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June 24, 2022

Discordant Couples: When One Partner Wants An Open Relationship

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  • What do you do when one partner wants to open up the relationship; and the other wants to stay monogamous?
  • How do you broach the topic?
  • What issues tend to arise among discordant couples?

Dr. Liz Powell is an author, sex educator, keynote speaker, and licensed psychologist specializing in non-traditional relationships. They join us to weigh in on this topic and share their perspective as a therapist who also identifies as polyamorous.

Over the last 4 years, Liz’s book, Building Open Relationships, has helped non-monogamous people around the world grow and strengthen their relationship(s). One person even said it was the “most helpful, up-to-date book on ethical non-monogamy.”

Building Open Relationships is a practical, applied resource to help you navigate the world of ethical non-monogamy. As a sex educator and psychologist, Liz believes that Great Sex Can Change The World; and is on a mission to help as many people as they can – to understand and embrace the sexual revolution that’s happening in the world right now. While they are so glad the book has been able to reach so many folks and provide them with some resources, they know that there are folks who haven’t been able to access it yet because, until now, it’s only been available in print and e-book.

Because their mission is to help as many people as they can, they believe that they have a responsibility to make their work accessible to all, so they’re doing an Indiegogo campaign so that they can finally record an audiobook! Click here to find out more.

Don’t forget to give Dr. Liz a follow on Instagram and Twitter!

Thank you to AdamAndEve.com for their ongoing support of our program. Please use code DRJESS when shopping to save 50% off almost any single item + get FREE gifts and free shipping.

If you’ve got podcast questions, submit them here. And please be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode! You can find the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPodbeanGoogle Podcasts, Amazon MusicStitcher!

Rough Transcript:

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.

Discordant Couples: When One Partner Wants An Open Relationship

Participant #1:
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. I’m your coach co host, Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. Hey, we are going to get right into it because our guest is ready to go. The lovely Dr. Liz Powell is a psychologist, a sex educator, a speaker, an incredible author of Building Open Relationships, which is a guide that I’ve recommended in the past. It’s a really practical resource to help you navigate the world of ethical non monogamy. It’s not just the theory. It’s also like, well, here are some things I should think about. Here are some things that I might want to reflect upon. Here are some ways to start that conversation. This book has been super helpful to me, super helpful to many clients. So I’m super excited to have Dr. Liz with us right now. Thanks for being here. Thank you so much for having me again and for all those compliments on my book. That’s so lovely to hear. Thank you. Now, your book has been in print and it’s been an ebook, but you actually have a new version coming out, is that correct? Yeah. So I’m hoping to record an audio book. I want to make the book as accessible as possible to everybody. A lot of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, even like, or who are blind or visually impaired, they often struggle even with ebooks. A lot of the ways to have ebooks read on your screen are not particularly great. So I would like to record an audiobook for it. I’m running an indiegogo right now to help fund the recording of that. As I’m sure everyone can guess, recording can get expensive. And I want to make sure it’s high quality audio for everybody because I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but if I try to listen to an audio book and I can tell someone recorded it in their bathroom, it just is, like, really hard for me to get into it. Closet is where you do the recording. I don’t have any good closets on my house. They’re all like, one foldy door and then just enough room for the hangers. So it’s not it’s the same here. We don’t have any closets either. I’ve recorded in a car before, just saying, yeah, no, you need the high quality recording, and I’m glad that you’re doing that. And so we’ll make sure we share the link to that. Indigo Go for that fundraiser. I’m super excited that you’re going to make it available on one more platform. And I know the challenges personally of doing audiobooks because my latest book with Marla the Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay, folks keep asking for audiobooks, and we’ve asked our publisher about it. And if, you know, if you’ve got a publisher, it’s out of your hands. It’s in their hands and the chase down is not easy. So you’re inspiring me. Maybe I will send one more email. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to take it into my own hands, honestly. I’m guessing that even though it’s my content, probably not if you’re with a publisher. Probably not. I self published, so I can do whatever I want. But I think if you work with a publisher, there’s a lot more controls on it. And when you work with a publisher, they may want to have a professional voice actor read it instead of having, like, you or Marla or both of you read it. For my book, I really wanted to read it myself because the book is written in my voice. Having someone else read it would be really weird. So it is important to me to be able to do that myself as well. Yeah, I love that. Well, I would want it in Marla’s voice because I definitely wouldn’t want to listen to my voice. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s dive into this conversation today because we’re going to be talking about discordant couples in terms of monogamy. So when one partner wants to be monogamous and the other wants to be non monogamous did I say that right? So one partner wants ethical non monogamy and the other wants monogamy. Folks know from last week that I’m still recovering from a sickness and so my mind isn’t fully there. So I started that sentence and was thinking, did I say monogamy? Non monogamy, it all rolls off the tongue. So one partner wants to just be with one partner, their partner, and the other partner wants to explore the possibility of multiple partners. So you see this in your practice, I’m sure, and I’m curious how it tends to present and if there are specific profiles in which this tends to be more common. I mean, I’ve seen a wide variety. I’ve seen this in heterosexual couples, I’ve seen this in queer couples. I’ve seen this in a lot of different ways. I think the kind of buckets I might put it into, there are vague buckets of folks who come in wanting to do this. One would be like the partner who wants to be non monogamous had kind of always wanted that but thought it probably wasn’t going to be a real option in the world. And then they found out about non monogamy communities and did reading and now they want to explore it. But they already have a partner on board. Right. I think that those are often tricky situations because nobody is wrong and it may be a complete mismatch in terms of what people want.

Another bucket that I see is often a CIS hat guy who would really like to have sex with a lot of people and is ambivalent about whether his partner can have sex with other people, wants a task to do what he wants to do. Interestingly, back in the way old days when I was married to my now ex husband, I cheated on him and when I came to him and told him about it, I was like, maybe we should think about non monogamy. That might be a good thing for us. And he was like, I will agree on the condition that we get to do whatever we want, we never talk about it and you don’t get to ask me any questions about what I’m doing. And I was like, that doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. What if we actually talked about it and checked in? He’s like, no, then we have to be monogamous. So I think that part of why this tends to come up is that CIS patriarchy basically tells dudes that they are entitled to sex. And a lot of times as relationships go on, particularly fairly normative heterosexual relationships, the ways in which people want to have sex, the times in which they want to have sex, the frequency with which they want to have sex can change. And some of us just really like variety. It is a stereotype that men like variety and women don’t and nonbinary people don’t exist under this stereotype. But I don’t think that’s true. I think that lots of people like variety and some people are just more drawn to the same thing. I know people who eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day and they’re totally happy with it, right? Like that is super fine for that. I have the same thing for breakfast every day because my ADHD meds don’t kick in in time for breakfast. And so if I had to make a decision before my ADHD meds were on board, I would end up never eating. And so I have a soil and for breakfast every morning but after that full game because I can’t have the same thing every day, it would make me so frustrated and angry, right? So people, I think, want and need different amounts of variety. And I think a lot of times in these situations where it’s like a sister dude wanting to fuck more people, a lot of times the reason there’s less sex in the relationship is because of ways that that CIS hat dude is not showing up for the labor of the relationship then makes it so that his partner wants to have less sex with him. I think there’s another bucket which is kind of a general relationship broke and add more people, right? So people do this with babies all the time. They’re like, well, we’re having a lot of trouble in our marriage. We’ll just have a kid that’ll fix it, right? Or they’ll be like, we’re having a lot of trouble in our marriage. We’ll just date other people that’ll fix it. And surprisingly, it doesn’t fix it. Who could have guessed that bringing more people into a problem doesn’t reduce the problem? So I think there are a lot of different ways that kind of shake out. I think, too, that part of why we see a lot of conflict around this is because we live in such a sex negative culture with so much compulsory monogamy. When people are not given a very real choice about whether to be monogamous or not, they’re often going to default to monogamy because they don’t think there are other options and then end up making agreements with people that the other person feels really good about but that they don’t, and later then wants to come back to and renegotiate and change because it was never actually the right agreement for them. And so I think that part of why this happens so much and why you see people in discordant connections so much is because of the effect of compulsive monogamy and mononormative culture. There’s so much there. And so these three profiles, I imagine the way you approach them would be they’d share some things in common, but also there’d have to be some different approaches, especially if it’s sort of the add more people equals fix it or rooted in stereotypes of what should be expected based on gender. Before we get to those, I want to ask you about toxic monogamy or compulsory monogamy versus fulfilling monogamy. Before, this was kind of around I remember a decade ago where I remember thinking about monogamy as a default setting.

This idea that we all start at monogamy and some people veer away and how problematic that was because it has been assigned to us. It hasn’t existed across history because I know some people who like to argue for traditional arrangements, like to look at history. But what is the difference from your perspective between toxic monogamy and the potential for fulfilling monogamy? I mean, I think the difference between toxic monogamy and healthy or fulfilling monogamy is the same as the difference between toxic non monogamy and fulfilling non monogamy, right? Are people there making free choices? Are people able to access their own agency and autonomy? Are people treating each other as equals and not as possessions? Are we finding ways to act that are about uplifting each other rather than controlling or limiting each other? Right. When we move in those ways, we create healthier, more realistic relationships. Are we moving towards healthy interdependence instead of towards codependence? And I think a lot of what toxic monogamy culture is is this idea that monogamy is the only way to have a good relationship. It’s the only way to have a healthy relationship, it’s the only way to actually love somebody. And there’s also these ways in which the toxic monogamy culture we live in creates systems of control over each other that are really unhealthy in general. This idea that you get to choose who your partner texts, you get to choose who they spend time with, you get the ability to veto any plans that they have. You’re going to let them have a night with their friends, right. Why are you in this space of ownership over your partner? And I think so much about how we talk about dating and relationships creates this ownership and control model that is really unhealthy to everybody and that is easy to fly under the radar and monogamy in ways that it doesn’t in non monogamy. And so I don’t think that the problems are different. I just think that they show up more easily. You know, it makes me so sad to hear something like, I’m going to let them have a night out with their friends or I’m going to let them have this thing. And now I know that in certain contexts that happens in terms of parenting, like, you’ve got young kids, you’ve got to kind of do one another a favor to make time. I’m not talking about that. But that notion that if you’ve been really good to me this week, if you’ve spent time with me, if you’ve given me what I need to feel loved, I will reward you with saying, yes, you can go out on Saturday night. And I think all of us have had friends who have to sort of ask permission. And so I know that people can get a little triggered when they hear language like toxic monogamy, because they’re like, Oh, but I’m monogamous. And not all monogamy is toxic, but when it is rooted in that control and power and manipulation, it really can be. So I want to talk about how we navigate this. So you divided folks who present into three buckets. Of course, human variation is and there may be more, of course, this is just kind of roughly the ones I can guess at, and that’s the one you’re seeing. So I will say that the first one sits on its own and then the second and third sort of go together for me in that number two and three, when somebody says, we should open this up because my partner never wants to have sex with me, or we should open this up because this relationship just isn’t working. And if we just add more bodies, more fingers, more brains, it’s going to get better. They’re sort of seeing opening a monogamous relationship up as a solution to a problem.

Yes. Versus the first bucket, who’s perhaps thinking, oh, this is something that I seem to be drawn toward. I never had the language of it before, or I never thought it was accessible to me for one reason or another. Like, I know a lot of people of color will say, like, that’s some white people shit. And so we’ve never really thought, Oh, that’s for me. And so we kind of come to realize, oh, there’s this other option out here. It’s something I want to explore. The messages that I get so often come from people who say something along the lines of we are never having sex. My partner is never in the mood. I think we should open things up. How do I convince my partner? There’s some powerful language and convinced. So let’s just start when I hear those comments. Because I’ve had clients come to me with essentially that concern, right? And I think that especially if it is like a cisgender guy presenting with that concern, there are ways in which a lot of people minimize how hard it can be to be in a relationship where you are not actually getting your needs met around sex. Our culture, because it is sex negative, says that sex is not important. And so if the only thing wrong with your relationship is you’re not getting sex, then you should just shut up and deal with it. What I talk about in this kind of discordance around desire is if you have a relationship where one person only wants to have one meal a day and one person wants to have four meals a day, but they insist that they always eat together, there’s no good arrangement there where someone either isn’t eating when they need to or someone isn’t eating when they aren’t hungry. Right? So I think that there are very real ways in which desire discordance can be a huge problem, regardless of how you decide to solve it. I think the issue I see in choosing non monogamy as a solution to a problem in a monogamous relationship is that it can very easily become about kind of using the people that you date outside of that relationship as objects and tools to feed your monogamous relationship, rather than interacting with them as their own independent people, where it’s about finding a way to get something out of this person so that this works, rather than finding ways to connect with this person because they are a person and I like them. And so there’s this way that it can kind of feel like vampiric almost, where they’re like sucking out from other people so that this relationship can continue rather than looking at like, why is this happening in this relationship? And there are some people who say, don’t open your relationship until it’s completely fixed. I am not on that team because I don’t know anyone whose relationship is completely fixed. It just doesn’t exist. Right. We all have problems in our relationships. They can be pretty solid. And it doesn’t mean that we’re like 100% perfect all the time. And I think that if you’re going to open up while dealing with a problem in the relationship you’re already in, you need to be mindful of whether you are dealing with the problem or just sucking stuff out of other people to distract from the problem. Cover for the problem, avoid the problem. So I want to say first, I appreciate that you’re addressing this with compassion, that it really is a real problem when you’re in a monogamous relationship and your partner is not in the mood for sex or refusing to have sex. When you’re in a relationship and you’re asking for any sort of commitment, we do sign up to make an effort to fulfill one another’s needs. That doesn’t mean every time somebody needs to get off that you have to get their rocks off for them. But it does mean that I want to be open to ensuring that in this short lifetime you feel all the good things you can possibly feel, whether that’s emotionally, spiritually, physically, sexually, practically, socially, whatever the case may be. So I do appreciate that you brought that up because maybe even the way I seemed insensitive because I get it and we hear the same thing over and over again, like this is going to be a solution. So I guess my next question is can you consider opening up your relationship and work on the issue at the same time? Yes. And I think it is possible. I think it is much more challenging. Right. I think it depends upon what the problem is that you’re starting with. It depends upon how much energy and resources you have to devote to dealing with that problem and dating other people. I think it depends upon how much support you’re getting around dealing with that problem. I think the thing that you said about you want your partner to have all of the good experiences that they want. Right. That is a really beautiful position and I think one that we all aim towards and the more scarce that we feel so the less that we feel we are getting our needs met, the more scarcity we tend to impose upon others. Right. There’s this way that humans tend to try to drag each other down. And when I’m feeling scarce, I tend to try to hoard and limit rather than finding ways to support and encourage. Right. And so I think that it can become this kind of death spiral of like, well you’re not giving me enough sex so I’m not going to do the dishes. Well, you didn’t do the dishes so I’m not going to have sex. Well you’re not giving me sex so I’m not going to listen to you. People aren’t getting their needs met so they withdraw further and further from each other and have more and more of this like grasping hoarding mentality towards each other. And I think that is something that can be addressed in your relationship. And if you’re opening up at the same time, it is probably going to create a lot of problems. Because as soon as you have new relationship energy with somebody else, your partner who has been getting your scarcity and hoarding and withholding is going to get pissed and like for valid reasons. Right. If you’ve had a partner who refuses to give you a blow job for a year and then they start dating someone new and they are head of blow jobs, you’re going to feel really upset. Right. It’s going to feel like you have been wrong, even if that’s not actually what’s happening. So I think that there’s a way in which, if you’re in that kind of scarcity spiral, you have to find a way to course correct and start building up the balance in your own relationship first in order to support opening up in a way that’s going to feel good. Because if your bank accounts are still empty, opening up is going to feel much, much worse. So how do we start that? Because every single one of us gets into that scarcity space. Some relationships obviously more than others. When I think I always think I want Brennan to have every good thing in the world. Like, I’m 42, he’s 44. Is that right? Did I lie? Last I checked? Okay. No, I’m a terrible age thing. I always like, since the pandemic, I’ve keep subtracting years. I’m surprised she didn’t say I was 48 or 50 or something. Pandemic time doesn’t exist. Right. Exactly. I haven’t had my 40th birthday yet. I’m having it in October. So I think about if we get another 40, another 60, I mean, that’d be very generous years. I want all the good things in life, but it comes from the foundation of a relationship where I feel like I’m getting all the good things in life. So now that’s not to say that this relationship is perfect. Okay. If you’re in that scarcity, I guess, mindset, or you’re in that sort of cycle you’re describing whether you see your partner doing it or you doing it. And of course, it takes two to tango, three to be even better. But how do we even break that cycle? It can be complicated because somebody has to choose to start giving without knowing for certain that they will receive in return. Right? And I think a lot of times, especially if we’re talking about, like, CIS hat relationships, the woman is expected to do a lot of giving without a lot of expectation of return. Right? And so moving back to a position of giving without guaranteed return can feel much less okay if you feel like you’ve already put in a lot of labor and work. Right? If you feel like you have already tapped yourself out trying to get what you need from this person, it can feel like a worse bet to try to try that again. I think part of this here is that you can do this on your own, and support is probably helpful here, whether that’s therapy or coaching or, like, spiritual counseling or a support group, whatever it is. I think having someone that you can talk to who can give you a space to be vulnerable with each other and acknowledge the hurt and the rejection that you’re feeling. Because usually what the scarcity cycle is about is about using anger and punishment to avoid your own feelings of hurt and rejection and shame and fear. And so you need a space where you can feel those things and acknowledge those things to each other and then start turning towards each other.

Poly Secure by Jessica Fern, is an amazing resource for a lot of this because a lot of what she talks about in terms of the skills and the tools you can use to increase security in your relationship or to increase attachment security within yourself, can help with this spiral as well, because a lot of it is about being open, receiving things, turning back towards each other rather than pulling away. And those tools can be very helpful in this spiral. And I think everybody I mean, for you listening, I think we all can kind of stop and say to ourselves, like, I can give before I receive, right? Now, if you do this over and over again in a relationship and it’s a pattern, of course, that’s problematic. But sometimes when you get into a cycle, sometimes if you’re in a rut in a relationship, I think we just need to be able to coach ourselves and say, you know what? I can give before I receive. I can say, like, you’re really good at that. I’m a little more digging, Brandon, but I’ve learned from you, I think, over the years. And also it’s the foundation of trust, right? If I trust that I feel safe saying something, I’m going to be more likely to be able to be vulnerable. And what you said that really resonates with me is fear, right? Like, people, we’re all afraid. The big reason why we act like jerks is because we’re afraid. The big reason why we try and control is because we’re afraid. And we replace that word fear with so many other words. I even noticed with young people talking about anxiety, I’m like, yeah, it’s anxiety. And it also could be fear, but we haven’t really empowered ourselves to say, like, I’m actually fearful, and what am I fearful of? Am I fearful of being rejected? Am I fearful of coming second? Am I fearful that I’ll have to share your energy and time? And so I’m just thinking, am I fearful that this isn’t actually working, that we’re going to open this up and find out we need to break up? I often tell people that I don’t know. So anyone who comes to see me for couples work. Part of the preamble I give them before we agree to work with each other is that my goal when working with couples is not to keep them together. My goal is not to keep a couple together. My goal is to help them figure out what each of them wants and needs and then to determine what kind of a relationship, if any, can work for them. Given that, I think a lot of us don’t break up when we should. We don’t break up until we absolutely despise someone. We don’t break up until we are so hurt. It is not fixable. And I think this also has a companion piece of a lot of us don’t explicitly ask for what we want to need. We just try to find roundabout ways to get it. Or we can give them the things we want them to give us and then expect them to return it without ever actually negotiating it. I think part of this vulnerability is also about owning your wants and needs and expressing them to something. I’ve struggled with this a lot in my life. The family I grew up in, there was not a lot of safe space for me to talk about what I wanted or needed. And so I’ve had to work very hard as an adult figuring out how to sit with someone and say, like, hey, I would really love to hear from you more often. I would really love for us to have a regular weekly date. It helps me settle into a connection when I know I’m going to be seeing you. Right. Because for a long time I wouldn’t express a launcher I need until it was like a Defcon Five relationship ending need. And that gives my partner so little flexibility about how we handle this, about how they meet, what I want to need. If we talk about it early and often, we give each other a lot of space to figure out how to make that happen. Like, if what I’m wanting is more connection from a partner and I go to them as soon as I’m noticing that I’m not feeling that connection, we can talk about, like, is it more chat? Is it a video chat every so often? Is it more text, is it sending memes? There’s a lot of ways we can brainstorm where if I’m in this deep debt, there’s so much less flexibility, so much less for us to play with. And I think a big thing I see in a lot of these relationships that are in this spiral or that are in this, like, we just need to non monogamy is that there are all of these unmet wants and needs that have also been unexpressed and everybody’s just sitting there wondering why their partner isn’t reading their mind better. And that’s not going to happen. None of us are good mind readers. They’re, like, might be an occasional psychic here or there, but the majority of us are terrible at it. If you’re not Ms. Clio, you’re not reading minds. Right? If you’re not late night ads in the 90s, there’s so much here, I think, to unpack. I want to go to the short answer that obviously this is an interesting and nuanced discussion. We’re going to keep having it. But one piece is that if one of you wants to be non monogamous and you’re sure of that and the other wants to be non monogamous sorry, monogamous? And you’re sure of that? Sometimes it’s not a fit, and I think it is really important that the existence or longevity of a relationship not be the measure of a relationship. Sometimes the best relationships end in a certain way. It doesn’t mean you can’t love each other in other ways or have other types of relationships. And that’s a really scary thing because so many of us, and I am definitely a part of this group, don’t want to be alone, right? There’s a fear of being alone. There’s a fear of finding another partner or other partners or starting again or I’d say most of the people who messaged me have been married like 1015, 20 years and they’ve waited a very long time to deal with underlying issues and they do think that non monogamy is going to be some sort of a quick fix of panacea if we move from that group. So if we have a group of people who see it as a panica and we acknowledge that, hey, if you can work on the issues, maybe you can also explore this, but let’s also work on the issues and the vulnerability and being able to go to your partner and say hey man, I love you and I don’t like the way we’ve been talking to each other or I care about you and I feel like we’re in a bad place, let’s sit and talk. To always start with the male culpa. To me, I find anybody will listen. And this applies in business, this applies with friends, this applies when you’re ordering your coffee and this applies in intimate relationships. If I can say here’s what I know that I can do better than a partner or the other person, almost all with few exceptions for certain personality disorders or issues with attachment. Sure people will follow your leads. Oh yeah. Because you’re opening with vulnerability. Right. The vulnerability is the hard part of those conversations and if you move into it first, you have created a safe space for it. Right. When we come to a partner with like you’re not giving me enough attention already. What we’ve done is created a situation where we are right and they are wrong. If we come into it. Instead of like I am struggling because I feel like I am really anxious about what’s happening in this. I feel like I don’t know where I stand with this and I don’t want to feel that and I know that you don’t want me to feel that. Can we talk about like what’s going on? Right, right, absolutely. And with the reassurance too, like I’m committed to this or I love you or I care about you or I miss how we used to play together or feel together, I think that people can have these conversations. And so that brings me to I want to be really clear, it’s not like there are buckets that are mutually exclusive, but for folks who have maybe just discovered that consensual, ethical, non monogamy is an option for folks who maybe have always felt like it would be a better fit for folks who are really thinking, like, you know what? I really love my partner and I love this life we have. And this isn’t a preference for me.

This is a part of my identity and orientation, if you will. How do we start that conversation with a long term partner? I mean, there’s stuff in my book about it, and I think a lot of this is about acknowledging what it is for you, acknowledging where it came from and letting them know that it’s not about them, letting them know that this isn’t something you’ve been hiding from them. This isn’t something you’ve been tricking them about. I think the most common things that a monogamous partner experiences in this is, like, where you just hiding this the whole time. Is this what you’ve always wanted? Or were you just lying about this forever? Is this that you don’t love me? Is this that I’m not good at these things? Right. I think finding ways to reassure them that this is about you, not about them, is really helpful. I think also figuring out how to present it in a way that you’re not presenting it like a terminal cancer diagnosis. The biggest issue I see is where someone comes to their partner, like, I have something very important to tell you. I am so sorry. I know that this is going to be so challenging for the both of us, but I have decided that I would like to explore non monogamy. I know that this is horrible news for you. Nobody is going to react well in that situation. You’ve already started them with anxiety, right? Whereas if you sit them down and you’re like, hey, I’ve been hearing about this consensual non monogamy thing and I’m finding it really interesting. Can I share with you, like, some of the books or podcasts I’ve been listening to and you can kind of see what I’m hearing and see what you think about it. Can we have a conversation about this? I think another mistake people make is moving directly from, I think I want to be non monogamous too. We need to immediately transition this relationship to non monogamy, especially if usually you’ve been spending a few months thinking about this, pondering it, figuring it out, expecting your partner to be directly on board with it. Right. That day is not reasonable or kind, and they need time to catch up. Like, if this is something you’ve been pondering for so long and it’s brand new to them, you can expect them to feel a little bit sideswept, especially in a culture that is so monotonous, right, and also toxically monogamous. And there are all these other pieces attached to it with kids, with family, with social, with your neighbors. All of those pieces and consequences for many people. Like, some people have more privilege to access other options that are not seen as so mainstream. But for folks who are already on the margins, finding another way to be where you may be marginalized is really a challenge. So that’s really helpful to think about where this comes from, to reassure them, to give them space and time, to not approach it like it’s something morbid. When do you bring it up? Is there a time? Do you think you should like, would it be helpful to talk to a therapist yourself? Would you suggest that you find support groups in advance? It can be. I think in general, the recommendation I make is talk early, talk often. So as soon as you start thinking that this might be a thing that you want, it might be easier for you to start the conversation at that point, then waiting until the point where you’re like, I am 100% ready to do this. I’ve figured out what I want to do. I’ve found the groups, I’ve found the dating sites. I’m ready to go. Right. Because then you’ve already done all of this prep work and you’re expecting your partner to join you at the end point of the journey rather than inviting them on the journey with you. I think the caveat I would give there is that sometimes the reaction people get from their partner is very, very negative. And so just being prepared that the first reaction your partner gives you may not be reflective of the reaction they give you forever. The parallel I would draw here is like coming out as queer or trans. Right? The first time that I came out to my family, my mom threatened to disown me, threatened to divorce my dad if he wouldn’t do the same. Asked me if I had sex with trees or animals. Because if you’re bisexual, clearly you just fuck everything. And it was a whole ass thing, right? Several years later I’m so sorry. I mean, it is what it is, right? This is part of being a part of this culture. And many, many years later, I had a partner who was a nonbinary person, who is a scientist at birth. We were marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade together, and my mom wished us the best in that parade. Is she 100% on board with me being queer and nonbinary? Absolutely not. But she’s made a lot of progress. Right? The first reaction you get from someone is almost always coming from their fear of what they’re going to lose, from their fear of what this change is going to mean, from their fear of what this means for them and you and your life together. And so understanding and giving some grace to them for having a negative first reaction, that doesn’t mean that they get to do whatever they want, like beat you up about it forever. It means that if they’re kind of shitty when you first broach the topic with them, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be shitty forever. And it doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are, how they are, how this will go for you. And that’s why the conversation, as you said, is ongoing. It’s early, yes, but it’s also often it’s not this one time thing where you figure out your relationship. And I think that there are a lot of fears and stereotypes around non monogamy. Right. People assume that. I always hear from somebody like, oh, I know someone who opened up their marriage and they broke up. And I’m like, okay, I know someone who didn’t open up their marriage and they broke up. Like all of our parents. Yeah, I mean, monogamous people divorce at 50%. So, I mean, clearly it’s the monogamy, right? It’s something in the water or the monogamy, one of those two things. And really, your relationship arrangement is not what determines the quality of your relationship. Right. Even the staying together doesn’t determine the quality of the relationship. We all know people in life who are together and celebrate 10, 20, 30 longer years together, and you wonder why they would put themselves in that situation for so long. Right. The mere existence of a relationship doesn’t make it fulfilling. And again, I always go back to the short life. Like, life feels short to me because I freaking love it. And all of a sudden I’m older. Like, all of a sudden I’m an adult. I don’t know how this happened. I really feel like a teenager. Right? How did it happen? For real? Right? I’m almost 40 and like, what, how? I feel like there’s some sort of well, I have that, what do they call it? Like prolonged adolescence where I really do feel like a child. But no, I’m an adult now. I’m sprouting hairs in places I didn’t know, and I’m an adult now. I got pews. Hey, the period will be done eventually. So anyhow, in that short lifetime, I hope that people listening will reflect, maybe take a look at your book Building Open Relationships and really think about, like, I’ve got this short period of time. I’m not going to put this off another month, year, years, because we have this one shot. And if you are struggling in your relationship because you feel like you are ethically or consensually non monogamous, and that’s a part of who you are, you deserve to be loved. You deserve to speak up. You mentioned in the beginning that we’re so sex negative that if everything is straight in the relationship except the sex, we’re expected to endure it. And that’s so problematic where you shouldn’t have to endure in relationships.

Okay. Are there ups and downs? Does your partner suck sometimes? Of course. But if we think about enduring in relationships, that feels so frightening and toxic to me. Yeah. And I think there’s this way that people choose longevity over anything else. Right? Like, as long as I can just keep this relationship going, that’s a marker of success. But that’s not like when we decide that the only successful relationships are the ones that end in death. That sets everybody up for a terrible time. There’s no good outcome there, right? It is so much better to restructure a relationship or break up with somebody when you can sit down and have a good conversation with them about it and just say, like, hey, it seems like we do things really differently. I still care a ton about you. I don’t want you out of my life. I just think that us being partners is not really working. So can we take some space and then figure out what does work for us? It gives you so much more ability to stay connected to the people you care about. Whereas if you keep trying to eke it out to the bitter end, it ends in resentment and anger and pain. If something’s not a fit, it’s not a fit, and that’s okay. Nobody’s a bad guy. There nobody’s wrong. Exactly. We move on in life. We have growth, we have periods, we have transformations. We go from job to job, city to city. We don’t do it all at once. I’m curious, if you have this initial conversation with a partner and it doesn’t go well, they freak out, maybe they withdraw, they don’t want to talk about it. And maybe it’s because I definitely get messages like this. It’s been simmering for weeks, maybe even months now. How do you rekindle the conversation? What do you do next? I mean, what I would say is, like, in general, whenever a conversation is having super high heated emotions, it’s helpful to take a time out. And part of taking a good time out is setting when you’re going to come back to the conversation, right? So if your partner freaks out, you can be like, hey, I can tell that this is really upsetting you. I understand. And that’s totally a way that people feel about this kind of conversation. What I’d love to do is give us some space to kind of process this initial thing and then circle back and check back in about it. How about next Wednesday? Does that work for you? And like, setting a specific point, you’re going to circle back? If the person says to you, I will absolutely never talk about it again. That’s so good. Again, that may be just the heat of the moment. And people also get to say, I am absolutely not open to having a non monogamous relationship. And if it’s important to you to have a non monogamous relationship, what they may be telling you is, we’re not a good fit. How do you help people make that choice? Because people find themselves at that crossroad where they’re like, I love this person. I want to be with this person. We have a happy life together. Sometimes I think that they gloss over a lot of things when they say things. It’s like every advice column letter is always like, we have the best relationship. It’s so amazing. Or like, am I the asshole on reddit or reddit relationships? It’s always like, they’re the most amazing partner. I love them so much. They’re amazing, they’re perfect. The thing is, every couple of weeks they beat the crap out of me and I feel terrible about it, but how do I just get them to do it a little less, right? It’s always like, perfect relationship, except terrible, and it’s so heartbreaking. So I think that the thing is, love is not enough, right? We are told in this culture over and over again that if you love someone, that means you should be in this kind of relationship with them. And that is absolutely not true. Mark Manson wrote a blog years ago about this that is titled Love is Not Enough and I’ve sent it to countless clients over the years. What makes a relationship work is not just love. And when we say that we should stay together because we love each other, usually we’re using love in this amorphous noun kind of form. Whereas if you think about it, the way that Bell Hooks writes about and all about love, where love is about the ways that we show up responsibly in our relationships, that we are accountable to ourselves and our partners, that we show love through our actions, right? Keeping someone in a relationship with you who is unhappy with what you can offer them is not loving. Staying with someone who is hurting you is not loving. Like, none of that is actually loving. And so when we think about love, we can have deep affection and caring for someone, and they cannot be the right partner for us. Those things are not always the same. It doesn’t mean, like, loving someone deeply does not mean they’re the right partner for you. It doesn’t mean a relationship that is romantic is going to work. Love is not the marker. And I think when you take that out of the equation and you look at, okay, love, absolutely, it is there.

What else is in the relationship, though, and how does it work? It can help people get a clearer picture of what is actually happening. When we let our emotions, when we let our limbic system run the show, we tend to make worse decisions than when we involve all of our brain. When we’re using not just our feelings, but also our ability to process, to look at logic, to think about pros and cons and weights, different options. Yeah, I really appreciate that. And it brings us, I guess, because I know we need to close up soon. Within consensual, non monogamy, there is a strong view, at least for me, that love is this infinite resource, right? There’s not a certain amount of love I have. Like, I think about how I feel about Brandon. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel deeply for other people I think about how I have intimate conversations with Brennan that are so meaningful to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have intimate conversations with other people. So I think that part of Toxic monogamy tells us now there needs to be certain things that are only reserved for one person. And if you watch Romcoms, you’ll get a clear picture of what those things are and what they aren’t, not even just Romcoms. My favorite thing is the big dating shows right now are all about micro dosing non monogamy, where they have people, like, try out non monogamy for a little bit to find the right monogamy for them. So you look at like, F Boy Island, Love is Blind, The Ultimatum, all of them have people kind of, like, try out non monogamy to find their right monogamy without talking about it, without really talking about how that non monogamy is going to affect their relationship, when those people are they seem to be people who want to be monogamous. These are 22 on The Ultimatum, which I watched. People can go back and listen to the discussion with Tasha. It’s a toshy show, but I love it. I watched it for a podcast interview with Tasha Bailey, who was talking about why we like Toxic TV as a form of escapism. And like, the first five minutes I kind of wanted to shoot myself, but then all of a sudden I couldn’t stop watching the entire season. But these are like 22 year olds who are like, I need to get married now to one person and start having babies. Now I’m getting older. And I’m like, you’re 25, you’ve got at least 15 down there in years. Come on. Yes. So I think that just this reminder that we can love and we can love multiple people in different ways. And this isn’t saying to people. So I want to give one caveat here. I think that love, the emotion is an unlimited resource. I think that love in terms of the verb, is not right. We only have so much time. There’s a lot of people I see who do a Toxic version of non monogamy where they have twelve partners who they aren’t able to give attention or energy to because they’ve oversaturated themselves, where they have, like, grabbed too many partners and they don’t have the available energy or time to actually tend to those connections. Right? So I think if we think of love as a verb, then we have to look at not just the emotional capacity we have, but the energetic capacity, the time capacity, the ways in which we have emotional capacity that is about holding space for rather than just feeling good things. And so I think love, the noun is not limited, but love the verb is. And that might make me unpopular in non monogamous circles, but we all have limitations. It’s practical. I think there are so many of us who are. What’s the word for I was thinking of it the other day, but I have this fog right now where you’re kind of ambient, where you could be monogamous, you could be non monogamous. I think for many of us, it’s a matter of practicality, like whether it’s finances or time or logistics where you might want to have multiple partners, but it may not also be a fit for your lifestyle. And that’s okay, too. Just like I can be bisexual and not be happy or I’m pansexual and not be having sex with everybody, right? It’s not as though the behavior is unlimited because I’m just one person. Like, I can only do so much. I can only have so much sex. I can only spend so much time on relationships. I couldn’t have 15 best friends who take the time that one best friend takes from me. So, yeah, that’s a very important point. All right, I really highly recommend that folks follow along with you, Doctor Liz Powell, and check out your book, Building Open Relationships. Definitely contribute to the fundraiser. I’ll make sure I do that. I’m sorry I haven’t yet.

So that you can do your audio guide, which I know is going to be so meaningful and powerful and reach more people. Did we miss anything on discordant couples that you want to just leave with? I mean, I think the one thing I would leave with is that sometimes nobody’s wrong, right? I think when relationships are having an issue, a lot of times because of how our culture wants clean binaries, we want to find out who’s right and who’s wrong. And that’s sometimes not at all what’s happening. Sometimes we’re just different and nobody’s wrong, and it’s not working. And I think those breakups are hard to consider for people because there’s no villain, and so that means they can’t break up, but you can just acknowledge nobody’s wrong here, right? What you want isn’t wrong. What I want isn’t wrong. They don’t fit together, though, right? I’m not going to be happy on one meal a day. You’re not going to be happy trying to eat four. We need to either eat with other people or just not eat together. I appreciate that so much. And next time, we’re going to have Doctor Liz back to help us figure out this whole eating problem we have between each other. Because Brandon eats these breakfast bars for breakfast, and it drives me nuts that we don’t sit down together and eat breakfast because it’s like a cultural thing, I think. I’m sure we’ve talked about that. I’ve talked about this before. Pretty sure there’s a podcast on this. I love me a good RX bar first thing in the morning. Yeah. I want dumplings and noodles and I want conversation. I’d like quiet, the newspaper and some coffee. Right? So this is such a perfect example, right? What would be a perfect warning for each of you is completely different. And there’s no good compromise here, right? Like there isn’t a middle ground between conversation dumpling, noodles and RXBAR quiet newspaper, right? You can’t have like dumplings and quiet. Sometimes one person is not you’re, right? And sometimes somebody is wrong and they should just go eat their dumplings and noodles. All right, maybe you find a video chat friend, right? So you have your breakfast with somebody else. That’s a separate billing code for Doctor Liz, folks. Follow along again. Building open relationships. Doctor Liz Powell. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me. And thank you folks for listening and joining us. Make sure if you are shopping for anything sexy, whether it’s lingerie or latex or butt plugs or vibrators, head on over to AdamandEve.com. Use code Doctor Jess to save 50% almost any single item plus free shipping and above bunch of other freegoodiesadamandeve.com code Dr. Jess. Wherever you’re at, have a great one. You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life. Improve your life.

Participant #1:
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. I’m your coach co host, Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. Hey, we are going to get right into it because our guest is ready to go. The lovely Dr. Liz Powell is a psychologist, a sex educator, a speaker, an incredible author of Building Open Relationships, which is a guide that I’ve recommended in the past. It’s a really practical resource to help you navigate the world of ethical non monogamy. It’s not just the theory. It’s also like, well, here are some things I should think about. Here are some things that I might want to reflect upon. Here are some ways to start that conversation. This book has been super helpful to me, super helpful to many clients. So I’m super excited to have Dr. Liz with us right now. Thanks for being here. Thank you so much for having me again and for all those compliments on my book. That’s so lovely to hear. Thank you. Now, your book has been in print and it’s been an ebook, but you actually have a new version coming out, is that correct? Yeah. So I’m hoping to record an audio book. I want to make the book as accessible as possible to everybody. A lot of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, even like, or who are blind or visually impaired, they often struggle even with ebooks. A lot of the ways to have ebooks read on your screen are not particularly great. So I would like to record an audiobook for it. I’m running an indiegogo right now to help fund the recording of that. As I’m sure everyone can guess, recording can get expensive. And I want to make sure it’s high quality audio for everybody because I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but if I try to listen to an audio book and I can tell someone recorded it in their bathroom, it just is, like, really hard for me to get into it. Closet is where you do the recording. I don’t have any good closets on my house. They’re all like, one foldy door and then just enough room for the hangers. So it’s not it’s the same here. We don’t have any closets either. I’ve recorded in a car before, just saying, yeah, no, you need the high quality recording, and I’m glad that you’re doing that. And so we’ll make sure we share the link to that. Indigo Go for that fundraiser.

I’m super excited that you’re going to make it available on one more platform. And I know the challenges personally of doing audiobooks because my latest book with Marla the Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay, folks keep asking for audiobooks, and we’ve asked our publisher about it. And if, you know, if you’ve got a publisher, it’s out of your hands. It’s in their hands and the chase down is not easy. So you’re inspiring me. Maybe I will send one more email. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to take it into my own hands, honestly. I’m guessing that even though it’s my content, probably not if you’re with a publisher. Probably not. I self published, so I can do whatever I want. But I think if you work with a publisher, there’s a lot more controls on it. And when you work with a publisher, they may want to have a professional voice actor read it instead of having, like, you or Marla or both of you read it. For my book, I really wanted to read it myself because the book is written in my voice. Having someone else read it would be really weird. So it is important to me to be able to do that myself as well. Yeah, I love that. Well, I would want it in Marla’s voice because I definitely wouldn’t want to listen to my voice. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s dive into this conversation today because we’re going to be talking about discordant couples in terms of monogamy. So when one partner wants to be monogamous and the other wants to be non monogamous did I say that right? So one partner wants ethical non monogamy and the other wants monogamy. Folks know from last week that I’m still recovering from a sickness and so my mind isn’t fully there. So I started that sentence and was thinking, did I say monogamy? Non monogamy, it all rolls off the tongue. So one partner wants to just be with one partner, their partner, and the other partner wants to explore the possibility of multiple partners. So you see this in your practice, I’m sure, and I’m curious how it tends to present and if there are specific profiles in which this tends to be more common. I mean, I’ve seen a wide variety. I’ve seen this in heterosexual couples, I’ve seen this in queer couples. I’ve seen this in a lot of different ways. I think the kind of buckets I might put it into, there are vague buckets of folks who come in wanting to do this. One would be like the partner who wants to be non monogamous had kind of always wanted that but thought it probably wasn’t going to be a real option in the world. And then they found out about non monogamy communities and did reading and now they want to explore it. But they already have a partner on board. Right. I think that those are often tricky situations because nobody is wrong and it may be a complete mismatch in terms of what people want. Another bucket that I see is often a CIS hat guy who would really like to have sex with a lot of people and is ambivalent about whether his partner can have sex with other people, wants a task to do what he wants to do. Interestingly, back in the way old days when I was married to my now ex husband, I cheated on him and when I came to him and told him about it, I was like, maybe we should think about non monogamy. That might be a good thing for us. And he was like, I will agree on the condition that we get to do whatever we want, we never talk about it and you don’t get to ask me any questions about what I’m doing. And I was like, that doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. What if we actually talked about it and checked in? He’s like, no, then we have to be monogamous. So I think that part of why this tends to come up is that CIS patriarchy basically tells dudes that they are entitled to sex. And a lot of times as relationships go on, particularly fairly normative heterosexual relationships, the ways in which people want to have sex, the times in which they want to have sex, the frequency with which they want to have sex can change. And some of us just really like variety. It is a stereotype that men like variety and women don’t and nonbinary people don’t exist under this stereotype. But I don’t think that’s true.

I think that lots of people like variety and some people are just more drawn to the same thing. I know people who eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day and they’re totally happy with it, right? Like that is super fine for that. I have the same thing for breakfast every day because my ADHD meds don’t kick in in time for breakfast. And so if I had to make a decision before my ADHD meds were on board, I would end up never eating. And so I have a soil and for breakfast every morning but after that full game because I can’t have the same thing every day, it would make me so frustrated and angry, right? So people, I think, want and need different amounts of variety. And I think a lot of times in these situations where it’s like a sister dude wanting to fuck more people, a lot of times the reason there’s less sex in the relationship is because of ways that that CIS hat dude is not showing up for the labor of the relationship then makes it so that his partner wants to have less sex with him. I think there’s another bucket which is kind of a general relationship broke and add more people, right? So people do this with babies all the time. They’re like, well, we’re having a lot of trouble in our marriage. We’ll just have a kid that’ll fix it, right? Or they’ll be like, we’re having a lot of trouble in our marriage. We’ll just date other people that’ll fix it. And surprisingly, it doesn’t fix it. Who could have guessed that bringing more people into a problem doesn’t reduce the problem? So I think there are a lot of different ways that kind of shake out. I think, too, that part of why we see a lot of conflict around this is because we live in such a sex negative culture with so much compulsory monogamy. When people are not given a very real choice about whether to be monogamous or not, they’re often going to default to monogamy because they don’t think there are other options and then end up making agreements with people that the other person feels really good about but that they don’t, and later then wants to come back to and renegotiate and change because it was never actually the right agreement for them. And so I think that part of why this happens so much and why you see people in discordant connections so much is because of the effect of compulsive monogamy and mononormative culture. There’s so much there. And so these three profiles, I imagine the way you approach them would be they’d share some things in common, but also there’d have to be some different approaches, especially if it’s sort of the add more people equals fix it or rooted in stereotypes of what should be expected based on gender. Before we get to those, I want to ask you about toxic monogamy or compulsory monogamy versus fulfilling monogamy. Before, this was kind of around I remember a decade ago where I remember thinking about monogamy as a default setting. This idea that we all start at monogamy and some people veer away and how problematic that was because it has been assigned to us. It hasn’t existed across history because I know some people who like to argue for traditional arrangements, like to look at history. But what is the difference from your perspective between toxic monogamy and the potential for fulfilling monogamy? I mean, I think the difference between toxic monogamy and healthy or fulfilling monogamy is the same as the difference between toxic non monogamy and fulfilling non monogamy, right? Are people there making free choices? Are people able to access their own agency and autonomy? Are people treating each other as equals and not as possessions? Are we finding ways to act that are about uplifting each other rather than controlling or limiting each other? Right. When we move in those ways, we create healthier, more realistic relationships. Are we moving towards healthy interdependence instead of towards codependence? And I think a lot of what toxic monogamy culture is is this idea that monogamy is the only way to have a good relationship. It’s the only way to have a healthy relationship, it’s the only way to actually love somebody. And there’s also these ways in which the toxic monogamy culture we live in creates systems of control over each other that are really unhealthy in general. This idea that you get to choose who your partner texts, you get to choose who they spend time with, you get the ability to veto any plans that they have. You’re going to let them have a night with their friends, right. Why are you in this space of ownership over your partner? And I think so much about how we talk about dating and relationships creates this ownership and control model that is really unhealthy to everybody and that is easy to fly under the radar and monogamy in ways that it doesn’t in non monogamy. And so I don’t think that the problems are different. I just think that they show up more easily. You know, it makes me so sad to hear something like, I’m going to let them have a night out with their friends or I’m going to let them have this thing. And now I know that in certain contexts that happens in terms of parenting, like, you’ve got young kids, you’ve got to kind of do one another a favor to make time. I’m not talking about that. But that notion that if you’ve been really good to me this week, if you’ve spent time with me, if you’ve given me what I need to feel loved, I will reward you with saying, yes, you can go out on Saturday night. And I think all of us have had friends who have to sort of ask permission. And so I know that people can get a little triggered when they hear language like toxic monogamy, because they’re like, Oh, but I’m monogamous. And not all monogamy is toxic, but when it is rooted in that control and power and manipulation, it really can be. So I want to talk about how we navigate this.

So you divided folks who present into three buckets. Of course, human variation is and there may be more, of course, this is just kind of roughly the ones I can guess at, and that’s the one you’re seeing. So I will say that the first one sits on its own and then the second and third sort of go together for me in that number two and three, when somebody says, we should open this up because my partner never wants to have sex with me, or we should open this up because this relationship just isn’t working. And if we just add more bodies, more fingers, more brains, it’s going to get better. They’re sort of seeing opening a monogamous relationship up as a solution to a problem. Yes. Versus the first bucket, who’s perhaps thinking, oh, this is something that I seem to be drawn toward. I never had the language of it before, or I never thought it was accessible to me for one reason or another. Like, I know a lot of people of color will say, like, that’s some white people shit. And so we’ve never really thought, Oh, that’s for me. And so we kind of come to realize, oh, there’s this other option out here. It’s something I want to explore. The messages that I get so often come from people who say something along the lines of we are never having sex. My partner is never in the mood. I think we should open things up. How do I convince my partner? There’s some powerful language and convinced. So let’s just start when I hear those comments. Because I’ve had clients come to me with essentially that concern, right? And I think that especially if it is like a cisgender guy presenting with that concern, there are ways in which a lot of people minimize how hard it can be to be in a relationship where you are not actually getting your needs met around sex. Our culture, because it is sex negative, says that sex is not important. And so if the only thing wrong with your relationship is you’re not getting sex, then you should just shut up and deal with it. What I talk about in this kind of discordance around desire is if you have a relationship where one person only wants to have one meal a day and one person wants to have four meals a day, but they insist that they always eat together, there’s no good arrangement there where someone either isn’t eating when they need to or someone isn’t eating when they aren’t hungry. Right? So I think that there are very real ways in which desire discordance can be a huge problem, regardless of how you decide to solve it. I think the issue I see in choosing non monogamy as a solution to a problem in a monogamous relationship is that it can very easily become about kind of using the people that you date outside of that relationship as objects and tools to feed your monogamous relationship, rather than interacting with them as their own independent people, where it’s about finding a way to get something out of this person so that this works, rather than finding ways to connect with this person because they are a person and I like them. And so there’s this way that it can kind of feel like vampiric almost, where they’re like sucking out from other people so that this relationship can continue rather than looking at like, why is this happening in this relationship? And there are some people who say, don’t open your relationship until it’s completely fixed. I am not on that team because I don’t know anyone whose relationship is completely fixed. It just doesn’t exist. Right. We all have problems in our relationships. They can be pretty solid. And it doesn’t mean that we’re like 100% perfect all the time. And I think that if you’re going to open up while dealing with a problem in the relationship you’re already in, you need to be mindful of whether you are dealing with the problem or just sucking stuff out of other people to distract from the problem. Cover for the problem, avoid the problem. So I want to say first, I appreciate that you’re addressing this with compassion, that it really is a real problem when you’re in a monogamous relationship and your partner is not in the mood for sex or refusing to have sex. When you’re in a relationship and you’re asking for any sort of commitment, we do sign up to make an effort to fulfill one another’s needs. That doesn’t mean every time somebody needs to get off that you have to get their rocks off for them. But it does mean that I want to be open to ensuring that in this short lifetime you feel all the good things you can possibly feel, whether that’s emotionally, spiritually, physically, sexually, practically, socially, whatever the case may be. So I do appreciate that you brought that up because maybe even the way I seemed insensitive because I get it and we hear the same thing over and over again, like this is going to be a solution. So I guess my next question is can you consider opening up your relationship and work on the issue at the same time? Yes. And I think it is possible. I think it is much more challenging.

Right. I think it depends upon what the problem is that you’re starting with. It depends upon how much energy and resources you have to devote to dealing with that problem and dating other people. I think it depends upon how much support you’re getting around dealing with that problem. I think the thing that you said about you want your partner to have all of the good experiences that they want. Right. That is a really beautiful position and I think one that we all aim towards and the more scarce that we feel so the less that we feel we are getting our needs met, the more scarcity we tend to impose upon others. Right. There’s this way that humans tend to try to drag each other down. And when I’m feeling scarce, I tend to try to hoard and limit rather than finding ways to support and encourage. Right. And so I think that it can become this kind of death spiral of like, well you’re not giving me enough sex so I’m not going to do the dishes. Well, you didn’t do the dishes so I’m not going to have sex. Well you’re not giving me sex so I’m not going to listen to you. People aren’t getting their needs met so they withdraw further and further from each other and have more and more of this like grasping hoarding mentality towards each other. And I think that is something that can be addressed in your relationship. And if you’re opening up at the same time, it is probably going to create a lot of problems. Because as soon as you have new relationship energy with somebody else, your partner who has been getting your scarcity and hoarding and withholding is going to get pissed and like for valid reasons. Right. If you’ve had a partner who refuses to give you a blow job for a year and then they start dating someone new and they are head of blow jobs, you’re going to feel really upset. Right. It’s going to feel like you have been wrong, even if that’s not actually what’s happening. So I think that there’s a way in which, if you’re in that kind of scarcity spiral, you have to find a way to course correct and start building up the balance in your own relationship first in order to support opening up in a way that’s going to feel good. Because if your bank accounts are still empty, opening up is going to feel much, much worse. So how do we start that? Because every single one of us gets into that scarcity space. Some relationships obviously more than others. When I think I always think I want Brennan to have every good thing in the world. Like, I’m 42, he’s 44. Is that right? Did I lie? Last I checked? Okay. No, I’m a terrible age thing. I always like, since the pandemic, I’ve keep subtracting years. I’m surprised she didn’t say I was 48 or 50 or something. Pandemic time doesn’t exist. Right. Exactly. I haven’t had my 40th birthday yet. I’m having it in October. So I think about if we get another 40, another 60, I mean, that’d be very generous years. I want all the good things in life, but it comes from the foundation of a relationship where I feel like I’m getting all the good things in life. So now that’s not to say that this relationship is perfect. Okay. If you’re in that scarcity, I guess, mindset, or you’re in that sort of cycle you’re describing whether you see your partner doing it or you doing it. And of course, it takes two to tango, three to be even better. But how do we even break that cycle? It can be complicated because somebody has to choose to start giving without knowing for certain that they will receive in return. Right? And I think a lot of times, especially if we’re talking about, like, CIS hat relationships, the woman is expected to do a lot of giving without a lot of expectation of return. Right? And so moving back to a position of giving without guaranteed return can feel much less okay if you feel like you’ve already put in a lot of labor and work. Right? If you feel like you have already tapped yourself out trying to get what you need from this person, it can feel like a worse bet to try to try that again. I think part of this here is that you can do this on your own, and support is probably helpful here, whether that’s therapy or coaching or, like, spiritual counseling or a support group, whatever it is. I think having someone that you can talk to who can give you a space to be vulnerable with each other and acknowledge the hurt and the rejection that you’re feeling. Because usually what the scarcity cycle is about is about using anger and punishment to avoid your own feelings of hurt and rejection and shame and fear. And so you need a space where you can feel those things and acknowledge those things to each other and then start turning towards each other. Poly Secure by Jessica Fern, is an amazing resource for a lot of this because a lot of what she talks about in terms of the skills and the tools you can use to increase security in your relationship or to increase attachment security within yourself, can help with this spiral as well, because a lot of it is about being open, receiving things, turning back towards each other rather than pulling away. And those tools can be very helpful in this spiral. And I think everybody I mean, for you listening, I think we all can kind of stop and say to ourselves, like, I can give before I receive, right? Now, if you do this over and over again in a relationship and it’s a pattern, of course, that’s problematic. But sometimes when you get into a cycle, sometimes if you’re in a rut in a relationship, I think we just need to be able to coach ourselves and say, you know what? I can give before I receive. I can say, like, you’re really good at that. I’m a little more digging, Brandon, but I’ve learned from you, I think, over the years. And also it’s the foundation of trust, right? If I trust that I feel safe saying something, I’m going to be more likely to be able to be vulnerable. And what you said that really resonates with me is fear, right? Like, people, we’re all afraid. The big reason why we act like jerks is because we’re afraid. The big reason why we try and control is because we’re afraid. And we replace that word fear with so many other words. I even noticed with young people talking about anxiety, I’m like, yeah, it’s anxiety. And it also could be fear, but we haven’t really empowered ourselves to say, like, I’m actually fearful, and what am I fearful of? Am I fearful of being rejected? Am I fearful of coming second? Am I fearful that I’ll have to share your energy and time? And so I’m just thinking, am I fearful that this isn’t actually working, that we’re going to open this up and find out we need to break up? I often tell people that I don’t know. So anyone who comes to see me for couples work. Part of the preamble I give them before we agree to work with each other is that my goal when working with couples is not to keep them together. My goal is not to keep a couple together. My goal is to help them figure out what each of them wants and needs and then to determine what kind of a relationship, if any, can work for them. Given that, I think a lot of us don’t break up when we should. We don’t break up until we absolutely despise someone. We don’t break up until we are so hurt. It is not fixable. And I think this also has a companion piece of a lot of us don’t explicitly ask for what we want to need. We just try to find roundabout ways to get it. Or we can give them the things we want them to give us and then expect them to return it without ever actually negotiating it. I think part of this vulnerability is also about owning your wants and needs and expressing them to something. I’ve struggled with this a lot in my life. The family I grew up in, there was not a lot of safe space for me to talk about what I wanted or needed. And so I’ve had to work very hard as an adult figuring out how to sit with someone and say, like, hey, I would really love to hear from you more often. I would really love for us to have a regular weekly date. It helps me settle into a connection when I know I’m going to be seeing you. Right. Because for a long time I wouldn’t express a launcher I need until it was like a Defcon Five relationship ending need. And that gives my partner so little flexibility about how we handle this, about how they meet, what I want to need. If we talk about it early and often, we give each other a lot of space to figure out how to make that happen. Like, if what I’m wanting is more connection from a partner and I go to them as soon as I’m noticing that I’m not feeling that connection, we can talk about, like, is it more chat? Is it a video chat every so often? Is it more text, is it sending memes? There’s a lot of ways we can brainstorm where if I’m in this deep debt, there’s so much less flexibility, so much less for us to play with. And I think a big thing I see in a lot of these relationships that are in this spiral or that are in this, like, we just need to non monogamy is that there are all of these unmet wants and needs that have also been unexpressed and everybody’s just sitting there wondering why their partner isn’t reading their mind better. And that’s not going to happen. None of us are good mind readers. They’re, like, might be an occasional psychic here or there, but the majority of us are terrible at it. If you’re not Ms. Clio, you’re not reading minds. Right?

If you’re not late night ads in the 90s, there’s so much here, I think, to unpack. I want to go to the short answer that obviously this is an interesting and nuanced discussion. We’re going to keep having it. But one piece is that if one of you wants to be non monogamous and you’re sure of that and the other wants to be non monogamous sorry, monogamous? And you’re sure of that? Sometimes it’s not a fit, and I think it is really important that the existence or longevity of a relationship not be the measure of a relationship. Sometimes the best relationships end in a certain way. It doesn’t mean you can’t love each other in other ways or have other types of relationships. And that’s a really scary thing because so many of us, and I am definitely a part of this group, don’t want to be alone, right? There’s a fear of being alone. There’s a fear of finding another partner or other partners or starting again or I’d say most of the people who messaged me have been married like 1015, 20 years and they’ve waited a very long time to deal with underlying issues and they do think that non monogamy is going to be some sort of a quick fix of panacea if we move from that group. So if we have a group of people who see it as a panica and we acknowledge that, hey, if you can work on the issues, maybe you can also explore this, but let’s also work on the issues and the vulnerability and being able to go to your partner and say hey man, I love you and I don’t like the way we’ve been talking to each other or I care about you and I feel like we’re in a bad place, let’s sit and talk. To always start with the male culpa. To me, I find anybody will listen. And this applies in business, this applies with friends, this applies when you’re ordering your coffee and this applies in intimate relationships. If I can say here’s what I know that I can do better than a partner or the other person, almost all with few exceptions for certain personality disorders or issues with attachment. Sure people will follow your leads. Oh yeah. Because you’re opening with vulnerability. Right. The vulnerability is the hard part of those conversations and if you move into it first, you have created a safe space for it. Right. When we come to a partner with like you’re not giving me enough attention already. What we’ve done is created a situation where we are right and they are wrong. If we come into it. Instead of like I am struggling because I feel like I am really anxious about what’s happening in this. I feel like I don’t know where I stand with this and I don’t want to feel that and I know that you don’t want me to feel that. Can we talk about like what’s going on? Right, right, absolutely. And with the reassurance too, like I’m committed to this or I love you or I care about you or I miss how we used to play together or feel together, I think that people can have these conversations. And so that brings me to I want to be really clear, it’s not like there are buckets that are mutually exclusive, but for folks who have maybe just discovered that consensual, ethical, non monogamy is an option for folks who maybe have always felt like it would be a better fit for folks who are really thinking, like, you know what? I really love my partner and I love this life we have. And this isn’t a preference for me. This is a part of my identity and orientation, if you will. How do we start that conversation with a long term partner? I mean, there’s stuff in my book about it, and I think a lot of this is about acknowledging what it is for you, acknowledging where it came from and letting them know that it’s not about them, letting them know that this isn’t something you’ve been hiding from them. This isn’t something you’ve been tricking them about. I think the most common things that a monogamous partner experiences in this is, like, where you just hiding this the whole time. Is this what you’ve always wanted? Or were you just lying about this forever? Is this that you don’t love me? Is this that I’m not good at these things? Right. I think finding ways to reassure them that this is about you, not about them, is really helpful. I think also figuring out how to present it in a way that you’re not presenting it like a terminal cancer diagnosis. The biggest issue I see is where someone comes to their partner, like, I have something very important to tell you. I am so sorry. I know that this is going to be so challenging for the both of us, but I have decided that I would like to explore non monogamy. I know that this is horrible news for you. Nobody is going to react well in that situation. You’ve already started them with anxiety, right? Whereas if you sit them down and you’re like, hey, I’ve been hearing about this consensual non monogamy thing and I’m finding it really interesting. Can I share with you, like, some of the books or podcasts I’ve been listening to and you can kind of see what I’m hearing and see what you think about it. Can we have a conversation about this? I think another mistake people make is moving directly from, I think I want to be non monogamous too. We need to immediately transition this relationship to non monogamy, especially if usually you’ve been spending a few months thinking about this, pondering it, figuring it out, expecting your partner to be directly on board with it. Right. That day is not reasonable or kind, and they need time to catch up. Like, if this is something you’ve been pondering for so long and it’s brand new to them, you can expect them to feel a little bit sideswept, especially in a culture that is so monotonous, right, and also toxically monogamous. And there are all these other pieces attached to it with kids, with family, with social, with your neighbors. All of those pieces and consequences for many people. Like, some people have more privilege to access other options that are not seen as so mainstream. But for folks who are already on the margins, finding another way to be where you may be marginalized is really a challenge. So that’s really helpful to think about where this comes from, to reassure them, to give them space and time, to not approach it like it’s something morbid. When do you bring it up? Is there a time? Do you think you should like, would it be helpful to talk to a therapist yourself? Would you suggest that you find support groups in advance?

It can be. I think in general, the recommendation I make is talk early, talk often. So as soon as you start thinking that this might be a thing that you want, it might be easier for you to start the conversation at that point, then waiting until the point where you’re like, I am 100% ready to do this. I’ve figured out what I want to do. I’ve found the groups, I’ve found the dating sites. I’m ready to go. Right. Because then you’ve already done all of this prep work and you’re expecting your partner to join you at the end point of the journey rather than inviting them on the journey with you. I think the caveat I would give there is that sometimes the reaction people get from their partner is very, very negative. And so just being prepared that the first reaction your partner gives you may not be reflective of the reaction they give you forever. The parallel I would draw here is like coming out as queer or trans. Right? The first time that I came out to my family, my mom threatened to disown me, threatened to divorce my dad if he wouldn’t do the same. Asked me if I had sex with trees or animals. Because if you’re bisexual, clearly you just fuck everything. And it was a whole ass thing, right? Several years later I’m so sorry. I mean, it is what it is, right? This is part of being a part of this culture. And many, many years later, I had a partner who was a nonbinary person, who is a scientist at birth. We were marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade together, and my mom wished us the best in that parade. Is she 100% on board with me being queer and nonbinary? Absolutely not. But she’s made a lot of progress. Right? The first reaction you get from someone is almost always coming from their fear of what they’re going to lose, from their fear of what this change is going to mean, from their fear of what this means for them and you and your life together. And so understanding and giving some grace to them for having a negative first reaction, that doesn’t mean that they get to do whatever they want, like beat you up about it forever. It means that if they’re kind of shitty when you first broach the topic with them, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be shitty forever. And it doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are, how they are, how this will go for you. And that’s why the conversation, as you said, is ongoing. It’s early, yes, but it’s also often it’s not this one time thing where you figure out your relationship. And I think that there are a lot of fears and stereotypes around non monogamy. Right. People assume that. I always hear from somebody like, oh, I know someone who opened up their marriage and they broke up. And I’m like, okay, I know someone who didn’t open up their marriage and they broke up. Like all of our parents. Yeah, I mean, monogamous people divorce at 50%. So, I mean, clearly it’s the monogamy, right? It’s something in the water or the monogamy, one of those two things. And really, your relationship arrangement is not what determines the quality of your relationship. Right. Even the staying together doesn’t determine the quality of the relationship. We all know people in life who are together and celebrate 10, 20, 30 longer years together, and you wonder why they would put themselves in that situation for so long. Right. The mere existence of a relationship doesn’t make it fulfilling. And again, I always go back to the short life. Like, life feels short to me because I freaking love it. And all of a sudden I’m older. Like, all of a sudden I’m an adult. I don’t know how this happened. I really feel like a teenager. Right? How did it happen? For real? Right? I’m almost 40 and like, what, how? I feel like there’s some sort of well, I have that, what do they call it? Like prolonged adolescence where I really do feel like a child. But no, I’m an adult now. I’m sprouting hairs in places I didn’t know, and I’m an adult now. I got pews. Hey, the period will be done eventually. So anyhow, in that short lifetime, I hope that people listening will reflect, maybe take a look at your book Building Open Relationships and really think about, like, I’ve got this short period of time. I’m not going to put this off another month, year, years, because we have this one shot. And if you are struggling in your relationship because you feel like you are ethically or consensually non monogamous, and that’s a part of who you are, you deserve to be loved. You deserve to speak up. You mentioned in the beginning that we’re so sex negative that if everything is straight in the relationship except the sex, we’re expected to endure it. And that’s so problematic where you shouldn’t have to endure in relationships. Okay. Are there ups and downs? Does your partner suck sometimes? Of course. But if we think about enduring in relationships, that feels so frightening and toxic to me. Yeah. And I think there’s this way that people choose longevity over anything else. Right? Like, as long as I can just keep this relationship going, that’s a marker of success. But that’s not like when we decide that the only successful relationships are the ones that end in death. That sets everybody up for a terrible time. There’s no good outcome there, right? It is so much better to restructure a relationship or break up with somebody when you can sit down and have a good conversation with them about it and just say, like, hey, it seems like we do things really differently. I still care a ton about you. I don’t want you out of my life. I just think that us being partners is not really working. So can we take some space and then figure out what does work for us? It gives you so much more ability to stay connected to the people you care about. Whereas if you keep trying to eke it out to the bitter end, it ends in resentment and anger and pain. If something’s not a fit, it’s not a fit, and that’s okay. Nobody’s a bad guy. There nobody’s wrong.

Exactly. We move on in life. We have growth, we have periods, we have transformations. We go from job to job, city to city. We don’t do it all at once. I’m curious, if you have this initial conversation with a partner and it doesn’t go well, they freak out, maybe they withdraw, they don’t want to talk about it. And maybe it’s because I definitely get messages like this. It’s been simmering for weeks, maybe even months now. How do you rekindle the conversation? What do you do next? I mean, what I would say is, like, in general, whenever a conversation is having super high heated emotions, it’s helpful to take a time out. And part of taking a good time out is setting when you’re going to come back to the conversation, right? So if your partner freaks out, you can be like, hey, I can tell that this is really upsetting you. I understand. And that’s totally a way that people feel about this kind of conversation. What I’d love to do is give us some space to kind of process this initial thing and then circle back and check back in about it. How about next Wednesday? Does that work for you? And like, setting a specific point, you’re going to circle back? If the person says to you, I will absolutely never talk about it again. That’s so good. Again, that may be just the heat of the moment. And people also get to say, I am absolutely not open to having a non monogamous relationship. And if it’s important to you to have a non monogamous relationship, what they may be telling you is, we’re not a good fit. How do you help people make that choice? Because people find themselves at that crossroad where they’re like, I love this person. I want to be with this person. We have a happy life together. Sometimes I think that they gloss over a lot of things when they say things. It’s like every advice column letter is always like, we have the best relationship. It’s so amazing. Or like, am I the asshole on reddit or reddit relationships? It’s always like, they’re the most amazing partner. I love them so much. They’re amazing, they’re perfect. The thing is, every couple of weeks they beat the crap out of me and I feel terrible about it, but how do I just get them to do it a little less, right? It’s always like, perfect relationship, except terrible, and it’s so heartbreaking. So I think that the thing is, love is not enough, right? We are told in this culture over and over again that if you love someone, that means you should be in this kind of relationship with them. And that is absolutely not true. Mark Manson wrote a blog years ago about this that is titled Love is Not Enough and I’ve sent it to countless clients over the years. What makes a relationship work is not just love. And when we say that we should stay together because we love each other, usually we’re using love in this amorphous noun kind of form. Whereas if you think about it, the way that Bell Hooks writes about and all about love, where love is about the ways that we show up responsibly in our relationships, that we are accountable to ourselves and our partners, that we show love through our actions, right? Keeping someone in a relationship with you who is unhappy with what you can offer them is not loving. Staying with someone who is hurting you is not loving. Like, none of that is actually loving. And so when we think about love, we can have deep affection and caring for someone, and they cannot be the right partner for us. Those things are not always the same. It doesn’t mean, like, loving someone deeply does not mean they’re the right partner for you. It doesn’t mean a relationship that is romantic is going to work. Love is not the marker. And I think when you take that out of the equation and you look at, okay, love, absolutely, it is there. What else is in the relationship, though, and how does it work? It can help people get a clearer picture of what is actually happening. When we let our emotions, when we let our limbic system run the show, we tend to make worse decisions than when we involve all of our brain. When we’re using not just our feelings, but also our ability to process, to look at logic, to think about pros and cons and weights, different options. Yeah, I really appreciate that. And it brings us, I guess, because I know we need to close up soon. Within consensual, non monogamy, there is a strong view, at least for me, that love is this infinite resource, right? There’s not a certain amount of love I have. Like, I think about how I feel about Brandon. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel deeply for other people I think about how I have intimate conversations with Brennan that are so meaningful to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have intimate conversations with other people. So I think that part of Toxic monogamy tells us now there needs to be certain things that are only reserved for one person. And if you watch Romcoms, you’ll get a clear picture of what those things are and what they aren’t, not even just Romcoms. My favorite thing is the big dating shows right now are all about micro dosing non monogamy, where they have people, like, try out non monogamy for a little bit to find the right monogamy for them. So you look at like, F Boy Island, Love is Blind, The Ultimatum, all of them have people kind of, like, try out non monogamy to find their right monogamy without talking about it, without really talking about how that non monogamy is going to affect their relationship, when those people are they seem to be people who want to be monogamous. These are 22 on The Ultimatum, which I watched. People can go back and listen to the discussion with Tasha. It’s a toshy show, but I love it. I watched it for a podcast interview with Tasha Bailey, who was talking about why we like Toxic TV as a form of escapism. And like, the first five minutes I kind of wanted to shoot myself, but then all of a sudden I couldn’t stop watching the entire season. But these are like 22 year olds who are like, I need to get married now to one person and start having babies. Now I’m getting older. And I’m like, you’re 25, you’ve got at least 15 down there in years. Come on. Yes. So I think that just this reminder that we can love and we can love multiple people in different ways. And this isn’t saying to people. So I want to give one caveat here. I think that love, the emotion is an unlimited resource. I think that love in terms of the verb, is not right. We only have so much time. There’s a lot of people I see who do a Toxic version of non monogamy where they have twelve partners who they aren’t able to give attention or energy to because they’ve oversaturated themselves, where they have, like, grabbed too many partners and they don’t have the available energy or time to actually tend to those connections. Right? So I think if we think of love as a verb, then we have to look at not just the emotional capacity we have, but the energetic capacity, the time capacity, the ways in which we have emotional capacity that is about holding space for rather than just feeling good things. And so I think love, the noun is not limited, but love the verb is. And that might make me unpopular in non monogamous circles, but we all have limitations. It’s practical. I think there are so many of us who are. What’s the word for I was thinking of it the other day, but I have this fog right now where you’re kind of ambient, where you could be monogamous, you could be non monogamous. I think for many of us, it’s a matter of practicality, like whether it’s finances or time or logistics where you might want to have multiple partners, but it may not also be a fit for your lifestyle. And that’s okay, too. Just like I can be bisexual and not be happy or I’m pansexual and not be having sex with everybody, right? It’s not as though the behavior is unlimited because I’m just one person. Like, I can only do so much. I can only have so much sex. I can only spend so much time on relationships.

I couldn’t have 15 best friends who take the time that one best friend takes from me. So, yeah, that’s a very important point. All right, I really highly recommend that folks follow along with you, Doctor Liz Powell, and check out your book, Building Open Relationships. Definitely contribute to the fundraiser. I’ll make sure I do that. I’m sorry I haven’t yet. So that you can do your audio guide, which I know is going to be so meaningful and powerful and reach more people. Did we miss anything on discordant couples that you want to just leave with? I mean, I think the one thing I would leave with is that sometimes nobody’s wrong, right? I think when relationships are having an issue, a lot of times because of how our culture wants clean binaries, we want to find out who’s right and who’s wrong. And that’s sometimes not at all what’s happening. Sometimes we’re just different and nobody’s wrong, and it’s not working. And I think those breakups are hard to consider for people because there’s no villain, and so that means they can’t break up, but you can just acknowledge nobody’s wrong here, right? What you want isn’t wrong. What I want isn’t wrong. They don’t fit together, though, right? I’m not going to be happy on one meal a day. You’re not going to be happy trying to eat four. We need to either eat with other people or just not eat together. I appreciate that so much. And next time, we’re going to have Doctor Liz back to help us figure out this whole eating problem we have between each other. Because Brandon eats these breakfast bars for breakfast, and it drives me nuts that we don’t sit down together and eat breakfast because it’s like a cultural thing, I think. I’m sure we’ve talked about that. I’ve talked about this before. Pretty sure there’s a podcast on this. I love me a good RX bar first thing in the morning. Yeah. I want dumplings and noodles and I want conversation. I’d like quiet, the newspaper and some coffee. Right? So this is such a perfect example, right? What would be a perfect warning for each of you is completely different. And there’s no good compromise here, right? Like there isn’t a middle ground between conversation dumpling, noodles and RXBAR quiet newspaper, right? You can’t have like dumplings and quiet. Sometimes one person is not you’re, right? And sometimes somebody is wrong and they should just go eat their dumplings and noodles. All right, maybe you find a video chat friend, right? So you have your breakfast with somebody else. That’s a separate billing code for Doctor Liz, folks. Follow along again. Building open relationships. Doctor Liz Powell. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for having me. And thank you folks for listening and joining us. Make sure if you are shopping for anything sexy, whether it’s lingerie or latex or butt plugs or vibrators, head on over to AdamandEve.com. Use code Doctor Jess to save 50% almost any single item plus free shipping and above bunch of other freegoodiesadamandeve.com code Dr. Jess. Wherever you’re at, have a great one.

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