5 things that are hard to talk about that I wish I knew before agreeing to an open relationship

Relationships can be complicated. The idea of open relationships is becoming more appealing as more people understand polyamory and the benefits of non-monogamous relationships.

Some argue that monogamy is overrated, while others believe it’s the only way.

After my divorce, I decided to explore different relationship styles to find out what I truly wanted.

RELATED: 6 Men Explain How They Asked Their Partners For An Open Relationship

Having spent most of my adult life in committed relationships, jumping into another one immediately didn’t feel right.

“If the last one failed, why wouldn’t the next?” I wondered.

Of course, that was just my post-breakup brain talking.

Monogamous relationships can be wonderful, but I was ready to try something new.

As I explored open relationships, I started by Googling: What is an open relationship? How do you find people interested in polyamory? What books should I read? What if I don’t want to be a secondary partner?

Google didn’t disappoint, offering a billion links (seriously).

Certain books kept coming up, and a friend suggested reading “Mating in Captivity” to understand both sides of this tricky coin.

I soon found a new partner and shared the books I was reading with him.

I nervously suggested an open relationship, even though we’d only been dating a few months.

Surprisingly, he was open to it. I was excited but completely unprepared for the reality.

Here are 5 challenging things I wish I had known before agreeing to an open relationship:

  1. Healthy communication is crucial
    Relationships bring out every emotion, even before adding other people into the mix.

If you struggle with healthy communication—no yelling, name-calling, shaming, passive-aggressiveness—adding other romantic relationships could make things worse.

Opening your relationship isn’t a fix for an already struggling couple.

Healthy communication is your foundation.

Do you really want to stay in this primary relationship? If so, why do you want an open relationship?

RELATED: Why We Chose To Have An Open Marriage Without A Legally Binding Contract

  1. Set ground rules beforehand
    Do you have dealbreakers for an open relationship?

Maybe you want it open only at certain times, like when visiting clubs.

Or maybe physical dates are fine, but developing a romantic relationship with someone else is not.

Perhaps intimacy is okay, but no sleeping over at each other’s places.

Whatever your preferences, express them. Your partner can’t meet your needs if you don’t share them.

  1. Accepting your partner’s intimacy with others is harder than it seems
    Good communication will be key here.

Setting ground rules is essential before starting an open relationship.

But even if you discuss everything that might make you uncomfortable, something unexpected will bother you.

It’s part of the process, and you have to work through it together.

When we first started seeing other people, I asked my partner to share his first intimate experience with someone else so I could process it.

I didn’t expect to feel grief, but it was necessary for me to decide if I could handle this.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Tell If A Man Is Truly Polyamorous (Or Just An Unfaithful Loser)

  1. Be secure in who you are
    This might seem obvious, but some struggle with it. When my partner shared stories about another partner that differed from our relationship, my inner critic would say, “She’s better than you. Prettier. More fun.”

Silence that critic and love yourself because you are enough.

Your partner’s affection for someone else doesn’t diminish your worth.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

If fears like “What if my partner leaves me for them?” arise, acknowledge them.

We’re not obligated to anyone. If a partner or you decide to leave, it’s okay. It’s okay to grieve those losses if they happen.

  1. Everything is temporary
    I often have an all-or-nothing mentality (maybe it’s the Scorpio in me).

When I say everything is temporary, I mean every second of every day, things change.

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Some things are beyond our control, and some aren’t.

If something isn’t working for you, voice it. Change it.

If you were comfortable with something before but no longer are, say so.

Just because you choose a path doesn’t mean it’s set in stone.

If you or your partner want to continue this lifestyle and the other doesn’t, that’s okay.

It might mean ending the relationship, or it might mean redrawing boundaries that everyone is comfortable with.

Open relationships aren’t for everyone.

I grew up in a rigid, closed-minded area where I didn’t know they existed.

Allow yourself to consider the idea if it interests you.

Treat yourself with compassion, patience, openness, and a healthy dose of humor (it makes for good stories) if you try an open relationship.

You might love it or not. But that’s the beauty of life; you can always change your mind.

RELATED: Why People In Open Relationships Are Happier, According To Research

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