Panelists from our live December show in Chicago talk about aspects of nonmonogamy: communication skills; low-risk ways to begin; what not to do; and the poly community. This lively and thoughtful conversation deeply considers what it takes to open up your relationship. Plus questions from the audience.
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Wild & Sublime Podcast Transcript
S6E5 | Consensual Nonmonogamy–Is It For You?
Goddess Erica: So you have to recognize that there is an inherent privilege and marriage that socially we all accept. And you have to be willing to dismantle that within your own marriage in order to make space for the people that you’re bringing into it.
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 and comedy. 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. Our monthly Patreon supporters pay for or large part of our operating expenses, their contributions from $5 on up help us big time. Plus members get discounts on show tickets and merch and receive Wild & Sublime news before anyone else. And more interested in helping us spread the message of sex positivity. Go to patreon.com/WildandSublime.
Karen Yates: Hi, folks, welcome to Wild & Sublime in 2024. We took an episode off and that felt great. It gave me time to clean my bathroom and make cookies. Not in that order, though. bathroom cleaning always comes last. Now I don’t know about you, but I am really really planning on 2024 being better than 2023. I don’t usually say stuff like that. But wow. 2023 rocked me like a hurricane. And I don’t mean that in a Scorpions kind of way. I mean, really, it was a ludicrous year with a lot of health stuff. But I’m thinking there can’t be two years in a row like that, right? No, no, there will not be two years in a row like that. There were some cool things though. Like so many friends rallying around me when I was down for the count, which was amazing and incredible. And honestly, it made things so much easier to have so much love around me. People talk a lot about community. But when you are in trouble, it really is a thing that brings so much into your life. And that was the biggest takeaway for me about last year about all the people that care for me and want to see me happy and wanted to help out. It was almost i i will say it was a shock to realize how many people out there are there for me, and I hope you have the same in your life. Speaking of community, some folks see certain types of nonmonogamy as a community endeavor. And that is one of the many things we will be discussing today as our panel chats about opening one’s relationship. There were a lot of levels to this conversation for sure, which took place at our December 9 Live show at Hungry brain in Chicago. That show and this recording takes place on the tribal land of the Council of three fires, the Ojibwe, the Adamawa, and the Potawatomi nations. Now, have you been considering opening your relationship? Do you want more information in general? What is polyamory anyway and how to do it? What are the pitfalls? What about jealousy? Well, a bunch of these questions are answered as I engage with sex positive somatic therapist Elmo Painter-Edington, tantric, doula and empowerment coach, Goddess Erica, and therapist specializing in all things kinky and queer Jacob Penrod. Goddess Erica will be the first to answer my question followed by Elmo Painter-Edington. Enjoy.
Karen Yates: Can you just one of you basically just talk about the differences between what makes it ethical versus… ethical non monogamy versus non monogamy?
Goddess Erica: I’ve really been waiting to answer this question. I think that ethical non monogamy is a unfair misnomer, because it suggests that non monogamy is not ethical. If we are going to be applying descriptors to things, then we should also consider ethical monogamy as a thing.
Karen Yates: Okay!
Goddess Erica: Because nonmonogamy does not imply that you are doing anything that is wrong, especially if there is communication and agreement involved.
Karen Yates: Awesome. Awesome. Anyone else want to jump in on that?
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, I have, I have a lot of things to say about the ethical piece too. I’ve been saying consensual non monogamy for a bunch of years, I stopped saying that ethical for a lot of similar reasons. And I also believe that when we say when we use the word ethical, there are also some kind of assumptions that can get thrown in there of systems of ethics, that we’re not necessarily subscribing to like colonial ethics, religious ethics, even kind of compulsory, monogamy, ethics, patriarchy, ethics. There are some ways that these kind of sneaky systems of control can kind of come into just when we’re using a system like that and saying, like, this is ethical. And people have… I’ve heard people kind of get away with …get away with stuff or gaslight somebody in the name of Oh, I was doing ethical nonmonogamy when they were not being consensual.
Karen Yates: Hmm. Wow, great, great. Well, from here on out, this conversation will be consensual nonmonogamy. Jacob, what are…? Why do people start considering opening up their relationships? What are some compelling reasons that people think about?
Jacob Penrod: Yeah, so my background is as a marriage and family therapist, so we see a lot of couples therapy. And the most common reason that I see is a sexual mismatch. So either someone is into something kinky, or there is a difference in desire. So one person just desires sex differently, or more than someone else that is the most common reasons that I see. But it can be any number of things. I am a person who practices non monogamy in my life, just because that’s who I am and my relationship structures and some people realize that that is who they are 5-10 years into a monogamous relationship. And so it’s a inward desire that they’re practicing outwards. There’s any number of reasons that people could open up their relationship.
Karen Yates: Why would… what are some reasons other reasons that you see all of you that maybe are a red flag about why someone want to open up their relationship?
Goddess Erica: It’s definitely not a fix for something that’s wrong in a relationship. If there is a mismatch, it doesn’t mean that opening your relationship is going to fix the thing that’s broken within your relationship. So I think that when it’s used as a way to to placate another partner or to to fix something that’s not matched, it can become very problematically pretty quickly.
Karen Yates: And when you say placate you mean, like if the other partner wants to open the relationship, and you’re kind of going along with it? Is that what you mean?
Goddess Erica: Well, just like the the conversation earlier [in the show] with sex toys, and picking something because you want someone to do something, you’re expecting someone to do something. The same thing can happen with the way that you are arranging your your relationship, if you want to push the relationship in a direction that you haven’t agreed on, that wasn’t expected at the beginning, it can be kind of harmful if you’re doing it in a way that can be a bit coersive.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, I mean, it reminds me of when people are like, we’re having all these issues in our in our relationship. So we’re going to have a baby, like,
Karen Yates: Right, right, right, right.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Oh, that’s not gonna help! Like, oh, we’re gonna we have all these problems, that we’re gonna open our relationship. And it just makes things it brings up different stuff, as we’re probably going to talk about later. Opening your relationship just brings up different things to be triggered by attachment stuff that you didn’t know, were there before. And it can. Yeah, it’s not it’s not a fix. For sure.
Goddess Erica: I think it’s a level of complexity too. I like to talk about opening your relationship or beginning to practice nonmonogamy as if you are in a relationship and you are taking one-on-one classes. Opening up your relationship is advanced placement. You know, this is… you are you have passed all of this stuff, you have proven that you understand how to run a healthy relationship. And now you are exploring, being able to push the boundaries of what that actually means. And define that for yourself within your relationship, which is incredibly important.
Karen Yates: So what you’re saying is a couple needs to be in a very stable, secure place to begin doing this work or opening up a relationship.
Jacob Penrod: Mmmhmm. If I ever see someone who’s like, I guess I’ll do this, that’s a huge red flag. It takes a lot of work, you got to be committed to the relationship in the process. So just, this is a last ditch effort, or I’m doing this because my partner really wants it like, that’s those are all red flags.
Jacob Penrod: Yeah,
Karen Yates: Yeah, I mean, I do know people who are just like, I’m jumping into this without really understanding the complexities of what are involved. And so let me ask you, like what, you know, communication is always talked about is like, a main skill set that you need for being in any type of non monogamous relationship. I mean, I’m assuming you would agree. And what would you say about like, about communication in general? Like, what what do you need to build into a relationship or have in place to in terms of communication styles, what needs to happen around communication?
Goddess Erica: First things first, I think you need to be honest with yourself, about what it is that you want, what it is that you need, what it is, that is a deal breaker. And when you communicate, you have to begin with in a space of vulnerability, and also understanding that the other person may not be in the same place that you’re in. And so if you’re really committed to maintaining the relationship, you know, really having a sense of patience and a sense of, you know, being able to meet that person where they are, because that’s what a relationship is. It’s you meeting a person where they are in the meeting you where you are, and that’s where you agree.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, it’s very vulnerable. I mean, especially beginning in the beginning, it’s a very vulnerable process. And you’re getting to know yourself in a new way, you’re getting to know your partner in a new way. You’re having insecurities that you didn’t know you had, maybe maybe your partner is having insecurities that neither of you knew that they had, and it’s just yeah, being really patient being really gentle with each other. And being able to hold that space and be supportive of where the other person is at and supporting their explorations, too. I know what I think we’re going to talk about, I’m skipping ahead, nevermind!
Jacob Penrod: I would also say being able to put aside your own defensiveness, there’s going to be things that are going to come up around, I feel insecure, or I feel jealous, or this thing that you did hurt me, and to be able to hear your partner say that and receive it and not automatically try to explain why “I had the best intentions”, or “I did this.” That’s not what they’re saying. They’re not always trying to blame you. So being able to put your defensiveness aside and have a really healthy, honest, vulnerable communication is really important.
Karen Yates: One thing I wanted to talk about, because we can we can go back and talk about other aspects once you get inside being inside of open an open relationship. But one thing I think it’s important to say is like we hear a lot about polyamory right now, and polyamory, to me speaks of a very specific type of open relationship, which is one that has, like built out emotional partnerships, multiple emotional partnerships, but there is like a whole spectrum of non monogamy that I would love for you to all of you to identify, like, there’s a much larger space to play in around non monogamy. And can can you folks talk to that a little bit? Like what can exist?
Goddess Erica: So I’m guessing you’re talking about like, swinging and don’t ask, don’t tell? And…
Karen Yates: Yeah…yeah, yeah.
Goddess Erica: Yeah, I mean, it, it spans that. The, the best way to explain it is any way that you can experience a relationship with someone, there’s, there’s going to be a space for that. And so, you know, there are many different labels that you can apply to the way that you’re practicing your relationship. And also the way that people apply those relationships in their individual or the apply those labels in their individual relationships, very varies from their individual understanding of what that is, varies from their individual agreements they have within and their with a relationship. So, you know, we can talk about swinging, we can talk about, you know, polyamory we can talk about having friends with benefits, we can talk about, you know, all of those different things, but we could be here all night.
Karen Yates: Right, right. But there’s also you know, types of relationships that don’t even necessarily skew toward purely sexual. You know, there’s there’s relationships between people who may be asexual and just enjoy companionship, that can be a different type of relationship Correct?
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah. And kink dynamics to like nonsexual kink dynamics if you’re in D/s relationship with someone or if you’re just exploring the whole universe of kinky adventures, and there’s not necessarily a romantic or sexual component there. But there’s still that still falls under the non monogamy or can still fall under the non monogamy umbrella. And having like, really deeply, emotionally intimate relationships with people and just kind of having, that’d be a little bit more normal thinking of like, queer platonic relationships and, like romantic friendships and like spiritual intimacy with people were a living kind of in the context of compulsory monogamy culture. There… can it can be a little bit more tricky to navigate those things without somebody feeling like something has been ruptured, or there’s possessiveness maybe. Or there are kind of some other kind of some of those sneaky, ethical things coming in.
Karen Yates: Can you describe what a queer platonic relationship could look like?
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yes. So queer platonic relationships are essentially relationships that are with people that you choose as a life partner, that it’s not necessarily romantic, but the intimacy, the intimacy and commitment is there, and they’re out there. And then there can be like, really deep emotional connection, really deep emotional intimacy, and it can be as important as romantic partners, or more important than romantic partners. It’s just kind of queering the hierarchy of relationships, like what’s more important, this romantic relationship or this platonic friendship? Just kind of making different choices and breaking down all those concepts.
Jacob Penrod: Sam and Frodo from Lord of the Rings, queer platonic relationship.
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Karen Yates: So people always– when I talk about polyamory with people– the first thing out of their mouth when if they have not wrapped their mind around polyamory they say “oh, the jealousy I could never do it” as if is if like polyamorous people aren’t jealous or people in non monogamous relationships aren’t jealous? Can you talk a little bit about the jealousy angle?
Goddess Erica: So I think that that jealousy and you know, I think this is probably the the example that that gets thrown around the the most often that you don’t see an issue with jealousy between your children, you don’t have a favorite child or you don’t have a favorite parent, or a favorite friend. And when you start to, and I’d actually like to kind of like peel things back a little bit and kind of talk about it from my own personal experience because something that I noticed after opening my relationship and beginning to explore polyamory with my my husband, and adding on partners and experiencing loving connection with with other people. It wasn’t necessarily the freedom of having additional sexual relationships, that was the most intriguing to me, the thing that was most intriguing was beginning to understand the depth of the other non sexual relationships that I had. And so I recognized that I have a life partnership with my best friend, I have a a romantic relationship with a very close friend. I have a deep spiritual relationship with another friend, I have, you know, BDSM-type relationship with people that is non sexual, and outside of those BDSM spaces. It’s a platonic friendship. And so being able to recognize that you can create whatever relationship that you want for yourself. That’s the beauty of polyamory. It’s not so much about like, having a hall pass. It’s it’s so much more complex than that. And when you apply it to the way that you see all of your relationships than it began, you began to think about jealousy a little bit differently, because yes, of course, you’re gonna be jealous, but you also find ways to work through that jealousy to recognize it within yourself. And then, you know, bring it outside of of you and, and communicate that that jealousy or those feelings in ways that are healthy and not harmful to your relationships.
Karen Yates: Thank you. Thank you. Jacob.
Jacob Penrod: Yeah, jealousy isn’t going to kill you. Any emotion isn’t on its own going to kill you, right. And so when I hear people say, Oh, I could never do it, because I’d get too jealous, it feels like, it’s just like a catastrophic fear that jealousy is going to, like, destroy my life. And when you’re actually able to sit with it, sure, it’s super uncomfortable. I don’t love feeling jealous. But I can move through it, I can sit with it, it can be okay. And I can if there’s things that I need from it, like I need connection, I need reassurance I can ask for those things. But jealousy in and of itself is just an emotion, it just is part of our experience.
Goddess Erica: And also, I kind of want to finger wag just a little bit, we have normalized toxicity and monogamous relationships, jealousy to the point of right, jealousy to the point of being like, you know, I just want to turn over tables, and you know, people will be like, I would kill my partner, like, use those words like, exactly. That’s, that’s very, if you actually kind of step back and think about that for a second. That’s not that’s not healthy.
Karen Yates: Right. Right. Thank you for saying that.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, it’s really important, I think, also to think about the difference between having boundaries between boundaries and control. I mean, if we think about the, the Jonah Hill stuff that just came out a couple of months ago, where he that his partner at the time, like released this text that he sent with his boundaries, that said things like, you, I don’t want you to wear certain things, I don’t want you to hang out or spend time with this person, or this person, or I don’t want you don’t work as a model anymore. Some, you know, like, and like, these are my boundaries, and it’s like, oh, he needs to fire his therapist, like if he thinks that’s what boundaries are. So like, it’s really, really important to, to be able to sort through those things like are we like boundaries are for me, like my personal safety, my personal health, and like, you know, if somebody is not going to be respecting my boundaries, that’s my, it’s up to me to choose if I want to stay in that relationship or not in that situation, or not? And or, like, maybe we need to just change the dynamics. So for example, in polyamory, a boundary is, you know, if you’re gonna, like, have sex with someone, or if like, unprotected sex happens, do I need to know that and that’s because that’s for my health, that’s for my personal health. And then, you know, for if that happens, then, okay, we wait, you get tested, we figure it out. And then if this person keeps doing that, and it’s, you know, then it’s up to me to to decide if I’m going to stay with that person or not because of that risk to me. But a control would be, I can’t trust you. So you have to be you. You can’t hang out with your ex anymore. Like, you can’t do XYZ anymore. You can’t go to the club anymore. That’s controlling behavior. So it’s really important to differentiate between those two things.
Karen Yates: It’s interesting listening to Goddess Erica and you Elmo, like one of the one of the things that came into my mind is, we still have to get out from under this idea of possession– that we possess, even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, that you possess your partner. I mean, a lot of times on social media, I’ll see someone say, Oh, this is me and my guy, or this is me and my gal, and it’s like, there’s a part of me it’s like, it’s like, Do you own them? Are they yours? You know, but, but I mean, I think that that’s that kind of insidious stuff we’re talking about.
Goddess Erica: Can we talk about how monogamy the way it’s practiced right now is low key to kink?
Karen Yates: Oh, sure. Let’s go there.
Goddess Erica: Oh, my God. If we were to have a nonmonogamy, though, the way that I kind of described it as like relationships or relationships, this is how they are. If we were to have that as the the level set, the normal, right? I don’t belong to my husband, and he doesn’t belong to me. And so any rules about how I engage with other people are our rules. And rules are things that kinky people apply to each other and agree on. And so if my rule is I’m going to pretend that I’m not attracted to other people, [laughter] and I’m going to ignore all advances of other people. That’s–in the world. that I come from–that’s something that I put on a, you know, a protocol document, and someone has to agree on. And so I think that what we’ve kind of socially kind of agreed upon is that that compulsory monogamy, the way that currently exist is just a kink that everybody’s kind of practicing because we don’t belong to other people. We are all free individuals.
Karen Yates: You’re laying down some wisdom. Right on. Right on. So final question: how, if a couple is interested in beginning to, you know, start, they’re starting to move down the line? And maybe they have had some conversations and say, Okay, let’s do this. Is there a period of experimentation that can exist for people? Like how do most people just jump in and then splat! you know, they land? Like, they’re, they’ve, they think they’re going to fly out the window, but then they dropped to the ground, but like, what? I’m not talking about anyone I know. But like, what, what like, can there be an interim period? Like wha? Help me out.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Like diet poly?
Karen Yates: What did you say diet? Oh, yeah. Poly.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Poly flavored Lacroix.
Karen Yates: Yeah. [laughter]
Elmo Painter-Edington: That was a joke. I cannot take credit for that. But that was Stephen’s joke. But the so I don’t know if there’s like because it, it’s so everybody’s gonna have different stuff come up. One person’s this is easy. For me, it’s gonna be another person’s This is almost impossible for me. And like, you know, that’s across the gamut. It’s such a subjective experience. It’s such a personal experience. You might be doing something that feels like, you know, poly lite or whatever. And all of a sudden, there’s like a big explosion in your nervous system, or there’s stuff coming up in your relationship that so I don’t know, I’ve I’ve not heard of like, I mean, I don’t know if I’ve been poly for 20 years. I don’t know. I haven’t heard of anything. Y’all know anything?
Goddess Erica: So I think a nice like, try before you buy is just have conversations, you know, like talk about people that you’re crushing on. And it doesn’t even have to be like the coworker, it can be the celebrity, it can be someone that you know, you you’re never going to have an interaction with, you know.
Karen Yates: Nicole Kidman did this to Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut and all hell broke loose.
Goddess Erica: I mean, your mileage may vary.
Jacob Penrod: It does feel like a Tom Cruise problem-specific. [laughter]
Goddess Erica: But I mean, it could be as simple as you know, sitting at brunch, and, you know, talking about how you think the the person at the table across from you is attractive. You don’t have to take action. But I think that being able to, again, be honest with yourself and be honest with your partner, and really start to and this is we’re talking about monogamous relationships when we’re talking about opening up because there’s also people who decide this from an individual place. So you know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that you start together. But if it’s something that you are starting from yourself, then it has to be a conversation that happens pretty early in any new relationships. But I think conversation is probably the the first way to go, you know, you’re gonna lowball it, just talk about it, talk about it.
Jacob Penrod: I also think it’s good to check in every pretty regularly about the structure of your relationship, whatever it is, hey, is this working? If you’re together for 5-10 to 15 years, you’re going to be a different person from when you started the relationship? Maybe the rules you established at first, don’t fit anymore? Or maybe you’re have more flexibility, or maybe your needs change. So I reckon I personally recommend at least once a year checking into, like, how are you doing? How are things going do we need to make any adjustments. But if you’re trying out polyamory, nonmonogamy, maybe check in a little bit more often, every three months, six months, whatever works for you.
Goddess Erica: And I think that’s actually a really great way to try it is maybe put a time limit on it. Let’s try this for three months. Let’s try it for for six months. And if it doesn’t work, then it’s not for us. You know, like you don’t have to dive all and you don’t have to like strap on the bungee cord and you know, hope for the best. You can… Little tiny bite sizes, you know, doesn’t have to be everything you can? I don’t know.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, it’s really a good idea to go over your boundaries frequently because people are growing and changing all the time and relationships are growing and changing circumstances are growing and changing. So just kind of getting in there and give Are your boundaries a little jiggle? Like are these do these still fit? Do they still feel right? And yeah, just kind of remembering that nothing needs to be totally in stone forever.
Karen Yates: Right. People change people change.
Karen Yates: [to listener] The panel then came back on stage later to answer written anonymous questions from the audience. Okay, question number one. Oh my gosh, it’s a doozy. How do we deprogram all the messages we’ve received about monogamy once we’ve decided to embrace non monogamy?
Elmo Painter-Edington: Girl?
Jacob Penrod: You don’t? Okay, not fully, at least,
Karen Yates: Okay. Say more.
Jacob Penrod: I mean, like with any deconstruction, of internalized whatever, it’s always a process. It’s always a journey that you’re never done with. But I think just being in communication with others and yourself, where I’m like, Oh, actually, that is me trying to control you. That’s ownership. That’s, like internalized monogamy or whatever. Being in conversation, being really honest with yourself around you wants and needs all the like skills that we talked about, about navigating non monogamy work also internally for yourself as well.
Goddess Erica: Yeah, I think also just not personally identifying with any specific label or idea, and allowing yourself to be open to, to learning something new, and to dismantling something that you thought to be true or right for so long, because that can be a really world shattering process. And so giving yourself some grace, and realizing that you’re always going to be learning about things that you didn’t know, you didn’t know.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, like I said, before, I’ve been poly for over 20 years, and I even just this year, I’ve had like, the fucking doors blown off of like, things that I thought I knew about myself and things I thought I knew about relationships and stuff like that. I mean, you’re, you’re never going to be done unlearning certain things.
Karen Yates: Okay.” I’m married, and my girlfriend has trouble around feeling less important, because she feels hidden. But also, like, she’ll never catch up to the 19 years, he and I have had together and because…” Hold on a second. Again, I’m gonna read this whole thing again,” I’m married, and my girlfriend has trouble around feeling less important because she feels hidden. But also like, she’ll never catch up to the 19 years he and I have had together and because of the privilege merits marriage holds.” Thoughts?
Goddess Erica: The first question is, is she hidden? And if she is, then that’s something that that needs to be addressed initially, because that that’s harmful. And you have to recognize that there is an inherent privilege and marriage that socially we all accept. And you have to be willing to dismantle that within your own marriage, in order to make space for the people that you’re bringing into it.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, being poly is you mean, there’s a there’s a closet associated with that, too. I mean, you come out as queer, you come out as all these other things. And if you’re not out to your family members, and your friends and your community, yeah, your partners can feel like they’re a secret. Like they’re hidden. And it’s like, it feels like being in the closet doesn’t feel good.
Goddess Erica: And also, just give yourself grace. If you are in a an established relationship, whether that be a marriage or otherwise, recognize that there is a learning process and that you’re going to get things wrong. I personally can acknowledge that when my marriage was was opening up, that there were many, many missteps that we made, we considered hierarchical for a while, until we realized that that was harmful. You know, I remember being afraid that the neighbors would know that, you know, there was some strange guy coming in and out of my house, and having to dismantle those personal judgments and those expectations about what we have been privileged to, to kind of accept as part of the normalcy of a relationship. We had to really break all of those things down.
Jacob Penrod: In my relationships, I’ve told partners this as well, it’s, you know, a different part of my heart than the other other partners that I have do and it’s not to say it’s better or worse or more or less than those other partners, which is different. And obviously healthy communication. Is there something that’s hidden of course that is a huge part of it. But if it is just this, like internalized feelings of insignificant thing, what is unique about this relationship? What is special about this relationship that you don’t get from anyone else and really finding value in resting in that?
Elmo Painter-Edington: One of my favorite metaphors for comparison is like, do you compare a bamboo tree to a pine tree, and like, these relationships are so different, like my relationship with this person is very different than my relationship with this person. And it’s, there’s no, this one’s better than the other. They’re just very different experiences. And I have, there are different aspects of myself that come alive and different relationships. And I think that’s true for everybody, like our friendships, our families, our partners, our kids.
Goddess Erica: And I also think that just I want to acknowledge the the time that the question brought up that, you know, this new partner could never catch up to the 16 years, I think that you have to think about it differently. Are you committing yourself to this person in a lifelong context, the way that you’ve committed yourself to your your other partner? And if so, it could catch up. And you have to kind of allow yourself to treat them as if it already has, if that’s what you’re committing to?
Karen Yates: Great. “What’s the best…What’s the best place to meet consensual non monogamous poly people, apps and non apps? In other words, in real life.”
Elmo Painter-Edington: Look around this room. [laughter] Who’s cute? Also, there’s an app called Feeld. F-E-E-L-D, that a lot of folks use. It’s a it’s a nonmonogamy dating app.
Karen Yates: There’s also… if you go on Meetup, which is, you know, a site that where you can meet like-minded people, like if you like to cook or whatever, but it’s also polyamorous the polyamory community in Chicago has a has a group and they do poly cocktails once a month. There’s like poly, various poly meetups that people can go. A lot of couples will go to the poly cocktails just to kind of check it out. Check out the scene without kind of like it’s one of those experimental moves you can try. So that’s, that’s another way.
Jacob Penrod: Grindr, Sniffies, the backroom at Cellblock?
Elmo Painter-Edington: FetLife
Karen Yates: Steamworks, Steamworks.
Jacob Penrod: Yeah.
Karen Yates: Okay, “how do you determine what needs must be met by any partner? You have versus needs that only need to be met by an individual partner?” I’ll say that again. “How do you determine what needs must be met by any partner you have versus needs that only need to be met by an individual partner?”
Goddess Erica: Ask? Just ask. You know, I love to have a list of questions that I ask before I start any relationship. And that’s not just a romantic relationship. It’s business relationships, or relationships with people that I’m planning to do something, you know, particularly involved. And the first question I ask is, or one of the first questions I ask is, how do we want to do this? How do we want to what do we want this to be? And that’s such a powerful question to ask, and one that we don’t really ask, and a lot of situations and it can be useful not just for romantic, but for any situation, how do we want to do this
Jacob Penrod: And if you’re trying to figure that out for yourself, one therapy, I’m going to plug therapy, but being really honest with yourself and saying, is this something that I need from all my partners, I need a level of openness and vulnerability but also like, I go on tangents, I have my own like special interest, I need all my partners to understand that about me Give me space for that, right that that’s a universal thing. Whereas what I need for my boyfriend is different from what I need from my serve for instance, like those get to be separate things. And that’s partly I learned that about myself through therapy and partly trial and error. Okay, I think I need this from everyone actually, I really learned this from you
Elmo Painter-Edington: And turning that around to you and that what are you able to offer like what do you have on offer and one of the most important skills for non monogamy is self awareness and kind of taking responsibility for knowing your own capacity right or your own relational capacity. Love is not an Love is an unlimited resource, right? Like we say that a lot and and polyamory but time, energy, attention and capacity are very limited for a lot of us. People have kids jobs, friendships, chosen family. Right and Just kind of knowing about yourself, what you have to give, if you’re somebody who really values your friendships, if you’re an introvert and order are divergent and need a lot of alone time that like, you know, you have to factor that into before you’re like, Okay, this is what I have to offer and kind of managing expectations. And that way when you’re starting something new, and knowing that discovering things about yourself, discovering these kinds of things about yourself takes trial and error. So, you know, being patient with yourself and being patient with your people knowing that we’re all kind of still figuring this out in some ways, and kind of just balancing that with Yeah, going to therapy and knowing what you’ve got.
Goddess Erica: And also, can we frame that question from a positive like, it almost sounded like a, someone feeling like the way that they are doing things is broken. I think that we have to, I like to think about the the way that we exist in the world, like we’re all kind of like disco balls, and we’ve got all these little tiny facets that reflect the world in different ways. And so different people are reflecting back to us versions of ourselves that are incredibly different. And if you look at that as as an opportunity, if you look at that joyfully, you will see that it’s not necessarily about like fixing How do you meet other people’s needs, but recognizing where you fit in context with other people and enjoying and and really not trying to shoehorn things but being at peace with where things are?
Karen Yates: Great. This is the final question. I’m solo polyamorous. I’m starting to transition out of it toward monogamy but feel weird about it. Like what… Like what to tell folks, both my poly friends and my mono friends. Thoughts, advice?
Goddess Erica: That’s interesting. And I think that I would probably ask the question, the way that we would ask if someone was starting to open up about their polyamory to after being outwardly monogamous is, in what context? Do we need to actually express that if you’re solo polyamorous and define that really?
Karen Yates: Yeah I was hoping someone would.
Goddess Erica: So I actually, I Google searched it this morning, because I understood what it was. But I wanted to double check that like my understanding of it, because I think that when you think about it, there’s lots of different ways that you can kind of understand it. And solo polyamory essentially means that you, you are a single person who is dating multiple people, but you’re engaging in a solo lifestyle, so you don’t have any entanglements with your finances. You don’t have a nesting partner, as we like to call it. You don’t have any other like, like life connections to another person. But one of the things that I wanted to kind of like issue as a warning about and and this isn’t to say that solo polyamory is necessarily like a bad thing. I think that again, we have to have like different ways of expressing ourselves and our relationships. But polyamory, I think is is this wonderful way of bringing back community to what has been a long time harmful, like compulsory idea of these individualized family units. And we are learning that that is not something that is healthy for for most people, that community is necessary that not necessarily sharing resources, but being able to share a time and connection and support is incredibly important. And so while slowly solo polyamory is, is valid and great. We also want to make sure that we are recognizing that, that it, it kind of can get down the same path as compulsory monogamy if we aren’t careful. And I know that wasn’t to answer any of the questions. But I kind of wanted to just get on my soapbox a little bit about that.
Karen Yates: Jacob or–
Jacob Penrod: This also doesn’t directly answer the question. I would be really curious to hear this person in the most like genuinely curious way. Why and not like why to say you shouldn’t or whatever. But how does this fit into your life story? What about your understanding of yourself has changed and grown and evolved? And I think with that story and understanding how this transition fits into your life story that can then shed light on how do I go I’m telling people do I need to tell people what context we need to tell people? I’m a big fan of narrative therapy as well. So really investigating that life story.
Goddess Erica: And also like, ask yourself, and I’m making a huge assumption here. So please, if this is incorrect, but ask yourself, are you no longer solo polyamorous? Or are you just practicing a monogamous relationship with someone right now? Because that’s incredibly valid, too, you can still be polyamorous and be in a monogamous relationship, again, like we just discussed earlier, like it’s a choice. It’s a choice to be monogamous. And when you recognize it as such, you can be in a monogamous relationship without entertaining the other options, if that’s what you choose.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, I’m curious about the why. So when we come out in any way, there’s a there’s a vulnerability there. And there’s we come out to people that we trust essentially, like, has this person earned the right to my story? Has this person earned the right to hear about what my intimate life is like? And if this person is afraid of coming out and being judged, then is that giving you some information about those friendships, is that giving you information about kind of some of these groups that you’re that you’re running in that you’re afraid of being judged by them because of what you’re feeling is true and right for you right now.
Goddess Erica: It’s an opportunity to assess your safety in the spaces that you exist in.
Elmo Painter-Edington: Yeah, that’s great. I love that.
Goddess Erica: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Elmo, Goddess Erica, and Jacob.
Karen Yates: Well, that’s it folks. Have a marvelously pleasurable week. Wild & Sublime is supported in part by our sublime supporter, full color life therapy, therapy for all of you at full color life. therapy.com Thank you for listening. Know someone who’d liked this episode, send it to them. You can follow us on Facebook Tiktok and Instagram at Wild & Sublime and sign up for newsletters at Wild & sublime.com. Got feedback or an inquiry, contact us at info at Wild & sublime.com And we’d love a review or rating on your podcast player. I’d like to thank our design Guru Jean-François Gervais music by David Ben-Porat This episode was produced and edited by Christine Ferreira at the Lincoln lodge podcast studio as part of the Lincoln lodge Podcast Network.
Click on guest name(s) for all podcast appearances
- Goddess Erica – Tantric doula and empowerment coach
- Elmo Painter-Edington – Somatic therapist and empowerment coach
- Jacob Penrod – Therapist specializing in all things queer and kinky
- Karen Yates – Sex educator, performer, energy worker
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