As couples therapists in San Francisco, we work with all kinds of couples. We help people in open relationships (polyamorous, non-monogamous, “monogamish”, and more) and of course we help lots of monogamous people too. Most of the issues that come up are the same for all couples, of course. We all argue, we all get stuck in negative communication patterns, and we all want to feel closer and more connected. There are a few things non-monogamous couples tend to be skilled at, especially when they have been in open relationships for several years. Let’s look at these skills, and see how anyone can become better skilled in these areas, including people in monogamous relationships.
People experienced with being in open relationships know that attraction to others is not a bad sign. Most people are attracted to many people over the course of their lives, whether they are single, or in open or closed relationships. People in open relationships have faced the fear of losing their partner to attractions to other people. If a relationship can survive having other sexual partners, then security begins to become resilient to those attractions. In time those other attractions may seem less threatening.
Monogamous couples can also learn that attraction to others is not a bad sign. Some monogamous couples talk openly about attractions to other people. Over time, they observe that those attractions come and go, and even harness the energy of those attractions for their relationships.
In general, non-monogamous couples communicate about sex more. Couples in open relationships tend to communicate more about sex because they have had more practice with these conversations. There is no default arrangement for open relationships, so non monogamous couples have to communicate to figure out what their individual arrangement will be. Often those arrangements change over time, and that means even more communication.
Monogamous couples can learn to communicate about sex more without opening up their relationships. Monogamy is a great choice for many couples, and it can be arrived at through communication rather than as a default decision. Such an important decision shouldn’t be made by silent assumption. We know that somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of marriages are touched by infidelity. Perhaps this number would be lower if more couples had conscious conversations about their desires and preferences about keeping the relationship open or closed.
We don’t mean to imply that couples in open relationships are the bodhisattvas of relationships. Monogamous couples have as much potential for great relationships as non-monogamous couples do.
If it is time to get some help with your relationship from an experienced couples therapist, call us at 415-534-4051 or set up a free consultation now.