How do you create the unique relationship that works for you?
What if your needs don’t fit inside rigid categories?
I’ve had personal experience and coached others through both polyamorous and monogamous relationships, as well as everything in-between.
If sex and relationships are countries, then I’m a world traveler. My mission is to give couples some directions on how to get where they want to go as well as neighborhoods to avoid.
Alternative styles of relationships are gaining popularity in today’s world. Sometimes extreme ideas sound great in theory, and in reality, they are not what an individual or couple really want. Both polyamory and monogamy can be limiting if specific needs are not thoroughly examined. Couples find themselves trying to fit a voluptuous multi-dimensional relationship into a straightjacket.
The experience of a trail-blazing Sex and Relationship Coach.
I’ve felt trapped in a vanilla, sexually unsatisfying friendship that made me want to chew through the walls like a caged animal. I knew something about traditional monogamy didn’t feel quite right for me, which eventually led to curiosity about polyamory.
I made attempts at polyamory as a means to fix a relationship that wasn’t quite right from the beginning, having spontaneous threesomes, well-thought out and executed threesomes, and even found myself in a couple of orgy situations, in which I quickly learned to set some hard boundaries. Naturally, in my profession, this was all valuable learning, but an open relationship wasn’t the piece I was missing. I had gone to the other extreme and was still left feeling unsatisfied.
After these valuable explorations—which turned out to be partly exciting, partly disastrous, and mostly fascinating—I re-evaluated what kind of commitment and freedom I personally wanted. I told the truth to myself without the pressure of trying to please anyone else. I found peace with being willing to be alone, while simultaneously being open to meeting a match for what I wanted.
Sure enough, exactly what I wanted showed up…but in a woman’s body. I had never considered being with a woman before. I thought I was straight. Talk about being open to new experiences and unattached to how they would manifest. Here was another opportunity to untangle a label and find my own truth about bi-sexuality. With a minor identity crisis and lot of self work, we successfully created what feels like balance for me in a relationship: a deep level of commitment and a lot of room for freedom.
What do we do when we are in a relationship and someone attractive gives us attention exactly the way we crave it?
In my experience, if you’re already in a relationship and you’re attracted to someone else, sleeping with them is an easy cop out. When my partner or I feel a connection with someone else, we apply our creativity and explore how else that connection could manifest. It doesn’t have to be sex. We are adults and our genitals don’t make our decisions. It could turn out to be friendship, a business colleague, or some other creative collaboration.
We talk about it openly, without blame and judgment, so there is no built up resentment. The key is that we allow each other to have connections outside the relationship. We can do this with full faith and security in our relationship.
The piece that had been missing for me was a combination of the depth and security of a monogamous relationship, along with the openness and freedom of a polyamorous one. And yes, you can have both!
For me, freedom doesn’t mean sex, and security doesn’t mean possession.
When some free-spirited people feel like they can’t have a connection with anyone else but their partner, they start to feel trapped and resentful. If you give them a long leash on the little things, most of the time that is enough.
With other security-minded people, they can’t let go until they feel that their partner isn’t going anywhere. Giving these types exactly what they need in terms of feeling secure allows them to let go of control. Holding back with them for fear of losing your freedom makes them hold tighter and ends up being a death sentence for your free spirit.
Important note: If you don’t feel like you can trust your partner, the question is why? Have they actually given you a reason not to, or are you allowing your own insecurity to make you irrationally fearful? If they have shown you that you cannot trust them, this article is irrelevant to your relationship. Why punish yourself by remaining in the unhealthy situation?
Consider this a life raft if you find yourself swimming alone in the huge ocean of relationship possibilities.
Step One: Clarity. Both partners write down what you each want in your relationship.
Let go of labels: It’s time to create your relationship from scratch. Getting clear about your values, your hidden desires, your needs, and what will make your relationship feel like an opportunity, instead of a form of voluntary prison that you and your partner feel trapped in. Love is not confining, it’s expansive. If it feels confining that’s not love. Those are parameters being put on love. In order to get what you want, you must allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask for it.
Step Two: Collaboration and listening. Show up with 100 percent of what you want and stick around to negotiate.
This requires proper setup and established fearless and compassionate communication skills. If you and your partner don’t have the kind of relationship established where you can have a conversation about sensitive information without getting into blame, judgement, and taking things personally, you may want to seek the professional help of a coach. Allowing your partner the freedom to desire, and the space to say exactly what they want, is sexy. Many times, couples realize there is an easy way for both to get what they want, once it’s out in the open.
Listen to your partner with intent curiosity, knowing there is a solution where both of your fantasies and desires can be met. Collaboration is about creating new agreements that better serve the relationship. It’s playful, it’s sexy, and it’s expanding. Comfort zones may feel stretched, but there is a sense of truth and creation that makes it all worth it. Getting out of the comfort zone is medicine for the tired relationship.
A note about inviting a “special guest” to your party:
Going further inside the relationship can be just as exhilarating as going out. Sometimes the depths of intimacy and orgasm between partners is what wants to be explored. Going deep with your partner allows for the shared safety to explore other connections. If the depth between you and your partner isn’t palpable and fully experienced on a regular basis, adding another energy to the mix can bring emotions that the relationship isn’t ready to handle.
Step Three: Personal responsibility. Meet your own needs and allow them to take care of theirs.
We alone are responsible for our needs being met. Standing up for what you want in your relationship is part of honoring yourself. Taking care of your own needs means you turn toward your partner for support; it means you take care of yourself so completely you are willing to be vulnerable about what you need from them. It means you don’t expect them to read your mind and get fussy when they fail to do so accurately. Once your own needs are fully met, it’s a natural human tendency to see how to you can meet the needs of your partner.
There are ways to navigate being in a committed relationship while allowing your partner to have agreed upon connections with other people. When you have built sufficient trust in a relationship and faced your own insecurity, giving your partner the freedom to connect with others is sexy. Learning to channel hormonal attraction into creative types of relationships opens up worlds. The giving of space feels good.
Observe what the main triggers of your insecurity are and have an honest conversation with your partner about them. Being honest and vulnerable about what triggers you helps free you from it. Jealousy grows when it’s suppressed, living on shame about its existence. If you bring your jealousy out of the darkness and into a compassionate environment enough times, it will disappear. If you are practiced at being jealous, then you will have to become practiced at letting go of shame and judgement by sharing your insecurity when it comes up.
As a sex and relationship coach who has been in many kinds of love and lust with both men and women—who is now thoroughly enjoying a deeply committed relationship—I have a unique and vast perspective on the value of throwing out what you think your relationship “should be” and creating the relationship that actually works for you and your partner.
Author: Jamie Thompson
Image: Courtesy of Author
Editor: Travis May