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?

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1:00 Host chat

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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.

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

PW 452: Poly on a budget

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

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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!

PW 451: Being party to a lie

Is it OK to be party to someone else’s lie?31627422_s

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1:00 Host Chat

  • Welcome Spotify listeners! Poly Weekly is being rolled out to select users in US, UK, Germany and Sweden.
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  • When would be the best time for us to offer a low-cost webinar? Take the poll and tell us!

4:10 Poly in the News

10:20 Topic: Should I be party to a lie?

A listener writes in to ask if it’s OK to help a partner keep past infidelity a secret. How does one decide when to be party to a lie?

16:20 Feedback

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

31:00 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 450: My metamour is a $&!@? to me

What to do when your metamour seems rude to youRude snub metamour

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1:00 Host Chat

1:20 Poly in the News

8:15 Topic: Help! My metamour is a bitch to me!

Listener A writes in to ask what to do: her metamour avoids eye contact and seeks out their mutual partner alone. How does A tell her partner that he chose the wrong gal to date?

LustyGuy and Minx both think this might be a misunderstanding and have more to do with social awkwardness than sabotage.

  • Don’t make assumptions about her behavior—she might just be intimidated or introverted
  • Take it upon yourself to open lines of communication and extend the welcome
  • You can only control what YOU do, not what anyone else does
  • You’re the expert on you

16:00 Feedback on episode 446

  • NOLady wrote in to take Minx to task on episode 446, in which we referenced the Ashley Madison hack, both with the numbers presented and with the original tone of the report
  • H wrote in to recommend mentioning Dan Savage’s take on the Ashley Madison hack, which we already did in episode 446
  • Mint wrote in about being demisexual and asked for more representation for those on the asexual spectrum

26:00 Happy Poly Moment

Jason wrote in to share a happy poly moment about finally being able to date his species!

28:30 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 448: What to do when you see gaslighting

gaslighting with quotesWhat do you do when you see a friend being gaslit?

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1:00 Announcements

7:45 Topic: What to do when you see gaslighting

A listener called in to ask a tricky question: what do we do when we see a friend or community member being gaslit? I put the question to the panel of Eve Rickert, Tamara Pincus and William Winters III on emotional abuse, and this was their advice:

  • Listen and validate
  • Offer support
  • Tell the friend that their partner might tell them not to speak to you anymore, which is a sign of abuse

Every community leader should read 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Gaslighting and be aware of the phenomenon.

14:55 Feedback

  • Karen wrote in with feedback on episode 418 on emotional abuse, arguing that supporting the survivor can be tricky. Minx agrees but argues that it does no harm to support both the survivor and the perpetrator and do restorative justice for both.
  • T writes in to thank us for the education. It was helpful to him to self-identify as poly, even though he has decided to stay in his loving monogamous relationship with his wife—by choice.

23:45 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!

PW 447: Poly people of color

poly people of color imageWhat is the experience of poly people of color, and how can we encourage diversity and inclusion?

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1:00 Announcements

  • Minx will be in New York September 24-27—any suggestions for things to do?
  •  CatalystCon West report will be in next week’s show

1:45 Topic: Poly people of color

The poly community is generally portrayed as white and middle class. But that’s not entirely accurate. Our panel answers the questions that Minx awkwardly poses:

  • What is your experience in the poly community?
  • Can you speak to the experience of being a person of color in a poly community?
  • What can we do to be more inclusive and welcoming of people of color?

34:45 Feedback

  • Poly Friend writes in to argue that with poly, a limited number of kreplits are distributed among a growing number of partners. Minx argues that love isn’t a zero sum game, or people with more than one kid would be exceedingly cruel.
  • Lee writes in to argue that for the listener asking for advice on episode 444 when to stop lying about when to stop lying, Minx should have told her just to dump the guy who insists she lie to her friends. I disagree: I see my job as enabling my very smart listeners to make their own decisions, so my style is to give you questions you can ask yourself that will help you to decide what will be best for you.
  • Squirrel writes in about herpes, so we do an HSV review. Past episodes covering HSV are here, here and here.

46:30 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!

How to recognize and respond to emotional abuse

Cunning Minx, Eve Rickert, Tamara Pincus, MSW, LICSW, William Winters discuss the issue of emotional abuse in alternative communities and how we can create awareness and maintain community for both survivors of and perpetrators of abuse at CatalystCon West #cconabuse

CCon session handout

Poly families: poly parents and kids sound off

Wondering if polyamory is good for families? A poly mom, son, father and daughter share their experiences #cconpoly

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