Recently, the Multiamory podcast featured two special episodes with guests Kenya K. Stevens (episode 236, Progressive Love Academy) and Kathy Labriola (episode 238: The Polyamorous Break Up Book). Kathy outlined the “Big Seven” reasons why relationships fall apart. Kenya, on the other hand, enlightened viewers about the glue that can put them back together.
In episode 238, the Multiarmory team talked with Kathy Labriola — a nurse, counselor, and hypnotherapist. She has been in private practice in Berkeley, California, for over 25 years. Kathy is also the author of three relationship-focused books: Love in Abundance, The Jealousy Workbook, and The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Survival, and Prevention. But her experience is more than just professional: she has been a card-carrying bisexual and polyamorist for nearly 50 years.
Early in Kathy’s upcoming book, The Polyamorous Breakup Book, she covers the most common causes of breakups for relationships across the board. Calling them the “usual suspects,” she lists them as the following:
• Sexual problems
• Money incompatibility
• Cohabitation issues
• Conflicts over autonomy and intimacy
• Drug and alcohol addiction
• Untreated mental health conditions
• Physical, verbal, emotional abuse
When it comes to polyamorous relationships, there are a few additional challenges, like these:
• Falling in love with a committed monogamist
• Picking partners who want a different model of open relationship than you do
• Poor management of time and energy
In the podcast, the Multiamory hosts discussed with Kathy these extra polyamory-specific reasons for breakups. In her book, Kathy addresses these more in depth using real-life examples and expert insight as a counselor and nurse. She also includes tips and insights from the polyamory community on a whole host of topics — from how to handle jealousy to the practicalities of managing money and time with multiple partners.
Though some relationships will inevitably end in breakup, are there ways to minimize the chance of this? Kathy says there are. For example, she emphasizes the importance of being diligent about picking the right partners: partners who share your values and want the same type of relationship. Entering into a relationship with someone who is not on the same page as you is likely doomed to failure from day one.
Should a relationship fail, The Polyamory Breakup Book counsels readers on how to maintain friendships and minimize the impact of a breakup on the rest of their polycule and wider community. Unlike traditional breakup guides, this book offers insight specific to the polyamory community and addresses the unique challenges that come with multiple partners.
Interestingly, just two episodes prior to speaking with Kathy Labriola, Multiamory featured Kenya Stevens. It was a stroke of great timing because Kenya shared poly-specific tips on how to avoid breakups from happening in the first place.
Kenya K. Stevens is a relationships expert, coach, best-selling author, wife, and mother of three. Kenya studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a degree in Education / Child Psychology and met her husband, Carl Stevens. Kenya and her husband are the founders of Progressive Love Academy, an impressive organization that has certified over 150 coaches and tantra practitioners.
In the discussion with Kenya, she emphasized that the internal programming from Western culture may be holding people back from the relationship(s) they really want to have, which ultimately leads to a lot of unhappiness that manifests in infidelity and divorce.
During the episode, Kenya shared a lot of eye-opening statements, like the following: “We can’t play these games. It is time for us to recognize how it doesn’t work if there’s a 55% divorce rate. I look for a society where we really step into a new paradigm. There should be no reason why human beings are not free in general in every way. Polyamory is just one of those stops on that train towards freedom.”
Freedom relates to freedom of choice — doing what feels right with one’s body instead of inhibiting it for the sake of appearances—but also the freedom to grow, since relationships tend to force growth. Entering into any type of relationship is a choice that requires self-awareness because a person tends to attract his or her “mirror,” so to speak. If they are carrying unhealed trauma, any kind of relationship will bring that trauma up for healing. And in a polyamorous relationship, it’s just that much more amplified.
She continued, “Moving out of chaos and into freedom means removing our addiction to drama. Most of my clients, including myself, are addicted to drama. When I got married, if the day went by and we didn’t have a flare-up, I would think that was a weird day. Our brains are creating a chemical to match every emotion, so you can be addicted to the chemical that matches sadness or extreme anger. That takes time to undo, and those are the types of things I do with my clients.”
In any relationship, it’s vital to express needs and wants. A supportive community is also essential. Everyone needs to vent, to get emotions out of their body, and to express their needs and wants in a way that isn’t attacked.
Because of this, Kenya recommends only getting into a polyamorous relationship when you have a supportive community. In some families, coming out as poly can lead to open dialogue where individual stories become a bonding agent. But more often than not, families and peers don’t accept this choice and offer more judgment than support. For most people in polyamorous relationships, their normal community dissolves and they no longer feel accepted. Therefore, it’s vital that they create a new community that will support them in their relationship choices.
The advice from both Kathy and Kenya may help individuals everywhere turn a struggling relationship around. And if it’s too far gone, Kathy’s sage advice in The Polyamorous Breakup Book can smooth the road to recovery.
Both episodes are available on the Multiamory site.