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Friday, May 29, 2015

A Slowly Simmering Love

From Full Marriage Equality:
I grew up in Michigan near lots of rivers and lakes, which has been a lot of fun for me because most of my hobbies involve being outside. [...] My childhood was pretty typical. I had a Mom and Dad, two younger sisters, and a younger full brother. "Ryan", my older half-brother, lived with his mother. My Dad had signed over his rights to him. Ryan's mother's husband at the time adopted him and he moved to another state when I was still very young. I was a nerd in school because I wore rock t-shirts and ripped-up jeans. I kind of got picked on for it until the punk rock revival we had and I started playing in bands as a bass player. [...] I've [been] operating heavy machinery for five years now. I'm kind of a tomboy.
[...] Ryan and I are currently in a relationship and hoping to get married in the fall. Since our father is not on either one of our birth certificates we may have found our loophole for that.
[...] We did not meet for the first time, really, until about 15 years ago. He's seen me as a baby, but I have no memory of that, of course. [...] His mother made it really hard to get a hold of him, but eventually he got one of my letters and he was able to arrange a visit here. I was excited about meeting my brother. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to fall so in love with him at first sight. I didn't say anything about it, fearing he would be offended or grossed out. After a week, he went home. I didn't find out until years later he had felt the exact same way I did.
[...] One night last October we were talking [on Facebook] about past relationships and how they were horrible; talking about all the things we had in common. He asked me why there couldn't be any cool girls like me where he was and something in me just snapped and I figured, "What the Hell?" and went for it. It wasn't like we ever saw each other in person. I wanted to finally know if it was just me who wanted this once and for all, so I typed "We could you know..." leaving it wide open. He bit. A month later I was picking him up at the bus station and sharing our first kiss in the terminal.  We've been together every day ever since. I had even gotten him a job working with me before I had to quit.
[...] I have never had any feelings like this for any other family member. [...] I think my feelings for Ryan might have been made possible because we didn't grow up together. I have heard the term Genetic Sexual Attraction before, and that might be it. I don't know.  The way I feel about him I think it's possible we might have ended up together any way. When I asked Ryan about it he said he'd like to think so.
[...] I wouldn't describe our sexual relationship as kinky whatsoever. It's passionate and very loving. Neither one of us have ever been kinky. In fact, I have been called vanilla in the sack. I took that as a polite way to say I was boring. I like to think of it as traditional. It is the best sexual relationship I have ever been in. I feel loved, respected and appreciated, where in other relationships I felt used. I want to spend the rest of my life with only him. I know he feels the same way.
There was a short time I thought a little about the taboo aspect of it and it bothered me a little but that was only because after confiding with my sister she told my Dad, he freaked out and disowned me. I got over it quickly and just didn't care what anyone thought about it anymore. I can't help who I love and nor do I wish too. [...] My dad has since gotten over it for the most part and has since apologized for how poorly he reacted and treated us.
[...] There were only a couple people we told initially, people we knew would accept us. I have a bisexual swinger friend, and she the first person we told. Also, a friend from work and his daughter who is also bi were people we told and were extremely supportive. My mother guessed it right away and told us she wasn't surprised because when he came to visit years ago she could see the chemistry even though we couldn't, really. The rest of the family knows because my dad told everyone. No one really talks about it and just ignores us, which is just fine with me. We never really talked to the rest of the family much any way.
[...] We act like a normal couple in public. We are beyond the point of caring what others think anymore. My home town is small and by now I'm sure most people I know have an idea of what's going on, but they don't say anything. [...] We haven't made it completely public, like on Facebook, yet. We want to, but are still a little leery of rubbing it in people's faces, so to speak. They will eventually find out when I post wedding pictures, if they hadn't found out by then.
[...] I think it's funny that someone would think one of us would be preying on the other. We are both well into adulthood, and had a lot of time to think about this before either one of us acted upon it. 15 years is a long time to contemplate something as big as this. Anyone who disapproves of my relationship can just keep to themselves. Their opinion could never change how we feel about each other. We aren't hurting anyone. [...] I'm sure if I tried hard enough, there would be plenty if things I didn't like about their lifestyle. I see a lot if people knocking others for doing what makes them happy. Maybe they should do more of what makes them happy? If you don't like it, ignore it.
[...] We don't have children and don't plan in having any, but if we did I think they would turn out just fine. I would not be worried about any birth defects. However, in the unlikely event we had children with birth defects, we would deal with it like any loving parents would and have. That type of thing happens to people not in consanguineous relationships, too.
[...] Our plans for the future are pretty exciting. My mother, Ryan, and I are planning on starting a business that centers around herbal healing as well as a library that's oriented around spiritual healing and the metaphysical. It was a dream my mother had with her fiance, who just recently died of cancer. We are planning a yearly benefits in his honor to fund the project and already have tons of people on board.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"The shocking moment a gay couple find out they’re half-brothers"

A few years ago, a same-sex couple went on the Jeremy Kyle show in the UK:

Paul and Lee appeared on the show so that they could take a DNA test to find out if they were related.
[...] But the couple, who said it was love at first sight when they eventually met in real life, were devastated to find out that they were actually half-brothers. The couple started to suspect they could be half-brothers after Lee took Paul home to meet his parents.
Members of his family started to remark that Paul looked a lot like his mum Ena’s ex-husband Ron – a man who Lee had no idea even existed up until then. It also turned out that Paul had the same surname as Ron while Ena later admitted to Lee that he did have a secret half-brother. Paul was taken into care when he was 18-months-old and adopted when he was three.
Kyle asked Lee: ‘You are having a physical sexual relationship with a man that you love and want to marry and at some point somebody might tell you that he could be your half-brother – what does that do to you?’
‘It makes me sick. It makes me basically horrible. I can’t describe it,’ he replied.
‘What’s the worst case scenario if it turns out you are brothers?’ Paul answered: ‘I’m hoping that it’s not true because I love you so much it’s unreal.’
Kyle then read out a statement from Ron where he revealed that he has four children including one called Paul who was taken into care. Lee’s mum said in her own statement that she would be ‘happy’ if Paul turned out to be her long lost son.
Paul ran off crying after the DNA test proved they were half-brothers. Lee said: ‘I’ve gained a half-brother. I told him I’ll be there for him.’ Paul added: ‘I just basically want to get to know you more as a brother.’
[...] Paul and Lee appeared on the show in 2012 and have since told Kyle that they are still close as brothers and have moved on with their lives.
I will never understand why people go on these shows. I looked it up, and it turns out that people don’t even get paid to appear on the show, they just get their expenses covered. I don’t see how a free hotel and a free DNA test are worth having your dirty laundry aired in public, especially when it’s potentially this damaging.

I’m glad that they managed to establish some kind of relationship, and didn’t let this revelation destroy them. Things like this happen all the time.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Kissing Cousins ... and Sisters and Brothers"

This is a good article. The attitude is positive, even if some of the things the author says are problematic.
When Melissa, an administrative assistant in a law firm who’s in her 20s, met an older woman named Lisa a few years ago, it was love at first sight. The two have been in a relationship ever since but know that marriage is out of the picture. And it’s not because they are lesbian. It’s because they are mother and daughter.
Incest is still society’s deepest-rooted sexual taboo, mainly because the word is so often associated with rape and inbreeding. But consensual incest exists, and cases like Melissa’s — who discovered Lisa, a personal trainer, was her biological mother only after the West Coasters had started dating — pose their own host of ethical dilemmas, including some we may finally be ready to discuss.
So far, so good.
It wasn’t that long ago when homosexuality and sadomasochism were also considered taboo. These days, though, Hollywood’s offerings are packed with homoerotic imagery and commuters are happy to crack open a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey on the morning train to the office. So if pop culture is anything to go by (and when isn’t it?), there are some signs that romantic love between family members is slowly becoming less socially outrageous. Look no further than HBO’s Game of Thrones — which explicitly portrays sex between a brother and sister — or scenes of a mother and son going at it in Boardwalk Empire.
Yeesh. I would hardly hold up Boardwalk Empire. It's clearly understood in the show that Tommy's relationship with his mother is unhealthy and not truly consensual. She is emotionally manipulative and abusive. I would hope that people can tell the difference between consent and abuse. Try The Borgias or something.
In many cases, experts warn, incest destroys families and hurts people’s ability to trust others and form healthy relationships. So while consensual incest does exist, “legalizing it would be too risky because it may incentivize it,” says Dr. Karin Meiselman, a psychologist who specializes in treating incest cases.
For people like Sarah, however, the social stigma feels grossly exaggerated. The 27-year-old journalist from London recalls with a smile the time she and her cousin had sex after a birthday party. “Nothing about it felt wrong,” she says. “We were adults, we both wanted it and we are still friends. What’s wrong with that?”
That's a pretty weak refutation of such hyperbole. Yes, I agree with "Sarah's" point, but it's not enough. Where's the broader context? Where's the challenge to the baseless logic of that psychologist's assertions? I wasn't under the impression that Spain or the Netherlands were cesspits of child rape. People talk as though it's never been legalized before. It's been legalized here, in the United States. So, all of these people are supposed to suffer under state oppression because some psychologist thinks child rapists take their cue from the government?
Science doesn’t have a clear answer. Humans are wired to develop a sexual aversion toward close family members to avoid inbreeding, some research shows, but that mechanism is usually triggered by growing up together. So when family members don’t meet until they’re adults, attraction is actually pretty common. “Imagine meeting someone who has your exact predilection for spicy food or music, which is likely since you share that much genetic material,” explains Debra Lieberman, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has done extensive research on incest aversion. “We need to start asking if it’s OK to limit someone’s freedom just because we have a ‘yuck’ response to it.”
The German Ethics Council agrees. Last year, this independent body of experts called for an end to the criminalization of incest between siblings and argued that, even if rare (it touches only 5 percent of siblings), it isn’t appropriate for criminal law to preserve a social taboo. France will soon add the word “incest” back into its penal code to label sexual abuse within the family (French legislators had stopped using the term two centuries ago), but the decision doesn’t change any of the pre-existing laws condemning rape. Consensual incest is still legal in the land of baguettes.
Governments have long used two arguments to criminalize consensual incest — risk of inbreeding and damage to the family — but societal changes may be chipping away at both of these stances. While couples who are close relatives do have a higher chance of having children with severe birth defects, today there are many effective ways to avoid pregnancies, or to get pregnant using a third person’s genetic material. The need to protect the traditional family structure may also become less relevant as society changes. When one case of consensual incest between a stepfather and stepdaughter was brought to the Supreme Court in 2007, the judges ruled it should remain illegal because it harmed the family. But J. Dean Carro, the lawyer who defended the incestuous couple says, “We were ahead of our time, but legalization will happen because such cases will become more common.”
She accidentally manages to make the gradual normalizing of consanguinamory seem somewhat menacing. It throws in consanguinamory with BDSM, and while I'm fine with people doing what they want in their bedroom, consanguinamory isn't just another kind of "kink". (50 Shades of Grey isn't a positive portrayal of BDSM, either.)

I don’t know if the various sibling dynasties throughout history would’ve considered themselves radical or destructive to the structure of the family. And I don’t think there’s any reason to see them as that, if you actually look at what happened. And I don't think any couple now would see themselves that way. Plenty of the long-term consanguineous relationships I've seen are pretty conservative: man and woman, 2.5 kids, monogamous, man works while the woman takes care of the household. Many of them are Republicans. Some are even Christians. (There are plenty of military veterans among them as well.)

They don't see themselves as trying to destroy traditional family, except that they don't care for the part of tradition that demands exogamy. In fact, such relationships are usually hyper-stable (in the absence of ridiculous outside pressure), for the same reason consanguineous mating sometimes happens in nature: two kinds of love equals twice the bond, but still an unconditional one. (In nature, closely related mates treat each other better, and better protect their mutual children.) If it's a threat to "traditional family", it's only because family has recently been defined so rigidly and narrowly that any deviation is perceived as an attack on its foundation. And as far as that last quote, there will be more cases, but only because people are getting fed up with the status quo.

As well intentioned as the whole thing is, I'm not sure what demographic she's trying to convince. I do think it's a step in the right direction, but we're going to need stronger arguments than "the destruction of the traditional family is inevitable." At most, it just points out to people that it is real, and it's an issue.

Anyway, Melissa and Lisa seem familiar. Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"How Polyamory Became More Mainstream than Peanut Butter"

"Polyamory in the News" recently published a post about the polyamorous activist and blogger Cunning Minx and her recent lecture on polyamory becoming mainstream.
When the histories are written of how the polyamory movement sprouted and grew and changed the world's assumptions about relationships — as I think is becoming inevitable — the list of people in our time who made it happen will certainly include Cunning Minx, the indefatigable creator of the Polyamory Weekly podcast. She's been hard at it for ten years this spring. She is not only entertaining and a fine listen, she's smart, forthright, and an exemplar of our best attitudes and values. In recent years she's branched out into giving seminars and classes, and last year she published perhaps the best short book for poly newbies: Eight Things I Wish I'd Known About Polyamory Before I Tried It and Frakked It Up. Last weekend she gave the keynote talk at Loving More's Rocky Mountain Poly Living conference in Denver. She spoke on the movement's history and future. I wished I was there, and maybe you did too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Accidental Study

So I found an interesting thread on a message board geared at straight women and marriage. Not exactly the most radical environment, I think y’all would agree. Well, apparently interesting things happen everywhere.
Okay so, I don’t mean to be creepy by posting this on here, but I’m just kind of shocked. I never thought of this as something I’d hear from one of my friends who is actually engaged. One of my friends actually just told me yesterday that she has fantasized about sex with her brother and would have sex with him if he was into it… I’m kind of speechless to be honest. I don’t have a brother, so, I guess I wouldn’t have any experience with even having a brother, however all my friends when i was a kid had brothers and I always thought of them as my brothers too, and I know I would never think of having sex with them. You don’t have to answer in a post since I’m posting a poll but I would like to know if any of you have ever thought seriously about having sex with your sibling. She and I are fairly close, and I just wanna know if I should recommend she see a psychologist about this. She wouldn’t be offended, since I know she would do the same for me if she thought I was a little off about something.
Naturally most of the comments are negative, and a bunch of them recommend that she tell her friend to see a therapist if her friend actually tries to consummate her desire. A few are, while not totally accepting, at least tolerant, and tell her to let her friend think and do what she wants in private.

As you can see from the poll, though, there were a few “others” amongst them.
I knew a girl back in high school who slept with her brother. I was totally clueless at the time because c’mon!? Who thinks their friend is doing it with their brother!? I was totally taken by surprise when I found out.
[...] Well I stayed over at her house for a sleepover and they were getting drunk. She was totally smashed and started accusing me of hitting on her brother. He was also pretty hammered and was rambling on about how none of her boyfriends would ever treat her as well as he did. At first I was like what the heck is going on, what are they talking about?? It was as if they were having a couples argument. I had slept over at her house many times before and never noticed anything wierd but they were acting strange even before we started to party. Well we finally go to bed and late in the night he comes into her room and he sneeks out to his room right across the hallway. They were drunk so it was loud as hell and woke me up or I would never had noticed. Needless to say I heard them. I was so blown away and disgusted!!! She finally came back to her room and went to sleep. I couldnt sleep a wink after that. I was doing mental gymnastics trying to cope with what happened.
Of course like a typical teenager I HAD to tell someone so I told a mutual friend of ours and they ever so casually implied I was the only one who DIDNT know. I was not the first to notice they did that kinda stuff. WTF!
And another:
Eww. No way! I went to high school with a brother and sister who I’m pretty sure slept with each other. I saw them at a party once… She was sitting on his lap and they were kissing. It was disturbing!
And then there’s this, which is common, and while psychologically understandable, a really annoying mindset among many in the community:
I spoke with my friend today, and she actually told me that she doesn’t think it would be cheating if it was just sex with her brother. She said she has “sisterly love” for him, and wouldn’t ever want to marry him, but she would love to have sex with him. I just. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to understand this lol.
People jump pretty quickly into making comparisons between consanguinamory and things like sexual fetishes for plants. They don’t seem to understand the difference between consensual sex between two adult humans, and rubbing your genitals on a plant. It wasn’t intended maliciously, but it’s still pretty obnoxious.

The numbers from the poll are pretty close to what little data’s been collected, and I find them pretty plausible. You can see about 9% of the women responding say they’ve had some sort of sexual fantasy about their brother, though only a fraction of those have consummated it in any way. I couldn’t help but laugh when I first saw this, because it’s a nice little accidental study. The sample size is even pretty large.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Our Coming Incest Debate"

This piece of analysis is great. I'm seeing a subtle shift in writing on these issues toward something more rational and nuanced. It gives me hope for the future.
As the "traditional marriage" forces have been in retreat, both legally and rhetorically, there's an argument we haven't heard as much as we did a few years ago: that if you allow gay people to get married, then the same logic will demand that we also allow incest marriages and polygamous marriages. Today, Kent Greenfield grapples with it here at the Prospect; go read his piece, then come back and I'll tell you what I think about this.
My hunch is that the reason the incest argument has faded is that the anti-equality forces never gave it all that much thought in the first place. It was just something outside the prevailing definition of marriage that they thought would sound crazy to everyone, so they tossed it out there. The basic argument was that once you "change the definition of marriage," you'll be changing it to accommodate any preference anybody had. A man will marry his brother! A woman will marry her cat! A cat will marry a gerbil! (Bill O'Reilly is, for some reason, particularly troubled by the thought of interspecies marriage. Perhaps he doth protest too much?)
The reality is that we've changed the definition of marriage many times before when the definition was no longer in accord with our contemporary values (for instance, women who get married are now no longer their husband's property, and people of different races are allowed to get married), and one more change doesn't mean that there are no more limits whatsoever. As people became more comfortable with this particular change, the idea that it would necessitate other changes for which no one was advocating didn't have much persuasive power.
But more importantly, what the debate over marriage equality exposed is that the status quo definition of marriage never had much of a rationale behind it in the first place. It was just how we did things, and few people gave it much thought. When opponents of same-sex marriage were forced to define the rationale for the status quo, the best thing they could come up with was that marriage is only about procreation, a justification that falls apart on a moment's consideration (after all, we don't forbid postmenopausal women from marrying).
The debate also exposed that the anti-equality forces were completely unable to articulate a harm that could spring from gay people being allowed to marry. They offered some vague ideas about "devaluing" heterosexual marriages, but as the court in the Proposition 8 case found, there was nothing to them. In the end, since no one was able to show a demonstrable harm from gay marriages, no one was able to prove they had the legal standing to act as a party against such marriages, and that was where the case in favor of Prop. 8 fell apart.
That's where we come to incest and polygamy. As Greenfield describes, the case for the societal harm coming from incest and polygamy isn't all that strong. Even though many polygamous arrangements are terribly coercive, you can certainly conceive of ones that wouldn't be. If we wanted to, there might be a way to restructure the law to allow, say, three consenting adults who wanted to join in a union to do so, while still forbidding Warren Jeffs-style nightmares.
And yes, there's a nearly universal taboo against incest, and if forced to answer why that is, you'd probably respond that incestual relationships produce offspring with birth defects. How often would that actually happen? I doubt there's much data on the topic, since it's so rare. And what if a brother and sister in their 50s wanted to get married? It would be hard to say what harm would come from it. Yes, Joffrey Baratheon is a monster, but given the limitations of genetic analysis in Westeros, we don't know whether that's a result of his unusual parentage. And beyond the occasional tossing of a young boy out a window, who's really harmed by Jamie and Cersei's love?
To be clear, I'm not coming out in favor of incest and polygamy. But rolling these questions around, you begin to realize that it isn't something we've thought too much about. For the first time in our lifetimes, we're having an extended national debate on what marriage is for, as our own E.J. Graff put it. The answers can lead us to some uncomfortable places.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Another Couple Who Would Marry If They Could

From Full Marriage Equality:
[...] I am 23. I work in a professional job and live in the UK. I am in a relationship with my mother who is 47. We have a loving and fulfilling relationship. The sexual part of our relationship has developed gradually over the last four years or so. I am an only child so we are each other’s only immediate family.
[...] I am not married. I have had girlfriends in the past but, I would describe my relationship with my mother as the most important in my life. I was a virgin until the first time we had sex. My father died four years ago. Since then, my mother has not had any other man in her life. We both feel the need for our relationship to be permanent and we feel that it would help if we were able to make a lifetime commitment through marriage.
[...] I had what I suppose was an ordinary childhood. My father was quite successful with his own business so we had a good standard of living. My mother and father’s marriage was quite strained. He spent a lot of time away from home and they did not have a good relationship. My mother has told me that because of this, that the connection between them had weakened over time. Their marriage could be quite volatile. I believe that my father was violent towards my mother although she has never told me about the details of that.
I didn’t have a difficult relationship with my father growing up but I would not describe us as close. I was always very close to my mother. I think that was probably to be expected as we spent a lot of time together with just the two of us. When my father came home, it sometimes felt like he was intruding in our relationship. I never talked about that with my mother but I think we both sensed that. We were much more relaxed and close when it was just the two of us. There was definitely a special bond between us. I didn’t recognize it at the time but I think we were closer than most parents and children are. At least there was maybe an aspect to our relationship that was different.
[...] When I was younger, we were affectionate towards each other but in a way that I suppose would be expected. She would hug me and kiss me but not in a way that people would find unusual. She was just a loving mother. I was comfortable with it and I’m glad that I had that as a youngster. My parents weren’t that way together. It was something that was exclusive to the two of us.
Growing up, when my father was away, my mother would ask me to sleep in her bed sometimes. There was nothing overtly sexual in that. We would both be wearing clothing. We would cuddle, but that was it. Of course it never happened when my father was at home and he didn’t know about it, nor did I ever tell anyone. I suppose sleeping in your mother’s bed is not something that the average teenage boy talks to other people about.
I went off to university when I was 18 and so obviously we spent less time together from that point onwards. [...] My father died when I was 19. I didn’t feel a huge sense of loss as we had quite a distant relationship, although obviously it was still a shock for both me and my mother. I missed a term at university because I felt she needed me at home with her.
She asked me to go back to sleeping in her bed with her during that time as she didn’t want to be alone. It was then that it began. I think that I would say it was spontaneous. My mother has told me that she wanted it to happen but also that she only allowed it to happen when it felt right. I certainly don’t think she forced it but perhaps it was inevitable with us sleeping together that way.
It developed over a period of months. Each time I came home for a few days we would sleep together in her bed. It became normal for us. We would hold each other and that led to us touching each other in a way which became intimate. It was comforting and there was a natural affection between us.
[...] Our relationship has moved on a long way since in sexual terms. We went on holiday together when I finished university and it was during that period that it went further. We stayed in a hotel, although we did use separate rooms. Perhaps the change in environment or situation had something to do with it. We did things during those days that were different to the way we had been before. We held hands in public, which must have looked slightly strange because of our obvious age difference. I think being in a different country made us less self-conscious. We got quizzical looks from people but we knew that nobody would assume that we were related in any way, so it felt less difficult.
On one afternoon we went back to the hotel and we lay on the bed in her room. We were holding each other and we began kissing. [...] It was when we returned home that we had full sex for the first time. We have continued to have sex about twice a week ever since then.
[...] It wasn’t something that I had ever thought about before it happened. The sexual part of our relationship grew gradually and it felt instinctive. I responded to what was happening, I didn’t contemplate it or plan it. I don’t think either of us did. To me, it was inevitable so there wouldn’t have been any point in worrying about whether it was right or wrong.
[...] We live together in a way in which we are both comfortable with. We both work and have quite demanding jobs. At the end of each day we have the privacy of our home in which we can nurture and support each other. There is still a part of our relationship in which the dynamic of mother and son exists. I would say that is something that we both cherish. But far more important to us is the fact that we are a loving couple. We both like exploring the sexual element of our life together, but that is only one part of our life. We value the fact that we are lovers in an emotional sense. That is the most important aspect of our life together.
[...] We value our privacy very much. We don’t feel the need to share our life together with anyone else. My mother has confided in a woman who is a lifelong friend. She is the only person that knows about us. We know that we can trust her. Her attitude toward us is that we have a right to our happiness. My mother confided in her at around the time that we began having sex. She felt the need to talk to somebody outside of our relationship about what was happening. She wasn't looking for approval or even advice, but she needed to anchor her thoughts and feelings by talking to a person who would have a different perspective.
[...] Our relationship is totally consensual. This is the relationship that we both want. Other people’s opinions are irrelevant to us in that sense. We are in love. That will not change no matter what anyone else might say or think.
[...] We would like to be legally married. That would be important to us. We both have some insecurities. My mother worries about our age difference, even though that doesn’t matter to me. I want to know that I am the most important person in her life and I sometimes feel jealous of the life that she had with my father. My mother has told me that she loves me romantically more than she did him and that she enjoys sex with me much more than she did with him. She wants to give herself to me completely and I want to reassure her that my feeling and need for her won’t change. We feel that being married legally would be a statement to each other. We feel frustrated that we are denied the chance to make that statement.
[...] As long as a relationship is consensual then why should they be involved in another person’s decision about a relationship of any sort? [...] I am in a relationship with someone that I love and who loves me. That isn’t going to change.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

"Child Custody Issues for Polyamorous Families"

This is a great piece on dealing with CPS when you're polyamorous. (Part of this apply to other minority family structures as well.)
Sexual minorities have traditionally fared poorly in court when family members (often an ex-spouse or parent/grandparent) or institutional representative from Child Protective Services challenge their custody of their children. Years of legal precedent have painstakingly established precedent recognizing lesbians and gay men as legitimate parents who are sometimes afforded legal rights similar to those of heterosexual parents. No such precedent exists for polyamorous families, to my knowledge.
I am an expert witness in custody cases related to polyamory and a Guardian Ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocate, NOT A LAWYER. What follows is not legal advice, simply my expert opinion based on my research on polyamorous families and experience with the family legal system.
When polys and other sexual minorities are embroiled in family litigation, it matters a lot which judge gets the case, in which court, and how the judge feels about the lawyers. The judge has quite a bit of latitude in family court and is ultimately driven by what the judge determines to be in the best interest of the child. If the judge feels deeply that polyamory is sinful and harmful to children's moral fitness, then no amount of discussion of the loving environment and wonders of pooled resources will sway that opinion. 
If, however, the judge is open to hearing about the possibility that unconventional families can be good settings for raising kids, there are a number of useful things you can do.
1) Get an educated or open-minded lawyer who has dealt with consensual non-monogamy or at least sexual minority families. For useful referrals, check out the Kink Aware Professionals listed on the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom website, because they are often knowledgeable about polyamory as well.
>2) Ask your lawyer if they know an open-minded Guardian Ad Litem in case you need a home assessment, it will be useful to have an option to suggest rather than have to go with the GAL the other side finds. Much like the judge, a GAL that has decided unconventional sexuality is inherently evil will certainly find that it is problematic for the child’s environment. If you don’t have to have a home assessment it would not necessarily be a great idea to bring it up on your own, unless your lawyer thinks a proactive evaluation would be useful in your case. But if the other side brings it up, having a GAL to suggest can make a huge difference.
3) Keep your living environment clean and well stocked with food in case you get a surprise visit from Child Protective Services (CPS). Be sure to put sex toys, pornography, and anything else that would be in appropriate for kids away where children cannot reach it. If CPS does come to your home, let them in right away. Be courteous and answer their questions honestly, but do not elaborate unless asked. In a previous blog on this site I discuss considerations around coming out as polyamorous to CPS workers or not . You may ask the CPS representative questions as well, such as what complaint brought them to your home, as well as the representative’s identifying and contact information.
4) Strategize about what to tell the kiddo(s). Some parents come out with the truth and help the kid understand that there are some private things that people only do or talk about at home or in private (ie. walk around naked, say swear words, talk about private stuff) and other things that are ok to do or talk about in the world, at school, or with grandma and grandpa. This works if the kid understands it as a private issue and not something shameful, just not for others to hear about. If this instead translates to a secret the kid has to keep, then that can be a difficult burden for some kids to bear. Other kids have no problem with the concept of privacy and do not feel it as a secret burden they have to keep. It depends on the kid and the circumstances they encounter with adults. That is the sticky point, because if the grandma or the ex-spouse makes a big deal out of it and badgers the kid about it then it does become a burden for the kid to keep the secret. In those cases, it can be better for the kid not to know so they don’t have to keep the secret. You can just be roommates who share expenses, and no need for more details than that. If the ex really wants to know, and the kid has no info other than you all are friends, then the ex will have to ask you directly. That is much better than having the kid in the middle, because it keeps adult information among the adults. That can be important when you argue that the adult sexuality is not impacting the child because it is kept separate from the kid. So how much information to give the kid depends on how old the kid is, how much time they spend around the poly family, how much the other parent/ex might badger the kid for information, and the personality of the child. Your family should discuss it among the adults and decide what to say if the question comes up.
5) Provide your lawyer with some resources if necessary. Both the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (link is external) and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance (link is external)advocate for sexual minority families and can provide useful resources. With Mark Goldfeder, I co-authored an article in the Journal of Law and Social Deviance (link is external) that debunks legal myths about polyamorous families, and my website offers a free copy (link is external) of that article. My first book, The Polyamorists Next Door (link is external), details my 15-year study of poly families with kids. It is not a purely optimistic report, but it does ultimately decide that poly families, warts and all, can be great for kids. Also, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli wrote a great book (link is external) about her research on polyamorous families' experiences with schools in Australia that might be useful too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Complicated Situation

This was an exchange on Tumblr. It is exactly the kind of situation that modern society imposes on people. None of them should even be in this situation, but society forces them to make sacrifices they shouldn't have to make.

I have a question, if that's okay. My partner and I are just starting out as poly and he wants to have a relationship with his sister and myself. I've know about their relationship before but it sounded more like it was experimental teen stuff but it turns out he really loves her, and I don’t want to stop him from being with his sister, but she doesn’t really want to be poly. For their happiness, should I let them be a couple? I just really love him, it’s been hard even accepting it.
This is a tough situation. While poly works for some its definitely not for all. It sounds like in your situation it wouldn't work well. It seems like he wants to be poly because he wants to be with you but also with his sister. You want to be with him and are willing to go with it for him, and she wants him all to herself. There is nothing wrong with the 2 of them together, but for most people it is hard to wrap their head around the reality of siblings together. But as for the problem at hand, the only one who seems like they win in the situation is him, you feel like you need to back off, she wants him to herself, neither of you would be happy with the situation. Sounds like he needs to make a decision.
100%. It’s his responsibility to sort things out and figure out what he actually wants. I would bet that he also likes the idea of having an official, “acceptable” girlfriend that he can show to his parents and take places, while still being able to be together with his sister. If so, that’s incredibly unfair to both of them. If he wants to be with his sister, he should be willing to make the sacrifices that she’d have to make to be with him.
Ideally, people should be free to consent with understanding of what is going on. A polyamorous relationship in which your metamour is your lover’s relative almost always means your bond will not be as strong. I know this from personal experience, but the important thing is that I was willing. Some people, including experienced polyamorous people, do not want to be in that situation and that’s OK. It is OK to say “this won’t or doesn’t work for me.” Either way, it is a matter of what you need and what you have to offer.

"New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You"

LifeScience did a great piece on ethical non-monogamy:
Now, social scientists embarking on brand-new research into these types of relationships are finding that they may challenge the ways we think of jealousy, commitment and love. They may even change monogamy for the better.
"People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death," said Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. All of that negotiation may hold a lesson for the monogamously inclined, Holmes told LiveScience.
"They are potentially doing quite a lot of things that could turn out to be things that if people who are practicing monogamy did more of, their relationships would actually be better off," Holmes said.
[...] [L]ittle is yet known about who participates in consensual nonmonogamy and why. Research is largely limited to self-report and surveys, in which people can be tempted to present themselves in a positive light. There are, however, some key definitions to understand. Consensual nonmonogamy contains multitudes. It includes sex-only arrangements, such as two committed partners agreeing that they're allowed to seek no-strings-attached sex with other people. It also includes polyamory, which involves multiple committed relationships at once with the consent and knowledge of everyone involved.
Consensual nonmonogamy does not include cheating, in which one partner steps out without the permission of the other.
While there are no national statistics on consensual nonmonogamy, University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley has estimated that about 5 percent of Americans are in one of these types of relationships at any given time. From the little data collected, scientists know lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are slightly more likely than heterosexuals to enter nonmonogamous relationships, said Amy Moors, a graduate student in Conley's lab. So, it seems, are people high in the personality trait of openness, which indicates high interest in new experiences.
So far, studies suggest that polyamorous individuals are well-educated, holding more master's and doctoral degrees than the general population, said Champlain's Holmes, who is conducting ongoing research of an online sample of more than 5,000 polyamorous individuals. Despite their smarts, they're not particularly wealthy.
[...] One thing that seems to unite the polyamorous community is a real enthusiasm for digging into emotions. Honesty, openness and communication are cornerstones for polyamorous relationships, Holmes has found.
It's this intensive conversation that might be wise for monogamous couples to emulate, Holmes said. His work also suggests that basic emotions work very differently in polyamorous relationships.
Take jealousy. Ask a polyamorous person [how they'd feel if their partner had sex with or fell in love with someone else], and they're more likely to tell you they'd be thrilled. It's a concept called "compersion," which means the joy felt when a partner discovers love outside of you. It's similar to the feeling the typical person might get after finding out their best friend scored her dream job, Holmes said. But in this case, the happiness stems from a lover's external relationships.
That finding challenges much of what traditional psychological research has established about how jealousy works.
[...] In another example of polyamorous people potentially turning typical psychological reactions upside-down, Holmes conducted a preliminary analysis of about 200 polyamorous people, asking them about feelings of jealousy. Typically, he said, you'd expect to see that women are more anxious about emotional infidelity, while men worry more about sexual infidelity. That wasn't the case among the polyamorous individuals. In fact, there were no gender differences in rates of sexual and emotional jealousy to be found.
None of this suggests that polyamorous people are somehow immune to jealousy, Holmes said. But when jealously does occur, it's discussed. The person feeling jealous is encouraged to examine their own psyche to find out what's bothering them and which of their needs aren't being met. Then the pair (or triad, or quad) can negotiate boundaries.
[...] The University of Michigan's Moors has found that people who cheat on their partners sexually are less likely to engage in safe sex while doing so than are people in consensual nonmonogamous relationships.
[...] There are many open questions left about polyamory and other nonmonogamous arrangements, but research is picking up, Holmes said. This weekend, the first International Academic Polyamory Conference is being held in Berkeley, Calif. The Internet has likely boosted interest in polyamory, said Sheff, who is working on a book about polyamorous families.
"The Internet has revolutionized things for sexual minorities in general," Sheff told LiveScience. "It offers people a way to find out about it, and it offers people a way to find partners."
That last point is relevant for consanguinamorous people as well. Exogamous homosexuals are, by nature of being exogamous, driven to make contact with each other and form communities in ways that endogamous couples are not. Without the internet, most consanguinamorous people would likely still think that they are literally the only ones in their city, let alone the world. The internet has been a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

They Would Marry Today If They Could

From Full Marriage Equality:
I am 29 years old. [...] I am Native American/American Indian [...]. [...] I was adopted by my grandmother on my mother’s side, and her husband, at the time of my birth. My biological mother was 13 when she gave birth to me and was not ready to care for a child. Growing up, I was raised like an only child but had many siblings. I was homeschooled for a time in elementary school, but returned to public school shortly. I enjoyed time with my parents and my much older siblings who looked after me. I also had two “aunts” who were drag queens who took me shopping. I was encouraged to use my imagination, to embrace people with understanding, acceptance, and love; love people for who they are.

[...] I am in a romantic and sexual relationship with my [...] genetic half-[brother]. We have the same mother. [...] We did not grow up together. I have but one memory of us being in the same room together. We were not raised together because I was adopted and he was raised by his dad. Our biological mom was not able to raise either of us at the time. We were reunited at the end of 2006. I searched for him on MySpace, messaging every guy who had his name until I found him.

[...] When I first found him I did think “DAMN he is sexy” so it was instantaneous for me. I didn’t say anything because, well, how do you say that to your brother? I didn’t know it would turn out like this; it was gradual. We talked off and on for years, but this year we started talking every day, all day. We talked about everything, not as like a sister and brother talk, but as best friends or lovers talk.

It isn’t really clear who made the first move because we were both hinting to each other the whole time. Our relationship remained online for a while until we met in-person. When I saw him, I knew all I had been feeling was real. When I kissed him, it confirmed it even more. When we went to the hotel and made love for the first time it felt more right, more amazing than anything I ever experienced. After, I didn’t have the thought of “OH NO, I just had sex with my brother.” There was no feelings of it being weird or wrong. It just felt right, it felt pure, it felt meant to be.

When he first kissed me, I kinda attacked him. I wanted to be closer. I wanted more. Our first kiss was in the car in the airport parking lot and I crawled half way over the seat getting to him. [...] Due to my past I never felt comfortable during sex, but with him, I was free, open. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t scared. I wanted to feel more of him, and I wanted to give him all of me. I am a writer, so forgive me for my cheesiness, but the first time he kissed me, the first time we made love, the first time I looked into his eyes, and still today, the world goes black, spins, and there is nothing but us.

[...] I think I always knew it was possible and enjoyable because I watch TV, I read, so I had heard of things like this before, but never thought it would be possible for me to be with him. From the moment I saw him, saw his picture, I felt something inside me scream and beg for him to be mine. I didn’t think it was possible because I thought I would be rejected by him, but I am happy I was wrong. I never had feelings like this for other family members. I can say I have thought some of my family members, men and woman, boys and girls, were attractive, but I never thought of them, or felt for them, like I do for him. There is something inside me that is drawn to him on another level, something about him that pulls me to him.
[...] What we have now, I consider to be a marriage. I feel we have been together our entire lives but our anniversary is [not that long ago]. We are currently in the process of buying a house together, so we can live together. I see him as my lover, my best friend, my husband. I get a little defensive when people call him my brother because he is so much more than that to me, because I don’t want people to think my love for him is sisterly; it is more.

[...] Our biological mom has been supportive. We told her first, and we told her together. Most of the people who know have been nasty towards us. Mostly his ex-wife’s family and his friends who are friends with her. Other people who are friends with both of us have been supportive. We have little support and a lot trying to pick apart our relationship, our love, calling us “sick”, saying we need therapy. It is more negative than positive but we are working through it. We do act like a couple in public, when we are alone or are around supportive family, like our bio mom. Most of the time, it is just natural for us to act that way, holding hands and being loving. Everyone knows we are related, but I am sure when we move we will have friends who only know us as a couple. We have not taken any steps to keep our privacy because we are at a point now where we don’t care; we want our love shouted from the roof tops.

[...] Hiding our relationship is hard; we couldn’t even hide it from our biological mom. The way we look at each other, the way we talk, the way we act, it’s natural and obvious even when we try to hide it. We know sometimes we might have to hide it but even still, I don’t think we do a very good job. Hiding our relationship is not something I like doing because it makes me feel as though we are acting like we are ashamed, or we feel wrong, and we don’t.

[...] Just because you do not agree with the way we live our lives does not mean you should force your way of life, or your beliefs on us. You do not have to believe as we do, but you can love us, accept us, for who we are. If someone were to say we were preying on each other I would laugh because we are grown adults and only two years apart. I did not force him, he did not force me, and we gave each other the permission to back out at any time without repercussion.

[...] I can’t think of anything that would make this wrong. I feel that you cannot help who you love and it doesn’t matter who you love, you should be able to be with that person and be happy. [...] I want to get married now. I am willing to put up with harassment, discrimination, and all the negatives. The only thing keeping us from being legally married is prosecution. [...] We plan to move in together and live as a couple and have a wedding ceremony. We’ll raise our children together. My children love him so much already and are very accepting. [...] This is a once in a lifetime love and I will do anything, go through anything, to keep it because it is worth it.

"Why polyamorous marriages are the next step to equality"

I love that polyamorous activists are finally coming out and making their arguments in public. The sudden wave of positive publicity for polyamory is a pleasant surprise.
In March I submitted the following question to Green Party leader Natalie Bennett for the Pink News Q&A:
“At present those in a ‘trio’ (a three-way relationship) are denied marriage equality, and as a result face a considerable amount of legal discrimination. As someone living with his two boyfriends in a stable long-term relationship, I would like to know what your stance is on polyamory rights. Is there room for Green support on group civil partnerships or marriages?”
Bennett’s response this weekend that she is ‘open’ to discussion on the topic has since made national news, with the BBC, Independent, Buzzfeed, Telegraph, and even the Daily Mail picking up on the story. It has been met by both sympathy and outrage: as I write this a Metro poll shows public support for polyamorous unions to be at 42%, the Mirror at 52%, whereas fundamentalist Christians have (predictably) announced it as a sign of the end times. Regardless of the response, it is the first time the prospect of legal polyamorous unions has been discussed by leading politicians and the mainstream press.
As a polyamorous activist and author, it’s an issue I’m very familiar with, and for me and my family, it’s one which affects many aspects of our lives. Our trio is happy and stable, but lacking basic legal protections the home we have built together could easily come under threat—unconventional families face discrimination in employment, services, and housing. If one of the men I love and have built my life with were to fall ill, I would have no right to visit him in hospital.
At the centre of the issue lies a fundamental inequality: monogamous relationships have legal rights and protections whilst nonmonogamous ones do not. Yet we have the opportunity for a straightforward solution: why not take the now-defunct concept of civil partnerships, and open them to polyamorous households? Each registered family would receive the same partnership rights as any other form of union, and be subject to the same obligations. Most importantly, it would provide legal recognition and protection to the increasing number of alternative households in Britain today.
For many this seems like a radical concept, and perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the arguments against it closely mirror those against same-sex relationships in general: that we’re unnatural, that our relationships are unstable and unhealthy [...], even that our love will invoke the wrath of a furious God. Simply replace ‘same-sex’ with ‘polyamorous’, and the whole debate looks painfully familiar.
In fact, LGBT communities have a long history of polyamory—one dating all the way back to Lord Byron and the Shelleys, continuing through to Harvey Milk and the Radical Faeries. A 2006 study showed that 28% of lesbians, a third of bisexuals, and almost two thirds of gay men are open to nonmonogamous relationships. As any polyamorous bond will automatically involve at least two men or two women, all feature some form of same-sex relationship. Polyamorous families are queer families.
At the same time, the arguments in favour of marriage for same-sex couples also apply to trios. Parents should not face losing custody of their children because they’re in a nonmonogamous relationship. Families shouldn’t risk losing their home because inheritance rights favour ‘traditional’ couples. No-one should suffer being barred from their partner’s funeral because their love isn’t recognised.
All loving, adult relationships are valid. As has often been argued during the long struggle for marriage rights, none of us choose whom we fall in love with. Our only choice lies in whether we stand up to discrimination, or ignore it. Gay or straight, lesbian or bi, monogamous or polyamorous, all of us deserve to live and love equally to one another. All of us deserve recognition under the law.
Yes, this will be a battle, but we’ve battled before. Yes, it seems a long way away, but twenty years ago the prospect of two husbands or two wives legally wedding one another seemed equally remote. Each new generation grows more open-minded, tolerant, and accepting than the one before, and I believe that we are sympathetic and capable enough to provide the legal protections polyamorous families need.
Right now we have a historic opportunity to ensure that equality is for all of us. Love is love, regardless of how many share it. A family is a family, whether it has two members or five. In the end, monogamous or not, all LGBT people deserve equal rights—and if the past decades have proved nothing else, it’s that we are very good at fighting for them.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"My boyfriend is my cousin"

I found a thread on a forum for the girlfriends, spouses, and female family of people in prison. This one blows my mind - not because I find it surprising, but because of how much people’s minds are blown.
I just found out that me & my boyfriend of 4 years are cousins i'm shocked i'm upset i'm sad I don't know what to do i've been having some problems with my roof so I told him that my cousin came out to check it for me he asked me what was my cousins name and I told him my cousins nick name he said that's funny I have a cousin who has that same nick name he said what does he look like and I told him he said how old is he and I told him and he said that's crazy because thats sound just like my cousin so we brushed it off and didn't pay it to much attention

so yesterday his mom called to wish me a happy thanksgiving  so we talked for a while then I asked her if she had a cousin name (BLANK) because I thought my bf was joking around well this time he was serious because she said yeah and i'm like hold up so then I start asking her did she know a couple of my family members she said yes and when I asked her did she know my mom she said yes your mother is my cousin my mouth hit the floor I said let me call you back so I can call my mom

well I called my mom and I told her the situation and I asked her did she know my bf's mother and when i told her my bf's mothers name she said oh my god we are related she said I  never met her children because I haven't seen her in years so at this point my mind is blank I hung up the phone and for the next couple of hours i felt like I was in a daze I don't know what to do he called me this morning and he was sick when i told him everything he is about to come home in a couple of weeks and his home plan is sent to my house we been together for four years but the thought of me sleeping with my cousin is  i don't know what to do I can't believe it
Welp, I understand how it might be shocking, but it’s not a big deal, nor is it so uncommon. They’re not even 1st-cousins; they’re at least 2nd-cousins. Very few places on Earth ban such marriages, let alone criminalize such unions.

People’s reactions, though...
you poor girl!! i don't believe in incest either but if you love the guy it would be really hard to cut those feelings off. i don't even know what advice to give you except to say, i'm so sorry!!!!
Whether anyone “believes” in it, it’s there. It’s already happened (by some people’s definition of “incest”). People need to be reassuring her, not consoling her.
Ok...theres OFFICIALLY nothing that can shock me on here anymore..
Im so sorry this happened to you. I could only imagine it would be hard to just cut it off...I dont know..I just hope it works out for ya!!
Really? This is the most shocking thing they’ve come across? I fear for their future sanity should they come across 1st-cousins kissing.
been there dont that and freaked way out! i went with my cousin 3 yrs before we found out. now we laugh about it.  we ended it when we found out but i can relate to what your going thru!
So she dated a man for 3 years, and after all that finding out they were somewhat related was enough to lead them to end the relationship? God... At least they’re happy and on good terms now. But still! What an overreaction!
I'm sorry for your seems like we're all related to someone in one way or another..... Honestly, that's why I date different races...cause there is a greater chance that I'm not related to them.....
That... I don’t even know what to make of that. Are black people who marry other black people more “incestuous” then? To choose one’s partner based on race purely to avoid the small chance you might have sex with a distant cousin? I never truly realized how much some people let the “incest” taboo run their lives.
OMFG. Girl I'm tryna pick my mouth up off the floor....All I can say is girl THAT SUCKS!!! omg. that sucks so bad...Like, how related are you? Blood? 1st cousins?? omg. I'm speechless. I'm soooo sorry b/c girl, that must suck so bad.
I still don’t get why it “sucks”.
WOW!! You poor girl.  That is messed up honey.  The only other thing that comes to mind (sounds crazy) is to determine the blood line in the event you choose to stay together and have a family.  There COULD be issues down the road thru your geneology and yes, it would take a genetic specialist to determine that.  Either way it goes, I wish you the best
I mean, yes, she should, but everyone should see a genetic specialist before having children, ideally. Why is everyone giving their condolences? It’s not like anyone’s died.

I don’t blame people for their reactions here. They’re byproducts of our culture. They’re just trying to be supportive in the only way they know how. I care more about what it says about the kind of distorted thinking our culture teaches us when it comes to consanguinamory - especially for something as benign as 2nd-cousins dating.

Luckily, some people aren’t so ignorant:
I mean it is only "gross" when you grow up with someone as your family member and then say start sleeping with them.  I mean my mothers cousins one raised in Italy one raised here met at ya know 20 years old fell in love and got married.  They didnt know each other as family.  Now I could never think of sleeping with my cousin 3rd or 4th but I grew up with them as family and you shouldnt look at your family that way dont know him and I wouldnt get to upset over it.  I mean I know it may be too late you are upset but try to relax it will all be ok.
I wouldn’t consider that “gross”, but at least she’s somewhat accepting of GSA situations.
It is not incest.  You're second cousins and would be able to marry.  I think it's just first cousins that can't marry.   Don't panic.  I have so many first cousins I don't even keep track of second cousins or "first removed" and all that.
In half the states, 1st cousins can marry, as well as in the vast majority of all countries on Earth. So, even if they were 1st-cousins, it still wouldn’t be “incest” in most cultures, nor would it bar them from marriage.

Her reaction to all of this makes me sad:
Thank you guys for the comments I still can't get my head together I just can't believe it I love him to death i've been waiting a little over 2 years from him to come home and now that it's almost over I get with that wowwwwwwww it's crazy because it's only been a day since I found out but when I talked to him today and he said I love you it was hard for me to say i love you to because I felt like a freak oh my God I just don't know what to do
There’s no natural inhibition for cousins who didn’t grow up together. Cousins of various kinds have never been universally considered off limits. Despite that, society’s crap has gotten so deep in her head that it’s undermining her love for her boyfriend of 4 years, who she’s been diligently waiting for while he’s in prison. To have such a strong relationship so easily and quickly undermined by something so insignificant...