Are you suffering from a Monogamy Hangover? We'll give you a dose of medicine to help cure what ails you. Many of us have been given a set of relationship expectations growing up and with changing those expectations, some pieces of those old beliefs and expectations are still left over. On this episode, we talk about some of the topics that can affect non-monogamous relationships when you or your partner(s) subscribe to beliefs from normative past.
Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.
Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.
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Jase: When you're having not as good a day or when things have been a little more difficult, these thoughts can creep in of maybe this isn't a real relationship and I am more at risk of losing this than someone else in a more intertwined relationship, in a more entangled relationship who has more shared finances, who owns a house together, or whatever it is. Maybe they're right, maybe they are more secure than I am, and I am really going to end up alone like all of my friends or my family, keep worrying that's going to happen to me.
Emily: If you're happy with the same old ways of dating.
Dedeker: You enjoy sucking at communication.
Jase: And you have no desire to improve your romantic life, then our podcast might not be for you.
Emily: You want some out of the box ideas to deepen your current relationships.
Dedeker: Broaden your sexual horizons.
Jase: Develop a better understanding of yourself.
Emily: Or learn more about non-monogamy.
Jase: Then you've come to the right place. I'm Jase.
Emily: I'm Emily.
Dedeker: I'm Dedeker.
Jase: This is the Multiamory podcast. On this episode of the Multiamory podcast, we're talking about hangovers. All right, not the hangover that you get after drinking all night, but the residual thoughts and assumptions and habits and things that are instilled in us from a very early age by our movies and our books and our music. In other words, the outdated and unhealthy models that we're given for how relationships are supposed to look.
Dedeker: We felt that we would talk about this today, there was a thread in our private Patreon discussion group, specifically about what people are referring to as the monogamy hangover. We didn't quite want to just focus on that particular term for a couple of reasons. One of them like I immediately have a little bit of pushback on that term because I'm like, "I don't know how I feel about treating monogamy, like it's this toxic poisonous thing." I guess it's this awful hangover and it's super painful and it's like you just got to get it out of your system as soon as possible. I'm sure people definitely can experience it that way. I've definitely experienced it that way to a certain degree, but I don't want it to be just like this black and white, like monogamy is the bad thing that you got to detox from yourself.
Jase: I think using the term hangover for it is honestly a little bit weird because hangover, it's like, "Well, I did this thing the night before too much, like I did something to access and now the next day doesn't mean I'm not going to do that thing again--"
Dedeker: I did too much monogamy the night before.
Jase: It's just a little weird. I guess I get it.
Emily: I feel like with the Japanese definition of a hangover what did you say? It's a second day drunk.
Dedeker: The word is futsukayoi which literally translates to second day drunk, which is a misnomer. I think it makes a hangover sound more exciting and fun than it actually isn't reality, like, "The second day of being drunk, great."
Emily: I've had some really wicked hangovers, so let's not do that again.
Dedeker: I think we all.
Jase: Anyway, so we're not calling it the monogamy hangover on this episode.
Dedeker: Also, because Jase discovered that term's actually trademarked in the UK believe it or not.
Emily: That's amazing.
Jase: This company trademarked the term monogamy hangover and they have like, you can pay to do workshops or take their classes and stuff about it.
Dedeker: It is specifically like non-monogamy focused workshops and stuff.
Jase: From what I could gather, the company itself, they're not specifically like only non-monogamy focused, but they're like poly friendly, non-monogamy friendly, that's part of it, but it's a company that does relationship coaching and therapeutic stuff like workshops and those sorts of things. Anyway, so there's like technically a couple companies that jointly own this trademark in the UK. Because we're in the US, we have titled our episode that, but I'm also like, well, that's a specific thing that someone is selling and whether it's good or not, I don't know, like whether it's helpful workshop, I don't know.
Dedeker: I guess the lesson is just like, especially if you're in the UK, don't start making some t-shirts and selling them and saying monogamy hangover on it. I don't know why you would. Just don't do that because trademark laws.
Emily: Well, when we're talking about this at all, when we're talking about something that is deemed than monogamy hangover, or when we're talking about what we want to delve into in this episode. What does that entail exactly?
Jase: Well, I think one thing that we do want to differentiate here is that we're not just talking about stuff that's leftovers of monogamy after you've decided not to be monogamous, but we're more talking about it generally as if you've made this conscious decision to change the way you approach relationships and think about relationships, whether that's in a monogamous way, or a polyamorous way or something else, but you have made this conscious decision to like, "I'm going to step away from what society teaches me is normal or what's the standard thing of what you should aspire to what you should want." That when you step away from that, you can be like, "Yes, I believe these different things," and on a good day, that is true. This is about what happens, if things are a little bit difficult, or if you're doubting yourself one day, or you're just not feeling as on top of the world that day, these sort of like lingering ghosts that come to hunt you.
Dedeker: What if we zoomed out a bit and made a little more expansive, and it was more about a normativity hangover, because when we're talking about this, I realized this could apply to many other arenas of one's life, not just relationships. For instance, what shows up in my life, some economic normativity hangover of--
Emily: You have to be this well off.
Dedeker: After me making this much money, I should be aspiring to own these particular kind of things. I should be aiming for this particular type of career. I should be productive at all hours of the day, and my worth is measured by my productivity. There's definitely that kind of hangover where it's logically, I'm like, "I know that's not true. I feel really satisfied in my life. I feel like the things I'm pursuing are worthwhile," but those old feelings. That ghost of normativity past I think, can still come up and kind of ruin your day occasionally.
Jase: I think that for me that shows up in what I will now coin the term jobonormativity.
Dedeker: Get up and run with it.
Jase: Just go with it. Jobonormativity, which is this idea that you should want to have a normal full time job for a company that you're trying to move up in within an industry or whatever.
Dedeker: Climb that corporate ladder.
Jase: Whatever your industry is and I know that for me, my aspiration is to move away from that and I have been gradually moving away from that. People will look at me and go, "I worry about you that eventually you're going to end up old with nothing saved up and you're going to be living on the streets basically." They didn't say it quite like that, but that thing or that I don't own a house or whatever like Dedeker said, and that's not to say that I won't. I don't have quite those same aspirations. When I'm feeling down, I will doubt that myself because it's like, well, everyone else thinks this, what if they're right? Maybe I'm the one who's wrong here?
Emily: Do you think that all of those things are a product of our specific society like here in America because I know we may have listeners out there who come from different places that may have a whole different set of expectations or not exactly the ones where we're in the super competitive culture with one another and super, we need to live up to the American dream that we were promised.
Dedeker: Well, I don't know. My theory is I think a lot of these things are somewhat inherent to Western culture because Western culture has been so prolific and we'll just say colonial that that bleeds into a lot of other cultures that maybe didn't hold values that were that similar, I think. We could really get into the specifics but I think that's turning things into a whole other topic. I think there are parts of it that are uniquely American, but I also think a lot of it is just broadly Western, I would think.
Jase: I would bet that people listening and other--
Dedeker: Western capitalist.
Emily: Capitalism, I think definitely adds to that equation hugely.
Jase: I think that patriarchy is also a part of it.
Emily: For sure.
Dedeker: All the good things.
Jase: All the good things, yes. I think that there may be subtle shades are slightly different in other countries, but I feel like at least most countries where people would be listening to this podcast will at least be able to relate to the majority of this stuff here because I feel, like Dedeker said, that culture has so colonialized the world and impacted the world through movies and literature and TV and music and entertainment and then also just in those things like capitalism and patriarchy and all that.
Emily: Yes, it's very prevalent.
Dedeker: Well so, but to bring it back in, if our focus for today is the relationship normativity hangover let's say.
Jase: The ghost of normativity past. I really like that. That was good.
Dedeker: Okay, the ghost of relationship normativity past, TM, TM, TM. That's going to be what we trademark and we'll put it on out T-shirts and that's what we'll title our workshops.
Emily: Don't you put that on a T-shirt.
Dedeker: Let's start getting into the specifics of what relationship based or sex based lingering beliefs do a lot of us still carry, and again, this isn't specifically like those of us who are just choosing non-monogamy, but I mean pretty much everyone who is trying their hand at this whole adult relationship thing. What are some particular things?
Emily: I have one. The idea that you need to search for your one true love or just your one. The one or your soul mate, all of those things that we've seen in books or fairy tales or whatever. I was hanging out with a friend the other day and she's like, "Well, I haven't found the one yet and I don't know if I can have kids because I haven't found the one yet and I'm 32 years old. By the time I find the one and then marry him and have kids, I'm going to be 40".
Jase: It's just like a lot of assumptions, but it's like what you have to do in order to have the life you want.
Emily: Totally, yes. That's the thing that we aspire to. We talked about this a bit last week in the relationship goals, but I think that's a personal goal that a lot of people have in the back of their head always, it's like-
Jase: Well, like finding the one.
Emily: - "I'm looking for the one." Which is fine but also maybe not always productive.
Dedeker: Well, I feel so torn by it because I feel like, I don't know, I'm sorry. Honestly I feel like I divested in myself of any belief in soulmates and the one a long time ago. Honestly even before I was on the non-monogamy train, I was already feeling like--
Emily: Non-mog train.
Dedeker: That non-mog train and I was already feeling like, "I don't know about this," because it's like, "Well, statistically, how many people in the world and why is it that everyone's one happens to be like they happen to--"
Emily: There they are.
Dedeker: There they are.
Emily: They're right in front of me and wow.
Dedeker: They just happen to be the same-
Jase: It's destiny.
Dedeker: - the same skin color and socio-economic bracket and we just happen to be interested in the same job and they are the one. I was like, "I don't know about that." For me, because I was raised in a Christian home, it was much more wrapped up in this idea of like God has this plan for you. God has someone picked out for you. God's going to send this perfect man, this man who's going to be your husband to you and that's why it's worth waiting to have sex until you're married and that's why it's worth not dating around because you got to trust that God's going to send this stuff to you. For me it was a little bit less of this mystical thing and more like there's a higher power who is looking for your--
Dedeker: Yes, it's preordained.
Emily: See, that's something that I never grew up with so just all of that--
Dedeker: Did you get any kind of soulmate, one any kind of?
Jase: Soul mate training.
Emily: Yes. My very first boyfriend in high school who turned out to be a real piece of work and was really mean to me and abusive later on. Initially, yes. My mom was like-- I think just because it was going well and a lot of NRE and stuff and she's like, "Well, maybe you found your one already."
Dedeker: What? No.
Emily: I know, right?
Dedeker: No, Emily's mom? How old were you? Eight?
Dedeker: You may as well have been eight.
Emily: Yes, I know. I was eight.
Dedeker: I mean it feels just as ridiculous just saying 20 year old maybe you found the one.
Emily: No. I hear you. I agree. At the time I was like, "Wraps." Totally wrapped up in the emotion of it all because what freaking teenager isn't wrapped up in the emotion of literally everything?
Jase: Yes, I was going to say I would almost trust an eight-year old's opinion of finding the one more than a teenager because they don't have all these hormones convincing them.
Emily: Yes, I think that's fair. I've heard the term Catholic guilt a lot or like the guilt involved in like, "Well, you're giving your flower away to someone every time you sleep with them." I've heard that before like some sort of flower metaphor.
Dedeker: Yes, there's all kinds of terrible metaphors. There's a metaphor of like you're a piece of tape and every time the tape sticks to something it's a little less sticky and then who wants this--
Emily: What? I have never heard that.
Dedeker: Literally, I'm not exaggerating.
Emily: You are a piece of tape?
Dedeker: There's the piece of gum one of, someone chews up the gum, you don't want to take that gumout of their mouth and then chew it up yourself especially if it's been chewed by 10 people, you don't want to have that gum.
Emily: Holy shit.
Dedeker: That you're a used piece of gum one. There was one that I saw where a bunch of kids were stood up at the front of a classroom and everyone had a cup of water and everyone had a little bag of Doritos. Everyone ate a Dorito and then took a sip of water swish it out and spit it back into the cup and then everyone swapped cups and everyone was like, "Okay, take a drink of that cup. You don't want to, do you? Because someone's swish on it and spit in it. Well, that's what happens when you have sex." To a certain extent I'm like, "Well, yes--"
Emily: Wait a minute. Were these things that actually occurred in class?
Dedeker: This actually occurred, Emily. It actually occurred.
Jase: Emily's mind is melting out of her ears right now.
Emily: No, I have to say if I'm pretty sure if my mother ever knew any of that would have been going on, she would have taken me out immediately. That is some really awful shit to be telling your kid. That's all that they amount to is a chewed up dorito in a glass of water.
Dedeker: It also completely negates anyone's experience of being raped or assaulted--
Jase: Yes, are you fucking kidding me? I'm sorry.
Dedeker: There are a lot of assault victims who many years later did come forward being like, "I remember that piece of tape talk and well, I didn't consent to this, but now I'm a used up piece of tape or a chewed up piece of gum and no one's going to want me."
Emily: I'm so sorry.
Jase: The whole thing is awful, but I do want to bring us back to the topic. I feel like we've basically touched on two other topics that I think could be complete episodes on their own. I honestly think we could do an entire episode about the one and soulmates and that whole thing. I think that would actually be really interesting. I was actually just this morning writing some stuff about that and--
Dedeker: I did some research on that in my book about the origin of the whole one mythos or soulmate mythos and it's actually only what? Like 300 maybe 400 years old. No not even that old. It's actually a relatively new concept within our human race.
Emily: Renaissance period time.
Jase: And then of course, problems with the religious guilt and some other ways that's taught to us when we're younger whether we're raised Christian or not. That's still in the culture and is influencing people who are then influencing you. What I want to bring this back to on this topic is can you give examples of how these things would actually show up?
Jase: Like as this ghost of relationship normativity past.
Dedeker: I can give you one billion examples, but we don't have time.
Jase: Wait, one million go.
Emily: One billion.
Dedeker: Okay, number one--
Dedeker: The way that I've definitely seen it show up in my life and in the lives of clients and the lives of many other people is it really makes things fuzzy when someone's trying to leave a bad relationship because I've told myself the story of like, "Well, this feels crappy, but maybe this person is the one."
Jase: If I miss out on this then--
Dedeker: Yes, I can't miss out on this and this is either it's God's doing this to test us and to test our love, or it's something along the lines of like, this is just how it goes. It's like they're the one and so they're going to be worth every single battle, they're going to be worth every single obstacle. Basically, I guess I've seen it keep me in some really poor relationships much longer than I should have. I've seen a lot of people go back to really bad relationships because they think, "This person's the one." That's how I've definitely seen it manifest in people's lives including my own.
Jase: Yes. I think it can also show up as a sense of part of entitlement to someone else because if I feel this strongly about you and I believe you're the one, that mythology doesn't leave an option where you don't also love me. You maybe just don't know it yet. I feel like that can end up in maybe even the flip side of what Dedeker is talking about where you keep going back to relationship or staying in one. Maybe it's the one. It's also like feeling like you need to keep someone else in a relationship with you when they're not happy because, well, they're the one, so it's going to work out, kind of this, "I believe it, so therefore it's true."
Emily: Obviously the two of you are not particularly religious anymore in any sense of the word. However, I definitely have heard you be like the guilt thing has shown up at times in various ways or just you've been like, "Huh," at things because you've had religious upbringing way deeply buried in your past kind of thing. I thought that I've heard you talk about that.
Jase: On the show you've talked about that too though, Emily.
Emily: For sure. In terms of-
Jase: I think it's just religion that gives us some guilt about sex or about wanting it.
Emily: No. Again like our patriarchal culture and the Madonna-whore complex and all those things like, it wanting sex or wanting to be sexual or sexual in certain ways or whatever or anything other or anything that's not deemed normal. Definitely has a potential for guilt being attached to that.
Dedeker: That's a deep dive to go into. You brought up the Madonna-whore complex and connected to religious guilt and just general guilt. I think that what I definitely feel to a certain extent is pretty American from what I've seen but again that's not necessarily scientific. That's just anecdotal based on my experience.
Emily: As an American?
Dedeker: Is that sex is just a rife topic to feel guilty whatever way you slice it, and especially if you're a woman and whether it's like, you want too much sex or you don't want sex enough or the kind of sex you want isn't okay or you don't want to have the kind of sex that I want. That's okay. I feel like a lot of that is really wrapped up in just a lot of the cultural messages that we receive about sex or making sex like way, way, way important in a relationship. Where it's like, if we're not quite sexually compatible, that means the entire things off or if we're only sexually compatible in the rest of our relationship, we just get along as friends or maybe we're okay just being acquaintances. That's not okay. It's like the whole topic. I think people have many different variations of the old baggage and the old stuff that comes up, but it's often related to sex.
Jase: I think you touched on one that I've definitely noticed comes up a lot for people and has come up in my own relationships is that sort of equating love with sex. Being like, if you're in love you must also be wanting to have sex and having sex with your partner.
Emily: And greater sex too with that person.
Jase: Sure that too. If the sex isn't good, then...
Emily: Then they must not be the one.
Jase: They only back on the...They must not be the one, or well, we must not be in love anymore. This sort of equating of our sex life has fallen off. We must not be as in love as we were, that those things can get conflated with each other.
Dedeker: I guess that also builds into if we're not feeling NRE for each other anymore, then...
Jase: That's a good one too.
Emily: Ridiculous, like, come on.
Dedeker: I've picked up more of a cultural narrative around people accepting that it's like, those feelings of NRE do fade. They do turn into more bonding feelings and that's okay. However, when it comes to sex specifically, I noticed there's still kind of hanging on to this like, "How do we get the sex back to how it was when we were in NRE?"
Jase: So many things for married people to worry about that specifically.
Emily: Don't make your sex life like you are 20 again or something.
Dedeker: Something like that. I think there's definitely a lot of really wonderful intentional things that you can do to have your sexual connection with your partner be awesome. I think that you should be doing those things, if both of you are interested in sex, but there's still--
Emily: It's hard to think that you're going to be fucking two times a day, seven days a week. You might have been right when you met each other.
Dedeker: Yes exactly.
Emily: Nobody got time for that.
Dedeker: In this economy?
Jase: I think we acknowledge that and most people, when you say that, they're like, yes, of course, but I feel underneath the surface, a lot of people do feel a certain amount of maybe guilt or disappointment or like, "Oh, well, if I really was with the one like that wouldn't ever have gone down like that."
Dedeker: I think also related are definitely this idea of I need to be the best sexual partner my partner has ever had, and related to that, I need to be willing and able to do absolutely everything my partner wants to do in bed. If I can't, then I risk losing that person.
Emily: I'm going to be amazing at XYZ thing and super into this as well.
Dedeker: There's so much. It's really sad as I think back on like so much, so many kinds of sex that I had that I didn't really want to have. That makes it sound really bad. It's not that it wasn't consensual or that it was forced upon me, it was more of like, because of this narrative of-
Emily: I want to get the cool girl.
Dedeker: - if I don't do this thing that my partner's asked me to do, then he's going to be so disappointed that he's going to go find it someone else to do it with. Now I'm like, great, please do that. I think back then, even when I was getting into my first non-monogamous relationships, I still felt that way.
Emily: Again, it's like a competitive side also being like, "Shit, I'm in a sense competing against all of my partner's previous partners and all of the potential partners that they may have. I have to live up to that and step up to that." In acting school, so many people, they would tear you down obviously, but then a lot of the teachers would after tearing you down, be like, "You were enough. You don't have to try to be anything other than you. You were enough."
That might be ridiculous advice but I think it is true in these senses because even if you don't want necessarily the same kind of sexual things that your partner does, you have to understand you as yourself have amazing qualities that your partner is interested in. Even if it's not just for your ridiculous sexual prowess and all the anal that you want to do with them constantly or whatever.
Emily: Whatever it happens today.
Jase: Whereas the type of role play or a specific whatever.
Dedeker: I'm sorry. Or it's group sex or whatever.
Emily: I just watched Requiem for a Dream. That last scene is in my head, is all that I'm going to say.
Dedeker: Instead of talking about Requiem for a Dream, let's talk about that sensation of not enough or needing or of--
Emily: [sings] Has anyone seen?
Dedeker: No. This idea that I think starts to bleed over especially when people are exploring non-monogamy is this idea of you as you are need to be enough. Not in the sense of what you were talking about, Emily, of like, "Oh, you need to accept yourself because you're enough. You're good in your whole and you're valid," but more of like, "I need to be enough to fulfill every single one of my partner's needs," which is a path well traveled within these circles and these conversations about someone not necessarily being able to fulfill all of your needs. This so very present thing that people feel like they need to live up to. It definitely comes up.
Emily: Yes, it'd be best friend, lover, amazing sexual partner, confidant, mother, father.
Jase: Personal trainer, nurse, therapist, everything.
Dedeker: When I think about my relationships now, I think about my partners and each of them have filled that role at some point or another, but they've never been the only person filling that role in my life.
Emily: They've probably never done it all at the same time.
Dedeker: Yes. Let's say the therapists role for instance. It's like yes, I go to Jase a lot. I go to Alex a lot to talk about things and to process things, but I also go to our regular therapist. I also go to friends and family.
Jase: Then they don't have to fill that job completely.
Emily: That's really interesting.
Jase: Having friends to hold you accountable for things or whatever.
Emily: Can we talk about Mawage?
Dedeker: That blessed arrangement.
Emily: Mawage, who was it? Wallace Shawn?
Dedeker: No, Wallace Shawn was Vizzini.
Jase: They're talking about Princess Bride for those of you who are with question marks.
Emily: Come on, I'm sure they've seen that show.
Jase: There might be some people
Emily: There's still obviously this idea I think even in the back of one's mind, even if you're not practicing hierarchy that if you are married, it still holds a huge amount of weight in non-monogamous relationships and in monogamous relationships. That like, it is the pinnacle of all relationship statuses. Stati? Statuses.
Jase: Statu? I don't know.
Jase: Statums, yes. That's a great point. That again, this applies whether you're monogamous or non-monogamous but just this idea that it's not real unless it's marriage. I think what goes along with that too is if you've been married and have been divorced to that you're somehow less than now-
Emily: That you're in your second or third marriage or if you're in a relationship for many, many years and you'd never get married. It's not really like what are you doing, you're not really committing or I guess you're just holding out to see if something better comes along.
Dedeker: I was reading an interesting editorial recently that obviously like, our generation of Millennials are showing different patterns of marriage than our parents' generation. Namely that few of us are getting married. Most of us who do get married are getting married much later in life, post career or post establishing career or whatever. Some people attribute that to, "Oh, yes, values around marriage are changing." I do think that part of it is that. I do think it helps when you have women who are able to make a living for themselves and not necessarily dependent upon finding a spouse, but other people have pointed out that it's shifted now because of the economy and job opportunities being so bad, combined with freaking weddings being so expensive, but now for millennials, marriage has also become a status symbol as well. That's like you finally get to the point where you're financially stable enough that you can afford the house and you can afford having the marriage ceremony and all those things. It's a milestone, maybe that's always been considered a milestone, but in this much different way than it was for our parents, I think.
Jase: Yes. Going along with this, we'll just segue way right into the relationship escalator, and that's whether or not, it's marriage specifically, but this idea that in order for a relationship to be real or to be serious, it needs to be moving upward on this trajectory toward certain things being entwined with each or that it has to have these aspects to it whether those are sex that it has to have, certain types of sex, or it has to be living together. It has to be sharing finances. Even if we, the three of us who very vocally speak about like, "Well, it doesn't have to have all those things. I don't have all those in my relationships. Those aren't goals of mine in all of my relationships," there still can be this like, again, when you're having not as good today or when things have been a little bit more difficult, these thoughts can creep in of like, "Maybe this isn't a real relationship, and I am more at risk of losing this than someone else in a more intertwined relationship, in a more entangled relationship who has more shared finances, who owns a house together or whatever it is. Maybe they're right. Maybe they are more secured than I am, and I am really going to end up alone like all of my friends or my family keep worrying that it's going to happen to me." That's kind of what we're getting at here with all of this.
Dedeker: Yes. I definitely pulled the cohabiting one of, first of all, just assuming like all the romantic relationships need to lead to cohabitation, but I've also pulled the if I choose to cohabit with this person, it will make the relationship more secure which--
Emily: Sometimes that's the opposite.
Dedeker: Yes. From my experience, it does on a surface at the very least to start, but if it wasn't feeling secure before, usually that indicates there's more fundamental issues that are going to follow you even when you choose to start living together, "It was the painful lessons that I have had to learn over the course of my adult life."
Jase: It's not wrong, that it will make you more likely to stay together longer, striving together, is not necessarily wrong. There have been studies showing that doing those sorts of things that basically make it harder to break up do make you less likely to break up because of the troubles involved and the barriers to it, the sunken cost fallacies, what it's called in business. It's like, "Well, but I've invested this much and I've become this entwined so I should stick it out a little bit longer." All of this, it goes back to maybe something we didn't even put on our list here, but could belong there, which is that the marker of a good relationship is simply time. That idea that like, "Well, it doesn't matter if we're happy or not. What matters is that we last longer."
Emily: To go back to the religion thing, some people literally say like, "I don't believe in divorce," so even in a loveless marriage where I'm seriously unhappy and depressed all the time. I have friends who are religious who say this. They're like, "I won't divorce my partner because God does not believe in divorce."
Dedeker: I feel like that also gets connected to not even religiously specific ideas around--
Emily: Well, that can be like parents saying don't do this.
Dedeker: Well, the idea is selfish to advocate for your own happiness in a relationship. It's noble to suffer through a bad a relationship. Again, these things get foggy because to a certain extent, of course, you can't be advocating for only your own happiness in a relationship and not caring about the feelings of others so there's a little bit of truth in that. Then, also, yes, like you are going to have to deal with things being uncomfortable or there being conflict or disagreements or periods of discomfort in your relationship. There's a little bit of seed of truth to that, but then I think it often gets interpreted as extreme of if you're unhappy, that's okay because it's worth it to suffer through a bad relationship for the sake of them either being the one or making the relationship work or being able to squeeze an extra five years out of your relationship or something like that.
Jase: Yes, I was just reading some stuff earlier from The Gottman Institute earlier today about how it's normal for relationships overtime to go through hardships and difficult things, but what matters in terms of relationships being happy together, like people being happy together is how they think about those things, not just whether they got through them or not. It's how they felt about that experience. Was it like we together overcame this thing and it was good, or was it like it's still this thing I look back on as with shame or with a sense of failure or still resentment about this thing we went through. I guess, the point I'm trying to make here is just that while things aren't always going to be easy and fun, that just getting through stuff and just lasting longer is not the marker of a happy relationship.
Emily: What are the things that are really specific to non-monogamy when we're talking about all of these like hangovers that occur, or whatever? What do want to call it now?
All: The Ghosts of The Normativity Past.
Dedeker: The Normativity Ghosts.
Jase: Echoes of Normativity. That's going to be my album name someday, Echoes of Normativity.
Emily: People would be like, "What is the-- Okay."
Jase: It's going to be the crowd that it's for, they'll get it.
Emily: They'll get it? Okay. Well, that's good. What are those normativity echoes that occur when you're specifically in a non-monogamous relationship?
Dedeker: Well, let's talk about the ghost of hierarchy past. It's not about hierarchy specifically. If you all want to listen more in depth about our thoughts, and feelings, and philosophies about hierarchy, you can check out specifically the episode that we did on it. I don't have the episode number, so you're going to have to go multiamory.com and just type in hierarchy into our search bar, and you will find it.
Dedeker: Anyway, it's not just the hierarchy specific thing. For me, it was very much this long lingering idea of, well, whatever happens I need to be number one.
Emily: You're number one.
Dedeker: However that looks, whether that's being called primary or I'm the girlfriend and everyone else's a hook up or whatever else he wanted to call it, it was just I need to be number one, or I need to feel number one, or I need to be the most special out of everybody.
Emily: Was that with everyone? Were you ever in a position where you were like, "I am fine being the hook up to this person, or the secondary to this person"?
Dedeker: Let me think.
Emily: For a while, you are the primary and Brad and Jason and I were primaries, kind of.
Dedeker: Yes. I'm thinking more, more further back. I was okay being someone's hook up, but if they had a hardcore primary partner, I really didn't want to know about it and didn't want to get too involved.
Emily: What? Like a don't ask, don't tell lady?
Dedeker: It's blurry between like what was me specifically wanting don't ask, don't tell versus what was me dealing with the ghost of casual dating past and casual dating behavior. The assumption being used is don't talk about it.
Jase: I see.
Dedeker: There was that I suppose.
Emily: That makes sense.
Jase: I feel like this one actually may be one of the most malignant ghosts, that is really hard to get rid of is this idea that non-monogamy is so all fine and philosophically. I get it and it's all great, but I still want to be the best. I still want to be the most important person to this person.
Emily: I still want to be special.
Dedeker: I want to be the very best like no one ever was.
Jase: I guess that and something that I feel that comes up a lot in stuff people mention in their private Patreon group, or just their own personal experiences, or personal lives relationships with people in our own hang ups that have come up at times. I feel like this is a big one because that's with some of the stuff we were talking about in the first half of the episode, they all come back a little bit to this idea of the one, or like that things are predestined, that there's this sense of- I guess the sense of magic around the relationship. This is like a mythology or a spiritual like faith about that relationship that we're sold that. In the world of like unhealthy monogamy, I'll say, there's that you're trying to force that to fit, you're trying to force that to happen, or you're making assumptions about other people because of those beliefs, or right for- mostly for bad, that's going to say for good or bad.
Then, in this it's like, even in non-monogamy, you let go of that, but there's still this hang on idea of like, but in order to actually be loved, they need to be the most special. There's that and that's a difficult one to let go of.
Emily: Or even the most special at something, like I'm the best at giving you blow jobs out of all your partners. Even just like the word, best or special comes into play. I think again, we're in this competitive mindset, so many of us. That we still need to top someone else, even if that's someone else's the loving partner of our partner, or loving metamour.
Jase: It's thinking of it as a competition where if I'm not the best, then they're going to leave me because that's- it's all a competition. It's all very much like--
Dedeker: Because we're all on this path of just upgrading our partner one after the other, the way we upgrade our technology, and--
Emily: Get that new iPad.
Dedeker: Just hop from new model to new models, to new model and to new model. It's like you have to try to maintain being just the best and the newest, and the shiniest at all times are also going to go left for someone else.
Emily: Well, speaking of people being left, there is that idea and that fear that maybe someday, you'll be left for someone who wants to be monogamous again.
Dedeker: I definitely have that fear because of how many times I--
Emily: This happened?
Dedeker: Well, it has happened. I wouldn't say to me it's happened like an excessive number of times, but it has happened for sure. Then, I've also just witnessed-- How do I want to describe this? I've definitely witnessed relative newbies to non-monogamy experience, their first scenario with a new partner and get caught up in all our mythology around NRE of like, "If you're feeling this way that must be you need to be with this person. Maybe they're actually the one."
I've even seen people who identify as polyamorous even start to toss out like, "Maybe I'm with the wrong primary, maybe this person I meet in NRE with should be my actual primary." Which is just like the same mythology but with different labels put onto it.
Jase: It's interesting.
Dedeker: I definitely have that fear especially surrounding like anytime I did a partner who's relatively new to things of like, "Okay, this is all fine and good but I've never met this person yet or I don't know this person how they respond to NRE and so I don't know if NRE hits this person, if they're just going to be like 'Well, see.'" I definitely have that fear. I have that last with partners where I've been around them when they're in NRE with people, and they've gotten through it. They haven't decided to up and leave everyone and be monogamous with this person.
Jase: I think this one lives in a similar place to me to that idea of the fear that, "Well, if you're not doing the normal things, you're going to end up alone and sad someday." It'll even come up with relationships where I have no reasonable reason to fear this. For example with my relationship with that occur, where it's just this like, what if everyone's right. They're eventually wor-- It's a phase and eventually like, "She'll get over it-
Emily: She'll get over it.
Jase: - and want to be monogamous--"
Emily: It doesn't matter that she wrote this book and does this podcast with me. She's going to get over it.
Jase: Right. It sounds absurd but I like---
Dedeker: I'm just going to want to find a man with a bigger wallet.
Jase: Just whatever, whatever it is.
Dedeker: Well, it's not how I actually feel, I'm just tossing out the weird toxic stories that are out there.
Jase: My point here is that that's an actual real fear that I have felt. Without that being rational. Again, that's what we're talking about here is these ghosts that come back to haunt you from these beliefs. This idea of just like, "What if the mainstream is right, and I'm wrong."
Dedeker: Another one that I think comes up for people is just straight up when they're first opening up, is it still- like there's still this guilt because it still feels like cheating in some way or even expressing to their partner being attracted to someone else or even honestly telling their partner.
Emily: Or downplaying it.
Dedeker: Yes, exactly or feeling that urge to downplay liking someone else or wanting to go on a date with someone else, or wanting to have sex with someone else because we feel like, "Dear, this is--" We've definitely been taught from day one like, "Do not talk to your romantic partner about these things, it's hurtful to tell them these things in the first place." Just ignore it and forget, and don't talk about it. That could definitely keep people trapped. That would definitely kept me trap for a long time in really poor communication habits of just not getting- really not talking about these things, not getting joy about talking about these things, assuming it's going to be hurtful to a partner.
I need to either not talk about it or downplay it, or talk around it or whatever.
Emily: Then I think that it also can- that can breed like expectations being push apart in a way that like, you sit there and say to your partner, "Well, you know I had sex but it didn't feel like when we do or it wasn't as good as it is with you." Or whatever. Then, if they see you--
Jase: try to downplay it.
Emily: Exactly, and then if they see you like have NRE or be really excited about maybe going on a trip with that person. They're like, "Well, wait, I thought that you didn't feel as good about them, and so I'm surprised that you're doing this important thing with them, when I had this impression that you actually want that into them." I think it can breed like things that are not- I don't know just the poor communication, and blind sending someone to a degree just because of that boring communication."
Dedeker: Definitely. Your family and friends, and people you meet can dredge up all kinds of moment of ghosts.
Jase: We talked about some already.
Dedeker: I think we covered a number of these things in one of our live show episodes from two years ago about being non-monogamous within a largely monogamous world. Of course, there's all the assumptions that come around like there are so many people you meet, you are going to assume you're monogamous, they see you out with a partner, they're going to assume you're monogamous, you're on the relationship escalator, you are doing these things.
It's like the hangover or the ghost, or the echoes can be perpetuated by other people in your life even if you yourself are not wanting to maintain that are not ascribe to that. It's what everything I've heard a lot of people talk about family members, even though I'm out to them, they still only asked about the well-being of one partner. They still only ever invite this one particular partner, all kinds of things like that.
Emily: Well, what about a fluid bonding?
Dedeker: What about it?
Emily: Well, it's just even the idea, okay.
Dedeker: Sorry, this is not what I expect to your response. Sure?
Emily: Sure. No, but just the idea that like somebody is more important if you fluid bond with them or that is almost like a relationship escalator ask type thing. It means you've leveled up with them because your fluid bonded with them.
Jase: It's a hierarchy kind of thing?
Emily: Totally. I only--
Dedeker: Okay, I just want to get in front of you all, and just say-
Emily: Get in front of us right now.
Dedeker: - I think there's a weird paradox here because fluid bonding and for those of you don't know, fluid bonding is I don't like the term, first of all, but it refers to choosing to have unprotected sex or an exchange of fluids with a particular person, or multiple particular people. That's what people refer to as Fluid bonding. It just makes me think of chemistry, the chemical bond.
Jase: It's a problematic term. We can talk about that.
Dedeker: What I wanted to say...
Emily: Whole other episode, Jase. Whole other episode. [laughs]
Dedeker: What I wanted to get in front of you on was the fact that fluid bonding or choosing to have unprotected sex with somebody, it is an intimate thing. I do think it is an intimate thing. I don't want to discredit it as meaning nothing. It doesn't necessarily mean that it means something, does that make sense?
Jase: That's great. I like to say that about sex to just in general. It is an intimate, meaningful thing, but it also doesn't necessarily mean anything.
Dedeker: I know. I definitely made some poor decisions in relationships. I've ascribed food. I've assigned food bonding to the relationship escalator. I've definitely been in relationships where it's like, well, it's about that time.
Jase: If you're feeling serious.
Dedeker: If you're feeling maybe serious or slightly maybe have some feel.
Emily: The condoms are coming off.
Dedeker: Condoms are coming off. I've had people thank me to be like, wow, I'm really glad to know that you trust me. This is also, by the way, making this decision purely emotionally, not actually talking about, "Hey, let's talk about sexual history. Let's talk about sexual health". Purely an emotional decision of, "Hey, we feel safer around each other. Let's have unprotected sex", which is not a wise decision and not anything I would recommend anybody do.
Related to that, then when I went on to non-monogamous relationships, I definitely ascribed to this whole idea of, again, me needing to be number one and needing to be special of like, "Well, I need to be the one that this person is having unprotected sex with because if I'm not, then this person is having unprotected sex with someone else that means I'm not the most special. We can't have that now, can we?"
Jase: Yea,they all sort of interconnect with each other, don’t they?
Dedeker: They really do, they really do. I don't know, I feel like my party line and the party line on the show, and it's a party line, that's not a party for anyone because it seems like everyone feels like it's a drag. My party line is always about choose to protect yourself first, err on the side of safe sex and maybe err on the side of, maybe maintaining safe sex principles across the board for all of your partners rather than making it different for different people.
People come from all kinds of different contexts and all kinds of different health backgrounds and needs. I don't want to put that out there just as a total blanket statement because I know we're going to get people who are going to protest that. That's okay but that's my personal philosophy is, is I try not to make the mistake of thinking that a piece of latex carries this huge meaning. That a piece of latex--
Emily: Worse, I was about to say snakes getting skinned
Jase: It's the new craze snakes can go down
Dedeker: Emily, every single part of my genitals is horrified right now. I'm just like--
Emily: I'm so sorry. Please, continue.
Dedeker: I never want to have sex again.
Jase: I really didn't see that coming.
Dedeker: However, I can see you're looking very fashionable at the same time.
Emily: It's like if you--
Dedeker: I'm kind of, "Stylish but don't bring that near me".
Emily: See this. It's like clothed in snakes skin
Jase: It's going to be on all the nude bitches.
Dedeker: From here to Timbuktu. I feel like I talked a lot about food bonding. I'm sorry you all can chime in.
Emily: Okay, please, Jase.
Jase: Well, I was just going to move on to the next one here is this idea of feeling morally inferior because that's what society is going to tell you. It's that you're somehow less morally upstanding than other people who are doing the normal thing.
Emily: What are all those different studies that people do where they're like, look at a monogamous person and non-monogamous person.
Dedeker: We presented on this.
Jase: What stigmas, what beliefs do we have.
Emily: A non-monogamous person is less good at brushing their teeth.
Dedeker: Is the belief.
Jase: It's not true.
Jase: I would want to emphasize that it's not true.
Emily: No, I'm kidding. That's where people think automatically that they're somehow morally inferior.
Dedeker: Well, the point of that study was that it's not even just people. The stigma means that people make assumptions about this person's morals, but it bleeds over into the rest of their life to make assumptions.
Jase: Responsible there.
Dedeker: They make assumptions about like, they're not as good at brushing their teeth, or they're less likely to walk the dog regularly.
Emily: Or floss.
Dedeker: They're less likely to do their taxes on time or stuff like that.
Jase: I do want to clarify about that particular study because it does get trotted out from time to time. That these were not super significant differences, but just enough to show that there is a little bit of bias, like the halo effect is what it's called leaking over into how we feel about monogamous people versus non-monogamous people. The other part of it that was interesting is that that same thing held true even for non-monogamous people themselves. That they also had the same--
Dedeker: There's also internalized stigma.
Jase: The stigma against ourselves. I think the flip side of this is that people can sometimes go to the opposite extreme of needing to really feel morally superior to everyone else
Emily: Way more evolved than you are.
Jase: Right, exactly.
Dedeker: Definitely, I've pulled that one before.
Jase: For sure, me too. It's like the classic polyamory newbie, like that new--
Dedeker: Well, I don't go to that phase.
Jase: It was like that new video by School of Life that was really annoying where they had some non-monogamous couples talking and everything else
Dedeker: Clearly, did not read my book.
Jase: They did not read her book, first of all. Second of all, I was listening to them. I was like, "Yes, okay, this is a fairly accurate depiction of newbies to polyamory, talking about it like it's this very-
Emily: We were there ones.
Jase: - evolved thing. Yes, absolutely and just being like, yes, I see that but it sucks at this video just like ended after that and was like, see clearly, ridiculous. Anyway, just to say don't-- I know that that comes from this place of being so scared of being morally inferior.
Dedeker: Needing to compensate for people seeing you as being inferior in some way. Makes sense.
Emily: I think a lot of people out there will blame any problems that you have with your relationship on non-monogamy. You might also internally be like shit, maybe my life
is going to hell right now because I'm non-monogamous.
Jase: It's like that idea of like, well, it would all just be easier if.
Emily: In reality if relationships are bad and you're monogamous, no one's questioning monogamy. Yes, I'm assuming.
Jase: For all the time, someone's like, "Well, I tried non-monogamy once and it was real bad or I got a friend who did and it was real bad. It's like if we did the same for monogamy, "I had one of those and it was bad so I'm never doing that again". No one would do it either. That's just a ridiculous way-
Dedeker: I've thought about--
Jase: - to judge.
Dedeker: The times that I've opened up about really bad relationships in my past, abusive relationships that happened to also be non-monogamous. I've had experiences in sharing with people where they're not necessarily- they don't jump right to, "It's because you're being non-monogamous". They do jump to trying to use that as an explanation in the sense of, "Well, a man who acts like that is definitely not okay with non-monogamy. Or it's probably not someone who's going to be".
That's why things all fell apart is because that person-- I'm having a hard time explaining it. It's just when I think about the opposite of if I talked about it, "Yes, this person is really shitty and abusive to me". Someone was like, "Well, you were in a monogamous relationship and you didn't have to really pitch them on this". I don't know. It's just we don't hear it and it's just so ridiculous. Again, just like the--
Emily: It's the otherness, though again.
Dedeker: The stigma thing, it can be internalized as well like that. I've seen a lot of people that I know, clients that I've worked with who do feel like, "Gosh, maybe if I'm just monogamous it'll all be simpler". To be fair, I do think with some people, they are making an accurate assessment. I definitely don't want to discredit people realizing like, "Maybe the choice for me is monogamy". I think that's actually great. I've definitely also seen people just fall back on that. When there's deeper issues just assuming, "Well, if we close our relationship or if I choose to be monogamous then none of these issues will come up again", which is often not true.
Emily: Well and also to go along with that, if you have been dating around for a while and you're non-monogamous and it's been really difficult to find someone that you really like. All of a sudden you do find someone but they're all not- not really all in with the non-monogamy thing. Then it can probably be really tempting to be, "Well, shit. Maybe I found someone. Maybe I should just go back to being monogamous because it is easier in because that's what they want".
Jase: Similar idea. Well, maybe it would just be simpler if--
Emily: If I just like...
Jase: Or even to go back to the one, well, it's meant to be me maybe because fate made me meet this person.
Emily: It brought us together.
Dedeker: Let me tell you, the last crack I ever took at monogamy the way-- I was at this place in my life where it's like I've been doing all the reading. I'd already dated around quite a bit trying to pitch people on this non-monogamy thing and it hadn't worked out. I still felt so convicted, I still feel like this is something I want to try. I want to try to figure it out. I want to try to actually do it. When I met this person that I felt like super in love with but he was definitely monogamous. While we try to have these conversations with him and try to pitch it to him. The way he would always frame it to me was like, "How could it be so hard to just be with me? What are you afraid of?"
Jase: Like a challenge.
Dedeker: It was a challenge. He posed it as like, this is the easiest thing ever.
Emily: Look how awesome I am, come on.
Dedeker: Of course, you can do this. It's not that difficult to commit or whatever. That totally caught me.
Jase: Almost like he was telling you, you were taking the easy way out of what do you think this is too hard for you?
Dedeker: I didn't read it.
Jase: Do you know what I mean? It seems like is it really so hard to do this? Makes it seem to me like, "Well, you're just not doing monogamy because you don't have the hoods before it".
Dedeker: I guess we're like that. Or assuming it's like--
Emily: Or just lie, "Aren't I enough?"
Dedeker: There was definite-- I don't know. There's all kinds of stuff wrapped up but I feel like I remember the moment very clearly because I remember hitting me and producing the sense of like, "Yes, I can do that. That's not too hard for me. Of course, I can do that when you put it that way, don't try to imply that I can't do something." I took the bait and--
Emily: That didn't work out so well.
Dedeker: Didn't work out so well, but I can be thankful that it did helped me realize truly monogamy is not really the thing for me.
Jase: It's a lot of different ways that these ghosts can show up and as you could tell by when we're talking about this that it's like, "Yes, and this one's connected to this other thing, there's this". It's because it's all like this big knotted together ball of different threads, of different beliefs or different ideas we've been taught or different things we've been told we should do or we should want and maybe that we have wanted at different times that they're so intertwined with each other.
I think that's why these ghosts can linger like that because it's not just one thing, it's not like, "I changed my belief about this one thing and now I think differently." It's like, "No, there's all this other stuff tied together with it that you're trying to pull out that one and it can take a while for everything to get untangled".
Dedeker: Definitely. We wanted to also present you with some possible solutions or as I like to call them counter spells as they're referred to in the relationship anarchist manifesto.
Emily: That's right, that's right. I was like, "Did you [unintelligible 01:01:57] in that term in your book, missy?
Dedeker: No, I'm definitely not going to take credit for that. Even just starting from the place of understanding that this hangover dealing with these ghosts that come up, totally normal, totally understandable. It's like we're the products of the culture that were raised with, the products of the messages that were raised with. It's not necessarily your fault and you're not a bad person for still having these feelings come up.
Have a little bit of compassion, have a little awareness and just know that like, "It is okay," and it is okay to recognize them and have the awareness to be like, "Yes, I know what that is. I can label that as like this old soulmate mythology or that's this old assumption that monogamy is morally superior or whatever it is for you."
Emily: Another one is community. Just try and we obviously talked about this a lot on the show because we have a huge awesome community within our Patreon people, all you patreon people. [laughs] Then also I think the three of us have community within each other and within people who know all about what we're going through, and what we've been through and we're able to help them. If you're able to just speak about things that are occurring in your life, things that come up and that are challenging on a daily or weekly basis and just be able to have some empathy for yourself and for each other, I think it's a hugely helpful thing.
Jase: Going along with that with community is just outlets to talk about it. It's just to be able to talk about it with people who go, "Yes, I totally get that. I understand that but it's gotten better." People who actually who get what just goes along with finding a community that you can talk to. Then the last one is role models and mentors which again comes from that community of having people who've been doing this longer than you and who have an understanding of these things, who can help you to work through this.
Dedeker: I know, for me, because sometimes it can be hard to find specific role models or specific mentors who are going through the same thing that you are or trying the same thing that you are. For me, I still get a lot of inspiration from finding role models who are people who are still like bucking trends and bucking normativity, and trying to forge their own path even if it's not necessarily about let's say, "No monogamy specifically or anything in particular." I just want to give a shout out because I follow an Instagram this model Aydian. I think it's Aydian I don't know. Aydian Dowling who was the very first trans man to ever be on the cover of Men's Health magazine.
He does this really, really amazing posts and talks a lot about his past, even posts a lot of pictures from his past and talks a lot about his growth. Even though I'm not personally on this journey of exploring outside of the gender that I was assigned at birth or anything like that, I still find it extremely encouraging and extremely hope producing of like, "Hey, there's someone out there who has this courage to go against the mainstream and find what was right for them and find all this fulfillment and happiness and that. I can do that for myself too in this other arena".
It's also good to find role models or mentors who inspire you in that way. It doesn't have to be an exact mirror image of what you're going through.
Dedeker: Anyway and related to that, I would also love to hear what other people would recommend as far as, well doesn't have to be Instagram accounts.
Dedeker: Inspired people who are going against the grain and forging their own path, I'd love hearing about that kind of stuff.
Jase: It's always great hearing about more people like that.
Emily: We need more for sure.
Dedeker: Definitely. A lot of people have sounded off in the Patreon group about the specific ways that monogamy hangover has influenced their lives, but we definitely love to hear, "What are your ghosts of normative past? What are the things that you're trying to exercise on a daily basis?" The best place to share your thoughts and to share that with us and with other listeners is on this episode's discussion thread in our private Facebook group or discord chat. You can get access to these groups and you can join our exclusive community by going to patreon.com/multiamory.
In addition, you can share with us publicly on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can email us at email@example.com. You can leave us a voicemail at 678-M-U-L-T-I-05. Or you can leave us a voice message on Facebook. Multiamory is created and produced by Jase Lindgren, Emily Matlack and me, Dedeker Winston. Our episodes are edited by Mauricio Balvenera. Our social media wizard is Will Macmillan. Our production assistant is Nicole Samra. Our theme song is Forms I Know I did, by Josh and Anand from Fractal Cave EP. The whole transcript is available on this episode's page on multiamory.com.