Don’t all attack me at once! I said it, open relationships!
They are probably one of the greatest things since sliced bread, if I do say so myself. The best part is that they totally work with the right partner.
In fact, many couples use the form of an open relationship to keep their bonds going strong long after the lustful honeymoon phase has ended (just look at Will and Jada Smith).
Also, many people who start out in an open relationship come to solidify themselves as a monogamous couple or move onto another/other partner(s) who suit them the best.
What is an Open Relationship?
No, an open relationship is not polygamy or polyamory. And it is definitely not cheating or considered an affair!
It’s also not friends with benefits. We’ve covered everything an open relationship is not, so what is it then?
An open relationship occurs when a couple decides to have relationships outside of their partnership or marriage.
These can be emotional on a very small scale, but open relationships tend to be exclusively sexual in nature. Usually emotional relationships outside of monogamy tend to fall under the polyamory umbrella.
Those in an open relationship must carefully consider the communication with and permission of their spouse or partner.
Why Does Someone Choose an Open Relationship?
There are endless reasons why an open relationship might be the best situation for someone.
Here’s a few examples:
- Katie just got out of a bad relationship where her partner controlled her every move. She wants to feel free to do what she wants without the constraints of a monogamous lifestyle, and her partner totally understands.
- Todd and his husband have been married for over ten years and his spouse has experienced health issues that prevent them from having sex. Todd’s husband feels emotionally secure enough to be okay with Todd getting his sexual needs met through someone else.
- Jen is lesbian, while her partner Leah is bi-sexual. The women have an agreement that Leah can have sex with men every now and again.
- Summer and Brian just started dating. They only feel emotional attraction to each other, but are sexually attracted to other people. They agree that they can have sex outside of their relationship as long as they don’t catch feelings for other people beyond the bedroom.
Let’s Talk Consent in an Open Relationship
Notice the common thread between the above scenarios? What is it that makes these arrangements considered open?
The partners all had agreements or understandings.
They had at some point communicated their needs to one another and gave permission for their partners to seek sex outside of their relationship.
If you are seeking an open relationship setup, your lover must be privy to the fact you’ve got other lovers. You need to keep up this open line of communication to prevent jealousy. If something changes and you begin to connect with your other partners or hook-ups on an emotional level, your partner needs to know ASAP.
If you meet someone new whom you plan to have sex with, tell your partner (unless they absolutely don’t want to know). If you don’t, you are technically cheating.
An Open Relationship from the Start
Did you just meet someone you really like? Or maybe you’ve known them for a while, but things are starting to shift between you two? Thinking of making it official with a title for your relationship?
Well, if your idea is to have this new thing be an open relationship, you have to tell them NOW!
They might be all for it, or they could be totally against it. It’s not fair to get settled into a partnership only to have that nice cozy rug ripped out from under you, so don’t be that guy/gal/person.
So, you’ve got them on board. Now, what!? Skip ahead to the “Tips for Making an Open Relationship Last” section of this article.
Changing from a Monogamous Relationship to an Open Relationship
There are so many reasons a committed partnership might need to switch to a non-monogamous approach that I won’t even begin to give you examples.
Whatever your reasoning, your partner has to agree.
Cheating is not cool, and an open relationship is not a license to have affairs. You need to start with an open-minded (no pun intended) conversation about why you are ready for this change and to listen to where your partner stands in the idea.
Once you’re both all in, you can move onto the “How to Make an Open Relationship Last” section of this article.
If you decide you’re not ready for an open relationship, PinkCherry has many wonderful options to help you achieve a healthy sex life together.
How To Make an Open Relationship Last (+ 5 Things to Consider)
1. Make a written agreement
Make an agreement and write it down if you must. Discuss any person or activities that are strictly off-limits.
For instance, bringing your hookup home to the house versus grabbing a hotel room could be the end of your relationship or marriage.
2. The ex
Another thing to consider is exes!
You probably don’t want to have sex with any of your own exes or any of your partner’s exes (anyone else hear Taylor Swift’s “Trouble” playing? Just me?).
3. Get your feelings under control
Be ready to put your feelings aside. Jealousy is bound to pop up unless you’re a super-chill person.
The idea of sharing your partner with someone else can certainly strike a nerve, and if your partner is the one doing the sharing you need to remember to dispel any worries that arise.
4. Up your sexual health game
Take care of your sexual health!
Use protection, and not just the pill. You should be actively using condoms every time you have sex with someone outside of your committed partnership.
With all the different condom options offered by PinkCherry, there’s really no excuse.
Bringing home an STI to your spouse or partner is one of the worst things that can happen unless you’re both very understanding.
Still, even condoms are not 100% guaranteed to prevent STIs, so get regular checks for a clean bill of health before and after seeing someone new.
5. Consider the long term effects
Lastly, consider the long-term effects of going through an open relationship.
There are certain things in a marriage or dating arrangement that leave lasting scars and baggage that might never get unpacked.
It’s important to keep up on your communication if you decide you want to go back to being monogamous. It’s okay to try new things, just proceed with caution if you are not positively sure an open relationship is the right thing for you.