Friday, August 18, 2017

Look What Came in the Mail!


Look what came in the mail (and with the Not-Safe-For-Amazon sexy cover, yes!); can't wait to dive in!

Please come check out my story, “On the Line,” in this Sinful Press anthology to dive deep into all the awkward excitement of sexual exploration. When every encounter feels weighty and new. When you feel perpetually on the verge of either discovery or humiliation. It’s a wonder any of us survived it at all!

Sinful Press welcomes you to lose yourself in Sinful Pleasures.

Join us as we weave our way from mainstream erotic romance to surreal sex-filled dreamscapes and everything in between, created by some of the best new and established voices in the erotica genre. List of authors: Janine Ashbless Ella Scandal Sonni de Soto Jo Henny Wolf Lily Harlem Lady Divine Gail Williams Samantha MacLeod Tony Fyler Ellie Barker Lisa McCarthy

Available Now On:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Playroom, My Rules! - Part Two

Do Not Disturb - 
Part Two
Read Part One Here


To read the rest of this story, check out this amazing anthology!

The Sexy Librarian, Rose Caraway returns with another Library of Erotica, just for you. From Torrid Literature to BDSM, Fairy Tales to Orgies, Clandestine Military Adventures to Bi-Curious Rendezvous, this adventurous, and fantasy-filled collection is here to turn you on. So grab your partner and peruse the card catalog and see which sexy story catches your interest first. This is your very own, hand-held library! Explore this volume of Erotica to your libido's content.

Featuring: Chase Morgan, Malin James, Silas Bliss, Sommer Marsden, Daily Hollow, Terrance Aldon Shaw, Jordan Castillo Price, Dahlia Lovejoy, Janine Ashbless, Jean Roberta, Emily Bingham, Rose de Fer, Dee Maselle, Rachel Woe, Josie Jordan, Eva Hore, R.A. Goli, Tamsin Flowers, Melina Greenport, Sonni de Soto, Elliot DeLocke, Landon Dixon, Michael Lewis, Janie James, Brantwijn Serrah, Emmanuelle de Maupassant, Spencer Dryden, M.L. Doyle, Brown Sugar, and Dorothy Freed.

AVAILABLE NOW ON:



PRIDE & PUNISHMENT!
For more from Pip, please check out my story and get ready for some fit-on-the-streets-but-fun-in-the-sheets, pervertable play this PRIDE!



LEARNING A NEW WORLD
Please check out my novel The Taming School from Sizzler Editions that explores discovering kink!
At iTunes Books

THINK YOU OWN ME?
Please check out my novel Show Me, Sir from Sinful Press that celebrates feminist kink!


LOVE EROTICA? LOVE CONSENT?
Please check out my story in The New Smut Project's anthology and see how consent makes everything sexier!
At Barnes & Noble


GEEK SEX IS THE KINKIEST SEX!
Please check out my story in Riverdale Avenue Books' anthology that proves no one knows how to play better than nerds!


LET'S GET INTENSE FOR THE MEN!
Please check out my story in The Sexy Librarian's anthology that gives us a bold peek into lust and love from the male perspective!
At Audible

HAVE YOURSELF A KINKY, LITTLE XMAS!
Please check out my story in Coming Together's charity anthology that lets your feel-good do some real good!


MAKE-UP SEX MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!
See what happens after Kat & Peter's happy ending in my story from Deep Desire Press!

FORGIVE ME, FATHER, FOR I HAVE SINNED!
Please check out my story in Sexy Little Pages' anthology that explores the taboo juxtaposition of holy and sensual!

REBEL WITH US!
Erotica is an expression of rebellion. Please check out my stories in Coming Together's defiant, charity anthology that celebrates diversity and equality in the face of our uncertain future!

YOU'RE INTO WHAT?!
If it exists, someone’s kinky for it! Check out my story in Sexy Little Pages' anthology that takes a walk on the weird side: you won’t regret it.



Also, find out how you can support me and collaborate with me on my Patreon Page!

My Playroom, My Rules! - Part One


Do Not Disturb - 
Part One

“Pop Goes the Weasel” played, the tinny sound filling the room.

Vera Hernadez raised an eyebrow and her fist clenched on the bug zapper in her hand. “Is that your phone?”

She narrowed her gaze at the beautiful, black woman trussed to her whipping post. Pip Jones’s long, lithe body cringed—as much as it could in the ropes anyway. She turned to face Vera and swallowed deeply. 

“I asked,” Vera said over the sing-song ring, pointing the toy at the woman, “is that your phone?”

Pip’s head bobbed in a tiny nod. “I’m so sorry, Ma’am.”

Sorry?

No, she wasn’t sorry. Not yet.

But, by the end of this, she would be.

Vera tsked. “You know my number one rule.” She walked around the post, letting the hatched metal of the toy’s head drag threateningly over Pip’s bared flesh. “No phones.” It was an easy one to remember. And came with a punishment neither of them would forget. “You know what comes next, don’t you?”

Pip’s head whipped back so far it looked like it hurt. Her eyes were wide and her breath wheezed nervously. “You wouldn’t!”

Vera’s jaw clenched as she drew the toy under Pip’s chin, forcing the other woman’s head up to meet her narrowed eyes. She raised an eyebrow at Pip. “So you’re telling me what to do now?”

“No!” Pip shook her head so hard, her whole body struggled against the ropes. “No, Ma’am. No, of course not, but—”

“Then you know,” Vera said sharply, turning on her heels toward Pip’s things, “my playroom, my rules.” She set the bug zapper aside before bending down to root around in Pip’s purse. She found the now silent phone in one of the pockets. Plucking it up, she thumbed the screen to light. “Hmmm.” She pursed her lips at the text message. “Looks like work needs you.” She flicked the screen to the camera. “Well, they’re about to get all of you.”

“Wait!” Pip was struggling hard now, the ropes pinching into her limbs. “Just wait. I’ll turn it off, I swear—”

“Too late.” It was one of Vera’s few hard, non-negotiable limits. At the beginning of every negotiation, she made sure to tell every partner that they were to leave their phones and devices at home or in their car. To ensure out of sight and out of mind, she didn’t even want them in the building.

Every bottom, every sub, was warned, if they didn’t comply, the phone would not only be confiscated during the scene.

It would become part of the scene.

Vera grinned cruelly and pointed the phone at Pip’s gorgeously tied up form. “Smile.”

“Wait!”

She snapped the picture.

Then two more. Making sure to get clear shots of Pip’s cringing face. “Your boss is going to love getting these shots.” She took another. “Not to mention all your friends. Your family.” Her whole list of contacts.

“You wouldn’t.” Pip shut her eyes. “You can’t.”

Vera clucked her tongue. “No,” she shook her head and said, “you’re right.” She lowered the phone and walked toward Pip. She touched Pip’s bound shoulders and back soothingly, reverently. She could see those pretty, slim shoulders heave with relief.

“What fun is it to send everyone pre-scene pictures?” Vera’s smile felt sharp and full of anticipation. She wanted to run her tongue over Pip’s flushed flesh as the woman’s eyes widened sweetly with thick fear. There was something else sparking in Pip’s wild gaze too, some thrilling feeling like reckless lust that made Vera’s mouth water. “It’ll be more fun to send them the post-scene ones...” 



Read Part Two Here

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Selling Your Special - My Pen to Pen Guest Blog

What makes one story stand out over another? Why does a publisher pick up or pass on a given submission? What makes a reader interested in knowing more about your characters and what they’re going through?

These can seem like unanswerable questions. And they kind of are. Who knows why anyone does anything?

But a friend of mine once asked me why I seemed to be having more luck with story submissions than she was. I thought about it for a moment and realized that, despite my awkwardness and inability to get people to like me in most social situations, I’m really good at grabbing someone’s attention in a letter to an editor.

Because I know who I am as a writer.

I know exactly what my stories are.

I can clearly articulate what makes me and my stories stand out in an oversaturated genre like erotica....

READ THE REST HERE

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We Are Not Unsafe

I hate this kind of rhetoric:

"Kink is not a sexual orientation. It is simply how someone enjoys having sex, not about who they participate in it with. Comparing kink to being gay minimizes being gay down to only having sex when it is so much more than that. People have not been fighting over the past few decades to only have sex with whatever gender they want. There is no need to fight about that because that could be done in secret. It is about love. It is about being able to express that love in public without criticism: holding hands, going on dates, marriage, just the simplest forms of loving one another. It is not about how a couple has sex." 


While I am not equating the LGBT experience with the kink experience--they are not the same, not historically or socially or psychically--there are similarities and crossover.

Kinksters, throughout history, have been stigmatized and diagnosed as psychiatrically sick because of who we are. I don't know any kinkster who didn't grow up being raised to think there was something deeply wrong with them. We've been shunned from all kinds of spaces, from religious spaces to medical spaces, from queer spaces to feminism, to being denied housing and employment. Thanks to doxxing, our lives get turned upside-down, from having our jobs, our homes, our kids, our friends and families taken away from us because someone found out what we do and who we are. And not "due to inappropriate behavior" but because someone found out something personal about us and decided it was okay to shame and punish us for things we should never be shamed or punished for. And thanks to that shame we're less likely to seek outside help when we do experience problems, like abuse or injury, from cops, shrinks, doctors, or even loved ones, because society is convinced--and often convinces us--that, because of who we are and what we do, we deserve all ills that we get.

And our love is CONSTANTLY being reduced to nothing more than how we have sex. Never mind the complex and valid social structures and emotional connections that are unique to kinksters. Never mind the added amount of care and communication we share that is required of our kind of love. To too many people, we are nothing but a series of inappropriate acts and toys.

We're constantly being misrepresented in society. Being portrayed as nothing more than monsters and victims or punchlines. Even the times when we're portrayed in the positive, more often than not, it's in a titillating and inaccurate way that glorifies the aspects of us that the world sees as strange and glosses over the humanity the world views as less entertaining and certainly less profitable. We're treated as circus acts or zoo exhibits or mythological beings, which sounds exotic and fun until you realize that we'd rather seen as people, with real lives and real partners.

And then there's the claim that we make spaces unsafe.

Uncomfortable? Sure.

Complicated? Absolutely.

I will be the first to admit that our open and unashamed presence in polite society--our desire to not be shoved into bedrooms and closets--is cause for a lot of awkward conversation.

But, like I said, we kinksters LOVE us some in-depth communication and comprehensive education.

And thank goodness we do.

We've been instrumental in changing and re-shaping the language of consent in our culture. We've open doors to talking about sexuality--for women, men, and people of all genders--in a way no other community has. We've been advocates for the fight for better sexual education and healthcare and welfare for people who don't fit the norm, from the LGBTQ+ community to sex workers.

We've made sex and love and relationships better for countless people. We've made sex and love and relationships safer and less taboo for countless people.

What we do and who we are may make you uncomfortable, but the last thing we've done is make you less safe.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

PRIDE & Punishment - An Unbound Donovan's Door Story

Please check out my story "PRIDE & Punishment," available for FREE in Unbound Magazine. Join Pip Jones & Cora Jameson, an interracial couple, at an equality PRIDE march as they try to navigate the politics of their relationship in what feels like a much more divisive and complicated world. And, as everyone who’s been to enough protests knows, sometimes sparking political passions can ignite other passions as well. So get ready for some fit-on-the-streets-but-fun-in-the-sheets, pervertable play this PRIDE!

Now Available Here for FREE

Unbound was started by a group of New York City gals who wanted to make sex better for women. Intimidated and overwhelmed by the in-store shopping experience, they thought a discreet subscription box would be the perfect solution for getting women and couples the erotic goods they craved. And they adamantly believe that the world could use more Unbound women. All of their products are tested in-house and are high-quality and 100% body-safe. Unbound will donate 6.9% of all profits to nonprofit organizations that support female sexual health and wellness.

Be sure to check out their Unbound Collection—a line of high-end jewelry that double as bedroom accessories—aims to close the pleasure gap by allowing women to, quite literally, wear their sexuality on their sleeves for your own pervertable fun!


BREAKING THE RULES!
Please check out more adventures with Pip in my story in this hand-held library of erotica & explore to your libido's content!








LEARNING A NEW WORLD
Please check out my novel The Taming School from Sizzler Editions that explores discovering kink!

At iTunes Books

THINK YOU OWN ME?
Please check out my novel Show Me, Sir from Sinful Press that celebrates feminist kink!

LOVE EROTICA? LOVE CONSENT?
Please check out my story in The New Smut Project's anthology and see how consent makes everything sexier!
At Barnes & Noble

GEEK SEX IS THE KINKIEST SEX!
Please check out my story in Riverdale Avenue Books' anthology that proves no one knows how to play better than nerds!

LET'S GET INTENSE FOR THE MEN!
Please check out my story in The Sexy Librarian's anthology that gives us a bold peek into lust and love from the male perspective!
At Audible

HAVE YOURSELF A KINKY, LITTLE XMAS!
Please check out my story in Coming Together's charity anthology that lets your feel-good do some real good!


MAKE-UP SEX MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!
See what happens after Kat & Peter's happy ending in my story from Deep Desire Press!

FORGIVE ME, FATHER, FOR I HAVE SINNED!
Please check out my story in Sexy Little Pages' anthology that explores the taboo juxtaposition of holy and sensual!

REBEL WITH US!
Erotica is an expression of rebellion. Please check out my stories in Coming Together's defiant, charity anthology that celebrates diversity and equality in the face of our uncertain future!

YOU'RE INTO WHAT?!
If it exists, someone’s kinky for it! Check out my story in Sexy Little Pages' anthology that takes a walk on the weird side: you won’t regret it.

Also, find out how you can support me and collaborate with me on my Patreon Page!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

MY NAME IS IN A ROLLING STONE ARTICLE!

Truth time: I am drunk right now because my company had a bonding event today and booze was most definitely involved.

I get back to the office and I see this:


I am not sober enough to handle this.

Rolling Stone is tweeting about an anthology that I have two stories in?! This is crazy!


And.

They.

Mention.

My.

Name.


That's my name! Right next to names like Debra Hyde and Chuck Tingle. 

What is happening right now?!

I can't.

This is amazing!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Would You Defy God, For Love? - Janine Ashbless Excerpt

Hot Excerpt from Janine Ashbless's 
New Novel In Bonds of the Earth:


 **Press Play to Listen to the Excerpt**

We headed at random for a restaurant under a trellis draped with grape-vines, where Azazel carefully pulled out a plastic chair for me. He’d clearly been studying up on manners.

Well, that was what I thought until he parked himself in a chair facing me and, leaning forward, slid a hand up the inside of my thigh, all the way to my damp sex.

I stiffened, arching my spine. “Azazel!” I gasped as his touch sent thrills cascading through my nerve-endings all over again.

“Hm?” It had suddenly gone so quiet that I could hear even that quietest of speculative murmurs as he pushed probing fingertips into the wet split of my sex and sought entry to my body. Blessedly, thankfully quiet. No voices, no music, and even the omnipresent hum of traffic was silenced; the world had stopped. I glanced around us and saw that the figures in the square were frozen in mid-motion, their eyes glazed. A dead leaf, just fallen from the vine, hovered motionless over his shoulder. Across the flagstones an iridescent soap bubble hung just beyond the tip of its plastic wand, defying the elements of air and gravity and fate. I wondered distractedly if it would burst if I touched it, or whether it would feel hard like crystal.

“We shouldn’t do this!”

Azazel’s fingers plunged into me, slick with our mingled juices, stretching me, making me buck in my seat. Wicked delight boiled in his eyes. “But you enjoy it so much, my sweet.”

“Oh!” Blood rushed to my face. We might be the only actors in our secret play, but the audience were all around us, unblinking. I was being pumped in full public view, my skirt pushed up my thighs, my whimpers suddenly alarming in loudness.

“Do you deny it?”

I grabbed the arms of my chair. “No,” I admitted, stammering.

“You like the idea of being watched. That handsome waiter there. Those nice old gentlemen playing chess. It makes you wet when I touch you in public. You want everyone to see.”

“Please, no.”

“They should see.” He slid to his knees in front of my open thighs so that he could get a closer look at his hand working my wet sex. “You are so beautiful like this.”

“Unh.”

“Open your blouse,” he ordered. “Show me your breasts.”

I shook my head mutely, eyes widening.

He grinned, then pushed his fingers deeper, scissoring them, curling them to caress me within. I heaved, unable to control my own reaction. Heat roared from my sex to my flushed face and seemed to set a fire in my breasts. I could feel dampness springing out on my skin beneath my too-constricting clothes.

“Show. Me.” His thumb slithered over my clit, implacable.

I couldn’t bear the heat in my flesh any longer. I fumbled the buttons of my blouse, pulled down the camisole top and the bra cups beneath. My nipples prickled in the unnaturally still air, my breasts quivering.

Jeez. Now I really was at his mercy. If he released his grip on the frozen moment I would be exposed for everyone to see—tits out, thighs squirming open, hips jerking, his hand buried in the molten heat of my pussy. Everyone would see me being finger-fucked.

Everyone would see me coming, like this.

Right now.

I nearly kicked him in my spasms, nearly bit my mouth trying not to squeal out loud. Not too loud, anyway. I couldn’t actually keep silent.

Azazel watched hungrily, oh so hungrily, like he was gorging himself on the sight of my shame and lust. He ate me through his eyes and his hand, cupping the thud of my racing pulse in his palm, until I stopped twitching and managed to swallow and moisten my lips.

He withdrew gently; so gently that I wanted to beg him to put his hand back. Than he lounged back in his chair, the flimsy plastic bending alarmingly under his torso.

“Five,” he said, his eyes glittering.

Five what? I was still breathless and half-witted with the shock of my climax.

“Four.”

Oh crap! I scrabbled desperately for my buttons, trying to restore my disarranged clothes. And I managed to pull my skirt desperately down to my knees just as he reached “One,” and the days suddenly roared into surround-sound and motion again, like he’d pressed Play at last.


———    


Janine Ashbless is back with the second in her paranormal erotic romance Book of the Watchers trilogy: In Bonds of the Earth.

Unafraid to tackle the more complex issues surrounding good and evil in mainstream religion, Janine has created a thought-provoking and immersive novel which sets a new standard for paranormal erotic romance. The first in the series, Cover Him With Darkness, was released in 2014 by Cleis Press and received outstanding reviews.

Blurb:

“I will free them all.”

When Milja Petak released the fallen angel Azazel from five thousand years of imprisonment, she did it out of love and pity. She found herself in a passionate sexual relationship beyond her imagining and control – the beloved plaything of a dark and furious demon who takes what he wants, when he wants, and submits to no restraint. But what she hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven. 

As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity. 

Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.

In Bonds of the Earth is published by Sinful Press and is available now!


In e-book:



In Print:


Check Out More From Her:
Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure. She likes to write about magic and myth and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.

Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000. She's also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora's Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love

Born in Wales, Janine now lives in the North of England with her husband and two rescued greyhounds. She has worked as a cleaner, library assistant, computer programmer, local government tree officer, and - for five years of muddy feet and shouting - as a full-time costumed Viking. Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, and holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage.


Her work has been described as: 
"Hardcore and literate" (Madeline Moore) and "Vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love." (Portia Da Costa)




Monday, March 20, 2017

Porn Is Sex Ed and We Need to Accept It

Like this article points out, the fact is none of my useful sex education came from school. None of it. All of it came from porn, advice columnists & podcasts, bloggers, and experience.

Which is why, as an erotica writer and a blogger who talks about sex a lot, I think it's so important to not only include things like enthusiastic consent and negotiation and communication, but to make it sexy too. To not let it be some kind of downer or obligatory write-off that needs to be rushed through so we can get to the sexy bits.

It, in and of itself, needs to be part of, wrapped up in and inextricably bound, with the sexy bits. I strive to make it so that my stories do not work without those parts. That, if you take them out, the story doesn't make sense anymore.

Because I am a firm believer that our culture needs to start thinking of sex like that. It needs to become our romantic and sexual narratives. It needs to be normalized and embraced.

Because, in real life, sex doesn't work without those things. It just doesn't. And we need to stop pretending, and definitely need to stop promoting and romanticizing the idea, that it does. It should break our fourth wall and take us out of the story, if that basic level of decency and ethics doesn't exist. Its lack should leave us wanting more, wanting better, from our stories.

Because, if we continue to treat consent and communication as unnecessary drags in our stories, can we really be surprised, when so much of our sexual knowledge and culture is shaped by what we in the porn industry do, that they're treated that way in real life too?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Interview with Erotica For All

I did a great, fun interview with Lucy Felthouse at Erotica For All! Hope you Enjoy!

How did you start writing erotica?


    I actually majored in writing speculative fiction for children in college. But I would write smutty erotica as a kind of literary palate cleanser between classwork. Then, after graduation and under the grind of being in the workforce, I realized that my cleanser had become my palate. Erotica, particularly kinky erotica, is a genre that I’ve always loved and that I found I, as a feminist, queer kinkster of color, had something unique to add. While there are a lot of great kink stories out there, much of which is written by actual kinksters, there’s still a lot of porn, erotica, and romance stories in the mainstream that still treat kink like it’s less of a sexual fantasy and IRL lifestyle and more like it’s a literary fantasy. Some mystical, unreal phenomenon that doesn’t require research, realism, or respect. Same goes for LGBTQ+ and interracial relationships. And I figured the world could use more voices out there preaching the message that, while it’s always great and awesome to HAVE a fetish or fantasy, it’s never okay to treat someone as if they ARE a fetish or fantasy...

READ THE REST HERE 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Unicornland Gives a Unique Peek at Poly

I definitely recommend Unicornland on Vimeo and absolutely want MORE! 

Every brilliantly-written, well-acted, carefully-crafted episode had me thinking either "Oh god, I've been there" or "I totally KNOW that person." I love that every episode feels self-contained and is a perfect short story in and of itself. But I was truly impressed by the show's ability to also connect the stories to show a real sense of community as well. It was a beautiful balance. 

I also love that there were examples of kink-gone-wrong and truly cringe-worthy missteps, but there was also heartwarming coming-togethers and honest moments of human connection.

Absolutely gorgeous show. Please, please, please make more. 

Bit of a SPOILER though: Dear lord, that bondage couple need to take a class on SSC kink; I know you're not supposed to say that people do kink wrong, but they did almost everything wrong. And the show portrayed that so rightly. That is how you break bottoms. Please don't do that.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Combining Complexities - Is Monogamy Unnatural?

Seriously, we need to wipe the word "naturally" from our human behavior vocabulary. It serves no actual function and leads to a lot of asinine conjecture. Because too often we conflate "natural" to mean "normal" and "right" and "easy." And when it comes to human behavior, I'm pretty sure none of those words are useful.

Take Scarlet Johansson's latest comments on marriage: "I don't think it's natural to be a monogamous person. I might be skewered for that, but I think it's work. It's a lot of work." Really, Johansson?!

Look, I've gone through long periods of celibacy, I've been in casual relationships, monogamous relationships, and poly relationships; let me tell you: It all takes work. Life, if you're trying to do it ethically, takes a lot of work.

When I was celibate, I constantly had to field questions about why I was celibate and when I was going to "get back out there" because "the clock's a-ticking and you don't want to end up alone." I constantly had to defend my decision to focus on other areas of my life other than my romantic status and insist that there was nothing wrong and that I wasn't broken or damaged or lonely. It felt like I was constantly trying to explain that being celibate isn't the same as being alone and being alone isn't necessarily the same as being lonely.

When I was in casual relationships, I had to deal with people telling me to settle down or make a decision. "Is this the person the lucky one who's going to last or not?" I also had to deal with the judgment of being called a slut or too picky, if turns out they weren't. Not to mention, well, having to just make a lot of day-to-day decisions. Do I go out tonight? Do I stay in? Do I really want to go out and make the effort to find a partner? Not to mention having to size-up every new partner and make judgments on whether or not they were someone I wanted to take a chance on or not, for my own self-protection as well as theirs. Not to mention if I wasn't interested in a long-term relationship, I constantly had to lay down and maintain boundaries, because, as much as no one wants to waste their time on partners who aren't interested in your well-being or who aren't interested in the same things you are, I'd hope no one wants to be one partners feel they've wasted their time on either.

When I was in monogamous relationships, a lot of that day-to-day stuff is easier. Typically, you know who you're going to have dinner with or who's house you're going to sleep over at. You don't worry so much over whether you'll regret going home with that person because of their temperament or safety status. People tend to bug you less about about your perceived promiscuity or likelihood of dying alone. But they do start pestering you about your future together with invasive questions about marriage dates and baby announcements. Not to mention, now every time you try to schedule anything, you have another person to consider. It's never what I want for dinner, it's what WE want. Before I can agree to any event, I need to make sure we don't have plans already. Every life plan you make, from what you do, where you do it, how long you do it, who you do it with, has to take another person into account.

When I was in poly relationships, it just meant multiplying those exact same issues. Instead of taking another person into account, now I was taking a lot of people into account. In order to make that kind of relationship work, you're constantly talking and checking in with everybody to make sure that everyone is feeling properly accounted for and no one feels left out or neglected. You're juggling not just one person's schedule and feelings and input, but multiple. Not to mention that most of the time you're pretty in the closet about it, since society is still pretty uptight about that. So some people in your life know about it, some people don't, and it's a constant balancing act of trying to explain your life to a bunch of people who have differing levels of information clearance. And you constantly have to worry about who knows what because, if the wrong person finds out, it could mean the loss of someone's job or kids or social circle. Added into that, even with the people who do know, you're often fielding awkward questions about who does what with whom and whether you have a problem with it.

Don't get me wrong; each relationship I've ever been in has corresponded to a moment in my life and a stage of my growth that fit at the time. It was a combination of the people I was involved with and the circumstances I was dealing with in my life at the time. Each relationship was filled with incredible benefits as well as inevitable drawbacks. 

Because that's how life works.

Nothing worth having comes to you without work. Nothing worth having is kept without work. And, maybe it's because I'm kinda a socially awkward introvert with what pop psychology labels attachment issues and a tendency to overthink, I'm fairly sure that nothing involving another person is ever easy and requires no work. We are complex creatures; how could combining complexities ever be easy?

We all just do the best we can with what we have.

Find relationships that work for you. That feel "natural" or "normal" or "right" for you, whatever that means in the moment. And understand that, while I hope that you are able to find and enjoy that, your natural, your normal, your right has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else's. If you are not in a relationship with someone, what they decide to do, however they decide to do it, and with whomever they decided to do it with, none of it is your business. 

Don't judge others.

Don't prescribe to others.

Don't project yourself onto others.

So long as no one is being harmed, just you do you and let everyone do the same.