In our recently published eBook "A Survival Guide to Leaving Monogamy", we discussed leaving monogamy and taking the first steps to transition into non-monogamy so, naturally, the next topic to address would be how to make sure the relationships you build within this new approach are healthy for you and for all the people involved.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of things that go into creating a healthy relationship—more than could ever fit in a single article—but, in this blog post, we will be discussing two main ones: communication and trust. These are the first ones as they play an important role in creating a solid base for a healthy environment that allows for healthy relationships to blossom and grow.
Communication is often said to be the most important thing in a relationship—which is true. Honest and open communication does a lot for all the relationships in our lives, not just the romantic one and the more people engage in clear communication, the more misunderstandings and unneeded hurt can be avoided. However, while it’s essential to talk things out and to address things, communication shouldn’t just exist for the sake of existing—or because you were told it’s important.
Before we completely lose you here, what I mean is communication should be the mean and not the end goal; the mean by which partners co-create a space that is safe, forgiving, and open to change. That part should be regarded as the end goal.
This safe space, created and maintained by communication, should allow partners to be vulnerable with one another, share what’s on their minds, and express themselves. To do so, it is important to first learn how to listen—not just hear.
Your communication should be about trying to empathize with others, making efforts to understand what they’re saying, suggesting ways that can allow you to understand better, and seeing where they’re coming from and where you stand vis-à-vis that.
The communication channel you’re building should also be about you speaking up for yourself, advocating for your needs and wants, not being a people-pleaser (we see you), and living mask-off with your partners—otherwise, it won’t be any different.
All this should be without the obligation to have everything figured out and with the assurance that it’s OK to change theirs at any point. Relationships, as with everything else in life, are a work in progress and your communication should also reflect that.
Vulnerable communication doesn’t just happen, it takes effort, time, and, most importantly, trust. Of course, we’re not talking about requesting trust without putting any work into it—we all know the phrase “it’s not given, it’s earned”, yeah, that one, it matters here too. Here are some tips to help you build trust in your relationships.
Accept that you are individuals with different pasts, needs, experiences, and approaches. This will affect how you and other people perceive and gain trust. Strive to find common grounds when building trust rather than attempting to create them by forcing change.
As mentioned above, radical honesty is your friend when building trust. Keeping promises and being honest about not keeping them, avoiding telling small lies even with good intentions, informing others of when you change your mind, etc. helps in creating that sweet channel of communication where both you and your partners can speak your minds and change them without fear of being judged.
It’s quite sad that the notion that vulnerability is weakness has long been propagated by societal norms and we are often warned against sharing our vulnerability with other people. Well, it’s time to stop. Celebrate vulnerability by gradually sharing pieces of yourself and your feelings with your partners—believe me, they will appreciate it. It also puts in motion a healthy cycle where it will help create an environment where they feel like they can be vulnerable as well.
Mutual respect in a relationship probably deserves its own dedicated article. Whether that’s respect for others, for the relationships, or self-respect, it’s always a crucial point in building trust. Respect your partners’ boundaries, wishes, and person while also always striving to uphold your own. Knowing that respect is mutual in a relationship, with time, will allow for trust to bloom and will allow you to become each other’s safe spaces.
We cannot stress this enough: set realistic expectations. It's easy to get lost in the made-up world of perfect relationships so it's very important to remember that no relationship is perfect—it's all work in progress that requires flexibility, acceptance, and forgiveness.