How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes of Open Relationships

If you have been considering an open relationship and are ready to try, or if you have tried before and didn’t find it as successful as you’d like, I’d like to offer some suggestions from those of us who have learned the hard way. Just like anything in life, there is a learning curve, and when it comes to the most intimate and vulnerable areas of life – such as romantic and sexual expression, it can go “sideways” quickly.

However, the joy and satisfaction of a successful open relationship, makes the effort put into making it work, worth it. With that in mind, here are some of the mistakes I’ve seen as the most common and how to avoid them.

Neglecting Your Primary Relationship

In all the excitement of a new partner, it is easy to get caught up in the new and fun feelings of meeting someone who wants to build something with you. Make sure everyone agrees with how to handle communication such as texts, calls or emails from each other. Discuss what should be transparent and what doesn’t need to be shared.

Pushing a Partner to Compromise

Pushing a partner to “take one for the team”, isn’t typically a successful strategy. Many couples have a code or communication around whether or not it is a yes or no for them, and if it is not yes-yes for both, they don’t move forward.

Before you get into a situation with another person, talk about what you all are comfortable or uncomfortable with, so no one is left with regret.

Comparisons and Replication

Avoid trying to get your partner to replicate something a play partner did that you enjoyed. Making the comparison can hurt feelings and draw unfair comparisons.

Pushing the Pace

Always go at the slowest person’s pace, or it can backfire. This doesn’t need to be a one and done – there can be more eventually, but only if you keep it at a pace that makes it a win-win for all involved. When meeting new people who seem interested, ask for what levels of engagement they are comfortable with.

Assuming Traditional Roles

Open relationships don’t often follow the standard narratives that traditional relationships do. Hold your agreements with your various partners, but also understand others may not want the same outcomes as you. Talking about expectations is a great way to increase your success.

Poor Communication

Communication about your relationship is best done in person and not by text or phone. Too much vital or sensitive communication is lost when not done face to face. When it’s important, try to do it in person.

As you consider your options and how you may transition from monogamy to an open relationship style, I hope to be a resource for you. If I can help, request a free consultation today at

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