successful open relationship

Polyamory Success Stories: Beth & John's Example

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

Name: Beth (32) & John (35)

OCCUPATION: Author & Financial Consultant

HOMETOWN: New York City

MET:  while volunteering with the Peace Corps. 

TOGETHER: 7 years married, polyamorous since the beginning

FORMAL COMMITMENTS (Spiritual, Financial, or Legal):  legally married, finances shared, one kid (Emma, 3), two cats (Prince and Ivan)

 

WHY DID BETH & JOHN WANT COACHING?

IN THEIR WORDS:

Beth: “We’ve seen couples therapists and never lasted more than a session or two. They all seem to think polyamory is the cause of all our issues.  All we need it a little communication skills training here or there.”

John: “Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye and we get stuck in old patterns.  We say a marriage therapist but she just wanted us to stop seeing other people and barely talked about the things we brought up. We wanted something change-focused that wouldn’t shame our lifestyle.”

 

MY JOURNEY COACHING BETH & JOHN

Beth and John are a great example of healthy polyamory so I knew I wanted to include them in these case studies right away.  I picked them for a case study for these specific reasons:

  • I work with lots of clients brand-new to non-monogamy who want to hear examples of couples who make it work.

  • It is not uncommon at all for healthy poly folks to experience unintentional shame from the helping professionals they try to hire.

  • Even healthy couples need a communication tune-up every once in a while.

Read more about Beth & John's story (and those of three other successful open relationships) 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.  

Free Love vs Consensual-Non-Monogamy

FREE LOVE AND NONMONOGAMY POLYAMORY OPEN RELATIONSHIP OPEN MARRIAGE

I spoke with a client today about the troubles she's having with her girlfriend, and while there are a few unique elements most of what they're struggling with I've seen a hundred times before. 

The girlfriend doesn't believe in agreements or negotiating expectations before they meet at events. 

"She's more of a go with the flow kind of person." my client tells me.  She doesn't want to be confined by rules and thinks they connote ownership over each other in the partnership. 

The girlfriend lives in the moment and trusts her intuition and inner compass to guide her toward behavior that won't hurt anyone. Her relationships don't need to be defined and she's beautifully unattached to outcome in all of them.  

It's both inspiring to my client (one of her partners) and intimidating.  I've been working with this client for a while and she follows a much more intentional approach, focusing on longer-term commitments and ongoing partnership building. 

She's used to communicating expectations, negotiating plans with partners, and using more careful discernment to move through a (relatively new to her) non-monogamous world.

Neither of them is wrong in the way they practice non-monogamy. They're both up front with partners about the ways they approach relationships.  But they're also not on the same page.

This leads them to miscommunication when they go out. One of them wanting to clarify if and when they might play with others at play parties. The other wanting to follow inspiration and let relationships unfold as they may. 

Sometimes they run into other partners. My client wants to be clear about how they share space, time, and information with other intimate partners.  Her girlfriend trusts all her partners will sort out their feelings for themselves. 

There are serious concerns in both approaches. My client can rely too heavily on partner's for emotional labor, gets jealous, and sometimes is perceived as uptight or clingy. Her girlfriend often unintentionally hurts partners who have specific expectations (spoken or implied) and finds herself mixed up in accidental miscommunications.

I wanted to write a little about them because they (like anyone) are working to find their way together in the world beyond traditional relationships- and it's not easy. Their polyamorous principles aren't right or wrong, but each has its own challenges and setbacks.

On one hand, we have a girlfriend who thinks she can set aside expectations in relationships.  I would say, this is more like solo-polyamory, where her primary relationship is with herself.

Even in solo-polyamory, we impact others with our behavior, and if we want ongoing relationships with partners we need to work with them to manage expectations and offer support.

On the other, my client practices more of a hierarchical polyamory, where she places importance on one relationship. This model is often reassuring to people who have had successful relationships in a more traditional monogamous format.

Without care, these relationships can become codependent and can replicate other unhealthy patterns from partner's pasts.

They're a perfect example of why getting relationship support can be useful for non-traditional relationships. With support, they're able to name the difference in their guiding principles and clarify what they need moving forward. 

If you're having trouble getting on the same page with a partner please don't hesitate to give me a call.  I'm happy to help you work out a plan that supports both your needs- no matter how different they seem.  


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

polyamory counselor | open marriage therapist | open relationship counseling
  • 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
  • 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.  

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.  

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.  

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.  

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.