An open relationship is defined as anything that’s consensually non-monogamous. For some couples, this means polyamory, but for others, it just refers to being in a primary relationship that allows for intimacy outside of the relationship. Each couple defines for themselves what the rules of their specific relationship are — and they can vary widely from couple to couple.
There are so many different types of open relationships. There can be multi-partner relationships between three or more partners, hybrid relationships in which one partner is non-monogamous but the other has chosen to be monogamous, and even swinging, in which partners engage in sexual activities with other couples for fun!
Thinking about asking your partner if they’re interested in an open relationship? Becoming non-monogamous can be tricky territory, so we’ve got some tips and tricks on how to best handle the conversation with your significant other.
Before you broach the subject with your bae, you’ve got to do some soul searching on your own. If you have problems with the relationship as it is, then opening it up won’t magically solve them.
You should be able to put into words why you want an open relationship, so you can properly explain it to your partner.
Make sure the time’s right.
The two of you should be alone and relatively stress-free, and you should make sure you have at least a few hours to talk everything out.
Emphasize that you’re committed to the relationship.
Help your partner understand that your desire for an open relationship doesn’t negate the feelings you have for them.
If this is going to work, both parties have to be on the same page—are you allowed to go on dates? Have physical relationships? These details need to be ironed out.
Consider having the conversation with a therapist.
Having a third party with you—a trained couple’s therapist—can help each of you see the other’s perspective as you discuss your options.
Think about your motivations.
If you’re only wanting an open relationship to escape your current one, then it might not be the right decision for you.
Remember that it won’t fix your problems.
If you already argue or fight a lot, an open relationship won’t fix your issues. You have to be a great communicator to make it work.
Consider the possibilities.
Talk through how you would approach the situation if, say, your significant other falls in love with someone else or if you struggle with jealousy.
Don’t use it as a transition to break up.
If you’re trying to leave the relationship, going into an open relationship is not the way to do it. Be upfront with your partner.
Be clear about boundaries.
For example, are you allowed to date other people, or just hook up? Do you want to know when they’re on a date with someone else?
Discuss the possibility of a trial period.
Instead of jumping right in, it might be beneficial to start with baby steps. You could agree to try it out for a few months and reevaluate afterward.
Get ready for lots of emotions.
This can get messy, so be ready with a therapist on hand, a good friend to vent to, or a journal to write in.
Communication is everything.
Be sure to check in with your partner regularly to express how you’re feeling.
Don’t pressure your partner.
You shouldn’t be pushy about your desire for an open relationship. Ultimatums don’t work. Be open and kind with your suggestion.
Explain the benefits to them.
And not just the benefits on your end—if you understand your partner’s desires, then you should be able to explain how an open relationship could work for them.
Reassure your significant other that it’s not about them.
They might feel as if they’re not enough, so be sure to let them know that it’s not about them; it’s about the type of relationship you want.
Emphasize the strength of your relationship.
Your partner might be afraid that you’ll leave them for someone else, so you should assure them that your bond is strong and you’re still committed to them.
It’s important to keep the health of everyone involved in mind, so be sure to make a plan as to how you’ll prevent STIs.
Check in with friends who have been there.
Have a friend who’s been in an open relationship? Ask them for advice before you take the plunge.
It might take some time for your partner to get used to the idea, and you shouldn’t try to rush them.
Bring up a success story.
If you’ve got someone in your life who’s in a successful open relationship, share this with your partner as an example to emulate.
Spend time with like-minded couples.
Take it a step further and take time to hang out with people who are in open relationships, so you and your partner can pick their brain for advice.
Explain why you think it’ll be beneficial for you.
It’s important that your partner really understands the reasons why you want an open relationship and how it’ll make you happy.
Honesty is everything, especially when you’re considering making such a drastic change to your relationship.
Remember that making a lifestyle change isn’t easy.
You have to be patient with your significant other, because shifts like this won’t happen overnight. Give them time to process everything.
You should never pressure your partner to do something they don’t want to do. If you have different visions of the future, it might be time to go your separate ways.
Consider your future emotions.
Try to predict what emotions might surface when you open up your relationship so you can address them in advance.
Remind them why you love them.
It’s important to emphasize your feelings for your partner and express how much you value them since this conversation can bring up insecurities.
Remember that a healthy relationship takes many forms, and no two relationships are the same.
Got a friend who’s interested in an open relationship? Be sure to share this article with them on Facebook.