Nowadays, there are more ways than ever to define relationships: long-distance relationships, short-term LDRs, yo-yo dating and everything in-between. Although these types of relationships might seem complicated, one study found that most adults think that open relationships are actually NBD. Since millennials are hopping on the boundary-breaking bandwagon, it’s worth knowing the ins and out of this unique type of love affair. Couples therapist Zach Brittle acknowledges that open relationships can be complex and messy — but not if you do them right. He broke down the four steps to take if you and your partner are ready for an open relationship.
1. Be super clear about your definition of an open relationship. An open relationship is certainly, well, open to interpretation. For some couples, an open relationship means being able to date other people; for others, it means only hooking up with other people. According to Zach, having a very candid conversation about what your boundaries are before you open your relationship up could save a lot of misunderstanding and heartache down the road.
2. Agree about how much you’re going to share. Do you really want to know every time your partner goes out with someone new? If you do, it should be a two-way street. If you expect your partner to tell you about their other relationships, you should do the same. Knowing what you want is essential for success in any type of relationship, and what you want can absolutely change — you just have to let your partner know. If you keep these conversations consistent, you’ll have a better chance of being happier and maintaining trust in your open relationship.
3. Discuss your relationship goals. Being open about what each of you wants and needs from your open relationship is important for its longevity. And while setting goals can keep your expectations in check, keep in mind that open relationships aren’t necessarily built to stand the test of time.
Specifically, open relationships can be harmful to people who are prone to deep attachments. “Some people have a high tolerance for sharing their partner’s mind, body and soul,” Zach says. “But if your goal is attachment, open relationships are a lot harder.”
4. Consider everyone involved. If you really think about it, open relationships can be selfish because the other partner (or even person you’re casually dating) could develop an attachment too. Even though you’re working to balance your original relationship with your side fling, Zach says that taking everyone’s feelings into account is extremely important. Treat your S.O. and others you date with respect by being upfront about your relationship status. Be open to conversations about how much you can talk about or text the other person you’re dating when you’re with different partners.
Have any tips for succeeding in an open relationship? Let us know @BritandCo!
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