I am delighted to share one of my “Dear Kitty” columns that was previously published in “Ethical Non-Monogamy Magazine” (ENM), which, unfortunately, is no longer being published. We are honored to have permission from ENM to keep the love going by sharing from our archives.
With all my heart, I absolutely love our cherished Loving Without Boundaries community. For the greater good of all of you living your most authentic lives with joy and bliss (with the least amount of suffering as possible), we are thrilled to share this response to the reader’s question as a gift to you.
For those who were in the swinging lifestyle before opening up to play on your own with a Friends With Benefits (FWB), how do you know if you’re ready? I’ve been vocal about feeling extreme jealousy even though he hasn’t met anyone face to face yet, and the advice is (other than work on my jealousy) “it will get better, it’s better with time, it takes time.”
But how do you know if you even have the possibility inside you to be ok with the love of your life having an ongoing friendship and sexual encounters with someone else on their own? Has anyone just not been able to move past the jealousy and insecurity this makes them feel?
By the way, I am not talking about a poly situation here. Just one FWB for each of us who would not be involved in our regular lives. And yes, we are completely up front about this when we chat with people.
This is a great question! I’m delighted to answer it as I am certain there are many others wondering the same thing. First I want to honor your courage —> Anyone who is considering coloring outside of the lines of traditional monogamous hetero-normative relationships is a flat-out Superhero in my book. It takes guts, tenacity, and bravery to swim upstream and get out of your own comfort zone living life on your terms.
In regards to knowing if and when you are ready, please know that when you open up your existing relationship, it can expose differences between you and your partner that you were previously unaware of, such as pacing differences. Sometimes one partner wants to go faster than the other… in meeting new potential partners, in having sexual encounters, etc. Neither person is right or wrong, it just is. In terms of feeling ready or well-prepared, my advice is to take the time to do research or even take yourself to open relationship school with an expert. For example, my husband and I researched open relationships for literally two years before we started to venture out and meet new potential partners. We both felt like this helped us IMMENSELY once we did go out there and start opening our minds and hearts to other people.
Speaking of opening your heart, I named my mission Loving Without Boundaries for a reason. Many folks today identify as perhaps polysexual only (focus on multiple sexual partners, less of an emphasis on emotional connection) versus identifying as polyamorous (focus on multiple intimate partners where emotions roam free possibly towards falling in love). That said, once we as humans are spending time with someone, getting to know them, creating memories, and sharing intimate moments, as human beings who naturally are wired for connection, sometimes our NEEDS trump our stated agreements as we evolve and relationships evolve. What I mean is we don’t have little cages around our hearts locking up our emotions. Our shared humanity means we often develop feelings for one another. So when a relationship opens up, please know that there is absolutely risk involved as your relationship with your partner changes. It will indeed change! I’m not saying this to scare you. I’m saying it because it simply is true. This is again where there is a call to courage. Can you willingly allow your partner to explore and live their most authentic life, leaning into uncertainty? Do you have a solid foundation of trust and great communication skills to speak about your feelings and needs as you ride the wave together of opening up? Can your excitement to try new-to-you things outweigh your fear of change and the unknown? Only you can answer those questions.
With emotion management and developing your emotional intelligence muscle, there are tools, strategies, mentors, and advocates out there to help you on your journey. You do not have to go this alone! So in regards to the emotion of jealousy, this may seem counterintuitive, yet I recommend you EMBRACE the normal and natural feeling of jealousy. Just like there are anger management classes, there are jealousy management classes and effective step-by-step strategies that you can use. These tools can help you to: 1) channel and learn from those emotions bringing you even closer to your partner, 2) learn effective communication techniques to help you both grow, 3) look underneath the complex emotion of jealousy to learn more about what unmet needs you may need to attend to, 4) discover what limiting beliefs or false stories may be creating obstacles for you, and 5) create new agreements you can negotiate with your partner to help build a sense of safety and trust. I believe when we know better, we do better. Knowledge truly is power, as well as empowering!
In terms of if there are some folks who are not able to get past any jealousy and insecurity when sharing their partner with another, we are all stronger and greater than we believe we are. If you WANT to work through challenging emotions and feelings and are willing to put in the work, you CAN do it. That said, it is worth the time to look within and listen to your intuition, and get much needed clarity. Do you actually prefer monogamy? What does living your most authentic life look like to YOU? What ARE your core needs? If you want to live a monogamous life, can you 100% accept your partner if they identify as polysexual? How about polyamorous? Can mono/poly work? Absolutely it can, yet know it takes dedication, acceptance, and putting in the effort – sometimes with the help of a professional.
I invite you to consider that all of our perceived problems are really a problem of perspective. Can you think of this as more of a challenge than a problem? When you can see it through a different lens, you can do something about it, but NOT if you remain a victim to it. Try this on for size: There is very little difference between excitement and fear/anxiety. Excitement is us looking forward to the challenge and what could be on the other side of it that is fantastic – expanding into the moment! Whereas fear and anxiety is dreading the moment, fearing the worst, and contracting. Do you see the difference?
Until next time, cherished community …
With love and gratitude,
Kitty Chambliss, PCC, CPC, ELI-MP
Founder, Loving Without Boundaries
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