Welcome to my virtual therapy room! I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Today we are continuing our discussion about non-monogamy. Joining me again to explore this is Dr Meg-John Barker is a writer, therapist, and activist-academic specialising in sex, gender and relationships. Meg-John is a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University and a UKCP accredited psychotherapist, and has over a decade of experience researching and publishing on these topics including the popular books Rewriting the Rules, The Secrets of Enduring Love and Queer: A Graphic History. Website: http://www.rewriting-the-rules.com. Twitter: @megjohnbarker.
Welcome to the show. Today I would love to focus on the practicalities involved in non-monogamy. Let’s start with how you know if non-monogamy is for you? Meg-John spoke about reading about different types of non-monogamy in Tristan Tamorino’s book Opening Up , reading the classic book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, The Ethical Slut and reading Frankline Veaux and Tatiana Gill’s More than Two. We spoke about taking things slowly and examining your needs and looking at what feels like it will suit your style. Meg-John highlighted the fact that you may not know how things will work for you until you actually try things but we both agreed that the more thought you put into your needs and limits and the more you explored before jumping into a relationship, the more likely you will make a better relationship choice. Meg-John identified metacommunication (talking about the way in which you communicate including what information is shared with your partner) is a skill that is particularly helpful when talking with potential lovers or partners. We both identified high level communication skills, conflict management skills and assertiveness as essential life skills as well. Meg-John said that some people they know have taken to using a shared google doc to design their relationship including talking about expectations, limits, desires, form of non-monogamy, the way time is spent and even the relationship patterns that you have identified that might not be the best. Meg-John suggested that rather than doing what one does when dating which is present all the shiny pretty things and sometimes pretend there are no more murky parts to the self, in this situation, one is presenting the murky parts up front as part of the whole.
We spoke about jealousy and about learning to experience the feeling fully and then sit with it, reflecting to understand where it is coming from and gain insight. Once that insight is gained, perhaps speaking to the person about the jealousy but not in a way that looks for the person to change their behaviour. Meg-John did make the point that just because someone is polyamorous does not mean that they are perfect or nice and that sometimes people act like jerks and then jealousy might be a very appropriate response.
We finished up by speaking about how you can go about meeting other polyamorous people. We spoke about using Meetup to find groups, locating groups on Facebook, and that in urban areas people can even look for groups that cover some of their intersectionalities. We noted that in some poly groups a certain type of person can be overwhelmed by requests for dates while other people can find themselves feeling rejected as they might be ignored. We also highlighted that there can be pressure in more sex-positive groups to be poly or non-monogamous as well and that learning assertiveness is also an essential skill to manage these areas.
Dr Meg-John Barker’s books mentioned on the program:
Enjoy Sex (How, when and if you want to) (with Justin Hancock)
Website: Rewriting the Rules
Thanks for joining me this week for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at email@example.com, follow me on twitter @drbisbey. For a free 30 minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now! I look forward to seeing you next week.