communication & conflict

Polyamory Prep Resource Packet

Y’ALL! I made you something special! I decided it was time to gather all the tools, resources, and guidebooks I’ve been sharing with clients who are successfully opening their marriages in one easy place and here it is!

No more searching for resources online from people who don’t really know what they’re talking about!

No more misinformation!

No more theory without practicality!

These tools are based on actual research and formed with couples that actually WORKED.

ABOUT THE RESOURCE PACK

Thirteen essential resource guides for couples considering polyamory for the first time.  

These simple tools were developed over a decade of work as a couples therapist specializing in work with ethically non-monogamous, polyamorous and open relationships.  

Download them once and use them forever as your relationship grows and changes.

THIS RESOURCE PACKET INCLUDES:

- 80-page Polyamory 101 Workbook for anyone new to polyamory

- Boundaries & Consent Guide for Couples

- Communication Processes for Polyamory Guide

- Privacy vs Secrecy Guide to Information Sharing

- Monogamy & Polyamory Boundaries Checklist

- The Intimacy Needs Guide

- Myths of Polyamory Handout

- Pitfalls of Polyamory Handout

- Polyamory Preparedness Resource Guide

- Jealousy 101 Guidebook

- Somatic Responses to Jealousy Worksheet

- Decatastrophizing Worksheet

- From Dream to Reality: How Four Couples Explored Nonmonogamy Book


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is an author, teacher, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach based in the midwestern U.S.

She’s been supporting clean fights and dirty sex in happy healthy NON-TRADITIONAL relationships since 2009.  

Gina has written several books and currently leads couples retreats and coaches online clients all over the world.

Polyamory 101 Workbook

I am so excited to announce this newly edited version of my Polyamory 101 Workbook. I designed this workbook a few years ago to address the most common issues my clients face when opening their relationships.

I filled it with the most useful reflections and worksheets I’ve created in my practice to support clients as they navigate conversations about consensual non-monogamy (often for the first time). And then I added a couple great bonus handouts and reflections to fuel deeper reflection and connection as you move forward on whatever path you choose (polyamory or not :)

I JUST finished editing it to include more tools and resuorces and am really proud to share it with you.

ABOUT THE WORKBOOK

This 80-page workbook is designed to help you answer the tough questions about opening your relationship including:

  • What is polyamory?

  • Is polyamory right for me?

  • What kinds of relationship rules will work for me?

  • How do you set healthy boundaries in open relationships?

  • Can we stay together and open our marriage?

  • And many more!

THIS RESOURCE PACKET INCLUDES

- 80-page Polyamory 101 Workbook for anyone new to polyamory

- From Dream to Reality: How Four Couples Explored Nonmonogamy Book

- Myths of Polyamory Handout

- Pitfalls of Polyamory Handout


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is an author, teacher, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach based in the midwestern U.S.

She’s been supporting clean fights and dirty sex in happy healthy NON-TRADITIONAL relationships since 2009.  

Gina has written several books and currently leads couples retreats and coaches online clients all over the world.

LEARNING ABOUT JEALOUSY – JEALOUSY LOG WORKSHEET

Look, nobody likes the feeling of jealousy and insecurity in relationships. Most of us hate feeling overcome by intense shadow emotions. We want nothing more than to deal with insecurity and jealousy in healthy ways.

But few of us learn tools to deal with jealousy as we grow up. So in my counseling-turned-coaching practice, I created hundreds of reflection tools to help clients learn the necessary skills to live with jealousy without sabotaging relationships.

I’ll be sharing them as free downloads as blog posts through the fall. Please feel free to share them with people you know who share your interest in overcoming jealousy.


Most people experience jealousy with extreme intensity. It can be really challenging in the moment to identify specific triggers and experiences related to your jealousy.

And without getting specific it’s going to be hard to make real changes.

I created this free jealousy worksheet download to help my clients (many of whom have really debilitating jealousy) start tracking their experience of jealousy in day-to-day life so we can identify opportunities for change.

Please use the Jealousy Log Worksheet below to identify your own patterns so you can decide where and when to make meaningful changes. The goal of this guide is to get you to think about how you experience jealous emotions and the role they play in your daily life.

If you notice something you’d like to start working on, you may want to download the complete guide at the end of this post or give me a call for a consultation. I’m here for you!


polyamory wisconsin | open relationships madison | alternative relationships milwaukee
madison polyamory | alternative relationships

Dr Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is an author, teacher, sexualitycounselor and certified relationship coach based in the midwestern U.S. 

She’s been supporting clean fights and dirty sex in happy healthy relationships since 2009.  

Gina has written several books and currently leads couples retreats and coaches online clients all over the world. 

Call for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Relationship Tips: Get Their Attention

Communication Patterns in Successful Relationships

Loads of research has been done on the behaviors of successful couples and one of trend holds true: satisfied couples in happy relationships are more likely to bid for attention in a few key ways.

Read on to add these skills in your relationships.

Bids for Attention

We bid for each other's attention all the time.  We do this by gesturing, making eye contact, initiating affection, making a joke, pointing out something.  

For example I might turn to my sweetheart and say, "I really like your shirt."

Successful couples bid more frequently. But there is a second part of bidding that keeps them in a loop of communicating with kindness.  

Receiving Bids From Your Partner

When someone bids for attention we have four real options in our response.  I will give you examples for each.

Warm:  

"Thanks for noticing my shirt babe."  This is a kind or friendly response.  It invites more interaction.

Neutral:

"Oh." This isn't a kind or unkind response.  It doesn't invite more communication or connection, but it doesn't overtly harm the relationship.  However, over time it can divide a couple if it is the only response given.  

Cold:

"Why are you talking about my shirt?!?"  This might be an angry, defensive, or judgmental response.  This response doesn't invite more positive interaction and often leads to disconnection and conflict.  

Often we think this is the most problematic response- but when this response is handled respectfully couples can still grow.  

Non-response:

This is the most detrimental to the relationship.  When someone doesn't respond we feel ignored and we are far less likely to continue bidding for our partner's attention.  This gap in responses starts growing distance between people.

We fill in the gap with our assumptions, resentments and judgments and distance grows.  But sometimes our partner has innocently missed the bid- maybe they simply didn't hear us.  They don't even know how we've been hurt- and aren't able to effectively repair the missed bid. 

Your relationship challenge:

Notice the bids for interaction this week and work to respond with warmth as often as possible.  Notice how it shifts your relationship's energy.   

 


Healthy Relationships | Couples Therapist | Sex Therapist

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Being a supportive partner

meaningful support.jpgsupportive relationships \ support and trust in marriage | how to be supportive

Giving and receiving meaningful support is essential to lasting loving relationships.

Most relationships start out strong, but as time passes fewer and fewer people say they get the support they need from their partner.

The word “support” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  So one way to get more of the love and support you want is to clarify both your request and what you can offer.

Consider the six central themes of support here and ask yourself what you’re really looking for when you ask for help in situations with your sweetie.  You can use the examples here to get clearer with your partner. 

Ask yourself “What does meaningful support look like to me in this situation?” 

Or ask them, “What can I do to show you support in this situation?”

The clearer you become in your request, and in clarifying your partner’s requests, the better equipped you are to meet each other’s needs.

Here are a few more reflection questions to help you get clear. Take a moment to write out your thoughts on each to help you get clear before making requests of your partner.

  • What has meaningful support looked like in the past, in friendships and my family?
  • What actions would be most helpful? What could my partner do to make my experience easier?
  • When do I feel especially cared for in this partnership? What can I apply from that experience to this one? 
  • When do I feel respected in this relationship? What behaviors from my partner foster that feeling?
  • When do I feel most reassured and grounded in this partnership? Are there elements of that experience I would like in this situation?

I created a worksheet to help you dive deeper into this work and get even more clear.  Enter your information below to download it and get access to my full relationship tool library.

Name *
Name

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

polyamory coach | open relationship counselor | nonmonogamy
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

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.  

Signs You Have a Boundary Problem

SIGNS YOU HAVE BOUNDARY ISSUES | BOUNDARY PROBLEMS | RED FLAGS

Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, trustworthy and caring. Boundaries set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.

If you're often uncomfortable with other peoples' treatment of you, it's likely time to reset your boundaries. Weak boundaries leave you vulnerable and likely to be taken for granted.  They also cause you to build resentful distance between you and the people you love most.

Common Boundary Violations

With that said, it can be difficult to identify when boundaries are an issue for you.  Here are a few signals to look for if you want to see where boundary problems lie in your relationship:

  • Saying “yes” to your partner, when in fact you’d rather say “no”
  • Saying “no” when it might be perfectly appropriate to say “yes” – this is often done to keep a partner at arm’s length, or punish him or her.

Good boundaries require authenticity and honesty. Neither of these behaviors are honest ways to communicate.  They leave huge gaps for misunderstanding and missing intimacy.

  • Making your partner read your mind instead of saying specifically what you’re thinking or feeling
  • Trying to control your partner’s thoughts or behavior through aggressive or subtle manipulation

Again, using indirect communication is a surefire way to create misunderstandings.  Not saying what you really wants sets your partner up for failure- they're sure to let you down at some point.  Not asking for what you want directly won't give your partner the opportunity to learn the best ways to love you.

Both of these kinds of manipulations will lead to conflict and hurt eventually.  You can avoid the hurt by getting clear and being direct about what you want to see happen between you.

 

Here are some tips that can help you establish and maintain healthy boundaries:

  • Communicate your thoughts and feeling honestly, with specificity and clearly. Whenever possible, be honest but respectful in sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Yes, this is a vulnerable action to take, but with careful communication vulnerability is the key to building trust in relationships.
  • Ask your partner what they are feeling instead of trying to guess. Mind-reading is not your responsibility.  And no matter how connected you are, it is impossible to know what your partner wants or is thinking in every situation. If each of you reflects on your own thoughts and feelings, and takes responsibility for putting them into words you will grow deeper understanding. 
  • Take responsibility for your actions. All relationship dynamics are co-created. Instead of blaming your partner for how you feel, ask yourself how your choices (intentional or otherwise) contributed to the situation.

Healthy boundaries take practice. Most of us were not trained to have these kinds of conversations in our families. But with practice you will be better able to identify where the boundary lines are between you.

As a result, trust and connection will only grow stronger and more secure between you over time.


boundaries in relationships | healthy relationship boundaries | how to have boundaries | boundary issues

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

  • change communication & codependent relationship patterns
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity & manage intense emotions
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon.  And I've created a HUGE free relationship tool library available online for couples worldwide.

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.  

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.  

PRIVACY VS SECRECY IN RELATIONSHIPS

PRIVACY VS SECRECY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Several people have raised the issue of secret vs. private in session recently, wondering about the difference and how that plays out in healthy relationships.

While the dictionary does not make a clear distinction between the two, in practice they are different.

 

Here are my distinctions:

PRIVACY

Privacy is the state of being unobserved. That which I keep private, I am merely withholding from public view. Private matters are those traits, truths, beliefs, and ideas about ourselves that we keep to ourselves. They might include our fantasies and daydreams, feelings about the way the world works, and spiritual beliefs.

Privacy is a choice we make to have our own boundaries around what we will reveal or not reveal to our partner.  Privacy is the inner space that is like an inner sanctum protected from outsiders.  What we choose to keep to ourselves may be things that we want only for ourselves.

In time intimate relationship privacy boundaries usually soften. Sharing vulnerable or private information (trauma history, family issues, health concerns) often requires trust that must be built over time. Private matters, when revealed either accidentally or purposefully, give another person some insight into the revealer and should be treated with respect.

Sharing private information with a trustworthy partner can greatly deepen the connection between partners.

Which is why some people think sharing everything is the best path.  But respecting boundaries and honoring privacy is just as solid a path to trust in relationships.  A healthy couple has to find a balance between respecting privacy and sharing to build a foundation of trust.

Keeping something private is an act of choosing boundaries and staying comfortably within them.  Withholding private information has very little to no direct impact on your partner.

 

SECRECY

Secrecy is the act of keeping things hidden -- that which is secret goes beyond merely private into hidden. While secrecy spills into privacy, not all privacy is secrecy. Secrecy stems from deliberately keeping something from others out of a fear. 

Secrets information often has a negative impact on someone else-emotionally, physically, or financially. The keeper of secrets believes that if they are revealed either accidentally or purposefully,  the revelation may harm the secret-keeper and/or those they care about.

Withholding secret information likely has a direct impact on your partner's trust in you.  Often the impact on our partner is WHY we are being secretive.

Sometimes a secret is something kept from someone else to protect behavior that you don’t want to give up, but that you know your partner might not approve of. You may be, embarrassed about it or feel what you are doing might be questionable. We keep something secret out of fear and shame of what others would think if they knew. 

Often secrecy becomes more rigid and stress-inducing in time, rather than softening like privacy. Typically secrecy causes the secret-keeper incredible stress until discovered or sabotaged, leaving them in pieces. 

Secrecy is when we choose to keep something to ourselves knowing that there may be negative consequences if it were to be revealed. 

 

Here are a few examples:

SECRECY

I have an online gambling addiction.

I forged my degree.

I peek at other people getting dressed in the morning.

I take showers with other people.

I'm acting on a fetish I'm not telling you about.

I'm sleeping with a coworker you don't know about.

PRIVACY

I don't share my internet passwords.

I got terrible grades in high school.

I like to dance naked when I get dressed in the morning.

I sing in the shower.

I have a fetish I am not ready to share with you.

I talked to my friends about my concerns at work.

 

This difference between secrecy and privacy centers on the feelings about the information which is withheld and our motivation to withhold it. 

 

ASK YOURSELF

To get clear about the secrecy and privacy boundaries you're holding ask yourself the following questions.

 

How will this information help my partner?

Why is it important to keep this information to myself?

Do I imagine this boundary could soften or change?

Why do I want to know this information about my partner?

How will my partner's possible answers directly impact me or our shared life?

How will it impact me not to have this information from my partner?

How can I respect my partner's boundary even if I don't understand it?

 


Polyamory counselor | open relationships therapist | open marriage therapist

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.

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.


Nonviolent Communication Needs: Peace

NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION | NVC needs | communication skills

The best way I can think to honor veterans is to observe peace.  I have worked with many vets as a therapist in the last few years, and the lessons they've shared all center on peace.  

Veteran or not, we all need and deserve peace.  We crave quiet, stillness, ease and balance.  We need peace.  

In a world constantly pushing for competition, comparison, hustle, busy, and distraction- peace is something many of us are looking for.  

How can you focus on peace today?  

How can you bring more stillness into your world?  

When I shift my focus from the unmet needs in my life to the spaces where they are already met I am always surprised.  I can go weeks searching for peace in specific ways, all the while missing the tiny spaces of quiet all around me.  

I'm so attached to a peace in a certain form, I miss the chance to experience when it appears.  Truthfully, it is usually closer than I realize- often stuck in spaces between more anxious wanderings.  

When I spend a little time being more present in the peace already around me I stop longing for it so much in other arenas.  And I appreciate the small spaces so much more.

Focus on peace today, it may be closer than you think.