Relationships come in many flavors and shapes, and there is no one size that fits all. In this day and age, more and more people are rejecting the idea of traditional monogamy in favor of more flexible relationship options. With these new options come new obstacles to overcome and communication to master. Today we tackle some common open relationship questions.
How Can I Deal With Feelings Of Jealousy And Embarrassment Around An Open Relationship?
“I would like to open up our relationship but am struggling with my feelings of jealousy and also feel shame around actually doing it. Help!”–Jealous And Embarrassed
You are in a very common position, J&E, and it is one that has to be conquered before any forward momentum can happen in shifting the nature of your relationship. The truth is, many people think about the concept of opening a preexisting relationship, but are never able to get past the first big hurdle that you are also facing.
Jealousy and embarrassment are two separate emotions and both have to be tackled separately. If you are too ashamed to even tell your partner that you want to consider the possibility of an open relationship, that ship is going to sink before it can exit the harbor. The first and most important step is feeling confident enough to state your desires. Why do you feel ashamed? Do you feel that requesting an open relationship implies that you are greedy or that your current partner isn’t good enough? Have they indicated previously that they look down on people that do open relationships?
Until you have pinned down the nature of your specific cause of ashamed feelings, you are not going to go forward. Once you have identified them and had your first conversation with your partner about open relationships, you get to tackle jealousy.
Jealousy is an extremely hard beast to conquer, and the truth is that most of us will struggle with some variation of it in the course of our various relationships. Jealousy is one of the most frequent obstacles in any relationship, whether open or monogamous. Unlike embarrassment, which is more often a one and done situation, jealousy is often an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed. But just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Jealousy comes from insecurity, lack of confidence, or unmet needs. To combat this feeling you need to look at what’s at its root. Are you worried that your partner will like their new partner(s) more? Are you worried that opening up your relationship will deprive you of attention? One of the most important parts of being in any relationship is finding your self confidence and realizing your value as a partner. The more confidence you have about yourself and your general awesomeness as a partner, the easier it is to tread in the waters of an open relationship. Here is a great resource for dealing with jealousy in open relationships.
Give an open relationship it a try. The worst that can happen is that is will not work out. At least you will know that you have put in the effort. And hey, if it turns out that open relationships are not your cup of tea after all, that is perfectly okay as well. But if it’s something you truly want to try, you owe it to yourself to explore.
How Can I Improve Communication In My Poly Relationship And Avoid Arguing?
“Poly relationships seems to require a lot of talking. How do I distinguish between “talking” and “arguing”? Should I try to avoid arguing and what does that look like?”–No Arguing Please
Yes, if at all possible, one should try and avoid arguing. Arguing is not beneficial to relationships, while talking is.Effective, honest clear communication is the glue that holds relationships together. Communication is crucial for any relationship, poly, monogamous, and everything in between. Due to the added factors of more humans and their various needs, it is true that poly relationships do require more talking. Even if everything is going along smoothly and everyone is deep in bliss, just lining up multiple people’s schedules takes more talking.
The difference between talking and arguing is intent. The intent behind arguing is not to communicate information, but is to prove our point of view to the other person or belittle them. Arguing comes with the baggage of anger, paranoia and frustration. When we get frustrated, we stop communicating effectively. Naturally, it is easy to start off talking, lose our way and end up arguing. If that happens, take a break until everyone cools down and you can get back to effective communication. Only you and your partner(s) will know how long that break will need to be. It could be an hour, a day, or even longer if very intense emotions are triggered.
When issues come up, have a preset plan in place to address them. Set a specific time and place to discuss them without the baggage of anger. If talking face to face does’t seem to work experiment with other methods like writing letters, talking over the phone, or voice messages to one another. If things become too sidetracked and the communication becomes unproductive, suspend the conversation. Effective communication takes practice. The more one works towards mastering the art of communication, the easier it becomes.
How Do I Deal With My Partners Jealousy?
“How do I handle my partner’s intense and irrational jealousy?”–Irrational And Intense
Jealousy is often intense and irrational, and it is one of the hardest things to deal with. Unfortunately, while you can be the world’s most supportive, understanding and empathic person, you can’t do your partner’s jealousy processing for them. Some people just find it harder to deal with intense jealousy. No matter how much they try and process it, jealousy is an ongoing issue.
In situations like that, you have a choice to make. How important is the relationship to you? Important enough that you can make your peace with the irrational jealousy issues that come along with the package? Only you can answer that and the answer is going to vary from person to person. While I personally find irrational jealousy to be so off putting as to be a deal breaker, not everyone sees along the same lines.
If you find the relationship on the whole to be worth the investment of your time, stay in it and make your peace with the jealousy issues. The likelihood of your partner changing is fairly low. If it is too toxic to sustain, I suggest exiting sooner rather than later. Irrational jealousy is a fairly significant strain to shoulder through on the daily.
Is a Veto Agreement Good In An Open Relationship?
“What is your opinion on veto agreements?”–Power Of No
I do believe in veto agreements. However, I believe vetoes can also be abused. The preexisting relationship was there first and needs to be respected. If your partner has zero say in who else you are interacting with, that isn’t a relationship as much as friends with benefits.
There is a good quote, “You know, it’s funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” Often, when we meet someone new, we can get so dazzled that we are not thinking clearly. Through the blindness of fresh love, obvious warning signs can get ignored and issues overlooked. Your partner, who is not seeing things through NRE glasses, is a valuable resource. You should respect their feedback. If they feel the need to veto, their thoughts count. Quite possibly they are seeing future drama where you are only seeing shiny new toy.
On the other hand, veto agreements can easily become abused, with your partner vetoing everyone that comes along under an endless variety of reasons. If that is the situation you end up in, you will need to reevaluate your veto agreement. In my mind, they are beneficial when used properly.