If your open relationship journey has been anything like mine, you’ll find many… opportunities for discussion present themselves. Some of the most intense arguments can happen after a date, playing, or scene (as appropriate to your polyamorous, swinging, or kink prefernces for the evening). Some partners want to hear everything then blow up, some don’t want to know anything and can’t re-engage, some simply don’t know what to do. In intentional relationships, it can be best to discuss how to come together afterwards before going out.
Whether everyone went on a date or just one partner did, coming together afterwards can be difficult. Arguments can flare up in the car ride home from a FetLife munch, poly potluck, or swinger club or they can wait and simmer until someone comes home. Part of the tension can come from not knowing what to expect, I mean, that’s the basis of most horror movies right? How about before the date, we set an intentional plan? You and your partner(s) will purposefully write out a type of “procedure manual” which could be part of a greater, “Care and Feeding of Me” guide most of us would be better off writing. First consider how you’ll initiate the ritual:
- When will it happen?
- How often?
- Who initiates?
- What steps or goals are important to do?
- How will it end?
Looking at what steps or goals should be in the ritual is usually a little more complex than the others. Maybe look at:
- What is meaningful about his for you?
- How long should the ritual be?
- Who does what in the ritual?
- What happens after the ritual?
- What fears, anxieties, values need to be addressed?
- What wants or needs will need to be expressed?
Even though, if we’re doing this ethically, each person has “agreed to what they signed up for”, there are always unknown unknowns, things we didn’t or couldn’t anticipate. These moments, unaddressed, can ripple into the tiniest crevices of our relationships moving forward. Rather than let hurt build into resentment, contempt, or anger, try this!
- Taking turns as speaker and listener, jot down answers to these 4 questions:
- What hurts or potential challenges have come up?
- Of the issues that came up, which are you at least partially responsible for?
- What actions can you meaningfully consider to confront these challenges?
- How will you or your partner see progress in the new thoughts or behaviors?
Make sure to use some empathy and patience as the listener, doing your best to not react in the moment while doing your best to understand what your partner means by what they say. Ask questions to clarify any part that you don’t really understand.
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’men, gang aft a-gley, that’s the original Scottish of our phrase, “the best made plans of mice and men”. Sometimes, things get lost in translation, specifically in how we hope a moment will unfold and how it actually does. I have said kinks and trauma are kind of like Plinko, there’s just no way to know where the puck will land, just general ideas. If you find yourself struggling in the aftermath of a moment, one way to reframe your thoughts to strengths.
- Begin by listing five personal strengths that you already possessed prior to your experience.
- Next, identify those that you believe helped you to cope with this moment.
- Taking some time to consider how you’ve developed, next list any new strengths that you feel you’ve developed as a result of this moment.
- Reflect on your new strengths; write freely about how you feel about them.
If I am an athlete with a competition coming up, I want to make sure I train harder than I play. Then, when game day comes, it will feel easy. Actively working on intentional discussions, maintaining the connection between partners, and self care is the hard work that can make date / play / scene night go more easily. You still may not feel you “win” the game, you can still certainly close the point gap.
If you or someone you know is struggling to remain engaged with their partner or overcome new difficulties in relationships, reach out below for a short, free consultation.