Thursday, June 11, 2009

Poly 101 comes to Kelowna!

I've been asked by friends if I'd help host a Poly 101 get together in Kelowna, BC!  If you live in the area and are interested, please come out and meet us!

This meeting will be a friendly informal get-together to discuss the idea of polyamorous relationships and share basic information and plan for future meets. Come meet others who are curious about or are living in poly relationships and explore some of the challenges and joys of loving more than one person openly and ethically.

Tuesday, June 23rd. 7 pm
St. Nicholas Avenue: 10886 Bottom Woodlake Road
Lake Country, BC

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dealing with jealousy; getting to compersion: discussion notes from Poly 101

The last Poly 101 discussion had a record number of people in attendance.  To make sure everyone who wanted to had a chance to speak, we broke into four smaller groups after a general discussion about jealousy and compersion.  The following are notes from three of the groups.  It was a VERY productive session!


We spent a lot of time elaborating on a vocabulary to describe the elements surrounding jealousy. This is an outline of that vocabulary and some of the discussion items around combating jealousy. I've added some of my own ideas to complete the notes.


Jealousy and Envy
While jealousy is anxiety over an anticipated loss of something, envy is anxiety over the desire to have something that someone else has. (So we may feel jealous about our partner's relationship with another, and envy about that other's relationship with our partner.)

Trust and Acceptance
Trust with a partner can make a significant impact on whether either party feels jealous. If you feel that you can trust a partner, the risk or feeling of anticipated loss is much less. Trust means that you feel that you can honour each other's agreements, that you will be honest with each other, etc.
Part of the problem with trust is that we feel we can trust someone if they act exactly in accordance with the rules or boundaries that we are comfortable with, or at least have agreed to. A higher ground than trust is acceptance. If we can accept someone for who they are, then we are more resilient (and less inclined to be jealous) at times when he or she cannot be trusted as much. This requires knowing someone very well. For example, accepting a compulsive liar means understanding when they can be trusted and when they can't, and being okay with this. Accepting someone as they are is also an important component of love.

Reassurance, Disclosure and Check-Ins
Offering reassurance to a partner helps to combat jealousy by lessening the threat of a situation that they have no control over. Reassurance includes reminding a partner how you feel about them; or planning a date on the day after a date with someone else.
Disclosure is more proactive than reassurance. Volunteering information helps to remove some of the mystery and anxiety that can develop if a partner begins to make their own assumptions about what may or may not be happening outside of their control.
Check-Ins are periodic communications between partners to confirm feelings, share information, and proactively double-check that assumptions and prior arrangements are still working for both parties. Checking in regularly can help greatly with trust and overcoming jealousy. You can't check in too much.

Other Tools to Combat Jealousy
1) Partners meeting each other. This can result in the lessening of anxiety, removal of assumptions and also genuinely liking the other person, which makes it much easier to wish them and your partner well.
2) Discussing feelings together. By processing feelings as a team, you can become aware of each other's priorities, anxieties, discuss new boundaries, and offer reassurance before feelings get unnecessarily out of hand. This also helps build trust and acceptance.

Processing Alone or Together
Some people prefer to process their feelings alone, for several hours or sometimes days, before discussing them with a partner. They want to keep the processing part private and avoid premature conclusions or the risk of sharing unfinished or uncertain thoughts. Once finished, they want to share their conclusions, needs and wants. Others feel more comfortable sharing their processing, with the advantage that feelings can be dealt with more quickly. This requires a greater amount of trust and a willingness to make mistakes.

Ownership of Jealousy
Jealousy is a feeling that is owned by the one that experiences it. If you are jealous, you cannot blame another for that feeling. You can discuss that person's behaviour, but the feeling remains your own. Just like anger, jealousy can be destructive and it helps to be able to do the inner work so it can be dealt with -- not externalize it or project it.  Clarify that jealousy can and should be discussed and shared. Ownership of the emotion doesn't mean keeping it to yourself, but accepting responsibility for it.

Compromise and Negotiation
Compromise is when both parties give something up. This is not always ideal, since it means a loss to both, but in many cases it's not necessary for both to give something up. For example, if I like cheese and you like bananas, mixing them together is a tasteless compromise. But if we have cheese today and banana tomorrow, I have what I want today and you have what you want tomorrow.
One advantage of negotiation in love, when compared to negotiation in most other scenarios, is that, because you love someone, you are willing to encourage them to start the negotiation by expressing ALL of their needs and wants. You actually are interested in trying to meet as many of them as possible.

Another group discussed the following ideas:

Not keeping score

Looking for complementary benefits of other relationships

Understanding your own needs and needs of others and that don't always
mesh, and having realistic expectations of needs being met

Communication - OPEN - accepting feelings, clear communication about

Not obsessing about future but still processing  / not denying worries


Finally, the group I was in had these points to add to the general wisdom of the evening:

A memorable quote from my group in relation to encouraging compersion to blossom:  one must "feed a culture of compersion".   

This can be done in several ways, but mostly by communicating and reflecting compersion back to your partner on a regular basis by telling them when you feel happy for them or asking for reassurance that they do feel happy for you.  Cultivating friendships with partners of partners (metamours) also helps feed compersion.  Demystifying sex can also be helpful (because we communicate sexually as well as verbally!).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Upcoming poly workshop: Polyamory and Social Activism

A Series of Community Celebrations
@ 26 Linden Avenue; West Coast Salish

Saturday August 8th
(come early for the workshops! we won't start over)

2pm-4pm -- Polyamory and Social Activism
4pm-4:20pm -- Snack 'n' Slack
4:20pm-6pm -- tba
6pm -------- POTLUCK -------- 6pm
6pm-7:30pm -- tba
7:30pm -- !!EARLY LIVE SHOW!! -- 7:30pm

Revolutionary Rap & Hip Hop (fr London, ON)

The Peoples Poets
Revolutionary Hip Hop (fr Edmonton, AB)

The Outspoken Wordsmiths
Beatbox Harmonix & Subversive Spoken Word (fr Victoria, BC)

& more tba

"Community in Action" is a series of free 'all-day' festivals, comprised of free workshops, lectures/discussions, arts'n'crafts activities and more!
All events will be free and open to all ages
donations encouraged and rewarded
Free food and good music too!

The Linden House has been home to local activists since 2002. From day one, it's original tenants intended for the space to be used in a communal manner, and it has, for six years and counting. From hosting free workshops and live shows, to housing travelers and couch surfers, serving as a kitchen for Food Not Bombs and participating in other food security initiatives, the Linden House has rooted itself in the local community.

To celebrate the Linden Houses continual community involvement we are hosting monthly events centered around sharing space, food, music, skills and ideas.

-------------------- 2pm-4pm ----------------------
Polyamory and Social Activism
facilitated by Kiki Christie

Intimate relationships are the foundation of family, community and of society as a whole. When we deconstruct pre-programmed ideas of how we relate to each other on an intimate level, eventually we change the way we feel and act towards everyone we relate to.
Polyamory -- the practice of openly and honestly loving more than one person -- poses challenges for personal growth and communication that can also create an ideal background for challenging traditional relationship structures and set the stage for sex positive culture and social change

As polyamory becomes increasingly public and politicized, we are in need of a new relationship model that is distinct from monogamy that still demonstrates the values of love, commitment and security. Through practicing polyamory while being conscious of how we speak about and act towards everyone we relate to, it is possible to bring polyamory into the public world in a way that both celebrates the unique aspects of poly while demonstrating skills that are of value to everyone.

This workshop will examine how the practice of polyamory can open our minds and hearts to creating new social paradigms of acceptance and self-knowlege, in particular how to balance intentional community with self-awareness and individual responsibility.

Kiki Christie is a polyamorous workshop facilitator and founder of Victoria Poly 101, a poly discussion group that focuses on issues around poly education and practice. She is also a sex positive writer and networker.