HEY BESTIE: How do I convince my partner to have an open relationship? I know it can be a bit of a minefield but I’m really keen to make it work. Can you give us some tips?
Let’s first explore what the concept of an open relationship is.
From a sexologist’s perspective, an open relationship is one that two adults, who are in an intimate relationship together, consent to be sexually non-monogamous . . . basically, this means that each partner is free to engage sexually with others outside of the relationship.
Unfortunately, I tend to see three types of clients who fall into the open relationship category.
Those who thought it was a good idea to have an open relationship – and did the work required to properly implement one. (Read: Great outcome!)
Those who thought it was a good idea to have an open relationship – and didn’t do the work required to properly implement one. (Read: Not a great outcome!)
One partner who thought it would be a great idea and the other one not so keen but was somehow convinced without really thinking it through. (Read: Horrible outcome!)
Couples who haven’t discussed the boundaries and rules to follow in an open relationship, underestimate the importance of clear guidelines of engagement.
A successful open relationship is a carefully crafted arrangement that is mutually acceptable to both parties. If this is not done, assumptions are made, feelings are hurt and typically the relationship falls apart.
Basic guidelines/boundaries to discuss include:
Make sure that you both have the same definition of an open relationship.
Be clear on what is and what isn’t allowed in the open relationship.
Discuss what type of sexual contraception will be used, if any.
Create sexual boundaries that will be adhered to with the other partners – try completing a yes, no, maybe form together as to what will be accepted and what will not. . .I’ve got one available if you need one!
Define your emotional boundaries.
Discuss how often you will have a regular relationship check-in with each other.
Explore how often you will revisit the open relationship guidelines.
It’s one thing to discuss the guidelines and boundaries, it’s another to implement them and stick to them and finally it’s extremely important to be clear on the consequences if the boundaries are breached.
The partners in the primary relationship need to have extreme trust in one another, very good communication, and a relationship that rests on a very solid foundation.
Without these fundamentals, the open relationship might fail before it even begins.
Be open, be honest and don’t jump into an open relationship without creating the boundaries that you both agree on first.
After all, everyone deserves the ability to enjoy every aspect of their chosen relationship.