Poly Profile : Jonathan Walker
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Jonathan Walker is a personal development and relationship coach. This puts him in a position to help his clients overcome logistical steps towards concrete goals, and to help them navigate relationships. What makes him unique is that he is polyamorous, and deals with partnerships and relationships of all kinds. What on Earth must that be like?
We all have an image in our heads of couples’ coaching: a couple on the couch trying to establish goals for the two of them. Walker says that it really doesn’t change much when you throw a couple more people into the mix.
“Effective communication, conflict resolution, promoting your own self-interests, introspection – all of those things can benefit anybody, whether they’re in a relationship or not.” In his line of work, Walker has noticed that common relationship conflicts are largely universal.
Walker stresses the importance of coaching, and the differences between coaching and therapy; “People often have good ideas of how they’d like to fix their lives. The ideal scenario is to engage the person and draw those solutions from them.”
Okay, it doesn’t sound that different from therapy. However, Walker is not a medical professional – no medications and no psychoanalysis. He says that the strongest weapon in his arsenal is active listening. As he climbs toward higher levels of certification, he insists that the people he’s coaching already have the solutions, and they just need a push or a plan to get those solutions out.
While Walker describes his previous job as “mind-numbing”, he does admit that being in a face-to-face training position with physicians gave him the missing piece he ultimately needed to become the life coach he always wanted to be. That piece was empowering his physician trainees to troubleshoot situations themselves, rather than authoritatively telling them what to do. He brings this “guidance rather than dictation” philosophy to his coaching practice.
When it comes to relationship coaching, he admits that there are unique challenges to coaching monogamous people because of the confines they’ve put on their love life, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Walker started his work as a facilitator for the Houston Polyamorous Peer Discussion Group, where he sees and assesses many different relationships with many moving parts. So much so, that coaching in this context is starting to feel like second nature.
“Polyamory is unique in that there are more options available,” Walker points out. Options such as simply “finding another partner” when needs aren’t being met, or not losing one partner you’re committed to while juggling other relationships, are available exclusively in this non-exclusive lifestyle. Navigating these expanded options perhaps sounds much easier than it is in practice, but the sentiment is still the same, whether monogamous or polyamorous. Everyone wants healthy, happy, fulfilling love lives.
If I went to a life coach today and told them my goal was to write a novel, they’d probably give me some practical time management advice. Maybe they would advise that I get rid of a few of the six guys that a care deeply about and don’t want to part with. Walker wouldn’t make me choose. He, like other polyamorous people, has the philosophy that we really can have it all. There are a few sacrifices and growing pains along the way, but in the grand scheme of things we can have all of our needs fulfilled. Unfortunately, there are few resources available to us, and many don’t accommodate this lifestyle. Luckily, these days there is a rise in professionals like Walker willing to tackle issues unique to alternative lifestyles.
Walker describes himself as a natural nurturer, and loves helping people figure out what they are struggling with, and then helping them overcome their obstacles. Having worked with Walker, he is, in my opinion, a true saint, with the kind of patience to wade through uncharted coaching territory that few people can boast of having.
Britt Vasicek | @fullabritt | www.fullabritt.com
Writer, comedian, polyamorist & producer living in Houston, TX.