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  • lgracewebb

"Poly, Hot, and Have to Explain My Situation a Lot" Workshops

As part of Your Empowered Sexuality’s Facilitator Training Program in the summer of 2021, Jai-La Aponte and I created a workshop on non-monogamous relational skills. We wanted to explore how the skills that often come from non-monogamous experiences, such as communication, building relationships based on values, and questioning many of the relationship “truths” we take for granted. We were lucky enough to get to present this workshop twice- once with YES!, and once with SHIP.

Here are a couple excerpts and takeaways from the workshop:

Questioning our assumptions and beliefs about relationships:

A lot of the things we are taught about relationships aren’t true for everyone. A non-monogamy mindset helps us question a lot of these beliefs and figure out whether they still fit us. Our beliefs about relationships can be constantly changing and evolving!

How to build values-based relationships:

Since non-monogamy involves questioning so many of the things we were taught about relationships, it can be easy to feel lost and confused about what you actually want, what behaviors are acceptable and ethical, and how to go about building the relationships that you want.

We think it’s important and helpful to build relationships starting from your values. In non-monogamy, where relationships can take so many forms, it’s helpful to think about these forms as evolving from values.

Possible values we could have: wanting to raise a family, wanting health insurance, wanting to live with a partner, valuing your friendships are just as much as your romantic partnerships, or wanting a platonic life partner instead of a sexual connection. If you are interested in monogamy, can you also think about how is this an expression of your values?

How to have conversations about these values and put them into practice:

If there is one thing that non-monogamy teaches you/forces you to learn, it’s communication! When we start to undo compulsory monogamy, lots of the things that were once taken for granted about how relationships proceed can’t be taken for granted anymore. Now, you have to talk about it all!

Building values-based relationships of all kinds:

Non-monogamy can also help us look at relationships through an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset (even if we’re monogamous!)- one person can’t possibly meet all of our needs, but we exist in community with friends, family, and lovers or romantic partners who we can collaborate with to help make sure that all of us are cared for and supported. All of the skills and concepts we are discussing are super applicable to friends, family, coworkers, etc!

One of the most fun parts of the workshop was the opportunity to crowdsource communication tips and tricks from the group. Below are some of my favorite pieces of wisdom that were shared:

"Sex and love aren’t about possession, and I think that’s what monogamy culture engrains in us."

"My partner and I always talk about a “pie chart” of needs. That your needs are broken into pie

chart slices, and some people (or even a pet, or a friend, etc.) can cover those pie slices."

"Before we had hard conversations, we’d set up an “agenda” for the conversation so we could

talk about what we needed to, and not borrow trouble where we didn’t need to. We’d always

take time to journal alone and then discuss together."

"Initiating a convo about other partners can be scary. So we gave it a fun codeword for when

we’re ready to have those convos."

"When we’d have big discussions we’d always do it holding hands or doing some kind of physical

touch, never over the phone or text."

Interested in bringing this workshop or one like it to your group or organization?

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