Is anyone really ever ready? This week we delve into the different signs that determine if you are ready to become polyamorous...or not. We talk about personal attributes that are helpful to have when beginning a new relationship style, red flags to watch out for when you are starting out, and our own personal experiences when we first became polyamorous.
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Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.
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Jase Lindgren: As humans, we're drawn toward just doing what makes us happy or what feels good. Oftentimes we will go for something that's comfortable and familiar even if it's not actually making us happy and it's not actually making us feel good because it's comfortable, because we're scared of change.
Emily: If you're happy with the same old ways of dating.
Dedeker Winston: If you enjoy sucking at communication.
Jase: And you have no desire to improve your romantic life, then our podcast might not be for you.
Dedeker: But, you want some out-of-the-box ideas to deepen your current relationships.
Emily: Broaden your sexual horizons.
Dedeker: 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: And I'm Dedeker.
Jase: And this is the Multiamory podcast.
On this episode of the Multiamory podcast, we are asking the question: are you ready to become polyamorous? Have you been thinking about polyamory but don't quite know if you're ready to take the plunge? Are there red flags to be aware of that show you shouldn't start a polyamorous journey? We're going to discuss all of that and more in today's episode.
Emily: Yes, this is our 201st episode. That's amazing. Wow, it's been a long journey.
Jase: It really has, and to celebrate that we have cast Dedeker away.
Emily: Yes, no more. No, we're kidding. We love her, but she's I think traveling today so she can't do that. She can't be here.
Jase: Yes, she's travelling today.
Emily: Yes, but this is kind of fun. It's sort of a recap episode from a couple things that we've done in the past because we've had a lot of episodes on opening up, on deciding if you want to be polyamorous or not, if you're ready for it, so we're kind of putting all those things into this episode and it's a good way to start out our 200th from here on episodes and kind of do a nice little recap. So, we wanted to split this up into two different sections. The first section is going to be, you may be ready to become polyamorous if, and then the other section is you may not be ready to become polyamorous if. Let's dive into that.
Jase: Yes, let's get started yes.
Emily: Yes. Okay, you may be ready to become polyamorous if you are already proactive as opposed to reactive when it comes to your sexual health. That means you do things like you get regular STI testing, you're really committed to discussing your sexual health with possible partners, also your expectations. Because, probably, if you are interested in non-monogamy, you might be dating already, you might be single or you might be in a committed monogamous relationship and with that, hopefully, you're already discussing things like sexual health with your partners.
Jase: Hopefully, that's something that you are already doing in your life anyway, but if it's not, it is very important. Something that we get very excited to share is results from a study that showed that consensually non-monogamous people versus monogamous people who were in this study. The consensually non-monogamous people had more sexual partners over the course of their life, but the same or lower incidents of STIs as their monogamous counterparts did, and we want to keep it that way. If you're going to join this club make sure--
Emily: You better be doing that.
Jase: Yes, make sure that you are also taking care of your sexual health and taking responsibility for it.
Emily: Yes, absolutely and I think it's just obviously incredibly important to be talking about your sexual health with your potential partners. I think there is this stigma on sex just in general, like it's something to not be discussed, but one does really need to be proactive about that because it's your health and your life at risk in some cases. It is important, and just the kind thing to do for your partner for sure.
Jase: I guess the one thing I would add going along with that is that you've committed to educating yourself about sexual health and STIs because there's also a lot of misinformation and a lot of stigma out there where people will be overly worried about certain things but maybe not cautious enough about other things because most of us rely on our education about STIs to come from--
Emily: Which was bad.
Jase: Well, it was bad in school and we rely on-
Emily: For the most part, yes
Jase: - the crap that our friends say or what we see on TV shows or movies, which is not a great source for this kind of information.
Emily: No, not at all. So, yes, educate yourself absolutely. If you're questioning something, then do your research for sure, because more times than not it's definitely not going to be the type of stigmas that you're maybe used to regarding sexual health in general, but it's good to be prepared and be aware for sure.
Jase: Yes, and we've got a number of episodes about that, that you should definitely go back and check out. With that, number two here is that you have a good self-awareness when it comes to things that you are good at in relationships and things that you need to work on. When things are difficult in your life, you have a good understanding of your own emotional bandwidth, like what you are capable of handling at different times and how to set boundaries and say no when you need to.
Emily: Yes, this is a really important one. I think sometimes we aren't always aware of the things that we're good at or bad at in relationships and we just kind of continue to go through relationships making the same sort of mistakes over and over again, but if you are a person who's really willing to look at yourself and to say like, "Hey, okay, this is a pattern that keeps coming up over and over again, and maybe I shouldn't be doing this," then you do the work to change that thing, then that's a really important thing to have in a polyamorous setting just because there are so many unknowns that come at you for sure and so many different emotions that you may not know were there that may come up when you are in this type of relationship structure.
Jase: Yes, and we don't want that to sound like we mean things that you're bad at in relationships like some people will--
Emily: Just the things that may come up over and over again, you're like, "Wow, I always get jealous at X or I always like do this thing."
Jase: And just kind of being aware of it, realizing that those are things that you can improve about yourself, and that you are willing to do that. That you have some awareness of that.
Emily: The next one that we wanted to talk about was that you have a little bit of zen when you go into this type of relationship structure or any type of relationship structure. What I mean by that is that you have good forms of emotional management techniques. Like if you have a really stressful day at work, your family members are pissing you off for some reason, you can do things that can make you happy or put you in a zen place, things like yoga or meditation practice, regular exercise, stuff like that.
This is again really important just because you never know what's going to happen in situations in polyamorous relationships. It's great to have emotional management techniques just so you can get yourself back to a place where you are happy and healthy.
Jase: Yes, and I do want to clarify with this one though that it's not like you have to be a zen master who's never bothered by anything or who can always be in a good mood.
Emily: For sure.
Jase: That's not what we mean here. What we mean is just that you have a certain amount of, like Emily said, techniques. You have things that you can do to at least get yourself to a place of neutral.
Emily: Yes, like play a video game.
Jase: Right, it could be exercise or yoga or meditation or it could be video games or reading books or going for a walk. There's a lot of different things this could be. I feel like it kind of comes down to sort of similar to what we were talking about earlier with your relationship skills, but that it's more about your emotional skills. It's the fact that you do have some, regardless of what your emotional landscape is like, that you are proactive in having techniques for how to manage that and how to understand that and how to have some amount of control over your own emotions.
Emily: Yes, and I think it's tough sometimes because you may have all the amazing techniques in the world, and then all of a sudden something hits you that you're like, "Look, even though I'm doing yoga, I'm doing certain things to try to get me back to zero or back to neutrality, it's not happening." This is a challenging one because you may have all of those techniques and may still not be working, but at least you have something there for you, and at least you're trying to get yourself back to a place of neutrality or being okay.
It's just good to have these techniques there available to you. If you don't have them, then maybe go to a yoga class or see if reading takes your mind off of a difficult day at work. Just try to implement something and see what works for you.
Jase: Yes, I think it's probably we should have said at the beginning of all of this that it isn't like you have to be perfect at all these things, right?
Emily: For sure, pick and choose.
Jase: These are some things that, they're going to help you have a better time and as long as you're aware that these are some important things to be working on, I think that's maybe even more important, just more as like things to look at to evaluate rather than checkboxes of, "Yes, I'm ready."
Emily: Yes, absolutely.
Jase: All right, number four is that you realize that you will probably make mistakes and you understand that that's part of the learning process and part of that is learning to be kind to yourself. In moments of distress, when you are freaking out or you feel like you screwed something up, understand that that's normal that mistakes are going to happen. That's true of anything, not just to polyamory, but mistakes are going to happen and if you can accept that, I think it can help you be a lot kinder to yourself and help that transition go more easily.
Emily: Yes. Oh man. This is a tough one because I think definitely I'm accustomed to really beating myself over the head of, "You did this wrong, how dare you," kind of thing as opposed to being understanding of the fact that things go wrong sometimes and you just have to roll with the punches and know that you'll do better next time. I agree with you though that yes, this is an incredibly important skill to have. Again, if you don't, I don't know, I'm still working on this one for sure. It's been a lifelong journey. Maybe therapy would help for sure as it would have in most things. I don't know. Have you gotten better at this over the years, Jase?
Jase: Yes and no. I go back and forth. I'm a little bit similar to you, Emily, where I tend to really beat myself up over mistakes that I make. Even if they're not really mistakes and maybe I see that later, at the time I feel like they are and I tend to maybe take responsibility for things that aren't even in my control, that aren't even things I had direct control over, but I feel like, "Oh, maybe if I'd done this one random thing then that then that could have been different. Somehow this is my fault." It is really important to realize that. I think this one helps having a good support network, of having other people in your life who understand that.
Jase: I think that at least for me I feel like I got that way of thinking about making mistakes from my parents who I think felt that way about themselves about making mistakes. So, it's establishing more of a support network that I have now with my friends and romantic partners, of people who kind of get that and who understand that you don't have to be perfect all the time, and to help remind you that you're still okay even if you didn't do something perfectly.
Emily: Yes, that's a great friend right there, is someone who tells you, "Hey, it's going to be okay. If you screw up, it's not the end of the world. You're still a good person. You're still a kind person." We didn't put that in this section, but having a good support network is incredibly important just in general, but it's also lovely to have when you're entering into a non-monogamous relationship.
Jase: Oh, yes.
Emily: People who will support you regardless of the type of relationship structure you're in.
Jase: Yes, that's kind of its own thing.
Emily: That's a tough one.
Jase: Yes, and that might be something that comes over time. That might not be something you have going in, but as you start connecting more with people in your local polyamorous communities, you can start to build more of that support network. It's not like you have to replace all your friends and family with new ones, but-
Emily: Get out of here, yes.
Jase: - finding that sort of positive and accepting, and actually truly understanding what you're going through kind of support network, like through our Patreon group through Multiamory or an in-person group or a little bit of each. There's a lot of different options there.
Emily: Absolutely. Yes, so the next one we discussed a little bit before, but we wanted to reiterate that you are committed to examining yourself and trying to do what is right, rather than just doing what's comfortable. This is another big one for sure because I think as humans, we often will gravitate towards the thing that makes us feel the best or feel happy or feel okay, even if it's not necessarily the kindest, nicest thing to do in the moment. I think that often the right decision-- Did Gandalf say that? Was it him?
Jase: What did he say?
Emily: He's like, "Doing what is right rather than what is easy," or something. Or was that Dumbledore? No, I think it was Dumbledore, a different bearded man. I'm not winning nerd points today at all, but what were you going to say, Jase?
Jase: Well, I was just going to say, I think that that is it exactly; doing what's right instead of what's easy. Just to add on to what you were saying earlier, I don't even think it's so much that as humans we're drawn toward just doing what makes us happy or what feels good, is that I feel like oftentimes we will go for something that's comfortable and familiar even if it's not actually making us happy and it's not actually making us feel good, because it's comfortable, because we're scared of change.
I think that for something like that, it takes a certain amount of courage and a certain amount of resilience and interpersonal strength to say, "Yes, I'm going to keep challenging myself and I'm going to keep exploring these things and seeing what I can do better, how I can understand myself better and do my relationships better." I think that what I've seen at least is people who are not willing to do that. Who are like, "No, I would rather just be comfortable in what I'm doing now," just make things shitty for their polyamorous partners and for themselves. It's like you're trying to do something, but you're not willing to do the deeper change to get there.
Emily: Yes, and I get it. To have a giant upheaval in your life, for example, if you're with a partner, you live with them and to leave them or to end the relationship, it would completely change your life and that's a really drastic, difficult thing to do. Again, that's why you said, doing what's right rather than what's comfortable.
If you're good at that, if you're good at ending something, for example, if it is time, then that's a great skill to have when going into non-monogamy because that's a difficult one for sure and something that I think perhaps a lot of monogamous people tend to do is stay with people maybe well past the time that they should just because, "Hey, well, I'm comfortable in this relationship. It's better more often than it's not, so I'm going to say or it's 50/50 in terms of the time when it's good and when it's not, so I'm going to stay." That's not always the best thing to do.
Jase: Like the stuff we talked about in our Science of Happy Relationships episode, if you go back and check that one out, is that 50/50 is not a good ratio. That's not a relationship you should stay in, but it's often more comfortable to just not rock the boat, not make any changes.
Emily: Yes, absolutely.
Jase: Honestly, all of these are really important life skills, period, for your relationships or even just for any kind of life. These are important skills. We just have found that these things have made the difference in our personal lives, the things that we did do well and the things we didn't do well and what we've seen with lots of other people that we've talked to through this podcast, the things that tend to make a transition into polyamory go better, right?
Emily: Yes. Absolutely.
Jase: All right, the next one, this one is specific to if you are in a monogamous relationship right now that you're thinking about opening up. That is that to be sure that your communication and your compassion and your mutual care for each other are in really great shape. The process of effectively opening up involves a lot more disentanglement than you might realize. The way that we're shown to do relationships by what we see in movies and TV shows and our stories and all that, tends to be very codependent. It tends to be this thing of like, "You complete me, you're going to be the other half of me, that I'm not complete without you."
One thing that does come up when you do allow yourselves to have separate identities which includes, dating people separately from each other, but also just having separate identities, period, in terms of your hobbies and your friend groups and things like that, that it also provides you this really great opportunity for seeing each other anew and kind of being more excited and being reminded of the things that drew you to this person in the first place because when you were first drawn to them, they weren't already half of you. They were their own person and that's what you were so attracted to in the first place.
Having that understanding in place, and even doing some of that disentangling and learning to see each other and see yourself as a whole person on your own and on their own, even before opening up a relationship, even if you never open it up, is going to be hugely important in terms of the stability and the health of that relationship over the long term.
Emily: Yes, absolutely. Having a bit of independence from one another. You essentially said just that, but I think it is really important. It is interesting, I'm on contract with some people and they're lovely and adorable, but they're two couples that are married to different people in different countries right now. They call their significant other all the time like on every single break which I find just so interesting.
Emily: I know.
Jase: Like multiple times through the day.
Emily: Yes, multiple times through the day. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's pretty cute, but in my head, I'm like, "What do you have to talk about? Really, what is going on?" I'm sitting there reading a book or doing something else online and I'm like, "Wow, they're talking to their significant other again and this is like the fifth time today." It's just interesting, the difference in the level of independence from one another.
Again, totally nothing wrong with that. It's super adorable. It just is a different thing. I think if you are in a non-monogamous relationship, just calling one partner all the time is probably not going to happen. Maybe you'll spread yourself over multiple partners and call each of them a lot. It just is a different thing.
Jase: You end up getting yourself into trouble with that.
Emily: Where's the time for you?
Jase: Yes. I would argue that for the people even in monogamous relationships. I just think in monogamy you can get away with it a little easier as long as you're not willing to have time for yourself. I feel like with polyamory though, say you are constantly in touch with your partner and being apart from them, it's like, "I have to constantly call them or text them or be in touch with them." As soon as you start to develop any other kind of relationship, you're not going to have that sort of availability or time to constantly be in contact, and all of a sudden it's going to feel like something's wrong.
As opposed to, we had a certain amount of independence and also a certain amount of connection and that's great. That's not going to have to change as much as you pursue another relationship or that your partner does. Or like you were saying, Emily, where you're constantly trying to be in touch with all of your partners. That's also making it so the people you are spending time with aren't getting the best quality time with you because you're distracted thinking about how much you have to contact whoever you're not with.
Emily: Yes, absolutely. I think it's great in the moment if you're with someone to be able to speak to them or if you have a moment when you're not in a date or something or you're not sitting around with your nesting partner or whatever to be able to contact a partner quite quickly, but also give some time and space for yourself because that's truly important and it shows that independence that all of you can have, that you don't need to be codependent with the other person or with any one person. All of those things are important and it can be challenging. It's a nice thing to have.
Jase: It helps you realize that you're important to your partner because of who you are and because you are important to them and not just because they can't live without you. I think we've really over-romanticized in our culture this idea of, "I can't live without you or you complete me." I think it just gives me the heebie-jeebies. You know what I mean? I used to think that way. That's absolutely how I thought, and it wasn't a healthy way to have relationships. I realize that now looking back on it.
Establishing that independence is just-- Not even independence per se, I think some people think of that a little negatively in terms of a relationship, like it means you don't care about other people, but a sense of self and a sense of them that's separate from you. I think it's very valuable and very romantic, actually.
Emily: Yes. No, I do too. It makes things more interesting too, like when you get to come back on the phone with them finally and be like, "Look at all these amazing things that we've each been doing and working on." Instead of like, "I'm going to tell you about the cheese that I just ate."
Emily: The vegan cheese that I just ate. I don't know. I'm sorry.
Jase: That's a good example, I like that.
Emily: I don't want to shit all over that either because it is sweet. Part of me was like, "How adorable is this?" But then I also was like, "This is weird. I don't understand it," and I couldn't do that.
Jase: It would also be adorable once a day as opposed to every hour.
Emily: Yes, for sure. It would be. I agree with you. The next one is going to be: you might be ready to have a non-monogamous relationship if you aren't really trying to force the issue. What I mean by that is that you have really thought long and hard about whether or not you want to be polyamorous and you've done a lot of research. You've read Dedeker's book. You've soul-searched a little as well, and also, you're not making this decision for anyone else. You're not trying to save a relationship that's failing. You want to do it because of all the things that it's going to bring to your life.
This is an incredibly important one. Obviously, all of the other things that we just talked about, all of those skills, all of those things that you already do in your life are really important, but this one I think you absolutely must have in order to have a successful polyamorous relationship. Some people can be brought into this mindset and then maybe find out that they really love it, but if you're kicking and screaming internally going into it, that's a recipe for disaster.
Jase: Yes, for sure. It's not something that means you'll never be able to do it or you'll never be ready for it. If it is something that you're just very deeply uncomfortable about right now--
Emily: Maybe don't.
Jase: I guess to kind of go back to the thing earlier about trying to better yourself versus just doing what's comfortable. I think this is kind of the other side of that scale, where if it's something that just makes you all uncomfortable, it's just too much on that side, that's not a good thing either. It's about keeping that in check, being like, "This is a little scary maybe. This is a little out of my comfort zone, but it's not so much so that this just feels totally wrong to me," and that might change later. Emily and I have shared our story of when we opened up our relationship years ago, and Emily talked about that, where it was for her at first not comfortable, but then that changed.
Emily: Yes, I had always had a lot of idea that it could work and that maybe that was something that I would be interested in without knowing the terms for it. Initially, all of those feelings came up, those jealous feelings or those sick-to-the-stomach feelings when I saw that Jase was having a fun time with other women. That was really challenging for me, but then with quite a lot of soul-searching and thinking about it and realizing that I could gain amazing things from it as well, that's when I really decided, "Hey, this is something that I can do."
Jase: For us, it didn't work out the first time. The first time that we tried to be polyamorous, it really didn't work out. That is to say that you don't have to make that same mistake of a false start. I actually don't recommend that way of going about it.
Emily: It ended up working out okay later, but the initial false start was rather painful.
Jase: If we had had an episode like this and kind of some of these things to think about, we might have realized, "Okay, we could have this as a goal, but let's get these other things in place first," or at least kind of have a bit more of a sense of what were some things maybe we didn't even realize that we didn't have in place yet for ourselves or in our relationship just because we hadn't practiced those things.
Again, I think in monogamy you can get away with not practicing a lot of good habits in relationships. That doesn't mean they're not still good for monogamous relationships, I think you can just get away with not doing them as much. I think that we were doing that in spite of having what I would call a very good relationship, but there were still certain skills I think we were able to kind of skip by and not developing as much.
Emily: We were babies, to be honest.
Jase: We were also babies, yes.
Emily: I was 22 when I met you.
Emily: That's a long time ago.
Emily: Oh, man.
Jase: That's it. That's our list of the things to think, "Let me make sure I have these in place before trying to be polyamorous either on my own or together with a partner." We want to go on to our list of some things to look out for. Maybe if you see these warning signs, this is something that you're not ready for yet.
Before we do that, we want to take a quick break to talk about some ways that you can support this show and find some amazing supportive community to help you get to this place too. The way to do that is to become one of our patrons at Patreon. If you go to patreon.com/multiamory, you can contribute there and get to join this private group that is filled with amazing people that you can have these discussions with. People who get it, people who are either new to it themselves or considering being non-monogamous or polyamorous or who have been doing it for 20 years and it's old hat to them. You get all of that wealth of knowledge from the community.
If you join at our $9 a month level, we also have monthly video discussion groups which are a really great way to process some of those things that you might be going through in a more face to face, one on one way. Where we get to be together as a group with us and with other patrons talking about what's going on in our lives and what we might want support with. It's really fantastic. Again, go to patreon.com/multiamory and you can get access to that as well as our private Facebook group, our Discord chat room, our Discourse forum, lots of great resources, go check that out.
Emily: If you don't have the means to help us out or you're like, "I don't really want to do that," you can still write us a review on iTunes or Stitcher and that helps us immensely if somebody is looking up polyamory in iTunes or just relationship podcasts or self-help even, it might come out with that, or sexuality, then we will come at the top or closer to the top of those lists just by having more reviews. Go to iTunes or Stitcher, write us a nice review, talk to us about the things that you like about the show. It makes us feel really nice and it really helps the podcast out a lot.
Jase: Yes, then lastly, our sponsor for this episode is Quip. If you've listened to this podcast before, you've heard us talk about how much we love our Quip toothbrushes.
Emily: I love bringing it to work every day, it's so portable.
Jase: They're awesome, they're these amazing electric toothbrushes that feel really good in your mouth. They're battery powered, they're portable, I travel with mine all the time, Dedeker is traveling with hers right now between wherever and wherever she's going.
Emily has hers with her right now while she's traveling, they're fantastic. If you use our promo site which is tryquip.com/multiamory, you will get your first refill for free. The way it works is you can buy your toothbrush and it comes with a battery and a head for the toothbrush and some toothpaste in a large size and a travel size. You could just get that, or if you sign up for the subscription plan, then every 3 months they'll send you another head for it as well as a big size toothpaste and a small size toothpaste.
No joke, when I signed up for this at first, I was like, "All right, I'll do that. I'll just do it a couple of times, and then I'll take six months off and I'll change the head every six months instead of every three months. I'll work the system," and it worked all right for me, but I've found that now I get so excited when I get a new one that I'm like, “Oh man, I know now how good it feels to put that new head on the toothbrush and the new battery in there, so it's all fresh and vibraty in my mouth."
Emily: So fresh, so clean.
Jase: Yes, I just got my Quip re-fill in the mail this morning, and I'm just like, “Oh man, I can't even wait. I'm so excited to brush my teeth with it, it's going to feel so good.”
Emily: Oh, yes.
Jase: [laughs] Again, that's tryquip.com/multiamory to get your free refill at three months and also part of your purchase will go to support this show. It's a win-win for everybody.
Emily: Clean mouths, clean Multiamory.
Emily: That doesn't make any sense.
Jase: It doesn't make any sense, it sounds good though.
Emily: Yes, thank you.
All right, let's get back to the show. This section is going to be: you may not be ready to become polyamorous if. The first one is going to be you prioritize preserving a relationship over developing it. This can really happen a lot with monogamous couples who are now opening up their relationship. What we mean by this is generally the form of rules. Those rules are meant to minimize change or discomfort, but they actually can often be really bad for a non-monogamous relationship.
Rules that we're talking about include things like, you're not allowed to fall in love with anyone else or you can't spend the night with another person. Or other types of time restrictions, things like, only one night stands are allowed, no extended relationships, no relationships that last for a long period of time. Or don't ask, don't tell. Anything along these lines.
This is not to say that you shouldn't have boundaries, but if you are doing these things to try to minimize discomfort, or you want to control the situation, then maybe that's an issue and maybe this type of relationship structure isn't for you, because honestly, there's a lot of things that you cannot foresee or control, and trying to have a contingency plan for all of them probably isn't a good idea.
Jase: Yes, and to go back to the way you phrased it at the beginning, if to you, just having one relationship that lasts longer is more important than growing as a person, developing that relationship, them growing as a person, developing other relationships, you're just setting yourself up for failure there.
Emily: For sure.
Jase: You're coming into it from a place of fear, of like, "I need to protect this thing," rather than, "I need to grow this thing." To use an analogy, it would be like if your relationship is a child that you want to protect that child, and so you lock them in the basement.
Emily: I get you.
Jase: As opposed to, "I want my child to grow up healthy and happy and to have a good life, so I want to teach him things, I want them to grow. I realize there's some risk involved with that, with them going out into the world, but ultimately that's going to be better for them than the opposite, which is sheltering them from everything and just locking them in the basement."
Emily: For sure, yes. That's a good analogy even though it's a little weird.
Emily: Relationship is like a child.
Jase: Yes. I think it works, I'll have to play with that a little bit more.
Emily: For sure, it's a workshop analogy.
Jase: Yes. All right, the next one here is: if you are planning to go into this relationship with some kind of a one-penis policy or any kind of one-gender policy or something that puts that sort of limitation on it, that's being imposed upon someone rather than them choosing something for themselves.
What I mean by that is the idea of we're going to open our relationship up, but both of us can only date women-- Let's assume we're a heterosexual or bisexual couple or whatever, that we can both only date women but not other men. Occasionally we can both date men but not other women. That does happen, we have heard of that as well. It's just less common. In either case, it's not like, "You can date whoever you want and I maybe choose to only date men or only date women," but it's saying, "No, a part of our rules is that you can't do that."
I feel like maybe the one that's the most common of all the things on this list but is actually the most problematic. I don't want to spend a whole hour breaking this down because we have had episodes where we talked about this in much more depth.
Emily: For sure.
Jase: There's a fantastic blog post on our site that Dedeker wrote on this subject as well. Basically, there's a lot of assumptions going into this about what is or isn't okay for your relationship. It assumes a lot of things about gender, it assumes a lot of things, actually, about a lack of trust for your partner, and people will often argue that point, but it really does come down to this lack of trust. Again, I'm trying to hold myself back, I'm like, "Hold me back, hold me back"
Emily: Hold me back, hold me back.
Emily: Yes, that's an interesting point to make; a lack of trust for your partner, because a lot of people will say, "Well, I trust you, but I don't trust that person."
Jase: Right, I trust you, but I don't trust other men.
Emily: Yes, exactly.
Jase: It's so often what we hear.
Emily: Which is like, “What the hell? What are you saying right now?" It's a ridiculous argument to make.
Jase: You're making the assumption that your partner somehow has no say in their relationships or what happens in those relationships or that they're gullible and naive and can be taken advantage of by anyone or possibly even worse. You're just assuming that like everyone they date it's just going to unconsensually have sex with them or rape them or do things to them. It's really awful. It's like a terrible road to go down, but people think it's okay to say something on this feel something like this. I've heard so many different ways of justifying it. It all comes down to bullshit. Anyway, we don't get into a ton more here, but that is a big, huge red flag. If that's something you're going...
Emily: If you want to do that, don't be [crosstalk] Yes, absolutely. In this can go along with that a little bit. If you are just searching for the hot BiBabe out there, and if you only want to date the same person at the same time, if you again are an established monogamous couple and you're deciding we're just going to go find someone to date together. This can seem a really good way to not get hurt. We will always go on dates together with this person. We'll always have sex at the same time with this person. then I won't be jealous and I won't be as difficult for me because I won't be sitting on the couch thinking what is my partner doing with their date right now while I'm sitting home alone eating bonbons. [laughs]
Jase: That sounds great. I would love to sit at home and watch her and eat bonbons.
Emily: Eat bonbon and what is a bonbon? People always say that, but I can't even picture what a bonbon is.
Jase: They are little chocolates with fillings inside.
Emily: That sounds tasty.
Jase: Yes, right? [laughs]
Emily: Yes, okay. All right. Well, maybe you do want to do that, but still
Jase: But yes, your point of that you think it's going to protect you from all those things.
Emily: Absolutely, but more often than not, a lot of emotion can come up when you are dating the same person and when you and your partner are dating the same person at the same time. Still, jealousy can come up. Still, it can be really difficult to see your partner have sex with that person when you're not penetrating them at that moment or whatever. I'm just saying, yes, it can be really challenging, even in the bedroom, even in the moment obviously. I think you need to have the ability to let relationships grow and flourish without you being there watching every single move that that relationship makes. If you're not comfortable with that, then this isn't something that you should be doing.
Jase: This one, I wish Dedeker were here to share it, but her litmus test question that she likes to give-
Emily: Yes, that one.
Jase: -is to ask yourself, would I, okay, if my partner and I want to start dating this third person to ask yourself the question, "would I be okay if this other person was to date my partner completely separate from me where I wasn't involved in the sex or that romantic relationship?" If your answer is no, you're not ready yet. Even if the three of you are all going to date each other, you have to be able to answer yes to that question and really be okay with that. Because I feel this one is similar to the one penis policy or the one gender exact policy where there's a lot of assumptions built into it already and a lack of. This one I think also has like a lack of understanding the humanity of the other people involved in your lives. It's treating them like they're just a thing to be used by you. I don't know, a bunch of people just slammed their drinks down and they're like, "No way, that would treat them good.". A lot of people say that, but there's too much inherent in this idea that you have to date the two of us. If you feel differently about one or the other of us, you can't date either of us.
Emily: We are a unit and we went out over everything else. Even if you're having a hard time and we decided, sorry, we're done with you, then that's that kind of thing. That's a really shitty way to treat a person.
Jase: It really is, and you're just not setting yourself up for success. You're going to have problems even if you don't realize it yet.
Jase: It doesn't mean you can never do it. Just take some time, reevaluate these things and get yourself to a place where that's not an assumption you're going in with.
Emily: I think if you want to be in a triad that the happening organically, regardless of you just being like, we're trying to find a third. That I think is the best way in which to have a relationship with three people simultaneously. You're having multiple evil like we always say you have multiple relationships in a triad. It's a relationship with each of the people separately and then also the triad relationship.
Jase: The fact that over time it could change from being just one partner dating to both dating separately, more like a V to then being a triad to maybe going back to just some dating. In order for this to last and grow, all of those options need to be on the table. They need to be okay on options, right?
Emily: Absolutely, it can't just be one or the other or nothing.
Jase: Okay. Our next warning sign is if your only support network is your monogamous partner. If you're a single person right now thinking is my only support network, whoever I'm dating at the time. That [crosstalk] applies either way. This one feels it's pretty simple right there, but I think it hints at some elements of co-dependency, which again, I think co-dependency is something that's actually very praised in our culture. I don't think that if you do this, I don't think that means something is wrong with you. I think you've probably just learned some habits and some thoughts and some beliefs that are not actually very healthy but are very normal if that makes sense. It is very common and very normal and so no one else is going to call that out but not actually the healthiest thing for you and. When you try doing something like polyamory or non-monogamy, that's going to come and bite you because all of a sudden it's like I have no other place for support besides this.
Emily: Friends are important in everyone's life, but it's especially important to find a good support network outside of your partners. It just, is people that you can talk to, people that understand what you're going through, especially if you can find it, some people who understand polyamory as well and that supportive of it and are dicks about it. That would be really lovely, and it's challenging at times. You have to insert yourself into polyamorous communities and go out and try to meet people who are polyamorous, but it's incredibly imperative to have a support network who understands what you're going through because it's not the relationship structure for everyone. You might get a lot of backlash from family members, from friends who've always known you as monogamous. You really can't put all of that on your partner. That's not fair and that's not nice for them either.
Jase: It's also just, regardless of your relationship type is just a bad way to be anyway, because if you need support on something about that relationship, the person...
Emily: You're not going like it
Jase: They're not going to be a good source of support for you. I know I definitely have been guilty of this in the past of trying to have my partner be my support network for problems with that same person. Right. That's just not a great thing. This community, this support network could also be online, right? If you don't have people in your immediate world who get this and are supportive of it, it is something you could also find online.
Emily: Totally, yes. The next one is going to be you let your partner make life decisions for you or you feel like you need to make your partner's life decisions for them or try to convince them what is right for them. This one was tough, but it goes back to independence thing. If you entangle your life so much that you decide for each other, always like what you to collectively are going to do in your life and that's it. I know that some couples operate like that so sure, but it again, it's not a good thing to continue practicing if you're going into a nonmonogamous structure just because you don't know what's going to happen. You have to go through go with the flow in that type of structure and just deciding like, hey, I'm going to make all of these decisions for you, or you're going to make these decisions for me. It doesn't work. It really doesn't.
Jase: I think this is a question to ask yourself is also a good test about co-dependency. Similar to the thing about your support network. If it's just that one person or if it has just been that one person in the past. Then this one is similar where it's like you either don't --You don't allow them to make their own decisions or they don't allow you to make your own decisions that's a red flag for something that's going to become a bigger problem. This is already a problem and this is something that you should definitely address and take a look at and look up some stuff about co-dependency. I think it's just a good question to ask yourself. I think I've fallen into this trap before of not feeling like I could make any of my own decisions.
Emily: You're saying you have to consult your partner before you do anything?
Jase: Yes basically from any life decision to things about other relationship, in any way. I think that it's something where it's like you could look at it positively and say well it's just I'm respectful and I want to get my partners opinion or I trust them and they're a great confidant all those things. For me, those things are all true and I still have those aspects with my partners and with my friends that I do really value their feedback but it's like finding the point where I'm not letting them dictate all of my decisions and they are the whole process. Instead, they're consultants to my process. That one has been a challenge for me. I think it's honestly still a work in progress.
Emily: Yes, I get that I know that's a fine line being respectful versus being but I'm my own person and you don't get to dictate what I do in my life. Yes, we've seen those happen with primary relationships where they're like, well I'm unilaterally making a decision for the both of us. We're not allowed to do X, in all of your relationships you're not allowed to do X with this person, without consulting. Maybe you consulted but sometimes you don't and it's just like I have veto power over this sexual act or whatever or because I'm the primary that means obviously you're not allowed to do this thing with other people and it's bullshit and not nice and awful and yes we've seen it backfire spectacularly in various ways, don't do that, maybe don't do that.
Jase: All right the next one and I think it's actually very related to that last one but expands a little further and that is if you feel like you're not able to say no and this could be to your partner or to other people in your life, that if you're not able to actually say no this one I think is just going to make a lot of things more difficult moving forward and I think you really owe it to yourself and you will thank your past self for this in the future. If you do some work on this and really explore this, try to learn a little bit more about this, understand what's going on, just that. It comes back to the idea of being able to make your own decisions but it's being able to say no. I think it's something that we're often not taught very well how to say no right because-
Emily: Yes, I completely agree.
Jase: As kids saying no isn't really an option.
Emily: I am terrible.
I hate that.
Jase: As kids, it's not an option, you do what your parent say and that's that. There's not usually that shift where suddenly your parents start teaching you it is okay to say no. Instead, they're like when you learn to say no and you're three years old, they're like we're going to stop this shit right now because it is annoying as fuck. That's true I'm not going to deny that.
Emily: I feel like it is, however, yes.
Jase: However we usually don't then take the time later to teach no actually that is an important thing to be able to do.
Emily: Yes, I agree. It is important and just for your own sanity, I think for the sake of being able to say hey I overbooked myself this week. I have way too many things going on and I really need to just cut the cord and not do anything for a week or not do anything for a couple of days to be able to say that and I'm terrible at that, someone to say how that I will take way too many jobs on at once and not be able to say no.
Jase: Yes you do [laughs]
Emily: All of those things are-- it's just an important skill to have, learn it now if you don't have it, it's especially non-monogamy it's an important one to have.
Jase: Yes definitely.
Emily: Yes. Our last one finally is going to be you do non-monogamy for your partner or just to save the relationship. You're not going to be ready for this type of structure if you're doing it just to save a relationship or just for your partner, it's not the way to go. I think a lot of people get into non-monogamy because they realize our relationship is failing and they want-- They see their partner interested in other people or their partner maybe like, I think I'm polyamorous so I really want to try this out and you say okay I don't like that idea at all but I'm going to go along with it because it's better than losing you. I think that can really often be a recipe for disaster not always because obviously, you may find that you love it as well or you may find that you love it more than your partner does.
Jase: Definitely I heard that story for--
Emily: Yes absolutely but there is always this possibility that, that's not going to be the case and if it really makes you sick to your stomach or if you know for yourself I'm a monogamous person but I want to try this anyway just to make them happy that's probably not going to work out, it may not. Maybe it will but probably not.
Jase: Yes I feel like this one really touches on something that you were mentioning earlier Emily about prioritizing preserving a relationship over developing it and I think that this one is hard because I feel within the monogamous world we're taught so much that the success of our relationship is based purely on how long it has lasted. I think this really falls into that, it's like, well I have to do this to keep this relationship going even if maybe we want totally different things in our life. I think that I get it I've been there about certain things in my life not about polyamory specifically but about other aspects of my life where it's like, well I don't really want to do this, this isn't right for me but I need to keep this relationship going because in my head it's this is what you do, all of your decisions should just be to keep a relationship lasting longer more than anything else.
Unfortunately I think with this one it's if this really is truly a place for the other person is like, yes this is what's right for me and you're like no this is definitely not for me that's not a situation where it's like, "Oh just felt like communicating right or doing the right thing we can make this relationship last longer but this might be a case where you realize that actually, this relationship either ending or maybe changing into something different meaning a different type of less entangled, maybe no longer romantic or no longer sexual, whatever that is for you. That, that might actually end up being the best thing for you in the long term because it's allowing you both to be honest, and make your own decisions and be the person and have the types of relationships that are right for you even if it might mean changing that relationship. That's a hard thing to accept but I've definitely found, from experience in my own life, when I've gotten whether it was by my choice or theirs it usually ended up being for the better.
Emily: Yes, absolutely, I agree.
Jase: That's a tough one but definitely true.
Jase: That's the list.
Emily: Yes, I hope these were helpful and again the top ones the ones about maybe you're ready if you do all of these thing, like Jase said, you don't need to possess all of those qualities, you don't need to actively be doing every single thing on that list in order to be ready for non-monogamy and likewise if there were a couple of things from the list of maybe you're not ready if you know that you're doing those things, it doesn't mean that 100% you're you aren't ready for non-monogamy but at least take a look at them. Think about it, think about why you want to implement a one penis policy into your relationship or why you want to only have your partner and yourself dating the same person at the same time. Think about maybe changing that because you can still have a great relationship with your current partner while also having a great relationship with other people.
Jase: Yes, it's also important to keep in mind that none of this isn't like a quiz in Cosmo. That's like fill out these questionnaire to decide if you're polyamorous or not. This is just questions of, are you in a good mental and emotional place to try transitioning into non-monogamy? Because, unfortunately, these are not skills that were taught. These aren't options that were given. There stuff that we have to find later on. For those of you who did grow up with these as options, fuck you, that's awesome. I was not one of those people. I know most of us were not brought up with these things being options or these things being talked about. That is just like a "Hey, these are things maybe to work on to look at." It's not like a "You can never do this because of X, Y, or Z," because we're changing all the time.
What about you? What has been your experience with either these positive signs or these red flags, these warning signs? Have you had more of one or the other? Any of that? We would love to hear from you and have that discussion.
Emily: The best place to share your thoughts with other listeners is on this episode's discussion thread, in our private Facebook, or discourse forums. You can get access to these groups and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave us a voicemail at 678-MULTI-05 or you can leave us a voice message on Facebook.
Multiamory is created and produced by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and me, Emily Matlack. Our episodes are edited by Mauricio Baldinetta. Our social media wizard is Will McMillan. Our theme song is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand from The Fractal Cave EP. The full transcript is available on this episode's page on multiamory.com