The times, they are a'changing, as Bob Dylan once sang. At no time in the history of western culture have people demonstrated a greater desire to live their lives and shape their relationships on their own terms. This does not mean, however, that tradition is no longer valued. Many of us still prefer to incorporate aspects of tradition into our lives and our relationships. Yet so many of us also highly value personal autonomy, i.e. the right to self-determination. As we consider our options and the pros and cons of each, common questions include:
Is monogamy for us? If so, why? What are the benefits, and how will we handle the challenges?
Would we prefer to incorporate others into our intimate lives? If so, what would that look like? Do we want emotional and sexual monogamy that permits us to engage in BDSM activities with others? If so, what would *that* look like?
Do we want emotional monogamy but sexual nonmonogamy/swinging? If so, what sexual practices and potential partners are OK? What and who are not? Do we want both emotional *and* sexual nonmonogamy, i.e. polyamory? If so, how do we decide who is an appropriate addition to the family and who isn't?
Do we (or do we not) value legal marriage? If we do, how do we want our marriage to be structured and how will it operate, especially since we know that marriage no longer has to equal exclusivity? Are we willing to vow to be together 'til death do us part? If not, what *are* we willing to commit to within the bounds of matrimony?
How do religion and spirituality influence our decisions and preferences with regard to marriage, if at all? What about non-legally binding commitment ceremonies and handfastings? What is their value, and why might we choose them over legal marriage?
These are just some of the many options available to us when we seriously and carefully reflect on what we want our relationships to look like and how they will operate. Come join the discussion as we explore together the many, many ways in which we can define our relationships and live our dreams.
The Shadow Side of Eros: Sex Addiction
The numbers of people seeking counseling for problems with sexual compulsion/addiction are steadily increasing in both sex-positive culture and the mainstream.What is sex addiction?Does it really exist?What does it look like and what are the challenges for sufferers and their partners, especially those who live within sex-positive culture?
How do we protect our sex-positive communities from harmful accusations of our all being "sex addicts" by those who oppose sexual freedom?How do we care for and demonstrate respect for the dignity of those within our midst who suffer in shame and silence as a result of rampant sex-positive community denial about the mere existence of sex addiction? Come hear apolyamorous couple dealing with this issue tell their story of challenge, hope and triumph via an earth centered spiritual path.If you and/or your partner(s) have challenges around controlling out-of-control sexual behavior, you are not alone - far from it.Join the discussion on this highly controversial and misunderstood topic as we bring it out into the light so as to foster understanding and healing.
Safe Enough and Free Enough: Communication and Boundaries in Alternative Relationshipland
The polyamory mantra is "Communicate, communicate, communicate!" But in reality, this is an important concept for all kinds of loving, sexy relationships. Effectively communicating with others in a variety of loving situations can make a huge difference in outcome.
Sometimes it is necessary to communicate with others about our boundaries and negotiate them so that all concerned feel both safe enough and free enough to be happy in their chosen form of alternative relationship. Yet it isn't always clear what we should say and do so that everyone feels good about it, ourselves included.
This workshop will help you navigate the sometimes murky waters of communication and boundary setting and will shine a positive light on key communications skills necessary to resolve conflict and establish effective boundaries.
Emotional Edge Play - Polyamory for BDSM/Leather/Fetish Folk
Polyamory is now widely practiced in the BDSM/Leather/Fetish communities. While they are certainly courageous people who like to stretch their own emotional boundaries via their kink, many say that they were unprepared for the amount of drama that can arise when introducing polyamory into the mix.In a very real sense polyamory is a form of emotional edge play by which we seek to stretch our emotional boundaries around partnership, sex, love and romance.
How does being into BDSM/Leather/Fetish prepare us for establishing happy polyamorous lives?
How does the practice of polyamory in kinky relationships differ from vanilla polyamory?
What are the common pitfalls of living a kinky poly life?
What are polyamory's universal truths, and how are they best applied in a kinky polycontext?
All of these ideas and questions will be explored with the goal of discovering what it takes to establish and maintain happy and healthy kinky polyamorous relationships, families and networks.
The question "Poly what????" is often the initial reaction by people who have never heard the word polyamory before, much less discovered its meaning. Yet polyamory seems like THE next big thing these days. Find out what all the fuss is about - what polyamory is, how it works, and why anyone would want to do it. After a brief and basic polyamory 101 presentation, a facilitated group discussion will follow. Ask any question you like and satisfy your curiousity about this 21st century phenominon.
The Fine Art of Compersion
Compersion? What's that you ask? Compersion is a term used to describe the positive emotional state of feeling happy for the happiness your partner feels by being in relationship with someone in addition to you. Some people are skeptical about whether such a state of mind is even possible, but it is indeed achievable and a source of joy for all concerned when you learn to overcome more negative emotions and find security in your relationships no matter who else your partner may be seeing. Come share your story and hear the stories of others as you learn more about this aspect of polyamorous relating and how you and your partner(s) can incorporate compersion into your relationships and lives.
Making Peace with Jealousy in Polyamorous Relationships
Sound familiar? Just when we think we've got our act together, our relationships are going well and we're maybe even feeling confident, someone we love is attracted to someone new, and all of a sudden the bottom falls out. Or we meet someone new and want to explore our attraction to them, and contrary to what we anticipate, a poly partner starts freaking out. Why is this happening? Why do our emotions sometimes run so contrary to our will? What's a fair and reasonable poly person to do?
We need not be jealousy's victims! Come learn to accurately analyze and identify jealousy's complex underlying emotions. Devise an effective plan that works for you that will take away their seemingly overwhelming emotional power. With a bit of patience, some love and support, and the right poly relationship skills, we all have the power to make peace with jealousy.
Polyamory First Aid Clinic
Do you wish your polyamorous relationships were healthier? Not sure what the right medicine is to cure all that high drama? This workshop may be just what the doctor ordered! Learn how to finally end the misery and find the abundance of love and sex and companionship you envisioned when you started down the poly road.
Whatever your challenge, this facilitated discussion offers you the chance to talk about it in a safe space, get feedback from others who have been down that road and found workable solutions, and offer your own insights to others who can benefit from your experiences.
Lemons and Lemonade: The Pain and Pleasure of Poly/Mono Relationships
Probably the greatest challenge in finding what works to resolve conflict in polyamorous relationships is working out the challenge that arises when one partner is polyamorous and the other is monogamous.How do people manage?Is it even possible to find mutual happiness under such circumstances? This workshop will explore the ways in which poly/mono relationships wither for some and thrive for others.Every effort will be made to present this workshop and conduct discussion sensitively to the experiences of the monogamous partners as well as the polyamorous partners.Poly/mono couples and groups who have a story to tell are especially welcome.A useful handout and ample time for discussion will be included.
Avoid the Pitfalls and Reap the Rewards of Polyamorous Relationships
Most people raised in Western culture under lifelong exposure to monogamous societal norms come to understand with little effort what emotions and reactions are commonly considered reasonable and likely to arise when the subject is relationship exclusivity. Those seeking to establish and maintain healthy, happy polyamorous relationships without the benefit of similar conditioning sometimes fail to recognize how ill prepared they are to achieve their goal, sometimes sending themselves on an emotional rollercoaster of drama, pain and confusion as a result.
This fast-paced workshop teaches ways to avoid the common pitfalls that attempting to create successful polyamorous relationships 'on the fly' can present. Common issues to be considered include The Kid In The Candy Store Syndrome; Jumping The Gun; Dealing Successfully With Fear, Guilt, And Jealousy; and Hunting Ducks Where The Ducks Are—and Where They Aren't.
The Ethics of Polyamory
Polyamory can be confusing, especially for newcomers. We've all been culturally influenced to believe that while in a committed relationship any kind of non-monogamous behaviors are de facto unethical. Yet more and more people are questioning monogamy and considering polyamory. How is a person of good ethics to reconcile this conundrum?
Then there are the behaviors polyamorous people engage in that may or may not be ethical. In order to find happiness and peace in our poly relationships, it is clear that polyamory makes some pretty clear demands on us in terms of how we treat not only our poly partners, but their partners as well.
This is a workshop presentation on the kinds of ethical behaviors and attitudes necessary to be successful at sustaining polyamorous relationships, whether they are only meant to last a day, a month, a year or a lifetime. The larger societal implications of the ethics of polyamory as a general concept will also be examined. There will also be time for Q&A and comments from participants.
Polyamorous Relationships Facilitated Discussion
Many wish they could sit down, talk with and get feedback from others who also know what it's like to be in a polyamorous relationship. Here's their chance. This is an unstructured facilitated group discussion on the poly relationships topics of the group's choosing. Participation in the discussion is encouraged but not required, and participants are free to ask for support and advice, or just to listen to the thoughtful, articulate, wise words of others who have "been there done that". Participants will gain insight they can take home with them and apply to their own poly relationships so as to help them thrive.Connect with others who by their own experience understand the your relationship hopes, dreams and challenges.
Polyamory as a Spiritual Path
Many polyamorists are spiritual people. Just ask for a show of hands at any polyamory conference, and fully two thirds of the crowd will say they identify either as Unitarian Universalist and/or Pagan, with the rest coming anywhere from Judaism to Christianity to athiesm. How does the practice of polyamory manifest for you as a spiritual matter? What do you seek that relates to spirituality in a polyamorous partnership? How important is it to you? These are but a few of the questions we will explore in this facilitated group discussion.
Polyamory in Media’s Spotlight
Over the last few years much has happened on the public stage that has the power to affect poly lives in ways both good and bad. More than 200 media events that focus on polyamory or are polyamory-related have been documented. Their sources range from prime-time TV plot lines to articles in campus newspapers.
The good news:Polyamory is no longer socially obscure.
The bad news:Visibility attracts attention from people who actively oppose the way we live our lives.
Increasingly the media is the grass roots playing field that offers the most effective means of influencing public opinion – and hopefully public policy – in polyamory's favor. There is no doubt that media interest in polyamory is at an all time high with no real end in sight.Whereas for many years sightings of poly-specific media events were very few and far between and consisted mostly of hostile daytime talk show experiences, today local, regional and national broadcast, print, and internet-based media are driving a much more positive trend, with polyamorists and polyamory movement leaders often in media's spotlight. This tends to reflect well on the concept of polyamory, but troublesome media events still happen, events about which we must remain aware and address as is appropriate.
Come hear more and ask questions about this exciting and challenging trend.
The Polytics of Polyamory
(Based on Remarks at Poly Pride Celebration in New York City, October, 2007)
The image of polyamory today is being driven by the use of the media by both its advocates and its opponents.The popular media sees what is going on in the culture war and reports it.Polyamory’s opponents make alarmist, erroneous public statements in an attempt to gain support for their pro-traditional marriage agenda. All of this affects the lives of polyamorists.We see polyamory being treated respectfully in some instances, derisively in others, and as disingenuously irrelevant by some media savvy individuals for whom doing so suits an agenda.Some references are clearly exploitative, others fairly positive, while others are decidedly against polyamorists and polyamory as a social construct.
In this program you’ll hear about the people who oppose polyamory, people like Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institute, Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Barbara Defoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, spokespeople for the Same-Sex Marriage Movement, and leaders of quasi-faith based non-profit pro-family groups. You’ll also hear about people and organizations who support polyamory, i.e. family law academics, the ACLU, libertarian leaders, polyamory community leaders and activists, and other public figures.You’ll learn about the role the courts and legislative bodies play.Lastly, I’ll talk about what all this means to the future of polyamory.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy nor fear. It is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve.