after an affair

What Counts as an Affair?

definition of affair | define cheating | infidelity definition

Hey y'all,

I've been working hard on the Opening Up Retreat I'm hosting and my online group coaching program (registration for both just opened- join us) so I haven't had as much time to write but I walked out of sessions tonight and made two quick videos about the most common question I've gotten lately. 

I thought they might be of use to you.  If you like them please check out my instagram because I'll be sharing more. 

More posts to come soon I promise!  - Gina


HOW DO YOU DEFINE AN AFFAIR?

WHAT COUNTS AS AN AFFAIR?

How to Rebuild Trust in Relationships

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH

If you're facing trust issues in your relationship you're not alone.  Most of us are never taught how to be trustworthy (I mean more than being honest) or to repair trust with others.  So almost every relationship has a few trust issues.  

So today I wanted to share one of my favorite teachings on trust and a few tools to build trust in your own relationship.  

Are you in?

Brene Brown has been researching resilience in strong relationships for a long time, and in this video, she gives the main ingredients to cook up of trust in any partnership. 

She makes her research findings super easy to understand and apply to your daily life with all her vibrant examples and stories.  Check it out below. 

Then read on for reflection to share with your partner.

Key Ingredients for Trust in Relationships:

According to Brene there are seven main ingredients t build trust in relationships.  They are:

Boundaries - I will honor your boundaries and you respect mine

Notice the ways each of you may push on or pressure the other when they set a boundary.  Notice how you might pressure or push yourself to override your boundaries. 

Are there ways you could each be more respectful of each other and your own boundaries in this relationship?  (give specific examples)

Reliability - I do what I say I will do, and you do too.

Notice the ways you fail to follow through on promises.  How could you do a better job walking your talk with your partner and with yourself? 

Are there promises you still need to follow through on?  How can you hold yourself accountable for meeting them?  Are there some you can no longer meet?  How can you take responsibility for letting your partner down with those and be more aware (not to overpromise) in the future?

Accountability - I can own, apologize for, and remedy the hurts I cause, and I know you will do the same.

Are there apologies you're still waiting for in your relationship?  Can you imagine the ones your partner might be waiting for? Make a list and develop suggestions for how you'll handle each situation differently in the future.  Share it with your sweetie.

Vault - I trust you will hold what I say in confidence, and we each do this for others as well.

Think about the privacy boundaries you have between you.  Are there things you expect neither of you will share with others?  Think about the stories, traumas, reactions, and mistakes you've shared.  Is there anything you want to be kept just between you two?  How can you clearly state those boundaries so your partner can be sure they're a solid vault?

Integrity - I know we will both act with integrity, doing what is right instead of what is easy.

Think back over your time together.  How and when has each of you taken the high road?  Take a moment to recognize the ways you've each acted with integrity in the time you've known each other.

Then ask, how can I support you in doing what's right instead of what's easy moving forward?  What does meaningful support look like in this partnership?

Non-Judgment - I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without worrying about losing you (and you can with me too).

This one is a hard one- and it is so important.  Relationships with space for mistake-making and repair last longer than those without.  Take time to think about the times you've really shown up for one another in times of struggle.  What does meaningful support look like to each of you in those moments?  How do you know when each other in struggling?  How do you know your sweetheart is really there for you?  How do you want to be supported in future struggles?

Generosity - My default assumption is that you have the best intentions at heart- even when things get sticky.

Finally, this is the core of trust.  Can I give you the benefit of the doubt in moments of hardship?  How can I work to believe you would never hurt me?  How can I better communicate with my actions that I would never intend to hurt you?  

If you get stuck talking through these with a partner give me a call, I'd love to help you.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH
  • 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 & disconnect
  • 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.  

Open Relationship Advice: What Can I Ask About My Partner's Dates With Other People?

open relationship advice | nonmonogamy advice | polyamory advice

Being curious about your partner's new adventures, relationships and friendships is totally natural.  In fact, genuine curiosity (trying to get to know more about your partner without ulterior motives) is really healthy.

But sometimes when we're opening a relationship it gets pretty difficult to sort out the healthy curiosity from those other motives.  

Genuine interest in your partner and their experience is fine.  But honestly, you don't need a lot of detail (especially not about other people) to get connection with your sweetie. 

If you find yourself getting curious and aren't sure what's okay to ask- or what's too much use the reflection questions below to help guide your process.

Does this information intrude on anyone else's privacy boundaries?

First and foremost if the information involves another person (even if you're not crazy about that person) considering their boundaries and respecting their privacy has to be part of the equation too.  

Often I talk with couples who assume they'll share any and all information about dates- without checking with the dates. Instead, I urge you to get consent from the other folks you're seeing- is there anything they'd rather you not share?  

If you want a respectful relationship with them too, their boundaries have to be respected too.

How does it help me to know?

When you notice yourself getting curious about the details of your partners' dates pause and ask yourself how the information you're seeking will help you.  

For example: 

If I'm asking my partner about the restaurant they went to with a new date I want to be clear how the information will help me.  It might help me to know if the food was good, the service great, if they would go back- because I might be interested in going to that restaurant.

Or It might be helpful to know my partner had a good time and might want to hang out with this person again.  This might help me calibrate my expectations around further practice in nonmonogamy.

But it would not be helpful for me to get ensnared in comparison (or try to trap my partner in it) asking if they had a better time than with me, if the person was more attractive than me, or they kissed better. 

Comparison will never lead to connection in relationships. If you notice comparison showing up, write out what she's saying to you and notice any themes.  There may be important lessons in what she's trying to tell you- but those lessons can't come from your partner, only from reflection (or coaching).

How does this info impact me either way?

Of course you want information about things that will directly impact you.  And you are entitled to it.  But it can be easy to expand the impact further than is appropriate.

For example:

If I ask, "When will you be home?" I want to know because I want to make my own dinner plans and don't know if I'll see you for dinner. 

Or I want to know if I should go to bed before you're home vs waiting up. 

Or I want to know when I can use the shared car again.  

Or I want to know when I should start worrying if I haven't heard from you.

But when will you be home is different than, "Be home by eleven or I'll be worried."  Eleven doesn't directly impact me.  And worry is something we can create agreements to resolve.  

Why is it important to me right now?

This final question helps us clarify if we do have ulterior motives for asking- and what they are. 

This awareness helps us know what to do to reach the result we're looking for (usually connection or reassurance) in a direct trustworthy manner.

For example:

 If I ask, "Did you have a good time?" I might be trying to say:

"I'm really nervous about this and need some reminders you have fun with me." or

"When you stay out late I worry about your safety." or

"Do you still love me?" or

"Are you going to leave me?" or 

"Am I still special to you?"

Or any number of other things.  But by taking a beat to get clear and stating what you're really after you create a much deeper more authentic connection between you and your sweetie.  

If you want help working through these questions or applying them in your newly open relationship give me a call.  


polyamory coach | polyamory advice | open relationship advice | open relationship coach

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 & disconnect
  • 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.

Taming Dragons: Responding to Vulnerability with Compassion

JEALOUSY AND VULNERABILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS | JEALOUS SPOUSE

Y'all, I've been talking about jealousy as dragon taming for a loooong time, and then today was talking with a colleague who told me Tara Brach has a similar approach.  

As I've said, jealousy often shows up like a dragon- fierce, rageful, vengeful, spitting fire, and leaving destruction.  Most folklore will tell us this.  But if we look to most of these stories, the dragon is actually tending and protecting something precious.  

When we shift our focus to that gold we're protecting the whole dynamic begins to change. Or so it has been in my work with jealousy (both personally and professionally).  

Tara Brach is a well-known author, meditation leader, and teacher.  She takes a different lens but comes to many of the same conclusions.  If you're struggling with jealousy (or other overwhelming reactive emotions) give this video a watch. 

Give the video your full presence and follow the meditation she leads.  Notice how applying kindness - yes, kindness- the more we can shift our experience, and often get at what we really want. 

WATCH HERE: 

Let me know what you think on my facebook page.  I'd love to hear from you!  

And if you'd like help working through difficult emotions, give me a call for a free consultation, I'm happy to be a support.  


jealousy and relationships | open relationships counselor | open marriage therapist

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I can help you:

  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • 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
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon.

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.  

Please Watch This Interview on Love, Marriage, & Monogamy

love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach

Two of my favorite writers and relationship experts (Dan Savage and Esther Perel) have done a lot of shared interviews and I wanted to share the best of them with you.  

Here are a few things I love about this Q&A session:

In the very first couple minutes Dan outlines some of the most common reasons people cheat in relationships.  

Then Esther clarifies the difference between infidelity and non-monogamy.  

If you listen to nothing else, check in at minute 11:21.  Esther breaks down one of the most important issues in desire for long-term relationships.  She outlines the issue with being the "chosen one" for your partner and how it diminishes desire when we're together a long time.

When asked how she would re-design marriage (at 15:28). She posits that marriage isn't necessary in the same way as it once way.  This history of marriage and committed relationships is missing in most people's understanding of partnership. 

Later she dives into the critical balance between stability and novelty in long-term relationships (near 18:00).  "Too much novelty and not enough stability is chaos and too much stability without novelty becomes fossilized."  She says there is not enough fluidity in marriage- and I wholeheartedly agree.

Finally, early on in the interview Dan discusses the difference between default monogamy and intentional monogamy- the cornerstone of my work with couples considering opening their relationships.

Check out the full interview below and call me for a free consultation if you'd like to discuss these topics in your own partnership.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  I help people:

love marriage and nonmonogamy | open relationship coach
  • reconnect with desire & passion in long-term relationships
  • rebuild trust after an affair or infidelity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage powerful emotions that show up unexpectedly
  • shift codependent communication patterns
  • open relationships & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and coach 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.  

Listen to a Couples Session After Infidelity

after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist 

Choosing to turn to a stranger in a time of pain is really a courageous act.  Often it's difficult to imagine what talking to a professional might feel like.  This recording is a really powerful session from my mentor, Esther Perel, helping a couple work on coming together after an affair.  

It's a pretty intense listen, but if you're curious about talking with a helping professional yourself, or if you're struggling to come together after infidelity this recording may be helpful to you.

Listen here: 


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist
  • 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 & disconnect
  • 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.  

Why You Get Jealous in Non-Monogamy

jealous in open relationships.jpg

In ten years working with jealousy in relationships I've seen a lot of folks through the shadowy sides of envy, insecurity, and fear.  No two experiences look the same, and yet there are a lot of clear themes.  

Lots of people want to figure out why they're jealous.  If you notice yourself wondering, I urge you to ask only with compassion.  All too often we ask why looking to pathologize, judge, or fix.  Instead, I suggest asking more compassionately:

  • What is my jealousy trying to teach me?
  • What does my jealousy want to know?
  • What does jealousy want to know?
  • What would bring me security or reassurance in this moment?
  • What does meaningful support look like in this moment? 
  • What other emotions travel alongside my jealousy? (anxiety, fear, envy, admiration, lonliness, grief, and anger are common buddies of jealousy) What do each of them want from this situation?
  • If my jealousy wasn't present how would I be different?
  • What is my jealousy hoping for?

WHen you have time to sit and interview your unique experience of jealousy, there's likely a lot to learn about yourself, your needs, and your relationship from the interview.  Often folks find out the intentions behind their jealousy are:

  • I want to feel special
  • I envy the desire I see in someone else
  • I want to know I am a priority in my someone's life
  • I want more fun/spontaneity/play/sex/curiosity/connection in our partnership
  • I envy the learning/self-awareness my partner is getting right now because I want some of my own
  • There are thing's I want to change about my own self-care
  • I want to spend more time investing in my own desires and passions
  • I want my partner and me to invest more time in each other
  • I need to get out more
  • I've experienced broken trust in this relationship, and I'd like attention to repair it
  • I realize I need a richer social life
  • I'm holding old resentments I haven't shared with my partner
  • I'd like to take better care of my body
  • I crave adventure
  • I really like this relationship and I don't want to lose it
  • I've grown dependent on this partner to meet a lot of my needs, I'd like to foster more friendships/relationships of my own
  • I want more close friends
  • There are parts of my relationship history I need to work on to resolve
  • There are things my family taught me about relationships I want to work on in therapy/coaching

If you'd like help sitting with jealousy and insecurity to learn from it please give me a call.  I'm always here to help.


What is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

ethical open relationship | ethical open marriage | ethical polyamory

When I talk about ethical non-monogamy, I'm talking about relationships who consciously choose to allow space for intimacy between more than just two people. They might identify as swingers, polyamorous, or in open relationships.  

But in all cases, intimacy is shared with more than just one partner.  This could mean sexual, sensual, emotional, or physical intimacy that typically in monogamous relationships is saved for just two partners.  

There are four key elements that make this different than infidelity or cheating- which can sometimes be confused for ethical non-monogamy (I often call those examples unethical non-monogamy).  You can use these elements to help keep yourself in check if you're asking "How do I know if I'm practicing ethically?"

Intentionality

This is what separates solo polyamory from traditional dating, and monogamy from default monogamy.  Intentionality means making a conscious choice about the kind of relationship you want to create and being upfront with all people you want to be intimate with about your intention.  It might sound like this:

"I'm really not looking to commit to an on-going relationship, but I want to sleep with you."

"I want more than one love in my life. I hope we can continue building our love while I connect with other potential loves."

"My partner and I often see other women together and individually.  I hope you're comfortable knowing I am not interested in finding another life-partner, but I really want to spend more time with you."  

Honesty

The examples above also demonstrate the kind of honesty required in ethical open relationships.  Unfortunately, it's not always easy to get clear about what you want, and (just as in monogamous relationships) sometimes what you want changes.  

If you're going to practice ethically it's essential you have a way to get clear about what you want.  This might mean hiring a coach or counselor, joining a polyamory support group, or telling a few close friends who can help you work through the sometimes confusing desires you'll have in non-monogamy.

Lots of folks also benefit from having a meditation or writing practice where they can tune-in to themselves and find clarity so they can chare it honestly with the people they care about.

The bottom line is: you cannot practice ethically if you cannot practice honestly.

Consent

Here's the really big difference between ethical and unethical non-monogamy.  If you're practicing consent (meaning each partner gets to sign on, yes, they want in on this arrangement) then you 've got this ethical thing down.

But the thing about consent is, it can shift at any time.  So to practice consent well you have to have a process to communicate about and circle back checking-in to make sure folks are still on the same page. 

And a lot of times not everyone is on the same page.  I mean in a two-person relationship it can be difficult to find agreement, so the more folks you have the more complex this can become.  It can become especially difficult when one of you wants to "take things slower" than the other.

Boundaries

Finally, ethical non-monogamy means respecting the boundaries of each partner in the dynamic. Here are a few ways I've seen boundaries violated in unethical non-monogamy:

In primary relationships:

  • reading each other's texts without permission
  • online stalking new partners
  • using technology to follow a partner on a date
  • pushing a partner or trying to convert them to something they don't want
  • prying for information when a partner returns from a date

In additional relationships:

  • sharing online profiles with original partners
  • sharing photos with primary partners
  • giving other partners private, identifying, or demographic information without checking in first
  • pressuring a partner to change their agreements with other people

Just be sure you have consent to offer whatever you're sharing.  Agreement and checking-back are key to consent.  

If you want help implementing ethical non-monogamy for the first time give me a call.  That's my favorite topic to chat about!


ethical open relationships | ethical open marriage | ethical polyamory | consensual nonmonogamy

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term relationships
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • change communication & codependent relationship patterns
  • open your relationship & practice ethical polyamory 

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.  

Seven Elements of Trust

Y'all know I'm a HUGE Brene' Brown fan.  Here's a helpful graphic for you all about identifying the elements of trust in your partnership.  If you want help building (or rebuilding) trust give me a call, I'm here for you!

Elements of Trust PDF Brene Brown Worksheet - Uncommon Love - 

The Ingredients for Trust

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH

This is one of the best explanations of trust I have EVER seen.  It is worth the twenty minutes to sit and watch and then talk it through with someone you love. 

Brene Brown has been researching resilience in courageous individuals and strong relationships for many years now, and in this talk she outlines the key ingredients of trust in relationships.  With plenty of juicy stories and examples she makes her research findings super easy to understand and apply to your daily life.

I'll including some reflection questions to guide your post-video self-work (journaling) and couples work (shared reflection) below.  Let me know if you'd like to talk through trust building with me 1:1 (schedule a free call right here).

Key Ingredients for Trust in Relationships:

Boundaries - I honor your boundaries and you respect mine

Reliability - I do what I say I will do, and you do too.

Accountability - I can own, apologize for, and remedy the hurts I cause, and I know you will do the same.

Vault - I trust you will hold what I say in confidence, and we each do this for others as well.

Integrity - I know we will both act with integrity, doing what is right instead of what is easy.

Non-Judgment - I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without worrying about losing you (and you can with me too).

Generosity - My default assumption is that you have the best intentions at heart- even when things get sticky.

Questions for Self-Reflection

  • How can I better honor my own boundaries?  
  • Where can I practice better reliability in my agreements with myself?
  • Are there any unresolved inner conflicts I need to forgive myself for?  How can I work to resolve those?
  • Where can I be more discerning about sharing tender parts of myself with others?  
  • How would things be different for me if I did what was right instead of what was easy?
  • How can I be more gentle with myself when I need help from others? 
  • How can I care for myself (like a good friend would) when I make mistakes?
  • How would my life be different if I cultivated greater self-compassion?

Shared Reflection (for You and Someone You Care for)

  • How could we be more clear about our expectations with each other?
  • What does meaningful support look like in this partnership?
  • Are there any unresolved conflicts between us I need to apologize for?  How can I work to own and resolve those?
  • How can we support each other in doing what is right instead of what is easy?
  • How can we be more tender with each other when we make mistakes?

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH
  • 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 & disconnect
  • 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.