Love is a powerful emotion. It can brighten your world, make the colors seem more vivid, cause you to feel warm and fuzzy, and can even make you ache when you’re away from the one you love. So, what happens when your partner is getting the warm, and fuzzies about someone else? If you’re in an open relationship, this can be alarming. It’s important to remember that just as every person is unique, so is every relationship. Still, there are some things you can do.
Talk it out
One of the most important aspects of any relationship is communication. Communication is the foreground of how relationships are built; especially in an open relationship. It’s important that when a relationship is established in these situations, that everyone’s needs and expectations are discussed; as well as what is expected from the relationship.
Being as open, and honest about what you want from your partner, is an important building block. It will help further down the road; when concerns like this arise. When this honesty, and openness is established early, it makes it easy to discuss how the relationship is progressing. If you’re concerned about how your partner is feeling about another person, talk to them about it.
Every relationship has a level of disclosure (Labriola, 2011). Although this is an important, deeply emotional, and potentially relationship changing situation; be mindful of your partner’s level of disclosure. There are ways to discuss how you feel about your relationship, without violating their level of disclosure regarding their other relationships.
Why are you asking?
Be aware of why you are asking, and what you expect to come from the conversation. Are you expecting to change your current relationship? Are you looking for a behavior change? Being aware of why you’re asking, comes from knowing what you need from your partner.
Know what you need
When people enter into an open relationship, a large part of having multiple partners is feeling free to fulfill an individual’s needs. Those needs may be sexual compatibility, experience, intimacy, activities, or shared interests. Knowing what you need when you enter into the relationship, will help you know what you can expect from the relationship.
If your partner is being intimate or even expresses their love for another person; acknowledge how that makes you feel, and why it makes you feel that way. Here are some questions you can ask yourself, to better understand your own needs:
Do your expectations match what your partner expects from the relationship?
Are you wanting your partner to only feel love toward you?
Is your partner fulfilling your needs, and expectations within the relationship?
Knowing what you need from your partner, will help you communicate this; as well as give you the ability to look elsewhere if you are not getting this need fulfilled by this particular partner.
Deal with Jealousy
Jealousy is prevalent in any relationship, and in some ways can be more prevalent in an open relationship. It’s a deeply rooted emotion that everyone feels (Labriola, 2013). Some people deal with it better than others, but we all experience it. Having appropriate tools at your disposal will help when this is the primary issue within your relationship. It will be hard work. If the relationship is important to you, then knowing how to deal with your jealousy will help you with your stress and anxieties; as well as make your partner feel more comfortable. It’s important to know if your concerns are coming from a place of jealousy. Knowing why you are jealous, and what you are needing, will likely help you communicate better with your partner.
Open relationships, like every other kind of relationship, take hard work, communication, and consideration for your partner. When strong emotions enter into the mix, things can become more challenging. As long as you are respectful, and acknowledge your own needs, and emotions; you should be able to have a conversation with your partner about what is bothering you. It’s important to remember that everyone deserves love, respect, and acknowledgment.
Below are some resources that may help beyond this article:
Labriola, K. (2011). Love In Abundance: A Counselor's Advice on Open Relationships. United States: Greenery Press.
Labriola, K. (2013). The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and Insights for Managing Open Relationships. United States: Greenery Press.