Tag Archives: References

Have Clear Consequences [Agreements Tip #2c]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.

This is the next entry in the Agreements Workbook, Tip #2c: Have Clear Consequences. I’ve been struggling with this one for a while, because the idea of “consequences” is pretty challenging in an egalitarian adult romantic relationship. Check out the entry below to see how I got myself past this personal bottleneck. (Hint: They need to be “Natural” and/or “Logical.”]

Do you have any questions or comments about these Agreements Workbook entries? Contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box if you’d like to discuss your own situation. I’ll be happy to do a mini-session for you for free. 🙂

Here’s hoping all your consequences are good ones!

~♥ Dawn

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Have clear consequences

In addition to being clear about the words and the goals of the Agreements, it’s also important to know what the consequences will be if an Agreement gets broken (see p. ___ for The Five Reasons Agreements Fail). In most cases, a broken Agreement will mean going back to the negotiating table and re-wording or re-working the Agreement.  In a few instances, though—e.g., a broken safer sex Agreement—there will need to be actual consequences. Without clear consequences the likely response is that the person/s who broke the Agreement might say “oops” (maybe, if they say anything at all), and then nothing happens and things proceed as usual… but with this uncleared “ick” in the middle of the relationship. Not fun. If the consequences are too severe, they’re likely to avoid talking about it completely for as long as possible, and then to lie about it. Again, not fun, once the truth comes out.  So how to find that happy medium?

Natural and Logical Consequences

Being clear about consequences and being willing and able to enact them can be very difficult to do.  After all, you don’t want to treat your partner/s as if they were young children unable to understand right from wrong, but you also need to have everyone actually follow the Agreements, otherwise, why have gone to the trouble to make them?  I have found that in relationship Agreements, (much the same as in interactions with kids, actually…) the key is to follow “Natural and Logical Consequences” [ref.] As much as possible, this means that any consequences should either follow naturally (i.e., forgetting to enter a date in your datebook means you don’t get to go on one!), or be “logical” ones that are in proportion to the “infraction,” and preferably related to the topic (e.g., if a partner has engaged in “risky behavior” they might be asked to a) stop the behavior, b) get re-tested, and c) follow a stricter set of rules until the testing is complete and/or a certain time has passed. See Appendix B on page ___ for some examples of “safer sex” Agreements [One Relationship Agreements example is here, and some more example Agreements are over here.]

Note that in my experience, punitive consequences — ones designed to “teach them a lesson,” or “make them suffer like I did” — tend not to work for kids OR adults, but especially not for adults. I have found that such consequences often increase resentment and lead to “acting out” in the future, in the form of lying, concealing information, “bending the rules,” or worse.  Probably not the result you were hoping for in making Agreements.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I know you probably weren’t expecting to get references to parenting techniques in a book about adult relationships, and I know that this stance (Natural and Logical Consequences) is still somewhat controversial in some circles, even in a parent-child relationship, but it’s even more important, in my opinion, between two or more adults. The key in all of these cases is RESPECT. The person you’re making the Agreement with must respect you and your needs, and you must respect them and their needs.  If that isn’t the case, or if there’s something else interfering with the ability to make Agreements “between equals” (e.g., mental or physical illness, severe trauma or grief, or any sort of negotiations in bad faith), then no amount of writing and re-writing will help.  Respect, like honesty, is just that core in this process, and if one or more of the people involved can’t or won’t behave with integrity, then a lot more will be needed in the relationship beyond a book on making Agreements.

Fortunately, you’re going to behave with honesty and integrity, and respect all of your partners, right? I knew you would. ;^)

We’ll talk more about what happens when Agreements Fail starting on p. ____ [The Five Reasons Agreements Fail].

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

[© 2012 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.

[Next Entry: Agreements Tip #3: “Additive” Agreements]

[Previous Entry: Getting to Win-Win]

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

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

Getting To Win-Win [Agreements Workbook entry]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.

This is another “orphan” entry in the Agreements Workbook, [UPDATE: purchase the whole workbook here for only $10!] one I skipped earlier, and am returning to now.  It belongs right after the entry on the Continua Worksheet — you can download the Continua Worksheet itself for free — and right before Agreements & Requests: 4 Guidelines to YES!

Honestly, I think that this section might be one of THE most important in the book.  It’s crucially important to understand that without a focus on WIN-WIN-WIN (etc) for the entire relationship as a whole, it’s not possible to make functional and lasting Agreements. This shift to a cooperative, co-creative model of meeting needs — and away from a competitive one — is fundamental to what I mean when I talk about my own orientation toward Love as a spiritual path. For me, being truly IN LOVE with my partners means that their needs are as important to me as my own — not more important, nor less important, but instead equally important. It’s another place where I try to remember to ask “WWLD?” (What Would Love Do? ;^)

Do you have any questions or comments about these Agreements Workbook entries? As always, I’m happy to answer questions or engage in discussion either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’m also happy to create coaching packages to help you create your own set of Agreements tailored to your situation. We can discuss your particular needs in a mini-consultation, if that floats your boat.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

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

Getting to Win-Win

“Negotiating” is not a synonym for “giving up”

Some people[1] try to negotiate by just giving in. For whatever reason—perhaps they don’t know what their needs are; don’t think they’re worth having others help to meet them; expect that they can’t get them anyway, etc.—these people don’t bring their needs to the table, don’t state them, or don’t state them clearly. Then they’re puzzled as to why no one ever takes care of them, why they’re always so exhausted, or why they feel resentful down the line. They’ll often say “whatever YOU want dear,” but expect the other person to mind-read, already know what they want/need, or to anticipate their needs and factor them in.

This is a very bad strategy. At the very least, it often leads this person to be perpetually waiting for other people to fulfill needs that they’ve never stated (see the “Grandmother” joke on p. __.) In its most pernicious form, it’s flat-out passive-aggressive, confusing, maddening, and will eventually erode the relationship from neither party getting what they really need.

The relationship needs your needs

It’s important for both/all parties to honor that both people’s needs are important, and need to be met.  Why is this? It’s because the relationship needs your needs.

“Say what? That makes no sense!” I can hear some of you saying.

I’ll say it again: The relationship needs your needs.

One way to think about the dynamics of a relationship is to realize that to some degree, the relationship itself is one of the players in the negotiation game. The idea behind negotiation is to get to a win-win-win scenario, where no one feels taken advantage of, and everyone gets what they need, and even some or most of what they want. On the flip side of what I just discussed — passive-aggressive behavior — each party can end up feeling in competition with the other/s for scarce resources. (This is a really great recipe for jealousy, by the way; see Fig. __[Kathy Labriola‘s 4-Part Jealousy Model, which is available on the backside of the Jealousy Diagnosis sheet, also available as a free download].)

In Fig.___ below, I’ve included a very small matrix (a table) of a relationship between two people, with Person A along the top, and Person B along the side. [Sorry for the crappy formatting here; consider it a little incentive to buy the book once I get it out! ;)]

Person A:

Win

Lose

Person

B:

Win

W/W

W/L

Lose

L/W

L/L

Fig. __: Matrix of Win vs. Lose for Person A, Person B, and the Relationship as a whole

 

Of course, many polyamorous or non-exclusive relationships have more than two people in them.  However, if you break things down, it rapidly becomes apparent that one way to look at multiple relationships is as a series of dyads, or pairs, in addition to another entity, the relationship as a whole (see Appendix A for a more detailed explanation.)

So if we accept for the purpose of this example that the ideal in any interaction between two people in relationship is to end up supporting the relationship (otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for an Agreement…), then there is only one way in which that can happen in the scenario in Fig. ___. Only if both Person A and Person B feel like they’ve “won” does the relationship win. If either one feels like they’ve lost, then the relationship as a whole has lost.  If the relationship loses enough times—and especially if one of the partners loses all or most of the time—then eventually, there will be no relationship.

Please note that for the relationship to win, it’s not possible for one or both of the people to capitulate, “cave in,” or otherwise give up their needs completely. That also will lead the relationship to lose, and as we discussed above, eventually that leads to no relationship. Remember: the relationship needs your needs!

So somehow, you’ll need to get to a point where everyone’s needs are being addressed, and the relationship as a whole is “winning.” That’s where negotiation comes in, which I’ll cover in the next section.


[1] True confessions time: In this section, you can assume that when I say “they,” I really mean “I.” Not only have I gone there more than once, I’ve got a season pass, so to speak. I speak from personal experience!

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

[© 2012 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.

[Next Entry: Have Clear Consequences (Agreements Tip #2c) ]

[Previous Entry: Resources: More Relationship & Safer Agreements Info]

[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!]

Definitions of poly/open relationships for therapists (and others)

There’s a (relatively) new article out about doing therapy with clients who are in various forms of open relationships, by Kevin J. Zimmerman, published in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy. (NB: It’s written for an academic therapist audience, so non-therapists may not find it easy reading. Also, the link is to the publisher, where you can buy the article should you choose. I’m sorry, but I’m not at liberty to distribute a free link to the full article on this blog.)

I’ve barely begun it myself, but one thing that struck me is the excellent definition of terms at the outset of the article. Please note that these terms and definitions are the author’s for the purpose of the article– they’re not mine, nor are they meant to be considered to be “the only right way” to define these terms — but I found these descriptions of various subsets of the larger community to be succinct and quite useful, and thought I’d share.  I find them particularly interesting, given the ongoing discussions within the community/communities about the definitions of these words.  Enjoy!

[From p. 273 of the article: Kevin J. Zimmerman (2012): Clients in Sexually Open Relationships: Considerations for Therapists, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 24:3, 272-289]

“Open relationship is an umbrella term that encompasses any relationship structure that is not monogamous. It is useful at the start to define some common relationship patterns that nonmonogamous clients may bring up in therapy. Partnered nonmonogamy refers to a committed couple that allows for extradyadic sex. Swinging is nonmonogamy in a social context, also referred to as “the lifestyle.” Polyamory allows for partners to have more than one relationship that is sexual, loving, and emotional. Solo Polyamory defines nonmonogamous individuals who do not want a primary partner. Polyfidelity refers to three or more people who have made a commitment to be in a primary relationship together. A monogamous/nonmonogamous partnership is one in which one person is monogamous and the other is not. Open relationships are different from infidelity or cheating because partners agree on the sexual boundaries of the relationship and there is no deception about sex. In this respect, successful open relationships typically involve individuals who privilege authenticity over conformity in their relationships.”

What do you think about the author’s definitions and statements here? I’m largely in agreement with him, though I have some small quibbles (e.g., I think “solo polyamory” could easily apply to people who do not have a primary partner, as well as those who don’t want one.)  I was particularly happy with his clear distinction between Polyamory/Open Relationships and Cheating, and with his definition of Polyamory:

Polyamory allows for partners to have more than one relationship that is sexual, loving, and emotional.

Seems like it hits the high points, though I think the concept of “honest” is important enough to include in the definition, if one is quoting it without the rest of the paragraph for context.  Here’s my own previously posted definition as one comparison point:

Polyamory is the belief in and/or practice of multiple loving relationships, with the full knowledge and consent of those involved.

So what does “polyamory” mean to you? Do you agree that “Open relationship is an umbrella term that encompasses any relationship structure that is not monogamous”? Or does “open” have a slightly different meaning to you, as it does to me? (See my blog article I’m Poly AND Open for more details.) Do you have any other comments or observations about how being open/poly/etc works for you, or what sort of things YOU think a therapist should know in working with you? How does the therapist’s understanding of these terms influence your comfort in the session/s?  Are these terms you’d find useful in discussing your own relationships/s with others?

As always, I’m happy talk about this stuff either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. And if you’d like to go into greater depth about your own situation, I’m also happy to set up a private session with you (either a half-hour for free, or longer sessions on a sliding scale.)

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

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

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

 

Resources: More Relationship & “Safer” Agreements Info

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

As promised, here’s some more information on relationship and safer sex Agreements. This entry is an updated version of a handout I’ve used in the past when teaching workshops on Creating Empowering Agreements. Some of it will end up in the Agreements Workbook in the Appendix, and some in Recommended Reading, I think.  If you’re interested in a 1-page pdf version of this, feel free to write me, and ask for the “Additional Relationship and Safer Sex Agreements Information” pdf. I’ll be happy to send it to you in email.

Do you have any questions or comments about these Agreements Workbook entries? As always, I’m happy to answer questions or engage in discussion either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box. I’m also happy to create coaching packages to help you create your own set of Agreements tailored to your situation. We can discuss your particular needs in a mini-consultation, if that floats your boat.

May you always love boldly, safely, and well!

~♥ Dawn

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

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Open-ness, honesty, and safety: Some actual data!

I‘ve long held the opinion (based on personal experience as well as some educated guesses) that people who were poly/open/ethically non-monogamous have stronger and more consistent safer sex boundaries and practices than folks who were cheating (or as this article frames it, “unfaithful.”) After all, when “no one’s looking,” it’s very hard to uphold any sort of boundaries that require long-term thought over short term pleasure (even for one’s own sexual safety.) However, up till recently, that’s largely been conjecture.  This article below reports results of one of the first ever studies on the topic. I’ve only got the abstract (and thanks for that go to N.T. from the Poly Researchers list), but the results reported are unambiguous.

“Unfaithful Individuals are Less Likely to Practice Safer Sex Than Openly Nonmonogamous Individuals”

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Volume 9, Issue 6, pages 1559–1565, June 2012

ABSTRACT

Introduction. Given the prevalence and harm of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there is a need to examine safer sex strategies in the context of romantic relationships and extradyadic sexual encounters. Sexual infidelity is associated with a variety of detrimental psychosocial outcomes; however, little research has addressed the sexual health ramifications of sexually unfaithful partners and members of other high-risk nonmonogamous lifestyles.

Aims. To determine whether sexually unfaithful individuals or “negotiated nonmonogamous” individuals are more likely to engage in sexual health risk reduction behaviors during extradyadic encounters and with their primary partner.

Method. Data were collected via an anonymous Internet-based study. Several hundred sexually unfaithful individuals and individuals with a negotiated nonmonogamy agreement completed a sexual health questionnaire.

Main Outcomes Measures. Self-reported measures of risk reduction behaviors within the primary relationship and risk reduction behaviors during the extradyadic encounter were assessed.

Results. Sexually unfaithful participants demonstrated significantly lower rates of protective sexual health behaviors both within their primary partnerships and during their extradyadic sexual encounters. Sexually unfaithful participants were also less likely to engage in frequent STI testing, and less likely to discuss safer sex concerns with new partners.

Conclusions. These data add to the literature on the negative effects of sexual unfaithfulness. Understanding rates of nonengagement in safer sex strategies will be helpful to those who lead efforts to increase condom use and other preventive STI measures. Conley TD, Moors AC, Ziegler A, and Karathanasis C. Unfaithful individuals are less likely to practice safer sex than openly nonmonogamous individuals. J Sex Med 2012;9:1559–1565.

This, of course, is one of the many reasons why I feel that openness and honesty are cornerstones of polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy.  Honesty is not only the best policy from an emotional standpoint… it’s also a great “harm reduction” tool for everyone concerned.

If you’re looking for some help with your own safer sex testing, there’s a widget down along the right side of my blog here that will help you find a testing facility.  You can also find a few more resources for testing and other safer sex matters in my Resources list. And here’s a bonus link I posted recently in my Facebook, called Health Care Without Shame, by Dr. Charles Moser, which may also help you locate caregivers that can be appropriately responsive to your needs.

If you’re looking for help creating Agreements to support safer sex (or safer emotional relating), then you might want to check out my in-progress Agreements Workbook entries. And last but not least, of course, you’re always welcome to contact me for a personal session (by phone, Skype, or in person), if you’d like to bounce ideas off of me, or get more personalized feedback and assistance.

May you always love safely, boldly, and well!

~♥ Dawn

 

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©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

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Recommended Websites: The New Poly Anna & More Than Two

Have you seen The New Poly Anna?  It’s a site by an fantastic woman I know named (you guessed!) Anna. She writes something she calls “blogtoons,” which are part blog entry, part cartoon, and entirely awesome.  She writes on themes of polyamory, open relationships, and lots of other things in her life. Check it out!

Another thing I ran into this morning that I think is excellent, is this essay A Monogamous Response to Polyamory in the newer website More Than Two by established poly blogger, Franklin Veaux (aka Tacit). An excellent thing to read if you’re wanting to introduce your monogamous partner to polyamory or other forms of open relationships. I think it’s also a good thing to have the monogamous partner read, since they’ll probably feel a great deal of resonance. 🙂

For me, it’s back to the trenches right now, as I try to stay ahead of having put out a Newsletter without much in the way of future entries scheduled.  Eep!

~♥ Dawn

 

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©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

 

 

 

 

Interchange! and New Education & Trainings Page

Some folks have been curious about the Interchange Counseling Training I participated in a few years back. The wonderful folks over at the Interchange Counseling Institute have recently released an awesome video to give you an idea of some of the benefits and topics covered in the training. Check it out!

As it happens, there’s an Interchange introductory evening in Santa Cruz Wednesday oops! THURSDAY night (9/29/11), and one last intro evening in SF on October 11th. Whether or not you will take the training, attending the intro evening will bring you some awesome exercises and a lot of fun. (If you sign up as a result of my recommendation, please mention my name!)

And finally, to feature this video on a permanent basis, I’ve created a new Page in my About menu (in the SIDEbar; the top menu doesn’t work yet!), that shows this video, and lists my educational background and trainings.

 

Enjoy, and feel free to ask me questions about any of this, whether here, in private e-mail, or on my FB Page: Love Outside The Box.

 ~♥ Dawn

PS: Thanks to all my Interchange classmates!  You all rock. Thanks for being part of my life.

 

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

[© 2011 Dawn M. Davidson]

Capital Letter A

More on lists of lists; PolyEventsALLOver

Capital Letter A quick update about the poly events all over site (cross-posted from  my Weirdness Events Google Group):

The wonderful folks in Victoria BC are responsible for the polyeventsallover site.  It’s an aggregation of Google Calendars that list polyamory-related events. Anyone who has a Google Calendar for their poly group or events is welcome to submit the calendar.  It also gives a place for people to find poly events, and to be able to submit poly events to their area.  Each calendar lists the person to submit your local events to.

Note that because it’s NEW, and SELF-GENERATED, there’s not a lot on it in many places.  Please link your calendars here, please submit events, and please make use of this great new resource.

And as a super-early sneak preview, there’s someone on the Poly Leadership Network who’s trying to build a new site that will be a collection of links, and link to all sorts of poly stores etc. Again, it’s being designed to be something that is user-submitted and maintained, so fewer links should go dead because the site maintainer got tired of maintaining it. It’s still under development, but I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready to use, which should be soon!

Best wishes!

~♥ Dawn

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A list of poly lists!

Stained Glass Capital Letter Thanks to Joreth of The Inn Between for this useful list of lists! You can find this list, and other helpful links to more information about polyamory (online, and via books, etc) on my Maps & Charts: Resources Page. :^)

Aggregation sites related to polyamory:

Poly-Friendly Professionals: http://www.polychromatic.com/p​fp/main.php
Poly Groups: http://www.polygroups.com/
Poly Local Events: https://sites.google.com/site/polyeventsallover/Welcome [corrected link 8/17/11]
Poly Conferences: http://polyevents.blogspot.com​/
Polyamory In The News: http://polyinthemedia.blogspot​.com/
Poly Movies: http://www.theinnbetween.net/p​olymovies.html
Poly Music: http://www.theinnbetween.net/p​olymusic.html
Poly Books: http://www.theinnbetween.net/po​lybooks.html
Poly clothing & jewelry: http://polyinthemedia.blogspot​.com/2010/04/poly-jewelry-clot​hing-and-other.html

Win-Win-Win!

Remember: In the month of August, if you purchase a service from me I’ll donate half of my usual fee (still sliding scale) to a cause of your choice, in honor of Deanna Silverkrow. Contact me (unchartedlove[at]gmail{dot}com) to set up a time. Phone or Skype/Google anywhere in the world, or in-person in the SF East Bay.

I help you, you help me, and we both help others!  Win-Win-Win!

~♥ Dawn

Make a List of Needs [Agreements Wrkbk #6]

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.This entry is the sixth in my series on the Agreements Workbook that I’m writing. [For the first entry in this series, click here]. 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. I’m updating these somewhere between 1 and 3 times per week, BTW.

Entry #6 continues the section on meeting needs through Agreements, and discusses how to discover your needs (and/or those of your partner/s) through list-making.

Please feel free to make comments or ask questions, either here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box.

 

Discovering Your Needs: Make a List

So, back to our list-making… now that I’ve clarified needs vs. strategies, you can start making your list.  One common method, of course, is to “go with your gut.” Brainstorm! Just write down the first 5 to 10 words that come to mind (if you can’t stop there, that’s ok; you might just need to group them later, that’s all.)

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