Polyamory 201: Separating from a nesting partner & dating again

Dec 12, 2018
Dr. Liz and Erika talk about the assumptions around having and separating from a nesting/anchor partnership, and how to navigate without an anchor.

You can find Erika on the web and on social media @TheOpenPhoto/@TheOpenPhotoProject. 

Dr.Liz Powell: Welcome back to Poly 201. I’m Dr. Liz from Sex-Positive Psych.

Erika Kapin: And I’m Erika Kapin from The Open Photo Project.

Dr.Liz Powell: Which is fantastic if you haven’t looked at it yet. So Erika, what is your Poly 201 tip?

Erika Kapin: Well,my Poly 201 tip is more about a place where I’m at right now. It’s like a 201 share rather than a tip …

Dr.Liz Powell: OK. Perfect.

Erika Kapin: …because I don’t think I figured out advice on this but I think I will in the few months.

Dr. Liz Powell: OK.

Erika Kapin: That is that I have been polyamorous and non-monogamous for a long time, a lot of my life but then openly and publicly for like about 8 years or so. But in most of that time, I have been in a anchor partnership, nesting partnership with someone who I am living with and we had been non-monogamous together and it’s just a very interesting dynamic now that we are separated and we are not living together. We’re still friends and all of that.

But now, I’m considering dating again or I still have sweeties in my life that I had in my life before and it’s just very different feeling navigating being polyamorous without having that person who is in my life in like a day to day planning, living with kind of way.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Erika Kapin: Especially with meeting new people. I’ve just really – I noticed the expectation in my mind and my experience, how do I present myself is really different and I don’t want to play into the relationship escalator idea that we’re dating to look for a nesting partner even if we’re polyamorous, I think we have this ingrained social things that kind of make us lean into that even if we don’t want to.

Dr. Liz Powell: Sure. Absolutely. Yeah. No. We’re all baked into the monogamy mindset, right?

Erika Kapin: Yeah.

Dr.Liz Powell: Whether we want it or not.

Erika Kapin: Yeah.

Dr.Liz Powell: And so, unlearning that and unpacking that takes continual conscious effort.

Erika Kapin: Absolutely.And I think just when one, when I was with a nesting partner, it was sort of assumed and we talked about it a lot but it was very easy to just say like this type of relationship that we’re having is not necessarily going to be in conflict with this type of relationship that I already have and it helped those negotiations along in terms of what I could offer, what was possible. And now,I am like suspended in water and possibilities are endless and it’s like I have to like feel and explain and decide on my own without any of these points of like grounding.

Erika Kapin: Yeah.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah. It’s tough.

Erika Kapin: It’s tough. It’s also really freeing but it’s like I have to be very clear and very clear with myself or if I’m not clear with myself, clear in my unclarity and then also communicate that to people who I’m dating so that it’s honest and they know what they’re getting into and what I’m able to give and stuff like that.

Dr.Liz Powell: Yeah.And I think – I’m a big proponent in non-monogamy of working on undoing couple privilege and talking about non-monogamy as a thing that people do, not couples do. And at the same time, there’s a very difference in the amount of support you have available both in terms of like time and money and emotional support if you have one of those more anchor partners than if you don’t. And those of us like I’m one of them that doesn’t have an anchor partner, it feels much harder especially when you’re dating people who do have that support.

Erika Kapin: Yeah.And in addition to the support along with time expectations, if I’m living with a partner who I’ve been with for many years, it’s sort of an easy out to say like, “Oh, probably I have about this much time available in my life maybe to see you once or twice a week or this much a week.” for a new but because I have this other person and this life going on that I need to put a lot of emotional energy into.

If I am solo, solo or single poly, if I’m limiting my time I’m able to spend with someone, it’s just because I don’t want to spend more time with them for other reasons, not because anything wrong with them. Maybe because I just don’t want to prioritize integrating this relationship at this time because I need to save my emotional undue for something else, but I think also because of that baked in monogamy mindset.

Maybe that’s easier and less hurtful for people to hear that if it’s because of another person rather than just because of I actually just would rather have 5 nights a week by myself and I am going on a date with this person that night so I can only see you one night. That’s a little bit harder to see and to understand that actually I might really, really like this person but putting of that boundary is different without the kind of like crutch of having an anchor partner that I need to spend time with.

Dr.Liz Powell: Yeah.So there’s almost this way that other people’s expectations of you changed significantly because you don’t have that continued partnership.

Erika Kapin: And to be honest, I think a lot of this is my concern of hurting people’s feelings.I don’t …

Dr.Liz Powell: Erika is a super sweet person who worries a lot about hurting people.

Erika Kapin: I think about this as a possibility but as I say it, I don’t think any of the people who I have been spending time with have done anything to make me feel that way. I just worry myself and I don’t to like – I want to be honest and straight forward with my needs and not hurt other people. And I noticed myself feeling it differently in this new spot I’m in.

Dr.Liz Powell: Yeah.Well, thanks for sharing where you’re at on your continued journey and I hope that this is helpful to folks.

Erika Kapin: Thanks for letting me share.

Dr.Liz Powell: So again, Erika, where can people find more of your work?

Erika Kapin: Oh yes. I did The Open Photo Project, that’s TheOpenPhotoProject.com or social media, Facebook, Instagram @TheOpenPhotoProject, and that’s photos and interviews with non-monogamous folks. I’m a photographer so that’s my personal work.

Dr.Liz Powell: Amazing stories on there. Erika also does a multimedia presentation and some of the conferences where she has videos and recordings of these people talking about their experiences and their lives and it’s amazing.

Erika Kapin: Thank you.

Dr.Liz Powell: It’s so good.

Erika Kapin: I learn a lot from them.

Dr. Liz Powell: Yeah.

Erika Kapin: Yup.

Dr. Liz Powell: Well, thanks so much for joining me, Erika.

Erika Kapin: Thank you, Liz.

Dr.Liz Powell: And stay tuned for more Poly 201. Bye!

Erika Kapin: Bye!

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