Finding a New Balance

Finding a New Balance

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Sex therapist Tammy Nelson, author of Open Monogamy, suggests that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Open Monogamy means having a central relationship, a spiritual relationship, one you honor above all others—while at the same time recognizing that you each have your own needs and desires. It requires being dedicated and loyal and making a promise.

Some label this type of relationship consensual non- monogamy or ethical nonmonogamy, or they call it being monogamish. Others define it as an open relationship. I have called it a new monogamy, a contemporary and creative solution to partnership that aligns with honesty, mutual respect, and a deep understanding of the nature of trust.

Some level of nonconformity is inherent in all of us; we want to be independent while at the same time honoring our commitments, our promises. Open monogamy is a way to structure our most intimate relationship so that it’s agreeable to both partners as we search for a balance between obligation and autonomy, between safety and adventure.

Creating an open monogamy agreement takes some advanced communication skills. It’s not easy. Every open monogamy agreement is unique and can change over time. Couples may agree to any variation of a sexual or romantic relationship, with any rules or boundaries, and these can range and change from “slightly flexible” to “wide open.” The central premise is that both partners are honest and share their feelings and their fears. If it is acceptable to both, and is intentional and consensual, any behavior can be a creative way for the partners to align their personal values around sex and love, to recognize the generosity of the other, and to be grateful for their trust.

“This type of relationship is not for everyone. Within each struggle there is a risk of loss.”


This type of relationship is not for everyone. Within each struggle there is a risk of loss. But this is true in every relationship. In an open relationship couples are more, well, open about it.

The saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” doesn’t make sense in this type of relationship. In open monogamy everyone gets cake, and there’s more than enough to go around, and magically the cake expands the more you consume it. Love is not cake, with limited amounts. The more you give away love, the more love grows, and there is more love for all.

Open monogamy arrows

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