Are you or your partner considering opening up your relationship?
Even though open relationships aren’t often talked about, they are becoming more popular. Today, somewhere between 4% and 9% of adults in the US are non-monogamous, and 1 in 5 Americans say they’ve experienced an open partnership.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of how non-monogamy works, if it’s something that would work for you and your partner, and how to go about opening up your relationship in a healthy way.
What Is an Open Relationship?
An open relationship can have different meanings depending on what boundaries you and your partner have set. In general, an open relationship is when both partners are open to exploring sexual or romantic bonds with other people.
When considering opening up, it’s best to know what all of your options are.
Monogamish relationships are grey. Sometimes both people agree they can have sex with other people. Usually people use this term when they set their own open rules that don’t explicitly line up with polyamory, swinging, relationship anarchy, or just plain sex with other people. Polyamory, on the other hand, is where both people decide that they can have outside romantic connections. Swinging involves a couple who wants to meet other couples to have sex with, and then there are relationship anarchists who don’t want their partners to be in hierarchy.
Is an Open Relationship Right For You?
There are a lot of factors that you might want to consider if you’re thinking of switching to an open relationship structure like swinging or polyamory and it’s essential to make sure that this is the right for you.
So, here are some guidelines when considering non-monogamy, who it works best for, and when it might not be a good idea.
Both of You Are Considering an Open Relationship
Non-monogamy can be great as long as both parties are on board with the idea. If you and your partner are both interested in this type of union, then you can start to explore your options together.
If you’re thinking of opening up your relationship, but your partner is against it, then it is important to keep the conversation going before making a hasty decision. It’s not healthy to be pushed in either direction.
For an open relationship to work, both people must consent to them and have set boundaries for each other. If you’re going against your partner’s established boundaries, then it’s no longer healthy or ethical.
You Both Trust Each Other
If you don’t trust each other from the beginning, an open relationship will only complicate things. Many relationships fail because they are opening up for the wrong reasons such as infidelity, or because they aren’t connecting. Part of opening up is trusting that your partner will support you, communicate, and that they won’t cross boundaries.
Just remember that it’s essential to resolve any trust issues you may have before trying to open things up.
You Both Communicate Well
Opening up a relationship takes a lot of effort and communication to keep the partnership healthy. Couples need to express their feelings and learn how to handle negative emotions when they come up. For example, jealousy is a common emotion you may experience, but you can take care of it by talking it out with your partner.
Another reason why communication is so important is that couples need to set boundaries for each other. Boundaries are helpful because they will keep both parties comfortable in addition to establishing ground rules.
Your Sex Life Is Lacking
Sex is a significant factor when it comes to having a healthy partnership. So what do you do if you and your partner don’t have compatible sex? Some couples will open up their relationship to help meet both of their sexual needs.
If you and your partner are struggling with incompatible sex drives but you’re not sure if an open relationship is a good idea for you, there are other options you can try.
Discussing Open Relationships With Your Partner
Suggesting nonmonogamy with your partner might seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to communicate what you want. If you’re both interested in stepping away from monogamy, the first step is to do your research.
Some helpful books we recommend if you are considering opening up your relationship are: The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, and Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy
Reading these books and discussing them with your partner will give you a better idea if an open relationship is ideal for the two of you. They explain the different types of non-monogamy and how to start practicing them.
How Couples or Sex Therapy Can Help
Whatever stage you’re at in opening your relationship, speaking with a sex therapist can help. Couples counseling and sex therapy are great ways to communicate with your partner because there’s a mediator there to guide the two of you.
If you and your partner are considering opening up, reach out to us and see if our services can help. We would love to help you build a stronger bond together.
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