Madison Kitchen

The first time I heard about the idea of an open relationship, I winced.  It didn’t sound like something I would like, or something that could be a viable possibility in a successful romantic relationship.  I vowed to myself early on that I would never be in one, and would never support one.  But when, to my surprise, my boyfriend of four years and I came to the conclusion that an open relationship may be what was best for us, I knew it was the right decision.  We had been going through a rough patch in our relationship, and had actually tried breaking up for a brief period of time, but had realized that we were still emotionally committed to each other.  However, we didn’t want to tie each other down to the commitment of a full blown relationship as we worked through personal and shared struggles. So we decided that we would stay emotionally committed to each other while allowing ourselves to explore physical relationships with other partners.  

4.4.Slide

Purchase Betsey Johnson Women's Heart Rimless Sunglasses here!

We did this for three months, with much success, before returning to a fully committed relationship.  (We chose to return to full commitment because our communication and connection with each other had strengthened significantly in our time in the open relationship.)  I would argue that our experience with an open relationship has made our relationship even better than it was before.  But how did this happen, and how can you make an open relationship work for you?  There are a few key things necessary to ensuring that your open relationship helps to strengthen your connection to your partner and enhance your relationship.

Set the Rules

It’s important to have an open, honest conversation about what you are and aren’t comfortable with before you jump into an open relationship.  What are the parameters of what each of you are allowed to do with other people?  Do you want to be told about the relationships your partner has with others, and if so, how would you like to be told?  Is there any particular person that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your partner becoming intimate with?  Don’t be shy.  Cover as much as you can so that you don’t miss anything or have any surprises along the way.  You can also set more rules as they come up following  individual situations, but it’s nice to feel like you have all of your bases covered before you start.  This way, feelings won’t get hurt at any point and you can both stay happy and keep your relationship healthy.

Communicate and Be Honest

Tell each other everything.  It can be easy in an open relationship to become worried that your partner is hiding things from you or constantly seeing other people when you’re not with them.  To ease these worries, make sure you and your partner are always open with each other about when you’re going to see someone else, and then afterwards, what happened with that person.  The detail you go into about your interactions with other partners is at you and your partner’s discretion–perhaps you don’t want to know anything, perhaps you want to know everything, but be prepared to share the latter.  It can be comforting to know everything about your partner’s encounter with another person so that there is nothing left to the imagination and nothing to wonder about or question.

Don’t be afraid, either, to share when you aren’t comfortable with something.  If you aren’t comfortable and don’t share it, you could become hostile or upset with your partner, which can get in the way of your emotional relationship.  The more open and honest you are about the way you’re feeling, the better.  You’ll actually find that the way that you communicate about the open relationship will significantly improve the way you communicate about other topics, too.  You’ll be unafraid to ask the tough questions or be open about how you’re feeling, which will strengthen your emotional connection with each other.

No Pictures, Please

It’s so easy for us to look up pictures of the people our partners are having relations with so that we can compare ourselves to them, but I advise  against this.  It doesn’t have any benefit, and just gets inside your head to get you to place judgment on yourself: are they prettier than me?  Skinnier than me?  Smarter than me?  Remember that your partner is emotionally committed to you; they love you for who you are and don’t judge you for who you are not.  Just because they are physically intimate with another person, doesn’t mean they are emotionally intimate with them.  Make sure that if either one of you does start to have romantic feelings for one of the people you are having relations with, you speak up and cut things off with that other person immediately.  An open relationship is not about finding another life partner, it’s about allowing yourself to have freedom to see other people when you’re not ready to be in a completely committed monogamous relationship with somebody you have strong feelings for.

Grey.Line.7

 I would argue that our experience with an open relationship has made our relationship even better than it was before.

Grey.Line.7

No Judgment

This goes for your partner and yourself!  You made this mutual decision, so allow yourself to enjoy it.  Seeing another person when you’re in an open relationship is not cheating, it’s part of the deal, and you have permission from the person you love to do it.  So have fun!  Don’t judge yourself for going out and exploring other people, and don’t judge your partner for doing it, either.  Also make sure not to judge how many partners you each have, and not to make it a competition of who can have more partners.  That’s not what it’s about. It’s possible that you’ll find, like I did, that casual physical relationships with others isn’t for you, while your partner finds themselves enjoying them immensely, or vice versa.  This is okay, and perfectly normal.  Make sure to support each other no matter what ends up happening, and, as always, speak up if you feel uncomfortable.


Remember that this is a conscious choice you’re making with your partner, and that in the end, you two are the most important people in the relationship.  If either of you feels uncomfortable, speak up.  Make sure your communication is the best that it can be.  Have no judgment with each other, and always remember that, at the end of the day, they love you no matter what.  They’re your best friend, and like any good relationship, an open relationship with them will take work.  But it’s worth it in the end.  You may find that your love for them is even stronger than it was before.

 

Madison Kitchen is an actor, singer-songwriter, lipstick enthusiast, and blogger here.  You can find her searching for new cookie recipes, frolicking through New York City, or staring at chandeliers for extended periods of time.

 

Comments (4)

  1. Sasha Tanghe

This article really resonated to me, I've been doing "long distance" for 4 years with my boyfriend back home, and I used to put myself in the most horrendous mindsets ever, we came to be extremely controlling, jealous and dependent on each other,...

This article really resonated to me, I've been doing "long distance" for 4 years with my boyfriend back home, and I used to put myself in the most horrendous mindsets ever, we came to be extremely controlling, jealous and dependent on each other, it consumed me in every way and I was extremely unhappy in NYC.
I then decided this had to stop and we must find another way to live separately in a healthy way, so we are now doing a more less "open relationship" we call each other once every two days and that is it. No crazy texting, jealousy crisis and so on. I feel so much more free and happy- But reassured I still have him by my side, simply in a different way.

Read More
 
  1. Meagan Hooper

Such important rules of engagement. Pun intended.

 
  1. Meagan Hooper    Meagan Hooper

I 'took a break' from my college boyfriend, which was much needed on my part in order to knew whether 'he was the one.' But, I will say, being physical with other people has lasting repercussions. So kiss with caution!

 
  1. Sasha Tanghe    Meagan Hooper

I agree with you on that point Meagan, I don't think "hooking up" with other people is necessary and will make you more happy, I think what is key here is just being able to be your own person and not depend on someone.
I personally would find...

I agree with you on that point Meagan, I don't think "hooking up" with other people is necessary and will make you more happy, I think what is key here is just being able to be your own person and not depend on someone.
I personally would find it extremely uncomfortable to know that my boyfriend is seeing other people whilst still "being together"...
There are different and more alternative ways to live as a couple

Read More
 

Leave your comments

Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location