So, what exactly are these 'alternative' lifestyles and how do you know they are for you?
When I speak about alternative lifestyles I am talking about anything that deviates from the expected and usual monogamous, heterosexual union. Some lifestyles include the swinger lifestyle which is when a couple may choose to swap partners with another couple, threesomes/foursomes which may be in the form of polygamy or polyandry (marriage with more than one wife or husband, respectively) or just introducing a new member/s occasionally or on short term basis. LGBTQ lifestyles are another style where although married, one partner, or perhaps both parties have another partner of the same sex, or may be involved in a lifestyle as another gender, with another gender, etc.. outside the marriage. The variations are endless.
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These 'alternative' lifestyles I speak of differ from the norm because in general they introduce more people into an intimate space, either physically or emotionally, and beyond what is generally viewed as the space of the dyad or couple, and hence referred to as ‘alternative.’ Sometimes these happen naturally. Sometimes the couple makes a decision to do this together based on other circumstances. They are not necesarily the easiest of lifestyles. Couples need to communicate openly and honestly to both get their needs met. Communication and cooperation are key here. Side note: To me, cheating and infidelity do not qualify as an alternative lifestyle, although technically other people are involved. A healthy alternative lifestyle with your partner includes consent, honesty and communication.
I’d like to refresh your memory a little on a little old book Dr. Helen Fisher, PhD wrote, Why We Love. She did some research and found that there were 3 stages of love. Basically they were lust, romance and attachment. In the lust and romance phase things are exciting, passionate and the sex is great. In the attachment phase all the excitement and unrest leads to stability, security, things which are perfect for family raising, secure and comfortable but often times also lack luster sex, especially when couples are comparing it to before. I call it the 2-year lull, because that is when most couples start to notice a change. Couples may start freaking out at this point and wonder what is wrong with them. Couples in the know recognize this is normal and find a way to flow through this time with continued efforts. This is also a time when many couples decide they may want to do something different or alternative to spice up the relationship, and embark on the 'alternative' lifestyle journey I mentioned above.
How do you know if this lifestyle is for you? You have to be honest with yourself and your partner before embarking on this journey. Once you make the decision, always remember that if something doesn’t feel right or comfortable, check it with yourself first and then discuss it openly. If there is something that does interest you, discuss it with your partner and try to set as many ground rules as you can before proceeding. It can get a little complex out there. Getting more people involved means more emotions, personalities, time spent, so on and so on. Jealousy and insecurity happen too. So be realistic and don’t be afraid to speak up to your partner, and for yourself.
Setting ground rules is key. I cannot reiterate this enough. Things will come up while you are out there ‘mixing it up’ so having as many key words, and advance communication techniques and plans set up to help ease the situation will make it all the better.
One last thing to remember is that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and it’s okay if you’re not feeling it.
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