Consensual Non-Monogamy Part I

Jessica Fern
Therapist, Coach, and Author
Jessica Fern
Therapist, Coach, and Author

What does consensual non monogamy have to do with systemic change? It turns out, a lot. This is part one of a two part series exploring love, relationships, and relating in the modern era.

Show Notes

In this episode Jenny and Jessica cover:

  • The prevalence of infidelity and divorce
  • Issues with the modern love story and codependency
  • What is love?  Ideas from bell hooks and Daniel Schmachtenberger
  • What consensual non monogamy (CNM) is
  • Different variations CNM can take depending on emotional and physical exclusivity
  • Why people practice CNM
  • Best practices: defining your why
  • Best practices: defining your what
  • Hierarchy
  • Transparency
  • CNM and attachment theory: the difference between structural and statistical security


"JF: That's a really common thing that people report, is when they did open up from a monogamous relationship, they have this renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for that partner. Because they start to see them in a new light and they realize, "I can't take you for granted. And, wow, there actually are so many amazing things we do for each other, ways we connect." 

[0:00:27] JS: That's Jessica Fern, therapist, coach and author of Polysecure and Polywise. And this is the Denizen podcast. I'm your host and curator, Jenny Stefanotti. In today's episode, we're talking about consensual non-monogamy. Perhaps something that you might be surprised to hear in the Denizen inquiry alongside questions of the future of capitalism and social justice. 

But I actually think this is a quite important conversation that is bound to hit home for most listeners. The Denizen thesis is that change starts from within. It starts with us. And then it starts with how we show up in our relationships an. Athen in our communities and then we go up to a planetary scale in our thesis of systemic change. 

And so, many of you know that in your closest intimate relationships, your personal work is revealed. And in the context of consensual non-monogamy, the complexity relationally actually creates a pressure cooker that in many ways is tremendous for deeper personal growth, deeper upgrades in relational competence. There are amazing lessons to be learned in this container that are relevant for systemic change. 

It's a topic that I'm very passionate about. I talk about it a lot. And I'm really excited to bring it to the community and audience with this conversation. It's such an important conversation that we broke it into two parts. Today's episode gets into the basics and really drops it into context on what's wrong with the modern family structures. And what's wrong with modern paradigms around love? Or what's challenging for many, let's say? 

And then the second part, which we'll publish in a couple of weeks, is about systemic change and consensual non-monogamy. In that conversation, we'll focus on the deep lessons that you learn and why they're relevant for the systems conversation. 

Jessica, as I mentioned, she's a therapist, she's a coach, she's an author of Polyscure and Polywise. They are two of the most tremendous books in this space. Polywise was just published recently and it just really supports people in doing this very hard and complicated work. I'm absolutely thrilled and honored that she joined us for this conversation. She's an amazing person to introduce this topic to all of us. 

What do we get into in this conversation? We talk about what's wrong with the status quo. And then we get into always asking the question of what is consensual non-monogamy? We define the landscape of it. And then we get into a lot of the best practices of how we do it. And the conversation is so relevant not just in consensual non-monogamy, but just so many important nuggets and insights around sustained, healthy, intimate relationships. 

I'm so thrilled to put this out. I'm always really excited about conversations that take the big systems conversation and bring it to things that feel really actionable in our own lives. As always, you can find our show notes on our website, There you can also sign up for our newsletter where we bring our latest content to your inbox alongside announcements from our partner organizations. 

As I mentioned in the last episode, we are gearing up to do more virtual events for the Denizen community, including bi-weekly conversations to talk about the podcast episode. Maybe we'll launch that with the conversation about this one. So, stay tuned because we do have a lot of exciting things happening in the community. We're also about to kick off a book club, reading Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson's Power and Progress. Really interesting, important book that I'm excited to read. A lot of amazing people signed up for that. 

Okay. I know you're waiting at the edge of your seat. I hope you enjoy this really provocative conversation. 


[0:04:09] JS: First of all, I'm so excited. I know I always say I'm so excited. But I'm, besides myself, excited for this conversation. This is something that I find so fascinating, I find so important. I talk about all the time in my personal life. I have never talked about publicly. To have this public conversation with you, I feel so incredibly honored and blessed. It's such a gift. I'm so grateful for you for taking the time to join me for this conversation. You're the perfect person to introduce this to our community and audience. You're been so insightful. I've learned so much from you. First of all, just thank you. 

[0:04:47] JF: Oh, thank you. That means a lot coming from you.

[0:04:50] JS: I want to first talk about just what's wrong with the status quo. I was actually in the audience at TED when Esther Perel gave her talk. And you could hear a pin drop when she was done.

[0:05:05] JF: Yeah.

[0:05:07] JS: And I feel like she's become a cultural phenomenon. Right now, she's got 1.8 million followers on Instagram. And then, Heath, our mutual friend, he has the stat that he always talks about. It's something like 50% of people, polled, say that they're interested in non-monogamy, but only 5% practice it. 

[0:05:28] JF: I think publicly. 

[0:05:31] JS: Publicly practice it?

[0:05:33] JF: Yeah. Because the stats on cheating are horrific. 

[0:05:38] JS: Consensual non-monogamy.

[0:05:39] JF: Yeah. Consensual non-monogamy. Yeah, exactly. 

[0:05:43] JS: What are the stats on – how prevalent is infidelity? 

[0:05:47] JF: Yeah. They range. When you look at several studies, it really depends. But it can be anywhere from 20% to 50% of people admit to having cheated in their marriage. You're like, "Wait. What?" That's admitting, first of all. Not actual. And to think that it's happening at that one-and-two to one-and-five rate is a lot. Yeah. And it varies from men to women too. 

[0:06:16] JS: Well, here's a stat from Heath. One– third of Americans recently indicated their ideal relationship structure is something other than monogamy. And currently, 5% of people are engaging in consensual non-monogamy. And then, also, divorce, which is prevalent, right? It's still 50%. 

[0:06:33] JF: Around. Yeah. It might be like a little less. 

[0:06:37] JS: Infidelity is often the precipitator of that. 

[0:06:40] JF: Right.

[0:06:41] JS: Interestingly, when you read Gotman. And then we'll talk about Gotman. He talks about how infidelity follows from needs not being met in relationships typically. But that leads to breaking up of families and trauma in children's lives. And so, I don't know if you have anything else to say about just what's broken about the status quo. 

[0:07:03] JF: I want to throw in too emotional affairs, right? I think that stat is like 35% to 45% of people admit to having emotional cheating. That's a whole other dimension to add as well. 

[0:07:17] JS: It's so interesting, right? What is emotional cheating? It's having a – 

[0:07:21] JF: Exactly. 

[0:07:22] JS: It's having a relationship of emotional intimacy with someone that you also have romantic feelings for. 

[0:07:27] JF: Right. This is part of the status quo problem. That emotional intimacy with more than one person would be considered a problem.

[0:07:34] JS: But we have emotional intimacy with our friends, right? 

[0:07:39] JF: Yeah. Right. And many people might feel more emotional intimacy with their friends. Things they tell their besties, so to speak, and not their partners.

[0:07:48] JS: Well, I think it's also – there's a lot to be said about how much emotional intimacy is such the basis of healthy, enduring, intimate relationships. You had some really interesting things to say in your book. And I want to bring them out now. Jessica has written two books, which I would say they're both must reads. Polysecure, which marri's consensual non- monogamy with attachment theory. And we'll talk about some key ahas from that today. And then Polywise, which is really a more comprehensive view of consensual non-monogamy specifically looking at the tensions that occur when there's a change or a transition. Whether you're moving into it, or moving from different structures, or introducing a new person. 

That's why I feel like it's an incredibly valuable resource for anyone who's doing this. Because we all deal with those inevitable tensions. And you're so insightful and so concise. And the way that you interweave things together in the book is just – I can't applaud you enough for that effort. And it was very interesting to see that that was actually your first book. And then your publisher encouraged you to do the attachment theory one first.

[0:08:55] JF: Yeah. Or first concept to do. Yeah. But they were written written in that order. The concept for the second book was actually like the first overall thing.

[ 0:09:03 ] JS: Totally. Related to this topic of what's wrong with the status quo, you said some really interesting things in Polywise that I want to bring up now, which is about the modern love story of what true love is. Modern couples and the issue of the culture of the couple and codependency versus differentiation. And what's healthy? And so, I'd love to hear you say some things about that. 

[0:09:31] JF: The modern love story really encourages codependency. This is a whole idea of losing ourselves to the relationship of being only half and finding the other to complete you. And I get it, right? We can hear it and it's like, "Oh, yeah. It feels good. And it feels amazing in finding your twin flame and all of these things." But it really encourages the loss of self not in a transcendent spiritual way, but the loss of healthy selves in the merging of identity in more of this codependent way. Yeah.

[0:10:04] JS: No. I mean, I love that. I mean, there's a lot of nuance in the book around what codependency is versus healthy differentiation. But I thought that was really interesting. And I want to bring in Bell Hooks here. Have you read All About Love

[0:10:16] JF: Yes. I quote it in Polysecure.

[0:10:19] JS: You do? Okay.

[0:10:21] JF: It's been a while though. But, yeah. 

[0:10:21] JS: I've read that one a couple – okay. Because I had a huge aha here in my own work with my husband. Because you get married. What do you do when you get married? You commit to forever. Till death do us part, right? I am chaining myself to the mass no matter what. 

And I hit a moment in my marriage in 2019 where I just I wasn't happy and I was having these thoughts about leaving. And what was crazy is that I mentioned it to my father thinking that my father would be flabbergasted. And my father was like, "I'm surprised it took you this long." My fantasy thoughts suddenly became very real. 

And a dear friend of mine said, "You need to talk to your husband right away." He's a tech entrepreneur. He was very consumed with a big startup. And I was so stressed out for so many years. I didn't want to add to his stress with how he was feeling. There was no room. 

And so, I brought it to him at a really awful time because he was dealing with the backend of that failed startup. And I told him how I was feeling. And it was brutal because I told it to him in a low in his life, where he thought, "Everything is falling apart in my life, but my marriage is great." It turned out his marriage was not in a good place either. 

[0:11:37] JF: Also falling apart.

[0:11:40] JS: But what was fascinating, and we'll get to this too when we get to some of the stuff that was huge ahas about Polysecure, was that he had this story in his head about till death do we part, everything’s fine. Which sets you up to neglect your partner because they're always going to be there forever. 

[0:12:00] JF: You don't have to maintain it. Yeah.

[0:12:01] JS: Yeah. And we're going to get into the big insights from Polysecure around where security comes from and attachment. But it provoked a very interesting inquiry for me around what commitment means. Now back to Bell Hooks' All About Love, she says, "Love is the will to extend oneself for the purposes of one own or another's spiritual growth." 

She goes on to say, "When we see love as the will to nurture one's own or another's spiritual growth revealed through acts of care, respect, knowing and assuming responsibility, the foundation of all love in our life is the same. There's no special love exclusively reserved for romantic partners. Genuine love is the foundation of engagement, with others, with family, with friends, with partners, with everyone we choose to love. While we will necessarily behave differently depending on the nature of the relationship or have varying degrees of commitment, the values that inform our behavior, when rooted in a love ethic, are always the same for any interaction." 

And then she says, "All too often, women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love to endure unkindness or cruelty to forgive and forget. When in actuality, when we love rightly, we know that a healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm's way." 

And this was my big aha about this, that self-love, if all love is the same, self-love, and we're going to talk about hierarchies. But you have to put yourself at the top of the hierarchy. And so – yeah.

[0:13:35] JF: Or at least be in the circle. I think that's what happens is so many women don't put themselves within the circle of love or of the people that they're with and caring for. Yeah.

[0:13:47] JS: Well, yeah. I think, again, to go back to the social narratives about what love and care is, it's like love being about codependency where you lose yourself. And if you look at the modern stories of what a good mom is, it's like doing something for yourself feels like a bad mom. 

[0:14:07] JF: Yeah. It's so common. I hear it all the time. I know it myself, as mothers, we think we're selfish for the basic needs. 

[0:14:17] JS: Yeah. So that Bell Hooks read was really eye-opening for me to just think about what love is. Because it's not always clear. And then this differentiation between romantic versus – Bell Hooks says, "Okay, love is the same for everyone." 

I'm curious what your take is between the distinction between love and in love. I'm sure you've had couples come to you and say, "I love him, but I'm not in love with him anymore." How do you think about that? What's your response to that? 

[0:14:44] JF: Yeah, I've experienced it myself, where someone I was in love with, I didn't feel in love with anymore. But there was a deep love for them as a human. 

[0:14:52] JS: And how do you distinguish between being in love and love? 

[0:14:55] JF: Yeah. I think in love has at least two things here. First, there's just the initial new relationship energy. There so many hormones associated with this. We're altered. We're in a different state. We're in an altered state. And we think that's in love because we have this obsession, this hyperfocus that's led through chemicals on this person. And that they're all we think about. It's awesome. 

[0:15:25] JS: And a complete hijack to your life.

[0:15:27] JF: Right. Exactly. It hijacks your life. We stay up later than we normally could, right? All the things. And we usually show up at our sweetest, and our best, and our sexiest, and our most luscious, our most giving. It elevates our state. And so, we're not necessarily functioning at our baseline level of development. 

A lot of us think in love is just that honeymoon phase, right? And that is a temporary phase. And we will fall out of love from that perspective. And hopefully, we have deep attachment and deep bonding so that we have deep love with somebody and respect. But I think there are couples that are no longer in that hormone-induced, honeymoon, new relationship energy and they're still in love. And I love, love the way they talk about it. I think they never lost admiration for their partner. There's this sense of just adoring and admiring the other person and who they are.

[0:16:30] JS: Okay. I have to pause. Because this is fascinating. Because when you read Gotman's book, which I know you have, he talks about the basis for healthy, enduring relationship being friendship. Because when you have a strong friendship, you have a more positive lens on everything. And the basis for friendship being respect and admiration. And so long as you have respect and admiration, there's hope. And if you don't, you're hosed.

[0:16:53] JF: Yeah. I think so. And I have felt that with even partners that I was in love with, I did love. And then for certain reasons, I lost respect for them. And I was even looking back in a journal recently and I was like, "Oh, that's when the relation –" it took 6 months later for us to end. But that's when the relationship ended. When I was writing, I've lost respect for who they are and how they are in the world, you know? Yeah. 

[0:17:19] JS: I mean, it's interesting when you think about respect and deconstruct and the nuance of it. There's some things that you do respect and some things that you don't. And Gotman talks a lot about critical narratives taking hold. And we know a lot about neuroplasticity and just taking a frame of gratitude and the five-minute journal. You write about gratitude every day and you rewire your brain to be more – you can do that in your relationships too.

[0:17:41] JF: Yeah, I think to an extent. 

[0:17:42] JS: Yeah. 100%. 

[0:17:44] JF: Because I think there's a way that – we were talking about women a moment ago with the Bell Hooks. But as women, we tend to want to contort ourselves to like, "Well, if I just reframe it enough, then he'll be okay." 

[0:17:55] JS: This speaks to how much we are in our heads as a society and not fully in our bodies as sources of intelligence around our partners. I had this really incredible experience with this woman. She worked with couples, with married couples and people who are moving into open spaces. And she had been on this journey herself. And she talked about how, when she meets someone new, she checks in with her head, her heart, her gut and her pussy to ask herself how she's feeling about this particular person. 

And it was such an aha moment for me because I was like, "Wow. I –" and we all spend such a disproportionate time in our head rationalizing everything and not sufficiently waiting these other sources of knowing. 

[0:18:40] JF: Exactly. Yeah. I love that. The four points to check in with. Yeah. 

[0:18:45] JS: But it's also really interesting all the stuff that Esther is doing around what is the basis for sexual attraction and energy. It's a scope for this conversation just about how the dominant paradigm of the dyad with increased pressure on what they are in the world. And also, how they parent as a recipe for kind of killing that, which I think is also another element of that, not just admiration, but in love, is just the extent to which you retain this sexual connection and passion in a container that's really well-designed to kill it.

[0:19:16] JF: Yeah.

[0:19:16] JS: It's just a really interesting inquiry. Because I think that societies, which you say so eloquently in the book, is in so many ways ingraining in these narratives about love which aren't healthy. 

[0:19:27] JF: Right. And even the language of falling in love, where I'm kind of helpless to it. I'm a victim. I fell in love. Versus the choice of love. That would be the other thing I really hear in couples. 

[0:19:42] JS: Interesting. Because how much control do we have over that neurochemistry? I mean, if we're aware of it, we can be like, "Oh, this is starting. I'm going to stop interacting with you." Whereas Bell Hooks talks about love as an act, not a feeling. Where there's certainly agency and choice. 

[0:19:58] JF: Yeah, that's what I'm saying, is couples that describe being in love even after the honeymoon phase. What I hear them describe is making the choice every day. I'm choosing this person as my partner and I'm making the choice to behave in the ways that cherish them, that show that I'm yeah in love with them. 

And sort of like what you were saying with your husband. If we have this overarching narrative, till death do us part, we're not in choice anymore. We're in obligation. Right. Yeah. 

[0:20:28] JS: Yeah. Amazing. 

[0:20:31] JF: And we can become really complacent, unintentionally, yeah. 

[0:20:34] JS: Yeah. Which was the biggest aha out of Polysecure, which we'll get to. There's some things to cover first. Because that was my biggest takeaway from that book. I'm going to bring in something about love from one of this community's favorite intellectuals, Daniel Schmachtenberger. Have you ever heard of him? 

[0:20:51] JF: I've heard of him. Yeah.

[0:20:51] JS: He talks a lot about the meta crisis and AI. He's extraordinarily intelligent. But he actually has a really incredible essay about love called What Loving You Means to Me. And I'm just going to read a little passage from it. And this is going to be a great bridge into CNM, consensual non-monogamy, "If I want something from you, I see everything you do and say for how it affects me. So I really only see me and you become a commodity. That is not what love means to me. I seek to see you for you. The unique expression of life that you are independent of me. I seek to know you as you are that I may love you as that. Next, it means that I want for you. Everything beautiful and enriching, everything positive that you want for yourself, I delight in your happiness and celebrate everything that brings you joy."

[0:21:40] JF: That's beautiful.

[0:21:41] JS: Well, it's really interesting now, again, bridge this version of love. 

[0:21:45] JF: Mm-hmm. The CNM. 

[0:21:47] JS: I can double-click and debate this, but let's just take that for what it is because it's pretty powerful. Because if that is true, then you don't want to constrain the freedom of your partner and not let them have experiences of connection and sexual fulfillment with others. Particularly from whatever early 30s until death do you part.

[0:22:07] JF: Yeah. 

[0:22:08] JS: Right? Because the beauty of the NRE will never be felt again if you make that choice and stay monogamous for the rest of your life, for example. Okay. It usually doesn't take me 20 minutes to get to this very basic question, but in this case, I wanted to have that arc to get into it. I always want to make sure that we're clear about language. What is consensual non-monogamy? 

[0:22:33] JF: Great. It is an umbrella term for people practicing different forms of sexual or emotional relations with multiple people. And the consenting part is key that everyone knows. Non-consensual non-monogamy would be cheating. But in this case, everyone's on board with, we'll have multiple lovers or partners. 

[0:23:01] JS: Great. Let's talk a little bit more about the CNM landscape. What the scope of that is? You've got a great 2x2 in Polysecure.

[0:23:10] JF: Yeah. It is how much emotional exclusivity or openness you have and how much sexual exclusivity or emotional openness you have.

[0:23:19] JS: Can you just articulate some of the big common places that people land in this quadrant? 

[0:23:24] JF: Right. Monogamy would typically be people are emotionally exclusive and sexually exclusive. And if you have multiple partners outside of that, then you're cheating in some way. Swingers, which are usually, not always, but usually couples who are seeking out other couples or a third to have sexual play with, they're usually emotionally exclusive, but sexually open. And then something like polyamory is people who are emotionally non-exclusive and sexually non-exclusive. There's multiple lovers, multiple sexual partners. 

[0:24:02] JS: And then how do you distinguish between open relationship and polyamory – yeah. Because I think there's a slight distinction. And I know there's a kind of menu in terms of, for example, secure connection versus secure attachment.

[0:24:13] JF: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And of course, and I say it in the book too, when anyone says what their style is, don't assume you know that definition even if you know it. Just ask them, "What does that mean to you? What's your open marriage like?" Or how do you practice polyamory? Right? 

[0:24:29] JS: I'll say it now because this is one of my favorite quotes from all of our conversations. And it so applies here. Are you familiar with the co-op form of a company? 

[0:24:37] JF: Aha. Yeah. And so, when the co-op conversation – I talked to some people who run an accelerator and one of them said, "You've seen one co-op and you've seen one co-op." 

[0:24:48] JF: That's great. Not you've seen them all. You've only seen that one.

[0:24:52] JS: Yeah. the landscape of ways that you can define and govern a co-op is so vast that every single one is unique. And I feel like that so abundantly applies here too. 

[0:25:04] JF: Exactly. Right. But typically, just for people listening, when people say they're in an open relationship or open marriage, they usually mean that I have a primary partner or a spouse. We live together. We share life together. And then we have partners on the side, which are usually more casual sex, but not always. It could be a secondary partner.

[0:25:26] JS: And then polyamory assumes secure attachment? 

[0:25:30] JF: Not necessarily that there's secure attachment. But, yes, that you are looking to have in love experiences, partnerships, boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever you want to call people with more than one person. Yeah, relationships.

[0:25:44] JS: I want to get a little bit more into some of those details around the landscape and the nuance of them. But I don't want to get there yet. Because, first, in this intro to CNM part, I didn't want to touch on why people do this. Because I do think there is a reflexive, often very judgmental response of this is about sex. When in actuality, if you pull people, you get a very different answer. I just love to hear your take on why people do this.

[0:26:12] JF: Yeah. Right. The judgment is usually that it's about sex or it's about a commitment issue with the person or an attachment problem that they have. And that doesn't seem to pan out when you actually ask people and study people doing this. 

And there's a whole variety of reasons. Some of it is sex though. I really don't want to pathologize that. There's nothing wrong with wanting sexual diversity. And a lot of people go into CNM because that's how they feel they're wired. Or it's just what they want, right? Or their primary part doesn't have the same sexual style as them. And there's other types of sexual experiences or styles they want to go into. Like, kink or BDSM. 

But most people don't say that at the top of their list. They actually say that it's about the social experiences. It's about having multiple needs met. It's about having interests and more people to share them with. It's about having more love and more support. And a lot of people, it's political, it's feminist. It's looking at the status quo and saying, "This is a mess. And this isn't working." And let's be honest, right? Right? And for many people, they actually call their non-monogamy their orientation. It's an identity, which is their two different things. Yeah.

[0:27:31] JS: This is an important distinction that you bring up is the difference between non-monogamy as an orientation versus non-monogamy as a lifestyle choice. 

[0:27:37] JF: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I really see people situated in that whole spectrum.

[0:27:43] JS: That isn't obvious to me when I say those words, what the distinction is. Why don't we double-click on that? Yeah. 

[0:27:48] JF: Great. Lifestyle choice, let's emphasize the word choice, it's like, "Oh, I'm choosing this. I could do it. I could not do it. I'm curious about it. I'll experiment with it. Maybe it depends on the partner I'm with or the phase of life that I'm in, right?" There's a lot of people that post-divorce have this non-monogamous phase, right? Or a lot of people in their 20s are assuming non-monogamy more. That they would be dating multiple people until they declare exclusivity. 

It's a lifestyle that people are choosing, but they don't necessarily feel like they have to have it or else they're not themselves. Orientation feels like this isn't a choice. This is who I am. I'm not actually consciously choosing the same way that some people feel that way about gender or sexual orientation. I'm not choosing to be attracted to these genders, right? It's just what is. 

[0:28:43] JS: I'm curious what you consider yourself.

[0:28:46] JF: That's a great question. I feel ambiamorous. I feel like – or I'm polyamorous by orientation. Like, the essence of my being. I do feel wired to be with more than one person. But that doesn't mean I'm always with more than one person.

[0:29:01] JS: Yeah. Because that's why I was going to ask you. Because I remember reading about, I had this moment where I just couldn't take multiple relationships. I just needed the simplicity of one. 

[0:29:14] JF: Yeah. And that's a truth. And that's okay, right? Just because I feel like my being is polyamorous, I've expressed that in my life, that doesn't mean it's always the best thing. It's not even always possible. 

[0:29:26] JS: Yeah. I guess I haven't said it yet. But my husband and I have been on this path for several years now, which is why it's one of my favorite things to talk about in private. Because I think it is so interesting and unexpected in a systems change conversation. But I think love, and sex, and family and how we do that was such an enormous part of what the future would be if it was different. We talked about all the things that are clear to be broken – I mean, you can talk about why did we land in this nuclear family in the first place? We didn't used to live this way. Right? What of patriarchy, and capitalism and this story of success around – just don't get me started. So much of what's wrong is what led us to the current paradigm that is breaking. There's so much that's relevant around that. 

But when my husband and I sit down and we inquire why are we doing this, there are a handful of reasons. But one of the big ones actually is that it's really good for our relationship. Because it, and you have a chapter named this, exposes the cracks in the foundation. It surfaces things that are down there that would not be raised otherwise because it puts us in a little bit of a pressure cooker. And so, that I think is so interesting. 

And then, also, people just site – and we're going to talk a little bit more about this in the systems change part of our conversation, but just the personal growth is what I here time and time again. 

[0:30:47] JF: Yes, it's definitely an evolutionary path. Some people feel it's a spiritual path to their growth. Because it is more complex to have multiple relationships. And your skill base at least and your capacity has to expand around things like communication at the very least. Right? Conscious communication. 

[0:31:08] JS: Which we're going to get into. Yeah.

[0:31:10] JF: Yeah. Yeah. It does really enhance personal growth for better or worse. Because then you have to look at a lot of the shadow or the things that haven't been growing.

[0:31:20] JS: In the same way that even just the dyad, the intimate dyad forces you to do work on yourself that you could skate by otherwise. And then CNM forces that on the dyad. It also pushes down into the individual and I think facilitates. There's some growth that would come out in the context of a two-person situation. But there are other big pieces of growth that come out specifically around this. And we're going to get to that in the conversation that I think are really fascinating when we look at systemic change. 

I also just want to bring in with respect to the benefits of the self. Something that is so interesting when you get into this in the book, the evolution of the self. We're kids and we don't really know what's happening. And then we become teenagers and we start to understand ourselves and we get selfish. And then we go to this moment of being socialized. And that's where most adults stay. 

[0:32:11] JF: Yes. Self. Yeah. 

[0:32:12] JS: And then there's an additional layer of, "Okay. Now I start to actually turn inwards and trust myself. I'm not afraid to be that, vis-a-vis, the dominant social norms." We're going to close this conversation with this. But I want to say, now, when we're talking about the benefits, is something that has been like really encompass for me in my life, which is the regrets of the dying. And the number one regret of the dying is, "I wish I've had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life that others expected of me." 

[0:32:42] JF: Yeah. Wow. That's exactly someone pointing to the developmental stages, that they stayed in the socialized, social-conforming place and they never moved into self-authoring.

[0:32:54] JS: Yeah. Exactly.

[0:32:56] JF: And yet, they could feel that self-authoring was there and possible. 

[0:33:00] JS: I want to touch very briefly on something within the CNM landscape that I think is useful, which is just this question of hierarchy. Because I know that there are debates about how ethical it is for there to be a hierarchy. And also, per my insights around Bell Hooks and love and self-love, and what commitment means when you have room for self-love. I believe that the self, we have to be at the top of the hierarchy. Because at the end of the day, who's going to make sure our needs are met other than us? 

But I just love for you to touch on briefly the ethical debates around hierarchy. What that actually looks like in practice? Because I think we can conceptually talk about that. But when it comes down to moments of decision-making in the same way that we can talk about the future of capitalism, but the rubber hits the road in corporate governance. Right? We can talk about what's ethical about how the rubber meets the road and how that space is governed in the three people that are involved or more. 

[0:33:54] JF: Right. Great. I'll define it a little and then you ask more questions about it. When people are talking about hierarchy, they're talking about the ranking system of one partner is the primary. They're at the top of the hierarchy. And then other partners are ranked as secondary or tertiary partners. And they have less decision-making power, less time, less resources. Those are usually the things. 

And so, that's typically how we see that there's a hierarchy. And they're usually talking about couples that are married and have opened up their marriage. And what it means to be in relationship to that and there's still a hierarchy in place. But a lot of people are trying to practice non-hierarchical polyamory where they're saying none of my partners are more or less than together. Everyone's allowed at the table or on an equal playing field. And I don't love anyone more or less. Or I try to share myself resources of time, and love and attention as equally as I can or as balanced as I can. 

And people that have this hierarchy, where it's like you're always going to be lesser than. And my partner who's primary could veto and have an influence on our relationship without your say. That's where the biggest ethical problem comes into play. That someone could not have rights to make decisions in their own relationship with a partner. That's the biggest challenge. 

[0:35:21] JS: What's interesting to me is I feel like, in our case, our family is the primary important thing, right? And so, we have co- defined the space that our partners on the side can inhabit based on that prioritization. And also, our sense of what feels healthy for our own partnership. And I would note that it's fascinating what a moving target that can be. And that this may put us in the descriptive and not prescriptive hierarchy state. But I think there are some hard boundaries that are there. 

But we definitely hold the view of this is a very dynamic thing. We get more comfortable with this as we tread this path. We're open to reconsidering any of those boundaries for whatever reason at any time. But we're living in the same house raising our kids, which means that we will not be cohabitating with another partner period. 

There is something interesting that I do feel that is ethical to define the boundaries and present that to potential other partners as this is what you're opting into. They have the agency to make that choice, right? 

[0:36:28] JF: Exactly. Yeah. And that's where I don't – I'm not anti-hierarchy. Because what's happened in this backlash within certain non-monogamous communities is people are saying they're non-hierarchical and, wow, they actually are hierarchical in practice. And their partners don't feel like they're being cared for in the way they were promised in this through the we're non-hierarchical. 

And so, to me, it's actually saying there's always hierarchy. At the very minimum, there's time hierarchy, right? I'm not going to celebrate a holiday with someone I met in the last three to six months most likely. Whereas, yes, I have holiday rituals with my partners of one to 20 years. That's just time hierarchy, right? And it doesn't mean my love might be any less for that new person. Right?

[0:37:16] JS: Yeah. And also, it's just very dynamic. For me, again, it's like here's the container. This is what you're signing up for. You're choosing to sign up for that. There are upper bounds to what I can give you. And I actually think there's something really beautiful about saying that happily ever story that we've been told love should be is not available here. Can you just be present to the moment of connection that is available to you? I think there's something really beautiful with that personally.

[0:37:48] JF: Yeah. Well, I think it's fine to say we're not going to do certain aspects of life together. But we do have these defined domains of a relationship. And let's enjoy the hell out of them. Yeah. 

[0:37:59] JS: Yeah. Well, but then I think it is like, okay, so those boundaries are set by some dyad in the space. So it's hierarchical in that sense. But then once you opt into that container, I think it's interesting, again, to say like what does this look like in practice? What does it look like when the rubber hits the road? 

Personally, when someone is in the container with us, see it is an absolute last resort to constrain the existing dynamic of that relationship. Sometimes it's called on. But I think if we're all coming into the container with care for one another and anyone who comes in the container with me and my husband has to come in with care for our family and our marriage. Or else, just doesn't work. 

But it is really interesting to just talk about, okay, what does it look like in practice in terms of process when you do have not two people whose needs are to be considered, but three? I have big thoughts that I've learned from nonviolent communication that I think are very interesting. I'm curious what your thoughts are around what does it look like in practice? 

[0:38:54] JF: Yeah. You mean how everyone's needs is being managed? Yeah.

[0:38:57] JS: Yeah. Particularly in a context where there is a hierarchy, but within the container that has been offered to and signed up for the secondary or tertiary partners. If we even want to use those words. And I know those terms are debatable too.

[0:39:11] JF: Totally. Yeah. I think it's – well, I love what you're saying and agree that when we come to these relationships with love and care for everyone, then it's not going to be as rigid of a hierarchy or about a power over hierarchy. Even situating the conversations people have of, "Okay, there are some limits. There are some places that this one relationship isn't going to go over this relationship." How do we do this with power with? Not power over? 

[0:39:40] JS: Yep. Yeah. 

[0:39:40] JF: And allowing everyone's needs to at least be brought to light, acknowledged, negotiated. That's a very different place. And just you can't have this because we were first. 

[0:39:52] JS: There were some interesting things that you had in Polywise in the beginning about vessels. And when vessels are necessary and when they're productive versus unhealthy. Maybe say a little bit about that.

[0:40:03] JF: Yeah. Yeah. Vessels, it actually came from a client I was working with years ago. That in order to help them open up for their marriage, from monogamy, the non-monogamy, we realized, "Oh, this needs to be tit trated." It was a husband and wife. And that she could have endless suitors and partners coming into the picture. It was just too dysregulating for him. 

And so, he was really struggling with the constant flux of partners. Where she had stable partners. They came up with this idea or we came up in our work together of, "Okay, what if you have these two other partners outside of the marriage and just do this? Let's just do this for three months." And just even suggesting it – and he was like his whole body just melted. Like, "Oh, my God. That would be manageable." These two partners and then potentially three to four other ones, I can't manage it yet. 

That's where the idea was sparked from. He wasn't saying no to non-monogamy. He wasn't saying no to her being in love or having sex with other people. But he was like can we do this at a slower pace so that my nervous system and my attachment system can catch up? And then after three months, they assessed, "Okay, what's it now? I need another month or two." 

But in that time, he's not just not doing work. He's really working on himself. Healing his attachment. Expanding what he could hold. And then they could keep opening or expanding that vessel. 

[0:41:30] JS: One of the things that I've learned, which is really fascinating, is just how incredibly hyperdynamic the nature of this is. I will sit down and define a set of boundaries based on what conceptually feels good. But, again, we're talking about being embodied versus being in our heads. When we actually get to that new threshold that I have not experienced in my body yet, I might feel totally differently, right? 

And we need to lead with care for each other because this is such a delicate space. And so, we have to be aware that this distinction between what conceptually you said felt good as a boundary versus how you actually feel in an embodied state I think requires care and understanding that just because you said you would feel this way doesn't mean you will. 

[0:42:10] JF: Yeah. And that's so common. We don't know – there's a lot of retrospective learning in non-monogamy. We have ideas about what it might be and it's not till we go through certain thresholds of like, "Oh, that's not exactly what I thought." 

[0:42:24] JS: Yeah. Because, again, the rational versus the embodied experience. But what's also really interesting to me just related to that in this question of vessels, your nervous system may be limited in its ability to process because of things that have nothing to do with consensual non-monogamy. Both my parents died last year. Three months apart. And my husband, I was a little bit ahead of him. My husband was fairly new and exploring the space. And he was going to a festival. And so, we had this conversation of, "Should I not do anything?" And I said, "No. You should." 

But he came back in NRE. And this is the first time he had really done much. And I was like, "Whoa. I thought you were just going to have a couple of fun nights with a random person. Not that." And so, it was just in that current state of my overarching nervous system like a lot for me to take in. 

And so, we had him hold on that until we got into a better place and then opened it up again. But sometimes you need to shut it down because your nervous system can't handle it because of exogenous factors. 

[0:43:33] JF: Yeah. And I think that's the perfect example. When there's death of family members, sometimes when there's a new baby being born, there's even like a loss of a job, right? That it's not about relational things in terms of non-monogamy. But to say, "Yeah, this is too much. I need to pause." Yeah. 

[0:43:52] JS: Yeah. And that's important. And I also think that, particularly for the primary partner, when you're moving the threshold of the agreements out and getting comfortable with your partner or having increasing levels of attachment and emotional intimacy with someone else, the pace of that and having care for that is really critical. 

But again, a more ethical way to do that would be in partnership with all parties involved who care for one another, right? Versus I'm at the top of the totem pole, what I say goes. 

[0:44:26] JF: Yeah, more of a power over like we said or competitive. 

[0:44:30] JS: Well, that was the interesting thing when you talk about vessels. You mentioned that you see it working when there are two of three things in place. What were those things? 

[0:44:38] JF: Oh. What did I say? 

[0:44:42] JS: I can tell you two of them. I can't remember the third.

[0:44:46] JF: I can pull them up in my mind. Yeah.

[0:44:47] JS: It was support for the couple. Therapeutic support for the couple. therapeutic support for one of them. And then there was a third thing.

[0:44:54] JF: I think it would be a defined amount of time. Why you're doing this? And that it's not forever. But what did I say? 

[0:45:02] JS: I don't know. I'll find it. But then you said some of the things that weren't healthy about vessels.

[0:45:07] JF: Exactly. If you're trying to just not have to deal with certain feelings or you're trying to control your partner from having certain feelings or certain experiences with somebody else. Yeah. Not the best way to do a vessel. Exactly.

[0:45:20] JS: Yeah. I'm so sensitive to two. Once someone is in the container, minimizing messing with that unless it's absolutely necessary. But there's no need to bring new people in at a suboptimal time. You can always do that next week, or next month, or whatever.

[0:45:36] JF: Yeah. 

[0:45:36] JS: Let's talk about best practices. Because I think that this is really interesting. I had a really deep conversation with some dear friends who are doing this and have this meaningful trauma happen in their experience. And I was trying to support them through it. 

In that conversation, I discerned that there were some basic things that they hadn't yet clarified to inform what they were doing. And I know this is 101. And there's so much sophistication to talk about. But I think if we're doing justice to bringing this conversation to the audience, we should talk about it. What do you feel like our best practices for people who are stepping into this space? 

[0:46:11] JF: Yeah. I think defining why. Defining your why, right? Why do you want to do this? Why do you feel like you need to do this? Why is this important to you is so important. And that you can come back to like decades later. Because the why will change. It can evolve. 

But understanding your why and understanding your partner's why is really important. And any new people you meet, I would ask that, "Oh, why are you practicing this? Why are you living this way?" Right? Why do you feel this is who you are fundamentally? 

Yeah. Because that's going to open up a lot, right? Because it also would reveal, "Well, I'm doing this to supplement a marriage I'm not happy in," let's say. Or a relationship. Of course, we might outsource certain things to different relationships. But we shouldn't be outsourcing basic relationship needs.

[0:47:01] JS: It's really interesting. We sit with this question a lot. Where are we complimenting versus substituting? And how do we discern that feels like a not necessarily obvious to discern line.

[0:47:13] JF: Yeah. Exactly. And sometimes I think it changes. We think we're substituting and then we realize we're fully outsourcing. 

[0:47:22] JS: You mean you think we're complimenting, but we're substituting.

[0:47:24] JF: Complimenting. Yes. Thank you. Right. We think we're complimenting, but we actually are fully outsourcing. And some of that is because, as we have new experiences with new people, there's certain things that we didn't realize might have been like, "Oh, I didn't realise this is a fundamental need for me until I got it met in another relationship." And now it's a non-negotiable. Or now it's a – which is a tough one. It's just a tough one when with other relationships you're in might not offer that need, right? 

[0:47:54] JS: I'm going to jump to – we're going to come back to this. But I'm going to make this point now because it makes me think of it what you just said. The biggest aha for me in Polysecure was what you said about the distinction between structural and what I will call statistical attachment, right? 

[0:48:13] JF: Hmm. What's statistical? 

[0:48:15] JS: I'll explain. Right. Security in traditional monogamy comes from the ring on your finger, the wedding that you had, the promises that you made, the shared bank account, the house, right? 

[0:48:30] JF: The structural elements of a relationship. 

[0:48:33] JS: The happily ever after. Which as we already talked about, sets us up to actually neglect the relationship. Because it's forever, right? When we talk about attachment, attachment theory comes from childhood. Where does secure attachment come from? It comes from repeated instances of you needing your caretaker and your caretaker being there for you, right? 

When I talk about sadistic attachment, I mean there is a data set that you can extrapolate from and that says this person will be there for me. If you look at some other research around what makes marriages fail or not, Gotman has some really big insights, but another one is this notion of emotional bids, which I'd say is not so much emotional. It's just bids for getting your needs met. 

[0:49:21] JF: And bids for like connection and attention. 

[0:49:23] JS: Exactly. Connection, attention. But it's also like considered a bid, "Will you go grocery shopping for me?" That's just part of a partnership. And so, I think if an insufficient fraction of those bids are unmet, then the relationship tends to break down. 

And so, a secure attachment comes from your partner consistently actually being there for you, which is so interesting. Because the insight here is that monogamy actually sets us up to not do the very thing that we need.

[0:49:50] JF: Yes. Especially because I talk about it as our relational experience, right? That's what I want our attachment, the security to come from.

[0:50:00] JS: 100%.

[0:50:01] JF: Yeah. How do I feel with you? How do you feel with me? Can we depend and rely on each other? Do we trust each other? Do we enjoy each other? Versus, "Well, I conceptually know you love me because we're committed, and we have kids and we have the house. But I don't actually feel loved by you." 

[0:50:17] JS: Yeah. Because you're like, "I don't need to worry about date night. I got to work late tonight." And again, so many of the pieces of the puzzle, the nuclear family, the expectations of women having the career outside. And then, also, people spend more time parenting now than they used to despite the fact that they work more, right? Because the norms around what makes a good parent have shifted. There's a whole thing there too. 

But I think what – my huge aha was, "Oh, wow. This is so fascinating that CNM actually, to some extent, it puts in place an inherent vulnerability." That means that if you don't show up for your partner, they're going to find someone else who will. 

[0:50:56] JF: Exactly. It keeps us on our toes.

[0:50:59] JS: In a healthy way, I think.

[0:51:00] JF: Yeah. My partner has been leveraging the word vigilance. Because we often talk about hypervigilance in relationship around especially preoccupied anxious attachment when, "Oh, I'm feeling hypervigilant." He was like, "But we need healthy vigilance." And I was like, "You're right." He's like, "If I'm not vigilant, I'm going to lose you, because I will." And I was like, "You're right." 

[0:51:23] JS: It's so much healthier and it's just really interesting in thinking about transitions in relationships. Where in monogamy, you just feel stuck and there's so much fear of being alone, and what the alternative looks like, and I don't know, and is this as good as it's going to get for me? Because one of the things I realized is there's a certain kind of threshold of you check all the boxes that you could be a great part for me. And you have a set of criteria and nobody's going to check all the boxes. And you're going to get an aggregate score depending on how you weight those various things. And anybody that crosses that threshold is a potentially viable partner. You're going to get just different variations. 

And I should add, actually, one of the things that I found is so great about CNM for the primary relationship, not just the cracks and the foundation, but also it makes you appreciate things you take for granted about your partner. Because those are frustrations that you have with additional people in your lives. That's been my experience.

[0:52:14] JF: Yeah. Right. Exactly. And that's a really common thing that people report is, when they did open up from a monogamous relationship, they have this renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for that partner.

[0:52:29] JS: Yeah.

[0:52:29] JF: Because they start to see them in a new light and they realize, "I can't take you for granted." And, wow, there actually are so many amazing things we do for each other and ways we connect. 

[0:52:39] JS: Yeah. And also, such gratitude to be in relationship with you get to have those experiences and get to have that freedom.

[0:52:48] JF: Mm-hmm. 

[0:52:49] JS: I want to talk a little bit more on the best practices stuff. Being clear about the why was one of the thing that you mentioned. There's also just the putting it into practice component.

[0:52:57] JF: Yep. Yeah. That's sort of the what and the how, right? Is what type of non-monogamy? The styles that we were referencing before. The different ways of doing it just. Because you're doing non-monogamy does not mean you're actually compatible with someone else doing non-monogamy. Because the way you want to do it might be very different and actually not compatible. How you want to do it? How you want to roll it out? And feeling that you understand even – so if you're not in the same how or what, that you understand each other's enough and that you feel like it's bridgeable. And you respect the other person's way.

[0:53:36] JS: One of the other things that you mentioned is when in the – I think it's the differences. Just the need to clarify the risk that you have when there's ambiguity with some things. 

[0:53:45] JF: Mm-hmm. Yes. Having agreements is one of the best-known practices. And those agreements will change. But honestly, just writing, getting it down in a document your different agreements. And having that mission statement of why are we doing this? What are we hoping to do? And then what are our agreements rooms? 

[0:54:07] JS: One of the things that was very interesting in my process with my husband around this is when we drew up our agreements, we made a distinction between rules versus principles. Say more of what that brought up for you.

[0:54:19] JF: Well, ideally, we're in a principles-based agreement system and commitment to each other. That to me is more when it's coming from the inside-out.

[0:54:28] JS: What is the distinction between rules versus principles when I say that to you? Because it may not be obvious to the audience. 

[0:54:33] JF: Yeah. And it might be different between you and I. Rules are going to be hard rules that we're imposing on each other. You can't do this. You can do that. You have to do it this way or else you broke the rule and you're in trouble. You can't have certain sex acts with certain people. You can't go in overnights. You can't stay out past a certain time. Those kind of things. right? The worst rule is you can't fall in love, which people can't actually follow. 

[0:55:00] JS: Yeah.

[0:55:01] JF: You can't put rules on feelings. We can put rules on behaviors. But then when we're doing that, there usually is this backlash of people say yes to rules they don't actually feel in alignment with. And then they break them. And that causes a lot of pain and suffering in the relationship. Or you just, through experience, realize these rules don't work. And then to put your rules on a new person, it's just not fair. 

[0:55:29] JS: Versus principles.

[0:55:30] JF: Versus principles, which are more the values, the sentiments that we are choosing to abide by. And we know that – this is how we'd like to abide by them. But we also know that it might change and look different.

[0:55:44] JS: Thank you. I'm so glad – as soon as I said that, you were like, "Yes, I know exactly what you mean." Because one of the things that was interesting – so part of it is my husband felt like rues sets us up to break rules, which has higher consequences for trust in the relationship than principles. Which says that we trust each other to discern in the moment what feels right in alignment with those principles. Completely different example of rules versus principles from the Denizen inquiry is actually our long-term capitalism conversation. 

There is a stock exchange for long-term governed companies. And it is called the Long-Term Stock Exchange. And they have a principles-based versus a standards-based exchange. And they arrived at that because principles left more room for Innovation. If anybody wants to hear rules versus principles applied in a totally different dynamic, check out that conversation. 

[0:56:37] JF: I like that. But I would say the same, that there's more innovation when we're in principle-based agreements versus rules in our relationships. 

[0:56:46] JS: Yeah. And I think also, vis-a-vis some of the things that I've already brought into the conversation, but I want to make it clear here, is that the, "Okay, we set rules and principles based on our conceptual idea of how we'll feel when we get there." And then there's the embodied experience and recognizing that, in the moment that it happens, to exercise great care on the front and the backend of the experience of the other partner doing something to ensure that whatever comes up emotionally is tended to and learn from.

[0:57:12] JF: Yeah. Exactly. How do we grow and learn from this and move forward differently?

[0:57:19] JS: Yeah. And also, again, as I mentioned before, I've been stunned at how hyperdynamic the nature is of our emotional response and the complexity of care to do it well. 

[0:57:30] JF: Yes.

[0:57:29] JS: And this also just speaks to how much you have to upgrade your relational skills in this space. 

[0:57:36] JF: Yeah. It's so interesting. For me, before being polyamorous, I had done a lot of work on both of my parental wounds. And so, wasn't having a lot of activation in that way anymore. But then when David and I opened up, I had all of this trauma from my stepparents show up. And more relationship was all of the stepparent trauma that I was like, "Shit. I thought I had done a fair amount of work." And I did. But then there was this whole other category of work that hadn't been explored yet. Had never been triggered within the context of monogamy.

[0:58:13] JS: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Exactly. Well, this is what we talked to at the top, which is just like the dyad is crucial for personal growth. But then you layer on the complexity of that and it's just like the next level. 

[0:58:24] JF: Next level. Completely. Yeah.

[0:58:26] JS: So good. I'm curious with respect to best practices, I'm very curious what your thoughts are around transparency.

[0:58:33] JF: To a point, full transparency? Well, what do you mean by transparency?

[0:58:38] JS: I mean, it's just an interesting – again, in the context of agreements, it's an interesting dimension of how transparent do you want to be. Some people have a don't ask, don't tell orientation, which I feel is generally not healthy because the other person is more likely to spin out and think the worst. It's like you're avoiding something that's uncomfortable in that dynamic and not actually addressing the discomfort and ensuring that you're doing it in a way that's healthy.

[0:59:02] JF: Yeah. Yeah. There's a few exceptions. But most of the time, I don't see don't ask, don't tells work very well. There's been a few exceptions though. But, yes, transparency, you know that you're dating people. You at least know that these other people exist. You maybe know their names as a minimum. But sometimes people are thinking transparency is like I tell you everything about my date, or my sex acts, or everything about that person. And I make the distinction between secrecy and privacy. 

[0:59:31] JS: I like that. 

[0:59:31] JF: Right? That we do have the right in all of our relationships.

[0:59:34] JS: I love that. So good. 

[0:59:36] JF: Privacy. Right. Yes. As a partner that I'm sharing my body with more than one person, there is a certain right to know, yeah, what I've done with somebody else. But you don't have to know all the details of what I've done with somebody else.

[0:59:48] JS: Yeah, some people get turned on by knowing the details, right? 

[0:59:52] JF: Yeah. And if that's consensual, great. But is it consensual – maybe it's consensual between two people, but not that third or fourth that doesn't know.

[1:00:01] JS: Yeah. I think another really important thing here in just best practices and defining it between two people is just how much capacity you have. Or maybe this is even a question for each individual. How much capacity do I have for this my other vis-a-vis my other priorities in life? Because it can take up so much space.

[1:00:23] JF: Exactly. I talk about life saturation. Some people talk about poly-saturation. Meaning I'm at my saturation point with too many partners. And I'm like, "Yeah, but we can't just think of only our partners." It's like how many other aspects of life can bring us to a saturation point? Right. Children, self-care, work, education, whatever it is.

[1:00:45] JS: Okay. I knew we were going to need the whole hour. But this has been great. Thank you so much.

[1:00:50] JF: It's been great, Jenny.

[1:00:52] JS: Okay. Thanks so much for your time and thanks so much for your willingness to break this into two conversations. Because there's so much ground to cover. 

[1:00:58] JF: Awesome.


[1:00:59] JS: Thank you so much for listening. And thanks to Scott Hansen, also known as Tycho, for our musical signature. In addition to this podcast, you can find resources for each episode on our website,, including transcripts and background materials. 


For our most essential topics like universal basic income, decentralized social media and long-term capitalism, we also have posts summarizing our research, which make it easy for listeners to very quickly get an overview of these particularly important and foundational topics. 


On our website, you can also sign up for our newsletter where we bring our weekly podcast to your inbox alongside other relevant Denizen information. Subscribers are invited to join our podcast recordings and engage with the Denizen community in our online home, The Den. We're partnered with some incredible organizations at the forefront of the change that we talk about. We share announcements from them in our newsletter as well. 


Finally, this podcast is made possible by support from the Denizen community and listeners like you. Denizen's content will always be free. Offering Denizen as a gift models a relational rather than a transactional economy. Enabling Denizen to embody the change that we talk about on this podcast through the reciprocity of listeners like you that we are able to continue producing this content. You can support us or learn more about our gift model on our website. Again, that's Thanks again for listening and I hope you'll join us next time.



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