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|Amber Brooks • 1/24/18|
The Short Version: When it comes to open relationships, polyamory, non-monogamy, and overall relationship freedom, Vancouver-based Mel Mariposa isn’t afraid to break the mold and throw out the blueprint with her company Radical Relationship Coaching. Mel believes we all have a right to explore and subvert love norms and do what makes us happy. With dynamic coaching packages, workshops, and a popular blog, Mel is effectively broadcasting her message that everyone has the ability to craft the unique, healthy relationships they desire.
In 2009, Mel Mariposa found herself in a place of deep distress. She had experienced a divorce, suffered two miscarriages, and was struggling with depression. Through her pain, she began to dive deep into self-exploration and found a freedom she never knew was possible. She realized she desired more than one partner, and she no longer wanted to remain bound to the societal mythology that told her she had to find “The One” and live someone else’s fairy tale. So she set off to find her own.
“I’ve had first-hand experience of a wide spectrum of relationships,” she said. “Formerly monogamous, I came to explore non-monogamy as I sought out a more authentic way of living. I was tired of living by a default set of expectations for how my life was expected to unfold.”
She began to record her ideas on a blog she called Polysingleish and found a captive audience.
“I started writing a blog about my own journey in polyamory about six years ago and very quickly people started coming to me with their questions and looking for advice,” she said. “So I decided to do more training and actually start giving this advice because, apparently, I have a perspective people are looking for.”
True to her go-getter demeanor and positive outlook, she did just that. Mel began to coach others on how to realize the relationships they truly want to be in, whether it involves polyamory or monogamy. Thus, Radical Relationship Coaching was born.
Years later, Mel’s clients can be found on nearly every continent. Those who turn to her for help have come to rely on her caring nature, humor, and desire to see them live authentic lives. This includes loving whoever they want, however they want from a place of self-respect. British Columbia resident Erin reached out to Mel for support with her relationships, and she’s never looked back.
“Mel has been a tremendous source of inspiration for my relationships and my community at large,” Erin wrote in a testimonial. “She presents with a combination of professionalism, knowledge, and open-minded curiosity that makes her safe and approachable. My profound journey through love and relationships has definitely been helped through the time I have spent with Mel.”
It’s not uncommon to see Mel meeting with clients who prefer monogamous, polyamorous, or even undefined relationships. Mel enjoys coaching clients from wherever they are in their journey to self-discovery and true happiness. As a result, her business attracts peole from all over the world thanks to video conferencing and a robust online presence. She finds it fascinating that there are slightly different stories about how relationships are supposed to be in other parts of the world. This has made for an interesting dynamic that has really added to her coaching practice.
“I always ask people what their goals are before they book with me,” Mel said. “The difference between coaching and counseling is that coaching is a lot more practical-skills oriented. So, if you have a clear vision of where you want to get to, then we can work backward to find out why we’re not there yet and how we can get there.”
Mel’s coaching packages include personal coaching, group sessions, and executive coaching.
Individual coaching can be a one-off session to troubleshoot a specific issue or learn some particular relationship skills related to dating, opening up, and conflict resolution. With her deep listening skills, Mel supports couples as they discover new ways to embrace their relationship and explore a path toward lasting transformation and growth.
Mel charges $125 for the initial 75-minute session. Follow-up sessions are $75 for 45 minutes. Her individual coaching package costs $225 and comes with three sessions — one 75-minute session and two 45-minute sessions.
Many of Mel’s clients also benefit from group coaching where she helps them develop communication, intimacy-building, and conflict-resolution skills from a space of mutual need and desire. She told us the complexity in group coaching is what really surprises people and encourages them to seek out her guidance. Relationships aren’t always between two people at a time; relationships can exist within groups as well.
But conflicts can happen when communication breaks down in groups just as in one-on-one relationships, Mel said. As a result, she said she finds exploring the group dynamic very interesting and a useful exercise for clients to learn how to talk to one another to sort through problems.
“Between person A and person B, it can feel easy because it’s just that one relationship,” she said. “But add Person C in there, and all of these things start to happen. Person A might be afraid of hurting Person B’s feelings or letting Person C down. Person B might get jealous of Person C. So there are all of these things that come into the mix. Some people have a rough go of it without some support or resources for how to do this.”
Group coaching packages include one 45-minute initial consultation, which gives Mel an opportunity to ascertain the group dynamic, one 90-minute session for the whole group, and additional private coaching sessions of 45 minutes for each group member. The package runs $250, plus $50 for each individual session.
As a relationship coach, Mel considers herself to be quite engaging, down-to-earth, and direct. These qualities help her connect with all of the clients she meets during her in-person workshops. Here, she covers a plethora of revealing relationship topics, including the Monogamy Detox, Honest Non-Monogamy, Courageous Conversations, Diving Into Desire, and The Healing of Intimacy.
The Honest Non-Monogamy course is often considered the gateway to Mel’s philosophy because it helps attendees open their minds and explore relational topics with which they may be unfamiliar. She defines honest non-monogamy as the freedom to love who you want, when you want, in whatever way feels authentic between adults and is mutually consensual.
Mel realizes most clients go through what she calls a Monogamy Hangover, the struggle to break free from the chains of monogamy. Her Monogamy Detox is designed for those who have felt burned by the fairy-tale mythology of one true love and want to get out of patterns of codependency. Clients who benefit from this six-week course have recently experienced a breakup, separation, divorce, the death of a partner, or have survived an abusive relationship. For $275, the Monogamy Detox includes live weekly evening calls for six weeks, video playback available the following day, six weeks’ worth of assignments, reading materials, as well as a lifetime membership in an online community to connect with peers.
“In order for some clients to reach their full potential in relationships, we need to detox from the mythology that got us into this hangover in the first place,” Mel said. “And the good news is there’s a detox plan you can do!”
Catherine H. of British Columbia immediately noticed her transformation after participating in one of Mel’s workshops.
“I went as one person and came home feeling like a different person completely,” Catherine said. “My emotions are running so incredibly high, and this is just the beginning.”
Mel credits her blog, Polysingleish, with jump-starting her career as a relationship coach.
“For a while, I struggled to describe my attitude and approach to polyamory,” she said. “I didn’t mesh with the couple-centric, polynormative majority that I kept encountering again and again. I decided to find my own approach to ethical non-monogamy. At last, I had the eureka moment I had been yearning for, and this blog was born.”
It didn’t take long for Mel’s blog to catch on with the public. Thanks to her quick wit, humor, and ability to provide answers to somewhat complicated matters, people began to see Mel as a resource for an expanded view of relationships. They sought her out and she provided them with the tools to explore possibilities that emerge when you’re courageous enough to look deeper.
“I’m pretty down to earth and direct with people,” she said. “I have a lot of compassion and I have counseling skills that I bring into my work. I like to lead with curiosity about people. I don’t want to make assumptions about why they are the way they are. As far as I’m concerned, my client is in charge of their own journey. I tell people to take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.”
Mel said her blog has even helped her expand her view of Polyamory and how she now sees herself in relationships.
“When I started this blog, I definitely identified more as “Singleish,” she said. “Today, however, I enjoy some long-term relationships with varying levels of non-escalator type commitments, and would describe myself as a Solo Poly Relationship Anarchist.”
Mel’s blog also includes dating tips and a how-to guide for writing online profiles.
Mel’s radical vision is due, in part, to her dynamic personal experiences and upbringing. The grandchild of refugees, Mel has lived on three continents.
She has professional experience in theater, education, special needs, management, holistic wellness, psychology, counseling, meditation, and yoga —
all of which she applies to her coaching and mentoring. She holds a certification in Counselling for Intimacy and Relationships from the Vancouver College of Counsellor Training, is trained in Cascadia Holistic Peer Counselling, and is an experienced ZEGG Forum facilitator.
Today, Mel is focused on the big picture and exploring new avenues she can use to help her clients find a sense of peace and security in this ever-changing world.
“We’re challenging the social norms,” she said. “That’s scary for people because we rely on these things — it’s part of the foundation through which we understand our world. What I hope that I bring is a way that people can feel empowered to create their own template that feels good and healthy for them and for all of the people in their lives. I would like to think that if everyone could learn those kinds of skills then we might have better tools for creating a more peaceful and productive world.”