The Shame Game 2: Endshame

Shame in polyamory

In an ethical non-monogamous relationships or other nontraditional unions, shame can play out in a few different ways:

  • Specific shameful archetypes in our culture, such as the philanderer, the cuckold, the housewife stuck at home, the other woman, etc.
  • Dealing with shame directly stemming from parental relationships, family, coworkers, friends, partners, strangers on the internet, etc.
  • Differences between ourselves and our partner: different approaches to dating, to sex, differences in respective dating.
  • Shameful narratives tied to roles and goals:

Healthy and unhealthy shame

Obliterating shame completely should never be the goal; it’s too unrealistic for something that’s evolutionarily engrained. Instead, we should aim for healthy shame, which can manifest as:

  • The ability to be vulnerable.
  • Recognition of our own limitations.
  • Making amends or repairing.
  • Seeing the big picture.
  • Taking ownership and responsibility.


Recognizing shame and your own shame response can be critical to releasing its hold on you.

  1. Deploy countershaming phrases:
  • “It’s not my fault that this happened to me.”
  • “It’s totally natural and understandable to feel this way.”
  • “I learned an important lesson from that.”
  • “I’m doing the best I can to live my ethic/truth/etc.”
  • “I’m not alone in this struggle.”

We offer new ideas and advice for multiple forms of #love: everything from #conciousmonogamy to #ethical #Polyamory and radical #relationshipanarchy.