We all know that there are rules and boundaries in an open relationship that need to be set to make things successful. With those rules come a particular set of expectations that also go with them, and our partners and ourselves need to be respectful of those that are set. Here are a few below that would be a good idea to start; know that those rules and boundaries may change as your relationship grows.
1. Figure Out How Much Time You’ll Spend With
Each PartnerFiguring out how much time you’ll spend with each partner is crucial to making everyone happy. Some people may be cool with just spending a day or two with you, whereas others may need a little more time and have a few more days a week. Equality isn’t the same as being fair, so setting certain days and times to ensure that everyone has the same amount of time that’s equal isn’t always going to work.
Ensuring that you and your partners agree on what kind of activities you’re doing as well while in an open relationship and spending time doing them is critical. This makes sure that you’re not only meeting the needs of your current partners but making sure that you’re meeting your own needs as well. Going out on date nights with a new beau or having date nights with a current partner are things you should consider when parsing out time spent.
2. Make Sure to Establish Who It’s Okay to Be With
Making sure that you’re comfortable with who your partner is going to be with and vice versa is essential to making sure that everyone is comfortable and happy in their situation. You want to make sure that the person that your partner is spending time with is someone that you’re satisfied with bringing into your home (if that’s something you’re okay with) and that anyone that you bring into the home is someone that your partner(s) is comfortable with as well.
Jealousy may rear its head in this case, and so it’s essential to communicate about this before anything starts or anyone takes on any extra relationships. Communication is crucial to any part of any relationship, so you want to make sure that you’re open about this entirely before starting anything new.
3. Emotional Boundaries
Emotions are a cruel mistress sometimes, and we bow to their whim if we’re not careful. Jealousy, fear, anger, and negative emotions can affect our relationships if we let them fester without talking about them with our partner(s). Make sure that you’re setting emotional boundaries with your partner(s) and talking about what your needs are and theirs so that you can make sure that all expectations are met.
Having someone who’s not comfortable in a relationship or not feeling like their needs are being met is never a good situation. Two questions to ask your partner and yourself are: Can you have sex with someone else without falling in love with them or having an emotional attachment? And if you do, how will you deal with this, or how will you and your partner deal with the situation?
4. Sexual Boundaries
This probably should be number one on the list. However, every rule is just as important as the other in being put in place. Partners should ask themselves whether or not they can deal with outside relationships or only relationships that are within their circle and which are long-standing. Some couples have a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell, while others want to know everything that’s going on.
No matter what your policy is, make sure that you set the rules on this, set rules on using protection, what’s not seen as being comfortable or acceptable, and what is seen as acceptable. That way, you’re not just throwing all negative rules out there. Not everyone responds well to being told what they can’t do without a few positive notes thrown in there.
5. Be Honest
Communication is an absolute must when dealing with any relationship, let alone an open relationship where you have multiple people involved. There should be nothing too taboo or too uncomfortable that can be talked about, and there should be nothing that needs to fester when something isn’t seen as fair or right.
Making sure that you’re honest, not only with yourself but your partner as well, will have the best outcomes for your relationship, and in the end, you’ll all be happier for it. Having a turbulent relationship will end in heartache and leave everyone wondering if you weren’t honest about your feelings, about just what went wrong.
6. Don’t Forget About Your Main Relationship
Most people, but not all, go into an open relationship with a partner already attached. This is common and shouldn’t be something that holds people back from pursuing an open relationship. There are a lot of couples out there that seek one and are happier for it. The key here is to make sure, though, that while you’re pursuing that secondary relationship with another person, not to neglect or forget that you had a bond with that partner first.
Ensure that you’re also tending to their needs and wants, don’t leave them hanging and wondering if they need to be worried that you’re checking out on them. Fear often enters relationships like this and can sometimes make people wonder if having another partner will pull their current partner away from them. Making sure to check in and spend time with your primary partner will not only reassure them, but keep that bond healthy, and the bond with anyone else strong as well.
Checking in often is a good rule to have when having an open relationship. As mentioned above, communication is a crucial component of any relationship. Checking in will not only ensure that you’re making sure that everyone is okay but make sure that you’re okay as well. Ensure that you’re honest with yourself and those around you, and if one of your rules in your relationship is no longer working, or a boundary has been crossed, that needs to be addressed.
Don’t leave check-ins until you think something is wrong though, make these often and make sure they’re meaningful. Talk about things as they come up rather than in one big group session, and if there are things that aren’t quite right, make sure that you’re addressing them with “I” statements and not “you” statements as most people don’t respond well to being handled that way.
No matter the rules that you put into place within your relationship, making sure that you follow them and the boundaries are crucial to ensuring that you’re safe, happy, and content with where you are. Having these rules there isn’t for keeping you or your partner in check; they’re there to ensure that everyone knows what everyone’s acceptable range is regarding relationships and how to treat one another respectfully.