How to Have a Conversation About an Open Relationship

How to Have a Conversation About an Open Relationship

    Open relationships, while relatively unconventional, can still be a preferred choice for many couples. Open relationships generally allow both members of the partnership some freedom to engage in sexual or romantic contact with other people. Starting a conversation about an open relationship with your partner can be difficult, so plan ahead and organize your thoughts.

    Step 1

    Consider the risks. If your partner hates the idea of an open relationship, she could experience rejection and offense to learn you desire one. Additionally, your partner may feel that she has failed to keep you romantically or sexually interested, which can cause emotional pain. She might believe that ending the relationship is preferable to dating you. However, opinions vary, and if you think your partner might favorably consider the idea, proceed with caution.

    Step 2

    Identify the type of open relationship you want before beginning the conversation. There are various types of open relationships, such as swinging, polyamory and polysexual combinations, according to counselor Kathy Labriola, in "Models of Open Relationships." The rules for each participant’s behavior will vary from one couple to the next, so have prospective guidelines to consider.

    Step 3

    Test your partner's reaction subtly, suggests Tristan Taormino in "Opening Up: A Guide To Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships." Before you discuss wanting an open relationship, find an indirect way of discovering your partner’s feelings towards it. If you’re aware of a scheduled television documentary about open relationships, "accidentally" flip the channel there while watching TV with your partner to initiate a conversation. Alternatively, mention you heard a program on the radio or saw an article that mentioned it was becoming a more popular choice for couples. This approach makes the conversation appear random and unplanned and lets you test the waters. If your dating partner is appalled by the idea, you know not to proceed further.

    Step 4

    Choose an appropriate time to bring up the issue. Ideally find a time when you plan to be together without plans for the day's activities. Discussing an open relationship could take a long time, as the issue needs to be approached with tact and care, possibly from several angles.

    Step 5

    Introduce the topic. How you do this will depend on your relationship. Reassure your partner that you still care about him, and your thoughts aren’t necessarily related to anything he has done to make you less interested in your existing relationship. Listen to his concerns and respect his feelings. An open relationship should only occur if both of you agree that it's workable.

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