Polyamory & Communication: What’s Really Going On?

Communication is incredibly important in any kind of relationship, especially polyamorous relationships. 

As important as it is, why is it so hard to do successfully?  What is it that keeps us from being really open and honest with our loved ones?  Why do we shy away from being 100% transparent?

More often than not, people choose to be less than 100% transparent because they are afraid they will upset someone.   Maybe what they have to share will upset their partner.  Maybe what they really want to say will mean an evening of processing with their lover and they just don’t have time to do that.  Maybe it’s just easier to skip all of the difficult things and stick with what’s light and fun.  After all, polyamory is supposed to be fun, right?  Hmm…

When we choose to withhold information in service to protecting someone from having feelings or trying to keep a potentially bad situation from turning worse, things get tricky fast.  And, there’s another option – bookending.

Bookending is a simple tool yet powerful way to address any topic of conversation.  In a sense, bookending is a way to preface a conversation.  It helps create a safe place for a conversation to happen.  Bookending has helped scores of clients be more upfront and transparent with their partners.  Bookending has also helped loved ones be able to hold space for their partners when they are wanting to share something that may be difficult to share.

To learn more about bookending, watch the video and read the transcript that follows.

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Hello, my name is Laurie Ellington, poly-coach.com. I wanted to talk with you about a really simple tool called book-ending. Do you know what a bookend is? It’s like you’ve got a whole bunch of books here, information here and you’ve got a bookend on one side and a bookend on the other side. There’s a beginning over here, there’s all of the content, and there’s the end over here. Why would I even introduce something called book-ending in my coaching sessions? I’m going to tell you.

Let’s imagine that there’s person A and person B. Person A wants to share something with person B, but they really don’t want to share it because person B is not going to like what person A is going to say. Person A is like, “I don’t want to tell my partner this because they’re just going to get mad at me. If I tell my partner that I have a crush on my neighbor, my partner is just going to be pissed because my partner is going to think that I’m going to want to fuck my neighbor all the time.” Whatever, it’s just an example.

Another example could be that person A, they met somebody in the grocery store, they got their phone number. Not only did they get their phone number, but they actually got invited to go this play party. They want to go, but they don’t want to share with their partner, person B, because person B might get really upset and think that person A is going to leave them or something like that. I don’t know, the content varies.

What I’m wanting to share right now is that regardless of the content, it’s really a good idea to preface or bookend, any kind of difficult conversation before you share it. For example, “Sweetheart, I feel a little nervous saying this. I have a story that tells me that you’re going to get upset. I’m going to tell you anyway because I care about you. I just want to be upfront and transparent with what it is I want to do or what my desires are or whatever.”

When we bookend a conversation that might otherwise be really, really challenging for us to say, we’re setting ourselves up with success to be able to enter into a conversation having already created the space to have that conversation.

That may mean something like, “Babe, I feel really embarrassed about this, but like I don’t want to do XYZ. I don’t want you to do XYZ. I’m having a feeling of insecurity or jealousy because you’re going out with this other person. I don’t want to admit that. but that’s what I’m feeling. I just want to let you know that I’m trying to own my experience. I feel really weird about it because I don’t want you to change your plans, but I also just need to have a little bit of love or reassurance or something to help me get through this.”

When we bookend a conversation like that, we’re actually preparing our partner to be ready to hear something that’s really vulnerable to share, and that’s important to do.

I share this because lots of times people will shy away or completely dodge sharing something that’s really important to share with their partner, and there’s another way. You actually can set up a situation where you feel safer, where you feel more okay with your experience. You feel more okay being vulnerable. Try it out, book-ending a conversation or prefacing a conversation. Really great thing. Laurie Ellington, poly-coach.com.

Check out my website, fill out a contact form. I’d love to talk to you about how to create healthy and sustainable open relationships and polyamorous relationships. Laurie Ellington, poly-coach.com. Take care, bye-bye.

To learn more about my coaching technique and to see if working together is the best fit for you, contact me and schedule a Poly-Coach Session today!

About the Author

Laurie Ellington

I teach people how to break through false beliefs and negative behavior patterns. I offer my clients tools that empower their life and their relationships.