How do you have an open relationship

No decisions made from the moment

Before opening up your monogamous relationship, you need to ask yourself why you want this.

  • Do you and your partner have the same vision of life?
  • Are you good at resolving conflicts together?
  • Can you speak openly and honestly about anything?
  • What kind of relationship do you want to have?
  • Do your relationship values ​​match?

It's not about 100 percent agreeing. But you should feel safe in the connection with your partner and have the deep certainty that you can master together, no matter what may come.

What is your starting point?

It makes a big difference whether you have already lived a polyamorous life and met a like-minded partner, or whether you want to open a monogamous relationship. As a rule, there are two ways people want to open their relationship: Both partners have developed there by researching, talking, and making a mutual decision. Or one partner gives the impulse and the other has to or wants to follow it.

Unfortunately, the latter scenario is more common. The affected partner is overwhelmed with the decision and asks himself many questions, for example whether he / she would like to live in an open relationship at all or whether he / she can cope with the opening on an emotional level. One possible consequence could be permanent excessive demands. In these cases we also experience in our practice that opening is the beginning of the end of a relationship.

Opening as a voluntary decision by both partners

It is extremely important for the process of opening up a relationship that all those involved participate voluntarily and that the partners' motives are clear. Sometimes we see one of them building up the pressure by saying, "If you don't accept it, I'll leave you or I'll secretly cheat on you." It is obvious that this cannot work. Such a build-up of pressure leaves pain, imbalance and sometimes even trauma in the other person.

Therefore, clarify exactly why you want to open the relationship. What are the longings behind it? Your alarm bells should sound if the opening is basically an escape because the current relationship is deficient. These can be, for example, arguments, boredom, carelessness, devaluation, lack of desire and much more. If the opening is to help other people to compensate for these discrepancies, this must be viewed extremely critically.

Polyamory as a strengthening of the relationship

However, if the decision to polyamory is made consciously out of a happy partnership, an honestly communicated external relationship can even stabilize the primary relationship - at least as long as the third person plays along and remains in the role of the lover. For example, one partner may be less interested in sex than the other and the other person may act out the need with someone else. This can definitely work if those involved speak openly about their needs and negotiate the details with all due care.

Care and mindfulness

Be aware that a great deal of care and thought is required when a monogamous relationship is opened. It is also important that you as a couple work permanently on the relationship. Polyamorous relationships are no license to ensure that everything is allowed. If you dream of an open relationship and confront your partner about it, you are likely to feel guilty. After all, you don't want to hurt him / her with your wishes and actions.

In order for the relationship to open up, you should avoid the following five “thinking mistakes”.

1. Everything stays as it was

If you want to open up your monogamous relationship, this is a big change. There is a lot that you don't see at first glance. This creates uncertainty. This means that there is a great risk that after opening you will immediately take a step back so that everything stays as it was.

Rules are not an absolute safety net

Many couples first set up rules that aim to make the change smaller and more bearable. For example, it is decided that neither partner should fall in love or spend the night with someone else. Many also state that one-night stands are allowed, but not longer-term relationships. Of course, as a couple, you should think about your limits. Be aware, however, that some things are neither predictable nor controllable. You can't put feelings into rules, not in the present and certainly not for the future.

But when rules are broken, there is a major breach of trust. Often this is perceived by the partner as a failure of the relationship. It makes a lot more sense to establish guidelines instead. Be aware of what you value most in your relationship. Should something happen outside of these guidelines, this is taken as an opportunity to talk to the partner and develop the partnership further.

Potential for relationship growth

The best reason to make a decision to open the relationship is this: you both see the potential benefits and growth that come with it. This growth has a positive effect on the relationship. But it doesn't mean that it will always be easy or easy. It's always scary when you step out of your comfort zone. Usually, however, courage is rewarded.

Dare to be more free

If the relationship opens up, you have the freedom to go on sexual and romantic journeys of discovery, you can permanently work on your communication skills and thereby strengthen the bond between you and your partner. Surveys have shown that people in polyamorous relationships are just as happy or even more satisfied than people in monogamous relationships. So do not try to leave everything as it is, but prepare yourself for changes on many levels and let yourself be surprised.

2. Don't think that jealousy can be avoided

Of course, in the beginning it makes sense to do just that. Who would want to lie on the couch and watch their partner get dressed up for a date? Doesn't it sound a lot more tempting to be on the road at the same time and have the same options? Nobody feels left out or has to struggle with jealousy. In theory, this makes total sense, but expect a rude awakening anyway: like all emotions, jealousy is anything but rational.

If, deep down in your heart, you can't stand your partner having sex with someone else, it doesn't automatically go away just because you have the same freedom. In an open relationship, you need to be aware of your inner insecurities and learn how to still get what you need in your relationship. Perhaps you also had the idea to try a threesome so that you don't get confronted with your jealousy. Before you bring someone else into your relationship, ask yourself the following question: How do I feel when my partner has sex or a date with the third person alone? If you are very uncomfortable with this idea, you are not yet ready to open the relationship.

3. I've already said everything

You have long known: communication is the basis of a good relationship. But how easy do you find conversations in a polyamorous relationship? Neither of us has learned to talk to our partner about the most intimate weaknesses or sexual health. In addition, we are far from being used to listening to our partner talk about their experiences with others. In addition, the critical questions about the social environment need to be answered. Many open relationships fail because of communication, despite the best of intentions.

Learn to communicate

If the two of you don't have the slightest idea how to talk about such topics as a couple, things get difficult. Expect communication to be difficult and tiring and at first you will feel strange talking about all of these topics. But the more you practice, the easier it will be for you - and you can be sure that there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.

Negotiations are part of everyday life

In a polyamorous relationship, you will be constantly busy expressing your boundaries, negotiating agreements, and juggling between your schedule and that of your partner. While being radically honest can face resistance in the beginning, it will benefit your relationship in the long run. Studies show that people in non-monogamous relationships are much happier when it comes to communication and openness in the partnership.

4. It makes no difference whether I know the new person

Just as we have not learned how to communicate properly in polyamory, we have not learned how to behave when we meet the new lover. Many couples make the mistake of doing everything possible to avoid such an encounter. Others even go so far as not to talk at all about which person the other is dating. You don't want to let this reality get to you. If you recognize yourself in this behavior, you need to ask yourself whether an open relationship is really right for you.

Everyone knows each other

There is even a term in the polyamorous scene for the person who is in a relationship with your partner: Metamour. For an open relationship to work, you need to be honest in your communication. Everyone involved must be informed about the role they play in the overall structure and agree to this. That doesn't mean you need to build a close friendship with the Metamour, but a quick exchange of messages or a coffee together should be possible.

You participate in your partner's life

Why is it so important not to turn a blind eye to your partner's love life? On the one hand, you show your partner your full support - both in terms of your relationship and in relation to other partners. On the other hand, it is a great opportunity for you when you get to know your partner's secondary partner with all his uniqueness, interests, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and not just have an abstract concept in your head. Even if it feels difficult to meet your partner's Metamour at first, it's still worth it. Who knows how much you have in common?

5. Opening a relationship solves all problems

No relationship is perfect. Even people who are in a happy long-term relationship know the ups and downs of everyday relationships. Still, there is a difference between the occasional argument and misunderstanding and a fundamental communication or compatibility problem. If you are no longer happy in your relationship, opening up won't change that.

We advise you in your considerations for opening up your relationship and accompany this process sensitively and with competence.

Read on to open relationships and polyamory:
Part 1: definition and specifics
Part 3: jealousy
Part 4: Rules and Communication