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Would you open your relationship? IMAGE: ALINA DANIKER | UNSPLASHIMAGE: Sergiy Borakovskyy | Shutterstock5 tips to make your relationship smoother if you choose to open it by Dane Thomas Is it me, or are open relationships becoming more popular?
When I first heard about open relating it was only ever in alternative and spiritual circles. Now I hear from a wide variety of people about their efforts to love more freely.
This ranges from ‘monogamish’ relationships, with a slight softening of the traditional rules, to full blown polyamory where multiple relationships overlap, and no one couple is at the centre.
To give some context on my point of view, I’m currently married and dating. Both my wife and I have other lovers and relationships, and have been doing so for the four years we’ve known each other.
We also have various mentors and teachers who’ve been polyamorous or open for much longer than us. We’ve gathered a lot of data, taught courses, and workshopped the fine art of open relating. I still wouldn’t call myself an expert – more of an enthusiastic student.
My goal with this article is to offer a few principles that have worked for me to anyone who wants to walk this path!
1. KNOW YOUR ‘WHY’This is helpful in all relationships: knowing “why are we doing this?”. It’s amazing how many of us end up in relationships and never question their purpose!
Between myself and my wife, Mia, there’s an understanding that we don’t want to limit each other. We also don’t want to try to be each other’s everything. Both of us value freedom, growth, learning, love, and spiritual awakening.
We are both committed to deepening our ability to LOVE in general – not only to loving each other. So, for us, this way of living and loving supports us to be who we are.
In practice this can range from having a date, or spending the night, to cuddling up with someone new at a party. It gives space for other romantic relationships, and also for platonic intimacy too!
My advice? If you’re in an existing relationship, get clear on why you’re together before you start adding other connections into the mix.
2. BE IN IT FOR THE LONG GAME Adopting the idea of, ‘hey let’s be free’, or some other spiritual ideal is one thing. It’s easy to practice when you’re the one with two lovers and everything is smooth sailing.
But how do you go when you’re home alone and your partner stays at someone else’s house for the night?
It’s likely that emotions and unresolved childhood issues are going to arise! And it’s also probable that your communication skills won’t be up to scratch for what you’re trying to do.
If you want to live this way, you will have to learn and grow in all sorts of ways. The world at large won’t support this new life either. You’ll have to overcome all manner of prejudices, including your own.
Because of this I’ve found that open relating has forced me to shed a lot of societal conditioning. Sometimes I hear: “Oh… open relating; I tried that once… it didn’t work!”
My answer is: “How many times did you try monogamy before it worked?”
It’s a worthwhile path, but it might take some practice. 3. BE PREPARED TO EVOLVE AND GROW I remember making the transition from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. It was like I stepped into a realm where everything was the opposite of what I believed before. I confronted my scarcity issues and realised I had no skills and no road map!
This is how it can feel moving from monogamy to open relating. You’ll deal with issues of safety, boundaries, communication, jealousy, and loneliness.
These things can be daunting but also become more manageable, even smooth, over time.
Mia and I are often asked: “How are you guys doing this with so little drama?” We’re both at a place where we can release emotions and share our wants and needs. We also support each other a lot, as well as trusting that we are grown-ups who can take care of ourselves . Of course, we still have issues and challenges like any couple would. I can honestly say though there is less drama than in many of my previous monogamous relationships. It helps that we’ve spent years developing various embodied skills including: emotional clearing, nervous system regulation, and staying open even in times of trigger.
This might seem like a lot of work, but is anyone expecting to thrive in 2021 without those tools anyway? 4. CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY As mentioned, this is still considered radical in many sections of society. I’ve heard couples say that the hardest part is that no one else understands them. Worse still, judgement and stigma are still deeply entrenched.
A friend of mine once commented: “People I work with are more comfortable with the idea of cheating than they are with me being on a date and my wife being ok with it.”
I’ve been very fortunate to create an amazing network of acceptance and like-minded souls.
My entry point into this world, many years ago, was the tantra scene. I found myself in an environment that didn’t assume monogamy as the default. I learned embodied skills for communicating my desires, fears, and boundaries. And… perhaps the most valuable part was I started to make friends with dozens of other people experimenting with their own way of relating.
Mia and I have deliberately cultivated these friendships. Having people to talk to, as well as having other reference points, makes the whole thing less daunting.
I feel fortunate that my friendship circle is about a 50/50 split between conventional and unconventional relationship styles.
If you don’t have anyone around you to learn from – start with books! I can recommend: Polysecure. 52 Fridays. Mating in Captivity. Sex at Dawn. All great, and there are plenty more. IMAGE: Johnstocker Production | Shutterstock5. TAKE THINGS SLOWLY Regardless of whether you’re single, in a long-term couple, or something else, I recommend not rushing.
This is one of my biggest life hacks: SLOWING THINGS DOWN.
My basic rule is, erotically speaking, that I move at the speed of my nervous system. This means that, even if there’s a strong attraction, unless both parties are feeling at ease then we don’t dive straight into sex. So much magic can happen in the space of cuddling, talking, and getting to know people slowly.
Again, this is true across the board, but it’s even more important when there are multiple sets of hearts and emotions to consider.
The whole underlying premise of open relationship for me is abundance. That means trusting, not rushing, and not clinging to or craving anything. Slowing down also creates space to really savour connections and to be aware of what’s happening emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
This is a big deprogramming of the hook-up culture that can prevail in the Tinder era.
After all… the whole purpose of opening things up is to practise loving more deeply, more broadly, and more consciously – right?
If that’s something you’re drawn to, I wish you the best of luck! About the author: Dane Tomas is an author and innovator in the fields of personal transformation, spirituality, and magic. Over the last 20 years he has explored thoroughly the fields of human behaviour, sexuality, consciousness, entrepreneurship, and tantra. He has written several books, including Clear Your Shit and The Integrated Man. [NEXT ARTICLE]
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