rules for open relationships

5 Essential Agreements for Open Relationships

Five Essential Agreements for Open Relationships | Uncommon Love Polyamory Counseling in Portland

After working with nonmonogamous couples for eight years some basic themes become apparent.  

Certain parts of living in an open relationship are more challenging to more people than others. 

While there is no set of "rules" or "agreements" that works for every couple, there are a few I wish more folks talked through before heading into open relationship territory- to help them stay connected when it gets hard. 

And it will get hard- monogamy or not. 

So here are a few agreement recommendations to consider for you and your partner.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt when I feel insecure.

This above all else.  I've seen far too many wonderful people give in to spice, malice, sarcasm, and bitterness when insecurity comes to visit.  And insecurity visits us all (even in monogamy).  

Insecurity likes to help us make up stories.  It tells us negative things about our partner- often based in little fact.  

Instead of letting insecurity run the show, offer your partner the benefit of the doubt.  Try trust first.   

I will learn to take care of my emotional reactivity. I will take time and practice self-care to be at my best.

Insecurity isn't the only emotion who will try to run the show.  Anger, defensiveness, jealousy, anxiety, and lonliness are all kinds of emotions can try to take over when we're reacting to something new and unknown.  

It can help to work with an individual therapist or coach to understand and change the way you react when triggered.  Practicing excellent self-care will also help.  

Take good care of yourself to improve you and your relationship.

I will hold trustworthiness as my top priority and communicate honestly.

Notice when you feel drawn to be dishonest with your partner.  It is an important indicator of the health of your relationship. 

You can't do nonmonogamy ethically without honesty because you can't have consent without honesty.  

If you're not ready to be honest you're not ready for an open relationship.

I will show you kindness, warmth, and empathy when we have a hard time.

You will have hard times.  One or both of you will go through rejection and heartbreak.  One or both of you will face insecurity, jealousy, defensiveness, and abandonment issues as you open your relationship. 

It will be much harder for each of you without the support of the other.  Find ways to communicate with empathy and care even when you're having a hard time on your own.

I will listen to you- even when it is hard.

Even the strongest couples have trouble really listening once in a while.  But for non-mongamous couples staying open to listening can be an added challenge when emotional reactivity is in the air.  

Promise yourself and your partner you will listen- and really practice at it even while things are going well, so you have the skills to listen when it gets hard. 

Gina Senarighi Couples Counseling in Portland

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sex educator and relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationshipsjealousy, LGBTQ issues and infidelity.  

She can help you:

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Click here to download her free guides to strengthen your relationship (monogamous or not).