Open Relating, otherwise known as Roy Graff, is a polyamorous relationship coach and counsellor. He works with couples, individuals and groups on having more open-minded and conscious connections with one another. He has 10 years experience in polyamorous relationships and often with those who are interested in non-monogamous lifestyles.

How did you become a polyamorous relationship coach?

I was working in the tourism industry for over 20 years, and was doing quite well in that field. Then in the last 10 or so years I started to explore kink and polyamory. I started running workshops around those subjects, mostly just as a hobby. 

When Covid struck, the whole tourism industry obviously stopped. I started training and enrolling in online classes in sex therapy. I started a course in psychotherapy, which I recently completed so I’m a qualified counsellor.

I trained in things like radical honesty, wheel of consent, things like that which helped shift my paradigm around communication in relationships. And that coupled with my own personal choice to practise polyamory means that I have had a lot of relationship experience. 

So the way it started was by me posting content on Instagram and people reaching out to me and asking for 1:1 coaching. So I completely stopped working in tourism and did this for real. I don’t work solely with people interested in polyamory but I that is largely my clientele. So that’s my journey to being a polyamorous relationship coach. 

 

 

We often choose to have sex when we want other things, especially men. Men don’t know how to ask for just cuddles or just to be held. They don’t know how to get non-sexual touch. So they just go straight for sex to feel love.

 

 

Tell us more about your kink journey.

I discovered kink and polyamory in my early 40s, but up until that point I wasn’t in the scene at all. I was monogamous and my sex life could be described as pretty vanilla. I did have fantasies, but I suppressed them as I thought they were bad because they involved bdsm.

Having partners who actually desired those fantasies, was a massive revelation for me and totally changed the way I approached physical intimacy with people. One important thing for me was to really ask myself that question, ‘why do I have sex?’ It’s a question I often focus on with my clients as a polyamorous relationship coach.

We often choose to have sex when we want other things, especially men. Men don’t know how to ask for just cuddles or just to be held. They don’t know how to get non-sexual touch. So they just go straight for sex to feel love. I also used to do that. Decoupling those things means that now when I have sex, I have it because I really want to have sex. And that way, it feels a lot more freeing, there’s no weird feelings after, and throughout I feel connected to myself and my partner. 

 

My mission as a polyamorous relationship coach is to help people relate to each other out of love rather than out of fear, and to help people connect in a more conscious way.

 

Do you have a mission as a polyamorous relationship coach?

I met a few men at some festivals recently who have been on the same journey as me, questioning whether they want monogamy and being curious to explore other less conventional sides of sex. Most of my clients at the moment are women or non-binary people, which also I think is indicative of how hard men find it to even ask for help with this kind of thing. Women also have a wider support network of friends to talk about sex with outside of their sexual partner, whereas many men don’t have that. 

My mission as a polyamorous relationship coach is to help people relate to each other out of love rather than out of fear, and to help people connect in a more conscious way. Specifically with men, it’s about helping them find the emotional vocabulary to communicate their needs, and also guiding them through the process of owning their own insecurities rather than expecting their partner to do all of that emotional labour for them.

By doing that, they can be vulnerable without it being seen as weakness. Another stigma is that vulnerability = weakness, but in reality it takes a lot of strength to be vulnerable. 

What does a session with Open Relating look like?

Initially I see people for free for 30 minutes, so that we can both decide whether we want to work with each other.  As a polyamorous relationship coach I see couples, individuals, triads, so the dynamics depend on that. With coaching, in the first session, we identify what they want to work on, and I listen to them and see if I can pick up on any patterns.

Then I decide which route would be the best for them to go down out of coaching or counselling. With coaching, my goal is for them to eventually be able to coach themselves, so they don’t need me anymore. 

 

Who is your typical client?

Because of my polyamorous life, I tend to coach a lot of people who are somewhere in their non-monogamy journey and are struggling with aspects of that. Often it’s couples who are considering opening up their relationship and they want to know how to navigate it so that the relationship remains strong and healthy.

Sometimes it’s a couple in the middle of the open relationship who have hit a block and don’t know how to move forward. One important thing that I explain to couples is that you have to work on yourselves as individuals first before you come together to work on your relationship.

 

What is the main piece of advice you would give to a couple considering non-monogamy?

I think the main thing is to know how to communicate, and just keep doing it all the time. In a non-monogamous relationship, communication is even more important than in a monogamous one. Checking in with each other to talk about what you’re doing and making sure the other partner is okay with it.

If I have a fear of talking about an issue because I’m worried about how my partner might react, that is a sure sign for me that I need to talk about it, because if I’m not I’m essentially manipulating my partner by withholding information. Because that information could change how they behave towards me. So I need to trust my partner, and give them that information so they can make informed decisions themselves. 

 

What do you think about monogamy?

The relationships I have with my partners look very similar to what a monogamous relationship looks like. We know each other very well, we do things together, it’s romantic. Of course I don’t see each person as much as I would if it was a monogamous relationship. 

The reason I care about polyamory, and why many other polyamorous relationship coaches do what they do is because most people don’t know that there are other options than monogamy. And for many people there might be a small voice inside of them that feels monogamy isn’t for them, but they think that’s the only acceptable route to a romantic relationship so they stick at it.

It’s about educating people and showing them other options, so they can at least try, and then see what works for them. Monogamy is still great too- it’s easier, there’s less to navigate and it’s less time consuming. I see monogamy and polyamory as an orientation, and after trying both out, you will know which one is your natural inclination.

 

Since being a polyamorous relationship coach, I can see that there has been so much socialisation to see polyamory as a bad thing. We’re made to think that seeing your partner with another person means that you’re failing, or that you’ve been replaced. This is why so many people are scared of polyamory.

 

How has your life changed since embracing your polyamorous self?

It’s changed so many times, in so many ways over the last 10 years. When I discovered it there was this massive eureka moment, and I learnt this whole new world. And now I’m so much more open in general- be it telling my friends that I love them or trying new experiences that I would’ve previously not considered. 

Especially in the last 5 years where I found the type of relating that works to me, which is solo polyamory, I have felt very joyful and centred, because I’ve had beautiful relationships with no drama, and most of all, because I know that this is an expression of my true authentic self, which I couldn’t really express before. 

 

Are your partners also polyamorous?

I can see anybody. I can see monogamous people as well. It doesn’t have to be strict like that. You can also be polyamorous as an orientation, in other words, you might know that you have the capacity to love more than one person at the same time, but you can choose to be in a monogamous relationship, maybe because you’re content like that for that moment or because you’re super busy and don’t want the stress of other relationships. 

 

What’s a common misconception about polyamorous relationships?

Since being a polyamorous relationship coach, I can see that there has been so much socialisation to see polyamory as a bad thing. We’re made to think that seeing your partner with another person means that you’re failing, or that you’ve been replaced. This is why so many people are scared of polyamory.

And that fear is valid, because that’s what you’ve been told your entire life. But recognising what is a socially imposed narrative and what it is that you really want, and separating those two things, can be a beautiful experience. 

 

On your Sensuali profile, you offer a play fighting experience. Tell us more.

I also teach consent workshops, and play fighting is part of that. Consent is normally taught in a verbal sense of being able to communicate what you want, but for some people this doesn’t always work- they might be frozen in the moment, there might be a clash between what their mind wants and what their body is saying to them.

Or sometimes people are afraid to reject the other person. So play fighting is a light-hearted practice, a bit like how you would fight with your sibling when you were younger. It’s a more physical exercise in a safe space to understand your body and how it responds when you do or don’t want something. 

 

There are so many sex-positive groups in London that don’t know about the existence of each other and it would be great to integrate these groups more via a bigger platform such as Sensuali.

 

Do you struggle with anything in your own relationships?

Sometimes I have to stop myself from being in ‘therapist mode’ with my partners. I also learnt that as a man, I used to be very solutions driven in relationships. A partner would come to me with a problem, and I would offer solutions  (which they already had thought of anyway), when in reality all they wanted was someone to listen and comfort them. So now, I have learnt to ask what my partners need from me in those situations. 

 

What is your favourite thing about being a polyamorous relationship coach?

I get to go really deep inside the hearts and heads of people. I love all of the different people that I work with- as a polyamorous person the variety really keeps me energised. 

 

What do you think about Sensuali?

Expanding beyond London will be great. Creating more physical events, because I think Sensuali is about creating a community and human connection, so I think meeting people in-person is vital for that. There are so many sex-positive groups in London that don’t know about the existence of each other and it would be great to integrate these groups more via a bigger platform such as Sensuali.

 

Check out upcoming events by the polyamorous relationship coach, Open Relating

Sign up to Sensuali today to find sex and relationship coaches and other polyamorous experiences. 

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Iso

Iso

Author

Iso is a writer and filmmaker based in East London. She is passionate about all things erotic and leads a sexy, shame-free life in hope that she can inspire others to do the same. Originally from a Northern seaside town, she is naturally drawn to the best things in life: candyfloss, trashy karaoke bars and heart-shaped sunglasses.


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