Advice open relationship

6 Rules For Doing the Whole Open Relationship Thing Right

Whether you’re just starting to get serious or have been together for years, broaching the subject of starting an open relationship is totally uncharted water. Even if you’ve tried the whole open thing before, each relationship—and the ground rules that keep things from turning into a jealous mess—is different.

That doesn’t mean open relationships don’t work—or even that they can’t be as rock-solid as monogamous ones. But experts say strong open relationships do tend to have one thing in common: a mutually agreed upon set of ground rules.

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“This is about being self-protective and protective of your partner,” says Matt Lundquist, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship therapist in New York. Part of the reason for setting some rules is just practical—like using protection to reduce your risk of getting, or sharing, an STI. “There are also rules that are intended to provide emotional safety for all parties involved,” Lundquist says. Most of these—though not all—are designed to prevent the fallout from jealousy.

The main thing to discuss is pretty straightforward, says Rachel Sussman, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship therapist in New York. “The most important thing is to ask each person is what an open relationship means to them,” she says.

Because, while generally “open implies that one has a sort of ethical ‘permission’ to seek or stumble upon a new partner,” explains Lundquist, there’s some wiggle room in the exact definition of an open relationship—10 couples would probably give you 10 different answers on how they define the arrangement.

While these will inevitably change as you try out the whole open relationship thing and see how it affects your partner and your relationship, it does help to establish some ground rules up front.

1. Set sex boundaries.

One of the first rules you should agree on as a couple is what types of sex are okay to have with other people (if sex is okay at all) and what you consider to be out of bounds, Lundquist says.

Can you have sex without developing feelings for someone? And if you do, how will you and your partner address that situation?

Don’t shy away from getting specific here: Is penetrative sex okay? Oral? Kissing? Are you allowed to explore things like BDSM that you don’t do with your partner? “In the heat of the moment, things come up,” says Lundquist. “It's better to talk these things through in advance rather than risking a partner's surprise hurt or disappointment after the fact.”

Your sex rules should also include safe-sex practices. Again, be specific, Lundquist advises. Will you use a condom for any penetrative sex? Do you expect your partner to use a dental dam for any oral sex? Will you both want each other’s hookups to have been screened for STI’s? Will you regularly get screened? “Everyone needs to feel safe sexually,” Lundquist says. “Better to talk through what your partner needs to feel really safe.”

2. Set emotional boundaries.

It’s also important to define what social and emotional behaviors are okay. For example, maybe you’re totally cool with your partner having random Tinder hookups but you’re not comfortable with them going on dates or seeing other partners in a social context.

Navigating the emotional guidelines can be even trickier than the physical ones. “Even though people say they don’t think they’ll get jealous, they often do,” Sussman says. Two key questions to discuss with your partner are: Can you have sex without developing feelings for someone? And if you do, how will you and your partner address that situation?

3. Establish who it’s cool to hook up with.

Open relationships don’t (usually) mean “open to anyone.” And, according to Lundquist, “this is an area where open couples can get into trouble. ” Before you enter into an open relationship, it’s important to agree on who is fair game to get intimate with.

“There are certain people one might feel more or less jealous or threatened by,” Lundquist explains. For example, you might agree that you’re only cool with having sex with strangers—no chance of awkwardly running into them at the office holiday party. On the flipside, some open couples prefer to choose outside partners from people they already know and trust. “Some people even agree to only date partners of one or another gender outside the relationship,” Lundquist says.

Another rule to consider adding to this discussion is the relationship status of your outside partners. “Agreeing to only have sexual relationships with someone who either doesn't have a partner or whose partner is cool with it, for example, is an important thing to discuss,” Lundquist says.

4. Figure out how much time you’ll spend with other partners.

Once you’ve established boundaries, experts recommend taking the time to dig into the nitty gritty—like how much time you’ll each spend on your open-relationship activities.

Decide how much time each week you’re allowed to spend with other partners.

One key thing to agree on is whether you’ll each be actively or passively exploring other relationships. In other words, will you be dusting off your Bumble profile and eating into your date-night schedule with your current partner to see other people, or will you take advantage of your open relationship status only when someone happens to fall in your path.

Whichever you agree upon, you should also set some rules around how much time you’re allowed to spend with other partners. “When you meet new people and are having sex with someone new, it can feel a little obsessive,” Sussman says. “Explore with your partner how you will keep that in check.

For example, decide how much time each week you’re allowed to spend with other partners and what the protocol is if you want to skip movie night with your S.O. to go on a date.

5. Decide how you’ll talk about your relationships with each other and others.

One of the hardest rules to figure out, according to the experts, is how open to be with each other about your open relationship. “Some couples I work with have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” Sussman says.

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There are two main points to discuss here: Will you tell each other about outside hookups at all? And if so, how much detail will you share? There's likely going to be some element of trial and error here, Sussman says. You might find that hearing that your partner was just with someone else makes you angry—or you might find that hearing the dirty details turns you on.

After figuring out how to discuss your open relationship with each other, you should agree on how to talk about it with others, if at all. “There can be embarrassment or a sense that certain people will judge or not understand,” Lundquist says. “Like anything private in a relationship, it's best to check with your partner first so you're not revealing something that's private to both of you out of turn.”

6. Discuss how often you’ll have a check-in.

For many open relationships, “you just have to play around with it all and see what comes up for you,” Sussman says. While guidelines are super important, they also need to leave enough space for one or both partners’ feelings to change. Sussman recommends setting up regular check-ins about how the open relationship is going. “Whatever rules we set for ourselves, may not apply a few years down the road,” she says.

The one golden rule you should follow above all others? Like all issues that come up in your relationship, be honest. If one of your open relationship rules is no longer working, revisit it to make some edits.

The Ultimate Guide to Open Relationships

When I was single, any time I saw a couple on a dating app, I would roll my eyes and swipe left. Honestly, I assumed they were only in an “open relationship” because they wanted an excuse to cheat. But the more and more I heard about how open relationships actually legitimately work for people, the more my judgment melted away and my curiosity sparked.

For me personally, I couldn’t handle an open relationship (I’m an only child…). But when I interviewed couples who have an open relationship, I was shocked to learn that most of them say the secrets to making their relationships work isn’t much different from what makes a solid monogamous—or really any relationship—thrive. SPOILER ALERT: It’s much deeper than just “trust” and “communication.”

So whether you’re considering an open relationship or just looking for ways to strengthen your closed relationship, here’s what 14 people had to say about how they make their open relationships work.

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1. Confront Your Insecurities Head On

“In an open relationship, in order to succeed, you will have to confront your insecurities. You will have to navigate them first, by yourself, and then again with your partner. Open relationships require you to do a ton of work on yourself that would otherwise lie dormant in closed relationships—specifically in the realms of jealousy, insecurity, and communication.” —GR, 32

2. Love Yourself…a Lot

“You have to *really* like yourself. You have to know you may not be the hottest person your partner puts their dick in, but that it won’t matter because you know you’re the shit. Sex isn’t everything—it’s actually a very small part of a relationship and an even smaller part when you add another person mathematically. Also, you can never have a threesome if you both aren’t into it. Although this seems obvious, I know plenty of women that think a threesome will ‘fix’ the relationship.” —Kelsey, 29

3. Institute Practices, Not Rules

“Our biggest key to success is not having any rules. We only have best practices. Our three best practices (not rules) are, one, to always use safe sex practices (re: condoms), two, own our own feelings so we don’t expect anyone else to fix them, and three, don’t be a jerk.”

4. Tell Your Partner Everything

“It’s true that communication and trust is key obviously, but to be more specific: It’s been proven that jealousy is most rampant in monogamous ‘Don’t ask/don’t tell’ relationships. This is because when you tell someone everything, there is no more mystery—and fantasy is always way worse than the reality. Basically, it’s important to keep it playful. Don’t start being secretive and distant.” —Audria, 31

5. Don’t Force It

“Be accepting. If one partner isn’t okay with something, do not push and try to make it happen. Do not turn to an open relationship if your relationship is having issues or if your partner is the only one who wants it.” —Laura, 21

6. Keep Your Expectations in Check

“Ask for what you want without fear of retaliation. Be clear with your expectations with both your new and existing partner. There is a line between being physically involved with someone, and getting emotionally involved too. Know where that line is, and what the consequences there would be for crossing it. Also remember: This lifestyle might not be a sustainable forever, so enjoy it while it lasts.” —Mateo, 33

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7. Be Totally Open

“You have to be completely open and honest while being with each other. Talking to one partner about the other is absolutely crucial for it to work. If one partner believes that secrets are being kept, then the trust is gone—especially if the communication isn’t there or there is the possibility of deception, lies, or misleading.” —Robert, 58

8. Get Raw With Your Emotions

“Get real about how you manage your emotional reactivity. Nearly everyone who navigates open relationships for the first time experiences some intense emotional responses (jealousy, insecurity, anger). If you don’t have great skills in that already, hire a professional to build some effective strategies before your emotions get the best of you or your relationship.” —Gina

9. Be Patient

“If one person wants a lot more leeway than the other, then there must be baby steps to get to the desired goal. This way, one person can have the time they need to get comfortable. During that time, the person who wants more leeway needs to follow the rules that are currently in place and be patient. They have to prove they are trustworthy by literally being given chances to follow the rules as they are. As it’s seen that the rules are respected and followed, naturally the person insisting on the rules will start to relax and give more freedom.” —Audria, 31

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10. Do It for the Right Reasons

“Watch out for people who are using non-monogamy as a license to cheat. Imagine all the things that would be red flags in a normal, monogamous relationship (like, possessiveness, jealousy, emotional walls, etc.). Those same things from a person who claims to be ethically non-monogamous would be much bigger deal breakers. In order for non-monogamy to work, you need a person who is self-aware and a communication rock star. With my partner, we adapted the thinking that we need to earn each other’s love and time, we aren’t entitled to it. That’s a principle I think all relationships should have, really.”
—Houston, 30

11. Share Your Phone Conversations

“The number one tip is to keep conversations open for everyone to see. My partner and I do this by sharing access to the dating sites we use, as well as using a shared couple’s email address specifically for setting up dates. This keeps the communication transparent and fun. The conversations leading up to meetups are sometimes hotter than the actual encounter.” —Jim, 47

12. Stick With the Game Plan

“There has to be rules and a number of serious conversations about the topic, or else it’s going to be a disaster. Some example Qs: How many other partners are you okay with each other having? How many times per week is acceptable? Can they see the same person on a recurring basis or only new people? How much information do you want to hear about these other experiences? Will it be a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ setup? When should you focus solely on each other? Basically, there are so many important areas to cover. It’s important to figure out why each partner wants an open relationship and how you guys can compromise rules to make both parties happy. Make sure to communicate everything you’re not okay with to your partner. Even if it seems silly, tell them to avoid the betrayal and hurt you might feel down the line.” —Laura, 21

13. Scheduling Is Key

“The most important thing to me in my open relationship is planned time with my hubby. We have actual dates with each other too. And scheduled sex! This is to guarantee we’re still making time for each other.” —Heidi, 49

14. Your Main Partner Must Stay Your Priority

“In order to stay connected to your main partner, they should be your best friend! And also, they have to be your priority.” —Audria, 31

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Julia Pugachevsky

Sex and Relationships Editor

I'm a Sex and Relationships Editor for Cosmo's Snapchat Discover, which you should definitely subscribe to :).

Gabi Conti

 Gabi Conti is a writer, host, comedian, storyteller, and soon to be author. Gabi went on ten thousand hours worth of dates in her 20s (so she calls herself a "sex columnist" but her mom still calls her "a disappointment"). She's sharing her knowledge in her book 20 Guys You Date in Your 20s, which comes out Spring 2020 with Chronicle. She hosts Street Smarts for Brother HQ on Snapchat and has contributed to Hello Giggles, Elite Daily, Mind Body Green, Brit+Co, POPSUGAR, and Thought Catalog. She's very active on Instagram, so follow her there: @itsgabiconti.

7 honest facts about open relationships - check if you are really ready for them

Open relationships are a format that many couples discuss. Freedom in actions and contacts in the presence of a permanent partner seems to be a tempting offer. After all, living without accountability for every step, and not belonging to only one person is a status without obligations and responsibility, which many dream of. For example, those to whom monogamy seems to be a relic of the past, and the variety of partners with whom you can have sexual relations attracts and fascinates. The conditions of an open relationship, of course, are discussed separately in each couple: someone absolutely does not care about other lovers, it is important for others not to cross a specific line (for example, from sex to a full-fledged romance) - there are very, very many variations in the development of the plot. Moreover, do not confuse open relationships and polyamorous ones: open relationships imply one main partner, which is a priority for you, while polyamorous ones, on the contrary, allow love and partnerships with several people at once. But does the system of free relations in life work exactly as we imagine? Here are some facts that may make you doubt whether you are ready for such freedom and whether you need it in principle. nine0003

Fact 1. It's not always possible to "switch" quickly.

If you've never been in an open relationship, but still decide to have a new experience, don't be 100% sure that your attitudes will instantly change from the moment you make this decision. As practice shows, in order to accept and rebuild your demeanor (if it was not initially formed in a certain way), you will have to at least several months, and most likely longer, step over the rules of decency and behavior inherent in yourself. Few people succeed in the blink of an eye to move from one partner (it doesn’t matter if you are connected by feelings or only intimacy) to communication with several people in parallel. You can admire others, feel drawn and attracted towards them, and this is definitely inspiring, but remember: getting into real intimacy with other partners, especially when it is not only about sex, can be extremely difficult and sometimes traumatic. nine0003

Fact 2. An agreement may not be made by mutual agreement

Most often, one partner offers the other the idea of ​​an open relationship, and the other goes towards him out of fear of losing a loved one. Cases where both partners think about this agreement in parallel and at the same time come to the same conclusion are extremely rare. In order to keep a loved one, many agree to this experiment in the hope that this is a new stage in the relationship or a line that needs to be crossed in order to reach a higher level of mutual understanding and trust. In most cases, one partner gives in to the other, even though he may not be interested in an open relationship at all. At first, this may not be very disturbing, but over time, the yielder will begin to doubt, but it is not a fact that his partner will also have doubts. Perhaps he finally decides to break with the traditional form of relationship, for which the other person will not be ready. Or vice versa, open relationships will turn out to be the most comfortable type of behavior for you, and the initiator will unexpectedly - on the contrary - regard them as a failed experiment. However, in both of these cases, the outcome is the same - your relationship will most likely end in a breakup. nine0003

Fact 3. Your self-esteem and self-esteem can be seriously damaged

Open relationships can damage a person's confidence and self-esteem. At first glance, it may seem that the reaction should be the opposite: having multiple partners and a rich love life gives you a sense of satisfaction, power and confidence in yourself and your attractiveness. In fact, an open relationship is a huge platform for comparing yourself to your loved one's other partners. Our brain is prone to analysis and comparison, and sometimes these processes proceed regardless of our desire. Therefore, at one point, the fear that other partners are more beautiful, smarter, more successful or more experienced than you sexually can be very absorbing. As a result, your self-esteem becomes more and more shaky every day, and each new choice and step no longer seems so confident and decisive ( see also: 4 sure ways to increase self-esteem).

Fact 4. You can't always control your emotions

Most couples in an open relationship believe they can keep their emotions under control. But this, of course, is impossible. People may have feelings that they did not expect, because it’s not in vain that they say “you can’t command your heart. ” For example, falling in love or excessive tenderness for partners from the outside. And if, on the contrary, one of their partners has feelings for you or your loved one? Do not forget that a person still lives with feelings, and no matter how rational and restrained he may seem, it is not always possible to keep emotions under control. nine0003

Fact 5. It becomes more difficult to avoid unintended consequences

When we talk about physical intimacy, in addition to pleasure, it is always worth remembering its other important characteristic - safety. Sexually transmitted infections or an unplanned pregnancy are unlikely to be in your plans. However, such scenarios cannot be ruled out when you are in an open relationship. And here several problems arise at once - for example, not every one of your partners or partners of your loved one will want to discuss this, in addition, someone in the chain may not be the most honest person who hides the presence of STDs or is simply unaware of them . Therefore, if you decide on an open relationship, it is worth demanding in an ultimatum from new partners a certificate of the absence of diseases before the first sex and the use of condoms and other methods of protection during sexual intercourse. Yes, it may sound cynical, but your health and safety should always come first. nine0003

Fact 6. You clearly plan your "schedule"

An open relationship implies a clear planning and distribution of responsibilities. In relation to some partners, you will act coolly, use someone in the literal sense, treat some as a fallback ( read also: Be on the lookout: 5 most popular phrases used by manipulators). How much time will you devote to the main partner (this is where the strict rules that you agreed on come into play), and how much are you ready to devote to the rest? You will need to carefully plan your schedule because you need to know how much time to devote to each. Prioritization becomes your main task, but if it speaks of the right to choose, are you ready to make it, guided by certain factors, or will you just get the maximum benefit from everyone only for yourself? nine0003

Fact 7.

You should always act cool - against emotions and feelings

It's not easy for everyone to see a loved one go on a date with someone else. To think that he or she has regular physical intimacy with a number of other people. We all know the feeling of jealousy - it is an all-consuming and very strong emotion that is extremely difficult to suppress. Especially if you are jealous of yourself. But you have negotiated the terms of the agreement with your partner. So, you are not supposed to behave like that, otherwise what is the point of an open relationship? Ownership is the last thing you can remember and mention in a conversation with a partner. Free relations should be based not on emotions and impulses, but on prudence, order, and strict agreements. And when you join them (which for some can be a really good and rewarding experience), remember that now you are playing by strictly defined and stipulated rules. Or stop this game. nine0003

Photo: Getty Images

Maria Krylova

Open relationship.

How to behave. We need advice




Ksenia Ksenia expectant mother

So you have an open relationship, why did you stick to a guy? especially since you did it yourself, and there were your own words, what do you really want from him? nineNovember 25, 2022 He himself asks why I do not write. And I don’t know how to correctly answer that I don’t write, because I’m not pleased that you don’t read for days, even though you are online. I want everything to be easy and simple for us, but discontent slips from both sides. He also writes that he doesn't like it.



You are just a sperm, the ratio of the Schlha




So in the other place every now and then that I do not stick. He himself asks why I do not write. And I don’t know how to correctly answer that I don’t write, because I’m not pleased that you don’t read for days, even though you are online. I want everything to be easy and simple for us, but discontent slips from both sides. He also writes that he doesn't like it. nine0003


Xenia future mother

Lord, "I don't write because you don't write" what are you little people? especially since you have an open relationship, you don’t owe each other anything, take it and say it directly, well, honestly, you are engaged in kindergarten eat. Think about it and get another boyfriend. And then sit and monitor your lover and want to take out the brain. nine0003



9000 #14,0002


You are just a body.



I agree with the comment above. You yourself have indicated that this is an open relationship. It means no expectations and obligations, but you still demand something from him ... It doesn’t look like you are FOR a relationship without obligations at all. The thought creeps in that such a relationship without obligations is not suitable for you, but to build a normal serious relationship with another person who suits you and will take you seriously - you just do not have the spirit. That's all. nine0003



So the fact of the matter is that I don't bother. He himself asks why I do not write. And I don’t know how to correctly answer that I don’t write, because I’m not pleased that you don’t read for days, even though you are online. I want everything to be easy and simple for us, but discontent slips from both sides. He also writes that he doesn't like it.



You are even trying to take out the brain ...


#19 9000 #19



Don't behave. You have an open relationship and you are essentially nobody to complain to each other. An open relationship is a utopia and is convenient for a man. A woman after three months of free relationship, wants a permanent relationship and responsibility in them. I had an open relationship for a whole year! There were reasons not to want a permanent relationship. He also did not answer for days. But, of course, I fell in love and that's why I broke it off. I didn’t swear, I didn’t say anything to him at all, because I understood that it was pointless. nine0003



He himself asks why I do not write. And I don’t know how to correctly answer that I don’t write, because I’m not pleased that you don’t read for days, even though you are online. I want everything to be easy and simple for us, but discontent slips from both sides. He also writes that he doesn't like it.



You already decide, the author. You have an open relationship, you need to get in and have sex and that's it, or "I'm not only a body, but also a person, and I have emotions", "I will voice my dissatisfaction"?))) Are you free or do you want to privatize it yourself? )))
If free - then he does not have to answer any answers to you, stupidly agree on the next sex and that's it, there's nothing more to talk about. If you want a relationship as a couple, then, of course, you want some emotions and communication from him. nine0217 Decide, author, otherwise you have some kind of mess in your head, free, but not free.))))

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  • #26


    Here you answer correctly. I just don't want to lose him. The agreement was not to endure the brain, ease of communication. But will he take my expressed dissatisfaction as an attempt to adjust for himself. Restrict it. Is it worth talking? I know that by saying this, we will solve the problem. But what the outcome will be, I have no idea. That's why I'm asking. nine0003



    Yes, he's just a manipulator. He asks you so that you don't slip off the hook. Next time, answer like this: I don’t write, because you don’t answer for a day, so there’s no desire to write something.



    So he is also just a body. But I need this body, exactly the same as he needs mine. Be be be.
    It will not work to humiliate me here. I knew what I was getting into. nine0217 And on the topic, in fact you can’t answer, pass by. There is no need to throw out your under @ b here.


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    In my understanding, an open relationship is not only spending, but also communication. Just human relations. We have them, we help each other. We communicate. But we don’t want more. You can say Lovers just don't cheat on anyone.0003



    just. But I need this body, exactly the same as he needs mine. Be be be.
    It will not work to humiliate me here. I knew what I was getting into.
    And on the topic, in fact you cannot answer, pass by. There is no need to throw out your under @ b here.



    The author, why are you reacting so strongly? Indeed, in fact, it is so. You meet once every 2 weeks so that he uses your body, and you use his, for satisfaction. The rest does not interest him. You initially agreed on the terms with him, and now you are not satisfied that he does not answer you (that is, he does not pay attention). Where is the logic? It's just that you are a convenient option for him, 2 times a month to relieve your need. Not the fact that the only one. Obviously you don't like it. But you yourself agreed to this 🤷🏼‍♀️


    Stifler's mom

    In order not to bear the brain and not make claims, try to present the same information in a way that would be easy and pleasant.

    Compare this.
    “You don’t write to me and don’t answer for days, what’s the point of me writing to you?!” (this is a mind blowing)
    “We haven’t heard from each other for a long time, I even managed to get bored a little) How are you?” (this is a pleasant, non-binding, but conducive phrase)

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    He doesn't like that I don't write. What are you reading?



    Ksenia The expectant mother

    Lord, "I do not write because you do not write" Well, are you little people? especially since you have an open relationship, you don’t owe each other anything, take it and tell me directly, well, honestly, you are engaged in kindergarten



    Evgeny is worried about his ego

    In men, it is very large. They are owners by nature, even if they just fuck someone there. You are very aggressive, because people here are trying to open your eyes, and you are rubbing us about some kind of high free relationship and rejecting everything. Admit it already once that you are not satisfied with this format of relations, which is why you are confused to the point of impossibility due to the fact that he ignores you for several days. You even here on the forum decided to write. We all don't really care what you have there, we are not interested parties, so this gives us the opportunity to soberly assess your situation. The thing is, you are fooling yourself.0003


    Stifler's mom

    In order not to be brainwashed and not to make claims, try to present the same information in a way that would be easy and pleasant.

    Compare this.
    “You don’t write to me and don’t answer for days, what’s the point of me writing to you?!” (this is a mind blowing)
    “We haven’t heard from each other for a long time, I even managed to get bored a little) How are you?” (this is a pleasant, non-binding, but conducive phrase)



    He doesn't like that I don't write.

    Learn more