Open Relationship – Get Ready, Get Set, Go For It!
I’m excited to announce that I did an interview last Monday with The New York Times on open relationship trends! (I will post the article once it is published.)
I am beyond excited to be one of the millennial pioneers revolutionizing how we embrace all types of sexual and romantic relationships!
As many of you may know from my article on polyamory, times are changing and monogamy is not the only style of relationship that couples are considering.
According to a study in 2017, it is estimated that about one in five people have been in a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point in their life. That is over 20% of Americans!
With our changing times, I expect that number to keep rising.
SCORE CARD. We are only using A’s for results!
- If you scored 0 A’s – Go out and find a willing partner! Maybe your partner isn’t ready, then you have a choice to make on whether or not you wait for them to get ready or not.
- If you scored 1 – 3 A’s – a few tweaks is all you need. You may not realize it, but you may have a compulsive avoidance, anxious attachment, or you may be wanting to use an open relationship as a way to get “high” to take away the pain of something else.
- If you scored 4 or more on the left side A column, I do NOT suggest you go into an open relationship at this time. These statements can OFTEN be signs that you are not emotionally intelligent enough to understand your own needs. You may not know how to do your own inner work yet. You may get incredibly confused, because you are projecting fantasies onto others.
Common Pitfalls in Open Relationships
- Lack of Honesty and Trust Issues
- Inability to See One’s Addiction / Trauma
- Communication Issues
- Jealousy, Envy, and Insecurity
- Family Conflicts (who do you do holidays with?)
- Overcoming Social Norms (what happens when you only get a plus 1 to the wedding?)
- Limitation of Partners (you can’t find anyone and your partner already has someone)
- And More!
Healthy relationships take TWO or MORE people who have integrity, honesty, creativity, willingness to be vulnerable, and ability to engage in their own Inner Growth and Non-Defensiveness. Sometimes a Sex Coach is needed to understand these changes and address them in the right direction.
Before you transition from monogamy to polyamory in a current partnership, make sure you understand the story each of you will have about a shared meaning when it comes to sex and love with other people.
Sometimes we project shame from our sexual past into our sexual future with our monogamous partners. For example, you may become annoyed that your partner is frequently insecure about their body (their penis is too small or their vulva is ugly). This is usually an indicator that you have some blind spots to work on prior to adding another person to your sexual and loving relationship.
You cannot directly fix your partner’s insecurity.
You can only change the system of how you respond to the stimulus of your “partner’s insecurity.”
So if you are capable of fixing your own issues within your partner’s problems, then you may be ready for an open relationship!
Below are strategic considerations for those participating in an open relationship:
Time is a Limited Resource
Love is not limited. Time is though. No matter what, every single one of us only has 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In practice, your time allocation could be that you make four hours for each partner per week without phones. You could also attend an event with one partner one week, and then another event with another partner the week after.
You have to understand safe sex due to the sexual-health considerations of open relationships.
You are ready for an open relationship from a sexual education standpoint if you have:
- The ability to fully discuss sexually transmitted infection status (for example: herpes type 1 vs type 2, hpv, PReP status)
- Prepared to discuss in detail the act of Fluid Bonding (defined as a safer-sex strategy in which committed partners agree to have unprotected sex only with one another and to use barriers and/or stick to low-risk sexual behaviors with all of their other partners).
- The grace of how to discuss what is sexually sacred, and what are the sexual boundaries with both your new partner and your metamour (your partner’s partner). Because NOTHING is private anymore when you are polyamorous. You are part of one big happy family!
- Understanding of the term “New Relationship Energy (NRE)”.It is the intense feelings that may accompany the “honeymoon” phase of a new connection. This is sometimes also called “limerence.” You must check yourself while falling in love with the new person and remind yourself “this is not real, these are hormones.” Phenylethylamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin are the same hormones that you also find in serial monogamists or those practicing tantra.
Implement email instead of texting when it comes to communicating important topics. It is too much to receive alarming text messages in the middle of a thread of memes. Here is an example email:
The goal is that you learn how to ask consent while stating your needs.
Once you get to that conversation, set a timer for 30 minutes! Make sure to disengage electronics! Do not discuss it ahead of time. Show them that you can practice patience.
If you cannot wait 5-7 days to discuss your needs, you are not ready to be in an open relationship. In the variety of open relationships that I have tried, I find that it is mostly about waiting for someone. I had to remain centered while listening to things that I didn’t want to hear without getting triggered or responding. Then, I had to reflect back what I thought I heard to the best of my ability. If I was told “that wasn’t it” then I had to start over.
It takes a ton of patience and willingness to communicate effectively.
2. Use A Compassionate Tone
Watch your tone intention in the beginning of all emails. “I mean this with loving eyes” or “I know you are improving and I still have another request based on my need to connect.”
Notice the difference between “you let me down and broke a promise again” and “a part of me is hurt and feels let down by you breaking our commitment.”
3. Observation Without Attitude
Example: saying “I noticed you left the plate in the sink. Did that mean anything to you?” sounds different than “it is so annoying when you leave your plate in the sink.”
A good way to practice polyamory is to ensure that EVERYONE in the partnership / poly family is mindful of the needs that polyamory is satisfying in each of their own lives.
For example, we all have a need for connection. You can meet that need through monogamy or polyamory. Understanding how polyamory fulfills your needs in addition to connection (certainty, uncertainty, significance, growth, and contribution) is critical.
Understanding your needs is critical to discussing conversations around relationship orientation (polyamory, swinging) and/or sexuality.
4. Willingness To Be Flexible And Collaborative!
Start asking your partner once a week what you can do to meet THEIR needs better and address the feedback in the upcoming week.
If you aren’t willing to extend yourself for just one partner now, you will not be able to manage polyamory dating, let alone a polyamorous community.
Open relationships are for those who are interested in living life a bit differently. You will constantly be faced with multiple opportunities to meet the needs of partners, so make sure your time management is on point!
So if you are interested in getting help before you begin your open relationship journey, text us at 203-733-9600.
If you know someone who would benefit from this knowledge, feel free to end the stigma around open relationships and send them a link to my YouTube channel – The Sex Healer!
Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists!
Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems.
LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. For clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized coaching on YOUR terms, learn more about our Couples Cure text therapy program.