Dear Readers,

I get so many questions about polyamory, non-monogamy, monogamous relationships, and monogamy hangovers. This week, I’m answering some of the most common questions I regularly receive. 

Have a question I haven’t answered? Let me know in the comments or send me a message over social media.

See yourself in an answer and need help navigating? Send me a comment or dm me. 

1) Is there a right way to bring up non-monogamy to a partner who’s never indicated an interest?

If you know you’re non-monogamous when you meet: The best way is to bring this up at the very beginning of the relationship just as you would talk about your availability, sexual orientation, and marital status. Waiting until there is an established relationship is not ok as the person you’ve become attached to may have no interest. And it’s likely they may feel betrayed when you do bring up non-monogamy because they assumed you were monogamous like them.

If you discover you desire non-monogamy during the relationship, the best way to bring up the subject with a partner who has never indicated interest is indirectly. I highly recommend reading Rewriting the Rules by Dr Meg-John Barker and then recommending it to your partner as an interesting book. It is not specifically about consensual non-monogamy but rather about creating your own individual relationship – so it talks about consensual non-monogamy. If you want to be more specific, choose a book or podcast on non-monogamy and suggest they listen to it. That will allow you to find out your partner’s attitude before a direct discussion. (I have done a number of episodes on my show, and been the guests on this topic for a bunch more shows) 

2) How can I explain what an “open” relationship is without scaring off a potential partner?

First don’t refer to it as an ‘open’ relationship as this already has lots of connotations from the media. Again, I recommend starting indirectly – listen to a podcast, read a book, watch something that portrays successful non-monogamous relationships. 

As a conversation: Start by reassuring your partner that you love them, and you are commitment to them. Then explain that many people enjoy relationships where they can explore intimacy with other partners (either alone or together) in an ethical way. Explain that there are many different types of relationships that are not monogamous – from once in a while sexual exploration together with a third party to committed long-term relationships with multiple people and everything in between. Check frequently as to how your partner is understanding what you are saying so that you can clear up any misunderstandings in the moment.

3) What should a person do if their partner seems willing but is uncertain? 

Go slow! Make sure you both are clear what you are proposing to do: Have a threesome? Date other people together? Date other people separately? Go to a swingers party? 

Once you are both clear, set boundaries: For example: Safe sex with any other partners.  No bringing partners home. No posting pictures with other partners on social media. No relationships with anyone you both know. 

If you are having trouble negotiating a new arrangement, I recommend that you see a coach who is experienced in working with consensual non-monogamy. Bringing in a trained, neutral third-party who can help each person work through their feelings and negotiate boundaries to help create a foundation for success. Don’t be surprised if your partner wants a session or two alone to explore their own feelings.  

 4) What should I do if my partner has no interest in any type of “open” relationship?

If your partner has no interest at all in open relationships, there are still a few options:

  1. a) Negotiate with your partner to agree what you can do outside of your relationship. This becomes a poly/mono relationship and it takes lots of excellent communication and a clear set of rules. You would benefit from seeing a coach that has experience working with poly/mono couples.
  2. b) Decide to stay monogamous with your partner, and explore indirectly using fantasy and solo sex.
  3. c) Decide being monogamous is not for you, end the relationship, and then explore the kind of non-monogamy that works for you.

Having affairs (unethical non-monogamy) is not on the list because betrayal is extremely difficult to get past and more often than not will destroy the relationship. Betrayal is inherently painful for the partner who is betrayed. Starting a non-monogamous relationship with hurt will almost surely equal failure.

 5) How can I have a successful non-monogamous relationship?

Success in opening up an already existing relationship relies on LOTS of excellent communication plus a willingness to go very slow. The pace should be dictated by the person who hasn’t been thinking about non-monogamy. 

Both parties have to be willing to compromise. Both parties have to be flexible as well. Talking is not doing so even though you may have agreed upon boundaries, once you move forward there is a possibility you may need to revisit and renegotiate rules and agreements. 

Sometimes a person finds they cannot manage their feelings of jealousy. My experience as a therapist and coach is to recommend time and patience. Again, this is an area it is helpful to have a neutral third party involved.

Finally, lying (even white lies) is the kiss of death if you are trying to open up your relationship.  In this case, asking permission is far better than asking for forgiveness. It is the lying and betrayal that partners often cannot get past.

Have a question about polyamory, non-monogamy or ethical non-monogamy I haven’t answered? Let me know in the comments or send me a message over social media.

At Notorious Central, we were aflutter about Moon Juice’s Sex Dust. After all, this product not only is Notorious-recommended, it also has Gwyneth’s seal of approval. Leather/BDSM meets Goop, anyone? 😈

What is it?

We’re so glad you asked. Sex Dust is a stimulating adaptogenic blend based in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, which made it easier for us to get behind (pun intended). We like to mix a little science with our extracurricular activities.

Moon Juice uses ingredients that are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and caffeine-free to support a healthy hormonal balance AND – this is where it gets interesting – ignite creative energy in and out of the bedroom. (Because who wants to have sex exclusively in their bedroom? 😂)

First, a word of warning. 

Consume this elixir at your own risk. We simply cannot be responsible for what happens next. If you have your doubts, you need only read the five-star reviews on both Amazon and Moon Juice Central. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get our hot little hands on this magic bean.

May we highly recommend the many recipes Moon Juice central provides? Remember, you are ingesting adaptogens, not a craft cocktail. While the taste may take a little getting used to (ahem!), the results after 3-5 days should be well worth it.

The best part?

We’d love to tell you all about our Sex Dust-induced adventures but that may get us banned from social media for life. We leave you with this: When you feel sexy, you exude sexy. And that, my lovelies, is the most powerful aphrodisiac of all.

*When you purchase Sex Dust from the link in this post, the team at Notorious Central receives a little bump at no additional cost to you to put towards our current projects, including creating a safe online space.

Walking dates have become extremely popular during the pandemic as for a while they were considered one of the “safer” date possibilities. I’ve been thinking about boundaries and manifesting your ideal relationship. And this had me pondering the pros and cons of returning to a more “old-fashioned” first date. 

WARNING: Before you come for me in the comments, please know that I am all about risk assessment and reality checking when meeting a potential partner for the first time. Life is too short and precious to waste time investing in (read: getting stuck in) a relationship that isn’t right for you.

So what are the pros of a walking date? It’s healthy. You’re exercising. They are exercising. You’re not sitting and eating (like a more traditional date). While lunch and dinner dates can be fun, they can also prove lengthy if you know immediately that this isn’t a match. 

Another big benefit to a walking date is that being in nature and fresh air is a proven mood booster, which could help with any pre-date jitters. When you are walking, the emphasis is on talking rather than sex or touching. You have a chance to really get to know the other person as opposed to going to see a film, attending an event or going on another group excursion.

There wouldn’t be pros without cons. There are a few things to consider when proposing a walking date. First, it can be harder for people with disabilities or “hidden” illnesses. If someone doesn’t want to go on a walking date, I advise not making a big deal of it. Mother Nature can play a big factor in the execution of your date (especially if you live in the UK). Last but not least, some people may find a walking date boring. If you are an outdoorsy person, this certainly gives you some information about compatibility before your meet. 

A walking date is always a good idea. Perhaps this is not a new relationship but a seasoned romance. The sentiment of sharing conversation and enjoying the fresh air still applies. I would definitely recommend long-term partners schedule periodic walking dates to reconnect.

Boundaries. I can’t talk enough about them. Neither can the TikTok-verse. You can hardly have your daily scroll without at least one #creator mentioning boundary setting, lack of boundaries, permeable vs impermeable boundaries, or giving a personal example of a boundary violation. 

Why? It’s not that we don’t know what a proper boundary looks like or how to set one. It’s that we simply lack the skills. Many of us are not good at setting boundaries (or simply don’t set them) because we have been brought up to believe that it is rude to set boundaries with friends and family. 

That’s simply not true. Setting boundaries is absolutely essential to mental wellness because they:

  • Help us to preserve our emotional energy.
  • Allow us to choose how and when to share information.
  • Let us define our levels of vulnerability.
  • Are essential to keeping clear about what is our responsibility and what responsibility belongs to others.
  • Are critical for us to determine what emotions are ours and what emotions belong to others.
  • Promote interdependence instead of co-dependence.

Even with all the positive implications of setting boundaries, we still find ourselves in a quandary when faced with setting or maintaining our own boundaries. 

Let’s come back to guilt for a moment. We feel guilt because we buy into our family culture (and sometimes an even larger cultural belief) that by setting a boundary, we are violating a set of rules. For example, if you haven’t set boundaries with your family members before and if the rule in your family is that everyone has access to all of your time, things, and/or information, it is very likely (and completely normal that) you will feel guilty when you start setting boundaries, particularly the first few times.

In my private practice, I often see clients who have boundary setting work to do around privacy and family members. Telling a family member that something is not their business is likely to cause guilt. Even if you haven’t expressed the boundary out loud to that particular family member, you may still find yourself secretly fuming when the boundary is violated. 

Here’s a great example from a real life client (names are changed to protect identities). Jane’s mother often asks questions about Jane’s intimate life making Jane uncomfortable. When Jane felt pressured to answer, her mother frequently criticised and shamed her for her responses. Jane decided to tell her mother that her intimate life was not her mother’s business. The next time her mother asked her about her intimate partners, Jane replied “My intimate life is not something I wish to share.  It is my business only.”  Her mother replied “We don’t have a real relationship anymore because you don’t share personal things with me.” Predictably, Jane felt guilty for “ruining” their relationship.    

But that isn’t where Jane’s story ends. Before Jane let the boundary go, I requested she reflect on how she felt when she did share this information with her mother. She replied that the guilt was much easier to deal with than her mother’s criticism and attempts to control her intimate life.

Did you know I teach a regular class on boundary setting (and throughout the pandemic have been teaching it on Zoom)? I’m putting together my class schedule for 2022 and this one is incredibly popular.

Need immediate help with boundaries? Send me an email 

A large part of self-care is doing things that not only make sure you are looking after yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But we often forget about pleasure.

Raising your pleasure quotient is an essential part of self-care.

As a sex & intimacy coach, I spend a lot of time helping people to embrace pleasure and increase their pleasure quotient. (Yes, there is a pleasure quotient!) Today, I am sharing my formula for increasing your pleasure and self-care.

First, have a self-pleasure day. Yes, a whole day. Begin with breakfast in bed, eating the most decadent foods. Spend time in solo sex. Buy yourself a new sex toy in anticipation of your self-pleasure day.I recommend Tenga’s Midori for an excellent external buzzy toy. But if you’re looking for a certain spot, the Osci 2 by Lovense is an amazing G-spot toy that can also be app controlled (!). Last but not least is a personal favorite, the O-Wand, which provides an amazing cord free wand experience. (For 10% off on the O-Wand, use the code DrLori10.)

Plan your day. Spend at least a couple of hours in sensual and pleasure based pursuits. Read some erotica, listen to some erotica, or watch some erotica. This shouldn’t be goal-oriented (though if you have some orgasms along the way – fantastic). The goal is to increase your pleasure overall.     

Add a partner. If you have a partner, have a day that you are sensual together. Plan the day so you are doing things that bring each other pleasure from massage to hot sex to role play. Enjoy your favourite foods together – but feed each other. The goal of a mutual self-pleasure day is to increase pleasure and intimacy during the whole experience.

Looking to level-up? If you are feeling adventurous, get a yoni massage. This is a massage by a sexological bodyworker and the massage is both sexual and deeply releasing. You may also try taking a class to improve your sexual skills or exploring a new area of sexual or sensual pleasure.

Make your day about you. Enjoy every minute. You deserve it.

“Dr. Lori Beth, how do I know if I’m being used?”

Inevitably, this question comes up in a relationship where one partner is feeling that they are putting in more than they are receiving. In all ‘ships from grown folkin’ to a long-term partnership, there are ebbs and flows. However, if you are finding yourself doubting the authenticity of your relationship, here are a few “reality checks” you can use.

First, the other person takes more than they give, in any and all areas. This is fairly obvious.  There are few excuses for putting far less energy into the relationship than your partner does.

Second, the person only has time for you/attention for you when they want something. This one seems obvious but it can be hard to spot.  

For most, the idea of using someone for our own gain is a foreign concept. However, there are multiple reasons someone might ‘use’ a partner. Some people are raised to believe that they are the centre of the universe and that they can use their attractiveness/wit/sex to get what they want from a partner. They learn to trade on their attractiveness to get their needs met so they might not look at it as using a partner, they are simply doing what they feel is needed. The problem is that they are interested in meeting only their own needs and not the needs of their partner.

For a relationship to work, all needs need to get met. There must be a give and take.

What should you do if you suspect you are being used? First, I advise that you carefully analyse the situation as objectively as you can.  

If you determine you are being used, try denying your partner what they are seeking. For example, if they are using you for money or an easy life, crack down on money and luxuries for a while and see what they do. If they withdraw, that gives you some evidence that they are using you. Then, it is time to look at gently confronting them with your suspicions. Make sure you are feeling strong and able to hold your ground when you confront them or choose to do it in a safe environment, like with a third-party or therapist.