“I recently started dating someone. It’s my first open relationship and I’m still sort of learning the ropes. Other than ensuring clear communication continues between us, what is some other advice you can give to foster & maintain a healthy open relationship? I often look at your previous post about open relationships for inspiration and to boost my confidence as I navigate this uncharted territory.”
Check in with each other. This is part of the clear communication bit, but it deserves to be highlighted. Make sure that you are taking time every day to reinforce your relationship with each other, even if it’s only a few minutes. Be present with each other, create and maintain eye contact, and just be with each other.
Meet your partner’s needs. Don’t assume because your partner has other opportunities for sexual or emotional gratification that you are not required to meet your partner’s needs. You are supposed to be there for them, and vice versa. Otherwise you’re just fuck buddies. (Note: If it is impossible for you to meet a specific need, don’t try. Tell your partner that you are unable to provide for that specific need, and why, and then meet all their other needs.)
Just because you are allowed to sleep with other people, does not mean that you should sleep with every other person who shows an interest. You’re not single, you’re in a relationship, make sure you remember that, and put your partner high on your priority list.
Make rules, and follow the rules you make. Many people operate under the assumption that an open relationship has no rules, and that’s just not the case. I would argue that following the rules of your open relationship is more important to the relationship than following the rules of your closed relationship, but only slightly so. I think that it’s important to follow the rules of any relationship you’re in, but if it’s your only relationship, or your partner’s only relationship, there’s more incentive (albeit misguided) to stay with a person who’s a liar. It’s more work to start over than it is to forgive, or move past the transgression. In an open relationship, the partners see a world of possibilities and are constantly starting new relationships (be they sexual, romantic, emotional, mental, or a combination of all of the above) so there’s less pressure on any one to be the one, and liars and cheats are easier dismissed from the mix.
Treat all of your partners like they are unique and wonderful human beings. No person on this earth exists to be your dildo or your sperm receptacle. Even if that’s the role they play in your relationship; playing that role for you is a wonderful, unique gift that a human being has given you. Cherish that gift the way you expect your gifts to be cherished. I don’t care if he’s a trick you picked up at the bar, she’s a lady you met at the bus stop, or they’re a couple who has been good friends with your partner since college. All of us are human, and deserve to be treated with all the respect and love that comes with that title. If you wouldn’t want someone to treat your mom that way, don’t treat them that way.Have fun! I don’t care if you are in a monogamous relationship, or a boundary-free, free-love, fluid-bonded commune. If you are not having fun in your relationship, if the bad times outweigh the good, if you are unhappy more than you’re happy then you are doing yourself, you partner(s), your future partners, and your partner’s future partners all a disservice. Make the choice to be happy in your life, even if it means ending an unhappy relationship. Please note, I am not suggesting you bail at the first sign of trouble, I am merely saying that if your relationship is two months old and you’ve spent a month and a half fighting, perhaps this relationship is wrong for you. Move on and put everyone in the relationship out of their misery.