Relationship

What is an open relationship?

Are you thinking about having an open relationship, or are you just curious about what they are? Either way, this article is for you. We'll go over the basics of open relationships, what they entail, and some of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Dating Expert Janet Smith October 3, 2022 • 9 minutes read
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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re at least curious about open relationships. Maybe you’ve been thinking about opening up your current relationship, or maybe you’re just curious about what they’re all about.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we’ll be talking all about open relationships: what they are, how they work, and whether or not they might be right for you. So without further ado, let’s get started!

If you’re looking for information on relationships in general, check out this article. It has everything you need to know about the different types of relationships, attachment styles, and what you can do to make your relationship work.

Defining an open relationship

An open relationship is a non-monogamous relationship where both partners agree to allow each other to have predominantly sexual relationships with other people. In this type of relationship, two people have one romantic core relationship and multiple sexual partners. However, some people also have an emotional attachment to these sexual partners.

Open relationships fall under the umbrella term “consensually non-monogamous relationships”. Consensual non-monogamous relationships are relationships where all parties involved know about and agree to any extra-dyadic relationships.

If you asked yourself if consensual monogamy is also a thing? Yes, it is. Consensual monogamy is where both parties have agreed to be monogamous. If you want to learn more about monogamy and the meaning of a monogamous relationship, take a look at this article: What is a monogamous relationship?

The difference between a polyamorous relationship and an open relationship

It is a common misconception that polyamorous relationships and open relationships are one and the same. There is a key distinction between the two:

Polyamorous relationships involve multiple romantic partners, whereas open relationships do not. Partners in a poly relationship focus on having emotional and supportive relationships with multiple other people.

In an open relationship, both partners are allowed to have other sexual or romantic partners, but the primary partner has priority. As mentioned before, in an open relationship, there is only one romantic core relationship with one core partner. In polyamorous relationships, not all have a primary relationship (but many do).

The benefits of having an open relationship

If you’re thinking about having an open relationship, it’s important to look at the benefits and challenges of these types of relationships. Let’s start with the positive aspects:

1. Increased freedom and flexibility

In an open relationship, you can date or have sexual relationships with other people without having to break up with your partner. This increased freedom and flexibility can be a great way to explore your sexuality and connect with new people.

2. Improved communication

In order to make an open relationship work, you and your partner need to be able to communicate effectively. This can help strengthen your relationship overall. After some time, both partners will have excellent communication.

3. Increased intimacy and connection

Open relationships can actually lead to increased intimacy and connection between partners. This happens because both partners are able to be more open and honest with each other.

4. Increased sexual satisfaction

In open relationships, partners are often more willing to experiment sexually. This can lead to increased sexual satisfaction for both partners.

5. You can free yourself from the expectation of monogamy

Open relationships can be liberating for people who feel trapped by the expectation of monogamy. If you are in a relationship where you are not allowed to explore your sexuality or have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other people, then you are likely feeling stifled. An open relationship can liberate you from those expectations and allow you to be yourself.

The challenges of having an open relationship

There are also some challenges that come with open relationships. These are one of the most common challenges:

1. Jealousy

One of the biggest problems in open relationships is jealousy. It can be difficult to deal with the feeling that your partner is spending time with someone else.

If you have a problem with jealousy, it can be tough to deal with in an open relationship. You should work on dealing with your jealousy before you enter into an open relationship.

2. Communication

Honest communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important in open relationships. If you can’t communicate with your partner, the relationship will likely not work.

Active communication can prevent misunderstandings and help you both feel comfortable with the arrangement. It’s important to be able to communicate openly with your partner about what you are doing and who you are doing it with. If you can’t communicate effectively, your relationship will likely not last.

3. Insecurity

If you are not confident in yourself, it can be hard to deal with the idea that your partner is spending time with someone else. If you feel insecure, it can be hard to trust your partner and feel comfortable with the idea of them being around other people.

If you are not confident in yourself, it may be best to avoid an open relationship. If you can’t deal with your partner being around other people, the relationship will likely not work.

It’s also essential to find the roots of your insecurity and work on them so you can feel better about yourself.

Tips for making your open relationship work

Have you recently started an open relationship and are wondering how to make it work? Making an open relationship work can be tricky, but with the right approach, it can be a great way to build a stronger connection with your partner. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Talk about your expectations for the relationship

Discuss your expectations and boundaries with your partner before you get too deep into the relationship. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings further down the line.

Examples of boundaries could include things like how much time you expect to spend together, whether you’re comfortable with your partner dating other people, and whether you’ll be sexually exclusive or not.

Be honest with each other and be prepared to compromise. If your partner has different expectations than you do, try to find a middle ground that works for both of you.

2. Communicate openly and honestly with each other

Communication is key in any intimate relationship, but it’s especially important in an open relationship. If you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings or experiences with your partner, then an open relationship probably isn’t for you.

Make sure to talk openly and honestly with each other about everything – from your sexual encounters with other people to your feelings about the relationship. This will help ensure that both of you are on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your partner about them. They should be open and willing to listen and help address any issues that come up.

3. Be respectful of each other’s feelings and needs

Make sure you listen to each other and take into account how your actions might affect your partner. If your partner is feeling insecure or neglected, try to make an effort to reassure them that they are important to you.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone is comfortable with the same things. If your partner doesn’t want to participate in certain activities, don’t pressure them. Respect their wishes and find other ways to satisfy your needs.

4. Don’t keep secrets from each other

If you want your open relationship to work, you need to be completely honest with each other. Don’t keep secrets from each other – it will only cause problems in the long run. If you have something on your mind, talk to your partner about it. They should be your confidant, not someone else.

5. Have patience and be willing to work through disagreements

No relationship is perfect, and this definitely applies to open relationships too. If you and your partner are willing to work through any disagreements that may come up, your open relationship will be a lot smoother sailing. However, if one or both of you are not patient or willing to compromise, the relationship is likely doomed from the start.

6. Make time for each other, even when things are tough

It’s inevitable that there will be times when things are tough in your open relationship. Maybe you’re fighting with each other, or maybe one of you is feeling neglected.

No matter what the reason is, it’s important to make time for each other. Sit down and talk things through, and make sure that you’re still taking time to relax and have fun together. You’re a team, and you need to stick together through thick and thin.

FAQs about open relationships

Here are some interesting questions people ask about open relationships – answered!

1. Can an open relationship work with a monogamous partner?

This is a common question – and the answer is, it depends on the couple! Some monogamous partners may be able to open their relationship up, while others may not be interested in that type of arrangement. It’s important to communicate openly with your partner about what you want and need in order to make an open relationship work.

2. Do open marriages work?

Open marriages can work just as well as monogamous marriages. Some couples find that an open marriage works for them, while others do not. It’s important to have clear boundaries and expectations in order to make an open marriage successful.

3. What celebrity couples have an open relationship?

There are many celebrities who are or have been in open relationships – just to name a few, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton and John Byrne, Tom Ford and Richard Buckley. It’s becoming more and more common for couples to explore different types of relationships, and open relationships are one way of doing that.


Although open relationships take a lot of effort and communication, they can be very rewarding. If both partners are honest and communicative, there is no reason why an open relationship cannot work. Open relationships require trust, respect, and consent from all parties involved, so if you think an open relationship might be right for you, talk to your partner about it.


More than two: The best books to help you navigate poly relationships

Polyamory is a big umbrella that encompasses a lot of relationship styles and structures. If you’re curious about polyamory or are currently exploring poly relationships, here is a comprehensive list of some of the best books on polyamory, covering everything from building healthy poly relationships to communicating effectively and jealousy management.

  1. Beyond Monogamy: Polyamory and the Future of Polyqueer Sexualities
  2. The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love
  3. A Few is the New Two: Real Stories of Non-Monogamous Relationships
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Dating Expert

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a freelance writer who writes about psychology, relationships, and dating. She has always been interested in understanding the human brain and how it affects our …

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