Common Issues in Therapy for Open Relationship Styles

There are specific challenges for those who are in open relationships, who are polyamorous, or who swing. Sometimes these challenges bring clients into therapy. In this video, I discuss the issues that may bring people into therapy. Boundaries, relationship conflict, and considerations are all discussed in this video.

Hi, I am Michael Salas from Vantage Point Counseling Services. Today what I wanted to do is take some time to talk about open relationships, and open relationship styles, and some of the common things that I see from people who are coming into therapy, who are in open relationships.

When one person is struggling to communicate with other people, or the other person in the relationship, this can really lead to lot of issues, because a lot of times there are assumptions that are being made up that the other person should respect boundaries that they’re not totally clear on. It can appear that the other people in the relationship just don’t want to be clear on those boundaries. When in fact they are legitimately unclear about what they are, and the importance of them. And the importance is something that’s actually very important. When others don’t know why the boundaries are even important, they tend not to listen to them. They tend to invalidate them, and they tend to just kind of do what they want to do anyway. So this obviously leads to a lot of issues, which kind of segways into another common issue in these types of relationships. Which is trust.

More open relationship styles have to have a lot of trust involved. There has to be an open dialogue, but there has to be trust that that dialogue matters to the other people involved. So really being able to openly discuss and trust that, number one: The other person is going to be willing to hear what you have to say about it. But also willing to stand with a negotiation, and hold to it, which you have about those boundaries.

Boundaries are also a personal issue. This is something that I see therapy therapy a lot as well. Where a person kind of stumbles into a more open relationship style. They might stumble into it because they just think that the person is going to want to date, or want to have sex relationships with other people anyway. This leads to a lot of problems though, because when we don’t hold to our own personal boundaries, and communicate them with somebody else, we tend to harbor a lot of resentment. So this is something that is extremely critical to communicate, open up about, and personally identify. That personal identification tends to be a really critical part of the therapy I offer. [For] these relationships that are really struggling in a more open style.

Now I also see people who are interested in opening up their relationship, but they’re not really sure that they want to do it, what steps they should take to prevent a lot of the issues that I’m talking about in this first part. So that’s another reason that a lot of people come into therapy. They are trying to figure out if this is something that could be workable for them, but they are struggling sexually with each other. And there’s a lot of frustration, so they feel like opening up their relationship could help with some of the frustration.

This can be true for some people, however there needs to be a lot of caution before proceeding to that step. Some couples will seek opening up their relationship, however their expectations are kind of unrealistic. They might actually be dealing with other relationship problems that they’re not identifying. They are using the “opening up” of their relationship as a way to overcome other issues. A big problem with that is that they don’t end up dialoguing about those issues. So those issues don’t go away just because the couple starts opening up the relationship, or the couples starts to be more open, or the couple starts to introduce other people in their relationship. Or they start to have relationships with other people.

It’s important to note that open relationships aren’t for everyone. If you’re thinking of entering into that arena, it’s important for you to know your own motivation and your own boundaries. And to become very real and authentic about what it is that you’re wanting out of that. This will help you to communicate more openly, and to really identify what it is that you’re looking for and why. In that negotiation process with your partner or partners, this will help you to prevent from problems from occurring that really are avoidable, if open communication is the focus.

Thank you for taking the time, and I hope this helps if this is something that you are considering. And if there’s any way I can help, please feel free to visit us at or e-mail me. Thank you so much.