People ask me everyday about open relationships and polyamorous relationships. They want to know if these sort of relationships actually work. How do you not implode with jealousy when your partner is off frolicking with someone else? This is a huge fear that a lot of us live with everyday no matter our relationship status.
I have to say, there are actually a lot things people can learn from those “crazy” people in open relationships. The great part about being in an open relationships is that you get to create your own rules. You decide on things like, are you allowed to date another person? If you go on a date with someone, does that mean you go home with them and spend the night? Setting up rules forces the couple to communicate about what they expect from the relationship.
On some level we’ve all bought into the myth that we are meant to meet someone who will fulfill all of the things missing in our lives. We think that person will become our everything– someone to sleep with, eat with, cry with, and laugh with. People desperately want to meet the “right” person to become their sun, moon, and stars.
The truth is, your partner does not have to be all of those things all the time. If you’re in an open relationship, you acknowledge that different people fulfill different needs. Your soulmate doesn’t have to be the person who pours you wine, goes shoe shopping with you, brushes your hair, and tells you you are wonderful everyday. Never lose touch with your friends in a relationships, because they will fulfill needs your partner simply cannot.
I’m not suggesting that you join a polyamorous love circle (I mean it could be kind of fun). But instead of dismissing alternative relationships as the antithesis of monogamous relationships, you can learn from them to make your own relationship stronger. If you expect your partner to fulfill every aspect missing in your life, you’re going to be dissatisfied.
If you want a great relationship, you can choose to embrace radical honesty like many people in open relationships. I’m not talking about admitting that you fantasize about having sex with the coffee barista in the public restroom. I’m talking about having the conversations you don’t want to have, that you keep on telling yourself you’ll finally bring up tomorrow. Maybe you wish your partner was more adventurous in bed or you wish they would stop talking to their ex every week. Whatever it is, if you bottle it up inside you’ll start a chain of resentment and fighting. Nothing will get resolved if don’t have open communication with your partner.
And if you are interested in exploring or just learning about polyamory, here are some great books to get you started:
- Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino
- Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, by Jenny Block
- The Ethical Slut: a Roadmap for Relationship Pioneers, by Dossie Easton
Bottom line: no matter what kind of relationship you choose, you can create your own rules, practice intense communication, and recognize that one person on the planet isn’t capable of making you feel whole.
Image from Vicky Christina Barcelona