If you’ve just made the decision to explore an open relationship, you’re probably wondering what boundaries you should establish. It might seem scary to open yourself up to an unknown experience, but setting clear sexual and emotional boundaries and open relationship rules can help make sure your primary relationship stays at the centre.
Open relationships and open marriages are becoming more and more popular these days. A lot of the traditional ideas about monogamy are starting to be put to one side, and there is a lot more openness about exploring different areas of your sexual identity.
However, it’s perfectly understandable that you would have some doubts and some worries about how to go about it. The last thing you want is for an exciting adventure to go wrong.
So, here are a few common open relationship rules that can help you build trust and security with your partners.
1. Be Confident that You Can Handle an Open Relationship
The first question that you need to ask yourself is: are you actually ready to handle this?
A lot of people love the idea in principle. What’s not to like? You can keep the relationship that you are currently in and the love that’s there while getting to have other sexual encounters with more than one person, too.
But you also need to think about the fact that your partner will be doing the same thing you are. If you haven’t thought this through carefully, you may find that feelings of jealousy and insecurity start to emerge.
This is why honesty and openness are so important, so that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what to expect. Emotional boundaries play an important part in any relationship, but they may become more pronounced in an open one.
The Benefits of an Open Relationship
But let’s start with the benefits of being in an open relationship or open marriage. Here are three of the most important.
- You’ll be able to explore your sexuality.
- It will allow you to address needs that aren’t being met in your current relationship.
- You can explore new things as a couple.
The key to remember with open relationships is that this is not the same as cheating. This is an agreement that you have made with your partner, and you are embarking on it together.
A lot of people find that being in an open relationship strengthens their bond because they can explore new things while staying committed to their partner.
The Risks of an Open Relationship
Of course, there are some risks to having an open relationship, like;
- You or your partner get jealous.
- Unsafe sex leading to STDs or unplanned pregnancies.
- Insecurity about whether your relationship is enough.
A lot of the risks come down to whether you and your partner are emotionally prepared for this.
But you also need to think about the practicalities of how this will work. You both need to set clear rules for each other, which brings us to our next point.
2. Set Yourself Boundaries in all Aspects of your Open Relationship
If you want an open relationship to work, you are going to need a lot of boundaries. There is still your committed relationship at the core of all of this, and you don’t want anyone to get hurt.
For example, make sure that both partners are practising safe sex, as discussed above. You may want to set a rule of full disclosure. You might also want to set a limit on the number of times that you and your partner embark on a date night outside of the couple. Set sexual boundaries for each other, or make an agreement on how many partners you can both have.
These are all important things to think about before embarking on an open relationship, as it will help keep everyone safe and make sure that no one feels taken for granted.
Examples of Celebrities with Open Marriages
Given how much time celebrities spend on the road and apart from each other, it’s hardly surprising that there have been so many stories about open marriages.
The most famous example is Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Other celebrities who have spoken about having an open relationship at some point include Dolly Parton, Mo’Nique and Shailene Woodley.
Plus, there is less pressure to conform to a monogamous relationship these days, so you may find that there are more couples who are actually in open marriages than you think.
3. Listen to your Primary Partner’s Feelings and Concerns (if they Have Any)
It’s so important that you both have an open dialogue if you are entering into an open relationship. Keep your partner happy by listening to what they have to say about this new adventure.
Better Help states, “communication is typically key for the development and maintenance of any relationship, and this is especially true for romantic relationships”. Whether that’s monogamous relationships, open relationships or polyamorous relationships.
Make sure that you ask them how they are feeling about it all, both before and after you start dating other people. Ask them if there is anything that they would like to ask you about your encounters and if there is anything that they are worried about.
You might well find that they are completely happy and love the open relationship. But if concerns start and aren’t addressed, they can only grow.
4. Make Sure this isn’t a One-Sided Open Relationship
This is something that some people don’t think about as a possibility until it happens to them. It’s one thing to agree to an open relationship, it’s quite another to follow through.
You or your partner may find that there is no one out there who they are interested in pursuing, while the other gets off to a flying start. If you’ve both agreed that you would both like to see other people, it can be incredibly hurtful to see your partner having fun with someone else.
If you find yourself in this situation, talk to your partner about what’s happening and what the potential reasons for it might be. You may need to reconsider your approach.
5. Set Open Relationship Rules on Who it’s Okay to Sleep with
It’s a good idea to set some rules for who you and your partner are going to be seeing when you start an open relationship. A lot of people think it means “anyone and everyone”, but think about it a little more carefully.
There may be people in your life that you don’t want your partner to sleep with or have sexual relationships with because it would be hurtful. Say there’s an ex that you’ve always been jealous of. They may not want you to sleep with one of their colleagues or close friends – which is pretty reasonable.
Making some rules for who it’s okay to sleep with may sound restricting, but it can help to avoid a lot of arguments.
6. Schedule in Time for your Primary Partner
You can’t afford to forget your primary partner in all of this. If you’ve agreed to explore an open relationship, that means that you’re committed to making your relationship work.
If your partner starts to feel neglected, then they may question whether you were committed at all or if you really just wanted to sleep with other people because you were looking for a way out.
Making time for your primary partner will help you to keep the bond between you strong even as you go on dates and sleep with other people. And if you really do love each other, it won’t feel like an effort!
7. Decide Whether you’re Going to Discuss your Other Partners or Not
We’ve talked about how important openness and honesty are in an open relationship. That means establishing rules and following them and telling your partner when you’re going to see someone else.
But whether you discuss your other partners with each other or not is really up to you. Some people find that it strengthens their bond, increases openness, and even adds a little excitement and fun to the process.
Others decide that they would prefer not to know and to focus on the primary relationship when they are at home. There’s no wrong answer, but it’s important to be clear on this from the beginning.
Final Thoughts: Think Through your Decision Before Jumping into an Open Relationship
Having an open relationship is becoming more and more popular, and an increasing number of people feel comfortable talking about it. There has been a huge boom in the number of dating sites and platforms for married couples looking to date other people.
However, you do need to think carefully about whether this is the right decision for you. If you don’t think it through, you may find yourself in a place where jealousy and insecurity are putting your primary relationship at risk.
So, if you think that you would like to explore open relationships, talk to your partner about your feelings and set your ground rules.
At Illicit Encounters, we can help you to find your perfect open relationship partner. We have a range of members who are looking to spice up their sex life and explore relationships outside of their marriage. Sign up today and start your journey!
What is allowed in an open relationship?
It’s up to the people in the relationship to decide what the rules are. Some people like to set boundaries about who the other person sees, and whether they talk about other partners. Safe sex is a common (and sensible) rule, but the two partners are the ones who will say what’s allowed.
Is an open relationship healthy?
An open relationship can help couples to explore their sexuality and to address needs that they can’t meet in their primary relationship. However, both partners must agree on what the rules are otherwise it can make things very difficult. Jealousy and insecurity may arise if you don’t think it through.
What are the do’s and don’ts in an open relationship?
The biggest do in an open relationship is to follow the rules that you and your partner have agreed on. You also need to keep checking in with your partner about how they are feeling about the situation. Don’t neglect your partner, and don’t sleep with anyone that they have told you not to.
Do open relationships work?
Open relationships can work very well if both partners agree that this is what they want. Following the rules is the best way for it to stay healthy and functional. It won’t work if only one partner is happy with the situation, or if only one partner is finding people to date.
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