“If you’re gonna be in a happy relationship, be sure it’s one that you choose”
Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson
Dr. Veronica Anderson, Host, Functional Medicine Specialist and Medical Intuitive interview Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson on Monogamy, Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships.
Are monogamous relationships really better? Experts in sexuality Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson have been teaching and writing about relationships, sexuality, and Tantra since 1999.
In this episode, Mark and Patricia teach you how to empower people with the opportunity to develop partnerships based on their own sexualities, understandings, and agreements. They will also talk about ways to save your relationship and the importance of setting friendship only boundaries. Listen to the end for the mandatory foundation needed for any successful relationship.
Listen to episode 44 on iTunes here or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.
44: Show Notes
Dr. Veronica Anderson’s Links:
01:58 – Emotionally honest men
12:06 – Happy monogamy
14:43 – Debating a breakup
18:40 – Setting friendship boundaries
20:00 – Open relationships
21:10 – Communication issues
23:00 – Speaking your truth
Female VO: Welcome to the Wellness Revolution Podcast, the radio show all about wellness in your mind, body, spirit, personal growth, sex and relationships. Stay tuned for weekly interviews featuring guests that have achieved physical, mental and spiritual health in their lives.
If you’d like to have access to our entire back catalog visit www.drveronica.com for instant access. And here’s your host, Dr. Veronica.
Dr. Veronica: I am Dr. Veronica, medical doctor, medical intuitive, homeopath and I am getting up in my running. We have to talk a little bit about that but also I have with me my co-host, I am in New Jersey, in the middle of New Jersey from the studio in Princeton but Russell is from New York City where I spent half of my life too. Hi Russell? How are you?
Russell: Hello Veronica, I am great, I am here to add a little more interesting ……
Dr. Veronica: Oh, no I didn’t like silence my phone and like you hear it ringing and I do exactly what I hate everybody else to do but, you know what, this is the society now. I can’t stand when people do that and here I am I am doing the same thing but we have got is all fixed now. It just makes it more interesting that these things happen but, let’s go on. Today we are going to have of course some more interesting guests and we always do and I always tell my assistant who is always out there looking for guests, you have got to get somebody that I am interesting in talking to. I don’t want to talk about the same old, same old all the time. Let’s talk about things people want to hear about that will make them tune in. So we have hot guests like that today. But I want us to start off talking about men and emotions. I like to read the New York Times, you know, wake up in the morning and get on my iPad when it’s too early to get up and do anything. This is when I decide I am going to get my news to just see what craziness is going on around and I am not necessarily a celebrity watcher but what craziness is going on and who has done what and what sports teams have won when I fell asleep on it. Because, you know, I am just one of those types of people I start watching and I have all intent of getting to the end of whatever it is but I never bet there. So one of the articles that caught my attention this morning is teaching men to be emotionally honest, teaching men to be emotionally honest. And what the article is talking about and Russell is over there chuckling.
Russell: that sounds like a dog training
Dr. Veronica: Well, some would say that men are very close to that species anyway but. My wonderful producer Alice over here laughing about that out loud. But, the article was putting out how although there is emergence of metro sexuals and the increase of stay at home dads that the tough guys stereo type is still very alive and well and men are only allowed to display the emotion of anger, anger in all its glory but anything else, especially anything that is considered let’s say “soft” like, you know, sadness or pain or anything like that is not supposed to be displayed and it talked about how even when we take our sons to go get shots we say man up, man up don’t do this, don’t do that. If they are crying or whatever they are doing we don’t want to acknowledge that. And there was an experiment done and they talked about in this classroom of people that went out and decided let me just see how different people react to men have any emotional moments. And so these college students went out, they went someplace public and the woman sat where she was and she cried and people came up and said oh what’s the matter, can I help you. The man did the same thing, he sat some place and he cried and nobody came to say anything to him. And so it’s amazing how men are not allowed, we are supped to be so open and honest but men are still not supposed to show the full display of emotions which all humans have and in fact it has been shown in studies that human male babies actually display more emotions than do female babies. And so we go from broad spectrum of emotional beings with males to where there is no emotion that they are allowed to do and this may be why there is so many pent up emotions, there is high levels of violence and suicides and behaviors like this that are just awful for our society and the rest of the world because here we are, we are in America where, you know, maybe people are allowed to display a little bit more soft stuff if you go to other cultures and societies where it’s more, I want to call it old school, I don’t know even what to call it to not be offensive but, you know, there are those countries where it’s still very male dominated and those are more places where men are really not allowed to display a whole lot. And so, I just thought this was something that was interesting that is going on. What do you think about that Russell as far as emotions? Now you are not heterosexual and I would venture to say that you have felt that you could display more emotions than your average heterosexual me. Is that right, wrong where am I on that?
Russell: That I spend most afternoons crying?
Dr. Veronica: No
Russell: Well, yeah I am a homosexual, I am not sure how much that has to do with it directly but being a performer I learned earlier on how to, you know, display emotion and …….. 0:06:35.6 emotion so it doesn’t get away from you in a fit of frenzy and you can use it to serve your needs or what have you.
Dr. Veronica: So you are saying more just because of your background as an actor that you display emotions, it has nothing to do with your personal way of viewing life and how you live it?
Russell: Well, I am not afraid to cry
Dr. Veronica: In public, not on stage
Russell: It has happened but, you know, there is a lot of cliché of course of a gay man going to pieces at sight of …………. 0:07:16.6 because she wore her emotions so on her sleeves and so openly. Oh, yeah I would say actually I have changed my vote a little bit I think it’s both very much. I think we are inspired and loosened up when we see others express themselves.
Dr. Veronica: But do you think that we see men displaying more, if you look at the media men displaying more than just sort of angry emotion or just very super duper masculine one way of doing things emotion.
Russell: Oh yeah, I think things have gotten better for sure.
Dr. Veronica: I think they have gotten a little bit better, you know, I a mother of three sons, I don’t think it has gotten all that better looking over how they are in their generation, you know, they are a lot younger but in the young adult age
Russell: So you don’t feel like they were shown really healthy realm of men who could just …………0:08:18.0
Dr. Veronica: I don’t think they have seed the full range, I think they have seen the full range but feeling comfortable that they can display the full range. I don’t believe that’s what they have seen. I am not saying they haven’t seen it in a personal range stand point but just looking around you I don’t think there is models for that. But, I want to go on because we have some interesting guest here. And this is very, another way of doing it, we are going to talk to Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels who are authors and they talk about designer relationships and this is a different area too where men are allowed to express a little bit different in relationships because we are talking about tantric and erotic empowerment and relationships that are other than your everyday mum and pap go home, monogamy for ever more type relationship. I talked about this because I know a lot of people who in the background of their life are in let’s call it alternative relationships and I say in the background of their life because whenever you live like this and it’s not well accepted you maybe in a relationship where the book is different than what’s accepted and so therefore you don’t come out and so when I say that I know a lot of women who are in relationships where there are a longstanding other woman and they have chosen to be that way. So they are in a relationship that’s a triangle, sometimes the person that’s the wife agrees other times or there is complicit agreement meeting they don’t talk about and they agree but it’s allowed to go on for a long time and everybody figures out what it is. But then there is this other type of relationships where just, it’s more interesting and open and honest than what we see in these relationships where people do not, here is what I call it, don’t have the courage to do it any other way because that’s where I believe it is. So I want to bring on Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels and they are the authors of Designer Relationships, A Guide To Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory And Optimistic Open Relationships. Optimistic open relationships, that’s an interesting one. So Patricia and Mark welcome to Wellness for the Real World
Patricia: Hey we are happy to be here
Mark: Thanks for having us.
Dr. Veronica: Thank you for being on. Give me a little bit of background. This is an area where people say, oh, my God, nobody lives like that, nobody wants to live like that, tell us a little bit about how you evolved into writing a book about positive polyamory and optimistic open relationships?
Patricia: and happy monogamy
Dr. Veronica: and happy monogamy buy, I mean, here is the problem when we talk about happy monogamy, there are a lot of people who stay in relationships that are monogamist, they think, and they are so unhappy. So happy monogamy, first of all tell us how do people come to happy monogamy?
Patricia: Does that sound like an …… 0:12:00.1
Dr. Veronica: yes, but go ahead.
Mark: Well I think one of the key things and it’s really the same regardless of your relationship structure is that if you are going in a happy relationship is one that you choose and one that you keep on choosing. So a lot of people think oh, I am in a monogamous relationship, we have met, we have moved in together, we got married or whatever it is and everything will take care of itself and I don’t really have to think of what it means to be in a monogamous relationship. So they are not really choosing, they are just falling into a default.
Patricia: So our main criticism is about default monogamy, that’s when one where people just get together and they don’t think about the purpose of their relationship, what they are doing together, what they hope to gain and more importantly what does if they choose to be in monogamy, what does that word even mean to them.
Dr. Veronica: It’s interesting you ask what it means to them but I think what happens is people get together, they say ok, we are going to be an exclusive couple and it happens long before you decide to do any legal changes in the relationship and things are going on well but then you get down the line past two years, past when the oxytocin relationship changes off and the excitement wears off and you start feeling like this hmmm, this is a little bit boring. But the other part of it is and I am surprised that I am married again. Why do I say that? I say that because there are so many facets of me that I felt like I am not going to be a monogamous relationship just because this one guy he fulfills this need, this guy feels this need and this and one of my friends to me said you need about five guys because you are a complex person and having about five guys and not expecting one person to fulfill every need will likely work best for you rather than expecting one person to fulfill a need
Mark: That’s very true. I think the big problem in the way that monogamy is so often practiced in our society is that and this is a fairly new thing, I mean, it is only the last a hundred and fifty years or so where this has been expected cultural and maybe even less than that you look to this one other person to be everything for you and that’s an impossible burden for anyone to carry.
Patricia: Yeah, no one can possibly fulfill every need, interest, desire, be emotionally available to or, you know, all in one person. That’s just a heavy burden.
Dr. Veronica: We are all really complex beings. What do you do when you get in a situation when you realize this is just not working for me, I would like something else but yet you want to be true to your partner, faithful to your partner? How do you negotiate those waters? What do you do?
Patricia: I begin to look at what your relationship habits are currently and make sure you are fully appreciating one another in the present sense before you start examining or looking towards shifting anything.
Mark: And then when you two decide that you want to shift, I mean, one thing that we encourage for people even if they are deciding that they are going to remain exclusive is to treat their erotic life together as a joint adventure and not something where it’s a chore or it’s like I am doing this so that the other person will pleasure me or whatever it is. If you really can have a collaborative attitude and say we are going to explore our intimacy and we are going to have fun with it and be playful and it’s not going to be just out of obligation, it’s a joint adventure. That can be really transformational as well even if you are not bringing any other people into the picture.
Patricia: Right, and have a conversation, conversations about what sexuality means to you, I mean, we bring this up because it’s such a core aspect to bringing happiness to many couples albeit not all couples, so I do want to point that out as well.
Dr. Veronica: It’s interesting that you jumped right over into the erotic life and, you know, for different people it’s not only the erotic life and so when somebody, you know, when one of my friends who was saying to me, I need five guys, it wasn’t five guys just because you want to have a variety of sex, it was more about the intellectual stimulation because for somebody like me what makes me feel like I am living life is to always have the intellectual stimulation and because when you are a fast thinking person a lot of times it’s difficult for people to keep up. So it was more about, alright if you want a variety of what you need you just have got to have a lot of people in your life and to be able to have a deed discussion it’s going to have to be a little more intimate than just somebody who is your friend.
Mark: And I think for a lot of people that is who identifies as being in a monogamous relationship, even that kind of intimacy with others can be really threatening but it’s very very helpful and it’s really important to have outside interests and friendships and things that don’t make you just sort of implode on each all the time. For most people it’s really important to have some other outlets. Now, I am not talking about going graping to someone about your partner because that can really lead to more dissatisfaction rather than lust but to have places where you can go and express aspects of yourself that your partner isn’t even interested in.
Dr. Veronica: Yes that’s very true. I believe the person who is not in the relationship, the outside people have to understand what the rules are and it has to be clear that hey. you know what, we are friends but there is not anything else and I believe also in your mind you have to say I have a primary relationship, this is going to be my primary relationship and I am not planning on shifting it because I am happy with this and I would like to be respectful to my partner. So whenever I deal with people who are male who may have interest in me and I don’t know what the interest is, I am always am clear, you know what, I am married, I am happily married, we can be friends but I just want to make sure that we are clear that I am happily married and I am planning on staying that way and don’t try to make it any other way because that would be offensive to me for you to try to move the relationship at another way. And so to think that you are behind the scenes and if I hang in there long enough and if I do things long enough I am going to shift you that relationship. That would be very disrespectful to me. So upfront if you try to do that let me just say game over with you. Do people usually do things like that?
Patricia: I think people approach their relationship very much like that sometimes but there are also people who approach it and say, you know, they have a more open agreement with their primary partner or all their partners that they are with and they have really open and established understanding so that there isn’t someone vying to change the situation that it’s less covert and more upfront.
Mark: I think that setting boundaries whatever your style is and whether there is a possibility that it might become some other kind of relationship or not, it’s much much better to be clear and upfront about that from the start because otherwise it’s really unfair to the other person.
Dr. Veronica: Yes, so Russell you have got to jump in here, I know you are like jumping at the bit to like ask a question about this.
Russell: Well, yeah, I am actually. Hi guys, I am glad you are on today. This is interesting stuff. I am fascinated by what you mentioned about a couple presumably gay or straight who might decide to embark together on a little exploration of other sexual practices like polyamory or open relationships that seems to me really scary. Do many couples do that really?
Patricia: There are studying estimating about ten percent of society are in some form of open relationship.
Mark: Actually in the gay community it’s a much higher percentage than that from the research that’s out there. So, you know, Dan Savage coined that term monogamish to apply to his relationship and that’s fairly common arrangement. I think for a lot of people approaching the subject can be really difficult but relationship satisfaction among the people who are doing various kind of non monogamy is generally higher and also it’s another measure of success in relationship seems to be higher.
Patricia: Right, and so my theory is to why there is higher satisfaction, that isn’t necessarily about how they are behaving in the world, it’s because of what they are doing behind the scenes and that’s communicating and they are communicating very very well and this is something that most couple therapists are dealing with, every couple comes in and the main thing they are addressing is communication issues. So if people learn how to practice how open relationships are done regardless of how they decide to behave they are going to learn how to communicate better and understand one another better.
Dr. Veronica: What do you mean by how open relationships are done?
Mark: Well, when they are done well and people are really being transparent with one another there are lots of things that come into the conversation that in a more convention kind of relationship often would not. It’s the nature of the beast that you have to have good communication if you are going to navigate the complexity ………. 0:22:03.4
Patricia: Right, so you are having more detailed discussions about sexuality, open relationship, people in open relationship tend to practice safer sex at a higher rate than those who are ostensibly monogamous and cheating and they use less drugs and alcohol as well. So there is a lot of detailed discussions about that, also around issues of jealousy.
Mark: Boundaries in general and agreements and understandings. We really encourage people whatever their structure to write a statement of purpose and to think about what their hopes are and their desires for and how they would like to see their relationship evolve. So we are really of all being very purposeful in this and if you can open your relationship it’s important, it’s just crucial to have those conversations.
Dr. Veronica: So, I am sure that the audiences is saying why are we talking about open relationship, this is supposed to a health show? Well this is a health show because, as I say in my medical intuitive side, when people are manifesting in their body their fear, their anger, their sadness, then that turns into a physical disease and then you are sick, and then you are a burden and so you have to learn how to speak your truth and part of speaking your truth is deciding what type of relationship is really going to work for you. And so for those people who are not in a relationship now as you are going into a relationship I think it’s important upfront to speak what your truth is, here is what I believe it’s going to look like for me, this is what I feel like that I need. You have to say what you believe is going to work for you upfront so that the person that you are going into the relationship with of any kind, even if it’s just a hooker, understands what you are doing and why you are doing it as opposed to nobody saying anything and then you have this expectation in your mind as to the way it’s supposed to be. And it’s interesting because at the beginning of my relationship with my husband now, when I first met him I was dating several people and he just made it clear that this doesn’t work for me and although you think I am going to be part of the mix, this is not how I am going to do it. And so we had a lot upfront discussion where we were batting heads about what it was going to look like. Now, he is from a different culture where serial monogamy is the way it’s done, this is the we think, we think serial monogamy is ok, so you can have a lot of partners but you are not supposed to have more at the same time. Whereas, ok, so my husband is from West Africa and this the way they do it, although the men a lot of times have a lot of people in relationships. But not the women where, you know, but here we are in America where I was dating people and so therefore I had no exclusivity with anybody so far as I was concerned and all the other around me were concerned is we are dating and there is no exclusivity that has been discussed it’s all fair game and so we were having a real situation in the beginning about how our relationship was going to look but obviously we figured it or we wouldn’t have had decided to get married. But Patricia and Mark tell people where they can find you just because this is a topic that people want to know about, they don’t want necessarily to talk about. So where do they go to find you.
Mark: And they can order Designer Relationships directly from outside of the website. It’s also available on Amazon and local book stores, etc, it’s out there and people can find it either through our site or other means.
Patricia: Yeah, and this is very new topic so we welcome any questions your listeners might have, we will do our best to find sources for you or answer ourselves.
Dr. Veronica: So now you guys are so interesting, you know that you are going to have to be on the show again because right now we only talked about pretty much the happy monogamy here. I would say there is so much else that we can talk about, so of course if people were saying I want more, I want more, yes you are going to get more because they are going to be on again. We have to talk more about designer relationships because getting a relationship right is so important all your relationships right especially your romantic relationship. And so I thank you so much Patricia and Mark, that’s www.michaelsandjohnson.com go visit them at their website. I am Dr. Veronica, Wellness for the Real World, you can find me at www.drveronica.com.
Female VO: Thank you for listening to the Wellness Revolution Podcast. If you want to hear more on how to bring wellness into your life visit www.drveronica.com. See you all next week. Take care.
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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