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No, You Should Not Open Up Your Relationship


Old couple walking away
Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

I love reading relationship-related discussions on forums! Especially open relationships. Not only is there a wealth of popcorn-worthy dramas unfolding (r/polyamory, anyone?), but these discussions inspire me to reflect and see my life’s dramas in a new light.


Quite often, I come across advice-seeking posts along the lines of “Should I open up our relationship?” — this post here, this one, and this one, for example. I am always surprised that people ask strangers about that. The person you should be consulting with about this decision is your partner, not a bunch of strangers on Reddit. And if you can’t discuss it with your partner and prefer to seek advice on forums, then the answer is — no, you should not open up your relationship.


You see, for any kind of ethical, open relationship to work, there is one non-negotiable prerequisite. It’s the ability to openly and honestly communicate with your partner about anything that worries you. If you don’t have that, there is a ninety-nine percent chance that your relationship is doomed. Honesty and open communication help traditional monogamous relationships, too, but it’s absolutely critical in open relationships. So the minute you start thinking about opening up — don’t go to the forums; go to your partner and bring it up with them.


Don’t get me wrong — getting advice and opinions on your situation from those who have been there can be very helpful. I’m talking about relying on strangers to help you make very personal decisions. Such as whether or not to open up a relationship. When considering opening up, I studied the literature, researched the chances of success evaluated by scientists, and brought it up in therapy. Still, the conversations with my partner were ultimately where that decision was made.


No one else except you and your partner knows what your relationship is like. They don’t know your traumas, triggers, and history, and they don’t have the context to give you well-informed advice. I wish somebody could! It would make things so much easier — you come to the forum, publish a “Should we open up our relationship” post, and in a matter of seconds, someone responds with a clear “yes” or “no,” and you proceed to do just that and never regret this choice. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.


Often, the advice you get in these forums contradicts itself and gets you even more confused than before you asked for it in the first place. If you can’t resist asking, there is a way to make it more helpful — read the responses together with your partner and discuss. It might ignite meaningful conversation and bring things up that the two of you haven’t thought of before.


At the end of the day, the decision whether to open up is yours and your partner’s. Only the two of you know what it could be like for the two of you and if you are ready. There are some characteristics that I’ve seen in long-term successful open relationships. But even if you follow all the advice to a tee, you still can’t predict how it will unfold, and things can go orthogonally to what you expected.


 





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Polyamory (Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", Latin amor, "love") is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.

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