Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast featuring real conversations with conscious objectors to the status quo.
I'm your host, Nicole. On today's episode, writer and activist Dean Spade joins us for a conversation all about liberating our relationships from patriarchal and capitalist understandings of connection. Together we talk about building community outside of the nuclear model, choosing to be uncomfortable in order to live more, and feeling powerless to jealousy.
Y'all, this episode is ripe with ideas to chew on and to think about. I think one of the big things that I'm taking away from this conversation with Dean is just the reality that this is a long journey, right? Society gives us so many problematic notions and scripts of what it means to be in connection. And as we start to process that and see those things, there's a lot of shame and guilt that can come up in terms of feeling bad for engaging or not being aware or never feeling like you've figured it out completely. And I think that's part of the journey, right? In many ways we are fish living in the water that is patriarchy.
And sometimes it's hard to even see that because it's just the air that we breathe, right? And so in that having compassion for yourself and for the multiple ways that all of us are going to mess up and all of us are going to fall flat on our face because that is what it means to be human. And in that I want to invite you to have curiosity as Dean and I talk about the multiple ways that society has constructed what it means to be in connection. Just asking yourself, are these practices that I have been engaging?
Are these practices that I want to continue to engage in? And a lot of our conversation was also about the autonomy that we all have to pause and reflect and to process through the emotions that come up and maybe even recognizing the patterns that we continually fall into. And having that awareness to realize we can choose something different. And that's one of the beautiful things that also makes us human, right? Is we fail, we mess up, and also we have the opportunity to keep growing and to keep deciding what things are in alignment with your values and what things are going to bring you joy and reduce harm and bring more love to the people around you. I hope you all really enjoy today's episode with Dean and find yourself chewing on some ideas for your own relationships today.
Y'all tune in. So then is there anywhere you want to start this conversation or just dive into it? Anywhere you want to start. Okay, well then how would you introduce yourself first before we get into all the fun juicy conversations?
Yeah. I live in Seattle. I, my day job, paid job is that I'm a professor. And my life work is about, you know, this question of like how do people make transformative change and what are the obstacles to get in the way and what are the countermeasures of our opposition.
And so I spend a lot of my time like just studying like what social movements have done and are doing and then being part of social movements to end police, prisons, borders, patriarchy, war, et cetera. Mm hmm. Yeah. And I know we were talking a little bit earlier about how all of that relates to the new book that you're writing coming out. Could you tell me more about that? Yeah.
Yeah. So for probably like seven years, I've been working on what I first thought was one big book that was just kind of like related to how, you know, being in movements myself for the last 25 years, you know, you kind of see these patterns like this kind of conflicts we get into it again and again, the ways we sort of wreck ourselves, like the kinds of like, you know, ranging from people overworking people struggling with accountability between each other within organizations. Organizations like breaking down because people have romantic relationships that are like, you know, that blow up in these ways or are unethical in their dating practices with each other, like kind of the same problems over and over again. So for me, navigating that stuff on my own, like I've also spent the last 25 or 30 years like trying to, you know, work on myself trying to live my values trying to figure out why I do weird sideways stuff or why I end up in weird conflicts or what's gone on in my own. And dating life or in my own relationships with collaborators.
And so I wanted to write something that was kind of like for people struggling with that stuff who also feel really alienated by like the general self-help literature, which is like, you know, like self-help books, that whole literature is like really like capitalist, racist, is heterormative, it's, you know, focused on monogamy is often like get rich and skinny and 30 days like that's kind of its promise. And so a lot is lost. Like there's a lot of the things, a lot of the tools I've tried to use and gotten something out of it.
I can't actually recommend others because they're just like so fraught. And so basically the project is was like, could I capture some of the things I think are useful and interesting but put them in a more radical framework? Like, can we talk about how we overwork in our movement orgs, but acknowledge that capitalism by supremacy and ableism are surrounding that. That's not just because like we're about to work on hollocks and individual level or can we talk about the dynamics around like romance and sex and the romance myth in our lives in a way that actually is feminist and like, you know, acknowledges this is structural. And so, so yeah, basically I, I'm working on that project for a while and it became so long that it's actually multiple books now and the first one that I kind of broke off the first chunk that I broke off that I think will be in the world first is about like sex dating romance friendship, like some of those common patterns that we see in ourselves and our friends and like some like tools that can be useful for dealing with them and I've done a couple webinars with a little bit of the content in the last couple years with a fireweed collective. And they're online that they both have like a theme around the romance with like titles around that.
And one of them is about like the cycle of romance like the way in which like we meet people and then we like the complex things that happen that cause us to kind of idealize and project upon them that they're like going to basically meet our unmet childhood desire for love and recognition and then the ways in which as we advance people we tend to like, we can tend to shift and then we like feel a lot of like, you know, we're not aware of this we feel like blatant criticism towards people so just kind of like typical cycle of like romance followed by conflicts that happens again and again in people's dating lives and that and that I also think you can have that in a friendship or with an organization and the ways in which when we're not conscious of the pattern, we can really like wreak a lot of havoc havoc on each other and and on groups we're in because it's like you're the best thing in the world and then later on like you're the worst thing you're my enemy. Yeah. So yeah so that's just like one example of like, you know, one of the small ideas in the book that I made that into webinar I think around Valentine's Day last year for Yeah, 2022 for By our weed. But yeah, that project is I think, yeah, relevant to to your podcast themes.
Yes, absolutely. Because I think part of what you were talking about was the fact that this doesn't just happen in our romantic relationships, right? We have multiple relationships in our lives, and they same patterns can play out in and across all of them, right? And what I'm hearing is like this, you know, idealization of a partner of a company of any sort of entity and not really taking in the full complexities of what it means to be human and to be connected. Yeah, I mean, I think that it's true that a lot of these patterns we can play out in any relationship, but it is also fascinating to me that a lot of people I know who are like really right on in the world are not right on in their dating and sexual practices. Like there is something interesting about how it gets us where we live and we are particularly possibly reactive or in principle, like people who are like, otherwise able to live their principles a little bit more. And so that's like, I think one of the questions that that mobilizes the book, it's like, what is it that happens to us where we kind of like, you know, you're like love your friend and you're like, God's first and so amazing, they're so amazing, the work we do together. And then, wow, the way they talk their day or like the choices they just made about how they ended that relationship or the ways that they are doing their flirting in this group or all in that are really seem like, you know, not quite good for the group dynamics or whatever. I think that there's something interesting about what sex love and dating gets at in our deepest wounds that requires.
To me, one of the things that I like about in the book is just like, this is just like, if you're going to have like a mushroom trip, like you got to be like, okay, I'm going to take these mushrooms. I shouldn't drive the car. You know, I maybe I shouldn't cut things with sharp knives. Like what, you know, like we need like to like a care, like we need to like do some care. Like we've been given a pretty bad set of scripts from the culture about how to do sex love and dating. And we most of us have different kinds of damage from our family or caregiving experience that are somehow showing up. So like, what do I want to study?
What kind of support system do I want to have? Like how do I want to like rethink and relearn? And also like when I actually launch into something like, you know, falling in love or initiating a new sexual relationship or going into like, you know, kind of a sex haze, which a lot of us have that experience when we start like an intense new sexual or kink relationship. Like, how am I going to like, you know, take care of myself and like figure out like what would my sober self say would be good boundaries before I go on this bender?
Which is totally fun and beautiful and creative and interesting and worth doing. But like, is there anything I want to have in place? Like, hey, Dean, like, don't forget to sleep sometimes or make sure you stay in touch with your friends and don't get isolated. Or, you know, these are, I'm going to, I could be, I'm going to have this curfew or I'm going to like kind of limit how often I see this person so it doesn't become my whole life or like whatever. But based on what I've noticed, I do that kind of goes sideways, you know, just thinking about like this stuff as actually, you know, pretty dangerous.
Like the person most likely to kill you is someone you date. Like there's, there's, this is, you know, it's heavy. And so just being like, I, everybody acts pretty weird in this realm. I probably do too. What, what am I willing to notice about that? What am I, how frank am I willing to be about that?
What kind of support system do I need? Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you related back to, you know, mushrooms and the set and setting, right? I think we forget how much of a drug love really can be, right? Like all of the tons of neurochemicals that are going through your body that do put you in a different headspace. I mean, like this is an altering of our biological physiological chemistry.
So yes. And I think it's so hard when there aren't narratives of how to do this. So you fall in love with someone and all of a sudden you're projecting out a whole life ahead of you. And what that life is going to look like is based on the models that we see in society and media. All these pieces and to try and construct a different world is so difficult when you don't have an example of how to do that.
What sort of things do you need to do to protect that dream life that you're trying to build that's in line with your values? It's, it's tricky. Yeah.
And what do you even want? And I think this is very similar to like, from my experience of being trans is that like, I couldn't have become like a queer and trans person. If there weren't other queer and trans people, so I could like to create space by just being there like freaky, amazing, gorgeous selves where I was like, oh my God, I can do that weird way.
I can do that. We're like, we're social beings. Like we need each other. And so I think that's similar with relationships, like being able to find out that there are other ways to have an experience of family or that you can have like a very intense love relationship with somebody and decide not to blend one with your friends or family. You can decide not to like, you don't know, you can decide you never want to live with anybody. You can live with someone and then decide you don't want to live together anymore. It doesn't mean you're de-escalating your relationship or just like these, you know, you can, you can really, really, really care and love somebody without being monogamous with them. These basic ideas that are just like actually really radical and people have just been told, you know, the relationship escalator people are told like, these are the markers of connection. And if you're not into them, if that doesn't feel right to you, you can be so easily peer pressured to do that because your lover can be like, if you really love me, you do these things.
Look at our entire society says so and all of your friends agree. If you really love them, you do these things. Like, so we need those containers so much. You know, I, I live with like in this queer family structure where I have like these two like nonblood sisters, my, who are like a couple and they have these two kids who are my nephews and we plan this whole family structure together. And we all live together. Me and my boyfriend and them and that even that like so many people I meet are just like, oh my God, that's what I want. I want to like not be a parent, but live with kids and I want to be able to be a parent, but have there be a lot of adults that are to be, you know, overburdened in the way parenting is and like the nuclear family in our society, which even most queer people end up falling into. Like just having each other as models, like just having, I noticed when people find out how we live, like that it's like a relief to them that there might even be that option because they don't have actually met anyone who's doing it, even if they maybe kind of wanted or thought of it. You know, like that's just a basic example. And I think it's even more complex when you get into like how terrified people are of jealousy and of change that no relationships are permanent. Like, you know, with all the levels of talking about open relationships and yes.
Yes, absolutely. I feel like part of this is the fact that we are lacking community so much so in our relational worlds, at least where we're at currently with the, you know, patriarchal influences that created marriage. Property, the idea of the nuclear family and then that sort of system and we're starting to see how that's not working. Right. And so now we're in the state of trying to find like how to relate and create community in a way that allows us to be free and all of our wonder ourselves. But you're so right.
There aren't examples for how to do that. I would love if you could talk to me then a little bit about like what you do and how you did that, right? If this is something that people really find to be inspiring in a model, I'd love to share that in the space. Yeah, I mean, I think some of the things that are most important for me in my own practice, like friendship is the most important thing in my life. Like I personally believe that friendship is like the most liberate relational space in our society because love and family relations, like sexual love and family relationships are so broad. Like are just so weighted and people are so reactive in them.
And friendship is the place where I found myself most likely to be able to give and receive like honest feedback and really grow, like have friends be like, Hey, that's what you're doing isn't working or it's affecting me in this way. And actually here have a bit change. Like I just noticed that again and again. And that also is happening to me and family and sex being relationships. But I really think that friendship is like also like kind of a weird subversive thing in our society. Like the kind of like straight conservative culture that I grew up around in rural Virginia in the 80s was like, there was an idea that like it was almost like you had friends in high school and then you got married and then you hung out with your spouse and their blood family and your blood family.
And that was it forever. Like friendship was almost like a sign of immaturity. Like people that like a lot of, and I think in general, there's lots of statistics about how isolated people are in the US and how most people have like a single confidant and people talk about like, you know, inside. A lot of people are like stuck in a community that's just them and their date if they have a date.
Like, and that's just so unhealthy and brutal. So for me, like, you know, this has been a conflict in a lot of my relationships. Like I've had, you know, as I mentioned, I mean, this like queer family includes other people as well.
So if I live with, and I've always prioritized, you know, ever since, you know, we've been doing this since our 20s, you know, these kids are now teenagers. And we, although we didn't always live together and we had to travel to be together. And so I spent all my, you know, any vacation time I had from my job or whatever, I always was going to see these people and be in this group.
And I had dates who were like, wait, I'm your boyfriend. Why would why are why aren't you spending all your vacation time with me? And I'm like, because this is what I do. Like this is like, this is my priority. And just, you know, having even that conflict around like, like, yeah, I don't boyfriend isn't isn't more important to me than I have many commitments.
And like, maybe if certain boyfriends will be invited to be part of that as well. But like, that's not like, you know, just the assumption that like your date will be your number one and only and you need to prove all the time that they're more important by ditching your friends or whatever. As a friend is like a lesser thing for me.
It's been like, it's not also because I, you know, haven't had a lot of blood family and was a foster kid and all these things like friendship is like literally been my lifeline. So I think that's one big part of my practice. One thing I'll say about like my open relationship practice that I think has been a really useful learning is like, in general, I've been, I've been like, not into like rules. Like I've noticed how people use like a lot of rules to control each other and to criticize each other. Like, you know, to be like, like rules can be a space in which inevitably people do some small violation and then it's like a chance for me to take out all my jealousy and control issues by being like, you were one minute late.
You know what I mean? Like the way that I practice is not rules centered, although like there's a couple of guidelines or things that like that are on deck with me with some people or whatever that we prefer. And I think one thing that has been a really beautiful practice for me has just been like the point of these guidelines is not that they're rules. So like, yeah, it's okay if you mess it up.
It's okay. If you mess it up, it means that either it doesn't work for you or like, oh, something went on. Like it's not about, no, it's never about anyone getting in trouble. I'll give an example, which is that like, I told my boyfriend I would, I was going to go make, I was having a phone call with another lover and I was going to come back and be like, meet him in bed by 1130. And then I stayed on the phone till midnight. And he was like, oh, that was kind of bummer. And I was like, yeah, that was a bummer. Like, I don't need to do that.
And I absolutely don't need to do that. But there was like, there's no like, it wasn't like a vehicle for him to like feel everything that's hard about that he might ever feel. About being in a different relationship. You don't even just like, or like, there's like, we both, or there was a time in which there was something around of one of our guidelines that was like a little, like he did something that was like a little unclear around it.
And it was so, it felt so good to be like, oh yeah, that's great. I don't care. Like just, it's actually the pleasure is in, you know, the frame I like to use is a contest of generosity, like the pleasure is in like accepting, allowing, being like, do I need to be injured by this? And if I do feel, if I am struggling with jealousy or I'm struggling to say like, oh, I wish I had more time with you or something like that, like let me take that directly instead of taking that outside ways. I just think this is big just because I just noticed a lot of people in open relationships like rocking up resentments and stories and like, it's, you know, you do, we do need to figure out how to be trustworthy to each other. That is a real thing. Trustworthiness is like a skill.
We need that in all areas of our lives. So figuring out like, hey, am I downplaying stuff? Am I misleading anyone?
Am I, you know, people do that stuff. And like coming to, I've been a person who's done that in my life, so to be able to figure out, wait, when am I downplaying? What am I downplaying? Cause I feel shame. What's going off that shame? Do I need to talk to anybody, to a friend about that shame? Do I need to talk to my lover about that shame?
Like figuring out why I'm downplaying or why I'm doing anything deceptive. These are very important things. So we need to become trustworthy. But we also like, and if we really think the other person is trustworthy, we gotta like work that out. Maybe we shouldn't be doing this with them or maybe we need a different set of boundaries to protect us from what about that feels unsafe. But like the other pieces being like trusting in generous, like actually, if I really believe in my own sexual freedom and the other persons, and I believe that they're on a path in their own like sexual expression healing that is separate from mine. And that is like beautiful and gets to develop. Like I need to not like live in judgment and like not be looking for ways to get them in trouble.
I just noticed this a lot. And I think that in other times of my life, I struggled with like expressing my jealousy by kind of like getting feeling like I wanted to find a way someone else has done something wrong. Sure, which I think makes sense if you feel, you know, your partner might feel insecure in that dynamic, right? Of you're talking to a lover on the phone. And then here is this time where you said you were gonna be back at 1130.
You came back at 12. And if we don't feel secure enough in our relationship, at that point you say, you know, I mean, these thoughts don't come through consciously. I feel like these are the unconscious thoughts that are running through that maybe we don't even realize of like, well, clearly I'm not important to them. So they don't really care about me.
Clearly that other person is way more important. And so then when you come back into the room, they say, well, why did you do that? And using that rule against you as a way to kind of say, I feel insecure that you spent that time with that person.
But the thing is like, it takes I think the emotional awareness to recognize that feeling than to pause and not to lash out through like passive aggression, whatever sort of tactics afterwards and say like, hey, I feel insecure because you said you'd be back by 1130 and it took more time. And I feel like I'm not important to your world. Can we like talk about that? So we come together to feel more secure in that. And I think like, if you don't have those processes and that awareness, then it is gonna come back in that way because inherently the dynamics can feel insecure in some ways when you start adding more people. Like that is a reality. Like when you start to share to like feel secure and that takes like an extra level of communication, vulnerability about how you're feeling in so many pieces.
So I think it's a lot of work. I feel like anyone who doesn't think that open relationships are a lot of work or misunderstanding, but it means to truly really relate and be vulnerable with other people. Yeah, I mean, I think the thing you just described, you know, it's like come back in the room and the person's like, hey, that didn't feel good that you were half an hour late. Like I just think most people actually don't have any practices with forgiveness. I actually think it's incredibly rare in our society. People mostly build stories about each other. Your coworker, your family member, people are like, haven't had the experience of being like, most people are sort of not good at apologizing.
So like it all comes together. You know, that's like a really like the real question of like, can someone say, hey, sorry, I did that. And can I let it go? Or am I holding onto it and looking for evidence of the pattern and making a pattern about it?
Right. The thing about what you said about how, you know, when you are open and you're sharing, it is more insecure. Like I think there's something really deep about that. Like that desire to control like that desire to own my partner or date or whatever, lover to like, it's so intense like D, capitalist white supremacy stuff. And it's like, and it's really, you know, it really lives in me.
I feel that. And I, and for me, it was a decision like, cause I've been in and out of monogamy at different points in my life. And it was a really big decision to just be like, would I rather be uncomfortable in which way? Like both things are a ton of work and both things are uncomfortable.
So I would rather be uncomfortable kind of knowing that we're like to some degree, like limiting our sexuality. And I'm like limiting some of the things that I'm curious about or want to express or learn or heal in that in order to have like kind of the piece of not having to, in my case, like feel jealous and or feel like I often also have feelings of like, am I doing something wrong? Am I doing something wrong?
Am I doing something wrong around being in a relationship? Like I just like assume I'm doing something wrong or having a good time or whatever. And you know, it's strange stuff. I mean, I'm on this planet.
It's like be alive. I do tons of things that are uncomfortable, right? Like I'm trans in the world.
I'm radical. Like whatever I take, I take certain risks. I've chosen to take for a really long time.
I've chosen to live more instead of be like safer, but in a smaller box. And it just, it's like not to say that it's always pleasant. And I will say too that like you mentioned like emotional awareness as being like part of it. I definitely think that like that is kind of the missing piece that leads to so much conflict in our world and to truly show problems. But like to me, you know, I have a strong relationship to meditation and the whole experience of what meditating is in my experience is like just being able to like notice what's going on.
Like, hey, look what's going on. Like I'm having this reaction, I'm having this kind of thought and like learning to do that more and more. And so there's like that like millimeter of critical distance between me and my emotion. So I'm not just like, I just had a feeling of jealousy now I need to yell at you.
It's like, oh, look, I'm feeling of jealousy. Just went by, do I need a hug? Like, can I take care of this? Can I take care of myself in whatever feeling comes up?
Not just be the feeling. And that I just think like in a society in which people are super distracted, have almost no time to reflect or no time in solitude. Everyone's like in, you know, in their phones every minute that they're not actually at work or you know, caring for someone. Like there's not a lot of people are not getting a chance to like have that kind of relationship to when emotions pop up. Like it's instead like, let me get away from this by looking at Instagram or, you know, using a substance or whatever we all shopping, whatever we all do to kind of get away from ourselves, which is now always available.
And I worry about like how hard that makes challenging radical practices like being in relationships. Yes, yes, 100%. I am so with you. And I agree that a lot of this ties back to mindfulness of that ability to have enough space from the emotion, recognize that we're not our emotions and that we have the autonomy to decide how we wanna show up, not invalidate the emotions, right?
Like we never like ignore them. I think it's important to remember that these emotions that are coming up are pointing to something that you need or want. And like taking that moment to like sit with them of like, okay, like what is this emotion pointing me to that I'm creating? Like you said, do I need a hug?
Do I need reassurance in this connection here? And I think another thing that at least I have struggled with was like this feeling that my most authentic self is actually feeling into those emotions. Like this sense of like romance and relating that like, the way to show up is to actually like, when that comes up, feel it, share it, like all of that sort of stuff. And like even taking a step back from that to recognize that like letting go of that full like emotions that come up, like that is not authentic relating. I think authentic relating comes back to mindfulness, awareness of our thoughts and choosing how we want to show up in relationships in a way that doesn't invalidate our feelings and it allows for more connection.
I seem to always date people who don't experience a lot of jealousy and I do experience a lot of jealousy and it's really easy for me to just be like, I'm a bad person. You know what I mean? Like I'm wounded, I'm flawed, I'm damaged. You know, I have these issues from childhood or whatever. And my practice of course is just to be like, yeah, Dean, you may always experience jealousy. Did you act like a dick to anyone? No, that's fine. Like it's like my job is just to not act it out.
And I don't. I think I actually think I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of like not pointing it at people and instead either, you know, taking care of myself or seeing what helps me and relieves that by getting to what we're friends or going swimming or whatever it seems to do or sometimes talking to the person about it. If it's like, hey, I want this kind of reassurance, but like it's my responsibility, it's my feeling, it's my wound and to just be like kind to myself about it. Because if I'm, I think when you try to suppress feelings, they do come out sideways. And that's when you're like giving someone some kind of like.
unnecessary criticism or being withdrawn or numbing out or whatever. And I think, you know, I want to like be actively in these things. And if I choose to do it this way, this includes the set of feelings and that I hope is a healing opportunity.
And I have seen over time that by like choosing to approach it with this kind of compassion and care and like kind of experimentalism has reduced it. Yeah, just like amazing. Like I didn't I was sure that was possible, you know.
Mm hmm. And then I think that's the security that can come through open relating, right? Like it, it is inherently insecure, I think, because of the malleability of the dynamics and the flow that is inherent to them. But I think once you're doing that practice of, you know, acknowledging where you're coming from, acknowledging the support that you can get from other people like that inherently becomes really secure in this beautiful, like, flowing way that I really find. Yeah.
Beautiful. Yeah, I mean, the thing you're saying to about like the fact that it's like less secure because it can change like, there's something about that, that I think I often am just like, yeah, this is reality. Like if I if the people I date, we're all dating other people or whatever, we like it's possible that like, I'll be dating you and you'll meet someone and they're really compelling to you.
And I see less of you like that actually may happen. You may even be like, decide to focus on them in such a way that we don't see each other anymore. Also a, even if you're an agonist, the relationships can end.
We've all done that. Relationships can end period. They can, they, things change, everything changes. So you can't stop change. But also, for me, this like politically, this is about this relationship where like, the state form itself wants us to have relationships that are pretending permanent because the state form itself pretends to be permanent. Like the idea of the nation state is that it is permanent, even of course, you know, all countries start and end. But the story about permanence and that we should fix ourselves through marriage to the state and that we should, you know, and it's the whole very tale of like happily ever after, like that there should be kind of like an unchanging.
And this is also, I think they're like romance books and stuff, all of them are like, it's like, it's, it's going to be like early romance and all of this hotness. And it's going to be that way forever between these two people. And people find a lot of disappointment is very painful because disappointing.
And you know, there's lots of conflict about that. So like, what if instead, we actually noticed the reality, which is that everything constantly changes and nothing is permanent, especially in humans, human emotions, human relationships. And we were like, wow, I am on this ride. I just am I don't get to not be on this ride or everything changes. So I'm going to like, find out what there is for me on this ride. Like, wow, what do I learn by the fact that I get to change?
I don't have to pretend I'm only attracted to the one person I ever, you know, be that since we met, I felt the same way because I'm because actually that's not how it is. Or you don't have to pretend that nothing has shifted and grown. And also that can mean that things can deepen or widen. Like it's not, it's not only loss that you're not always in whatever it was when you first started, you know, like, I think there's a, I was talking to one of the people from Fire Week, like after my romance, this webinar, and the person was saying that they feel like part of the romance myth is that that like relationships are not allowed to mature, that like it's supposed to always be just like it was in the first, you know, year or whatever, along that period is for people. And that, that's so interesting, you know what I mean, that it's kind of like a stunted development when of course, and I think part of what's in like my my book that I'm writing that I'm finishing now, you know, a lot of it too is like, okay, how can I act responsibly given what an intense drug that early period is, like, how can we also be recognizing the different phases of qualities, and that we may need to notice where unethical behavior regularly emerge at times in some of those phases, you know, like what, happy people treat, or if people go into resentment, and they're unethical towards their date, or they go into contempt, or you know, whatever, but also certainly in the period of like falling in love, many people, you know, ditch their friends and don't show up to their actual obligations and, you know, do somewhere, you know, or like if they're in a relationship, like, are really unethical to their other dates and fly and whatever, lots of things. Yeah, absolutely, like that new relationship energy and how that changes the dynamics. And I think it becomes so important to think about all of that, because when you are in a web of multiple relationships, that changes and affects other people. So it's not like you're just affecting yourself at that point, you're causing harm, neglect maybe to the other relationships in your world. So it like, there's these other layers you have to be considering when you're making these decisions to take on a new relationship. So suddenly it becomes very interconnected. Yeah, and also, if you took on a new job, that might happen.
Yes. If you got sick, it might happen. And if you got pregnant, it might happen. So also not like, I think the other side of it could be that we could try to, I think some people also try to make open relationships, secure life, monogamous relationships, like promise me nothing will ever change. And it's just, the real question is why are we also afraid of change? And what would I have to do to be able to sustain the reality that my desires and time and capacities will change as will my dates? And like, that's in the same way of recognizing like, we're all going to die, or we're all going to age, or we're all going to get sick in different ways and be whatever, like just things change. And you know, like that is really painful for people.
And I think that like, you could be in monogamy, or you could be doing something else and still be trying to force things on to change. Yes, 100%. Yes, I love you're preaching like all my ideas. I always relate back to that of like, yes, death is coming. Like the fact that we're so uncomfortable with that reality that things are going to change, I think it does parallel in all these other ways as well of like, yes, this general unease with change. And so I feel like the answer, if there is an answer to that, right, is like, how can we learn to feel secure within ourselves? And I don't mean in some sort of like, individualistic go off into, you know, your own little recluse world, but like, how can we gain some sort of stability, trust in ourselves to navigate the relational fluxes that occur? And especially what you said, yes, of like monogamous people, the same thing happens, you have a new job, maybe you take on a new hobby, maybe you get a niece, maybe you get all these other pieces, I think people forget that like, these are relationships that you have time and energy that you devote to, right?
Like even this podcast that I make is a relationship, I spend time creating devoting to it and it takes away from my other relationships, right? And so like, yes, changes is inevitable and all of that. And at the same time, how can we find the security within ourselves and our interconnectedness to be able to like, ride those waves of change? To me, that a lot of that is like, Oh, when things change, or when I believe they might change, or when I'm fearing they change, what's coming up? Like just being really aware, like, Oh, I'm, I'm being activated about the death of my mother when I was 14, I'm being, you know, just whatever, just absolutely that for me.
Like everybody's got thing, right? Like people, you're activated by your parents' divorce, you're activated by your migration experience, right? Whatever, like the things, other moments of loss and change that will come, the stories you've heard about loss and change from your family or from the culture or stories about non-desire ability that you think that loss and change me, whatever. And just being like, look, there's that, you know, and then how can I simultaneously reconnect to my actual principle of belief that I want the people I know to pursue what they need to pursue and to be well and be like on their own, like healing and growth path. So that means that if my lover needs to go away to move to another town, or if they need to have a baby with somebody, I'm not gonna see them anymore, or if they need to, you know, fall in love with somebody new, like, which doesn't, and then also to have room for loss.
Like, like, doesn't mean like that feels like nothing, but also can I feel how that makes me sadder? That's hard. And also not make anybody the bad guy or like be horrible to anybody. I mean, just for ultimately, for me, this like the baseline is like, can we all try to harm each other? And I think sometimes people think that when someone rejects them, that's harm, but actually people are allowed to say no to us. People are allowed to say, I don't want that. I don't want that anymore. I don't want like that.
And like, I think that there's like a real confusion in our culture between like, everyone has to do what I want. And I was harmed. And like, I think that is a, that comes up, I think a lot relationally, where it's like, is it okay to hate somebody because they broke up with me or rejected me?
And or and or if they did it imperfectly? You know, it's like, well, yeah, usually if someone breaks up with you or rejects you, you feel like they didn't do it and build some self awareness around that and then be like, okay, what do I need the kind of security you're talking about having inside ourselves? Like to me, that's usually it's social. It's like, how do I have like a nephra support system and that connection to friends, sort of activities that I know make me relax when I'm having a hard time. I think for a lot of us, it helps to like go to some kind of therapy or some kind of practice where we get some deep reflection on our reactivity.
Yeah, you know, like that that's to me, that's what security means is like, not that I'm not going to feel the constant roller coaster of things that we all feel, but instead that I'm going to like have people to turn to have stuff I have to do and and have like some sense like, oh, yep, I'm on the roller coaster right now it hurts. Yeah, I don't but I don't need to like take anyone down because of it. Or like, I don't have to decide I'm bad or they're bad. But I can like right now I feel like I'm better right now I feel like they're bad. That's different than I have to make them bad punish them or make me bad punish myself.
Yeah. Yeah, because it's much harder to hold the reality of both. It is so much easier to just be like, no, they're a bad person.
They're horrible. That's why this happened. So, you know, fuck them and that sort of energy versus holding the duality. That's so much heavier of like, wow, the way that they just broke up with me was incredibly painful. And I am sad and I am grieving all of that. And that person did the best that they could. And having that sort of space of like whatever that was, that's how they showed up and not taking it personally because we also have to remember that everyone's going on their own journey doing the best that they can.
And so yeah, how can you hold that duality? I think that is an active practice because at least from my experience, you know, you have that frustration and it's hard to like hold that space, take a step back and like reflect and be like, no, like this does hurt me. That's a valid emotion.
I wish they would have done better, but I also see where they're at. Yeah, and like it's and like being like I can be angry. Yes Yes, it's like all the feelings are okay, but it's like do I need to do anything? Do I need to try to get everyone in our circle to hate them? No Do I need to try to get them banned from this or that space?
Like just trying to be like, you know Just trying to I think that idea that fundamental abolitionist principle that no one is disposable like just trying to like I Can be really mad at them. I cannot want to talk to them It's great. You can have boundaries where you don't want to ask people, you know, I have space whatever but like do I need to take them down? Mm-hmm because doing so would feel better I'd get support from my community that would look at them in the same way and I'd feel Validated in my experience of pain that I'm struggling to validate on my own Although I'm most people I would say do not feel better when they go on campaigns against others It's you're never satisfied once you start because yeah, but he still likes them Deeply unsatisfying to campaign against someone like everyone I know who has Done that for various reasons Has ended up feeling more isolated because because when some people won't participate you feel super rejected And then you feel like oh my god, like they don't believe me because they didn't you know, it's just off Like I see it a lot just like in social movement Mm-hmm, like, you know, we were in a group together Yeah, friends or dates and then you and I like we had a bad ending and now I'm trying to get everyone to think you're I've got a story about how you do this because you're whatever and then I'm trying to get everyone to hate you And exclude you from things like I think I think that that desire to campaign is I really have compassion for it and understand it It's like a it's like a thing that makes sense in a culture where people are isolated and don't feel seen and heard and don't feel Entitled to their feelings and so they need to like try to find like you're saying validation for them But I think it's really it's one of the more dangerous tendencies in our movements that produces like The kind of conflict that's really enduring where it's like the whole community has to line up Are you on you know this side or that side or where where if you don't? Do what I want you to do about the pain I experience then now I also got a label for you Yeah, I'm saying that person's it because their sex is now I'm saying you're sexist if you don't do everything I want to exclude them and it just becomes that these like massive massive rifts and it's not actually stopping by behavior You know, it's not stopping people from being like actually sexist racist able center I move it like we need some you know some other Approaches and I feel very like it's like I think what I think campaign is what we do when we feel actually very Yeah to gain people so you don't feel alone and that's suffering it what's coming up for people more so they don't feel so alone You know, yeah, and what's coming up for me is like this idea of patriarchal other in right? That is the other ring like I am pushing that person out And if you align with that person you are part of the other that is bad so that I can feel power over here and ostracize the other And I mean we see that through Multiple ways that the patriarchy comes through to other various minority people and put them in this other camp that isn't Ignoring the connection of our humanity and the need for that other person to have community as well and to grow and develop as well and have support Yeah, I mean, I think it's living in a prison-based society It's like the idea that we get from childhoods like they're good guys and bad guys Yes, we all want to be good guys. We all want to identify bad guys and like doing that feels like a life-and-death matter and so then You know, I think a lot of people Experience their internal it's a very it's very subconscious like, you know, just like kind of like deep Binary in that way and so it's like you want to when you're with me You're a good guy and you can do no harm and then I'm actually not saying hey the way you said that actually hurt that person's feelings I'm not giving you enough feedback when you're on my good guy list and when you're my bad guy list It's like you're dead here.
You're canceled your and like that emotional dynamic. I think also is how we're seeing ourselves at the same time It's like, oh my god, I did one thing wrong. I'm the worst never yes, or it's like I'm the best I'm the worst it's like this people toggle between grandiosity and self-hatred not all the time but like on on hot topic issues within themselves and like It's like how do we I think a lot of what you're saying is like about like how do we hold complexity and how do we have like the nuance that like I Mean one of my favorite 12-step slogans is I'm not the best person. I'm not the worst person It's like yeah, we're all just in here muddling around and everyone else is too and It's not surprising that we all make mistakes a lot and The the qualities we need to cultivate our ability given to receive direct feedback the ability to apologize the ability to forgive Like these are profound qualities that we are terrible at because living in a prison society Teaches us not to use those qualities But instead just to like have people even a pedestal or you know put them in a cage Right, right, and I think what you're hitting on is so important about how those then come internal You know, I'm thinking about Foucault and how those turn those these ideas into yourself So then yes, you see yourself as good or bad person rather than the complex human that you are that we all are Can make mistakes that can hurt other people that can be a leader that can be so compassionate And we can hold both because that's what it means to be human is to be able to do both and to Then use mindfulness to choose how you want to show up in the world I think like that's why I hope we can come to that space of being able to see that duality and hold that duality Yeah, I mean, I think I worry that some of the community dynamics and like, you know polyamory or relationships or whatever of these kind of communities we want to talk about can actually reinforce Perfectionism and shame like if we're like trying to perform it perfectly publicly and not have any of the feelings we're not supposed to have and I think that stuff can be really Can just feed right into that same mindset within us and causes to Behave like to each other and do sideways shit because we can't come around perfect Yeah, which makes sense when you're a minority wanting to be that model wanting to be that perfect You know example of what it looks like because society doesn't accept us already So let me show you the best of what it is and like I feel like some of the ways that I've seen that is like the Nominogamy poly community like talking poorly about monogamous individuals who choose that You know and who then come and say like well if you have jealousy you need to check yourself Right like this like push back on this sense that something's wrong with you if you're jealous I mean also if we believe in consent We cannot judge people for being monogamous like we don't I don't want to create a new like a new Society in which you're bad if you're not with like we just to flip it like the whole thing with consent is I want to Actually do what they want. I want them to be celibate if they want to be I want them to Date and fucking nine people I want them to date and fuck one person or whatever they want You know like the whole thing is if you don't feel like you're in choice It's not gonna go well like you're not gonna have Experience you're trying to have it's not gonna be good for people you connect with like and so the idea that I mean I think I've always felt about this is like you can hurt people terribly and be wildly responsible in polyamory or monogamy You can have deep meaningful connective experiences in polyamory It's like there's neither of these it's true that monogamy is tied to a Set of private property based social relations that we want to dismantle It's true like the monogamy requirement is and the monogamy norm is but the problem there is is norms not behavior of monogamy right and so like in our society like Choosing not to be monogamous is counter-cultural and can have can feel like liberation to people in particular ways because it's like not on the menu Accepted and being monogamous can be pushed and normed But the problem there is all the pressure and non-consent not like like inherently choosing to have one date is not There's nothing good or bad about it. It's just like Do people are people getting to find choice in it? And so the thing where we shame people for you know In any in any subcultural context like you know, I've been when I when I was like Really young queer scenes we really shame people for not like it was like you're supposed to be like all the way gay or all the way lesbian And like it was terrible that You know, whatever you can you can find ways to just like limit people's To enforce norms even inside our subcultural spaces and that is not freedom, you know the nor I do think that it's cool that in our subcultural spaces we Ask people to question like wow, why do I desire what I desire?
Why do I think that I'll only be happy when I'm married and have two by five children on property? Like I love that our subcultural spaces are places where we question our desires and what we like desire is not You know desire comp comes off of cultural scripts and anthologies and we're gonna like see if we could desire otherwise And we're gonna question what that's a questioning fat phobia in our desire questioning And the desire for monogamy or the assumption that my name will make us safe and satisfied all of that is wonderful that's different then Criticizing people in a way that's like designed to shame them, you know, like that's shame is like liberation really comes from shame, right? Yes, if that's just going to push someone further into a space of lack of curiosity, right? When you shame someone, defenses come up and that is the opposite of what you were just talking about of curiosity, asking questions, exploration. And so, yeah, no, shame is not going to foster that in people. So yes, if anyone hears that alone, just like try to work on letting go of the shaming of others.
And I think some people want to help people expand, but doing it in shame is not the way to do that. And I appreciate what you said about like, yes, monogamy comes from like a patriarchal structure and all these other pieces. And I think that's worth examining, right? Like, I have nothing against people who choose to do, you know, monogamous dynamics and something I've engaged in at times and go back and forth in some sort of whatever feels good flow relationship anarchist way for me. And I think some of the pieces of that that I do like to call into question are like some of what we talked about earlier, like the concept of emotional fidelity, right? Like the concept that you can't have deep emotional intimate partnerships with other people than your monogamous partner. That's the stuff I call into question because I think that that sort of relating is not necessarily now about the monogamous diet. Now we're talking about relating to your whole community like that inherently I think should be questioned.
Yeah. And I think that that's the thing that I think about how much essentially I value friendship but just like, I just I really think that like my primary belief that maybe is where I would say like the most interesting thing to me about relationship anarchy is the like the non hierarchy that like, you know, like the I get to think I've always different friends on these relationships and possibly different lovers or whatever who all you know, and feeling like members of whatever who have different people I want to I don't there's not one person I want to connect with everything about right like the person I want to talk to about like my new intellectual project, maybe this person and this other person I really want to connect with about our and the person I really want to talk about like our shared family history stuff or and like the idea that I should do everything with my boyfriend and that it was really significant to me when my dad died that I brought my like dearest old friend in his funeral not my boyfriend like that was who I wanted to have there and that my boyfriend like had took no offense to that like there's like, like we just have a sense and feeling that there's no reason we need to do everything together or be everything to each other. That illusion is not part of our relationship and that feels to me like so essential and that's and that that thing you're describing about like that that emotional fidelity that story that you should be in this community of two, you know, is so it makes people just so isolated miserable and then it makes that relationship so miserable because it's like, of course, you can't be all things to me or not like you have to have a set of shared about the interests and then also things that are different, which is what makes us interesting to each other that we're different, you know, like, it's so frustrating to see people expecting that and to see people like then move in the world only as couples, which is just like to me like, you know, rarely like safe or satisfying.
Because dare I say it goes against our nature, we are social beings, that is just a reality that we benefit and grow in connection with other people. And so, yeah, to close all of it down, do say the only one relationship that I'm going to find intimacy is here, that is a burden on that relationship that will like, you know, like a fire when you try to you don't give it oxygen, it won't breathe. Okay, so like that's exactly where I'm always out of like, regardless of whether you do polyamory and monogamy relationship anarchy, I think one of the biggest things is like, coming into more relational intimacy across all of your relationships and whatever structures allow you to feel safe in that and secure to continue to build, go for that, do that, but trying to place all of your relational needs on one person will fail. So is there anything you feel like lingering? I feel like we've had a really good conversation about relationship anarchy challenging the status quo, what it means to be connected?
I don't think so. It's really fun to talk to you. I don't often talk about these ideas in this way. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, I could I could keep going. This is what I write about. So yeah, it is fun to get to have like someone else who like shares the same space. I think one of the things you have more space to chat, do you feel like you're okay? Yeah, one of the things I find interesting about relationship anarchy is like the deconstruction of the monogamy non monogamy binary itself.
Please say more. Yeah, I mean, that mode in a binary is a reflection of the patriarchal structures that place romance and sexuality at the top. Let's say how I relate how I define my world is going to be a monogamy or non monogamy, right? And when you take away the hierarchy, like that sort of lens doesn't even make sense anymore, because then we're all non monogamous to a degree, right? Because then we're all poly at that point, because I have multiple relationships. Because polyamory isn't just about romance and sex. That is a mononormative patriarchal understanding of placing sex and romance at the top.
Once we take that away, it's a whole different world. What you're saying is I can remember something in that but poly secure, which I kind of read quite a while ago now. So I remember but I feel like the author had like a chart that was like about how emotionally exclusive and how sexually exclusive your relationship is. And it was really cool to talk to some of your friends about it and talk about that a lot of people we are friends with, even if they're in sexually exclusive relationships, are in really emotionally not exclusive relationships, like have really deep friendships or do have sleepovers with friends or go on camping trips with friends, do things without their date, basically.
And how just talking to people about like how health giving that felt like it is or how well well-being enhancing that is for a lot of people I know. And that feels different than the kind of like you only ever see me in the world with my date and you only get to interact with me with my date. And you know, I've known people who had almost like an agreement in their relationship that they weren't allowed to talk to anybody about their relationship, like their other friends, like that to me you can like border on getting into like domestic violence dynamics because if I'm not ever allowed to tell any of our friends if things are hard between us and how relationships are hard, they just are, you know, like this kind of like extreme loyalty that is isolating. Like that's I think the worst case scenario of that kind of emotionally exclusive relating. Absolutely. Yeah, it can, yeah, it isolates you again exactly what we're talking about before.
And then yeah, you have no one to bounce that off no one else to connect to. And I think that's why at least the ideas for me of relationship anarchy are applicable to both right, at least from what I've done some research and there's no academic research on relationship anarchy. There's one paper from a queer feminist in Spain that talks about the political nature of it, but beyond that there's nothing. So a lot of this is also just like, you know, blogs, other sorts of pieces that are out there. And one of the blogs that I was reading was talking about how like, yeah, if we understand the monogamy non monogamy, like relationship anarchy is like this third point that is kind of like outside of that binary. And in that way, I feel like the aspects of relationship anarchy, the values are applicable to all relationships. So you could be monogamous in a relationship anarchist, and that's within the bounds as long as you're working to do exactly what you're saying, right, of like, removing the focus, the isolation to one romantic sexual partner being your whole thing and opening up your relational world to more people.
I mean, I think, you know, I think a lot of the skills we talk about in, but in thinking about polyamory and monogamy are are so applicable elsewhere. Like, you know, you know, people who are like, I have a best friend and she can't invite anyone else if she doesn't invite me. And others of us are like, Oh, yeah, I've got, I've got multiple best friends.
And sometimes they have a dinner party and I'm not invited. And like, it's like, that's legit. Or like, you know, if you're getting part of this organization, you feel loyal to asking to kind of feel like, you know, negative towards other organizations that do the same thing. And it's like, like that these kinds of, you know, it's just scared, it feels just like scarcity capitalism, internalized stuff, like, it's so heartbreaking. And most of us have it somewhere, like most of us have that kind of scarcity or jealousy mentality occur somewhere in our lives.
We see somebody else, you know, doing well at something we wish we were good at or we miss an opportunity to see other people getting to have it or whatever, you know, see somebody else thriving in some way, you know, and it's just like, can we be like, that's okay, it's okay to feel that that court like, well, how could I live in this culture and not feel that, especially because most of us have not gotten all the love and care and attention that we needed because of the little culture that, you know, of course, everybody to spend all the time like terrible jobs and not, you know, caring for each other. But can we have compassion for that and not be like, I'm going to now act that out by like, you know, giving you the silent treatment because you invited someone else on me or whatever it is, you know, like that just like this kind of, I mean, I think this is this is what all counterculture stuff is like, can I live in this society, not be of it? Can I live a different way? Can I try to, can I try to change like my reactions to things? Maybe I can't change my feeling, but can I change my my actions even if I can't change my feeling? Even if I have some of those attitudes floating around in me or some of those like autopilot kind of moves floating around to me, can I still choose behavior that's based on my principles?
And I think one of the things that's wild to me is that people think they can in a lot of other areas, they're like, yes, I can work to try to unlearn my racism or my fat phobia or my ableism, I can work on that my whole life. And yes, those thoughts might still come through my head or those feelings and I can keep, but a lot of people don't feel like that about jealousy. Like so many people I knew were so empowered about about feeling like they can unlearn are just like, I could never, I could never over my relationship because I would feel jealous and I'm just like, as somebody who feels fully jealous, it's just like a lot of other like hard feelings I sometimes have like I'm just like yeah there goes a hard feeling like sometimes I feel like you know really frustrated in movement spaces and then I feel hopeless about our possible how we could possibly ever have any Liberation in the world we're looking there's a lot of really hard feelings out there and yet I endure you know and it's just like and yet I still try to do things I believe in and I'm sad a lot that I think people feel so powerless specifically about Jealousy and and let it be I think I think the story in our culture is That jealousy is intolerable and when I experience jealousy I find that what jealousy is telling me is I am intolerable You must get out of a situation that makes you feel this way and then I like to say oh there goes jealousy telling me It's intolerable when I'm not feeling that I won't feel that way I'll be like oh, I'm so it's so worth it to me to have these other things I get to have I'm trying to live this way and also sometimes I feel the uncomfortable feeling of jealousy in the same way that like I experience the uncomfortable feeling of people's transphobia and a lot of really terrible trans other things happen to me It's still worth it to be trans like I would not change it for anything You know they mean like I would absolutely never go I would never live in what seems like a very uncomfortable small box So that I could avoid you know, so I just think it's like it's just like all of our other liberation Practices like ads it's we're choosing discomfort and just knowing that you have that I don't think everyone needs to do that But just to get out of the story that I absolutely cannot Yes, and I love the example you had referenced of you know You have a best friend that also has other friends and doesn't invite you to the party You don't sit back and then say well now I can no longer have friends You know what because I have jealousy and I wasn't invited and so you know what to protect against that I'm just never gonna have friends again And we don't do that and I think what you're talking about is yes how like the cultural script within our world is that if you have that sort of jealousy It's a reason to not potentially open up your monogamous Relationships to any other structure and even I mean the emotional fidelity gets me like take off sex off the table Just like have let your partner have other deep intimate relationships I mean that makes people just as much as the best friend feel inherently Jealous and we work through that jealousy with best friends Why can't we do the same thing with our partners? I think the word I often use for this is like aliveness like am I Want I want a live my own aliveness to be enhanced my whole life And I want the people I love their aliveness and all people and so if my partner is you're my But if I you know if my if my do all my dates or lovers or boyfriend or whatever Or is taking a dance class and that's and that's making him alive and now I'm like You know it feeling like I wish I had him back on Wednesday nights or why is he whatever?
I wish I could dance or whatever like can I shift from that or if he's having amazing sex with somebody or if he's falling in love Or if he's doing a new art practice, you know like it just like how can I notice that sometimes someone else's aliveness feels like a threat to me? And then say but I believe in cultivating each other's aliveness. So I'm not going to follow that and Try to limit and control another person. I think that that that drive to control is so Central I just thought of like another couple ideas from the book project that I thought might be interesting to you Yeah, tell me one is like I do think it's interesting for us to notice how we are using sex love dating etc like If we are have if we are having a relationship to it that does become like compulsive like for me the word compulsive means that like I feel like I can't I can't start doing things. I want it that I know I want to and I can't stop doing things I know what I stop doing so like that compulsive could mean that words kind of like I'm Pathologizing but just some kind of whatever word would mean for somebody else where it's like basically like I really know I should You know not eat a whole chocolate bar before bed, but I keep doing it like that or I really know I should you know You know do my homework on the weekend and so that I am not you know up all night on Monday But I but then I can't do you know to mean like that kind whatever that thing is where I can't stop or can't start doing something And it and what's really going on is some kind of self-sabotage and the beard's in there It's like a lot of people I know and it has happened at many points in my life Struggled with that around sex and love dating like either like I Can't say no to people if they're offering me attention And so I'm ending up situations where I am but I don't want to be in or I'm not really attracted to this person But I'm having sex with them or where I am or I can't stop escalating like I want the thrill of escalation So even though this situation isn't ideal for me I still keep on ramping it up or I can't stop lying or I can't stop downplaying Or for a lot of people like I can't start like I can't I can't initiate or I just I already think of all the reasons that this person Isn't good enough or you know, I think distance themselves from their sexuality or yeah, or feel so unsafe in it that they prevent it You know needs to be perfect or I can't have it or a lot of people I know like can't stop looking at the apps or can't like just how can we both be really really sex and dating and love and All that stuff and kink positive and acknowledge that some of us play that stuff out with this And so one of the things I think is really complicated that I'm trying to address in the book is like can I notice When stuff is coming out of that kind of deep autopilot place like I'm trying to get my sense of self through that Yeah, I'm trying to you know, or through social media or am I trying to like or I like I'm so I'm Desiring attention so badly that I'm doing things that aren't really great for me to get it or whatever and then and then actually investigate What's under that like what like what is what you know for a lot of us might be childhood stuff I might be previous sexual trauma or other kinds of trauma and might you know And can I find places is there any way to cultivate practices where I can Feel the satisfaction there or where I can Notice when I am receiving attention and care and then you know or like get it in multiple places Not as like also learn to be like I can get the cuddles from my friends or I can get you know I can whatever share Meal time or whatever the things are that I'm that I'm seeking because it's kind of like sometimes There's like barking up the wrong tree like people are trying to get everything from a date That's back to the romance like we're talking about I'm trying to get all my needs met and all my feelings of satisfaction and care and love and being seen and feeling sexy from other people Already, that's problematic and then especially if I'm trying to do it only through sex and dating When it might be good to get some of that from some other sources like it can be really fun to be like my friends think I'm sexy or my friends think I'm cute or my friends Take care of me when I'm sick I don't need a date for that or a friend will go with me to a family event that I need in company for you know So just trying like I think I just want to like name that like I think sometimes when we're in Our like totally pro sex Conversations we miss that we also use sex to wreck ourselves like we use substances and you know like yeah Dining ourselves sleep and whatever and so how can I be both like totally pro sex and anti shame and? Let myself tinker with that balance in my own expression and experience Yeah, what I'm hearing is like this awareness of When we're having a want A need that could take on different shapes right?
Or ignoring a want or need in terms of saying no to sex and other stuff like that like what is the thing that we're wanting? Right out of that dynamic I mean so I'm a sexual assault survivor and that was something that was definitely really tough for me of like being able to Say no in dynamics that I didn't want and so like what was I wanting in that moment? I was wanting security and so in that moment being willing to give up my own personal safety To have security in this dynamic rather than potentially saying no and facing the unknown response of the other person before me Right, so like I feel like again It comes back maybe to that like mindfulness piece of like when we're having these desires to go on apps And like you said like a donut, you know like all these other or at least that's my one I always talk about donuts like I'm you know such a cup or something But when we're having these desires Taking a moment of mindfulness to pause and try to assess like where is this coming from? Is this the best desire for me? Is it aligned with my value system and then being able to have that moment of? Autonomy that comes with the reflection the pause to then decide how we want to show up and obviously that's harder said than done If you're in compulsory habits that have taught you, you know, like we have Neurological systems in our brain when you've done a pattern, you know, you get the dopamine and it hits and so then just like any sort of drug or other connection you can want to have that same sort of Repeat and so I think it gets really difficult when you have that repeated pattern and Then to break that kind of like a drug of anything yeah to take that moment pause and say like what am I actually craving in That moment that I'm replacing with this Yeah, and part of it is that one of the stories of the romance myth in our society and like mythologies around sex Is that like oh my god this desire out of control? I can't help myself And so one of the ways that works is people will do stuff like Wildly, you know cheat on people or break all their agreements and be like oh, I was shot with cuba zero I couldn't help it. Yeah, and that's bullshit like we have to choose and and we are We are choosing and discerning people and and I think in the area of sexuality People will do really and that's also how people justify things like stalking others or something people So I was overcome with this art like that whole rationale is actually a pro rape culture story. So we want to really say, no, actually, if I think I can't control this, what's going on for me?
If I think I cannot stop. And so, you know, one of the things I have in the book, which I think is maybe a little controversial because it feels like it's could be understood as like anti sex love dating, whatever, is I have like a seven step process for de-escalating a crush. Because sometimes you are like, you get crushed out on someone and it's actually not the right time, place or person, like your employee in an environment with a lot of power dynamics and it could and it could be actually that inappropriate and harassing or you realize that maybe this crush is really, really hardcore and emerging because you have some other stuff going on that you're trying to avoid, but it would actually like really wreck you right now to pursue it. And so you want to like not be tortured by it or be able to like admire the person and enjoy that but not have it be like an obsession, whatever. And I think that like just a lot of what the seven steps are right now, but a lot of them are about noticing how do I stoke an obsession and how do I turn it down? So I might stoke it by listening to the songs over and that remind me of the person by like looking at pictures of them again and again or by remembering this thing they said to me or by making unnecessary contact with them. Like one thing I've noticed is that if I want to not, if I want to have a connection, not escalate, I need to not engage in electronic communication.
I like I love words. I'm, you know, so like if I am engaging in like texting or emailing with somebody, and it's got a flirty vibe for me, it's gonna like just go up, right? So like, there's just things like it was like, of course, I want to keep escalating, right? But but some but even just having to certainly like sometimes like this is not the time to escalate this thing. Like just so it's okay, like we don't have to and there's a kind of also scarcity story about sex and love and dating in our society where it's like, if you get a chance to have some, you should go after it at all. You know, at all costs.
Who cares who gets hurt. And so like how to just say all this inside the container being like pro sex, pro everybody having these experiences, but also like just not being laughing a belief that I'm out of control and can't make any decisions. Because then that can just justify it like harming myself and others, you know, I think it's just there's a lot of nuance here because we do live in a shame based society. But I think I've been in a lot of subculture communities where we're just like, we're so pro sex, we're so proud of this, that we never acknowledge that also it's good to have the skill to sometimes like not do things.
Yeah, I mean, when you're talking about being worried that it might be not pro sex, I was thinking of, you know, other metaphors that might put it into a similar context of like, you know, like, I'm pro ice cream, I really am. It's great. You know, it's delicious. At the same time, there's a point at which you've had enough where maybe you shouldn't keep going, maybe you shouldn't open up another pint, maybe you shouldn't go, you know, like working to deescalate the pleasure that you can receive from that into a context that makes, you know, sense to whatever you're doing, maybe you shouldn't eat ice cream every single day for your only meal. Like that's not necessarily as nutritious.
I'm still pro ice cream. It's just like, we do need to recognize that we do have control and not negate that autonomy. Because yeah, you're right, when you start to negate that autonomy, it is a excuse at times where people can use it as an excuse to then do unhealthy, toxic, whatever sort of behaviors through that lens of like, oh, I was just, I was gonna control myself.
The ice cream is so good, I just couldn't stop. And I think that's negating the reality. And I mean, in that context also seeing, you know, there's people with patterns of relationships that have modeled unhealthy dynamics before. And so like, you might be, we might be falling into that myself included at times replaying out dynamics and in that sense feel that lack of control. But always, I mean, that's the work, right? Like, that is the work of figuring out yourself of knowing how to have autonomy and self control. At least that's been my journey, right of like, I'm always attracted to the avoidant attachment style.
Like, it's not good for me, you know, like, how do I use my autonomy, trust myself and go in a different direction. And I think that's all pro sex. I think talking about the risks, informed consent, right?
Like, that is how we get consent. We don't negate the risks that are real, we talk about the risk and let people make that decision with that. I think also like what you just said about how you like avoidance, it's like the partner choice thing, like we it's really hard to feel like we have any control in that. Yes, but actually, you know, it's like, I love alcoholics, like I mean, no one it's like it put me in a room I'll find that for whoever's not calling there is like the sexiest person to me. So turns out I need to find alcoholics who have become sober. Like, they still have that quality, they still give off that quality, but they you know, or if I love people who are unavailable or if I love people who are whenever you can find people who have, who are gonna give they're still gonna give off the external shaping like I love people who are aloof, you know, but I want people who are aloof who actually have emotional awareness and talk about their feelings. They may not have started out that way.
If I met them when we were 25, they may not have been able to but I want people who have done the work. And so I still get the packaging that I find sexy. But I'm like, I have some standards. I'm like, I'm like nonsense. I'm gonna put up with these things that I love. I'm no longer gonna date like people who are like actively ruining their life.
So it's just not fun. So and it bleeds a friend in my life. So I think just like, like finding that we can also become discerning about about the fact that we have those drives and that's different than having like, I'm totally out of control and your creativity was struck. But instead, like, oh, like, I mean, I had a friend recently who started a relationship with someone and it was like, it seemed like there was all this potential and the and realized the person like just didn't have a set of emotional skills that they needed and got out of it. And I was like, wow, I'm really impressed because most of us just don't get out of it.
When it when it's gonna be a painful bad match, it's like, if you know, you need something, basically am I going to be accountable to myself? I've learned this again and again. And yet here I am again.
And I'm dating somebody who's, you know, who's doing this thing that I've again and again said to myself and my friends, hey, that always ends up being hurtful. So just like feeling that like you're describing the word autonomous. Oh, I have enough capacity in myself to be a chooser instead of to just be like, oh, Cuba's era struck and I'm going down this road of misery. And, you know, all my friends are like, Oh, God, there he goes again, you know, like, we're going to be supporting Dean through this again, you know, like, and, you know, which I'm sure they would be lovely about. But you know, everyone's so frustrated when we all just do the same things over and over again, a lot of the book I'm working on is just about like, identifying the patterns, you know, being like, is there a way to have a choice?
I'm looking at the time and realizing I should go. So good to talk to you. I know it has been so lovely just to bounce off ideas and co collaborate together. I do have one question I ask everyone on the podcast to close. And that is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? I think shame. Shame tells you, you're the only one who's like this, you're worse than other people.
If people find out this, they'll leave you. And everyone's feeling shame about something. And some people it's on the surface and some people it's hidden behind a like a mirage of grandiosity. But like, I just it's and shame tells us to hide. It tells us don't clear it up by checking it out with somebody I trust being like, I'm feeling shame about this.
And it almost always reduces it some. So I just I wish that like, and also I think for years and years, a lot of things I felt I didn't identify as shame, or sooner could have known, oh, that's shame talking. It's shame telling you you're too much, you should have done this, you should have done that.
You have to hide this, you have to hide that, you know, and now, now it's still there with me. But it's like, it has less power to poison, I think. Right, you have a different relationship to it, you see it now and are able to respond to it. And I think that's at least for me, this is where mindfulness always comes back, right? Like, even in meditation, you get frustrated, like, why am I struggling to meditate? Like, ah, you know, and it's like, the more you engage with that, the deeper you go into that spiral, rather than like recognizing the shame for what it is. And taking that moment to know that now you're awake, you see it now.
Like, good, like, good, you see it. Now you can go in the direction that you want to go to, which is opening up to other people about it, letting go of that, rather than like, why do I feel shame? It's like, okay, let's move through these emotions with compassion.
And acceptance, I mean, I think also just like, a lot of things are not going to change. I'm going to shame my whole life. I feel anxiety. I may feel like it's like, just like, I, you know, I might have chronic pain.
Like, like I said, I'm desperately trying to figure out how not to have it. Like, I'm sick and take this good care of myself. And also, like, this is life with these things, these are the wounds, these things actually happened to us that gave us these wounds. And, and that kind of like acceptance, I think is so relieving, I suppose I need to become somebody who doesn't have this damage and, you know, all of that stuff. Yeah, yeah, life comes with all the joys and the pains.
And that's the reality. Yeah, this has been so lovely. Is there anywhere for people that you'd want to plug so that they can find your new book, connect with you? Yes, I my new book is not out of that's what we're talking about today.
But all my other stuff is at Dean's Bay dot net. Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet. But truly, it has been such a pleasure to bounce off ideas with another theorist and have this space together. Yeah, really nice to meet you next week. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And if you're a part of the anarchist community, then follow us on Instagram or nominate a guest for the show by sending in a letter to modern anarchy podcast at gmail.com. Otherwise, I'll see you next week.