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9 Healthy Habits We Can Learn From Open Relationships

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The difference between infidelity and polyamory boils down to one very fundamental virtue.

9. Don't turn your partner into a parent ... where you are asking his or her permission to go out or do something on your own. In turn, don't restrict your partner by imposing too many restraints on his/her actions. This creates a parent-child dynamic of inequality in your relationship that will have a ripple effect.

If our goal is to enjoy a rich and sustainable relationship, it is essential to maintain equality, honesty, respect, and individuality. And, in many cases, these characteristics can exist among couples whether or not they've decided to be sexually exclusive. Sex columnist Dan Savage has stirred up controversy by talking about unrealistic or unnatural expectations we impose on monogamous relationships, even suggesting that, in some cases, "non-monogamy can strengthen a marriage."

Yet, for this to be possible, Savage has stressed the unwavering importance of honesty and openness. In an interview with NPR, Savage stated, "For a non-monogomous relationship to function properly, properly meaning no blood, no tears, both persons involved have to agree on a set of rules."

Whatever this set of rules may be for a couple, whether insisting on monogamy or making certain exceptions, that is for them alone to decide. What matters is that once we've decided and agreed upon the terms of our relationship, we must stand by these decisions. In doing so, we offer our partner and ourselves a certain degree of freedom and respect as the separate individuals we are.

We are then free to love our partners for who they are, not as extensions of ourselves or people we must control, watch out for or feel suspicious toward. When two people in a couple accept and appreciate each other's uniqueness and independence, they're often surprised by how much closer they get to each other. When we give up some control, we gain much more than we lose.

Read more about relationships by Dr. Lisa Firestone

This article was originally published at PsychAlive . Reprinted with permission from the author.

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