If you're worried about opening your relationship trust me you are not alone. Talking about this with a partner when you've only practiced monogamy in the past can bring up a lot of anxiety.
I hear a lot of concerns and complaints from folks at the start of their process so I wanted to share the six most common complaints I hear and how you might work through them.
Let me know if you'd like to talk through any of these as they relate to your unique relationships, I'm here for you!
I want to know I'm important to you.
When folks say this they're touching on one of the keys to success in a relationship. Couples who stay together know they truly matter to one another. Lots of people start questioning if and how they matter when partners see others.
- When in this relationship have I been certain I matter to my partner?
- What specifically were they doing when I felt that way?
- What was I doing when I felt that way?
Talk your answers through with your partner. It's possible you can practice non-monogamy and fortify the actions that reassure you about your mattering. Or you may want to take some time to focus on those behaviors before including more people in the mix.
I won't feel special anymore if you do special things with others.
When people bring up feeling special they're often questioning what will bring meaning if they're not exclusive. But what brings meaning to one person may not be interpreted the same to a partner. Let me help you get clear: start by listing all the things that carry meaning in your relationship. Here's an example list:
- wearing wedding rings
- making each other coffee in the morning
- the story of how we met
- the inside jokes we share
- two-step dancing at the Cuff to our song
- our family's holiday celebrations
- our promises to stay together for life
- taking care of each other when we're sick
- spooning when we sleep next to each other
- how thoughtful you are when you pick out my birthday gifts
- the way you look at me when you say thank you and really mean it
Having specific details about what carries meaning in your relationship can both deepen your connection and help you nourish it with specific behaviors moving forward.
These can also help you craft a conversation to draft your open relationship agreements with respect to specific behaviors you may not want to share with others. And it can help you identify ways to reassure each other moving forward.
How will we stay connected?
Usually when folks are asking their partner this question, they really mean: do you "get" me? Do you understand me? Will you still as we move forward?
This question is great because it highlights the importance of keeping rituals and events in place that create a sense of connection. Often long-term and live-in couples get a little lazy about sharing fully present quality time.
Consider this your call to schedule some uninterrupted distraction-free time together.
I wonder if you still care about me after meeting someone new.
Wondering if there's enough love and care to go around is a common concern. Luckily, love is infinite. But every one of us has specific ways we like to be loved most.
Get clear about how you like to care and be cared for with your partner. Ask each other, how do we demonstrate meaningful support? And offer specific examples of behaviors that feel supportive.
You'll have lots of examples of ways to keep showing you care even if you also care for others.
Will you respect me anymore if we sleep with other people?
Respect can be really difficult to quantify, so when I hear clients asking this question it usually tells me you're concerned about your role or place in a partner's life shifting. "If you have other girlfriends, then what am I to you?"
In non-monogamy each new partner and friend has a role or place in our life. Some of us fill many. Take a look at the examples below and notice which are fitting roles for the two of you. And feel free to add more to the list that could be unique to you.
- first call in case of emergencies
- favorite problem solver
- the one I geek out with about ________
- sous chef
- the one I watch my favorite show with
- house manager
- lead dancer
- social planner
- my first call when I need advice
How can I trust you if we open our marriage?
Finally, the most important question of all: how can I trust you? When I hear this I know my client is asking, will you be there when I need you?
Trust is built on following through and showing up in difficult times.
Consider these question when creating open relationship agreements.
How can you show up for each other while still holding space to connect with others?
How can I take care of myself when there's a delay and my partner can't get back to me immediately?
- How have we shown up for each other in the past? How might that change? How will it stay the same?
I hope this helps you re-imagine these questions for your own open relationship conversations. It's natural to wonder about these things when you start thinking about non-monogamy. Let me know if you'd like help working through them.
Hi! I'm glad you're reading. Let me know if I can help you:
- reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
- rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
- move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity
- manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
- resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnection
- change communication & codependent patterns
- open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).
Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.
Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.