How to introduce the Idea of an Open Relationship?
What is a polyamorous/open relationship (are they even the same thing?)
Polyamory is just one of those themes that seem to be the centre of the Zeitgeist these days. Whether online or at dinner parties and bars, it is a hot topic, and there is a lot of crossing information about it. Some say it’s the only healthy way to have a relationship. Some say it’s harmful. Some say it’s all about having boundaries – others will tell you to go with the flow. So, what is the real deal?
The fact is that having an open relationship is never a one-size fits all thing. Whether you’d like to bring the topic of opening the relationship with a partner or just to get more acquainted with the general idea, in this article we will unpack everything you need to know about the topic and how to start a conversation about it.
One thing is important to notice is that this subject seems to come with its own vocabulary – and terms might mean different things for different people. But in general, we can define that an open relationship is one that is not founded on exclusivity or monogamy.
First things first; getting the terms right
The meaning of “polyamorous” seems to be murkier – it can mean someone who is not willing to be in a monogamous relationship or even someone who can not only date but fall in love with multiple people and carry concomintant relationships with them.
Seems confusing? It doesn’t have to be. The most important thing to have in mind is that there is no right or wrong here. As long as everything is not only consensual but based on honesty and compassion, nobody needs to stick to one rule.
As always, here at KinkyKarrot we insist on the point that communication is EVERYTHING but this is especially true when it comes to open relationships. While total honesty can sound scary, it’s truly the only way to go about it in a healthy fashion.
But if you are looking to sit down with your partner and tell them you’d like to explore other options beyond monogamy, there are a few steps you should take first. Here is a breakdown of them and remember – it’s also important to be honest with yourself.
Before the talk
Examine what you would like to get out of an open relationship
For some people, non-monogamy is a given, much like sexual orientation or being kinky. It’s a part of their personality. But for others, the idea of opening a relationship is a psychological getaway car – a way to slowly check out of a failed relationship they cannot confront the end of.
It’s important to look inward and assess what are your expectations – what kind of “freedom” would you like to have, ideally? What would you be comfortable with your partner doing? How do you expect to feel in an open relationship?
The more data you have, the easier it’ll be not only to communicate your needs, but also to make your partner understand your emotions behind them.
Do your research
Now it’s time to spread your tentacles into the world. Remember we said the amount of information about polyamory online can be overwhelming? Well, use it to your advantage. Go on forums, blogs, channels about the theme and soak up the information. Make sure to hear different perspectives – even conflicting ones and check with yourself what makes sense for you.
If you know someone personally that is an open relationship, talk to them, ask questions, and hear their experiences.
But account for unexpected emotions, too
As prepared as you might be to start the conversation with the best of intentions, we are humans and sometimes things do not go as planned. Bringing the topic might be triggering, your partner might need some time to ease into the idea, and even the research can bring up uncomfortable feelings about not only your relationship to your partner, but to yourself.
Take this into account as part of the process.
During the talk
Now that you have devised a plan, it’s time to get into action. Schedule a time to talk without pressure or interruptions – and possibly give your partner a heads-up of what is going to be discussed.
It’s tempting to varnish things so you don’t hurt someone you love, but stifling your needs can also cause you to resent them. If you feel a monogamous relationship is something to you, be honest about it. But also make sure the other person knows how you feel about them in detail, and how important it is that you can come to a compromise.
Focus on your wants and needs
Likewise, it’s tempting to come up with “ready-to-go” speeches about free love and monogamy – but these can come across as self-righteous and insensitive. Instead, focus on how things feel for you – what you’d expect to get out of opening the relationship.
The same way, refrain from making accusations and start getting into a blame game. Be honest about your needs and desires and say you’d like to hear their side.
When it’s their turn to talk, listen carefully and attentively. Resist the temptation to get defensive. The most important thing in an open relationship is the capacity to communicate openly – and this is a precious opportunity to practise it.
Devise a plan
If things get overwhelming, you can always pause and pick the conversation up from the same spot – but set a date and time for it so it doesn’t drag. Devise a plan on what an open relationship could look like for both of you and talk extensively about boundaries and ways of communicating openly.
For instance; should you tell the partner whenever you have an encounter with someone else? Are mutual friends off limits? It’s important to talk things over and never take anything for granted; what seems obvious to you might not be so for someone else.
Going into action: How to open the relationship
Good things take time to build. The same way your relationship took time to develop as you got to know each other, entering this new phase is the same thing. Take things slow and make sure to check in with each other every step of the way.
Remember mishaps will happen
There will probably be a lot of hiccups on the way, and it’s possible someone will get upset or angry at some point. Do not ignore or gloss over these feelings. Instead, understand them as a part of the process and remember to keep the communication open so you can readjust boundaries if needed.
Be conscious of your decisions
We hate to be the ones quoting Spiderman here, but great power does come with great responsibilities. Having the possibility of meeting multiple people and being with multiple partners sounds amazing, but it also means more emotions and feelings at play. Your decisions are going to affect those involved, and it’s important to act with balance to be considerate as well as not let yourself be drowned in it.
Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, get back to that first soul-searching exercise. What do you expect to feel out of an open relationship? This is a great way to ground yourself and guide your actions through it.
Now we want to know. What are YOUR thoughts? Have you ever been in an open relationship? Do you have any other tips for the big talk? Send us your feedback via email!