Gracie X is a sex-positive Writer, Director, Actress and Author of “Wide Open: My Adventures in Polyamory, Open Marriage, and Loving on My Own Terms”.

She writes and speaks about ethical non-monogamy, creating chosen family and what elements create both passionate and stable relationships. Also, how ‘relationship mission statements’ designed for your marriage or poly relationship foster the most joy for everyone.

“There is a spectrum of choices from monogamy to polyamory and all the nuances in between. There is no one place on the spectrum that is better or more correct. The key is to authentically create your marriage and family to meet everyone’s needs.”


This month’s new word is a phenomenon I’ve often discussed with polyamorous friends: One of you has a new love, relationship, or flirtation. Your other partner(s) feel jealous–and you are completely mystified. You have forgotten what it is like to have your beloved suddenly starry-eyed for someone else. My husband Oz came up with this new word for our love lexicon:


A. A state of complete forgetfulness or amnesia–when you can’t understand why your spouse, or significant other(s)  feels jealous about your new relationship.

B. Not remembering what it is like to be on the other side, to be the one feeling threatened.

C. Saying really dumb things like– “Did you have a difficult childhood? Because there’s absolutely no reason for you to feel threatened!”

I think this is a syndrome and a part of consensual non-monogamy. As a side note, I think this is one of the challenges of mono/poly relationships–if one of you is in a state of constant poly-amnesia, they have very little empathy for the monogamous partner who is dealing exclusively with jealousy.



My teenage daughter was seeing a movie one night with a group of friends. When I called her to coordinate her Uber ride home, she didn’t answer. Finally, two hours later, she answered her phone and told me she was on her way home. Something felt off.

I let her know how worried I had been not to hear back from her. The next morning she came into my bedroom and said, “Mom, I wasn’t really at the movies last night. I was at a kickback.” For those parents who haven’t heard, it’s basically a casual party with a bunch of teenagers “kickin’ back.” Original, huh?

We live in a mostly peaceful, fairly suburban wedge of a pretty large and sometimes very tough city. I knew that raising my kids in a diverse setting meant they’d encounter situations that required skill to maneuver. I needed to make sure they could make good decisions on their own.

So, starting when my children were in preschool, we’ve been playing a game in which I would describe a situation, then ask whether it was a health or safety issue.

Can you eat a pile of candy for dinner? No, sorry, this is a health issue.

Can you cross the street without holding my hand? Sometimes, depending on how busy the street is.

Any issue that fell outside the bounds of health or safety was one they were entitled to decide for themselves.

Can you go to school with your hair in knots and unbrushed? Sure, if your fashion sense is to look horrible, so be it!

These are my parenting parameters — these rules determine when I step in and when I lean back. So when my daughter told me that she had lied about the kickback, I went back to that rubric of health and safety. I calmly explained to her, “Sweetie, if I don’t know where you are, I can’t keep you safe. And that can create a dangerous situation.”

I ran a few scenarios by her: What would’ve happened if the party had gotten rough? Or if you started to feel sick? Because of the lie, you might’ve felt hesitant to call me and ask for help. This is a safety issue.

I did not shame or interrogate her — I also told her that while I consider her “very smart and capable,” life can deliver curveballs, and I want to help her catch them. She agreed to always tell me exactly where she was going, including the address, in the future.

I told a friend of mine, who is also the mother of a teenager, what went down. She asked me repeatedly why I didn’t punish my daughter for lying. The thought hadn’t occurred to me. My focus was on keeping the lines of communication open.

Subconsciously I must’ve felt that harsh discipline would give her reason to shut me out and lie again to get back at me; I wanted her to learn to make her own decisions and always come to me when those decisions were difficult.

Teenagers need to individuate from their parents and test out their own theories, rules, and values. But how do we make a space for individuation while keeping them safe?

According to Advocates for Youth: “A major study showed that adolescents who reported feeling connected to parents and their family were more likely than other teens to delay initiating sexual intercourse. Teens who said their families were warm and caring also reported less marijuana use and less emotional distress than their peers. … When parents and youth have good communication, along with appropriate firmness, studies have shown youth report less depression and anxiety and more self-reliance and self-esteem.”

If we want our kids to talk to us about all their challenges — including sex, drugs, and situations in which they might feel preyed upon — and we want to impart our wisdom to open ears, we must work on making communication a two-way street.

1. Allow your children to have separate thoughts and values.

Our children are separate people and might have different values. This can be incredibly challenging to deal with. For instance, a transgender teen in our community tried for months to win the approval of her father, who repeatedly stated that her sexuality went against his religion.

It wasn’t until she attempted suicide that he saw the damage his rigidity was creating. Make an effort to see your teenager as a separate individual — and allow them to express their individuality — you don’t own your child.

2. Be curious.

The greatest gift you can give a teenager is curiosity about who they are. When my kids were in kindergarten I started a game. I’d say, “Vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream?” “A vacation by the beach or in the mountains?” “Getting angry with me or getting angry with your dad?” I learned so much about them through this seemingly pointless banter. If you show curiosity about the little things, it’ll open a portal into more open communication and connection.

3. Get a life of your own.

Are you hyper-focusing on your teenager to avoid your own life? Helicopter parenting is an epidemic these days. The revered psychoanalyst Carl Jung observed, “Nothing is a bigger burden on children than the unlived life of the parent.” If you want your kids to talk to you and confide in you, the first step is to make sure you’ve got your own life together.

Jung also said, “Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” Are you modeling a fulfilled person? Or are you attempting to live out unfulfilled dreams through your kids? Kids will stop sharing their lives if they sense your motives are tainted.

4. Deal with your own history and trauma.

I have a friend whose teenage daughter initiated a conversation with her about potentially having sex for the first time. During the talk my friend started crying and saying she was “worried and fearful” for her daughter. My friend was molested when she was 15 and, without intending to, was projecting her trauma onto her daughter.

This girl has since stopped talking to her mother about sex. When my bewildered friend told me this, I encouraged her to spend some time in therapy so that she could separate her painful experience from her daughter’s very healthy natural explorations into becoming a sexual being.

Separate your history from the present-day experiences of your child. If you can’t talk about difficult experiences, how do you expect your children to?

5. Learn to listen actively.

Are you listening as much as you are talking? Do you use “I” statements (“I want to make sure you are safe” versus “You are screwing up your life!”)? If a conversation with your teen tends to evolve into a heated debate, step back and ask yourself whether you are disagreeing with your child’s feelings or actions rather than intently listening with the desire to understand him or her better.

It’s impossible to be a perfect parent, but if your intention is to guide rather than control, if you’ve examined your own motives and life, and if you really listen — you have a much stronger chance to have open, honest communication with your children.


A long-term relationship or marriage is a blessing—but what do you do when the doldrums set in? How can you see your spouse with fresh eyes? Appreciating everything you have together and awakening what may have gone dormant

  1. Celebrate What’s Working: Research has shown that couples who focus on the negatives in their relationship—feel more negative! What a surprise. A study by Robinson and Price (1980) concluded that unhappy couples notice the occurrence of pleasurable events in their relationships 50% less than happy couples. Reminisce about the good times you’ve spent together recently and what you appreciate about your marriage.
  2.  Reattach as Friends: Spend quality time together—getting current on the emotional level even if it’s nothing earth shattering. Revealing your inner most thoughts and being listened to—inevitably re-engages two people. Noticing the ordinary moments in your relationship. Share something you’re reading, listen attentively, be mutually available to each in the here and now. They don’t call it “The Present” for nothing.
  3. Speak Your Truth: If you don’t tell the truth, the other person has no way of knowing who you are, what you are thinking or feeling and how their actions impact you. Although it can be scary to “tell it like it is,” honesty can bring vitality to your relationship. Unexpressed anger numbs passion. If the truth is difficult–start speaking about why you’ve shut down. Brush up on good communication skills, express yourself with kindness, using “I” statements and words that take ownership for your part in co-creating any dynamic that isn’t working. Hiding yourself and avoiding conflict sucks energy out of your connection. It may be painful to speak some hard truths but living a lie causes more debilitating long-term pain.
  4.  Don’t Wait To Feel “Turned On” To Make Love: Having sex increases the hormone Oxytocin—which makes us feel closer, more bonded and empathetic to our partners. So don’t wait to feel erotic–make love now to create the attraction. Sometimes sex in long term marriages gets fraught with power struggles and expectations. Make an agreement to set aside some time to be sensual. Lock the door, turn off the cell phones and have fun together. Lower your expectations for each sexual experience. Let go of orgasm or penetration– anything that is “goal” oriented. Being in bed for a few hours making out, touching and talking —can be thrilling. Remember when you were dating or courting each other and you practically peeled a layer of your own skin in preparation for that special date? Pretend you’re dating again. Adorn yourself, wear clothes that show off your assets, buy perfumes or colognes that make you smell and feel attractive. Be the source of what you are seeking from your partner.
  5.  Have an Adventure Together: Get out of your mundane world. Do or learn something new together that will captivate and challenge you. Skydiving is an understandable cliché—but what about a cooking class? Or Paddle boarding? Being bonded as two beginners, depending on each to make it through your adventure, will bring freshness into your connection.
  6.  Take Some Time Apart: How can I miss you if you never go away? This can be hard to make happen if you have busy lives together—but missing each other is a strong aphrodisiac. It’s important to not only have some space, but possibly to spend a night apart every once in a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s like hitting a refresh button.
  7.  Have Mutual Goals: Re-ignite your vision for your relationship. Research shows that couples who share dreams and goals have longer-lasting, more satisfying relationships. Have a heart to heart talk about what’s most important for both of you. Discuss where you want to be in the upcoming years. Then take steps to carry out your plans together.

  • How I Raised Teenagers Who Tell Me Everything — Even When It’s Hard

    Friday, January 15th, 2016


    My teenage daughter was seeing a movie one night with a group of friends. When I called her to coordinate her Uber ride home, she didn’t answer. Finally, two hours later, she answered her phone and told me…

    Read More
  • 5 Tips For An Earth-Shattering Orgasm You HAVEN’T Already Tried

    Monday, November 30th, 2015

    My mother used to say, “In a world that is largely focused on male pleasure — the female orgasm is an act of revolution.”

    Her words have even more resonance in today’s on-demand culture where porn (largely produced, directed, and watched by men) is sometimes the only sex education young…

    Read More
  • Why I Taught My Daughter What A Vibrator Was When She Was Ten Years Old

    Thursday, November 12th, 2015

    Unlike a lot of mothers in my suburban community I have no problem talking to my kids about sex. In fact, I’m very comfortable talking honestly, openly, and non-judgmentally about it.

    I was raised by a stylish diva Mom of the “Mad Men” era, twice divorced, slightly embittered but unequivocal…

    Read More
  • A Sex Positive Mother Educates her Teenage Daughter to get Pleasure vs. Pregnant

    Monday, October 12th, 2015


    Unlike a lot of mothers in my suburban community I have no problem talking to my kids about sex. In fact, I’m very comfortable talking honestly, openly, and nonjudgmentally about it.

    I was raised by a stylish diva Mom of the “Mad Men” era, twice divorced, slightly embittered but unequivocal…

    Read More
  • 50 Shades of Boredom

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

    I am really happy that a woman writer wrote a sexy book—and that throngs of women are raucously declaring their libido at the movies. I am happy and yet—I have to say it—as a sex positive feminist I feel let down by this failed attempt at great erotica. “Fifty…

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  • The Polyamory Handbook for Monogamous People: Tip One Invest in your relationship

    Sunday, October 19th, 2014

    This morning I was reading an article in Scientific American called “The New Sexual Revolution: Polyamory May Be Good for You.” It outlines “what swinging couples and committed polyamorists can teach monogamists about love”.

    According to Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont. Polyamorous couples “…are potentially…

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  • Polyamory and Defining Love

    Sunday, September 28th, 2014

    When I was first starting a spiritual practice, my teacher asked me to define love. I pondered this for a few days and then said that “Love grows me, it is like what soil, rain, and sunshine is to a plant. It is the force that helps me blossom.”…

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  • Chosen Family and Polyamory: The Newfangled Brady Bunch

    Thursday, September 25th, 2014

    Today I was compelled to look up the definition of “Family”.

    A group of people who are related to each other
    A person’s children
    A group of related people including people who lived in the past

    If we go by Webster’s definition it’s all about your gene pool. But when I think of…

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  • The Polyamory Handbook for Monogamous People: Tip 2 Keep having sex

    Sunday, September 21st, 2014

    Sometimes polyamorous people are on display and /or criticized because it’s clear that sex is a high priority for them. But for all you monogamous people check this out—according to several studies sex improves your marriage and even your health. And not having sex with your spouse puts you…

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  • The Polyamorous Guidelines for Monogamous People: Tip 3 Have the Same values

    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

    This is something I’ve been talking about in my videos and now I have the research to back up my point. According to David Popenoe, Ph.D., from The National Marriage Project, Rutgers University

    “People who are similar in their values, backgrounds and life goals are more likely to have…

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