think we shouldn’t hold back from sharing our love for others and reminiscing about the good times we had, and maybe that will open the door to good times in the future.

 

“Hey, I'm thinking of getting into vegan food, meditation, yoga, all that good stuff. I have an understanding that you have an understanding of these things. Do you have any suggestions on where to start (reading, sites, cookbooks, anything)?”

Sure! I am not really a professional at any of these things but I will gladly share what I know. Let’s start with the easy thing (for me)

Veganism: It was tough for me to get started with veganism. I realized that it most closely matched my ethical ideal, but I didn’t really know where to begin. Sadly, I did not receive a very good nutritional education growing up. Transitioning away from the traditional American diet to a vegan one was a little overwhelming, but if I can do it then so can you!

First, go easy on yourself and know that you probably won’t be perfect. Unless you live in a major city it is unlikely you have a strictly vegan restaurant in town and most restaurants seriously lack vegan options (I’ve even been to a restaurant where every salad had meat in it… I literally couldn’t get a salad with just vegetables). So, be prepared to cook for yourself a lot and end up asking for modifications to food.

Second, cooking can be fun! My favorite cookbook is “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra because it provides very simple recipes that are perfect for the vegan novice. Many of the recipes basically replicate familiar non-vegan recipes, which helps with the transition from animal consumption to non-animal consumption. Really, all of Isa’s cookbooks are awesome but “Isa Does It” is simple, also check out her blog isachandra.com for other recipes. The other three cookbooks I’d recommend you check out are “Vegan Fire & Spice” by Robin Robertson, “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” by Matt Frazier, and “Vegan Eats World” by Terry Hope Romero.

Also, if you can find one or two meals that are easy to make and modify to make up the bulk of your cooking it can really help. For example, once a week I cook a big vegetable scramble with beans and that is my lunch five days a week. Additionally, I have protein shakes for snacks and breakfast. That means I really only have one meal to worry about… actually, this is good general advice beyond veganism.

Meditation: Having a steady mindfulness meditation is incredibly difficult for me, but I have noticed some benefits and scientific studies back up how beneficial it can be. I use the “Headspace” app to guide my daily meditations and I try to read about meditation regularly. I have found that I am more likely to stick with a habit if I immerse myself a bit and consume as much about the subject as I can. My favorite books that address the subject (some more directly than others) are “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright, “Destructive Emotions” by the Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennet-Goleman, “10% Happier” by Dan Harris, and “Waking Up” by Sam Harris.

Yoga: Yoga, to me, is primarily an addition to my meditation practice. I view it as a physical manifestation of my mindfulness, but I am not very qualified to talk about it directly. I haven’t read too much on the subject and, to be honest, it is something that I want to be more involved with than I actually am. The best advice I can give is to find a practice somewhere and dive in, or if you’d rather try it out alone at home first check out the “Yoga with Adriene” channel on YouTube.

 

“Hi Peter, I would love your advice. My partner and I have been together for a little over two years. We have an incredibly fulfilling life together and work hard to stay connected, be communicative, and keep intimacy strong. Our sex-life is fantastic (best of my life, by far). I am a very sexual person and I like to experiment and create new experiences with her. We have tried a few different things in the past, and she has always been enthusiastic. She and I (two women) are both bisexual and have enjoyed sex with both men and women in the past. I find the idea of a threesome very exciting. She does not and gets uncomfortable whenever I bring it up. Should I just let the idea go?”

Hi friend!

I’m not really sure if you should let the idea go or not, it depends on a lot of factors. If this is an experience that you think is important for your life experience then you should continue to advocate for it (but make sure it is in a productive way). If this is something that isn’t necessary for your happiness but is something you would really like to do with your partner, then there are ways to approach it (but be ready for a no). Or, if it really isn’t a big deal then you should probably just say something like, “Hey, this is an experience that is really erotic to me and I would love to have that experience with you. I know you aren’t interested in it, but if that ever changes or you meet a guy that you could see us having a threesome with please let me know.” And then drop it unless your partner brings it up.
Okay, so back to the first two options. If this is something that is important to you and you want to do it with your partner, then I think you need to open up the communication and see why your partner is uncomfortable with it. Most of the time our discomfort is rooted in past experiences that form patterns in our brains and if you can figure out the source of that discomfort you may be able to slowly and lovingly address it in a way that will allow for you two to have this experience together.

For example, maybe after talking with your partner you find out that her concern with a threesome with a male is that your attraction to that man represents something that she feels she can never provide you with. There may be a fear that this experience will make you realize you would rather not be with her. These assumptions may be wrong and rooted in fear, but they are still legitimate for your partner and can be addressed. You can help reassure her that she is who you want this experience with, that she will have complete veto control over all actions, and that you are comfortable with taking things slow and babystepping up to a threesome. You could start by having a date with a guy where no physical contact is allowed, or maybe limit things to kissing. She could have complete control over who the person is in order to minimize her discomfort (some people are more comfortable with mutual friends, others with strangers, or maybe you find a guy who is in a relationship and turn it into a foursome in order to minimize any fears of long-term attachment). You can also open something up like this to only certain environments or times. I know some couples who are strictly monogamous except when at Burning Man (or a similar festival), or they only play with others when using MDMA. Those barriers can help prevent jealousy, discomfort, etc. from spilling over into your relationship.

(I should re-emphasize that this is just an example, I clearly don’t know the inner workings of you or your partner or what would make each of you comfortable)

So, what should you do? I don’t know. It really depends on why your partner is uncomfortable, how open they are to giving you this gift (because this is a gift to you from them), and how important this experience is and how long you think you and your partner will be together.

 

 

“Would you write me a love story?”
Sure! I have never really tried to write a love story before. I think I’m pretty good at writing erotica, but a love story is a whole different challenge. Though, since you said you wanted it to be for you I don’t want to write a vague love story. Send me more information about what you have in mind and I’ll type something up. I’ll share it publicly or privately, whichever you prefer (but I’ll need an email address or something if you want it to be private).

 

“Hi Peter!
I have a really hard time managing social anxiety. It manifests in so many ways -- I get physically nauseous when I go over to a friend's house to hang out, I feel sweaty and my heart rate goes way up when I send a message to anyone when there is the potential for a negative response. As an extrovert, I am much more comfortable once I am in a social situation, but getting there is a huge difficulty for me. I usually just do it, but practicing just doing whatever I need to do (send that invite, go to that party, etc) hasn't made the anxiety any better. Have you ever faced anything similar? And even if you haven't, what suggestions do you have for handling that in a healthier way?”

Hello!
I’m sorry that you are struggling with managing your social anxiety. Though, I think it is wonderful that you are reaching out for help and continue to try to be social. When I was struggling the most I just holed myself up in my room, and it sounds like what you deal with is significantly more difficult than what I’ve experienced. You are stronger than I am.

I haven’t faced anything like what you’re facing, but I think the first step is to see a therapist, if possible. I think everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) should see a therapist regularly. A therapist will be able to provide you with specialized care and a greater understanding of the anxiety you face.

With or without a therapist, I think that mindfulness meditation could be helpful for you. “Headspace” is a great app with guided meditations on it, there is even a pack in Headspace that focuses specifically on Anxiety. I’m not a great meditator but I have seen it really benefit my life. If you are a reader then I would recommend checking out “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright, “10% Happier” by Dan Harris, and “A Guide to the Good Life” by William Irvine. The first two are about Buddhism and meditation (but without the theology that is associated with it in the east) and the last one is about applying Stoic practices to your day to day life.

I realize none of that will help quickly. For the now, do you have a close friend that you can open up to about this and they can act as an escort or support to get you into the social situations? I know that I am nervous about doing new things (even something simple like going into a new grocery store) and that having my partner or a friend with me helps get me across the threshold. Just being able to explain this fear openly to them helps me see the fear from another angle, analyze the emotions that are the foundation of the fear, and then move beyond it.

The fear to send out an invitation or initiate a new experience sounds similar to the feelings I get around my Imposter Syndrome. I fear that I’m annoying people or that I will be rejected or that I’m not worthy to have them in my life. It becomes very easy to read into things in an illogical way (for example, when someone says they can’t hang out because they are busy I immediately think they are telling me a lie because the truth would hurt me… the truth being that they don’t like me and don’t want to see me). I wish I had a more satisfactory answer for this, all I can think of is to keep doing what you are doing, spend time analyzing your feelings and try to include a more objective analysis of your thoughts.

I hope things get better.

 

"Would you consider foreskin restoration?"

Interesting question... I guess you either know that I'm circumcised (which is possible because naked pics of me exist online and I'm a snapchat exhibitionist) or you are making an educated assumption based on my place of birth. I'm going to answer it, but first I want to address language. I hope this isn't going to come off pedantic... I think words are very powerful and the ones we choose to use can shape the way we view the world, particularly the words we choose to tell ourselves the story of our own lives.

So, when you say "would you consider...", my first reaction is "Of course! Because I would seriously consider anything." We should always be open to thinking through things to see how we feel and to analyze why we feel that way. If we refuse to consider something then we do ourselves a disservice.

I think it is important to always consider your options and how you would respond to changes. Whether it is considering something about the future (what would happen if you found out your partner had one week to live? what would you do if you inherited $10,000,000), someone else's point of view (what would convince you to become communist? what conditions would lead you to atheism? at what point would you apply to be a police officer?), or the outcome of your own actions (what if you quit your job to focus full-time on your passion? what if you decided to divorce your spouse because you are unhappy and they are unsupportive?) it is a valuable thought experiment to consider these things and challenge your status quo.

In short, yes, I would (and have) considered foreskin restoration, but the interesting part is what the results of that consideration are. At this point in my life I am not interested in foreskin restoration. I've given it a lot of thought and I don't see a lot of tangible benefits, but it is something I tend to revisit every year or so and maybe I'll change my mind.

I think circumcision is absolutely wrong. I think my rights were violated as a child and my parent's failed in their parental duties to protect me, but I think they did what they thought was right. I was born in 1981, long before the internet provided a wealth of information at the fingertips of parents. My parents trusted doctor's and tradition, and understandably so. They were 20 years old and about to have their first child, they did their best but I think they were wrong in this case. I don't hold this against them at all.

But, I think parents today can't get off the hook that easily. The only morally justifiable reason for a parent to authorize the permanent removal of a piece of a child is if it is medically necessary. Circumcision is almost never medically necessary. It might be a religious ceremony, but children don't have a religion and can't consent to it. It might make raising a child more convenient for the parents, but cutting off a piece of your child for parental convenience is barbaric (people who want a convenient life shouldn't have children).

I realize that circumcision is very common in American culture and that makes it difficult to view it objectively. But I bet that if another culture had a tradition of using a hot iron to brand a religious symbol into the chest of children or used a surgical razor to slice the nipples off the male babies, we would see that as barbaric. Rights exist even if the person doesn't remember the incident, and a child's autonomy doesn't come secondary to a parent's aesthetic preferences.


“Hi Peter! First of all, thanks for doing this and being so open to questions. I am new to polyamory and wanted to ask if it was difficult for you to practice it initially. I am working through a lot of difficult emotions that arise every time my partner hangs out with his other partner. How can I learn to love through difficult emotions? If you experienced jealousy and fear going into polyamory, what helped you to cope and overcome it? Also, do you think you want to have children? If so, how do you envision that working in a polyamorous relationship?”

Hi! It is really my pleasure to answer questions and be open. I would totally do this for a living if I could… maybe I should start shamelessly plugging my Bitcoin or Paypal address to accept tips or turn this into a podcast.

Anyway, on to your questions.

I’m going to start at the end. I do not plan on having children. In fact, I got a vasectomy a few years back (10/10 – Would recommend). My partner and I have discussed adopting or fostering a child and we are open to it in theory at some point down the road, but it won’t be soon. So, I don’t have any real guidance or personal thoughts on that but there are definitely some books you should check out that can address those (and all) of the questions you’ve brought up.

“The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt is a classic in polyamory, Part II is all about navigating your non-monogamous relationship and includes dealing with jealousy, sharing partners time, etc. Part III, Chapter III is all about child rearing (to be honest, I skipped that chapter when I read it but I’m going to go back and read it now so that I can provide better guidance in the future.

“Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino is a more step-by-step guide to opening up your relationship. Sidenote: Tristan also produces wonderful feminist porn and sex guides to improving and trying new sexual stuff, everything from BDSM to threesomes to cunnilingus to new positions, she’s phenomenal. Similar to “The Ethical Slut”, within “Opening Up” there are chapters on troubleshooting, common problems, jealousy and other intense feelings, raising children, etc.

I would definitely check out those books in physical format or via Audible (though, personally, the physical book is better for taking notes and really internalizing the lessons). You can probably skip right to the chapters that address your concerns without missing much. There is something kind of awesome about listening to taboo stuff on your ride to work, especially if you use public transportation.

Okay, now that I’ve deferred to the experts, here are my thoughts and experiences

I’ll start off by saying that my partner and I are not polyamorous, we have a “monogamish” relationship that is more open than monogamy but we aren’t really interested in dating or falling in love with anyone else. We are open to that happening organically, but we aren’t putting any effort into it. The last time I really practiced polyamory was college and I kind of had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement with my partners. I didn’t live with any of them and there were no time or energy expectations. I also do not really feel jealousy very strongly, I used to be an extremely jealous person but that eventually faded away after taking several years off of dating and spending a lot of time in reflection and reading a variety of philosophers that lend themselves to logic instead of emotion. But that doesn’t really help you and I’m going to try my best to give actual advice.

I think the first thing to recognize is that your feelings are valid and can be addressed. I hope your partner is supportive of your feelings and doing all they can to minimize negative feelings. I think you should definitely talk with your partner about how you feel and try and figure out why you feel that way. Throughout our lives (particularly when we are younger) we develop patterns of thoughts and behaviors to link information (or schemata in psychology speak… see “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennett-Gould for more on this).

Difficult emotions have sources and when we discover those sources we can begin the healing process to overcome them… maybe you get jealous or anxious about your partner because you felt a parent or previous partner gave more attention or love to a sibling or someone else so subconsciously you feel like you will be eventually abandoned if your partner gives any attention to someone new (just a hypothetical to make a point). While the specifics of why you are having jealousy or fear may differ, I think there are some tools that can be beneficial.

First, talk things out with your partner. They should be loving, supportive, and not prescriptive. The key is for them to let you know that they are listening and that they value the relationship with you. Your goal is to express how things feel and why you might feel that way.

Second, I highly recommend a mindfulness meditation practice. There are tons of books and resources available (which can be overwhelming). “Headspace” is a great app that has guided meditations for a variety of situations including stress, frustration, “SOS”, anxiety, regret, anger, and relationships.

Third, if you haven’t met your partner’s partner then I would recommend doing that and getting to know them. Many negative emotions come from the unknown and we create a perfect image of another person. We make them more attractive, more articulate, more successful than they actually are. Our minds move to extremes until we encounter reality. This happens to everyone and the best antidote for assumptions is reality. So, meet the partner and realize that they have flaws and imperfections.

Lastly, and this is more of a short-term practical thing, make sure you have something to do and people to hang out with when your partner is with their partner. It is not unreasonable to come to a decision with your partner that you two coordinate plans so that the nights they go out overlap with your dates or scheduled fun time with friends. Also, make agreements that you will check-in via text a reasonable amount of times (maybe twice per night when out?... what is reasonable will vary but I think twice is good). Hopefully, your partner’s partner understands what may be going on and will understand if your partner needs to send a quick “Hey, we just finished dinner and are going to watch a movie, I’ll be home by 11pm, love you!” text.

So, don’t give up, your mind is malleable and under your control. Even the most jealous person can develop compersion* and support for their partners. I hope some of this helps.

* Compersion: The feeling of joy one has while knowing about another’s joy, generally used in polyamorous circles to express joy when your partner has a great date or sexual experience with someone else. Often called the opposite of jealousy.

 

"What do you do for work?"

Ah yes, the "work" question. I was pretty tempted to answer it like Tim Ferris does ("I'm a drug dealer"), but I'll give a more thorough answer. I'm going to assume that "work" means "way I spend my time to bring in money so that I don't die and have resources to enjoy life, but I wouldn't do this task if I was immortal or had no wants". That definition is a little clunky (and a little inaccurate for me because I actually work more than I "need" to) but it'll do.

My primary use of time for income is my role as a researcher and data analyst. I am technically freelance but I work solely for a company based out of Charleston. I work remotely, make my own hours, and mostly determine how many hours per week I work. I try to keep it to around 25-30 because working 40 hours a week interferes with my other interests and I find the quality of my work starts to deteriorate around that time.

I realize "researcher" and "data analyst" is kind of vague. Basically, I work with different organizations (usually local governments or non-profits) to assist with housing issues and navigate bureaucracy. Sometimes I'm helping a non-profit finish the necessary Environmental Reviews in order to construct affordable housing, sometimes I'm creating visualizations of demographic and housing data at the County level and providing advice to government officials on ways they can reduce the cost of housing in their community, and sometimes I'm helping a city navigate the HUD requirements for their funding. The firm I work for is always looking for new ways to create value so my job can change from week to week.

Now, in addition to my "time for cash" system, I am always trying to create more passive income. I haven't had huge success with this yet, mostly because I haven't really put much effort into it because I lack the incentive structure necessary. One way I've brought in very little income (but hey, every dollar helps) is the book I wrote and my blog. Every month Amazon deposits a little bit of money based on sales and any referrals from the affiliate program. I've also purchased some Bitcoin mining equipment through a company in Iceland that brings in about $20 a day, which isn't a ton but when you factor in the growth of crypto value I'm averaging about $10,000 per year from this... which isn't bad for something that requires zero effort on my part.

Ideally, I'd like to start spending more time on creation. I'm currently working on an audiobook recording of my book and I'd like to get into podcasting. I don't know if I'll ever have a huge source of passive income but if I have 5-10 sources that bring in $20 per day I could end up with $35k-$70k income (in addition to my researcher job). Considering my current annual expenses are less than $30k, that would be a pretty big income boost. When it comes down to it, my goal is to not work.

 

“I don't think we've ever met in person, but I've really enjoyed following your adventures on Facebook. I have been really impressed with your fitness journey - how did you motivate yourself to start running? It's something I've been trying to do lately for exercise both for myself and my dog but I cannot seem to enjoy it. Should I just resign myself to the fact that running isn't my thing or are there things I can try to like it more?”

Getting started with running was really difficult for me. When my partner and I decided to stop our bike ride I knew that I needed to start a fitness routine or I would get back to an unhealthy weight again. The truth is, the only times in my life when I have been really healthy were when it was a necessary part of my life… in the Army and on my bike tours. When I was in college and Washington DC I was close to 200lbs and I cringe every time photos of me during that time pop up on Facebook. And it wasn’t just weight, I used to break out in rashes/hives, was exhausted all the time, my sleep was terrible, my mental health was bouncing around, and I had no motivation. When I exercised regularly and ate right (for me my weight loss was about 80% diet and 20% exercise) those problems all kind of went away.

So, when the bike ride stopped I knew that I needed to stay active and decided to go with running. I was living in Myrtle Beach at the time and figuring out a bike route that was safe and would challenge me was difficult, it was much easier to find run routes between .5 and 5 miles than cycling routes between 5 and 20 miles. Now, I am not really a natural runner. I don’t particularly enjoy it (and sometimes dread it) and I find myself often fluctuating between boredom and exhaustion while running. But, with a few changes to my life, I got to the point where running was a healthy and happy part of my day. So, don’t resign yourself to the fact that running isn’t your thing, that type of mentality (whether it is about running or learning a foreign language or learning math or creating art) only sells you short of your potential. You can be a runner, just like I can. The joy of running comes with time and practice and accomplishments (I still remember how awesome I felt after my first 10-mile run).

I really found a handful of things that kept me going and built up my appreciation and relative enjoyment. First, start off slow and don’t compare yourself to others. My first runs were actually 1-mile run/walks, but I promised myself I would do it every single day and over time my runs got longer. The daily part was difficult at first but I set myself up for success by prepping everything the night before. I would make my coffee the night before (I drink a cup before I run), set out my clothing, and have my route all planned out. I also download any audiobooks, podcasts or music that I want to listen to. Basically, I remove any barrier that might prevent me from getting out the door because my will-power is ridiculously low in the mornings.

If you can, find someone that you can run with and commit to. My partner and I ran together a lot in the beginning and even ran together this morning. I’ve also found someone in my neighborhood that runs a couple of times a week and we will occasionally shoot a text at night to see if the person wants to go running the next morning. It helps if someone else is expecting you, but I know that can be difficult to find a physical person so use social media. Send a friend a Snapchat or Facebook message the night before or morning of when you need motivation. Share an Instagram photo of your planned route. Join a Facebook group filled with other people who are trying to make running a habit. Use social pressure to your advantage by creating incentives to get out the door.

Also, I find it really helpful to immerse myself in motivation (this works for non-fitness areas as well). One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is dick around on my phone for 15 minutes by scrolling Instagram and such. By subscribing to a bunch of feeds of people who are running or working I get motivated to get out there and be active as well. I also read a lot of books about health and nutrition to keep my mind on the prize. I highly, highly, highly recommend “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. That book, above all else, motivated me to push my body to the extreme and see what I am capable of… because we are capable of amazing things. Your body and mine are both basically the same as the bodies of our ancestors who crossed continents by foot without running shoes or power gel. You can be a runner, our bodies were built for it, and when we do the things we were built to do we feel satisfaction and joy. Yes, it will always be tiring but there is a certain euphoria and sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you started the day off on the right foot by prioritizing your health and returning to your ancestral roots of being a kick-ass human being out in the elements.

I hope that helps and I hope we get to meet in person someday!

 

"What do you think you've learned from Burning Man that translates into your everyday life? That's not to assume it has to be something of practical value. I think Burning Man is an awesome, hedonistic, and ephemeral event in its own right. But I'm curious what parts you find yourself thinking about most now."

Burning Man has increasingly become part of the world culture since the internet has allowed people to share their amazing photos and experiences out in the Nevada desert. As a "burner" I love and laugh when pop-culture makes a reference to Burning Man. Whether it is Jim telling Dwight that Cece was conceived in a port-a-potty at Burning Man (The Office) or Ruxin accusing Taco of holding company meetings in a sweat lodge at Burning Man (The League) to entire episodes of popular shows like Malcolm in the Middle that are dedicated to an unexpected trip to Black Rock City. These shows all play on the stereotypes of what happens out there, and there is some truth to the stereotypes, but still, the question "what is Burning Man?" is difficult to answer.

At its foundation, Burning Man is a community of around 80,000 that gathers together for one week to live their lives based on 10 Core Principles. But, no matter how many videos you watch or blog posts you read, you can't really understand what it is truly like or what it is "about" (if it is about anything). For one, the event is a living organism that changes every year. The art, camps, musicians, etc. change every year because they are all created by the community. There are no real event organizers that hire bands or set up events for people to do. The organizers simply make sure there are port-a-potties, set up "center camp" where you can get coffee and ice, and they mark out the roads. Everything else from the multi-million dollar sound stages that host musicians to the orgy dome to the bars to the art cars is all gifted by the community to the community. Each year differs from the last and every person's experience differs because it is what you make of it.

Which I think brings me to your question. There are many things that Burning Man has brought into my everyday life. One thing is that life is what you make of it. There are an infinite number of ways to live your life and you solely are in control of what path you will take. Our happiness, satisfaction, joy, and success are in our own hands and our failures are our own fault.

Secondly, everything (including our lives) is ephemeral. "This too shall pass". There is no reason to get caught up in acquiring things or worrying about the future because it is all going to be dust someday. It is much better to recognize our own cosmic insignificance and enjoy life.

Third, I can survive with very little. When you spend a week in the desert with nothing but a tent, some dry food, and water, and come out of it happier than you have ever been, it makes you realize that the important things in life aren't luxuries, they are the people and experiences you have. It becomes easy to live without air conditioning or a king size bed or a car... our bodies and minds are capable of thriving in discomfort, they were made to thrive in discomfort.

Fourth, at Burning Man I had healthy, non-traditional relationships modeled for me. I saw polyamorous groups that had raised children together. I saw professionals who used drugs responsibly. I met people who were traveling around the world in a bus with their teenage children and brought their children to Burning Man. Basically, I met people who were incredibly successful and happy because they broke out of the 9-5 work life, 2.5 children, white picket fence, monogamy, retire at 65 American Dream. To be honest, if I had met people like that growing up I would probably be much more interested in raising children, but I didn't... I only had a lifestyle that didn't appeal to me modeled and it turned me off of childrearing irreversibly.

Lastly, I think Burning Man has helped me realize that "home" is a fluid concept and isn't limited to our biological family or place of birth. When I go to Burning Man, I'm going home... but I'm also going home when I visit my friends in Los Angeles or San Diego or Portland or DC. A house isn't a home, it never is. A home is in our mind and being attached to a place that was important in the past is psychologically dangerous, it is better to let it all go.

I wish I was going to Burning Man this year, but I wish that every year. I miss having a place where I am surrounded by open-minded people and I can be 100% true to myself. Originally, I was interested in Burning Man because I thought it was all about drugs and sex and partying, but at my first burn I found out that it is much more than just that. It is a place of healing and community and love and acceptance, it is something that we all try and take back to the "default world" when we leave so that we can spread the joy and love to others. But, even though I miss Burning Man I realize that "home" is inside me and that there is a lot to experience in this world. Burning Man can be expensive and with a finite life right now it is more important to me to try other things. I'll be back someday though, either in this body or as dust to be burnt with the Temple.

"My partner has hinted at the idea of a threesome, and although he hasn't pushed the idea, I know he definitely would want to try it. My challenge is that while I do find myself occasionally attracted to women, and even enjoy lesbian porn, I have a strong tether to the concept of monogamy and faithfulness. I am afraid that if I tried a threesome with my partner, it would be a slippery slope and maybe he would leave me or find other sexual partners. I know this sounds like jealousy, but if you were raised in my family you would also feel there is no wiggle room in a marriage. How would you recommend I work through this? I don't want to limit myself or my partner to a Victorian notion of marriage"

First off, I think it is really awesome that you are even considering a threesome. A threesome is probably one of the more difficult experiences to take on. And I think your partner deserves some recognition for not being pushy about it as well. It seems he is willing to discuss his fantasies and sexual interests but he doesn't want you to feel uncomfortable, that is they way things should be.

Your feelings and concerns are all valid, but I believe they can be overcome (if that is what you want... and it sounds like it is). One important thing to remember is that he wants to do this with you, he wants this to be an experience you two have together. Remember, he is with you for a lot of reasons beyond sex, having a threesome is unlikely to cause him to cheat and the only slippery slope is that you may find that you like it and you two have more new experiences together... but, a threesome is kind of at the end of the slippery slope, there isn't a whole lot more difficult than that to navigate.

So, how do you work through this? Babysteps, communication, and planning. If you decide to try out a threesome I think the most important question to ask is who the third person will be. There are plenty of options, each with pros and cons. You can go with a friend, there could be a lower risk of feelings of jealousy because you know the person already and jealousy usually stems from the unknown when we put someone up on a pedastal. With a friend, you know their flaws, but with a friend there is a chance that things could get awkward in the future if they turn down your offer or if things don't go perfectly smoothly in threesome (spoiler: things will NOT go perfectly smoothly... threesomes are people getting used to each other's bodies, minds, and preferences... you will laugh, it will be awkward and goofy, life isn't porn).

You can also go with a stranger, but that has some risks involved as well. If you are worried about your partner falling for this stranger I think you should express that concern and then take steps to prevent concern. It can happen in a city far away from where you live, maybe while on vacation, and you can agree not to contact each other after the hookup.

The best option is to find a professional sex worker. There is no risk of falling in love, a professional will discuss exactly what you want and make sure you both have a good time without violating any established rules.

So, if you decide to go through with this you should set up some initial ground rules. Any rule is on the table that will make you more comfortable. Maybe no vaginal penetration of the partner or no kissing or only you provide his orgasm or anything else you can think of. I don't know if he is reading this, but if he is I have one very clear message for him: FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES! If you love your partner and want any chance at future threesomes then you will agree to the rules and follow them to the letter, hell, err on the side of caution and check in with your partner regularly.

Also, just as important as anything else, remember that the other person involved is not just a sex object. They should be involved in the conversation a bit because you are having a relationship with them as well, at least for a night. This is also an area where hiring a professional can make things easier and where inviting a friend to join can make things more complicated.

So, I mentioned before that threesomes are at the end of the slippery slope (at least for heterosexual relationships). This is mostly because of the natural gender imbalance where one person may feel left-out or the perceived emotional risk is higher for one partner. Another option you might want to consider is a foursome or "swap" with another couple, that will reduce any risk of emotional attachment and things will be a bit more even. You can also baby-step by going to your local swinger's club just to observe and flirt and hang out, just establish the ground rules ahead of time. Another option is to have same-room sex with another couple where you can see and hear the other person but you all agree to no-touching.

I know how difficult this can be for you. I grew up in a very conservative home where monogamy was the only option. I actually planned on my first kiss being on my wedding day. The way I moved beyond it was exposing myself to new experiences and having supportive partners. It sounds like you have a supportive partner and are willing to try new things, that really is half the battle. And remember, if you are willing to explore this with your partner then he will be willing to explore something that you're interested in as well... whether that is a threesome with a guy or something non-sexual. Partnerships sometimes involve us doing things we aren't enthusiastic about for our partners because we love them and we want them to explore all the world has to offer. I think relationships end much more often when things get stagnant or one person feels restricted than when partners try new things together in a healthy and open way.

 

"Please settle a years-long debate: Dolphin vs giant squid, who wins?"

Is it a normal size dolphin? If so, then the giant squid wins. It has a bird beak the size of a refrigerator and can spit ink into the dolphin's face. All the dolphin can do is try to have sex with every hole the squid has... which is annoying, but not really a way to win. The squid will probably eat the dolphin mid-coitus like some kind of weird black widow.

 

"I have a friend that considers me a "best" friend, but the relationship feels one-sided to me. I don't feel that the support and emotional investment is reciprocated, so this relationship can be exhausting for me. Have you ever cut a friendship out or parsed it down? If so, how did it go and are you happier because of it?"

I've cut out several relationships in my life, mostly when it became obvious that they were toxic to me. I usually just kind of fade away by ignoring messages and such... probably not the best or most mature way to do it but it usually works. And yes, I'm happier because of it. Some people enter our lives for a finite amount of time and holding on to them actually makes our lives worse. Not everything is eternal.

I will say, if you want this friendship to work then there might be ways to fix things. People have different "love languages" and they may feel like everything is fair. Take, for example, my best friend since 4th Grade. His primary love language is primarily "gift giving" but mine is "physical touch". So, he'll buy me birthday gifts but I don't feel like they mean much because that isn't how my brain works, and I'm sure he doesn't see my visits/hugs/etc as being as important as me purchasing gifts for him. But, because we value our friendship and realize we are different we are able to recognize that each of us is doing our best. Ideally, you learn the love language of your friends and are able to fulfill them, even if they don't mean much to you. (See: "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman... you can ignore the theological stuff).

 

"Your other responses inspired me so I'm seeking advice. I've been seeing someone for a few months now and I've developed strong feelings for them, but these feelings hit a tipping point when I decided to tell this person that I'm falling for them. Their response didn't exactly address my feelings directly (in other words I didn't get ily back) which is fine but now I'm feeling rejected in the sense that I can't imagine myself ever telling this person how I feel again (at least for a while). Is my reaction irrational? Does there response speak to them being less likely to see a future with me? Am I a place holder in their life?"

I don't think your reaction is irrational. You made yourself vulnerable and feel hurt by their response because they didn't open up or share your feelings. I think it is impossible to tell from this situation whether there will be a future with them or not. Most relationships involve one person falling in love faster than the other person. Maybe they will grow to love you and you will have a long future with them, or maybe they don't see a future but see you as a "fun for now" relationship. There is no real way to know without talking directly with them about this.

I should note, that I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with being in a "fun for now" relationship. If you see it as that and enjoy the lovin' that you get until you drift apart then it is a successful relationship. If that isn't what you are looking for right now then you should be straight with them and try to discuss the future. If you two have different goals for the future then it might be a good idea to politely go separate ways instead of trying to make it work.

 

"First of all, you're awesome and inspiring! I just bought your book and am looking forward to reading it. Your openness and honesty is really powerful and helps many people grow. Something I'm curious about... what do you mean when you say you're a "Stoic Hedonist?" I feel like I can relate since I'm a fan of both philosophies and finding the balance between them, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the two philosophies and how they may intertwine despite being apparent opposites. Thanks!"

Aww, thanks! I hope you enjoy the book, it means so much to me that my friends have been so supportive of my writing.

So, what do I mean by Stoic Hedonism? Well first, I should state that I haven't really done any reading on the actual Hedonistic philosophy but I have read some Stoic stuff. I think my Stoic perspective is more closely aligned with the ancient philosophy and my Hedonism perspective is more aligned with the assumptions and "pop" version of the philosophy.... just wanted to get my perspective out of the way first.

Stoic Hedonism is the split between how I view the world that is outside of my control and how I view the world inside of my control. When dealing with events that are beyond my control or deal with other people, I am a stoic. I think it is a waste of time and energy to concern myself with what other people do and I would be better off remaining ignorant of many world events. If something is not actionable then it should be ignored. I can't change what is happening in China or Mars or in the home of someone in Oregon, so it isn't worth stressing or being sad or upset about. Embracing negative emotions due to things outside of my control actually makes things worse.

Now, internally I am more of a Hedonist. When I plan what I'm going to do with the things that are within my control I try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Not only that, I think we humans were built to enjoy life as much as possible in a variety of ways. Food, sex, adrenaline, accomplishments, exploration, adventures, etc. are all the reason for living. We have a very short life and we should embrace every opportunity to suck out the marrow. Because of this, I tend to have a relatively short time horizon (I save a little for the future* but it isn't a huge concern) and I follow the advice of Christ, Buddha, and many other great thinkers... we are not guaranteed tomorrow and we should live in the moment. The present is all we have.

That's what I mean by Stoic Hedonism. I view the world as a Stoic and I view my life as a Hedonist. Or, as my goddess Kesha says in her new song "Let 'Em Talk"

-Do whatever makes you happy
-And screw everything else if you ask me
-'Cause life is short and we only got one shot
-So let's go balls-out, give it everything we got
-Don't let those losers take your magic, baby
-Shake that ass, don't care if they talk about it
-Fuck all that, haters, just forget about 'em

 

"First off I want to say you're my favorite person that I've never met. You most the best things, maybe I'm biased because we agree on so many things. My question though was something I just randomly thought of earlier, in what ways, if any, has your sexual experience changed after having a vasectomy?"

 That's so sweet and awesome. I hope we can correct that and meet someday. Hmm, but then I would just be your 87th favorite person that you've met instead of your favorite person that you haven't. I'm not sure how I feel about this... it is a big fish little pond vs little fish big pond conundrum.

Anyway... on to your question. The vasectomy made sex even better because I didn't need to wear a condom with my partner any more. It felt better and we saved money. Other than that, there wasn't much effect. I had to take a couple of weeks off of orgasming while the stitches healed and I was pretty tender for a while, but that was a small price to pay for sterilization. My genital piercing had a MUCH larger effect on sex. If you (or your partner, friends, strangers, etc) have the opportunity to get a vasectomy I highly recommend it.

 

"How did you get your job? Did you study for it or did it just fall in your lap."

Neither? Both and more? I wouldn't say it fell into my lap, that makes it seem way more passive and luck-based than it was. I think it really came down to two factors: networking and risk-taking. I found out about my current job from a friend of a friend. In fact, every single job I've had since graduating college came into my life because of someone I knew. Networking is key, and the key to networking is authenticity... which brings me to point two.

I'm sure there are people who shudder at how open I am with my life. I think there is a mindset that we should be afraid of who we are or guard our views because we are afraid of scaring away potential employers. That really hasn't been my experience. I met my current employer through a friend BECAUSE of how open I am with my views. Before this job I was employed in Los Angeles BECAUSE I took a summer off and rode my bike across the country alone. Also, I have my current job BECAUSE I was traveling the country for two years by bike. While on the bike ride my friend of a friend offered me a part time (~5 hours per week) position at his company, he never could have filled that position with a traditional employee because the hours were too low but someone like me with minimal expenses that is comfortable working remotely was perfect, and that job evolved into my current role.

I left on that biking adventure unemployed but I knew that everything would work out, not because of some magic or fate or blessing from my pantheon of gods or luck or divine plan, but because new opportunities only come into your life when you step outside your door and are true to yourself. Risk comes before opportunities. Happiness and success come from aligning your life up with your values, and your values include all your kinks, passions, and viewpoints.

*Ironically, it is my risk-taking and neglecting my student loans and saving for the future that helped me have new employment opportunities and make more money. If I had taken the "safe" route of staying in DC I would probably have less saved for retirement than I do now. Saying "fuck it, I'm not paying back my student loans or worry about retirement because I don't want to be one of those people who don't have adventures until they are older, I want to live my life NOW" ended up being a better fiscal move.

 

“Why isn't god being blamed for the current terror attack on Florida? Why isn't Trump trying to deport god? Should Florida build a wall to keep all the god terrorism out?”

Interesting questions, I’ll tackle them one at a time.
I think some people are blaming god for Hurricane Irma and the devastation that it has brought to the Caribbean and Florida. People also blamed god for Hurricane Harvey, as well. I have never heard it called a “terrorist attack” though, but I think that phrasing might have more validity than first appears. If there is a conscious deity with some sort of free will, then causing (or allowing) such seemingly needless destruction in order to get people to ask for forgiveness or something could be classified as a terrorist attack. It is all a matter of perspective, I’m sure Osama bin Laden didn’t see the 9/11 as terrorism, they may have seen it as punishment for the US meddling in the affairs of other countries. Finding the right words is always tricky because each person receiving the words has their own perspective and biases that they place on them.

I don’t think Trump is trying to deport god because I don’t think Trump really believes god exists. But, then again, I don’t know if he actually believes most of the terrible things he says about immigrants is true either. I think if Trump thought it would bring him support or power he would stand up against god, but right now we live in a country that overwhelmingly believes in god or is fairly apathetic about the issue. Besides, in order to deport someone you need the power to do so and I don’t think INS has the resources or weaponry necessary to deport god… if god is even in America.

No, Florida shouldn’t build a wall to keep the god terrorism out. They shouldn’t build a wall for any reason. It would be ridiculously expensive and complete ineffective. I don’t think walls stop god, unless he is a vampire and you can make the claim that a country is like a house and he needs permission to come in. Wait, but I’m sure someone would just invite him in, so that won’t stop anything. Florida would be better off spending their money on infrastructure improvements and removing incentives (like subsidized hurricane insurance) from areas that are high-risk.

 

“Hey, Peter, I need some dating advice. I'm 26, work a great job, live by myself in a nice apartment, work out, etc. I have no problem getting a date. I can go on a dating app on Monday and have a weekend date by Friday. However, no matter who I go out with or how much I do or do not like them after a date or two, I can never seem to get past the third date. At best, I'm probably a very self-aware nice guy. At the worst, I'm still a hopeless nice guy. I don't think my circumstance is all that unusual, but I wanted to see your answer because everything else online seems kind of vague. Or, maybe I just don't know what to do with the advice. As soon as a woman expresses obvious interest in me, I am almost immediately turned off and want to press my luck with someone else. Sometimes I don't make past the third date because I don't want to go out with them anymore. However, some of these women probably would make great girlfriends, and looking back I kind of feel bad for not going out with some again or not offering more of an explanation for my disinterest. For the women who don't express obvious interest, I immediately see a challenge. I want to put all my chips on the table. However, I've realized that this will quickly put me in the friend zone. Recently, I went out with a woman who was obviously guarded and not ready to get into relationship, though she did seem somewhat interested. This was an interesting scenario I had not encountered before. So, I tried to balance my interest by actively trying not to overwhelm her, which resulted in me not making a move as soon as I may have with others. She interpreted this as lack of mutual interest from me, even though she admitted that my analysis of her guarded but interested stance was fair. She said she was sorry for misinterpreting and was glad I told her how I felt, though she had moved on and my opportunity is now dead. So - two questions: How do I find balance in my attraction for what I can't have and disinterest for what I can. Second, how do I express interest or intent for a person without falling into the friend zone? Please answer on your blog and via Facebook post if you would be so kind.”

Hey! Oh man, I don’t know if I am the best person to talk to about dating advice but I’ll do my best. I was pretty terrible at dating.

I think you should first determine why you want to date at all. Are you just trying to get laid? Are you looking for a lifetime partner? Are you just looking for something to do on a Saturday night? How you answer that question will shape the way you approach dating. And maybe you should consider not dating for a while. I think we put too much pressure on people to be dating. If someone isn’t interested in finding a partner at that time we always expect something to be wrong with them, but you have a lot of time ahead of you.

You’re 26 and, assuming you went to college, you have really only been a free adult in the working world for about 4 years. That is about 1/15th of your adult life, you should consider just enjoying it and not taking things too seriously. If your mind/body/spirit is tuning people out after three dates then maybe you aren’t ready to settle down for longer than 2 dates.

So, I think you should just kind of follow your instincts on this. Go out casually, have fun, and then stay in touch with the people you meet. Build up your social group and maybe let some of these Tinder dates turn into friends instead of partners.

Oh, and be open and honest with people. Dating is kind of shitty and tough, playing games just makes it shittier and tougher. Don’t worry about playing hard to get or seeming too interested, if you want to see someone then see them and if you don’t anymore then be honest. And if you really think there is something wrong with you that will prevent you from staying interested in someone long-term then I think there are two things you can do.

First, talk to a therapist (really, everyone should talk to a therapist), find one in your area that you connect with and talk to them about your dating experiences. Maybe there is something in your past that is subconsciously turning you off because you are afraid of being hurt or maybe porn and rom-coms have numbed you to how the real world works or maybe finding someone on an app is a superficial way to find a date and you need something that develops more slowly over time, going through friendship first and eventually becoming more. Go meet people at intramural sports leagues or a D&D game or running club or church or hang out at house parties.

Second, go on the third, fourth, and fifth date even if you aren’t feeling it (as long as you aren’t completely repulsed by the person). Maybe there is just a hump you need to get over. If the person is a good person and you have fun with them, then keep going on dates and build up the friendship more. I don’t think three dates is enough time to determine long-term compatibility, so maybe you just aren’t giving it enough time. Oh, and date multiple people at the same time. You can be going on date three with person #1 while still pursuing new person #2. Nobody expects you to be exclusive until it is explicitly discussed, these women are probably seeing multiple guys too.

So, that’s my advice. Again, I haven’t dated in a long time and I was pretty terrible at it. Every serious relationship I have ever had came from meeting my partner through a friend. I had a couple of one-night stands via apps, but nothing that I’d call a relationship. Most importantly, don’t worry about it too much. You are still growing and learning and developing who you are as a person.

 

"What are some of the reasons you reject a partner's sexual advancements? It's really hard not to take it personally when mine explains it as, "I don't know... just doesn't feel right," even though we've been together for a while and had a seemingly great day."

I think there are three primary reasons why I have turned down sex in the past with a partner. The first is just circumstantial... maybe I'm tired or not in the mood or ate too much ice cream and feel bloated and gassy. While this is unfortunate, it isn't really a problem. Though, it is an opportunity to learn and take Dan Savage's lesson of "fuck first" to heart. If you think that sex is likely it is best practice to take care of it before you go out on the date or go to a wedding or whatever. That way, you have the energy necessary for some bumpin' and grindin'. Also, (at least in my experience) fucking early in the day gets the engine going and ready for a round two or three later in the day.

Circumstantial issues can become a series problem if the circumstances are going to continue for the foreseeable future. Say, for example, one person has a job that requires 60+ hours of work a week and they are too tired all the time. That is something that needs to be discussed and addressed in order for everyone to be happy. The way this is addressed can take many forms including agreeing to and scheduling sex ahead of times, agreeing to temporary abstinence for a few months, or a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement to sleep with other people.

The second reason is when I feel like my partner and I are in a sexual rut. Sex usually gets routine. The excitement and curiosity fade away as we become more efficient lovers for our partners. Humans love variety (it is the spice of life, after all)... it's normal, natural, and is kind of sucky, especially when the fading is uneven. This is more difficult to overcome than the circumstantial but it isn't a relationship killer. It might mean you need to sit down and discuss this openly and explore ways to spice things up. Try new positions, schedule certain days for oral sex only or focusing on one partner, talk about some kink or costumes or dirty talk, watch some porn together, discuss your fantasies, take a bath together, try some drugs, experiment with anal... basically discuss your curiosities and explore them a bit.

Also, when the rut happens I think it is important to commit to lowering the enthusiasm bar necessary to have sex. I think it was Mike Birbiglia who said one piece of advice that he'd give married couples is to have more sex. Instead of waiting until everyone is "Hell yeah! 100%! I can't wait to get in/on/around/under you! Let's make the neighbors complain about all the headboard banging that's about to happen! Let's fuck!!!!" you can agree to start banging as long as everyone is at least "Hmm, I might be open to it. 60%. I'm not really in the mood but I'm not disgusted by the idea. Could you maybe go down on me to get things started? Or a sensual massage might warm me up".*

The final reason poses the greatest problems. It is possible that two people are no longer sexually compatible. If that's the case then you both need to make a decision about whether the status quo is sustainable long-term. It isn't fair for either party to be asked to a life of sexual dissatisfaction and I imagine trying to keep a relationship together will lead to resentment and hatred (when ending things while on good terms could allow a friendship to continue). There is nothing morally wrong with wanting kinky, crazy, multi-person sex twice a day and there is nothing morally wrong with only wanting sex once a year in the missionary position with the lights out. Sexual problems exist because of incompatibility, not because one person is a deviant or a prude. Sexual desires change over time and two people who were perfectly compatible in the first two decades of their relationship may find that their needs have changed. When that happens it might mean breaking up, or it might mean everyone consenting to needs being met outside of the relationship. Lots and lots of people have a form of open relationship where one partner gets certain sexual needs met by someone other than their spouse or romantic partner.

I think there is also significant middle ground between these three options. Maybe a series of circumstantial issues are actually a sign of a rut and circumstances are an easy excuse. Or maybe a rut is a sign of shifting sexual needs that mean incompatibility is on the horizon. Regardless, the best thing to do is sit down and talk about it. Express how you feel clearly (without blaming your partner... remember to use "I feel" phrases instead of "You make me feel") and be open-minded to your options. You (probably) love each other and want to have very little stress between you, and you want each other to be happy and satisfied in life. Take time with your options and agree to experiment with each.

* Consent is ALWAYS necessary but I think the level of enthusiasm can vary as a relationship deepens. I think the first time people have sex everyone should be pretty close to 100% enthusiasm but when in a relationship that initial enthusiasm can be less.

 

"I have a friend who just got into a relationship with a guy that I know is a perpetual cheater. I know both from what I've seen and from my own experience. This person lied to me about being in a relationship while we were fucking. Then messaged me consistently for years while still in a relationship trying to get me to do it again. He didn't leave me alone until I told his girlfriend what was happening. 
I want to warn my friend so she is aware. However, I'm afraid it's going to look like I'm looking for revenge and end badly.
So how do I go about this? Do you think there is a way I could go about this constructively? Or should I not even bother and mind my own business."

One of the benefits of having close friends is you have someone who will be honest with you about your relationships. We all need someone who can see things more clearly than we can and can draw attention to any red flags.

You should tell your friend about this guy's past. You shouldn't try to convince her to break up with him (necessarily) and you shouldn't make this subject the focal point of all your conversations with her, but she should be aware of his cheating past and you aren't being a good friend if you hide that from her. Be open, be honest, be understanding, and support her regardless of what decision she makes with this information.

I've given a lot of advice to friends that they didn't want to hear. I've told friends that they shouldn't go through with a wedding. I've told friends that I'm worried about their alcohol consumption. I've told friends that they are in an emotionally abusive relationship or that they should quit their job or that they are behaving in a self-destructive way. And I'm still friends with all those people, very good friends. If your friendship ends because you care about your friend being hurt and you won't sit by while they put themselves in danger, then that friendship probably isn't that strong.

Of course, there is a time and place for expressing your concern. I think the best option would be to take your friend out to brunch or drinks and just lay it all out there. Tell her that while you were seeing this guy he was in a relationship that he was lying about, tell her that he wouldn't leave you alone until you told his girlfriend the truth. Tell your friend that you are primarily worried about her getting hurt and think she should have all the information so that she can be aware of any patterns that may imply he is cheating on her. Then, after you have said everything and reaffirmed that you are going to support her, you drop the subject and don't bring it back up. If she wants to keep talking about it then you should be there to support her, but don't make it a conversation that you bring up.

It sounds like this guy is a cheating piece of shit. Some people can change their ways and I don't believe the "once a cheater, always a cheater" mantra*, but in order for people to change they must WANT to change. And this guy needs to prove that he wants to change, he has a higher burden of proof to prove that he can be trusted than someone who doesn't have a history of cheating. A romantic relationship is one of the most intimate and important relationships that someone will enter and you are being a good friend if you let your friends know of potential dangers in that relationship.

Would you let your friend rent an apartment that you knew was filled with bedbugs? Would you let your friend accept a job with a company that you knew broke the contract they made with their employees? Would you let your friend buy a car from someone with a history of selling lemons or defrauding customers? I hope not... and this is much more important than those things. She is exposing herself to potential health risks if he is sleeping with more than one person without telling her and she is exposing herself to heartbreak if he is cheating on her. Transparency is good, and friends are a way to get a new view on things to increase transparency.

*I'll admit that I would be a huge hypocrite if I advocated for "once a cheater, always a cheater". I've cheated in the past. In fact, I cheated on my current partner years ago. I realized the error of my ways and my partner and I have moved on, but I wouldn't have changed my behavior because other people put pressure on me, I had to do it for myself.

 

"Hi! It has been a "pipe dream" of mine to go to Burning Man, but recently it is becoming more plausible (within the next year or two) due to my location and finances. How would you recommend I plan for attending Burning Man based on your experience? I really don't know where to start! Thanks in advance"

You should go!!!!!! I really, truly believe that everyone with a passing interest in Burning Man should go. Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated and it is still an environment in which you can experience some truly transformative moments.

So, what should you know to be ready? First off, be aware of what Burning Man is and the environment you are entering. It is a week in the Nevada desert without established food, water, or shelter. You are responsible for bringing in everything you will need. There are no stores and buying things is explicitly against the culture (the two exceptions being ice and coffee). You will also be several hours away from any major city and you can't leave and return. You need to be there with everything you will need. Of course, an underground economy exists but it is minimal and frowned upon.

If being removed from "civilization" doesn't deter you (it shouldn't) then read up on the 10 Principles of Burning Man and make sure you are at least somewhat interested in visiting a city of ~70,000 who gather because of those principles. If that sounds lovely then you need to find someone who has been to Burning Man before and see if you can spend the approaching months picking their brain and possibly camp with them (I am volunteering for this role).

I really, really, really don't think first-timers should go alone. Not only is it difficult to be properly prepared but it is also a huge culture shock and having a guide really helps the transition into and out of Black Rock City*. This isn't a small festival, it is a reasonably sized city with all the pros and cons that come with that, but it is also a blank slate that you can make whatever you want it to be. You can find all-night parties, small Irish pubs, thunderdome, yoga studios, classes put on by college professors, cuddle parties, more art than you can ever imagine, an orgy dome, gyms, and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Navigating that is much easier if there is someone that you will see regularly and talk to about what you are experiencing and can give you suggestions.

So, if you are interested in going and have someone to go with, you really need to spend about a year properly preparing because it can be expensive and there are lots of logistics to organize. First off, how are you going to get there? There is a small airport but you won't be able to transport all your stuff via plane. Most people drive, so what are you going to drive? Rental cars are difficult because most rental places make you sign a waiver saying that you aren't going to Burning Man because the dust is pretty harmful to cars (and people). If you live within 1,000 miles you can drive your car or maybe rent a car or RV (be prepared to pay a premium to get it cleaned). RVs have become increasingly popular since they started issuing limited vehicle passes.

Once transportation is secured you need to figure out where you will sleep (in a vehicle, a tent, build a yurt, etc), what you will eat and drink, and what drugs/alcohol you will need. You also will want outfits (or at least weather appropriate clothing, nudity during the day is common but at night things are a bit chilly).... I'm getting too detailed. There are plenty of packing lists online... what's important is that you buy a ticket early (they usually sell out in minutes) and spend the 9 months or so before the Burn preparing. All the logistics can easily fall into place though, the most important thing is to have a desire to go and find someone to guide you.

Hopefully you go, and maybe I'll see you out there soon. I haven't been since 2014 but it looks like 2018 or 2019 I'll be there again.

*Get used to Burning Man being called a lot of things. It is Black Rock City, The Playa (which means desert in Spanish), Home, The Burn, and many others.

 

"Hi Peter! Love your insights! I just recently bought a home and my boyfriend will be moving in with me in about 2 months. I'm working to enjoy creating my home while also working to make space for him because I want him there with me. What are some things we should know or do before during and after this transition? Thanks!!"

First off, congrats! It is wonderful to hear that you purchased a house and your relationship is evolving.

So, I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no "right" way to arrange your relationship or home. I am sure you had a certain set-up modeled for you by your parents and friends, but you can set things up however you wish.

I think important things to consider are communication, finances and expenses, routine and personal space, and sex. First, recognize how you both communicate best and how you like to handle any serious "talks" that you will inevitably need to have. Whether it is sending a long email, scheduling weekly/monthly meetings, or contacting each other immediately when an issue comes to mind, it is best to get your styles out in the open so that you can establish a system.

Finances and expenses are always a possible point of conflict. It is best to discuss early how you plan on handling them. For example, my partner and I keep everything separate. We don't go in communally on food and have separate bank accounts. When one of us covers an shared expense (electricity, internet, etc) we put it on a shared google spreadsheet and at the end of the month we balance things out. We do the same thing for groceries that make sense to share (coffee and condiments, mostly). We also take care of all our own meals and rarely cook/eat together. I know some couples take the completely opposite approach and everything is communal, the key is to find what works best for you two. An additional thing to keep in mind is how being the homeowner is going to impact your relationship because it creates a power imbalance. Is he paying you rent? Do you have veto power over modifications to the house but he doesn't?

We all have daily routines that we take for granted. Some people rise early and drink coffee while reading a book to calmly start the morning, while others wake later and run out the door with barely a shower. I think it would be valuable to just be aware of what your daily routine is and how much personal space you need for it, and how that might be disrupted by someone else living with you. There will definitely be some disruptions to the routine and invasion of your personal space but it is usually manageable with some patience and communication. Another thing to consider is whether you want any parts of the house that are uniquely your own (I recommend it), whether it is a room or a desk I think there is value in having space that each of you completely controls the design of and what goes on in that area. Included in routines is cleanliness, do you pick up everything daily but your partner has a big cleaning spree once a week? Do dishes sit overnight? Does your partner leave toothpaste and shaved hair sprinkled around the bathroom in the morning because he is rushed? How often and thoroughly is the bathroom cleaned? Again, no right or wrong answer, but if there is a difference between you here it is good to recognize that and find a solution early.

Lastly, sexual expectations are another area that may change and warrants consideration. Being around each other can slow sex drive and differing expectations can cause conflict. In my experience, before two people move in together sex tends to happen during the relatively short window of time when you are hanging out, but after you live together certain preferences and routines start to come out. Does one of you prefer mornings while the other evenings? Daily, weekly, monthly, less? Romance and foreplay or just jump into the orgasms? How important is variety or the frequency of certain kinks, positions, etc.? Oh, and this might not apply, but do you have problems with his use of pornography and does he have a problem with you using it.

Basically, you should both give some thought to all aspects of your life and open up a way to communicate when there is some friction between you two. Living with someone is an absolutely amazing experience, but there will be some growing pains. Congrats again and, I'd love to get an update about how it all goes (I would keep that private, of course, I'm just curious  )

 

"My partner and I have been together for several years now and I have never had an orgasm. I've recently told him that I've been faking so he didn't feel bad and he's tried a little to help but he gives up easily and nothing is resolved. I've tried to help but it doesn't seem to work. What can we do? I feel so unhappy constantly and I want it to be mutually beneficial especially since I've been helping him out for several years while I've sat in the shadows."

I'm a little unsure about some of the details but I'm going to respond as best I can. I'm assuming this is a male/female heterosexual relationship because that is the most common. If I get something wrong please let me know, but hopefully, the advice is still valid.

I went back and forth about what advice to give. My first instinct was to tell you to dump your partner. Not because you have not had an orgasm with him (or ever?) because some of that falls on you. But, his response of a half-ass effort and you feeling unhappy constantly and like you've been helping him for several years while sitting in the shadows points to a deeper problem in the relationship.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt though (at least to keep the discussion going). Maybe he is really willing to get you to orgasm but he felt a little hurt or betrayed or his ego was bruised from finding out that you lied to him for years. If he really is willing to change his behavior then you two need to spend a lot of time figuring out what works for you and don't be embarrassed about whatever it is. We all need to advocate for our own sexual satisfaction.

I realize that there is a lot of shame around sex, particularly for women and women are socialized to be passive sexually. Men, on the other hand, tend to be encouraged to demand their orgasm and porn teaches us that sex ends when the man ejaculates. Like Dan Savage says, "if a man needs a goat in a canoe in the corner of the room to orgasm then every bedroom would have a goat in a canoe in the corner of the room"... so, if you need a goat in a canoe then tell your partner.

But, more likely, you may need to add whatever techniques you use for masturbation into your partnered sex life. Most sexual partners that I've had have needed to touch their own clitoris or be in a certain position or have music on in order to orgasm. Tell your partner what you need and what he should do to get you off, and he should do it. He shouldn't be giving up easily and you shouldn't get him off until he gets you off. You should come first most (if not all) the time. I general, we should aim for at least a 1-to-1 orgasm-to-orgasm ratio in a relationship.

Now, there is one more issue to address.

Don't. Fake. Orgasms. You deserve to be sexually satisfied and honesty is necessary for that. Your partner's ego shouldn't be so fragile that it is hurt by you simply saying "hey, this isn't working for me this time". There have been times when a partner of mine wasn't able to orgasm, and that is okay. Sometimes, the hormones just aren't working or someone is tired or not in the mood, which is fine. If your partner is too lazy or too fragile for you to be able to openly discuss your orgasm needs and have them put forth the effort to get you there then you should dump them.

 

"The two times I've been around you I've been far far too shy to even speak to you intelligently. I kick myself for that because I think it's unlikely I'll get a chance to sit down and talk with you in person. It's funny how the internet, especially the way you do it, creates such a sense of intimacy but it evaporates in the"real world." I would like to have a beer, talk about life and maybe even do a little MDMA with you. But I get in my own way. I know in the past you've said you are shy in person. How do you push yourself to meet and connect with people the way you do?"

I hope we get a chance to sit down and talk in person. Luckily, life is long and filled with unexpected twists and turns (especially if you are like me and like to travel and have adventures), and maybe we will end up in the same town for a while. Or, more likely, if we start chatting we can prioritize seeing each other. You gotta make things happen and work hard to keep connections alive in our meat and flesh world.

I also get in my own way when around other people. I am introverted and somewhat shy and find myself second-guessing the environment around me. I feel like I am a burden on people or that they don't really want to hang out with me and that kills my self-confidence making it difficult to approach people, even people that I've had great conversations with in the past. I don't know how to really overcome it other than recognizing the issue and pushing through. I kind of suck at meeting people, but I've found the best advice comes from Keanu Reeve's character in "Hardball", the most important thing in life is to just show up. So, I try and show up places and meet people. Yes, sometimes that means I go home and curl up for two days because all my introvert batteries have been depleted, but it is worth it.

Also, there is also the common problem of connections online not really developing into connections in the real world. I've had people that I've had incredibly deep and intimate conversations with online but when we've met in person the interaction fell flat. I don't know if it was having expectations that I shouldn't have had or what, but the connection just wasn't there.

I think MDMA is a way around that though. The smoothest and best transition from online friend to real life friend happened years ago when I lived in LA. I met a person through Facebook and after over a year of talking he ended up visiting LA with his wife. We'd talked about rolling together and when they arrived at our house we all popped some Molly and just let the good times take over. That experience was an incredible way to bond with a stranger and we are close friends to this day. I think it is dangerous to have a friendship based solely on drugs (including alcohol or politics) but drugs can be a valuable tool to bring people together and overcome mental barriers that we have.

So, please stay in touch with me and hopefully, we can chat more and get a deeper connection... and when the opportunity comes for us to meet in person we can figure out how to move forward.

 

"As purely a mental exercise, what are your thoughts on incest? Should it be socially acceptable if both parties are consensual and there is no power dynamic imbalance?"

This may be the most common sex/kink related question I get (though, zoophilia is a close second). I think I blogged about it over at my website (www.peterneiger.com) at some point actually. Some sort of incest taboo interest is super common, if you look on any porn site you will see "step-brother", "step-mother", etc porn is very popular. There is likely a power-dynamic issue in play with that type of pornography, but the incest taboo is certainly being flirted with regularly in today's society. (Side note: I don't think that what we search for in porn is really reflective of what we want in life, it is a quick fantasy that we get to live out in a healthy way.... just like video games or movies, it would be cool to live in a D&D Skyrim world for a couple of hours but it isn't really what any of us would want out of our life).

Anyway, so whoever asked this shouldn't feel embarrassed or anything. It is important to question all taboos and social norms in order to determine what has value in today's world and what is a tradition based on power-dynamics or may have made sense in a pre-industrial, pre-information world.

Like most things, I think there are three different arenas that we can evaluate practices like this in. There is the legal arena, the social arena (which your question seems to focus on), and the personal arena. The legal question is easy for me, incest between consenting adults should be legal. There is nothing to gain as a society by putting people in jail for this act. The personal arena is also easy for me, I have no interest in it and I find the whole thing kind of icky. The Westermarck effect is strong in me. But, that doesn't mean I care what other people do... there are lots of things people do that I find icky but I am not judging them for that. You like what you like.

So, how should the non-legal part of our society respond? I guess it should be socially-acceptable but in a kind of value-neutral way. I would lump it in with any other relationship that involves consenting adults. Incest does not directly harm anyone else and the risks associated with it are much lower than people like to claim (and I imagine most people don't really want the government or society trying to prevent certain sexual partnerships based on the risk to offspring... or should we all start registering our genetics with the state and require permission before bumpin' and grindin'?)

This really is a question of whether we should support people who do things that we find gross but don't cause any harm. I think we should give a fairly neutral, passive support. Let people do what they want to do and we should only interfere if someone is being harmed or consent isn't involved. I think there is a greater risk for a power dynamic imbalance (particularly if the incest is parent and adult child) but the risk doesn't justify prohibition. Besides, if we don't provide at least neutral support then that only pushes the act underground and increases the chance of distorted power dynamics and abuse. If someone in a consensual incestuous relationship feels like they can't be honest about the relationship then they will lack support when/if they want to get out of it. The best way we can guard against abuse or power dynamics is to provide support for all consensual relationships. The ethical line we draw shouldn't be "incest vs non-incest" or "traditional vs kinky" or "monogamy vs polyamory", the clear ethical line should be "consent vs no consent".

 

"How should I go about talking to my partner about a non monogamous relationship? I don't want jealousy to be a part of our relationship. I'm attracted to other people, and think it's ok that he is too. I feel trapped in what society has told me a relationship should be."

Yep, society kind of sucks ass. We are rarely given healthy examples of a variety of relationship types, despite non-monogamous relationships being relatively common. It is perfectly natural to be attracted to, and even fall in love with, people other than your partner. It doesn't mean you love your partner less or that they are doing anything wrong, it just means that you are a human animal.

We are products of millions of years of evolution and part of that evolution pushes us towards non-monogamy. I don't think we are "naturally" monogamous or non-monogamous as a species. I think within our species individuals tend towards one end of the spectrum or the other based on genetics and social norms, but I think we are also capable of thriving in a variety of relationship styles. I think it is really awesome that you recognize that potential and want to explore it a bit.

So, how do you talk about it with your partner? I think that depends on your relationship styles but I would be prepared for many conversations and to start slowly. It may come as a shock to your partner that you want to explore non-monogamy and they may feel a little hurt at first, this is a natural response and you should give them space to address these feelings. They may not want to talk about it much in the beginning while they process the subject (or, maybe, they've thought about it too... I think most people have).

Before talking to them make sure you have an idea what type of non-monogamy you are looking for. There are an infinite number of ways to set things up but you should have a general idea. Some things to consider... do you want to date others solo or as a couple? Are you interested in new romantic partners (polyamory), new physical partners, or both? What are some babysteps you can start with to start to explore a little bit?

I think there are two basic ways to bring it up. The first is kind of indirect and is more of a philosophical approach. Something along the lines of "Hey, remember that movie we watched recently, 'The Overnight'? It was interesting that they were able to have a good relationship while being non-monogamous. What do you think about that?" And then respond to how they feel. If they say it is something that they think is viable or that they'd be open to exploring then you can agree and start the conversation about what that could look like.

A second way is a little more direct. You can sit down with your partner and let them know that you've been thinking about non-monogamy and are curious about exploring it with them. I would make sure and emphasize that this is something you want to do WITH them, not as a replacement for them. And be very aware of their feelings and reinforce that this isn't because they did anything wrong or lack something. It is a part of your identity that you'd like to explore and isn't a reflection of a weakness on their part.

Like I said before, this may take many, many conversations before both parties are comfortable with moving forward. You can't be in a rush to make this type of relationship change, but also be aware if you think your partner is trying to avoid the issue by kicking it down the road.

I hope this helps. If you are interested in discussing this more feel free to message me anonymously (see comments) or directly via Facebook, Snapchat, texting, etc. Also, check out "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino and "The Ethical Slut" by Janet Hardey and Dossie Easton for some great reading on practicing non-monogamy.

 

“Recently realized my 4 year relationship is more of a companionship. We enjoy each others company but the passion, sex, and butterflies are gone. Its been like that for about half the relationship, but recently had butterflies for another person and realized how much i want that again. Im scared of being single again, but want to get that feeling again. Any advice on how to work on the passion, letting it end on hopefully good terms or getting back into the dating scene? I believe in open communication and plan on having a conversation with my partner, but looking for advice/courage before i do that.”

It is completely natural for your feelings to change. That excitement we feel towards a new partner or, as polyamorous people call it, New Relationship Energy (NRE) fades with time and we begin to crave new excitement. That craving is normal and happens to all of us.

What you need to determine with your partner is how you plan on moving forward with your relationship. Hopefully, your partner also recognizes that the passion/sex/butterflies are gone and is open to rationally discussing things. There is no reason that your life should lack that passion and it is possible to attain that passion while still in a relationship with your partner (if that is what you want). Remember, there is no wrong way to have a relationship and romantic (or even platonic) companionship is legitimate.

So, you have some decisions to make. If you want to continue having a relationship with your partner then you need to figure out how to address your longing for passion. One option is to open up the relationship and allow for you each to date other people while staying together. That arrangement can take many forms from complete open polyamory to something more closed, it all depends on what you each want and are comfortable with.

If you decide that you want to rekindle the passion with your partner instead of pursuing NRE, then you and your partner need to work hard to renew the passion. Take vacations without each other, explore any kinks or fetishes or fantasies you have, schedule dates with each other outside the house… basically, try and introduce some variety into your lives. Sometimes it only takes something simple like a wig, an outfit, or a blindfold to spark some new arousal inside. Though, I think the best thing to do is recognize that you may never have that passion for your partner again (unless you break up for a couple years and then get back together). That just isn’t how our biology works, passion and love evolved to bring people together and not to keep them together. Companionship, not passion, keeps us together.

Letting go on good terms (if that is what you decide to do) takes some balance and work, but it is doable. In fact, I think it is how most adults should break up. It takes maturity to recognize when a relationship is no longer compatible long-term and breaking things off instead of grinding away at each other for years until you hate each other. The success of a relationship isn’t based on longevity. You can have a successful relationship that lasts 10 years, 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, or 1 afternoon. A successful relationship is one in which you grow and learn and experience the beauty of the world together, it is about quality and not quantity.

So, you may need to simply sit down and talk to each other and break things off. One (or both) of you may need some time without contact, respect that boundary and keep the door open to friendship. I am still friends with several of my former partners and those friendships continue to grow with time, even though a year or more passed without contact after the break up. Time will allow you to see the things you love about your new friend without being blinded by lust or jealousy.

Don’t look at getting back into the dating scene as frightening, or even necessary. Maybe spending a few years off of dating would be good for you. You can travel, learn, and fuck as a single person without romance or the chains that can come from a relationship. But, if you do want to seriously date then get online (I like OkCupid), join social groups via Meetup.com, and get active in your community by volunteering with local non-profits. Go on solo adventures and stay in hostels where you can meet people. Open your home up on Couchsurfing.com and allow adventurers to stay with you. Take this opportunity to explore and meet and get out of the comfort that comes with relationships. Being single is an opportunity for growth and a chance to meet someone that will help you grow. It is exciting to be single as an adult, most of our time is spent partnered up in adulthood (which is great, but there are benefits to being single too).

I hope you and your partner find something that works. But regardless of what decision you make I am confident that you will be wonderful. The pursuit of a life of passion, sex, and butterflies is never a life wasted.

 

"Do you think people ought to be politically active? My spouse and I practice 'try to be a good person, and treat everyone well, teach our kids to do the same'. But is it a moral imperative to be more active? Is it enough to believe that transphobia/homophobia/racism are bad, or do we need to DO something to not be complicit?"

You know, this is an interesting question that I really don't have a good answer for. I'm not sure if we have a moral duty to help anyone else or to improve the world. Our only real moral responsibility may be to simply not harm others, but even that isn't very cut and dry. The world is varying shades of grey where there are no universally good or bad actions.

That being said, I would encourage you to be more proactive in your community because I (selfishly) want to live in a better world. If you work towards improving your community it will add onto the ways that I work to improve my community. I don't know if that activity needs to be political though. If you live in a city where there is a major clash between racists and civil rights activists then it may be a powerful and important act to get involved. But if you live in a place where everyone basically is in agreement then your activism may be a waste of time and energy (unless signaling is your purpose). Basically, there is a big difference between putting up a Black Lives Matter or Immigrants Welcome sign, or a rainbow flag in North Carolina than in San Francisco. In San Francisco, you aren't really taking a stand and if you want to improve your community then you may want to find another method like volunteering at the Red Cross, a soup kitchen, or a needle exchange.

But, to be honest, I think the most important thing any of us can do is to be good people and be true to ourselves. Part of that involves calling out the people in our lives who make transphobic, homophobic, or racist statements. It is unlikely that I'll change anyone's mind by marching in the streets, but if I sit down with my family members and try to explain that my bisexuality doesn't make me a bad person then I might make a difference. Being open about who you are and what you believe is incredibly important. I think I first heard Dan Savage talk about this and support people coming out of the closet as the most powerful tool we have to make the world a better place... whether your closest is atheism, sexuality, kinkiness, or whatever. By being true to who you are and living a life of peace and love you make the world better... but yeah, it probably wouldn't hurt to volunteer or donate money to your local Planned Parenthood either.

 

"What podcasts are you listening to and why are you listening to them?"

I'm on a big Dungeons and Dragons kick and am listening to "The Adventure Zone", "Tabletop Champions", "Sneak Attack!" and "The Dungeon Master's Block". Not only are these great for D&D lovers, but they are really inspiring stories that can get my creative juices flowing.

I also listen to "My Brother, My Brother, and Me" which is a comedy advice podcast. I actually laugh out loud every time I listen to this podcast, sometimes when I'm in public but I don't give a fuck if people at Trader Joe's stare at me.

"The World Wanderers" is another one of my favorites (though, I'm a little behind on the episodes). I am always really impressed and motivated by the guests and the travels they have. It makes me want to be a better person and see the world.

That's it for now... I also listen to books on Audible pretty regularly and am currently listening to "Seven Years in Tibet"

 

"Maybe you have some perspective because you grew up Christian(I think)...I am an atheist and don't disclose this to many of my Christian friends as they historically tend to react by trying to prove me wrong and then slowly distancing themselves from the friendship. Friends of other faiths, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu that I have told really couldn't care less. My pet theory is that since those religions are seen already as 'other' they are less bothered by differences. Your thoughts? Thanks "

I was raised in an evangelical Christian non-denominational home and maybe I can provide a little insight. Christianity has a lot of variety within it, but I'm familiar with the type you are referring to. I used to be one of those people that tried to proselytize to every person I met, I was particularly obnoxious about it in high school.

So, I think it comes down to four interrelated things. First, the environment I grew up in taught a strong "us vs. them" mentality. Non-Christians (particularly atheists) were seen simultaneously as lost souls to be rescued at all costs and enemies not to be trusted. It was improper (and even a sin) to be friends with unbelievers, which means either only hanging out with specific Christians (Catholics weren't Christian in my upbringing) or converting people. In a new environment like college, the latter becomes the best option because your social network is probably disrupted and it is seen as a duty... which brings us to the second one.

Second, I was taught that it was our ultimate duty to convert as many people as possible. This is called "The Great Commission" and church services are kind of a place to brag about how moral you are through how many people are converted. Sunday service was a place to ask for prayer for people you met, introduce people you drug to church, etc. You gained standing in the church (and in heaven) by your efforts to change people's minds, especially atheists who are the most lost. Conversion becomes a moral imperative and a way to gain standing within the social network. Additionally, the act of "forgiveness" is held in high esteem, there are few people nobler within the church than those who started out as non-Christians and converted (this is how many Christians justify supporting terrible people for political office as long as they "ask for forgiveness"... the repentant sinner is held almost as high up as their deity)

Third, Christianity, in particular, claims an absolute monopoly on the truth. Not just spiritual truth, but a truth about history, science, etc. I was taught myths about how God helped Christopher Columbus find America and how Darwin renounced his thoughts on evolution in order to be a Christian. Atheists are a direct challenge to EVERYTHING Christians stand for. They are the ultimate enemy who must be converted or dehumanized to the point of absurdity. Just look at how atheists are cast in Christian films like "God is not Dead", atheists are being completely selfish, no redeeming qualities, unable to love, and suffering from a "god shaped hole"... they are seen as atheists because they hate god or something instead of recognizing atheists are generally happy, healthy, and loving people whose beliefs are based on significant reflection and intellectual inquiry.

Lastly, Christians are able to isolate themselves from other beliefs for most of their life. It really wasn't until I joined the army that I had any friends of different religious beliefs. In high school, I was able to surround myself with like-minded people, listen only to Christian rock music, read only Christian books, and watch only religious movies/tv. The Christian culture is large enough to create a bubble, a bubble that is usually encouraged by Christian parents because they don't want to expose their children to sinners. This makes it very difficult for some Christians to converse with others, their entire lives are about religion and they lack the social skills necessary to engage with others. If you spent 18 years (like I did) reading things like "The Left Behind" series and listening only to dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Carman, and Newsboys you'd have a very specific set of beliefs ingrained in you (just look up some music videos from those artists and you'll see what I mean).

So, it really comes down to many Christians having a moral imperative to convert as many people as possible... it is a numbers game, the more souls into to heaven the better and it is encouraged to ALWAYS be converting. With that moral necessity paired up with viewing unbelievers as lost or enemies, and generally a lack of interaction with other religions and you have a group of people who have trouble being friends with someone once they realize you will never believe what they believe. You are a lost cause because friendship is just a means to an end, and when that end (your soul) is no longer up for grabs it is better for them to move on to someone else.

As for the other religions you mentioned, I think you are right. When you are a minority religion you spend more time building bridges and accepting differences. Also, many religions are more focused on the shared culture and history than on conversion. Other religions, even the ones that claim a monopoly on truth, take a more passive approach to spreading their faith, they are open to discussing it but it isn't their duty to proactively convert as many people as possible. At least that's been my impression. Some religions (like Buddhism and paganism) are even comfortable with people being an atheist or claiming another religion as well, I even know a few Christian pagans.

 

"I recently told the person I'm in love with that I want a relationship. He told me that he loves me but doesn't want a relationship right now for personal reasons that he explained to me. He told me not to take it personally. I feel like this is pretty personal. We still spend a lot of time together. And sometimes I feel really stupid for still giving this person my energy and love."

Don't feel stupid. But you should ask yourself honestly if you believe that they are telling you the full truth or not. If you think they are, then it is probably worth hanging around to see what happens. If you trust them, then TRUST them. My partner and I banged at a party, didn't really talk for a few months, "dated" for a while, and then finally became a couple a year after we met. And that was mostly because I wasn't in a position to be in a committed relationship. She was willing to be patient and wait, and it seemed to work out okay.

But, if you think they are stringing you along then it is time to dump their asses. Unreciprocated love can be a great motivation for poetry and rom-coms, but if you really feel like they are just telling you what you want to hear in order to maintain a friendship or fuckbuddy situation then you are better off ripping off the band-aid and moving on. Or, if you're capable, realize that long-term romance isn't in the cards and use them for their bodies like they might be using you. Or try to be just friends, but that is usually pretty tough. People can be "just friends" but usually one side wants to get naked with the other person at some point... just something to be aware of.

 

"What if penises also produced lubrication? How would that change sex in general and culturally? Maybe someone can write a sci-fi book about it."

First, I support everyone writing a sci-fi book about everything. Go for it. The world needs more literature.

Second, the penis does produce lubrication. Pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) acts as a lubricant for sex. It isn't the primary lubricant (generally) but it does help.

So, let's assume that the penis provided the sole lubricant for sex. How would that change things? I think it would make rape more common in nature. Vaginal lubrication makes sex easier and more comfortable and is more common when the vagina-owner is fertile. Removing that barrier from those with vaginas would probably make society a worse place and place even more power in penis-owners. Lubrication can act as a way to balance out sex.

I haven't given this much thought though... It is an interesting thought experiment, kind of like wondering what our cultures would be like if sperm was only viable for a few days out of the month.

 

“What do you think motivates you Peter? Is it lifestyle? is it learning? Is it work? What drives you through your path in life?”

Oh man, what a good question. I don’t think there is a universal answer to it. I’d love to claim that I am usually motivated by some higher ideals but the truth is that I struggle with that. Most days, my motivation is to not die… I work because I need to keep that lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy taken care of.

I want to be driven by creation or exploration or whatever, but each day is a struggle to prioritize those things. I’m constantly trying to implement systems that will incentivize those things because I lack the motivation or self-control to do them on my own.

When the right systems are in place and when I’m operating at my best I am driven primarily by variety. Learning new things, feeling new sensations, seeing new places, conquering new obstacles. I think we humans are capable of unimaginable things and much more durable than we realize and I want to explore all the potential I have inside. These same bodies we have today were crossing continents on foot, building boats by hand out of local trees and sailing across seas, and discovering mathematical truths, and we kind of betray our potential when we spend our time sitting at a desk.

One of the “AHA!” moments of my first bike ride was that survival is easy in the modern world. I (and you) can travel the world with little more than a tent and be just fine. Water and electricity are basically free, and even food is easily accessible in most places. It is so often that fear of the unknown stops progress, but the unknown inspires me and motivates me. Part of me is sad that there are not any real frontiers to explore like there used to be, I wish I could join Lewis and Clark or Darwin or Magellan or Gagarin or Armstrong or Norgay and Hillary, but those explorations have passed (for now). I know that I may live to be an explorer throughout space or under the sea, and until then I can explore the frontiers of my own mind and body. I won’t be the first person to climb a mountain or raft a river or run a marathon, but there will be a first time that I do it, that my individual body and mind and culmination of experiences accomplishes so many things. And that is pretty exciting.

So yeah, I am motivated by the new. New is why I am always studying new things, I have a non-monogamous pansexual kinky lifestyle, want to travel and learn and grow.

 

“First off, I just want to say like many others I'm very inspired by you. Thanks for using social media in the best way possible. I've been vegan for almost 8 years now, and one of the things I struggled with was the contradiction between being a vegan for the welfare of animals and consuming drugs despite the very real harm the war on drugs causes to people around the world. I've since stopped illegal drug consumption, not because I think it's immoral implicitly, but because I think that because of the way the system is currently, I would feel complicit in some of the violence that permeates the entire industry. How did you reconcile those two lifestyle decisions?”

Aww, thank you! I sometimes feel like I’m using social media in the “wrong” way, it is nice to hear that some people are cool with it.

I think you’ve brought up something that everyone with an ethical code needs to think about. I’ll be the first to admit that the most honest answer is that I haven’t been able to perfectly reconcile my lifestyle choices. It isn’t only drugs that cause very real harm around the world, much of the way goods are produced on the legal market are incredibly immoral. Just look at the popularity of diamonds, here is a stone that is common because of a marketing campaign that is sold at inflated by a monopoly that gains its products off of basically slave labor. Every diamond ring out there was purchased to directly support slavery and line the pockets of the 1%. There are also serious ethical issues with the way some cocoa, tennis shoes, and probably tons of other products.

I think the best option for me is to do the best I can to minimize that harm. When I learn that a luxury good is causing serious harm I need to evaluate my place in that market. The most important question is whether my consumption of the good causes harm. In some cases (such as sweatshops) it is possible that boycotting the product will actually make things worse because removing the market will make the situation worse for workers. In other cases (such as diamonds) removing my support only takes money out of the hands of tyrants, as much as I wish I could improve the situation of the workers my decision to purchase or not purchase the good will have no effect.

Now, when it comes to drugs I think two things are important: the source of the harm and the specific production of the specific drug. The primary source of harm from most drugs is prohibition and those harms are not really affected by one person’s purchase. One of the best ways to defeat prohibition is to advocate for legalization and I think it is powerful to advocate through example, primarily by being open about your drug use and showing that it can be done responsibly.

When it comes to specific drugs I think the production line can vary considerably. One of my problems with cocaine is that manufacturing it is usually very unethical because of the treatment of the laborers. This may be resolved through legalization though, as with the case of diamonds if production stays in the hands of a few cartels that sell legally to the US then the poor working conditions may remain. This is part of the reason why I don’t use cocaine. My primary drug is MDMA and by purchasing online I remove the violence from drug-dealers and have a better idea of the source (usually a chemist in Belgium), which I think removes some of the ethical problems.

I am far from perfect and many of my actions are not ideal, but I think that is true for every ethical standard. We do the best we can to minimize harm. I even realize that being vegan does not necessarily minimize harm, but I am doing my best given the knowledge I have and the world I live in.

 

"Hey Peter! A week or so ago you posted a status about what you do for a living. As someone who is both a writer and investor and looking to expand passive revenue streams, can you a) please elaborate more on your experience using Amazon publishing as well as your approach in writing a whole book and b) please share more about the crypto company in Iceland you mentioned. If you prefer to not discuss either openly, just say so and I'll PM you instead. Thanks!"

Hey, Anonymous Friend! I don't mind discussing this openly at all.... though, this makes me wonder if there is any question/comment out there that I wouldn't respond to. The only thing that I can think of is something that would affect my partner* and her privacy, but my life is as open as it gets. Some people probably think it is too open.., oh well, when your my Facebook friend you might accidentally find out details about my favorite drug (MDMA... duh) or my favorite sex position (doggy for finishing) or the person I most want to have a threesome with (Kesha... duh again). Oh well, that just comes with the territory I guess. Y'all can always unfollow me.

Anyway, I have strayed WAY off your question (damn whiskey).

A) Amazon publishing was a great way for me to really get comfortable with the writing and publishing process. It probably isn't the best way to make money because you are a tiny fish in a gigantic ocean. Without professional publishers acting as a quality gatekeeper, it is difficult to get noticed. There is nobody that officially checks grammar and formatting and such, it is beautiful anarchy where becoming dominant is difficult. But, they make it super simple for you. I would highly recommend hiring a copy-editor to help out. I wish I would have done that for my book.

As for my approach to writing. The format of my book kind of made it easy because it was a memoir of sorts. I was able to set a schedule for myself to write a certain amount each morning after exercising but before anything else. I haven't had much luck recreating that yet as I try to write more, but back then I set a schedule that I wanted to finish my book in 30 days and then wrote every single day. If you haven't read "On Writing" by Stephen King then I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It is a phenomenal resource for artists of all sorts, but particularly wordsmiths. Also, "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield is really motivating. I guess that is another part of my process, I try to immerse myself in the art by constantly reading books about writing or creation. When I'm in the middle of a book about writing I feel guilty when I am slacking, like Stephen King is staring at me and shaking his head in disappointment.

B) The Iceland company is called Genesis-Mining. The way it works is you provide an upfront investment and from that day on you receive a portion of what they mine each day. The amount you get is determined by the mining difficulty... I don't really understand when or how difficulty will go up, but right now it is a pretty solid investment. I invested $2,500 up front and I make about .0045 BTC per day (which is around $20). So after about 4 months, I made my money back and the rest is profit. Basically, if the value of Bitcoin never increases in value then I will have ~$7,000 passive income coming in each year, not a ton but also not bad. But, if the value of Bitcoin keeps increasing and I never cash out then I will end up even further ahead. Last I checked Genesis was actually sold out of BTC rigs (but you can do some Ethereum and Monero mining) but they may have more available in October. To be honest, I wish I would have doubled my investment and when more mining rigs are available I plan on investing more.

I hope that answered your questions, if you (or anyone) would like more details about this, or anything in the world, please send me a Sarahah message (see comments) or a Facebook message.

*Quick shout out to my awesome partner who puts up with this shit. I bet when we had our one-night stand she didn't think it would evolve into a relationship with someone who lets his freak-flag fly about non-monogamy, sexuality, anarchy, atheism, etc. She is the real hero of my story.

 

"First, I'd like to say that I really enjoy following you on Facebook. You are an inspiration. Your travels helped motivate me to work towards my goals. Currently, my partner and I spend a lot of time travelling in a van around the world. We love our long, unconventional vacations but it has created some problems when it comes to sex. Namely, we are often seeping in very public places like Wal-Mart or truck stops. The windows of our van are blacked out but it is an old vehicle that isn't soundproof and rocks/bounces when people move around inside of it. Basically, when we have sex it is very obvious to anyone in the area and that makes me pretty uncomfortable and don't enjoy myself because I"m focused on what other people are hearing/seeing (except when I have a few drinks in me). Do you have any advice on how I can become more comfortable or deal with this?"

First, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm really glad that my travels and posts have encouraged you to pursue your own dreams. It really helps reassure me in moments of doubt when I can read messages like this and see that all the struggles and problems that come from an unconventional life are worth it to other people.

Your message brings to mind a conundrum that I always experience when thinking about public sex, whether it is a necessity like in your case or people who are exhibitionsists. Public sex requires that there is another party (or at least another potential party) present that may not consent to being a part of your sex act, and I consider hearing/seeing sex in a place where a reasonable person wouldn't expect to encounter it does force them to be part of the act. But, on the other hand, I think we are WAY too prude about sex and the whole world would be a better place if we viewed it in the same way we view other biological acts like eating. People seeing their friends and unpaid strangers having sex (as opposed to actors) could really remove a lot of the self-esteem issues many of us have about our bodies and sexuality in general.

So, on one hand I want to give you advice that encourages you to not take it seriously because it is just sex. But on the other hand I think you are in the right when you want to make sure you aren't overheard. I'm sure it is no surprise that my partner and I faced a similar issue when we were cycling across the country, though we didn't have literal "when this van's a-rockin..." situation. In general when we wanted to have sex we just did the best we could to minimize what other people could hear or see by playing music (if we were in a relatively public place) or setting up our tent out of sight. Or, occasionally, we would find a super cheap hotel and have a lot of sex for two days or so... not really ideal, but we were also too tired for sex most days from all the work.

I guess I don't really have great advice other than trying to approach it from both angles. Do all you can to have sex in the back corners of parking lots and/or late at night or try to only have sex when you are couchsurfing or in a hotel (the feasibility of that depends a lot on your sex drives), or maybe spend more time on acts that don't involve so much physical activity like handjobs or oral. Also, try to relax about it through weed, booze, or logic. In the end, it probably doesn't matter much if someone notices a van bouncing in the corner of the parking lot. Most people have sex (and a kinky side) and they many may get a thrill out of being an accidental voyeur. Hell, some of the best sex I've had started because my partner at the time and I woke up to the sound of some lovin'. (Side note: one of the theories for why female copulatory vocalization evolved in humans is that we evolved to thrive in a more public sex life, the loud female arouses men and attracts them to the place where sex is happening and it also quickens the current partner to the point of ejaculation).

 

"How do you and your partner deal with jealousy (if there is any) with an open relationship? I feel strongly that a non-monogamous relationship is what's right for me. And I want to talk about and explore this with my partner. I'm not so much worried about my partner being jealousy, I'm more worried about myself. Any advice for me to work through my jealousy issues before? I would like to discuss non-monogamy with my partner, but not until I've worked out why I can get so jealous sometimes. You give great advice, btw!"

Thanks! I try my best 

Ahh, jealousy. It certainly does exist in most non-monogamous relationships and I have a lot of experience with it. In fact, I used to be incredibly jealous in relationships, even to the point of being possessive. I grew up with unhealthy models of love where jealousy was considered a good thing because it was a sign of true love, if someone wasn't jealous then it mean they didn't care. I realize that is complete bullshit now, but the process to overcome jealousy has been a long one that is still going on. But, I think you can get to the point of exploring non-monogamy without completely overcoming jealousy, you even pointed out one of the major keys, identifying "why" you get jealous.

But first, there are two things that I think have really helped me overcome jealousy in the long-term. The first, is mindfulness meditation. Taking a few minutes every day to meditate and really take an inventory of my feelings has helped me address all my negative emotions like fear, anger, and even jealousy. I use the "Headspace" app, but there are plenty of free guided meditation videos and dozens of books on the subject.

The second method I've used is studying stoic philosophy. A primary attribute of the philosophy is recognizing what you can and cannot change, and only dedicating energy, emotions, and thoughts to those things that you can change. The book "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine is a wonderful introduction to the philosophy and discusses many practical exercises that you can do to help train your mind.

Okay, on to actual jealousy in a non-monogamous relationship. The most important thing is to try and understand why you feel jealous. For me, it usually comes from a couple of different potential sources. Sometimes the jealousy is actual a mask for fear, fear that I am being put at some physical risk (STI, etc) or fear that who I am with will find the other person more appealing long term and they will choose them over me. Another source of jealousy for me comes when I feel like my present needs aren't being met, if I'm not sexually satisfied or receiving attention then I can get jealous if a past partner was prioritizing someone else.

Fear of sti's is the easiest to fix. Rules about barriers and such can quickly resolve these.

The second fear is primarily a fear of the unknown. When partners first start discussing non-monogamy it is common to have in mind someone that your partner may end up with. That person is usually better looking, in better shape, has a better job, better size/shaped genitals, a better lover, etc. Our imagination quickly moves to create an unrealistic person. In my experience, the only way to really overcome this is to move slowly into non-monogamy by first deciding if this is about new romantic partners, new sexual partners, or both, and then establish a first baby-step that you are comfortable with. If it is sex you are looking into expanding you can have rules that nothing beyond making out until you've met their new partner or play only happens when the two are you are together. If it is romance you are interested in you can have a "One date and kissing only" rule until you meet the person or you can have a join OKCupid account and make joint decisions about who you can date (including veto power). The key is to destroy the fictional person you've created in your mind and meet the real person who is filled with flaws (as we all are). Another option is to limit your dating pool to people you both know already as friends (but that might not be realistic).

The final jealousy issue can only be resolved by sitting down and discussing what you feel like you are missing in your relationship. Both partners will need to discuss and recommit to each other often, as well as be given the opportunity to prove through their actions what they mean. It is important to remember that you are each other's priority and that a non-monogamous relationship can't work without you both being involved.

Really, I think it comes down to lots of conversations (before, during, and after any new experience), moving very slowly, and doing things as a team whenever possible. Go to sex clubs (most cities have one and they are usually very, very respectful and safe), go to festivals where non-monogamy isn't unheard of, get on OkCupid together or, if possible, talk with friends you know who you are both attracted to and think or know that they are not strictly monogamous... with friends you can move slowly and you will know your boundaries will be respected because you are all completely invested in all the people involved.

 

"Hi Peter and I guess a good morning to you! Are there any people you know in your somewhat daily life right now that you would consider a 3 way with? If so you should tell them or at least hang out with them some more!"

Hmm, this is kind of a complicated question. I don't really have a lot of people in my daily life. Working from home in a new city kind of limits my social network. I'm working on this but meeting people is difficult. I do know a few people in town but they have their own lives and social networks and, to be honest, I feel like I'm bugging them when I try to hang out more. I realize this may be mostly in my head but I hate feeling like I'm a burden to people. Also, most my daily interactions are online which makes hooking up kind of difficult (though, you can have a lot of fun with Skype). I think you're right though, I should hang out with people more.

To answer your question though, yes, there are people I know and am in regular contact with online and in real life that I would consider having a three-way with. But, doing something like that is more complicated than simply considering it, or even having an interest in it. My partner is just as involved and she would need to be pretty enthusiastic about it and historically it is rare that we are both on the same page about a person or couple. It really would just depend on the situation and the person and the intoxicants in our system. Nothing happens without action though, and we gotta get in more situations if we want potential situations to evolve.

Now, as for telling someone outright... that is probably not going to happen. This may be wrongheaded of me (and please tell me if it is) but I feel like I've done what I can that won't damage friendships. I've raised my freak-flag and let it known that I am not judgmental and that I'm always interested in discussing potential new experiences. I feel like it is up to any friends of mine to approach me and Anna, not the other way around. There are some situational exceptions. For example, if I'm rolling I might send off a text to people I think are awesome to ask if they are in a monogamous and/or closed relationship or if we are all hanging out and that sweet, sweet sexual tension is hanging in the air I might be comfortable inquiring about making out and seeing where things go.

So, there you go. If you wanna hang out more, let me know. I can't guarantee that things will get physical, but the status quo guarantees that things never will.

 

"The fact you openly share your experiences has made me a less judgmental and more tolerant and curious individual regarding sex, drugs, feelings, and other very important parts of life. Thank you for this! I like myself better as a person now."

Yay!!!! That makes me so happy. I'm glad that my life has opened you up a bit. I know there are people in my life who did the same for me. I would be a very different person if I hadn't met great examples of living freely and being true to themselves.I hope you explore some of your curiosities, it is better to try something and realize that it isn't for you than to spend your life wondering "what if".

 

"1. You inspire me continually to be a better person than I was the day before. 
2. You have served as an amazing example for me to tell people about when they're scared to be fully themselves, kinks and all. 
3. Stocky and hairy is hot."

1. You're too kind  I'm really glad I've had a positive influence
2. We are all freaks, which means none of us are (See "Perv" by Jesse Bering or "Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head" by Brett Kahr). We are all a little kinky, we all have something a little weird that makes us the beautiful amazing people that we are. These abnormalities are what shape us into unique individuals, embrace your freaky side and share it with those who won't judge you - or someday stand tall and tell the world what makes you who you are so that you can inspire and strengthen others.
3. Apparently, it is more than I thought... several people have confirmed this.

 

"Why are you no longer friends with the other Anna?"

So, a little backstory. In 2013, my partner's college friend, Hans (her real name is Anna but Hans was a nickname and we stuck with that because it made communication easier), moved in with us in LA. She lived with us for a few months and we invited her to join us on our upcoming cross-country bicycle ride. The original plan was for my partner and I to provide income (Anna had an online job and I had savings), I would take care of routing logistics, and Hans would assist with some of the logistics like grocery shopping, laundry, and other necessities. We had a budget and time-line for the bike ride established that seemed to work well for everyone.

Well, as the ride went on we started to have some compatibility problems. As you can probably imagine, spending months living in a tent together and traveling in a high stress situation can put a lot of strain on relationships. It became increasingly obvious that our current lifestyle was not a good fit for her. Also, our original plans ended up being way off. We were spending more money than we planned and moving much more slowly, this financial and logistical straing made it impossible for us to maintain the status quo.

When we stopped in Missoula for the winter things came to a head. Hans did not want to stop but we didn't have the time or resources to get through the mountains safely. The best option was to bunker down for a few months, work to restore some of our savings, and re-evaluate our plans. Living together during this time increased a lot of the personality conflicts and left Anna and I feeling like we were taken advantage of. (There are a lot of personal examples I could go into but I really don't want to do that right now.)

Despite the problems we had while living together, Anna and I tried to find a way to make it work with Hans to continue the ride. One of the major points of contention was money, we realized that Anna and I couldn't continue to provide the funds for three people and a dog, and that the work Hans was doing didn't really carry equal weight. One option we presented was to keep paying for everything but Hans agreed to pay back 1/3 of the expenses in the future (basically, a loan). We also presented other options in order to reduce the cost of the trip (fewer breweries, etc.). But none of these options appealed to Hans. She very clearly said that she wanted to continue on the bike ride only if it didn't cost her anything.

She moved out shortly after the conversation about continuing the bike ride and she decided to stay in Missoula. If things would have ended there then we would probably still be on friendly terms, unfortunately they didn't. Hans refused to pay her share of the funds necessary to repair damage to the apartment that she caused and left us with the responsibility to cover much of her rent. I don't wish her any ill-will but it is unlikely that we will be friends again in the future. It may sound cold, but it isn't a huge loss to me because I didn't know her that well to begin with. I think she hurt Anna much more than she hurt me because they knew each other for so many years.

 

"Do you think there is a level of love between platonic and romantic? I'm in a FWB situation and I know I'm far from IN love with him but I also kinda love and care about him as a little more than a friend."

Absolutely. I think love is a spectrum with infinite degrees. It might be convenient to classify love into certain categories but reality is much more variable. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try to isolate love into categories or limit the ways in which we express love. Each relationship we have can be unique and special and involve a beautiful mixture of love, like, compatibility, attraction, etc. I love my best friends, but I'm not necessarily in love with them. In some ways, I love all people. I am in love with my partner, but I also feel a strong love for close friends. It is a shame that our language is so weak at expressing our emotions, but I think you should explore that beautiful grey area between platonic and romantic. Have fun with it, FWB relationships an be a great opportunity to experiment with your heart and your body.

 

"If your partner were doing something that was a huge turn-off, how would you approach them to discuss?"

Hmm, without knowing the details I'll need to be a little broad in my answer but I'll try to play through several scenarios.

First and foremost, communication is key. Cliche, I know, but there is a lot of truth to that old saying. I hope at this point you know your partner's communication style when it comes to serious conversations. Some people prefer email, some prefer scheduled conversations, and some want to discuss things immediately. It is important that you and your partner understand what will work best for each person and take that into consideration when approaching any subject. If you don't know how your partner likes to communicate then this is a great opportunity to find out. A simple, "Hey, I have an issue I'd like to discuss with you soon. Do you have a way you'd prefer we talk about it? I'm open to emailing, in person right now, or scheduling a time later."

When you discuss it I think it is incredibly important to make sure your partner realizes that this isn't an extinction level issue (or, if it is, that is a different conversation entirely) and I would not discuss this right before, during, or after sex.

The range of things that can be a turn-off can be huge but I think the action can fall into one of two of categories: either the action is necessary for their sexual satisfaction or it is unnecessary (I recognize that sexual satisfaction is a range and not binary, but for simplicity sake I'm just discussing the extremes).

If it is unnecessary for sexual satisfaction then it should be an easy fix. It might be something they are aware they do and they do it because they like it but it is not a big deal, or maybe they think you like it, or maybe they don't realize they are doing it. Sitting down and just simply asking them, "Hey, I noticed you always scream my name during sex, is there a reason you do that?" can get the conversation going. Then, depending on the reason they give you can try to find a solution. Definitely make sure you own your feelings and tell them that it takes you out of the moment or isn't something you enjoy, that way they can either stop doing it completely or you can find a compromise where they only do it during certain situations (like when you are not close to orgasming anyway). *Communication note: it is usually best to discuss how you feel and not accuse the other person. So, instead of "you bother me when you leave the door open" you say "I am bothered when the door is left open"

If is something they want or need for sexual satisfaction then it gets more complicated. Neither one of you should have to sacrifice your sexual satisfaction for another person. If something they absolutely need is something that disgusts you then you may need to explore alternatives to your current relationship. Usually, a compromise of sorts can be made. Maybe it is something they really enjoy but would be satisfied with only doing it once a week or month or year, and you are willing and able to do that for them because you want them to be sexually happy. While I believe sexual satisfaction is necessary for a relationship, that doesn't mean that each sexual act needs to be perfect for each partner. Sometimes we do things for our partners that they prefer that we aren't into, but we know that they are willing to do the same for us.

It all requires open communication though. You should be able to tell your partner that something isn't really erotic for you without it destroying the relationship. There should be enough comfort to talk about it rationally and safely. An imperfect sexual compatibility is normal, most people are in relationships where frequency, variety, positions, kinks, fetishes, etcetera do not match up exactly. We all do things that are "meh" to us because they are "FUCK YEAH, I'M CUMMING!!!!" to our partners. And who knows, maybe when you start this conversation they will tell you that there is something that is a huge turn-off to them and you'll be able to find a way to both get off more frequently and with a clean conscience because all your cards are on the table.

 

"I have written a few opinion questions to you and I appreciate the feedback. It is typically a perspective I don't get/things I am too nervous to ask people non-anonymously. So thank you! My current conundrum involves an old friendship that petered out over time. We were very close for many years but geographic distance and new friendships happened. There was just a gradual fade. I very much miss this friendship and I doubt it can be rekindled, any more than the few emails we exchange every year with general life updates. But it feels like a break-up that was never resolved/discussed, and I want to tell this person I love and miss them and am bummed we can't be close. But I could have totally misjudged and maybe it wasn't an important friendship to them, and dredging things up is a bad idea. Your thoughts?"

I think what you're experiencing is very common. Changes in geography and lifestyle can break up even very close friendships. When I look back at different time periods in my life (church, military, college, DC, etc) I'm surprised at which people I am still close with because they aren't necessarily the ones that I was particularly close with at the time. The ability to be a good friend while living close involves different skills than being a close friend while living far away. Eventually, the person we hung out with every weekend becomes the person we text once every six months and end up just talking about the weather because our lives are very different.

It sucks, it is natural, but I think you can fight it and overcome it. We live in the most interconnected world in human history and if you miss your friend then you should tell them. I don't see a problem with saying it similar to the way you said it here. Give them a call (or text, email, etc) and tell them that you love them, you miss them, and that you'd like to prioritize staying close. Hopefully, they will reciprocate. If they want to stay close then I would encourage you to plan something concrete... schedule a destination weekend together or a Skype and beer date on Saturday. Find ways to schedule each other into your lives. It is so easy to get busy and then years go by and you never went camping together or your plans to spend a week in Europe together disappear into the past, you need to be proactive and schedule things now. The timing is never perfect to maintain a friendship.

The worst case scenario, they don't want to stay in touch. That wouldn't necessarily make them a bad person, but it would suck... but at least you would have some closure. You would know that your lives have drifted too far apart and instead of forcing a friendship that isn't going to work you can sit back and view your friendship fondly for what it was. Not every friend or relative or partner enters our lives and stay until death, but that's good because that allows us to have the time and energy necessary to make more friends that better reflect who we are in the moment.

So, I say reach out to them and see what happens. You might get your old friendship back or you might shift your friendship into something new or you might get some closure. Regardless, the best way to resolve this issue is to open the door and talk with them.

 

"1. I love you. Although we have never met in person, I feel like you're a great old friend who I can, and do, reach out to for advice. You're amazing.
2. You have inspired many conversations between myself and my partner, one of which was being open to dating or seeing others while understanding that we love each other and want to be with each other unconditionally. I can't explain it but I have this terrible guilt when I have a male crush compared to a female crush. Any recommendations on getting past that?
3. I have a crush, male, and am not sure how to proceed, if at all. He's a new friend. How would you present being in an open relationship to someone you're potentially interested in?"

1. Thank you! I love you too. I'm really glad I can help out a little bit and I hope we get to meet again someday.

2. Guilt because of your attraction to someone other than your partner is a common thing, and it is really unfortunate. Feeling attracted to other people is natural and doesn't harm anyone, you shouldn't feel any guilt about it but I realize society tells you that you should. I'm not sure what your gender is but it seems like the guilt could be coming from one of two places: either you are male and have some internalized homophobia that is making you feel guilty or you are female and you primarily feel guilty because your attraction is to someone other than your partner.

If it is the first one then I can relate, bi-erasure among men is a very real thing and there is little social acceptance for male-male attraction. I think the only way to overcome this is to just keep talking with supportive people about it and explore how you feel. Actually, that's really my advice for either form of guilt... keep talking to your partner and anyone else who is supportive and take some steps to explore that attraction. Make sure you partner is informed of everything (or present if appropriate) to help provide you with the support that you aren't doing anything wrong.

3. Well, I am not very good at letting people know that I'm attracted to them. I hope that by being so open about who I am and the kind of relationship I'm in people will open up to me, I hate the idea that I might make someone uncomfortable by asking them out... but then again, I have yet to lose or damage a friendship when I've asked if they are nonmonogamous or bisexual. All my friends have politely answered and been open with me, so maybe the direct path is really the best one.

If it would surprise this new friend that you and your partner are exploring non-monogamy then you will probably need to approach it slowly. Ask them what their thoughts are on non-monogamous relationships or if they've ever had one to feel things out. People who are strictly monogamous are usually not shy about letting you know that non-monogamy won't work for them. Make sure that they don't feel like they were "tricked" onto a date or anything though. Basically, just talk to them. I don't think they will be offended (they will probably be honored), and if they are offended by the way you live your life then they aren't worth your time anyway.

 

"How did you become the man you are today? Can you offer a summary (or direct me to one that already exists)?"

Wow, what a complicated question. I think the best way to answer this is to break down my life into certain stages and experiences that I think had a large impact on my development. If you'd like more details on any of these stages let me know and I can expand upon them. Also, the book I wrote about my cross-country bike ride touches on some of this as well (http://amzn.to/2ifVLCK).

Upbringing: I am the oldest of six children and come from a very conservative, evangelical, Christian family. My family was pretty poor, I wasn't worried about not having a meal but there were times when our family of eight was crammed into a small apartment and we had periods of time on welfare. I got my first job at age 12 and from that point on I was responsible for my own finances. Toys, games, school supplies and such were all my responsibility. I even remember my parents telling me at one point when I was in middle school that they wouldn't be able to help me at all with buying a car or going to college. I was very conservative at the time with all the negative stuff that I now associate with it, I was against marriage equality, saw drugs as an evil scourge that justified draconian actions, etc. I also was "saving" myself for marriage to the point where I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day. I dated a couple of girls in high school but they were equally religious and the extent of our physical activity was cuddling. After graduating high school I went to community college for about half a semester but hated it, so I just dicked around for about a year while working at Papa Johns.

Military: When the Sept. 11 attack happened I committed to joining the military. It is something that I had been thinking about for a while but the attack solidified my decision. I actually saw the 9/11 attacks as a good thing because I thought it could unite the country, I felt we needed a common enemy in order to be a strong nation. I walked into a recruiter's office on the day of the attack and got the paperwork started. A couple of month's later I was shipped off to Fort Benning for basic training. Despite my high scores on the ASVAB, I decided to join the infantry. I had a desire to fight, and even one to kill. I spent four years in the Army with the 82nd Airborne division and deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. It became very obvious early on that I wasn't going to stay in the military as a career and when my contract ended I left. During this time I had got engaged to (and had sex with) a girl named Leslie that I had met while in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her and I got a place together when I got out of the military.

Myrtle Beach: My first two years of college were with Horry-Georgetown Technical College in the Myrtle Beach area. Ever since leaving Iraq I had began to re-evaluate my political views. I felt betrayed by the Republican party for sending me to Iraq for no good reason. It was during this time that I also read "Freakanomics" which got me interested in Economics. I can't remember exactly how I came across libertarianism but it was during my community college days. This time was also one of a lot of emotional turmoil. I found out my fiance had been cheating on me for a while and we broke up. It was the most traumatic break-up of my life, mostly because I thought that we were destined to be together because we had sex. The next woman I dated, Amy, was deeply religious and I think I started dating her as a sort of repentance. I should have never dated her, we weren't a good fit and I was dating her for the wrong reasons. I was an asshole.

Charleston: After I got my associates degree I transferred down to College of Charleston. I quickly decided to major in Economics with a minor in Political Science. The classes were easy enough and I really felt involved in the community. I was in the Student Government (eventually being elected Vice President). I helped found Students for Concealed Carry. I had a weekly radio show called "The Pit: Punk Rawk and Politics". I was a founding father of the Lambda Chi chapter of Phi Gamma Delta and served as the Community Outreach Chair. And, most importantly, I started interning for Dr. Calcagno with the Initiative for Public Choice and Market Process. It was through this internship that I really started to love public choice economics and was introduced to anarcho-capitalism. My personal life also underwent some major changes. While dating Amy I realized that I could no onger consider myself Christian and I finally accepted that I had some same-sex attractions (and that there was nothing wrong with that). I decided not to date anyone exclusively for the remainder of my time in College (this break actually lasted close to five years) and, instead, practiced what I called "honest non-monogamy". It was basically a type of polyamory but I wasn't introduced to that phrase for a couple years. The most important partner I had in college was Nora, she was a grad student who had a huge impact on my intellectual development because she was the first progressive person that I really got to know and debate with.

Washington DC: Once I graduated college I accepted a position with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity through the Koch Associate Program. I quickly found myself to be one of the more vocal "radical" libertarians in the group who advocated for complete abolition of the state. I met Isaac Morehouse at this time and he ended up helping me get a job with Students For Liberty after KAP ended. My SFL days were some of the best and worst days of my life. I LOVED the organization and it was incredibly exciting to be part of something from the near beginning (I was the second person hired... well, Blayne was hired at the same time so we were tied for second). I was in charge of the new Campus Coordinator program that only had 27 people in it and I ran all the internal programs and measurements. I also got to help out with conferences all over the country. SFL was great, but DC was terrible. I hated the culture of that town and almost killed myself while I was there. Luckily, a stranger on Tumblr talked me down from putting a gun in my mouth. It was during this time that I decided to get help for the mental health issues that I'd been dealing with since leaving the military. I was also introduced to Burning Man and MDMA during these years.

Bike Ride and LA: I decided that three years in DC was enough so I quit my job at LA, got rid of everything I owned, and biked across the country to Los Angeles. It took me about 2 months of mostly solo riding but I arrived in LA with a very new perspective on my life. Probably most importantly, I realized I wasn't happy with living life a normal way. Unfortunately, I didn't listen to myself and jumped right into a traditional job. My time in LA was a lot of fun but that city was another rough one for me. I was broke all the time and felt smothered, but sometimes I miss it because I could find any adventure I wanted. Whether it was a drag king show at a BDSM dungeon that doubled as a porn studio or an all night rave in a warehouse, there was something for every part of my being. LA is also where I met my current partner and where I saw healthy non-monogamous relationships modeled for me. I saw people raise children while using drugs responsibly and having open sexual relationships, it was a brand new world to community to me that I felt very comfortable in. But, alas, LA wasn't for me.

Long Bike Ride: In 2014 I asked my partner if she wanted to spend a couple years bicycling around the country with me. She said yes, so we (along with a former friend) left on a bike ride with our newly adopted pupper. In total we went about 10,000 miles over 2.5 years (we stopped for one winter in Missoula and one winter in Dallas). We had a lot of adventures, met tons of people, and saw more of the country than most people ever will. During that time I was introduced to my current boss and he offered me a part-time job that evolved into my current position. I firmly believe that if I didn't take the risk to leave a place I wasn't comfortable I wouldn't be this happy, I would be in a city I didn't like, and working at a job for a fraction of my current wage. Eventually, we decided to stop the ride after only going through 24 states (we had planned on doing all lower 48) because we just weren't having fun anymore. So, we are in Wilmington looking for a house to buy and planning several new adventures in the coming years.

So, that's the short version of how I went from Christian, conservative, monogamous, straight-edge Oregonian to apatheist, left-libertarian, non-monogamous, drug using citizen of the world.

 

"I enjoy your honesty, ESPECIALLY when it challenges my beliefs and long held biases. You're a rad human and I hope our paths cross again!"

I hope our paths cross again too!!!! Well, probably. I guess there are two people that I really don't want to see again in this life, but it is pretty unlikely that you are one of those two people. I'm not Facebook friends with them and it would be pretty stalkerish if they contacted me.

I'm glad my honesty and openness are beneficial. I view it as paying it forward. I've had lots of people challenge my views and because of them my life has become much richer and I am much more comfortable in my viewpoints on life.

That being said, I am not really 100% sure of any of my views. I find reality and new conversations continue to refine and challenge them. I always, always, always love book, podcast, articles, or people who challenge my views and can have a rational, calm disagreements. I'm not sure what areas I've challenged you, but I know my long-held beliefs were ripped to shreds over the years. One of the greatest revelations in my life was that the way I was raised may not be what is best for me now and that my parents (and the overall society I grew up in) were wrong about things, despite their best intentions. To be honest, I think it is troubling if someone goes through life and ends up believing exactly the same things their parents do.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Hope to see you soon 

 

"I've heard you say that you and Anna keep your finances separate. How do you then handle filing taxes as a married couple? I'm getting married soon and we are trying to figure it out - do you all filed married separately or file jointly?"

Yep, we keep our finances completely separate. We have our own bank accounts, buy our own food, etc. When something requires one person pay out of convenience (ie internet bill) we add it to a shared google doc and if there is an imbalance at the end of the month we pay up.

Now, that may not always be the case for us. If one of us loses our job or goes back to school or needs time off for a career change or something, the other person will provide financial stability without an expectation of being "paid back". We also are comfortable placing non-monetary value on things to balance things like cleaning the house, sex, tending the garden, shopping, etc. We communicate openly and often about this stuff to make sure neither of us feels like things aren't fair.

But, the taxes question is easy. We file as single people because we didn't sign government paperwork for our marriage because fuck the government. We have explicit paperwork (Will, Power of Attorney, etc.) to give each other authority over medical decisions or deal with death issues, and we don't see a reason to have a marriage certificate.

“"Party in the USA" was playing on the radio (yeah, I just did that), and it made me think of you because, for some inexplicable reason, I know that's your jam! Why tell you anonymously? I'm hoping that now, everyone you connect with, in the back of your mind you're thinking, "maybe they think of me when my song comes on the radio." And I think it's kind of nice to have a sense of maybe anyone thinking of you now and then :)”

Haha, on man, I forgot how much I used to love and listen to that song. You actually inspired me to put it on right now. Music is so magical and it certainly brings memories to my mind a lot. Sometimes it makes me think about old lovers or adventures I’ve had. Certain people can spring to mind after just the opening chords of a familiar song and I fall in love again with a person, place, and band.

Thank you for sharing… it is nice to know that someone is thinking of me from time to time. I think we all have a fear inside of us that we will be forgotten (or have already been forgotten). I know I certainly wonder if the experiences that shaped me also shaped others involved, or was I just simply a passing shadow that was barely noticed? I think this is particularly true in the modern world where seeing how an old friend or partner is doing is just a click away, it can be bittersweet to see them doing well even though you aren’t in their life.

So, maybe we should all tell people when you think about them. It feels nice (as long as you aren’t a creepo) to know that our lives had an impact, that we aren’t going to be forgotten soon, that we have value to someone. A simple “Hey, Dropkick Murphy’s came on the radio and it made me think of you.” Can really go a long way. I think we shouldn’t hold back from sharing our love for others and reminiscing about the good times we had, and maybe that will open the door to good times in the future.

 

“Hey, I'm thinking of getting into vegan food, meditation, yoga, all that good stuff. I have an understanding that you have an understanding of these things. Do you have any suggestions on where to start (reading, sites, cookbooks, anything)?”

Sure! I am not really a professional at any of these things but I will gladly share what I know. Let’s start with the easy thing (for me)

Veganism: It was tough for me to get started with veganism. I realized that it most closely matched my ethical ideal, but I didn’t really know where to begin. Sadly, I did not receive a very good nutritional education growing up. Transitioning away from the traditional American diet to a vegan one was a little overwhelming, but if I can do it then so can you!

First, go easy on yourself and know that you probably won’t be perfect. Unless you live in a major city it is unlikely you have a strictly vegan restaurant in town and most restaurants seriously lack vegan options (I’ve even been to a restaurant where every salad had meat in it… I literally couldn’t get a salad with just vegetables). So, be prepared to cook for yourself a lot and end up asking for modifications to food.

Second, cooking can be fun! My favorite cookbook is “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra because it provides very simple recipes that are perfect for the vegan novice. Many of the recipes basically replicate familiar non-vegan recipes, which helps with the transition from animal consumption to non-animal consumption. Really, all of Isa’s cookbooks are awesome but “Isa Does It” is simple, also check out her blog isachandra.com for other recipes. The other three cookbooks I’d recommend you check out are “Vegan Fire & Spice” by Robin Robertson, “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” by Matt Frazier, and “Vegan Eats World” by Terry Hope Romero.

Also, if you can find one or two meals that are easy to make and modify to make up the bulk of your cooking it can really help. For example, once a week I cook a big vegetable scramble with beans and that is my lunch five days a week. Additionally, I have protein shakes for snacks and breakfast. That means I really only have one meal to worry about… actually, this is good general advice beyond veganism.

Meditation: Having a steady mindfulness meditation is incredibly difficult for me, but I have noticed some benefits and scientific studies back up how beneficial it can be. I use the “Headspace” app to guide my daily meditations and I try to read about meditation regularly. I have found that I am more likely to stick with a habit if I immerse myself a bit and consume as much about the subject as I can. My favorite books that address the subject (some more directly than others) are “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright, “Destructive Emotions” by the Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennet-Goleman, “10% Happier” by Dan Harris, and “Waking Up” by Sam Harris.

Yoga: Yoga, to me, is primarily an addition to my meditation practice. I view it as a physical manifestation of my mindfulness, but I am not very qualified to talk about it directly. I haven’t read too much on the subject and, to be honest, it is something that I want to be more involved with than I actually am. The best advice I can give is to find a practice somewhere and dive in, or if you’d rather try it out alone at home first check out the “Yoga with Adriene” channel on YouTube.

 

“Hi Peter, I would love your advice. My partner and I have been together for a little over two years. We have an incredibly fulfilling life together and work hard to stay connected, be communicative, and keep intimacy strong. Our sex-life is fantastic (best of my life, by far). I am a very sexual person and I like to experiment and create new experiences with her. We have tried a few different things in the past, and she has always been enthusiastic. She and I (two women) are both bisexual and have enjoyed sex with both men and women in the past. I find the idea of a threesome very exciting. She does not and gets uncomfortable whenever I bring it up. Should I just let the idea go?”

Hi friend!

I’m not really sure if you should let the idea go or not, it depends on a lot of factors. If this is an experience that you think is important for your life experience then you should continue to advocate for it (but make sure it is in a productive way). If this is something that isn’t necessary for your happiness but is something you would really like to do with your partner, then there are ways to approach it (but be ready for a no). Or, if it really isn’t a big deal then you should probably just say something like, “Hey, this is an experience that is really erotic to me and I would love to have that experience with you. I know you aren’t interested in it, but if that ever changes or you meet a guy that you could see us having a threesome with please let me know.” And then drop it unless your partner brings it up.
Okay, so back to the first two options. If this is something that is important to you and you want to do it with your partner, then I think you need to open up the communication and see why your partner is uncomfortable with it. Most of the time our discomfort is rooted in past experiences that form patterns in our brains and if you can figure out the source of that discomfort you may be able to slowly and lovingly address it in a way that will allow for you two to have this experience together.

For example, maybe after talking with your partner you find out that her concern with a threesome with a male is that your attraction to that man represents something that she feels she can never provide you with. There may be a fear that this experience will make you realize you would rather not be with her. These assumptions may be wrong and rooted in fear, but they are still legitimate for your partner and can be addressed. You can help reassure her that she is who you want this experience with, that she will have complete veto control over all actions, and that you are comfortable with taking things slow and babystepping up to a threesome. You could start by having a date with a guy where no physical contact is allowed, or maybe limit things to kissing. She could have complete control over who the person is in order to minimize her discomfort (some people are more comfortable with mutual friends, others with strangers, or maybe you find a guy who is in a relationship and turn it into a foursome in order to minimize any fears of long-term attachment). You can also open something up like this to only certain environments or times. I know some couples who are strictly monogamous except when at Burning Man (or a similar festival), or they only play with others when using MDMA. Those barriers can help prevent jealousy, discomfort, etc. from spilling over into your relationship.

(I should re-emphasize that this is just an example, I clearly don’t know the inner workings of you or your partner or what would make each of you comfortable)

So, what should you do? I don’t know. It really depends on why your partner is uncomfortable, how open they are to giving you this gift (because this is a gift to you from them), and how important this experience is and how long you think you and your partner will be together.

 

 

“Would you write me a love story?”
Sure! I have never really tried to write a love story before. I think I’m pretty good at writing erotica, but a love story is a whole different challenge. Though, since you said you wanted it to be for you I don’t want to write a vague love story. Send me more information about what you have in mind and I’ll type something up. I’ll share it publicly or privately, whichever you prefer (but I’ll need an email address or something if you want it to be private).

 

“Hi Peter!
I have a really hard time managing social anxiety. It manifests in so many ways -- I get physically nauseous when I go over to a friend's house to hang out, I feel sweaty and my heart rate goes way up when I send a message to anyone when there is the potential for a negative response. As an extrovert, I am much more comfortable once I am in a social situation, but getting there is a huge difficulty for me. I usually just do it, but practicing just doing whatever I need to do (send that invite, go to that party, etc) hasn't made the anxiety any better. Have you ever faced anything similar? And even if you haven't, what suggestions do you have for handling that in a healthier way?”

Hello!
I’m sorry that you are struggling with managing your social anxiety. Though, I think it is wonderful that you are reaching out for help and continue to try to be social. When I was struggling the most I just holed myself up in my room, and it sounds like what you deal with is significantly more difficult than what I’ve experienced. You are stronger than I am.

I haven’t faced anything like what you’re facing, but I think the first step is to see a therapist, if possible. I think everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) should see a therapist regularly. A therapist will be able to provide you with specialized care and a greater understanding of the anxiety you face.

With or without a therapist, I think that mindfulness meditation could be helpful for you. “Headspace” is a great app with guided meditations on it, there is even a pack in Headspace that focuses specifically on Anxiety. I’m not a great meditator but I have seen it really benefit my life. If you are a reader then I would recommend checking out “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright, “10% Happier” by Dan Harris, and “A Guide to the Good Life” by William Irvine. The first two are about Buddhism and meditation (but without the theology that is associated with it in the east) and the last one is about applying Stoic practices to your day to day life.

I realize none of that will help quickly. For the now, do you have a close friend that you can open up to about this and they can act as an escort or support to get you into the social situations? I know that I am nervous about doing new things (even something simple like going into a new grocery store) and that having my partner or a friend with me helps get me across the threshold. Just being able to explain this fear openly to them helps me see the fear from another angle, analyze the emotions that are the foundation of the fear, and then move beyond it.

The fear to send out an invitation or initiate a new experience sounds similar to the feelings I get around my Imposter Syndrome. I fear that I’m annoying people or that I will be rejected or that I’m not worthy to have them in my life. It becomes very easy to read into things in an illogical way (for example, when someone says they can’t hang out because they are busy I immediately think they are telling me a lie because the truth would hurt me… the truth being that they don’t like me and don’t want to see me). I wish I had a more satisfactory answer for this, all I can think of is to keep doing what you are doing, spend time analyzing your feelings and try to include a more objective analysis of your thoughts.

I hope things get better.

 

"Would you consider foreskin restoration?"

Interesting question... I guess you either know that I'm circumcised (which is possible because naked pics of me exist online and I'm a snapchat exhibitionist) or you are making an educated assumption based on my place of birth. I'm going to answer it, but first I want to address language. I hope this isn't going to come off pedantic... I think words are very powerful and the ones we choose to use can shape the way we view the world, particularly the words we choose to tell ourselves the story of our own lives.

So, when you say "would you consider...", my first reaction is "Of course! Because I would seriously consider anything." We should always be open to thinking through things to see how we feel and to analyze why we feel that way. If we refuse to consider something then we do ourselves a disservice.

I think it is important to always consider your options and how you would respond to changes. Whether it is considering something about the future (what would happen if you found out your partner had one week to live? what would you do if you inherited $10,000,000), someone else's point of view (what would convince you to become communist? what conditions would lead you to atheism? at what point would you apply to be a police officer?), or the outcome of your own actions (what if you quit your job to focus full-time on your passion? what if you decided to divorce your spouse because you are unhappy and they are unsupportive?) it is a valuable thought experiment to consider these things and challenge your status quo.

In short, yes, I would (and have) considered foreskin restoration, but the interesting part is what the results of that consideration are. At this point in my life I am not interested in foreskin restoration. I've given it a lot of thought and I don't see a lot of tangible benefits, but it is something I tend to revisit every year or so and maybe I'll change my mind.

I think circumcision is absolutely wrong. I think my rights were violated as a child and my parent's failed in their parental duties to protect me, but I think they did what they thought was right. I was born in 1981, long before the internet provided a wealth of information at the fingertips of parents. My parents trusted doctor's and tradition, and understandably so. They were 20 years old and about to have their first child, they did their best but I think they were wrong in this case. I don't hold this against them at all.

But, I think parents today can't get off the hook that easily. The only morally justifiable reason for a parent to authorize the permanent removal of a piece of a child is if it is medically necessary. Circumcision is almost never medically necessary. It might be a religious ceremony, but children don't have a religion and can't consent to it. It might make raising a child more convenient for the parents, but cutting off a piece of your child for parental convenience is barbaric (people who want a convenient life shouldn't have children).

I realize that circumcision is very common in American culture and that makes it difficult to view it objectively. But I bet that if another culture had a tradition of using a hot iron to brand a religious symbol into the chest of children or used a surgical razor to slice the nipples off the male babies, we would see that as barbaric. Rights exist even if the person doesn't remember the incident, and a child's autonomy doesn't come secondary to a parent's aesthetic preferences.


“Hi Peter! First of all, thanks for doing this and being so open to questions. I am new to polyamory and wanted to ask if it was difficult for you to practice it initially. I am working through a lot of difficult emotions that arise every time my partner hangs out with his other partner. How can I learn to love through difficult emotions? If you experienced jealousy and fear going into polyamory, what helped you to cope and overcome it? Also, do you think you want to have children? If so, how do you envision that working in a polyamorous relationship?”

Hi! It is really my pleasure to answer questions and be open. I would totally do this for a living if I could… maybe I should start shamelessly plugging my Bitcoin or Paypal address to accept tips or turn this into a podcast.

Anyway, on to your questions.

I’m going to start at the end. I do not plan on having children. In fact, I got a vasectomy a few years back (10/10 – Would recommend). My partner and I have discussed adopting or fostering a child and we are open to it in theory at some point down the road, but it won’t be soon. So, I don’t have any real guidance or personal thoughts on that but there are definitely some books you should check out that can address those (and all) of the questions you’ve brought up.

“The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt is a classic in polyamory, Part II is all about navigating your non-monogamous relationship and includes dealing with jealousy, sharing partners time, etc. Part III, Chapter III is all about child rearing (to be honest, I skipped that chapter when I read it but I’m going to go back and read it now so that I can provide better guidance in the future.

“Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino is a more step-by-step guide to opening up your relationship. Sidenote: Tristan also produces wonderful feminist porn and sex guides to improving and trying new sexual stuff, everything from BDSM to threesomes to cunnilingus to new positions, she’s phenomenal. Similar to “The Ethical Slut”, within “Opening Up” there are chapters on troubleshooting, common problems, jealousy and other intense feelings, raising children, etc.

I would definitely check out those books in physical format or via Audible (though, personally, the physical book is better for taking notes and really internalizing the lessons). You can probably skip right to the chapters that address your concerns without missing much. There is something kind of awesome about listening to taboo stuff on your ride to work, especially if you use public transportation.

Okay, now that I’ve deferred to the experts, here are my thoughts and experiences

I’ll start off by saying that my partner and I are not polyamorous, we have a “monogamish” relationship that is more open than monogamy but we aren’t really interested in dating or falling in love with anyone else. We are open to that happening organically, but we aren’t putting any effort into it. The last time I really practiced polyamory was college and I kind of had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement with my partners. I didn’t live with any of them and there were no time or energy expectations. I also do not really feel jealousy very strongly, I used to be an extremely jealous person but that eventually faded away after taking several years off of dating and spending a lot of time in reflection and reading a variety of philosophers that lend themselves to logic instead of emotion. But that doesn’t really help you and I’m going to try my best to give actual advice.

I think the first thing to recognize is that your feelings are valid and can be addressed. I hope your partner is supportive of your feelings and doing all they can to minimize negative feelings. I think you should definitely talk with your partner about how you feel and try and figure out why you feel that way. Throughout our lives (particularly when we are younger) we develop patterns of thoughts and behaviors to link information (or schemata in psychology speak… see “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennett-Gould for more on this).

Difficult emotions have sources and when we discover those sources we can begin the healing process to overcome them… maybe you get jealous or anxious about your partner because you felt a parent or previous partner gave more attention or love to a sibling or someone else so subconsciously you feel like you will be eventually abandoned if your partner gives any attention to someone new (just a hypothetical to make a point). While the specifics of why you are having jealousy or fear may differ, I think there are some tools that can be beneficial.

First, talk things out with your partner. They should be loving, supportive, and not prescriptive. The key is for them to let you know that they are listening and that they value the relationship with you. Your goal is to express how things feel and why you might feel that way.

Second, I highly recommend a mindfulness meditation practice. There are tons of books and resources available (which can be overwhelming). “Headspace” is a great app that has guided meditations for a variety of situations including stress, frustration, “SOS”, anxiety, regret, anger, and relationships.

Third, if you haven’t met your partner’s partner then I would recommend doing that and getting to know them. Many negative emotions come from the unknown and we create a perfect image of another person. We make them more attractive, more articulate, more successful than they actually are. Our minds move to extremes until we encounter reality. This happens to everyone and the best antidote for assumptions is reality. So, meet the partner and realize that they have flaws and imperfections.

Lastly, and this is more of a short-term practical thing, make sure you have something to do and people to hang out with when your partner is with their partner. It is not unreasonable to come to a decision with your partner that you two coordinate plans so that the nights they go out overlap with your dates or scheduled fun time with friends. Also, make agreements that you will check-in via text a reasonable amount of times (maybe twice per night when out?... what is reasonable will vary but I think twice is good). Hopefully, your partner’s partner understands what may be going on and will understand if your partner needs to send a quick “Hey, we just finished dinner and are going to watch a movie, I’ll be home by 11pm, love you!” text.

So, don’t give up, your mind is malleable and under your control. Even the most jealous person can develop compersion* and support for their partners. I hope some of this helps.

* Compersion: The feeling of joy one has while knowing about another’s joy, generally used in polyamorous circles to express joy when your partner has a great date or sexual experience with someone else. Often called the opposite of jealousy.

 

"What do you do for work?"

Ah yes, the "work" question. I was pretty tempted to answer it like Tim Ferris does ("I'm a drug dealer"), but I'll give a more thorough answer. I'm going to assume that "work" means "way I spend my time to bring in money so that I don't die and have resources to enjoy life, but I wouldn't do this task if I was immortal or had no wants". That definition is a little clunky (and a little inaccurate for me because I actually work more than I "need" to) but it'll do.

My primary use of time for income is my role as a researcher and data analyst. I am technically freelance but I work solely for a company based out of Charleston. I work remotely, make my own hours, and mostly determine how many hours per week I work. I try to keep it to around 25-30 because working 40 hours a week interferes with my other interests and I find the quality of my work starts to deteriorate around that time.

I realize "researcher" and "data analyst" is kind of vague. Basically, I work with different organizations (usually local governments or non-profits) to assist with housing issues and navigate bureaucracy. Sometimes I'm helping a non-profit finish the necessary Environmental Reviews in order to construct affordable housing, sometimes I'm creating visualizations of demographic and housing data at the County level and providing advice to government officials on ways they can reduce the cost of housing in their community, and sometimes I'm helping a city navigate the HUD requirements for their funding. The firm I work for is always looking for new ways to create value so my job can change from week to week.

Now, in addition to my "time for cash" system, I am always trying to create more passive income. I haven't had huge success with this yet, mostly because I haven't really put much effort into it because I lack the incentive structure necessary. One way I've brought in very little income (but hey, every dollar helps) is the book I wrote and my blog. Every month Amazon deposits a little bit of money based on sales and any referrals from the affiliate program. I've also purchased some Bitcoin mining equipment through a company in Iceland that brings in about $20 a day, which isn't a ton but when you factor in the growth of crypto value I'm averaging about $10,000 per year from this... which isn't bad for something that requires zero effort on my part.

Ideally, I'd like to start spending more time on creation. I'm currently working on an audiobook recording of my book and I'd like to get into podcasting. I don't know if I'll ever have a huge source of passive income but if I have 5-10 sources that bring in $20 per day I could end up with $35k-$70k income (in addition to my researcher job). Considering my current annual expenses are less than $30k, that would be a pretty big income boost. When it comes down to it, my goal is to not work.

 

“I don't think we've ever met in person, but I've really enjoyed following your adventures on Facebook. I have been really impressed with your fitness journey - how did you motivate yourself to start running? It's something I've been trying to do lately for exercise both for myself and my dog but I cannot seem to enjoy it. Should I just resign myself to the fact that running isn't my thing or are there things I can try to like it more?”

Getting started with running was really difficult for me. When my partner and I decided to stop our bike ride I knew that I needed to start a fitness routine or I would get back to an unhealthy weight again. The truth is, the only times in my life when I have been really healthy were when it was a necessary part of my life… in the Army and on my bike tours. When I was in college and Washington DC I was close to 200lbs and I cringe every time photos of me during that time pop up on Facebook. And it wasn’t just weight, I used to break out in rashes/hives, was exhausted all the time, my sleep was terrible, my mental health was bouncing around, and I had no motivation. When I exercised regularly and ate right (for me my weight loss was about 80% diet and 20% exercise) those problems all kind of went away.

So, when the bike ride stopped I knew that I needed to stay active and decided to go with running. I was living in Myrtle Beach at the time and figuring out a bike route that was safe and would challenge me was difficult, it was much easier to find run routes between .5 and 5 miles than cycling routes between 5 and 20 miles. Now, I am not really a natural runner. I don’t particularly enjoy it (and sometimes dread it) and I find myself often fluctuating between boredom and exhaustion while running. But, with a few changes to my life, I got to the point where running was a healthy and happy part of my day. So, don’t resign yourself to the fact that running isn’t your thing, that type of mentality (whether it is about running or learning a foreign language or learning math or creating art) only sells you short of your potential. You can be a runner, just like I can. The joy of running comes with time and practice and accomplishments (I still remember how awesome I felt after my first 10-mile run).

I really found a handful of things that kept me going and built up my appreciation and relative enjoyment. First, start off slow and don’t compare yourself to others. My first runs were actually 1-mile run/walks, but I promised myself I would do it every single day and over time my runs got longer. The daily part was difficult at first but I set myself up for success by prepping everything the night before. I would make my coffee the night before (I drink a cup before I run), set out my clothing, and have my route all planned out. I also download any audiobooks, podcasts or music that I want to listen to. Basically, I remove any barrier that might prevent me from getting out the door because my will-power is ridiculously low in the mornings.

If you can, find someone that you can run with and commit to. My partner and I ran together a lot in the beginning and even ran together this morning. I’ve also found someone in my neighborhood that runs a couple of times a week and we will occasionally shoot a text at night to see if the person wants to go running the next morning. It helps if someone else is expecting you, but I know that can be difficult to find a physical person so use social media. Send a friend a Snapchat or Facebook message the night before or morning of when you need motivation. Share an Instagram photo of your planned route. Join a Facebook group filled with other people who are trying to make running a habit. Use social pressure to your advantage by creating incentives to get out the door.

Also, I find it really helpful to immerse myself in motivation (this works for non-fitness areas as well). One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is dick around on my phone for 15 minutes by scrolling Instagram and such. By subscribing to a bunch of feeds of people who are running or working I get motivated to get out there and be active as well. I also read a lot of books about health and nutrition to keep my mind on the prize. I highly, highly, highly recommend “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. That book, above all else, motivated me to push my body to the extreme and see what I am capable of… because we are capable of amazing things. Your body and mine are both basically the same as the bodies of our ancestors who crossed continents by foot without running shoes or power gel. You can be a runner, our bodies were built for it, and when we do the things we were built to do we feel satisfaction and joy. Yes, it will always be tiring but there is a certain euphoria and sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you started the day off on the right foot by prioritizing your health and returning to your ancestral roots of being a kick-ass human being out in the elements.

I hope that helps and I hope we get to meet in person someday!

 

"What do you think you've learned from Burning Man that translates into your everyday life? That's not to assume it has to be something of practical value. I think Burning Man is an awesome, hedonistic, and ephemeral event in its own right. But I'm curious what parts you find yourself thinking about most now."

Burning Man has increasingly become part of the world culture since the internet has allowed people to share their amazing photos and experiences out in the Nevada desert. As a "burner" I love and laugh when pop-culture makes a reference to Burning Man. Whether it is Jim telling Dwight that Cece was conceived in a port-a-potty at Burning Man (The Office) or Ruxin accusing Taco of holding company meetings in a sweat lodge at Burning Man (The League) to entire episodes of popular shows like Malcolm in the Middle that are dedicated to an unexpected trip to Black Rock City. These shows all play on the stereotypes of what happens out there, and there is some truth to the stereotypes, but still, the question "what is Burning Man?" is difficult to answer.

At its foundation, Burning Man is a community of around 80,000 that gathers together for one week to live their lives based on 10 Core Principles. But, no matter how many videos you watch or blog posts you read, you can't really understand what it is truly like or what it is "about" (if it is about anything). For one, the event is a living organism that changes every year. The art, camps, musicians, etc. change every year because they are all created by the community. There are no real event organizers that hire bands or set up events for people to do. The organizers simply make sure there are port-a-potties, set up "center camp" where you can get coffee and ice, and they mark out the roads. Everything else from the multi-million dollar sound stages that host musicians to the orgy dome to the bars to the art cars is all gifted by the community to the community. Each year differs from the last and every person's experience differs because it is what you make of it.

Which I think brings me to your question. There are many things that Burning Man has brought into my everyday life. One thing is that life is what you make of it. There are an infinite number of ways to live your life and you solely are in control of what path you will take. Our happiness, satisfaction, joy, and success are in our own hands and our failures are our own fault.

Secondly, everything (including our lives) is ephemeral. "This too shall pass". There is no reason to get caught up in acquiring things or worrying about the future because it is all going to be dust someday. It is much better to recognize our own cosmic insignificance and enjoy life.

Third, I can survive with very little. When you spend a week in the desert with nothing but a tent, some dry food, and water, and come out of it happier than you have ever been, it makes you realize that the important things in life aren't luxuries, they are the people and experiences you have. It becomes easy to live without air conditioning or a king size bed or a car... our bodies and minds are capable of thriving in discomfort, they were made to thrive in discomfort.

Fourth, at Burning Man I had healthy, non-traditional relationships modeled for me. I saw polyamorous groups that had raised children together. I saw professionals who used drugs responsibly. I met people who were traveling around the world in a bus with their teenage children and brought their children to Burning Man. Basically, I met people who were incredibly successful and happy because they broke out of the 9-5 work life, 2.5 children, white picket fence, monogamy, retire at 65 American Dream. To be honest, if I had met people like that growing up I would probably be much more interested in raising children, but I didn't... I only had a lifestyle that didn't appeal to me modeled and it turned me off of childrearing irreversibly.

Lastly, I think Burning Man has helped me realize that "home" is a fluid concept and isn't limited to our biological family or place of birth. When I go to Burning Man, I'm going home... but I'm also going home when I visit my friends in Los Angeles or San Diego or Portland or DC. A house isn't a home, it never is. A home is in our mind and being attached to a place that was important in the past is psychologically dangerous, it is better to let it all go.

I wish I was going to Burning Man this year, but I wish that every year. I miss having a place where I am surrounded by open-minded people and I can be 100% true to myself. Originally, I was interested in Burning Man because I thought it was all about drugs and sex and partying, but at my first burn I found out that it is much more than just that. It is a place of healing and community and love and acceptance, it is something that we all try and take back to the "default world" when we leave so that we can spread the joy and love to others. But, even though I miss Burning Man I realize that "home" is inside me and that there is a lot to experience in this world. Burning Man can be expensive and with a finite life right now it is more important to me to try other things. I'll be back someday though, either in this body or as dust to be burnt with the Temple.

"My partner has hinted at the idea of a threesome, and although he hasn't pushed the idea, I know he definitely would want to try it. My challenge is that while I do find myself occasionally attracted to women, and even enjoy lesbian porn, I have a strong tether to the concept of monogamy and faithfulness. I am afraid that if I tried a threesome with my partner, it would be a slippery slope and maybe he would leave me or find other sexual partners. I know this sounds like jealousy, but if you were raised in my family you would also feel there is no wiggle room in a marriage. How would you recommend I work through this? I don't want to limit myself or my partner to a Victorian notion of marriage"

First off, I think it is really awesome that you are even considering a threesome. A threesome is probably one of the more difficult experiences to take on. And I think your partner deserves some recognition for not being pushy about it as well. It seems he is willing to discuss his fantasies and sexual interests but he doesn't want you to feel uncomfortable, that is they way things should be.

Your feelings and concerns are all valid, but I believe they can be overcome (if that is what you want... and it sounds like it is). One important thing to remember is that he wants to do this with you, he wants this to be an experience you two have together. Remember, he is with you for a lot of reasons beyond sex, having a threesome is unlikely to cause him to cheat and the only slippery slope is that you may find that you like it and you two have more new experiences together... but, a threesome is kind of at the end of the slippery slope, there isn't a whole lot more difficult than that to navigate.

So, how do you work through this? Babysteps, communication, and planning. If you decide to try out a threesome I think the most important question to ask is who the third person will be. There are plenty of options, each with pros and cons. You can go with a friend, there could be a lower risk of feelings of jealousy because you know the person already and jealousy usually stems from the unknown when we put someone up on a pedastal. With a friend, you know their flaws, but with a friend there is a chance that things could get awkward in the future if they turn down your offer or if things don't go perfectly smoothly in threesome (spoiler: things will NOT go perfectly smoothly... threesomes are people getting used to each other's bodies, minds, and preferences... you will laugh, it will be awkward and goofy, life isn't porn).

You can also go with a stranger, but that has some risks involved as well. If you are worried about your partner falling for this stranger I think you should express that concern and then take steps to prevent concern. It can happen in a city far away from where you live, maybe while on vacation, and you can agree not to contact each other after the hookup.

The best option is to find a professional sex worker. There is no risk of falling in love, a professional will discuss exactly what you want and make sure you both have a good time without violating any established rules.

So, if you decide to go through with this you should set up some initial ground rules. Any rule is on the table that will make you more comfortable. Maybe no vaginal penetration of the partner or no kissing or only you provide his orgasm or anything else you can think of. I don't know if he is reading this, but if he is I have one very clear message for him: FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES! If you love your partner and want any chance at future threesomes then you will agree to the rules and follow them to the letter, hell, err on the side of caution and check in with your partner regularly.

Also, just as important as anything else, remember that the other person involved is not just a sex object. They should be involved in the conversation a bit because you are having a relationship with them as well, at least for a night. This is also an area where hiring a professional can make things easier and where inviting a friend to join can make things more complicated.

So, I mentioned before that threesomes are at the end of the slippery slope (at least for heterosexual relationships). This is mostly because of the natural gender imbalance where one person may feel left-out or the perceived emotional risk is higher for one partner. Another option you might want to consider is a foursome or "swap" with another couple, that will reduce any risk of emotional attachment and things will be a bit more even. You can also baby-step by going to your local swinger's club just to observe and flirt and hang out, just establish the ground rules ahead of time. Another option is to have same-room sex with another couple where you can see and hear the other person but you all agree to no-touching.

I know how difficult this can be for you. I grew up in a very conservative home where monogamy was the only option. I actually planned on my first kiss being on my wedding day. The way I moved beyond it was exposing myself to new experiences and having supportive partners. It sounds like you have a supportive partner and are willing to try new things, that really is half the battle. And remember, if you are willing to explore this with your partner then he will be willing to explore something that you're interested in as well... whether that is a threesome with a guy or something non-sexual. Partnerships sometimes involve us doing things we aren't enthusiastic about for our partners because we love them and we want them to explore all the world has to offer. I think relationships end much more often when things get stagnant or one person feels restricted than when partners try new things together in a healthy and open way.

 

"Please settle a years-long debate: Dolphin vs giant squid, who wins?"

Is it a normal size dolphin? If so, then the giant squid wins. It has a bird beak the size of a refrigerator and can spit ink into the dolphin's face. All the dolphin can do is try to have sex with every hole the squid has... which is annoying, but not really a way to win. The squid will probably eat the dolphin mid-coitus like some kind of weird black widow.

 

"I have a friend that considers me a "best" friend, but the relationship feels one-sided to me. I don't feel that the support and emotional investment is reciprocated, so this relationship can be exhausting for me. Have you ever cut a friendship out or parsed it down? If so, how did it go and are you happier because of it?"

I've cut out several relationships in my life, mostly when it became obvious that they were toxic to me. I usually just kind of fade away by ignoring messages and such... probably not the best or most mature way to do it but it usually works. And yes, I'm happier because of it. Some people enter our lives for a finite amount of time and holding on to them actually makes our lives worse. Not everything is eternal.

I will say, if you want this friendship to work then there might be ways to fix things. People have different "love languages" and they may feel like everything is fair. Take, for example, my best friend since 4th Grade. His primary love language is primarily "gift giving" but mine is "physical touch". So, he'll buy me birthday gifts but I don't feel like they mean much because that isn't how my brain works, and I'm sure he doesn't see my visits/hugs/etc as being as important as me purchasing gifts for him. But, because we value our friendship and realize we are different we are able to recognize that each of us is doing our best. Ideally, you learn the love language of your friends and are able to fulfill them, even if they don't mean much to you. (See: "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman... you can ignore the theological stuff).

 

"Your other responses inspired me so I'm seeking advice. I've been seeing someone for a few months now and I've developed strong feelings for them, but these feelings hit a tipping point when I decided to tell this person that I'm falling for them. Their response didn't exactly address my feelings directly (in other words I didn't get ily back) which is fine but now I'm feeling rejected in the sense that I can't imagine myself ever telling this person how I feel again (at least for a while). Is my reaction irrational? Does there response speak to them being less likely to see a future with me? Am I a place holder in their life?"

I don't think your reaction is irrational. You made yourself vulnerable and feel hurt by their response because they didn't open up or share your feelings. I think it is impossible to tell from this situation whether there will be a future with them or not. Most relationships involve one person falling in love faster than the other person. Maybe they will grow to love you and you will have a long future with them, or maybe they don't see a future but see you as a "fun for now" relationship. There is no real way to know without talking directly with them about this.

I should note, that I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with being in a "fun for now" relationship. If you see it as that and enjoy the lovin' that you get until you drift apart then it is a successful relationship. If that isn't what you are looking for right now then you should be straight with them and try to discuss the future. If you two have different goals for the future then it might be a good idea to politely go separate ways instead of trying to make it work.

 

"First of all, you're awesome and inspiring! I just bought your book and am looking forward to reading it. Your openness and honesty is really powerful and helps many people grow. Something I'm curious about... what do you mean when you say you're a "Stoic Hedonist?" I feel like I can relate since I'm a fan of both philosophies and finding the balance between them, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the two philosophies and how they may intertwine despite being apparent opposites. Thanks!"

Aww, thanks! I hope you enjoy the book, it means so much to me that my friends have been so supportive of my writing.

So, what do I mean by Stoic Hedonism? Well first, I should state that I haven't really done any reading on the actual Hedonistic philosophy but I have read some Stoic stuff. I think my Stoic perspective is more closely aligned with the ancient philosophy and my Hedonism perspective is more aligned with the assumptions and "pop" version of the philosophy.... just wanted to get my perspective out of the way first.

Stoic Hedonism is the split between how I view the world that is outside of my control and how I view the world inside of my control. When dealing with events that are beyond my control or deal with other people, I am a stoic. I think it is a waste of time and energy to concern myself with what other people do and I would be better off remaining ignorant of many world events. If something is not actionable then it should be ignored. I can't change what is happening in China or Mars or in the home of someone in Oregon, so it isn't worth stressing or being sad or upset about. Embracing negative emotions due to things outside of my control actually makes things worse.

Now, internally I am more of a Hedonist. When I plan what I'm going to do with the things that are within my control I try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Not only that, I think we humans were built to enjoy life as much as possible in a variety of ways. Food, sex, adrenaline, accomplishments, exploration, adventures, etc. are all the reason for living. We have a very short life and we should embrace every opportunity to suck out the marrow. Because of this, I tend to have a relatively short time horizon (I save a little for the future* but it isn't a huge concern) and I follow the advice of Christ, Buddha, and many other great thinkers... we are not guaranteed tomorrow and we should live in the moment. The present is all we have.

That's what I mean by Stoic Hedonism. I view the world as a Stoic and I view my life as a Hedonist. Or, as my goddess Kesha says in her new song "Let 'Em Talk"

-Do whatever makes you happy
-And screw everything else if you ask me
-'Cause life is short and we only got one shot
-So let's go balls-out, give it everything we got
-Don't let those losers take your magic, baby
-Shake that ass, don't care if they talk about it
-Fuck all that, haters, just forget about 'em

 

"First off I want to say you're my favorite person that I've never met. You most the best things, maybe I'm biased because we agree on so many things. My question though was something I just randomly thought of earlier, in what ways, if any, has your sexual experience changed after having a vasectomy?"

 That's so sweet and awesome. I hope we can correct that and meet someday. Hmm, but then I would just be your 87th favorite person that you've met instead of your favorite person that you haven't. I'm not sure how I feel about this... it is a big fish little pond vs little fish big pond conundrum.

Anyway... on to your question. The vasectomy made sex even better because I didn't need to wear a condom with my partner any more. It felt better and we saved money. Other than that, there wasn't much effect. I had to take a couple of weeks off of orgasming while the stitches healed and I was pretty tender for a while, but that was a small price to pay for sterilization. My genital piercing had a MUCH larger effect on sex. If you (or your partner, friends, strangers, etc) have the opportunity to get a vasectomy I highly recommend it.

 

"How did you get your job? Did you study for it or did it just fall in your lap."

Neither? Both and more? I wouldn't say it fell into my lap, that makes it seem way more passive and luck-based than it was. I think it really came down to two factors: networking and risk-taking. I found out about my current job from a friend of a friend. In fact, every single job I've had since graduating college came into my life because of someone I knew. Networking is key, and the key to networking is authenticity... which brings me to point two.

I'm sure there are people who shudder at how open I am with my life. I think there is a mindset that we should be afraid of who we are or guard our views because we are afraid of scaring away potential employers. That really hasn't been my experience. I met my current employer through a friend BECAUSE of how open I am with my views. Before this job I was employed in Los Angeles BECAUSE I took a summer off and rode my bike across the country alone. Also, I have my current job BECAUSE I was traveling the country for two years by bike. While on the bike ride my friend of a friend offered me a part time (~5 hours per week) position at his company, he never could have filled that position with a traditional employee because the hours were too low but someone like me with minimal expenses that is comfortable working remotely was perfect, and that job evolved into my current role.

I left on that biking adventure unemployed but I knew that everything would work out, not because of some magic or fate or blessing from my pantheon of gods or luck or divine plan, but because new opportunities only come into your life when you step outside your door and are true to yourself. Risk comes before opportunities. Happiness and success come from aligning your life up with your values, and your values include all your kinks, passions, and viewpoints.

*Ironically, it is my risk-taking and neglecting my student loans and saving for the future that helped me have new employment opportunities and make more money. If I had taken the "safe" route of staying in DC I would probably have less saved for retirement than I do now. Saying "fuck it, I'm not paying back my student loans or worry about retirement because I don't want to be one of those people who don't have adventures until they are older, I want to live my life NOW" ended up being a better fiscal move.

 

“Why isn't god being blamed for the current terror attack on Florida? Why isn't Trump trying to deport god? Should Florida build a wall to keep all the god terrorism out?”

Interesting questions, I’ll tackle them one at a time.
I think some people are blaming god for Hurricane Irma and the devastation that it has brought to the Caribbean and Florida. People also blamed god for Hurricane Harvey, as well. I have never heard it called a “terrorist attack” though, but I think that phrasing might have more validity than first appears. If there is a conscious deity with some sort of free will, then causing (or allowing) such seemingly needless destruction in order to get people to ask for forgiveness or something could be classified as a terrorist attack. It is all a matter of perspective, I’m sure Osama bin Laden didn’t see the 9/11 as terrorism, they may have seen it as punishment for the US meddling in the affairs of other countries. Finding the right words is always tricky because each person receiving the words has their own perspective and biases that they place on them.

I don’t think Trump is trying to deport god because I don’t think Trump really believes god exists. But, then again, I don’t know if he actually believes most of the terrible things he says about immigrants is true either. I think if Trump thought it would bring him support or power he would stand up against god, but right now we live in a country that overwhelmingly believes in god or is fairly apathetic about the issue. Besides, in order to deport someone you need the power to do so and I don’t think INS has the resources or weaponry necessary to deport god… if god is even in America.

No, Florida shouldn’t build a wall to keep the god terrorism out. They shouldn’t build a wall for any reason. It would be ridiculously expensive and complete ineffective. I don’t think walls stop god, unless he is a vampire and you can make the claim that a country is like a house and he needs permission to come in. Wait, but I’m sure someone would just invite him in, so that won’t stop anything. Florida would be better off spending their money on infrastructure improvements and removing incentives (like subsidized hurricane insurance) from areas that are high-risk.

 

“Hey, Peter, I need some dating advice. I'm 26, work a great job, live by myself in a nice apartment, work out, etc. I have no problem getting a date. I can go on a dating app on Monday and have a weekend date by Friday. However, no matter who I go out with or how much I do or do not like them after a date or two, I can never seem to get past the third date. At best, I'm probably a very self-aware nice guy. At the worst, I'm still a hopeless nice guy. I don't think my circumstance is all that unusual, but I wanted to see your answer because everything else online seems kind of vague. Or, maybe I just don't know what to do with the advice. As soon as a woman expresses obvious interest in me, I am almost immediately turned off and want to press my luck with someone else. Sometimes I don't make past the third date because I don't want to go out with them anymore. However, some of these women probably would make great girlfriends, and looking back I kind of feel bad for not going out with some again or not offering more of an explanation for my disinterest. For the women who don't express obvious interest, I immediately see a challenge. I want to put all my chips on the table. However, I've realized that this will quickly put me in the friend zone. Recently, I went out with a woman who was obviously guarded and not ready to get into relationship, though she did seem somewhat interested. This was an interesting scenario I had not encountered before. So, I tried to balance my interest by actively trying not to overwhelm her, which resulted in me not making a move as soon as I may have with others. She interpreted this as lack of mutual interest from me, even though she admitted that my analysis of her guarded but interested stance was fair. She said she was sorry for misinterpreting and was glad I told her how I felt, though she had moved on and my opportunity is now dead. So - two questions: How do I find balance in my attraction for what I can't have and disinterest for what I can. Second, how do I express interest or intent for a person without falling into the friend zone? Please answer on your blog and via Facebook post if you would be so kind.”

Hey! Oh man, I don’t know if I am the best person to talk to about dating advice but I’ll do my best. I was pretty terrible at dating.

I think you should first determine why you want to date at all. Are you just trying to get laid? Are you looking for a lifetime partner? Are you just looking for something to do on a Saturday night? How you answer that question will shape the way you approach dating. And maybe you should consider not dating for a while. I think we put too much pressure on people to be dating. If someone isn’t interested in finding a partner at that time we always expect something to be wrong with them, but you have a lot of time ahead of you.

You’re 26 and, assuming you went to college, you have really only been a free adult in the working world for about 4 years. That is about 1/15th of your adult life, you should consider just enjoying it and not taking things too seriously. If your mind/body/spirit is tuning people out after three dates then maybe you aren’t ready to settle down for longer than 2 dates.

So, I think you should just kind of follow your instincts on this. Go out casually, have fun, and then stay in touch with the people you meet. Build up your social group and maybe let some of these Tinder dates turn into friends instead of partners.

Oh, and be open and honest with people. Dating is kind of shitty and tough, playing games just makes it shittier and tougher. Don’t worry about playing hard to get or seeming too interested, if you want to see someone then see them and if you don’t anymore then be honest. And if you really think there is something wrong with you that will prevent you from staying interested in someone long-term then I think there are two things you can do.

First, talk to a therapist (really, everyone should talk to a therapist), find one in your area that you connect with and talk to them about your dating experiences. Maybe there is something in your past that is subconsciously turning you off because you are afraid of being hurt or maybe porn and rom-coms have numbed you to how the real world works or maybe finding someone on an app is a superficial way to find a date and you need something that develops more slowly over time, going through friendship first and eventually becoming more. Go meet people at intramural sports leagues or a D&D game or running club or church or hang out at house parties.

Second, go on the third, fourth, and fifth date even if you aren’t feeling it (as long as you aren’t completely repulsed by the person). Maybe there is just a hump you need to get over. If the person is a good person and you have fun with them, then keep going on dates and build up the friendship more. I don’t think three dates is enough time to determine long-term compatibility, so maybe you just aren’t giving it enough time. Oh, and date multiple people at the same time. You can be going on date three with person #1 while still pursuing new person #2. Nobody expects you to be exclusive until it is explicitly discussed, these women are probably seeing multiple guys too.

So, that’s my advice. Again, I haven’t dated in a long time and I was pretty terrible at it. Every serious relationship I have ever had came from meeting my partner through a friend. I had a couple of one-night stands via apps, but nothing that I’d call a relationship. Most importantly, don’t worry about it too much. You are still growing and learning and developing who you are as a person.

 

"What are some of the reasons you reject a partner's sexual advancements? It's really hard not to take it personally when mine explains it as, "I don't know... just doesn't feel right," even though we've been together for a while and had a seemingly great day."

I think there are three primary reasons why I have turned down sex in the past with a partner. The first is just circumstantial... maybe I'm tired or not in the mood or ate too much ice cream and feel bloated and gassy. While this is unfortunate, it isn't really a problem. Though, it is an opportunity to learn and take Dan Savage's lesson of "fuck first" to heart. If you think that sex is likely it is best practice to take care of it before you go out on the date or go to a wedding or whatever. That way, you have the energy necessary for some bumpin' and grindin'. Also, (at least in my experience) fucking early in the day gets the engine going and ready for a round two or three later in the day.

Circumstantial issues can become a series problem if the circumstances are going to continue for the foreseeable future. Say, for example, one person has a job that requires 60+ hours of work a week and they are too tired all the time. That is something that needs to be discussed and addressed in order for everyone to be happy. The way this is addressed can take many forms including agreeing to and scheduling sex ahead of times, agreeing to temporary abstinence for a few months, or a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement to sleep with other people.

The second reason is when I feel like my partner and I are in a sexual rut. Sex usually gets routine. The excitement and curiosity fade away as we become more efficient lovers for our partners. Humans love variety (it is the spice of life, after all)... it's normal, natural, and is kind of sucky, especially when the fading is uneven. This is more difficult to overcome than the circumstantial but it isn't a relationship killer. It might mean you need to sit down and discuss this openly and explore ways to spice things up. Try new positions, schedule certain days for oral sex only or focusing on one partner, talk about some kink or costumes or dirty talk, watch some porn together, discuss your fantasies, take a bath together, try some drugs, experiment with anal... basically discuss your curiosities and explore them a bit.

Also, when the rut happens I think it is important to commit to lowering the enthusiasm bar necessary to have sex. I think it was Mike Birbiglia who said one piece of advice that he'd give married couples is to have more sex. Instead of waiting until everyone is "Hell yeah! 100%! I can't wait to get in/on/around/under you! Let's make the neighbors complain about all the headboard banging that's about to happen! Let's fuck!!!!" you can agree to start banging as long as everyone is at least "Hmm, I might be open to it. 60%. I'm not really in the mood but I'm not disgusted by the idea. Could you maybe go down on me to get things started? Or a sensual massage might warm me up".*

The final reason poses the greatest problems. It is possible that two people are no longer sexually compatible. If that's the case then you both need to make a decision about whether the status quo is sustainable long-term. It isn't fair for either party to be asked to a life of sexual dissatisfaction and I imagine trying to keep a relationship together will lead to resentment and hatred (when ending things while on good terms could allow a friendship to continue). There is nothing morally wrong with wanting kinky, crazy, multi-person sex twice a day and there is nothing morally wrong with only wanting sex once a year in the missionary position with the lights out. Sexual problems exist because of incompatibility, not because one person is a deviant or a prude. Sexual desires change over time and two people who were perfectly compatible in the first two decades of their relationship may find that their needs have changed. When that happens it might mean breaking up, or it might mean everyone consenting to needs being met outside of the relationship. Lots and lots of people have a form of open relationship where one partner gets certain sexual needs met by someone other than their spouse or romantic partner.

I think there is also significant middle ground between these three options. Maybe a series of circumstantial issues are actually a sign of a rut and circumstances are an easy excuse. Or maybe a rut is a sign of shifting sexual needs that mean incompatibility is on the horizon. Regardless, the best thing to do is sit down and talk about it. Express how you feel clearly (without blaming your partner... remember to use "I feel" phrases instead of "You make me feel") and be open-minded to your options. You (probably) love each other and want to have very little stress between you, and you want each other to be happy and satisfied in life. Take time with your options and agree to experiment with each.

* Consent is ALWAYS necessary but I think the level of enthusiasm can vary as a relationship deepens. I think the first time people have sex everyone should be pretty close to 100% enthusiasm but when in a relationship that initial enthusiasm can be less.

 

"I have a friend who just got into a relationship with a guy that I know is a perpetual cheater. I know both from what I've seen and from my own experience. This person lied to me about being in a relationship while we were fucking. Then messaged me consistently for years while still in a relationship trying to get me to do it again. He didn't leave me alone until I told his girlfriend what was happening. 
I want to warn my friend so she is aware. However, I'm afraid it's going to look like I'm looking for revenge and end badly.
So how do I go about this? Do you think there is a way I could go about this constructively? Or should I not even bother and mind my own business."

One of the benefits of having close friends is you have someone who will be honest with you about your relationships. We all need someone who can see things more clearly than we can and can draw attention to any red flags.

You should tell your friend about this guy's past. You shouldn't try to convince her to break up with him (necessarily) and you shouldn't make this subject the focal point of all your conversations with her, but she should be aware of his cheating past and you aren't being a good friend if you hide that from her. Be open, be honest, be understanding, and support her regardless of what decision she makes with this information.

I've given a lot of advice to friends that they didn't want to hear. I've told friends that they shouldn't go through with a wedding. I've told friends that I'm worried about their alcohol consumption. I've told friends that they are in an emotionally abusive relationship or that they should quit their job or that they are behaving in a self-destructive way. And I'm still friends with all those people, very good friends. If your friendship ends because you care about your friend being hurt and you won't sit by while they put themselves in danger, then that friendship probably isn't that strong.

Of course, there is a time and place for expressing your concern. I think the best option would be to take your friend out to brunch or drinks and just lay it all out there. Tell her that while you were seeing this guy he was in a relationship that he was lying about, tell her that he wouldn't leave you alone until you told his girlfriend the truth. Tell your friend that you are primarily worried about her getting hurt and think she should have all the information so that she can be aware of any patterns that may imply he is cheating on her. Then, after you have said everything and reaffirmed that you are going to support her, you drop the subject and don't bring it back up. If she wants to keep talking about it then you should be there to support her, but don't make it a conversation that you bring up.

It sounds like this guy is a cheating piece of shit. Some people can change their ways and I don't believe the "once a cheater, always a cheater" mantra*, but in order for people to change they must WANT to change. And this guy needs to prove that he wants to change, he has a higher burden of proof to prove that he can be trusted than someone who doesn't have a history of cheating. A romantic relationship is one of the most intimate and important relationships that someone will enter and you are being a good friend if you let your friends know of potential dangers in that relationship.

Would you let your friend rent an apartment that you knew was filled with bedbugs? Would you let your friend accept a job with a company that you knew broke the contract they made with their employees? Would you let your friend buy a car from someone with a history of selling lemons or defrauding customers? I hope not... and this is much more important than those things. She is exposing herself to potential health risks if he is sleeping with more than one person without telling her and she is exposing herself to heartbreak if he is cheating on her. Transparency is good, and friends are a way to get a new view on things to increase transparency.

*I'll admit that I would be a huge hypocrite if I advocated for "once a cheater, always a cheater". I've cheated in the past. In fact, I cheated on my current partner years ago. I realized the error of my ways and my partner and I have moved on, but I wouldn't have changed my behavior because other people put pressure on me, I had to do it for myself.

 

"Hi! It has been a "pipe dream" of mine to go to Burning Man, but recently it is becoming more plausible (within the next year or two) due to my location and finances. How would you recommend I plan for attending Burning Man based on your experience? I really don't know where to start! Thanks in advance"

You should go!!!!!! I really, truly believe that everyone with a passing interest in Burning Man should go. Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated and it is still an environment in which you can experience some truly transformative moments.

So, what should you know to be ready? First off, be aware of what Burning Man is and the environment you are entering. It is a week in the Nevada desert without established food, water, or shelter. You are responsible for bringing in everything you will need. There are no stores and buying things is explicitly against the culture (the two exceptions being ice and coffee). You will also be several hours away from any major city and you can't leave and return. You need to be there with everything you will need. Of course, an underground economy exists but it is minimal and frowned upon.

If being removed from "civilization" doesn't deter you (it shouldn't) then read up on the 10 Principles of Burning Man and make sure you are at least somewhat interested in visiting a city of ~70,000 who gather because of those principles. If that sounds lovely then you need to find someone who has been to Burning Man before and see if you can spend the approaching months picking their brain and possibly camp with them (I am volunteering for this role).

I really, really, really don't think first-timers should go alone. Not only is it difficult to be properly prepared but it is also a huge culture shock and having a guide really helps the transition into and out of Black Rock City*. This isn't a small festival, it is a reasonably sized city with all the pros and cons that come with that, but it is also a blank slate that you can make whatever you want it to be. You can find all-night parties, small Irish pubs, thunderdome, yoga studios, classes put on by college professors, cuddle parties, more art than you can ever imagine, an orgy dome, gyms, and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Navigating that is much easier if there is someone that you will see regularly and talk to about what you are experiencing and can give you suggestions.

So, if you are interested in going and have someone to go with, you really need to spend about a year properly preparing because it can be expensive and there are lots of logistics to organize. First off, how are you going to get there? There is a small airport but you won't be able to transport all your stuff via plane. Most people drive, so what are you going to drive? Rental cars are difficult because most rental places make you sign a waiver saying that you aren't going to Burning Man because the dust is pretty harmful to cars (and people). If you live within 1,000 miles you can drive your car or maybe rent a car or RV (be prepared to pay a premium to get it cleaned). RVs have become increasingly popular since they started issuing limited vehicle passes.

Once transportation is secured you need to figure out where you will sleep (in a vehicle, a tent, build a yurt, etc), what you will eat and drink, and what drugs/alcohol you will need. You also will want outfits (or at least weather appropriate clothing, nudity during the day is common but at night things are a bit chilly).... I'm getting too detailed. There are plenty of packing lists online... what's important is that you buy a ticket early (they usually sell out in minutes) and spend the 9 months or so before the Burn preparing. All the logistics can easily fall into place though, the most important thing is to have a desire to go and find someone to guide you.

Hopefully you go, and maybe I'll see you out there soon. I haven't been since 2014 but it looks like 2018 or 2019 I'll be there again.

*Get used to Burning Man being called a lot of things. It is Black Rock City, The Playa (which means desert in Spanish), Home, The Burn, and many others.

 

"Hi Peter! Love your insights! I just recently bought a home and my boyfriend will be moving in with me in about 2 months. I'm working to enjoy creating my home while also working to make space for him because I want him there with me. What are some things we should know or do before during and after this transition? Thanks!!"

First off, congrats! It is wonderful to hear that you purchased a house and your relationship is evolving.

So, I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no "right" way to arrange your relationship or home. I am sure you had a certain set-up modeled for you by your parents and friends, but you can set things up however you wish.

I think important things to consider are communication, finances and expenses, routine and personal space, and sex. First, recognize how you both communicate best and how you like to handle any serious "talks" that you will inevitably need to have. Whether it is sending a long email, scheduling weekly/monthly meetings, or contacting each other immediately when an issue comes to mind, it is best to get your styles out in the open so that you can establish a system.

Finances and expenses are always a possible point of conflict. It is best to discuss early how you plan on handling them. For example, my partner and I keep everything separate. We don't go in communally on food and have separate bank accounts. When one of us covers an shared expense (electricity, internet, etc) we put it on a shared google spreadsheet and at the end of the month we balance things out. We do the same thing for groceries that make sense to share (coffee and condiments, mostly). We also take care of all our own meals and rarely cook/eat together. I know some couples take the completely opposite approach and everything is communal, the key is to find what works best for you two. An additional thing to keep in mind is how being the homeowner is going to impact your relationship because it creates a power imbalance. Is he paying you rent? Do you have veto power over modifications to the house but he doesn't?

We all have daily routines that we take for granted. Some people rise early and drink coffee while reading a book to calmly start the morning, while others wake later and run out the door with barely a shower. I think it would be valuable to just be aware of what your daily routine is and how much personal space you need for it, and how that might be disrupted by someone else living with you. There will definitely be some disruptions to the routine and invasion of your personal space but it is usually manageable with some patience and communication. Another thing to consider is whether you want any parts of the house that are uniquely your own (I recommend it), whether it is a room or a desk I think there is value in having space that each of you completely controls the design of and what goes on in that area. Included in routines is cleanliness, do you pick up everything daily but your partner has a big cleaning spree once a week? Do dishes sit overnight? Does your partner leave toothpaste and shaved hair sprinkled around the bathroom in the morning because he is rushed? How often and thoroughly is the bathroom cleaned? Again, no right or wrong answer, but if there is a difference between you here it is good to recognize that and find a solution early.

Lastly, sexual expectations are another area that may change and warrants consideration. Being around each other can slow sex drive and differing expectations can cause conflict. In my experience, before two people move in together sex tends to happen during the relatively short window of time when you are hanging out, but after you live together certain preferences and routines start to come out. Does one of you prefer mornings while the other evenings? Daily, weekly, monthly, less? Romance and foreplay or just jump into the orgasms? How important is variety or the frequency of certain kinks, positions, etc.? Oh, and this might not apply, but do you have problems with his use of pornography and does he have a problem with you using it.

Basically, you should both give some thought to all aspects of your life and open up a way to communicate when there is some friction between you two. Living with someone is an absolutely amazing experience, but there will be some growing pains. Congrats again and, I'd love to get an update about how it all goes (I would keep that private, of course, I'm just curious  )

 

"My partner and I have been together for several years now and I have never had an orgasm. I've recently told him that I've been faking so he didn't feel bad and he's tried a little to help but he gives up easily and nothing is resolved. I've tried to help but it doesn't seem to work. What can we do? I feel so unhappy constantly and I want it to be mutually beneficial especially since I've been helping him out for several years while I've sat in the shadows."

I'm a little unsure about some of the details but I'm going to respond as best I can. I'm assuming this is a male/female heterosexual relationship because that is the most common. If I get something wrong please let me know, but hopefully, the advice is still valid.

I went back and forth about what advice to give. My first instinct was to tell you to dump your partner. Not because you have not had an orgasm with him (or ever?) because some of that falls on you. But, his response of a half-ass effort and you feeling unhappy constantly and like you've been helping him for several years while sitting in the shadows points to a deeper problem in the relationship.

Let's give him the benefit of the doubt though (at least to keep the discussion going). Maybe he is really willing to get you to orgasm but he felt a little hurt or betrayed or his ego was bruised from finding out that you lied to him for years. If he really is willing to change his behavior then you two need to spend a lot of time figuring out what works for you and don't be embarrassed about whatever it is. We all need to advocate for our own sexual satisfaction.

I realize that there is a lot of shame around sex, particularly for women and women are socialized to be passive sexually. Men, on the other hand, tend to be encouraged to demand their orgasm and porn teaches us that sex ends when the man ejaculates. Like Dan Savage says, "if a man needs a goat in a canoe in the corner of the room to orgasm then every bedroom would have a goat in a canoe in the corner of the room"... so, if you need a goat in a canoe then tell your partner.

But, more likely, you may need to add whatever techniques you use for masturbation into your partnered sex life. Most sexual partners that I've had have needed to touch their own clitoris or be in a certain position or have music on in order to orgasm. Tell your partner what you need and what he should do to get you off, and he should do it. He shouldn't be giving up easily and you shouldn't get him off until he gets you off. You should come first most (if not all) the time. I general, we should aim for at least a 1-to-1 orgasm-to-orgasm ratio in a relationship.

Now, there is one more issue to address.

Don't. Fake. Orgasms. You deserve to be sexually satisfied and honesty is necessary for that. Your partner's ego shouldn't be so fragile that it is hurt by you simply saying "hey, this isn't working for me this time". There have been times when a partner of mine wasn't able to orgasm, and that is okay. Sometimes, the hormones just aren't working or someone is tired or not in the mood, which is fine. If your partner is too lazy or too fragile for you to be able to openly discuss your orgasm needs and have them put forth the effort to get you there then you should dump them.

 

"The two times I've been around you I've been far far too shy to even speak to you intelligently. I kick myself for that because I think it's unlikely I'll get a chance to sit down and talk with you in person. It's funny how the internet, especially the way you do it, creates such a sense of intimacy but it evaporates in the"real world." I would like to have a beer, talk about life and maybe even do a little MDMA with you. But I get in my own way. I know in the past you've said you are shy in person. How do you push yourself to meet and connect with people the way you do?"

I hope we get a chance to sit down and talk in person. Luckily, life is long and filled with unexpected twists and turns (especially if you are like me and like to travel and have adventures), and maybe we will end up in the same town for a while. Or, more likely, if we start chatting we can prioritize seeing each other. You gotta make things happen and work hard to keep connections alive in our meat and flesh world.

I also get in my own way when around other people. I am introverted and somewhat shy and find myself second-guessing the environment around me. I feel like I am a burden on people or that they don't really want to hang out with me and that kills my self-confidence making it difficult to approach people, even people that I've had great conversations with in the past. I don't know how to really overcome it other than recognizing the issue and pushing through. I kind of suck at meeting people, but I've found the best advice comes from Keanu Reeve's character in "Hardball", the most important thing in life is to just show up. So, I try and show up places and meet people. Yes, sometimes that means I go home and curl up for two days because all my introvert batteries have been depleted, but it is worth it.

Also, there is also the common problem of connections online not really developing into connections in the real world. I've had people that I've had incredibly deep and intimate conversations with online but when we've met in person the interaction fell flat. I don't know if it was having expectations that I shouldn't have had or what, but the connection just wasn't there.

I think MDMA is a way around that though. The smoothest and best transition from online friend to real life friend happened years ago when I lived in LA. I met a person through Facebook and after over a year of talking he ended up visiting LA with his wife. We'd talked about rolling together and when they arrived at our house we all popped some Molly and just let the good times take over. That experience was an incredible way to bond with a stranger and we are close friends to this day. I think it is dangerous to have a friendship based solely on drugs (including alcohol or politics) but drugs can be a valuable tool to bring people together and overcome mental barriers that we have.

So, please stay in touch with me and hopefully, we can chat more and get a deeper connection... and when the opportunity comes for us to meet in person we can figure out how to move forward.

 

"As purely a mental exercise, what are your thoughts on incest? Should it be socially acceptable if both parties are consensual and there is no power dynamic imbalance?"

This may be the most common sex/kink related question I get (though, zoophilia is a close second). I think I blogged about it over at my website (www.peterneiger.com) at some point actually. Some sort of incest taboo interest is super common, if you look on any porn site you will see "step-brother", "step-mother", etc porn is very popular. There is likely a power-dynamic issue in play with that type of pornography, but the incest taboo is certainly being flirted with regularly in today's society. (Side note: I don't think that what we search for in porn is really reflective of what we want in life, it is a quick fantasy that we get to live out in a healthy way.... just like video games or movies, it would be cool to live in a D&D Skyrim world for a couple of hours but it isn't really what any of us would want out of our life).

Anyway, so whoever asked this shouldn't feel embarrassed or anything. It is important to question all taboos and social norms in order to determine what has value in today's world and what is a tradition based on power-dynamics or may have made sense in a pre-industrial, pre-information world.

Like most things, I think there are three different arenas that we can evaluate practices like this in. There is the legal arena, the social arena (which your question seems to focus on), and the personal arena. The legal question is easy for me, incest between consenting adults should be legal. There is nothing to gain as a society by putting people in jail for this act. The personal arena is also easy for me, I have no interest in it and I find the whole thing kind of icky. The Westermarck effect is strong in me. But, that doesn't mean I care what other people do... there are lots of things people do that I find icky but I am not judging them for that. You like what you like.

So, how should the non-legal part of our society respond? I guess it should be socially-acceptable but in a kind of value-neutral way. I would lump it in with any other relationship that involves consenting adults. Incest does not directly harm anyone else and the risks associated with it are much lower than people like to claim (and I imagine most people don't really want the government or society trying to prevent certain sexual partnerships based on the risk to offspring... or should we all start registering our genetics with the state and require permission before bumpin' and grindin'?)

This really is a question of whether we should support people who do things that we find gross but don't cause any harm. I think we should give a fairly neutral, passive support. Let people do what they want to do and we should only interfere if someone is being harmed or consent isn't involved. I think there is a greater risk for a power dynamic imbalance (particularly if the incest is parent and adult child) but the risk doesn't justify prohibition. Besides, if we don't provide at least neutral support then that only pushes the act underground and increases the chance of distorted power dynamics and abuse. If someone in a consensual incestuous relationship feels like they can't be honest about the relationship then they will lack support when/if they want to get out of it. The best way we can guard against abuse or power dynamics is to provide support for all consensual relationships. The ethical line we draw shouldn't be "incest vs non-incest" or "traditional vs kinky" or "monogamy vs polyamory", the clear ethical line should be "consent vs no consent".

 

"How should I go about talking to my partner about a non monogamous relationship? I don't want jealousy to be a part of our relationship. I'm attracted to other people, and think it's ok that he is too. I feel trapped in what society has told me a relationship should be."

Yep, society kind of sucks ass. We are rarely given healthy examples of a variety of relationship types, despite non-monogamous relationships being relatively common. It is perfectly natural to be attracted to, and even fall in love with, people other than your partner. It doesn't mean you love your partner less or that they are doing anything wrong, it just means that you are a human animal.

We are products of millions of years of evolution and part of that evolution pushes us towards non-monogamy. I don't think we are "naturally" monogamous or non-monogamous as a species. I think within our species individuals tend towards one end of the spectrum or the other based on genetics and social norms, but I think we are also capable of thriving in a variety of relationship styles. I think it is really awesome that you recognize that potential and want to explore it a bit.

So, how do you talk about it with your partner? I think that depends on your relationship styles but I would be prepared for many conversations and to start slowly. It may come as a shock to your partner that you want to explore non-monogamy and they may feel a little hurt at first, this is a natural response and you should give them space to address these feelings. They may not want to talk about it much in the beginning while they process the subject (or, maybe, they've thought about it too... I think most people have).

Before talking to them make sure you have an idea what type of non-monogamy you are looking for. There are an infinite number of ways to set things up but you should have a general idea. Some things to consider... do you want to date others solo or as a couple? Are you interested in new romantic partners (polyamory), new physical partners, or both? What are some babysteps you can start with to start to explore a little bit?

I think there are two basic ways to bring it up. The first is kind of indirect and is more of a philosophical approach. Something along the lines of "Hey, remember that movie we watched recently, 'The Overnight'? It was interesting that they were able to have a good relationship while being non-monogamous. What do you think about that?" And then respond to how they feel. If they say it is something that they think is viable or that they'd be open to exploring then you can agree and start the conversation about what that could look like.

A second way is a little more direct. You can sit down with your partner and let them know that you've been thinking about non-monogamy and are curious about exploring it with them. I would make sure and emphasize that this is something you want to do WITH them, not as a replacement for them. And be very aware of their feelings and reinforce that this isn't because they did anything wrong or lack something. It is a part of your identity that you'd like to explore and isn't a reflection of a weakness on their part.

Like I said before, this may take many, many conversations before both parties are comfortable with moving forward. You can't be in a rush to make this type of relationship change, but also be aware if you think your partner is trying to avoid the issue by kicking it down the road.

I hope this helps. If you are interested in discussing this more feel free to message me anonymously (see comments) or directly via Facebook, Snapchat, texting, etc. Also, check out "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino and "The Ethical Slut" by Janet Hardey and Dossie Easton for some great reading on practicing non-monogamy.

 

“Recently realized my 4 year relationship is more of a companionship. We enjoy each others company but the passion, sex, and butterflies are gone. Its been like that for about half the relationship, but recently had butterflies for another person and realized how much i want that again. Im scared of being single again, but want to get that feeling again. Any advice on how to work on the passion, letting it end on hopefully good terms or getting back into the dating scene? I believe in open communication and plan on having a conversation with my partner, but looking for advice/courage before i do that.”

It is completely natural for your feelings to change. That excitement we feel towards a new partner or, as polyamorous people call it, New Relationship Energy (NRE) fades with time and we begin to crave new excitement. That craving is normal and happens to all of us.

What you need to determine with your partner is how you plan on moving forward with your relationship. Hopefully, your partner also recognizes that the passion/sex/butterflies are gone and is open to rationally discussing things. There is no reason that your life should lack that passion and it is possible to attain that passion while still in a relationship with your partner (if that is what you want). Remember, there is no wrong way to have a relationship and romantic (or even platonic) companionship is legitimate.

So, you have some decisions to make. If you want to continue having a relationship with your partner then you need to figure out how to address your longing for passion. One option is to open up the relationship and allow for you each to date other people while staying together. That arrangement can take many forms from complete open polyamory to something more closed, it all depends on what you each want and are comfortable with.

If you decide that you want to rekindle the passion with your partner instead of pursuing NRE, then you and your partner need to work hard to renew the passion. Take vacations without each other, explore any kinks or fetishes or fantasies you have, schedule dates with each other outside the house… basically, try and introduce some variety into your lives. Sometimes it only takes something simple like a wig, an outfit, or a blindfold to spark some new arousal inside. Though, I think the best thing to do is recognize that you may never have that passion for your partner again (unless you break up for a couple years and then get back together). That just isn’t how our biology works, passion and love evolved to bring people together and not to keep them together. Companionship, not passion, keeps us together.

Letting go on good terms (if that is what you decide to do) takes some balance and work, but it is doable. In fact, I think it is how most adults should break up. It takes maturity to recognize when a relationship is no longer compatible long-term and breaking things off instead of grinding away at each other for years until you hate each other. The success of a relationship isn’t based on longevity. You can have a successful relationship that lasts 10 years, 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, or 1 afternoon. A successful relationship is one in which you grow and learn and experience the beauty of the world together, it is about quality and not quantity.

So, you may need to simply sit down and talk to each other and break things off. One (or both) of you may need some time without contact, respect that boundary and keep the door open to friendship. I am still friends with several of my former partners and those friendships continue to grow with time, even though a year or more passed without contact after the break up. Time will allow you to see the things you love about your new friend without being blinded by lust or jealousy.

Don’t look at getting back into the dating scene as frightening, or even necessary. Maybe spending a few years off of dating would be good for you. You can travel, learn, and fuck as a single person without romance or the chains that can come from a relationship. But, if you do want to seriously date then get online (I like OkCupid), join social groups via Meetup.com, and get active in your community by volunteering with local non-profits. Go on solo adventures and stay in hostels where you can meet people. Open your home up on Couchsurfing.com and allow adventurers to stay with you. Take this opportunity to explore and meet and get out of the comfort that comes with relationships. Being single is an opportunity for growth and a chance to meet someone that will help you grow. It is exciting to be single as an adult, most of our time is spent partnered up in adulthood (which is great, but there are benefits to being single too).

I hope you and your partner find something that works. But regardless of what decision you make I am confident that you will be wonderful. The pursuit of a life of passion, sex, and butterflies is never a life wasted.

 

"Do you think people ought to be politically active? My spouse and I practice 'try to be a good person, and treat everyone well, teach our kids to do the same'. But is it a moral imperative to be more active? Is it enough to believe that transphobia/homophobia/racism are bad, or do we need to DO something to not be complicit?"

You know, this is an interesting question that I really don't have a good answer for. I'm not sure if we have a moral duty to help anyone else or to improve the world. Our only real moral responsibility may be to simply not harm others, but even that isn't very cut and dry. The world is varying shades of grey where there are no universally good or bad actions.

That being said, I would encourage you to be more proactive in your community because I (selfishly) want to live in a better world. If you work towards improving your community it will add onto the ways that I work to improve my community. I don't know if that activity needs to be political though. If you live in a city where there is a major clash between racists and civil rights activists then it may be a powerful and important act to get involved. But if you live in a place where everyone basically is in agreement then your activism may be a waste of time and energy (unless signaling is your purpose). Basically, there is a big difference between putting up a Black Lives Matter or Immigrants Welcome sign, or a rainbow flag in North Carolina than in San Francisco. In San Francisco, you aren't really taking a stand and if you want to improve your community then you may want to find another method like volunteering at the Red Cross, a soup kitchen, or a needle exchange.

But, to be honest, I think the most important thing any of us can do is to be good people and be true to ourselves. Part of that involves calling out the people in our lives who make transphobic, homophobic, or racist statements. It is unlikely that I'll change anyone's mind by marching in the streets, but if I sit down with my family members and try to explain that my bisexuality doesn't make me a bad person then I might make a difference. Being open about who you are and what you believe is incredibly important. I think I first heard Dan Savage talk about this and support people coming out of the closet as the most powerful tool we have to make the world a better place... whether your closest is atheism, sexuality, kinkiness, or whatever. By being true to who you are and living a life of peace and love you make the world better... but yeah, it probably wouldn't hurt to volunteer or donate money to your local Planned Parenthood either.

 

"What podcasts are you listening to and why are you listening to them?"

I'm on a big Dungeons and Dragons kick and am listening to "The Adventure Zone", "Tabletop Champions", "Sneak Attack!" and "The Dungeon Master's Block". Not only are these great for D&D lovers, but they are really inspiring stories that can get my creative juices flowing.

I also listen to "My Brother, My Brother, and Me" which is a comedy advice podcast. I actually laugh out loud every time I listen to this podcast, sometimes when I'm in public but I don't give a fuck if people at Trader Joe's stare at me.

"The World Wanderers" is another one of my favorites (though, I'm a little behind on the episodes). I am always really impressed and motivated by the guests and the travels they have. It makes me want to be a better person and see the world.

That's it for now... I also listen to books on Audible pretty regularly and am currently listening to "Seven Years in Tibet"

 

"Maybe you have some perspective because you grew up Christian(I think)...I am an atheist and don't disclose this to many of my Christian friends as they historically tend to react by trying to prove me wrong and then slowly distancing themselves from the friendship. Friends of other faiths, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu that I have told really couldn't care less. My pet theory is that since those religions are seen already as 'other' they are less bothered by differences. Your thoughts? Thanks "

I was raised in an evangelical Christian non-denominational home and maybe I can provide a little insight. Christianity has a lot of variety within it, but I'm familiar with the type you are referring to. I used to be one of those people that tried to proselytize to every person I met, I was particularly obnoxious about it in high school.

So, I think it comes down to four interrelated things. First, the environment I grew up in taught a strong "us vs. them" mentality. Non-Christians (particularly atheists) were seen simultaneously as lost souls to be rescued at all costs and enemies not to be trusted. It was improper (and even a sin) to be friends with unbelievers, which means either only hanging out with specific Christians (Catholics weren't Christian in my upbringing) or converting people. In a new environment like college, the latter becomes the best option because your social network is probably disrupted and it is seen as a duty... which brings us to the second one.

Second, I was taught that it was our ultimate duty to convert as many people as possible. This is called "The Great Commission" and church services are kind of a place to brag about how moral you are through how many people are converted. Sunday service was a place to ask for prayer for people you met, introduce people you drug to church, etc. You gained standing in the church (and in heaven) by your efforts to change people's minds, especially atheists who are the most lost. Conversion becomes a moral imperative and a way to gain standing within the social network. Additionally, the act of "forgiveness" is held in high esteem, there are few people nobler within the church than those who started out as non-Christians and converted (this is how many Christians justify supporting terrible people for political office as long as they "ask for forgiveness"... the repentant sinner is held almost as high up as their deity)

Third, Christianity, in particular, claims an absolute monopoly on the truth. Not just spiritual truth, but a truth about history, science, etc. I was taught myths about how God helped Christopher Columbus find America and how Darwin renounced his thoughts on evolution in order to be a Christian. Atheists are a direct challenge to EVERYTHING Christians stand for. They are the ultimate enemy who must be converted or dehumanized to the point of absurdity. Just look at how atheists are cast in Christian films like "God is not Dead", atheists are being completely selfish, no redeeming qualities, unable to love, and suffering from a "god shaped hole"... they are seen as atheists because they hate god or something instead of recognizing atheists are generally happy, healthy, and loving people whose beliefs are based on significant reflection and intellectual inquiry.

Lastly, Christians are able to isolate themselves from other beliefs for most of their life. It really wasn't until I joined the army that I had any friends of different religious beliefs. In high school, I was able to surround myself with like-minded people, listen only to Christian rock music, read only Christian books, and watch only religious movies/tv. The Christian culture is large enough to create a bubble, a bubble that is usually encouraged by Christian parents because they don't want to expose their children to sinners. This makes it very difficult for some Christians to converse with others, their entire lives are about religion and they lack the social skills necessary to engage with others. If you spent 18 years (like I did) reading things like "The Left Behind" series and listening only to dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Carman, and Newsboys you'd have a very specific set of beliefs ingrained in you (just look up some music videos from those artists and you'll see what I mean).

So, it really comes down to many Christians having a moral imperative to convert as many people as possible... it is a numbers game, the more souls into to heaven the better and it is encouraged to ALWAYS be converting. With that moral necessity paired up with viewing unbelievers as lost or enemies, and generally a lack of interaction with other religions and you have a group of people who have trouble being friends with someone once they realize you will never believe what they believe. You are a lost cause because friendship is just a means to an end, and when that end (your soul) is no longer up for grabs it is better for them to move on to someone else.

As for the other religions you mentioned, I think you are right. When you are a minority religion you spend more time building bridges and accepting differences. Also, many religions are more focused on the shared culture and history than on conversion. Other religions, even the ones that claim a monopoly on truth, take a more passive approach to spreading their faith, they are open to discussing it but it isn't their duty to proactively convert as many people as possible. At least that's been my impression. Some religions (like Buddhism and paganism) are even comfortable with people being an atheist or claiming another religion as well, I even know a few Christian pagans.

 

"I recently told the person I'm in love with that I want a relationship. He told me that he loves me but doesn't want a relationship right now for personal reasons that he explained to me. He told me not to take it personally. I feel like this is pretty personal. We still spend a lot of time together. And sometimes I feel really stupid for still giving this person my energy and love."

Don't feel stupid. But you should ask yourself honestly if you believe that they are telling you the full truth or not. If you think they are, then it is probably worth hanging around to see what happens. If you trust them, then TRUST them. My partner and I banged at a party, didn't really talk for a few months, "dated" for a while, and then finally became a couple a year after we met. And that was mostly because I wasn't in a position to be in a committed relationship. She was willing to be patient and wait, and it seemed to work out okay.

But, if you think they are stringing you along then it is time to dump their asses. Unreciprocated love can be a great motivation for poetry and rom-coms, but if you really feel like they are just telling you what you want to hear in order to maintain a friendship or fuckbuddy situation then you are better off ripping off the band-aid and moving on. Or, if you're capable, realize that long-term romance isn't in the cards and use them for their bodies like they might be using you. Or try to be just friends, but that is usually pretty tough. People can be "just friends" but usually one side wants to get naked with the other person at some point... just something to be aware of.

 

"What if penises also produced lubrication? How would that change sex in general and culturally? Maybe someone can write a sci-fi book about it."

First, I support everyone writing a sci-fi book about everything. Go for it. The world needs more literature.

Second, the penis does produce lubrication. Pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) acts as a lubricant for sex. It isn't the primary lubricant (generally) but it does help.

So, let's assume that the penis provided the sole lubricant for sex. How would that change things? I think it would make rape more common in nature. Vaginal lubrication makes sex easier and more comfortable and is more common when the vagina-owner is fertile. Removing that barrier from those with vaginas would probably make society a worse place and place even more power in penis-owners. Lubrication can act as a way to balance out sex.

I haven't given this much thought though... It is an interesting thought experiment, kind of like wondering what our cultures would be like if sperm was only viable for a few days out of the month.

 

“What do you think motivates you Peter? Is it lifestyle? is it learning? Is it work? What drives you through your path in life?”

Oh man, what a good question. I don’t think there is a universal answer to it. I’d love to claim that I am usually motivated by some higher ideals but the truth is that I struggle with that. Most days, my motivation is to not die… I work because I need to keep that lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy taken care of.

I want to be driven by creation or exploration or whatever, but each day is a struggle to prioritize those things. I’m constantly trying to implement systems that will incentivize those things because I lack the motivation or self-control to do them on my own.

When the right systems are in place and when I’m operating at my best I am driven primarily by variety. Learning new things, feeling new sensations, seeing new places, conquering new obstacles. I think we humans are capable of unimaginable things and much more durable than we realize and I want to explore all the potential I have inside. These same bodies we have today were crossing continents on foot, building boats by hand out of local trees and sailing across seas, and discovering mathematical truths, and we kind of betray our potential when we spend our time sitting at a desk.

One of the “AHA!” moments of my first bike ride was that survival is easy in the modern world. I (and you) can travel the world with little more than a tent and be just fine. Water and electricity are basically free, and even food is easily accessible in most places. It is so often that fear of the unknown stops progress, but the unknown inspires me and motivates me. Part of me is sad that there are not any real frontiers to explore like there used to be, I wish I could join Lewis and Clark or Darwin or Magellan or Gagarin or Armstrong or Norgay and Hillary, but those explorations have passed (for now). I know that I may live to be an explorer throughout space or under the sea, and until then I can explore the frontiers of my own mind and body. I won’t be the first person to climb a mountain or raft a river or run a marathon, but there will be a first time that I do it, that my individual body and mind and culmination of experiences accomplishes so many things. And that is pretty exciting.

So yeah, I am motivated by the new. New is why I am always studying new things, I have a non-monogamous pansexual kinky lifestyle, want to travel and learn and grow.

 

“First off, I just want to say like many others I'm very inspired by you. Thanks for using social media in the best way possible. I've been vegan for almost 8 years now, and one of the things I struggled with was the contradiction between being a vegan for the welfare of animals and consuming drugs despite the very real harm the war on drugs causes to people around the world. I've since stopped illegal drug consumption, not because I think it's immoral implicitly, but because I think that because of the way the system is currently, I would feel complicit in some of the violence that permeates the entire industry. How did you reconcile those two lifestyle decisions?”

Aww, thank you! I sometimes feel like I’m using social media in the “wrong” way, it is nice to hear that some people are cool with it.

I think you’ve brought up something that everyone with an ethical code needs to think about. I’ll be the first to admit that the most honest answer is that I haven’t been able to perfectly reconcile my lifestyle choices. It isn’t only drugs that cause very real harm around the world, much of the way goods are produced on the legal market are incredibly immoral. Just look at the popularity of diamonds, here is a stone that is common because of a marketing campaign that is sold at inflated by a monopoly that gains its products off of basically slave labor. Every diamond ring out there was purchased to directly support slavery and line the pockets of the 1%. There are also serious ethical issues with the way some cocoa, tennis shoes, and probably tons of other products.

I think the best option for me is to do the best I can to minimize that harm. When I learn that a luxury good is causing serious harm I need to evaluate my place in that market. The most important question is whether my consumption of the good causes harm. In some cases (such as sweatshops) it is possible that boycotting the product will actually make things worse because removing the market will make the situation worse for workers. In other cases (such as diamonds) removing my support only takes money out of the hands of tyrants, as much as I wish I could improve the situation of the workers my decision to purchase or not purchase the good will have no effect.

Now, when it comes to drugs I think two things are important: the source of the harm and the specific production of the specific drug. The primary source of harm from most drugs is prohibition and those harms are not really affected by one person’s purchase. One of the best ways to defeat prohibition is to advocate for legalization and I think it is powerful to advocate through example, primarily by being open about your drug use and showing that it can be done responsibly.

When it comes to specific drugs I think the production line can vary considerably. One of my problems with cocaine is that manufacturing it is usually very unethical because of the treatment of the laborers. This may be resolved through legalization though, as with the case of diamonds if production stays in the hands of a few cartels that sell legally to the US then the poor working conditions may remain. This is part of the reason why I don’t use cocaine. My primary drug is MDMA and by purchasing online I remove the violence from drug-dealers and have a better idea of the source (usually a chemist in Belgium), which I think removes some of the ethical problems.

I am far from perfect and many of my actions are not ideal, but I think that is true for every ethical standard. We do the best we can to minimize harm. I even realize that being vegan does not necessarily minimize harm, but I am doing my best given the knowledge I have and the world I live in.

 

"Hey Peter! A week or so ago you posted a status about what you do for a living. As someone who is both a writer and investor and looking to expand passive revenue streams, can you a) please elaborate more on your experience using Amazon publishing as well as your approach in writing a whole book and b) please share more about the crypto company in Iceland you mentioned. If you prefer to not discuss either openly, just say so and I'll PM you instead. Thanks!"

Hey, Anonymous Friend! I don't mind discussing this openly at all.... though, this makes me wonder if there is any question/comment out there that I wouldn't respond to. The only thing that I can think of is something that would affect my partner* and her privacy, but my life is as open as it gets. Some people probably think it is too open.., oh well, when your my Facebook friend you might accidentally find out details about my favorite drug (MDMA... duh) or my favorite sex position (doggy for finishing) or the person I most want to have a threesome with (Kesha... duh again). Oh well, that just comes with the territory I guess. Y'all can always unfollow me.

Anyway, I have strayed WAY off your question (damn whiskey).

A) Amazon publishing was a great way for me to really get comfortable with the writing and publishing process. It probably isn't the best way to make money because you are a tiny fish in a gigantic ocean. Without professional publishers acting as a quality gatekeeper, it is difficult to get noticed. There is nobody that officially checks grammar and formatting and such, it is beautiful anarchy where becoming dominant is difficult. But, they make it super simple for you. I would highly recommend hiring a copy-editor to help out. I wish I would have done that for my book.

As for my approach to writing. The format of my book kind of made it easy because it was a memoir of sorts. I was able to set a schedule for myself to write a certain amount each morning after exercising but before anything else. I haven't had much luck recreating that yet as I try to write more, but back then I set a schedule that I wanted to finish my book in 30 days and then wrote every single day. If you haven't read "On Writing" by Stephen King then I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It is a phenomenal resource for artists of all sorts, but particularly wordsmiths. Also, "The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield is really motivating. I guess that is another part of my process, I try to immerse myself in the art by constantly reading books about writing or creation. When I'm in the middle of a book about writing I feel guilty when I am slacking, like Stephen King is staring at me and shaking his head in disappointment.

B) The Iceland company is called Genesis-Mining. The way it works is you provide an upfront investment and from that day on you receive a portion of what they mine each day. The amount you get is determined by the mining difficulty... I don't really understand when or how difficulty will go up, but right now it is a pretty solid investment. I invested $2,500 up front and I make about .0045 BTC per day (which is around $20). So after about 4 months, I made my money back and the rest is profit. Basically, if the value of Bitcoin never increases in value then I will have ~$7,000 passive income coming in each year, not a ton but also not bad. But, if the value of Bitcoin keeps increasing and I never cash out then I will end up even further ahead. Last I checked Genesis was actually sold out of BTC rigs (but you can do some Ethereum and Monero mining) but they may have more available in October. To be honest, I wish I would have doubled my investment and when more mining rigs are available I plan on investing more.

I hope that answered your questions, if you (or anyone) would like more details about this, or anything in the world, please send me a Sarahah message (see comments) or a Facebook message.

*Quick shout out to my awesome partner who puts up with this shit. I bet when we had our one-night stand she didn't think it would evolve into a relationship with someone who lets his freak-flag fly about non-monogamy, sexuality, anarchy, atheism, etc. She is the real hero of my story.

 

"First, I'd like to say that I really enjoy following you on Facebook. You are an inspiration. Your travels helped motivate me to work towards my goals. Currently, my partner and I spend a lot of time travelling in a van around the world. We love our long, unconventional vacations but it has created some problems when it comes to sex. Namely, we are often seeping in very public places like Wal-Mart or truck stops. The windows of our van are blacked out but it is an old vehicle that isn't soundproof and rocks/bounces when people move around inside of it. Basically, when we have sex it is very obvious to anyone in the area and that makes me pretty uncomfortable and don't enjoy myself because I"m focused on what other people are hearing/seeing (except when I have a few drinks in me). Do you have any advice on how I can become more comfortable or deal with this?"

First, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm really glad that my travels and posts have encouraged you to pursue your own dreams. It really helps reassure me in moments of doubt when I can read messages like this and see that all the struggles and problems that come from an unconventional life are worth it to other people.

Your message brings to mind a conundrum that I always experience when thinking about public sex, whether it is a necessity like in your case or people who are exhibitionsists. Public sex requires that there is another party (or at least another potential party) present that may not consent to being a part of your sex act, and I consider hearing/seeing sex in a place where a reasonable person wouldn't expect to encounter it does force them to be part of the act. But, on the other hand, I think we are WAY too prude about sex and the whole world would be a better place if we viewed it in the same way we view other biological acts like eating. People seeing their friends and unpaid strangers having sex (as opposed to actors) could really remove a lot of the self-esteem issues many of us have about our bodies and sexuality in general.

So, on one hand I want to give you advice that encourages you to not take it seriously because it is just sex. But on the other hand I think you are in the right when you want to make sure you aren't overheard. I'm sure it is no surprise that my partner and I faced a similar issue when we were cycling across the country, though we didn't have literal "when this van's a-rockin..." situation. In general when we wanted to have sex we just did the best we could to minimize what other people could hear or see by playing music (if we were in a relatively public place) or setting up our tent out of sight. Or, occasionally, we would find a super cheap hotel and have a lot of sex for two days or so... not really ideal, but we were also too tired for sex most days from all the work.

I guess I don't really have great advice other than trying to approach it from both angles. Do all you can to have sex in the back corners of parking lots and/or late at night or try to only have sex when you are couchsurfing or in a hotel (the feasibility of that depends a lot on your sex drives), or maybe spend more time on acts that don't involve so much physical activity like handjobs or oral. Also, try to relax about it through weed, booze, or logic. In the end, it probably doesn't matter much if someone notices a van bouncing in the corner of the parking lot. Most people have sex (and a kinky side) and they many may get a thrill out of being an accidental voyeur. Hell, some of the best sex I've had started because my partner at the time and I woke up to the sound of some lovin'. (Side note: one of the theories for why female copulatory vocalization evolved in humans is that we evolved to thrive in a more public sex life, the loud female arouses men and attracts them to the place where sex is happening and it also quickens the current partner to the point of ejaculation).

 

"How do you and your partner deal with jealousy (if there is any) with an open relationship? I feel strongly that a non-monogamous relationship is what's right for me. And I want to talk about and explore this with my partner. I'm not so much worried about my partner being jealousy, I'm more worried about myself. Any advice for me to work through my jealousy issues before? I would like to discuss non-monogamy with my partner, but not until I've worked out why I can get so jealous sometimes. You give great advice, btw!"

Thanks! I try my best 

Ahh, jealousy. It certainly does exist in most non-monogamous relationships and I have a lot of experience with it. In fact, I used to be incredibly jealous in relationships, even to the point of being possessive. I grew up with unhealthy models of love where jealousy was considered a good thing because it was a sign of true love, if someone wasn't jealous then it mean they didn't care. I realize that is complete bullshit now, but the process to overcome jealousy has been a long one that is still going on. But, I think you can get to the point of exploring non-monogamy without completely overcoming jealousy, you even pointed out one of the major keys, identifying "why" you get jealous.

But first, there are two things that I think have really helped me overcome jealousy in the long-term. The first, is mindfulness meditation. Taking a few minutes every day to meditate and really take an inventory of my feelings has helped me address all my negative emotions like fear, anger, and even jealousy. I use the "Headspace" app, but there are plenty of free guided meditation videos and dozens of books on the subject.

The second method I've used is studying stoic philosophy. A primary attribute of the philosophy is recognizing what you can and cannot change, and only dedicating energy, emotions, and thoughts to those things that you can change. The book "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine is a wonderful introduction to the philosophy and discusses many practical exercises that you can do to help train your mind.

Okay, on to actual jealousy in a non-monogamous relationship. The most important thing is to try and understand why you feel jealous. For me, it usually comes from a couple of different potential sources. Sometimes the jealousy is actual a mask for fear, fear that I am being put at some physical risk (STI, etc) or fear that who I am with will find the other person more appealing long term and they will choose them over me. Another source of jealousy for me comes when I feel like my present needs aren't being met, if I'm not sexually satisfied or receiving attention then I can get jealous if a past partner was prioritizing someone else.

Fear of sti's is the easiest to fix. Rules about barriers and such can quickly resolve these.

The second fear is primarily a fear of the unknown. When partners first start discussing non-monogamy it is common to have in mind someone that your partner may end up with. That person is usually better looking, in better shape, has a better job, better size/shaped genitals, a better lover, etc. Our imagination quickly moves to create an unrealistic person. In my experience, the only way to really overcome this is to move slowly into non-monogamy by first deciding if this is about new romantic partners, new sexual partners, or both, and then establish a first baby-step that you are comfortable with. If it is sex you are looking into expanding you can have rules that nothing beyond making out until you've met their new partner or play only happens when the two are you are together. If it is romance you are interested in you can have a "One date and kissing only" rule until you meet the person or you can have a join OKCupid account and make joint decisions about who you can date (including veto power). The key is to destroy the fictional person you've created in your mind and meet the real person who is filled with flaws (as we all are). Another option is to limit your dating pool to people you both know already as friends (but that might not be realistic).

The final jealousy issue can only be resolved by sitting down and discussing what you feel like you are missing in your relationship. Both partners will need to discuss and recommit to each other often, as well as be given the opportunity to prove through their actions what they mean. It is important to remember that you are each other's priority and that a non-monogamous relationship can't work without you both being involved.

Really, I think it comes down to lots of conversations (before, during, and after any new experience), moving very slowly, and doing things as a team whenever possible. Go to sex clubs (most cities have one and they are usually very, very respectful and safe), go to festivals where non-monogamy isn't unheard of, get on OkCupid together or, if possible, talk with friends you know who you are both attracted to and think or know that they are not strictly monogamous... with friends you can move slowly and you will know your boundaries will be respected because you are all completely invested in all the people involved.

 

"Hi Peter and I guess a good morning to you! Are there any people you know in your somewhat daily life right now that you would consider a 3 way with? If so you should tell them or at least hang out with them some more!"

Hmm, this is kind of a complicated question. I don't really have a lot of people in my daily life. Working from home in a new city kind of limits my social network. I'm working on this but meeting people is difficult. I do know a few people in town but they have their own lives and social networks and, to be honest, I feel like I'm bugging them when I try to hang out more. I realize this may be mostly in my head but I hate feeling like I'm a burden to people. Also, most my daily interactions are online which makes hooking up kind of difficult (though, you can have a lot of fun with Skype). I think you're right though, I should hang out with people more.

To answer your question though, yes, there are people I know and am in regular contact with online and in real life that I would consider having a three-way with. But, doing something like that is more complicated than simply considering it, or even having an interest in it. My partner is just as involved and she would need to be pretty enthusiastic about it and historically it is rare that we are both on the same page about a person or couple. It really would just depend on the situation and the person and the intoxicants in our system. Nothing happens without action though, and we gotta get in more situations if we want potential situations to evolve.

Now, as for telling someone outright... that is probably not going to happen. This may be wrongheaded of me (and please tell me if it is) but I feel like I've done what I can that won't damage friendships. I've raised my freak-flag and let it known that I am not judgmental and that I'm always interested in discussing potential new experiences. I feel like it is up to any friends of mine to approach me and Anna, not the other way around. There are some situational exceptions. For example, if I'm rolling I might send off a text to people I think are awesome to ask if they are in a monogamous and/or closed relationship or if we are all hanging out and that sweet, sweet sexual tension is hanging in the air I might be comfortable inquiring about making out and seeing where things go.

So, there you go. If you wanna hang out more, let me know. I can't guarantee that things will get physical, but the status quo guarantees that things never will.

 

"The fact you openly share your experiences has made me a less judgmental and more tolerant and curious individual regarding sex, drugs, feelings, and other very important parts of life. Thank you for this! I like myself better as a person now."

Yay!!!! That makes me so happy. I'm glad that my life has opened you up a bit. I know there are people in my life who did the same for me. I would be a very different person if I hadn't met great examples of living freely and being true to themselves.I hope you explore some of your curiosities, it is better to try something and realize that it isn't for you than to spend your life wondering "what if".

 

"1. You inspire me continually to be a better person than I was the day before. 
2. You have served as an amazing example for me to tell people about when they're scared to be fully themselves, kinks and all. 
3. Stocky and hairy is hot."

1. You're too kind  I'm really glad I've had a positive influence
2. We are all freaks, which means none of us are (See "Perv" by Jesse Bering or "Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head" by Brett Kahr). We are all a little kinky, we all have something a little weird that makes us the beautiful amazing people that we are. These abnormalities are what shape us into unique individuals, embrace your freaky side and share it with those who won't judge you - or someday stand tall and tell the world what makes you who you are so that you can inspire and strengthen others.
3. Apparently, it is more than I thought... several people have confirmed this.

 

"Why are you no longer friends with the other Anna?"

So, a little backstory. In 2013, my partner's college friend, Hans (her real name is Anna but Hans was a nickname and we stuck with that because it made communication easier), moved in with us in LA. She lived with us for a few months and we invited her to join us on our upcoming cross-country bicycle ride. The original plan was for my partner and I to provide income (Anna had an online job and I had savings), I would take care of routing logistics, and Hans would assist with some of the logistics like grocery shopping, laundry, and other necessities. We had a budget and time-line for the bike ride established that seemed to work well for everyone.

Well, as the ride went on we started to have some compatibility problems. As you can probably imagine, spending months living in a tent together and traveling in a high stress situation can put a lot of strain on relationships. It became increasingly obvious that our current lifestyle was not a good fit for her. Also, our original plans ended up being way off. We were spending more money than we planned and moving much more slowly, this financial and logistical straing made it impossible for us to maintain the status quo.

When we stopped in Missoula for the winter things came to a head. Hans did not want to stop but we didn't have the time or resources to get through the mountains safely. The best option was to bunker down for a few months, work to restore some of our savings, and re-evaluate our plans. Living together during this time increased a lot of the personality conflicts and left Anna and I feeling like we were taken advantage of. (There are a lot of personal examples I could go into but I really don't want to do that right now.)

Despite the problems we had while living together, Anna and I tried to find a way to make it work with Hans to continue the ride. One of the major points of contention was money, we realized that Anna and I couldn't continue to provide the funds for three people and a dog, and that the work Hans was doing didn't really carry equal weight. One option we presented was to keep paying for everything but Hans agreed to pay back 1/3 of the expenses in the future (basically, a loan). We also presented other options in order to reduce the cost of the trip (fewer breweries, etc.). But none of these options appealed to Hans. She very clearly said that she wanted to continue on the bike ride only if it didn't cost her anything.

She moved out shortly after the conversation about continuing the bike ride and she decided to stay in Missoula. If things would have ended there then we would probably still be on friendly terms, unfortunately they didn't. Hans refused to pay her share of the funds necessary to repair damage to the apartment that she caused and left us with the responsibility to cover much of her rent. I don't wish her any ill-will but it is unlikely that we will be friends again in the future. It may sound cold, but it isn't a huge loss to me because I didn't know her that well to begin with. I think she hurt Anna much more than she hurt me because they knew each other for so many years.

 

"Do you think there is a level of love between platonic and romantic? I'm in a FWB situation and I know I'm far from IN love with him but I also kinda love and care about him as a little more than a friend."

Absolutely. I think love is a spectrum with infinite degrees. It might be convenient to classify love into certain categories but reality is much more variable. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try to isolate love into categories or limit the ways in which we express love. Each relationship we have can be unique and special and involve a beautiful mixture of love, like, compatibility, attraction, etc. I love my best friends, but I'm not necessarily in love with them. In some ways, I love all people. I am in love with my partner, but I also feel a strong love for close friends. It is a shame that our language is so weak at expressing our emotions, but I think you should explore that beautiful grey area between platonic and romantic. Have fun with it, FWB relationships an be a great opportunity to experiment with your heart and your body.

 

"If your partner were doing something that was a huge turn-off, how would you approach them to discuss?"

Hmm, without knowing the details I'll need to be a little broad in my answer but I'll try to play through several scenarios.

First and foremost, communication is key. Cliche, I know, but there is a lot of truth to that old saying. I hope at this point you know your partner's communication style when it comes to serious conversations. Some people prefer email, some prefer scheduled conversations, and some want to discuss things immediately. It is important that you and your partner understand what will work best for each person and take that into consideration when approaching any subject. If you don't know how your partner likes to communicate then this is a great opportunity to find out. A simple, "Hey, I have an issue I'd like to discuss with you soon. Do you have a way you'd prefer we talk about it? I'm open to emailing, in person right now, or scheduling a time later."

When you discuss it I think it is incredibly important to make sure your partner realizes that this isn't an extinction level issue (or, if it is, that is a different conversation entirely) and I would not discuss this right before, during, or after sex.

The range of things that can be a turn-off can be huge but I think the action can fall into one of two of categories: either the action is necessary for their sexual satisfaction or it is unnecessary (I recognize that sexual satisfaction is a range and not binary, but for simplicity sake I'm just discussing the extremes).

If it is unnecessary for sexual satisfaction then it should be an easy fix. It might be something they are aware they do and they do it because they like it but it is not a big deal, or maybe they think you like it, or maybe they don't realize they are doing it. Sitting down and just simply asking them, "Hey, I noticed you always scream my name during sex, is there a reason you do that?" can get the conversation going. Then, depending on the reason they give you can try to find a solution. Definitely make sure you own your feelings and tell them that it takes you out of the moment or isn't something you enjoy, that way they can either stop doing it completely or you can find a compromise where they only do it during certain situations (like when you are not close to orgasming anyway). *Communication note: it is usually best to discuss how you feel and not accuse the other person. So, instead of "you bother me when you leave the door open" you say "I am bothered when the door is left open"

If is something they want or need for sexual satisfaction then it gets more complicated. Neither one of you should have to sacrifice your sexual satisfaction for another person. If something they absolutely need is something that disgusts you then you may need to explore alternatives to your current relationship. Usually, a compromise of sorts can be made. Maybe it is something they really enjoy but would be satisfied with only doing it once a week or month or year, and you are willing and able to do that for them because you want them to be sexually happy. While I believe sexual satisfaction is necessary for a relationship, that doesn't mean that each sexual act needs to be perfect for each partner. Sometimes we do things for our partners that they prefer that we aren't into, but we know that they are willing to do the same for us.

It all requires open communication though. You should be able to tell your partner that something isn't really erotic for you without it destroying the relationship. There should be enough comfort to talk about it rationally and safely. An imperfect sexual compatibility is normal, most people are in relationships where frequency, variety, positions, kinks, fetishes, etcetera do not match up exactly. We all do things that are "meh" to us because they are "FUCK YEAH, I'M CUMMING!!!!" to our partners. And who knows, maybe when you start this conversation they will tell you that there is something that is a huge turn-off to them and you'll be able to find a way to both get off more frequently and with a clean conscience because all your cards are on the table.

 

"I have written a few opinion questions to you and I appreciate the feedback. It is typically a perspective I don't get/things I am too nervous to ask people non-anonymously. So thank you! My current conundrum involves an old friendship that petered out over time. We were very close for many years but geographic distance and new friendships happened. There was just a gradual fade. I very much miss this friendship and I doubt it can be rekindled, any more than the few emails we exchange every year with general life updates. But it feels like a break-up that was never resolved/discussed, and I want to tell this person I love and miss them and am bummed we can't be close. But I could have totally misjudged and maybe it wasn't an important friendship to them, and dredging things up is a bad idea. Your thoughts?"

I think what you're experiencing is very common. Changes in geography and lifestyle can break up even very close friendships. When I look back at different time periods in my life (church, military, college, DC, etc) I'm surprised at which people I am still close with because they aren't necessarily the ones that I was particularly close with at the time. The ability to be a good friend while living close involves different skills than being a close friend while living far away. Eventually, the person we hung out with every weekend becomes the person we text once every six months and end up just talking about the weather because our lives are very different.

It sucks, it is natural, but I think you can fight it and overcome it. We live in the most interconnected world in human history and if you miss your friend then you should tell them. I don't see a problem with saying it similar to the way you said it here. Give them a call (or text, email, etc) and tell them that you love them, you miss them, and that you'd like to prioritize staying close. Hopefully, they will reciprocate. If they want to stay close then I would encourage you to plan something concrete... schedule a destination weekend together or a Skype and beer date on Saturday. Find ways to schedule each other into your lives. It is so easy to get busy and then years go by and you never went camping together or your plans to spend a week in Europe together disappear into the past, you need to be proactive and schedule things now. The timing is never perfect to maintain a friendship.

The worst case scenario, they don't want to stay in touch. That wouldn't necessarily make them a bad person, but it would suck... but at least you would have some closure. You would know that your lives have drifted too far apart and instead of forcing a friendship that isn't going to work you can sit back and view your friendship fondly for what it was. Not every friend or relative or partner enters our lives and stay until death, but that's good because that allows us to have the time and energy necessary to make more friends that better reflect who we are in the moment.

So, I say reach out to them and see what happens. You might get your old friendship back or you might shift your friendship into something new or you might get some closure. Regardless, the best way to resolve this issue is to open the door and talk with them.

 

"1. I love you. Although we have never met in person, I feel like you're a great old friend who I can, and do, reach out to for advice. You're amazing.
2. You have inspired many conversations between myself and my partner, one of which was being open to dating or seeing others while understanding that we love each other and want to be with each other unconditionally. I can't explain it but I have this terrible guilt when I have a male crush compared to a female crush. Any recommendations on getting past that?
3. I have a crush, male, and am not sure how to proceed, if at all. He's a new friend. How would you present being in an open relationship to someone you're potentially interested in?"

1. Thank you! I love you too. I'm really glad I can help out a little bit and I hope we get to meet again someday.

2. Guilt because of your attraction to someone other than your partner is a common thing, and it is really unfortunate. Feeling attracted to other people is natural and doesn't harm anyone, you shouldn't feel any guilt about it but I realize society tells you that you should. I'm not sure what your gender is but it seems like the guilt could be coming from one of two places: either you are male and have some internalized homophobia that is making you feel guilty or you are female and you primarily feel guilty because your attraction is to someone other than your partner.

If it is the first one then I can relate, bi-erasure among men is a very real thing and there is little social acceptance for male-male attraction. I think the only way to overcome this is to just keep talking with supportive people about it and explore how you feel. Actually, that's really my advice for either form of guilt... keep talking to your partner and anyone else who is supportive and take some steps to explore that attraction. Make sure you partner is informed of everything (or present if appropriate) to help provide you with the support that you aren't doing anything wrong.

3. Well, I am not very good at letting people know that I'm attracted to them. I hope that by being so open about who I am and the kind of relationship I'm in people will open up to me, I hate the idea that I might make someone uncomfortable by asking them out... but then again, I have yet to lose or damage a friendship when I've asked if they are nonmonogamous or bisexual. All my friends have politely answered and been open with me, so maybe the direct path is really the best one.

If it would surprise this new friend that you and your partner are exploring non-monogamy then you will probably need to approach it slowly. Ask them what their thoughts are on non-monogamous relationships or if they've ever had one to feel things out. People who are strictly monogamous are usually not shy about letting you know that non-monogamy won't work for them. Make sure that they don't feel like they were "tricked" onto a date or anything though. Basically, just talk to them. I don't think they will be offended (they will probably be honored), and if they are offended by the way you live your life then they aren't worth your time anyway.

 

"How did you become the man you are today? Can you offer a summary (or direct me to one that already exists)?"

Wow, what a complicated question. I think the best way to answer this is to break down my life into certain stages and experiences that I think had a large impact on my development. If you'd like more details on any of these stages let me know and I can expand upon them. Also, the book I wrote about my cross-country bike ride touches on some of this as well (http://amzn.to/2ifVLCK).

Upbringing: I am the oldest of six children and come from a very conservative, evangelical, Christian family. My family was pretty poor, I wasn't worried about not having a meal but there were times when our family of eight was crammed into a small apartment and we had periods of time on welfare. I got my first job at age 12 and from that point on I was responsible for my own finances. Toys, games, school supplies and such were all my responsibility. I even remember my parents telling me at one point when I was in middle school that they wouldn't be able to help me at all with buying a car or going to college. I was very conservative at the time with all the negative stuff that I now associate with it, I was against marriage equality, saw drugs as an evil scourge that justified draconian actions, etc. I also was "saving" myself for marriage to the point where I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day. I dated a couple of girls in high school but they were equally religious and the extent of our physical activity was cuddling. After graduating high school I went to community college for about half a semester but hated it, so I just dicked around for about a year while working at Papa Johns.

Military: When the Sept. 11 attack happened I committed to joining the military. It is something that I had been thinking about for a while but the attack solidified my decision. I actually saw the 9/11 attacks as a good thing because I thought it could unite the country, I felt we needed a common enemy in order to be a strong nation. I walked into a recruiter's office on the day of the attack and got the paperwork started. A couple of month's later I was shipped off to Fort Benning for basic training. Despite my high scores on the ASVAB, I decided to join the infantry. I had a desire to fight, and even one to kill. I spent four years in the Army with the 82nd Airborne division and deployed once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. It became very obvious early on that I wasn't going to stay in the military as a career and when my contract ended I left. During this time I had got engaged to (and had sex with) a girl named Leslie that I had met while in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her and I got a place together when I got out of the military.

Myrtle Beach: My first two years of college were with Horry-Georgetown Technical College in the Myrtle Beach area. Ever since leaving Iraq I had began to re-evaluate my political views. I felt betrayed by the Republican party for sending me to Iraq for no good reason. It was during this time that I also read "Freakanomics" which got me interested in Economics. I can't remember exactly how I came across libertarianism but it was during my community college days. This time was also one of a lot of emotional turmoil. I found out my fiance had been cheating on me for a while and we broke up. It was the most traumatic break-up of my life, mostly because I thought that we were destined to be together because we had sex. The next woman I dated, Amy, was deeply religious and I think I started dating her as a sort of repentance. I should have never dated her, we weren't a good fit and I was dating her for the wrong reasons. I was an asshole.

Charleston: After I got my associates degree I transferred down to College of Charleston. I quickly decided to major in Economics with a minor in Political Science. The classes were easy enough and I really felt involved in the community. I was in the Student Government (eventually being elected Vice President). I helped found Students for Concealed Carry. I had a weekly radio show called "The Pit: Punk Rawk and Politics". I was a founding father of the Lambda Chi chapter of Phi Gamma Delta and served as the Community Outreach Chair. And, most importantly, I started interning for Dr. Calcagno with the Initiative for Public Choice and Market Process. It was through this internship that I really started to love public choice economics and was introduced to anarcho-capitalism. My personal life also underwent some major changes. While dating Amy I realized that I could no onger consider myself Christian and I finally accepted that I had some same-sex attractions (and that there was nothing wrong with that). I decided not to date anyone exclusively for the remainder of my time in College (this break actually lasted close to five years) and, instead, practiced what I called "honest non-monogamy". It was basically a type of polyamory but I wasn't introduced to that phrase for a couple years. The most important partner I had in college was Nora, she was a grad student who had a huge impact on my intellectual development because she was the first progressive person that I really got to know and debate with.

Washington DC: Once I graduated college I accepted a position with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity through the Koch Associate Program. I quickly found myself to be one of the more vocal "radical" libertarians in the group who advocated for complete abolition of the state. I met Isaac Morehouse at this time and he ended up helping me get a job with Students For Liberty after KAP ended. My SFL days were some of the best and worst days of my life. I LOVED the organization and it was incredibly exciting to be part of something from the near beginning (I was the second person hired... well, Blayne was hired at the same time so we were tied for second). I was in charge of the new Campus Coordinator program that only had 27 people in it and I ran all the internal programs and measurements. I also got to help out with conferences all over the country. SFL was great, but DC was terrible. I hated the culture of that town and almost killed myself while I was there. Luckily, a stranger on Tumblr talked me down from putting a gun in my mouth. It was during this time that I decided to get help for the mental health issues that I'd been dealing with since leaving the military. I was also introduced to Burning Man and MDMA during these years.

Bike Ride and LA: I decided that three years in DC was enough so I quit my job at LA, got rid of everything I owned, and biked across the country to Los Angeles. It took me about 2 months of mostly solo riding but I arrived in LA with a very new perspective on my life. Probably most importantly, I realized I wasn't happy with living life a normal way. Unfortunately, I didn't listen to myself and jumped right into a traditional job. My time in LA was a lot of fun but that city was another rough one for me. I was broke all the time and felt smothered, but sometimes I miss it because I could find any adventure I wanted. Whether it was a drag king show at a BDSM dungeon that doubled as a porn studio or an all night rave in a warehouse, there was something for every part of my being. LA is also where I met my current partner and where I saw healthy non-monogamous relationships modeled for me. I saw people raise children while using drugs responsibly and having open sexual relationships, it was a brand new world to community to me that I felt very comfortable in. But, alas, LA wasn't for me.

Long Bike Ride: In 2014 I asked my partner if she wanted to spend a couple years bicycling around the country with me. She said yes, so we (along with a former friend) left on a bike ride with our newly adopted pupper. In total we went about 10,000 miles over 2.5 years (we stopped for one winter in Missoula and one winter in Dallas). We had a lot of adventures, met tons of people, and saw more of the country than most people ever will. During that time I was introduced to my current boss and he offered me a part-time job that evolved into my current position. I firmly believe that if I didn't take the risk to leave a place I wasn't comfortable I wouldn't be this happy, I would be in a city I didn't like, and working at a job for a fraction of my current wage. Eventually, we decided to stop the ride after only going through 24 states (we had planned on doing all lower 48) because we just weren't having fun anymore. So, we are in Wilmington looking for a house to buy and planning several new adventures in the coming years.

So, that's the short version of how I went from Christian, conservative, monogamous, straight-edge Oregonian to apatheist, left-libertarian, non-monogamous, drug using citizen of the world.

 

"I enjoy your honesty, ESPECIALLY when it challenges my beliefs and long held biases. You're a rad human and I hope our paths cross again!"

I hope our paths cross again too!!!! Well, probably. I guess there are two people that I really don't want to see again in this life, but it is pretty unlikely that you are one of those two people. I'm not Facebook friends with them and it would be pretty stalkerish if they contacted me.

I'm glad my honesty and openness are beneficial. I view it as paying it forward. I've had lots of people challenge my views and because of them my life has become much richer and I am much more comfortable in my viewpoints on life.

That being said, I am not really 100% sure of any of my views. I find reality and new conversations continue to refine and challenge them. I always, always, always love book, podcast, articles, or people who challenge my views and can have a rational, calm disagreements. I'm not sure what areas I've challenged you, but I know my long-held beliefs were ripped to shreds over the years. One of the greatest revelations in my life was that the way I was raised may not be what is best for me now and that my parents (and the overall society I grew up in) were wrong about things, despite their best intentions. To be honest, I think it is troubling if someone goes through life and ends up believing exactly the same things their parents do.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Hope to see you soon 

 

"I've heard you say that you and Anna keep your finances separate. How do you then handle filing taxes as a married couple? I'm getting married soon and we are trying to figure it out - do you all filed married separately or file jointly?"

Yep, we keep our finances completely separate. We have our own bank accounts, buy our own food, etc. When something requires one person pay out of convenience (ie internet bill) we add it to a shared google doc and if there is an imbalance at the end of the month we pay up.

Now, that may not always be the case for us. If one of us loses our job or goes back to school or needs time off for a career change or something, the other person will provide financial stability without an expectation of being "paid back". We also are comfortable placing non-monetary value on things to balance things like cleaning the house, sex, tending the garden, shopping, etc. We communicate openly and often about this stuff to make sure neither of us feels like things aren't fair.

But, the taxes question is easy. We file as single people because we didn't sign government paperwork for our marriage because fuck the government. We have explicit paperwork (Will, Power of Attorney, etc.) to give each other authority over medical decisions or deal with death issues, and we don't see a reason to have a marriage certificate.