Blogs on polyamory, non-monagomy and open relationships.

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Freaked Out That Your Partner May be Polyamorous. Here’s What You Need to Do

Freaked Out that Your Partner May Be Polyamorous?  Here’s What You Need to Do

They’ve been talking about how cool they find the idea of inviting someone else into your bed for a while now but you never really took them seriously until they handed you a copy of ‘The Ethical Slut’ to read.   Now you are completely freaked out that they will want to bring some other woman or man into your bed and might even want to have a relationship with that new person as well as with you.  You always took your monogamy for granted.  You felt safe because you knew that you were settled in a good stable monogamous relationship.  OK so maybe sex wasn’t as much fun anymore and maybe you didn’t have sex all that often.  But you get along well most of the time and you are happy with your life together.   The idea of adding another person and being polyamorous is petrifying.

Maybe the idea of having more than one partner appealed to you in the past or maybe it even appeals to you now, but as soon as they bring it up as something you might actually do, you freeze.   Sit down.  Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Many of the people I have helped had the same reaction you are having.

Here’s what you need to do:

1 Educate yourself about polyamorous relationships.

Non-monogamy comes in many forms from monogamish where you are monogamous except for one particular thing (like kissing one person or inviting one person to come play with you once a year on their birthday) to polyamorous where you have multiple romantic, sexual and emotional relationships to polygamy where there is one husband and many wives (or one wife and many husbands).  There are a couple of books that I recommend: The Ethical Slut, Re-Writing the Rules.  Read my other blogs on the subject.   Listen to my podcasts (1, 2, 3, 4) on polyamory and to my series of podcasts called sex love stories for some individual stories about non-monogamy in all of its different forms.

2 Journal.

To make the best use of your education, start a journal.   Take notes about what you are learning.    Pay attention to your feelings as you are reading and listening and learning.  Are you interested?  Excited? Worried? More freaked out?    Write all of this down.

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3 Own your feelings and work on them.

If you are feeling angry then own this.  If you don’t acknowledge your anger, it will play out in passive aggressive ways that destroy relationships.  If you are able, try to figure out exactly where your anger comes from.  Anger often comes from fear.  If this is where your anger is coming from, what information do you need to allay your fear?  It might be re-assurance that your partner still fancies you.  It might be clear information about what your partner is actually proposing.    You might be feeling jealous, frightened, sad or a whole host of things.    If you don’t have a regular way of soothing yourself and working through your feelings, now would be a good time to do some individual coaching to help you work through the feelings but also to teach you some practical skills to help you work through emotions as they arise in the future.

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4 Once you have worked through some feelings, decide if this is a deal breaker for you.

If you are unwilling to even consider opening up your relationship in any way, it is important for you to acknowledge this so that you can discuss it with your partner. Some people decide to become monogamous in a polyamorous relationship. If you are really good at communicating and able to own and manage your own feelings (especially jealousy and anger), then this is an excellent option.  The clearer you are on your own needs and limits, the easier it will be to talk with your partner about all the options.   If you are having difficulty thinking things through on your own or talking them through with a friend who can be neutral, this is also a time to speak with a coach or therapist so that you can clarify your own needs and limits.  It is best to speak with someone who is poly friendly so that the whole range of options is easily open to you.

 

5 Have a conversation with your partner to find out exactly what they are proposing. Polyamorous? Swinging? Something else?

Ask what triggered this desire now and be prepared to hear any answer.  Before the conversation starts, create a safe space by making sure you have plenty of time to talk and that no one will interrupt.   Make it a non-judgemental space and manage your emotions even if something they say is upsetting to you.  If you want them to talk honestly to you, you have to be willing to truly listen.   Consider recording the conversation (with agreement of course).  Taking notes is often really difficult during an emotional conversation.  You are recording so that you can both make sure to catch any ideas you have about moving forward in a positive manner.  If you have never been able to talk about difficult subjects well or if you never manage to resolve any issues together, this is not the issue to try to start on alone.  Agree to go see a poly friendly sex and relationship therapist or sex and relationship coach together and start the dialogue there.  Having someone who can help you to stop and reflect instead of ending up in the same negative communication loop is invaluable when you are looking at making major changes in your relationship.   Make sure you are seeing someone who knows about non-monogamy who can bust the myths and provide you with good solid information.

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After you have had your freak out, breathe deep and start working your way through the steps above until you reach clarity.  Whatever you decide – polyamorous or monogamous, this relationship or your future relationships will ultimately be much richer and more exciting as a result of the emotional work that you do.   For more information, book a free discovery session with me here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell Me About Polyamorous Dominant/submissive (D/s) Relationships

Are there polyamorous D/s (dominant submissive) relationships? Yes there are.

Polyamorous D/s relationships come in an infinite number of configurations.  For more about how different open relationships might look, you can find one of my articles here and a series of podcasts here.

D/s relationships are ones in which dominance and submission are the primary feature.  In these relationships, people usually take on one role (either the dominant role or the submissive role).  Sometimes people are switches meaning that they enjoy switching roles and sometimes they even switch roles within the same relationship.  But I will talk about that later.    For now,  I will talk about the situations in which a person takes on one role in each relationship.  Some D/s relationships involve bondage and discipline or sadism and masochism but others do not.  The feature of the relationship which turns both parties on is the power exchange. One person is in charge and the other agrees to submit to their rule.  Submission can be part time, sexually only for example, or it can be full time (e.g. in all aspects of the relationship).  D/s relationships often have clear structures, with rituals, rules and expectations all spelled out.  Many people who engage in them gain pleasure from all of these aspects.  The submissives enjoy giving up control and being led by someone else.  The dominants enjoy the control over their partners, having someone do as they desire.  This is a simplistic description of what both parties might get out of the relationship.  For more on these relationships, listen to this series of podcasts from Sex Spoken Here and D is for Dominant from the A to Z of Sex ™  podcast.

Polyamorous D/s

D/s relationships can be very straightforward or very complex.  Some include significant role play as well as the exchange of power.  There are marriages that work on these principles as well as long term living together relationships.  However, it can be difficult to maintain these roles when living with someone full time especially if the person who is in the submissive role is dominant in the outside world (at work, within the household, the main bread winner).   As a result, in some relationships, the D/s aspects become watered down which often leads to dissatisfaction on the part of both parties.

One solution to this situation is to consider opening up the relationship.  A couple can agree to engage in D/s play with other partners and not each other or with other partners and still engage with each other.  Deciding who will do what with whom can require some intricate negotiation.  When done properly, this is a great solution that increases everybody’s enjoyment and fulfilment.

Polyamorous D/s

Myra and Robin were involved in a D/s relationship for 10 years before they moved in together.

At first things work well.  Weekends are the time that they set aside for the D/s side of their relationship.  During the week they look like any other couple living together.    Robin sometimes finds it difficult giving up control on the weekend, especially on weeks where she is travelling for work.   But things are still working and they are both still happy together.  After 6 months living together, Myra decides to take a sabbatical.  She is working on a book and needs the time to write.  They agree that Robin will be the main bread winner for those 6 months.    This is when the D/s relationship truly begins to break down.

The women came to see me when Robin found it too difficult to submit to Myra.  They were both upset by this change and were motivated to look at how they could make sure their relationship would survive and thrive.  After 4 coaching sessions, Robin raised the issue of opening the relationship.  She proposed that they both seek to create a D/s relationship with someone else.  At first Myra was resistant to this idea, concerned that they would lose one of the best facets of their relationship.  After some negotiation, they decided to choose partners for each other and were clear about the limitations.  They decided to restrict the relationship to D/s in the bedroom.  After a few false starts, they found situations which suited both of them.   After a month of exploring new D/s relationships, they told me the spark had come back between them and they left coaching.  A year later they came back for a ‘check-up’ and reported that they had restarted the D/s part of their relationship and it was going really well.  They continued to keep their other relationships and said that this added richness to their sexual lives.

There are people in D/s relationships agree that the dominant person can choose to introduce other people into the relationship.   These are not truly polyamorous relationships but usually occasional sexual liaisons with others controlled by the dominant partners.

Some people become polyamorous because they discover an interest in dominance and submission and want to enter power exchange or D/s relationships but their partners have little interest in exploring with them.  They choose to open their relationships.  In my experience many of these relationships are poly monogamous relationships.  For more on poly monogamy see my article here.  These relationships can work well however couples need to communicate well and negotiate extremely well in order for them to do so.  Coaching helps couples learn the communication and negotiation skills needed to create exciting and well-functioning poly monogamous relationships.

Check out my YouTube channel for videos on topics including polyamory, jealousy, and power exchange.  Listen to my podcasts: Sex Spoken Here and The A to Z of Sex â for more information on all of these topics and more.  Interested in exploring further?  Book a free discovery session with me here.

How Do I Know If Polyamory Is For Me?

Curious about polyamory? Is polyamory right for you? Many people say yes but only you will know for sure. Let’s explore this openly so you can dig in more deeply… it all begins by getting educated to what polyamory IS and is NOT.

Let’s start with a definition.

Polyamory is usually defined as when a person prefers to have romantic and sexual relationships with more than one person at a time (though not necessarily at the same time!).  This is contrasted with monogamy when a person agrees to only have a sexual and romantic relationship with one person.

Polyamory is one of a number of forms of consensual non-monogamy.

Consensual non-monogamy is when people agree that they will have relationships with more than one person.  They are honest with each other and often have a set of agreements as to how their relationships will be run.  Now that we have a general definition, let’s consider how you can tell if consensual non-monogamy is for you and from there, whether polyamory is right for you.

  • Do you enjoy sexual variety? Have a high sex drive? Are you sexually adventurous?If any or all of these describe you, you are likely to find consensual non-monogamy a better fit for you than monogamy.   Polyamory will offer you the possibility of multiple relationships providing lots of variety and if you have a high sex drive making it easier to get your sexual needs met.
  • Do you enjoy emotional intimacy with more than one person?Have you always wanted to share deeply with more than just your partner?  Do you have a number of friends who are as close to you as your romantic partners?  If so, you may do well having more than one romantic partner at time.  People who find deep conversations and having many close connections often enjoy being polyamarous.
  • Do you see yourself as spiritual, non-religious or do you practice a less common form of religion?The most common things practiced by people who are non-monogamous and not atheist or agnostic are Unitarianism, Universalism, Paganism and Buddhism.  If so, you are more likely to feel comfortable in a non-monogamous relationship structure.
  • Are you comfortable with examining your feelings and talking about them with others?If you are going to be successful in non-monogamous relationships, you will need to be emotionally literate.  Success in all relationships increases when you are able to identify your own feelings, discriminate them from the feelings of others and talk about your feelings with others with little discomfort.   If you have more than one relationship, the need to be an expert communicator and to know yourself well increases.  Research shows that one thing that really unites people who are non-monogamous is an enthusiasm for and skill for getting into the emotion

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  • Do you have good emotional skills or are you willing to develop them?Polyamory requires a variety of emotional skills including the ability to self-soothe, resilience, the ability to set good boundaries and abide by good boundaries, conflict management skills and emotional management skills.  If you have these skills you will do well balancing your own needs and the needs of multiple others.  As long as you start with some of these skills, you can develop the others over time either by learning from your partners and friends or through working with a therapist or coach.
  • Are you flexible? The more flexible you are the easier you will find polyamory.  Even if you are not flexible, you can create a good structure with your partners that will allow you to work well together.

Polyamory looks like this

Reading this article so far it may seem that non-monogamy is all about managing emotions, managing conflict and talking all the time.  While this is part of non-monogamy, there is a lot of fun to be had as well.  With no one person having to meet all of another person’s needs, people become more relaxed, less anxious and better able to enjoy their time together.

Many people avoid non-monogamy because they feel it isn’t possible to be in love with more than one person at a time or to maintain love with more than one person at a time.    I usually ask them if they would find it hard to love more than one child.  Most people respond no to this question.

It is not love that is a limited resource.  The most limited of our resources is time.

It is the sharing of time that often causes conflict in relationships and this can be particularly difficult in non-monogamous relationships.  I often find myself teaching people in poly relationships time management skills.  The other limited resource is often related to time and that is attention.  This is where jealousy can arise – around someone else getting more time or attention or gaining ‘special’ time (like Christmas, Thanksgiving or birthdays for example).  Knowing this makes it easier to avoid the pitfalls.

I must mention solo polyamory here.  Solo polyamory is when a person considers themselves to be their primary relationship partner and they enjoy having other relationships be ones that do not move towards living together.  Many people in relationships quickly find themselves on the relationship escalator – moving towards living together, mingling finances, and/or having children together.  If you prefer not to do this and prefer to have your own living space, maintain financial independence and have a more creative relationship structure you may find yourself embracing solo polyamory.

The best way to figure out if polyamory or other forms of consensual non-monogamy are right for you is to spend time exploring.

Talk with people who are polyamorists, swingers, engage in open relationships.  Ask for the positives and the negatives.  There are lots of Facebook groups devoted to non-monogamy.   Check out events near you devoted to non-monogamy.  If you have a partner, talk it through with them.   Explore by talking with a sex coach or therapist.  Take the knowledge you acquire during exploration and then explore more!

I am a Sex & Intimacy Coach, Registered Psychologist, Speaker, Educator, and Author.  I help individuals, couples and polyamorous groups to find and create their ideal lasting intimate relationships. I also help individuals heal relationship wounds from the past.  I have an expertise in healing trauma and am kink-knowledgeable.  My free eBook: 74Movies that are Not Pornography can spice things up.  Enjoy my podcasts The A to Z of Sex and Sex Spoken Here.

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Is Polyamory with a Monogamous Partner Possible?

I am asked this question more than almost any other question about polyamory.   My short answer – yes, it is possible.  However, to make a polyamorous /monogamous relationship work takes partners who are secure in themselves and their choices, secure in the relationship, good communicators and willing to work.

Often people who are monogamous don’t understand why a person would want to be polyamorous and this can lead to feeling that a polyamorous partner is looking to replace them or that if they just work hard enough, the person will become monogamous.   If the relationship started as a monogamous one and one partner has changed, it is often very hard for the one who has remained monogamous to manage that shift.

Curious if polyamory is right for you? Be sure to read this piece.

It is the polyamorous person who will find themselves with the responsibility to help the monogamous person feel as safe and secure in the relationship as possible.   Good communication, the ability to set boundaries and stellar negotiation skills are essential.

Both parties will need to understand the other person’s worldview.  If they are truly committed to each other, they must spend time and work at understanding as fully as possible.  Relationships where each person’s goals and expectations are different are difficult relationships.  In order to make them work, both people will have to put in lots of effort.

Essentials for a Polyamorous /Monogamous Relationships to Work:

  • The poly partner is clear about what her version of poly entails. 

    Not all polyamory is the same.  Some relationships are hierarchical – there is a central relationship that takes precedence and other relationships come in after the main list of priorities.  Other polyamorous relationships are egalitarian so priorities are juggled regularly.   Some polyamorous relationships involve only casual relationships outside of the original relationship.  If you want the type of polyamory where all of your partners and their other partners are friends, you need to be clear with your monogamous partner that this is your expectation.  To be friends with other partners requires a very high level of security as a person and also security in the relationship.  It is often easier to feel less threatened if you don’t see and talk to another person who is sexually involved with your partner if you are by nature monogamous.

 

  • The monogamous partner understands that his partner is not seeking other relationships because something is missing in their relationship.  

    Often the monogamous person feels that his partner would not be looking elsewhere if he was better at x, y or z or if he changed his body shape, hair or something else.  This has nothing to do with why the partner is polyamorous.   Understanding this leads to feeling personally more secure.  If you believe that your partner finds you lacking and that is why she is looking for another partner, your self-esteem will dip and you will find it hard to feel secure in the relationship.

 

  • The couple creates rules and boundaries for their relationship and for the other relationships that the polyamorous person enters into.  

    Lots of monogamous heterosexual couples do not create rules and boundaries for their relationships.  They leave most things completely unspoken and have lots of expectations based on their upbringings, previous relationships, and societal influences.  This often leads to problems in relationships and difficulty working through issues that arise.   Relationships can work for many years before expectations and a lack of clear boundaries become a problem.  In polyamorous /monogamous relationships issues arise quickly if these areas are not clearly discussed, negotiated and spelled out.  I see this as the blueprint for the relationship because blueprints are detailed plans with lots of boundaries, measurements, and rules. Plans can be changed as a building is being constructed.  Modifications are agreed upon because something won’t work in practice or because someone changes his mind.  The changes are discussed and agreed and added to the blueprint.

Areas that form part of a good blueprint:

  • Time management 

    Will the relationship be prioritized?  Are there special days or events that need to be spent together?  Will you spend the night with other partners?

 

  • Living arrangements 

    Are you living together or are you planning on living together? Can you bring other partners to spend the night in the home you share together if you share a home together?  If you don’t live together, will the poly partner possibly live with one of her other partners?   Is the plan to get married or form a civil partnership?

 

  • Children 

    If you already have children together, how will you manage other partners?  Will the children meet them or spend time with them?  If you don’t have children, do either of you want them?  If one of you does and the other doesn’t how will that be managed in the relationship?  If the poly person is the one who wants children will she have them with another partner?

 

  • Sexual limits and boundaries  

    Are there activities you reserve only to the two of you?  What will you do in relation to safe sex?  Will there be fluid bonding between the two of you and with no one else?  How often will you get tested for STD’s?

 

  • Information Sharing  

    Will you talk with each other about the other partners in detail?  Does the mono person want to hear details?  Does the poly person feel comfortable sharing details?  How much information will be shared with other partners?

 

  • Public acknowledgment of the relationship:

    Will other partners be public?  What about social media?  What explanation will you give people like family and friends?

 

  • Partner choosing:

    Will the mono partner have the right to say no to a potential partner who feels threatening to him?  Are there limits on who can be chosen based on marital status, age or perceived complications?

 

  • Desires, wishes, dreams:

    Draw a picture of how you wish the relationships will look in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 5 years.  Look at this plan for non-workable parts, issues that might arise, areas of potential problems and try to find solutions or alter the plans.

 

There is a lot to consider when creating this blueprint.  If you aren’t great at communicating about difficult complex issues, I suggest having a number of sessions with a sex and intimacy coach.  A coach can help you both find the language and build the negotiating and communication skills and this will give you a better chance of creating a relationship that works for both of you and any partners who come along in the future.

Coaching can also help you gain strategies to manage any intense emotions that arise.  Many people have only a small set of emotional management strategies and this can be limiting.  You can expand your repertoire and with practice become an expert at managing emotions and stress.

Polyamory /monogamous relationships can be rich and fulfilling as long as you are able to put in the work and you treat each other and the relationship with the respect and care it deserves.

If I can help you on your journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I offer all of my clients a free consultation. Email me drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com and we’ll set up a private time to chat.