Polyamory, Nonmonogamy & Open Relationships
I am knowledgeable and affirming of non-traditional relationships and variations of polyamory and open or nonmonogamous relationships. All partnerships are welcome! Sometimes, we are working on issues related to your relationship(s). Sometimes, we are focusing on other issues, and you may find it helpful not to have to explain or educate about poly relationships.
That being said, I love helping people learn more about polyamorous and open relationships! If you are new to polyamorous relationships or looking for educational resources, please see the links at the bottom for more information and resources
Common Counseling Issues for Polyamory/Non-monogamous Relationships
Navigating the world of polyamory and open relationships can be daunting, whether you’re an individual or a couple. Some common questions or concerns help with include:
Opening up relationships and learning about polyamory
- What if one person wants an open relationship and the other one doesn’t? How do we resolve this conflict?
- What are the rules? How do we incorporate other people into our existing relationship?
- Where do we learn more about poly relationships? What resources are available?
- How do I talk to you and you and you? – communicating well with your partners and your partners’ partners
- We hit a snag – now what? Skills for resolving conflict and conflicting needs
Dealing with the Tough Stuff
- Coping with challenges, jealousy, setbacks, losses and break-ups
- Helping a partner who has experienced abuse or trauma
FAQ About Polyamory
What does a polyamorous relationship look like? There are as many different possible configurations of polyamory as there are polyamorous people.
What is the difference between nonmonogamy, an open relationship, and polyamory? In general, Nonmonogamy is an umbrella term that covers many different types of interpersonal relationships in which some or all participants have multiple marital, sexual, and/or romantic partners.
An open relationship refers to two partners who have a committed relationship with each other and maintain a primary bond with each other while agreeing to allow one or both partners to have varying degrees of intimate relationships with others.
Polyamory refers to loving and being committed to more than one person. Many people identify with being polyamorous as an integral part of themselvess and identify with this label regardless of how many partners they are currently seeing.
Are poly relationships inherently healthy or unhealthy? Like monogamous relationships, polyamorous relationships can be healthy, unhealthy, or a mixture of both. Poly relationships take hard work and a greater deal more coordination than monogamous relationships, but they can also be amazingly awarding. One of the big advantages of poly relationships is not depending on any one person to meet all your needs.
How can I convince my partner to try an open relationship? Opening up a relationship is a big step that requires the consent of everyone currently in the relationship. You should carefully consider the consequences. Often times, couples find that opening up or experimenting with adding others to a relationship permanently changes how they feel about their partner or the relationship. In other words, this is a big deal that needs to be handled with open communication, honesty and respect for all involved. Opening up should never be imposed on an unwilling partner. There are some great books on the topic of opening up your relationship. This is also a great topic to explore in counseling, either as a couple or individually.
Learning the Language: Common Polyamory Lingo
Compersion – Feelings of joy and happiness that your partner is happy with their other partner
New Relationship Energy (NRE) – The surge of erotic and emotional energy in a relatively new relationship.
Nesting partner – a partner with whom one resides with or shares primary sleeping quarters with.
Poly – common shorthand for polyamory
Polycule – Refers to polyamory family that includes you, your partners, your partners partners, etc.
Polygamy, Polygyny, Polyandry – These are anthropological terms for multiple marriages/ relationships and not usually used in the poly community.
Primary/Secondary Partners – Not everyone uses or believes in these terms, and their designations can be somewhat controversial. Sometimes, but not always, these terms designate a ranking order of a partner according to closeness. More generally, however, primary partner refers to a partner with whom one shares more ties with, such as bedroom, marriage, cohabitation, children, bank accounts, decision-making, time together, etc., while secondary refers to having less formal or binding ties.
Vee, Triangle, Triad – Three way relationships may be fairly symmetric with all three pairs being fairly equally involved (a triangle); or two of the pairs may be substantially more bonded than the third pair (a vee or V, think of the letter V).
Books and Resources
Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino.
The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt
Polyamory : The New Love Without Limits by Dr. Deborah M. Anapol