The Most Common Open Relationship Rules

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And How to Set Yours

We’ve been inundated with the concept of “the one” throughout our lives. But what if “the one” is really more like a great entrée with some side dishes? Although we’re led to believe that monogamy is the gold standard of relationships, sociologist Dr. Elisabeth “Eli” Sheff says that “polyagomy is far more common across cultures and societies and history than monogamy.”

In fact, thanks in part to the internet and dating apps, open relationships are seemingly on the rise (or perhaps more people feel comfortable openly acknowledging them). According to a 2016 study, one in five Americans has been in a non-monogamous relationship at some point. Plus, age, race, political affiliations and socio-economic status doesn’t seem to affect the likelihood of someone entering an open relationship. However, people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual were slightly more likely to have experienced non-monogamy.

As we all know, relationships are work. And when you add in more parties, it gets decidedly more complicated, and you might discover that sometimes more isn’t merrier. So if you’re considering starting an open relationship, you’ll need to weigh your wants and needs, consider your partner’s and establish some guidelines beforehand. But first things first…

What exactly is an open relationship?

“Open relationships fall under the umbrella of consensual non-monogamous relationships and generally, but not always, tend to focus on sexual activities over emotional with other partners,“ explains clinical psychologist Dr. Catalina Lawsin. “Under this larger umbrella there are many types of consensual non-monogamous relationships, some of which include: polyamory (where partners support one another having both emotional and sexual relationships with other partners with the understanding that love can take many forms and individuals can love more than one person at a time), monogamish (similar to open, but restricted only to sexual activity with other partners), swinging (exploring sexual activities together at social events and meetups with other couples), and relationship anarchy (there are no set rules but instead the relationship is flexible to the needs of each partner).”

She also emphasizes that open relationships are not like affairs, a common misconception. “It’s quite the opposite,” she says. “The core ingredient of an affair is the secrecy of it. In open relationships partners are open in their sexual activity with others and supportive of it.”

Is an open relationship right for you and your partner?

First, for an open relationship to work, both partners need to enter it willingly, not begrudgingly. If a person acquiesces to an open relationship, perhaps out of fear of losing their partner, it’s “a disaster because open relationships are challenging, even if everyone wants to be in them. Relationships in general are challenging. If it’s a non-monogamous relationship, and someone has been pressured or bullied into it, or has given in because they feel the person will leave them if they don’t, then that builds up resentment,” Dr. Sheff says,author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families. “And then when something happens, [for example] someone accidentally gets pregnant, someone gets a sexually transmitted infection, then that just blows up.”

Also, it’s not a strategy to fix turbulent relationships, Dr. Lawsin cautions. “On the contrary, consensual non-monogamous relationships rely on trust and require a healthy stable relationship that is mutually supportive to succeed. All relationships require negotiation, and bringing in additional partners to a relationship often requires more negotiation, communication and planning.”

To start, figure out why you want an open relationship. “People should think deeply about their motivations,” says Dr. Sheff. Do you want multiple partners, but recoil at the thought of your partner being with other people? Are you simply looking for an excuse to hook up with other people? Or a way not to fully commit? “It’s not reasonable to expect a partner to be sexually exclusive with you, while you have sex with anybody that you want,” she adds. “Sometimes couples can work out a poly-mono relationship, but in my experience, as a relationship coach and in my research, I have seen that that hardly ever works…Usually people who want a monogamous relationship want their partners to be monogamous with them.” So make sure you and your partner are on the same page.

Next, consider how well you communicate and handle conflict as a couple, which are key ingredients for relationship success, especially in non-monogamous ones. “Because conflict will inevitably arise in any relationship. And if you add additional people into it, the potential for conflict dramatically increases,” Dr. Sheff says. “So if people don’t know how to handle conflict and then they enter a potentially incredibly sticky situation like non-monogamy, that could definitely blow up in their faces.”

Psychotherapist Dr. Kristie Overstreet also suggests working with a certified sex therapist if you need help navigating the possibility of an open relationship. And if your gut is saying “yes yes yes” or “oh God, no no no,” listen to it.
What type of open relationship works for you?

The type of relationship that’s best for you and your partner really depends on what you’re seeking. Dr. Overstreet says that “both partners in the couple need to decide if they are open to emotional, physical or both aspects for an open relationship.”

Dr. Sheff breaks it down like this: “Are you both wanting sexual variety with no strings attached? Then swinging is good for that. Are you wanting more emotional intimacy? Then polyamory is better for that. Do you want no rules and for each relationship to be taken on its own individual independence? Then consider relationship anarchy.”

People who practice relationship anarchy choose to be together out of desire rather than obligation, Dr. Sheff explains. “They are not necessarily on this ‘relationship escalator,’ where there’s one way to have a relationship with increasing exclusivity and commitment until you’re married, with sex only happening with that one partner. Relationship anarchists are not down with that at all.”

The rules of an open relationship

While no two relationships are alike, there are some general guidelines to consider when trying to establish a healthy open relationship. Dr. Lawsin offers the following checklist, adding that any rules or boundaries should be discussed, negotiated and reassessed occasionally throughout the relationship and adjusted as needed.

1. Negotiate your sexual boundaries

Boundaries regarding sex should be explicitly negotiated, such as how often sex can occur (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.), with how many partners at a time, where (e.g., on business trips) and whatever additional physical or logistical (e.g., time) dimensions a couple wishes to define in their relationship. This includes the type of sex as well. For example, is penetrative sex OK or just oral? What about BDSM? Also, do you prefer your partner to only have sex with strangers who they will never see again or rather with someone you already know and trust. Yes, it might get weirdly specific, but you’ll want to figure this stuff out before you open the flood gates.

2. Define your emotional boundaries

Emotional boundaries can be harder to define and set, but they should definitely be discussed, with each partner being honest about what they can manage for themselves and their partner.

3. Safe sex is a must

When you transition your relationship from exclusive to open, you might be super excited to get started with your new ventures, but don’t let all those safe sex practices fly out the window. Discuss with your partner what you’re both comfortable with and how you’ll actually practice safe sex IRL.

4. Be honest

Open relationships relinquish partners from needing to hide or suppress their sexual needs, therefore honesty about what they’re doing should be maintained. Couples need to specify how many details the other wants to know (if any at all) as well as how often. This should be reassessed as needed (and this also applies to #3).

5. Schedule check-ins with your partner

Transparency about how each partner is feeling about the other’s sexual pursuits should also be negotiated and checked on. Partners can make assumptions in any type of relationship, so it’s important to have check-ins with one another to provide a safe space to process emotions, make any adjustments to negotiated boundaries and assess the health of the primary relationship.

6. Don’t forget your about your relationship

Schedule time and space to nurture the relationship and make sure to maintain this. Date nights, trips away and expressing love need to be prioritized to maintain the relationship foundation. Dr. Sheff agrees, saying that it’s easy for one partner to get distracted with a shiny new, exciting relationship and forget to pay attention to the longer-term relationship. “Don’t just save all the fun juju for the new relationship,” she adds.

What about jealousy?

You’re gonna get jealous. It’s inevitable. So, Dr. Sheff says, people “should anticipate it and start building skills around dealing with it before they even engage in open relationships.” And if you do get jealous that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea of an open relationship altogether. Rather, you need to face the jealousy head on and figure out why you feel that way, perhaps because you’re feeling insecure or threatened by your partner’s new relationship. Dr. Sheff says that this is a good time for your partner to reassure you (or for you to validate your partner) by saying, “I love you. It’s OK. I’m not leaving you and here are all the reasons why I love you.”

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Signs an Open Relationship Could Be Right for You

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(and 3 That It’s Probably Not)

Sometimes it’s good to shut the door on monogamy.

By Zachary Zane

Here’s a universal truth we generally don’t discuss enough: It’s totally normal to fantasize about other people even when you’re so happy in a relationship that your heart almost bursts every time your partner wrinkles their nose right before laughing at one of your terrible puns. That definitely doesn’t always mean that you want to act on those urges—that might seem like a bad idea for a variety of reasons. But in some cases and for some people, acting on these thoughts with the blessing of their partner is a really attractive idea. Enter: non-monogamy.

Non-monogamy refers to relationships that allow people to have sexual and/or emotional intimacy with people besides their primary partners. People who may be interested in non-monogamy include those who want to explore multiple facets of their sexual orientations or who don’t feel as though it’s natural to only love one person romantically, for instance. Fortunately for people who are interested in pursuing something like this, relationship models beyond monogamy are rising in mainstream visibility, which is where open relationships can come in.

More people are visibly warming up to the idea that it’s OK to want to have sex with more than one person for life. (Forever is a really, REALLY long time.) But knowing that open relationships are a thing doesn’t help much when it comes to figuring out if one might be right for you.

Since every relationship has its own strengths and weaknesses, there’s no One Easy Trick that will reveal if an open relationship could be great for you and your partner. However, there are various tip-offs that can indicate if your relationship would thrive or crumble after opening it up. To help you figure out where you fall, we reached out to experts in ethical non-monogamy (as in being non-monogamous without being an asshole). Here are the signs they say can hint at when it might and might not make sense to consider experimenting with an open relationship.

Here’s when it could make sense to have an open relationship.

1. You’re both genuinely interested in non-monogamy.

As the founder of the educational platform Unscripted Relationships, Stephanie Webb, Ph.D., often gets the question, “How do I get my partner to agree to an open relationship?” That’s completely the wrong way to go about opening up a relationship, says Webb.

“You don’t ‘get’ them to,” Webb, whose Ph.D. is in communication with a focus on nontraditional relationships and who has personally practiced ethical non-monogamy for over a decade, tells SELF. That kind of phrasing implies that one partner is interested in an open relationship and trying to bend the other’s will, which definitely isn’t a healthy relationship dynamic for introducing non-monogamy (or just in general).

“Many people do not want to be in an open relationship and forcing a [partner] is not a way to approach it at all,” Webb says. “Instead the interest can be raised, but not pushed. If the [partner] draws a line and wants monogamy because that is what was initially expected in the relationship, it should be respected or the relationship should end.”

With that said there’s a huge difference between a partner who makes it clear that they would never want any form of an open relationship and a partner who is interested but may need time to understand how an open relationship would manifest.

“Fears and insecurities about a new type of relationship style are typical,” board-certified clinical sexologist Rhoda Lipscomb, Ph.D., tells SELF. Experiencing these emotions at the thought of opening up a relationship doesn’t automatically mean it’s not a good idea. “This can actually help the couple so long as they are able to communicate well about what the fears mean and move forward at a pace that works for both of them,” Lipscomb says. That brings us to our next point.

2. You’re ready to communicate your ass off.

A healthy open relationship does not start after a single talk. “Opening a relationship takes so much time and work,” Webb says. Properly navigating this new terrain requires a series of ongoing conversations where you and your partner discuss what you’re looking to get out of the new relationship dynamic along with any rules you need to follow to make that happen.

Perhaps in order for you both to feel fulfilled and safe in your open relationship, neither of you can have sleepovers, play with friends, tell each other details of your trysts, have sex with other people without protection, or have sex with others inside your shared home.

Discuss emotional boundaries too. Are you both only interested in having sexual connections with other people? Or are you OK with polyamory, which allows for emotional connections and even loving other people too? Making sure you both agree upon these types of boundaries is key.

3. Your relationship currently stands on a foundation of honesty and trust.

Every expert quoted in this piece made one thing abundantly clear: Successful open relationships can require even more honesty and confidence in your partner than monogamous ones.

When a couple has this foundation, it’s a lot harder for non-monogamy to harm their bond, Lipscomb says. But without that trust or ability to be completely truthful, it’s much easier for an open relationship to exacerbate your relationship issues or create new ones. For instance, if you don’t trust your partner as much as possible, will you believe them when they say they’ll always use protection? If you feel like you can’t be honest with them, will you be able to share what about an open relationship makes you feel most vulnerable—which is the only real way you can get reassurance for those fears?

It’s necessary that both of you feel comfortable discussing questions and concerns you might have even if you’re a little nervous. Otherwise, your open relationship could implode pretty quickly.

4. You and your partner have mismatched libidos or kinks.

“Some folks have a partner who is uninterested in having a sexual relationship but still desires an emotional connection,” clinical psychologist and American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists–certified sex therapist Kelifern Pomeranz, Psy.D., tells SELF. This may happen when one partner falls on the asexual spectrum, is taking medication that stunts their libido, is too stressed from work to want much sex, or for any number of other valid reasons. On a similar note if one of you is all about a certain kink and the other has absolutely no interest, allowing one partner to practice that kink with others might offer a solution.

Of course these types of situations still require honesty, trust, and thorough communication. Those are nonnegotiable in any good relationship, especially open ones.

5. You’re in a mixed-orientation relationship.

If you’re in a mixed-orientation relationship, you may already know that term for it, but just so we’re on the same page: A mixed-orientation relationship means that partners have different sexual orientations.

Here’s when opening up your relationship might not be the best idea.

1. It’s in direct response to infidelity.

One of the worst things you can do after a partner cheats is immediately open the relationship. That’s not to say you can’t open it up if one of you has cheated in the past, but there’s that trust issue again: You both need time to work through infidelity as a unit before bringing anyone else into the mix, even if it’s no longer in secret.

“Open relationships of all kinds require trust, knowledge, consent, and emotional (and sometimes physical and spiritual) labor,” says Webb. “Infidelity breaks trust; opening the relationship when this kind of trauma has occurred is not impossible, but it does not set anyone up for success either. I recommend doing the work to rebuild the relationship and then approaching openness from a foundation of trust.”

2. Your relationship is already on the brink of ending.

Opening up a relationship in a desperate attempt to stave off a breakup isn’t a great idea. Without the strong, healthy bond that’s necessary for an open relationship to work, introducing non-monogamy might just push you over the breakup precipice.

People who try an open relationship as a last-ditch effort to avoid a breakup typically already have one foot out the door, Lipscomb says. “They do not have a strong connection and want someone—anyone—other than their primary partner,” she says, but they might be staying because of children, a fear of what their family will say, comfort, worries about hurting their partner, social stigma around divorce, or other reasons. An open relationship might seem like the perfect compromise in these cases, but it won’t work as a bandage over fundamental relationship issues or unhappiness.

3. One or both of you can’t handle jealousy.

It’s a misconception that people in successful open relationships never feel jealousy. The difference is that they know jealousy can happen, respect boundaries in an attempt to avoid it, and deal with it in a healthy manner if it arises anyway.

None of this is possible without—say it with us, folks—honesty, trust, and communication. That essential combination is what allows you to say something like, “Hey, I don’t know what it is, but I get wildly jealous when I know you’re seeing that guy.” It’s also what allows your partner to accept this kind of statement from a loving, empathetic place and reassure you as necessary.

Issues besides jealousy might come up when you’re in an open relationship, just like they would in a monogamous one. Bottom line: “Partners need to be able to listen to one another with compassion and not defensiveness, communicate their wants and needs, express themselves honestly, and take responsibility for their actions,” says Pomeranz.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s What a Polyamorous Relationship Actually Is…

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and What It Isn’t

Jessamyn Stanley recently talked about the many misconceptions surrounding polyamory. We reached out to experts to learn more about the relationship practice.

By Gabrielle Kassel

Bethany Meyers, Nico Tortorella, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jessamyn Stanley are all stylish AF, badass entrepreneurs making waves on your social feeds. But they have another thing in common: They all identify as polyamorous.

By now you’ve likely heard of “polyamory” and “polyamorous relationships.” But do you know what they mean? Unless you’re also poly, Stanely says you probably don’t. In a recent Instagram Story, she said, “Polyamory gets confused with wanting to have sex or needing to have sex with a lot of different people, which is really not what it’s about.” (Related: How to Have a Healthy Polyamorous Relationship)

So what are polyamorous relationships actually about? To find out, we consulted with sex educators who specialize in ethical non-monogamy. Here, they explain the dynamics of polyamory and dispel some of the most common misconceptions surrounding it.

What’s the definition of polyamorous?

Our ‘ole friend Merriam Webster says the term “polyamory” refers to folks involved in more than one romantic relationship at a time. While an OK start, sex and polyamory educators say this definition misses one vv vital component: consent.

“Polyamory is an ethically, honestly, and consensually driven relationship structure that allows us to engage in many (poly), loving (amorous) relationships,” says pleasure-based sex educator and sex-positivity advocate, Lateef Taylor. “The consent component here is vital.” So while there may be multiple intimate and/or sexual relationships happening concurrently, everyone (!!) involved is aware that these are the relationship dynamics in place.

Note: If you’ve ever been in a committed monogamous relationship and cheated or been cheated on, know that that is not polyamory. “Cheating is a behavior that can happen in any kind of relationship because it’s any broach in the agreements or boundaries of the relationship,” explains sex educator and licensed psychologist Liz Powell, Psy.D., author of Building Open Relationships: Your Hands-On Guide To Swinging, Polyamory, & BeyondTranslation: Calling yourself “poly” isn’t a free pass for you or your partner to hook up with whoever you want.

Polyamorous relationship ≠ open relationship

Many non-monogamous relationship terms are often conflated and confused. Sex and relationships educator Sarah Sloane, who has been teaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001, explains that consensual non-monogamy (sometimes called ethical non-monogamy) encapsulates all of these.

Maybe you’ve heard the word “queer” described as an umbrella term? Well, Sloane says “consensual non-monogamy similarly operates as an umbrella term, too.” Under that umbrella are other types of non-monogamous relationships, including polyamorous relationships, as well as swinging, open relationships, throuples, and more.

Wait, so what’s the difference between polyamorous and open relationships? “These relationship terms may mean slightly different things to different people,” explains Sloane. Typically, though, “when someone uses the phrase ‘polyamorous,’ they’re using it to explain relationships that are emotionally intimate and romantic, as opposed to just sexual,” she says. Open relationships, on the other hand, tend to involve having one partner who’s your main squeeze/your boo thing/your partner/your honey, and other partners who are ~purely sexual~. Simply put, while open relationships and polyamorous relationships are both practices of ethical non-monogamy, polyamorous relationships typically have wiggle room for more than one emotional connection. (Related: 6 Things Monogamous People Can Learn from Open Relationships)

Just remember: “To find out what someone means when they say they’re in a polyamorous relationship, ask them, because it does mean different things to different people,” says Sloane.

Some poly relationships have “structure” while others do not

Just as no two monogamous relationships look the same, nor do two polyamorous relationships. “There are so many different ways to have intimate relationships with multiple people, so there are so many ways polyamorous relationships can manifest and play out,” says Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower, an online innovative sexual wellness and adult store.

Sloane explains that some folks follow a relationship hierarchy in which partners are considered “primary,” “secondary,” “tertiary,” and so on, based on the level of commitment involved. “Others won’t use formal labels, but will arrange the ‘importance’ of their relationships around who they’re living with, have kids with, etc.,” she says. On the other hand, some people avoid “ranking” the folks they’re woo-ing and being woo-ed by, adds Sloane.

Figuring out a relationship structure (or lack thereof) that works best for you requires understanding yourself and what you need from your relationships, says Boyajian. “You need to deep-think on what you’re comfortable with, what your needs are, and then be able to communicate those things to your partners and potential partners.”

Folks of any gender, sexuality, and relationship status can be poly

“Anyone who believes in and is committed to having ethical non-monogamous relationships can explore this love style,” says Taylor.

BTW, you can also be single and identify as poly. You can even be sleeping with or dating only one person and still identify as poly. “Identifying as poly doesn’t mean you always have multiple partners at once,” says Boyajian, “It’s like being pansexual. You’re still pansexual even if you’re not currently dating or sleeping with anyone!” (Related: What It Really Means to Be Gender Fluid or Identify As Non-Binary)

No, being poly isn’t a “new trend”

Polyamory may seem like something ~all the cool kids are doing~ but it has a rich history. “Indigenous people and queer folks have been doing it for many, many years,” says Powell. “And when we call it a ‘trend’, we erase the history of the variety of folks who have been practicing ethical non-monogamy throughout history, before the white West started doing it.”

So why does it seem like it’s suddenly something everyone’s doing? First off, relax. Not everyone is doing it. While one survey found that about 21 percent of Americans have tried consensual non-monogamy at some point in their life, another source says only 5 percent of folks are currently in a non-monogamous relationship. However, the most recent data is at least two years old, so experts say the percentage may be slightly higher.

Sloane also offers her own hypothesis: “As a society, we may be in a place where we are having more conversations about what constitutes love and relationships,” she says. “And the more conversations we have about polyamory, the more people are able to consider it for themselves.” (Related: The Surprising Reason Women Want Divorce More Than Men)

Polyamorous dating isn’t just about getting laid

There’s a misconception that polyamory is about a need or desire to have a lot of sex with a lot of people, Stanley recently shared on Instagram. But “it’s really just a lot of radical honesty,” she wrote. As Powell explains: “Polyamory isn’t about sex, it’s about the desire (or practice) of wanting to have multiple loving relationships.”

In fact, sometimes sex is never on the table. For instance, folks who identify as asexual (meaning they don’t experience a desire to have sex) can be in polyamorous relationships, too, says sex educator Dedeker Winston, author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory. “For people who are asexual, polyamorous allows them to cultivate relationships around commitment, intimacy, shared values, and shared experiences with a partner or partners, while still allowing that partner to be sexual.”

But, of course, sex can be part of it

“Polyamory is about designing an intentional relationship style that works for you, so sex can be a primary driver or just a component,” says sex educator and gender researcher Ren Grabert, M.Ed. (BTW: If you’re thinking poly=orgies all the time, guess again. Sure, group sex may occasionally be part of it. But that’s not a defining feature of polyamorous relationships.)

And when sex is part of it, Boyajian says communication around safe-sex practices and STI status is key. “Are you using protection with all of your partners? Are a group of you exclusive to one another and therefore not using barriers? Are you to use protection with all partners but one, who you’re fluid bonded to?” These details should be agreed upon before sexual contact happens and should be an ongoing conversation. (Here’s how to ask your partner if they’ve had an STD test.)

Polyamorous relationships *aren’t* for commitment-phobes

There’s a misconception that being polyamorous is synonymous with “bad at commitment.” That’s hogwash. In fact, Taylor says poly requires a ton of commitment—to yourself and to the people you’re seeing. “Think about it: Being in a relationship with multiple people requires committing to the folks you’re dating or seeing and honoring them and the boundaries of your relationship.”

In fact, if you start dating polyamorously specifically because you have a fear of commitment, your relationships will likely fail, says Powell. “What tends to happen is folks end up bringing their commitment-aversion—and the issues that come with it—into multiple relationships, instead of just one.” Woof.

If you want to experiment with polyamorous dating, you need to do your research

Maybe you’ve always wanted to explore polyamory. Maybe Stanely’s loving post for her partners after a bike accident (“I’m also feeling so f*cking grateful for my partners and the way in which they held me and each other down last night/this morning”) piqued your interest. Or maybe you’re just curious for future reference. Whatever the reason, if you—or you and a partner—want to experiment with polyamory, you need to do your research.

Kudos, this article counts. But if you’re actually looking to date polyamorously, it’s not sufficient. “Doing research on polyamorous relationships, boundaries within that relationship, and what you’re looking for from polyamorous dating is vital,” says Grabert.

For that, the experts interviewed have the following suggestions:

Complete Article HERE!

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How to have a polyamorous relationship…

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because it’s more complicated than just casual sex

Being in a polyamorous relationship is more complicated than just casual sex. We spoke with Sophie Lucido Johnson, author of “Many Love,” on what you should know about polyamory.

By Elizabeth Entenman

“In a city like New York, with its infinite possibilities, has monogamy become too much to expect?” When Carrie Bradshaw uttered that rhetorical question during a 1998 episode of Sex and the City, little did we know how common polyamory would become. Carrie was never in a polyamorous relationship, but if the show premiered today, the topic would probably come up in her column quite often.

Polyamory (or “poly” for short) is the belief that you can have an intimate relationship with more than one person, with all partners consenting. Being in a polyamorous relationship is not, as many people wrongfully believe, an exotic trend or an excuse to sleep with as many partners as you want. It’s an alternative to monogamy for people who don’t see themselves being with only one partner, emotionally and/or sexually, for the rest of their lives. Some research suggests that about four to five percent of people in the U.S. are polyamorous.

Polyamorous relationships (also known as consensual non-monogamy) require a lot of honesty and communication. To get a better idea of what it’s really like to be in a poly relationship, we spoke with Sophie Lucido Johnson, author of Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s). She opened up about challenges, offered advice for maintaining strong communication, and shared important safety precautions for exploring polyamory. Read on if you’re curious about what it’s really like to be poly.

HelloGiggles: Is a polyamorous relationship the same thing as an open relationship?

Sophie Lucido Johnson: I describe it as being like squares and rectangles—you know, how every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square? Every polyamorous relationship is an open relationship, but not every open relationship is a polyamorous relationship. Polyamory requires enthusiasm, knowledge, and consent from all people involved.

HG: What are the basic communication “rules” of being in a polyamorous relationship?

SLJ: Every poly relationship is different, so the rules will absolutely depend on the people participating in the relationship. In my relationship, it’s 100% communication about everything all the time. Defusing the tension around talking about my partners’ other relationships has taken away the power there. For me, that works really well. I very rarely experience jealousy anymore, and when I do, it’s a great opportunity for my partners and me to talk about where it’s coming from.

HG: How can people in polyamorous relationships set boundaries?

SLJ: Once again, every poly relationship is different. Every person has to establish their own boundaries and communicate about them; their partners have to listen and honor those boundaries. But I’m working on a book right now where I asked a therapist about boundaries, and he said that boundaries are tricky because it’s hard to know where yours are until they’ve been crossed.

HG: What’s the biggest challenge of being in a polyamorous relationship?

SLJ: The biggest challenge is also the biggest gift: Polyamory asks for its participants to get in bed with their uncomfortable emotions. You can’t push away feelings of fear or jealousy or anger; you have to go into those feelings, pick them apart, and try to understand them. This is hard work, but it’s profoundly rewarding, too. Polyamory and radical honesty are closely linked, in my opinion. The truth isn’t always pleasant and lovely and comfortable. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell it.

HG: Are there any safety precautions people should take?

SJL: All the precautions. My brand of polyamory is not super sex-focused—I’m more interested in emotional intimacy with some kissing on the side. But when I do engage in sex with people, it’s always protected, except with my husband, with whom I am fluid bonded. Ask people when they last got tested; ask them if they’ve been with anyone since then; ask them what they feel is important to share about their sexual history. Always check the expiration date on your condoms and dental dams. Use condoms on sex toys and invest in some sexy latex gloves for hardcore finger play.

And then beyond that, work to de-stigmatize sexually transmitted infections. Most of them are relatively harmless (meaning: they’re not going to kill you, although they’re unpleasant). We have ideas about STIs that are way out of line in comparison to the way we look at other chronic infections. They’re not grosser because they’re on your genitals. Sexual health is just health. It is crucial that we begin to talk about it that way.

HG: How can someone bring up the subject of opening their relationship with their partner?

SLJ: Don’t open up your relationship because something inside your relationship is broken. Opening it up is not going to fix the broken thing. Work on the broken thing first and establish whether it can be fixed. If one person wants to be open and the other person really doesn’t, then that relationship is probably not going to work in the long run. Honor each other’s realities. If both partners are eager and excited to pursue other relationships—versus, say, terrified or desperate—then establish what rules and boundaries make the most sense for you.

I have personally never met a couple who has made a parallel polyamorous situation work out for more than a year, but the internet swears that it’s possible. Parallel polyamory is the sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell version, where you and your partner date on the side but don’t tell each other details. I’m a big advocate of telling the truth. The difficult conversations are the ones that bring us closer.

HG: What’s the biggest misconception about polyamorous relationships?

SLJ: That polyamory is all about sex. For me (and tons of poly people I know), it’s about two main things. One: accepting and embracing that relationships do not stand still and will change over time, and committing to a partner or partners that everyone is going to communicate, constantly, about those natural changes. And two: shifting priorities to embrace friends, chosen family, and non-sexual romantic relationships, where traditionally our social priorities have been around a single partner. None of that has to do with sex. Assuming that polyamory is all about orgies and millennials three-way kissing in bars does the culture a tremendous disservice and excludes a ton of people who are asexual or sexually transitioning and are uncomfortable with sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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Nonmonogamy Is Not The Answer To All Your Relationship Problems

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By Effy Blue

Nonmonogamy is becoming more recognized as a legitimate relationship structure with more people talking openly about their practice. Although it certainly is not for everyone and definitely not the “easier” option, it is piquing the interest of plenty of people for many reasons.

For some people, monogamy or nonmonogamy is an orientation on par with sexual orientation. It’s a part of who they are. For others, monogamy or nonmonogamy is a choice. It’s in line with what they want to create in their lives and in their relationships. It’s a reflection of their value system. Some people may value security, safety, and stability, and those may opt for a monogamous relationship, while others may choose nonmonogamy because they value multiplicity, sharing erotic energy, or exploring broader sexual orientation.

In an ideal world, partners are on the same page: They either decide on a structure at the beginning of their relationship, or they decide to shift into a different structure later on in the relationship with a consensus, through open communication.

Actively and consciously designing your relationships, including deciding on whether you want to be monogamous or not, can be a very powerful force for your relationship and set you up to thrive as a couple in the long run. However, if you’re currently in a monogamous relationship and considering opening it up, it’s important to note nonmonogamy is not an effective strategy to solve your current relationship problems or alleviate the boredom you associate with it.

When nonmonogamy doesn’t work.

Because I am a relationship coach specializing in consensual nonmonogamy, so many people come to me thinking an open relationship will fix their relationships. They come defeated, disconnected, and dissatisfied while still feeling very attached to each other. It soon becomes obvious they are reaching out for a life raft in the shape of nonmonogamy. A desire for nonmonogamy turns out to be a bid for space, a bid for attention, a bid for autonomy, a bid for a solution. 

But despite all its potential benefits and excitement, opening up your relationship is not a “solution” or a way to “fix” a relationship that feels negative, stale, or otherwise off.

The best relationships to open are healthy and thriving ones. A healthy relationship of any kind—but especially a nonmonogamous one—requires a foundation of vulnerability, open communication, and trust. Kindness, compassion, mutual respect, and joy for one another along with a desire to address and resolve conflicts create the ideal environment for people to thrive in nonmonogamous relationships. It’s essential for partners to feel heard and their needs highly regarded. If I were to be listening in to a relationship with a stethoscope like a physician to gauge the health of it, I’d be listening for thank you’s and I’m sorry’s. The more genuine gratitude and heartfelt apologies, the healthier and stronger the connection.

Monogamous relationships that lack these fundamental qualities and skills likely wouldn’t be able to withstand the transition to nonmonogamy. If you are finding yourself in the same arguments over and over again, exclaiming “I want an open relationship” as you slam doors; or if you have a closet full of desires that you’ve decided cannot be satisfied by your current partner, and you are not willing to talk about it; or if you feel you are drifting in a haze of sameness and can’t figure out how to break out, nonmonogamy is not the answer.

If you are in a sexless relationship and you aren’t able to have conversations about it; or if you feel chronically lonely in the relationship and aren’t able to restore frayed connections; or if you feel either unheard, unappreciated, uncared for, dissatisfied, smothered, or trapped, and you can’t find words to express these feelings to your partner, nonmonogamy is not going to save you.

Similar to any big change, be it moving to a new state or deciding to have kids, opening up a relationship will shine a sports-stadium-sized spotlight on the issues in your current relationship. Unresolved arguments, hidden resentments, ignored boundaries, delayed conversations, shelved desires, and unmet needs will all come to light and will demand attention. Without well-practiced tools and skills for communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution, nonmonogamy will only apply further tension to the relationship.

Further, if you do open up your relationship with current issues unaddressed and unresolved and start dating other people, you’ll be dragging unsuspecting new partners into your dysfunction.

Do some soul-searching. Are you saying, “I want an open relationship” because you can’t bring yourself to say, “I want to break up”? Are you running away from real or perceived conflict? Have you checked out of the relationship but you feel you can’t leave? If the answers are yes, I recommend you either get support to resolve these issues or find the courage to end your relationship in a kind and compassionate way.

Doing the work.

The truth is “wherever you go, there you are.” If you think the relationship or your partner is the problem and you are trying to get away to have something different, chances are you’ll only have more of the same. We are the common denominators of our lives.

Start with yourself. If it’s available to you, spend a period of time in personal therapy. Also invest in some personal development in the areas of sex and relationships. There are some excellent books, workshops, and online courses and communities dedicated to pleasure-based sex education for adults and communication skills. I also strongly recommend working with a professional, be it a couples therapist, counselor, or coach to address the relationship struggles. Make sure the people you choose to work with are open-minded to the idea that ultimately you may want to move to a nonmonogamous structure.

And last but not least, spend some time focusing on your relationship rather than running away from it. Find ways to have those unresolved conversations. Schedule time to reconnect in line with the way you show and receive love, be it a sensual massage or a picnic in the park.

Here’s the thing: There is no relationship free of conflict or struggle. It doesn’t mean you have to address everything before you can even begin to think about opening up your relationship. Research does show people in consensual nonmonogamous relationships are “more satisfied with and committed to their relationships,” suggesting nonmonogamy can absolutely breathe new life into a relationship. When practiced consciously and ethically, it can be an agent for new energy and connections, self-expression, adventure, discovery, and community.

Nonmonogamy can be a part of a creative, solutions-based approach to making sure everyone gets what they need in the relationship. It requires a goodwill effort to address the relationship as it is today, to hear and attend to the needs of the people in the relationship.

When will you know you are ready? When you feel you can approach nonmonogamy with curiosity and a spirit of exploration—not as a cure-all or an escape.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Ways To Handle Jealousy In Open & Polyamorous Relationships

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The idea of an open or polyamorous relationship can be exciting for some people — it’s the giddy freedom of sleeping with whomever you want with the warm, fuzzy stability of your boo by your side. Still, while this is attractive, a little green-eyed monster might creep in at the thought of your SO going to the bone zone with other people, too. Ultimately, the question of realistic and healthy ways to handle jealousy in open and polyamorous relationships seems to be the only thing stopping folks from taking that first step — from open/poly daydream to open/poly reality.

A quick aside: There’s a difference between “open” relationships and “polyamorous” relationships. As sex educator Aida Manduley put it, polyamory is when, with the consent of all people involved, you and your partner have multiple romantic relationships. An open relationship is when, with the consent of everyone involved, you and your partner get to sleep with other people — and it’s purely sexual.

While poly and open relationships may be seen as “non-traditional” partnerships, the real tea is that jealousy is a big problem in monogamous relationships, too. Either way, whether you’re monogamous (and curious about your potential jealous twinges) or are open/poly now (and want to nip jealousy in the bud), you definitely want to keep some jealousy coping methods in your back-pocket. Here are five that will help your open or poly relationship be as successful and healthy as possible.

1. Talk it through

Communication is the foundation of any relationship and it’s even more important when there’s more than two people in a relationship. So if there’s an issue — particularly jealousy — you need to talk it out. Courtney Watson, a poly-inclusive sex therapist, breaks the process down to Elite Daily in four steps:

  1. Clarify your feelings of jealousy and explore where they are coming from.
  2. Arrange a time to sit down with your partner. (Pick a neutral setting, especially outside the bedroom, where you have enough time and privacy to discuss your feelings. )
  3. Tell your partner and negotiate a solution that addresses your feelings, and takes into consideration their feelings and their needs.
  4. See if the solution works and reconvene as needed.

Learning where you jealousy stems from is easier said than done, but there’s a reason why it’s the first step. “Your feelings are valid and deserve to be met with compassion and curiosity. Doing so will create more space for you to examine the story behind the feeling,” says Dr. Heath Schechinger, a University of California Berkeley counseling psychologist and a co-chair for the American Psychological Association’s Consensual Non-Monogamy Taskforce. “Be present and non-judgmental about whatever comes up and seek to identify the need behind the feeling.”

A good reminder from Schechinger is that jealousy shares many of its traits with anxiety: Both can be prompted by fear or insecurities, and how and when they pop up are influenced by genetics, environment and mood. “Like anxiety, jealousy tends to be heightened when we feel unsafe, unheard, or confused,” they explain. “And lessens when we feel safe, secure, and supported.”

So when you’re struck with that frenzy of emotion imagining what your primary SO is doing out on their date, recognize: Your jealousy could be a symptom of a greater underlying issue between you and your main partner. A supportive and non-judgmental chat about the root of your feelings will only make your partnership stronger.

2. Re-write your jealousy narrative

Another way to get to the bottom of this is to outline your jealousy — literally. With your partner(s) or alone, make a little guidebook to your jealous feelings. And then re-write it.

“Draw a picture or describe in detail a personified version of jealousy, to clarify how you experience and relate to the feeling,” they say. “What does your depiction of jealousy look and sound like? Is jealousy bigger or smaller than you? Do you get along well or hate each other? Are they angry, mean, scared? What do they tend to say to you? What are your physical cues that jealousy is present?”

Once you have a good sketch of “your jealousy narrative,” as Schechinger calls it, work on reframing it in a less threatening way. Confront what you’ve laid out and re-evaluate what about these attributes or behaviors makes you feel jealous. “When met with support and non-judgment, the discomfort generated by envy/jealousy can increase self-awareness and highlight a need that that may not be being met,” they say.

3. Re-establish boundaries

Sometimes, your jealousy in an open or poly relationship isn’t just a matter of personal insecurities that should be addressed. It might be a matter of unclear boundaries. Maybe your partner is doing something in regard to their secondary relationship(s) that is bothering the hell out of you. Talk to them about it and re-examine your current set of rules.

“There needs to be a clear establishing of what is OK and not, and the conversation needs to be revisited as one or more relationships develop and change,” Watson says. “If what feels good for both partners is unclear or what is hurtful for someone is unclear, jealousy and a whole host of other feelings can quickly emerge.”

It can be helpful to come up with a “Yes/No/Maybe” list for you and your main SO when it comes to your extradyadic relationships. (DJ Khaled voice: new word alert! A “dyad” refers to two people in a relationship. Extradyadic refers to any person or activity outside of those core two people.) You and your main partner can go through each sexual act or behavior on the yes/no/maybe list, and label them with a resounding “yes,” a hard “no,” or a “maybe.”

You don’t necessarily have to be active or even committed to the idea of an open or poly relationship to do this. A yes/no/maybe list can be the foundation of simply seeing if a non-monogamy would be a good fit for you and your partner.

For example, maybe you’re OK with your partner sleeping with other people in your open sexual relationship. But your SO cuddling their hookups or staying the night rubs you the wrong way. Maybe it blurs the lines between sexual and romantic relationship for you. Or maybe you get jealous or irritated when your partner posts about their other partner(s) on social media, or introduces them to family. Making and re-making a yes/no/maybe list with your partner might be super useful in helping you pinpoint the exact behaviors that make you feel some type of way.

4. Make a back-up plan

While you’re having the “re-establishing boundaries” talk, you can also revisit or come up with a backup plan. For example, what if you’re just in an open sexual relationship, and you or your partner catch feels for a hookup? What if one of your or your partner’s secondary partners or hookups catch feelings? If you or your partner are prone to jealousy, this shift in relationship dynamic — that’s out of your control — can stir up some less-than-desirable feelings.

Talk through all of the worst-case scenarios that could come from an open or poly relationship. Put it all on the table.

“It is a common pitfall to create agreements that prioritize protecting the primary partnership, without considering the impact on secondary partners or how secondary partnerships may evolve and deepen over time,” Schechinger explains. “Communicating about this upfront can avoid heartache later on.”

5. Know that it takes time

Schechinger mentions research that shows people in non-monogamous relationships typically experience less jealousy and more trust than people in monogamous ones. (One of them is 2017 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, which surveyed 1,507 monogamous people and 617 non-monogamous people.) They say researchers have yet to discover exactly why that difference exists. Their first thought is that maybe people with less jealous dispositions are drawn to open or poly relationships. And their second thought is that maybe it’s because non-monogamy helps lessen jealousy over time (a.k.a. through exposure).

Non-monogamous relationships also commonly experience the opposite of jealousy, which called compersion, Watson says. “One partner experiences joy and fulfillment by seeing their partner happy with someone else. There is less opportunity for compersion in monogamous relationships because of the exclusivity.”

If you’re currently in an open or poly relationship and are working to tackle jealousy, it may just take some time. And if you’re worried about jealousy in a future open or poly relationship, who knows? The relationship switch-up might just give you a chance to experience a new kind of happiness and support for your SO.

Complete Article HERE!

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Do long-term, no-strings sex arrangements ever work?

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Can you have sex with someone for years without dropping the L-bomb or calling what you have a relationship? For some people, the answer is yes, yes, yes

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It is 30 years since the release of When Harry Met Sally. Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner’s genre-defining romcom had so many hilarious, timeless lines, from: “How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home?” to: “When I get a new book, I read the last page first. That way, if I die before I finish I know how it comes out. That, my friend, is a dark side.” But one line that does seem to have aged is arguably the most famous, and the premise of the whole film: “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” It is not just the heteronormativity that feels outdated; three decades on, speaking to some of the Harrys and Sallys of the millennial generation, the question now is less can they just be friends, and more, can they just have sex?

For Rachel, a bisexual woman in her early 30s, the answer is an enthusiastic yes, yes, yes! For about five years, she has gone through periods of regularly having sex with a friend she met at university, “with the agreement that we wouldn’t develop a deeper relationship,” she says. “We didn’t contact each other frequently in between dates or ask for the sort of emotional support you’d get from a partner. I cared about him, but I wasn’t dependent on his affection and I didn’t feel responsible for him beyond how you’d feel about a friend. And we’d have really good sex.”

Rachel always felt she knew exactly where they stood, because they talked about the nature of their relationship, discussing the limits of what they expected from each other. “When you are in an arrangement like this, you have to talk about things rather than make assumptions, and I really enjoyed how honest we were both able to be. I found it incredibly freeing that he didn’t ask anything from me.”

As someone who has never had this sort of relationship, I found it difficult at first to get my head around it – not because I felt judgmental, but because I felt admiring. I think you have to be quite emotionally mature to be able to accept something for what it is, without trying to turn it into something more, or denigrate it for not being something it is not.

“Relationships like this,” says Rachel, “where you are enjoying sex for what it is without making it represent something deeper, ask you to think about how sex usually functions in society.” She describes how, if you have sex with someone and get into a relationship with them, you are turning something that started off as a fun encounter into something that completely changes your life. You might end up spending most of your time with this person, making decisions about your life based on their input, using them as your main source of emotional support. “People assume that’s the natural trajectory, and sometimes that’s great – but sometimes it’s nice to just have sex with someone you like without those assumptions and expectations,” she says.

I ask her if there are any downsides: “Probably not.”

It may sound too good to be true, but for psychosexual therapist Kate Moyle, it does not have to be. “If both parties are really busy in their jobs, their social lives and family lives, and don’t have the available emotional space for a relationship, why isn’t this the perfect solution?” she asks. “You get to have sex with the same person, which can typically be quite satisfactory because you get to know each other and each other’s bodies, and there isn’t the emotional dependency and stress of dealing with someone’s feelings. You don’t lose your independence.”

She believes this kind of less demanding relationship is on the rise because of the lifestyles of young people. “We are a generation who seem to work such long hours, with the complete dissolving of nine-to-five because of technology.”

That is part of the appeal of sex-only relationships for Laura, in her late 20s, who began seeing her then-colleague Mark four years ago. “I have a busy life, a demanding job, and this situation works for me,” she says. “I don’t even know how I would go about getting into a relationship with someone right now, the time and energy you have to devote to that. It’s convenient to be able to say to someone at 11pm, ‘Are you around?’ You can’t really do that in a normal dating situation.”

Mark says: “It’s a bit like a relationship-lite. We usually see each other once a fortnight maximum, and the vibe is always quite intimate – even though it is understood that it will never be any more than what it is.” He adds: “At times, when I’ve felt unsure or anxious or worried or sad or lonely, it’s been incredibly comforting. And then at other times it’s just been really good fun – we do get on really well, and we have amazing sex.”

For Laura, “It’s always a bit more exciting, because you don’t fall into the same repetitive boring patterns of being in a relationship. You never get past that honeymoon period.” It also means she can avoid dating apps. “I don’t like modern dating – I don’t like sacrificing an evening to meet someone I’ll probably know instantly isn’t someone that I have any connection with, and then have a drink and be polite or whatever, for an allotted amount of time, before I can leave.”

But for Laura – unlike for Rachel – there is a downside. “There is something weirdly arrested about the whole situation. If you can never get past a certain point of closeness because you’ve imposed rules – verbally or non-verbally – on how close you can get, then there are going to be times where you feel that barrier.” You start wondering, she says, why don’t I know about all of your life? Why don’t you know my friends? It is not that this kind of relationship is better or worse than more traditional monogamous relationships, “but the nature of the thing is that it has its own limitations,” she says. “It’s also not something you can explain to friends and family. I’m seeing someone and it’s been going on a really long time but we’re not together – you can’t explain that to your mum, can you?” She laughs.

Things go wrong, in Moyle’s experience, when people change, or when they do not stick to the boundaries they have established at the start. “Difficulties tend to come up when one partner meets somebody new, or if they decide to end it. There is a sense of a relationship even if they want it not to be a relationship, because we have a form of a relationship with anyone we are regularly connecting with.”

This is what Mary found. She is a mother of three in her early 40s who divorced five years ago, and she has been having regular sex with a male friend. But it is now proving more complex than she had hoped. She has developed feelings of attachment for him, and he for her. This might sound like a Harry Met Sally happy ending, but, as she explains, it is not. “We weren’t supposed to. It’s complicated because he wants to spend more time with me, and I don’t want the same – I don’t want a relationship, as I am concentrating on my girls. It has been draining, as it’s getting in the way of our friendship. I think you have to lay down rules at the beginning and stick to them – or someone will get hurt.”

There is a name for two people having regular sex with each other on the understanding that it will not grow into a loving, committed relationship – in fact there are several names. “Friends with benefits” is one, “non-relationships” another. But, for the people I spoke to, none of these terms accurately encapsulates what is going on. For Emily Witt, the author of Future Sex, a book about contemporary sexuality, the name is important. “If you don’t have a name for what you’re doing, if you don’t have the words to describe your own reality, it increases your sense of alienation,” she says.

The best term she has found is “erotic friendship”, and, she says, erotic friendships have value. “In popular culture maybe they’re seen as cheap or disposable or a waste of time, but I think they’re places where you can learn a lot. You get to learn somebody’s sexual quirks and the diversity of what turns people on and what they want, you practise communicating your own desires and don’t just assume the person can intuit them. That experience really is worthwhile.”

Yet, Moyle says, these kinds of relationships have traditionally been stigmatised: people such as Rachel, Mary, Mark and Laura are depicted as people who don’t want to or can’t commit, people who want it all. “I guess it doesn’t fit with the historically expected monogamous model, therefore it’s considered ‘other’,” she says. “But we don’t have to conform to the traditional heteronormative model of man meets woman, they get engaged, married, have kids.”

This rings true for Rachel. “We still hold on to this idea of romantic love as a kind of happy ending for women,” she says. “If I’m sleeping with my friend whom I care about and who is kind to me, and I’m not in love with him, or making plans around our bond, I don’t think anybody’s being shortchanged – it just feels like a way to have fun together and enjoy closeness and human connection.” That idea of romantic love is what provides the happy ending of When Harry Met Sally, but, as Witt says, “that Hollywood thing, where any close friendship between people who might be sexually attracted to each other ends up in true love – that’s just not how it is”.

Perhaps if there were less stigma, and we knew more stories like Rachel’s, more single people would find themselves saying the film’s other most famous line: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Complete Article HERE!

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A Dating App for Three, Plus

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Nonmonogamous coupling — and “thruppling” — has been lubricated by the internet.

By Haley Mlotek

Feeld is a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.

If you’re single, you can set up an account stating your preferences and curiosities, as you might with any other service. The app lists 20 possibilities for sexuality alone, including heteroflexible (straight-ish) and homoflexible (gay, for the most part).

But couples and partners can sign up, too, in service of finding a third — or a fourth.

The app was released in 2014 by Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, two graphic designers living in London, as 3nder (pronounced “Thrinder”). They hoped to appeal to individuals and partners looking to join or have threesomes. But after Tinder filed a lawsuit and the company rebranded as Feeld (as in “playing the”), the founders said they welcomed the opportunity to expand the mission of the app.

“Feeld is a platform for alternative dating, for people who are beyond labels,” Ms. Kirova said in an interview. “They can meet each other without the necessity of coming from a very defined place with a very defined requirement.”

According to the company, the majority of Feeld users are between the ages of 26 and 32, and they cluster in major cities: New York, London, São Paulo, Los Angeles and Paris. About 35 percent are on the app with a partner, and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. (Gender options include nonbinary, intersex and two-spirit, as well as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer and gender-questioning.)

Feeld facilitates types of sexual attachment that are not exactly novel, but are often described in novel terms. (See “thrupple,” a term sometimes used to describe a romantic partnership for three people.) And it’s certainly popular, or at least, of growing interest to many. The company did not provide the most up-to-date download information (in 2016, it reported 1.5 million downloads), but says there are currently 12,000 connections made on Feeld and an average of 100,000 messages sent on a daily basis.

It’s not just the vocabulary of sex and sexuality that has evolved.

The rhetoric of relationships has become increasingly about labor (a lasting romance takes work), and the rhetoric of labor has become about relationships (each company is a family). Consequently, start-up origin stories are often expressed as love stories — the result of passion and ambition, open communication and ready collaboration. For Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova, who began dating six years ago, those semantics are true in every sense. They made Feeld as much for their users as for themselves.

Mr. Trifonov said that they had been together for two years when Ms. Kirova revealed she also had feelings for a woman. “She felt really bad about it, like she was doing something wrong,” he said.

The two met in London, though they were both raised in Bulgaria, an environment Ms. Kirova described as rigid. “If you’re not straight, you’re not normal,” she said. Ms. Kirova considered herself and Mr. Trifonov to be open-minded — “artistic” is how she put it — but it took her a long time to question her own straightness. “That moment when things started shaking and changing, I was like, I’m losing my identity,” she said.

Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova wanted to stay together while also giving Ms. Kirova space to try other relationships, but they didn’t like the options available to them. (They decided to search as a couple.) They felt unfairly judged by the label “swingers,” and recall users on other dating apps reaching out to say they shouldn’t be in spaces intended for single people.

Thus, Feeld was born.

The company struggled to find funding at first: Mr. Trifonov said many prospective investors considered the app “adult entertainment,” which venture capitalists tend to avoid for reasons as legal as they are moral. (On that, Mr. Trifonov said: “How come you can’t differentiate pornography from sexuality? These are two different things.”) Apps like Tinder and Bumble don’t advertise their utility when it comes to polyamorous exploration, but they can be used to the same end. (OkCupid recently added a feature that allows couples to link their accounts in their pursuit of a third.)

Eventually an angel investor swooped in to save Feeld, but the fact that the business is sex-related has presented other challenges.

An attempt to build a Feeld integration for Slack, which would allow co-workers to anonymously confess their office crushes, was, unsurprisingly, shut down — a human resources complaint waiting to happen (the company told Mr. Trifonov it was a violation of their developer policy). The money transfer app TransferWise temporarily blocked Feeld’s ability to collect money for paid memberships (which offer more privacy) because Feeld was considered “adult content.” Mr. Trifonov also claims he was refused an office rental because the landlord didn’t approve of the nature of their business.

Now, the company is up and running more or less smoothly, with some 20 people employed. In the tradition of small businesses everywhere, all workers do multiple tasks, and titles are given more for the benefit of people outside than those within it. (The company also runs an event series on nonmonogamy and put out a magazine.) Ms. Kirova describes herself as being responsible for general product leadership, long-term conceptual ideas, as well as much of the hiring and personnel decisions. Mr. Trifonov, the founder and head of the operation, believes she’s just being modest: “She’s like the unicorn of the company,” he said.

If they had stayed simply a threesome app, Mr. Trifonov believes it would have died as a threesome app. “When I started Feeld I thought — like every other founder, I guess — this company isn’t going to be like other companies,” he said.

I asked if he thought that there was some overlap between the two expectations: that social mores, from business to the bedroom, are better overthrown than followed. “I guess they overlap somehow, don’t they?” he replied. “When you have the mind-set of questioning things, it applies everywhere. We questioned our relationship. We questioned the way the business will work.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How this polyamorous couple makes their marriage work

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‘Just because it doesn’t look or sound ‘normal,’ doesn’t mean that it can’t be wildly beautiful’

Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders, a married polyamorous couple, talk candidly about sex and relationships on their podcast Turn Me On.

Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders have talked about sex and relationships more than most couples.

That’s partly because they co-host Turn Me On, a podcast they describe as “a no-holds-barred conversation about what it is to be a sexual being in the world.”

It’s also because they’re a married, polyamorous couple, and in the last few years they’ve been navigating the rocky terrain that comes with opening up a committed relationship. Polyamory is a form of non-monogamy in which individuals form intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.

Today MacLean has a long-term boyfriend. Saunders has a long-term girlfriend and casually dates other people.

“Together the four of us have a very platonic and supportive relationship,” said Saunders.

He recognizes that their marriage is not a conventional one.

“I also feel like it’s important to remind people that just because it doesn’t look or sound ‘normal,’ or doesn’t fit inside a particular box that that you’re used to, doesn’t mean that it can’t be wildly beautiful and work really well, and be super valuable to the people involved.”

Here are some of things that have helped keep their marriage on track.

Put it on paper

Bryde MacLean: “[Before opening up our marriage] we wrote up a contract [which is on our website] in as much detail as we could about all the potential concerns we had. Don’t talk about our problems with other people, don’t criticize each other with other people, have lots of respect and no sleep-overs… We pretty much reviewed and edited that, almost every day, if not once a week, for the least the first six months to a year. It really helped us define what we were doing as we went.”

Be trustworthy

Bryde MacLean: “I remember the first time Jeremie told me that he was in love with somebody else. That was really, really challenging. After a couple of weeks of them hanging out a lot, I had to ask him, to ask them both, if they could take it a little slower, if they could limit the number of days per week … Neither one of them wanted to do that, because you’re in the the energy of a new relationship and it’s exciting … But they did and it was really respectful. It’s really important to be trustworthy.”

Work together

Jeremie Saunders: “It was always an experience that we were doing together, not separately, even though we are separately seeing other people, we’re doing this as a team.”

Choose your path

Bryde MacLean: “It doesn’t have to be … one path fits all. And if you choose monogamy, that’s fantastic. You’ve just got to choose it. If it’s something that you just fall into, because that’s all you’ve ever been taught, then you might feel like something’s wrong with you if it’s not working. It’s just important to recognize that there are there are other choices and they don’t have to threaten one another.”

Family matters

Jeremie: “My parents are super cool and they’ve always been very supportive. We struck gold with the people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with, because they’ve all been extraordinarily supportive and understanding and excited for us.”

Bryde MacLean: “In Jeremie’s family, Bekah (his girlfriend) and I will both be over for Christmas and birthdays… That evolution has been really nice.”

Complete Article HERE!

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What Is Polyamory and How Does It Work?

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Polyamory has steadily moved from the margins to mainstream society over the past couple of decades. The rise of the internet has helped this scattered, taboo community connect, grow, and educate others. Personally, nearly six years in this community has provided a wealth of knowledge, but for now, let’s stick to the basics: What is (and isn’t) polyamory and how does it work?

Ethical Non-Monogamy

This umbrella term encompasses everything from polyamory to that conversation you have with your new Tinder beau-ty call about not being exclusive. Generally, however, people throw this term around when their relationships are on the casual end of the spectrum. Ethical non-monogamy is the practice of having multiple romantic/sexual partners who know about each other.

Polygamy and polyandry — usually ostracized from the main community due to consent and agency issues — are cultural forms of these relationships where one person acts as a vertex to many other partners who are bound to them by marriage. Vertices aren’t always bad; they occur as vees (only two partners) and are accepted in other relationship structures. The difference lies in how the wives and husbands of these relationships are not allowed the same freedom to explore beyond the vertex partner.

Open Relationships

Many people get their feet wet with ethical non-monogamy by opening up their relationships so one or both partners date or have sex with other people. Swinging technically falls into this category but is strictly sexual and its own vibrant community altogether. An open relationship tends to have the most rules in order to preserve the core relationship. Rules can range from not sleeping with friends to restricting queer/pansexual/bisexual people to only dating people of their gender.

Too many rules can put pressure on the core relationship and often ignore the sexual and emotional agency of any third parties. Some of these open couples go “unicorn hunting” for those open to threesomes and completely close off the possibility of romantic attachment. Some people don’t mind, but the couples often position unicorns as disposable beings.

However, sometimes these “pairings” can blossom into polyfidelitous relationships. Polyfidelity occurs when multiple people decide to be in an exclusive relationship with each other, most commonly in the form of triads (three partners) or quads (four people). But the more the merrier!

Polyamory

Finally, you have “many loves” (the Latin translation of polyamory). Polyamory tends to focus more on romantic relationships, but it can include casual partners. The main schools of polyamory are hierarchical, anarchic, egalitarian, and solo-polyamory.

Hierarchical polyamory assigns ranks to different partners: primary, secondary, and tertiary. There’s typically only one primary and this relationship tends to include many financial and social entanglements. Secondary relationships are essentially evolved situationships where the partners are beyond casual. Sometimes they can be as romantic as a primary … without the same access. Tertiary relationships are casual and usually physically-based. Another partner type is a comet, which can fit any of these descriptions, where the couple spends long periods of time apart.

Criticism of hierarchical poly structures rests mostly on the power the primary partner holds over time, resources, and particularly, vetoes. A primary can veto aspects of or even entire relationships their partner holds. This power can lead to secondaries and tertiaries feeling neglected. Sounds like a glorified open relationship, no?

In response, anarchic and egalitarian systems aim to challenge these emotional limitations. Relationship anarchy dismantles all hierarchies in platonic, sexual, and romantic relationships. It’s the least possessive relationship structure since all parties are completely autonomous and do not restrict each other. Anecdotally, however, straight men often use the term to avoid commitment.

Egalitarian and/or non-hierarchical polyamory is similar to relationship anarchy. These structures don’t fold platonic relationships into the anarchic ethos, aren’t usually as anti-heteronormativity, and can be conventionally couple-centric.

Finally, solo-polyamory occurs when someone views themselves as their primary. External relationships can have hierarchies or not (usually the latter), but commonly, there is no desire to cohabitate, merge finances, etc. with any partners.

Partner’s partners, known as metamours, help form a network known as a polycule. Metamours can have little to no contact or develop friendships and even romantic/sexual relationships with each other. No matter how involved the members are in each other’s lives, everyone should have a sense of at least who their metamours. It’s a marker of good communication throughout the polycule and a deterrent to jealousy.

What About Jealousy?

Jealousy still happens, especially at first. Jealousy in the early stages of polyamory can be a remnant of the possessiveness of monogamy.

Unlearning societal norms, learning about yourself, and fostering open communication can help uncover boundaries while also pushing them. Sometimes, genuine neglect occurs as partners figure out how to navigate polyamory, but you can only correct this by talking to each other.

Once you’re a poly veteran, jealousy doesn’t completely release you, but it’s more likely to be defined by an insecurity. Paraphrasing musician, activist, and general badass Kiran Gandhi, jealousy is a sign to your brain that you’re missing something in your life and a call to action to obtain it.

Usually, polyamorous relationships are full of compersion — the joy of knowing that someone else makes a partner happy. Because happiness isn’t meant to be exclusive; it’s always better when shared.

For an even deeper primer on ethical non-monogamy, snag a copy of The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton.

Complete Article HERE!

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The sex trends experts predict will be huge in 2019

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By Ellen Scott

You might not think that sex has trends.

Sex is sex, right? There can’t be that much you can change about it.

But sex trends do indeed exist, whether in terms of the tech we’re using to get off, the type of relationships we have, or our views of sexual acts.

The good news is that as long as you’re having consensual fun, it really doesn’t matter if you stay ahead of the curve.

If you are keen on being at the cutting edge of sexual stuff, though, you’re in luck, as sex toy brand Lelo has just released their predictions for the top sex trends of 2019.

Just do everything on the list then pat yourself on the back for being the trendiest, sexiest person ever. Congrats.

Open relationships and polyamory

Of course, polyamory is not a new concept. But thanks to documentaries (oh hey, Louis Theroux), celebs and influencers sharing stories of how polyamory and open relationships can work, the idea of non-monogamy is becoming more widely accepted.

Think of how BDSM was pushed on to everyone’s radar by Fifty Shades Of Grey. The same sort of thing is happening with polyamory.

Sex dolls

Not the ones you’re imagining, blow up ones with holes for mouths.

We’re talking fancy sex dolls made to feel and look incredibly lifelike, made with silicone and internal skeletons for a more human feel.

Artificial Intelligence

With the rise of household devices such as Alexa and Google Home, it’s no surprise we’ll start using artificial intelligence in the bedroom, too.

This can range from vibrators that collect your data and adjust to give you an orgasm every time to sex robots who respond to dirty talk and adjust their personalities to fit your desires.

Yes, the techphobes among us will be freaked out, but 2019 will be a cool year when it comes to seeing how far we can take sex tech.

Being single

Blame Ariana Grande.

Lelo reckons that in 2019 we’ll see more women remaining happily single later into their lives, with no desire to get into relationships.

Self-dating will be on the rise, as will treating yourself to all the toys you could ever want to provide satisfaction solo.

Male pleasure

Will 2019 be the year we finally accept that men can enjoy sex toys too?

The sex toy market will launch a bunch of new male sex toys this year, including prostate massagers and masturbation sleeves, which will hopefully normalise something that’s, well, very normal: using tools to masturbate more effectively.

New sensations

Vibration is great, but Lelo says 2019 will see the rise of newer, fresher ways to stimulate pleasure.

The brand’s Sona sex toy, released in 2018, uses sonic waves to stimulate the clitoris, to drive pleasure much deeper in the body.

You’ll also spot more toys that use pulsing or suction.

Complete Article HERE!

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A strong libido and bored by monogamy:

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the truth about women and sex

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When a heterosexual couple marries, who’s likely to get bored of sex first? The answer might surprise you…

What do you know about female sexuality? Whatever it is, chances are, says Wednesday Martin, it’s all wrong. “Most of what we’ve been taught by science about female sexuality is untrue,” she says. “Starting with two basic assertions: that men have a stronger libido than women, and that men struggle with monogamy more than women do.”

Martin pulls no punches. Her bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue cast her as an anthropologist observing the habits of her Upper East Side neighbours. She claimed among other shockers that privileged stay-at-home mothers were sometimes given a financial “wife bonus” based on their domestic and social performance. The book caused a furore, and is currently being developed as a TV series, with Martin as exec producer. Her new book, out this week, should be equally provocative. Entitled Untrue, it questions much that we thought we knew about women’s sexuality.

Her starting-point is that research into human sexuality has been, historically, overwhelmingly male-centric; “notable sexologists”, starting with Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) are mostly male. You have to scroll through another 25, including Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, before you arrive at a female name: Mary Calderone (1904-1998), who championed sex education. And even in the subsequent 30 names there are only five women, including both Virginia Johnson (partner of the famous, and male, William Masters), and Shere Hite.

All these men made certain assumptions about women’s sexuality. It’s no surprise that it was Hite who revolutionised thinking on female orgasm, arguing that it was not “dysfunctional” to fail to climax during intercourse. Crucial, too, says Martin, has been the work of Rosemary Basson, who realised that spontaneous desire, the kind sexologists had measured for years, was only one type of relevant desire, and that responsive or triggered sexual response is much more important for women. Measured on that scale it turns out that women are, in fact, every bit as sexually arousable as men.

New findings showed that women reported similar intensities of desire and arousal to men, and “a real shift in thinking” about females and monogamy. “We were taught that men were the ones who needed variety, but the exact opposite turns out to be the case,” says Martin. “Overfamiliarisation with a partner and desexualisation kills women’s libido. We used to think it’s only men who became sexually bored after marriage; turns out that’s not true. It’s when women get married that it’s detrimental to their libido.”

Martin isn’t here to talk about her own relationship, but for the record she’s 53, has been married for 18 years, still lives in New York, and has two sons aged 17 and 10 who are, predictably enough, “mortified” at what their mother writes about. She hopes her work will help validate the feelings of the next generation of young women: “It’s not about giving them permission to ‘cheat’, not even giving them permission to refuse monogamy, but I hope it does give them permission to feel normal if they don’t like monogamy,” she says. Because that’s the central fallacy: the belief that monogamy is harder for men than for women. In fact, argues Martin, the exact opposite is the case. “Women crave novelty and variety and adventure at least as much as men, and maybe more.” She talks me through what she says is the classic pathway for women when they marry or commit to one heterosexual partner long-term (the research has so far concentrated on heterosexual couples; more work is needed on gay women’s sex lives). “A couple live together, their libidos are matched, and they have a lot of sex. But after a year, two years, maybe three years, what tends to happen is that the woman’s desire drops more quickly than the man’s. At that point the woman thinks, ‘I don’t like sex any more.’ But what, in fact, is happening is that she is having a hard time with monogamy; because women get bored with one partner more quickly than men do.”

So women are socialised to believe that they’ve gone off sex, when in fact they’re craving variety. Instead of being the brake on passion, says Martin, the female half of the long-term partnership is the key to a more adventurous and exciting sex life. What it’s all about, she explains, is the existence of the only entirely pleasure-seeking organ in the human repertoire, the clitoris. For her portrait, she wears a necklace shaped like one. “Women evolved to seek out pleasure, women are multiply orgasmic, women’s biology sets them up to seek out pleasure,” says Martin. “The clitoris has a very important back story about female human sex which is that our sex evolved for the purpose of adventure.”

Another element in the mix, she says, was the finding that a third of women who are having an extramarital relationship say their marriage or long-term partnership is happy or very happy. “So we need to understand that women aren’t just seeking variety because they’re unhappy, they’re seeking it because they need variety and novelty,” she says.

What does all this mean, in a practical sense, for our sex lives? Martin doesn’t like the word “cheating” – she prefers to use the term “step out” – and that’s what some women decide to do. But it’s not the only solution. “There are many women who are suffering but don’t want to leave their relationship or to step out, and they’ve not yet discovered vibrators,” says Martin. “I can’t tell you how many women have told me they never had a vibrator – there’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. And there are all these new vibrators out there – and anything new you can introduce will make a big difference to your sex life.” Another way forward can be for a couple to open up their relationship in some way, and invite someone else in. And she has other ideas up her sleeve that seem a lot less risqué, like going on a zip wire, taking up dance lessons or going scuba diving together. Why does that help? “Research on the neurochemicals has found that our sexual desire is triggered when we do something new with a long-term partner. A thrilling activity is ideal: it can give you a wash of hormones that makes you feel new to each other again.”

Indeed, part of the narrative seems to be that men are too quick to settle for “the usual” (which makes sense now we know they’re not the ones who are bored); but opening up the conversation about what else they could try can relight the fuse. The trick here, counsels Martin, is for them to keep on and on asking. “Men really caring about what women want sexually makes a huge difference. You might need to have the conversation over and over, and women might keep saying they’re happy with things as they are – but keep asking, and eventually women will open up about their sexual fantasies. We find that their menus are more varied than men’s. Men are shocked, but also gratified and thrilled, when they find out how sexually exciting we can be when we get past the inhibitions that have been socialised into us.”

Paradoxically, there’s been a parallel shift in attitudes towards extramarital affairs and divorce alongside the growing studies into women’s sexuality. Martin quotes the US statistics: in 1976, fewer than half of well-educated Americans thought having an affair was always wrong; by 2013, that figure was 91%. “We’ve become a lot less tolerant of infidelity in recent years,” says Martin. “And meanwhile divorce has become much more common: a large number of people in the 1970s who thought affairs were OK, thought divorce was wrong.”

So at the precise moment science reveals women have the bigger “need” to be sexually adventurous, society clamps down on infidelity. And that, says Martin, is hugely significant. “The way we feel about women who refuse monogamy is an important metric for how we feel about equality.” She’s talking, she says, about women who openly refuse monogamy by being polyamorous. The overwhelming story we buy into, after all, is that men who “cheat” are just “men being men”; women who “step out” are far more likely to be criticised and shamed. Ultimately, though, they’re challenging something very deep in society’s expectations of them – and perhaps their stance is the most radical female stance of all.

Complete Article HERE!

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What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamorous Relationships

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By Samantha Cooney

Polyamory — having more than one consensual sexual or emotional relationship at once — has in recent years emerged on television, mainstream dating sites like OkCupid and even in research. And experts who have studied these kinds of consensual non-monogomous relationships, say they have unique strengths that anyone can learn from.

Consensual non-monogamy can include polyamory, swinging and other forms of open relationships, according to Terri Conley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who has studied consensual non-monogamy. While there aren’t comprehensive statistics about how many people in America have polyamorous relationships, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that one in five people in the U.S. engage in some form of consensual non-monogamy throughout their lives.

But these relationships can still be shrouded in stigma. And people in polyamorous relationships often keep them a secret from friends and family.

“Often they’re scared of losing their jobs, not getting a job, losing family or friends who won’t respect them anymore or scared that their children will be taken away,” says Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia and the author of What Love Is: And What It Could Be.

But Jenkins, who participates in polyamorous relationships herself, cautions that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships. “One impression that I don’t want to give is that I think polyamorous relationships are better for everyone,” she says. “We’re all very different from one another.”

Still, experts who study relationships say polyamorous relationships can provide useful lessons for monogamous couples. Here are a few areas where, researchers say, polyamorous couples are particularly successful:

Communication

Successful monogamous relationships require communication about desires, needs and problems, says Joanne Davila, a professor of clinical psychology at Stony Brook University who studies monogamous relationships. And this is one area where polyamorous couples excel.

A May 2017 study published in PLOS One noted that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships communicate to “negotiate agreements, schedules, and boundaries, and to work through the kinds of problems that emerge when negotiating polyamory, amongst the typical relational problems that can emerge in any relationship.” The study found that polyamorous individuals tend to communicate better with their primary partner than secondary partners — because “greater communication may be necessary for primary relationships to endure while other relationships are pursued.”

This is one area particularly relevant to monogamous couples, according to Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at UCLA who researches monogamous relationships. “I don’t see studying non-monogamous couples as studying a totally separate country with no relevance to monogamy at all,” he says. “Consensually non-monogamous couples might have a lot to teach everybody about negotiating desire and competing interests.”

Defining the relationship

Polyamorous partners often define boundaries and form agreements about what each relationship should look like, and Conley says these agreements can be beneficial to monogamous relationships, where partners might assume they’re on the same page about what monogamy means.

When deciding to enter a relationship, “there might be a conversation beyond that about what that means: does it mean we’re monogamous? What does it mean to be monogamous?” Conley says. “For some people, even mere thoughts of attraction to someone else can be defined as cheating. For other people, anything but intercourse is OK.”

Polyamorous relationships can take many different forms. Sometimes, partners will know each other and form a family-like network sometimes called “kitchen table polyamory“, according to Kate Kincaid, a psychologist at Tucson Counseling Associates who works with polyamorous couples. Another style, known as “parallel polyamory,” means that all of the partners are aware of each other, but have little to no contact, Kincaid explains.

Kincaid says that she works with couples to figure out which model is best for them — though she often recommends kitchen table polyamory because it’s often more efficient for all parties to communicate directly. She says that one of the biggest challenges she encounters with polyamorous couples is time management.

“Everyone jokes that love is not a finite resource, but time is,” Kincaid says. “You can have multiple partners you want to see a lot — you have to negotiate time and space to do that.”

Practicing safe sex

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that individuals in polyamorous relationships were more likely to practice safe sex than those who cheat in monogamous relationships. The study showed that monogamous individuals often consider monogamy a safe sex practice in and of itself, so “sexually unfaithful individuals may reject safer sex strategies because of the presence of a stable relationship.”

Kincaid says that she works with clients to fill out a questionnaire about what sexual acts they’d be comfortable with them doing with other partners to make sure they’re on the same page. Amy Moors, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University who conducted the 2012 study with Conley, says consensually non-monogamous couples often make explicit agreements with partners to use condoms and get information about STI history with each new partner.

“They have to navigate the sexual health of a bunch of people,” Moors says. “Implicit in that is that there’s very clear conversations about sexual health that are happening in consensual non-monogamous relationships that may not be happening in monogamous relationships.”

But in monogamous relationships, couples often “stop using condoms as a covert message of intimacy: now, we’re really dating,” Moors says. But if a monogamous individual decides to cheat on their partner, there’s no guarantee he or she will practice safe sex.

Managing jealousy

You might think that having multiple romantic partners would elicit more jealousy than being in a monogamous relationship. But according to a a 2017 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, that’s not necessarily the case.

The study, which surveyed 1,507 people in monogamous relationships and 617 people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, found that people in consensual non-monogamous relationships, including those who engaged in polyamory and swinging, scored lower on jealousy and higher on trust than those in monogamous relationships.

“People in monogamous relationships were really off the charts high on jealousy. They were more likely to check their partners’ phones, go through their emails, their handbags,” Moors says. “But people in consensual non-monogamous relationships were really low on this.”

Davila, who also works as a couples therapist, says that she’s observed monogamous couples avoid addressing jealousy altogether, whereas consensual non-monogamous couples might be more vocal with their feelings. “In consensual non-monogamous relationships, jealousy is expected,” Davila says. “But they see what feelings arise and actively work to navigate them in a proactive way.”

Maintaining a sense of independence

Another area where polyamorous couples tend to excel, according to Kincaid, is allowing their partners to maintain a sense of independence outside of their relationship. Conley and Moors found in their 2017 study that monogamous couples are more likely to sacrifice their own needs for the sake of their relationship, while polyamorous couples put their own personal fulfillment first.

“The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways — relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person,” Kincaid says. “Once [monogamists] get into a relationship, they tend to value their romantic partner above everyone else.”

She suggests that doing the former allows your relationships to be deeper and can enable you to get a lot more support from your loved ones.

Karney says that he could also see how having your needs met by others might strengthen consensual non-monogamous relationships.

“If we’re a married monogamous couple, we have to figure out what to do about our problems. We’re either going to avoid them, resolve them or break up,” Karney says. “But if I’m in a non-monogamous relationship and I have the same problem, I might not have to resolve it if I’m not getting all my needs met from you.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How Satisfying Are Open Relationships Compared To Monogamy?

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Monogamy;— to have only one partner at a time — is considered a social standard in modern human society. But is it a necessary component of a satisfactory relationship?

Canadian researchers present new findings, suggesting that it may not have to be the ideal relationship structure. People in open relationships report feeling just as happy and content as those in conventional, monogamous ones.

The study titled “Reasons for sex and relational outcomes in consensually nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships on March 23.

“We are at a point in social history where we are expecting a lot from our partners. We want to have sexual fulfillment and excitement but also emotional and financial support,” said lead author Jessica Wood, a Ph.D. student in applied social psychology at the University of Guelph.

“Trying to fulfill all these needs can put pressure on relationships. To deal with this pressure, we are seeing some people look to consensually non-monogamous relationships.”

While monogamy is omnipresent, Wood said that open relationships are actually more common than most people would expect. Currently, somewhere between three to seven percent of people in North America are said to be in a consensual, non-monogamous relationship.

For the study, the team surveyed around 200 people in monogamous relationships and around 140 people in open relationships to compare the data sets. Both groups were asked questions regarding how satisfied they felt, whether they considered separating, general happiness levels, etc.

Research has shown that many people tend to have a negative perception of open relationships. Some find it to be immoral, some equate it to cheating or sex addiction, and some simply believe it offers low levels of satisfaction.

“It’s assumed that people in these types of relationships are having sex with everyone all the time. They are villainized and viewed as bad people in bad relationships, but that’s not the case,” Wood said. “This research shows us that our choice of relationship structure is not an indicator of how happy or satisfied we are in our primary relationships.”

The results of the study revealed that people in open relationships actually had similar levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships.

Sexual motivation appeared to be the biggest predictor of satisfaction, regardless of relationship structure. This was because of how closely sexual satisfaction is tied to our psychological needs.

“In both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, people who engage in sex to be close to a partner and to fulfill their sexual needs have a more satisfying relationship than those who have sex for less intrinsic reasons, such as to avoid conflict,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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