Special Guest: Joli Hamilton

Where you can find Joli online:



[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Today on the relationship Revival Show, I’m joined by Dr. Joli Hamilton. Julie is a research psychologist, a TEDx speaker, best-selling author and a sec certified sex educator. Joli hosts the playing with fire podcast with their anchor partner, Ken Jolie has been featured in The New York Times, NPR and Vogue. And she spent the last two decades studying and reimagining what love can be. If we open our imaginations to possibility.

[Jon Dabach] 00:28
Joli helps people create non monogamous partnerships that are custom built for their authentic selves. No more shrinking, pretending, or hiding required. You’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as mrSpirituality.

[Jon Dabach] 00:43
That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy.

[Jon Dabach] 01:04
And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by Dr. joli. Hamilton, thank you so much for being on the show. I’m really excited to talk to you kind of work with a population that, for better or worse, doesn’t really call me so.

[Jon Dabach] 01:25
So I feel like whenever I get to introduce somebody to my audience, where I don’t have the expertise, one selfishly, I get to learn a lot. And that’s one of the main reasons I do this. And then two, I get to kind of introduce somebody who might be like a perfect fit to someone who’s been listening to me, or has heard of me and says, Well, John, you know, might not exactly what I want out of life.

[Jon Dabach] 01:47
So you are, you’re open about talking about your own life. I take it Yeah. Why don’t you talk about an open book, how you came to kind of understand that you’re polyamorous and queer, and how that kind of evolved in your own life? Because I feel like hearing it firsthand is always a good place to start.

[Joli Hamilton] 02:06
It is a great place to start. And so many people imagine that this is something that is a very small segment of the population. But we know that somewhere around 5% of people are practicing non monogamy at any one point in North America, and about 20% of people have tried it at some time. So I know I’m not alone. But I also know that I get to have the privilege of being out.

[Joli Hamilton] 02:28
So I am I’m out as a queer polyamorous mother of seven, who just happens to have all of this privilege that lets me speak really openly. And I didn’t know that there was a word for how I love until I was in my mid-30s. So I spent the first half of my adult life, married, monogamous, following the rules doing what I was supposed to do. And it never fit, right. I was always falling in love with, I’d fall in love with my best friends. I would I would just be in love with people.

[Joli Hamilton] 03:03
And I just thought, okay, most people must experience you know, we tend to think that whatever is normal for us is normal. I just thought it was normal. And then I just had to shove that down and ignore it as best as I could. So I tried. It didn’t work really well. Not and I did not cheat. It’s not that I leaned out of my marriage, but I was just always distracted. And it never really felt very satisfying.

[Joli Hamilton] 03:27
So eventually, something different happened. I had been going along falling in love with mostly women. I’m bisexual, and I fell in love with women over and over and over again. My husband had no problem with it. He I never acted on it, but he was like, Cool. That’s, you know, that’s fine. That sounds totally normal. Then I fell in love with somebody with a penis. Yeah. That did not go threatening.

[Joli Hamilton] 03:52
Yeah, so my first husband was very threatened when this came up. And also sort of excited like, oh, wait, there’s a name for this. There’s a word for this because this is what made me research like, hey, you know, what, what if?

[Joli Hamilton] 04:06
What if we didn’t have to be married in this specific way that we’ve been told what if there’s something else, and we very quickly found out that he was uninterested, and so that marriage ended. And rather than climb back into monogamy, I decided now I’m going to figure this out on my own. I’m going to figure out how to do non monogamy. And so that’s over 13 years ago now. And I wound up throwing my whole life in that direction, my personal life and my academic life

[Jon Dabach] 04:35
And your professional life. That’s what I do.

[Joli Hamilton] 04:37
Every bit of it.

[Jon Dabach] 04:38
So you dropped a big bomb. You have seven kids, you said?

[Joli Hamilton] 04:43
So I had four at the time

[Jon Dabach] 04:45
When you? Yeah, what’s your first marriage?

[Joli Hamilton] 04:49
My first marriage, my youngest was two. He was still nursing. He was still breastfeeding. And yeah, I hopped in the shower with my husband after a night out dancing with our friends. And I was like, Oh my God. I am so So and I was just like, overwhelmed. I was I was I’m so in to insert his name.

[Joli Hamilton] 05:09
I was so ingenue, I had no idea that this would bother my husband because I had said that sentence with insert a woman’s name so many times that it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t just be the same for him that he wouldn’t just be like, okay. But what it revealed was that we really weren’t on the same page, we really didn’t see my bisexuality in the same way, and we didn’t see our sex life in the same way.

[Joli Hamilton] 05:37
Because we didn’t, we couldn’t find our way forward. From there, we very quickly hit the rocks. That is not a fun moment. It’s, um, nobody wants to hit the rocks, they’re sure in their marriage. But for me, it was also this. It was an opportunity to evaluate the fact that I hadn’t been happy for a very long time, and he had known that I had never felt fully seen. And our sex life in particular had always been lackluster. We’d been together since we were 16. And it had just

[Jon Dabach] 06:14
When you say lackluster? Are you saying that? And forgive me if I’m if I’m kind of putting any of my own kind of thoughts into it. Is it lackluster? Because it wasn’t as explosive and exciting as you want it? Or do you think it would be lackluster kind of by anybody’s standards?

[Joli Hamilton] 06:32
Um, it was it was lackluster by standards that I hear. So now that I work as a sexuality professional, right? It would it would, I think it would qualify as lackluster because neither of us was getting what we really wanted. Okay, great.

[Jon Dabach] 06:48
Definitely. And when nobody’s happy, that’s lackluster. I love that definition. Yeah.

[Joli Hamilton] 06:54
And to be honest, you know, I was the high drive partner in that situation, you know, there’s always there’s always going to be a higher, Frisky lower, Frisky person, right. And because I was the woman in this heterosexual looking marriage, there was also no, there was no real way to converse about this, we really struggled to talk about it, because he struggled with shame around being the lower interest partner in that situation.

[Joli Hamilton] 07:17
And so then we wound up always having an argument and this is I’m sure you see. Just this that same fight that you have over and over and over again, and then starts to run other parts of your marriage. And that’s, that was the real that was really the sad part that the sex that wasn’t working, wound up wrecking other parts of a life that might have been okay other Where did

[Jon Dabach] 07:41
The other or the other three kids step kids or adoptions? Or

[Joli Hamilton] 07:45
They are technically speaking their stepchildren? They call me mom. So yeah, it’s

[Jon Dabach] 07:49
A blended family thing? Well,

[Joli Hamilton] 07:52
I mean, it’s tricky. So I was I was in the room when my twins came into the world. It’s a tricky thing. When you start a polyamorous family, what does it mean to be a parent? Yes. Really? Like, what? And so you know, I, I’ve, I’ve really pushed back against some of the normative terms around our family because they don’t fit. They aren’t adequate. I am your mom to these kids? Do they have two moms? Yeah, they do. And the kids have always known each other. So we were all friends before, right? So

[Jon Dabach] 08:29
They work because you were there since birth. So it’s kind of you have to kind of invent a new phrase, which is difficult, because then you have to educate the entire world, which is impossible.

[Joli Hamilton] 08:41
Exactly. So people will say like, oh, what’s your real kids? And I’m like, oh, would we say that about adopted children? Would we let’s be careful there, right, like, and that’s that goes to almost anything. Whenever somebody’s doing something different than you. It’s so much easier to ask them how they experience it.

[Joli Hamilton] 08:56
And what I experiences. I have seven children. Some of them came out of my uterus, and some did not. And, but here I am. And now they’re 16 to 23. So they’re, you know, it’s almost seven. They defined. They, they do I had the bookends. So my youngest and oldest and then the three kid who came in to the family. I’ll fit in that range.

[Jon Dabach] 09:21
It brings a new definition to division of labor, right?

[Joli Hamilton] 09:26
Yeah. Yeah, I was very lucky. I didn’t have to carry the twins who each came out at nine. So Wow.

[Jon Dabach] 09:34
So let’s talk let’s actually define what is create because you use the term creative monogamy, right? What does that mean? Talking to a cisgender heteronormative male where I’d say 95% of my clients are in that box. And it’s a box that I’m happy to play and I’m always welcoming of everybody, but it’s just you know, I don’t know much about it. So tell me what that means. And how to be considerate to that world and what you know what we should know if we’re not in that world, but we’re looking into it.

[Joli Hamilton] 10:10
Yeah, so I talk about creative monogamy because oftentimes we imagine that there’s monogamy and then there’s consensual non monogamy or ethical non monogamy or polyamory whatever, however, people are describing that as if they’re two separate boxes, right? And we imagine that people leave monogamy and just plunk themselves in, say the polyamory box.

[Joli Hamilton] 10:31
And that would be people who are intentionally creating multiple loving relationships simultaneously. But what I have found over the years of my coaching is, many people really want some areas of exclusivity and some areas of expansively. Right, so they want to practice opening in a way that doesn’t clearly fit into monogamy, or polyamory and so not so black and white, there’s no gray zone.

[Joli Hamilton] 10:59
Yeah, exactly. Creative. Monogamy is a way for them to reconceptualize and get very clear about what are our agreements around exclusivity, because frequently, for instance, people will say, well, maybe we can be expansive in our sex life, right. And so, here, you might fit people who would traditionally have been called Swingers, right? People were like, yep, we can have expansive sex, and we can go to clubs, as long as we always play together.

[Joli Hamilton] 11:25
Okay, so that’s one version of creative monogamy. But it’s only one because there are so many different domains that we might be expansive in, you know, for instance, this whole notion of an emotional affair. You know, when people talk about that, I think that sounds an awful lot like my best friend. It sounds an awful lot like my best friend. And since I’m bisexual, what does that mean?

[Joli Hamilton] 11:46
Am I having an emotional affair with my best friend? And this is where I just like to ask people to relax the white knuckle grip on their monogamy and, and start to have conversations so you actually know, what would constitute a breach of our monogamous aspects, right? And where can I play really deeply with other people? It’s not always about sex, though.

[Jon Dabach] 12:10
And that’s, that’s a tricky conversation to have for sure. It sounds like, you know, the best the absolute best time to kind of explore this as before getting into a relationship, if possible.

[Joli Hamilton] 12:25
Yeah, maybe I actually did a whole episode on that exact question. Because I find that people fall they often imagine that, if they are an established couple, they’re often like, Oh, I wish we’d started this from the beginning. And we could just write all the rules right from the beginning.

[Joli Hamilton] 12:41
And then on the other hand, if you’re just new, and you’re starting out, and you know, you want a Couple hood, and you want like a clearly bonded Couple hood, which would be defined as like a hierarchical non monogamy situation? Well, if you do that, and right from the beginning, you’re also dating other people and seeing other people that can be challenging in its own way, right?

[Joli Hamilton] 13:02
So really, it’s which mess do you want, right? All relationships have challenges. Whether you want to start at the beginning, or whether you want to do this later has to do with which one feels more comfortable to you? And also which ones available? Because I didn’t, I can’t imagine saying, well, we didn’t start the beginning. So it’s too late. And my specialty is actually working with people, many people who find me they’ve been married for 25 years, and they’re like, Well, is it too late?

[Joli Hamilton] 13:34
For us? My answer is no. Because you are just growing humans, you’re just, you know, you’re just evolving growing humans. The question is, are you willing to really contemplate the fact that much of your relationship has probably been implicit, until now, that means facing a lot of old stuff, and making a new if you want to make a new rule book, you’re going to have to get in there and really deal with what’s already happened.

[Jon Dabach] 14:00
Sure. And that’s, by the way, that’s, as you know, that’s something that people in just a traditional cut and dry Couple hood have to deal with, even when I see them where someone feels betrayed and the other person’s like, but I didn’t break any rules.

[Jon Dabach] 14:16
And they might have had an emotional affair with someone of the opposite sex and the person feels like it’s an even bigger betrayal than a physical affair. And I mean, those are those are, you know, defining what infidelity is, to your relationship is huge. It’s huge. I mean, it’s literally part of every premarital counseling session I’ve ever seen or a couple, not the first one, but, you know, like, somewhere in in working with them.

[Jon Dabach] 14:41
That’s got to be part of it. Because if you don’t understand where someone’s head is, and you know what the funny thing is, I’m right there with you. Because I say you should have that conversation at least once a year. Because the heart changes we change if you have kids, things change. I mean, there’s different your sex drives, change your emotions, and what if one harder gets sick and is incapable. I mean, there’s so many things that happen.

[Joli Hamilton] 15:05
Right? I, I’ve seen so many people go through the expansive like I’m going to we’re going to explore we’re going to open, and many of them actually find themselves sort of coming back to a spot where they’re like, Oh, actually, we enjoy lots of parts of our monogamy. Okay, great, awesome. But you have these conversations that allow you to move stuff out of the implicit assumptions and into explicit, clearly communicated and continually revisited agreements.

[Joli Hamilton] 15:32
That’s a game changer. And I would never I couldn’t be monogamous, like a practice monogamy right now, like, it’s not that hard. I just stop doing some of the things I currently do. But I could never do unexamined monogamy again. I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it. That broke my heart over and over again, because we never actually knew whether we were meeting each other’s needs.

[Joli Hamilton] 15:58
There was just too much unsaid. And that’s what I see all the time is people who are using the system to hold them up, right, they’re using the rules of the culture at large to hold up. They’re not just their agreements, but their imagination of what their relationship can be.

[Jon Dabach] 16:18
I’m going to pose a question to you that someone came up in a session and it was it was a difficult situation to handle. And it’s I’m sure it’s a question you get all the time. So as husband and wife, and he said, I’m coming really want to explore non monogamy or ethical, you know, and she said, Am I not enough for you?

[Joli Hamilton] 16:38
So how do you I had that question this morning in my inbox, literally,

[Jon Dabach] 16:42
What’s the way to move that conversation forward?

[Joli Hamilton] 16:46
Yeah. So first off, if we’ve been operating in the in the land of monogamy. Usually what’s happening here is we have a foreclosed imagination. We imagine that we’re supposed to be enough for our partners. And so it’s a pretty reasonable spot for a partner to just be like, am I not enough for you I’m supposed to be. It’s also a super weird thing we have done culturally. And it’s a very recent invention, the idea that we’re supposed to be lovers and best friends and help mates, and each other’s parenting partner.

[Joli Hamilton] 17:20
And all these things, this long list, it’s at least 12 roles that we’re supposed to play, the idea that we’re supposed to get that from one person that is maybe 75 years old. It is a very new invention. Marriage is older than that, but we didn’t do it that way. We used to marry for much different reasons. And we had many different people in our in our world to help us meet those needs friendships used to operate differently.

[Joli Hamilton] 17:47
When we’re talking about a partner feeling I’m not enough for you, I would say, did you really hear? Did you really hear your partner’s question? Because probably you have deeper questions around what do you mean? What is? What would non monogamy look like to you? Tell me more about what it would mean, how would that how would we practice that? What? What would we do different? Because so what I heard is they took that question and immediately made it a judgment about themselves.

[Joli Hamilton] 18:19
Which closes down the actual conversation, your partner actually just revealed something delicious to you. And if you can get in there with them, and explore in the imaginal. That is, to my mind, the place where now you can get to know your partner as they are today. Not the partner you think you signed up for, not the partner who maybe you did marry, but the partner they are today, you can get to know them better.


[Joli Hamilton] 18:44
Because if they want to explore this, they want something and we just take we take it so personally, we take everything our partner wants so personally, but their wants around them, not about us. Their wants reveal their own psyche.

[Jon Dabach] 19:00
So I think you’re right, I leaned very heavily on Godman and when you kind of have rephrase this, it makes it very clearly an attack and a defense. Right. So it’s like when someone says I want to practice some form of non-monogamy, the person is looking at it as an attack. And so they’re or a criticism of them in some way.

[Jon Dabach] 19:21
And so they’re becoming defensiveness, which is, you know, those are two of the four horsemen, right that you know, it’s like, it’s like, okay, that that’s going to unravel things and that’s why that’s always a very loaded question. There’s, there’s a second part of it, though, that I wanted to get into. So the jealousy aspect, so let’s say they do hear them, right. And let’s say they’re like, look, it’s not what I want, but I love you. And I want you to be happy.

[Jon Dabach] 19:49
But then they’re riddled with jealousy. That’s obviously going to be a part of it for a lot of people. What’s your kind of way forward? Disgusting. Because I feel like that’s probably at the core of what you do is dealing with those kinds of feelings.

[Joli Hamilton] 20:07
I mean, my academic specialty is jealousy. My dissertation is on jealousy and my current academic studies that are in the field around jealousy.

[Jon Dabach] 20:15
Have you ever seen by the way, I hate to cut you off, but I don’t want to forget, did you ever see the movie her? With Spike Jones, I feel like that’s at the end. That’s like a, if you haven’t seen it, that’s like the perfect example. Because you have this AI who has relationships with zoning, and the person couldn’t handle it. So it’s like a really beautiful kind of movie about love in general.

[Joli Hamilton] 20:36
Right. So one of the ways that I talk about jealousy that’s a little bit different is when jealousy comes up, most of us were presented this idea of jealousy. First off, we were presented it because it occurs in us because we, we evolved this as a strategy to stay connected to our caregivers at right from birth, right, it makes sense that we would not want to have our relationship to our beloved other if this, in this case, the parent who is nourishing us, we wouldn’t want to have that interrupted, right.

[Joli Hamilton] 21:08
So Jealousy is a perfectly natural threat response. But the threat response, we really don’t talk about it again, until we hit romantic love. So we have jealousy that occurs in infancy. It proceeds through toddlerhood, we usually get told that we’re a bad person if we were jealous of our siblings, and we should share our toys and share our parents and share our teachers affections.

[Joli Hamilton] 21:31
And then nobody ever talks to us about it. Nobody tells us how to deal with it. Can you imagine if we never talked about how to deal with sadness or anger, but then we expected people to deal with it in their adult hood, with any sort of skill? That’s what happens with jealousy. Nobody. I have had 1000s of conversations about jealousy. And no one that I have ever asked who said, Oh, yeah, my parents talked to me about jealousy. We talked about how to handle it.

[Joli Hamilton] 21:56
We talked about how to how to manage it, what it’s for, what it’s not for, and what I should do when it comes up. So no wonder we feel like when jealousy comes up, it’s a problem to be solved immediately. But jealousy is just like any other emotion, it’s just an information, it tells you that you have detected a potential threat or an imagined threat to a valued relationship. So you’ve got this triangle self-valued other and a perceived interrupter.

[Joli Hamilton] 22:24
When jealousy shows up, most of us imagine that we need we point our fingers outward, and we say you need to change your behavior. So I stopped feeling this. And sometimes jealousy is completely imagined. Sometimes jealousy is an incredibly invasive like we want complete control of what our partner is doing, who they’re in contact with. Jealousy can feel like a way that we we get to claim total ownership of what our partner is doing.

[Joli Hamilton] 22:55
So jealousy is actually a wonderful opportunity. If I’m noticing this threat. Yeah, there might be an actual legitimate threat to my relationship. At this point, I want to ask, okay, cool. What are your relationship agreements? What’s in the bounds? What’s out of bounds? What feels safe to you? What doesn’t? Beyond that? I want to know, is this actually a real, like, objective threat?

[Joli Hamilton] 23:15
And is the change that you’re asking for? Does your partner agree to it, because just because you want to change doesn’t mean you get it? Because bad news, everyone, you don’t get everything you want. On the other hand, many times we are imagining that we will be riddled with jealousy. That’s not the same thing as actually experiencing jealousy. So being jealous of the imagined future, right. That’s a whole other problem.

[Joli Hamilton] 23:44
And the good news about that is jealousy is a problem I can begin to work on within myself. And it’s not just insecurity I have, a lot of people will just dismiss it and say jealousy is just insecurity. That’s also too dismissive. Jealousy is profoundly impactful. It is archetypal level emotion, when it comes up, if you can be patient with the jealousy and start to notice what it’s trying to tell you about your relationship, what it wants you to do without taking action too fast.

[Joli Hamilton] 24:16
The number one tip for dealing with jealousy is slow down, slow down, and then see. What is it that you want, if what you want is more clarity in your relationship. Great, great time to get in a conversation. And that doesn’t have to be with somebody who specialized in jealousy. John, I’m sure you deal with people who are in that the in the throes of I don’t know what I want in my relationship.

[Joli Hamilton] 24:41
So I don’t have any agreements. I’ve just been going along, right. So they need to get in the room and have that conversation, often a third party so that they actually ask the more important questions. What I see so frequently as people are like, they know the rules. That’s like when I ask what your agreements are, he knows The rules like rarely, how do you know he knows the rules? And what are these rules because I don’t know these rules. I don’t, if somebody were to tell me that they know the rules, like you are set up

[Jon Dabach] 25:11
To hurt. The other thing that drives me crazy with couples is, if they sense or see their partner breaking the rule, they don’t say anything. It’s almost like this test they put their partner on. So like, if they see, like, let’s say flirting is a total breaking of the rule for them for that couple. And they see their partner flirting at a party with someone else, they sit in watch. And I’m like, Look, if flirting is really a deal breaker, then its poison to your relationship.

[Jon Dabach] 25:40
If someone was like sitting at a table with poison on the table, would you just sit there and wait and to see if they drink it, you’d take them aside, say, hey, there’s poison on the table, you know. And so it’s like, if there’s something that’s really that dangerous to your relationship, you need to talk about it. You can’t just sit there. It’s kind of fascinating, about jealousy. So I think you’ve, you’ve hit upon a nerve, right?

[Jon Dabach] 26:01
So it’s it. It is about feeling like there’s a threat to your relationship. But there is also a different part of jealousy that you didn’t touch on that I’d love you to talk about, which is the kind of classic and the easier way to think of it is in terms of objects. So if you see someone who has a really nice house or a car, you’re jealous, because you want it to. So I dealt with that in a relationship once where the woman wanted to practice non monogamy, she had a huge social circle.

[Jon Dabach] 26:29
And he was a hermit, for lack of a better term, he worked at home, he had very few friends. And it took a while it took about three sessions for him to finally admit like, well, she’s going to go out and have all these relationships, and I’m going to feel lonely. And it’s not that I don’t want her to have it. But where do I go to get that? I don’t have the skills. So there was the jealousy in that I want it to. So isn’t that also part of the jealous makeup?

[Joli Hamilton] 26:57
Well, yes and no, you what’s your name is envy, not jealousy. So envy is another emotion altogether. And we’ve sorted these out. And the reason we sort these out is because envy is about a dyad. Just like you said, envy is a longing to have what someone else has or be what they are.

[Joli Hamilton] 27:14
And so when jealousy shows up, it is inherently a complex emotion made of other emotions. Many people’s jealousy matrix will have some envy in it right? And so at this point, I could be envious of my partner, or I could be envious of my perceived interrupter. Right or in polyamorous situation I could be we call that perceived interrupter. They’re not a perceived interrupter.

[Joli Hamilton] 27:36
They’re a metaphor. They’re my partner’s partner, I could be envious of them, and jealous of them at the same time. So yes, we need to sort these out. Because here’s the thing, working with envy isn’t the same as working with jealousy. So I take people through a five step roadmap through jealousy. And in there, we have to address the fact that envy may be one of the emotions working inside your jealousy.

[Joli Hamilton] 28:01
And that luckily, most of envy is a me thing I get to work on in here. It has to do with how I structure my life, what I include in it. So in the example you just gave, I would say, awesome, great, let’s go increase your social aptitude and your social access. Let’s go figure out how we solve that problem. And it has nothing to do with your wife. And this happens all the time when people want to open up.

[Joli Hamilton] 28:24
Many people find that one partner or the other has a much easier time getting access to dates. So you’re going to see asymmetry, one of the things that jealousy is making very obvious is the fact that you’re always in triangles. And there’s always asymmetry, and it’s uncomfortable.

[Joli Hamilton] 28:42
But if we pretend well, and this is where, you know, I think of the government’s house right there their idea of a relationship house and like, Yeah, but most of these houses would actually look a little bit more like Willy Wonka. Dr. Seuss, right? Like we’re filled with asymmetries.

[Joli Hamilton] 28:58
So the idea that things will be the same for us and our partner, if we can let go of that and instead decide oh, what if it’s my job to decide how I need the world? My partner my anchor partner who lives with me? Yeah, incredibly shy, much more reserved than I am. Is dating harder for him. Yep, it is. And it’s also his opportunity. It’s where he gets to stretch his in his own personal growth is into what does that mean?

[Joli Hamilton] 29:27
What does you know? How does he deal with that? And that goes for friendships as well. Even if you’re talking about monogamy like he’s also he has less access to friends, less access to general conversation. It doesn’t just happen for him for me I talk all day long. He has to go make those opportunities and so many men are used to relying on wives especially in sexual mono normative relationships used to relying on their wives for their circle, social connection. Your friends are

[Jon Dabach] 29:54
The moms of other kids in the school and then when you get

[Joli Hamilton] 29:58
Non monogamy what’s that? Open, it just busted open all of a sudden you are responsible for something that we have assigned to the feminine that does not belong to the feminine. It absolutely does not


[Jon Dabach] 30:10
So interesting. Is there a non-monogamous type of relationship or definition that would still only have sex as a couple? And what would that look like? Because a lot of people hear this and they go, it’s just a sex thing. And I think it’s important to talk about Yeah, that’s part of it, but it’s maybe it’s not for some people.

[Joli Hamilton] 30:35
Okay, so we can definitively say it is not about the sex for everyone. And here’s how we know this for sure. There are asexual people and celibate people who are in non-monogamous relationships. So since asexuality exists people who do not experience any sexual drive or interest, right, and there are non-monogamous, there must be a way to do that. So we know what exists.

[Joli Hamilton] 30:57
But there are plenty of people who do engage in sex, they may even have a thriving delicious, lovely sex life with their I call my person, my anchor partner, but their spouse or whoever, and they just don’t have sex with other people. And yet, they may experience openness in other ways. So here are some of the ways that might look.

[Joli Hamilton] 31:18
They might cohabitate with other adults, they might co parent with other adults. And I don’t just mean like, we’re divorced. And so we have to co parent I mean, intentional, like, we’re going to start a family together, even though we don’t have sex together.

[Joli Hamilton] 31:31
They may. I’ve known I’ve been involved in this many times shared ownership of property, pets, or businesses with another person who then they become deeply involved with in fact, about a third of my clients have business partners that now sort of crossed this line of like, well, we’re not sexual partners, but they aren’t just friends either. And they’re not just you hear

[Jon Dabach] 31:53
The terms work wife work husband, I mean, there’s, there’s an implication there for sure.

[Joli Hamilton] 31:59
And, right, and so the number one way is emotional availability, emotional vulnerability. I know that this this is a tender topic, right? Because in cisgender, heteronormative world right and that monogamous world, that’s that’s that we get such a picture of.

[Joli Hamilton] 32:17
There’s this idea that if so, if my husband has a best friend, who happens to be a woman, that there’s something wrong here that like this, this is this does not add up to a safe, monogamous situation for me. But somehow, if he had a friendship with a guy wouldn’t be okay. And so he has friendships with guys. But my husband came out as bisexual in his 40s. So what now?

[Joli Hamilton] 32:44
And as a person who’s been out as bisexual my whole life, this has just never made any intuitive sense to me. So I think this might be one you have to explain to me. I never had the experience of waking up every morning. And just knowing I’m not attracted to half the population. That never happened for me. Instead, I get up and I’m friends with some people, I hate some people, I love some people, and I really want to have sex with some people. That’s, that’s just how it works for me.

[Joli Hamilton] 33:09
So my clients often find that their sweet spot for figuring out what their creative monogamy is, is figuring out what sex actually is, why they have it. And then who they have that with. Most people don’t know why they’re having sex, or what even qualifies as sex to them.

[Joli Hamilton] 33:30
I have met hundreds of married couples having sex for years who cannot define for me what sex is. I’ve met 1000s of sex educators, we all get together in big rooms, and we try to define sex, there are no two similar definitions. So when you say hey, does it have to be about the sex? Or could it not be very easily? First off, define what sex is? And then define what emotional vulnerability is?

[Joli Hamilton] 33:58
And now you have a real conversation about how you maintain exclusivity, if that’s what you’re looking to do if you’re looking to maintain some form of monogamy. Exclusivity? How do you like how do you know? And like you said, if flirting, for instance, is a deal breaker, right? If that’s the deal breaker, cool, you better define for me what flirting is what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it walks like what it talks like, because if you don’t, then you will not be able to identify it.

[Joli Hamilton] 34:27
Which means it doesn’t actually matter if you have that rule. Because you didn’t define your terms. As a scholar, I know the first thing I have to do is just find my terms. And if you have a person who is not going to uphold their monogamous promises, then it doesn’t matter whether you define your terms, you’re going to find out pretty fast.

[Joli Hamilton] 34:46
If you do define your terms, watch, they’ll break in many ways. Like, if they’re going to if they’re going to violate agreements, they’re going to violate agreements. Then you have a different question on your hands. You have a do I want to be with a person who won’t keep their promises? So

[Jon Dabach] 35:00
It’s so thick. I mean, I don’t know how else to say there’s so there’s so many layers to it. Can I ask you? Why what did was the driver for you to choose something that was more complicated that needed more sensitivity versus the cut and dry option that you were in? You know, what was the driver for you?

[Joli Hamilton] 35:24
Um, the driver initially was that I like the very first moment was, oh my God, I feel this deep longing in my being to spend lots of time with this person. Maybe that will be sex maybe that will be really deep intellectual conversations. I’m CPO sexual. So maybe, but I want to be with this person. So is lust but not just sexual lust, like this drive toward a person.

[Joli Hamilton] 35:53
And then I realized that monogamy had never been cut and dry. For me. It was incredibly uncomfortable, constrictive. It was never simple. I don’t find monogamy to be simple. I think the troubles and tribulations of monogamy are far more complicated than non-monogamy.

[Joli Hamilton] 36:08
I actually prefer the challenges of non-monogamy and find them much easier to surmount than the problems and trap challenges of monogamy. So the psychologist James Hillman talks about, it’s not so much about which path is right, but which mess do you like? I like this.

[Jon Dabach] 36:27
I think that’s a really fair answer. I think that’s really insightful. I know you have these virtual salons where people can kind of come and learn with you. How can they join? How can they find out about them? Because I think there’s going to be, like you said, 5% or 20% of people who are like, maybe I need to really revisit the way I approached this.

[Jon Dabach] 36:49
And I think you use you seem to have a really sensitive but still academic handle on it. That’s kind of empowering for the right person. So I think you’re kind of a good fit. Where can they find you?

[Joli Hamilton] 37:03
Yeah, so the cool thing about the salon is it come so go to Joli hamilton.com, you’ll see there’s a free virtual salon right in the top right corner. If you show up in the salon, here’s what you’re going to get, you’re going to show up in a space, you can leave your camera off, you can change your screen name, but it is a room that you’re in with me, I’m going to explain to you the five pillars that you need to put in place if you’re going to even broach the subject of non-monogamy.

[Joli Hamilton] 37:33
And then you can ask me questions, most people just don’t know where to begin this conversation. And so I love the salon because it gives me a chance to teach you really key information, key information that will help you no matter what kind of relationship you’re in. The five pillars of doing non-monogamy really well will serve you in every kind of relationship, but they are essential to do non monogamy.

[Joli Hamilton] 37:58
So you show up, you spend an hour with me, you can ask me direct questions about how to approach this. And if you are thinking to yourself, like I don’t know, like if this is safe, you can also have privacy come in, change your name, you know, bring a drink, relax, it’s, um, I do these monthly and I find them to be the best way for people to just dip their toe in the water and find out like, Is this something I could even consider?

[Jon Dabach] 38:25
Yeah, that’s fantastic. So they can you can find out at Joli hamilton.com. That’s JL Li hamilton.com also post some other links in the show notes for you. Dr. joli. Hamilton, thank you so much for being here and really sharing your own personal experience.

[Jon Dabach] 38:41
I really appreciate when people are as like an open book like you are and really kind of, you know, dropping some bombs. I know I have a session tonight even with a client where I’m like, oh, that envy jealousy kind of drawing the line is going to be so helpful for this couple.

[Joli Hamilton] 38:57
Yeah, that’s the thing. Yeah. Thank you so much for asking that question. You know, I teach a jealousy masterclass and people are often blown away by all the things that they never know about jealousy

[Jon Dabach] 39:07
We use it we use the term jealous parents right? So if our if my kid if I’ve heard and so if one of them was playing with a toy, the other one was like Don’t be jealous and it’s like, well, that’s not accurate. It really is envy. And so you just get lazy and you start just assigning that jealous term to everything.

[Joli Hamilton] 39:24
Right and it hamstrings us as adults when we go to try to describe what we’re really feeling and have our partners help us through these big feelings. Jealousy is not a me problem or a wheat problem. It’s both is me and we and it’s an opportunity and if you work with it, well you can actually get closer to your partner when

[Jon Dabach] 39:46
If you’re interested in learning how to get the absolute most out of your romantic relationships then you’re in luck because I have put together a free workshop or masterclass if you will about three secrets that People in happy relationships have discovered you can view the workshop and mrspirituality.com/three secrets again it’s completely free. Just go there and watch it. It’ll help you on your journey give you some wisdom some things to think about. The website again is mrspirituality.com/three secrets. That’s mrspirituality.com/the Number three, the word secrets. It’s all yours. Enjoy.


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