Opening Up from Monogamy
Opening up your marriage or monogamous relationship is not for the faint of heart. Cultural programming towards monogamy is pretty insidious. And, whether stated explicitly in wedding vows or implicitly through unspoken rules that guide your relationship, opening up drastically alters the agreement you’ve already entered into.
Changing the Relationship Rules Requires Fresh Consent
By opening up, you’re seeking a whole new consent for a different kind of relationship. Your partner may or may not be willing to offer that consent. In other words, you need to prepare to hear “No.” You need to be OK with hearing that even it leaves you with some tough choices to make.
The “Yes” – if it comes – often is not initially an exuberant one. As you process and contemplate, raw feelings may need to be addressed, reassurance given, trust issues healed, etc. Getting to yes can be liberating and invigorating even though there can still be a fair amount of fear and hesitation from one or both of you. This is normal.
Some Relationships End
I must caution that not every relationship can or should survive the process. You can’t force it to happen or for your partner to agree to something they’re not OK with. Coercion – whether in monogamous or non-monogamous relationships – is unethical and corrosive. So your partner needs to be in agreement on their account, not just from capitulated to pressure.
One of my roles is to help you process this big decision and (if you choose) make the transition to non-monogamy. The guidance below is just to get you thinking about how to approach this ethically and compassionately.
Don’t Make These Mistakes!
There are some pretty spectacular ways to create relationship turmoil when opening up. Try not to make these big mistakes*:
- Attempting to transition an affair into an ethically non-monogamous relationship.
- Rushing into another relationship without rigorous processing of feelings, boundaries, etc.
- Not being willing to hear “No” and instead trying to talk your partner into it.
- Mentioning who you’re attracted to before talking about feelings related to opening up.
- Dismissing your partners feelings (or worse, not taking time to listen to them)
* If you did already make a big mistake and are having a tough time either individually or as a couple, please contact me for support!
Opening Up is NOT a Relationship Cure
opening up will highlight the cracks in the foundation and in some ways expand them if unaddressed.
Sometimes, monogamous couples come to think about opening their relationship because affairs – emotional and/or sexual – keep happening. They think this lifestyle will prevent that. Wrong! Cheating happens in the non-monogamy world too. Just because you’re no longer exclusive doesn’t mean cheating can’t happen. Second, if infidelity – whether sexual or emotional affairs – have been part of your relationship history, these require special care to work through and re-build trust BEFORE you jump into non-monogamy.
Other reasons people often state for starting this path revolve around sex and intimacy issues. “Hey, let’s just bring a girl in to our relationship to spice things up!” is a common trope. Or maybe you’re not aligned with your love languages. Instead of asking for what you need from your partner and working on it, you figure you’ll just plug that hole through another’s arms. Bad idea!
What Do You Want/Need, Really?
You need to check your motivations for doing this. Big time. Too often, this conversation is rushed or haphazardly approached and this can lead to significantly hurt feelings if not careful.
Assuming your current relationship is on solid footing (note: I didn’t say perfect), what are you hoping to experience by adding other partners? Perhaps you have a particular kink for your existing partner is a ‘hell no’ and you want to explore this side of your sexuality. Or maybe you have a connection with a close friend that has always felt like something more and you don’t want to limit how much deeper that could go. Are these deal-breakers for you? In other words, would you feel miserable if you had to deny yourself what you’re seeking?
If your relationship is not on solid footing, I strongly urge you to first address major issues in your couple before jumping into non-monogamy. Non-monogamy may open some doors to new possibilities but another relationship will not necessarily rub off on the first. In fact, the problems may magnify in the process.
Can’t Put the Genie Back
Consider, how well do you suppose you can return to monogamy after dating, sleeping with, or establishing a serious relationship with another partner? Yeah, you can’t exactly put the genie back. Even if you return to exclusive monogamy, experiences with other partners may have fundamentally changed your relationship.
Closing Your Relationship
Equally important, do you both want to close the relationship? Often, one partner drives this decision and the other capitulates. That’s a recipe for misery. Do either of you currently have other partners? If so, have you consulted them? How do they feel about this and do they feel empowered or disempowered? As you can see, there are many aspects to consider. Hence, my consultation services may help you consider this decision carefully so you act ethically out of respect for all parties.
Guiding you through Tough Decisions & Emotions
Do you find yourself terrified at the prospect of opening up? Or perhaps you have but now contemplate closing the relationship again. Alternatively, maybe you just need to find out if you’re better suited (individually or as a couple) for monogamy. While I’m sure you can read books and listen to podcasts on these topics, having a professional help you process is invaluable.
Put down the book and give me a call. Let’s get you some personalized support for this difficult journey.