Ask Minx: How do I own my shit when I’m depressed?

Minx podcasting headshot 2013Hi Minx,

My partner and I have been together for nine years and poly for almost two years. Because of my depression, I don’t always feel very sexual. While this wasn’t the reason we decided to become poly, my partner feels like he should have other partners during these times to sleep with to “fill in the gaps”, so to speak. However, during these moments in my depression, I’m usually feeling incredibly volatile, and it’s at these times I feel my worst and most replaceable (not just in our relationship but in all aspects of my life), and I physically can’t go through the constant panic and anxiety attacks that means for me. I know one of the biggest aspects in the community is “owning your own emotions”, but how do you see one’s troubled mental health playing into that for continued success in polyamory? 

Depressed and distressed

Dear D&D:

While it’s true that we talk a lot about owning your own shit, there is another issue at play here. In the case of health issues, I’d recommend a slightly different tack. And I’m using the word “health” instead of “mental health” because in truth, there isn’t much difference between a physical and a mental ailment. It’s all biology, right?

It’s rarely a good idea to use polyamory to fix a problem in a relationship. (We call this the “relationship broken; add more people” model.) It’s unwise and unkind to try to use other people to “fill in the gaps” in your current relationship–and it almost never works out the way you think it will! Instead, I’d recommend working on two things: first, on managing your own health and second, on developing coping techniques for your partner.

First, the issue of your health condition. We typically recommend addressing any relationship and any chronic health issues before opening up a relationship to polyamory. As with dating monogamously, the goal is to present your best self as well as a happy, stable couple to prospective partners. So take the time to address and stabilize your health issues before trying polyamory. Work with your doctor to better manage your depression. As LustyGuy always says, “Biology comes first.” Your depression isn’t currently well managed, and that will only make dating and polyamory unnecessarily difficult, for you, your partner and your new dating prospects. As you say, you currently have no control over your emotions, and that’s not a good position to be in when dating (or when your partner is dating). It’s OK—nay, essential—for you to take care of yourself first.

Once you’ve figured out how to manage your condition and have developed tried-and-true coping mechanisms for any depressive episodes, you’ll be able to consider dating and having your partner date. But for now, please take care of yourself.

Second, there is the issue of your partner feeling something lacking in your relationship. Even when your depression is well managed, the fact that your partner feels your relationship is lacking from time to time is a separate issue. Please work with your therapist and your partner to figure out a good coping strategy for your partner when you have a depressive episode. LustyGuy, L and I each have chronic conditions that arise on occasional (and often inconvenient) times, and we each have strategies for coping with them when they arise. We each are able to express support and love to our partners while revising our own plans accordingly and relatively painlessly. You and your partner should strive to do the same. And before you know it, you’ll be handling your condition like a pro, and your partner will be supporting you merrily all the way!

PW 460: Top five poly trends of 2015

47541500_sHow did the polyamory movement change in 2015? 

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

3:30 Poly in the News

7:00 Topic: Top five poly trends of 2015

  1. More nonfiction books gave us more poly voices to relate to.
  1. More poly news snuck into the mainstream, including being satirized in The Onion.
  1. Political pundits gave us air space in the wake of the same-sex marriage legalization announcement over the summer and dissenting Supreme Court judges, political pundits wondered whether the polyamorists would want marriage rights next, which brought polyamory as a topic to the dinner table.
  1. The poly movement saw more diversification, including gay polyamorists, over-60 polyamorists and trans folks. Additionally, the issue of emotional abuse inside our community was brought to light, and relationship anarchy gained momentum.
  1. Poly Weekly kicked butt! OK, maybe this is only #1 for me, but LustyGuy and I spoke at more events than ever before; we exceeded 50,000 downloads a month; we launched an email newsletter, and we even made the Buzzfeed list of top 40 places to learn everything you never learned in sex ed class!

16:45 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Ask Minx: What’s the line between venting and gossiping?

Minx podcasting headshot 2013Minx:

My partner has a concern: that I will “run to” my other partners and gossip about him when things aren’t great in our relationship. I can admit that gossiping is one of my shortcomings. I find a lot of value in being open about my life and the things I am thinking about and struggling with, but I understand (in theory) that others want or need more privacy, that my venting might interfere with that privacy. So how do I find the line between venting and gossiping? Maybe seeing this in a new light will help me curb my behavior.

–Babbling B

A good general policy is not to talk about one partner to another, except to praise. LustyGuy is great at this–he is always singing L’s praises to me (and, presumably, mine to her).

Yes, it may SEEM like you should be able to vent harmlessly to your new friend/lover, who after all likes and respects your live-in partner, right? No. It doesn’t work that way. It ends up creating back alley alliances, fear, uncertainty and an environment of competition all around. After all, how could anyone trust you if they all know you’ll share the least flattering bits of your interactions with others, who don’t love them like you do?

Here’s a tip: make all your new partners aware of the no-venting-about-others policy and ask them to help you enforce it. In addition to training yourself to stop venting, train them to stop you when you start complaining and cut you off with, “this is not a conversation you and I are going to have” or “go tell him that” or just hand you the phone and say “call him!” If you need to get a poly-friendly therapist or have a non-partner friend as your established ventee, do so.

But your partners should only hear the best about each other from you. 

PW 459: How to avoid polysaturation

lolcatsdotcomwbmf1xra4ftvyg8tHow to avoid polysaturation–saying no 

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

We’ll be at InfinityCon in Atlanta in February!

1:45 Poly in the News

3:45 How to avoid polysaturation

Minx and Koe Creation talk about how to take care of yourself, how to say no and other tips for avoiding polysaturation.

30:00 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 457 My best friend just got married! Can we date now?

Is a new marriage the best place and time to introduce a poly l0ver?icanhazdatenao

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

  • Too much drama in your relationships? Invest in the Kicking Poly Drama on Its Ass online course, just $99 for one student or $169 for up to a three-person polycule!
  • Positively Poly Pointers As a thank-you for their investment and as motivation for ongoing skills development, KPD students and Poly Weekly Playmates will soon be receiving weekly email relationship tips!

2:50 Poly in the News

5:15 Topic: My best friend just got married! Can she and I date now?

A listener writes in to say he and his best friend, former lovers, want to start their sexual relationship back up now that she is recently married. But she hasn’t come out as poly to her new husband. What should our listener do?

11:20 Thank you!

Welcome, Michele, to the Poly Weekly Playmates!

12:00 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 456: Stories from the polycule

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff talks about her new poly anthologyStories from the Polycule

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

Poly in the News

Interview: Elisabeth Sheff on Stories from the Polycule

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff talks about what inspired her new anthology, Stories from the Polycule.


R calls in to ask how to give herself permission to enjoy loving someone else without feeling so weird and guilty. Minx’s advice:

  • Don’t worry/expect that it will/won’t feel like with your existing partner—it won’t, since it’s a different person.
  • Acknowledge and accept all your emotions, even the negative ones. It’s OK to feel guilty, confused, happy or sexy.
  • Embrace the new relationship like a second child—see what personality the relationship develops, all while making sure the existing relationship is being nurtured as well.
  • If you still feel off after several months, you might just not be all that into that person.

Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 455: Help! My partners keep triggering my PTSD!

29956140_sHow do you deal with partners whose screaming matches repeatedly trigger your PTSD?

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

Poly in the News

3:50 Poly in the News

6:05 Topic: Triggering PTSD

A listener writes in to ask what to do when her partner and metamour have screaming fights that trigger her PTSD.

16:00 Feedback

R writes in with a LOT of great information on furries! Everything you wanted to know about furries but were afraid to ask!

21:00 Happy Poly Moment

Lean in Berlin shares an adorable happy poly moment.

22:45 Thank you!

Thanks to Anthony for his donation!

23:30 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 454: Two new lovers: double the fun?

If you take two new partners at the same time, is it double the NRE or double the drama?

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host chat

Want to find out about new episodes, classes and ebooks hot off the press? Sign up for our email newsletter.

1:30 Poly in the News

7:00 Topic: Is dating two new partners at the same time extra fun or extra jealousy?

  • A listener writes in to ask if it’s common to date two new people at once. Is more jealousy and insecurity a natural side effect of that situation?
    • It depends on the people involved.
    • What’s more important is what do YOU want and need. Does this situation work for you?
  • Alisha writes in to ask what to do: she wants to be her partner’s girlfriend, but he’s on the rebound from a 14-year marriage and feels he can’t be in a serious relationship. What to do?
    • Date your species.

16:30 Feedback

Herbalwise calls in to say he LOVES to date poly newbies!

20:00 Happy Poly Moment

Greg shares a happy poly moment as a sex worker deciding to expand his boundaries and getting love and support from his partners when he does!

21:45 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Q & A with Stories from the Polycule author Elisabeth Sheff

Dr. Elisabeth SheffElisabeth Sheff is an educational consultant and expert witness serving sexual and gender minorities. Her new book, Stories from the Polycule, is a delightful anthology that brings together stories, poems, drawings and essays created by real people living in polycules. Children describe life with more than two parents; adults share what it’s like to parent with more than one partner. We hear from triads, solos, people who have felt polyamorous their entire lives, and people exploring poly for the first time.

This is a slice-of-life anthology of essays and stories on poly dating, parenting, loss and life. Far from a poly how-to book, SftP is easily consumable infotainment, easy to thumb through for the insights that are relevant to you right now.

Why did you decide to write this book? 

The amount of information about polyamory has skyrocketed in the last few years, but too little of it presents a well-rounded view of what it is actually like to live in a poly family. Sex and sensationalism are the rule for TV shows about polyamory, and the raft of new how-to books and memoirs on polyamory by definition provide a limited view because they focus on one person/group’s experience.

Stories from the Polycule is composed of selections written by many different people in poly families, so it is in their own voices. I wanted a book that could give many little peeks in to a range of poly families to show the true diversity of poly experience, outside of sexy hot tub scenes or dramatic relationship blow-ups. Or in addition to sex and drama, because those are in the Polycule as well, but also much more.

Whom do you want to read this book?

The main audience is people who are curious about poly families and want a realistic view of what they are like on a day-to-day basis, warts and all. Readers who are looking for a sugar-coated view of poly family life as idyllic and effortless will be disappointed. Those who want to read short and approachable vignettes from poly families — how they come together, what happens with their lives, and what sustains or drives them apart – will be quite pleased with the variety of stories, poems, drawings, and cartoons in Stories from the Polycule. It is the kind of book you can sit and read for several hours, or leaf through and read a few stories here and there.

Stories from the PolyculeWhy would the Poly Weekly audience want to read your book?

It is the first book of its kind to tell (some of) their stories, in their own voices. Stories from the Polycule also would be a great tool to introduce polyamory to family members, friends, kids, and adults of all stripes who might need to know about polyamory but shy away from reading long, complicated, or academic books. Because people can leaf through and find what interests them, Polycule can provide a nice slow introduction to begin with and lots more detail later, once the conversation has progressed.

What did you learn from writing this book?

It was my first edited anthology, and I was thrilled by how easily it came together once I had the submissions. It was a real challenge to get submissions, and I had to keep recruiting for a long time before I felt like I had enough to make the book. Each time a submission would come in, it was like opening a birthday present to find out what cool surprise was inside. I loved reading each one, and felt connected to the larger poly community through their stories. Even so, the submissions were trickling in and I was afraid the book would not come together.

At that point I learned not to despair, because help arrived in the form of Eve Rickert at Thorntree Press who aided me in reaching a larger audience to get the word out about submissions. With her help, I got a flood of great stuff at the end, and it really rounded out the book very nicely. So the hardest part was definitely getting the submissions–after that, it all just fell in to place beautifully with hardly any effort on my part. The selections almost sorted themselves in to the six chapters that compse the book.

Why do you study and write so much about polyamory when you’re not poly yourself?

I originally started investigating polyamory as a personal relationship option for myself when, as an undergraduate, I accidentally fell in love with a man (“Rick”) who had told me from the beginning that he did not do monogamy. We discussed it for several years, and when I was in graduate school near the end of the 1990s, I heard an interview with Ryam Nearing (then editor of Loving More Magazine), and my brain exploded. She was talking about exactly what Rick and I had been discussing ad nauseum these several years, and it had a name–polyamory! Not only that, when I looked them up online, it turned out there was a public informational meeting about it in a nearby public library. Rick and I attended that meeting and began hanging out with those folks, just checking out their scene. They were cool, friendly, outdoorsy, open-minded liberals and we fit right in and had fun at their events.

The more I knew about polyamory, the more interesting and frightening it became. As an intellectual, I tend to intellectualize things that frighten me, and I was scared shitless of actually having a polyamorous relationship. In addition to continuing to try to figure it out for myself, I realized no one had researched it yet and recognized an opportunity to both assuage my own fears and do a groundbreaking dissertation on this cool new group. I ended up writing the dissertation and continuing that research for 15 years, which eventually turned in to a book, The Polyamorists Next Door.

Along the way Rick and I tried polyamory with fairly disastrous results (the long story is in Chapter 5 of the Polys Next Door or short version on my Psychology Today blog), with me dragging my heels and making outlandish rules to manipulate the appearance of openness with the reality of monogamy, and him constantly pushing for more. After 15 years together, Rick and split up, and now neither of us identify as polyamorous.

While I do not assume that another serious poly relationship would end with the same disastrous results I experienced with Rick (from what I hear, I could expect an all new cast of potentially disastrous results J, said only partly in irony–or would it be sarcasm?), I am not eager to have another try at polyamory for other reasons like low sex drive, busy schedule, love of time alone, and having my needs well met already.

Even though polyamory does not appear to work for me at this point, I am deeply convinced by the empirical evidence generated through years of research that it can work quite well for some others. Furthermore, poly families have a demonstrated ability to provide happy, loving, and supportive environments for children. Not all poly families are perfect and they certainly can make mistakes like all families, but it is important to me that people understand that polyamorous families are not pathological by definition–they can be wonderful!

The stigma and discrimination poly folks face in daily life and the court system are unconscionable, but not novel or unusual. Sex and gender minorities of all sorts are routinely disadvantaged by negative social views that are unfounded in reality and instead reproduce and reinforce prejudicial or ignorant stereotypes. When the-powers-that-be (for instance, the Child Protective Services officials or judges in family court) use those stereotypes to make decisions about custody or employment, it deeply offends my sense of fairness and I am driven to produce research that demonstrates the empirical status of the family. Some poly families are messed up and probably should be deprived of custody of their children–only with a real investigation that finds significant distress outside of just relationship non-conformity. In other words, people should lose their kids if they are neglectful or abusive parents, not simply because they are polyamorous. I want to help good parents of all kinds–poly, kinky, vanilla, and all–keep their kids by using data to counter hysteria. That is why I study polyamorous families.

Why did you leave academia? What have you been doing since then?

When I first started out as an assistant professor, academia was still ruled by the adage “publish or perish.” Economic downturns from 2008-2011 changed the financial climate for everyone, and universities faced massive budget cuts. In response to significant budgetary shortfalls, universities across the United States made enormous changes in everything from staff and policies to course schedules and facilities. Part of these changes included making “external funding” (meaning getting a research grant from a funding agency outside of the university itself, like the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health) a requirement for tenure. I tried hard to get a grant, but had very little success finding grants that would be appropriate to fund my research or getting the grants for which I applied. That meant that I perished, even though I published, and I did not get tenure at Georgia State University.

I have kept a toe in academia since then, teaching as an adjunct or visiting professor at Oglethorpe and Emory University. My consulting business, Sheff Consulting Group, helps others navigate academia, with advice on choosing programs or dealing with departmental politics, and writing consultations that help to shape articles, select target journals and prepare for submission or address R&R critique. I also work as an expert witness, testifying on behalf of sex and gender minorities who are experiencing discrimination or a challenge to custody of their children.

Currently I am working on my third book, Sex and Gender Diversity in an Internet Era, a book that introduces the general public to the wide and potentially confusing world of transgender, intersexed, genderqueer, kinky, pansexual subcultures that have blossomed since the unconventional folks could find each other online. I thought about calling it WTF is LGBTQIA+, but I thought that a publisher might take me more seriously if it was a more serious title.

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff is an educational consultant and expert witness serving sexual and gender minorities. She is the author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families as well as numerous academic and legal articles about polyamory, gender, families, and sexual minorities. Sheff has given more than 20 radio, podcast, print, and television interviews with sources from Radio Slovenia to National Public Radio, the Sunday London Times to the Boston Globe and Newsweek, CNN to National Geographic Television. By emphasizing research methodology and findings in her presentations, Dr. Sheff offers the kind of public intellectualism that encourages audience members to think critically about gender, sexualities, and families. She lives in Atlanta with her wife, their children, dog, cats and the small wild animals the cats bring in.

PW 452: Poly on a budget

walletPolyamory can be expensive! Koe and Minx share some budgeting tips

Download the mp3 directly

Under 18? Stop listening now and visit

1:00 Host Chat

2:50 Topic: Poly on a budget

Koe Creation and Minx give tips on being poly with a limited income, including:

  • How to talk about money and what to ask
  • Buying stuff
  • Transportation cost savers
  • Under $20 dates
  • 100% free dates (excluding transportation)

16:20 Feedback

  • How can you tell when you’re polysaturated?
  • Michael writes in to share the difficulty of a poly death

29:45 Feedback

40:30 Wrap Up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email 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 Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

Make a Donation

Poly Weekly Playmates!

Wanna play?
CatalystCon West '15

Poly Weekly on Facebook

Poly Weekly on Twitter