Martha Kauppi joins me in talking about her book, “Polyamory: A Clinical Toolkit for Therapists (and Their Clients)” which acts as an aid for therapists and serves as a self-help manual for people who are considering polyamory or encountering problems around polyamory.
What is polyamory?
Martha defines polyamory as an open relationship where some or all partners have agreed to have more than one romantic and/or sexual partner. Her book caters to all forms of ethical non-monogamous relationships; even the ones that might have started out rocky.
Is polyamory an identity or a choice?
Martha believes polyamory could be an identity for some and a choice for others. While some consider it something that they choose, others identify themselves as polyamorous because they’ve always known that their relationship dynamic would involve more than one intimate partner. For some, their choice could later develop to be an identity.
Martha says that people choose to be polyamorous for several reasons; they could want to explore their sexuality, a kink, a fetish, or a desire discrepancy that they could not explore with their partner. To resolve the problems in their relationship and fulfill their desires at the same time, people find polyamory a logical option.
The benefits of polyamory
While polyamory allows someone to have multiple partners and experience different kinds of sex, it’s also an opportunity to form a supportive and caring family. People develop communication skills and endurance in a polyamorous relationship, and along the way, it opens one up to personal, relational, and emotional growth. Martha’s book addresses these topics and offers strategies to improve and apply these skills in and outside of the relationship.
Pitfalls and how to overcome them
Martha says that coercion is one of the biggest pitfalls. To avoid it, one has to figure out what they want, feel, or value beyond just the terms of polyamory or monogamy, but what they represent to their partner, and how to come to a place where they can advocate for themself. It eliminates the possibility of being pushed into saying yes but also allows one to expand their thinking and consider all options. Unlike monogamy, in polyamory, people are not subjected to choose between who to pursue. People can choose both or many and decide the dynamics of each relationship.
Emotional regulation and jealousy
Emotional self-regulation helps manage difficult emotions that are triggered in polyamory, such as jealousy. While co-regulation is seen often it’s not always reliable. Martha emphasizes that one has to decide to manage these emotions, and then have an honest and open conversation to address things before they’re revealed in a way that can’t be avoided.
How to make strong agreements
Skills in ‘differentiation of self’ aid in making strong and sustainable agreements. A strong agreement is one that all partners agree on and revisit before it’s broken. It’s more important to figure out how to make a strong agreement one at a time than having one at all.
Martha encourages people to find a therapist who is willing to work with them to develop skills that make it possible to have a relationship that they desire.
Martha Kauppi is a marriage and family therapist, educator, and AASECT-certified sex therapist and supervisor with a lifelong career in health and sexuality. Martha specializes in working at the intersection of sex and relational issues. She creates and presents educational materials that are based on theory and scientific knowledge while also being practical, effective, and immediately applicable by therapists and their clients.
Resources and links:
Book: Polyamory: A Clinical Toolkit for Therapists (and Their Clients) – released on 15 May 2021. Available at Rowman & Littlefield, Amazon, and in UK outlets
Sex Health Quiz – https://www.sexhealthquiz.com
The Course – https://www.intimacywithease.com
The Book – https://www.sexwithoutstress.com
Podcast Website – https://www.intimacywithease.com
Access the Free webinar: How to want more sex without it feeling like a chore: https://intimacywithease.com/masterclass