If your partner wants an open relationship, it’s important to ask them what they are looking for in this arrangement. It’s also important to communicate your own feelings about this topic.
It’s also important to create sexual boundaries from the start of the relationship. This includes defining what “open” means for your partner: do they want to include only sexual connections or emotional ones as well?
1. You’re looking for intimacy
Intimacy is an important part of any relationship. It involves a deep connection, and it can be more than just physical intimacy (although it’s often the first thing that comes to mind). Intimacy can also include emotional and intellectual intimacy. It can be as simple as sharing your feelings with your partner or as complex as discussing your beliefs and viewpoints. Intimacy can also be found in shared experiences, such as traveling together or enjoying a restaurant dinner.
If your partner wants to move into an open relationship, it’s important to listen to their reasoning and to consider whether or not this would be a good fit for you. However, if you’re not comfortable with open relationships, it’s also important to communicate this clearly. This could save you a lot of heartache down the road.
Jealousy is a big problem in open relationships, so it’s important to avoid making assumptions about your partner and to have regular check-ins with them. This will help prevent any misunderstandings or disagreements that can lead to jealousy. Additionally, it’s important to remember that while jealousy is a normal feeling, you should never allow it to control your relationship.
2. You’re not satisfied with your current relationship
If he’s constantly telling you that open relationships are the way of the future, this may be a sign that he’s not satisfied with his current relationship. He could be bored and wishing for more excitement or he might be experiencing emotional, verbal, or physical pain from his partner. Either way, he’s looking for a change and an open relationship is something he wants to explore.
If this is the case, he’s probably not going to tell you exactly why he feels this way but he might say that he wants to expand his sexual experience and have more fun. In this case, it’s important to discuss his reasons for wanting an open relationship. This will help you determine whether this is the right path for both of you.
You may also find that you agree on the terms of your open relationship. For example, you might both decide that he can date other people but not have children. You might also both decide that you can “approve” each other’s external partners, which can help prevent cheating or feelings of insecurity.
When discussing your open relationship plans with your partner, it’s best to do so in a neutral location. That will make the conversation more productive and allow both of you to come from a logical place rather than an emotional one.
3. You’re open to new experiences
It’s no secret that nontraditional relationship styles like open relationships and polyamory are on the rise (just look at Will and Jada). These unconventional arrangements can provide a lot of satisfaction for couples who want to explore their interests or address sexual needs in ways monogamous relationships often can’t.
If your boyfriend wants an open relationship, it’s important to discuss your wants and needs and establish boundaries upfront. It’s also important to ensure that you’re both on the same page regarding sexual exploration, as this can be a major point of conflict in an open relationship. For example, you may both agree to use condoms when engaging in sexual activities outside of your partnership.
You should also clarify what types of sex you’re comfortable with, such as oral or penetrative sex. It’s also helpful to have regular check-ins with your partner to ensure that both of you are still satisfied with the agreements you’ve made.
While open relationships can be very rewarding, they’re not a quick fix for a relationship that is struggling. In fact, Sheff argues that using consensual nonmonogamy as a way to mend a damaged connection usually fails and can actually cause more damage in the long run. So, if your relationship is struggling and you’re considering an open arrangement, make sure that both of you are committed to making the situation work for you.
4. You’re looking for a deeper connection
While many people think of open relationships as “don’t ask, don’t tell”-style arrangements where a couple gives each other a free pass to date others, nonmonogamy is actually more complicated than that. For example, Winston says, some couples agree to have sex only with each other while maintaining casual dating relationships outside of the relationship. Others might even agree to have “friends-with-benefits” relationships, where they have sex and occasional intimate dates with friends but don’t share those experiences with each other.
No matter what modalities you decide on, it’s important to communicate clearly with your partner and establish sexual boundaries from the start. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure that both parties are comfortable with the arrangement.
It’s also important to check-in regularly to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about your open relationship. This will keep your relationship safe, and ensure that you are both using condoms whenever you have sex with someone besides each other.
If you’re considering an open relationship, be sure to consider the reasons why your boyfriend wants one. It’s important to have an honest discussion with your partner about what you both want out of the relationship, and explore ways that you can work together to create a more fulfilling, satisfying partnership.