Love can go in many directions.

Relationships today are pluralistic and less constrained than they used to be. People live their sexuality in different forms of relationships. In our practice, we are increasingly aware of the growing interest in alternative relationship concepts. However, there are many uncertainties when opening a relationship.

Polyamorous relationships are different.

We are familiar with the subject of polyamory and offer a protected space for questions from couples and individuals. It doesn’t matter whether the people who visit our practice already live the model or want to prepare for the opening of the relationship for the first time. Not everyone who comes to us has serious problems. Some just want to reflect or negotiate solutions, because there is actually a lot to negotiate in a relationship network. Sometimes a view from the outside helps. Often people use advice at the beginning of a poly relationship because they are unsure whether this concept suits them.

Monogamy is one option among many

Today’s next adventure is just a click away. How do you deal with these incessant seductions? Opportunity arises for love or sex or both. When couples choose a monogamous relationship today, it happens voluntarily. There are fewer social or economic constraints, and the ‘patchwork family’ has become more socially acceptable. More and more people do not want to decide between being with their partner and feeling the joy and excitement of contact with new people.

If people decide to live out their needs for more (sexual) freedom, they should discuss this openly and honestly with their partner. We are happy to support you in this process.

Many questions arise when one considers polyamorous relationships.

Would you like the freedom to get to know someone, to experience something, to have sex, or even to be emotionally connected? Behind this is the longing to grow personally, as well as the realization that it is impossible for one person to cover all needs for a partner. So far that sounds reasonable and understandable. But why is it so difficult in practice? What does it take for polyamory to work?

Here are some examples of questions with which clients come to us:

  • Does polyamory suit me?
  • How can I live polyamory?
  • I want children one day. How will that work in a polyamorous relationship?
  • The past few years in my life have been almost all about poly relationships. Will that ever change?
  • We want to open our relationship, but we are afraid to lose ourselves as a couple.
  • What rules can we set so that polyamory can be emotionally but also practically lived?
  • I would like to live polyamorous, but my jealousy slows me down. How can I productively deal with jealousy?

Some clients have legal questions, for example about marriage and property.

Many people are also concerned with what polyamory will be like in old age.

There is no model that fits all couples.

Each couple has to find out for themselves how to deal with the topic of loyalty/monogamy and open up about it. There is no model that fits everyone. There are violations in consensual, non-monogamous relationships, too. One may want to control the partner by setting up rules, which is senseless when it comes to handling feelings. Even within a working partnership, people fall in love again. You cannot capture nor forbid feelings. But you can learn to talk about them without breaking the relationship and separating.

Defining Terms: Different Forms of Polyamorous

Relationships Polyamory is a collective term. There are countless forms of life and relationship apart from monogamy that are subsumed by the umbrella term “poly”. But what they all share commonly established is that open and honest communication must take place within the relationship. The most common forms of polyamorous relationship are outlined below:

Primary Relationship

Your primary relationship is with whom you ideally envision sharing the remainder of this lifetime, or at least a great deal of it. You may already have a family together, be married, or live together. Your primary partner is the one you’d most likely introduce to your parents.

Secondary Relationship

This is also a long-term and important partnership for you, which can last for many years to a lifetime. You might go on vacation from time to time, but this relationship is not the primary relationship. The latter will always be number one in your life.

Open Marriages and Open Relationships

In these forms of relationships, there is an agreement that everyone can have sexual partners independently of one another. Sexuality is not exclusively limited to the partnership.

Relationship Networks

There is no primary relationship, but rather a network of relationships between people who relate to one another in varying constellations.

For each of these forms of relationship, a multitude of rules and framework-conditions are required for the couple to negotiate. Polyamorous relationships are characterized by the great effort from partners to establish clear and effective communication. They are complex. Professional advice helps to address uncertainties and concerns within the relationship, and seeks solutions.

Monogamy is not a natural law

If you look around in your circle of friends and acquaintances, you will find that society is divided when it comes to relationships and partnerships. There are couples who have had a monogamous relationship for years and others who have had an open relationship and can officially live intimacy with other people. But what is the right way to live in a happy and sexually fulfilled partnership long-term?

More and more people are consciously opting for open forms of relationships. What looks like a trend is by no means new. In the old days, it was normal to practice free sexuality. The concept of monogamy is not a natural law, but has developed out of religious and social hegemony.

The Church was very powerful in the past and propagated sex as a sin. This anti-sex attitude led to adulterers being punished with death. Sexuality was only tolerated if it had to do with conception and reproduction. Even now in the 21st Century, the Christian Church still doesn’t tolerate artificial contraception. Today, a large part of society has dissociated from such religious constraints.

Monogamy is defined by society

Our self-imposed monogamy is oftentimes a bluff. We sustain monogamy for a time, but then we tire of the relationship or get abandoned, only to enter into the next longer or shorter relationship some time later. This raises the question: why do so many people cling to the concept of monogamy, when it doesn’t seem to work in reality?

Fidelity and Jealousy

Loyalty should be de-coupled. Fidelity does not automatically mean that the partner “belongs” to you sexually. Loyalty could also take on a new meaning and be a promise to be there for the partner – and not just for a short moment, but for a long period of time. If loyalty no longer means ownership, but instead stands for a loyal and cooperative relationship with the partner, then it is a worthwhile ideal for any form of relationship – whether it is polyamory or other concepts.

Children and marriage

In the past, a marriage alliance was above-all utilitarian and was closed in most cases for the purpose of raising children. The male reproductive potential is naturally greater than that of the woman. If a woman has a child, she can be sure that it is from her. The man, however, only has this certainty if he knows that his wife is loyal to him.

Only a few decades ago, women plunged into deep social contempt when they had an illegitimate child. It was perfectly normal for the woman to be a housewife while the man was making the money. Because of this financial dependence on men, it was unthinkable for many women to even imagine divorce.

Sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s

The first sexual revolution started in the 1960s and 1970s. This meant a historical change in public sexual morality. The taboos of previous generations were slowly broken down and society became more tolerant of sexual needs and orientations. An example of this is the emergence of hippie communities in which free love was propagated and lived. An important factor was the market launch of the pill, which finally allowed self-determined sexual freedom for women.

Self-determination in the choice of the relationship form

Sex researcher Volkmar Sigusch discusses the shift in meaning for sexuality in our society over the past three decades in his book Neosexualities (2005). He remarks on a changing socio-cultural situation in which modern westerners organize their life and sexuality in relationship/s nowadays. In contrast to earlier times, individual rights define one’s own self-understanding. Hegemony and stigmatization have given way for more pluralistic forms and models of relationships to promote one’s sense of agency.

Since sexuality no longer has a binding reference system (e.g. sex only in marriage or sex exclusively as an expression of attachment and love), individuals can now choose what suits personal happiness best. Problems arise less from a compulsion, but from having to choose from the abundance of possibilities and negotiating with the respective sexual partner what works for both.

Monogamy, for now

Many people hold monogamy as an ideal. Nonetheless, our thoughts on the matter have become more realistic, and instead of entering an infinitely long period of love, many people choose to celebrate their love in the here and now. As a result, monogamy is divided into smaller, consecutive relationships over the course of a lifetime. Many people switch from one fixed relationship to the next until a partner becomes unfaithful or until a third steps into the scene.

Even the desire to have children can be managed flexibly into old age. In the past it was normal to have a joint account with the partner, but now most people live financially independently of one another. Today men and women should be free to determine their sexual expression, the forms of relationship, and the people to whom they open up. In our cultural milieu, the term monogamy means that a man and a woman live together in a stable relationship.

We can observe completely opposite behavior in the animal kingdom, of which less than 10 percent of species bind to a permanent partner. The author Christopher Ryan explains in his book Sex: The Real Story that Man is not monogamous, was never monogamous, and is not suitable for monogamy at all. Rather, “overlapping sexual relationships in groups are advantageous because sex creates an important and lasting network of affection, belonging, and mutual obligation.”


Has the model of monogamy failed? Not from our point of view. It is a suitable partnership format for many couples. Many people also practice serial monogamy. Of course, we encounter double standards rather often in the case of secret affairs or lying to partners, which is extremely devastating for the couple and especially devastating for those being ‘duped’.

If people decide to live out their needs for more (sexual) freedom, they should discuss this openly and honestly with their partner. We are happy to support you in this process.

Sexual problems

Sexual problems can be treated. They occur more often than you think. Sex counseling makes it possible to discuss sexual problems without shame.

Wir sind für Sie da.

psychological counseling
Couples’ sexual counseling

Mag. Barbara Zuschnig
+43 660 44 35 665

Mag. Beatrix Roidinger
+43 660 46 26 777

We advise on all topics that shape and influence sexual desire:

  • physical experience
  • anatomical questions
  • social norms
  • societal myths
  • sexual life phases
  • partnership
  • Sexual orientation
  • sexual preferences and inclinations
  • Sexual identity

Sexual problems can occur in any relationship.

Sexual problems may also be caused by the following physical ailments:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Surgeries
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Substance abuse (drugs, nicotine, alcohol)
  • Injury to the erectile tissue
  • Snoring
  • Tumors/Cancer
  • Side-effects from medication (antidepressants, sleeping pills, beta-blockers, antiandrogens)
  • STDs

There is a solution for every sexual problem.