When you say "I do," you might also think that means saying "no" to being with other people for the rest of your life. But that doesn't have to be the case. In fact, the signs your marriage could be an open marriage might be right in front of you, and ripe for the picking.
Before you can determine whether an open marriage would work for you, it's important to determine what makes an marriage, well, open. Polyamory is a trending topic right now, but what distinguishes a poly lifestyle from an open marriage? As sexologist Logan Levkoff told Women's Health, an open marriage is when a couple has sex with multiple partners. In other words, it's a physical thing based on wanting to add variety to your sexual routine. "In a true open relationship, your primary partnership is your love partnership," Levkoff said.
I'm not suggesting that you shift your lifestyle based on current social trends. However, there's something to be said for noticing how people are coupling up. It's fascinating to notice how people find connectivity in others. What do these observations reveal about you and how you want to engage with others? That question is not reserved for the single set, but open to people who've taken vows to commit to one another for, well, ever. Open marriages aren't for everyone, but if you're curious about what one might look like, look no further than yourself. And while you're at it, look at your partner as well. If you identify with some of the following, that may be a sign that your marriage could be an open marriage.
1. You Are Secure With Yourself
Postdoctoral psychology fellow Dr. Kendra Campbell told Psychology Today that personal insecurity can cause you to feel unsatisfied in your relationship. Respectively, the more secure you are with yourself, the more attuned you can be to your partner's desires and needs, and you and your spouse can act as safe havens for one another. Does this sound like you? If so, that's a sign that you might be able to open up your marriages to other people and sexual experiences.
2. You Think You Might Be Bisexual
If you're married to a man but think you might be attracted to women as well, you're not alone. The Huffington Post interviewed couples who are bisexual and in open marriages, and came to the conclusion that this arrangement works best because it allows people to be themselves. Remember when Anna Paquin clarified to Larry King that she's a bisexual mom married to a man? Exploring your bisexuality can happen even after you're married. To avoid hurting anyone, the Huffington Post suggested that you disclose your feelings to your spouse with respect.
3. Your Husband Wants To Experiment With Men, And You're OK With That
The Good Men Project published an essay about how a woman's marriage improved after her husband had a male to male relationship. Her acceptance of her husband's bisexuality brought the two of them closer, and the couple now thrives in a happy open marriage. Would you be OK with your husband's bisexuality? This is definitely something to think about and discuss with your spouse, a therapist, or both.
4. You Get Turned On By Jealousy
Marie Claire interviewed people who like being in an open marriage and claimed that the lifestyle works for them. One respondent, a stay-at-home-mom, told the editors that she's OK with the idea of other people being with her husband. In fact, it gets her hot. "Jealousy excites me," she said. Does this sound like you? Perhaps, this is something you can explore with an open marriage.
5. You Are An Emotional Chameleon
In the same Marie Claire article, another couple interviewed said that being in an open marriage works for them because they like it when other people bring out different sides of their personalities. It helps if you're secure with yourself (see sign number one) so that you don't lose yourself in other people's ideas of who you can be.
6. You And Your Spouse Communicate Like BFFs
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research in Canada, partnership makes for a happy marriage, not romantic love or lust. Is your spouse your BFF? If so, that's an awesome sign that your partnership is enduring. And, if you're thinking about an open marriage, you should be ready to talk about everything. According to Women's Health many couples in open marriages discuss the details of their dalliances, even down to the nitty gritty. So, be sure you and your spouse are fabulous communicators before opening up your bedroom.
7. You're Confident That Your Partner Won't Abandon You
Fear of abandonment can sabotage your relationships, according to the Huffington Post. However, in the same article, psychotherapist Susan Anderson said that you can transform "abandonment fear into emotional self-reliance" by accepting yourself as a separate individual from your spouse. If you've got this skill in the bag, good for you. That's a sign that if you've got enough sense of self to be hang on to your man when he has sexual encounters with others.
8. Your Spouse Respects You And Your Marriage, And Always Will
Does your spouse get you like no one else on earth? That's amazing, isn't it. Women's Health recommended that you open your marriage only if you have a solid foundation built on mutual respect and admiration.
9. You And Your Partner Still Go On Dates
Even after years of marriage, date night is a reflection of how you and your partner know how to spend romantic quality time together. The Huffington Post noted that people in an open marriage still "date each other," keeping that courtship spark alive. This is also essential for determining your marriage as the primary relationship. And isn't it cool that your partner still gives you the feels after all you've been through?
10. You Like Hearing About Your Partner's Exes
If you feel comfortable, and even enjoy hearing about your spouse's past sexual dalliances, this is a sign that an open marriage might work for you. The Frisky defined "compersion" as when you are happy and aroused to hear about your partner's past conquests. The key here, the article explained, is to feel genuinely happy for your partner's pleasure.
11. You're A Rule Maker
People think that open marriages are all about breaking the rules. Sure, you might be dismantling the traditional nuclear family, but you're a rule maker at heart. According to Men's Fitness, open marriages thrive when you set ground rules and adhere to them completely.
12. You Are Not Fear-Driven
Are you opening up your marriage because you're afraid that if you don't you're "vanilla" or might lose your spouse? While these might be valid reasons to open your marriage, you don't want to be driven by fear. Analyst Jane Bolton told Psychology Today that fear hinders decision making when it comes to relationships. So make sure that you deal with your fears first, then consider if an open marriage is right for you.
13. You Think Honesty Is Romantic
If honesty turns you on, then that's a sign you an open marriage might work for you. Not everyone can stomach the notion that their partner thinks another woman has a hot bod (even though it might turn her on as well). Hey, life is full of double standards. If, however, this sounds nothing like you, the next time you notice someone with a bod for sin, try voicing your thoughts to your partner, and see where the night goes from there.
14. You're Sexually Fluid
Psychologist Chris Donaghue, author of Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Sexually Dysfunctional Culture told Mashable that "fluid sexuality is a more current and inclusive term" than bisexuality. He continued to explain that fluid sexuality is open and mercurial. If you identify with any of this, have a chat with your partner and agree to throw out labels.
15. You're Open Minded In General
According to Thought Catalog, the most important quality you can have is the ability to be open minded. Why? Being open minded means you can see things from other people's perspectives, which is essential if you're going to open up your relationship.
16. You're Prepared To Lose Some Friends, Or Make New Ones
Because everybody is in everybody's business these days, you should mention your open marriage to friends to avoid a misunderstanding, suggested Cosmopolitan. However, not all your friends might be on the same page as you and your spouse. Your marriage trumps your friends in this case, as your forever person is your priority, especially in an open marriage. Does this sound like something you can do?
17. You And Your Spouse Are Committed To Living A Healthy Lifestyle
You and your spouse never leave the house without two things: condoms and a green juice. Safe sex is a must for people in an open marriage, but so is taking the time to be committed making your relationship healthy. According to The New York Times, psychologist, Douglas LaBier said that at the core of an open marriage is "desire to form a healthy relationship," and that means being transparent about your attachments, sexual or otherwise, to your spouse.