20 Open Relationship Rules You MUST Know to Give Non-Monogamy a Try

Most people in a romantic relationship are monogamous. But some aren’t. So, if you’re thinking of experimenting, here are some open relationship rules.

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 with the knowledge of the most important open relationship rules than to be 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 and why do so many couples find it to be a better alternative?]

Open relationship rules for beginners

There are no rules written in stone for anything we experience in life. You need to know that everything that’s been “set in stone” has been created for the masses. 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. [Read: 7 steps to discuss the option of an open relationship with your partner]

20 important open relationship rules that matter

If you want to sink your feet into the unique world of open relationships, here are all the rules you need to remember to ensure it’s a smooth and rewarding transition.

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. [Read: Do you ever fantasize about someone else with your partner?]

2. Test the waters first

This is one of the big open relationship rules. Party with your own friends one night, or meet someone on a dating app, and hook up with someone you fancy.

The next morning, talk about your experiences with each other. How do both of you feel in the morning? Is there jealousy or insecurity in the air, or are both of you happy and excited for each other? [Read: Soft swapping and how to ease your partner into the experience]

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. Does the thought of an open relationship excite you both a few minutes after having sex with each other, even after both of you have climaxed? Sometimes, a horny rush makes you believe an open relationship is the answer to your sexual boredom. But if you don’t feel excited by the thought when you’re not horny, that’s something to consider.

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 or sleep buddies who aren’t involved with your life in any way beyond sex. And keep it that way.

Make it seem like you’re 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 status to the world to get back at you at some point in the future.

Or worse, they may try to cozy up or intrude into your relationship in front of your partner, which just makes everything complicated.

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 is sleeping with, always make it seem like an affair. Remember this as one of the most important open relationship rules.

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. [Read: The most important open relationship questions to know if you’re ready for it]

7. Jealousy

This is one of the most difficult open relationship rules. 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: How to deal with jealousy in a relationship and learn to overcome it together]

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 will understand your decision instead.

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: 30 of the sweetest romantic gestures for everyday life]

10. Communicate

Without communicating, you might as well not even have any other open relationship rules. 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 honest and communicate with 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 forever as well. Would you ever want that? [Read: STDs 101 – The most common types and their earliest symptoms]

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? [Read: Does everyone get sexually attracted to someone else – Is it normal?]

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. Don’t forget that this is one of the very important open relationship rules.

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 week or fortnight for a hookup 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]

16. Don’t undermine feelings

Even though an open relationship might sound like a great idea to both of you, it may be something that you’ve never done before. And when something is new, it can be a bit uncomfortable, especially in the beginning.

Because of this, you might have a lot of feelings that you never expected.

You might be nervous, scared, excited, jealous, and confused all at the same time. So, don’t dismiss your feelings or your partners. Talk about them all and work through them. Because if you don’t, then an open relationship won’t work out very well. [Read: How to talk about your feelings in a relationship and grow closer]

17. Reassure your partner of your love for them

This is also one of the most important open relationship rules. Most outsiders would probably say that both of you don’t love each other anymore if you want to sleep with other people. [Read: Three way relationship – what it is and why it isn’t an open invite]

They might question your commitment and not understand why you are having an open relationship if you truly love someone. Heck, one or both of you might even be feeling the same way!

So, it’s important to reassure your partner that you still love them, regardless of who else you are sleeping with. We’re all human, and we don’t like rejection. So, both of you will have to be extra sensitive and show your love to your partner like never before.

18. Have check-in points

Just because you decided to have an open relationship doesn’t mean that it needs to last forever. Maybe in the beginning, it was a lot of fun and you both enjoyed it.

But as time goes on, maybe one or both of you have changed your mind.

That’s why it’s important to have check-in points along the way. You want to make sure that both of you are still on the same page and want to continue with an open relationship. If one of you does, and the other one doesn’t, then you will have a lot of negotiating to do. [Read: The threesome invite – how to ask someone to join you in bed]

19. Explain the situation to other lovers

Listen, you and your partner are not the only ones in on this open relationship situation. Your lovers are too! So, it’s really important to be honest and upfront to everyone else you sleep with. You want to make sure that they are all okay with what is happening.

Think about it. If the situation was reversed, wouldn’t you want to know? Maybe the lovers think you are single or they might fall in love with you. But you are unavailable to have a relationship with the lovers, so they need to know this before you start sleeping with them.

It’s only fair. Maybe they will be fine with it, but maybe they won’t. You have to let them make the best decision for them and not hide it. [Read: First time threesome – my sexy accidental threesome while on holiday]

20. Only continue it if you’re happy

Many times in life, we start doing something that we want to do, but then we change our minds. If you find that you are unhappy with the open relationship situation, then you need to stop doing it. More importantly, both of you need to feel the same way.

If one of you is happy, and the other one isn’t, then maybe it’s time that you go your separate ways. That’s the risk of moving from a monogamous relationship to an open relationship. Sometimes, there is no going back once you’ve taken that path, especially if one of you is happy to sleep around and the other isn’t.

Is an open relationship for you?

You need to remember that a transition from a monogamous to an open relationship is not an easy thing for most people. So, you should only do it if it makes you happy. Not to please your partner, but to please yourself.

And now that you know the most important rules, if you still find yourself thinking twice about the idea, wade into it slowly with your partner and test how you both feel. [Read: Unicorn hunting – How to find a sexual third partner and do it right]

You could either choose a dating app and meet other people as a couple, or give it a try by meeting someone online all by yourself *with your partner’s consent, of course!*.

[Read: Non-monogamy – How to know if you and your partner are ready for it]

If you’ve been contemplating about an open relationship, consider these 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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Sarah Summer
Enjoying life in sunny California, Sarah Summer hates waiting for the perfect moment and instead chooses to take the moment and make it perfect. She has an unab...
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