Open relationships have pretty much always been a thing, but it seems like in the past few years, they’ve gotten a lot easier to talk about. Opening up your relationship can be really beneficial and positive — if you and your partner are both into it. You just have to look for the signs that you and your partner could handle an open relationship.
There’s a lot of research to suggest humans were never meant to be monogamous. It’s just that the idea of staying with one partner for life is so ingrained into our culture that we tend to just assume it’s the best format for every couple…but it might not be.
All this is to say that open relationships are a very natural thing.
And “open relationship” doesn’t mean two people who don’t love each other. These relationships can come in all different forms, but usually the two central people in a relationship are pretty clear about the fact that they’re each other’s main squeeze. They’re just allowed to sleep with other people or have emotional relationships outside of their main coupling.
This setup is certainly not for everyone, but here are some signs that you and your partner might be ready for an open relationship.
1If you’re already sharing partners.
If you and your partner are both turned on by the idea of threesomes or swapping partners, you could potentially talk about expanding the degree to which both of you are allowed to explore outside your relationship. Being able to get turned on by watching your partner get turned on means that you might be able to handle knowing that they enjoy other people, too, possibly without you.
2When you’re not really compatible in bed.
You might love your partner, but the sex just isn’t working. It could that your sex drives aren’t in sync, or maybe one of you is bisexual, asexual, or into a kink the other can’t satisfy. If either of you feel like you’re not getting what you need in this department, but you want to stay together, it could be time to sit down and have a conversation about opening things up so that everyone is satisfied.
3You’re very independent.
An open relationship requires two people who are happy to be alone and let someone else live. You need to be confident in yourself and your relationship for a real open relationship to thrive. If both you and your partner can let each other go a little and feel secure, that’s a good sign!
4You’re super not jealous.
Jealousy is a totally normal feeling, and in an open relationship, yes, jealousy happens. It’s just that people in these relationships know how to talk through the jealousy and work together to make sure that it happens as little as possible.
5You have great communication skills.
To have a successful open relationship, you have to be able to communicate with your partner. Before you go into it, have a conversation, set rules and expectations, and be really, really open about all of your feelings. If you both can do this well (or have help from a therapist), you can definitely embark on an open relationship. It’s not just about sleeping around; it’s about talking about why you want to and how it makes you feel — and how it makes you love your partner even more.
6You’re in a long-distance relationship.
Long-distance relationships are so not simple. Sometimes, it might be best to have some rules about what each partner can do while they’re away from each other. Of course, you have to have everything else under control — communication, attachment styles — but it’s a good way to stay satisfied and stay with your S.O.