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

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

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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!

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 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 444: When to stop lying

lolcat-liesWe all lie a little to be in the closet. But how much is too much?

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1:00 Announcements

12:30 Poly in the News

Polyamory: taboo for religious Americans but not for the rest

16:00 Kicking Poly Drama Testimonial

Kicking Poly Drama on Its Ass online course student Joseph shares his experience with taking Minx’s first online course—what it was like, and was it worth the time, effort and money to take an online poly course.

20:10 Topic: When to stop lying

Frustrated in Kentucky writes in to ask about a tricky situation. In an open marriage and playing with K, who is squicked at dating a married woman and wants to be in the closet about it. However, their mutual close friends have noticed their interactions and are asking about Frustrated dating K, so she is forced to lie directly to them in order to keep K in the closet. To make matters worse, K is about to move in with said mutual friends! What to do?

  • LustyGuy suggests not actually lying while still respecting K’s closet. Have you tried “I can’t answer that” or “I can neither confirm nor deny”?
  • While you do need to respect K’s closet, it’s also worth asking yourself what you need in order to be happy. Is being in the closet hot and sexy, or is it making your relationship worse and less healthy?

27:25 Thank you!

Thanks BJ for joining the PW Playmates!

28:40 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!

Dealing with a poly breakup

When your metamour leaves, how do you comfort your husband when you yourself feel ambivalent about the loss?

37920142_sMost listener questions that come into the Poly Weekly inbox aren’t unique to polyamory. However, on last week’s podcast, we dealt with an issue that is unique to polyamory: how do you support your husband through the loss of his girlfriend when the girlfriend was kind of unkind to you?

Sarah has been married to David for 5 years, he has a girlfriend Julie for two years. They all lived together. Girlfriend Julie left abruptly, saying that it was because Sarah wouldn’t be in a sexual/intimate relationship with her. Sarah is trying to empathize with David’s loss, but she also feels frustrated and unappreciated because she did offer emotional, financial and professional career support to Julie. Her question: how do I offer support when I feel frustrated and hurt at times by the person whose loss he’s grieving?

This can be a challenging situation. You want to be supportive, but you have your own emotions about the situation that don’t match his. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Own your own shit

Your emotions are yours to own, and his emotions are his to own. You don’t have to feel the way he feels, and he doesn’t have to feel the way you feel. Both of your sets of complex emotions can exist in the same space, and everything that each of you feels is OK. You do not need to come to a consensus or agreement in order to support each other through this time. It’s 100% OK for you to feel ambivalent or resentful or hurt, and it’s 100% OK for him to desperately want her back.

Take care of yourself

If you need a sympathetic ear and your husband can’t provide it, find someone who can. Turn to a friend or a therapist who can listen and provide support. Treat yourself to journaling, a bath, a massage, a mimosa brunch with friends or whatever else will help with your grieving process. Do what you need to do to grieve your loss and cope with your emotions.

Ask for what you want

Tell your husband what you need in terms of support from him and ask him what he needs. If you can’t provide him with what he’s asking for–for example, listening to him figure out how to get Julie back–then provide him support in other ways that you are comfortable with. Make him dinner, give him a ride home from the bar with the guys, get him a new video game. You set your own boundaries for the the support you can provide. If he asks for something you can’t give, it’s OK to say you can’t do that, and it’s up to you to find another way to show you support him.

If you do decide to listen to him during his grieving process, try responding to the subtext of what he’s saying rather than the actual words. If he says, “I have to get her back,” for example, respond to the subtext, which might be something like, “I am hurting because I love and miss her.” To which you can reply, “I’m sorry this is so hard on you. I know how much you still love her.”

Resist dwelling on the given reason

As I’m sure you’ve experience in your life, the reason a party gives for ending a relationship is rarely the full story. It’s entirely possibly that Julie herself may not be aware of the real reasons for the breakup and may not be for another 20 years. So avoid dwelling on the given reason and work to accept that the relationship simply wasn’t a good fit for making the people in it better versions of themselves.

Three ways this relationship bill of rights will save your poly relationship

funny-cat-pictures-lolcats-classic-lolcatThe top three takeaways from the Relationship Bill of Rights

In episode 430 of Polyamory Weekly, Koe Creation and I talk about the simple brilliance that is Franklin Veaux’s and Eve Rickert’s Relationship Bill of Rights. This document began as a Secondary’s Bill of Rights to avoid secondary mistreatment, but Franklin and Eve quickly realized that these rights should apply to every relationship, whether monogamous, non-monogamous, polyamorous or anything in between.

And I’m so glad they did; it was sorely needed!

It’s a bit embarrassing to have to acknowledge that many folks, when trying polyamory, often throw common decency out the window. In trying so hard to define these newfangled relationships and their boundaries, we often throw agency, respect and inclusion away in order to attempt to gain control over unfamiliar situations. And we often end up shooting ourselves in the foot or treating others badly in the process.

I recommend that everyone read and print out a copy of this Relationship Bill of Rights. Tape it to your bathroom mirror. Live it!

As you know, I’ve been on a campaign to end avoidable relationship drama. The Kicking Poly Drama in Its Ass course is still the most popular one I teach; so much so that I’m working to expand it into an online course that anyone can take. The challenge of drama is that when things get rough, we often can have a tendency to clamp down and forget our principles–and that fear-based response is what leads to heartache, heartbreak and drama.

OK, enough on why we need to internalize the RBoR. Here are the three key takeaways to ponder:

  • Agency In the Relationship Bill of Rights, 90% of the content is acknowledging that every person in a relationship has agency. Regardless of position, every person has the right to decide what level of intimacy she wants and needs, to voice how he feels about the things that happen to him,  to set her own limits and boundaries and to be included in decisions that affect him. This is true for husbands, wives, lovers, paramours, fuck buddies, friends with benefits, submissives, dominants, tops, bottoms and everything in between. As LustyGuy often says, “the point of any relationship is to make the people in it better versions of themselves.” Each person has the responsibility to voice what he wants and needs free of coercion, and each person deserves full information to make informed decisions about her own actions. Depriving another person of  his or her agency isn’t cool–including when that person is you.
  • Respect for organic change Are you the same person you were when you first met your current partner(s)? Probably not. You’ve grown and developed over time, and so have your relationships. They might deepen, intensify, fade away or become untenable. Whatever happens, it’s important to acknowledge that people and relationships change over time. We all change, and we all make mistakes. Hopefully, we learn from those mistakes. While it’s important to communicate needs and boundaries, it’s equally important to recognize that it’s no one’s job to control anyone else. You will change. Your partners will change. Your relationships will change. The Relationship Bill of Rights does a good job of promoting communication rather than control.
  • seek-patience-main_fullBalance Every relationship is a balancing act of trying to accommodate everyone’s needs while respecting everyone’s voice. All partners, from brand-new ones down to a spouse of 30 years, have the right to have a say in decisions that affect them. Everyone deserves to have plans respected, to choose whom they want to date and when and to expect a balance in what they get from a relationship in relation to what they put in to it. It’s not far or balanced in any relationship to frequently have plans canceled or to be told when and whom you can date. Likewise, it’s not fair to expect one person to bear the brunt of initiating, forgiving or planning. Things happen, and that’s OK. But a pattern of one partner frequently bearing the brunt of initiations, cancellations or forgiveness does not make for a healthy relationship. In fact, the worst thing a poly couple can do is to end a new relationship in order to “focus on their marriage.” Making unilateral decisions isn’t healthy for any relationship, and it doesn’t play well in polyamory, either. Ditto for coercion and lying to “protect” someone.

The Relationship Bill of Rights is something that we have needed in print for a long time, and I’m incredibly thankful to Franklin and Eve for publishing it. What are your takeaways from it? Was there anything you disagreed with?

PW 430: Don’t try polyamory before listening to this

Minx and Koe Creation review the absolutely essential Relationship Bill of Rightsbillofrights Download the mp3 directly

1:00 Announcements

3:25 Poly in the news

5:35 Topic: What you need to know about poly relationships before trying one

Koe Creation and Minx highlight one of the most important pieces for you to read, review and integrate before trying a poly relationship. No, it’s not about jealousy. No, it’s not about dating. No, it’s not about safer sex. This is a topic that very few people discuss before trying polyamory and is usually the cause of the demise of the first poly relationship. What is it? The rights that every person has in every relationship, regardless of the structure: Franklin Veaux’s and Eve Rickert’s Relationship Bill of Rights.

37:30 Thank you!

Thanks to Shelby for the donation!

38:30 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 419: Long distance relationships

Tips and tricks for long-distance relationshipsuh43048,1289761004,ca07c62e-004f-4c18-addd-2ec839763a6a

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1:00 Host chat and announcements

LustyGuy and I’ll be teaching Kicking Poly Drama in the Ass at Kinkfest!

2:00 Poly in the News

5:35 Topic: Long-distance relationships

Koe Creation cohosts this fun segment on how to define and sustain long distance relationships. Thanks to our Facebook fans who offered advice here, and we had a few thoughts, too:

  • How to define “long distance”
  • What are your needs and expectations?
    • pause and play
    • do you need ongoing?
    • how do you get quality time? how do you feel valued?
  • Use technology: Skype, order delivery and have dinner together, Google calendar, texts, emails, letters
    • random, ongoing contact as it is beneficial (is travel too costly?)
    • setting date nights
    • working on joint projects

30:25 Feedback

A fan shares her appreciation of Joan Price’s episode on senior sex!

32:00 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 412: Relationship “rules” of order

funny_cats_lol_cats_earz_too_smallLustyGuy’s best practices for a long-term poly relationship

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1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

Please take the PW listener survey!

3:00 Poly in the News

Nick TV’s Degrassi introduces a polyamory plot line, sort of

5:15 Topic: Relationship “Rules” of Order from LustyGuy

Really “best practices” rather than “rules”

Getting Started

  • Assume goodwill among folks
  • Reasonable emotional intelligence is required—know how you feel, why you feel that way and be able to express both

What you need to do yourself

  • Know thyself
  • Be honest with yourself

Within the relationship

  • Give early notice to avoid surprises
  • Allow for “experience shock”
  • Never ask a question you can’t hear “no” to
  • If you reject a request, it’s your responsibility to make a counter-offer
  • Have regular relationship check-ins, “State of the Relationship” talks
  • Let your partners be the experts on themselves
  • What is important to your partner must also be at least a little important to you
  • If it hasn’t been agreed to, it isn’t (yet) so
  • Be partners, not parents
  • The negotiation process ultimately matters more than the outcome
  • A joint account requires consent of all contributors before spending
  • Pass the “conn” for kids/pets

27:30 Happy Poly Moment

  • Haddayr shares a super sweet happy poly moment with the 10-year-old!
  • Gabriel shares an HPM about communication about sexual preferences saving the day!

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 410: The world according to Gottman

A biased review of psychologist John Gottman’s research on relationships

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Dr. John Gottman with his wife Julie

Dr. John Gottman with his wife Julie

1:00 Announcements and Host Chat

9:40 Topic: The world according to John Gottman

John Gottman is a professor of psychology famous for his work on evaluating marital stability through direct observational data points.

  • Famous for being able to predict whether a couple will stay together (which he refutes, but he can compare data and give odds of success). For example, if more than 20% of your interactions with your partner are negative, it’s likely that something needs to be addressed in order to increase relationship longevity
  • Microexpressions Also famously researched microexpressions
  • Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
  • Accessible research Great marketer and beneficial for taking his research and making the data accessible to the public
  • Challenge: his data isn’t replicable outside his experiments
  • Making bids for connection Recent Business Week article on couples making and accepting bids for connection being a top trait of successful relationships
  • Anger research Master versus disaster model, in which masters use anger to demo emotional importance rather than using it to express contempt. He posits that even healthy couples fight and get angry and that anger is functional in marriage.
  • But be aware that Gottman’s work focuses on monogamy and heterosexual couples only and is not a proponent of polyamory.

30:00 Happy Poly Moment

Clare from London writes in to share her discovery of polyamory, her self-identify as poly and her hopes of applying it to her new relationship.

35:10 Thanks

Thanks to Taylor and Igor for their donations and welcome Doug as the newest Poly Weekly Playmate!

36:00 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!

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