Episode 121: Q&A

A series of questions sent to me by followers on Instagram @NonMonogamyHelp.

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

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  1. Advice for those new to exploring and having a hard time finding a poly[am] community.
  2. How do I handle a break up while maintaining other relationships?
  3. What do you think about freedom vs. considering each other emotions & compromise?
  4. Advice for dialling back a relationship that’s taking more time/energy thank you’d like?
  5. What do you do if your husband doesn’t like/trust your boyfriend?
  6. What do you think about the use of non-monogamy vs “polygamy”?
  7. How do you figure out if polyamory is “causing issues” in a relationship or if the roots lie elsewhere?
  8. What’s the difference between the “relationship escalator” and deepening the relationship?
  9. Steps to becoming non-monogamous or breaking up due to moving countries for work?


Advice for those new to exploring and having a hard time finding a poly[am] community?

I think this is actually quite difficult because it is a postcode lottery, what I call a postcode lottery, which is kind of a British expression, where the services that you get are maybe really, really good at one postcode or zip code and really, really bad in another postcode or zip code, and I do think that sometimes you can have either no polyamory community if you're in a very small, small country, or a small city or what have you or you can have a community that's local, that really stinks. 

That's also another option. I think that the best way that you can kind of go about it, the ways that I'd recommend you go about it is look for Facebook groups look for go to Meetup.com if that's something that's available in your area, I'm not sure what country you live in or what city you live in. Go to Meetup.com. See if you can find a polyamory group near you.

Use the word polyamory. Use the word non-monogamy. Use swinging, even if you're not necessarily a swinger, you may be able to find some groups through that. You can also start your own. Maybe you know people kind of want events but don't want to run them and running events is kind of a pain in the butt and I don't know how much of a sustainable solution that is for you. But that is also another option. 

Okay, maybe you might be a little bit awkwardly sitting at a pub or whatever you want to do for a few times and nobody really comes around but I think it's worth giving it a shot or seeing what happens. So I would definitely like check out Meetup.com. Check out Facebook. Check out — I know some people find groups on FetLife. I don't really use FetLife. And just see if you can find some local groups and if you can't find a polyamory group, see if you can find a sex positive group. 

See if you can find swinging groups, even if you're not necessarily super into any kinks or things like that. Finding those groups like there's a Venn diagram and all of these communities and actually — this is going to be quite funny, but hilariously enough, you could also do geeky things because there is also that kind of a Venn diagram there to like board game meetups, d&d meetups, you know there is there is a Venn diagram there.

You never know and I mean, worst comes to worst you find a new group to hang out with or you make new friends. You don't really lose in that situation. So I think definitely try and find local groups, small groups where you can. And also another big thing that I would also say is don't assume that because someone has a lot of community clout, or that they have a lot of partners, that they are “safe to date”, or nice people.

Because unfortunately, like I said, one of the aspects of it being a postcode lottery is that you can't have a community that's also quite shit. And unfortunately, I have found in some cases that the people who are the most popular in the community who run the most events because they have the economic privilege of having the free time to run those events, sometimes are assholes. To put it bluntly, they're not nice people and they're really doing these events and such because they like the attention. 

So just be on the lookout for that. I'm not saying that's true of every single case. Sometimes people are quite nice, but if that's what you want to do, then I would definitely try that out. I personally, I don't like mingling, I don't like social events. I don't drink. And so most of the time these events are of no real benefit to me, and I don't like aimless socialising with no point or no clear end time and without an activity to do.

So it's not something that I have a huge interest in. So I can't really speak largely from experience of seeking out these types of things, but that is what I would recommend.

How do I handle a break up while maintaining other relationships?

I think the thing about this is just to be really, really honest and ask yourself how would you handle a breakup while maintaining your other friendships? You're gonna feel like crap for a while and I don't think that it's necessary for friends or other partners to solve that. 

I think sometimes you're just going to feel like crap for a little while and just be honest with people in the same way that you maintain other relationships while dealing with grief or a death or anything else or a job loss anything else in your life where there is some sort of loss. I think that everyone in your life who cares about you and isn't an asshole should be perfectly willing to be like, “Okay, you're dealing with stuff”. Like what can they do?

Like think about the things that they can do. Maybe they can listen to you, maybe they can, you know, cheer you up. Maybe they can— there's all sorts of things that they can actually do to help but I would just be really, really honest about your kind of personal emotional capacity with everyone in your life because it's not just about romantic relationships. 

It's also about friendships, and sometimes when we're going through a super difficult time or going through a big thing. We don't have as much capacity to give to other people as we normally do. And as long as you're really honest about that, and you can talk together in that relationship, regardless of what kind of relationship it is about how that person can help if they can help or what they can do.

Then I think that's, yeah, that's where you maintain that other relationship. And anyone who is going to be I don't know frustrated, mad pissed off with you because you are going through a difficult time. It's probably not a very good friend or relationship to have in general.

What do you think about freedom vs. considering each other emotions and compromise?

I think people tend to struggle with this when it comes to polyamory, because obviously, you have multiple people to consider and think about, but really, it's kind of the same regardless of whatever type of relationship you have. I don't think monogamy is necessarily free of the idea of like, “oh, I want to be an independent person, and have my own thing while also being in this relationship”.

And I think that you do have a lot of situations where especially in monogamy, where you have that really big struggle with culturally people basically telling you like that your romantic relationship is the most important thing in the world and it should be the thing that you devote all your time to, and then maybe you don't feel that way. 

And I think that you also have that with having kids, like there's so many situations where this is applicable. And I think that it comes down to the individual situation or whatever you're talking about, because considering someone's emotions is not the same as deciding what to do.

Like, if, for example, if I really care about, you know, training, it's a big thing in my life. I like to train like to go to the gym. I do strongman training, I participate in competitions. It's a really important thing for me, and I can understand if my partner wants to spend more time with me and I have to balance that aspect of like, okay, I want to spend time on this because I'm very passionate about this. 

But then I also must make sure that I schedule time with a partner or schedule time with a person so that they don't feel like they're being ignored. So I think that it's just about being really honest about what you want and being able to be clear and if I say like, no, like Tuesday night is my training night.

That's my training night, and I'm not willing to change that up unless there's a sort of emergency or situation like that, then I think that somebody even if they're dealing with their own feelings, or if they want to spend time with me, they should be able to respect that as well. 

So I think it's just about like, you know, flexibility, being flexible, but also being very clear about what you want. I think the problem a lot of people run into is that they in some way try to be people pleasers and try to, and not necessarily because they don't have their own wants or needs, but they struggle to advocate for their own wants and needs.

And then they end up in situations where their schedules are dictated by other people, because they don't have the ability to say no. And so I think that that's, you know, one of the most important things and you can't really have your own freedom and your own agency if you don't actually claim it. So yeah.

Advice for dialling back a relationship that’s taking more time/energy than you’d like?

I think that this is like always a thing that people really struggle with. And I understand why. It's that you want to kind of have it both ways. And in some ways, like you want to be able to set a boundary or set a situation but you don't want it to hurt someone else and you don't want someone else to get upset and I think it's unrealistic for you to have that. 

I think that you have to sometimes make a decision between setting a boundary or making your needs and wants known, and understand that that may hurt somebody else or you know, and you can do it in a nice way. I'm not saying be an asshole but understand that other people are going to have their own emotions and feelings and reactions to your boundaries. 

That doesn't mean that you're wrong to have them. And that also isn't something that's completely within your control. You can't really control that completely. Obviously, like I said, you can you can set your boundaries in a nice way. You don't have to be like, “Oh my god, I'm tired of spending time with you”.

Or if you're gonna be that mean and nasty, then don't be in that relationship. But you can clearly set your boundaries and someone else might be disappointed. And it may be that you know, you feel like this relationship is taking more time and energy than you'd like. But that person needs someone who can give them that time and energy. So they may then decide, okay, you can't give me this time and energy. I actually need this time and energy.

So we're going to end it here. And is that what you're actually worried about preventing? So I think at the end of the day, you have to be willing to you know, have those hard conversations, be willing to deal with the risk that somebody else might be hurt might feel sad, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're wrong and what you want and it's much better in the long run for you to be honest about what you want than it is for you to lie about it and then eventually someone else goes crazy.

So just be honest about it. Just say, “Hey, I need more time to myself, I don't have enough energy to sustain this type of connection. So I'm gonna have to dial it back a little bit”.

And I would like you know— whether it's like you want to initiate discussions with them or you want to decide on clear times that you spend with them and however much that is but like make your wants and needs known. Understand that this may be a catalyst for them to decide that this isn't a relationship that meets their needs, and that's fine. 

Then you're not compatible and it's much better for you to separate with incompatibility. than for you to dial it back anyway, then be unhappy force them to be in a situation where they have to break up with you, or you both end up fighting and bickering like it's much better to do it that way. So just be honest. And be nice. Be kind like Don't be a jerk about it.

But be honest and say like, “Look, I need more time to myself. I need more energy. So this is what I would like in terms of time we spend together and I may not answer calls, if I'm feeling like I'm overwhelmed and I can't handle it”. Then that is that is your prerogative, but just do it in a nice way and accept the fact that this may cause the end of your relationship.

What do you do if your husband doesn't like/trust your boyfriend? 

What do you do if your husband doesn't like/trust your best friend? What do you do if your husband doesn't like/trust your mom, what do you do if your husband doesn't like/trust your dad? What do you do if your husband doesn't like/trust your boss? I mean, your husband doesn't have to like/trust your boyfriend. At the end of the day.

I know that it's like the thing that we all want and the thing— I bet you hear about this so much, and I'm so sorry for everyone who's forced to constantly hear me bitch about this, but I know that everyone wants a situation where like, everyone loves each other, and everyone's best friends and we're all putting— we all live in a house together and no one ever fights and bla bla bla, I get it. I get it. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing.

I'm not shitting on kitchen table polyamory, but I am saying that sometimes people are people sometimes people don't get along. Sometimes people don't fucking like each other. And nobody has to be evil in that situation for people to just deal with it. Like be adults deal with it. Your husband doesn't like/trust your boyfriend.

Great. Okay, thanks for the input. You don't have to like/trust your boyfriend— or he doesn't have to like/trust your boyfriend. It's not his boyfriend. He doesn't have to talk to your boyfriend.

Like he knows your boyfriend exists. There may be some things that, you know, balancing time — he may know that you're spending time with your boyfriend. And I can understand that wanting a completely parallel relationship.

But here's the thing. You're gonna have situations like that and polyamory because you're gonna have situations like that in life. You're gonna have situations even if you were monogamous. You might end up with somebody who absolutely freaking hates your dad. Absolutely freaking hates your cousin. Absolutely freaking hates your brother or something. 

People sometimes just don't get along, their personalities clash. They don't like each other. Someone does something that they don't like. I have been in situations where my partner is dating someone that I don't like. I have even had situations where my partner might be interested in someone that I think is a complete and total asshole. I'm welcome to my feelings.

I'm welcome to not like that person. And I'm also welcome in terms of like time we spend together like to say, “Hey, in our shared space where there is no room for me to like, go to another room—“. And I had the same situation actually, when I stopped getting along with my partner's parents, and that the family didn't work out for me. I was like, “I don't want anything to do with your family anymore”. 

And that is really difficult and people really struggle with that. But you know what? When we had enough space in the house that we lived in so that when his parents came over, I went to another room and I didn't talk to them because I didn't want to talk to them. And I'm allowed to have that decision.

I'm allowed to not get along with them. I'm allowed to not want to talk to them. And that may be uncomfortable socially, but I'm allowed to do that. And there are situations where I think people might struggle with that. But you know, if you have enough, you can talk about the negotiations of your husband and your boyfriend sharing space. 

You know, if you have a house with your husband, maybe your boyfriend doesn't come around or maybe if your boyfriend only comes around when your husband's not there. Exactly the same situation if like your husband hated your roommate. Think about it in that terms.

Your husband doesn't have to like or trust your boyfriend because it's not your husband's relationship. It's your relationship. And if your husband doesn't, he’s using that as an excuse, like, “Oh, I don't trust him”. Okay, you don't have to trust him. You just have to trust me. We're the ones in a relationship together. 

So that's the thing. Don't make this a thing that it has to be that your husband likes/trusts your boyfriend because he doesn't have to. And if he's putting pressure on the situation, that is the problem. It's not that your husband isn't like/trust your boyfriend, it's that your husband is demanding to do that, and making decisions for you that don't have to be made or you're expecting that when you shouldn't expect that.

Especially don't put people in situations. And I'm not saying you're necessarily— I feel like this is a whole thing within polyamory, like… and I talk about it so much because it sucks so much to feel like you have to be friends with someone or you have to force yourself to be in social situations with someone who you don't get along with purely for the sake of like not appearing jealous or not, blah, blah, blah.

Like sometimes people just don't get along and like just let them be. Don't force them into situations where they are unhappy, because that's just going to cause more of arguments between them. So yeah, it's hard to say without having more context of the situation, but in general, apply it to what you would do with a family member and a partner not getting along and think about that.

Like obviously, it's great when everyone gets along. But sometimes it's just not what is going to happen realistically. 

What do you think about the use of non-monogamy versus “polygamy”? 

So this is a thing that I find a lot with people who are new to these concepts. Polygamy and polyamory are not the same thing.

Polygamy is specifically referring to situations where people like husbands have multiple wives if I recall correctly, I could be wrong. If somebody wants to correct me. I could be wrong. And generally speaking, historically, when you look at like polygamy that's in the Bible, for example, relationships were not the same in days gone by as they are today.

Our relationships today are about love, companionship, emotions and sexual attraction. Way back in the day relationships were about making sure that you were surviving, selling — somewhat like essentially selling brides like people, you know, husband. A “husband” — if you look at the word “animal husbandry”. The words animal husbandry — that's where that comes from.

And it was basically about a social contract or negotiation for bringing families together for ensuring that you were able to families will be able to support themselves by essentially selling their daughters to other families. These were relationships that weren't about love. They were relationships— and I'm not saying that nobody married for love and previous times. Of course they did. But our concept of romantic love has really changed over the years.

So polygamy when we look back in history is it's a lot of a different context. And it can still happened today. People do that whole, like, multiple wives sort of thing. And it's it's not I don't know enough about it to really be able to make any harsh judgments about or to be able to say anything about it because truthfully, I don't know anything about it. I haven't watched anything about it. I haven't talked to anybody who's in a plural marriage.

I think it's what it's called. So I don't know enough about the situation to be able to comment and I think if it if the word polygamy applies to your situation, then use it. But I think polygamy isn't the same as polyamory. Polyamory is more about having multiple romantic relationships.

It's not limited by gender. And that is the main difference. And I think use whatever words — like I used to be really intense about like, you know, poly[am] or did certain words mean certain things and you should only regretted it like, I'm not really that intense anymore about policing how people decide to use words if you want to use a word in a certain way. 

As long as it's conveying the meaning that you think it's conveying then you know, what you do— I use the word non-monogamy. I don't really apply the word polyamorous to myself that much because I just prefer using the word non-monogamy but I have no strong feelings about it either way.

How do you figure out if polyamory is “causing issues” in a relationship or if the roots lie elsewhere? 

I feel like this is a difficult question because it could be both like it could be that polyamory is actually causing roots which are already there to come out in a way that monogamy doesn't in some instances.

So it's really hard to say. I think that in general, I would, where possible. I always try to apply situations to other relationships, because I think people always think that polyamory like — simply in the question that we had just before, what if your husband doesn't like/trust your boyfriend? I think that people kind of forget that monogamy is often filled with the same struggles and sometimes when you redefine a situation where you assume that oh, the problem must be polyamory.

It must be jealousy. It must be multiple relationships. But actually, maybe this is a problem that exists in all kinds of relationships and that can help you figure out what you would do in that situation. Because polyamory is so not culturally defined. And because you kind of feel like you're not going by the cultural script that sometimes makes you forget that it is relationship like any other and there are a lot of commonalities within all relationships, even if it's a polyamorous one. 

So sometimes I say like, think about how you would you know, how can you put this in context of another relationship that you have? Like, what if your roommate hates your brother? What you know, like things like that? How would you change that up?

Is this really about it being romantic? Or is this actually just about a general relationship issue that comes up in all relationships? And in general, I would advise going to therapy because that can also help you figure out if it's that polyamory doesn't work for you, or if there are other issues going on. If you have a polyamory friendly therapist, that is.

What is the difference between the relationship escalator and deepening the relationship? 

I don't think those things are always mutually exclusive, because I think that it's understandable that for a lot of people having more solid commitments to each other represents a deepening of the relationship.

So understandably, for a lot of people, someone that they live with, day in and day out will be a deeper relationship than someone they only see once a month. Understandably, someone that they decide to marry and have legal and contractual obligations with will be someone that they have a deeper relationship with and someone that they maybe see every other week. 

I don't think that those are always a mutually exclusive thing. And I also don't think that following the relationship escalator is necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes there's a reason why people do these things. It's not necessarily that the entire foundation is wrong. Like it's the same concept of as with gender. The idea of someone like a girl liking pink and liking dresses and liking to be feminine isn't the problem. 

That's not an issue. It's the it's when people are forced into doing that. And when they're criticised when they're not doing that, and when it's seen as completely so natural and yet it needs to be bullied into everyone. That's the problem. So if you don't, you know, if you want to move in with people, if you want to get married, if you want to do all that, that's not a problem.

It's only when you feel like you have to do that, and that there is no other way to have a valid relationship that it becomes a problem. So I think that I can't speak for the person who wrote the concept — invented the concept of the relationship escalator and I think it's always best to like read or ask them or read more of what they have to say on it. 

But in my opinion, the difference to me is actually making an active choice to do it, not because it's socially expected of you, but because it has a meaning to you, you know, marriage doesn’t— Marriage is an interesting concept to think about, actually, especially now that I live in Sweden. And actually quite a lot of people don't necessarily get married. Getting married isn't very common.

There are lots of people who have children who live together for long periods of time who never get married. It's not seen as this big thing here. So culturally, it's you know, some people do some people don't. And if it means something to you, then it's not that people turn their noses up at it either. So I think that if, if something means something to you, then that's what deepening the relationship is.

And that's what it means to you. And you don't have to not do things that are on the relationship escalator just because you live in a society that encourages you to do so or says that you're not in a deep relationship unless you have these things.

So it's just down to your personal definition of what you see is important.

What are the steps to becoming non-monogamous or breaking up due to moving countries for work?

The big thing that I would ask here is I do feel like sometimes people use non-monogamy or polyamory as a way to stay with people. Instead of breaking up with them, and I get it. But I do think that it's worth asking, like is this actually what you want?

Is a long, long distance relationship, something that you can sustain or really should you just break up?

Because I don't think that non-monogamy is a way to as I've said— non-monogamy is not a way to sustain multiple semi fulfilling relationships until you reach a lovable level of permissible stasis. I think that you need to ask if this is a relationship you actually want to be in as long distance what you actually want are using this as like a stop gap for like. 

Okay, well like and if you want to, and you're honest with each other about it, like it'd be, it'd be much better for you to be like, “Okay, we're moving countries through for work. We don't really want to break up right now. But we also don't want to pretend you know, we don't want to pretend like we're still in the same type of relationship”.

“So maybe what we'll do is, you know, if we want to have each other in a kind of romantic way is that we'll kind of stay together until one of us, you know, finds another date and we'll let each other date and it doesn't have to be non-monogamous”. That may be less painful for you that may be more painful for you. It's up to you to decide what whether or not that's more or less painful for some people.

That would be less painful to do for some people that would be way more painful than to just cut it off. So it just depends on what's more or less healthy for you. But I don't think that you should necessarily become non-monogamous just because you don't want to break up. I don't think that that's a good motivation for becoming non-monogamous because you're not going to have the same relationship as a non-monogamous person or as a long distance couple as you have together right now.

So your relationship is going to change. Maybe see if you can kind of like stay together for a trial period until maybe one of you find somebody but ask if that is something that is really going to hurt less for you. Maybe it will hurt more so and it's hard for me to say which one that is for you because it's a personal decision.

So yeah, I hope that helps and good luck.

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