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  #1  
Old 02-24-2014, 08:09 PM
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JadeDoor JadeDoor is offline
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Default Anti-Poly Counselor

I've been seeing the same counselor for about five years now. I love her. She really challenges my view points on things and doesn't just sit back and listen for an hour. I walk out feeling refreshed and sometimes I have "homework" to work on. I love it.

Anyway, she is very anti poly. She says she has never once seen it work and that it often destroys lives. I'm not sure what to say to that. Yes, my marriage ended, but not because of poly. Because he was physically and emotionally abusive of me and was not the right person to be involved in polyamory (or any relationship) with.

I don't want to have to find a new counselor, but I worry that her view points may cloud her ability to help me with other issues.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:40 PM
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I've often thought of these types of problems. I don't have any personal experience to share, just a few thoughts. Well, I have seen counselors and therapists, but not about poly.

Quote:
She says she has never once seen it work and that it often destroys lives.
Dan Savage once said that he's never been invited to a 5 year poly anniversary and "good f***ing luck to you if you make it work," so your counselor is not alone in her opinion.

HOWEVER, I would like to point out that personal ignorance does not mean universal truth! Just because she has not done her research or homework doesn't mean she is right! Perhaps you can go with some ammunition!

Secondly, I disagree that "poly destroys lives" - to me that sounds like she is projecting her mono-normative values and making a baseless assertion. As you pointed out, there are many people who are unfit for any relationship let alone a poly relationship!

Again, she's not completely alone in her opinion. I've read many blogs and things written by people who felt like polyamory destroyed their marriage. Just do a quick Google search of "polyamory destroyed my marriage" and you'll see there is no shortage of anecdotes.

My personal theory is that if something outside of a marriage could 'destroy' it, then the marriage was probably doomed to begin with. In some cases, one partner wants to explore polyamory and goes wild, leaving the monogamous partner feeling abandoned and neglected. That is the fault of an irresponsible partner, not polyamory!

But then look at the other side. There's plenty of evidence and talk that polyamory and non-monogamy are really legit and healthy.

Anyways, since you like your counselor so much, have you considered asking her to read up on the subject? You could even bring her a magazine or a print-out. Or email her a link. I would make it clear that you really value her insight and that you would like her to become more familiar with your lifestyle.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:51 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JadeDoor View Post
I've been seeing the same counselor for about five years now. I love her. She really challenges my view points on things and doesn't just sit back and listen for an hour. I walk out feeling refreshed and sometimes I have "homework" to work on. I love it.

Anyway, she is very anti poly. She says she has never once seen it work and that it often destroys lives. I'm not sure what to say to that. Yes, my marriage ended, but not because of poly. Because he was physically and emotionally abusive of me and was not the right person to be involved in polyamory (or any relationship) with.

I don't want to have to find a new counselor, but I worry that her view points may cloud her ability to help me with other issues.

Thoughts?
It's unlikely that she would ever see people in a successful poly relationship because they would not seek her out, just as successful mono couples do not. So of course she has never seen poly work. And unlike mono couples, poly people are often closeted, so another avenue to know successful poly people is barred. Therefore her view is skewed. Perhaps, she would consider doing actual research to better educate herself?

Last edited by bookbug; 02-25-2014 at 03:53 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 02-25-2014, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
Dan Savage once said that he's never been invited to a 5 year poly anniversary and "good f***ing luck to you if you make it work," so your counselor is not alone in her opinion.
Let's list out some of the problems with Mr Savages "point" here. In no particular order:

1. Longevity is not the benchmark of a healthy relationship. Longevity is the benchmark of lifelong associations. To say that poly doesn't work because poly relationships are not as long as monogamous relationships is faulty logic - even if it were true.

2. His sample size is either miniscule or manicured. I personally know two poly groups who have been together for more than 5 years and are fully functional happy people. For a famous relationship personality like Savage to say that he's never seen it either means that he ignores reality or that... well my guess is he's just ignoring reality because it gets in the way of his being "right"

3. It's a self-fulfilling social stigma. Monogamy arrangements have a chance because there is firm social tradition in the US which encourages it, nourishes it, makes excuses for it, ignores the facts for it, and represses all other forms of relating. If Savages statement were any representation of reality (it isn't) he would really only have himself to blame for continually applying negative pressure to poly.

Look at this therapist as a fine example of the stigma. This educated person who should have some kind of insight about how people work is really just a monogamy Juggernaut and further making sure that monogamy has support and poly does not. If poly arrangements were to struggle more than mono arrangements would it really be a shock to anyone? Would it really be the simple assertion that "poly can't work"? Or could it be that surviving alone, on an island, in a mono-only society is more difficult than just giving in and practicing monogamy?
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:46 PM
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And what is a "Poly anniversary"?

Our relationships are separate from my POV - if I'm together with my partner for 5 years, is that not an anniversary outside of his other relationships? Does it have to involve multiple people for it to count?

Dan Savage wouldn't be invited to ours because there won't ever be a "we've all been together this long" party. Well, that and we don't know the man.
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Dramatis personae:
Me: Mono. Divorced, two kids, two cats, one house with many projects.
Chops (previously 'P'): My partner of ~3 years. Poly. In relationships with me, Xena, and Noa.
Xena (previously M1): Poly. In relationships with Chops and Noa, and dating others.
Noa (previously AG): Married, Poly. In relationships with Chops and Xena (individually).

My navel-gazing blog thread:
A Mono's Journey Into Poly-Land (or, "Aw hell, there's no road map?!")
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  #6  
Old 02-25-2014, 04:43 PM
WhatHappened WhatHappened is online now
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I'm going to guess Dan Savage's point is that very few secondary/outside relationships in poly hit the five year mark. I've read repeatedly that most of them don't last beyond about 2-1/2 years.
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  #7  
Old 02-25-2014, 05:02 PM
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In no way was I meaning to imply that I was on board with what Dan Savage said in this video.

As Marcus points out, he's really not coming from the right angle.

My point was, however, that even outspoken advocates who you'd think would be defensive of poly are still critical. Even a progressive, socially liberal counselor could fall victim to that skepticism that Dan Savage espouses. It's an uphill battle to gain any sort of social acceptance.

Mostly, I think the public perception is that this is a trendy new 'thing'. I know a lot of young people (teenagers) that are keen to try it out and take it up, and of course they are making glorious fools of themselves. But at least they are trying.
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2014, 05:25 PM
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The way I see it, if you have a good relationship with your therapist otherwise, than just don't talk about poly right now. Work on your other issues. Good therapists are hard to come by. When you're at a point where you think you may be able to start dating again, then find a poly therapist. . . I have a friend who sees one therapist for herself and a different therapist with her boyfriend (who is open relationship friendly). This way their individual therapists can't take sides.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:05 PM
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This reminds me of critics who claim they can't believe in evolution because they can't see it happening.

To be fair, too, you can probably also claim, in her line of work, that monogamy doesn't work either. What are the odds she has seen or know of a lifelong marriage?

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-125.pdf

Only about 50% have hit 40 years.
(Tables 4, 4a, 4b)
Even worse, the rate of marriages hitting 10 years fell from over 80% to under 80% in the last 50 years, attributed to ease of divorce and changing social norms. The good news is that the rates are going up again, since 1975.

So the point is, really, selection bias. Her livelihood is dominated by failures, not successes, and the more people involved in any endeavor, the more points of failure there is. That's how hardware works; moving parts are failing parts, and the more moving parts, the more failing parts.
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Old 02-25-2014, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spock View Post
So the point is, really, selection bias. Her livelihood is dominated by failures, not successes, and the more people involved in any endeavor, the more points of failure there is. That's how hardware works; moving parts are failing parts, and the more moving parts, the more failing parts.
That's a really good point. Healthy, happy, untroubled individuals are less likely to go see a counselor. Furthermore, poly people may be more likely to hide their lifestyle from counselors and seek support elsewhere. I wonder if this counselor HAS actually unknowingly helped poly people?
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