Episode 82: Jason Weston: All The Truth, All The Time
Jason Weston leads the series of "Love, Intimacy and Sexuality" workshops offered by the Human Awareness Institute (as do I). His life and love history have given Jason insights into and personal experiences of a wide range of relationship "styles", including monogamy, polyamory, open relationship, and group marriage.
Join Jason and me as we talk about his relationship philosophy of "All The Truth, All The Time." In a wide ranging interview we talk about the meaning of love: love of self, love of partner, love of life, love of planet; the relationship between an empty life and a full garage; and so much more. And don't miss Jason's beautiful exercise to help you really give love and really take love in.
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Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy, I’m your host Chip August. On today’s show, I’m going to be interviewing Jason Weston. Jason is a friend of mine, he is a high facilitator leading workshops in love, intimacy, and sexuality all around the world. He has experienced in his own life pretty much every kind of relationship that a person can be in, from being single, to being in monogamous relationships, open relationships, group marriages, he’s led quite an interesting life. He has another interest in international healthcare where he does all kinds of non-profit work, and he actually, uh, I hope will talk about some of the ties he sees, from the personal to the political. From you know, working in individuals and helping them love, to maybe getting more love on the planet. He’s writing a book, it’s titled “Choosing Our Future”, it’s about love in action to initiate a global conversation about creating a humane and sustainable world. And with his partner Marcy, he offers relationship counselling. They work as a couple working with other couples. It’s quite an interesting approach to coaching and counselling. Welcome to the show, Jason Weston.
Jason Weston: Thanks Chip, great to be here. One of the things you just said is that Marcy and I work with couples, actually I like to say we work with people who are in a relationship and sometimes those people are couples. Sometimes they’re more than couples, and you know, there are so many different forms of relationship. And for me, the form isn’t the important thing, it’s really about the love that’s flowing between the people. And so in terms of my own life for example, when I’ve lived in a monogamous relationship, I’ve been totally loving that. When I’ve lived in an open relationship, I totally loved that. And what I know made it work, was the total integrity and truth that happened in those relationships. So, it wasn’t as if one person was going off and doing something and then not telling the partners, because I think that just makes a big mess. It’s really about being totally open, totally loving, totally communicating, and if feelings come up being present for those feelings, but never being in a place of “Oh, I better not say this because…” that’s when the real catastrophes happen in a relationship. And being in a group marriage, what was so beautiful, was that every person in the relationship was totally loving every other person in the relationship. And so there was a sense of “Oh, you’re going to go spend time with so-and-so, how beautiful.” Not taking anything from me, but every person actually contributing to every other person’s joy and wellbeing.
Chip August: Now, how many people were in this group?
Jason Weston: Twelve.
Chip August: So you were married to twelve people? I think about the amount of conversation and time it takes for me to maintain the relationship that I really want to have with my partner, and I cannot imagine having twelve times as much time, or having a very deep relationship if I didn’t have twelve times as much time, so how did that work?
Jason Weston: Communication, communication, communication. And it was often spending lots and lots of evenings together, spending time all of us together, each morning, and talking about what’s going on, both personally and between us, and who’s doing what with their time. And so communication, it you know, is the best lubrication in any relationship. And certainly as you add more people – and it does take more time, and in fact that’s one of the things I find so beautiful in monogamy, is it’s so simple. *laughs* And the amount of time, so for example right now in my relationship with Marcy, she and I are only with each other, and there’s a beautiful simplicity about that. And it takes so much less time for the relationship part of my life, freeing up a lot of time for the other things I’m interested in.
Chip August: I don’t actually even like the terms I have to admit. As I understand, the actual definition of monogamy means one mate for life. And I think most of us blow that in high school *laughs* you know, I think we’re pretty much past that point somewhere in high school or college. I don’t really like the idea of polygamy either, or even serial or whatever, you know, I just notice all the words seem to make something, seem to organize and categorize something which might be as unique an individual as each of the people in it.
Jason Weston: Well I think that’s exactly right, and one of the things I often hear people in the polyamory community talk about is polyamory, when that is in fact what some of them want, and then I hear other people using that term, but it sounds to me like what they want is to be polysexual. Not that one is right or the other is wrong, but if what you’re wanting to do is have several people that you play sexually with, and then one person who’s like your real lover that you’re in love with, that’s a whole different thing than having six different people or just three – two different people with whom you’re having a full committed relationship. And so one of the places I see people getting hurt, is when the expectations aren’t matching. And so one person thinks they’re getting into a deep love relationship, and the other person thinks that they’re kind of dallying in extramarital sexuality or extrarelationship sexuality, whatever the term is. And so the expectations are different, and so one person’s heart gets hurt because they went in much more deeply than the other person. So I think it’s really important in any relationship going in, to treat it as something like a gentle seedling that you’re nurturing and that you’re in communication about, and that you’re in this kind of very, very delicate place and communicating the fears, and communicating the joys, and everything about it, so that the other person really gets what’s going on with you and whether or not your energies are matching, and can also express their fears, so there’s just a way of being totally transparent. In my relationship with Marcy, we have an agreement to tell all the truth, all the time. And we do that, we live in that commitment all the time. And there are times when it feels like the silliest agreement I ever made in my life, you know, in those moments when I feel like “Ooh that’s gonna be a hard thing to share.” Or I’m kind of embarrassed or ashamed of something that I did, and yet, when I’m willing to go to her and say “You know, I’m feeling embarrassed,” Or “Can you-” You know, I’ll even start with “Will you sit with me for a minute?” You know I kind of need to set the space, so that when we sit together and have that communication, yeah, she might have some feelings about what it is I did, or said, and yet in that communication, more trust gets built, more openness gets built, and ultimately, there’s more love there for us, and so what I’ve learned is, even though all the truth all the time has a certain kind of risk to it, it also has an incredible possibility built into it.
Chip August: What’s the risk?
Jason Weston: The risk that I’m afraid is there, is that she’ll leave. The thing that I’m embarrassed about, the thing that I’m ashamed about, is so awful, that she won’t accept me. Now, intellectually, I know better. But my little kid in that moment, doesn’t know better at all. That frightened part of me that thinks, “Oh my god, I’ve did this really stupid thing.” And you know, it’s really hard in that moment to say “What, no, come on, rational brain.” And so I have to just bring myself to it, and trust that she loves me in the way that I love her, and I know, that no matter what she brought to me, I wouldn’t say “Wow, if you did that I just can’t be with you”. I’d sit and be with her in compassion for that thing that she brings to me, and I just trust that she’ll be in compassion with me in the same way.
Chip August: I’m sure there are people who are listening to this who are thinking, either, “Well, I don’t know if I actually do trust my partner that much.” Or often, “I don’t even know if I trust me that much.” Like you know, that’s a really nice ideal, but I know that there are people who believe that they are in committed marriages, and if their partner said, “Well, I have to tell you the truth, I had sex at work with so-and-so,” it is over. You know, I will never be able to repair that, so isn’t it better to just sort of not tell and move on?
Jason Weston: Great question Chip. Well I think goes back to an earlier state of trust because I can’t imagine, you know, I don’t think sexuality is something that just happens because I got excited. I think it’s something that we actually choose consciously. We know when that energy is starting to build, and we have a choice of whether we enter into it or not. And so for me, the notion of violating that trust with her is an impossibility. I might have a desire, I might even call her up and say “You know what, I’m noticing I’m having this desire, and I just want to check in with you, and talk with you about this.” Just you know, being in communication again. But I feel like to enter into a sexual relationship when I have an agreement not to, is very, very distractive. Now if I did do that, I would take it back to her, because I know – you know, communication is like a ladder, and each time that one person communicates truthfully, it builds another step in the relationship. And when some of the rungs are missing, the ladder doesn’t work. And so to be able to be – I mean, what is a relationship besides communication? And so if the communication isn’t there, if we’re not in truth with each other, we’re in a lie. And the lie that the relationship breaks apart. And so I mean, I guess for the person who has done that transgression, been sexual with a person outside the relationship, when that wasn’t part of their agreements, that’s a very tough situation, and then yeah, you do risk the person going away. But if you don’t tell the truth, in some way you’re taking yourself away, and that’s going to be a kind of landmine in the relationship. In my experiences, usually those truths come out; either because finally the guilt becomes too much and the person admits it, or because the person finds out some other way. I think it’s unusual that somebody keeps that secret for a really long time.
Chip August: Well here we are in nice juicy controversial stuff, ha. We’re going to pause for a moment and take a break, I want to give an opportunity for my listeners to support our sponsors, and listeners I just want to remind you the sponsors are supporting me. There’s some really good deals if you’ll actually listen to these ads, and also check out the information that’s on the Personal Life Media website, personallifemedia.com, look for Sex, Love, and Intimacy, you’ll find that there’s all kinds of good deals, you can save money on audio books, you can save money on jewellery, you can on sex toys, there’s all kinds of things. So please, do listen to the ads, and go to the episode pages, and order stuff, and help support the show, and help support the sponsors. You’re listening to Sex, Love, and Intimacy, I’m your host, Chip August. We’ll be right back.
Chip August: Welcome back to Sex, Love, and Intimacy, I’m your host Chip August. I’m talking to Jason Weston, who is a facilitator for the Human Awareness Institute, and also a relationship coach, and a really great guy, and we were talking about sort of some of the complexity of lies and truth, and open relationship, and committed relationship. I want to talk for a little bit about love itself, because I – the word gets thrown around a lot, and man, talk about a word that has so many applications, that it’s almost impossible to know what we mean. I can love my dog, I can love pizza, I can love my car, I can love my partner, I can love my children, I can love the weather here in California, and it’s kind of weird you know, I’m using the same word to describe this really wide range of feelings, you know, I don’t think I feel the same way about pizza that I do about my partner, I don’t feel the same – I use the word love to describe loving the weather, and that’s not what I mean when I talk about loving my friends, so, I think you just said a whole lot about you know, love, and truth and stuff, how do you know it’s love? What is love? What does that word even mean to you?
Jason Weston: For me, love is really about where I’m coming from. It’s about having my heart open and being connected to another human being. At least when I’m talking about it in that human being sort of way. And for me, when I – both you and I were good friends of Stan Dale, who started the Human Awareness Institute, and I was so connected to his big vision of love. That was yes, of course it’s being loving with a human being you’re sitting with, and being loving with the people who you need. And Stan had a way, you know, we’d be out in a restaurant somewhere, and he would ask the name of the person who was serving us, and ask them about their life, and there was some way that we would take an interest in every human being he encountered. And it opened up something in me, about love in a bigger level. That love doesn’t have to be like this constricted thing that only happens between me and my partner and then anything else isn’t love, that’s something else, you know. There is actually a bigger way of loving in the world. And it’s very much like the kind of love that a Martin Luther King or a Mahatma Ghandi sees that every human being is lovable. And that it’s possible to choose to love the world, choose to love every human being I come in contact with. I might not always like their behaviour, I might not like their viewpoints about things, but the essence of the person is always lovable. And I learned that from Stan, and it’s had a profound impact on me, you know the funny thing is, you think that the other people are the recipients of the love, or “the winners” but actually it’s me, it’s like I get to live my life and love, and feel fulfilled in that kind of way. And so for me, what I’m talking about, I mean, sure, I sometimes say I love the weather too, but when I’m talking about the love that we’re talking about at higher, the kind of love that I have in my relationship with Marcy, even though that love feels very directed, it’s part of a much bigger thing in me. A much bigger opening in me, and a much bigger commitment. And for me, that translates into the work that I do in the world, because for me it’s totally unacceptable that we have millions, actually more than a billion in squalor around this planet, when there’s so many beautiful opportunities for life and beauty and connection, and I think it doesn’t need to be this way, you know? I mean, I don’t have a big commitment to them, everybody has a rich life in terms of lots of material possessions, I’ve spent a lot of time in poor countries, and with people in difficult circumstances, and one of the things that I’ve learned, is that once you get beyond that, you know, having enough to eat, and warmth, and shelter, once you have those basic needs met, there’s actually not a correlation between income and happiness. I’ve been with some extremely wealthy people, who are some of the most unhappy people I’ve ever known. Of course I’ve been with some very wealthy happy people too, it’s not that the wealth makes unhappiness, there just isn’t a correlation. And I’ve been in villages with some of the happiest children I’ve ever seen, even though they own no more clothing than what’s on their backs, even though they live in a little hut, there’s some way of being joyous in the world, and playful, and for me, it’s the love, the universal love that carries all of that and holds all of that. And so one of my commitments in the world is try to make a world in which everybody has their basic needs met. And at the same time, in which nature can thrive, so that we’re not undermining the very sustenance that mother earth – that holds everything. And so that’s kind of how I hold love, is that big vision of “How do we make this all work?” so that we’re taking care of every human being, and that we can live for many, many generations into the future. And so that’s kind of how I hold that love.
Chip August: And if I understand you’re direction, it’s the denial of – it’s sort of like, the most loving thing we can do is to not be in denial about the problems that we’re actually looking at, which seems to be – see most Americans seem to want to sort of, you know, look around at our own neighbours “Well okay, I’ve got enough.” And not really look at what’s happening in the world. And I think what you’re addressing here is sort of wanting to start a conversation.
Jason Weston: Well that’s exactly right Chip. I feel like you know, there’s so much wealth in our communities, and in our nation, and we’re one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, and there are a number of other wealthy nations you know, mostly Europe, and Japan, and so you think well, could everybody live with this much stuff? Is there enough resource? I don’t actually know that there is, but what I know is that if we could learn to live at a level in which we have great fulfilment, but that fulfilment isn’t based on more material stuff, then I think there is enough, you know, somebody once said that there’s enough for everyone need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. And I think there’s some real truth in that. And so how do we find enough equity in the world? So that – I mean if we claim to be living lives of love, if we claim that love is in our hearts, how do we turn our backs on the people who are really grovelling for anything? Really, I don’t want to use the word grovelling, but really don’t have any resource at all, who you know, have to carry water for miles, just in order to have something to drink with them, and to cook with, and who don’t have basic sanitation, and basic education, and healthcare, yeah, the basics, the basics. And so, that’s how I see it, that there’s a way that we could live in the world, and so that’s why I want to have this conversation, I want to have a conversation in which everybody has an opportunity to participate, in envisioning a world that might look very, very different than the way it’s structured right now, or it may look very similar. I don’t know, I don’t pretend to have the answer to that, but what I know is that if we all participate in the conversation together, that we can come up with a world that works much better than the one we’re in, in terms of having everybody’s needs met, and I have always had this notion, that there is some possibility for human beings that we can’t even begin to see, as long as we have this way – it’s almost like we have to turn off a part of ourselves. There’s a part of ourselves that has to like turn a blind eye, or close down emotionally, to you know thirty-thousand kids dying of preventable causes everyday. You can’t have a correct emotional response to that, because it’s too horrific. So there’s part of our emotional selves that just, we just kind of wall it off and close down. What would happen if we didn’t need to do that? What would happen if we just knew that we lived in a world of abundance, where everything was working well? I think there would be this whole other possibility for humankind, that we can’t even begin to see from here. You know today, it happens to be that we’re doing this interview on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. And as I was driving here, I realized that there was this huge relief, that was happening in my body after I saw George W. Bush’s helicopter depart from the White House. Like I actually started to relax in a way, I hadn’t even realized I had been holding myself in. And so I think there’s something – an order of magnitude greater than that, that can happen through humanity if we can find the love in our hearts, to create a world that actually works. If we can find the love in our hearts, to help figure out how to solve the Middle East problem, if we can the way to you know, somebody once said that war is basically a lack of imagination. That you know, not enough creative energy went into solving the problem. Not enough people’s needs got met. How do we reframe ourselves to say, “No, we’re not going to do violence to anyone because we hold them as brothers and sisters.” Rather, we’re going to find a way, as difficult as it might be, to love each other, and I think one of the great examples of that is what’s happened in Rwanda, with people being willing to go into these truth commissions and some of them are very, very, very difficult. But there’s some humane aspect of that, of being able to open one’s self to whatever the truth is, and there have been incredible cases of forgiveness that have come out of these. And so, I think that’s one of the real keys to all of this, is how do we find forgiveness in our hearts, for when we do feel wronged. So that we don’t have to retaliate in some way.
Chip August: And on that note, let’s take another break. Listeners, if you like what you hear on the show and you think other people in your life might also like it, please, please, please send a link. Please send the link, telling them how they can listen to this show, it’s how our show grows, my show has been growing nicely, thank you, I really want to appreciate all your support, and I’d like to reach even more people. So, one of the things that we do do, is we provide transcripts, of every show, so if you go on the – almost every show. If you go on my episode pages, Sex, Love, and Intimacy at the personallifemedia.com site, you’ll see that for each episode, for almost each episode, we have transcripts. So if there’s something Jason just said that you notice you want to sort of cut and paste and send it to everybody you know, or put it up on Facebook, why you can do that, and it’s a great way to introduce people to the work we’re doing here, and a great way for my show to grow, and a great way for good ideas to spread through the population. As I said, we’re going to take a break, when we come back, we’re going to hear more about Jason Weston and his ideas, and also, an exercise for you to try at home. We’ll be back in a moment.
Chip August: We’re back, you’re listening to Sex, Love, and Intimacy. I’m your host, Chip August, I’m talking to Jason Weston, a facilitator, and just an interesting guy. We’ve been talking about love, and we’ve been talking about saving the world, and when we went to break, we were talking a little bit about sort of the haves and have-nots in the world, and about our ability to perhaps envision, or at least dialogue about a future where we don’t have to ignore how many people die of starvation, and how many children die of preventable disease, and I was thinking on the break when you were talking about this, sort of the relationship between an empty life and a full garage. You know.
Jason Weston: Yeah, I think there’s a real relationship, you know, between the notion that I’m feeling empty so I’m going to go shopping. It’s amazing to me that shopping is even a pastime, you know. As human beings evolve, there was always hunting and gathering to fill our basic needs, but I don’t think after people have enough for maybe tomorrow, that they kept going and doing that, because it was a fun thing to do, you know. I think there are so many other ways of filling ourselves. Ways of being connected to each other. Ways of filling our hearts so that we’re so full, that we only go hunting and gathering when we actually need the things we’re hunting and gathering. And you know, as I was saying a little earlier, I’ve been in places where people have virtually nothing, but they have great, great joy. And that’s the thing you know, I don’t want to reduce anyone to having nothing, but I certainly want us to find that joy, and I think when our hearts are really full, we’ll start just sort of automatically consuming a lot less, which will be great for the planet.
Chip August: Now I’ve know you for quite some time, and one of the things that I’ve noticed is filling your heart lately is in fact your relationship with your sweetie. I have watched this develop and grow, and we talked about the all truth all the time. If you had advice for somebody who was like starting out a – doesn’t have to be a couple, it could be a triple, or a quadruple, or a whatever size relationship, but they’re kind of embarking on a relationship, what would the advice be?
Jason Weston: Find out what your partner wants, and give it to them. You know, that’s so simple, one of the things that I see so often, is that you know, one of the – people kind of miss each other in terms of what the other person wants. And so maybe I’m a person who feels loved when somebody strokes my hair, and tells me that they love me, and my partner is a person who feels loved when somebody cooks dinner for her. And so she spends a lot of time cooking dinner for me, and I spend a lot of time stroking her hair, and telling her that I love her, and both of us somehow miss the message that the other one is trying to convey, which is “I love you.” And there’s a wonderful little exercise that I call “Love Strategies”, which is to ask the other person, when was a time that you felt really loved? Just ask your partner or your partners, when was a time you felt really loved? And maybe get two or three of those. And find out, “Oh, that’s the thing!” And be really specific, you know, well it was you know, when my other partner; or my friend; or my father; or mother used to stroke me in this particular way, or they used to hold me in this particular way, they used to tell me this particular thing, and then that kind of becomes something deeply rooted in us, deeply seeded about how it is we feel loved. And so if you can find out what that is, and then begin to do that for your partner, instead of the thing that feels good to you, and the let them know what yours is. And so then you can actually communicate the message that you’re trying to get across. And both people feel filled up and more loved. It’s so simple.
Chip August: Well there you go listeners, our exercise for the episode has snuck up on us. Here’s the exercise for you to do at home, is find out what your partner wants, and give it to them. Or your partners want, and give it to them! I like Jason’s idea, to literally to actually ask them to talk about times they felt loved, and see what you can learn about what was said, and what they saw, and what they felt, and see if you can learn to actually give that to your partner. Jason, you’ve been a great guest, if people wanted to get in touch with you for coaching for instance, how would they find you?
Jason Weston: The easiest way to find me is by email. I’m email@example.com , that’s J-A-S-O-N at H-A-I dot O-RG.
Chip August: Thank you very, very, very much, and I want to appreciate you being on the show here, you’ve been a great guest, and I feel like you’ve given people a lot of really good information.
Jason Weston: Thanks so much Chip, really great to be here with you.
Chip August: And listeners, I want to thank you for taking some time to listen to the show, as you know, we’re always interested in your feedback, so if you want to send me an email, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org that’s all one word, personallifemedia dot com. You can leave a voicemail message at the Personal Life Media main switchboard, which is 2063505333. If you decide to leave a voicemail, please make sure you leave your name, leave the name of the show, leave the name of the guest, so we know what episode you were talking about, and a way for us to get back in touch with you. Either a phone number, or an email in case we decide to use your recorded message as part of our promotional materials. So thanks. Also, I want you to know that you can help me – we’re doing a survey right now, I’m trying to figure out who my listeners are, not you personally, it’s an anonymous survey, but I want to understand you better, and also want to be able to give sponsors a little more confidence about who they’re selling their advertising to, so if you would go to survey.personallifemedia.com, or go on the Personal Life Media home page, and there’s a little place where you can click on this survey, it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s confidential, and it really helps me out a lot. So I appreciate you doing that. This brings us to the end of another episode of Sex, Love, and Intimacy, I’m your host Chip August, and I hope you will join us again next time.
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