What options are there?
It can be quite confusing not to mention difficult to open up your relationship (though not always).
Before you have this discussion with your partner (or partners), it is worth having a look at the various options which other people are already practicing. In saying this, there can be so many different approaches and agreements that it is important you tailor your approach to both your and your partner’s liking.
Here are some options:
Colloquially used to refer to relationships that are romantically monogamous but also allow for agreed-upon outside sexual relationships. Sometimes it can be only permission to flirt.
If you are a couple and want to slightly open up your relationship for a bit of harmless fun then swinging could be an option for you. Swingers often perceive sex or other forms of fun such as voyeurism (watching other people have sex) as a form of recreation. Swingers don’t usually engage in additional relationships, but will instead have casual encounters with other couples in swinger clubs. They might also be friends with those couples. The clubs welcome couples and single women who often join the couples, however, this culture is still not very open to single men. This culture began with ‘wife-swapping’ and did not include sexual contact between two men.
Describing a relationship as ‘Open’ is a very broad ‘catch all’ description. It entails that having sex with others is ok within certain agreed boundaries. It is mostly open to casual sex and most couples draw a line at ‘not starting a new additional committed relationship with others’… so perhaps having a date and kissing is ok but having sex is not; or having sex with others is ok but only when it is during traveling or at some events. The possibilities and combinations used to create open relationships can be endless.
Polyamory in a nutshell describes having meaningful and emotionally committed relationships with more than one person at the same time. Those people may or may not also be partners. It also depends on how you want to play it out. You need to establish if your partners want to meet each other. Also if you want a hierarchical structure where you have a primary (most important and committed) relationship and other secondary, tertiary, etc. Or if you want a non-hierarchical structure where you give room for growth to every relationship which you have. Dividing time and attention between partners in an appropriate way is very important in this type of love life arrangement.
Another arrangement is where one person is polyamorous and the other prefers to stay monogamous. There is plenty of criticism towards this type from the monogamous community and from polyamorous people. Some will see this kind of relationship as abusive and a monogamous person as a victim. However, this arrangement also works for a lot of couples.
A derivative of Polyamory, where there is exclusivity within a certain group of people and not creating any additional relationships.
Group of people connected through a variety of romantic relationships in which they are involved by being a partner or metamours.
A polycule in which one couple has one other partner each.
Arrangement in which polycule consists of 5 people. Those people are not necessarily sexually or emotionally involved with each other.
A polycule where one person is involved with two people who are not involved romantically with each other. For example, a woman having two boyfriends.
Three people who are in a relationship together. Throuple.
Four people who are in a relationship together.
People who are connected through being in a relationship with the same person but are not sexually and emotionally involved. They may or may not know each other.
A polycule that consists of more than four people.
New Relationship Energy (NRE)
One of the most difficult but also the most exciting and exhilarating parts of opening up your relationship can be the NRE. When a new relationship is starting we think only about the other person, they are perfect in your mind because both of you want to look your best at the beginning. It is a very powerful force that is hard to control because all you want to do in this honeymoon period is to spend time together.
This can be amazing in monogamy, however, when you choose to be polyamorous you need to remember about all of your other partners. It is important not to neglect anyone, especially long-standing partners. Those few months of bliss might simply not be worth wasting years of investment in a stable relationship.
It takes a lot of mindfulness and grounding to remember to act and speak appropriately to each of your partners. Being dismissive or ignoring your partner and giving in fully to the new relationship is a very common side effect of the NRE, especially when this is your first time practicing Polyamory.
It is important to open up your relationship at your own pace and not to be pressured into it. Try being Monogamish or Swinging first! Dip a toe before you jump in!
Pros & Cons
- You get to experience NRE and the rush of new love whenever a new person comes along
- You can keep your relationship fresh and interesting
- You can connect with multiple different people in every way you want (after certain agreements with your current partner or partners)
- One partner may not always fulfill all of your needs, having multiple partners can remedy that
- If you live in a bigger polycule and live together there is a better potential for organised household and child-rearing; responsibilities and finances can be better managed
- You have more social support to self-regulate and seek help
- Jealousy can and mostly comes into the picture. This can be managed through good communication, agreements, and self-regulation.
- There is a social stigma connected to Polyamory. The majority are monogamous and polyamory is still not well-understood, that is why it can be scrutinised. Polyams are often misunderstood as promiscuous, only wanting sex, or indecisive.
- The social support or any benefits are not extended to all of your partners. Only married or de facto partners can have them and we are able to only marry one person.
- The fact that one is polyamorous can be used in court against them to take away parental rights, that is why often Polyams prefer to stay quiet about their relationship style preferences.
When you decide to become a Polyam
Do an internet search to discover where and when is your local Polyam community meeting. Where can you find like-minded people?
If you live in a smaller town the community will stick together and if you meet a few people that should take you all the others. Even bigger cities may work in a similar way.
Poly community is also closely linked to LGBTQI+ and Kink/BDSM communities so you can also search through them.
To find out more and enhance the quality of connection in your relationship/s try sexual therapy online or sex therapy in Sydney. If you do not have sexual problems general relationship therapy and marriage counselling are also viable options.
Ask a sexologist online for guidance and an appointment now.