Serious question: I have *a lot* of polyamorous listeners, even more for Ask Science Mike than The Liturgists Podcast. Y'all say hello to me at events, send me letters in the mail, and generally offer lots of love and support.
But, I'm also an older, married dude. What about my work attracts polyamorous folks to the community?
@mike It's not your work... its just that Nerds are sexyAF bro. 😂
@mike Probably the same thing that attracts everyone else. You make people feel safe, known, understood, and represented.
@mike do you not just think it's because they are more likely to mention the fact and/or you are more likely to notice when they do cf. people of other sexual identities? Im not convinced that, if you looked at the matter in a dispassionate statistical manner you'd find there are particularly more than the average liberal public figure.
@Drfavourite Could be! Very much a blur of anecdotes, and not a data driven notion. But, other public figures have commented on it after coming to my events.
@mike I don't know if it's your work, but in the non representative community of poly people I know (20-30 somethings in Boston) there is a disproportionate number of us who are ex fundamentalist, mostly evangelicals and mormons.
A lot of us got married as young, inexperienced christians. When we left faith (or our faiths changed) we no longer had an ethical framework around sex that required monogamy. A lot of us were queer but married in the church, but others just wanted to explore more.
@mike A lot of us said we felt like we hadn't been able to experience sexuality as christians, but there was nothing actually wrong with our partnerships or marriages that happened in the church.
For my partner and I, we just found a way to keep our marriage (which is still great) while also exploring sexuality in a way we couldn't as evangelicals.
To be fair-you have talked about the ethics of sex on the liturgists and science mike in a way that doesn't discourage polyamory.
@mike Ooh yes that's me! I'm primarily a Liturgists/TAATR listener. I think I trust people who have gone through deconstruction of religious beliefs to also be accepting of the ways in which I've deconstructed my beliefs about relationships. There's a certain willingness to question norms and seek out new ways of living. I feel I can trust the Liturgists hosts and the people in this community to approach polyamory from a stance of open curiosity, rather than knee-jerk judgment.
@mike you’re just a cool dude people love to learn from. If you think about it the polyamorous community is just one more untraditional group in the widely diverse crowd who find your unconditional love and acceptance appealing. You’re a voice of kindness, understanding, and intelligence in world of misunderstanding and hate.
I don’t find it odd at all that any nonconformist group of people flock to you and enjoy hearing what you have to say and who you’re advocating for from day to day.
@mike I think it’s your willingness to put consent above “social norms”.
@mike I'm thinking about this more, and I realize that you were the one who recommended Sex at Dawn, and you definitely helped me to develop a moral framework post faith based on consent.
In a way, I guess it's *your fault* we're poly?
I was still a monogamous christian when I first started listening to the liturgists years ago.
@mike Once you question one thing, dominoes can really start falling. I began with questioning the religion I started in, then very quickly moved to an upending of my politics. From there it was my sexuality and the idea of monogamy in very quick succession.
I think the religion domino is one of the easy ones to knock over first, and people who start in more fundamentalist places are more likely to have the 'doubt momentum' to keep questioning other traditional structures.
@mike I don't have a big answer but I do remember one one podcast (maybe it was the ethics of fucking one? But also maybe not, can't remember) you explained how biologically, humans probably aren't made for lifelong monogamy, and you said it so matter of factly that that really stuck with me. I don't identify as poly (in order to be poly I'd have to be capable of forming even one sexual/romantic relationship, which I'm not, lol) but I still think about that
@mike I agree with some of the other commenters here that it's probably largely due to the non-judgment and non-shame about sex that allows lots of different sorts of people to feel safe in this space. I love that.
As a followup question, I would love to hear from any of you who have had your sexual beliefs/practices shift from xian fundamentalism, and how it has affected your lives/relationships/marriages. Theory is one thing, boots on the ground is another. 😁 Any stories to share?
@vishnu @mike My partner and I both grew up in very conservative and traditional fundamentalist households. We're still working it all out, but after our deconstruction my partner has realized they are nonbinary and asexual and I am trying to figure out whether I think I am polyamourous or not.
Not an exciting story but we've both found more freedom than we would have been able to under our old religious beliefs and communities.
I waited until I was married to do anything but kiss. I got married before I graduated college, to a man.
As an xian, I thought that because I could choose to ignore crushes on girls and only date men, that meant everyone could choose to be straight. 😬
Now, I'm still married, but I also have a girlfriend and a boyfriend and my husband has other partners as well.
I think if everyone is consenting and aware of each other (and practices safer sex) there is no need for shame.
@vishnu @mike I don't mind sharing. It's been good! There has *definitely* been times of jealousy, but for us it has been addressed by making sure we dedicate enough quality time for each other and by doing what we can to make sure the other is feeling secure.
I have met and spent time with his girlfriends, and I really love that they bring happiness to someone I love.
My husband has said the same thing about my partners.
In some ways, I know that his other partner(s) provide something I don't, and that can either be threatening, or freeing, to know that I cannot be everything to him, and I don't need to be.
divorce, purity culture, coming out
@vishnu @mike My religious deconstruction happened concurrently with my divorce, and in many ways those two things mutually informed each other. A year ago I was in an unhealthy marriage that was heavily influenced by purity culture & compulsory heterosexuality. Coming out as queer led to questioning on all fronts, and I ended up agnostic and poly ✌️ At least, that's where I've landed for the time being! Thanks for the question Vishnu.
When my spouse and I got married we were doing our best to be what we thought the ideal Christian couple was. About a year into our marriage my (now) wife told me she felt like a girl inside (we didn't know the word trans because we were THAT sheltered). 10 years later she is finally getting to transition, and we don't look at all like what the church expects. It's been good to finally accept who we are, but the church context and dealing with the learned shame are the hardest.
This is brave of you to share, and I am glad you could stay by her side through all this. I have a few friends who are in similar situations, but them being honest about who they always were was too much for the relationship to survive. Which is really sad.
@Jonpenner I think we might just be lucky. In going through this I learned I'm not purely straight, I could just function in a straight looking relationship. I grew up thinking everyone just decided what gender to be attracted to because that's how it was for me. Turns out that's NOT how most people are, but it being that way for me has worked out pretty well for us. I think this would be really tough if I was exclusively attracted to men.
@liz @Jonpenner I thought the same thing. Summer of 2017 I told my daughter that people are just attracted to people and that you choose which gender to be attracted to. She looked me dead in the eye and said "I don't think you're as straight as you think you are." Pretty gutsy for a 16 year old, especially since it was really the first time we were having those kinds of conversations. With that being said - I've been married to my husband for thirty years and have absolutely no regrets!
@liz @vishnu @mike If you don't mind me asking, what was it like in that 10-year interim? Feel free to dm me or not answer if that's too personal. I'm just curious, because after I admitted to myself and my then wife that I was trans, I freaked out and took a couple more years to accept that I needed to transition, and my mental health took a nosedive during that period that resulted in me hurting us both a lot. Our friendship managed to survive, but I still have a lot to process from it...
I think it was easier for me than for her. I honestly didn't think about it too often, at first I didn't even believe her because I didn't know enough to know what she was trying to tell me. It's just in the last couple of years that her dysphoria got a lot harder to manage and we started looking at longer term solutions. We are lucky that in those years so much more has happened, there are many more resources, and also our marriage will remain legal.
Through more deconstruction and personal circumstances, we realized that monogamy wasn't the best option for us as a couple. In the same way that it's unrealistic to think that one person could meet 100% of another's emotional needs, we realized that it was unrealistic to think that one person should meet 100% of another's sexual needs.
@vishnu @mike I'm just starting my journey with polyamory, but I want to say thank you.
When I found you folks, I was struggling with deep guilt over attraction to someone outside my marriage. My husband is very open and accepted this immediately as OK, even good! I'm lucky to have him. But my self-acceptance took a lot more work.
This is the first time I've talked openly about being poly. I'm still scared my church friends would be too challenged by the idea. But here, I feel (mostly) safe.
@vishnu @mike I deconstrructed my faith about fifteen years before I deconstructed monogamy, but there is a LOT of overlap. Extremely here for this conversation. Currently in a closet with a door made of venetian blinds that are turned about one-third open, and excited to know where other folks are.
@vishnu @mike furthermore you guys and Rachel and William have done a great job punching through whateva shit there is holding us back I just wanted to be part of community. https://open.spotify.com/track/0XzPBF8rbYsHd7BSr2Rxaz?si=64ANM0kvRhqWjsMA363zkw
@vishnu So I actually have a super similar story to you as far as not just growing up in the church but also worked in the church for over a decade and am now still teetering between athiesm and something fundamentally not xian. Having said that, I'd say my beliefs on sex have become much more fluid and less compartmentalized or connected to any belief system. As a result, I've noticed that the first longterm relationship I've had outside the church has been by far the healthiest in my life.
@vishnu @mike My whole ‘position’ (no pun intended) in sex and sexuality has shifted in the last two years. Even two or three years ago I was still in the “no sex before marriage” despite having progressed to a very liberal theology - unaware at the time it was purity culture really keeping me in its crosshairs.
Thanks to some beloved friends & doing some inner work, and deconstruction & reconstruction, I have begun to shift to a completely different space.
@vishnu @mike As an unmarried single guy this has impacted my relationships - in many senses this progression and my own deconstruction/reconstruction journey (combined with social anxiety) has made it more difficult to find a partner, find someone with similar/shared beliefs and experiences.
I am still recovering from purity culture but recovering well. The only thing which brings me down, is the thought of how tough it might be for me to find a partner.
I’m just grateful to be free.
@JamesP77 good luck make.
@vishnu @mike my wife's and my own sexual beliefs were pretty dramatically changed when we discovered that she was a lesbian, I say discovered because we were both ignorantly unaware. Divorce has simply never been an option for us so this has opened up a whole new realm of possibility, and while our sexual practices have stayed somewhat the same, there is a new level of discussion and conversation that is being had.
We also would appreciate any advice anyone would have for us!
@vishnu @mike I’m a 6’1 short haired boisterous (8-7wing Social type) female. Growing up, I was homophobic largely for my own sake, I am not gay or bi- but I do think my youth and young adult experiences would have been different if I was growing up in this culture of approval and celebration of diversity. My daughter is gay and getting married this summer. She and her fiancée are such an incredible couple and I’m so glad I get to share in their beautiful love!
I deconstructed my views of purity culture over the last few years and found that I was holding a lot of shame that actually disconnected me from both God, others and my body. By choosing to do away with shame over sex and have liberating encounters I felt closer to God than I ever did before. However, I was not prepared for the emotional attachment that followed sex, I wasn't really sure what to do with it (enneagram 4 so I was full of alllllll the emotions) and was upset that I
@vishnu @mike part 2: had been robbed of over a decade of emotional development that comes from intimate relationships. THIS was the aspect of sex I wish had been discussed in both the church and mainstream media. It's heartbreaking to know those of us who did go this route missed out on a vital part of personal development.
@vishnu @mike I was in love with him and he wanted to do the right thing and not choose a gay lifestyle and I was his best friend. We were married almost 11 years and as our views on sexuality changed and he began to have more pain and loneliness being in a straight marriage we realized divorce was the best option for us.
@vishnu @mike We are still best friends and co-parent our 3 kiddos together. It’s been a difficult road(the grief process of ending our marriage, my brother and his wife disowning us,etc) but now we are rebuilding a new, honest and healthy life. And that includes both of us figuring out what we believe about sex and intimacy. For me it looks like learning to feel and listen to my body in a way I never have before. And to awaken things that I was told to suppress all my life!
possibly poly-phobic question
@vishnu @mike One month later, a follow-up follow-up question, how does polyamory work with children. Realizing that I am queer has made feel like more of a real possibility in my partner’s and my future.
However, I’m still at the beginning of deconstructing monogamy and I’m trying to understand how to keep a stable home life for children.
I’m really really sorry if this is poly-phobic. Please forgive me.
possibly poly-phobic question
@robyn @vishnu @mike
I have no first-hand experience, but I've been doing some digging myself. (I'm a "newly" poly parent.)
It seems that it's mostly not a big deal for kids. As long as you keep their exposure to the topic of sex age-appropriate, and their home life stable, they only realize something is different as a teen/young adult.
@mike A couple thoughts:
1. These are communities where people feel they can be honest. It's not as risky to say "I'm poly" at a Science Mike event as it is in most social circles.
2. People who actively "deconstruct" their beliefs about sexuality may be more inclined to question the automatic assumption that most are raised to believe– that monogamy is the only good and acceptable kind of relationship.
@mike It's about the spiritual journey for me, which would look the same regardless of whether I was monogamous or polyamorous. The message of acceptance is a huge draw. Which is probably why you get so much love back.
This is an instance for folks who follow The Liturgists Podcast, The Alien & The Robot, and other things The Liturgists create.