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The Love ◦ Sex ◦ Fur Guide to Relationships

Welcome to the Love ◦ Sex ◦ Fur Guide to Relationships! Our goal is to provide a simple guide to help you explore and enjoy relationships both inside and outside the furry fandom. We’ll be covering the topics of relationship status within the furry fandom, polyamory, online and long distance relationships, communication, and sex and intimacy. This guide will be available online in a mobile-friendly format, as well as in print so that it’s always there to be referenced.

Relationship status of the fandom

Furry is fairly diverse when it comes to relationship status. However, according to the 2013 Furry Survey [1], the majority of furries are single:

   
Single 55.6%
Long-term relationship 21.8%
Casual Relationship 12.8%
Marriage or other permanent commitment 6.8%

This is as compared to the 44% of Americans who report being single [2]. Additionally, 71.4% of furries who report being in a relationship report that their partner is also a furry, meaning that it is far more common for furries to date within the fandom, rather than outside the furry subculture.

Polyamory and open relationships also figure large within the furry fandom:

   
Sexually open 19.7%
Sexually closed 80.3%
Romantically open 30.7%
Romantically closed 69.3%

Like orientation, polyamory is a variable scale of comfort that each individual has: some people do not feel comfortable with polyamory at all and have strictly monogamous relationships, while others do not feel comfortable in monogamous relationships and may maintain multiple relationships with various people throughout their life, often at the same time. This is a topic exceeding the bounds of this guide, but will be touched on throughout.

Finally, orientation and gender do play a role in furry relationships. Although the fandom is made up of members of all different identities, from completely homosexual to completely heterosexual, the fandom is also made up of primarily those who are male. This means that those who identify as bisexual or pansexual are more likely to wind up in a male-male relationship, thus the perceived prevalence of homosexuality within the furry subculture.

Online and long distance relationships

One salient feature of relationships within furry, due to the decentralized nature of the fandom, is just how many of them are long distance or based primarily on online interaction. There are both upsides and downsides to these types of relationships:

Pros Cons
It’s easier to find a partner or partners who shares an interest in the furry subculture, meaning that you automatically have something to talk about and a framework in which you can interact. Perhaps most obviously, the lack of direct contact when one might need it most. You are dependent on your partner or partners being online or within reach of a phone to talk.
Interacting online with your partner is a good way to interact in a way that feels true to yourself as you ideally want to be, as the character you have made to represent yourself. You can construct your responses all the more carefully when interacting online. There is some financial burden involved in structuring in-person visits, in situations where that’s practical at all. Travel costs can be prohibitive, and meeting at conventions can be stressful.
A relationship online during the early years in one’s adult life might be the safest and most stable relationship that one can have: it can last through moves and school without having to change much, and can offer support in life situations where such relationships would not otherwise be possible. It can be difficult to explain your relationship status to those around you such as friends and family. Long-distance and online relationships are still a relatively new idea in society at large.

It’s worth noting that these relationships, despite their pros and cons, are still just as valid as relationships that aren’t long-distance or based online. If these relationships are the type that work best for you and your parter or partners, do not let the distance get in the way of having a happy relationship! You have found something that is worth holding onto!

On meeting up

Meeting with a long-distance partner for the first time can be both exciting and scary. There’s a lot on the line, when it comes to your relationship, and although you may mesh really well through text or over the phone, things are always different in person. Make sure to keep an open mind about your partner - be willing to learn new things about them, and discover the intricacies of how they interact - and discuss this ahead of time with them before you meet. There’s no telling how things will be different, but they can be almost guaranteed to be not quite what everyone was expecting, and that’s okay!

You might want to work out a schedule with your partner or partners for visiting so that you can see each other regularly. Keeping consistency can play a big role in the stability of a relationship, and anything that gets in the way of that, such as school, work, or health issues, is something to be talked through in an open and accepting fashion. Make sure to keep everyone apprised.

Along with consistency, some variety is also important in order to help keep things balanced between everyone. Make sure to visit each other, and to find other places to visit together if at all possible, so that it isn’t always one person visiting the other. Just remember to keep safe!

Shared activities and interests

Conventions
Conventions are a natural solution to meeting up with your partner. You automatically have stuff to do, you’re likely to have mutual friends around to keep you company, and travelling together is a good way to grow closer. Just remember that conventions can also be very stressful events, with a lot going on; take the space you need to stay happy and healthy!
Online dates
If you can’t necessarily meet up in person, you can still do things together. Try starting a movie at the same time as your partner and hanging out online together so that you can discuss what’s happening as you both experience it at the same time, or set aside time to talk on the phone when you’re not distracted by the internet and simply catch up.
Playing online
Of course, playing online is not to be discounted in our subculture. Role play, sexual or otherwise, is a good way to spend time with your partner or partners in a way that helps to satisfy interactions that go beyond simply talking. As a bonus, sexual role play online is a perfectly valid form of safer sex!

Communication

When in doubt, more is better
It’s always good to be able to work things out with your partner or partners as they come up, and it’s good to remember that anything that might possibly become an issue is worth talking about. Talk about the way you feel about them, talk about the way you feel about others, talk about how you feel about how your life is going. It’s always better, when you get involved with someone, to preempt issues rather than to have to worry about damage control down the line!
Arguments and disagreement
Arguments will happen, and you will disagree with your partner or partners over time - there’s no avoiding it, and it’s best to confront the issues that you run into with a calm attitude and open mind. If you run into something that your partner or partners are doing that bugs you, bring it up honestly and earnestly, and make it understood that something will need to change, even if it’s you!
Third parties: friends, family, and those around you
Talking through your relationship with others around you is a good way to get outside input on how things are going. Often, it’s easy to get into a sort of tunnel-vision about your relationship, so that it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Your friends, your family, and those around you and your partner or partners can help shed some light on things.

Sex and intimacy

Sex and intimacy play a large role in many relationships. Even in relationships where sex does not figure as large, getting what one needs in terms of intimacy is important in feeling fulfilled, both for you and your partner or partners.

Safer sex

Safer sex should be practiced even within a relationship. Remember that you’re having sex with your partner, but everyone your partner is currently and has previously had sex with should be factored into the risk of unprotected sex. There are a few things you can do to help mitigate and understand that risk:

Testing
Getting tested regularly and sharing your results with your partner or partners can help keep all of you informed as to any potential risks and anything else you need to be aware of in a sexually active relationship.
Fluid bonding
If you do decide to have unprotected sex with your partner, you might want to consider the idea of becoming “fluid bonded”. Fluid bonding is a commitment made between you and your partner or partners that you will not have unprotected sex with anyone except them. This helps minimize the risk of STIs. Note that, in polyamorous situations, you should aim to be fluid-bonded to only one person at a time.
See the safer sex guide
There is a whole lot more information about safer sex to be had out there, so check up on the Safer Sex Guide as well to keep informed about how to be safe while having fun!

Needs and wants

As always, much of this comes back to the idea of communication. You should work on discussing the things that you need and the things that you want out of your relationship with your partner or parnters

Needs
The needs of you and your partner or partners are the things that you cannot do without in the context of your relationship. Some people need space during stressful times in their lives, while some people need additional attention, physical or otherwise, at those times. These are the types of things you will need to discuss with your partner or partners in order to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in the relationship.
Wants
Most everything else in your relationship will fall into the category of wants. These are the things that would help make your relationship better, but without which will not cause damage to what you have. For instance, you may want more physical intimacy with your partner or partners, but you might still be happy with what you are getting.

Sexually open relationships

It frequently happens that people who wind up in a relationship together have different levels of sexual activity, or libidos, than each other. This type of variance is natural and to be expected with the diversity of life. At this point, some might consider opening their relationship up sexually. This is a step that should not be taken lightly, and should involve a good amount of conversation. You should be prepared to tackle the issue of jealousy as well as the issues of safer sex and emotional wellbeing. Discuss why you think this is a step that will benefit everyone within the relationship, and make sure that, if there is something that you or your current partner can do to improve things as well, that that is addressed! Remember, safety in sexual situations is also about the emotional and mental safety of all involved.


Footnotes and References

  1. The 2013 Furry Survey results - The Furry Survey (1 January 2014)

  2. Dating/Relationship Statistics - Statistics Brain (Retrieved 10 January 2015)

  3. Additional References:
    • Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules - Sarah Mirk, 2007
    • More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory - Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, 2014
    • The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures - Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy - 2009

Current Version: Initial creation (10 Jan 2015)

Filled out the relationship page per the outline.