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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What’s The Difference Between Polyamory & An Open Relationship?

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By Kasandra Brabaw

So much of what we understand about relationships and love comes not only from the people we know, but the television characters we feel like we know. So when consensual non-monogamy started to finally get some screen time in popular shows like Broad City, more and more people were suddenly having conversations about polyamory and open relationships.

Unfortunately, examples of polyamory on television aren’t always accurate. After Ilana’s “sex friend” Lincoln hooked up with someone else in season three, she literally celebrated by jumping onto the roof of his car and yelling, “That. Is. So. Hot!” That moment sparked essays about how Broad City got polyamory right. But did it?

Sure, Ilana and Lincoln had a successful open relationship — at least until Lincoln revealed that he wanted to be monogamous and was keeping that a secret from Ilana. But the show didn’t show a polyamorous relationship. Even though they both fall under the umbrella of consensual non-monogamy, polyamory and open relationships are two very different things.

For many people, being polyamorous is an important part of their identity, not just a word to describe having multiple sexual or romantic partners at the same time. “Being polyamorous feels hard-wired to their love-lives,” says sexuality educator Aida Manduley, MSW. Meanwhile, people in an open relationship don’t necessarily think of non-monogamy as part of their identity as much as a personal preference.

Everyone’s definitions of polyamory and open relationships is personal to them, of course, and the “open relationship” label is commonly used in two different ways, according to Terri Conley, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who focuses on sexual behavior and socialization. In most cases, it’s used to encompass all forms of consensual non-monogamy — like polyamory, swinging, and the narrower definition of an open relationship. When being used to describe a particular relationship, “open” generally refers to the idea that there’s a primary partnership of two people who have given each other permission to have sex with people outside of their relationship.

The main difference, then, comes down to commitment. For people in an open relationship, connections made outside of the relationship are usually just about sex. They’re not looking for another person to love or build a second relationship with, and they likely wouldn’t introduce the people they have sex with to their primary partner. “Open relationships are more likely to have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ rule,” Dr. Conley says. That means not talking details about the sex they have outside of their primary partnership, other than to make sure everyone is in good sexual health.

Meanwhile, the word “polyamory” literally means “many loves” and that’s a good working definition. Instead of just looking for sex outside of their primary partnership, poly people are often looking for love. It’s not about having one night stands with your partner’s permission, it’s about creating deep emotional and romantic bonds with multiple people and forming a tight-knit community. It’s more of a culture in that way, says Kate Stewart, a counselor and dating coach who works with polyamorous couples. The poly community in Seattle, where she lives, is incredibly close. “Everyone knows each other, they hang out together, they party together,” she says. That closeness creates a different dynamic in their relationships than someone in an open relationship would have.

So, why are the nit-picky differences between these two words so important? Because words have power in creating and finding community. That’s also why it’s important to have accurate depictions of polyamory on television and in other forms of media, because so many of us begin to understand who we are through what we see. If there’s nowhere for polyamorous people to see a love that looks like theirs (or at least, the kind of love they want to have), then it’s unlikely that they’ll ever find the community they need.

Complete Article HERE!

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Couples Speak Honestly About Open Relationships

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[P]olyamory. Ethical non-monogamy. Open relationship. There are many ways to describe the consensual choice a couple can make to live a non-monogamous lifestyle—and ever more ways to navigate it. Maria Rosa Badia’s new short film Polyedric Love, premiering on The Atlantic today, features honest conversations with couples about the rewards and challenges of their unconventional relationships.

“We’ve always been told that there’s this one way of being with someone, and if you retract from it, it’s not right societally,” says a woman in the film. “But if it’s right instinctually…”

Making the film was an eye-opening experience for Badia, who came to see non-monogamous relationships as an inspiration, particularly with regard to overcoming jealousy. “I was moved by the couples’ honest rapport with their partners about their individual needs,” she told The Atlantic, “and how they had a very straightforward communication about it. I realized that what’s necessary for a non-monogamous relationship to work—mutual respect and communication—is absolutely necessary for a monogamous relationship, too.”

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What’s The Difference Between A Polyamorous And An Open Relationship?

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Inquiring minds would like to know…

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[B]eing in an open relationship is totally the same thing as being polyamorous, right? (Asking for a friend…)

Actually, while the two share some similar characteristics, they’re very different. “An open relationship is one where one or both partners have a desire for sexual relationships outside of each other, and polyamory is about having intimate, loving relationships with multiple people,” says Renee Divine, L.M.F.T., a sex and relationships therapist in Minneapolis, MN

Both open and poly relationships are forms of consensual non-monogamy, and technically, polyamory can be a type of open relationship, but expectations tend to be different when it comes to these relationship styles.

Are You Looking For More Love Or More Sex?

Open relationships typically start with one partner or both partners wanting to be able to seek outside sexual relationships and satisfaction, while still having sex with and sharing an emotional connection with their partner.

“People are looking for different experiences and want to meet the needs that aren’t being met in the relationship,” says Divine. But there’s never an intention for feelings to get involved.

In polyamory, the whole point is to fall in love with multiple people, and there’s not necessarily any relationship hierarchy, says Divine. For example, someone could be solo poly (meaning they want and seek poly relationships whether or not they’re dating anyone), and they may enter into two separate relationships at the same time and view each as equal.

In their nature, poly relationships are open, since they involve more than two people. But not all poly groups are looking to add more people to the dynamic, and aren’t always actively dating. This is called closed poly, meaning the group includes multiple relationships, but there’s an expectation that no one involved is expanding the group.

What Kind Of Boundaries Do You Want To Set?

In open relationships, couples may talk with their primary partner about their outside relationships, or they might decide together that it’s best to keep those exploits to themselves, says Divine. They may have sexual encounters together, in the instance of swinging, or they may go out with other people on their own.

In polyamory, there tends to be more sharing between partners about other relationships as there are emotions involved. A poly group might consider themselves “kitchen-table poly,” which means the whole group could hang out together comfortably. Two poly people might also date the same person, or have a triad-style relationship, and that typically doesn’t happen in open relationships, says Divine.

Should You Go For It?

If monogamy feels a bit restrictive to you, and you crave flexibility, open relationships or polyamory could be a good option. Which path you follow depends on what you want out of the additional relationships.

“Open relationships tend to be more focused on having sex outside a main relationship, but keeping that primary, dyadic relationship as the first priority,” says Divine. “I have run into couples where one wants a poly relationship and one wants an open relationship, but that person was not comfortable with their partner having an emotional connection with anyone but them

People might go into this because they’ve developed different needs over a long-term relationship, or because their looking to add excitement and interest to their lives. “But it revolves around a two-way love,” says Divine.

People who want to be poly, “believe you can love multiple people,” says Divine. “They’re open to additional people in that way, and they want that emotional attachment. Plural love is the main focus.”

In either case, expectations need to be clear with any partners who are making a change with you. “In some couples, one wants to try something new, and the other is okay with that, without participating themselves,” says Divine. “The key is communication. These relationships styles are all about being upfront and honest about what you want and what your needs and boundaries are. The most successful ones are those where people are on the same page.”

Complete Article HERE!

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‘Discovering my true sexual self’: why I embraced polyamory

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My husband and I were together for 12 years and had two children – but while he was happy with one person, I needed more

By Anita Cassidy

[I]t was the hardest thing I’d ever had to say to my husband, Marc. Three years ago, I sat down and told him: “The idea of having sex just with you for the next 40 years – I can’t do it any more.” But I had come to realise that my life was built around something I didn’t believe in: monogamy.

We had been together for 12 years and had two children, now nine and seven. I love being a mother and I set the bar high from the start – cloth nappies and cooking from scratch. But I needed something more in my emotional and sexual life.

Marc’s reaction was remarkable; he agreed to support me and open our marriage to other partners, although it wasn’t really what he wanted. We started counselling to try to identify the best of what we had, to save it and protect it. Sex is a big part of a relationship, but it is only a part. We didn’t want it to scupper us.

If that sounds difficult, it was. I don’t think we could have done it if we hadn’t spent most of our marriage reading, talking and exploring together.

I quickly embraced the dating scene and discovered another side of my sexual self. I enrolled on lots of sites, where you are asked specific questions about yourself and your preferences. It was illuminating: do I like this? Yes. Do I like that? Well, let’s see. They were the kind of questions I’d never been asked before – and had never asked myself.

I became convinced that traditional relationships are like an air lock. You meet someone. It’s amazing and it’s rare, and then you lock it; you shut the windows and doors, and you try desperately to keep it all to yourselves. Then the air turns sour because there’s no oxygen. You might make a sexual mistake on the spur of the moment because you are craving some – any – contact. Why not live in a world where you can have room for that connection, that spark?

I think most people’s reaction was that Marc should have kicked me out. My immediate family have been supportive, although my mother is still ambivalent. We discuss everything openly, and she understands where I’m coming from, but worries that I’m going to end up on my own. If I do, though, it will be because I have chosen that.

People who choose to be polyamorous often do so after delving deep into themselves and their desires, so it runs close to the kink scene, which was also something I wanted to explore. There’s a temptation to think that, had Marc and I explored these things together, our marriage might have worked without opening it up. I’m not sure that it would have, though, given that he wasn’t into it. It can seem quite intimidating, but I was so ready for it. The first time I went to a fetish club, I felt like I was at home – that I’d found my people.

I now have a partner of two years, Andrea. We work as a couple, but we also have sex with friends. He’s the only partner I have introduced to my children. I love Andrea and I’m very lucky to have him, but I don’t want to live with him – we both value our solitude too much. He and I can flirt with other people and ask for their number, but I still feel jealous sometimes. He went away with another woman and, yes, it was difficult.

Anita, Marc and Andrea, too: ‘I’m not sure our marriage would have worked without opening it up.’

Meanwhile, Marc and I realised we were no longer compatible. I had changed too much. We still share the family home and parent our children together. We still get on. We have counselling together, we spend Christmas together – we are still reading and learning as we used to. We wanted to keep all the bits that worked.

We have had to learn so much about communicating better, and I think the children have benefited from that. We have explained that Dad needs one person to be with and Mum needs more people to make her happy. The talk is ongoing; we won’t wait to sit them down when they are teenagers, expecting them suddenly to get it. Understanding polyamory is complicated, but monogamy is fraught with ambiguity, too.

You can craft your own polyamory, but I’m not sure I would want more than two or three other partners. I’m hoping two people I met recently will become lovers, but there’s no rush. People assume that I’m constantly having sex, but it’s not as simple as that. I want an emotional and mental connection with someone, so it takes time to build up to that.

Monogamy, meanwhile, feels more like a competition where you need to bag someone before anyone else does. None of that applies in a poly setup, which is incredibly liberating. Think how strange it would be to have only one friend. You can’t get everything from one platonic relationship. Why would you try with one lover?

But it’s a challenge: you’re swimming against the cultural norm and it’s difficult emotionally, with or without the support of an existing partner. On top of that, the amount of work involved in maintaining multiple relationships, sexual and platonic, is huge.

Andrea and I look to the future, but there are no expectations. We are part of a broader community and we think developing that is more important. Put it this way: I don’t see myself sitting on a park bench at 80 with one other person. I’d like to be part of a group of people, a community. We seem to want a silver bullet for everything. One God. One partner. But life is plural.

Marc’s view

I’d realised for a few years that Anita wasn’t completely happy, so it wasn’t a total shock when she told me she wanted to explore non-monogamy. It was upsetting to hear that what we had wasn’t meeting her needs, but it was very important to me that she was happy. If that meant her exploring a different relationship style, then I would be there to support her.

I did a lot of reading around the subject of ethical non-monogamy. It makes a lot of sense intellectually, but it doesn’t resonate with me emotionally. It didn’t feel right. I was prepared for our marriage to continue, with me being monogamous and Anita having other partners, but that proved more difficult than we envisaged.

I completely support Anita. I’m glad she has been able to share with me what she’s discovering about the honesty and communication needed to make polyamory work. It’s also true of monogamous relationships, and I hope to take what I have learned from this experience into my future relationships.

What I have always wanted – and still do – is to be with one partner, long-term, with whom I can share all of life’s rich experiences, to enjoy the journey and the inevitable changes together.

Complete Article HERE!

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What it feels like to have more than one partner

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One woman opens up about the benefits of polyamory

Tired of conventional romances, sex coach Beth Wallace embraced polyamory – being in more than one relationship at a time – and has reaped the emotional rewards

Beth Wallace

By Beth Wallace

[I]’ve been in relationships with women and men over my adult life and I guess from my teens onwards, I didn’t have that traditional heterosexual ‘normal’ perspective on relationships.

The idea that you meet someone, marry them, have kids and stay together until the day you die, that works for some people, but I think it’s a relationship choice that’s largely born out of societal norms and expectations. If you throw out that rule book of what a relationship ‘should’ look like, then what goes in its place?

“Polyamory means quite simply having a loving relationship with more than one person at a time, or being open to having a love relationship with more than one person at a time. Imagine a monogamous relationship and then imagine that with several people.

“In previous long-term relationships I’d talked with partners about the idea of having sex or relationships outside the primary relationship but it had never gone beyond the conversation. Then in my 40s I met a man who was already in an open relationship and if I wanted to be in a relationship with him then I had to be okay with how his life was already set up. That took a while to get my head around. We would be out for dinner with 12 or so people including his wife and he and I would leave together to be with each other for the night and she was fine with it. It made me question all the societal norms around relationships and this idea of how we’re supposed to behave. It redefined for me what love is.

“In my experience, polyamory is something like being gay, lesbian or bi, it’s an orientation, it’s who I am, not something that I do. It’s not something I can just switch off. If you’re a polyamorous person who finds it easy to love and be intimate with, and find a connection with, lots of people, you can’t switch that off just because someone isn’t okay with it, because then you’re going to feel like you’re not being true to yourself.

“People make a lot of assumptions. One of the most common reactions I get from women is that they think the men I’m involved with ‘just want to have their cake and eat it’. I find that very insulting because they’re assuming the male in whatever group of people it is the one calling all the shots, which isn’t my experience. Some people also assume I must be very sexually aggressive – I’m aware of some married friends who started holding their husbands a lot closer when I came out of my last relationship! But if someone is in a monogamous relationship then I would never cross that boundary. Polyamorous people are obsessed with talking about boundaries – which is hilarious because monogamous people tend to think we have none!

“In fact there’s so much discussion around boundaries, and time planning that goes on, there’s often more talking than sex. People assume being polyamorous is all about getting as much sex as you can, but it’s not like swinging or open relationships which tend to be more about sex, being polyamorous is about having a full -on relationship.

“It can be a logistical nightmare. Three relationships at once is my max. Recently I was seeing three men, two in Ireland and one outside the country. Each relationship offered me something different. With one of them, we had lots of fun. He was quite a bit younger than me and it was a very fun-based relationship where we laughed a lot and did fun, stupid things. The second guy was quite a bit older and we would have very deep meaningful conversations about life and spirituality, he brought out the philosophical aspect of my personality. The other guy was an artist who brought out the creative side of who I am.

“It can be the most emotionally challenging and difficult relationship to be in, because it really forces you to be vulnerable and deal with insecurities and excruciating jealousies. But, done right, polyamory can teach you to be an excellent communicator, very self-aware and good at listening. It also offers a very deep love for people that transcends what a relationship ‘should’ look like.

“It’s something I would say to somebody early on, because for a lot of people that would be a deal breaker. I’d tend to say ‘this is who I am, if I’m interested in someone else and I feel there’s a connection and something I want to explore, I’ll talk with you about it, but I don’t need your permission to go ahead and do anything’. That doesn’t necessarily go down very well. Most people would think that the majority of men would be super on-board with it but actually my experience is that they’re not. They might be okay with the idea of you having occasional sex outside the relationship but they’re not comfortable with an ongoing relationship. I think societal ideas of relationships are tied up with ownership, this idea that ‘you’re my woman and I don’t want ‘my’ woman having sex or being in a relationship with someone else because that makes me feel less of a man’.

“I’m not saying I would never be in a monogamous relationship, but if someone was to demand it of me, I’d be out the door. A couple of years ago I was with a guy and it got to a point where he said ‘well, you know eventually this has to stop’ and my response was ‘basically you’re saying I have to change who I am and you don’t actually love me for who I really am’ and the relationship ended.

“I’m single at the moment and happy with that. It’s hard to meet like-minded people and I find that quite a lot of openly non-monogamous people in Ireland already know each other.

“People might think that being polyamorous means you have to be in relationships, that you can’t be on your own. But I’ve found that polyamory has made me tackle my own insecurities and realise love isn’t about possession or control.

“I’ve learned not to cling on to people. Just because a relationship ends, doesn’t mean it didn’t work out. I think having the idea that there is ‘The One’ can be quite dangerous. It piles a lot of expectation on to one person and one relationship and no one person can give us everything.

“I think Ireland is becoming more open to non-traditional relationships. My family has mixed feelings about me being polyamorous varying from ‘sure whatever, if it works for you, great!’ through to ‘don’t talk to me about it’. Most of my friends are absolutely fine with my choices, although I reckon a few think ‘Oh Beth just hasn’t met the right man yet, she’ll settle down when she does’ – good luck with that!”

Beth runs a relationship course on polyamory see bethwallace.org.

Complete Article HERE!

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