open marriage

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.  

Bookend Rituals and Successful Open Relationships

bookending successful open relationships

When I started out serving folks in non-monogamous relationships many years ago there were VERY few resources and tools available that specifically focused on open relationships and polyamory.  So I spent years borrowing tools form other areas of psychology and tailoring them to meet the needs of our community.  

Enter "bookending," a concept from addiction recovery communities designed to help folks in recovery create intentional structures when they knew potentially triggering events were coming near.  

For example, someone in recovery for alcohol use might set up bookend structures like a call to a sponsor before and after they attend a wedding where a lot of drinking could occur.  By creating a purposeful strategy they're setting a mindset for more positive interactions.

And by reaching out to someone who cares they're combatting the shame often debilitates people in recovery processes.  Shame prefers isolation and secrecy.  

Some people opt for more introverted bookend supports.  They might outline a self-care plan for before and after an event, they might text a friend or review their personal accountability agreements before and after to honor their growth and continued progress.

So what does this have to do with open relationships?

Non-monogamy is not the same as addiction.  But the experience of triggering and overwhelming emotion couples with high-reactivity that comes up in many people can lead to a similar shame spiral felt by those in recovery. And it can feel like reactions are out of control in a very similar way.  

Plus, these reaction/shame spirals can damage relationships in similar ways to the outcomes in addition relapse. Not the same, but similar. 

So I ask my couples to anticipate potentially triggering events on their path to non-monogamy and create individual and relationship/couples bookends around them.  

Individual Bookends = self-care plans to support your integrity and health and manage reactivity that could arise.

Relationship/Couples Bookends = practices of rituals that nourish your connection before and after the event.

Here's an example:

Kelly and Thomas have decided to open their relationship after six years of monogamy and want to start by meeting people on OkCupid.  They anticipate having threesomes and dating separately in the coming weeks and months.  

When I ask them to identify potentially triggering events they gave me four right off the bat:

  1. When their online profiles go live
  2. When one of them "clicks" with someone online
  3. When they have their first date with a third person as a couple
  4. When either of them has their first solo date

Each of these triggering events carries different meaning and different potential emotional triggers for the two of them so I'm not going to go into all three (Kelly, Thomas, and their couple) bookends for each here.  But I will outline them for the first example (online profiles going live) below.

Kelly Self-Care Bookends:

"I plan to take a run the day our profiles go live to help me get rid of excess anxiety.  I also want to talk to my individual therapist beforehand and then I have a girlfriend who knows what's going on I plan to call if something intense comes up."

Thomas Self-Care Bookends:

"I already made an appointment with a new therapist for the day we picked to go live.  I think it will help me to use the Self-Control app to block the website once we make it live so I don't check the app all night.  I told my good friend at work what's going on and we're getting breakfast the next morning I I need to debrief (if not we'll just have a good hang out)."

Couple/Relationship Bookends:

Kelly, "I'm going to feel better about this if we have time to cuddle before we publish our profiles."

Thomas, "Yeah, that'd be sweet.  We should make dinner and just chill a bit before we do it."

Kelly, "What about after?"

Thomas, "We can just take the dog for a long walk together.  I like our walks."

Kelly, "Great.  And I will make sure I turn the app off that night so I don't get distracted from our connected night either."

If you want help creating these kind of bookend practices to support your relationship's health as you start opening things up I'm happy to talk with you.  Set up a free consult, I have room right now.


bookending successful open relationships

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.  

Compersion is a Lofty Goal

compersion in polyamory | open relationships and compersion

Dear ones, I shot you a quick video about compersion because, well, it comes up a LOT in sessions about open relationships.  And honeys, a lot of you are way too hard on yourself about not feeling all compersion-y when you start out in non-monogamy.  

Yes, compersion (feeling joy for another's joy or love when seeing your partner experience another love) is a beautiful thing.  It can feel really wonderful to share.  But it is extremely uncommon in beginning open relationships.  

Many people go YEARS without really experiencing compersion in a polyamorous context.

It's not impossible, but what I know to be true is for most folks their internal pressure to "get over it" when experiencing (totally normal) jealousy, insecurity, and anxiety and pressuring themselves to feel compersion instead only makes it harder to get there.  

Ease up dear ones.  Give yourself a little compassion and patience.  Allow yourself to feel your feelings.  Practice self care.  And please, recalibrate your goals from compersion to simply managing reactivity, finding peace, acceptance, ease, or comfort in non-monogamy.  You can always bring yourself around to compersiontown later.   

Be well, Gina


open relationship help | polyamory advice | compersion

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.  

Is it about polyamory or do you just want to leave?

polyamory counselor portland polyamory couples therapy

So your long-term monogamous partner just told you they want to open your relationship up.  Odds are you've wondered if they really want an open relationship, or if they're looking to leave you.  

This is one of the biggest fears people face when their partner brings up open relationships.  

It's a valid question, in ten years of working with couples opening up, about 30% ultimately decide they want to break up.  Lots of folks start dreaming of non-monogamy when what they're really dreaming about is escape or change.  

But that leaves nearly 70% of the couples I've seen who do want to stay together- and somehow add other people to the mix.  I want to emphasize that the majority of folks I see want to (and ultimately do) stay together.  

But how can you determine which group you fall into?  Here's what I look for when I work with newly open relationships.

Do you still have emotional energy to invest in this relationship?

All relationships require some emotional energy and maintenance work.  One of the simplest indicators of your interest to stay in a relationship is if you are willing to invest emotional energy in the relationship.  

If you're not willing to keep improving your current relationship and learning to love each other better this can be a pretty clear message you are ready to leave.

How will you continue to cultivate connection with your original partner?

The difference between typical dating and being in an open relationship is that there is a relationship in the picture.  If none of your dreams about life post-monogamy include your relationship this could be an indicator you want to leave.  

I'm not saying you have to include threesomes or shared partners in your vision of the future.  But if you can't think of tangible ways you will work to stay connected to your original partner it might be time to leave.

Are you still open to the input of your original partner?

There's been plenty of research on successful couples showing that accepting your partner's influence is critical in long-term happiness.  Here's what that actually means:

  • Do you care how your partner feels?  
  • Are you willing to talk with them about their emotions and experiences?
  • Will you take their input into your decision-making process?
  • Are you willing to really consider their perspective?  

Many of the couples I see in that 30% group want to pursue an "open relationship" where they each "do whatever they want" without talking.  It is extremely rare for that kind of open marriage to work out because it is not essentially an open relationship, it's likely dating or solo polyamory.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to date or practice solo-poly, but moving in that direction is usually in direct opposition to having an ongoing relationship.  Think about how much input and influence you really can be open to moving forward.  

Accepting influence from a partner is one of the cornerstones differentiating consensual non-monogamy from infidelity, dating, or solo-polyamory.

Why choose a relationship with this specific partner now?

This is the big one.  Every day you are in a relationship you choose to stay in it.  You have the power to chose to leave, to chose a single life, or to choose other partners- but for some reason you've chosen this partner right now.  

It's shocking how many times I ask this question and people can't identify a specific reason why they're staying with this person.  They tell me they're sure they love this person- but when I ask why they can't give me a reason. 

Or often the reason is outdated.  Maybe they used to love something about this partner and they're hoping that something will return.  Or they've changed over time but haven't updated their reasons to stay in this relationship with that personal growth.  

If you can't look at the person you're with and list clear and specific reasons you're choosing to commit to a relationship with them today, it's a good time to invest in some relationship work.  

Successful long-term couples work to stay curious about one another.  It's not easy, but staying invested in learning about your sweetie is another well-researched critical piece of relationship health.

Notice how interested you are in getting to know your partner again.  Are you curious about them?  Are you open to learning how they have changed in time?  There are lots of great ways to strengthen your partnership and reconnect (whether you decide to open things or not). - I help a lot of folks with this.  Call me if you want assistance.

A real lack of interest in getting to know your partner more might be an indicator you're moving in different directions.  

Next Steps

I hope these questions help you get some clarity about your interest in staying together.  I made a simple reflection guide to help you dive deeper into these questions.  

Download the relationship worksheet by clicking below.

If you want more personalized attention call me for a consultation.  I'm happy to talk with you about your relationship goals.


polyamory counseling online couples therapist for non-monogamy

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

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, insecurity or codependency
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns 
  • open your relationship and practice polyamory with care

Call me for a free consultation to rethink your relationship.

 

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

You Asked, I Answered: Questions About Polyamory

open marriage poly questions | polyamory advice | nonmonogamy | open relationships

I get asked a lot of great questions about my work- especially my work with polyamory and non-monogamy.  Here's a short list of the most commonly asked questions about open relationships.  

Read more of the most frequently asked questions by my clients here

poly questions | polyamory advice | nonmonogamy | open relationships

Do you believe polyamory or monogamy is healthier?

I don't think relationship health is determined by the number of partners involved- but I do believe it can be measured by the level of communication, empathy, trust, and connection experienced by partners.  

For some people open relationship structures are overwhelming.  And for others monogamy is stifling.  I don't think you always have to choose one or the other, but I want all my couples to be able to openly discuss these with kindness and ease.

How did you learn about open relationships?

I became interested in couples work when I was in graduate school studying couples counseling.  I was fortunate to study in a holistic program that emphasized non-traditional therapeutic styles.  I was also really lucky to intern at the Gottman Relationship Research Institute when I finished school and really learn about strengthening trust in relationships.  

I wrote my final research on non-monogamy in couples therapy and have only expanded my research and education since then.  I left the profession of mental health therapy in 2016 to focus on coaching this population.

Does non-monogamy really work?

Absolutely.  If you define "working" as being together a long time, I will tell you I've supported couples who are married or who have been together for 14, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.  

If you define "working" by being generally satisfied with your relationship, supporting one another's growth, feeling empathy and desire for your partner I will tell you I've supported couples who are married and/or who have been together for 4, 17, 22, and over 40 years while practicing many forms of nonmonogamy.

But to make non-monogamy work, you need to be willing to do some work.  That's where I can help you.

Do you work with monogamous couples?

Even for clients who choose monogamy, it can be important to know this is a specialty of mine. These clients love working with me because I apply the same open non-judgmental approach to my work with all couples.  

I love all kinds of love - monogamous love too!

What about affairs in polyamorous relationships?

Affairs happen in both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships.  I work with couples to rebuild trust and overcome jealousy every week in session.  I have helped hundreds of couples move forward after an affair.  (Read more about my work with infidelity here)

I can to help you build and repair trust no matter your relationship structure. Schedule a consultation to get started with me here. 

Are you poly/open/non-monogamous?

Yup.  But I won't give you a lot of information about my relationship structure beyond that because if we're going to work together I want to keep the focus on you.  


sex counselor in portland sex therapist | couples therapist portland sexuality counselor

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

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

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).

Ask Me Anything: Opening a 15 Year Marriage?

relationship advice | polyamory advice | open relationship help

Ask me anything is a relationship advice column run by Gina Senarighi, a former therapist turned sex educator and sexuality counselor who offers online support for non-traditional couples.  

Submit your Ask Me Anything question right here.  Or Read more Ask Me Anything here.

This Week's Open Marriage Question:

In your professional opinion, is it even fathomable to think a marriage after 15 years could ever be an open one?

First, yes I think it's fathomable and possible to have a healthy open marriage after monogamy.  I help a lot of people do exactly that in my work every single day.

But my experience has shown there's a bit of work to do before opening up after so many years of monogamy.  Usually, one partner feels some surprise when it's brought up.  Often they thought they'd be monogamous their whole life and even talking about nonmonogamy feels like a huge foundational shift.  

So before we can get to practicing nonmonogamy we've got to work on even talking about opening your marriage without real emotional reactivity (jealousy, insecurity, shock, or anger) on one side and growing tension (resentment, frustration, and impatience) on the other.  

I've seen many couples choose to open their marriage and some who do not.  Either way, navigating this initial conversation often leads to greater connection and understanding.  

Instead of getting caught up in thinking through details of polyamory I invite you and your partner to use this as an opportunity to reconnect.  See if there's a way this can bring you closer together.  Many times the conversation has led away from practical non-monogamy and instead toward the need to create a new vision for your next chapter together.  

If your partner tells you they want an open marriage after many years of monogamy it can feel like you're no longer on the same page.  Starting from some shared visioning can help ease the pressure to nail down details of polyamory and instead will help you two get back on the same page.

Think about it this way, if you founded a business with someone fifteen years ago you would likely bring in an advisor or coach, maybe an accountant or bookkeeper, and likely a lawyer to create contracts and agreements you can uphold in your business partnerships.  Then (in a healthy business) you might meet with them and your partner annually to revisit your strategic plan, create new goals, and renegotiate your contracts with one another.  

Your business would grow and change a lot in fifteen years.  You would revisit your mission and vision for the work you do together on a somewhat regular basis- no big deal, just good business.

Lots of healthy businesses thrive this way- but we rarely apply this kind of intentionality in our personal relationships.  If you're like most relationships you may have assumed some baseline you set fifteen years ago would hold you together for life- without ever discussing it.  

But the truth is, neither of you is the same people you were fifteen years ago.  I'm asking you to consider this an opportunity to reinvest in your marriage and get closer to your wife by reestablishing your relationship vision and goals together (aside from the non-monogamy discussion).  

Get on the same page again, and then talk more about opening up.  Maybe it fits in your vision, and maybe it doesn't.  But most couples I see being up open marriages after many years need a little foundational repair before we can start a healthy conversation about openness.  

I hope that helps.  If you want to talk more please set up a free consultation, I'm happy to help.  


relationship advice \ open relationship advice column | polyamory advice

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

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

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).

Before you talk about opening your relationship talk about this

open relationship | prepare for open relatoinship

Every nearly-non-monogamous couple I've worked with has missed this one critical step and I just can't go one without addressing it.  

We can't start a conversation about non-monogamy without understanding monogamy. 

I know you think you understand it.  Almost every couple I work with thinks they have a working definition of monogamy.  But so far, NONE of my couples have ever talked about specifically what monogamy means in their relationship.  

None.  Zero.  Zip. 

We walk through life in partnerships with this (pretty big) gap in clarity about what we expect from each other.  This is a problem.  

Most of us assume we mean the same thing when we say we're monogamous- but all too often we don't.  Here are some of the many areas I have seen people face extreme misunderstandings about monogamy.  

What does "monogamy" mean to you?

Check out the questions below to start examining your own working definition of monogamy.  If you haven't talked about these things in your relationship, please do before talking about opening things up.

Kissing

Plenty of folks will say kissing other people is off limits.  But many of them make exceptions for same-sex kissing (if they are straight) r opposite-sex kissing (when they are gay).  They tell me it "doesn't count."

There are also plenty of cultures where kissing is the norm.  Not just international cultures, but friend circles, families, and spaces based on tradition can be the norm.  Kissing cheeks, hands, faces, or lips... it "doesn't count" because it's not erotic.  

Which may be the case, but how do you know when kissing is and isn't erotic for someone?  When is kissing okay in your relationship?  When do you share it with others?

Touching

This is the big one where I see people get into trouble.  Some of my couples don't touch other adults- ever.  But most hug friends, or might hold hands with friends.  

Some even snuggle with people they care about and I've seen it become a problem for partners- when it hasn't been discussed.

I'm always surprised when I bring up dancing with other people.  Some folks are very sensitive about sharing intimate dancing with others.  Others love to grind on a dance floor with strangers but would never dream of slow dancing with anyone but their partner.  

If you've never talked about what monogamous touch means to you, now's a great time to start.

Emotional Intimacy

Are there special secrets you share with others?  Do you have certain closeness or fondness for people outside your romantic relationship?  What do you do when those feelings and friendships arise?  

Are there certain pieces of information you want to keep private between you and your partner?  Odds are, there's something they know about you that you'd prefer kept between you.  How can they meet your privacy expectations if you don't tell them?

Spacial Intimacy

Many of the monogamous couples I work with have unsaid expectations about spaces they share with people outside their relationship.  Do you enter a bedroom alone with a friend's spouse?  Will you travel alone with people your partner might find threatening?  

If we're not clear about what kinds of spaces or behaviors indicate intimacy with our partners it becomes very easy for them to misstep.  

Sex with other people

This seems like the most obvious topic to cover, and is usually where people begin to define non-monogamy.  But many of the people I've worked with have sex with other people and still define their relationships as monogamous. 

Some of them have shared partners and experiences.  I once had a client say, "If we're all present, then it's within the confines of our marriage bed."  

And similar to kissing (above) many of them have caveats for non-emotive sex, or sex with people of other genders.  I've had many straight couples tell me they don't view lesbian sex as threatening or "real sex" and therefore it "doesn't count."

I'm not suggesting one definition of monogamy should (or could) work for everyone here.  But I am certain clarity about your own and your partner's definitions is a helpful discussion to have before exploring non-monogamy.  


gina senarighi | poly counselor portland | polyamory portland

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

She can help you:

  • rediscover passion in long-term relationships
  • repair trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move past jealousy, insecurity or codependent patterns
  • open your relationship or practice polyamory with care
  • resolve sexual dysfunction and disconnect
  • break unhealthy communication patterns in your relationship

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).

Are You Ready for Polyamory?

Ready for Polyamory | Uncommon Love Poly Counseling in Portland

Lots of us think about trying polyamory, open relationships, or non-monogamy in relationships after successful monogamy- but how do you know if you (and your relationship) is ready for that change?

I've been working with open relationships for years and have identified four key questions to consider to know if polyamory is right for you and your relationship.  

Ask yourself the following questions to get clear.

 

Polyamory Self-Check Questions:

1.  What do I really want?

Lots of folks come to me thinking they want nonmonogamy in their relationship because they philosophically agree with the concept- but they have no idea what they want.  Spend a little time getting clear about what you might want.  Here are some more questions to help:

Who do you want to be involved with?

What do you hope to share with these people?

When or where might you connect with them?

2.  What do I have to give?

Open relationships often sound like a lot of fun- you get more affection, sex, and friendship for example- but when considering them we rarely consider the energetic commitment we're making as poly people.  Relationships take work, and more relationships means more work.  

Do you have the free/flexible time, physical energy and emotional energy (this is a big one) to invest in multiple relationships?

3.  How do I (and we) cope when things are really hard?

First experiences in open relationships can bring up lots of unexpected self-learning - often some of the most challenging learning we can face.  

If you and/or your partner have a hard time managing emotional reactivity, insecurity, and/or loneliness I highly recommend in learning some self-care and self-soothing practices before attempting non-monogamy.

4.  How do we resolve conflict now?

Adding more people to a relationship means more variables and often this means more opportunity for misunderstandings.  If you and your sweetheart have a hard time resolving misunderstandings as is adding more partners to the mix will only further complicate things.  

Take some time to work on your conflict resolution together before starting an open relationship.  

Start your open relationship with confidence.  Use these questions to help lay a foundation for successful non-monogamy.  

Download this free self-check tool to expand your self-awareness and prepare for healthy polyamory.


Gina Senarighi Sex Positive Counseling in Portland

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, 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).

 

Benefits of Polyamory

Benefits of Polyamory | Uncommon Love Open Relationship Counseling in Portland

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 benefits to choosing an open relationship.

 

Common Benefits of Nonmonogamy

I don't feel confined

Plenty of people choose nonmonogamy to experience more freedom or autonomy in relationships- and open relationships can certainly provide freedoms.  

Successful nonmonogamous couples are able to acknowledge attraction to people outside the relationship without creating turmoil- even if that attraction is never acted upon.  That simple freedom releases a lot of tension for many couples (even monogamous ones).

Monogamy didn't work in the past

So many of my couples tell me they came to the decision to try polyamory because their past relationships involved cheating and they want to create more open communication moving forward.  

Even couples who haven't experienced infidelity often tell me they simply don't believe (philosophically or politically) in the traditional monogamous paradigm.  They want to break free from that model.

I get diverse sexual experience

One benefit to nonmonogamy can be sex with more people.  More people means diverse and different experiences.  You get to explore more with more people.

I get diverse romantic and emotional experience

Often overlooked, another great benefit to nonmonogamy is the diversity of emotional connections and kinds of relationships possible.  More people means diverse and different experiences.  You get to explore more with more people- emotionally.

I don't feel pressure to meet all my partners' needs

While polyamorous couples certainly care about their partners' needs, they can let go of the pressure to meet all of them (ie. "you complete me").  

Increased personal growth/self-awareness

If you want to work on your shit (jealousy, attachment, abandonment, codependence, insecurity, judgment...), polyamory is certainly a fast-track to personal development.  I'm not suggesting polyamorous people are highly enlightened and have worked everything out, but to be successful you have to commit to some self-work.  And if self-work is your interest this can be a major benefit to nonmonogamy.  

 

 

If you want support 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).

 

Polyamory Vocab Lessons: Polyamory

Polycule | Portland Poly Counseling | Polyamory Counseling in Portland

Dear readers, 

I work with so many couples who are considering open relationships and so many of you have asked for some basic facts in polyamory, nonmonogamy and open relationships.  

I decided to start breaking down some of the most commonly used terms in the wide field of nonmonogamy.

Of course, every individual and relationship is different, so it is important to get clear with people about what they mean by these terms (especially if you're considering an intimate relationship with them).  

You could ask any of the following questions:

"Lots of people use that term, what does it mean in your relationships?"

"I know that can actually mean a lot of things, wow does {term} actually play out in your life?"

These conversations will also help you get clear about what to call your own relationship.  

I'll keep adding more terms over time so check back time to time to learn more.  

This week's focus: Polyamory

As we know, non-monogamy is an umbrella term that includes lots of different kinds of relationships.  Polyamory or poly community is one of the possibilities that falls under the umbrella of nonmonogamy.

Some basic general information on polyamory:

Most basically, polyamory means many loves. But because the word love means different things to different people polyamory is different in each and every relationship.  

Polyamorous people live in all parts of the US (and the world), identify as many different genders and sexual orientations, and participate in all sorts of relationship arrangements.

Some polyamorous relationships include shared partners, community and friends making a large web of supporters and chosen family.  

Some, but not all poly people participate in BDSM and kink community.

Some, but not all poly people are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  

Many members of poly community are straight and are legally married, but have additional lovers and/or partnerships.  Some choose to live together and parent with individual or multiple partners.

 

One of the best things about being polyamorous is the freedom to create and tailor the relationship structure(s) that best serve you and your partner.  

Polyamorous relationships also often include more understanding and agility for relationship change, growth and development over time.  

Polyamory Resources:

Openingup.net

My favorite resource for all my nonmonogamous couples.  This site covers the full range of possibilities in open relationships and the book dives into many scenarios outlining how specific couples create polyamorous networks that work for them.  

Morethantwo.com

For couples considering more romantic or emotional connections with partners, More Than Two is my go-to resource to find balance and maintain connection while incorporating other people into the relationship.  More than two focuses mostly on polyamory.

Poly in the Media

This resource tracks news and events related to all things polyamory.  If you're ever feeling alone as a poly person you can easily find information on others living a polyamorous life here.

Lovemore.com

The only nationwide magazine dedicated to polyamory, Love More also hosts conferences and poly events throughout the country.

Polyamory On Purpose

One of the better practical blogs of poly-related information for oply families, legal issues, financial stressors and more.

Poly Weekly

A podcast about polyamory and the people who choose this kind of open relationship.

If you are considering opening your relationship give me a call for a consult.  I am happy to help:


Sex Counselor Portland | Portland Couples Counseling

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).