There is no one size fits all in love. Every relationship is unique. Whether you are just entering into something with someone and you both want an open relationship or what you have hasn’t been working and you both think an open relationship might work, it’s important to talk about the logistics in depth. You need to find out what each person’s boundaries are. Rules and guidelines have to be set down, communication has to be good and constantly flowing throughout the process and boundaries need to be set in order for it to be a mutually happy, healthy, fulfilling relationship that adds rather than hinders each person’s well-being. If you want an open relationship, you’ll need to sit down with your partner at a time when neither of you are preoccupied and discuss the matter fully. Now’s the time to lay all the cards on the table. Be sensitive to how your partner will feel about this. Try to think of what they might say but be open to other interpretations, too. Let them know why it’s something you really want to try. If they don’t agree however, you’ll have to decide whether you want to stay in this relationship and perhaps develop it more to gain more satisfaction from it or you’ll possibly have to move on. Talk all of your emotions out and come to some sort of understanding. If your partner agrees, it’s time to set forth some ground rules. These vary from couple to couple. Of course in any relationship it is important to compromise. That said, you shouldn’t have to do anything and everything your partner wants. Make sure you come up with an arrangement you are both comfortable with.
Common rules are no sex with friends, no having relations with people you both know, sex is okay if one person is on a trip, the other person has to give consent before sex can take place, sex outside of the relationship isn’t allowed in the home, or it’s okay at home but not in the bedroom, or sex with another person is only okay when both partners are participating in it. Every person is unique as each couple is. Every person has to decide what is right for him or her and also what the couple can both agree upon. Remember to keep the communication lines open and clear. Don’t bottle something that is bothering you up inside or it will grow and fester and tear you and the relationship apart. Nothing is written in a contract and things can change. Experiment together and find out what works best for the two of you. Now it’s time to talk about boundaries. Do you need to know what happened between your partner and their lover? Or would you rather not know? How does your partner feel about it? Some people like to know who it was, and where or when it happened but little else. Discuss the matter together in detail and see what works for the two of you. You don’t have to jump right into it. Think about perhaps trying a threesome first before one or both of you go off with a different lover. Be sure to have full disclosure on both sides. Don’t cheat. If you break any rules fess up to them. Cheating is still cheating in an open relationship, and a betrayal cuts just as deep. Trust has to inhabit a relationship like this, and be a strong, vibrant bond or else it won’t work. If an open relationship isn’t working for one person, then it won’t work for the entire relationship. Talk about it and clear the air. Find out what would make the person who isn’t comfortable happy again. This arrangement is about working together and enhancing rather than inhibiting your life experience. For more, read Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino.