Choose Your Own Adventure: Relationship Styles and Spiritual Growth

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

According to many of my peers, I’m a monogamous weirdo.

In some circles, there are so many relationship styles that an exclusive, for-life monogamous relationship raises eyebrows. Overall, this is a huge victory.

Progressive movements such as women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, etc. challenge concepts like “marriage” and “family” while fighting for everyone’s right to live and love as they choose.

Not only does challenging the norms lead to a valuable reevaluation of the traditions handed down to us, it spawns (relative) acceptance of many different relationship styles. This allows for countless arrangements of hearts and souls beyond one-on-one forever. But, as with everything, there’s a downside,

Sometimes, all this exploration and reinterpretation can lead to a “my style is better than your style” type argument. Monogamists judge open relationships as a farce, polyamorists judge monogamists as prudes, conscious singles look down on any type of commitment, etc. However, I think this is just silly.

Like nature’s ecosystems, each of us needs a different type of romantic/sexual/emotional environment to flourish. Some of us are like desert plants that become their best with just the occasional watering of a fuck-buddy or a one-night stand. Others are rainforest plants that need a deluge of love and connection on a daily basis to thrive. Many are somewhere in between.

We’re all different so it makes sense that we all may need a slightly different type of relationship to become our best selves. Through trial and error I discovered that a loyal, exclusive flavor of monogamy gives me the emotional safety I need to blossom. But some of my dearest friends absolutely require the freedom of an “always single, sometimes have a fuck-buddy” type arrangement.

Though some will argue that one type of relationship (open relationship, polyamory, etc.) is better than another for a laundry list of reasons, ultimately it is a matter of determining what kind of relationship will allow you to grow and deeply thrive.

An individual who only has eyes for one other person in the whole world will not be served by an open relationship. Someone who easily loves many people at the same time (and might be happiest in a polyamorous relationship) will ultimately not be served by “working hard” to make a monogamous marriage work.

This goes beyond “do what floats your boat.” Your sexual/romantic relationships are foundational to your growth and thriving as a human being so it’s especially important to find what works for you in this area. Relationships, whether they last one night or several lifetimes, are some of our biggest teachers and healers. If your emotional foundation isn’t in alignment with your soul, nothing else can grow.

If you’re in a relationship that isn’t compatible with your intrinsic needs, all your energy will go into making whatever arrangement you have “work.” Instead of furthering your soul’s evolution, you’ll be scrambling just to keep the status quo by patching up arguments, trying to not be jealous, finding yet another date for your upcoming party, etc.

Not sure what style works best for you? If you live in a deeply monogamous world you may not be aware of all of the arrangements possible and their potential benefits and challenges. Though these are painfully brief summaries of just a handful of possible arrangements, here are a few of the life lessons and experiences each style can give.

Consciously Single

No relationship ever? Great! You’ll get an unspeakable range of sexual experiences and adventures. Your emotional needs will be met by yourself, close friends, and family. This frees you up to enjoy some of the more wild lovers out there without putting your heart on the line. With all of the crazy adventures and experiences you’ll have, your capacity for self-love, boundaries, and communication will be AMAZING. It might get lonely at times, but you’ll always have epic stories to tell.

Monogamy

What you miss in breadth of experience you gain in depth of intimacy. Each one of us is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the Universe. With monogamy, you are challenged to see the diversity of the entire universe in the eyes of just one other human being. As the years pass you get to witness the gorgeous transformation of a single soul. Just when you think you know them, they’ll always be able to surprise you. With its emphasis on loyalty, you’ll get a deep emotional safety that is ideal for healing deep, old wounds. Especially after going through life’s challenges together, the intimacy created is incredible.

Open Relationship

A happy compromise between consciously single and monogamy, you get the benefits of both. You get to continue exploring the world, growing, and tasting the flavors of humanity with your lovers and the steady companionship and depth of your steady partner. This style keeps the fire alive! Your adventures with your lover/s will bring freshness and vitality to your steady partner, and your steady partner will bring stability and emotional independence to your lover/s. Fire needs air and this relationship style, when in alignment for both partners, will always bring sparks.

Polyamory

Here you get to explore something truly unique: an intimate exploration of the emotional landscape created by two or more people other than you. With this dynamic relationship model, you not only get to fall in love again and again, but you get to fall in love with how your lovers fall in love with each other. You get to be part of a beautiful organism that changes, fluctuates, and grows. In addition, you aren’t forced to choose between different genders or flavors of human. If you are attracted to both the “strong, silent type” and “the life of the party” you get both! Yes, this relationship style requires more work because you have multiple relationships to keep healthy, but you get out what you put in.

There are many shades of grey between these (having threesomes with your monogamous partner and a guest, being single but having a go-to fuck buddy for years, having a “primary” in a polyamorous relationship, and many more.)

Rather than one particular style being ideal or what we are culturally programmed for or evolutionarily designed for, each relationship style is a different flavor of loving. They are all equal and they are all beautiful, it’s simply a matter of which color is what your soul requires to learn and grow.

And one style doesn’t have to be it for life. Humans are fluid. Just because you enjoy one style in one phase of your life doesn’t mean that your needs will change as you age and grow.

You may need the emotional safety of monogamy in your younger years and then branch out into an open relationship in your golden years. You may love the freedom and intensity of polyamory in your 30s but fall so deeply in love with your primary that you end up being mostly monogamous by your 40s.

A single rose or a wild bouquet are both beautiful. Search your soul and find what arrangement helps your heart thrive. Whether your current arrangement is ideal or if you need to make a dramatic change to accommodate your true desires, give yourself the permission to live your truth. Living authentically from your deepest truth is always worth it.


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