We're joined with Dan and Dawn Williams from Erotic Awakening to talk about their book, The Polyamory Toolkit! There are a few tools they go into detail about that can help you process your feelings in your relationships, as well as fun anecdotes from a couple who has been polyamorous for nearly twenty years!
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 are talking with Dan and Dawn Williams about their new book, The Polyamory Toolkit as well as their history of podcasting about polyamory now for 10 years and recording almost 500 episodes. They were our original podcast network that we were part of way back in the day when we were just getting started. They do the erotic awakening podcast as well as co-creating beyond the love and have spoken at tons of events. They're almost to 500 episodes and they've just got some really cool stuff to share that we end up talking about in this episode.
Dedeker: It's really nice to talk to them especially after not only have they been podcasting about this stuff and presenting about this stuff for over 10 years, but they've also been practicing a non-monogamous relationship for 20 years.
Emily: Yes, that's amazing.
Dedeker: They've been together for longer than 20 years but I've been non-monogamous for 20 years. It is always really nice to talk to people who have that many years of experience under their belts of functioning non-monogamy and polyamory to glean some of their wisdom.
Emily: Yes, I think it is really interesting like even if you've been doing it, Dedeker, you've been practicing polyamory for 10 years now, right?
Emily: Yet, I know like all of us multiple times on this episode were like, "Whoa, that's really good advice," or like, "Wow, that's a good tool from the tool kit." It is nice to know the evolutionary process of one's journey within relationships in general. It's still evolving and is still moving forward and they really like exemplify that, I think.
Jase: Yes, it's really cool to get to talk to people who are also very forthright and very honest about their own journey The things they tried that didn't work instead of just like, "We have all the answers because we've written a book." That's the more about like, "This is our real experience that we've had, here's what we've learned, here's what we wish we had known back then." I hope that it is helpful for all y'all out there. Shall we get cut to the feeling, shall we cut to the feeling?
Emily: Yes, let’s do it.
Dedeker: All right. We are here with Dan and Dawn of Erotic Awakening. Thank you two so much for taking the time to come speak with us today.
Dawn: Thank you.
Jase: Pleasure to talk to you again. It's been a while.
Emily: It's been a few years.
Dan: Yes, it's been-
Dawn: It has. It has been quite a while.
Dan: We talked to you guys when you're a little baby podcast.
Dedeker: I know.
Dan: -episodes and all that stuff.
Dedeker: We're a slightly larger baby podcasters now. At least that's how I think about it.
Emily: We're halfway to the amount of episodes that you all are at, I think at this point now. It's quite amazing, yes.
Dedeker: We're almost 250, but the two of you are about to hit 500 which is amazing.
Dan: We're getting close, getting close.
Dedeker: Well, I always tell people. People ask us they're impressed with 250 and I'm always like, "It's a freaking miracle that we've been able to create-" Meet every single week and create that much content and I imagine with 500 episodes, I'm like, "Oh my goodness, like double miracle." It feels like.
Dan: One of the challenges our poly partners have, is that if they have conversations with us they have to say, "And don't talk about this on the podcast."
Emily: Yes, of course.
Dedeker: I think we're pretty good about that. Although, I think I've had some of those conversations before with some partners of mine. Anyway, I will just dive in here. The two of you have been involved in the polyamory community, the kink community, producing content, producing workshops, producing podcasts, producing books for this community for decades. I'm wondering this latest book, The Polyamory Toolkit, what inspired you to finally write this particular book? What was it that made you think like, "Okay, it's time to write, put this particular content out into the world?"
Dawn: Well, probably because we wish we had had a book like that at the beginning. We never found a lot of tools. What we found was a lot of people talking about jealousy but not really having any methods to get through it. Then we would stumble across this tool and then stumble across something else that helped us and then something else and we wrote a workshop called The Eight Poly Tools.
Now we'd find a few more, and now we've got a workshop called Eight Poly Tools and a more poly tools. It's like, okay, then a lot of people asking us the same questions. It's like, "Okay, it's time to get this in writing and get it out there so it goes to more people."
Emily: That's very cool.
Dedeker: This is not your first book, you've put out a couple of books before this.
Dawn: We have.
Dan: Yes, we wrote a book about power exchange. That was our first book and that was of a similar band to say, "Look, this is not the truth. This is not the only way. This is our experience. This is how we've done things in the power exchange world." Then we took a break and we wrote some-- I forget how-- The nice way to say porn.
Dedeker: I think erotica. Erotica is the cozy way.
Dan: Although, I have to say that was a fun book as well because half of-- What we do is we took some stories of things that Dawn and I have done. Some adventurous things that we've done and we changed the names. Then we took some purely fictional stories of things that either we've talked about doing or we'd like to do or just that's just fun to write about. We put a key in the back of the book so people could say, "Of the 10 stories which ones do you think we've actually done, which one is still-"
Dan: It's kind of fun.
Dawn: But now the key is wrong because it was five we've done and five we wish we had. Now, it's eight we've done and-
Emily: Wow, oh my goodness.
Dan: It's all I can fly a blip number 10 is just-
Dedeker: Gosh, such aspirations, my goodness. Was writing this book, The Polyamory Toolkit, more challenging or less challenging than writing a porn?
Dan: It was way less challenging.
Dan: Yes, because it's just-- When you get into the space of-- Again what we're writing about is things that we've experienced. It's you get into that space of telling your story and saying-- And each one of each one of the tools starts with, "Here's a situation we were in," and it's followed by, "And here's the tool that we had to develop to get us out of that situation," Or, "To help us with that situation."
Dawn: It's Dan's viewpoint and my viewpoint which can be a little different. We wrote our first book like that too. It's from each viewpoint and some tools work more for me so I had more to say and some tools worked more for Dan, so he had more to say. I think it was easier whereas the erotic one, it's all one voice and it's all one stories. It's a little-
Dan: Writing fiction is a lot harder than I-- I knew the curtains were green and I have to put that on paper too, can you visualize what I see?
Emily: That makes sense.
Dedeker: Okay, I just have one more like metabook writing question before we dive into the content of this book. The three of us are starting to work on writing a book. We're in the process of pulling together a book proposal. This is maybe a little bit of a selfish question to waste our listeners’ time with but what are your recommendations for co-writing?
Dan: We actually got this the way we decide to put our book together. We we're trying to come up with a single voice and it just didn't work because there's not a single voice that Dawn and I share. I came across a book by John Cleese and B.F. Skinner and another book that I read very recently that's very similar to this is Bernie Goldman and Jeff Bridges, The Dude and the Zen Master.
Dawn: There's also Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy with Radical Ecstasy which is where we got our first book idea from.
Dan: What happens is instead of just having to have one voice like in the first book that I mentioned. John Cleese would ask a famed psychiatrist some questions and he would respond and John would reflect back and say, "Well, here's what I think about that."
Dan: Dawn say, "Let's do that. Let's say here's-" If we talk about what-- If you're multiamory how do you handle it? Here's my viewpoint and here's how I would handle it. Dawn says, "You know what? I come at it from a different perspective. I was raised different. I have a variety of things that make me different than you did."
Dawn: I'm also different.
Dan: Most of the time there's common ground. Most of time is the same tool, but as I mentioned some of those Dawn finds journaling to be super important. She talks about journaling a lot. I don't journal as much so I say, "Well, here's where I find invaluable but Dawn will tell you more about it." Other tools they work the other way. For you guys, to sit down there, how do I keep my voice to become a cohesive voice, then set up crazy deadline, realize how close you are and get a hotel room for a weekend to do nothing but writes.
Jase: Okay, perfect.
Dawn: But we did. We had a Google drive. We had Dan's completed, Dawn’s completed and then we would just take mine. I would take his. We would respond to them and then we took a weekend in hotel all three books we'd done this. Weekend in a hotel, huge post it notes up on the wall. Lay out your chapters and go.
Emily: Wow, that's amazing.
Dedeker: Now, it's a little bit further down the road for us. We're still in proposal territory, cutting our teeth just pulling the proposal together, but, yes.
Dawn: Also decide if you're going to talk from experience and then that experiential stories or if you're going to have theory in there as well because some books have theory about this is how it should happen, is how blah, blah, blah or is it going to be the actual experience which is what ours is. We have no shreds in there. This is what we did, this worked or didn't work.
Dedeker: I like that.
Emily: I think our podcast is a little bit of both for sure. That'll be interesting to make a decision there or if it'll go in that direction as well.
Dedeker: Yes, definitely. Let's dive into some of the actual content of this new book of yours. I read an excerpt on your Web site that was about managing surprises in non-monogamy. Now, early on in my own foray into non-monogamous relationships. I read about a couple who essentially made this rule, their only rule was no surprises. At the time that I read it-
Emily: Sound very challenging.
Dedeker: Well, at the time that I read it I thought it was brilliant. I was like, "That makes so much sense. It's just so easy. Just no surprises, great." Then I actually got into a non-monogamous relationship and realized how potentially challenging that is. What are your thoughts on handling surprises or unexpected turns? Should it be a hard and fast no surprises policy? What's your take on that?
Dawn: Well, I think it's more instead of no surprises, it's more about managing surprises because there are going to be surprises. Things that I think are given or Dan things are given will end up being a surprise to the other person or we think we shared it with this partner who shared third partner-
Dedeker: Oh, God.
Dawn: -all the partners or there's going to be surprises. It's for us. It's about managing them because some of us don't like to be out of the loop. It's a trigger or whatever word you want to use. For something it's a trigger. For some, it's just uncomfortable if they're out of the loop. I just want know going on even though I don't mean to be asked permission or anything. I just want to be in the loop. I don't want to walk into a room and see something with somebody that I had no clue about.
Dan: Yes, we found out early on that's the way to give your other partners updates on a relationship change is not via Facebook. Don't just update Facebook and say, "Oh, yes." But in order to-- The trick is and this is where one of the things I wish I'd learned early on in polyamory is about having the courage to bring that stuff to your partners right up front.
We think that we need to protect our partners and that we wanted-- We're being kind to them and courteous to them and saying, "You know what? I don't think that this relationship I have with cats really going anywhere." I'll just mention, "Oh, yes, I met a girl." Then suddenly, Dawn sees me at an event with it slime and all over and we're hanging out and we're making goo goo eyes at each other and she's like, "Wait, I thought you were just-- You met her but it looks like you really got something going on there." It's like, "Well, I guess so but I didn't want you to be concerned about it."
The idea of managing surprises is just be upfront and over communicate some. You don't do your Facebook profile update to say, "I'm dating somebody new," before you tell your partners. If I tell Dawn-- If I start flirting with somebody and it looks like it might go somewhere, I really quickly tell my other partners, "Hey, by the way I'm talking to Linda Lou and things may or may not go anywhere but I want you to know I'm kind of engaged and talking to him."
Dawn doesn't mind who I date. My other partners don't mind who I date, but it's never comfortable to walk into a situation where suddenly you see one of your partners sitting on somebodies lap that you had totally comes out of left field.
Dawn: Or find out from that other person that they've been texting you or something just weird. I actually do a boy-girl report every now and then to my partners to let them know who I'm flirting with, who I'm talking to, how my relationships are, what kind of status they're in or whatever. Just to keep everybody updated, and it reminds me to communicate.
Jase: Can I ask for like-- Can you run us through what does this boy girl report look like?
Emily: Yes, because we have-- And how often it happens. Is it just every single time you're interested in someone or every single time a new partner comes into the fold, I guess?
Jase: Or once a month or how does that go?
Dawn: I actually do it daily.
Dawn: So that I can check in with myself as well as to how each my relationships are going because if I do my-- Big D is what I call my boyfriend. If Big D, we've been dating for six years. I'm going to look at that relationship this morning. "How's it going? Okay, well, okay is not-- But let's have it be better. What I need to do to nurture it? I actually look at that daily and say, "I'm so busy, if I don't, my relationships suffer." Then I send it to my partners, how they're going. I
Jase: Is it like a like a report card, like you're doing satisfactory right now but there's room for improvement?
Dawn: It's more about and how I'm feeling in the relationship. I just send it to my-- The language is going to be an issue here probably maybe sort. I will say I send it to my primary partners. The ones that are not primary aren't really interested.
Dan: We'll come back to that-
Dawn: We'll come back to that, I'm sure. Not everybody uses the same language I do.
Dan: For me the girl reporter the-- I guess, now mine's a gender neutral report is I have four partners that I am currently engaged in some way. Two long term, one fairly new and one kind of a returning person. I'm not sure what that looks like. Really for what I do is that I try to send this every day. Most the time, it's a single word. How are things with Can? I put good. Cat? Great.
Dan: Dawn, I know, yes, I includes Dawn.
Emily: Gosh, wow.
Dan: If I have a date with somebody coming up and-- We try to manage our calendar, but if it's in the next couple of days I say, "I got a date with the boy on Thursday, just little reminder there."
Dawn: Even though it's already on our Google Calendar. We're getting old and we're busy. We try to keep each other updated and send reminders.
Emily: That's lovely, wow.
Dawn: It's a lot of communication.
Dan: It's a lot of communication but when we got started in polyamory what they told us- They are like, "Oh, how do we do this polyamory." People are like, "Well, communicate, communicate, communicate."
Dawn: What the hell does that mean?
Dan: What does that mean? The managing surprises, the boy-girl report that's just, it's not intended to be problematic or to keep an eye on each other it's a matter of, "Hey, I want you to know what's going on my life cause someone's got to let the dog out."
Dawn: If it didn't work we wouldn't do it. There are some tools we've tried and I didn't know that I could list them at this point that we've dropped because they don't work that way.
Emily: Do you also tend to update people on it like other aspects of your life that aren't necessarily relationship focused? Do you do that at the same frequency as you do like your other partners or is it that mostly the thing that you do on a daily basis?
Dawn: Well, things that I said to Dan because we're also nesting partners. I sent him a lot more than I send to Big D. Big D was 90 minutes away. He likes to hear. At first, it annoyed him that I would send him, "Hey, here's what I'm doing this week just to keep you in the loop." I liked to be in the loop. He can find it annoying, but now if I forget to tell him he misses it. He's got new stuff, "What it is am I doing?" Then the girlfriend, she's very long distance. She just gets a slight recap every now and then as much as she wants. Dan gets a lot. He finally complained, so I shortened it up quite a bit.
Emily: That's lovely. Let's dive into some of the things within your book. The first one that you talked to us about, was that and not or, can you elaborate on that because this is one of the tools, that's in your book?
Dawn: There's 25 tools-
Dan: Real quick, managing surprises, boy-girl report, also tools in the book.
Emily: Okay, cool.
Dan: That's also those aspects, but go ahead for-
Dawn: And not or, I really wish we had learned this or I had learned this early on. I've only learned this in the last couple of years not even sure how we figured this out but a lot of my jealousy issues is the fear of being rejected or the fear being replaced. That's where a lot of mine comes in and this whole idea, when I started-- Dan and I started dating together and then we started dating separately, and when we started dating separately it was really hard and it was a long time before I found my own other partner. Dan was finding everybody.
Anyway, once I found mine a lot of the stuff started clicking that he was telling me. Even though I understood it, now I really understood it. The thing was, is that everything has an and. I have Dan and Big D, I'm in love with Dan and Big D. He's in love with me and it doesn't diminish anything from the other relationships.
Anytime that Dan starts dating somebody new or if Big D starts dating somebody new or the girlfriend, I don't know-- Never mind. I'm so sad, I don't know if I have a permission to say your name so we'll just say the girlfriend. Anytime I think about that and I think, "Oh, my gosh, what if they like that person more? But wait a minute they're just adding things in. This is an and, this is not a replacement.
Dan: For me right now I started-- A while ago, I started dating somebody who's had very different sexual taste than Dawn does. I think I could say that on your podcast.
Jase: Yes, absolutely.
Dawn: Fairly good.
Dan: Yes, thank you.
Dan: This new partner was more of a fan of your classical romance books, Dawn is more of a fan it's perhaps-
Dawn: -freaky freaky.
Dan: I was going to say 50 Shades of Grey for this.
Dedeker: Is this literally about their literary tastes or we're talking in like metaphor here?
Dan: No, Dawn is all kinky and shit. And the new girl is not.
Dedeker: Okay, great.
Dan: When Dawn suck with this, "Oh my god, I thought you liked the kinky freaky geeky stuff but now you're dating somebody whose idea of Kinky is leave the lights on. I guess you like that now instead of this and that comes from our old monogamous thinking. It's stupid if we think about it on perspective of, "I don't like chicken or fish." I can like them both and I don't even identify that I like one better than the other. It's like sometimes I'm in the mood for one or the other.
Dawn: But I didn't get it until I got it.
Dan: Yes, that's when just having that terminology of and not or, recognize that these are things that are added to our relationships, not things that we're replacing or because-- Again, a lot of people have this fear of the reason for polyamory is because I'm not enough. You wouldn't need another partner if I was enough and that's not the reality.
The reality of it is and it means there's just additional types of stuff. Another tool in the book is that-- This is related to specifically, for male bodied American people were tots going into relationships that if you cannot-- If you are not the number one sexual dynamo in your woman's life she will immediately leave you because that's what women need. It's a strong virile guy who knows all of the tricks.
If you let your-- This is what we were taught. I don't know, in my part of America this is what male bodied people were taught, that if you let your woman go off and sleep another guy they're going to leave you and you'll be high and dry. That's a lot of programming that you have to deprogram yourself for. Part of it, this idea, this concept of and not or led into another concept in the book where I talk about experience-- It's okay for Dawn to go off and have wonderful fantastic sex with someone else and it doesn't mean it replaces the sex that I have her, that it's better, that it's worse. The tool is not comparing sex to recognize that if Dawn and I dance in the middle of the room here, she can't have that dance with anyone else ever. It can't exist.
Other people dance differently, other people dance to different music, other people bring great things to the dance, but it's not what Dawn and I bring together. Again, another metaphor there obviously goes into sex. Dawn has wonderful sex with Big D but it's not the sex her and I have. Idea of comparing them, you got to get away from comparing and accept what we each have is a beautiful thing and that takes away from that need to cling and that need to be-- Terrible thing I do early in our relationship is when I would have sex with Dawn after she started to see with someone new. I would spend a lot of my time thinking about, "Does the new guy do this? Does a new guy do that? I bet he doesn't know this tricks from-" I end up-- I was having sex with the new guy instead of Dawn.
Dedeker: Oh, gosh.
Jase: Yes, that is great.
Dedeker: That is the really interesting way of putting it.
Jase: Yes, I think that's incredibly accurate.
Dedeker: That did jog my memory when Dan was sharing that I did remember a time somewhat early on in my own journey when a partner of mine would start dating someone new and I remember my thought process being like, "Oh, I guess he's into that now. This person who has these hobbies and this hair and this kind of sense of fashion and these-- And like likes this kind of food, almost as though-" I remember almost thinking of myself, almost as though like I was like a fashion trend or something and being like, "Oh, well, the trends are changing. Now, I'm a fad and now he's onto this trend." Now, at this point I'm like, "That's so ridiculous to think of myself that way." As though it's like, "Oh, my partner suddenly shifted and now his interests are just this other person now."
Dawn: But it was still real at the time.
Dawn: It is so real. Like I said Dan and I had figured just compatibility that I'm like, "Well, I'm finally-- He's just as kinky as I am. This is perfect and now he's with someone that's not and I can't be. If he wants that from me there's no way I can do that. I hope he's okay with both because that's the only way it's going to work." His relationship with the other person lasted a long time-
Dan: Many, many years.
Dedeker: I have another-- Well, that prompted another question about sex and the sexual comparison thing about someone close to me once asked me in relation to having multiple partners. He asked me-- He was like, wait, but what if like your partner came to you and said, "Hey, by the way my other girlfriend gives a much better blowjob." First of all, there are so many problems just with that hypothetical scenario.
Many questions like, "Why are they saying that? Is there a problem? Is that-- Is this person want to give me tips on how to improve? What's going on? Or is this person trying to make me feel shitty? I don't know." But I think that is interesting that like Dan was saying that we are taught like if you're not the most sexually impressive person that your partner is with, there's no way you're going to hang on to them.
Emily: They will leave you.
Dedeker: I think women get that too. I don't know about your experience Dawn or Emily or whatever but-
Dedeker: -I know that all I did for a long time especially monogamous relationships feel like you got to be down for whatever, because if you can't do exactly what he wants like you're going to get kicked to the curb or he's going to find someone who does. That's really not a mindset that encourages like having boundaries and having limits and knowing what you like or what you don't like.
Dawn: I agree.
Dan: This leads me to think one of the sections of the book that does talk about polyamory is not all about sex. I know that this probably sounds funny from us after we talk our book, the sex book and all kinky stuff, but the reality is Dawn and I both on the plus side of 50 and although not all of our partners are, it is an interesting thing to recognize that we are biological constructs that if sex is the only basis to your relationship you may have built yourself into a short term relationship.
Secondarily, I have had and do have multiple polyamory partners and they are polyamory in every sense of the word that I have never engaged in sexual congress with. A great deal of intimacy, but it doesn't involve my penis going in anybody's places and it doesn't need to. Although polyamory has brought great, wonderful, exciting changed style and variety in sex, in all the sex I could want, it also isn't about sex and that non-sexual partners are real partners too. For me, that's an important message as well. A lot of times, you'll see polyamory is compared a lot with swinging. I think that for me this is where the clear distinction is. I don't know what swinging without sex looks like, but I know what polyamory without sex looks like, and it's still pretty great.
Jase: Yes, that's something whenever I'm being interviewed about relationship anarchy or about polyamory, and if I sense that the interviewer is going a lot toward the sex-based questions, I usually like to pull out a very similar example to that of talking about a partner that I had for a long time who was effectively asexual.
We did have sex at some point in our relation, but it was few and far between and was not essential part of our relationship for years. They're like, "oh." I almost feel like, especially coming from me who seems like a fairly young virile guy, that they're like, "That must be your only point for doing any of this." It does rock their world a little bit, like, "Oh, well I didn't even consider that."
Dawn: Or they don't consider. Like we said, we're on the other side of 50 now, and there are going to be, we're going to get older. Does that mean we're not poly anymore if we lose our sex drive? To me, it just doesn't work like that. Like you said, people just don't consider that part. They think it's all an orgy which-
Jase: Yes, they do.
Dawn: -but no.
Jase: I want to take us to another section from your book that you mentioned before, which is this idea of uncomfortable versus wrong. I love this because this is something we talk about a lot on this show on how to introspect and get to those things of what, it's like the difference between what's uncomfortable because I just started running again and I'm sore versus what's uncomfortable because I twisted my ankle and I need to be careful to not damage it.
Dan: That's a great--
Dawn: There's also the thought, I'm only jumping in because I don't have a piece of paper and I'll lose my train of thoughts.
Jase: Yes, don't worry.
Dawn: Uncomfortable versus wrong, this is also another one of those new ones I wish we had learned at the beginning because there is a lot of stuff that's uncomfortable. As you grow, as you meet new people, as your partners meet new people, as things change, there's a lot of uncomfortable, but we don't have the word for it. I didn't have the word for it, the word uncomfortable, so everything just felt wrong.
When it feels wrong, I put that on the other person. The other person is doing something wrong. The other person is bringing this emotion instead of uncomfortable, which is all mine. When it's all mine, then I can work on it. If it feels wrong, then I'm attacking the other person and putting them on the defensive. Whereas, if it's uncomfortable, it's like, "Oh crap, there is that feeling again. Wait, it's uncomfortable, it's not necessarily wrong." Everything in the parameters that we set or whatever that they're not doing anything wrong, still what is this and what can I do?
Emily: Is there a way in which you distinguish between the two?
Dan: For me, I just run it through my head real quick, trying to sit in a place of logic for a moment and say, "Here is my expectation." One of my partners, Karen, started to date a guy named El, and she says, "Me and El are going to go to a country music concert." I was like, "You don't like country music." She says, "Oh yes, I do. You just didn't know that about me. He's going to take me there on the back of his Harley-Davidson." I said, "You don't like motorcycles." "Oh no, I love motorcycles now." By the way, Harley-Davidsons, they're like big vibrators that we ride around all over the place. I felt really shitty about this, and I was like, "God damn it, how dare she do these things." I had to step back for a moment and think, "Let me think, I have agreement with Karen that here's how we're going to communicate. Here's how we treat each other." Dating other guys, that's within our little boundaries. Riding on motorcycles, I've never said anything about that so go to a concert. What do I care. As a matter of fact, I love the fact that she has a boyfriend to go and see country music. I don't have to go, but I still felt very icky about it. There's where I get the distinction between wrong and uncomfortable. Wrong is something where Dawn and I agree if you are going to go see a new partner, you're going to have sex, great. You've got practice the highest level of safer sex. If Dawn came back and said, "You know, we forgot about that stuff, we just had unprotected sex." I can say that's wrong. We have very clear ethical guidelines of what we, along that kind of things, maybe not ethical guidelines, but agreements with our partners the way we want to treat each other. That's the wrong stuff, uncomfortable is when they're doing things that they're supposed to do that I feel icky about it. I say, "Look, that me and my shit." That's the problem, "Me and my shit."
Dawn: It's just easier to work on when you can find it like that.
Dan: It's just so powerful to be able to look at that because I can remember being angry and pointing my finger at a partner, going, "I can't believe you did this thing." They're like, "You've never said you didn't want me to do this thing and you did that thing all the time." I'm like, "Damn it."
Dan: You're right.
Dawn: It's mirror reflection.
Dan: Yes but when you can wrap your head around the idea of, "What I feel is uncomfortable." Then I can say, "Look partner, there's nothing wrong with the fact you're doing these things, but damn, it's still hurts. How about, can you sit with me for a little bit and help me process my shit" because--
Emily: You have to process it for me.
Dan: Right, right, not that they have to process it for me, but I want them to be my partner and hang out with me for a little bit and say, "I want you to go have a good time. Do the things you want to do, but do you have couple of minutes so we can talk about how icky I'm feeling, not that you're doing something that's wrong, but that I suddenly have discovered, looks like I have some jealousy or looks like I have some envy or some--" What's that new one? FOMO?
Emily: Fear of missing out, yes.
Dawn: That leads into three more tools I could mention, and I'm not going to because do have so many. We put them in the book separately, but many of them work together. When we have the whole FOMO or whatever, there's other tools and other tricks that we use to get past this uncomfortableness.
Jase: Yes, I love that idea of using logic not as a way to make the feelings go away, but just to check them, just to figure out what they are.
Dawn: Because we can be very emotional people and that tool is called manual mode by the way, that's in the book.
Dedeker: Okay, hang on. Here's my thing though is I find my own shit is very slippery, and I hope no one takes a quote out of context-
Dedeker: -but you get what I mean, like my own interpersonal shit, my own inner stuff and baggage. I find it could be very slippery because I will do something like, "My partner just did something, and I feel a little icky about, I feel uncomfortable," and will do that mental checklist like Dan talking about like, "That's within the bounds of our relationship. No, that doesn't cross the boundary. No, that's okay. We've agreed this is above the board," but the way they told me, that's where it went wrong.
That was what the thing was. "No, they shouldn't have told me that way. They should have changed or communicate." That's what I find, that I feel like I'm constantly having to try to get two steps ahead, and it's like my own baggage also tries to get two steps ahead. It's like it always wants to find a way to make the other person wrong sometimes.
Dawn: Yes, I've been there.
Dan: Its's a challenging thing when we, we have to continue to look, polyamory is, the definition talks about other people, but it's so much about yourself. You're looking in the mirror and looking at your own shit, owning your own shit. When I was in a monogamous marriage, more than one of them. When there's things that made me uncomfortable or made the partner uncomfortable, we simple did not talk about them. We hid them. We put them aside.
Dawn: I did it totally different. I was who yelled the longest and loudest one.
Dan: We were both really bad at monogamy. We have no advice there.
Emily: Let's do maybe one or two more of the tools in your book. The next one would be the place of assistance. I like the idea of this. Can you elaborate on that one?
Dawn: That one would actually work very well. That was one of the ones that I was going to mention with the whole uncomfortable versus wrong because when you ask a partner for help, that's what you're asking for, is asking them to come from a place of assistance. Let's say Dan had a, we call it a WAM moment in the book, which is what about me moment which is-
Dawn: WAM. I said a story one time, and I could feel the shift in energy that Dan had which means that I knew what affected him. I'm like, "Did I just say something?" and he's like, "Don't worry about it it's just WAM moment" just a what about me moment-
Emily: I like that.
Dawn: - and he's like, "I got this" and I'm like, "Is there anything I can do? Is there any way I can assist you shifting through this WAM moment?" He's an internal processor so he's like, "No, no, I go this" I'm an external so I'm like, "Are you sure? Are you sure?" He's like, "Got it" We always try to offer or to come from a place of assistance not to take the whole thing on ourselves.
Dan: The trick is when especially people that are new to polyamory that have an existing relationship and their branching out of that. The one person may feel a desire to be very protected and say, "You know what? If you're going to go on a date come back after an hour" maybe come back after four hours and don't leave the city, don't leave the state, don't go to my favorite restaurant.
Dawn: Like we said we're talking through experience.
Dan: We had a variety of things that we were doing and what I was trying to do is to-- Dawn, early on we had this thing where dates can't be longer than four hours. If it's longer than four hours I don't know if you're going to come back.
Dawn: It was rough, I'm sorry.
Dan: What I would do is I would say, "Okay, I'll just live with that that it's only going to be four hours."
Dawn: But he got resentful.
Dan: I got resentful, the people I was seeing got resentful. Instead of that, what Dawn actually wanted or needed me to do was when she says, "Look, I feel very jealous when you're seeing this person. It makes me feel really crappy." For me to say, "Oh man, I'm sorry about that. You are a partner of mine too. How can I help you with your feelings? How can I help you with that feeling of crappiness? By the way, I'm still going to go off on this overnight date and I know that you hate dates that are over four hours so what can I do to make that experience less terrible for you?"
You have to balance place of assistance. We have an agreement that I get to do and I'm supposed to do and we're supposed to do who we are. Sometimes that means overnight dates and sometimes it means this and that. We also had an agreement to each other to be partners to each other. To sit there and say, "Look, I'm going to do the thing I'm going to do but I'm not going to-
Dawn: It's in our agreement. It's in our whatever. It's a challenge.
Dan: - but I'm not going to do it to you. I'm going to sit here and help you with whatever it is that you need help.`" If the place of assistance means can you at least check in with me every four hours? Sure, that's reasonable. That's a thing I can do to help you. What I really want to do is sit here and help you process your emotional state and maybe if you want to help you come up with a plan. What are you going to do to make that time suck less?
Dawn: It doesn't suck so much anymore it's been 20 years. It's been a long time. I grew out of it.
Dan: Nowadays, when Dawn says, "I've got to go off with Big D for an overnight" I'm like, "Okay, I hope none of my other partners find out that I get a night to myself."
Jase: I was literally just having a conversation in a coaching group that I'm leading right now for men. This conversation came up where it was just early on it's this awful like, "Gosh, I have to find something to occupy my time while my partner's out and I don't have any other plans," to now where it's like, "Thank God, finally"
Dedeker: Get me out of here.
Dawn: I let people know. I have people come to me all the time that are like, "What do I do with my time? I miss them" and I'm like, "It's okay to miss them I certainly went through that" It gets better. That's what I tell them. You'll figure things out. Trial and error but there's another tool for that as well.
Dan: Trial and error?
Emily: Trial and errors?
Dan: I want to just comment if I could. A little throw-away statement Dawn just made, it gets better-
Dawn: It gets me in trouble all the time.
Dan: - this one's okay. The huge things that we teach when we run workshops and shit is that look, I dig the fact that you're going through this shit and it's hard. It gets better. I love being able to point out to people like ourselves, like other people that we know that we said we all went through this stuff. At this point, when I tell Dawn, "I have a new partner and this partner is completely opposite of whatever you are." Dawn just shrugs and she says, "Oh cool, I need the house Thursday so go to do something else." I was like, "Okay, all right."
Just a little quick sidebar. If any of your listeners think, "Man, how do you get through all these crap?" It gets better. It's one of the big messages that I want to make sure that people realize.
Dawn: I also warn people that when they read the book it's a lot of tools that we learned because some things get crappy. It's not all crappy. Don't read the book and think, "Oh my God, there's so much work to do." Yes, there's work to do but there's a lot of amazing times and it's well worth it.
Dedeker: I was going to say with the getting better, that's definitely something that I've tried to instill in my clients. Some clients are straight up just ask, "Does it get better? Please tell me it gets better." It's so nice to be like, "Yes, it totally does" With other people I find it's like, "Does it get better? Okay, how did you make it better? What did you do to make it better? What was the formula that turned you overnight from the larva into the butterfly?" and that's-
Dedeker: - yes. That's always the hardest thing because I'm like, "Well, it was time and a lot of shitty feeling situations, honestly." I think that's the hard one is a lot of this when I try to tell people I'm like, "Trust me you're going to get used to your partner going on dates with other people" Your partner's going to get used to you going on dates with other people.
I think there's something about saying that that my perception seems to rub people the wrong way because it's almost like when you say you're going to get used to it I think people hear it as, "You're going to get resigned to it and your life is just going to suck," because you're so used to your partner abandoning you all the time when we are on the other side of it. You're like, "No, no, no you're going to get used to it and it's not going to torture you the way that it did."
It's going to feel like a regular Tuesday night or you're going to feel happy because you finally get to stay in and watch the TV that no one else wants to watch with you.
Dawn: They're not going to learn that except through experience. I only learned it through experience. He went out with someone else he came back. He went out, he came back. I went out, I came back. I experienced this thing that Dan and I don't do together. I experienced it with Big D and I came back. Big D doesn't worry about me finding other people because I come back. The words just are not going to make the difference until they experience it for themselves.
Jase: An analogy that I've been thinking of lately is maybe this is just for myself but if I think back to when I first started dating period it was a freaking roller coaster. It was everything was life and death. Everything was just so intense. Any break up was just heartbreaking and every moment you're terrified or you're overly excited and making a fool of yourself.
There's all these things that as we just date and have relationships whether that's with the same person since middle school or if that's with lots of different people, the whole thing becomes more normal. It doesn't mean it's not exciting but it's not world-ending all the time. I feel like non-monogamy is very similar it's just you're having to start over because you just haven't done this.
Dedeker: You're just like a teenager at the beginning.
Dawn: One of the other things that I share with people. It's actually a recent development for me, is the whole idea that I'll be okay no matter what happens because I can't say that Dan and I are going to be together forever or me and Big D are going to be together forever. You do have that fear or break-ups and starting over and all these things. If you can get to that point of but I'll be okay that was a big game-changer for me.
Dedeker: That's hard for people even in monogamous relationships. We talked about some of these because a few weeks ago we had Annalisa Castaldo, she's an ordained Zen priest talking a lot about Buddhist philosophy and Buddhist thought as it relates to relationships and that was very much her foundation was you have to learn to acknowledge that all your relationships are going to end badly. Basically, either you're going to die or you're going to break-up. You have to know that somehow either you'll be okay or you'll dead basically.
Dawn: If you already talked to her then you're probably picking up that we've got Buddhist flavor as well.
Dedeker: Yes, we're down with a Buddhist flavor.
Dawn: Big help that whole releasing attachments and not clinging and not pushing away. When you take that, it balances things out a bit. I'm not always good at it, but it is a good philosophy.
Emily: Finally, something that we talk about a lot on our show is gratitude. I think that this is another thing that you sort of have pointed to, which is the joy or the compersion journal and Dan, you said that you journal a lot. I know Jase does for sure as well. I'm interested to hear more about that as well.
Dawn: I think in the book we call it the compersion journal but I also call it the joy journal because I do journal a lot and I was going through a lot as we were shifting how we were doing poly. I would write and I would write and I would write. Of course it's all inks and it's all negative stuff. Why am I broken? Why can't I figure this out? Why am I not farther along and crossing these hurdles?
Then one day I came across everything that I'd written and things that I had taped on the little mini recorder that I had. I'm like, "Oh my God, I'm a basket case. Why am I doing this?" I'm on the north of side here and I would show Dan and I'm like, "Am I always like this? Is this what you're living with?" He pointed out that the dates on there, he's like, "No, what are you talking about?" He pointed out that the dates in my journals were like over a decade. The dates of them getting further and further apart. What I figured out though is that I hadn't been documenting any of the good stuff. I was only writing the bad stuff or the stuff I was going through. I'm like, "We're shifting this because I can't look back on these journals again, it'll drive me crazy." I bought a pink leather bound journal and I decided the only thing I'm writing in it is joyful stuff, the joyful poly stuff. Every time I would get that ping of compersion or that ping of of joy or that ping of something, I go grab my journal and write it down. What I found was, that I started looking for the happy stuff instead of always focusing on the jealousy and always focusing on one more thing to work on, I was focusing on the happy stuff and it totally changed my energy and my perspective with working with relationships and stuff.
Dan: It's a great tool. It's a great thing to be able to pick up when you're not feeling so great about polyamory and goes, "Where am I doing this again?" To have your own words chronicling why you are doing this thing, to say, "Boy, how nice it was when Dan had that look on his face or that, that, that. Whatever it is that you've put in there to have your own to manual to say, "I guess this is working for me."
Dawn: It is working and it's happy stuff. I really liked that. But like I said, the main thing I got from that was it started shifting when I was looking at when I would be good at support groups and they're like talking about compersion and they're all happy about it and I'm like, "Hell, I don't even know if I've felt it before." Then I'd look back on my book and, "Yes, I felt it many times. I just forget to remember that."
Emily: That's so incredibly powerful. Just that idea of like shifting your perspective from negative to positive because I think so many of us tend to focus on the negative and remember negative interactions over positive ones. For you to just force yourself in a way to go and write down and be able to look back at those positive interactions or positive moments within yourself, that's so huge. What a great takeaway. What a great tool for bettering your-- Not only yourself but like just your polyamorous journey. That's huge.
Dawn: That might be one of our biggest tools. We didn't talk about determination. Sometimes it doesn't really work. When we try something else.
Dedeker: No. I love that. I think that's related to always the banner that I'm always waving is a self efficacy, which I think is related to determination. But carrying this belief of like, "I do believe that I can do it. I can figure it out." Carrying that belief helps you to actually figure it out as opposed to carrying this belief of like, "I don't actually think I can do this. I don't think I can figure it out." That actually affects what your results. I think determination is very related to that or it seems closely linked. Definitely. We only got to cover a few of the tools that you cover in your book. Where can listeners find more about the two of you about these tools and about your book?
Dan: Thepolyamorytoolkit.com is where you'll find the book or you can just hop over to Amazon like everything else in the world and look for The Polyamory Toolkit. Then everything else Dawn and I do, you can find it eroticawakening.com. That's where the podcast, the presenting, any other book activity we have going on, the events, the deck of cards. Good, gosh, we were a little bit busy over there.
Dedeker: Just a little bit.
Jase: Fantastic. Thank you so much. For our listeners, we're going to spend a little bit more time talking with Dan and Dawn in our Patreon bonus episode. If you want to get access--
Dan: I've got to tell you about the special tool.
Jase: The real secret.
Dan: That makes the rest of them dumb and useless, yeah.