Can A Relationship Be Open For Only One Person? 

Can A Relationship Be Open For Only One Person? 

Can A Relationship Be Open For Only One Person?

The short answer is yes, but as with most things Non-Monogamy related, it isn't as straightforward as that. Yes, a relationship can be open for only one person if you have a solid foundation to draw from and rules and boundaries that you follow. 

But unless you have honest conversation and understanding from both parties, this type of relationship won't work. 

It's a scary prospect, opening up your relationship, but when only one of you wants it, in many ways it is harder to navigate than if you were both in the lifestyle. 

When I first started swinging, I was part of a couple, and my first experience and subsequent experiences were ones whilst in a relationship where we both played together. We attended clubs and parties as a couple and played with other couples in the same room. 

When I later became single, I continued to play with couples and met a few people who were in relationships but played separately. 

At the time, this was something that I believed wasn't for me. My experiences up until this point had been 'together or not at all or, as a single person. 

The thought of being in an open relationship where I was able to play separately without my partner was still new to me and one that I was yet to experience, and I couldn't see myself having a relationship where only one of us played. 

I'm pleased to say that I have now experienced being in an open relationship and have had a relationship where only I have been in the lifestyle, but I have had the support and consent of my partner. 

When One Person Wants An Open Relationship

It's a scary prospect, opening up your relationship, but when only one of you wants it, in many ways it is harder to navigate than if you were both in the lifestyle. But just because only one of you wants to be open doesn't mean that it isn't ethical; a relationship where only one partner is in the lifestyle is still an ethically non-monogamous one. The dynamics are just a little different

Why Would Your Partner Want An Open Relationship 

Often, when we are on the receiving end of having the 'I want to have an open relationship' conversation, many people have a thought process that sounds a little like this; 'am I not enough, and does my partner not love me?'  

I want to reassure you that this immediate concern is entirely natural and normal, and I have been in both situations, so I know what it feels like

For me, it doesn't matter what 'type' of Ethically non-monogamous relationship you have; the reasons behind why you may want one are pretty similar. 

It may be that your partner is Bisexual, and they wish to explore that side to their sexuality. It doesn't matter how amazing your relationship is or what kind of sex you have; if you identify as Bisexual, then I don't believe suppressing it is the answer. Exploring your sexuality within an existing loving relationship is a fantastic experience. 

You may wish to experience things that your partner either isn't interested in or doesn't enjoy. I don't believe that just because one of you isn't interested in something, you should miss out too. 

If you have discussed something with your partner and they have decided that they are not on board with it, does that mean you shouldn't pursue it out of fear of jeopardising your relationship?   

No. 

This was a question I was asked recently, and I answered by saying this; 

It's imperative that when we discuss our sexual desires with our partners and open up to them about what we would like to experience, we take ownership of our experiences.

Sometimes when we are in a relationship, it can be easy to fall into the trap of putting our desires on hold if you already know your partner is not on board or is reluctant to explore other possibilities. But we have to remember, you are individuals within a relationship, and as an individual, it is your responsibility to take ownership of your needs and desires. 

How To Explain You Want An Open Relationship-And What Not To Say

If your desire to talk about intimacy comes from a place of love, understanding and relationship growth, then chances are your partner will be a lot more receptive. 

Explaining to your partner that you want to have an open relationship is a daunting prospect, especially if you already suspect they either don't feel the same way or you have never even broached the subject. 

I recently spoke to fellow coach and somatic sexologist Nikki at Celestial Soul Coach. She shared this great piece of advice with me when you want to talk to your partner about having an open relationship. 

'Before you even have the 'I'd like to try an open relationship' conversation, you need to make sure you are communicating well within your relationship. 

Suppose you are already sharing intimacies and opening up to one another about sexual desires? In that case, having the conversation about opening up your relationship should be a little easier to navigate. 

A great way to start an intimate conversation is by saying something along the lines of 'How do you feel about xxxxx?' or 'I was wondering about xxxx, do you think you would enjoy it, maybe we can explore together?

Or 'I love the sex we have, and I want to make sure it's great for us both. Can we talk about it?' 

If your desire to talk about intimacy comes from a place of love, understanding and relationship growth, then chances are your partner will be a lot more receptive.  

Approaching Open Relationships With Love 

On the flip side, of course, if it is you who is the one wanting to talk to your partner about having an open relationship, then approaching the subject with love, compassion, and understanding is, in my opinion, the only way to have the conversation

I believe that your existing relationship is so important that no other intimacy can happen unless it is cherished and cared for first. 

The first thing you need to do before you have even thought about the whos, wheres and whens is tell your partner that these desires stem from a place of love and respect for the relationship. 

Can A Relationship Be Open For Only One Person? 

Granted, it may not seem like it to your partner, but you need to ensure that they feel reassured, loved, and cherished above all things. Regardless of what you imagine your open relationship to look like, your partner's emotional and physical needs must be met and always placed at the forefront of any conversation. 

I believe that your existing relationship is so important that no other intimacy can happen unless it is cherished and cared for first. 

When I provide a couple with counselling, as part of my relationship counselling services, I often tell them that the relationship itself is the client, not the individuals as such.

I tend not to focus on each partner's rights and wrongs; instead, I focus on how the relationship can be fixed or improved; without imparting blame on either party. 

The same approach is beneficial when we are discussing open relationships.

Suppose you want to keep your existing relationship intact whilst still enjoying the benefits of an open relationship? 

In that case, viewing your existing, primary relationship as a separate, private world to be nourished and cared for by both parties is a great approach to have. 

But what exactly do I mean? 

OK, in practice, it can look a little like this:

One of you enjoys a particular kink or maybe wants to explore a specific fetish. 

You discuss it within your relationship and find that the desire to explore is one-sided and that your partner is not keen to join in, as they don't enjoy it. 

So what are you going to do?        

Before you start thinking one of the following:

I'll never get to enjoy anything in this relationship, or this is not fair, or I'm not going to bring up this type of conversation again, they looked at me like I was a freak or I'll go and do it anyway, and run the risk of ruining the relationship. 

Stop. 

Just because they do not want to participate, it doesn't mean the relationship should suffer. 

Instead, it would be best to approach it in a way that sounds a little like this.

'I love what we have, and I love that I can be so open with you. I want our relationship to be cherished and nurtured, but I'd like the chance to explore xxx as an individual. 

It doesn't mean I don't value what we have, and I want to find a way for us both to express ourselves in a supportive way. 

I'm not looking to replace you, cheat on you, or disrespect our relationship, but instead explore this desire I have to be xxxx; how do you feel about that?                                                                                                                          

What I Have Learnt About Open Relationships. 

Many moons ago, I, Rosie Kay, Open Relationship and Ethical Non-monogamy Expert, falsely believed that open relationships consisted of one partner in the relationship having sex with someone else, whilst the other person stayed at home and had no choice in the matter. 

How wrong was I? 

OK, fast forward to now and a lot of education and experiences later. 

Let me reassure you that this is not how successful open relationships work, and there are hundreds of different ways that an 'open relationship' can play out. 

Being in an open relationship means you are committed to working together to ensure your desires and needs are met whilst respecting one another and the relationship. 

If you are Bisexual, you may decide to explore this side of your sexuality alone, and you may not wish your existing partner to be involved. After all, sexuality is very personal, and how you want to explore it is entirely down to you. 

Can A Relationship Be Open For Only One Person? 

I have been in a relationship where he identified as Bi, and I accepted that he explored independently of the relationship. 

It may be that you wish to experience a certain kink that perhaps your partner is not interested in. 

For example, many people want to experience visiting a professional Dominatrix, but their partner may have no interest in joining them; after all, BDSM is not for everyone. So a healthy alternative is to visit a professional, have the experience and return to your partner. 

Another dynamic that may be present is that one of you is a voyeur and wishes to visit a club in order to enjoy watching other people have sex. You may want to visit a swingers club and have sex with a T-girl; whatever it is, we are all different, and we should all be able to express ourselves within our existing relationships. 

I think you get what I'm saying here; you should never presume that an 'open relationship' means one person having sex with others while completely disregarding their existing relationship and partners' emotions. 

It doesn't mean sneaking around, and it doesn't mean you get a free pass to 'cheat' on one another. 

What it does mean is that you have decided to have an honest conversation about intimacy. 

It means you understand both the reality of being in a conventional relationship and appreciate the benefits of being in an ethically non-monogamous one. You are committed to working together to ensure your desires and needs are met whilst respecting one another and the relationship.