Mistress Matisse's Rules for Happy Polyamory, #32: Don't compare your lovers.

Yeah, I know—most of the world is monogamous. I'm not. I have two lovers, and we're all quite happy with that arrangement. And one of the ways I keep my two loving, romantic relationships in balance is by not doing what my college professors used to call "comparing and contrasting." That kind of thing is fine in a term paper for your Poli-Sci class, but it's deadly to your poly relationships.

Why? Because it presumes a winner and a loser. When I see someone totting up a list that says, "Well, she's better in bed, but I have more in common with him," what that tells me is that someone is trying to make a choice between two people. But it's a central tenant of poly that no one person can fulfill all of another person's needs. So you don't give up the good things you're getting from one person so you can have the other. You have both.

Plus, comparing lovers presupposes that you have some kind of absolute scale to use. But people are like apples and oranges. When Max and I have sex, it's usually sort of hot, dark, and intense. Roman and I are passionate, but often silly and playful in bed. Max and I produce BDSM events together like a well-oiled machine. Roman and I have great comic timing when we tell stories or perform together. Max knows pi to 10 decimal places. Roman can give you a plot synopsis for a million obscure foreign films. Max drives a vintage sports car. Roman rides a Russian motorcycle. They're very different, and I love them both. Why would I try to assign a point-value to them, either as people or as experiences?

It's true that sometimes I try to imagine having all the great qualities of both Max and Roman rolled into one. Everyone wonders, occasionally, what it would be like to have the Completely Perfect Lover. But my Completely Perfect Lover would have to have a split personality. He'd have to be highly structured and organized like Max, but free-spirited and artistic like Roman. Reserved and a little mysterious, but somehow also boyishly exuberant. I'm trying to imagine Kevin Spacey and Jim Carrey sharing the same body, and it's frightening me a little. It just wouldn't work well. So my Completely Perfect Lover has to be two separate people. (Maybe even three, occasionally.)

The other thing that strikes me about the comparison game is that it's often a way for people to try to justify their discontent with a lover's behavior. Who among us has not had an argument in which we've been unfavorably compared to a partner's ex, or the so-perfect partner of your sweetheart's best friend? But that's counter-productive in any disagreement, and polyamory is no exception. So if you're a poly person talking to one of your partners about your needs, saying something like "Well, Lover X always puts down the toilet seat," or "Lover X never forgets what kind of pizza I like," is really not going to help the situation. It's most likely going to pour gasoline on whatever little sparks of insecurity might be lurking around, and then you've got a bigger problem. Or your lover will recognize such a remark for the nasty, underhanded jab that it is, and get justifiably pissed about that. I know my response to such a line would be something like, "Well then, don't let me keep you from his/her glorious presence for another moment. Buh-bye." You're better off just talking to your lover about what you need. Either they'll give it to you or they won't, but trying to prop up your argument by talking about how all the other kids do it just makes you look insecure about what you're asking for.

Each of your lovers will give you different things, but they're all important. And whether it's from an excess of boyish exuberance, or an overdose of tight organization, each of your lovers will sometimes drive you nuts. But you have to take and enjoy their gifts on their own individual merits, not in the shadow of anyone else.

Kink Calendar


Adult social club that holds events for bi women and male/female couples—no single men. 9:30 pm, www.lovelounge.net for info, no cover, membership required, 21+.

A puja is a tantric ritual celebrating the union of sex and spirit, and honoring the divine masculine and feminine in each of us. School of One, 523-5544 or www.schoolofone.com, 8 pm–midnight, $30 per person/$55 per couple, pre-registration required.


A clothing-optional (nude) "swim and be social" event at an indoor pool. pool@wetspot.org or 270-9746, noon–6 pm, $10, Wet Spot members and their guests only, RSVP required.


Monthly fetish-fashion photography exhibition. Fenix Underground, 109 S Washington St, 405-4314, 9 pm, $5 in fetish wear, $15 in civies.


Indulge your fetish for tenuous celebrities forced to sing choreographed medleys, as the top 10 finalists of American Idol's 2005 competition take the stage in Everett. Featuring Bo Bice, Carrie Underwood, Constantine Maroulis, and, like, seven other people. Everett Events Center, 2000 Hewitt Ave, Everett, 866-332-8499, 7 pm, $37/$47.


Seattle Men in Leather doesn't give details on their "dress code," but a good minimum is 501s, boots, and a black T-shirt. Major pieces of leather, rubber, and uniforms encouraged. Cuff Complex, 1533 13th Ave, 323-1525, 7 pm–10 pm, $3, 21+.