Relationships don’t have to exist in a one-size-fits-all box, especially in modern dating. It is becoming increasingly common to choose to be with more than one person and pursue an open relationship. This type of dating is an intimate and consensual relationship where partners decide to be non-monogamous. In other words, partners are not exclusively dating one another and are free to be with other people.
All parties must be on the same page and understand the kind of relationship they are pursuing. Without consent, the situation could quickly become cheating and dishonest. On the other hand, if everyone is on board, open relationships are fantastic opportunities to expand connections in your life. Here are six things to know about open relationships and how to have one.
1. Talk About Sexual Health and Pregnancy Prevention
Sexual health becomes increasingly important when more partners come into the bedroom. This responsibility includes conversations about routine testing and plans for pregnancy prevention. Discuss recent STI screenings with new partners and be knowledgeable about your own health.
Talk to all of your sexual partners about what birth control methods you all plan to use. Options include birth control pills, condoms, the patch, ring, or shot. You could consider opting for condoms to protect against STIs and add another precaution for pregnancy prevention.
2. Be Firm and Clear with Your Boundaries
You and your partner should understand your boundaries before you open the door to others. Be clear about what information you will share with your significant other about new romantic companions. Communication and sexual health are two top areas to consider establishing clear boundaries. Show consideration and respect for any information that might be a sensitive spot.
Be detailed about the kind of openness you are pursuing. It could be purely sexual or something deeper and more emotional. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and dig deep into the foundation of your partnership. You should also be clear about your expectations of open relationships. These details could help avoid any future misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.
3. Schedule Regular Check-ins with Your Partner
Prioritize routine conversations with your primary partner to ensure the setup is still working for both of you. Try to be consistent about how often you all take time to check-in. You could also outline critical areas to focus on each check-in. Reliable discussions help create a sense of safety and security within the relationship.
Make sure you create a space where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and their true feelings. Communicate with your partner what that space does and does not look like for you. Navigating these conversations with a licensed couple’s counselor is often helpful as well. You could specifically seek out a therapist that specializes in non-monogamous relationships.
4. Block Out the Negative Opinions From Other People
Open relationships aren’t the norm for many people, so your relationship might not always feel understood. It is likely that your family and close friends might not fully grasp your new idea of dating. Decide what details you are willing to share with others and what you’d rather keep private.
You have to get comfortable with the idea that your approach to companionship might make others uncomfortable. Since you may experience judgment from others, it’s crucial not to let outside opinions dictate how you live your life. The essential perspectives about your relationship are your partner’s and your own.
5. Understand Your Attachment Style
You and your partner should know your attachment styles before opening up your relationship. Attachment theory is the belief that everyone has an attachment style they formed early in life. This factor affects how you show up in relationships as an adult and how secure you feel in your connections.
The four attachment styles are anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure. Understanding your type promotes effective communication and a realistic view of the relationship dynamics. It also allows you to do the work to become more confident within your partnerships. This progress could have a positive ripple effect on how you see yourself and the non-romantic relationships in your life.
6. Always be Honest and Transparent
Honesty is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. It becomes even more crucial when you decide to open up your partnership. Be open and honest with your significant other about how you’re feeling. You should also be realistic about how your feelings might change as time moves on.
You all shouldn’t be afraid to have hard conversations, even if it changes the relationship’s future. Respect the connection you have enough to be transparent with what you want now and in the future. Be true to yourself and what is best for both of you.
Staying True to Your Intentions and Relationship
Couples decide to open their relationships for a myriad of reasons. It could be to spice up your sex life or have more emotional connections. Detailing your intentions from the beginning helps you all play from the same handbook. It also provides a guide if you find yourselves veering off the track you wanted for your partnership.
Open relationships are more likely successful if partners put in work to communicate their boundaries and lean into honesty. You can design the partnership that best suits you and the types of connection you want for your life.