Have you ever wondered what it is that makes being in a consensually non monogamous, swinger, open minded, or poly relationship so great? Why are one in five Americans engaging in consensual non monogamous relationships? One in five!
I know for me, having been in an open relationship for going on nine years, I can speak from experience regarding my own growth through the years. I have seen first hand how an open relationship can and does create a strong, deep, and loving union. What are some of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my own relationship by incorporating consensual non monogamy?
#1 – Increased dialog around honesty
This is by far the biggest impact I’ve seen since opening up my marriage. Sure we all want (and rightly so) honesty to be the cornerstone of our relationship, but what makes honesty in an open relationship so different is the content of the honesty. In an open relationship you and your partner are encouraged to be open and honest about all aspects of your life. Whether this honesty has to do with work, family, geographical decisions (where to live for instance), desires and or fantasies. We are inspired to be vulnerable about our fears, our jealousies, and our triggers.
When you are in an open relationship the goal is to wade through your thoughts together in such a way that solutions become the intent. When we work as a team through honesty, it means not only are we learning to handle our own truth in love, but we are also learning to handle our partner’s truth in love. What does this mean?
Think about those moments in which you felt a breakthrough in your own journey to the truth. Those times you found yourself admitting a truth, only to be enveloped in love and self acceptance. Now, apply this same response of love and acceptance when revealing a truth to your partner, and you begin to see why honesty in an open relationship holds such a high degree of importance.
I remember the first time I admitted a truth to myself and then to John, only for him to encircle me in a protective hug. Instead of being defensive, shocked, judgemental, etc…he showed me through love and compassion that I was in a safe space from which to share my truths. Imagine the weight of shame or guilt being lifted when we are able to share our transparency with a partner.
#2 – Increased communication in general
The ability to communicate our honesty or truth is the difference between growth and stagnation. If we can’t express ourselves through communication and comprehension then we might think twice before traveling down the road to a deeper more bonded relationship with our partner.
This is why discussing our desires (among other topics) to one another through open communication is another vital component in a highly functional union. If I feel free to express myself through open communication, my degree of transparency will be heightened.
I will have a sense of security and safety within the relationship and so will my partner. In an open relationship the goal of open communication is to provide a no judgement zone for sharing ourselves with our partner.
As long as I feel safe within the relationship, I will know I can expand topics to include a wide range of subjects. How else are we going to be able to admit we enjoy threesomes, or separate play, or bisexuality if our platform for open honest communication is tainted by judgement or fear? It is our goal as partners to be supportive and objective towards one another. To make sure our communication stays centered in love.
#3 – Increased satisfaction from restrictions
Do we view our relationship as a series of restrictions or do we see our union as one built on freedom? Are we able to incorporate our rules/boundaries within a sense of flexibility? In my open relationship I’ve learned that many of my rules or boundaries were fueled by some fear or jealousy. I was encouraged to voice those fears in order to work my way towards a more freeing existence. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, I became much more satisfied with my life when I learned to let go of control.
Sure, back in the day, I had all sorts of rules. “Call me when you get to your date.” “Don’t deviate one iota from the plan.” I had a whole list of do’s and don’ts John was expected to follow. Now, don’t get me wrong, had he not honored me by following my expectations, who knows where we’d be today, so for this I give my husband credit. He knew enough to know for whatever reason, I needed to feel in control of what was happening, even if it meant trying to control my husband…sigh.
Thankfully, I was able to contain my need for control short term. As John went on more and more outings with others, the less fearful I became. Why? Because I learned that each time John walked out the door for one of his dates, he would return. I gave myself the space to explore his freedom. Unbeknownst to me I was expanding my own sense of freedom at the same time. The more secure I felt in each return, the more secure I began to feel in general. I became aware at some point that I didn’t need to keep tabs on John, because he was keeping tabs on himself. Just as I would keep tabs on myself when I was out on a date or playing with another.
Yes, I know the thought of our partner with someone else, can send shivers up and down our spine. I get it, I went through the same spine tingling fear myself, but what I learned by being in an open relationship is my fear doesn’t have to drive me. I can take the wheel and decide whether or not I’m going to react to a situation or respond. Just because society says I’m supposed to operate from fear or jealousy doesn’t mean I have to succumb to this train of thought.
I’m my own person, thank you very much!
I gave myself permission to embrace our relationship through the lens of love and trust. Living authentically is one of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon ourselves and our partner.
#4 – Getting your freak on
Do you have any idea how freeing it is to finally be able to fit within your own skin? To be able to admit all those kinks and desires and fantasies out in the open? To have a partner willing and ready to help you make those desires a reality? Or better yet, to give you the freedom to even express them?
This was one of the lasting benefits I’ve seen by incorporating an open relationship model into my life. This is that gritty, raw, organic item on our list of 5 benefits of an open relationship. The key point in waking up our sexuality by allowing us to voice our likes and dislikes. An open relationship can also be the jumping off point from which to experiment with different forms of body communication. Do you like being spanked? Do you even know? What about a threesome? Have you ever thought about what it would really be like to explore the emotional and physical barriers of being part of a trio?
I’m reminded of the quote by Ruth Gordon, “Try something new each day. After all, we were given life to find it out. It doesn’t last forever.” Are we instilling this goal in our own lives? Are we breaking the barriers of our own restrictions in order to find out something new about ourselves? Are we willing to give it a try, so we can not only learn about us but about our partner as well? And what about if we have a kink or fetish that isn’t up our partners alley?
For instance, what if I like being tied up, but my partner isn’t comfortable with this particular activity, are we secure enough in the relationship to give our partner the freedom to explore this side of themselves? If I’ve learned anything from being in an open relationship it’s acceptance in love. I have learned the importance of freedom in my relationship, not just for myself but for my partner too. There is nothing quite like being filled with gratitude for our partner because they have celebrated our authenticity.
#5 – Viewing our relationship from a place of durability instead of fragility
This, my friends, is the cherry on top of an open relationship. Finding a relationship that was steeped in courage, strength and assurance instead of treating a marriage as if physical and or emotional abduction was lurking around every corner was life changing. By focusing on what my open relationship brought to the table, instead of what could be taken away, I was able to make room for teamwork, security, freedom, authenticity, compassion, compersion, transparency, trust, honesty, desires, and love.
When we absorb our relationship from the standpoint of mass, as in, “The greater the mass of a body, the smaller the change produced by an applied force.” You begin to see how working together to create a positive mass within a marriage can withstand force. Again, positive mass is all those ways in which we lean into each other’s freedom. The ways in which we work together for the good of the relationship and for each other.
If I’ve learned anything from my eight and a half year journey through consensual non monogamy it’s that my relationship is something to be cherished and honored. I’ve learned the importance of speaking up and growing up with my partner. I’ve learned that my partner and myself have a beautiful responsibility to mold and shape our union into whatever works for us regardless of the voices from the sidelines. We are the ones in the ring and we are the ones who know what is best for us. We have taken each one of these steps and procured a marriage we can be proud of and an ever deepening relationship we can lean upon.
John and Jackie Melfi are in a consensually non monogamous marriage. They have been featured in ABC News Nightline Special Report “Getting Naughty In N’awlins”, Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention, and CNN “This Is Life” with Lisa Ling. The Melfis are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. With over 20 years of combined experience, this powerhouse couple coaches thousands of singles and couples through their award winning blog Openlove101.com.