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Holistic Sex Educator
A Holistic Sex Educator who investigates the sensual, sexual and relational dynamics between our bodies and each other. Malloy engages queer and polyamorous teachings to inform our pleasure, connectedness, and sexual liberation.More by This Instructor
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Hey friends, welcome to Navigating Non-monogamy. My name is Tuck Malloy. I'm a certified holistic sex educator and I teach folks about all kinds of different sex, gender, relationship and pleasure related topics. I use they them pronouns and I'm a non-binary, queer and trans person. Before we jump into this class, I want to give you a disclaimer. This class is intended for educational purposes only, and it's not meant to substitute any medical attention or therapy. Okay, so let's jump into the content of this class. Our agenda for today, as we're going to start by talking about why non-monogamy is such an amazing and also challenging relationship style. Then we're going to talk about the ways that you can explore non-monogamy to find the right relationship fit for you. And we're going to talk about some really concrete tools and practices to help support any relationship but specific non-monogamous relationships. We're going to end by talking about how we can support folks with trauma in non-monogamy. And then we're going to finish with some self-soothing tools and a goodbye. Non-monogamy is an incredible experience and practice in loving other people. It's defined specifically as something that is not monogamy, which means that non-monogamy can be so many different kinds of things. That's one aspect of why non-monogamy is so great. It really allows us to create relationships that work specifically for us. On the other hand, there's no script for non-monogamy because it's not a normative style of relationships in our society at this time, in media and books and literature and movies. We've been seeing more representations of non-monogamy. But they're not always super accurate, and they often represent non-monogamy. That is, a consent based, doesn't have very strong boundaries and ultimately isn't the most healthy or secure styles of relationships. If you want to explore non-monogamy, it's important to know that and not every single kind of non-monogamy is going to be right for you. Many people who identify as non-monogamous also identify with a subset of non-monogamy like solo polyamory or relationship anarchy, or with a hierarchical non-monogamous relationship in which they have a primary and secondary partner or tertiary partner, etc., etc. So know that non-monogamy is an umbrella term. And then in within that there are lots of other terms that we can use to help specify the kinds of relationship that we want. Also, sometimes terms and labels are not particularly helpful because as humans our experiences are so much more expansive than labels can really describe. So it's okay if you find that no labels are quite right for you. You can use your descriptive words and tweak labels or come up with labels that work specifically for you to help describe the relationship that you want and communicate that to other partners. I also know that many non-monogamy people take years to discover the right relationship for them, and that can also fluctuate throughout time, right? It's not a linear process. Sometimes one style of relationship is going to work for us and other times it's not going to. So be patient with yourself as you explore non-monogamy. You might find that the relationship that works for you today is not the relationship that works for you forever. So how do we find out which relationship is right for us? This can take a lot of time and exploration, and so I want to give you all a list of journal prompts that you can utilize to explore non-monogamy and how it feels to you right now and in the future. Here are some different journal exercises for exploring how you feel about non-monogamy. Why am I non-monogamous? What makes me want to do this work? What do I believe in about non-monogamy? Recall a moment when non-monogamy was really working for you. Or if you haven't been in a non-monogamous relationship yet. Think of a fear that you have. Oh, sorry. Things about the wrong way. I'll just. Here are some journal exercises to help you explore how you feel about non-monogamy. One. Why am I non-monogamous? What makes me want to do this work? What do I believe in about non-monogamy. To recall a moment when non-monogamy was really not working for you. If you haven't been in a non-monogamy relationship yet, think of a fear you have. If you did a body scan during that time, what did it feel like? What sensations happened in your body? Three. In a perfect world for you, what would non-monogamy look and feel like? For which things are you struggling with? Describe which parts of non-monogamy are most activating for you. Which parts feel manageable? Do they feel that way every day or just some days? Do other factors make things better or worse? How do they compare to each other? Five. What power dynamics are play in your relationships? How do they impact your ability to feel safe and secure? Six. Who do I know? Who is non-monogamous? How do they inform my support system? Seven. What representations of non-monogamy have I seen? How do I feel about them? Eight. Recall some moments in non-monogamy when you felt really inspired or excited to be practicing non-monogamy. What did that feel like in your body? If you did a body scan, what would you notice? What sensations were there? There are certain aspects of relationships that are really important always, whether you're in a non-monogamous relationship or a monogamous. These things include cancer and a deep decency and basic respect for other people, an ability to speak openly and honestly and to generally have a sense of trust and security with another person. These things are obviously going to fluctuate depending on how well you know someone, how often you see them, and the amount of time that you spend together. But whether you're in a non-monogamous or monogamous relationship, it's important to kind of come back to these foundational values to see if your relationship is really supporting you or if you are actually needing to pivot or create some more boundaries or structure in your relationship to feel safer. Some things I want to present to you all as a as a couple of guidelines for if you're exploring non-monogamy right now, are one to think about how you're using consent and communication and to really articulate your wants versus your needs. Right? Because there are things that all of us need in order to be in a relationship that is secure and healthy. And there are things that we want. An example of this might be we need people to treat us with respect and decency and care. A want might be a partner who lives with us, and a want might also be a partner who doesn't live with us. So think about those kinds of things and you can even write down a list and talk through that with partners. Remember also that partners who are giving us healthy and secure relationships are not always primary partners. It's important to cultivate a sense of security and safety in all of our relationships, whether it's an anchor partner who we live with, a co-parent, a primary partner, a secondary partner, a friendship, a a comment partner who we only see once a year. A play partner or any other kind of relationship that we're developing. We don't have to have a huge commitment or intensity in our feelings in order to feel secure and safe and have basic consent and communication in our relationships with others. So what builds healthy relationships? A really important aspect of building healthy and secure relationships is time. When we first meet somebody, we can't trust that they're going to show up for us in a respectful and consensual way. It takes time to develop the trust that other people are going to show up for us and to really experience that in our nervous system, in our body. It is okay to slowly calibrate the amount of trust that we give another person based on how long we've known them. Sometimes people can show us really quickly that we can trust them based on the circumstances of the way we meet them or what's going on in our life. Other times, maybe if we don't see somebody that often or they're long distance or any other factor, it can take a longer time to really build trust to see that that person is going to show up for us consistently. It's important to think about the different ways that your relationships and non-monogamy are developing and moving in their own unique pace, right? It may be the case that one relationship gets really intimate really fast and you start to feel a really big sense of trust with that person. And another relationship takes a much slower time to develop and that trust builds over a longer period of time. That doesn't mean that one relationship is better or more meaningful than the other. Part of non-monogamy is deconstructing our belief that relationships that have a a a relationship that models the relationship escalator are more important and more meaningful in our lives. The relationship escalator is a term that we use to describe the expectations of relationships in a cis heteronormative society. So this looks like meeting somebody, dating them, getting married, then having kids, then staying together forever and dying in the same bed together. That's an example of a relationship escalator. The idea with the relationship escalator is not that there's anything wrong with taking that path or having that pattern of relationships, but that when we all feel forced or compulsive to have that sort of path in a relationship, then it takes away our ability to really calibrate our relationships to what works for our specific needs. So that's one thing to think about as you're navigating non-monogamy, is that one thing that's so amazing about non-monogamy is that it helps support us to have relationships with other human beings that are really meaningful and powerful but don't necessarily align with this pattern of dating, marriage, kids, death. So something to think about as we continue exploring non-monogamy. Another thing that's really important in creating healthy relationships in non-monogamy or monogamy is repetitive, soothing, or specifically having somebody show up for you over and over again. And this is something that also builds trust. Specifically, when we are soothing a partner or asking for somebody to help soothe us, we want to look for if that person is respecting our boundaries of how we want to be taking care of. And also if they're letting us know what they have capacity for. A lot of the time in non-monogamy, people talk about how beneficial it can be to have multiple partners to meet our needs. But important thing to also remember is that we also need each of those partners to show up for us. And if we have a really big crisis or we're having a hard day and somebody who we really trust and care about can never show up for us in that time and is always asking us to go reach out to somebody else, that might be something to just check in about. Is that person emotionally available? Do they really have space to build a connection that feels safe and secure? Sometimes we have partners who aren't really available for us emotionally, and that feels great and fine. Maybe they're just a play partner and that feels totally appropriate. They have only a sexual relationship, or maybe they are a platonic partner who is really busy and wants to hang out and play video games and that's all they have space for. That is okay, but something to think about is just noticing how much capacity people do have in order to show up for us and how much capacity we have to show up for other folks to other really important aspects of building a healthy relationship. Our vulnerability and accountability vulnerability is incredibly important and also helps us build trust with other people. When we're vulnerable and authentic and honest, then we are letting other people know that it's safe for them to do the same. If we are not vulnerable, then it's incredibly difficult to create intimacy that feels really authentic and grounded and true to ourselves. It can be so difficult to be vulnerable with partners, especially in non-monogamy, when there are lots of different factors happening, right? There's jealousy that can come up, there's fear of abandonment. There's also fear of maybe having a partner share your information or your deep secrets that you tell only them with another partner. So when we are practicing vulnerability, we want to be clear on what our boundaries and expectations are with other people. Be sure to tell your partners if it's something for just them to know or something that it's fine for their other partners to know. Also, think about how you can engage with vulnerability in a way that is respectful of that other person's needs and desires as well. We don't want to just show up to a date and like dump a bunch of really intense, heavy stuff on somebody without asking them at first if that is something that they have space for and that they're open to. Conflict is incredibly normal and appropriate for all relationships. But it's important that when we're navigating conflict, we really become aware of if our partners are truly taking accountability for the harm that they've done or if they're just trying to pass it off and brush it under the rug and move on. Some things to look for are if your partner is giving you an authentic apology of really saying, I am sorry that I did this thing. Not I'm sorry that this happened to you or I'm sorry you feel that way, but really taking responsibility for the impact that they had on another person. Another thing to look for is if your partner can really clearly articulate how they are going to do better in the future and how they're going to repair the harm that happened. This is going to be a conversation, obviously, too, because we want to focus on what the person who was harmed means in order to move forward. Also, think about your own experiences of accountability when was there a time that you hurt somebody else and how did you respond to that? Do you need to maybe check in with what your needs are in terms of healing your own wounds that could make you a more effective partner in taking accountability for the harm that you do to others? It's okay to make mistakes and you're not a bad person if you do hurt somebody else's feelings, right? The most important thing is to think about how you can do better from there and how you can specifically take care of that person who's been harmed and really look after them. Sometimes that looks like a relationship ending and that is okay. It is okay to discover that people are not compatible because they have different boundaries and needs and expectations. Remember that part of non-monogamy is that we're really giving people the choice to opt into relationships and we're not forcing them to stay in one relationship with another person and never expand from that, or grow or explore other things or discover what might be better for them. So part of that is acknowledging that when our partners are choosing us, that means that they also get to choose when there's something better for them, whether that's a different person, a different situation being single or whatever that looks like. It can be so painful to go through break ups, but remember that it is a really normal part of life. And we can also navigate those break ups with kindness and compassion, just like we navigate our relationships with kindness and compassion. We've been talking a lot about trust in this class, so I want to read you all a quote from Jessica Fern in her book Polly Scare, which is such a wonderful book, and I highly recommend that you read it if you're interested in attachment, trauma and polyamory. If I turn towards you, will you be there for me? Will you receive and accept me instead of attack, criticize, dismiss or judge me? Will you comfort me? Will you respond in a way that calms my nervous system? Do I matter to you? Do I make a difference in your life? Can we lean into and rely on each other? I love this quote because I find that often in resources and books that talk about non-monogamy, there's an emphasis on taking responsibility for your own feelings and really working through those on your own. And I think that's so important, and it's really important that we develop autonomy and independence and non-monogamy. But sometimes I think that there's a lack of acknowledgment of how important it is to feel trust and feel collaboration and really secure attachment with our partners, because it can be so helpful to have somebody else reflect back to us how we're feeling or the struggles that are coming up for us and vice versa. So something I want you to think about as you're exploring non-monogamy is how you can balance the experience of being an autonomous and independent person, with the experience of being interdependent and relating to another person in a collaborative and supportive way. As a holistic sex educator. One thing that I think about a lot is the way that our aspects of life, like our society and environment and our personal life, intertwine and impact each other. And our society currently in this white supremacist capitalist society that we live in, there is so many oppressive forces that keep people from having a truly safe and secure relationship with themselves and with others. It's so much harder to have the space and capacity for these complex negotiations of relationships when we are living in an oppressive society and when we don't have our basic needs of human decency and respect being met by our government and culture at large. So something to think about in your relationships are what power dynamics are at play? Are there ways in which you have more or less privilege than your partners and how is this impacting your ability to feel safe and secure with them or their ability to feel safe and secure with you? It can be really helpful to ask partners if this is something that they want to talk about, but also know that not all partners who are in positions of being a marginalized person are going to want to discuss that this at length. And it really depends on your relationship to them and their comfort with you specifically. But I do think it's really important for all of us to think about how we are positioned in society and how this impacts our ability to support other people in a loving and caring way. Know also that people's boundaries about the kinds of things that they talk about, the kinds of events they go to, and the partners that they have may be may come from a place of having had experiences of being oppressed or marginalized in their life and searching for a more of a sense of safety in their relationships. So it's really important that we respect what other people need and want in their relationships and continue to support them in those needs and wants. For example, this might look like somebody who maybe wants to have a relationship with a certain kind of person that has more identities that are similar to them rather than somebody who has a lot more privilege than them. And that's totally okay. We all need to be aware of the way that we can support marginalized people to feel the most safety and security in their life as possible until we fully disrupt and disintegrate and destroy all of the systems that are oppressing human beings. Okay, Now I'm going to introduce to you all an exercise that you can do alone or with partners. So in this exercise, there are four different questions that you can ask in either respond to you in a journal or as a journal prompt or in a conversation with a partner or just in your own heart. Whatever feels good. So I'm going to go ahead and read these questions out loud to you. And if you like, you can take a couple of minutes right now. You can pause this video and just go ahead and answer one of these questions if one of them calls to you. Question one How do we bring an experience of physical safety into our relationship? And what I mean by this is experience of safety that we feel in our physical body. So not an experience of, you know, not harming somebody physically, but experience of feeling safe in our body. Question two How do we build relationships that are joyful, pleasurable and contain space for conflict and change? Question three How do we heal from challenging experiences while relating to others? What supports this process and question for what is an example of a time I felt trust? What did it feel like in my body? Okay, great. So if you want to go ahead and pause now and do those activities, you can or if you already did them. Thank you so much for doing that. And we're going to move on to some more concrete tools that you can use in your relationships to support facilitating trust, consent and boundaries. There are a lot of different ways that we can support partners and support ourselves. So let's think about different tools that you might want to ask for in order to support yourself in non-monogamy. One tool that I would recommend that every person and non-monogamy utilize is check ins. Check ins are so helpful because they give us an opportunity to have an intentional space to talk about how we're doing that week, that day, but also how we're doing more broadly over the course of our relationship or of our journey. Exploring non-monogamy. If you're newer to non-monogamy, I would really recommend that you schedule check ins at a regular interval so you can have a a really concrete time and place that you're checking in with a partner. And you know that that's going to happen every week or every two weeks or every month or whatever feels right to you. One thing that's helpful about this is that sometimes in non-monogamy, we end up in situations where we're doing a lot of different things with different partners and we're trying to stay stay up to date with everybody too. So we're just overcommunicate and constantly like telling every single partner, every single detail that's happening. As soon as that happens, this can be really overwhelming and time consuming because it's just so much information to share. So it can be helpful to be like, Hey, each of my partners has this one hour every two weeks where we sit down and we give each other all the information that they need to know and that I need to know. You can also think about how you can make these check ins more pleasurable and more supportive for yourself. So this might look like cushioning them with a fun activity before and after. Maybe having your check in in a place where you feel really safe and secure, maybe wearing something soft and comfortable to check in, or specifically practicing like touching your partner or looking into their eyes, putting your phones away, all, all these different kinds of things that can help our nervous system feel more safe and secure while we're having that check in. Some other tools that can be really helpful in non-monogamy are specifically scheduling dates at times that you can strategize based on what else is going on in your life. For example, if you know that you're going to have a really big long weekend date with one partner, asking another partner to maybe plan a really special date that next week so you can sort of balance the time that you're spending with people. This depends, obviously, on the kind of non-monogamy that you're practicing. It's not always applicable. So sometimes that just looks like maybe like scheduling a date for a couple of months out or whenever that feels right. But really thinking about planning dates ahead of time can be helpful because then you sort of have that constant planning off the table, right? If you can say like every Friday, is this time for this partner? We don't have to utilize it, but we can if we want to. Or every third Monday or every Saturday in February or something like that. So you really have something on the schedule. It can also be really helpful to utilize a Google calendar if you have multiple partners or you're in a poly Huel where lots of people are seeing each other and you maybe have kids schedules to work with or shared pet parenting schedules or work schedules. That way everyone can see what's going to happen and you can look ahead, look ahead a couple of months to see what dates are available and what dates are taken. You don't have to put a bunch of details about what you're going to do on that date or whatever. You can just block off that time and be like, I'm with this partner here. That can be a helpful way to kind of even the playing field to you so everyone can see what's going on. And it doesn't feel like decisions are being made completely without the awareness of other people. Another great tool to utilize nominal me is called collaborative problem solving. This is a unique tool to non-monogamy because of the way that we can solve problems by really involving everyone who is related to the problem. Obviously we can do that with other people too, but it's cool to do a non-monogamy specifically related to issues happening in a relationship or a poly cool. This is not going to be appropriate or relevant to every single non-monogamous experience and it's really important that we get consent before we try to embark on a collaborative, problem solving process. But basically what it looks like is if there is anybody who's having a struggle, we get together all of the people who are impacted by it or who may be related to it and really talk about it and brainstorm it as a group. So a great example of this is, let's say that there's one partner in a poly here who's experiencing a lot of anxiety and jealousy. One way that we can address that is by asking everyone in the poly cool to get together. And if they consent, then talking about how we could specifically support that partner to make them feel a little bit more comfortable. This can show everyone in a in a poly Huel or in metamorph relationships that we're really looking out for each other and that our desire to date the same person isn't coming from a desire to steal them away or to threaten that person's safety and security in their relationship. It's a powerful experience to have met was really show up for us and be like, Hey, I'm on your team. And even if I'm not trying to have a relationship with you, I still want you to be happy and healthy and supported. Another really great tool that we can utilize in non-monogamy and in life is cultivating a healthy relationship with ourself and really cultivating autonomy and independence in our. This looks like specifically creating time where we can have alone time take ourselves on dates, maybe create a very specific and intentional solo sex or masturbation practice, and do all of the things that make us feel really happy and joyful just to be alone with ourselves in non-monogamy. Oftentimes we can get oversaturated with connection with other people because it's so exciting to have the opportunity to meet new people and engage with them and connect with them. So it's really important to remember to also carve out time for yourself. My students hear me say all the time, time as a tool and as one of my dear friends, Maz used to say, Time takes time, and it takes time to develop non-monogamy skills, communication skills, cooking skills, skills around consent and STI testing skills around navigating conflict and boundaries with metamorphose and partners and all of the many, many other complex skills that it requires to be non-monogamous in a healthy and secure way. So know that if you are just embarking on this journey right now, that it's going to take time for you to develop those skills. And that's okay. There are going to be hiccups. There are going to be accidents and mistakes, and you don't need to stress and panic about that. That's a part of life and it's okay. We can support you through it. Your partners can support you through it. But I know from experience, as somebody who has been non-monogamous for over six years now, that I still feel like I am absolutely just beginning on this journey and there's so much more life ahead of me to continue to explore the different styles of relationships, the ways that I can be a better communicator, and the ways I can support my partners and myself even more effectively. I'm going to share with you all a tool that I find extremely helpful for talking to partners when we're feeling activated or scared or jealous in a non-monogamous situation. So this chart is was created by Dan SIEGEL in 1999 from the book, the developed Mind How Relationships and and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. And it is a chart that explains our window of tolerance, which is the place in which our nervous system is in a calm and in relaxed and mostly feeling good state of mind. You can see up on the top of the chart, hyper arousal is the state that our body moves. And when we move into fight or flight, when we feel angry, out of control, anxious or overwhelmed. And down at the bottom of the chart, you can see hypo arousal, which is when our body moves into a freeze or fawn mode, which is when we feel spaces zoned out, numb or frozen, or the desire to just please somebody else and totally focus on their needs. This this chart is extremely helpful for talking about where our nervous system is at, and especially if we are somebody who lives with trauma or is navigating life with PTSD or CTE. See PTSD. This chart can be very helpful way to describe what's going on in our nervous system. So one thing you can think about is like, where are you right now? Are you in your window of tolerance or are you mostly feeling good and calm? Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling more zoned out? What's that like for you? What do you feel like during a date? What do you feel like before or after a date? Starting to chart and notice where your nervous system rests at these different moments in your non-monogamous journey can be really helpful because it helps us chart where we might need a little bit more support and where we're really functioning well and we're feeling good. If you are somebody who has experienced trauma in your life, you might find that your window window of tolerance is smaller than other people, and that's really common and normal. That's something that happens to people when they experience trauma, and that's one way that our brains change. So that's something to think about to also in the way that we think about how power and privilege is at play in our relationship is that if we are somebody who experiences trauma or mental health challenges or mental illness, it is likely that we're going to have less capacity for a lot of stress and anxiety and upheaval, and our window of tolerance is going to be smaller. That doesn't mean that we can't learn coping skills and utilize therapy and medication and other tools to support our needs. But it is something to be aware of. Okay. This next tool that I want to share with you is another really great tool for talking about how we're experiencing feelings in our body. And it's specifically a great tool for folks who maybe have a hard time articulating what it is like to be them and what it is like to have feelings. So this activity you're going to draw or you can print out a body, as I have on this slide, and then you're going to label, draw or or color in how it feels in your body. You can get really artistic with this too, and utilize stickers or different markers and colored pencils and shapes and all sorts of things all over this body. You also don't have to stay in the lines, right? You can use things that maybe are radiating out of a certain place. And remember, too, that these tools can be really helpful not only for describing when you're having a really hard time, but also describing when you're having a really good time. Something that can happen in non-monogamy is that when we're experiencing multiple really passionate or intense or loving relationships, our body can get so overwhelmed by good feelings that it can just be a lot to process and that can be especially intense in a society that in general is extremely pleasure negative and sex negative. So if you're having a lot of love and sex and joy in your life, it can be hard to process and feel all of those things because oftentimes people in the greater culture of our world don't really want to hear about it. So one thing that can be helpful is to use things like this body scan chart to draw what it is like in your body and what it feels like as a tool to help process that experience. In non-monogamy, you'll find that we have a lot of hard conversations and heart to hearts. So this is a tool that we can utilize in order to make those conversations happen a little bit more smoothly and also keep them as honest and authentic as possible. So you can use this checklist if you're having a hard conversation with a partner. And and also I would recommend it specifically for people who struggle with people pleasing or people who really want to tell their partner what they want to hear, because it can be a helpful way to check in with what your actual authentic, honest truth is. So in this check in first we have what is honest. And that's a great question to ask before you even start having a conversation with a partner. And maybe you can write down even a couple of notes or think about specifically what is your truth and what is authentic to you before you have that conversation. And that can help you be accountable to yourself. Because then when you're having that conversation with a partner, it's like, Oh, I've already kind of thought about what's true to me and now I can't just as easily change my mind to say what they want to hear. Another question to ask is How can I articulate what I'm feeling? And before you have a conversation with somebody, you might want to take some time to journal a little bit or utilize a tool like a body scan template, or even looking at a chart like the chart I showed you before of the window of tolerance and hypo arousal and hyper arousal. Then during the conversation, some questions that you can ask yourself can be, Do I understand fully what my partner is saying? And do I need more information when we're in a conversation with somebody? It can be really tempting to just focus on what we want to say to them, and that's really important too. But making sure that you really understand what the other person is saying is a helpful way to collect information so you can decide what you need to say next and how you want to move forward. After a hard conversation, a really helpful question to ask yourself and partners is What do I say you want to hear right now? Sometimes when we're having a conversation with partners, we're doing our very best to support them by saying what we think they want to hear in a way that we're trying to be like validating and be like, Yes, that makes sense. I'm hearing you and I love you and support you, but there are times we're not quite saying exactly what our partner needs to hear to really relieve anxiety. And so sometimes we can have a conversation with them about that being like, what would actually make you feel a lot better? What do you want to hear? And if our partner knows, they can tell us, the really important piece of this is to start developing a relationship where you can trust that your person and your partner isn't going to just say what you want to hear because you asked for it. So let's break this down for a moment. Imagine that you're having a conversation with a partner about something difficult, and at the end of a conversation you might ask them, Hey, is there anything else that you want to hear? Is there something that would really help make you feel better about the situation That I could tell you or reassure you about? Let me give you an example. Let's say that you have two partners and one partner you're about to move in with, and the other partner you're letting them know that that's about to happen, Right? And the partner that's you're not moving in with is feeling really sad. They're feeling upset. They're feeling anxious about this new shift in the dynamic and in your relationship. So you're talking about it. You're telling them all the things that are going to happen, how you're feeling, you're listening, validating, and at some point you're like, Hey, is there something that you want to hear that would make you feel better about this? And maybe your partner says, Yeah, it would make me feel a lot better if you could tell me that we're still going to have sleepovers together. Now, at this point, a couple of different things can happen. One is that your partner asks you for something that you're really excited to tell them because that's exactly how you feel, right? You're like, Yes, I definitely still want to have sleepovers with you. Another option is that your partner asks you for something that you don't feel comfortable saying to them because it's not true for you. And that's okay. This is an opportunity where you're going to show your partner that you are going to respect your own boundaries and always be truthful and authentic with them, even if it's hard for them to hear. So in that moment, you have a couple different options. You can either be like, Hey, I don't feel comfortable saying that, but there is this similar thing that I do feel comfortable saying. Like, for example, I don't feel comfortable saying that we're still going to have sleepovers, but I know that I still want to spend a lot of time with you. And I definitely still want to have sex with you and definitely still want to take naps with you. Another option is that you can talk a little bit more about the actual question that they asked with them to clarify what it is that they're needing and to use that as an opportunity to discuss the needs and boundaries of the relationship. For example, this can reveal the differences that you have in the expectation of a relationship. So if your partner says, I really want us to still have sleepovers together, and you're like, Whoa, I actually am realizing that I want to kind of change the dynamic of our relationship to be a little bit more platonic or to be more focused on daytime activities right then this is a great opportunity for you to talk about that. And share that information with them as well. Ultimately, it's really important that we're all clear on what each other want and need. So this is why this question can be really revealing. It can be really helpful, but it can also just clarify things in a way that's really important. Now, if you're on the other side of this question of having somebody say, like, what do you want to hear right now? And you have to respond to that. There are also a couple of different things that can happen. One is that you might not know exactly what you need to hear in that moment, and that's okay. You can always say like, you know, there's nothing specific that I need to hear or, you know, I'm not sure right now I'll get back to you. But it can also be a really helpful moment to take some time to say like, hey, actually, what is it that I specifically need from this situation? What is the deeper anxiety that I have if my partner assured me that this thing was going to happen or that they were going to still show up for me in this way, would I feel better? And for example, in this situation where, let's say you're one of your partners is moving in with somebody else, it makes sense that we might feel anxious or scared that that partner's not going to want to spend as much time with us. So getting to the root of what your need and anxiety is and then asking for that specific thing can be really, really helpful for everyone involved. Okay. Another tool that I want to share with you all is called a deep plan. And this tool is really helpful if you're somebody who feels a lot of anxiety when you or your partner is going on a date. And this really can go either way, because sometimes people do feel really activated and scared when they're going on a date and their partner is staying at home because that can bring up feelings of guilt and fear that they're hurting their partner or actually cheating on them, or being nefarious or disrespectful. Even if everything is totally consensual, it can still bring up those fears and it can be really helpful if you're on the other side, if you're at home, or if you are on your own date while your partner is on their date, too. So when you're making a date plan and you want to think about how you can support yourself before, during and after, a really great way to start by making a date plan is to think about just all of the things that help you feel better or help your nervous system calm down when you're upset and then plan these things before the date, during the date and after the date, you want to make sure that you're thinking about things that are realistic and things that you can do for yourself. So obviously you can bring in other people to be part of your date plan, like hanging out with a friend or a partner or or asking your partner for a specific need. Like you can see on my date plan that I said, Ask for what I need from partners such as words, hugs or tokens of love, but you want to make sure that it's realistic and the other people involved are consenting to it. So, for example, I'm not going to plan on my partner giving me words, hugs or tokens of love during their date, right? That wouldn't be appropriate. And I also need to check in with them before I make this plan and be like, Hey, are you available to do these things for me? Can I ask this from you? Then when you're making your plan, you can also think about specifically things that would be supportive on that day. So you can have sort of a skeleton plan that you use. And then when you're actually getting ready for for your date or for your partner to go on a date looking at your plan and adding a couple more details or more specifics to it can be really helpful. Now we're going to talk a little bit about soothing practices. One thing I want to make really clear about soothing practices is that they're not designed to take away all of the pain and discomfort of a situation. When we talk about self soothing or soothing with a partner, we're really talking about ways that we can support our body and mind to navigate a hard situation in a more pleasurable and safer way. I like to think of it as the same sort of situation as if you're really sick and maybe you lie on the couch and wrap yourself in a blanket and watch your favorite TV show. Right? Those things can definitely help you get better because your resting and you're giving yourself joy and safety, but you're not doing them because you know that they're going to solve your sickness in that exact moment. You're doing them to help support yourself during the time that you're feeling sick. So we can think of soothing as kind of similar, but for emotions rather than physical sickness. The other thing that I would make really clear about soothing is that it is both an independent process and a collaborative process. So if we only have self-soothing tools, then we're going to feel really disconnected from other people and we're going to have a hard time getting soothing from other people, which we definitely need as humans. And if we can only be soothed with other people, it's going to be really hard for us to take care of ourselves when other people aren't available, which is just a fact of life. So think about how you can balance cultivating soothing tools that other people can offer you and not just partners, right? Family, friends, pets, coworkers, all different kinds of people in your life. And soothing tools that you can offer yourself. So let's talk a little bit about what those tools might be and how you can begin to cultivate them. I would recommend that you all take a moment to pause this video and start by writing down a couple lists of different soothing activities that might be helpful for you. So you can just write down anything that makes you feel better, makes you feel pleasure, makes you feel safe. Any kind of activity, anything from masturbating to having sex, to eating food, to going on a walk, to playing with a pet, to writing in your journal, to exercising of any sort that you anything that feels good, right? So write down all of those things and it can be really helpful to just have that list like a really robust list of lots of different activities so that when you're having a hard time, you can go to that list and be like, Okay, what can I do right now? What is available to me? And you don't have to be coming up with a bunch of ideas in that moment. Another thing you can do is specifically ask your partners what feels most soothing to them for you to do for them, and then kind of have a conversation about what you were available for and what is most helpful for them. The thing that's great about this is that you really get to have a collaborative conversation about how to take care of each other. And for some people, maybe they feel really soothed by one person telling them like, you're doing a great job or like giving them a lot of affirmation of like encouragement and a pep talk and maybe by another person that's not as helpful. So that's something to think about too, is that you might find that with one partner you need a certain kind of soothing, and with another partner you need a different kind of soothing. And it can be really important to explore those nuances. A really important part of non-monogamy to notice and remember is that we may have very different relationships with people, but that doesn't mean that they're more or less meaningful. We get to decide how we prioritize relationships, how much time we spend with people, what we do with them, and how we fit them into our life. But just because we spend a lot of time with somebody doesn't mean inherently that we love them more or that they're more important to us than somebody that we only see once a year. Remember that, especially when we're talking about things like how we support certain people or how we feel soothed by certain people. We need different things as people. And it's not bad or wrong. If you need something different, then another partner does or a metamorph does. Right. So think about coming back always to really grounding and what you need and what feels the best for you. If you can really focus on that and focus on your relationships rather than constantly comparing to what is this other person getting, if they're getting it, I should get it too. Right? If you want it and need it, you can always ask for it. But focus on being like, Hey, what? What would I need if I was just like working in a totally safe and secure place with myself and grounding in what my needs are and less on what everyone else is getting. To finish our class. I'm going to touch a little bit on how to support folks who live with trauma in non-monogamous relationships. This has been and could be an entire class. So if you do fall into this category and you want more support, you can definitely reach out to me and I can give you some more resources and tools. But I just really wanted to touch on it in this class because I think it's so important to address the way that trauma and also mental health can change our capacity to be in non-monogamous relationships effectively and securely. So know that if you are somebody who has experienced trauma in your life, especially relational trauma, it's totally normal to feel more activated and more triggered by non-monogamy, my non-monogamous relationships and experiences. That is certainly not the only experience of people who have experienced trauma. Many people feel very soothed by being in monogamous relationships because of the way that inherently destabilizes things like power and control in in normative societal representations of relationships. Right? Non-monogamy is really about autonomy and respect and cultivating love outside of expectations of having just a non-monogamous and nuclear family bubble, Right? I mean, monogamous and nuclear family bubble. Some other questions that we can ask ourselves as people who live with trauma are what feels safe to me. What do I want and need when I'm activated? What are my patterns and expectations and relationships and what is my support system? These are great journal questions as well as questions to ask partners or have conversations about. And remember that sometimes we are drawn to people because they replicate our trauma or because they feel familiar to the traumatic experiences that we've had. And that can be so scary and so destabilizing. But it can also feel less scary than embarking on to a safe and secure relationship. So just a reminder that sometimes when we're building safety and security in relationships that can feel so scary too, and so triggering and that doesn't mean that you're on the wrong path or that you're doing the wrong thing. The last thing I want to remind you all to do before we say goodbye is that I really don't want you to leave this class feeling like you have to be non-monogamous. And you can absolutely continue to explore non-monogamy and then utilize all those skills in a monogamous relationship. There is no inherent hierarchy of monogamy or non-monogamy. There are simply two different ways of relating to people, and they can be so healthy and fulfilling and supportive in their own unique ways. Really what it comes down to is if you are getting your needs met, do you feel supported? Do you feel loved, and do you feel like you're in the relationship that you want to be in? If you do, then that's really all that matters. And I really hope that this class has given you some tools to support your relationships, no matter what style of relationship you're in. This class can absolutely be utilized by monogamous people to learn more about themselves and their partners. So go forth and do whatever feels right to you. Thank you all so much for being here. I'm really excited for you and hopeful for you to explore non-monogamy me more, and I hope that you get everything you want out of your relationships. I hope that your lives are filled with so much love and pleasure and joy and just know that I'm here with you on this journey. And I really believe that practicing non-monogamy and exploring non-monogamy is such a powerful experience for learning about the self and learning about others and really destabilizing oppressive systems of this heteronormative society. So go out there and love on each other and I'll be here rooting you on. You can reach out to me at [email protected], or you can follow me on Instagram @queerbrainslut and I'll hear from you soon. Feel free to reach out. So bye for now, friends.