Tag Archives: communication

Beautiful Example of Polyaffective Bisexual Diversity



In a recent Cosmopolitan story, Zachary Zane explains why he decided to take his boyfriend’s wife on a date. Zane’s charming tale provides a perfect example of how he and his boyfriend’s wife develop a polyaffective relationship that makes all of their relationships stronger. It also provides a look at a real poly relationship beyond the tired trope of one man with two (or more) women and a one penis policy. Instead, this budding triad/vee has a male hot bi babe.


Like many polyaffective relationships, their emotional connection includes snuggling and some sleeping together in a big bed. It appears that both men identify as bisexual and there remains some possibility of sexual interaction for the triad in the future, but for now Zane reports that they are “rock solid” in their polyaffective relationship:


 Since our little rendezvous a month ago, our relationship has been rock solid. And when I say our, I mean all three of us. My relationship with her, my relationship with him, and I’ll go as far to say their relationship without me. She and I have an understanding of one another and don’t feel in direct competition. Instead of approaching our relationship with the mindset of: How can I make sure my needs are met when they’re up against hers, my mindset is now: How can we work together to make sure all of our needs are met? 



Filed under bisexual, consensual nonmonogamy, dating, diversity, Families, Gender, love, marriage, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, relationships, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized

Response to “I want to be poly and don’t know how to bring it up to my spouse”



One of my readers of my Psychology Today blog recently asked a question that I have heard many times, in many different settings: “I want to be polyamorous but I am not sure how to bring it up to my spouse.” Because the question is so common, I wanted to post the response here for the many others who wonder the same thing.

B asked how to approach his wife of 10 years whom he loves deeply about opening their relationship to allow him to have sex with others. B explained that his wife had lost interest in sex when pregnant with their first child and now they had sex only about three times a year when she gives in so he will leave her alone. That is not enough for B, who identified himself as a very sexual person miserable about neglecting his feelings and desires.



This was my response:

Hi B,

I am sorry you are in this situation, it sounds very painful for both of you. In order to give you advice I would need more information about what you mean when you say: “She has been seen by doctors before about the issue, with no advice or medication that would change our situation.”

By “the issue,” do you mean low sex drive? Have you two talked about why she does not want to have sex? That is key information, and without knowing if it is an issue of sexual orientation, body image, child hood abuse, hormonal imbalance, or any number of things my advice is by definition rather general.

Even with this limited information, I do have three suggestions for you.

1. Try something new: Instead of the kind of pressure that leads her to “fold to my will because she just wants me to leave her alone” try taking intercourse off the table completely and focusing on other ways to be intimate in order to build intimacy and trust. I am talking here about not only cuddling and non-sexual affection, but also massage, hair brushing, deep listening, eye gazing, and spending special time together. Once you have built up some no-pressure intimacy and emotional trust, you can try knew things sexually focused only on her satisfaction. Get a vibrating toy and explore the clitoris with a lot of patience and variety. If sex is only about you and what you want, bending to your will with no thought of her pleasure, then it is no wonder she is not excited to do it. Making sex about her pleasure and desire can make it a lot more fun for her, something she might be more excited to do more often.

2. Communicate honestly about needs and try hard to meet them: If your wife feels well loved, seen, heard, appreciated, and that her needs are being met, then she is much more likely to feel OK about you directing sexual/emotional/relational energy to other people. In contrast, if your wife feels overworked, under-appreciated, demeaned, rejected, dismissed, or starved for attention, then the idea of you giving your positive vibes away to someone else when she already doesn’t get enough herself is not going to be popular. She will only feel comfortable sharing if she feels like she has gotten enough in the first place, so focus on communicating about what you each need and how to best meet those needs.

If she is unable to communicate about her needs, feelings, and desires, then it is highly unlikely that your wife will be able to communicate enough to sustain a poly relationship. Poly relationships require a lot of communication about feelings, talking about what people want and don’t want to happen, how people are going to spend their time and money, and how to protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you two can’t talk about your own relationship, then focus on improving your communication before involving another person.

3. Get some professional guidance: Understanding the reasons behind sexual reluctance and considering if/how to approach consensual non-monogamy can be an incredibly challenging endeavor that promises pain, personal growth, and the unknown. Seeking support to deal with the underlying issues can help make the difficult process much more manageable.

If the root of the sexual reluctance is physical (vaginismus) or psychobiological and expresses primarily in a sexual setting, then consider seeing a sex therapist. You can find one at AASECT directory or a poly-friendly sex therapist at the Kink Aware Professionals list.

If her sexual reluctance is rooted in family issues, body issues, relational history, or trauma, then consider seeing a counselor or therapist to deal with the underlying personal and relational issues.

If her reluctance is based in her feeling of not getting her needs met, not being seen validated or understood, or an inability to communicate her needs, then consider relationship coaching with me. I provide one time sessions and ongoing coaching for people considering or trying consensual non-monogamy, BDSM, and other relationship styles. I am happy to talk to you on the phone, meet with you via Skype, or in person if you are in the Atlanta area.

However you decide to deal with your relationship challenges, I wish you both the best in your endeavor.


Elisabeth Sheff




Filed under consensual nonmonogamy, Families, Gender, love, marriage, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, Psychology Today, relationship consultation, relationships, romance, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized

Combating Therapeutic Bias Against CNM Clients

fire fighters.jpg

In my newest Psychology Today blog I complete my series on therapeutic bias. The first blog examined the incidence, sources, and impacts of therapeutic bias against polyamorists and others in consensually non-monogamous relationships, and this second blog provides three ways to combat bias and the resources to follow through.





Leave a comment

Filed under Blog, consensual nonmonogamy, continuing education, diversity, Families, Health, Polyamory, Psychology Today, sex, Uncategorized

Strategies to Manage Jealousy


In my first in a pair of blogs about jealousy I looked at jealousy in polyamorous and monogamous relationships. The second blog details five strategies useful for managing jealousy. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201602/five-strategies-manage-jealousy

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog, consensual nonmonogamy, dating, Families, jealousy, love, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, Psychology Today, relationship consultation, relationships, romance, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized

Alternative Relationship Education Workshop Event

workshop rainbow sign.jpg

The Alternative Relationship Education Workshop Event — AREWE — is scheduled for March 12, 2016 at the Philip Rush Center in Atlanta. I will be teaming with other local professionals to provide an CEU Workshop on sexual, gender and relational diversity – Alternative Relationships! If you’ve ever had to refer a client away because you weren’t familiar or were uncomfortable with their relationship style, join us March 12th. 6 CEUs available for counselors, psychologists, and social workers.  https://relationshipequalityfoundation.org/workshop-registration/

Leave a comment

Filed under BDSM, bisexual, consensual nonmonogamy, continuing education, diversity, Families, Gender, Health, love, marriage, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, race, racism, relationships, Research, romance, sex, sex education, sexuality, social equality, Transgender, White Privilege

The Center for Alternative Lifestyles Hosts Dr. Eli Jan. 30 & 31



If you are going to be in the Denver area January 30 and 31, consider joining me with the Center for Alternative Lifestyles for a weekend of talks on consensual non-monogamies and their related social and legal issues.


Saturday January 30, 2016

10 – 11:30: Types of Consensual Non-Monogamy and When they Work

12:30 – 2pm: Polyamorous Families with Children

2:30 – 4pm: The Importance of Polyaffectivity to Resilient CNM Families

Sunday January 31, 2016

10 – 11:30: Legal Issues Facing Sexual Minority Families and How to Handle Them

12:30 – 2pm: Sexual Variation vs. Paraphilia and Pathology: Changes in the DSM5

2:30 – 4pm: The Pleasures and Dangers of Unicorn Hunting


Venue:   Denver’s Dangerous Theatre

Venue Phone: 303-922-0068


2620 West 2nd Avenue, #1, Denver, Colorado, 80219, United States
For more information see http://coloradocal.com/events/sheff2016/
I hope to see you there!

1 Comment

Filed under BDSM, consensual nonmonogamy, diversity, Families, Health, love, marriage, non-monogamy, open relationships, sex, sex education, Uncategorized

When your partner wants non-monogamy and you DONT



My most recent blog on Psychology Today tackles the challenges people often experience when they find themselves in a mixed orientation relationship in which one person wants monogamy and the other wants polyamory.



Leave a comment

Filed under Blog, consensual nonmonogamy, Families, non-monogamy, open relationships, Polyamory, Psychology Today, relationships, romance, sex, sexuality, Uncategorized