Meet Our Teachers! Marcia Baczynski


Many sex and relationship teachers and coaches are interested in helping those who seek to open their relationships, cope with jealousy, and/or maximize satisfaction in a non-standard partnership structure––but not all are as savvy and winning as Marcia, whose resume includes helping to create Cuddle Parties as well as lots of teaching at Good Vibrations and all over the place besides. I was excited to ask her thoughts on some burning issues, all of which relate in some way to the class she’s teaching at our Polk Street store tomorrow, Opening Up Without Screwing Up (details––and ticket link–below!).


CQ: Why do you think there’s so much talk of open relationships now? Is this relationship style so much more common than it used to be?

Marcia: Monogamy still works for plenty of people. But for many others, there have been so many cultural shifts in the last 30 to 50 years that a traditional monogamous relationship just doesn’t make sense anymore. Gay people have come out of the closet, women have more economic mobility, we have a deeper understanding of the variability of human sexuality — all these things and more contribute to a wider range of relationship options being necessary. Open relationships are a response to these changes.

Of course, there have been non-monogamous relationships in all cultures, throughout time. I think we’re seeing more talk about open relationship is due to two things: 1) the growing recognition of women’s sexual autonomy and desire and 2) the ability to talk to other people who are doing open relationships online. Book sales, the number of media articles, and the ease of finding others who are interested in ethical non-monogamy certainly suggest that open relationships are becoming more common.

CQ: What makes “monogamish” different from the other kinds of open relationships? Is it easier to do this than to be polyamorous, do you think?

Marcia: “Monogamish” is a term coined by Dan Savage, and it refers to relationships that are mostly monogamous, but occasionally there’s a threesome or a fling and that’s fine within the agreements of the relationship. I think monogamish relationships are much more common and certainly easier than polyamorous relationships. Some people (like myself!) really enjoy spending their time connecting with others and focusing on their relationships, and we might be more inclined toward multiple full relationships. But lots of people don’t have time, interest or inclination to invest in multiple relationships, nor do they want to go to swinger parties. “Monogamish” is one of the many ways individuals and couples can do ethical non-monogamy.

CQ: What’s the single most common mistake you see in your teaching and coaching practice around this issue?

Marcia: People don’t take the time or have the tools to get really clear about what they mean by “opening up” and they don’t have a game plan for how to make sure that everyone involved feels respected and cared for. Sexuality and monogamy operate in the shadows for most people, and most of us have never had an honest, safe environment where we can talk about what we want and need without feeling shamed for it. So it’s really hard to be precise about what you want, because most of the time, we’re simultaneously unclear and fearful about what the reaction will be. It’s hard to say “I want to fuck someone in addition to you” or to say “I have a boundary around this thing” because we all fear the loss of connection that might happen if your partner isn’t okay with that.

In my practice and classes, I’m really invested in creating an environment where no topic is off-limits and it’s safe to talk about things without it meaning that you’re necessarily going to go out and do it right away. That space to explore is so vital to creating safety, especially when something is new.

For more about Marcia Baczynski’s work, you can visit her website.

AND! Special #SummerOfConsent shout-out to Marcia for this blog post: short, sweet, and inspirational!

Marcia will also be teaching her special class for those going to the Burn at the Center for Sex & Culture next month(8/17): info and tix here.


Opening Up Without Screwing Up
Thursday, July 31st, 2014
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
$20 in advance, $25 at the door, as space allows

Whether you say polyamory, open marriage, swinging or “monogamish,” it seems like everyone’s talking about open relationships these days. But maintaining a healthy, happy, loving relationship is hard enough… how do you do it with more than one person? Nationally recognized open relationship coach Marcia Baczynski has seen it all. Learn to manage jealousy, how to talk about opening up, much more!


Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at

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