Episode 4 – Polyam Pitfalls and Heffalump Traps

So, December’ episode, ‘The Pitfalls and Pleasures of Consensual Non Monogamy’ is out and, you know what, it’s mostly about the pitfalls.

‘Killjoys!’ you scream. Yeah, I know. I never see a party without wanting to reach for a bucket of cold water. I’m just a terrible hoooman.

But seriously, you don’t have to observe the polyam scene for very long before you realise that into almost every polyam social media group stumble those new to the idea all ‘yay, we’ve discovered this amazing thing and we’re after someone to join us in our love-puddle made for three’ and they’re stunned by the collective groan.

Dr Lori Beth Bisbey – coach, therapist, wise woman!

You get a flavour of that in this episode. Charlotte, Eunice and Morgan are all old hands in the London poly scene and they give a good account of the scepticism that newbies often encounter. Lori Beth, however, is determined to balance things out. After all some unicorns just want to be tracked down, tied up and brought home bound to a pole. Apparently.

A Eunice in her natural environment. Eunice’s first novel, The Brazen Altar, is published May 1st! https://passionatepantheon.com

But that’s not all – we discuss couples’ priviledge and touch on the skills people need to navigate CNM – not least a good sense of self and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. C’mon. Have a listen.

Episode 4 transcript

Zayna Ratty: Hello and Welcome to Beyond monogamy, the podcast that explores relationship opportunities outside the mainstream. I’m Zayna Ratty…, 

JonathanKent: …and I’m Jonathan Kent. Having started the series with an overview of some of the concepts you’ll encounter in consensual non monogamy, and having discussed the key issue of consent is time to gather some advice about how to go about it, and how not to. 

ZR: Joining us today are psychologist and writer on sex and relationships, Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, along with three London based party activists and community organisers Morgan Grey Charlotte Davis and Eunice Hung. Welcome to Beyond  Monogamy.

JK: Okay. If you’ve been listening to the first episode that we did, you will have heard that we explored some of the options available to people exploring, or hoping to explore consensual non monogamy. This time, we’re going to look at what it’s good to know before you set out. I want to ask each of you, in turn, what you think the most important thing is to bear in mind before you start exploring consensual non monogamy, and what you wish you’d known before you did. Lori Beth.

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey So I think what I wish I’d known I’m not sure because I started really young, so I guess what I wish I’d known was that this was an option. Because I felt really uncomfortable about the fact that I tended to love more than one person at a time, and it seemed strange and unusual so I wish I’d known that this was actually an option and there were lots of people who were doing this.

What I think is one of the most important things when you’re starting out is to have a good self-esteem and a reasonable amount of self-confidence because you’re dealing with a lot more emotions when you’re dealing with multiple relationships and higher possibilities for rejection and misunderstanding. So if your self esteem is good, you tend to navigate these better. 

JK: Morgan. 

Morgan Grey: For me it’s very much the Socrates quote, The unexamined life is not worth living. So you really have to know yourself and your responses to different situations. 

JK: Charlotte, any thoughts. 

Charlotte Davies: Yeah, I very much am gnōthi seauton (γνῶθι σεαυτόν): the better you know yourself, the better you can explain your communicate yourself to other people. And therefore, the better your relationships with other people will be. But also one of the other things I feel you really need to work out is your boundaries, which is another thing that comes from your self-knowledg;, the better you know yourself you better know where your boundaries are the better you know where your limits will be.

JK: And last but not least, Eunice.

Eunice Hung:  I mean, in addition to all the previous answers. Number one, we keep saying communicate, communicate, communicate, but that doesn’t actually tell people how to communicate. So work out how you communicate best, and be able to ask for that if it’s, you know, I need to talk to people face to face I need to communicate by text or however that works best for you. Be able to tell other people that. And also, and this is going to sound really super obvious, learn to think of other people as full autonomous  human beings.  I’m sorry I have to say that the society isn’t always great at teaching us how to tell other people that they are fully autonomous human beings.

ZR: Something that I picked up on something you said Lori Beth was around shame. Do you think this internal shame that some people carry with them, translates into low or no self esteem and then people find themselves thinking ‘but actually if I go into polyamory or consensual non monogamy, I can get some self esteem from others’. 

LBB: Yes, absolutely. I think there’s a lot of internal shame that people carry with them, just around sex and relationships in general, and I think when you have desires that fall outside the mainstream, you’re more likely to carry a bunch of shame with you because you’re not seeing it reflected around you, your desires reflected as acceptable around you, and a lo,. I think a lot of people do look to gain self-esteem from others, whether they’re doing that in monogamous relationships or polyamorous relationships so that’s extremely problematic because that’s not where self esteem is going to come from.

ZR: Do you think that this is something that people can can work upon or something that people should think about before entering or even thinking about CNM. 

LBB: Yes, absolutely. I think that people should i mean I’m going to echo everybody else in saying you need to know yourself, and go on, go on further and say you need to work on yourself, and actually take the time to explore and know yourself extremely well, and work on these issues, work on areas that you know you have problems. So if you have low self esteem. address that prior to entering into consensual non monogamy, because the outcome, when you don’t is far more painful and far more difficult not only for you but for the other people involved.

CD: I personally actually say it you should work on yourself before you go into any relationship. I have never found consensual non monogamy to contain more heartbreak more emotion or more difficulty than monogamous relationships. Personally I’ve always found it to contain fewer issues. Maybe it’s a problematic, quote, but to quote RuPaul if you can’t love yourself How in the hell are you going to love somebody else?  I think you really should be as a full complete whole and reasonably happy human being, before you try and have a close and intimate emotional relationship with another human. 

LBB: See I would agree with that but except for the fact that I see loads and loads of people who actually are coming into non monogamy without skills and without self-knowledge and without self-esteem who have more trouble with non monogamy than they did with monogamy. So I think if you’re together, in my experience, actually consensual non monogamy has less heartbreak. But if you’re not together, my experience and this is coming as as a therapist rather than it my own personal experience, my experience as a therapist is if you’re not together, it’s actually more difficult than monogamy.

EH:  I wonder how much of that is purely because there are things you don’t have to examine in monogamy, you can just base it on assumptions and never have to explore yourself.

LBB:  I would absolutely agree with that part of the reason why.

CD: And I think, I think possibly part of the reason. So, because I am as I mentioned, a lesbian cryptid. I do not get to settle into the nice happy assumed Petro mana normative structures of relationships. All of my relationships have always had to be negotiated. 

LBB: And personally, I’m in the same position all of my relationships have had to be negotiated, but a lot of the clients I see are not in that position, 

CD: no yeah if you yeah it can be a weird thing to have to negotiate how your relationships will have work if you’ve always had like that hetero-mononormative relationships, and it’s always just been assumed that the woman’s going to do most of the housework in the man’s going to fix the light fitting…  

JK: Morgan, a pirate’s perspective from you. 

Morgan Grey: I currently have that exact assumption going on with my complete stranger housemates, just that I am going to do all of the things. But what I wanted to say is that being open to to adjusting things as you go through the relationship, and having the ability to calibrate to the exact situation is also something that needs to be done. There are so many people who find specific methods, or they’re taught specific methods for getting through disagreements and things and then that’s the only thing that they can do going forwards. 

LBB: Oh, yes. Flexibility is what you’re talking about. And that’s an essential life skill that many, many people don’t have at all. And even when people go through therapy oftentimes they learn a couple of techniques in therapy, but they don’t learn how to be flexible, so they’re stuck with the techniques they’ve learned and and not able to explore other things. So, it is one of the downfalls of some of the structured therapy that people do go through is that frequently, you’re not working on those deeper issues.

ZR: Do you think this some of these common pitfalls that people can fall into for one of a better term when begin when they begin or they encounter or begin to find out about CNM. How in your, in your own life have you overcome those pitfalls? Morgan let’s let’s start with the captain’s perspective. 

MG: Well, it’s very difficult to really go over everything because there are so many pitfalls that exist that I wouldn’t have experienced. So for instance there’s, there’s the concept of fuzzy landmine. Whereas I typically date people who have done a lot of that introspection and can tell me upfront like, ‘hey, here are the problems that we might face’

ZR:?is that were kind of community comes in, do you think and actually finding and sharing with other people your experiences. 

09.50 MG: Oh, absolutely. All of the poly de organisational team, we make it very clear like we are teaching from a perspective of ‘ We have made mistake after mistake after mistake and we have learned from that and that we want to teach this to you so that you don’t also make the mistakes and end up one day, running a large community event’. 

EH: God don’t don’t. Oh my god the amount of effort.


JK: One thing I think I’d like to ask is, other bad reasons for wanting to be consensually non monogamous reasons that people typically start out. There are bad reasons for wanting to do anything. 

MG: Yes, I am going to just very quickly side-eye all of the unicorn hunters out there. 

CD: Okay, I’d also like to side-eye, every guy who goes into consensual non monogamy, with the idea that it’s just going to be endless threesomes with his missus, and some other very attractive woman, and all of the Harem hunters. 

EH All of the ‘hey me and my wife are polyamorous she just doesn’t know it yet.’

CD: Like, especially as someone who does community organisation, you do just you find these people who have terrible, terrible intentions. 

LBB So one of the bad reasons to do it though that I see a lot is trying to hold together the relationship. So there are a lot of people who they’ve run out of options. So this is the last option they’re going to try and do this and maybe it will save a relationship that’s become dull or unworkable. 

CD: Yes, as Eunice says relationship broken, add more people; can be consensual non monogamy can be having a baby.

JK: There was quite a lot in there, and Morgan you mentioned unicorn hunters, and this is a very common route that people take into consensual non monogamy. You need to explain perhaps for people who haven’t yet got very involved what unicorn hunting is, why it seems to be so common, why it goes wrong, and the reaction that people will typically get when they turn up in an event and saying, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’

MG: So, very standard definition unicorn hunting is usually when a couple who have an established relationship look, to open that up to other people, but they want the complete control over who comes in. They tend to go for what’s known as hot by babes, which people who are palatable to both partners. There is usually a one penis policy. It tends to be that the couple is looking for a woman to date, the couple as a unit rather than date the people independently. And if things start to go wrong if that couples starts, or continues to have issues between themselves, then it is the person coming into the relationship, who is seen as a threat, and gets let go. So obviously there’s the inherent power dynamics that are presented there. And it is seen as a very unethical setup to a lot of the poly community, 

LBBI am play devil’s advocate please?

MG always

LBB Because I used to love, to date couples absolutely adored it, but I’m also pretty self assured self confident, and I was really clear on my boundaries and stuff going in and was picky with couples that I dated also power dynamics are sometimes coveted. So I have our dynamic so for example I am in relationship with a couple at the moment. And I do have a relationship with the two of them. And there is a power dynamic but it’s stated. So I think we need to be clear that the problem with this is that it’s not stated, it’s not clear, it’s not negotiated.

CD: I’d like to point out though, probably because you said you’re picky with couples, you probably date couples who have at least thought about breaking down their couples privilege and having a relationship where both of them have a relationship with you as individuals. So, if you are like drawing a map out of the relationship, unicorn hunting is a T relationship the Unicorn does not have a relationship with both of the people in the couple. She has a relationship with the relationship of the couple, whereas it sounds like you’re picky enough that you have found people who have broken things down, even though they’re both dating you as a couple, they have thoughts about like you as a person and you are dating each of them, as a person rather than dating their couples dynamic. 

]LBB: Absolutely, it’s it’s all negotiated but I think that one of the problems that I see a lot and keeping, we should keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for a very very long time. I’m 57 years old. And one of the problems that I see is that there’s a lot of ‘this is wrong this is bad this is unethical but it’s not broken down. And so it just seems like a lot of dogma for people walking into community rather than actually breaking down what the problem is, why is this a problem. Like, for example, how many of the people listening to this are going to know what couples’ privilege is? 

JK: Indeed, and we need to break that down Eunice…

EH:  I think the thing to remember is that a lot of the people who are currently coming in and looking for, you know, the unicorn, their unicorn,n are actually really new so it’s not so much that they’re, you know, they may actually think, oh, we’re looking for a triad, but the way they’re going about it has a lot of that monogamous mindset because they haven’t learned yet to break down those notions of what they’re looking for, how they can approach it, the sorts of power dynamics, you know, as Lori Beth  said, it’s all unspoken purely because they’ve never had to think about it before, and I think a big part of the problem that many people have with unicorn hunters, is that they are associated, sometimes, with these people who are new, because you see more of the new people because they’re excited and they’re enthusiastic and they’re going out there, and so it gets associated with this lack of knowledge and lack of having worked on it and therefore, it becomes unethical purely because of their inability to really be self aware about it yet. 

ZR: Yeah, absolutely. I think that we have to be extremely careful not to over pathologize anybody’s behaviour when we don’t actually know them, and we don’t know the intent. And neither do we know their level of knowledge. 

LBB we also need to describe why we would say it was unethical because me people listening aren’t going to know, they’re not going to get it. And it ends up feeling and I’ve had new people complain to me about this, and I end up sitting there explaining why people are getting upset about their behaviour, and and that there are differences of opinion as well as to what’s ethical behaviour in polyamory and what’s unethical. Most people would say lying and cheating is unethical. That’s one that most people agree on, not breaking down couple privilege, well you know there’s a lot of people who probably wouldn’t agree that that’s unethical.

JK: It comes down, ultimately surely to consent. And that’s the starting point for everything. So, we should I think explain couples privilege, briefly, Lori Beth, how do you understand that.

LBB: My understanding is that we look at couples as having privilege because they belong standing relationship, and they are acting from their dynamic without negotiating the power with the individua,l so they don’t necessarily look at the person that they’re trying to date if they’re dating one person as an individual whole person who has a right to all levels of relationship. And they keep certain things to themselves, for example nesting might be one of the things that they keep to themselves. They assume the other person is there for them without really necessarily deeply looking into the other person’s needs, desires, wants boundaries. 

EH: I think one thing to remember here is that there’s also a difference between that couple privilege within a specific relationship; you know as attached to a relationship that a couple has, and also the societal couple privilege where society sees you as being, I don’t know what the best word here to use is, but ‘better’ in air quotes.

If you are in a couple. And they therefore give more privilege and more rights to people if they are coupled up if they are seen to be coupled up and I think those are two separate things that sometimes people just lump into one whole, without actually acknowledging that they are two separate, one being systematic and institutional and the other being individual

19.30 CD Yes society definitely privileges couples, especially if they’re heterosexual, especially if they’re married and especially if they are raising children, because that is how a society do. I do also think that couples privilege as part of your intra- relationship couples privilege, rather than your extra-relationship coupled privilege couples privilege I think it’s also a matter of opening yourself up, emotionally. A lot of the people who I see who participate in unicorn hunting, pretty much the wish to treat the unicorn, as some unit so colourfully described them, their bang nanny. Basically they want someone to spice up their sex life and help them with the kids, but not to make any emotional demands on them and not to want anything.

EH: I should like to point out I didn’t come up with that term, I’m not taking credit for that term I didn’t come up with it so I should point that out.

LBB: For me, one of the things that comes up is that, I think that is not something that’s communicated by talking about couples privilege. I actually don’t like when we start adding privileges to things because they have systemic definitions versus inter relationship definitions and I think we make it more difficult for people coming in to understand what people are upset about. I also see a lot of people who go blank anytime someone raises social issues. And whereas… how you’ve just described it is so perfect. One of the biggest problems is you’re not opening yourself up emotionally to a relationship with this person. So what you’re saying is, you’re treating the other, the unicorn, as an object. Mm hmm. 

CD: Yeah, a lot of it does seem to be objectification. And I know you have people that go completely blank when you go into social issues but I feel like a lot of it also plays into sort of bi-phobia and the sexualization of bisexual women and the idea that, you know, no bisexual woman could ever be an emotional counterpart for people, they’re just, they’re just there for sex.

LBB: But I think that’s really important to spell out, that’s what I’m saying. So rather than talking about couples’ privilege, I would not even use couples’  privilege, I would say okay one of the problems with these relationships is and spell it out just like you did, because that’s what people need to hear. They need to understand that what we’re talking about is these are not just physical relationships, unless that’s what’s negotiated. These are emotional relationships. And if you are seeing somebody as simply a sexual object and you haven’t negotiated that with them, then that’s unacceptable. 

EH: But I would include also the people that say, oh, we’re looking for a relationship, a full emotional relationship with our unicorn with our third. And I’m not entirely sure that they’ve necessarily thought about what it means that they’re talking about, it’s not just sexual.

LBB: But isn’t that unfair, I mean there are people who look for triads all over the place. And there are loads of successful triads so just because somebody uses the term unicorn, do we assume that they can’t possibly negotiate a triad?

EH. Oh, I’m fine with triads. Looking for a triad isn’t the issue I think it’s how they go about it sometimes that I have issues with. 

CD: Yes, it’s. I was gonna say as someone who is in a triad, apparently. However, It’s triads are not the problem. It’s the way in which you do them. As with all, almost all issues of ethics, it is not so much, your actual action, it’s your means that… it’s not the end it’s the means that is the issue. If that makes sense.

Like, we can all agree that reducing world hunger is a good thing, but if you do that by murdering all the starving people we can all agree that that’s a bad thing, though, that by providing food to the starving people that’s a good way of doing it. And I feel like that’s kind of the issue is, we’re not saying that triads are bad we’re just saying that there are better ways of going about triads than trying to just assimilate this poor person into your relationship without considering them as a whole human being, and giving them options and offering them anything. 

ZR: Do you think that for some people, that’s exactly what they’re offering?

LBB: Yes, I do. I mean I think that the problem with this is that each situation is different so where I tend to try and teach is to get people to really think about their needs and wants and to learn how to express them and to talk about consent, and what that means in relationship to something like this because some of the times, that’s all people are offering. And… if we talk about these things in terms of ‘this thing is bad’ and ‘these are the people we want to avoid’  what we do is we stifle people. So, they stop looking for what they actually desire. I mean, I think we need to consider the fact that in some cases, sometimes people are just looking for someone to spice up their relationship, and the individual is happy just spicing up someone else’s relationship and aren’t actually interested in being part of a full emotional relationship. 

JK: Okay, so if I’m going to summarise; what we’re talking about here are people entering consensual non monogamy as a couple, perhaps not particularly experienced in this, who haven’t necessarily examined their relationship, and how interacting with a third as a couple works and what the possible ramifications are. And that can work beautifully. If it’s what everybody wants everybody has fully informed enthusiastic consent, but it can go wrong. 

What I think I’d like to explore now is what you would say to somebody who is single and looking at consensual non monogamy. What should they bear in min?. What’s the wrong reason for them. Perhaps if I mean they have maybe a multitude of reasons, what a good reasons, and what a less good reasons.?

LBB: So in the BDSM community, often one sees somebody looking for a main relationship via the vehicle of polyamory because they feel that there aren’t enough of the type of person, enough dominant people around, who are available and single, and that can happen that would be a wrong reason for looking at polyamory.

I’m a firm believer that you should individually decide whether polyamory is for you. And the only reason to be looking at polyamory is because it’s what you want, rather than for other reasons. 

MG: I would absolutely agree. And I would add that looking at polyamory as just like a wealth of people to date because you’re lonely, or you’re not comfortable in and of yourself, would also be just, just a terrible idea. 

EH: And I will point out that some people go into polyamory because they genuinely think it might work for them, and that later turns out to be wrong for them. It just isn’t something that suits them. And that’s okay too, like going in because you’re not sure yet and because you want to explore it’s fine, just as long as you don’t, you know, break a multitude of hearts on the way. It would be nice to avoid that if you can.

LBB: Absolutely. 

CD: There is nothing wrong with trying olives and deciding you hate them. 

MG: Yeah, like, on the flip side of all of the stuff about why you shouldn’t, like all of the things that are taught in the poly community about communication styles and how to interact with your partners, all of that is still relevant to monogamy. So, even if you come in  and you try it out for a bit and decide it’s not for you, you still then have all of these additional skills to go away and be like ‘hey I am now better off for this life experience’. 

LBB: Oh, absolutely. And in fact, if you take the skills into monogamous relationships you have a far better monogamous relationship so I would completely agree with that. 

EH: Yeah, even if you learn just about your boundaries. 

LBB: Uh huh.

CD: There are no Poly-specific problems there are only problems that you will have in anything in your life and if you have more than one relationship with anyone unless you are only going to have one friend ever or one partner, ever, and no friends, then you’re going to have to learn to communicate with multiple people and deal with multiple people’s expectations, and polyamory will give you plenty of skills to help with that. 

MG: The way I started thinking about it was that, you know the rule of 10,000 hours to become a master… when you’re, when you’re dating, multiple people all at once, you’re just you’re just really zooming through your learning.

EH: You’re grinding the skill levels. 

ZR: Do you think that there are many other transferable skill sets between CNM and monogamy?

LBB: I think there are tons. So we’ve already mentioned boundaries we’ve mentioned communication conflict resolution expression of desire, 

EH: Scheduling? Scheduling is a really helpful one.

LBB: Oh my god yeah balancing, balancing! 

MG: Calendar management.

EH: We are not supported by Google calendars but… 

LBB: Time management, and the ability to actually sit down and figure out how to prioritise, that’s another one prioritisation. Extending empathy further.

MG: I’ve described polyamory as being ‘project management, the lifestyle’ for the past couple years. 

CD: Yeah, I have to say as someone who is an administrative professional I also have a lot of transferable skills into my professional life of, you know, having to deal with multiple people and multiple people’s expectations and multiple people wanting my time right now because I work with architects and they are very important and they cannot wait In polyamory, you get a lot of transferable skills. 

29.57 LBB: No they transfer everywhere. I mean they’re life skills, it’s just it’s just that, I think, because many people who are monogamous, and I am not one so I should say that, but many people who are monogamous, I always describe it as they take the relationship box off the shelf, with all the expectations, and all the steps that society says, and they don’t examine any of it so they don’t necessarily learn these life skills because they’re just taking it as it is and it’s all unspoken. Whereas in polyamory or, for that matter, and any gender, sexuality relationship, diversity, you are having to examine and create a relationship for yourself, then you actually examine all these things, therefore you use all these life skills. 

CD: Yeah, I think there is definitely one, if there was one thing that I ever wanted to really impart to the monogamous community as a whole, it would be the ability to negotiate your relationship, and also the ability to step off of the relationship escalator. Because I see so many people who commit to the relationship escalator and then ruin everything.

Basically, because they feel completely abandoned the moment that they don’t want to move in together or they don’t want to have children together or they don’t want to get married or 

LBB: well they don’t they don’t see other options, no options are not presented. 

CD: That’s my gift to the monogamous community more options more negotiation. Have yourself a bespoke relationship don’t have an off-the-peg.

EH: Customization.

MG: When, even when we’re talking about non monogamy, and the like. The representations of it in the media… 

CD: Oh yeah… 

MG: very, very quick tangent, there’s ‘You Me Her’, where it’s just, yeah, 

EH: Like the sounds of people….

MG: Eunice and  I got through about 20 minutes of it before going.’ Yeah, no, I hate this I hate everything about this….’

ZR: Do you think that given some of the issues that we’ve talked about can be slightly problematic and the use of terminology, etc. where do you think is a good place to start?

EH: Reading, research, research would be lovely. Listen to a good podcast on it – hint hint.

LBB: Yeah, listen to a good podcast read some good books, talk to a lot of people and talk to people from different stages of life, talk to people from different backgrounds. Don’t just take what’s in the popular media. 

EH: And one of the most mind blowing things is talking to poly people, consensually non monogamous people from other countries and other societies. Oh my goodness it’s very different in different poly communities. 

CD: Oh you know the American poly community, like, it’s full of heterosexuals. Where are they getting all the heterosexuals from? I don’t know.

LBB:  Look, there are lots of heterosexual poly people in America, but there are also lots of non heterosexual people poly people in America, and it isn’t one community.

EH: For context, I should probably point out that the London polyamory scene which is where Charlotte and Morgan and I are all coming, from tends to be very, unusually, queer-friendly. So we’re seeing it through that lens which is definitely not accurate for every polyam community, and it’s a very small country the UK, in general, so our communities tend to blur a bit so we’re, we’re approaching from that side and that’s, you know, so that’s unusual.

LBB: There are plenty of queer, I mean I’m obviously in the UK, but there are plenty of queer Americans because I still keep in touch with with my people. There are plenty of queer American poly people, but there are… communities are divided in the US by culture, often by area, and by race. So, depending on which community you look into is what you’re going to find in terms of heterosexuality. So, for example if you look into various parts of the PoC community are very queer friendly and other parts are very heterosexual. 

MG: in terms of how to get started, a lot of the literature and everything online is done from a very intellectual standpoint. I think that if you, you know, join different social medias and things and done all that the best point to get started is literally, find out if there is a local polyamorous event, and just go along sit down, have a drink, and get to know the people around you who practice. 

JK: Okay, let’s wrap up. Before we go, I’d like each of you to suggest three things that you would like people, perhaps thinking of exploring consensual non monogamy, to bear in mind; your three top tips, and we’ll do it in Charlotte, Morgan, Lori Beth and Eunice, in that order. Charlotte. 

CD: I will share with you my guidelines for polyamory, which are one, communication, communication, communication. Work out what you are communicating, work out what methods of communication work best for you. They do not have to be verbal. You can write them down you can write each other letters you can text each other, especially for very emotional conversations it is frequently better to have it in a written format, particularly if for example, one of you is autistic and can’t read people’s faces and has to stop in the middle of a conversation to go ‘What is your face mean’.

JK: I think we need to mention a Charlotte the you, you are diagnosed as autistic so you’re speaking very much from personal experience. 

CD: Yes, ye.,Tthen my second one is, don’t be a dick. Now this is not just a passive like don’t actively be a dick with people, this is an active. Know yourself know who you are and try as much as possible cannot hurt other people with who you are trying to deal with your own things, and community, and going back to the first point, communicating with people how best to help you with this. And then my third one is don’t drive too much car for you. If there is someone who you think will mess you up, someone who you think is too much for you don’t date them don’t have sex with them, just have them as a friend, maybe have them as what’s called a comet which is someone who’s really awesome but not in your life very much they’re sort of swinging through occasionally like Halley Bopp only hopefully a bit more frequently than once every 79 years. So yeah, that’s my three guidelines for polyamory 

JK: Morgan. Morgan, what would you prioritise? 

MG: So the first thing I would say is, don’t try to force your relationship into a specific structure. Like, you can see things on the internet about how triads work for instance, that will not work for you, for whatever reason, it might be that, that there is a specific type of communication, or they all have a specific love language, and you need to customise that to you and your relationships.

Secondly, it’s going to suck sometimes. Whatever happens, you are going to feel bad, from time to time. You’re only human and you’re probably going to feel jealousy or envy, etc, etc, etc. Obviously know the difference between jealousy and envy and how it represents in yourself, but also give yourself permission to feel those things, because if you just keep suppressing it, you’re never going to talk about it. And if you don’t talk about it, it will fester, and it will be a negative impact on both you and your relationships. Last thing, proper sexual health. Use protection. And then there was something on Twitter about Nutella and bananas, and I’m like, okay, yeah. People need to actively research proper sexual health education. 

JK: We’ve veered into cookery all of a sudden. Lori Beth…

LBB: Do your work and get to know yourself learn about your own boundaries learn about your desires, be comfortable with who you are and learn how to communicate these.

Number two. Take your time. There’s no rush. There’s no reason to start seven relationships at once. Take some time. And, and get to know the people that you want to be involved with. And I guess the third for me is because everybody said some of the really good ones like sexual health, and don’t be a dick which I think is really important, is to be gentle with yourself and with others. Give yourself a break, you’re not going to be perfect. Neither are other people. And be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt be willing to think positively, take a deep breath and take some time before reacting in situations that you find difficult. 

JK: Eunice: I figured by the time it got to me everyone would have mentioned the really good thing so I’m just going to say, number one, learn how to take feedback well, because honestly we all do things wrong, and sometimes the people around us can see better when there are things that we could improve on. 

Number two, you are going to feel big emotions the big feels are going to come sometimes, learn to be able to sit with that sit in the moment and understand how that feels, understand how you’re physically reacting and then let it move through you. You don’t have to react to every single emotion, and you don’t have to always react to those emotions in exactly the same way every time. 

And thirdly, if you have disputes, I mean, you will have disputes in your relationships because we all have disputes in our relationships, approach, every dispute in good faith that the person that you are talking to is… maybe there’s a misunderstanding or miscommunication. They are not deliberately intending to hurt you. If you are intending to hurt them, or if you believe that they are intending to hurt you then there is something fundamentally already problematic with that relationship, and it’s going to take a lot more work, it’s going to take far more than one discussion to resolve that issue. So if you can then approach your dispute in good faith that they are also trying to resolve an issue with you and trying to work with you.

JK: That’s wonderful. Eunice. Lori Beth, Morgan, Charlotte, thank you very much for joining Zayna and me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. 

MG: Thank you for having us on.

JK: And that’s all for this edition. Tune in for new episodes every month. And the next one, we’ll be looking at a particular style of polyamory.

ZR: Eunice we’ll be back with us to talk about solo polyam, as well Kelly, he’ll be joining us from Seattle, United States.

JK: In the meantime, if you’d like the programme, please leave us a review on whichever platform you listen to and if you’d like to support us. Is it the beyond monogamy website. That’s www.beyond monogamy.world, and treatise to a coffee courtesy Patreon

intro and outro music by VJ Memes via CCMixter. Beyond Monogamy is a Chris P. Duck production. Catch you next time.

It’s a hole – Look! Right there! Don’t fall in! “Hole in the ground” by onecog2many is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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