Open Relationship Rules: How To Successfully Date People Outside Your Relationship

Open relationships have become increasingly popular as a solution for the limitations of monogamy and they’re not just a last-ditch attempt to save a failing marriage. Open relationships have a huge value in society even if many people don’t recognize it. There are much higher and better quality levels of communication when more people are involved. Plus, you have to relearn all the rules that people unthinkingly accept in a monogamous relationship. Here are some open relationship rules you must follow if you want to do this successfully.

  1. Practice radical honesty. This is one of the most (if not the most) important open relationship rules in existence. This isn’t the time to back yourself into a corner and not assert your needs. People will care about you and ask about what is important to you in a relationship. Your expectations. Your boundaries. Safe works. Kinks. You name it, they’ll check in with you about it. Have answers ready and dedicate time to unpacking your own desires. Go beyond the surface too. As you unlearn monogamy, there will be lots of bumps in the road and things to reconsider. Here is your time to design your new relationship. Take responsibility and advocate for yourself. Open relationships work because they’re adaptable and move with time. They aren’t as rigid as closed marriages. Be honest with yourself and others.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I don’t just mean that you have to ask how their day was when they get back from work. Dedicate time and space to catch up with each other. You aren’t reading the news off a cheat sheet. Make it a form of quality time and learn about your partners. It will make for a more relaxed, comfortable, and experimental space. Ask about their past and their future goals and aspirations.
  3. Redefine boundaries. Each relationship is different in the makeup, personnel, and tiers of relationships. Some relationships are split equally between the participants in traditional polygamy. However, with open marriages specifically, there is a general understanding that the core couple will be the individuals who are legally married. Now, if daytime drama miniseries tell us anything, it’s that this might change. However, in the preliminary phase, asserting, defining, and labeling these boundaries is not only helpful but healthy. Even if you are the person who is lower in the pecking order, you need to know that. It influences how you conduct yourself and determines what behavior is appropriate or not.
  4. Abandon the unspoken laws of monogamy. There are so many aspects of relationships in traditional monogamous marriages that you don’t even question. They become rules. How the conventional relationship evolves is supposedly a linear and unceasing process from introduction to moving in, to pet, to kids, to a retirement home. Give or take a few steps. But you can do things out of order, or throw the list in the river and burn it. Find your own love language and figure out what makes sense for your relationships. There are no wrong answers and more than one right one. This is the time to experiment.
  5. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. Half of them won’t understand you because they haven’t committed to learning about you. They’re the same people that remain content with their bigoted biases and never feel acted upon to reconsider them. The sort of people who had things handed to them 40 years ago and chalked it up to talent and drive. We know that’s not the point, but those people aren’t important to your growth. Leave them and ignore them.
  6. Focus on what you want out of the relationship. While you’re relearning things about the way that society works, take a minute to think about your own relationship with relationships. You might find that all the unexpected or non-traditional desires you had can now be achieved. Multiple people have skills and talents and ways of supporting you in a way that isn’t possible with a single person. You don’t have to trade-off values or sacrifice in a relationship. Think about it accumulatively. Pursue what your current relationship lacks and you’ll find a more fulfilling romantic space.
  7. Have regular check-ins. Sometimes, communication can be hard. Particularly when with like-minded people who themselves communicate in an intensely honest, intimate way. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Some things are difficult to hear, but you need to hear them in order to improve. To grow as a person and together. You might want an open relationship but your partner might get second thoughts – respect that.

Think things through, and know yourself before anything else. Casual relationships have a lot to offer so put your best foot forward and make some rules.

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.