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.