opening relationships

10 Reasons NOT To Choose an Open Relationship

10 Reasons NOT to Choose Polyamory | Uncommon Love Poly Counseling in Portland

Often new clients come to me wondering if I have an agenda- that polyamory is somehow better than monogamy for relationships.  The truth is polyamory is a choice and it works well in some relationships (just like monogamy is a choice that works well for some relationships) but there are plenty of reasons NOT to choose polyamory or open relationships.  

Here are some reasons not to choose nonmonogamy:

You don't have much spare time  

You can't have a healthy relationship without quality time and energy.  More relationships require more time.  If you don't have time to give, maybe wait until you do or restructure your schedule so there is space when you want to share it.

You are physically exhausted

Not only is nonmonogamy draining of time, but it takes physical energy.  If you are physically exhausted you may want to consider if you have the physical energy to sustain more than one relationship.

You don't like talking about sex, boundaries, and intimacy in detail.

Part of negotiating consent clearly with any partner requires getting specific and being up front about sex, sensuality, kinks, and play.  The more people you add to a relationship the more these conversations need to happen.  If you're uncomfortable having then with one person, do you really want to have them with many?

You have a hard time saying no.

Setting and maintaining boundaries with minimal resentment is a huge part of the process of healthy nonmonogamy.  Learn to say no to the things you don't want before starting a relationship- monogamous or otherwise.

You don't like to ask for what you need.

Well, if you're not going to ask for what you need it's highly unlikely anyone will meet them.  People can't read minds.  Part of negotiating in a healthy relationship is getting clear about what you want and getting comfortable asking for it.

You don't have extra emotional bandwidth to discuss relationship maintenance.

The top two complaints I hear from couples in open relationships is the lack of time (see above) and the amount of emotional work involved.  Especially if you are in a new relationship, or have not practiced nonmonogamy before opening up can require tons of emotional labor and if you're not into it that could be pretty hard.

You don't have a lot of patience or empathy for your partner's jealousy or insecurity.

Yes, your partner needs to learn to self-soothe and take care of their own emotions.  But you need to have patience and understanding for their process.  If you can't hold space for them with compassion, an open relationship is unlikely to serve you.

You suck at sharing.

Sharing is the name of the game in open relationships.  Sharing time, cars, financial resources, bodies, emotional space... if you hate having to share then polyamory isn't for you.

You can't take care of your own emotional reactivity, insecurity, or envy.

Opening up means all kinds of unexpected things will come up and some of them you can process with your partner- but most of them you need to work through on your own.  Learning to self-soothe when you feel reactive will save your relationship, especially if it's an open relationship.  If you're expecting your partner to "make you feel better" every time they spend time with someone else this is going to be a long hard road.

You don't want to take another person's needs into account when making relationship decisions.  Or You don't want to compromise

Any relationship requires some compromise.  But respectful nonmonogamy will bring new understanding to meeting in the middle.  If you're too rigid it could cost you your relationships.  

Before diving into an open relationship consider your own reasons for choosing a monogamous or an open relationship.  

  • Which model works best for you and why?

  • How do you define the boundaries of your monogamous or open contracts?

  • How do you communicate expectations about intimacy with others with your partner?

  • How have your beliefs about monogamy and non-monogamy changed over time?

  • What beliefs do you have about other relationship models?  

  • How do you know which model is best for you?

No one is born polyamorous or monogamous, these are relationship models we choose. Neither option is right or wrong when made honestly and intentionally.  

If you're thinking about opening your relationship and want help talking about it with your partner you might want to attend the Polyamory 101 course I am leading on July 13, 2016.  

Or give me a call for a free consult. I am glad to help.


Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).


Why People Open Their Relationships

One of the questions I am asked most often by friends and colleagues is why people choose open relationships.  

There are a lot of paths to choosing nonmonogamy and each is uniquely personal.

Many of my clients come to an open relationship model for different personal reasons, but here are a few:

  • We don't believe in the traditional monogamous married formula for relationships.

  • I like watching my wife have sex with another man.

  • My partner is bisexual and I want him/her/them to be able to have relationships with folks of a gender different than mine.

  • I am interested in a specific kink that my partner just doesn't like.  She wants me to be able to explore this fantasy.

  • We don't believe people are naturally monogamous- look at the 66% infidelity rate among monogamous marriages in the U.S.

  • It's exciting to flirt with other women with my husband.  We often have similar taste in women, so it made sense to date them together.

  • I don't believe it's possible for one person to meet all of another's emotional and physical needs.

  • Legal marriage isn't our definition of relationship success.

  • My partner is physically unable to participate in certain activities I really enjoy.  Because we're poly I can do those things with other partners.

  • I wanted to start a family and my girlfriend did not but we really loved each other.  Having an open relationship allowed us to create a different relationships structure and now I am also partnered with my daughter's mother.

  • I have always loved multiple people- finding polyamory meant I could talk more openly about it and be honest with partners.

  • I cheated on a lot of my previous partners and didn't want to have a dishonest relationship anymore.  Now I am up front and clear with partners.

  • My boyfriend is into a lot of hardcore BDSM play and I want him to be able to play while I build my play skills for safety.

  • We both have fluid sexual identities and want to be able to grow our commitment to each other as our sexualities grow and change.

  • I don't want the pressure of meeting all my partner's emotional and sexual needs.

  • I don't believe in valuing one relationship over all others.  

  • My husband is gay and we have a child.  We decided to stay together but have other partners because we love each other and want our family to stay in one home.

If you are thinking about opening your relationship and need help set up a free consultation to see if working with me is right for you.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).