The topic of how to get everyone’s needs met in the open relationship lifestyle is always an interesting one.
Some people think that with more people in the mix, there will be more opportunities for everyone to get their needs met. Other people might think that their needs might not matter to the group and they may think their need might not ever get met. Both scenarios are possible.
Here are three simple tools to help people who practice ethical non-monogamy get their needs met.
People often struggle with identifying their needs. As I child, I learned to shut down in the face of challenging situations. In my world, it was not okay to have needs. At least that’s what I thought.
Now, of course, I see things much differently. I have come to understand that I have needs just like anyone else. My needs are just as valid as the needs of my partner and other people, as well. Even though my needs are unique to me, I do believe we all share common needs and desires. And for me, those needs include being loved, being respected, and being considered.
If you’re struggling with identifying what you need, try this:
Take a moment and stop whatever you are doing. Find a comfortable place to be with yourself and breathe. If you’re with someone else, you may want to let them know that you need a minute to check in and see what you need. Give yourself permission to do this. Notice any thoughts, emotions, and sensations whirling around and inside of you. Notice what you notice. And breathe. Allow your body, mind, and emotions to settle. If this is hard for you, continue breathing and just observe. The intention here is to slow down and get present. As you do this, ask yourself “What do I need right now?” Listen for an answer. Maybe it’s a hug. Maybe it’s some intense physical exercise. Maybe it’s a cry. Whatever it is, listen to how this experience informs you and make a note of what you need.
Once you identify your need, it’s time to express it. Keep in mind, how you express your need will greatly influence how the need gets met. For example, if you’re struggling with the fact that your partner has a hot date and you don’t want to stay home alone, you may not want to tell your partner “I need you to cancel your date tonight.” It’s much healthier to have a conversation with your partner and share your experience with them. It may look something like this: “Honey, I know you have a date a tonight and I wish I felt okay about it. In reality, I’m feeling a bit jealous and lost because I don’t want to sit at home alone knowing you’re having a sexy date with someone else. It doesn’t feel good to me. And, if I check in and ask myself what I need, I come up with a desire to do something that is fun and exciting too. I’m not sure what that looks like. Would you be willing to help me brainstorm a few things I might be able to do tonight? I feel weird about asking this of you. And, your support in helping me address this is incredibly helpful. I want us both to have fun tonight.”
Create a plan to get needs met
Once you’ve clearly expressed your need, it’s time to create a plan to get your needs met. It’s a good idea to have alternative ways to get certain needs met. For example, if your partner has a date and you want to be sure you have something to do that night, you might make a list things you could do including people who you’d like to spend time with. It’s good to have some options and to stay open to what naturally falls into place. It may be that you do end up spending the night on your own. If that’s the case, consider what you could do to really enjoy your alone time. And, if you feel like you’d benefit from some emotional support, consider reaching out to a friend for a phone conversation or find another way to connect. Again, setting yourself up for success in meeting your emotional needs without expecting your partner to do it for you, is incredibly empowering. It may feel uncomfortable at first. And, that’s okay. The feeling will come and the feeling will go. Remember, when we find ways to meet our needs in healthy ways, everyone benefits.