9 Tips on How to Discuss Opening Up Your Relationship With Your Partner

Maureen McCarthy
June 13, 2022

So you and your partner have been thinking of opening up your relationship?

You are in the right place. In this blog post, we will outline some tips for having that conversation with your partner. 

When it comes to relationships, there are many different dynamics that are effective. There is no set script for success in your relationship. Some couples prefer monogamy and others, non-monogamy. There are many different variations of non-monogamy (i.e., ENM/CNM, polyamory, swinging, open, etc.). Through self-exploration and communicating with your partner(s), you can find the perfect fit for you. Remember, your relationship does not need labels in any form to be valid.

What does an open relationship mean to you?

There's no single answer to this question, as every couple has different boundaries and expectations. Non-monogamy can present as casual, physical, committed, and emotional relationships. You and your partner call the shots and tailor it to your identified needs and wants. Be open and honest with yourself and your partner. It is okay to revisit conversations and seek clarity when needed. 

Your desire to open your relationship is valid and deserves to be respected.

Misconceptions About Non-Monogamy

It is important to understand that there are a lot of misconceptions about non-monogamy. There is nothing “wrong” with the desire to seek exploration outside of your relationship. Start the dialogue and share your thoughts with your partner. Relationships in any form can be very rewarding and also a lot of work. Expect a journey of self-exploration and discovery. Do your research and see what concepts of non-monogamy you connect with.

Be open and honest with yourself and your partners, and be prepared to renegotiate as needed. Opening your relationship is not an effective way to "save" your relationship. Non-monogamy and monogamy are both commitments that require communication. If desired, think about exploring thoughts and feelings with an experienced, licensed therapist.  

How to Discuss Opening a Relationship

If you are interested in exploring non-monogamy, the first step is to talk to your partner about it. Set up a “date” to discuss your relationship and the desire to open it. The most effective conversations occur when all parties have the emotional capacity to actively listen and reply. Give yourself ample time to discuss questions, concerns, and feelings that arise. 

This is not a “one and done” conversation. You can always communicate changes in your preferences. It is okay to check-in and establish clarity, in fact, it is highly recommended for any effective relationship. You both should feel seen and heard within these conversations. Opening up your relationship can be a thrilling experience that leads to personal growth and deeper relationships. 

9 Open Relationship Discussion Points

Here are some suggested talking points and reflective questions to explore  individually and together:

  1. Talk about your reasons for wanting to open up the relationship. Have an honest conversation about the motivations and goals for your relationship. 

    -What do you hope to gain from it?

    -Discuss why you want to explore non-monogamy.

    -What do you want opening your relationship to bring to your life as an individual and as a couple?

    -What kind of non-monogamous relationships do you want to pursue?

    -What are your boundaries around sex and intimacy?
  2. Understand the intention behind this decision.

  3. Discuss any concerns or fears you have about opening the relationship.

  4. Talk about what kind of non-monogamy you're interested in. Do you want to date other people? Have casual hookups? Or are you seeking a committed connection?

  5. Set some ground rules. What kind of boundaries do you need in order to maintain a healthy relationship? What are your deal-breakers? This is a crucial step in making sure everyone involved feels comfortable and safe.

  6. Be honest and transparent.
  7. If you're feeling jealous or insecure, let your partner know. This can happen and it makes sense because you are human. Verbalize any concerns that arise, even if they are difficult to talk about.
  8. Give yourself and your partner the space to share feelings, be heard, and be respected.

  9. Be prepared to renegotiate as needed.

Opening up a relationship can be a big decision, but it doesn't have to be scary! Just make sure to communicate, check-in, and have mutual respect for each other and your relationship. Don’t forget to have plenty of fun along the way!

Happy adventuring! 

Warm Regards,

Maureen McCarthy, LSW

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