Navigating an open relationship

Disclaimer: This advice is meant to be helpful and informative, but it should not be taken as professional advice. Max is not an expert in any field; if you need further assistance, please refer to CSUMB campus resources. Submissions for Ask Max can be sent in here.

“Navigating an open relationship / polyamory so my bisexual partner can experience being with someone of the same sex”. 

This could be a sticky situation depending on how you feel about your partner being with other people, especially if one person is polyamorous and the other is not. If you are both committed to communicating openly and honestly, it will be much easier to find a relationship dynamic that everyone is comfortable in. 

Establishing boundaries as soon as possible will create a healthy foundation for your relationship so you can both feel secure while they explore. Some things I would clarify with myself would be: “does my partner want to form emotional connections with their other partners, or is it purely physical? How much do I want to know about the other people they’re seeing? How would I feel if they wanted to frequently see other people?” 

Not only will these conversations help you understand each other’s needs, but they also make you feel more secure as you begin to navigate polyamory. It’s OK to have certain boundaries you don’t want to cross, but relationships require compromise – especially open relationships. 

In some open relationships, the person who is exploring will tell their partner who they’re with, and in others, they have a “don’t ask don’t tell policy.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be one way or the other, as long as you can agree on what feels right in the moment. Feelings can change with time, so I would suggest having regular check-ins with your partner to avoid built up resentment. Open relationships can cause insecurities to run wild, so it’s important for both partners to feel safe expressing their needs, especially if someone needs reassurance. 

Sometimes we can’t control our emotions even if we don’t like what we’re feeling. If you find yourself getting jealous, opening up in a way that is respectful to all parties involved can strengthen your relationship, or help you identify the root of the issue at the very least. If you feel the need to confront something, express yourself in a non-defensive way so your partner won’t feel like they’re being attacked. 

I wish you two (or three) the best of luck, and I hope that both you and your partner feel safe and loved while you explore. 


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