Sunday, December 23, 2018

Relationships and RP (Pt 1?)

It's been a while since I've blogged. I've been drowning in coursework for college the past few months. The good news is that I passed my classes and will live to see another semester. In this time we wrapped up the release of Issue 1: Rain! It's been a fun wild ride.

In the studio, Mace, Verias and Oshigan are working on animating the short story I adapted for Cosmic Feline: Surrender. We have cast voice actors and everything is looking great! I am presently also working the script with Mace for Episode 2 of that arc, Survivor, so please check out our Discord for updates!

A couple weekends ago, I was able to host a panel at Fallfest 18 put on by The New Universes Project and OngoingWorlds. Fallfest was a virtual convention accessed for free over Discord focused on online roleplaying or simulations communities. It was all text based so it lacked a speaking component.

My panel was on Relationships in Roleplaying.

The main questions I helped foster discussion on were:
  • How do you initiate a relationship in roleplay without being creepy? 
  • How do you write a relationship that feels real? 
  • How do you write polyamorous relationships? 

Please note that this blog is going to contain spoilers for “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “the Prince of Tides”. These are some old media and should be beyond the point of indignant rage for being spoiled. 

The biggest thing to keep in mind for writing relationships is that if you want it to be realistic and believable, it’s like managing a real relationship. If you lack positive personal experience, then it would be best to do research through good sources to understand relationships. I enjoy observation to learn but I also enjoy reading psychological research on interpersonal relationships. Good solid research in psychology journals or books on relationships might help broaden an understanding. Books like “the Players’ handbook” or “I hope they serve beer in Hell” should be avoided as legitimate dating advice. I would also include most romantic comedies or romance novels as bad sources for realistic relationships. I think they would be good for identifying troupes.

To this effect, I think that “Mrs. Doubtfire” is one of the more realistic depictions of a relationship in a movie. The father is desperate to become a part of his children’s lives after his divorce and after his elaborate ruse is revealed, he loses custody and cannot visit them unsupervised (since he is now considered a deviant). He and his wife do not end up getting back together. He and his wife move on but eventually work something out- though she’s still pissed he lied to her. There were consequences for being a negligent husband and father. It sucks but that’s real life.

One of the books that I grew up reading was “The New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex, and Pleasure” by Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld. It helped me develop a deeper appreciation for the pressures and issues that men must deal with. As a woman, there is quite a bit of attention on how female sexuality is distorted through dated cultural perceptions and the view of modern media. To not acknowledge that men don’t have the same issues or misconceptions is foolish.

For instance, in Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides, the main character, Tom, is talking with his twin sister’s psychiatrist because she’s attempted suicide. Tom explains his family’s background and their childhood. At the root of the unified trauma of his childhood is when he, his mother and sister are raped by a group of escaped convicts. They are saved by his older brother and their pet tiger, Caesar (yes, a real fricking tiger) but they are told to never talk about the incident. No police, no hospital, no closure. He questioned his own sexuality for years and blocked out the incident because, “men don’t get raped”. He never talked about it, so he couldn’t deal with the issue.

Modern definitions of “rape” have finally evolved to include assaults perpetrated against men which, did not change in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report until 2013. When we talk about rape in media, the idea of prison rape is funny to must so there are lots of jokes about not dropping the soap, but we don’t do this when we talk about rape when it involves women. These things are equally wrong but with males, its more socially acceptable which is horrible.

When we perpetuate the stereotype that men can only be strong or dominating to be considered men it hurts people. In roleplaying, it means that there is an uptake of carbon copies of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone in their heyday doing MANLY things. Tall men, rippling muscles barely concealed by tiny shirts, carrying big guns and kicking ass while dealing shitty one-liners. Characters trying just so hard to be a badass that it’s laughable. Or the men that play the silent, stoic type that brood darkly in a corner and glower still hoping to win the girl.

“What do you mean you don’t want to go with me? Didn’t you see me just solo that big monster?”

Excuse me, you cannot see my eye roll through this wall of text.

I can’t tell you how annoyed it makes me to have people that are full of themselves parade themselves in front of me, talking about nothing but themselves and flexing. They reek of douchebag and I avoid those types as best as I can in real life and roleplay. The silent types… if you don’t TALK to someone ever, why should I be expected to like you? I mean, who says: “oh wow, that dude that doesn’t talk and stands in the shadows staring at me is SO SEXY, I WANT HIM”?

Then there are those other types. The “heroes” that go, “But I just saved you, why don’t you want to go out with me?”

There is this toxic idea that people are machines that you put tokens of “Kindness” into that will eventually drop out sex. This is true in real life as it is in roleplay.

No one is entitled to you for helping you.

You are not entitled to anyone if you help them with something.

Think about this a minute.

Take a scenario where you character has broken their leg and has fallen unconscious. When they wake up later in the hospital, they are told that DUDE B saved them. You are grateful, so you offer to buy them dinner or a beer. But DUDE B says, “You can thank me by having sex with me.”

Doesn’t that just FEEL skeezy? I mean, the nerve. You didn’t ask to be saved. Why do you owe him anything? You only offered something because that’s how you were raised. Someone does you a favor and you reciprocate the favor, but that doesn’t automatically mean you have to throw yourself at them.

A less extreme example is when two friends go out for lunch and one friend covers the other.

Does this mean that this is suddenly a date and sex should be the compensation for a meal?


No it doesn’t.

I don’t understand this notion that dates are a transitional affair.

Meal ≠ Sex.

Dates are supposed to be a way to get to know the other person. Sometimes dates are the first time that two people meet, and dinner/lunch is a safe time to get to know someone new. Think about it, you are both sitting in one place and aren’t being distracted by anything (put your phone away!) except the person sitting across from you.

It’s a neutral place to decide if you want to continue spending time with someone. Unfortunately, most modern approaches to dates consider it a short cut through all that relationship nonsense to sex, placing more pressure on both parties. The person that gets told "no" thinks feels he’s entitled to sex and the person that says no is made to feel worthless.

I have had guys tell me that they don’t consider women that put out on the first date worthy of a relationship. They also hate it when a woman does not put out on the first date. I have also told them that they are idiots. This is the type of thing that makes people crazy.

So what does this have to do with roleplay? Everything.

These are things that happen in real life.

Writers will write what they know. If someone feels that dates = sex, then their character doesn’t have sex on that first date, it can lead to some angry out of character ranting. Then the other player who turned them down gets to be berated in and out of character for saying “no”, when they shouldn’t feel pressured to write something they don’t want to. Which will likely lead to them not wanting to write relationships with that person or anyone in the future if they constantly get this sort of reaction.

If people want to yield more in character relationships in roleplay, they need to communicate positively with the people around them. Being a decent human being will get you further than being an entitled douchenozzle.

The characters need to interact normally in character to get to know one another to figure out if they like each other. I have seen far too many people just try to force a relationship with the first person of the opposite gender that talks to theirs. It’s easier than people think.

Talk to people, interact and if you decide that you want to date them, you make your intentions known.

“Hey, I really like you, would you like to go out on a date?”

Rather than, “Let’s hang out some time.”

If the other person tells you no to the date but yes to the hanging out, it might just mean that they want to be friends. That doesn’t mean that “nice guys” finish last. It just means that the other person is not interested and it’s creepy to hang around at the edges with the desperate hope that the person will come running back to you.

You cannot get mad for someone not being able to read your mind that you want to be romantically involved with them. It is not enduring to make puppy dog eyes at your friend and hope that they will some day look at you with the same love as you.

(I’m looking at you Taylor Swift).

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Love and distance

I remember being told that "long distance relationships will never work". That once distance is a factor that people will forget you and will do nothing but break your heart. I argue that this isn't always true. Nothing in this work is ever so black and white. Not every time you are apart from your partner will they stop thinking of you for the sake of another.

I'm sure this I where the fact that I am in a polyamorous relationship would garner cries of "your relationship is different, you don't have the same fears of being forgotten". Which also isn't true. There is large amount of trust that goes into any relationship, distance isn't a factor. Some people do not trust their partner's fancy to stray from their side if they go to the store without them, while others consider a few days apart suspect.

The success of a long distance relationship has more to do with mutual interest in making the relationship succeed and mutual trust between the people in the relationship. In my own experience, I have found that my "close friends" that are telling me that the relationship will fail are the ones trying to make it fail. They are trying to instill fragments of doubt to make me distance myself from the person I am with and make me stray. They come up with cute little sayings to justify cheating on your partner.

"It's not cheating if it's eating."
"It's not cheating if there's another zipcode involved."
"What they don't know, won't hurt them."
"It's just one night, what's the big deal?"

These people are the ones that need to get out of your life. They have no interest in your well-being and are only interested in having sex with you. They are doing it dishonestly by feigning interest in your well-being and feelings. They are instilling doubt to make you make that choice and alleviate them of any responsibility of what they are doing.

"I never forced you to do that."
"You are the one that came onto me."

Being alone and heartsick while someone you love is a world away is a very vulnerable time. You need to be strong and have faith in your relationship. Faith is something you can't touch, it's a feeling. You can't let people fill you with doubt that your relationship won't work. Have faith in your partner and in what you feel.

It's true, some relationships don't always work. Sometimes, it's through outside interference. The strength of your feelings just weren't enough to overcome the challenges of distance and while it might hurt, that's okay too. You have to know what you want out of a relationship. If you need someone nearby that you can spend most of your time with, then a long distance relationship isn't for you.

Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. In a long distance relationship, it's all you have. You have to be willing to initiate contact and keep it going. I remember a time where I wrote physical letters and waited for a phone call at my house because I didn't have a cellphone. Emails weren't an option a few years ago.

I can't open my phone without finding a dozen ways to stay in touch with any one person. Facebook, Twitter, instragram, snapchat, Line, Scout, Discord and all forms of email. There really is little excuse for not being able to stay in touch with someone you care about. There are some circumstances that may be beyond anyone's control, time zones, limited internet access but there are many ways to stay in touch, you just have to be willing to put forth the effort.

As someone in a relationship that has survived time and distance apart before being polyamorous was an option, I know it can work. =) Just don't give up. Send the people you love an email or facebook message or call them, they love hearing from you.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Coming out

Just a quick round of news. The first Entry of the comic is almost complete. The donation drive for Entry 2 is still open so if you want to help make this next issue and have your original character cameo through the issue, now is the time! When this Entry concludes, we'll likely go on a short hiatus to get the next Entry ready and will likely slowly update as the funds filter in. The plan is to have the next issue in full color so funding will make the comic happen faster.

If you are coming here from one of the many dating sites, HI!

For those confused, the next Entry of the comic is focused on meeting someone from a dating application and hooking up. When I originally started this blog years ago, I wrote a review about the dating sites I was using. Since times have changed, I have made some new accounts to click around. I don't have too much free time at the moment so all I can really do is type at people and swipe. But that is a blog for another day!

As a bisexual, I've had to answer the question about why and when I knew I was attracted to women. It's something hard to pinpoint because it's something that I've lived for most of my life. When do most people realize that they find something attractive?

I remember having "boyfriends" when I was 5. My mom thought it was cute when talk turned to marriage hen I was running around after church on Sunday with a little boy that told her he was going to marry me. Back in that age of innocence where kissing was scandalous.

I always found certain women to be pretty. I idolized She-Ra and Jem and the Holograms. The cartoon heroines were beautiful, talented, bold... blonde. I didn't think much of it.

I found my dad's porn stash when I was 9 and I started watching it out of curiosity. I recognized that it wasn't real. I had friends at 8 that were talking about having sex with their boyfriends and... I had a "boyfriend" that was pressuring me to have sex with him. I told my mom how inappropriate it all was. We were too young. I had already experienced Sex-Ed in health class and I knew it was serious business, this sex stuff.

No, this isn't the part where I say I had sex when I was 9. I didn't. I knew I wasn't ready for it. I had faith, I was a "good" girl. Sex before marriage was a big no from my Sunday school teachings.  I wanted to wait. And I did.

I got horribly teased when other girls saw me reading comics and drawing the super heroines there. They accused me of being a lesbian but I didn't understand what they meant.

I was a tomboy and my dad teased me about my combat boots and being a lesbian all through high school.

I was conditioned to considered lesbianism as wrong. It was in the porn, it looked like it was fun. The women were attractive. The men in porn are hit and miss as attractive but the women. Fantasies are interesting. With pornography, you are meant as a male viewer to project yourself onto the male lead or was a bystander in the room during the lesbian scenes. I have heard of some guys talking about imagining themselves as the woman. My thoughts turned that way at times. I imagined myself in the place of the guy.

I had seen things like strap-ons in the hentai comics I found. Cherry and Bondage Fairies were big influences. And I considered their use as I got older.

When I was old enough to start having sex, I had considered myself straight. People kept telling me that being interested in girls was wrong. They keep telling it to me. I had friends that were lesbians and they seemed happy, normal people. My mom got horribly upset when she found out one of my friends was bisexual. There was a level of betrayal in her voice when she talked to me that seemed misplaced.

"You've shared the same bed as her!"

"And we slept. What's the big deal?"

At 23, I came out and told my father I was bisexual. I had to convince him that there was nothing wrong with me. That it was okay, that  I was the same person I ever was. But he thought it was a phase and put that declaration on a shelf somewhere.

Years later, I told my dad that I wanted to introduce him to my girlfriend. It was stanch denial. How could this be? I was straight? How could I be a lesbian if I've slept with guys? I had never slept with women before, right?

It felt good to confront him about it. I was bisexual. There was nothing wrong with me. I could love whomever I wanted and it was not a failing of parenting. I had always been attracted to other women but it wasn't until college that I got to experiment. My friends were supportive of me and I was accepted. It wasn't gross, it was just a thing. It's more than waking up one day and deciding to wear your hair a different way, it was just me.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Feast or famine

Apologies for the delayed blog. I got home late from work Saturday morning and I'm trying to meet another deadline. The newest page of the Koko comic did make it on time! Which brings me to this week's blog topic: Time.

Tammy in this week's page. 

One of the biggest challenges I face in my life is time management. Professionally, academically or in my personal relationships. There just never seems to be enough time in the day for me to accomplish everything that I want to do. Sometimes, I just wish that I had some sort of life-hack like in the Sims were I would have infinite energy and money so I could devote all of my time to my relationships and my hobbies instead of wasting time at work or sleeping.

But this is real life. Time marches on. The world is there and it certainly isn't waiting for you. It becomes a balancing act. You have to allot time for the things you have to do- I mean, the things that you need to do to survive. You have to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. There is no real way around those three things. You can try to override one need for another but your body will rebel against you. You can be so hungry that you can't sleep. You can only hold your bladder so long before you should leave your bed. And the human mind can only tolerate so much sleep deprivation before it starts shutting down.

Since those things are unavoidable needs, you have to factor them into your day or else. People joke about being, "hangry", angry because they are hungry. But it's true. If you're body is not getting the things it needs, it impacts your mental wellbeing. People that are tired, tend to be grouchy.

Then there is the time you need to factor into your day for the things that you are required to do as an adult. If you have to work full-time, you have to factor in time for getting dressed, hygiene, your commute to and from work, and then your time at work doing professional things. You have deadlines and times for when you have to be places. You are a shackled by time. You make the decision about whether you can skip lunch to work on a project or if you can get by eating at your desk. You'll sometimes sacrifice a decent meal for snacks to get things done faster.

Then when you get home from work, you have to figure out what else you have to do. If you have a dog, like I do, I get to change my clothes and take the dog for a walk. It has to happen or else the dog will mess in the house, then it's one more thing to clean up. Then I have to try to balance time with my husband and any coursework or hobbies I might have. Do I have time to blog? DO I have time to work on my book? Do I have time to watch tv? Can I manage doing assigned reading for college while watching things with my husband?  Will Shep be satisfied with the shared time or do I need to take the time out to devote more specific focused time?

I don't feel like I have enough time but the truth is, that I have enough time as I give myself. If something is important, I will make the time in my schedule for it and then adjust my workflow around it to compensate. Time with my husband is important to me so I will make the time and then lose sleep to meet a homework deadline or I will tackle homework in a dead time at work.  I am grateful that I have great communication with Shep about how I devote my time.  If my schedule doesn't mesh up with Shep's, it means we're not doing focused couple things together all the time but that's okay too. Our relationship is strong enough that we appreciate what time we do get to have together even if it isn't technically, a "date". 

I have the freedom to work on what I need to or want to. And when I am free, or want to spend time, I can just let him know and we can do it. If he's unsure of what I'm doing, he'll just ask and we'll find the time. I think I get the most time with him in conversation when we are walking the dogs or driving somewhere for groceries. It's important to me to make the time in my day for all the things I need to do but I can't do everything in a day. So I try to spread it out.

When I am between classes, the opposite seems to happen. I don't know how to structure my time because I am not under a  deadline. And I feel unproductive so I make work for myself. I am glad for Google calendar since it helps me structure my time. So it brings up the question of how to fit another person into my already busy schedule. If it's important, I will make the time. Having a short conversation via text while doing something else is less of an investment than going out for coffee. If I know something is coming up, I can adjust my workflow or adjust my sleep (or lack thereof). But it means timing is everything. Communication is also important to set expectations for any relationship.

Will your partner be satisfied to only see you for X amount of time? Do you need to go on X dates to feel validated? How often do you need to physically be in the same room? You will never know unless you have that conversation.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


This week has been mentally exhausting for me. My hours have been shifting around so I haven't been sleeping well but it's made it harder to get my thoughts straight to settle down enough to properly write.  The comic gives me a chance to filter a specific narrative or concept into a visual form which is great but some of the memories that accompany certain scenes are hard to face again.

Tammy in this week's comic. Fantasy fulfillment?

I wrote last week about ending a relationship and on the comic blog I mentioned Dave and an abusive relationship. I haven't gotten the question about my decision to include it in the comic since it is an adult comic. It's porn, why include it at all if the business is presenting a sexual fantasy? It's storytelling but it's also a fragment of truth. It's a bit dark but I felt it was important to include, just like I felt it was important to describe the neglectful relationship preceding my marriage. I try to include an underlying truth in the narratives I create.

The stories I plan to tell in the comic have undercurrents of truth. You might have to truly know me to see what fragments of truth are glittering there under a patina of falsehood. It is a bit of fantasy fulfillment in the stories too. I want to present a narrative that is real. These people are real even if they aren't being fully presented as who they fully are.

It's why sexual fantasies are so powerful when executed correctly. You take a real thing and you take it a couple of steps too far and lose yourself in the untruth of it all. The things you wish had happened, that you want to be real. It can't be too far fetched, otherwise it's not a tangible fantasy.

For instance, a popular fantasy from my reading of Nancy Friday's "My Secret Garden" and "Forbidden Flowers" is an attractive authority figure pulling the woman aside to talk to her or to punish her (a spanking usually) and then gets too into it. The authority figure is lost in his passion for her and they have powerfully liberating sex. Or you and a co-worker are alone in the office and you have sex on the conference table or over your desk. Things that are a) risky, 2) forbidden, and 3) are based on somewhat real encounters.

I'm sure there is more literature about power exchange and submission that could be had at another time. It's a mindset. It's just one set of fantasies out of a multitude of fantasies. Not every fantasy is realistic or feasible. Not every kink can be mutually shared by another. I for one, am not a fan of physical violence in sexual situations which means I am not a sadist or a masochist. But that's someone else's kink. Some people get off on verbal abuse, not this girl.

Engaging in something like that can be liberating for the fetishist. I have found in my own interactions that many of abuse survivors have these violent fantasies that help them take their power back from the indignities and horrors they suffered, because if it's too much, they can end the encounter. This isn't true for everyone but many people discount the therapeutic aspects of sex with someone you trust and love. But many people aren't comfortable with telling the person that they are in a sexual relationship in what they fantasize about.

There is a sense of shame that people feel when it comes to expressing their sexual fantasies. A tangible fear that they will be judged and rejected. So people turn outside of their loving relationships to get the validation and acceptance that they need. They cheat because they cannot be sexually fulfilled in their normal relationship. So how can you head this off? How do you get comfortable talking about these kinks?

Everything starts with a conversation. It can be small. "Hey, I would really like to try having sex in a new position." or "hey, can we have sex with me in a costume?" Little things to test the waters. Or "hey, I love having sex with you but I want to try something different how do you feel if we do X?"

If you never ask you will never know what your partner might be willing to do or the heights of awesome sex you might be missing out on. =)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Ending a relationship

Koko <3 U! Entry 1 Page 5. Koko explaining.
This week's comic update will depict a particular relationship as a whole in about 5 panels. I will comment on that particular relationship on the comic blog directly but it brings up a good question, "When should you just give up on making a relationship work?"

There's no hard fast rules to this relationship thing since it is a very personal thing. What I might find acceptable behavior in my partners might not be okay in another relationship. For instance, some women think it is cheating for their partner to look at porn, sexy pictures of other women on the internet or looking at other women. The defense to it is that those pictures or videos aren't real. It's not the person engaging but some people argue that in their minds, the cheating has occurred, therefore, it is not allowed.
This is really disrespectful. He totally is being an asshole here.
I think pornography viewing is one of the biggest sticking points in most monogamous relationships. One partner is forbidden from watching porn or even masturbating because it is somehow cheating. If it was me and I was given such an ultimatum, I would consider getting out of that relationship. It's not that porn or masturbation is more important than my partner but because it's my partner dictating to me how I should be thinking, seeing, experiencing and doing. You cannot control where your mind wanders. If you give this person that power over you, what's next?

Do they start approving of who you are friends with? What you look at? Who you talk to? This is of course a worst case scenario but I have seen this sort of thing happen to my friends. One friend married a woman he met through WoW with a few children from another relationship but ended up not being to live with her since he was stationed overseas and she had to stay in the States to maintain her custody agreement for the kids. But he was forbidden from watching porn, or masturbating. He loved her and he agreed to it, but it did not stop her from yelling at him about what he was doing at any given point of the day. It was a seriously bad relationship. He found out later that he was paying for her ex's bills and he had paid off her debt but she was still racking up more.

He persisted in that relationship because he loved her. He wanted to make it work. She tanked his bank account and started killing his credit score by taking credit out in his name. They were married, she had a power of attorney. He tried to resolve the problems, his "porn addiction" and went to counselling. She starting dating other people through WoW and he eventually found out. He wasn't allowed to look at videos and she was sleeping with other people behind his back. She had taken control over him and it took 4 years of this sort of manipulation for him to say that he had enough. He finally filed for divorce.

I give him a lot of credit, he really tried to make it work. I just think that after he found out about her using his money to float her deadbeat ex he should have started questioning. He was being used. But he endured it out of love. He is now trying to repair his life and his credit.

In a 2015 issue of Psychology Today an article titled, "Top 10 reasons why relationships Fail" trust issues was cited as the number 1 reason. This isn't the only reason to end a relationship but it is a good one.

If you cannot trust your partner or if you feel that your partner does not trust you, why are you in a relationship with them? But more so, have you attempted to communicate with your partner your feelings of mistrust? Do you feel like you can actually talk to them?

If you can't communicate with your partner, then you might be in trouble. There has to be mutual trust and a good line of communication. If you have never even tried, you might want to consider talking to them.

The porn ultimatum is just one example of a trust issue but that issue is also rooted in jealousy. The partner could be saying that they don't trust their other with porn because they are afraid that they will go out and cheat on them if they witness sexual scenarios that they might not be willing to indulge in. Or perhaps they feel like they are inadequate compared to the porn star or someone else. It could be a matter that the idea of their partner looking is telling them that THEY aren't GOOD ENOUGH. I would argue that the act of scoping out another person or flirting with another in front of your partner is rude and disrespectful if you haven't communicated with your partner.

I actually thought the scenario in Beyoncé's "If I were a boy" music video was a good example of a deliberate level of disrespect for a relationship. I thought it was an interesting way to handle the topic.

It is possible to cheat on your partner while being open or polyamorous. How you might ask? By lying to them or being disrespectful towards their feelings. I would argue that flirting with someone else without talking to your partner about it is wrong. There have to be some managed expectations. It can be as simple as, "Would you mind if I flirted with some people at this party that I was interested in pursuing?" This way, it gives both people a chance to state what their expectations are and gives one partner to opt out. It's okay to say "No. I don't want to see you hit on other people in front of me. It makes me feel a certain way." This way both people know what the expectations are, that they are at the party together as partners and will be going home together or that they will be together for only a part of the night and possibly leaving separately. Managing expectations will save everyone's feelings at the end of the day.

But I digress, I was talking about the when you should end a relationship.

There are some good times to consider calling it quits on a relationship. For me the following things would end a relationship for me, regardless of the strength of my feelings.

  • If my partner ever hit me outside of martial arts training, it'd be over and the police would be involved. Physical abuse is the easiest determination of whether my partner is trust worthy. If it is ever okay in a romantic relationship to hit me outside of me trying to hurt them, fuck no. I'd be done. I've seen what physically abusive relationships do to people. I might love that person but I am no one's punching bag.
  • If I don't feel like I can trust my partner. I mean, after all of the talking and such has come to a wall. If I think my partner is lying to me about something important like a drug addiction not something trivial like not washing their dishes. There is a lot of risk with emotionally and physically engaging with someone else. You are opening your life to them and if they can't respect you enough to be honest, then they aren't worth your time. 
  • If my partner does something that makes me feel unsafe. If I am worried for my personal well-being at any point of my interactions with them.. then I definitely don't need to be in a relationship. 
  • If I felt like I was being manipulated into doing something about my morals. There are certain lines that I feel shouldn't be crossed. Certain things that will never be okay in my book.
  • If I felt like my partner isn't actually interested in me. I have already lived this, I definitely know what it feels like to be discarded. If I ever feel that way again, I would rather end the relationship than keep trying to make it work. 
For me a relationship needs to have: mutual affection, trust, and honesty. If something is missing then why am I wasting my time and theirs? Please note that I did not mention physicality. It is possible to be in a loving relationship without a physical component but their has to be a mutual understanding between partners. Just my thoughts for this week! I hope it's helpful! 

Monday, September 3, 2018

A bit about jealousy

Update is up! Check out the newest page of the comic:

I wanted to talk a bit about jealousy today. Of my top 10 questions about the lifestyle, “How do you deal with jealousy?” is definitely one.

In polyamorous and even open relationships, jealousy can mean the end for a relationship. Academically, there are two distinct terms that are used regarding this particularly sensitive emotion - envy and jealousy. Envy is when you see someone else with someone that you feel you lack, be it an item, or positive trait or a person whose attention you desire. We covet what we don’t have. Jealousy is our gut feeling when we feel like what we have is being threatened. Someone wants your shiny because they want it and you want to keep it, protect it, and most times, you are willing to fight for it.

I have described fear as a serpent that coils around you and threatens to squeeze the life from you. To me, jealousy can also be that same serpent but ends up manifesting as a dragon. We fear we will lose someone we love to some valiant knight or supple young maiden. Sometimes, we would rather burn what we have than lose it someone else. Our fear of losing the thing we love often makes us hurt the object of our affection, and we lose it anyway.

And it makes us feel like shit. So how do we deal with it? How do we not feel jealous?

The short answer is that we don’t.

The long answer is that we address the things that make us feel like less worthy of retaining the love that we have and want.

Let’s cut out all of the bullshit.

Strip away the other people entirely. The person you think is a threat and even the person you love. Let’s just look at ourselves for a moment. No one can make you feel anyway that you don’t let them. So why do we feel this way?

This brings us back to envy. If you are afraid of losing someone to another person, why? If you come back with the answer that they are: younger, more attractive, or more affluent, then it means you are envious. The answer has more to do with you being insecure about yourself than anyone else, this feeling will not go away until you learn to love yourself.

Let’s go further. Do you trust that your relationship is strong enough to withstand the existence or presence of another person? If your answer is no, then you really should not be attempting polyamory or open or swinging. There has to be trust in your partner and faith in the strength of your relationship or else this will not work.

Jealousy is rooted in our fear and insecurities.

Fear comes in and tells us that we aren’t good enough, so we will lose everything we love. In the end that we will be alone. All of our hopes and dreams will be scattered like ashes on the wind.

It’s all a pile of bullshit, lies we nurse because we have been taught that we lose something by letting our partner have their freedom. Lies that tell us that by engaging in this sort of lifestyle that our relationships with our primary are not worthwhile or valuable because we are willing to do things apart from them.

In a normal monogamous relationship, do you do everything with that partner? I mean, everything? Do you both have exactly the same hobbies, interests, and friends? Do you fully engage in everything that they do? Is there some hour of the day that you aren’t with your partner?

Typically, people spend time apart even in a happy and fulfilling monogamous relationship. People have other friends, hobbies, and places of work. Being apart does not lessen the affection or devotion you have for your partner. Loving your family, children or friends does not diminish the love you have for your partner.

When I felt jealous or inadequate, I looked at myself and asked why? I found in myself that I was insecure about my looks. I felt like attention devoted to pursuing someone else was a threat to me. But I thought about it. Was it really? You have to invest time to have a relationship with anyone, especially a new one. When I realized that I was afraid of not getting the same quality time, we made it a point to not take out time together for granted and scheduled time for us as well as for other people.

We take our time together for granted since we love each other and live together. I found by talking we had different definitions of quality time that were only revealed because I talked to Shep about my insecurities. But once I did, I stopped feeling inadequate. I stopped feeling jealous for the most part. I have faith that at the end of the day my husband will always come home to me. It's been 17 years, I have not been disappointed yet. <3

So while those doubts may never go away, I don't have to let that fear, that doubt rule me or make my life hell. I acknowledge it and move on with my life. If I have a  question about how Shep is feeling about something or me, I ask. I can only work on the things that I can control. If I don't like my clothes, I can buy new ones. I feel out of shape, I can go do some push-ups or run. I can improve myself for myself. I can't do it for anyone but me. I have to love myself before anyone else can be expected to and even that is a developing process.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Beginning Part 4

Before I get into the conclusion of my Poly origin story I wanted to state that this week has been extremely chaotic. The threat of Hurricane Lane sent most of the people living here on Oahu into a state of panic since a hurricane hadn’t touched this particular island in years. People had visions of rolling blackouts, flooding, and evacuations in their minds as they descended on every store that possibly could sell food and bottled water. We did lose power for a short while but nothing worth calling my insurance provider over.

Chaos continues with Mace so this week's update will be a sketch page. Click the image above to go to the comic.

Picking up where I left off last week, Shep and I had been married for about seven years when the conversation about experimenting came up. We had talked fairly broadly about my bisexuality and vaguely about the notion pulling another girl into a tryst with us but I wasn't comfortable with sharing my husband.

To clear up any misconception about the nature of our marriage before it gets asked- Shep and I were (and are) happily married. No crazy fights, no ultimatums, just clear communication. We had no secrets and a healthy and active sex life. We share the same hobbies so there was really no real moment of boredom.

I was at my high school reunion and spending time with my old friends, Tammy and Dawn included. Shep was out of town for a business trip. I was having fun and reconnecting with one of my guy friends that I had a crush on. Kevin had vanished after high school to the Army and did a couple of tours in Iraq. After some drinks, he admitted to having a crush on me too. It was crazy and typical, I had spent 2 years of high school single and crushing on this guy! Years later and happily married, he confesses interest. Talk about a little too late.

I laughed about poor timing and texted Shep. Then.. like it was nothing, he told me to go ahead and sleep with Kevin. I was a little tipsy and floored by this suggestion. I didn't understand where it had come from. So, I called Shep to get clarification.

Shep explained that he wanted to give me the opportunity to explore the possibility of being intimate with Kevin because I never had the chance in high school. I had to consider it. Was I ready to be casual about having sex with other people now that I was married? I thought of the idea of losing Shep to another woman, as I had lost others in the past and doubt twisted like a knife in my chest. But I trusted and loved Shep. Would I feel differently about Shep if I slept with another man? Sometimes, the best way to figure something out is to confront it, right?

I weighed these possibilities and insecurities in my mind. Together, we had the decision to try being open with the knowledge that we didn't love each other less. We just wanted to try something different. There was a lot to gain and, a lot to lose. I didn't know when the opportunity would come up again, it took a lot for me to trust someone. Shep had my permission to go hook up with someone on his business trip and I had his to sleep with Kevin or whomever else I wanted to at the reunion.

After my phone call, I pulled Kevin aside and propositioned him. I had my husband's permission and I wanted to explore the possibility with Kevin, if Kevin was game. He was surprised, a little apprehensive and skeptical until I showed him the text. No secrets, no lies, just honesty. Kevin didn't make any promises but we decided to allow the night to progress naturally with us flirting; the reunion had turned into our first date.

Kevin and I ended up in his hotel room. And from what I heard when Shep got home, he had some success as well. The conversation that we had following was interesting. Did we want this open thing to just be casual? Did we want to establish longer relationships? The answer at this point was that we just wanted the variety. We were just going to be open.

Over the time that followed, I realized that this wasn't realistic. For Shep, it's harder to find girls that just want to be casual and only have one night stands. He needed to establish relationships with people to do things with. But there was also the realization that you cannot control how you feel towards anyone. I knew it was possible to be in love with more than one person. The love for one would not diminish the love for another.

So we decided to open ourselves to the opportunity of love with other people. We became polyamorous. Then it was the question of how this was supposed to work. We didn't know anyone else that was poly or even swingers. We knew a bunch of bisexual women and homosexual men. It seemed like no one else wanted to deal with multiple legitimate relationships. We had to go to Google to get an idea of the terminology and literature on this whole poly thing. 

I started reading "Ethical Slut" and came to the conclusion that much of what they proposed in the book were common sense things that Shep and I had already figured out. Being clear and honest about what it is you want and expect from your partner is the key to making any relationship work. We formed plans and strategies for how we would manage our others, whenever we found them. The biggest thing while we were still being casual was using Google Calendar to manage our dates with other people and then making deliberate time for each other. 

There you have it. Shep and I being polyamorous was a logical and natural progression of our relationship. =) 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Beginning Part 3

Before I continue, just a reminder that the newest page of the comic is up at
Entry 1, "Rain" sketch preview.
The Beginning Part 3 

I had the notion that because I was his little sister’s friend that Shep would not be interested in me. I was afraid that he would see me as immature the longer we spent time alone with him. I prepared for my first date with Shep full of apprehension. 

The serpent called doubt had thrown its coils around me and tightened as I wondered if Shep had only said “yes” because he felt sorry for me. It was a sob story, I had JUST gotten out of the hospital and my boyfriend had unceremoniously dumped me. Was this just a pity date?

I had dressed and undressed about six times before I finally settled on an outfit that was more me than cute or sexy. I wanted him to take me seriously and to you know, like me. It might have been too low key, just shorts and a fitted Slayer t- shirt, but it was genuinely me.

I paced and fidgeted when eventually sat down on my couch as I waited for Shep to arrive. I thought about driving to meet him at the restaurant but it wasn’t like it was some blind date, I knew the guy for about a year and he was my friend. The idea of driving with him wasn’t all that bad. But I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep a serious conversation with him.

Shep showed up a little bit early and we just started talking. I was foolish to have felt so worried. We lost track of time and got a good sense of each other. The conversation carried itself. I am not ashamed to say that we didn’t make it out of the house. It was a steamy beginning to the relationship.

Both of us had been badly hurt and we skirted around using the “love” word. People throw that word around too casually without meaning it to manipulate people into doing what they want. I’ve known guys to drop the “love bomb” to get girls to open their legs and girls to get guys to open their wallets. Or to excuse abusive behavior.

“I only get so upset because I love you so much.”

It’s a goddamn lie.

I swore I would never use that word again unless I meant it.

A year of dating Shep later, probably sooner, I felt it, I was certain that I loved him. I didn’t want to say it unless I was certain. Sam made me question the validity of my feelings, did I ever truly love Sam? I said that I did. I thought that I did. But was it really?

Some people say that you can only love one person, ever. That’s how monogamy is supposed to work. You pick one person to be your shiniest lunchbox, marry them, and that’s it. That’s your one true love, your soulmate. But how do you know when that person is “the one”?

I think determining when what you feel is real is one of the hardest things that you can do. Truth is easily the act of simply being. We know we are alive because we are. We can quantify the minutiae of each moment to validate it: we draw air into our lungs; we can close our eyes and listen to our heart beat, and feel its pulse beneath warm skin- we are alive without saying that we are. Is love truly different?

To quantify it, being in love is like having an addiction. You live for the moment you are with that person and it hurts to be apart. You wait for your next fix- another kiss, another brush of warm fingers against yours, or sometimes, just the sound of their voice over the phone is enough. You can’t imagine your life without them, you just need them, want them to be with you always.

I had never thought about marriage. I never planned my dream wedding. I think the closest I got was putting a Barbie into a wedding dress that my grandma had made for me. So when Shep proposed to me, I was dumbstruck. I said yes but I had absolutely no clue of what to do afterwards.
Luckily, I guess, my mother, Dawn and Tammy took charge and forced me through the whole process of being a bride. I just wanted to be married. My mom wanted this big ceremony, so she planned it and interjected my handful of demands. 

A few months later, we were married. I never imagined our marriage would be anything but monogamous. Things did not evolve until Shep and I had our seventh anniversary as husband and wife...

To be continued in part 4

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Beginning Part 2

As bad as it was for me, mentally and emotionally. I held onto that relationship. It was one sided in effort but Sam had told me that he loved me and I took that seriously. I wanted it to work. I really did but I was struggling to get him away from the computer and away from April and Holly so I could just be with him.

It all came to a head when I had a breakdown. I was admitted to an inpatient ward. I needed help. I needed something to change. The medication that I was being prescribed wasn’t working and my doctor wasn’t much help. I sat in group and art therapy in an attempt to figure out what it was that I actually felt beside raw. My nerves were on fire. I felt like I had clawed my arms to pieces but there was still skin left to destroy. But as I sat in those sterile white rooms in pajamas and listened to the other people, I realized, that I didn’t belong there.

I knew I was sick. I knew that I needed help. I had come into the ward voluntarily. The others were there because they had actionable problems- they were suicidal, homicidal, needed rehabilitation from drug addictions. In the face of someone whose arms were covered from shoulder to wrist in cut scars, my problems were trivial. I had issues sure, but I didn’t want to stop living. I cared too much about my family to do it. I needed help and the doctors told me that they couldn’t help me. They adjusted my prescription for antidepressants, told me to come in to talk to a counselor to refill my medication. That’s all they could do for me, I was unwell, but I would be fine without them unless I was likely to actually hurt myself.

I am grateful for the perspective. But I was upset because I had been deemed unworthy of help because I was actively trying to get better. I wanted to feel like i had value again. I wanted to feel… wanted.

There is this one thing we learned in group therapy that I still reflect on. I still have the piece of paper they handed me. They called it the “Stages of Recovery” and asked us where we thought we were on it. It is as follows:

“Stage 1:

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Stage 2:

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Stage 3:

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall's a habit...but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Stage 4:

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Stage 5:

I walk down a different street.”

When I was in the hospital I had said I was at Stage 3. I was aware I was in the hole and it was my fault. I hadn’t gotten out of it but I knew why I was there. It was this fact that alienated me from the others in therapy. I recognized that I had the ability to heal myself. I just needed to get out of the damn hole.

Then I got the phone call. Holly called to tell me that she had taken Sam out on a date and slept with him, but she laughed and asked if I minded since we weren’t dating any more. I almost snapped my phone in half. This was a revelation to me. Sam had said we weren’t dating? Why hadn’t anyone, especially Sam told me that it was over?

I said something like, “I guess not.” And hung up. I was reeling. My friend had just laughed at my feelings. Sam hadn’t bothered to get hold of me when I was in the hospital. I did have missed calls from work, Dawn, Tammy, and Lisa. They cared that much, at least. I sat in the dark for a while after Holly’s call. I was angry, dejected and a little bit relieved.

I was free. No more World of Warcraft. No more all day raids. I could never log in and be done with it. If he had written me off enough to fuck someone else, and not actually tell me we had broken up, then fuck him. Holly could have him. I didn’t need him. I felt worthless since I wasn’t even worth a break-up text.

It took me a little while sitting alone in my room to figure out what to do next, after I snapped my game disk and uninstalled that damn game from my computer. My mom came by with cookies and a smile to see how I was doing post hospital and I just couldn’t hide it. I told her what happened with Sam. Mom told me that he was a jerk and suggested that I ask Shep out. He was a nice guy and a member (technically) of the same church, I was friends with him so why not? After my mom left and we had our fill of sugar and teary chatter, my phone rang.

It was Shep, it had gotten through the rumor mill of the church that I had been in the hospital and he was checking in on me. He had never called me before. It must have been providence. The timing of that call was too perfect. I asked Shep if he wanted to go to a movie with me and he accepted. I was never so happy for someone to say “yes”.

To be continued in Beginning Part 3!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Beginning Pt. 1

Today over at is the cover for the First Entry of Koko <3s U!

To open the blog and the comic I wanted to start at the beginning, since this Entry starts before I entered polyamory.

Hello to everyone just joining me for the first time! I am Kokoro Castillo. I am a married, bisexual woman in a polyamorous relationship. I started this blog because people kept asking me relationship questions. They were curious about how I got into this lifestyle and how I am managing it. I will answer questions and share my misadventures in the world of polyamory. I have changed the names and some of the descriptions to protect the identities of those involved. The comic will cover some adventures while the blog will offer more depth into how my setup works.

I would like to caveat that everyone who practices polyamory has their own way of doing it. It varies with the people in the relationship and what everyone is comfortable with. I feel that the only wrong way is not communicating with your partners or forcing a relationship to continue when it should just end. So it’s just like managing a monogamous relationship, just with more people to consider when scheduling anything. But more to follow in another blog entry about my dependence on Google Calendar!

I’ll start with things rolling with how I came to be in a polyamorous relationship with my husband, Shep, but to truly explain it, I have to start at the beginning.

After college, I started dating, Sam, a guy who was more interested in playing World of Warcraft than interacting with or having sex with me. It was infuriating to take time out of my schedule to spend it with him to be ignored. I thought I loved Sam and I started to doubt myself. Maybe I was too damaged, too clingy after exiting a relationship with Dave. Maybe I was just still too stuck on what I thought was love with Dave.

I smiled and tried to engage with him. I caved and made a damn WoW account thinking that by getting involved with something he was interested in, we’d have more in common. I tried to enjoy the game that he loved so damn much and I just could not get into it. The colors were too garish, the story left me wanting, I hated everything about it because every minute we were in the game, the less we did in real life. The guild was more important, raids were definitely more important. I resented Blizzard; I resented Azeroth; I resented that he was more attracted to his buddy’s Blood Elf mage than to me.

Sam poured everything into that game. I had nothing. I suffered through it thinking that maybe I just wasn’t worth the effort. I fell into a deep depression and rarely left my house except to get groceries or to go to work. I had lost my spark. I started to stagnate. My photography lacked vision, I suffered through a job in a department store portrait studio and felt my soul die each day I spent in that cheesy vest and hat.

My best friends from high school, Dawn and Tammy, did their damnedest to get me out of the house to do something, anything besides play that damn game. We did mostly low key things; dinner, movies and talked about anything that wasn’t WoW. A few of my other friends in our circle from high school, April and Holly, were less enthusiastic about getting me offline since they were feeding that Sam’s addiction by scolding ME for daring to miss a raid to go to a movie. I should have realized that they wanted Sam and me out of the picture.

I was lucky, I had friends that actually gave a damn. Another friend from my family’s church, Lisa, made it her mission to get me involved with the women’s group meetings and went out of her way to get me to go. I actually had one college class a semester earlier so we had something more than religion to talk about. I’m not religious, and my bisexuality put me in a strange place within our faith, so I figured that it couldn’t hurt. I needed the validation, so why not God?

I had almost forgotten that Lisa was an American Otaku. There is a difference, but that’s a topic for another day… but it made sense. She was another art major but our mutual class was Japanese. We talked about our favorite manga, anime, and ships before we went to the church to enjoy more… pious activities… like… scrapbooking… or… baking cookies BUT I actually enjoy those things. We started brainstorming ideas for our own manga and she even drew some incredible concept pages. There was even talk of forming our own artist group to go to conventions to tell our manga. Those days visiting with her were a lot of fun in my routine of work and hating WoW. Between Dawn, Tammy and Lisa, I might have been able to keep going in my relationship with Sam, they brought me back to reality.

One afternoon while visiting with Lisa, we were chatting about our favorite old anime series. I was looking through her anime when a male voice joined the conversation and started talking about Mahou Tsukai Tai. Since Lisa didn’t seem concerned, we had a conversation and when I turned around, there was some random guy sitting in the living room. Being polite, I introduced myself and found out that he was Lisa’s older brother, Shep. He had just moved to the area and was crashing with Lisa until he found his own place.

I was attracted to Shep and we had a lot in common but, I was dating Sam. I loved Sam. And he was my friend’s brother, I couldn’t do that to her. I was there to hang out with Lisa, not Shep. But he was there, and we all hung out together watching anime and just making conversation about everything. I figured that because I was his little sister’s friend that he wouldn’t be interested in someone like me. I had a mile long list of everything that was wrong with me. My self-esteem had been shredded, why else would my boyfriend have zero interest in me if there wasn’t something wrong with me?

I was in a bad place. It wasn’t really me, it was my depression controlling my life and destroying my identity. I was putting on a happy face for my friends who were trying to make me feel better. I was putting on a smile for my family, the people at work, I was smiling in Teamspeak for the damn guild. I felt my mask cracking under the pressure of it all. I wanted to scream. I wanted to take Sam’s computer, smash it to bits, and burn it to ash. I didn’t want to interact with him through a monitor. I didn’t want to carry a gaming laptop to his apartment and play way. I wanted him to actually touch me; notice me.

To be continued…

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Return of Love.

It's been what feels like forever! Just a short update to get everyone back to speed. This project will be returning but slightly different. I'm partnering with a few friends to create Koko <3 U! In hentai comic format!

Check it out at . Definitely Not Safe for work but click responsibly.

If you like to help fund the project to make comic pages materialize faster, then please follow the link and donate to the next issue.

Koko <3 U! Was originally a relationship blog talking about the trials and adventures of Kokoro and her others as they embarked on a journey to find polyamory love. As a comic, we'll still touch on that but some aspects will be more heavily altered.

In a sense, it'll be touch like Nancy Friday's "My Secret Garden" with fantasies but there will be some dramatizations of some real life events. Just how much is truth and how much is fiction will be up to you to decide.

Names, descriptions and such will be altered to protect the not so innocent but I'd rather not be sued. Much <3! I'm excited to be back. Shep and I have so many stories to share. ;) Many thanks to my artistic partners at Pink Panties Productions for wanting to help me get this rolling. Stay tuned!

~ Koko

<3 You!