In my 5th podcast episode I dive into a highly controversial topic with Raffaello Manacorda of Fragments of Evolution: Open Relationships.
Obviously there is a paradigm shift happening in relationships. It’s quite interesting to note that in the US alone, 44% of the population are no longer resonating with the classic model of dating, marrying, getting kids, having sex within the context of a monogamous relationship.
Raffaello has been living for over 10 years in quite an open-minded community in Spain, where open relationships are “normal”. He is intrigued by the topic and has been interviewing people who are living in alternative relationship models (including me). His plan is to offer an Open Relationship Workshop in Thailand (and maybe also around the world), for people who are interested in making the seemingly impossible possible. A much needed workshop, I believe.
In this episode, we go into detail about
- Raffaello’s personal experiences of coming from a monogamous relationship and starting to live in a polyamory community, where Open Relationships are normal and routine.
- What’s the hardest bit in conducting an Open Relationship?
- Why this can be so freakin scary.
- Why it’s such a beautiful relationship concept but simultaneously scarcely accepted in society?
- Some down-to-earth tips: What are the most important things to consider before heading into an Open Relationship?
- Where is the fine line between helpful rules (especially in the beginning) and being overly controlling.
- What the term, “detached love” means.
- What’s the biggest learning lesson in an Open Relationship?
Links and resources mentioned
- Raffaello’s Blog: Fragments of Evolution
- Interesting podcast: Polyamory Weekly
- Poly dating platform: PolyMatchMaker
- Resource for diving deeper: More Than Two
Welcome to the Orgasmic Discourses Podcast, where it is all about conscious sexuality and supercharged orgasms. My name is Mariah Freya.
Mariah: Welcome to my fifth podcast episode. Today, I and Raffaello Manacorda from Fragments of Evolution, will be discussing a highly temperate topic: Open Relationships. Welcome Raffaello! Great that you are here.
Raffaello: Thank you. Nice to meet you here.
Mariah: Great. So, it is awesome that you are here discussing with me today, as I find a quite intriguing topic, open relationships. So, you yourself have been living in quite an open-minded community in Spain a few years back, where I guess open relationships as I undestood were quite normal.
You are also, currently in your blog, interviewing people who are living in alternative relationship models, also including me, at some point. I wanted to talk to you about open relationships, on my blog, for long times. So, here we are.
Raffaello: Yeah. Great. Thank you!
Mariah: It is actually really interesting, when we, for example, look in the US. In a study they found out, that 44 percent are no longer resonating with the classic model of dating, like marrying, getting kids, and also having sex, within the context of a monogamous relationship. The usual thing.
Forty four percent are no longer resonating with that. And obviously, there seems to be quite a relationship paradigm shift. Raffa, why do you think people are looking for new ways of relationships?
Raffaello: Well, you know, for me, the best way to answer is by relating my own, personal story why I went into open relationships. And I have to tell you that, yes, as you said; I have been living in a quite open community for around ten years in Spain. But when I arrived there, I was coming from a completely traditional model of love relationships, which I lived in Italy from my teenager life until I was approximately 24 or 25.
Honestly, one of the reasons why I made the transition, and the main reason why I made this change, was out of pain and discomfort. I was just not happy living my relationships, the way I did, in the traditional way.
But at that time, I did not know yet that there were other possibilities. I thought that was the only one. I am not surprised that 44 percent of the people interviewed also do not feel at ease in the traditional model of relationships, because that is what happened to me, as well.
Mariah: So, what happened that you were not happy?
Raffaello: I was struggling very much with possessiveness and jealousy. I was actually in a way, feeling really unadopted to what was required of me, in the context of a traditional relationship model. But at the same time, because I did not have a clue that there are other ways to live relationships, I was basically feeling that something was wrong with me. It took me the opportunity to be in a different environment, with different people, to experience that something else was possible, and to slowly start enjoying a different way of relationships.
Mariah: So, when you arrived in that community, you said you were coming from a monogamous relationship and quite heart broken, and then you saw other people being different on that level. Sometimes, that can be also very provoking. What was coming up for you?
Raffaello: I was coming from, let us say, a string or a series of unsuccessful, heartbreaking, monogamous relationship. Or well, we should say, relationships that try to be monogamous, because no relationship actually managed to be monogamous even back in Italy.
But, yes, when I arrived in Spain and I started being involved in a community, which was more open towards open relationships. As you say, at first, it seemed a bit challenging and threatening. But I have to admit, this lasted not so long, like quite soon after just a few months, I started to collect the good results, the good effects of this different way of relationships.
Mariah: So, what was the hardest beat in the beginning?
Raffaello: Well, in the beginning, just the scariness of having to consider situations that they would not consider before. For example, my partner also is having an affair with my best friend, or my partner having an affair with somebody I was living together with because I was living with many more people in the same house.
Those kinds of situations, which in traditional relationships, are kind of, avoided or people try to avoid. Then, a little of a sudden, you are in an open field where anything is basically possible. And this is a bit scary in the beginning.
Mariah: Yeah, definitely. I mean, in today’s podcast, topic is also Open Relationship: Anti-Recipe for Suffering and Insecurities. There are probably lots of insecurities happening. Also from my experience, as I remember my first steps into open relationships, were super scary.
So, what change then, that you could cope with this open field and sort of like, lostness maybe? Because there are not so many rules, right?
Raffaello: Yes, I agree with you actually. For me, the very definition of open relationships, is slowly taking away rules and structures, and just being in an open field, where almost everything is possible. For me, I would like to say, it was really helpful to be surrounded by people who had gone through the same process as I was going through.
I can give you a practical example, like the first time that, in this new community, I was having relationship with somebody, with a girl, and she decided to have another lover, which was a scary situation for me back then. Still. But all of a sudden, I felt that all around me, instead of either compassion or victimization of my role, there was just a feeling of brotherhood.
Everybody was telling me like, “This has happened to everybody, so do not take it too seriously.” But also, on the other hand, everybody was very supportive. So, all of a sudden, I felt it was nothing. So strange.
I was not being betrayed or cheated on the way I used to think before. And that helped me so much to actually go to the core of it and ask myself, “What is really happening?” Like, “What is really so wrong if the woman I love or one of the women I love is also having another lover?” And I ask myself this question for a while until I got what was the answer for me, which was nothing. Nothing really bad is happening, actually. Maybe something nice is happening.
Mariah: Is not it when we truly love our partner, we also give them, sort of, their opportunity to love other people? So, it is like, this concept I guess also of unconditional love, right? Which I guess, is sometimes hard for people to really grasp in daily life and on a practical basis. But the concept is that, love is endless.
If we love somebody, and that person loves someone else too, it is even reason for us to love that person more because it is just an abandoned feel and expensive feel. I guess, sometimes, when we are in those situations where we kind of, feel lost, it is hard to remind our self, is not it?
When you are living in that community, it is great to have these support, and having a certain brother and sisterhood within this community. But, what could you recommend to people who are not living in such communities, but still want to try open relationships?
Raffaello: Actually, I believe that the concept of community is much more fluid. Yes, sure, I was living in big houses with ten or eleven people altogether. That was a real community. Even if you are living in a more, kind of, standard city life in a flat, my advice is if you start experimenting with open relationships, you will notice that slowly a kind of network of affection, sexuality and love builds up between you, your lover, and your lover’s lovers and so on. A community actually starts with peer, automatically.
Mariah: It is like your family, which was maybe before, your lover and you, or your husband and wife, is sort of, expanding. It gets more leaves like a tree.
Raffaello: That is beautiful image that you make for me. Maybe because I am a kind of, tech guy. I usually have in my mind, this image of a network…
Raffaello: …which, really for me , describes what happens because as soon as you step in more open relationships, sooner or later, you will find yourself immersed in a network.
It is like, really a web. All of a sudden, you understand that you have loving and sexual links to a few people. Those people, in turn, have other love and sexual links, and this makes up a really beautiful structure for me.
Mariah: That sounds all really easy and beautiful. But I think even though, as we said before, 44 percent in the US are not agreeing or resonating anymore with the classical relationship system. So, there is paradigm shift, but it is still very unusual in society to talk about open relationships, or something people normally hide more in front of their normal family members.
It is still a sort of a niche. What comes in my mind is, why is it still so scary? Do you think there is not enough support from society level? Or is it just, we as humans, still not there yet to fully embrace that relationship model?
Raffaello: Well, I think you totally hit the source spot. It is not so easy as it may sound,, when I speak about it. I think, first of all, because going into open relationships makes you confront with some, very primal fears. The fear of being abandoned. The future basically. Like, the difficulty of accepting that life is dynamic and you cannot really predict what is going to happen in the future, especially when human beings are concerned, because human beings are free. Free to be with you, free to leave you, free to go on a journey for the rest of their life, etc.
This confronts us with some, very deep fears. On the other hand also, as you also mentioned, there is the issue that our cultures, really do not seem to favor this kind of relationship very much. I think if we examine that, we could find some reasons for that.
But the fact is, as soon as you step into some kind of open relationship, you will find a lot of position from your family, from friends, from also simply cultural products like movies, books or songs that are always, again and again, speaking about the traditional way of relationship.
Almost never you hear about open relationships, even in movies, book or songs. So, it is not easy. I agree with you.
Mariah: Yeah. If you hear from it, then it shows the worst case scenario, which is, like, chaotic, jealous, sort of like, explosion of very bad emotions and ugly sides of human.
Raffaello: Yes. Yes.
Mariah: You said before, like, open relationships, it is all about these dissolving those rules, which maybe also borders of our way of thinking, our way of loving other people. It is like, peeling off those layers and borders from our hearts, and letting the heart be free, and expand to everything and everyone.
Raffaello: It is a great definition. Many times I was thinking about how to define open relationship. Actually, maybe the best way, I agree with you, some sort of negative definition, is just basically getting rid or dissolving the boundaries, the rules and the expectations.
It has a lot to do, in my opinion, with being able to live in the present moment and not so much being worried about the future. Like not trying to make the future certain like your emotional future, your future with your partner or partners, and accepting that this, as every other aspect of life, is subject to change and dynamism and enjoying the present moment without letting the shadow of the future be too strong on you.
Mariah: So, going a bit more down-to-earth on a practical level, what do you think are the most important things to consider before getting into an open relationship?
Raffaello: Well, first of all, I would say that, you have to be honest and realistic to yourself. Obviously, this experiment of open relationships does not to be for everybody in this moment of their life. We have to check with our self where we are, and how much change we are able to endure in our emotional life.
It is not enough to just read a book, and try to copy what the book says or something like that. You need to check with yourself your level of openness to change and to experimentation. But at the same time, I have to tell you, in my opinion, there is not so much to be afraid of. It is just one of the experiments that you can do in life.
For example, when somebody decides to leave their job, and go for a journey or something like this, I would not think about it too much. I would start practicing it and dealing with the problem and obstacles, and challenges as they come.
As long as you have a reasonably healthy, emotional and psychic life, and you feel you are self-reasonably balanced, I think you are a good subject to go into this kind of experimentation. And then, you are always in time to go back to the old model if the new one does not work for you.
Mariah: Yeah, I agree. I think it is super important. Once we decide to go in this path, it is a whole journey, and once we decide to do that, it is quite important actually to be healthy, have enough energy and vitality. Also, look at those patterns, which arise, and it takes a lot of energy.
I remember when I was experimenting with open relationship; I had so much energy draining because I have just wasted so much in jealousy and things, which were arising. It took me a lot of effort to deal with other things in my life while I was on that process because it is intense, especially in the beginning. I guess that it gets easier and easier with time.
Raffaello: Yes, I totally agree with you also. For me, it was more and more energy draining, as you say in the beginning. And now, it is almost, sort of, a second nature. As anything else, in human life, I think it requires some practice and some patience.
But maybe if you are doing this kind of experiment and you are a bit discouraged dealing with old obstacles and issues that may arise, I would encourage you to think about how beautiful it is; the experiment that you are doing, the effort that you are doing to love somebody in an unconditional way.
When you give so much freedom to your lover or lovers, or partners, you are really recognizing the free will in them. Like the fact that, they are free persons, free spirits that can do whatever they want, even leave you tomorrow; if that conducts to more happiness for them.
So, when you bravely give somebody such a big freedom, it is really like, you have stopped treating people like objects that you possess, and you start treating people like wonderful, marvelous, divine human beings that are free to do whatever they wish. In that way, I believe, you really also give yourself that treatment, considering yourself as a human being.
Once to be related to others free, independent human beings, is a beautiful thing. It is not without obstacles, for sure. But it is a nice principle to look at when you feel a bit down or discouraged on this path.
Mariah: Yeah. Beautifully said. Coming back to rules, because Germans like rules, first of all. It is easy to say the concept is all about, like, dissolving the rules and dissolving boundaries. Especially in the beginning, I think it is quite important to have some rules which, kind of, set the feel you are experimenting on. Also, maybe to just give a little bit of safety in the beginning because, as it is such a scary journey.
It is kind of help to have some simple rules, which give you something you can lean on without losing your ground. For, I and my partner, Phillip, he was really worried that he would get super crazy when I would have sleepovers at my lover’s house. So, we just decided that I do not have sleepovers. And that was totally fine to me, and he just not have that fear that he is alone. And then I, did not worrying about me and sort of, so. How do you think we should deal with those rules?
Raffaello: I think it is different for everybody.
Raffaello: For sure, as you said, those rules can be very helpful in the beginning. There are a little bit tools to make it a bit easier. Although, it is very important also to not get too attached to these rules because, rules can be also used to control your partner, such as, “I do not want you to perform that particular sexual interaction. I do not know oral sex or whatever with anybody else but me.”
That kind of rules is a little bit on the border of making you feel safe but just because they make you feel in control of what is happening. On the other hand, those practical rules like you mentioned, can be very helpful and as long as the reason is mutual agreement, I think that those rules eventually would not be necessary anymore. They are just a tool for the beginning? It is fine.
In my case, I was guided mainly by a common sense. And for me, this is still a very important guide. Like for example, if I want to be sexual with one of my lover and the other of my lover is present in the same space, I usually avoid it. It does not really bother me to wait until we are in a more private space. I do not need to show sexual connection when other lovers are present. But still, if I think honestly about it, this is still something that can be surpassed.
Mariah: For sure.
Rafaello: Eventually, why not? We could even make love in the same space and there should not be any problem with that. But as you say, it takes some graduality. reality. I agree with you.
Mariah: I think it is important, when we go in this journey, that we really acknowledge our fear and that we really look at it. But also, not allowing ourselves to fully jump in to the cold water. Maybe, we could also wear a little diving member in suit, which is kind of protecting us a little bit from the coldness, firstly.
And then slowly, peeling that off and then upraising it fully, eventually. But acknowledging our boundaries and also where we at, is important in this process, I think. Because I have seen also, especially in Thailand, where both of us met a lot of couples who would just jump straight into the cold water because they like the concept. They were hardly prepared on any level, and it was just too overwhelming, so they got into really difficult situations in their relationships. Eventually, they broke up, which is of course, the worst case scenario.
Someone else would say, “Well, okay. Maybe it would have anyway broke up at some point.” Sometimes, it can be like an accelerator, right?
Mariah: Like, opening up is just accelerating the underlying issues that we have in our relationship. So, it just brings them out very, very strongly like purification.
Raffaello: Yeah, totally. It is like an accelerator field or something like this. But actually, I was about to tell you that when you said that, couples entering in this kind of process, sometimes, they can break up. And of course, like breaking up, can be a very painful thing. But I also have the impression that, there is too high value that our society puts on the fact that, couples should endure for a long period of time and years, and so on.
In the end of the day, I think for an individual, as long as you have love, affection, support, and sexuality, to me, it does not really matter so much that you are getting all these things from the same person, and that same person stays over many, many years.
I think many of us are ready for more fluid situation, which yes, maybe you break up every now and then. Then, you meet new people and then you make new links. This could go on until the end of your life. It is not such a big deal. It is one of the ways that you can live, actually.
Raffaello: So, this is why I am just considering that, we should also, maybe, lose a little bit, the fear of breaking up. Because, actually, what does break up mean? It is just a change in your emotional life. It is just that, the person that you were sharing a lot of things with for some years; maybe would not be at your side in the future. But that is okay, as long as you have other friends and lovers who can support you, love you, and be loved by you, then it is not such a big deal. Things change. And also, relationships can change.
Mariah: I think it is a very devidantic approach, sort of a bit of an acetic thing to say. Well, I and the ball around, me as well. It is all, kind of, connected. If we lose another’s, we gain someone else. The love is not diminishing by just breaking up, right?
Mariah: We can set aside to continue loving that person, even though we are not in the relationship with them anymore.
Raffaello: Exactly! I do not see why you consider it an acetic or devidantic approach. Because for example, Tantra also talks about this web of energy that connects all of us
Mariah: Yeah. It was just a bit of, more or less, being attached. In Tantra, there is also detachment, as one of the biggest obstacles we have to overcome, as well.
Mariah: Just being sort of free of that pain people might have, when they break up, that can be sometimes a more acetic approach when we, kind of, just do not identify with that emotion.
Raffaello: It is funny actually. Because not to mention this word detachment, to me, that is a very important word and many people find it difficult to combine detachment and love. You can even hear people say, “Oh! My lover is so attached to me. He loves me so much.” So, disconnection between love and attachment.
But finally enough, I believe if you think about it, like somebody who is attached to you, loves you in a very egoistic way because being attached means, “I love you, as long as you are by my side. I love you because you give me something back. You make me feel good.”
And a detached love, to me, is actually a very beautiful concept. It does not mean indifference. Like, if there is a very big difference between detachment and indifference, but be able to love in a detached way. It means something like, “I love you whatever happens. Even if you go away, even if you go to the other side of the world, I will not drown into misery and pain, and maybe hate and revenge.”
No. I would just keep loving you as I was loving you before. Being able to love and at the same time be detached, is for me a very, very beautiful thing. Because ultimately, my view is that we should be pretty detached from everything in this life. After all, we are just passers-by in this life, are not we?
So, there is no reason to get attached because we are moving away all the time and other people also.
Mariah: Yeah, I agree with you. But I guess, for the rest in mine, this can be very challenging especially when we are not on a spiritual journey or reading more about that concept that can be quite provoking. So, to detach from my lover, almost sounds like cutting off…
Raffaello: It is true. You are right.
Mariah: So, I guess there is a balance between understanding that concept of unconditional love and also understanding the concept of detachment and attachment, so that it is kind of, balanced in a way. But it gets complicated also.
Raffaello: Well actually, I am planning to write an article on detachment on my blog. This is going to be the next entry on the blog.
Mariah: Great. That is a good one.
Raffaello: That is a very dear subject to me. So, I am glad that you brought it up.
Mariah: I guess, for my readers who are interested in diving deeper into open relationships and also the concept of Polyamory. Because there can be difference dice of open relationship and polyamory. Open relationships can also mean, just having sexual relationship with someone else, beside my lover or husband.
Not allowing myself to love that person, but enjoying the more physical satisfaction; whereas, in polyamory, we truly want to understand that expansion of unconditional love.
So, if you want to read more on things like that, you can also hop on iTunes and check out the Polyamory Weekly Podcast. I think they are also on iTunes. It is a weekly talk show on all the polly things. They include also, listener callings and interviews. They talk to a lot of people within the poly community which is really interesting.
Also, there is an online dating site. I am not sure whether it is worldwide or just in US. It is called PolyMatchMaker. Everyone can reach this for free, and get to know the people in the polyamory community for dating or just exchanging knowledge, which is really great, I think.
There are lots of other blogs on that topic too. One of the most famous is, I think, More Than Two. They are having millions of resources and articles on that topic. So, check that out.
Mariah: You also have on your blog, I think, you interviewed a woman, besides me, on alternative relationship model. So, are you planning to do more on that?
Raffaello: Yeah. I would love to do more interviews. It has been so exciting to interview you and the, Ana, this other girl who has been into, kind of, a very special relationship with another man and a woman, and also a baby of three years old, lived all of them four together.
So, that was very inspiring. And the interview with you was also very inspiring. Seeing transition from a more monogamous couple to a more open couple, and how your relationship still grows and stands, and gets stronger. It was really beautiful.
So, yes. Definitely I plan to do more interviews about open relationships because they are really useful. Just so, the people can see that there are things out there; there are people out there who are experimenting with this things. Definitely, I want to do more.
Mariah: We would love to read more of that. And maybe now that you travel back to Thailand and to your yoga community, maybe you will find some more interesting people on that topic.
Raffaello: Yeah, it is true although you never know. Like, you can find example of open relationships in the most unsuspected places.
Raffaello: Definitely. And I plan also to, as I said, write an article about detachment and attachment, but specifically in relationships because I think it is very interesting point, like, even more than attachment and detachment from objects or money, and so on.
Mariah: So, where can we find you?
Raffaello: My blog is called fragmentsofevolution.org It is a blog in English and Spanish, both languages. And there, I write a little bit about open relationships. But also Yoga and Tantra, and Human Evolution in general.
Mariah: Beautiful. Great. Okay, now before we just finish that podcast, I would like to ask you one last question, which I am always asking anyone who is in my podcast show. So, get ready for something juicy.
Raffaello: Okay, I am ready.
Mariah: Describe your ideal orgasm with one adjective, one verb, and one animal. So, for example, not to confuse you, mine is the crazy, jumping giraffe.
Raffaello: So, it has to be one animal?
Mariah: And one adjective.
Mariah: So something like crazy, or funny, or whatever. Yeah. And one word.
Raffaello: Okay. So, the third word is something like jumping?
Raffaello: So, mine would be the…
Raffaello: Endlessly, flying eagle.
Mariah: Endlessly, flying eagle. Great.
Mariah: That sounds beautiful. Awesome. Cool.
Raffaello: Which one was yours again?
Mariah: A crazy, jumping giraffe.
Raffaello: That is great also.
Mariah: We had some hilarious ones in the past shows.
Raffaello: Nice. Nice.
Mariah: Beautiful. As always, you can just hop on my homepage on orgasmicdiscourses.com, where you will find all mentioned resources and links we had on the show. And also, of course, Raffaello’s website link will be there.
Thank you so much Raffaello for this talk. I was really enjoying your insights. Beautiful. Have a great day and see you soon!
Raffaello: Thanks to you Mariah. It is always a pleasure to speak with you about these things. We have already some history of conversations about these things, either written or spoken. So, I really enjoy it and thank you so much for the opportunity to appear on your podcast, and on your amazing website.
Mariah: Great. Awesome. Thank you!
Raffaello: Thank you! Big hugs from Spain.
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