Guide to Open Relationships

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Open relationships have never been more popular. With younger generations (especially millennials) becoming increasingly open to non-monogamy, and with a growing number of celebrities publicly discussing their own polyamorous or open relationships (we’re looking at you Will and Jada), it seems like there’s never been a better time to try an unconventional romance. But before you jump in headfirst into open waters—or even decide that this is something you want to try—it’s important to understand what it means to be in an open relationship and what you can expect from one.

What is an open relationship? 

First, let’s define what an open relationship is. An open relationship is a type of romantic or sexual relationship that allows each partner to engage in romantic and/or sexual activities with other people. This differs from a monogamous relationship, where partners agree that they will not have sex or emotional intimacy with anyone else outside the couple. However, there are many different kinds of open relationships. Some people wish to be able to date others casually, but reserve their primary emotional connection for their main partner; others prefer an arrangement whereby both members of the couple have several partners at once; still, others may choose only to allow sexual relationships outside the original pair (but not dating).

Open relationships can also vary widely in terms of their structure and how much negotiation goes into them—as long as all parties involved are committed to making them work and respecting each other’s needs and boundaries, they’re bound to be successful!

Types of open relationships 

Open relationships are not one-size-fits-all. They come in many different forms and can be practiced by people of all orientations, gender identities, and relationship statuses. Some are more monogamous than others: 

A polyamorous relationship involves more than one romantic relationship at the same time, with everyone’s knowledge and consent. Sometimes this means you have more than one partner, sometimes it means you have a primary partner who has secondary partners (and so on). Poly couples may live together or separately; they may cohabitate with their additional partners or not; they may share finances or keep them separate. 

Some people prefer to use “open relationship” as an umbrella term that encompasses both polyamory and nonmonogamy (or nonmonogamy), which refers to any type of relationship style in which people aren’t sexually exclusive—this includes being single but dating multiple people simultaneously or having one partner who has other casual hookups outside their primary partnership.

couple exploring open relationship

How to decide if an open relationship is right for you

You should consider the pros and cons of opening up your relationship before you take the plunge. Some of the things to think about include: 

  • The expectations that each person has
  • Your partner’s needs, wants, and boundaries
  • Your own limits/boundaries/expectations/needs are also important. Ask yourself if this is something you can commit to doing for a sustained period of time, or if this would just be a temporary arrangement. If it’s more than an experiment, then make sure that both you and your partner are on board with what you’re getting yourselves into from the start!

The benefits of open relationships

Open relationships can provide a lot of benefits to both partners, such as a better sex life, more love, more intimacy and honesty, more freedom, etc. In addition to the obvious benefits of having two or more people in your life who care about you deeply and want to spend time with you on a regular basis (which is pretty great), there are also some unexpected ones as well. You’ll learn what it means for someone to truly respect you and your desires- and why that’s so important. You’ll also see how sharing your feelings with another person can help you grow into a stronger version of yourself than ever before. 

SwingTowns is a great way to start exploring the world of open relationships, whether you’re just dipping your toes into it (so to speak) or are already familiar with this lifestyle. SwingTowns offers a friendly and inclusive space for people of all genders, orientations, ages—and couples interested in playing together.

The potential downsides of an open relationship

Of course, open relationships are not for everyone. They’re not for people who are going to cheat on their partners or get jealous that their partner is spending time with someone else. That being said, if an open relationship sounds like your cup of tea, and you’re looking for some guidance on to navigate one, here are some tips for making it work: 

  • Have an honest conversation about whether or not you’re willing to give this type of relationship a try before getting into one. If both parties agree that they want an open relationship, then make sure they have very clear communication about what it entails and that they don’t mind talking through any issues or feelings of jealousy (which will happen). 
  • Be honest about what you’re feeling toward each other’s partners. For example: Are there any partners that make you uncomfortable or insecure? Or maybe one partner only wants hookups while the other wants more emotional intimacy? This is where having mutual respect comes in handy; if there aren’t any boundaries set between couples then these types of situations can cause tension later on down the line- and potentially even lead to secrecy and mistrust between both parties. 

open relationships guide

How to have a successful open relationship

  • Understand the boundaries and agreements set in the relationship

In order to successfully navigate an open relationship, you must first agree on some fundamental terms: What are your boundaries? How do you define cheating? What is allowed and what is not? Will you participate in regular STI testing? These things are different for every couple, so make sure that you and your partner can agree on them. It’s also important to set agreements related to communication (see below). This way no one feels like they need to keep secrets from their partner. 

  • Be honest with yourself and your partner(s)

Open relationships require honesty at all times; without it, things could get complicated quickly.

  • Communicate clearly– and often!

You’ll need to put effort into keeping lines of communication open as well as respecting boundaries. If this feels difficult at first, know that communication in an open relationship gets easier over time. Something may have been agreed upon during an initial conversation, but you or your partner could change your mind later down the line. So make sure you check back in every now and again about these things when needed. 

It’s not for everyone…

Open relationships can be a great way to enjoy multiple romantic partners, but they’re not for everyone. If you’re considering opening up your relationship, keep in mind that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Open relationships requires a great deal of communication and trust. Open relationships require self-reflection, honesty, mutual respect, and great communication between all parties involved. 

Are you ready to hop in? 

Open relationships do require some adjustment on behalf of both partners if they’re going to work out in the long run. It might be complicated at first, but once you’re in the swing of things it’ll become second nature. 

Looking for new partners? Try SwingTowns to discover open relationship dating partners in your area.

Members of the SwingTowns Community can discuss this article and its implications on the lifestyle community forum. If you’re not a member, you can sign up today and see what you’re missing.


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