Even if polyamorous/open relationships are now increasingly recognized and accepted, monogamy is mostly never questioned and generally always goes without saying, even in casual relationships.
It is also very rare, even unthinkable, to hear discussions about monogamy between two people. But it’s still funny to imagine :
“Honey, I have to tell you something… I am monogamous! Is it ok for you? »
On the contrary, we hear much more often people talking about non-monogamy, in all its forms, with this point of view :
“Ah, open relationships are very cool, I’m very happy for them, but I WOULD NEVER DO THAT! »
Why do people feel the need to affirm and reaffirm that this situation would NOT be for them? (I can already hear the non-monogamous people sigh, they know you wouldn’t be able to, we hear it every day 😉 ) But where does this come from? Judgments, misunderstandings, or true monogamous desires?
Values and point of views evolve, but behaviors in general… not so quickly! And then, when one becomes personally involved in a situation of non-monogamy, reality catches up (too?) quickly.
Open Relationship, The Beginning Of The End?
A partner wishes to have an open relationship, dead end or open to negotiation?
Step 1 would be to find a good time to address the situation. Also, giving the partner time to take a step back and digest the shock of the announcement, they do not necessarily have the same knowledge or the same reflections on the subject as the person with the non-monogamy project!
Like anything, it takes practice to become comfortable in something new. Like a marathon, few people would be able to run a full one, with a 1 or 2 days notice. But, if a person runs a little every day, more and more, for weeks, and months, it becomes possible, even perhaps natural! One does not become instantly and magically non-monogamous.
But, when social prescriptions have been well deconstructed and partners are on the same wavelength, many beautiful things can happen! Discoveries, fulfillment, solidifying relationships, the advantages of non-monogamy have been discussed many times!
It can be tempting to see only the good sides of non-monogamy, but it is still important to fully understand what it involves before getting started on this journey.
Non Monogamous Preconceived Ideas to Avoid
– Having an open relationship will save my current relationship!
Open relationships are NOT modern miracles, but rather a huge emotional investment, which requires a lot of communication, honesty, sensitivity, patience, empathy, and compassion. Not as easy as it sounds! Above all, when a relationship is already weak, these elements are often already very fragile, whereas a relationship must be super healthy and thriving to survive the adaptation and changes required.
– I will finally be able to do whatever I want with whoever I want!
As mentioned above, an open relationship is a constant work in-progress, especially in terms of consent and limits. This implies (among other things) having to ask and clearly answer several questions, for example:
- Can we see the same person several times?
- Should we talk about our partners and experiences?
- If yes, when and how?
- How to manage the schedule, a special day for meetings, or just when possible?
- Is it just sex or multiple relationships?
- Is love an option?
- Is it a possibility to meet other people as a couple?
- Are the limits the same for both partners?
- What’s off-limits?
- And any other questions deemed relevant!
Phew! This is far from the idea of acting impulsively on desires.
In addition, answers are never final, consent can always evolve, according to relationships and experiences. So, this process often has to be started over, and with everyone involved!
– If they love me, they should accept / I love them, I don’t want to lose them so I will accept.
You have to be careful about the pressure you can put on your partner. If a person feels they have to concede, then the relationship becomes non-consensual. It goes without saying that a relationship that starts with guilt and suppression of needs and desires may not be fulfilling and fun for very long!
Starting Points and Good Practices
But then, where to start? What are the right questions to ask yourself to know if an open relationship/polyamory couple is healthy and made for you? There are clues that indicates it can be a good idea! This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but some good starting points that may be useful to think about:
- Who is usually in the requesting/decisional position? (See here for more details.) Is there a power imbalance that could influence the couple’s visions/decisions?
- What are the current relationship and sexual dynamics? Are partners on the same wavelength?
- How/when did the idea of an open relationship come? (Is it related to certain frustrations, a period of intimate disconnection, or is it a joyful period of fulfillment and self-discovery?)
- Is this the right time? Are one, or more, partner going through a difficult time? Intense stress, depression, death of a loved one… If so, maybe not the best time!
- What needs/desires would the open relationship fulfill? Have partners already talked about it and/or tried to satisfy it? If so, what went wrong? If not, what are all the options to explore?
Far from being an attempt to discourage from non-monogamy, these questions and reflections are there to highlight the realities and challenges of an open relationship on a daily basis. But once you are more familiar with the facts, it’s easier to pursue.
**And there is always the option of talking to a qualified sex therapist to help with the process! 🙂