Welcome to another episode of “The Scrumptious Woman” podcast! I’m thrilled to bring you this insightful conversation with Elizabeth Cunningham, a coach specialising in non-monogamy and polyamory. In this episode, we explore the journey of understanding and embracing non-traditional relationship dynamics. Elizabeth shares her personal experiences and sheds light on the concept of relationship anarchy, emphasizing the importance of breaking free from societal norms.
- Understanding Your Why: Elizabeth encourages individuals to explore why they are drawn to non-monogamy. This introspection helps establish a strong foundation for the journey ahead.
- Embracing the Journey: Recognize that your feelings and desires may evolve over time. It’s perfectly normal to navigate different forms of non-monogamy as you grow.
- Patience and Open Communication: For couples considering opening up their relationship, setting reasonable timelines and openly discussing emotions is crucial. This allows both partners to feel heard and understood.
- Breaking Down “Shoulds”: Relationship anarchy is about dismantling societal expectations and allowing connections to develop authentically, free from predefined labels.
- Authentic Connection: Creating space for open conversations, regardless of the relationship structure, leads to deeper, more authentic connections.
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The Scrumtpious Woman EP27
Tue, Oct 10, 2023 12:05AM • 29:41
feel, relationship, non monogamy, love, explore, open, people, point, monogamous, attracted, elizabeth, coaching, journey, cheater, hating, wrong, friends, little bit, polyamory, shoulds
Juliette Karaman, Elizabeth Cunningham
Juliette Karaman 00:00
So I have with me Elizabeth Cunningham.
Juliette Karaman 00:04
She is a coach in one of my communities, isn’t she Are you go by day by day that she Yeah, you’re right. She heard Thank you. We have ace earlier. So I was like, Oh, okay.
Elizabeth Cunningham 00:17
Juliette Karaman 00:19
and that’s one of the things I still have to get used to right. And then I think all of us in this world, it’s where people
Juliette Karaman 00:27
associate with a different pronoun. It is absolutely perfect and be a little bit lenient towards people that it’s not hardwired in our brains yet that sometimes we might get it wrong. But Elizabeth, you have been helping people with its non monogamy, isn’t it?
Elizabeth Cunningham 00:44
Yes, I’ve been helping people with non monogamy. Specifically polyamory, but definitely, you know, it can broaden out to non monogamy.
Elizabeth Cunningham 00:55
For Yeah, since about 2017. Yeah. Yeah, so that’s been really rewarding. Yeah, I was, uh, I started coaching in 2016. And I was getting trained more in like leadership coaching. But my background is in gender and sexuality. And I’m also I am polyamorous, I identify as polyamorous. And so some of the clients that I was working with, knew my background. And so people just started reaching out to me and being like, Hey, I know that, you know, we met because of like, I’m the CEO of this company, and like, you’re helping me with that. But I’m also like, wanting to explore polyamory. And my wife and I are trying to open up our relationship. And I know that you do that, too. And like, it literally just started as like a word of mouth, like referral business from there. And then 2020 I lost all my jobs. But I had a couple of clients. And so I was like, Okay, great. I guess I’ll just take this business full time. And so I did.
Juliette Karaman 01:58
I love it. I wanted to do a little bit for people, they’re like, probably, I’m ready. What the heck is happening here? What are we here is
Juliette Karaman 02:08
the podcast, you’re gonna be hearing all the kinds of things that are taboo that are slightly outside the box,
Juliette Karaman 02:14
for opening Pandora’s box. And I love it. And reading just noticing what comes up. When you hear polyamory when you hear non monogamy. What What have we been taught about how relationships should and I’m doing quite low marks of my fingers, what relationships should look like, because we may not even know that we might want to explore, we might want to see what it might be, like, you know what polyamory would be like? What would it be like to have more than one partner? Do we need to be open? I mean, oh, my God, this is like a can of worms. And this, this is such a big topic, right? And there’s so much that you can teach people there’s so much there’s so many little nuances. How,
Juliette Karaman 03:08
how do you take people through when they come to you and saying, Hey, I’m in the relationship. And we’re both starting to be a little bit interested in polyamory and perhaps opening this up?
Elizabeth Cunningham 03:24
Yeah, the first question that I asked people is, why do you want to be polyamorous or why do you want to be non monogamous or whatever label it is that they’ve, you know, currently have chosen? Yeah.
Elizabeth Cunningham 03:39
Elizabeth Cunningham 03:41
I think that getting people’s why and having people be connected to why they want to do something is really important. Because otherwise, especially since it is so taboo, that
Elizabeth Cunningham 03:56
like, what people are dealing with is, is this okay? Am I wrong? Is this going to work? Am I going to ruin everything? Is everyone in my life going to hate me now? Like people are dealing with a lot of fear in discovering this about themselves? And so with asking people why, like, why do you want to do this? Or why do you feel this way? Which is more accurate than to do something? It’s more Why do you feel this way?
Juliette Karaman 04:31
Me Right. Yeah. And also recognising that there’s no right or wrong answer. We’re just kind of like, opening up they’re taking away some of those layers peeling back the layers like why what is it what is it? What are you hoping to gain out of it? Right and what what’s alive for you here? Yeah, exactly. And allowing and I also say that to people to have like, I’m not looking there’s no right answer. I
Elizabeth Cunningham 05:00
Um, just purely This is curiosity. This is exploring your inner world. Like there’s not a, you know, if you said, well, like some people have, you know, answers like, well, I just feel like I just love so abundantly I just don’t want to be held back from how much I can love anyone and I just have all of these feelings and I just want them to be expressed. And I want people to be happy and loved and connected and, and then sometimes the answers like, I want to explore sexually, like I’m bisexual, and I’ve been in this relationship with this person of this gender, but I’ve never been able to explore these sides of me and parts of me, and I really want to explore that. And like, you know, there’s a million different answers, there’s different answers for different people, right? There’s everyone has their own, why they’re doing it, or being or feeling. And, yeah, it’s really, it’s really beautiful, then when people are able to connect to that to themselves. It’s like they have their own grounding point. And themselves. Right. So they’re not it’s a it’s a step in having that internal validation, rather than seeking external validation.
Juliette Karaman 06:19
I love that. And what can you tell us a little bit about your own journey? Share that? Yeah, absolutely.
Elizabeth Cunningham 06:28
I’ve definitely. So to distinguish, i There are some people who view non monogamy as a choice, like it’s a lifestyle choice. And there are some people who view view it as just like, who you are, like, your sexual orientation. And so though, use words like relationship orientation, and I definitely fall into the relationship orientation.
Elizabeth Cunningham 06:54
Okay, because I’m sure, listeners are gonna be like, what does that mean? Yeah, so if you think about, like, who you’re attracted to, like, we’ve all known who were attracted to since, you know, some of us since we were a little kids, some of us maybe since middle school or high school, but there’s just something innate in us that’s like, these are the the humans that I’m attracted to. These are the humans that I’m not attracted to, right. So in the case of like, someone who’s straight, if you identify as a, you know, cisgendered woman, you are attracted to cisgendered men, right.
Elizabeth Cunningham 07:33
And if you are, you know, queer, I also identify as queer. And I identify, as I say, queer because it’s the easier term, but I think the most
Elizabeth Cunningham 07:46
identifiable term for me would be pansexual, which means that I am attracted to people not because of their gender, necessarily, but because of their personality or a character like their character. Right.
Elizabeth Cunningham 08:04
So So yeah, so you know, who you’re attracted to quite early on in life. And so that would be like your sexual orientation. And so your relationship orientation is then how you want to how you feel, most authentically able or desiring to relate to people and so that could be monogamous and and I’m speaking mostly in a, in a romantic or like romantic and sexual umbrella.
Elizabeth Cunningham 08:38
But that could be monogamous. Like some people’s relationship orientation is monogamous. They’re like, I want my one person, you know, for my whole life, and I know that I know that about myself. That’s what feels good. And like true for me, right? That’s beautiful. And then there’s some people like me, who I’m like, I love so many people. And I’m so I love them. And I want to be in relationship with them. And I want to tell them that I love them. And I want to connect with them. And I want to see and explore what the possibilities of all of these relationships are like, that feels so good and alive for me. And like, and for a long time, I thought that I that there was something wrong with me like high school, high school college. I was like, I’m a terrible person because I grew up I grew up in a in a in the Midwest and the United States and you’re either monogamous or you’re a cheater those are your two options. You know I love it.
Elizabeth Cunningham 09:49
Right? You’re a cheater or you’re monogamous? No, that’s it. That’s it. And if you don’t if you don’t know how to keep a you know, marriage together with one other person
Elizabeth Cunningham 10:00
And then you suck at relationships. And so I was like, Oh, wow, well, I’m a cheater who sucks at relationships apparently, even though I wasn’t cheating, like, I wasn’t cheating on anyone. But like, since I had these feelings and these desires, I was like, This must be what a cheater feels like. Because that was the only language and that was the only point of reference that I had. And so towards the end of college, I basically got fed up with hating myself. I was like, You know what, I can’t really hate myself for the rest of my life. I’m not going to do that. And so I am just going to embrace this part of me. And so that’s what I did. I was just like, Alright, I’m going to start telling everyone that I’m going to be dating multiple people sleeping with multiple people at the same time, and I’m just gonna like go gung ho. And that’s what I did. I I didn’t even have the word polyamory I had no, I had no concept of polyamory or non monogamy. I was just tired of hating myself. And I wanted to have some fun.
Juliette Karaman 11:11
Isn’t it good that but that we need to get to that point where it’s like the pressure cooker has has been simmering so much. And it’s about to explode. Like, I can’t. I can’t anymore. I need to stop hating myself. I can start enjoying my life again. Yeah, how did being from the Midwest? Or where you said that your friends? How did your parents and how did your family How did your friends respond?
Elizabeth Cunningham 11:35
Um, my friends were so I’m specifically thinking of like, two of my friends were very concerned for my health and well being. Because I definitely like dove right into like, slept
Elizabeth Cunningham 11:54
like that at first, because I was just like, I was just like, I do everything. 110% Okay.
Juliette Karaman 12:03
Love it from the one extreme like pendulum, swing it all the way to underplay why I completely get
Elizabeth Cunningham 12:12
your whatsoever. Yeah, totally. Well, so like, I had friends that were kind of concerned about me, but I was having a great time. So I was like, you know, that’s great that you’re concerned about me, thank you, but I’m good.
Elizabeth Cunningham 12:24
I feel like my dad was the person who not necessarily I don’t know if he like, understood fully. But he was definitely the person who
Elizabeth Cunningham 12:37
was, like, the most accepting like, he, my dad is someone who is just like, I don’t need to understand you to accept you.
Elizabeth Cunningham 12:49
And so that’s really, that was really beautiful. And it was really great to have that space, because my mom is definitely someone who is I need to understand you to accept you. And so she had a lot of
Elizabeth Cunningham 13:05
concerns. And she was never like mean about anything, but she was definitely dismissive of like,
Elizabeth Cunningham 13:16
she was just like, oh, well, everybody goes through this phase or, you know,
Elizabeth Cunningham 13:22
like you eventually you’ll find someone that you’ll really you know, settle down with and stuff like that. And
Elizabeth Cunningham 13:29
for, for she is kind of still on that train. But she does understand a lot more like because that was I’m 34 and I came out
Elizabeth Cunningham 13:40
as polyamorous when I was 21. So it’s been 13 years. Yeah. Trying to get us. Yeah, well, I think we really hit a turning point because at one point, I got married. And we were still in a polyamorous relationship, even after being married. And so I think that that was like the turning point for her where she was like, Oh, this is this is serious.
Juliette Karaman 14:07
Right? Like, this is like who you are. It’s such a beautiful point that you bring up I mean, first of all, see your mom
Juliette Karaman 14:15
and her preconception of what marriage should look like or what being with one person how, how a relationship should what it should look like for her right and how she kind of like state in that for the longest time and thinking that you’ll move through it and that it’s nothing. But now that you know, and then when you were made to see that how that actually changed her point of view a little bit or that that there was more acceptance, right. And some people do need a little bit of slow drip, right. We’re like, we’re like yeah, eating a bird like you know, little drips and they start to learn it start to open. Yeah, well, that’s honestly kind of coming back to my original point.
Elizabeth Cunningham 15:00
Have starting with people’s why, like, why are you doing this? Why do you feel this way is because people are going to feel all sorts of different ways about who you are and how you choose to love. And if you’re rock solid within yourself, like it really doesn’t matter how other people feel about it, and I feel very fortunate to have come to that realisation so early on,
Elizabeth Cunningham 15:30
in in my journey,
Elizabeth Cunningham 15:32
because I was just like, yeah, like, it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay, that people don’t understand. It’s okay that people have different feelings about it. It’s okay that maybe people even get upset about it, you know, that doesn’t have to impact me. Like, I can still be totally fine.
Juliette Karaman 15:54
And people can feel however they feel about it. Yeah. The beauty of you really being anchored in so deeply in who you are and who you are in this moment, because I’m not fluid to that might change again, who knows? Alright, we, for me, it’s been a little bit of a journey of everything. Yeah, he’s very monogamous, then massively open then had to do two or three or five lovers at one point. So it’s like, oh, and then
Elizabeth Cunningham 16:22
it’s like, it’s this beautiful kind of journey. And I never know what’s gonna happen next. I’m also just not going to judge it. Because I don’t know what this body and what this mind and what this essence of me what’s next? where it wants me to go? It’s like, oh, well, what’s what do I need to experience? It’s kind of like, I feel like we’re on such a soul journey that we never quite know what our soul wants for us. Right? I so agree with that. I completely agree with that. And yeah, like how I practice, which I would having to throw out another another term for people. I would say that my current non monogamous practice looks more like relationship anarchy now. Oh, I know. I know. Yeah. relationship anarchy. So like, I feel like I started in like, super slept. Which was, which was awesome. I loved it so much. But like, I’m not I’m not there anymore. Like, I’m not, you know, sleeping with a different person, like, every single week.
Elizabeth Cunningham 17:29
And I don’t have a desire to and like, and it doesn’t make, yeah, that time in my life, like, less significant. Like, I’m still, like, so happy that I did that. I’m just like, oh, yeah, good for me. But like, that is, that’s just not me anymore. You know, that’s not what I want. That’s not what I need. But so what relationship anarchy is,
Elizabeth Cunningham 17:51
is the idea of the breaking down of any shoulds or supposed to use in relationships. And, and, and that’s relationships as a broad, broad term. So this is, you know, romantic, sexual friends, family, like across the board, right? And so there’s no there’s no supposed to is there’s just, I’m a human, you’re a human. We have feelings about each other. What are those feelings that we have about each other? How do we want this relationship to go look progress? What feels good, as you’ve been saying, Today, like what feels alive for us? So instead of using a label, like romantic partner, or brother, or sister or friend,
Elizabeth Cunningham 18:46
instead of using a label and being like, oh, since you’re my friend, you’re supposed to be this way with me? Or because you’re a sexual partner, you’re supposed to be this way.
Juliette Karaman 18:57
It’s just like, no, like, we’re humans being human together. And so how do we want to human together? It’s so cool, right? How do we want to keep them together? Wouldn’t it if we get taught that in school? How do we want this human experience of interacting to be right? Yeah, yeah. Without any labels without any shame without any of the like, the boxes that we put each other in and that we put ourselves in as well. It’s like if we can just break free from all the boxes from all the levels from everything and just be like, what’s what what is our soul want to know? How can we relate to human on this, this soul to sell on this human journey? Yeah, and I and that’s, that is that’s kind of what relationship anarchy is to me now. And so that’s new. I love it. Yeah, really? Yeah. I think people are going to remember this forever.
Juliette Karaman 19:55
You know, break and remind people that please, we are
Juliette Karaman 19:59
In the 10, top percent of podcasts I just heard, so please, please, please, please put your reviews leave your reviews in whatever platform you’re using, you’re listening to this and then take a picture of it. Send it to me my Instagram Juliet karaman, and you get a prize there is scrumptious dates and six weeks programme which you will get for free, or one of my journals. And we are back to you, Elizabeth. Oh my god, I love everything that just happened. I was
Elizabeth Cunningham 20:36
like, Oh, my God, well, I want one of your journals.
Juliette Karaman 20:41
Right? We really just want this to go worldwide, right? Two months ago, I was like, Okay, let’s start a podcast.
Juliette Karaman 20:50
met Joe. And she’s like, oh, when do you want it to go? When do you want it to go like, seven, seven. And that wasn’t even a month. So I like record it record it recorded. Got it. We’re like, not even two months later, and we’re on the top 10%. So it’s like, it’s just gone viral.
Juliette Karaman 21:09
I love it. It’s all content that people want to hear. So share it with each other, share it with people, it’s like, oh my God, I’ve been wanting to think about money. Or actually human to human, this human. Let’s let’s just kind of think about this. Like, I want to just relate with people, to people.
Elizabeth Cunningham 21:30
Elizabeth Cunningham 21:32
Yeah. And the other thing that comes up for me inside of that, too, is that it really is a journey. And I want I want people individually to know that, to know that how, if you’re interested and curious and wanting to explore non monogamy in some way to allow that feeling to be okay. But also to allow the journey of it to be okay. Because like I said, you know, how I practice non monogamy when I was 21 is so different night and day, from, you know, who I am and what I how I practice and how my life looks now. Yeah, completely. And this actually brings something up. So I’m sure you get this a lot. You’re you have couples that come to you. And one of the partners wants to open up and the other one is like, you know, I’m just going along with it, because you want it but it’s actually feeling a little bit crunchy my body.
Elizabeth Cunningham 22:37
Yeah, so, I mean, one one thing is like, exploring, like, why does that feel crunchy in your body? Like, what? What is that? Right? Is it? Is it a fear of a fear of something? Is it or maybe it’s just completely inauthentic to you? But like, what is that? And so being able to be open and curious, because I think and I know that you you are a beacon of this concept, I feel, which is that, just because you feel a crunchy emotion, or just because your body has that, like, look, this too, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong or bad with the situation at hand. You know, it’s just your body trying to communicate something to you. And I think that we jump to that conclusion, like, oh, there’s like a contraction in my body or there’s a stuckness or there’s an achiness in my body. And so therefore whatever is being presented to me is bad and wrong. And that’s just not the case. It just means that there’s a part of you that feels confronted in some way. And so it’s worth investigating and exploring and getting curious about and, and for the partner who is more, who is more like, I’m ready, like I’m ready to do this, I’m ready to start I’m ready to explore I’m you know,
Elizabeth Cunningham 24:04
that they’re they’re going to need to have a little bit of patience with their partner who’s not quite ready yet. And I like to give people have people set reasonable timelines for each other. So it’s just like, Okay, let’s set a timeline for three months. And in those three months, how far do we want to progress? What are we what are we saying? And maybe all that looks like is in three months, whatever this crunchiness is, I’m going to have figured that out.
Elizabeth Cunningham 24:46
Right, and then I will be more open to conversations. So give me time to, to process to talk to a therapist to talk to a coach to read books to whatever whatever it is that is going to be helped
Elizabeth Cunningham 25:00
Call to journal.
Elizabeth Cunningham 25:02
Give me three months to do that. And then let’s revisit this conversation in three months. And then let’s set another marker for the next three months. Right? Such a good way of doing it, right? Because we just see that the one partner often is like, I want it now. I want to insert it right. Yeah, like, you know. And so I’m the same way I’m the same way. I’m not saying that this strategy is easy.
Juliette Karaman 25:27
For Alex, right, I’m like, Oh, come on. Let’s do this. And like yeah, give me time like no yesterday now.
Juliette Karaman 25:36
Like poor guy.
Juliette Karaman 25:40
Money gentle said and human design. So I like all over this shop. Just Just like my things quickly. Yeah, totally. Why can I say?
Juliette Karaman 25:51
But also then to have that patience and like, hey, you know what emotions are coming up? What are you starting to feel in your butt? What’s starting to feel in your body? What? What thoughts? Are you having? What what’s coming up? What do you make it mean about our relationship, because that’s obviously a big thing, right? Jealousy comes up with like, oh, but I’m gonna have to start sharing you with people
Elizabeth Cunningham 26:13
as I can, that’s where the beauty can actually come in, where it’s you can have this deep for wonderful conversations and really get deeply connected. And then all of a sudden, what I’ve noticed with people, sometimes, it’s not even actually important to have sex of other people. But to have opened up that discussion is already enough. I’ve seen that in multiple of my couples where they like, we’ve opened this up, but we actually only want to play together with someone when we go to a party or something like that. Perfect. Right? Yeah, it really, it really is amazing what happens when you just let these things breathe, like give these things the space, give the and to allow that space in your relationship. And I know that that is hard for a lot of people because it can feel really threatening and scary. And yeah, what does this mean? But when you do have the space in your relationship, even if it stays monogamous, but when you do have the space in your relationship, that you can really breach any subject and still be with one another. It’s beautiful. And and it also leads to conversations of this is what I see most often. This is the most transformative thing I see. Regardless of what it ends up looking like is that you do break down the shoulds. And the supposed tos and the things that we were taught that we make assumptions about that like don’t necessarily even feel true for us as individuals. And you break all of those things down and regardless of what it looks like on the other side, you end up with a more authentic connection and relationship that really works for both people.
Juliette Karaman 28:13
Tell us and tell our listeners where can they find you?
Elizabeth Cunningham 28:18
I am my website is Elizabeth and kind of kim.com That’s Elizabeth with a Z and without an E and then cutting him and you can also my handle on pretty much all social media. So Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok
Elizabeth Cunningham 28:42
is at E L z. Cunningham at ELS Cunningham. So yeah, you can follow me there. And yeah, I offer one on one and group coaching. I also have a I also have a workbook as well. So if you’re like, ooh, coaching sounds like a lot and like intimidating, you can also just buy my workbook and work through all of the exercises that I give people on your own.
Elizabeth Cunningham 29:14
Elizabeth Cunningham 29:16
Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much for being here. It’s been a pleasure. Yeah. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for having me. Juliet. I just I love and adore you. And I thank you so much for the opportunity. This has been it’s always wonderful connecting with you.
Juliette Karaman 29:34
Thank you. Yeah.