So, you and your partner have decided that an open relationship is something that you want to try. Determining the details of an open relationship is just as important as coming to the decision to be involved in one in the first place. By evaluating expectations and determining boundaries ahead of time, you and your partner can get the most out of an open relationship.
Figure Out the Dating Details Ahead of Time
Initially, it might not seem like a big deal that you have a date planned Saturday night and your partner doesn’t. But when the night comes around, and they are lounging on the couch waiting for you to binge-watch your favorite show, it might come as a surprise to them that you already have plans.
Managing expectations and figuring out the details of an open relationship ahead of time is important. This includes:
- Who: Who are you comfortable/uncomfortable with your partner dating? Is there anyone that is off-limits (friends, coworkers?)
- Where: Consider where you and your partner are comfortable planning dates. Are public places okay?
- When: Consider when you and your partner are okay with the other spending time with someone else. Do you prefer that they go on dates on the same day/time as you?
- How: Determine how often and in what method of communication is okay with new partners. There are major differences between an intimate and emotional relationship.
Just as no two monogamous relationships are the same, it takes consideration and planning to find what works for you and your partner.
Importance of Open Communication
Open communication is necessary for building strong relationships, whether it is monogamous or open. Learning to express your needs and to fully listen to your partner’s will ensure that both individuals are able to benefit from an open relationship. Open communication will also pave the way for important discussions regarding the logistics of an open relationship, such as when and with whom, the relationship will include.
Establish Boundaries that Make You Comfortable
Boundaries are important in any relationship, regardless of the type. It is important to note that boundaries should not be treated as rules. Rules put restrictions on a relationship, which is often why an open relationship is considered in the first place.
Boundaries and expectations might include:
- How much information will you share with your partner?
- How much information will you expect them to share with you?
- What type of information, if any, will be confidential?
- Is the open relationship strictly for sexual encounters, or are emotional connections okay?
Setting clear boundaries and frequently discussing what makes you comfortable is key to making an open relationship work.
Learn to Recognize Jealousy
Jealousy often arises from hidden details or a fear of being replaced. It is often the unknown or the details that your partner does not share with you that leads to jealousy in a typical relationship. Because of the honesty and openness that is often a part of open relationships, you have the opportunity to deal with feelings of jealousy openly.
But, this doesn’t mean that open relationships are entirely immune to jealousy. Open relationships can take some getting used to. Planning dates on the same day can be a nice distraction and remind you why you agreed to the arrangement in the first place. Plan how you will deal with jealousy ahead of time.
Consider things like:
- What if one partner has plans and the other doesn’t?
- What if one partner’s date cancels?
- What if one partner wants to spend the night, or the weekend, with an encounter?
- Do you expect your partner to be available for phone calls during their date? What about text messages?
Open relationships can be beneficial, as long as you and your partner go into it with an open mind and a clear understanding of what to expect. Easing into it in steps, like planning dates on the same night, can help you explore these benefits, while also removing feelings of jealousy or unfamiliarity with a non-traditional relationship.