#89 Practical Rules to Make Relationships Work with Franklin Veaux & Eve Rickert
If they work for polyamory and multiple relationships, then they also work for single, monogamous relationships very well also, and can increase the equality of our relationships. Today, we'll also get into jealously quite a bit because it's a big topic when it comes to polyamory, and how to move relationships into polyamory from various other situations; other starting places and much, much more.
Today's guests are Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. They have many years of experience themselves and have multiple partners, up to five or so at any one time. They wrote a book called More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory. It was just published at the end of 2014 and it made a big hit in the polyamory community for doing what is says: being the most hands-on practical guide that has been written yet on the subject.
We love practical stuff on Dating Skills Review, anything that's easy to implement, and I asked them onto the show to talk about all of this.
Specifically, in this episode you'll learn about:
- Franklin and Eve's background and polyamory lifestyle (02:28)
- Maintaining long distance relationships in polyamory (05:29)
- Managing communication between multiple partners in polyamorous relationships (08:00)
- How Franklin and Eve started writing about polyamory and their book: More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory (see show notes below) (10:17)
- Franklin and Eve's definition of a healthy relationship (14:53)
- Recognizing if you are in a healthy relationship: a relationship bill of rights to set respectful boundaries (17:15)
- Unhealthy boundaries in relationships regarding invasion of privacy and broken trust (22:48)
- In terms of healthy relationships, the differences between monogamy and polyamory (24:20)
- The benefits of exploring polyamory, the necessary relationship skills, and determining if it is for you (25:28)
- Is polyamory about intimate long-term relationships or more of a casual thing? (29:50)
- Cheating in relationships and if it is beneficial to become polyamorous (30:51)
- A matter of opinion: most women do not like going to swinging clubs. They're mostly doing it for their partners (35:12)
- The importance of security and insecurities in relationships: developing self-esteem and personal security (37:00)
- Useful tools and approaches for entering into a relationship (38:59)
- Managing jealously in a relationship, within yourself as well as in your partner (41:58)
- The frameworks of polyamory and the benefits of adding structure to relationships (47:35)
- Using "vetos" in relationship communication and the pitfalls (52:06)
- Navigating the boundaries of a relationship and how it's going to affect you (57:33)
- Different scenarios for initiating a polyamorous relationship (58:46)
- The best way to connect with Franklin and Eve to learn more about their work (1:11:38)
- Recommendations for high quality advice in polyamory (1:12:28)
- Top three recommendations for men who want to improve their relationships in life as fast as possible (1:12:28)
Items Mentioned in this Episode include:
- More Than Two: A practical guide to polyamory: Franklin and Eve's book for people discovering and involved in polyamory relationships. It explores the intricate world of living polyamorously, covering its nuances, relationship options, myths, and expectations.
- More Than Two: Franklin's website about polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.
- More Than Two Blog: For the latest posts on polyamory, relationships, communication, and other topics.
- More Than Two facebook page: For information on the book and other topics.
- Live Journal: Franklin's journal site.
- Franklin on Google+: For posts, photos, and YouTube videos.
- Obscene Thoughts: A Pornographer's Perspective on Sex, Love, and Dating (Dave Pounder): Angel mentioned ex-porn star Dave Pounder and his opinion that most women do not like going to swinging clubs. They're mostly doing it for their partners.
- The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown): This book is about letting go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Eve noted this book as a resource for cultivating a personal sense of worthiness and security.
- Pepperminty: Recommend by Eve and Franklin for very informative poly articles for men.
- Polyamory Weekly: Eve recommended this blog and podcast site for information and issues regarding responsible non-monogamy, communication, sex, kink, dating, family and time management, and other perspectives.
- Dating Skills Podcast #85 with Minx: How to Avoid Relationship Drama (in a Polyamorous or Monogamous Relationship). Angel also recommended listeners to check out this recent and relevant Dating Skills Podcast.
Books, Courses and Training from Franklin Veaux
Full Text Transcript of the Interview
[Angel Donovan]: Franklin and Eve, thank you so much joining us today.
[Franklin Veaux]: Hey.
[Eve Rickert]: Hey, glad to be here.
[Angel Donovan]: So, give us a bit of a back story behind what you guys do and who you are. How old are you? Where do you live and what kind of a relationship lifestyle do you have?
[Eve Rickert]: Well so, I'm Eve Rickert and I live in Vancouver, Canada. I'm 39 and I'm polyamorous which means that I am open to having multiple romantic partners. I currently live with my husband here in Vancouver. I'm involved with Franklin in a long-distance relationship although, he spends a lot of time up here and there's another woman down in Washington state who I've been seeing for about three years and currently see a few times a year.
[Franklin Veaux]: You've been seeing her for almost four years now, haven't you?
[Eve Rickert]: Mmmm, three years.
[Franklin Veaux]: Wow.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, March 24th.
[Franklin Veaux]: Cool.
[Angel Donovan]: Great and how long have you been polyamorous? Has this been a life-long thing or is it something that...
[Eve Rickert]: Looking back, I date my first polyamorous experience to high school but of course, I didn't have a name for it at the time or a framework that we could fit it into. So, it ended up sort of spiraling outward into teenage drama but, I had monogamous relationships throughout my twenties.
Then, in about 2004, I'd been with the man who would become my husband for about four years and we decided then to open our relationship and started exploring different ways of doing that. I finally started another relationship in 2008 and that was when we sort of finally actually became practicing polyamorous people and then, he started a new relation...two new relationships actually about a year after that in 2009. So, I have been ideologically polyamorous for about 11 years and functionally polyamorous for about seven years.
[Angel Donovan]: Great, great thank you and Franklin Veaux.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, I'm Franklin Veaux. I'm 48...49. I'm 49 now.
[Eve Rickert]: Mm-hmm.
[Franklin Veaux]: I have no idea how old I am and I'm also polyamorous. I have been polyamorous for my entire life. I've actually never been in a monogamous relationship in my life.
[Angel Donovan]: So, that's kind of interesting. When was your first relationship?
[Franklin Veaux]: So, I took two dates to my high school senior prom when I was in high school.
[Angel Donovan]: Seriously? Everyone's like, "That's cool." Like who's done that? That's like a pretty standout thing to do.
[Franklin Veaux]: It raised a few eyebrows and this...
[Angel Donovan]: It probably got you into trouble.
[Franklin Veaux]: Actually surprisingly, it didn't but, it did definitely raise some eyebrows and this was in 1984. So, there was no language about it. You know, nobody was doing this. There was no poly-community or anything. So, people really didn't know quite how to deal with that.
Then when I was 19, I met the person who I ended up being married to for 18 years. She identified as monogamous even though she also had other lovers but, she and I were together for 18 years and I had other partners in that time. There was some...one other partner that I had 10 of those 18 years.
We divorced about 10 years ago and right now, I am in Portland, Oregon and I have five partners including Eve here. I live with one of my partners and my other relationships unfortunately, due to a long complicated chain of events, are all long-distance.
[Angel Donovan]: Is this typical polyamory because, both of you are doing long-distance things?
[Eve Rickert]: You do tend to see long-distance relationships in polyamory I think a lot more often than in monogamous relationship and I think there's two reasons for that. One is that, because relationships can be a lot more flexible in what they look like and they don't all have to be on what we call the relationship escalators.
So, the relationship escalators, this idea that there's sort of one particular trajectory that all relationships follow. You meet, you start dating, you have sex, you fall in love, you move in together, get married, have kids and die, basically. So in monogamy, it tends to be assumed that when you're dating, you're looking for someone to be on the escalator with whereas in polyamory, you see a lot of...
You do see escalator relationships in polyamory but, you also see a lot of off-escalator relationships with people sort of design their own way of doing things which means that long-distance can become a lot more feasible because, you're not necessarily looking for someone to move in with or to have kids with. They're not the only person you're having sex with. So, you're not only have sex twice a year when you see them and I think the other reason for it is that it's harder to find compatible partners because, if you're looking only for polyamorous people, you're dating pool is dramatically restricted.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it's pretty interesting. My early days of dating multiple people, I was also...I had a lot of long-distance relationships from the place I'd lived and the relationships remained and you move on and you invest in your life where you are and new relationships spring up and then, you see the other ones as kind of like holiday relationships, I guess, mostly. Is that part of it also?
[Franklin Veaux]: It can be. That's certainly happened with me. I was living in Florida for many years and at the time, I was living with two of my partners and I was like right down the road from a third partner.
Then, I was a minority partner in an electronics firm and the company moved its headquarters to Atlanta. So, I moved to Atlanta with the company and all of sudden now all of my relationships are long-distance. I didn't want to end those relationships just because I was leaving town and in fact, I'm still partnered with two of those three people.
But then, the company ended up running into financial trouble and it turns out that a person who is a brilliant PhD from MIT who is a great inventor is not necessarily good to run a company so...
[Angel Donovan]: That happens...
[Franklin Veaux]: Yes.
[Angel Donovan]: ...sometimes...
[Franklin Veaux]: Yes, it does.
[Angel Donovan]: ...unfortunately..
[Franklin Veaux]: So, the company drove into the ground and I had actually started a long-distance relationship while I was in Atlanta with a person who was in Portland. So, I ended up moving up to Portland after that company [inaudible].
[Angel Donovan]: Excellent, excellent, one of the questions I think people at home might have is how often do you communicate with these long-distance partners. Are these kind of an intense communication because, five partners is quite a few to juggle with work and everything else that's going on in life. So, can you just give people an idea of is there a range of different relationships you have and how intense is the communication or non-intense as it may be?
[Franklin Veaux]: There's a huge range even in our long-distance but, we see each other a lot. In fact, this month, I'm up here in Vancouver more than I'm down in Portland and we also work together and we own a couple of companies together. So, as you can imagine, we are constantly in communication with each other.
We have to be but, some of my other partners...like, I have a partner in the UK. She usually comes out to the US or I'll go out to the UK a couple of times a year and we'll spend some time together but, in the spaces in between, we will talk to each other every week, every other week but, we're not constantly in touch with each other. She has other partners of course, out there as well so, she is not relying on me and I'm not relying on her for all of our sexual outlet or our relationship means or whatever.
[Angel Donovan]: Is that from calls, Skype calls or just emails?
[Franklin Veaux]: Emails, Skype calls, texting...texting is awesome. If you have long-distance relationships, especially if you have more than one, get an unlimited texting plan.
[Angel Donovan]: Or is it WhatsApp?
[Franklin Veaux]: I've never used WhatsApp actually. I hear it's a cool thing but, I've just never used it. I'm on so many social media things that, you know, I don't have time for one more.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, like he and I use GChat all the time because, I have unlimited texting to the US but, I don't think you have unlimited to Canada.
[Franklin Veaux]: I don't.
So, we just do everything on GChat. I live with my husband so, of course, I see him almost every day except when he's over at his girlfriend's place. But honestly, because my husband and I both work outside the home and, as Franklin said, Franklin and I own two businesses together, probably I communicate with Franklin more because, from the time I wake up to, to the time we go to bed at night, we're in constant text communication whether it's personal stuff or mostly business stuff. So...
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm. Business is our love-language.
[Eve Rickert]: Well, yeah work is one of our love-languages.
[Angel Donovan]: So, you guys have written a book which is doing pretty well...more than two and it's kind of heralded as a very practical look at polyamory and we love practical things here at Dating Skills Podcast. That's kind of what we always try to get to. So, that's why I have you guys on. So, I would just be interested, what got you writing books about this and where did this come from?
[Eve Rickert]: I wanted to just speak to the practical side of things really quickly because, I know a lot of your readers are probably not or your listeners are probably not polyamorous and we have been told by many people and including a lot of our Amazon reviews that the book is just really great general relationship advice for any style of relationships.
We've had monogamous people tell us that it's helpful. We've had people say it's helped them in their business relationships, it's helped them in their relationships with their kids. So, we almost shot ourselves in the foot by naming it A Book Polyamory when it turns out that people are really appreciating across the board for relationship advice.
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely, that's actually another reason I wanted you guys on.
[Eve Rickert]: Do you want to talk about the history of how the book got done?
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah. So, what happened was, when I started doing polyamory, I started doing this kind of in the 80s. There was no poly-community. There was no sort of relationship norms. There were no role models. There was no language. So, I was making it up as I went along, right? And, I didn't think there was anybody else out there like me.
So, I got a lot of things wrongs and I made a lot of mistakes and I screwed up a lot of things and some of the mistakes that I made really ended up hurting people who were close to me. So, in the mid-90s, I started writing a website and I started putting a lot of the stuff that I had learned about polyamory up on the website.
I wasn't really writing for anybody else. I was writing for the younger version of me, the me ten years ago that was really screwing things up and the website just exploded. It was one of the first sites on the internet about polyamory and it became hugely popular which was not anything that I really had ever expected.
And in the early 2000s, people started emailing me and saying, "So, when are you going to write a book? When are you going to write a book?" I was like, "Okay cool, I can write a book. I could totally do that," right? So, I bought a book on how to write a non-fiction book and it said you know, "You have to approach publishers and they want to be involved in the writing. So, you need to do a sample chapter and send it out."
I sent out all of these query letters and I did everything you're supposed to do and everybody said, "No! We are not interested in a book about how to do polyamory. If you want to do a memoir, we would love to publish that but, we're not interested in a book about polyamory." So, I was like, "Alright well, that sucks." So, I sort of shelved the project for several years actually and then, I started dating you.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and I also, at that point...we met in 2012 so, I had been poly for about 4 years and for about a year before that, I had started keeping my own blog with the view to eventually writing a book of my own and what's happening was that I was seeing...there were certain ideas about polyamory and certain things that I felted and needed to be said that weren't being said in the books that were available. I mean, Franklin was saying some of them on his site and his blog but, at that time, I had no met Franklin in person.
So, I had this sort of baby idea of writing a book and then, Franklin and I started dating in mid-2012 and discovered that we had a lot of really compatible ideas and we were both writing about this stuff and we worked together on it, an essay that he was invited to write for an anthology and discovered that we worked together really well. So, one thing lead to another and we decided that we should combine these ideas we have of writing a book and do it together. So, we did a crowd funding campaign and...
[Angel Donovan]: Oh cool, where was that? Was that Kick Starter or somewhere else?
[Eve Rickert]: On Indiegogo.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, is that because they're more open-minded?
[Franklin Veaux]: Kick Starter would not take us.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, I was going to say that, yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: They saw it as self-help and they don't permit self-help books.
[Angel Donovan]: Oh, okay.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah so, we did an Indiegogo and that got us enough money to actually start our own publishing company which is one of the companies we own now.
[Angel Donovan]: Just out of interest, what was your campaign and how much did it...just as an evaluation of how interested people are in this and how...?
[Eve Rickert]: We got about 450 backers and we raised about $24,000.
[Angel Donovan]: Nice, congratulations.
[Eve Rickert]: Plus, we raised another $6000 independently of that with private sponsors, so, about $30,000 total.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and that has been really great because, that's given us a fan-base that has helped us promote the book as well. So, we were hold-up in a cabin for 6 weeks and shut the world out and wrote a book.
[Angel Donovan]: That's the best way to do it.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, ironically, Franklin has now written the book that the big publishers originally wanted him to write. He's written his memoir...
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: ...and it's called The Game Changer and it comes out in September and it's just gone to the designer and it's really good.
[Angel Donovan]: Cool, maybe we can have you guys back on to talk about that later?
[Franklin Veaux]: [Inaudible]
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, so the memoir, I guess is about your polyamory activities, that's the main feature of it? Cool, alright excellent. Thanks for the back. It's always interesting to hear how you got into your whole topic and everything.
Eve basically, I wanted to start off with the healthy relationship topic just as a more general level. Like, what is a healthy relationship for you guys? How do you look at that?
[Franklin Veaux]: Wow.
[Eve Rickert]: Well, actually define that in our book because, we found something we felt like we see a lot. People talk a lot of health and unhealthy relationships but, they never define that. I kind of want to look at the book and see how we define it.
[Angel Donovan]: You're like, "Damn, I haven't got my definition handy."
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, we wanted to...when we were struggling with this and it took us quite a while to sort of circle around this idea and figure out exactly what we're getting to and we found that (actually with a lot of the things in the book) is that it really took some time to work out precisely what we wanted say because, everybody thinks they know what a healthy looks like, right?
But, you know, how do you actually define it but, the things that we actually finally ended up drilling down are relationships where people are empowered, people's autonomy is respected, the people are not trying to control each other. What else did we put in there?
[Eve Rickert]: I think we assume that people are in their relationships because, they value love and the intimacy and connection and they want their partners to be happy, which is actually not true of our relationships.
[Franklin Veaux]: There are unhealthy relationships out there definitely.
[Eve Rickert]: We believe that a healthy relationship is one where nobody has to sacrifice their core selves. I mean certainly, you make sacrifices to be in relationships but, there are certain sort of lines within yourself that define key areas of who you are what you are able to give and what you are not able to give and you shouldn't have to push beyond those. You shouldn't have to feel like you're giving up your-self, two words. Your core self and your integrity in order to be in a relationship.
[Angel Donovan]: Would it be safe to say, you mean like your identity doesn't really change, the core of your identity or ...?
[Eve Rickert]: Your relationships change you so, that's not exactly what it is but, that you shouldn't have to say violate your own consent to be in a relationship. You shouldn't have to...can you?
[Franklin Veaux]: You shouldn't...so, you shouldn't have to sacrifice your own integrity to be in a relationship. You shouldn't have to give up your own autonomy to be in a relationship. You shouldn't have to violate your own ethical principles or sacrifice your own sense what's right and what's wrong just to be with your partner. If you've got to do those things, like if you feel like you've got to let go of your integrity or let go of your own values to be with somebody, probably not the right relationship for you.
[Angel Donovan]: Could you give us some practical... for people at home who are in relationships, how can they tell if they're in a healthy relationship from some examples of some of the things we've been talking about, just some basic stuff like autonomy. How could I tell if I don't have a basic level of autonomy that I should have in a healthy relationship?
[Eve Rickert]: So, we actually wrote a relationship bill of rights that's published in the book and it's also on our website now. I think that the relationship bill of rights is a really good place to start because, if any one of those rights is being routinely violated, you're probably not in a healthy relationship.
For example, if you feel like there are certain emotions that are unacceptable for you to feel and you have to squelch those or not express those. Now certainly, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to express emotions and just because you're feeling an emotion doesn't mean that somebody else is responsible for fixing it for you.
At the same time, simply feeling the emotion should never be like a relationship transgression, right? You should be able to feel and express your emotions. You should feel like you have a choice to be in the relationship. You should not feel like you can't leave the relationship or like there will be consequences for leaving the relationship.
[Angel Donovan]: So, you shouldn't feel dependent in any way?
[Eve Rickert]: Well, you can be dependent but, there are certain people who are say, financially dependent on their partners but, if you are...say you're financially dependent on your partner and you know that your partner will punish you financially for trying to leave the relationship. If your partner says, "Well, you know, if you don't stay with me, you'll be penniless and on the street and I'll make sure you never work in this town again," or whatever, that is not a healthy relationship, but certainly, there are relationships where one person is financially dependent or they go through cycles of dependency but are not necessarily unhealthy.
If you feel like you have no privacy. If you're expected to share everything and not be able to keep anything that is just yours. We've talked about finding a healthy balance between disclosure especially, in polyamory and violating someone else's privacy or violating your own privacy.
For example, "I want to know when you have sex with a new partner because, that represents a milestone in the development of your relationship", that's probably healthy disclosure but, "I want to know what positions you used and how many times you came and what her face looks like when she has an orgasm", that's probably a privacy violation unless everyone involved including the other partner is really into that level of sharing, right?
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely, that's an interesting thing to bring up because, some people when they're talking about intimacy, they'll think of like, "The more I can share, the better", but you've set some boundaries there where you're saying, "Oh, like but if you push it a bit too far," it's not necessarily healthy. It can become unhealthy.
[Eve Rickert]: Well, if you push it farther than someone else is comfortable with so, there's some people...so the example that I just gave, maybe Franklin wants to know that of me with my partners and I'm actually into sharing that, like maybe I get off on sharing that level of detail. So, that's okay between us but, I also have to make sure that my partner, who I'm sharing that level of detail about, is on board with that.
They need to be able to set limits around like, I'm going to say, "Well look, I have to disclose if we have sex because, that's important for my other partners to know that. I'm prepared to keep these other details private. Now, my partner would like to hear about them and I am kind of into sharing them but, I won't do it if you're not okay with that." My other partner needs to be able to set that kind of boundary.
If they don't and I start coercing them in some way, like say I'm, "Well but, I don't have any secrets with Franklin. Why are you wanting me to keep these secrets?" or, "Well, aren’t' you comfortable with this level of intimacy and maybe you're not really poly." If I start doing that then, I have become...I'm blackmailing my partner and I'm violating his or her privacy in a way that's not appropriate.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: So, it's not that there are specific boundaries that everybody needs to have but, everybody needs to feel like they can set their own boundaries and that it's okay to do that and they're going to be pressured or coerced not to do that.
[Franklin Veaux]: There's one too that you see, both in poly relationships and monogamous relationships that can really be a big problem for this kind of autonomy and that is, you are not permitted to choose your own friends. Like, "I'm a guy and you're a woman and I feel threatened if you're friends with other guys. You're not allowed to be friends with other guys. You're not allowed to talk to anybody who is a friend of mine before we met." These are things that people do commonly in relationships.
[Eve Rickert]: "You're not allowed to talk to your exes."
[Franklin Veaux]: "You're not allowed to talk to your exes." Yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: That's a big one.
[Angel Donovan]: That's extremely common.
[Franklin Veaux]: It is very common and you start telling other people who they are and are not allowed to be friends, that's a serious red flag that you're not respecting their autonomy. In fact, if you talk to domestic abuse counselors or domestic violence counselors, they will say that one of the first steps down the road to abuse inevitably is limiting the abuse victim's access to other people, access to other support, controlling who they can talk to, and controlling who they can be friends with.
[Eve Rickert]: I'm looking at the relationship bill of rights here and there's other sort of element of a healthy relationship that I want to bring up and that is that you can express a different point of view without being punished for that and that you can say no without that creating a crisis. So, you need to feel with your partner like you're able to express disagreements and talk through that in a healthy way without somebody feeling like they need to squelch their disagreement or feeling like they are going to be punished for disagreeing.
[Angel Donovan]: Great.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Angel Donovan]: So, have we talked about the most tricky ones and the most common ones or it comes to the aspects of relationships which tend not to be healthy?
[Franklin Veaux]: Most of them, there's one other one that I see and unfortunately, this can be prominent polyamorous relationships but, I see it in monogamous relationships also and that is the extreme end of the privacy thing where somebody says, "I want to see all of your text messages. I want access to your phone. I want access to your emails I want you to give me your Facebook password. This is surprisingly common and it's really messed up.
[Angel Donovan]: It is very common. Yeah, I've been on the receiving end of that. I guess most people have.
[Eve Rickert]: We actually discovered a new term recently called "technological abuse", which is exactly that. It's the demanding passwords, demanding full access to text messages and that's a serious privacy invasion and also a pretty profound indicator of lack of trust. So, there's also something else going on there.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah and people who need in order to trust your partner, if you feel like you can't trust your partner without checking on them all the time, you don't trust your partner.
[Eve Rickert]: Mmmm.
[Franklin Veaux]: And if you don't trust your partner, stick a fork in it Man, the relationship's done.
[Angel Donovan]: Exactly, someone just needs to come out and say exactly that. If you have to check someone's phone then, you might as well move on because, you've already hit the bad part. The trust has been broken at that point and unless you address it, I think it's really difficult to rebuild trust once you've broken it especially, if they find out you're now checking the messages and that's broken trust from both sides becomes a real mess which is hard to fix.
[Eve Rickert]: And you're violating other people's consent too when you do that.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, there's other random people, you're reading their messages as well. So, in terms of healthy relationships, do you think there's a lot of differences between monogamous and polyamory? Where would you say that the differences are?
[Eve Rickert]: I would say that the cornerstones of healthy relationships are the same but, there are special places in polyamory where it's a lot easier to get tripped up than in monogamy. There are special traps and pitfalls.
[Franklin Veaux]: But for the most part yeah, we're talking about relationships, right and a polyamorous relationship is still a relationship and a lot of the same fundamental rules apply. You respect your partner, you trust your partner, you both want to be there in the relationship, nobody's being coerced, nobody's being forced, ideally, nobody's being abused but, won't that be a nice world to live in?
[Angel Donovan]: Yes so, we've had a fair number of people talking about polyamory on this show and some of the monogamous listeners may feel like, "Oh, it's getting too much," but this is one of the reasons we keep having people talking about polyamory because, basically the way I look at it, the people who are practicing polyamory have much better relationship skills because, they have to because, they're working in a more extreme environment, just to move the point forward like that.
Every time we have someone talking about this, we're learning kind of high-ended, advances skills in relationships because, it's taking it to another level of complexity, simply like that. What do you think that you can learn from practicing polyamory? Is this something you would suggest to people, like maybe they do it one stage of their life?
I just did another interview today, we were talking about college life and how a lot of people are actually doing polyamory but, they're not calling it polyamory. They're calling it "hooking up." There are a lot of studies to say these days that that's what everyone's doing but of course, it's not called polyamory and they don't practice it like polyamory in that way. What do you think could be the benefits from going through a phase of practicing polyamory?
[Franklin Veaux]: I would be really reluctant to do it as a phase because Man, using other people to practice on and then, discarding them after you've gotten the practice is probably [inaudible].
[Angel Donovan]: I didn't really mean practicing on other people. I meant, you know like, you've decided that this is going to be something good for you, an experience you want to go through for a while. What we encourage people to do is to explore their sexuality rather than just except the culture that's been given to us in our environment today and a lot of people have been just given the mainstream culture which is not polyamorous.
So, I've certainly explored polyamory myself and let's rephrase the question. Do you see any benefits to exploring polyamory even if it's not something you're not certain about? Is it something that someone should try because, they may get some benefits about them like awareness or other benefits in skills or things that will walk away even if it's not for them afterwards and it will have been a good thing rather than a big mistake?
[Eve Rickert]: I would never say to try polyamory just to try it, just to try build skills or whatever. I think that you need at some level to have some idea that you might want to be polyamorous, that you might enjoy doing it. Certainly, most of the people who are poly, they feel like it's for them or at least, probably maybe for them and there are a couple of reasons for that.
One is, as Franklin said, you don't want to kind of play with other people's hearts and say, "Well, I'm going to try this thing out because, I want to learn skills." That's not...you know, what do you do with those relationships at the end of this, right and you decide you really want to be monogamous?
Two, it's actually pretty hard to be polyamorous and there are some really scary things that you have to deal and some really intense emotions and if you're not really into it, it's hard to have the motivation to get through those phases. It's hard to not say like, "Whoa, this is really too hard and I'm just going to back out and go back to being monogamous," which you know, if being poly is not what you really want to do then, being monogamous is fine.
I mean, I think that there's really a lot to be said for examining all of your relationship options and not choosing anything by default and being intentional about what kind of relationship you want and certainly, if you think that polyamory is appealing to you and you might want to do that then absolutely, try it. I would never say try it just...you can get the same skills that you'll get out of being poly by having monogamous relationships as long as you really work at having good monogamous relationships.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, that's actually...that's exactly the point that I was going to make is that these skills are not unique. The relationship skills you use in poly apply to monogamous relationship just as well. Now, in monogamous relationships, you can get away with not building personal security, not building self-esteem because, you don't have to be confronted with jealousy or insecurity the way you do in poly.
It's okay in a monogamous relationship to say, "Well, I'm really jealous about the idea of you being with somebody because, I'm afraid that means you will abandon me" but, you're never going to be with anybody else so, I don't have to confront that fear. It's beneficial if you do because, even monogamous relationship work better if you're secure, if you have good self-esteem, if you're confident in your relationship, if you trust your partner; these are going to make any relationship better but, you can get away with not challenging them in monogamous relationships.
So, what happens is we say, "Oh well, polyamory is more sophisticated than monogamy because, in polyamory, you have to work through this stuff and in monogamy you don't." Whereas I say, "Well, if you want to have good relationships of any kind, you'll probably be well-served to do that. You'll be well-served to confront your own insecurities and to address your own fears and do all those things that poly people do.
[Eve Rickert]: And you could always make poly friends and learn from them too, right? If monogamy is what you want but, you want to work on those communication skills and personal security and reach out to a poly community and learn what you can from them. Get our book and read it and you can still work on developing the same skills.
[Angel Donovan]: To clarify one thing, when you're talking about polyamory, is it always relationship, like intimate, long-term relationships or is it sometimes involve more casual things as well?
[Eve Rickert]: Polyamory is the amore part so, it usually does refer to relationships and love and genuine connection rather than "hooking up," not necessarily, long-term though, a lot of them are long-term or have the potential to be but...
[Franklin Veaux]: There are polyamorous people who also have casual sex. There are polyamorous people who also swing, for example and you see a lot of cross-over in the swinging and poly worlds but, the thing that define the polyamory is the multiple loving. It's this idea of multiple romantic relationships at the same or even being open to multiple romantic relationships. Of course, you can be poly and be single for whatever reason but, there is a lot of overlap and there are a lot of poly people who do kind of like the casual sex but, being open to more than one romantic relationship does seem to be the defining element of poly.
[Angel Donovan]: Great, great. Alright, I'm going to ask this question. I'm not sure if you guys are just going to shoot me down but, shoot me down if you want. So, a lot of people are cheating and having affairs today in monogamous relationships. A lot of people say they're in monogamous relationships but, they're actually practicing some form of poly because, they're having affairs, they're having...there's even websites dedicated to this these days. Do you think it would be beneficial for these people to learn some of the polyamorous keys because, a lot of the polyamory is about direct communication and ironing out these things and learning to communicate directly versus the norm route which is to avoid it and not talk about it and hope that it never gets found out?
[Eve Rickert]: So, we talk in the book about transitioning from cheating to poly. Yes certainly, a lot of people who are polyamorous now have cheating in their past because, they were never ever able to be monogamous and they were never offered an ethical alternative. The road from cheating to poly, if you want to keep the same relationships that you had when you cheated, that is a really hard one.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: If you want to keep the partner you cheated on and the partner you cheated with, that is a hard, hard road and very few people are able to navigate it successfully.
[Franklin Veaux]: There's a thing that can happen that I've seen. So, there was a woman that I knew many, many, many years ago and she was dating a friend of mine and then, she cheated on him. So, he broke up with her. She started dating another friend of mine and she cheated on him with at least two different people that we're aware of. So, he broke up with her.
She got married and cheated on her husband and last I heard, she was getting divorced or thinking about divorce or something, something, I don't know but, she had been cheating on him as well. I talked to her years ago when she was going through all of this because, she knew that poly was a thing, right? I said, "Well, it's obvious that you can't be monogamous because, you keep cheating on all of your partners. Why won't you just be poly?" and she said, "Well, I can't stand the idea of one of my partners having anybody else."
So, you've got to kind of have to have that too if you're going move from cheating to poly, you really have to be able to say, "I want non-monogamy and it's okay if my partners want that too." If you can't make that step, you're probably not going to be able to do it.
[Angel Donovan]: Well, that goes straight back to healthy relationships because, you're abusing, also some boundaries by saying, "I can go and cheat in secret but, you can't."
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: And with regard to that road from cheating to poly, specifically with the person who you cheated on and the person you cheated with, the reason that's so difficult is because you've already got seriously broken trust there. You've broken trust with the partner who you were ostensibly monogamous with. Now, not only do you have to build trust with them to the point of being able to be monogamous with them, you need to rebuild this extra trust to say, "And, I trust you to have other relationships." You've already violated the trust so, it's hard to rebuild any relationship on a foundation of broken trust but, especially a poly one.
On the other hand, if your affair partner, the person you cheated with if you want to stay with them, well they've also violated your partner's trust. They've also trampled all over your partner boundaries. So now, you want that person in your life and in your partner's life and your partner has to be able to fully consent to that and you know, a lot of people who have cheated, I've seen this, they discover polyamory and they say, "Oh, now I can legitimize my affair. I'll just be poly, right?"
Well unfortunately, you've already broken trust. You've already violate boundaries and you've probably already violated consent as well because, your partner wants...that partner is no longer giving informed consent or they're no longer giving consent. You've already done all that. So, it can work...
[Franklin Veaux]: Don't hold your buts...
[Eve Rickert]: Don't hold your breathe. I mean, you might be better off, just if you...
[Angel Donovan]: It's going to be rocky. So, you might want to just reset and restart somewhere.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and understand that your partner who you cheated on, absolutely has the right to say, "No, I don't want this."
[Angel Donovan]: I think that's an important because, if they've entered into a monogamous and that's their expectation, they may, (if they feel a bit dependent on you, you know, they're quite attached to you) feel pressured to go forward in this polyamorous new vision that you've provided with them although, they're not really down for it. They're not interested in it and they're just going through with it and it's going to pop up later and it's not a healthy relationship because, that's not what they signed up for.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yep and when that happens on either side, when you've got one person pressuring another into polyamory or you have somebody who's polyamorous and their partner is pressuring them to be monogamous, that never leads anywhere good.
[Angel Donovan]: Right. So, we had an ex-porn director on the podcast a little while ago called Dave Pounder. He had some pretty straight views about things and he felt that most women didn't want to be going to swinger clubs and they were doing it mostly because of their partners.
[Eve Rickert]: That is...
[Angel Donovan]: Do you have a counter-offer opinion?
[Franklin Veaux]: So, I've been sort of peripherally involved in the swing community for a long time because, they host the best parties.
[Angel Donovan]: Good to know.
[Franklin Veaux]: There is a saying in this swing club that I belong to in Tampa and that is "Men drag their wives to their first swing event and then have to drag their wives away from them", because what happens is the swing community is really all about consent and boundaries. It's very, very strongly enshrined, at least in the swing clubs that I've seen in this sort of cultural ethos and the women are the ones who get to say no and that no gets respected.
That means that a lot of women are like, "Oh no, I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this." So, their husbands convince them, "Oh come on Honey let's try" and they go there and now they're in this environment where what they say matters and their consent is important and their boundaries are taken seriously.
They have the freedom to start exploring, to start expressing themselves sexually, to try new things knowing that everybody around them is going to take care of them, everybody around them is going to respect their consent and they're boundaries and they're like, "Wow, this is awesome," and then their husbands are like, "Honey, Honey, it's getting late." They're like, "No, we want to stay," but, it has definitely been my experience that a lot of women once they start exploring swinging are very enthusiastic about it.
[Angel Donovan]: That's great, I love to hear different opinions. It's really interesting. It does make it difficult because, I'm sure who to believe and it means I have to now enter the world of swingers if I really want to figure it out myself but, I love to hear different opinions and get different pictures of reality there.
So, let's talk a little bit about security and insecurity in relationships. What do you feel is important when it comes to these topics?
[Franklin Veaux]: Wow, I don't know if there is talking a little bit about insecurity.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Franklin Veaux]: The first I'd say...
[Eve Rickert]: It's not optional.
[Franklin Veaux]: It's...oh...
[Eve Rickert]: Working on your person security and self-esteem is not optional, most important thing.
[Angel Donovan]: So, you're saying that everyone is insecure?
[Eve Rickert]: Well no, what I'm saying is, not that everyone is insecure. Franklin isn't insecure.
[Angel Donovan]: Of course Franklin isn't.
[Eve Rickert]: But, just that you don't get to opt of the personal work involved in becoming secure if you're already. It's not something that you can sort of say, "Oh well, I'll do that later," or "Maybe it's okay for me to coast along and have my partners protect my insecurity." You have to work on it because, it will become toxic in your relationships and it doesn't just affect the person who's insecure. It affects everyone around them. So, it is a loving thing to do to work on your self-esteem and personal security.
[Franklin Veaux]: And the way you start with that is really surprisingly simple and we never teach anybody, just believe your partner. Your partner says, "Honey, I love you and I want to be with you" and it seems like we sort of have this attitude that good things that our person says, compliments or positive constructive things our partner says bounce right off of us but, bad things stick, right?
And that I think goes to this insecurity. It's easier for us to believe negative things than positive things. It's easy to believe that our partner doesn't want to be with us and harder to believe that our partner does. So, when your partner says, "I love you and I want to be with you," believe them. That's where it starts.
[Angel Donovan]: That is so very down-to-earth advice. This is good stuff guys.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Thank you.
[Eve Rickert]: And beyond that, there's a whole chapter in the book about all the self-work that you need to do and that chapter references other books because, for some, I mean for someone like me, I've struggled my entire life with feelings of unworthiness and insecurity and I've seen how it's effected my relationships. Certainly since I've become poly, that's become even more clear to me and I've been able to see how my own insecurity doesn't just hurt me, it hurts my partners.
For someone like me, it's a life-long process and I never really get to stop working on it. I've gone through phases when I have felt very security and have experienced high feelings of worthiness and then, I have to keep on with those practices. Things like self-affirmation and mind-fullness and practicing gratitude are all things that are helpful to me in maintaining that and just even feeling worthy is a practice that I have to maintain.
[Angel Donovan]: Great so I mean, those are some good tools that are slowly becoming more popular in mainstream society also. For other reasons, people who want more productivity and want to do better at work and relationships now as well. So, I do mind-fullness. I do mantra-based meditation. I do gratitude meditation. These are great tools to help us develop more security and more clarity. So, I'm really glad you pointed that out. I feel those are great tools too. Are there some other tools that you've seen that are useful?
[Franklin Veaux]: So, I had a lover many years ago and she had a really interesting approach. She said, "I will never date anybody who's never had their heart broken because, it's after you've had your heart broken that you can really see the quality of your person, the quality of your character."
I was in a relationship and I talk about this in the memoir...I was in the 90s that I was extremely insecure and because I felt insecure and I felt jealous, I totally destroyed that relationship and this was a person who really, really loved me and this was somebody I really loved and we have not spoken to each other for decades because, I did this.
I was completely devastated. I was heart-broken. It took me years to get through that but, what I found out from that was two things. Number one, I can lose somebody that I love and I'll still be okay and that actually makes a big, big difference because, now it becomes easier to be more secure.
The other thing that I learned that really made a difference is, you know what, people have the right the leave me. I was jealous. I was insecure. I treated her poorly. She was right to leave. She had the right to do it because, all healthy relationships are voluntary and consensual and as soon as I start treating her badly, she left. What I learned from is if I want my partner to be with me, I don't get that by controlling my partner. I get that by being somebody my partner wants to be with.
So, the way to become secure is not to tell my partner what to do or make her stay with me. The way to be secure is to be the best version of myself, to treat my partner well, to be compassionate, to do all of these things that make me a person my partner wants to be with.
[Eve Rickert]: I will say that one of the resources that was the most helpful for me in cultivating a personal sense of worthiness and security is a book called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Very slender little book, incredibly powerful and I think incredibly valuable for anyone who's struggling with insecurity.
[Angel Donovan]: Thanks, thanks love references. Book references are always very welcome. So Franklin, you just brought up the theme of jealousy which is obviously, one of the really difficult things to deal with. How do you work with jealousy in relationships either in yourself, as in your case or in your partner?
[Franklin Veaux]: That was always the [insecurity]. Everybody wants to know, "Well, if you're going to be poly, can you be jealous or, do you have to be immune to it?" I don't think there's anybody who's immune to jealousy. I will say that right off the bat. I have heard people say, "Oh well you know, I'm great at being poly because, I have never been jealous and I will never be jealous," and I'm like that's kind of saying, "I'll never be angry" or "I will never be sleepy." These are feeling. People have them.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and usually when someone says, "I don't get jealous" or "I've never been jealous", I hear that as, "Well, I've never been jealous, yet."
[Franklin Veaux]: And when I am, it's going to be bad.
[Eve Rickert]: Because there is usually, yes, something that you just haven't...you have a trigger somewhere for your jealousy, you just have been fortunate enough to not stumble across it yet.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, I'm glad that you've brought up the point of a trigger. As you say, some people might go through a long time and not feel any jealousy and then one day, they'll come across one person or one kind of situation which just blows it out.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yep, that happened to me and I destroyed my relationship when it happened.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, I think that believing you're immune to jealousy can actually be really problematic because, then when the jealousy hits you, you'll think it's something else, which is what happened to Franklin.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: I thought I understood what jealousy was. I mean, I experienced jealousy. I thought had a full grasp on how it affected me and recently encountered a situation that caused feelings in me that I had never experienced before. I'm sitting there like, "Oh my God. I just wrote a book about polyamory. How can I be feeling this? How can this be this bad when I know all this stuff about insecurity and communication but, I don't even know how to talk about this it's so awful." So, that has been really just involving a whole lot of talking and processing and reassurance and trying to understand what happened and why was this such a powerful trigger for me? Why was I so afraid?
[Angel Donovan]: So, did you talk with the partner with which the jealousy was triggered of did you talk with other people to try and figure it out first? How did you...when you say talking and communication?
[Eve Rickert]: Well, it was Franklin that it happened with. So, we've been...he and I have been...
[Angel Donovan]: So, you're both here.
[Eve Rickert]: Yea both been...it's been a process that he and I have been working through for about the last month or so.
[Franklin Veaux]: So, there's a thing that can happen where people will say, "Well, I would never be polyamorous because, I am jealous person," which is really kind of weird because, you're staking your identity on a feeling. You're not saying, "I am a person who sometimes gets jealous," you're like, "I'm a jealous person," which is kind of a strange thing to do.
The reality is, you know, what would we say to somebody who said, "Well, I would never get into a relationship because, what if I feel sad?" We'd think, "Okay, that's a bizarre thing to say," right? So, people say, "I would never get into a relationship because, what if I feel jealous?" Well yeah, you're going to feel sad, you're going to feel jealous, you're going to feel happy. These are normal things.
What you do is, when you feel the feeling, you understand that this feeling is not you, it's not your entire world, it doesn't define you. Feelings are transitory. They will come and go and that's okay because, that's what emotions do. They don't have to define you and you can talk about them and that's another thing that we don't teach people is you talk about your feelings. It's a great way to work with your partner to get through them.
Like, if you're feeling jealous, what do you do about it? Well, you do the hardest thing that you can possibly do which is talk to your partner and say, "Hey, I'm feeling jealous," because jealousy really wants you to be quiet about it, right? It doesn't want you to acknowledge it.
[Angel Donovan]: That's very insightful, yeah.
[Franklin Veaux]: If you're the person who your partner comes to and says, "I'm feeling jealous," what do you do? Well, you don't blame them, you don't shame them. "Well, how could you be feeling this thing?," because, people don't have a switch on their heart. You know, you just...
[Eve Rickert]: Or don't tell them they're not enlightened enough or they're not poly enough.
[Franklin Veaux]: Oh Jesus, no.
[Eve Rickert]: Or, "I don't feel this so why do you feel this?" That's another thing that happens. Don't do that. Just don't.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: If you're partner comes to you with a feeling, don't ever judge them for having that feeling. They have no control over it and it's not a character flaw even if it isn't convenient for you.
[Franklin Veaux]: So, you be compassionate, right? You say, "Well, people feel things and let's talk about what's causing this feeling and what can we do to work together to build a bridge to where you're not feeling this thing." I hope I've been doing that well.
[Eve Rickert]: Not...yeah, I was actually about to say that one of the things that has been...this very personal because, it's quite recent but, as we've been working through this issues that we've had, I think the thing that has been...the single most helpful thing for me is that Franklin has never once judged me. No matter how big and terrifying and ugly these feelings of jealousy have been, it's never been like, "Well, stop feeling this," or "Why are you feeling this?" or "Why aren't you over it yet?" which I've said to myself but, he's never said it to me.
And that has been tremendously helpful in...because, I'm able to look and see repeatedly, "Okay yes, he does love me. He does support me. He does want to be with me. I am safe in this relationship" and that has probably helped things be a lot better than they could have been otherwise.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it sounds like you're lucky for it happen with Franklin. I mean, who better than the co-writer of your book about all this stuff?
[Eve Rickert]: Probably. Well, I think what I have to say, I have felt some panic like, "Oh my God, what if I'm poly enough for Franklin? If I feel jealousy, am I not poly enough for the co-author of More Than Two, my co-author."
[Franklin Veaux]: Well, we feel what we feel.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Moving on to other stuff like the poly frameworks and you choose basically a bunch of tools for polyamory in your book and some of these were the frameworks you introduced. You have a chapter on that on how...and so, my question there was, how adding structure to relationships can help because, I saw what you were doing there was basically introducing some concepts which make it easier to communicate about this via this structure?
What would be the most useful tools you see in that set? There's quite a few of them you introduce in that section but, which ones would be the couple of most useful ones you see and how are they beneficial?
[Franklin Veaux]: Number one is definitely communication. I mean, if you can't do that, you can't have a relationship of any sort. It doesn't matter if you're poly or mono or whatever, it's just not going to work.
[Eve Rickert]: So, one of those is direct communication which means, saying exactly what you mean without hidden meaning and without expecting your partner to hear things from subtext or hear things you are not saying. But, it always means, hearing exactly what your partner is saying. So, listening to their words and not listening for hidden subtext or reading meanings into their words.
When people talk about direct communication, they often are referring to the speaking part of direct communication but not to the listening part of their communication. We found that the listening part is just as important. So, say what you mean but, also assume that your partner is saying what they mean as well and don't try to put words in their mouth. That could be really hard for people who are accustomed to passive communication. It's very hard not to hear hidden meaning even when they’re isn’t any.
Another one is that honesty is not just about not lying. It's not just about giving a direct response to the questions. It's also about disclosing those things that you think might be important to your partner without having to be promoted or the response, "Well, you didn't ask about it," is not necessarily a good response if you have withheld information from our partner that you had reason to know was important to them at the time.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, my friend who was cheating on all of her partners and sort of bouncing from relationship to relationship, I asked her once, "Well, don't you think it's wrong that you're telling your partner that you're having sex with this other guy?" and she said, "Well, he didn't ask and I didn't specifically say I wasn't cheating."
Yeah. I mean, I'm sorry this is not cool and one of things that we ( I think we talk about in the book) is "A good liar can tell lies that are mostly truth. A masterful liar can lie without uttering a single falsehood." If you're misleading or concealing things that you believe would be relevant to your partner, you're lying.
[Angel Donovan]: Right so then, it goes to like the typical affair situations, cheating situations where you're making sure you don't have lipstick on you or these kinds of things so that the questions never get asked in the first place but, you're actually making an effort to be deceitful.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yes.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and you can absolutely cheat in polyamorous relationship. Cheating is any violation of the relationship agreement between you. So for example, a common form of cheating is when someone will start having unbarriered sex with a partner and not disclose to their other partner that they've stopped using barriers.
[Franklin Veaux]: Don't do that.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, don't do that.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a huge frightening deal that kind of thing.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, going back to the tool kit and framework, communication, I would say working on personal security is absolutely an indispensable tool. Another thing in communication that can be a poly pitfall is triangular communication...
[Franklin Veaux]: Mmm.
[Eve Rickert]: ...so, expecting one person to convey a message to another person. Now, you can see how this can cause all sorts of chaos in a situation where someone has multiple partners. So, if there is an issue between you and someone else, don't try and to put someone in the middle and there's all kinds of ways of triangular communication can happen.
You might to use your...say Franklin has five partners. Those are called my meteors to your partners other partners or your meteors. So, I might to use Franklin to resolve an issue with one of my meteors or I might try to use one of my meteors to try to resolve an issue with my other meteors. All of that is triangular communication.
[Franklin Veaux]: Don't do that either.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah or Franklin might try to use me to resolve an issue with one of his partners.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, that would be a mistake.
[Eve Rickert]: That's another...there's all kinds of triangles that can get to that that are problematic. So, that goes back to communicating directly with the person who the issue is with as much as possible.
[Angel Donovan]: That all makes a lot of sense. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that. One of the pieces I saw in that chapter was vetoes. What kind of things do you think vetoes are...because, vetoes sounds a little bit negative in some ways. So, I'm just wondering, what are the healthy circumstances for the use of vetoes?
[Eve Rickert]: Well, we're not fans of vetoes and we have a whole chapter on it and one of the reasons we spend a whole chapter on it is that we really want to discourage people from using it but, it's a very, very tempting tool for people to reach for. So, we felt like it needed more space than just, "Well, don't use this."
So, we talk about what veto was, why people use it, how it can go wrong, what the ethical problems are with it, what the practical problems are with it and then, what some alternatives to it are. So a veto is...you'll the word used a number of different ways. The way we use it in the book is "An agreement with an existing partner that you may unilaterally end one of their other relationship without discussion."
[Franklin Veaux]: And this is something I actually had in my relationship with my now ex-wife and it's actually a key component to the reason she is an ex-wife. So, had wanted to feel secure in her relationship with me and she believed that the way that she could feel secure is to say, "If you're relationships start to become too threatening to me or if you get involved with somebody that makes me feel threatened or that I don't want you involved with, I can say, 'Franklin, you have to break up with this person,' and you'll do it." That was the agreement we had.
What we never counted on was how devastating that is to the existing relationship. So for many, many years, she never used a veto and then, she finally did. She vetoed somebody I had been involved for years and she said, "I don't want you to be in this relationship. You have to end this relationship." Then later, she said, "It's not enough that you ended this relationship. I don't want you ever speak to this person again. I want you to end the friendship."
That caused an enormous problem between me and my ex-wife just her using this veto because, what you don't think about when you're thinking about, "Oh yeah, veto makes me feel really secure." When you veto your partner, you're breaking your partner's heart. Your partner might be in love with somebody else and then, you veto them. You tell them, "You have to end this relationship. You have to break your heart. You have to break your other partner's heart." Breaking your partner's heart is not a good long-term relationship strategy.
[Eve Rickert]: Now, there's also something called...that people call sometimes, the "screening veto" which is, "I get the right to say who you can start a relationship with. So, if you want to start a relationship with someone, you have to come to me and get my permission to do that." That is, I think in many ways a less damaging form of veto than the, "I can end the relationship" form of veto.
It still has some problems because, what's it's doing is it's privileging your judgement over your partner's judgement and who they can become involved with. We say that a good alternative to a right of veto is a right of consultation. So, if you trust your partner and you trust each other's judgement then sure, I may come to my partner early on and say, "I'm thinking of dating this person. What do you think about that?"
Then, he might tell me that he has some concerns and I can take that into account in making my own decision. That may sway me in favor of not pursuing the relationship or I may decide to pursue the relationship anyway. But, I think if you are honoring your partner's autonomy and agency and the value of their own judgement and their right to make their own decisions, I think that ultimately the decision whether to start a new relationship with a given person should still be in their hands but certainly, it is good practice to consult with your existing partners about what you are thinking about or planning on doing and finding out how that's going to affect them and how they feel about that because, then, you can make a more informed decision.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm but, you have to too to be able to let your partners make their own mistakes. You might see that this new relationship is probably going to run off the rails and it's probably going to be a really bad idea but, my partner really, really wants to pursue it and you know what? My partner has the right to make mistakes.
[Eve Rickert]: And I have to say that my husband has near 100% accurate predictive ability as to how my various relationships are going to go. I never listen to him and he's actually...recently, he's stopped informing me in advance unless I explicitly ask because, I know he won't listen to them. There was one relationship that was a spectacular disaster and he said later, "Yeah, I saw that coming" and I said, "Why didn't you tell me?" He was like, "You wouldn't have listened to me."
So apparently, I'm someone who needs to make my own mistakes and he just sort of sits back and let's it happen. But, I have made more of a point of getting his input lately since I realized that it's possible he could have protected me from something really, really awful if I had actually asked his opinion and paid attention.
But, the thing is, is like we don't want to see our partners hurt and sometimes we do see train-wrecks coming and it's hard to...I mean certainly, we can warn our partners, tell them what concerns we have. It's hard to see them dive head-long into something that we think is going to hurt them but, sometimes for whatever reason, they just need to do that and they're not children. We can't really stop them from having the life experience they're going to have and maybe there is something they have to learn from it.
[Franklin Veaux]: They do say, "Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement."
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, it certainly is something that's very true. So, that strikes me as one of the most tricky situations, the one you just brought up because, if you care about someone, you obviously want to help and it can...I think a child analogy is pretty good because, parents often try to help their kids and give them advice and stuff when the kids are doing their teenage thing or whatever and they're going to rebel against it. So, you can kind of see how that works in relationships as well but, it's kind of difficult to stand back and watch it. Does strike me as a really tricky one.
[Franklin Veaux]: Oh yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah and certainly, I want to add that you do have your right to set personal boundaries around how that relationship is going to affect you. Like if your partner is in a relationship with someone who's breaking up with them every six weeks and getting back together with them two weeks later and this has happened five times, you have a right to say, "You know what? If you are going to continue, you can't come to me anymore crying over this relationship. I can't deal with it. You've got to deal with that on your own. I'm not going to be your support person for this anymore."
That's a boundary that you have a right to set. You do have the right to say what comes into your space and what you are willing to tolerate in your own relationships. Does that make sense?
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it makes great sense and again, the boundaries is about yourself, not the other person. You're just saying, "No, I don't want to keep hearing about this all the time. I don't want to keep hearing about this problem you have. We've spoken about it and you know how I feel about it already."
[Eve Rickert]: Right.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: The last topic I just wanted to go over was, how to initiate a polyamorous relationship from some different scenarios. We talked a little bit about the cheating scenario which is probably one you're going say, "That's the worse situation ever to try and start a polyamorous relationship from or relationships." What is some of the more normal ones where people find themselves in a situation and it makes sense to move it to polyamory or maybe they want to move it to polyamory and are there any tips on that?
[Eve Rickert]: There's a whole chapter in the book on opening from a couple. So, there are two approaches. One is you're in an existing relationship and that relationship becomes polyamorous or two, you're single and you decide that you are only going pursue polyamorous relationships and there are very different approaches to them.
It's always easier to open a relationship when there is no potential person on the horizon. Because, if there's already someone in the picture, even someone as a potential love interest, it's hard for the non-initiating partner not to see that person as a threat because, the status quo is changing and it's tied to them and somehow it's hard not to see that person as responsible even if there hasn't been cheating and no relationship happens.
[Angel Donovan]: Right because then, I think they would see it as coming from the other person rather than their partner.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Franklin Veaux]: And they can also see it as, "Well, if I say no, what's going to happen? My partner wants to be with this other person over there. If I say no, 'I'm not open to polyamory,' is my partner going to cheat?"
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, is my partner going to leave me for this other partner? So then, it's hard to make a free choice about it. Of course, we don't always get the ideal situation. Sometimes, there is another person in the picture but, it's always good to have the conversation as early as possible and ideally when there isn't somebody else there.
So, I think you just sit down and...I mean, you can broach the idea of polyamory with them and say, "Hey, what do you think of this relationship style? Is it something you would ever be open to?" and see how that goes. If you get a virulent "no" reaction then, you'd know where you stand with that or if they say, "Huh, that's kind of interesting. I'm not sure I'd be into that but, we could talk about it" then, you can go from there.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, a non-response would probably be fear. That would be a negative thing and...
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: ...avoidance. So, it probably means no.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, the thing about that is you can't assume a yes. You're going to have to really listen to what your partner says and you're going to have to respect what they say. If you have a partner who wants monogamy, that is absolutely valid and it is not cool to try to coerce somebody into polyamory.
People have the right to choose the relationship models that work for them and for most that's probably going to be monogamous and that's totally okay but then, you have a choice to make. If it's really, really, really important to you to be polyamorous and it's really, really, really important to your partner to be monogamous then, both of you are going to have to be honest about that and both of you are going really to have to sit down and decide if you're going be able to make this relationship work.
[Eve Rickert]: And there are relationships where one partner is monogamous and the other partner is polyamorous. Those relationships are very hard work. We've seen lots of them not last. We have seen some of them last. They're not completely doomed but, they are a lot of work. They're a lot more work even than an ordinary polyamorous relationship.
[Franklin Veaux]: So for me, I've never been in a monogamous relationship at all. So, I've come to it from a very, very different place that you've came to polyamory from and probably from what most people came to polyamory from and I've always been honest with anybody that I'm interested in. "Look, I am not monogamous and this is who I am. If you're okay with polyamory that's awesome. Let's talk and we'll go out to dinner. If you're not okay with polyamory, that's also awesome but, you know, we're not going to able to date."
[Angel Donovan]: Is that like, say you meet a woman in a bar, typical situation. Is it before you ask for her number or something? Is that conversation you have or is it something after you've taken her number and...?
[Franklin Veaux]: Oh yeah, that conversation has happened way before we get to the point of me saying, "Yeah, I'm interested in you. What's your number or would you like to go out for drinks?" Yeah. So, people are like, "How do you bring up polyamory?" Well, it's actually pretty easy for me because, I wear two wedding rings.
[Angel Donovan]: That's pretty cool. Are you doubled married or is that more of a signal?
[Franklin Veaux]: I am actually not married legally. I have had commitment ceremonies with two of my partners. So, we exchanged rings but, I have not actually gotten legally married to either one of them but, one of the things that I'll do is I'm always very open about who I am. I never hide anything. I don't try to conceal it. I'm not closeted.
There's a Subway shop right across the street from me. It's a sandwich shop and so, I go in there all the time and I get sandwiches. I was in there one day and the person who makes my sandwiches recognized me because, I'm in there all the time. She was like, "Oh yeah, did you do anything interesting this weekend?" and I said, "Yeah, me and my girlfriend went out and we saw that movie The Happening and then afterward, her other boyfriend and my other girlfriend and I all went out to dinner together. By the way, that movie sucks. Don't waste your money."
So, already before we ever have any other kind of conversation, she knows. I'm open to everybody, that I am not monogamous. So, if I'm talking to someone in a bar and we've just met, I'll be like, "Oh you know, how's it going?" During the course of that conversation, I might say, "Yeah, one of my girlfriends and I really like this bar," or "Yeah, I'm just in town visiting one of my girlfriends and then, I'm going home to the girlfriend that I live with," and it's obvious I'm not monogamous.
[Angel Donovan]: So, are you saying these things on purpose to make sure there's a clear signal or are you basically being 100% natural and just talking about your life and you're not even thinking about it?
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, I'm not trying to signal anybody. I'm just talking about my life the same way other people would talk about their lives.
[Eve Rickert]: I want to mention that you don't always have precisely that opportunity to reveal that information over the course of a conversation especially, if it's an exchange of numbers and that kind of a thing. But, way back when I was getting the hang of this whole polyamory thing, I met a guy at a concert. It was your typical scenario, we sat next to each other, we flirted. We exchanged number or email addresses at the end of the concert and then, we went home and set up a date.
I didn't tell him that I was married and that I was poly and this is before I had another partner besides my husband. I really didn't know like, "When am I supposed to disclose and how." So, I went ahead out on the date and during dinner, I didn't actually come out and say, "By the way, you should know I polyamorous and I'm married and etc., etc." I just sort of slipped into the conversation the fact that I have a husband and "By the way, we have an open relationship and how's your food?"
[Angel Donovan]: And he excused himself and went to the toilet.
[Eve Rickert]: Well, I could see his face changed and [inaudible] and he sort of was like grappling with this information and I justified it to myself like, "We never said we were on a"... I didn't say this out loud but I what I was thinking is like, "Oh my God, I pulled a bait-and-switch on him. I totally should have told him sooner" but then, I justified it, "Well, I never said I wasn't married. I never said this was a date. I never..." but, of course he had every reason...the social norms gave him every reason to expect that.
So, I brought that up with my poly group later and people said, "Yeah, sometime between getting his number and going out on the date, I would have disclosed that to him. He should not have had to show up at the date not knowing that yet."
So, if you don't have the opportunity during the course of the conversation where you first meet, it's a good idea before the next meeting to say, "By the way you should know, I'm polyamorous. I have x other partners. They all know that this date is happening and they're okay with it and if you're not familiar with polyamory, I'm happy to talk to you more about it on our date and answer any questions that you may have." But, given him a chance to opt out before actually turning up at the date.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm, I tried to [inaudible] myself by, I have a policy that I won't date anybody who's not already polyamorous. You know, a lot of people are like, "Oh my God." Well, you know there are not very many poly people in the world. There are 7 billion people in the world but, how many of them are poly? You want a partner who's polyamorous and I'm also kinky so, I want a partner who's kinky.
So, they're like, well you know, 1% of all of the people might be open to poly and be in a position for a new relationship and then, 1% of them are also kinky. So, how can you ever find anybody?" I'm like, "Well, 1% of 1% of the world's population is still 70,000 people. How much time could I possibly have?"
[Angel Donovan]: And then, you have long-distance relationship so, you're accessing the whole world, right? Yeah thanks guys, that's very clear. In terms of the situation where you're meeting someone out, something I've done in the past is, I'll bring up the topic of like, "Oh so, when was your last boyfriend?" I'll just bring up the topic and then, naturally I feel like they're going to naturally ask about my girlfriends and then the subject will come up.
So in the situation where it hasn't come up, that's something that I've used and it seems to work as well and it just kind of comes out naturally afterwards. Don't know what you guys think of that?
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah, yeah I mean, it's always helpful when, Franklin was saying, it can just come up naturally in a conversation and you can see where people are at and they know where you're at. I also think that as various forms of non-monogamy are becoming more and more understood and excepted and polyamory is...everybody knows the world polyamory now and that wasn't the case five years ago.
Ben Savage is off promoting the idea of "monogamish" relationships and I think I would like to see us move as a culture more and more towards a place where it's normal to have the relationship style conversation on the first date and you don't necessarily show up at the first date assuming this person is monogamous or anything else. That it's like, "Well, we are all aware that there are multiple forms that a relationship can take so, we need to talk about what our assumptions are and what we want."
So, you can just sit down and say...as you're talking about the usual stuff that you talk about, you can also say, "So, I prefer monogamous relationships", or "I'm polyamorous" and that's not like a bombshell at the date, that's something really weird that you weren't expecting. It's just sort of the normal conversation. There are some cultures, some sub-cultures that are there now, certainly, mainstream culture is not there yet.
[Franklin Veaux]: One of the problems that I have encountered with people who were like...particularly, first exploring polyamory but, this happens sometimes with people who are experience with polyamory too is, they'll say, "I don't want to talk about polyamory up front because, I don't want to scare the other person off." Well, if the other person is not okay with the kind of relationship you're offering, yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a good point. To build on your point, that is often the things that we hear from guys in coaching that they're concerned about bringing these kinds of topics up because, they'll lose the girl that they're interested in.
[Franklin Veaux]: I think what happens there is kind of a scarcity model of relationships. You can approach the idea of relationships from a couple of different directions. There's the scarcity model of, "Oh my God it's so hard to find a woman. It's so hard to find a relationship. It's so difficult to get somebody even under the best of circumstances that now, if I'm going to talk about polyamory or I'm going to talk about anything else like BDSM or kink or whatever, it's just going to be impossible.
Then, there's the abundance model where you say, "Well, we live in a world of seven billion people. Opportunities for connection are all around us. There are people all around us that we can love. There are interesting and amazing people just completely surrounding us. So, opportunities for love and connection are abundant."
Which ever one you believe tends to become true because, what happens is if you believe that relationships are scarce and it's really hard to find relationships, you can start behaving like you're desperate or like you're insecure and that's unattractive so, opportunities do become scarce. When you have an abundance model, you're relaxed, you're confident, you're not like, "Oh my God. This is never going to work. This is never going to work." Right, so you're not in that mind-space and that lets you be more casual, more relaxed, more confident and that's really attractive.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, I see your point. I totally get that and I think also, just to tie with that, it also tends to be that the people who live in this world of abundance tend to be more social, tend to be more outgoing, tend to be meeting more new people. So, there's just more opportunities coming into their life more just because the number of people they're meeting because, their life is more organized that way.
[Eve Rickert]: It isn't to say that, you know, there aren't very real problems like depression and social anxiety and things that sort of make it harder to cultivate an abundance model. But, I still think it's, even in those circumstances, it's not helpful to try to essentially beat someone else for a potential mate because, you're going to run...that's going to trip you up at some point.
It's still helpful to try to go through the mental exercises even if you don't personally feel them. It's still helpful to try to practice that mindset as much as possible. I have found, going back to the security, that even practicing things that you don't necessarily feel can improve your life because, it improves the way people respond to you.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm.
[Eve Rickert]: Even if you inside feel like you're just going through the motions so, "I don't believe in abundance but, I'm going to act like relationships are abundant," even that can help.
[Angel Donovan]: Great, thank you so much for all the information you shared with us today. It is really practical stuff and there's a lot of insights I haven't thought of before so, really appreciate it. There's a few questions just to round off. What are the best ways for people to connect with you and learn about you and your work?
[Eve Rickert]: The website, www.MoreThanTwo.com is a huge polyamory resource that Franklin has built up over the last two decades and there's a blog there that you can follow. We have a Facebook page, More Than Two Book. Franklin and I are both on Twitter. @FranklinVeaux and @EveRickert, our Twitter handles are just our names. Then of course, there's the book More Than Two and Franklin's forthcoming memoir, The Game Changer.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm and I also keep a blog on Live Journal. I think I'm one of the last people who's still there. It's at www.Tacit.livejournal.com.
[Angel Donovan]: Excellent.
[Eve Rickert]: And there's a GPlus page for More Than Two, as well.
[Franklin Veaux]: Oh, there is? Oh yes, that's right.
[Eve Rickert]: And a YouTube channel.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, great so we'll put all of those in the show notes. If you think of anything else feel free to send those on and we'll put them in there too. Is there anyone beside yourself you would recommend for high quality advice in this area?
[Franklin Veaux]: Hmmmm..
[Eve Rickert]: Like for interviewing or for...?
[Angel Donovan]: Just in general, people you respect, maybe you've learned from them or maybe you just appreciate their work and what they put out there as well.
[Eve Rickert]: I quite enjoy the blog Phillip [inaudible]. Pepper Mint is an educator who has a website that is quite informative with actually lots of good articles for men on it especially. Who else would you suggest that's got a really good...?
[Franklin Veaux]: Pepper's blog is amazing.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Franklin Veaux]: Definitely.
[Eve Rickert]: Oh Cunning Minx, Polyamory Weekly, it's a podcast called Polyamory Weekly. She's great.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, she's coming up in an episode. I interviewed her a couple weeks back actually.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, she's fantastic.
[Eve Rickert]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, I agree absolutely. It was a really fun episode also. Well, thanks for those guys. Just this last question, we ask everyone this question. What are your top three recommendations for men who are starting, want to improve their relationships and life as fast as possible?
[Franklin Veaux]: Be confident or at least, be willing to face fear of rejection and approach people you're interested in even if it scares the holy living bejesus out of you because, one of the things that can happen is somebody can say, "Oh well, how can I subtly tell somebody that I'm interested in her? How can I be really, really subtle about it" and that doesn't actually work.
While you're sitting there trying to figure that out, the person who walks up and says, "You know, I think you're really interesting. I'd like to get to know you better. Would you like to go out to drinks with me," is going to be the one who succeeds.
And this is something that I do, if I meet somebody or I have a crush on somebody, my policy is I will walk up to them and I will say, "Wow, I have a crush on you," or "Hey, I think you're really interesting. Would you like to go out to dinner with me?" It never stops being scary. People are always like, "Oh yeah, people who are confident, they can do that without being scared." No, you can't but, you do it anyway and that is what works.
[Eve Rickert]: That's your number one?
[Franklin Veaux]: That's my number one.
[Eve Rickert]: Okay, I'll give a number two from a woman's perspective. Women are people and we're not a separate species, we're not from another planet, we're not a puzzle to be solved. We're just people and the people who have the most success with women, I think, are those who are able to interact with women just as people.
[Franklin Veaux]: Mm-hmm, see now you just stole my number three because, that was going to be my number three.
[Eve Rickert]: Oh no.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah, you interact with people.
[Angel Donovan]: You could fight over number three.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: [inaudible] to number two.
[Franklin Veaux]: A lot of men I've talked to are like, "Well, I can talk to other men but, I just can't talk to women." Well, that's because, you're not really seeing men and women as being people. If you talk to people as people rather than, "I can talk to men but, I can't talk to women," then, that really helps.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a great point.
[Franklin Veaux]: Well, you...
[Eve Rickert]: You're a guy.
[Franklin Veaux]: I know, you just totally stole my number three so now, I'm going to have to come up with a number three, aren't I? Don't be afraid of somebody saying no because, people have the right to say no and that's cool. It's not a reflection on you. There have been times when I have gone up to somebody and I've said, "Hey, I'm really interested in you. Would you like to go out?" and she says, "No." That doesn't mean that I'm a terrible person, that doesn't mean that I am unworthy, it doesn't mean that I'm unattractive, it doesn't mean anything about me. It's just she doesn't feel that connection with me and that's totally cool because, there are people who do.
[Eve Rickert]: And it doesn't mean anything about her either.
[Franklin Veaux]: Yeah.
[Eve Rickert]: It doesn't mean that she's ungrateful for your attention or that she's mean or that she's a bitch or whatever. It's just she's not into you and that's cool. It's her right to not be into you.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a great point to remind people not to attribute too much from the small interactions that we have. That's only been my experience. Like men in general and we coach them and so on, tend to read a lot more into a situation than what actually occurred like a tiny event and sometimes it's got absolutely nothing to do with what's going on and it could be something to do with the environment, you know, all sorts of things that they haven't seen. So, those are great points.
Thank you so much for sharing your information and the time you've spent on the podcast today Franklin and Eve. Thank you very much.
[Eve Rickert]: Thank you.
[Franklin Veaux]: It's been awesome.
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