portland polyamory

Considerations for Opening Your Relationship in Portland, Oregon

Open Relationships in Portland | Uncommon Love Polyamory Counseling in Portland

After supporting hundreds of couples opening relationships and maintaining polyamorous relationships in our beautiful weird city, I wanted to share some of the most common considerations that might be specific to Portlandia.

This town has a lot of great resources to nurture non-traditional relationships, from tantra classes, to sex positive meet-ups, to erotic-themed poetry readings, there are a lot of great events in Portland for less-mainstream couples.  


3 Considerations for Opening Your Relationship in Portland

Small Town

Portland is just big enough to host a lot of great events and be home to some really incredible people (over 600,000 of us).  And a lot of people say they moved here from other cities because of Portland's weirdly small-town feel.  

Portland's in-between size has been such a huge factor for so many of the couples I support.  It shows up in three main ways:

  • The dating pool is smaller

So there are less folks to choose from in the first place- let alone those who really understand nonmonogamy and how it works.  There's also less poly, nonmonogamous, and/or swinger community to connect with than say, San Francisco or Seattle merely because Portland is much smaller.

  • The ex-pool is closer

Right, so if the dating pool is small, the ex-pool is even smaller.  It's likely you will cross paths with someone you hooked up with (or your partner did) at some point.  Plan accordingly.

  • You're going to run into people you don't expect

Many of the couples I work with are not out to coworkers, family, or other community about their nontraditional relationship.  This is just fine until you're out on a date with your new fling and someone you know from church is in the same restaurant.  

It can be really limiting for couples who are not out about their polyamorous life.

"Liberal" Values

Portland is lauded for its liberal values and in many ways our cultural embrace on keeping Portland weird does help nonmonogamous relationships flourish here.  

BUT many of the couples I support have seen ways those liberal values are espoused- not necessarily actualized.  For example, many of the people of color I work with have experienced real racism at play parties, and genderqueer clients of mine are always concerned about safety due to prior harassment at non-queer events.  

Portland is very far ahead of many parts of the country in terms of acceptance and social justice- but there is still progress to be made.

Quality Sex-Positive Spaces

We are lucky to have many sex-positive formal and informal events in Portland, it's true, but many of them have been very hard to find for my clients.  The events might be private, difficult to access, or unclear in their boundaries.  

For example, I had clients report back to me after attending a sex-positive event in Portland that no one explained the house rules to them, they were gendered, and they witnessed many non-consensual acts between adults while attending the party.  

The in-between size of Portland means less space- and I would argue, less quality space for couples seeking sex-positive community.


It's not impossible to nourish an open relationship in Portland, but there are important considerations that make our weird and wonderful city unique for folks embracing a non-traditional relationship format.  

Think about what you might need to overcome these in your own Portland partnership.


If you want support overcoming these challenges 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).




Why do People Have Open Marriages and Poly Relationships?

Why Open Relationships | Uncommon Love Open Relationship Counseling | Poly Counseling in Portland

People have open relationships for all kinds of reasons. Just like monogamous relationships, people choose non-monogamous relationships for both healthy and unhealthy reasons.  

In my years of working with open marriages and committed polyamorous couples, I have heard quite a range of reasons people choose open relationships. 

Here are some of the reasons I most commonly hear from fabulous individuals in varied polyamorous arrangements:

  • We don’t believe in the status quo.

  • There is greater security outside the confines of a two-person relationship.

  • My partner and my sex drives are out of alignment.

  • I have spent my whole life in polyamorous community and prefer to stay in the community I know and love.

  • I am bisexual and my wife is straight.  She doesn’t want me to lose connection to my queer identity.

  • Why not?

  • I enjoy the communication and honesty necessary for long lasting open relationships.

  • I believe open relationships require higher personal integrity.

  • Having multiple income streams in one household can make for greater financial abundance and sustainability.

  • We enjoy sharing play partners.

  • Polyamorous relationships require greater self development, introspection and have pushed me to grow as a person.

  • I am not willing to sacrifice one relationship for another.  

  • Sex with one person for my whole life would be boring.

  • My partner has a fetish or kink I am not into, and I want to support her in getting her needs met.

  • Trying to meet all of my partners needs on my own would put a lot of pressure on our relationship.

  • I like more than one kind of person.

  • My life is richer with more than one partner fueling my emotional intimacy needs.  

  • I don’t want to limit my partner’s personal expression or have mine limited by her.

  • I enjoy watching my partner connect with other people.

Remember open relationships only work if both parties can consent to their boundaries.

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 are thinking about opening your relationship and want help talking about it with your partner give me a call for a free consult. I'm glad to help.