From our earliest years we are conditioned to believe that we must find one special person to make all our dreams come true. As children we hear the story of Cinderella, who finds her prince charming; and tales of the prince who finds his princess. Over time the fairy tales begin to seem real, monogamy is viewed as the only possible expression of loyalty and love, and sex and sexuality can begin to take on a quality of heaviness and angst. Once an individual encounters their prince or princess, the relationship is often entered into with unrealistic expectations. As vows are taken and the ring is given in a ceremony, the fairy tale begins. In reality, with that ring the individual is imposing responsibility on their partner to fulfill all their sexual needs, forever.
While some individuals find that traditional monogamy encompasses all of their sexual interests and desires, there is ample evidence that many do not. We are born sexual beings with a desire to experience sexuality in all its greatness. Many individuals torture themselves and make things more complicated than they need to be. They wrap sex up with all kinds of intense emotions, including love, hate, power, and control. Many also place a direct link between monogamy and religion. From birth we are conditioned for competition, and sex is no different. We compete for sex and to keep our sexual object (our partner) for ourselves, all the while ignoring our own personal needs and inner sexual essence.
Sure, sex is important. It can be sacred, and life-affirming, even life-changing. But when it is a duty or a mindless habit, weighed down with negative associations, or a way of clinging to or controlling your partner, it can become a powerful negative force. It is also important to realize that sex is about exploration and creative possibility. Sex without a sense of humor and play is no fun!
So, please remember: Relax, it’s only sex!
In my practice as a Clinical Sexologist one of my specializations and privileges is working with modern couples. These are couples who consider themselves “in the lifestyle,” swingers, or in an open relationship of sorts. Some began their relationship this way, while others were together for many years and decide to make constructive variations to create passion and excitement in their lives. They transformed their commitment to monogamy into a commitment to live full and exciting sexual lives.
These individuals are truly unique and special. To be in a modern relationship you must have arrived at a place deep within yourself, a place of love. This dwelling has no competition or jealousy, only sexual compassion and generosity. This bounteous core allows you and your partner to experience sexuality in all its vastness.
The alternatives to a monogamous relationship can be liberating, exhilarating, gratifying, and lift you emotionally, physically, and spiritually to an advanced level. Instead of giving your ring to a partner in the hope that they will always make you happy and fulfilled, keep it for yourself. Individuals who do this treasure both themselves and their partners, and possess power and control over their own ecstasy, allowing themselves endless possibilities for love and passion.
Dr. Stephanie’s tips on how to have a successful modern relationship:
Discuss all your sexual fantasies and desires for yourself and as a couple openly with your partner. This should be done in a safe, non-judgmental environment, preferable with a sex-positive counselor.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
No matter how open you and your partner are, there are still comfort zones that must be discussed. I suggest creating a contract that includes these boundaries, one that each of you agree upon and under no circumstances break. This contract can be modified it at any time, but it must remain a valuable resource that both respect and follow.
3. Create A “Safe Word”
This is a word that is agreed upon that either partner can say at any time during your play, so that everything will stop with no questions asked. Then later you can discuss why the word was used. The safe word is a stop sign, a traffic signal that must always be obeyed.
4. Goddess Or King
For couples who are a bit off balance, in that one partner is moving more cautiously than the other, the more hesitant partner is always considered the Goddess or the King of the play scene. The process is all about them and making sure that they are comfortable and happy throughout. They are in control and must always know it. In time, as they grow more comfortable, a balance will and should occur.
5. Remember The Main Reason You Are Playing
You want you and your partner to have fun and to enjoy the vastness of sexuality to its fullest. Remember that sex is not supposed to be deadly serious, and strive to have a sense of humor about it and keep it in perspective. You have chosen to explore and make your sexual discoveries together, not alone. This can bring you closer, give you each a sense of autonomy, and provide you with something to talk about when you’re sitting together on the porch in your rocking chairs.