20 People Share Stories From Their Open Relationship Experiences

10. I guess polyamorous relationships aren’t for everyone.

My ex tried to convince me that being gay and monogamous isn’t natural and monogamy was a system I had been brainwashed into. Every fiber of my being was telling me that I wanted to be monogamous but he was so convincing.

I resented him. He would bring home guys and have sex with them while I was studying in the other room. I specifically told him that I didn’t like when he had relations in our bed while he wasn’t away on business. He told me I was being too jealous and that I shouldn’t be such a prude.

So I gave him a dose of his own medicine. My ex was a very superficial homosexual. There was a 6’8” 32 year old built like a brick s—house who was very endowed. This man would make my boyfriend cry. So when the ex walked in on me getting piped like there was no tomorrow by a big daddy who was much better looking than him, he lost his mind.

The relationship ended that night.

Polyamory isn’t for me and never will be. You can call me regressive or brainwashed but screw it. I enjoy a committed relationship with ONE man.

9. I guess it will teach you a lot about yourself

“I’ve learned how to process and learn from jealousy. In a monogamous relationship, jealousy is mixed with dishonesty and disloyalty. In non-monogamy, you realize the real source of jealousy is your own insecurity, and you learn how to deal with it as a team, instead of as adversaries.”

“It forces you to deal with your own insecurities. I’ve been an open relationship for nearly 8 years and only in the past year have I really learned that I am good enough. Learning that has allowed me to explore other relationships, learn what I really want for my own life and be able to communicate my interests with my partners. It also allows me to keep a level of independence I never realized I wanted.”

8. Communication is key, people.

“Open relationships can only flourish when you are willing to be 100% open and honest with each other. Once you’ve opened up to each other, opening your relationship will only bring you closer.”

“TALK! Talk talk talk! No amount of discussion will eliminate all the issues that might arise but it will help. But don’t talk so much you don’t make out — that can be the opposite problem.”

7. It’s YOUR relationship don’t let anyone tell you the rules.

“Just know what polyamory means to YOU, because different people do things in different ways. Examine what you want from a non-monogamous relationship before going into one, set up boundaries with your partner, and don’t break your own rules. Polyamory isn’t for everyone, but it can be really beautiful and fun for everyone involved. Everyone has to be comfortable and clear on what’s okay and what’s not okay within your specific relationship.”

“Your open relationship does not need to follow any one script. You are only as limited as your imagination to create a relationship that meets your needs. Beware of people with a YDIW (you’re doing it wrong) approach because your relationship doesn’t look like theirs. You don’t have to meet any criteria to be ‘open enough’ or live up to standards created by someone else. Be creative, be honest (with yourself and your partners), be tender.”

6. Accepting change can be good at times

“Accept that there will be challenges — challenges of jealousy, challenges against ‘normal society thinking’, and challenges that will make you a better person. Being in an open relationship will challenge many schools of thought about what is normal, but that’s ok. Accept that this will not be easy, but be willing to accept the challenge of trying it and you’ll be just fine.”

5. That is a pretty valid point.

“I’ve learned that nobody owns anybody — not their sexuality, not their genitals, not their affections. Each of us owns ourselves, and it’s our right and duty to ourselves to be accepted for who we are, however we are.”

4. “More focus on the notion of no individual having to be the end all/be all.”

Healthy relationships engage the issues that arise in that particular relationship. Poly relationships, by definition, have more relationships engaged and so tend to have more things that come up.

I’d point out a couple of areas that this tends to impact (every relationship set being its own beast, obviously, with its own quirks):

1. A more acute awareness of managing finite resources (time, attention) versus non-finite resources (love).

2. More focus on the notion of no individual having to be the end all/be all with their partner, avoiding the trope of “one true love that completes me.”

3. Following on #2, a greater understanding of relationships as individual interactions with their own set of dynamics that are not always neatly covered by a common term like “wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend” which brings about the need to create more individual-focused narratives and labels instead of societal short cuts.

4. Perhaps a greater acceptance of non-traditional family structures that bring in more “chosen family” even when they may not be romantic/sexual partners. Once you’ve gone the route of tossing aside traditional notions of how a relationship/family has to be, it opens up a lot of possibilities about making things the way you want, not just in the sexual arena.

3. It will certainly take you out of your comfort zone.

No conversation is off-limits, all boundaries are negotiated (whether explicitly or implicitly), and you will always be bridging a gap between two (or more) different comfort zones to find a solution that works for you; dictates from culture and friends, mono or poly, never help as much as real communication. And it’s always hard.

2. There are different emotional challenges.

That emotional challenges are fantastic opportunities for growth.
Most monogamous people will try to shield each other from the emotional challenges of life — rightly so — but polyamory presents different emotional challenges… and with them, the opportunity to help each other face them. When I see poly couples try to shield each other from challenges so much that no growth is happening, that’s usually a relationship where the “poly” part is faltering or failing.

1. Get by with a little help from your friends.

No relationship can be successful if the parties involved don’t have emotional support networks outside that relationship. At the most extreme level – one of the first things that abusers do is isolate their victims from that support network. But even in healthy relationships, maintaining friendships and family ties outside that relationship is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy. Other people offer perspective on your relationship that you can’t see from inside. That valuable outside view can cut through raw emotion and help you see when you’re being treated badly, or when you’re treating someone badly. Moreover, deep friendships provide a space to talk through tools and plans for resolving conflict inside your romantic relationship. They also provide an outlet for all kinds of emotional stress, giving you the resilience to treat your partner better. For me, these friendships have a sexual component. But that’s not remotely their primary function. Even if you’re not having sex with your friends, serious friendships where you can be yourself and be honest are a crucial tool for making any relationship work, and for combatting unhealthy co-dependence.