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15 Open Relationship Rules for a Better Love Life

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Open relationships may be taboo to many, but if it works for you, here are 15 open relationship rules you can use to have a better love life. By Sarah Summer

open relationship rules

An open relationship is a tricky maze.

It can seem like a lot of fun, but as with anything that seems too good to be true at first, it’s better to be prepared than sorry.

There are many couples who enjoy a perfect open relationship with their own partners.

And they’re happy with their lives.

If you and your partner believe in the logic that sexual infatuation and love are two different emotions, well, an open relationship may work out just fine for you.

[Read: What is an open relationship really?]

Open relationship rules for beginners

There are no rules written in stone for anything we experience.

What works for one person may not work for another.

But through the experiences of other couples who indulge in an open relationship, there are many things we can learn in order to avoid those pitfalls and enjoy those sexual highs.

You should remember that these open relationship rules aren’t created to restrict you.

It’s only a guide to help you enjoy the benefits of an open relationship and yet keep your love life happy.

15 important open relationship rules that matter

#1 Be prepared. When both of you have been in a relationship for a while, the prospect of having sex outside the relationship could seem like a heady rush. But are both of you psychologically ready for it? If you jump into an open relationship when one of you isn’t prepared, your relationship could only lead to a breakup.

#2 Test the waters first. Party with your own friends one night and hook up with someone fancy. The next morning, talk about your experiences with each other. How do both of you feel in the morning? Is there jealous or insecurity in the air, or are both of you happy and excited for each other? [Read: How to kiss a friend and get away with it]

#3 Is it lust or a lifestyle change? Sometimes, it could just be a buildup of sexual lust over the years that may lead to both of you believing that an open relationship is the best choice ahead. But at times, it takes a few anonymous shagathons to realize that you don’t like what you’re doing.

Try this test. Do both of you feel like participating in an open relationship a few minutes after having sex with each other, even after both of you have orgasmed? If you don’t feel enthusiastic about sleeping with someone else when you’re not horny, you just have an imaginative mind that goes haywire only when you’re horny. [Read: How to fantasize about someone else with your partner and satisfy yourself sexually]

#4 Avoid mutual friends. If you’re still convinced that you’re ready for an open relationship, here’s a good rule to start off with. Always try to look for partners who aren’t involved with your life in any way beyond sex. And keep it that way.

Make it seem like you’ve having an affair to the person you’re sleeping with, but let your partner know the real truth. By telling your friend with benefits that your partner knows about the relationship, they may try to get revenge or publicize your open relationship to the world to get back at you at some point in future. The fact that you’re having an open relationship should be a well guarded secret that stays between the two of you. To any other lover either of you are sleeping with, always make it seem like an affair.

#5 Hide the details, don’t hide the people. An open relationship is a delicate balance between love, lust and a lot of trust. By hushing things up, you’ll end up making your partner feel insecure which could damage the trust in the relationship. It’s a sexual agreement between both of you, so don’t ever hide the people you’re involved with.

#6 Have sex, but don’t fall in love. This is hard, but it’s something you always need to remember. An open relationship is not a hall pass to fall in love with other people when you’re already committed in a relationship. Don’t stay over or get cuddly with your buddy. Falling in love with someone else because you’re sexually infatuated by them will only complicate things further. Always remember that it’s sex and nothing but sex.

#7 Jealousy. You may get jealous of your partner, especially if you aren’t getting as much attention as your partner is. Remember, it’s easy for a girl to get attention when she wants it. Most of the time, a guy has to work for the attention. Don’t let jealousy come in the way of this sexual arrangement. [Read: Tips to deal with jealousy in a relationship]

#8 Don’t share your secret with the world. We’re all busy with our own lives. All of us have secrets, big and small. So learn to keep it that way. Telling everyone that you enjoy a perfectly happy open relationship may take the guilt or fear off your shoulders, but it can be embarrassing to both of you if others are not as understanding. Share these secrets only with a few friends who won’t judge you, but understand your decision.

#9 Nothing changes in the relationship. Just because you’re having sex now and then with someone else doesn’t mean your relationship should change overnight. Don’t let it change and don’t let sex get in the way. Work harder to let your partner know that there’s still a lot of love and sexual attraction in the air. [Read: 25 sweet romantic gestures for everyday life]

#10 Communicate. Don’t exchange all the horny details, but be aware of each other’s interests and partners. Tell your partner about all the people you’re sleeping with, and your partner should do the same. And if some sexual partner of your partner bothers you, voice your thoughts. Be frank and communicate to each other if you want to enjoy this happy sexual arrangement with no hitches.

#11 Stay protected outside romance. Get checked for any sexual diseases now and then to reassure your partner. Always use protection and avoid lovers who may have a very amorous and sexual past. If you go wrong somewhere, your mistakes could affect your partner’s life. Would you ever want that?

#12 Set clear boundaries. Define the things that bother you and the things that don’t. So what’s cheating and what’s not in an open relationship according to you?  What’s allowed and what’s not? Talk frankly with each other and discuss every detail until both of you are satisfied with each other’s answers.

And while setting boundaries, always respect yourself and your partner. Just because you’re sleeping with someone else doesn’t mean you’re a bad or immoral person. You’re just being truthful to yourself and your partner about the fact that you do get sexually attracted to other people. And quite frankly, don’t we all?

#13 Don’t bring a lover home under any circumstance. This is an absolute no-no. Your partner may know you’re sleeping with others, but bringing the other person into your own home can destabilize the fragile balance. Your home is your love nest, where nothing comes in between both of you, well, unless you’re bringing another couple to bed! [Read: The guide to start swinging with your partner]

#14 Your partner gets first preference. No matter what, always give your partner the first preference over any plans or events you may have with your other lovers. Always plan ahead and let your partner know about it so your partner doesn’t start to feel like a second fiddle while trying to get your attention.

#15 Set a time frame. There are two time frames to think about here. Firstly, how often are either of you allowed to meet and interact with other sexual interests? For some, once a month may seem like too much, while for others, meeting another lover once a fortnight may seem perfect. Choose what works for you, and always have enough time to be with each other so both of you can live like a perfect couple with no distractions. [Read: Things to know when your partner has sex with someone else]

Secondly, how long do both of you want to enjoy an open relationship? Have a plan or an understanding to go back to monogamy if the open relationship isn’t working out to your expectations. [Read: Top 50 kinky ideas to keep sex exciting]

If you’ve been contemplating about an open relationship, consider these 15 open relationship rules seriously. They really can be the difference between a happy open relationship and a failing and confused romance.


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Have your say!
  • mandi
    February 6, 2013 | Permalink |

    I thought the bit about pretending ur having an affair sucked. Shouldn’t everybody be aware of what is happening. Therfore they can make an informed decision

  • February 10, 2013 | Permalink |

    I was raised in an open relatinship, so that is all I know. It can be hard going from living around that type of lifestyle to a monogomous relationship. It is like two people from different cultures marrying and they know almost nothing about the other.

  • Amelia
    March 21, 2013 | Permalink |

    I agree with the first comment. The whole “pretend it is an affair” thing is awful to the other person involved who is, after all, a PERSON. Just because its sex doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings too. I believe the only way to have an open relationship is to be honest and clear with EVERYONE involved.

  • Sally
    April 4, 2013 | Permalink |

    I agree with Mandi and Amelia I too thought the suggestion to make it look like an affair was pretty stupid and disrespectful too.

    In my earlier 20′s I was seeing a girl who had a partner, everyone involved was honest, everyone involved knew about it and there weren’t any problems whatsoever, I personally think it’s best for the person whose in an open relationship to let the f*ck buddy (technically that’s all they are) know that they’re in an open relationship and that f*ck buddy has every right to know that so they can decide whether or not they want to start or continue participating in that “f*ck buddy” type relationship knowing that the person they’re sleeping has a partner (who knows about it) at home.

    I do agree with rule 13, I too don’t think someone in an open relationship should bring any f*ck buddies to the home as it would highly inappropriate and disrespectful to that person’s partner (and children if they have them) and the f*ck buddy has no right to be there anyway, there are other places to engage in these activities.

    I also agree with being very selective of the type of f*ck buddies you choose and a lot of things have to be looked at such as sexual past, history of STI’s and even their mental and emotionally stability, you don’t want someone with genital herpes whose also needy and demanding because that could cause a myriad of problems within the existing committed relationship.

    I really think people really need to look at the pros and cons of these types of relationships before they decide to be in one.

  • Daniel
    May 12, 2013 | Permalink |

    My fiance’ and I are about to bring a guy into our life. I’m the one who met him first. She has started texting him and we all three met for drinks last Thursday night. When we got home, she told me instead of me watching both of them the first time, she wanted to be alone with him at first. It has really created a spark in our sex life, even though I don’t feel as though we really needed it.

  • Brandon
    June 14, 2013 | Permalink |

    Dude ppl say an open relationship is immature and running away from urself when really its accepting u and who u really r instead of suppressing it and cheating. Its emotionally more mature really cause u understand meanigless sex is just that meaningless… My opinion anyway :)

  • Tim
    July 26, 2013 | Permalink |

    My girlfriend of 2 years and I recently discussed and decided to open our relationship. While talking about it, we decided on some basic ground rules. They match this list almost perfectly. Major difference is that neither of us will live a lie and keep our other partners in the dark about the fact that we are already in a commited and loving relationship with eachother. That would be cruel to our partners. After opening our relationship, we have both noticed an increased desire for intimacy with eacother, and our sex life has never been better. I think its because it has broken up the stagnancy of our relationship, and created some excitement in our lives. Next step for us is to perhaps engage in a threesome. Plenty to discuss in the meantime.

  • Prudence
    July 27, 2013 | Permalink |

    For me, the appeal of an open relationship is the honesty it creates. This list even talks about how important communication, honesty, and trust are. They are crucial in an open relationship. I could never condone lying to the other people we are involved with. That’s terrible advice.

  • Peter Schinkel
    August 23, 2013 | Permalink |

    I am a gay man in an open relationship of 4 years. I meet a couple of different guys about once a fortnight. We go all the way, so to speak.
    My partner has less sex drive over the last year. He meets another guy also about once a fortnight. They don’t go all the way.
    My real point is that I now realise that my sex life is more enjoyable outside my relationship, because my partner and I rarely go “all the way”, even though I have expressed I want to more often.
    Our love, fortunately, is very strong and beautiful, which seems will bind us together for life.
    Anyone’s thoughts on how to improve our love life at home will be appreciated :-)

  • Colleen
    December 10, 2013 | Permalink |

    I agree with these rules except for treating it as an affair. I wish my significant other and I had discussed this a little better before we started. We have broken half of these rules and sometimes I secretly resent him over it and that’s not healthy, but we communicate so much and I can only hope that it will get better in time.

  • Ruby
    May 4, 2014 | Permalink |

    Morning All, I am very new into an open relationship. My partner went out last night on his list encounter. I have mixed feelings right now. I spoke with some folks last night it was fun but still hard to deal with. Any advice. and no he is not home yet.

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