Escorts = Consumer polyamory?

I just read this rather fascinating article on escorts in New York City, titled “The Luxury Rental Girlfriend”, and then this response post  in which the writer explains why she doesn’t have a problem with the escort business and thinks that marriage and relationships are also an exchange of assets, just with a longer timeline. I think both make for a rather interesting read, however you feel about prostitution and related trades.

Before I read the response article, my initial reaction was “Huh, that kind of sounds like someone took the idea of polyamory and made a business out of it.” And it makes me wonder what the place of prostitution and escorting would be if the majority of people practiced some form of non-monogamy. One thing emphasized in the article was how the clients appreciated the contrast between their wives and their “rental girlfriends,” but in polyamory and other forms of non-monogamy  you can openly have at least one committed long term partner that you live with, and other partners with varying levels of entanglement and expectations.

And then the response article raised further questions. What is the difference between a stay at home partner (and keep in mind not all of them have children that they’re raising), and an escort that you see regularly? Is it the fact that you live together publicly? Is it because you are (presumably) monogamous together?

The area of sex work isn’t one I think of often. I’ve known people who have done it before (does stripping count? I’ve known ex-escorts too though), but it’s not something I’ve really had conversations with them about. I don’t have an immediate gut reaction to the concept, but I’m in general a very “Live and let live” person, so long as I don’t think much greater harm is happening.

What’s your reaction to these articles?

Hope

“Good hope gets you through the worst. Bad hope steers you in the wrong direction.”

This was told to me in the context of a conversation about parents with sick children, but hope is a fairly universal phenomenon, and I also think that there are a lot of things that you can substitute in for hope in this sentence, like relationships, for example. It is my belief that a good relationship is one where both people feel nourished, that provides a sense of security and confidence that allows each person to explore the world and grow and become all the more awesome and worthy of love. A good relationship has at its core a safe space, but it is not something that leads to complacency and a stagnant existence.

I’ve been guilty of something like bad hope. I’ve being foolishly optimistic in a harmful way more than once in the past, and I’m trying to be more mindful of that tendency, to admit defeat when necessary, without completely destroying my hope.

 

Moving along

Life is moving along at a fairly steady (though currently quite accelerated) pace. I’m finally done interviewing, which is extremely relieving (but I have a lot of emails I need to send out, and I still need to finalize my list), and I only have ten more weeks of rotations left!

Although it’s only ~10:40pm and a Friday night,  I’m exhausted. I flew back to the midwest from the Bay Area on a red eye flight, came home, went to the hospital, came home, picked up my parents from the airport, and hung out with them until recently.

Aside from desperately wanting to crawl into bed all night, I had a lovely evening with my parents. Conversation flowed quite well and stayed away from more pressured topics like marriage. There were a few “You should rank X east coast program highly! Wouldn’t it be nice to live in New York?” type remarks, but nothing that really ruffled my feathers. They’re in town till Sunday afternoon, and I think I’ve got a decent agenda laid out that will keep us busy and content. I’m realizing that perhaps there is something to be said for building a better relationship with my parents before turning their world upside down. Give them a chance to know at least some small part of who I really am. It was kind of cute how amused they were that I picked them up from the airport in my car. I’m in my mid-ish twenties (just past middle?), but I only learned how to drive in Dec 2011, and they’d never seen me drive. I’m still young, I know, but I think they see me as far younger than they must have felt at my age.

I’ve had a few ideas for posts pop into my head recently, but I’m too tired to write prettily right now. I’m only awake because I’m in that too tired to be rational, ridiculously stubborn phase where I want to sleep so desperately, but I’m annoyed that I’m tired this early, and can’t quite allow myself to give up just yet.

 

Delayed Recovery

Ember and I are struggling with moving past my decision to rank Catalyst’s city first, especially since we don’t have the closure of the final outcome yet. While I empathize with how he feels, I also get frustrated. If things had happened in a different order, if I had matched and moved before he got the job offer, then the situation would be framed in a way that I’m not the one who had to make the choice (and I think the end result would be the same; I think he would have taken the job and moved away, but we’ll never know for sure).

Post-Match Day, we’re going to regroup and figure things out, because that’s what we do, but the waiting period is just awkward. And of course, Ember and I have our sixth anniversary the weekend after, and it’s  the first anniversary since 2009 that we’ll be spending together, so I really want to have fun with it. I don’t want to spend the entire weekend having Serious Relationship Talks.

My original plan was just business as usual until Match Day, when we can finally start talking about the future, but I don’t think that’s been healthy for us. At the same time, I don’t want to talk through what our plan is for each of the  eleven programs on my list. Should we start talking now about what happens if I match in Catalyst’s city? Should we also talk about what happens if I match near Ember? I’m not sure. He brought this up last night, and I’m as uncertain now as I was then.

Sigh, polyamory. I stand by my choices and believe that things are going to work out for the best for all of us in the end, someday, but we’ve got a patch of bumpy, uncharted territory to drive through first.

Polyamory = Xtreme Relationships?

(Please excuse the disjointed nature of this post. This is how I think through things. Normally this would be an email to my boyfriends that would be even less structured, but today, it gets to be a blog post).

Two related concepts:

  1. People who seek out “extreme sports” and other adrenaline pumping activities are thought to be people who are highly stimulated by new and exciting activities, who also don’t get the same negative feedback that most people do, which cause us to derive less pleasure from these scary and novel activities, and therefore we seek them out less.
  2. People with borderline personality disorder are thought to experience negative emotions as more painful because they don’t have as strong of an ameliorating secretion of feel good chemicals in response to emotional pain. It is hypothesized that this may be why they engage in self-harm activities, because the pain causes secretion of those same feel good chemicals that they generally lack.

I wonder sometimes why I’ve chosen polyamory. I know plenty of people who have been exposed to the concept, who have little to no fear of social stigma from being polyamorous, who still choose to be monogamous. I think I could live a happy life monogamously, and it would certainly be easier, but I chose polyamory, even when I was in just one relationship. I chose, we chose, to be open. To us, it was a rational decision, and yet, it’s a bit odd to make a rational decision to go against the accepted, “tried and true” norm.

Why did Ember and I do this? Why, even though I worried about Ember finding a new girlfriend that he liked better than me who he wouldn’t hesitate to settle down with, why did I decide “Well, that’s just a bridge we’ll cross if we get there.” Even among those who choose polyamory, many couples open up with rules that are designed to protect the existing relationship. Us? Our rules were (and are):

  1. Safe sex (which is a whole set of rules of its own)
  2. The other person has to know that you are not single (and that you’re not cheating either).
  3. We have to disclose to each other, at the minimum, that we’ve had a non-platonic encounter of some variation (in reality, we are extremely open and honest and sometimes we overshare, but we decided not to make it mandatory to do so).

I think my reasons why I chose to do this, or maybe more accurately, why I’m still doing this, are tangentially related to the above concepts.

  1. I really enjoy the depth and nature of romantic relationships. To have even one was an amazing and wonderful thing. To be able to be that close to more than one person? Really? I can do that?! But I also don’t get intensely jealous. The extent to which I get jealous is fairly minimal, and the things I get jealous over required me to deal with them long before Ember ever dated anyone else. I get jealous about being left out, and when I feel like I’m not getting enough quality time, so these are issues that came up when Ember spent time with friends and family, and it was obviously unhealthy to isolate him so that I never felt a little bit jealous. It is less unusual to expect your significant other to not sleep with other people, except that was never one of my triggers. So I really enjoy romantic relationships, and I don’t get a lot of the usual negative feedback that goes along with forming new romantic relationships (or allowing your partner to do so).
  2. I would not characterize myself as someone who is completely unemotional, but I sometimes get the sense that other people’s emotions are more vibrant and run deeper than mine. Sometimes I wonder if I challenge myself emotionally (aside from being polyamorous, I also do things like take a Pediatric Palliative Care rotation, because why not see what it’s like to work with dying kids and their families?) out of an underlying desire to feel something strong for once.

I’m not sure how much of this makes sense. I don’t know how much of this is just me fishing for an explanation where there really isn’t much of an explanation to be found. But it was on my mind yesterday and I found myself with some unexpected downtime tonight, so I’m putting it to words. Maybe someday I’ll decide that these were the silly ramblings of a twenty-something year old woman, or maybe I’ll realize that I was onto something significant.

And the most simple reason why I’m currently polyamorous is that I’ve in love with two men, and they’re not making me choose between them.

Stalling

I’m not going to post all the various emails, and detail all the conversations, but I talked to two of my older brothers, Ember, and Catalyst about how to respond to my father’s email, and the final tactic decided on has been stalling (with a strong undercurrent of trying to lay a foundation of “Actually, your kids are independent and can do what they want”). I think there’s a good chance there will end up being a gap in how I handle my parents, and I will end up coming out to my mother before my father, but we’ll see.

The best thing about all this is remembering that although I’m putting out this strong persona of independence and self-reliance, I do have people I can go to for non-judgmental help. I’m independent but not alone.  Of course I can count on Ember and Catalyst for this, but knowing that my older brothers have got my back too is pretty awesome. :)

Navigating my relationship with my parents

Today I received an email from my father that has me sitting here confused and conflicted and acutely wishing my life was simpler. Of course, if my life was simpler right now, I’d just end up finding a new way to complicate it, because that’s the kind of person I am and strive to be.

Dear Kitty,

This year, I am writing to all of you separately, personally.

It is my hope that everything to do with med school is progressing positively. You’d realise that I did not say much about your decision to choose psychiatry. For me, our responsibility as parents is to give you opportunity. Interestingly enough, at some point, I wanted to be a psychologist, then psychoanalyst! Once you graduate from med school, you are free to do whatever you choose with your life. We will always be there to guide, protect and advise.

Where are you going to live after med school? Where will you go?

Your mom and I are now in a position to relax some more, travel and enjoy the rest of our lives. Part of it is also making sure that our children’s future is secured. You should let us know what your debts are from school – I hope to pay them all off when you graduate in May. So you can start from there debt free.

And what is happening between you and Ember? I have stayed away from that topic because for me, it was med school first. Now that May is approaching, I would like to know what your plans are. What responsibility is he taking? You cannot just “be together” like that.

In the end, I just want you to be secure, independently happy and for you to know that there is opportunity for you to be all you want to be.

Much love,
Dad

Overall, this is actually a very happy and pleasant email, or at least, it should be. My father and I were never close, though we’d like to be. We’re very similar people, in that we’re very reserved, quiet, and stubborn; along with being of different generations and genders, it’s not been easy for us to connect, and it’s really only lately since I’ve been an adult that he’s tried to make occasional gestures at building a relationship between the two of us. Before then it was more just occasional lectures (like when my parents told me I needed to switch my major, and I did. From Theater and Psychology to Economics and Psychology, until I dropped Econ so I had room for pre-med) and admonishments (“you really should spend less time on the internet”).

But I am still highly uncomfortable with how little my parents know about me, and I really don’t know how to respond to his question about Ember. I don’t want to lie and say we’re planning to get engaged soon, but I want them to be warm toward him during my brother’s wedding in April, and my graduation in May. Ember and I will be talking (hopefully tonight) about how I should approach this.

I’m quite tempted to at least come out as bisexual, just to begin preparing my parents for exactly how unconventional their daughter is (at least, in their eyes. My life is actually rather tame beyond the bisexual and poly thing). Earlier today, before this email, I was already thinking about coming out as bisexual after a conversation I had in the comments of this blog post. So maybe it’s time?

Right now though, I wish I had either of my partners here to sit with for a little bit to help smooth my currently frazzled edges. Thankfully, I’m fairly good at self-soothing (I have to be; I spend so much time alone!), and I’ll get a chance to talk to them later today.

Musings on gender

I’m overall quite content with having been born a cis female, but there are times when I’m annoyed. It usually has to do with my gender limiting my options (like hating all the colors something I want comes in), or setting expectations that I have no desire to meet.

I was a cute kid, and I never really enjoyed it when people complimented my appearance. I think what bothered me most was how some of my mother’s friends were fond of me even though I was very quiet and reserved. I didn’t want to be liked because I was cute. I wanted to be liked for who I was.

To some degree I’ve grown out of that, and will go out of my way, on occasion, to dress for compliments, but it’s something I have to be in the mood for. It’s not natural for me to try to be specifically cute or pretty, “done up,” on a daily basis. I like simple, functional and comfortable. Solid colors, soft, durable material, and as few decorative distractions as possible.

I’m not trying to be a man or a boy. I’m just being me, and me is someone who happens to prefer certain things more traditionally associated with men, me is someone who doesn’t always click well with the women and would rather hang out with “the guys.”

I’ve grown to dislike the term “tomboy.” At the same time, I don’t like trying to avoid labels, because I think labels are a big part of how humans think and organize information. Is the solution for masculine and feminine to become more gender neutral terms? Perhaps, but will it ever happen?

I like being a mix of features and stereotypes. I like home domesticity; cooking and cleaning are pleasant chores to me. I also like power tools (used to build sets in high school), and I like to play video games. I love flowy skirts, and there’s nothing better than weather so hot and humid that I can just throw on a simple cotton dress and feel comfortable. But generally, I prefer pants, and the main reason I’m considering trying to wear skirts more is because it’s a pain to find pants that fit my figure. (Actually, I prefer leggings and I lived in them as a kid. Unfortunately, I’ve bought into the belief that leggings generally are not appropriate as pants in public, unless your butt is covered).

I don’t have much of a point to this post; it’s just something I’ve been thinking about again, largely because I’m in the process of trying to aim for owning the right combination of clothes such that I’m rarely stuck staring at a packed closet wondering what on earth I want to wear. I’ve been trying for a while to upgrade my clothes, and only recently realized that I was trying too hard to aim for a more standard feminine style, when that’s not quite me.

Some good news

On Sunday, after speeding in my rental car to return it and then half running with my suitcase to the ticket counter before I missed the window for checking in a bag, I got an email from the big academic program near Ember inviting me to one of their last few interview dates because a handful of people had canceled. Happy news! Even better, I was able to schedule it just two days after my originally final interview at the small community program near Ember, so I only have to change one flight and I still don’t have to pay for a hotel.

Other good news: Both Catalyst and his wife Dreamer are coming to my medical school graduation! I’ll have to figure out how to cram all four of us comfortably into my studio apartment, which at that point I’ll be mostly moved out of, but it’ll be fun! Like… indoor camping? =D This also gives them a chance to meet my family before I explain to my parents that I’ve been dating a married guy for, at that point, very nearly two years.

It’s normal to want to blog when I have something to complain about, but I thought it’d be nice to share a little something more positive too. :)

Not Having It All

I was in LA on Thursday, interviewing once again, and fell in love a little bit. The weather, I’m sure, had a lot to do with it, because everywhere I’d been for the two weeks prior, were cold and rainy and grey. LA? Brilliantly sunny, and even I would say it was warm (though still cool enough to be comfortable in my dreary black suit).  I really liked the program too, I’d be happy to work with and perhaps befriend the other residents, and I loved the program directors.

If I were single, I think there’s a good chance I’d be ranking LA first. I’m sick and tired of winter (I grew up in perpetual summer, and though I’ve been in the US for twelve years, I still resent cold weather), and ever since I went to my oldest brother’s college graduation in California, back in 2002, I’ve had a vague dream of living there.

But I’m not single, and I can’t drag my partners wherever strikes my fancy. Actually, I can’t drag them anywhere. Ember just got a new job and moved to the Bay Area, so he’s stuck for at least another year and a half to two years. And Catalyst, and especially Dreamer, are very settled in the Pacific Northwest. So of my ten options of programs I could match to, come March 15th, only one puts me able to build a life with Catalyst, and two with Ember (except those two are small, though very good, programs that if not for location, I normally would not have even applied to).

I know that in the end, everything’s going to work out somehow. At the very worst, I end up alone again for another two or three years. If I’m really unhappy from the beginning, I could also try to transfer after just my first year. And while I really would like to start working on having kids in about two years, I’ve got nine more years before I hit 35. There’s still time.

What’s getting to me right now is the waiting. Sixty nine more days of wondering where that letter is going to tell me to go.

(Did I explain the Match process, btw? In their last year of medical school, medical students interview for their medical internships/residencies. They make a list of the places they went to, the places make a list of the students they interviewed, a computer matches everyone up, and on Match Day, we all find out the results. It’s a binding contract).