Eight expert tips for making an open relationship work

Considering giving an open relationship a go?

Once you’ve defined your rules and had plenty of open, honest conversations, it’s time to dive in.

But how do you make an open relationship succeed, rather than it joining the massive pile of tales about failed couplings?

Oloni, a sexpert working with Lovehoney, has shared her top eight tips.

‘A truly open relationship is when both of you are free to be intimate with whoever you want, whenever you want,’ she notes. ‘But most couples set a few ground rules specific to their situation.

‘If you’re highly sexed, not in the slightest bit possessive and enjoy multiple partners, this is probably both your idea of sexual heaven.

‘It’s usually chosen by couples with high libidos and open minds and worth giving a try if it truly is what both of you want.

‘But open relationships are never easy and jealousy often creeps in. It tends to work best if you’re young and not ready to settle down or not particularly attached to your partner but, even then, there are all sorts of issues. Even if you’re not possessive of each other’s bodies, most people are possessive over feelings.

‘Quite apart from moral issues, it’s hard enough making one relationship work let alone a relationship where you both see others so be very careful if you are thinking of trying a polyamorous relationship (having more than one partner). Even if it is only for sex.’

Here are her top tips:

Follow the rule of one

Oloni suggests: ‘A sensible step might be that you are only allowed to sleep with others once, with no repeat performances that might allow feelings to develop.;

Set clear sexual boundaries

Open doesn’t mean a free-for-all.

‘Set clear sexual boundaries – you both need to clear about what is and what is not acceptable,’ Oloni says. ‘Agree on what types of sex are okay and what you consider to be out of bounds.

‘For instance, are you allowed to explore things like BDSM (bondage, discipline and sado-masochism) if they are not part of your sexual routine?’

Don’t have sex with friends

This is another way to avoid jealousy and complications.

Rule out any friends – especially mutual friends or colleagues.

‘Stick to sex with strangers,’ Oloni says. ‘It is also advisable to only allow outside partners whose other half is happy with the arrangement. You want everyone on the same page before you proceed.’

Safe sex is essential

When you’re opening up your relationship to other parties, sexual health needs to be your top priority,

Olovi says: ‘Condoms are a must but you need to talk about whether potential new partners are screened for STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

‘When you increase the number of people in your sexual circle, there is obviously a heightened risk of STIs.’

Establish emotional boundaries

Navigating the emotions involved in opening up your relationship is a big process.

Oloni shares: ‘Emotional boundaries are important, too – you both need to decide whether the hook-ups are purely sex or is an emotional connection permissible. For instance, can you go on a date with a new partner before the sex itself?’

Have monthly check-ins

Make sure that both partners are able to openly chat about how they’re handling the relationship. Is it still working for you both? Are there any tweaks you want to make?

Don’t use an open relationship as a magic fix

If your relationship has deep issues, taking it open won’t resolve them – trust us.

‘It’s not a sticking plaster for your current troubles – don’t start an open relationship to solve the problems in your current relationship,’ Oloni says. ‘Those problems won’t go away and will in fact be exacerbated by introducing third parties into the mix.’

Do it for the right reasons

Oloni says: Some people are never going to be happy in a monogamous relationship.

‘If you both find monogamy routine then an open relationship can be a healthy way to explore new boundaries.’

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