Will Smith recently talked about his open relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith. And on his marital relationship, he said, “I don’t suggest this road for anybody”. But hey, some people just want to try an open marriage relationship. Unconventional relationships are no longer a taboo topic. If you are up for it, you have to stick to some of the important open relationship rules.
What are the rules for an open relationship? Many people nowadays realize that monogamy is not for them. Some people turn to open relationships and polyamorous relationships to spice up their sex life.
But as this consensual non-monogamous relationship becomes common, we still lack a social script for how it works. Today, we will try and look at some of the rules for an open relationship.
What Is An Open Relationship?
Before we go to the rules of it, we have to understand what exactly it is. There is no exact definition. It depends on the parameters set by the people involved.
But usually, it boils down to a relationship in which both partners have the freedom to explore a sexual and romantic relationship with other people.
In reality, open relationships often include a casual sexual relationship with someone else than your primary partner.
Some people consider this relationship a form of polygamy. Others say that polygamy is a group relationship and marriage situation.
At the end of the day, the success of the relationship depends on the rules of open relationship you set. It is all about being self-protective and protective of your partner. These rules provide emotional safety for all parties involved.
Common Open Relationship Rules
Set Sex Boundaries
One of the first rules you should agree on as a couple is what type of sex you are OKAY with. Or, if sexual intercourse is OKAY at all.
Be specific. For example, is penetrative sex okay? Kissing only? Oral sex only? Should you explore things like BDSM? Can you try things your partner doesn’t like?
Set Emotional Boundaries
Once you set the sex boundaries, you have to set emotional boundaries as well. Define what social and emotional behaviors are fine. For example, you might be fine with your partner having a Tinder hookup. But you are not comfortable with him/her going out on dates and looking for a secondary partner in a social context.
Emotional intimacy guidelines are even harder and more challenging than physical ones. Often people get jealous, even though they say they will not. The two important questions are: Can you have sex without developing emotional feelings? And if so, how will you and your partner address that situation?
Set Up Boundaries About Partners
Or in other words, establish who it is cool to hook up with. These relationships are not always open to anyone. This is where any married couple can get into trouble. It is important to agree on who it is fair game to get into an intimate relationship.
For example, you might feel jealous or threatened by certain people. You can agree on having sex only with strangers. Some people do not want to awkwardly run into their partner’s sex hookup during a party or on the street.
Also, agree on the status of your outside partner.
Practice Safe Sex
Simply put, safe sex is a must. When you go from an exclusive relationship to an open one, you might feel excited about trying new things. But safe sex is a must. A lot of people throw safe sex practices out of the window.
Be specific about safe sex. For example, using a condom for any penetrative sex. Should your partner use a dental dam for oral sex? Will you get screened regularly? And so on.
This is one of the most important, yet challenging parts of the relationship. In a healthy relationship honesty is a must. Even if it is an open one. Remember, this relationship gives you the freedom to not hide your sexual needs.
Be honest about what you want and need.
Define How Much Time You Will Spend With Outside Partners
When you go down the list of rules for a healthy open relationship, it looks even stricter than your regular one. But that is the key.
Once you establish boundaries about emotions and physical intimacy, you have to set up time boundaries. Should you check with the outside partner once a week? Once a month? How comfortable are you with that schedule?
Decide How You Will Talk About Your Relationship With Others
The hardest part of this love relationship is talking with others. How will you explain to others the rules you have in your relationship? Should you tell others you have an open-type relationship?
Another point of interest, will you tell each other about outside hookups at all? Will you talk about it? How much detail should you share?
Expect some trial and error process here.
Discuss Your Regular Check-In
Some people just go the “play around and see what comes up” way. But others want to know how often you will have a check-in.
Remind Your Partner You Love Him
The most important open relationship rule is to remind your partner that you love him/her and he/she is enough for you.
There is a difference between being enough and being one and only. We live in a world where there is rarely only one who will satisfy you sexually 100% of the time. Or romantically 100% of the time.
But your partner must know he/she is the only one in your world you truly love.
What Not To Do?
There are certain open relationship guidelines you need to follow. And there are also things you should NEVER do.
Never Sit With Your Jealousy
Let’s be honest, everyone gets jealous. But the trick here is to say it. You have to be honest. The moment you let it out and have an honest discussion, jealousy stops being a negative thing and turns into an emotional growth and maturation process.
Don’t Back Your Partner Into A Corner
You cannot say “we are not getting out of this car until we talk”. It doesn’t work that way. When you back someone into a corner, usually bad things happen. Remember, lions attack only when they are backed into a corner.
You cannot make ultimatums. You cannot withhold sex because you are not getting what you want. This is not war.
Do Not Force It
Same as backing up in a corner, forcing will do you no good. If an open relationship doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. There is nothing wrong with that.
If you are the one half who wants it, do not force it on your romantic partner.
Is Open Relationship For You?
Now that we talked about all the rules, guidelines, and what not to do, what do you think? Is an open relationship something for you?
Remember, for this to work, both you and your sexual partner have to enter it willingly. You also have to remember that this type of relationship is not a way to fix your turbulent relationship. It is not something you can use to fix the troubles in your own romantic relationship.
Before you propose this thing to your partner, figure out why you want an open relationship. Is it only an excuse to hook up with others? Or is it something else?
Nowadays, it is completely fine to expect a partner to be sexually exclusive with you. But also it is fine to have an open relationship with multiple sex partners.
If you cannot handle conflict and challenges, this relationship is definitely not for you. See what your gut is telling you. If it is “no, no, no, God damn no”, then it is no. But if it is “YES SURE YES”, then try it.