CoupleDumb: dumb advice for couples

Let me introduce you to a website called CoupleDumb. They claim to offer expert relationship advice, with therapeutic credentials and stuff. The credentials probably exist, but, having seen the advice they are providing and the way they provide it, I seriously doubt it’s in the field of relationship advice.

I was introduced to them thanks to @fearlessknits, who sometimes feeds me fury-fodder. CoupleDumb have written something remarkably stupid about polyamory, entitled “Polyamory- too much love?

Amanda Jones has written an amazing line-by-line deconstruction of the article, starting with the title alone:

As you can see, the piece begins with a clear statement of prejudice. The first two words are “Too much”. Tecnically we call this begging the question. Two words in and you’ve already decided polyamory isn’t valid. You’ll now go on to use your premise to support itself. In other words – express a prejudice. As I said onTwitter, ‘opinions without data are prejudices’.

I’d strongly recommend reading both CoupleDumb’s piece and Amanda’s amazing riposte. Ultimately, CoupleDumb argue that poly is “trendy”, poly people can’t possibly “give” enough to our partners, that long-distance relationships can’t work for those same reasons, polyamory is immature, that possessiveness is a healthy part of a relationship and poly folk are too quick to reject it and finally that hierarchies always emerge in poly relationships.

Those familiar with relationships–particularly, but not necessarily poly ones–will notice all of these points have something in common: they’re utter bollocks. There’s even more myths, misconceptions and prejudices throughout, which is why you should really read Amanda’s post for the full rundown.

Now, the thing is, CoupleDumb offer really, really bad relationship advice. I made it ten pages into their archives, and in between the egregious product placement, most of the problems they address could easily be solved by the answer “adopt poly principles”. Let’s have a look at a few of the issues CoupleDumb tackle very poorly.

Too much of an opinion

One of the biggest problems that couples face is having an impartial person support them. What usually occurs is that each person in a couple talks with friends and family who will usually support them in their irresponsibility. It is a rare occasion where you get a friend or family member tell you that you need to take responsibility unless, of course the friend/family member does not think highly of your interpersonal skills.

Poly people tend to do things differently. We’re honest. Like, really honest. We communicate well because we have to. We have the additional benefit of being plugged in to larger groups of people: partners, lovers, metamours and friends who are also poly, and also really, really honest. It’s useful, because along the way, someone will always point out to you when you’re being the dick. It’s not just about being honest with partners. It’s about being honest with everyone.

Get to boinking

When we wrote and said not to give up on sex, we really meant not to give up on passion. Don’t give up on lust because lust is part of love. If you do not have lust in your marriage then you have downgraded your love from consummate to compassionate. Now this is nice but it isn’t going to get a movie written about your undying love. This is the love that really good friends have. BFF. In Harry Met Sally, this is the part of the movie where she calls him crying and they talk a lot. Nice but not the true love that we all want at the end of the movie.

Yeah, poly folk tend not to go after the kind of love that’s at the end of a movie, because it’s kind of almost always portrayed as monogamous. Or, as CoupleDumb put it “true love”. Because any other form of love is untrue, according to them. Particularly if you’re not fucking (or buying jewellery, which makes the male partner in a heterosexual relationship feel “like a big man”, apparently). Unlike CoupleDumb, poly people accept the uniqueness of connections between unique people. Which sometimes involves heaps and heaps of sex, and sometimes it doesn’t, and either and anything in between is cool if everyone’s comfortable with it.

Robert Pattinson, this is why people cheat” (I have literally no idea why this is addressed to the bloke from Twilight. I googled for literally seconds and couldn’t find any evidence of him writing to CoupleDumb soliciting their terrible advice)

Yes, CoupleDumb always says that it takes two to tango but individual responsibility cannot be denied or lost in this conversation. Instead of having an affair, a person can approach their partner and tell them that they are unsatisfied. But, we don’t do that. When we should be talking we tend to hide and assume something will bring you together. If you identified that something is missing in a relationship it is your duty to inform your partner. It is what a responsible person does.

Infidelity has reached epidemic proportions due to our loose understanding of commitment and non-existent understanding of responsibility.  If you really want to affair proof your relationship, begin with understanding that your word is your bond. Anything outside of your commitment is not just an attack on your relationship but an annihilation of your integrity.

Again, poly people are honest. “We don’t do that” doesn’t apply to us. However, anything “outside” the commitment isn’t an “annihilation of our integrity”. It’s something that exists. We have relationships with many people at once. We’re upfront about it. Often, we strive to make sure our partners know each other–not know about each other. Far from annihilating anything, it enhances.

Sexless marriage

Now, there are times when the libido is compromised whether through illness, stress or medications. This does not mean that sex is off the table. The compromised partner can still provide sexual stimulation to their spouse and believing that you cannot perform because you do not want to is tantamount to saying that you do not care about your partner’s needs.

OH SWEET BABY FUCKING gjlkkjfse .kujujksf0krf;oiuijkf;kujso

*composes self*

No. Not wanting to have sex means you don’t have to have sex. It’s not about anyone else. It’s that you don’t want to have sex with that person at that time, and they must respect that.

If polyamory were a religion, chances are our bible would be “The Ethical Slut“, a “Poly 101″ text which explains poly principles very well. The Ethical Slut has huge chunks dedicated to consent, communication, and why you shouldn’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s quite big on what we now call enthusiastic consent. This tenet is really important in poly communities. We don’t take kindly to guilt trips as laid out by CoupleDumb. We prefer to have sex riddled with enthusiastic yeses. Enthusiastic consent is the only way to ensure great sex.

Anyway, given quite a lot of their advice regards just gritting your teeth and getting on with sex you don’t want to have because that’s what makes you have Disney Princess true love, you’d be forgiven to thinking that’s all there is to it. Nope. Unfortunately there’s also such a thing as too much sex.

Sexfull marriage. Too much of a good thing?

A sexfull marriage sounds great but you have to wonder what would happen if sex was not possible. What if you had to go on a business trip? What if the kids got sick? What if your partner hurts their back? Can you do something other than sex? Do you talk?

Yeah, so apparently if you’re having a lot of sex, you’re probably not doing much talking. I have absolutely no idea who these people are talking to, but generally it’s possible to do both. Poly people, as I’ve said numerous times in this post alone, manage to do both. Also, there’s that big support network I’ve been banging on about.

Maybe the CoupleDumb writers–a married couple themselves–have a marriage that works for them based on the principles they’ve outlined throughout their relationship advice. The thing is, throughout their project, they’ve been pushing their views on others, sticking to a very narrow, dogmatic view of how a relationship should work. And that doesn’t work for everyone. Hell, it doesn’t really work for many people at all, which is why the model they’re pushing results in high rates of cheating.

While very few will benefit from what CoupleDumb have to say, whether in a poly relationship or not, everyone benefits from the openness, consent and respect for individuality which make up poly principles.

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11 responses to “CoupleDumb: dumb advice for couples

  • Skyblaze

    Great Cthulu’s salty knickers, I’m monogamous and even to me the stupid is so glaring it is blinding me. Horrible advice, all of it. Gah.

    I do have to wonder, though, what kind of people do CoupleDumb have as their support network?
    Among my friends ALL of them are stringent in pointing out when someone has cocked up, or been a dick, or needs to pull their socks up. They are equally stringent about telling someone if they are being too hard on themselves. Real support means truthfullness and honesty and genuinely being helpful, not blindly agreeing with someone no matter their actions and words.

    If their experience of a support network is just blindly nodding pseudo-supportive yes-men, they need a different support network.

    • No Light

      This! DumbCouple just sound like self-obsessed twits.

      Also, as a monogamous person who does communicate with her partner, experiences and expresses love, lust, support, and every other type of bond with one woman, I’d like to tell DumbCouple that maturity, intelligence and compromise are far more important than bulldozing past consent, and ignoring your SO’s unspoken needs.

      Stavvers – I get that you’re defending poly against DumbCouple here, but the majority of the things you listed as “Things poly people do”are really “Things good partners do”. Communication, negotiation, enthusiastic consent, switching the relationship mode to fit the circumstances etc. are just good partnership skills.

      Likewise, there are poly types who don’t fulfill those qualities. The “Relationship broke, add more people” types, the “Let’s have an open marriage now that you’re busy with the kids” types etc.

      Mono or poly are perfect for everyone. I agree that monogamy is pushed too hard, but those of us who are happily monogamous aren’t always lying, or fooling ourselves, or just not aware of our options. I never thought I’d be a one-woman woman either, but eight years down the line, here I am.

      So yeah, poly is great for some people sometimes, same for monogamy. Some people switch in and out, but neither is inherently good or bad, better or worse, backward or more evolved. I hear enough of that from fellow gay people on how amazingly enlightened we are, how all straight people would be happier in same-sex relationships, how opposite-sex pairings are purely utilitarian and animalistic.

      Just… no. It is or it isn’t, it works or it doesn’t, you are or you aren’t.

      • badblood

        It is really fucking tempting to turn this into a discussion of ‘poly good vs poly bad’, but I can’t help feeling like the bigger issue here is what are the minimum standards of integrity and credibility you need to adhere to when providing relationship advice on the internets.

  • Will Rose

    The investment of utmost trust and faith in someone with your innermost feelings is a position of high regard, monogamy has the ability to heal both people involved through attentive and loving communication. I know this from experience.
    So-called ‘polys’ (makes me think of parrots) are little more than socially enabled fuck-buddies, never pushing past a friendly gloss, their love is affection at best and cannot reach the depths of romantic passion (not physical passion, another world). It’s a mentally immature result of believing that monogamous relationships always fail at stability.

    • stavvers

      Monogamy can work. It works for some, as I said, as long as there’s the attentive and loving communication that poly folk do.

      You’ve obviously never tried poly, because otherwise you’d understand the depth that comes from connections with many people. I feel sorry for you.

    • stavvers

      Monogamy can work. It works for some, as I said, as long as there’s the attentive and loving communication that poly folk do.

      You’ve obviously never tried poly, because otherwise you’d understand the depth that comes from connections with many people. I feel sorry for you.

    • Lorell

      That fine talk Will Rose but I a seen the video of you enjoy sex with three different beings on which is a duck and i illegal in UK to sex with a duck so who are you to talk??

    • shonkystagbeetle

      I am monogamous by nature but I am in total agreement with Stavvers’s characterisation of coupledumb’s advice (named by themselves in a brief moment of clarity, it woud seem) as shockingly biased and wrong on so many levels. I am impressed by the precision of her skewering (and Amanda Jones’s, that is a fine piece of writing too). I always read everything you write Stavvers, I am always impressed by your humour and clear thinking.

      I wouldn’t have commented on this occasion but for the malicious and prejudiced comments by the poster above, Will Rose; as I say I am monogamous, I know an open or poly relationship wouldn’t work for me but I also know that is as much to do with my insecurity as it is to do with anything positive in my makeup.

      Will’s one-off intemperate outburst reads like someone running up and hurling a bottle filled with piss through the window of a party and then running off and hiding, because somebody hurt his feelings once and he hasn’t got over it, and the people in that room look and sound a bit like those horrid people who played with his feelings.

      It’s a real shame that his experience of “attentive and loving communication” hasn’t sweetened his disposition a bit, he sounds like a miserable judgemental arse who desperately needs to get laid.

  • Amanda

    @Stavvers, Thank you for your kind credit for my rant and your eloquent and pertinent additions. *doffs cap*

    @Will – “It’s a mentally immature result of believing that monogamous relationships always fail at stability.”

    My dear, mentally immature is believing you can broad brush an entire population of people with your ill-informed prejudices.

    As you can see, I love a good debate but this ‘parrot’ has long since learned to distinguish between opinion and prejudice: You can change someone’s opinion with facts, time and experience – because opinions are rational. Prejudice is wholly irrational and based on an illogical circular argument that cannot, therefore, be broken by any amount of patient logic.

    There is, sadly, therefore no point engaging you in the discussion.

    • stavvers

      *doffs cap right back*

      I have this terrible compulsion to try and save people’s souls and hope they learn why they’re wrong. I should really pick up your approach!

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