It’s easy to find articles about the different strategies to follow if you want to do well in polyamorous relationships and overcome issues like jealousy and possessiveness.
Many of the books and essays we’ve found tend to focus on some basics like:
- What’s the balance of time to spend with other partners vs. primary?
- How far can you go sexually with different partners?
- What private details should you share with one partner about an experience with another partner?
These are a great starting point; however, they are typically not comprehensive in the sheer number of pitfalls and obstacles you can encounter in open relating.
After all, you can (rationally) plan for all types of polyamorous situations with specific strategies and agreements, but ultimately you can’t intellectualize away jealousy and possessiveness.
That’s because they are typically anxious trauma responses (which often only surface when partners transition from monogamy to a polyamorous relationship).
These responses run far deeper than rules and boundaries often help address, as they hide out in the nervous system and can often surprise us when we least expect it.
Here are 8 game-changing strategies to help get you ahead of the most common polyamorous relationship pitfalls:
1.Take a deeper dive into assessing and acknowledging everyone’s trauma history and attachment tendencies.
This way you can get ahead of open relationship challenges proactively by focusing on the TRAUMA healing process.
Most people in polyamorous relationships aren’t familiar with Attachment Theory, which posits that our romantic attachment styles are formed in childhood and are based on our experience of care (or lack thereof) from our caregivers.
We then bring our attachment styles, and adaptive/protective behaviors to our relationships. The first step in solving relationship struggles is mapping each person’s traumatology and in turn, understanding their attachment style.
A saying that comes to mind is “if it sounds hysterical, it’s probably historical!”
By bringing this knowledge out of shadow and into light, we can begin to address polyamory relationship conflicts from a position of compassion. First, we need to understand how our individual “demons” interact with each other. With that awareness we can name the patterns and make needed adjustments before small arguments turn into massive fights.
We’ve found that the biggest upside of polyamorous relationships is that they have the ability to shine a bright light on past wounds and all but force partners to at least begin their trauma healing process.
2. Get really clear on your desire to be in an open relationship.
Also, honor that your motivations can change over time as you experience more polyamorous relationships.
This comes down to understanding which of your six core human needs (safety, significance, love, variety, growth, and service) you’re trying to meet. We all lead with a different combination of these needs and those can even change depending on the stage of life that you’re in.
Are people ultimately responsible for their own safety and happiness? Yes and NO. At LEVELED UP LOVE, we call it an “innie and an outie”, meaning it’s an inside job (within you) AND an outside job (within the relationship).
When someone carries in unhealed abandonment or rejection trauma from past relationships, ultimately the critical piece for their healing is to form a secure connection with someone who can provide legitimate safety, even in a polyamorous relationships LLP. This biologically signals to their nervous system that another human relationship can be safe, something they may have never experienced! This simply cannot happen alone.
That’s why in our experience, healing someone’s anxious attachment cannot only be their work to do. This is where the “outtie” (the partner) comes into play. Done right, one will provide a safe place for this person to heal themselves. Not done right, and they may re-traumatize them if they’re not conscious of how their behaviors play with their trauma history.
Once you build a container that is safe, then it’s fair to say that your anxiously attached partner will also need to meet you in the middle and focus on their internal development and trauma healing work in a meaningful way.
Ultimately, if they do not take their healing work seriously, they will harm their relationship with you, and with anyone else they engage with in a polyamorous relationship. Without the internal desire to work on past trauma, while in an open relationship, continued struggle should be expected.
3. Choose the right style of open relationship.
Once you’re able to gain a solid understanding of each partners’ trauma history, their attachment style, and which core human needs they lead with, you can work to strategize on which open Relationships type may work best for you and your partners.
There are as many open “open love-styles” as there are people. Think of it as a LEGO set where you get to build your most ideal open Relationships, by design.
For example, if your driving need is for physical variety and you’re not ready, willing or able to take responsibility for others, then just own that. In this case, you may want to consider the
Swinger Lifestyle and communicate your intentions clearly.
On the flip side, if you’re interested in creating secure polyamorous relationships with multiple people, be sure you do have the ability-to-respond, as you are accepting other people in their entirety. That means accepting the good, bad, and ugly parts. All of them!
Each style on the open relationship spectrum has some general rules and boundaries.
However, what we’ve found is that there is so much cross-pollination between types, that you may as well build your own.
One recommendation is to “dabble” or at least study each type, and this way you can see what combination makes the most sense for you and your partner/s.
For example, you may not be interested in the Swinger Lifestyle or group sex experiences, but you may be in interested in more polysensual group experiences involving Tantra. Perhaps for you the speed of new experiences matters and you need to move slower to build safety in your body.
Or you may struggle with a V formation (where you and your partner date others separately) but you may do much better in something more poly-fidelitous (where you date others together).
You may realize one day how much you cherish your alone time, and that having a primary or “nesting partner” is just not ideal, but you are still seeking deep commitment and security in your relationships. In this case, Solo poly may be the ideal style of polyamorous relationship for you.
We outline 18 different open relationship types, along with their descriptions, pitfalls, and strategies in our Open Relationship Type Guide, which is included in (link) The Secure Poly Collective – 14-day Trial Program.
4. Get the right communication tools, mindsets, and support from expert counselors.
When we first started our journey into polyamorous relationships, we assumed all we needed to do was read the “how to” books and follow the advice to “kill jealousy”. We were so wrong!
What we were desperately missing was a
deeper understanding of the intersection of
trauma healing and ethical non-monogamy.
You see, we thought that two (or more) relatively rational people who communicate well could just talk things out. We didn’t know what we didn’t know about real relationship attainment.
The going was rough at first, but the turning points really came when we started approaching conflicts with a more trauma-informed lens. When we got coaching from experts like polysecure author Jessica Fern, Derek Hart, and KamalaDevi McClure, we realized how critical emotional attainment and co-regulation tools were when it came to conflict resolution in polyamorous relationships.
5. Surround yourself with a supportive and kind poly community
In the beginning, we remember spending so much time (and money we didn’t have) with relationship counselors and therapists who didn’t get what we were doing. Some even insisted we go back to monogamy…or else!
Our monogamous-minded friends and family were not the best at relationship support.
We even lost long-time friends over choosing a polyamorous relationship as our love style!
And getting advice from poly folks online can be sketchy at best, as many are not trauma-informed and their advice can often lead you in the wrong direction.
Even worse, some online poly groups harbored much judgment and shaming of jealousy and other tender feelings. This inspired us to build our own free poly community on Facebook called Leveled Up Love, a polyamory community built on the ethos of kind communication. In our community we strive to honor jealousy as a legitimate emotion, indicating that someone has some unmet needs within their polyamorous relationship, that need tending to.
Our topics focus on attachment, trauma awareness, sacred sexuality, and conscious communication for relationships by design.
6. Focus on the trauma healing journey of each partner.
In the process of trying to make our polyamorous relationship work, we learned how crucial the role of trauma healing was. We went on a crusade to explore many trauma healing modalities, even ones we never heard of before.
These included Bioenergetics, a combination of more somatic physical therapy and less talk therapy.
We explored TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and ended up including both in (link) The Secure Poly Collective – 30 day Trial Program.
We also explored ceremonial plant medicines, making sure to approach such sacred modalities with great reverence and care. We sought trained professionals who focused on safety and integrating the insights from each experience and who were well informed on polyamorous relationships too.
We learned about the importance of moving through the many types of plant medicines in a particular order and how important set and setting were to a safe journey.
Focusing on trauma healing and focusing on all the other strategies described in this post, led us to a holistic approach that took us from what we call “poly panic to poly security”.
7. Learn how to date as a poly person
Open relationships bring with them some unique dating challenges that most new poly folks are just not prepared for. It’s essentially a “catch 22”.
On one hand, you may choose to only date other polyamorous people and come to find that generally, the pool to date is more limited.
You may also try “polyamory” dating sites and find that most of those lean more towards the more swinger lifestyle (more about the sex) and that may or may not be a match for you. Most polyamory folks prefer emotional relationships.
On the other hand, you may choose to date on normal dating sites filled with mostly monogamous folks in order to increase your pool of potential dates. While this does bring in more options, it is also not for the faint of heart. The rejection rate goes through the roof when it comes time to explain you’re into polyamorous relationships.
So learning specific strategies for dating as a polyamorous person, and exploring new poly dating options, can really help you find your matches for multiple 1:1 relationships or even manifest more conscious group experiences.
We found one great option is a dating app called Feeld.
We’ve also created a regular event called The Conscious Poly Relating & Dating Workshop, which is also included in The Secure Poly Collective – 14 day Trial Program.
8. Explore Tantra to deepen all of your connections
Last but not least, we need to be honest about the fact that while love is infinite, time and attention are not. So it’s no wonder that many partners, in polyamorous relationships, find themselves losing connection with some partners as they deepen their connection with others. One strategy to mitigate this is enhancing the quality versus the quantity of time together.
One way we found to really enhance and deepen all romantic connections was to study and practice Tantra. Aside from being a lovely way of slowing life down so you can enjoy it more. Tantra teaches us how to slow down our sexual experiences with practices like breathing, sounding, and eye gazing exercises.
It also teaches us about transmuting sexual energy throughout the body to reach heightened full-body orgasms. Ultimately, these practices can bring us much closer to our partners, and this is especially important in polyamorous relationships.
This is why we recently added Tantra Workshops focusing on Sacred Lingam and Sacred Yoni Massages to our SECURE POLY COLLECTIVE – 14 DAY TRIAL PROGRAM.
How Leveled up Love can guide through these 8 Powerful Steps
Lea Aella & Shai Fishman, are the creators of Leveled Up Love, a private FACEBOOK GROUP with close to 7,000 members, all focused on creating more conscious polyamorous relationships.
After years of building this very active community, Lea & Shai created The SECURE POLY COLLECTIVE – 14 DAY TRIAL PROGRAM, a series of transformative online monthly workshops, to help partners in polyamorous relationships, break free from jealousy, and create more meaningful, loving open relationships.
This IMMERSIVE COACHING PROGRAM specially addresses the 8 strategies outlined above, to help make polyamorous relationships work long term.