People like to believe that love is black and white. If you really loved me, you wouldn’t want to see other people… why am I not enough?
That might have something to do with the fact that even though modern society is largely secular, organized religion is still at the root of our romantic and family structures. Historically speaking, Americans were born and bred on traditional Christian values, and if you live in a state like Texas, those values are still really strong in a lot of people. The problem with that, is it makes living polyamorous, ethically non-monogamous, and swinger lifestyles more difficult.
No Disney movie ever modeled an open relationship, the closest we get is that one lad who shacked up with 7 guys. Your intuition (which lives in an actual part of your brain, the amygdala, but that’s harder to put in a song), is also really accurate, people falling in love are destabilizing to current relationships.
Unfortunately, you can bet-your-bottom-dollar that a lot of Texans will struggle to accept you and your way of life, which can make dating all the more difficult… at least publicly. In some cases, you may even find people who say they’re okay with being in an open relationship, but then when things get more serious, they play the “but don’t you love me” card.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
If any of your partners are not open to open relationships, this can be one of the most difficult things to get them to understand. And even if they were into the same kind of lifestyle as you at one point or another, once love gets involved, they may change their mind and struggle to understand why your mind isn’t changing too.
Maybe you do love them and you also don’t want the relationship to end, but you’re just not willing to give up your way of life – it is a part of who you are.
Helping them understand that it’s not them, it’s you, can be tricky. Working together with a therapist can help – especially if you work with a therapist who isn’t impacted by their own potential relationship biases.
In some cases, you may be able to work things out. In other cases, it may be time to end the relationship – especially if your way of life doesn’t agree with the other person. A more traditional relationship may be what’s best for them. The only way to find out is to address the problem together.
Simple exercises, like using a relationship checklist to determine what’s most important for each of you can help. Consider things like:
- Emotional Intimacy
- Social Integration
- Quality Time
- Physical Intimacy
With exercises like this, you can see on paper how right or wrong you may be for each other, which can help foster mutual understanding and acceptance in whatever outcome you each determine to be best.
Working Through Jealousy Together
If your partner does decide to stay with you and accept your way of life, that doesn’t automatically mean things are going to be easy. Your partner may need to work through some deeply ingrained beliefs and teach themselves to understand love differently.
It’s entirely possible to shed old belief systems and develop new ones. It may take some time and it may cause you both (plus any other partners who may be involved) a lot of grief. The good news is, a therapist can help. A combination of couples counseling and one-on-one therapy sessions may be the key to a long and happy polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous relationship with all your partners.
Ready to work things out? Get started with a free and brief consultation to see if therapy is right for you. I work with individuals, couples, throuples, quads, and more in Houston, Dallas / Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso, and throughout the state of Texas.