Enjoying Rich and Abundant Relationships

September 11th, 2013 by Steve Pavlina

How abundant can your relationship life become? Are there any real limits to what you can experience and enjoy with willing partners? In this article I’ll share some candid thoughts about creating more depth in open relationships, including what I’m interested in exploring next.

I really appreciate this exploration of open relationships that I’ve been undertaking for the past 4 years. It’s been a transformational experience to say the least, not all at once but as a gradual process of unfolding and maturing over time. What was once outside my comfort zone is now firmly within it. This is a beautiful place to be, but of course I’m not the kind of person to stop and settle even when things are good. I love to keep finding new ways to learn, grow, and explore.

These days I’d describe my social and relationship life with the following words: abundant, flowing, graceful, exciting, natural, loving, caring, sensitive, expressive, fun, playful, sensual, connected, happy, and fulfilling.

Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed, but when that happens I just back off and take a break; if I feel overwhelmed by invitations, I decline more of them and take time off to recharge my batteries. People are normally very understanding when I need to do this.

Sometimes I make mistakes, in which case I learn something new and make increasingly refined adjustments in my observations and actions. These days I find the mistakes I make to be increasingly minor. I’m getting better at reading people and sensing the flow of where our connection wants to go, as if the energy between us has a mind of its own; when I can tap into that flow, I can more easily cooperate with it.

Finding Compatible Partners

For some people the biggest challenge in exploring open relationships is finding compatible partners. Where are the other open people who can enjoy connecting without needing to lock into an exclusive relationship? Aren’t those people a rare breed? Isn’t it super difficult to find them?

Before you take the leap and commit yourself to a serious exploration of open connections, it’s likely that those people will be invisible to you, just as they were once invisible to me. They may already be in your life, but you won’t see them as being open. They’ll give you the false impression that they’re just like everyone else. And that’s usually because they don’t know if they can trust you yet. To be more blunt, they don’t know if they can trust you not to think and act like a judgmental, socially brainwashed jerk around them. So in the absence of such trust, they’ll choose to remain invisible. But I assure you that they’re already in your life right now, and they could easily introduce you to many more like-minded people, if only they believed you were ready to receive those introductions and not make them regret it.

Since I came out about my interest in open relationships years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to join this inner circle so to speak. I’ve had people I’ve known for years share the truth about their relationships, truths that I didn’t know until I was ready to become a part of that club myself. I’ve been taught the proverbial secret handshakes and such. Every week I hear from others who are either already into open relationships or finally leaning into this path. And now I also share in the responsibility to protect this delightful, open, loving energy from judgmental outsiders who aren’t ready to experience it.

If you really want to explore this path, it’s going to be tough to do that on your own. You’ll probably have a hard time finding like-minded partners. When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that most of the people around you will still be exclusivity-minded. You may try to convince some of them to open up and explore with you. Good luck with that though. It seldom works. People have to choose this path for themselves. Trying to talk someone into it is a losing proposition. It’s way too forced. I don’t recommend even trying that approach.

The easiest way to get started is to receive introductions from someone who’s already on this path. But to make that a possibility for you, step one is to prove that you’re sincere about wanting to explore this lifestyle, even if you’re not sure whether it’s right for you, and to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you aren’t going to be an a-hole towards the people who are already living this way. Prove that your interest is genuine and that you can be cool and humble as you lean into this and learn, and doors will open.

At first this will probably feel pretty awkward. It felt that way for me. That’s okay. Being a beginner at anything is awkward and clumsy. It’s okay to behave and feel like a dork at times. That really isn’t a problem because even the experienced people went through that phase before, so they recognize it in others. Just do your best to accept that this is a phase you must move through. Be okay with the awkwardness. There’s no need to resist it. If you accept it, you’ll learn faster. I can very much respect people who come across as dorky and clumsy but also open-minded and eager to learn. In fact, I probably respect them more than the experts; the beginner phase is a place of great honor.

Leaning Into Openness

Like attracts like. We attract or repel others according to the energy signature we broadcast. If you have negative judgments about non-exclusivity, if you fear being judged for expressing interest in this lifestyle, or if you have limiting beliefs about it (such as believing that it’s too difficult to find good partners), then you’ll have a hard time stepping into this reality.

But once you’re locked into the right mindset and heartset, the new reality starts showing up, and eventually it becomes self-sustaining. I’ve been at that point for a while now. It would be harder for me to change course and go back. If I do nothing, I’ll continue to attract new people into my life who share a similar energy signature in their approach to relationships. We just seem to attract each other with ease and lightness — it doesn’t require serious effort.

I leaned into this relationship style in a variety of ways. I set the intention to explore it, even before I knew whether or not I’d like it. I shared my intentions publicly, clumsily at first, knowing full well that some people would react negatively. I invited new experiences, even before I felt congruent with them, and again with some degree of awkwardness.

I took steps to break orbit from Planet Exclusive and kept moving in the direction of Planet Openness. These early steps were sometimes bumbling and not particularly graceful, but I knew it was unreasonable to expect smoothness without much experience. I gave myself permission to be a beginner and to make plenty of beginner mistakes. I didn’t expect to be very confident or competent at first, but I still took action anyway. I knew that confidence and competence would eventually emerge as I gained experience.

With enough patience, practice, and experience, you’ll eventually lock in to your new reality. That beginner clumsiness will fade. You’ll become more socially calibrated over time. New opportunities will flow into your life with grace, ease, and lightness, and you’ll know how to receive and enjoy them. This is a beautiful place to be. When you get there, I suggest you simply enjoy it for a while. Feel the appreciation and gratitude of the manifestation of your desires. Sooner or later, you’ll begin perceiving new desires, and then you can go explore some more.

The 4 Dimensions of Connection

Human relationships have 4 primary dimensions for connecting: body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Body connections include anything physical, such as touch, cuddling, kissing, and sex.

Mind connections include communicating and sharing ideas; this is the mental aspect of a connection.

Heart connections include the sharing of emotions, including developing feelings for the other person and falling in love.

Spirit connections including helping each other grow, i.e. the overall flavor (or spirit) of a connection

Think about your current relationships, and you’ll realize that each relationship in your life involves some or all of these aspects.

For instance, with a lover you may enjoy a delicious body-heart connection. With a growth-oriented friend, you could enjoy a stimulating mind-spirit connection.

Note also that there are lots of different possibilities to explore depth and variety in each of these dimensions. You could explore a physical connection that only involves casual touch and maybe some cuddling, or you could have the most amazing sex together. You have some quick and basic conversations now and then, or you could spend hours discussing the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

I encourage you to do a quick assessment right now. For each of these 4 dimensions, rate your overall fulfillment in that area in a scale of 1-10. This will help give you a snapshot of which dimensions are already well satisfied and which could use a bit more work. Acknowledging where you’re not feeling too fulfilled is a good step because it will help you align yourself with Truth. Once you’re able to accept where you are, then you can begin clarifying some new desires and moving towards them.

Multi-Dimensional Connections

Over the past 4 years, I’ve enjoyed a wide variety of body, mind, heart, and spirit connections. Many of these connections involved some significant depth, but usually just in one or two areas.

For instance, I get a lot of invitations from people who want to sit down and have a deep conversation together. We may get together for coffee and have a stimulating discussion about topics such as the nature of reality, online business, or open relationships. I generally enjoy these connections if the conversations go deep enough (not just surface thoughts).

That said, I really like it when other dimensions come into play since then the connection becomes even richer. So we might go from discussing a mostly mental topic to sharing some vulnerable stories, thereby expanding into a mind-heart connection. Or we might begin to discuss ways to help each other grow, which takes us into a mind-spirit connection.

Sometimes I consciously nudge the connection into other dimensions, mainly because I find multi-dimensional connections richer and more fulfilling than mono-dimensional ones. If I have the chance to create a mind-heart or mind-spirit connection with someone instead of just a mind only connection, I’ll often do so, as long as it feels natural and flowing to go that route. If it feels awkward or forced, then I’ll stay with the current dimension.

I normally find that other people enjoy these richer connections too. Often they’re surprised by how powerfully and deeply we can connect in a fairly short period of time. For some it’s not a very common experience to enjoy a multi-dimensional connection with someone they’ve just met. For others it can be a little intense compared to what they’re used to.

This way of connecting may be a surprise to some, but it’s a pleasant one. I often get follow-up messages from people afterwards saying how much they enjoyed our chat and how it inspired them to think about parts of their life from a fresh perspective.

These four dimensions of connection complement each other synergistically, so the more dimensions that are introduced, the stronger the connection can be. A good heart connection creates high trust and caring, which makes communication more honest and authentic (no need to try to impress the other person, for instance). A nice body connection (like from cuddling) creates feelings of closeness and intimacy, which also makes it easy to open up more.

When I’m talking with a woman that I like, for instance, I almost always prefer to cuddle her while we talk… or at the very least to hold her hands or touch her frequently while we talk. A stronger physical connection leads to a stronger heart, mind, and spirit connection too.

Of course I always respect people’s boundaries, so if people don’t enjoy being touched, then I won’t go there. That would defeat the purpose because it would add tension and stress to the connection. But if I sense there’s mutual openness to sharing touch, then I’ll gladly invite that, and I’ll appreciatively accept invitations from women to share touch. Because I’ve been so open about this over a long period of time, it’s become normal for women to invite me to cuddle with them, either by verbally telling me upfront or by making it really obvious to me that they’d enjoy being held or touched while we talk. I also find it very easy and natural to issue such invitations myself. Almost all the women that I invite to cuddle gladly accept. Since it’s almost always an automatic yes, and since it creates such a nice connection, cuddle invites are a great way to add an extra dimension to a connection that otherwise might not include a physical/body aspect.

3D and 4D Connections

As I’ve been exploring multi-dimensional connections for a number of years now, my personal preferences have been gradually evolving. These richer connections are very satisfying, but now when I  experience a connection that doesn’t involve at least three dimensions, it feels a bit lacking to me. It’s like watching a movie without sound. Even if the visuals are amazing, I can’t help but feel that something is missing.

So these days I’m finding it increasingly challenging to feel “turned on” by connections that only go deep in one dimension. And lately even two-dimensional connections are starting to feel less satisfying than they used to.

The more I experience and enjoy connections that include at least three dimensions, the less interested I’m becoming in 1D and 2D connections. So if I receive an invite for a stimulating mental conversation, and if I expect it’s unlikely to move into the body, heart, or spirit aspects to a significant degree, I’m feeling more inclined to decline such invites.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, should it? If I’m able to find and experience richer, multi-dimensional connections, it seems reasonable to expect that more constrained connections may become less appealing over time. This isn’t always the case though. Sometimes I prefer and enjoy a mono-dimensional connection that goes very deep. But all else being equal, I can acknowledge a growing preference for multi-dimensional connections. I typically experience them as richer, more satisfying, and more energizing.

Fresh Intentions

My connection experiences over the past few years are causing me to acknowledge some new Rockets of Desire. Instead of just inviting and experiencing more of the same, I’m noticing a longing for even more depth and richness in my connections. I don’t actually need more connections; in fact, I could be happy with fewer ones than I have now. But I’d like the connections I do invite and accept to include more dimensions (meaning three or four dimensions instead of just one or two).

This is causing me to gradually understand and accept a shift in priorities for my social life. Instead of opening myself to lots of different invitations, I’m becoming more selective in filtering for connections that at least have the potential to involve three or four dimensions.

If we consider the options for three-dimensional connections, there are four possibilities:

body-mind-heart – This type of connection has good physical chemistry, stimulating communication, and some nice emotional depth. This could be a very enjoyable way to connect, and it may feel really good, but we’re not really helping each other grow much. Even though it wouldn’t be a major growth experience, I’d openly accept more of these connections. With a strong body-mind-heart connection, the spirit element may soon follow, so this could easily tip into a 4D connection. These types of connections can still make me feel very loved and supported.

body-mind-spirit – This connection has good physical chemistry, stimulating communication, and strong growth potential. But there isn’t a big emotional connection (i.e. not much love). It’s harder for me to want to invite this kind of connection since I’m very open-hearted and normally attract other open-hearted people with ease, but in some circumstances I could see this as a possibility to explore because of the positive growth aspect. This connection could take the form of a connection with someone who’s a bit emotionally closed or wounded, and our connection may serve as part of their healing process. It could also show up as sexual play partner where we learn a lot from each other in that dimension, but there wouldn’t be much love. The heart aspect is pretty important to me, so exploring this type of connection would be a bit of a stretch for me.

body-heart-spirit – This connection has good physical chemistry, lots of emotional depth, and growth potential. But we don’t connect much mentally. I’d be okay with this connection and could even actively invite it. I have no shortage of mental connections in my life, so it’s not a problem for me to experience a connection that doesn’t offer much in the mental aspect. I expect I’d actually find this kind of connection refreshing at times — a chance to experience a more raw form of intimacy without the mental chatter. I’d just need to be careful that the other person wasn’t so mentally incompatible with me that it kills our ability to connect in the other dimensions.

mind-heart-spirit – This connection has stimulating communication, emotional depth, and growth potential. But it doesn’t involve much touch or physicality. This is as deep as I go with my male friends. I have many connections of this nature in my life right now, with men and women alike, and I appreciate them very much. These people are good friends that care about me, resonate with my purpose, and encourage me to keep challenging myself. I’m open to more of these connections, but they show up pretty well on their own, so I don’t necessarily need to actively invite more of them. That said, I’m still moderately open to more connections of this type. They can be pretty rich and fulfilling.

Body Connections and Women

With my male friends, I’m happy to see plenty of mind-heart-spirit connections showing up. Those are great, and I very much want to continue to enjoy and appreciate the abundance there.

With women, however, there’s the potential to explore the body dimension of our connection as well, such as through touch, massage, cuddling, kissing, oral sex, intercourse, threesomes, etc. Since I’m not interested in connecting with men on this dimension, it means that if I want to experience more and richer body-dimension connections and to balance them with mind, heart, and spirit connections, I have to filter for this aspect more strongly in my connections with women. Otherwise the body aspect will be under-represented in my life overall.

This implies that I can’t relate to men and women on equal footing. I could do that if I were perfectly bisexual, but I’m not. I’m 100% straight. And that means that in order to maintain a decent balance across dimensions, I must filter more heavily for women who are open to sharing at least some kind of physical connection.

This has been a difficult realization for me to accept. I suspect there’s an element of social conditioning that I need to unload here — the conditioning that tells me that I should relate to men and women equally when it comes to connection invitations, i.e. that when it comes to invitations to connect in the dimensions of mind, heart, and/or spirit, I must be gender neutral. However, I can’t do that if I’m to create a reasonable sense of balance here.

In fact, I need to do just the opposite. I need to over-represent the body aspect in my connections with women since that aspect will definitely be under-represented in my connections with men. This means that even if I get a nice offer from a woman to explore a mind-heart-spirit connection together, I’m going to need to decline those invitations much of the time. But if that same invitation comes from a man, I can be a lot more liberally in accepting. That’s because if I accept more mind-heart-spirit connections from women, I won’t have as much time to explore connections that include the body aspect. It’s a matter of opportunity cost.

This of course presumes that balanced connections are important, and for me that’s true.

I feel that this is a mistake I’ve made in the past. I would accept mind-heart-spirit connections with equal interest whether they came from men or women. It seems unfair, sexist, or otherwise dishonest to have one standard for men and another standard for women with respect to these types of connections. But now I realize that I can’t apply the same preferences to men and women alike. I’m not neuter, and I’m not bisexual. I can’t explore the body aspect with men in the ways I can with women. So I absolutely must skew my connection preferences with women to over-emphasize the body aspect.

Rationally it should be fairly obvious why this is so. But of course limiting beliefs have a way of sneaking below the rational radar and making themselves seem sensible and correct. The idea that I’m supposed to treat connection opportunities in a largely gender-neutral matter is a load of falsehood that I’m finally unloading. The simple truth is that in order to create an overall balance between the four aspects of connection in my life, I need to favor physical connections with women to such a degree that I decline a lot more invites from women if the door to a physical connection is closed.

Some of my male friends have figured this out in their own way, such as by declaring that they can’t have female friends that they don’t sleep with. I can see why that makes sense to them. I don’t find it necessary to be that strict, but I do see the importance of putting more emphasis on physical connections with women and letting go of more connections with women that don’t include at least some degree of physical connection.

Does this mean that if a woman doesn’t want to connect physically at all, or if she has to rule that out for some reason (such as already being in an exclusive relationship), that I’d be less inclined to be her friend? Yes, that’s exactly what it means. If I don’t do that, then I’m sentencing myself to a guaranteed imbalance across the four dimensions of connection. It means the body aspect will always be lagging behind the other three aspects.

If I invite and explore too many connections with women that don’t have the body aspect present, it means I’m delaying or avoiding the possibility of experiencing a strong 3D connection that involves the body aspect, and I’m also ruling out the potential for an amazing 4D connection.

If it seems like I’m still leaning into this realization and not fully there yet, that would be a fair assessment. On the one hand, I appreciate having great female friends even if there’s no body connection to speak of (not even cuddling). On the other hand, my interest in inviting and accepting more connections of that nature is definitely waning. I already have plenty of mind-heart-spirit connections with men and women alike, but I can only explore the other three types of 3D connections with women. So be it.

The truth is that my connections with women have already been leaning in this direction for quite some time. Even though it took me some time to figure this out consciously, my subconscious seems to have done the math earlier, causing me to begin filtering for more body-aspect connections with women even before I was aware that it made sense to do that.

Sexual Polarity

The main issue here is one of opportunity cost. If I invest a lot of time and energy in partial matches that will likely never go beyond that, then I’m stealing time from investing in potentially richer connections. It’s like continuing to climb the ladder of success at your current job when you already know you’d rather be in a different line of work. At some point you need to start withdrawing energy from the old, so you can invest it in the new.

With women I invite a lot of cuddling and touch these days, and that almost always opens the door to a nice body-heart connection. Then from there it’s easier to explore the mind and spirit aspects as well.

As close as my connections with men can go, they’ll never go as deep as my connections with women can. There’s something beautiful about the polarity differences between men and women in that regard. The addition of the body aspect opens the door to even deeper connections in the areas of mind, heart, and spirit.

4D Connections

body-mind-heart-spirit – The ultimate connection is four-dimensional. This connection is truly holistic — good physical chemistry, great communication, emotional depth, and growth potential. Our bodies give and receive pleasure. Our minds co-create and share ideas. Our hearts radiate love. And our spirits take an empowering journey together. For me this connection can only happen with a woman.

Is this a rarity? Is this the one true soulmate that I’m seeking? No.

The truth is that I already enjoy an amazing 4D connection with my girlfriend Rachelle. I find her incredibly sexy, and our physical chemistry together is off the charts. Our communication is open, honest, and stimulating; we enjoy many delightful conversations together. We’re very much in love; people often tell me they can see how in love we are when I show them pictures of us together. And we help each other learn and grow in a variety of ways.

I love, love, love the connection that Rachelle and I share, and I know she feels the same. It’s precious to us. I have no desire to replace it. I do, however, feel that there’s the capacity for more of these connections. A 4D connection is unique and special; experiencing more than one doesn’t detract from that specialness.

I’ve explored enough 1D, 2D, and 3D connections to see that they keep pointing to the greater potential richness of a 4D connection. And since I’ve obviously had time to explore lots of connections in general, I don’t see a problem carving out the time to explore at least one more 4D connection. But in order to do that, I have to stop investing so much time and energy in 1D and 2D connections, so I can free up more time to explore 3D and 4D ones. Again, it’s a matter of opportunity cost.

Attracting lots of 1D and 2D connections is easy for me. I could occupy myself every day with those types of connections if I wanted to, and sometimes I’ve gone through periods where it felt like I was doing exactly that. At one point these types of connections were exciting and fulfilling. Lucky me, my social life is very rich and vibrant, I thought.

But now I’m noticing an increasingly intense longing for more 3D and 4D connections. Those 1D and 2D offers just aren’t as appealing anymore. I find myself increasingly likely to decline them — or at least to batch them. For instance, as I’m currently in Bucharest, I’m receiving a lot of invites from people who’d like to meet up and talk. While those kinds of offers once interested me, a general invitation like that isn’t quite enough anymore. There’s too great a risk that I’ll be left feeling drained if I accept such invitations. Usually it’s a fan of my blog who wants to experience a mind or mind-heart connection at best… sometimes mind-spirit and very occasionally mind-heart-spirit.

This may sound pretty selfish, but when I decline those invites, it gives me the time and energy to enjoy a much more appealing 3D body-heart-something connection with a woman. Instead of talking to a guy over coffee, I’ll usually favor cuddle-talking with a woman, often while simultaneously hanging out with other friends with whom I already share a strong mind-heart-spirit connection. This gives me the experience of a 4D connection even though the four dimensions are spread across multiple people.

Is this selfish? Perhaps. But when I take care of myself and honor my desires in this manner, it gives me an increased capacity to write deep, honest, raw truth articles like this one. Or I could go enjoy some coffee talk with a guy, but I probably won’t feel inspired as much afterwards. So while this may be a selfish pursuit, I think that’s a good thing. It leaves me feeling more balanced, and it increases my capacity to give.

No matter how well I may connect with another guy, there’s no substitute for a quality connection with a woman. Women are so much better at leaving me feeling loved, cared for, appreciated, and inspired. If you find this dynamic unfair, you’ll have to take it up with a higher power.

So if you happen to be a guy who’d really like to get together and chat over coffee, that may be a possibility, but if your offer is in competition with a cuddle invite from a woman, it’s fair to say that I’ll usually decline the coffee. I hope you can understand that.

I probably still have some blocks and limiting beliefs to work through on this path, but I’m willing to lean into this and see where it leads. I’m an explorer, and exploring entails some risk. I’d rather take a risk here, fail, and learn something, than never try.

I think part of me knows that if I lean into this, I’ll succeed. I’ve seen that when I leaned into other experiences, even when I felt they were quite a stretch, they actually showed up. The barriers were all imaginary. It just takes time to realize that the barriers are imaginary and then to decide to let them go.

So presently I’m acknowledging the intention to enjoy more body-something-something connections with women as well as to invite holistic body-mind-heart-spirit connections (obviously with women as well). I have no desire to try to convince anyone that this is a good idea for them. But I know there are women out there who’d enjoy this type of exploration together. And so I invite them into my life to share, explore, learn, and grow together. :)


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