Think you're ready? Think again.
1. Talk honestly about the tough stuff.
Sex is not an easy topic for most people to discuss honestly. Do you and your man know how to talk about difficult subjects and end up closer at the end of the conversation rather than further apart? If you open your relationship before you've developed this skill, you could be headed for a ton of trouble.
Open relationships increase the chance of stirring up uncomfortable feelings. If you both don't know how to comfort each other in emotionally, then consider working on that first before opening the relationship.
2. Think about WHY you want to open up your relationship to new people.
Are you longing for an open relationship because your sex life has fizzled? Before going through with it, it's important to understand (and discuss) why the sexual chemistry between you has faded.
Sometimes couples seek to open the relationship to avoid the difficult conversations about poor sexual communication. Sex between couples can stop over time when they stop trying to bring something new. In sex, everything gets boring without change.
Some couples give up because they think they want different things in bed. They question their own or their partner's openness. You two may not agree on everything, but it's crucial to find a good middle ground. Our sexual turn ons are more malleable than we may think. You might be surprised.
Don't give up on improving your sex life with your current lover by turning to an open relationship. Is there a chance, that with some thought, your current sex life together could grow even as you open the relationship? If so, you've greatly increased your chances of open relationship success.
3. Set some solid ground rules.
All open relationships need rules that you both can agree on. Each partner will have different feelings about what is okay.
Ask these questions to yourself and to your partner to make sure you're both on the same page:
- Can you fully hear and accept your partner's guidelines even when they differ your own?
- Are you able to track yourself and know when you're getting close to violating a guideline?
- Are you comfortable telling your partner about the limits you need him to respect?
- Can you enter into an open relationship with a real commitment not to hurt your partner's feelings?
- Can you promise to try to fix things if by accident your partner's feelings are hurt?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then maybe you are not yet ready for an open relationship.
4. Take time to process both of your feelings before you decide.
Does all of this sound like a lot of work? It is. An open relationship requires an advanced level of communication skills. You'll need to spend more time "processing feelings" and talking about the relationship than most couples.
If this is something that you and your partner commit to creating, consider giving yourselves six months to prepare. Use this time to practice talking about the tough issues in your relationship.
Discuss your sexual history together. Explore the unresolved hurts that have accumulated over the years. Look at any of your unproductive communication cycles. Consider how you emotionally hold, protect, and express love for each other.
When these discussions bring you to a place of feeling closer rather than an unpleasant fight, then you're ready for a fulfilling open relationship.
For more information about how the Gay Therapy Center helps LGBT (and straight!) individuals and couples please visit their website at www.thegaytherapycenter.com. They offer services at their San Francisco office or by Skype or phone worldwide.
This article was originally published at The Gay Therapy Center blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.