Poly Book Club discussion

The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know About Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love
Smart Girl's Guide > Reading Set 3: Chapters 4 & 5

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Zyriel | 31 comments Target reading for Set 3 is pages 58 - 99, which is Chapter 4. Smart Girl Skills
& Chapter 5. The Biggest Question: Jealousy

Zyriel | 31 comments * Pg 59 Smart Girl Skills - Where Dedeker talks about having a reason to do self work she mentions "long-lasting relationships" which I'm a little disappointed by. This implies that a long lasting relationship is a successful relationship, or that keeping a relationship for a longer duration is preferable over ending it.

* Pg 59 Smart Girl Skills - The definition of commitment is an interesting topic and I like that Dedeker took a stab at it, "a dedication to being the best possible version of yourself that you can be, and maintaining the responsibility of caring for your partners." She further elaborates that it is to not turn away from your partner when things are hard. She associates it with fidelity, which I see defined as "continuing loyalty and support". And she points out the importance of commitment to self, via boundary setting and upholding, "not letting someone bully you into doing something you don't want to"

* Pg 61 Smart Girl Skills - Dedeker says "It is better to have a partner say, 'Yes, I get it. You've told me twice already,' than say, "I had no idea you felt that way! Why didn't you tell me?!" I'm unsure about this. Recommunicating the same thing repeatedly smacks of insecurity and a distrust in your partner's ability to hear and understand. Perhaps she's saying you stop when they make it clear they heard you, but something about the specific statement leaves me unconvinced and I'm trying to evaluate the intent of her statement to see if maybe I feel differently there.

* Pg 61 Smart Girl Skills - Dedeker talks about her struggle being proactive in talking and I can relate to that, and I suspect even spewers could struggle with this.

* Pg 61 Smart Girl Skills - "Don't tell you're partner 'I'm fine.'" - seriously! At least acknowledge you are feeling something and that you're figuring it out. Acknowledge what you DO know.

* Pg 61 Smart Girl Skills - "Your emotional state, while influenced by external events and outside factors, is entirely shapes by your internal decisions about how to react in any given moment." - on the topic of blaming others for your emotions, and the use of I statements. It may be your partner's mistake, but it's you're reaction

* Pg 62 Smart Girl Skills - it's interesting to note the difference between the advice of "never go to bed angry" and H.A.L.T. which says "go to bed angry, and circle back around when not tired"

* Pg 64 Smart Girl Skills - on the topic of NVC, Dedeker says it's effective even when your partner isn't using it it doesn't know how, but I have heard a lot of feedback from people that NVC sounds patronizing and formulaic.

* Pg 65 Smart Girl Skills - I'm amused by Dr. Allen's advice because I've seen a relationship that was just awful at textual communication. They could turn a sweet lovey message into a miscommunication fight. It was incredible. And I don't think, at least for one of them, that long form message would improve things. I don't think they would have slowed down, reread and made sure their message was what they intended and without error.

* Pg 68 Smart Girl Skills - there's something about her example here that seems distasteful to me. Perhaps it's how much it drips with privilege, and disparages poverty and lower education.

* Pg 68 Smart Girl Skills - "when your share the icky, self-consciousy bits of your being with someone you love, it gives both of you the opportunity to collaborate on ways to help both of you feel secure and supported..." She also points out that this sharing isn't meant to be a way of hoping you're partner will change their plans or way of being

* Pg 69 Smart Girl Skills - I really appreciate Dedeker's point about how we teach children to share, but adults haven't always internalized this message well. It makes me think of social programs and how some people are so against them, so staunch in the idea that they owe nothing to others or the greater good of the society they live in... They forget about sharing.

* Pg 70 Smart Girl Skills - I like that she beings up the concept of everyone being on the same team. Fight the problem, not the people.

* Pg 70 Smart Girl Skills - I don't know how I feel about Jessica's approach. Perhaps she's a more mercurial person than I, and this was an effective way to mitigate the events of that but this doesn't necessarily sound healthy. Perhaps it's a method of cultivating positivity, but it sounds like brushing your thoughts and feelings under the rug. I don't know. It doesn't sit quite right.

* Pg 71 Smart Girl Skills - I like this sentiment, "the courage to keep being happy even when someone else says you shouldn't be."

* Pg 71 Smart Girl Skills - "Even within the poly community, you'll find plenty of people convinced that they have figured out the right way to do it, and your open relationship my not meet their standards." This is well said. I certainly have opinions, but I strive to not impressed my judgement on others.

* Pg 72 Smart Girl Skills - "It takes even more guts to let someone you love be free, trusting that they'll still care for you; to keep off the cliff and trust that your wings will approve in the way down." I know this sensation all to well. This is a graphic and accurate representation of what I experienced.

* Pg 73 Smart Girl Skills - I really like her definition of self care. "You should endeavor to give your body what it needs to be healthy, your mind what it needs to be peaceful and focused, and your soul what it needs to feel content."
* I'm amused that my immediate reaction to the suggestion of 30 minutes of self care daily was "that's outrageous". And then a partner reminded me that I've been endeavoring to have a quiet hour every morning between getting up and going to work. I'm terrible at implementing it, but it's something I want, it sounds peaceful.
* I love her ideas of choosing activities. Even when I get up early I find myself gravitating to the computer, which is not peaceful and not what I want to do with that time.

* Pg 81 Jealousy - "She also gets jealous of what other women have ... and will make passive-aggressive remarks or gossip to others about it" This is definitely the definition I have of catty, most specifically the passive-aggressive commentary bit.

* Pg 82 Jealousy - I've experienced the jealousy = love issue from the other side. In Polyamory, I've had a partner that thought because I wasn't jealous, because I encouraged him to see other people, that it indicated a lack of love or commitment.

* Pg 83 Jealousy - I appreciate that she points out that jealousy is an emotion, like any other, and that emotions aren't intrinsically good or bad.

* Pg 83 Jealousy - "the most common hangups that trigger jealousy are comparisons, competition, fear, and loss of control." Though she makes it clear these aren't the only sources.

* Pg 84 Jealousy - Dedeker talks about the distinction between comparisons, and the meaning we put behind them.

* Pg 86 - I wish she'd dug deeper into scarcity and abundance and the interaction with jealousy and dating. There's a lot to this concept, psychologically. I did enjoy how she paired scarcity with ownership and objectification.
* "People are not property and love is not a limited resource. People can't really be given, taken, stolen like treasure, won like a prize, or shared like a toy."

* Pg 87 - Dr. Rankin's suggestion of giving permission for someone to break your heart is intriguing. It sounds similar to recognizing that every relationship ends, but it seems a little less final, a little more accepting of interim situations. I like it. It sounds like a very good self exercise.

* Pg 88 - Dedeker points out that reacting to jealousy by trying to exert control doesn't solve the jealousy. It's trying to tackle the symptoms rather than the source.

* Pg 91 Jealousy - "A more indirect way of controlling your partner is by choosing to make her wrong. This means projecting your negative feelings, leveling shame, guilt, or personal attacks, and blaming your partner for making you feel jealous." I've seen this in action, witnessed in a relationship I wasn't in. This brings clarity to what I observed. It did result in one person being deceptive, or in doing things they knew would make trouble and then fearing to tell their partner about it.

* Pg 91 Jealousy - I don't appreciate her use of the word egalitarian here, using the term "rigid egalitarianism". It doesn't use the word with the proper connotation. Egalitarianism is the concept of equality, of equal opportunity, it is not sameness.

* Pg 93 Jealousy - "Relationship structure and agreements are formed with a focus on avoiding the discomfort and pain at all costs, rather than on creating joy and pleasure." This is an interesting perspective that I think I sort of grasped but hadn't seen in words. I've seen rules associated with "offloading risk" and this seems like a different way to frame the idea .

* Pg 93 Jealousy - Dedeker points out that jealousy, rather than a thing to be immediately shot down, is a signal of something. I wish she'd have said so in much clearer language though because this is a really important concept. I do appreciate that she talks about accepting change as a foundation for embarking on nonmonogamy.

* Pg 94 Jealousy - The distinction between wallowing and feeling your emotions is one I've never seen before. When hearing the suggestion to let myself feel my emotions I assumed that included wallowing, was largely made up of it, but Dedeker says no. She points to literal physical sensation as feeling the emotion, and overcome those sensation. That isn't how I have been interpreting the phrase "sitting with your emotions" and I'm curious if I'm the only one. Have I misinterpreted this or is this a specific take of Dedeker's. It's notable that her approach sounds a lot like the "Focusing" method too.

* Pg 97 Jealousy - I haven't seen the "pay it forward" technique as a coping mechanism and I'm intrigued, particularly with the idea that it doesn't have to be directed at a partner. What a lovely opportunity to reach out to friends and family and affirm them.

* Pg 98 Jealousy - I find Julia's quote confusing and problematic. What had gender to do with anything? She doesn't even circle back to it in her own statement. Her pointing out that her experiences with jealousy are "few and far between" doesn't lend much weight to her statement.

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