How To Discuss Open Relationships With Your Partner
Bored of two's company? Three's allowed!
Do you love your partner, but feel a little freaked out by the prospect of having just one bedfellow for the rest of your life? Then maybe non-monogamy is for you.
Thanks to the internet, people are being exposed to more and more relationship configurations. Bored of two's company? Three's allowed! Hell, maybe you even want to enter into an open relationship, where secondary sexual partners are allowed (usually after some discussion).
As opposed to straightforward monogamy, where seeking sex outside of the relationship counts as cheating, non-monogamy (and all the wonderful subsets it encompasses) sees it as human nature. Does wanting to have sex with someone else mean you love your partner any less? A larger and larger number of people increasingly think no. In fact, a recent YouGov survey reported that only ‘half of millennials’ wanted a monogamous relationship.
But how do you talk to your partner about opening up the relationship? To find out, I took to twitter and poly forums to ask newly non-monog couples how they made the transition.
"Approach it slowly, have reasons in mind and be completely open about what you want. Don't hold back on anything. It's going to come as a shock so you cant have any maybes to your reasoning."
- James, whose partner recently asked him for an open relationship having discovered her BDSM kink.
This might seem obvious, but going up to your partner and saying, "hey, by the way, you know your friend Alex? I was wondering if I could bang them, and other people, is that cool?" might not be the best way of approaching such a sensitive issue. Trust yourself and what you want, and speak openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings, but don't go all in immediately.
Maybe experiment with going on kissing other people on nights out, or setting up your own Tinder profiles, whatever seems like the first step for you.
Communication Is Everything…
Why do people get upset about cheating? Because you or your partner slept with someone else? No, because you or your partner betrayed the other’s trust! Just because you want/are about to be in an open relationship, doesn’t mean you can’t do the same thing.
Start out with a list of rules. Think about what you really want from an open relationship, and what you and your partner want to share with one another. Maybe you’re opening up to explore your sexuality, or indulge a kink your partner doesn’t share, then maybe set rules to only use the open relationship to try those things out? Even the most advanced poly-couples still have boundaries.
You also need to think about how much of your extra-relational affairs you want to divulge to your partner. Some people would rather not hear about their partner’s same sex fumbles, or how Terri managed to make you cum using nothing more than a goose feather, but you never know, maybe they’ll get off on it and it’ll draw you together. You need to find what works for you!
Beat The Binary
Relationships are complex things. Monogamy and non-monogamy aren’t like on and off switches, but more like a dimmer (how’s that for a horrible analogy?) At different points in your life, you might want to be more or less monogamous than you’re used to.
The beauty of an open relationship is that, as opposed to traditional monogamy, non-monogamy allows your relationship to evolve with your appetites. But it’s also important to remember that just because you’re open, you don’t have to go date crazy like you just started sexy rumspringa!
If you don’t fancy dating straight away, don’t push yourself to do things you don’t want to do! Especially if you feel like you’re in competition with your partner. Just because they’re dating, doesn’t mean that you need to too. Do whatever feels right for you, and remember to communicate openly and honestly with your partner. If you feel they’re dating too much, or you’re worried they’re not enjoying the non-monog experience, talk about it!
Keep Your Diary Open
The modern world is stressful. Between work and commuting, the cost of going out and the tantalising temptation of the latest Netflix binge, it can be pretty hard to schedule in quality time with your significant other. Now imagine that you’re also dating new people on the side. Suddenly your diary seems pretty full, right?
Well, one thing you always need to keep in mind, after you’ve opened up, is the relationship you’re already in.
“You really need to remember to make time for your current partner,” advised Casey. “It’s natural to get excited for your new dating life, but you need to care for your current relationship too. Just because you’re off exploring doesn’t mean you can neglect what you’ve got at home.”
Remember to make regular plans with your partner, and not just assume that they’re off having their own great time. If you don’t want to spend time with your SO, you might as well be single, right?
Are you a non-monogamous couple that started off as a closed book? Let me know! I’d love to hear your transition story.
- Words by Josh Pappenheim
Now why not check out a bunch of awkward people playing an awkwardly sexy game of would you rather...?