5 Essential Rules for Open Relationships

Rules For Open Relationships blog cover

There is no right or wrong when it comes to monogamous or non-monogamous relationships. Different situations work for different couples. But rules for open relationships are essential in order to avoid hurt feelings further down the line.

So why might somebody want to open a relationship up? Some people are happier when they are physically or emotionally intimate with more than one person. We are all built differently and have different needs in relationships. Non-monogamy is simply another preference.

It could be that they are able to love more than one person at once or that they are looking to explore their sexuality in different ways. Another reason that someone might want an open relationship is that they have a specific fetish that their partner isn’t into. For others, opening up a relationship can be about having a sense of freedom.  

Before we get started, let’s clarify the difference between open relationships vs. polyamory because they sometimes get confused. Both are forms of non-monogamy, but there are clear distinctions between them. One of the key characteristics they both have in common is that they are consensual: all parties involved are 100% on board.

The main difference is that open relationships are about sexual non-monogamy, whereas polyamorous relationships involve forming romantic relationships with more than one partner. In open relationships, people are physically intimate with others outside of their relationships, but these connections aren’t emotional in nature. In polyamorous relationships, people have multiple romantic partners with whom they have a connection that goes beyond something that is just physical. 

Rules for open relationships

Rules for open relationships are important because they provide boundaries. They help protect the relationship and make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Here are five essential rules for any open relationship.

1. Communicate honestly and openly.

The key to any successful relationship is communication. You need to be able to talk openly with your partner about what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and what your expectations are in terms of the open relationship. Without communication, things can quickly get complicated and messy.

2. Set boundaries.

It’s important to remember that just because you’re in an open relationship doesn’t mean that anything goes. You and your partner still need to discuss what you’re ok with and what you’re not. For example, can you engage in sexual activities with other people whenever or only during certain timeframes? Is penetrative sex ok or just oral sex? Are fetishes allowed or not? You should discuss all of these things and more to ensure that there aren’t any surprises further down the line.

3. Practice safe sex.

It’s important to practice safe sex when you’re in an open relationship. Having multiple partners can increase your risk of facing sexual health issues. There are ways to minimize the risk of this happening, but it’s worth noting that there’s no way of guaranteeing that you won’t contract sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

4. Have regular check-ins.

It’s difficult to know exactly how either of you will feel until you’ve opened up your relationship. So it’s important to discuss the relationship frequently to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Set aside time to have regular check-ins.

5. Continue cultivating your relationship.

Open relationships don’t mean the end of your relationship. It’s important to remember that and to make sure that you and your partner are still spending quality time together. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of open relationships and forget that you need to nurture your relationship with each other as well.

And don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Open relationships can be a great way to explore your sexuality and find new ways of being intimate. Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourselves! Otherwise, it defeats the point of it in the first place.

Potential benefits of open relationships

Here are the potential benefits of open relationships.

1. Increased self-awareness and personal growth.

Open relationships can help to encourage individuals to explore their sexuality, identity, and emotional needs more deeply, leading to a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth.

2. Increased communication and understanding.

Open relationships can create an opportunity for couples to have more honest and open conversations about their wants, needs, and boundaries. This can lead to a greater understanding of each other’s needs and wants and help to create a healthier relationship dynamic.

3. Greater sexual satisfaction.

In an open relationship, people may feel more sexually fulfilled. Both parties are able to have a range of sexual experiences if they so wish. Not everyone feels completely sexually fulfilled with one partner.

4. More freedom.

People may feel a sense of liberation if they are free to explore their sexuality or have multiple partners. They have the ability to explore different sides of themselves, and they don’t feel tied down to one person or one type of relationship.

5. Specific sexual preferences can be fulfilled by others.

Sometimes, one person has sexual preferences that aren’t shared by their romantic partner, such as a fetish. By exploring this fetish with other people, they can meet their own sexual needs without breaching their partner’s boundaries.

If two parties agree and it’s the right approach for them, both people can be happier in a non-monogamous relationship. If they are getting specific needs met that they wouldn’t otherwise, such as sexual exploration with multiple partners, they’ll feel more fulfilled.

Potential challenges of open relationships and polyamory

As I’m sure you can imagine, there are potential challenges that come with open relationships and polyamory. This is why rules for open relationships are so important.

1. Risk of jealousy.

One potential downside to non-monogamous relationships is the obvious risk of jealousy or hurt feelings. Knowing that your partner is physically or emotionally intimate with other people can cause tension in some cases.

2. Increased risk around sexual health.

Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases. While condoms and practicing safe sex can help to reduce this risk, they aren’t 100% effective.

3. May face prejudice.

People who are in relationships with multiple partners can face judgment and stigma from society. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt, as well as a fear of being rejected by family, friends, and potential future partners.

4. Build-up of resentment.

This shouldn’t happen if both parties are on the same page and honest with each other. But in some situations, one person pretends they are ok with having multiple partners when they actually aren’t. This can lead to a build-up of resentment.

5. Difficult to predict how you will feel.

It is difficult to predict how you will deal with an open relationship until you’re actually in one. It’s important to remember that you might not enjoy it as much as you think. In fact, you might decide that it’s not for you, and that’s okay. But you might find that there is already irreparable damage done to the relationship.

As you can see, there are also risks associated with open relationships. While everyone’s situation is different, it’s important to consider all of the potential risks before entering into a relationship of this kind. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner(s) to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks.

The rise of open relationships

The younger generation, in particular, is exploring open relationships. So why is this? Well, millennials have grown up with a lot more options when it comes to dating compared to previous generations. The generations prior to millennials didn’t have the opportunity to meet nearly as many potential partners, so non-monogamy wasn’t practical.

There are two trends that have resulted in a much larger dating pool: more traveling and the rise of dating apps. Millennials travel much more compared to previous generations when they were at the same stage in their life. They holiday abroad much more frequently, they go on work trips, and they travel all around the country to meet friends.

More traveling equates to meeting more people, resulting in a larger dating pool. Then, of course, dating apps brought a brand new era of romance. Dating websites existed before, but they had low market penetration. Dating apps were built for the younger generation, and they made finding a date much more accessible.

When dating apps first took off in 2013, they spread like wildfire, particularly amongst the millennial crowd. Never before had there been such a large pool of potential suitors in one place, all of whom were looking for a connection of some kind.

This completely changed the dating landscape, and non-monogamous relationships became feasible. Another reason why millennials are choosing non-monogamous relationships is they are less traditional than previous generations. They aren’t afraid to push boundaries and challenge societal norms, whether it’s relating to monogamy, gender roles, or a myriad of other topics. 

Open relationship FAQs

Open relationships can be complex, so let’s take a look at some FAQs.

Can asking a partner to open up the relationship cause irreparable damage?

There is a chance that you can cause irreparable damage to a relationship if your partner isn’t on the same page and feels strongly about monogamy. They may feel that they aren’t enough for you.

However, if you’re in a healthy relationship with good communication, your partner should respect your needs and the fact that you want to openly discuss them. Of course, whether your partner is on board with the situation is another story.

If they say yes, then there are a number of rules for open relationships to work out to ensure that the situation works as smoothly as possible. If they say no, you’ll have to decide what’s more important to you: staying with your partner or being intimate with other people. 

How should you bring up the conversation with your partner if you want an open relationship?

Before you ask your partner how they feel about opening up your relationship, make sure that you’re certain that it’s what you really want. It’s a big decision. Be clear about why you want to open up your relationship so you can effectively communicate your reasons. You should also ensure that you aren’t opening up your relationship in a bid to solve any issues that you have directly with your partner.

Once you have done this, bring up the topic when you’re both alone and have the time to chat things through properly. You should start by saying how much you appreciate your partner and that you are committed to your relationship. Then you can explain that for you, devotion doesn’t equate to fidelity and share your reasons for wanting to open up your relationship.

Be specific about the kind of situation you’re looking to get into. Actively listen to your partner’s response and any questions they might have. There’s a possibility that they say yes or no straight away, but there’s a high chance that they’ll need time to process the information and work out how they feel about the situation.

Be prepared to give them space to digest everything. It’s essential that you are non-judgmental, kind, and supportive toward your partner throughout the entire conversation. This helps to create a safe space where both of you can communicate openly without getting defensive. 

What should you do if you feel jealous?

Open and honest communication is important for every relationship, and even more so when you are in a non-monogamous relationship. As soon as you start to recognize feelings of jealousy, you should work out where they stem from.

Some people who feel jealous in non-monogamous relationships try to pretend they don’t feel this way, and this is a recipe for disaster. Once you have clarified why you are experiencing these emotions, sit down with your partner and talk things through. Work out a way of moving forward.

Perhaps your partner puts your mind at ease, and you continue as you were. You might decide to give it more time and see how you feel after having talked to your partner. Alternatively, you might decide that non-monogamy isn’t working for you as a couple.

Whatever you decide, you need to work things out together and continue the open dialogue. It’s important to remember that feelings change and situations evolve. What works for you now might not work for you as a couple in six months’ time, and that’s perfectly ok.

Final thoughts on rules for open relationships

So, if you’re thinking of opening up your relationship, make sure to keep these rules in mind. Always remember that communication is key; if something’s bothering you or your partner, talk about it. Honesty and trust are essential in any relationship, open or closed.

There are many great things about being in an open relationship, and it can work well for some couples. But it’s not for everyone. It needs to be managed in the right way. If you follow our rules for open relationships, you’ll be off to a good start.

If you liked this post, you may also like our blog about Dating Exclusively vs. Being in a Relationship and The Ultimate Guide to Relationship Breaks.

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