Broaching the Subject of Open Relationships

I was asked recently about the topic of how to broach the subject of an open-relationship with a new partner, and when should you bring that up? Combine that with my inquiry into the topic of my next post and voila … we are HERE!

Before I get into that I want to talk a bit more about the basis, structure and possibilities of an open relationship. The reason being is the importance to know that it is not for everyone and there are so many different ways to set it up – the right way is your way, the way that works for your relationship(s).

You can choose to love one person romantically. Or not. You can choose to love more than one person romantically. Or not. You can even choose to exchange the word love for fuck.

It is all a personal choice.

Some people are just not naturally monogamous. Some people are. Some people need variety. Some don’t. Neophobes vs neophiles if you want to get all technical.

You have to figure out which one you are before you can pursue an open relationship.

If you are unsure, be open to exploring and figuring that out for yourself through experimentation. In what other situation does experimentation include getting naked? Pretty sweet deal in my humble opinion! I would experiment just because! And by all means take your time … sweet, sexy time.

What people love about open relationships is the freedom to simply be able to talk, flirt, connect with other people without expectations or guilt! You can pursue them romantically or sexually if you want, or not, based on the agreements you have with your partner(s).

It is based on a belief that you can love more than one person and have an intimate relationship with more than one person. Without feeling bad or wrong about it. Way more than enough love to go around.

You can be more of who you are. This is MY favorite part, personally. You don’t have to suppress your natural instinct. You are allowed to be yourself, exactly who you are: with your thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.

When you can fully, truly be yourself with someone you are naturally going to have a deeper connection with them.

It definitely requires radical honesty. Where honesty is important in all relationships, it is absolutely critical in open relationships. Obviously you can’t say every single thing that is going on in your head and heart (not enough time in the day) but don’t hold things back when they come up. You have got to share how you feel. Especially giving truthful answers to explicit questions when asked.

Think about how many white lies get told in monogamous relationships? Or blatant lies like cheating and affairs! People do not feel like they can have what they want so they hide, lie, cheat … it’s a painful and ugly place to be.

The beauty of an open relationship is the level of honesty.

You are free to say whatever is true for you, thoughts, feelings, etc. Everyone takes responsibility for their needs, wants, desires, reactions, emotions and the space that creates for the relationship and the connection that deepens as a result is amazing.

Besides, not everyone’s life looks the same … why should their relationships?

For me personally, I am a traveler. I may be separated from my partner for a month or two at a time and want to be able to have sex with someone else if that is available. And I want the same for him!

The current structure that my boyfriend Bob and I have is that we are each other’s primary partner. That works for us! I’m his lady and he’s my man. Our agreement is that we are not seeking others out but if it happens, especially when either of us are traveling, then cool! Our motto is have fun and tell me about it afterward.

But we definitely talked about it a few times. We had some initial agreements and then revisited them a week or two later and redesigned. Here is the thing – you probably will never have one agreement for the rest of your relationship either. It will change and evolve as you all change and evolve. That is another thing that is beautiful and special about it too!

So as you get ready to begin the conversation with a potential partner around an open relationship, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What about an open relationship appeals to me? What excites me?
  • Am I going to be okay with knowing about and/or seeing my partner sleep with other people? Or even the same person (if you are in a triad/threesome situation)?
  • If I am not comfortable with certain aspects of open, is it even something I want to explore and/or participate in?
  • What type of set up would feel good for me? What am I comfortable exploring initially?

You have got to be clear about your level of desire and comfort up front. This is the only way it can work; if you are on the same page. It will eat at you eventually if you are not.

Now that we have the basic information down, it is time to look at initiating the conversation around getting into and designing an open relationship, which will definitely require exercising those radical honesty muscles.

The best way to go about talking about the possibility of starting or being in an open relationship is to be upfront and straightforward.

No beating around the bush and/or delaying the ‘inevitable.’ I feel this way about most conversations when it comes to dating or starting a relationship, but ESPECIALLY so when it comes to an open one.

I will clue you in on something … the way you do this talk will inform how you will do many other talks. The way I like to think about it is asking myself the following: “How would I want the conversation to be broached with me?” or “How do I want the communication to be in our relationship ideally?” Then BEGIN creating that NOW.

The other thing to keep in mind is simply be curious.

You want to gather information as neutrally as possible. This is how you will find out what the other person wants without them tailoring their answers to what they think you want or expect them to say.

Here are some questions you could ask to get the ball rolling:

  • Ideally, what kind of a relationship do you want?
  • What are your thoughts on open relationships?
  • What has been your experience with the way your past relationships were structured?
  • Have you ever considered an open relationship?

And then go from there. Allow the conversation to have a life of its own.

Be open, be curious, be honest.

Those are the most important! I had an experience of this same type of conversation, setting up our open relationship, with my previous boyfriend and I was SO glad I was honest about what I wanted and needed. I wrote a post about it as well!

You can have the kind of relationship you want because there are others that want the same. It’s your job to communicate what it is you want and keep looking until you find someone that is on the same page as well!

Photo Credit: Flick/Pedro Ribeiro Simoes

P.S. If you are looking for support around dating or sex or designing relationships, my boyfriend Bob and I (who are also in an open relationship) are working together to offer a myriad of resources and support! You can get more information at (a project we created together around Sex and Relationships), as well as find out how to work with us HERE!

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