Having any romantic relationship can be challenging, but when discussing moving from a monogamous relationship to an open relationship, it can open the door to numerous complex issues, especially in marriage. Creating a set of do’s and don’ts can help ease the tension – and it’s very important to consider these and acknowledge their weight before walking in and dropping the “open relationship” bomb on your significant other.
Some couples attempt to open the confines of their relationship to other people, but if a relationship is in a weakened state to begin with, opening it up to others is a surefire way to quickly hasten its demise. However, if a relationship is solid, it can possibly be done.
Start With Small Steps
If the lines of communication are open and strong, and it seems like both partners would be up for it, then you can start the conversation gently. Just take baby steps toward the actual process of asking. However, it’s not recommended to drop hints, as they could be misinterpreted as wanting to end the relationship, rather than keeping the relationship and opening it up to others.
Several reasons or factors can lead to the desire for an open relationship. Maybe the partners are best friends and deeply in love, but the sexual aspect simply never clicked. Or perhaps one partner suffered an injury and can no longer perform sexually. Any of these reasons can be used as the starting point for a topic of conversation about an open relationship. The list of reasons goes on, but just be aware of the dangers before ever broaching the topic.
Don’t Be Forceful or Pushy
The quickest way to scare off a partner is to demand an open relationship. Keep in mind that while one partner may feel this is wonderful, the other may think it’s the absolute worst idea ever – and dropping that bomb might end what was a healthy, strong relationship.
However, if the time has come and it’s a viable request, do it in a way that does not threaten the other partner. It cannot be done with half-truths or keeping secrets. That is a sure way to force the other partner’s hand. The sole way for it to work is if both parties want the same thing and can speak frankly about it.
Address Any Fears
Obviously, if this is new territory for you or your primary partner, there could be some fear or hurt feelings. Address those fears and reassure your partner of the dedication to stay together and that it is not a fault of theirs causing this, but rather a desire to explore various outside avenues, either sexually or romantically. But do not lay blame on your partner. Explain the benefits that could result out of an open relationship.
If the talk does not go well, or your partner still has reservations, reassure them of your commitment by tabling it for another time. If your partner is open to the idea, don’t jump up and rush out on a date with another person just yet. Talk it through, and think of all the possible outcomes and feelings that are sure to come up as a result of your primary relationship’s barriers being relaxed.
Set Ground Rules
In addition to keeping secrets, not playing by established rules will hasten the demise of the primary relationship. For example, at the start of an open relationship, both parties could come home to one another, discuss events outside the relationship for full transparency, and reestablish the desire to stay together even though the relationship has been opened to others. Another ground rule is to always keep lines of communication open, including sharing all types of communication that happen with any partners outside the primary relationship.
If there are children in the household, keep in mind how confused they could become by your open relationship arrangement. It is very important to establish a ground rule that disclosure to children about the open relationship should not occur. That information should remain for adults only. Do not let the children become aware of any aspect of the open relationship until they have formed their own values and could understand what is going on.
As challenging as things can be, it is crucial to set ground rules ahead of time, and most importantly, to obey them. This is a matter of honesty and respect for your partner, which will help keep your primary relationship on solid ground.
Comprehensive Relationship Counseling in New Jersey
At Advanced Psychology Partners, we handle all types of mental health issues with a special focus on couples issues and sexual issues. If you wish to explore an open relationship, we can help you and your partner come to an agreement, as well as speak through any issues stemming from your open relationship.
We are professionals and have experience with all types of lifestyle choices. If you and your loved one wish to explore a new lifestyle but are concerned, contact us for guidance. We offer a complimentary “meet and greet” session to place both partners at ease and introduce everyone concerned.
Call us at (973) 534-5333, or request an appointment using our online form. We look forward to helping you navigate your relationship concerns.