An open relationship is not for everyone but monogamy is not right for everyone either. Every individual and everyone in a committed relationship should have the right to choose for themselves.
Although there are many types of open relationships, it is generally defined as a couple in a committed partnership who decides that they want to allow the other to create relationships outside the two of them. It might be sexual relationships only or they may allow for emotional connections, too.
If you’ve been thinking of opening up your relationship to include more people than just the two of you, you’ve likely been wondering how you know if it is right for you. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide if you are ready to have an open relationship.
#1 You Already Communicate Well
Communication and openness are major foundations of an open relationship. If you have problems communicating with your partner now, you might want to work on that first.
Without good communication skills, an open relationship can go bad fast. You will find that it causes more problems than you had before. Opening up your relationship with other people is not an easy fix to any of your current problems.
You will have to talk to each other (and your new partners) about things like time and schedules, feelings, jealousy, and misunderstandings. No matter how much time you spend talking about the potential of an open relationship before it happens, there will be issues and concerns that you don’t anticipate.
If you don’t talk to each other often and as issues arise, the problems will only get bigger. One or the other will have hurt feelings if misunderstandings are not discussed right away.
Talking about problems can be uncomfortable but if you don’t talk about them, they will only get bigger.
#2 You Have To Be Independent
Some couples are naturally independent. They don’t need to spend all their time with their partner and they don’t need to know where their significant other is all the time.
If you open up your relationship to other people, whether it is in polyamory or swinging, or another form of ethical non-monogamy, you will inevitably begin to spend more time apart. If you already have a hard time when your partner does things without you, an open relationship is not going to make it easier.
#3 There Must Be Trust
Partners in an open relationship have to put a large amount of trust in each other. You have to trust that they will talk to you if they have issues with something you have done or the boundaries you’ve set for your open relationship.
You have to trust that your partner will tell you the truth if you ask them about something. If your partner is having sex with someone outside of your relationship and you are not part of it, you have to trust them to follow the sexual safety rules that you’ve set for your relationship.
Without established trust, you might find yourself constantly questioning your partner. This will cause a rift between the two of you that may not be able to be repaired!
#4 You Should Have Set Boundaries
Boundaries are different than rules. Rules are guidelines that determine what you and other people (including your spouse and your partners and their partners) can or can’t do. Boundaries are your limitations.
Rule: We must all use condoms with every person we have sex with.
Boundary: I will not have sex without condoms with anyone who does not always use condoms with other people.
This is something that is personal. You can’t control other people and what they do but you can control what you will do.
In the example above, you can’t make a rule for other people. If you do, no matter how much it makes sense to you and how important it is, they may simply decline to tell you the truth. Instead, you can set the boundary. If you make it clear that this is your boundary and it doesn’t end the relationship, they are more likely to be honest with you.
When your boundary is that you won’t have sex without a condom with someone who chooses to have sex without condoms with other people, you just make sure that you have condoms and that you always use them. This is something you can control.
It’s important to understand that every individual has the right to decide their own boundaries. This includes your committed partner.
Start With The Basics
If you and your partner want to have an open relationship, start with these basics. Make sure you can communicate with each other well. Get used to doing things separately, as you make time to be together, as well. Ask yourself if you have had trust issues in the past and if you have, how have you learned to trust each other since then.
Talk about your personal boundaries. Make sure that you can communicate and respect those boundaries together.
Once these four basic parts of your relationship are solid, you might decide that an open relationship can work for you. Then you can move on to talking about other parts of opening your relationship, like what kind of open relationship you want to have.