PW 470: Do I have to date my species?

How bad is it if I like someone who is monogamous?Dogs-Love-Cats

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1:00 Host Chat & Announcements

3:00 Poly in the News

You Me Her, a polyromantic comedy, debuts March 22

4:15 Topic: Do I have to date my species?

A listener calls in to say he’s married and poly but is interested in dating his ostensibly single, monogamous friend. How bad will it be? Well, no one can say for sure, but our Facebook poll indicated that 5 people say hell, no; 12 say “I tried it and it didn’t work;” 5 indicated success and 2 were in the process.

It definitely poses a risk of drama and heartbreak, but if you and your wife are up for it, go in eyes open.

12:00 Happy poly moment

A listener writes in to tell a tale of bravely dealing with a difficult situation by welcoming her metamour to make her husband happy.

16:30 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

FAQ: How to bring up polyamory within a monogamous relationship

18262195_mHelp! I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for (1-25) years, and I’ve just discovered polyamory/think I’ve always been poly. How do I get my monogamous partner to agree to this?

Short answer

You can’t make anyone do anything. You can only control your own words and actions.

Medium answer

Ask for what you want, and be willing to accept “no” as an answer.

“Relationships exist to make the people in them happier and healthier versions of themselves,” LustyGuy is fond of saying. In any relationship, it’s your responsibility to know what will help you to become a happier and healthier version of yourself. And it’s wise to ask your partner on a regular basis what he/she needs as well, regardless of the relationship structure. If being a practicing polyamorist is essential to your health and happiness, it’s your responsibility to ask for it.

However, if you are in a long-term monogamous relationship and have recently either come to the realization that you are poly or feel you have always been poly but either unable or unwilling to express that need until now, I probably don’t need to tell you you’re in a difficult and risky situation. It’s entirely possible that you can come out to your partner as polyamorous and ask for the relationship to be opened up only to cause drawn out arguments, disastrous dates and potentially even the end of the existing relationship.

Likewise, it would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge that successful relationships in which one member is monogamous and another member is polyamorous are few and far between. (I’ve personally never heard of any in which the original participants remained happily together for more than year, but there is always the hope.)

That being said, if you don’t ask for what you want, it’s guaranteed you won’t get it. If you do ask for what you want, there is a chance you might get it. And as Franklin Veaux says, “Life rewards those who move in the direction of greatest courage.” Or we can go with Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true.”

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that ultimately, the answer may be “no.” Your partner may either shut that door permanently or be open to further discussions but ultimately determine that he/she can’t be happy and healthy in that arrangement. And as we say here, never ask a question you’re not willing to accept a “no” to.

In the end, having the courage to ask for what you want will in the long run make you a better partner and a better human.

Long answer (if your partner is willing to talk)

Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.

A new self-identification of polyamory can be frightening and threatening to an existing partner. Remember that while you may have spent months or years wrestling and coming to terms with the idea of polyamory, your partner hasn’t had that luxury. While you may see love as limitless and joyful, your partner may be inclined to distrust, especially if there have been issues of infidelity in the past (or present). Keep in mind that your partner will need time and a safe space to identify his/her own fears, insecurities, emotional triggers and boundaries with respect to polyamory.

And it’s helpful not to have a deadline looming or a potential partner waiting in the wings. These only add pressure to a topic that is already socially quite disruptive on many levels for most people.

It’s worth mentioning that if you have already engaged in any type of infidelity with someone else, it’s unlikely that a discussion about polyamory will be received enthusiastically. These things take time and trust. In cases of infidelity, trust must be rebuilt before poly can even be considered.

Keep in mind that if you expect a partner to respect and nurture your self-identity as poly, you should likewise be prepared to accept and nurture his/her identity as well. Set up a safe space to listen to your partner’s reactions to the idea of polyamory. Just as you eventually want to be understood, take the time to listen to what your partner values in your existing relationship—without defending your own choices or making it about you and your new poly needs.

Over time, these listening sessions may eventually become “what if” conversations or even fantasies musing about what poly might look like. They can end up taking place over months or in some cases over years, and they can be tremendously helpful in gaining a full understanding of everyone’s needs, regardless of the outcome.

Also, these months/years should be taken for introspection by both parties. Both people need to determine what they need to be happy and healthy in the relationship. Are the drawbacks of the non-preferred relationship structure truly intolerable? Are the benefits of the preferred relationship structure truly irreplaceable? Which is a want versus a need? It’s not unusual for the topic of polyamory to be brought up, discussed over time and ultimately rejected, leaving the relationship all the more solid for having considered an alternative. Likewise, it also happens (less frequently, to be sure) that polyamory is brought up, discussed theoretically over several years, and ultimately leads to the successful opening of the relationship with little to no drama.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, the important aspect, as always, is healthy communication between loving adults. If everyone involved has asked for what they want, listened to the other party, owned their own shit and determined their baseline for happy and healthy, the ultimate decision about relationship structure is undoubtedly the right one for everyone involved.

Ready to bring up the idea of polyamory with your partner? We’ve made the process easy (well, easier!) with a free checklist for you. Click below to download your free checklist:

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Q & A with Designer Relationships authors Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson

Mark Michaels Patricia JohnsonMark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson are a devoted married couple of 16 years who are active in the pleasure-positive community. Their new book, Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory and Optimistic Open Relationships is a cutting-edge, accessible, and comprehensive guide to the emerging landscape of relationship options––from asexual to single by choice to polyfidelity to swinging. If you want to challenge the belief that there’s a single ideal relationship style and instead want to craft your relationships in a way that works, read on!

Who do you want to read this book?

Anyone who is interested in creating fulfilling, dynamic, and authentic relationships, those who are seeking to reinvent or recharge an existing relationship, and those who are disillusioned with the cultural hetero-mono-mandate. It’s written as a very accessible introduction to the spectrum of options that exist, while emphasizing to some of the relationship skills we think are important. People who choose to be in monogamous relationships have something to learn from poly people, so open-minded monogamists should find something valuable in it; we also hope that people who have more experience with poly will find something new and different in our perspective. 

Why would the Poly Weekly audience want to read your book?

Poly folks are avid readers, and we hope that we’ve added some new perspectives to the existing body of literature. We’re long-term nonmonogamous couple, together for nearly 17 years, so the perspective is informed by our lived experience as well as by years of exposure to poly thinking. But the book also relies on very recent research, some of which is likely to be new to listeners. The material on relationship skills, which is informed by our background in Tantra, should be of value to many. Some of our perspectives on communication might seem novel to some in the community. We like to say that “while communication is important, talking is overrated.” 

Designer Relationships monogamy polyamory openWhat did you learn from writing this book?

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the culture is shifting more rapidly than we could have imagined. At the same time, this shift is creating certain kinds of backlash and defensiveness that are surprising. The AlterNet piece attracted the attention of some from the man-o-sphere who suggested that acceptance of polyamory will lead to all the alpha males getting all of the women. That way of thinking was entirely alien to us. It’s still hard to fathom, but it’s important to know it’s out there. 

Having to write a book that was limited to 40,000 words was a departure, especially after Partners in Passion which was so encyclopedic at 450 pages. It was a great discipline because it forced us to be specific, concrete, and distill our message. It’s only 150 pages, including endnotes, so as Ken Haslam said, it’s a book that can be read on a plane. While it’s short, it’s deep.

How do you describe your relationship and why?

We were inspired by Ken Haslam’s concepts of “swolly” (straddling the border between swinger and poly) and the concept of designing one’s own relationship rather than accepting a one-size-fits-all label. Currently, we’ve landed on calling ourselves “pair-bonded and non-exclusive.” We are expecting that this will continue to change over the duration of our partnership. We have been involved with polyamory since the late 1990s, and also have explored swinging. Like Ken Haslam, we feel affinities for both.

Time Magazine recently ran a cover story asking “Is Monogamy Over?” How would you have answered that question?

Monogamy isn’t over; it’s evolving to become one option among many, and people are becoming more actively engaged in choosing what works for them. We expect that the majority will still prefer to be in pair-bonded relationships, whether they are monogamous or not. At the same time, the stigma attached to other forms of relatedness will likely continue to subside. There is still a very, very long way to go because the culture remains deeply mononormative. We don’t think American courts will recognize plural marriage or expand legal protections for poly families any time soon, and unfortunately, it seems likely that things like zoning laws will continue to be used against multiple partner households. That’s probably going to be a very long-term struggle. On the bright side, the proliferation of options and the growing acceptance of alternative approaches will ultimately benefit those who opt for monogamy too, since their monogamy will be chosen instead of being a default, as it is for so many people today.

Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson, co-authors of Designer Relationships, are a devoted married couple. They have been creative collaborators since 1999, and their critically acclaimed titles have garnered numerous awards. Michaels and Johnson are the authors of Partners in PassionGreat Sex Made Simple, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality. They are also the creators of the meditation CD set Ananda Nidra: Blissful Sleepwww.MichaelsandJohnson.com

Help! I’m insecure about my umet long-distance metamour!

monkey_with_ears1Minx:

I identify as monogamous and in a poly relationship. My boyfriend of several months has been in a long-distance open relationship with his girlfriend on the East Coast for nearly a decade. I’ve been working on my user manual and communicating my needs, but we don’t yet have the line of communication open with my metamour. Because I have never met her, never spoken to her, never even reached out and Facebook-messaged her, in my mind, she’s just this perfect goddess I can’t even hold a candle to. I make comparisons to her, and so I’m afraid that given a choice, my boyfriend will always choose her and I’ll be left behind somehow. How do I stop putting my metamour on an impossible platform and release some of those anxieties?

Insecure on the West Coast

Dear Insecure—

First of all, let’s acknowledge that you’re doing a great job of doing the work and owning your shit! You’re taking positive steps by writing your user manual and setting up regular relationship check-ins with your boyfriend. And you’re also acknowledging that your fears are probably unrealistic and might not have much to do with reality. Bravo! Those are all positive steps to dealing with your fears.

But let’s also acknowledge that you have a few things working against you: being monogamous in a poly relationship, being in a long-distance relationship and being new to polyamory are each significant challenges on their own, and you’re trying to tackle all three in the same new relationship! That is a lot to take on.

And you’re absolutely right: those voices that tell you she is prettier, thinner or more successful than you are coming from within you and typically don’t have much to do with reality. Those are your fears to own and most likely not spawned by anything external to your own head and past experiences.

While you’re already doing everything right, I do have two recommendations. The first is to take your fear cycle to its maximum ridiculous silliness by filling in the blanks:

I’m afraid that if ____ is the case, that will mean _____ and I’ll ____  and then ____.

If the last blank isn’t “and then I die alone,” add more blanks until you get to that point of silliness. Remember that your fears come from within you and typically have very little to do with reality, so let’s take this to the worst-case scenario to bring those silly fears into the light.  For example:

I’m afraid that if she is prettier and more successful than me, that will mean that I’ll always be second fiddle, and he’ll eventually figure that out and choose her over me, and then I’ll be single again, and then I’ll be heartbroken and pathetic and eventually die alone.

If your final blank isn’t something as final as “and then I die alone,” keep asking, “and then what?” until it is.

The second recommendation is to reach out to your metamour on Skype or Facebook or whatever in advance of a face-to-face. Skype communication is better than no communication and can help put the chattering monkeys to bed. And why not even be vulnerable and tell her how you are feelings–that you are insecure because she seems so pretty, thin and successful? She will most likely take it as a compliment, and you’ll feel better for having extended trust by being honest and a bit vulnerable with your metamour.

PW 435: Metamour fears

bottle_catWhat do you do when you’re afraid of your unmet metamour? Meet her!

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1:00 Announcements

3:30 Poly in the News

9:10 Topic: Metamour fears

Angie writes in to admit that while she’s monogamous and dating a poly guy, what she’s really afraid of is her metamour, whom she hasn’t yet met. Is she prettier, thinner, more successful? Will Angie be discarded once her boyfriend realizes that she’s not as good as his first girlfriend?

Minx recognizes the difficult situation: new to poly, self-identifying as monogamous and long distance to boot! And recommends taking the fear cycle to its maximum ridiculous silliness by filling in the blanks:

I’m afraid that if ____ is the case, that will mean _____ and I’ll ____  and then ____.

If the last blank isn’t “and then I die alone,” add more blanks until you get to that point of silliness. Remember that your fears come from within you and typically have very little to do with reality.

And on the practical side, it’s OK to reach out to your metamour on Skype or Facebook or whatever in advance of a face-to-face. Skype communication is better than no communication and can help put the chattering monkeys to bed.

20:00 Happy Poly Moment

  • A listener shares a wonderful HPM about coming out to her mom!
  • And another had a wonderful story of a brunch made with two lovers

23:15 Thank you!

Thanks to Sylvia for her donation, and welcome Joe to the Poly Weekly Playmates!

24:00 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 405: Testing the poly waters with a monogamist

What do you do when your first step into polyamory is with a married monogamist?

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waterlolcatIntroduction Under 18? Stop listening now and visit http://www.scarleteen.com

1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

2:35 Topic: Testing the poly waters with a monogamist

Our listener has a dear friend she met about the same time she met her husband. He is monogamously married as well. They have fallen in love. She and her husband have been talking about swinging/sexual polyamory but with falling in love as a strict taboo. How do she and her new beau come out to their current partners about their new relationship and polyamory?

  • Challenges:
    • you’re already a couple with your new beau and have been for quite a while now
    • you’re both in monogamous relationships
    • Neither of your partners is aware of your relationship, so huge trust issues will undoubtedly arise when you do come out (the “how long has this been going on” issue)
    • You have to introduce the idea of polyamory at the same time you’re introducing a real person that you already love, which puts your current partners in a very uncomfortable position; it’s hard not to take the coming out as an ultimatum
  • Prescription: time. You must give your current partners weeks, months and years to digest not only the idea of polyamory but also a relatively well-developed poly relationship—that’s a tall order. Your current partners need time to overreact, get hurt, call names, make rules, freak out, etc. over the next few months or years.

15:30 Feedback

OKCupid story

16:25 Happy Poly Moment

  • Krista shares a happy poly moment about good metamour relations in advance of her moving to town
  • Stacy used the idea of relationship land mines to cope with the challenging situation of experience shock and should be proud of her ability to identify her emotion of being excluded rather than jealousy

20:10 Thank you!

Thanks to Michele for her donation this week!

20:44 iTunes deletion update

21:10 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 398: Poly-mono mix

Monogamy_Cabernet_SauvignonHow a monogamous person copes with a poly relationship 

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

1:53 Topic: How does a monogamous person adjust to polyamory?

  • Take your time It’s OK to take your time exploring polyamory. You don’t have to do everything all at once TODAY. Give yourself time to find your self-identity.
  • Take care of yourself Avoid “shoulding” all over yourself. “Should” is the enemy of happy. It’s OK to experience negative emotions.

LustyGuy has advice on dealing with specific events and using a three-step process to deal with tough events:

  1. Discuss Before the event, do a check-in with your partner to go over how you feel about your relationship—good stuff that has happened, things you’re both working on, appreciate any recent affection/chores, etc. Confirm the love!
  2. Distract During the event, distract yourself! Have a night with your friends, watch bad TV, get a massage. Have fun while the tough event is going on!
  3. Do After the event, do a check in with your partner and demonstrate that you still love each other after the event. Breakfast in bed, do each other—whatever will help you to bond and come back together.

More tips:

  • Request behaviors And remember that in discussions, focus on specific behaviors rather than vague emotional states. Rather than saying “I need to be the primary,” for example, you might ask that you get regular Friday night dates, morning sex or sappy, sexy text messages.
  • Write your user manual And of course, write your own user manual!
  • Lather, rinse, repeat Repeat the thing you have difficulty with to help develop your coping mechanisms. Just do it! (And then do it again and again!)
  • Be aware of warning signs If you’re resorting to alcohol, drugs or dangerous behavior in order to deal with polyamory, this may not be the lifestyle for you. It’s OK not to be polyamorous; please take care of yourself first.
  • Get a support network Find online or real-life communities who have been through this before and gather a social support network, even if you self-identify as monogamous

23:45 Happy Poly Moment

Derek writes in about finding his local poly community in Tulsa, OK!

25:20 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 351: Mono-poly with Mo

Tales of mono-poly ins and outs with Mollena Williams

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Note: we are still experiencing technical difficulties with posting episode 350. That file will post as soon as the issues are discerned and corrected. In the meantime, enjoy Mo!

1:00 Announcements and host chat

  • Hidden Social: Where Sexual Variants Gather Online session at SXSWi on Sunday, March 10, 3:30 PM with Herb Coleman, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at UT Austin ( #hiddensoc )
  • Content Creation for the Online Activist on Sunday, March 17th at 10:30 AM in D.C. at CatalystCon ( #ccon )
  • Want to help send Minx to SXSWi and CatalystCon this year? We just need 10 $96 donations so I can eat! And we LOVE $69 and $96 donations!

3:30 Interview: Mollena Williams on her mono-poly relationship

What worked—and didn’t—in Mollena’s last mono-poly D/s relationship. Lessons learned and insights from the trenches. Find her site at Mollena or as Mollena on FetLife and Facebook.

35:00 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY (our new number!). And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? 🙂 Check out PolyWeekly at Blubrry.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

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