Navigating An Open Relationship

January 3, 2014
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Starting an open relationship isn’t easy and if you’ve decided to open up your relationship, first off, congratulations! You’re part of a small but emerging number of people who are defining their relationships on their terms. It’s easy to mistake open relationships for a free pass to fuck all that moves with tits and an ass (or at least try to), but in order to make an open relationship work – whichever style of open relationship you choose to have – the same basic rules apply.

We’re here to help of course. If you’re not sure if they even work, then read my article on my experience with open relationships (if they work or not). Here we’re going to define how to navigate an open relationship.

Define your relationship
Some couples don’t like to add a definition like ‘polyamorous’ or ‘swinger’ to their relationship. This is fine, but you still need to know the basic definition of how your relationship dynamic is going to be. Will you both be pursuing outside relationships other than yours? Or will you only play together at special parties? Will it be ok if your partner sees someone without you? Are only casual encounters allowed, or encounters when one of you is away on a trip?

navigating open relationships
It’s important to set the boundaries

These are questions best answered before the open relationship begins so as to avoid any misunderstandings. The rules can always be discussed again later if they need to be changed.

Take things slow
The basic rule is that you need to go at the speed of the partner who is slowest. One step forward, two steps back. If you try and force or rush things, there is a high chance that one or both of you might get hurt in the process.

Define your boundaries
This is important. You need to be clear about what is ok and what is not for both of you, when it comes to sexual encounters, time management, time spent, falling in love etc. Will it be ok for each of you to fall in love with other people, or is it only sex? Or can you make out and touch but no penetration? Is it ok for you to sleep over or bring someone home? Are you cool with them going on holidays together? Do you get veto power of whom they see? And other very serious questions need to be asked.

Sometimes you might not cover a boundary until it arises. It’s best to deal with these situations with patience and understanding. Which bring us to…

Endless patience and understanding
It isn’t easy navigating matters of the heart. Jealousy and insecurity can rear their ugly heads and people can act irrationally. At all times communication needs to be open, peppered with lots of patience and understanding. The important thing is to always listen to your partner and not just brush off feelings of jealousy. Jealousy usually comes from thinking you might lose your partner. Instead of just expecting them to know you’re not going to leave, always talks things over and reassure. Remember, actions speak louder than words. If your partner is extremely uncomfortable with you seeing someone, always take that seriously.

These are just some of the basics for navigating open relationships. Check out some books on open relationships that I reviewed to find out more. Open relationships can take a lot of time, patience and effort but those who have managed to navigate them successfully have found a lot of rewards, especially in spicing up their current relationship. Good luck!

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