Here are some common rules people in open relationships use. But don’t follow these—do what's right for you. Each relationship is unique and it’s important to find what works for YOU.
- Always practice safe sex outside the relationship.
- No sex with mutual friends.
- Sexual encounters must not interfere with the couple’s customary or planned time together.
- Sex is permissible only when one partner is out of town.
- Outside sex is only allowed with advance agreement with one’s lover.
- Outside sex is allowed only when both partners participate.
- Outside sex is never permitted at home.
- Sex is permitted at home, but not in the bedroom.
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Don’t be afraid to speak up.
If you make rules that don’t work and you feel unhappy, be sure to leave room for adjustment. No one said the rules had to be set in stone and it may take time to feel out what works best for your relationship. Be patient with each other and the fog will start to clear.
If you feel the need to spill every detail of your escapades but your partner would rather you keep that to yourself (or vice-versa), you need to discuss boundaries that make you both comfortable. Ask for the details you want but before you even ask make sure you really want to know. Maybe you want to know who and when, but is it really necessary to know every detail? If you can handle it and it feels important to you then by all means, ask!
Take it one step at a time.
Start out slow. Consider first bringing someone else into your bedroom before you both go out on your own. Either way, be sure to have a frank discussion about each experience before proceeding full-steam ahead. If it felt right and you’re ready to move forward, you can now do so with more confidence. But if something went awry, identify the root of the problem and work it out before moving on.
Unless your rules explicitly state that your partner wants to know nothing about who you sleep with, remember that cheating is still cheating, even in an open relationship. Holding back the details, even if it’s because you broke a rule and are worried you will hurt your partner, could cause greater problems going forward. Your open relationship only works because you have trust, and once that’s gone you have nothing.
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Don’t force the issue.
If it isn’t working for one of you, it isn’t working for both. Whether this means adjusting your rules or stopping outside relations altogether, make the change that is going to make you comfortable. Open relationships do not work if only one person is happy. You may come to a point where you no longer need the open relationship or you may come to a point where you no longer want to stay in a committed relationship. Whatever your feelings, be open with them.
Open relationships are about working together to make your partnership exactly what you want it to be. If you're honest, communicate frequently and openly and use the tips above you'll go far.