Dr. Liz Powell: Hi!
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Hi!
Dr. Liz Powell: Hey, everybody! This is Dr. Liz from Sex-Positive Psych. And as you can see, I’ve got friends with me today. I have Amp over here.
Dr. Liz Powell: Amp is fantastic. And we have Robin Wilson-Beattie.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Hi!
Dr. Liz Powell: At @sexAbled on Twitter. And you are at …
Amp: @Pup_Amp on everything.
Dr. Liz Powell: Everything.
Amp: Take that brand management. [Laughter]
Dr. Liz Powell: So as I’m sure all of you know by now, my book is coming out or maybe has just come out depending on when I put this up.
Amp: So exciting!
Dr. Liz Powell: I know. And one of the things I do throughout my book is I talk a lot about the mistakes that I’ve made in non-monogamy. So I wanted to put these couple of folks on the spot and ask them some of their biggest monogamy fails or non-monogamy fails.
Dr. Liz Powell: So, I figured I would go first because it’s only fair that I share my shame first of all of us.
Amp: Only shameful if you’re ashamed of it.
Dr. Liz Powell: It’s true. It’s true. I mean I’m not proud of how I acted in this instance.
Dr. Liz Powell: I’m not proud of that. And that’s part of what makes it a really big fail. So, when I was living in Savannah, when I was stationed in Savannah, I started dating this guy that I met through the local atheist group because Savannah, Georgia shockingly does not have a huge polyamory community. And so the people most likely to go on the home with polyamory I found at the atheist meetup. And he seemed like a really great guy. He was totally down for trying out non-monogamy. He had never really done it before but like he was into trying. And I was lonely.
So I was down for like walking him through it like we all do our beginner intro work at some point. So, I thought I was super clear about what our agreements were when it came to like communication about sex we had with other people and the barrier use with other people. We have decided to be just stop using barriers together.
And so, he was getting together with someone who had been a lover of his who he was intending to break up with. I was going to be out of town that weekend. They got together. He said it went fine. I came back to town. We had sex. I’m like, “Oh wait! Did you hook up with that lover of yours?” He was like, “Oh yeah. Yeah, I did.” I was like, “Did you use barriers?” He was like, “Oh no! No, we didn’t.”
I was like – now, he was new, right? So being the generous-hearted person that I can often be, I assumed he must have just not understood what it is that I wanted and needed so I was like, “OK. Well, let me just clarify. When you have sex with someone, I would love to hear about that before I ask about it because I don’t always know what to ask for. So I’m really big on the positive flow of information. And if you’re going to decide to not use barriers with someone else, I especially need to know that before we have sex again so that I can ask you some questions and figure out where I’m at in terms of wanting to use barriers or not use barriers.” He was like, “Got it. On it. Cool.”
So a month or two later [Laughter], I have my surgery on my shoulder so I don’t see him for a few weeks. And when we get back together again and we’re hanging out and hidden about my parents who are out to take care of me when I had my surgery. I thought things were great and super serious. And then he gets this look on his face like a guilty puppy and tells me that he has started having sex with his running buddy. She is married. Her husband thinks that they’re monogamous. She is also a very Catholic and he is like violently atheist.
Amp: I’m out. Nope. Bye!
Robin Wilson-Beattie: That’s a whole bunch of no.
Dr. Liz Powell: He tells me that they’ve been having sex without barriers of course after we’ve already had some sex. So I lose my ideal mind, right?
Robin Wilson-Beattie: What?
Dr. Liz Powell: I yell. I scream. I am not proud of how I handled myself, right? And I am sure that we are broken up. We get together to discuss the like finalities of breakup and he brings his adorable dog. His dog …
Amp: How dare you!
Dr. Liz Powell: … she was the cutest thing and she just softened my hard heart and I was like, “OK, we’ll give it another chance.” But rather than saying like I need to make decisions about me for this to work, I started imposing all of these rules on him for like what he had to do to like re-earn my trust, which is a fallacy of a concept, right?
So I was like, “You can’t see her. If you do see her, she can’t come inside of your house. You have to text me before you get together and text me when she leaves. If you’re at your house, you can only hang out on the porch.” Like just all kinds of like policing the minutiae.
Amp: Is coming inside your house a euphemism or an actual …
Dr. Liz Powell: No. [Laughter]
Dr. Liz Powell: Thank you for clarifying them. No. Like I didn’t want her going inside of his physical home.
Amp: Got it. [Laughter]
Dr. Liz Powell: And like all of this shit, right? And so of course, I was setting traps for him to fuck up in.
Dr. Liz Powell: And of course, he fucked up. And so then I set more traps, right? And so about a month then, he lets me know that they have decided to start having sex again and I lose my shit again and like took all of the stuff that I had of his in my house and put it in a garbage bag and tossed it on his porch. And I can neither confirm nor deny that his house may have been TP-ed shortly thereafter.
Amp: Damn kids.
Dr. Liz Powell: Damn kids. [Laughter] It’s such a strange thing. But I think the big fail for me in there is that I got to the space of trying to force him to change and control him rather than taking what he was doing as evidence of who he is and of evidence of what his behavior is going to be and making decisions about myself, right? If I had accepted after the second time, oh, this is the thing that he wants to do, I could have instead taken a step back and said, “OK. Well, given that, what kind of relationship feels good for me here?” Probably something much more casual. We’re definitely going to go back to using barriers. He is not going to be like in this anchor-slut in terms of my partnerships.
Amp: Yeah. And I think that’s where a little bit of non-monogamy that people slipped up and there are misconnections or misinterpretations of expectations on both sides maybe.
Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.
Amp: He might have thought, “Well, I’ve been with someone before. They were fine if we didn’t use barriers every once in a while so long as I told them eventually and it was OK.” Whereas you had expectations of, “Let’s be safe and let’s be safer about our sex.” But do you feel that there was miscommunications or …?
Dr. Liz Powell: No.
Amp: No. OK.
Dr. Liz Powell: No, because I clearly communicated the first time and I extra clearly communicated a second time. Like I do a pretty good job of …
Amp: Hold up. That is not what I’m saying.
Dr. Liz Powell: Yes. No, that totally does happen sometimes. Jeana Jorgensen who is a folklorist but also looks at like sex in fairytales, she had – she coined the term “misagreements” which is where you think that you had an agreement but you are agreeing to different terms. That totally does happen.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I like that. Misagreements.
Dr. Liz Powell: But I’ve shared my shame.
Amp: But also, don’t – OK. Biggest pet peeve, don’t put a dog in your profile picture on a dating app if your dog is cuter than you, which is not – I’m not trying to be mean but like I don’t want to date your dog and I’m going to swipe – oh, I might – it depends on how cute the dog is. But also, that is misleading.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: It depends on how cute that dog is though.
Dr. Liz Powell: I mean sometimes I might go on a date just to see the dog once.
Amp: That’s what I’m saying. You shouldn’t do that.
Dr. Liz Powell: But like you need to bring the dog on the date. If your dog is one of your dating profile pictures, bring the dog to the date. Anyway, your fails.
Amp: Speaking of misdirection, now, that didn’t work. [Laughter] I’ve got one. I can go as far as non-monogamy goes. So, I’m in a family that is very polyamorous. We have lots of different people and guest stars that come and go in many ways. And I’m the primary for my partner and he is my primary but we have special guests every once in a while and kind of more incorporated family members as it were. And I think – and we’re really good at communicating like we rarely have a fight. If we ever have a fight, it’s about like why didn’t you make the bed or something. Like it’s really small things, and we work through that. We make our bed and then lay on it.
Dr. Liz Powell: You’re doing such great stuff with puns. I’m dying.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I know.
Amp: That is the one thing I didn’t do so well with the Disabilities because I don’t want to make jokes about disabilities.
Dr. Liz Powell: Fair. Fair.
Amp: Otherwise I’m pretty good about – anyway. And so, my biggest fail when it came to that is sometimes I feel that I’m very joking and I’m very like condescending to myself and maybe to other people but only people that I’m very close with and I feel like I have a really good connection with.
However, but, I think that sometimes when it comes to polyamory, what I find joking can come off as really aggressive or really abrasive or like a territorial thing where one of those partners might have thought, “Oh, he’s just being really mean or he was trying to like prove his territory and piss on things so that you knew who is with whose.” And I feel that that was my fault for thinking that my humor was funny when in fact it was really hurtful because there might have been a landmine on their side that I didn’t even know about. Maybe I’m joking about something but it’s really hurtful to them.
And we’ve definitely had issues in our family like that because it feels like I am the primary and I know and that matters when that’s never the case. I never want someone to feel like they’re not included in a family when there is a family dynamic.
Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.
Amp: And that’s a hard one sometimes especially if you’re being polyamorous, the whole anarchy versus – what is it? Anarchy versus …
Dr. Liz Powell: Relationship anarchy versus non-hierarchical polyamory versus hierarchical polyamory versus like more an open relationship or swinging or monogamous like there are so many things.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: And see – and then – see, this brings me then to my fail. OK. When I first started realizing that – first off, lived in deep south, Georgia.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I know. I am. [Laughter] But I am – but I’m still – I’m Southern.
Dr. Liz Powell: You’re Southern on the inside.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I’m Southern until the day I die. But – so my husband at that time and I decided – we found that polyamorous was a term because we had been both engaging in very unhealthy non-monogamy, a.k.a. cheating. But [Laughter] …
Dr. Liz Powell: There is a difference.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: There is very – yeah.
Amp: Communication and consent most importantly.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Yeah, exactly. So we decided, OK, we’re going to go about this more ethically. And there wasn’t, at that time, there wasn’t really like community or I mean really – where some resources like ethical slut but I didn’t have – at that time, I hadn’t hooked up with sex positive community. I didn’t have that. So he – where we found poly stuff was Life Journal. And …
Amp: Oh my God! Life Journal!
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I know, right? Back in the day, I know …
Amp: Is it still around?
Robin Wilson-Beattie: It is.
Dr. Liz Powell: Does it technically still exist?
Robin Wilson-Beattie: It is because I have to – I went and hid everything because I wrote some shit that I do not want everybody else to know. [Laughter] And so, found this woman and then all of the jealousies and the couple’s privilege and I didn’t know, I guess I was trying to do this hierarchical stuff but it got to be – I mean I was like, “You know, no. I’m the …” Just that whole, “No, you can’t go out. You can’t go out.” You mind if I have a date? “No! No, this is working for me. I don’t feel like this. You can’t do that.”
And then – but at the same time wanting – I’m wanting this to work but I was just – but at the same – I did it all wrong. I was way too involved. I didn’t understand – I didn’t think about her feelings and then how they work. She actually was very educated about poly. We were just – we were that mistake couple that was like, “Wow! We are poly now and we want like this unicorn.” Basically like just to fit.
And then I had this list too of, “You can’t take her to the same places that we go.” Because one time we did go out on an ice cream date, the three of us, because I was trying to do like OK, inclusive. I didn’t know what it was called like kitchen table and all that. I was trying.
Dr. Liz Powell: So many terms.
Amp: There are so many terms.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: So many terms. And I did – but at that time when you’re just figuring it out and you’re just doing it all in a wing and a prayer, yeah, you’re fucked up. And that’s what I did. But – and we went to this ice cream shop and the guy was like, “Oh yes! Seen – I got to say, you got the two of them?” And I was like, “That’s my husband!”
Robin Wilson-Beattie: And then I’m like yeah, yeah.
Amp: But feelings don’t always make sense.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: No, and that’s the thing. Feelings don’t …
Dr. Liz Powell: Right. And the thing is like feelings aren’t wrong. We just – we want to make different decisions that our feelings want us to, right?
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Yeah, exactly. And I wish that I had had community and things like that around it rather than sitting here trying to do bits and pieces off the internet of what I can find on what it meant to be poly. But also, there was – I didn’t have – I hadn’t done that work on myself about what it is and you know, I haven’t been realistic about, “Hey, this is what I can manage and this is what – these are the expectations that I have.”
Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. So I’m so glad you all were willing to share your non-monogamy fails with me. As I said, I talk about mine a lot in my book and I have a bunch of worksheets to help you avoid some potential non-monogamy fails. So be sure to check on my book. I’ll put the link down below. I’ll also put links for these fantastic humans, right? I know they are amazing. I feel so lucky.
Any last stuff you all want to talk about?
Amp: Go buy her book. Go buy it.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Yes.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: I cannot wait to have it.
Amp: Down. Go on there. Go click it.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Now, there is another resource. I wish this resource had been around back when I was started.
Dr. Liz Powell: And if you buy it ebook or print version, you get fillable PDFs of all of the worksheets.
Amp: I love filling words.
Dr. Liz Powell: So you can do them as many times as you want.
Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.
Amp: Love it.
Dr. Liz Powell: All right. Well, thanks so much for coming by you all.
Amp: Thank you for having me.
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Thank you.
Dr. Liz Powell: And I’ll see you again soon. Bye!
Robin Wilson-Beattie: Bye!