Nature changes, politicians change, society changes - so do relationships between individuals change. A ‘normal marriage’ until the rest of our life is becoming rarer – the divorce rate of 46% in the US doesn’t let the light shine bright on the marriage concept. Other studies show that 70 % of relationships end because one has cheated.
The need for diversity is strong in people. Lovers start yearning for more polarity and diversity in their relationships - especially during long-term relationships. So People slowly look into other options and experiment with different concepts that suits their lifestyle better. What is the definition of an open relationship and what does it mean to life such a lifestyle? Why would you do such a thing? What rules are required and what matters to keep the peace? In this article we offer a wide range of information, what’s it all about and want to offer some advice how to successfully live in an open relationship.
While we try to work out the topic of the of open relationship in depth, let us start with the most common definition first. What is open relationship meaning? The open relationship definition is a committed relationship between two individuals who want to share a life together but agree to a non-monogamous lifestyle. So the meaning of this relationship concept is that the parties are allowed to date and have romantic or physical involvements with other people if desired. Believing in abundance can bring us over possessiveness. It’s actually quite a spiritual path if you look closer.
When we are in an open relationship and have other dating partners, we have to understand that every action comes with great responsibility. Why?
Because we are still in a relationship and are not just sleeping around like a single, who does not have to care about anyone.
Open relationships can be hard work and lots of unconditional love for one another. It means to take full responsibility for our actions. When we break a rule and we, for example, forget to tell our main partner that we won’t come home for the night because we stay at our other lover, we have to understand that our main partner might become angry. This understanding and patience for the feelings of our partner is one of the foundations. Also a strong trust and transparency between the couple in an open relationship is necessary in order to keep the harmony and peace. Especially important is the willingness to communicate about whatever comes up emotionally or mentally in order to work through. It is crucial to not let it built up until it explodes. It’s a strong transformational journey we can go through, especially when it comes to detachment and jealousy. Being in an open Relationship means to ride a love roller-coaster together, where it can go quickly up but also quickly down, where we commit to look at our own shadows and take responsibility to work through our own stuff.
Opening up a relationship is not always a walk in the park, especially in the beginning we enter strange territory with lots of traps. So you wonder why do people open up their relationship in the first place?
Well, because there is often something missing in their relationship. Mostly it’s the sexual aspect. Many want more diversity, want to try different sexual practices, different styles and want to become better lovers through variation and experiences. Often it’s the weak polarity, the lack of desire and attraction towards their partner, whom they know from inside out and they start to feel a little bored because they got nothing to share anymore. The fire or the spark which was in the beginning very strong is lacking its potential and that’s why they developed the desire for something/someone else.
To open up and challenge the relationship a little bit, can re-inspire this spark and bring up a great attraction to one another. When we see that our lover is worshiped by others, we suddenly don’t take them for granted anymore.
So to open up a relationship is not necessarily risking it, but can even sometimes prevent a break-up.
Rules can be of great help in an open relationship. Especially when we go through intense times of emotions where the process of transformation seems unbearable. Rules give us a certain framework on which we can rely on. Especially when it comes to delicate topics, which might trigger negative emotions, like for example sleepovers. Some couples might have the rule that sleepovers are not allowed, other don’t have an issue, as long as they call each other in the evening. But of course there are no rules written in stone, what works for one, doesn’t automatically work for another.
Open Relationships are like a mirror for ourselves, our personality and our ego. Particularly this kind of relationship concept will very quickly show us our shadows. It might show our attachment and possessiveness. Jealousy or ownership are signs that we unconsciously make the other our always available exclusive love-slave. Whenever an emotion gets triggered we can use rules in order to milden pitfall and enjoy the positive side. Both parties develop these rules with time together. Note that they aren’t there to restrict, but to help each other to transform our weakness smoothly into strength. From possessiveness to unconditional love!
Here are 10 important open relationship rules that matter
Even though truth can be hard and challenging, we really need to be transparent with the facts. Tell each other how many lovers you have, how often you see them, etc. Some partners might even want to know every juicy detail - if they ask, tell them. If they don’t ask about it, just let them know what they need to know in order to keep the transparency.
Don’t exaggerate with sexy details, it might trigger your partner’s self-esteem. Be discreet, honest and with lots of empathy towards your partner. Talk about both of your sexual partners and your concerns. Also arrange a meeting together. Two women who sleep with the same man can become enemies. Especially if they don’t know each other, they will start projecting things onto each other. Or, when done right, they can become sisters for a lifetime.
Jumping from a monogamous exclusive relationship into an open relationship can be challenging and can sometimes even lead to break-up. Be easy on yourself, go slowly and gently, test the waters first in order to understand how strong you and your partner are on a psychological level. Talk about everything which comes up. Are you excited for each other or is there jealously in the air? You might want to start with a sexual experience including a third party together, e.g. a threesome.
An absolutely no go, unless both agree to it. It can be very challenging to involve someone who is close to both of you, unless you are very experienced in this field. Maybe try a threesome if you really need to sleep with your friend, it’s very inclusive and creates a trustful atmosphere.
Talk with your main partner about this topic. Do you just meet your dates for sex or are you allowed to go emotionally deeper. Women often tend to fall in love with the person they sleep with. Be clear how far each one of you can go. And also be aware: those things can get out of control!
Sharing with everyone how many dates beside your main partner you have can lead to great trouble. Keep your secrets with you. You can maybe share it with your closest friends who are understanding and open. This kind of relationship is not for everyone and it might push buttons in other people. You don’t want to the embarrassment for you and your partner, nor do you want to challenge your family and friends too much, if it simply isn’t for them.
Define together what you like and what you don’t like. As mentioned above, is a sleepover ok or not?! Or what else might be a concern? Talk honestly and frankly about every detail, the more you both are on the same page the more harmony this lifestyle will create.
That’s of course clear. You don’t want to spread stupid STD around. Be protected and test yourself on a regular basis.
No matter what, your main partner is first in any plans, events or situation. That stabilizes your relationship and brings security into the picture.
This is mainly valid for an open relationship. If it comes to polyamory (having two or more main partners) it’s a different story. The development of unconditional love in a polyamorous relationship is absolutely necessary. It needs a very strong personality and the strong believe in abundant love to deal with more main partners. But until then, be patient and don’t overwhelm yourself and your partner.
That helps tremendously in order to keep the peace. Make clear how often you are allowed to see and interact with your other lovers. And always make sure you have enough time for each other. Also discuss how long you want to be in an open relationship? Is it just for a few month for a trial or do you want to go deeper with this lifestyle? Discuss your visions!
> “Yesterday I was in the middle of eating my scrambled eggs during breakfast when he said ‘I met a girl online last night. We chatted for around 40 minutes. She has great contacts, I’m thinking she might be interested in your book.’
‘Ooh goody.’ Then I clicked. ‘Are you interested in sleeping with her?’
My boyfriend looked momentarily shocked. And then we laughed. I said
‘You don’t need to worry, we’re not monogamous!’”
Even Celebrities have open relationships. They get often attacked by the media and scandalized for cheating. But they actually don’t cheat but live in an open relationship.
This for example happened to Demi Moore and her husband Ashton Kutcher. The scandal broke when Britney claimed that Demi told her that they have an open relationship and even threesomes often.
Also Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie claim that “fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship”. She thinks it’s “worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards”. They publicly state that they don’t want to “chain” or “restrict each other”.
Also Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith stated openly their polygamous relationship not so long ago. Will explained, “Our perspective is, you don’t avoid what’s natural and you’re going to be attracted to people. If it came down to it, then one would say to the other: 'Look, I need to have sex with somebody. Now I’m not going to do it if you don’t approve of it.’” For more information about their story, read here.
On websites like Experience Project you can read stories of individuals who experimented with open relationships. It’s not all about a success stories, but it’s helpful and authentic. Also reddit has a whole section dedicated to that topic. At Poly Weekly you can even subscribe to an amazing podcast about open relationships and polyamory.
Open relationships are not for everybody. For some it might seem like a walk in the park, for others it brings great emotional and mental suffering. If both parties agree to this lifestyle it’s important to set a time frame for how long you want to give it a trail until you might decide it suit both of you or not. The following advices are meant to give you some understanding where to start.
Communication is in any relationship the most crucial thing. Women and men are different and value different things, make yourself understood and let your partner repeat what they understood. You need to talk everything over, especially in the beginning, read some inspiring stories together and be clear what you want to get out of this. Explain why you want to try this relationship concept and what your vision with your partner is. If you end up in an argument talk about other ways how to improve you relationship.
These rules are important in order to keep the harmony and enjoy the great benefits and highs of an open relationship. Sit down and make a list of boundaries in order to avoid strong emotional break-outs. But always be prepared that even with this frame work, emotional stuff will get triggered anyhow.
Patience. As said above, stuff will get triggered and it’s important to be ready and prepared for it in order to transform those emotions into strengths. Never rush with those things, you might risk your relationship.
In an emotional closed society like ours we learn to never really show our emotions and feelings. Learn to understand what’s happening inside of you and share it with your partner. The light of awareness will transform every bit of negative emotion.
Even though you created this freedom together to experience sexual diversity, never ever lie or cheat on your main partner. There is no reason for it :). Always let your main partner know what’s going on. Unless you explicitly know that your partner doesn’t want to know. If you hold back because you don’t want to hurt you partner, be clear that you hurting him/her even more through lying.
However your trial will look like: draw a conclusion how it went (if you decided on a certain time) and if it was too painful. Don’t be attached to it and do what feels right to do for your relationship. Remember: Every relationship is different and the concept of open relationship might not work for everyone. There are other things you can do to bring freshness and diversity into your relationship.
Once you decided to live in an open relationship you want to start dating of course. For some people it goes easy, for others it’s hard work. Especially for man it can be difficult sometimes to find a woman because most wouldn’t like the thought that they have a main partner or a wife at home. That’s why it’s easier to look around in the poly scene where people are already informed and know how to deal with these things. There are dating platforms which are especially made for people, either couples or individuals, who look for open approaches. Check out multiplematch.com, open-relationships.meetup.com or polymatchmaker.com.
The concept of open relationships offers a great potential for spiritual growth. Like every other relationship it will always be an mirror for us in order to understand where we can grow and transform. To be in a monogamous relationship doesn’t mean in the same time being in a less spiritual relationship. It’s just that lots of things get triggered by a polygamous lifestyle and it’s an opportunity to look at those triggers. Especially when it comes to the Polyamorous lifestyle where we believe in the abundance of love.
“If you are not ready to suffer, you are not ready to love”
– Kahil Gilbran
“Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should 'behave'?” “Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of 'you better act right or else' keep one honest and true? Do we believe that we can have meaningful relationships with people who have not defined nor live by the integrity of his or her higher self? What of unconditional love? Or does love look like, feel like, and operate as enslavement? Do we believe that the more control we put on someone the safer we are? What of TRUST and LOVE?”
– Jada Pinkett Smith
Couple in a open relationship: Holly: “Get any luck last night?” Jeremy: “Some nice assed latin girl.” Holly: “As nice as me?” Jeremy: “No Holly. Youre the best.” Holly: “I know. Can you test me on my hindi?” Jeremy: “Whats Pani?”
“I reserve the right to love many different people at once, and to change my prince often.”
– Anaïs Nin
“The point for me is to create relationships based on deeper and more real notions of trust. So that love becomes defined not by sexual exclusivity, but by actual respect, concern, commitment to act with kind intentions, accountability for our actions, and a desire for mutual growth.”
– Dean Spade
“When jealousy rears up, it indicates that something inside of you is afraid. It's an alarm, nothing less and nothing more. Treat it as such.”
– Anthony D. Ravenscroft
“Security comes first from inside of you. Then, if you are very lucky, you will be in a position to find other people who also possess that same sort of security, and build some sort of family or community as a team.”
– Anthony D. Ravenscroft
“I view polyamorist the same way I view skydivers – with a certain level of awe because they have achieved something I wouldn’t dare to even imagine for myself.”