Polyamory-Friendly Professionals Directory

I’m glad to be listed in this directory, which includes a number of colleagues here in Seattle and in the State of Washington. Having a Polyamory-Friendly Professionals Directory is both a reflection of need, as well as how widely practiced poly is becoming.

The same good folks publish the Bisexuality-Aware Professionals Directory.

 

Polyamory Is Going Mainstream (2nd update)

This 2nd update of “Polyamory Is Going Mainstream” is brought to you on a break from my project, letting you know I am alive (other than my Twitter feed.)

It looks like I am doing two year updates of my blog post of 7/1/13. With an update of 5/27/15, and now this. It’s quite coincidental to me, except that since my post almost four years ago, I have thought continuously about this subject. So, I’m motivated to follow this active relational/social shift, at least in the U.S.

Polyamory

“Married & Dating” (Showtime Networks)

A Paradigm Shift

Can a shift like this – from monogamous (in values; beliefs, including spirituality) to multi-relational – be connected to other social, historical, cultural developments? We don’t know whether multi-relational practices tend to drive social trends, or the opposite. The talk of monogamy’s “breakdown” is a bit of retailed panic; multi-relational life can include parenting a couple’s progeny.

Possible Privilege

We don’t know much about poly peoples’ diversity, though informal studies show a more affluent, white and younger demographic. It may reflect some degree of privilege to be able to relate, openly or not, outside of social norms.

Defining Self In Relationship

I work with clients who are trying to define themselves clearly in the fluid shifts between one paradigm and another, relationally speaking. Personal integrity is of course the one common foundation for both desire and commitment.

marriageFew Grew Up This Way

But in the new relationship paradigm, one that few people grew up with, a very personal integrity can come in a “qualified second” to indulging (or plunging) into the new world of wanting. Or mastering today’s new social skill, one with a considerable but often overlooked ethical canon. It’s been remodeled actively over the last two decades, and of course is subject to every possible variation. Many partners I see consider the shift after they have birthed and raised their preferred number of children.

Polyamory Mastery Is Hard

There is a significant number of people in multi-relational partnerships where the partners have had some experience with it, and have in fact developed ways of maintaining desire and clear enough commitments across them all. And yet even these folks would not lay claim to mastery of these skills. To open up desire in one’s life is indeed to open oneself to greater variability, and some pressures, including those related to spending so much time just relating closely.

Separating Commitment From Desire

The separation of commitment from desire, mainly for desire’s sake, is welcome. It can free desire up somewhat, if life’s other commitments can be carved away enough. It’s exhilarating, and then the larger number of moving parts start to bring change. More of life is devoted to relationship. That alone challenges most people’s levels of personal development.

Desire Least Understood

Desire is the least understood part of relationships, and the most frequent reason for breakups of all kinds. In monogamy, people usually stop wanting each other, and then stop choosing each other. In multiple relationship households desire can easily flicker too, though for different reasons, often about how difficult it is to maintain commitments that get built onto relationships made mainly from desire. Longer term, it’s more likely about how to maintain a robust individuality; clear but open boundaries, durable relationships, bringing and keeping people in your life.

An ethical framework for managing desire is becoming less and less controversial, and more frequently the basis for therapy and counseling.

Part III: Relationship Conflict, Fighting, Arguing

It seems like lots of these excerpts from dialogues and constructed meanings are needed to give you a more detailed picture about me. Here’s a quick one on relationship conflict, fighting and arguing.

Relationship ConflictRelationship ConflictRelationship Arguing

Relationship Conflict

So a client says that arguing/fighting with their partner(s) is one of their main complaints, as something about their life that they hate and fear. Despite their practicing the painful, threatening experience many times, they are only getting better at hurting each other. They have little if nothing else good to show for all the mayhem.

The fight experience blurs their perceptions of the underlying power & control struggle. If they could hold that frame for a while, they could begin to see how they construct such misery. But it doesn’t take too much of this for people in this mode to stop wanting each other. The relationship starts to feel too cold and alone, too often. Their levels of differentiation, individually and relationally, are all about the vulnerability of a power & control struggle. It’s trouble.

By the time I see this painful mess, there’s often a mutual deprivation scheme in place, where partners are denying each other access to their sexuality, which agonizes their ability to grow out of the problem.

I might say that there is an:

Agreement To Fight (a combative alliance)

It’s one way to say that there is a very big agreement in place, when people are thinking that there are few to none. And the parties are doing a good job with it, keeping the same dynamics going as if they had agreed to them, which they have. Which dynamics? That’s where the work begins.

Shift Out Of Fighting Mode

Not reduction of conflict, per se. But a definite reduction of emotionally striking out in frustration. Understanding deeply that emotional harm will delay things further. Getting into agreement mode.

Not Making The Other ‘Wrong’

A big deal in personal development – the creation of a safe enough ‘relationship morality’ solely defined & carried out by the partners, and not subject to anyone else’s approval or veto. Non-moralizing in the traditional sense. Non-competitive. More truly relational.

“What You Did To Me –> What This Says About Us”

This is another big shift. From mano a mano to hand-in-hand, knowing ‘this is so true about us’. This is aided by the ‘relationship morality’ element, and is a general exercise in  relational skills. This can be what Schnarch called “trading pain for growth.”

“Competing To Be The Most Injured Party”

This is akin to the downward spiral of conflict model. But it’s rooted in a competitive level of relationship conflict development. It’s a mutual protest of vulnerability (with no increase in emotional safety). It’s also rooted in parent-child models of blaming & shaming. It has to be worked through – these are developmental steps about overall maturity.

Is There Even 5% Of What Your Partner Said That You Can Agree With?

A widely used therapy tool. Try it. And try to show some real respect for the other position.

Brief Discussion & Explanation

What I blog about might be those constructs that seem to help people at certain points in their development and therapy. These excerpts sometimes come up during therapy appointments, though condensed for blogging purposes. They aren’t points of view that anyone has to endorse or subscribe to.

They flow from my work, a developed range of human interaction and mind-mapping. I might be able to make ‘news of a difference’,  so that another view, another choice or option, can be created by my client. And seen in the perspective of their own personal development.