Ask Dr. Katrina ” I am no longer Monogamous”

Dear Dr. Katrina, 
First, let me say that I really love your Podcast, I have learned so much by listening to it, and I a beginning to think that I might not be as monogamous in terms of my dating lifestyle as I originally thought. I am currently in a monogamous relationship and would love to share these newfound thoughts with my girlfriend but I am afraid that she won’t react very well to this news. Do you have any advice for how to handle this situation?
– Love 
Awakened in Ohio
Hi Awakened,

So lovely to hear from you! We thank you for listening to our podcast and are glad that you are enjoying it. As for your question, that’s a tough one. What a range of emotions you’re feeling, huh? Excitement for learning new information about yourself, but trepidation in bringing it up to your partner. Congrats to your for exploring who you are and breaking the mold of acceptability in what relationships should look like.

There are several ways you can handle it. First, you can try to work your partner up to it, perhaps by listening to our podcast with her and engaging in a conversation about non-monogamy. This would allow you to check in with her before bringing up your newfound thoughts. Second, you can just come out with it. Tell her that you want to discuss some new thoughts you have and would appreciate it if she was supportive and non-judgmental about what you are about to tell her because its hard to express it to her. Keep in mind that your partner may not respond in the way you might expect, whether that is more positive or more negative. If she responds negatively, know that many people have a negative reaction because having your partner tell you they might want to be with other people may stroke some deep issues of low self esteem. She might be thinking “I’m not good enough, so she wants to be with other womyn.” This type of reaction although somewhat normal is due to the limiting ideas that our society teaches us about relationships. Monogamy is not the only way to have a partner. But, it is the most traditional way of relating to romantic partners. Even from an evolutionary standpoint, people and other animals are not necessarily meant to be with one partner the rest of their lives. Most species get down with so many others during their lifetimes, and that is normal. And, we are, of course, attracted to others outside of our partners; however, it’s frowned upon to express such attractions. How stifling to have a normal part of our biology and evolutionary drives forced into such an impossible “box” called monogamy.

Congrats to you for deciding to take this step towards becoming a fuller and more evolved you. Amazing! Good luck with your girlfriend and I would love an update! Take care and be well!
 Dear Dr. Katrina
Often times we hear the saying ” Love your self, because if you don’t how can you expect anyone else to know how.”  I am currently suffering from depression and anxiety and it troubles me to think about struggling with my personal feeling about myself and what other people think of me which leads to feelings of being unloved and unattractive. Do you have any thoughts or advice?
– J from Florida

Hi J!

Why is loving ourselves so hard? We’re all so different and amazing! I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to eat the same meal everyday. Yet, society tells us that we all need to measure up to a particular ideal of the “perfect” (i.e. male, white, heterosexual, etc) person to be worthy. This systemic oppression leads us to believe whether subconsciously or consciously that we are not good enough. It’s impossible to live up to such an idea of perfection that no one can achieve. This striving for the impossible causes many people to have difficulties with depression and anxiety.

I’m so sorry that you are feeling this way. We all deserve happiness and love. Unfortunately, it becomes so difficult to find those things in life because of all the negative external events and people that affect our inner happiness. We are not born disliking ourselves, we are taught to do so. Which means, we can re-teach ourselves to love ourselves again.

Here’s a place you can start. Check in with the thoughts that pop up in that lovely head of yours. There are many thoughts that run through our heads throughout the day, particularly negative ones, that we do not even realize we are having. Nonetheless, they can dramatically affect how we feel and in turn our behavior towards ourselves and others. I would suggest you writing down these thoughts and taki a good look at where your brain goes when it is feeling sad or anxious. I bet you will find a theme there. Those thoughts can give you an idea of the issues that are really making it difficult for you to live happily. I often tell my clients in therapy, having an awareness of the things that make us upset can help us intervene in our negative thought patterns and stop them from taking us to a darker place. Awareness can help you find the light you are looking for. Let me give you an example of what I am saying. For instance, if your thought is “I am incompetent in everything I do,” it may make you feel sad and worthless, which may lead you to close your self off to others who could be a support for you. Let’s take the same scenario and instead, after you acknowledge that you have had the thought “I am incompetent in everything I do,” you could check the facts of that statement. You know you are not completely incompetent because you have a job, which implies that you are competent, you have a family you take care of well, and you have skills that perhaps others don’t have.

Our thoughts can get out of control and lead us to believe things that are not really true even with evidence to refute said thoughts. This can make us feel helpless. But, we can gain some control. Our brains are capable of change and we can have an effect on that change by balancing the learned negativity with positive and loving thoughts towards ourselves. And, remember, you are a unique person and this world would literally not be the same without you.

Lastly, I encourage you to talk with your therapist or find a therapist that can help you find ways to be kinder and more loving towards yourself because you deserve it. Take care and be well!
Have Questions for Dr. Katrina? Let us know by sending an email to
Katrina Sanford, PsyD is a Clinical Psychologist and Sex therapist practicing in Seattle, WA. A trauma informed therapist, she works from a social justice integrated approach based in feminist theory and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focused on the holistic treatment of individuals and couples. In addition, she emphasizes the inseparable connection between the mind and body.

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