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Exploring Open Relationships

Exploring Open Relationships: Defining Them and Finding Your Limits

In the olden days, the story would often go: two consenting adults commit to one another and enter a sexual relationship, pledging their sexual activity will stay between the two of them for a lifetime. Marriage was between two adults and did not involve anyone else sexually. This went hand in hand with the ancient concept that sexual love was only between a cis-man and a cis-woman.

Standards and expectations have adjusted since then, thank goodness. Marriage is legal in all states between two people of the same gender (yay!), and the world of sexual affection and expression has expanded greatly, with new definitions of relationships coming to light. The idea of a flexible relationship has become more popular, and exploring open relationships has subsequently gained traction as well.

What Is an Open Relationship?

An open relationship is defined as a marriage or other committed relationship where one or both partners can engage in agreed upon activities outside of the core relationship. This may be sexual activity with other consenting adults, the opportunity to flirt, make out, have sex, or whatever. While this can increase the attraction between two partners and help keep their relationship healthy and moving forward, many potential hazards can come into play when individuals opt for an open relationship. Therefore, it is a good idea to sit down together and define the open relationship as it applies to your lives. Next, it is a good idea to set ground rules that are not breakable, deal breakers if you will.

Some examples of deal breakers in an open relationship are:

  • Pursuing someone in your circle of friends or who works with one of you
  • Taking or sharing photos or videos of the interaction
  • Spending a significant amount of time with the other person, to the point where the stability of the primary relationship comes into question

Before Exploring Open Relationships, Discuss Details!

Meanwhile, details that are accepted by both you and your partner can increase the odds of success for the relationship, such as:

  • Understanding that if one partner can do something, the other partner is also able to do the same thing, unless otherwise specified
  • Discuss appropriate relationships with friends, since romantic or sexual relationships with them could add complexity
  • Be prepared for jealousy on the part of one or both parties, and discuss the options for mitigating the jealousy when it does arise

Final Considerations When Exploring Open Relationships

Remember, once you are in an open relationship, you are no longer in the “safe zone” with your partner. You are once again dealing with the possibility of sexually transmitted infections, so protection and regular checkups are critical to maintaining sexual health.

If you’d like more information, the book Opening Up has all the details you need, including real-life stories from other couples in various open relationship situations.

Lastly, divorce is a significant statistic, and as a result, some people are opting to add some flexibility to their sex lives in order to keep their relationship intact. This is not always a successful endeavor. In some cases, exploring open relationships is the beginning of the dissolution of your relationship in its entirety. However, in other instances, exploring an open relationship can bring new life to the interaction between you and your partner and help you learn new things about each other.

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Exploring Sex Toys Can Be a Fun Element of Exploring Open Relationships!

Vibrant has an array of body-safe sex toys for every body. Check out our curated collection of toys and books, too! Or, chat with us, and we can help recommend the product that’s perfect for you. We’re available 9am-9pm EST daily on our website chat (just push the purple button at the bottom right!) or call us at 866-316-VIBE(8423).

Vibrant Staff

The Vibrant Staff writers are a group of sex-positive cis women and queer folks employed by Vibrant. Our contributors are passionate about educational advocacy, sexual autonomy and freedom, healthy relationships, and sharing their experiences with you!

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Vibrant Staff

The Vibrant Staff writers are a group of sex-positive cis women and queer folks employed by Vibrant. Our contributors are passionate about educational advocacy, sexual autonomy and freedom, healthy relationships, and sharing their experiences with you!

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