Historically, in a conventional relationship, two consenting adults commit to one another and enter a sexual relationship, pledging their sexual activity will stay between the two of them. This meant that marriage was between two adults and did not involve anyone else in a sexual capacity. However, as this was the conventional definition of the past, so also was the concept that sexual love was between a man and a woman.
In today’s society, standards and expectations have adjusted greatly. Marriage is legal in all states between two people of the same gender, and the world of sexual affection and expression has expanded greatly, with new definitions of relationships coming to light.
The idea of a more flexible relationship has become more popular. Therefore, there is more opportunity for open relationships.
Now, the question becomes, what is an open relationship?
An open relationship is defined as a marriage or other committed relationship where it is agreed that one or both partners can engage in something agreed upon 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, there are many potential hazards that can come into play when individuals opt for an open relationship. Therefore, it is a good idea to sit down together and define an 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 could be:
- Pursuing someone in your circle of friends or who works with one of you
- Taking or sharing photographs or videos of the interaction
- Spending a significant amount of time with this other person, to the point where it is questioned who is in a relationship
Meanwhile, there are details that may be accepted by both you and your partner in order to 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 discussed
- Being prepared to discuss the relationship with friends, at least to some extent (to be determined by the two individuals in said open relationship)
- Be prepared for jealousy on the part of one or both parties, and discuss the options for when jealousy does arise.
One last thing to remember is that once you are in an open relationship, you are no longer in the safe zone with your partner. You are once again, as you were while dating, dealing with the possibility of sexually transmitted infections, so protection and regular check-ups are key to maintaining health.
Remember that divorce is a very significant statistic in today’s day and age, 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, opting for an open relationship is a start to the dissolution of your relationship in its entirety. However, there are many cases where an open relationship brings new life to the interaction between you and your partner and helps you to learn new things about each other and re-focus on what is important between the two of you.