But, what if it sucks?

I was recently SnapChatting with a friend and former colleague of mine when the subject of sex came up. The fact that the conversation went that direction is not really much of a surprise. She and I have a flirtatious history and many people (including us) thought that we would hook up at some point. But, alas, circumstances never really matched up for us bang but we remain good friends (and still occasionally sext).

As we discussed whether we would eventually hook up (I think it is likely) we talked about whether it would be good or not and, in particular, what would happen to our friendship if the sex was bad. I don’t think it would be bad… we are both friendly, generous, fun-loving people… but if it was bad I don’t think that would be a big deal. A bad sexual experience is something that we would just laugh about because our self-confidence isn’t based on something with so many unknown variables like a great sexual experience. A friendship that can’t handle bad sex or the awkwardness that comes from getting naked together isn’t a very strong friendship.

Besides, it probably wouldn’t be bad. Realistically, I don’t think it would be mind-blowingly great either. People (at least in my experience) are generally kind of awkward and weird the first time they hook up. There is an excitement in exploring a new body and new sensations, but there is also a lack of knowledge about what will pleasure the person. There is a learning curve that doesn’t exist with a regular partner. I think sex with my partner is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for a new experience (luckily, I don’t have to) but new experiences also bring variety and a fresh perspective.

The truth is, if/when she and I hook up it’ll probably be “pretty good”. Our minds tend to live in extremes, everything will be absolutely terrible or absolutely wonderful, but reality is kind of mediocre. We put special events like sex, weddings, and vacations on this pedestal that can’t help but be a bit of a letdown when our fantasies collide with reality. And we assume certain terrible things will destroy our lives, whether that be the death of a family member, losing your job, becoming paralyzed, etc. but we actually recover quickly if we allow ourselves too. That is part of why I have found so much strength in mindfulness meditation and the Stoic philosophy, they allow me to live in the moment and see reality for what it is, and to only worry about what is under my control.

But, maybe the sex would suck. Maybe it would be terrible. Maybe neither of us feel a lick of pleasure or joy or satisfaction. Instead, we fumble around uncomfortably and lose all sexual desire for each other. Well, that would be okay. She is a dear friend and I’m not keeping in touch with her as a sort of investment where I expect sex later. Nobody is a sexual Roth IRA that you plug time into monthly and expect to withdraw an orgasmic payoff down the road. If the sex is bad, we will laugh about it, drink a beer, and go about our lives with one less thing to be curious about. It is better to have a few bad experiences than spend your short life wondering “what if”.

Hey! I’m always looking for things to write about. Have you got a question or comment for me? Feel free to submit anonymously to my SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). No subject is off limits (just see some of my previous questions here to get a feel for what people ask about… it is mostly sex)

Black Rock City Lives

Earlier today on Facebook I posted my favorite Burning Man video (see the bottom of this post). Well, posting that was the catalyst for a friend of mine to send me a SnapChat asking what I thought about the current status of the greatest party on the planet (probably).

To be honest, I haven’t paid too much attention to the drama around Burning Man. Every year there are rumors about how Burning Man now sucks or it sold out or it jumped the shark, it is practically a cliche for those of us who love Black Rock City. But, as always

“rumors of Burning Man’s demise have been greatly exaggerated” – Abraham Lincoln (probably)

To believe Burning Man is not what it used to be is to misunderstand what Burning Man is. It is, first and foremost, an opportunity. It is an opportunity to explore who you are as an individual and as a member of society. It is an opportunity to cast of social norms to find your true passions and beliefs. It is an opportunity to be inspired and inspire others. Black Rock City is a city with ~75,000 who gather based on 10 Principles that unite us each to become the best that we are. Burning Man is what you make it, good and bad. It is the opportunity.

Yes, there will be people there that you don’t want to associate with. When I first attended Burning Man I was told that it sucks now because all the “weekend warriors” from the Nevada colleges ruined it with their partying. The partiers didn’t belong. After that, it was all the virgins showing up who didn’t know what they were doing. The virgins didn’t belong. Then it was all the “ravers” who cared only about the music and didn’t understand the true spirit of Buring Man. The ravers didn’t belong. Now, it is all the wealthy people in their pop-up camps ruining Burning Man. They don’t belong.

But, the truth is, all those groups* belong. We all show up to Black Rock City without a full understanding of what that desert really is. Every year it is a culture shock that snaps us out of our normal life and helps us radically transform our perspective… or, at least it should be. If you are someone who is going to long for “the good ole” days of Burning Man then you only have yourself to blame for your grouchiness and bad experience. Every person (college student, virgin, raver, rich person) is an opportunity to learn and make new connections with others and yourself. If someone doesn’t to “understand” Burning Man then the best course of action is to lead by example and not complain about the past. The past is dead, it doesn’t exist, it isn’t worth our time or energy thinking about.

Burning Man evolves each year. It is a temporary city that resets and rebuilds and adapts to the people involved, and every year is going to have different people. Everything is ephemeral, especially Black Rock City. Attempting to hold on to an ever changing world brings only suffering, and it is a self-imposed suffering.

So, yes, Burning Man is worth going to. It is always worth going to because it is an opportunity for personal growth and if you don’t grow from the experience then the person to blame is just a mirror away.

*Principle 1 of Burning Man: Radical Inclusion – Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Got a question or comment for me? Feel free to submit anonymoustly to my SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH) or shoot me a SnapChat (@pneiger) or Facebook message (www.facebook.com/pneiger) or I guess you can text me (910-470-9323). Oh, I guess there is Instagram too (@shifts_and_higgles)… damn, there are a lot of networks out there. 

Feedback (Part 7)

Alright, this is the last group of questions left in my SurveyMonkey inbox. I have had a wonderful time answering these questions. They have really helped me get back in the swing of writing and forced me to analyze my own views more deeply. I am keeping the survey open indefinitely, so if you have a question or comment for me about any issue please feel free to submit it anonymously at www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHHThank you again to everyone who submitted something and I hope to answer some more stuff soon.

1. Is there any sexual activity between consenting adults that you would never be open to trying?

Hmm, I would have to say no, but only because the word “never” is absolute. I am just not sure enough about my own desires and future to say that there is anything that is an absolute no for me. There are certainly some things that are unlikely at this point, but I can’t guarantee that there isn’t a person or circumstance that exists that would create a desire to do something I’m currently uncomfortable with. Also, what we are interested in changes with time. When I was younger I was all about porn based on babysitters and other scenarios based on a power imbalance, but as I grew older my tastes and desires changed as I became a feminist and more comfortable with my own sexuality.

For me, my willingness to engage in a sexual activity can roughly be quantified using a 0-5 ranking based on two categories: Mental and History

Mental is how interested I am in the activity. A “5” is an activity that is very mentally erotic to me and is likely a regular part of the movie theater of my mind during masturbation and sex. A “0” is something that is actively repulsive to me when I think about it.

History is how much I have enjoyed that activity in the past. A “5” means I really had a good time last time I did it and  “0” means it was a really bad experience. A bad experience doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t do something in the future, but I might enter into it with a bit more caution.

It kind of looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, in order for something to be completely off the table I need to be both mentally opposed to it and have a history of it being a bad experience. I’m willing to try anything at least once because our minds are kind of terrible at telling us how much we will actually like or dislike something. We mentally work in extremes and make unknowns seem super terrifying or super awesome when the reality is much more moderate.

When you finally have that awesome threesome that you dreamed of it ends up disappointing a bit because the people involved are humans with human bodies. It becomes awkward or funny or uncomfortable. There is queefing and giggling and difficulty getting condoms on and slipping off the bed. You see body hair and sweat and there are odors. Life isn’t a porn set.

Similarly, when you find out your partner has a crush on someone you imagine them to be a greek deity who is better than you in every way. They have perfect bodies and teeth, they make a ton of money and speak 12 languages, they are better at oral sex and have perfectly shaped genitalia. When you meet the person you find out they have “flaws” and insecurities and make mistakes because they are human too. Life isn’t a romantic comedy. Only in our minds are other people supernatural.

I realize that the author may have wanted something more specific and sex-act oriented, so here we go:

Red (will probably say no to if asked): anything involving feces or vomit
Yellow (will start but may want to stop): Basically anything new
Green (will say yes to enthusiastically): Standard vanilla stuff, group sex, erotic massages, tying up or blindfolding, watching porn, voyeurism and exhibitionism, sex outdoors

 

2. What is the least socially acceptable activity that you’ve engaged in?

Hmm, I don’t really know because I don’t have a good idea about what’s socially acceptable. My sex life also hasn’t been that extreme. I’d guess that having sex in the orgy dome surrounded by dozens of other couples is high on the “least socially acceptable” list. Also, my comfort with anal and prostate stimulation is probably a bit taboo. Are threesomes socially acceptable? I really don’t know… but those are the ones that come to mind.

 

3. Is there anything you thought you would not enjoy but did enjoy when you actually tried it?

I was very reluctant to get into any kind of BDSM, particularly as a Dom or Masochist, but I’ve actually really enjoyed those roles a bit. I haven’t explored it too much but it is something I’d like to do more. I think I have been afraid of exercising power, particularly over someone I care about, but I am realizing that it can be incredibly pleasurable for everyone involved within the proper scenarios. Tying someone up, blindfolding them, spanking them, and exercising a degree of control over their pleasure, pain, orgasms, and body can be erotic to me, and I no longer feel like I should be ashamed of that.

Feedback (Part 6)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH).

  1. I love backpacking but I hate having to save up longer than I get to use that money while exploring. How can I make money while traveling? How did you fund your bike adventure with your partner?

I am not an expert on the best ways to earn money while traveling but I can definitely share our experiences. First, though, I think bike touring (and maybe backpacking a well) can be incredibly cheap. If you’re able to end traditional bills like rent, car stuff, electricity, etc. then you can get your monthly expenses down to almost zero. While traveling you basically only need to meet the bottom layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: shelter, water, food, and electricity.

Shelter: If you don’t mind living in a tent then this can be cheap or free, even over long periods of time. Couchsurfing and WarmShowers are great websites to find free shelter for a night or three. They each have different pros and cons and different social norms associated with them, but they are valuable. Additionally, many fire stations and churches will let you set up on their land overnight if you contact them ahead of time. And, of course, you can just stealth camp. There is a ton of land that is easy to sneak onto and set up your tent for the night.

Water: Also free. Churches, schools, parks, libraries, fire stations, and even fast food restaurants often have free water available inside or hoses outside the building.

Food: If you carry your own food and avoid eating out then food can be cheap. It won’t be glamorous, but you can thrive off of peanut butter, jelly, hummus wraps, canned beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, if it doesn’t bother you, you can dumpster dive and find a ton of fine, free food around the country.

Electricity: Also free most of the time. You can plug in on the side of lots of buildings, in parks, and such.

Okay, on to your question about work. Between my partner and we have three different experiences.

My first bike tour I did not have any income or savings. I took my final paycheck at SFL and just hit the road. I utilized most of the tactics above to keep my expenses low, but I also had a few friends who helped me out when my bike broke.

On my tour with my partner, we ended up with two sources of income but started with only one. When we decided to go on the ride my partner basically told her employer that they could either keep her on part-time as a remote worker or she was going to quit. This is similar to the Tim Ferriss approach. As an employee, often the only leverage you have is threatening to quit (just like your only leverage over your parents is your presence in their life). If you aren’t willing to leave then they have all the power.

I, on the other hand, didn’t have income when we started. While my partner worked I helped take care of logistical stuff like route planning, contacting hosts, bike repairs, shopping, etc. Basically, we were able to specialize. After the first year or so my situation changed. I was given a job offer to work part-time for a firm that a friend of a friend ran. The only reason I was offered the job was because I was on the bike ride. I only needed to work part-time, which is what my employer needed at the time. Basically, by taking a risk, raising my freak flag, and living life as I desired things kind of fell into place.

Some people call this “luck”, but that’s too simplistic. I was in a situation to take advantage of an opportunity because of the decisions I made over a long period of time. I decided not to have kids, I ended a relationship with someone I loved because we weren’t long term compatible, I advertise my views on drugs/sex/etc, I gave up a secure career because I was unhappy in DC, I left a secure job in LA because I wanted to tour around the US, etc…. Luck only comes into your life if you put yourself out there and take risks.

Oh, I just remembered something else. My partner and I actually have a friend who has been traveling around the US for about a year now. She was able to find income by using WWOOF to find farming opportunities and looking for temporary gigs in the cities she stopped in. In fact, she found a job with a traveling circus while in Wilmington and made it a full-time gig and she is currently traveling around the US with them and having a blast.

 

2. I was hoping you could fill me in on what I need for a long distance bike ride. Like what a good bike is, the necessary equipment (I want to travel light), and any insights you might have.

Hmm, a lot depends on your budget and your overall plans. I don’t think you should let your budget stop you though. My first bike ride started on a $100 bike I bought at Target and I probably spent less than $200 on additional equipment. I bought a 1-person hiker/biker tent, a sleeping bag, a bike helmet, and the basic repair equipment. All the rest of my stuff (clothes, food, water bottles, yoga mat, etc) I already had and I just bungee corded to the bike.

That wreck only lasted about 2,000 miles and looked like this:

If you have more than $100 and want something that will probably last longer than half a country then I would recommend spending about $400-$500 on a decent hybrid bike. Any decent bike shop should be able to order you one. When my Target bike broke I bought a Trek 7.1 and used it all the way to the ocean, as a daily commuter around LA for almost two years, and then another couple thousand miles from LA to Montana. I loved this bike and I wouldn’t have upgraded if I was traveling light. In the end, all my equipment weighed about 200lbs and the Trek just wasn’t built for that.

I know you say you are traveling light, but if you decide you want to go heavy or you want a bike that will survive a nuclear apocalypse then you should get a Surly Long Haul Trucker. This is basically the golden standard of touring bikes, but it costs about $1,500 fully equipped. This is what my partner and I have now and we love it. In fact, it has probably saved us money at this point. After about 7,500 miles we have never had any major mechanical issues, just basic maintenance. The bike is a tank and a joy to ride… it isn’t fast, but it’ll get you where you’re going.

So, besides bikes what should you spend good money on? To be honest, there is only one more thing that I think is worth investing in high quality: tires. You are going to get flats, but if you can get high-quality equipment that minimizes flats then it is worth it. Every new tube costs around $7 and every flat can take ~30 minutes to repair (and time is valuable if the sun is setting and you don’t have a camping spot). I can’t recommend the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tires enough. They aren’t the cheapest tires but they will save a ton of time and money.

There are plenty of luxuries that you can get but here are the basics (and again, the cheap stuff will normally be good enough):

  • Bike
  • Upgraded
  • Spare tubes
  • Tools to change and fill tubes
  • Sleeping bag or blanket
  • Tent
  • Water bottles or camelback
  • Bike Lock
  • Bike Helmet
  • Bike lights (front and rear)
  • Bike computer to track mileage, speed, etc
  • Some way to navigate… maps or GoogleMaps on your phone
  • Extra battery system for phone (if necessary), I like the Jackery Giant

That’s about all you need. I hope you get out there and ride. Too much preparation or worry can sometimes prevent people from acting, it is better to step out into adventure unprepared than to sit at home for years waiting for the perfect moment. Perfection never arrives.

I hope that answered the questions, but if the author (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or would like me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey. Or if you have a completely unrelated question please send it my way.

Writing

 

I received my first check from Amazon today for the book I wrote and self-published and I have mixed feelings about it. This is the first time that I’ve been financially rewarded for my writing, so I guess that technically makes me a professional writer, but I feel like I kind of cheated. There is something about self-publishing that feels inauthentic to me, or maybe I am just having a hard time “going pro” (as Steven Pressfield would say).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like writing my book was easy, but we live in a world with fewer and fewer gatekeepers (which is a beautiful thing) and those gatekeepers serve(d) some good purposes. The open world of writing has created a lot of noise that can make it difficult to figure out what is actually good and it has removed a valuable feedback mechanism that improved the quality of specific works.

I feel like my book could have been better and some of that improvement would have come from a professional looking at it and giving me some feedback and praise. Maybe I shouldn’t care about receiving accolades from the old guardians, and maybe if I viewed myself as an actual writer (instead of just as someone who writes) I wouldn’t care as much.

I love writing. The rush that comes from typing a fury of words while wishing that your fingers could keep up with your mind is exhilarating. The power that comes from molding words and giving people a glimpse my mind is intoxicating. I even love the painful and beautiful struggle that comes each day when I’m staring at a blank screen, or the mental anguish that comes from not being able to find the write word to express how I feel, or the sadness and terror that comes from believing that I no longer have an original thought left. I love writing and I loathe writing. It is my enemy and my

I love writing and I loathe writing. It is my enemy and my sparring partner. It is my best friend and the bane of my existence. It is a new lover whose body I want to explore every waking minute and it is the old partner who has gone cold with time and neglect. So, maybe I am a writer and maybe I was a writer before my book was ever published. I just wish I could convince myself of that.

Post Script: A small housekeeping note. I’ve shut off comments on my blog because I was getting hundreds of spam messages each week and it was annoying me. If you have a comment or question you can send me a message to the SurveyMonkey form I set up or you can email me at pjneiger@gmail.com 

Feedback (Part 5)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

 

  1. One question I have is about your relationship, I know you two are poly, but does that mean you invite others to join you, or would you two be fine with sleeping with other people individually?

We don’t really identify as “poly” because to us that means that you are interested in emotional relationships (ie love, dating, etc.) with people outside of the partnership. We are emotionally monogamous but physically open. I don’t really know what the correct phrase for that is and we identify as “monogam-ish”. We have actually discussed what we would do if one of us fell in love with someone else though.

To answer your question, we are intellectually open to the idea of sleeping with other people individually but it hasn’t happened yet. Part of the reasons that we haven’t done that yet is logistical, we have been cycling around the country for the better part of the last three years and we haven’t really done much traveling or meeting people alone. It isn’t something we are pursuing, but we are open to the idea if someone asked us. We’ve made out with people and fooled around with people without each other, but it hasn’t reached the level of sex.

The other reason we haven’t done it is because we aren’t sure how we would feel. Being intellectually open to something doesn’t mean that we will be comfortable with it in the moment and a lot will probably depend on who is asking, who they want to sleep with, and other specifics that make it impossible to come up with a “yes” or “no” to a generic request. I am much more comfortable with the idea than my partner and if she wanted to hook up with someone without me I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it. There would likely be additional barriers if someone wanted to hook up with me alone, but all barriers can be discussed and you never really know what the answer will be until you ask.

As a small aside, I find the phrase “invite others to join you” kind of interesting because we have never taken any initiative, we’ve just kind of let situations develop. I think part of the reason is our more introverted nature and even a personal confidence issue. It is also impossible to know if someone is in an open relationship or interested in you without them explicitly saying so. I was kind of this way in my dating ways too, I just assumed most people were in relationships or weren’t interested in me unless they were very explicit about it. I am terrible at telling whether I’m being flirted with and really need something like a message that says, “Hey, I think you’re cute and I’d like it if we kissed”… or maybe someone just kissing me.

Additionally, as a partnership that is pretty open about our unconventional life, I almost feel like most of the burden to initiate falls on other people because we’ve made our stance known. The general social norm is that a married person shouldn’t try to hook up with someone other than their partner, which means the best way for us to live is to raise our freak flag high and see who comes over to check it out.

 

  1. Peter, For several years now I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know you through the medium of fb. I believe we somehow originally connected through mutual friend in SFL but I’m unsure if we’ve ever met in person. Regardless, you’ve grown to be one of my favorite people! I always enjoy your writing and having discussions with you online. I’ve grown and changed a lot personally over the last couple of years and I find your viewpoints to be more and more relevant and interesting to me as my experiences broaden.

It’s an odd sensation to me to feel a close friendship with you while consciously being aware that I know you quite a bit better than you know me (since I just haven’t been as active in writing online). I would really enjoy the chance for my significant other and I to spend some time with you and Anna in the future.

I hope we have the opportunity! I like the idea for anonymous and unfiltered feedback from your social group. So much goes on in people’s heads that we don’t get to see. It’s exciting to see what they put forth, or to have the opportunity to express something (like this message) which would seem a little out of place to randomly put forth. Thanks for being so open about who you are, and I hope we continue to connect and get to know each other better in the future.

I actually responded to this person directly because they left their information, but I wanted to share it anyway. Thank you so much for your kind words and I really hope I can meet you and your significant other in person someday. I have thousands of Facebook friends whom I’ve never met in person and many of them have become a really positive influence on my life. I’d love to meet up, hug (if consented to), and forge a friendship in real life as well. I am always curious about little things that you can’t tell on Facebook like how tall people are or what their voice sounds like.

So, please come visit me in Wilmington! We have a spare bedroom in our quirky old house that exists for guests. The more the merrier 😊

 

 

I hope that answered the questions, but if the author (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or would like me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey. Or if you have a completely unrelated question please send it my way.

Feedback (Part 4)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

 

  1. I am a bicurious female in my early twenties and would like to explore polyamory more. Could you describe your journey with open relationships and how I can move past the stage of just having multiple (non exclusive) sexual partners to more so being in an open relationship with someone?

Sure, I’ll do my best 😊

My journey towards open relationships started with monogamy, as it often does. Like most people, I was raised in an environment where monogamy was kind of assumed to be the ideal for everyone. I think part of the problem we face is that “monogamy” really ties two issues together that don’t need to be together: sexual exclusivity and emotional exclusivity. When the reality is that you can be exclusive in both those areas, only one of those areas, or neither of those areas and still have very healthy, satisfying, and mature relationships.

So, I grew up thinking monogamy is the only way but shortly after my engagement broke off (I was about 23) I started to realize that maybe sexual and emotional monogamy weren’t right for me. At the time I didn’t realize polyamory was really a thing. I had heard of “swingers” and “fuck buddies” and “friends with benefits”, I understand that some people are not sexually monogamous, but the idea that you could actually love multiple people at the same time was a foreign concept. In hindsight, I think it should have been obvious, if I can love two people during different times in my life then it isn’t a stretch that I could love two people at the same time. I don’t think love is really a finite resource.

Anyway, while I was in college I realized that I didn’t want to be sexually monogamous, but I also didn’t want to be deceitful so I came up with three rules that I followed. First, always wear a condom. Second, before sex with a new partner I explicitly state that I am not looking for a relationship (this had mixed results because I had several partners who saw this as a challenge… they wanted to “fix me”). Third, never have sex with a new partner for the first time if either of us had been drinking.

Those three rules lasted through college and into my time working in DC. I can’t remember how, but somehow I stumbled upon the word polyamory and started reading up on it (I highly, highly, highly recommend “The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt and “Opening Up” by Tristan Taormino). I realized that I not only could love multiple people but I had a natural inclination to do so. I actually think a lot of people do and it gets people in trouble when they must suppress this natural desire. Lots of people either push down these positive feelings or they end up cheating or divorcing their current partner when they fall in love with someone new.

So, I started exploring polyamory. I went to a couple of the polyamory meet-ups in the DC area (most major cities have one or two, sometimes they even have a “next generation” group that is only for poly people under the age of 40) and I started using OkCupid as a dating tool. OkCupid is incredibly poly friendly and there are lots of poly people on there. On OkCupid I also explicitly said that I was poly, which I think is very important. Many people hide this important aspect about themselves early on in new relationships and then it becomes a problem later. It is certainly possible for a polyamorous and an emotionally monogamous person to have a healthy, happy relationship (I am actually in one… my partner is emotionally monogamous but we are sexually  more open) but it is difficult and requires compromise and an easily accessible middle ground. But, it will be much easier if the relationship has complete transparency very early on. We live in a culture where monogamy is assumed and non-monogamous people need to be explicit. And remember, there is no “one and only”, there are lots of people out there that you can be compatible with and it isn’t wise to compromise who you are to gain relationship security… that decision often leads to regret and resentment.

I guess to answer the second half of your question I really only have three main thoughts:

  1. Be open with new partners about who you are and what your relationship and sexual orientation is. Many partners are okay with bicuriousity, but some aren’t and it would suck for you not to be able to fully explore your sexuality because you fell in love with someone who didn’t like you exploring with a certain gender. Similarly, make sure they know you are poly and you are looking to have a partner that you share experiences with and not just a bunch of non-exclusive partners. Also, if you have any kinks that are important to you then those should be disclosed at some point so that you can find out if they are comfortable either exploring those with you or letting you explore them with someone else, your sexual satisfaction is an important part of your experience on this planet and you shouldn’t be asked to sacrifice that.
  2. Try to be active in communities where polyamory is understood, respected, and more common. OkCupid is a good dating site and as someone who is bicurious you should be welcome in the LGBT community. If you have any particular interest in BDSM that is also a place that respects non-monogamy. And the Burning Man community is very open to polyamory and non-traditional relationships, you don’t need to have participated in Burning Man to go to the local events (though, I definitely recommend you go someday).
  3. Consume poly-friendly resources. The books I mentioned are good place to start, also check out Dan Savage’s podcast (The Savage Lovecast) for professional advice on a variety of sex and relationship issues, including polyamory. And there are tons of blogs out there on the subject as well that can be valuable and give a great perspective to things.

 

I hope that answered your question, but if you (or anyone else) has a follow-up question or want me to clarify something please feel free to message me on Facebook, Snapchat (@pneiger), or using the anonymous SurveyMonkey.

Feedback (Part 3)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH). I’m sorry for the delay on some of these, I received more responses than I expected and am answering as quickly as I can (without burning myself out). If you are willing to give up the anonymity and provide contact information then I will respond directly to you before (or instead of) blogging.

  1. What are your top three pet peeve things people say to you? (I want to know how to not piss you off)

To be honest, this was actually a really difficult question for me and I never really came up with three things that people say to me. Being late is a pet peeve of mine, but I usually am more annoyed when I’m late than when other people are late.

It does frustrate me when people give me unsolicited advice publicly, particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. When people comment on an Instagram photo or a news article with advice for me it feels disingenuous, instead of trying to help me it feels like they are just trying to brag about their knowledge. I also feel like people are that I’m stupid or something when they do this (I admit that my perception is my own fault, but isn’t that what all pet peeves are? A reflection of our own issues?). I’d much rather someone contact me privately with a bit of humbleness instead of slinging advice around that I didn’t ask for.

I also really hate when people don’t give each other a little respect during discussions or debates. It seems all too often that people assume their opponents are dumb or naïve or haven’t thought their position through. Both sides of every argument spend all their time attacking what they perceive their opponents to believe instead of actually listening to what someone believes. I’ve come to believe that most people are doing the best they can, that I would probably see the world the way they do if I had a similar life experience as them, and every issue is incredibly complex.

I know it is easier to say, “Abortion is murder!” than to say, “I believe abortion is a complex issue. Not only do we need to determine when a fetus gains human rights, but we need to determine if those rights take precedence over the rights of the mother. Each situation is likely very different and nuanced and we should treat this issue with love and compassion.” (All sides of the political spectrum do this, we dehumanize and simplify our opponents while pretending we have the moral and intellectually superior position)

So… that didn’t really answer your question ☹

  1. When having a sexual experience with more than one person, what’s been the most awkward situation? What’s been the most fun situation?

Hmm, I’m not sure if this is asking for specific stories or just generalizations. I’ll answer both I guess.

Awkward: My first threesome was pretty awkward. Actually, “terrible” would be a better word than “awkward”, but there was certainly some awkwardness involved. It was with a college friend of mine and a woman he knew. We all knew that the threesome was going to happen, which was kind of rare (see below). It started out just fine, but throughout the whole thing my friend (who was a guy) was being very vocal in kind of an awkward way. He kept saying, “Yeah! Fuck my best friend!!” and similar stuff. It was kind of uncomfortable for me to hear that type of verbalization, especially since I wasn’t his best friend. We were buddies, but it really wasn’t a close friendship. Then, at one point I was having sex with her doggy style while she was going down on him and she threw up on him. She cleaned up and we kept going (probably a mistake), then when she was going down on me and having sex with him she shit all over him. At that point, I exited the situation and spent a good part of the night hiding under blankets on the couch re-evaluating my views on sex. I almost became monogamous that night.

As far as general awkwardness goes, I think the lead up to the event is the most awkward part. It would be nice if we lived in a society where you could say, “Hey, you two are attractive, do you want to fool around?” and nobody would get offended or anything by the question or the answer. But, we don’t live in a society like that. We kind of dance around asking for anything sexual, especially if it doesn’t fall into a very narrow definition of what is acceptable. The world is filled with missed orgasms and experiences. because sex is such a taboo subject. (Related: I would much, much, much rather someone ask my partner and I if they want to hook up than not ask us out of a concern that we will think they are freaks or something. There are many reasons why we might say no, but there are many reasons why we would say yes too. There is literally nothing sexual involving consenting adults that you could ask us that would be offensive or make us think less of you.)

Fun: Figuring out a specific fun situation is a little bit difficult. I’ve had a few experiences that stand out but ranking them is difficult. I guess I would say a threesome at a festival would be classified as the most fun. It was just a grand time of people exploring each other’s bodies, laughing, and learning from each other. That actually kind of sums up the parts about having more partners that is the most fun, you get to get lost in the moment and introducing new people brings about surprises. It is so easy to become sexually efficient with our partners, we know how to use our hands, mouths, and other body parts to bring the most pleasure is the quickest time. That is awesome, but it can also lead to ruts. Familiarity leads to boredom.

When you bring in new people they have moves and tools and preferences that they default to that may not be something you have thought about before. I think that is why I really love having new sexual experiences, it isn’t about being horny, it is about my insatiable curiosity. Seeing new areolas, tasting new genitals, spanking new asses, watching others bang is just a lot of fun. Sex doesn’t need to be taken any more seriously than that. Some of the most fun I’ve had didn’t even involve me touching people other than my partner, just being in the same room with your friends while they are enjoying each other is a blast. I think same-room sex with others is something more people should explore and can really cement friendships. Hell, at this point I don’t even need to be super attracted to someone to be curious about those things and have a desire to experience the unique desires and techniques that they bring to the bedroom. Sometimes sexual stimulation isn’t about sex, it is about exploration, friendship, and living in the moment.

3. Did you enjoy working for SFL (Students For Liberty) or did it get on your nerves a lot?

I loved working for SFL and I would probably still work for them today (or maybe somewhere similar in the liberty movement) if they weren’t based out of Washington DC. I loved SFL, I hated DC. I don’t know if I would feel the same way about SFL now though. This is going to make me sound old and bitter but, back in my day SFL only had three staff members and we were crammed in a tiny office in the Cato Annex. We hosted about 10 conferences a year and the CC class was only 28 people. We slept in airports and on dorm floors, we couldn’t afford staff computers, and our pay was low… but there was a purity of mission about it. We worked our butts off and reached to the left and the right to forge alliances. It was difficult and exhausting, but we didn’t worry about donors or money or get into squabbles about stupid shit. We focused on getting resources to the students, and that was about it. I don’t know if SFL has changed much since I left in 2012, to be honest I kind of stopped paying attention after I received hateful emails from “friends” when I voiced some of my concerns to the Executive Board. I realized that if they are unwilling to even have a conversation then it was time for me to move on. I look fondly at my time at SFL, but it is part of my past and I don’t see that changing.

That’s it for today, if you have a question or comment, please fill out this form 🙂

Feedback (Part 2)

This post is in response to anonymous questions and comments that I receive via a SurveyMonkey form I set up. If you’d like to send me a question or comment just fill out the form at this website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH)

  1. I am interested in what your specific rules for your open relationship are.

This comment is probably in response to my first post in this series. For those new to the blog, my partner and I do not have a traditional monogamous relationship. We aren’t polyamorous, but how we do see sexuality as something that can be open in a healthy and happy relationship. We have a few basic rules (or really, guidelines) that help us navigate physical intimacy with others that vary depending on the situation.

First, flirting and making out is perfectly fine. If physical contact happens with another person then we tell each other about it when a good opportunity arises. For example, if my partner makes out with someone in a bar then she may tell me later that night or the next morning. There is no reason to text from a bar bathroom or find me on the dance floor to report in. We just keep each other in the loop about what we do with others.

Second, if we are in a situation and the other person isn’t present (one of us goes to a party alone or one of us is out of town) then we don’t do any skin contact below the waist. Anything above the waist is fine for skin-to-skin contact but things below the waist need to have a layer of clothing involved, and no orgasms.

Third, if we are together in a situation where things are getting physical then we just need to check in with each other. In general, we don’t do more than oral with others but if everyone is comfortable with more than that then we are intellectually open to it. It is just a matter of communicating clearly (with each other and anyone else involved) what we are comfortable with and interested in.

Fourth, all same-sex stuff is all fine if proper safety precautions are taken.

Fifth, there are certain people who these rules don’t apply as much to. We have certain friends that we have a history with that allow for greater play. Some of these people are couples that we have done stuff with together and sometimes it is an individual that one of us used to hook up with in college or something. People with a history tend to be less threatening.

Sixth, if one of us wants to bend a rule or temporarily pause it then we just need to ask. Maybe my partner is away on a trip and really hitting it off with someone then all she needs to do is quickly check in with me and it’ll probably be approved (depending on how everyone is feeling about it). We also don’t see cheating as something that will end the relationship. Mistakes are sometimes made and if that happens we would discuss it openly and decide if rules need to be loosened or tightened for a time to address it.

These rules may seem kind of random and arbitrary but they are based on what is comfortable for us. We are constantly pushing our boundaries though and we are both committed to overcoming negative emotions. We also realize that neither of us can be everything to the other person. There may be sexual interests that one of us has that the other person is uncomfortable (or unable do to physical limitations) participating in. Being open to new circumstances doesn’t mean we are open to every circumstance or that we want to bang every person we see, but it does mean we won’t shut the door on any situation without discussing and processing it first.

Feelings of jealousy and such are valid and we respect them, but that doesn’t mean we want to be slaves to them. We both feel that life would be better without negative emotions. If one of us is feeling jealous or envious or uncomfortable in a situation (we have veto power over each other even when operating within the “rules”) then we will pause and try and figure out why it is happening. In my experience jealousy comes down to a couple reasons:

First, one of us isn’t getting our needs met or is feeling ignored. If we are at a party and my partner is really connecting with someone and things are getting physical then I might feel anxiety about it if I am alone in a corner. We try to keep things relatively balanced, if one of us has someone to play with then we want the other one to have someone too.

Second, safety is sometimes a concern. Physical safety (minimizing STI risk, etc.) is easily overcome with condoms or by being somewhat selective about interactions that get to the point of potential fluid exchange. Emotional safety is a little bit more difficult to navigate, but it can be done. Sometimes one of us will worry that a new partner may be a threat to our relationship or love. Realistically, the chance of that is tiny but it is still a concern that should be addressed. We usually stick with fooling around with other couples or people we won’t see often to help minimize that risk.

Third, the little dictator inside all of us wants to control a person. This is the most devious (and often subconscious) reason for jealousy. The truth is, we all want to control people and when we are in a position of power (like being a parent or having veto power in a relationship) that power can be abused. It is sometimes easier and satisfying to tell someone ‘no’ just because you can. This hasn’t happened to my partner and I, but if it did happen we would discuss it and try to find a solution.

I’m sure there are other reasons for jealousy, but those are the ones that come to mind for us. They can all be addressed and I really think jealousy is something we should all work to overcome.

 

  1. Peter, you’re such a lovely human. I feel like I learn so much from you. This isn’t really a question, I just wanted the opportunity to tell you that (again).

Aww, thanks! Messages like this really inspire me to keep living openly and sharing my experiences. Hearing support from people always brings a smile to my face.

 

  1. You’ve mentioned having some jealousy problems before. How did you work to solve them?

Overcoming jealousy (well… mostly overcoming jealousy, it still happens from time to time) was a pretty long process for me and requires a little history. Part of my jealousy came from being raised in an environment that had an unhealthy view of jealousy and relationships. Jealousy was seen as “natural” and even good, and the view of relationships was one of ownership, particularly ownership of the man over the women. This was particularly true while I was in the military where masculinity is defined by fucking and controlling women.

So, I was off to a pretty rough start. It didn’t help that the first women I was engaged to cheated on me, lied to me, and was emotionally abusive (and once physically abusive). That bad relationship really fueled my paranoia and jealousy over every little thing. For the longest time, the only time I wasn’t jealous about a partner was when I wasn’t really into them. After my engagement broke up I realized that I had a very unhealthy view of what a good relationship was.

The truth was, I wasn’t really in a healthy enough place to be in a relationship so I decided to take some time off from dating seriously. I ended up avoiding exclusive or serious relationships for about five years. I dated a little bit during that time and I had some great fuckbuddies, many of whom I loved, but I kept my jealousy at bay by refusing to view a person as my partner. To be honest, taking that time off and avoiding serious relationships until my late 20’s was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I spent time figuring out who I was, what I wanted in a partner, and my jealousy was reduced substantially because I knew my sexual partners were sleeping with other people. Jealousy, for me, stemmed from the unknown, from feeling like I wasn’t in control or that my feelings weren’t being respected.

So, over time it just started to fade. The cure for jealousy is transparency. It is easy to worry that some other guy has a bigger dick than me or that he is better at going cunnilingus or is more romantic if I never meet the other guy or if I never talk to my partner about her experiences, but if I am in the room or if I know that my partner will give me all the details I want then I don’t get jealous. It certainly took time to get to that point, we are brainwashed from birth to view our partners as our property and to take personal offense to any perceived slight. Jealousy is a sign of a healthy love, when really it isn’t.

As a side note, during this transitionary period I also discovered Ayn Rand, Stoicism, and mindfulness meditation. I believe all three of those things helped contribute to me overcoming jealousy. Rand was big on using logic to overcome emotion and acting rationally, stoicism teaches that it is a waste of time and energy to focus on things that our outside of our control (including the actions of others), and mindfulness meditation helps me control my mind, which includes negative emotions.

 

  1. Where in the world would you most like to travel?

Hmm, everywhere? That’s a cop out. Sorry.

Right now, the Nordic countries are on the top of my list, especially Iceland. I love everything I’ve seen of that area. I also really want to visit Ireland, for some reason I feel more attached to my Irish ancestry than any other part, even though I’m a huge mutt. New Zealand would also be amazing… maybe I have a thing for islands.

I think people tend to overlook the beautiful places within the United States. I really would love to go back to Santa Fe and the Redwoods, and spend some time hiking/camping in Zion and Glacier National Park. Oh, and Canada would be fun to spend more time in. My partner and I are considering doing a cross-Canada bicycle ride at some point.

 

Okay… that’s enough for today. I’ll have more to share later this week. 😊

Feedback (Part 1)

For the last month or so I’ve had an idea floating around my head. I wanted a way for friends, family, acquintances, and strangers to anonymously send me questions or comments. I wanted to do this for a number of reasons, but it was primarily just to provide a forum for me to address any misconceptions people have about me and my views, and to answer questions that people might be embarrassed to ask me if I knew their identity.

Well, yesterday I finally set up a SurveyMonkey form for this purpose and on the first day I received a handful of great questions and comments. I’m going to answer them via my blog (unless the author requested that I not), so today is the first blog post where I respond to questions and comments sent to me anonymously. At first, I was a little surprised that so many of the questions were about sex and sexuality because I’m pretty open about that stuff and discuss it freely, but I guess it is still a taboo subject for many.

If you are interested in having me respond to something or if there is something you want to tell me but want to remain anonymous, feel free to fill out the form (or send me a private message on facebook or email me). I’m going to keep it open indefinitely.

So, on to the first round of responses. I plan on answering them in the order they come in, except when I decide not to do that.

1. How do you and your partner negotiate outside sexual activity? Rules?

My partner and I have a basic set of rules (which I can go into detail about if people are interested) that we’ve established after a lot of communication, but we discuss them fairly regularly (usually while rolling) and how we operate today is different than how we did earlier in our relationship. We are both committed to the primacy of our relationship, but we also both enjoy trying new things, pushing our boundaries, and getting the most out of our lives. So, we have rules but there are some caveats.

First, communication is always open and we adjust the rules to meet certain circumstances and we encourage each other to discuss our feelings regularly. This may mean one of us wants to be more physical than our current rules allow or it may mean that one of us feeling particularly uncomfortable with a situation and we want to act more conservatively for a while.

Second, cheating is not an “extinction level event”. If one of us breaks a rule we will discuss it with each other and figure out how to move forward. That may mean loosening up the rules to allow more freedom or that may mean taking a step back from the open relationship for a while or it may mean that a certain person or circumstance should be avoided until we can process why the rule breaking happened.

2. What does “sexually fluid” mean to you? 

To me, “sexually fluid” sums up two parts of my sexuality. First, if someone is a specific gender then I do not automatically disqualify them as a person that I’m willing to sexually interact with. Some people have reported actual disgust at the idea of interacting with a specific gender (usually their own) but I don’t feel that disgust. I certainly tend to be more attracted to women, but I’m open to any circumstance that involves enthusiastic consent from all adult parties.

Second, my attraction to someone can change depending on time and place, or set and setting. If I’m at a rave or festival or in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man I am much more open to an experience that I might not be interested in during my “normal” day-to-day life. This fluidity isn’t only related to gender, it can also be related to certain kinks or other forms of stimulation and experimentation.

 

So, those are the first questions. I also received a wonderfully nice note from someone who I’ve never met in person who said they appreciate the articles I share on love and sexuality, even though they are monogamous…. I’m glad my sharing is creating value for some people. My favorite thing is helping people safely get insight into a world they are curious about, even if that life isn’t for them. We can all learn from each other and it is valuable to share our stories and experiences.

Thanks for all the submissions, I plan on knocking another couple out early next week. And please feel free to submit any thoughts, questions, or whatever you have about me (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH)… there are no limits so lower your inhibitions with your drug of choice and unleash on me. Oh, and if I didn’t answer a question thoroughly enough or you have a follow-up question please don’t hesitate to send those as well.