How do you tell someone you’re open?

If you open up your relationship, how do you choose whether to tell any of your friends? How do you tell if a particular friend would worth the risk of sharing this “news”? How do you go about having such a conversation?

This is a great question. Navigating conversations about the style of relationship you’re in can be tricky, especially if you feel awkward gauging what is appropriate. I think the first thing to do is gain a real confidence about your relationship. This can be said for all varieties of relationships. Own the choices that you make and be as confident as one can be that the choices you make are good ones. This will transfer through in conversations that you have about your relationship and may help people understand why you make the choices that you make.

There are a lot of stereotypes about open relationships and when discussing your own open relationship it can be difficult to not feel immediately judged. You should never have to feel like you are justifying your relationship to your friends. For me, that meant choosing who I wanted to tell based on my relationship with them and whether or not the conversation permitted discourse. More simply: Is there time to explain to them what it is and what it means, or are they going to take a small piece of information and make something up because I haven’t provided them with enough context?

As I became more comfortable answering questions and got used to what kinds of questions people had, I started to tell more people. If a friend didn’t “approve” of the relationship, then they didn’t approve of me, and they weren’t a friend. That hasn’t happened. I do have a few friends who are still a little wary on the details and, I think, would rather just not hear about it. That’s okay too. I am not my relationship and we can still be friends and talk about other things as long as they accept me.

More often than not I just won’t bring it up unless I feel particularly inspired to or unless the situation calls for it.

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Why should you care what people think about you and your relationship? That’s the obvious followup question. You shouldn’t care and you shouldn’t feel obligated to explain. But we’re human beings. It feels good to be understood and accepted for you who you are, especially to those closest to you. If you can have this conversation and have it in a way that allows them to understand you and who you are, it can make you feel closer and more open to the people around you. Even if you are indifferent about the acceptance of your peers, a little conversation about the ethics of relationships is a fun way to spend an evening. No? Just me?

How you go about the conversation is up to you, but I think it’s best to just open it up when it feels right.

Example:

Jill: How are you and the boyfriend doing?

You: Well great actually, we opened up our relationship… so that’s been really fun and exciting. 

I am not one to just sit down and say “so, hey, I’m in an open relationship.” I suspect this is for a few reasons. I don’t like talking about myself very much, most of the time. There’s no context for the conversation and it leaves it way too open. And, I think, it presumes that an open relationship needs to be announced with fanfare as though it is particularly interesting or special.

Remember that it’s up to you how this information gets out and that you can share or not share whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Have a question? Click ‘ask’ at the top and I will answer your question on my blog. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Megan says:

    My girl friend and I live in an apartment block.
    My most frequently asked question is about myself and my girlfriend with whom I live. I always answer that we are not a “couple” as such but in an open relationship. We live together and share many things together. I never admit to sharing the sexual relationship I have with her. When i am washing my car and have pretty short shorts on – often one of the ‘husbands’ comes over to ask about the car and then mention the fact that three men are often seen visiting us, or mention the cars they drive. My answer is usually ‘they are friends – who often sleep over’. If asked which one is my boyfriend I reply “all three – I have not worked out the one I like best – but I keep trying. We have a very open relationship”.
    I don’t mention what I open though – I leave that to them. I play games with them and they usually go away shaking their heads uttering “I WISH”. I can imagine the conversation with the wife when he gets home. I leave them to think what they do. If they imagine we sleep with them they get it more right than wrong.

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