Open Relationships & Polyamory

  • What questions should you consider if you’re thinking of opening up your relationship?
  • What issues do couples commonly face when considering polyamory?
  • What is brainspotting?
  • What should solo polyamorous folks consider when dating couples?
  • Which dating sites are best for open relationships?

We’re joined by marriage and family therapist Joy Berkheimer who weighs in on these questions and shares her personal experience with swinging and polyamory.

Joy is a radical force for self-expression that helps women cultivate self-love, and empowers them to fully embody their sexuality so that they may become their best authentic and liberated selves.

To learn more about Joy, follow her on her Instagram or on the Joy Berkheimer website.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Sex and relationship advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your host Brandon Ware here with my lovely other half who’s dancing, Dr. Jess. I was really in the mood for this today. You’re grooving today. I heard a little scobbyed in the background. It makes me happy. That’s your jam. Mm-hmm. Literally, that’s your jam. And today, I’ve been up all morning talking about relationship deal breakers. Do you have any relationship deal breakers? Oh, I have a whole list. I have one that immediately comes to mind. What’s that? Smoking. Cigarettes. Cigarette smoking. I’d have a hard time with that. Other substances are acceptable. other substances totally fine. Because you like the smell of other ones, but you don’t like the smell of cigarettes. Yes. Yeah. You know, I had, I grew up with one parent who smoked on and off. And I remember that you just turned to them at some point and you’re like, listen, I love you and that’s going to kill you and I need you to stop. And they did. Yeah, I think I said that to somebody who wants to. They were very disciplined, though. My parents who smoked, like they would smoke in certain places and not in others. They never smoked in the house and they would smoke in certain social situations, but then quit in between for like a year. But I got it. that that’s a deal. But I mean, if you were to start, I wouldn’t really understand, especially why you’d start at this age. What if I started smoking cigars? Well, I mean, how often would you smoke them? This conversation is getting very detailed. Well, I’m just thinking that a lot of people smoke cigars once in a while. And so I wouldn’t always have to be around it. I don’t know. I don’t know, I really like the smell of a pipe. I was just gonna say, I love the smell of a pipe. My grandfather smoked a pipe and I was like, man, that smells good. Yeah, it’s sweet, sweet, but I think it still causes harm. Yeah, I think so. So we were talking this morning about the top relationship dealbreakers and they categorize them into six categories But what comes out on top for all types of relationships is Grossness okay, that’s a very vague topic. So do you want to give me some details? Like what was what was gross? So another study found that it’s basically if somebody has it disheveled or unclean appearance and then down the list There’s lazy too needy lacks of sense of humor lacks of sense of humor. I know all about that one Here’s one Have you ever You’ve seen me first thing in the morning? Speaking of disheveled, the first one? I know, but I still don’t leave you. I am unrecognizable. For the first like three hours of every day, it looks like somebody has smacked me in the face with a brick. I’m gonna post a picture of you on IG. Oh my gosh. In the morning where. You ever seen the wedding singer? That, there’s that one scene where the guy, he’s in the tidy whitey- No, he’s in like a leopard song. Underwear leopard print and he gets up. Yeah, that’s me, every day. Every single day. Okay, so if we go down the list, it’s disheveled or unclaimed? appearance, lazy, too needy, lacking a sense of humor, living more than three hours away from me. Hmm, okay. Listen, I’m Torontonian, so it’s 15 minutes max. Yeah, I was like, what? So that’s like essentially one person lives in Leslieville and the other person lives in King West? We cannot go far at all, yeah. Next down the line is bad sex, lack of self-confidence, too much TV or video games, low sex drive, stubborn, talks too much, go screw yourself, too quiet, blunt, doesn’t want kids, had kids, This is quite the list. Not athletic. Yeah, this isn’t my list. It doesn’t actually say athletic, not athletic. It actually does. Seriously? Yeah. So 9% of people say that being too athletic is a long term committed relationship deal breaker. Why did you leave him? He threw too tight of a spiral. Yeah. She just, she was way too good at tennis. So I’ll say it’s not that I want someone athletic, but I do love that we can do certain things together. But let’s say you weren’t into sports or you weren’t into the physical things that I’m into. I just do them on my own or with someone else. Like it’s not like I need you to do all of those things with me. And people report on an average of six deal breakers out of the 17 on the list. And it’s divided by gender, but it’s fairly close. It’s interesting. So 33% of men say that a lack of self confidence is a deal breaker versus 47% of women. And then the too much TV video games, 41% of women say that’s a deal breaker versus 25% of men. And then low sex drive. is a bit higher for men as well. So men say that a low-stress drive is a deal-breaker in 39% of cases versus 27% for women. Do you have any, do you have stats for every category? I do, what do you want to know? I’m going back to disheveled. Okay, so disheveled or unclean appearance. As you sit there with like your hair spiking up and I, I’m here in my t-shirt that I’ve been wearing. This was carefully crafted. I’ve probably been wearing this t-shirt for four days inside the house whenever I come in. It’s my inside shirt. It’s my inside shirt. I don’t wear it out. That means I can wear it 21 days in a row. I don’t sweat inside. Listen, I’m not the one who broke the washing machine and can’t do laundry. Yes, I did that. I don’t have an excuse for that. We’ve been without a washing machine. You make it sound like I kicked it. It just broke. How long has it been broken? Two weeks. Has it been two weeks? We’re getting a new one today. I mean, listen, I got seven pairs of underwear. That’s 14 solid days inside and out. Just turn them around. Well, if I am among the 71% of women who consider disheveled or unclean appearance as a deal breaker, you’re gone. You’re boring. You’re boring. You’re boring. All right, we got, we got to get to the task at hand because today’s topic’s an interesting one. We’re going to be talking about polyamory and before we welcome our esteemed guest, a quick shout out to Love Honey because they’ve got some really good sales on. Not only do they have a massive clearance sale going on right now, some of my favorites are on sale. So the Womanizer Starlet 2 Clatorial Dr. Jess 15. They also have the womanizer duo on sale for 30% off and again you can still use that additional code and then if you’re interested in a good quality but fairly affordable prostate massager, the desire luxury prostate massager is 50% off. So we’ll put these, yeah we’ll put these in the show notes as well. Go tickle your bum. But here’s not just your bum but your prostate. Your prostate, go milk that. The other thing about prostate play is that the toys that are designed for prostate can also be used on the internally through the vaginal wall against the G spot But here’s the one that I’m excited about because I think it’s already well priced and it’s 30% off the we vibe tango Lipstick five so super high quality. It’s the original tango There’s a newer one now called the tango X but the original tango is 30% off and again love honey calm code Dr. Jess 15. All right, let’s get chatting joining us today is Joy Burkheimer marriage and family therapist, dating coach, sexologist, author, speaker, doctoral student, a radical force for self-expression. Joy helps women to cultivate self-love and empowers them to fully embody their sexualities so that we can become the best, authentic, and liberated selves. Thank you so much for being here, Joy. Now, you are a marriage and family therapist. You’re a sexologist. You’re a dating coach. You’re an author. You’re a speaker. You’re about to be a doctor. You’re almost done that PhD. Tell us first and foremost, what’s your research focusing on for your doctoral dissertation? Absolutely. So I found as a person of color in the BIPOC community that there’s not a lot of resources for us to explore just our sexuality in general that really is speaking to just us or making it, I guess, one comfortable in the space of it’s okay to even speak about that. And so my research is on the barriers that we have to being able to be authentically sexual sensual, right? and bisexual because of just the cultural norms that we have in our culture, like just stopping anyone from wanting to really explore that our religious backgrounds and also just the history of women of color and people of color being sexualized in such a way that it was almost like we were taught, just don’t be sexual at all. Like just you’re not a sexual being, you’re just this thing over here. So my book kind of talks about what those barriers are. And then I have actually created therapeutic modality specifically to work with my clients who are exploring their sexuality, their relationship dynamics to be able to organically move to that spot. I use a lot of things in terms of like, let’s say like chakra therapy or theory, brain spotting. What I wanted to do was a combination of things that are clinical, things that are spiritual, because also culturally that aligns with us in terms of being open to therapy and wanted to do research on really the psychological things that happen, just being a person of color. We have a and recognize. So I want to help women have a voice. So my project has a lot of letters, like personal letters from women of color in different parts of their transition of like coming out and why they couldn’t and things like that. We really, everybody wants to be seen and heard. So I wanted to create something like that because I haven’t seen it exist. So you mentioned a couple of modalities in there. So can you tell us just a little bit about chakra therapy and brain spotting? Oh yeah. So the chakras, there are several chakras, but the ones that we primarily on would be the seven chakras that we have down our center. So even if you’re not somebody who is into like spirituality or energetic things, just a psychological or a scientific view, you can look at each of the chakras representing parts of our personality, parts of challenges that we have in our lives, right? You know, the heart chakra, everyone is going to automatically know like, oh, that’s about love, but it’s about like our ability to receive love, our ability to give love. And there are traumas that can happen that will stop us could have something that is not flowing. You’re not able to live fully in your life because of old stories, narrative. And so I work with my clients around those narratives within the framework of the chakras. It’s an easy way to organize it, to clear these things out and have them really step up as themselves. In terms of brainspotting, I fell in love with that during COVID. That in and of itself was traumatic, the pandemic being like in the house, being disconnected, being lonely. And so a lot of us came together at one time to start taking some brainspotting certification courses brain spotting is actually a neurobiological intervention. So it’s not just talk therapy. And we are able to find where you are holding a memory, whatever we talk about. It could be a traumatic memory, it could be a positive one, but based off of the reactions that you have with the tool that I use, I can say, okay, this is where it is, I can help process it. And the results of it are actually your brain creating new pathways, new neural pathways. So the next time you come back to that memory, it’s a different experience for you. to be the same reactivity that maybe you had in the past. And you feel, it’s like exhaling basically. So I love combining those things to really give an impact to the people I work with. And what is the tool that you use for brain spotting? How are you identifying where these memories are held? Yeah, I use a pointer. So this is just be one, I mean, it’s a flagpole, but it’s a pointer, right? You can make whatever you want. I can make it as big as I want. But I’m able to basically look at your facial responses, your body responses, whether I’m in person or virtually, I can see what’s happening for you to know up and so that’s where I need to stop. I kind of set it up asking specific questions to figure that out but once I see your reactivity we can stop there and I just allow my client to process. You must have to do a lot of training and observation of like the visual piece in terms of facial expression. Some people are really I think adept at that. Some people like me often miss areas like that. Let’s go to the specific intervention you’re talking about. So you’ve talked about you said you’re creating some sort of specific modality in order to work through in order to let people be who they are, find their true selves, express their true selves. So you’ve mentioned three areas, talk therapy, brain spotting, and chakra therapy. Am I missing any? Is there more to it? Um, in terms of chakra therapy, or just the chakra theory in general, that’s gonna include things like Tantra yoga. So I also have a yoga piece that’s a part of the project, a part of the book, so that if they want to align chakras, they can utilize certain yoga poses and mudras as well. So all of those things are together I don’t have to go to a therapy office, but maybe I would, because I see this person who wrote this book, and she’s normalizing it, she’s a therapist, right? So this could be like the gateway to getting more help and normalizing mental health care. So those in combination, the modality that I have created is called FAR therapy, which is freedom, acceptance, and relationships therapy. So. Excellent. All right, so we’ll be learning more about that intervention, and hopefully there’ll be more research in the area so that it’s not just you to learn it, but you’ll be hopeful. spreading it so that you can train other therapists and I imagine you’ll be doing that through your school as well. Excellent. All right so now that we’ve learned just a little bit about your background and your research I want to talk to you about some specific topics because you do specialize in your therapy practice and your specialty. Could you tell us what your specialty area is? Yes I specialize in working with partners, individuals, couples who identify as polyamorous who are either wanting to step into their polyamorous dynamic or emotional ups and downs that come with that, understanding boundaries, understanding themselves. One of the things that we really get in the community, just I would say in the E&M or ethical monogamy community is if anything, you will learn so much more about yourself with this process because you’re forced to. You know, I’m not, if whoever is monogamous, that is fine. I’m not, not, not. But there are certain constructs that are set up where there are questions that you don’t have to ask so to speak. You don’t want to offend your partner. There’s a certain things you don’t say. desires, you’re just like, Oh, these are the rules. This is what we do. But when you are in a polyamorous space, we can kind of make our poly what we want to make it. You have to ask the questions and you have to talk about what you feel because you being affected by something will affect you and all the other partners involved, right, that energy spreads to everybody. So I specialize in working with that because people don’t necessarily understand how much work goes into it. And the other piece of it is going to be the sex therapy, intimacy therapy and helping people really align with their erotic embodiment. their their own sensuality. As a therapist you sound a little bit like a one-stop shop because you have a background in all of these areas. It really is so holistic when you think about it because I think there’s been this pressure over the years from the powers that be that you stay in your lane right a mental health practitioner is a mental health practitioner and we can’t be you can’t be talking about yoga you can’t be talking about spirituality and sort of vice-versa so I think the marriage or the combination of all these modalities can be so effective and also welcome people into the space who perhaps would have been resistant in the past. So tell me a little bit about the polyamorous folks who are coming to you. So for example, what are you seeing most commonly when a couple comes to you and says, I think we want to open up our relationship? That they have a different idea of what it means to be polyamorous. Typically, it’s either going to be that one person is okay with more so being open. Like, yes, we can go and we can be physical with other people. You just can’t text them. You can’t like them, which is not the point. Like, that’s what a lot of people want. And then the other one’s like, well, I think I want to actually, have a relationship with somebody or they both agree that they just want to be physical. And then they realize that they like this person that they connected with and they start to have emotions, they start to deny it. So then they’re struggling with themselves. They’re kind of shutting down a little bit. Their partner’s trying to figure it out. Their partner’s maybe making assumptions because again, they’re not asking all the questions. It’s more accusation. You don’t want me anymore or you want this and it’s not discussion. So I see a lot of that, like just a lot of the assumptions, jealousy is a thing for everybody. Some people feel like, oh, if you’re just a person. jealous you can’t be polyamorous. Jealousy is a normal, we’re all gonna have jealousy. We just have to figure out how to manage it. There was actually a study on the polyamorous community and jealousy and they were looking at, well, who thinks about jealousy more? Is it monogamous people or people who are polyamorous? And it was actually people who are polyamorous, but the reason behind that was they’re thinking about it more and they’re talking about it more and they’re processing it, opposed to someone else who’s thinking about it, making the assumptions, having control over someone else the end of it. I’m supposed to have this control. You’re supposed to do this. With Polyamorous Partners, you come together and you talk about those hard feelings and you also don’t make your partners responsible for making you feel better. It’s like, I want you to know why I’m presenting this way, but it doesn’t mean you have to hold this bag. But I want you to get what’s going on for me. So, and then I have to learn to self-sude. I have to educate myself. And it really sounds like the difference between feeling a feeling and avoiding a feeling or denying a feeling or believing that we can eradicate a feeling kind of. If we could eradicate feelings, we’d just be billionaires. Listen, if I can get rid of sadness, if I can get rid of hopelessness, similarly with jealousy, it’s normative, it’s functional. So when you have couples coming to you, let’s start with that first, I mean, you mentioned a couple of dynamics there, but one dynamic I’m hearing is this idea that we can protect the relationship by ensuring that any outside relationships are only sexual and devoid of emotion. Every human interaction is underscored by emotion. There’s nothing we do. I’m feeling emotional now. It may not be like, I love you want to be with you for the rest of my life, but I feel something toward you and with you as I interact with you. So first and foremost, I guess my question is, why do we believe that if we leave the emotional piece out, we will safeguard the existing relationship? And is it possible to leave emotion out? Or is it really more about how we structure relationships like I care about you, I respect you, I like you, I can even love you, but I’m not going to have an intimate relationship with you? we can leave the love out is, I mean, I’ve heard it come out of people’s mouths that they wholeheartedly feel like, I love my partner so much, there is no way. I don’t even think about anybody else. Like I cannot experience this feeling again. They feel like it is just physically, physiologically just not possible for them to do that, right? So that’s probably why people feel that way. And also, because we were taught like, when you’re in love, that’s like, that’s it. Like that’s your person. We were also told that when somebody is really in love with you, they don’t have a desire to shit. They don’t want anything else. if they do, it’s because they don’t love you, right? And so that’s the big thing, like, oh, it’s not possible. And the thing around, the second question around, like, us being intimate with others, can we, like, you know, I think you’re asking about like the structure and things like that. Yes, we can have a structure that has boundaries, I guess, right, and kind of put to scope around what the relationship is. I personally do not feel like you cannot have, as you were saying, an emotional connection with somebody. And I’m pretty straightforward. I do support groups as well. They come to my groups I’m gonna give it. Like, yeah, you were with this person more than twice. I’m sorry, I forget about it. Like, are you gonna tell me that if they call tomorrow or you find out tomorrow that they were mugged, you’re like, I don’t care. That’s not a thing. You are gonna care, right? Like, you’re gonna be concerned. So people try to put these things together and make it safe, right? It’s the control thing. It’s the anxiety. And I have to be very transparent and clear with them. Like, I hear what you’re trying to do, but I’ve done this enough with enough people and myself to know like, that’s not a thing. So how else can we do this? that because what’s gonna happen is you’re setting yourself up to be angry at your partner, that they betrayed you for having feelings. So what they do is they just deny the feelings. Then we get into a space of they’re having these feelings and they feel like they have to do things behind your back. And then we’re right back where, you know, we were in that space of like, I don’t want anybody to cheat. Let’s kind of make our relationship this way. But that’s what ends up happening because there’s still that restriction that’s there. And that’s not to say that people can’t have casual sex. It’s just that as you have casual sex, you’re hopefully gonna care about that person. You don’t have to love them. the intimate way. They don’t have to move in with you. You don’t have to share finances. You don’t have to have kids with them. So we’re not suggesting that people can’t have casual sexual relationships, but simply that hopefully there’s some care, some human connection that goes into it. So what do you do when a couple heads out hoping to only have casual sex and then somebody feels some attachment to another partner? Again, they may not want them to move in with them, but I think because there is this restriction you’re this, you know, when, when we restrict thoughts and when we restrict feelings, it only intensifies their materialization, right? We know that. So if they catch feelings or they feel attached, are you finding that they do end up hiding it from their partner? And how do you navigate that more effectively? If your emotional reaction to opening up is different than you had anticipated or different than you had planned for. Yeah. First of all, they, yes, they try to hide it in the beginning, but eventually it doesn’t work. It’s that new relationship energy. can help it. I do request that my new relationship energy people please do not come home skipping like please manage it a little bit. Thank you. But what typically will happen is either somebody will implement a control thing that again, we’re comfortable with which is everything has to stop. And so this additional this other person kind of can be harmed because of that because somebody you know, what couples privilege so to speak, like someone just pulled out and said, I don’t care how you feel about it. This is my relationship. It’s over. So the technical term for that would if a partner cannot manage all the things that are happening, like, okay, let’s just slow down for a minute, let’s come back and regroup, which is okay, right? But doing things like veto, you know, a veto power saying, like just cutting off another, one partner cutting off another partner or forcing someone to cut off another partner is not really a healthy thing. It is something that couples you do a lot will agree to it because in the beginning it’s something that makes them comfortable while they’re transitioning. But I see that that often changes. People will say things like, we can never do overnight, kind of thing, and it eventually moves something up. But I suggest having a regular check-in. It doesn’t have to be kitchen table poly, which is when all partners, metamores come together and make decisions, but you cannot have the expectation that the way that you started is going to be the way that it is in six months or a year. The expectation is that your relationship is always going to evolve. You evolve, so your relationship will evolve. So if we have the expectation, it’s not like how dare you want something different, it’s expected talk about the things that we now realize. I also let people know that when they do set boundaries, it’s fine, but that their boundaries will change and that they will make each other angry because they’re going to set a boundary and their partner’s going to go out and do the thing that was agreed upon and then they’re going to hate it, realize they hate it, and then they’re going to say, how could you do that? You should have known like, what? You talked about it. So you’re going to be angry. Just be okay with that point and recognize you can still come back and have a discussion about it. You know what I’m hearing here is that you can plan all you want, you can talk all you control how you’re going to respond in the short or long term. So there needs to be flexibility. I appreciate that you’re recommending a check-in. And when you talk about veto power, so some people will be very familiar with all the terms and some people perhaps less so. Veto power, for example, if we decide to open up and I’m allowed to say to Brandon, no, you need to cut that person off. It makes me think a little bit about parents and teenagers when they say you’re not allowed a boyfriend, you’re not allowed a girlfriend, you’re not allowed to see that person. feelings nor behavior right behind the back. They’re probably going to go and see that person. I don’t mean that’s the same for adults. Adults can respect relationships in a different way. But certainly, I remember kind of growing up a little, almost that I wasn’t allowed a boyfriend or wasn’t allowed to date, but that certainly didn’t change whether or not I felt something for somebody, right? The attraction didn’t wane, the connection didn’t wane, the closeness didn’t wane. So here’s another dynamic that tends to come up. And I know you talk about this all the time. when you open up and one partner is really really into it and then the other partner decides to pull back they say You know what this actually isn’t for me because we tell people that just because you do one thing doesn’t mean that you have To be on an escalator right so I had one new partner. Therefore. I must have three new partners five new partners We tell people that it’s flexible that you can pull back that you can change your mind that you can adjust your boundaries and At the same time we also know that your partner and you can end up on different tracks and this applies regardless of whether you’re monogamous or polyamorous, because I do think people think, oh, we can avoid this by staying monogamous. So what do you do when you open up and then you find yourselves not on the same page? Have a decision to make, you know? It’s either going to be a compromise if that’s something that you’re open to and everyone isn’t necessarily open to it. It’s like saying to somebody who has told you, like, this is my sexual orientation and you want me to compromise it. I don’t understand, right? Some people feel that they’re poly by choice So for them, they’re like, well, I can pull back. So I think it depends on the partners and kind of like why they got in it. But it’s a discussion. You can compromise or you can come to the understanding that this is not gonna work for us. And I know that that’s super scary for monogamous couples. They’re like, we have this guarantee. We have this piece of paper that says for Mary, we’re gonna ignore all the statistics about divorce. Like that’s not a thing. We’re definitely gonna be together forever. So we’re not gonna do this thing. It’s just a truth. And there are plenty of couples who are still not sure married, right? Like technically legally married. But they also made those decisions that they were going to live separate lives because they recognize who they are and what they needed. People have desire. People do recognize, even without, I would say, intellectually recognizing about your body, your spirit recognizing that pleasure is really an innate need that we have. It’s not an option. Like we came to experience a lot of things. That’s also why we experienced like other things. So we have to have that dynamicism. But people are gonna make it, they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do. Even if I pause it for a little bit, and I tell you, okay, I understand how you feel. At some point in time, human beings are gonna find a way to do what they need to do. They’re either gonna do it ethically, or not. Right. And I guess that’s the dividing line, because there are so many people who continue to conflate ethical non monogamy with cheating. We just had a main broadcaster here in Canada post about ethical non monogamy and about opening up are just, well, that’s cheating. That’s cheating. That’s cheating. When in fact, it’s really the opposite of, and I think that, you know, folks here, listeners really do differentiate between the two. So what I’m hearing from you is that you can’t always work it out. And that is a really scary thing for people. And so I think that makes a lot of people who might be inclined toward opening up, avoidant of it, because there’s this fear. If we open up, we’ve got this can of worms and something could go awry. But I think it’s important to remember that in monogamy, things go awry all the time. So there is no protective in terms of relationship arrangement that is going to ensure that you are stable and together and fulfilled forever However, many of the tools that I’m hearing that come out of polyamory can be used in all relationship arrangements as not a guarantee but as a means of safeguarding and what I’m hearing from you is that it really is about conversations Communication that is vulnerable. So let me ask you. What are some of the questions? folks who are perhaps early stages of opening up or they’re back to kind of square one because they disagreed or they just are not so sure they’re just pulling back. Where do we begin? What are some of the questions that you ask in your programs, in your support groups, and of course that I know will come out in your upcoming book? Well, the first question I want to know is about your actual relationship and the status of it. Is it a relationship that’s already built on healthy foundations, right? Why do you want to open your relationship? Are you doing this to We fight a lot, we should have a baby kind of thing. It just needs more diapers. Let’s have triplets. It’s like this. You will be distracted, but still angry. It’s just what it is. Are you doing this because you want to add something to your relationship that enhances it, that enhances your experience altogether? Are you healthy individually? That’s important because so much comes out about your insecurities when you start to do this. One of the books that I think is just unavoidable at this point in time that recommend to everybody is poly secure. So anyone who’s doing this needs to read it. Our attachment styles are things that affect us, you know, no matter what your relationship dynamic is, but this does force you to look at what your partner’s dynamics are, how maybe you’re triggering your partner and how you are triggered. And then again, being accountable for how you can start to self soothe and change your narrative around how people are loved, how you are loved, how people see you, that kind of thing. So I really want to know the health of the couple because they can start to, it’s just going to highlight the insecurities that you have. It’s going to highlight the issues that you have when you start to add something else to it. It does not make it better. And on top of it, you now poured some possible toxicity into somebody else’s life. The other questions I guess I want to know is like, what is your ideal relationship dynamic? Because polyamory again, has a very broad definition, you know, is the ability to or the desire to have intimacy with more than one person, right? So what is intimacy that can look different for one person in another, what if you have, what if you’re asexual? Can you be polyamorous? Yes, you can be polyamorous, right? So I want to understand who you are in terms of your dynamics, like what, what this looks like, what needs are going to be met by you opening your relationship in this way. And just, are you open to like the flexibility that we were talking about? And are you open to educating yourself on a continuous basis because things do shift and change? So those are primarily going to be the questions. And of course, I’m going to know if they’re on the same page with their dynamic. And what about for single folks? So for solo polyamorous folks, for folks who are single and thinking of getting involved with a couple, because you mentioned the term couples privilege, we’re even speaking from that perspective, which is probably my own bias. And I imagine that’s a lot of what you’re seeing in your practice. What should single folks, solo folks be considering if they’re going to enter into a relationship with an existing couple? They really want to know if both partners wanted this, if somebody was coerced. Right? I kind of clipped them with the questions to ask to see if both parties are genuine about this and kind of guide them in establishing their relationship separate relationships, you know, like individual relationships, like you say, with each of those partners to really get a gauge as to what’s happening But then that goes back to what do you want to have? You can be solo Polly and actually just want to be in a relationship with one part of the couple. I so recently in one of the support groups a young lady She broke up with their new girl because she felt that the girl, the female was more attracted to her husband. And because the way that she was acting. By the way, both of them have never been with women, these two women, right? This is their first time. They knew they were attracted to women. So kind of giving a little bit of an education of we have this programming of our heteronormative society, right? You’ve never done this before. She knows how to be with your husband. She knows what it is to like lay into a man and do all these things. And she’s learning how to do this with you. That doesn’t minimize her attraction. to you. But then the other reality is, you know what that happened? Sometimes one person is more attracted to the other, and that’s okay. Are you okay with it? So those would be questions that I would ask, like, is this going to be a deal breaker? If this person has a different energy with your partner than they do with you? And the reality of it is any of the partners that I have, I mean, the relationships I have with them are completely different, because I’m also not looking for clones of my nesting partner, like I want them to be different. So I talk about that, like, are you going to be okay with that? that difference in different relationships. Yeah, there is this pressure to be equally attracted to or equally drawn to. And when we think about that in the context of any other type of relationship, whether it’s having multiple kids or having multiple friends or having different siblings, we have very different relationships with each of those people. And I guess it really comes down to, we live in a mono-normative society and there is this idea that it is the one. And if we’re gonna open it up to a two three or four or nine, we feel like it has to have the exact same value and the exact same format when in fact that’s not realistic for most people, right? There are many people for example who are polyamorous who only have one partner, right? You can identify as polyamorous and say I don’t have the space whether practically, emotionally, in my little house, financially, do have so many partners. So I think the next question people really have is we’ve had the conversations, we know that they’re not one-shot deals. conversations in all relationships, regardless of whether monogamous or polyamorous, they are ongoing. They are lifelong lessons are lifelong. We’ve never figured it out, right? Like we’ve got this great relationship and then tomorrow we might not and we need to work on it again and we know that’s how it goes. So the next step after all those conversations is we start looking. So I think that on a recent IG live, you said that you use Tinder and other dating sites to meet partners. Can you share what sites you use? maybe tips on how to disclose your poly status when dating. I’d love to hear just a little bit of not only your tips, but also your story, because you’re speaking from an expert perspective and you’re obviously so well equipped with all these layers and layers of modalities, but also you’re experienced. And I think that’s something that is going to draw people to you as a source of support and insight. So I guess I’ll start with my, I’ll start with a little bit of my story and then I’ll kind of go into the dating, which is, was just tricky admittedly, but we can do it. I was in a, I was recently divorced and I had been, I was in a relationship that was quite restrictive. I actually wanted to be a sex therapist during my masters and everything like that, but I wasn’t allowed. Like that’s how restrictive it was. I couldn’t do anything that was like sensual in my life. So after this divorce, I was in a space of dating really probably for the first time as like an adult, like enjoying that whole scene. And I knew that I always knew I was bisexual, also something that I wasn’t really able to enact in my previous relationship. and I knew who I wanted to connect with. And so the person I was dating, I liked him enough. And I was like, I just wanna let you know this is what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna have a girlfriend. So I go, why can’t we do it together? I was like, oh, so that’s kind of how that happened. I compromised, it was just hard for us for people, but I did it, okay. And so we explored, it wasn’t actually polyamory at first. We actually explored the lifestyle to see what the community was like and he did a lot of that and I went and I explored and I recognized my style of connecting is that I actually have to have an emotional connection with somebody to be able to be intimate with them. So although I love the community, I love how friendly everyone is and we got a lot of friends, I was really not able to be intimate because it just wasn’t my thing. So once I recognized that, I started dating, maybe using Bumble, Tinder, Field though is an app specifically for people who are open-minded. the umbrella of ethically non-monogamous. It could be kink, it could be poly, it could be monogamous. Every dynamic you can think of, that’s there. So myself alone and with my partner, we’ve utilized these different apps and that’s how we would connect with someone. At some point in time, we did have a triad, which was beautiful while it was beautiful. And I decided to actually do parallel poly. So that’s what that’s the dynamic I have right now. And so that means me dating on I can’t speak too, too much for the men. I can tell you that for men, they have a little bit more of a difficulty. People might feel like they are just saying that they’re open because they’re really cheating on their wife or their girlfriend, like you gotta prove it kind of thing. Or what will happen is my partner might find somebody who really likes him because he’s a very likable, lovable, handsome guy. And they think that they can step into this open poly world and they like him so much. They’re like, yeah, but why don’t you just be with me? So then we have to deal with that thing. And for myself, I have to navigate a lot and it’s unfortunate, but it is you can do it. You want to be clear that you are either polyamorous or you could just say ethically non-monogamous, what you’re looking for, and what I’ll get is people having the assumption like, oh, she just likes to have sex with everybody. So, hey, when I get together and have sex, like, that’s absolutely not what I want to do. I, you know, I would have said that’s what I wanted to do, or they will be, I guess, calm for a little bit, but eventually their goal is like, I’m just, I’m going to have sex with this person because that’s what she came for. So, have to be aware of their assumptions so that you are consistently reiterating who you are and who you are not. It’s a little bit more work, maybe. I mean, I’m sure there’s, even if you’re monogamous, there’s people who just want to sleep with you, right? But I usually connect with people who say they want to date, they want to be in a relationship. But it’s, it’s almost like, well, I could just do this thing until I find like the real relationship person that I’ll bring home. Like, yeah, no, that’s not what I’m going to do. So I’ve gotten better at being able to have the someone know like I’m not gonna do that either and again there’s nothing wrong with that do not get me wrong like you can be casual as much as you want I just know that’s not how I’m built so. So you mentioned the app field which I’ll just remind people and we’ll put it we’ll put in the show notes F E E L D and that is an app for people who are thinking outside the box and so I imagine there it’s a little bit easier to communicate what you’re into like if you put the word the letters E N M ethical non monogamy people are gonna know what that is but if you’re on Tinder or you’re on Bumblebee. How are you indicating your interests there? Where do you put it? Right in my profile, some people don’t put it. I’ve had people in this court group say, how do I say anything to anyone? Or I don’t say anything and I just, I figure out whether or not I actually like them and then I tell them. I just, this is a horrible idea. It’s literally like telling, it’s like catfishing almost. So this person thinks that they’re building this relationship with their potential wife. people are really serious out there. Like they’re, especially depending on your age range, like I’m 42. So people are looking for a certain thing. And if you don’t tell them that they’re the only one or that they’re not the only one, this is an issue. So I want to be transparent and honest, just the same way I want people to be transparent and honest with me about what it is that they’re looking for. So I put it right on my profile. There’s no confusion. And if anyone has questions about it, I will answer. I actually asked, did you actually read my profile? Because that also is a thing where if you have a pretty enough face or a handsome enough face and a beard, especially a beard, they’re just gonna swipe. They’re not gonna reach your foot. You’re just like, oh, okay. So I kind of make sure like you write all this and you understand this, right? And my conversation, not to try to overwhelm them, but I want them to understand my dynamic. And yeah, I’m pretty clear about it, especially with my work, it’s easier for me to be able to talk about it. And are you on multiple apps? I’m just thinking about people who really don’t know where to begin. I think field is a good place to begin. I would think it might be hard for people who are less experienced to try and do this on Tinder or Bumble? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I would agree it is going to be easier on field, but I’m trying to think. What my experience was of field was if you’re looking for an individual, sometimes it’s more difficult. There’s a lot of couples, especially as a female. People are looking for like a single woman or an individual woman. And so that’s just, again, for me, I’m not going to say it’s for everybody. So that’s the reason that I’m on Tinder or Bumble. I think I’m not using Bumble right now. the same people are on the app. That’s the reason why I’m like, there’s no piece to do all those. You find them all. But feel it’s going to be in an episode. Sorry, I said you find them all. You do. You do. Yeah. So one last question. I know that you do all sorts of work. So it’s not only among polyamorous people. And I think that all of the exercises, all of the conversations and all of the practices to deepen your connection apply regardless of whether you’re monogamous, non-monogamous, whether you’re in the lifestyle, whether you’re polyamorous. So can you suggest an exercise or that folks can do to deepen intimate connection regardless of relationship status or arrangement? My go-to is always going to be any sort of tantric practice because with tantra it is really about you connecting to your intuitive self, right? And your intuitive self can be in different ranges of sensuality, eroticism, that kind of thing, but connecting to your truth and you could of course do this as an individual and you can do this as a couple or partners. So one specific thing out of Tantra that I love because I recently started teaching a perfectionism and sex group and I talk about a couple of tantric practices that Barbara, I don’t know how to say it, urban tantra, she has an urban tantra. So eye gazing. I love eye gazing. So just from a practice of knowing self and loving self, accepting yourself, right? So if you’re an individual and you want to just sit in the mirror and do eye gazing, you can do this, you can look at yourself beyond your body beyond. know this package that we come in and look at yourself as this divine being, right? And you sit there for a while, you can ask yourself some questions. I love one of the exercises that she has, which is pretty much asking how I love myself and what am I going to do for myself? Like, if I really did love myself, what would I be doing differently? What kind of boundaries would I have for myself? How would I treat myself? And the eye gazing for couples or partners I love is called the position of recognition, where you are holding your hands opposite with your partner. So one. hand, I guess the right hand goes palm up for one partner and the left hand goes palm down and then your opposite sort of holding. Correct. Okay. For the folks who don’t get the visual. Yeah. And this, this is coming from a tantric energetic space, you’re giving and receiving this love and this honor, right? And gazing into your eyes and what it talks about is gazing into the left eye, the windows of your soul, but the left eye specifically. And just being in that I’ll have someone say that I’m gonna giggle and of course you do, right? But At some point, everything is sort of quiet. And I get to see you for like this light that you really are and this love. For me, we’re all built of love. Like that’s really what it is. And we have all these other stories and stuff that got stuck to us as we kept going. But really we’re just pure love. And I wanna see that, I wanna experience that. I wanna make love to that. So I’ll do that with my partners before we actually are intimate to kind of set our mood, right? So that’s something that anybody can do. I love, I love I get it. That’s really beautiful both of those so we’ll challenge people to go give that a try I mean I think whether you have a partner or not to be able to look yourself in the eye in the mirror and ask yourself what you’re gonna do for yourself Because you love yourself or what you would do if you that’s that’s powerful I think that some people can take that on today and other people will probably end up waterworks today With that and any reaction of course without judgment is cool. I also think about the eye gazing with a partner It is so incredibly powerful and I love the hands on top of hands as an extra source of connection and energy and doing that not for the purposes of just getting laid I think a lot of people think like oh, we’re gonna do this and then we’re gonna have sex But just to feel something to reset I’ll tell you like it’s early in the morning right now And I’ve already been running around like mad up since early and that reset is something that I’m I’m craving like when you’re describing It my body is craving it, but also I’ll be honest. I’m sort of avoidant of it I’m like do I really want to sit in my I guess true self right now Do I really want to stop and feel what’s going on in my body? and and it’s a reminder that I’m under stress and I probably need it more than ever. So thank you so much for that. We are looking forward to your graduation coming up because you’re about to be Dr. Joy. Your upcoming books, we’re gonna share your IG and all of your notes or all of your handles and links in our show notes. Thank you so much for joining us to share your insights. Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun. So I’m trying to think of there’s anything else that was important that I wanted to share. I don’t think there is. to be able to talk about this, to like just give polyamory kind of a different view and hopefully other people will have a different understanding of what actually goes on before they step into it or while they’re in it thinking this is just impossible, right? It is doable but it’s work. Anything good is work though. Absolutely and we will have to have you back because I’d really like to talk about the specifics of like what to do when your metamores don’t get along, what happens when you add someone to your group who maybe isn’t a fit, so another time a conversation for another day. That’d be great. All right, so thank you so much and please enjoy your beautiful crisp air of there. It’s awful, it’s awful. All right, that was a great conversation. Yeah, I really enjoyed that. I thought there was a lot that we covered. Yeah, and I think you can go do that mirror exercise. You have to look in the mirror and say to yourself, Yeah, I mean, if I really did love myself, what would I be doing for myself? And I immediately thought there’s so many ways for me to take that question and apply it to parts of my life, like personally, professionally. When I think about my work, I think about my friends, about emotionally. And yeah, I think that I could really get deep there. I could. Yeah, because you’re hard on yourself. I’m super hard on myself. You have the, yeah, you’re tough on yourself. I, on the other hand, love myself a lot. Like, if I really love myself, I will eat this. If I really love myself, I will drink this. If I really love myself, I will reach for my vibrator instead of doing my work right now. Although- That’s great. Although emotionally, I think I could be better to myself. You sent me a post the other day from, who was a real talk therapist. Tasha Bailey and Their post was great. Just the idea of your fairy god person. Who is that person that’s cheering you on? Who’s that person that and and that to me really resonated? So I’m gonna take this question here if I really did love myself What would I be doing for myself? And I’m gonna take that fairy god mother idea and apply it to different aspects of my life and and just to think about what I Could be doing to just boost that self-esteem that self-confidence because I think I don’t have much of it I don’t have an internal cheerleader. I thought you’re gonna say I don’t have much of it. I don’t have much of it. I don’t. I didn’t buy any self confidence. I didn’t buy. I missed out on that when it was for sale. On the prime day. Yeah, on the prime. So no, I’m definitely going to do this activity and I’m curious as to where it will take me. All right. Okay. So you’re going to report back next week. Folks, Brynn, and first of all, thank you for chatting. Thanks for joining. Thank you. Quick reminder at They’ve got the tango on sale. They’ve got the desire prostate, remote control prostate massager on sale. duo and they have the womanizer starlet to rechargeable clitoral section stimulator, although I wish they would shorten that. It’s the womanizer starlet too. 30% off except the prostate one is 50% off and you can save extra with Dr. Jess 15 at That’s all she wrote folks wherever you’re at. Hope you have a great one. You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, improve your sex life, improve your life.

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