The most difficult part about an open relationship is establishing the boundaries and then making sure everyone is happy.
The most difficult part about an open relationship is establishing the boundaries and then making sure everyone is happy.

Opening up to more than one partner can be a juggling act

Q How do people successfully do open relationships?

I tried dating two people at once for a week and I thought my brain was going to explode.

I gave up, because I don't really have time for managing two people's feelings.

How do people do this, successfully, without feeling like it's a full-time job?

A It probably feels like a full-time job because of the juggle.

You're right, it takes a lot more effort to manage multiple partners in a relationship than just one.

Those who enjoy open relationships usually aren't balancing schedules with secrets, though, like some who cheat on the sly. So in that sense, it may be less of a balancing act.

However, managing multiple partners is rarely successful unless everyone involved agrees to some basic ground rules.

When assumptions are made, expectations become unmet and people's feelings get hurt.

Open relationships then fail, often very miserably.

It is scientifically proven that we are not wired for monogamy.

This is the case for both men as well as women. That doesn't mean we are wired for polygamy exactly, either.

Having more than one partner at the same time (as opposed to one after another) requires awareness, sensitivity, tact, consideration, great communication, openness, honesty and a host of other skills and attributes.

It takes open-minded people who tend not to become jealous.

And when they do become jealous, as will inevitably happen at least from time to time, they need the ability to handle jealousy sensibly and calmly and openly, rather than bury it or explode about it.

Couples who seek a third partner, or another pair to create an open foursome, need to firstly understand and agree if it is purely a sexual arrangement, or a fully fledged, emotionally involved, committed relationship.

Different ground rules apply in different scenarios.

You cannot have enough attention to detail when you are negotiating and managing an open relationship.

Do you agree on partners? Do you share every partner together or can one have another relationship in addition but separate to you?

Is there a primary relationship or are all partners equal to one another?

Can you or the others date outside the relationship casually?

How will you manage the non-sexual side of things?

Do you all live together?

Where do you all sleep?

In short: yes, it's a juggle, but once it's all worked out and working, it would no longer feel like a full-time job or responsibility.

The most difficult part is in establishing the boundaries and then making sure everyone is happy.

Maintaining that takes some effort, however, just like a monogamous relationship.

If you take anyone for granted, the relationship will sour.

And when one partner is unhappy, the whole relationship and experience for everyone suffers.

Just as in a monogamous relationship, all partners must take care and consideration of their partner's feelings, which should never feel like a job.

If managing two people's feelings is like work to you, rather than a joy or an exhilaration, then this is not for you.

 

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