The Ins and Outs of Open Relationships

We chatted with a relationship expert about different types of relationships, so you can decide what works best for you.

With the divorce rate in Canada being 37.9 per cent in 2002, young people have been looking outside the monogamous relationship structure to find happiness in their relationships and marriages recently. The variety of relationship models are endless but experimenting involves strong communication and both partners need to be in favour of opening the relationship.

¶Opening a relationship once it’s already been established is a monumental task. The couple should sit down and have a talk about ‘ground rules,’ as well as both parties must accept that their relationship will never be the same again,³ says relationship counsellor, Kimberly Moffit.

If you and your partner are considering opening your relationship Moffit suggests having an honest discussion about expectations, jealousy and potential outcomes before deciding on a relationship structure. Examine what you both will need to be happy within your relationship and talk about the risks associated with being open.

Samantha Fraser is a Toronto-based life/relationship coach and blogger who has been in an open relationship for four years. She says being open has helped her regain her individuality and confidence  and has made her relationship stronger by communicating more and working together as a team to resolve issues. Although she admits that being open is a learning process and they have had to struggle through bad fights and hurt feelings to get to the place they are today, it doesn’t happen over night.

Here are some of potential relationship structures (but keep in mind there is plenty of room for experimentation to see what works best for your relationship):

Swinging: sexual relationships without love OR with love within a group of friends. Swingers generally don’t feel that sex should be limited to people you have an emotional attachment to.

Polyfidelity: multiple relationships with a defined group of people, not extending out of that group. Group monogamy, in a way.

Polyamory: literally meaning ¶multiple loves³.

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary partners: multiple partners with a hierarchy in place

Multiple marriages

Friends with benefits

BDSM non-monogamy: bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in a non-monogamy structure

Some of the key ingredients to making an open relationship work is honest communication (say exactly what you mean), accepting your differences and working with them and working together as a team. Feeling jealous is inevitable but Fraser says jealousy is usually a sign that you need something your partner isn’t providing.

¶We really try to focus on making sure the other person is taken care of. That we know how important we are to one another and that we do the little things like send a text message when we say we will, or come home when we say we will,³ she says.

Essentially open relationships aren’t about ¶right³ or ¶wrong³ or ¶cheating³ on your partner (which denotes a sense a distrust and lying to the other person), it’s about making a lifestyle choice that is balanced and makes you happy.    

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Tags: 1200, Dating, open relationships, Relationships, trusting your boyfriend

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