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Straddling Relationship Boundaries: How to Handle Maintaining an Open Monogamous Relationship

Updated on November 6, 2008
heather92383 profile image

Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 10 years.

Can you keep your love alive if your relationship isn't exclusive?
Can you keep your love alive if your relationship isn't exclusive?
Define the outline of your relationship before opening it to the masses.
Define the outline of your relationship before opening it to the masses.

Are you a swinger or are your feet planted firmly on the ground in your relationship? Believe it or not swingers still exist beyond the freewheeling days of the 1970s. A relationship is only as effective as it's participants and how far they're willing to go to make it work. Love isn't always part of the bargain when sex with multiple partners complicates matters. Discerning love and lust is almost as tenuous as making a clean getaway after a night with a coworker other than your main lover.

What's the difference between an exclusive relationship and an open one? Are the rules the same or different? Can love be strengthened if you're both seeking carnal relations with others and not get attached to them? Depending on the couple involved and their willingness to break the rules. Saving your relationship means having to learn how to sacrifice a deeper level of intimacy every once in a while to keep things interesting. Not every couple can be salvaged by delving into an open relationship. Discuss whether that's better or to simply make a clean break before both of you get burned.

In order to determine whether to have an open relationship, you need to follow some guidelines with your partner to see if it's right for you. Here are five tips to read and follow to see if you can still be in love and free as a bird at the same time. Learn how to make some rules before being exclusively open with your partner. Before reading the five guidelines know the status of your relationship by learning about the five words that indicate whether you have a relationship. This section involves the possible mindset and viewpoint of your partner. Evaluate your partner to see what their interests are before opening any doors you can never close again.

Relationship Partner Word Play

- Love: Ask yourself if you still love your partner. Are your feelings still the same or have they changed? Does your partner ignore you when you enter a room or are their eyes always trained on you? Realize that their affection might wane once in a while. Love always burns brightest at the start of a relationship. Take that into account before allowing your disappointment to sink in. Both of you will be better off for it.

-Commitment: Insure that your partner is invested in your relationship. Look for subtle clues of whether their interests lie elsewhere. If you're willing, you can include your lover's Indiana Jones like tendencies into the relationship. Design your own quest for the holy grail into your relationship. Adventure renews a level of commitment to your partner that has been long ignored. Don't jump into any permanent plans if your partner isn't interested. Ask your partner directly about where they see your relationship heading. Think carefully if their answer isn't a favorable one because one false move ends it permanently.

-Risk: To save your relationship, are you willing to break the rules or the law to do so? You might be willing to jump through fire and ice to make your partner happy, but they might not so willing. Your partner loves you enough to be with you and does everything to show you their feelings today through flowers. What about tomorrow or ten years from now? Picture yourself in a terrifying medical situtation where you need a kidney. Here's the kicker: your partner is the only one who can give you one and they won't. You gave your lover everything they ever wanted and they won't give you this one thing to save your life. Where do you go from there if you can? The answer is nowhere. You can't survive on a rejection like that. An open relationship can only survive if both partners are willing to give as much as they take. Otherwise, forget about the relationship period.

-Interest: Does your partner want to still be in a relationship with you? Are they home enough or always out with their friends? Understand that your partner's possible lack of interest might possibly be more than a wandering eye. Something could be lingering beneath the surface that doesn't involve cheating. Be direct with your partner without sounding needy. Ask if they want to talk about their problems if something is bothering them and stay away when they don't want to talk about it. Too much crowding will smother the relationship before it progresses further.

-Games: This is not about Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders. A relationship doesn't involve some Pictionary shorthand. You're either in sync with your lover or you're not. Figure out whether you and your lover are on the same wavelength. Once you are, examine your relationship closely without sounding too much like Dr. Phil. Use the board games for parties only and not in your relationship because it's just childish.

Your Personal Open Relationship Guidelines

- Face your relationship deficiencies head on. Confront your partner by your intimacy concerns (physically and otherwise). Let your lover know that you're unhappy with them sexually or through their lack of honesty. Have it out with your lover even if the most intense fight of your relationship breaks out. Just let your feelings be known no matter how much it hurts to be direct with your lover. They will either thank you for it or head for the hills. Don't allow for the latter to happen unless that was your intent in the first place. Know when to draw the line when confronting your lover. Don't push them for a confrontation if they aren't ready for it. Gauge their willingness before going too far and decide for yourself where to draw the line.

- Discuss outside options to keep the relationship interesting. Know that no fantasy or impulse is on the table. Avoid encouraging outside playmates to join the party if anyone involved is uncomfortable. Make sure that your partner and your "friend" or "friends" are on board with everything. If anyone isn't willing, stop whatever you're doing right now before things get too dicey. Create a safety net to use in case a problem arises. Before delving into any questionable relationship activity, discuss it with your partner instead jumping head first into something that could burn one or both of you. Be cautiously adventurous in your new "open" relationship.

- Be yourself in your relationship. Never stray too far from who you are to please your partner. It's okay to be open but not so much where you forget your true identity. Know that your partner doesn't always want you to play a role and hide yourself from them. Being part of an open relationship is unlocking all doors in your mind, body and soul. You don't have to be a wanton sex slave to prove you love your partner. Allow yourself to trust your lover intimately before freeing yourselves to outside possibilities. Open relationships only work when both parties are willing to learn the truth and accept it completely. If you can't accept the truth, end the relationship now before you cause anymore damage. Be kind in that aspect.

- Never forget the love. Keep your relationship alive by allotting some time in the day or the week where you and your partner share some alone time. Have a date night once a week to catch up with your lover. Making time for your partner lets them know that you care enough to spend time with them. The only catch-22 about a regularly scheduled date night is when it becomes too routine like an obligatory family dinner you can't get out of. Never keep your date night on the same night and do the same activities because it's too boring. Don't bore yourself stiff. Allow your date night plans to be casual and somewhat spir of the moment. It keeps things interesting when the ordinary gets to be too much. Also tell your partner every so often you love them as a reminder of your feelings. Inform them that they still matter to you despite the chaos of your lives. Those three words go a long way.

- Have fun in your "open" relationship. Always follow the guidelines because once you step out of the bounds of your relationship, it's over. If you spend too much time with others more than your partner, kiss them goodbye. Never stray too far from the relationship. Know your way home by leaving yourself reminders of where your heart truly lies, unless you want to remain lost. In that case, get lost and stay that way.

Ultimately, an open relationship doesn't necessarily mean having to have affairs outside the relationship. It means being completely honest with each other and never keeping secrets, which is the biggest relationship killer. Passionate lies may have the best intentions at the time but are more damaging when they are exposed by someone other than yourself. Tell your partner the truth regardless of how "ugly" it may be. The worst thing that could happen is they break up with you. If that's the only thing that happens, you're golden.

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    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      brave effort, good start, juicy topic.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      9 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Nice hub dear. Thanks for answering my hub request.

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