how our polyamorous clients build thriving relationships

Warning: Optimism Can Ruin Your Polyamorous Relationship

“Ya’lls can be a little negative about polyamory. Why can’t you talk about the positive things?” 

We got this question from a listener. So this week, we’re discussing why we don’t sugarcoat and the consequences that being overly optimistic can have for your relationships.


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Cassie 0:00
So people often ask us like, why are y'all so negative? We're gonna answer that question today.

Cassie 0:08
Here at Touch of Flavor, we teach non-monogamous folks how to overcome their obstacles and build thriving relationships.

Josh 0:33
This podcast is about answering one question: how do you create loving, passionate, secure relationships outside the box? Even if nothing has ever worked before? If you want to know the answer, you are in the right place.

Cassie 0:45
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Cassie 0:56
All right. So quite often, you know, we'll have folks who reach out and they're like, "Cassie, you and Josh are kind of like negative nancies. You're always talking about the challenges and the problems. And why don't we talk about more positive things and awesome things about polyamory?" And first of all, I would challenge and say we do talk about some really awesome things about polyamory and non-monogamy.

Josh 1:21
Wasn't that "why y'all so negative" an exact quote?

Cassie 1:23
Yes, that is the exact quote. I pulled it from a message that I got last week. So why are y'all so negative? Why can't we talk about something positive? So the truth is, we do talk about the awesome things about non-monogamy. We actually have some shows on... there's one that's the top five reasons why we think polyamory is beautiful. But the truth is, we do talk about challenges. We talk about the problems because there are real challenges when it comes to having relationships. And that's any relationship. And when it comes to polyamory, non-monogamy.... it's close to our heart. It's what we do every day. And when you do something all the time, you get to see the wonderful things about it. And you also get to see the reality of the challenges. And so we talk to folks-- I mean, how many folks do we talk to?

Josh 2:28
I talk to hundreds personally.

Cassie 2:30
Yeah, like, hundreds of folks a year. And with doing that, we get to see the beauty. We get to see the awesome things that can happen. But we also see when your relationship is facing challenges. When folks don't heal their relationships, what really happens? And so while we get to support people falling back in love, and we get to see these amazing things, we also can't really ignore the the negative. We can't ignore when we see these big things that are impacting relationships and destroying families. And so we talk about them, because we're not going to pull our punches.

Josh 3:28
Yeah, you know, it's interesting. And we're gonna talk about optimism-- the optimism bias-- in this episode. But, so I was thinking initially when you're talking here... I was thinking. I don't know, are we in a place where we have more of a bias towards the negative side? As like a way to combat the fact that most people are delusionally optimistic in a lot of ways. And that I think, in a lot of ways, the non-monogamous community as a whole has a lot of optimism in circumstances where they shouldn't. And I was really just thinking about that for a moment. And I was like, "no, we don't," and I'll tell you why. Because the data is that looking at marriages, and we'll just go with marriages for a minute, even though-- because a lot of our clients are married-- even though there's plenty of people in the non-monagmous space that aren't married, but even looking at marriages, which are-- I think it's pretty clear-- going to have a lower breakup rates than if we're just dating. We aren't as entwined and don't have as much at stake if we break up. The statistics for marriages in this country are 50% for first marriages. 60% for second and 73 for third. So you are even if you're married, more likely than not to lose that relationship than to keep it and that is, if-- that's without throwing non-monogamy on top of things because as well, non--monogamy is beautiful and amazing. I certainly don't think it helps the rate of people staying together when they throw those challenges on top. So it's going to be higher. Right? So I'm saying that to say I was really actually thinking-- so I don't know; do we skew negative to combat that? And I was like, no. I think the reality of the conversation that most people like to ignore is that most relationships, most marriages, most families don't work. And if you want to not be a statistic, if you want to defy those odds, then you have to be in a place where you're number one, recognize that fact. And number two, choose to operate very differently because of it. So I'll pass it back to you. But I was just thinking in real time, like, I don't know, do we skew more towards it? No, no, I don't think we do.

Cassie 5:54
And I don't. My big thing is this: is that there is consequences to being too optimistic. Right? And when we're talking to folks, and we're bringing these things, the truth is we're holding up a mirror of what's really going on; what's really happening. And I'm going to say something that's probably going to trigger you, because I'm going to talk about triggers for a second. If you're sitting there and listening to some of the things that we're saying about jealousy, or feeling disconnected, or, you know, recognizing that your relationship is going in a negative direction. If you're feeling triggered by that, there's a reason. If it wasn't about you, if it wasn't something that was true to you, you just change the channel. If you're sitting there, and it's causing you anxiety and stress, that's because we're holding up a mirror that maybe you've been ignoring.

Josh 6:51
Well, that's anything in life. Anytime you get hooked by something. If I was to come to you and say you're a hippo you wouldn't pay that two cents. You wouldn't be bothered by that at all. Because you know it's not true. If we come to and say, "Hey, like, xy and z means your relationship is on the rocks," and that's hooking you. And that's something that is connecting with you and that you're getting feelings about, that's because you recognize there's some level of truth where that resonates with you. And this isn't a relationship thing, by the way. This is a life thing. The things that bother us that we hear are always the things that we worry have some kernel of truth to them.

Cassie 7:31
So if you're in that space, and you're watching an episode, or you're reading one of our posts, and you're like, "Oh, this negative stuff is really getting to me." You need to look out why that's getting to you. And when we're at this place, and those things are coming up, it can be scary, right? Because maybe you've had so many people around you being like, "This is all great and wonderful." And so we're not being negative. We're just holding up and saying, "Hey, this is the stuff that can happen." And if you're feeling it, then that's something you need to inspect. And we like to have really, really open honest conversations with people about the stuff whether it is here on the show, or it's like our clients, or when we're having breakthrough calls. I can't tell you how many times I personally have had calls with folks where they've had a breakthrough session. And they're like, "I really appreciate it. I really appreciate that you asked me a question or a thing that nobody else has ever asked." And it's because they recognize the reason why we're asking is because it's important. And it's not out of "let's pull out the negative things." It's about loving these people and really coming from this place of just being honest.

Cassie 8:54
Because that's really what it's all about. And so the reason why we're so honest, is because as we said before, there is a-- not "a," but many consequences to being overly optimistic. And so here's the thing. A lot of times folks sit back and they're like, "I'm not overly optimistic." So I'd like to kind of talk a little bit about statistics around and theories behind optimism. So there's a book called "Thinking Fast and Slow." And in it, the author has a quote, that is "People tend to be overly optimistic about their relative standing on any activity in which they do moderately well." And I want to highlight that just for a second. We think that we are really good at things that we are moderately well-- not well-- moderately well on. And so what does this look like? So, there's a couple of things. And we'll take this outside of relationships for a minute, and we'll bring it back. But when they've looked into studies around this kind of stuff, it's things like driving, right? When they've done like studies behind people who think that they can drive, and he actually talks about in the book. And they're like, "Oh, I drive excellently well," but when they actually watch them, study them, the people who thought that they drove really, really well, didn't actually drive that good. Like, it was moderately well, to pretty bad. Because we overestimate our ability. We overestimate how good things are. And there's a couple of reasons. One, we believe in ourselves a little too much. Two, we believe in what we remember, more than we do. I know, you talk about this a lot, as far as memory.

Josh 11:01
Don't get me started on that. This episode won't end and it won't go on the topic that we're talking about.

Cassie 11:08
But there's that challenge. Which is we think that we can recall things much better than we can. And just down at its root, us as humans, we really do believe that we are better at most things than we are. Like we have a tendency to-- the things that we feel good about or decent about-- to really bump up. And what this is called is it's called optimism bias. And it's a thing. You can Google it-- it's a thing. And it is a cognitive-- It is a cognitive bias that causes you to believe that you are more likely to experience positive things and less likely to experience the negative. And so this isn't like something we're making up. This is science. And what it consistently says is that 80% of people-- 80% of the human population exhibit an optimistic bias. So what is that other 20%? We can sit here and talk about, like some of that 20% could be children. Some of that 20% could be you like elderly people. There's a whole other thing with that 20%. But let's just say 80%. That's a pretty big number, which means most likely you have it. Because really most of us do. And so what this means is that because we all have it, we have a huge kind of bias towards thinking that things are going to go better than they are.

Josh 12:56
I just want to give another frame for this too. Because the statistics are important. But I just want to stack on this. Because I think it's easy for people to look at statistics and go, "Well, still not me. I'm the 20% I'm this, I'm that." Or to not understand why it happens and to really have a hard time connecting. And the truth of the matter is, folks, when people are in a spot where they're suffering in their relationships-- they're arguing all the time. They're unhappy. They're afraid of what the future looks like. They're buried in jealousy. They're stressed out They're losing weight. They're not sleeping. They can't focus at work. They're wondering if they're going to be divorced tomorrow. They're just miserable and unhappy and unfulfilled and terrified of what the future is going to bring. The thing is, it's very hard to get through the day like that. It's impossible to get through the day like that. That's why people wind up depressed. That's why people wind up suicidal. That's why people wind up just living in anxiety all the time. They can't break out of it-- Not able to get out of bed or not able to focus with their kids or at work or having horrible health consequences. And any time we're in that place, we as humans do what we need to do. The only thing we can do to survive. And we find ways to cope. And, you know, people have all kinds of varying degrees of healthy and unhealthy ways of coping.

Josh 14:35
But one of the biggest ways that we cope, to get through the day is just to tell ourselves that isn't as bad or as hopeless as it appears on the surface. And that it isn't really going the place that we know deep down that it's going. You know, really, this has been falling apart for years. But really this book, this is the one that's going to turn it around. Right? Or we're really going to try this time. And we have to tell ourselves that to get through the day. To even be functional. And this isn't just stuff I'm talking about with clients, right? I mean, we've been in this place as well. But that is delusional optimism. Like that is this bias towards optimism. Like expecting that things are going to change or pretending with no reason to think they're going to change. Ignoring the fact that I can't tell you how many people I talked to who it's like, okay, so how long do you think this is sustainable? If things don't get fixed? They're like, "Oh, I don't know. We could probably just keep doing this for a few years." Okay, how many times you talked about talked about breaking up? "Oh, like four times in the last week and a half."

Cassie 16:07
And I just met with a lawyer. But--

Josh 16:09
What! But we have to have that bias to get through the day. But the problem is, is that when you're-- well, I'll let you talk about the problems. You have talked about the problems. But you know, it's just important to recognize that this isn't just some abstract thing but statistically, this is what we all do as humans to get through the day, when our relationships are struggling. And it's what we have to, to stay functional. But it isn't a good thing as far as our relationships are concerned.

Cassie 16:47
Yeah. It's something that there's a place for it. Right? But when you lean into it too much, right? Like, yes, you might want to be a little bit optimistic about like, you know, today could be a better day. I think that having that idea, like today could-- But you want to not lean into the optimism so much that you're not moving in the direction that you really want to. That you're sitting still. So I'm going to take this in-- Go ahead.

Josh 17:21
I want to draw a distinction here that I think's really important. I think there's a distinction between possibility and hope. And optimism. That I want to draw here and you can tell me if you agree or disagree. Optimism is pretending things are better than they are or expecting things to magically change with no good reason to think it. Hope and possibility-- which I guess I'm kinda using the same thing here-- are the recognition that things could change under the right circumstances. And I think that's a really important distinction. Between the possibility that things could change under the right circumstances, whereas, optimism is-- or especially this kind of unfounded optimism we're talking about-- is expecting them to kind of magically change with no real reason to think that you're doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. Would you agree with that?

Cassie 18:28
So I was gonna talk a little bit about this in a minute. And you kind of rephrase it a different way than I would, because I feel like you're gonna have people who are gonna be like, "Well, you know, that's not exactly the meaning of optimism." Optimism doesn't necessarily mean the way you defined it. I think that if you're breaking it down that way, yes. I think I agree that it's definitely... there's sort of the three chunks. There's the-- and I think what the important piece is, is recognizing that there's a difference between believing something is going to just change, and recognizing that there is opportunity for change. And I think that that is really the two big distinctions in. Because I feel like we might have people who listen to the show, and they're like, let me look up the Webster diction of what-- and I think the big distinction is believing something is going to just automatically change and recognizing that there is opportunity for change. And I think that that is the really big distinction between letting yourself fall into this optimism bias and leaning too far into it versus, being open and not rejecting the possibility for change. Does that makes sense?

Josh 19:49
No, I mean, I agree. I think it's-- I think we're using different words but we're talking about the same thing.

Cassie 19:54
Yeah. So if we don't want you to be overly optimistic and all that, what do we what do we want folks to do? Well, we want you to suffer. We want you to sit in the misery and we want you to be awful. We want you to just cry all the time. No, that's not what we want.

Josh 20:12
No. But I would suggest that you be realistic if you are suffering. And not ignore it and not pretend it's not happening. And ignore the danger.

Cassie 20:27
Absolutely, yeah. What we want is for you to acknowledge. Acknowledge what's really going on. If you have something going well today, acknowledge. We had a really good day. We had a really good date night. I want you to acknowledge that. And I also want you to acknowledge when things aren't going well, or if there's a pattern of things not going well. One of the biggest things that I see folks do-- we'll get on a call. Their relationship will have been in shambles for the last five years. Just three days ago, they were packing up their stuff. He was he was signing divorce papers. She was throwing dishes in the kitchen. And then last night, they had a great date night and amazing sex, and everything's fine now. No, it's not!

Josh 21:22
Or they had a really good talk.

Cassie 21:24
They had a reall good talk. One of those things. "We had a really good-- we sat down, and we had a really good chat." Here's the thing. I don't want you to ignore that you had that good thing. Acknowledge it! You had great sex. You had a good talk. And let's keep it in context. That one night in the bedroom, that one conversation did not undo the five years of arguments, jealousy, frustration, everything else. Let's just be realistic. And that's where we're talking about this bias, right? Is what we see-- and we're kind of like joking about it. But I'm dead serious. We see it all the time, where we'll have somebody who were talking to who it's like, "Everything's great. We had this one talk. We did this date night, We sat down together last night, and it went well." And they take that as the trajectory, that their relationship is now going to be on without taking any other steps. And that's just not realistic.

Josh 22:28
Here's the problem. I don't know if we've really actually spelled this out. But the problem with this kind of delusional optimism that we're talking about here is that it feels better in the moment than acknowledging where you're at. But it doesn't give you the space to actually be realistic enough to evaluate the changes that need to be made. You can never make a plan on how to fix things, you can never take the right actions to create a real change, if you're not being honest with yourself about where you're at in the first place. It's just not possible.

Cassie 23:07
Well, that's with anything in life, right? Like if I go to the gym, and I have one good day at the gym, and I ignore the fact that I've sprained my ankle and everything's been-- I'm not going to take the right actions to do something different. I'm just gonna be like, "Yes, I had an okay day at the gym!" We have to really be able to evaluate where we are. Right. So is there anything else you want to add to that before we talk about--

Josh 23:39
No, I just wanted to put that in the space.

Cassie 23:41
So it really comes down to: no, we don't hate optimism. And there is a healthy optimism. There's the healthy recognizing what can be that opportunity, versus thinking things will get better. And those are two separate things: thinking that things "will" just get better over time, or with this talk, or eventually. Versus it "can." Because if you think it "will," you stall, you think, "Oh, it'll just happen." If you believe it can you "can" take that "can" and figure out how to make that "can" be a thing.

Josh 24:30
I mean, I'd frame this even in this way. Which is, if the answer is what do you want us to do, instead of being delusionally optimistic? It's to, number one, be bluntly honest about where you're at what's really going on and the challenges that are there and where this is heading, if things don't get fixed. So you start with being bluntly honest about what is actually going on. Okay? And then you allow the space for the possibility that things can change if you take the right action, and then it's figuring out, "Okay, so here's where I am. Here's the reality of where I am. Here's where I want to get. What actually needs to happen? I know, it's possible, but now what actually needs to happen? What are the steps, the actions that I need to take to close that gap?" But that's only possible, operating from a place of reality. How's that?

Cassie 25:35
I like that. I like it. And that's the thing, right? It comes down to what's the reality and what needs to happen? So that way, it can be a reality, right? Because "can" is only possible if you're taking the steps to get there. So anything else you want to add on that?

Josh 25:53
No, just I just want to stack that what I would term as positive optimism or helpful-- helpful-- helpful optimism in this sense, when we're talking about being optimistic, what I would think about as helpful optimism is not pretending things are different than they are. It's recognizing that there is always the possibility for things to be different if you take the right steps. If and only if you take the right steps. That is helpful optimism. And that's optimism that we want to see you have. And I'll tell every one of you out there, there is the possibility for things to be better. You don't have to keep suffering or struggling in the ways that you've been. Things can always be different with different action. You can change, your relationships can change, the future can change, your families can change. And that's where-- I think that's where you really have the optimism that really makes a difference in your life, and really actually picks you up is not to ignore what's going on. It's to recognize that whatever is going on, you have the power to make a change, if you'll just seize it. I am Buddha today.

Cassie 27:25
That's awesome. I love it. So with that, if you're in that spot where your relationship has been a challenge. Where you feel like you and your partner have been drifting apart. Where you're recognizing that maybe you have been sugarcoating what's going on. And you're ready to step out of that, and figure out a path to what is possible--That's what we do every day when we talk to folks. Is we have the chat. We figure out realistically what's going on. We as the hard questions. We hold that mirror, right? And then from there, we talk about what the real possibilities are, and what steps you need to take to get there. So if that's you, you can go to, and we'll have a chat.

Josh 28:17
Yeah. And here's the thing, folks, again. I want you to recognize that things can be different. You don't have to stay-- you don't have to stay where you're at. That's the beauty of I mean, of everything really. Of life. There is always the possibility for change. There's always the possibility to grow yourself. There's always a possibility for you to be different. For your relationships to be different. For whatever outcomes in life to be different. But it starts with being honest. It starts with and then taking intelligent action and knowing where to go. And so if you need help on that side of things, like Cassie said,, and we'll help you out. So I think that's it. Everybody have a great week, and we'll talk to y'all soon.

Josh 29:10
Thanks for tuning into today's show. We release new episodes every week. So make sure to subscribe.

Cassie 29:17
If you're ready to transform your relationship and you'd like to see if you're a fit to work with us, here's what I want you to do next: head over to and book an appointment to speak with our team. We'll get on the phone with you for about an hour and we'll get you crystal clear on three things: what's really not working in your relationships, what your dream relationships would look like and a step-by-step plan to close the gap and save your family even if nothing has worked before.

Josh 29:44
We talk with hundreds of non-monogamous folks like you every year and here's the truth building loving, thriving relationships-- that doesn't happen on its own. You need expert guidance to make that happen. And unfortunately when you are building relationships outside the box, that's impossible to find and we get it. But that's exactly what we do. We've helped clients all over the world save their families, get the passion back, and become best friends again.

Cassie 30:08
So if you want to see if we can help you do the same, head over to I'm Cassie.

Josh 30:16
And I'm Josh. Let's talk soon.