OpenCon


So, here we are trying to balance both our needs with the added foreign language difficulty of the local community and that we are far from our friends and family. I was looking for some kind of support group to help us, to get some advice from others who have been through the same kind of mono-poly balancing act. Of course, the workshops and conferences here were all in the local language. Luckily, I found an unconference in the UK… OpenCon.

Off we went to the middle of nowhere deep in Dorset, even hitching a ride there with another conference-goer from London. We arrived to an eclectic throng of people – all talking with each other, smiles and friendly faces abound. We went through an introduction round, split up in to pods so that we were all talking to people who we haven’t met before. My opinion of the people there didn’t change the whole time – all really nice people and it was a joy to work with them through some really heavy topics, never feeling under pressure, never feeling judged, never feeling disapproval. It was a wonderful atmosphere for such an event, including a nice-sized sauna that got quickly full of guests and was basically a nice social room. For the weekend, W and I selected a few workshops that were really important to us and I’ve summarised what I took away from them here:

Healthy relationships

This was a tough workshop, really digging down in to past bad experiences in order to figure out explicitly what we each individually need from a new relationship – only with knowledge can we act to get it and avoid the pitfalls of the past.

Mental health

Dealing with mental health issues and especially the barriers faced when getting professional help that understand and supports non-monogamous lifestyles. Important for us was also discussion about how to help a partner who has mental health issues and what not to do (or at least how to find out what not to do).

Communication, relationship and interaction styles

Discussion about things like introversion/extroversion, autonomy/intimacy, etc. Very relevant for us as we seem to lie on opposite ends of these different scales. Oddly, I seem to lie on the end of the scales that is more associated with monogamy and W is at the end that is more associated with polyamory.

Leaf nodes

This one was especially for W – for people who only have one partner, but whose partner has multiple. I was really happy to see W’s engagement and interaction here. Obviously, the discussion went quite deep, but the TL;DR version of what I took away from this workshop was:

  • Self confidence – It’s not about you. It’s not your fault or a flaw in you that your partner wants to have other partners. Enjoy your relationship and enjoy the release of pressure of not needing to be perfect.
  • Talk with your metamours – Even if you don’t like them, some kind of cordial relationship is good. It’s really hard to open up a line of communication when emotions start flying. Best to do it before anything happens.
  • Use the time – Go out with friends, read a book, have an hour-long soak in a hot bath. Enjoy some alone time and occupy your mind if you find yourself with jealous thoughts always flowing through your mind.
  • Build a strong relationship – Make sure you spend enough quality time together. If you’re confident in your own relationship, you’re less fearful of your partners other relationships.
  • Communicate (of course) – Jealousy and other issues will crop up. Don’t try to hide it or suppress it, but communicate them constructively. Your partner should accept and support you and figure out ways to reduce or eliminate your triggers. At the same time though, your partner shouldn’t be bullied in to completely changing behaviour to suit you.
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