Consenting Adultery: How To Maintain An Open Relationship

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

While monogamy – in which couples commit to being married or having sexual relations with only their partner – is a long-enduring relationship structure, more people in the United States are either entering open relationships or showing curiosity to learn more about them. The idea of maintaining multiple meaningful relationships with people who serve various needs and interests can sound appealing and remove the pressure of expecting a single person to fulfill all of those areas. However, like with all relationship dynamics, open relationships can come with their own unique set of challenges. 

Above all things, it is important – before entering an open relationship – to make sure both you and your partner agree upon several terms. The clearer you can be in the beginning, the more stable you are likely to feel. If you and your partner have decided to try a new way of organizing your relationship, here are some tips that will help you to maintain an open romantic relationship successfully.

Set and adhere to clear rules in your other relationships

Here’s the truth about open relationships: feelings can be hurt, and you may get jealous at times. Even though you are in a consenting open romantic relationship, these issues are bound to happen. However, you can ease these feelings slightly and avoid conflict by communicating with your partner what you want out of this open romantic relationship.

Sit down with your significant other and come up with a list of open marriage rules for maintaining other relationships. What does your partner want out of their external relationships? What do you want out of your external relationships? What are some things that you don’t want your significant other doing, and what are some things they don’t want you doing?

More importantly, what is this open romantic relationship going to do for your relationship with your partner? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when you first begin an open romantic relationship.

Remember that your initial partner is your top priority

Could an open relationship enhance your current partnership?

Your open romantic relationship might become a monogamous relationship if you ignore your partner and only spend time with your other love interest. The point of an open romantic relationship is usually to improve the quality of your current relationship and give both parties more freedom and excitement in their lives. 

The end goal is not to build a new relationship that takes precedence over your current one. Make a conscious effort to keep your original relationship alive.

Create a powerful support system before starting another relationship

As was stated above, open relationships can be difficult even when both parties have consented to see people other than themselves. There may be times when you will feel angry and jealous of your partner despite your agreement.

During these times, you could benefit from a powerful support system to help relieve your mind of these negative feelings. This support system may consist of close friends, relatives, therapists, or people on an online community who are actively in open relationships. No matter whom you add to this support system, make sure that they are invested in your well-being and supportive of all of your choices.

Only start when you and your partner are both ready

Some people consider starting an open romantic relationship because they are not satisfied with their current one. Before you consider an open romantic relationship as a solution for you and your partner, see if you can fix the relationship to become satisfied. 

Give yourself some time to figure out what isn’t working in the relationship and work hard to fix it. If it is fixed, maybe your relationship needed more nurturing and not an additional partner. If you didn’t notice improvement, you can both move into the stage of considering additional partners.

Remember that making comparisons is problematic

When your partner begins seeing someone or when you begin seeing someone new, it can be easy to compare yourself with your partner’s new significant other. It can be easy to compare your partner to your new significant other, as well.

While this is completely natural, try not to let these thoughts dictate how you treat yourself and others. These comparisons can ruin your relationship with others and with yourself if you allow it to. When these thoughts come around, remind yourself of what you love about yourself and your partner to get back on track.

Be honest with the people in your other relationships

While you and your partner are both well aware that you are in an open romantic relationship, the people you are seeing may not have that same clarity. The worst thing that you can do to a person expecting you to be seeing them exclusively is to keep them in the dark about your relationship situation. 

When you first begin a new relationship outside your current one, make sure that your new partner is aware that you are still with someone else, and that they are your top priority. Not everyone will be fine with this, so don’t be discouraged if you have to spend some time searching for someone who is supportive of this time of relationship dynamic.

Consider creating a list of people who are “off-limits”

There are some people who your partner may choose to pursue that could tear apart your relationship. Some people would probably make your partner want to scrap your relationship as well. Examples include former partners, co-workers, or good friends. In many situations, you and your partner may be totally comfortable with an open relationship, provided you don’t have to be around your partner with their other love interests in contexts like work, happy hour, or friendly social engagements.

To avoid making a mistake that will end your relationship, consider making a list of all the people that your partner cannot date. Your partner can make a similar list. Once you have made this list, you should only pursue people that will be comfortable for the two of you.

Strive not to take things too seriously

Getty/Halfpoint Images

An open relationship is an opportunity for you to determine what you want out of relationships and sex. If there is something that you can’t do with your partner, feel free to explore that with your other partners. If your new partner can’t provide you with what you want, seek out someone who can. Not everything has to be serious when you’re in these relationships. Feel free to have fun and figure out who you are on the way.

Let things unravel if they must

Sometimes, the decision to start an open relationship may be a major sign that your relationship is falling apart, but the two of you are unwilling to let go. If you begin a new relationship and find that your partner’s feelings have faded, don’t be afraid to let go of something that is no longer serving you. Staying in a relationship that no longer provides you with any value can only create more problems for you and your partner. Know when your time is up and respect it.

Perform a trial run if you’re feeling uncertain

People often approach the idea of an open relationship with hesitation. After all, this type of relationship is looked down upon by society. If you are not completely comfortable with the idea but want to make both you and your partner happy, test out the idea first. An open relationship does not come with any rules, and you can both choose to close it at any time.

Give yourself a month or a couple of months to date other people while still seeing your partner. If it feels wrong for the two of you, you can always choose to go back to your monogamous relationship and work on internal conflicts.

Maintain discretion and awareness

It is vital that you and your partner agree on what is happening within your open relationship and that you both communicate. However, it is not necessary to discuss all the details of your external relationships with your partner. These details can make your partner feel jealous and may cause your initial relationship to crumble. In other cases, hearing about a partner’s external exploits could be arousing.

Talk to your partner when you feel uncertain or need clarity. If it makes you uncomfortable thinking about the other relationships, don’t ask for details. You can always respectfully ask your partner to keep information to themselves if you notice yourself getting worked up. 

That said, it’s important to pay attention to these feelings and explore them, versus suppress them. They could be a sign that the open relationship is not working for you, or they could present an opportunity to develop more confidence in your open relationship.

Practice safe sex

Could an open relationship enhance your current partnership?

Not every relationship involves sex. You can have other relationships and keep sexual intercourse exclusively between you and your partner. However, if you two decide that you do want to have sex with other people, make sure that you are safe while you are engaging in it.

Sexually transmitted infections are something to take seriously when having sex with multiple partners. Failure to use and engaging in risky sex can seriously damage you and your partner. No matter with whom you choose to be sexually intimate, bring a condom and consider additional safety precautions to decrease your chances of contracting anything from these sexual encounters.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

This may be the most important tool of all in maintaining a healthy, open relationship. Be sure to check in with your partner and talk about everything in this article, including boundaries that you both agree on. Periodically check in with each other and make sure you’re both still on the same page. 

With healthy communication, thriving in an open relationship is possible. A licensed counselor can help you develop communication tactics and methods if needed.

Seek online therapy for support

The thought of an open relationship can be a lot for some people to take. Some people are prepared to take this step, and other people may not know what an open relationship entails. If you are scared, interested, or unsure about starting an open relationship with your partner and require some advice, visit

Regain offers online relationship counseling for both individuals and partners. The link above will direct you to a page that will help you connect with the right online counselor for your relationship needs. One reason people may gravitate to Regain is because it is a discreet form of attaining support. Users can meet virtually with their therapist from any location with a reliable internet connection. Additionally, the ability to schedule appointments at convenient times can make it easier to include your partner in virtual counseling sessions.

Individuals and couples seek online therapy for myriad reasons, and having a diagnosed mental health condition is not a prerequisite for receiving support from a licensed therapist. In a systematic review and meta-analysis of nine studies involving four web-based therapeutic interventions, researchers established that when couples participated in these treatments, they experienced significant improvements in relationship quality, commitment, and confidence.


Whether you’re new to considering open relationships or you’ve been involved in an open relationship for a long time and are experiencing unique challenges, the online therapists at Regain will work with you in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way to help you (and your partners) reach your goals. You deserve to feel happy and comfortable in your relationships – should you desire the help of a licensed counselor to get you to that place, you can reach out to Regain when you are ready.

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.