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How an Alternative Lifestyle Can Build Trust and Intimacy

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Three people in an alternative lifestyle walk arm-in-arm

Being honest about your fantasies can lead to greater intimacy and trust

Key takeaways:

  • Most people have sexual fantasies but may be afraid to share them with their partner

  • Sharing leads to greater closeness and trust

  • Polyamory and BDSM are well-known alternative lifestyles that have benefits

  • Couples should strongly consider therapy before engaging in an alternative lifestyle

Long-term relationships will always experience highs and lows and couples’ sex lives might follow the same ebb and flow. If you’re feeling disconnected from your partner, you might want to consider spicing things up in the bedroom.

Most people have sexual fantasies but they’re often afraid to share them with their partners. They might be afraid they’ll be judged or that their partner will be offended in some way. But, sharing your fantasies with your partner – and even ultimately acting on them – can help you establish an even deeper level of intimacy.

For example, one partner might be interested in polyamory or BDSM. Or, maybe the key to spicing up your sex life is as simple as changing your routine, wearing provocative clothing, or trying creative positions. Whatever you and your partner are into, exploring sexual fantasies together can be a great way to deepen your connection.

You might think sharing alternative lifestyle fantasies puts you in a vulnerable position, but it could be just the thing to spice up your relationship and deepen your connection with your partner. We discuss how trying an alternative lifestyle with your partner can deepen intimacy and trust and why seeing a therapist before or during this change is very important to make sure you’re both ready.

Alternative lifestyles

Polyamory is when an individual chooses to be physically or emotionally intimate with more than one person at a time. Sometimes, couples decide to date other people while remaining together or engage in casual sex with others while still maintaining their primary relationship. Couples may choose to switch partners to satisfy their sexual, mental, or emotional needs or to feel more connected to others. Non-monogamous lifestyles may also be referred to as swinging or “open relationships.”

BDSM refers to “a variety of sexual practices that involve bondage, dominance, and submission/sadomasochism.” This might include things like hair pulling, spanking, blindfolds, role play, or wax play. BDSM generally involves power dynamics: one partner is usually dominant while the other is submissive. Couples may switch up who is dominant and who is submissive or each partner may find themselves drawn towards one role over the other.

If you’ve been curious about polyamory or BDSM, sharing your thoughts with your partner can be a doorway to exploring an alternative sexual lifestyle. It’s important to start with an honest discussion of each person’s sexual desires and needs. Communicating your wants is key but so is listening to the other person. Share what turns you on and invite your partner to do the same.

Deeper intimacy

Exploring sexual and alternative lifestyle desires with your partner can strengthen your bond. Through a discussion of your needs (not only sexual) and fantasies, you might learn more about your partner and also about yourself. It might surprise you to hear that your partner shares some of your fantasies or that she/he is open to spicing it up in the bedroom in ways that feel comfortable for both of you.

Couples who engage in BDSM, for example, may feel more connected with their partner and more secure in the relationship. Trying new things with your partner – both inside and outside the bedroom – increases intimacy and feel-good chemicals like dopamine.

While it may seem counterintuitive, polyamory can also bring couples closer. Having multiple intimate connections allows individuals to spread their sexual and emotional needs around rather than depending on one person to fulfill all of their needs. When partners are able to get their full range of needs met, it can be very beneficial for everyone involved. Polyamory might also help build a sense of community, which can lead to greater fulfillment in one’s daily life and a greater connectedness between partners and other family members.

The importance of couple’s therapy

There can be many benefits to engaging in alternative sexual lifestyles but even so, couples should not enter into them lightly. It’s crucial to discuss everyone’s comfort level and make sure both parties are on the same page before engaging in any emotional/sexual activity.

Couples should strongly consider therapy before exploring an alternative lifestyle. Despite the potential benefits, the idea of BDSM or polyamory can bring up complicated feelings for some people. One partner might feel jealous or possessive or one or both people may feel fear or intimidation at the thought of exploring sexual fantasies. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and work through them as a couple, preferably with a therapist as a guide.

Even when both partners are open and willing to explore alternative lifestyles, they are not without their challenges. Polyamory can make it difficult to navigate social situations or to explain family dynamics. With BDSM, there’s always the risk that one partner goes too far and causes the other to feel unsafe. A responsible couples’ therapist can help you work through myriad situations and feelings that may arise as a result of expanding your sexual horizons.

No matter what path you and your partner choose, it’s important to stay open and honest and respect each other’s boundaries. This will build a strong foundation upon which you can explore and deepen your sexual intimacy. If you are interested in exploring alternative lifestyles, our trained therapists at the Love Discovery Institute can guide you and your partner while building trust in a safe space. Contact us today.

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