helen-louise (baratron) wrote,
helen-louise
baratron

academic bi-poly survey

I did this survey.

Here are my answers: .
1.What gender do you self-identify as? Check all that apply:
Female Geek

2. What is your age?
27

3. What is your racial-ethnic identity?
Mixed race British & Asian

4. Country of birth:
UK

5. Country of present residence:
UK

6. State/province of present residence:
London

7. Present residence type:
Urban

8. Religious identity:
Complicated - Christian with pagan bits and a dislike of what Christianity means to many lgbt people.

9. Profession:
Chemistry graduate, doing a crap part-time job, applying to teach chemistry

10. Are there children or step-children who you are playing a part in raising?
No

12. Is your first language English?
Yes

15. Which statement applies best regarding your bisexuality?
I am attracted somewhat more to people whose gender identity is similar to mine than I am to people whose gender identity differs from my own. (Kinsey 4)

16. Does it matter to you whether you have lovers from more than one gender group at a time?
I prefer that more than one gender be represented among my lovers at any given time.

17. In the past, have you ever identified as heterosexual?
No

18. In the past, have you ever identified as lesbian/gay?
No

19. Was there ever a time in your life when you preferred monogamy?
No

20. In addition to being bi and poly, do any of the following subculture / lifestyle identities apply to you? (check all that apply):
Geek, gamer, disabled

21. Did you identify as bisexual first, or as polyamorous first?
My bisexual identity development preceded my polyamorous identity development. (I didn't write this, it was a tick box).

22. How old were you when you first heard a reference to bisexuality (in print, film, or by word of mouth)?
12

23. How old were you when you first experienced an attraction to (or fantasy about) someone whose gender was different from your own?
9

24. How old were you when you first experienced an attraction to (or fantasy about) someone of your own gender?
11

25. How old were you when you first realized that you were bisexual?
12

26. How old were you when you first came out to someone else as being bisexual?
18

27. How old were you when you first became lovers with someone of your own gender?
22

28. How old were you when you first became lovers with someone of another gender?
18

29. How old were you when you first heard a reference to polyamory / open relationships (in print, film, or by word of mouth)?
19

30. How old were you when you first realized that you were interested in having relationships with more than one person at a time?
21

31. How old were you when you first came out to someone else as being interested in having relationships with more than one person at a time?
21

32. How old were you when you first had a relationship in which polyamory was a mutually agreed upon choice?
21


33. What factors helped you to become aware of your preference for polyamory?

For me, your points 30, 31 and 32 occurred within a 24 hour period - I realised I was polyamorous, told my current and prospective partner that I was polyamorous, and entered into a poly V-type relationship. Yes, it was a very confusing 24 hours.

I'd first heard about poly 2 years earlier, from a friend who was poly, who had seen the way I interacted with people and thought I probably would be happier with non-monogamy. But I violently rejected the term. I saw poly as being about sleeping around and casual sex, which was very much against what I believed in at that time. I believed in "true love", and only having sex with people you were in love with. Somehow I failed to notice the part about poly being about _loving_ lots of people.

So I carried on trying to do monogamy for another 2 years after hearing about poly, and was spectacularly bad at it. I kept falling in love with other people, and only having the choices of "suppress these urges" or "have an affair". I chose each of those a couple of times. Although whenever I did get interested in someone else, I blurted all the information out to my partner at the time. He seemed not very concerned by any of it, which made me rather confused. Wasn't he supposed to get jealous? I was jealous of all his friends, let alone the ones I thought he might be interested in. Which of course was yet another reason why I _couldn't possibly_ be poly.

(Your question 19 only having a yes/no answer is not ideal for me, because I never _preferred_ monogamy at any stage, but I really tried to do it: because I thought it was what you were supposed to do or that giving up my feelings for other people was a sign of dedication to my partner. Only much later did I discover that many people did not have feelings for other people while in love with someone - I thought everyone had them and they were just better at suppressing them.)

Anyway. So after 2 1/2 years with my partner, the last year or more rather unhappy, I found myself having fallen in love with my best friend. He was around for me all the time, and was a support in the way that I thought a partner should be. And suddenly I realised: "oh, I love you". But I was still madly in love with my existing partner, and leaving him just wasn't an option. So I had to find some way of being with both of them, and suddenly remembered these other friends I had who somehow managed stable relationships while not being monogamous. And thus had the very confusing 24 hours of realising (a) that I was poly, (b) that I wanted to _be_ poly, and (c) that I had to make this work somehow with two people who preferred monogamy.

The whole thing went pear-shaped with my existing partner a few months later for reasons mostly unrelated to polyamory (i.e. the fact he had been sleeping with someone else behind my back for a while, and there's the whole issue of him and his "it's hypocrisy to be polyamorous, because it's disrespectful to tell your partner if you have an affair", but that would take a whole new essay by itself).


34. What factors helped you to gain awareness of your bisexual identity?

This one is very simple. I knew that same-sex crushes were common during adolescence and thought little more of mine. But then I read a story called "Hetero, Homo, Bi or Nothing" by Bernard Ashley, which described the different possibilities for sexual orientation. I knew I wasn't a lesbian, because I fancied men (not boys of my own age, adult men pop stars). But I was pretty sure my same-sex feelings weren't just fleeting hormonal things. I read the word "bisexual" and the description, thought "yep, that's what I am", and had no more trauma or crisis associated with it ever again.


35. Do you view your bi identity development and your poly identity development to be independent or related phenomena? In what ways might one have influenced the other? In what ways might they be distinct?

For me, they are completely independent. Apart from those few crushes on girls at school, I had no interest in relationships with girls until I came out to myself as poly and started going to poly and bi things. This is because I identify strongly as a geek. My main interests are in science, technology and computing - not typical girl things like makeup, horses and boys. Even the pop stars I liked weren't fashionable. So I had nothing in common with the vast majority of girls I knew - only with the handful of other geek girls.

Even at university, studying chemistry, I found that most of the girls on my course wore full makeup and other feminine fripperies to class. High heels in a chemistry lab? I think not. But they did. And so I really didn't want to talk to them, as they'd bully me and laugh at me like the girls at school had done. My friends were the handful of other nerds who were always in the computer room, all male of course.

It wasn't until I started going to bi and poly events, and discovering that just about all the other women there were geeks, that I had any interest in dating women at all. My first adult same-sex crush was on a biology student, and my first female lover was a computer programmer. Women I actually had something in common with, whose brains worked the same way as mine.


36. Some bisexual people choose a polyamorous relationship style because it allows them to simultaneously date people from more than one gender group. To what extent was a desire to simultaneously date people from more than one gender group a motivating factor in your own choice of polyamory?
It was not a motivating factor in my choice of polyamory


37. What is your CURRENT relationship structure?
I have two partners, Richard and Alexa. Richard is male-bodied and Alexa is female-bodied, but we all have rather non-gendered, geeky brains. Both my partners are more feminine than me, though I'm hardly butch.

I have been involved with Richard for 6 years and with Alexa for around 16 months. Richard is "more primary" than Alexa because the relationship has been going longer and we live together all the time and share finances. However I would not describe Alexa as a secondary partner, as we have considerable mingling of living and finances, just less so than with Richard. She stays with us for about half the time (at the moment), though this has been increased by her current illness/disability.

Richard is basically heterosexual and monogamous. His interest in other partners seemed to shut off when he got involved with me, to the extent that he doesn't even really notice other women as attractive unless he's asked directly and has to think about it. Some of this stems from his strong introversion. Being around other people takes energy from him, so it would be stressful for him to have more than one romantic partner. I half-joke that his programming projects and paintball are his other partners, as he schedules for them in the same way that I would schedule time with other partners.

Alexa is bi and poly. She has another partner, Rowan, of around 5-6 years. They have lived together in the past but do not currently. Rowan has another partner, Martin. We are a discrete "polymolecule" but not polyfidelitous. My partners spend social time with each other fairly often, but I see Rowan occasionally and Martin very rarely.

Richard has blanket permission to have another partner, but seems unlikely to want to. Alexa did have a third partner when we got together, but that person started a new relationship and decided she wanted to be monogamous. I wouldn't particularly mind if she got involved with someone else, but I'd like lots of time to check out the new person first and make sure they understood the situation/get to know them.


38. What is your IDEAL relationship structure?

It's really hard to say. In an ideal world, I suppose I'd like to be part of an equal primary triad with a man and a woman, with us all being free to have other secondary lovers. But this is unlikely to happen with my current partners, and I'd rather keep my current partners than have an ideal structure.

I also really like the idea of hot boy-boy action (hey, if men can admit to liking bi women...), so I'd be open to an equal quad, but I think the more people who get involved, the more complicated things become, and I'm not sure that it would be possible _for me_ to be happy in that structure.

I dunno. Ask me when I'm 80 and I've had a chance to try the different options.


39. How many of the people who you are romantically involved with live in your household at present?
1.5

40. What are the genders of your current partners / lovers? (i.e., 2 female, 1 FTM)
1 male, 1 female

41. Which people in your life have you told that you are bisexual?
One or more parents / step-parents / guardians
One or more romantic partners
One or more heterosexual friends
One or more gay / lesbian friends
One or more co-workers
One or more people who you knew primarily in an academic setting (classmate, professor)

42. Have you felt welcomed and supported in your identity as a bisexual person by:
Most of the people who you are out to

43. Which people in your life have you told that you are inclined towards polyamory?
One or more romantic partners
One or more monogamously-inclined friends
One or more polyamorously-inclined friends
One or more co-workers
One or more people who you knew primarily in an academic setting (classmate, professor)

44. Have you felt welcomed and supported in your identity as a polyamorous person by:
Most of the people who you are out to

45. What proportion of your friends are bisexual?
More than half

46. What proportion of your friends are polyamorous?
Half

47. What proportion of your friends are both bisexual and polyamorous?
Half

48. Do you know of any experiences which are unique to people who are both bisexual and polyamorous, that people who are straight/gay and polyamorous do not experience?
Having two partners who are also involved with each other? er... that's about it. Getting abuse for being in a same-sex relationship _and_ for being in an opposite-sex relationship, from different groups of people _at the same time_.

49. Please state what methods you use with your various partners to reduce the risk of STD transmission.
Well. Since I recently became violently allergic to latex, and also react slightly to polyurethane and silicone, my method has been to not have sex with anyone apart from myself. This, frankly, is a completely crap solution, but until I figure out a better one I'm a bit stuck. I think even just thinking about having sex now makes me itchy, and I feel uncomfortable initiating sex when I might want to stop halfway through, so until I get over the psychological barrier, I'm not doing anything.

50. Please list any sexually transmitted diseases that you have ever been diagnosed with, and state whether the symptoms first appeared before or after you first entered into a polyamorous relationship.
None. This is not related to my answer to 49.


52. What future topics of research about bi-poly people would you propose, if any?
Disabled people and polyamory - multiple lovers means extra support? Disabled people can be in relationships with other disabled people and with able-bodied _at the same time_, thus have the benefit of both worlds? There's always someone who's not sick?

Something about geeks and gifted children, but I'm not sure what. Just that lots of us seem to have been excessively bright as kids, and marginalised early. ("You nerd, you'll never get a boyfriend" - eh, now I have three, so screw you!).

Mental illness and bi-poly. Related, or unrelated? Did your therapist try to blame all your problems on your sexuality even when they clearly had nothing to do with it (and in fact when your relationships were the only part of your life that was going well).


53. How did you hear about this study? (if on a forum or mailing list, please specify which): (comment)
On livejournal - username mactavish.


54. If you like, please write your feedback concerning this study:
It's generally very good, and reads like you know what you're talking about. I like your use of "more than one gender" rather than "two genders". 17, 18 and 19 could use "Other" boxes. And I didn't pick "Other" for 15 because the box didn't look big enough to fit my statement in (my attraction to men as partners seems to have shut off, as if that "box "in my life has been filled, but I still find them attractive aesthetically and occasionally more than aesthetically).

I reproduce these here for my reference, and because other people have asked recently about my relationships and when I first realised I was bi and poly. So it saves me writing that out again ;)
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