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September 22, 2022

Non-Monogamy: One Couples’ Story

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Emma and Fin met in middle school, started dating in college, and have been practising non-monogamy for 15 years. They share their story of falling in love, navigating double dates with other couples, and eventually exploring polyamory as part of a quad. We promise that – their story and insights are valuable regardless of whether you’re monogamous or non-monogamous, so have a listen!

Emma and Fin’s podcast, Normalizing Non-Monogamy can be followed on their Instagram and check out their website here.

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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.

Non-Monogamy: One Couples’ Story

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 co host Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. Hey. Today we are talking about non monogamy with MN Finn, the host of Normalizing Non Monogamy. This is a podcast, and they’ve been exploring non monogamy themselves for over 15 years, personally together. And each week on their podcast, they interview different people who are exploring ethical non monogamy totally in their own individual ways. And their hope is that if they can get enough people to share those stories and get them out into the world, that it’ll really provide a resource and community for anyone who is considering non monogamy, because it’s not always an easy path, given the toxic monogamous culture in which we live. And overall, their mission is really just to inspire people to embrace their true selves so that together we can all open minds and live authentically without shame. No easy task. Thank you so much for being here. Ms. Fan, how are you doing today? Thank you so much for having us. We’re really excited, and we’re just doing great this morning. We’re really excited for this conversation. Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having us.

And this as your mission. So helping people to embrace their true selves and live authentically without shame, my goodness, that’s a heavy task. A fun one, an interesting one, I’m sure, a very meaningful one, but not easy. And I think what you’re doing is really exceptional because you’re sharing real stories and you also share a lot about your story. And I absolutely encourage people to go check out your podcast, Normalizing Non Monogamy. And also, before you get there, I would love to hear your story. So I read that you met in 7th grade, and you’ve been together since freshman year in college, and you’ve been together a long time, and you’re now in this happy non monogamous relationship. So let’s start with the story of how you met and kind of how this relationship came to be. Yeah, sure. So we met yeah, as you just said, we met in 7th grade. We were friends throughout high school, middle school, and high school. And then we started dating in college. And from very early on, we started to have the conversation, probably about a year after we started dating, about opening our relationship and what that might mean and what that might look like. We were very naive. We didn’t know what we were doing at all, but we were open to having the conversations. And I’ll let Finn tell a little bit of that story since he was the one to bring it up to me originally. Yeah, I think that the main sort of catalyst for it was neither of us really dated in high school. We both had one other partner, and then we got together and it was sort of like I don’t know, I want us both to be able to experience a lot of different things in life and I never wanted to stop Emma from living life that she wanted to live in. And I think I also had some interest in what is dating like, but we ended up doing that together. So we would go on dates with other couples early on and that was actually kind of how we did it for probably the first ten years or so. Oh yeah, it was really slow. We just kind of progressed because we were growing as people. You’re in your early 20s, we’re doing life and figuring out ourselves, figuring out our relationship. And so it’s a very slow progression to open our relationship over the first many years. Can I ask how did you find couples to date in the beginning? Because I think it’s getting easier and easier. There are more apps, there are more platforms, there are more meetups. But a little while ago, over a decade ago, I imagine it was even more of a challenge to find those people. Yeah, well, it’s actually kind of funny about that is the very first place we ever explored non monogamy was in Australia.

We were in a study abroad and the very first thing we ever did was we went to a house party that was supposed to be just like a chill meet and greet. And it was much more than that, but we kind of just took part in the meet and greet portion of it. But then I remember we did try to find some couples just like even just to go to dinner with. But this was still pretty early. This was in 2007, so we would go there was like a sex shop in town and we would go there and they had like a little printed book with like it was almost like a personals that you could look through and then message people. It was really interesting. But then it was mostly when we got back to the US and started exploring it more. It was some of the very early websites trying to find like a party or something. But it was pretty rudimentary back then and we were just looking for people mostly to talk with because we wanted to see what other people were doing in nontraditional relationships. And so I guess things have changed so much. How is your relationship evolved? Fast forward how many years now? 15 years or so? Yeah, about 15 years. Yes. And it’s always had the undertone that what we wanted was friends. We wanted to make friends and if we could like the ideal would be we could go hiking or camping or travel and then, hey, if everybody is into it, maybe it goes somewhere else. But what ended up happening over the years is we found some of those friends and we made a big group of friends and then it took many years. It did take many years. And then in 2020, when the world shut down, we kind of pulled back from doing all of this. But then we met another couple, and the four of us all really hit it off. And so things kind of, like, escalated from there. People fell in love, feelings happen, and then deeper and deeper relationships happened. And so since about the fall of 2020, we’ve been in a polyamorous quad with another couple, and that has evolved in a bit of a roller coaster. We’ve kind of, like, figured out a lot of things because, as Emma said in the very beginning, we were super naive. I think we were super naive to polyamory as well, because that’s a big jump to go from, like, hey, we’re going on dates or maybe having some fun, casual encounters with friends to, like, well, somebody’s in love now, or multiple people are in love, and there’s NRE, and it’s a long distance dynamic, and so there’s a lot that’s there to unpack. I want to hear more about how you define yourselves, and I imagine the language and the categories have changed over the years. Before we get to that, you mentioned NRE new relationship energy. We haven’t really talked a lot about that on the podcast. So can you tell us what that is, what it means, why it’s so exciting, and the challenges that it potentially presents in polyamorous relationships? Oh, zero challenges at all. Yeah, I wish. The relationship energy, basically that first, it can last a long time. It depends. I can’t really put a timeframe on it. But generally, the first few months, first few weeks, first few months of getting to know someone else, someone in a relationship, it can happen in any type of relationship, but multiple people or two people getting to know each other and just falling in that super, almost head over heels excitement. And it can be almost all consuming, and it can really just be all consuming. And so, thankfully, we were going through that at the same time, which was helpful because it can be in polyamory. When you’re all in with that new relationship energy, it can definitely be hard on the other relationship or other relationships because it can be so all consuming.

Well. Yeah. And you kind of feel a lot of those things that you felt like the first time you met maybe your wife or your partner. And then you see them feeling those things for somebody else. And maybe that spark has been a little bit dimmer for the two of you. And all of a sudden. You’re seeing it. Like them lighting up like crazy. And you’re like. Whoa. But luckily, like Zama said, we were going through it together, so we were both watching it, but also like, well, but it’s okay because I’m feeling it, I think. At the same time, we didn’t have, like, a check valve on it, and I think if one of us was going through it, the other one might have been there to be like, hey, maybe this or that someone to kind of keep watch over it. But because we were both going through it, I’m wondering if maybe sometimes it was a little bit more intense than it would have been because we didn’t like throttle it at all. We were just like, we’re in, let’s do it. And it was kind of balls to the wall from out the gate. I don’t know if it would have been. It is definitely intense. It’s probably one of the most intense things I’ve ever experienced is like kind of going through that. And I think that our relationships were long distance and we didn’t see our partners very often. I think it has lasted longer and has kind of come around, in a sense longer than it would if we were seeing each other every couple of days or living close together. That makes sense because it really is the mystery, the distance, the unknown, the risk, the yearning that kind of invigorates the neurochemistry associated with new relationship energy, right? Those fluctuations in serotonin, the extreme spikes, endopamine and norepinephrine and adrenaline, and you’ve got these chemical brain changes. And I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, folks, but when you are newly in love, your brain is activated in the same way as someone who is regularly using cocaine. So it feels really good. But you can’t exist in that brain chemistry, that territory for prolonged periods of time. So that’s why it’s new relationship energy, not old relationship energy. And there is inevitably, over time, this transition from those exciting neurochemicals to more bonding and stability neurochemicals. So we think about like oxytocin and vasopressin, which are both to be believed, both believed to be involved in bonding. But what you say about spending time apart and doing it long distance, especially in the beginning, because this is still the early stage of those other new relationship, it can be prolonged because you still have that curiosity, there’s still this yearning. And I’m curious about your falling in love with another couple. Was this something that you planned? Is this something that surprised you? How did you navigate that after 15 years of mostly dating together?

It sounds like yes, it was something that we had talked about for a long time and so it’s been a topic of conversation where we just said, yeah, this could happen, this may happen, we’re both open to it. How do you feel about it? Where are you at with it? And it was kind of a check in for many years about whether we would ever be interested in having more serious other relationships. And we were always open to it, but this definitely surprised us. I think that the way it happened. It happened very quickly and we decided to go all in. But it was surprising. Yeah, I think for me it was always the thing that I would be open to and even coming through what we would say was traditionally like, swinging. We know. And we’ve talked to a lot of people who say, yeah, we do it, but we don’t do the feelings. We don’t get feelings. And it’s like, for me, I’ve always been like, I don’t really think I can control when I get feelings. And so my answer to that is always like, yeah, you don’t until you do. And then once you do, you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do with them. And that’s kind of what happened, is they just kind of both hit us or they hit both of us, and then we had to figure out how to navigate that and the challenges of jealousy and timing and all sorts of different things layered on top of the NRA. Sometimes you have those high highs, but then you have these low lows, and so it can be a pretty steep learning curve right out the gate those first couple of months as you’re trying to figure out what all this is and how to do it. That makes sense to me. Now, do you identify as polyamorous now? Do you use labels? You mentioned the word swinging. I know people are quite curious about the language, and of course, I want to acknowledge that the language is highly personal and always evolving. But I’d love to hear your take on it because every time we hear from another couple or another person, I think it can help us to say, oh, yeah, you know what? That really aligns with what I’m feeling or what I desire. Yeah, labels are tricky. I would say that we are polyamorous, and the way that works for us right now is that we’re in a polyamorous quad with another couple. So that would be the way I define our current relationship. Do you have more to add? I think functionally, yes, that’s what it would be. But I think for me, a better term would just be like open. I’m open to what comes along for me, whether that’s a romantic relationship or a friendship or something else. I’m not necessarily like, seeking anything at the moment, but I also like to just say, I don’t know, I approach life in a very open way to let in what makes sense and keep out what doesn’t. I appreciate that, and I think that shows some sort of delineation between behavior or function. Like you said, what you’re in versus what you are. And that language, I think, can be really helpful for people to figure out what they’re feeling because not everything we want is necessarily available to us at the time. Right, so you can be polyamorous, but maybe you don’t have access to experimenting or exploring polyamorous relationships. Now, I’m curious in hosting your podcast, or your podcast is normalizing, non monogamy, you’re really creating space for all sorts of people to share their own stories of exploring non monogamy. And of course, you’ve shared yours a little bit. I’m sure there’s more to it. I’m curious what you’ve really learned about non monogamy from your guests and the stories. What has surprised you? Yes, so much. The bottom line is we’ve learned so much, I mean, talking to probably over 300 different people in different relationship dynamics, really one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that there’s no one way to think about it, to think about non monogamy, to think about relationships. People approach it from all different places and stages in their life, all different types of thinking and all different desires and needs and wants. And it’s most important part, I think it’s just to listen and to understand where that person is coming from. But it’s been an amazing journey talking to everyone that we have. I’d add to that I think that it becomes really evident how adaptive we are and how much we don’t just sit and be stagnant. So we’ve talked to some people like two or three times on the show or we interviewed him three or four years ago and we interview them now or we just hear their story and the way that it has evolved and not that it’s grown, but it just has evolved. Right. People start one way and over time it becomes something different. I mean, we’ve talked to people who’ve been in gone from solo poly to a triad to a quad. Now they’re having children.

There’s so many evolutions and directions it goes. And I think, too, that the thing Emma said about they’re not being run one right way is people are finding what works for them and they’re also making relationships that would maybe traditionally not exist. So, like an example would be we talked to this woman who her husband came out to after 35 years as gay and they decided to stay together. He has his partners. She went and found hers. And they are staying together because they’re best friends and they’re like, we still want to be married. But he travels a lot for work and he has his boyfriends and I travel now and have my boyfriends and they make it work. And so we love that aspect of it as well. I really love that. I think that’s so beautiful that people are designing relationships that work for them without the confines of these sociocultural norms. And you can have love and intimacy and closeness and romance and maybe that’s not the person with whom you have the sexual or erotic spark, but we’ve tried to align all these things into one tiny box where you have to be you’re supposed to be best friends and coparents and life partners and roommates and sexual partners. But we have all of these various needs and they need not be fulfilled by one person or two people. And I love your openness. I was thinking about how open you are? I don’t know. I feel very serious about that. I mean, I want to say that this fluidity, the idea that things are changing, I think that that probably is a roadblock for a lot of people. So how did you become so open? How did that evolve? Yeah, it’s a big question, but I think that it really is about this attitude and feeling safe and relinquishing the shame you may have started there, but I can’t imagine that you were raised with that type of openness to fluidity. So how do you even get there? I think part of it is our innate, like, who we are somewhat, because I know for me, I am a person who is very curious. Always have been, always will be, and about anything and always wanting to try new things, wanting to do new things. And there’s a piece of that that I know is probably just the way I am. The other piece, I know I did grow up in an environment that was always pushing me to go out and try new things, to question things. But I think a lot of it has also just been the two of us evolving together in our relationship and having conversations that we weren’t ever willing to stay in a box, I guess in our relationship, we always wanted to push. We always wanted to try different things. And it wasn’t even just in our relationship dynamic. It was in life in general. And so we wanted to do that together. And it has been an evolution, I think, over time. What do you have to add? No, I was trying to pinpoint where it came from. And I think, for me, at least, I don’t have a great spot other than I have this pretty intense drive to not miss out on anything in life. And I think that pushes me to be open to whatever comes my way. And that’s hard to do sometimes because there’s a lot of times it’s like, in theory, this would be great, and then you get into it, and even in theory, you know that things are true. Like, I know that Emma could meet somebody any day and fall head over heels or at least knock her off her feet, and she’d be like, My world just changed. I mean, I watched it happen. And so that’s an easy thing to say. But then when you have to go and live it and experience it, and you have to adapt all of your actual thinking to apply it, it is hard. But I think for me, it’s a drive to not miss out on anything in life and not arrive at the end being like, I have a whole bunch of regrets, nor do I want my partner. I don’t want to ever find out, too, that I was like, well, for the last 50 years, I have been not living the best life I could because of you. Like, that’s worse for me than anything I can ever imagine. And so I try to live in a way that doesn’t cause that to happen. Do you feel like you have a desire for Emma? Like, you just said that for her to live her best life now when she’s with or when she meets somebody else, do you feel a genuine sense and there’s a connection? Do you genuinely feel happy about that? Does it bring you joy? Like, do you feel good about that? Yeah. When she’s happy and this is work I’m doing actually in therapy around codependency is like, when she’s happy, I’m over the moon, and when she’s not, it can really drag me down. I’m trying to level that out.

So it’s not like she’s having a hard day and I’m having a hard day. Like, I’m allowed to have a happy day even if she’s not. But her happiness still I don’t ever want her happiness to not bring me joy. Yeah. So there’s a couple of terms here. One is emotional differentiation, right? The capacity to not take on all of your partner’s feelings. The other that we hear a lot about in ENM and polyamory is conversion, which I’m sure most people are familiar with, but that genuine sense of joy derived from somebody else’s joy. And I think that thinking about ethical non monogamy for monogamous people and for all of us who were raised in a kind of compulsory monogamous culture, which is pretty much all of us, it can be hard to think about these experiences in the context of romantic relationships. But if we take the romance out and we switch it up and think about friendships or think about parentchild relationships, the concept of compersion deriving genuine joy from someone else’s joy because you love them so much makes so much sense. Like, we think about parents really relishing in the thriving, the success, the joy, the love of their children, it goes without saying. Similarly for friends. When your friend gets a big promotion or gets a huge opportunity or falls in love or just gets anything in their life that makes them happy, you can share in that happiness in a similar way when you genuinely love them. But we’ve created these boundaries around romantic relationships, sexual relationships, that somehow these things are so special and so rare. Right. It is very much a scarcity mindset that we can’t fathom this person that I am with enjoying that in any other way. And I think that it really is the opposite. What you’re describing is this abundance mindset, that love is abundant, that love is free flowing, that it’s this renewable resource. It’s not like, Well, I have 9oz of love to give, and I’ve given it all out to Brandon. I really appreciate what you’re saying about not wanting to hold back, because I feel that very strongly, and that doesn’t mean that I’m always okay with everything at all. Definitely. Again, mononormativity is entrenched in the way I was raised and all the things around me, even in many of the clients I work with. And I’m not trying to change things for them. I’m just trying to help them understand how that can hold them back. But I want you to have everything in life. I feel like life is short. I think about death a lot, not in a morbid way, but just in this reminder that I want to live every damn day the best way I can with all the joy, not even about hedonism, but about love, really. However you define that, I would never want you to be held back. And I think that that’s really reflected in what you’re describing in your relationship. I’m wondering if I can ask you you mentioned that you’re naturally curious, that you’re open. You mentioned, Finn, that you have FOMO. I’m curious if you think that some people it’s a personality, basically a nature thing versus a nurture thing, that some personalities are more equipped or better inclined to non monogamy versus monogamy. Yeah, I wish I had the answer. I think for me, what’s interesting is, as you were talking, I was thinking back to the first time I guess I technically ever and I don’t know that I’ve ever actually talked about this. The first time that I ever actually had a defined open relationship was in high school with the one girlfriend I had. And we kind of came up with this idea. And what happened is we went to a really small school, and turns out all the guys were totally okay with it, and none of the women in the school were okay with it. And so it didn’t really go that well for me, but that was the first time I ever did anything like that. And that was, like I was, like, a junior in high school, and it didn’t really mean anything at that point, but I think the first time I ever went there, and I think for me, again, like, the driving factor, you think about death a lot. Like, my mom passed away when I was 17, suddenly, and that, I think, kicked me on that route of life is short. I’ve seen how short it can be, and I don’t want to miss out. And so I don’t know if it’s like, well, you have a death in the family now. You’re not monogamous. I don’t think it’s quite that length for me. That’s where my brain kind of took. It was like, look at all these people. I want to meet all these people, and I don’t want to be limited in how I meet these people and what they can be in my life, whether it’s a friend or a partner or just somebody that I talked to once every ten years, but it’s super amazing, and then we see each other in ten years. So I know I didn’t answer your question. It was more about how I got here again. And I don’t know, I think maybe Namatomy is a thing that’s easier for some people to wrap their mind around. But I don’t know. I really don’t.

Yeah, and I wish I knew as well. But the books out there, Mating in Captivity and other books around humans not necessarily being wired from an agony. So I think there is a piece that probably is nature versus nurture, but to me it’s just find what works for you. Some people monogamy works, and that’s the way they want their relationship. Great. Do it, please. But some people monogamy doesn’t work. So then be creative, find what works for you. And that’s really I think what it’s about for me is whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s just find what works in your life. Yeah. You speak from a very, I think, non hierarchical, nonjudgmental perspective, where it’s not like non monogamy is more evolved. I do think there are obviously additional layers and additional barriers to access non monogamy in a world that does not normalize non monogamy. And that’s exactly what you’re doing, of course, with the normalizing non monogamy podcast. Before I let you go, I have some questions from viewers. I got our listeners. I got to choose one. I think I’m going to go with this one. So one of the most common questions I get, and I’m sure you get it all the time, is some version of I want non monogamous relationship, but my partner doesn’t. And are we at an impasse? Can we make this work? I’ll be honest. Oftentimes this question is followed by how do I convince her? Especially in story hetero relationships, I don’t get the same questions I find from the queer community for many reasons. All the layers of more open communication already having to defy socio norms, poor folks tend to have more satisfying sex lives, all of those things. Overall, that’s just what the data says. Not every queer couple, obviously. So what do you say? I want to just say I really appreciate that you share your experiences, not as though, here’s the answer, here’s how you do it. What do you say to folks where they’re in a relationship? Maybe they’ve been together 510, 15 years. One of them wants to open up and the other doesn’t. Yes, it’s something that we get emails probably close to weekly about, but I will answer it. But I had a thing that I wanted to comment on in the way that you read that question was like, how do I convince her? And I think that’s interesting because what we’re actually seeing a lot of is, hey, we’re opening our relationship. It was my wife’s idea. My wife has been wanting this for a really long time. We’ve been getting a lot of emails like that lately. And we’ve also seen through the years, as we’ve talked to people, that the women are often driving this. We. Have quite a few episodes where they’ve got an intimate monogamy because of an infidelity. And majority of those it was the women who were the ones who found another partner who cheated. And so I think there is a lot of like, how do I convince my wife? But I think there is a lot on the other side of that coin that doesn’t get talked about, that it’s like, I want this. How do I bring my husband along into this? Well, it’s not just heterosexual couples either. The way you’re talking is very because of the way the question is heterosexual, it can be applied to any relationship. And I think I would say, I guess to kind of try to answer the question. Part taken. Sorry, didn’t mean to wrap you up. But to get to the point, I think my biggest recommendation is to be patient. First of all, be patient with the conversation because it can take a long time. And now on the flip side, if you don’t feel true to yourself and say you have been patient, you’ve had all the conversations and your partner is just like, no, this is never going to happen, well, then you have to make a decision. Your relationship, our relationship, is an opt in situation. If you are not opting in anymore, you can choose to separate and go a different way. But I would just recommend being patient with the conversation because especially for people who have been together for a very long time, this can be a bomb that’s dropped and it can take people time to wrap their mind around it, to understand it, to educate themselves, to educate each other.

I think with the patience and conversations, it can show that you want to work together, that you want to do this together and get there in a way that works for both of you. Ideally, that may not work, but do you have more to add? If I can add one thing because it’s something we’ve seen quite a few times and it’s almost we tend not to give a lot of advice, but I’m going to give a little advice here. If you’re the person again, we’re going to go back to the heteronormative approach here. If you are a male who’s trying to open your relationship and you’re convincing your wife and you have now learned that you need to wait and it’s going to be a slow process. My advice to you would be as you’re working through this. First of all. Do a lot of research and work on yourself a lot because if at some point she does say. Yeah. Let’s do this. There is a good chance or there is a chance that you’re going to open your relationship. You jump on the dating apps, she’s got 10,000 people messaging her and you’ve got zero. And so this whole vision you had in your brain may not be what gets laid at your feet. Because she might be like, yes, I’m in, and I would like to do it like this. And it’s maybe going to go pretty well for her because that’s just kind of what happens when you get on dating apps. And so be prepared. Do the work on yourself. And not only that, but doing the work on yourself will make that journey of working there together. It will make that a smoother place as well, because you’re going to have better conversations. She’s going to feel safer again. And this is regardless of gender, but I’m just the divide on dating apps between men and women and the opportunities are pretty stark. And we have a lot of people who are like, I wanted to do this and we did it, and now we’re doing it, and it’s really not what I expected, and I don’t like it at all. And it’s like, well, you opened the door and I get to go through it. I’m glad that you brought that up because I do think that in heterosexual relationships, some of the guys that I’ve talked to are like, oh, that would be awesome. I would love that. And then I often think to myself, I’m like, everything’s cool until your partner is really into someone. How are you going to be okay with that? And then when you pose that question, oh, well, I don’t know. And it’s like, okay, then you might have to do some work. Yeah, absolutely. The undoing of gender norms, and I think everything you’re saying applies regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation.

But there is a specific dynamic that tends to show up in hetero relationships around masculinity and femininity and who expresses desire, who is the object of desire. And I see that a lot in the swinging dynamic as well, where the man will really want to go, and then she’s more hesitant, but then when they get there, she’s the one who ends up having a better time. And I’ve seen so many meltdowns, freak outs, blowouts, and all of those things. By the way, you can do everything to prepare for a first experience, whether it’s meet another couple, dating separately, going to a party, whatever it may be. You can do everything to prepare. You can communicate, you can consider your feelings, you can get in touch with what your needs are, what your boundaries are. And sometimes things will still go wrong. And I always want to remind people, it’s not the end of the world if things go wrong. It’s not the end of the world if you get in the fight. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a very intense jealous reaction that results in hurt feelings. Like, this is the human experience. This is the condition that we all live in. When you’re in a monogamous relationship, these things are going to happen too. I think what holds people back from even exploring the potential of non monogamy is this fear that it could be destabilizing, that it puts something they value at risk. Right. So I’m with Brandon. If we date another couple or if he dates someone else, or I date someone else, does it put what we already have at risk? But the reality is that this is not it’s not a sure thing. Right. This is not unconditional love. Adult relationships are not unconditional. There are always conditions, and as you put it, Emma, they’re opt in situations, and they’re evolving. You met in grade seven. I would hope that you are not near the same people you were in grade seven. I mean, we didn’t be quite that young, but I was 20, so what was I in grade nine from? No, we were kids. We were basically kids, and there’s been so much growth and evolving and change, and not just on that upward trajectory, all of the kind of left, right, up, down, round in circles movement that is life. And so I just love I love what you’re doing. I love the stories that you’re sharing on the podcast, but I also like Finn, the idea that you’re constantly wanting desiring to progress and learn about yourself. And Emma, the curiosity. For me, I’m more reflective now, and I hope that I’m a better person every time I take the time to think about something, whether it’s in the relationship or on my own. Well, and you brought up something just that is, like, so important, is the person I was the day that I met my partner, our long distance partners, I was 15 years different than the person I was the day I started dating. And so to be like, well, we didn’t go on a first date like that, or, we didn’t do that, or we don’t do that, and it’s like, we didn’t have any money to go eat. Exactly. We weren’t the same people, and we aren’t. And the other thing. Like you said. Marriage and monogamy. They provide the illusion of security. I think. Because you can say. Well. Yeah. We got this locked down. And it’s like. Until you don’t until feelings happen and you don’t control where they come from or when they come. And maybe you’re a little more closed off to them if your radar is not on looking for them. But they can still happen. And we see that happen all the time, and people have affairs all the time, and so you can say, well, we’re safe. We’re monogamous, and we’re safe. We’re married. It’s like, until you’re not. And so the idea that, really, what is the security here? It’s just being able for me, it’s being able to adapt and build the relationship with Emma or any partner that makes sense for us. We’re choosing it, and we’re kind of designing it. And that, to me, gives me security, knowing that this piece doesn’t work anymore. Maybe we don’t sleep well in the same bed. We can sleep in separate beds and still have a happy, healthy marriage, or we don’t like the same foods.

Okay, great. We can, whatever, set up two different meal plans and cook together and have a wonderful time. Even if we don’t sit down and eat the same food together, we don’t have to do anything. And I just want to add really quick one last thing, and your listeners probably already know this, but don’t be afraid to reach out for help, too. As you’re navigating this, don’t feel like you’re alone because there’s so many avenues to reach out. Find community, find a therapist, find whatever you’re needing to help you along this journey, because it is for yourself, but also for your partner and your relationship. Oh, you go ahead, Jess, please. And the last thing I wanted to say on that, because I think it’s super important, you are saying that people are afraid that it could destabilize or you could make mistakes. It’s been 15 years of us making mistakes and then figuring out how to work through those mistakes together. And we are doing that on a daily basis still today, every single day. And so I just say, like, it’s an ongoing learning process. Make all the mistakes, be kind to yourself behind your partners and keep making them, because that’s how we do grow. That’s how we do figure out what we want by trying something, being like, well, that tasted gross. I’m not going to eat one of those again. What’s this other thing? Can I eat this one? Yes, I can. And every mistake is not a catastrophe. And that applies whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or non monogamous relationship, whether you’re somewhere in between. This is such an important conversation. I appreciate the way you approach this topic and really recognize that it’s to each their own. Of course, I know thousands of couples are not no, but I’ve worked with thousands of couples who are in happy, monogamous relationships, and I’ve worked with almost an equal number, believe it or not, in ethical, non monogamous relationships. And that’s because I’m not working one on one. It’s because I’m working in groups and moving in and out, and I’m fortunate enough to talk to so many couples, sometimes hundreds and hundreds in a week. And there is no perfect formula, I think, that I think about Brandon and I, and I’m like, I feel good, man. I love our relationship. I love life. And if I were to bottle and sell what we’ve done to get here, it would be amazing for some people and catastrophic for others because our formula doesn’t apply across the board. And I want to leave folks reminding you that it’s really about investing in relationships and being open to conversations, because non monogamy, monogamy marriage, none of these are protective mechanisms to ensure that your relationship will be fulfilling and long lasting. It really is about what you put into them, regardless of the arrangement. And I’m just so glad that you are offering up these stories on the normalizing non monogamy podcast because I’m sure you wish you had this back in your 20s when you were first exploring. And I think that there’s just such huge value in hearing real people’s stories. So I want to thank you so much for sharing yours today. You’ve been really fabulous. Thank you. Yes, thank you so much for having us. And thank you for listening. Folks, this podcast is brought to you by Adam and Eve.com. Please make sure you check out Adam and Eve.com for all your lingerie, sex toys, vibrators, butt plugs, latex ware, all that jazz. Use code, doctor Jess, D-R-J-E-S-S for 50% off almost any item plus free shipping and they’re throwing in a bunch of free goodies. Adam and Eve.com, check them out. Really appreciate you choosing to spend your time with us today. Wherever you’re at, having great one. You’re listening to the sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life. Improve your life.