Tag Archives: communication

Green First Aid Kit

MORE Jealousy First Aid! TODAY, 9/19 at 2:15pm Pacific

Green First Aid KitGreen First Aid Kit

 

Hey folks!  I’m excited!  Kathy Labriola and I are presenting an ALL-NEW teleseminar called MORE Jealousy First Aid.  It’s TODAY, Sept. 19th at 2:15pm Pacific Time.

That teleseminar that Kathy Labriola and I did September 4th was a whole lot of fun! If you haven’t listened to it yet, you can listen to it streaming on the web right below:

Listen to “Jealousy First Aid” — Teleseminar from 9/4/13:

Or listen by phone: dial 1-712-432-3131 and enter Recording ID: 85925220 when prompted. (Get the “free take home materials” by signing up here. You’ll get an email with the above instructions, plus links to download the handouts.)

After the last call, we heard from a number of you that you’d like even MORE techniques — more ways to help deal with jealousy in the moment, and especially more ways to help not only yourself, but also your partner/s. So we think you’ll be happy to know that we are doing another free call on dealing with jealousy!

Thursday September 19th, 2013,
at 2:15 – 3:30pm Pacific

This will be a whole new call, facilitated by Dawn Davidson and Kathy Labriola, two well-known polyamory educators and counselors in the San Francisco Bay Area.

During this class, we’ll review the basics of what jealousy is and why we experience it, and then move on to several NEW techniques to help you navigate these tricky waters. Kathy will help you to identify and change some of the core beliefs that may be fueling your jealousy, and Dawn will lead you through a “trance rehearsal” to help you deal more effectively with jealousy-provoking situations in the future. We’ll also discuss the concept of compersion, and offer up a few ideas for the non-jealous partner, as well as for the person experiencing the jealousy. This teleseminar will again be participatory and will include a Question and Answer period as well as NEW take-home materials for continued learning!
RSVP today for MORE Jealousy First Aid, and get some great information and tips from not just one but TWO experts on riding the Green Wave of Jealousy!

Kathy and I can’t wait for you to join our next call!

…because no matter who or how many you love… Love is ALWAYS OK!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Have you checked out the “beta version” of my KISSable Agreements Workbook?  It’s available now from my website for only $10!

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Polyamory: Married and Dating TV Show

Is Polyamory All About the Sex? (Or, Reality TV vs Reality)

Polyamory: Married and Dating TV Show

Opening screen from Showtime series

Those of you with cable will probably know that Showtime’s second season of Polyamory: Married and Dating started in August. Based on early reports of “more diversity,” and the producer talking to “families from the heartland,” I had had higher hopes for this season than last.  I haven’t seen the show myself yet (viewing parties are being scheduled!), but I have heard from some of my friends, and frankly, they weren’t impressed.  “You’d think all we poly folk ever do is have sex, or talk about having sex,” was more or less the comment from one of my friends who’s actually seen all of this season’s shows so far.  Since that was pretty much my complaint last year, I have to say I’m not shocked by my friend’s assessment. The show isn’t a particularly representative sample of differing poly relationship styles, unfortunately. Of course, this is a “reality” TV show, not a documentary, so we do have to take that into account. Sex sells, and sales drive ratings, after all.

As usual, Alan M. of Poly In The News is covering the show in detail, including some clips and a lot of analysis.  Alan’s opinion seems fairly favorable (again), though that’s not without reason.  The San Diego group, and Kamala in particular (in my opinion), have pretty good communication skills, and really are interested in showing the world that polyamory can work — and how their version of it works, in particular. Kamala often says things that I agree with wholeheartedly, such as this quote that Alan M. reports:

“You need a tribe. You need a community. It’s so much better than trying to do this alone.”
Kamala Devi, as quoted in Poly in the News

It’s not that polyamory is never  about sex of course — I myself have said that polyamory is just as much about sex (or not) as any monogamous relationship. Sex is part of the vast majority of adult human romantic relationships. It just so happens that their version of polyamory involves a lot more sex than the versions of most of the people *I* know! This clip from episode 3 encapsulates some of my sense of Michael’s heavy focus on sex:

He seems to have a hard time separating sex and closeness. His new partner Rachel seems to have a hard time understanding his difficulty:

Rachel, bemused: “I’m trying to understand the way this conversation is going.” Getting into bed with her lover’s wife is not how she usually thinks of “going deeper” with a lover, she explains.
— as quoted by Alan M. in Poly in the News

So what’s the harm in portraying polyamory as primarily about the sex? Hard to say. After all, it’s actually true for some percentage of poly people. On the other hand, as my friend expressed to me, if this were your only exposure to polyamory, you might get the wrong idea, or at least a very skewed one, and think that polyamory is always primarily about sex. [Hint: It’s not.] I myself have a suspicion that my having suggested that an old friend watch the show (before I saw it, last year) might indeed have contributed to said friend’s sudden cessation of contact shortly thereafter. Certainly he seemed to think I wanted something much different than I actually did.

In my opinion, the real concern, though, is that all this focus on sex contributes to the cultural ideas that lead to “Michael Carey” on Slate writing this excellent article “Why I’m Still in the Polyamory Closet.” As “Michael” writes:

I have never, ever been out as poly in a workplace. Start trying to explain consensual non-monogamy, and some people—a lot of people—are going to think you’re obsessed with sex. (Never mind that I’ve been with my wife, Rose, for 10 years, have been married for three, and in all that time the two of us have dated fewer people than plenty of serially monogamous singles I know.) Some co-workers may avoid polyamorous colleagues because they’re paranoid that they may be on the prowl. Others will become distrustful because they think that poly is an attempt to re-label behavior that they consider cheating, and cheaters aren’t trustworthy.

Exactly. The assumption is that polyamory is all about sex, whether or not that’s actually the case.  It’s stereotyping. So again, what’s problematic with portraying polyamory as being “about sex”? Here’s what:

“…you don’t know if your neighbors are poly (or whatever other term they may use), because they’re still afraid that if they don’t hide that aspect of their lives from you, something bad might happen. Those potential consequences range from having all future interactions feel awkward to having authorities take away their children.”  — Michael Carey, in Slate

(Note that that link he gives above is to the relatively old April Divilbiss case, but many more recent instances of polyamorous people losing their children in custody battles have occurred, enough to cause there to be several polyamory legal defense funds and organizations created. It is definitely still an active concern for many polyamorous families.)

So this, then, is why I remain somewhat skeptical of the show and its impact on real polyamorous people. Polyamory is big enough to command a TV show all of its own now, and that’s definitely progress.  But the heavy sex emphasis contributes to some negative stereotypes with some very serious potential consequences indeed. It’s progress with a price, at the very least.

I’ll watch the show, and I won’t tell others not to watch it… but I WILL recommend that you keep firmly in mind the fact that “reality TV” is a whole lot more about “TV,” than about “reality.”

~♥ Dawn

PS:  The teleseminar I did with Kathy Labriola on Wednesday was a rousing success!  So much so that we’ve scheduled a second one for Thursday afternoon September 19th at 2:15pm Pacific time. We’ll cover several more tools for dealing with jealousy in yourself, and in your partner/s!

Did you miss the first one, or do you want to listen again? Fill out this form!  You’ll be able to listen to the recording for FREE, and you’ll get notified of the second teleseminar, as soon as we have details available.  We’d love to have you join us!

 

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

 

Poly & Religon

Polyamory and Christianity: Strange Bedfellows, or Loving Companions?

Poly & Religon

Series title at ModernPoly.com

With the recent legal changes and affirmations around same-sex marriage, the conservative right is grappling with their own predictions of doom and gloom and the slippery slope.  The unthinkable has happened, so what could be next?

Those of us who are polyamorous are quite aware that we’ve long been painted as “the bottom of the slippery slope,” so it comes as no surprise to us that fundamentalists, especially Christians (e.g., the Christian Broadcasting Network), are looking to interview poly people on the topic. But while we polyfolk aren’t finding the conservatives particularly surprising, apparently WE are surprising THEM.

In particular, in his recent (and not yet released) interview, Dave Doleshal (founder of the Academic Polyamory Conference) reported that the interviewer for CBN was extremely surprised that there are many Christians who are also polyamorous.  According to Dave, this

“…seemed to make his eyes bug out. It seemed like this was a possibility he had never considered.”

As many of us who are polyamorous already know, there are indeed many poly* Christians.  (By “poly*” I am including those who identify as polygamous as well as polyamorous in this case, as the two groups are certainly overlapping in some ways, though not in others.) There are some who are devoutly Christian, and also poly*. In my practice as well as my personal experience, I have met some that believe that they are fulfilling God’s commandments (e.g., “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31) by being poly*. Some consider themselves to be following in the footsteps of Old Testament leaders, such as Kings Solomon and David, who each had many wives, or of Jacob, who famously waited 7 years to marry Rachel in addition to Leah. There is strong precedent for multiple wives (though less precedent for multiple husbands), in the Bible.

Note that we are not talking here about the Unitarians, who have a strong polyamory contingent. Nor are we limiting the discussion to Mormon splinter sects.  Many Christians do not consider either of those groups to be Christians, strictly speaking. We’re talking about Catholics, Episcopals, Lutherans, and many, many more from the mainstream Christian denominations. Some are closeted, and some are open with their Christian communities.  All are Christian AND poly*.

For those of you who might be Christian, but feel the call to being poly* as well, here are a few resources on the topic. [Note:  I have not explored all of these deeply, so this does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any particular beliefs, practices or politics; just a link to a few places to look to convince yourself that you are not alone!]

Article on Modern Poly site:

Liberated Christians:
http://www.libchrist.com/

http://www.christianpolygamy.com/

Facebook Group for Poly Christians:
https://www.facebook.com/christian.polyamory

For those who may not know, I myself come out of a conservative Christian background. My ultimate choice was not to stay within the Christian Church, but to pursue Love as a spiritual path.  However, I do understand the mindset and the choices that those who are called to both might face. If you’re ever interested in discussing your own situation with me, feel free to book a free or half price session. I’m happy to listen, and to share any wisdom I can offer, because, as many of you already know, I truly believe that

“No matter who and how many you love, no matter their gender, their body shape or size, their race or the color of their skin, their political affiliation, their talents and abilities, their spiritual or religious leanings, their education…

Love is ALWAYS OK.”

~♥ Dawn

PS:  Have you signed up yet for the FREE teleseminar, “Jealousy First Aid,” that I’m doing on September 4th at 5:45pm, with Kathy Labriola? It’s gonna be great! We’ll run through two tools you can use to reduce feelings of jealousy, and also tell you how you can get her new book The Jealousy Workbook (and hopefully also how you can get MY new book, the KISSable Agreements Workbook!)  Sign up now, so you can get the information on how to call in, and how to get the recording later!

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Love In Abundance: A Book Review

kathyLabriolaHave you checked out the awesome book by Kathy Labriola, Love in Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships?  Here’s what I said about it on Amazon the other day:
This review is from: Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice On Open Relationships [Paperback] [2010] (Author) Kathy Labriola (Paperback)

Kathy Labriola’s book, “Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships” is a great contribution to the literature on polyamorous and/or open relationships. She gives excellent advice garnered from her extensive counseling experience, and backs up her recommendations with clear, helpful examples. Her topics are helpful and interesting, running the gamut from communication advice to suggestions for how to deal with jealousy, and much more. One especially unusual and helpful aspect to the book, in my opinion, is Labriola’s commitment to sexual orientation inclusiveness. In her relationship examples, she seamlessly includes same-sex relationships as well as heterosexual ones. She discusses several kinds of relationship formations as well, and not just the “usual” heterosexual, primary-secondary/hierarchical model.

On the not-so-perfect side, some people have found her section on advice about communication between men and women to be a bit “gender-essentialist,” and others find her advice in general to be somewhat “basic.” I myself think she has observed some true patterns over the years regarding communication between men and women, and has some good communication advice that isn’t limited to relationships between the gender binary, nor to any particular style of relating. I also find her advice to be grounded in reality, and a gentler introduction to the concepts than some of the books that came before.

I highly recommend this book to my clients and other people interested in polyamorous/open relationships. I think it fits in nicely, filling the gaps between the groundbreaking Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits : Secrets of Sustainable Intimate Relationships by Deborah Anapol, and the book touted for years as the “poly bible,” The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Not as radical as Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines For Responsible Open Relationships by Wendy-O Matik and far less dense than Ravencroft’s Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful, I think this book is a solid guide in an often confusing territory, especially helpful to those completely new to the concepts.

Highly recommended for relationship explorers of any sort, and a must-have for any counseling professional who serves these communities.

By the way, did you know Kathy is releasing a new book in September? It’s the Jealousy Workbook, and it looks like another fabulous resource.  I have a small part in it too, with one of my Tools for “Riding the Green Wave” published in the section called “Ask the Experts.”  Hooray! The new book isn’t available yet, but you can pre-order it directly from Kathy.

Green First Aid KitAlso, Kathy and I are hosting a Teleseminar called Jealousy First Aid, on September 4th, at 5:45pm Pacific Time.  I’ll be doing a more formal announcement of that soon, but in the meantime, I’ve just finished the web-form to sign up, so if you’d like to get started, feel free to fill out this form, and get on the list! (And please do let me know if the form doesn’t work right or something; this is the first time I’ve used this program to do this, so I’m a little nervous about it working!)

Here’s hoping all your relationships are going along swimmingly this summer!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Interested in talking to me directly about your jealousy or other poly/open issues? I’m happy to do a free 30 minute, or a 1/2 price 60 minute phone session with you. And through the end of August, I’m still running my summer special, so you can save over 30% on a package! Contact me via my webform, Or call me (510-686-3386) to set up a time to talk!

 

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

 

 

The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World

a poem by Dawn Davidsonwarning sign above Furzy Cliff

when do you know you’ve come to the edge of the world?
is there a sign
carved into stone
into wood
into hearts?

does it hurt when you fall
off the edge?
wind whistling by from the speed of descent
into shadow and depths?

how do you know
you’ve left the path
ventured too far
to turn back
without leaving marks
from your passing?

where is that invisible line?
the chain
the rope
the whisper
beyond which lies
all things changed and changing?

–Dawn Davidson
© 5/23/09

A recent post in Facebook by Veronica Monet spurred me to post this poem I wrote a few years ago, about boundaries, in particular that “liminal space” where things are changing from one thing to the next.  Veronica referenced the article “Monogamous, Except Online” and asked the question “What about you? Do you consider online sex to be “cheating” or is it harmless fun?”  My answer there:

“Cheating” is breaking one’s agreements, whatever those are. So if you and your partner/s have an agreement not to have sex of any kind, even virtually, with someone else, then yes, it would be cheating. For me personally, I don’t have that sort of agreement, and it’s more about whether I feel like I’m hiding something from my partner, or vice versa. If I am able to be open with my partner, and not feel that “oh, I’m doing something wrong” feeling, and if they are able to hear about what I’m doing (online or elsewhere), and be ok with it (possibly even enthusiastic!), then it’s not “cheating,” and I know everything is ok. If they have a negative reaction, or if I feel “weird” or “furtive” about what I’m doing, then it’s a call to be in better communication with my partner.

So what about you?  How do you know that you’ve come to “the edge of the world”?  What kinds of Agreements do you have … or not?  Do you prefer fences? a sign? guards? a guided tour? or complete freedom? As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, either here, in Facebook, or in email (LoveOTB@gmail.com).  And if you’d like to talk about Agreements as a path to safety, or any other topic related to polyamory, love, and relationships, feel free to drop me a line. I’m happy to share my experiences and tools with you.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  I’m running a summer coaching special, so now’s a great time to contact me by email, or call me (510-686-3386), and save 30% on a package. Find out how to make your relationships happier, safer, and more fulfilling! 🙂

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Robyn Trask (center), Jesus Garcia (Right), of Loving More Nonprofit, with Ben Silver (Left)

FREE Webinar: 8 Keys to Poly Relationships

Robyn Trask (center), Jesus Garcia (Right), of Loving More Nonprofit, with Ben Silver (Left)

Presenters Robyn Trask (center), and Jesus Garcia (Right), with musician Ben Silver (Left)

Robyn Trask and Jesus Garcia of Loving More Non-profit are continuing their informative FREE webinar series this Thursday, June 20 at 7pm Mountain Time/6pm Pacific/ 9pm Eastern.

You can read the whole announcement here:

http://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1411766213/

The series will include topics such as polyamory and dating, making agreements, developing authentic communication, moving through jealousy, raising children in a polyamorous home and much more.

The Webinars are online and can be accessed from anywhere with a computer and good Internet connection and are also available by phone.

The June webinar is:

8 Keys to Successful Polyamorous Relationships

What are the keys to making polyamorous relationships work? This webinar will explore common challenges that set people up for failure in polyamory and loving relationships as well as how to overcome the obstacles. Our goal is to help people create relationships that thrive instead of merely survive.

with Robyn Trask and Jesus Garcia

Register Here

PLEASE NOTE: Time listed is Mountain – Space is limited!!

Registration for this webinar is free and is on a first come, first serve basis and you must fill out the registration form from the link below to attend.

Register Here

Missed the May Webinar? You can access a recording anytime!

“Beyond Monogamy? Introduction to Polyamory and Other Relationship Choices”
with Robyn Trask

Access Webinar

Should be another very interesting and useful call!  Space is limited, so grab your spot before it fills up. 🙂

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

PS: Want to set up a time to talk with me about polyamory, monogamy, and how to design your own best relationships? I’m happy to do a free 30 minute, or a 1/2 price 60 minute phone session with you. Get clear on what your relationship structure is, and underlying assumptions about rules and boundaries, and your relationship/s will be easier and happier! Or call me (510-686-3386) to set up a time for a free intro session!
PPS: In honor of Pride Month, you might also want to check out my Love Is OK T-shirt with the rainbow heart.  Because no matter who or how many you love, Love is ALWAYS OK! (Tip: Use code 15SUNSETDEAL for a 15% discount when you order by 8pm Pacific on 6/19/13.)

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Positive STI Test? Don’t Panic! (Yet)

gamblingsign.phpShould you freak out if you get a positive [STI] test?  Probably not, depending on the number of “false positives.”  Here’s the mathematical reasoning, based on a disease with a 1% rate in the population, where the test finds the diseases 100% of the time, but has a 5% “false positive” rate.

http://www.businessinsider.com/controversial-math-problems-markov-chain-cantor-coin-flip-2013-5#-27

The “moral” of the story? Don’t freak out (yet); instead, get a second opinion.

Of course, the exact numbers will depend on how accurate the test is, and exactly what the false positive rates are. But mathematically speaking, a positive test is not something to freak out about, at least not until there are TWO positive tests in a row.  Preferably by different testing methods.

Picture of condoms in a rainbow of colors

This, by the way, is why you really shouldn’t “out” someone publicly who’s just told you privately that they got a positive test, and are awaiting re-testing (while taking appropriate precautions not to unnecessarily expose others in the meantime, just in case).  Because the HIGH probability is that the re-test will be negative. Making a big deal about whether they’ve told absolutely everyone yet is just going to cause drama that is likely completely unnecessary.  Giving them a little empathy about how challenging it must be to get this result and how hard it is to wait, on the other hand, would probably be really welcome. 🙂

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

Want some help negotiating safer sex (or any other kind of) Agreements? I’m always happy to schedule a free 30 minute session (or 60 minutes for half price). Read what other people are saying about my work here. Or read more about making Agreements in my KISSable Agreements workbook entries. 🙂  Still got questions?  Feel free to contact me on my Love Outside the Box webpage.

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

Interview with Kathy Labriola

kathyLabriola

Kathy Labriola, Author of Love In Abundance

The interview I did with Jessica Burde was so much fun, I decided to do another one!  This time I interviewed Kathy Labriola, well-known counselor/nurse, and author of the popular book on polyamory and open relationships, Love In Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice On Open Relationships.

As many of you know, Kathy is a great resource for people in polyamorous or open relationships. She’s been practicing some form of polyamory/open relationships for about 40 years, and has been counseling others for more than two decades. She’s very dedicated to serving the low-income population, and has been providing excellent advice for many years via her variety of free pamphlets, which she mailed out to any who requested them. Any by “mail” I mean she licked the stamp and dropped it in the mailbox, because she started long before the internet existed!

Cover of "Love In Abundance", by Kathy Labriola

Love In Abundance,” by Kathy Labriola

So I was very excited when Kathy accepted my offer to interview her, so I could share some of her great knowledge with others. As last time, we conducted this interview via Skype in audio only.  What I did not do this time, however, was to transcribe the interview. Sorry! You’ll need to listen to the recording in order to enjoy Kathy’s excellent discussion about the three main types of open relationships, and a few of her many tips on what makes people successful. And as a bonus, at the end of the interview, Kathy shares her favorite jokes about polyamory! (If you’d like to volunteer to do the transcription, both Kathy and I would appreciate it!)

Tip: If you right-click the link and open it in a new tab, you should see some sort of player for the interview. You could also choose to play it in iTunes. The interview is just over 18 minutes long.

DawnDavidsonInterviewsKathyLabriola4.1.13

If you’d like to order Kathy’s book, you can get it directly from her own website:
http://www.kathylabriola.com/Love-in-Abundance

You can also get it from Amazon (and if you click on the link below I’ll get a tiny, tiny percentage), but honestly, Kathy keeps more of it if you buy it directly from here: http://www.kathylabriola.com/Love-in-Abundance.

Hope you enjoy listening to the interview as much as we enjoyed recording it!

~♥ Dawn

PS: There’s more to come!  The same day we recorded this interview, Kathy also interviewed me.  So watch this space for another recording. Also, Kathy is in the process of writing a new book, The Jealousy Workbook (which will appear next spring from Greenery Press), to which I’ve contributed a technique for battling jealousy.  I’ll certainly be announcing it when it appears, so if you’d like advance notice on that, you can sign up for my LoveOTB List. (Kathy doesn’t have a list, though of course she’ll announce it on her website as well.)

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Qpid.me drawing of two stick figures sharing a heart outline

Sharing the Love (More) Safely

Qpid.me drawing of two stick figures sharing a heart outline

I was recently introduced to a new resource for managing safer sex and testing results.  It’s called Qpid.me, and it claims to be “A free, simple way to share your verified STD results” by registering with them, and having your results sent directly from your doctor to their private database.

Here’s what they say on their website:

To make informed sexual health decisions, you must not only be informed about your own health, but also about your partner’s health as well. We enable you to privately share your STD [Sexually Transmitted Disease, aka Sexually Transmitted Infection or STI] status however you choose. We believe that sharing is a good thing and that it can lead to better sexual health decisions, more (safe) sex and fewer STDs.

The service is limited, and doesn’t include a couple of important STIs (e.g., HSV, aka Herpes), and so far doesn’t seem to include a way to make any statement (or have your doctor make a statement) about those STIs, either.  Here’s the list of what they DO cover (from their FAQ):

  • » HIV: PCR/RNA, antibody and viral load (for HIV positive users)
  • » Gonorrhea: genital/urine, rectal and oral
  • » Chlamydia: genital/urine, rectal and oral
  • » Syphilis
  • » Hepatitis C antibody
  • » HPV vaccine
  • » Hepatitis A vaccine

I myself have some concerns over this whole idea, around the idea of the results being useable to potentially stigmatize someone/s in the community who turns up “positive” for something.  On the other hand, stigmatizing is certainly being done NOW, without benefit of this service to speed up the process, so I’m not sure how much actual increased risk there is.

BerkeleyFreeClinic.logo

I’m also concerned about things like financial accessibility, and that requiring a certain kind of testing might become a way to effectively marginalize some less-privileged parts of the community. Of course, there are some free or low-cost resources available, at least in most urban areas in the US (e.g., Berkeley Free Clinic), but in the current economic and social climate, this certainly is not a guarantee for everyone in all areas… and even if you live somewhere that’s covered by such services, accessing them can be more than a little bit of a hassle. (Not to mention the issues inherent with contributing to the unsustainable medical-industrial-complex in the US. (Thanks to Charlie Glickman in Twitter for that link))

One of the other things I’m concerned about is the common misconception that clear test results mean there is no risk of getting an STI. It doesn’t.  It’s incredibly important to remember that testing gives you a snapshot at a particular point in time, and that any sexual contact with others means that the snapshot may no longer be 100% accurate (see more about the “window period”).  Depending on how active you and/or your partner/s are, the accuracy could range anywhere from “still good” to “completely false.” Clear tests are never a substitute for good safer sex practices (e.g., consistent and correct condom use, and being mindful about cross-contamination), honest conversations with your prospective partner/s, and possibly having a Safer Sex Agreement (whether that’s something that’s “only” an Agreement with yourself, or whether that includes 1 or more partners as well.)  Remember also that any Agreements you make are best made in advance of clothes coming off, and when everyone’s awake and sober!

Picture of condoms in a rainbow of colors

In any case, I thought this might be of interest to some folks here, as one part of a comprehensive Safer Sex Agreement or plan.

(And now my brain is suddenly full of  images of eggs and juice and the phrase “[brand name cereal] is part of a complete breakfast”! *chuckle*)

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

Want some help negotiating safer sex (or any other kind of) Agreements? I’m always happy to schedule a free 30 minute session (or 60 minutes for half price). And if you act before the end of February, you can still get my Valentine’s Day coaching discounts.

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Reasons 3, 4, & 5 of the 5 Reasons Agreements Fail

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.This entry in my Agreements Workbook Series (aka “KISSable Agreements) series, [UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!] comprises Reasons 3, 4, & 5 of the Five Reasons (Most) Agreements Fail. Find out below what to do when you and your partner/s have differing interpretations of the Agreement, or there isn’t something new to do in place of an old behavior, or if you just shouldn’t have made that Agreement in the first place.

Questions or comments?  As always, feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my Facebook Page, Love Outside The Box!

~♥ Dawn

PS: It’s after Valentine’s Day… but you can still get my Valentine’s Day coaching discounts. 🙂  Hurry though, since they’re going away at the end of February!

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3) Differing Interpretations of the Agreement

Sometimes you think you have an Agreement, but you really don’t. It’s like the classic situation portrayed so ably in Woody Allen’s 1977 film, Annie Hall. [see Figure, below]

Fig. ___
Alvy [Woody Allen’s character] and Annie [Hall]  are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen
   
Therapist: How often do you sleep together? Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week. Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.
   
—Woody Allen, in Annie Hall (1977). From IMDB “Memorable Quotes,” 2/11/13

Sometimes you’re even using the same words, but to each person they mean slightly (or radically!) different things. Perhaps you’ve found one of your ambiguous terms (see Tip #2a), or perhaps you and your Agreement Partner have different Secret Rulebook entries [see RelationDancing: Consciously Creating What You Really Want In Your Relating, by Mark Michael Lewis] Whatever the case, these sorts of fundamental misunderstandings do sometimes occur, even when everyone’s doing their best.

What to do?

Again, the action to take is most likely to revisit the Agreement, renegotiate it with the new information, and possibly clarify or change the wording. Other things that might be helpful are practicing compassion, assuming positive intent (and/or good faith), and remembering that different is not necessarily better/worse.

4) Agreement Was Not Additive

Remember that in Tip #3 (Make Additive Agreements) we discussed creating Agreements that gave new behavioral options when encountering old situations. So rather than agreeing to “stop spending too much money on your other partner/s,” you might wish to agree to “only spend $x on each partner per month.” The second option gives a concrete alternative to the behavior that’s being changed. Failing to provide a replacement behavior is one of the main reasons for an Agreement to fail, in large part because humans are creatures of habit, and habits are notoriously hard to break, once formed [http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/07/how-to-banish-bad-habits-and-control-temptations.php].

What to do?

By now, you know the refrain!  Go back to your Agreements with the new knowledge.  What sort of replacement behavior might work for this situation? Perhaps you need several options? (Remember to make the Agreements KISSable, though!) And remember that everyone involved needs to own their part of the Agreement. Scapegoating isn’t additive, either.

5) Agreement Simply Can’t Work

Sometimes, even if you’ve tried as hard as you can, checked all the assumptions, looked at all the options, reviewed and brainstormed, and generally done everything in your power… sometimes you discover that there’s some reason that the Agreement simply cannot work. Maybe there’s a pre-existing commitment standing in the way.  Maybe you were trying an experiment, and you’ve discovered something new that tells you it just isn’t going to work. Maybe it’s just more effort than you’re willing or able to put in, for not enough return.  Whatever the reason, sometimes, you just can’t.

What to do?

So what happens then? First and foremost, practice compassion. Finding out that an Agreement can’t work is a piece of data.  It might have been a mistake, it might have been a failed experiment, but in any case,  an Agreement that can’t work isn’t a judgment on any party to the Agreement, nor is it necessarily an indication of moral failure, nor the imminent demise of the relationship.  People make mistakes.  Sometimes people make big mistakes.  Remember that mistakes are part of learning.  Have some compassion for yourself and your partner/s, take a breath, and don’t panic.

Oops! Road signNext, do what you always do for a broken Agreement, just on a slightly bigger scale. A small amount of tweaking won’t fix this one, unfortunately.  Is there a different Agreement, or set of Agreements, that you can make? Do you need the help of a mediator, a counselor, or a physician? Evaluate the situation as clearly and calmly as possible, and see if there are clear next steps.

Sometimes those next steps might mean writing new Agreements… and sometimes they might mean changing the form of the relationship.  If you suspect that there’s something in need of fundamental change in your relationship, you might want to consult Appendix C (Is It Over?), or check with a counselor, therapist, or mediator (see the suggested Resources.)  In any case, remember that just because an Agreement or a relationship needs to change or end, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a failure… it could mean that you’re ready for graduation [ref Richard Bach.]

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

 

[Previous Entry: Reasons 1 & 2 of the Five Reasons Agreements Fail]

[Return to the Table of Contents for the Agreements Workbook Series]

[Return to the first text entry in the Agreements Workbook series]

[UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!]

 

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