how our polyamorous clients build thriving relationships

It Was Just Supposed to Be Sex

It’s a tale as old as time. You and your partner agree to open your relationship under one condition: It’s JUST about sex. No feelings. And for a while that works out pretty well. 

But now it’s happened. Someone caught feelings. The other partner is feeling hurt and betrayed. And you’re both trying to figure out: what does a path forward even look like?

Sound like you?


Watch the video to learn more. Click the play button….
Don’t have time to watch the video? Keep scrolling down the page.


Listen to the podcast version on the go…
Need to read instead? We got you covered. keep scrolling down the page.

or subscribe on:


Cassie 0:01
So today what we're gonna be talking about is when you and your partner open the relationship, but it's just gonna be sex. But what happens when the feels get caught?

Josh 0:12
Alright, so stay tuned.

Cassie 0:15
Here at Touch of Flavor, we teach non-monogamous folks how to overcome their obstacles and build thriving relationships.

Josh 0:41
This podcast is about answering one question: how do you create loving, passionate, secure relationships outside the box? Even if nothing has ever worked before. If you want to know the answer, you're in the right place.

Cassie 0:53
All this information is 100% free. So please subscribe to and review our podcasts.

Josh 1:03
Alright, Cassie, so what are we talking about today?

Cassie 1:05
So what we're diving into is, there are a lot of folks who come to opening the relationship. And when they open the relationship, they're like, "Cool, this is the plan. The plan is we're gonna go out. We're going to have fun, sexy experiences with other people. We're going to spice things up. But you know what, we're gonna keep it on the not romantic side. No feelings involved. Just like the casual fun, friendly, sexy stuff." Cool. Got it. And, I want to put to the side, that's awesome, right? To have casual interactions. Things like that. And we'll talk a little bit more about that. But going into it with that expectation that that's all that's ever going to happen. And that people, you know-- no emotions are allowed, right? And what happens is, a lot of times, feelings do pop up. There are emotions that come into play. And then that causes a lot of challenge for the couple who didn't plan for that to happen. They go into things with this expectation that like, "Cool, we've made this agreement. No feelings. Not allowed. Not gonna happen. That's the way it is." But that it happens.

Josh 2:26
Yeah. And so I see this with people who start off with swinging. I don't want to say "only" but it's that same-- it's the same kind of idea of, "You know, we're just going to swing and we're just going to be open. We're going to have some fun. We're going to spice things up--get some variety. But there aren't going to be any relationships.There aren't going to be any feelings involved." I don't want to say everybody who swings is that way, but I definitely see it some with people.

Cassie 2:47
Yeah, it's more on the open, swinging, ethical non-monogamy end than the polyamory end of things. What people who are going into polyamory are going in with the intention of having-- even if they're more casual relationships-- more of relationships versus this idea of it being pretty much just for the sex.

Josh 3:11
Yeah. And do people go into that? Do you see people do that more as like an explicit agreement or an implicit agreement? Like we have this spelled out.

Cassie 3:22
Explicit, but it's explicitly spelled out as, "We're not going to get any feelings." Not explicitly spelled out as, "So what happens if this happens? It's just me and my partner." I can't tell you-- we have 20,000 people in our Facebook group. So we get a response on a post, or several posts every day where someone's like, "Yeah, well, we just agreed not to have any feelings. And now he caught feelings, or she caught feelings and like fuck..." It's this surprise that this might happen. Like, it's this, you know, that's our agreement. And we did this, because that's what's going to protect us. That's what's going to take care of our relationship.

Josh 4:08
So what's the problem with making an agreement like that? I mean, obviously, look, you know, people want to make agreements, you can make agreements about pretty much anything. Right? What's the problem with that kind of agreement?

Cassie 4:20
So the problem is, is that when-- and this is something we talk to our clients. When we work with our clients, we work on agreements extensively. We take a lot of time looking at agreements, talking about agreements. And one area that people make really big mistakes is basing agreements on a feeling. We don't control our feelings. Our feelings kind of pop up! When we are hurt by something or we feel something, trying to make an agreement on feelings is basically...

Josh 4:54
Not making an agreement at all.

Cassie 4:55
Not making an agreement. It's setting yourself and your relationship up for failure because we don't know exactly how we're going to feel about things. We all have those moments where we're sitting somewhere, and we're like, "Oof, I didn't know that was gonna hit me." And if you think back to when you first got to it with your partner, a lot of us have stories of, "Oh my God, I didn't even realize I was falling in love with this person." Or that there was this moment there. And you might have that moment where it finally clicked. For us, it was when we had like a spat, and I was in the kitchen. And I was like, "Damn it, I love you." But for a lot of people, before you hit that point of, "Oh, my gosh, this is where I'm at," it's not like, you're like, "Oh, I am starting to feel this thing. I am processing." We're not built that way.

Cassie 4:59
And so what winds up happening-- what I see happen-- is people make this agreement, whether again, a lot of times, it's explicit, not always, but they make this agreement. And then because people can't control their emotions, somebody does wind up catching feelings. And now they're in this position where you have a lot of stuff that's going on. So number one, you're in a position where a lot of times there's this feeling that trust has been broken, because we had an agreement. It wasn't stuck to. And a lot of other stuff can come along with that. Because you know, maybe because I'm realizing I'm catching these things, maybe I'm not upfront about it. But you wind up with this broken trust situation, which is, obviously really kind of devastating. But then what else do you wind up with? Besides that?

Cassie 6:26
So you end up a lot of times in this limbo state. Of what are we going to do now? And that's where the person who feels like the trust is broken, is like, "Well, we're not supposed to be doing anything. Why are you still feeling this way? If you're still feeling this way, you obviously don't care that you're hurting me." And it ends up being this sort of this rolling downhill ball of expectations, frustrations, arguments, and things like that.

Josh 6:59
So I'm gonna stack on that even more. And this is an interesting thing, because I don't know if we've actually discussed this. But when I'm talking to people-- because I do a lot of front facing conversations with folk, and I talk to hundreds of people a year in different situations-- what I've come to realize is that-- and you wouldn't think this, but this is how it works out-- people who are in this kind of place are in essentially the exact same situation that couples are when they've been monogamous for a long time and somebody is coming out as poly. You have the exact same challenges, where you have somebody feeling like they need to be true to who they are. And now you have "This isn't what we signed up for." You have the arguing. You have the jealousy. You have the worries about where that leaves me and my place in your life now that you're forming a relationship with this other person. It really looks exactly like a couple, who's transitioning to polyamory for the first time from monogamy. It's the exact same challenges, It's the exact same worries. It's the exact same fears. It's really the exact same process to fix for the most part. But I see you wind up with a lot of those challenges. It's like, "Well, this isn't what we signed up for in the relationship. And now the rules are changing." It's "I'm looking at this romantic relationship you're forming with us other person, and I'm feeling jealous." It's "You told me this isn't what we're going to do. And now trust is broken." It's now "We're arguing about what this looks like. It's the fears about the future and where I fit in? And are we compatible?" You have all of those problems that you would expect to see. It's the same thing. It doesn't turn out to be any different, just because you were swinging or open first. And I'll be honest with you. A lot of times I see people who are in the swinging open kind of situation, who are more resistant to a shift into polyamory. The one partner is more resistant into shift into polyamory than maybe people are if they started from monogamy in the first place.

Cassie 9:02
And that's what I was gonna say. So, if this is you, and you're finding yourself that spot. What I want-- if your partner is like, "I'm not open to this," or you're the partner-- what I want to say is just because you were sexually open does not make this any easier. This does not make this any easier of a situation than someone coming out from just being monogamous. The sexual end, like sure, okay, you've got that little tiny one up on when your partner's having sex with somebody. But honestly it is not any easier. That feeling that the rules-- because us as humans, we all have like our set of rules of what relationships look like, what the future is gonna look like. And when there is this change, the rules shift. And that is really, really scary.

Josh 9:55
And I know that may seem really counterintuitive, and there's probably quite a few out there going "What?" But I assure you, it is true. And the fact of the matter is, for most people, the sex is the easy part of all this. It's the emotions. It's the feeling. It's the fear. It's the comparison that you kind of shining between that other relationship and your own. It's the ground shifting under you. Those are the hard parts for people. Most people can get over the sexual side of things. But when the non-monogamy, when the relationship gets thrown into the mix, like you said, it isn't any easier. And I think that's maybe one place people get caught up is that they expect it to be easier. And then they get kind of blindsided when it isn't.

Cassie 10:41
Yep. And it ends up being one of those situations that, anytime we are kind of in shock, we go into panic mode. And we don't show up in our relationships very well. We end up fighting. We end up arguing. And that's why it's really important to just recognize that our feelings is not one of those things that we can really put an agreement on. At the end of the day, that is something that if you're in this position, you can't be like, "Hey, we won't have feelings."

Josh 11:14
And this is the risk that you run. Because I mean, for most people, even those of us who I think are pretty good at disconnecting it, there is some level of connection between sex and romantic attractions. And sex and emotions and feelings.

Cassie 11:30
and if you're saying, "No, not at all," you're lying. You're just lying! Like seriously there might be a lot of separation there. But we all have NRE. We all have those moments of onnection. You know, I talk about people who are like, "It's just BDSM. " Right. Yes, there's nothing? There's an exchange of energy there. You have an energy exchange. And when you do that, there is feelings that may come up for you. Even if you're one of the people who are better at, as you said, disconnecting.

Josh 12:09
And that isn't to say that every person you sleep with is bound to be romantic relationship. We have plenty of people in our own lives who that isn't the case. What I'm saying, though, is that for a lot of people, when you open that box, eventually, you're gonna run into somebody who those things are going to connect for you. And like you said, you can't control it. And then you end up in this position where as you said, it's like, "Oh, my God." So what do people do from that place? I guess, is the question.

Cassie 12:38
So the first thing is, stop making that agreement. Just Stop. Just stop basing your agreements on feelings. Just don't do that. Don't. So then I'm sure like, you're sitting there going, "Well, what do I do?" And what you do is you make sure that your relationship is sound, and that your agreements are in a place where when these things happen, you know how to handle it.

Josh 13:07
You should have a much better agreement than "we're never going to get feelings" is if somebody does get feelings, what happens next? That's an agreement that actually works. It's an agreement that can work. Let's say, depending on how you structure it. Because one thing that people do is they try and shove that back in the box. And that doesn't always work successfully. You wind up in situations where people either--and again, it's the exact same thing we see with monogamous people who are transitioning-- either "I've met somebody, and I'm falling for them. And I'm not willing to put that aside," or "I've realized that this is kind of a part of who I am. And I'm not willing to put that down." So you end up in this situation, a lot of times, I think, we're the people's first instinct is to just "Well, if that ever happens, we just will just stop." Like, what would you say to people who that's kind of what they're thinking?

Cassie 14:05
I mean, that works sometimes. It does. Sometimes, maybe if you caught a little bit of feelings, have something and you cut it off, that can work. And then other times it can turn into a place where-- and many times it does-- and that's why I'm saying like sometimes. Yeah, everything, like a broken clock works, you know. But the truth is, most of the time what happens is you end up in a place where resentment builds where when you're recognizing that this is --because for some people this is their segway into realizing that they're polyamorous. They have that moment. They're like, "Oh my gosh. This is something that's been missing."

Josh 14:49
This is who I am.

Cassie 14:50
"This is who I am now" right? Or maybe "This is who I've always been, and I just didn't know." Like there's a realization there. And also, and I see this a lot with swinging, like if this is somebody that this person has been swinging with-- let's just use swinging as an example. They've caught feelings. This is like a friend now. This is somebody that they've gotten used to. Now they're having to make the decision that this person has to go. And none of us end up in a position where we're very happy that like, our partner is telling us that like, "Hey, you have feelings for this person over here. So because you have feelings for this person, they're out. You got to cut them."

Josh 15:33
You know, that's a good point. And I think people don't think about this. But it isn't-- the person you catch feelings for isn't usually the person you hooked up with one night in a club. It's the person who you've been acting in interacting with regularly who there is some kind of...

Cassie 15:50

Josh 15:51
Chemisty. But also connection and involvement in your life. So yeah, that's interesting.

Cassie 16:03
Yeah, it tends to be the person that you had an ongoing sexual relationship with,. And that's when, and if you go back to like, where I was talking earlier, it's that place where like, "We've been doing things. It's been fun. It's been exciting. I really enjoyed your company. Okay, this thing's go. Oh, wait."

Josh 16:22
"We're friends." How far is that really from romance?

Cassie 16:24
Oh, okay. Well, "Now ooh-- now I'm getting like...I think I might really..." It ends up in that place. And you have, for a lot of people who end up in this spot, that is a relationship that's already formed. It might not be a romantic relationship. It might not be a partnership. But it might be a friendship. It might be a connected friendship, that now you're having to sever because our agreement is "If you catch feels that person's got go". And that just doesn't usually work out very well.

Josh 17:02
And so when you're talking about what do you do, I think the best way to look at this is kind of exactly how we tell people to deal with poly-mono situations, because again, it is the exact same thing. For all practical intents and purposes. And for those of you who are just joining us, we have quite a few episodes on poly-mono that would definitely be worth going back and listening to. But I think just there's two main things to understand where you're in this kind of situation. Now, the first is that it can work. I don't think that's as much of a concern sometimes for people who have been previously open. But the first thing is that it can work. But the second thing is that understand that as it sits right now, if you are in this place where you found yourself here, as it sits right now, it's an incompatibility. And when you're in that place, you really have three options that are available to you. One of which is you just kind of ignore that incompatibility. And you try and shove it down and you try and ignore it. And part of that may be issuing an ultimatum to your partner and trying to get them to go back to the way things were before. Which has its own-- we've talked about ultimatum before-- has its own set of issues. But really, it's this kind of bury their head in the sand approach, where you ignore the problems, try and kind of go things back the way they were before. And like Cassie said, if that works, great. But if you're sitting here listening to this, it's probably because that didn't work. And it doesn't work for a lot of people.

Josh 18:50
The second piece is you decide that you're incompatible. "This isn't what we signed up for. We were only here for the open relationship. I'm not okay with polyamory. This is now an incompatibility. And this relationship needs to come to an end." Or you decide that you accept what is, but that you're going to do whatever you can. You're going to fight for the relationship and try and to find a path forward to where this is working for everybody. Where you're able to get out of the arguing or the jealousy or the fear, and you're able to navigate that transition, and get to a place where everybody involved can be happy and healthy and themselves. But your relationship is still thriving. And those are really only the three options that you have available to you.

Cassie 19:33
And the funny thing is the reason why this rule is in place in relationships is because of the last one. What people are trying to do with this is ensure that their relationship is happy and thriving. That's why they create it. That's why they create this like no feelings thing-- is because they want to make things sound. They want to make sure that time isn't lost or their relationship drifts. And you can do ALL of those things, and still have, your partner be able to be who they are.

Josh 20:08
So anything else you want to throw in here? What would you tell people? I mean, anything else you want to say?

Cassie 20:14
I mean, the the biggest thing is just recognizing that when you're at this sort of impasse that --this is one of the things that I tell our clients and people in our group all the time-- is if you're really stuck in this place where you're hurting, you're scared... go back to what matters the most. What matters to you the most? Is it things looking exactly the way that you plan them? Or is it finding a place where you can have a happy, thriving future with your partner?

Josh 20:48
And here's the other thing, I think I'd say to people just based on all the conversations I have here, which is, this is an easy place to get. We just talked about optimistic bias in our last... a couple episodes ago. This is an easy place to get delusionally optimistic, and to be like, "Well, we've been open before. How much harder can it be to shift into polyamory?" Very! Very hard. Again, this is this is basically the exact same level of difficulty that a monogamous person has moving into non-monogamy. And I think one place I see people get caught up is they see the challenges. They see the level of hurt and jealousy and fear. But they tell themselves, "Well it isn't that big a change. I shouldn't be afraid. I shouldn't be worried about the future. We shouldn't be arguing. We should just be able to get over this. We don't really need to do too much to make that happen." And that's an incredibly dangerous thing, because the truth is, this is an enormous transition.

Cassie 21:49
Oh, yeah.

Josh 21:49
And it's one that, when people aren't equipped for it, usually winds up destroying the relationship. Just like it does for a monogamous person who's been monogamous, 30, 40, 50 years, now they're moving into non-monogamy. And they have no idea what to do, how to do it, how to make it work, how to come out the other side with their family. So I think the other thing that I'd say to you is, if you're finding yourself in this place, recognize what an enormous shift that is. And treat it with the level of seriousness and work and commitment that it requires to come out the other side. Because there is another side available to you. But it isn't an easy place to get. And if you go into it expecting it to be easy. That's when you wind up falling down. I mean, I don't know what else to say about that.

Cassie 22:41
Yeah, I think that-- I'm glad we hit that, because I do think that there is the people who fall on the side of being like, "Yeah, we can make this work. It's not a big deal." And not recognizing that there's a huge shift from just having sexual interactions with people to having full relationships and the emotions that come up. And, honestly, that the healing that has to happen from that place of feeling like those emotions coming in was a betrayal. Because that is also a big thing that people have to really grow through, is getting over that feeling that they were betrayed, or that an agreement was broken. And so it's one of those places that a lot of people will go, "Okay, well I did this. We can be okay." And aren't really preparing for the things that could actually happen.

Josh 23:31
So if you're in a place where that's where you're at, and you're stuck, and you need help with it, reach out, go to And you can apply for a call with us. Line up on our calendar. We'll hop on the phone for an hour, and it'll be the best hour you've spent on your relationships. And we'll talk step by step as to where you're at, what the obstacles are, what the game plan needs to be to make this transition successfully. So absolutely, positively, if you're in this place, and you're seeing it, and you're recognizing that it's serious, and you want to make sure you're coming out the other side, go to And we're happy to help. If you're not ready for a call yet but this is a place that you're finding yourself then what I'd really suggest that you do is go back and listen to our episodes on poly-mono relationships. They're going to be really helpful for you. And if you don't find yourself in this place at all, like this hasn't happened yet. But you're one of those people who has an agreement, where it's no feelings, then what you really need to do right now--don't wait for it to be a problem, because then it's much harder-- is to sit down and to make a new agreement. Not that is we're not going to catch feelings, but to make an agreement that's "If somebody does catch feelings, what are we doing next?" That will...

Josh 24:54
Here's the thing folks, that isn't gonna completely solve the problem if and when that does arise. But at least you'll be able to avoid the feeling of broken trust, and betrayal, and the spot that you now have absolutely no idea what to do next. So you need need need to shift that agreement, if that's one that you have in place. Anything else you want to say before we go?

Cassie 25:17
No, that sounds about sums it up.

Josh 25:19
All right, folks. Well have a great week. And we will see you all here very soon.

Josh 25:30
Thanks for tuning into today's show. We release new episodes every week. So make sure to subscribe.

Cassie 25:36
If you're ready to transform your relationship and you'd like to see if you're a fit to work with us, here's what I want you to do next: head over to and book an appointment to speak with our team. We'll get on the phone with you for about an hour and we'll get you crystal clear on three things-- what's really not working in your relationships, what your dream relationships would look like, and a step-by-step plan to close the gap and save your family even if nothing has worked before.

Josh 26:03
We talk with hundreds of non-monogamous folks like you every year. And here's the truth: building loving, thriving relationships-- that doesn't happen on its own. You need expert guidance to make that happen. And unfortunately, when you are building relationships outside the box, that's impossible to find and we get it. But that's exactly what we do. We've helped clients all over the world, save their families, get the passion back and become best friends again.

Cassie 26:27
So if you want to see if we can help you do the same head over to I'm Cassie.

Josh 26:35
And I'm Josh. Let's talk soon.