Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Springing into “Ethical Non Monogamy”

This Phrase is all the rage right now in Poly communities I know. I like it too. It speaks to intentionality and non-traditional ways of creatively and intelligently building relationship. I love to think about all these things. Especially in spring, with the balance of light and dark and renewed playful flirtations around every corner. If you’re new to the ideas of non monogamy and poly love (as in multiple loves at one time) check out some of my fave links about said subject here on my SiMC resource page.

I’m also aware of how much self love plays a part in every relationship. Not to sound like a broken record, I know “self Love” are two words diluted by decades of overuse. However, I was taken to the core of the value and meaning of love of self this past week at conference in Bemidji. The last keynote was a group called Project Diva. I’m not going into a lot of detail about what they do and stand for (you can check them out here). And hell yes MN, those women drove home love of community and commitment to self in ways so dynamic I was shaken.

The previous week the same topic came up at an internal training in the metro. I believe with the current political poison we’re craving new information- many of us are asking questions about how to love ourselves and each other in fantastic, engaging, liberating new ways.

It’s led me to some delicious musing this weekend on ethical non monogamy. I framed it as that place where I can fully engage with the world, myself and others when I’m first and foremost my primary partner.  I come from this centered place knowing the work I do and love I build is fierce. Project Diva delivered a similar message about their commitment to working with girls to avoid teen pregnancy in the TC.

A lover of mine recently send me a postcard with the closing sentence- “ I love you more than you’ll ever know.”  Sentimental and romantic in a 1950s ways, the words rubbed me in the wrong way to Sunday and back again.

Anyone saying or inferring that they know me or what I know more than myself is coming at love from the opposite angle I am. My awareness of myself as my primary partner builds a solid, steady foundation.  I’m dedicated first to upholding my knowing/learning of self as a lover, gender expansive womxn, artist, professional, adult, creative, queer, constantly changing element of source.

Literally the words make my stomach turn. So I sit with the emotion and get even clearer about how I want to be in partnership with myself and others who may approach self love differently. As a queer, I find many female identified folx quick to give huge amounts of themselves up to another person. I’m interested in someone with a wide heart and distinct, strong, savvy, sexy sense of self.  They’ve explored the ideas behind relationship and are drawing lines/asking questions in contemporary and beautiful ways.

Here I marry a modern formula, I look at sex And love And commitment And compassion I have to offer self+others. It feels powerful to see this relationship as primary in the context of the rest of my thriving and satisfying life. This ethical non monogamous relationship I have with me has Loads of room for others. My heart’s capacity to love and connect in multi-dimensional ways is what drives me on so many levels. As I love, I want to let go, focus, stretch who I am and how I open my heart.

I want to critically engage my head and help change the way we talk about and think about romantic relationship. There are so many cool folks doing awesome work in this department. And damn it takes a lifetime worth of vigilance to be aware of all the romantic bullshit we are fed everyday. More and more person are choosing how to do relationship- I want to trust that many are tuned into what they ultimately want and need.

However, my ultimate goal this time around on this planet is to queer relationship as much as possible. I don’t have enough role models in small city Midwestern America of people doing it well, radically, fiercely, creatively. Living beyond “because they’re supposed to.” It seems many people have been fed a formula and accepted “this is how it is.”

Let’s go back to the drawing board people! This is our hearts we’re talking about, out sex lives, our families of choice! Imagine being surrounded by endless options,  examples in our small community of  non traditional, ethical non monogamous creative love designs.

I adore the idea of being in love with self first with room for others for these delish reasons:

1. it changes the entire frame of romantic love- shift focus, shift life

2. it comes from place of abundance

3. it challenges the status quo

4. it invites others to step back and then step up and seize the love they want

5. it genuinely stretches and strengthens the muscles of the heart and mind

6. it fine tunes the practice of focusing on positive, pulsing, pleasing in our lives

7. it reminds us of what we have control of and what we don’t

8. it brings us back to the importance of communication with self

9. it takes us away from the patriarchal, baby making bullshit women have been forced to swallow and moves pleasure and confidence to the forefront

10. it is a fun Fun FUN way to live life! Fully loving the self and radically loving others

I envision our community shifting the dialogue around love and relationship much like we are currently shifting how we engage our ideas of gender. Duluth’s pace with such processes is its own. There is much to learn from larger communities while we stand committed to the delicious and dangerous bubble we live in here on Lake Superior. Remember we have created amazing feminist, queer community here forever and are doing again now. Look at these rad contemporary and historical examples of folks shifting paradigms right here in our home town. And there is much room for growth!! Many people I converse with crave something new, fun, refreshing, intersectional, sex positive and more worldly. Our Scandinavian ancestors refrained, contained, repressed for their own reasons. I own my privilege as I write this and want more for myself and my home.

Here is a time to warm up our ideas and let them grow, flourish, multiply, become ultra beautiful. Here is the time to inspire ourselves and the people we love by how we love. Let’s do it differently. I start with myself and work my way out, drawing circles into my community. Imagining love that is whole, powerful, radical, and full of joy+ease.

Explore with me Duluth. We get to choose our thoughts, beliefs and well being. How we do relationships, on of the absolutely most delicious parts of being alive, too. See me in partnership with myself first. And you, beautiful you, second. Damn that’s hot.


I Am Fun to Have Sex With

Spring Equinox