More and more dots on the sexual spectrum are shedding their taboo factor and becoming, dare we say, mainstream. (Think BDSM’s rise to popularity, with a huge hat tip to Mr. Grey, of course). Another hawt talk topic these days is open relationships – but like whips and spankings, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of sexual activity.
So how do you know if you actually want to dip your toes in the open relationship sea? Well, we’ve got a few thoughts on the matter:
Monogamish vs. polyamorous
Advice columnist Dan Savage coined the term “monogamish,” which he and his husband call their relationship. They both are allowed to have sex on the side, but they don’t date or develop emotional attachments to their partners.
Polyamory is a whole different ball game which involves dating multiple people, forming bonds with multiple people, and even being in love with multiple people. The point being, to a degree, rather than hide feelings, be open about them.
If you’re single, try seeking out a non-monogamous date.
A great way to decide if an open relationship might be your cup of tea is to become part of one (rather than starting one with a partner). One O’a team member had a great experience meeting a man online who had a primary partner but both he and his lady enjoyed casual dating and sex on the side. “That experience was like a relationship lite – we enjoyed good sex, fun dates and illuminating conversations, but skipped all the intimate moments and hard talks that come from real commitment.”
She even felt inspired by the couple: “They were incredibly open and honest with another about what they were thinking, who they were seeing, and how they felt. I was impressed by their level of communication!” Which leads to our next point, actually…
The first rule of open relationships is you have to talk about your open relationship.
At least a little, and preferably a lot (though some couples choose a don’t ask, don’t tell policy). If you are in a committed, stable relationship, opening it up requires that you express yourself, your wants, and your needs. Which means a) it helps to be in touch with your wants and needs and b) it helps to be able to be vulnerable with your partner. Also, when treading in this territory, it’s important to communicate what the rules, boundaries and nature of the openness are for you. (and be super adamant about protection.)
Other than that, there are no hard and fast rules – it’s really up to what you and your partner decide.
Pro tip: We recommend an “off-limits” rule, where the two of you talk about people you would not be okay with your significant other hooking up with.
Opening up your relationship almost assuredly will not “save” your relationship.
If your relationship is sinking, we really don’t think that agreeing to sleep with other people is the answer. It might keep your breakup at bay for a few extra weeks or months, but everyone in successful open relationships have one big thing in common: they’re in successful relationships first and foremost.
We can’t help but think of Dido as we wrote this point.
Move like a snail.
Not in bed (unless you’re into that, of course), but in the opening up of your relationship. It’s a-okay to start just by talking to your partner about people you find attractive, or even doing research together (Start here with this article in Bustle). Getting all cheetah-like and going from monogamous to multiple partners in the course of a week or two can quickly get your and your partner’s emotions all wonky, and cause friction where there needn’t be.
Of course, this is just a primer to ponder if an open relationship is something you want to explore. Think about these points and reflect on how the idea makes you feel.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on open relationships. Is it titillating? Off-putting? Weird in a good way? Weird in a bad way? Whatever you feel is absolutely fine. And of course, if this sounds terrible, then don’t do it – you come first.