What is conscious monogamy? The term gets thrown around on many polyamory and non-monogamy blogs, but there isn't really a set definition for it. This week, we examine the nature of being conscious in one's relationships, whether you're monogamous or not. In contrast, we also highlight a few of the unhealthy forms of traditional monogamy, and ways to bring these qualities of consciousness into a monogamous relationship.
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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory podcast, we're talking about conscious monogamy. As our listeners know, on this show we give advice that applies to people in all sorts of relationships. Not just polyamorous ones or just relationship anarchist ones, but all sorts of relationships. That said, we usually tend to focus on a non-monogamous perspective. Since that's something that's less well known in the world. But for this week, we're actually turning that around. And we're going to focus on monogamous relationships. And how to build those consciously. And some conversations you can have to do that that can actually help improve any sort of relationship in your life
Dedeker: Yes. There's this term that gets thrown around a lot. And I know I threw it around in my book a couple of times and the term is conscious monogamy. When I was sitting down to do some research for this episode, it's funny because if you type 'conscious monogamy' into Google, every result that comes back is from a polyamorous website.
There's very few sites that are more traditionally focused or that are marketed or aimed at people in more traditional relationships that are talking about conscious monogamy specifically. Which I think is really interesting. I know Jase's mentioned that he's found the same thing with searching for other relationship escalator. Is that the same thing that you won't find a lot of sites that are more monogamously focused?
Emily: And do you think that's probably just because people tend to think that they already know what monogamy is and what it should be and what the ideal surrounding it are? That's why conscious monogamy isn't really an idea potentially in people's minds?
Dedeker: Yes. I think so. Because I think that we've been socialized to think that monogamy is just this default thing that doesn't require consciousness around it. Because everyone knows how it goes. And everyone knows--
Jase: Well, because that's the only option.
Dedeker: Right. Well yes. That's usually how we're operating is that monogamy is the only option. How could you even question it or qualify it in any way?
Jase: Right. That that doesn't need to be an emphasis on consciously choosing it because there isn't a choice. That's just how you do it. That's just how it needs to be done.
Dedeker: Yes. But anyway as far as--
Jase: We are going to get to that a little bit.
Dedeker: There isn't a set definition for what conscious monogamy actually means. And I think that it's easier to kind of chip away at it and examine it piece by piece. The first question is I guess, actually what is being conscious? What is the conscious part of conscious monogamy. I have my own background in meditation and Buddhisness.
Dedeker: That affects what my definition of consciousness is. But I think there can be many different aspects to being conscious.
Jase: Well, I think that a place to start here is that being conscious is the opposite of being unconscious or something being subconscious. If we're looking at this more from the way that the term is used in psychology, that consciousness means being aware of existing. Being aware of yourself I guess. This can also be applied to consciousness in terms of the way you conduct your life. Means, "Oh, I'm conscious of the fact that I have a loud voice." I'm conscious of trying to keep my voice down when I'm in a library.
It's kind of related to self-awareness a little bit in the way we use this. I would say our first part of this definition of what being conscious means is being aware of both external and internal objects. And that could be metaphorical objects. Like the loudness of my voice.
Dedeker: It could be like a consciousness of particular triggers that I have within me. Something like that.
Emily: Yes that's a good one.
Dedeker: That it's not something that controls me but I'm aware of it. I'm conscious of it. Big thing yes.
Jase: Right. Or like I'm conscious that I have an insecurity around this thing. Instead of being unconscious about it and lashing out with anger. Or trying to guilt other people who don't feel that same insecurity. If you're unaware of it.
Dedeker: Interesting. Yes. I think again coming back to my own background in meditation and in more Eastern philosophy around consciousness, it involves an aspect of being aware of the present. Of the present moment and avoiding obsession with the past or with the future. I know that it can be really easy to get reductionist and just be like, "Oh, it means just living in the present. And not worrying about the past or the future." Which isn't quite realistic for human beings.
I think something that's more accessible is this idea of just that you're avoiding being obsessed with the past. Like reliving the past or rehashing old memories. Or wanting to go back to the past. And you're also avoiding an obsession with the future. Worrying about the future, worrying about what's going to happen, getting really caught up in trying to make sure that your plans go through. Or make sure that your relationship turns out the way you want it to. Things like that.
Emily: Yes. Or that your past relationships also are going to dictate what your future relationships are.
Dedeker: Right. Yes being obsessed with what happened in past relationships also.
Emily: Yes, because I've definitely been in past relationships and I'm like, "Well, I guess it's probably going to go the same way on this one." Or that it's something that I'm consciously looking out for at all times. So that's a good thing that--
Jase: I could also see this applying to being too future-focused of-- Well, I know that this relationship's going to be fine. I'm going to put up with it being really shitty right now. [laughs] Kind of with this-
Dedeker: It's interesting. That's an interesting way of looking at it.
Jase: -idea that just somehow it's going to work out because that's what happens in the movies.
Emily: Yes. Now that's a good one.
Dedeker: Like putting more in the future. Someday it's going to be good so I can--
Jase: Yes. My happiness is in the future so I don't need to be happy right now.
Dedeker: Interesting. That's interesting.
Emily: And another aspect of being conscious is being mindful of your thoughts. Your emotions. Your actions as they come and go. And really not letting them overtake you. If you're in a position where you're really angry about something, to not let that just completely flood your life or flood the thing that's occurring in front of you or causing it to kind of overtake you.
Jase: Yes, or let it color everything in your life.
Emily: Yes. Absolutely.
Jase: You're angry about one thing and because of that you quit your job.
Emily: Sure your interactions with everyone around you is always colored by that one thing. Yes.
Dedeker: Right. I think the mindfulness of thoughts is interesting. Because is this idea that you can have a thought and you could be conscious of the thought. But that doesn't mean that you can believe the thought or believe that the thought is true.
Emily: I mean you're supposed to just observe the thought?
Dedeker: Yes. Like observing the thought. Because you can have a thought of like, "Oh, my life sucks." Maybe if you're having a bad mood or if you're like, I don't know. If you're feeling sick or something bad happened at work and you go and have the thought of like, "My life totally sucks and it's awful." But maybe that's not actually true. Maybe it's just I had a bad day. It's just I'm in a bad mood right now. It's just I'm PMSing right now. You can observe the thought without internalizing the thought I suppose. I think that's a big part of consciousness for me.
Jase: I found I need to be really aware of that when I'm tired. If I haven't slept enough for a couple days. I'll tend to get a lot more jealous or just a lot more sort of depressed about myself or I'll feel less motivated because I'm tired. Then reflect that on to my worth as a human being. I can get quite upset especially when I'm tired. And as I've become more aware or to put it in these terms, more conscious of that that has helped me to-- it doesn't make the feelings go away, but it at least helps me to realize I don't need to make any major life choices based on these theories.
Dedeker: Because that's not your reality necessarily.
Jase: Right. Then I need to get to sleep.
Dedeker: Right. [laughs]
Emily: Dedeker haven't you said feelings are not facts.
Dedeker: Yes. Well, this very much leads into the next thing I want to bring up is having an awareness of impermanence. Again to bring it back to the Budhishness. Which is very much a foundational belief that everything isn't permanent. But, really it is. Including your feelings. For instance Jase you're in your example when you're getting really tired. It's more likely to bring up these feelings of hopelessness or depression or negativity. Of being able to be conscious of like, "Oh, but this is just a feeling that's in this moment and it's going to pass."
Jase: That this is temporarily.
Emily: It shall pass. Yes.
Dedeker: It may pass in 30 seconds. It may pass after I've had a full night's rest. It may take a week to pass but it'll pass.
Jase: It just made me think of the David goes to the dentist.
Jase: Is this going to be forever?
Dedeker: Is this real? Is this going to be forever?
Jase: That's-- [laughs]
Emily: Oh, God. Wait,
Jase: [unintelligible 00:10:06] feelings.
Emily: Was that about [laughs] someone going their wisdom teeth taken out?
Jase: It wasn't his wisdom teeth.
Dedeker: No, no, it's a little boy.
Jase: But it was some kind of a dental surgery, I think.
Emily: Oh god.
Dedeker: Well, yes. He was recovering, he was coming out of the anesthesia.
Jase: The anesthesia, yes.
Dedeker: Also, Emily what rock have you been living under that you don't know that contents of David goes to the dentist?
Emily: No, I did, I watched a bunch of videos like that one I was about to get my wisdom tooth taken out.
Dedeker: Jesus, you're just like loaded up on David After Dentist videos.
Emily: That's why-- Yes. Well, those ones were funny and they made the thought of it not so scary.
Dedeker: That's nice.
Jase: That's good. Yes, future.
Dedeker: So, anyway--
Emily: It's about to pass.
Dedeker: Having an awareness of something permanence but this won't be forever, as David After Dentist says, but also that people come and go, relationships come and go, plans come and go. You may have really good plans laid out and they don't come through and maybe something better happens, maybe something worst happens. I think it's an awareness that just that that's part of the nature of life, that things are impermanent, that's wrapped up into being conscious for me as well.
Jase: Great. Okay. If we take that as sort of our working idea of what consciousness is--
Dedeker: Which is probably good to have in many arenas of your life.
Dedeker: Not just your relationships.
Jase: Not just for relationships.
Jase: But so now, let's start with the opposite. What does a lack of consciousness look like when it comes to relationships, specifically monogamous relationships?
Dedeker: So what is unconscious monogamy look like?
Emily: Exactly. It's this idea that if you come together and commit to being sexually exclusive it's because is how we were conditioned or motivated by the desire for security and thus the worry, or fear of aloneness or just blind infatuation. Any of the above that's kind of the idea of unconscious monogamy. Just so it occurs because this is the way that things are. We're being unconscious about it not being mindful of it.
Jase: Or out of fear like you are saying.
Jase: I'm so afraid of being alone so I'm going to do this thing.
Emily: Yes. Don't be with this person.
Dedeker: Yes. It kind of comes down to the motivation for monogamy. In my head, I broke it down to a couple different iterations of unconscious monogamy. A couple different categories that I feel that I see often. Either modeled in our media, or modeled among our groups of friends, or among clients that I kind of broke it down to this rough four categories of unconscious monogamy that I see and often people have it all mix together, sometimes it's not for fun.
Jase: I just want to be one of these.
Jase: Start us off with number-- part one, section one, category one.
Dedeker: Section one, paragraph A. I called this jealous/possessive monogamy. This is when you're choosing monogamy for the purpose of protecting you from feelings of jealousy. I think we confront this a lot in the non-traditional relationship space because they get to the core of people who have a hard time adjusting the polyamory, anything non-monogamous is like. But with monogamy, I don't have to feel jealous, which is not necessarily true.
People definitely feel jealous even in monogamous relationships but this idea of like, "If I'm monogamous if my partner's monogamous with me that I won't have to feel threatened. I won't have to have my insecurities triggered by them being with somebody else" and so it's choosing monogamy for the purpose of protecting yourself from feelings of jealousy. This is closely related to the nuance of more possessive monogamy which is I want to be monogamous because I want to tie down or I want to take ownership of this person that I'm infatuated with, this person that I'm falling in love with, or this person that I think is "a good catch" And as Queen B says, "You need to put a ring on it" [laughs]
Jase: Well, I didn't want to bring that up actually, the "If you like then you should have put a ring on it" idea is like the implication behind all of that is if you didn't claim me, if you didn't take ownership over me by getting engaged or getting married, that, then you're liable to lose me because I don't have any commitment to you, right, I don't have any commitment to this relationship unless this external thing has happened that has nothing to do with our relationship necessarily but we've given it this meaning.
Emily: Well, that's kind of the relationship escalator idea as well.
Dedeker: Yes. A lot of this is tied up into the relationship escalator stuff.
Emily: And a lot of people in monogamy do, kind of, believe like, "Oh, if I'm in this monogamous relationship with someone for x amount of time, then is just-- it's only the next possible step of being in a marriage with that person. We're writing the relationship escalator to its eventual death declining.
Jase: Well, and that-- this actually kind of goes into the next category of unconscious monogamy which we've called coercive monogamy and that sounds really harsh. But basically what this is, and I'll tie it back it in a second, is that coercive monogamy means you're monogamous because of pressure from somebody else. For example, if you're not monogamous with me I will leave you, or as a parent I will disown you if you're not monogamous with someone, or I'm not going to give as much inheritance if you don't have a family, like if you're not getting married and having a family, withdrawing my support for you emotionally all sorts of things like that.
This is tied to both that relationship escalator idea where I can't tell you how many times I've heard from people in a relationship will say things like, "Well, my partner and I have been together for x number of years, say 10 years, but he hasn't proposed to me yet or but we're not moving toward getting married yet and I'm thinking I should get out of this relationship even though I'm happy and then nothing's wrong". But it's this idea of this coercion, in this case, it's almost more societal.
Emily: Yes. Exactly.
Jase: But that could also end up being coercion from your partner. They'll go to their partner and say, "Hey, you know what, I need this next step in my life" because they are thinking that the relationship escalator is what makes the relationship worthwhile and saying, "I'm going to leave unless we get married." Not because I hate you and not because I'm doing this maliciously, I'm doing it because I think that this is what I need to do to be socially acceptable, to be a worthwhile person to achieve my goals in life, I think I have to do this." And so, they end up coercing their partner, either into doing it or they're breaking up the relationship because of these external factors that can kind of trickle down as well.
Dedeker: I think, I feel like we could do a whole other episode on this because coercion rides along the same line as maintaining one's boundaries. I think we've talked about this before that there's a difference-
Emily: That's an interesting idea.
Dedeker: -between, like if you know I want to get married someday, I know that's very important to me and you realized my partner's told me, she doesn't want to get married. Your boundary is, "Okay, then I need to leave this relationship in order to protect myself and protect what I value, I need to leave and find what is that I actually want." That's the ideal but often it manifest as coercion as in, I'm going to use my boundary to threatened my partner or coerce my partner, I'm going to go with my partner and say, "Well, if you don't want to get married then I'm going to leave. So, if you want me to stick around then you better marry me."
Jase: You better change your beliefs.
Emily: Exactly. If you come into a relationship thinking that you can change a person regardless of what their boundary or their belief system is then yes, that should be thought of as coercion.
Emily: They came with this pre-conceive notion of, "Hey, I'm not going to change my way for you. I don't want to get married." and then, you go and say like, "No, I believe I can get this person to marry me, I'm different."
Jase: Right. And the thing that's tricky about this is often you can get people to change, at least for a while.
Dedeker: For that kind of coercion.
Jase: At least for a while. Or it'll work but that's not actually going to make you happier. That getting the goal of marriage or of monogamy or whatever isn't by itself going to make you happy. What's going to make you happy is just having a relationship that's happy.
Emily: Absolutely. [unintelligible 00:18:51]
Dedeker: What's our next one?
Emily: Default monogamy which we touched on before, but again this idea that it's just the way that it's done. Its tradition, this is the only way that works. Anything else's not going to be a real relationship or it doesn't mean as much. But just that people kind of view monogamy as the way that it's been done for thousands of years and the way that it should be done and so that's what I have to do.
Dedeker: Yes. This one feels like the-- I feel like this is the perfect definition of unconscious monogamy because it's monogamy that is not practically or consciously chosen. It's just this is the way everybody does it and this is what's been expected of me from the moment that I was born and this is what I'm going to do. And, I think for all three of us that's very much the way that we were raised, was in this context of like monogamy's the default.
Jase: That's just what you do.
Dedeker: That's just what you do.
Dedeker: And I--
Emily: Well, and-- Yes, no, sorry, just that it did a lot of people come into polyamory or a non-traditional relationship and say like, "I had no idea that this was even a thing because yes, they literally have never heard of anything else before but default monogamy.
Jase: That was definitely me before-- It was a gradual process of different realizations of, "Oh, jealousy doesn't equal love", then kind of later on, eventually discovering polyamory and non-monogamy and that this is something people actually can do. For me, it was that. But for other people, it could be becoming aware of those things and still choosing monogamy, but learning how to consciously come at it as a choice. Which is what we're getting to as we move towards the second half here.
In the last category of types of unconscious monogamy is, I love this, is called magical monogamy.
Jase: This one's a little bit related to the jealous and possessive monogamy, but this one is this belief that there's something magical about being monogamous or about getting married or whatever part of the kind of social script for how monogamy works, that there's some inherent magic in those things that's going to solve your relationship problems, or solve your personal problems. Like, "You complete me." Henry McGuire. Right? That sentiment right there, I think is one of the most toxic sentiments that's ever been propagated into the world of dating, is the idea--
Dedeker: "You're my better half."
Jase: Right. "My better half" that somehow you're going to fix my problems, by being with me. Specifically by being monogamous with me, but by being with me at all. This can apply in either case.
Emily: You're filling this hole within me, this void.
Jase: This falls into things like where, "We have this really tumultuous relationship, and we keep hurting each other," but then the people in it will say things like, "But we love each other so much, so it's worth it to get to this point where we can get married even though we're really unhappy together." Or feeling like we want totally different things in life, like the examples before of maybe, "I want to get married and have kids and this other person doesn't ever want to get married." or "I want to start a home with someone and they don't want to share a house with somebody, they like living on their own, with their cats."
Whatever it is, it's the idea that, "Oh but we love each other so much, that somehow we're going to get past these incompatibilities." Which then ends up turning into that coersive monogamy or other things like-- or default monogamy. It can look like other things.
Dedeker: Honestly I think the most toxic version of this that I see coming up quite often, is just painting monogamy as the only way that you can truly attain intimacy or love. We've covered this on the other side of this where we talked about debunking this about polyamory and debunking the notion that polyamorous relations or non-monogamous relationships are not serious, or are not loving, but I think that this often gets fed into this idea of this noble sacrifice or being devoted to just one person. That's truly the only way to love somebody, that's truly the only way to get this magical love, intimacy, magic spell potion, whatever the fuck.
I think that that manifests a lot and I mean, for God's sake that's reiterated in every single love story and every single rom-com, in everything in our culture is this idea that the monogamous couple creates some magical thing. I'll be honest. I do think there are parts of love itself that are magical, but I think it's important to separate that out from monogamy.
Jase: Sure. I would go even a step further and say that I don't think--
Dedeker: I know you would.
Jase: I don't think any of it is magical, but I think it does feel magical. We can feel the feeling that we associate with that word of, "Oh, this just feels so magical. I had this magical evening." But I think it's a really damaging thing when we do believe that things have this meaning outside of themselves. That they have more of this cosmic inherent goodness to them, rather than just what's going on between those two people, or that group of people, or whomever.
Dedeker: To be fair, let's not be biased here. I think that that kind of magical thinking can infect people who are non-monogamous as well or polyamorous-
Jase: That's true. God yes. For sure.
Dedeker: -into thinking that. Because you're poly somehow you have access to more magic, or a bigger heart, or something, some kind of--
Jase: I think--
Emily: You're more enlightened.
Dedeker: More enlightenment or whatever.
Jase: I think everything in this list we just gave here could also apply to unconscious hierarchy in polyamory, this could apply to all sorts of things that people also do in non-monogamous relationships, whether they're swinging or polyamory or whatever.
Dedeker: Well, I do want us to get to talking about what actually conscious monogamy is, but before we get to that, let's take a quick break and talk about the ways that our listeners can help to support our show.
Jase: The greatest and best way that you can support our show, become a member of our community, get to interact with other amazing like-minded people who can share insights with each other, or even do a monthly video chat with us, is to join our patreon. If you go to patreon.com that's P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/multiamory you can choose an amount of money to support us with each month. This could be $5 we get you into our private Facebook group or $9 we have a private monthly video discussion group, that we just had a couple of weeks ago that was amazing.
There's all sorts of ways that you can work together with us to build this show, to help determine the direction that this show takes, and to help support us on doing new things like releasing transcripts for episodes, doing more live events, all sort of things that people have been requesting us for. This is the way that you can actually proactively come and help us do those things, and help us to shape the future of Multiamory going forward. Again that's patreon.com/multiamory.
Emily: Another amazing way that you can help us out, and many of you already have done this, is to write us a review on iTunes or Sticher. We are overwhelmed with the amount of people who have written us things but you still could help us out greatly if you do so because writing us a review helps put us higher in search results. If someone is looking for a great relationship podcast or podcast on polyamory, then we will become a higher search result just by you writing us a review. Take the time if you haven't already, and for those of you who have, thank you so much, and write us a quick review, hopefully, five stars, on iTunes or Stitcher.
Dedeker: Our sponsor for this week is audible. Audible.com is this great library of audiobooks. What you can do is if you go to audibletrial.com/multiamory.
Jase: This is very important. Go to audibletrial.com.
Emily: Not just audible.
Jase: If you go to audible.com, you won't get the special offer and it won't support our show.
Dedeker: Right. If you go to audibletrial.com/multiamory, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of an audible subscription. They'll give you a credit for a free audiobook that you can download, and best part that we like is that audible also send a little bit of a kick back to us to help continue to keep the show running.
Jase: Even if you don't keep going after the trial. Just for doing the trial.
Dedeker: Exactly. Even if you cancel the trial-- First of all, even if you cancel the trial, they'll still support our show and you can still keep the audiobook that they gave you. It's a win-win situation all around. Most likely if you're like us you'll probably keep the subscription, because it's great. You get a credit for a free audiobook every single month.
Jase: Or if you use it a ton you can upgrade your subscriptions so that you get a few credits every month. Yes, it's awesome. As far as a book that we would like to recommend that's relevant to this topic actually is a book called Designer Relationships. Do you remember who the author is for that one? I'm blanking on it right now.
Dedeker: Goodness. It's two authors. [inaudible 00:28:12]
Jase: But it's called Designer Relationships. It's not about polyamory specifically although it addresses it a little bit, but it's kind of about this idea about building into a relationship that's custom made for you, which we're going to be talking about in the second half of this show but if you're not sure what title you'd want to get as an audiobook, check that one out. Designer Relationships " and with that, let's get back into this.
Dedeker: What is conscious monogamy? We've laid out what consciousness is, we've laid out what unconscious monogamy might look like, how do we synthesize that? What is conscious monogamy? I think that a really important part of conscious monogamy is it being proactively chosen, as in not just chosen-
Jase: Not by default.
Dedeker: -by default, which is really not a choice at all, not just kind of landing in it by default. Not choosing it because you're put under pressure, or because you're afraid of feeling jealous or afraid of losing somebody. That it's proactively chosen by both sides, and that it's continually crafted by both parties. Which we'll get into a little bit more later on. As in that both of you proactively choose it, and you're committed to crafting the relationship to be what you want it to be. I think that's a very important part of conscious monogamy.
Emily: In addition, it is free to be scrutinized and questioned. It's something I think a lot of people do in monogamous relationships is they don't continue to kind of build upon the relationship necessarily or question, "Hey is this the best thing for us? Are we doing everything in our power to continue moving this forward?" If you continue to question it and scrutinize it like, "What is serving us right now? Can we make a change for the better, for example, what parts of this monogamous relationship do we like? Which part don't we like?"
I know we've talked about our monthly check-in meetings such as Scrum, but this is great for this because you can go back, kind of review the month, see the things that you really want to talk about or really want to work on for the upcoming month. Then continue working from there. Because yes, I've been, some of-- I think, when Jason and I started talking about like, what we wanted our relationship to look like.
That occurred sort of when we were thinking about polyamory for the first time. That was the first time we started really scrutinizing and thinking like, "Hey, is this the best thing for us? What kind of relationship do we want to have?" And so many people don't get that opportunities. It's really important to continue to do that in any relationship type.
Jase: Yes, definitely and part of the reason for that is that, conscious monogamy is customizable. That it's a relationship that's custom built for the two of you that are in the relationship and my favorite analogy for this is that it's like a house. That, on the one hand, we have getting this pre-fabricated house. You go to the subdivisions and every house looks identical. And I don't know if any of you have worked in house maintenance at all, but I did a little bit when I was in college but those houses are also built like shit.
Dedeker: Yes. Like the McMansion style.
Jase: Just sort of McMansion style.
Dedeker: They're kind of turned out.
Jase: They're all turned out, everything's pressed board, nothing is quality. It rots really quickly, they don't hold up in weather. You'll have, flooded basements. All these stuff. They look nice at first, but there's no quality to it and it's also you just got the one size, right? You show up and--
Dedeker: Like the one layout?
Jase: The one layout, the one way, that's it.
Emily: One size fits all.
Jase: That's taking the default of monogamy that might seem pretty at first, but it doesn't hold up because it wasn't actually custom built for you. On the other hand is, custom building the house. Where you have a Podcast recording room in it, which would be awesome.
Jase: That would be so cool.
Emily: [inaudible 00:32:25] those.
Jase: Or whatever it is that it's got in-set cabinetry or-- Right, I'm getting a little too far with my metaphor here.
Jase: But this looks like in relationships is, things like, if you take apart this idea that a relationship has to look a certain way or that that's the only way it's done, but instead, every single piece of your relationship is chosen by you because because you're the ones doing it. This could mean things like, living together or not, there are monogamous people who have children who don't live together and love that, or very happy with it. Or maybe you do want to live together. Either way, but it's the choice you made instead of the default assumption.
Dedeker: Maybe you want to live together but have your kids live somewhere else.
Jase: I know some people who would it like that. Right? And then, another part of that, aside from living together, or even marriage, or kids at all, that those things don't have to come with this relationship. You don't need those things in order for your relationship to be meaningful. It's possible that those things you could customize as well. We wanted to actually go into a little list here of some specific categories that you can have a conversation about and customize as it relates to the actual monogamy part of the relationship. Meaning, what does monogamy actually mean? And an important flip side to that is, what does, what is cheating then?
Dedeker: What is the bridge of monogamy? Based on the definition.
Jase: What it is we're actually agreeing to instead of saying, "I am monogamous", and then you might have some assumptions about what that means and I might have some assumptions about what that means. We have four categories of this. Yes, a list of four within a list of four. This is great.
Dedeker: See, he's very Buddhist.
Emily: Yes, exactly.
Jase: It is very [unintelligible 00:34:16] to do that, collapsing lists. Alright, so the first one is the one that most people think of, right away, which is sexual monogamy. This is my favorite question to ask monogamous people that I talk to. If I'm talking about doing a Podcast on polyamory and regardless of their reaction to it, I want to have a conversation with them where I'm not going to try to convince them polyamory is better than monogamy because I think that's their choice to make.
I don't think it's inherently better. I think it's just the choice that I've made and that, I want people to free to make. But the question I ask them, when they say, "Well, why would you do this Podcast and why would I want to listen to it?" Is this question is "Okay, with you and your monogamous partner, where is the line between what's cheating and what's not?" For example.
Dedeker: You mean, specifically right now, with sexual monogamy?
Jase: With sexual, with sexual monogamy is-- with physical contact, I guess I would call it, doesn't even have to be sexual. Is-- For some people, making out with their friends at a party is fine. And other people, that would be so like, "Break up right now, you've just devastated me, that's awful." For other people, having opposite sexed friends is not acceptable, counts as cheating, right?
Dedeker: Like having physical contact with any opposite sex, friends, cuddling or--
Jase: Holding hands with or cuddling with a friend would be considered cheating and for other people they were like, "What? No! Of course not, that's totally fine."
Jase: Right? That there's this whole range and actually having a conversation about what that means to you and what you are okay with or aren't, could also help shine some light on why you might think that. Maybe you would say, "Oh yeah, no, cuddling, that wouldn't be unacceptable." But when you're actually having that conversation about it, you go, "Oh, huh, why is that? Why would I be bothered by cuddling? I guess I wouldn't be bothered by that." Right?
Or maybe you still are, but either way, you've had that conversation. Because I know a lot of people who've gotten into some situation where they get into a fight over I flirted with somebody at a party, and now my partner is treating me like I cheated on them. Because-- But I can't say, "Hey we clearly said this was okay." And they can't say it wasn't but you're both just as hurt, possibly more hurt because you broke a rule without knowing it was there.
Dedeker: Right. Yes, that makes sense. I think another aspect to talk about-- That's the sexual monogamy arena.
Jase: Let's say physical monogamy. Can we change that?
Emily: Yes, physical.
Dedeker: Okay physical. Yes. Because it could be something like-
Emily: Not just sex.
Dedeker: -getting a massage or cuddling or whatever. Let's talk about the arena of emotional monogamy. I know there's been a lot of play around like emotional infidelity, and things like that. I think it is important to sit down and talk to your partner about what counts as emotional monogamy. Now for a lot of people, it means, "Well, you're the only person that I love, that I'm in love with, or that I'll say I love you too, in a romantic way."
But it can, you can take the conversation further by asking, "Well, what if I have a really close friend that I hang spend a lot of time with and like, we go to the movies together, and I confide in them. Is that okay? Or is that violating something? Would you prefer that I'm reserved those kind of interactions only for my romantic partner?" I mean, emotional monogamy could take many, many different forms. But for some people, it really isn't acceptable for you to get close intimate friendship with someone that you're not in a romantic relationship with and will more feel threatened by.
Jase: It reminds me of the conversation around having dinner alone with someone of the opposite sex.
Dedeker: Right. That came up with Mike Pence.
Emily: Mike Pence, yes.
Dedeker: Freaking Butthead.
Jase: Well, right. But this is a good example of what--
Emily: That the amorysts shows it's true colors.
Emily: [inaudible 00:38:15] exactly. That's fine.
Jase: But I remember reading an article about that that talked about some studies that were done showing that a surprisingly high number of people agree with that statement though. That having-
Emily: That that's somehow infidelity?
Jase: -either drinks or dinner, alone, with someone of the opposite sex counts as would not be acceptable.
Dedeker: Not be acceptable, right.
Jase: In a married relationship. What that is an important conversation to have of-- Well, dinner and drinks can look a lot of different ways. Maybe, it's not the dinner or drinks that's specifically the problem. Let's get clearer on where are the lines. Instead of just assuming or trying to make this broad statement-
Dedeker: Broad statement about it. Yes.
Jase: -that eliminates a quarter of the heads of state.
Dedeker: Closely related to that is this concept of social monogamy. I think this is really fascinating because, for some people, it's much more important for them to be perceived as monogamist than to actually be monogamist. This comes up not just on monogamist relationships but I think also in a lot of polyamorist relationships. When we see things like people not wanting you to post pictures with another partner on your social media or something like that. And also if you're not out of the closet, that might be understandable as well. We need to be perceived to be monogamists as a matter of safety with this particular concept.
Jase: Right. Or if you're a politician, like Frank Underwood.
Dedeker: Yes. That you need to be perceived at least socially, as being monogamist.
Emily: And straight, apparently.
Dedeker: But let's say if you only have one partner, you could-- It's still important to talk about this because I think this gets into realm of,
"How much are we comfortable talking about our relationship on social media? How much are we comfortable posting pictures together on social media? Is that something that one partner expects is going to happen a lot? Is that not very important to the other partner? Is one partner going to feel slighted if their partner does not post a lot of pictures, or tags, or stuff on social media?" And I think that--
Emily: Or say, "I'm in a relationship with X on Facebook."
Dedeker: Right, how important is that, were you Facebook official or not?
Dedeker: It is important to actually have these conversations in order to get clear on it.
Jase: Yes. Another part of that actually goes back to the idea of having close friends and things like that, and taking apart each part of monogamy and choosing which ones work for you. But it's the idea of things like work parties or family events of-- Does our monogamy mean that not only am I the only person you're allowed to take to anything like that, but also you have to take me to everything like that, or at least invite me.
Or is it okay to say, "You know what, I'm going to go spend my holidays with my family. You can spend it with your family, and bring along your friend or you know whatever it is." Is that okay in your relationship? That can also apply to this social monogamy, and also transitions into our next topic.
Emily: Exactly into our activity monogamy. I was going to bring that up. Some people think that if we're together, we have to spend holidays together, for example. But that might not necessarily be the case. But also like, "We're only allowed to go to this restaurant or we're only allowed to go to this play party or whatever it may be." But that you're monogamous through the activities that you choose to do with that person only.
Jase: Or that-- like I was saying that you have to do it. That if you didn't invite them to a work party, you just wanted to spend time with your co-worker, then that would be a betrayal.
Emily: That would be perceived as, "Really weird or screwed up."
Dedeker: I mean this activity monogamy thing, it doesn't have to be more toxic in the ways that I think you guys are describing. Because I think that if you are consciously choosing monogamy, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to say like, "Hey. This particular vacation destination, I love that that's our place. I love that we made all these memories in the Bahamas, and I love the idea of that being our retreat. Maybe we can go back every couple of years. I love the idea that that's something that makes our relationship very special." But just talking about those things with your partner and just having an awareness of it.
Jase: Well, I'll give you another more positive spin on something that I was painting as negative was like with the work events, for example. Which I think it falls into both social monogamy because it is how you're perceived and also activity monogamy of what you do together. It could be fair to say, "It's really important to me that I'm always the one you bring as your plus one to your work events or something."
In having that conversation, part of that could also be, "Well, then let's figure out some other things you can do with your best friend that I'll understand. Those are your events." By knowing that I've said, "This one's really important to me." I can understand that you might have other things that are important with other people, like other friends or things like that. That put a more positive spin on that one. That doesn't have to be a bad thing.
Dedeker: Yes. I mean, I feel like we could go on forever with figuring out what conscious monogamy is but I just feel like those are the most important parts of it, that it's proactive, that it can be questioned and talked about, that it can be negotiated, and that it can be teased apart essentially. That it can be deconstructed. That you can--
Jase: It's custom-built.
Dedeker: It's custom-built that you can look at all these different aspects of it, and handle each one individually. Rather than hoping that you guys happen to just come as a package deal and that hoping it just works out.
Jase: We just happen to have all the same assumptions about everything.
Dedeker: Yes. I think that's--
Jase: And also by allowing it to be customizable, allows it to change over time, especially if you're imagining spending the rest of your life together. That's a long time, and while it may not seem like that right now you'd ever want to change these things, you might. And when you're able to separate out all of the components that make up your relationship, you get to a point where, "I want to change some of the activities I do, or I want to change the way I relate to my friends." You can do those without it feeling like, "Oh God, we've now dismantled the whole thing."
Dedeker: I guess the idea being that if you suddenly hit the cabinets, that it's not like, "Well, I have to move out and leave you in this house because I hate the cabinets. Sorry, I can't stand it." We could be like, "Hey, let's figure out how to change the cabinets so that we're both happy with them." Basically.
Emily: Yes. Ideally, your relationship is going to be this dynamic, free-flowing, ever-changing thing. With that, your ideas of what you want in your relationship and what your partner may want are going to be continually changing. This way, instead of just keeping it static, keeping it one way forever, it can be moving with the two of you and hopefully growing with the two of you.
Dedeker: Right. Why the heck are people on a mostly polyamorous podcast talking about monogamy at all? I think that it should be clear at this point that so much of this can apply even if you're in a non-monogamous relationship. It really comes down to just having conscious relationships, in general. Because it's the same thing with non-monogamy. You could piece out all the different parts of that and have discussions about, "What is it that we like? What is it that we don't like? What is it that seems to fit the best?" Keeping multiple partners in mind, that it's bringing a sense of consciousness to your relationships, in general. That doesn't have to just apply to monogamy.
I think also for us, something that's very important is this idea of relationship choice. Coming back to talking about default monogamy being this possibly toxic thing. But if you're able to consciously and actively choose monogamy, that means that you have this freedom of choice, and that decision is much more powerful than if you just ended up in monogamy just because.
Jase: Exactly. Rather than taking away the mysterious magical-ness of monogamy, it's going to add to the intimacy and the closeness, and ultimately, the happiness that you feel in your relationships because it's bespoke, custom-built for you and not just trying hard to make yourself fit some other model of how a relationship needs to work.
Emily: And I still appreciate how many monogamous people have told me that they listen to this podcast--
Jase: And then their viewers too.
Emily: Yes. And that they get a lot out of it. Clearly, hopefully, we're doing something right. That it can be applied to every type of relationship, the stuff that we talk about on this podcast.
Jase: I think that when you really get down to it, monogamy and polyamory really aren't that different when it actually comes to relationships. It's really just taking a few of these little custom pieces we talked about and swapping them out. That's really the difference. It's not like this. We're not- [crosstwhole
Dedeker: A whole other schools of thought necessarily.
Jase: -an entirely different way of, "We like in hobbit holes, and you guys live in skyscrapers." It's not that different. It's just, "The cabinets are different," or "The floor is different," or "different number of floors" or whatever it is.
Emily: You love your house analogy right there, my God.
Dedeker: Loving it.
Dedeker: All right. Well, thank you guys so much for listening. If you would like to have your question or comment played on the show, you can call six seven eight M-U-L-T-I zero five. Just to reiterate we never have. That is the entire number. It is 678 M-U-L-T-I 05. We don't say the six seven eight just as a catchy lead-in. If you're an international listener, you can also leave a voice message for us on our Facebook page.
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