Exploring open relationships: Are they right for you?

Open Relationships

Open relationships have increasingly become a topic of discussion in recent years, as more people seek to explore new ways of connecting with others. They offer an alternative to traditional monogamy, allowing individuals to have intimate relationships with more than one person.

In this article, we will discuss what open relationships are, the different types, how to talk to your partner about them, and how to stay safe in such arrangements.

What is an Open Relationship?

In open relationship partners agree to have intimate and sexual relationships with other people outside of their primary partnership. This can take various forms, depending on the individuals involved and their unique preferences.

For some, open relationships are all about sex with others besides their partner. Others want to form deeper connections or engage in romantic relationships with others.

Rule #1 of open relationships: The only rules are those you define together with your partner(s)

Most open relationships are open in both directions, meaning all partners have the same rights, privileges, and engage with others. This could mean meeting other people together privately or in swinger clubs, or each on their own.

However, there are others who are open only for one partner. Either by choice or because of special arrangements.

For example, in so-called “wife-sharing” couples the focus is usually on the woman getting attention from other men while the husband may occasionally be involved with other women. Cuckolding relationships, on the other hand, are only open for the woman while the man gets arousal from watching or knowing his partner is sexually engaged with others.

We’ll look at other types of open relationships in the next section!

Opening a relationship can be incredibly exciting and fulfilling…or an absolute nightmare. The key is to communicate clearly from the start and never do anything behind your partner’s back.

Types of Open Relationships

When talking about open relationships, you will come across many different ways, forms, and constellations. Here are a few that are most common:

  1. Classic “open” relationship: Two partners engage sexually or otherwise with other people, either together or on their own. There are no feelings involved towards those they meet and their relationship remains unaltered.
  2. Swinging: Swinging generally involves people (often couples) exchanging partners for sexual activities, either on a casual or more regular basis. Swinging can occur at parties, clubs, or in private settings and usually emphasizes the sexual aspect of relationships over emotional connections.
  3. Polyamory: Polyamory emphasizes emotional connections and long-term commitment between or with multiple partners. Polyamorous relationships may or may not be “open” to people outside of the main relationship.
  4. Monogamish: In a monogamish relationship, couples primarily maintain a monogamous partnership but occasionally engage in sexual activities with others. These encounters may happen individually or together, with clear boundaries and rules established to maintain the primary relationship’s integrity.
  5. Relationship Anarchy: This approach to relationships does not adhere to traditional labels or structures. Relationship anarchists prioritize individual autonomy and consent, allowing relationships to develop naturally without predefined expectations.

Not all open relationships are the same. What counts as open and what not is also super subjective.

When to Open Your Relationship…and When Not To

Only open your relationship when all partners want to do so and have clearly stated their consent. It should never be an excuse for cheating or to save an already failed relationship.

First things first: Never open your relationship with the hope it will somehow, magically fix your existing relationship issues with your partner. Been there, tried it, failed miserably.

It should also never be an excuse for cheating on each other. Open relationships involve a lot of trust which should not be broken.

When to open your relationship

The following are examples of valid and good reasons for a healthy open relationship:

  1. You both want to engage sexually or romantically with others outside of your relationship.
  2. You are okay with knowing your partner is also doing the same
  3. There is a strong and healthy bond between you and your partner
  4. All partners are good communicators and know how to articulate their desires
  5. You would like to try out swinging or sex with more than one person at a time
  6. You trust each other completely
  7. You practice safe sex at all times
  8. You get aroused by watching your partner with others or knowing they do so
  9. You live in a long-distance relationship and want to give each other the freedom to be sexually involved with others
  10. You plan to regularly take time off just for your partner

Again: These are just some examples and there are many more I have come across.

When not to open your relationship

Now on to the more critical part…very BAD reasons for opening your relationship:

  1. You don’t want yourself and/or your partner to have sex with others
  2. Trying to save a failing/failed relationship
  3. One of you has cheated and now suggests an open relationship
  4. Only one person wants to open the relationship
  5. You have difficulty trusting your partner (that’s always a bad sign)
  6. You already spend very little time with your partner

Far too often I see people opening their relationships in the hope of fixing something that’s already broken. Don’t do that, please. It’s not going to happen.

It’s also important that both of you want it and nothing is forced upon the other person. Don’t pressure yourself or your partner to open the relationship when they’re not happy.

If you feel like monogamy is what you want, then that’s what you should do.

How to Talk to Your Partner about Opening Your Relationship

Talking to your partner about opening your relationship can be scary. We get it!

You’re not alone.

You’re probably wondering what they might say, how they react, or whether this will hurt your relationship (even if you don’t open it). It’s normal to feel this way and nothing to be ashamed of!

Here are a few tips to make this a bit easier for everyone:

  1. Choose the right time and place: Pick a quiet, comfortable, and private setting where you and your partner can have an open and honest conversation without distractions.
  2. Be honest and clear: Clearly express your interest in exploring an open relationship and explain your reasons for considering it. Be open to listening to your partner’s thoughts and feelings as well.
  3. Discuss boundaries and expectations: If your partner is receptive, discuss the specific type of open relationship you are interested in and outline the boundaries and expectations for both of you.
  4. Address concerns: Be prepared to address any concerns your partner may have, such as jealousy, trust, or changes in your emotional connection.
  5. Give your partner time: Understand that your partner will need time. And you do, too. Give yourselves time and be supportive throughout.
  6. Have fun: Opening your relationship is supposed to make your lives better and be fun. Always remember the fun in everything.

Remember, no matter whether you and your partner feel the same way or differently about your relationship goals, go through each of these steps.

Yes, even if you are both 100% sure you want to open your relationship. From experience, you want to cycle through the above steps before you truly get going.

Staying Safe & Stable in Open Relationships

Safety and trust are the #1 keys to the success of open relationships.

Without them, they will quickly break apart and leave everyone sad and disappointed.


Maintain open and honest communication with all partners involved, discussing boundaries, expectations, and feelings regularly.


Ensure that all parties involved have provided clear, enthusiastic, and informed consent to participate in the open relationship.

Emotional check-ins

Regularly assess your own and your partners’ emotional well-being, addressing any concerns or issues that arise.

Safe sex practices

Engage in safe sex practices to protect yourself and your partners from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. This includes using condoms and dental dams, getting regular STI testing, and discussing sexual health with all partners.

Mental health

Be mindful of your mental health and seek professional help if you find yourself struggling with issues related to your open relationship.

If you need help or feel like your mental help is in danger, use the numbers here or here to talk to a professional!

FAQ on Open Relationships

I get quite a few questions about open relationships and I hope some of these answers help you a little bit:

I want to have sex with others…how can I tell my partner?

Openly and honestly….honestly. 😉 On a more serious note: Check out my tips on talking to your partner about opening the relationship above!

My partner wants a monogamous relationship, but I really want to open it…what do I do?

That’s a tough one. If you have talked to them and openly communicated many times…there are three choices:

1. Accept it and try to come to terms with being in a monogamous relationship. But be warned: Most people find they cannot simply ignore their feelings and desires like that.

2. Try to find an arrangement they enjoy. Maybe it’s not the opening part they refuse but they want to be involved whenever you meet someone. Or they want to open it only with certain people or times. Work out something that both of you are happy with.

3. Break up. I know that’s a bit harsh…but also the truth. Many times people find out their relationship goals are not aligned any longer. In that case, nothing will fix this and it’s only going to grow stronger the longer you wait.

We have an open relationship but my partner seems very upset with the situation, what could be the reason?

Communication is key here. Is the style of the relationship bothering them or something more specific? It could be that they cannot come to terms with the fact you are sexually active with others. Or perhaps you have dates and your partner does not…thereby feeling a great imbalance.

Whatever it may be, again: Communication is key. Maybe you just need a bit of time together or temporarily close the relationship again to set things right.


Open relationships can be super fun and rewarding, and even strengthen your relationship when done right. Be sure to only choose this lifestyle, when you truly want it this way and never from being pressured by somebody else.

No matter in what way you open your relationship, they require open communication, trust, and respect among all parties involved.

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