E is for Expansive Relationships


Love isn’t about becoming one. Keeping your individual identity, autonomy and agency is important for healthy and robust love that feels expansive and recharging.

From Roy Graff / Open Relating

Being raised on a diet of mono-normative romantic fantasies, most people develop a mythological sense of what healthy relationships look like. So often, this equates passion and romance with obsession, possessiveness, codependency and some loss of self. It can come with the expectation that my partner will change for me or that I must change for my partner. I make myself responsible for my partner’s happiness and see them as responsible for mine.

About the author

Roy Graff draws inspiration from training in Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, Radical Honesty, Non-violent Communication and Wheel of Consent training as well as Burning Man principles.

He offers coaching and mentoring to individuals, couples and polycules. As a coach and educator, Roy works with complex relationship issues, Polyamory and Kink, and advocates honesty and authenticity in relating. He has been practising Polyamory for 12 years, and gives talks and workshops on alternative relationship dynamics. His services are inclusive and affirming of all gender, sexual orientations and relationship dynamics.
Website: https://openrelating.love
Instagram: @openrelating
Twitter: @openrelating
Facebook: openrelationg

We have inherited a scarcity focused culture that values dominance, competitiveness, capitalism, accumulation of wealth and resources. No matter the political ideology, scarcity is at the root of so many problems that humanity must tackle if we are to thrive as a species. The compounded tragedy is that we also inherited fixed ways of thinking and analysing these issues that limit us, as they are made of the same value system.

Once we recognise love as separate from 'meeting needs', we are on our path to a better way of loving ourselves and others.

We can design our relationships in any way that makes sense to us and our partners - we can create our own Expansive Relationship that does not follow a script or adhere to social conventions that do not serve us. If what society says we should be doing feels unnatural, then do it differently. Nothing is 'default' or 'natural', except what feels natural to us. When there is an internal struggle, it is often because we inherit a set of values and expectations from our community, family and tribe that are at odds with what we feel inside.

Nothing is 'default' or 'natural', except what feels natural to us.
Nothing is 'default' or 'natural', except what feels natural to us.

For me, the shift towards an abundance mindset came about through discovering non-monogamy and polyamory. Suddenly, it was no longer necessary to find the person that will be my everything. I did not feel pressure to be their everything. When I love someone, I want them to be the most authentic, fulfilled, realised version of themselves, whatever that means to them. I do not want to control them or fit them into a box that I approve of. These things happen because of fear, not love.

So when I ask my partner why they are feeling jealous, and they tell me "because I love you so much", they are not actually connected to their own truth, which is "I fear losing you so much because I am afraid to be on my own".

To create an Expansive Relationship, we need:

  • Honesty: Being fully honest in your relating with a partner is critical for establishing trust.
  • Compassion: to yourself and partner/s
  • Generosity: Being with generosity of spirit allows us to assume good will and good intent from our partner.
  • Integrity: Acting with integrity means that my actions always mirror my words.
  • Congruence: To speak authentically and gain trust, my words must be congruent with my thoughts and/or feelings.
  • Responsibility: You are responsible for your own feelings, words, actions and any agreements you make. You are not responsible for your partner’s feelings, words or actions, for how your partner reacts to your boundaries, or to take away their suffering. Wanting to do something is very different to feeling responsibility or obligation to it.
  • Good boundaries: An invitation to welcome people towards you up to the place where your boundary lies.

When we stop operating out of scarcity we find ourselves …

  • ... saying no and yes authentically.
  • ... connecting to people who don't 'tick all the boxes'.
  • ... removing anxiety from the thought of losing 'the one', or not finding 'the one'.
  • ... attracting kindness and goodwill from others.

Tell us about your experiences or questions regarding Expansive Relationships and Join this discussion!

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