Jun 192015
 

Shrink Rap!” July 2015

Dennis C. Hartzog, M.Ed., LPC

Hi! Welcome back to “Shrink Rap!” It’s been a very long time since I’ve done this column for the Newsleather. I’m taking this opportunity to use this column to address an important issue within our community. Each month more and more individuals are experimenting with new and alternative behaviors and life styles. That includes Polyamorous relationships. This has been a healthy relationship choice that has enriched their life and those of their partners. For others however, it has been a disaster that has resulted in physical, emotional, and psychological pain. That trauma in not an inherent feature of poly relationships. It is a result of how many folks are going about being poly.

A poly client recently sent me a copy of the transcript below that is a blunt but honest description of the differences between healthy polyamory and un-healthy (in her words: “Fucked Up”) poly relationships. I wanted to use this column to share it with you.

On the Difference Between Polyamory and Fucked Up,”

Rachel Greene, (Transcript)

When I tell people I’m in a polyamorous relationship, a lot of times they think I’m talking about this other type of open relationship called “fucked up.”

They think that agreeing not to be exclusive means that my partners and I make a point to sleep with lots and lots of people and have no accountability for each other’s feelings because “well, we agreed to it.” That is fucked up.

Choosing to open your relationship because that relationship isn’t working but you’re too co-dependently tangled up in each other’s shit to admit that,

and then brining a third or fourth or fifth or by extension sixth person into your big sloppy joe mess, which then turns into more of an all-you-can-eat buffet of weirdness and dysfunction, is fucked up.

Coercing your partner into opening your relationship because you are incapable of fully appreciating what you have and only find satisfaction in seeking more, or because you would rather paint an imaginary sunrise than quietly watch as the sun rises, is fucked up.

Widening your web will pull on the threads of trust and understanding you have woven, so polyamory is opening your relationship because these threads between you are strong.

Polyamory is being friends with your lover’s lover, or not being friends with them, or being their lover too, but knowing that you cannot truly gain at their expense.

On the other hand, playing along while muttering incantations to make your lover’s other partners disappear, finding every chance to display yourself like a blue ribbon pig at a fair, or taking care of your partner in ways they aught to take care of them self just to make sure that they need you as much as you think you need them, is fucked up.

Getting tested for STDs is polyamory.

Lying is fucked up.

Communicating with your partners about your other relationships is polyamory.

Not communicating and being passive aggressive is fucked up.

Making the effort to figure out what actually works for everyone is polyamory.

Being a selfish, manipulative shit head is fucked up.

Polyamory is not the man going off to the whorehouse while the woman is stuck at home with the kids. That’s like some kind of vintage-style fucked up.

Polyamory is him/her asking me about my date because he/she wants to share my excitement. His/her jealousy all mixed up with inspiration and transformed into attentive, honest caresses. His/her jealousy is not fists sinking into curved bodies in a sick plea for validation.

His/her jealousy is not guilt trip or ownership or running away.

I have a confession: I’ve done fucked up. And my partners have done fucked up. But it’s hard when all the songs on the radio tell us polyamory is fucked up. Those songs tell me I deserve someone who can “gimme all their lovin’,” but an exclusive mutual ownership contract is not the only thing that allows hearts to be true.

I deserve someone who I can trust enough to watch their heart be free. I deserve someone who can maintain their sense of self-worth long enough to realize that no one person can, or should try, to meet all of my needs for love and connection.

For me, polyamory is freely discovering what unique emergent property we can create when our elements collide, rather than following a frantic quest for perfection in the form of one shining soul.

We all deserve to be loved for who we are, not what someone has always wanted us to be. And don’t assume that our genuine attempt to find what we deserve is somehow fucked up.

End.

Recently I have been very fortunate to work and refer clients to two mental health professionals; Brent Glass, M.Ed., LPC, and Shawn Chrisman, M.S., LPC. who are highly skilled and very open to working with members of alternative life-style communities, including Kink and Poly, who are in need of counseling. One of their areas of expertise is Poly relationships. They have agreed to do a presentation on healthy Poly relationships at the July 7, 2015 NLA Dallas meeting. It is a great chance to come and meet these skilled and caring professionals and also get some factual and useful information on making your relationships healthy! I look forward to seeing you all again, and introducing Brent and Shawn to you.

Warm regards, Dennis H.

Aug 262013
 

Shrink Rap! (September 2013)

Dennis C. Hartzog, M.Ed., LPC

Hi! Welcome to “Shrink Rap!” My hope is that this monthly column will be a safe place to discuss issues related to having a safe and healthy Kink/Leather/BDSM relationship. I encourage you to submit any questions you may have, or issues that you would like to see discussed to my website: www.Dchartzoglpc.com. You do not have to divulge your name or scene name, and can remain anonymous. If you go to the “Contact Me” page, just fill the first three boxes with “X’s” and put your question or issue in the message box and I will get it.

QUESTION:

I’ve been with the same person for a while now. At times he gets worked up about little things that have nothing to do with our being in the community. I make the decisions in our house and handle the money (we both work). He agreed to that years ago. Two years ago he decided to go back to school and work on his degree. It keeps him busy and makes him happy, but he’s over forty and I think it is just another of his foolish dreams that won’t ever pay off. I agreed to it even though it takes time away from his duties around the house and his service to me. Three weeks ago I found a jet ski that I wanted so I bought it. He was OK with that until he found out that I used money that was being saved for registering for the fall term at the community college. Now he’s ticked off and says that I had no right to use money that we’d agreed would be for his classes. He was disrespectful and overstepped. Now he’s just being silly and says that from now on he’s going to control his money and contribute to joint expenses! I was within my rights as Master to use that money as I wanted. Which of us wins this one?

ANSWER:

Healthy relationships aren’t about who wins. They are about respect, effective communication, acceptance, and feeling safe and valued by your spouse, partner, Master/slave, etc. You and your slave entered into an agreement two years ago about his returning to college. You also agreed on money being allocated to pay for his educational expenses. Those agreements have the same importance and merit as any Master/slave agreements you both may have entered into and deserve to be treated with the same respect and compliance. An agreement is just that….an agreement which is in force as long as all parties are in agreement with its provisions. You are the one who broke that agreement. In doing so, you also violated his trust. Regardless of his role in your relationship, he is now within his rights to make new choices and decisions about how he wants his income handled. You opened the door to renegotiation on this issue, and he has decided to walk through it.

There are six types of Domestic Violence. When you decided to use the money that you both had agreed would be for his college expenses, your behavior was economically/financially abusive.

Economic/Financial Abuse Includes:
1. Withholding economic resources such as money or credit cards, creating financial dependence.
2. Stealing from or defrauding the victim of money or assets.
3. Exploiting the victim’s resources for personal gain.
4. Withholding physical resources such as food, clothes, necessary medications, or shelter from the victim.
5. Preventing the victim from working, choosing an occupation, or
obtaining an education.

The content and tone of your question also indicates that you have resentments about your slave wanting to further his education. Your comments about his returning to college taking time away from his duties around the house and service to you also suggest that you may be feeling abandoned or fearful of his commitment to you. Knowingly spending the money that you both had agreed would be used for his education may have been your way of sabotaging that choice. Rather than view this as a “who wins” situation, it seems like a great time for the both of you to sit down and disuses your individual needs and goals, and see if you can come to a new agreement about the structure of your relationship. It can be seen as a time for change, growth, and recommitment that will enrich rather than diminish the bound between you.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Aug 012013
 

Shrink Rap! (August 2013)
Dennis C. Hartzog, M.Ed., LPC

Hi! Welcome to “Shrink Rap!” My hope is that this monthly column will be a safe place to discuss issues related to having a safe and healthy Kink/Leather/BDSM relationship. I encourage you to submit any questions you may have, or issues that you would like to see discussed to my website: www.Dchartzoglpc.com. You do not have to divulge your name or scene name, and can remain anonymous. If you go to the “Contact Me” page, just fill the first three boxes with “X’s” and put your question or issue in the message box and I will get it.

QUESTION:

I have been in a committed relationship with the same man for several years. We care about each other a great deal, share values, are out to our friends, families, and at work. We share an interest in travel and enjoy our times together going to new places. The only major ripple that we have had is that I am very into Kink/Leather/BDSM and he is totally vanilla. There is compromise needed in every relationship, I know that. Both of us entered into this knowing how the other felt. He has tried several times to try being submissive with me, or the Top, but even when he is being technically good at it, it just falls flat for both of us because his heart isn’t into it. We entered into our relationship with an agreement for monogamy. Getting back to the compromise point, he says he’s given all he can in that area, so now he won’t even try kinky things. I’m feeling that if I compromise, I’d have to give up kink. Totally unfair, and I’m not willing to do that. It is a part of who I am. A few months ago we had a major argument over this, and I just finally said that I wasn’t going to give this up and if he continued to not make an effort to be more kinky for me, it would be the deal breaker in our relationship. He gave in and consented for me to have non-sexual play partners. So I have. The problem is with him. He used to be up for doing things together, was active around the house and with our friends, had a great personality, funny, all the things that made me fall for him. Now he is moody, seems to be overly critical and irritable all the time, has gotten more sloppy in his appearance at home, and spends a lot of his spare time just sitting around the house alone in a rocker. Sometimes he just won’t stop rocking do something. I’m pissed and angry at this passive aggressive way of trying to make me feel guilty and give up kink. That’s emotional abuse! How can I get him to come around?

ANSWER:

You’re so right. Healthy stable relationships require compromise and flexibility, from all individuals involved. You mentioned that your partner had made attempts to compromise by trying various kinky things with you, but that his heart wasn’t into it, and therefore it didn’t work for either of you. What you didn’t mention was what things you tried to compromise on. You couched compromise on your having to give up kink. You are both within your rights to have decided on what you each will and will not do. But having taken that position, what do you then do? What happened next was: “He gave in and consented for me to have play partners.” That’s when we start getting into potential/possible emotional abuse in your relationship. Your partner “gave in” after you told him that it would “be a deal breaker” for your relationship not to agree to that. There is a vast difference between informed consent and giving in. Consent is not forcing or coercing someone to do something that they truly don’t feel they are comfortable doing or is in their best interests. You issued an ultimatum, so he agreed without really wanting to do so. That “agreement” was hollow, didn’t resolve anything, and planted the seeds for the current problems between you.

I don’t know what’s going on in your partners mind. His behavior could be passive aggressive, but based on the information that you provided, I doubt it. You have described an individual who is exhibiting symptoms of depression…i.e.: moody, overly critical, irritable, decline in personal self care, increase in withdrawal, and possible loss of interest in usual daily interests. What you call emotional abuse on his part to make you feel guilty, I’m betting (with more information a proper assessment needed) is a clinical depression.

The goal here is not how to “get him to come around.” The healthy goal here is to get your partner to his family doctor or mental health professional for a proper assessment of his depression and appropriate treatment recommendations. Depression is like ivy….ignored or left untreated it will continue to spread and strangle the life out of its host. Nothing productive concerning you being kinky and your partner being non-kinky is going to happen as long as he continues to be as depressed as you describe him. Move his mental health to the front burner right now, and put the kink vs. non-kink issue on hold and suspending your kinky play activities until his depression is significantly less pronounced.

The number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Jul 022013
 

Shrink Rap! (July 2013)

Dennis C. Hartzog, M.Ed., LPC

Hi! Welcome to “Shrink Rap!” My hope is that this monthly column will be a safe place to discuss issues related to having a safe and healthy Kink/Leather/BDSM relationship. I encourage you to submit any questions you may have, or issues that you would like to see discussed to my website: www.Dchartzoglpc.com. You do not have to divulge your name or scene name, and can remain anonymous. If you go to the “Contact Me” page, just fill the first three boxes with “X’s” and put your question or issue in the message box and I will get it.

QUESTION:

I am married to the head of a large Leather poly family. The agreement that my spouse and I have is that I get vetting privileges with all his other poly partners. He and I have barrier free intercourse, but have an agreement that condoms are to always be used with other partners (his and mine). We have both recently tested positive for Chlamydia. I am disappointed and angry that he broke our agreement and now I have to suffer the consequences. He was furious with the family member who lied about her status and knowingly infected him. Over the weekend he beat her to the point that we had to take her to the emergency room. She says that it was abuse and is threatening criminal action. He states that it was within his right as her Master to administer punishment for lying to him. He says that if she files charges against him for abuse, he’ll file charges against her for infecting him. Our poly family seems split over these events, and I am just very confused. I want to support my spouse (also my Master), but am angry over the betrayal. I also think that he went too far with the slave, and he is furious at me for saying that and “taking her side.” Left spinning own south…….

ANSWER:

There are several issues here to respond to:

  1. A broken agreement between you and your spouse, which is a violation of trust.

  2. Having been infected with two STD’s that will require medical treatment.

  3. The slave lying to her Master and knowingly infecting him with STD’s.

  4. What constitutes reasonable and appropriate punishment by a Master to a slave?

  5. Possible criminal action for infecting someone with an STD, or for abuse.

Trust is of primary importance to all relationships in our community. The lying and violation of trust extends beyond just you and your spouse. It has impacted on all family members and needs to be dealt with before it causes a breach in the family structure that cannot be healed, if that has not already happened.

I would recommend that all family members get tested for STD’s. Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium. Both men and women can be infected. Untreated, it can result in serious permanent damage to a female’s reproductive organs. Many cases go unreported because individuals who are infected may not have symptoms and therefore have not sought treatment. Medical authorities are required to report all known cases of STD’s to their local health department, and you may be contacted by someone to discuss and get the names of all individuals that you, your spouse, and the slave have been sexual with. You should contact your family doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.

A Master does in fact have a right to discipline a disobient slave within the mutually negotiated boundaries agreed upon within the Master-slave contract. Non-consensual punishment that results in needed medical care in an emergency room is abuse and is a crime. The slave is within her rights and is justified in pursuing criminal charges if she chooses to do so. Hopefully, the ER staff referred her to a victim’s rights representative for follow-up medical and emotional treatment.

The issue of the Master suing the slave for knowingly infecting him with an STD is more complex. My legal sources advise me that if someone lies about not having an STD for the intended purpose of infecting others it is illegal and criminal charges can be filed. If however, the infected individual knowingly infects others out of recklessness or carelessness, it is not illegal. Both individuals may need to consult lawyers to decide what is in each of their best interests.

This is a very complex situation involving several individuals. I strongly recommend that the family and its members seek professional help. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has a Kink Aware Professional listing of lawyers and mental health professionals in central Texas. This can be accessed by going to their web-site.

I wish each of you success in whatever decisions and actions you take to recover from this difficult situation.

The number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is:

1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

 

May 232013
 

Dennis C. Hartzog, M.Ed., LPC

Hi! Welcome to “Shrink Rap!” My hope is that this monthly column will be a safe place to discuss issues related to having a safe and healthy Kink/Leather/BDSM relationship. I encourage you to submit any questions you may have, or issues that you would like to see discussed to my website: www.Dchartzoglpc.com. You do not have to divulge your name or scene name, and can remain anonymous. If you go to the “Contact Me” page, just fill the first three boxes with “X’s” and put your question or issue in the message box and I will get it.

QUESTION:

My Mistress is younger than I, and new to the scene. We’ve been playing for about two months. There are a lot of things about the relationship that I like and enjoy. The problem is that she just doesn’t spend enough time with me after a scene providing aftercare. I really get into deep sub-space and I just feel that she’s being emotionally abusive by not taking the time with me afterwards that I need to make sure that I’m back to the “here and now.” I’ve discussed this with some friends, but not with her. She’s so new and not secure about her role and I don’t want to make that worse for her. She doesn’t understand my needs and I’m thinking of ending things with her to find someone more experienced. What do you think?

ANSWER:

I’ll answer your last question first: I don’t think that you’ve given your Mistress a fair chance to understand your needs. If you have never talked to her about your concerns that you are not receiving enough after-care after a session, I’m wondering how she would know that this is a problem for you. I don’t think that she’s being emotionally abusive. If you had talked to her about your after-care needs, and knowing that, she still choose not to spend more time with you, that could be considered emotional abuse. That is not the case however. No one can read our minds. It is our responsibility; Top/bottom, Master/slave, Dom/sub, Mistress/slave…all need to understand their emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual needs and then communicate them openly and clearly to their partner(s). If we fail to do this, we are not being fair to our partners, or to ourselves. You said that she is “not secure about her role.” You can help her by giving her the information that she needs to be more effective in meeting your needs. Ending this relationship to “find someone more experienced” isn’t going to help much if you continue to withhold important information from whoever you choose to play with. This is a fixable situation: Just add a healthy dose of candid, honest, communication. Repeat often!

The number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is:

1-800-799-SAFE (7233).