I had been intrigued and fascinated by open relationships for a number of years, even if it was wondering if I would ever find a partner who was down for having a threesome every once in a blue moon or being cool with me hooking up with girls from time to time.
The thought was scary though. What if this is something that is better left playing out in my imaginations and not explored in the real world.
That curiosity was finally satiated last year when a man I met during my travels decided to give our relationship a go again. We got to design from the get go what we wanted when it came to the openness of our relationship.
Although the relationship with him ended seven months later, it was NOT (contrary to some people’s belief) the fact that it was an open relationship that caused it to end. It wasn’t about LOVE either. It had nothing to do with any of THAT.
The open part was actually what felt easiest during our time together to be radically honest.
As I sit here and think about that experience and what were the unexpected perks from exploring a long time desire of being in an open relationship, the following three things come to mind:
My communication skills became WAY better.
The success of our relationship depended on us sharing exactly what we wanted and what felt good (or not so good) when agreeing on the setup. That whole “I don’t want to tell him what I really want in case it scares him away”? Yeah, that was not an issue.
It was more about “Can I share with him what I am not comfortable with?” Way scarier, way more vulnerable. Especially because as women we for so long were taught not to complain or rock the boat or go against our partner’s wishes. But I knew that if I did not speak up* about that stuff it would only drive me crazy and slowly ruin our relationship.
*Not going to lie, it definitely helped being with someone who encouraged me to let him know what I was and was not comfortable with so that he could adjust accordingly.
A lot of it is experimenting until you find your personal groove with it and sharing in your research findings.
My sex-esteem was super high.
I felt like I was the hottest woman on earth 55% of the time (sleep accounting for the other 33% and let’s not forget the ‘no matter what I do I just feel blah- day for another 10%).
The big reason was because I didn’t have to stuff, dim or tone down my sexual attraction. There was nothing to feel guilty about. And nothing to fear when it came to his reaction or feelings about it. I could flirt. I could admire. I could just be my damn self – sexual, sensual, flirty, silly … all of it.
It felt good to know I had that spaciousness and freedom, as well as a hottie that loved me unconditionally.
My acceptance of and appreciation for all types of relationships increased greatly.
Maybe it was because I finally found something that was working for me. I felt that I wanted everyone to experience that sense of rightness, passion and harmony for themselves when it came to their relationship.
When I noticed those qualities in others it was almost like it didn’t even matter what their relationship dynamic was like. I had blinders on when it came to the ‘set up’ so to speak. Gay, straight, poly, monogamous, casual, etc … it’s all cool and it’s all good.
Find what works for you and enjoy the shit out of it.
There are a lot of dichotomies in open relationships – as there are in ANY relationship – so it reaffirmed for me how extremely nuanced relationships are for the most part. You have two unique individuals coming together and with each pairing it will be a whole new set of rules, which is why compromise is so damn important.
It may not be for everyone, but the more I explore it, the more I realize that to some degree or another, my future relationship(s) will be open … which is what I love about open, you can customize it to fit you and there are a gazillion different ways of designing it.
An open relationship is just what works for me.
Here is to your exploration in finding what works for you!
Feature Image Photo Credit: Flickr/velcr0
P.S. If you are looking for support around open relationships or sex or designing relationships, my boyfriend Bob and I (who are also in an open relationship) are working together to offer a myriad of resources and support! You can get more information at www.sexthepodcast.com (a project we created together around Sex and Relationships), as well as find out how to work with us HERE!