I've been having a tough time trying to decide in what order to answer your questions and respond to your comments. There are so many terrific ones and I promise to do my best to get to them all. It seemed to me that it would make sense to answer them in "order." That is, from the beginning stages of opening a relationship forward. So, this week, I thought I might start at the very beginning with a question that I get all of the time.
Unfortunately, it's not an easy one to answer.
Here's how the email usually goes:
My husband/wife and I are interested in opening our marriage/relationship. I want to talk to him/her about it. But I don’t know where to start. I'm afraid he/she will misunderstand and leave/be angry/be sad. What should I do?
If you're in an honest, loving relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about anything. That doesn't necessarily mean he or she will feel the same way about the topic as you. But they certainly should be willing to listen with understanding and without judgment.
That, of course, can be difficult when it comes to this subject, as some people believe that it isn't possible to be in love with more than one person at a time or to have sex with people outside of a primary, committed relationship. But it is possible. Maybe not for everyone. But there are lots of successful "alternative" relationships out there. And that should be an assurance to you both.
The trick is this: you have to be willing to bare your soul and accept that you don't have control over what your partner's response might be.
Before you talk to him or her though, it’s vital that you do some soul searching of your own. That is, to identify what it is you are truly seeking. Do you want to simply sleep with other people? Do you want to fall in love with other people? Are you ok with the thought of your partner doing these things? What might that look like in your life? Are you interested in being swingers, in being polyamorous, in living in a group marriage?
Are you still in love with your current partner? Are you really looking for a way out of your marriage or relationship?
Do your homework. Read the books. Visit the websites. Spend time thinking about what it is that you really want. You will have lots to explore and learn together once you broach the subject. But your partner’s going to have questions – a lot of them. And you need to have at least a few of the answers.
When you do finally talk to him or her, be sure it is in a calm, happy environment when neither of you are in a hurry to get somewhere or are already stressed to the max about other things. And you certainly don't want to bring it up during a fight.
Begin by assuring your partner that you love him or her. Explain that this is not about leaving them or loving them less. But instead about exploring how you might enhance your relationship and grow as individuals.