PW 330: Adding a third without making a third wheel

Adding a third without making a third wheel

How do you open up a couple? Advice on how to welcome a third from a HBB

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1:00 News and host chat

  • Congratulations to our Burning Man ticket winner!
  • Thanks to M, Christopher, Eynstein, Wayne, Elijah, Marshall, Ioana, Devon, Jessica, Karl, Scott, Jason, Lee, Greg, Cornelius, Damita for their donation during the Burning Man fundraiser

5:00 Topic: From two to three

Advice to couples on opening up their relationship from a HBB: what to do and what not to do. Full blog post here.

  • Instead of considering only protective measures, consider what you have to offer and how you can welcome a third and make him/her feel as loved as you are
  • Try this exercise: how would you feel if you were welcoming a child into your relationship? Approach a new lover with that same sense of joy, sharing and hope.
  • A few don’t’s: don’t allow veto power, ignore metamour communication, say there is no hierarchy if there is. Don’t have the point of the vee moderate communication.

27:15 Wrapup

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-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!


From two to three: advice on opening up from an HBB

There’s no one right way to do polyamory, but there are plenty of wrong ways – Miss Poly Manners

At OpenSF last month, a session on Negotiating Non-Monogamy gave me some food for thought on the perils of taking those first few steps into non-monogamy. The truth is that most couples who approach polyamory do so with the best of intentions. And yet, they often so diligently focus on the health of their own relationship that they can fail to consider the needs and health of the person that they intended to bring lovingly into their relationship. The result? Drama and pain for everyone involved!

A novel approach: the HBB speaks

Most books, articles and sessions on negotiating non-monogamy are geared toward the couple who is opening up a relationship. That makes sense; while there are many single polys, it’s often a monogamous couple that is seeking advice on opening up a relationship for the first time. And these books, articles and sessions are inevitably written and developed from the point of view of the couple. But here’s a twist, the secret no one will tell you: if you want advice on how to successfully open up a relationship, ask the people who would be interested in joining it. (Or run away screaming from it.) That is, ask the people you intend to date how you as a couple can put your best foot forward.

So that’s the novel approach here: how to negotiate non-monogamy successfully, from the point of view of the HBB (Hot Boobiesexual Babe) that you hope to bring into it! If you want to know how to get a quality new lover that will get along with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/spouse and present minimal drama, read on.

This is not a post about general poly skills you need to negotiate your first poly relationship. Instead, this is a list of specific do’s and don’ts that couples often overlook when negotiating their first non-monogamous relationship. First, let’s start with the positive: the do’s.

Newly non-monogamous do’s

OK! You’ve done the scary part and told your partner you want to be non-monogamous, and that partner didn’t leave the room screaming. Great first step! So… now what? What often follows is a series of long talks and negotiations that are all aimed at one thing: protecting the existing relationship. Now, protecting the existing relationship isn’t a bad thing per se, but if it’s your primary concern, you’ll find you won’t have a very positive first poly experience. Most couples begin with this mindset:

“How do we move forward without damaging our current relationship and without my getting hurt?”

This may seem to be a logical question, but in the dating world, fear of change is self-defeating. Of course your relationship will change; you’re adding another full human being to it! Not being open to changes, including those within yourself, is the #1 killer of first-time poly relationships. The first person you date outside your relationship is a human being with needs, quirks, desires, sarcasm, giggles and a whole wealth of emotions, just like you do. And adding another person to a family always changes the dynamic. Going into defensive/protection mode isn’t beneficial for you, your current partner, or your new partner.

Rather, try asking yourselves this:

  • What value do we have to offer to someone else?
  • How can we/I make a new partner feel loved, comfortable and included like I do?
  • How can we enrich this person’s experience with us and with poly?

Think of it this way: if you as a couple discovered you were pregnant, would you sit down to have a lot of talks about how you are going to protect yourself from the damage the new child will do to your current relationship dynamic? Would you plan how you’re going to keep the new child from threatening you and your lifestyle? Would you make a list of rules to prevent the child from crying when you’re having a dinner party and kick the child out if she does? Would you insist on having veto power and kicking the kid out if he doesn’t stick to his appointed nap time?

Well, you could, but it would be a bit cruel. If you’re that worried about maintaining your relationship exactly as it is, you’re probably not ready for a kid. And ditto with polyamory: if you’re more worried about protecting what you have than welcoming change, you’re not ready for a non-monogamous relationship.

Rather, when a couple contemplates a child, they tend to think less of the limits the child will place on their lives and the stresses it will place on their relationship and more about what they have to offer the child and how much joy they will take in watching the child develop and change them as partners and parents. They look forward to discovering a new dynamic with the child: will she bring the family together at her ball games? Will he need a ride to his dance recitals? How much fun will it be to chaperone her first sleepover? Who will support him when he’s down and needs a shoulder to cry on?

OK, to some extent, it’s a ridiculous analogy to compare a fully-grown adult to a child. But in another way, it’s not. A new romantic relationship can change your relationship just as much as a new child will, and making rules to limit an adult’s love and interactions can be just as cruel as making a list to limit a child’s. In fact, it can be even more so, since the adult is fully self-aware and often capable of clearly stating and negotiating needs and wants, unlike a child.

So sure, be realistic about the relationship change, and make sure you have date nights and some alone time. But it’s far more beneficial to begin opening up your relationship by anticipating the joys of the new relationship dynamic than by fearing the change it will bring. And when you approach polyamory in this manner, you’ll enjoy the added benefit of treating your new partner(s) with respect and love rather than as a disposable test case for your own foibles.

Newly non-monogamous don’ts

This list is far easier to make, since time and time again, new poly couples break hearts in their quest to keep their own relationship primary and protected. Advice from those who have fled unhealthy couples, don’t:

  • Allow veto power. Insist on communication rather than veto power. Veto power too often is a substitute for communication. It’s not wrong per se, but it’s quite often a cop-out and used to wield power instead of communication. Be mindful that you should only be expected to control your own actions, not those of your partner. Wielding veto power often shifts the balance of power in a relationship and causes far more tension and drama than those relationships that don’t offer this easy out. “Because I don’t like her” isn’t good enough; insist on thorough communication, and trust your partner to make choices that benefit everyone involved.
  • Say there’s no hierarchy if there is. One of the things I love about Tristan Taormino’s book Opening Up is this relationship structure she named, Partnered Non-Monogamy. This is the structure in which has as its base a couple, and the couple is primary with no other primaries allowed. The parties may have additional lovers, together or separately, but there is no desire or option for any relationship that would equal or rival that of the original couple. This relationship model is often desirable for the couple but can be less so for the partners entering the relationship, so it’s a good idea to be clear if this is the desired relationship structure. If this is your structure of choice, be sure not to mislead new partners by saying “we don’t believe in hierarchies” or “you’re not secondary.” Those phrases may be more politically correct, but they aren’t true in partnered non-monogamy. Respect your new partner by being honest with him/her. And for goodness’ sake, don’t make this rule for one partner but then change it for another! That doesn’t sit well with kids (ask anyone who was the oldest!), and it’s equally unkind to do to adults.
  • Ignore metamour communication. Roughly 50% of the emails I receive asking for advice are from a person in a couple asking how to deal with an issue that arose with a metamour. More often than not, what has happened is the relationship developed between partner A and the new lover, while partner B watched from afar and heard tidbits. Now, oh noes! There is an issue with the new lover and partner B, who have barely spoken before. What to do? Partner B doesn’t have to be best friends with the new lover, but it’s always a good idea to open up the lines of communication. Personally, I like to meet the new lover and then set up a coffee or lunch once a month just to chat. We rarely talk about relationship issues; the idea is to have a line of communication open so that if an issue arises, there is an already-established channel of communication and some trust in the trust bank. This makes dealing with relationship issues a breeze when they do arise. This is somewhat akin to a corporation setting up a blog and blogging on a weekly basis: communication, familiarity and credibility are established, so when a crisis arises (the CEO goes on a sexting binge with Newt Gingrich), there is a channel for communication already open to deal with the tough questions.
  • Have the point of the vee moderate. In cases in which partner B has an issue with the new lover of partner A, and metamour relations have been ignored, it often happens that partner A (the point of the vee) ends up moderating between partner B and the new lover. Anyone who has ever had someone else speak on his behalf in an emotionally charged situation will understand why this is a terrible practice. It puts the full burden of communication among all parties on one person (the point of the vee) while absolving the others of any responsibility to communicate clearly with each other. It’s a stressful situation for the point of the vee and disempowering for the other partners. In interpersonal relationships, every involved party should have a voice. Her own voice. It is simply bad communication practice to disallow a partner from participating in discussions that concern her. Even in hierarchical situations such as partnered non-monogamy, every partner deserves the respect of having a voice in the communications. No two people should ever make a decision in the absence of the third, no matter the hierarchy.

A case study

Here’s common example of this dynamic that the couple might not even realize is disrespectful: partner A is dating a new lover, and the desire has come up for an overnight. Partner A says, “I’ll check with partner B,” and partners A and B have a long, intimate conversation about the merits and drawbacks of an overnight visit. The new lover is excluded from all communication and waits patiently outside the relationship, much like a child waiting to see if he gets a raise in his allowance or not. In this case, partners A and B undoubtedly didn’t intend disrespect, but that brand of communication is setting up a power dynamic in which the new lover is essentially powerless to speak or negotiate on his own behalf. And it’s a shame, because that particular situation is an excellent opportunity to forge a new and powerful dynamic by having all three involved parties meet, express their needs, listen to concerns and create a mutually-beneficial solution. In fact, it’s difficult communications such as this that forge intimacy and trust and make for stronger relationships all around. Don’t waste this valuable opportunity!

Giving poly a go: Top tips for poly newbies

Rose Crompton of Vibrations Direct asked about poly, podcasting and my favorite sex toys. It was a fun interview and ended with my best advice for those approaching nonmonogamy for the first time.

Read the full interview here

Giving poly a go? My top tips for poly newbies:

Be prepared to meet parts of yourself you didn’t know about. You will find insecurities you didn’t know were there, and you’ll experience joy in ways you never knew you could.

Be patient with yourself and your partner(s). Remember your first attempts at monogamy weren’t perfect, either.

Worry less about rules and more about what you have to offer. As with monogamous dating, people with lots of rules and criteria rarely find what they seek, and those who are open-minded and easygoing find unexpected pleasures.

Own your shit – by this I mean baggage. If you’re not strong enough to say, “I was wrong,” “I need to bring something up” or “my last STI test came up positive,” you aren’t ready for poly. Being confident enough to own your own baggage and brave enough to start tough conversations is essential.

Start from a healthy place. Get your existing relationships healthy first. The ‘relationship broken; add more people’ model almost never works. You will have to trust your partner to tell you when you’re love-goggling, when he’s feeling jealous and when you aren’t pulling your weight.

Get a support network. Seek out local communities of real people who have real-life experience with polyamory and its ups and downs; having trusted contacts who’ve been there and can provide advice and a sympathetic ear is invaluable.

Read the full interview here.

PW 297: Poly for the holidays

Advice on the ins and outs of being poly around friends and relatives during the holidays

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Introduction

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

1:30 Topic: Poly for the holidays

Sometimes it’s tough to be poly over the holidays. Which relatives are you out to? Can you introduce your lover to your auntie May? How do you schedule family time? Listeners wrote in via Facebook and Twitter to ask the toughest holiday-related poly issues, and cohosts Joreth and Puck help Minx to sort them out:

  • How to introduce non-spouses
  • How to prevent your poly-aware daughter from letting closeted poly relationships slip in front of the “in-laws”
  • Is being closeted OK to certain relatives?
  • How do you handle feeling secondary and isolated?
  • How do you manage economic disparities?
  • How do you deal with missing some and disappointing others?

37:30 Book reviews

Kurt shares book reviews of popular romance stories with contemporary, realistic settings: Jet Lag Blues and Kindle ebook Songbird.

43:00 Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment here. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 285: Advice for poly newbies

What does a poly newbie need to know?

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Introduction

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

2:00 Announcements

The forums will be shut down for a few weeks while we figure out a better way to give our moderators a rest from dealing with daily spam. Like the forums? Let us know! Don’t care? Um… still let us know!

4:30 Topic: Advice for Poly Newbies

Minx and Anita Wagner give advice for those new to polyamory. Recorded at Polycamp Northwest, a fantastic event near Seattle with 20% poly content and the rest is community-driven.

  • Meet poly people in the community and ask for advice
  • Read The Ethical Slut and Opening Up
  • Create a safe space to discuss and process reactions and emotions
  • Have a strong desire for self-knowledge
  • Avoid the “kid in the candy store” mentality when you first try poly
  • No major life decisions during NRE
  • More focus on communication, less on hard and fast rules

31:30 Comments on inviting Minx or Anita to speak

34:45 Feedback

Feedback on episode 281 on the Dan Savage article “Infidelity will keep us together.”

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook, leave a comment here or discuss your own topics at the forums. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 274: Am I jealous?

Listener W writes in to ask: am I jealous, or is this situation unfair?

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Introduction and host chat

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

1:20 Topic: Am I jealous?

Wendy writes in to ask advice from the cohost team: am I jealous? She gets a certain number of hours a week with her top, and compares that to the number of hours his wife enjoys with him. She relays anecdotes of her top engaging in sex with another bottom, which was beyond the scope of their agreement, and with his wife, which was beyond her expectations. She relays a situation in which she watched the children for his and his wife’s anniversary trip, but her own collaring anniversary went unnoticed.

Is she jealous and how should she cope? Cohosts Joreth, Pepper and Franklin share insights and give advice, including making a list of the things she needs to feel secure in a relationship and how she would like for commitment to be shown.

20:40 Announcements

Poly in Pictures blog on jealousy – for a little jealousy humor

21:40 Feedback

  • Musqrat comments on the Sister Wives commentary from episode 266, comparing to a sort of institutionalized D/s situation
  • A caller who believes in religious polygyny makes a call for tolerance
  • DDog calls in to appreciate the term “anchors” from episode 260

35:40 Thanks to Earl and John for their donations

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook, leave a comment here or discuss your own topics at the forums. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

PW 271: The secondary blues

The secondary blues

From listener Amy: how do you deal with being a secondary when you long for primary benefits?

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Introduction and host chat

Intro, under-18 warning and re-direction to http://www.scarleteen.com; friend us on Twitter or Facebook, call 206-202-POLY with comments or discuss your own topics at the forums.

Announcements

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Book review: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  • Kurt reviews poly themes and relationships in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series

Advice from the crew: what if you’re secondary but don’t want to be?

What if you long to be a live-in primary, but metamours or partners are putting on the brakes? Cohosts Franklin Veaux, Joreth and Pepper give advice to listener Amy.

Thank you

Frances, Paul and Tofa for donations! You rock my world and help cover bandwidth and travel expenses.

Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email polyweekly@gmail.com or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at polyweekly.libsyn.com. Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from PodDisc.com Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

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