How To Know If An Open Relationship Will Work For You
Is a monogamish relationship your cup of tea? The ways to know if an open relationship are for you are not cut and dry, but they are definitely worth considering if being monogamish piques your interest.
Although being monogamish, a term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage in which a couple is committed to each other but can have sex with others, has been a concept for quite some time, it is growing in popularity over the years. According to a YouGov/Huffington Post poll, 13 percent of people identify as being in an open relationship. Ready for some more stats? According to CNN, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, which isn't really news. However, psychologist David Barash told Men's Fitness that an open relationship can actually be a way to preserve the marriage by adding sexual variety, if and only if, the partnership meets certain criteria. He also emphasized that there's not a one-size-fits-all way to have an open relationship.
One startling statistic about open relationships, as noted by Mic, is that people in open relationships are largely affluent and white. The Mic article cited a study published in Psychology & Sexuality that reported people in open relationships were 76.8 percent of middle-class status or higher and only 10.8 percent of respondents were people of color. More research into open relationships might determine why these statistics are so staggering. However, until that happens, if you're curious about giving an open relationship a try, make sure you and your partner are on the same page. The following are ways that an open relationship might work for you.
1. You Know How To Process Jealousy
Cosmopolitan recommended that people in an open relationship be comfortable with processing jealousy, because there are likely to be situations that come up that will make you or your partner jealous. And if you're working on that, there are ways to deal with jealousy, like acknowledging it, talking about it, and releasing it so it doesn't eat away at you, noted Psychology Today.
2. You Are Good At Setting Boundaries
Sexologist Logan Levkoff told Women's Health that setting boundaries is key to an open relationship. Because "open" doesn't mean anything goes. In order for people to avoid getting hurt in open relationships, Levkoff suggested that couples agree on limitations. For example, do you want to be present while your partner is having sex with another person? Is sex limited by gender? By setting boundaries you are telling your partner what you are and are not comfortable with.
3. Your True Love Is Your Partner
Polyamory is when people are in multiple relationships, noted Huffington Post. An open relationship on the other hand, Levkoff told Women's Health, 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.
4. You Are Doing It For The Right Reasons
You want to make sure that you and your partner are clear on the aforementioned definitions, and that you still remain committed to your partner. As Cosmopolitan noted, clarity about open relationships is super important. And, you want to make sure your relationship is solid enough to open it up.
On another note, are you seeking sexual validation from other people because you're not getting it from your partner? If so, this is something to discuss with a therapist to make sure you're not using an open relationship as external validation or a so-called band-aid, noted Psychology Today. And this is something to disclose to your partner before you involve others in your intimate space.
5. You Vow To Keep It Safe
It should go without saying that you keep all encounters with others safe. That doesn't just mean you must use condoms, but, as Cosmopolitan noted, you should disclose information about everything to everyone involved in your dalliances to keep things physically and emotionally safe.
6. You Are An Excellent Communicator
"You can't expect that what worked in the beginning will work indefinitely," Levkoff told Women's Health. Therefore, it's crucial to keep lines of communication open. Maybe you thought you can handle it, but it's not working out for you anymore. Don't suffer in silence. In other words, make sure you have good communication skills before bed-hopping.
7. Your Partner Is Also An Excellent Communicator
Not only do you have to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings as they occur in order to maintain a healthy open relationship, your partner too has to like communicating. Huffington Post noted the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is risky for an open relationship. Deepen your relationship by being able to share your encounters. They will probably turn you on and bring the two of you closer together; and that's why you're doing this, right?
8. You Agree To Tell Friends And Lovers
Because everybody is in everybody's business these days, you should mention your agreement to friends to avoid a misunderstanding, suggested Cosmopolitan. It's not like you have anything to hide or be ashamed about. In fact, Huffington Post noted that it's a challenge to be in an open relationship, so you'll probably need to talk about it with your friends.
9. You Have Tried Other Ways To Reinvent The Relationship
Sexologist Ian Kerner told Women's Health that an open relationship is not a quick fix to your love life. In fact, you should explore other ways of spicing up your sex life (like role playing or using sex toys) before you open your bed up to others. Sometimes, Kerner said, just the idea of having sex with others is enough to create new sexual excitement.
10. You Are Able To Voice Your Discomfort
Cosmopolitan noted that open relationships are not for people who are uncomfortable speaking their minds. So, if you have a hard time voicing your discomfort, you better get over that before deciding to get into an open relationship. Maybe you are not comfortable with your partner doing it with your friends or co-workers. That would be something to voice before the deed gets done.
11. You And Your Partner Agree On The Rules
Though the "rules" of what's cool and what's uncool in your open relationship might change as, well, you figure out how to navigate sharing your sex life with others, you must always make sure that you and your partner are on the same page, Huffington Post noted. An open relationship is about sharing, and the most important thing to share is your feelings.