Open relationship rules depend on the people in the relationship…
However, there are some key rules you need to apply in order for this to work!
I am a huge fan of personal freedom and individuality. Don’t get me wrong, when you’re committed to someone, I agree that you do have responsibilities, you compromise and have certain obligations… but it doesn’t feel right to me to restrict the person I love. I think life is too short for that.
That’s why I am a huge fan of open relationships. It’s not even about me. I mean, sure I get benefits too but I truly enjoy life when someone I love is enjoying themselves… even if it’s with other people. Open relationships require a lot of trust and force you to have a strong unbreakable bond which is a huge benefit to me.
Table of Contents
What Is An Open Relationship?
An open relationship is when people are in an established committed relationship with each other but see other people. The connections made outside the relationship are to be casual only. It could be sexual or emotional but the romance and real intimacy is reserved for their primary partner only.
So an open relationship is basically a conventional relationship except you see other people casually.
An open relationship can be considered as an ENM relationship.
What is ENM?
An ENM relationship is basically Ethical Non-Monogamy. Too many people out there are non-ethical and use terms like “poly” or “open relationship” to excuse their shitty behavior… like cheating. Therefore, we have to be a little more specific when it comes to non-monogamy because you can be a non-monogamous person who is exploitative and/or deceitful.
Polyamory vs Open Relationship vs Swinging
Open relationships are completely different from swinging and polyamory.
Polyamory is an established relationship between more than 2 people. Technically, you can have a poly relationship that is open but open relationship is not synonymous with poly relationship. Because you can also be poly and CLOSED- meaning no seeking encounters outside of your established poly relationship.
You can be open and NOT poly. NOT poly means you’re not taking in additional people to have an established romantic relationship with. OPEN means you’re just having casual encounters outside your established relationship.
Swinging is basically social sex. Swinging is when the people in the established relationship go to sex parties and/or swap partners. Swinging is strictly about sex. Swinging is just a way to spice up your sex life with your partner involved. It’s different from an open relationship because it includes your partner. In an open relationship, your partner doesn’t have to be included.
So there’s a huge different in polyamory vs open relationship vs swinging- all can fall under ENM relationship.
The Benefits Of An Open Relationship
Despite what vanilla society says, there are tremendous benefits of opening your relationship- even if it’s temporary. Open relationships can certainly be healthy and remain an ENM relationship. Here are a few reasons why:
- More trust. Open relationships require high levels of trust. Being able to trust your partner with other people reduces fears most relationships have.
- Stronger communication skills. Open relationships require you to be more OPEN. In open relationships, it is much easier to express and communicate your needs. Open relationships encourage more honesty and a constant line of truthful communication.
- Face your insecurities. Open relationships do come with a little jealousy. But practicing this type of relationship forces you to practice a stronger sense of self.
- Makes you want your partner even more. The occasional space between you and your partner creates higher levels of desire and appreciation for them.
- Your needs are fulfilled. No one is perfect and no human being is supposed to cater to every single need you have. Having your needs met with other people avoids resentment and codependency.
- Way less jealousy. The ability to be honest and open with your partner creates trust, less fears and lower chances of cheating.
- It makes the idea of marriage way less daunting. No one is stressed about being perfect or being everything to their partner. It takes way less pressure and stress off.
- Less likely to break up. Because of the lower pressure of being the perfect partner for your partner, you are less likely to break up. The more relaxed but very open environment creates less hostility, resentment, anxiety etc.
Open Relationship Rules
The boundaries and rules of an open relationship depend on the people in the relationship. However, there are a few key rules that keep your relationship an ENM relationship. Here are a few rules that you need to prevent your open relationship from becoming a complete mess:
- Safe sex. Safety is ALWAYS a priority when it comes to sex. Get tested and use condoms. Don’t bring STDs home to your primary relationship.
- Consent/Trust. Make sure this is something everyone in the relationship is sure about. Don’t do this if there’s a history of mistrust and/or mistreatment. A person that cannot be trusted cannot be trusted in ANY form of relationship.
- Discuss emotional and sexual boundaries. Things like the frequency of sex outside the primary relationship, what kind of activities are off limits with others- such as anal or BDSM, the people who are off limits etc etc…. Basically, discuss what kind of activities are not allowed or allowed with others. This is whatever you want.
- Be honest. BE OPEN. This should be very obvious but some people seem to think open relationships means doing whatever tf you want regardless of the boundaries discussed. Open relationships mean BE OPEN. Prioritize honest and constant communication.
- Be honest and respectful with EVERYONE. Your primary partner is not the only person who requires respect and honesty. Let your outside relationships know you have a partner at home and don’t treat them like they’re disposable. Don’t lead anyone on. Leading them on is considered infidelity.
- Don’t let jealousy build. If jealousy occurs, address it head on. The last thing you want to do is let emotions build inside of you only for it to explode in an ugly way later. Jealousy could also mean it’s time to change up the rules.
- Do not break the rules/ boundaries. You still have to be respectful with your partner.
- Do regular check-ins. To keep everyone from getting lost in the moments, schedule check-ins. Make sure there are no assumptions and make sure everyone is still on the same page.
- Prioritize your primary relationship. Make sure you schedule time and space to nurture your relationship. One of the benefits of open relationships is that it forces you to put in work for your partner. Remind them you love them and don’t spend more time with your outside partners than you do with your primary partner.
- BACK OUT if it doesn’t work. When at least one party is uncomfortable, it is no longer considered an ENM relationship. The goal is to keep non monogamy respectful. It is no longer respectful when one doesn’t want it anymore.
The silliest thing you can do in an OPEN relationship is mess things up. I’ve seen people sabotage their own freedom/happiness by not being OPEN in an OPEN RELATIONSHIP. Your partner deserves the greatest love and respect if they are willing to allow you to enjoy life without them sometimes. It’s best to keep it an ENM relationship.
Don’t break the open relationship rules.