One of the things I have noticed over the past number of years is how often a simple relationship mistake can bring drama with a capital D that lasts for ages.

Often these mistakes fall into a few obvious categories.

1 It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.

This quote originally came from Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper who was a US naval officer and an early computer programmer.  She said this in an interview with Chips Ahoy when she asked the magazine why they didn’t just go ahead and print and they said they were trying to get permission.

The problem with asking for forgiveness instead of getting permission in a relationship (especially in non-monogamous relationships) is that when you make the conscious choice to do this, you are admitting that you are doing something behind your partner’s back.  In essence you are lying because omitting is also lying.  Dishonesty is the number one cause of relationship breakdown.

By avoiding talking with your partner about something you know they are likely to find difficult, you also assume your partner’s feelings, thoughts and reactions.  You make it impossible for them to grow because you are not having the difficult conversation with them.

You also avoid having to hear someone say ‘no’ and then abide by that ‘no’ because you have agreed to do so.  In non-monogamous relationships this is particularly damaging.  Most people in non-monogamous relationships have agreements about how other relationships are started and conducted, what types of sex are permissible and what types of relationships are permissible.  If you ignore these agreements, you are essentially saying that they are not important and therefore you diminish the importance of your commitment and your relationship.

Jeffrey and Cindy are married and identify as polyamorous. The one rule they have about choosing other partners is that they need to talk with each other before sleeping with someone else and that in some circumstances, the other partner can say ‘No, I don’t want you to sleep with that person.’.  Margaret kept pursuing Jeffrey over a period of two years.  Margaret’s son and Jeffrey and Cindy’s son were great friends and in the same class at school.   Jeffrey finally decided he wanted to sleep with Margaret but he knew that Cindy would say no.  Cindy would not like that Margaret was someone at the school and was the mother of one of their son’s friends.  She would be concerned that if there were relationship problems between Jeffrey and Margaret, everyone at school would hear about it and also that their son’s friendship would be disrupted.    Jeffrey decides not to ask Cindy and starts a relationship with Margaret that goes on for 6 months.  Cindy found out because everyone at school knew and there was a large scene between Jeffrey and Margaret.  Cindy ended her marriage as a result of this messy affair in part because of the drama it brought to her son’s life and to her life.

2 Pressure to try ‘new’ things.

People who are non-monogamous often feel a need to try anything.  There can be considerable social pressure to try the newest activity, relationship style or type of relationship rules out there.  Pressure can be applied before an idea is thought through and discussed.  For example, in some circles, women are expected to try sexual activity with other women.    People are sometimes pressured to be friends with each other’s metamours (the partners of your partner).

3 Believing that opening up your relationship and becoming non-monogamous will resolve all relationship issues

It is trendy to be non-monogamous.   It doesn’t suit everyone.    Non-monogamy requires LOTS of good communication.   I have seen many couples whose relationships have become sexually stagnant or who have been having difficulty with desire latch on to the idea that opening their relationship up will solve all their relationship issues.   If you already cannot communicate well with each other and don’t have the communication skills to resolve your existing relationship problems, opening up your relationship will only make things more complex.  Before deciding to open up, why not work with a coach or take a class to improve your communication skills including negotiation and conflict management?

The idea that opening up will solve things is like the idea that moving will solve issues that you are having.  It never words because where ever you go, there you are.  You take the issues with you.  And with opening up your relationship, you take your relationship issues with you and also bring them into new relationships thus creating lots of drama in many cases.

4  Misunderstanding what making all relationships equal means.

Non-hierarchical polyamory is also trendy now.  People get extremely upset when someone talks about having primary relationships and will shame people who don’t agree that all their relationships should be non-hierarchical.  Leaving aside people who are in authority transfer based relationships which by their nature are hierarchical, there are a number of issues with trying to make all relationships ‘equal’.  Equal is identical in mathematical value, of the same quantity or number.    Seeing all relationships as of equal importance or all people as of equal value is acceptable (though often problematic. After all, my one night stand is not of equal importance as my marriage, nor is it of equal value).  Better yet is looking at all people as being of equal value.  In reality, a relationship in which I am financially supporting someone is not equal to one in which I see someone once a year.  I have responsibilities in the first relationship that I do not have in the second relationship.    Which usually means that I need to give more time to the first relationship.  Many people just the ‘equality’ of a relationship with how much time is spent together.  Once making relationships equal becomes the focus, counting becomes a focus as well. Counting leads to disaster.

What do I mean by counting? Counting is when you compare relationships and look at how much time, how many holidays, how many photos posted on Facebook and then make assumptions about the value of the relationships based on the numbers you come up with.  Arly gets angry with Marco regularly because they post more pictures of themselves with Annie than they do of themselves with Arly.  To Arly, this means that Marco values their relationship with Annie more than they value their relationship with Arly.  In fact, Annie takes the photos and Marco simply shares them. To Marco, this means nothing.  They love Annie and they love Arly.    Arly also insists that Marco spend the same number of days with him that they spend with Annie.  Arly says that if Marco doesn’t agree to this, Marco is being hierarchical.  It isn’t practical for them to spend the same number of days with each one as Arly lives 1000 km away and Annie lives in the same house.   Quality over quantity is a maxim that needs to be adopted often in non-monogamous relationships styles.  Scheduling time is one of the most difficult things to manage as time is finite and we all have many demands on our time beyond our relationships.

5  This is the ‘right’ way to be polyamorous.

The ‘right’ way changes depending on the trends.  As I said earlier, non-hierarchical polyamory is trendy now so hierarchical relationships are seen as ‘wrong’.    Except that some polyamorous people are in authority transfer based relationships and these are hierarchical and as a result, the way they do polyamory is usually hierarchical because the dominant in that hierarchical relationship holds the agency and decides what other relationships the submissive will be allowed to be in, what the submissive can do in those relationships and how much time the submissive can give to those relationships.  Of course YMMV.  In some cases, the submissive may have agency to carve out time for a specific other relationship and this may be kept sacrosanct.  There are no right ways only the right way for you.  Figuring out what is right for you takes looking at all the possibilities, examining what feels right for you in any given situation and final discussing possibilities with partners and negotiating until parameters are agreed upon and clear.

6  We shouldn’t have to work on our relationships ongoing.

Once we have negotiated and agreed a contract of sorts or a set of rules, that should be OK going forward. Polyamory should be fun and spending time working on relationships is not fun.

All relationships require work.  Work doesn’t have to be arduous.  Work could just be a good conversation.  Work could be time spent each week checking in with a partner as to how they are feeling and making sure there are no issues that are brewing.  Relationships require attention no matter what type of relationship they are.  Relationships are more fun when there aren’t any unexamined issues around casting negative shadows over the enjoyable bits.

Are you in a non-monogamous relationship?  Are you creating one?  If you would like help creating a workable structure, sign up for a free 30 minute discovery session here and why not work through my online course here?

 

 

 

I have written about polyamorous D/s relationships in the past.  Recently, in a mentoring session with the head of the leather household, House of Trei, Choc Trei, polyamory in a full Master/slave or Owner/property authority transfer based relationship came up as part of a discussion of their House tour.  The discussion raised new points and led to me re-examining the many types relationship style that people who are in an authority based relationship might adopt.

As a refresher, authority transfer based relationships are ones in which one person is definitely the leader and the other is the follower.

These are consensual relationships in which the person who is in the subordinate role, surrenders part or all of their autonomy by surrendering authority over part or all of themselves and their lives to the one who is in the dominant role so that the dominant is the one who makes the decisions or has the final say.

There are a number of different flavours of authority transfer based consensual relationships  The most common are:

D/s (Dominant/submissive) In D/s relationships, the submissive gives the Dominant partner limited authority over themselves and over their lives.   They negotiate the areas of service and of authority transfer.

M/s (Master/slave)  In M/s relationships, the slave surrenders authority over themselves and their lives to the Master.  This is a full transfer of authority as opposed to in D/s.

O/p (Owner/property) In O/p relationships, the Owner has full authority over the property just as in M/s.

However, as with most definitions, these tend to evolve so YMMV.

How does this intersect with non-monogamy?

Many people who practice non-monogamy, particularly those who identify as practicing polyamory dislike the idea of hierarchical relationships.  They eschew the previous common polyamorous structure that had one relationship identified as a primary relationship and others as secondary, tertiary and so on.    They feel that no relationship should be more important than another, no person taking precedence over another, all relationships be seen as and treated as equal.

In practice, equal is truly the wrong term.

While relationships may be treated equally in mind and heart – be equal in value, in day to day life, equal is very difficult if not impossible to achieve.  Equal means to be the be the same in degree, size or quantity.   Attempting to create equality of time alone can be a challenge.

When one of the relationships is a hierarchical one as all authority transfer based relationships are, equal becomes difficult at best and impossible at worst.

If the authority transfer based relationship is a D/s one, it is possible to create equal other polyamorous relationships as both parties retain at least some agency.  However, if it is an M/s or O/p relationship, equal other relationships are not truly possible.

Why is this so?  In surrendering authority, the submissive also surrenders agency.  Some agency is usually returned except in the most restrictive and micro-managed M/s relationships where the Master controls every aspect of the slave’s live.    But even though the subordinate regains some agency, the ultimate decision maker is person in charge.  They can allow the subordinate to have other romantic and/or sexual relationships and they also have the authority to end these relationships.

Full polyamory requires full agency.

As the slave does not have the agency to create the relationship without permission, to define the parameters of the relationship, or to choose if the relationship is to continue or to end, then it is not polyamory as such.

Therefore what is it? It is consensual non-monogamy that is taking its form from the hierarchical authority transfer based relationship.

Choc Trei calls this ‘loaning’ as the Owner/Master/Mistress is the party with the agency to begin the second relationship, negotiate it’s parameters and to end it.    In discussing this, she used the example of a car.  Two people can purchase a car together, share the use of it, the maintenance of it and both names are on the title (registration document).    This is polyamory – with two people each having a relationship with a separate third person.  In the car analogy, both people have agency to use the vehicle as they see fit as they both own part of it.  In the polyamory example, the separate relationships can take any form as all parties have agency over the relationship (which is the car).

However, when there is an M/s or O/p relationship, the car analogy becomes one person (the M/O) purchases the car, takes responsibility for maintenance of it, uses it and that person’s name is on the title (registration document). The owner of the car can choose to lend it to another person.  The owner would define the terms of the loan.  For example, don’t take the car over state lines, don’t use cheap petrol, wash the car every week.  In addition, the owner could end the loan for any reason.  For example, the person who borrows the car uses the wrong petrol or simply the owner has need of the car.   More or less agency can be awarded when making a loan of property, but the final decision point is always the Owner.

The Owner sets the tone for all other relationships that their property has whether these relationships are sexual, romantic and sexual, friendships, business or family relationships. The Owner can award more or less agency to their property to create and maintain relationships but the owner has the final say.

People often believe that this relationship structure is overly complicated.

In my experience, it depends wholly on the tone set by the dominant partner.  Some Owners love to micro manage and sometimes that means that any other relationships can become complicated as permissions and negotiations happen on a regular basis.   Other Owners give significant agency and freedom to their property which tends to mean that other relationships are less complicated.

Jarrod and Seth are in an authority transfer based relationship. Jarrod sees himself as a benevolent Owner.  Seth has always been able to have casual sexual liaisons with minimal interference.  Jarrod requires Seth to ask first and to make clever choices.   ‘Clever choices’ means to choose people who won’t bring any drama into their relationship.  Jarrod does not ask to meet most of the people Seth becomes involved with as he feels no need.   

When Seth meets Angelo, the connection is extremely intense. Seth asks Jarrod for permission to have sex with Angelo and Jarrod grants this.   Seth realises that he wants an actual relationship with Angelo and brings this to Jarrod.    Jarrod sits down with Seth to discuss what kind of relationship he would like to have with Angelo and after this discussion, asks to meet Angelo so they can negotiate the terms of the relationship and discuss the rules. 

Jarrod likes Angelo immediately upon meeting him.  He explains to Angelo that he is happy for him to start a relationship with Seth, his property, with certain rules in place. Rule number 1 is Angelo is always to be available to him (Jarrod) when needed.  Jarrod tells Angelo that he will do his best to respect their time together, but reiterates that if he needs Seth, his need will come before Angelo’s needs or desires.  Jarrod goes on to say that if he becomes concerned about the relationship between Seth and Angelo and his concerns cannot be resolved, he (Jarrod) will end the relationship between them.   The rest of the rules include safe sex only, no group scenes, no cuts or skin breaks of any kind and no permanent marks.  Angelo agrees to these rules and pursues his relationship with Seth. 

After 6 months, the relationship between Angelo and Seth is still going strong.  Angelo tells Seth that he has fallen in love with him.  He becomes uncomfortable with Jarrod having the final say over their relationship.  He wants to their relationship to be completely autonomous and resents that Jarrod has some say over their relationship even though Jarrod doesn’t interfere and never has interfered.  At first, Angelo urges Seth to address this with Jarrod.  Seth refuses and says that Angelo must have this conversation.  Seth tells Angelo that he does not want to change his relationship with Jarrod.    Angelo is upset by this but decides to talk with Jarrod about changing the rules anyway.   The conversation doesn’t go well and the relationship between Seth and Angelo ends.

In that example, the intensity of the relationship between the property and the outside person changed and this lead the relationship ending as the other person would no longer respect the rules set by the Owner.  I see this type of situation in my consulting room regularly either because Owner and property come in to make sense of the drama that has entered their relationship or because the outside person comes because they are not happy having a relationship that is not completely autonomous.  This type of situation can often be avoided if all parties are clear at the outset as to what the relationship possibilities are and what kind of parameters will be put into place.

I often see people who are in an M/s or O/p relationship and want to have other M/s or D/s relationships. In these relationships, the negotiation can be easier as all parties understand authority based relationships. It can also be more complicated while people try to figure out who is ultimately in charge of whom.     Short term encounters are mostly easily managed.  It is the longer term relationships that require the most care and attention to negotiate.

For people whose primary sexual orientation is dominance or submission, it is not unusual for most of their romantic relationships and sexual encounters to have at least an element of dominance/submission.

Though many of my romantic relationships are not D/s, almost all of my sexual relationships involve submission as this is my primary orientation.  My husband and I are in an M/s relationship and so he has the last word on any other relationships that I become involved in. He gives me lots of agency to form relationships and does not micromanage any of these relationships.  He has only a few rules and is laid back as long as these rules are adhered to.  Everyone I become involved with is well aware of the hierarchy before they get involved with me.    People who only want egalitarian polyamorous relationships don’t usually get involved with me because I am in a hierarchical relationship.

The trend to denigrate all hierarchical non-monogamous relationships works to exclude many people who choose authority transfer based relationships as part of their relationship structure.

By their nature, authority based relationships are hierarchical and this does impact upon non-hierarchical relationships that a person has as well.  It doesn’t always mean that the authority based relationship is creating and controlling the hierarchy but often this is the case.

Are you in an authority based relationship and non-monogamous?  If you would like help creating a structure that works well or managing the issues that arise out of the relationship structure, sign up for a 30 minute free discovery session with me on my contact page.  If you want to learn more about authority based relationships, check out my online course here.

People often become confused about the language used around non-monogamy and polyamorous networks of relationships.  I will start with a disclaimer:  Language changes quickly.   New terms are added faster as the internet expands.    These terms and polyamorous definitions are up to date at the time of writing.   However, your mileage may vary.

With that said, here is my list of non-monogamy terms that are essential.

Non-monogamy:

A relationship or relationship style that does not conform to monogamy.   In monogamy, a person has a sexual relationship with only one person at a time. In non-monogamy, a person can have multiple partners at the same time.

Unethical non-monogamy:

This is an updated term for having an affair or cheating. Unethical non-monogamy is when one partner makes a unilateral decision to have a relationship with another person without gaining the agreement or consent of their current partner.  Any time an agreement between two (or more) people is violated (instead of negotiated and changed), it is considered unethical.

Ethical non-monogamy:

Any relationship in which the parties make agreements about having multiple sexual and/or relationship partners.

Polyamory:

People who engage in polyamory have more than one romantic and sexual relationship at a time.  Polyamory is usually assumed to include love rather than simply having multiple sexual relationships at a time.

Polyandry:

A relationship where there is one woman and multiple men.

Polygamy:

A relationship where there is one many and multiple women.

Unicorn:

A single person (often a woman) who is sought by a couple to join them for short term sexual relationship or a long-term relationship.

Fluid bonding:

This is when a couple or a group of people choose to dispense with barrier protection and have sex where fluids are exchanged.  If a couple is fluid bonded, they have usually had multiple clean STI tests and use condoms and other barriers (dental dams) when they have sexual contact with people outside the fluid bond.

Compersion:

Feeling fantastic because of the joy your partner is experiencing with someone else.  It is the opposite of jealousy.  It is when someone else’s excitement and joy brings you excitement and joy.  This is one of the most wonderful parts of being non-monogamous if you are able to experience compersion.  Some people find it hard to experience compersion but it is a skill that can be learned.

Hierarchical relationships:

This is when relationships are prioritised.  Sometimes people talk about their primary or secondary partner and this suggests they are in a hierarchical relationship.  If you are raising children with someone, you may prioritise that relationship. However, prioritising the relationship does not necessarily mean that you consider someone more important than other partners.  It often refers to how you divide and prioritise your time.  Many people in the poly community now prefer to aim for non-hierarchical relationships – noting that no relationship holds more sway inherently than any other.

When I first entered the world of polyamory, it was common to use the terms primary and secondary relationships.  Now hierarchical language is frowned upon so people often refer to nesting partners to describe the person they live with rather than a primary partner as that is seen as too hierarchical.

Some relationships are by their nature hierarchical.  Relationships in which there is an authority transfer are always hierarchical as the person who holds the authority is at the top of the hierarchy.  This doesn’t always mean that when someone is polyamorous and in a relationship which involves authority transfer that the authority transfer relationship is always given priority and seen as primary in the hierarchical sense.  People can have a number of different types of relationships and keep them all equal. However, it is common for authority transfer relationships to be seen as primary.  I have also noticed that in real life, equality is rare but striving for equality is common.  This is the subject of an upcoming blog.

Solo polyamory:

This is when someone chooses to focus on the individual rather than becoming couple focused.  Many of the people I have met who identify in this way are clear that they prefer their own space and do not want to live with or marry anyone.  They talk about being their own partner first. They enjoy the flexibility and autonomy.

Swinging:

Traditionally this terms refers to couples enjoying sexual encounters with other individuals or couples.  It is usually specific to sexual bonds rather than creating emotional bonds.  Lots of swinging takes place in clubs or at private parties.  Traditionally, swinging is an activity that favours heterosexual couples and bisexual women.  In more modern clubs, bisexual men also engage and in some clubs same sex couples engage as well.  However, same sex couples, queer and non-binary people tend to create their own events and don’t usually call this ‘swinging’.    Some people go to swing clubs to watch rather than to have sex with others.  The couple has sex with each other while watching the activity of the other people at the party or club.  This allows them to engage in voyeurism and exhibitionism.  There are closed swinging groups where people have regular STI tests and agree to only swing with each other.

Polyfidelitous relationship:

A polyamorous relationship in which all of the partners agree to remain faithful to the group.  Some relationships have a process that allows new members to be added and others don’t.  Some of these are relationships in which everyone lives together and others are not. Polyfidelity.

Triad:

A relationship involving three people.

Vee:

A triad where the person at the apex of the V is involved with the other two people but they are not sexually involved with each other.  The person at the apex is also known as the pivot.

Quad:

A relationship involving four people.

Poly/mono relationship:

A relationship where one person is polyamorous and the other is monogamous.

Don’t ask, Don’t Tell:

A relationship in which partners are allowed to have sex with others outside the relationship as long as it is not talked about.

Friends with benefits:

When a person decides to have a sexual relationship (sometimes just once, other times regularly) with a friend and there is no expectation of a romantic relationship developing.  Also known as a fuck buddy.

Intimate network:

This is the network of a person’s romantic and sexual partners and their romantic and sexual partners.

Key party:

From the 1970’s – Originally a wife swapping/swinging event where each couple places their car keys in a bowl when they arrive and then at the end of the night, each woman picks a set of keys from the bowl and then goes home with the man whose keys they are for the night.  There are still key parties held.

Metamour:

The partner of your partner.  Sometimes known as lover-in-law.

Ménage a Trois or Threesome:

French for a triad – though usually this term is used for experiences rather than to describe relationships that last longer involving three people.

Polycule:

A romantic network or a subset of a romantic network.

Molecule:

A romantic network or subset of a romantic network

Monogamish: (term coined by Dan Savage)

A couple in a committed relationship who are monogamous with some agreed exceptions.  For example, kissing a friend may be acceptable.  Some people who are monogamish allow sexual relationships outside the couple but not romantic relationships.

New relationship energy (NRE):

The excitement and quasi obsessiveness that happens when you begin a new relationship. It includes infatuation and also that ‘in love’ feeling and can last a few years.

One Penis Policy (OPP) :

A relationship where the man is allowed sex with multiple female partners and the female partners can have sex with other women but no one is allowed to have sex with another man.

Open relationship:

Any relationship that is not monogamous.  For some this term is only used to describe relationships in which other sexual relationships are allowed but there are no other romantic relationships. In this way it excludes polyamory.

Relationship anarchy:

This is when people are free to engage in any type of relationships that they choose.  People who practice relationship anarchy see any relationship that restricts a person’s ability to express themselves as negative.  Freedom and spontaneity are seen as highly desirable traits.   For many people who practice relationship anarchy, there is not always a clear distinction between partner ad non-partner.

Tribe:

A group of people in a polyamorous network.

There are also a lot of very colloquial terms so as with all relationships, it is important to communicate fully and clearly in order to make sure you and the person or people you are speaking with are understanding each other.

Want to define your own relationship? Join me for a free 30-minute discovery session.

 

Sex Spoken Here: Sex Love Stories 3:  TJ

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today is the third instalment of the sex love series.  I have invited my husband, TJ Scott is retired teamster who worked for 26 years at Omega Cinema Props, the largest privately owned prop house in the US. He is a part time percussionist and artist.  He currently works at Otford Boarding Kennels in Kent, UK.

I asked TJ to tell me about his background and culture.  TJ describes himself as an African American military brat and a southerner.

TJ spoke about his first sexual awakening at age 5 and his first experience at age 7 playing more than just doctor with a 9 year old friend of his sister’s.  He spoke about losing his virginity – twice.

TJ spoke about being a bisexual man, being polyamorous and being kinky.  He spoke about a first marriage where sex was only happening if he was role playing one of his many Dungeons and Dragons characters.  When his first wife refused to have sex with him without the role play, the sex in the marriage ended.  He spoke about his second marriage where sex never really happened.

TJ spoke about being in our marriage – being able to express all of his sexual sides and that he looks forward to exploring more together in the future until we are two old and wrinkly raisins in the bed telling folks to go away because we ain’t dead yet.

Today we spoke about masturbation, bisexuality, virginity, Baptist culture and the impact on relationships, BDSM, sexless marriages and non-monogamy.  If you were triggered or if this resonates with you, do email me. In addition to emailing me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com for more information, you can find resources on the podcast pages as part of the podcast notes.

Check out these podcasts and blogs for more information:

B is for Bisexual

Sexless Relationships 1

BDSM dating

Virginity

D/s Relationships

Polyamorous D/s Relationships

You can find TJ’s art at:

https://urceleb.deviantart.com/

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. I have a TV channel on the BonBonNetwork For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com/and click the button that says Schedule Now! on the contact page.

Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher.

The time between New Year’s Day and just before Valentine’s Day is known as breaking up season.

Couples who have been struggling for during the autumn and through the holiday season often use the ‘new year, new you’ energy as an impetus to end the relationship so that they can look towards Valentine’s day as a time to start another romantic adventure.  This is breaking up season.

In mid-December, I toured WeWork Aldwych House in London.   If you haven’t been in co-working office space like WeWork, you might not know how much creativity happens in casual conversations in the hot desking common areas.  Co-work offices provide hot desks which are tables or desks that you can either reserve or just claim when you arrive in the space.  Most spaces have great Wi-Fi, free beverages and a variety of comfy seating arrangements.  You sit down and work and during the time you are there, often enter into a conversation or two with the people working around you.  People can be from any field, business or discipline.  In any event, I ended up in a conversation with one of the local team.  We were talking about what I do for a living and he said that there really should be a good guide to breaking up since there didn’t seem to be any guides to help people refrain from emotionally shredding each other when they leave a relationship.  That is how I came to be writing this guide.  This blog is an introduction and outline that identifies the problems and gives some good hints and tips to avoid the worst of the pitfalls.  If you want the full guide, you can purchase it here.  I have laid it out as an eBook/eworkbook.

I have been working with individuals, couples, families, and relationship groups for the past 30 years.  Most of the time when people come in with relationship problems, they will say they are coming in to therapy in order to save the relationship.    In reality, in at least 60% of the cases, one of the people has come in with the desire to end the relationship and wants help so that the end is not absolutely horrible and destructive.  Most people know that acting on the intense emotions that are frequently present at break up time can be destructive to themselves in addition to their soon to be ex-partners.  But they still cannot help but lash out.     Even people who are usually excellent at negotiation and have great emotional and social skills can behave like out of control bullies when involved in a break up.breaking up

Why do people behave so badly when breaking up?  Here are the most common reasons:

  1. They have been betrayed by their soon to be x.

Breaches of trust cut incredibly deeply.  There is nothing worse than discovering that the person you have trusted with all of you has betrayed you.  The most common betrayal is an affair but there are other betrayals.  All betrayals involve lying and/or withholding truth (pretending).  The ones that have gone on the longest are the most emotionally damaging.

  1. They are betraying the person they want to break up with.

In this case, the person projects their own bad motives and behaviour onto their partner.  They become angry and horrible because they cannot admit their own bad behaviour.  They feel guilty about breaking up and it makes them angry.

  1. They find it too hard to be honest, vulnerable and make a clean break.

Being angry and belligerent pushes the other person away.

    4.  They don’t want to stay friends and don’t know how to end the relationship with compassion without their partner wanting to stay connected.

  1. They have no empathy.

There are people who have little or no empathy and cannot place other people’s needs before their own needs.  Sometimes they are just thoughtless.

  1. They know that breaking up is the best thing for both parties but don’t feel they can stay separate if there isn’t animosity.

  2. They feel helpless in the face of their partner’s sadness and upset and this causes an angry reaction.  Anger is easier than powerless feelings.

  3. They cannot stand their own feelings of sadness and grief and find anger much easier to bear.

What are some of the pitfalls to an amicable or friendly breakup?

  1. It can be hard to stay away from the person you are breaking up with.

You are in the habit of spending time, sharing things.   If things are friendly, those habits are too easy to continue.  You may not have a new routine for emotional support or sharing the little things about your day so this too will make staying separate hard.

 

  1. Making the decision to end a relationship that is not meeting your needs is often a huge relief.

Once you have made the decision, sometimes a lot of the negativity will lift and you will find being together more comfortable and even more fun.  Sometimes people remember what it was like at the beginning of the relationship when they were really into each other and things were going really well.  Suddenly the relationship may feel like it is salvageable.  This is the time when people forget the reasons that they decided to end the relationship.

  1. Going back out into the world can be harder if you are still close to your ex-partner.

Many people find it uncomfortable if a person they are dating is close with an ex.  Also when you are emotionally close with someone, you may compare new people to the person and this may put you off developing closeness with someone new.

breaking up

Some tips and tricks to avoid behaving badly:

  1. If you have been betrayed, do some personal work (counselling, therapy, coaching, talking with a trusted friend – whatever works for you) to resolve some of the intensely negative feelings you are experiencing.
  2. If you were the one who was having the affair, own up to it (at least to yourself) and make a clear effort not to project your stuff onto your soon to be x partner. You might benefit from some personal work (counselling, therapy, coaching, talking to a good friend – whatever works for you).
  3. Use journaling to help you get what is in your head out onto paper. If journaling doesn’t appeal, try some type of art work.
  4. Create a separation plan. This is particularly useful if you have been living together or leaving lots of stuff at each other’s places.  It’s also useful to help manage the emotional and social aspects of separation.  If you attend a regular social event with common friends, this is where you can address who will be attending in the future and who will not or how you will both manage to attend.    This can be a detailed plan that allows you to address all the ways your lives are entangled or it can be simple and just have some basic rules.
  5. If you are attending the same events, it can help to go with another friend to avoid awkwardness.
  6. Build in time for your favourite stress reduction activities and plan these around when you have to deal with the breakup.
  7. Remember that breaking up involves loss and so there is a grieving process that most people experience. If grieving isn’t something you are good at, get some help to learn how to grieve (which usually means to learn to allow yourself to feel the loss until you are finished feeling it instead of trying to suppress the feelings or push them aside).

Working towards ending relationships without lots of destruction is one of the best things you can do as you will need these skills in multiple places over your lifetime.

Sometimes we end business relationships, friendships and even familial relationships and all of these can be as traumatic as ending romantic relationships. 

If you found this introduction intriguing and useful, look for my Modern Guide to Breaking Up eBook/eWorkbook on https://the-intimacy-coach.com on the products page to be released on 25 January 2018 or simply set up a discovery session with me by going to my website https://the-intimacy-coach.com and then my contact page and clicking where it says ‘click here’.

breaking up

How Erotic Love Making Can Bring the Heat Back to Your Relationship

Rough sex has become more and more trendy over the past five to ten years.  There’s been lots of emphasis on spicing things up in a relationship by become rougher, trying things like spanking and flogging, and engaging in power exchange.  Rough sex can be really hot and can certainly spice up your relationship but it is not the only way to do so.     Erotic love making is another approach.

The hottest, most exciting and most enduring sexual relationships include a good variety of approaches to sex.

Erotic love making is one that isn’t often talked about.  Perhaps this is because people feel that being erotic is easy and that other approaches are more foreign and so more difficult.  But being truly erotic takes significant skill.  At its heart, erotic lovemaking requires patience, flexibility, connection, focus and the ability to be fully present (mindful) during love making.

Let’s start with a definition of love making.

The distinction between love making and sex is important.  Love making involves mutuality.  The idea is that both of you are fully involved and gaining pleasure from the physicality.  Sex isn’t driven by mutuality.  There may be some but the driving force is more selfishly focused.  In love making, the divide between the self and the other dissolves, if only temporarily.  Two become one.  In sex, this divide continues to exist.  Erotic love making looks at uniting where sex does not necessarily.  Sex can look more at objectifying or possessing.

Erotic Love Making

I am not denigrating the value, importance and sheer pleasure of sex.

I am making a distinction between love making and sex and suggesting that it is wonderful to be able to enjoy both.  In love making you surrender yourself to the other and get lost in each other. It is reciprocal.  In sex, you might surrender or you might take control.

Erotic is defined as sensual, seeking to arouse sexual desire and pleasure.

Erotic love making in this context is love making that is ignited slowly from the sensual, seeking to arouse further desire and pleasure until full desire blossoms.    With erotic love making, physical and emotional intimacy combine until you no longer feel separate.  Energy moves back and forth between you until you no longer know where you end and your lover begins.  For some, this experience becomes a spiritual one.  Others focus on the emotional aspects and talk about how close this type of love making causes them to feel with their partner and still others focus on the raw physicality, the amazing sexual pleasure.

Robert lay next to Annie waiting for his breath to return to normal.  After a few minutes, he fell asleep.  Annie sighed, got out of bed and headed for the loo.   When she got back to bed, she took out her favourite clitoral stimulator, fired it up until she was alight with pleasure.  She was so engrossed in her orgasm she didn’t notice Robert had woken up.  In the morning, Robert brought her coffee in bed and said, ‘I woke up when you were playing with yourself last night.  I know I get off quickly, but I didn’t realise that I left you hanging.’  Annie started to tell him it was no big deal and then stopped.  ‘You did.  I enjoy sex with you but you don’t often last long enough for me to come.’  She looked away quickly, expecting Robert to be angry.  When he didn’t shout, she looked back and noticed how sad he looked.  ‘I’m sorry Annie.  I’ll see if there is anything I can do to slow down.’  Robert telephoned for coaching the following day.

There are as many ways to engage in erotic love making as there are people.

Approaches and styles differ but the end results are the same: intensely delicious love making.     The best erotic love making includes some common elements.  Mastering these elements will create all-consuming, distance dissolving intimacy.

  • Know Yourself.

  • I say this a lot when talking about creating great sex.    The better you know yourself, the easier it is to connect sexual with your lover and make sure that both of you are fully, deliciously satisfied.    If you have sexual problems or issues, attend to these.  Learn what really turns you on, what kind of touch you like, where your limits are.  Robert did some research and decided to study Mantak Chia’s methods of orgasm control.  He found these methods worked well for him and he was able to use these methods along with sex & intimacy coaching to resolve the issues that caused his pre-mature ejaculation and to create new skills that allowed him to fully connect with Annie.
  • Create protected time and space.

  • Erotic love making requires plenty of time and a safe comfortable appealing space.   This is not a time to multi-task.  Turn off the phone, the email, unhook and unplug.   Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.  Make sure the kids are looked after by family, friends or a baby sitter.  Lock the door.  Do what you need to do so that you won’t be interrupted.  If being at home is too tempting, check into a hotel or a b&b or head to the woods with your tent or to an RV/motorhome/caravan site.   Lots of people find it hard to unplug completely when they are at home.  You can change this but it is a hard habit to break so it is worth starting away from home.   Once you have created some positive habits, it will be easier to squash the negative ones at home.    Making the space appealing can be as simple as tidying up the bedroom and as complex as using special sheets (silk perhaps), scented candles, your favourite grooves.
  • Erotic Love Making
  • Start with seduction.

  • There is nothing like a slow seduction.  Take your time, appeal to all of your lover’s senses, start with light touch and move to firmer touch.  Try an old fashioned strip tease.  (No seriously – here is an old fashioned one.) Pay attention to how the heat is building between you both.Erotic Love Making
  • Observe closely until you can no longer do so.

  • The more you observe, the more you will notice the things you do that work the best, the things that impact your lover the most.  Do this until you can no longer concentrate because you are so immersed in your feelings and sensations.
  • Approach and retreat from orgasm in order to build the intensity.

  • As you move towards orgasm, back off a bit and then build again.  Do this until you can no longer stand it and have to surrender to the orgasm.

Erotic love making will rekindle even the most banked flames between you.  It is a wonderful way to renew your sexual connection and develop and deepen intimacy.  Interest in learning more?  Email me or book a free 30 minute discovery session with me.