Welcome to Multiamory's second live show! For this episode, we address some more questions from listeners and talk some about aromanticism in non-monogamy, navigating from swinging to polyamory, family dynamics in polyamory, and more!
Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.
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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory podcast, we're doing another live call-in show with our audience where people can either submit questions by joining us on the call or they can write in their questions and submit those. If you want to do that, you need to be a Patreon and go to our Get Vocal room for this live episode that's happening now. Even for people who aren't comfortable with having their voice on the air or maybe just stage fright or something like that, you can still ask a question and we'll read that there. Or you can just tune in and watch on YouTube live or Facebook live.
Hello to everyone out there who's watching.
Emily: Hi there
Dedeker: Hi everybody
Jase: Yes. All right, so with that let's just jump right in. Let's jump right into the first question.
Emily: We have our first question from Calvin. Calvin said that they would say this on the show, however I don't believe they're here at the moment which is-
Dedeker: They're hiding
Emily: -totally fine, no problem. I will just say it for them, all right.
Jase: Playing the part of Calvin today is Emily.
Emily: Exactly, is Emily. Here I am, okay. "My wife and I opened up to the swinging lifestyle about seven years ago. Although we've enjoyed sex with others, ultimately we discovered it was the deep emotional bonds that we created that we so craved and that awesome sex was the cherry on top. Along those lines she became best friends, platonic with Alexa and I promptly fell for Alexa romantically. We jumped into those feelings before discovering your show and the Smart Girls Guide. Thank you, Dedeker.
Dedeker: Thank you.
Emily: Of course everything blew up in dramatic fashion after that first couple dates. Not knowing how to deal with NRE, jealousy over leading to emotional breakdowns. Through therapy we've since done a lot of work to clarify our needs and boundaries. She's okay with all three of us being together intimately and also wants to be able to have experiences with just her and Alexa. However, it is not okay with me having that.
She accepts the idea of non-monogamous romantic love. However, it is not something that she's open to right now or possibly ever. To me, I've thought of this as a deal-breaker in our otherwise amazing relationship. Am I crazy for wanting more? How do I re-frame this terrible thought that we're incompatible?" That's a big one.
Jase: A lot going on here.
Dedeker: How about the two of you go ahead because I'm used to tackling all this kochu-kochu stuff.
Jase: No, I was thinking you'd start us out, you got this.
Emily: Well, I think it can be a potential deal-breaker. We actually talked about this today and we have been recording a bunch of episodes today and they will be coming out in the future. We talked about deal-breakers in relationships and I think that this could be one. It just kind of depends on the sort of relationship you want to have in terms of what your non-monogamous lifestyle, what you want that to look like. If you want it to be a one penis or vagina policy or if you don't because it kind of potentially sounds like that's along the lines of what's occurring here and if that's okay with you then that's something to address and to move forward with but if it's not then that's also something that I think you have to look at.
It sounds like everything is okay with potentially you being romantically involved with one another at the same time but in terms of having specific emotional interactions or physical interactions with each other, separately, that's maybe not okay. I would encourage them to examine why and for you to ask a lot of questions regarding that and to maybe move through that together but I don't know if they're actually going to change their minds regarding that.
Jase: Yes, it's also one of those things where maybe over time, they will change their mind about that, assuming that she's willing to do that. That she is putting in that work. It's "she" right? That's the right pronoun?
Emily: Yes, I believe so, yes.
Jase: Assuming that she is willing to do that work and is being proactive about continuing that, that might change over time but it's not going to happen immediately, it's not going to happen overnight. I think that is a real serious question to ask yourself of, "Is this something I'm okay with for now?"
Jase: I feel like sometimes people ask these sorts of questions looking for like, "Tell me what the right answer is or tell me what's normal, so I can decide to just do that or not." Fortunately for us, unfortunately, it's a little more complicated than that, it's more about, "What does this mean for you? Is that okay with you? Or is it not?" If it's not, that's also okay. What you do with that answer of, "It's not okay with me." That's a second question, right? Does that mean ending all of the relationships? Does it mean, "Let's not be open for now until we can get this figured out?" I don't know.
Emily: I'm also interested in what the third person wants here.
Dedeker: Of course.
Emily: It seemed to be maybe asked within the confines of this question but I do wonder where their head is at.
Dedeker: That is kind of the missing voice here.
Dedeker: What does this third-person actually want out of all of this? Do they want all of this? Do they want part of this? Stuff like that. Well, I would want to start with maybe a slightly more compassionate approach to the question just in the sense that sometimes this happens where before we've gotten all our ducks in a row and before we figured out exactly what flavor of non-monogamy we want or exactly how we want it to function, sometimes you end up in a situation. It happens all the time where people are like, "We had this threesome and it's really hot and we really hit it off and so now I guess we're maybe kind of in this threesomey triady kind of situation and we've got to figure out as we go along."
Stuff like that actually happens pretty commonly where it's like we get thrown into the deep end before we've had a chance to even look at the swimming manual was the first thing that came to mind.
Jase: That's how you learned to swim. You read the swimming manual.
Emily: You have to just look at the swimming manual, goodness.
Dedeker: The thing that exists.
Dedeker: That does happen and so I would say definitely, offer yourselves some grace and some compassion for the fact that like, "Okay, we kind of ended up in this situation maybe before we had a chance to really iron out exactly what we wanted here." However, I think that that means there is a good opportunity now to sit down and to have a chat about if we could go back to the beginning and start all this over from scratch, what are the things we want to put in place? What are the things that you, Calvin, question-asker would want to advocate for? What are the things that you know that you would want knowing what you know now? What are the kind of questions you would ask this third person?
I think that's a really important conversation to have and again I think, like what Jase said if the results of that conversation is like, "Ooh, maybe there's kind of an incompatibility in what it is that we want." Then from there, then it's figuring out you know is there any middle ground? Is there any compromise? Or is it just going to be an incompatibility?
Emily: Yes, because it does sounds as though the three of them or rather Alexa and Calvin, had some romantic involvement and went on some dates for a while before the whole thing as he said blew up. That is an interesting thing in which to have to navigate as well. You go on these dates with people, you're excited about it and then all of a sudden it's like, well, feelings of another party get involved and they're really harsh feelings or they suck and so it's like, "Okay, never mind. I'm going to backtrack, backtrack, backtrack." I guess I would encourage people just out there listening to also, as Dedecker said, examine these feelings before hopefully, they happen. I mean, you can't have a contingency plan for everything but if you are starting out with non-monogamy, then really to ask yourself those questions of like, "What do I want this to look like?" That's incredibly important.
Dedeker: I think I would also just encourage this person that it's like you've been in the swinging lifestyle, as you say-
Jase: That's true.
Dedeker: -for seven years. Clearly something's working out, you've been able to negotiate and manage participating in those kinds of activities, so I would imagine that you have the capacity, as a couple to negotiate new and scary territory because you probably had to do that at the beginning of this whole journey.
Emily: Or maybe they've always had to do that together rather than separately and so that separate part is the challenge here.
Dedeker: Try to be encouraging.
Emily: No. I guess I'm just trying to see the-
Dedeker: You're trying to build them up.
Emily: - see the reasoning behind it.
Jase: I think that's always the balance though is you do want to be encouraged and know that this is possible and that many people have been in this situation where it seemed like this can't work out. She wants this thing that I'm not okay with and we thought it was going to be okay and then it turned out to not be and then it does end up being okay. You do end up figuring out.
You do end up coming to a place where it's like, "Okay, I realized there were some things that freaked me out about this that I wasn't ready for but over time I was able to understand that." Emily and I had an experience like that-
Jase: - when we first opened up our relationship years ago where it was all of a sudden wasn't okay or not even all of a sudden but just it never felt quite right and we had to stop it for a little bit before-
Emily: Jumping back in for real.
Jase: - yes. Then it was great. Yes, that's true. Then on the other hand, also be realistic and sometimes you can hold on to this idea of like, "Well I'm going to do something I don't really like because maybe eventually it'll be okay" I would also caution against that. It's threading that needle in between those two things.
Dedeker: Definitely. Just so people know we are on YouTube live, we are on Facebook live. I started a watch party in our private Facebook group so that I can watch myself. It's very inceptiony there's many layers deep here. We're interacting with people in the comments there. If you want to join us on the Get Vocal platform we posted that link in the Patreon group for our Patreons to participate. In the Facebook group, there's also a Facebook event where we posted the link. We had a little bit of a snafu earlier on with some technical difficulties where had to-
Jase: Have to change our link.
Dedeker: - yes. We had to create a new link so hopefully, you're at the right link. Do we want to move onto another question?
Jase: I'm going to post a link in the Discord as well.
Dedeker: Okay. If you're writing in I'm going to open up our YouTube channel as well so we can have a sense of what people are saying. You're not just screaming into a void, I promise.
Emily: Should we do a Curious Poly Dude voice?
Dedeker: Yes, can I read that one?
Emily: Please, yes.
Dedeker: The self-proclaimed Curious Poly Dude has written in saying how can you really be in practice non-hierarchical? Is it possible to love equally people that you are in relationships for different durations? What do you all think?
Emily: We've talked about equal not being necessarily the goal.
Jase: Yes, that's a big one.
Emily: Yes, speak to that because, for example-
Dedeker: You speak to that.
Emily: - it's simply because both of you are in relationships with each other. You've been in a relationship with one another for almost six years and then you're also in relationships with people that haven't been with you as long but I think they're still incredibly important. Maybe equality isn't exactly the thing here. In non-hierarchical you would still call yourselves non-hierarchical.
Dedeker: Are you talking about us?
Dedeker: Okay, I got a little distracted.
Jase: I think that that question about hierarchy is such an interesting one because I think when people hear non-hierarchy or they hear people say something like relationship anarchy or I don't do hierarchy that the assumption can be that that means all my relationships are exactly equal to me. They all mean the same thing to me, whatever. I think that that is just not realistic. That's not practical. I don't think that's how people work.
If you think about your friends or even your family members maybe you would even argue with your family members you love them all equally but you don't love them all the same. You don't spend necessarily the same amount of time with all of them. You don't--
Dedeker: Thank God.
Jase: That would just be a lot of time if you did that. I got sit in the same amount of time with my second cousin that I do with my brother, whatever it is. That's not realistic. I think people think that non-hierarchy means that. It could mean that for you. That might mean really avoiding that. I think that there's this difference between hierarchy when people talk about like I have a primary partner who allows me to have secondary partners or a primary partner who can veto secondary partners or a primary partner who if they have a bad day, I'm going to cancel plans with anyone else just because they had a bad day, something like that.
There's a difference between that type of hierarchy which is the stuff we tend to speak against and say giving one person power over another relationship that they're not part of is not a healthy thing. However, if you want to think about hierarchy just in terms of everything in our life is a hierarchy of Maslow's hierarchy of needs it's not about this need is more important than the other it's just like maybe this one is more fundamental to your life. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch with that metaphor.
Emily: No, I like that.
Dedeker: I will say this person, I don't know if they intended to do this, but they said specifically about in practice how can you be non-hierarchical. I want to shift a little bit into the day to day actual practical considerations with that. For my life anyway, this isn't necessarily something that works out for everyone's life but for my life definitely one of the huge major practicalities of being non-hierarchical is not choosing to live with just one partner.
Now, again, some people do this some people don't but for me, I split my time throughout the year. I'll live with Jase for a chunk of the year, I'll live with Alex for a chunk of the year. Either it's that split like that or I split between Jase, Alex, and then also some time by myself or some time traveling or whatever. I'm able to do that because I can live out of a suitcase pretty easily. For me, moving locations is not a big, huge upheaval.
That necessarily work for a lot of people. I know for myself that when I do live with someone even if I'm intending to not be very hierarchical, of course, all the practicalities come in. The functioning hierarchy comes in of, "Well, I'm living with this--
Emily: You're living with this person.
Dedeker: Exactly. I do have to run by them. Hey, I'm not coming home tonight or I'm going to be gone for a whole week so you need to feed the cat or whatever it is. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that but I know for me, I get a lot of joy out of being able to have that living experience with multiple partners. That's a big part of it for me.
Jase: I think that someone is mentioning in the chat on YouTube like hitting on that thing of the unhealthy power dynamics. I think when people talk about the evils of hierarchy that's really what they're referring to not the idea that like, "Maybe I share more finances with this person or maybe I even spend more time with this person or maybe I do live with this person and not someone else." There's a difference there.
Emily: It's just those like the ideas that we get in our minds about I live with this person or they're my nesting partner which I guess is the same thing. That essentially means that they come first above all other people and all other things. That I guess is what we're trying to discourage against. Even for myself, I am only with one partner. I consider myself monogamous, however, I also consider myself in many ways a relationship anarchist because I do things like I really schedule a specific time with the two of them.
I'm with Jase and Dedeker a lot and I think that's a very important part of my life. I think that not everyone would be okay with that or that would not be everyone's cup of tea within their hierarchical setting of their lifestyle. I'll also call my mother every single day. She's a huge part of my life. My friends in Tucson are a big part of my life. I think even though I have a significant other who I live with, I still have a bunch of different parts of my life that take up a huge amount of emotional bandwidth.
That is maybe different than just the idea that I live with the person or I'm with a husband. That isolated nuclear family takes precedence over everything just because, obviously. That's it. It can look a variety of different ways, absolutely. That can all take many different forms because people out there are solo-poly and would never ever live with another partner or they really make sure that everybody gets equal amounts of time or whatever.
Jase: I feel like those are the minority though.
Emily: Yes, it probably is. I don't know. I'm not totally sure but yes, absolutely, that may not be what most people do. Non-hierarchy can look a variety of different ways.
Dedeker: I think that's related to the power dynamics thing. I think sometimes it can be related to how you choose to respond to a partner's needs because I think there is a big difference where-- Let me try to come up with an example. If my partner Alex is like, "Hey, I would love to see you on my birthday. I really would like to hang out on my birthday, that's really important to me." If I was like, "Uh, well, already made plans with Jase that day. We had this long-standing plans and the thing is that Jase is my real primary partner. Jase is my primary partner and so that's how I'm really sorry but you're secondary so you agreed to this when we first started dating. We'll figure out another time to hang out that's not on your birthday." If that's what's dictating your decision-making process with your partners then we're getting into some of the unhealthy power dynamics versus if I have a partner who comes to me and who can very legitimately be like, "Hey, I feel like we're not quite getting enough time together. I feel like you're spending a lot of time with your other partners, I'd like to figure that out."
If I have the freedom to be like, "Okay, yes, let's figure that out. Let's figure out something actionable, let's figure out getting some more time on the calendar or whatever, we can negotiate that together." Does that make sense?
Jase: Yes. I think also the concept of veto is the ultimate summation of that I'm giving someone else power over you just because I have labeled them primary. I think that's what it comes down to. It's not something we would do with a friend or a family member, that's a weird one. It's absurd that we would expect someone to just subject themselves to that, be like oh yes, we're going to have this relationship and I want you to be vulnerable to me. At any time someone else who's unrelated to this relationship can just end it no questions asked, that's a problem.
Dedeker: I'm going to read some of the comments that we've gotten.
Jase: Oh, sure yes.
Dedeker: On YouTube, it says validity and equality are different, all our relationships are valid but to have the expectation of them being equal isn't really realistic. Also, here in the Get Vocal chat room, we have someone who says that hierarchy seems incompatible with collective decision making. People using other people's preferences instead of stating the agreement as their own boundaries, that totally makes sense. Do we have any comments in the Facebook group? No, just a bunch of people saying hi.
Dedeker: Again if you just tuned in we are on YouTube live. If you go to our YouTube channel you can find the link to that. We're at Get Vocal. If you're on the Get Vocal platform you can actually come up on stage and ask your question if you so desire. We've posted a link to our Get Vocal chat in our private Patreon group and in the event within the private Patreon group. If you are in our Patreon group you can join our little watch party that we have going on or just on Facebook live. You can see it all over the place basically is what we're getting at.
Another person who submitted a question indicated that they would be willing to read it on the air. Now this person is in the YouTube chat and not in the Get Vocal chat. This is Tod, T-O-D. Tod, if you're listening, join us in the Get Vocal chat so that we can invite you up on stage to ask your question. I'll give a couple of minutes to see if you can rustle up the nerve to do that. If you can't that's okay, we'll still read it but--
Emily: You have to use Chrome.
Dedeker: You have to use Chrome but in the meantime do we want to read another question?
Jase: Yes, we also have another person in the Get Vocal room who's been trying to put together a question for a little while so he might do that at some point as well but yes let's read another one.
Dedeker: I like this question that was submitted by Joshua, Lord of Syrup, Slayer of Waffles.
Emily: Love that so much.
Jase: That's a good name.
Dedeker: Jase, You want to read it?
Jase: Sure, yes. This one is in an ever-increasing cyber connected rather than interpersonally connected world, what are some of the ways you've been able to maintain connections with loved ones and still maintained self-love and stability among emotionally.
Emily: Can I start with this one?
Emily: There are articles out there and studies that are done about how social media actually makes you less happy just in general overall. I think even like a lot of influencers and people out there have said that it is very important to implement a no social media or a social media blackout for a day, a week, a month whatever. That is absolutely true, my partner also uninstalled the Facebook app on his phone for example. He has to let go if he wants to go on Facebook, he has to go to the website and there a couple of extra steps than putting it on there immediately or going to Instagram immediately.
I'm not great about this, I really enjoy watching my figure skating videos on Instagram and stuff like that. I like seeing what's happening in the Multiamory Patreon Group and that's very easy for me so I think it is absolutely a work-life or a balance with social media and with your daily life. We've talked about things on this show also really trying to be very engaged with your loved one at the moment that you're with them. We've talked about putting away your phone or having okay, we have 10 minutes right now if we need to check emails or we need to do something let's do that.
Then other than those 10 minutes let's put away our phone or not be plugged in in that way and try to be really present with one another. All of us are very here in our phone as opposed to being present and engaged.
Jase: Yes, definitely.
Dedeker: What do you think, Jase?
Jase: I think that for me actually, I was thinking about this with the phone thing because it's a lot of us I feel like when we're bored it's just like well, I'll pull out my phone, flip it open and usually the easiest thing to access is some kind of social media. It's the thing that's constantly nagging you to be like hey, check on me. What I found is actually having something else on my phone to occupy my time with when I have those moments of I have a little time to fill. For me in the past sometimes it's been different games or things like that but honestly, that's a different kind of engagement that I'm not always looking for.
Also, I don't always want to be like looking like I'm playing a game and so something I've started doing is using my phone for studying. For example, I have an app for learning Japanese vocabulary and since that's something that I'm working on I'll just be like oh, I've got some minutes and I'll do this. I'm typing in my answers and going in and it might look like I'm texting, probably people assume that's what I'm doing or posting on social media but I'm actually studying vocab. I have another app for learning computer stuff like programming languages and things like that so I'm doing a C++ course on there.
It's like I can pull that up and answer a few questions so it's like a thing I'll do if I'm in a Lyft ride, in an Uber I'll do that instead of flipping through social media. Then when I do go on social media it's for a purpose, it's because I want to check on the Patreon group or its because I want to send a message to a specific person or I want to see what someone's up to or look at events coming up or something I have a reason for it. It's not just that time fill and that for me has made a big difference. Then the other one is just a quick tip for Facebook is if you like to check Facebook Messenger and that's the way that you message people is to go to Messenger.com instead of Facebook.com.
It's only the messenger part of Facebook. It looks very similar to the Messenger you get on your phone but it's just that as a stand-alone thing and for me that was a huge game-changer when I'm at work especially. It's like I'm at work I can have that up and there's no Facebook there, it's just the Facebook messages. That's a quick practical tip for you.
Dedeker: I guess the couple of things that come to mind for me. First of all, I would one-up you with the time fill thing and honestly, these days I love daring myself to be a little bit bored. Seriously, when you're in the Uber or you're waiting in line, I love just being like I'm not going to get on my phone and I'm just going to be because really usually it's less than 10 minutes.
Emily: After our retreat that was amazing.
Dedeker: Exactly and so I've done a bunch of meditation retreats where it's completely technology-free, the two of these fellows came along with me and that was definitely a really good detox. It really does teach you that it's like you won't die. You really won't die-
Emily: In fact, you'll feel amazing.
Dedeker: -if you don't look at it for at least 10 minutes. Sometimes even that of the small amounts of time sitting on the train or sitting on your commute if you're commuting in an Uber or something like that or when you're waiting for your food to arrive at the restaurant. It's like there's all these little gaps of time where it's like really, just give yourself that time, dare yourself to be a little bit bored, see what it feels like and realize that you're going to be okay.
As far as getting back to the whole connection thing and maintaining a connection with loved ones but also maintaining your well being, I found for me a couple of different things have helped.
One of them being we've talked about this on the podcast before but if you're in a long-distance relationship or honestly even if you're not doing more face to face via technology.
Jase: More like face time or Skype or whatever.
Dedeker: Doing more FaceTime, sending more pictures, sending more pictures just of random stuff throughout your day, relying less on the text and more on the visual. I recently got into Marco Polo not too long ago and it's actually pretty fun. Actually what I do like about Marco Polo, is that unlike texting, it's not necessarily a constant back and forth. I might have a little burst where I'm going back and forth with someone or I might have, like with my partner Alex, who's in a drastically different time zone, I can leave him a video message that he'll get when he wakes up and then he can do the same for me. It's just nice being able to see this person's face without it having to be a coordinated video call and also not necessarily being text or interacting over social media or stuff like that. I think I found that that's what works for me, I suppose. I will say that there are some days where I'm like, "If I didn't have a long-distance partner, I would throw this thing out the window and not touch my phone and just I cut myself off." Because I do have a long-distance partner, it is a very important part of us staying in touch. There's that.
Jase: Do you want to move onto Todd's question?
Dedeker: Yes. Let me just check and see what people are saying. Yes. Marco Polo, there are some questions about Marco Polo. Just look for it in the app store. It's basically asynchronous video messaging, just makes it super easy. It's almost like a walkie talkie, but with video messaging.
Emily: It's pretty cool, actually.
Dedeker: I thought it was super silly.
Emily: I know, but it's neat.
Dedeker: The first time I did it, I was like, "I'm just talking to myself on a video. This is weird. I don't know how I feel about this." Then I actually got into it and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it, especially if you have any kind of long-distance partner. It's a good way to get some easy face time, essentially.
Emily: Perfect. Oh, and Nancy also posted one.
Dedeker: Another question. Todd did give permission for us to just go ahead and read the question without needing to invite him up on stage.
Emily: Should I do it?
Dedeker: Yes. Why don't you go ahead?
Emily: Okay, great. "Ethical implies intent and long-term positive results. How does one go about intentionally focusing on family creation in a poly mindset? In context with monogamy, you're seeking a mate for yourself and your children. How does a poly multiple plan children and the resulting 20 to 30-year investment in costs?" None of us have children, but--
Jase: We know lots of people who do and we know polycules who do. It's a great question and there's not just one answer to it. That is something to consider is I think especially when it comes to the legal and financial aspects of that is you do need to figure that out because, really, whether you're married or not, the biological parents or the adoptive parents or whoever is legally the guardians of this child are legally responsible for them and that's an important thing. That means that even if things didn't work out with you, there are at least some systems in place to help make sure that everyone is accountable for their part of the child, whether that system actually--
Emily: The arm of the child, their--
Dedeker: Do you mean the part of the child-rearing process or do you mean the physical part of the child because that's the way that you said it?
Jase: Yes, I realized that. They're part of the child-raising financial burden. It's like, "I'm going to pay for the right arm." There are systems in place. Whether that system always works very well is maybe another question, but there's at least something. Whereas in a polycule situation, there's both that if things don't work out and this was something that you all worked on, you made this decision as a group and committed to this as a group. Whoever is not actually the legal parent though, doesn't actually have any legal obligation to the child and, on the other hand, doesn't have legal rights to the child in terms of being able to visit them or travel abroad with them or take them to the hospital or make decisions for them if necessary. There's both of those, which that's maybe a whole legal conversation that we've talked about a little bit on some of our episodes where we've talked with lawyers about the logistics of all that. I would definitely recommend seeking someone out for real professional help with how to set that up legally for more than two people.
If you're just talking emotionally and things about that, I think it really depends on what your situation is. I would also ask you the question if kids are important to you, what do you need to have in place in order to have those kids? Then maybe challenge that a little bit, because I think some people assume it's like-- Monogamous people assume if I want to have kids, I have to get married. That's not necessarily true. I think sometimes people assume with polyamory, it's like, "Well if I want to have kids, it's got to be with this set established polycule." Maybe that's not true either. Maybe that could work for you. If this is something that's important to you, I think just having to wait for that right blend of people who all want that same thing and want it in the same way is going to be a challenging thing and maybe not something worth waiting for it to have those kids. It doesn't mean you can't still seek those partners and try to build that type of community, but it might not look just one particular way.
Dedeker: Right. I think even outside of the legal considerations, you're also going to have to consider, I guess, the interpersonal considerations of if you and multiple partners want to share parenting responsibilities together. You really got to get into the weeds of figuring out what are expectations--
Emily: What that looks like.
Dedeker: How do we divide up labor? How do we feel about discipline? Do I feel more comfortable if I'm a sole parent and I do most of the decision making and then the rest of you are support, which is how some people choose to do it? Is it something where while the person who is carrying the child is pregnant, that they expect everyone else is going to support that person? These are all things where I've seen people get into trouble because everyone came to the decision just assuming everyone else is on the same page and then having to figure it out after the fact.
I would really encourage just plan more than you think that you've got to plan. Or ask more questions that you think that you should question as far as figuring out how to divide up, not just the legal responsibility for raising a child, but also just the day-to-day personal responsibility and how we feel about being co-parents, essentially. Then second to that, since none of us are parenting experts.
Emily: Or parents.
Dedeker: Not unless you all haven't told me something yet.
Emily: That'd be very strange.
Dedeker: We're not parenting experts. None of us have had to make this specific negotiation, at least not yet, and don't really have intentions to but who knows? I would really recommend checking out the writings of Jessica Burde. B-U-R-D-E. She wrote a book called The Polyamorous Home. You can find it on Amazon. It's literally less than $5 for the e-book version. On her blog, which is polyamoryonpurpose.com she also has a lot of blog posts about navigating these kinds of things, not only navigating polyamory and pregnancy and child-rearing but also navigating cohabiting with multiple partners, as well as navigating things like mental illness and all kinds of stuff like that. She is usually the resource that I send people to because she actually has much more real-world experience with these things, more so than we do.
Emily: I know for myself, just I was born out of wedlock to a mother who was very much like, "I do not want anyone else involved in the child-rearing and I want to do it all by myself." I will say that having other figures in my life that were very strong adults was incredibly beneficial to my upbringing and just the way in which I have evolved as a human. I do think that in the grand scheme of things, if it works and if it goes well and if people are on the same page, then for the child, it's incredibly beneficial to have not just two parents or not just one parent, but a variety of people around them that are really strong, lovely role models for not only awesome non-monogamy and awesome changing the scope of what relationships look like, but also just good people in a kid's life as they're growing up.
I would encourage and hope that if people are getting into it, that they look to the positives of those possibilities because sometimes I do think, "Wow. What would it have been like had I had more than just one parent really being the one who chose how I was raised?" Having multiple people might have been really interesting.
Dedeker: I'm going to read some of our comments that we've gotten. In the YouTube, someone is saying, "If you choose to have kids first and then try to find a specific poly situation after, avoiding some of the practical hierarchy issues can become slightly harder." That is definitely true. It's funny because I was about to make the counterpoint, actually. If you're interested in raising a kid with multiple parents, it doesn't necessarily have to be, "I have to sit and wait until I find all the right people." Because we also know plenty of polycules where the kids were around first, then mom and dad both started dating people who ended up becoming stable long-term figures and who almost became like step-parents, essentially, as far as their role in the child's life and in the rearing of the kids and that ended up working out really well, but of course, that's going to be up to the discretion of the people who already have the kid, so definitely some pros and cons there for sure.
Jase: I guess just to answer that too. In terms of practical hierarchy issues, it's like when you have a kid, your practical hierarchy is that kid. I think that's great.
Jase: That's not a problem.
Emily: -non-negotiable there.
Jase: I think that's okay. If you're saying the practical hierarchy with the other parent of the kid, yes, I get that. However, I think with everything we've been talking about the practical hierarchy isn't the issue. That's just the reality of you got to be there for this kid. Potentially, other people might come along who will have more of those significant parenting roles for this kid, but at least at first, it's like, yes, you're going to have a hierarchy about that. Same would be if you had a business partner. Even if they're not a romantic partner too, it's like, yes, there's going to be a certain hierarchy to decisions I make in a practical way, but we're just talking about it's a little different with a hierarchy where someone's getting to institute rules on someone else. Not to go back into that whole conversation again.
Dedeker: In our Facebook group, we have someone who's saying that there is some precedent for legal agreements of that nature for non-monogamous groups of people, at least here in California. That is true. I believe the precedent that was set-- There was a precedent set in California specifically for three adults to get legal parenting rights to a child. I remember that that case though it wasn't a happy triad or a happy V. It was a really unfortunately very dramatic and terrible scenario, if I recall correctly.
Jase: That's what I remember.
Dedeker: This is the case that I'm thinking of is that it wasn't exactly a nice situation, but it is a precedent. Since there is a legal precedent that does give some hope that it's if there was a triad or a V or just three people who wanted to get parenting rights for a child that maybe that could be used as some kind of legal recourse or leverage in the future, potentially.
Jase: There have been a couple of cases in other countries though where there have been polyamorous triads or maybe even quads or larger than that who have been awarded custody of a child together, not here in the US that I'm aware of though.
Dedeker: Yes, other places though.
Jase: That's an actual happy, intentional triad and not more of a like this was a step-parent, but this was the partner who was actually around more in the child's life than the actual father or mother was. It was more of that type of a situation, but it is at least something to point to and be like, "Hey, look. We did it for this. Why not do it in this situation where these people are all trying to support and make this child's life better?"
Dedeker: Yes. Nancy, I know that you're here in the GetVokl. Do you feel comfortable popping into one of our slots so that you can ask your question?
Emily: Our available slot.
Jase: Just hit grab this spot.
Dedeker: Come on down, Nancy.
Jase: Emily, you're going to sing The Price Is Right song again?
Emily: Come on down. Tu tu tu tu tu tu tu dah.
Dedeker: Got to keep going.
Emily: It's just like that over and over again. Tu tu tu tu tu. There they are. Hi there.
Jase: Good to see you again.
Nancy: Good to see you.
Jase: Please hit us with your question.
Nancy: I didn't type it or copy it, so I'll try and remember it.
Dedeker: I'm looking at it, so I'll quiz you on it.
Nancy: I've been exploring aromanticism because I realized that I identify that way. What I've been trying to figure out- I think in the past when I look back at my old relationships, the people who are very, very romantic, would not feel mutual. Their expression of love toward me wouldn't get reciprocated even though I was performing romance in some way. I'm identifying as solo polyamorous and relationship anarchist, and I feel like I have a lot to explain. Explaining the aromanticism, I still don't feel like I have this handle on can I negotiate that even with somebody, can they even understand what it's like to not feel that way, and what it will be like not to get that reciprocated, even if I'm performing something like I'm willing to hold your hand, but it doesn't feel the same way to me as it does maybe to somebody who's alloromantic.
I've been dating, but it feels weird because I feel like I'm even performing romance doing that when I would rather be relating with people who I already trust and yet the path to I feel desire, I feel attraction, I'm going to turn that into a move and still trying to map that out for myself. I guess I just wanted to ask because I thought you all might have some valuable insights for me, and maybe the group will. I've had to explain this in a way because it's not a feeling for me. That feeling of attraction is more-- It's logistical in a lot of ways like I'm always fit. Or there's going to be some matches, and I can see that that could work, versus it being, "They're so hot. I'm so excited. I'm so pulled towards that person".
Dedeker: I have a billion clarifying questions that I want to ask because I love this question. I guess the first question-- Gosh, let me see if I can make them not all jumbled up in my head. First question being probably just a simple answer, do you consider yourself allosexual but aromantic?
Nancy: Yes, I'll even get NRE that I have to slow down once it starts, but the initial romantic attraction doesn't happen in the same way. I don't even understand. I don't know what romance is . I have no idea.
Dedeker: Okay, that was going to be one of my follow up questions because I think that aromanticism can show up very differently for different people. For you, is it along the lines of traditional expressions of romance toward someone? "I'll do them, but they don't got the juice like they do for other people". Is it more the sense of like, "Sure, we can date. We can get close, but I'm not carrying these super romantic notions of we're meant to be together, or it's much more intense or much more important than my friendships? Do you mind talking a little bit more about how aromanticism shows up for you?
Nancy: I feel like up to this point before identifying as aromantic I responded to other people's feelings of attraction more than I experienced them and moved myself. Then I started saying, "Okay, I could actually want some--" figure out who I wanted to relate with and just ask them so being more direct. I like showing care, but I like it when it's thoughtful and specific, and it doesn't have to have a romantic-- There's this hook in romance that is gross to me like, "I'm going to give this to you so I can get it back".
Dedeker: I see.
Nancy: "I'm going to give this to you because you want it".
Dedeker: I see. Is that something that you've bumped up against before with people?
Nancy: Yes, I really try to give people what they want when I'm relating with them, and it puzzles me when they don't try and give me what I want. I was anti-marriage from the get-go. I was asking my mom the other day did I ever fantasize about being a bride, and she's like, "Princess? Yes. Bride? No". Because I want to be in charge.
Dedeker: I have just my last question, and then I'll let y'all weigh in on this. I guess my last question is you said something along the lines of what I'd rather be doing is connecting to a friend that I trust or friends that I trust. I'm curious to know a little bit more about that. Is it the kind of thing where when you're in a new relationship, it just feels better for you to be more intimate with friends where the relationship is already established? How does that show up for you?
Nancy: It's much more like the NRE feels false like I don't know this person actually well enough to want to be with them, and I have all these chemicals, and then the NRE wears off, and then I don't really like them at all. I'd much rather be relating with somebody I know I like and I know I want to spend time with already, but then once I'm friends with somebody, I'm changing this now but I have tended not to try and initiate anything after a friendship is established.
Dedeker: Sometimes I feel that way, but I thought that was just me being jaded. That's what I thought that was. What do y'all think?
Nancy: I thought it was standard.
Jase: I think that what you hit on there is really interesting, that thing of once someone becomes a friend, then it stops pursuing anything else.
Emily: I wonder the difference between the two, I guess a little bit. Especially from a relationship anarchy standpoint, can a person be a friend and still potentially also move in a direction that is not romantic but something else, something-- Is there a differentiation there?
Nancy: I think I'm willing. If somebody started expressing interest towards me, I couldn't tell if that's romantic or not. All of these distinctions are relatively new, so I have to go back and look at it retrospectively, rather than being something I can say. I think I've tended to fall into NRE and then perform romance and then have that fail, and the relationship ends, or a couple of good times, we've moved on past the NRE.
The hard thing, the thing that feels heartbreaking to me is that somebody would express romance and I wouldn't necessarily-- I would perform something back, but it wouldn't necessarily have that matched feeling. I feel like they give up, and then I give, and then we're having cohabiting, where neither of us are doing anything romantic. The whole way in which we exchange love starts to fade. Of course, I also was living with people, so that was bad for me because I'm solo. I really figured out that I can't live with people.
Dedeker: I guess what comes to mind for me, I don't know if this is necessarily the solution or not, but I'm wondering, what are the behaviors that maintain intimacy with a close friend that don't feel like performing romance? I'm wondering if that's your strong suit, and I'm wondering if it's something along the lines of maybe even having a boundary for yourself or checking yourself before you get into the weird performing romance mode. Maybe it's just more of a shift of like, "This is how I know that I can invest in love in you". This person that I'm getting to know and that I'm getting to be more intimate with, that's separate from what feels like performing romance.
I don't know what the difference is between those two things for you, but I'm wondering if it might be something like that. I don't know. What do the two of you think?
Jase: I was going to go along with the relationship anarchy sort of thing. I was explaining relationship anarchy to some coworkers actually a year ago or something. I was talking about how you can have sexual relations with someone and you can have romantic connections, and you can have friendships with someone, and you could have each of those pieces individually, and that one doesn't have to come with another. One of them asked me the question. They're like, "What's the difference between being romantic and being friends-
Emily: That's my question.
Jase: -if you take away the sex and touching? Not just sex, but also kissing or holding hands. I was like, "Yes, you're right".
Emily: It's like the ideas that we place upon it, which I think is in essence what you're saying is that these performative things are more what we place on romantic relationships rather than it just being a little bit more maybe genuine when you get into friendships. It's like, "I'm with you. I think you're awesome, and we're together in that capacity simply because we relate to each other on that level". Not like, "I think maybe something cool and sexual and fun and funny will be here, so I'm going to get into that with you and be performative about it". You just brought up a lot of things that were really fascinating and make me question how I've related to people in the past and if there really needs to be a difference there.
Jase: What I will say though is the challenge with that, you may have faced this already, is that say you went about the whole thing differently and instead, the pitch, as it were, to other people is, "Hey, I'm looking for really good friends who I can be sexual with", because those are the pieces that make sense and that feel honest and true for you. The challenge with that is that while-- As you've seen, it's hard to get your mind there about it. You're being very intentional and putting effort into that. For a lot of people who don't put that effort in, you end up in situations where you can get taken for granted or someone's like, "Yes, cool". but then as soon as something else that fits more of the romantic model comes along, it's like, "Bye".
I do think that's a challenge. It's definitely something to be aware of. It's not so simple as just like, "Yes, just throw out the romance thing, and you're fine", as you've experienced. That still could be a place to start that conversation about like, "Hey, I know that being with me is going to look different than being with someone else, but maybe that's a way of describing what that could look like", with the caveat of, "but that does mean commitment to me" in terms of "I want a friend I can trust isn't just going to leave me as soon as someone else comes along".
Nancy: We can stop having sex if that's not going to work for you anymore, but quitting your friendship because we're not having sex is not the kind of friend I want.
Emily: Totally. Let's not abandon the whole situation here.
Nancy: I think it might be really interesting for me to stop performing romance, thinking that it will convey my care. If I actually was just like, "This is how I show my care", and I do genuine things, maybe performing romance I didn't feel was actually a problem.
Emily: Yes. Maybe the two things are a little bit more linked than one previously thought. I don't know.
Nancy: It was sending this message like I didn't actually feel it. I didn't love them. They could feel that it was an inauthentic action.
Jase: Then maybe finding the things that are genuine for you might ironically make them feel more loved when the things you thought you were doing to make them feel loved didn't.
Emily: Were less genuine.
Nancy: It doesn't work.
Jase: Maybe people are a lot more savvy at seeing through that than we think.
Emily: Than we give them credit for, yes.
Dedeker: Possibly. Thank you very much, Nancy.
Emily: That was really fascinating.
Dedeker: We appreciate your bravery and coming on the show. We will send you-- What are we going to send Nancy?
Jase: A pen, I think. If you want one.
Dedeker: We'll send some exclusive Multiamory merch as a thank you for your courage. We'll see you around the Patreon group.
Nancy: Awesome. Thanks.
Emily: Thank you.
Dedeker: For those of you that have just tuned in, we are live streaming on GetVokl. We are also live streaming on YouTube Live. If you go to our Multiamory channel, you can see that video. We are pushing to Facebook Live. We're also running a little watch party in the private Facebook Patron group.
Emily: Little watch party.
Dedeker: Basically, where we're at, we have time for about one more question. We may do a bonus question. I'm going to drop in our questions submission link into the watch party and also into the Getvokl so that if there's anyone who is currently watching us, you can still submit your question. Maybe it'll be our last question of the evening. I don't know if you're lucky, so I'm going to drop that link in. I thought that this question from Coren in our list here was really interesting. Someone want to read that?
Jase: Go for it. Read it.
Dedeker: I'm dropping in links.
Jase: I'll read it. I'll read it. Here's the question. Is "ethical non-monogamy" actually mononormative? Why do we frame ethics around our partners consenting to us having multiple relationships? Isn't our ethical obligation met by disclosing the information needed for our partners to make their own informed autonomous decisions? I think we need to parse this out here.
Emily: Yes. Are ethical obligation met by disclosing the information needed for our partners to make their own informed, autonomous decision.
Dedeker: I think my entry point to this is something that's been a little bit of a pet peeve of mine for--
Jase: You're going to take my thing?
Dedeker: About the consent thing?
Jase: No, different thing.
Dedeker: Okay, different thing. Good. The thing that's kind of gotten under my skin is so the word consent, yes. Good word. Consent, good thing. Yes, consent. Got to have consent in our relationships, in our interactions, yes. We love consent. I have seen that word commandeered in certain situations where it's more about like, "I didn't consent to you going on that date on Friday night as opposed to Thursday night". It reminds me of it because this question is specifically asked, why do we frame ethics around our partner's consent to us having multiple relationships? I do think it gets a little bit tricky.
I know the thing that bothers me about a statement like that is that it's like consent is something that you give within your own realm of influence I feel and within your own boundaries. Of course, we could get into an argument for three hours about the semantics of that, but just roll with me here for a second. It does feel weird to me when people are like, "I consented or didn't consent to this thing that this other person is going to do with their body and their time and their autonomy". That does feel weird, or it doesn't necessarily feel autonomous or necessarily ethical.
That feels more like it's a different reframing of like, "Hey, I'm pissed that you scheduled a date for Friday without asking me first or, "Hey, I didn't give you permission to take this date on Friday", in more extreme, maybe less healthy versions. I feel it starts to get into that a little bit where I feel that usage of the term, consent or consensual, starts to get a little bit odd because it starts to get more associated with permission or allowance or things like that. What do you think, Emily?
Emily: Yes, I guess you're right. It's interesting because I've always thought of ethical non-monogamy and those words as just not necessarily that one is consenting to their partner doing anything or being with other people, but rather just that that's a decision that all parties together have made and they are aware of it. That's it. Simply that they've make a decision because those decisions as individuals and as partners are going to be specific to them but not necessarily that it's like, "I'm okay with you doing X, Y, or Z," but rather that, "That's the kind of relationship structure I want to be in. If you want to be in that kind of relationship structure, then that's awesome. Then we're compatible, and then we're going to be doing this together".
I don't know. I've never thought of it. I guess I've just never even looked at the word consensual as a part of that, but it is obviously a part of that when we speak about consensual non-monogamy.
Jase: Did you have something?
Dedeker: I do, but go ahead.
Jase: There's two things. One is just real quick. I think that something that maybe doesn't get talked about enough is the difference between the terms ethical non-monogamy and consensual non-monogamy. I think that the question here seems like it could apply to either of those maybe slightly differently. Basically, I personally prefer the term consensual non-monogamy because the point of it is that everyone is consenting, that this isn't being forced upon anyone in this situation, rather than ethical non-monogamy which is this question of like, "What does ethical mean?"
Emily: Just that people are aware and that you're not doing it in an adulterous fashion or whatever.
Jase: Sure, but that's what I mean is that ethical though is debatable because ethics is the whole thing. People have different questions about--
Emily: Yes. You can major on it in college.
Jase: Right. Whereas to me, consensual is-- Obviously, it's something people can still debate, but I feel like--
Emily: This is a semantic is a question. Yes.
Jase: But I feel like consensual is a little bit more of just someone's consenting to be in this situation or not. Now, to get to this question though which is a little bit different, I've personally-- Maybe this comes to if you use the thing of like, "This couple is consensually non-monogamous", or like, "My partner lets me be ethically non-monogamous", then yes, I could see that being a little mononormative. The media does that a lot where it's always a polyamorous couple, maybe a throuple, but it's always multiple people. Emily just threw up a little in here mouth. Yes.
Emily: Sorry. For all y'all out there, the word throuple, we just don't as much.
Jase: Yes, but I think that if you think of it instead of ethical non-monogamy or consensual non-monogamy is something that each person in that relationship is doing, I think that is a little different because then it's not like, "I'm not monogamous because my partner says it's okay", but it's, "I'm ethically or consensually non-monogamous because everyone I have a relationship with is consenting to be in that relationship with knowledge". They're giving informed consent to be in the relationship rather than them giving consent for me to be in other relationships. They're giving informed consent for themselves to be in the relationship with me. Does that make sense? I know it's like a fine distinction.
Emily: It is, but yes, I agree with you in the sense that it needs to be an autonomous personal choice, rather than it being like, "I give consent for you, someone else to be doing this thing". I think that is the distinction and where the mononormativity may come into play when it's the latter rather than the former. Yes, I would encourage people to even look at it in that way to be like, "Hey, this is a decision I personally am making for myself", rather than like, "I'm with a partner, and they want to become non-monogamous, so I'm going to allow it". Because I think that's how a lot of things start. The best place to be in, quite frankly, is when you want to do it yourself and when it's a decision that you both make for yourselves.
Dedeker: Yes, I think it's the kind of thing where, gosh, freaking everything in this world, people can take words and weaponize them. People can take concepts and weaponize them because as I'm sure most of us know, it's quite possible to be very unethical in the way you practice "ethical non-monogamy". It can be a sense of like, "It's ethical because I informed my partner that I'm talking to this other person by completely violating the third person's privacy and showing all my text messages to my partner, but we were ethical with each other".
Emily: Yes, that's really fascinating.
Dedeker: "And consensual with each other, and that we've consented that I'm going to show you this person's text messages".
Jase: Without their consent.
Dedeker: Stuff like that comes up all the time. Let's see. I have way too many tabs open. Someone in the watch party said, "I think you may be saying that consent is typically applied to a specific situation rather than blanket consent to a range of situations". Yes, I think I would agree with that.
Jase: Right. In the definition, the fries definition of consent.
Emily: It is more specific.
Jase: Part of it is that it's specific. That is also using the word consent is maybe a little tricky here because if you're talking about in the context of specific physical acts with another person, then it's a little different from the way it's used in consensual non-monogamy.
Emily: I guess that's why ENM I've been more inclined to use rather than CNM but for that purpose. Also just because it's looking at ethics from a broader scale like what does ethical mean to me and how can I implement that into my life rather than I'm consenting to you and me doing X, Y, and Z. I just made a rhyme.
Jase: I think for me, I think that, again, using consent not in that like this is for a specific act, but anyone who's in a relationship with me actually gets all the knowledge that they need to consent to being in that relationship on a day-to-day basis, really. Honestly, we are every moment of every day either deciding to be in that relationship or not, but that it is a little more of a proactive and like I'm not hiding things so that you have aware consent about whatever you do with me, being in a relationship with me as much as possible. Whereas I think of ethical non-monogamy is more like always the goal to strive for of being the most ethical person you can be and doing it in the most ethical way.
I guess I like CNN more in a scientific way of defining this whole category of thing because to me, the definition is it's not monogamous and that everyone is aware and consents to it but consents for themselves to be part of it. For me, it's technical. It's more of a definition. Whereas ethical non-monogamy for me is more like, "Yes, let's all be striving for ethical whatever kind of relationship", ethical monogamy or ethical non-monogamy, but it's like a little bit less of a scientific definition. At least that's how I've approached the two.
Dedeker: Yes. We do have a question in the watch party asking, if one of the partners does not want to disclose new sexual partners, is that still consensual or ethical?
Emily: If one of the partners does not want to disclose that they are non monogamous?
Dedeker: No, disclose new sexual partner. Is that still consensual or ethical?
Jase: I would say that the--
Emily: That's potentially specific to them, but--
Jase: I would say yes if that's part of the thing your other partners are consenting to.
Dedeker: Right. If the level of information, "I'm fine not knowing when you have new sexual partners. Just tell me every three months or every six months when you get tested what your results are, and then I'm fine". If that's what we've all kind of agreed, yes, we're onboard with that level of information, then sure.
Jase: Yes, or maybe you have other agreements about specific sexual health practices or things like that, whatever it is for you, but I think that would be okay. For example, I don't have to know the second that Dedeker had sex with someone new. That's not something I have to know before it happens or anything like that. Some people--
Dedeker: In act of-- No.
Jase: Some people do feel that way. For me, I don't. If she continued to keep the fact that she had new relationships at all from me, that would be weird, and I'd be like, "Something's wrong here". If it were like, "Hey, I have other partners. I don't feel comfortable sharing that with you, or maybe my other partners don't feel comfortable with me telling you their names or whatever it is", that's something I could still consent to with knowledge as long as you are being upfront with that information. I think that's still possible. Shoot holes in that if you think there's holes to be shot. I'm curious.
Emily: Nancy said something which I think was interesting. In relationship anarchy, we talk about disclosing risk levels versus detailed partner information for privacy reasons. Disclosing that a new partner exists and whether there are new STI risks seems important to me. However, I think I want the option to disclose or not depending on the people's privacy requests.
Dedeker: Yes, that makes sense.
Jase: I think similarly, if that's your stance on it, all of your partners need to know that that's where you stand. I think as long as that's enough to be informed consent unless for them it's not, and then it's their informed not-consent, which is also fine. Just because you do a relationship a certain way, it doesn't make it right and therefore everyone's going to be okay with it. That might not be compatible for some people, and that's okay too. That's the beauty of consent is that no is also an answer. That's acceptable and good.