POLY TALK TRANSCRIPTS

Spelling Out Our Series on Succeeding in Polyamory

COMPERSION

- Welcome to Poly Talk with Kat and Jamie. I'm Kat.

- I'm Jamie.

And this is number six of our series where we've been talking about different aspects of relationships, whether they're polyamory or non-monogamy, ethical and consensual non-monogamy, or power exchanges, and today, we're really excited. We're discussing a term that comes from the polyamorous world.

- Yep.

- Which is compersion, and if you're not familiar with compersion, you'll know by the end of our talk today what compersion is all about. So, stay tuned, and we're gonna jump right in, so--

- Mm-hmm.

- What do I do when I feel jealous, Jamie? What do I do?

- You should get really mad at yourself and just walk away.

- No, no!

- Jealousy is normal. Jealousy is a human emotion that we all experience. The thing is, what do you do with it?

- Mm-hmm.

- Like any emotion, if you're happy, what do you do with it? If you're angry, what do you do with it? That's all that really matters in the end. I think we've talked about this a lot in this series that emotions are all about how you react to it.

- Yeah.

- When I get jealous, I tend to actually get pretty excited because that means that there is someone out there who has something, who has a knowledge of how to do something, or what have you, that I don't know how to do, and I can learn from them. So, that's how I personally deal with jealousy, but we're specifically talking about relationship jealousy,

- Mm-hmm.

- And in non-monogamy, boy, if we're in a relationship, and you're in a relationship with somebody else, and I'm jealous of that relationship.

- Right, right.

- And this is a big question that comes up for people who go, "So, you're in an open relationship. "How do you deal with the jealousy?"

- Right.

- So, I usually say, I'm glad monogamous relationships don't have jealousy. But that's why we're talking about compersion, which is a different reaction to that jealousy. It's instead respecting that that second relationship is its own separate entity from you and I, and I can be excited about what that brings into your life without it affecting me, or rather just it brings me a sense of happiness. It's like when somebody gets a promotion, and you don't get a promotion at your work or a pay increase, but your friend has it, so you get excited with them, and you go celebrate.

- Right.

- And because you're celebrating, and you're excited, they're more excited, and it's this big agreement, and that's really what we're getting at with compersion.

- Nice. Nice.

- Yeah.

- And I think in order for us to really see the difference between how we tend to react through jealousy and how we can begin to turn that is to understand what are some of the places that jealousy takes us? Jealousy is a very complex... I'll call it an entity.

- Mm-hmm.

- Because it's not even just one emotion.

- Oh, yeah.

- It deals with a multitude of things from insecurity to fear to lack of self love and self value, and a lot of times people will feel that they're missing out on something.

- Oh, yeah.

- So, for instance, when I have a partner, my husband, he went to Costa Rica with his girlfriend, and there's this part of me that was like, "Man, I really wanna go on a trip with him. But, right now, that's not where we are, and that's not the things that are happening in our life.

- Mm-hmm.

- And I can express that, oh. I'm having these feelings. I'm missing out on something, but I can also turn that around and say, but I'm so happy that you get to go have this experience, even though it's not with me, you get to go have this experience, and you get to explore something, and you get to spend time with your other partner because I know that somewhere down the line, you and I are gonna go do something, and we're gonna have time that we spend just with us, and that creates a different aspect for you and I.

- Yeah.

- And so, it's really being able to shift some of those thought processes around when your partner has another partner or multiple partners, and they're doing things that either you want to do, or they are engaging in activities that you actually do with your partner, it can often times evoke a response that, oh, you took them to that restaurant? I thought that was our restaurant. That was special.

- Mm-hmm.

- That's where you and I go on date night, and now you're taking someone else there? That can evoke something as well.

- Yeah.

- And to understand that just because you go there with that person, doesn't mean that they can't either.

- Yeah.

- But these are very typical scenarios that people moving into polyamory and ethical and consensual non-monogamy don't quite know yet how to work through.

- Yeah.

- And understanding how compersion fits into that.

- Yeah, and like with your restaurant example, you may not even know that that would bother you at all, and chances are it's not the fact that they went to that place. There's something else beneath the surface going on, but sometimes it's like, oh. That makes me feel left out,

- Mm-hmm.

- And now I just have to sit with that feeling, and it's like how do I talk about it?

- Right.

- Something we also see in particular in the BDSM community is people will open up their relationship in a way that's called poly play. Poly play would have to do with I am a kinkster, and I like lots of kinky activities, but I fell in love with someone that's vanilla, who doesn't like all this stuff. They don't like the impact play. They don't like the bondage. They don't like the discipline, whatever it is, and they can find people to play with strictly BDSM play, as in you're going to a dungeon and just engaging in that power exchange, or it can also include a sexual component depending on what that relationship includes.

- Right.

- And I've seen people really flourish in that because people who are into BDSM, that's a really important piece of their lives. It's like cutting off one of your favorite hobbies. If you're dating somebody,

- Mm-hmm.

- And you're really into skiing, and they went, "That's great, but no more skiing because now you're dating me."

- Right.

- That doesn't make a lot of sense.

- No.

- To you and I that doesn't make a lot of sense, but then when you're talking to somebody about, yeah, but I really like to go, and get this person naked and tie them up, or whatever, then it starts blurring a line, and that's part of why we talk so much in our last episodes about communication and how to walk through those things when problems come up. This is the I'm so glad that my partner has somebody to explore with because I'm working, because I'm with another person, because my friends are where I'm at today. So, it makes me feel really good to know that my partner, even though I'm not with them, is having a good time.

- Absolutely.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, my example of that is my husband loves country music, and I can't stand it, and I'm so happy that he has other people that he can go enjoy country music festivals or concerts with, and I can bless them off and send them off. Go have a fabulous weekend. Enjoy yourselves and all your country-ness because that's not something I want to do, and when you have a monogamous relationship, it would be, oh. Now, I gotta go to that country music thing because the husband, he really loves this, and so I gotta suffer through it, or then he has to go by himself, which then could cause some jealousy issues because then it's, well, who's he with? Did he meet somebody?

- Mm-hmm.

- Is he really enjoying himself because I'm not there? And who is he connecting to and talking to? Or if then he has to find someone who is approved for him to go with, like a guy friend or someone else that is trustworthy, it sets up a different level of feeling.

- Yeah.

- Rather than being able to really send that person off and say, go have a great time, and I'm so happy that you can do this with somebody that you care about, and you get to enjoy this other thing as well.

- Yeah. I'll say when these feelings come up for me of does this person have something that I don't? Or what have you, I come back to, a lot of times, that I need to trust the person that I'm with. I need to trust that I can express my fears. I need to trust that they're gonna respect our relationship boundaries, and that everything's gonna be okay, and if I need something like, text me when you get home at the end of the night, just so that I know that everything went okay.

- Right.

- That's totally reasonable.

- Yes.

- So, there's some processing that comes with this.

- Mm-hmm.

- We also have in our notes that it's important also to have a relationship, not just with the person that you're with, but the most important relationship always has to be your relationship with yourself.

- Absolutely.

- Because if you don't have enough self-esteem, enough self-love, enough of an ability to fill your own bucket, then that's always gonna cause a problem in the relationship because if you're completely depending on the other person to bring you all of your self worth and all of that, it's just gonna be a constant take, take, take.

- Right.

- So, you need to have your relationship with you, so that you can make space for them to have their relationships, and for you to have yours.

- Right.

- Yeah.

- And what we find is in monogamous culture, we are taught from a very, very young age that we're to look outside ourselves for our completion.

- Yeah.

- That the person that we're supposed to mate with for life, whether you date first, but then you mate for life, is supposed to fulfill your every need, want, desire, all of these pieces that we then put onto our partners to say, well, you're supposed to fulfill me in this way. You're supposed to fulfill my self esteem. You're supposed to fulfill my self value. You're supposed to love me because I don't love myself enough, and it actually creates this piece where when you become pair bonded, you lose your personal identity because you're now part of the couple, and it is the couple that is the entity.

- Yeah.

- So, you've lost now your individuality. You've also given up your power of fulfilling yourself to someone else, and jealousy in monogamy is actually a form of love.

- Oh yeah, we see that all the time, yeah.

- And the way that works is if you don't care enough about me to be upset that I'm talking to someone else or paying attention to someone else, or I'm flirting with someone else, you're not getting upset at the fact that my attention is not 100% on you, then you don't love me enough.

- Mm-hmm.

- You don't care about me enough. You think it's okay that I step out on you, and that is how jealousy becomes ingrained in monogamous culture that it's actually a form of love. And so, as we're entering into polyamorous relationships, power exchange dynamics, or any other kind of multiple relationship connections that are romantic and sexual, having jealousy from that standpoint brought into those relationships will only cause that turmoil and those major issues that we see all the time happening.

- Mm-hmm.

- And people had that shift in their heads, where it's like, well, how do I become happy for my partner when I'm feeling these things? When I'm feeling that I don't have enough of their attention? Or I'm feeling like I'm not worthy of whatever it is because now they're having this other person?

- Yeah. On that note, I just wanna say that this is a truth in life in general, but especially in polyamorous relationships, comparison is a trap.

- Mmm.

- There is no way that when you start comparing relationships that you're gonna end up on the right side of it.

- Yes.

- Because every relationship is it's own separate entity.

- Mm-hmm.

- What relationship I have with one person is not gonna be exactly the same with anybody else, and they're gonna bring things out of me that maybe you never even knew to ask about. So, I just wanna put that out there as an important piece of it is just because somebody brings out something in your partner that you hadn't seen before, that doesn't mean something's wrong with you or whatever. It's actually something to really celebrate 'cause people are bringing things out of your partner you didn't know were there, and that's typically something to celebrate. I really enjoy it when I get to see that. Yeah.

- Absolutely. And when we take this position that we're here to grow and learn and expand ourselves through our relationships, we want our other partners to expand and to grow and for new things to be brought out in them from the partners that they're engaging with as well because we want that for ourselves as well. When we have multiple partners, we are going to have those different people bring out different aspects of us.

- Mm-hmm.

- And that helps us to grow as a human being as that beautiful individual that we are, and without having those multiple relationships to say, oh, well, I bring out this piece in you, and I bring out this piece in you, then we might lose some of that ability for ourselves to even grow.

- Yeah.

- And don't we want that for our partners as well?

- Yeah, absolutely.

- Yeah.

- Absolutely.

- Excellent.

- I will say, too, these things that we're talking about, this vulnerable communication, the identifying societal expectations, and everything else we've talked about, trauma triggers, these all also apply to monogamous relationships,

- Mm-hmm.

- Or more of what's more normative. The thing is, I find a lot of people get away with things.

- Yeah.

- We all know this thing of I'm constantly stressed out. I don't get enough sleep, but I'm working hard, and we have in our society this thing where we kind of champion that behavior.

- Mm-hmm.

- And the same thing happens to relationships, where we're like yeah, that's just how it is. You just ignore things or whatever, and I would say that those people are probably not super happy or excited or feeling lots of big emotions in their relationships.

- Mm-hmm.

- So, when you're in a polyamorous dynamic, basically, you have to work on this stuff.

- Yeah.

- Or it's just not gonna work. So, everything we've talked about, including compersion, is something a monogamous person can feel and get value from. The thing is in monogamy, you're just not having to push on this quite as much because you're not seeing those romantic connections that you've been taught your whole life should only be between one-on-one.

- Right.

- You can have 10 kids and love them all equally, but you can only have one person who's your romantic partner is the big story.

- Right.

- So, there's work involved, but it feels amazing to know that your person is taking care of themselves and the people that they're seeing also bring something to the table for them, and it doesn't mean something's wrong with you. It doesn't mean that they don't want to see you. It means that we're all different, and it's great to celebrate that, and that to me is one of the biggest pieces of why I continue in polyamory because I just get so much benefit from knowing this and meeting people and being open.

- Mm-hmm, absolutely.

- Yeah.

- And I think I also wanna share that compersion doesn't always have to mean that you like your partner's other partners.

- Yeah.

- And that sometimes even having a more distance or even a disconnected connection with your metas, knowing that the connection that your partner has with them maybe is something that you would not engage with, but for some reason there is something that your partner is gaining through that relationship.

- Mm-hmm.

- And being able to say maybe that relationship challenges your partner in a particular way, so that they can continue to grow, but it's not something that you would necessarily connect with.

- Yeah.

- And so, compersion doesn't always have to be a happy-go-lucky, or I love my metas so much, or I'm just head over heels with the fact that my partner is with this other person. It doesn't always have to be that way, but it really comes down to, do I respect my partner enough to know that if they're having a relationship with someone, and they are receiving benefit from it, then I can be okay with that.

- Yeah.

- And I think one of the other pieces that people are challenged with, and maybe this will lead us into our next series, will be how do I manage having a partner who's in a relationship that I can't get behind?

- Mm-hmm.

- Because there are those as well.

- Yeah.

- And that will definitely be, I think, another topic that at some point we will be addressing.

- Yeah.

- And so, compersion comes in many forms. It comes with different levels of how we feel and how we think about our partners and their partners, and I also love the fact that compersion is something that we actually experience in everyday life.

- Mm-hmm.

- I loved your example at the beginning was your friend or someone that you really care about gets a raise, or someone gets engaged, or someone has some other really wonderful life event experience, and you can be happy for them.

- Yeah.

- And you can revel in their joy, even though it's not your own.

- Yeah, and I think that's an amazing thing that humans get to do because we are community based creatures.

- Mmm, yeah.

- For me, also, being part of a sex-positive community, being part of... I'm involved with a lot of different communities actually.

- Mm-hmm.

- I get to continuously have that in my friendships and everything else in a really unique way because I'm with people who are in really intimate spaces,

- Mm-hmm.

- And that's just... It keeps bringing me back to this.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, and putting the work in.

- Absolutely, yeah. And I also know that, again, I think we've kind of touched up on this with every one of our videos is having mentorship, having connection with someone who can be a guide, who can be a coach or a support for you, is really important, and especially if these are areas that you struggle with. Struggling alone is never fun.

- Yeah.

- And it can be very challenging to make the shifts around jealousy because of how deeply ingrained it is in our systems from that monogamous point of view.

- Yeah, and it's that question of also are you the type of person who can generate happy, good, positive emotions for yourself?

- Mm-hmm.

- So, if you're the type who's like your partner's on a date with somebody else, and it's just gonna make you miserable and isolate and think about all the things that they're doing that you don't get to do.

- Mm-hmm.

- You have to work on a mindfulness shift in that way.

- Right.

- I do a lot of mindfulness practices, and I actually do think about that, the fact that I have a couple partners actually who live very far away, and the fact that I get to share in those conversations with them, it let's me know what's going on, and then I can take time when I'm by myself to reflect on that as well, both that I value my time with them, and I'm thankful for that, and I'm thankful I don't spend every minute of every day with them because I might not like that. So, I end up gaining this appreciation for these other layers, whether that be their friends who fulfill needs and wants that I can't or play partners or lovers or full on relationships.

- Right.

- It really lets you start to make space for those things.

- It does.

- Yeah.

- Absolutely. And I think the wonderful thing that I love about my ethical and consensual non-monogamous life is the breath and depth of what I get to create.

- Yeah.

- I get to choose what works for me. I get to create the different levels of communication, the different levels of love and connection, the different sexual aspects that I get to explore. There's all these different ways that I get to now explore, Kat, as a woman where I couldn't have done this several years ago, and in that process it really has been about the journey within.

- Yeah.

- The journey of who am I? What do I want? I deserve what I want.

- Yeah.

- And really coming to value myself as a full and complete individual, and then I get to share that beautiful woman with whoever I choose and however I choose to do that and however those dynamics fit in my life, whether it's a short term, a long term, a play partner, a friend with benefits, or a full on life partner, however that works.

- Yeah. I have a quote I'd like to read.

- Yeah.

- It's by Anthony de Mello in a book called The Way to Love, and this is kind of my test and my measure for where I am, both in, do I feel this way about myself? And do I feel this way about my relationships? And it's, "I leave you free to be yourself, to think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, behave in ways that you decide are to your liking," and to me, that's just a great expression of I have so much trust for this person that I trust that they can follow their inclinations, and that I can follow mine, and everything is compersionate towards each other.

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Absolutely. And then finding those beautiful places where you intersect.

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Absolutely.

- Love it.

- Absolutely.

- Wonderful. All right, well.

- Okay, so now you know everything about polyamory. Of course there's a lot more that we could say. We could always go deeper on all of these topics. If you like what we're saying, please leave us comments. Let us know that we're landing on you, and if you'd like us to keep this up, subscribe, comment, send us a message, and of course, as always, Kat, you offer mentorship for women?

- And you mentorship for?

- Yeah, for couples.

- And anyone else?

- Yeah, yeah, basically. So, there's always people to reach out to. There's lots of community out there. We just ask that you don't go it alone.

- Yep.

- And take care of yourself.

- Absolutely. So, thank you for watching our initial series. We will be back with more. So, keep an eye out for us coming soon. This is Poly Talk with Kat and Jamie, and we'll see you next time.

- Bye.

- Bye.

VULNERABLE COMMUNICATION

- Welcome back to Poly Talks with Kat and Jamie. I'm here with Kat, and I'm Jamie, and today we're gonna be talking about vulnerable communication. So Kat, you're kind of an expert on this one. So I'd really like to hear when we talk about vulnerable communication, what do we mean by that?

- Well vulnerable communication really is about being able to express the deepest parts of yourself to someone else, whether it's your partners or a family member or even coworkers or friends. Vulnerable communication comes from those moments or those topics that feel really uncomfortable. And that you have these pieces about you that you know you need to talk about it but it creates a lot of fear and anxiety. And you know because you're bearing something, you're sharing something, you're expressing something that is deep within yourself or it has to do with the connection that you have with that person and how it might impact that.

- Yeah, absolutely. And I say this is also really important to have a healthy relationship, but it's also probably the number one thing that all of us avoid in relationships. Because we really just wanna talk about how everything is great and everything is going well and I'm just gonna ignore that and just pretend it's not there. And then things break down.

- They do, they do. They break down and then they explode. Which is you don't want either one of those. But part of it is also because as you've said, these are things that we're really not taught how to communicate at this level. In general society and conventional thinking, we're taught that we wanna keep the status quo, that we want to put our best foot forward, that we don't want to burden somebody with things that are happening within ourselves. But there's also this piece that we want to avoid sharing these deepest, darkest, sometimes. Sometimes they're things that we're ashamed of or things that we're fearful about. And a lot of the things that we harbor in ourselves around shame and guilt and judgment come from our upbringing, come from experiences that we had early on when we didn't have skills and tools and information of how to better communicate. And yet, we might find ourselves in our 20s, 30s, 40s, or even beyond, not gaining those skills. And so vulnerable communication is very scary and it's very uncomfortable because we don't have the tools or the information of how to do it successfully.

- So I wanna talk about some of the things that you might be doing right now that get in the way of communicating. Those things that people oftentimes do. One, glossing over things. Everything's fine, kinda got into that one earlier.

- Yeah. Just like I'm fine, you're fine, everything's fine, whatever.

- Yep.

- It's this zoop .

- Yep. Outright ignoring things.

- Yeah. Stonewalling, it's my way or the highway. Like this is just how it has to be, you're gonna do, that's just how it is, put up with it.

- Yeah.

- Which is not fair when you're trying to more negotiate and talk about things.

- Which I just wanna also say that that's different than, "I can't talk right now because."

- Yes.

- You know, there's a difference between just kind of saying, "This is the way it's gonna be "and I'm not gonna discuss it any further," versus, "This really isn't a good time. "I really want to discuss this with you, "but let's figure that out later."

- Yeah.

- So just to make that caveat.

- Yeah, there's also talking past each other, which is, "I wanna talk to you about this issue," and then you say, "But actually is has to do "with this other issue," and we end up never talking about the same thing because we're talking past each other and I'm not talking about what you're talking about, you're not talking about what I'm talking about.

- Right.

- And we also have in here been there, done that. We've already talked about this, it doesn't go anywhere so just forget it.

- Yep.

- Yeah.

- And I'm sure, I have certainly employed all of these in my lifetime at one point or another and in different situations, with the same person.

- Yeah.

- So there might be one that you tend to favor or a few that you tend to favor or that your partner or partners tend to favor as well. And if you both happen to ignore or you both happen to have kind of do the been there, done that, then you're just gonna accept, okay, great, we've been there, done that, not gonna discuss it. But it's still underneath it all and it will start to impact your relationship and your connection on a much deeper level than you're recognizing. So how do we make that shift? Because I mean, a lot of us will look at this and say, "Oh, my God, this seems overwhelming. "I don't even know where to start, "so I just don't even wanna do it. "I just don't even want to try, "because I don't know how to start."

- Yeah.

- So where do we start?

- This can also be one of the most toxic things, in my opinion, that can happen, in polyamory, which is you and I have a problem so I'm gonna ignore that problem and start a relationship with somebody else.

- Yeah. Which always ends badly because you're gonna carry that problem into the new relationship by avoiding it.

- That's right.

- So I will say, always digging into vulnerable communication, digging into the things that make you uncomfortable, are very uncomfortable. By nature.

- Yes. But it's important to actually move forward and show up as your best self in relationships, which is really the way that you maintain a healthy relationship and you can have goals and be with that person.

- Right.

- So how do you do it? I'd say the first important thing is to think about, to discuss a time and place to talk about it. I don't wanna be on my way to work.

- Yeah.

- Or tired, or angry. Or hungry or whatever. You know, I just got off the phone with my sister and she's having this emotional day and I'm still processing that.

- Yeah.

- So it's good not to be like, "Look, we're talking about this "and we're talking about this now." Say, "I have something I wanna talk about, "but I wanna make sure that we have time to do it. "When can we talk about this?"

- I think it's also important that you let your partner know what it is that you wanna talk about. Because sometimes people say, "Well I have something to discuss with you, "but I don't wanna do it now." Well that can just set off.

- Oh yeah, that'd drive me crazy.

- Yeah, we talked about triggers on the last video. That could be a huge trigger for your partner is oh my God, now they're gonna go off on a tangent. Are they breaking up with me? What did I do wrong? They start doing all kinds of spinout and so it's important to say, "This is what I need to talk to you about "and I'd really like to set aside some time "so that we have an opportunity to really talk about it "and not feel rushed and not feel "that we're running off to something else. "But I really wanna devote time to this "because it's really important to me "and you're important to me. "So let's make an appointment to talk about this topic." And if they start to get into it now, just be able to put up your boundaries. Be able to put up your boundary and say, "You know, this is so important to me, "I wanna set aside time for this. "So I appreciate that you want to do it now, "but let's set aside some time "maybe this evening or tomorrow." Don't put it too far off, but you don't have to do it right then.

- Yeah, I have definitely fallen into that trap of "I need to talk about this, and they go, "Well, let's about it right now." And I'm like, "Oh, I'm not ready for this." And this kind of gets wobbly.

- Right.

- But those discussion I've had where it was more of a time and place, I practice with one of my partners and plan to continue doing this is a monthly check-in where we just have a time and place to just talk about what's going on in our lives. And it's a good space to bring things up that are like, "This came up and it was weird. "I don't wanna fight about it, "but I also just need to explain why it was weird "or why it made me feel ignored," or what have you. So I really highly recommend that if you're in a long-term relationship, you make a time and place just to check in about your relationship.

- Yeah, I absolutely agree. That is a fabulous strategy to use. Which will then, eventually, this vulnerable communication becomes less uncomfortable and you actually start to look forward to it because you know it's going to be an opportunity for you and your partners to grow and learn and express yourself from that deepest part of you, which is what we want to bring into our relationships. We want to bring that deepest, most best self, into our relationships, and this is the way that we do that.

- Yeah, I definitely still get nervous and like nervous I'm gonna say the wrong things or whatever before going into those conversations.

- Sure.

- I will say that still happens, but it always ends on a really positive note and it reminds me that my person is on my team and here to support me. And just because something felt weird doesn't mean that they are not on my team, basically. It's we were having a moment of talking past each other and taking a moment to really break it down and be in communication and not just in, "Oh, I'm trying to get to school, "I'm trying to get to work," or whatever, has let us resolve things and keep the stress level low in our relationship.

- Nice.

- Yeah.

- Nice, and we touched on it on our last conversation is really about how to take responsibility.

- Yeah.

- And that we tend to judge ourselves and our partners or be critical of others, because we don't know quite how to bring something to them. And in the beginning, you might stumble, you might find that you're just you're not finding the words or the words that you say might trigger a response in them that you weren't expecting.

- Yeah.

- And so, again, just be very gentle as you're growing in these new ways of communicating, new ways in creating relationships. And that when you're taking responsibility for yourself, part of that is also recognizing that maybe you fell into an old communication pattern. You fell into one of those response modes of either talking past of ignoring or trying to brush everything under the rug because you were feeling uncomfortable and you were feeling vulnerable.

- Yeah.

- And when you recognize that, it's okay to call it out. Call it out with your partner and say, "You know what? "I just realized for the last 10 minutes, "I've really been ignoring "and I really haven't been listening. "And I really wanna hear what you have to say. "I just, I'm feeling really uncomfortable "and I'm feeling nervous and fearful. "So I just need to get that out there "so that we can continue to actually "have a productive conversation."

- And that's also not easy to say. "I feel nervous, I feel scared. "I'm afraid of what's gonna happen "at the end of this conversation."

- Yeah.

- Because you can't predict the future, you can't predict your person. You're putting a lot of trust into the fact that this is going in a good direction.

- Right.

- And I have to say, it's always been worth it.

- Yeah.

- When I get there with people.

- Oh, absolutely.

- And I think a big thing, again I wanna specifically highlight this, is never to come from a place of blame. "This is your fault, you did this."

- Yeah. And always pointing the finger, because that doesn't give a person opportunity to do a lot. Now if it's, "You did something that "made feel a certain way," I'm saying that's happening with me and that actually gives you an opportunity to explain why that happens.

- Right.

- Or to change the behavior or not. But blaming, it just never ends well because it just keeps raising the stakes and keeps getting things more and more heated. I really recommend people, if we're speaking your language, that you look up nonviolent communication protocols.

- Yes.

- Because that will help a lot if you have something big you wanna get into. Because we can escalate things or we can deescalate them and that has everything to do with the words we use with the people we're with. And then if you're getting heated yourself, like you mentioned, being able to take a break.

- Yeah.

- Just take a five-minute break or a 15-minute break and take a walk because it takes a minute for feelings to cool down once they've come up. Or for me, like just the spike of adrenaline I'll get if I'm thinking things are not going the right direction, and I need a minute to breathe and remember it's gonna be okay, this is temporary, we're gonna work our way through this.

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Right, and even if you find you end up in a fight or in a heated disagreement, that's not a bad thing.

- Oh no.

- Is that you're in that moment, that's where you are. And to not judge yourself for getting to that place. It's how you then manage that process and understand disagreements are going to happen. We are different human beings. We have different perspectives, different perceptions. We have different backgrounds, we have different experiences. And we bring all of that into our interpersonal communications. And we're not always going to agree, even with our partners, even with the people that maybe we've chosen them as a life partner and we're building a life together with them. We're not gonna agree 100% and that is okay. And so it's how we can have those discussions to say sometimes, and there's been a few times even with my husband where I've had to say, "I hear you, I totally understand what you're saying "and I disagree with that "and that's not something I can do." Or maybe it's not something I can do right now.

- Yeah.

- It's not where I am now. But it doesn't mean that at some point in the future, that couldn't change. And it's also leaving open that door for possibility.

- Yeah.

- And for opportunity in the future. It's okay to be wherever you are right now. And it's important to leave the door open for your own growth, for your own expansion and that of your relationship, as well.

- I think I'd like to take a minute also, to say how do we frame this into people who have multiple partners? Or if you have a power exchange dynamic going on. I would say for me, like I was talking about the time and place to talk about things. Because a lot of things in the power exchange dynamic, there is literally a power exchange in place. And it's really important that when you're talking about emotional issues and so on, or relationship problems or scheduling problems, whatever the problem is.

- Right.

- That you meet each other as people and not necessarily in your dynamic. That you remember this is about how much compassion I can have, how much I can care about this. And thinking, I like to think about my relationships and myself more as like a plant. You can water that plant and feed that plant and go over the top, and it'll die.

- Yep.

- Everyone of them has its own special needs. And also if you ignore it, it will die. So it's important to talk things through on a human-to-human level. What do you need for things to be working well? What is working, what's not working? And when it comes to the polyamorous dynamics, it's that meta communication.

- So when you're in a polyamorous or ethically and consensually non-monogamous configuration, meta or metamour is your partner's other partners. And there's a lot of times where having communication with your partner's other partner can be very comfortable and can be very invigorating and there's other times where it can be very vulnerable and very uncomfortable. And depending on the dynamic that you have with your metamour or your metas, we lovingly call them, it's also important to recognize how you frame those dynamics with your partner. Because is it an issue that you're having with your partner or is it an issue you're having with your meta? And having a conversation directly with your meta when it's about something that addresses them is really really important rather than trying to go through your partner into whatever that issue is. And sometimes those dynamics can be a little blurred because as polyamorous relationships go, each meta connection is very different. Each partner relationship is different. And part of the negotiation that takes place or needs to take place, is about the levels of communication that people want and need and desire to have with those other connectors. And when those are not explicitly discussed and negotiated, then people may have different expectations about the levels of communication, the levels of connection. And if those are not in harmony, then that can actually cause a lot of issues.

- Yeah. So like as a summary, it's that communicating about communicating so that you can communicate with the people correctly.

- Absolutely.

- Yeah, it's kinda a big concept, but it's like I have come to understand things about how I communicate and how my partners communicate and communicated what kind of information I need for sure.

- Right.

- And met with I'm good with that or not, then talk about it some more. Some more communicating about communicating. So there's layers to communication.

- There really are.

- Yeah.

- And a lot of what we're talking about is what I call formal communication.

- Yeah.

- There's informal communication where you're having that light banter and you're having this connection where you're free-flowing with kind of building upon the thoughts, the things that were happening. But when you're in formal communication and your partner is bringing something to you, let's say, and it's really important for you to be able to listen and to listen without creating your response while they're talking. There's pieces around active listening.

- Yeah.

- That are so important when you're having these vulnerable communication sessions so that the person really feels heard. They feel like they can really open up and not feel like you're interrupting or you're already pre-judging what they're saying or you're already trying to build a response when they haven't even finished what they're sharing. Which is the way we tend to have communication in informal communication.

- Yeah.

- Which is how we end up talking over other people.

- Yes.

- Or talking past other people. And so in having these conversations, to really be able to set aside your thoughts and your judgment, to really hear and listen to what your partner's saying, to be able to reflect back, "This is what I heard you say, is that correct?" Or, "This is what I got from what you said," and paraphrase something. And then be able to let them say, "Yes, that's what I meant," or, "That's what I said. "You really got it." Or, "No, that's not what I was trying to say at all." And that gives them the opportunity to clarify.

- Yeah. I am particular also, like the question of, "Is that everything that you wanted to say on that? "Do you feel complete?" Or if what you're saying is reminding you of something, "Is this connected to this?" And just waiting. It's that ask and then wait for their reply.

- Yeah.

- And make sure that you're really fully digested what that person says. And yeah, reflecting back is also a great way to do that.

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Oh those are beautiful. I like those.

- Yeah.

- Cool.

- Yeah.

- Nice. And also in polyamorous relationships, there are a lot of people who have long-distance relationships. So they have partners that could be anywhere from 50 miles to 5000 miles away from them on a regular basis and there may be times where having vulnerable communication needs to happen in other ways that aren't physically together face to face. And so it's deciding how you want to have that, either on a video chat where you are having an engagement back and forth where you can see each other. Or sometimes what I've done, I've also processed strictly through email where I can write out everything that I wanna say. My partner can read it, digest it, have time to think about it, time to formulate their response, time to ask the questions, the clarifying questions, and we can process that way. Or what I love now is there's video messaging. So you're creating a video so your partner can see you, can see your physical reactions and responses, but it's not an actual conversation. And then they have the opportunity again to hear it, listen, ask those clarifying questions, and then provide their response to you. So there's different ways that we can actually communicate that don't necessarily have to be face to face.

- Yeah. I feel like also when it comes to not just vulnerable communication, but being a good communicator in general, it's something that takes practice.

- Yes.

- It's something you get wrong and then you learn something. And then you get it wrong and you learn something. But every time that you're getting something wrong, you learn something from it. It's another one of those things we've repeated this over and over again, don't beat yourself up when it goes wrong.

- That's right.

- Look at what you learned from it, whether that was, like I talked about earlier, I've had people be like, "Well, I need a time and a place." And they go, "Well, they wanna talk about it now." Well, I've really learned that it's really important to say, "No, I really meant it. "Like I'm not made at you, nothing bad's gonna happen, "but I need to make sure that we're actually "ready to have this conversation."

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- So it takes time.

- Yes.

- And it takes practice and it takes intention for sure.

- Absolutely.

- Yeah.

- And I work with women on building their communication.

- Yeah.

- And in fact, I've actually created what I call The Poly Communication Master Script, which is a five-step process which goes in depth into a lot of kind of what we talked about today and really hones in on those steps of how to script out how to create that framework so that you can have exceptional vulnerable communication so that you have this opportunity with your partner or your partners or your whatever your dynamics are, so that you can thrive in your communication. And yes, it takes practice.

- Yeah.

- Absolutely. It's, I think, a practice that is kind of lifelong because when you have new partners, you're learning their communication style, you're learning where they are in their communication journey and you're having to fine-tune and adjust yourself to be able to meet your partners where they are. Because as you've established a relationship and you grow in this with, say one partner, your new partners come from a different place.

- Yeah.

- So you're constantly learning, constantly readjusting, constantly expanding yourself. And then being able to help your new partners along to help them know what your communication style and expectations are.

- Yeah, that's a lot of what I get into. In particular, helping people when they're looking for where their own consent and boundaries lines are when people are kind used to just letting things slide.

- Yeah.

- And then how that translates into their relationships. And then I also run an event for poly speed dating, for those who are polyamorous to come and do speed dating.

- Nice. And part of what I do with that is I put cards on the table to encourage that kind of vulnerable communication so that we get beyond the surface-level things and talk about like who are you, really, underneath it all?

- So this is something that I focus on in practice and get wrong and practice some more. So yeah, I really love working with people on that.

- As well as I do, too. And I do also provide workshops.

- Yeah.

- For women, both online and in person.

- That's right.

- So excellent.

- So we've talked a lot about how things are really difficult and you have to work really hard and that's why our next episode is on compursion, which is more of like what we're aiming for in all of this.

- Yeah.

- Is that all the good stuff that comes with being polyamorous. So that's where we'll see you next time.

- Thanks for joining us on Poly Talk with Kat and Jamie.

TRIGGERS + RESPONSES

- Welcome back to Poly Talks with Kat and Jamie. Today, we're gonna be talking about triggers and responses. And what does that mean Jamie?

- Well, I think mostly what we're talking about here is, you have trauma that comes to you in your life, and I love that we're talking about this, because I do just a lot of personal research around trauma. The thing is that we all have things that happen to us, usually before the age of 10, that can cause a response to a situation now, that maybe doesn't make a lot of sense. But it used to be a survival pattern, something you had to do to like break through, or you know, survive in other situations. Maybe a toxic relationship and that would include a friendship, or a romantic relationship, or a relationship with a sibling or parent.

- So what do we do, when people trigger us?

- That's what we're really getting into.

- Excellent, well, and you know, as we are both I think in long term established relationships, that we find sometimes we don't think about, getting triggered or having certain responses, when we're in that kind of a relationship. And yet, it happens all the time. So, that's kind of what we're talking about today is how we manage these things and how they manifest even in those, what we call really solid, connected relationships.

- Yeah, and on that note, I just wanna say, if you are with a new person and you've been dating less than six months, and you find that they are constantly triggering you, that's probably a bad sign. That person might be gas lighting you or going on some other path, so it's better to check in with people that you know, maybe get out of that relationship because relationships are meant to be a healthy place, where there can be growth, and you can feel safe to say, hi, I got really upset about something, I felt really triggered by it, it wasn't you, it was this thing from the past. You need a safe place to do that. So if, I basically just want people to be aware that you want to be careful about who you do this work with.

- Absolutely great, thank you for that. So, do you ever find yourself acting out around your partner and you're not quite sure why? Maybe you wanna make your partner happy, so you just wanna keep the peace and move on.

- Yeah, just let go of things, just keep the peace, just avoid it.

- Yeah

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- I also, people will get like really indecisive and you also see people actually freeze up, when they do that. I'm kind of like, Oh, I don't know, something is happening. It's out of my control, so I'll just let it happen. That's another one people do, yeah.

- Or maybe you just kind of throw your hands up and walk away and say, you know, I need some space. Just get me out of here.

- Yeah, that's kind of that flight response.

- Yeah, which is sometimes healthy, but we'll talk about that.

- It can be, yeah.

- Or just getting really hostile with people and making lots of demands and all that. And I think when we talk about these, we talk about fight or flight. When we talk about trigger responses, people have two things, like something bad happens, your adrenaline goes up and you're ready to fight or you're ready to run. But we don't talk about another two responses that tend to happen. And one of those is to freeze.

- Yup.

- So we are talking about, for me, freezing often times feels like, I just can't make a decision, or the please response where the fuck response, which is just, I'm just gonna give you what you want until the situation is over. I'm just gonna just give you whatever.

- Yeah.

- And I don't wanna say that any of those are really good or bad. What we wanna talk about today is recognizing them so that you can deal with them because these are normal responses that humans have.

- They are, and you may have different responses to similar situations. One time you might want to just run away, another time you might be ready to just aggressively attack it. So, you know, these just kind of come up and those are things that happen and it's how do we recognize them and then begin to manage them? And that's what we're gonna get into a little bit next.

- Yeah.

- So a little bit about some of my triggers and responses. I've had a situation recently where I was having, a connection with a new person in connection with my husband. And there was something that triggered me that I didn't even recognize. And yet I started having all these feelings and emotions. And I recognized it's not something that they're doing or something that they're, that my partner or even this other person is doing. I get this as me, but I'm not quite sure how to deal with it. And for me, it was pulling back and then all of a sudden, I started getting the body responses, I started getting sick to my stomach, I started feeling anxious, I started getting really tight. I started feeling very, impatient about things, and I was trying to manage all of these things and it just kept growing, and growing and growing. And then it kind of came out and was like, you know what? We just got to go. Just, I gotta go, I can't be here anymore. And then it turned into this kinda ugly mess for a little while, but we, at least I was in a relationship where I could work through it and I could talk about it, and I could learn and grow from it. And recognize it really was stuff that I was dealing with and it wasn't about my partner, and it wasn't about this other person. It was really about me and something that happened within me. And now having had that experience, I'm learning how to manage when those feelings come up to have a different response. And that was a really big learning experience for me not too long ago.

- Yeah. And I want to highlight something that you talked about too, which was identifying where your responsibility was on this. Because, I feel like a lot of times when people are triggered these days, we have this expectation, you triggered me, you change because you shouldn't do that to me. As opposed to what we're talking about is taking personal responsibility to say, this is where my emotional reaction is. Am I okay with that? What is it that this person did to make that reaction happen? And, how do I manage it for me?

- Right.

- Which is far more empowering than expecting the world to change for you or your partner to completely change for you. Now finding understanding, and I'm sure it was a big part of that though.

- It really was.

- Yeah.

- It really was.

- So, yeah, and it's unexpected when it happens.

- It is.

- It really is.

- Was not, I was totally okay with it, for a period of time and then all of a sudden there was a one little thing that just made it shift, and I really didn't expect that. And it caused some turmoil. Yeah.

- But I think that's also part of that learning experience is being able to recognize when you're having that kind of trigger response and saying, what, I have an opportunity here.

- Yeah.

- But that can be really difficult in the moment. It really can, unless you've continued to do this, word, but in the very beginning, sometimes it's really not until after the fact that you're able to go back and really look at what the situation was, what the trigger was that caused or that evoked that kind of emotion or response from you, and then be able to do the internal work to say, that's something I need to take a look at. How do I shift that? Because if I don't, it's gonna happen again.

- Yeah.

- And it will, it will.

- Yeah, that's so great when people like Walters, get out of this relationship. You're going to carry those problems into a new relationship. if you're not working with people. I grew up in a household where avoiding problems was rewarded. Thoughts of passive aggressive behavior, like being, just going to somebody and saying, Hey, that thing you did was not acceptable. And it made me really upset. Like that was not how it worked in my house. It was more like, you know, I ruined your favorite sweater, and that's not good. That's not good.

- Yeah.

- So, I, the way that manifests for me these days, especially in romantic relationships is when I start noticing a problem, I won't talk about it and I'll avoid it, and I'll start feeling like bitter towards my partner. So when they do something that makes me go, that was the final straw, I find I tend to avoid them. And that's when also these trauma responses will happen. I'd say, freezing and pleasing are my number two I tend to do. And that's not, I don't get mad at myself.\ when those things happen, I instead go, how'd I get here? What happened that got me here? And I start realizing it's, I've been ignoring and not talking about problems. And, now my partner is the one who has to deal with the fact that I'm just being really moody and ignoring them. And, like the most recent time this happened, I was like being on my phone and not communicating at all. So, it was good to be in a space with a partner where they could say, Hey, you're you're being really moody, what's going on? I could be like, well, I didn't feel heard, I didn't feel like this and this was happening. And my partner gave me the opportunity to then talk it through and realize that maybe they hadn't shown up in the right way for me and not have it blow up because for a minute they were really like costal and I was like, you know, I can do something about the , it was really over nothing. It was, I'd had a crappy day. They had a lot of pressure on them and neither of us had really expressed that to each other. We were just like, we're gonna have fun and not talk about the stress of life. And that's where we were at that day.

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- And really everything that we've been talking about in this entire series is coming down to communication and how we not only have communication with our partners, but how we have communication with ourselves.

- Yes, absolutely.

- And a lot of the work around triggers has to do with how we communicate with ourselves and how we look at those things that happened in our childhood. Like you said, these are a lot of the responses tend to come from experiences that we've had when we were young that we didn't know how to process through. We didn't know were impacting us, and yet we carry them into our adulthood.

- And for the most part, we're not taught how to communicate these types of things. And so as we get triggered, we tend to have one of these typical responses, the fight, flight, freeze or fuck. And we just kind of go, well that's the way it is. I'm just gonna have these responses. But then never really questioning why? And what can I do about it? Because having these responses doesn't feel good.

- No.

- And so how can we create something within ourselves, that is different? So we have a different response, which then brings us to a different level in our relationships with ourselves and with our partners.

- And on that topic, talking about being like gentle with yourself, I hear a lot of people who will say things like, they're constantly apologizing for the feelings that they have, where they wanna say that this is a bad feeling. Like, I feel sad. I feel stressed out. Therefore it's bad and I shouldn't feel that way.

- Right.

- It's really not how feelings work. Feelings are really, in my opinion, it's a way that your subconscious brain, your brain, let's not, your brain that's aware of everything but not interacting and doing all the things that you're doing right now. Emotions are a big way that you get information that maybe you weren't paying attention to. So when you're feeling stuck, when you're feeling like something's going wrong, like you're ignored or you're feeling lonely or tired or what have you, that's a good moment to pause, take a break and start focusing on that and asking yourself why it's there and not saying I'm sad and I shouldn't be sad right now. I mean like, this doesn't make sense. Or one for me is I feel lonely, but I have like, I have friends, I have multiple relationships. Why would I ever feel lonely? I just shouldn't feel that.

- No, it's valid. And by ignoring it and pretending it's not there, you're not doing yourself any favors or on top of it. If you're very cruel to yourself. And I'm talking about people who are like, I'm a bad person because I feel this way or something's wrong with me, or I shouldn't feel that way. You're not doing yourself any favors. So you really want to be gentle with yourself as you work through these things first. And then how does your partner fit with all this?

- Right.

- Yeah.

- And that's where the work comes in. That's where that internal work and then that external work of connecting with your partners and having those types of conversations. And there's different ways that people process and some techniques that we can evoke so that as we're working through this, we can be very gentle with ourselves and we actually can get results.

- Yeah. And I know for me, I did a lot of work with going to groups and doing work around trauma to try and work on me just for my own sake, and doing my work on me. I could take that into my relationships. So I was, dealing with things on my terms and not constantly bringing it into the relationship.

- That's excellent. For me, I'm very fortunate I'm in a relationship where I have a partner who is also a mentor for me. And so that, he's able to help guide me in things that either are happening within our own relationship or in other relationships that I have, whether they're romantic relationships or family relationships, friend relationships, that he's there to help me process through those things. And then also employing some of my own personal techniques of doing meditation, of journaling, of doing that internal work. I've really just, sometimes I'll call it soul searching and it's just taking time for me to really contemplate and think about what I want out of this interaction. So this thing happened, okay, I'm not gonna beat myself up for it. What was my responsibility? What was my piece in this? Because almost all of it is me, you know, even though someone else may have done something that triggered it within me, I still have to really look at that and say, but it wasn't their fault. It wasn't that they did something wrong. It was how it impacted me and why did it impact me that way. Oh, I can look back in my past. I can follow the threads and then rewrite the script.

- Yeah, that's right. I liked that a lot.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, excellent. So, and if you're going through something, it's really important to have someone, like both of us havE had different avenues of having other people there to support us through these processes. So whether it's a coach or a therapist, even a trusted friend or a peer mentor, to really have someone there who can help guide you or at least be a sounding board as you're processing can be really helpful.

- Yeah, I think we got into a lot of that, in our second episode, we talked about broad based intimacy about getting into relationships on purpose because then you know, going into it is this relationship giving me what I need to fill my own bucket? Because relations, like you need to take care of yourself. That's a lot of what we're getting into with this. But also is the relationship fulfilling what it's supposed to be fulfilling? Just like if, you know, if you work at a job you expect to get paid. If they don't pay you, there's a problem.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, and in your relationship if you have other expectations, things that you want, things that you need and things that you need to contribute to it. And this is part of it, which is why we're also gonna be talking about in length vulnerable communication, which is basically once I'm triggered, how do I even talk about it? 'Cause I know for me it is really hard for me to talk those things through because I want people to be happy. I want everyone to like me and I definitely want my partner to like me. So to say something like, I just feel like you're talking over me and I feel like ignored, my voice gets really little and it's really hard to say.

- Yeah.

- But that opens the door that my partner can go, Oh, I didn't realize I was doing that. Things are going on with me too. Or no, I'm not willing to go down that path for you and maybe I don't wanna be with a partner like that.

- Right, right.

- Yeah.

- And having that ability to be able to express that comes from doing that internal work first.

- Yeah.

- And even though it might feel uncomfortable or even if your voice does get small, you're still taking that step to put it out there.

- Yeah.

- That if you haven't done the internal work, that can be even scarier because you're not quite sure what you're even asking for or how to express to your partner what it is that you need in processing through whatever it is that you need to discuss. And so doing that internal work, having that other person to be that sounding board or that guidance can really help you before you step into the next layer, which is what we'll talk about in our next episode, which is vulnerable communication. And so, one of the things that I loved, you mentioned the other day when we were chatting is that, if something is mentionable, then it's manageable. And I just loved that phrase. And so many times we get scared and there's a fear of voicing something because if I voice it, then it's out there. And that means I have to look at it and I have to deal with it. But that's actually a really good thing is that if you voice it now, you can talk about it and it doesn't fester inside. It doesn't build up inside. And it doesn't get to a place where if you're not addressing your triggers, they will manifest in some pretty ugly ways that you don't want. And so the more that we can talk about it, the more we can put it out there, whether it's with friends, whether it's even in an online community, if you're having a group of people online that you can share something with and get some feedback on, whether it's a group of friends or a coach or a mentor and those are all really important avenues for you to tap into.

- Yeah, absolutely. You're making me think too of, like you just said, expressing an unpopular opinion just to tie it all together. In my household expressing to somebody you did something wrong and I didn't like it, somebody might emotionally explode at you. So for me not expressing my opinion and just tolerating bad behavior and not expressing when somebody had overstepped with me, that was a way to survive on my house. And that was a good behavior at the time because it was a survival mechanism.

- Right.

- Me coming to my partner now, I'm so scared, I'm gonna get that emotional blow up and that rejection and whatever else comes with it. So when I was able to express that and have it received as, Oh, let's walk through this, let's actually work together on this. That creates healing, that creates connection. And, it wasn't easy and it took time to get over it. But what I'll say is, as you do this work, you're gonna continue having triggers. There's always gonna be things to work on because relationships people change, and situations change, jobs change, whatever, even if you're not in an open relationship, their work. And, as you work on yourself and your relationship, the highs get higher and lows get higher.

- This is so true.

- Yeah.

- Very true, that's such a great point.

- So it's pretty worth it.

- Excellent. And if you're looking for someone to process with, and to have that sounding boards, to have maybe some guidance or some support. Both Jamie and I do coaching, and as for me, I support polyamorous and ethically and consensually non-monogamous women in my programs. And what do you do?

- I tend to work with couples, and single guys who are working through their own stuff in dating. And I specialize not just in polyamorous dynamics, but also power exchange dynamics, people who come from really anything under the umbrella of sex positive. So that's what I just love working with people on.

- Excellent, wonderful. So in our next video, we're going to be discussing vulnerable communications and how to reconnect and rejuvenate your relationship. So join us next time on Poly Talk with Kat and Jamie.
 

MODERN DATING

- So welcome to Episode Three of Poly Talks with Jamie and Kat, I'm Jamie.

- And I'm Kat.

- Today's episode is all about modern dating. That is to say, how do you find people to date these days, 'cause everything changes all the time? I think one of the number one ways that people tend to go out looking right now is that they get some kind of app on their phone that lets you swipe through, you create some kinda profile, maybe put some preferences in, and boom, you're gonna find your soulmate, right?

- That's what we all thought, right, when we jumped on OkCupid or on Tinder or one of the other myriad of apps that are out there?

- Yeah, and if you're anything like me, you may have discovered that this is a terrible way to meet people. Especially if you're wanting to make a long-term connection. Had an easy time finding hookups, like if it's something where I'm just trying to do something kinda transactional with another person. But the question that comes back to me is about, but how do I find a long-term partner? How do I find a soulmate? How do I find that? And that is to say, if you're looking for somebody who actually fits your ethics, who fits your lifestyle, who shares a purpose with you and a vision, you want the same things in life. How do I get from here to there? And that's what we wanna talk about now.

- Excellent.

- Yeah.

- Well, I think the first part of that is you have to know all that.

- Absolutely.

- You have to have, you have to know what your purpose is, where you wanna go in life, what kind of person and ethics do you have, and how do you envision sharing your life with someone or multiple someones. Having that vision and even taking the time to script it and write it out is really, really helpful. Creating your own personal life plan of where you wanna go, what you wanna do in all aspects, your health, your business, your recreation, your love, sex, and relationships, how you feel your family of origin might fit into that, how your friends fit into that. Most people are not that intentional in how they design their life.

- Yeah, I would say this comes to the idea of scarcity and abundance in a lot of ways. In that, the idea here is if you're somebody who's coming from an abundance mindset as in, I have the money and the time, you make much better decisions because you're not in that survival mindset. But when there's a scarcity of, I'm hungry, I'm tired, I don't know how I'm gonna make tomorrow happen 'cause there's too much on my plate, I'm too stressed out, you tend to make really crappy decisions from there. So what if you had an abundance mindset towards your sexuality, your intimacy needs and what you have to bring to the table in a relationship, and that's the shift I think that needs to happen if you're looking for a long-term relationship that actually suits your needs. So how do you figure out what your values are? I guess is the big question, which of course, it's not all about dating, but it's one of the most important building blocks to being in a good relationship long term.

- It is.

- Yeah.

- And I think some of that actually comes through dating, dating people and trying them on and having multiple people come through your life and experience them, what worked, what doesn't. Action leads to clarity. And so, you can create what you want in your own little bubble, but then you gotta take it out and kinda take it for a test drive and try it on with several different people, see how that works. And sometimes there's a few of us who will get really lucky and that person tends to show up when you're least expecting it.

- Yeah, now, something we talked about earlier, before the cameras were rolling was the fact that you and I both found soulmate level connections with people when we were not looking for people. I found my current partner, because I was doing work with sex-positive. I was at a local LGBT center because LGBT issues are important to me, and intimacy and community and touch are important to me. Things I did not know until I started looking for other people, and it's sort of just happened naturally that that's where I was going, and that's how I met my current person who's in my life. It was not through a dating app. It wasn't through the search. It wasn't through the hunt.

- Right, but you also did that because you were putting yourself into a community.

- Right.

- And you were connecting with community for the sake of community, and that's also where I ended up finding my beautiful soulmate, my husband, was through the polyamorous community. And I was the same thing. I actually was in a triad relationship, and I was not looking necessarily for another long-term relationship. But when we met, and we had this amazing connection, we both just knew, we knew from the moment we kissed that life had changed. We couldn't have told you how or why in the moment, but five and a half years later, here we are, and we're creating a life that is beyond anything that we could have dreamed of when we first met, and that's because we had a lot of those values and a lot of those ethics and a lot of those life purposes in line and in tune with each other, and that partially came from participating in community.

- Yeah. And I also don't wanna say that there's anything wrong with being in a state of scarcity or having a touch or intimacy need. I think it's really important just to be able to identify what it is you're looking for, because I was definitely open to finding that partner. But it wasn't necessarily a goal 'cause I had other things going on. But I was still on dating apps at the time, and finding it would fill other needs for me. So I just wanna make sure really clearly that whatever your purpose is, really determines where you go to go looking because you wanna be in proximity to people who are actually gonna fit what your goal is.

- That's right.

- Yeah.

- And those dating apps like we said before can be really great for something in the short term, something maybe more immediate and something whether we call it a hookup or we call it a one night stand or whatever we wanna call it, or something that's more short term where maybe you make a connection with someone, and maybe it lasts for a couple of months. But to understand if that's your goal, if that's where you are, and you're in that process of dating and really trying on different people and experimenting to see, am I compatible with this person in all these various ways, the only way you're gonna know is by actually connecting with that person. And even though I had this amazing connection with my partner right at the very beginning, we took a whole year to really get to know each other and make that determination that this is someone that I do wanna spend the rest of my life with, or that I want to spend a long-term portion of my existence with. And we set that out at the beginning, and we said we're gonna date for a year. And then, at that year mark we'll really be able to know does this work or not, and that's where we can then make a more formal commitment to each other.

- Taking things slow.

- Taking things slow, and especially if you're looking for a long-term relationship or you're looking for someone that you're wanting to share as a life partner, or a long-term partner to really understand, if you're in it for the long haul, take your time.

- Yeah.

- Take your time.

- I think that's really important to know also when it comes to dating, especially when you start adding other things about yourself like if you're polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous, or if you're into BDSM, or swinging or some other alternative lifestyle, it gets really tempting to lead conversations with that fact about yourself, and be like, oh, and by the way, I expect to date other people, oh, and by the way, I'm really into bondage.

- And... That's really great if you're looking for someone to play with, but not necessarily with somebody who you wanna have kids with or share a house with or what have you. So it's about being in proximity with people and not letting these things about you define your entire life. And I'd say too if somebody is leading a conversation with that, for one, it's great to get those things out on the table, because you don't want the heartbreak that comes when somebody goes, oh, I can't handle that. But at the same time, you really wanna actually meet people for who they are and understand what their ethics are and where they're at. So yeah, I just wanted to caution about looking for people based on what your palate is for play, rather than what your palate is for what you want your lifestyle to be. And the other great thing about polyamory is it makes space for the relationship to be whatever it is. Including if you realize someone doesn't fit as a romantic partner, it's helped me to not feel bad about it or to be like, ugh, I wasted my time dating this person, where instead it allows me to appreciate the relationships that I have, usually to see them with new eyes, and identify things I don't want. And I'm not gonna do that again. And there's been a lot of people where I was like, tried that, not for me. Yeah.

- Yeah, absolutely. And that really goes back to that place of knowing who you are and what you want, but then also being flexible enough to try on different people and see how they flow with you, how they fit with you. And sometimes we make, what I'll call allowances for those individuals that come in that maybe meet a portion of what we're looking for, and that's partially why I'm poly, and I'm ethically and consensually non-monogamous is because I don't expect one person to meet all my needs, and I don't feel that that's healthy in a relationship, that one person has to meet all of my needs in every aspect. And so, I have the freedom and my partner has the freedom for us to enjoy each other to the benefits that we provide each other, but we also get to be individuals, and go out and explore other people, enjoy other people, make connections with other people that work for us.

- Yeah. I think it's important also, just talking about where we're going with this is I tend to ask myself certain questions when I'm getting into a relationship or considering somebody. Those questions are, what do I need? What do I want? 'Cause those are different.

- Yes.

- And then what do I have to give? I find a lot of people on dating apps who are oddly enough, open to or looking for a long-term relationship, don't really know what they're bringing to the table or what their needs are. The thing about emotions is they tend to feel like they're gonna last forever. You're just like, I'm just lonely and I just wanna meet somebody, and I just if I had that relationship, then I'd be happy. And the thing is, that's not true for one.

- No.

- A lot of people jump on these dating apps really can't answer those questions. And I'd say that's a great place to start in terms of being able to figure out where you're going with this, because you should also, you may have to grapple with some guilt, and that maybe you're just out of a long-term relationship, and you're not looking for another long-term relationship, but that's what you're supposed to do like we talked about in Episode One. And instead it's about, well, maybe that's not what I need or want right now.

- Right.

- Yeah.

- And being honest and authentic with yourself, and knowing this is okay, and it's okay that I want hookups right now, and that's what I need and that's what I want and that's what I'm going for. And then, as you go through that process, you're gonna grow, you're gonna learn, you're gonna connect with different people who will help you sort through where you wanna go next.

- Yeah, absolutely. I'd say too, as you look at your relationships, and there's a lot of things that we go with that are like scripts that you've been given your whole life, we talked about this in depth in our episode. And that is, you're probably gonna bring old ideas into new relationships, and that's very normal. Be gentle with yourself as and when that happens. So basically, as you're creating a new life, you're creating a new way to do relationships, make space to get it wrong, talk to your partner, make sure that you can have the communication about it.

- Right, and that in and of itself can be very uncomfortable.

- Oh, yeah.

- Because this is not something we're trained how to do, we are not taught how to really express our most deepest, darkest intimate sexual fantasies, ideas, sometimes even just our life experiences and our life expectations that we don't know how to communicate these things with other people who we want to connect with. And then, especially if things aren't going the way you want them to or you expected them to, then how do I bring that to this person? Because the expectation of society is, well, you've invested enough time in this relationship, and now you just gotta see it through. So for good, bad or indifferent, you just gotta stick it out, and that's where most people start to clam up and they just ignore problems, and they shut down when issues come up, they don't deal with them, and then, the relationship becomes unfulfilling and unhealthy.

- Yeah or that's where you see like cheating behavior come into it. And the thing is that if you are somebody who's inclined towards cheating, you're not doing anybody any favors by just sticking in that relationship, it's gonna cause pain. So it's better to be open and honest with people about where you're at. And there's nothing wrong with tude of not understanding. A lot of times we feel something and the thing is feelings don't really have words. So it's okay to just be I'm confused, I don't feel good, I feel lonely, I feel like. It's not really about what you're doing to me, but more about the feelings that come up, and being able to just let feelings be feelings. Yeah.

- Excellent. And I also feel like in modern dating, that we still have that expectation that every date is gonna lead to that committed relationship. And so, when we can take that piece out of the equation, we can really enjoy dating just for the fun of dating. And I think sometimes as we're moving into new realms of relationships, new realms of opportunities of how we create connections with people, I think we can actually have a lot of fun with modern dating.

- You're highlighting something that's really important for me also is basically, if a person isn't fun to be with, I don't wanna keep being around them, not as a friend, I don't wanna do business with them. I don't want to be in an intimate relationship. So I'd say, no matter what your goal is you wanna make sure you're having fun. So if what we're saying is making sense and you're asking some of these, how do I get over old patterns? How do I define what I want in a relationships, a great thing to do would be to go back to our last two episodes where we talk about those things more in depth, even if you've already seen them after hearing this, you may be watching them with new eyes, and we're gonna be back with more.

- We are, and our next, oh, can I say these words on here?

- Yeah.

- Our next episode will be on fight, flight, fuck or freeze. And I'm Kat, and I'm with Professional Polyamorous Sisterhood.

- And I'm Jamie with Giving Consent. And if you wanna go deeper on this, both of us are open and really wanna hear from you.

- Yeah, we'll see you on the next episode.

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