It's a questions we've gotten since starting the podcast -- can mono/poly relationships work? We're joined by Phoebe Phillips, author of the Polyammering blog and creator of the "Monocorn Sanctuary" group on Facebook. Phi shares her own experience as the mono side of a long-term polyamorous relationship as well as her guidance for people considering this type of dynamic.
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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we're talking about mono-poly relationships. We get asked a lot about whether it's possible for a monogamous person and a polyamorous person to have a happy and functioning relationship. To answer that question, today we have special guest, Phoebe Philips, also known as Phi, as a guest on our show to really get into all of this.
Phoebe, Phi, Philips is a relationship blogger based in Los Angeles. She chronicles her thoughts and experiences as a self-described mono mogul or a monogamous person in a polyamorous relationship at polyammering.blog. She also created Monocorn Sanctuary, a group specifically aimed to offer support to people who are monogamous and are dating a polyamorous partner.
Emily: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Phi. We're really, really excited to have you on the show. The first thing that we wanted to get to was the age-old question. I think the thing that a lot of people wonder, what they ask themselves, which is, can mono-poly relationships actually work? How do two people who have these really different relationships structures, how did they make their relationship together feel equanimous? How do they make it feel fair when they're not each dating multiple people?
Phoebe: Thanks for inviting me to come on. Yes, it can work. The thing is to keep in mind that just because it works for one group of people or a pair of people doesn't mean it's going to work for everyone. Just because any relationship works with one person doesn't mean that person is able to be in a relationship with anybody they want to be in a relationship with. It's really specific. There is a difference, I think, between being fair and being even. I believe in being fair.
If I want to date other people, I can date other people. He's not stopping me. My decision to not date other people is purely my decision and that's what's fair. I have the same opportunity to do whatever I want that he does. What's even is, “He's eating three people, so I have to date three people.” That's not really fair.
Jase: That comes up a lot even just within polyamorous relationships, that idea of even versus fair.
Phoebe: I think a lot of the stuff that comes up specifically in mono and poly relationships, it works the same way in just poly and poly relationships. It's just about the individual couple, whether my partner's other things that he does has to do with work, or a hobby, or whatever, it's just other relationships or other aspects of his life that aren't about me. I am comfortable with a person that I love having other things that they do that aren't about me. I don't have to be the center of everybody's universe.
Phoebe: The world might be a better place if I were-
Phoebe: - but I don't have to be.
Dedeker: I'm taking just a brief detour right out the gate here is, you've been the monogamous side in this relationship for a couple of years now, right?
Phoebe: Yes, about three years in September or so.
Dedeker: If I recall correctly from listening to you speak, you did have a period where you did try dating other people and you did try that on for size to see how that was. Can you just briefly just talk a little bit about that experience for you, like that journey for you?
Phoebe: The idea of ethical non-monogamy is the umbrella term that's not brand new to me. When I was, say, teenager, but when I was young, I dated a lot of people simultaneously. They all knew that they all existed, but I didn't really have that strong emotional connection with any one of them. The first time I fell in love, I stopped wanting to be with anybody else. That just happened for me.
I think that I just might be wired that way. I'm open to the possibility that that can change at some point. I have tried to date other people. I don't feel this draw to do it. The way that I am right now is just if it happens, it happens. I'm not going to try and sabotage. I'm not going to be like “Nope, I don't date other people.” If somebody inspires me to want to start dating someone else, I'm all for it. It's just so far when I'm in love with someone, I really have no interest in doing things with anybody else.
Emily: I guess touching on that a little bit, this was jumping back to where we were before. Do you think that it is possible for two people to come into a relationship and maintain the styles that they feel they're more accustomed to, even if they are really vastly different from their partners? With that, do you think that there are specific things that those people need to work on in order to maintain a healthy relationship structure, and is it different from a normal monogamous relationship or, I guess, normal polyamorous relationship?
Phoebe: Yes. It's totally possible because if you think about it, everything I need in my relationship, for me as a-- I say monoamorous because I distinguish between the monogamous mean marriage and I'm not in a marriage, so monoamorous just like you're polyamorous. As a monoamorous person, what do I want in my relationship? I want an emotional commitment. I want to have that one-on-one feeling with a partner when I'm with this partner. I have that with him.
Just the fact that he has that with other people does not take it away from what I have with him. It's totally possible for me to get what I need in a relationship and for him to continue getting whatever it is he wants or needs from his multiple relationships. There are things that you-- I think that these things help in poly plus poly relationships and mono plus poly relationships. One really specific one is the concept of the ownership of time.
I have to accept that his time belongs to him and I don't own it. Just because he sees me every Tuesday and Friday night does not mean that I own his Tuesday night. It's not my Tuesday night, it's still his. My Tuesday night is what I do with myself on Tuesday. I don't have other people I'm dating, and so generally speaking, if he's available, I want to see him. He has other things going on in his life and sometimes I have work things that come up or family things that come up that might interfere with it too.
The idea that everyone is responsible for their own time, but also for being respectful that if you've made plans with someone else, you don't cancel them because something else came up that you'd rather do. Unless it's an emergency, or you just completely unavoidable, you stick to the commitments that you made. Another thing that, on the mono side, really helps me with that specifically was I don't hold off on making plans with people to see if he's going to come through for me like, “Stephanie, wants to do something on Saturday, but maybe my boyfriend wants to do something on Saturday. I'm going to wait and see.”
I make my plans. If he's not on the calendar, I have no reasonable expectation that we're going to have a date on that day. I make my plans and I commit to my friends even if after the fact he says, “Hey, my plans with so and so and so fell through. Do you want to hanging out?” I’ll be like, “Well, I've already made a commitment to someone.” I have to be as respectful of my friends and my other commitments as I want him to be- the commitment he makes with me.
Jase: I feel like that's huge. I know that for a lot of people, first opening up relationships, or even just in monogamous dating at all, there's so much of that, of that like, “I can't make any plans with anyone until I check in and make sure that my romantic partner isn't free, or doesn't want to hang out.” That's so huge. Just taking ownership of that and also prioritizing the other things you have in your life besides just that one relationship.
Dedeker: I see a version of this in people come to me and they're like, “Oh my God. Two partners at once.? How do how does anyone have the time for that?" or like, "I can't even imagine it."
I think it's more of like people often come with this assumption of like, "Okay, I think of what a monogamous relationship looks like. That is, spending all your time together, or as much possible free time as you have and so that's just times two," and like, "Really? There's not enough hours in a day." It's like, "Well, no, really, in my life it's a lot more back and forth, a lot more negotiation."
The times when I was living in cities where all my partners were there at the same time, it's a lot of certain days of the week or switching off. Now it's more of like chunks of time kind of alternate. I think it's really interesting that on your side, even though you feel like you have this monogamous approach, it's still maintaining that of like, "No, my time is still my own," and like, "Yes, of course, I want to spend time with my partner and I have a drive to spend time with my partner." There's still the separation there which is what makes it work, I think it's really interesting.
Phoebe: I think as someone, I've said it before, I'm a recovering codependent.
Dedeker: Aren’t we all?
Phoebe: As someone who used to be in a monogamous marriage that it was so codependent and everything was about each other, it was a mess. Anyway, my husband when he passed away- people who follow me generally know that but brand new people, "Hi, I'm a widow." He passed away four years ago and suddenly the worst nightmare happened. I went from, my entire life was about this one person to, who am I? What do I do? What do I like that's not about him?
That's what started this whole journey for me. I re-embraced from when I was younger, I used to be really into kink stuff and the kink community. I came back out into the kink community and found, "Surprise, everybody is polyamorous in kink community." I was like, "I want to find a window who'd like deal with this." I had several attempts at dating polyamorous people before I met my current partner.
What I learned is that not everyone dose poly the same and I am not compatible with most of the ways people polyamory, I am compatible with this specific way. When I was able to let go of that need to be everyone's perfect partner and just find the partner that meets sense with the version of me that exist right now, everything opened up for me, and I was like, "I can do this." I used to have blogs about, I would never date poly again. I've tried this, it's awful. I was the big poster child for monogamy. I was like, "No, never again." Now as it turns out it can totally work if you find that right balance.
Dedeker: That's really beautiful.
Emily: Yes. It seems very like relationship anarchy. There are a lot of lessons from polyamory that you have taken and that help you thrive in the relationship that you are currently in, but also you don't have that entitlement factor. You're not on this relationship escalator with this person, you're creating the type of relationship that you want and it just so happens that it is a monopoly relationship. I think that's really awesome, it's the right way to do it.
Phoebe: I think when you had your episode on relationship anarchy, I was like, "Well, so that's me." I am deciding what my relationships need to be, despite how it looks to people, like what they're used to seeing, it's not the same.
Emily: Yes, definitely.
Jase: Related to all of these things, first of all, I thought it was really interesting what you said about how, when you were younger, dated lots of people. Then when you first fell in love, you just lost all the interest in dating anyone else or doing anything with anyone else. Then I feel like that is so much of the fairy tale narrative that everyone is told is going to happen, and for most people, isn't like that, or I would say at least a lot of people, if not most people. Doesn't work that way.
You're saying, "Well, maybe I'm just wired this way." It just made me think that so many people either they do feel that and if their partner doesn't, it's like, "Well, you're not as in love with me as I am with you," or if they themselves don't feel like, but they're trying to force themselves to feel that way, it's like, "Well, maybe I'm not actually in love," or something like that.
Phoebe: I think society does us all a disservice by setting this ideal for us all that not everyone's going to fit in to. The fact is, I met someone fell in love and didn't feel like I needed to have anybody else in my life romantically, it doesn't bother me that that person still wants to have other people in his life romantically. He's wired in a different way than I am and I accept that. Let's see. There was a time when I was very, very young.
I remember this happening when I was walking across the school yard in elementary school. The subject of cheating had come up, this might have been like the Clinton years. The subject of cheating had come up and I remember thinking, "Well, if the other partner knows about it and they're okay with it, is really cheating?" Even way back then, the concept of polygamy, the concept of ethical non-monogamy was like, "Yes, that makes logical sense. It's not cheating if your partner knows and is cool with it."
I've always had that. When I met someone and fell in love and didn't want to be with anyone else, that was my decision to not want to be with anyone else, if he had told me and he did the night he proposed. My husband had asked me because I had had a lot of sexual experience and he had not had quite so much sexual experience, and he asked, "Do you think once we're married would you be comfortable with me ever doing something with someone else?"
I thought about it for a while and I was like, "Yes, I think down the line if that's something you want to do, we can definitely talk about it." I said, "There are certain people that I would be probably comfortable with you doing that with because I know them and I know they'd be cool with it." At the same, I was like, “But if you're not having sex with me, I don't want you having sex with anybody else." I still need to get my needs met.
Dedeker: Right. Wait, he'd drop that question the night he proposed to you?
Phoebe: Before he proposed.
Dedeker: Before he proposed, okay.
Phoebe: Yes. We were at dinner and he brings this up because he was questioning like, "Is this the end for me?"
Dedeker: Wait, hang on, sorry. I'm getting into the weave of this one, is it like, "Right before he proposed or the day before he proposed?"
Dedeker: It just seems like such a funny moment.
Phoebe: It was this short version of the story. We had dinner, we were in London. He kept trying to get me afterwards, we got back to the hotel. Well, it was the flat that the we'd rented. I was in pajamas, we were watching Britain's Got Talent on TV. He kept trying to get me to go out for a walk. I didn't want to go out for a walk because I'm super lazy.
Then I was already in pajamas, but he was like, "Come on, let's go for a walk, it's really nice. It's really nice out." Finally in my pajama shirt, I put on a pair of jeans, grabbed a jacket, went like shoes with no socks and we started walking and he kept going, "No, a little further, a little further, a little further." We got to Westminster Bridge and we're standing there overlooking the water, there's not a soul in sight. The Big Ben strikes midnight and I turn around and he's down on one knee. It was hours later.
Jase: Got it.
Phoebe: He planned this all along. It was very romantic. Every time I see Big Ben and there's like, "That happened."
Jase: That's great.
Phoebe: I think, weird aside, it's possible that because of my experience as a widow, he's not my ex-husband, we didn't have a pretentious divorce, I still have love in my heart for this person. He's just not physically here. I think I can understand the concept of loving two people simultaneously. I just can't understand how you all do the time thing, but I get you can love more than one person at once. It makes a little sense to me, it's just I then don't want to deal with the logistics.
Dedeker: Well that makes sense.
Jase: I'd love to go back now to, you created The Monocorn Sanctuary, which this support group for the monogamous half of monopoly couples. On polyammering on your blog, you also talk on that subject and people reach out to you. I guess what I'm wondering about is not just in your personal experience, but from what you've seen with other people and collecting that experience.
Would you be able to give any advice about how someone would tell if mono-poly could be a setup that would work for them, or is that just like, "Well, one of us just actually isn't comfortable with polyamory, so we're going to try this instead," or that we actually we just want different things and we're going to do this because we love each other so much.
We get this excuse so often of like, "I'm going to do a relationship that doesn't make me happy because we love each other so much." How do you tell if it's not one of those two things, or actually is something that could work?
Phoebe: The genesis of the mono consensual is, I joined a couple of different polyamory groups on Facebook. Not too long after I joined them that the moderator teams asked me to join as a moderator on those groups. I was looking for one where it was just the mono halves of these relationships because a lot of times we have our things that we want to vent about, but we don't fit with the straight-up monogamy group. We don't fit straight-up with the polyamory group. We're somewhere like straddling both and not really fitting into either one, and I was like, "Where is this place for me?"
I found a group that existed, but found that it was mostly just people complaining about polyamory. I was like, "This doesn't feel right. I don't hate polyamory. I just occasionally want to grapple about something, that doesn't mean I hate it." I started it and it's grown. It's got like- I don't even know how many people right now.
It's a space for people who either are total- they're the mono people in relationships with poly people, but they're happy about it, accepting of it, comfortable with it, or they want to learn to be happy, accepting and comfortable with it. They don't want to just blame polyamory for all of their problems, so that they never have to face up to the fact that sometimes those problems come from within.
If you can be one of those people who says, "I want to be okay with this," then there's a really good chance that you at some point can be okay with this, If you just want to find a scapegoat, the entire concept of non monogamy, it's very likely you're not ever going to find that place where you can be happy and fulfilled in this relationship. It's not for everyone. Poly-mono is not going to work for everybody, but if you want it to, if you're willing to do the self work-- It's not just the mono person that has to do this, by the way, I don't follow people thinking we got to take all. They got to deal with some stuff on their own too.
It's about finding that balance between the two where you're both realizing you're both getting your needs met with each other, but you're not-- That was the big one for me. People a lot of times, they talk about that feeling of being enough like, "Why am I not enough for him?" or "Why am I not enough for them." The thing about being enough is that you don't have to be everything to be enough. That was my big like, "Ooh." The other part was when my partner and I were first negotiating, how are we going to do this thing? We started off as just poly partners, real partners, and then feelings happened.
Dedeker: As they do.
Phoebe: Those darn feelings. Up until that point, I was like, "I'm never dating poly again." Now I'm like, "Here, is this happening?" We were talking about it and I asked him, "What concerns do you have about being someone who's monoamorous?" His response was, "I'm concerned that I might not be enough for you." That was like this big light bulb went off.
I was like, "Wait, I thought maybe I wouldn't be enough for you, but you're worried about not being enough for me and the concept of enough is bigger than all of this." It's really about realizing that you don't have to be everything and you can still be enough. On the mono side, you can't make your partner be everything for you. I have to have other things that I like to do. He can't be my entire social life and the only support that I have. I have to be able to spread it out.
Dedeker: I feel like that's good advice even if you're in a monogamous relationship, is to not put everything on your partner.
Phoebe: It's still advice . That might be attempting, but I'm in a lot of poly spaces. Every so often, you get those the- what are they called? The evolved polyamorists.
Dedeker: About six months in a year, I think, it's usually when put at that point.
Phoebe: Yes, can be enlightened polyamorists. Have a chip on their shoulder about everything that has ever had to do with monogamy. Yes, there's a lot of toxicity in monogamous relationships. There's a lot of toxicity in polyamorous relationships. There's a lot of toxicity in relationships and don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Monogamy can work, it can be healthy. Most of the stuff that makes relationships work in a healthy way, work no matter how many partners you're with.
Jase : Yes, that's the dirty little secret of the Multiamory Podcast when people are like, "Don't you eventually-
Dedeker: It's for everyone.
Jase : -you run out of stuff to talk about," and we're like, "No, because relationships are just relationships."
Dedeker: Exactly. Because talking about relationships is recession proof as it turns out.
Phoebe: The way that I found your podcast was when I wanted to start a podcast because I felt like there was this- I had things to say about polyamory and I had been on the podcast before, and I was like, "I want to start a new one." I was doing research into other non-monogamy podcasts that were out there. I started to listen to you guys and I was like, "They're already doing it, I don't have to do this. They're covering all the topics-
Emily: Thank God.
Phoebe: -I would have covered. They're saying the things that I would say, I'm just going to join their Patreon and spent on stuff."
Dedeker: Wait, but now here you are. Maybe that was a long con try to infiltrate the podcast, dang.
Emily: Exactly. It worked. Well done.
Dedeker: It really worked.
Jase : Before we continue with the rest of the interview, we wanted to take a quick break to talk about our Patreon as well as some other ways that you can get involved in supporting this show and keeping it going. We actually met Phoebe through our Patreon community, which is amazing. The people in that community get to interact with her all the time and have been able to talk about some of these things more one-on-one with instant feedback, which is amazing. We love being able to give back and support that community and to encourage all of the things that people in our Patreon only Facebook group and our Patreon only discourse group are doing.
If you want to be part of that community, you can go to patreon.com/multiamory. There you can pledge a certain amount each month to this show and in exchange, you get to be part of this amazing community. At the $5 a month level and up, you get to be part of the secret Facebook group and you can be a part of our self-hosted private discourse group that we have on our site, where you can speak with other people about polyamory, or relationship anarchy, or mono-poly, or whatever it is in a space where people know what you're talking about. You can actually just be open and get the support that you need about those sorts of things.
Also, at the $7 a month level, we have ad-free episodes, you don't have to listen to us yammering on about all of this every week. This also come out a day early for you on your own private RSS feed that you get at the $7 a month level. At $9, we have a monthly video discussion group which is also awesome. That happens, like I said, once a month, and it's a really cool way to communicate more one-on-one, face-to-face with a lot of the amazing people in this community.
Emily: Our sponsor for this week is adamandeve.com. Our lovely, lovely, amazing Adam & Eve people that we enjoy.
They're our oldest fans, it's great. If you use our promo code MULTI, M-U-L-T-I, at checkout, then you will get a free gift, which is usually a sex swing. Then also free shipping and 50% off almost any item. That promo code MULTI is reusable, so you can use it in multiple transactions, which is awesome. As many times as you want.
Jase : Multiple sexual transaction.
Emily: Yes. If you want, yes.
Sexy transactions. Again, we also get a little kickback for that. If you want to help us out and get some sexy stuff, then go to adamandeve.com and use our promo code, MULTI, at checkout.
Dedeker: If you really don't want to toss any money our way, I guess I don't blame you, I know how it is, but you can still support our show, regardless. You can go to iTunes, or Apple podcast, or Stitcher, or wherever it is that you get your podcast and just take a moment to leave us a review. It should only take you a couple minutes. It really does help us a lot. It helps us to show up higher in search results, it helps more people to find the show.
Also, it helps more people to understand what it is that is valuable in this show. What kind of things can they expect to gain from listening to this podcast. Again, go to wherever you get your podcasts, write us a review. If you don't even have a couple minutes to write out a review, you can just leave us a rating on iTunes that's also super easy. Again, go to iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, wherever it is that will let you leave a review or rating.
Jase: You actually I only do that on Stitcher, or on iTunes, or Apple podcasts.
Dedeker: Fine. If you're listening to us on Spotify, then send us some positive vibes, or something I guess, everyone else.
Jase: Or might go to Stitcher and write their view.
Dedeker: Okay. Everywhere else, please write us a review. Thank you.
Jase: Lastly before we get back to the show, we mentioned this a little bit last week, but we just wanted to give another quick plug for our new podcast that just launched last week called Drunk Bible Study, which is totally unrelated to any of the staff that we're talking about here. Instead, it's just a fun show where the three of us are working our way ever so slowly through reading every single word of the bible together, which for Emily is the first time hearing a lot of these stories ever being raised, totally atheist.
It's really fun getting to share those stories with Emily as well as just actually reading all this thing that none of us have actually read every word of before. Anyway, it's a lot of fan. If you want some goofs and hanging out with us, take a moment to find Drunk Bible Study at drunkbiblestudy.com, or you can such us in Apple podcasts, or iTunes or Stitcher, or Google play, all the places where you listen to podcasts.
Dedeker: Oh gosh, it was so interesting. I feel like it's such a fine line for people. I know I definitely get this with a lot of clients who came to me, maybe clients who are struggling with their partner wanting to open up, or struggling with having fallen in love with a polyamorous person, or the flip side a polyamorous person struggling with having fallen in love with a monoamorous person.
It is such a fine line between, I have this self-ethicacy to see myself someday being okay and feeling fulfilled and feeling good and feeling peaceful with this versus, I'm trying to find strategies, every possible strategy, to just keep my head above water and just tolerate and to be able to grit my teeth. It's like I need to find strategies to get rid of the jaw pain so I can grit my teeth for longer, sometimes, I don't know, it's hard.
Phoebe: I definitely think going into a relationship with someone who's already established as polyamorous is a lot easier, I would think, than having a monogamous relationship that's opening up for the first time. That's having to end an existing relationship the way it was and start a brand new one, but you're carrying a lot of baggage over into it where you've got your short cuts already. When you're starting a new relationship with someone new, you're inventing it together, but when you're changing an existing one. I think it's just a lot trickier.
The thing about non-monogamy it forces you to do the self-work, it forces you. You don’t have to do it in a monogamous relationship because you don't have to deal with jealousy maybe so much. Jealousy I say is a mask that's worn by insecurity and fear. Jealousy by itself isn't a thing, it's just the way you're reacting to fear and insecurity. Having to dig into those things, that's the part that you have to do that's uncomfortable. If you're just trying to grit your teeth and get through it, you're not doing the work to understand it and overcome it, you're just trying to get through it.
Like, "I'm just going to hold my breath and hope that when I come up for air the air is going to be sweet," but the air is going to be the same. You have to learn how to adapt and that's really difficult to do. I think that's the difference between a monopoly relationship that is going to eventually find their way towards that happy acceptance place and the ones that are just going to constantly struggle.
Dedeker: I don't think that's necessarily unique to mono-poly because I know myself in my own polyamorous journey. I've been in relationships in the past where instead of doing the self-work, I've done the, "I just need to figure out how to grip my teeth," and I need to meditate every single day for two hours to just try to get through this and try to endure rather than trying to actually go through it, and actually sink into it, and actually see what's there. I don't know, I guess that is a human thing the lengths that we'll go to-
Phoebe: It's a human thing.
Dedeker: -to not have to look at ourselves, really.
Phoebe: I remember there was this one post somebody has posted in the poly-post mono-group once. She was the mono wife to- there was a monogamous marriage that had opened where the husband had gone on to be polyamorous and had other partners, and she was not, and she struggled with it. About the year mark from when they had opened up their relationship, she had this big epiphany and wrote this blog post about her journey.
About all the different rules that they had in the beginning, and there were all these he couldn't do this and he couldn't do that. Then overtime as it started to become a new normal and she's let go some of the hang-ups that she had been having, the fear and insecurity about other partners and all of that stuff, she ended up realizing that she had a lot of free time to pursue her interest that she had not had time to pursue before.
She learned a lot about herself, and in the end, she actually ended up starting to date somebody else. Now they're in poly-poly relationship. Now everybody is going to end up that way, but it took her about a year to get that point of acceptance. It's not something that can happen overnight. It took me three different attempts at polyamory before I found the right fit, it's definitely not an overnight thing.
Jase: Sorry. It just made me think just real quick. I remember years ago before I had ever been polyamorous or even heard of that term, in a unrelated conversation about relationships, I was talking with some people who are older than me and knew more about the world or whatever. One of them was talking about, I think, she was talking about- I don't remember it was anecdotal evidence or it was some study that she'd read about, but where they found that when men were in relationships, their careers tended to get better, and when women were in relationships, it tended to be the opposite. The idea being that for, again, stereotypically, for the women, it's like all your effort that was going into your work now goes into your relationship.
Phoebe: Over the mutual labour.
Jase: For the man, all the work that was going in to trying to date goes into your work. It was interesting when she told me this because my reaction right away was like, "I feel like I'm the opposite," I feel like during times when I'm single, I feel like I'm so much more productive and get a lot more done. Maybe I fall more onto the woman side of that. I think sure people could be either way.
I think what you bring up is really interesting, that idea of whether we are in a relationship or not still prioritizing the other things that we do like our work, or creative endeavors, or whatever else it is that matters to us and not just saying, "Well, now I'm in a relationship and society's told me that that should be more important to me than anything else, and so I'm going to give up on all these things, or start sacrificing the energy and time I spent on other things that fulfill me, because I should be able to get it all from this one thing."
Phoebe: Yes, I think that was a big one for me. I realized how laced with romanticism the concept of, "I don't know who I am without you." I'm sitting here now on this side of my life going, "I don't ever want to say those words again. I want to know exactly who I am with or without you. I know who I am. I need to maintain who Phi is."
Then other people can add to that. I had a therapist a long time ago who tried to explain this to me before I really understood what codependency was. There was the pizza analogy, and she said, "You need to be a basic pizza. You need to be a crust and the cheese and the sauce. The basic pizza exists. The people that come into your life are the toppings. You take the toppings away, you're still a pizza."
Jase: I love that. That's fantastic.
Phoebe: Well, just makes me hungry. I'm going to ask a question that I get from clients frequently. I thought I've puzzled over this myself. I feel like people who are in non-traditional relationships often butt up against this perception that surely one partner is taking advantage of the other, especially women who are dating men.
There's always that perception of, "There's no way that you could be okay with this, he's a horn-dog who's just trying to screw you over." Of course, in my life, it's really easy to rely on, "No, I'm doing this too. I'm dating all of these people." In most of my relationships, I'm the one who's pushing this thing. In the past, I'm the one who's pushed for an open relationship.
If you're proactively choosing to remain a monogamous while your partner is not, that seems like it makes it a lot harder to talk to people about it or to deal with people’s perceptions of that. I have a partner right now where he doesn't identify as monogamous, but he tends to maybe date casually. Since we started dating, he hasn't really hardcore pursed any serious emotionally intense relationships and he's happy with it being that way.
I've seen in his life him really struggling with people really pulling the like, "Your partner's taking advantage of you. You're getting screwed over," stuff like that. Have you found any good ways to talk about this for others who are questioning it and particularly using that angle?
Phoebe: Yes. There's a couple things. One is that I'm fairly unapologetic about my relationship, and the way that it is, and who I am about it. I think that if you put out that feeling of, "I'm not asking for your validation, when I tell you about the thing that I'm doing, I'm just letting you know about the thing that I'm doing," they're less likely to try to pass the judgment. Their questions are actually questions and they're not leading questions, like, "Well, don't you feel this way?" "No, I don't feel that way," and that's it.
The thing that I used to love doing, people would say, "I'm just worried that you're going to get hurt." That's a definite like, "So are you saying that no monogamous man has ever hurt me, because I'd like to run you through a list of my friends?" Anybody can hurt me. Dating is the most risk aware thing that we can possibly do. You're putting yourself out there, you're probably going to get hurt at some point. Being in any type of relationship doesn't entitle you to never having a bad day again, you're going to have them.
If you know that you're not being taken advantage of, then it really doesn't matter what other people think. You have to just know it in yourself and not need to prove anything to them. Eventually, they're either going to believe you or they're going to get out of your life, because that's just how I roll.
Jase: That is really so powerful, I think it's also difficult at the same time too, someone not seeking validation. Even if in the front of your mind you don't think that you are, there can still be these deeper emotional thing.
Phoebe: I used to have the lady that used to go to for waxing, and I think I talk about this all the time, and she always would say things like, "Well, but don't you feel like a side chick?" I'm like, "No." I'm sitting there going like,"No, I'm not a side of fries. This is not how this works." She asks something like, "Well, let's say he ever broke up with them and he was this with you. Would you still let him have?" I'm like, "No, no, no, no. Go back away. I wouldn't have let him have. He does what he does." It's like saying, "Would you let him have blue eyes?" His eyes are blue. He is polyamorous, understand this.
It's just a matter of reinforcing what you know and not letting people get those little digs in. They happen on the other side, too. I hear things about monogamy all the time and it's just like, "I don't want to like hashtag not all monogamy here, but-
-not all, just though it's not just this very simple. Just say, "That's not the way I see it. That's not the way I do it."
Jase: I guess building upon what Dedeker was talking about of people saying, "You must be being taken advantage of, or something like that." In running the groups and writing the blogs and stuff that you've done, have you found any other sort of common myths or misconceptions that people have specifically about monopoly relationships? These could either be from the like, "I'm from the monogamous world and I have these conceptions," like the one Dedeker brought up, or even, "I come from the polyamorous world, these are the misconceptions I have about Monopoly relationships."
Phoebe: One misconception that happens rather frequently, specifically in the Mono plus it's a poly plus mono group on Facebook is that people think that it's like a conversion group, like we're going to teach mono people how to be poly.
Phoebe: Yes. If people come in like, "It's weird." I love the at the other moms on that in that group, it's a really great team. One thing is that, and this is going to be the same misconceptions, they have a polyamory in general. My parents had a lot of questions about my relationship with my metamours, which I'm happy to say is a wonderful relationship. They're my best friends. They're all in my will. It's great.
They had a lot of questions about-- My parents didn't really want to talk about sex, but like, "What do you all do together? Is this happening all in the same room? How does this work?" There's just a lot of questions people tend to have about how the romantic parts of their relationships work like, "Where's the line between friendship and romance and all of that stuff."
There is their that there are a lot of people who have the one-penis policy types of things, where you have people who are in monopoly relationships, but the mono person isn't mono by choice.
Jase: I see. They're kind of being forced to be monogamous, you mean?
Phoebe: Yes. It's like you can be polyamorous with other women but not men.
Jase: You are actually not interested in women? Well, you basically force me.
Phoebe: Exactly. I think most of the rest of the things, it just has a lot to do with people assume that I'm jealous. They want to know how I handle jealousy. "She get jealous, doesn't it bother you?" No, it doesn't bother me. I get envious sometimes. There is, for me, a big difference, envy being, "I want that thing too," and jealousy being, "I want that and I don't want them to have it."
If my boyfriend goes out with his partner to a really, really nice restaurants, I feel like food compersion for them. I get really excited for them that they're having this amazing meal, but at the same time I wish I were at that restaurant with him. That doesn't mean that I can't go to that restaurant with him next week. There's nothing that I can't have in my relationship that I want. I don't even want to wake up to him every day.
Sometimes I want to wear ugly pajamas and fart. Sometimes I want to binge-watch Star Trek and eat on the sofa. I don't do that stuff with him. Those are my things that I do on my own. I'll just assume that like, "Oh my god, if your boyfriend's not there to entertain you, what do you do?" Whatever I want is the answer.
Jase: I love that too, for when the people post about, "We're newly poly-amorous and my partner is going on a date for the first time." I'm like, "I know this is scary right now, but trust me, you're going to love this."
Dedeker: You're going to love it so much.
Jase: I look so forward to just find a way, exactly, I can watch--
Phoebe: Do whatever I want to. I want to eat gross food and scratch myself and do whatever I want. I just want to be a human for a minute. I can do that with them but why? I have all this free time to do it without him, so it's great.
Dedeker: You wrote a blog post called The Honesty Exchange. I'm going to be honest. I sent this blog post like a Jillian of my clients. I only realized last week that you were the one who wrote it.
Phoebe: on a podcast.
Emily: Exactly, it were.
Dedeker: I feel so bad that we didn't give you credit earlier because it blew my mind. I was like, "How did I miss?" I've looked at the site, I've looked for your name is there on the site. I just didn't even just block that out, didn't even realize. I guess, first of all, thank you for writing such an amazing, fantastic useful piece out there that that I found so useful to forward to people. I guess for all of our listeners out there who don't want to read a blog piece, can you briefly sum up the concept of The Honesty Exchange?
Phoebe: Yes. This came up with a lot of people say, "I just want you know, you should have just been honest. I just want honesty." There's things about honesty that if you want honesty from your partners, you have to be willing to accept it graciously when you hear something you don't want to hear. It's like if I asked my partner, I'm trying to think of something silly like, "Did you like that meal I made for you last night?" Do I want him to lie to me because I've asked him to be honest? Like I said, "Did you like that steak or whatever it was that I made?" I didn't make steak.
"Did you like that meal I made last night? Be honest." If he tells me, "I hated it," that's really going to hurt my feelings, but I asked him to be honest. This is a two-part thing where part of it is, be diplomatic when you're being honest, instead of, "I hated it," you can say, "Well, it wasn't really the way I would have prepared it," or "maybe next time you could try something different."
The other thing is when someone then gives you feedback that's not exactly what you wanted to hear, thank them for being honest. That's the only answer you have to give, "Thank you for being honest." In that blog post, I said there is that, "Well, I think it was either Twix," I think it was a Twix commercial.
Jase: Wait, which Twix commercial?
Dedeker: Word choice.
Phoebe: I think it was a Twix commercial where someone is asked a question and they're like stuff for the answer so they shove the Twix in their mouth and it gives them a minute to think. For me saying thank you for being honest or thank you for your honesty, is that Twix I just shoved in my mouth, so like, "Give me a minute to think about how I want to respond to this."
Emily: I see, you need a minute-- Yes, I think I've seen that Snickers.
Phoebe: That's like, if you don't know what to say, and you just feel like all these emotions bubbling up, just say, "Thank you for your honesty." That's one part of it. The other part of it is, of course, being honest. The thing is that the more you show people that they can be honest with you and you're not going to fly off the handle, the more likely they are to trust you with continued honesty, as things progress. They're not going to be afraid to say something to you, because you're having a bad day, or this or that and the next scene, it's been three weeks, and they haven't had this difficult conversation with you and now it's a lie.
Dedeker: Yes, you've definitely been on both sides of that, for sure. The receiving honesty graciously part is so interesting to me because I find when I talk to people about it, there's definitely this-- I think there's this the assumption that we get from culture that if my partner tells me something that I don't want to hear, it's my right to be able to unload my emotions in that moment on to them. It's my right for them to hear exactly how it made me feel.
It's a fine line because, well, it's not that you want to tell people like, "No, you need to bottle up all your emotion, and your reaction, and your partner, and never tell your partner about it." It's the difference between hearing something that you don't want to hear and then unloading how upset you are about it, versus hearing something you don't want to hear saying, "Thank you for your honesty. I'm going to take a 20-minute walk."
Then coming back and then maybe you can tell your partner, "It was a little rough for me to hear that at first and it brought up these feelings. Now that I've taken a 20-minute walk, I've had these thoughts about it." It is this fine thing of getting people to understand that it's not about you don't get to have any reaction to honesty, but, again, I think it is just adding that sense of diplomacy on both sides.
Phoebe: Yes. You totally get to have your reaction. Have your reaction. Be mindful that the way you react it might inform how they approach you in the future. You want to set a standard where they're afraid to be honest with you because they're going to upset you so much that it's going to cause a big fight. Maybe the 20-minute walk is a better way to go about it. You can still share your feelings, you can still have them. Have all the feelings you want to have, but think about how you want to be seen, I guess.
Dedeker: Right, yes. Definitely.
Jase: Well, this has been a ton of amazing stuff. Just in closing here, could you give us what are some resources that you would recommend to people who are trying to make mono-poly work?
Phoebe: Okay, the big one that I would say is if you're on Facebook, there is a poly plus mano relationships group. It's a supportive group. It's a really great group. It was my entry into finding my people. Well, my blog, you should read that.
I don't know that there's a whole lot else out there right now. There are other people starting to get into the space and it's really exciting to see more people talking about monopoly, but those are the two big ones. With the Facebook group, know that that particular group is private, not secret. Which means if you're using your real Facebook account, other people can see that you're in it. We do not have any problem with people creating alternate accounts to join the group. You can always have that as an option if you're worried about your privacy or being outed or anything like that.
Jase: Great. Just where can people find more of your stuff? Where can they find your blog and links to all of your many communities and things that you're involved with?
Phoebe: You can follow my blog at polyammering.blog. I just created a Facebook page for polyammering. I can be followed now because I tried to keep my Phoebe Phillips page more personal and I don't want to be so public on that. Twitter @ohthatphi or polyammering. Just follow polyammering and you can reach all the other ones. It's a lot easier than writing down all these other things.
Jase: Perfect. We'll have some links to that in our show notes as well. All right. Thank you so much for joining us, Phoebe. This has been just fantastic.
Phoebe: Thank you.
Jase: So much good information. We're so glad that we finally got to have you on the show and your dream of having the podcast.
Phoebe: Yes, I did it.
Emily: Everything is coverage. Well done.
Dedeker: You believed and received it. You can achieve it.
Phoebe: Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your travels. Then when you get back, you're around the corner so we can go grab coffee. .
Dedeker: Thank you.