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One-sided open relationships: What to expect and how to make it work

Open relationships generally involve two people deciding to see other people, while still seeing each other.

It’s complicated, but not impossible.

Open relationships are happening right under your nose and you might not even realize it.

Couples don’t always tell family or friends what they are doing, but it is happening.

In fact, around 4 percent to 9 percent of American adults report being engaged in some sort of open relationship.

But what if one person wants to be in an open relationship, but the other doesn’t?

Should the plan move forward for the person who wants to explore their options?

Open relationships come about for many reasons, but how does it impact the person left behind?

Below, we’ll explore if it’s possible for someone to be in a one-sided open relationship while their partner remains monogamous.

But first, if you’re in an open marriage, you need to work on keeping your marriage healthy. A marriage can quickly fall apart when couples lose their connection. Brad Browning is a popular relationship expert and in his latest video reveals the 3 most common “marriage killing” mistakes couples make. Watch the free video here.

What are one-sided open relationships?

One-sided relationships involve one partner dating other people while the other partner remains monogamous.

This is different from an open relationship where both partners are seeing other people.

One-sided relationships require a lot of honesty and communication, particularly from the partner who is seeing other people.

The most important rule for one-sided relationships to work is that the partner who is seeing other people informs their partner in detail about their other relationships.

If the monogamous partner has reservations or they aren’t fully on board with it, then it most likely won’t work.

What’s the point of a one-sided open relationship?

Generally, people decide to enter into a one-sided relationship because one partner believes that it will bring them more pleasure, joy, love, satisfaction, orgasms, and excitement, while the other partner is happy for them to seek out these experiences.

Some reasons for why a couple might choose a one-sided open relationship:

– One partner believes they have more love to give and can love more one person at once
– The monogamous partner understands the benefits for their partner to see other people, and believes that it won’t affect the love they have for each other.
– You and your partner have mismatched libidos.
– One partner is asexual and not interested in sex, and the other would like more sex.
– Seeing or hearing your partner discuss having sex with someone else turns you on, or vice versa.

If you’re thinking about heading into a one-sided open relationship, then there are several things you need to consider.

Here are 6 important things to consider about one-sided open relationships:

1. If both partners aren’t fully on board with a one-sided open relationship then it won’t work

Here’s the thing: if your partner wants to have an open relationship and you don’t, there’s a bigger problem going on under the surface.

You might be heartbroken at the thought of your partner being with someone and then coming home to you as if nothing happened.

But you might also be worried about being alone.

For a lot of reasons, people choose to stay with their partners who want open relationships, even if they don’t.

Some people might want to be supportive. Some people might want to explore the strength of their relationship.

Some others might want to give themselves some space. Whatever the reason, someone is bound to get hurt if you don’t have rules in place.

2. You need to have high “jealously tolerance”

According to Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen, “jealously tolerance” is a big factor when it comes to one-sided open relationships.

If you’re the person remaining true to the relationship while your partner explores an open relationship, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of feelings of jealously.

That’s obvious. There won’t any way around this. How can you sit at home while your partner is out on a date?

For some, it might be very difficult, while other people are totally chill with it. You need to figure out what type of person you are.

Some ground rules might need to be established to help you manage this.

3. There needs to be an honest conversation for an open relationship to work

But before you explore setting up rules, you need to have an honest conversation with your partner about why your partner wants an open relationship and whether or not it’s worth it.

Is it worth it to put your relationship through this hardship just so one person will be happier?

What’s missing?

You’re going to deal with a lot of feelings of inadequacy and disappointment.

You might decide that you don’t want to know what goes on during these dates or who your partner is spending time with.

You’ll need to have an awkward conversation about protection and safe sex

You’ll have to deal with the thoughts about your relationship falling apart or feeling left behind. It’s a lot to deal with, especially if you feel alone right now.

4. If a partner feels pushed into it, then it won’t work

It can be devastating to hear your partner wants to have an open relationship.

But because you’re so desperate to keep the relationship working, pressure forces you to give into their demands.

You might decide to try it for a while, but you may come to decide that this is not how you want to live your life.

You’ll need to talk to your partner about what happens if you don’t want to do this.

If you feel pressured to do this, and you don’t feel like you have any say in the matter, it might be time for a bigger conversation with yourself about leaving the relationship.

If you feel stuck or afraid of leaving, you could talk to a friend or family member about how to get help to get on your feet and start over.

Not every open relationship ends in disaster, but if you’re the one sitting home while your partner is off having the time of their life, it just might.

5. One-sided relationships aren’t doomed for failure

It’s important to realize that one-sided open relationships can work.

Often, the ones that do work involve a unique situation where one partner is asexual, so the other needs to go elsewhere to get as much sex as they want.

Or maybe one partner has particular sex interests that the other one doesn’t have.

Or sometimes, one person is attracted to more than one gender and wants to try out relationships with people of a different gender than their partner.

As we mentioned above, the key really is that the one who is not seeing people doesn’t easily get jealous.

The partner who is allowed to see other people has to provide excellent honesty and communication.

Furthermore, it helps if the monogamous partner isn’t fully dependent on their partner for their fulfillment in life.

6. Open, honest communication is paramount

One other thing to consider is suggesting that you and your partner go to couples or marriage counseling to work on your own relationship.

You can talk about this arrangement with your therapist or counselor and try to make some sense of what you want and what’s best for you and the relationship.

Your partner might think this is a great idea and will be a lot of fun. They might try to convince you that it will make them a better partner or that they need this right now.

But at the end of the day, you get to decide to move forward with this or not. And you get to decide you don’t want any part of it even after it goes forward.

You’ve got a lot of decisions to make. It’s not impossible to do this if you are both on board.

But getting both of you on board with one partner openly dating other people is not easy. You need to come to the decision on your own.

Make the decision that feels good to you. And then feel it out. You might change your mind. And you can. Either way.

If you’ve decided to give an open relationship a shot, then it’s imperative that you set some ground rules.

Open relationships are doomed to fail when both partners don’t agree on what an open relationship actually means.

Below we go over 8 essential rules to follow for an open relationship to work.

Thinking About an Open Relationship? Follow These 8 Rules to Avoid Heartbreak

For whatever reason you’ve decided to have an open relationship, the most important thing is to protect the integrity of the relationship you are in.

Regardless of what happens when you start dating other people, your goal is probably to try to make this relationship work first.

Talk about these eight rules with your partner if you want to avoid heartbreak and messy complications related to an open relationship.

But before you do that, remember this one rule: you get to decide for yourselves what will work for you. It’s your relationship. Nobody gets to say how you should do this.

1. You can’t lie about who you’re seeing and when.

Deciding to have an open relationship is undermined by lying.

If you’ve decided to embark on this journey together, you might want to have a rule about whether or not you’ll tell each other about who you are dating.

If you are sharing this information, make sure you don’t lie. Things will be tough and awkward for a while and lying just make that worse.

2. You can’t hurt your partner for your own benefit.

You might really want to do this but if your partner doesn’t, it’s probably more important to have a conversation about whether or not you should be together at all.

One-sided open relationships have to work for both parties. If you are being pressured into this by your partner,  it won’t work.

3. You have to be clear on what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.

Couples have their own rules in the bedroom.

While it might be strange to talk about your partner sleeping with someone else, you need to have that conversation to make sure lines aren’t crossed.

For example, if you’re a man and a woman in this relationship, are you allowed to date other men or women? How will that make your partner feel if you have a bisexual partner?

If it’s just sex and not dating, is that better?

For some people, developing an emotional connection with someone else is actually more hurtful than a sexual connection.

It needs to be extremely clear what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.

4. Where do you stand on the protection conversation?

If you’ve been together for any length of time, you might not be using protection in the truest sense.

Condoms aren’t typically used by married couples because of the monogamy of it all and the decreased risk of infection, but will you use them – or other forms of protection – during your open relationship?

This is an important topic to discuss if one partner is seeing other people.

5. What, if anything, will you tell other people?

If you live in a small town, it’s bound to get out that one partner is sleeping with other people.

While you don’t owe anyone an explanation, you might want to have a conversation with your partner about how you’ll handle these questions from others.

Do you tell people you have an one-sded open relationship to begin with?

6. Make sure you say you love them.

At the end of the day, you come home to each other so it’s important to continue to maintain that relationship above all else.

Make an effort to continue to connect with each other and share your feelings.

If one partner feels that it is negatively affecting the existing relationship, then that’s an issue that needs to be discussed.

7. Listen to the other person’s concerns.

You might decide to do check-ins with the other person or have regular conversations about how things are going.

You don’t have to go into the details with one another unless you want to, but you should hear the other’s concerns if any.

It’s important to keep an open line of communication so nobody gets hurt.

8. Be willing to give it up for them.

Just because you both came to this willingly doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it forever. At some point, you might change your mind.

They might change their mind. If one person doesn’t want to be in an open relationship anymore, you should be willing to stop doing it.

The other side of that conversation includes the possibility that you don’t stay together when this is all said and done.

There’s a chance someone will catch feelings and you’ll end the existing relationship. You need to talk about what that looks like and how you will handle it together.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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