man and woman in an open relationship

If you have ever thought about being in an open relationship, you are not alone. Those types of relationships are becoming more accepted as a way of spicing up a monogamous relationship. But what does an open relationship really mean? Is it just a contemporary form of cheating?

What is an open relationship?

Open relationships are for individuals who already have a partner and want to have opportunities to date other people. The term “open relationship” can cause some people to feel uneasy. But, of course, it has different meanings for different couples. One reason for including other people in the partnership is that you might feel a sense of emptiness. Perhaps you love your partner, but you have also developed strong feelings for someone from your social circle.

Let’s face it; there are so many different types of people on the planet. How many romantic partners do you want to have in your life? You might be fully in love with your current partner, and they may be fully in love with you. However, if you feel like something is missing in your life and you would like to explore a unique romantic connection with someone else, having an open relationship might be the option. The most important thing is for you and your partner to set boundaries and discuss what it means for each of you.

Open relationships are for individuals who already have a partner and want to have opportunities to date other people. Click To Tweet

Open relationship vs. polyamory

You have probably heard of the term polyamory. If you think that a polyamorous relationship is the same as an open relationship, that is simply not true. An open relationship is usually defined as a primarily sexual arrangement. Polyamory is a relationship in which the people involved have genuine feelings for one another. Is that what you are looking for? Are you seeking one partner outside of your primary relationship for who you have deep feelings?

A polyamorous union is probably a more suitable arrangement for you if you are looking for a relationship with more of a ‘couples’ vibe than a ‘fling’ vibe. In a polyamorous relationship, you can have romantic dinners and watch fun movies while you cuddle together on the couch with a third party. You can expect to get a phone call or a text just because that person wants to check in with you. This type of relationship is not just focused on the physical aspect.

Open relationship vs. cheating

Cheating usually involves lies, secrets, and eventual jealousy when the truth comes out. Infidelity never feels nice, so an open relationship can help you or your partner fulfill the longing to be with someone else.

An open relationship is right for you when you want to explore dating other people in a consensual non-monogamy arrangement. Your needs can be met when all parties understand and agree on what is best for them.

Is an open relationship right for you?

couple kissing in a car

You need to examine your feelings and figure out why you want to be in this arrangement. Then, define your sexual boundaries, find out your partner’s boundaries, and be proactive about creating a community of trust with the others involved. There are definitely pros and cons to being in open relationships. You need to consider all of those before deciding to change the status of your current monogamous relationship.

Pros of open relationships

The benefits of an open relationship can be substantial. Even though many Hollywood movies have “happily ever after” scenarios, being with one person in a monogamous relationship for the rest of life is not everybody’s dream. In fact, the idea of never dating other people again can even be scary. However, open relationships can reassure you and your long-term partner that your sex and love lives will not get stale and boring.

An open relationship can give you a strong sense of fulfillment because you know that all of your relationship eggs, so to speak, are not all in one basket. What if things don’t work out with your main person? What if you stay with the wrong person and do not even know that they are not right for you? You’ve been with them for so long that you might have missed the signs that you are not an ideal match. Being in an open union will help you feel more confident about your ability to be versatile if the relationship will not work out with your primary partner.

Being in an open union will help you feel more confident about your ability to be versatile if the relationship will not work out with your primary partner. Click To Tweet

Cons of open relationships

As good as an open relationship can be, you need to be aware of the threats when you allow additional people to be part of your romantic relationship. Jealousy can be a huge problem if any of the partners involved develops deep resentment about sharing their growing love with the other partners in this setup.

Insecurity can make things ugly as well. At one point in the relationship, it might have seemed exciting to make a decision to try the open relationship option. You and your primary partner may have even felt proud and totally secure about venturing out into this path. However, feelings and needs can change. An open relationship can overly complicate things when all parties involved start feeling different emotions they never expected to feel.

You also need to consider that your friends and family may not be supportive if you share your scenario with them. There is a chance that your loved ones will find out about your open relationships even if you decide to be discreet about widening your love circle. Do you care about what others think? Then be prepared with a response when your aunt Mindy calls you frantically to report that she saw your significant other holding hands with another woman. How will you convince her that an open relationship is not the same thing as polygamy?

You need to consider that your relatives will not approve of your non-monogamous relationships, no matter how much you try to prove otherwise.

Open relationship rules

man an woman legs under the table

Agreeing on contraception, schedules, disclosure, and boundaries is the best thing you can do to ensure that your and your main partner’s idea of acceptable conduct matches. Here are the fundamental open relationship rules that you should follow.

1. Decide on the numbers

You need to decide how many people you want to be involved with within your non-monogamous sexual relationships. This is important because you need to agree on what will help you both achieve emotional and sexual satisfaction.

You might want to have one additional partner at maximum. In contrast, your partner might find that too limiting and want to explore dating a few other people simultaneously. Decide on what works best for both of you, and respect each others’ views. Never pressure your partner to do anything uncomfortable.

2. Keep safety a priority

You both obviously want sexual satisfaction for all parties involved in this, but you must make safe sex a priority. Establishing boundaries like using condoms during intimate encounters with other people is an excellent rule to develop to meet your safety needs. Agreeing to have regular monthly tests for sexually transmitted diseases is another good rule for you and your partner to demonstrate your willingness to protect each other.

When everybody involved agrees on the open relationship terms, consider signing a document outlining the rules about how you will all approach intimacy, safety, and boundaries.

When everybody involved agrees on the open relationship terms, consider signing a document outlining the rules about how you will all approach intimacy, safety, and boundaries. Click To Tweet

3. Never compare your partners

This is a delicate issue, but everyone involved in the open relationship needs to try their best not to discuss intimate details about the other person. One of the benefits of being a monogamous couple is that your secrets are usually safe with each other. Secrets in romantic relationships are not necessarily dark and dangerous. Still, there are some things that you may not want other people to know, such as your lover’s fetish of licking marshmallows from your navel.

Your primary partner may not like the thought of other people knowing all about the experiences that only the two of you share. So make a pact to keep the intimate details of your relationship strictly between the two of you. Doing so will help to ward off potential feelings of jealousy that could arise.

4. Decide on exclusive date nights

couple with a dog in front of fireplace

Even if you are thrilled with dating multiple people, you will still want to spend specific time with your primary partner. Those accustomed to seeing you in an exclusive relationship will expect to see you with the same person at events like birthdays, weddings, or family parties. Most likely, they will not accept that you bring different companions to places where you are usually accompanied by your long-term partner. Therefore, it is best to agree that only the two people in your primary relationship will attend those special occasions.

5. Verify your feelings

Just like the song about seasons changing, the emotions and needs of you and your partner might change. The desire to date and have intimate encounters with other people might diminish after you had an experience of what it is like to depart from monogamous relationships. Checking in with your mate weekly or biweekly will help you ensure that your boundaries are still realistic.

Suppose you both feel like jealousy is why you are having difficulty adjusting to this new arrangement. In that case, you need to reconsider your approach. If you realize that one or both of you is falling in love with your other companion, agree to be open to discussing your feelings.

6. Only date like-minded people

Explaining polygamy to people who do not believe in it can be frustrating. However, there are people out there who can handle non-monogamy. Those are the ones you and your partner should be seeking to start this chapter of your lives.

You might have your eye on dating someone with who you think you would connect, but what if that person does not believe in consensual non-monogamy? It is not your job to convince other individuals that your version of a relationship is best for everyone.

Some folks have goals of working with couples to keep the spark alive in their union, but most do not share that dream. Most men and women want to co-lead in their own partnership; they do not want to play a supportive role in the non-monogamous plan created by other couples. Connecting with those who are okay with the rules of your relationship arrangement will reduce potential feelings of jealousy.

It is not your job to convince other individuals that your version of a relationship is best for everyone. Click To Tweet

7. Keep your arrangement discreet

Some celebrity couples might be okay with letting the world know that they share their partners with others. Still, celebrities can hire publicists to form their public image. Inviting too many eyes to gaze at your consensual, non-monogamy lifestyle could cause discomfort. Please think twice about posting intimate details about your open relationship to your social media accounts. There is no need to invite the general public to speculate on whether or not you are practicing threesomes in this unconventional relationship that you are living through.

Ensure that everyone involved agrees to be discreet. That means no posting pictures, videos, or details of your consensual non-monogamy situation on any social media platform. As excited as you may be to explore open relationships, you need to remember that monogamous relationships are the norm.

Keeping your open relationship off social media will protect everyone involved from disapproval and potentially losing friendships with those who cannot accept your life choices.

8. Prioritize your family

Open relationships are not always family-friendly. What if you are asked to go on dates that interfere with your son’s soccer game schedules? Never disappoint your children for open relationships. In fact, it is probably best for you to shield your children from those relationships altogether. Your children may not understand open relationships the way that you and your primary partner do.

The way that children learn about relationships is by observing how their parents conduct themselves. Seeing the parents pursuing open relationships might confuse children who do not understand that it does not necessarily mean a family breakup.

Explaining the open relationship concept to young children can be really tricky. Therefore, it is best to describe your family as a strong unit first and foremost and never allow outside relationships to interfere with your family life.

It will take some time to establish the boundaries and determine how embracing an open relationship will look for you and your partner. Still, you can make it work and take your connection to the next level as long as the two of you mutually agree on the open relationship rules. Your relationship could even improve and open up in ways that you never thought possible.

Forming relationships with others who are willing to pursue the path of non-monogamy could be just what you both need. Being on this journey will be an adventure that will change your relationship dynamics. Be sure to communicate and show respect for one another at all times as you pursue the path of open relationships.

Akua is a Canadian born and raised girl with Caribbean roots. She is a journalist, actress, music teacher, performer, owner and marketer of 3 worldwide dating websites, as well as an independent Pure Romance business owner selling passion products for singles and couples.

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