Episode 108: Gendered Energies

There’s a lot behind being worried about being judged as a thruple but also wanting masculine energy for an upcoming child.

There’s a lot behind being worried about being judged as a thruple but also wanting masculine energy for an upcoming child.

That’s what’s on this week’s episode of Non-Monogamy Help.

Discussion Topic:

What do you think is the most important for children to have?

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Thank you to Chris Albery-Jones at albery-jones.com for the theme music and a big thanks for the podcast art to Dom Duong at domduong.com.

Podcast transcript

I just discovered your podcast while searching for a better understanding of non-monogamy / open relationships. I wanted to reach out because my girlfriend and I have been dating for 7 months and things have been incredible! We are very good at communicating and being transparent no matter how hard the topic may be. We feel that we are fully committed to each other and devoted to growing individually and together.

We are both bisexual and have had serious discussions about what our future may look like. We both want kids, but think it’s very important for children to have adult role models from each energy field (feminine and masculine) which we would be missing a masculine energy if we were to have kids together. We have talked about possibly bringing a man into our relationship to be a father to our kids and possibly being a thruple. She has been in non monogamous relationships before, and I have not.

I am a little unsure how I feel about a more taboo looking relationship between 3 people, but am open to trying. My girlfriend recently met up with this man she briefly knows and has a connection with and they discussed relationship possibilities, as well as views on life. She told me they have a very similar past and personality traits. She was very open and honest with me in admitting she may have feelings for him and is interested in possibly exploring those feelings.

She said he seems to have the qualities she would want in a father, man and male partner. I found myself becoming jealous and scared to lose her to him.  She assure me she is not going anywhere, and our relationship is very strong and her love will not change for me. My head is spinning with possibility, fear, excitement, and confusion. The things that worry me most is jealously arising, explaining the relationship dynamic to family and friends, and overall just drama that may arise. I’m wondering if you have any advice or suggestions on how to navigate this relationship(s).


I find this a really interesting question to ask me in particular, because I'm non binary and I'm agender so I… I don't really feel like I have feminine or masculine energy. And I'm gonna respect the fact that you believe in that. But I'm going to also challenge you a little bit on that. Like ask yourself if you can define what feminine or masculine energy is without using gendered stereotypes, because what is masculine energy? Is it someone who takes charge?

Why is that not feminine energy? Is it someone who is decisive? Maybe a little bit aggressive? Is that not — cannot also not be feminine— What is the definition of the two? And what if you meet someone who doesn't feel like they have either of those things? So I'm gonna question that. I do think it's important for children to have a variety of role models. And to see themselves reflected in some way in media or the adults around them.

I definitely think that this is something that a lot of people don't take very seriously and it's sometimes is a lot of reasons why queer kids in very straight homes can feel alone, why sometimes transracial children who are adopted by white families who are disconnected from their cultures can feel alone. And it is a really important thing. I think that if you have — if you were to have a child who identified as a boy, as a man, as a male, whatnot, and I don't think it would be that bad if you didn’t have—- but I also feel like I can understand that it might be important to find some people who are similar to him, who can be role models, but there's a lot of assumptions that you're making here.

Firstly, is that men are the only ones with masculine energy, and maybe you aren't making that assumption. It just happened to be that your partner met a man and so there you go. But why can't anyone have masculine energy? And do you not feel like — I don't know. It depends on how you define masculine energy and what that even means, like, is there absolutely no percentage of yourself and your partner that is in any way masculine? Like, and what is it that you're hoping that your child is going to get from masculine energy?

And why do you feel as though you're not able to provide that? I think another assumption that you're making is that you must be in a relationship — a romantic or sexual relationship with someone for them to be a role model or involved in your child's life, which isn't true.  I have had not so great examples of I guess what you would call “masculine energy” growing up, but one of the most stable and positive examples of men in my life was a best friend that my mom had, who was a gay man who, by some 50s era definitions may have not been very masculine, but was a great role model for me and a good person who taught me that not all men were bad in my life.

So again, there's the assumption that a man is going to provide you with masculine energy. And that, you know — just think about that. That's all I'm saying. And then I think that the other assumption here that I really want to challenge is again, like, this idea that a role model has it has to do with masculinity and femininity, and not with the inherent traits within that person because you could end up with a dude and he's not a good role model at all.

Even if he has  “masculine” — I just feel like you got to this needs more picking apart. For me personally, I just feel like there's a lot of assumptions being made about masculinity and femininity and what they do and don't provide and yeah, I just think that you need to unpack that a little bit more. Maybe it's just the fact that I’m agender and I don't I don't get these concepts on a personal level.

I get the idea that like children can do better and in an environment where they can identify with the adults that's around them, and where they have something in common and where  they feel that as though they identify with a concept — and maybe they do identify with masculinity or femininity, and that's fine — and it is better for them to have an example of a positive aspect of that rather than a negative. I totally agree with that. I totally think that that's very valid.

But that person doesn't have to be a person that you date. You know, it takes a village to raise a child and there can be people who are super involved in your child's life, who aren't necessarily people that you date. So yeah, there's just a lot around that that I think you might want to unpack and think about, just because yeah, just having a man there doesn't necessarily mean anything. Lots and lots of people— if you watch as much true crime as I have, lots of people have masculine energies in their life and don't turn out so well.

You know, like, lots of people have feminine energies in their life and don't turn out so well. So I think that there's a little bit more there that needs to kind of be explored. I wouldn't decide on what kind of relationship structure you're going to have, based off of the idea that your future child needs a man in the house. I mean, that sounds a little suss. I'm just gonna say like— just unpack this. Unpack this.

And I say that as well, because I feel like there's a lot of like, internalised biphobia and misogyny going on here. And it's not to say that like either of you were actively ignorant or biased or in any way but like— your jealousy, it actually makes sense within this kind of context. If you're operating in a context of masculine and feminine energies and you would be understandably a little bit kind of put— not put off but like threatened by your partner dating a man.

Because a lot of queer people when they're in queer relationships, and there is this kind of like, you know, a possibility of their partner being able to access a “normal relationship” or relationship that is more accepted in society — and the fact that you've mentioned you're concerned about the taboo aspect of being in thruple— it makes me think that you kind of have a lot and going on with the idea of like, how people view you what people see and it makes sense that you would be right?

Like you were raised in a society that told you that heterosexuality is like the thing that you should be, that being monogamous is the thing that you should be and it makes sense to have a little bit of fear that your partner may choose, you know, a man over you because that is what society is telling you. Also, as well as like, internalised by phobia and homophobia, also misogyny like the idea — you know, when you look at buy phobia when you look at bisexuality, right?

The assumption generally tends to be — like people don't take bisexuality seriously. But the assumption always tends to be that the relationship with a man is more preferable, right? So like, if there's a bisexual man, people are like, “Oh, you're just gay. You're actually just gay”. Like nobody takes the bisexuality of that man very seriously. And then when it's a woman who's bisexual like,
“Oh, actually, you're just straight. You're just straight”. So when it comes down to it, no matter who is bisexual, it tends to be like, “Oh, you really just want to be with a man” like — and it's kind of this this misogyny add added as a layer on top of it, that a relationship with a woman is not that serious.

And so there is a lot of kind of internalised biphobia and like internalised, you know, misogyny that people go through in queer relationships where it's like, “Okay, this isn't as serious for you as being with a man” and a lot of experiences that bisexual women have dating lesbians or other queer people in that their bisexuality isn't taken seriously if they've dated a man or there's this fear that they're just gonna go back to men. I had this like, internalised biphobias, super intensely even as an agender person, as a non binary person.

I'm like, “Oh, well, you know, I'm not— I'm just pretending I secretly—“. You know, everybody kind of has that. So it makes kind of its sense that you have that and I just kind of feel like maybe there might be a little bit of a connection there with the assumption and like the fears. And these are understandable fears, and I'm not saying that you're like a secret misogynist for having them or anything like that. But what I'm saying is that it makes sense that you would fear both the idea that like, she's going to go to the guy and like prefer him over you, and also that you're scared of being judged because you're already kind of being judged in a way right?

Like it makes sense. But I think that what you kind of need to do — because what a lot of people do in these situations is that they're afraid of— you said you're afraid of the drama, right? You're afraid of emotions, you're afraid of things coming up. The thing is, is that no matter what path you choose, even if you break up with both of them and you decide to like be a married heterosexual woman and Leave It to Beaver kind of like house and picket fence.

That doesn't mean your life is going to be drama free. There is no— just kind of accept the fact that there is no life free of conflict. There is nothing constant but change. There isn't any path that you choose that's not necessarily going to be some sort of magical path that will have the balance of all the energies and therefore forever bring you peace. Unfortunately there is conflict in life there is drama, there is emotions, there is ups and downs.

And if you look at like almost every kind of advice when it comes to wisdom, older wisdom and even therapy and so much of what makes things tolerable is letting go of the idea that you can control everything and accepting the fact that you can't control for all the variables. And this is something that I explore in my 101 and 102 articles if you go to Non-MonogamyHelp.com/101 and /102. I explore them in my 101 and 102s and I also explore them in my book, The Anxious Person’s Guide to Non-Monogamy.

But the point I'm trying to make is that you're not going to be able to prevent conflict from arising. You're not going to be able to prevent yourself from feeling jealousy. You're not going to be able to prevent yourself from having big emotions, and what a lot of people do, not just in non-monogamy but in life in general — when they're faced with the idea of having to go through these emotions is they try to stop themselves from experiencing them either by disassociation, by addiction, by any means necessary — just creating all these rules like “We're gonna do this and this and this” to try and prevent themselves from feeling negative emotions.

And I kind of sense that that's a little bit of what you want to do. Understandably, most people— you're not going to,” yeah, I'm gonna volunteer to be unhappy”. Like nobody wants to do that. But the thing of it is, is that while you can't prevent yourself from experiencing conflict, experiencing “drama”, what you can predict and standby is your own faith in yourself and your own ability to regulate yourself. If you learn how to emotionally regulate yourself, then you know. Learning how to be how to regulate your nervous system is not about your nervous system, always being in a state of calm.

It's not about always being level and never experiencing any highs or lows. It's about how do you bring yourself back down from that. And that's kind of what I go through in my 101 and 102 articles. It's like, accept that you're going to be afraid, accept that you're going to be jealous, accept that things are going to be hard. Instead of putting on the rose tinted glasses which I feel like is what most polyamorous advice kind of tells you to do is just sort of like paste over the bad feelings by going “I’m the best and I'm the best person and my partner really loves me”, which is not— self affirming talk can work.

But I do feel like if you haven't learned how to balance your own nervous system, which a lot of people don't actually know how to do— And it's not really their fault because I feel like we're kind of living in a society that constantly aggravates our nervous system. But if your nervous system is constantly kind of going up and down, up and down, and you're in fight and flight, fight and flight— you can't get out of it. None of this self affirming talk is going to work for very much longer. Like that's not necessarily— there is an aspect of self compassion that's important for balancing your nervous system.

But it's not just that. And so I think that it's about learning that yes, these things are going to happen and how do I— how am I going to cope with them? Do I have confidence in myself in my ability to cope with them? And I think that that is what you will find if you kind of go through the the articles that I mentioned and kind of work through like okay, accept that you're going to have jealousy. Accept that you're going to have ups and downs. If you decide to go into this thruple, accept that some people are not going to be thrilled about it.

Some of your family won't be thrilled about it. People will be judgmental. People will make comments. People will make assumptions. There isn't anything you can do to control that. So it's about accepting that and figuring out how you're going to deal with that. I also think that accepting the fact that jealousy is going to arise is like a big thing that I would advise every single person to do. Even if you haven't experienced that much jealousy so far in the relationship that you've had.

I think accepting the fact that you are going to be jealous, that you're going to be afraid and quite often to be honest with you when you read the 102 on 102 articles you'll see but I feel like a big there's a big kind of trend within a lot of polyamorous people to label any negative feeling they have is jealousy when sometimes it's just being afraid of losing your partner and I disagree that those two are the same. So you're going to have negative emotions and that doesn't necessarily mean that you're not polyamorous or that you're can't hack it.

It's just like a normal response to choosing a relationship structure which is not common and you have no social models for and you don't really have the same social support for. It makes sense that you're going to experience big emotions because it's a big thing.  So accept that that's going to happen instead of trying to prevent jealousy from arising. Preventing family and friends from judging you which you can't prevent. Prevent drama. You can't prevent those things. You can’t.

There's nothing that you can do to prevent those things. So accept that there may be ups and downs and learn how to trust in your own personal ability to regulate your emotions. If you can't regulate your emotions, you can learn how to regulate them. Trust in your own ability to actually handle things. One of the things I put in my book is something that someone once told me which I really really appreciated — a kind of insight into anxiety because I've had anxiety pretty much my whole life and am much, much better now. But one of the things that they said was that anxiety isn't actually about the thing that you're anxious about.

You're not actually anxious— like for example, if you're like me and you have like super health anxiety and you're constantly worried that you have some type of terminal thing. You're not actually anxious about that. You're anxious about the fact that you believe you can't handle it. Like you're anxious about your ability to cope with it. That's actually what's driving the anxiety. It's not any of the myriad of things that you could be anxious about. It's the fact that there isn't a confidence in yourself to be able to cope with it.

And actually, there are so many things that could go wrong in life. There's so many things that can change. You're never going to be in a situation regardless of how safe you feel where you're not at risk of something happening. Anything can happen. The only thing that is really constant in life is your own ability to take care of yourself. And if you don't feel like you can take care of yourself, then you're going to try to control the situation around you to protect yourself instead of doing the work internally.

And that is a thing that a lot of people do, which makes a lot of sense. But there is a little bit of that in here of like you trying to control the situation around you and I feel like this is also extended in the fact of like the idea of you're going to be able to be a good parent or like create an environment that's perfect for a child simply by choosing the energies that are around that child when the it's vastly more complicated than that. And I would definitely encourage you to kind of break down those things.

So yeah, to sum up, it's an interesting question to put forth to an agender person. But my perception of this is that you might want to question some of the assumptions you're making about feminine and masculine energies, what those things mean. Try to kind of pull apart what you think feminine and masculine energy is and sort of be a little self critical about it. Examine how your own culture has impacted what you believe feminine and masculine energy is. It might be worth you actually reading Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

I would definitely recommend you checking that out. It might be worth you looking at history and what feminine and masculine means and how its vastly changed throughout time. Because I think that once you start seeing the feminine and masculine— you know, there are definitely things people can identify with. And that's absolutely fine. But there are things that are constructed within cultures and like I said, examine some of the assumptions that men are the ones that provide masculine energy.

And maybe you aren't assuming that. Maybe it just like I said that your partner just met a man and you're like, boop masculine energy, but like examine these kinds of assumptions and what they mean to you. And then I think also you might want to look at the way that it kind of like your internalised you know, homophobia, biphobia, misogyny, like these assumptions are internalised, and that's fine. And you're not a bad person for having that but accept that you may feel a little bit more threatened by a guy because of the society that's been around you that's validated heterosexual relationships in a way that it hasn't really validated homosexual relationships yet.

And I'm sorry to use a homosexual word but yeah. And then last but not least, I think that it's worth like, going through my 101 and 102 articles maybe going through my book, and thinking about instead of approaching the situation of “Oh, there's all this horrible stuff that might happen. And I want to prevent that”. Accept the fact that you're going to have jealousy, you're going to have negative feelings. “Drama”, will happen. And think about how you're going to deal with that and support yourself through that and support your partners through that and accept the fact that if you do enter into a thruple, people may be judgmental of that.

But people may be judgmental, regardless of what you do, but just accept that these things are things that can happen. And there isn't necessarily anything that you can do to absolutely and totally, you know, inoculate yourself from these things, or protect yourself from these things. That these things are just part of the ups and downs of life and figure out how you're going to support yourself through that rather than just trying to prevent everything from happening. So I hope that helps and good luck.

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