I recently had a great conversation in my Opening Up Support Group I knew I had to share (with their permission of course). All the folks in the group are in the beginning stages of opening their relationships and after weeks and months of ups and downs and navigating big changes (mostly really smoothly) they've gathered a lot of great experience and perspective.
Because I work with so many greta folks considering opening their relationships, I wanted to gather their thoughts looking back- what (if anything) would they change about how they started out?
I was most surprised to learn how many of them wouldn't change a thing- ups and downs and all. Those folks said the long-term outcome was gaining priceless self-awareness and for many a deeper commitment and connection to their partners. Looking back, they wouldn't change anything.
But the majority had some thoughts to share. I did my best to preserve their words just as they said them (save any identifying information). I share these with the hope they may help you navigate new openness with greater ease.
"I wish I had realized earlier it's really okay to have feelings for more than one person at a time. I mean, I knew it in theory, but it took a long time to really sink in and own it. This led me to lots of second-guessing."
"Sometimes losing a partner is less painful than staying with them."
"Yeah, and you have to be ready to do a lot of emotional labor. Relationships take work."
"I wish we would have taken things much slower. I would have hired Gina sooner for support to get us through the parts where we just couldn't figure things out. We needed an outiside opinion."
"I got carried away too. It was like a drug. All that outside attention really caused problems between [my partner] and I. ...Never make life-changing decisions quickly."
"I wish I had kept my self-care in check in the beginning. I totally stopped going to the gym when I was in NRE [New Relationship Energy]."
"I'd have taken things slower too. I don't know why we were in such a rush. It got overwhelming quickly and I kind of lost myself in it. I mean, it was fun, but I was drained. I needed to learn balance."
"Non-monogamy is a valid choice. Pure and simple."
"I wish I would have figured out how to connect with all parties involved sooner. I found out months in my boyfriend's wife was not consenting and the whole situation imploded."
"There's no one right way to 'do' polyamory."
"Equal is not the same as fair."
"Jealousy is natural. I wish I had accepted that and stopped spending so much time beating myself up about it. It's a natural emotion and there's nothing wrong as long as I don't expect my partner to fix it for me."
"All your same old relationship patterns are still going to be there when you start practicing non-monogamy. So if you are terrible communicators before you start, you'll still be after you're seeing other people but you'll have even more you need to talk about."
"Yeah, I'm a people pleaser. So seeing more people just meant more people to try to please. It was exhausting."
"I wish I was better at asking for what I need."
"It's ok to not be ok with something that your partner is doing."
"I needed to learn more about how to be okay with being alone before we got started. Poly FOMO is terrible."
I hope that helps those of you considering opening your relationship somewhere to start a conversation or a little self-work. If you'd like some support (or you want to join our group) set up a free call with me. I'd love to help you sort out what's best for you.
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.