August 3, 2015 by aggiesez
This year I haven’t been writing so much in this blog. I’ve been busy with a new project — one that might interest, and benefit, far more people. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted. I’ve just publicly launched it, and I’d like your feedback and support.
Ever since I started this blog, the hands-down most popular post here doesn’t have to do with solo polyamory (or even polyamory), per se. It’s about traditional intimate relationships and how they typically work, according to social norms.
I published Riding the Relationship Escalator (or not) on Nov. 29, 2012. Immediately, people all over the internet began linking to it and discussing it. Not just people who are interested or involved in polyamory or other kinds of unconventional relationships; plenty of monogamous people were interested in this concept as well.
For many people, their reaction to learning that the Relationship Escalator is simply one of many ways to do relationships (and not an universal requirement) seemed akin to a fish saying, “Whoa, there’s this stuff called water, we’re swimming in it, maybe we should think about this a little bit?”
So in January 2013 I launched a project to write a book examining the Relationship Escalator and the various ways that people step off it.
Being a journalist, I wanted to base this on interviews. So I posted an online survey to gather people’s experiences in unconventional relationships. I hoped to get a hundred or so responses, and from that find a couple dozen people to interview.
…WHAM! I had 300 responses in the first week alone. Over 18 months, with almost no outreach beyond a few forum posts and occasional mentions on this blog, I collected nearly 1500 responses. Many respondents wrote the equivalent of 1500-word essays.
This. Was. Huge.
I spent over two years building a database and learning how to input and process qualitative data. A friend dubbed me an “accidental social scientist.” I kept shifting my vision for this project, not sure how to do justice to the many, many people who contributed their stories. One paltry book seemed insufficient.
But you’ve gotta start somewhere. Or at least, I do.
So in June and early July this year, I finally knuckled down and pounded out the first draft of my first book, Off the Relationship Escalator: Stories of unconventional loving relationships.
I intend to self publish the first edition in Fall 2015. Right now, 50 alpha readers are giving me comments on my draft — and I’m in the process of hiring a developmental editor to help me get the content in great shape.
Who is this book for? This first book is intended for a general audience of anyone interested in how intimate relationships work. Whether you’re monogamous or open; whether you’re a layperson or a therapist, whether you have tons of relationship experience or very little, you should find value here.
The goal of this book is to help people think clearly about the Relationship Escalator — and to realize that, while this popular model works well for many people, it definitely is not the only game in town.
This book also discusses five common ways that people step off the Escalator:
- Consensual nonmonogamy (polyamory, swinging, don’t ask don’t tell and more).
- Not merging your life or identity with partners (such as choosing to not live with intimate partners, or by not “going we we.”
- Asexual or aromantic relationships. Intimate bonds where sex and/or romance plays little or no role.
- Not practicing hierarchy, even by simply treating your friends like they are no less valuable to you than lovers or an Escalator partner.
- Fluid, discontinuous or finite relationships, which may pause and resume, plateau short of the top of the Escalator, de-escalate or shift roles. Or not discounting relationships that are more casual, short-term, or defined by context (such as kink “scene” partners).
I also cover some common benefits and tradeoffs of unconventional relationships, answers some common questions (such as “Don’t you get jealous?” or “What about all that hot sex you’re having?”), discusses stigma against unconventional relationships (which drives so many people into the closet), and how to make the world a friendlier place for unconventional relationships.
Lots of perspectives! Every part of this book is peppered with quotes from my diverse base of survey respondents, such as:
“Let’s face it: At least half the relationships that people think are ‘going somewhere’ are, in fact, not going anywhere good. (Nika, in a long distance open relationship)
“People accept married people having affairs more than married people swinging. Something seems off there.” (Arthur, married swinger)
“Ultimately, I want the old fashioned husband, wife, kids. But as a society, we need to start accepting that not everyone wants (or ends up with) the old-fashioned way of marriage.” (Betty, monogamous)
“I am a man in a committed partnership with a woman of one and a half years. We live in different apartments in the same neighborhood, and we have been seeing each other almost every day for the past year. We have both had sexual experiences outside of this primary relationship — though generally carefully and after much discussion. Right at this moment, I am actually waiting for her to come over so I can explain that I would like to step off of this Relationship Escalator we’ve been on. I’d like us to think about taking a few steps… sideways? ‘Back’ seems pejorative. Point is, I’d heard the term. In my search to find it so I could reference it as part of this discussion, I ended up here, at your survey. So…” (Jackson, polyamorous)
This will be just the first of several books about various aspects of unconventional approaches to intimate relationships, based on stories shared through surveys as well as additional interviews and research. When I see how people interact with and react to my intial book, I’ll be able to quickly produce new books based on my existing and new survey data.
So: If a lot of people want to know more about, say, nonhierarchical polyamory, or parenting and nonmonogamy, or negotiation skills, or accommodating differences — I’ll be able to share what my respondents have said about their experience.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Go to my new website, Off the Escalator, and subscribe to receive e-mail updates about this project. I’ll let you know about book excerpts, special deals, what people are saying, and opportunities to support this project.
- Tell your friends, family, readers and others about this project. Feel free to link to OffEscalator.com from your own blogs, social media, or simply e-mail or text it to people who might be interested. (A good place for people to start is to understand, what is the Relationship Escalator?)
- What do you want to know about unconventional relationships or my book? Or: do you have an observation or experience to share — about the Relationship Escalator or unconventional relationships? Share your questions and comments.
- Encouragement helps — a lot. This project has become my life’s work, and it’s daunting. I’m taking a huge gamble, with a lot of personal and professional risk. I’m equally thrilled, determined, and terrified by this. So, send me comments or notes of encouragement, if you like. I read them all, and they help keep me going.
…As I get this new project off the ground, I’ll probably be writing more at Off the Escalator than on this blog, for now. But solo polyamory remains near and dear to my heart, so I’ll still post here from time to time.
I greatly appreciate your support for this blog, and for my future projects. Thanks!