Should I have an open relationship? Tips from a marriage counselor in Long Beach

Should I have an open relationship? (pros and cons of open relationships)

People who steer clear of long-term relationships tend to do so because they feel that they are giving up their freedom. For those folks, the perfect relationship would be one where their freedoms don’t have to be given up. Simply put, an open long-term relationship where each party is allowed to see other people is an option that is considered by couples who enjoy being together, but who like to have a little escape with no repercussions. There are certainly circumstances where open relationships work, usually when trust is in place, but there are also times when they do not. The question is, will an open relationship work for you and your partner?

When people think of open relationships, they tend to think that it is done for purely sexual reasons. This is not always the case. Sometimes people like to experience “newness” again (and again and again).

Some open relationships require that you tell the person you are about to be with outside of the relationship about your agreement. This can be a bit of a turn off to some, especially those who are looking for something long term.  To other people, it can be really refreshing.

Even when the outside relationships do turn sexual, there are things to consider that you may not have thought of. Sex without intimacy can seem very unfulfilling when you have become accustomed to the closeness of being with a partner you truly care for. On the other hand, having sex without intimacy might seem refreshing to some. There is also the possibility of STD’s and accidental pregnancy to think about. This again comes back to the trust issue, as it may be assumed by your partner that you are taking the proper steps to protect yourself and them. You may also be surprised to discover that you experience feelings of guilt when being with someone else, or that you get jealous when you know your partner is spending time with someone else.

It is not always a fear of commitment or loss of freedom that drives people to seek out an open relationship. Some do so because they aren’t satisfied with their current relationship and they fear the pain that comes with a broken heart. Very few people go through life without experiencing a break-up, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. You can learn valuable relationship lessons when break-ups occur, all of which help you prepare for your next relationship. Those learning opportunities you get from break up can’t come if are holding on to a relationship that is not working.

There is no right answer to the question of whether you and your partner should have an open relationship or not. There are a lot of things to consider and figure out before making a decision of that magnitude, and a couple’s therapist can help you both decide what to do by giving you a clearer insight into the pros and cons of an open relationship.

Things to ask each other:

  1. Why do I want an open relationship (more sex, more newness, etc.)?
  2. How often would I want to be with someone else sexually (daily, weekly, monthly)?
  3. Am I wanting an open relationship because something is missing from my relationship?
  4. Would I want to be with a man, woman, both?
  5. Can it be with someone we know (a friend, a co-worker)?
  6. Can a date happen in the home?
  7. Can sex with another person take place in your mutual bed?
  8. How many times can you go on a date or have sex with the same person? For example, what if you start dating someone else for weeks or months.
  9. Is using protection a requirement?
  10. Lastly, it is an important question to ask: HOW SOLID IS MY RELATIONSHIP NOW? If your relationship isn’t solid, you should really think about waiting until you both feel a solid connection before thinking about opening up your relationship.  An open relationship can create a lot of happiness and freedom when the situation is right, but it can also take you down a very painful road if the connection isn’t there from the start and you are simply afraid to break up with your current partner.



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