Open communication allows relationship exploration

On January 30, 2014

“There are plenty of fish in the sea.” That seems to be everyone’s favorite line to use on newly single friend’s lamenting about their lack of a significant other. But what if you already found your fish? Does that mean you should forego the rest of the bounty the sea has to offer? Not necessarily.

Monogamy, dating only one person at a time, is traditionally what people think of when it comes to relationships. But just like the people in them, relationships can come in any number of shapes and sizes.

This may sound like some kind of radical, new age, free love nonsense, but the idea of polyamorous relationships isn’t actually that crazy.

Remember President Roosevelt? He kept a live-in lady friend alongside him at the White House. As it happens, so did his wife. The ladies were obviously aware of the arrangement, and Eleanor even gave the mistresses cabinet positions to legitimize their presence there. They all lived together in harmony, sharing their love and happiness with one another. It almost sounds too good to be true.

This way of living is not unknown to those on campus. A fellow student has been with his boyfriend for a little over a year now. They are an amazing pair and their relationship is also open.

This fact has actually brought them closer together, according to the student. Since no subject is off limits they are free to openly share their thoughts and opinions.

“No matter the commitment level of a relationship, you still look at other people and find them attractive. You just can’t help that. It’s nice being able to discuss who you’re attracted to,” he said.

Indeed, communication is the most vital aspect of any relationship. It can lead to being open about fantasies, likes and dislikes.

One A-State alumni who has been happily married for more than 20 years can attest to this fact. He and his wife consider themselves an unconventionally conventional couple, who remained monogamous for 14 years before embracing “the lifestyle.”

After years spent focusing on things like jobs and kids they eventually turned their attention back to each other. They started going on dates again and discussing their deepest fantasies.

“We talked for about two years before we started experimenting with other people. In the midst of everything, we fell in love all over again,” the couple said. “We have more sex with each other now than we ever did before we started to venture out. It has to do with the communication. We are overjoyed at each others’ excitement.”

Unlike the aforementioned couple, who simply aren’t jealous people, jealousy used to be a major issue for another duo. This changed as their relationship evolved and now they treat picking up other partners as a team sport.

Like any good sport, rules must be laid out to ensure everyone involved plays fair, which can apply to any relationship. While some rules are no-brainers (e.g. practice safe sex), each couple comes up with their own set of guidelines to follow.

“Initially we said no kissing, but that lasted a whole two hours. You start with all these rules, but then you figure out what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.”

Obviously, it isn’t ok to force anyone into anything they aren’t comfortable with. Communicating about boundaries and desires is the only way to make sure both parties are able to fully optimize their own and each others’ enjoyment. Discussing things allows you to live out your fantasies. They don’t have to be confined to your dreams.

“It’s important to lay out ground rules. Be ready to have open and honest conversation about how you really feel and what you really want,” one student said.

Just because some relationships look different than others doesn’t make them any less valid. What’s right for one may not be right for everyone, but the most fun could be right outside your comfort zone.

When you love someone, your top priority should be to enhance their happiness. No jealousy or pettiness, just love in its purest form.


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