Transitions crib sheet

These are the not-very edited notes from the event. I will try to write down some useable “recipes” soon.

Note: when I’ve no idea what the note means, I it’s marked with (???). I hope other people present will chime in and remind me…

Topics covered, and ideas proposed (at least, what I managed to write down, I am generally trying to participate and look around too):

Success stories: transitions that worked well, whatever it means for us

  • not accepting at face value the connotation of “breaking up” or changing definitions
    • it doesn’t mean we don’t talk anymore, it’s (just?) a label/a story
    • trying to see if there is goodwill from the other side to do things
    • “want to do X together?”
  • not accepting the narrative of “we break up and we don’t talk”
    • keeping on seeing each other
    • “hey, want to hang out?”
    • “want to have sex?”
    • not getting caught in the “we’re not together anymore” narrative
  • success in staying friends
    • sometime after a while
  • is “friends after a 3 months break” a success?
  • increasing commitment gently, before “being together”

The effect of labels: being/not being together

  • ending up with being “only partner” after having joined a polycule
    • “I hadn’t signed up for that”
    • “I was one of the many & I don’t want a relationship
  • good non-monogamous labels? (this could become a full cookbook)
    • lovers, play partners, adventure partners…
  • “according to my definitions, we’re in a relationship”
    • “according to mine, we aren’t”
    • monogamous/non-monogamous attitude
    • using ≠ labels
    • finding out together what labels mean for us
  • “6 months without labels”
    • then we see what we are
  • losing definitions more and more
    • “the woman I love”
    • “the beloved”
    • struggling with using “my”
  • discussing labels together
    • ≠ labels/meaning with ≠ people
  • “there is a strong connection that will probably last”
    • “there is a bench with your name engraved in my internal landscape, and it will always be there”
    • “even if we maybe never sit there together again”
  • friends for a long time that decide to be partners
    • it was a happy decision, a “success story”
  • making up silly labels (together)
    • cuddle buddies with mumble mumble (Alex got distracted)
  • judging existing labels
    • joining a polycule/existing constellation, understanding our place/the labels/constellations/roles
    • “new boy”, “fresh meat”, “the newby” (we were joking)

Moving in together (we had a cookbook on this recently)

  • both people poly with kids
    • it would be easier
    • kids aged 7, 6, 5, 3, 2 (I think)
  • starting with a trial is better
  • living separately
    • not feeling you’re entering someone’s territory
    • builds up longing
    • allows to reset between partners/experiences
    • “you don’t wake up and the other person is there”
      • (that some people like, some don’t)
  • moving together after 6 weeks, and it worked
    • not just for convenience
    • but ALSO for convenience, the convenience helped
  • remove the idea that is HAS to work
    • or else we fail
  • place is the territory (???)
  • think about how the children would react/prefer

Transitioning between lover bubbles

  • when we move from one person/lover to another
    • a night alone?
    • no same room?
    • a ritual?
  • “I never managed more than 3 people in a day”
  • some people need 2 nights between them and someone else
    • some a full week
  • “no rules”
    • sometime they arrive from a different story, and that’s who they are in that moment
    • sobbing from a crisis, etc: it happens
  • figure out your own boundaries/needs…
  • different with primaries and secondaries, feeling primary or secondary
  • some people ARE compatible as “energies”
    • you can take one (???)

Transition domino effect

  • one relationship in a constellation changes, others are affected
    • eg: A dates B and C, B and C date too; it fails with A and B, A wants to spend more time with C, C doesn’t want to “use the available space”; B is afraid C will get farther, they don’t
    • example of not-really-domino (but C stopped dating A in the end, also because they wanted more now)
    • “I can offer more space but it’s not being taken”
    • fearing that someone will get farther, but don’t, can strengthen a relationship
  • can a relationship end up strengthened?
  • exploring the constellation of lovers/relationships using plastic farm animals, like in a “family constellation”
    • “this is how I see the structure”
      • (it could be different from people to people)
    • “and this is my ideal constellation”
      • (and this can really be different)
    • then discuss
  • knowing in advance that something is imaginable helps
    • “tell me you can imagine something happening, even if you don’t want it now”
    • “I could imagine moving in with this new person” is better digested with lots of time ahead

The “Aufstellungs Idée” of all the partners/metamours… On both sides of the relationship to see where each partner places the people… And why… Shows/maps – gives insight in to how the constellation is for each partner among all those people involved.

Gender roles in approaching

  • “I love when women make the first step, there are still not enough of them, even with emancipation”
    • “I tried twice, got rejected, was horrible, I stopped”
  • women getting tired of playing the “I look pretty, come to me” game
  • but when doing it, and making the first steps, sometime thinking “but it should be him doing this! This is a man’s job”
  • “if I want someone, I will make a move”
    • “if I realize I don’t want to make a move, I will rethink if I like that person that much”
  • having friends playing matchmakers help
  • see tinder:
    • it helps knowing the other person likes you a bit
    • reciprocal interest
    • if not, we need “courage”
  • it’s harder for women
  • “Selbsbestätigende Intimität” (thanks to Rena for the spelling)
    • feeling what’s right for us, going first with “I love you”, “I want to date you”…
      • Ich zeige mich so, wie es mir entspricht. Dabei nehme ich eine nicht-bestätigende (angstvolle, wütende) Reaktion des Partners in Kauf. Ich mache damit mein Identitätsempfinden und mein Selbstwertgefühl nicht vom Partner abhängig. Diese selbstbestätigende Intimität ist ein greifbarer Ausdruck einer tragfähigen Beziehung zu sich selbst.” (D. Schnarch)


  • what happens when you don’t follow the normal “relationship escalator”:
    • is it automatically “going backward” or can we “go sideways”?
  • “if we’re not progressing, are we going backwards?”
    • escalator
  • “I always want to grow, if we don’t grow, we’re not good/stuck”
    • “Nature grows”
    • life/career/body…
  • ambitious: not in practical things, but in connections/authenticity/depth
    • “no goal to achieve…”
    • “get to the core of a person”
  • “I want truth”
    • “more truth”
  • “do I feel we’re growing?”
  • “I’m moving to another country nut it’s not a step back”
    • (with another partner)
  • “but I feel you’re rejecting me”
    • “I don’t”
  • “coming to the truth” can actually make things closer
    • “I feel you’re distant, but we both acknowledge it”
  • “not having the standard escalator, but visions of what can be”
  • how to express visions?
    • what if they’re not shared?
    • “could you also see this?”
      • Yes! (great)
      • No, never!
      • “Now now, maybe”
        • well, OK?
  • how to notice/propose/express?
    • expressing it too late can be bad
    • noticing it late
    • not PUSHING visions on others, but being tentative…

Changing-discovering-adapting (shared) models

  • negotiate/express desires
  • explore dreams/desires
    • meditate
    • design thinking
    • (shared or not)
  • easier to express shared visions in the long term or short term?
    • and why?
    • different for different people
  • “6 months is a good block of time for planning/imagining the future”

Gold nuggets

At the end of the event, we tried to collect the practical bits that people noticed/planned to take home.

  • farm animals constellation exercise
    • what I see/you see/what’s my ideal
  • sharing a vision together
  • a clear timeframe to experiment/renegotiate/not-label/live together/etc (6 months is a good one, but not magical)
  • “according to MY definition, we’re in a relationship”
  • a break up as a continuation
    • “we moved forward by separating”
    • “breaking up brought us closer”
  • “a bench in my inner landscape with your name engraved on it”

Touch and Politics, notes

What’s the interaction between what we do with our bodies, to our and other bodies, and the social body out there?
Do we have a duty to change the world, just to resist unwanted change, or…what?

Some sort of resume of 3 different events at Xplore Berlin 2019.

Personal/administrative note:
I am becoming more and more aware that keeping a conversation “personal and practical” is essential to keep it open and friendly.
Personal experiences are full of shades of grey, of “maybe”s, of things we tried but we’re not sure what’s the reason they worked/didn’t work, and at times we’re not sure they actually worked out or not.
Ideas can be much more black and white.
“Politics” tend to fall in the realm of ideas, all too often.
I was a bit worried, so I really tried to frame the conversation in a way that would keep it in the real of personal experiences, desires, actions.
This somehow limited the scope, but kept it alive and lively: I consider it a success.

We started with the following tentative definitions:


  • including who we want/desire to touch/from whom we want to be touched, and the ways we desire/do it
  • including physical/sexual relationships
  • the non-virtual world


  • including our interactions with society
  • the mismatch between personal and society, when there is an act of influence/being influenced
  • active/passive/direct/indirect political action: “being a X is already political” vs. “going in the streets” vs. “affecting the government”…

The first few topics were:

  • personal experiences and discovery of any sort of mismatch between what we want and what society considers normal/the default: what did we do? Did we act? Change? Fight?
  • actions taken/had to take/were taken when the mismatch appeared: what and how?
  • how to bring things out in the open?
  • what has a political valence? What is effective, not effective, what do we consider to be “effective”?

Notes/topics that popped out, more or less in order:

  • how much it’s me, how much it’s society telling me what I want/should want?
    • what happened when I discovered I could want something that wasn’t expected?
    • how did it feel from the inside? What happened when I thought I was the only “broken” one?
    • what happened when we discovered we weren’t alone?
  • when worrying about the rest of society (eg: a teacher dealing with sexual bodywork), some people keep different activities in different cities
    • even using nicknames/aliases
    • for some reason, Berlin is often the city choosen for the sexual stuff
  • “I am not interested in dealing with anyone that is not interested in this part of my life”
    • having to choose between old friends/family and desire is a big choice
    • it has a cost
    • “I want to keep my CURRENT friends too”
    • sometime, they accept you, they find you weird… and 5 years later they ask you for advice because they’re discovering something too
  • “my job isn’t sexual but isn’t affected by my sexual activities”
  • how do you help others being out?
  • what is the political aspect of “somatics and politics”?
  • the body has its own intrinsic limitations
    • body <-> mind
    • making a difference, and where, is somehow a political statement
  • we meet lots of un-embodies activists
    • disconnected from their bodies, and from the “physical”
  • it is hard to explain to political “comrades” WHY you are now doing what you’re doing
    • yoga, body-mind activities, meditation, sexual practices
  • being disembodies makes for more conflictual
    • bodies tend to be full of compromises, not black/white ideas
  • “I was more political before I became kinky”
    • it seems common to feel “I left the general political arena to dedicate to myself/smaller things”
  • bodies/life is messy
  • sexuality is a further level of somatics
    • normalizing sexuality
    • bringing something back to your “normal” life

Opening up about what we do at Xplore/sex+ events with our children:

  • give them massages/safe physical activities
  • describe/present is as “self development” work
  • the hero’s journey, bringing back material
    • children love heroes/adventures
    • share about sexuality in general

How to safeguard our work/family if the environment is hostile?

  • having an art name/kunstname
    • there is some legal protection on this, some people did it
  • the role of Facebook in facilitating/threatening our sexual/political revolution(s)
  • how do we build (real) communities?
    • could we have a “post Xplore” connection event?
    • something like a decompression (apart from Konk)
    • a voluntary list of people that want to “bring something as action outside Xplore”
  • the need for safe/intermediate spaces, between “nothing” and Xplore
    • some spaces in that directions exist
    • cuddle parties, playfights, soft events
  • creating groups in smaller cities is hard/people are interested/don’t know where to start
    • other people struggled with finding groups in existing cities, even Berlin
  • how to facilitate talk/connection/exchange between communities?
    • how do we include each other?
    • how to work with other organizers? Connect?
  • what about the conflicts between communities?
    • concentrating on what we have in common would be the best
    • but it’s hard for people that are really passionate
    • ingroup/outgroup
    • “this behavior is too heternormative/kinky/not kinky enough/too X for our space”
  • creating a “minority conflict resolution/connection space”
  • ritual play
    • named group/event in the direction of playfight

What could WE want/need from society/politics?

  • more spaces to use/explore/connect
  • “the time has come” (not sure what was this about)
    • probably “to be out there and proud”
    • see “gay pride”
  • sexual health in sex+ communities
  • we need symbols that we can share/show
    • eg: the rainbow is AN AMAZING symbol
  • how to be open vs. being safe
    • being inclusive of curious people vs. keeping out communities safe/more closed
    • what is the balance?
  • creating a support group of therapists
  • or FOR therapists?
  • having apps to connect people between offers of communities, and looking for communities
    • maybe?

Other bits and pieces:

  • body therapy for people with trauma?
    • supporting/including people that could need lots of attention/space: how?
  • being connected with other people DOES change the world
    • “we’re not very good consumerists, we need some condoms, lube, gloves, and water”
  • “why so many identity labels?”
    • why looking for differences?
  • dealing with change/growing older as activists
    • the world changed around you
    • and dealing with older activists, that were bleeding edge 30 years ago… and sound kind of conservative now
    • (it means they more or less “won”, I guess)

The crossroad between personal and political

  • how are we helping “the world” with this?
    • and helping each other?
  • are we just in a bubble?
    • are we dancing on the Titanic?
  • “being kinky made me more aware of gender dynamics/other social topics”
    • several people shared how their sexuality came first, and made them learn about other social topics
    • while some came to sexual activism from social engagement
  • “we’re the lucky millions” (meaning in Europe/the “West”)
    • we can be “good examples” that other people CAN follow
    • we shared examples of people from less open countries (starting from Italy, going down to Thailand, Iran, Russia), being inspired by what happens
    • being the sparks
    • the reason to be as open as we can, and sharing what we’re doing: it can inspire others
    • (or create lots of FOMO)
  • “one more happy person is one problem less in the world”
  • advertising vs. evangelism
  • showing people “this is better” is different from pushing change down other people’s throats
    • and being pushed isn’t fun
  • the point of being here is to improve yourself, the rest of the world will follow…

Past and possible topics

I keep a list of (possible) topics for relationship cookbooks, and realized I could just as well keep it here.

NB: there are some repetition for now

Relationship related:

Already happened (it doesn’t mean we won’t do it again)

spacetime: together/separate/long distance and all that: FB event, post

touch & politics: Relationship Cookbook Xplore edition: event, post

summer & festival season: FB event, post

trust & safety: FB event, post

compulsory compersion? FB event, post

commitments: FB event, post

consent and agreements: FB event,

family and friends: FB event, post

navigating NRE: FB event, post

open relationship cookbook: FB event, post

community: FB event, post

(un)common grounds: FB event, post

ricettario per le relazioni (aperte), our first event ever: FB event, post

Future possibilities

stakeholders in relationships

relationship with yourself

traumas and triggers

rules & agreements

(un) natural (?) hyerarchies

rules, agreements, freedom

long term

fighting fair

changes: breaking up, escalating, tranforming

dating parents

being parents

getting close: first dates, activities, questions, NRE

“it used to be a problem until…”

sex and spirituality

differences: libido, involvement, age, desires…

exploration vs. exploitation

drama & attitudes to drama

black, white, shades of grey

“so long, and thank you for…”: breaking up (or not), taking breaks

“you don’t support me when I have a problem/you try to control me with your problems”

“I cannot like someone that likes someone like me”

working with kinks/having kinks/sharing/communicating/discovering


the art of breaking up

kinks and life

“houserules”: my/our rules for life/relationships/everything

being in a relationship: for couples (triads, polycules), not for bickering

Conversations down there

This was the “let’s talk about sex” evolution of the cookbook

conversations down there, general: FB event

ejaculation: male, female, exploring, extending, avoiding…

initiating sex

the bureau of sexual fantasies fulfilment

Not specifically about relationships

dharma cookbook: techniques exchange and chat. FB event

insomniacs’ toolbox: FB event

psychonaut toolbox #1: Fb event

how not to kill plants

shibari and ropes and…

investing and finances

body: health, sanity, …