Open relationships have been getting more attention than ever, but many people still don’t know much about them. There are plenty of concerns about consensual non-monogamy, and the people who engage in it, as well as some unnecessary hype. (No, it’s not a magic solution for boredom or cheating.) This may come as a surprise, but many of the best aspects of open relationships can also improve monogamous ones, so it’s definitely worth the time to learn a little more about them. Here are some of the great aspects of open relationships that might improve any other type of relationship:
Now, there’s honesty, and then there’s the level of honesty required to catch jealousy and insecurity before they spiral out of control. When building an open relationship, proactive honesty is the backbone that everything else relies on. This can mean telling your partner when you’re a bit upset about something, even if you think it’s not a big deal, so that everyone is on the same page. It also means not keeping information yourself just because you haven’t been directly asked, because odds are good that anything you’re that reluctant to discuss could be important later on.
This ties into honesty, but it is a separate skill, and one that often requires a great deal of practice. A person can do their best to be honest, but their point may still not come across if they don’t have the necessary skills for effective sharing and listening. Each person generally has their own style of communication, and learning how your partners tend to express themselves is a very important component in successful relationships of any type.
This might just be the best part, and it absolutely applies to anyone, anywhere. When you’re in clear and honest communication with a partner, especially early on, you have so many amazing chances to define the kind of relationship you want. You can settle on boundaries that prevent painful misunderstandings down the road, or discover that your needs are too mismatched and it would be better just to be friends before anyone’s heart is on the line.
For example, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss exactly what cheating means to you and to your partner. Yes, you can still cheat in open relationships. Rejecting monogamy is not a free pass to do whatever you want without consequences, and one simple definition of cheating is just the breaking of trust between two people. In open relationships, cheating might be defined as going on a date with someone new before telling current partners, or as having unprotected sex before everyone involved has had a new STD test. It can be very personal and very specific, and it can differ from one person to the next.
It’s easy to assume that if you’re monogamous, the rules for cheating are clear, but this can result in people running headfirst into boundaries that they hadn’t previously considered. One person might think that snuggling with a friend of the opposite sex is cheating, but another might think it’s just fine as long as it doesn’t lead to anything more. Discussing different scenarios, and the consequences and solutions for broken agreements, can save relationships and help everyone feel more secure.