Tag Archives: communication

A selection of Venetian carnival masks

Abuse in (poly) relationships: A link roundup

[Photo above is of Venetian masks — what sort of masks might we be wearing in relationship? Is it possible to safely unmask abusers in our communities?]

Sometimes in polyamory (and other forms of “ethical non-monogamy”), there are things we need to talk about that aren’t much fun. Over the past few months, there’s been a conversation going on about one such topic, that of abuse and predators within the poly community. It’s a challenging conversation in part because people have a desire to separate themselves from it (e.g., “oh that’s not [polyamory/ethical non-monogamy/whatever]; that’s just [cheating/abuse/creepy behavior]”.) All sorts of relationships can be done healthily, or unhealthily. There are abusive monogamous relationships, as well as healthy ones, and there are abusive polyamorous relationships, as well as healthy ones. No relationship style has a lock on either “healthy” or “unhealthy.”

However, in trying to distinguish that not all polyamorous relationships are abusive — which is a normal and natural desire! — we can sometimes, unwittingly, create a situation in which people who are doing these “bad behaviors” can hide out, flourish, and have a perfect place in which to prey on their victims.  There are things about polyamory that make it sometimes more likely that abuse can happen, and there are other ways in which polyamory can complicate an already existing situation.  So how do we talk about this sort of thing, and what sort of response should the community have, when such situations arise?

This is the topic of an upcoming discussion in our local East Bay Poly Potluck community, As background for this discussion, I’m providing some links to discussions that have been ongoing all around the US on this topic in the past few months. There’s a lot I could say about a lot of them, but I’m mostly just presenting them as a list of links.  In a couple of cases there’s a tiny bit of commentary, drawn from the Poly Leadership Network list, where several lively discussions have been ongoing.  Mostly, though, I’m just presenting the links for you to read, digest, and make up your own mind about.

Please be gentle with yourself as you read these. Some accounts can be triggery. Please be mindful of the trigger warnings on some pages, if that applies to you. Take time, take breaks, go for walks; whatever you need to do to keep yourself grounded and safe.  It’s important reading, but equally important that you remain internally safe, as well as externally.

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Got Jealousy? Join Me at Conferences & Workshops!

Happy Valentine’s Day (almost)!  I’ll be presenting 4 times in the SF Bay Area this coming week. Perhaps you can join me at one or more events? It’s not too late!  List up front; longer descriptions below:

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Safety and Consent at the Poly Pool Party (Pt. 2)

Boundaries and Consent

My apologies, friends, for not getting back to this much sooner. “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” of course. (wry smile) But it has recently been impressed upon me again that I need to finish this discussion. Given that we just had our last Poly Pool Party of the season, this may feel a little like closing the barn door after the horse is out. Nevertheless, I’m going to proceed under the sincere intention that this just-past party was NOT the last such party ever, and to address these issues for any future events at my home – or any similar events elsewhere.

So… the last time I wrote about this topic, I talked about the aspects of physical safety, around pools in general, and at the San Leandro Poly Pool Party in particular. (It would be great if you could go read that.) This time, I’d like to talk about boundaries and consent.

poolrulesThe PPP FAQ Contains Important Party Rules

As you know if you’ve ever signed up to attend one of our Poly Pool Parties, we have a FAQ, and we ask you to read it before attending. Mostly, this has worked, and people who’ve attended our parties have felt welcome, comfortable, and have chosen to return. Occasionally, however, there have been issues. It appears to me that many of these issues stem from either not reading or not understanding the FAQ and the guidelines set out therein. I’d like to invite you to read the FAQ again, and I’ll explain a few things in greater detail, and then to cover some other information not directly covered in our FAQ.

SLPP.FB.BannerSocial Intent of the PPP

First, I’d like to clarify the intent of this particular party. The Poly Pool Party is a SOCIAL EVENT which happens to be clothing optional. It is NOT a “sexy party.” Sex doesn’t happen at this party. It is not the expectation that people will “hook up” at the party, or after it (though what you do on your own time is your own business.)

Trust me when I say that this is not because we are anti-sex in any way. 🙂  We love sex. We even love sex at parties. We just don’t allow sex at THIS party. Continue reading

Trust Fall Exercise -- Man falling backward into waiting arms of many people

Gratitude, Control, and Acceptance in Poly Community

Polyamory and Control

In polyamory (and open relationships), we’re often admonished for being “out of control,” or told that we should feel ashamed of who and what we are.  “Control” often shows up in polyamorous relationships in various other ways, too. For instance, people sometimes try to control their partner/s — or even more commonly, their partner’s partner/s) through inflexible rules. [Note: these are in contrast to Agreements, which require cooperation; read more here].  Poly people also often try to control their own feelings of jealousy or insecurity by suppressing or repressing them.  As Rocky the Squirrel says, “that trick never works!”

Fortunately, there are actually ways to moderate, work through, and get through such difficult situations and feelings. Thanks go to Veronica Monet for this clear, step by step guide to Getting What You Want by Giving Up Control:

How to Get What You Want by Giving Up Control of Self and Other

1) Breathe and Connect to Your Feelings
2) Feel Empathy and Compassion for Yourself
3) Replace Negative Thoughts with Hopeful Scenarios
4) Extend Empathy to Others
5) Let Go of Control and Practice Acceptance

Simple, powerful steps, with powerful results. (The rest of the article is great, too, and I recommend it.)

Letting Go of Shame to Find AcceptanceBy gnuckx [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I myself am receiving powerful messages right now to “let go” in my life. It’s not been something I’ve been traditionally good at. This is part of why I’m reaching out more for help of all sorts.  I need some “hopeful scenarios” to replace the negative thoughts, you know?

In that article, Veronica also quotes Brené Brown, well known expert on shame and vulnerability:

“You cannot shame or belittle people into changing. This means we can’t use self-hate to lose weight, we can’t shame ourselves into becoming better parents and we can’t belittle ourselves or our families into becoming who we need them to be. . . Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” [Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, page 197]

This speaks directly to what I was talking about a couple of weeks back (in Facebook) when I said I disagreed with the notion that we can hate ourselves into health. It’s also relevant to other situations in my life which are requiring letting go. It is HARD to ask for and accept help, especially when one has always been accustomed to being the one to offer it.  It’s especially hard for men in our culture. But it can be hard for women (or people of any gender) as well, in part because it requires letting go of the popular USAian idea that we can be “rugged individuals” and should be able to do everything on our own. It also requires letting go of the shame, and the internal messages that to ask for help is to have failed, or that we’re unworthy, or will never be good enough. It also requires us to give up control over what other people think of us, and the fear that they’ll judge us negatively for who we are, or what we need.

Polyamory and CommunityPoly Living Puppy Pile

One of the greatest gifts in polyamory (and sometimes in open relationships), in my view, is that of community. As we honestly open ourselves to others, and create bonds and ties and networks, we naturally create a community of not only lovers, but of loving people of all sorts; people who can be there for us in times of loss and hardship, as well as times of joy and celebration. It’s hard (for me, at least)to trust in this net, because of the strong messages of nuclear family, and individual responsibility. But as I allow myself to be more open and more vulnerable, I am finding more and more support — mentally, emotionally, and physically — is available to me.

Of course, this requires that I be open to receive that support, and that can be a challenge for a perfectionist like me. But by following those steps Veronica outlines above, I can breathe through the confusing feelings, and eventually learn to accept what IS. Not always easy, but usually possible.

I find that for me, part of the process is to continually remind myself to stay in a state of gratitude, which allows me to be open to receiving the gifts that may come my way, as well as allowing me to remain relaxed and able to respond appropriately.  “Fear is the mindkiller,” after all, and when I’m in a state of contraction, resistance and fear, I often cannot move, quite literally.

So it is now that I end this post where I began my day, in gratitude for my community.  I am grateful for so many of you, both those whom I know, and those whom I’ve never met, and may never meet. I am grateful for those who can help me with my physical and financial needs, and for those who can help me with my emotional, mental or spiritual needs. It is an article of faith for me, that in giving to each other, we always give back to ourselves. And I am especially grateful to my friend Adam, at the moment, who is providing an example that yes, it IS possible — through gratitude, acceptance, and letting go — to change for the better.

I hope by sharing these thoughts I can inspire you, as I have been inspired today by my friends and community. And may you always, always remember, that

Love is always OK.

~♥ Dawn

FREEPS: Are you interested in talking with me about polyamory, or about any of the topics in this blog?  I’m happy to give back via a Free 30-minute session, or a 1/2 price 60-minute one. Past clients have reported increased happiness, decreased feelings of shame and jealousy, and have gained clarity and useful tools through working with me in a co-creative process. I’d love to help you understand and manifest your own best life and loves! Contact me and we’ll set up a time that works for you. 🙂

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

Afternoon Delights on 4/26/14 + Free Recording!

What’s relationship success? Is your relationship a success or not, and how do you tell? How can you use “creative relationship design” to create a successful relationship tailored to your needs, and those of your partner/s?

This was the topic of the free call that I did a couple of weeks back, with Francesca Gentille.  I’ve finally surmounted the technological hurdles to get this out in a form that anyone can listen to.  Hooray!  Below is the link to the YouTube page for the audio (the slideshow portion is fairly optional.)

If you are local to the SF Bay Area, you might be interested in the in-person class that Francesca and I are teaching THIS Saturday, April 26th:  Afternoon Delights on the Wilder Shores of Love. (HINT: there’s a DISCOUNT CODE for those who listen to the FREE CALL recording below!) We’ve still got some spaces left, so grab a friend — or two, for best prices! — and sign up for this fun, interactive workshop!

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Millenial Gaia, a statue depicting Gaia/Mother Earth as a seated, pregnant woman, with the earth as her belly.

Out In the World… (a poem)

Most of the time, in this blog, I focus on polyamory and other forms of “ethical non-monogamy.”  Today, I’m offering something involving another facet of my own “outside the box” nature: Paganism. In a somewhat uncharacteristic way for me, I’m going to offer the poetry first, and the explanations after.  So scroll down if you’re interested in more background on how this poem came to be, and why I’m posting it here.  Enjoy!  ~♥ Dawn

Out In The World, the Goddess Speaks

(A poem by Dawn Davidson, © 2014)

Out in the wind
the Goddess speaks:
Branches whispering to one another, swaying in the wind.
“Bend;” she says, “flexibility is the key,
lest in bearing your natural pressures, you would otherwise break.”
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Wilder Shores of Love — FREE call 4/10, 5:15p Pacific

What’s relationship success? Is your relationship a success or not, and how do you tell? How can you use “creative relationship design” to create a successful relationship tailored to your needs, and those of your partner/s?

Please join Francesca Gentille and me (Dawn Davidson of Love Outside the Box) this Thursday, 4/10 at 5:15pmPacific for the FREE INFORMATIONAL CALL about the Wilder Shores of Love!

UPDATE: Here’s the link to the recording!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zoIaBrfBMQ

On the Web join online here:http://apps.calliflower.com/conf/show?guid=75e9680b5da6fdf796f36cd276d54d25a73a6951

Dial in number: 415 376 1329
Your Conference Code: 1282710

While this is a call where people can ask questions about our upcoming in-person class (see below), it’s not just a sales call — we are committed to providing value to everyone who joins us on the call! We plan to discuss some issues important to relationship success… starting with the question of what IS relationship “success”, and how do YOU measure it?

So join us on this FREE call, find out more about the Wilder Shore of Love, and share your ideas about creative relationship design!

Hope you can join us… because Love is always ok!

~♥ Dawn

PS: For more information about the in-person event that’s happening on April 26th:
http://www.wildershores.com/events.html

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

TODAY 12/20: HuffPostLive on Polyamory + Other Poly Media

A last-minute heads-up that there will be a segment about Polyamory and the Holidays on HuffingtonPostLive today, Friday 12/20, at 1:40pm Pacific/4:40pm Eastern.  It hasn’t been fully confirmed, but it seems likely that I’ll be one of the speakers on the show, so check it out! The recorded show will be available on the site later, as well.

The topic of the show is what special challenges are faced by polyamorous people during the holidays. For instance, how and when should one come out to family and friends? Before the event? During dinner? What do you do about “plus 1” invitations when you have “plus 2” … or more? How do you handle presents, kids, relatives, and competing invitations? If you spend Christmas with one lover… are you obligated to spend New Years with another?

My contention, while answering pre-show questions was (and is) that in many situations, polyamorous relationships are similar to other sorts of “blended family” relationships. They can have similar challenges and may benefit from similar approaches, such as splitting time between households on various days, or negotiating which partners and family will be at which celebrations, to minimize drama. And of course, talking about things in advance, and making some Agreements is almost always a good idea!

Again, it starts at 1:40pm Pacific time, and is scheduled to run for about 25 minutes. Tune in, and join the conversation!

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sisterwivesIn other news, the decision regarding the Utah Kody Brown (aka “Sister-Wives”) Polygamy case has finally been handed down.  Similarly to the Canadian case two years ago, it looks like the judge has decided that it isn’t illegal to have more than one relationship… just so long as you don’t go seeking any legal recognition for it.

So on the up side, the Browns won’t be prosecuted for their religious marriages, so long as they don’t seek legal any recognition beyond the one existing marriage. That decision should provide some protection — and some precedent — for polyamorous as well as polygamous people in the US.

On the down side however,  in my opinion, is the fact that people in multiple-partner relationships are still being forced into a “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” model of sorts. It seems likely to me that not only adults, but also some children are likely to suffer, since some still may not be able to access needed benefits, falling through the cracks in our rather faulty system of health care, etc. And of course there is still no protection against discrimination against multiple-partner relationships in matters of employment, housing, etc. It’s progress, but we still have a long way to go, clearly.

Still, the ruling shows some progress in acknowledging the existence of multiple-partner households. And the increasing presence of poly topics on fora such as HuffPostLive also demonstrate an increasing awareness of ethically non-monogamous options among the general public. While perhaps not exactly the holiday gifts of our dreams, both are certainly better than a lump of coal in our collective poly stockings. 🙂

Here’s hoping your holidays — whatever form they might take, however many people are present, whatever the religious framework or lack thereof — are as full of warmth and love as you could possibly wish!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Looking for some help in figuring out how to handle your own sticky poly/open situations this holiday season? I’m running some great Winter Specials on my individual and group coaching. Get up to 50% off time with me! But act soon… the extra low package deals end when the ball drops for the new year!

love_outside_the_box_white_on_dark_t_shirts-r734308d7aa2c48a6a7a731d0498738ca_8nfnu_216

PPS: Still looking for that special something as a gift for lovers, friends… or yourself? 😉 Check out the selection of t-shirts, mugs, and other goodies in my Love OTB Zazzle store. Use code BE4CHRISTMAS for 50% off express shipping! (ends Sunday)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Green First Aid Kit

Is Jealousy Ever a GOOD Thing?

Hey polyamorous and open people, what do you think?  Is feeling jealousy ever a “good thing?” What do “feelings of jealousy” mean to you? or about you? Check out the letter below from one of my readers, and my response, for some more thoughts on this topic.

Dear Dawn:writing icon

I hope this is quick.   I don’t feel I have any place in a jealousy workshop, because I don’t see myself ever feeling jealous, because I think jealousy has to do with feeling upset because I’m not getting attention I feel is owed to me, and I don’t feel anyone owes me, or would ever owe me, attention.  Is that a sign of low self-esteem?  That is, is feeling jealous when one’s beloved gives attention to someone else ever a good thing?  Thanks!

signed, KW

Hi KW:

Jealousy is neither good nor bad.  It just IS.  It’s a collection of feelings, and those feelings are *information.*  What you do with the information is up to you, ultimately (though for some folks, it doesn’t feel like it.)  If you feel “jealous” when your lover gives attention to someone else, in my view that means it’s a signal that there’s something there for YOU to pay attention to.  Ask yourself questions like “what need do I have that feels like it’s not getting met (enough)?” “has my ‘love tank’ gotten filled enough recently, and if not, what could I possibly ask for (not demand!) that might have me feel more loved and more at ease with my partner?”  It’s not about your partner “owing” you attention — it’s about you and your partner/s having a “winning relationship” in which the *relationship* wins because everyone’s needs are getting met, and everyone in the relationship feels like they’re “winning” (i.e., getting what they need in a win-win-win… manner.)

I think you might find the teleseminars interesting and thought-provoking, so I’d encourage you to sign up, and get the handouts at least. And if you listen to the recordings, you will hear some nice “relaxation meditations” by Kathy, and also get other people’s definitions of jealousy (they’re not all the same as yours!)  I’d also encourage you to buy the “beta” version of my KISSable Agreements book (if you haven’t yet), wherein I discuss the win-win-win model I mentioned above. The ideas work well together, and in that book I walk you through a process of discovering your own (and maybe your partners’) needs.

Hope that was a helpful response!

Thanks for writing!


Dawn

Here’s wishing you few jealous moments, lots of compersion, and happy relationships!
Because no matter who or how many you love…Love is always OK!

~♥ Dawn

Green First Aid KitGreen First Aid KitGreen First Aid KitPS: Have you signed up for the 3rd and final teleseminar with Kathy Labriola and myself, on Monday October 21st at 5:45 – 7pm Pacific Time?  Called “More Options for More Jealousy,” this is ANOTHER all new call, feature a new relaxation meditation, more models and options for dealing with jealousy, and a step-by step process for examining your beliefs and fears around your jealousy triggers.  We’d love to have you join us! (or, if you can’t be on the call live, sign up anyway, and get the recording and the FREE “take home materials”!)

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

A Co-Dependent Love Song…

heart notes

from Lorc at game-icons.net

You’ve all heard the songs.  In fact, if you’ve been poly/open for a while, you’ve probably rolled your eyes at them.  Songs with themes of how “I can’t live with out you,” “you complete me,” or “you broke my heart” with the subtext “… AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”

Singer/Songwriter Scott Kalechstein Grace took a few of the most common from the 50’s – 70’s — and most egregious — and wrote a very funny parody mashup.  It’s worth the listen:

Of course, being polyamorous or open doesn’t guarantee that you aren’t also co-dependent… but I find that it at least tends to force one to confront some of these tendencies.  It becomes harder, for instance, to imagine that one person can possibly be the answer to all of life’s problems — and that you will DIE without that person — if you’ve discovered that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time … and to have more than one person love you. 🙂

With best wishes for INTER-dependent, not co-dependent, love!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Those workshops on Jealousy with Kathy Labriola were so great that we’re going to do a THIRD (and final) one on Monday October 28th, 21st! at 5:45pm Pacific Time!  Mark your calendars, because it’s gonna be epic!

PPS:  Have you checked out my KISSable Agreements Workbook (beta edition)?  Only $10!

http://www.blog.loveoutsidethebox.com/kissable-agreements.html

∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]