Sex Educator Profiles: Pepper Mint
What led you to become an educator
Mostly I teach about how to handle non-monogamous relationships.
I personally had a disastrous non-monogamous dating career during high school and college, and even for a couple years afterward. I knew enough to be sure that I wanted nothing to do with monogamy, but not enough to understand that I should find people like me, and that I would have to overcome an amazing amount of cultural conditioning in order to actually hold down relationships with more than one person.
So, I now teach about non-monogamy (mostly polyamory, but also other sorts) in order to save others from going through the trial-and-error process that I had to suffer through. Before teaching classes, I was already handing out advice left and right to my friends, so it was a small step to moving that into a workshop setting.
How did you start giving polyamory advice?
I have a funny saying about the polyamory community: “if you’ve been successfully polyamorous for more than two years, you should be teaching a class”. I say it jokingly, but underneath the joke is the reality that there is a real thirst for practical information on polyamory and not many people who are interested in giving it out. Once I started living poly the way I wanted to, I soon found myself handing out advice on internet forums of various sorts to people who were new to it, scared, and often flailing. From the internet forums I started into in-person advice, and still today hold little informal poly coaching sessions for my friends.
What do you love about giving nonmonogamy advice?
I love how easy it is, honestly. Even if we just stick to the basics of practical non-monogamy, there is a lot of stuff there that people have not considered, even those who are coming to a class. So people tend to get a lot out of our presentations, even though we are not super-advanced lecturers or anything. People walk away happier and relieved, and it is really easy to do that for them, which is really gratifying.
What is your most common question?
As our subject is non-monogamy, the most common question is something along the lines of “is that even possible?” In fact, the most valuable thing my partner and I do while presenting is to just sit up in front of the class and act normal while making it clear that we are successful at polyamory. This just blows people’s minds, which is a little silly if you think about it.
The second most common question is some variant on “are these crazy feelings normal?” A lot of people underestimate how indoctrinated we are into monogamy, and so are very surprised by the strong emotions (jealousy and others) that beset them when they try non-monogamy. So, we spend a lot of time in class helping people accept their strong emotions and figure out how to deal with them.
What is the most difficult or hard-to-answer question you’ve ever received?
It was not a question so much as a situation. We have had couples show up in our workshops where it is clear that one partner really wanted to open the relationship, and the other did not. This is a recipe for disaster, and in most cases these couples break-up. We do not sugarcoat things in our non-monogamy workshop, so often these couples come to the full realization of what trouble they are in while sitting right there in class. We have had a handful of people cry a lot and leave, but so far no in-class break-ups.
What projects are you working on now?
In addition to the ongoing Practical Non-monogamy course that I teach with my partner, I am putting together a new course specifically aimed at men, and then specifically at men attracted to women. Straight guys (and to a lesser extent, bi guys) come to non-monogamous communities and scenes with a lot of baggage: feelings of entitlement, misconceptions about how non-monogamy works and about women, and so on. Which ironically often means that mixed-gender scenes end up with women being more active than men. This new class will hopefully help guys get past some of these attitudes and to a place where they can get into the non-monogamy or play that they are looking for.
Where can people find out more about you?