How To Talk About Opening Up Your Relationship, According To Experts
It's conventional wisdom that some day, you will find "the one" and settle down. But, what if you’re not all that conventional and your one is more like ones? Well, first of all, there's nothing wrong with that. For some folks, monogamy just isn't the right fit, so open relationships work for them, as long as they're open honest with their partners. But in order to be as transparent as possible (especially if you're already coupled up) the first thing you need to know is how to talk about opening up your relationship, because the first thing you're going to learn about polyamory is that it requires a lot — and I mean a lot — of communication and honesty. This can be really hard, especially if you don't know how to start the conversation.
For the folks I know who either have multiple partners, or have a more open and casual arrangement with their SO, communication and ground rules are essential. But these ground rules can be really complicated and evolving. And while you might not have a perfect arrangement after a single conversation, you have to start somewhere. Granted, if open relationships are new territory for both you and your partner, talking about it can be a bit overwhelming. So, to get some guidance on what could be a challenging conversation, I reached out to Nikki Leigh, a love and relationships coach and host of Ready for Love Radio, for advice on how to approach the conversation and what exactly to talk about with your partner.
How To Prepare For The Conversation
Before you talk to your partner, the first step is to develop a clear picture of what opening up your relationship looks like for you, and what you really want. “Evaluate why you want to open up your relationship,” Leigh tells Elite Daily. “If you are doing it simply to play around, and your partner won't, you're looking for trouble.”
For the open relationship to be successful, Leigh explains you’re going to have to be ready to be really honest with your partner, including being “totally open and honest about your wants, needs, desires and motivations. Open communication is extremely important in all relationships but even more so in any sort of alternative type of relationship.” In order to do that, you have to have a clear idea of what your desires and boundaries are first. Leigh says to “do your research and research a variety of reputable resources to be sure you really understand what it means to be open. In other words, understand what you're getting yourself into!”
How To Approach The Subject With Your Partner
Once you know what it is that you want, it’s time for an open and honest conversation with your SO. But, knowing how to even begin the conversation can be difficult, so Leigh offers a couple of suggestions that should make exploring the topic much less intimidating.
“You can do it as simply as saying that you want to discuss a way to spice up your relationship,” she says, adding "or [as] a way to bring variety to the relationship or a way to bring more love into the relationship.” Ultimately, Leigh explains, how you broach the topic will really come back to what you are looking for in opening up the relationship.
Essential Topics To Discuss With Your Partner
Once you’ve gotten over that first obstacle of initiating the conversation, it’s time to have an honest and frank conversation about what you want and why you want it. “Why do you want to do this? What do you want to get out of it? What do you want to give? What are you looking for? What sort of partners would you like?” Leigh says, to ask yourself and your partner. Once you’ve covered those topics, you're well on your way to defining what the relationship will be moving forward.
And there is one other topic Leigh says you absolutely should discuss: jealousy. This is one of the biggest challenges any open relationship will face, because “Obviously you will have to share your partner and they will have to share you, [so] there must be an honest conversation about that,” says Leigh. “It’s easy to say it won't bother you, but it can be very different when you see your partner with someone else and especially when they are enjoying it.” While jealousy can create problems in an open relationship, healthy communication and respecting the boundaries you set together can really help to limit, and potentially even alleviate, it over time.
While non-monogamy may not the be the most “traditional” kind of relationship, as long as you and your partners are honest with each other, happy, and fulfilled, then go for it! However, if it's something you want but are still nervous about bringing up the topic, then let me leave you with this last bit of encouragement from Leigh.
“You may be surprised by your partner's reaction," she says. "I have many friends that were pleasantly surprised that their partner was thinking the same thing and didn't know how to approach them.” You’ll never know unless you try.
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