Tag Archives: transitions

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. 🙂

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[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

Solo Poly

One of the concepts that crossed my desk a while back was that of “Solo Polyamory.” As I sat unexpectedly alone on Christmas eve, and was reading some discussion on one of the polyamory lists I’m on, I realized that this is the style of polyamory that I’m apparently now practicing.

Many people feel that “solo poly” is an oxymoron.  After all, how can you be single and “love more than one”?  Seems incompatible, at least from the monogamous/couple paradigm. So what the heck IS it?

On one of the lists, one person had this to say about solo poly, in response to another writer in the forum:

First, solo poly is not about single people only. It is a way of approaching poly that claims to be valid for singles, as equally for each individual in a couple, triple, quadruple, or any tuple you care to think of.

Solo poly, which is not my own take on poly, and which I only know from a single presentation followed by a group discussion, shares with yourself a strong critique of couple privilege and of couple-oriented thinking.

[…]

Solo poly is saying remember you are at the centre of your life, not some other person who you label a primary partner.

It is reminding you that when partners ALL let you down, your truly primary resource is yourself (whether it is expenses, housework, or any of the other rhythms you list).

It is reminding you that all your relationships (no doubt to varying extents) only augment the care that ultimately is your care is your self.

For more information on solo poly, you might want to check out this article by researcher Elisabeth Sheff:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201310/solo-polyamory-singleish-single-poly

Another great resource for ideas and posts about solo poly is the blog at http://solopoly.net.

As my own relationship map changes and shifts in this new year (the only constant is change!), I find myself resonating even more with this concept of solo poly. Four years ago I wrote a list of Agreements/affirmations for myself. And I’ve been thinking it might be time to revisit them.

What do you think about this concept?  Does “solo poly” make sense to you? Resonate? Seem ok, but only for someone else?  Seem like a contradiction, or nonsensical?

As always, feel free to comment here, or in Facebook, or to write me privately. I’m always happy to discuss these things more!

Wishing you happiness and all the love you could want in this new-ish year!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  I’m still running my “winter specials” — reduced prices on coaching packages.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

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[© 2014 Dawn M. Davidson]

Is It Over?

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.As I’m approaching the end of the Agreements Workbook Series (aka “KISSable Agreements), one topic that often comes up is how to tell when a relationship is well and truly over, or at least in need of some serious changes. In a “standard monogamous paradigm” relationship, it would be easy to know: one or the other of you has cheated, someone has filed divorce papers, or one or both of you is dead. But here in the Uncharted waters, we relationship explorers often don’t find it so easy to tell. Our definition of “cheating” is usually different, for one thing (it doesn’t just mean having sex with someone else, obviously!), and we don’t necessarily think every relationship is destined for eternity. It’s often said that relationships are “for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” and that means death isn’t the only “acceptable” reason for a relationship to end, or change form.  So how do you tell?

To answer this question, I wrote a handout with some helpful tips, titled “Is It Over? or, When Might It Be Time to End or Change a Relationship?”  You can download that handout via this webform, if you like.  (Some of the formatting of this one is a bit tricky to do here, which is why I’ve made it a pdf.) Please remember to give me a valid email address, because I’ll need it to send you the pdf! You’ll also get added to my newsletter list (if you’re not on it already), but if you don’t want to stay on it after you’ve confirmed your address and gotten your pdf, you can always unsubscribe with the link at the bottom of every email.

By the way, one of the comments I’ve gotten from some folks who’ve read the handout, is that they found it reassuring, since it helped them to see that the issues facing them were not of the sort that portended the imminent demise of the relationship!  And even if it is time for the relationship to end or change, you don’t have to view that as a failure.  Instead, you can choose to view it as a graduation.

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

~♥ Dawn

love_is_ok_rainbow_heart_tshirtPS: My Love Outside the Box t-shirts, mugs, and heart-shaped ornaments would make great Valentine’s Day gifts! There’s still time to personalize them and get them to your sweeties before the big day!  And through February 8th, Zazzle is running a 50% off special on Premium Shipping (use code SHIPPINGLOVE.) Sweet!

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Is It Over?

…or, when might it be time to end or change a relationship?

Respect.  Honesty.  Communication. Mutual consideration for each other’s wants and needs. These are the cornerstones of a functional, happy, healthy relationship. When these break down, no amount of writing and re-writing Agreements will help; no amount of “working on your jealousy issues” will result in comfort.  But when is it time to quit?  Here are some things that might be good to consider in making this decision.

First, consider your models of success

In our society, we tend to measure the success of a relationship based on assumptions of monogamy and permanence.  Especially if you’re in any alternative relationship structure, that might not be appropriate.

Common Societal Measures

  • Staying together no matter what
  • If they’re jealous, they must love you
  • They never want anyone else
  • “You complete me”
  • “Till Death do us part”

Some Possible New Measures of Success

  • Both people being fulfilled and happy
  • Compersion—I enjoy seeing my partner happy
  • You both enjoy your time together
  • Learning about yourself and partner(s)
  • Commitment to working things through

Even if your relationship is not a success by societal standards, it might be a success for YOU.  Make sure you’re not unconsciously following a set of standards that don’t fit you.

Yellow flags

If any or all of these are present, it might be time to consider ending or restructuring the relationship.

  • Not operating in “good faith”
    Repeated broken agreements with no apparent intention to change; lying; cheating; making excuses; justifying bad behavior; always blaming someone else.
  • Lack of effort or interest in you or the relationship
    Are they trying new things, new ways of looking a it, or even just continuing to try at all? If not, or if you seem to always be the one doing the work, it might be a sign that something more basic needs to change.
  • Complete and/or repeated failure to make or keep agreements
    Remember, once or twice is normal, but “forgetting” more than that is probably a bad sign.  Failure to keep Agreements after repeated attempts at re-writing is a very bad sign.
  • Contempt – “The sulfuric acid of love”
    According to John Gottman, one of the foremost researchers on marriage and long-term relationships, the single biggest predictor of failure in a relationship is contempt by one person for the other.  If they are belittling you, making mean fun of you, not taking your needs or wishes into consideration, non-consensually humiliating you, or otherwise demonstrating a lack of respect, you should definitely consider ending or changing the relationship.
  • Mental illness or addiction, especially untreated
    We don’t advise abandoning your mate or partner at the first sign of trouble.  However, sometimes illness or addiction prevent them from being able to change in ways that are vital to your health, theirs, and the health of the relationship.  If you suspect that this is the case, get outside assistance, possibly in the form of individual, couple, or group therapy.  Expert advice and perspective can be invaluable in helping you to figure out if this is a phase, something that can be treated or worked with, or if it is intractable and ultimately toxic to you.

Red Flags

  • Abuse: Physical, mental, or emotional
    Non-consensual physical, mental, or emotional torture is Not OK.  Get out, and get help immediately.  (If you’re not sure if you consented, that is itself at least a Yellow Flag. Get help figuring things out from a knowledgeable professional.)

Keep in mind that ending a relationship is not necessarily a “failure”

“Leslie and I are no longer married. Soul mates, to me, don’t define themselves by legal marriage. There’s a learning connection that exists between those two souls. Leslie and I had that for the longest time, and then a couple of years ago, she had this startling realization. She said, ‘Richard, we have different goals!’ I was yearning for my little adventures and looking forward to writing more books. Leslie has worked all her life long, and she wanted peace, she wanted to slow the pace, not complicate it, not speed it up. Not money, not family, no other men or other women, separated us. We wanted different futures. She was right for her. I was right for me. Finally it came time for us to make a choice. We could save the marriage and smother each other: ‘You can’t be who you want to be.’ Or we could separate and save the love and respect that we had for each other. We decided the marriage was the less important. And now we’re living separate lives.

“I believe that Leslie and I were led to find each other, led through the years we lived together, and led to part. There’s so much to learn! When a marriage comes to an end, we’re free to call it a failure. We’re also free to call it a graduation. We didn’t say, ‘I guess we weren’t led to each other, I guess we’re not soul mates after all.’ Our graduation was part of the experience we chose before we were born, to learn how to let each other go.”

Richard Bach (in his now defunct personal website, originally penned on Amazon.com)

(Jonathan Livingston Seagull is “a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules.”  Sound like anyone you know??)

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[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

[Next Entry: Agreements — Good Faith Efforts (2 of 3 on Caveats and Assumptions)

[Previous Entry: When Agreements Fail: Competency (1 of 3 on Caveats and Assumptions)]

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

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

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Click here to get personalized help with your own Agreements!

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C

Consorce — Alternative to Divorce, and/or Poly by Another Name?

Consorce is a new word derived from the Latin for “cohabitation.” It’s an alternative to “divorce” described in the article Don’t Get a Divorce, Get a ‘Consorce’.* Here’s an excerpt:

“The idea of married couples deciding on a ‘consorce,’ rather than a divorce, is this: Why should a couple split up the family funds, maintain two dwellings, involve the courts in their lives, hire attorneys and cause each other months or years of suffering when they could simply agree that the romantic part of their marriage has ended and that they will remain married and live together as friends and partners, in order to maintain a level of consistency for their children?”

Interestingly, the article insists that those who decide upon a ‘consorce’ arrangement are NOT engaged in an “open marriage,” because they are no longer having sex with one another. I find that an interesting position, and I’m not certain that I would agree.

Here are a few questions that occurred to me as I thought about this concept:

  • Is a ‘consorce’ ethical (especially for someone who originally vowed monogamy)?
  • Is it good for the children, because it keeps the family “intact”?
  • Might it be bad for the children, if, for instance, they remain exposed to volatile emotions, or tension in the home?
  • Is it necessary to lie to the children about what’s going on, to preserve the appearance of a “normal family”?  What about lying to school officials? Neighbors? Family and friends? Is that ethically justifiable?
  • Is a consorce another word for cheating or adultery?
  • Conversely, is it polyamory (or at least consensual non-monogamy or ‘designer relationships’) by another name?
  • Would a consorce be something to use a Time Limited Agreement on? Why or why not?

What do YOU think? As always, I welcome your input! Feel free to comment below, contact me here, or on my FB Page, Love Outside The Box!

~♥ Dawn

PS: One of the services I offer is that of creation of “Life Milestone Ceremonies,” such as weddings, relationship change rituals, baby blessings and other markers of significant life events. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to explore creating a handfasting, handparting, consorce agreement, or any other Agreement or ritual with one or more partners. I’m happy to help support you in having the life and relationships of your dreams!

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

[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]

*[Thanks to Eric C. in private communication for this interesting link!]

I

To Have Without Holding [a poem]

In my email today I found  a poem (authored by Marge Piercy), thanks to one of my fellow HAI L2 co-journeyers. It seems to me to express well one aspect of learning to love outside the box, in particular the box of “possessiveness.”

May you always “love consciously, conscientiously, concretely, constructively.”

~♥ Dawn

 

 

To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
you float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

~ Marge Piercy
From The Moon Is Always Female (Knopf, 1980)

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©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

 

Request for “Poly Reveal” Stories

Dear poly friends:

Do you or someone you know have a story about “coming out” about poly[/open/non-monogamous] to your primary/monogamous partner?  Are you/they willing to share that story with others? Joreth of The Inn Between is collecting these stories to show as examples to people who are beginning their poly journey from this sort of place.  See her contact info and more information below.

Thanks!

Dawn

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Joreth InnKeeper <joreth@techie.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 11:43 AM
Subject: [PLN] Poly Reveal Stories
To:

 

I’d like to collect a series of stories of people who discovered that they were interested in polyamory while currently involved in a monogamous relationship.  I’d like to hear about how you discovered you were interested in polyamory and how you brought up the subject to your spouse or partner, how they handled it, and maybe even how the transition went.I discovered polyamory while I was completely single, so this is not a topic I can speak on with any authority.  I’d like to hear the experiences of people who have gone through this.  I’d like to turn this collection into a public resource somehow, maybe as a collection of essays, or maybe just using examples woven into my own narrative.You can send them to me privately [… joreth@techie.com].  If you do not want to be named publicly, you can use a pseudonym or “anonymous”.  If you do not think you are a good writer, you can send me your story and ask me to re-write it on your behalf.  If you would like credit for your story, please include what name to attribute it to and include any other attributions you wish, such as website URL.We often talk about “coming out” to family, but we rarely talk about coming out to our long-term partners.  Usually, I only hear it in the context of newbies currently going through it, and rarely do I hear about it after everything has been resolved, so that newbies can see possible outcomes for their own journey.

~Joreth

joreth@techie.com

broom

Pardon Our Dust!

broomAs you may have noticed, I’m making some changes and updates around here. I’m hoping to clean up the site, and make a lot of things clearer.  Right now I’m trying a new WordPress Theme, and some of the menus may not work.  I’m hoping to get this sorted out soon! Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

In the meantime… I’ll be running some September Specials on my individual coaching. Check out the new, lower prices, on the Services Page.

And if you’re not sure if you want to work with me as a coach/counselor, remember that I offer a FREE mini-session (up to 1/2 hour), so we can see if it’s a good fit.

Contact me, and let’s talk!

e-mail: unchartedlove@gmail.com
phone: 510-686-3386

RIP Deanna Silverkrow: Another life that will never get better

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I thought today’s post would be the second one discussing reasons for having Agreements. I had it all written, posted, formatted and scheduled. But I’ve delayed it for day, because today I got some very bad news, and I need to write about it. It’s a bit long, but I feel that’s fitting in some ways, to balance out a life cut short.

 

The work of the individual, of the soul, is to engage in conscious integration, compassion, and internal dialogue, in order to bring these parts into harmonious interaction and balance.

A couple of years back, I was in a 9 month training program called Shamanic Soul Coaching™, created by Francesca Gentille.  This method is her own, created from her own personal experiences, and her experience with a number of other psychological and shamanic systems (e.g., Inner Voice Dialogue, Gestalt, Shamanic Depth Psychology, Shamanic Soul Retrieval, Jungian Psychotherapy, and Caroline Myss:Sacred Contracts.)  It also bears some resemblance to another system that Francesca did not study, called the Internal Family Systems Model. Each of these systems can work well for some people; each of them have their own flavor and particular applications. One thing all of them share, is that they agree that within each individual there are multiple parts to the Inner Reality. The work of the individual, of the soul, is to engage in conscious integration, compassion, and internal dialogue, in order to bring these parts into harmonious interaction and balance. It’s a journey that most people never complete, because there’s always some small way in which we can improve ourselves, treat others and ourselves more kindly, or communicate more clearly and compassionately. That said, as we engage in this work, through sessions with others, through training, and through our own daily practices, we gradually heal our traumas, and we become more whole and complete, happier, more alive, and more able to share our own gifts and talents with the world. Not an easy journey, but highly worthwhile.

Two years ago, I spent nine months in this training with a very special group of seven students. We became familiar with each others’ traumas; we grew to know each other well, and to understand our strengths and weaknesses. I consider my fellow students to be part of my “tribe,” and I care deeply about each of them. Two of them, “Deanna” and “Lilith” (the names by which they were known in their community), immediately took their training and followed their hearts to establish New Pagan Journeys, a pagan community and store in OR. I admired their courage in pursuing their dreams and passions so fully. On the way to Loving More‘s Poly Living conference in Seattle last year, I arranged a layover, and managed to see their store—though I almost missed my flight to do it! Deanna’s calm and good humor while facing the intense traffic was amazing, and we shared smiles in the sunshine of the drive, despite the tension.  It was the last time I would see her.

Today I found out from one of our fellow journeyers that about a month ago Deanna had taken her own life.

Continue reading

Oops! Road sign

Sometimes, Poly Sux (a request for list entries)

It’s been a challenging week, as you can see by the lack of posts. Real Life(tm) has gotten in the way of a lot of things.  So in the spirit of making lemons out of my lemonade, I have started a list of Why Poly Sux (sometimes).  It’s sort of the Anti-Affirmation list. An antidote to Poly-anna-ism, if you will.

Of course, there are many reasons why poly is GREAT as well, and I’ll get back to those soon.  But right now, I’m feeling curmudgeonly, and I need to get this out of my system!

Some of the items on the list are serious, some less so.  I hope at least a few are entertaining.

Enjoy.

(PS:  Feel free to send in your own Reasons Poly Sucks.  Maybe I’ll add them to the list!)

Why Polyamory Sux (Sometimes)

More partners means more jobs and bosses to worry about

With more partners, there are more funerals to attend

More competition for the good chocolates in the box

It’s WRONG.  It should be multi-amory, or polyphilia. But mixing Latin and Greek roots?  Wrong!

More laundry!!

Cover Wars!

Cold Showers.  Brrr

Valentine’s Day breaks the bank!

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: More parents = more brunches to attend when you’d really rather be asleep!

Doin’ the pee-pee dance because someone’s ALWAYS in the bathroom ahead of you

Fitting everyone in one vehicle

Movies–have you SEEN the prices these days???

 

I’m too tired to write more tonight. Your Turn!

~♥ Dawn

Q&A: Educational Resources on Poly, for Therapists

Capital Letter In the course of life, many people will eventually have need of finding a professional to help them with various emotional or mental health issues.  Because of the societal bias in favor of monogamy, those in polyamorous relationships or other forms of consensual non-monogamy often report that — depending in part on the area of the country in which they reside —  it’s difficult or impossible to find a qualified therapist who even understands about polyamory, let alone treats this relationship choice as a valid and potentially healthy option for relating.

Rubin and Adams (1978) “found that among those clients who had a sexually open marriage and sought therapy, 27% indicated that their therapists were nonsupportive of their nonmonogamous relationship. … Knapp (1975) noted that “the three greatest fears facing prospective alternative lifestyle clients were: therapists’ condemnation of their lifestyle, pressure to return to a ‘healthier’ form of marriage, and being diagnosed in terms of psychopathology” ([2] pp 15-16.) Continue reading