First let’s start with a little background on me and my wife’s relationship, and how it has evolved over the years. We’ve been together for 14 years, since she was 18 and I was 19. As many people know one of the killers for relationships that start when you’re that young is the thoughts of what it would be like to be with someone else. We addressed this issue by swinging and it was the perfect thing to bring us even closer together at the perfect time. We did that off and on over the years taking breaks here and there for pregnancies and a couple back surgeries Melanie had.
After healing from the most recent back surgery we began to discuss getting back into the swing of things, and the topic of moving from swinging to dating separately came up. This eventually led to a realization that we both wanted more from an external relationship than just sex. If we’re giving things labels then polyamory seems to be the best fit for what we currently practice. At the time I am writing this our marriage has been fully open for about 6 months. What follows are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully this can help you work through some of the common issues you will experience when first opening a relationship to some form of ethical non-monogamy.
Ah jealousy, the dirty word of poly and other non-monogamous relationships. Lots of newbies are made to feel that feelings of jealousy are toxic and they’re “bad at poly” for having them. I don’t subscribe to this field of thought. Jealousy in its essense isn’t really a feeling of its own as much as it is the external representation of other issues that may be hiding under the surface. The key is controlling how you react to your jealousy and not letting it effect your relationships or your other partners relationships. Ultimately you have to do some serious introspection, and figure out what underlying issue is causing the jealousy. Are you worried about losing your partner? Maybe you’re afraid they might have better sex or an otherwise deeper connection with someone else? The list could go on and on. You have to take the time to work on your issues and realize they are just that, your issues, and only you can fix them. Early on a good friend suggested to me using meditation to help with this. I found this to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received, and it really helped me to work through jealousy and get the root of my own issues.
This brings us to a big source of jealousy, comparison. I am 100% guilty of this in the past, and see it come up all the time in various poly discussion groups. If you talk with enough people in the community you will quickly realize one of the biggest reasons for being poly/non-monogamous is that you don’t feel like one person can fulfill all your needs and wants. Whether it be sexually, emotionally, etc… There is some sort of need that you’re seeking to get fulfilled with multiple partners. This is OK. It doesn’t mean your partner likes you any less. They are just getting things from others they don’t get from you, and they are getting things from you they don’t get from others. Comparing the relationships will always lead to someone losing and nothing good can come of that. One of the things I battled with was when my wife met someone she was really into. Seeing her so excited and experiencing NRE for the first time I began comparing that with the current state of our relationship. This led to lots of toxic thoughts. It was only when I took a step back and really looked at what was going on was I able to get proper perspective. This was a shiny new relationship so of course it would be very exciting. Thinking back to when we were first together, and remembering how it was when we went through that stage as well really helped. Relationships have stages and our marriage is in a very different stage than a brand new relationship in the midst of full blown NRE.
If you’ve read anything on the subject of managing an open relationship you’ve seen the importance of communication stressed again and again. This is of course important in any good relationship and I won’t go to much detail here. I do however have a few thoughts in relation to open relationships. Expectation of communication between partners should be discussed ahead of time. What i mean by this is you should discuss with each partner what they want to know and when they want to know it. This is another issue I see pretty often. One person becomes intimate, or reaches some other sort of milestone with a new partner without discussing it with they’re current partner first and they’re left feeling hurt or lied to. Another issue you may run into is over sharing. Sharing details with a partner that they didn’t want to know for example. This could all be avoided by sitting down in the beginning and laying out what kind of communication you expect and when you expect it. This should viewed as living breathing agreement as things are most certainly going to change as you learn and grow.
To wrap things up here are some resources my spouse and I have used along the way.
https://www.morethantwo.com – Everything here is fantastic read, read, read.