Happy Thanksgiving to all of you US folks (or anyone else) who celebrate it today! Today I am grateful for the skills that I’ve learned through polyamory, which have helped to bring our tribe(s) into relative harmony and alignment that couldn’t have been imagined only two years ago. I created my “usual” — fresh cranberry-orange sauce, an apple pie, and a pumpkin pie – while my daughter made fresh bread with our breadmaker. My partner took the potatoes, the stuffing, and the turkey over to his ex’s house, and cooked them there. I helped my daughter’s boyfriend’s family get costumed for the Dickens Fair this weekend, and then we headed over to my partner’s ex’s house, and consumed a marvelous feast and chatted while watching Rob Roy on DVD and enjoyed the attentions of a variety of domestic critters. All in all, a good day.
I hope your day was as good, and I wish you a wonderful Holiday season. I am thankful for you.
Hey folks! Check out this interesting Webinar from the folks who conducted the Loving More/NCSF Internet survey of self-identified polyamorous people!
October 17, 2013. 6:00PM Pacific*
Highlights of Loving More Polyamory Survey with
Jim Fleckenstein and Derrell W. Cox II, MA
From February 10th to April 2nd 2012, Loving More, with the endorsement of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) conducted an internet-based survey of over 4000 participants who self-identify as polyamorous. This is the largest survey of self-identified polyamorous individuals to date. Individuals were recruited through local and regional listserves, Loving More email list, the PolyResearchers list, the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality’s (IASHS) student and alumni lists, and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ (AASECT) AltSex list. With the exception of five questions, all the questions were drawn from among those asked in the NORC’s biennial General Social Survey (GSS) in order to compare a sample of the polyamory community with the general US adult population.
This free Webinar is a chance to learn about the survey results firsthand and includes 30 minute Q&A at the end.
Hey polyamorous and open people, what do you think? Is feeling jealousy ever a “good thing?” What do “feelings of jealousy” mean to you? or about you? Check out the letter below from one of my readers, and my response, for some more thoughts on this topic.
I hope this is quick. I don’t feel I have any place in a jealousy workshop, because I don’t see myself ever feeling jealous, because I think jealousy has to do with feeling upset because I’m not getting attention I feel is owed to me, and I don’t feel anyone owes me, or would ever owe me, attention. Is that a sign of low self-esteem? That is, is feeling jealous when one’s beloved gives attention to someone else ever a good thing? Thanks!
Jealousy is neither good nor bad. It just IS. It’s a collection of feelings, and those feelings are *information.* What you do with the information is up to you, ultimately (though for some folks, it doesn’t feel like it.) If you feel “jealous” when your lover gives attention to someone else, in my view that means it’s a signal that there’s something there for YOU to pay attention to. Ask yourself questions like “what need do I have that feels like it’s not getting met (enough)?” “has my ‘love tank’ gotten filled enough recently, and if not, what could I possibly ask for (not demand!) that might have me feel more loved and more at ease with my partner?” It’s not about your partner “owing” you attention — it’s about you and your partner/s having a “winning relationship” in which the *relationship* wins because everyone’s needs are getting met, and everyone in the relationship feels like they’re “winning” (i.e., getting what they need in a win-win-win… manner.)
PS: Have you signed up for the 3rd and final teleseminar with Kathy Labriola and myself, on Monday October 21st at 5:45 – 7pm Pacific Time? Called “More Options for More Jealousy,” this is ANOTHER all new call, feature a new relaxation meditation, more models and options for dealing with jealousy, and a step-by step process for examining your beliefs and fears around your jealousy triggers. We’d love to have you join us! (or, if you can’t be on the call live, sign up anyway, and get the recording and the FREE “take home materials”!)
You’ve all heard the songs. In fact, if you’ve been poly/open for a while, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at them. Songs with themes of how “I can’t live with out you,” “you complete me,” or “you broke my heart” with the subtext “… AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
Singer/Songwriter Scott Kalechstein Grace took a few of the most common from the 50′s – 70′s — and most egregious — and wrote a very funny parody mashup. It’s worth the listen:
Of course, being polyamorous or open doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t also co-dependent… but I find that it at least tends to force one to confront some of these tendencies. It becomes harder, for instance, to imagine that one person can possibly be the answer to all of life’s problems — and that you will DIE without that person — if you’ve discovered that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time … and to have more than one person love you.
With best wishes for INTER-dependent, not co-dependent, love!
After the last call, we heard from a number of you that you’d like even MORE techniques — more ways to help deal with jealousy in the moment, and especially more ways to help not only yourself, but also your partner/s. So we think you’ll be happy to know that we are doing another free call on dealing with jealousy!
Thursday September 19th, 2013, at 2:15 – 3:30pm Pacific
This will be a whole new call, facilitated by Dawn Davidson and Kathy Labriola, two well-known polyamory educators and counselors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
During this class, we’ll review the basics of what jealousy is and why we experience it, and then move on to several NEW techniques to help you navigate these tricky waters. Kathy will help you to identify and change some of the core beliefs that may be fueling your jealousy, and Dawn will lead you through a “trance rehearsal” to help you deal more effectively with jealousy-provoking situations in the future. We’ll also discuss the concept of compersion, and offer up a few ideas for the non-jealous partner, as well as for the person experiencing the jealousy. This teleseminar will again be participatory and will include a Question and Answer period as well as NEW take-home materials for continued learning! RSVP today for MORE Jealousy First Aid, and get some great information and tips from not just one but TWO experts on riding the Green Wave of Jealousy!
Kathy and I can’t wait for you to join our next call!
…because no matter who or how many you love… Love is ALWAYS OK!
The poly mantra, as they say, is “Communicate, communicate, communicate,” hereinafter represented as “C^3″ for brevity in this article. We all know (or we learn quickly), that polymory and open relationships take a LOT of communicating. In fact, a therapist friend of mine, Cat Maness, said yesterday, that her top 5 skills for poly/open relationships are:
And I’ll add that the most common thing to communicate about is… scheduling! We do a lot of talking and writing around here. It’s just part of the process.
That said, there comes a time when some folks feel that C^3 is OVER-communicating. Recently, for instance, in publicizing the second workshop I’m doing with Kathy Labriola, MORE Jealousy First Aid, I sent out a couple of invites, and Kathy send out an invite, and at least some people on both lists have started to feel like it’s OVER-communicating. (Theoretically, having Infusionsoft is supposed to help with this, but I’m such relative n00b at it that I’m still figuring out how to use all the fancy bells and whistles.) The fact, is though, that one person’s “communicating” is another person’s “OVER-communicating.” People have different preferences, and different levels of comfort with communication. And that’s natural, too.
What’s your comfort level with communication? Do you believe in C^3? Or do you have other ideas about communication? No matter what, I hope your communications are helpful in whatever sort of relationship/s you have. Because no matter who or how many you love…
Those of you with cable will probably know that Showtime’s second season of Polyamory: Married and Dating started in August. Based on early reports of “more diversity,” and the producer talking to “families from the heartland,” I had had higher hopes for this season than last. I haven’t seen the show myself yet (viewing parties are being scheduled!), but I have heard from some of my friends, and frankly, they weren’t impressed. “You’d think all we poly folk ever do is have sex, or talk about having sex,” was more or less the comment from one of my friends who’s actually seen all of this season’s shows so far. Since that was pretty much my complaint last year, I have to say I’m not shocked by my friend’s assessment. The show isn’t a particularly representative sample of differing poly relationship styles, unfortunately. Of course, this is a “reality” TV show, not a documentary, so we do have to take that into account. Sex sells, and sales drive ratings, after all.
As usual, Alan M. of Poly In The News is covering the show in detail, including some clips and a lot of analysis. Alan’s opinion seems fairly favorable (again), though that’s not without reason. The San Diego group, and Kamala in particular (in my opinion), have pretty good communication skills, and really are interested in showing the world that polyamory can work — and how their version of it works, in particular. Kamala often says things that I agree with wholeheartedly, such as this quote that Alan M. reports:
“You need a tribe. You need a community. It’s so much better than trying to do this alone.”
– Kamala Devi, as quoted in Poly in the News
It’s not that polyamory is never about sex of course — I myself have said that polyamory is just as much about sex (or not) as any monogamous relationship. Sex is part of the vast majority of adult human romantic relationships. It just so happens that their version of polyamory involves a lot more sex than the versions of most of the people *I* know! This clip from episode 3 encapsulates some of my sense of Michael’s heavy focus on sex:
He seems to have a hard time separating sex and closeness. His new partner Rachel seems to have a hard time understanding his difficulty:
Rachel, bemused: “I’m trying to understand the way this conversation is going.” Getting into bed with her lover’s wife is not how she usually thinks of “going deeper” with a lover, she explains.
– as quoted by Alan M. in Poly in the News
So what’s the harm in portraying polyamory as primarily about the sex? Hard to say. After all, it’s actually true for some percentage of poly people. On the other hand, as my friend expressed to me, if this were your only exposure to polyamory, you might get the wrong idea, or at least a very skewed one, and think that polyamory is always primarily about sex. [Hint: It's not.] I myself have a suspicion that my having suggested that an old friend watch the show (before I saw it, last year) might indeed have contributed to said friend’s sudden cessation of contact shortly thereafter. Certainly he seemed to think I wanted something much different than I actually did.
In my opinion, the real concern, though, is that all this focus on sex contributes to the cultural ideas that lead to “Michael Carey” on Slate writing this excellent article “Why I’m Still in the Polyamory Closet.” As “Michael” writes:
I have never, ever been out as poly in a workplace. Start trying to explain consensual non-monogamy, and some people—a lot of people—are going to think you’re obsessed with sex. (Never mind that I’ve been with my wife, Rose, for 10 years, have been married for three, and in all that time the two of us have dated fewer people than plenty of serially monogamous singles I know.) Some co-workers may avoid polyamorous colleagues because they’re paranoid that they may be on the prowl. Others will become distrustful because they think that poly is an attempt to re-label behavior that they consider cheating, and cheaters aren’t trustworthy.
Exactly. The assumption is that polyamory is all about sex, whether or not that’s actually the case. It’s stereotyping. So again, what’s problematic with portraying polyamory as being “about sex”? Here’s what:
“…you don’t know if your neighbors are poly (or whatever other term they may use), because they’re still afraid that if they don’t hide that aspect of their lives from you, something bad might happen. Those potential consequences range from having all future interactions feel awkward to having authorities take away their children.” — Michael Carey, in Slate
(Note that that link he gives above is to the relatively old April Divilbiss case, but many more recent instances of polyamorous people losing their children in custody battles have occurred, enough to cause there to be several polyamory legal defense funds and organizations created. It is definitely still an active concern for many polyamorous families.)
So this, then, is why I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress. But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.
I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV,” than about “reality.”
PS: The teleseminar I did with Kathy Labriola on Wednesday was a rousing success! So much so that we’ve scheduled a second one for Thursday afternoon September 19th at 2:15pm Pacific time. We’ll cover several more tools for dealing with jealousy in yourself, and in your partner/s!
Those of us who are polyamorous are quite aware that we’ve long been painted as “the bottom of the slippery slope,” so it comes as no surprise to us that fundamentalists, especially Christians (e.g., the Christian Broadcasting Network), are looking to interview poly people on the topic. But while we polyfolk aren’t finding the conservatives particularly surprising, apparently WE are surprising THEM.
In particular, in his recent (and not yet released) interview, Dave Doleshal (founder of the Academic Polyamory Conference) reported that the interviewer for CBN was extremely surprised that there are many Christians who are also polyamorous. According to Dave, this
“…seemed to make his eyes bug out. It seemed like this was a possibility he had never considered.”
Note that we are not talking here about the Unitarians, who have a strong polyamory contingent. Nor are we limiting the discussion to Mormon splinter sects. Many Christians do not consider either of those groups to be Christians, strictly speaking. We’re talking about Catholics, Episcopals, Lutherans, and many, many more from the mainstream Christian denominations. Some are closeted, and some are open with their Christian communities. All are Christian AND poly*.
For those of you who might be Christian, but feel the call to being poly* as well, here are a few resources on the topic. [Note: I have not explored all of these deeply, so this does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any particular beliefs, practices or politics; just a link to a few places to look to convince yourself that you are not alone!]
For those who may not know, I myself come out of a conservative Christian background. My ultimate choice was not to stay within the Christian Church, but to pursue Love as a spiritual path. However, I do understand the mindset and the choices that those who are called to both might face. If you’re ever interested in discussing your own situation with me, feel free to book a free or half price session. I’m happy to listen, and to share any wisdom I can offer, because, as many of you already know, I truly believe that
“No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…
Have you or someone you love ever experienced painful episodes of jealousy in an open relationship? You know the ones… maybe you feel alternately cold, and hot, and like you want to do damage to the furniture, or your partner, or maybe even yourself. You want to scream, and feel like this poly/open stuff is just too hard, and you just want to throw in the towel and give up. Ever felt like that?
Yeah, me too! And honestly, who hasn’t? (Well, ok, maybe you haven’t, but if so, I’ll bet your partners have! And that’s not fun either.) Jealousy is all too common, and it’s never fun. Would you be willing to invest about an hour of your time in order to learn effective, practical in-the-moment techniques to reduce these jealous feelings — even as they are happening?
This freeteleseminar will be facilitated by Dawn Davidson and Kathy Labriola, two well-known polyamory educators and counselors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Understand your jealousy, and learn and practice two very effective exercises to manage your jealousy in this short and powerful class!
PS: Having trouble with the signup form, or just want to talk to a human being first? You can also contact Dawn at LoveOTB@gmail.com, 510-686-3386; or Kathy at email@example.com, or (510)841-5307.
Kathy Labriola’s book, “Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships” is a great contribution to the literature on polyamorous and/or open relationships. She gives excellent advice garnered from her extensive counseling experience, and backs up her recommendations with clear, helpful examples. Her topics are helpful and interesting, running the gamut from communication advice to suggestions for how to deal with jealousy, and much more. One especially unusual and helpful aspect to the book, in my opinion, is Labriola’s commitment to sexual orientation inclusiveness. In her relationship examples, she seamlessly includes same-sex relationships as well as heterosexual ones. She discusses several kinds of relationship formations as well, and not just the “usual” heterosexual, primary-secondary/hierarchical model.
On the not-so-perfect side, some people have found her section on advice about communication between men and women to be a bit “gender-essentialist,” and others find her advice in general to be somewhat “basic.” I myself think she has observed some true patterns over the years regarding communication between men and women, and has some good communication advice that isn’t limited to relationships between the gender binary, nor to any particular style of relating. I also find her advice to be grounded in reality, and a gentler introduction to the concepts than some of the books that came before.
Highly recommended for relationship explorers of any sort, and a must-have for any counseling professional who serves these communities.
By the way, did you know Kathy is releasing a new book in September? It’s the Jealousy Workbook, and it looks like another fabulous resource. I have a small part in it too, with one of my Tools for “Riding the Green Wave” published in the section called “Ask the Experts.” Hooray! The new book isn’t available yet, but you can pre-order it directly from Kathy.