What To Do When You Want An Open Relationship But He Doesn’t

An open relationship takes a lot of work, communication, honesty, and understanding. Many couples decide to take that leap, but it’s not for everybody and that’s okay. What do you do if you want an open relationship but your partner doesn’t? Should you just walk away or should you try to convince him to try it? Keep reading and find out what you can do if you’re on two different pages about monogamy.

  1. Ask yourself why you want to open up your relationship. You need to be clear on your understanding of what an open relationship means to you. Are you interested in a polyamorous arrangement where you have multiple partners but they’re more likely to be serious relationships than one-night stands or short-term flings? Do you only want to have one-time encounters? Is there something missing in your relationship that you think opening it up will fix? These are important questions. If you don’t know the answers to them, how are you going to communicate your needs to your partner?
  2. Be clear about how it would work. When you talk to your partner, he’ll likely have a lot of questions. Be prepared to communicate how you envision an open relationship working. He may be more comfortable with the idea if he can be there when you meet other men. Are you okay with that? He may be worried about STIs. If that is the case, you may be able to ease his mind by talking about sexually safe practices that you can implement to make sure that both of you minimize the risk as much as possible. Perhaps he’s afraid that you will fall in love with someone else. There may be nothing you can do to ease that worry other than telling him you do love him.
  3. Encourage him to do his own research. When you read about the love that exists in open relationships, it can be hard to deny that it’s possible and that it does work for many couples. Facebook groups are especially welcoming. There are many people there who will recommend books, articles, websites, and YouTube videos for both of you to read and watch. Group members will answer questions. This can be a good place to hear other people’s stories.
  4. Do some reading together. Get some books that explore alternative lifestyles. More Than Two has been a standard in the polyamory community for a long time. The Ethical Slut, A Happy Life in an Open Relationship, and Building Open Relationships are other good books worth reading if you want to learn more. Read them together or apart, but discuss them.
  5. Don’t do anything until agreements are made. If you jump the gun and get started without him, you’re begging for trouble. It will put a bigger rift between the two of you. Give him time to learn and do the research. During that time, give him space to think. Be encouraging when he asks questions. Never assume that something is understood. Communication is one of the most important factors to making an open relationship work and if you can’t communicate before the relationship opens up, it’s going to be even harder if you do enter an open relationship.
  6. Be prepared to let it go. How important is this to you? Do you feel like this is the only way you can happily live your life, or is he more important to you than the lifestyle that you are considering? If he’s more important to you, be prepared to drop the topic. If you keep talking about it until you get your own way, it will likely lead to the end of the relationship. You don’t want him to feel pressured into it. You want him to make the decision on his own.
  7. Be prepared to walk away. If you are convinced that this is the only relationship style that will work for you and time and communication haven’t changed his mind, you need to be prepared for the fact that your relationship with him may come to an end. He deserves to have the kind of relationship that he wants as much as you do. It’s possible that the two of you were not meant to be together forever.

Open relationships can work. Many people are happy in their open relationship. If both parties are willing to put in the work and effort it takes to make it work, though, it will ultimately cause a rift between you. Think carefully about how much this matters to you and why you want it in the first place. Then, communicate. A lot.

Danielle has been a freelance writer for 20+ years. She lives in Canada with her dog Rogue and drinks a lot if coffee.