Blog Posts Personalities

An Intimate Conversation with Kitty Chambliss

Facebook
Facebook
Instagram
RSS
Google+
http://pdxscene.com/wp/an-intimate-conversation-with-kitty-chambliss/

An Intimate Conversation with Kitty Chambliss

Relationship Coach, blog and podcast host, and founder of Loving Without Boundaries

Michael Love by Michael Love

I first met Kitty Chambliss online when Ellie and I had our Lifestyle Talk Podcast show. We had discussed the idea of her coming on the show and talking to us, and she was wanting to do a sexy photoshoot while she was in town. Her Portland schedule tends to get very busy so we missed our connection… it would be years later before we would connect again.
I’m an original member of her Loving Without Boundaries community, so when I was compiling my list… she has always been someone I’ve had in mind to talk to. She’s not necessarily Portland local, but her message is solidly one that I personally believe in, and I support her efforts in creating awareness and acceptance for polyamory and ethical non-monogamy.

Knowing she was coming to Portland, we set up her interview, and excitedly and patiently awaited the opportunity to finally meet and talk to one another… the following is a transcript of that conversation, where we get to know a little about her story, her life, and her message…

Image credit – Erika Kapin Photography – NSEC

Let’s talk about you: introduce yourself, who are you, and what you do?
I am Kitty Chambliss and I am a sex-positive and polyamorous relationship coach, podcast talk show host and a blogger. I’m also an author. My book is called “Jealousy Survival Guide: How to feel safe, happy, and secure in an open relationship”.
I’m also a speaker. I’m speaking here in Portland for a World Domination Summit meetup. I love speaking at various polyamory conferences across the country. My mission is called Loving Without Boundaries. I started it about 6 years ago, first as a blog. When I first started the blog it was a way for me to work through my feelings of being a newer person handling polyamory and the various “ins-and-outs” for that type of relationship… pun intended {Laughs}
I accidentally ended up creating a community and that led to me creating the Loving Without Boundaries podcast, which has been really rewarding and fun, and also a great way to get various voices out into the community.
I eventually went on to become a relationship coach and a part of that journey for me is coming to Portland every year to go to the World Domination Summit, where we try to collectively answer the question “how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” I certainly think polyamory falls very well under that question.

So you say that you used your Loving Without Boundaries as a way for you to process your way into polyamory. What did that look like to you?
I’m a recovering Catholic. I went to 12 years of Catholic school so I had to unlearn things that I was taught when I was a child going to Catholic School. I tried out monogamy as a young adult, up until my early 30s, and it just didn’t work out for me. I became a cheating serial monogamist.
I just generally thought that there must be something inherently wrong with me. All of my friends were able to settle down with one man and have the traditional 2.5 kids and live that way happily. I wasn’t able to figure out why that wasn’t working for me and why I felt compelled to cheat on partners. I was also struggling with the idea that there was “the one” soulmate. In addition, I also know we’re living longer, so I’m thinking ‘Wow how am I supposed to choose the man for the rest of my life? You know, that’s a long time”.
So I was cheating partly because I was ‘upgrading’ to who I thought was a better “rest of my life guy” and then along would come the next one. It was just crazy. Eventually, I decided that wasn’t right and I was kind of being a big jerk and I decided that I didn’t want to cheat anymore, but I didn’t know what that meant.
I eventually met the person on Match.com who is now my husband. He was also a former cheater, so we decided to get together and try and figure out how to have a relationship without cheating on each other and how to figure out how our relationship could work the way we wanted it to work, versus the way society was telling us that it should work.
By that time I had never even heard of the word polyamory. So at that time we were just kind of experimenting with the swinger lifestyle, and we had visited a nudist resort. We were coloring outside the lines and maybe exploring kink/BDSM and swinging here and there, but I had not understood the concept of polyamory until somebody mentioned the book ”The Ethical Slut” to me.
I read “The Ethical Slut” and within just reading the introduction… the way I like to describe it… the clouds parted the angels sang and I was like ”WHAT is this thing polyamory and why did no one ever tell me that this even existed”. The concept of polyamory resonated with me and I immediately felt such relief that there wasn’t something wrong with me. I just felt that all along I would have been practicing polyamory, but I just didn’t even know that was a thing. I never heard that polyamory was a thing that you could identify as or practice.
My husband and I spent about 2 years just researching polyamory. How does this work? And how do you find partners? Ultimately, I went on AdultFriendFinder and I had my first polyamorous relationship which lasted five years and that boyfriend moved in with us. Eventually, it came time to start coming out to our friends and family. We found it to be a lot more challenging than we had imagined. That’s when I started the Loving Without Boundaries blog because I thought, “OMG I don’t know how I’m going to get through all this and not have anyone to talk to” because none of my friends were identifying as polyamorous and some of my closest friends were struggling with the idea of it. It was almost a way to reach out to a community of people who would understand me. Not necessarily out of desperation, but at times I felt a desperate need to talk to people who understood my struggle. I’d heard of blogs and I thought “Well I’m smart, I’m a designer who understands the internet – why don’t I just start a blog? I’ll just start writing about my life and see what happens…”

Image Credit – Matthew Wallin

Starting a new blog can be both frustrating and exciting. At first no one read my posts and then one person read my post {Laughs}
I remember my husband and I being at our favorite watering hole around the corner and I kept pulling up my little WordPress app and I was like, “Oh my god 10 people just looked at my blog post!”
So those first few weeks or months were very exciting, but it also told me that there are people out there seeking this information, wanting to hear more stories about what it’s like to live a polyamorous life, and what I was going through having two male partners in my house.
The Loving Without Boundaries blog ended up being a symbiotic relationship, where the commenters were helping me when I was vulnerable and sharing some of my difficult emotions. At the same time, I was helping them because people started asking me questions in the comments and I was able to say “hey I’m not an expert, but here’s what I’ve experienced and here’s how I can help you if you want to write me directly, here’s my email.” I just started accidentally creating a community, bit by bit and person by person. It was fascinating.
I started to get small amounts of notoriety and then I got the Bad Girl Bloggers Award… I thought, “Wow I’m actually making an impact somehow and people are reading my stuff, this is crazy.” I just thought to myself, “This is so rewarding now!”
Then comes the the Spider-Man line, “With great power comes great responsibility”. I thought, “Wow, my voice is out there and people are reading it whether it’s 150 or 500 people – I need to pay attention very closely to what I’m doing here”. Instead of that scaring me off it, invigorated me and I wanted to dive deeper.

And that’s when you went to get training to be a relationship coach?
Around this time, I was reinventing myself. My husband and I found out that we couldn’t have children, and that was creating a bit of a midlife crisis for me. We couldn’t have the 2.5 kids and the picket fence because our naughty bits weren’t working properly. I was working as a creative director at an advertising agency and my values were shifting during this midlife crisis. I also started to feel like I was just creating junk mail and asking people to buy things that they didn’t need.
I went through depression and I thought “what does bring me joy?” Two things came out… writing the blog Loving Without Boundaries…and dressing up as Frank-N-Furter on stage with my sister in a Rocky Horror Show tribute band. So, you know there’s some themes here… {Laughs}… and they all have to do with Kink/BDSM and coloring outside the lines of traditional relationships.
I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I quit my job and decided to dive deeper into my businesses. I joined an entrepreneurial community which is what brought me to World Domination Summit. Through those entrepreneurial communities I met podcasters and those podcasters challenged me. They said why don’t you get your voice out there, literally your voice. I was intrigued because in college I used to joke around that I always wanted to be a DJ, and I thought maybe this would be a neat way to get my voice out there, to just kind of have that sort of fantasy. I realized I would also be truly helping the polyamorous or poly-curious community… just to hear these stories from from other folks.
Then somebody in my entrepreneurial community eventually asked me, “Why don’t you become a coach?” It hadn’t even dawned on me to become a coach. So, it was really other objective people pushing me along and they were also people who are not polyamorous. They were just watching what I was doing, seeing how it lit me up, and seeing how it was having an impact on this minority community… and they wanted me to succeed! That’s a powerful place to be and that’s also why I do the work that I do. It’s amazing what can happen when you are surrounded by people who care about what you’re doing, want to support you, and want you to be happy… amazing what we can all achieve together.

 

Being out here on the Left Coast, we tend to live a little bit more openly. I feel like Portland is kind of a hub for LGBTQ and ethical non-monogamy sort of things; it’s pretty widely accepted here. You live on the East Coast in Washington, DC… What does the landscape look like over there as far as ethical non-monogamy and that sort of thing, do you find the you run into a lot of trouble over there?
I wouldn’t necessarily use the words I “run into a lot of trouble.” That seems a little overstated, but I will say that I don’t think consensual non-monogamy is as widely accepted on the East Coast as it is here on the West Coast. That even factors into why I do what I do, because I believe in a world where we can all live in a way that makes us happy, regardless of what that looks like. Whether you’re gay or straight whether you’re polyamorous or monogamous. We all should have those choices available to us and have those choices respected and accepted. That’s definitely a part of my overall mission. On the East Coast I’m a big cheerleader locally but also globally – which is also why I do the blog, the podcast, and speak around the country. It’s just to get that message everywhere. I can tell you locally and even within my own circles, coming out was challenging and it was not always received well… the rumors are true… I did lose some friendships. It’s obviously very painful that those losses can happen. If I lived on the West Coast would those happen less?… I think maybe. So I think it is a little more challenging on the East Coast, just the lack of acceptance and also the stereotypes. I can say it over and over again, but the stereotype is strong; that if you’re not living the heteronormative traditional or a monogamous lifestyle… “Oh you must be swinging from the rafters, having orgies, and sex all the time; and eww, you must have cooties and STIs, and everything that goes along with that.”

So you say that you experimented with swinging nudism kink in BDSM and that sort of thing, what did you find as you were going through that process that left you lacking something, is that why you ended up being more into polyamory?
What resonated with me when we were dipping our toes into that world was the freedom and the sexy novelty of coloring outside the lines, of… “just one man and one woman for the rest of your lives in your bedroom only doing the missionary position you know.”{Laughs} Being able to experiment and play in that world and to test out and find where my boundaries were. The first couple we played with sexually we ended up becoming very good friends with, and that was over 14 years ago at Hedonism in Jamaica. They are still are very close friends and we are not even sexual with them anymore.
We just noticed right away that we weren’t just interested in the sexual aspect. We were interested in the building of deep and lasting friendships with emotional bonds and that sort of thing… really getting to know people. However, we also enjoyed going to the parties, because of the high-energy, sexually charged atmosphere…. but at the end of the day I wanted to go home with people that I already knew, loved, and trusted; people that I was building something with. That’s when I learned about the term polyamory. The lightbulb went off and I was like, “Aha! that must be what I’m actually looking for.”
What really drives me is that concept of building those intimate relationships whether they’re emotionally intimate or sexually intimate; allowing the relationship to become whatever it’s meant to be at the level and speed that all of the partners are comfortable with. This is why I called my mission Loving Without Boundaries… it’s that idea of why do we have to put love in a box? Why can’t we let it expand if it wants to expand?

That kind of leads me to the next question I wanted to ask which was, do you find that as you identify as polyamorous, do you find that you primarily just stick to polyamorous relationships? Keeping yourself within that confined category or do you still kind of delve into the parties and the more casual relationships as well?

Image Credit – Matthew Wallin

I would say for me personally, I am poly-saturated in terms of relationships partly because I live with my two partners, am an entrepreneur, and I still maintain friendships and what not. Generally speaking I like to use the word “polyfidelit-ish”. I say “polyfidelit-ish” because of my cheating background – I like to have the door kind of cracked open, so again that Loving Without Boundaries concept. I want to be able to say, “Hey you’re hot”… You know? Or if something happens and I want to kiss somebody, I want to be able to have the freedom to to do that. But I’m not actually actively looking for any more relationships, partly because I just don’t have the emotional or time bandwidth. I’m not really interested in casual partners. With that said we do have a polycule and we do have… I don’t like the term Friends with Benefits it doesn’t seem right to me… but we do have people in our lives who are our close friends… who are occasional lovers as well. But again they’re not casual… they are people that we have a close friend connection with that are also a part of our poly family, if you will.
In terms of the kink and BDSM part of my journey, I have been continuing to explore that within the safety of my partners. I’ve definitely gotten more interested in light bondage during my polyamory and kink journey. I’m definitely into cosplay and experimenting with the boundaries of pain versus pleasure. I identify as kinky and am into BDSM, but I’m not deep into that world, I don’t live that world. But I love to play and explore in that world, and if it were taken away from me I’d be very upset.

So would you say then that the lines between your poly life and your kink life blur and overlap?
To me that also plays under the freedom aspect. One of my values is freedom and again the name Loving Without Boundaries means that I don’t want to be put in a box. I want the ability to evolve and I want my relationships to evolve. That just really resonates with me and is very important to me.

What was it like coming out to your family? What kinds of hardships did you encounter?
As I was on the other side of the midlife crisis, I was still trying to decide who I was and what I was all about. First there was a place where my husband and I thought we were polyamorous, but we weren’t 100% sure that was what life was going to look like, so we weren’t ready to come out yet. If you’re going to go through that process you want to be 100% sure what you’re saying and who you are.
I had a partner at the time and our relationship was going on 2 years at that point. And my husband had had a partner for about a year. What pushed us over the edge actually was my husband’s partner saying ”You know this is starting to feel icky to me that you’re not telling anybody that you’re with me and you’re kind of pretending like you’re monogamous with your wife. It makes me feel like I’m a geisha”. Once she said that we were like,”Wow! we’re kind of being assholes”
That was the lightbulb moment of coming out. We were like, “Jeez she’s right. It’s not fair that we get to exercise couple’s privilege here and pretend we’re monogamous and hide the partners, these people that we love, that we say we care about that feel like family to us.”
So that was the catalyst that pushed us over the edge to come out.
At this point my parents had already passed away. It’s a weird thing to say, but it was fortuitous in that I didn’t have to worry about coming out to my parents because they were no longer with us. As far as family, it was just my sister, so she was the first one we came out to. My husband came out to her when we were at a Rocky Horror event. It was actually really great that he came out to her because two hours later he was kissing his date and we thought, “Wow if he didn’t just come out to her a little bit earlier, she might have thought he was cheating on me”. So that was good timing and my sister took it very well.
We started the process of coming out to friends one by one and we were very nervous. We had a script that we would practice on each other. A lot of the coming out conversations went very well. As a matter of fact, a couple of people even said “duh we already knew”.
What was fascinating was that we found we were terrible at predicting who was going to be accepting and who was not going to be accepting. Sometimes the people that I thought were going to be totally cool and chill, were not. One person for example got very angry when I came out to them and I took some of that to be my fault. I think I chose poor timing and method; I did it over the phone and I think that was not a good idea. So, you learn a lot as you go through it.
I also noticed some people gave me lip service…”Oh, just live your life, I’m really happy for you”, but then over two or three years, that relationship / friendship just deteriorated and dissolved until it didn’t even exist anymore. I don’t think that it was just that I came out as polyamorous, but I definitely think that played a major factor and it’s just unspoken.
It’s a journey that never ends, because even when you come out to somebody they may have questions six months, a year later, five years later, etc. Also your relationships are going to evolve, and they’re going to have questions about those evolving relationships. I like to meet new people so when I’m meeting new friends, I have to eventually come out to them as well and we’ve struggled with the timing on that too. One of my worst coming out stories was with a new friend that I’d only known for a few months, and they came to a birthday party for my husband. One of my friends accidentally outed us… and that person started crying. It was regrettable because that wasn’t planned and she was crying, not because she was upset with the information – t was because it was shocking, and in an environment that she wasn’t prepared to hear something like that because she didn’t know what it was. It also made her feel like she couldn’t trust me, because why didn’t I tell her earlier? So it was another one of those life lessons where I was like wow, I really got to figure out how to time this when telling new people. So there’s all these landmines that you can find the hard way about coming out.

Tell me about the process of your boyfriend moving in with you.
There was a series of events that happened. I broke up my first polyamorous relationship partly because he cheated on me. That was a rough breakup because I was well into both blogging and podcasting at that time, so I went through an imposter syndrome period. I couldn’t believe that just happened to me… who do I think I am? That I can talk about this… and I just got cheated on in a polyamorous relationship?
I went through a healing process and when I came out on the other side, I went on OkCupid and that’s where I met my current boyfriend, rather quickly actually. We also fell in love rather quickly. Within a couple of months, we were head over heels for each other. He was living by himself at the time, and I learned that his wife and son live out of state – they had something of a long-distance marriage. When I met him I asked him if he liked living alone and he said ”Yeah, I do like living alone.”
In my head I thought “Oh okay, even though my last boyfriend did end up moving in with us, that’s probably not going to happen with this guy. He will just be an intimate partner where we see each other a few times a week”…
Then a few more months went by and a few things happened that influenced the process. His mother had made a comment to him about him living alone and that he was going to regret when he got to be his mother’s age, living alone and who was going to take care of him. So he kind of had that thought in his head.
In my entrepreneurial community, one of my business coaches divorced and she said she wanted to meet somebody. I encouraged her to try online dating and she ended up meeting the love of her life within 2 months and they got married a short time later. She attributed that experience to me encouraging her to get out there in that way because she was nervous about online dating before that. We were on a call and she was just letting us know that she’d fallen in love with this man and that she was about to go move her and her family 3 hours away to go live with him. That evening my boyfriend and I were driving to our house and as we were driving, we just got into this hypothetical conversation where we both started talking about the concept of him moving in. It’s a funny story because we each thought the other was saying that was what they wanted, but we actually weren’t. We were both confused, but it led to a place where I was like, “Wait a minute, I thought you said you like living alone I didn’t think you wanted to move in?”
And he said, “I don’t looooove living alone; I just said I like living alone, but I’d rather live with people that I really care about.”
I said “oh well if that’s the case, why don’t you move in?”
It was kind of hilarious, like a “who’s on first” kind of conversation… and he was like, “wait did you just invite me to move in” and I was like, “hey did you just say you wanted to move in?”
My husband and I were at happy hour a couple of days later and I said ”So what would you think if my boyfriend moved in?” After we talked about it, he thought it seemed like a great idea.
Within a couple months my boyfriend gave up his lease at his apartment – which was a huge deal – and he talked to his wife. I don’t know the details of that conversation, but somehow she gave some kind of affirmative “go for it”. Then he moved in and it was very exciting for me. I’m sure for him it was both scary and exciting.
Someone had once advised me to not make any snap major decisions while in the throes of NRE, so we very purposely waited about 5 months from the moment we had made the decision, just to make sure it was still a “hell yes”.
It wasn’t until after he moved in that some of the reality of it really started to sink in. We had some of our first arguments and thought, “oh, well you do THAT in the morning? That’s gross.” {Laughs}
You’re interviewing me at a funny time, because it’s now been almost 2 years that he’s lived with us and in some of our arguments I’ve said “it really seems like you have one foot out the door” and that kind of stuff, but within the last month, he just spent tons of money renovating his section of the house and making it his. So now it feels like he’s made a deeper commitment into our household and our local family. So it feels like we’re more committed. It also feels really nice because we worked through a lot of those bumps about communication, and we’re on the other side of it. And we’re still “hell yes!”

You’re all living under one roof, tell me about your husband’s relationship with your boyfriend
Everyone seems surprised when I tell them this, but they get along extremely well. They are both absolutely heterosexual. We are a poly-V and I’m the pivot partner in our household.
The more they get together and hang out, the more they just really get along. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are best friends, but I would say they are really really good friends. It warms my heart to the point of almost tears sometimes just seeing them interact and how they support each other.
My boyfriend had been living alone for five or six years before he moved in, he was still getting used to how my husband and I interact and how we believe a relationship should work.
I remember before he moved in, my boyfriend’s car had broken down and without even thinking about it, my husband jumped in the car and went to where he was at and brought out the jumper cables and said, “I’m here, let’s do this and get your car going”. My boyfriend was so taken aback he almost started crying. He thought to himself, “Wow no one’s ever done that for me before”. He was surprised at how quickly my husband just jumped in there and said “I’m here to help… let’s do this… you’re one of my peeps, and let’s get this taken care of”. From that point the relationship just built in a positive way.
So many people are surprised that there just isn’t any jealousy generally speaking. We just have easy conversations. If I’m sleeping upstairs or downstairs, it’s just kind of based on schedules and who has to get up in the morning. We have date nights so if I have a date with one partner, obviously I’m sleeping in that person’s bedroom that night. It’s just very fluid and loose and thankfully, relatively easy.

Talk to me about schedules, how how do you manage your schedule?

Image Credit – Walter William Pearl

I would say that’s the 9 million dollar question. Especially as an entrepreneur since I don’t have a 9 to 5 job. I am 150% constantly working very hard at answering that question. So I don’t really have the answer. If that future self could come over here and tell me how to do that, that would be awesome!
Generally speaking, I just do the best I can with my schedule. One thing that helped was when we finally embraced Google Calendar in terms of our collective schedule. That has helped, but I would say there were growing pains in the beginning. Such as first we were having arguments about schedules before Google Calendar and we thought Google Calendar was going to help us. Then we started having a few arguments after Google Calendar because we were frustrated with the technology or we had moments of “Youdidn’t send me the invite” or whatever. But now I feel we’ve worked out a fair number of those kinks… pun intended… {laughs}
As far as my schedule, I’m basically running two businesses, I have two partners, and I even have two cats, so it’s a lot to juggle. I just try and have basic rules. For example, I try not to work on Saturdays and Sundays, I try not to work after a certain time of day, but it’s all in flux. In terms of the sleeping arrangements, we try just to be very patient and understanding with each other as well as help each other out. We try and just remember that we are three adults all working very hard personally and professionally. We just try and remember that we’re here to support each other, and we try to assume goodwill as much as possible. That seems to help a lot, but it’s also something that we have to work at because it’s very easy to knee-jerk, especially with my boyfriend because it’s a newer relationship.

Was your boyfriend poly or non-monogamous when you met him?
Yes, but he’s been on his own journey. He got married in his early 20s and had a monogamous marriage for close to 20 years. They went through a rough patch and on the other side of that rough patch, he decided he was polyamorous. But his wife is monogamous and that has its challenges. By the time I had met him, he was living in a different state from his wife; he was identifying as polyamorous and had had previous relationships, but none of them had been long-term. So, I was the first long-term polyamorous relationship, the first live-in poly-relationship that he’d ever had, and also the first one where he had met the husband of his partner.

Do your partner’s have other partners?
Of course my boyfriend has his wife, and my husband has his girlfriend. She’s still in the picture and she still part of our polycule, and has been for over six years now. He also has a long-distance girlfriend that he sees once in awhile who is basically a college sweetheart. He sees her about twice a year.
I would say my husband identifies as “polyfidelit-ish” as well.

It seems like your world is relatively small as far as the relationship dynamic.
Yes well we do have other people that are part of our ”intimate network.”
At the same time, we are all older so none of us are “kids”, so it’s really just a case of we don’t really have a lot of time…
I still like to go to kink parties or swinger events, so we can still go out and meet people. It’s just that we’re not seeking additional relationships.

Tell me about what you’ve got going on in the future, where do you see the future taking you?
I’m working on another book. I found I love writing books as well as the blog. So, I’m working on my second book with a working title of ”Open Relationships for Sex Educators.” I’m co-writing that with Dr. Elisabeth Sheff. I’m working on some other book ideas as well.
One of my friends who’s here at World Domination Summit is working at creating a retreat center in Panama, so one of my other visions is to eventually hold weekend retreats for the polyamorous and the Loving Without Boundaries communities. These retreats could possibly be in Panama at my friends retreat center, but also in the U.S… and not just have me speaking, but have other guest speakers as well.
I would love to explore the idea of doing an online summit under the Loving Without Boundaries name, and I’m also looking to do more online group coaching .
With the podcast, I do have a Patreon page where we offer exclusive content. After talking with a colleague of mine, I’m working on the idea of offering a monthly online meetup at a certain level in the Patreon page. It’s still in development, but I’m thinking it would be like a “Dear Kitty” Q&A where we would meet together online. But if the patrons want to ask me questions, basically it would be online support sessions once a month, as an offering for being an online supporter on Patreon.

I would love for you to check out Kitty Chambliss online, and her Loving Without Boundaries blog and podcast. She has a great message and outreach. More than that, she is a wonderful person… full of spirit and warmth. I’m glad to have met her, and hope to see her again next year when she returns to Portland. Her website is: http://lovingwithoutboundaries.com . There you can find her blog, podcast, coaching services, and social media handles.

Photo credits: Jae Yi, www.jyiphoto.com; Matthew Wallin; Erika Kapin.

Facebook
Facebook
Instagram
RSS
Google+
http://pdxscene.com/wp/an-intimate-conversation-with-kitty-chambliss/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.