Open relationships demand more explicitness, not less. Even while not leaning on an objective standard or set of rules, partners in an open relationship need to be continually creating and recreating boundaries. Even when both partners are ostensibly on board with forming an open relationship, it is often important to look closely at the motivations for each person in doing so. The importance of this examination is not driven by an assumption that open relationships are somehow unfair or unfair for women, are arrived at through coercion or fear, or are inherently pathological.
Open relationships can be enriching for both partners. But entering into an open relationship without a thorough examination of why this matters can interfere with the process of establishing the shape the relationship will take together. It can be a setup for hurt and resentment down the line. Common issues worth a second look include asking if you are trying to keep a relationship together that isn’t working, trying to work around sexual difficulties in the relationship that haven’t been addressed or wanting to leave a relationship but not feeling able.