What does it really mean to explore in a relationship? Do you stop exploring when you get married? Do relationship therapists ever take their own advice? Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
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Keely: we have this big topic of exploration and relationships and exploration with self, and then that includes, exploration of body exploration, sexually, definitely excited to talk exploration around kink and BDSM and exploration in all types of things .
Well, hello, everyone. Welcome back from a long break to queer relationships, queer joy. I'm one of your host Keely, C Helmick.
Melisa: And I'm your other host. Melisa
Keely: and I feel like I say this every time I am actually like super excited. I feel like this break was really rejuvenating and. Always trying to let people know that it's really important to take breaks and especially around creativity taking breaks, really think it's all of the creative juices going again.
And, you know, wanting, wanting to do it, being really invested in that creative process again, after a break.
Melisa: I totally agree. Keely I'm feeling so rejuvenated and really ready to come back to this podcast with fresh ideas,
uh, a little bit of a new perspective. Yeah. Encouraging everyone to take a break if you haven't already.
Keely: Yes. If you did not take a break during the summer and you went full force because being in Oregon, a lot of people kind of save up all these activities for the brief summertime and then can feel a little tired and burned out by, you know, fall and then fall busyness starts. So yeah, take your breaks. So on that note, we have a lot to catch up on.
Melisa: We do, we have updates, maybe some discussion about what to expect this season.
Keely: Yeah. And we were gonna talk about, you and I talked about this idea of exploration. So, and I think, you know, you and I, in our recapping where we've been, what we've been doing we'll get to talk about some exploration in our own ways, but first, if this is people just, if anyone's just tuning in for this season, brief introductions, I'm Keely C Helmick. I am, pronouns, they, them, I am the owner of Connective therapy, Collective licensed professional counselor, certified sex therapist. I am queer non-binary fem doing kind of solo poly, but now I don't, I'm actually dating. Yeah, we'll go more into that. Yeah, so that's, that's my intro for now.
Melisa: And I'm Melisa DeSegiurant, I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and a professional clinical counselor with Connective Therapy Collective. I am bisexual, polyamorous, gender fluid, I use she and they pronouns and yeah, solo poly for now.
Keely: So, yeah. So who wants to go first? Who should start the update?
Melisa: I think you need to go Keely. I need a minute to like, we're gonna do that pause and breathe thing that we taught last season.
Keely: Oh yeah.
Melisa: I'm gonna regulate myself and then I will provide an update.
Keely: Okay, cool. So I will be really honest. I think it's really important as therapists to show up authentically without taking over the space. And so for me, it's been a very interesting mix of really fun, exciting things over the summer. And also speaking of breaks, my body has told me to take a break. And so I'm actually dealing with a bulging disk in my back. And so I'm really doing a lot of rehab, which has really reinforced this idea of slowing down. And it's helped me slow down in my relationships. All of my relationships, my friendships, my relationship with myself, my kids, everything. And so that's one piece of my update and the other pieces relationship wise, like I'll probably jumping around and you maybe do that to Melisa, like there's
Melisa: Please do.
Keely: So I got like, so first off the person that I was seeing semi-regularly and I, we had at the end of last season, we had officially like broken. We had transitioned our relationship. So we had decided they're off in the Midwest for the next six months. And we decided that we weren't gonna do the like dating thing, but that we're still in contact. So that person is still very much in my life, but they, we are, we aren't like dating and you know, we're not using that term, but still very much in communication pretty regularly. And then ex who I've had a long term back and forth, all these different things. They,
Melisa: So the situationship,
Keely: Yeah. Situationship, so we're like actually dating now. We said, I was like, okay, let's just be real. we're dating. And then they often describe themselves as monogamous, but they wanna be non-mono, I'm like, we've been non monogamous since January.
Melisa: You're just wanting to name it like it is.
Keely: Yeah. I was like, let's name it. And so then I was like, okay, we've done this situation shit for nine months, I'm gonna like practice what I talk about all the time. And I put together a draft of an agreement and, and we had a lot of the agreement pieces, like we already had gone through just having discussions over the past nine months. But what I did is set up a schedule and then some boundaries, because they're a person who is very much, they don't wanna hear anything about any other dynamics I'm working. Like anyone I'm dating, anything, they don't wanna know anything else about what's going on with me sexually or relationship wise. So it's an interesting, and I agreed, you know, I am, with informed consent stepping into this dynamic. So I'm in relationship with them. We are officially calling it dating non monogamously and they, it was interesting cuz they're just kind of like, oh yeah, I agreed to everything you wrote. And I was like, okay. And, well, this is what you do for a living. And this, so sounds good to me. And I was like, but I wanted more discussion. Can we have more? I just want to talk about it. They're like, great. And I was like, okay. I'm like, well, this is also like a work in progress. So that's where I'm at currently. Uh, D C popped up again. .
Melisa: This seems to happen.
Keely: These people are still like floating, like in the atmosphere. So DC's in London. They unofficially invited me to take a trip to London to visit them. But my back is definitely gonna prevent that. So, but they're having a grand old time and it was funny because the reason why we reconnected it was a total like drunk call. Like,
Melisa: Yeah, it was. Yeah.
Keely: And so, yeah, just a lot of the people that I had made connections with are still kind of around. And so we're just shifting relationships and get to have, I get to have a lot of really good discussions around my boundaries and finding my new boundaries and exploring.
Melisa: And exploring.
Keely: Yeah, that's my brief update. And then we'll keep talking, you know, you and I will interact and totally talk about other things, but that's my,
Melisa: As you, as you're talking about dating your ex, I'm wondering, are you still going to refer to this person as your ex.
Keely: I said, no, they, they think it's funny cuz they're like, oh, I'm hanging out with my ex. And I'm like, no, let's just, you're you're the person I'm dating. You're one of the people I'm dating.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: Like I, and I, okay. I really like the term, especially in non monogamy. I like calling people my lovers, cause like, if so, doesn't really fit unless I'm doing like partner doesn't necessarily fit. I mean, this person is a potential partner, but we're not calling it that right now. So I like to be like, oh my lover.
Melisa: That's hot. That's great.
Keely: Yeah, love that term. So that's with them, especially that's the term I use. And I wasn't sure if I was gonna admit this, but I did a thing and I got a tattoo. So for those that are watching YouTube, it still has a sticky, but you can see it's a Leo sign, maybe
Melisa: I'm pretending like it's for me.
Keely: I love it, I love it. Maybe one day I'll reveal why I got Leo, but for now just keep the listeners curious.
Melisa: Yeah. That was a great update. Huh, here we go. Uh, I'm, I'm laughing because anyone who listened to last season or gosh, even season one, like I feel like I've been the queen of relationship with self I've really dictated that focus on our podcast because my own life. And specifically in our last episode, I made this whole big thing about how I was getting off of the apps and closing my profiles and shutting it down. And, you know, I think I even made a comment that, what I was looking for was so specific that, yeah, I'm, I'm not that available and I have to laugh because, wouldn't you know, that when you shut it down and you stop focusing on finding relationships, they come around.
Keely: You're just probably at the point that, that dating coaches always say.
Melisa: Literally. Yeah. Yeah. I, I met someone in the wild. I was at a beer festival, which, common interest, we both like beer. That's great.
Melisa: More common interest, I have a tattoo, that's like my theater tattoo with drama masks and music notes and all this and this person noticed and has a background in theater as well and approached me, hit it off immediately until,
Keely: Oh, that's adorable.
Melisa: I know. It gets, it gets more adorable. uh, we, I really tried to sort of play it cool for a while. And, so this person doesn't live here. They kind of live everywhere, but here .
Keely: Oh, wow.
Melisa: And they were only in town for a matter of weeks. And so there's a part of me that was like, let me just spend every day getting to know this person. And I didn't cuz I have a life and a job and other things to do. And I had other things planned this summer. I probably got to see him, I wanna say total of like five or six times and it was, like, trying to play cool. Being a demisexual person. Like that, just they don't, that doesn't work .
Melisa: So we, I mean, we had a magical, absolutely magical time. Might have sang some musicals.
Melisa: That's like,
Keely: You sang musicals together?
Melisa: We sang rent all the way to the coast.
Keely: Oh my God.
Melisa: Which is like my queer joy just in life It was amazing and you know, he left and, yeah my heart definitely took a beating. I fell super hard really quickly for this person.
Keely: Yeah. How queer is that?
Melisa: Yeah, so there's
Keely: Falling hard fast!
Melisa: Yep. Yeah, that was me shutting it down. Let's just like fall into it real quick. So I did make it very clear that I have every intention of continuing to date him. I didn't really ask for consent with that. I just named my intention. It was like,
Keely: You're like, this is how I feel.
Melisa: Yeah. This is how I feel. This is my intention. So there you tell me what you think which fortunately was reciprocated. So I'm dating someone long distance, which, is not new for me. I've actually had a lot of experience with different partners in long distance. The new part is usually there's somebody I've already dated for at least like eight months, you know, before long distance happened. So getting to know someone and honestly exploring like our sexual chemistry via long distance is new and fun and exciting for me.
Melisa: Yeah. And at some point I will figure out a, a way to be in person, but it will be. It will be several months. We're looking at maybe sometime in 2023. So I guess I'm still doing relationship with self in a lot of ways. I'm still so a poly, but there's a couple things that stand out for me. One just, this was the kind of connection where. Sort of set the precedent for how I wanna feel in relationships. And I'm really not big on comparing partners, but I do think we need to know how do I wanna feel and how does it feel when something is organic and chemistry is just there?
Melisa: I could do a lot of waiting around being like, I don't know. Maybe I'll like this person, maybe not if I'm doing that, it's not a match.
Keely: Yeah, totally. Yep.
Cardinal: Hey. Hey, it's Cardinal. You're behind the scenes, buddy. I am so glad to be back and I just wanna let you know that QR QJ has its own Instagram page now. Find choice quotes and the best moments in audiogram form every week at queer underscore relationships underscore queer underscore joy. It's basically just queer relationships, queer joy with underscores instead of spaces, because that's how Instagram is.
Hope to see you over there. All right. Back to the show.
Melisa: So that was really great. You know, we talked about this before Keely, but what was really cool and rewarding for me in my like therapist mode was how many of the skills we talk about on this podcast that I, I, I used, I did it, I did the things
Keely: Yes, so which ones did you use? What did you do?
Melisa: So, first off I named, really early on and this wasn't even necessarily intentional, but I named within, like, I wanna say 10, 15 minutes of meeting this person that I was poly. And it, it actually happened because he was meeting someone else there and then met me at the event randomly. And then,
Melisa: The other person like stopped by our table and said something. It just, I don't wanna go into detail, but I got some weird vibes from that other person.
Melisa: And then he looks back at me kind of with this, like, what do I do? Look on his face. I'm like, I'm poly, if that helps. Like, just so you know and that enabled us to be really, I think authentic right away.
Keely: Oh, cool.
Melisa: So that's been, I think the, I don't know, my motto in, in this relationship especially is just being as transparent as possible and I've gotten feedback that that's a turn on. So there you go. Communication for the win.
Keely: Yeah. Communication.
Melisa: Yeah. Speaking of communication, I did the stars talk.
Keely: Thank you, Evelyn.
Melisa: Yeah. Evelyn, thank you. You're right. I forgot one of the letters, but it was okay. Just because I remembered the acronym. Good enough to have a few.
Keely: Can we ask which letter you forgot?
Melisa: But sad to admit it was the last S, I was like, I don't remember. There's already one S which it's kind of sad. The last S is safety, maybe not the one I would want to forget, but we had already talked about ST- STIs, STDs, that kind of stuff.
Melisa: Yeah, there wasn't a lot, I guess, else that had crossed my mind. But I also wanna name that like without getting too detailed, it was in the heat of the moment. This was not a premeditated let's talk just in case this happens. This was like, oh shit, this is gonna happen and I need to talk to you so it can be done. In the heat of a moment and again can be a turn on .
Keely: Well, yeah, that's I think that's one of the biggest myths is that people often, if they haven't done that before will say, oh, well, if I, if we start talking too much, then it quote and quote ruins the moment.
Keely: No, it doesn't. It actually adds to it. Yeah. Big advocate of talking
Melisa: Completely. Yeah, it was, it was awesome. And good for me because even though like I'm proud and like toot my heart that I said these things, this kind of communication was unheard of for me, like three years ago, I really, really struggled with communication, especially about sex. So for me, it's like a real personal win. This is what I'm bringing to the table in this relationship. And then the other communication piece, like specifically poly related that felt so valuable for me was I ended up telling my local partner because again, transparency about who I'm dating, who I'm having sex with, that's really important to me. And so this was the first time we'd had that conversation because I haven't been dating other people seriously since we've been back together. And realized I definitely have some trauma around disclosing things to partners and I, I don't wanna get too much into that, but was definitely having a full body like response as I was sharing this information, which my partner was so amazing about and really held space for and was incredibly supportive. I didn't expect anything less, but it just meant a lot to me to have like his support in this. And then it actually enabled us to have a longer conversation about our own boundaries and communication. And, you know, we'd never again had that conversation, but my local partner communicated to me. Like, they'd be very interested in meeting my other partners and like, they're very open to like more of a kitchen table dynamic. And I don't wanna say that everyone should be doing that. I don't think that's true, but that works really well for me. And when I'm in partnership with other people and that matches I'm. I'm so happy. I'm so happy. And all three people that I'm connected with right now are oriented the same way. And I feel really, really, really lucky and (Yey!) Feels really healthy. So yeah. So one hell of an update.
Keely: Yeah. That's
Melisa: That's me not dating this summer.
Keely: Yes. Melissa's not dating.
Well, so this topic of exploration, I, you know, we went from talking about like the first season was a lot of actually talking about the, the, the season more and like cuffing and, and, like running into exes, getting into some great interviews of these lovely relationships that are like so happy and joyful.
Melisa: We were focusing on what was working, I think.
Keely: Yeah. Really focus on what's working. And then season two is like self, relationship with self.
Melisa: Sorry, not sorry.
Keely: I mean, I, I did some self stuff, but I was also dating quite a bit. And then, we're moving into this, this exploration period of like, what does it mean to explore? And I wanna clarify when I'm talking about exploration, it can be solo, it can be solo dating, it can be dating monogamously, dating non-monogamously in a relationship. I think the exploration, can even not just non monogamy, monogamy as well. And I think it's really, I've really enjoyed our conversations. And I think it's really helpful to even when we're talking about non monogamy to include monogamy. And what does it mean to explore?
Keely: And it really comes down to, again, knowing when we've done some of this great exploration with ourself. Then we get to have really clear boundaries and have these explorations with other humans, whether relationships with friends, relationships with family, colleagues, partners, random hookups, weekend adventures. whatever, whatever it may be.
Melisa: Lots to explore. I, I love your point Keely about monogamous folks as well. And I think that's one of the things I've seen, not with everyone who's monogamous, but with some people, is that, they maybe don't do as much exploration as one sort of has to do when entering into non-monogamy because there is this script that they can follow, there's a relationship escalator, they know what to do. You know, I've seen couples leave couples therapy. And again, I don't mean this to come off as a judgment, but like as soon as they get married. And my takeaway is like, oh, you feel secure now, you're done exploring, it's over!
Keely: Yes. Yes.
Melisa: So the invitation to explore, yeah! Exactly. I'm an advocate for continuing to explore for your entire life, cuz that's, as long as we are going to continue to grow .
Keely: Yeah. And so I think some of the themes like around, when I think about exploration is, oh, I was just talking to my chiropractor, actually, lots of body work with a back injury. And she, her and her partner they've been married for 19 years and they own the business together. They like met in chiropractic school. And so she was saying how he's like on a trip, you know, like Alaska, some kind of Alaska trip. And she's like, yeah. And I was like, by myself, I was reading books for fun. And their kids are in their teens. So she's like, yeah, and I bought Thai food and didn't have to bother. And I, I was thinking even that form of exploration, like thinking about him exploring Alaska and her at home exploring books and her interests really it's like her exploring her hobbies and interests. Yeah. And I was like, that's so great that you're doing that, you know, because then you get to actually miss each other. And so the that's such a good example of how people can continue to explore, even in a monogamous long term marriage or relationship
Melisa: A hundred percent. The other thing I really like about this theme of exploration is that it, it invites us into action.
Melisa: A lot of us have been doing self-reflection a lot of regrouping during this pandemic, isolation, even. And, wanting to just kind of get out of our little bubble.
Melisa: Whether that physically or just emotionally, intellectually.
Melisa: And really start, you know, exploring in a, in a bigger way, in a more active way. Yeah. And we'll get into more details like then within, we have this big topic of exploration and relationships and exploration with self and then that includes, exploration of body exploration, sexually, definitely excited to talk exploration around kink and BDSM and exploration in all types of things in relationship dynamics dating. One of our clinicians will be doing a dating workshop as well as a dating group and how to navigate dating now because, I don't know, I'm hearing from my roommate and I'm hearing from a lot of people, it's just the theme that dating is different now, post COVID.
Keely: And that communication piece seems to really been falling and, you know, and having, maybe having a day, a fun day where we talk about some of the li- the lingo or some of these things going on on dating apps, we still haven't done a review of dating apps, so we can definitely have a day of exploration, like just a day of exploring the dating apps. Like,
Keely: I don't know all the dating apps,
Melisa: Especially as queer people, some are way more queer friendly than others. Similar with polyamory and kink. So. Yeah, that's a great exploration that I will be witnessing. I am. I'm convinced that the dating apps are not for me right now.
Keely: In my, in real, well, and I will say the person that I'm dating you know, we've partnered off and on for five years and we met in person.
Keely: So, I mean, it does happen, but also, these people that I've transitioned relationships with where we, we thought we might be dating. And then now we're more friends and sometimes friends with benefits.
Keely: I met them most of them on a dating app. So I will say I I'm a proponent, what I usually say. And for those that have been my client and maybe listening, they've heard this before. I believe in the idea of being on the dating apps, if you're gonna be on the dating apps, be on the dating apps, but also doing pursuing activities, going out once a week or, you know, is a combo of both.
Keely: Not relying just on dating apps, but the reality is dating apps is a way that a lot of people are able to explore. And again, when we're talking about the queer community specifically, That that sometimes is where it feels most safe, because if you're out in public, depending on where you're at, if you want that information out there, and especially for like, you know, we talk about the term, like later in life lesbians, or just folks that are exploring their gender and or sexuality, later than like 30, 35.
It can feel very intimidating to get into the dating world and they may, or, you know, there's levels of being out where an app really allows more disclosure where it may not feel as safe in person. And then also navigating, you know, you often hear. I don't know if this person's queer or not, or, you know,
Melisa: Yeah, that's a problem.
Keely: So yeah, I think that there's room for both.
Melisa: Yeah, totally.
Keely: Yeah. And totally valid, there's many folks that are just like, nope, I am not doing the dating app. So we wanna hold space for all folks that are
Melisa: Trust your gut. You know, maybe explore each modality of meeting people and then decide what works for you and then be willing to change your mind because yeah, I mean, most of my long term relationships I've met from a dating app. So I'm not saying that I have positive experiences but trust your gut.
Keely: Melisa, I feel like people listening could almost make a drinking game out of how many times we're gonna say the word "explore". we're gonna have to come up with other words than just explore.
Melisa: This is our season three unofficial activity for
Keely: Diversify as we're coming into the fall. Well, anything else that we wanna update folks before we move into our queer joy.
Melisa: Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I know we're excited to do some more workshops and things coming up. If you're not already connected with our website or our Instagram account, those are great places to see what's going on. Not just between what you and I are doing Keely, but the rest of the Collective as well. So make sure to follow us.
Keely: Yeah. And we have a new website, so that's exciting. And we're gonna be having actually, oh, and we're gonna be having a discord. And we're gonna have our own Instagram account for queer relationships, queer joy. So those are things to look into, look forward to.
So now that we're at our place in the episode of queer joy, I feel Melisa, I'm gonna let you go first.
Melisa: I'm like wiggling.
Keely: And joyful. So joyful.
Melisa: To be honest, I've had such a joyful summer. I. I did not know until this moment what I was going to say, cuz there's too many things I could pick from. But like now that I'm saying it, like it's pretty obvious. Uh Huh. I went and saw Alicia keys
Melisa: And like I'm, I'm in love with her. like, it's like it's deep. I she's amazing. And. Amazing. I just, yeah, I also, I play piano. That was one of my first instruments. I was like, so that's like a big part of it. And then like, you know, she rocks some stilettos and pan. I just can't. She's amazing.
Keely: Yeah. Yeah.
Melisa: So hot so, and the, so I knew it was gonna be awesome. It's gosh, top two concerts I've ever been to But the thing that made me just so grateful was, you know, I didn't have 400, $500 to spend on a floor ticket where I can really see. I literally brought my binoculars I may have purchased binoculars for this specific event.
Keely: Hey, no shame in that.
Melisa: I know they have the TVs, but like I needed to be closer but like halfway through the show, she leaves the main stage. There's like a guitar solo happening, her backup singer who's I wish I knew her name. She was she's incredible. Had like a solo moment. And then the lights go to the middle of like the stadium and she pops up in the middle of the crowd where like the sound booth is there's three extra pianos there, like keyboards.
Melisa: And she is, oh my God, she's so close to me. I, I ended up with like the best seat in the house. I'm just staring like, (ohh), at the view at Alicia keys playing two pianos at the same time. Oh, my God. It was incredible. So I promised myself I wouldn't scream cuz I was in, you know, whatever. I went to too many football games. I learned how to lose your voice really quickly. As soon as she popped up in front of me, I could not contain myself. I was screaming. Like I was like a teenager. It was ridiculous. I lost my voice for a full week
Melisa: I had to come to session and tell clients, like, I'm not sick. I just, I saw Alicia keys and I screamed a lot. They were all supportive, but that was one of the highlights of my summer of my year. And definitely my queer joy.
Keely: Awesome. I don't even know where to start with my queer joy, cuz I feel like with the break I had so many queer joys each week, but I think I'll start with, you know, that I got to go with the person I'm dating for a birthday joint birthday celebration. We went down to Bend and stayed at a sanctuary. With all these animals. And so I got to be in a tiny home and wake up to this amazing sunrise, like just, you know, on the, in this bed of this tiny home, hanging out with my partner and, I took and if anyone saw my stories, I didn't post them, but I had stories on my Instagram, these like pigs cuddling. Like, how cute is that? And I got to have these conversations, the person that owns it the there's a married couple and they have two kids and like hanging out there, like all the vol, most of the volunteers are super queer. There's these queer teens and they're all hanging out and it was, and she was prepping the kids. The mom was prepping the kids for to start school. And the younger child is, is coming into their gender and their sexuality. And it was just like, so adorable to like, get, to have this beautiful place to stay with my partner and like, look at the stars, cuz if you've ever been in Bend, the difference between Portland and Bend when it comes to the nighttime and stars is like, oh, that's amazing. So it's just like this lovely. And that was like my last trip, even though I was in pain, like that's part of it too, is that I've been learning to still have these experiences even being in pain and that's okay. You just kind of figure it out. So, yeah, that was amazing trip. And that's my first queer joy and I'll share multiple other queer joys.
Melisa: That was adorable.
Keely: Oh, that was cute.
Keely: All right. Well that wraps up our first episode for season three. Thank you so much, everyone for listening, check out our website, connectivetherapycollective.com, Instagram, Facebook, all the things, and we hope that you have a queer and joyful week.
Cardinal: Thanks for listening to queer relationships, queer joy, a podcast by the Connective therapy, Collective hosted by Keely C Helmick and Melisa DeSegiurant I'm your producer Cardinal marking audio is edited by lay super Pope Burno intro music is by bad snacks. If this episode made you smile or think, tell us about it, if you hated it, tell us about that.
Review us on iTunes or Spotify. Or send us an email at media Connective therapy, Collective dot com for more queer joy. Visit our website at www dot Connective therapy. Collective dot com. Love ya. Bye.