4 Non-Monogamy Success Tips For Beginners

Opening up a relationship from monogamous to consensually non-monogamous is a life changing decision, with the tools and skills necessary to navigate this transition often unknown. Through my experience engaging with this relationship dynamic as well as through witnessing friends partake in it, I’ve discovered several key points that are extremely important to grasp if you desire to set out on this journey in a way which can mean all the difference between a traumatising or beautiful experience.

Couples who practice polyamory
Image: Polyamory

Boundaries and agreements

Being clear on what is and isn’t ok to you is the only way you will be able to express your boundaries to others. This requires a certain level of self-enquiry and a process of discovering what actions and behaviours you are in alignment with.

  • What are your values when it comes to relationships?
  • What do you require from your partner in order to feel safe and fulfilled within your relationship?
  • What are the deal breakers?
  • Why do you want to open up your relationship and how do you want that to look for you both?

Before opening up your relationship, I believe it is extremely important to know your boundaries and to have a relationship built on a solid foundation of love, trust and respect. These are non-negotiables in my opinion. It is also important to remember that there will be times when boundaries you didn’t know you had will be made clear (i.e. your partner does something and causes you to realise that you are not ok with that). Some things we will never know if we are ok with until they happen so be kind to yourself and make sure you take note of my next point…

People who have multiple relationships


I know that the importance of communicating gets thrown around a great deal but that is for a very good reason. Communication is vital in any relationship regardless of whether it is monogamous or non-monogamous. When you are including other people in your intimate relationship, you have a whole other level of emotions and challenges that will arise so learning to communicate clearly and effectively will mean the difference between it working out well or not. So what does good communication look like? To me, it starts with avoiding naming, blaming and shaming your partner or another and taking full responsibility for your experience and emotions. Being able to express ourselves and speak of what we are experiencing in our lives-the beautiful, the pleasurable, the painful and the ugly-is so important. Good communication in a non-monogamous relationship may look like:

“I felt really insecure when you were out on that date. I felt worried that you were going to fall in love with her and leave me. Can we spend some time together this evening to discuss this further?”

As opposed to:

“You are such an asshole for going out with her, you made me feel so insecure, you have to stay at home tonight with me.”

People in an open relationship
Image: Casual Relationship

Honesty, truthfulness and respect in a relationship

If you do not trust your partner or if you cannot be honest with each other, I believe that non-monogamy is going to be really f**king hard and painful. Being able to share your absolute truth when navigating this relationship dynamic is as important as being heard and supported when challenges arise. This could mean the difference between moving through issues or being stuck in pain and suffering. Respect seems like an obvious one but you would be surprised at how many people treat their partners like their enemy with no respect for them or their feelings! Your partner is supposed to be someone you actually like, am I right? So when you like/love someone, treat them with the same respect you would like to receive yourself.

Man with multiple partners
Image: Multiple Partners

Remember to enjoy the journey!!

If you find yourself in a relationship where you are not enjoying each other’s company because of all the “hard work” that comes with opening up your relationship, then it may be appropriate to reassess what matters to you. Yes, all relationships do require a certain input of time and energy to work effectively and this is especially true for open relationships. Challenges are unavoidable in any context and are to be expected in any relationship. However, at the end of the day, spending our lives with someone is intended to make our lives more enjoyable. I believe that if doing consensual non-monogamy comes at the expense of how satisfied you are in your relationship, it may be time to reassess whether non-monogamy is the best path for you both. It is also important to feel supported by other people on this journey so if you are encountering struggles which cannot be rectified between the two of you, reach out and get support. As well as through struggles, it feels really good to have people around who not only support your relationship choices but who understand where you’re coming from.

I understand that consensual non-monogamy is not for everyone. However, there are many people that with the right foundations in place, can really expand in their relationship with themselves and their partners through the path of non-monogamy.

Author: Stephanie Curtis, Sexologist

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