marriage trouble

Challenges of Polyamorous Relationships

Challenges of Choosing POlyamory

Nearly every couple I work with wants to know the pros and cons of choosing an open relationship.  You can read these previous posts to learn more about the benefits and reasons people choose polyamory or nonmonogamy.  

 

Today I want to share a list of the most common challenges in open relationships.  

 

The Challenges of Choosing an Open Relationship

 

  • More emotional work

All relationships require emotional work, but choosing more relationships means choosing more emotional work, conversations, and reflection.  If you're not into processing, reflecting, listening, and empathizing polyamory might not be a great fit for you.

  • Not enough time

The number one complaint I hear from long-term couples is a lack of time.  Most of us have trouble managing our schedule with only one partnership- try taking a look at your schedule and seeing where you would fit in time to give focused energy to more people in your day or on a regular basis- it gets challenging real fast.

That's not to say you can't make it work (google calendar is a great resource here) but if you are already very busy you might want to consider how you structure your time before diving into more relationships.

  • Lacking (perceived) relationship security

This one is really hard for some folks but it is completely true.  Even though we know the statistics (that 80% of relationships involve infidelity) lots of people feel more secure pretending that security is real.  For some people, that security (even imagined security) is just too important.  If that's you, nonmonogamy might not be your jam.

  • More miscommunication

More communication with more people means more opportunity for miscommunication.  Before you start to open your relationship consider your skills around resolving miscommunication.  You might want support from a therapist or coach to help you deal with the kinds of misunderstandings that arise in polyamory.

  • Feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity

Ideally, we would all move past jealousy into a place where we feel nothing but compersion (the loving appreciation/admiration we feel when our partner experiences something great with someone else) but we don't live in an ideal world.  

Most of us wrestle with jealousy from time to time.  Facing these feelings is a real challenge for many people practicing polyamory.

  • Stigma

There are all kinds of messages we receive in our culture about how to do relationships "right" and almost all of those tell us heterosexual monogamy is the best/healthiest relationship model out there.

These messages are so strong, many of us internalize them and experience real shame about our relationship choices.  Overcoming this stigma is a significant challenge for many of the open relationship clients I see. 

  • Finding community and support

Because nonmonogamy still carries a stigma, it can be really difficult for people to come out to co-workers, family, and children.  Many of the couples I support site this as a real challenge to finding support for their relationship (as well as finding other partners).  

It's not impossible, but finding a supportive community for your unique relationship can be a real challenge.

 

If you want support overcoming these challenges as you open your relationship give me a call for a consultation.  I'm happy to help you nurture your relationship (monogamous or otherwise).


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).

 

How to Deal When Your Partner Has a Crush

Dear Ones, 

My clients often come to me when they are just beginning the open relationship/non-monogamy journey and one of the most difficult period of growing pains is when one of you gets their first crush.  

If you have been practicing traditional monogamy this can really be difficult.  Most couples don't practice acknowledging attraction to other people when in a relationship, so acknowledging the attraction alone can seem like a huge leap.

That said, with some care and honesty you can easily get through this together.  Here are a few things to focus on:

Acknowledge other people are attractive.  

It's true and if this is going to work out you are going to have to face it.  Other people are attractive.  Pretending this is not true only forces you and your partner to be dishonest with each other.  

Even if you never have intimacy with another attractive person, being able to openly acknowledge other people are in fact interesting, smart, funny, or beautiful allows you an opportunity to learn and connect at a deeper level.  

Understand other people's attractiveness does not diminish yours.

Many of us like to believe a fantasy that we are the only smart, special, funny, interesting, or beautiful person in our partner's life.  However, clinging to that fantasy puts undue stress on the relationship, both for you to try to be all of those things and for your partner to try to get all their needs met just with you. 

We fear that if someone else is funny, smart, interesting, or beautiful that makes us less so.  Fortunately there is plenty of funny, smart, beautiful and interesting to go around in this world.  You are still all of those things even if someone else is too. 

Getting stuck in comparison will only bring you pain.

Practice self-soothing.

Your emotions are yours to take care of.  It would be nice to hand off all our emotional responsibility onto our partner to "make us" feel more confident and secure, but the kind of confidence we get from others isn't as long-lasting as the kind we build for ourselves.

When you find insecurity and distrust comes to visit practice focusing on gratitude for your awesome relationship instead of fear you will lose it.  Start a gratitude list in your head to remind yourself why you want to hang onto this relationship.

When comparison and insecurity start to sneak around remember why you are special and important.  Do something that helps you feel great about yourself.  Surround yourself with people who you feel strong around.  

Do things to remind yourself instead of depending on your sweetheart to remind you.

Ask for reassurance.

Once you have practiced self soothing it is perfectly fine to ask for specific acts of reassurance.  Think about a time you felt really strong about your relationship and remember what you and your sweetheart were doing.  What specific behaviors helped you feel so safe and strong?  Ask your partner to engage in those with you now.

Sometimes I see clients mistake information for reassurance. They ask a lot of questions or start doing detective work about the crush as a way to find security.  Usually that kind of information really only feeds comparison and insecurity.  Instead try engaging in specific behaviors that build you up together (instead of secretly internet searching for information, checking phones, or other detective work).  

You can totally get through the first crush one of you has, but it will take care and intention.  If you want help moving through this difficult time please set up a free consultation with me.  

Gina

 


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).