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Challenges of Polyamorous Relationships

Challenges of Choosing POlyamory

Nearly every couple I work with wants to know the pros and cons of choosing an open relationship.  You can read these previous posts to learn more about the benefits and reasons people choose polyamory or nonmonogamy.  


Today I want to share a list of the most common challenges in open relationships.  


The Challenges of Choosing an Open Relationship


  • More emotional work

All relationships require emotional work, but choosing more relationships means choosing more emotional work, conversations, and reflection.  If you're not into processing, reflecting, listening, and empathizing polyamory might not be a great fit for you.

  • Not enough time

The number one complaint I hear from long-term couples is a lack of time.  Most of us have trouble managing our schedule with only one partnership- try taking a look at your schedule and seeing where you would fit in time to give focused energy to more people in your day or on a regular basis- it gets challenging real fast.

That's not to say you can't make it work (google calendar is a great resource here) but if you are already very busy you might want to consider how you structure your time before diving into more relationships.

  • Lacking (perceived) relationship security

This one is really hard for some folks but it is completely true.  Even though we know the statistics (that 80% of relationships involve infidelity) lots of people feel more secure pretending that security is real.  For some people, that security (even imagined security) is just too important.  If that's you, nonmonogamy might not be your jam.

  • More miscommunication

More communication with more people means more opportunity for miscommunication.  Before you start to open your relationship consider your skills around resolving miscommunication.  You might want support from a therapist or coach to help you deal with the kinds of misunderstandings that arise in polyamory.

  • Feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity

Ideally, we would all move past jealousy into a place where we feel nothing but compersion (the loving appreciation/admiration we feel when our partner experiences something great with someone else) but we don't live in an ideal world.  

Most of us wrestle with jealousy from time to time.  Facing these feelings is a real challenge for many people practicing polyamory.

  • Stigma

There are all kinds of messages we receive in our culture about how to do relationships "right" and almost all of those tell us heterosexual monogamy is the best/healthiest relationship model out there.

These messages are so strong, many of us internalize them and experience real shame about our relationship choices.  Overcoming this stigma is a significant challenge for many of the open relationship clients I see. 

  • Finding community and support

Because nonmonogamy still carries a stigma, it can be really difficult for people to come out to co-workers, family, and children.  Many of the couples I support site this as a real challenge to finding support for their relationship (as well as finding other partners).  

It's not impossible, but finding a supportive community for your unique relationship can be a real challenge.


If you want support overcoming these challenges as you open your relationship give me a call for a consultation.  I'm happy to help you nurture your relationship (monogamous or otherwise).

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).


Polyamory Vocab Lessons: Polyamory

Polycule | Portland Poly Counseling | Polyamory Counseling in Portland

Dear readers, 

I work with so many couples who are considering open relationships and so many of you have asked for some basic facts in polyamory, nonmonogamy and open relationships.  

I decided to start breaking down some of the most commonly used terms in the wide field of nonmonogamy.

Of course, every individual and relationship is different, so it is important to get clear with people about what they mean by these terms (especially if you're considering an intimate relationship with them).  

You could ask any of the following questions:

"Lots of people use that term, what does it mean in your relationships?"

"I know that can actually mean a lot of things, wow does {term} actually play out in your life?"

These conversations will also help you get clear about what to call your own relationship.  

I'll keep adding more terms over time so check back time to time to learn more.  

This week's focus: Polyamory

As we know, non-monogamy is an umbrella term that includes lots of different kinds of relationships.  Polyamory or poly community is one of the possibilities that falls under the umbrella of nonmonogamy.

Some basic general information on polyamory:

Most basically, polyamory means many loves. But because the word love means different things to different people polyamory is different in each and every relationship.  

Polyamorous people live in all parts of the US (and the world), identify as many different genders and sexual orientations, and participate in all sorts of relationship arrangements.

Some polyamorous relationships include shared partners, community and friends making a large web of supporters and chosen family.  

Some, but not all poly people participate in BDSM and kink community.

Some, but not all poly people are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  

Many members of poly community are straight and are legally married, but have additional lovers and/or partnerships.  Some choose to live together and parent with individual or multiple partners.


One of the best things about being polyamorous is the freedom to create and tailor the relationship structure(s) that best serve you and your partner.  

Polyamorous relationships also often include more understanding and agility for relationship change, growth and development over time.  

Polyamory Resources:


My favorite resource for all my nonmonogamous couples.  This site covers the full range of possibilities in open relationships and the book dives into many scenarios outlining how specific couples create polyamorous networks that work for them.  


For couples considering more romantic or emotional connections with partners, More Than Two is my go-to resource to find balance and maintain connection while incorporating other people into the relationship.  More than two focuses mostly on polyamory.

Poly in the Media

This resource tracks news and events related to all things polyamory.  If you're ever feeling alone as a poly person you can easily find information on others living a polyamorous life here.


The only nationwide magazine dedicated to polyamory, Love More also hosts conferences and poly events throughout the country.

Polyamory On Purpose

One of the better practical blogs of poly-related information for oply families, legal issues, financial stressors and more.

Poly Weekly

A podcast about polyamory and the people who choose this kind of open relationship.

If you are considering opening your relationship give me a call for a consult.  I am happy to help:

Sex Counselor Portland | Portland Couples Counseling

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).