I am starting a read-along of the Ethical Slut, 2nd edition. You should start with the Introduction to this series. This installment consists of background about mysel: how I relate to The Ethical Slut in specific, and polyamory in general.
I first encountered the idea of ethical non-monogamy in my mid- and late-teens. I encountered it in fiction like Robert Heinlein’s A Stranger In A Strange Land. More influential was my experimentation with some online social roleplaying environments geared toward furries. Many of the characters people played there — including some of my own — entered into non-monogamous relationships with other characters (or ‘open matings’ as they were sometimes called in furry parlance).
Various factors, including beginning to have sex in the real world, led to me losing interest in furry fandom. The idea of non-monogamy really appealed to me, but as far as I could tell it just wasn’t something real people did — just free-loving space hippies in fiction and pretend talking animals. Since I am a romantic at heart, I wholeheartedly bought into a lot of ideals about relationships including monogamy and the idea of ‘one true love.’ In my early 20s, I moved from New England to Texas to be in a (short-lived) monogamous relationship that landed me quite happily in Austin.
Then life threw me some curve balls. When a lover asked me if I minded if she dated an old flame who came back into town I realized that no, I didn’t mind a bit (it turned out he did, though, and our relationship soon ended). With my next serious relationship, we began monogamously but then began to experiment with opening things up at her insistence. It was difficult and sometimes scary, but we tried.
It was around this time that I attended my first Burning Flipside in 2001. That first Burn event was a life-changing experience for me. A big part of it was realizing how I had not been fully living my life, and that in order to do so I needed to embrace the philosophy of hedonism — the idea that shared pleasure and experience were the highest goal in life. Becoming polyamorous just made good sense, and soon after I got my first copy of the first edition of the Ethical Slut through my job at Half Price Books.
Though I read the book and loved it, and I’ve been polyamorous ever since, there were many bumps along the path to getting where I am today. Each time I’ve reread it I’ve learned new things. It’s helped me to avoid many land mines but also lent me hindsight into past mistakes. I’ve given away or loaned copies to many others as well.
I’ve often thought some of the content of the book could use expansion — I’ve even considered writing my own follow-up at times — so it was exciting to hear about the second edition. I haven’t had the chance to read it till now, though, which is why we’re doing this read-along.
As for me, since reading the original Ethical Slut for the first time, I’ve become much more successfully polyamorous. I was in a 5 year relationship which was extremely open as it began, including eventually even sharing a home with my lover and her other boyfriend. However, as our girlfriend became less stable, our relationship did too — as did the freedoms available to me. When it became too much, that relationship ended (in early 2009) and I moved to Houston.
I dated a number of people in Houston, including the woman with whom I have the most involved and entangled relationship today (what some might call my ‘primary’); she is the one I refer to in these pages as my Pet. We have a loving D/s relationship that is about to enter its second year. We’ve weathered a number of hardships, including the loss of another partner of mine whom Pet had bonded with as a sister. My pet is still in Houston for now and I’m in Austin, but she’s hoping to join me in this city soon. I also have a few other lovers in town and elsewhere.
I’m excited about this project as an opportunity to renew my acquaintance with a book that helped launch me on this path and to consider how it has shaped my experiences and how my experiences have shaped my reaction to it.
The read-along will be back later on Thursday, December 30, 2010 with an entry covering Chapter 1, “Who Is An Ethical Slut?” In the meantime, let’s get to know each other — leave a comment, even an anonymous one. Tell me about how you came to this read-through and a little about yourself and your perspective on relationship styles and The Ethical Slut.