This is the 21st century, a time when cellphones and laptops rule the world. A time when relationships aren't as conventional as they used to be. People are in open relationships, and although they're open, they're still RELATIONSHIPS and relationships have rules. The following are rules that will make your open relationship work, by keeping things open, but giving yourself boundaries, so things don't spiral too far out of control!
In an open relationship your partner doesn't need all the gory details about your sex life with other people, but it is very important to make sure that they know when you are having relations with other people. You need to keep your relationship honest, just like in any other kind of relationship.
2. No Unprotected Sex outside of the Relationship
This is more of a health issue. You and your partner may be sharing yourselves with other people but you don't want to share anything else. Use protection, you and your partner will both feel much better about things when that load is taken off of your mind.
3. No Sex with Mutual Friends
Mutual friends are tricky ground. So, instead of trying to circumnavigate that troubled land, stay away. Mutual friends should stay in the friend zone. That way, it doesn't put a strain on the friendships or your relationship. Open relationships should be as comfortable as possible for both you and your partner.
4. No Sex with Other People in the Bed You Share
As I said before, open relationships are relationships just like anything else. If you and your partner share a house then be respectful, do NOT have sex with someone in the bed that you and your partner share. That is taking openness to a level where it shouldn't be. Unless you and your partner have both talked about it, sex outside the relationship should take place outside of the home.
Respect is very important. You're both doing things with other people outside of the relationship but that doesn't mean that your respect should leave the relationship. Don't flaunt your sexual partners to your partner to get under their skin. Be open without being hurtful.
6. Be Comfortable
When setting your rules, know exactly how far you're willing to go, and how far you're comfortable with your partner going with other people. If you're not comfortable with them sleeping with people that they already know, you need to be open about that. The only way to make an open relationship work is by being honest about what makes you comfortable and what doesn't.
7. NO Cheating
In an open relationship cheating is a little more difficult to define than in a monogamous relationship. In an open relationship boundaries are set before the relationship is opened up to other people. So, keep following those rules and guidelines. Breaking them is still cheating. Even if your partner okays you sleeping with other people.
8. Sex with Other People Shouldn't Interfere with Your Plans
I cannot stress enough how much an open relationship is a relationship. You still spend time with each other and do the things that other people do. So, it is absolutely not okay to break plans with your significant other to go and have extracurricular sex with someone else. That's taking the importance from your relationship and placing it all in sex which is not what an open relationship is about.
9. Avoid Introductions
Don't introduce your partner to any of your lovers. The situation will be uncomfortable for everyone involved. If your partner wants to see whom you're sleeping with, then show them a photograph. There's no reason to intentionally put two of your conquests in the same room.
10. The Situation Can Be Temporary
Remember that you don't have to be in an open relationship for the rest of your life. Every few weeks, you should talk to your partner about whether they're happy with the current situation or if they want to be monogamous again. Your open relationship may last for years, or only a few days.
11. Be Emotionally Healthy
It's incredibly important that both of you are emotionally healthy before you decide to see other people. If one of you isn't ready for an open relationship, then neither of you can't be a part of one. You need to be on the same page in order for things to work. You wouldn't want your partner to fall into a depression, because they did something they weren't emotionally ready to do.
12. Know How to Handle Jealousy
Even if you're 100% happy being in an open relationship, you'll still feel pangs of jealous. It's only natural. When the person you love is being pleasured by another person, it's difficult to ignore your jealousy. However, as long as you can handle those feelings, there's no reason to end your arrangement.
13. Explain Situation to Other Lovers
If you decide to sleep with someone you meet at a bar, make sure they're aware of your situation. You don't want to lead them on. If they assume that you're single, they could end up falling for you and making a mess of your life.
14. Let Him do What You do
Make sure your arrangement is fair. If you're allowed to sleep with a coworker, then your partner should be allowed to do the same. You two should be treated equally. If one of you has more freedom than the other does, things won't work out well.
15. Don't Tell Everyone about It
You need to tell your lovers about your arrangement, but you probably shouldn't tell your parents. People can be judgmental, so if you wish to avoid stares, keep your private life private. No one else needs to know the details of your relationship.
16. Don't Feel Bad
If you feel guilty about kissing someone other than your partner, then there's no point in being in an open relationship. You should feel comfortable doing as you please, because you set ground rules with your partner. As long as you don't break them, you shouldn't feel guilty about your activities.
17. Have Fun
If you're not having a good time, then what's the point? You shouldn't be in an open relationship, because your partner pressured you to be in one, or because you think it'll help your relationship. You have to do it because you want to. Having fun is your priority.
18. Don't Fall in Love
You aren't playing the field in order to fall in love. You're already in a relationship, so you should avoid getting attached to anyone that you sleep with. Keep things sexual, because if you get emotionally invested in someone else, your relationship will fall apart.
19. Still Show You Care
You're in an open relationship, not broken up. That means you're still going to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. You're still going to go out on dates and say how much you love each other. The affection shouldn't stop.
20. Don't Leave Them Hanging
If you share a house together, don't sleep over a lover's house without alerting your partner. They deserve to know where you are, so don't keep secrets. There are some things better left unsaid, but if your partner asks you a question, you should be respectful enough to answer it honestly.
21. Continue Only if You're Happy
If both of you are happy, then keep your open relationship going. If one of you are miserable, then it's time to end it. You can either be monogamous or you can completely break up. Happiness is the end goal, so if you're unhappy, things need to change.
Now ladies, if you're thinking about opening up your relationship remember these rules. Be comfortable and open with your partner and remember that being in an open relationship does not mean that you get to just have sex with a bunch of people while still sleeping with one partner. You're still in a relationship and it's very important not to devalue that. Do you have any questions or comments? Let me know down below!
This article was written in collaboration with Holly Riordan.