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Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They?

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: April 3, 2019
Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They?

Having an open relationship is an idea that may appeal to many people. The idea of having a non-monogamous relationship may be confusing. If you are thinking of having an open relationship, you may be wondering: What is open relationship dating? What are open relationship rules? How do I have an open relationship? What is the difference between polyamory and an open relationship?

These questions are all completely normal! That’s why here at oneHowTo we’re here to help you! If you want to know more about what is an open relationship, keep reading here.

You may also be interested in: How to Have an Open Relationship
  1. Open relationship dating: meaning
  2. What is an open relationship?
  3. What is an open relationship? Multiple couples / polyfidelity
  4. Open relationship dating: Multiple non-primary relationship
  5. How to ask for an open relationship.
  6. Open relationship facts and advice

Open relationship dating: meaning

The definition of an open relationship is when two people in a couple agree that they want to be together, but also date other people. In general, there are different types of open relationships. The most common in dating the person you love while at the same time having sexual relations with other people.

What is the difference between polyamory and open relationships?

In order to understand what an open relationship is, you also need to understand what it isn’t. Polyamory, one could say, is the acronym of monogamy (being in a relationship with one person). But then, you may ask, are polyamory and open relationships the same thing? No, not quite. The difference between the two is that when you have an open relationship, you only have one ‘‘main’’ primary partner. The other people in an open relationship are generally there for meetups and sexual relations, but are not considered your partner. In a polyamorous relationship, however, you actually desire more than one primary partner, with whom you can also have a deeper connection[1].

Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They? - Open relationship dating: meaning

What is an open relationship?

Primary / secondary relationship model

Open relationship dating can be commonly defined as a primary / secondary relationship model. That is, there is a love-based relationship between two people (primary relationship) and the two members within this couple can have one or several secondary relationships outside of this relationship. The outside relationships do not, however, have the same importance and are not as committed as the primary one.

What is an open relationship? Multiple couples / polyfidelity

This non-monogamous relationship model, also commonly refereed to as polyexclusivity, is a relationship form where all the couples and partners included in the relationship bubble are considered equal. Therefore, everyone is considered as a part of the primary relationship and are valued as equal participants. Generally, in a polyfidelity quad, new members can only be added to this group through unanimous agreement of other partners already within the group.

This Polyfidelity lifestyle originated in the Kerista community of New York City (1956).

Open relationship dating: Multiple non-primary relationship

In the model of multiple non-primary relationships, the concepts of fidelity or commitment are completely eliminated. They have several love-based relationships, but still consider themselves as single people without any commitment. This means that for a person in a non-primary relationship, all possible pairs are equal; none have a greater value than another. Generally, if you have a non-primary partner you to need to be a non-primary partner.

Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They? - Open relationship dating: Multiple non-primary relationship

How to ask for an open relationship.

Asking your partner to be in an open relationship can be quite tricky. In fact, once you have decided which non-monogamous relationship model best suits you, asking your partner will depend on some aspects. Of course, it will depend on who your partner is, are you asking someone new or are you asking an already there partner? Is your partner open to such relationships? Is your partner jealous? This are all points which will factor into how your partner reacts. But, if you want some general tips on how to ask someone for an open relationship, keep reading below:

  • What happens in a relationship depends on a couple. But, whatever you decide, it needs to be a decision based on what you and your partner want, and not on what other people may think. Being in an open relationship can at times be tricky, especially thanks to conventional societal rules. In the end, however, it is your own life and your own relationship and you should approach it how you want to rather than what others expect from you. On the other hand, the person you are dating may not be prepared for this either. That said, the first and fundamental thing you must do is address this idea and speak openly and honestly with your partner. By asking for an open relationship, you need to also be open to the fact that your partner may not agree to this relationship and there is a chance you may risk ending the relationship as a whole.
  • If you do not want to be tied to a person because you do not feel prepared or because you prefer to live more freely, it is advisable to talk with your partner as soon as possible. The more you desire this freedom and the longer you deny yourself the opportunity, the larger the risk is of infidelity. Cheating on your partner will only make the situation worse and could cause the relationship to end badly. We always recommend opting for openness and honesty.
  • Once you’ve told your partner you want to have an open relationship and explained why and how; give them time to think. Due to the way in which society has developed, for many people, a non-monogamous relationship may seem like somewhat of a taboo. Make sure to explain to your partner what being in an open relationship this entails and that you know what you are talking about.
  • There are many people who think that an open relationship is doomed to fail, but the sad truth is that divorce and separation are more common than people may think. So if a non-monogamous relationship is for you, go for it! If in the end it may mean loosing your partner, that’s a risk you will have to take, depending on how bad you want an open relationship.

If your partner agrees to experimenting with your relationship, we recommend taking a look at our article on: How To Have An Open Relationship.

Open relationship facts and advice

Managing a liberal open relationship is not simple and, obviously, not everyone will accept this kind of relationship with open arms. The most important thing is that, if your partner wants an open relationship, examine the reasons why. In the event that one of the two do not want to continue with the relationship, it is best to end it.

In the case that you both agree, it is fundamental to discuss some open relationship rules. Some general rules on how to have a successful open relationship include:

  • Be honest
  • Use protection and get tested regularly
  • Set boundaries
  • Respect each other always
  • Don’t think for each other (min’d your own business)
  • Know the difference between open-relationship and polyamory
  • Be open with your other partners about the fact that you are in an open relationship

If, however, your partner asks for an open relationship, don’t agree if you don’t want one! If you agree to an open relationship simply on the premise that you want to save your relationship, you will end up bearing the brunt.

For more on relationship advice, we recommend taking a look at;

If you want to read similar articles to Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They?, we recommend you visit our Sentimental relationships category.

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Different Types of Open Relationships - What Are They?