Consensual non-monogamy is not for everyone. The negotiating and communicating required can be exhausting and frustrating AF — but at the same time, the freedom a non-traditional coupling offers can be incredibly liberating. In short, figuring out whether an open relationship is pure feminist porn fantasy or a scenario that's right for you is tricky business.
I was 17 when I first tried the open thing at the insistence of a partner. At 19, I jumped ship to monogamy again for another half decade, and the yo-yo pattern continued for years before I finally decided to kick monogamy for good. All of this wrenching back and forth taught me a lot about the right and wrong ways to practice this stigmatized and misunderstood relationship practice — and how to help out a fellow babe in the struggle when they hit a rough patch.
As someone who has given both monogamy and consensual non-monogamy a shot, I can see the beauty and benefits in both and I've learned a thing or two about what it takes to open up. These are five signs that non-monogamy might be right for you:
1. You've Read Up On Non-Monogamy And Still Want To Try It
Books can't substitute for real life experiences, but when it comes to the complexities of non-monogamy, they sure can help. If you've already dog eared your stack of expert-written classics like The Ethical Slut, Opening Up, Mating in Captivity, or Sex At Dawn and still aren't discouraged by the at time exhausting minutiae of open relationships, then you might want to consider giving one a whirl.
2. Compersion Is A Feeling You're Acquainted With
If you've ever gotten off on the electric gleam in your partner's eye when someone else checks them out or starts to flirt, then an open relationship could be in the cards. Sure, having feelings of compersion doesn't mean you won't ever be jealous, but if the phrase "sharing is caring" is part of your lexicon, you're probably better equipped to deal with someone you're dating being turned on by someone else.
3. You Don't Believe One Person Can Satisfy All Your Needs
There are some who think their romantic partner is "the one" who can satisfy all their desires — both intellectually and sexually. If you are this type, monogamy is definitely your speed. If you are not this type, however, and instead believe there are a variety of people you can feel love, lust, and a mind/body/soul connection with that can add to your life in unique ways, that's a tell tale sign to try non-monogamy, post haste.
4. You Love Communicating And Talking About Your Feelings
This is a big one. Strong, silent types with an interest in non-monogamy often end up more on the Don Draper end of the spectrum — if you catch my drift. Navigating a fulfilling open relationship means talking about your desires and your fears in a transparent way. If you don't like gushing about your overwhelmingly complex feels, it will be far more difficult to maintain a respectful and healthy non-monogamous situation. However, the good news is, practice makes perfect, so those willing to do the hard work of learning how to talk it out will reap the rewards.
5. Change And New Adventures Excite You
A lot of people get into non-monogamy because they can't stand the restrictions that monogamy places on their lives. Although open relationships can become comfortable and even boring just like closed ones can, they are more likely to be filled with new possibilities and new adventures around every corner. So if adaptation is your strong suit, and you feel there's no true reward without risk, giving non-monogamy a go might be a good idea.
And as you figure out what your boundaries are and what your brand of non-monogamy looks like, just remember that you (and your partner(s)) make the rules according to your needs, and that there is no one right way to be open.