Any lifestyle whether you are in be it an alternative (swinger or poly, gay/lesbian, etc) or a standard relationship has inherent possibilities for serious conflict. The problem lies in the lack of knowledge that all people have different wants and needs. You may be saying “duh but do you really know what your needs are?
Do you know what your partner’s needs are? Have you asked them and really listened? Do you have a romance fetish? If you don’t get taken out to dinner or dancing once a week, are you getting grumpy for no reason? How often do you need alone time? The list of question could go indefinitely so what needs to happen is you need to think about what you need. Not want, but need.
A need is “a something (activity, emotional experience) that has to part of your daily, weekly or monthly schedule. If this “need isn’t being attended to, problems can and frequently do, arise. Remember the divorce rate in the US is over 50%.
Could it be as simple as asking your partner “what do you really need to be happy? Perhaps it is that simple.
I have a coaching client that has a romance fetish. She has lots of friends; I assume she has lots of sex, because she talks about having lots of partners, but she is generally unfulfilled in the romance department. I recommended that she have a conversation with her partner(s) and tell them about this need she has for romance. She has figured out that she needs a couple of emails, 2 phone calls per week, 1 date on the weekend and flowers once a month, in order, to feel like “her needs are being met well enough for her to feel stable. I also told her that she needs to know what her partner needs as well and that his list would be completely different.
Everyone has different needs and beginning the process of “putting them out there can be a little scary, but necessary. I recommend that you write them down in a loose contract format. Something simple that says “partner A needs this and this daily or weekly and partner B needs this and this (if there are additional partners include them in the contract). Start with a one week or one month contract and update and re-negotiate as often as required.
Getting things down on paper will help you clarify what you need and what you think you want. It also helps all parties involved remember what’s been said. And that’s really the hard part is accurately remembering exactly what has been agreed to not “your interpretation, which could be very different. Remember there is no such thing a “bad need, everyone is different. If your partner has a need to that you are unfamiliar with, ask lots of questions get as much information and then GO FOR IT. I usually recommend that you try something at least twice. Do it, once, to have the experience and the second time to decide if you like it.
Occasionally, you are going to experience something that isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or evil or whatever; some things are an acquired taste some things you will learn to tolerate, (like me and shopping) and some thing you won’t ever like but you do anyway because it’s for your partner.
If you do find something that you won’t or can’t do. You might consider helping your partner find someone to go do activity that with. It’s not personal, it’s a need and we all have them and almost nobody is talking about them. Having the maturity to step outside of your comfort zone so someone can get their needs met is a good thing. It will make things easier when you have a need that your partner can’t or is unwilling to meet and your request in help finding “a someone to get that need met. We are all here to learn and grow and evolve. So let’s get started. More later¦
Peace Love Trance,
Dr. Michael Harris, PhD