The Three Things You Need to Ask Yourself and Your Partner Before Starting an Open Relationship

The Three Things You Need to Ask Yourself and Your Partner Before Starting an Open Relationship

It works for some people (like Below Deck chef Adrian Martin), but there are important steps to take before entering one yourself.

By Marianne Garvey
After Show
Adrian Martin on the Common Misconception About Open Relationships

Below Deck chef Adrian Martin recently revealed on the Below Deck After Show about why an open relationship works for him and his (possibly now ex) partner Felicia. "For me, open relationships resonate better," he said. "I'm a very sensual person, I would say. I like expressing my love, and I don't really want restrictions right now, in that sense. So as long as we're respectful towards each other, we're open about things, then it's working."

The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Shamari DeVoe also used to have an open marriage, but says that's not happening again. "It's not that I have any regrets, but more so, I take it as a lesson learned," she says. "I learned that [my husband and I] are destiny partners and that we will never allow anybody to come between our love bond again. We went through a lot of heartache and pain, but we stayed committed to working it out and were able to overcome our challenges and use our story as our testimony. There may be couples in similar situations that don’t have the courage to share, so I’m willing to take on the burden by sharing my story. Some couples may not be completely honest in their relationship because of fear of being judged by their partner or even losing their partner altogether. So if you’re thinking about trying an open marriage, please don’t do it! Figure out how to get back to what brought the two of you together and speak to each other’s love languages. I’m a strong advocate of communication and honesty in relationships and extremely passionate about families staying together."

While the idea of an open relationship may be different for everyone, relationship expert April Masini tells Personal Space there are a few questions you definitely need to ask yourself and your partner before you explore outside your relationship.

"Here are some questions that couples in an open relationship, or couples who want to get involved or commit to an open relationship, should ask each other to facilitate a dialogue and an understanding about what their open relationship will mean," she says.

1. What's our definition of 'open relationship'?

"Does 'open relationship' mean that we’re sleeping with other people, or just dating without sleeping with other people? This question may sound obvious, but I’ve heard from lots of folks who are in open relationships or are 'on a break' from a relationship, and they each think that taking a break, or being in an open relationship means dating, but not sleeping with, other people. Don’t assume that your ideas about an open relationship are your partner’s ideas about an open relationship. Sex with other people sets people off, and causes drama and trauma. So be clear that having an open relationship means sex with other people — or not," Masini says.

2. What's the timeline for it?

"Is there a timeline on this open part of the relationship? Some people think that an open relationship is a chronic lifestyle. Others think it’s a part of a timeline that comes before or after monogamy. Problems occur when one person thinks that having an open relationship is temporary, and the other thinks it’s the way things will always be. Get clear on what you expect and want, and what your partner expects and wants."

3. What are our boundaries that we need to set?

"Is anyone or thing off limits? Some people are fine with an open relationship — until they find out that their partner is dating their best friend, too. Or their cousin. Or a work colleague. Or their boss. Or their boss’s adult child. Get the picture? While it’s tough and not advisable to micromanage an open relationship or your partner’s social life, you might want to bring this up in conversation, as a potential issue that you don’t want to deal with — and your partner probably doesn’t want to, either."

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