Tips for Your First Open Relationship

Unlike a monogamous relationship, where everybody from your mother to your best friend’s uncle’s cousin has some tidbit of wisdom to share about how to “do it right,” open relationships have a much smaller peanut gallery.

It can be hard to find anyone willing to talk about your decision to bring someone new into the mix. Most of the time you’ll hear something along the lines of “You want to do what? or “I definitely couldn’t do that.”

I’ve done it, and now I’ll share some things that I wish I’d known from the start.

Set Boundaries Early 

Have a conversation with your existing partner about what you are and aren’t willing to share with one another, before you embark on your journey. Are you open to overnights? Is entertaining at home okay, or do new partners have to host? Do you want to hear about each other’s sexy adventures? Do you want to meet each other’s partners?

Figuring these things out ahead of time will make the transition far less stressful for everyone.

Let New Relationships Develop Naturally

Maybe you’ve got it all worked out—date nights twice a week and more casual sex than emotional intimacy. You really just want to spice things up, without committing too much time and energy to someone new.

It’s important set the boundaries, but also to keep an open mind. Sometimes relationships morph into unexpected territory, so it’s a good idea to leave room for that, at least psychologically. One thing I love about being poly is the freedom to let my emotional connections go where they naturally want to go.

Stay In the Moment

Being present is so important to healthy poly relationships, and yet it can be so difficult to do. You might find yourself thinking about one of your partners a lot. Maybe you get a text from them when you’re out with someone else. Should you respond to it? Unless it’s an emergency, the answer to that question should always be no.

Focus on the partner you’re with and enjoy each of your relationships fully by giving them the time and attention they deserve. It might take practice, but it’s worth it.

Honor Your Existing Commitments

New relationship energy is a powerful thing. It feels incredible, but it can also lead us to neglect some of the other important people and things in our lives. Take the time to check in with your primary partner. Think of traditions you’ve developed over the course of your relationship, then agree to honor them no matter what.

Small things, like going to your special restaurant, or binge watching your favorite shows together, can make all the difference when it comes to staying connected. Sometimes polyamory becomes a bonding experience in and of itself, but try not to rely on that one hundred percent of the time to keep your love alive.

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