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Dating and App Culture: Options, Acronyms, and WTF is Compersion?

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following, we reassess and redefine those rules, and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more open minded. I'm your host, Erin Keating.


Today I want to talk about what changed out in the world of dating, romance, relationships, and sexuality while I was in captivity. And uh, captivity is my affectionate name for my marriage. So much changes when you're in a long marriage, you are in your own bubble of your dynamic with your partner, you are children if you have children. You're living your life. [00:01:00] You're not focused on how do I get love? How do I get sex? How do I fulfill my desires in quite the same way?


It's a different mode. It's a different way of interacting with the world. And a lot has evolved in the culture of sex and relationships since I got married in 2006, which feels like the Paleolithic era. Well, areas where I think things are so different are In dating apps. I also think people are questioning monogamy now that marriages are longer than they've ever been before and partnerships are meant to withstand different phases in people's lives.


There's a lot. going on out there in the culture, at least for us liberal coastal elites, [00:02:00] who live in hotbeds of experimentation and debauchery like Los Angeles and New York. Um, but I imagine it's probably pretty ubiquitous, this notion of ethical non monogamy and polyamory and all of this terminology that we see, there has been an explosion of definitions.


There's been a lot of evolution in how people are defining their relationships. And perhaps this is a Petri dish and perhaps this is a small sample size. But I think it's worth talking about because there's some interesting thinking going on out there. It's not the 1960s It's not the 1970s, but we're talking about multiple partners and all of these ideas that break the rules of conventional Monogamous Union.


I'm not saying I believe that any of them can work inside a conventional union, but I'm not saying they can't So let's get [00:03:00] into it a little bit dating apps are amazing. I know people approach Online dating and the app culture with a lot of dread and a lot of skepticism, especially if they've never done it before.


And there is a proliferation of dating apps. None is perfect. Back in the day when I was dating before I met my husband, I dated online in the early days of dating. Online and I'm actually met my husband online. So I am not skeptical about this approach. I feel like it helps you get clear about what it is that you want.


It helps you get clear about who it is that you want and kind of the terms and conditions of the relationship that you're looking for. So out there there is match. com. I didn't go on it [00:04:00] because it feels like an old school approach to online dating, and I wanted to be current with the current apps and try the ones that my friends were telling me about.


And the ones that I think are probably most ubiquitous, obviously there's Tinder. Tinder, a friend of mine called the DMV of dating apps. It's everyone looking for everything. So you might think it's a hookup app, but that was not my experience. My experience was, it was Literally every kind of person looking for every kind of thing.


It's not rarefied air, right? I met a couple guys on Tinder who I liked a lot. So I think it's a possible place to find someone. But boy do you have to sort through a lot of dudes to find someone who's worth talking to. Uh, cause everyone's there. There's Bumble, which a lot of sophisticated women that I know like because women make the first move on Bumble.


They identify who they like, and then those people can [00:05:00] respond. I personally am not a first move making girl. Maybe I'm just too insecure, but I feel like I can feel confident that a man is into me if he reaches out to me. And All of what I'm going to talk about here is super heteronormative. I am a cis gendered heterosexual female, and that's the perspective that I come from.


I'm a straight woman, so I'm going to talk about men, but I think this conversation is relevant in a lot of ways to people who don't identify as I do and might be queer or bi or however you identify. So Bumble has a sophisticated interface. It looks good. It's easy to use, but women have to make the first move.


And that's not my mode. I want to be hit on, really. I want to be hit on because that shows me that you're into me. Other apps that I use to include OkCupid, which is also kind of an every person app. It doesn't feel current. It feels like. Maybe someone got a free account and that's why they're using [00:06:00] it.


It doesn't feel like it attracts the most sophisticated clientele hinge. I found to be good. It has a personality. It allows you to answer a lot more questions and offer a lot more details about yourself. People include audio excerpts in there. Profiles. And it's cool to hear people's voices and how they express themselves.


I did meet a couple of people on hinge who I liked. I did feel like it's not necessarily a hookup app. It's definitely felt like people were looking for relationships and invested in their profiles accordingly, as in made a lot more effort. So I appreciated that too, even though at the time I was not looking for the love of my life, I did appreciate getting to know the people through their profiles more on Hinge.


In the more niche arenas... There's J Date, I'm Jewish, and so I always think I'm gonna [00:07:00] find a Jewish guy on J Date. I'm gonna find an orthodontist on J Date. I'm gonna find a dude who's, who's age appropriate according to J Date, which is someone who's 70. It did not work for me. I'm sure there's hot Jewish guys on there.


They somehow don't respond to my profile. But I do think if you're, if that's important to you, that's a good spot to try. There's also Raya. Raya is for people who are famous or fame adjacent or starfuckers, really. People who want to be, uh, close to celebrities. They never approved my profile, and so I can only tell you that the people I know who are on there.

have had weird adventures with people who are fame adjacent. And if you're into that, go for it. See if they think you're worthy. I think it's hilarious that there's a vetting process for people to be on the particular dating app in order to keep it exclusive, [00:08:00] even though it's clearly not that exclusive.


Anyone's an influencer, right? So my imagination tells me that Raya is full of influencers. I mentioned before on another episode that there's an app that's just for sexting. It's called Pure. I enjoyed that app when I was first coming out of my marriage just as a reintroduction to the horniness of men and desire in general and how it's expressed currently on the internet.


I found it fascinating and definitely had some fun sexting exchanges with people. It feels very low stakes. It's very anonymous. And that can be very fun. My favorite dating app is called F. E. E. L. D. F. E. E. L. D. And really what I found on there was people who are really honest and clear about what they want.


And a lot of what they want was pretty unconventional [00:09:00] when it came to the structures of relationships. So there were a lot of people there who talked about ethical non monogamy and polyamory and they used all this amazing lingo that I had to look up. on the internet and was very interested in anthropologically how people were defining their sexuality and their desires.


I think it's not just a hookup app. It felt very real to me and very deep. And I also am interested in people who are creative and artistic. And there were definitely a lot of artists and people. who are living more alternative lives on field. But then there were a lot of more conventional men who were looking to do things that were slightly unconventional in their romantic and sexual lives.


And so I found that very intriguing. I find honesty very intriguing. I find directness very intriguing. I find clarity extremely compelling. And so for me, because I was interested in all of those [00:10:00] things and I was interested in being direct and clear. I met a lot of men on field who I thought were really interesting guys, hot guys, and ended up having some really deep friendships as a result of starting out on a place like that, where we were kind of all on an open basis in terms of communicating our desires.


So That's me. That might not be you, but that was me. I would say that my top two are really field and hinge and take a flyer on Tinder. You never know. Uh, and if you don't mind making the first move, people love Bumble. Uh, I think there's definitely quality people on Bumble. So let's get into the lingo.


There is so much lingo that it's like a linguistic revolution around relationships. Right. And I have a gut response to. All of this language that is completely my opinion and. I'm going to share with you what some [00:11:00] of this language is meant to convey, and then what it conveys to me. I think sometimes when you head into the world of alternative definitions of relationships, alternative modes of sexuality, fetish, kink, you almost end up in like a Dungeons and Dragons Comic Con universe.


It almost gets so nerdy that you're splitting hairs in such a profound way. But it doesn't have to be that. And the language is really fascinating. So one thing that I loved when I saw it in a profile was GGG. And this is an acronym that sex columnist Dan Savage coined about 20 years ago. And it stands for good giving and game.


And when I saw that in a man's profile, I thought, Oh, this person likes sex. They want to be. generous in bed and they're up for anything. So it's GGG is good giving and game. Be good in [00:12:00] bed, give equal time and equal pleasure to your partner and be game, be up for anything within reason. So that was really my favorite thing to see because that's how I think of myself.


And that feels just like open, healthy sexuality to me. Another thing that comes up again and again is E N M or C N M ethical non monogamy or consensual non monogamy. And sometimes people really mean it when they say, Oh, I'm ethically non monogamous. Sometimes they really mean it. Sometimes they've read the book, the ethical slut.


That is a book that a lot of men that I met in my journeys had on their bookshelves that I believe no one has ever read. So you want to buy it to show that you have this on your mind. I'm sure some people have read it. The notion of ethical non monogamy is [00:13:00] basically, I'm going to sleep with whoever I want and I'm not going to lie about it.


I don't want to be monogamous with one person, but I don't want to be an unethical person. I don't want to be a liar. I think there's a fine line between what is ethical and what is honest and what is fully truthful. I think everyone who uses this phrase applies this notion differently, and I think honesty is defined.


In so many different ways. And to me, what's problematic about this term is that what it means to each person seems completely discretionary. So I described myself as ethically non monogamous. But just using the phrase ethically non monogamous doesn't make the ethical part true. And sometimes I found myself having a hard time distinguishing between whether I just like sleeping with a bunch of different guys and I'm willing to tell my partners [00:14:00] that because I don't want to have any secrets or have any false expectations, or whether I'm just sleeping around.


I don't know whether the term is really necessary when it comes to what I was doing because I think it probably could have been encapsulated by I'm seeing a bunch of different people. Now, for partnered ethically non monogamous practitioners, so that's somebody who has a partner, a wife, someone they live with, their baby mama, whatever, you really have to take their word when they say they're ethically non monogamous.


And sometimes I wondered whether someone was saying that they were ethically non monogamous, that they had permission to be dating other people from their spouse, their partner, their primary, we'll get into that language too. Or whether they have a don't ask, don't tell kind of relationship where they really do what they want, but if they do it [00:15:00] secretly and their partner knows.


Ish, but maybe not. I don't know about how ethical that is. I mean, if it works for you, I'm not here to sit in judgment, but I just think the language doesn't encapsulate the full nuance of what is actually going on. I think sometimes when people are in a couple and they want to redefine their relationships, they do that out of the view of whoever the third party partners might be.


Right? So you're not a witness to those conversations and. It's interesting to me to have to take a stranger's word for, Oh no, my wife thinks this is okay. Because maybe their wife doesn't think it's okay. But that's what happens in dating. You have to take people at their word, but you can't actually ever know what the real truth is.


Of what someone is telling you and you have to really lean into trust when it comes to these [00:16:00] types of definitions. So I mentioned don't ask, don't tell. That is a practice where partners agree not to ask or tell each other about the things they're doing outside of their partnership. That is very interesting to me.


I don't know that I love that as a way of approaching non monogamy, but I do understand that that could save you some pain. If you have a tendency to be jealous, um, and you can't even conceive of your partner being with somebody else, they have said that that's what they need, and maybe you have said that that's what you need, and that you're committed to the central partnership of the two of you.


I think it's really fascinating that people can live with this kind of arrangement. But there's definitely an out of sight, out of mind component, and that is the way that some people do work to define an unconventional thing that they might be doing. One thing that people are [00:17:00] chasing when they step out of a monogamous relationship is this term called NRE, which is New Relationship Energy, right?


And everybody knows what that is. It's a phenomenon, and this is where I am personally right now, where you're just deeply infatuated with someone. And it's like a borderline obsessive feeling where you're thinking about them all the time and you can't wait to see them. And you're so excited and passionate.


That is the thing that goes away in a long term relationship. And I think it's a thrill and an excitement and a life experience that people who pursue non monogamy are really looking for. They are. Chasing that high of, mm, feels so good. Feels so exciting. Feels so new. Feels so fresh. Everything's discovery.


Everything is lit up about the new dynamic and. Gosh, I mean, I don't know if I could be in a long term relationship with someone who was [00:18:00] chasing that outside of our Dynamic, but there are certainly people out there who are doing that and one thing that people talk about is this notion of compersion. Compersion is a really intense thing to try to wrap your head around.


So this notion of experiencing Or feeling joy for your partner when they are excited about a new relationship or when they are turned on by some new sexual thing that they're experiencing. We feel compersion for friends, right? We feel comparsion like, I'm so excited for you that you got this new job.


I'm so excited for you that you are experiencing this new joy, this new lease on life, this incredible adventure. That you had this hot thing happen to you, whatever it is that your friend is experiencing, you can feel that joy and support for a loved one. Compersion is the notion of doing that [00:19:00] with your primary partner when they go out and find sexual satisfaction with someone else.


Or you're having a sexual experience with them and other people, which is a thing that people pursue. Maybe you're all in the same room. Um, I've not been there since college, but I can imagine how that could be fun if you can experience this sense of, oh my god, they're so turned on, they're so lit up, I'm so happy for them that they're having this experience.


I think it's hard. I think for me it would be really hard. It's not unimaginable, but it feels like it would be really hard to not be jealous and to not think, Oh God, they feel this good with this other person, but they don't feel like that with me. Or it's been so long since they felt like that with me, but.


That is all the tricky stuff that navigating this sort of world of alternative definitions of relationships and sexuality has opened up for a lot of [00:20:00] people. You hear the word polyamory, which is people who decide To actively participate in multiple relationships at one time, so they might have two or three regular partners, or they might have a primary partner, their nesting partner is another phrase that I heard.


And then they go and play with other people on a regular basis. This is almost like the French notion of having a mistress, right? And it's not just France, but France. The French are so out about it. Where a man will have a wife, and this is really male centric because I don't think there are a lot of conventional cultures and conventional cultural practices that favor the woman in a polyamorous situation.


The notion is you have a primary partner. You do your life things with that person. And then you also have another relationship that might [00:21:00] have a different set of rules and definitions. And that could be called a mistress in old school parlance. Old school heteronormative patriarchal parlance. And that person is for different things in your life.

And in theory, so much of this stuff is so compelling, right? Like, in my long marriage, if I had had permission to go out and get my sexual needs met outside of the relationship and my domestic and life partnership, and we're all, we're in this together and we're raising a family together and we make our operational decisions together and we do our unit together, but I also have freedom to.


Pursue different aspects of a relationship with someone else. In theory, that would have been really helpful, right? In theory. In practice, who fucking knows? It feels like a formula for heartache and pain. But that may just be me coming [00:22:00] from somewhere woefully conventional because I am almost 52 years old.


I don't know. And I'm an open minded person. But I also am not going to pursue pain. I don't recommend pursuing any of these things without having a basis of amazing communication if you have a primary partner. There polycule. Now we get into real. Nerd comic con kind of polycule. Come on guys. It's so dorky.


And that is a term for three or more people who are in a relationship with each other. Also known as a thruple if it's three people, which is a word that does not roll trippingly off the tongue. A polycule is a group of three or more people who are in a relationship. Together and maybe one of those people is your primary it may be you and your partner and then a quote unquote Unicorn, which is a third party Sexual partner who you bring [00:23:00] in to play with you you and your nesting partner I'm really just gonna go all in on this lingo here you and your nesting partner who you live with that person It might be your primary partner and then you bring it in a unicorn and then you're in a thruple in a polyamorous thruple or polycule.


Let's just layer so much language onto this that it's incomprehensible and so daunting. I think people sometimes use. All of these layers of language to intellectualize something that is emotionally probably very challenging and interpersonally very challenging. But I think it's all fascinating. I think it's all fascinating.


A couple of other terms that I've heard in this world. One is this notion of a relationship escalator, and I think that's what the conventional world believes in. A relationship escalator. The concept [00:24:00] of meeting someone and then building a relationship upwards towards certain goals like cohabitation, marriage, procreation, 50th wedding anniversaries.

The relationship escalator gets you to the destination at the top of the escalator and it puts conventional. Nuclear family coupled them at the top of the hierarchy of relationships. I do think that that's what we do in this culture. But once you've gotten all of that stuff, once you've been married and you have your children, all bets are off, all bets are off, unless you want to do that whole thing again, and that feels good to you, the notion of going on the relationship escalator again, with a destination of living with someone, or being married to someone, or having more children with someone, from my perspective, I don't know.


Whether I want to go on the [00:25:00] relationship escalator again, probably do. I probably want to live with someone eventually, but at this moment of wild transition in my life, I don't want to be locked into a linear anything. I don't want to be feeling like, Oh, I have to get to the next stage. Oh, I have to get to the next definition.


I have to get to the next marker. The things that I felt when I was in my twenties. I don't feel that today, but it's much harder. To just be in the moment in a land of, I like you, you like me, we're sleeping together, we're enjoying each other's company. We're passionate about each other, but there is no destination.


We are in real time and we are evolving in real time. That's hard for me. That's what I need to do. That's where I need to be because I really want to. Be 100 percent honest and 100 percent open [00:26:00] to what my next relationship, relationships, throuple, polyamorous, I don't think those are going to be for me, but look, you never know.


And you might like it if you try it. You might like it. They talk in the lingo of ethical non monogamy and these alternative relationship structures that they talk about a process of unlearning where you are transitioning your mind and your belief system from this idealized notion of monogamous coupledom, where you can kind of unpack your implicit biases about relationships and relationship structures.


I think anything that helps you. To take a look at what you're doing and the decisions you may have made unconsciously. The cultural practices you may be following unconsciously. I love anything that asks us to take a clear eyed look at what we're doing [00:27:00] and ask, is this working for me? How do I feel about this?


What's missing because I bought into this structure or what is possible and positive because I bought into this structure? I'm so curious. about all these other ways of being because I only believed there was one way of being. And at the end of the day, that way of being didn't end up working for me.


And maybe it's not the way of being that didn't end up working for me, but this particular marriage ran its course. And as a result, a door was opened. Where I can reassess and redefine how I think about love and relationships and dating and sexuality and monogamy and you can do all of that stuff too.


I'm excited to hear what you think about all of these ideas. I'm excited to hear whether you think this is fucking nuts. Whether you think it's completely out of the question and [00:28:00] impossible and is fidelity as we've defined it critical to the success and maintenance of a long term marriage is Being faithful this language so loaded so religious Faithful to the marriage are there ways of being faithful to a marriage?


That include you getting sexual pleasure from someone other than your partner I don't know, but I love that we're asking all of these questions. So hit me up. Let me know what you think. Let me know how this weird stuff lands for you. For you, it might not be that weird. For you, it might be like, yeah, fuck, I love to see my partner experience pleasure or no, he can do whatever he wants, but I don't want to know about it.


As long as we stay together and our relationship works, I don't care what he does when he's on a business trip. I'm super curious. If your partner was seeing somebody else, [00:29:00] you would agree to be polyamorous. Do you want to do this thing called kitchen table polyamory where you sit around a kitchen table and everyone has to meet each other's partner and pleasantly coexist together?


That is a thing that happens too! All bets are off, my friends. All bets are fucking off. Go for it. It's a choose your own adventure life.


Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. Please follow the show on whatever platform you're listening to right this second. Tell your closest friends and rate and review us on Apple podcasts that really helps other people to find the show through Apple's recommendations


Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Gerard and Pod Kit Productions. Our associate producer is Lena Reibstein. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.


Come back next week. We have a really amazing guest. I'm not going to tell you who it is. You'll have to tune in. [00:30:00] Did I ever tell you how hot you are? You're so fucking hot.


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