These days, the word “relationship” can mean many things. Companionship comes in many different shapes and forms, and there is really no limit to what’s “normal”… as long as the people involved are happy and fulfilled. Knowing yourself and what you want is the ideal first step in being in a positive relationship. Open relationships can often sound great in theory, but don’t usually pan out the way you planned. Before you branch out into polyamory, you should probably give it some serious thought.
- Is it genuinely something you both want? Hands down, the most important thing to know before starting an open relationship is that both of you want to do it. If one of you is on the fence, that could lead to the most toxic thing for a couple: resentment. If one person feels forced into the situation, nothing good will come of it, guaranteed.
- Have you talked it through? In order to be sure you both want an open relationship, you actually have to talk about the pros and cons, and voice any concerns you have about the arrangement. Communication is key to maintaining the level of respect necessary to make it work. Don’t be shy – say what you need to say.
- Are you a jealous person? Generally, people who tend to be on the jealous side aren’t encouraged to be in an open relationship. If the thought of your guy with another girl makes you tremble with the rage of Carrie on prom night, then why put yourself in that situation at all? Not everyone is cut out for an open relationship, and that’s okay.
- What are your expectations? Here’s where communication really becomes paramount. Not only do you need to be honest with your partner about what you want out of this arrangement, but you’ve gotta be honest with yourself. Are you hoping this will help revamp your relationship, or is it just a way to slowly drift away from each other without the pain of a sudden breakup? The first step in getting what you want is actually knowing what you want. Take some time and figure out what your end goal is.
- Can you separate sex from emotions? Are you the type of person who doesn’t like having sex with someone you don’t have real feelings for? If so, an open relationship isn’t for you. If you intend to maintain your emotional relationship with your original partner, you can’t risk falling for one of your side guys. It isn’t easy having feelings for two (or more) different people, and it’ll lead to a lot of confusion and drama. If you’re looking for more than sex, make everyone’s life easier and don’t do it this way.
- What are the rules? Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to open relationships than just sleeping with other people. If you want to do it in healthiest way possible (and why wouldn’t you?), you have to set ground rules. If you don’t want him to sleep with anyone you know, make that a rule. Is there a limit to the level of detail you want to hear about? Let him know now, not after he over-shares and you end up upset. And don’t forget to establish how often sex outside your primary relationship is acceptable. If he’s sleeping with someone new every weekend and you had something more like once a month in mind, that’ll definitely cause problems.
- Can you be completely honest? You always have to maintain the trust in your primary relationship, and the best way to do that is by being honest with each other. Tell each other about the other people you’re interested in, and when you plan on spending time with them. Follow the rules you have set for each other, and always practice safe sex. Never lie about who you’re sleeping with, because then it’s nothing more than cheating, which defeats the purpose of the whole open relationship concept.