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How to transition into a happy open relationship

Monogamy isn’t for everyone and as Dan Savage puts it, it’s often ridiculous. Savage among others, argues that people aren’t built to be monogamous and that people who are in monogamous committed relationships often feel constrained by the traditional confines of monogamy. As a result, people look for ways to expand their relationship, and one of these ways is to pursue an open relationship or marriage.

Whether it’s something your partner has always been interested in or it’s something you’re curious about, there are ways to handle the transition into an open relationship that ensures everyone is a happy camper.

If an open relationship is something you are considering, take the following tips into account. This will ensure a fantastic, fun and sex-filled transition and help avoid any catastrophic mess-ups.

A loose guide to starting an open relationship

1. Talk it out early on

Sit down with your partner when things are calm and when you have time to hash things out. If you are the one who wants to try an open relationship, be honest and open with where you’re at, with your emotions and why you want to move forward with this change. Be sensitive to their reaction, especially if it’s negative. And if you’re not on the same page, talk about other ways to adapt your monogamous relationship, whether that’s by exploring new fantasies or taking the first step by trying a threesome.

2. Talk about it often

If you and your partner decide to embark on this transition together, now is the time to continue talking. Remember you are doing this together, it’s not just your journey, which means that you need to let them know how you are feeling along the way. Often people think that opening up a relationship is like taking a “break” from your current one. This is as far from the truth as you can get. When you open up your relationship, you actually become closer to your partner, just in a different way than before. Which means that if you stop communicating, your relationship will crumble.

3. Establish ground rules

Now this comes down to communication and honesty. Figure out what rules you want to establish and discuss these rules early and thoroughly.  Do you want to know about the dates your partner goes on? And if so, do you want to know beforehand or hear the details afterward? Are there certain things that are off-limits? Maybe you’re fine with your partner going on dates, but not spending the night with someone else. Be realistic and open—it’s natural to feel jealous sometimes, so acknowledge those feelings early on. For this situation to work, you need complete honesty. Otherwise, people will get hurt.

4. Establish a NO list

This is exactly what it sounds like. Come up with a list of the people you don’t want your partner sleeping with. Is it your sibling or coworker or best friend? Figure out who they are and write them down. Talk it out and be open to the list your partner will bring as well.

5. Take it slow

Take things one step at a time. Don’t rush it. Dip your feet in the water before you dive in. This way you and your partner can talk things out if there are red flags and before things take a turn for the worse. The last thing you want to do is get hurt or inflict emotional pain. By taking things slow, it gives both you and your partner time to digest the transition you are both making.

As with condoms or bras, one size does not fit all. The same goes for relationships—they’re all unique. Which means that the following tips are a guide and nothing more. Do what feels best for you but keep these in mind as you go.

Photo credit: Kichigin/Shutterstock