If you're asking this question, then perhaps you're having some doubts about whether you want to get into the lifestyle, or maybe you have a bump in the road with your current partners. No matter the situation, here are a few reasons that open relationships can work with patience, time, and effort.
How do People That Are in Open Relationships Make it Work?
Communication is vital in any relationship, and open relationships are no different. When dealing with just one partner, it isn't easy to communicate sometimes, and when dealing with multiple partners, you can run into roadblocks that often need to be addressed.
Making sure that you're able to do this positively without using "You" statements such as "You do this…" is an excellent way to open communication lines. Instead, use "I" statements such as "I feel uncomfortable in this situation when…" and likely your partner(s) will feel more comfortable talking instead of going on the defensive.
Rules and Boundaries
Rules and boundaries are other things essential to open relationships. Most people are in them know this already. However, it doesn't hurt to have a refresher or a reminder. If you're new, going into a polyamorous relationship, make sure you sit down and feel what your needs and wants are beforehand. That way, there are no surprises along the way, just development, and growth.
That's thinking in a perfect world, and there will be some surprises, but thinking ahead about what rules and boundaries you have, such as "make sure you use condoms/protection with all partners," is essential for the health and happiness of everyone involved.
Living arrangements can be odd at first when you're starting. Not knowing quite how to live with one other person in a couple is hard enough as it is, but when you bring multiple people into the household that are living there with likes and dislikes, different incomes, different needs and wants, there's a need to make sure that everyone is comfortable.
If you have kids involved, it's even more important to make sure you're living in a home-based on comfort, acceptance, education, love, and mutual respect. Some have separate rooms for each individual; some have the same place for the partner(s), and those that live separately apart from each other altogether. No matter how you decide to live, ensure that, everyone agrees.
Keeping Your Jealousy In Check
Jealously is human, and it will probably rear its head in any relationship that you have no matter the situation. Keeping this in check is essential, and making sure that you talk about it when it comes up is vital. Letting something like this fester isn't right for you or anyone else involved, and it needs to be addressed. Sometimes, this isn't an issue for some partners, but it might be for others who seek more time with one partner than another or have sex with one partner over another.
Ensure that quality of time is spent together and don't worry so much about the quantity of time. Some partners may be OK with having 2-3 days a week with you, whereas others may need that other 4-5 days to feel it satiates their needs. Equal doesn't mean the same as fair.
This is important in any relationship, no matter your status, sexual orientation, or stage of the journey you're in. Open relationships require people to be just that… open. Open to compromise, open to communication, open to just about everything that the relationship has to offer, within reason.
Compromising doesn't mean giving up on rules and boundaries; however, it just means coming to a respectful conclusion with your partner(s) in certain situations where everyone might not agree. That way, everyone is happy with the outcome; there are no hurt feelings, jealousy, or other problems that arise.
Dealing With Fear
Often those within open relationships, if they had a partner, came into it with a fear that they will lose their partner to the other. This is a normal reaction, but it can be overcome with support and kindness on your partners' part. Communicate with them about your feelings and make sure you address the issue.
Sometimes the fear is a loss of intimacy as if the other partner will end up loving or gravitating towards the other partner more rather than them. No matter what type of relationship you're in, you must deal with uncertainties and deal with your fears and resistances to situations that arise. Communication is key to helping you and your partner(s) stay in touch and solve these issues before they become a real problem.
Be Ready For Change
People develop and change over time. There's just no getting around that. You will change and evolve over time; there's no getting around that either. You or your partners will not be the same people after 5, 10, or 20 years. Be prepared to adjust rules, boundaries, or anything else that you have going in your relationship and be malleable to that change so that everyone is happier with things. If you expect things to stay static, there will only be tension, resentment, and unhappiness once things change.
Remember That Arguments Are Normal
There are those out there that will boast that they never argue. Even a small discussion of disagreement is an argument. You need not have a dragged out knuckle bearing fight to have it considered one. If you're in a situation where there's an argument that just can't be resolved, consider a therapist or professional that can help you get through the problem rather than giving up or letting things fester.
There are organizations out there that will help you find educated, optimistic, knowledgeable, and sensitive professionals for every sexual orientation and relationship type. Use these to your advantage and communicate with both them and your partner what needs to be addressed and anything else that you feel might need to be discussed.
These are just a few things that help open relationships work. There are so many factors that go into them that there are just too many to go through. No matter your situation, your position in life, your place in your journey, there is always support, love, and acceptance if you reach out and look for it. More than likely, your partner(s) will be the first ones there to give it to you. There are plenty of support groups, therapists, and other professionals that will provide an extra hand, so use these resources throughout your relationship for a healthy one.