Robyn: What does an open relationship mean to me?
First of all, I’m not one for labels. I don’t like to be put in a box. Even the term “open relationship” feels like a box to me. Part of the problem with these labels is that we create a meaning for the word and we get stuck in our own definition, which makes it easy to judge others when they identify with a label we may have negative judgments about.
Rather than tell you how I define open relationship, I want to share my experience with relating and the understanding I have come to from my lived experience.
I was married at the age of 25 and agreed to be in a monogamous relationship. But I had anxiety from the day I said “yes” in my wedding ceremony. The promise to love another ‘till death do us part – or in my case, it was a Mormon wedding and we promised to be together for time AND all eternity – is a heavy commitment.
I remember thinking how strange and unnatural this felt, and yet it was all I knew from my upbringing and the messages I was bombarded with everywhere I turned. This was what I was supposed to do. This is what adults do. And I was all about doing the right thing. I was so good at pleasing everyone around me and keeping within societal norms, I completely lost myself.
Long story short, I was married for five years before I called it quits. I felt trapped and in order to escape that trap, I sabotaged the relationship. I was unfaithful and then I took responsibility for everything that went wrong. I felt like a total failure. The cost of pleasing others became too great, and yet, the only other option I could see was disappointing and hurting others, which also felt horrible but was better than the alternative.
Coming out of that relationship, I migrated to the other end of the spectrum. I decided I was going to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with whomever I wanted. I slept around and convinced myself that this was true freedom. But it wasn’t. It left me feeling lonely and depleted and I started to see a deep sense of unworthiness within me.
I began an inward journey of self-love and healing. And in my mid-30’s I found myself in another committed monogamous relationship. This time I wasn’t going to lose myself. I put myself and my needs first. But what happened was that I found myself with a partner who lost himself in trying to please me. I felt a sense of safety in knowing he would do anything for me and that he would love me no matter what. But my heart couldn’t open to him. This dynamic didn’t feel safe either.
After four years on and off, we decided to open our relationship. We were living in different cities at this point and saw each other once a month. Our agreement around this was vague – when we were together, we were together, and when we were apart, we did our own thing and didn’t talk about the other people with whom we were sexually intimate. We agreed to use protection with others. And that was it.
At the time, I thought I was getting the best of both worlds – I had my committed partner, but I also had the freedom to follow my impulses and do what I wanted with others.
What I have learned is that following my impulses doesn’t necessarily equate to freedom – certainly not freedom of the soul. Every time I have intercourse, a part of me merges with the other. I give a part of myself to the other. And to be honest, many of the people I have slept with don’t deserve to have a part of me.
Freedom and connection. This is the tug-of-war that we all engage in. How do we honor our need for both? The word that comes to mind is sovereignty. We are all independent, autonomous beings. And we all have impulses and desires. As the man I love often says (thank you Matthias Schwenteck), “It’s good to want.”
I love the act of desiring and I see real power in wanting – it is connection to life force energy. But even more powerful is making clear agreements with ourselves and honoring those agreements. This might mean forgoing an impulse in the moment that would feed our need for connection in the short-term to hold onto our love of self in the long-term.
I have found more freedom and connection in my current relationship (however it is defined) than I have ever experienced before. I believe and I have felt that this is because our agreements are clear, transparent and alive.
Our primary agreements are to ourselves – we maintain sovereignty and commit to loving ourselves first and make decisions from a place of integrity and inner alignment. We are both choosing for ourselves to only engage in intercourse with each other so that we can go deep. And we allow ourselves to play and engage our sexual energy with others in an innocent and playful way with no intercourse. In this way, we stay connected to ourselves at all times, and this for me is absolute freedom.
There are infinite ways to define an open relationship – or any relationship for that matter. I invite you to let go of everyone else’s definition and find your own. Find what works for you. Find what honors and feeds your soul.
Matt: YES i had always difficulties to declare i am in relationship, it meant nothing than possessive ownership from the other to me.
i could not declare what it meant, my association was married like i am committed to someone till the rest of our live…i could not figure out what this meant. with the wheel of consent and the somatic understanding of taking direct pleasure, vs pleasing and indirect taking ( your pleasure is my pleasure ) i could finally unravel this daemon of the unknown that was saying everything and nothing. but now i can relate to agreements that i make and share with the agreements of my lover to create a flexible field of agreements.
I am committed to my self to share the sacred part of sexual union with one person i choose. i give her permission to touch my body in the direct way for her pleasure where and when she desires and i ask for the same permission where we both feeling our body as gift for each other and we both are responsible for our boundaries. do not please me and when you want me to do something please ask me…
With my lover i want to be able to open up the sacred doors and explore deeper layers of the divine self with another – the divine union of souls beyond separation and duality where we can enter the void.
With my lover, i want to surrender. I want to feel safe and trust, to be soft, open and vulnerable, and to let go of defences and resistance. I want to give my selves totally to the moment and enter the realm of sacred union together.
I want to give my lover infinite holistic permission to take from me.
I want to give and feel my being as a gift to be used for my lover’s evolution.
I want to feel this from my lover in the same way – to merge in gratitude for this gift of life, for our bodies and for the sexual energy we share in the moment of sacred union.
To bring integrity to relating as sacred lovers, it requires clear agreements, which create trust, safety and surrender, while maintaining sovereignty. We make commitments to ourselves, first and foremost, from a place of self-love and respect.
In the realm of the sacred lover, my agreements look like this:
Please don't take care of me or please me or do anything to make me feel happy. thats my responsibility.
I want you to be yourself and follow your impulses.
I can take care of my boundaries and myself.
I want to give you permission to take from me whatever you want when you want. My allowing you to take from me is my gift to you.
May I ask for permission in the same way?
I want to feel you as this gift.
I want to be free to follow my own impulses and desires.
I want you to be open and give yourself as much as you want and I trust that you can take care of your boundaries.
Please take from me in this direct, loving way without the need for any reaction and allow yourself to feel yourself while feeling me.
I will make a clear request when I want you to do something to me or for me and I will ask for it with no attachment to your response.
I am happy to serve you in any way I can and I will not do anything to you or for you until you let me know what you want me to do.
You can ask for anything you desire. It is good to want.
This release tension and unhealthy relationship imprints stored in my physical and emotional body.
i will communicate needs and desires clearly and directly
Create agreements that are based on sovereignty, integrity, respect, choice, trust and goodwill
Using my own hands, genitals and entire body as an unlimited source of pleasure and connection to self and other.
we are open to engage in innocent play with brothers and sisters.
Merge into oneness as empowered beings and lovers
Transform lovemaking from contracted and goal-orientated sex to a state of multi-orgasmic infinite expansion.
Home Address: Earth
Inspiring love, connection and healthy sexuality beyond race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and belief system. Everyone is recognized as a unique being and individual.