Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

An Open Mind Will Open Doors

Thinking Outside of the Box May Help You Out of Your Relationship Rut

Are you having trouble maintaining your relationships? Are you forever seeking something that seems to be more like a fairy tale but never seems to happen for you in real life? Do you find yourself in the same situation over and over again, in your relationships and wonder why the love, life and relationship you are seeking keeps eluding you?

Sometimes we get stuck on a concept. Sometimes we get so focused on an ideal we forget to be flexible to our own needs, our partner's needs, our relationship and intimacy needs. 

I'd like to impart to you the importance of seeking relationships that work for you and for working in your relationships towards the ideals which suit you, and which are not prescribed by the world around you. Sure, we all want to fit in and be revered by others. Sure we all want what we percieve to be the "perfect" relationship. We all want to be in love and connected and intimate. (ok, maybe not all of you, but let's just say many, especially if you are reading this post as you are on a website which attempts to teach you about relationships.)

So, what gives? How do we get that perfect relationship?  Well, the first thing to recognize is there is no perfect relationship. Obvious, right? Every relationship comes with it's plusses and negatives. Given. The part I want to encourage you to do is to think outside of the box. Is your relationship making you unhappy? Do you keep finding yourself in the same relationship rut? Then thinking outside of the box may be just the ticket for you.

It’s a pretty well known fact that ‘happily ever after’ is a concept that is often easier said than done. People still cling to and admire the ideals of a long-term commitment and marriage and with a little effort and cooperation many find that it is actually doable when they have both feet in the relationship, whilst others are finding that finding a new partner is sometimes just easier, and divorcing themselves from their partner and situation makes more sense. But with so much exposure to new and alternative ways of embracing marriage, more and more couples are ‘coming out’ so to speak, to embrace their sexuality by exploring alternative lifestyles within the marriage. Alternative lifestyles, also known as open relationships, are giving couples a third option, so to speak, when relationships need a little extra push to get up that hill.


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 marriage. 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, labels and titles are endless.


These lifestyles differ from the norm because in general they introduce more people into an intimate space, either physical or emotional, 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 always the easiest of lifestyles and couples need to communicate openly and honestly to both get their needs met. Communication and cooperation are key here. 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 study Dr. Helen Fisher, PhD did. She found that there were 3 stages of love. Basically they were Lust, Romance and Commitment. In the lust and romance phase things are exciting, passionate and the sex is great. In the commitment phase all the excitement and unrest leads to stability, security, things which are perfect for family raising, and often times also lack luster sex, especially when couples are comparing it to before. I call it the 2-year lull. Couples often 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 and this is also a time when many couples decide they may want to do something different or alternative to spice up the relationship.


How do you know if this lifestyle is for you? You have to be honest with yourself and your partner. If something doesn’t feel right or comfortable 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 as 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.


Setting ground rules is key. Things will come up while you are out there ‘mixing it up’ so having as many key words, and advance communication 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. The whole point is to explore ideas about what your ideal relationship is and to be open to the ideas of your partner. 

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

Author
Expert

Explore YourTango