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The Naked Truth Is Not Online

When I first started dating my partner Monk, we'd say to each other: "Nothing I say while I'm naked can be held against me later." By which we meant: People sometimes say things in the heat of a sexual moment that they find hot to fantasize about, but that they don't necessarily want to make real. It was our way of reminding each other, "Enjoy whatever happens, but don't smack me with a rolled-up newspaper today just because I barked while we were having sex last night."

Lately, we've coined another phrase about relationships: "Twitter is not sworn testimony." Meaning: We do not interpret each other's blog posts, Facebook updates, and, yes, Twitter remarks, as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to us talking to—or about—other people. Since we're polyamorous, many things are possible. But if we don't hear about it straight from each other, we assume anything we read online is mere playful banter.

Does that sound like a lack of intimacy? I think it's just the opposite. We have become a world of exhibitionists, and when you write about your life, no matter how casually you do it, or how small your audience, it's all but impossible not to spin the story line even a little. And if the opportunity to toss off a good line of dialogue comes along, who can resist taking it?

But whether you're monogamous or polyamorous, it does provide a whole new theater for insecurity. The women's magazines are full of articles about how to "check up on your man" to see if he's "being unfaithful online." (If he can really be unfaithful online, then he obviously has a port or a drive that I don't see anywhere on my machine.) I find that sort of mind-set baffling. But if you enjoy suffering, go ahead and cyberstalk your sweetie. Obsess about every casually flirtatious remark and winky emoticon, and respond as if it were all carved on stone tablets instead of something tapped out while riding the bus. Persist in the delusion that you can elicit love and avoid pain by keeping your partner leashed and muzzled like a bad dog. Because that's always worked out perfectly for everyone who's ever tried it, right?

Let me propose an alternative to that system that I truly think works better: trust. Don't take your partner's online banter seriously. Don't even read his or her public writings if it bugs you and you can't simply shrug it off. Choose instead to trust what he says to you in person and how he treats you when you two are together. If your three-dimensional life together is good, don't discount what's real because of something that's just a bunch of ones and zeros. Because in some ways, the things people say when they're naked are the only words that really do count. recommended

 

Comments (16) RSS

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1
So true.
Posted by yomama on May 5, 2010 at 11:45 AM · Report this
2
I can agree with this whole-heartedly. Coming from a monogamous perspective, unless there are serious other issues which are manifesting themselves via the computer (ie, (s)he'd rather masturbate to the computer than have sex with you, or (s)he's using online dating services to find him(her)self other partners without your knowledge) then don't sweat the small stuff. If those things *are* happening, there will be other signs, and other accompanying things you'll notice and have to deal with as well.
Posted by AgLee on May 6, 2010 at 6:21 AM · Report this
Posted by nseattlite on May 6, 2010 at 10:21 AM · Report this
4
I disagree. I'm of the opinion that if you're in a relationship and dealing with other people (particularly ones attracted to you and vice versa), then you shouldn't do or say anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable doing or saying in front of your partner. If you feel the need to deliberately hide your words and behaviors from your partner(s), then while you may not be "unfaithful", you're certainly being dishonest. And dishonesty, even if it is minor, isn't something that belongs in a healthy and successful relationship.
Posted by Tirade on May 6, 2010 at 12:08 PM · Report this
5
I think there's a difference for poly vs. monogamous people here. As a monogamous person, I agree with #4 that you shouldn't be doing or saying flirtatious things that you wouldn't do or say in front of your partner. Assuming you don't have their agreement that it's okay to do those things, it shows a lack of respect.

In a poly relationship, you can be honest with your partners about your multiple relationships or flirtations, and at the same time they don't necessarily want to be privy to all the details. In other words, they're okay with you doing stuff that you wouldn't do in front of them.

I think Matisse has put her finger on one of the dynamics that arises when you have a partner that is okay with you being sexual with others in ways that they don't really want to see up close and personal. Technology (Twitter especially) makes it harder to keep things separate and private.
Posted by strange observer on May 7, 2010 at 8:45 AM · Report this
6
If trust and communication are things you can count on in your relationship, that's awesome. But I don't think most people can. For many, there is a point at which your partner stops being on your side and begins to take whatever they can get out from you. If you can discover this point, you can maybe minimize damage.

I am not saying every flirtation is likely betrayal, just keep your eyes open.
Posted by lestamore on May 7, 2010 at 5:13 PM · Report this
7
I'm polyamorous and I love hearing and seeing all the details. My partners can fuck right in front of me and my reaction ranges anywhere from completely indifferent to totally aroused. Thus, I couldn't care less how they flirt online.

Not all of us people folks are just begrudgingly putting up with our partners' fucking/loving other people as long as we don't have to see/hear it. That's true for some, but definitely not all.
Posted by Rhythm on May 7, 2010 at 6:24 PM · Report this
Bluejean Baby 8
@ #7, i just went to bing.com to search polyamory, and read and read and read. WoW, what an insight! I can only say *i wish* :)
Posted by Bluejean Baby on May 7, 2010 at 8:32 PM · Report this
9
Cheers MM!

Love the imagery of not swatting with newspaper today because of barking the night before. Thought I prefer meoowing myself. :)

The *trust* is the basis of monogamy or polyamory. Negotiation/setting expectation is the foundation of any healthy relationship.
Posted by SapioSlut on May 7, 2010 at 10:51 PM · Report this
10
Which is sexier:

Making love to a partner who is with you at that moment, because they'd rather be with you, than with anyone else.

Making love to a partner who'd rather be playing with the kitty next door, but you won't let them out to play.

That old 60's poster was right. "If you love something, and you set it free, and if it doesn't come back to you, then it was never really yours to begin with."

Also, in regards to blogging and twittering, Mark Twain said it best: "I never let the truth get in the way of a good story." As a dominatrix, you're an entertainer (B.T.W.... Is that how you categorize your product or service "source of income" on you tax forms? ...just curious...), and as a creative person, your job is to take "creative license" in order to alter the state of the lives of others. You are being paid to create an exciting and unique experience for your clients. Ultimately, your job is to help them realize their fantasies (Which is often to be controlled by you...). In order to achieve that goal, you must use every implement in your arsenal, including stretching the truth. And at times, you must be a consummate actress. Am I right?
Posted by Gamesman on May 8, 2010 at 2:40 AM · Report this
Karl Elvis 11
The thing I find amazing is that we keep having to say this. Of course it's lame to take your spouse/significant-othere's on-line behavior personally, and of course it's lame to take it literally.

The idea that we still treat petty jealousy as if it's not just ok, but a sign of how-much-you-care is insane. Jealousy is something to overcome, not something to celebrate. You'd think as a culture, we'd be learning this, and that the internet would be helping to spread the message; but in fact I think it's the inverse, where it's helping to spread the message "watch 'em closer, shorten the rein".

We need to grow up as a culture, a whole hell of a lot.
Posted by Karl Elvis http://www.moronosphere.com/ on May 8, 2010 at 11:22 AM · Report this
12
I'm of two minds on this.

Yes, it's masochistic to cyberstalk your partner and obsess over winky emoticons and casual flirting. For all of human history most grown-ass men and women have known their partners flirt at the grocery store and the office, and they've done it, too, and it hasn't always led to cheating and it's been out of sight, out of mind. Flirting is just a social skill and isn't something to worry about unless it goes beyond specific boundaries set in the relationship.

On the other hand, I think there's a pretty big difference between a public figure and poly person like Matisse or Monk being a little silly on Twitter, vs. a married, monogamous person without a public, kinky persona flirting with other people in public on the Internet. If you compliment a cute guy/girl at the grocery store, the worst that can happen is your partner's friend is watching and tries to start drama by telling your partner with a few embellishments. If you flirt in public via Twitter, there's a permanent record (in the Library of Congress, if you did it with a public account!) of that flirting, to be perused indefinitely by anyone who looks you up.

I think flirting online (in public spaces, not private IMs) is like getting drunk at the party of the year and spending all night hitting on another guy/girl in plain view of not just your partner but most of his/her friends and a few people with cameras. Unless you have a relationship where that's okay, it's embarrassing and disrespectful to the person you're with. A private IM (as long as both people know nothing serious is intended) is more like flirting at the grocery store or the office--no harm done.

I follow a married woman on Twitter who is a very sweet lady and great mom in person, but spends all her time online talking about how she craves more romance than her husband can give her, and flirting with guys she thinks will be more romantic. Either her husband doesn't know about her Twitter, he chooses not to read it, or he's the most secure, forgiving guy in the world, because if most people read that they'd be crushed to see their spouse disrespect them like that in front of the whole world.
More...
Posted by Anon E. Mouse on May 9, 2010 at 1:21 AM · Report this
13
Wise counsel as always, ma'am!
Posted by J. Bo on May 10, 2010 at 12:20 PM · Report this
14
I think we should consistently be honest and because of that we should always trust. I'm monogamous and my boyfriend and I area always honest and I can always trust him. There's nothing online I'd believe (no matter how "suspicious" it looks) if it went against what I knew to be true about him. Now, if I wanted to end my relationship today, then I would totally consistently check up on his facebook page, yell at him for every girl he talks to ever, and accuse him of cheating no matter what he does. But I love him. I'll keep him around. Great article. Whether you're poly, or boring like me :), TRUST is the key issue.
Posted by mozzie on May 11, 2010 at 8:49 PM · Report this
15
This is a very interesting point, but you have not given us much context, as you have not elaborated on any specific online/twitter content.

Are you saying that the rule should be "anything goes" regarding things written online, or are you just saying that people should be more liberal regarding things their lovers write online than regarding things said and done in person?
Posted by kungfujew on May 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM · Report this
16
It is possible to flirt in a fashion which should be obvious to everybody that it's just for show. A spouse who runs across one of these should have no difficulty recognizing it as such, whether in person or online. (Though text-only communication does have inherent pitfalls that are only slightly ameliorated by :-) and (grin) and that sort of thing, so always be careful what you write.)

It is also possible to flirt in a way that appears quite serious. Beyond that, it is also possible to post things about one's spouse, or about other people but with ramifications for the relationship, which are blatantly disrespectful.

I am in agreement with those who say that if you wouldn't say it while they are present, in front of friends (what you might say to their face in private is a completely different standard; this is about not not publicly embarassing or disrespecting someone that you claim to care deeply about), you sure as hell shouldn't say it where the whole world can read it and get the wrong idea.
Posted by avast2006 on August 26, 2010 at 11:12 AM · Report this

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