A lot of people are curious about open relationships. Maybe you are, too.
Take the following question as an example. Maybe something like this has crossed your mind before:
“I’d like to hear about long term relationships that also have open sexual relationships with others. My long term partner and I have been flirting with this idea but there are so many people who say it’s a bad idea and a sign the relationship is ending…”
If you’ve been searching for answers, you’ll have noticed that a lot of people have opinions. It can be valuable to turn for input toward those with lived experience of open relationships, as well as those who help people with them professionally.
Damien Diecke, Head Coach at School of Attraction, fits the bill. Damien is a life, business, and dating coach. In addition to helping clients navigate open relationships, Damien is in an open relationship, too.
In today’s episode, we speak a little about transactional analysis. You can get a general overview on Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis
Typically, the standard view of relationships in society are reflected in the way we tell fairy tales. There are normative ideas about what you should do and how your relationship should look, often referred to as the relationship escalator. The thing is, commitment does not biologically turn you off to other people.
Open relationships are template-less and no two look the same. You have to design your own. A good place to start is researching. Fire up your search engine of choice and check out consensual non-monogamy, polyamory, relationship anarchy, swinging, hall passes, or don’t ask don’t tell.
By designing your own relationship, you’re setting your own path. The most important aspect is to be honest about what you desire.
Should I be in an open relationship?
First of all, if you’re doing it to try and save a relationship, the answer is no! Secondly, it’s highly suggested to embark on open relating with a therapist on hand to support you.
Then ask yourself, do I just have the desire for this, regardless of anyone else?
Especially if you are considering opening an existing relationship, it is better to do so when you don’t currently have another partner already in mind.
How will I navigate an open relationship? How can I tell if what I’m feeling is jealousy or that something is wrong?
When something is going on that doesn’t feel right, you always know it. Pay attention to your intuition. Be careful of subconsciously wanting to diminish or hide your true feelings.
When you want to communicate, but hold back in hopes of saving the other person’s feelings, communication needs to be revisited.
Here’s a short list of things to know or do before you open an existing relationship:
- Get therapy for yourself.
- Gut check yourself and your partner for authenticity and honesty.
- Learn to take care of each other, including space to care for emotions.
- Talk about it and share your feelings openly.
- Avoid language that tries to control the other person. Instead of making rules, share your feelings.
A feeling is never invalid. – Damien
It’s important to not dismiss emotion, and to care for emotions when they come up. If you’re in the right place, your emotions will matter to your partner.
Open Relating in the Wild
The more people that come into your network, the more relationships you’re nurturing at once. It’s crucial to implement some boundaries about your own time and space.
How much of you can you share emotionally and support others? What are you available for? You cannot give more than you have and it’s critical to know when to be selfish and just how selfish to be. Giving more than you have creates resentfulness, and is made worse if your partner is your only place to release emotions.
Love is an unlimited resource, but time is not. Men tend to struggle to find a relationship as quickly in an open relationship as women, and being aware of how that might make you feel is important to explore as it can bring up jealousy. Be prepared for a delay of the emotional impact.
Meeting new people, especially romantically, and sharing with them your situation can be difficult. For some, this detail could be a trigger or dead stop. There is an additional education piece that emerges when dating to create an understanding open relationships and what that means for you.
A lot of people are fascinated by open relationships but, out in the wild, there can be a lot of judgment of open relationships. People have wounds or triggers around this stuff. If you’re looking for judgment-free spaces with emotional support, seek out sex positive communities where open relationship are accepted.
One of the greatest gifts of engaging in open relating is how much you learn about yourself and your partners, in part because of just how much you need to communicate in order to care for each other.
It’s important, if you want a good experience, to go into open relating ready for growth. Look at the journey as an epic voyage of self-discovery. While open relating can present additional challenges, it also amplifies the good stuff. When you do the hard work, there is something really intriguing on the other side.
Special thanks to Damien for sharing his wisdom and vulnerability on this topic. Check out his work below:
School of Attraction Podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/288898