My guest is Jim Fleckenstein. He is a coach and educator on sexuality. He is also a researcher who focuses predominantly on non-exclusive relationships and how they affect the individuals involved. He is an expert in consensual non-monogamy and a wellspring of knowledge and insight, which he graciously shares in this episode.
Jim shares stats and information on consensual non-monogamy, how those who practice it are reporting an overwhelming amount of satisfaction and happiness, how emotional needs have a lot to do with those who are drawn towards it, and how these relationship structures are actually much more common than you may have realized.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of this discussion though. Listen along and learn a lot about this interesting topic!
The Three Main Divisions of Consensual Non-Monogamy
To start the interview, Jim breaks down consensual non-monogamy into polyamory, swinging, and open relationships.
Polyamory is separate from the others because there is a chance for a deep emotional connection to be reinforced. While the others are more reserved for sexual acts, polyamory is can delve into the emotional as well as the sexual components of a relationship.
Jim says that swinging is probably the oldest of the trio. And for those who don’t know, it’s a couple-centric act where couples work hard to establish an emotional wall to prevent emotional developments. They also don’t have sex independently of one another.
And in open relationships, partners are free to seek sexual liaisons outside of the primary relationship. Emotional connection is not established, and unlike swingers, they don’t participate in sexual acts together, but do their own thing instead.
Jim says much more within the episode. Listen along!
The Reasons Why Certain People Prefer Consensual Non-Monogamy
For the reasons why people go the non-monogamous route, Jim says it has a lot to do with the emotional needs of the person. He says the question of “what is it that I am trying to attain here?” is a great question to ask to evaluate your emotional needs.
Your needs will determine which version of consensual non-monogamy that you gravitate towards and want to eventually practice–if you do end up deciding that your emotional needs warrant the lifestyle, of course.
Jim also talks about the boundaries that are established and how respecting those boundaries is important for the healthy functioning of any consensual non-monogamous relationship. Tune in!
How Many People are Practicing?
Jim say that it’s difficult to have an accurate number or statistic for those who practice non-monogamous relationships. This is due to the fact that individuals can lose their jobs and their kids because of it, and in addition, it is still highly stigmatized in our country. This leads to a lot of people practicing in clandestine ways.
So, because of these factors, it’s hard to trust the surveys and numbers out there. But according to the stats, Jim says that somewhere between 2-7% of all relationships are practiced through one of the three divisions of consensual non-monogamy.
The Importance of Education
Jim shares a lot of important information on how people learn about polyamory or swinging by attending educational events where people discuss consensual non-monogamy in a non-sexual environment.
Often the trepidations that occur can be alleviated through more understanding. And as is brought up during the episode, some of the concerns of being pressured by a partner into swinging or an open relationship can be addressed once more information is processed. He also makes it clear this needs to be a mutual decision.
Who knows, maybe all it takes is a couple of events and you will comfortable enough with shifting your relationship dynamic! Maybe it will confirm your anxiety. Becoming educated is key! It destigmatizes and demystifies.
Go-To Resources for Jim
He says that his favorite go-to book is Opening Up by Tristan Taormino, for those who are curious about learning about or trying this relationship dynamic. It is a very comprehensive resource. The Ethical Slut is a good book as well, in addition to Designer Relationships.
And for those who may have experienced infidelity, Tammy Nelson has a good book called The New Monogamy for handling the subject.
Key (Affiliate) Links for Jim:
Books he recommends:
Designer Relationships : https://amzn.to/2Jk3k7p
Jim’s website: https://www.affirmativeintimacy.com/