Festivalling In Partnership: A Guide for Couples

WORDS: Lauren DeGaine

LEAD IMAGEThird Eye Arts

Part 1 of Festivals In Relation, our article covering intimacy within the festival environment. Betty and Kora talks with professional relationship coach, Mel Mariposa Cassidy – founder of Radical Relationship Coaching, writer of the blog, Polysingleish, and co-founder of the Consent Crew. Read Part 2, “Getting Frisky at Festivals: A Guide for Going Solo,” here!

“You’re going into Wonderland, and the rules that apply in the default world don’t apply anymore.”

Mel and I begin our chat by talking about the freedom of the festival world: You don’t have to be in bed by a certain time, you don’t have work the next day, you can wear all these crazy outfits — essentially, we’re throwing out a lot of the rules of daily life.

So naturally, the question arises: “What about my relationships?” Join us in exploring the kinds of challenges that might arise!


Photo via Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival


Festivals put us under a lot of stress: the sun is hot, you might not be sleeping great, your diet is often very different, you may be taking drugs… all of that can affect your body chemistry and increase the amount of stress you have.

The environment can accentuate the things that, at home, you might miss or brush aside.

Because of the altered states and sleep deprivation and over-stimulation, the little things can suddenly become really big, and they have the potential to trigger our core wound stories. Things like fear of abandonment, being replaced, and not being good enough.


Photo: AllieKat Photography via Bass Coast


You go to a festival with a partner and see this whole other side to them. They are a fully expressed being! It’s almost like you’re meeting and falling in love with a new person. When that happens, the festival ends up holding a very special place in your heart.

But there can be a shadow side to this! What if you get back to the default world and find that you miss that person your partner briefly transformed into?

How can you support each other in re-creating that kind of experience, post-festival?


Photo: The Real Matt Love at Tall Tree

In coupledom, it’s easy to get into a rhythm. There are lots of ways to have a healthy rhythm, but sometimes it can lead to unhealthy co-dependency.

“In a festival environment,” Mel explains, “the rhythm of a relationship can get knocked completely off-balance. It’s kind of like driving someone else’s car: it takes a moment to get used to.” This can highlight where there’s things you’ve been ignoring, creating difficulties in the way you relate to your partner.

All these things can either be a huge challenge that rocks the relationship, or it can be an opportunity to connect and grow.


Photo: Patrick Latter Photography via Bass Coast


Several of Mel’s clients have come to her after a festival where they decided to open up their relationship without researching or discussing it ahead of time.

Part of festival magic is the exploration of things you might not feel you have permission to explore elsewhere. There is this experience of a big opening up caused by the influx of new music, new people, new experiences. You might think, “Maybe I want to try having an open relationship!”


Photo: Jeff Cruz Photographer via Shambhala Music Festival

Usually, Mel says, the new relationship style works great for a little while. But if the partners didn’t take time to think about their boundaries or agreements, it can end up becoming a disaster. “Sometimes folks don’t understand their core motivations for opening up the relationship,” says Mel.

“Non-Monogamy works for some people, and is every bit as valid a relationship style as monogamy. If it feels healthy for you, your partner, and your relationship- go for it!However, making a big change like this in the midst of the altered experience of festival-world can be messy, heart-wrenching and super challenging.


Photo: Tinka Kalajzic via Atmosphere Gathering


No, wait!!! We’re just about to get to the good stuff. AKA, “How can I make sure I have an amazing experience with my partner at a festival?!”


Photo via Shambhala Music Festival

The biggest one is also the most obvious: TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND DESIRES BEFOREHAND!

(You know, so you don’t have to have the conversation when you are sleep-deprived and high.)

What do you want to get out of the festival, what acts do you want to see, what experiences do you want to have, what are you both open to, and what experiences do you want to have separately?


Mel made us an infographic!!!

It’s a good relationship skill to be okay with the fact that you have different desires.

“It doesn’t mean you’re not compatible,” says Mel. If going to your first festival together is a milestone for your relationship, try not to get caught up in the romanticization of the “Idyllic Festival Experience.” The expectation that you have to do everything together might make you forget that part of the fun of festivals is being able to run wild and free.

“Running wild and free doesn’t necessarily mean running wild and free with someone else,” Mel reminds us, “It’s simply the desire to have an experience.”

FIP 11

Photo: Third Eye Arts via Bass Coast

*Pro Tip!* Know how to do some self-soothing while your partner is doing something else: craft a unique experience for yourself, spend time with friends, go on a solo adventure!

One of Mel’s suggestions (and a personal favorite of mine) is to pick a night that’s going to be DATE NIGHT! Dance together, wear matching onesies, decided how you want to spend the morning together afterwards.

Then, have the freedom to go with the flow the other days. Sometimes taking some space can bring you closer together. It can also allow you the opportunity to process your experience!

FIP 12

Photo: Leah Gair Photography via Shambhala

Mel sums it all up for us by adding, “Going to a festival with a partner is a modern day relational ‘rite of passage’ and can be an enriching experience that you may come to look back on with joy for many years to come. You and your partner both have the ability to make it as special and magical as you’d like it to be!”


Mel Mariposa Cassidy. Photo: Joffrey Photo

Special thanks to our expert consultant, Mel Mariposa Cassidy. Please feel free to contact Mel for a coaching session if you want to dive deeper into any of the subjects presented in this article.

Now get out there and have a frisky time, you sexy lovebirds, you! XOXO, Betty and Kora.

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  1. Getting Frisky at Festivals: A Guide for Going Solo – A Music Festival Blog

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