It’s not easy to build an unconventional relationship that thrives in the long term. Adding partners also adds a layer of complexity on top of a romantic relationship - which is something that can already be difficult to manage.

A very common misconception is that polyamorous relationships are all about the sex. But the truth is that they require the same basic building blocks of monogamous romantic relationships - and it can actually be the emotional and intimate side that can make or break the arrangement.

As with any other kind of relationship - a successful throuple (or moresome!) doesn’t happen by accident - it requires some careful thought, consistent work and constant communication.

With that in mind, we asked psychosexual therapist, and star of the BBC Three's Sex on the Couch Kate Moyle for her thoughts on increasing the chances of having a successful non-monogamous relationship.

Hey Kate! First up - it seems like more and more people are exploring options outside monogamy. In your practice, have you seen an increase in the number of people opting to exist in a throuple or a non traditional relationship?

Sure. There is definitely an increase in these relationships being discussed, or considered by people and I think more and more we are moving away from a more traditional ‘monogamous’ set up to consider how to be in a relationship in different ways that works for everyone.

We have moved to an understanding that we shouldn’t expect one person to meet all of our needs, and I think that this perspective is also impacting how we consider our relationship models.

That’s an interesting idea. From your perspective, what are some things existing couples can do or talk about to make sure they both feel ready and comfortable to open their relationship up?

I think it’s vital to really explore the idea and educate themselves before trying it out. The fantasy doesn’t always match up to the reality for many sexual and relationship experiences, so it’s also about being prepared for that.

You need to be honest with each other about your feelings from the get go, before you even start a new relationship, as that foundation has to be solid. If one of you isn’t comfortable or happy it will impact the dynamic of the whole relationship.

Also don’t rush into it, take your time, find the right partner and get to know people before making commitments, to find the right fit for you.

Right. Understanding what each person wants and needs from the evolving style of the relationship is clearly really important.
What are the main things to avoid when thinking about inviting someone into your relationship?

Everyone involved has to be on the same page, and there have to be shared rules and agreements in place for things to really work.

Trust and communication are two of the most important aspects of all relationships, and so if these cornerstones aren’t there [in the initial couple], then it may be risky to invite someone new into your intimate space and relationship, as it could really disrupt things.

Understood. What are the main reasons you see for a breakdown in a throuple / poly relationship versus monogamous ones? 

Each instance, person and relationship is different, and of course will have its own unique set of context and circumstances. However, just like in most relationships, break-downs tend to be because of lack of balance, lack of trust, lack of communication or people feeling hurt or rejected.

Our human sensitivities are in some way universal, whatever our relationship structure, but in a poly relationship or throuple there may be more active management of these things needed, as we have more people’s emotional wants and needs involved.

Let’s talk more about the arrangements you’ve seen that are more successful. What do you think the most successful poly relationships have in common?

Two things: organisation and communication. These relationships work best when things are clear, and clarified and there is a lack of ambiguity, for example having shared google-calendars so everyone knows what is happening and when.

What can throuples and moresomes do to really thrive?

It’s vital to create and maintain boundaries that are agreed and work for everyone. Sex and relationships have the duality of being both physical and emotional and psychological, of course there will always be complications and challenges, but how these are managed are the dealbreakers.

Thanks Kate!  Don’t forget to check out our article on how to start opening up your relationship

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