I think that intimate connection is universal, but it’s extremely subjective. I wouldn’t use human beings to human beings as the metric standard of intimate connection, because there are asexuals and greysexuals and other types of people who can’t have contact.
There are certain types of relationships in this world that are NOT meant for everyone. I think open relationships can solve MANY problems of human connection—jealousy, envy, fear, insecurity, lack of faith—but to be truly free of these personal problematic attitudes requires much self-reflection and deep honesty, impeccable integrity, and practical wisdom applied on a regular basis, as well as the double awesome whammy of an open mind operating with an open heart.
One might not need all these things working simultaneously to conduct open relationships, but to have some of them working in tandem will do your sex and love life a lot of good. So for me, there are fundamentals to having your open relationships work and work out well. There is no guarantee for anything in this life or with love, but these might help you solve more of your problems with multiple partners.
5 Essential Tips for Open Relationships
1. Express Your Boundaries
Nobody has the capacity to provide EVERYTHING to another person. We egotistically want to believe we can offer a person “everything they imagine,” but do you realize how VAST the human imagination is? Do you realize how diverse human identities really are?
So yeah, if someone wants a kinky BDSM relationship as a power bottom to a Japanese top who provides Shibari rope bondage and strap-on play every other weekend, that is NOT something that one person can provide for anyone, lordy no! So, what are your boundaries of what you can give and take? Do you require a phone call a day? Do you need sex once a week? Do you prefer cuddles to intercourse? Express your boundaries, and do it fast!
2. Share as Much Detailed Truth as You Can
Few things will curtail the length of your relationships in open situations as much as someone being vague and silent in the crucial times where you are etching out the future inside your moments of truth. See how I detailed the BDSM relationship in the last section? Clarify with your partners how you will conduct yourself during this open relationship. Nothing has to be perfectly set in stone, because change is unavoidable.
Instead of saying, “I want phone calls,” be much more specific: “I hope we can talk every couple days, when I get home from work, which would be the most convenient time for me. If this doesn’t work for you, lunch-time texts or late night Saturday calls would be great.” Such details help your partners know what standards of behavior they have to reach before they qualify for being with you freely.
3. Confess Your Fears and Doubts
Open relationships are not easy, even though they have much more malleable boundaries and edges than monogamous relationships. That doesn’t mean you can’t won’t feel jealousy, rage, doubt, fear, and the shitty things that eat away at the bottom of every relationship in humanity!
It’s best to just tell your partners what your sexual kryptonite is. For instance: “When we go out to dance, I really get nervous and jealous if I see you buy another woman a drink or ask another person to dance. I don’t mind you doing it when I’m not around, but when we’re together, I have some limits.” This is an honest confession of fears and doubts. We all have reasons that may cause us to lose control in moments of conflict and miscommunication, so share them as they arise to avoid tensions and resentment from building.
4. Celebrate Milestones and Progress
There are so many things to celebrate when you are doing a relationship style that is NOT the societal norm. It’s worth celebrating damn near daily or weekly every time you keep a relationship together that is so untraditional. Just finding someone who is open to trying it with you reason to celebrate, and if it’s a monthly hoopla just to be thankful you two or three met, then do it up.
When you have a date with a new partner and your other partner meets them, celebrate that victory. If you meet their parents, celebrate that. If your parents find out that you’re in an open relationship and it goes over more positive than negative, then have a big-ass party in your mind, and your heart.
There are many reasons you will have to fight both internally and externally in society, so take all the opportunities to celebrate your open connection. Progress does not come easy in monogamous love, and it’s even more challenging in poly love!
5. Know Your Intimate Limits and Your Deal Breakers
If your partner is just ravenously greedy and is not listening to your warning—”I don’t want to meet any more poly lovers of yours, I’ve had enough at EIGHT”—then say thanks and goodbye as fast as you can. There is a limit to what each of us can deal with.
Listen to your heart and your intuition if and when you feel like you cannot manage to balance what you need and want with what your partner(s) need and want. If you wake up and go to sleep resenting what you are in, it might be time to get out. Be honest about things and say, “Hey, what we had was nice, but I’m not able to keep doing it anymore. I hope you’re happy moving on with other partners, but I must go my own way. If we can be friends after, if and when it feels right, I’d like that. Thank you for hearing me and respecting my wishes.”
This is a respectful knowledge of one’s boundaries, and a gentle assertion of one’s limits. Quote it and use it if you must! But yeah, have fun exploring the types of polyamory connection you can carry with your heart, but don’t try to do too much. Balance is the key to Love!
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