Healthy Open Relationship Examples: Jennifer & Brian's Case Study

open relationship examples | case studies in open relationships | successful open relationship

Name: Jennifer (38) & Brian (37)

OCCUPATION: Grant Writer & Marketing Executive

HOMETOWN: Portland, Oregon, USA

MET:  at a friend’s dinner party 

TOGETHER: 12 years together, 8 years married and monogamous

FORMAL COMMITMENTS (Spiritual, Financial, or Legal): legally married, most finances shared, two kids (Tyler 10 and Rowan, 6), one dog (Coco)

 

WHY DID JENNIFER & BRIAN WANT COACHING?

IN THEIR WORDS:

Jennifer: “I’ve come to some realizations that make a lot of sense, but they put other things in question.  I’ve always had a really strong connection with other women, but just didn’t really take bisexuality seriously until I met someone this year. I don’t think it’s a big surprise to anyone.  And I know I still love Brian and want to be with him, but I feel like this is a part of me I never got to figure out.  So we found Gina because we’re hoping polyamory or an open relationship might be a way for me to be with women without ending our marriage.”

Brian:  “I love her and I want her happy.  I’m just not sure how to make space for her to do what she needs to do and still feel like things are fair between us. I don’t want to feel like I just get left at home with the kids while she’s out meeting people.  But in all honesty, I’m not that interested in dating anyone else either.”

Jennifer: "We're both most worried about what this could do to our kids, or their friends at school if anyone finds out. I mean, it's a pretty liberal school as far as gay people go, but this is something else."

Brian: "That is the biggest concern for sure. They're pretty young now, but soon they'll be asking questions.  I don't know what we'd tell them or the other parents at soccer for example."

Download their full case study to learn where Jennifer & Brian's non-monogamy path took them.


nonmonogamy examples | healthy nonmonogamy examples | healthy polyamory examples

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Signs You Have a Boundary Problem

SIGNS YOU HAVE BOUNDARY ISSUES | BOUNDARY PROBLEMS | RED FLAGS

Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, trustworthy and caring. Boundaries set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.

If you're often uncomfortable with other peoples' treatment of you, it's likely time to reset your boundaries. Weak boundaries leave you vulnerable and likely to be taken for granted.  They also cause you to build resentful distance between you and the people you love most.

Common Boundary Violations

With that said, it can be difficult to identify when boundaries are an issue for you.  Here are a few signals to look for if you want to see where boundary problems lie in your relationship:

  • Saying “yes” to your partner, when in fact you’d rather say “no”
  • Saying “no” when it might be perfectly appropriate to say “yes” – this is often done to keep a partner at arm’s length, or punish him or her.

Good boundaries require authenticity and honesty. Neither of these behaviors are honest ways to communicate.  They leave huge gaps for misunderstanding and missing intimacy.

  • Making your partner read your mind instead of saying specifically what you’re thinking or feeling
  • Trying to control your partner’s thoughts or behavior through aggressive or subtle manipulation

Again, using indirect communication is a surefire way to create misunderstandings.  Not saying what you really wants sets your partner up for failure- they're sure to let you down at some point.  Not asking for what you want directly won't give your partner the opportunity to learn the best ways to love you.

Both of these kinds of manipulations will lead to conflict and hurt eventually.  You can avoid the hurt by getting clear and being direct about what you want to see happen between you.

 

Here are some tips that can help you establish and maintain healthy boundaries:

  • Communicate your thoughts and feeling honestly, with specificity and clearly. Whenever possible, be honest but respectful in sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Yes, this is a vulnerable action to take, but with careful communication vulnerability is the key to building trust in relationships.
  • Ask your partner what they are feeling instead of trying to guess. Mind-reading is not your responsibility.  And no matter how connected you are, it is impossible to know what your partner wants or is thinking in every situation. If each of you reflects on your own thoughts and feelings, and takes responsibility for putting them into words you will grow deeper understanding. 
  • Take responsibility for your actions. All relationship dynamics are co-created. Instead of blaming your partner for how you feel, ask yourself how your choices (intentional or otherwise) contributed to the situation.

Healthy boundaries take practice. Most of us were not trained to have these kinds of conversations in our families. But with practice you will be better able to identify where the boundary lines are between you.

As a result, trust and connection will only grow stronger and more secure between you over time.


boundaries in relationships | healthy relationship boundaries | how to have boundaries | boundary issues

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I can help you:

  • change communication & codependent relationship patterns
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity & manage intense emotions
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon.  And I've created a HUGE free relationship tool library available online for couples worldwide.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

How to Rebuild Trust in Relationships

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH

If you're facing trust issues in your relationship you're not alone.  Most of us are never taught how to be trustworthy (I mean more than being honest) or to repair trust with others.  So almost every relationship has a few trust issues.  

So today I wanted to share one of my favorite teachings on trust and a few tools to build trust in your own relationship.  

Are you in?

Brene Brown has been researching resilience in strong relationships for a long time, and in this video, she gives the main ingredients to cook up of trust in any partnership. 

She makes her research findings super easy to understand and apply to your daily life with all her vibrant examples and stories.  Check it out below. 

Then read on for reflection to share with your partner.

Key Ingredients for Trust in Relationships:

According to Brene there are seven main ingredients t build trust in relationships.  They are:

Boundaries - I will honor your boundaries and you respect mine

Notice the ways each of you may push on or pressure the other when they set a boundary.  Notice how you might pressure or push yourself to override your boundaries. 

Are there ways you could each be more respectful of each other and your own boundaries in this relationship?  (give specific examples)

Reliability - I do what I say I will do, and you do too.

Notice the ways you fail to follow through on promises.  How could you do a better job walking your talk with your partner and with yourself? 

Are there promises you still need to follow through on?  How can you hold yourself accountable for meeting them?  Are there some you can no longer meet?  How can you take responsibility for letting your partner down with those and be more aware (not to overpromise) in the future?

Accountability - I can own, apologize for, and remedy the hurts I cause, and I know you will do the same.

Are there apologies you're still waiting for in your relationship?  Can you imagine the ones your partner might be waiting for? Make a list and develop suggestions for how you'll handle each situation differently in the future.  Share it with your sweetie.

Vault - I trust you will hold what I say in confidence, and we each do this for others as well.

Think about the privacy boundaries you have between you.  Are there things you expect neither of you will share with others?  Think about the stories, traumas, reactions, and mistakes you've shared.  Is there anything you want to be kept just between you two?  How can you clearly state those boundaries so your partner can be sure they're a solid vault?

Integrity - I know we will both act with integrity, doing what is right instead of what is easy.

Think back over your time together.  How and when has each of you taken the high road?  Take a moment to recognize the ways you've each acted with integrity in the time you've known each other.

Then ask, how can I support you in doing what's right instead of what's easy moving forward?  What does meaningful support look like in this partnership?

Non-Judgment - I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without worrying about losing you (and you can with me too).

This one is a hard one- and it is so important.  Relationships with space for mistake-making and repair last longer than those without.  Take time to think about the times you've really shown up for one another in times of struggle.  What does meaningful support look like to each of you in those moments?  How do you know when each other in struggling?  How do you know your sweetheart is really there for you?  How do you want to be supported in future struggles?

Generosity - My default assumption is that you have the best intentions at heart- even when things get sticky.

Finally, this is the core of trust.  Can I give you the benefit of the doubt in moments of hardship?  How can I work to believe you would never hurt me?  How can I better communicate with my actions that I would never intend to hurt you?  

If you get stuck talking through these with a partner give me a call, I'd love to help you.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Open Relationship Success Stories: Amy & Mark's Case Study

open relationship examples | case studies in open relationships | successful open relationship

Name: Amy (41) & Mark (42)

OCCUPATION: Full-Time Parent & Contractor

HOMETOWN: Chicago, Illinois, USA

MET:  in high school geometry class

TOGETHER: 22 years together, 20 years married and monogamous

FORMAL COMMITMENTS (Spiritual, Financial, or Legal): 

legally married, all finances shared, three kids (Chris 18, Allyson 14, Mercer 12), two dogs (Filbert & Dallas)

WHY DID AMY & MARK WANT COACHING?

IN THEIR WORDS:

Amy: “We love each other and our life. I’m really proud of what we’ve built together and things between us are really good.  We’re great communicators and we are both really good parents.  But we’ve been together our whole lives and…”

Mark: “… there’s not the same kind of spark anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, when we have sex it’s great.  I think we both are really into it.  But we’ve only really been with each other all these years and...”

Amy: “…I think we both want to know more about what else is out there.  We never had the wild twenties phase everyone else had sleeping around.  I think we both might have good things to learn if we did a little exploring.”

Mark: “Plus I think it could sort of re-inspire us together.  Like if we do some “exploring” on our own we can bring that back to our time together for more adventurous stuff together.”

Amy: ”We’ve seen lots of friends over the years who were in our position start cheating.  That’s not something we’ve ever had to deal with- but I don’t want to see us end up there.”

Mark: “I also think that because I’ve only ever really been with Amy I’m not as confident as I could be trying new things.  I’m the guy you know.  I want to be a super confident lover. I think having other experiences could make me feel stronger.”

Download their story and read three other examples of healthy non-monogamy right here.


nonmonogamy examples | healthy nonmonogamy examples | healthy polyamory examples

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Open Relationship Advice: What Can I Ask About My Partner's Dates With Other People?

open relationship advice | nonmonogamy advice | polyamory advice

Being curious about your partner's new adventures, relationships and friendships is totally natural.  In fact, genuine curiosity (trying to get to know more about your partner without ulterior motives) is really healthy.

But sometimes when we're opening a relationship it gets pretty difficult to sort out the healthy curiosity from those other motives.  

Genuine interest in your partner and their experience is fine.  But honestly, you don't need a lot of detail (especially not about other people) to get connection with your sweetie. 

If you find yourself getting curious and aren't sure what's okay to ask- or what's too much use the reflection questions below to help guide your process.

Does this information intrude on anyone else's privacy boundaries?

First and foremost if the information involves another person (even if you're not crazy about that person) considering their boundaries and respecting their privacy has to be part of the equation too.  

Often I talk with couples who assume they'll share any and all information about dates- without checking with the dates. Instead, I urge you to get consent from the other folks you're seeing- is there anything they'd rather you not share?  

If you want a respectful relationship with them too, their boundaries have to be respected too.

How does it help me to know?

When you notice yourself getting curious about the details of your partners' dates pause and ask yourself how the information you're seeking will help you.  

For example: 

If I'm asking my partner about the restaurant they went to with a new date I want to be clear how the information will help me.  It might help me to know if the food was good, the service great, if they would go back- because I might be interested in going to that restaurant.

Or It might be helpful to know my partner had a good time and might want to hang out with this person again.  This might help me calibrate my expectations around further practice in nonmonogamy.

But it would not be helpful for me to get ensnared in comparison (or try to trap my partner in it) asking if they had a better time than with me, if the person was more attractive than me, or they kissed better. 

Comparison will never lead to connection in relationships. If you notice comparison showing up, write out what she's saying to you and notice any themes.  There may be important lessons in what she's trying to tell you- but those lessons can't come from your partner, only from reflection (or coaching).

How does this info impact me either way?

Of course you want information about things that will directly impact you.  And you are entitled to it.  But it can be easy to expand the impact further than is appropriate.

For example:

If I ask, "When will you be home?" I want to know because I want to make my own dinner plans and don't know if I'll see you for dinner. 

Or I want to know if I should go to bed before you're home vs waiting up. 

Or I want to know when I can use the shared car again.  

Or I want to know when I should start worrying if I haven't heard from you.

But when will you be home is different than, "Be home by eleven or I'll be worried."  Eleven doesn't directly impact me.  And worry is something we can create agreements to resolve.  

Why is it important to me right now?

This final question helps us clarify if we do have ulterior motives for asking- and what they are. 

This awareness helps us know what to do to reach the result we're looking for (usually connection or reassurance) in a direct trustworthy manner.

For example:

 If I ask, "Did you have a good time?" I might be trying to say:

"I'm really nervous about this and need some reminders you have fun with me." or

"When you stay out late I worry about your safety." or

"Do you still love me?" or

"Are you going to leave me?" or 

"Am I still special to you?"

Or any number of other things.  But by taking a beat to get clear and stating what you're really after you create a much deeper more authentic connection between you and your sweetie.  

If you want help working through these questions or applying them in your newly open relationship give me a call.  


polyamory coach | polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open relationship coach

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Taming Dragons: Responding to Vulnerability with Compassion

JEALOUSY AND VULNERABILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS | JEALOUS SPOUSE

Y'all, I've been talking about jealousy as dragon taming for a loooong time, and then today was talking with a colleague who told me Tara Brach has a similar approach.  

As I've said, jealousy often shows up like a dragon- fierce, rageful, vengeful, spitting fire, and leaving destruction.  Most folklore will tell us this.  But if we look to most of these stories, the dragon is actually tending and protecting something precious.  

When we shift our focus to that gold we're protecting the whole dynamic begins to change. Or so it has been in my work with jealousy (both personally and professionally).  

Tara Brach is a well-known author, meditation leader, and teacher.  She takes a different lens but comes to many of the same conclusions.  If you're struggling with jealousy (or other overwhelming reactive emotions) give this video a watch. 

Give the video your full presence and follow the meditation she leads.  Notice how applying kindness - yes, kindness- the more we can shift our experience, and often get at what we really want. 

WATCH HERE: 

Let me know what you think on my facebook page.  I'd love to hear from you!  

And if you'd like help working through difficult emotions, give me a call for a free consultation, I'm happy to be a support.  


jealousy and relationships | open relationships counselor | open marriage therapist

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I can help you:

  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Building a Secure Connection in Open Relationships

open relationship coach | open marriage coach | polyamory coach

Research on attachment theory in adult relationships has shown a sense of secure connection between romantic partners is key in positive loving relationships and a huge source of strength for individuals in those partnerships.  

But often when we talk about open relationships, the assumption is secure connections are impossible.  We assume intimate exclusivity and and security are synonymous.  

But this just isn't true.  

Attachment theory got it's start looking at parent/child attachment in young children.  Basically, it showed the more consistent and reliable a caregiver, the more secure the attachment for a child and this resulted in many positive outcomes for the youth. 

As we become adults we look for the same kind of reliable stable bond in intimate partnerships.  And those of us raised without secure bonds often replicate attachment patterns form our youth. 

When I was practicing therapy, I was told by many colleagues I couldn't "do" attachment work because I specialized in non-monogamy. But I counter that all of my work is attachment work. 

There isn't research saying a child can't have a secure bond with a parent if there are more children in the household.  And I would say the same about intimate adult partners.  

Security and exclusivity are not the same.  And masking exclusivity as security sets us up for failure. 

But I always want to know more so I turned to one of the leaders in studying adult relationships and healthy connections, Dr Sue Johnson.  Johnson founded a highly respected model of couples therapy called Emotion Focused Therapy centers on emotional connectedness, and distress repair from a positive framework.  It's very effective and has been used all over the world to help couples through difficult times.

I have yet to find direct comments from Dr Johnson on open relationships as they relate to her work and as I continue to comb through her writing I keep finding useful information for the clients I serve.  Here are some of the research findings on secure attachments from her book Hold Me Tight:

  • When we feel generally secure (comfortable with closeness and confident depending on our loved ones) we are better at seeking support and giving it to those close to us.
  • When we feel safely linked to our partners we more easily roll with the hurts they inevitable inflict and we're less likely to be hostile or aggressive when we're mad.
  • When we feel safely connected to others we understand ourselves and like ourselves more.
  • The more we reach out to partners the more independent and confident we feel as problem solvers.

In order to build this kind of connection Johnson outlines three areas to focus on:

Accessibility

A secure bond is where someone is predictably accessible to us (emotionally, physically, sexually, and affectionately).  It's knowing we can call for their attention and trust them to turn towards us with presence and attention, most of the time.

Responsiveness

I think of responsiveness as demonstrating empathy.  Our partner may not fix or resolve the problem we're facing, but when we call to them they will respond with warmth and genuinely connect with what we're going through.  Having a responsive partner means I don't have to face hardship alone.

Engagement

Engagement means giving our full presence to a partner.  Usually, this is where we feel we matter and are a priority to a partner. 

So of course non-monogamous couples can still exhibit accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement.  The question becomes how we keep these three critical elements of a secure bond nourished while we're also building bonds with others.  Most of the conflicts I help couples through come up when any of these aren't tended to.  

If you're considering an open relationship check in with your partner about how you can keep these three elements in balance as you begin seeing others.  Notice which behaviors help you feel more connected in these ways, and start a conversation about how you'll check in if they go out of focus.  

If you'd like help with that conversation, give me a call.  I'd love to help you nourish your connection.


polyamory coach | open marriage coach | open relationship coach

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnection
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Success Stories in Open Relationships: Cheyenne & Clay's Case Study

open relationship examples | case studies in open relationships | successful open relationship

Name: Cheyenne (26) & Clay (28)

OCCUPATION: Blogger & Personal Trainer

HOME TOWN: Living together in Eugene, Oregon, USA

MET:  At a March Fourth party in Portland, OR

TOGETHER: 2.5 years “Monogamish”

FORMAL COMMITMENTS (Spiritual, Financial, or Legal):  Shared bank accounts and pets (kittens: Tamarind and Musky) 

WHY DID CHEYENNE & CLAY WANT COACHING?

IN THEIR WORDS:

Cheyenne:  “I’ve always known monogamy is unrealistic.  The idea of just being with one person for the rest of my life seems… well, I haven’t seen it work for many people.  But I have never met anyone I wanted to be with a long time who I could really work on things like this with.  I want to figure out how to have an open relationship the right way.”

Clay: “I’m totally down with the idea of an open relationship, but once we start trying to talk through the day-to-day parts we get lost in logistics.  I’m all about figuring this out but we’re a little stuck.”

Cheyenne: “We’ve tried a few things with other people together, and more recently we each met other people at Beloved.  Now we don’t know what to do.  The first people we sort of one-time things, these new people are more like real relationships.”

Clay: “We’ve both been having trouble with these really intense emotions that come over us.  Like one day I’m fine –like really really fine with everything- and then all of a sudden I’m not and it gets pretty bad.” 

Cheyenne: “We’ve always been really good communicators.  I’ve never had a relationship so strong.  It’s like I didn’t know it could be this good.  But since Beloved there’s been a lot of tension and misunderstanding.”

Clay: “We know we want to stay together but I don’t know how we’re going to move forward.”

Download their full case study to learn more about how I worked with Cheyenne and Clay, and where their non-monogamy path took them.


nonmonogamy examples | healthy nonmonogamy examples | healthy polyamory examples

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Awkwardness in Open Relationships & Dating

POLYAMORY COACH - POLY COACH - OPEN RELATIONSHIP COACH

One thing that comes up really frequently in sessions with folks who are starting out in non-monogamy after a lifetime of default monogamy is how awkward it can feel. 

There are LOTS of valid reasons why this happens, and I wanted to share a few with you.  but before I dive in, I wanted to emphasize one critical skill to move through the awkward new beginning phase: self-compassion.  

Self-compassion is having the ability to recognize when things are off and loving yourself anyway. Learning to strive for greatness, acknowledge your growing edges, and love yourself all at once. 

It takes practice (just like dating while partnered) but there are lots of tools that can help you get there. Check this website for some great resources.  

Okay, now back to the main point.

Why it's awkward when you start opening your relationship:

BACK IN THE SADDLE

If you've been practicing monogamy in a long-term relationship, then reentering the dating scene can feel like a whole new world.  There are new apps, sites, groups, and places to meet folks and it can be a little overwhelming. 

Not to mention the courage it takes to put yourself out there meeting strangers. 

And then there's the hard truth that the majority of real dating doesn't match up with the fantasy you might have had coming into this.  I mean, sure, you'll meet some fantastic babes out there.  But the majority of dating is really spending time with nice people and have lukewarm connections you're not sure about until you do hit it off or meet someone else who you're more excited about.  Not quite as sexy as you may have hoped.

NEW TERRITORY

If you've been living a mainstream monogamous lifestyle until now, practicing ethical non-monogamy means a whole new world of language and clarity when talking about consent, boundaries, and expectations in your partnerships.  

Figuring out how, and when to bring these things up can be a little bumpy at first because you haven't practiced.  With time and practice, that awkwardness will go away and you'll be able to be clear and consistent with greater confidence.

ACKNOWLEDGING HOTNESS

Mainstream/default monogamy in our culture loves to pretend it's possible to be attracted to only one person for years (or a lifetime).  And while lots of people philosophically understand that simply cannot be true, few folks have any practice talking or hearing about other attractions in their partnerships.

As you begin talking about the attractions you're feeling come and go notice what shows up for each of you in your partnerships and give yourself plenty of time and space to feel through your reactions so you can learn from them.  

BALANCING NEW ENERGY

Many people who are new to non-monogamy simply haven't had much practice balancing time and sharing emotional presence with multiple partners. 

Being intentional and clear with your time and space boundaries will take a little practice- be patient with yourselves.

ME TIME

Starting out in non-monogamy can be really exciting, and I frequently see clients get a little carried away with the momentum of this big change.  It's not uncommon to lose track of your self-care routine, friendships, or get distracted from work and other passions.

 But in order to make a non-monogamous lifestyle sustainable you've got to have me time outside your new relationship(s).  Keep track of your self care needs to help you stay connected to your wellness routines, friendships, and other commitments even if it gets exciting.

TAKING NEW RISKS

For a lot of people the begining of ethical non-monogamy is also the first time they really start asking for what they want in relationships and setting boundaries and expectations.  This can be a monumental shift in the way you're doing relationships (it is for lots of people).  

So trying all that new self-connection, self-advocacy, and self-regulation can feel awkward, or unusual because it is new.  

KEEPING GROUNDED

Finally, beginning a practice of ethical non-monogamy with a partner can bring up intense and surprising emotions.  You'll want to build skills and practices that help you stay grounded even when those emotions show up, but to shift your responses you'll need to change things- and change often leads to a little awkwardness.  

WATCH ME

Here's a little video I posted on my facebook page about this very topic.  If you want to talk more about this (or about relationships in general) give me a call, I'd love to chat.


POLYAMORY COACH - POLY COACH - OPEN RELATIONSHIP COACH

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

20 Seconds & 20 Slides on Default Monogamy

Default Monogamy | Non-monogamy | Why Nonmonogamy is Better

I had the privilege of giving a talk at PechaKucha last month, it was Unity night and I guess I thought, "What a perfect night to bring non-monogamy to the conversation?" 

I was really nervous, as even in progressive Portland, Oregon mainstream audiences are a little skittish about non-monogamy.  Typically my work is met at dinner parties with bemused curiosity, blatant defensiveness, or awkward fetishization. 

I knew the audience would likely fit largely into the mainstream culture of default monogamy, and though my work focused on polyamory, open relationships and consensual non-monogamy, most of the work I do with couples is rethinking the cultural norms they've been taught about relationships.

Which mostly means, challenging deeply held patterns of default monogamy.  

So I decided to shift my talk's focus a little to how our culture of default monogamy is damaging relationships.  How if more monogamous couples held the bandwidth to acknowledge there is value in the emotional intimacy, inspiration, and curiosity brought out in relations with other people (even if it never becomes physical or sexual) they might be able to withstand the passing personal transformations that come with growing and changing over a lifetime.  

But if you know anything about PechaKucha, you know speakers are given a STRICT timeline and structure to follow.  Twenty seconds per slide and only twenty slides.  It sounded like a lot to me until I tried it.  Nothing has ever made me have to choose my words more carefully (right down to the syllable).  

Which meant I had to leave a lot out, but I'm really proud of what I was able to work in, and based on the conversations I had after the event, I certainly got people talking and thinking about evolving relationships in new ways.  

Watch the video below and let me know what you think on my facebook page.  I'd love to hear from you.  


Gina Senarighi | Polyamory Counselor | Nonmonogamy Therapist

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.