Sigh. Insecurity. Why do we have to deal with these things? No one likes feeling insecure. We feel insecure for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s low self-esteem; we assume people will treat us poorly. Sometimes it’s experience; people have treated us poorly. Sometimes it’s being fearful for the future; again things in our past can lead us not to assume the foundations on which we’ve built our life are solid.
For people who are consensually non monogamous, whether that’s being monogamish or in an open relationship, whether you swing or you’re polyamorous, it opens up another source of insecurity. Your partner or partners will probably be dating other people. For many of us that’s a moment when we start to question our own worth or compare ourselves to others. It’s a perfectly natural thing to do but it’s not necessarily helpful.
And it works the other way too. When we date someone new our established partners may worry that we’ve found someone more interesting or more attractive than them.
But don’t worry – even the best of us wrestle with this stuff. That’s why we asked the very talented (and very sexy) Jamie in Singapore and the equally talented (and sexy) Kevin Patterson (yup, the author of Love’s Not Colour Blind!!) in Philadelphia in the US to join us for the show.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers but it’s always good to hear other people wrestling with the same stuff that you do.
Transcript: episode 6
Jonathan Kent: Zayna this month, we’re talking about insecurity.
Zayna Ratty: We absolutely are, and everyone can experience insecurity from time to time. Insecurity can come from limitless sources, and both internal and external factors, all have a part to play in whether you feel secure or insecure.
JK: Well, I think it’s a subject that touches on everyone. Let’s do it.
ZR: Let’s do it.
Hello and Welcome to Beyond monogamy the podcast that explores relationship options outside the mainstream. I’m Zayna Ratty.
JK: And I’m Jonathan Kent. In this episode we’re talking about insecurity, something I never feel ever honest.
ZR: Oh, me neither. I am the most totally secure person you’ll ever meet. But being serious and more importantly, completely honest, just for a moment, insecurity can strike pretty much anyone. So where does insecurity stem from, how do we deal with it, and how do we help others dealing with it.
JK: We’re joined on the line from Philadelphia in the United States by Kevin Patterson. Kevin is an educator, and the author of among other things Love’s not Color Blind, one of the essential texts for consensual non monogamy. And, I would say, for all sorts of relationships. Welcome.
Kevin Patterson: Hey, thank you, thank you so much for having me on.
ZR: And I’m guessing like me and Jonathan you never feel insecure either Kevin
KP: (chuckling) Not once in my entire life.
JK: Wonderful. You’re a nice kind of rounded secure human being, just like me and Zayna well. To start off the discussion let’s talk with somebody who definitely has wrestled with their insecurities, and that’s Jamie. She’s a 20 something working in the arts in Singapore. And she’s had to deal with feelings of insecurity in the past and I spoke to her recently and I started by asking her how her feelings of insecurity manifested themselves.
Jamie: One of the sort of most obvious way is the desire to want to check my partner’s messages. So I’ll be very interested to see who he’s messaging, what’s he saying, all without his permission, of course, and clearly that’s not a very good start to any sort of relationship.
JK: So, there is a trust issue there for you. But is that a specific to a particular partner or is it generic is it just something that you feel in any relationship in which you’re invested.
Jamie: I think it was very specific to that particular partner, only because I felt incredibly insecure with him for a start. And that sort of manifested to a lot of irrational thoughts a lot of anxiety. And at the end of it is sort of culminates into this, you know desire to really want to find out what is he talking about, is he, you know cheating on me emotionally, and all of that sort of stuff.
JK: This was essentially a non-monogamous relationship though.
Jamie: This started out as in sort of open relationship or you would call it a one penis policy relationship which later evolved into a non-monogamous relationship. Yes.
JK: You now have a different partner. Do you experience the same feelings with your current partner.
Jamie: Absolutely not, just because the way we negotiate and the sort of the way that we communicate is just very different. To be honest, a couple of maybe a couple of weeks ago I actually had that same desire to sort of read his messages. Just because I was feeling very insecure but I stopped myself and, actually, we actually sat down and talked about it. And that’s just, you know, it helped me, reassured me that, you know, whatever that was going on was just purely in my head, and nothing to do with the current reality.
JK: Was there any difference in terms of the behaviour of these two people with one behaving in a way that exacerbated, your insecurity.
Jamie: Well, with my previous partner, I’ll give you an example. He had someone messaging him in the middle of the night, like you know 2am sort of thing, under the name of David. And, you know, sometimes when you’re in bed, you sort of kind of glance over your partner’s phone. And I saw that David’s profile picture was a lady wearing a bikini. So, I asked him, you know, why is David messaging you at 2am, and he said something like, Oh, it’s for a company or work thing and I’m but yes but there’s no David in your company, and the lies started to crumble because then he said oh this is David’s wife and his profile picture. And you can see the colours on his face changing and I knew straight away he was lying. So, that started off on quite a bad foot. And that made things worse. Whereas for my current partner he gave me absolutely no reason to doubt him. He is very clear that whatever I want to know, he will tell me, and we will have those conversations, no matter how difficult it is so there was a lot of reassurance on his part.
JK; Is there a sense that insecurity can arise in the gap between what you hear and what your instincts tell you.
Jamie: Absolutely. I think there was a saying that I came across something along the lines of nothing is sharper than a jealous women’s eye, and I thought I kind of resonated with that same, just because I’ve been through all of those emotions. And I know when someone is sort of lying to me I have sort of a sense about it. And that just makes things worse if the lie sort of persists and continues. So yes, absolutely.
JK: Now a couple of weeks ago or so, when you were experiencing this that led you to write down what you were feeling. What did you write down.
Jamie: So I wrote down, you know, things that were incredibly personal that I basically I have not articulated, even to my ex-partner and I wrote this down and I said this to my current partner. So things like I fear being abandoned. I’m afraid of being replaced. I worry that one day I’ll get kicked out or, you know, things along those lines. And it was just a sigh of relief after I said those things to him. And he was very proud of me for articulating those thoughts, and he said, You know, I’m so glad you told me this, now we can actually have a discussion and clearly a lot of the stuff was in my head that I make this worse. And for the very first time I actually sort of let go of those fears and those insecurity and trust that my partner will have this rational conversation with me without pushing me back. And I’m incredibly grateful for that.
JK: And this is where the root of your insecurity lies, you feel in the sense that you could be abandoned. You could be set aside, you could be replaced
Jamie: the root of my insecurity comes from being abandoned or, you know, being replaced. I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere, or, you know, I’ve always had a strong desire to belong to someone. And this has always you know come up in my relationships that I’m going to be abandoned and eventually, I get abandoned by multiple partners that just consistently broke my heart one after another. This is a repeating pattern from my childhood. And recently, I listened to this wonderful woman called Renee Brown, who spoke about a quote from Maya Angelou. And she says, You’re only free when you realise you belong no place you belong every place no place at all. The price is high, and the reward is great. And I really resonated with this because for the first time it’s like I was given permission to not have to belong to someone, but to belong to myself. And it’s hard, you know the price is high, it’s hard because you have to be vulnerable. You have to have that courage in order to let go of your insecurities and with that sort of reading what I fear to my current partner I think that’s one of the way that I dealt with my insecurities,
JK: let’s just quickly go back to your childhood I mean what happened in your childhood, possibly that left you feeling vulnerable to abandonment.
Jamie: Dad was never there, all of the usual sort of daddy issues. He was never there for the family always away, always distant. So there’s that.
JK: So there is a sense from your experience and I’m sure this will feel true for a lot of other people that that these things, imprint on us when we’re quite young, and it’s beyond our control and we’re left, seeing life through a filter which is very much colouredby….
Jamie:you’re shaped by your experience as well. And this very first experience of my father having abandoned me. And then afterwards consistently being abandoned by partner after partner you know you’re left kind of wondering is there something wrong with you, and that sort of insecurity builds. It’s not a nice feeling at all, feeling this insecure and vulnerable.
JK: So what advice would you have to anybody who is dealing with insecurity?
Jamie: I would say don’t keep it to yourself, because that’s what happens a lot of time when you’re feeling insecure but you keep it to yourself, just because you’re afraid of having your partner reject you, or you’re afraid of, you know, being pushed away. With vulnerability comes courage or with courage comes vulnerability these two go hand in hand. If it’s really difficult to speak to your partner about it. I would suggest write it on a piece of paper sit down with your partner and talk to him or her about it. And if he or she does reject you know that you have been incredibly brave, just doing that as an act alone and you should be incredibly proud of yourself. And if they do reject you, then they’re probably not the right person for you in the first place.
JK: That’s Jamie they’re talking to me from Singapore. Zayna…
Zayna: Wow, it’s so easy how we can fall into that fearful cycle, particularly when it’s laced with historical trauma and you know when transparency and honesty, aren’t there in relationships, no matter what type of relationship, you’ve got, then assumption, and insecurity will grow, and fill that space. And, you know, I think it’s amazing that they’ve been able to sit down and to to be open and honest and transparent, and to move away from that experience that even listening to it was. Yeah, that was a bit difficult for me. So let’s think kind of chicken and egg for them and I’m wondering, which came first, it seems and sounds like that there was insecurity there. And initially. And that has been brought to the surface by having a CNM relationship and so I suppose… Let’s dial it back and think about where do we, and how can we define what we’re talking about when we’re talking about insecurity.
JK: Kevin, I mean one of the reasons I thought of you to talk about this was, I suspect, and we don’t know each other well, but we’ve chatted, and I watch your, your videos, and you do not come across as the kind of guy who would suffer from self-doubt, or insecurities, you seem very confident, you’ve seen self-assured self-possessed archetypal masculine, kind of guy. And, you know, Zane and I were chatting and Xena follows you on Facebook, but you share stuff, you know, you go through the mill and you share stuff.
Kevin Patterson:Yeah, I mean I, I hide it really well. My insecurity my imposter syndrome is really high key. But I hide it really well, and like, even in some of the wording you just used, we said like archetypal masculine… In America specifically masculinity is so frequently, a mask for insecurity. Like, we, we, we put it on we put it on so over the top we always try to be the toughest and the biggest and the baddest and the bravest, and we put that on so over the top just to hide how so many of us, myself included are just sort of scared little boys. There’s a commercial that I remember seeing on television, it was like a couple of mechanics and one of them was like eating a candy bar, and his fellow mechanic was so overcome with with with with such a sweet tooth that he starts eating the candy bar from the opposite end to the point where the two men, meet in the middle and share in an unexpected kiss. And then they have to like break out into a fight in in quotes ‘Do something manly’ so that people are so people know how not gay or you know how tough that they are. Despite this, you know this this unwillingly display. I feel like I do a pretty good, pretty good job hiding it but like, it’s not always the easiest thing, you know, like I’m always trying to put out good content I’m always trying to be, you know, the hero of my own story I’m always trying to be valuable to myself and to my family, my, my wife and my kids to my partners because like I don’t want them to I don’t want them to see how scared of losing it all I really am, you know.
ZR: Wow, thank you for sharing that. Kevin and one of the things that I do a lot with clients is about talking around what we see and what we interpret strength being. And how there is so much more strength and depth of strength in the ability to be vulnerable, as opposed to you know when you’re saying we put this kind of mask on. And, yeah, absolutely. I get it too in in that I have just taken on a new position, and you know I was kind of described as straightforward and outspoken and all of these words that people would necessarily associate somebody being really strong with. And, yeah, Kevin, like you, but you know my imposter syndrome sits so heavily on my shoulder, all of the time. And it’s taken me years to be able to open up and that’s come from being a therapist for for nearly 10 years now as well of, sometimes you do have to just go here is my here’s my soft underbelly. We joke about the armadillo or, or the hedgehog, and it’s that underbelly that quite often in places where we don’t feel comfortable and there’s more places where PoCs don’t feel comfortable. I’m going to put that out there. And, you know, we will go into somewhere we will risk assess ‘Is this safe?’ and if it isn’t we’re going to curl up. And if we open our mouth to speak and to speak from our heart. We then end up being. Getting the tropes. You know, you’re, you’re the shouty black person. Yeah, cuz that’s a new one on me, or, you know, so what we do is we try and walk this line of being yes we’re confident and we’re comfortable with ourselves and we’re giving it 110% all the time. And actually, we’re not there are parts of ourselves where we are still are in a child where we are still fraught with insecurities and thinking of adverts, there’s one in the UK for a very famous sweet brand, or candy brand that come in bags begins with a haitch. And, and it’s two people sat in a car and it’s two beers is usually two blokes right so it’s two male identified people sat in the car, looking fairly masculine in presentation, and they they’re fighting over eating the sweets and when they’re talking they talk with the child’s voice. And so often when we have this insecurity, it is that inner child is the child that needs to be told something that trauma needs to be felt and needs to be heard and quite often when we are suppressing it and repressing it and not letting out. We’re not going near what I call the hurty box. So, you know, if that stuff and we’ll put it all in that box and we’ll leave it there and we won’t go near it, but that doesn’t mean that it goes away. It stays there and sometimes we trip over that box. Maybe 20, 30, 40 years later, and then we have to hopefully go to a therapist and address what’s in that box, because we don’t have an emotional plug hole. What goes in stays in if we don’t metabolise it. And when we’re talking about the kind of the blockages and the obstacles to security, and to personal security past criticisms, come back up all of the time. And, you know, there are places that we all feel insecure in, and knowing that we are safe in that space to be able to communicate and articulate that and know that there are people there who will hold our hands. And that will stand beside us. And behind us and encourage us to move forward and away from insecurity and into personal security into. Into our authentic selves, and away from that adaptive person which we quite often will present to the outside world.
JK: I mean I have to say listening to you both. And I’m not dodging talking about my own insecurity here But listen, listening to you both wondering Is that Is there an element to which insecurity has an intersectional dimension that its society, layers things on you. You know, if you’re if you’re queer, if you’re a person of colour if you’re a woman if you’re disabled. Everybody has their insecurities To start off with, but their hands that we can typically all get everybody has families everybody has the risk of absence of parents everybody has the risk of abuse from those families. But if you’re from a you know a range of backgrounds, you have additional layers of potential for insecurity that you could be facing as well?
ZR: Is that intersectional prism. In the interview like to think it’s just two ways and it’s not, we’re we’re looking from different ways whether that is sex, gender relationship diversity race, ethnicity, socio-economic factors. There are lots of things that can cause us to feel insecure about ourselves.
(20.00) KP: It’s such an underlying factor it’s, it’s just always there. Recently, and like I’m not going to get into names, because like I don’t want to take away from what we’re doing here, but like recently, I got mischaracterized by a famous white polyamory author, he had said some things about me that were like, very easily false. And I made a whole video responding to it. And the reason I haven’t released it is because I don’t want to be seen as the angry black guy, you know, thankfully, I don’t think this is somebody that anyone is really listening to anymore. Otherwise, like, I’m like, you know, I got. I’ve got to take this measured approach that I don’t want to take, you know, I’ve got this insecurity about being missed mischaracterize being misunderstood that instead of saying all the things I want to say, I’m just gonna let it go because I don’t want to put myself in that place, and like, if I was a white guy, and this was the same situation, I would have already said all the things I wanted to say about, you know, I would have named names I would uh you know, all the things. But just where we are, like, where I am in American culture of being a black guy in America. I’ve got a way, I’ve got to do all this math in my head on what my response can or can’t be.
JK: I mean we’re focusing on insecurity primarily in relationships and that the way that relates to consensual non monogamy, but I think you both made the point, very well, that, as well as the kind of ins and outs that we have to deal with about relationships that you can be dealing with a lot of pressures in other aspects of your life, which just add to those feelings.
KP: Yeah, absolutely. As far as relationships go like I’m actually just coming out of like a huge bout of insecurity, recently, I had a really bad stretch and in terms of a relationship back in the end of 2017, like most of 2017, I had like this really bad stretch where a relationship that I had loved and valued greatly went really South really fast in ways that I didn’t understand. And in the aftermath of that I started dating somebody whose natural inclinations were exactly the things I would have needed out of a partner to have preserved that relationship that went south, like basically everything this new partner was with everything that that other partner needed to be if we were going to salvage what we had. And so, I fell really far into it really far into it and this person became like the very centre of my emotional life. And then this year someone else became the very centre of their emotional life. And it wasn’t anything that anyone had done wrong, you know, this partner of mine was making all the right choices for themselves, they were doing all the things that made sense to them in the situations that were presented to them. And it pushed me a little bit to the side. And I got really in my feelings about that you know like Was I being replaced. No, but it felt that way. You know, was I Was I being pushed off to the side. Not really, but it felt that way. And I had this like, I just had to dwell well into my feelings in order to have conversations with this partner about where I was like I had to make sure that I was able to have a conversation about where my head was at without making it sound accusatory, because there was nothing to accuse. No one had done anything wrong, you know. Polyamory is fantastic for having a lot of extra love and a lot of extra support around, but like, we’re still people and we’re still going to have the same insecurities, we’re still gonna have the same failings as humans in relationships, whether we’re monogamous or not, you know,
ZR: when you’re talking Kevin now I was thinking about having the security to know that you can walk away as well.
ZR: hat you don’t, you know, this is, this is my last chance of a relationship or, and actually putting yourself first and knowing that. Okay, that’s the situation that didn’t work out. And that’s okay too because there will be lessons to learn from that and growth taken from that. And sometimes you find that people won’t leave relationships they shouldn’t be in because they don’t feel secure enough in themselves to go forward.
JK: Let’s dial things back a little bit and talk about what we think insecurity, is how we might define it because it often gets mixed up. People talk a lot about jealousy in consensually non monogamous relationships and that’s often used as a bit of an umbrella. When people are reaching to describe a whole feeling which is often made up of a lot of different feelings happening at the same time. For me insecurity my triggers are things like Jamie was saying about fear of abandonment, feeling somehow less worthy and so on. It’s not feeling, perhaps that my future is going to look like I want my future to look. I mean Buddhism teaches people to live in the now, and not in the future or the past. And I suppose, because it causes pain and one of the ways that manifests is you have dreams of the future. So when something happens to threaten those dreams, your emotional support, the holiday you’re going to take the house you’re going to buy the children, you’re going to have you think, oh my god that’s all going to get ripped away your security is taken with it. Kevin, put up put a ring around the insecurities, as opposed to other things like envy or anger or fear or anxiety or what have you.
KP: I think a lot of it has to do with where you’re putting the weakness. Like for me like I feel like, like envy or jealousy that, that’s all something that somebody else is doing like I’m looking away from myself and seeing something that I want, seeing something that I wish I had, what have you versus… I see a weakness within myself that’s preventing me from from getting what I want, or for, you know, preventing me from from living like as you said living in the now or being happy with what it is that I have. Like I’d mentioned my, my imposter syndrome. Like, I’m not a sex educator, but I’m in a field surrounded by sex educators, you know, and there’s a lot of back and forth between, you know, who has an education in sex ed. versus, who is, you know, who has like expertise based in experience or working in, you know, in educational spaces in adult shops and things like that. Meanwhile, I don’t have any of that, you know. Like I’ve got, I’ve got a background in education but not sex education, I’ve got a, you know, I don’t have any experience working in any particular shop. It’s just that I talk about relationships I talk about polyamory essentially I’m just talking about myself an awful lot. And I find myself in these spaces with people with all these credentials and I’m like, I don’t know that I belong here. You know, I don’t know that I belong here I don’t know that I belong, you know like… Any amount of credibility any amount of value that I’ve offered to any communities, I don’t know how real any of that is, you know, whereas like jealousy, envy, it’s. I’m looking outside myself like I feel, I feel fine but I’m not getting what I want, or I feel fine but I’m not doing the things that I want to do or with the person that I want to be with or so on, you know,
ZR: when you when you were saying, when you were talking about that and you again, you know I don’t have I don’t have the credentials that other people might have, or and, and what I, what I’d written down actually was how insecurity can make me feel professionally threatened. So there is a you know there is that professional hierarchy, and I don’t have a PhD. But I you know I constantly fight against this feeling that I’m being minimised, and that I am being othered in professional spaces. You know I am an LGBTQ a plus him a psychotherapist and I would GSRD awareness trainer, and I do diversity and stuff and conferences and, but I still have that feeling of being silenced. And, you know, on my bookshelf behind me Kevin is Freud is Jung. And you! Right,? Because I every year, I go to Polyday in London, and I do PoC and poly, and every single year. You get quoted Kevin, right. So, I don’t, I don’t care if you’ve got you know you haven’t got these letters after you name or whatever, right, that professional hierarchy doesn’t mean anything to me because I feel that I don’t fit within it either,.
(30.00) KP: Fair. Fair. Like, I wouldn’t be able to show it to you without like giving up from my desk, but I have this baseball card. Behind me, that’s, it’s just a regular baseball card with my own name and face on it. And I use that as sort of my, my go to. So one of my one of my all-time favourite baseball players is a fella named Ricky Henderson, and he got this reputation for being arrogant. And when they asked him about it. He said like, I know what the numbers are on the back of my baseball card like I know what my stats are. I can’t just pretend that my numbers aren’t what they are and Ricky Henderson’s numbers are astronomical bill James said that if you cut Rickey Henderson in half, you get to Hall of Famers. So like I used that baseball card as sort of my as, as sort of my landmark my little, my little thing where whenever I’m feeling like really insecure, I start remembering that like I actually do have a lot of things going for me, I, you know, like my education looks the way that it looks my, you know the book I wrote a book that people enjoy like I’ve actually,
JK: It’s a bloody good book seriously it’s a good book if you haven’t read Kevin’s book Love’s Not Color Blind read it. Seriously, it changed the way that I thought and I don’t think you can ask more of a book than that.
Thank you. Thank you for saying that. Meanwhile, that’s barely even my that’s barely my second favourite of the three books that I’ve read, you know, and I have to remember those things because when I get down on myself I have to remember like I actually have a lot of good good things going for me. I’ve got a lot of great people in my life. My kids are fantastic you know. I’m I’m doing okay and I need to, like, get out of my own head about my imposter syndrome. I belong exactly where people put me and people put me in a place of a place of credibility and that’s fine too.
JK: We started to touch on how we manage insecurity and before we get on to what our partners can do to help us along, and there is there is definitely a role for people who are close to us to support us through, through self-doubt and insecurity. Most of us want to be able to deal with a lot of stuff ourselves and I frankly I struggle with it. For instance, when you know one of my partners, finds a new relationship and they get really into it, I really start to feel like the old thing. And actually you know that touches on another thing I’m probably rather older than either of you and, yeah, you can feel insecure about age and attractiveness and so on and and it is about replacement is somebody else just more exciting than me because somebody has seen the whole me and now there’s something newer and more exciting coming along and, you know, your partner is growing with them, whereas they’ve done their growth thing with you, it feels, Maybe there isn’t any more exploration to be done. I mean, what do you do about that?
KP: That’s something that I really really enjoy about polyamory that like I’ve been with my wife, almost 19 years and we’ve been married almost 14 years, and we still find ways to have firsts, and it’s not like expected we’re not, you know, changing up who we are to put some extra spice in our marriage or anything like that but like, it’ll just be something as simple as we’re experiencing our time as parents together in ways that were unexpected you know we’ve got a, we’ve got a pair of daughters, and like, connecting with my wife, based on like watching how our kids, interact. That’s, that’s a that’s a thing, you know, connecting with my wife based on which Marvel movie, we decided to go see, you know, that’s, that’s a whole thing unto itself, you know. As long as the world is spinning we have the room to have new experiences and new growth and to see now whether you grow together grow apart that’s a completely different thing. But like, if you’re with the person that you want to be with you don’t always have to be afraid that you’re gonna that there’s not going to be anything left to do or anything left to do together because there’s, there’s an endless amount of things to do and there’s an endless amount of things to do together.
JK: Do you ever get insecure, in the context of a relationship.
KP: Yeah, yeah, yeah the whole thing that I had said earlier about about like not not sort of holding a centre emotional place for a partner who would held that centre emotional place for me, that was a that was a lot for me to deal with, and the whole reason why that partner has a sent a central emotional place for me is because of the aftermath of that relationship that it went south where I was, I was with somebody we somebody who I felt could really see me, somebody who I felt I really saw, and that sort of went away. Where it felt like they couldn’t see who I was anymore. And, and I couldn’t see who they were anymore and it was always framed in a way that made me feel like, Have I done something wrong here, or have I done something What did I do what, what’s the problem How can I, how can I fix this? And it was, it was a relationship that I didn’t want to lose because it meant so much to me. But every time we were in proximity my anxiety got kicked up really high my insecurities got kicked up really high and I couldn’t understand why. In the aftermath of the relationship I would later learn that all of that was intentional. I had been intentionally misled in a lot of really key ways by the person I was with, which is a whole wild and surreal story unto itself, but just being in a relationship that made me feel unsteady all the time, after years of it making me feel completely stable all the time, was… it was a whole trip, it was a whole trip.
ZR: You know, I have a couple of divorces under my belt, and it can feel as though some of those things about having foundations and foundations to self and foundations to your relationship, and at some point that changes, and just because something was does not mean it will be. And it can be incredibly difficult, and it can really rock your trust in people, When we meet new people, we have to kind of trust them to a certain extent, until we know any better. And sometimes that knowing any better doesn’t happen until way way down the line where you have put yourself out there where you have showed that soft vulnerable underbelly to someone and you know just because you’re a nice person doesn’t necessarily mean, everybody is a nice person. And everybody thinks the same and does the same and have has the same past. And quite often there’s some maybe forgiveness of past needing to go on for those people, along with self-acceptance of this is this is me… and, you know I didn’t come out till I was in my 30s. And that’s because I spent all of my teens and 20s thinking; a) bisexuality didn’t exist. You know, I live in a place where it doesn’t exist. Yeah, it doesn’t exist. And so it was only really late in life that I kind of went through this and through therapy as well into a period of my life where I can be authentic to myself and. And that means that kind of it draws more people who are authentic to themselves, to me, and it also means that I can spot that, or spot inauthenticity in others. And, you know, dealing with insecurity can be around forgiving the past and looking at historical trauma and going into the hurty box, and being able to trust and know that sometimes your trust won’t always be reciprocated, because that’s human nature, and we’re all different. And, yeah, it cost me, I don’t know, a lot of money in solicitors to find that out, I guess, but i’ve you know I’ve got to the fourth decade of my life where I’m a lot more accepting of myself than I ever was before.
JK: I think one of the things that you guys were saying earlier about knowing that you’re going to be okay, has quite strong resonance for me. So, I was adopted very young. And I was, I was probably about six weeks when I was adopted. So, it’s one of those things that tends to be dismissed. Quite a lot by the establishment therapists, establishment thinking, that all of these experiences are pre verbal You’re so small you can’t remember any of it, and they forget that actually not a very primal level, you are aware of what’s going on. And you’re aware that your security has been taken away. And if you are very tiny, you know, despite all the love that you get from your adopted parents thereafter, it doesn’t necessarily go away. You can’t necessarily repair it so there is always this equation. When you’re that small being abandoned means it’s about survival it’s about death. So, for me when I feel abandoned, then I’m kind of immediately into ‘Oh my God, I am going to die!’
(40.00) Which comes to what you guys were saying, which was, if you have a sense that you’re going to be okay. If you carry this idea that you will be okay without your car you will be okay without that relationship you will be okay… whatever is easier to be present and just appreciate other people for the moments that you spend with them as they go through your life and you worry less about what happens if they’re not in your life, which somehow makes it less likely they’re going to bugger off.
ZR: Catastrophizing about tomorrow,
JK: do a lot of that.
ZR: lots of people do tomorrow it’s all going to. It’s either jam tomorrow, which is a saying about it’s all going to be fantastic tomorrow, or catastrophizing so it’ll all be terrible or it will be for all fantastic. Well, whereas actually it will just be.
JK: Kevin if somebody else who you were close to someone you love, whether it be a parent child lover, what have you, we’re suffering this. What do you offer them. How do you help them through
KP: The whole method the whole method that I have of like using the baseball card is sort of a, an iconic thing sort of put in perspective, like what it is that I’ve got going. I try to use that because like I do spend a lot of time around people with one variation of insecurity or another and to be a bit arrogant, a friend of mine, a partner of mine was having some insecurities around moving, because he said he was. He said he was moving and he was worried that that he wouldn’t find other people that would find him attractive in the new location and I said, ‘I’m really hot. And I’m attracted to you. So, clearly, you’ll find other people who are really hot who are attracted to you’. And, like, Is it me patting myself on the back. Yes. Is it. Did it help him feel a bit better about his move and his ability to find love in the new place. Also, yes. Sometimes you gotta let people know, you know, what they have going because a lot of our insecurity is just not knowing, or not remembering or just not contextualising, the things that we have going that are good in our lives, you know, There’s so many people who don’t have, and whatever that is, whether it’s don’t have love or don’t have money or don’t have, you know, security, there’s so many people who don’t have that just remembering the things that you do have can put a lot in perspective can make a lot of things feel… feel less stressful.
JK: What works when you’re feeling out of sorts Zayna.
ZR: For others, and this isn’t you know this is incredibly common in the client groups that I specialise in, and most people are fighting internally and externally against all of those things we’ve been conditioned to think about ourselves. And that goes for relationship diversity as well. When you’ve grown up in a, in a world of monogamy, and you begin to discover and explore something that isn’t monogamy, there is this acorn that has been planted within you, within everybody by osmosis, that says this is not the way this is not the path, this is not what you should be doing. And, and, in then comes chronic shame, guilt, the insecurity. And I guess for people that, it’s just about trusting the process and trusting the moment and…. First and foremost, don’t reject yourself, because the only person that can truly accept yourself is yourself, everybody else’s is a perception or an opinion from, how they see you. And this is about how you see you. And, you know, encouraging others self-approval self-compassion. I’m not a lover of the term self care because quite often that has socio economic things that people are excluded from doing. And, you know, point out that
JK: goes spend 100 quid on yourself at a spa was what to talk about.
ZR: Go and have a spa day… Not if you’re working two jobs you can’t have a spa day to make rent. And, you know, one of the things that lots of people do is comparisons and comparing yourself to other people. And there is nobody on earth who you can truly compare yourself with because you are unique. It’s like comparing apples and pears. It ain’t gonna work, but we still have this thing within us that makes us do it constantly. And we need to remind ourselves that comparisons are never, ever, helpful.
JK: I mean two things that I find really useful. There’s that idea of love languages. I’m really like verbal; words of affirmation… to be told that I matter. I will carry somebody will say, a kind thing to me and I will remember it for years. So it’s like a little warm thing that I carry around and inside me. And also, total honesty. As I was saying to Jamie, what she was describing with a partner she was feeling very insecure with was somebody who was actually not being honest with her. And I think we have quite strong instincts. And when somebody we want to trust is telling us x, and then where our instincts are telling us y opens up a gap where our imagination fills in or two parts of ourselves that are in conflict with one another; the part that wants to believe and the one that is telling ourselves no no no this is all wrong. It doesn’t square with what I’m seeing, so closing that gap being honest, being straightforward and leaving somebody something concrete to deal with no ‘this is actually how I feel about you know’, No perhaps I don’t see you as a life partner yes I do. Value enormously whatever it happens to be can really help people through it.
ZR: It is it’s honesty, honesty, openness and transparency. Because if you don’t have that, then assumptions are made and assumptions are quite often wrong.
KP: What I had mentioned, I’ve mentioned earlier like a relationship that I was in that had gone really wrong. If at any point my ex partner had said, ‘Hey, Kevin. Can we talk about what’s going on with, with the two of us?’ You know, ‘Hey Kevin Can you can you offer me reassurances here like I’m feeling under loved or I’m feeling underappreciated.’ Can we talk about that, you know, that situation would have gone a different direction. Instead it all came out is lashing out in defence mechanisms, which is why I so readily centred the partner that I met after that because that was exactly what they would do, they would just say like ‘Hey Kevin I’m not feeling so great. Can we talk about that?’ you know I’m feeling like. ‘Can you tell me that you love, it can you send me a smiling selfie?’ Can you reassure me about like, where I am in your life, and they’d be like, Hey, I know it’s just in my head but I just needed to hear these things. I know these are my own general insecurities, but I just wanted to hear you say the words, and it’s made our relationship fantastic. As a result, you know, just addressing insecurities addressing fears in the moment and not treating it as something you’ve got to hide and build resentment around.
ZR: I was just gonna say I know Jonathan you mentioned about the love languages that obviously there’s the original five there’s also a piece about queering of love languages and adding to that and making it seven, and just making it a bit more inclusive of ways, But to start with you’ve got to know which one you are to be able to ask for it to be able to sit with someone and go. This is how I can tell that you want to spend time with me.
JK: I think you’re gonna have to tell us what the other two are now because let me see this word of affirmation is quality time. There’s gifts there’s touch. There’s another one which I totally forgotten.
ZR: And so it’s acts of solidarity so it could be. So have you did you do service
JK: acts of service yeah that’s that’s that’s like the original five. Solidarity, acts of solidarity.
ZR: Yeah, access solidarity so that would be if someone is going. If you’re queer and you’re often a queer March, and your partner comes with you. So, that’s like somebody backing you up, and somebody, one of the, I had a particularly bad time on social media, that’s a surprise, isn’t it, where I’d got trolled… surprise, and somebody sent me a message, and they said, ‘Do you know what you you you go out there I see you out there, and I’m going to stay here and I’m going to make the tea’. And somebody saying that, instead of taking that and going oh well I’m going to go off and shout about how you know awful somebody was to you. They were like,’ I’ve got your back’, and those types of things that are acts of solidarity of going, ‘I may not be in the position that you are in, but I can still have your back for you’, and the, the other one is is self-work is self-compassion is knowing that you’ve got stuff to work on.
(50.00) Everybody’s got stuff to work on in no way shape or form are therapists any more worked on than anybody else. I always say to people. The biggest difference between somebody who’s a therapist and who’s not a therapist is a therapist is more likely to know in which ways they are screwed up.
KP: Have you seen frozen 2?
JK: I haven’t seen frozen one.
ZR: I delegate young people’s films to somebody else in my household who does that stuff for the kids.
KP: Fair enough, and I’m the one who gets that delegated to me in my own household. It’s not a not a huge spoiler but there’s a point in the second movie where one of the romantic that were like, everything’s going wrong, and one of the romantic leads Christoph shows up on the scene and the first thing he says is, ‘I’m here. What do you need?’ And when I watched it, I wasn’t really thinking a whole lot about it. But the partner who I’d seen that movie with was like ‘Kevin, that’s who you are, you don’t show up and try to be the hero you don’t try to take over the situation, you show up and you ask what I need and you help me in the way that I think that I need’. and I was like Oh, cool. Thank you for telling me this. And then afterwards, I kept seeing these pieces coming out about those words in that movie like. For me it was just something a partner had said but apparently it was like the subject of several think pieces, you know like, this is, this is who we want these acts of solidarity, and I was like oh, okay, well apparently that’s that’s the kind of output I have in a relationship. I’m glad to do so, you know, but I didn’t realise it had been added to the list of love languages but I’m okay with that, you know, I don’t mind being fluid in more than one love language.
ZR: And that’s the time to have clients that go through something called emotional literacy so we go through a lot of emotions and we talk about are you feeling what you really think you’re feeling, or is this…. You are for future pacing on what you think you felt in a similar situation years ago, is the circumstance of historical evidence that you’re feeling this? You know there are lots of ways that you can look at love languages, and you can look at knowing yourself and knowing what you want, and knowing those bits of you that are tender and being able to communicate them with with a partner, all your partners, being able to be open and honest and vulnerable and go. This bit isn’t great for me, and somebody else having that act of solidarity and going. ‘That’s cool. I’ll sit there I’ll stand beside you I will hold your hand through this, because it’s really important as partners that this is a two way street.’
JK: I think, again, one of the things that you guys touched on leads me to the thing that I want to wrap up with which is what is the balance between people saying look, this is your stuff deal with it and actually trying to do too much for them? I mean I’ve really liked what you said about not taking over the situation, and I will put my hand up and say that I can steam in take over and not just help people the way they want to be helped. But what is the right balance between things people now you’ve got to deal with this yourself, and sometimes people say that quite unkindly and trying to do too much, Kevin.
KP: I think the balance there ends up being. It’s a goalpost that moves, depending on the partner, and which is I guess why the the words ended up being so important. ‘I’m here What do you need?’ because that’s just not always going to be the same thing. And it’s not just in like the behaviours that we do is the kind of conversations that we have, where there are times where somebody spills their whole soul out to me, and I and my natural inclination is to give advice and I’m like, do you want advice here or do you want me to do you want me to hear what you’re saying. And a lot of times like I’d have five six different ideas spooled up and ready to go. Only for them to say, ‘I just need you hear me right now Kev’. And then I then I’m like okay cool, I hear what you’re saying and next time This comes up I know where your head is at in regards to that. And then the conversation is over, and all those ideas I had, they go away. They weren’t important in the first place. Just keeping keeping on the same page, touching base, checking in with your partners. I feel like that’s part of the whole emotional literacy process because we have our natural inclinations we have the things that we want to do and that’s not always the thing that’s necessary.
JK: But is there ever a point where you do need to leave someone to go and sort their stuff out? I mean, because they are trying to stick too much of it on you or someone else.
KP: Yeah, and I think that that’s also part of the checking in the process where if somebody somebody’s pouring out they’re pouring out their issues and it’s just too much, you have to be able to say that and you have to be able to say it to somebody who you trust is going to hear you. Which, you know, that’s the rub, that’s not always easy sometimes somebody wants to like, you know, like I’ve got a partner that I told them like hey, there’s a deficiency in our relationship, only because, not because like, there’s a deficiency in me or a deficiency in you, but we spend a lot of time talking about what your problems are. Every time we get together. I’m good with that. But just understand that when, when we’re not doing thing B is because we spend a lot of time doing thing, A, and if there was an I trust that I trust that if that was ever a problem for me, that they would hear me and we could pivot but you know right now we’re good, but like, just being able to have the conversation and trust that you’re not going to be punished for telling your truth is really valuable and that’s not always something that every, every relationship is going to have.
ZR: I think listening. There’s so many times where we’re in a conversation and we’re not necessarily in it. We’re outside of it, or we’re above it and we, you know, like you were saying Kevin well while somebody is talking, I’m thinking of ways to fix them. And it’s like, yeah, you can step down off that horse Jonathan, because it might be that we actually need somebody to muck out stables. and it, you know, really, really listening, even if that means, one of the little interventions, I do is to use a pillow. And some whoever’s holding the pillow speaks, and then they pass the pillow around, and whoever gets that pillow next has to reflect back. Don’t answer it, don’t solve it, don’t fix them. But, but reflect back what that person has said, because, how many times have we been in a conversation and we think we’re thinking about our reply. And we’re not thinking about what they’ve said,
JK: And that’s absolutely key to the whole philosophy of nonviolent communication I mean you pretty much nailed down in into two sentences, and God do I not do that an awful lot at the time. I’m such a bad human I’m gonna go and beat myself up later.
ZR: Don’t torture yourself, darling. That’s my job.
JK: Hey, this has been phenomenal. We could go on and on and on. Maybe we will regroup and talk about other aspects of this sort of thing at some point in the future. It’s certainly not something you can cover in a mere hour or so. But, Kevin. Thank you so much for your time. Zayna thank you for also stepping out of the psychiatry’s chair into the other = side for a bit.
KP: Thank you so much for having me.
JK: Great to hear you.
ZR: That’s all for this edition. Tune in for new episodes every month. And next time we’ll be talking about intimacy, specifically intimacy in the context of swinging or ‘the lifestyle’ as those involved, often call it.
JK: That’s right. We’ll be talking to Kate and Liam from Toronto who say that swings deepen their connection to Cooper S Beckett of Life on the swing set with his thoughts about how swinging can enhance a relationship.
ZR: In the meantime, if you liked the programme please leave us a review on the platform you use to listen. And if you would like to support us. Visit the beyond monogamy website that’s www dot beyond monogamy dot world, and tweet us to a coffee courtesy Patreon
JK: Intro and outro music by Jeris via ccmixer. Beyond monogamy is a Chris P Duck production, catch you next time.