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Let's Talk About Open Relationships

I often write articles about monogamous relationships; however, not all relationships look or are the same. I have worked with couples looking to add a third party into their sex life and others looking to add a third partner into their relationship. Both very different. In all relationships, whether it’s monogamous, open or polygamous, the key element is communication. Communication and boundaries. Setting up a healthy mix of both, can add a lot of pleasure and happiness to your relationship.

Not everyone is made the same, so, not all relationships are either. Finding the right partner is key to having the relationship you want.

Open relationships aren’t always about not being fulfilled in a marriage or relationship. Sometimes, it’s about adding something more to the relationship. Kind of like, loving apple pie, but adding some ice cream. You can have apple pie alone and be satisfied… but if you and you partner both want to try adding some ice cream for a change of flavour, it’s ok too.

So, what is the difference between an open relationship and a Polygamous relationship? There are many definitions, but for this article I'll keep it simple:

Open Relationship:

Adding a third person into the mix (sexual activities and/or courting). Threesomes or group sex. It doesn't always mean it's sexual, sometimes an open relationship can be seeking companionship or the feeling of "dating" and exploring one's needs and wants.


When one or both partners decide to date or have sexual relations with others outside of the partnership without involving their significant other. Some couples will even engage in separate relationships that don't involve their primary partner (spouse or long term partner is usually the "primary").

Polygamous Relationship:

Is having multiple wives or husbands. Though it doesn't have to be by marriage, in other words, polygamy refers generally to multiple spouses or multiple marriages, not husbands or wives in particular.

This article is focusing on open relationships and some key things to keep in mind when deciding to change your relationship into an open one. Some of these tips can also be brought into Polygamous relationship. Though there are specific “rules” to keep in mind when entering an open relationship, there are no rules that are mandatory. The rules below are to help you and your partner enjoy the experience and make it an enjoyable experience (whether long term or short term). As mentioned, the first and most important piece is communication. Talking with your partner and making sure you are both on the same page of what you are looking to do. What are your expectations and reasons behind having an open relationship? Make sure you’re both prepared and ready for the next steps. Sometimes one person might be more ready than the other, be transparent with your feelings and where you stand and be patient until both parties are ready.

Bringing a

third person into

your relationship:

1. Set rules:

  • Who is the primary communicator with the third person?

  • What is allowed and what is not allowed sexually and emotionally between each of you?

  • Is this short term or long term?

  • How will you “date” the third person and how would you like to seek them out?

2. Schedule intimate time between you and your partner. It’s important to keep both you and your partner as primary.

3. Always be transparent of your feelings. If you start to feel uncomfortable or want to end it, be open and honest with your partner. 4. Don’t bring the 3rd person into your lives. That means, no inviting them to your house events, birthday parties or introducing them to your friends/family. It’s important to keep it separate - especially if this is temporary. If you wanted a Polygamous relationship, then that is a completely different form of relationship.

Be safe. Always be safe. Sexually and mentally.

The common

open relationship

(both parties seek out relationships outside of theirs):

1. Be Prepared. Like mentioned above, it’s important that you both want the same thing and are ready to date or sleep with other people. 2. Set rules. Rules are extremely important for an open relationship to work. Asking the right questions:

  • Is this long term or short term?

  • What should be done if emotions become involved in your outside relationship?

  • What are your priorities in your current relationship that both of you would like to make sure stays the same?

  • Do you and your partner want to share your date stories or sexual adventures with each other?

  • Is this based on geographical boundaries only? Ex: Partner can see other people when they're out of town?

  • Will you be sharing this with your family and friends or is this something between you and your partner only?

3. Don’t just dive in. Go on a date. “Dip your toes” first. See how you and your partner feel about dating other people.

4. Be sexually safe. Will each partner confirm that the person they're getting involved with is STD-free? Is verbal reassurance enough, or do you want to see medical papers? Will each partner use protection when engaging in ALL sexual activity, or just some?

5. Schedule intimate time between you and your partner. It’s important to keep both you and your partner connected and spending quality time together.

6. Always be transparent of your feelings. If you start to feel uncomfortable or want to end it, be open and honest with your partner.

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