When I initially began exploring ethical non-monogamy, way back in the mid-1990’s, the internet was still in its infancy, and I didn’t even know the word “polyamorous” existed. My husband and I had agreed to an open marriage, but what did that mean? We weren’t sure. We felt as though we were navigating through completely uncharted territory, just making it up as we went along. The journey was both exhilarating and terrifying.
I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I also learned some very valuable lessons. To name just a few: Why Dating Someone in a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Relationship May Be Problematic; The Pitfalls of Jealousy (and How to Climb Out of Them ASAP); How to Come Out as Ethically Non-Monogamous – to Friends, Colleagues, Your Own Kids, Your Large and Largely Disapproving Religious Family, and (Finally) on Facebook; Getting Over Painful Breakups with Partners and Metamours; and The Importance of Building Community. Luckily, my graduate work in evolutionary psychology, textual analysis, and communication – along with the eight years I spent as a college instructor – gave me the skills necessary to teach others what I have learned (and continue to learn!) through my own experience.
A core premise of the Radically Rooted philosophy is that sustainable relationships rely on more than the dyadic bonds of romantic love. So many of us have absorbed the mistaken idea that our worth in a given relationship is directly proportional to how much our partner depends on us – and, ironically, how little we depend on them. The reality is that all of us do better when we are part of a thriving community of people who care about one another.
I’ve benefited from living in two different intentional communities. My family and I lived at Stone Curves, a co-housing community in Tucson, Arizona, from 2005 to 2011; since 2014, we’ve lived in an urban ecovillage in Portland, Oregon. In both communities, I’ve weathered the typical forming/storming/norming cycles, which gave me a realistic perspective on what it means to live co-operatively. Thanks to my friends and neighbors, who trusted me to facilitate group meetings even when things got contentious, I developed some ninja-level diplomacy skills – along with a much greater tolerance for disagreement and conflict.
It’s been my great privilege and pleasure to be part of several other local communities as well, including Sex-Positive Portland, the Ecstatic Dance crowd, my fellow PDX writers and storytellers, the inspiring LGBTQ+ patients and practitioners at the holistic health care center where I work part time, and the wise and loving women in my polymamas support group, who always have my back.
Without a doubt, I owe most of my relationship expertise to the extraordinary human beings in my circle of intimates: my lovers and ex-lovers, my dear friends and chosen family, my two remarkable children, and especially my life partners, Tyler and David, who have stuck with me through all the proverbial ups and downs.
Like many people who are well supported in their private lives, I am able to turn some of my attention to the greater good. I am convinced that resilient social networks are the antidote to our current malaise of disconnectedness and discontent. Radically Rooted is my way of translating that theory into practice.