Dr. Rachael Meir is a Stanford-trained psychologist and Contemporary Relationship Clini-Coach® who specializes in ethical/consensual non-monogamy (including swinging, open relationships, polyamory, and other alternative lifestyles) and is sex-positive, LGBTQIA+ affirming, and BDSM/kink aware. As a bisexual woman in a polyamorous triad relationship herself, Dr. Meir is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the challenges of opening their relationships and sustaining multiple sexual and romantic partnerships. With extensive experience working with a wide range of clients, she has a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by those living outside the bounds of heteronormative sexual orientations and monogamous relationship structures. She offers individual and group coaching to help clients learn the necessary skills to create secure and healthy relationships that work best for them.
Dr. Rachael Meir, Defy Relationship Conformity Clini-Coach®️
Can you share with us your journey to becoming a Contemporary Relationship Clin-Coach® specializing in ethical non-monogamy?
Although I had been raised to believe that you ﬁnd a single partner, get married, have 2.5 kids, work for 50+ years, and then retire and ﬁnally enjoy life, I found myself going against the grain of this socially ingrained model from early on.
I did get married to an absolutely wonderful man, but being a bisexual woman, I realized there was something missing. Aaron and I had lots of conversations and talked about ways in which I could explore this part of my sexuality, and ultimately had our ﬁrst adventures into non-monogamy through the swinging lifestyle.
Although “the plan” had been to get pregnant and have kids by age 30, my husband and I instead found ourselves advocating for a "childfree by choice" lifestyle on the Dr. Phil Show. Not long thereafter, we both also quit our corporate jobs, escaped the “rat race” and moved to Mexico where we lived as expats.
The swinging lifestyle, albeit fun, was still not enough. I wanted to have a deep, emotional connection with a woman, just like I had with Aaron as a man. So almost 4 years ago, we intentionally sought out to meet another woman with whom we could form an equitable triad. And that's when we met Kasey and decided to move back to the United States to give the nontraditional relationship a valiant effort.
I made the decision to go back into the profession of psychology and opened my private practice as a sex-positive, LGBTQIA+ aﬃrming, BDSM/kink-aware practitioner whose focus was in the area of ethical/consensual non-monogamy. It quickly became apparent that so many people were eager to ﬁnd someone they could talk to about their non-monogamous relationship structures who was not only aﬃrming but actually understood their challenges on a personal level!
Given that I am only able to work with clients in the states in which I am licensed, I felt that there was a huge missed opportunity to serve more people and provide greater awareness, education, and advocacy, and thus decided to pursue my certiﬁcation as a Clini-Coach®.
What are some common misconceptions about ethical non-monogamy that you often encounter, and how do you address them with your clients?
Some common misconceptions about ethical non-monogamy are that it is 1) a way for people to avoid commitment, 2) a way to cheat, 3) an excuse to sleep around, and 4) inherently unstable and that the relationships don’t last. In reality, ethical non-monogamy is about building meaningful, long-term relationships that are based on trust, communication, and mutual respect. We can use a book analogy to help clarify the misconceptions:
Some people may view ethical non-monogamy as a book with a series of short stories, where partners can jump from one chapter to the next without committing to the entire story. They may think it's a way to avoid commitment and explore multiple options without being fully invested in any of them. However, in reality, ENM is more like a novel, with a complex and intricate storyline that requires commitment, patience, and open communication to understand fully. Just like a novel has multiple characters and plotlines that intertwine and evolve over time, ethically non-monogamous relationships involve multiple partners with their own needs, desires, and emotions that need to be considered and respected.
I address these misconceptions by providing copious amounts of education and information through social media, along with openly sharing my personal story, which can help dispel myths and begin to shift people’s perspectives about non-monogamous relationships.
What are some of the most common challenges your clients face when exploring ethical non-monogamy, and how do you help them overcome these challenges?
Exploring ethical non-monogamy can be a thrilling adventure, full of new experiences, exciting connections, and deep personal growth. But like any journey, it can also have its challenges and obstacles. One of the most common challenges that clients face is navigating jealousy and other insecurities. These emotions can be overwhelming and can put a strain on even the most secure and loving relationships. That's why I work with clients to ﬁrst understand that these feelings are NORMAL and to be expected, and then to identify the root causes of their jealousy and develop strategies for managing these emotions. Together, we explore tools such as self-care practices, setting boundaries, and improving communication with their partners.
Yet, communicating effectively with partners in and of itself is another common challenge. Non-monogamous relationships require open and honest communication to succeed, and that can be diﬃcult for some people who are not used to expressing their needs and desires. I teach my clients techniques for active listening, assertive communication, and conﬂict resolution so that they can express themselves more clearly, understand their partners' perspectives, and work together to overcome any challenges that may arise.
Lastly, navigating the logistics of non-monogamous relationships can also be a challenge. From scheduling dates to setting boundaries and managing privacy concerns, there are many details that need to be considered and managed. I help clients develop effective systems such as calendars, regular check-ins, and shared agreements.
How do you work with couples who are interested in exploring ethical non-monogamy, but may have different levels of comfort or experience with it?
Ah, the exciting world of ethical non-monogamy! As a coach, I've had the pleasure of working with many couples who are eager to explore this fascinating and evolving relationship style. However, I know that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to non-monogamy, and that's totally okay! The key is to ﬁnd what works best for each individual and their relationships.
When working with couples who may have different levels of comfort or experience with ethical non-monogamy, I always begin by acknowledging and addressing these differences head-on. Through open and honest communication, I work with each partner to understand their individual needs, desires, and concerns. From there, we can begin to ﬁnd common ground and work towards a shared understanding of what ethical non-monogamy can look like for them.
Sometimes, this means starting slowly and gradually building up to more complex forms of non-monogamy as each partner becomes more comfortable. Other times, it might mean acknowledging that non-monogamy may not be for everyone…and that's okay too. I give my clients permission to peacefully part ways if it means allowing each of them to live as authentically as possible. Whatever the approach, I'm always here to support and guide my clients every step of the way. It's about ﬁnding what works best for each individual and their relationships.
What advice do you have for individuals who are considering ethical non-monogamy, but may be hesitant or unsure of where to start?
I encourage my clients to start by doing their research and learning as much as they can about ethical non-monogamy. I’ve put together my favorite books, podcasts, websites, and other resources here for you! It's also important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner(s) about your desires and concerns and to set clear boundaries and expectations for your relationship(s). Finally, seek out the support of a trained relationship coach or therapist who can help guide you through.
In what ways do you differentiate yourself from other relationship coaches in the ﬁeld, and what do you think sets you apart?
I have a solid online presence showcasing my own personal triad relationship. Even though the focus on ethical non-monogamy is in itself a speciﬁc niche, I’ve further narrowed my specialization to helping individuals and couples form and successfully sustain triad relationships. This type of non-monogamous relationship structure is arguably one of the hardest to sustain, and yet also one of the most rewarding when achieved successfully.
Ready to explore the limitless possibilities of ethical non-monogamy? Join Dr. Rachael Meir's Facebook community to gain valuable insights, and embark on a journey of love, trust, and personal growth. Start rewriting the rules of your relationships today!