Opening Up A Relationship

October 16, 2017 4 min read

An open relationship is an umbrella term for anything that isn't strict monogamy. Different people might approach non-monogamy in different ways. Just like there isn't one way to have pleasurable sex, there's no one "right" way to have an open relationship.

Some people are simply never happy in monogamy and will end up always cheating, no matter how deeply committed to their partners they are. Some people might fall in love with someone who doesn't share a crucial fetish they need to be truly satisfied. Some people simply need the partnership and love of several individuals. I can give dozens of examples but the point is that some people operate better in open relationships. It doesn't mean anything is 'wrong' with them just because most of the society has raised us to believe monogamy is the way to go, it just means some people need to be in open relationships.

If you'd like to try it and you're single, that's the easy scenario.
Simply approach every new connection with complete openness, explaining you're seeing multiple people and the ones that will reply positively will already be on board with the idea and sometimes will also have more experience and will be able to help you navigate your first steps in the world of non-monogamy.

The tricky part is if you're already in a monogamous relationship and you're starting to realise this might not be the right path for you. If you love your partner and don't want to break up or ruin the relationship, but also can't see yourself remaining sexually or emotionally faithful, bringing up opening the relationship might be the correct next step for you.

Talking about this topic with your partner can be one of the scariest conversations you'll have, but can also be very liberating. If this is something you truly want, ethical non-monogamy can be rewarding and empowering. It can expand your boundaries and broaden your emotional horizons and if your partner fell for you to begin with, you probably share more than just your taste in TV shows and they're probably going to be open to at least talking about the idea and finding a solution that works for both of you.

A few things to keep in mind:

Find concrete agreements

The concept of an open relationship can mean different things. To you, it might mean you want to be in committed relationships with several people, to your partner it might mean that if they're at a party and they saw someone cute, they can make out without any guilty feelings but they'll be devastated if you'll attempt to find a second partner.
So before you rush to open a new tinder account, be sure you're both on the same page, and that you're ok with each other's desires and wishes.

Talk openly and honestly

Be sensitive when discussing it, but make sure you're clear when explaining what you need and want, and why you want to try it. If you try and hide things, or tell half-truths, it will end up hurting your relationship in the long run.
Introducing hard truths that make you vulnerable is a way to get closer, a way to set a solid foundation and if you come out of it stronger, you'll know you can come to each other with anything, no matter how uncomfortable and difficult it is to talk about.

Take your time and be fair

It might take getting used to, it might cause some issues and you or your partner might get hurt until you figure out a way to do non-monogamy that works for both of you.
Start with talking about what you're comfortable with, set some rules you both agree to follow and take baby steps from there and make sure to talk about the process.
Read literature by people that tried it before you, talk to other couples you know or friends of friends that are in successful open relationships and use advise to tailor make what works for you.
It's extremely hard, but try and leave ego out of it.
Is it easier for your partner to get new dates? Congratulate them and be happy for them, it's not a competition but an attempt to be a part of the open 

lifestyle you desire, give it time.

Revisit your agreements

Even if you've both agreed on some basic rules, remember that it's your partner and your relationship, you can open anything up again for discussion and change any rule if you realise over time that it's not making you happy.

Be sincere

An open relationship isn't a way to save a dying relationship. It's about being happy in your partner's ability to enjoy other people, just as they will be happy for you when you meet someone you like. It's still is a partnership, it still requires trust, open communication, and honesty and it doesn't work unless you have a good base. It's not a personal journey, it's about both of you! Mutuality and respect are key in making it work.

Laura Patrick
« Laura is a freelance writer visual artist and science nerd. She is passionate about self development and personal growth and spends most of her free time reading scientific papers about the human experience and summarising them so that you won't have to. » All posts →