On Being in an Open Relationship

This site is about eating and living healthy– but what does “healthy” mean?

Based on my personal experiences, I have decided that “health” is best defined as whatever energizes me and makes me feel good (including a cyclical ketogenic diet marked with intermittent fasting and weight-lifting plus a little bit of high-intensity interval cardio (*phew*)).

Sound complicated? I get it– this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. This blog would be much simpler in its message if all I did was advise folks to “eat all low carb” or “only do weight lifting”– but that doesn’t really capture the nuance of the health/nutrition benefits of my lifestyle.

Taking a break from the norm/what I do the majority of the time allows my body to build sensitivity to that same norm; to reset and come back to something that’s my “default” helps me accelerate towards my physical/strength goals than if I just stuck with the same thing over and over. This same principle applies to open relationships– so keep reading!

But health isn’t just about physicality. It’s also about the social-emotional– and whether you’re single, monogamous, or in an open relationship– you deserve to live your best life.

Let’s back up a bit: I remember reading Voltaire when I was in middle school and being struck by the idea of living in the “best of all possible worlds.” Applying string theory’s idea of multiverses to that same principle made me realize that though I have a short time in this reality/universe, I want the here/now to be the best possible version of all versions of my life. This is why biohacking is so attractive to me– anything that helps me optimize my life, whether it be a nootropic or diet or fitness plan– is something I want to investigate. This is also why open relationships are attractive to me.

Being bi and open has taught me so much. I believe I am a happier, healthier person because of it.

I realize, just like my diet/fitness plan, that being in an open relationship isn’t for everyone. This blog is all about what has worked for me and I hope in sharing my story, I can help you find what works for you.

OK, now that I’ve explained why I think biohacking and being in an open relationship are related, let’s dive in. Here are some takeaways I have discovered on being in an open relationship that I think can apply to anyone:

  1. Whether you’re in an open or monogamous relationship, it’s important that the model you follow is a conscious choice. I choose to be with my partner Daniel every day– not because “this is how it’s been” or “that’s what society tells me to do.” I choose being open because I recognize that humans are more often than not wired for sexual variety. We also have a tendency to get excited about the “new” (in the poly world, this is referred to as NRE or “new relationship energy”– so long as that NRE is counterbalanced with the knowledge that anyone “new” doesn’t replace the existing relationship, all is well in the world). If anything, having license from my primary partner to explore other people makes me love my primary partner even more since he’s happy seeing me happy, even when it doesn’t directly involve him.
  2. Daniel and I can talk about anything and everything, the good and the challenging. Communication is key in any relationship– friendship or otherwise. We say what we mean to say to each other, we don’t react emotionally/really listen to what the other person is saying, and we always work out something that meets everyone’s needs.
  3. I also think the principle of compersion is important to any relationship model. In the poly world, compersion is the opposite of jealousy. It’s love without ego. I choose to encourage Daniel to live his best life and he chooses the same for me– and in our case, if that means him being with someone else for whatever amount of time that is decided between them, then that’s something I should celebrate– because it has everything to do with the other’s happiness vs. one’s individual ego and insecurities. In a more traditional/monogamous model, it’s being happy when your loved one finishes her degree after you’ve foregone some date nights so she could pass her exams.
  4. However, if there ever comes a day when my needs aren’t being met, I am not required to stay in the relationship and nor is he– just like any other relationship. It’s my job as his partner to meet his needs and encourage him to flourish– and he does the same for me. Letting a bird fly in the wild and come back to you is more gratifying than watching a gorgeous bird wither in a cage. I want to be in a relationship where all parties choose to spend their time with each other, every day. I am with Daniel because he continues to demonstrate himself as a great life partner who has my back, loves adventure, and cracks jokes while we work out together. I think in many long-term partnerships, people oftentimes take each other for granted and decide to “let go” in terms of staying attractive, either physically and/or emotionally. If you see your partner, monogamous or not, lying on the couch while watching TV and eating bad carbs instead of making eye contact with you and talking to you about your day and really listening to you, then you have a problem on multiple levels.
  5. Long-term partnerships can lead to sexual monotony. This is what I was talking about earlier in regards to having a break from the default norm. Let’s face it: threesomes or more-somes can be fun. Having that occasional play in addition to my mostly monogamous relationship reinvigorates that primary relationship. But if monogamy’s more your thing, at the very least, check out hot people with each other. Noticing others is a totally natural/evolutionary thing. Let’s acknowledge that the person your partner is checking out is in fact cute and that that person is not a threat to you, as your partner is still choosing to spend time with you even though that cute-person-on-the-street exists in the world. Let’s just be real about it and maybe even spice up our love lives in the process.

So, how did Daniel and I end up this way? Well, when we first met, he had 3 girlfriends and I was seeing 4 men and a woman. On our first date, I complained about how I didn’t know how to attract more women, as I felt men were always the ones hitting on me. He gave me tips on how to improve my dating profile– so from day one, we immediately started on a path of compersive goal setting and camaraderie.

I wasn’t looking for a primary relationship and neither was he. We just found over time that we wanted to spend more time with each other and less time with the other people we were seeing; we slowly realized that dating separately meant time taken away from what had now become a primary relationship.

I think it’s possible to date separately, so long as that primary relationship remains a priority. I have seen some poly couples fall apart because the secondary relationships overtook the time that would have otherwise been spent on the primary one (however, it also is important to recognize that maybe those relationships weren’t strong enough to begin with anyway– for a new relationship to overtake the old one says something about that first relationship’s foundational strength).

Side note: I know there are some books out there that really hate on heirarchical nomenclatures such as “primary relationship” and “secondaries” but I have found through experience that regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, you can’t expect someone to be “primary” right off the bat. To call someone a “partner” is something that is developed over time and unfortunately for any newcomer to an open situation that desires primary status, s/he needs to wait and have connection(s) be strengthened first in order to transition from “secondary” to “primary”– the idea that everyone be on the same level of intimacy without regard to previous time spent between given parties is foolish at best.

OK, back to the backstory– since Daniel and I both desired novelty in our primary relationship but we also didn’t want to sacrifice our time with each other, we came up with the idea of dating together. We started swinging with other couples first, but I had had not-so-great experiences with some men so we then dated only women together. I used to be on the quest for a girlfriend for us but just like some monogamously-minded single women I know, I later realized it’s important to just have fun and meet people and see where the road leads versus forcing someone into a dream.

It’s been a fun, heartbreaking, amazing, joyful, exhilarating, calming, and inspiring learning experience. It’s definitely not for everyone but I think it wouldn’t hurt anyone to at least consider it for themselves, versus just accepting monogamy since that’s what’s expected.

If you’re interested in learning more about open relationships, I highly recommend the following books:

Thanks for reading!

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