SO YOU AND your squeeze have had the talk. You’ve decided to open up your relationship.
Time to hit the local bar/kink party/games night, and soon you and your sweetie will be snuggling up with a hot bisexual babe. Right?
Not quite. Changing your relationship structure always comes with surprises. If you consider the tips below, hopefully the surprises will be more good than bad.
Top 5 tips for an open relationship
Forget about the “hot bisexual babe”. Don’t go looking for one, and don’t think you have to become one. People who are polyamorous come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. It’s going to be less stressful to enter the dating scene as yourself, and to appreciate and connect with each person you meet as an individual, not as a stereotype.
Don’t assume you and your partner will date as a “unit”. Sure, you and your partner might meet someone you both click with. But more than likely, you will both be attracted to different people. Even if you do meet someone who likes you both and has enough time and energy to date a couple, the relationship with each of you will develop differently. It will never be exactly the same, so try to be open to those differences.
Remember, you can’t control the way you feel – only the way you behave. One of the most common agreements people make when opening their relationship is, “No falling in love.” But you can’t control how you feel. Usually this agreement is made out of fear of losing special things like quality time, affection or attention. A more practical agreement might be something like, “No matter how strongly we feel for someone else, we will always spend at least three nights a week together.”
Ask before you touch. The first time you attend a poly social, it’s likely that you will be surrounded by an atmosphere of physical intimacy. Everybody seems to be hugging, kissing and holding hands. It’s important to remember that each person you meet has a different threshold for personal space, and some of the people there have known each other for years. Unless someone has explicitly requested a hug or a kiss from you, it’s polite to ask permission. A simple “Would you like a hug?” will go a long way.
Be flexible. The great thing about polyamory is that you can move away from the world of either/or. Can’t decide if you are friends or lovers? How about becoming frovers? Sweeties? Cuddle buddies? Non-sexual life partners? There’s a big wide world of grey out there to explore, so try to open yourself to non-traditional partnerships.
If you’re considering non-monogamy, there are many poly support groups across Australia. Check the Polyamory Australia website for more details.
Nina Melksham is a Sydney-based registered psychologist who practises diversity-positive counselling. Here she shares her top five tips to a successful open relationship.
Image from Letters of Vintage
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