Susan W. Wenzel

Clinical Sexologist, Relationship Expert & Certified Sex-Therapist


To book an appointment:

Text or call 204-770-5381


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My clients leave my office feeling understood, respected, empowered, hopeful & challenged to make changes that will bring healing and restoration in their lives. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, suicide, relational conflicts or lacking “spark” in your marriage, I can help you.

Susan Wenzel works in partnership with Riverbend Counselling & Wellness.

Located at 9-1110 Henderson Hwy., Winnipeg.

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5 Things you need to know regarding consensual non-monogamous relationships

The millennium generation is redefining relationships and marriages. Although consensual non-monogamy (CNM) has been around for a while, many people would say they have heard of open relationships among friends, in articles, in movies, TV-shows or on social media. To some an open relationship means open-mindedness and curiosity, while others view the idea of sharing your partner with someone else as distasteful and suspicious. 

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff stated that there are different forms of CNM such as open relationships, swinging, polyamory, “monogamies”, polygamy, etc.  The key point of CNM is that the couple must have consensual agreement in their relationship. There are various reasons for a monogamous couple or individual deciding to try consensual non-monogamy relationships. For some it’s aftermath of an affair, for others it’s a sincere individual desire to have multiple partners to feel fully alive, and other it is simply a matter of open-mindedness and curiosity to the world and what it offers. Moreover, some couples agree to open their relationships because of incompatibility of their sexual and emotional needs.

Whatever the reasons that bring an individual to consider CNM, here are a few points to be aware of before signing up on Tinder to look for potential partners:

(1)   Consensual Non-monogamy is not for everyone.

Most people are monogamous in nature and they cannot be their authentic self in non-monogamous relationships. In theory, a CNM relationship might sound interesting and cool to some people, but in reality, things might look different for them. In this case, one should be able to exit the arrangement if it doesn’t work out. 

(2) Be ready to embrace the loss of traditional belief systems of monogamy.

Entering in an open relationship triggers a sense of loss.  Loss of the world view of traditional monogamous marriage and all that it implies. Loss of a belief system where you are the only one who can fulfil your partner both sexually and emotionally. Most people, especially heterosexual women, dream in childhood of falling in love with prince charming and living happily ever after in a monogamous relationship. Trying to shift these core belief systems about relationships will take them a while.

(3) Be ready to give a new meaning to your relationship.

Being in a consensual non-monogamous relationship will force you to face your insecurities, however, with a lot of work and personal growth happiness in inevitable. Knowing that your partner is pursuing other people sexually and emotionally might feel like the end of one’s world, nevertheless, just like any other emotion, you can learn to regulate your feelings to bring balance in your life. According to Amy Morin’s  book “13Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”, one should not feel sorry for him or herself, but instead, one must learn to reframe negative thoughts to rational thoughts. The author also explains the significance of people controlling their emotionsso that emotions don’t control them.

(4) Tap into your inner power.

Although having a supportive, responsive and empathetic partner will help you deal with insecurities, such as jealousy, inadequacy, embarrassment, abandonment issues and self-esteem issues that are triggered in an open relationship, the most efficient change must come from within. One must learn to deal with insecurities by changing the way he/she thinks and feels about relationships. Journaling, practicing mindfulness, having positive mantras, reframing negative thoughts to positive thoughts and facing fears head on will draw out your inner strength. For example, if underlying fear is fear of losing loved one, one must practice being okay even with the risk of loosing their significant other.

 (5) Focus on what you are gaining in CNM.

Your brain has the capacity to heal and rewire itself. Gratitude and focusing on what is working for you in CNM will restore healing in your life. It's possible to make non-monogamy work for you rather than feeling that it's taking from you. It's possible to enjoy meeting new people where you would not have met in a monogamous relationship. It's possible to have a securely attached relationship with your spouse after having dealt with insecurities in an open relationship. It's possible to find yourself gaining so much in an open relationship and becoming the person who is thriving in life rather than merely surviving. It’s possible to be in a place where the open relationship is a significant part of your happiness in relationships and sexual satisfaction.

Susan Wenzel, a Relationship expert and Certified Sex-Therapist