Long Distance Open Relationship Guide: How to Make it Work
Being in a long-distance relationship is daunting as it is, having an open relationship while you are miles apart can even be more challenging. However, It is possible if both partners are on the same boat. Both sides must be prepared emotionally, mentally, and physically for this arrangement.
One thing that you have to deal with is the people around you, most notably, your family, who would be against the idea. And yes, there are certainly a lot of challenges along the way. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper understanding of what open relationship is.
What is an “open relationship”?
An “open relationship” is a non-monogamy arrangement were two individuals in a relationship mutually agree to explore outside relationships.
This can take many forms from sex partners to casual dating. It is a known fact that this kind of relationship is nothing new and had increased throughout the years.
But, unlike a monogamous relationship, it is open; thus, you set your own rules. However, it still helps to take into consideration the opinions of experts.
Therapists, relationship coaches, and couples who have been through these kinds of relationships could guide you for you not to walk the bridge blinded for just what you only know.
Open relationship versus Polyamory
Usually, this is where the confusion starts when a couple agrees on an open relationship, when in fact, it’s Polyamory they are after.
The main difference between the two is the emotional connection shared with the other party. “Open relationship” allows you to sleep someone outside of the main relationship. Whereas Polyamory is having a deep-seated emotional bond with multiple partners.
Before diving into opening up the conversation with your partner, understand expressly what kind of non-monogamous relationship you are after. Introducing the idea to your partner should not be like dropping the bomb from out of the blue.
Try to test the waters first and drop hints here and there before blowing up your whistle. Don’t assume that you are on the same boat immediately as anything can happen. Often, their choice is grounded from their roots or how they were brought up. Test the waters and take it slowly.
Careful thought must be applied to ensure that you both approach the idea in an objective way rather than subjective that can lead to misunderstanding.
Contrary to what others think, having an Open Long-Distance Relationship arrangement is built on solid trust and communication. As the mechanism involves both parties to look at it with an open mind.
They must have full confidence in their significant other that their current relationship will survive and rise above any challenges that come their way. It is not an arrangement that can suit everyone.
Before you take the dive, both partners must sit down and discuss things together to understand if this is for them or not.
Will an “long-distance open relationship” work for you and your significant other?
A relationship works two ways. Thus, there must be a consensus on both parties to enter into this type of set-up.
After the initial conversation of opening the idea with your partner, allowing each one to take a moment and ponder things by themselves. This is crucial for you to have open communication once you both sit down and talk things through.
Here are some things that you have to consider to understand if an “open relationship” is right for you and your significant other.
Write a pros and cons list.
Both partners must weigh all possibilities, consequences, and rewards in entering into this type of arrangement.
It is best if you approach it in a logical frame of mind rather than from an emotional perspective. List down all the advantages and disadvantages of an open long-distance relationship.
You will be surprised to see how this exercise would give you a deeper understanding of your partner’s knowledge of this kind of relationship.
Ensure that both of you are on the same boat.
The worst thing that could happen is one partner said yes because the other one was persistent. Entering this kind of set-up on a trial-and-error mindset could just ruin your relationship rather than strengthen it.
Remember that an open and long-distance relationship begets trust and communication. As such, you are both expected to be completely honest with each other and voice out any hesitations that you have regarding this relationship.
Studies show that 40% of the couple said it’s okay the first time but ended up regretting it in the middle of the arrangement. One of those decisions worth pondering about, and where individual preference must be respected and accepted.
An open relationship is not a scapegoat.
Do not avoid any relationship issues by opening up the relationship. “Open long distance relationship” cannot mend a current relationship hiccup, in fact, it can result in a drawback.
Both partners must then lay down the reason why they wanted this kind of arrangement from the start.
If the partner who initiated this set-up uses this way to cover up a mistake they did, like cheating, relationship experts do not recommend diving into an open relationship.
Cheating is in itself a breach of trust where solid trust is the foundation for an open long-distance relationship to work.
Things that you have to know to have a successful long-distance open relationship
After going through all of the tips above, you must then decide. And if both of you are ready to jump the boat, let’s check some long distance open relationship guide.
Experts like Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist, Dr. Sheff ad Courtney Watson, a licensed marriage therapist, shed some light on the ins and outs of an open long-distance relationship.
Specify which type of open relationship that will work for you.
According to Dr. Sheff. “There are various types of open relationships like , monogamish, polyamory, swinging relationship anarchy, and then just open — individuals sometimes prefer to identify that way.”
Both partners should truthfully answer questions regarding the open long-distance relationship set-up. Just remember that what can work for you does not necessarily mean that it is the same for the other.
Let’s say, going out and sleeping with someone else might be okay for you, but would you think the same way for your partner. Here are some questions that you might want to both truthfully:
- Are you just looking for a sexual relationship knowing the other is miles away?
- Would you want your partner to come to your house?
- Are you comfortable with your other partner sleeping with other partners?
- Do you prefer having regular dating schedules or just be spontaneous?
There are certainly more questions that you can ask each other. The bottom line is that both of you should answer it with honesty. And, the other accepts the other’s opinion as that is what’s comfortable with them.
Do it for the right reasons.
Couples who agree to enter an open relationship always have reasons as to why they opt for such a set-up. This reason must be clear and transparent.
No hiding behind the bush, and just saying what the other wants to hear and what could make them agree on the arrangement.
Remember that if you are already happy with the relationship you have with your partner, why would you look for another relationship?
In long-distance relationships, were distance can always be a factor, is it just your yearning for intimacy that had led you to choose this option? Or are there other traits or things that are lacking in your partner you would like to seek.
Being committed to someone else is not like a dirty old rag that you throw once it have been used. Or you are just using it until you get a replacement. Commitment requires trust, love, and respect from both individuals.
Thus, only if you find the reason that both of you agree on is when you can decide to open the relationship. However, if one of you have other hidden motives apart from wanting to be in an open relationship, its time to rethink your existing relationship.
Remember, they are not the reserved tire that you’ll use when the other is no longer working.
Go back to why you made that commitment with the person in the first place. Do you still see yourself in a relationship with them despite the distance? Or has distance become a reason that is as clear as mud that your relationship is due to die soon, it’s just a matter of time?
Self-reflect and find out the answer. The truth is the problem will still continue if it is not dealt with directly.
Your current relationship will only suffer from the open relationship, and can even jeopardize new relationships. But if both of you have set your mind to it, then that’s good!
You must set guidelines for your open relationship.
While there are no set guidelines carved on a stone out there, this guideline is something that you and your partner should throw together.
Preferably, for your protection and to avoid confusion, it should be written where both of you signed, and other partners who get involved should be aware of. Here are some of the things that should be on the guideline.
- what you want,
- what you’d prefer, but isn’t essential, and
- what you’re not okay with.
Again, this is not carved in stone. You and your significant other should examine it regularly if you are still amenable to the guidelines you initially set.
People change, emotions change… this is constant, so a relationship guideline must adapt with time.
As we discussed earlier, communication and trust play a vital role in the success of an open long-distance relationship.
Thus, you must have regular check-ins with your significant other to understand their take on the current set-up of your relationship.
Don’t leave your partner in the dark that may cause suspicion and anxiety to surmount. Especially if you and your partner are halfway around the globe without a friend in sight near the other’s vicinity, hiding the truth can put your relationship in the wire.
One of Watson’s suggestions is to share your digital calendar with your partners. To allow transparency and trust to seep through as everyone is aware of where you are.
When you are dealing with multiple partners, it pays to be organized and clear about things to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
Also, you must set a communication rhythm that will work with you and your partners, most notably the primary relationship that is miles away. Based on a survey conducted by Typing.com, 40% of long-distance relationships couples set rules on how often they communicate with each other.
Considering that you also have other partners in the picture, you must also set clear and defined standards on this. If you demand a response time of four to five hours while you were in a monogamous relationship, this might not work when you have other regular partners in the picture.
Find a pattern or rhythm that works for both of you without instigating jealousy or making the other partner worry. The least we want is to put a strain on your relationship just because you forgot to call or text them.
Dealing with jealousy.
Jealousy, whether you like it or not, can happen even in an open relationship. This is more so when the other partner feels that you are spending more time with the partner than with them.
Or, it can be the other way around when your partner is giving you lesser attention as you usually do. But jealousy should not be a trigger to quit everything all together and abandon the open long-distance relationship boat.
But it is a reason for both of you to sit down and talk things through. Still, communication is essential.
One thing that you also have to look into is reinforcing the “me” time that you got as a perk when you entered the long-distance relationship in the first place.
Dealing with different partners could have decreased the “me” time but should not be a reason to abandon it at all. Rather than demanding too much attention from someone, use that time to rejuvenate and rediscover yourself.
Often, when you are around other people too much, you lose your own identity. These opportunities will not just help you refresh but also reassess things. If you are still happy with the current set-up or do you want to move on.
Have awareness on sexual health you and your partners.
One of the most significant risks in an open relationship is being prone to sexually transmitted diseases for having multiple contacts.
A discussion that you should openly communicate not just to your existing partner but to everyone that you get in touch with. While having an open relationship can be exciting and thrilling, it does come with a risk.
You must reinforce this procedure not just to yourself but with others. Safety is still the key. Better safe than sorry.
An open relationship is not your resort when the relationship is at risk.
Everyone doesn’t like the idea of being dumped or abandoned. But, it should never be a reason to enter into an open relationship, especially when you are miles away from each other.
Allowing your partner to “legally” hook up with someone else will not change anything in your current relationship. Tackle the issue head-on. If the relationship is bound to end, then so be it.
Avoiding breakups through an open relationship can result in regret and more misunderstandings down the road. Use the opportunity when you’re relationship ends to find time for yourself and grow as a person. Another partner will never be able to fill what is lacking in your life.
Only you can. Fill yourself up. Grown as an individual person to avoid clingy relationships that only becomes toxic as time goes by. A toxic relationship, in the end, will just hurt both of you.
Seek help and support.
When things are getting haywire, and a conversation with your partner is almost impossible, seek help from experts. Do not just lean into anyone for advice, especially if they have never been in the same boat that you are riding right now.
Trust the experts – seek help from relationship coaches and therapists to find ways on how to succeed in your open long-distance relationship.
In the end, the choice is up to both of you. We can’t remove the stigma or wrong impressions people have on open relationships, more so, if they open a long-distance relationship.
You have morality, emotional instability, religious and cultural beliefs, and maturity to consider. Not all open relationships are bad, especially if done for the right reasons and where there was a consensus.
Studies actually show that people in an open relationship have an equal or better quality of relations than their monogamous counterparts.
Again, the decision lies on you. If you feel that you have a stable relationship with trust and love as a foundation, go dive in!