Polyamorous therapist and author Kate Loree chats with Karen about her new comprehensive book “Open Deeply,” about consensual nonmonogamy, and how to work through the bad feelings that can damage good relationships.
Wild & Sublime Podcast Transcript
#S3E25 | Building Stronger Open Relationships with Kate Loree
Kate Loree: In the beginning, a lot of times people think they have some great nonmonogamous relationship agreements, when really it’s clear as mud. Both people have told themselves a story about what some particular sentence means, and actually, they have two completely different ideas in their head. And then when they go to do the event, it crashes and burns. This is another reason to go slow. The series of relationship agreements that you have is not supposed to be set in stone. It is a harm reduction model that is going to change — you know, especially in the beginning, it may change by the day.
Karen Yates: Welcome to Wild & Sublime, a sexy spin on infotainment®, no matter your preferences, orientation, or relationship style, based on the popular live Chicago show. I chat about sex and relationships with citizens from the world of sex positivity. You’ll hear meaningful conversations, dialogues that go deeper, and information that can help you become more free in your sexual expression. I’m sex educator and intimacy coach Karen Yates.
This week, I talk to author and therapist Kate Loree about her comprehensive book on ethical nonmonogamy that will guide you from difficulty into compassion and cooperation. Keep listening. Do you want some easy hacks for connecting with your partner more easily? Download my free publication, Say It Better in Bed: 3 Practical Ways to Improve Intimate Communication. Learn effective things to say and do, leaving the guessing game behind. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or hooking up once, you will come away with simple yet powerful ways to boost your sexual communication skills. Go to the show notes or karen-yates.com to download your FREE guide.
Hey, folks. There are many wonderful books out there about ethical nonmonogamy, especially for those who are trying to make sense of it all. But what is rarer is finding books that speak to the issues that can derail open relationships, and how then to do the work as an individual and as a couple to move into harmony without sacrificing one’s personal needs in service to the other people in the relationship. Today, I’ll be interviewing Kate Loree about her book “Open Deeply,” a guide to building conscious, compassionate open relationships. Loree is a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as an art and EMDR therapist, and specializes in ethical nonmonogamy and kink. She also cohosts the sex positive podcast “Open Deeply,” with Sunny Megatron. What I really like about Open Deeply is that it takes a somatic approach to identifying issues as they come up, and gives clear and helpful guidance about understanding what’s going on in one’s relationship. Kate Loree also gives a comprehensive view of nonmonogamy, and includes many resources in case you’d like to do more research. In this interview, we talk about many things, including fluid relationship styles, why swinging can be a good thing, doing the work, and a major relationship killer no one talks about. Enjoy.
Kate Loree, welcome.
Kate Loree: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. This is a great podcast.
Karen Yates: Oh, thank you so much. I’m really looking forward to jumping into the book. But before we do that, what tribal lands are you on right now?
Kate Loree: So I’m in the San Fernando Valley. So, the Gabrielino and the Tataviam.
Karen Yates: And I am on the lands of the Council of Three Fires, also known as the Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Odawa nations, and this is colonially known as Chicago. So here we are, talking about your tremendous book, “Open Deeply,” which should be required reading for everyone who begins a consensually nonmonogamous relationship. I wish I had it back in the day. Well, I mean, there’s a lot of books out there describing types of relationships, and you do that too. But what I really liked about your book is that you dig into how to make it work. And I’m looking forward to going over that a bit. You began with a couple of quotes that I’d like to talk about. But let’s talk about one quote that you lay out. You talk about the successful couple, the couple that is going to be a success probably, if they go into a consensually nonmonogamous relationship. “They are lit up and energized by their mental, emotional, and sexual connection. They are each other’s muses, helping each other find their optimal and authentic self.” Wow, I love that. That was sort of a North Star when I read that. I’m sure you see a lot of different couples walk in your room, as you do therapy. So this is optimum. What type of relationships should not be beginning a consensually nonmonogamous relationship?
Kate Loree: Huh. Nobody has asked me that question in quite that way. You know, the same person or a couple that might not be relationship ready for any relationship. You know, if you break it down to an individual, if you look at your life and you’re doing harm, you might want to pause, step back, and work on yourself. I don’t know if I would put it that way, you know, just that they shouldn’t go into nonmonogamy — because let’s face it, when we’re learning how to be in relationship, unfortunately, the way we do it is by being in relationship. So you know, it would be great for somebody to step back and just read books and kind of have a period of time where they maybe sought out different types of healers, and, you know, whether it was a coach or a somatic teacher, or, you know, different relationship experts, and slowly evolved to a place where they’re going to minimize the harm they do to themselves or others. But a lot of people aren’t going to do that. They’re going to learn by doing, and I have compassion for that. You know, all we can do is try and learn how to be conscious and compassionate in our relationships, rather than unconscious and reactive.
Karen Yates: Yeah. The next quote you had that I thought was so great was talking about fluidity in consensual nonmonogamy or monogamy. And you define fluid as a relationship that may shift from monogamy to nonmonogamy, depending on what suits all partners involved and their changing life circumstances. A fluid relationship is not trapped within the confines of nonmonogamy. Instead, a fluid relationship has the full range of freedom to shift across the continuum, from extreme monogamy on one end to extreme nonmonogamy on the other end as life changes. Such relationships have the greatest ability to adapt to emotions and needs, and thus the highest ability to survive over time. It struck me because I think, at least for me, and, I think, other people, there’s this idea that nonmonogamy is kind of a binary. It’s a light switch: it’s like, one or the other. And what I found so refreshing about your book, it’s like, you get to choose what sort of relationship you want. And then over time, over a lifetime, you get to say, Okay, now we’re going to close the relationship back to monogamy for now. Okay, now, let’s open it back up. So there’s this real elasticity. Can you talk a little bit about that? And is that something you kind of knew from the beginning in your own personal life? Or is this what you have seen over your practice? Like, how did you come to this?
Kate Loree: Well, first off, I have to just say that if you Google the word “fluid” in conjunction with nonmonogamy, you’ll see a slightly different definition that is actually more rigid than mine, that kind of speaks of fluidity within nonmonogamy. And I’m like, Well, if we’re gonna use the word fluid, let’s like, really, you know — meaning that we can have the full range. And, you know, that might even start to lean into relationship anarchy, you know, and all that. But we are limited in how long we can talk. I could go off on just that forever, right?
So, when I was younger, I had an 11-year monogamous relationship. And then right after that, I had a 13-year nonmonogamous relationship and marriage. I started out in the swing lifestyle. At the end of that relationship, I was poly and in between. I was every kind of hybrid you can think of, you know, within that relationship. And then after that, I had a pretty extensive spiritual journey, doing holotropic and pranayama breathwork; I went to Peru and did Ayahuasca; I hired an underground psychotherapist and did a psilocybin/MDMA combination that — actually, all these things were life-changing. Part of the reason I did all that is I had cancer the year before the pandemic, and that created the need to do a spiritual deep dive.
And so, after all of that, I think I really did come to a place of being incredibly fluid. I really value every individual’s freedom. You know, everybody inherently is free. But on the other side, most of us humans are tragically traumatized. And so, within nonmonogamy, between any two people, no matter how many partners are actually involved, there’s usually this kind of balance that they’re trying to do, between balancing the freedom of any one person versus the attachment injuries that may be unresolved in the other person. And I could give examples to explain what I mean. But this is the inherent struggle, and there’s no perfect solution to fix it. But we can be aware of it. We can be conscious and compassionate. We can learn not to be triggered and reactive to these moments. And from that place of compassion for this dance of trying to find the best balance, we have the greatest chance of a healthy nonmonogamous relationship. So when you go back to the concept of fluidity, if you’re fluid, that’s going to allow the greatest chance that you can navigate that dance of balancing self-care and freedom between any two people. If that makes sense.
Karen Yates: It makes complete sense. And what I appreciated about the book is that you give a lot of methods within a kind of a greater system. And it all goes back to — a lot of it is inner work, you know, a lot of it is based on knowing self, and I really, really appreciated it. And it’s not an easy, there’s not an easy answer. This is the journey of self anyway, regardless of whether you’re in a nonmonogamous relationship or not. You’re gonna get the most rewards if you start knowing yourself better. You talk about, you know, kind of this tripod system of cultivating connection. You’re looking for a three part connection: connection to community and/or support system, connection to yourself, and then connection to your partners. And you go into quite some depth in all of those areas. But let’s just talk for a bit about the need for community. And why is that so important?
Kate Loree: It’s an interesting thing to think about. I have noticed sometimes with some of my clients that — especially my nonmonogamous clients that are also kinky, or identify that way — I have run into situations where someone who’s calling themselves a Dom, and he’s actually an abuser. He’s not following any of the guidelines of what proper, safe, sane, consensual kink is. And then he gets the person that identifies as submissive into isolation. And oftentimes, he says he knows more about kink than this person that may be new, and then proceeds to abuse them for years. Now, if that person was connected to community — community is not perfect. You’ve got flawed humans in community too. But you have at least a greater chance of finding some folks where you can, like, you know, kind of use them as a springboard of ideas and say, These are the things going on in my life, how do you feel about these things? So they can be reality checks. So that’s one thing that can be a reality check, and give you some insight as to whether you’re proceeding in a way that is healthy to yourself and others.
But also, you know, within nonmonogamy, a lot of times, people, they feel lonely in it, you know? Like maybe people that aren’t connected to community, they can’t tell their vanilla friends, you know, and they haven’t made community, connection and community. So it still ends up just being between the two of them. And so when one person is upset, maybe grieving the loss of one other partner, they come to their partner, because they don’t have anyone else. And so they rely too much on their partner for things that maybe they should have at least one other friend to go to. When you go to your partner for every uncomfortable thing that happens in nonmonogamy, a lot of times they have their own stuff. Maybe they don’t even like the person you just broke up with. Maybe they start to think, wow, if they’re grieving this big, maybe they love this other person more than me, you know? And that may not be true at all, you’re just in your feelings. If you have somebody else that you can talk to, even one other person, then these kinds of things don’t happen.
Karen Yates: I also really liked this other point you brought up, that if you’re starting out in nonmonogamy, probably most of your friends are monogamous. They don’t get it. So if you have a problem in a nonmonogamous situation, they’re like, Well, yeah, duh! You know, there’s not going to be maybe the same level of support, that like, Hey, this is a learning curve. Don’t worry about it, la la la.
Kate Loree: Yeah, I mean, a lot of times, someone new in nonmonogamy, they want to get advice a lot of times, rather than just feedback and support. And so, when they go to their monogamous friends, a lot of times the advice, even from a kind person that means well that’s monogamous, their advice might actually be toxic to a nonmonogamous version.
Karen Yates: Yeah. So you go into some detail — and I really appreciated this — you go into some detail about the lifestyle, or swinging, as one option to being consensually nonmonogamous. And I appreciated this, because sometimes I see, in the polyamorous community, sort of a pooh-poohing of swinging. Can you talk to me about why you went in depth? Because I thought you did a really nice examination of it.
Kate Loree: It’s important because I’m all about breaking down bigotry, wherever you find it. I’m all about fighting towards, you know, human equity and compassion, and all of that. And certainly, even a lot of people when they’re entering these nonmonogamous or kinky spaces, they think that they found this holy grail of open-mindedness, only to find out down the road that actually there’s a lot of freakin’ bigotry. Swing lifestyle people can be bigoted towards poly folks, you know, thinking that they are crazy and risking the love of their life, and a bit too hippie. Again, these are stereotypes, right. And then poly people can often look at swingers and and have this incorrect assumption that they are just always having sex with strangers, and that there’s no connection.
And it’s all stereotypes, you know, when really, the swinger lifestyle is a massive community. So not to talk about it is, I think, misguided. And not to get to know it, I think is misguided. When I was in the swing lifestyle, it was great for me for a long time, in the sense that I was working at a clinic. I loved my job, but it was incredibly high-stress. And so, the social norms that you usually see in the swing lifestyle, of like, no drama, actually served me. I wanted to go to a party where we just talked about the good stuff, you know, where it was just a break from reality. That was perfect. There was a time where I started to get cranky that they just wanted to hear about my wonderful trip to Cancun, but they didn’t want to hear about, say, my grandma who was sick. I started to get cranky that some of those deeper conversations weren’t happening in the circles I belong to. And that’s part of the reason I started to switch. Also, I started to notice that the swing community was pretty conservative politically — that is starting to change a little bit.
But I mean, I’ll be honest, I’m definitely a progressive liberal. And so, I tend to have deep conversations. And so I started to try and find another tribe that fit that. You know, but again, these things are changing. There’s more racial diversity in the swing lifestyle now. It’s getting better, but it definitely needs to be talked about, because it’s such a huge chunk of the nonmonogamous community.
Karen Yates: Yeah, and the other thing I really liked in your examination of it is that for people who are kind of scared as they begin nonmonogamy, there’s a lot of guard rails in the swing community. And it’s a lot around the fact that it is very, like, we’re in it to fuck, we’re not in it to have maybe — I mean, and again, this is kind of the the more superficial version of swinging — but like, we’re in it to have sex, we’re not in it to steal other people’s partners or, like, fall in love. I mean, it’s really basically like, yeah, we get together, we swap partners, we have sex. And that can maybe alleviate anxiety for people that go in really afraid of the emotional implications of nonmonogamy.
Kate Loree: Absolutely. I always joke that going to a hotel takeover, like a Halloween hotel takeover party that’s a swing lifestyle party, is a little bit like going to an accountant convention. You can go up to Harvey the accountant or Bert the accountant, and their book of accounting rules is, in general, pretty similar. Whereas if you go to a party that is a lot of polyam folks, like, everybody’s rule book is completely different, which can be overwhelming to someone who’s new. I’m not saying that all new people should go swing towards the swing lifestyle. Some people, you have to look into your heart and ask yourself, what is anxiety-provoking? Like, for some people, going to a big party is terrifying. And you know, they’d rather have a partner and maybe one other partner, and that’s their version of starting out slow. So you know, I think you have to look into your heart. And I would just always encourage people to go slow, because a lot of people that are new, they just stack — they get excited, like, because most people that are nonmonogamous, I’d say their love language is carefree fun, freedom and adventure. So they have a tendency to just start stacking event after event after event within a few weeks, and they haven’t processed the first thing, and then they’re limping into my office going, what’s happening? We don’t know, we need help!
Karen Yates: That’s actually something I want to bring up. Because you talk a lot about some of the pitfalls along the way that you have to examine. And you bring up a lot of different things. But one of the things you bring up is, patience wins out in the long run. And you talk about the overwhelm overload, or the change overload, due to the breakneck speed, especially in early, you know, early nonmonogamy, when a couple opens up. So can you talk a little bit about that? And can you talk about the dynamics, really get into the dynamics of maybe say, two people, where one is the Yeah! And the other person is like, Ehh? I would really like to hear you break that down.
Kate Loree: Yeah, well, you know, that’s often the case, that one person’s way more excited than the other person. You know, and that can vary by degree. You might have one person that doesn’t even know if they want to be nonmonogamous, and they happen to fall in love with somebody who wants to have sex parties every weekend. You can have those really extreme, but it’s not always that extreme. And a lot of times, two people that are new — again, they may have all kinds of other things, but I’m simplifying it to two people, because that’s what often comes into my office, regardless of what’s going on back at the ranch, you know. So, in the beginning, a lot of times people think they have some great nonmonogamous relationship agreements, when really it’s clear as mud. Both people have told themselves a story about what some particular sentence in their nonmonogamous relationship means. And actually, they have two complete different ideas in their head. And then when they go to do the event and it crashes and burns, they’re like yelling at each other, going, “But we said x, y, and z!” You know, this is another reason to go slow. If you go slow, and really process and reevaluate — because the series of relationship agreements that you have is not supposed to be set in stone. It is a harm reduction model that is going to change. You know, especially in the beginning, it may change by the day. After you get into a little bit of a rhythm, it probably will change less. So it’s important to go slow for that reason, for sure.
Another reason, you know, if you’re stacking event after event without processing, a lot of times the person that wants to go fast, when they see that their partner is struggling, and they may just say, you know, it really hurt me that you didn’t check in very often at the party last night. A lot of times with a partner that wants to go fast will catastrophize. And kind, super-kind people will do this; this is common as dirt. Instead of being like, okay, let’s talk about what we’d both be comfortable, you know, what would make us comfortable in terms of check-ins, this person catastrophizes and goes, I don’t even know why we’re doing this! You’re just doing this for me, you’re not truly nonmonogamous, we should just put a halt to this. You know, that kind of thing happens a lot of times. Luckily, in my office, that’s something that’s easy to tweak. I’ll stop and I’m like, Okay, you’re doing what almost everybody does: you’re catastrophizing right now. Just because they’re having a small ask and a small discomfort does not mean that they can’t proceed with nonmonogamy, you know. We just need to slow down, cool your jets, and unpack.
Karen Yates: Because, you know, one thing I saw you do over and over again in your examples is like, the answer is this very spacious middleground. Like, once people calm down, really, and are able to sort of look at their own stuff, there’s a whole bunch of like, commonalities, or things that both people can agree to. And it might not be 100% what the other person wants, but like, there’s a large swath of agreement. And I really appreciated it. Your book really makes, it really kind of makes it more accessible. It makes this way of life a little more accessible, I think, for people. Even like the agreement early on of like, soft-swapping at a swingers party, of just like, cuddling and making out, like, that’s your bottom line, going no further — I’m like, yeah. And you can go years that way.
Kate Loree: Right, right? Well, if you think about it, people are going in anxious. And when a person is anxious, they tend to want all this rigidity. And you know, I’m an art therapist; when I worked in clinics, the anxious person would want the coloring book. They wanted to color in the lines, rather than use the paints that I had put out. You know, so they’re wanting structure, but sometimes that structure actually shoots us in the foot. So with this rigidity that people want, it helps in the sense that, like what we said earlier, where something like the swing lifestyle, with more of a structured model, is helpful, but the way it shoots you in the foot is when you are looking in a black or white lens, it’s either this or that, then you can’t see this whole middle ground that actually helps you connect to what you really need.
And when I think about the beginning of my nonmonogamous journey, really for the first 10 years, almost, I was very in my head. Now, do I know better? Yes, I knew better. And my mom started teaching me how to track my body in elementary school. So I knew about that. I knew about emotions. My grandfather was head of the educational psych department at the college where he worked. So I knew all this stuff. But when I entered into nonmonogamy, all the thought leaders that I had contact with were saying to ‘logic through’ things, and so was my partner. And, you know, I had been raised with Star Trek, you know, I’m 53. I was, you know, Spock being logical.
And I’ll also say that I had some internalized misogyny, and internalized misogyny says something to the effect of, “Man, logical, good. Woman, emotional, bad.” You know, so I was really slow in some settings to learn what I eventually learned, which was to track my full compass from a grounded place, my full compass being my thoughts, my body sensations, my emotions, from a grounded center place. I mean, the difference of that is kind of like if Scott said to Jasmine, how do you feel about me spending time or spending the night with Alex? In the first example, maybe Jasmine is logical and says, Well, Alex, you know, they’ve always been kind to both of us. We’ve known Alex for 10 years. I can’t logically think of a reason why not. And so, Scott goes, and you know, sees Alex, comes back the next morning, and Jasmine is just pissed. And Scott is like, you said you didn’t have any concerns. Now let’s do a re-do. Scott says to Jasmine, how do you feel about me spending time with Alex, maybe spending the night? And this time, Jasmine notices a little knife drop through her gut, and she says, I don’t know what it means, I noticed a somatic reaction, I need to go off and sit with it for a time, and Scott’s like, sure. Jasmine sits with it for a while, starts with the knife drop, notices some feelings, like a little bit of heartbreak, sadness, anxiety, notices all that, then goes up to the head. And the head says, oh, well, our anniversary is coming up in a week, or, Scott’s never spent the full night, or whatever it is. And then Jasmine can have an ‘ask.’ And then the three of them can work out something that all three are more okay with. And then when Scott comes back from that date, she’s much more able to have compersion, or at least feel better, and things go so much better.
So this is a difference between being up in your head and being in tune with your whole compass. And I think being in your head also goes tandem with a more rigid model, where it’s either this or that. Being in touch with your full compass allows you to see that shade of gray. It allows you to see the nuances.
Karen Yates: I’ll return to my interview in a moment. Would you like to get our twice-monthly newsletter with cool resources and info about live shows? Go to wildandsublime.com to sign up. Did you know all Wild & Sublime supporters on Patreon get ticket discounts to our live show, as well as being able to partake in our monthly Q&A with experts, and get other benefits? Your Patreon membership helps Wild & Sublime produce this podcast and really supports us. You can also help by throwing some bucks in the tip jar or forwarding on this episode. All links to giving are in our show notes. Thank you so much.
And now, the second half of my conversation with author and therapist Kate Loree. We talk about going inward to do the work. And what if you don’t want to go inward? We also talk about narcissists and polyamory, as well as the one thing no one talks about as a major relationship killer.
[to Kate Loree] There’s another kind of tripod system you bring in and work with throughout the book, which is reading your body, defining the antecedent — like, what came before this moment? Is it internal, is it external? And then getting to the root. And you give ample examples about how to do this. And what I kept thinking about as I was reading the book is like, well, this is really great. I’m a somatic intimacy coach; you do somatic work. It’s really working with people moving out of the headspace where we’ve been for a couple of hundred years. [laughs] Right? Reconnecting to this Soma, this body, that gives us so much information. I guess one of my questions is, you give folks so much information around going inward around self examination, which, basically in some regards, this book is great for anyone in a relationship, not just people in a non monogamous relationship.
Kate Loree: Thank you.
Karen Yates: It’s really quite comprehensive. And I was thinking as I was reading it — because, you know, I really get into this kind of stuff — but what would you say to people who are like, I just want to be nonmonogamous and fuck this, fuck this going inward shit. And fuck this like, me in a notebook, or me sitting here and breathing. And, like, is it possible to have successful nonmonogamous relationships without doing this kind of work?
Kate Loree: Well, you know, since I have been non monogamous since 2003, I have a lot of informal longitudinal studies in my head. So I’m just going to pluck — there was this couple that I knew. I got to know them in the swing lifestyle. I don’t think they had a lot of conversations. There was one that had more emotional intelligence; the other partner was more, you know, she was just a more go-oriented person. They had a long run. They had a long run of things working for them. And I think the reason is because, one, they were in the swing lifestyle, so very rigid rules in the beginning; two, they were very aligned in certain ways sexually. And when I say that, I mean, he was more of an emotional person and she was more of a sport-fucky kind of person. But it’s not like one person was kinky and then the other person wanted vanilla sex. Like, they were pretty aligned. And they liked the same friends. There was a lot of matchy-matchy things, and they were both likeable. They had this really long run. But when they started to go off — you know, they started to have a more complicated nonmonogamous relationship, man, the shit hit the fan.
So from that — and I’m just using this as an example — but if you’re not wanting to communicate, then I would hope that you and your partner are just inherently kind people. Kind to yourself, kind to your partner, kind to others. That’s just in your bones. Because I’ve known very simple people that just were inherently kind to themselves and others. And so, they almost had this Tao of Pooh kind of way of negotiating life. And it worked for them. You know, there’s those people out there that, they’re not complicated people, but there’s just this inherent kindness. And I think somebody like that could potentially pull off nonmonogamy for quite some time, again, if they have a simple model, and really stick to their guns in terms of kindness.
Karen Yates: You talk about openness, curiosity, compassion. These are the qualities that are going to win the day. So for someone who maybe doesn’t want to sit there with a notebook, or really sit and do the work, they are attitudes that can bridge difficulties, I think. And that’s a very interesting example that you gave about the couple, of like, they had enough in alignment that there weren’t probably a lot of issues until there was an issue, right?
Kate Loree: Unfortunately, there’s another major camp. You know, if you think about, like, someone who’s narcissistic, a lot of times people that are narcissistic, you can call them an over-taker. They usually choose an over-giver. And this is not necessarily someone who’s gullible, or not bright, or doesn’t have a lot going on. A lot of times, narcissists will choose over-givers that are actually really fortified humans. If you think about wildlife, if you had a predator, and it had the choice of a field mouse or a wounded, large animal, which is it going to choose? Which can it feed off longer? It’s going to feed off the larger animal if it can, right? So a lot of narcissists will choose very powerful partners that have been enculturated to be over-givers. A lot of people think an over-giver is, you know, inherently, how should I say, you know, traumatized in some way. But a lot of times, it’s just cultural. Like, you know, a lot of women — I remember watching Grease as a child. You know, looking at Olivia Newton-John versus John Travolta. He was a bit of a dick. He was a cute dick, but he was a bit of a dick, and she was a huge over-giver that really sacrificed who she was. There’s a bazillion examples.
When I started to talk to people about that, I’ve seen you know, especially women, just like, change very quickly, within weeks, sometimes. Once they understand the cultural program, and they can start to watch their own show, they can change very quickly. But within nonmonogamy, the narcissist in my opinion doesn’t understand love, doesn’t know how to give or receive love. Love is like a fuel source for humans; it’s like water, sunlight, soil. So, since the narcissist doesn’t have that really as a fuel source, it looks for a narcissistic fuel source. The narcissist comes into nonmonogamy and all the beautiful lovers, the praise, the sex, can be their narcissistic fuel source. So they’ll look at an over-giver that will allow just whatever, right? And this is one problem within nonmonogamy, is that a lot of times, because freedom is the love language, the person that might be in the over-giver position, they don’t want to inherently see themselves as controlling. So they don’t say their needs, and if they do say their needs, the narcissist will slam them and say they’re the most selfish person in the world, et cetera. When actually, it’s quite the contrary: the over-giver is almost — it’s similar to having body dysmorphia, except they have dysmorphia about how much they’re giving in the relationship.
So, you know, going back to your question, you know, the narcissist is that other category that’s like, I don’t want to do this work. How can I just do nonmonogamy and just have fun? But it’s a very different reason than the kind, simple couple that doesn’t get into that, because they just have a simple framework on how they meet life, but they’re still kind.
Karen Yates: Yeah, yeah. And I did appreciate, you have a chapter about, you know, mood disorders and non monogamy, which is great. You have a chapter on attachment issues, because that’s a more recent development in psychology, about people’s trauma and how they attach to people, you know, secure attachment, anxious attachment. And again, it was just really nice to see you go over. You don’t spend half the book on it, but it’s like, Hey, do you want information? Take a look at this. And of course, there’s a big juicy bibliography later, if you want to go deeper. ANother thing that I want you to talk about is, you do devote time to jealousy. That’s always like, let’s talk about jealousy because everyone’s like, when they’re entering, it’s like, oh, jealousy. Okay, we’ve done jealousy. We don’t have to talk about jealousy. Because you cover it amply in the book. But what I want to talk about is this secret thing, or this hidden thing that comes up, which is feeling disrespected. And how much it comes up, and how much people don’t really recognize it as a sort of a toxic dynamic. And can you talk a little bit about that?
Kate Loree: Yeah. A lot of times, people will come into my practice — especially, it seems like a lot of times it happens in individual sessions with someone who’s nonmonogamous. And they’ll sit there — now I do everything online, but back when I had a sofa for them to sit on — they’d sit there and say, Kate, why am I so bad at polyam? And they’re just leading with the shame spiral. Everybody else makes it look easy. Why am I so bad at this? And I’ll just say, tell me what’s going on. You know, what just happened? And they will proceed to tell me some story about going to a party, or some interaction with a couple of their partners. And they’ll tell me what happened. And they’ll tell me about a series of relationship agreements being broken, and their partner having no compassion as they break relationship agreements. They just lead with, why am I so jealous? Why am I so bad at this? And I’ll look at them and I’m like, it doesn’t sound like you’re talking about jealousy. It sounds like you are experiencing feeling disrespected. You just told me that they were very cavalier as they just plowed through and broke your relationship agreements. And you’ll just watch them kind of perk up. That caved-in shoulders, and looking down at their feet, just like, all of a sudden shifts to them being like, perky people looking me in the eye and going, oh, yeah. It’s super common that people confuse something like jealousy or envy for being disrespected.
Karen Yates: Yeah, these conversations or these arguments that couples can get into are so typical, and the dynamics shift so quickly, it’s really easy to walk away thinking you’re the person that has the problem. It keeps going back to slowing down, and slowing down in the speed of how quickly the relationship moves into nonmonogamy.
But also, getting back to this somatic component, the body processes slowly. And to be aware of these things, I think a person new to self-examination could look at your book and be like, this is ninja shit, there’s no way I can do this. But actually, it is doable. You just have to learn how to be more present with yourself. And what would you say? Like, what has been your experience helping people, individuals or couples, as they work through being able to check in with their bodies? Being able to analyze, what happened just before I had this feeling? Is this coming from something in the past? Is this coming from something that just happened? And what are the real roots? How long does it take for people really to, like, begin utilizing, in a very organic way, what you propose to people, or how you put it forth to people?
Kate Loree: Well, when I’ve worked with people that, you know, especially back in the clinic, that you had the worst kind of sexual abuse history, et cetera, where they are just walking heads. They’re up in their head, because their body is a warzone. And it doesn’t feel like a safe place. And I’ve watched a person like that, who, when you initially start talking to them about tracking their body, they look at you like you have two heads. They don’t even know that that’s possible. So I’ve watched people with the worst kind of trauma history that other people don’t even understand happens to people — and I’ve watched someone of that level learn how to track their body. And those are the people who need it the most. So it is possible for anybody.
I think, again, one thing that gets in the way is a lot of our ‘shoulds,’ which I could speak on all day long. But imagine two people are having an uncomfortable conversation. And you know, Person A knows they need to stop and track their body. They’re starting to feel overwhelmed. They’re starting to feel dysregulated. But they’re not leaving. They’re not taking a timeout, because they don’t want to disrespect the conversation. They don’t want to disrespect their partner. And they know that if they leave, their partner might think that they are being broken up with. But it’s very easy to switch the normal timeout that a lot of people do, which is like, “Screw you!” And stopping out and slamming the door — shifting that to what I would call a proper timeout, where you just say, “Look, I’m getting overwhelmed,” or, “I need to sit with a feeling. I still care about you. I’ll come back in 10 minutes, an hour, whatever I need. I’m not disrespecting you or the conversation. I will come back.” And now they leave, and give themselves some space, maybe do some deep breathing so they can get back in their parasympathetic nervous system. And then take that moment to just slow down, get in their body, notice the feelings, and then notice the thoughts that come up. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes in the moment where our partner is just talking at us rapid fire, we just cannot have enough space to know how we’re feeling. So that’s one way to start to track your body, but everybody can do it.
Karen Yates: That’s heartening. That’s heartening. I really appreciated this book, “Open Deeply.” For folks, no matter where you are in consensual nonmonogamy. Kate Loree, thank you so much.
Kate Loree: I appreciate coming on your podcast. It’s a great podcast. And for those out there on their non monogamous journey, if you decide to get my book, I hope it helps you and supports you.
Karen Yates: To get the book, “Open Deeply,” through our bookshop affiliate link, and learn more about Kate Loree, go to the show notes. And, the holidays are right around the corner, and the Wild & Sublime store is fully stocked. Get totes, mugs and tees with our iconic cat logo. The link is in the show notes.
Wild & Sublime is supported in part by our Sublime Supporter, Full Color Life Therapy, therapy for all of you at fullcolorlifetherapy.com. Well, that’s it, folks. Have a very pleasurable week. Thank you for listening. If you know someone who might be interested in this episode, send it to them. Do you like what you heard? Then give us a nice review on your podcast app. You can follow us on social media @wildandsublime and sign up for newsletters at wildandsublime.com. I’d like to thank associate producer Julia Williams and design guru Jean-Francois Gervais. Theme Music by David Ben-Porat. This episode was edited by The Creative Imposter studios. Our media sponsor is Rebellious Magazine, feminist media, at rebelliousmagazine.com.
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