Inner Trek

Therapy Questions: Episode 5

Therapy Questions: Why do people open their relationships?


Hey everybody! My name is Dana Mooney, licensed mental health counselor with Inner Trek, LLC. And welcome to Therapy Questions. This is episode number five. This is a little series where I answer your questions that I get about therapy. So the last couple of episodes have been about polyamory and different forms of consensual non-monogamy. And I got a question off of one of the last videos. So we'll kind of keep it on that topic for this episode.

The question I got was, "What are some of the main reasons people open up their relationships? I think my assumption is that maybe they're just bored in a monogamous relationship, but maybe that's not correct or fair." Okay so this is a really great question. I think that there are a lot of different ways that people get into consensual non-monogamy and I want to talk about things in kind of two categories.

So first category we've got people who feel like being consensually nonmonogamous is part of their identity, and then we've got people who view it more as like a relationship choice. So and then of course there are people kind of in the middle as well that view it as both. And so we'll talk first about identity. Okay. And I've heard this story quite a bit and it comes in different forms so I'll just mash all the stories together to do like one homogeneous story. The story I hear is: “Growing up I had a really really hard time being in relationships because I would always find myself attracted to more than one person, and then feeling guilty or bad about having those feelings, or not wanting to tell my partner about them, or I would fall in love with two, three people at once and not know what to do about that. Or I would cheat on my partners and then just feel awful and destroy relationships because I have this tendency. Or I have this desire to do this and I don't I never knew what to do until I found out about polyamory or until I found out about consensual non-monogamy. And then I figured out that there are other ways to live where being myself isn't awful and isn't looked down upon and isn't shamed. And I just I will never go back." And so I've heard this so many times in various different forms and this is because there are a lot of people that feel that this is a tendency that is a stable trait for them across time. As long as they can remember they've been attracted to more than one person at a time. And so yeah that's part of their identity.

I also have noticed an interesting trend as more information is coming out publicly about different forms of consensual non-monogamy, like there are I think there are even shows about having open marriages and polyamory, and teens and adolescents are getting more exposure to different types of lifestyles, they're realizing that there are different choices. And so we're coming into an interesting phenomenon where there's a new generation of people who, maybe they never get into a monogamous relationship. Maybe they decide that they want to be in polyamorous relationships or open relationships and from the get-go. And so I think that that's a really interesting kind of new thing that's happening.

I do want to talk about for those people that are that have an identity as like, "I am poly" or "I am consensually nonmonogamous at at my core." A thing that I have seen some of is people's relationship might change or somebody's circumstances might change or maybe even they might change as a person, and then at some point it becomes, it makes more sense to them to be in a monogamous relationship. And sometimes when that happens it can cause a lot of feelings of confusion if they've attached consensual monogamy to identity I've seen it bring up feelings of guilt and feelings of failure almost for kind of going back to monogamy. And if that's a place that you're in or if you know somebody who's in that place I just want you to know that that's okay to change. There's nothing wrong with monogamy inherently. It works for a whole lot of people, and it's okay for things to change to where monogamy makes sense for you and there's nothing absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's totally normal for identities to change it's totally normal for circumstances to change and it's totally normal for preferences to change. So however makes sense for you to be at this time is totally fine and acceptable. And go for it. You're doing the right thing for you.

So I want to kind of move over to the relationship choice people. And there's like a couple of different iterations that I want to talk about there are people there are many people that who would be happy in any style of relationship as long as it made them happy in that moment. So maybe they'd be happy as a monogamous person, maybe they'd be happy as a poly person. Whatever just what makes sense for them is what they like.

There are also people who get into consensual monogamy because maybe they fall in love with somebody who's poly and they decide well this is something that I want to try to make work so I will give it a shot. That's how some people get into it.

There are also people who like a consensually non-monogamous style because they're more able to explore their parts of their sexual orientation that they can't explore with just one person. Or maybe they are wanting to explore parts of their sexuality that they can't explore with their current partner. This happens sometimes when people are interested in different types of BDSM or maybe different fetishes that their partner just isn't interested in. And so they say, "Go ahead and explore that. Like I support you in doing that with other people because I don't want to."

There are also people who view consensual non-monogamy as almost like their philosophical leaning. And so what this means is many people think about their relationships as not wanting to have rules on them or constraints. And so things like, "We are in this monogamous relationship or we are in this marriage." kind of give a person or a reason to be in it. And so they want to take away those reasons for a person to be in it just because they agreed to do it and they want to allow or encourage their partner to be their authentic selves and actively make the choice to be in that relationship every day, rather than just because they decided that they wanted to do it five years ago, and that's what they agreed to. And so in that way they kind of want to actively encourage their partner to explore themselves and become their most authentic selves and maybe that authentic self doesn't involve this current relationship or maybe it does, but that way they'll act they'll know that their partner is choosing that relationship on purpose, which is important to them.

So I think that that's kind of like the broad categories and I'm sure that there are a lot more different reasons that people get into non-monogamy. And if I didn't, if I missed anything please please send me a message or put it in the comments. I'd love to hear about your experiences.

And if you have questions for me or that you'd like to answer you'd like me to answer on Therapy Questions you can put them in the comments. You can send them to me in an email at or you can put them in the submission form on my website at Thank you so much for watching and I hope that was helpful! Be well!