Switch Andrea Pearl is a tall, lissome beauty attracted to the intoxicating dynamic of power exchange. In this Featured Artist interview, we probe her fertile mind to learn more about her poly lifestyle and what makes it so satisfying for her to fulfill your fantasies.
Hey Andrea! I know that in your personal life, you identify as “poly.” Could you tell us what this term means?
Poly is short for polyamory, meaning loving more than one person at a time. Usually this means romantically and physically, but not always – people are complicated.
How did you get into the poly lifestyle?
I got into poly through my confusion at monogamous norms. Why the constant love triangles in our media? Why the focus on “only you”? If I love my friend, I’m happy for them when they make a new friend. Human connection is important! (Caveat: this applies as long as New Friend is treating My Friend well and respectfully.) This feeling is called “compersion,” and it means feeling joy in the joy of someone you love. Also, people are cute in the throes of NRE – that’s new relationship energy, the wobbly feeling one gets in the first stages of falling in love. I also don’t seem to be wired with that kind of jealousy. (Not that it’s wrong or abnormal to feel jealousy. People feel what they feel!) Sometimes I’m envious, but it’s not the same thing, and it usually helps me identify something I want in my own life.
Growing up as a teenager on the Internet, I was able to research and learn from polyamorous communities online. The Internet had already helped me with my “wait, I have crushes on my girl friends and my boy friends” confusion; not that it helped an awkward teen get a date, but at least I didn’t feel terrible about being bi-dateless. When I did start to date, I was upfront about preferring open relationships, and eventually I found cool people who felt the same way.
I imagine communication is a key factor in making a poly relationship work. Can you describe some of the things that go on during this kind of communication? Anything you have to be especially careful about?
Communication is key to any relationship! Poly does tend to multiply that, which isn’t usually a bad thing. I try to speak very gently and carefully, understanding that people are separate little universes of experience and can easily misunderstand each other. It’s better to take the time to make sure you’re on the same page than to patch up a big misunderstanding.
That being said, you can’t anticipate everything. Acknowledge that sometimes, things bother us in unpredictable ways, and don’t treat surprise feelings as “how dare you change your mind” but rather as “okay, your emotions are valid so let’s talk about them.”
Pragmatically, non-monogamous people need to discuss boundaries around safer sex, disclosure, level of involvement, time spent, etc.. Just being poly isn’t enough to make someone compatible, after all.
Well said! Is there one thing you wish someone more experienced had told you about the poly lifestyle rather than you learning the hard way?
One thing I wish I knew: I spent miserable time in monogamous relationships because I thought I couldn’t find partners who didn’t want exclusivity. Fortunately, I was wrong.
How do your relationships start?
Poly relationships start like any relationships. I do life things, I meet interesting people, some of those people are interested back, and they either ask me out or I get over my awkward dorkitude and ask ‘em out. At some point, the topic of exclusivity comes up. “Nay,” say I, and they either join me in happy poly dating bliss (unless we break up for another reason), or they decide that they want something I’m not offering and skedaddle. Usually my partners meet each other and sometimes become friends or date. Aww!
Because you identify as a switch, I’m wondering how and when you’re submissive to your partners. Are you always dominant with some, and always submissive with others? Or do you engage in a more fluid power exchange?
Since I’m a switch, I like to be submissive sometimes and dominant other times. It depends on the chemistry! I do get leanings one way or another – today, I feel like pouncing and biting someone, but tomorrow I might crave a spanking or to be tied up.
You’re quite the multi-faceted lady! How would you say that working as a pro switch fits into the picture for you?
Being a pro switch is great because I get a constant infusion of different connection and inspiration. Learning about people is how we develop empathy; discussing kink often means digging in the roots of someone’s desires and personality. Plus, the sensual part of me just loves the touch and play.
What does being a switch mean to you?
Being a switch is a lot like being poly and being bi for me. It’s about appreciating and relating with people while appreciating their differences and respecting their uniqueness. It’s about not wanting limitation for the sake of limitation, about allowing our complicated human desires to be valid and complicated. And it’s also about being happy at seeing someone else happy. I love seeing the dreamy, contented look on my bottom’s face after I’ve tied and spanked and toyed with them, especially because I’ve known and enjoyed that feeling. I love seeing pride and fierce enjoyment on a sadist’s face as I squirm, because I’ve been on the other side of the flogger. Empathy is hot, experience develops empathy, and therefore switches have the most fun. It’s science!
I imagine all this constant communicating with your personal partners helps you with communicating with your client-partners. You have to deal with so many different types of people! Got any tips for beginners for negotiating a scene?
For beginners, don’t be afraid to sound silly! Tons of stuff I find hot sounds incredibly silly out loud. Silly is not bad. It’s okay to find silly things hot!
I heartily agree! Sometimes silly and fun can be even better than serious, dark and erotic. To end, what would you say your favorite thing is about your lifestyle?
My favorite thing is getting to experience all the variety that I do. Can I have two favorite things? (Poly, duh.) I also love getting to talk to people on an intimate level. We can be such mysteries to each other!
Switch Andrea Pearl is based in Baltimore, but be sure to visit her artist page for information about upcoming tour dates to NYC!