Can You Handle Being in an Open Relationship?


If you and your partner have questioned whether or not you should be in an open relationship — I have a few things for you to consider. Humans were made for relationships as they get us to explore who we are and what we want out of life at any given moment in time.  But what are the relationship goals you should strive for in order to make the relationship work, any relationship? The answer to that varies as each relationship looks and functions according to the people involved — meaning, you can create your relationship to look any way you want as long as both parties (or how ever many are involved) are in agreement. But before you go jumping on the open relationship wagon, here are 3 things to keep in mind. 

1. What’s at the core of your current relationship? I have my clients actually identify what’s the point of their being together? If you’re scratching your head — that’s a good sign because it means there’s some work to do. What’s the point of a job? For some people it’s to make money, pay bills, and have a status in the world. For others it’s to help others, make a difference in the world, and live in luxury. See how it’s different for different people? The same goes for relationships — there must be a purpose in the relationship because it’s the root of your foundation and when there’s not, people lose alignment and go on different paths and then can’t figure out why things didn’t work out.

So let’s crack this wide open by identifying 3 things you want to experience out of your relationship– this is your relationship core. We will look into someone’s relationship to make it easier to digest, let’s say couple A wants to experience: romance, love, and compassion while couple B wants to experience adventure, excitement, and fun. You can already see we’re dealing with 2 different ways of being inside that relationship with each couple, right? Which couple do you think would prefer a night at home snuggled up on the couch watching The Notebook on Netflix? Which couple would rather be out jumping off a bridge renewing their vows in some remote forrest with monkeys cheering them on? When you know what’s the relationship core (the purpose of your union) — you can get behind the activities, the actions, and the hype. Identify three that you want to have your relationship revolve around in order to provide it guidance.

2. What are the hesitations to an open relationship? If you say there are none, you’re not being real with one another. I was on a call with a client recently, I’ll call her Kate, who just entered into an open relationship agreement with her boyfriend of one year. She said they both agreed they wanted to explore this and when I asked why — she didn’t have a response except, “We just want to try it!” There’s nothing wrong with that answer, but I think they’re not being honest with one another — this is not switching from Pepsi to Coke, this is having open sexual relationships with other people and it can get chaotic if honesty isn’t a pillar in the communication. I moved on from “the why” and asked something that blew the doors wide open!

“What are your hesitations?” I asked? And then things got real. “I don’t think I can trust him and I’m afraid of loosing him,” she replied. And there it was — there was a “no-trust” agreement on her side of relationship with him. Come to find out, he wasn’t the only one she didn’t trust — she didn’t trust men, period! She was bringing her past into this relationship because trust issues that were never healed. When she got present to this, she discovered that it didn’t matter if they were in a monogamous relationship or an open one — the “no-trust” agreement on her side was going to keep popping its nasty head in the relationship causing continuous problems. She needed to address this and get complete with it to have any type of success in this relationship moving forward.

Had Kate not explored this conversation with me — things could have gone really bad really fast for them. Identifying hesitations can help you achieve success points or it will shine the red flags where things may go sideways for the two of you. Having someone you trust is essential in talking about your hesitations because pushing them aside and hiding them aren’t going to help your relationship goals get accomplished unless your core values are fighting, anger, and no trust which are at the foundation of toxic relationships.

3. Relationship questions: Are you both on the same page? Kate hung up on her call with me and dialed her boyfriend. She was ready to explain her hesitations and bust open her trust issues with him which gets them closer to relationship goals. They have must agree on their relationship core because if he’s thinking one thing (sex, freedom, and fun) and she’s thinking something else (love, romance, and commitment) — there’s anger, chaos, and tears up ahead. A compromise is in order. And for many women, they feel a compromise is giving into his needs and wants and that’s not a compromise, that’s giving in. A compromise is meeting in the middle, your needs and his, don’t get it twisted or confused — it’s that simple.

Carving out time when you both answer relationship questions is key in communicating but also in making sure you are on track when it comes to being inside the relationship core. If there’s fighting or constant arguing happening inside the relationship, pause, asking yourself, “Am I inside the core of my relationship?” Am I being loving, fun, and adventurous? Or am I trapped inside jealousy, no trust, and stuck? And because everything evolves and it’s fluid, including relationships–so do your values/cores, they  can change and evolve just as the relationship does — but you both have to be in agreement.

Once you can work out these 3 things in your two-person relationship, you can start adding a third, until then, get present to the fact that you are in store for some frustrating, sad, and angry times if your core values aren’t identified, you’re not on the same page, and hesitations aren’t discussed.

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