Sex and intimacy coach Dr. Alison Ash joins SLSP host Tatiana Berindei in this wildly exciting conversation about non-monogamous dating structures. A Stanford-educated sociologist and a wealth of information on the topic of relationships, Dr. Ash shares with us some of the different non-traditional relationship structures that are out there as well as some of the most common issues that can arise when in polyamorous relationships and how to navigate them. If you are curious about non-monogamy and want to learn more, you definitely want to listen to this one!
Hello everyone, welcome to the Sex, Love and SuperPowers podcast show, I am your host Tatiana Berindei, and today I have with me a very special guest, Dr. Alison Ash. And we are going to be discussing navigating the world of polyamorous dating. I am very excited for this conversation because we have not addressed this topic yet on the show, so I’m super happy to have her here. Let me tell you a little bit about her before we get started.
Dr. Alison Ash is a sex and intimacy coach and educator, and the founder of turnon.love. As a sociologist with a PhD from Stanford, she has a comprehensive understanding of the complex societal challenges that often lead to unsatisfying and disempowering sexual experiences. A champion for others overcoming shame and deepening pleasure, Dr. Ash helps her clients radically explore and courageously express themselves. She designs workshops and offers individuals and couples coaching to give others the tools to discover their desires and confidently pursue them.
Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. I’m gonna start you off the way I start off all our lovely guests, by asking you to share with our listeners what are your superpowers.
I love this question. I’ve jokingly called myself an intimacy wizard for the past few years, so I would say that creating and sustaining intimacy, emotional, physical, sexual intimacy, is a superpower of mine, and helping others to do the same.
Beautiful, I love it. We’ve had the pleasure fairy on the show, and we get the intimacy wizard, full cast of characters. That’s awesome.
Pulling a good crew.
Yeah, yeah, for sure, this is a fun show, I’m telling you. So polyamorous dating or non-monogamous relating relationships, give us sort of an overview, because I think that maybe we don’t all have a consensus understanding of what that is when we talk about it.
Sure. I think that if we’re gonna talk about non-monogamy, it’s important just to spend a moment talking about monogamy. Because, as the default, we don’t really define it, and there’s a lot of assumptions about what monogamy means, and there’s actually a lot of variation around what monogamy can look like.
Traditionally, monogamy is defined as one partner for your entire life, and so these days most people who are monogamous are serial monogamists, meaning they have one relationship and then they go to the next. And yet, when we think about monogamy, different couples, especially in different parts of the world or coming from different kinds of religions, are going to view different things as falling under the category of exclusivity or not.
If you kiss your friends on the lips, if you cuddle with your friends, if you confide your deepest secrets and ask for emotional support from your friends, are those things considered cheating? Or are they within bounds of what’s considered monogamy?
Whether you’re monogamous or not, one of the things that I would love for the listeners of this show to leave this episode with is this sense of curiosity and desire to talk with current or future partners and lovers about, “How do we wanna structure our relationship? What feels important to make agreements around? Is there anything that needs to feel exclusive or special between the two of us? Where are we comfortable and open with sharing and exploring, and what feels important to talk about so that we feel safe in this relationship?”
Because safety is paramount in all relationship structures for intimacy to flourish. If you’re monogamous, great, no worries, I don’t have a hierarchy of what is ideal, I think that monogamous relationships can be beautiful. And even though you’re in a monogamous relationship, I think it’s still worthwhile to explore some of these topics.
Now, if we’re thinking about non-monogamous relationships, there are also a thousand ways to organize and structure non-monogamy. You could have couples that are “monogamish”, maybe they’re mostly monogamous but there’s a little wiggle room.
I’ve never heard that one before, I like it.
Yeah, it’s great. For example, some couples have a kissing rule, where they can kiss anybody they want, but maybe not anything more. Or a 100-mile rule, where if they’re 100 miles from one another, they have free rein to do what they want, but if they’re less than 100 miles from each other, or maybe 100 miles from home, they’re monogamous. There’s some really creative arrangements people have created to start to explore some amount of freedom and novelty and variety without completely opening up their relationship.
And I love giving people the encouragement and permission, because sometimes we need permission from others, which is a whole other conversation. But that’s a thing, sometimes people feel like, “Okay, this person said it was okay, I can say it’s okay for myself.” To just explore and to question those boundaries, and to really be willing to dialogue about it and make your own agreements regardless of whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or not.
I think it’s so important, and I can’t stress that enough, how important that is. Because I think the more that we can do that for ourselves in our own relationships, the more we shift the cultural paradigm and the less judgment we have of people who choose to do it differently.
Yes, exactly. And it’s so empowering. When you realize that there’s not a specific way that your relationships have to look or be structured, the whole world opens up to you. And when you realize that there are people out there that are gonna want to engage in the kind of relationship structures that you want, it’s very liberating.
Totally. So we have to go to a quick break. Obviously this is gonna be a very juicy conversation, and you’re gonna wanna stay tuned. So we’ll be right back, we have been talking with Dr. Alison Ash about navigating the world of polyamorous dating. More when we get back. Stay tuned.