3 Critical Conversations You Must Have Before Starting An Open Relationship

Honest and open communication is the most important thing in any kind of relationship.

Open relationship conversations you need to have before starting one Joshua Resnick | Canva

Open relationships are becoming more popular — and more acceptable — over the recent years. So if you and your partner want to try it, good for you! But an open marriage or open relationship can't just happen one day. Suddenly jumping from monogamy to polyamory, without adequate planning and thought, is asking for it to fail. Because, yes — open relationships can succeed, but only if you are honest with your partner and approach an open relationship the right way.


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Here are 3 critical conversations you must have before starting an open relationship:

1. What type of relationship are you looking for?

Yes, there are different types, even if they don't all have names. Are you looking for a polyamorous relationship? If so, do you want to meet your partner's "other lovers"? And how much contact information should be given out to these other people? Are you looking for something purely physical, like a swinger encounter to spice up your love life, or maybe a threesome? Maybe you want to implement a "don't ask, don't tell" situation, where you are both free to be intimate with others when you're traveling — as long as neither of you discusses it. Make sure you're both on the same page, so you both know what's expected.


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2. Set up some rules

A lot that can happen in an open relationship that you might not have thought of. To avoid seriously hurt feelings, or accidentally betraying the person you love, plan. Establish from the beginning what you are each comfortable with — either emotionally or intimately. Decide whether this relationship should stay in the bedroom, or be posted all over social media.

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3. Finally, figure out what you're going to tell the kids

If you have children, you have to discuss how/when/if you're going to explain who daddy and mommy's special friend is. And no, you can't just avoid this forever. Because kids are far more observant than you might think and they will pick up that this person is special. It's up to you both as a couple — and as their parents — to figure out how much they need to know to avoid over-exposing them to adult or private concepts while balancing the need for honesty. 

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Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey is a psychologist and intimacy coach who helps individuals, couples, and polyamorous groups create their ideal relationships. Elizabeth Ayers-Callahan is a freelance writer whose mission is to help other women feel less alone in their marriages. Her work focuses on intimacy and relationship issues.