May 13, 2022
Open Relationships: Psychology, Attachment Styles & Communication
- How do you build compassionate open relationships?
- How do attachment styles show up in non-monogamous relationships?
- What is a non-hierarchical arrangement?
- How can you heal from previous trauma?
- How can you be more conscious in your relationships (and in life more generally)?
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kate Loree, joins us to address these questions and share insights from her new book, Open Deeply: A Guide to Building Conscious, Compassionate Open Relationships.
Kate Loree is a sex-positive licensed marriage and family therapist and with a specialty in non-monogamous, kink, LGBTQ, and sex worker communities. In addition to her master’s in marriage and family therapy, she also has an MBA and is a registered art therapist (ATR). Kate is an EDSE certified sex educator and an EMDR certified therapist with additional training in the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) for trauma treatment. She has been practicing psychotherapy since 2003. Her private practice resides in Encino, CA. For more information, please visit her on the web at KateLoree.com or follow her on social:
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This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
Open Relationships: Psychology, Attachment Styles & Communication
You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, sex and relationship advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, Jess O’Reilly here on My Lonesome without Brandon, it’s just you and me. Plus, Kate makes three. We are going to be talking open relationships and how they’re affected by our attachment styles, by past trauma, as well as different models for empathetic communication with Kate. Laurie and I’m Super excited about this before Kate joins me, a reminder that Adam and Eve.com is back with us again for 50% off almost any single item, plus free shipping and a bunch of free goodies with code Dr. Jeff. So if you are in the market for a butt plug, for anal beads, for lube, for sex furniture, for any sex toys, lingerie, latex fetishwear, all that jazz, Adam and Eve.com code Doctor Jess will get you that big, big savings of 50% off almost any single item. All right, let’s talk open relationships. Joining us now is Kate Lori LMFT, a sex positive, licensed marriage and family therapist with a specialty in non monogamous, kink, lgdbq and sex worker communities. They are the author of Open Deeply, a guide to building conscious, compassionate, open relationships. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me. I love your podcast. Well, we’re so excited to chat with you because this book is in many ways very groundbreaking. Now, there are many books, of course, on open relationships, but yours is a little bit different. We’re going to get into why. First and foremost, though, I’m curious what motivated you to write this book in the first place. And if you can also talk a little bit about how learning about open relationships can actually be meaningful to people in all relationship arrangements, monogamous folks included. Yes, absolutely. For one, let’s just delineate one thing that when you think about monogamous relationships versus non monogamous relationships, non monogamous relationships poke at our unresolved attachment injuries way more than monogamous relationships. I know this firsthand because I went from an eleven year monogamous relationship to a 13 year non monogamous relationship in marriage. So I saw this firsthand. And this is part of the framework of how I wrote this book. My objective is to help people grow to the height of having a conscious, compassionate, open relationship. But we have to create the foundation. And the foundation is to notice what our unresolved attachment injuries are and to find ways to cope and heal those things. And so a lot of the book is talking about different ways to become aware of your attachment style, your attachment injuries, how to ground yourself, how to ground your partners. And my communication model, Epic, is created to house that as well. So one thing that monogamous people can learn from non monogamous people is to have a greater awareness of this, because honestly, in monogamous relationships, a lot of times these unresolved attachment injuries can lie dormant for decades. And you may think that you’re emotionally healthier than you are just because none of this stuff is being poked. And so when a monogamous person reads a book like this, there’s a lot of things that are going to make them think.
Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about attachment styles and relationships and specifically non monogamy. So we do have a podcast, folks, you can go back to with Dr. Gina de Julio on attachment styles, but we’ll still do a high level kind of overview. If you could talk to us a little bit about how attachment styles affect non monogamy. Yes. Okay. So first of all, let me just say that when you Google different attachment styles, you’ll pull up a lot of different things because there’s different people that have had different models. I use the Diane Pool Heller model. So that is secure ambivalent, avoidant and disorganized. Okay. So if you have a secure attachment style and you’re non monogamous, non monogamy is inherently more likely to be easier for you because you have had the elusive golden childhood more than likely, or a backstory where you have been kind of shown that the world has your back, that your parents have your back, you’ve had consistent love in your life, you’ve had consistent care. And so when you go into non monogamy, you go into non monogamy. Kind of being like, this is going to be okay because the world has always had my back. And so it’s not going to be any different here. And this is how you kind of operate within non monogamy. Whereas if you have an ambivalent style within non monogamy, I can show up different ways. With an Ambivalent style, your parents might have been there part of the time, but not consistently. And so in relationships, you tend to be more anxious. You tend to be a little bit more of a hub pilot. You tend to be dissatisfied more. And so you’re ambivalent about the relationship more. So within non monogamy, that can kind of show up probably in many ways, but two different ways. It may be that you are super anxious. Like, is this going to tear up our relationship? Is this going to mess things up? Are you going to betray me, like all these anxious stuff? And you might be a Hover pilot, kind of just watching everything right? Or anytime your partner has a date, you’re super anxious and just like he’s going to fall in love with this other person, or they sometimes the way it shows up is they are doing that in their head. But the way they’re acting is being an overgiver where they’re just like, well, maybe if I just give them everything that I want, that they want, that this will be okay. They sometimes say yes when it’s not a true yes, and they’re doing that in a certain way to try and manage their anxiety. It’s interesting. Sometimes they’re being controlling to their partner. And sometimes they’re not allowing themselves control all as a way to try and manage what’s going on in their head. A lot of women have been trained to be overgivers, and in a way, this is something for a whole podcast. We could talk about it. But why? Being an overgiver is actually a way to manage anxiety. But sometimes it is. Right. And the costs of overgiving. Right. The cost to sell, the cost to partner even, and the cost to the relationship itself. And I would think that that anxious attachment, or you call it ambivalent, is reinforced as well by messages that reinforce toxic monogamy. Right. So it’s why everybody calls a therapist and says, we really want to try this. We feel really prepared. We’ve got a great relationship foundation, but we don’t want it to destroy our relationship. And I think one of the questions we’ll often pose is why do you believe that non monogamy is more likely to destroy a relationship than monogamy itself? Because we see monogamous relationships fall apart all the time. We see monogamous relationships that are very low in satisfaction and fulfillment or unhealthy. And we don’t think it must be the monogamy. But we do that. Right. We do that to non monogamy. So you covered secure. You covered ambivalent. And I think within the Diane Pool Heller model, there’s also avoidant and disorganized. Yeah. So oftentimes ambivalent and avoidance date each other, which is a whole conversation. It has to do with their intimacy tolerance. That’s one reason for that. But the avoidance tends to pull away. They tend to be more distant. When the ambivalent one gets anxious and needs more love and needs more hugs, the avoidance will pull away, not go towards. And so this is the whole reason Sue Johnson probably wrote hold me tight. It’s that kind of dynamic where the ambivalent gets bigger, more anxious, and the avoidance pulls away. And the more that happens, the more people are cascading towards a broken relationship. Right. And when these two are dating each other, the job of the ambivalent, the one that’s getting probably more big and anxious just to kind of dial it down. And the job of the avoidance is to come forward with more love. Right.
So in non monogamy, an avoidant type is almost better as a secondary or lower stress relationship when they primary. A lot of times there’s pain that comes with that. Well, actually, can we talk about that as well? About primary, secondary, hierarchical versus nonhierarchical? Does that actually exist? I know. Of course we know the theory of relationship anarchy might be applied here. So for folks who want to go back and listen to a discussion of relationship anarchy, we have an old episode with Dr. Marquee Twist and Neil MacArthur. But relationship anarchy might suggest that no relationship ought to be prioritized over another, regardless of whether that’s a platonic relationship versus a romantic versus a sexual relationship, but within non monogamy itself. So let’s say polyamorous folks, can you be hierarchical? Well, we know we can be hierarchical. Does non hierarchical really exist? So let me just say just briefly that in my practice, regardless of how people show up, whether they have a hierarchy or they don’t, they’re Poly their swinger. I’m going to meet them where they’re at, and I’m going to respect what their boundaries are. But I might give them a few heads up and I might say something to the fact of, okay, you can decide that you’re not going to have a hierarchy or that you are going to have a hierarchy. But I’ll tell you what’s probably going to happen. Like if you start out with two people dating each other and now they’re saying, for example, we’re going to have another lover each and let’s go with the first. But we’re going to have a hierarchy and we’re going to say the most important thing in all the ways, and they’re just going to be kind of icing on the cake in our life. What a lot of times happens is that the nesting couple, the ones that say that they’re primary, they say primary when it comes to responsibility stuff. When it comes to you’re in the hospital, I’m going to be the one that shows up. I’m going to plan for retirement with you, I’m going to go on vacations and spend Christmas with you. That kind of stuff. Outside lovers oftentimes become primary when it comes to sex because they’re new, they don’t have any responsibilities. Just like, as we know that love oftentimes operates in the known and then eroticism operates in the unknown, as Esther Perel talks about. And so it’s really easy for the outside lovers to be sexy and hot. It’s really easy for them to become sexual primaries.
Now, if we flip it and we say say the opposite, we’re not going to have a hierarchy at all. Still, something very similar can happen where the person you live with becomes primary in certain ways and your outside lovers become primary in other ways. So that’s what I would say ends up happening, usually, regardless of what people’s initial intention might be. What if it’s not a couple? What if it’s somebody who’s solo Poly, somebody who’s dating around? Do they seem to have an easier time navigating nonhierarchical relationships? I would think that nesting makes it when you’re living together, there are just natural things that become more primary, especially, I think, when we think about economics, if you’re sharing money, if you’re sharing rent, as you said, planning for retirement, is it different? Navigating it for solo Poly people. Solo Polly is so hard for me to say solo Poly. Before I answer that, let me just back up and say one of the things I address in my book is because those dynamics happen. I talk about different ways to make sure that if you do have a primary or a nesting partner, someone you live with. I talked about this many times in the book. If we know that, how do we tackle it so that you remain connected intellectually, sexually, emotionally, with the person that you live with? Because it doesn’t necessarily have to be the fate that all of a sudden these outside persons are the hot folks and that our relationship starts to get desexualized. You’re not doomed to have that happen, but you can’t fund this stuff in. You have to have an active commitment to staying intellectually, emotionally, and sexually connected. What does that look like? What can we do? I know you go more into depth in the book, but the brief notes version, well, I think in our home, the intellectual connection. I think a lot of times we get lazy where maybe we feel like we know our partner already, but we can make an active intention of just learning something new during the day and sharing it with our partner and our partner. We can both have an agreement to, as John Gottman says, turn towards each other. Recognize that when your partner is trying to share something, they find us interesting. Instead of going, oh, I’m not interested in it, or I’m right. I am think, oh, they are turning towards me, and now I have an opportunity to come forward to them as well or not. This is a chance to have intimacy or not. That too must be affected by attachment styles and unhealed wounds. Right. Because there’s this fear of even turning towards someone because of a fear of rejection, which can be associated with anxiety, with other issues around attachment, but also the response, this fear of, well, if I give you too much, what does it say about me? And then also, I think, unhealthy notions of how power operates. Yeah. Within the relationship. So that’s really interesting. So you covered secure ambivalent and avoidance. And then we’ve got our final style within this specific model. Yeah, disorganized Disorganized is the last one. Someone with a Disorganized backstory oftentimes experience a lot of abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc. E. And so a lot of times they can be more chaotic in relationships. It doesn’t always go down that way. These models should not one you can change your attachment style over your life. And also, let’s not put this stuff in stone.
Obviously, humans are complex and we do not come off the rack with just four models. Right. I know tons of people with horrific abuse histories that are sweetie patooties. But this Disorganized style, it’s just one way that people can show up sometimes. And so the Disorganized style does tend to have a lot of abuse and neglect, and they can be very chaotic in relationships. And a lot of times they have experienced a lot of pain in their life, and the person they date, they date will also experience pain. Now, how this shows up in non monogamy is this person may sabotage. If they do operate in this disorganized, chaotic way, they may sabotage relationship agreements. When you’re just like, well, my main thing is just don’t sleep with my sister or my workmate. Maybe that’s the exact person that they sleep with. They can be very chaotic or very chaotic in their fearfulness. So with somebody that’s disorganized, I would probably just say that they need to have a more gentle thing. I would say for someone with borderline symptoms is a more simple non monogamous relationship is going to be easier for them. What do you mean by simple? Well, if I switch to if it’s okay if I switch to somebody who has borderline symptoms, again, someone with borderline symptoms, again, has experienced a lot of abandonment usually, and a lot of attachment injuries. And so in the case of someone with borderline symptoms, what they fear most and what they want most is love. So just when they feel that, yummy, love feeling, that’s exactly when they’re probably going to pull away or sabotage or have some kind of response like that. So I’ve had clients that were kind of like, baby, they were maybe diagnosable or maybe they weren’t quite diagnosable. With people like that, they can still be non monogamous. Somebody who is a full, like way on the right hand continuum where they are just burning bridges left, right, and center. I don’t know how that would work within non monogamy or any relationship. But if you take somebody that just has symptoms, they can have non monogamous relationships. And in fact, a lot of therapists, monogamous leaning therapists would say, well, that’s crazy talk. Somebody with war like symptoms actually needs a secure monogamous relationship. I would argue that actually if they have a safety net with many even two lovers, then if something goes wrong with lover number one, they have lover number two to go to. And so the complete feeling of abandonment doesn’t happen, and that actually feels more secure to them at times. I would also say there might be bias in that notion that they need a secure monogamous relationship because that suggests that monogamous relationships are inherently more secure when in fact the data is suggesting that’s not the case. Right. We see similar relationship outcomes regardless of whether or not people are monogamous or consistently non monogamous. And I always think about friendships, right? Like, I can have a really great friend, but I have multiple friends and as an adult, I don’t have to pick a best friend. I call a lot of people my best friend, which I know is grammatically linguistically incorrect because I’m supposed to just have one. But we do this in relationships. We have this idea that it’s got to be one person and it means it’s more secure if it’s one person. But when I look at my life personally, it’s all the relationships that make me feel so secure in my life. Truthfully, my closest, most intimate relationship, upon which I would say I rely most and invest most is definitely with my partner, Brandon. Absolutely. But I would feel such an immense sense of loss if any of the other key relationships in my life were to dissipate or if I were to lose them, like relationships with my mom and my stepdad, relationships with a couple of my very close friends. That whole support network is what makes me love my life. I love life.
If anyone knows me, I feel I’m very, very fortunate. And Brandon is a huge part of that, just a massive part of that. But he’s not the only part. And so I wonder if we can and I’m not the first to say this, but if we can start looking at romantic or sexual relationships using a similar lens as we do to look at friendships. So I have some questions for you. If you do have a disorganized attachment style. And again, I really appreciate that you’ve acknowledged that there is fluidity, that we don’t fit neatly into boxes, that there are probably some cultural elements that have been left out of these models because they are Western models. But if you are feeling as though you’re disorganized, what can you do about it? Yeah. So if you’re disorganized, probably you’re also dysregulated in your body. It all starts with the body. And so it also depends on how much money you have, I’ll be Frank. So if you have a good bit of money, you can go to a therapist who’s trained in EMDR and somatic psychotherapy, ideally both, and blend those two. And you can really heal a lot of your injuries quickly because things like EMDR are kind of like Excalibur sword for therapists. You just need to be a good enough therapist, and they are incredibly powerful. Can you tell us what EMDR is? Okay, so people always want to know what it stands for that will actually confuse you more high movement, desensitization, reprocessing. So now everybody is more confused. So now you can toss that and just know that it is a trauma modality that is light years more powerful than talk therapy. When I first heard about it, when I was in my early thirty s, I thought it sounded a little woo woo. And over the course of hearing how it just at first I heard how it worked and I thought it sounded cookie. But then back then I was still in the hospital clinics and I watched some of the therapists be kind enough to do EMDR on their lunch hour because it was all group work. You can do EMDR during the groups. And I watched some of our clients, the kind of clients that had been like horribly like say, horribly sexually abused by their mother or something, the kind of clients that would be in the basement, in the fetal position between groups, the kind of clients that did I mean, also an art therapist they would do like this black water art. I watched them all of a sudden be able to go to parties and get hugs and make eye contact and smile. And I just watched miracles happen with EMDR. And so I said to myself, as soon as I’m in private practice, I’m going to get trained in it, which I did. And it’s such a blessing. I’ve really been able to help people a lot that way. Now, MDR therapists tend to be more expensive than just talk therapists. So not everybody can afford that. And that’s one reason I wrote this book. I wrote a book to try and help everybody, a book that everybody can afford or most everybody, because there are other ways.
If you’re disorganizing your body, practicing mindfulness and meditation are great routes as far as tracking your body, starting with the positive, just noticing if you have a good feeling, any kind of good feeling, notice what part of your body knows about that. People have a tendency to track for the negative. And guess what? Whatever you pay attention to gets bigger. Let’s start with the positive. That’s really interesting because in your book, you also talk about kind of conscious versus unconscious. And it’s so true that we’ll track consciously the negative in the body, but we are so much more unconscious or subconscious when there is something positive. So I think that’s a great takeaway for people to just the next time you feel good in your body to kind of take note of what it feels like, what it smells like, what color it is, what it sounds like. However you want to describe it, I think that’s a really helpful takeaway for everybody, regardless of attachment style, regardless of relationship arrangement. Now you talk about consciousness as well as self compassion, and you talk about that in the context of healing. Ego States, I’d love for you to walk us through that just a little bit. Yeah. So with Ego States, if you were to Google Ego States, you would pull up different language. I use the warrior, the child, and the nurturer. So that’s my language because that’s what I’ve seen in my practice. So the warrior is that person that kicks ass at their profession, that runs the ten mile marathon, that kicks ass and takes names like all of that, right? The child. If we have an injured child, the inner child is the one that holds the pain. If we have a lot of unresolved attachment injuries, but that child, if we heal the child, the child does not disappear. The child becomes like a happy three year old. If you’ve ever been around a happy three, like a happy child, they are such amused. They get excited when they have the water glasses that blue and you put in the red paintbrush and turns purple and they’re just filled with joy. That’s what happens when we heal the inner child. As the child becomes filled with joy and can be the inspiration of happiness throughout your life. The third part is the nurturer. The nurturer is so key in managing the conversation between the other two. And everything is on a continuum. So some of us have, like, ghostly wispy nurtures that are not fully formed. Others of us are blessed to have an inner nurturer. And when I say nurture, I’m talking about nurturing the self that is strong. Other people have a toxic it’s like a toxic parent that’s very abusive. So this varies. But let’s assume that we have a nurture that is good enough so that nurture is going to say to the warrior, Look, I know that you want to kick ass and take names in non monogamy. I know you want to go to this play party, even though you just went to a play party four days ago and that you want to take on two lovers and you want to do this and that and go down to Cancun to the play party, et cetera, and so on. But the kid is terrified and we need to slow down and see what the kid needs. Right? And the warriors, just like, if I could just get rid of this fucking kid, I could do whatever I want and plow forward now. And with overgivers, like, overgivers, they may be terrified. Let’s say you’re an overgiver and non monogamy scares you, but you want to please your partner. You may be saying yes when it’s not really a true yes. You may be living up in your head and not connected to your body and your emotions and shoving all that stuff down and telling the kids to shut up so that you can please your partner. And again, all of this leads to so much pain. It doesn’t have to go down that way.
Absolutely. Especially, I think if that nurturer can find a balance. It’s so interesting to think about these three pieces being in all of us. Right? So I’m sure other people have heard it as, like, parent adult child. But if we think about the warrior, to me, sounds fun, but also sounds a little bit performative, right, that it’s more about notches on the belt or notches on the bedpost. However you kind of decide to put it the child, there’s this potential for joy. But also you have to break through the pain. And then the nurturer almost sounds like the self therapist. Because I think when most of us think about nurturing, we think about nurturing a child or nurturing other people, and especially those of us who are people, pleasers. Like, that’s exactly where I go. It’s about nurturing other people. So how do you deal with these ego States? What do you do if, I don’t know your warrior is being too aggressive, or how do you deal with it when one person is really focused on the warrior part of themselves and the other person is too focused on or not too focused. More focused on the child. Yeah. So if one person is a warrior and one person is focused on the child, then a lot of times that warrior is saying maybe to the person that’s focused on the child, you just need to get over this. You just need to be logical. A lot of times the warrior wants the person that’s in the child mode to be logical and then the person that’s focused on the child, that can look different ways, but they’re probably in their pain and they’re trying to manage. But if they have a trauma history, they may be actually kind of dysregulated. I could talk on this topic for base with you. So it’s hard for me to nutshell. But I will say that one of the key things for the person that is in their pain. One of the key things within non monogamy is to make your decisions connected to your mind, your body, your emotions from a grounded, centered place. How do you do that again? Practicing things like mindfulness meditation, tracking for the positive. Like one exercise I have, I’ll give you an example. I go out to my porch where I can see hummingbirds. My three cats come out. It’s a gorgeous view. I can see for miles. And I will bridge those positive resources with two things, a gratitude practice and the somatic link. So when I see all those resources which are multiple, what part of my body knows about that? My heart. And sometimes I’ll just say what I’m grateful for, all the things that I see that I’m grateful for. And if you want to go Ninja, if you want to take this next level, when you notice that warmth in your heart, have that part of your body, tell every cell in your body about that warmth. Like, try it. You can get to a point where you can move that energy throughout your body. As you do that, you will up your chance of being able to ground your body. The more you’re able to ground your body, the more agency you will have in your relationship. Because when you get Dysregulated, there are changes that happen in the body and the brain. For instance, the prefrontal cortex starts to not work so well. And that is the part of the brain that negotiates between emotion and reason. And so as soon as you get disregulated, it’s hard to be an advocate for yourself. So if you can find a practice, whatever works for you that helps you stay grounded and centered, you will be able to be a better advocate for yourself and you will be more compassionate to yourself and others. It’s very interesting what you’re saying because it sounds like a practice of self compassion. It sounds like a practice of overall wellbeing and health. And when we start to talk about topics, whether it be multiple orgasms or multiple relationships, we tend to get focused on the like, what to do, what to say, and then sometimes what we want to feel.
But I think we leave the feeling part till the end. Like you said, the warrior is always going for the logic. And we see this dynamic all the time in non monogamy, with one partner who is absolutely gung Ho, and the other partner might in theory be just as enthusiastic. But in practice, they’re not feeling ready. And for that person, I think they tend to feel pressured. Right. There’s this pressure. And that’s such a for me, at least in my observation, that is a dangerous place from which to start. And again, I think that warrior person is thinking if you just push through it, you’ll be fine. Just try it and you’ll see. But if you’re not ready to do something, whether it’s like bungee jumping or starting a new job or having a threesome or opening up your relationship, anything that feels risky to you, you’re more likely to have a negative experience if you’re being pressured into it. And so I’m really appreciating the way you’re framing, I guess, self compassion and practicing grounding. And I know it means different things to different people. Like mindfulness can help for so many people. And then for some people, like some of us who are neurotypical, mindfulness actually feels more frustrating. So I think what’s important is that people find what works for them. Right. Whatever that is. Like you going out and looking at nature. We have a wealth of research showing the value of sitting in nature for the body, for the mind. But I really appreciate that you’re starting with kind of the feelings, the thematic piece, and I think we have to go to the piece that people spend most of their time talking about, and that is talking and communication. And you have a communication model specifically for non monogamy, but it applies across the board called the Epic communication model. And I’m wondering if you can share that model with us and how we can use it in our own lives. Yes, and I’d be glad to do that. Let me just briefly say that non monogamy tends to a lot of educators lean towards being logical. Let’s face it, misogyny leaks into every aspect of this world. It’s systemic. And non monogamy hasn’t been able to skip that either. So let’s just look at a primary thought within misogyny, and it goes something like this woman emotional bad man, logical good. And that is deep. We all have a lot of internalized misogyny, women included, and we tend to think we’re superior if we’re being logical. And we tend to think that if we’re being logical, that is the key. And that is letting narcissists and overtakers within non monogamy game the system for decades. Absolutely. I’m glad you said that, because there is and we see that in business. Right. That if we’re being logical, then we’re doing the right thing. And if we’re being emotional, we’re holding ourselves back when in fact and I talk about this all the time, every single human interaction and experience is emotional. And so we need to go there. So I really appreciate that. And I’ll leave you to share your epic communication model before we go.
Okay? So epic, it’s easy to remember. I’m just going to run through it really quick. The E is the emotional piece, the empathizing, the physical is the grounding piece, the mindfulness, all of the things we’ve been talking about, the I is the intellectual, the validating piece, and the C is compassion and action. So it dovetails a combination of a Mago dialogue, a dash of Buddhism, and also my training in trauma, which is, again, the stuff we’ve been talking about in terms of grounding our body together into this model. It does not go in a sequential order. The P, the physical piece, is all throughout it. So let me give you an example. Say Sarah and Jim had a play party. And Sarah says the next day, Jim, I’m really upset with you. You were making out with Veronica in the back lawn. You broke my garden down that my great grandmother gave to me. It was the only thing that I had from her. And I’m just so mad at you and heartbroken and disappointed. You’re a better man than that. You haven’t said a peep to me. And it’s been 24 hours. Okay, so they have been in couple therapy. They know this model already. And so even though he’s willing to immediately defend himself because he had a lot of things that happened during that day, he stops himself, and he notices that she’s got the scrunchie face between her eyebrows, her shoulders are tense. And he just says to her, I’m noticing that your face is tense. I’m noticing your shoulders up. Is there anything before we start talking where I can ground you? Or is there anything I can do from the beginning? And she’s not to the point where she’s like, screw you, don’t touch me, because we can get so mad. We don’t want to be touched. She’s not at that point. And she says, you know what? Can we just go to the bed? And can you be the big spoon while I talk to you about this? And while I’m the little spoon? And he says, yes. So they go to the bathroom or they go to the bedroom, and now they’re spooning while she talks, and she’s just like, I’m just so sad. And maybe she’s crying and he’s holding her. And now he’s going to the E. He switched from the P, now he’s going to the E. He’s like, so he’s saying the emotional language. I hear that you’re sad. I hear you that you’re disappointed in me. Is there anything else? Yes, I’m Super angry. And she lists a few more emotions. He repeats his back, and then he’s like, and how are you doing inside your body? She’s like, you spooning me health. But can you pet my head, too? And he’s like, sure. And so now he’s petting her hair, and he’s like, okay. And then he moves to the eye in Epic. That’s the intellectual piece. That’s a validating piece. And he says, Intellectually, I can validate your experience in this intellectually, this makes sense. I know how much you loved your great grandmother. Intellectually, it makes sense that you would be upset that I haven’t responded in 24 hours. So now we’ve done a little bit in the E, the P and I. And he might say, is that everything he wants to pull everything out emotionally. And in terms he wants to make sure she feels validated, which is the I. And let’s just say for speed sake, that she’s like, yes, I feel like you’re hearing me. I feel empathized with I feel validated. Now we can move to the C, which is compassionate action, which is a little redundant, but I like to drive the point home. So at that point, he says, Is there anything I can do to make this better? And she’s like, yeah, in Yelp, there’s a garden home fixture down the street. If you can bring my garden home down there and get it fixed, that would feel better. And he’s like, sure, I can totally do that. And at that point, it may be that he might close with, Is there anything else that you need? And she might say, can you just give me a hug now? And so he gives her a hug. So the P is running all through it and keeping her body grounded the whole time. Right now, at that point, I’m not going to go into the second piece, but at that point, he may need to hold the talking stick. He may have some things to say. That part is super crucial, because when he starts to say what his experience was in the 24 hours that went by, it’s really easy to undo all the good stuff you just did. And that’s a whole conversation that we don’t have time for. But that can be done as well. It’s a very tricky piece to it. But if you can even do a little bit of this, it will be a game changer in your life. And I would even say that just when somebody is bagging your groceries, if you meet the world, if you meet people from a place of empathizing and validating, your life will change. Everyone will love you more. Yeah, that’s such a beautiful case study. And of course, not everything is going to go perfectly smoothly like that. One thing I take out of that is that there’s a good degree of trust and vulnerability required. Right? So it’s not just a quick fix, like, oh, if I do Epic, everything’s going to be fine because your partner may not be willing to meet you there like he might say, I can see that you’re feeling tense, and I can see your cute little furrows in your brow, and I can see your shoulders are tense. What can I do to help? She might, in that moment, react with something like, you’re not even paying attention to what I’m saying. Right. And so it takes some training to not only enact this, but to also respond when your partner is enacting it. So where do people begin with that training?
Obviously, they can go to therapy, but this is your model. This is a model that you specifically coined so they can go to therapy. They can even ask about it. They can certainly read your book. Once again, it’s open deeply, a guide to building conscious, compassionate, open relationships. But then you have to put it into practice. So I’m wondering what’s one little thing we can do to be more empathetic in our daily lives. Like, for example, with the bagger. And I know some people are too much empaths, but let’s just say for an average person, okay, I’ll totally answer that. But I just have to say it starts with acceptance. That lawyering up, like acting like two lawyers will never work. And this is what most people do. They come in trying to win because they’ve been wired for war, not wired for love. And I promise you, that will never work in a million years. You can keep doing it, and it will continue to not work for you. So you have to accept that that will work. And the second thing is to just notice that other relationship models are lovely, like nonviolent communication or a model dialogue. But none of them say, oh, by the way, our model will not work at all if you’re dysregulated in your body. Those are two key things to know which a lot of people are dysregulated in their body when they’re having a hard conversation with the nonamegamy. That’s why I like you starting with the physical. Right? It’s like anything if you’re physically uncomfortable. I noticed this. The minute I get scared, I get angry. And I’m not a particularly I don’t get angry very easily. But if I’m scared, like, if I’ve just been startled, I’m not myself because my body is dysregulated. When people are hungry, we joke about being hungry or hangry. When people are too hot or too cold. That’s something. As a speaker, whenever they ask me about room set up, I’m always like, make sure it’s not cold. When people are especially. Like, with my groups, if they’re cold, they don’t care what I’m saying. They don’t care how good the wine is, they don’t care how good the information is, they’re cold. So I really appreciate that. Starting with the physical. Yeah. So to me, that’s, like the first thing that needs to happen. And that is a step towards compassion, because if you’re still holding on to this old stuff, you’re going to be screaming for compassion and not giving it. So until you accept that that model will never work for you in a million years, you will never be able to give and receive compassion.
All right, I’ll leave you with that last question. And I have so many questions for you. We’re going to need a follow up. But how do we just bring more empathy into every interaction? I think it depends on how you are wired, because there’s some people that give booku compassion to others and no compassion to themselves. And there’s other people that are the flip side, where they give all the compassion to themselves and no compassion to their partner. And then there’s the people that can do both, but they might not need me that much. They’re already doing good. Right. With someone who doesn’t give enough compassion for themselves. Again, in my book, there’s a self compassion and compassion section, and there’s something like close to 15 things in both of them. And it’s hard for me to nutshell this. But one thing you can let go of, again, is the need to win. If you let go of the need to win, which is I’m being a little bit redundant and wired for love. He talks about this. He talks about how we are all more wired for war. We’re all wired to lawyer up and all of that. And we start to rewire our body. And again, rewiring our body for love is building our positive affect tolerance. And when we build our positive affect tolerance, sometimes we have a high positive affect tolerance, let’s say professionally. Like, if somebody compliments us on our job, we can receive that. But if someone compliments us on our body, maybe we can’t receive that. It’s not just about compliments, it’s also about love. If we’ve been injured a lot in love, if somebody is too sweet for us, sweet towards us, we may sabotage it, push it away. So part of it is building our positive affect tolerance for love. And that is a cornerstone to building compassion. And that can be difficult. I’ve been trying to build my positive affect tolerance towards love for my whole life. So now I’m getting down to little details. And one thing that I’ve noticed is sometimes when a man is super kind to me, sometimes I’ll look away rather than leaning in. And it can happen as fast as someone jumping around a door and going boo. And then you go right. It can happen in that microsecond where you turn away and it’s almost like it’s hard to stop it. And so the more you work on building your positive affect tolerance and being able to lean into love, the more you’re going to be able to have a compassionate relationship for yourself and for others. And that’s sitting in some discomfort for some folks, like some of us are very comfortable with love. For some of us, that’s an uncomfortable space. So for me. I’m comfortable with love, very uncomfortable with conflict, and so I have to really work on leaning into being uncomfortable if somebody is mad at me. And this is the opposite of what you’re describing here.
For folks who have difficulty leaning into that, I appreciate this conversation so much. I have so many other questions that maybe we can have you back to talk about, like triggers within non monogamy. You already kind of described some ways to ground yourself and others, but I know there’s so much more there. I know in the book you cover new relationship energy and how to become kind of attuned to a new partner into new dynamics. And you go through different pillars of connection around the intellectual, the emotional, the sexual beyond just stroke it off or touch it to an orgasm. So I really encourage people to take a look at your book to give it a shot. Kate Lori open deeply, a guide to building conscious, compassionate, open relationships. You also have a podcast, so let us know where we can find you and learn more. I have a website, katelerry.com. You can find me on Instagram or TikTok at opendeeply with katelarie, with Twitter and Facebook. I always forget exactly what it is. If you type in cayleri, I pop up Loree the podcast is the same thing as the book. It’s called open deeply. The first season of it was completely different, but right now we’re doing a series on non monogamy within open deeply, but it’s about way more than just non monogamy, so just know that the podcast is different than the book a little bit awesome, and I’ll put all of that in the show notes so people can find you. Really appreciate it. I appreciate your time and your insights. I’m learning for sure and I’m excited to learn even more. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me. As I said, I love your podcast And I feel blessed to be able to be on it. Thank you and thank you so much for joining us today. Reminder, Adam and Eve.com is offering 50% off almost any single item, plus a bunch of freebies thrown into and just for you with code, Dr. Jess, make sure you check them out. You’re listening to the sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life. Improve your life.