Whenever people hear that I’m in an open relationship, they’re noticeably taken aback. Some go as far as to question me on what that even means. I can tell you what it means for me and my relationship, but that in no way means I know the rules set in place for other people’s relationships. Keep in mind most open relationship-conditions are case by case.
My guy and I grew up around the corner from each other, went to high school together, and were friends for three years before we started dating. Unfortunately, in spite of our proximity at home, we chose to go to schools on other sides of the states. Long distance works just dandy for some people, but eventually, we decided openness was better for us. So here’s a quick list of parameters and advice I have if you and your partner want to try being in an open relationship.
1) We still have each other’s backs.
This means that just because we might date other people doesn’t mean we don’t still love each other. We’re still the people the other turns to for a lot of things, and we still tell each other about our days. He’s still my guy, except now I’m allowed to go on a date with someone else and then tell him about it, and vice versa. An open relationship is still a relationship. If your partner isn’t being a partner anymore, they may have bridged the line between consensual openness and cheating.
2) Communication is KEY
Obviously, right? But this is where a lot of relationships suffer. I don’t necessarily want to hear about my boyfriend’s escapades, being the anxious person I am, but I want to know he’s being safe, so I only require small updates from him if there are any. On the flipside, he’s not a jealous person, so I’m very transparent with him–I tell him when I have a date, how it went, how I feel. If you’re not expressing your feelings and what’s going on, resentment, lies, and grudges are bound to start building. Be clear about how much you wanna hear, and then get it out in the open. It’s your partner, after all. You should be able to trust them with this kind of information.
3) Transparency with Other Partners is also KEY
I am straight forward about the fact that I’m in an open relationship when I meet new people. No one likes to be led on, and no one wants to think that they’re helping you cheat. Be clear that your partner has given you consent to be seeing other people, and that your date has done nothing wrong by agreeing to go out with you.
4) Open Relationships Are Not For Everyone
My partner and I have actually tried openness twice before, and only now has it felt safe, solid, and clear cut. Make sure parameters are set on what you can and cannot do, make sure everyone consents and there is no pressuring to be open from one half of the relationship, and make sure you’re safe about it. And if an open relationship isn’t for you, do not, I repeat, do NOT agree to be in one. My boyfriend sat and waited patiently for a long time when I asked we stay monogamous, because he didn’t want to force me into something I didn’t want to do. You should NEVER be pressured to do something that goes against your code of morals in a relationship. Don’t feel obligated to be in an open relationship because it’s the “fun, hip, millennial thing to do.” Examine your own relationship, weigh the values of your partner against your own, and see what’s best for you. For my boyfriend and me, it was an open relationship. But hey, relationships are different for everyone.