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The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention & Survival
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Read Reviews below:
THE POLYAMORY BREAK-UP BOOK
Multiamory Podcast, August 2019
Polyamory Breakup Book interview with Kathy Labriola
Click here: Multiamory Podcast\
Reviewed by Cascade Spring Cook
Early on in The Polyamory Breakup Book, Kathy Labriola states that the book assumes a moderate amount of knowledge about open relationships, acknowledging this isn’t the first book to read to gain familiarity with polyamory. A good book to start learning about polyamory is her earlier work, Love in Abundance: A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships.
If you have the chance to absorb the wisdom of The Polyamory Breakup Book before your first open relationship, it’s a practical guide that may save you some heartbreak. Or if you’ve had some experience with polyamory, it may help you with your future relationships, or with current relationships whether they are going well or close to breakup. In any case, it’s an insightful and interesting book that’s well worth reading, with plenty of examples of how people have avoided breaking up as well as examples of relationships which did break up.
Kathy Labriola is a counselor and nurse. It’s clear from her stories that she has a lot of experience talking with people of all sexual orientations and many ethnicities about their poly relationships. That’s one of the strengths of the book – you’re bound to find stories of people you can identify with.
One of the challenges of polyamory is breaking free of cultural conditioning which tells us that a successful relationship is both monogamous and life long. Labriola invites us to look at what was good in a relationship. Did we learn a lot? Did we have wonderful times together? Did we create something together? If we had meaningful experiences together, does it matter how long the relationship lasted? A relationship may be successful and still come to a natural end, or transform into a different type of friendship. Former lovers may become a community which provides support in times of need. This seems like a much healthier way to do relationships than the cultural model of bitterness and anger and striving to avoid ever seeing the person you used to love so passionately. It’s an approach I’d love to see in the culture at large.
All too often, when people who have a polyamorous relationship break up, family and friends (who perhaps never approved of their other relationships) blame polyamory for the breakup. But Labriola has found that at least half of the breakups are the result of the same types of problems that cause the breakup of monogamous relationships, such as sexual problems, incompatibility around money or other living together issues, addictions, or intimacy issues. The book elaborates on these types of problems, with examples that show the added complexity that occurs within a polyamorous relationship. For example, a financial conflict where one person expresses their anger saying, “I’m pissed off that you’re using our money to pay for dates with your other girlfriend.” It’s really important for people to discuss their assumptions about money and how they want to handle it, as well as their expectations about other possible issues.
Multiple adults living together is one form of poly relationships. Living together can cause issues in a monogamous relationship, whether it’s about housework, food preferences, guests, and many other possible areas of conflict, but with more adults it’s even more challenging. Poly families living together need compatibility on aspects of living together, flexibility and willingness to compromise, and excellent interpersonal skills, good communication, and healthy boundaries. The book has some interesting examples of creative ways that poly families have resolved their practical issues, such as the poly quad who found that living together made it difficult for the individual relationships to get enough time and privacy. They found that creating a separate apartment in their home and planning their dates made things worked much more smoothly.
Part two of the book focuses on Poly Causes for Poly Breakups. A common cause is falling in love with someone who is a committed monogamist. Some mono-poly relationships find ways to succeed by finding a compromise that works for both people, but it’s not easy. As Labriola points out, this can work when neither partner is at the extreme end of the monogamy/polyamory spectrum. Couples who love each other but want their partner to change plead with Labriola for a solution, but she has to tell them there is no magic bullet to change someone’s core sexual and relational orientation.
Another major issue is having incompatible relationship models. For example, one person is comfortable with a primary/secondary model, and another wants multiple primaries or multiple non-primary partners.
Another common problem is poor management of time and energy. This chapter would have been a good place to mention the “poly mantra” – “Love is infinite, but time is not.” It does mention the “kid in the candy store” syndrome. Polyamory is time consuming, and definitely takes good communication and time management skills.
Of course jealousy is also the cause of some poly breakups, though it’s the least common reason, even though it’s often present when another reason dooms the relationship. Labriola mentions three factors: first, humans are not good at sharing any resource. Second, internalized cultural programming. Third, insecurity and self-esteem issues. As she says, jealousy is a normal response that serves a valid purpose. Sometimes when you feel jealous, your relationship actually is in danger, and it’s a warning signal that gives you the chance to correct the problem. She suggests making jealousy your protective ally, since new relationships do have the potential of being disruptive.
Many chapters on the problems faced in poly relationships have a section on “Prevention Strategies.” Many of the strategies amount to choosing the right partner(s), but the value of the book is in helping the reader think about what they might want to look for in a possible partner – or whether polyamory is even something they want or that will enhance their life. Does a potential partner have a compatible level of sexual desire? How can you recognize potentially abusive partners so you can avoid them? Do you have compatible levels of desire for intimacy and autonomy? What makes you happy, and does this person match you well enough to do that?
The final part of the book focuses on Surviving a Poly Breakup. The first step is self-care. Grieve and learn whatever you can from the relationship. Labriola points out the need to sustain your other relationship(s) even while grieving the one you lost. As she says, “It often creates hurt, anger and insecurity for a remaining partner to see just how upset their partner is about losing another partner.” It’s important to continue to give love and attention to the remaining partner, or you may lose them as well.
The reaction of family and friends to a poly breakup is different than to a mono breakup. The book has a helpful chapter on “Handling the Public Relations of a Poly Breakup,” with example of reactions and also some creative ways that people have proactively dealt with possible reactions.
It would have been helpful to include a bibliography of all the references in the book, to make it easier for a reader who is interested in reading more from some of the works Labriola mentions.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who Is interested in polyamory.
© 2019 by Cascade Spring Cook www.aphroweb.net
"The Polyamory Breakup Book breaks through the taboo of talking about open relationship endings. It normalizes relationship break ups of all kinds, and offers practical tools for preparing for and understanding breakups when they happen. Kathy Labriola uses her deep expertise to provide guidance and understanding around breakups in polyamorous relationships. She provides the reader with acceptance and practical ideas as they navigate their loss both with themselves, and with their communities."
Dr. Rachel Robbins, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, San Francisco, CA www.drrachelrobbins.com
Review by Tikva Wolf, writer and cartoonist who has a polyamory-themed comic strip called Kimchi Cuddles!
So I read the pre-release copy of this book while going through a difficult relationship transition myself, and was surprised by how fun it was to read despite my own sadness on the topic.
Like monogamous partnerships, non-monogamous relationships sometimes CRASH AND BURN (or gently transition into something else, whatev). This helpful book overviews some common reasons poly-breakups happen, and how to make that transition more gently with non-traditional complications (such as being connected to metamours, other partners, and the wider polyamorous community). It also details many common pitfalls and prevention strategies for each, while acknowledging that relationship "success" is not defined by whether the dynamic remains exactly the same FOR ALL ETERNITY.
The book also covers topics like addiction, abuse, mental health issues, and how polyamorous dynamics can make all these more complex. As someone who has struggled with ALL these issues myself, I really appreciated the way they were acknowledged. The book also covers sex addiction, and how that is different than polyamory itself but can be very destructive within any relationship dynamic when left unexamined (THANK YOU for including this!). The book kinda focuses on hierarchical dynamics and sexual partnerships (which is fine, because that's what's relevant to most people and I don't need everything to be exactly relevant to me ALL the time) but I do wish that they'd talked more about the nuance of partnership, and specifically about platonic partnerships. But since I feel strongly about THAT story being told, I guess that just means it's a job for me. :P The sections as they were written were still easy to apply to my own relationships, and organized in a very helpful way.
Overall, totally recommend this helpful resource for your personal or community library! Find a copy here: https://thorntreepress.com/the-polyamory-breakup-book
Why Do We Get Jealous In Non-Monogamous Relationships? 5 Theories, Explained by Rachel Krantz
A Review of the Jealousy Workbook & Love in Abundance
Recently, I've become very acquainted with a feeling that I didn't even know I had the capability to feel so strongly: jealousy. Before I decided to try non-monogamy with my current partner, I'd only experienced the feeling in fleeting moments — passing jealousy towards someone prettier or cooler than me, for instance. But now that my partner has gone on a few dates with someone else, I feel like I know what jealousy really is. It is a physical sensation as much as an emotional one, manifesting in the pit of my stomach and the middle of my throat.
You might wonder why, if jealousy is so intense and uncomfortable, I've been choosing to experience it. Well, trust me, there have been moments where I've asked myself the same question. I suppose the short answer is that I want to know whether non-monogamy is for me, and there's no way to know except to confront these uncomfortable feelings head-on. I already know having the freedom to go out with other people has made me less afraid of commitment and more in love with my current partner. It's only when he exercises that same freedom that I find I come up against the main emotions that comprise jealousy: fear, anger, and grief.
Read more here
THE JEALOUSY WORKBOOK
Review in Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 16, Oct. 6, 2013
by David S. Hall , Ph.D.
This useful paperback has just arrived as part of the expanding literature on open relationships (aka Polyamory or other forms of ethical non-monogamy). It is based on the author's many years and extensive experience in assisting people with the challenges of relationships they may not be prepared to deal with. Ms. Labriola is a nurse, hypnotist and counselor, and has written several books on open relationships.
Based on her work with the clients she has seen, it is by necessity focused on people with the problems that come with jealousy. This is only a subset of folks in open relationships, some of whom do not have the kind of problems she deals with. However, if you or your partner(s) are experiencing jealousy, this book is full of good exercises to help you through your rough spots. There are nineteen sections, containing forty-two specific exercises with well laid out instructions and examples from people who are experiencing the kind of problems you might be experiencing.
The first section gives you a broad view of jealousy, what it is and why it can be so powerful. The exercises in this section help one to understand what it is, where it can come from in any relationship, and how to prepare for it if you are beginning an open relationship. This would be useful to anyone thinking about opening a relationship and exploring ethical non-monogamy. It can give you insight into yourself and how you think about relationships. In particular, Exercise 3 is a cost-benefit analysis of opening your relationship, a very valuable tool.
Part Two, beginning with Exercise 8, contains tools to deal with jealousy when it shows up in a relationship. In particular I like Chapter 11, which is about unlearning three core beliefs that generate jealousy. The ideas were included in a paper in this journal in 2003 but in the explanation, exercises and examples, the author makes them powerful tools in working through jealousy. I also like Chapter 13, the three circles of "Poly Hell". These exercises make a lot of sense and deal with key issues in open relationships.
Chapter 17 brings in exercises and information from five other authors who have written about and taught about jealousy. This sharing of the work of others is a valuable tool and might lead the reader to other books or workshops that could be helpful.
The back of the book includes a list of other works on jealousy, some sources of workshops (mostly west coast) and other help in dealing with this problem.
This is a book I can recommend highly.
Excellent resource for anyone interested in/working with open relationships
By Cat Maness
Having known Kathy Labriola in a counseling capacity, I was excited to check out her latest book, The Jealousy Workbook. I was not disappointed. Kathy has shown time and again not only her competency in working with those in open relationships but also her ability to communicate this rich information to others. In her Jealous Workbook you'll find an incredible treasure trove of exercises for examining both your relationship and ultimately yourself. I recommend this workbook to both clients and therapists alike as it can truly serve to enrich any conversation about open relationships and those within them. -- Cat Maness, MFT Intern (IMF 71619), October 2013
LOVE IN ABUNDANCE
A very practical guide to Polyamory, February 21, 2011
By Gina Corsi
This is a very smart book, full of practical advice and many examples of real people successfully having more than one partner at the same time. Low on flowery rhetoric, and full of practical, real-world case stories of complex lives and relationships. She works as a counselor, and it shows.
The book is very low on, "This is what I think, and/or what poly theory says", and very high on, "Here are relationships I've seen work (and not work!) in the real world".
She immediately deals with emotions like jealousy, envy, insecurity and compulsive behavior, inevitable in any relationship, but more so in polyamory. She's very practical and matter-of-fact, and provides useful models to develop relationship skills. She's skilled, thoughtful and wise. I read the book in a single evening, unable to put it down.
If you are contemplating polyamory, this is a must-read.
I would also recommend a therapist experienced in polyamory, if at all possible. It's a step that shouldn't be taken lightly.
A great counselor, with great advice, November 21, 2011
By Kate Sassoon
a great read for those who want a professional's perspective on redefining the possibilities for experiencing love in any relationship.
REVIEW IN SLINGSHOT NEWSPAPER ISSUE # 105, Spring 2011
the last 10+ years of slingshot articles are on-line here:http://slingshot.tao.ca
Click on this link and on the left side of the home page, scroll down to "Back Issues" and go to Issue #105, Spring, 2011.
When you get to that issue, scroll down to "Book Review" by Jesse Palmer, of "Love in Abundance." |(See below)
Book Review: Love in Abundance: A counselor's Advice on Open Relationships
Review by Jesse D. Palmer
Book by: Kathy Labriola
Greenery Press (2010) $15.95
While a number of good books about polyamory -- having sexual / emotional relationships with more than one person at a time -- have come out over the last dozen years, those curious about the subject will want to check out Kathy Labriola's new book because of her unique perspective and focus. Labriola is a practicing relationship counselor and draws upon her work with many poly clients to address practical issues (jealousy, disclosure, honest communication, etc.) that come up for people trying to carry on open relationships.
Labriola has also been poly herself for almost 40 years, so she can also draw on her personal experiences with the subject. I found her writing funny, daringly honest and easy to get through. She writes from an explicitly activist and feminist perspective -- it is nice to read about someone wanting only secondary relationships because they're busy with a lot of activist meetings!
Rather than mostly containing an argument for the viability or "ethical" quality of a poly lifestyle, Love in Abundance is directed towards people who are already convinced that open relationships make sense to them, but who may need help actually making them work in practice.
The book is full of check-lists and specific tips. My favorite sections were on communication skills, which I think could be helpful for monogamous as well as poly people. She has a great section on metacommunication -- communicating about communication itself. Labriola breaks down communication into a few basic purposes: to make connection, to solve a problem, to ask for support, etc. Person A may be communicating to ask for support, and if person B understands it as an attempt at problem solving, they may fail to connect. If person B first takes time to understand the purpose of the communication, they can react more appropriately and avoid friction.
Another insightful section is on disclosure. Labriola has observed that most people fall into one of two camps: either you want as much information as possible to feel empowered by knowing all the details, or alternatively knowing details causes you to fixate and feel overwhelmed, and it is actually better to know less. Knowing which camp you and your partner are in and figuring out what facts you need to know to feel safe can make life a lot easier. One of my favorite parts of the book is where Labriola publishes her three page long list of precisely what she wants to know from her partners about their involvement with a third person. Getting to the point where you know what you need to know -- and communicating it with your partners -- is an advanced state of honesty and self-knowledge.
I recommend Labriola's book even while I feel very far from being comfortable with either the poly vision it presents, or monogamy. Becoming sexually involved with another person -- which at the time usually feels like the expression of a special closeness with that person -- very often eventually destroys all connection with that person when the relationship breaks up. While ex-lovers often never want to see each other again, friends rarely break-up. Sometimes you may drift away from a friend over time, but that doesn't require you to fight, cling to past ways of relating that may change, or declare a formal end to the relationship. Friends can be more accepting and free about each other -- less rigid and bound by abstract rules of how the friendship is supposed to be. I'm still close with many "platonic" friends I made 30 years ago and I often feel a greater degree of emotional intimacy with them than I do with people I'm dating.
If sex so often separates us, rather than unites us, with people we love, maybe it makes more sense to concentrate on non-sexual love and intimacy with other people, which you can have with a number of people simultaneously under either poly or monogamous rules. Domestically, the monogamous ideal is living with one other person and perhaps any children from the relationship. The poly domestic arrangement described by Labriola would be living with a number of lovers, or perhaps living part time with one lover, and part time with another. A third option -- sort of neo-poly because it is non-sexual and yet involves more than one person -- is communal living in which one lives with and is emotionally close with a number of housemates who are not sexual partners. This maximizes intimacy and options for community but downplays issues of jealousy, possessiveness, competition, and the risk that relationships will be destroyed in the heat of a sexual breakup.
Labriola's book is about how to have practical poly relationships -- figuring out rules based on everyone's consent and open communication. Building relationships with rules and expectations means you'll still face breakups and lots of opportunities for people to hurt each other. I appreciate the poly scene because it seeks to question and change some of the most oppressive rules of monogamy, but it is up against very deep sexual repression and patriarchal socialization that most of us hold deep within us.
From a certain point of view, Labriola's description of the very real limits of polyamory is depressing. We want love in abundance, but we're merely imperfect humans doing the best we can, and real abundance may be beyond our capacity at this moment in history. Having more love than permitted under tradition rules -- either through polyamory or trying to expand the emotional content of all types of relationships -- is a good direction to move.