Is an open relationship right for me
5 Signs an Open Relationship Could Be Right for You
Of course these types of situations still require honesty, trust, and thorough communication. Those are nonnegotiable in any good relationship, especially open ones.
5. You’re in a mixed-orientation relationship.
If you’re in a mixed-orientation relationship, you may already know that term for it, but just so we’re on the same page: A mixed-orientation relationship means that partners have different sexual orientations.
Let’s say you’ve realized you’re bisexual while in a committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex. You may want to explore your attraction to the same sex but deeply love your partner and don’t want to break up.
Couples in this spot sometimes incorporate their differing sexual orientations when hammering out open relationship rules, Pomeranz says, like agreeing that one person can feel free to hook up with people of their own sex, but not of their partner’s.
1. It’s in direct response to infidelity.
One of the worst things you can do after a partner cheats is immediately open the relationship. That’s not to say you can’t open it up if one of you has cheated in the past, but there’s that trust issue again: You both need time to work through infidelity as a unit before bringing anyone else into the mix, even if it’s no longer in secret.
“Open relationships of all kinds require trust, knowledge, consent, and emotional (and sometimes physical and spiritual) labor,” says Webb. “Infidelity breaks trust; opening the relationship when this kind of trauma has occurred is not impossible, but it does not set anyone up for success either. I recommend doing the work to rebuild the relationship and then approaching openness from a foundation of trust.”
2. Your relationship is already on the brink of ending.
Opening up a relationship in a desperate attempt to stave off a breakup isn’t a great idea. Without the strong, healthy bond that’s necessary for an open relationship to work, introducing non-monogamy might just push you over the breakup precipice.
People who try an open relationship as a last-ditch effort to avoid a breakup typically already have one foot out the door, Lipscomb says. “They do not have a strong connection and want someone—anyone—other than their primary partner,” she says, but they might be staying because of children, a fear of what their family will say, comfort, worries about hurting their partner, social stigma around divorce, or other reasons. An open relationship might seem like the perfect compromise in these cases, but it won’t work as a bandage over fundamental relationship issues or unhappiness.
3. One or both of you can’t handle jealousy.
It’s a misconception that people in successful open relationships never feel jealousy. The difference is that they know jealousy can happen, respect boundaries in an attempt to avoid it, and deal with it in a healthy manner if it arises anyway.
None of this is possible without—say it with us, folks—honesty, trust, and communication. That essential combination is what allows you to say something like, “Hey, I don’t know what it is, but I get wildly jealous when I know you’re seeing that guy. ” It’s also what allows your partner to accept this kind of statement from a loving, empathetic place and reassure you as necessary.
Issues besides jealousy might come up when you’re in an open relationship, just like they would in a monogamous one. Bottom line: “Partners need to be able to listen to one another with compassion and not defensiveness, communicate their wants and needs, express themselves honestly, and take responsibility for their actions,” says Pomeranz.
- Actually, Scheduling Sex Is Good
- The Case for Telling Your Partner Exactly How You Want to Feel During Sex
- How to Get Really Comfortable in Your Body for Sex
The Pros and Cons of an Open Relationship
- Love & Dating
Hint: Communication is key.
Stacey Laura Lloyd
Stacey Laura Lloyd
Stacey Laura Lloyd is an author with a passion for helping others find happiness and success in their dating lives as well as in their relationships.
Brides's Editorial Guidelines
Updated on 10/25/22
Reviewed by Minaa B.
Minaa B. is a writer, mental health professional, and founder of Minaa B. Consulting.
Brides's Editorial Guidelines
Licensed Master Social Worker
Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images
Relationships are like a great pair of vintage jeans: If they don't fit, they won't make you happy. One thing we know for sure is that, also like amazing denim, there are lots of different types of relationships. Love is definitely not one-size-fits-all. One type of relationship getting a lot of buzz lately is an open one, but what does that really mean?
What Is an Open Relationship?
An open relationship is one in which both parties aren't exclusively dating each other. In other words, both people are openly allowed to have other sexual and/or romantic partners.
Basically, if you're in an open relationship, you're okay with you and your partner having other love interests. Other than that, the rest of the "rules" are up to you and your partner. In a psychological study conducted by the University of Guelph, author Jessica Wood pointed out, "We found people in consensual, non-monogamous relationships experience the same levels of relationship satisfaction, psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction as those in monogamous relationships."
If this sounds interesting, but you aren't quite sure if an open relationship is right for you, keep reading to learn a little more about what being in this type of coupling entails. Here's what you should consider before opening up your relationship.
01 of 05
Say Goodbye to Monogamy
Look, all relationships are different, but the one thing that defines them is whether or not both parties are exclusively seeing each other or not. The whole point of being in a relationship is to enjoy yourself and your partner in whatever context works for you. If you both feel like your relationship would do better if you open it up, go for it.
If you've spent your whole life in monogamous relationships, an open one may feel a little strange, but don't worry, you'll get used to it (and might even wonder why you never tried this earlier!) You may feel a little guilty the first time you hook up with someone who isn't your main man or lady, but try to let those feelings go because you're not doing anything wrong.
Lawrence Josephs Ph.D., explains, "[Some] individuals may feel that monogamy is a prison that traps them in a permanent arrangement that is sexually frustrating and devoid of emotional intimacy." If you can relate, that doesn't make you a bad person incapable of love; it just means that you may need different things from different partners.
02 of 05
Honesty Really Is the Best Policy
The only way an open relationship will work is if you're both totally honest with each other. Like a monogamous relationship, you'll discuss what you're both comfortable with when you define the relationship. People who don't really understand the concept of open relationships may make you feel like you're just getting permission to cheat on your partner, but here's why they're wrong: Open relationships grant both of you the freedom to pursue other people in a way that's based on mutual respect, open communication, and total honesty. In other words, you fully trust each other.
While you still have strong feelings for your primary partner, you're still able to have different sexual needs met with different people, all while being completely truthful and open with one another. We truly believe that the hallmark of a successful relationship is being able to tell each other anything.
03 of 05
Clear Your Schedule
No matter how many or few partners you have, you'll need to be able to make time for all of them. Regardless of whether you're going out for a long and leisurely dinner or just heading to their apartment for a quick hookup, you will probably need to keep a few nights open every week. Just like any other relationship, an open one requires time and effort.
For some couples, it means one main partner and other less significant partners, and for other couples, it means that both parties can have other full-blown relationships. Take some time to figure out what works for you, but either way, open relationships are a time commitment.
04 of 05
Feel Your Feelings
Even if you're super open-minded, accepting, and trusting, you may still feel a pang of jealousy when your partner comes home after a night spent with one of their other lovers. Jealousy is a strong feeling that may be hard to ignore, so don't try to pretend you're fine if you're not.
Believe it or not, it's not uncommon for people in an open relationship to feel a bit threatened or intimidated by the different people their partner may pursue. "Some of us might aspire to be successful at consensual non-monogamy and that, too, requires certain personality dispositions and interpersonal skills like overcoming jealousy and insecurity about consensual partner sharing," Dr. Josephs explains.
If you are experiencing negative feelings about your partner, talk to him, your friends, or a therapist about it. Sometimes merely acknowledging the way you feel aloud to another person can help alleviate the negativity.
05 of 05
Don't Expect a Quick-Fix
Whether it was on television or in real life, we've all seen a couple have a baby in the hopes of repairing their relationship, but that never works. If a relationship is doomed to fail, nothing will be able to fix it because it's simply not meant to be.
Like a baby, an open relationship can't save a failing connection. In fact, opening up a weak relationship will probably destroy it. If you want an open relationship to have any chance of succeeding, you need to establish a strong and sturdy foundation first. Trust us, if you're already feeling pretty insecure about where your connection stands, hooking up with other people won't help.
Are You Dating a Serial Monogamist? How to Tell and What It Means
Brides takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
University of Guelphi. Open Relationships Just as Satisfying as Monogamous Ones, U of G Study Reveals. Updated July 3, 2018.
Who can open relationships suit?
What is a guest marriage? What about polyamory? What are the features of an open relationship in general, says psychologist Victoria Kaylin.
The concept of "free relationship" is so broad that it covers completely different forms of interaction. This can be guest marriage, polyamory, and friendly sex (friends with benefits). At the same time, none of these options can be perceived as a complete lack of obligations. They are in every relationship. Moreover, a free form of communication also implies an extremely high degree of trust. Without this, everything will crumble like a house of cards. And yes, open relationships are difficult and not for everyone. First, let's talk about forms. nine0003
You may or may not be married. Although you do not live together on a permanent basis and do not run a joint household, you are monogamous, have common goals and often invest in some kind of joint budget. Perhaps in the future you plan to live in the same house, but for now you meet regularly - on weekends, for example, or spend longer periods of time together - vacation, etc. The motives for this form of relationship may be different: often it is work or study in another country, unwillingness to change the established life and habits at an older age, lack of own housing or the presence of other restrictions and obligations (children, elderly parents, difficult financial situation, health problems, etc.). nine0003
Guest marriage has its pros and cons. On the one hand, a certain romance and novelty of meetings last longer, since the absence of a common life excludes many reasons for quarrels. On the other hand, partners do not have the opportunity to really get closer and feel the same unity of interests, merger and possession, for the sake of which many people start a marriage story. It is difficult to raise children in such relationships, and, in my opinion, they are good either for the "young and free" or for the "adult and independent." For families with young children and jealous partners, this form of relationship can be agonizing. nine0003
This is a nice addition to the basic form of friendship. As a rule, you meet for mutual pleasure in your free time, without limiting your freedom in any way and without refusing to meet other people. Maybe you appreciate each other's human qualities, or maybe you just have great sex. In any case, such relationships do not imply either a general budget or far-reaching plans.
The danger of such a relationship arises when the unity of motives and expectations is violated in a couple. For example, while one of you sincerely enjoys additional "goodies", the other cherishes a secret hope for a real rapprochement. With this form of relationship, in addition to the main obligations (taking care of the partner’s health and feelings, friendly mutual assistance), openness and honesty are very important - if, of course, you want to maintain friendship. nine0003
Paradoxically, married couples often make this decision to save their marriage. Polyamory implies, first of all, polygamous relationships on the side - a kind of legalized treason. Sometimes it takes the form of a triangle when only one of the partners allows himself a relationship outside of marriage. Sometimes, as in the case of swingers, it is a polygon, when both spouses have additional partners.
Of course, polyamory requires not only a high degree of trust, but also a certain psychological maturity and independence of partners. Often this becomes the only way out for families where "the fire of love has died down", but people do not want to disperse - due to common interests, business partnerships, having children or financial obligations. nine0003
By the way, polyamory does not necessarily mean physical infidelity. Sometimes just meeting and dating is enough to breathe new life into a relationship. The essence of this form of relationship is not to cheat on a partner, but to push the boundaries of what is permitted: to break stereotypes, destroy the dungeon wall, prove that you are alive and free in your choice and decision-making.
An open relationship is great for those who are not ready for a serious relationship, who are not satisfied with the generally accepted boundaries, or who are too independent to take into account the needs of another person on a daily basis. In this case, this relationship format is perceived as a "probe" - a relatively safe way to test yourself and your partner and better understand the needs. nine0003
At the same time, this form of interaction can become a screen for one's own fears and complexes. Often in this way people protect themselves from pain - "it is better to immediately agree to an open relationship than to put up with betrayal or be afraid of divorce." This is not the best motivation. First of all, because you will not be able to enjoy an open relationship - internal restrictions will not allow it. It’s better to first understand your values and determine the boundaries of what is permitted, and then go on a free voyage. An open relationship is not a relationship without commitment. These are relationships in which obligations, like rules, are determined by you. Agree, you need to grow up to this. nine0003
Do you like the idea of an open relationship?
Psychologists usually don't give advice, but I still can't resist one thing - in my opinion the most important. Never go on about with a partner if you are uncomfortable with the proposed relationship format. Freedom means, first of all, your voluntary desire to explore this or that form of interaction. There is no need to break yourself for the sake of another and allow alien standards to be imposed on yourself. You can't stand on tiptoe for long.
Open relationships - what they are, who suits them, pros and cons
Some cringe at the very phrase "open relationship". Free - from what? From love, from mutual obligations, from supporting each other? But for many, this is quite a convenient form of personal life. Whether you can feel great without being the only woman of the only man is up to you. But first, find out what those who decide to live like this will have to face. nine0003
Relations between the sexes
Fotobank / Getty Images
So, let's try to figure out what an open relationship is, what are their pros and cons, who is suitable for them and who is not. nine0003
Open relationships: what is their essence
The term "open relationship" means such a relationship that, in addition to communicating with one regular partner, does not prohibit freedom of action with representatives of the opposite sex. In an open relationship, partners do not report to each other, do not coordinate their actions in relation to other men or women, and are not justified. A couple, where a free relationship between a man and a woman is implied, itself sets the boundaries of what is permissible. nine0003
An open relationship between a man and a woman can be partial. In such cases, the couple arranges joint trips to the cinema, to a restaurant. At the same time, each of them can invite someone else with them. A man and a woman exchange messages with other people, give them or accept gifts from them. However, such a couple does not let anyone into an intimate relationship - sex happens only between them and with no one else.
But in some cases, open relationships are not limited to this. The essence of free relations can be reduced to the fact that partners by agreement have the right not only to communicate with the opposite sex, but also to flirt and even to intimate contact. nine0003
The psychology of a man and a woman, when their relationship is recognized as free, requires an unbiased attitude towards the partner. It is impossible to demand from him that he be constantly near, swear eternal love, maintain sexual contacts only with you and with no one else.
How to find an open relationship? First of all, remember that if you choose this way of life, then it does not imply any obligations. To maintain an open relationship without obligation, you need to close your eyes and not react to many things that happen. For example, your partner may go on a date with another girl, and you should not be jealous of him. Your friends and colleagues will constantly say that they saw your partner with someone else. nine0003
First, make sure that you are ready to say to yourself: “Yes, I want just such an open relationship.”
Open relationships: a list of rules to follow
1. Make sure that you are self-sufficient and everything is stable in your life
You probably have friends of the opposite sex for open relationships in your life. They do not gravitate towards marriage, and welcome frequent meetings and sexual contacts, not counting on anything more. From an emotional point of view, an open relationship is the same as walking on a narrow bridge over an abyss. In both cases, you will want someone to hold your hand tightly. If you have a serious relationship, it must be strong. If you start something new, you yourself must be strong. Better not try if you have a black streak of life. nine0003
2. Get ready to be jealous
If a girl expects an open relationship, then she must understand that partners should not be jealous of each other. A feeling of jealousy can gnaw at a person even under better circumstances. You can admit it to yourself, you can discuss it with a partner, but you cannot avoid it. If you find it difficult to deal with jealousy, an open relationship is not for you.
3. Consider the views of everyone involved in the relationship
If an open relationship has arisen between a guy and a girl, it is desirable that the closest friends know about it. Explain to them the essence of friendship, which does not carry any obligations. Whether you're going to turn an existing monogamous relationship into a free one, or you're starting something new, you need to talk to everyone involved about it.
Things like non-committal relationships need clarity, so be honest about what you want and even more honestly about what you DON'T want. Is it just sex? Do you want to meet others at the same time? Do you expect that for your main partner you will remain in the foreground? nine0003
4.Discuss everything in detail.
An open relationship is not only sex without commitment. You will have to come up with your own rules: what each of you can do and with whom. Do not forget to discuss what each of you wants to know about the adventures of the second, and what you categorically do not want to know. And if you know - then in advance or after an already accomplished fact. These rules can even be written down so that later you don’t say: “We didn’t agree on that!”
5. Make a list of people you shouldn't change with
If a couple proposes an open relationship, this means that sex can happen on the side. But with whom? Discuss in advance possible applicants for intimate contact with your partner. And think about why these people are on this list. For example, your friends, colleagues, relatives can enter it - which is quite understandable. And Olya I. Just because you can't stand Olya I. and you feel sick at the mere thought that your boyfriend will even touch her.
6. Be fair
What one of you is allowed to do, the other can do. It's a relationship without obligation.
7. Warn your friends
If you have an open relationship with a man, it is advisable to inform your relatives and friends about it. This does not mean that you need to gather everyone and make an official statement. There is no need to make a fuss about your new way of life, but it is better if others are aware of it. So that a friend does not call you in a panic in the middle of the night with a sensational message when she meets your lover with another in a club. nine0003
8. This is not a "last chance"
Many people think that an open relationship is the last desperate attempt to save something that is going to hell. This is not true.