Mind Body Health & Politics
Mind Body Health & Politics
Elisabeth Sheff on Polyamorous Relationships and Challenges Faced

Elisabeth Sheff on Polyamorous Relationships and Challenges Faced

Exploring the Complexities and Advantages of Polyamory

Dear Listener,

I am thrilled to share with you my recent interview with Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, a leading expert in the field of consensual nonmonogamy (CNM) and polyamorous families with children.

Have you ever considered exploring consensual nonmonogamy but weren't sure where to start? Or perhaps you've already ventured into this realm and are seeking guidance on how to navigate it successfully. Dr. Eli Sheff is here to help.

With over 25 years of research experience in CNM and BDSM/kinky sex, Dr. Eli Sheff is a certified sexuality educator and author of four books and numerous academic articles on these subjects. In our conversation, we delve into the intricacies of polyamorous relationships, the challenges they pose, and the tremendous rewards they can offer.

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff

We explore a wide range of topics, including managing jealousy, fostering healthy communication, and debunking common misconceptions about polyamory.

I invite you to listen to our interview and gain valuable insights from Dr. Sheff's extensive research and expertise.

Thank you for being part of our community, and I look forward to sharing more thought-provoking conversations in the future.

Golden Light,

Dr. Richard Louis Miller

Show Notes

Chapter 1 (0:01 - 4:06): Introducing Dr. Elisabeth Scheff and Her Background

  • Dr. Richard Miller introduces Dr. Elisabeth Scheff as an expert on polyamory

  • Dr. Scheff shares her personal experience with non-monogamy at a young age

  • Discussion on the challenges and complexities of non-monogamous relationships at a young age

Chapter 2 (4:07 - 11:28): Dr. Scheff's Early Experiences with Polyamory

  • Dr. Scheff discusses falling in love with a man who desired polygamy

  • Surprising development of strong feelings despite initial resistance

  • Dr. Miller highlights Dr. Scheff's self-awareness and willingness to explore unconventional relationship dynamics

Chapter 3 (11:29 - 18:23): Dr. Scheff's Academic Research on Polyamory

  • Dr. Scheff explains her research methodology, focusing on interviews and participant observation

  • Longitudinal nature of her research, following individuals over time

  • Discussion on the importance of studying polyamory and its impact on children in polyamorous families

Chapter 4 (18:24 - 27:02): Parenting and Family Dynamics in Polyamorous Families

  • Exploration of parenting dynamics and relationships in polyamorous families

  • Dr. Scheff emphasizes the social safety net and additional support available to children in polyamorous families

  • Benefits of multiple adults dedicated to the well-being of the child and navigating challenging family dynamics

Chapter 5 (27:03 - 43:55): Managing Jealousy, Sexual Health, and Stigma in Polyamorous Relationships

  • Discussion on managing jealousy and communication in polyamorous relationships

  • Addressing stigma and misconceptions surrounding polyamory

  • Importance of open and honest communication about sexual health in polyamorous relationships

Chapter 6 (43:56 - 58:08): Variations in Polyamorous Relationships

  • Exploration of the different types of relationships within polyamory, including polygyny and polyamory

  • Discussion on the capacity for individuals to sustain multiple deep emotional partnerships

  • Dr. Scheff highlights the importance of defining and understanding relationship structures within polyamory

Chapter 7 (58:09 - 1:08:51): Challenges and Benefits of Polyamorous Families Compared to Other Families

  • Comparison of challenges and benefits in polyamorous families versus monogamous families

  • Dr. Scheff shares insights from her research on the positive outcomes for children in polyamorous families

  • Discussion on the commitment of parents in polyamorous families and the importance of maintaining strong relationships for the well-being of children

Links and Resources

Seeking Psychedelic Testimonials: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

We are currently looking for first-hand accounts of adverse effects of psychedelics—from ‘bad trips,’ to unwanted physiological complications, to abusive practices by guides, therapists, and shamans.

The interviews from this series will go into a forthcoming book on the topic—perhaps the first book its kind.

Please contact me if you would like to be interviewed.

Tell Your Story

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NOTE: The podcast is always freely available thanks to our paid subscribers. Please share this post to show your support for transparency. The following transcript distills the key points from this show into a condensed form. It is meant as a reference - listen to the full episode for an accurate rendition of the conversation.


Introducing Dr. Elisabeth Scheff and Her Background

Dr. Richard Miller: Welcome to Mind Body Health and Politics. I'm your host, Dr. Richard Louis Miller. It's my privilege to have with us today, the world's foremost expert on polygamy, polyandry, and what is being called polyamory. We're going to be talking about the names during the program and what they mean. But Dr. Elizabeth Ely Scheff is the world's foremost expert or I imagine modestly, she'd say, one of a very small handful of people who are experts in this area. She's written such books as The Polyamorist Next Door, When Someone You Love is Polyamorous, and Stories from the Polycule. Welcome to Mind Body Health and Politics, Eli.

Elisabeth Sheff: Thanks so much for having me. I'm delighted to be here.

Dr. Richard Miller: So, let us start from the beginning. You have been studying what some people are referring to as polyamory and you as an expert are calling it that. Before the show, I told you that I was looking for other words myself for it, because I don't know if polyamory includes everything. But we're going to find out from you and you're shaking your head. No, it doesn't. So going back historically, how did you get into this particular specialty?

Elisabeth Scheff: When I was 22, I fell in love with a man who did not want monogamy. On our very first date, he said he never wanted to be monogamous, never wanted to get married. At the time, I was heartbroken from this woman I was just head over heels for and she had broken up with me. So I was thinking, this dude was disposable. I didn't anticipate falling in love with him. When he told me he never wanted monogamy, I was like, no I don't care, whatever. You're a temporary boy, you're going to be out of here. I didn't anticipate having feelings for him. I surprised myself by really falling for him like madly, madly in love with this man. When he said he didn't want monogamy or marriage, I was like, well what does that even look like? How do those things fit together - permanent life partnership without monogamy or marriage? Clearly they can, but what he actually wanted was a harem of women focused on him. He didn't want polyamory where both partners have access to multiple partners, regardless of gender. That's the true meaning of polyamory. What he wanted was polygyny - one man with multiple women. He wasn't honest with himself or me about it.

Dr. Richard Miller: Let me interrupt with a question - when this is going on, you're 22 years old, correct? So either still in college or just starting grad school?

Elisabeth Sheff: Yes, that enormity of relationship is a lot for a 22 year old. Especially because it was the first time I had really fallen in love. I had crushes before but not a reciprocal, mutual relationship. This was different.

Dr. Richard Miller: I just wanted you to know that I had that awareness and strength. That's really something.

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Mind Body Health & Politics
Mind Body Health & Politics
Dr. Richard Louis Miller is an American Clinical Psychologist, Founder of Wilbur Hot Springs Health Sanctuary, and broadcaster who hosts the Mind Body Health & Politics talk radio program from Mendocino County, California. Dr. Miller was also Founder and chief clinician of the nationally acclaimed, pioneering, Cokenders Alcohol and Drug Program. Dr. Miller’s new book, Psychedelic Medicine, is based on his interviews with the most acclaimed experts on the topic. Mind Body Health & Politics radio broadcast is known for its wide ranging discussions on political issues and health. The program’s format includes guest interviews with prominent national authorities, scientists, best-selling authors, and listener call-ins. The programs offer a forum and soundboard for listeners to interact with the show and its guests. We invite you to listen to the latest broadcasts below or visit our many archived programs. We’d love to hear from you on political and health issues!