I was watching Dr. Phil yesterday and he said that he thinks people should do anything they want to spice up their sex lives, but that they should never bring another person into it. He said every single instance he’s ever seen of people bringing someone else into their relationship results in one or both of the partners feeling uncomfortable about it later on. He said, “it never works. Never.”
I feel that I should stand up and defend polyamory for a moment. Actually, perhaps I should defend common sense first. People go to Dr. Phil when they have problems, not when things are going well. Ergo, if people are having consensual, polyamorous relationships and everything is hunky dory, then it’s working, isn’t it?
What the big problem with polyamory? I think a large part of it is that people in this country tend to be really rather conservative when it comes to sex; especially “taboo” sex. The same can be said about homosexual and bisexual relationships. If what people do in the privacy of their own homes doesn’t effect anyone, why is it any of your business? Why does it matter to anyone else? What right does Dr. Phil, the President, or anyone else have to tell people what they can and can’t do (not that Dr. Phil is saying that people can’t do what they want, just that they shouldn’t). Just because something doesn’t turn you on, doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds, thousands, or millions of people who =are= turned on by it. For example, I don’t like piss-porn. But there are tons of websites out there dedicated to exactly that. Does that make it wrong? No. Unsanitary and probably not a very good idea, but not wrong.
All that having been said, I do agree with the basic message that Dr. Phil is saying. Despite his conviction that couples should never bring another person into the relationship, I agree that, if a couple is having problems in their relationship or problems in their sex life, the answer is =most likely= not to bring a third person in. Also, if no problems exist, bringing a third person in might create them.
The biggest problem is that, because people are afraid to talk about “taboo” sex subjects, they might not fully discuss the implications such an action will have on their relationship (not to mention that most couples have problems communicating anyway).
First, both partners have to be honest. If you’re not telling each other the whole truth, that’s a problem. A lot of people are afraid that if they go against their partner’s wishes, that their partner will cheat on them or leave them (this was definitely a concern for the couple that Dr. Phil was counseling). Honesty is the best policy. Truth best. Period. If you can’t be completely open and honest with your partner, something is wrong. That is, in my mind, the single largest red flag in a relationship. If you can’t be honest with each other, the relationship will always have problems.
Second, you have to trust your partner (red flag subject number two). If you don’t trust your partner, that’s a giant red flag. If you think they don’t trust you, then you don’t trust them and that’s a giant red flag. If they actually tell you that they don’t trust you, that’s a giant red flag. Without trust, you can’t have a normal, functioning relationship and you certainly can’t have multiple-partner sex.
Third, you must communicate (another red flag subject). Quite probably the largest problem that couples face is a lack of communication. If you ever feel like you can’t talk to your partner or you just aren’t getting through (like, your partner isn’t listening to you), then you’re not communicating and the relationship will have problems. If you want to have a polyamorous relationship, it’s going to rely very heavily on communication. A lot of couples run into trouble when one partner (usually the woman, but not always) has their feelings hurt by the suggestion of multiple-partner sex. They wonder what it is about them that’s causing the other person to desire sex with other people. They feel inadequate because they think they aren’t satisfying their partner. They think their partner is no longer attracted to them or has grown bored of them. And while this is true in some relationships, often time the arousal is in sharing that experience. The guy on Dr. Phil kept emphasizing that his fantasy is not to have sex with two women, but to have sex with his wife and another woman.
Fourth, you have to compromise (red flag again). Stop for a moment and be honest with yourself. Be 100% honest and totally selfish. Don’t worry about what your answer means, just be realistic and truthful; you’re not going to hurt anyone here. Think about the person you are currently with; your girlfriend, husband, lover, whatever. Think about their body, their voice, their personality, their sexual style and drive, everything that makes them who they are. Now, can you imagine a more perfect person? I don’t mean, “Oh sure, Sally’s good, but Jennifer is perfect!” No, this more perfect person can’t be based on anyone. They must be a completely fictitious person that embodies everything you’ve wanted in a partner. Now, can you imagine a more perfect person that who you’re with now? Don’t say no, that makes you a liar. Could she stand to lose a little weight? Could he help out around the house a little more? Could she stop nagging you about something? Could he be more romantic? Don’t think about these things in terms of, “Well, knowing him, no, he couldn’t be more romantic.” You’re supposed to be selfish here. Are you guys having as much sex as you wish you were? Do you feel like she’s holding you back? Do you wish he would stop complaining when you’re shopping at the mall? Truth be told, everyone can imagine a more perfect person and you can’t be offended if your partner admits it, because I know you can do it too. Now, before you flame me, think about your partner again. You can =imagine= a more perfect person, but do they exist? Remember what it is about your partner that made you fall in love in the first place. Remember the fun you’ve had together, the romance, the bond that has been created. Just because you can imagine this more perfect person, does that mean that they exist? No, of course not. The odds are really against you with this one because no one is perfect. Does that mean you have to accept flaws? Yes, you must compromise and settle for less than perfect. That doesn’t mean you love them any less. In fact, a lot of people point out flaws as reasons they love someone.
So if you’re already making certain compromises, it won’t hurt you to make a few more, will it? If you talk to your wife and she says she wishes you were more romantic, ask her what her dream date is and surprise her with it. And in the meantime, leave little notes for her in places you know she’ll find when you’re not around. If your husband expresses the desire to have extra-martial sex but you’re not into that, try to find a middle ground. Don’t forget that the mind is more powerful than real life (ever wonder why they don’t show you the monster in scary movies until the end? It’s because your mind makes it scarier on its own). A good middle ground would be to let his mind do the work. Talk dirty while you’re having sex; tell him his fantasy and let him imagine what it would be like.
The biggest thing about the four red flags is that they all work together. You have to communicate to trust, but you have to trust to communicate. You have to be honest when you communicate in order to build that trust. You have to compromise when you communicate and build trust based on honesty.
What Dr. Phil didn’t seem to realise is that there are people out there who make it work because they love one another, they know they love one another (because they communicate) and they understand the reason for the desire to be polyamorous. They know that, at the end of the day, they’ll still love each other and that they have both agreed to live the lifestyle.