Monday, February 25, 2013

Online Dating

So many people have a negative attitude towards online dating and it astounds me. There's an impression that it means you're desperate, or can't find a date the "normal" way.

I remember when I came out to my Mum as polyamorous over a year ago. She was initially shocked, of course, and I was telling her about my boyfriend at the time, Mr Oldman. She asked me a couple of cursory questions about him and when she asked how we met I said on an online dating site. I could tell from her reaction that she was horrified! (Perhaps even moreso than she was about polyamory itself).

But what is the "normal" way to find new sweeties? Here is my very scientific list detailing how I've met each of my sweeties:

  1. Mr First (51 weeks) - A long and rather cute story, but it ultimately results in me having met him through an acquaintance I met in class at uni. 
  2. Mr Wrong (5 years, ongoing) - Met at a mutual friend's birthday party
  3. Mr Oldman (8 months) - Online dating site
  4. Mr Wonderful (8 months) - Convoluted, but here goes: I was looking for a roleplaying group and found contact details for one online, that guy referred me to Mr Wonderful, who I had coincidentally seen at Roller Derby training earlier that month
  5. Mr Steak (1 month, ongoing) - Online dating site

So it looks like we've got 40% online dating, 40% meeting through friends, and 20% hobbies. Anecdotal experience is, of course, a terrible source for information, so I found some stats on snopes that was taken from a Harris Interactive Survey.

Turns out, 32% of couples meet through work or school, 30% through other people (friends/family/blind dates), 25% met in a public place (e.g. bar/coffee shop/neighbourhood) , and 6% met online (dating site/chat room).

The thought of meeting someone in a bar of coffee shop is really weird to me - probably as weird as online dating is to most. I imagine going to a bar specifically to find and pick up a sweetie, which would be out of character for me since I don't drink very often at all. Worse still, if you did, you barely have anything to go on about your potential date than whether you have chemistry and how they look and carry themselves in a social situation.

When online dating, I know if someone likes dogs or cats, smoker/non-smoker, how much they drink, if they do hard drugs, if they're into crystal healing, what they do for a living, how well they can communicate in the written word, and of course whether they're open to polyamorous relationships. Someone said that this takes the mystery out of the relationship, or the fun of finding out new things, but I disagree. Despite having a vast knowledge of Mr Steak's character thanks to his online dating profile, I still get to find out all sorts of things from meeting him in person. (e.g. he is fun to watch Survivor with, and he also dislikes Lord of the Rings!). It's just a lot of the initial screening process is taken care of for you. And I like that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Breakup: A Playlist

Well, I'm moving back to my hometown after a year in another town for work.

As a result, me and Mr Wonderful are no longer any sort of official "thing". It's been an emotional time, and I made a playlist to commemorate it.

The biggest thing I noticed when putting this list together is most of the songs are singing about women, and most of the time the perspective I was wanting to give was one in which Mr Wonderful was in the role of the woman. Otherwise some of the songs seem kind of arrogant, improperly placed, or weird. 

For those who may be interested, here's the playlist with a few lines from each song for context.

Friday, November 30, 2012

On being a victim

This post has a trigger and TMI warning for childhood sexual abuse.

Keep reading after the jump if you want to.

I would like to warn any friends who read this that this contains some very personal information that you might have preferred not to have found out.

I wrote this over a period from June 2012-now, which is why it's so long.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The broken refrigerator and its application to triggers

This entry was written after my first day of "therapy", but published well afterwards.

The counselling session opened with mindfulness meditation. (I mentioned I was nervous, he suggested we do a meditation/breathing exercise to get me calmer). That took me by surprise. It was just like Sam Harris' one from the Global Atheist Convention 2012, so I felt a little less weird about it since I'd had experience with that sort of thing before.

I noticed one interesting thing that my counsellor said that I could really relate to as a polyamorist.

He said, "Often when we feel negative emotions our immediate reaction is to run away from them or avoid them. But we would really benefit from looking at the emotions, or confronting them in some way and examining the reasons behind them. It's often just your body and mind trying to warn you about a threat, but in reality there's no threat there."

I almost said to him, "that sounds just like the broken refrigerator analogy for polyamory!". 

But I didn't. I wrote this blog post instead.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's a cultural thing, okay?

Atheism and Christmas time is a theme that's been done to death, but in all my time I haven't really seen much on a topic near and dear to my heart: the nativity scene.

A nativity scene is about the most religious Christmas decoration you could imagine - small ceramic figures of  Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men and farm animals. It's the first thing you'd expect an atheist family to cast aside.

When I was a kid, my family had a nativity scene. A real basic one - the holy family and some animals. It was without a doubt my absolute favourite part of christmas. I'd set it out and arrange the figures with much joy.

When I went to France at the end of year 11, I had the opportunity to stay in Provence, a region that has an amazing custom of the crèche - a nativity scene that is of such a scale that it extends to incorporate the entire city of Bethlehem. Most families have one with a few dozen pieces; some churches or shopping centres would have ones with hundreds. My host mother had quite a few pieces and we even went on a trip to Frejus so she could visit a market and pick up a new figure or two.

My host mother's creche! Isn't it pretty? (click to see full size)
Remembering my childhood fascinations, I was fascinated with them and was almost going to buy a few figures until I saw the ones at the market cost several euros each (boo!).

A few days ago, amid very droll observations of the presence of Christmas stuff in the stores in August, I thought to myself, "me and Mr Wrong need to buy a christmas tree in the after christmas sales so we have one next year". Then I remembered the nativity scene thing, and all the stuff it meant to me and reminded me of and how "cool" it was.

So you know what I did? I bought one. A legitimate provençale set that's going to be shipped from France with about a dozen pieces.

And you know what? I like the tradition. So I'm going to continue it, religious baggage be damned!

I'd like to hear other peoples' opinions on this. What religious customs are you keeping that perhaps you shouldn't? What customs do you miss?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Relationships that can't last aren't such a problem in polyamory

Often, you see on dating advice columns or similar people asking for advice about their current relationships. They have a partner who they love a great deal and have a nice relationship with, but for some reason or other there's a point of incompatibility that, whilst small, is insurmountable. I often see this on reddit where a girl is childfree but her boyfriend wants kids, or a guy is fiscally responsible but his boyfriend throws money around on designer shoes, and many other examples.

In these situations, the sage dispensing their valuable advise will invariably say something along the lines of "You need to break up. I know it's going to be hard, I know you don't want to do this, but you can't stay together so it's best to get it over with."

This seems to stem in some way on the monogamous need to find "the one" - any time you're spending with this "dead end" partner is time you could be searching for "the one". In polyamory, you can date partners who "aren't marriage material" whilst still being able to date partners who are.

I can relate to this situation. Mr Wonderful is just such a partner; he's super important to me right now and my world revolves around him and I want to spend every minute I can snuggled into his shoulder, but I know on a deeper level that we're not compatible at this stage in our lives. (Maybe in 5 years that will change; who knows). I know that if I was monogamous, I would be seriously considering ending things with him because it would be the right long-term strategy so I could go find my prince charming.

But I am so, so happy that I'm not monogamous because I'm not ready to say goodbye to Mr Wonderful.

I might never be.

But I'm also not ready to marry him in the foreseeable future. And there's no problem with that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The things society lets us get away with

Yesterday I got to help out at a science fair as one of the judges. It was a pretty cool experience, ranging from seeing the kids who really didn't give a shit (as was to be expected) to the kids who had done awesome experiments and obviously put a lot of effort into their data and its presentation.

The highlight for me was a poster detailing one student's quest to find out how to store coke to prevent it going flat; refrigerated or not and with the lid on or not. As a heavy drinker of pepsi (I am trying to cut back, I swear!) I could really relate to this. Other honourable mentions include comparing different types of diet drink in how they react to mentos and the really dedicated group that grew three plants, feeding them monster energy drink, powerade (it's got electrolytes! they're what plants crave!), or water and measuring the plant height every day.

After the judging was over, the school invited us into the staff room for a cup of tea and a biscuit. I walked in, all smiles, and was greeted by a middle-aged teacher who was sitting at the table eating his lunch.

The following exchange occurs:

Him: You can't be an engineer! (smiling, joking way)
Me: Why? (expecting a comment about my age, funnily enough)
Him: You're a woman! Women are meant to be at home cooking dinner. (again, clearly a joke and meaning nothing by it)
Me: Dude, that's not funny, not even as a joke.

I am really proud of myself for saying something back, even if he got a little bit offended by my reaction. He made some justificationy comments like "I'm not a sexist, my sister in law is an engineer and when she was presenting to some businessmen in Dubai they mistook her for the tea lady and asked her to bring them coffee".

But seriously, you might think my reaction was a bit much, but imagine someone saying something like that to a black man. Doesn't that just horrify you and make you super uncomfortable, thinking about someone joking that a black engineer shouldn't be engineering but shining shoes or picking cotton or whatever the racism is?

Why the hell does our society let people make comments like that about women?

Oh, and the best thing? He was the home economics teacher.