Posts Tagged ‘sex therapist’

Meet Cyndi Darnell – sex therapist, teacher, lover…

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

This July Max Black will be hosting the charming Cyndi Darnell for three new workshops, put together just for MB. So we thought you might like to know more about this Melbourne-based counsellor, author and educator before tickets to her workshops sell out…

The Counsellor

Cyndi is, first and foremost, a sex therapist and relationship counsellor with clients stretching far beyond her Melbourne abode. With over 20 years experience studying human sexuality here unique perspectives are the result of her very broad range of study – everything from the clinical (her qualifications include a Masters of Health Science) to the esoteric (Sexological Bodywork and Tantra).

Working with couples and individuals Cyndi aims to help clients build a sex-positive lifestyle that is a full expression of our very sensual potential.

I have always been a pleasure enthusiast. For as far back as I can remember, my fascination with pleasure and sexuality has been part of my identity. Having travelled the world extensively in my 20s in the pursuit of self-knowledge and then my 30s exploring more introspective wonders and delights, I have come to embrace the understanding that sexuality and pleasure is not something separate from our lives, but part of our lives as a pathway to genuine wholeness, contentment and wellbeing.

Cyndi Darnell at Max BlackThe Media

Cyndi’s educational and therapeutic skills have been seen and heard across Australia on The Project, ABC Radio National, Triple J, JOY 94.9,  SMH, Cosmopolitan, Time Out and both Australian Women’s & Mens’ Health mags (among other publications).

The extraordinary Catherine Deveny is a huge supporter of her work and together they made a series of free-to-air educational podcasts about sex, pleasure and the human condition.

Cyndi was also the founder and creator of Pleasure Forum Australia , ( spanning 4 years from 2010-2013) an unfunded and independent monthly adult-to-adult sex education program where the emphasis was on pleasure and practical education, not sleaze and clinical theory.

 

The Educator

In addition to the Pleasure Forum, Cyndi has become a sought-after educator in all things sexuality-related. Her Melbourne seminars are always sold out early and Max Black is thrilled to be able to bring Cyndi to Sydney this year.

Her comprehensive and entertaining workshops on adult sexuality, pleasure, anatomy and relationships help to demystify sex and put the emphasis on pleasure (that’s what we love!). She has worked closely with some of the world’s leaders in sex-positivity including a past MB workshop favourite, author and film maker Tristan Taormino.

We love Cydni’s light and effervescent approach to education and her rather wonderful ability to bridge the world of sex from many perspectives. That’s why Max Black is proud to be presenting Cyndi in 3 workshop presentations this July…

 

Click the links above to read more about Cyndi’s new workshops and for details about tickets.

Empowerment, Inspiration and Creativity in sex and all aspects of your life

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

As a counsellor specialising in sexual and relationship issues one would think that I hear all sorts of outrageous stories about my clients’ sexual experiences. And I do. Some would think it’s the dream job; talking about sex all day- what more could I want? And, well, yes it’s true, it is my dream job and I love it. But aside from all of this I also hear endless stories about individuals and couples that are looking for more in aspects of their lives that don’t seem to have anything to do with sex. They don’t just come to sessions wanting to heat things up in the bedroom but they often talk about issues that go much deeper.

 

Believe it or not a lot of the work I do involves the exploration of issues that go right to the core of my clients’ sense of existence on this earth. Deep huh? Yep. And they occur on multiple levels. The first level is clients’ dreams for their romantic relationships such as wanting a richer and deeper sexual connection with their partner, improving intimacy and exploring with their partner. The second level involves deeply personal issues such as the development of self-esteem, self-exploration (in whatever form that may take!), greater consciousness, spirituality, assertiveness skills, the search for happiness and even finding inner peace.  And the third level deals with life skills and challenges such as reaching financial security, finding the dream job, achieving a balanced lifestyle, good health, pursuing studies, hobbies, travel and friendships. It’s a lot to deal with and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all struggled with some, if not all of these issues in our lives.

 

What I’ve found is that for many of my clients (and myself included!) to feel truly empowered, inspired and creative in their sex lives they often need to work on many of the aspects just described.  I’ll give you an example. John presents for counselling with erectile dysfunction. His wife complains that they don’t have sex any more and even when they try he struggles with his erections. Hmmm…seems a simple case of Erectile Dysfunction. But when I dig a little deeper, John reveals that he has been working 60-hour weeks in the same job for 15 years. When asked why he keeps doing it he answers “because, well, what else is there to do?” 6 months ago he was diagnosed with depression and his doctor warned him that if he didn’t change his eating and exercise habits he would become a candidate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. After some time working with John and his wife, he was able to feel strong enough to change his work schedule, invest in his health, make more time for his family and have a healthier, more fulfilling and connected sexual and relationship with his wife. It took some time and lots of dedication, but John is a happier man for it now.

 

We all have room to grow, evolve and become more empowered, inspired and creative. For more information on how check out my new workship ‘Lovin your Loving’.

 

Signing off.

Christina

 

MB Summer Series – Ready To Learn Some New Tricks?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Ever since we ran our first ever workshops with ACON here in Sydney we have had constant requests to present new education events. Well, we listened. We went out there and we found some of the best therapists, authors, health professionals, organisations and individuals to create a whole new series of workshops – and the first two have already been HUGE successes!

We kicked of the Summer Series with Christina Spaccavento, a fabulous local sex therapist and relationship counsellor who came along to present Love & Desire – a workshop designed to help couples learn more about the way love and desire actually work – not just the emotional stuff, but the very physiological changes and reactions that take place. We loved having her here, and there will be much more to come from Christina very soon.

Christina (www.sstherapy.com.au) is known for lots of work already – she can be seen on the Taboo series on National Geographic as on of the sex experts, but her name and wisdom also pop up in lots of publications (Marie Claire, Body & Soul) and even on SBS radio! So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of her next workshop here at MB – in fact, tickets are already on sale, but you’ll have to go to www.maxxxblack.com to get more details for now.

We also should shout to Alan Patriarca from InTouch Massage in Camperdown. Alan is widely regarded as a soft tissue specialist because his 27 (yes twenty seven!) years of professional health-care experience in multiple modalities has crafted a man of incredible care, passion and knowledge of the human body.

He was here just a couple of weeks ago with his new workshop The Power of Touch. Designed to help us understand more about the importance of touch on an everyday basis, this workshop was not only entertaining, it really opened our eyes up to how much touch can change our relationships – and not just the intimate relationships we have either.

He finished off with a fantastic one hour tutorial on massage techniques that participants are getting LOTS of use with. Sometimes knowing just a little bit more about something can totally change the way you approach it, and Alan was absolutely inspiring.

Coming up at MB we’ve got LOTS of new workshops planned. In October there will be Christina’s next workshop, and just after that we’ll be announcing workshops from The Today Show’s Nikki Goldstein and celebrated author Stacey DeMarco (‘Witch in the Bedroom’ and “the No Excuses Guide To Soul Mates”).

So, are you ready to learn something? Let us know if there’s a workshop topic you’d like to see us cover in future!

 

Three Good Reasons To Read Erotica

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Available as a podcast: download here!

I’ve been doing a lot of media interviews lately where the topic of erotic literature comes up, due to the current success of Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m asked whether it’s good for people’s sex lives.

Absolutely! I reply.

This is for three reasons:

1. Turn Yourself On

Erotica is sexy, so reading it is a good way to get in the mood for sex. Whether you read it leading up to a delightful session of solo play, or perhaps in the bath before meeting your partner in your boudoir for some partnered love-making, it’s an excellent way to start warming yourself up.

2. Know Your Eroticism

What turns you on is a personal thing, we all like different things and there are no should or shouldn’ts when it comes to what you like (as long as it’s between consenting living adult humans). By reading erotica, especially short stories, you can discover what elements of eroticism do it for you. Some stories you’ll read and think: “Oh yes, I like that!” so you might want to explore that eroticism; others will be: “Oh no, that leaves me cold/turns me off” so you know you’re not interested in exploring that eroticism; and some will be: “Ooh, I’m not sure if I like that or not…” in which case it could be worth exploring, if you’re brave enough!

3. Spice Up Your Sex Play

Reading erotica aloud to each other is very sexy and can be part of your beforeplay – or turn it into a game where you try to distract the reader, as part of your foreplay…

More importantly, reading erotica alone or together will give you insights into what you and your partner like. Then you can experiment with adding elements to your own sex play. The stories might be more extreme than you necessarily would be comfortable with, so ask yourself how you could add milder elements to your own life. If, for example, you liked the voyeuristic elements of a story about a couple being watched while they have sex, perhaps you could have sex by an open window or on a balcony. If a story about bondage turns you on, you can always play with stockings and scarves from your own cupboard for a less scary experience, or purchase feathered handcuffs or silken rope for a sensual bondage experience.

You could explore this further by writing some erotica together: you write a paragraph, then your partner writes the next, then you the next, and so on… See what interesting places that takes you to!

There’s plenty of very good erotica around these days. Good book stores have an erotica section. Some adult shops sell erotica – Maxxx Black has a particularly fine range.

Just on the topic of erotica, I pen a pretty good story myself, and am putting the finishing touches to my next book on Female Sexual Archetypes. It contains 44 erotic vignettes to illustrate the concepts, and will be the world’s first book in the brand new genre of Therapeutic Erotica. I’m very excited about this!

That’ll be a fourth reason to read erotica!

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Jacqueline is available for private sessions. Book in with her for private sessions or attend Tantra Fusion Workshops to explore your eroticism.

Christina Spaccavento: Keeping It Together

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

This week we welcome Christina Spaccavento to the MB Blog – Christina is a wonderful sex therapist and relationship counsellor, and her articles will bring new insights into marriage, relationships and sexuality.

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Marriage is becoming increasingly celebrated in Australia, so this would imply that there are many couples who are happy in their relationships. There is however still a relatively high divorce rate. So what is happening? This article addresses issues pertaining to marriage, limerence and relationships.

Keeping it Together

In 2009 the Australian Bureau of Statistics registered almost 50 000 divorces in Australia. That’s a lot of failed marriages for a country with a relatively small population. In fact Australia is ranked seventh place in the world for countries with the highest divorce rates. The United States comes in at first place (that’s no big surpise) followed by Puerto Rico, Russia, United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand. So is it really a game of chance? Or is there more to being a couple than initially meets the eye?

I see it again and again in my clinical practice. Dissatisfied lovers, who twelve to eighteen months after tying the knot watch in horror as it all fizzles down to mundane routine and ultimate relationship unhappiness.

I have often asked myself what the cause could possibly be. As a relationship counsellor, the first explanation that comes to mind is the idea of ‘limerence’. For those of you who are not familiar with this notion, ‘limerence’ is a term that was coined by Dr. Dororthy Tennov, an American Psychologist who attempted to describe the enigmatic state of being in love. Many of us have experienced those feelings of intense, almost obsessive and often painful romantic desire for another human. And you may have noticed that these sensations are usually experienced at the beginning of a relationship. A classic example is the call “just to say hi” that never ends because you don’t want to hang up on you lover. And then, as time goes on things tend to peter out . This is the state of limerence coming and going.

So how does it all start to come undone? We all know the amount of time, energy and money that goes into the preparation of a wedding. Retailers exploit the limerent phase to sell products ranging from wedding dresses to kitchen pans. But after it is all over, what skills have couples actually learnt towards maintaining the life-long commitment they have just signed up for? The stressful period before the big day can even bring to the forefront many issues that are affecting couples, but I am often left wondering how many of those hopefuls actually seek help before it is too late when there is such good help available.

Sex therapists can help rekindle and maintain that flame of love and interest in the lifelong union of marriage.

First of all, we need to be pragmatic in our expectations of our relationships. We need to realise that it is unrealistic and unfair to expect to feel the same euphoria that was experienced in the first three months of meeting our mate. If a relationship is to last it requires a lot more foundation than is often laid in the limerent phase. Here are some tips:

Be friends with your partner

Friendship is important in any relationship, so it’s important to nurture it.  Think about the activities that you enjoy doing with your partner, whether it be spending a quiet dinner just the two of you, going to concerts or performances, or walking along the beach. The time you spend doing things together helps to build a strong relationship foundation.

Communication

In my clinical experience what I find is the longer couples stay together, the more they start to think that they are mind readers. It is always good idea to make sure you fully understand what your partner is saying, or not saying and not just assume you know.

Check that you are both heading where you want to in the relationship

We all agree that people change over time. Yet in a relationships clients often express their bewilderment at changes in their partner. They say to me “she said she never wanted…..and now he wants…” Well I’ve got news for those who find themselves in this bind; we all change. It’s important to check in with each other regularly to make sure you’re both heading in the right direction.

Share the Workload

So now you’re a team. Making a a fair contribution of time and resources to the relationship will help build a strong foundation that leads to relationship resilience.

Keep things special

There is nothing cheesy about organising a weekly romantic date with your partner to keep the passion alive. Making a conscious effort to dedicate time and energy to your relationship will bring lasting rewards.

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There is no one concrete formula on how to ensure long term relationship bliss. What we can do, however is learn ways to stay positively connnected to our partner in order to build and maintain a strong union.

The Sex Coach: The Art & Craft of Mindful Loving

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I gave a talk on this topic at WakeUp! Sydney’s Time for Renewal Conference last weekend. It was great! What fantastic people in the audience – and how wonderful to watch 100 or so people wandering around the room greeting each other with their genitals (clad of course)! It made me realise that this is what I do – teach, coach and inspire around the Art and Craft of Mindful Sex!

That’s quite a biggie for me, as I often have trouble explaining what I do. In a predominantly sex-negative society where sex is either considered ribald or shameful (or both), it’s quite hard to explain that you work in the sex-positive field.
The term Tantra is good, but it’s also hundreds of years old and so not completely relevant to modern urban Australians. What is Tantra anyway?

Essentially it’s mindful sex. Or to be a little broader: mindful loving. Loving with presence and focus, fully engaged physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Mindful sex means that:

  • your monkey chatter mind is stilled, so your brain can focus creatively and connectedly;
  • your body has heightened awareness, fully using each of its five senses, so there is great feeling throughout the whole body;
  • you’re focused on the whole body, and even beyond the body, not just the genitals;
  • there is a palpable energetic flow within you and between you, you feel connected;
  • your sexual play flows in peaks and valleys, from intensity to subtlety and everywhere in between;
  • you communicate verbally and physically with ease and understanding;
  • you feel both deep and light: deep in feeling and light in freedom;
  • orgasms may or may not happen, it’s the pleasure of the process not specific outcomes that matter;
  • the encounter leaves you feeling recharged and reinvigorated;
  • you find that the whole of life improves, you are healthier, more vital and feel a positive joyful outlook on life.

With mindfulness a quick snuggle under the covers can be as profound as hours of play on a weekend away. It’s about what’s happening in the moment. A mindful moment can be an eternity.

Mindfulness is a challenge to modern urban types whose lives rush by at a million miles an hour. So if you can learn to incorporate it into your loving and love-making, not only will the experience of sex be oh so much better, you’ll become more mindful in the rest of life

Jacqueline Hellyer: Your Great Sex Project

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I wrote recently about the importance of prioritising sex. Now that the new year is here, let’s consider this more carefully. What does it take to prioritise sex? Can I suggest you commit to a Year of Great Sex! Let’s call it the ‘Your Great Sex’ Project. Whether you’re single or partnered, we can all focus on our love life and on our love of life. They are interconnected. Sex is about self and about true expression of self. The process of improving your sex life is intimately connected to improving your relationship with the whole of life, primarily as it makes you know yourself better and express yourself better.

The Great Sex Project for Couples:

I wrote a blog post last month on the topic of Consensual Non-Monotony. It’s a play on words as I’d written one the week before on Consensual Non-Monogamy. The latter was on how to have a successful non-monogamous relationship, but since most people would like to be monogamous, the trick is to overcome the biggest problem with long-term monogamous relationships – monotony. Hence the term Consensual Non-Monotony. The point here is it’s got to be consensual, that is, you both have to agree to be non-monotonous, you both have to agree to do what it takes to have an on-going great sex life. Make it a project! Why not? You have renovation projects together, holiday projects together, get healthier projects together, so why not add to it a better sex project.

If you don’t, there probably won’t be much improvement, in fact, the monotony could continue on and on and on and on and on… How many more years till you die…?

There are three stages to this project:
1) Know what you want
2) Communicate what you want
3) Make it happen

The first is about understanding your eroticism – what you like and don’t like, where and how and when. This is important. A number of my blog posts will help you with this, in particular Expanding Your Sexual Play Pt.1: What.

The second stage is the most important – you have to be able to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about sex. This isn’t easy, particularly for many women (who tend to be great at communciating in all other areas of life!). However, I’ve noticed in my work with couples that one of the benefits of therapy is that people get used to talking about sex with each other. Once they get to that point, the miracles start happening… For help on your own, read my blog post Expanding Your Sexual Play Pt.2: How, which covers communication.

The third stage is obvious, but not necessarily easy. There’s no point just talking about it, you have to make it happen. This will involve ditching myths and making lifestyle changes. My last blog was on the topic of ditching myths, read it here. And for help on the lifestyle changes, read my blog post Love in the Time of Chaos, or my book Sex Secrets for Busy People.

And then the cycle repeats, because what you want and how you feel is constantly changing, so you need to constantly reevaluate, communicate and change. Forever.

The Great Sex Project for Singles:

It’s the same for singles. You make the commitment to better sex, and then go through the same stages:

1) Get clear about what you like.
2) Be open about communicating this with new love interests.
3) Make the changes you need to be able to do this.

If you need any therapy or coaching to help you on the way, well, you know where to find me!

Jacqueline Hellyer: Sex as Entree, Not Dessert

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

We tend to get into habits with sex, and one habit that is so widespread is having sex last thing at night.

Why is that? It’s the time when most people are the most tired and the least likely to want or enjoy !sex!

One thing I encourage people to do is to think outside the square in all aspects of sex, and one of those is the timing.

Sex doesn’t have to be the last thing you do at night, it doesn’t even have to be in the evening. Having sex before dinner can be great! Think of it as entrée, rather than the traditional dessert.

Of course that doesn’t suit everyone’s routines, but you might be surprised at how flexible your timing can be. I remember when my third child was a baby and for a while there I was just way too tired to manage sex in the evenings (and I’ve never been a morning person, unless it’s a long lazy Sunday lie-in) so my then husband and I decided that the only way we were going to have sex was if he came home for ‘lunch’ on Tuesdays. That worked really well and got us through a pretty exhausting phase of life.

Quite a number of my clients find that changing the time they have sex makes a big difference. For those without kids in the house, the sex before dinner concept is very possible and very desirable. For those who can’t manage it that early, at least doing it as early as possible, generally in place of the TV veg-out session (watching three hours of gruesome cop shows is generally not a good warm-up for sex!). You can always get up and do other things after you make love. You don’t have to go to sleep after sex. You certainly don’t both have to go to sleep after sex, the tired one can drift off and the other can get up and do stuff.

There are no set rules around sex, particularly the timing. Have a good talk with your partner and figure out when the best times are for you.

Sex doesn’t have to be the after dinner ‘dessert’. Too often it’s so late and so unappealing it becomes a habitual late night snack that doesn’t satisfy anyone particularly, if you can even be bothered. So try it for entrée, try it for lunch, try it for a morning pick-me-up, try it for a lazy Sunday breakfast in bed (the kids love watching cartoons then…).

Jacqueline Hellyer: Ditch The Myths

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

There are many aspects to moving forward sexually, one of the key ones is to ditch all the myths that plague us.

Our society is full of myths about sex. It’s because we don’t talk openly about the details of sex and because there have been so many moral issues associated with sex for so long that so many beliefs are taken for truth.

I’ve discussed three of these in recent posts:

  • Men have not evolved to ‘sow their seed widely’ and therefore are not necessarily ‘naturally’ non-monogamous
  • Women are not ‘naturally’ monogamous
  • Monogamy is not necessarily ‘naturally’ innate to humans

These can be challenging beliefs to let go of, but until you do, you’re hampering yourself unnecessarily. If you buy into a belief then you’ll think there’s something wrong or bad about being a certain way, you’ll be judgemental about yourself and others. Judgement is the biggest impediment to growth in any area, including sexual.

Which doesn’t mean that you have to be or act a certain way. I’m certainly not saying for instance that we shouldn’t be monogamous, monogamy is a very good thing. But it’s not the only way of relating sexually, it’s not the only ‘right’ way of relating, and if you’re constrained by a belief that it is, then you’re limited. If you accept that monogamy is a choice rather than an innate state, then that frees you up enormously. You’ll ditch all the negativity that surrounds the beliefs and the ‘shoulds’ and allow yourself to be honest with yourself about what is really right for you sexually. That freedom and honestly will also enable you to be free and honest in your communication with your sexual partner(s).

It’s not just about big things like monogamy though. I find that people often hinder themselves with small beliefs, such as:

  • sex has to be last thing at night
  • you can’t have sex if the children are still awake
  • you can’t have sex when your parents/guests are staying
  • having regular ‘nooky nights’ is unspontaneous and therefore bad.

Then there are age related myths such as:

  • sex naturally gets worse as you get older
  • people reach their sexual peak in their 20s (they reach their reproductive peak then, not sexual)
  • women dry up and become unsexual after menopause
  • men only like young women
  • your sexual partner should only be a few years older or younger than you
  • women with younger partners are ‘cougars’ and somehow ‘bad’

There are plenty of myths around homosexuality vs heterosexuality (even if we’ve let of the big one that homosexuality is unnatural and wrong):

  • if you’re primarily heterosexual you shouldn’t find people of the same sex in any way sexually appealing
  • you’re either completely homosexual or completely heterosexual
  • women are more naturally bisexual than men
  • men who cross-dress must be gay

There are countless myths about male versus female sex roles, too many to go into here, but here are a few:

  • men are gagging for sex all the time
  • men want to have sex to get off, rather than to pleasure their partner
  • men don’t like foreplay or sensual sex, they’re only interested in the ‘main event’
  • women should have obligation sex with their partner or he’ll lose interest in them
  • men should initiate and lead the way sexually
  • there’s something wrong with a woman if she has a low libido
  • you need a hard erection for good sex
  • you need a penis for good sex

Then there are all those myths about what you should or shouldn’t do sexually. To quote from my book ‘Sex Secrets for Busy People’:

“If you think oral sex, anal sex, sex toys, erotic videos,
crotchless knickers, latex catsuits, bondage, swinging, pain and
pleasure or any other activity is wrong, evil, immoral and takes you straight to hell, well, it’s time to loosen up and push those boundaries a little.”

[Note: There are laws around sexual activity, for good reason, fortunately these days they are less based on morality and more on protection of innocents. So as long as it’s between consenting, living, adult, humans, then it’s your personal choice.]

Human sexuality is a wonderful thing, with so many possibilities, and so much potential for self-expression, self-knowledge and personal growth, not to mention bonding, pleasure, stress relief, well-being, better physical and mental health, and plain old fun!

To be able to make the most of your sexuality, start by ditching the myths that hold you back.

Jaqueline Hellyer: Consensual Non-Monogamy

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I’ve been writing in the past few posts about how humans are not necessarily naturally monogamous, and that’s it’s a social norm rather than a biological imperative.

It’s a very strong social norm, and anyone who goes against that norm risks pretty severe social disapproval, particularly if it’s done in a deceitful way. Unfortunately most non-monogamy is deceitful, one party has an affair, or several, and when the other finds out it can be ruinous for the relationship. I am completely against non-consensual non-monogamy, ie cheating on your partner.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other though, monogamy or cheating. If monogamy works for you, great, if not, there are more options than being unfaithful to your partner in a deceitful way.

It is possible to be non-monogamous – with consent. That’s the difference, it has to be consensual. When a couple both agree to be non-monogamous and continually assess the situation and their own rules and boundaries, then it can be a successful approach to living and loving.

I do want to stress though, that in this society it’s not easy to be non-monogamous, and I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone should be. However, it does work for some people. I often work with couples (and triads) exploring non-monogamy and help them decide if it is for them and if so how to go about it safely and respectfully.

Whether it’s something you’re considering for yourselves, or if you’re just curious about possibilities, here is a description of different approaches to consensual non-monogamy.

Polyamory

This is where a person has more than one committed relationship going on at the same time. The founding belief is that you can love more than one person at a time and you can have a committed loving on-going sexual relationship with more than one person at a time.

In this situation you generally don’t have a primary ‘couple’ as such, although it can be that two people are married and one or both of them also has one or more other committed relationships. (You can imagine that polyamorous ‘families’, as they’re often termed, can get quite complex in structure!) These types of relationship structures can be quite fluid and organic as partners grow and change.

Swinging

This is where a committed couple have sex with other people at the same time. They do not have sex with other people on their own or without their partner being present.

Each couple will have their own rules about what they agree to do. Generally the options are;

– play with other people, but no intercourse or no genital interaction;
– play with other women only;
– play with other men only;
– one plays while the other watches;
– only play with other couples;
– watch other people but only have sex with themselves;
– play freely within a certain situation such as at a swingers party or swingers club.

It’s important that a couple who get into swinging continually check in on each other to make sure both are comfortable with what’s going on and take it slowly.

Open Relationship

This is where a couple agree that one or both of them can have sex with other people. They remain the primary couple at all times and each is the primary partner to the other. Any other sexual interactions are secondary and the primary relationship takes precedence.

Each couple will have their own rules around how this is possible, such as:
– only when you’re out of town;
– not with friends;
– only with people of a certain sex;
– tell all;
– tell bits;
– don’t tell all;
– ask me first;
– only once a year (or some other timeframe).

The key thing to successful non-monogamous relationships is that it is done:
– respectfully
– safely
– with continuous communication
– with continual openness to renegotiate.

When done like this, non-monogamy can offer a broader, more satisfying approach to relating than the serial monogamy approach to relationships that are the norm in this society. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we are all on a continuum of monogamy, with some of us completely monogamous and some of us completely non-monogamous and most of us somewhere in-between.

If you choose the standard monogamy option, that tends to be easier as the ‘rules’ are established by society rather than the couple (although even then most couples will have to set their own rules around levels of acceptable interaction and friendships with people of the opposite sex). If you choose non-monogamy then you have to set your own rules, and that means complete honesty and excellent communication, plus a willingness to experiment, make mistakes and continually reassess and evolve.

It’s not for everyone, but it can and does work.  And one thing’s for sure, the standard dual options of pure monogamy or deceitful infidelity is not the answer.

If you’re interested in finding out more I recommend the excellent book The Ethical Slut by Easton & Liszt.

IMPORTANT NOTES :

However, it’s not for everyone, most people prefer to be at least primarily, if not exclusively, monogamous.

For that to work you need consensual non-monotony.

Yes, it’s a play on words, but it’s also an extremely important point. A couple can only have good on-going sex if they both agree to make it good. As I’ve stressed so often, good sex doesn’t just ‘happen’, you have to work at it, and you both have to work at it as a joint project. Otherwise you get complacency and dreariness.

You both need to agree to ditch the monotony!

This is the most common client type I deal with, couples who want to improve the quality of their sex life. While a small proportion are open to considering non-monogamy, most want to improve things between themselves alone.

The key to success at consensual non-monotony is openness with each other – honest, real communication. That’s what is required to be able to discuss and explore and examine and refine.

This level of openness with each other is only possible if you have complete respect for each other, for yourself and for them. If you feel you are being judged by your partner, or by yourself, then you will hold yourself back and not be completely open.

It’s really hard to be this open with your partner! It’s hard to be so trusting and so non-judgemental. It takes practice. I know from working with couples, that once they get to this level of open communication that the miracles start happening. I love that point! It’s what makes my work so worthwhile.

There’s plenty of advice in these posts to help you do it for yourselves.

So consent to non-monotony – and make it happen!