How do you define an open relationship

Open relationship: experiences, rules, future prospects

Many people can well imagine loving and making happy more than one partner. It is usually more difficult with the opposite idea: sharing your partner with others. Jealousy has many faces, and hardly anyone is blessed with such a stable and balanced sense of self-worth that they are entirely free of it. There is no avoiding the subject of jealousy when laying down rules for an open relationship. Everyone has particularly sensitive areas that must be taken into account when defining what is permitted or tolerable.

The early clear definition of the borders is necessary, but does not guarantee success: experience in the border areas can only be gained in the practical course of the open relationship. And if the experience gained does not feel good and right for both of you, the couple must rethink their open relationship, i.e. the rules and their practical implementation, and change them if necessary.

Just like a conventional two-person relationship, an open relationship goes through various phases and changes over time. It can therefore also happen that a rule no longer fits the current phase of the relationship or a new phase triggers the desire for new rules.

Conflicts in open relationships often result from disagreement about the rules, failure to adhere to agreements or difficulties that have arisen from unforeseen changes in the situation - for example, when a partner falls seriously in love outside the relationship, his jealousy with a certain person is not under control or is now calling into question the initial principles of his partnership.

Below are the most important points that every couple should regulate in their open relationship. There are no special rules for an open relationship, because they basically apply to every partnership. However, in monogamous relationships there are fewer options and clear guidelines, which makes practical implementation much easier than in a polygamous or polyamorous partnership.

1. Clear decisions, clear announcements

The open relationship must not be that: an emergency solution, a plan B, an imposed decision, a double life or a jump start. It is not a license for non-commitment, disloyalty, selfishness and risky infidelities, but a solid relationship with (partly) open borders. How, where, when and for whom the relationship is open, each couple has to determine individually.

The clearer the open relationship rules are, the easier it is to adhere to them. Basic agreement is always a prerequisite: If it is not given on one point, any attempt at regulation remains a lazy compromise that will sooner or later lead to conflicts. And because clarity always requires honesty, this rule could also be: no lies in the agreements - neither emergency nor life lies.

Of course, all “minor characters” outside of the core relationship deserve clear announcements. Anyone who lives in an open relationship should neither hide this nor diminish the importance of their partnership to the outside world. Anyone who deliberately conceals their relationship status in order to improve their chances of flirting and on the partner market does not only damage their reputation in the long term, but also their emotional and love life.

2. Clear commitments

Before the partners can gain experience with the “foreign elements” in an open relationship, they need a cushion of trust that enables them to open the relationship boundaries and to share the partner. Each partner must know exactly what he is for the other - and, if necessary, be able to blindly rely on it.

There are many ways to stimulate an open relationship: written contracts, verbal agreements or simply trusting in love, intuition and context sensitivity. In technical and formal areas, it is advisable to clarify sensitive points such as the housing situation, financing and family planning in advance and to define and sign the relevant agreements in writing.

Of course, this is also no guarantee that the agreements will be adhered to or the success of the agreements. But if you don't just make a clear statement orally, but read it word for word and then sign it with your name, you will think more carefully about your motives, your actions and their possible consequences.

3. Clear demarcation against attacks and disturbances from outside

Polygamy and polyamory differ from the local norm of relationships. Therefore, an open relationship and the experience of being viewed with hostility or skew for it often go hand in hand. The more "serious" the core relationship presents itself to the outside world - for example through having children together, a common household and general consistency - the more suspicious the social and family environment is usually of the underlying open relationship concept.

Here, deliberate demarcation and privatization are usually the best means of pulling the ground off naggers, doubters and nonsenseers and taking the wind out of their sails. Anyone who wants to assess the future prospects of a partnership does not need to disturb their natural course. Time will tell whether the dream of a happy, open relationship will come true and which obstacles have to be removed.

4. The thing about jealousy

In open relationships, the type and degree of jealousy determine the pain thresholds of openness. Some people have no problem with the partner having sex with other people as well. However, you would never forgive him for crying or giving expensive gifts to another person.

In order to regulate an open relationship, the partners must therefore honestly deal with their own jealousy and that of the partner. Which forms of happiness and fulfillment can be sought and experienced outside of the partnership, and which should be a privilege of the partner or only be lived out in the partnership?

Here, too, the following applies: A separation of sex and love is easier to accomplish than the organization (or separate "administration") of two or more comprehensive relationships in which love, inner solidarity, feelings of responsibility and future plans are involved. Despite all the openness, I can only wish my partner luck, which means neither suffering, renunciation nor loss for me.

5. The thing about unplanned feelings and changes

In any open relationship, there can be unpredictable developments and changes in feelings and interests. Then it is important not to be ashamed of these changes and not to suppress them or withhold them from the partner. When the old loses its former meaning, there is always a chance for something new. But the desire for change must not lead a lonely shadow existence, but should be openly expressed and also include curiosity about the thoughts, feelings and suggestions of the partner.

Marriage counseling, partner counseling and couple therapy for people in open relationships

In order to deal constructively with unplanned developments and feelings, to make necessary changes possible together and to prevent unwanted structures and behaviors from creeping in, a couple not only needs their love, but always lively attention, respect and communication. If they come up short, wilt or die out, passion, curiosity, fantasy and trust often disappear from everyday life, leaving less and less time and space for common dreams and plans. As a result, the partners diverge further and further from each other and from their needs - and this has been shown to be a great danger for any type of relationship.

A multitude of ways to live out lust and love in and outside of the relationship also logically entails a multitude of unpredictable risks. This often leads to complicated or chronic conflicts, which the couple feels overwhelmed with resolving. Discussions with an experienced marriage counselor, couples counseling or couples therapy can then help to gain a better overview of the current situation and its background and to feel that you have grown to such an extent that constructive action is possible.

The more numerous, varied and diverse the aspects of a relationship, the more starting points there are - both for conflicts and for solutions. In the context of marriage and partner counseling or couples therapy in an open relationship, the first step is often to identify the possible or best starting points for positive changes. In order to stabilize a problematic relationship, it is often enough to critically question one's own expectations, needs and behaviors and to better coordinate them with those of the partner, the external circumstances and the agreed rules. Sometimes, however, it is also necessary to change the specific circumstances so that the expectations of a relationship concept can be met at all and the joint plans can work out as hoped.

A good marriage counselor measures the quality of a relationship concept neither by its popularity nor by the provability or statistical evaluation of the underlying theories. Rather, the practice of marriage and couple counseling shows very clearly that even extraordinary concepts can work wonderfully in everyday life and in the long term, as long as the external circumstances allow it, the inner basic unity is given and both partners are ready and willing to care for each other and for theirs Engage relationship. If that is the case, the relationship has good future prospects and the couple has the best chances of finding a happy and sustainable solution to their problems - either as a couple or with the support of the marriage counselor or couple therapist.