If you are reading this, you are probably looking to understand more about open relationships. What is an open relationship, in your opinion? What does it mean for you when you hear someone is engaged in multiple partnerships?
How do open relationships work? Precisely what does an open relationship mean? What are some ground rules for open relationships?
Worry not, because we are going to share the answers to these and other questions with you. When you understand what does it mean to be in an open relationship, you can make an informed choice.
What is an open relationship?
Open relationship meaning is all about the freedom to pursue sexual and emotional attachments with multiple people. Being in an open relationship means both partners are free to date other people according to rules they agreed on.
Distinctions and types of open relationships
An open relationship definition places them in between swinging and polyamorous relationships. Those three categories are part of a larger group of consensually non-monogamous relationships. There are significant differences, though.
Swinging partners pursue sexual encounters with other people that are solely sexual, and they do so together. In polyamorous relationships, partners can have multiple committed relationships at once, emotionally, and sexually. Interestingly, in polyamory, there is no association between need fulfillment with one partner and commitment to the other partner(s).
So, what is an open relationship? Open relationships are sort of a middle ground between swinging and polyamory.
A person can enjoy such a type of open relationship called partnered nonmonogamy. Your primary relationship is the top priority, and you can explore open relationship dating as long as those secondary relationships are not serious. You remain committed to the primary while free to explore relationships with others.
One of the types of open relationships is polygamy. In polygamy, one or both partners have multiple spouses. One of the open marriage rules is not having romantic interactions outside of the marriages.
Finally, open relationships are not the same as cheating. There is an agreement between partners about what is acceptable, and there is no deception involved.
Open relationship rules
Open relationship rules and boundaries are something you and your partner need to agree on together. That is what the freedom of open relationships is all about – choosing what works for you as a couple. Consider the following questions and guidelines when answering together the question of how to make an open relationship work.
Sex boundaries. What sexual activities are okay? What kind of safe-sex practices are necessary? What is off the table? How often should we get tested?
Emotional boundaries. What to do if you start to fall for someone? The topic of jealousy arises in open relationships, so it is essential to agree on how to communicate about it before it happens.
People boundaries. Who is fair game? Who is off the table? Any gender boundaries?
Time boundaries. How much time is it okay to spend with other partners? What are activities exclusively yours?
Clear Expectations. How will you know your relationship is still a top priority? How will you continue to work on your relationship while exploring others?
Open relationships pros and cons
Open relationships have many potential benefits and many downsides. It all depends on what you need from a relationship. What is an open relationship? Whatever you want it to be as long as you are resourceful and persistent enough to keep working towards the advantages you need.
Check out the list and think about what attracts you to and repels you from open relationships.
Open relationship potential advantages
Freedom to pursue different interests and sides of your personality
Usually more sex
Clearer expectations and boundaries
More need fulfillment with various partners
Only boundaries that are previously agreed on by both partners
No pressure to be each other’s main resources
Heighten focus and communication about needs and wants
Hopefully, you are more clear on what is an open relationship and what it entails. You might also wonder how to have an open relationship? Although you read about the rules and setting boundaries, you might still need a guide to open relationships.
There is no single answer to the question of how to be in an open relationship. However, there is some open relationship advice that can help you in your pursuit.
Determine what kind of open relationship would you want to have
If you are involved, share your interests with your partner
Set detailed ground rules and check in often
Make it a priority to communicate regularly and honestly
Be as specific as possible
Discuss how you will talk about your relationship to others
Agree on what it means that you are committed and still the number one priority to each other
Is it the right thing for me?
Now that you understand what is an open relationship, you can ask yourself is it the right thing for you. No one but you can tell you what type of relationship would work best for you. It is not as easy as taking an online quiz. It is a soul searching moment that requires time and thought.
Start by understanding what monogamy means for you, and why you chose it so far. There could be something vital that you will miss if you engage in a non-monogamous relationship. Figuring out what needs you are looking to fulfill is the first step to finding a way how to do it.
Treat with caution
What is an open relationship that would make you happy? There are many advantages to open relationships such as freedom to pursue your interests, be yourself, and open with your sexual needs. In the video below, Susan Winter answers the questions-
Is it even possible for people who are engaged with each other to seek other people while still loving each other?
However, be careful as jealousy creeps in easily, as well as vulnerability and emotional hurt. Therefore, talk to your partner(s) regularly, be specific, and focus on how you build your relationships. Proceed mindfully and with caution.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.