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More About Being Open

I’ve had reason to think about this some more and the one thing I gotta point out that if you’ve opened up your relationship to other folks, um, this ain’t a competition, something I’ve found that causes people to fail in this.  Being open just isn’t about who’s having the most fun or successes and who’s not having that much fun and being successful seems to be a pipe dream.

It’s about experiencing an unorthodox way to grow as individuals and as a couple and turning this into a competition will only foster a lot of resentment.  If your being open isn’t about “us” then I feel you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons; being open is an extension of what you already have and, as such, still requires for your relationship to be worked on… constantly because just like being monogamous, your open relationship will not run all by itself.

Yep, you go open and you start laying down rules and stuff – there’s no way I know of to be open and without a foundation of rules.  However, a lot of people fail in this because they never factor in the fact that things change and when you don’t allow for change in any of this, well, drama will always happen.  And, of course, communication – open and honest communication – becomes even more important because if you’re not in touch with what’s going on in your minds – thoughts, feelings, stuff like that, you are royally fucked if you aren’t able to share everything you’re experiencing in this and no matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent.

Other than what I like to call Rule Number One – “Always take care of home first” – the next important thing is having a shared vision in this and one that encompasses your whole relationship and not just individual wants and needs.  It’s not that those wants and needs don’t ever form the basis for being open but if you’re not thinking about how your individual wants and need can benefit your relationship as a whole, you’re just not doing it in what I’d have to say is a smart way; if you’re not truly together in this, yep, you’re fucked and not in a good way.

Not only is it not really all that easy to get the ball rolling in this, it’s not easy to get everything “settled in” to where everyone is comfortable; again, this takes work and just will not happen on its own and it most certainly isn’t going to happen quickly – this shit takes time as well as effort and if you’re not of a mind to take/spend the time to make sure things do settle in nicely, you’re doing it wrong in my opinion.  Until y’all get settled in, everything is trial and error and you have to accept that, yep, you’re gonna make mistakes – then the trick is not letting those mistakes make you fail.  If you don’t support each other in this, ya might be doomed because I can’t say it enough:  This ain’t just about you – this is an “us” thing.  How can we be better with and for each other?  How can what we experience in this give us both individual growth as well as continued growth as a couple – and then in as many positive ways as we can manage?

You talk, openly and honestly… and talk some more, and keep talking because it’s not really one’s activities that causes a terminal failure – it’s that lack of effective communication that’ll do it.  Every concern needs to be addressed when it comes up; holding shit back from the discussion is beyond self-defeating.  In the beginning, yeah, it’s kinda easy for resentment to sneak into things and it’s not just one person’s job to deal with this – it takes a combined effort so that any resentment and all those other negative feelings are squashed – and then always keeping in mind that negative feelings are always gonna crop up and you just need a good plan on how to deal with this.

Being open is a terribly severe test of your love for each other as well as the strength and security of your relationship… and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you both become proof against the things that can cause doubt, mistrust, and a lot of other shit that could destroy your relationship.  If you don’t realize that there are a lot of occupational hazards that go along with any kind of relationship, well, I’m telling you that there are.  You just cannot ever question or doubt your love for each other!  Being open, well, it’s not just about the sex that can be had although a lot of people believe this to be true and because they do, they try to go out of their way to prevent feelings of attachment to other folks and, honestly, while this can be done, I personally think it’s a mistake and one that’s self-defeating because, uh, if you’re not allowed to feel anything for someone else other than lust, why are you even bothering to do this?

If you’re gonna experience being open, experience all of it and not just the parts that have the most appeal.  Maybe you think such… extra attachments aren’t supposed to happen and if you do, I’m here today to tell you that being cluelessly in denial about this isn’t going to help at all because if you’re human – and I’m assuming that you are – then you have the ability and capacity to feel something other than lust for someone else – and, yeah, even when you’re already madly in love with your partner.  Love has never been a “one and done” kind of thing but if you think it is, go ahead – keep thinking like that and find out how things will work… or stop working.  When my [then] wife and I first went open, yeah, I was worried sick about her falling in love with someone else and losing her… until I realized that this same thing could happen even if we weren’t open and it didn’t make any sense for us to make rules that served to prevent other feelings from taking place – and, exactly, how does one go about doing that?  You can tell yourself that you’re not gonna fall for someone else… but you just never really know – it’s impossible for you to know and if you do, um, can you pick out all of the winning lottery numbers for me?

Maybe other feelings won’t happen… but you’d better be aware of the fact that they can happen and have a plan, however tentative, for dealing with the probability of this.  Know that even if you or your partner begin to feel things other than lust for someone else, that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed or that you’re gonna suffer loss because, bluntly and honestly, if you have fears of loss, you need to not be doing this and maybe shouldn’t be in a relationship at all:  Nothing is forever.  If you dare to love, you also accept the risk of loss… but you don’t have to fear it.  Prevent it, yes; let the fear of loss drive things?  I wouldn’t do that…

Okay, time for me to get off my soapbox and find something else to do…

 
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Posted by on 3 June 2015 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

I haven’t written much about this lately and after reading a blog written by a guy about being able to deal with things like trust, fear of loss, and jealousy in (I presume) their budding poly relationship, I got to wondering about a few things connected with this.

For a lot of people, having an open relationship is anathema to them; the thought of having to share their partner with someone else is enough to trigger projectile vomiting and can make one’s bowels quite watery.  I cannot begin to give voice to all of the horrible thoughts going on in someone’s head when faced with this drastic change in the relationship dynamic and I’d have to say that, usually, if someone put this on the table for discussion, a shit storm of biblical proportions is going to take place.  Things like a lack of trust, that fear of loss, jealousy, insecurity, and a few intangible emotions come to the front and I can tell you that none of these things feel good, not when you were raised to believe that monogamy is the best and most right thing.

A lot of people totally and utter fail to open their relationship because they have no idea of what has to be done in order to make it work; it requires some very serious changes, not only in the relationship’s dynamics but at the person level and once you firmly (and even rabidly) believe in monogamy, making these changes can seem to be impossible… and it’s not impossible… it’s just very damned difficult for most people to do.

Here’s the rub:  If you love them – and I mean you really love them and, going into the relationship, you know in your heart that you (a) love them unconditionally (most people can’t do this, by the way – there’s always a “but” somewhere) and (b) you know that short of doing something highly illegal – like committing murder – you’d do anything for them, when hit with the open relationship/swinger/polyamory things, you have some choices:  Do nothing and let whatever is driving this change continue to poison the relationship; divorce or otherwise leave them because your personal values are more important than the joined goals of living long and prospering with each other come hell or high water; or you can improvise, adapt, and overcome the difficulties in this because your love for each other demands that doing nothing or dissolving the relationship is not in the best interest of things for either one of you.

As I’ve written about in the past, I had to get through this change in the relationship dynamic and it wasn’t even close to being easy to do.  I learned that instead of approaching this from a purely emotional standpoint – and that’s the “normal” reaction, I had to approach this in a way that would bring every bit of intelligence and logic I possessed to bear.  Once I got over the initial emotional tidal wave, I asked myself a question:  “If you love her (and there was no question whether I did or not), what are you willing to do to keep her and to keep the relationship alive and as well as possible?”  The emotional side said, “Not one damned thing!” and went on a rant about being betrayed and all that… but the intelligent side said, “Well, now, there is a way this could work and here’s what I’m thinking about…”

Was this a trust issue?  Nah, not really because I’d routinely trust her with my life and not give much thought about it.  Was this about fear of loss?  Oh, hell, yeah it was!  Emotionally, my gods, that’s a bitch (putting it mildly) to have hammering at your but, logically, I realized that I was getting upset about something that is an occupational hazard of being in a relationship with someone:  There is no guarantee (and despite marriage vows) that you cannot lose them to someone else and, really, nothing is forever – everything ends at some point.  For me, it became an issue of whether or not I wanted to continue to be bothered by this fear when, in the face of cold, hard, unemotional, logic, there’s not a whole lot I can do about loss other than do whatever I could to prevent a premature loss or, if I did lose her to someone else, it wasn’t going to be because I did (or didn’t do) something to precipitate it.  And, my mother was quite right when she once told me, “There is always someone out there better than you…” and, yep, emotionally that is so fucked up to get a grip on but, logically, it makes sense so if you think that just because you vowed to keep only unto ourselves and this will prevent this loss, you’re just sadly mistaken and pretty damned arrogant to believe that you will always be everything they’re ever going to need in life.

But because we do tend to think like this, we’re ill-prepared to deal with things; there’s the way things in this are supposed to be… and then there’s life’s harsh reality that’ll let you know that you are really clueless if you really believe that something can’t change or shouldn’t.

Was my reaction a jealous one?  I’ll eat a little crow at this point and say it probably was even though, in my mind, it didn’t “feel” that way.  Was I pissed because she wanted more than I alone could give her?  Damned right I was!  Was I scared and worried about what would happen if I didn’t “cave in” to her demands?  Oh, you just have no idea and even I can’t begin to put into words what was going on inside me.  I asked myself, “What’s going on with you about this?” and, nope, it wasn’t an easy question to answer but I had to question whether I was more insecure than I believed myself to be – emotionally, the answer was, “No fucking way!” but, intelligently, the answer was, “Yeah, you are…” and then figure out how to banish jealousy or anything that resembled it because as long as I was feeling these things, all the other fears would just feed off of it.

I can “simplify” this:  Emotionally, does changing the dynamic make sense?  Nope, it doesn’t.  Does it make sense logically?  Yes, the logic isn’t all that hard to figure out:  If you don’t, you’re gonna lose them because you’re either going to leave them or they’re gonna leave you and if you forbid this, fuck, they’re just gonna do it anyway.  If you do, yeah, you could still lose them – remember, there’s always someone better than you and nothing is forever – but, ah, is there a way to do this and (a) keep them by your side (b) make the bond you share stronger while (c) not letting everything go down the drain?  Yeah, there is but even when the logic is sound – and in order for it to be sound, it cannot be tainted with emotional input – there’s still one very important thing that must be done:

Communicate.  And I mean communicate like you’ve never done it before and you’d better be ready to talk about shit that (a) couples somehow never really talk about in-depth and (b) that just pain cause you some emotional pain along the way.  And this is just in the beginning – should things get off the ground, communication becomes even more important and any failure in this is, bluntly, just gonna fuck all your shit up.  I know some folks get into the open/poly thing and invoke “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and this is an act of self-preservation… and a mistake that shouldn’t be made.  Through our communication process, I saw that while this push to be open was “about her,” there was a way to make this about “us” – it was something we could experience together and I worked out the “growth factors” and some other really deep shit – but the thing here is that if we didn’t redefine the meaning of “open communication,” then I would have no information to work with; were I to invoke DADT, I was really disconnecting myself from everything and then only to preserve my own sensibilities.

Emotionally, that makes sense… but intelligently/logically, it doesn’t – well, it didn’t to me because I’ll admit to being a bit of a control freak and the fear of not having any “control” over the whole thing scared me more than anything else did.  The real challenges for both of us were (a) are we smart enough to make this work and (b) are we – can we – be grown up enough to not only make it work but make it a thing about us instead of just a me thing.

You improvise, adapt, and overcome because if you don’t, you will make your lives miserable at the least or lose them at the worst.  There are many people who just cannot do this; their own mindset about love and monogamy can instantly put them in a defensive posture.  I’ve heard other who have been faced with this accuse the asking partner of being selfish – they’re only thinking about themselves – and being greedy – what, I’m not enough for you? – and one of the things that has to be taken into consideration – logically, not emotionally – is whether or not your rejection of this is, in fact, you being selfish and only thinking about yourself.  Of course, most of us wouldn’t think that we’re being selfish if we pitched a royal bitch about this but, yeah, step back from the emotional storm for a moment and then think about what you’re seeing.

This is not an easy thing to do and I strongly suggest to anyone thinking about doing this not to do it unless you seriously have your shit in order before you open your mouth to your partner about it.  But if you believe your shit is together and your love for your partner is strong and true and you can argue logically and your logic – your overall plan – is sound  and you are willing and able to talk about everything that has to be talked about, then together you will be able to improve, adapt, and overcome the hardships so that your relationship and life together will continue to grow and not become dangerously stagnant.

 
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Posted by on 7 April 2015 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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