Communication Strategies For Couples Seeking A Third Person

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

There are many reasons why a couple may seek to open up their relationship to a third person. For many of these couples, the third person may be a temporary or more casual partner. But in other cases, a couple may want to bring in a third partner to be a permanent part of their relationship. No matter the exact arrangement, being able to communicate clearly, openly, and honestly can be essential for making it work and ensuring everyone involved feels comfortable. If this is something you and your partner are exploring, read on for some communication strategies to consider.

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Tips for couples seeking third-person arrangements

Below are a few tips and strategies to consider as you and your partner begin to explore the idea of opening up your relationship to a third person: 

Make sure your current relationship is stable before you add a third person

It can be very important to make sure your current relationship is stable before seeking a third partner. Adding another person to an unstable partnership might be a recipe for hurt feelings. 

Here are some examples of concerns in a relationship that may indicate it may not be a good idea to add a third person at this point: 

  • you don't trust each other
  • you aren't honest with each other
  • you feel anger and resentment towards each other for past mistakes
  • you're afraid your partner will leave you if you don't agree to add a third person

If these or other similar concerns are present in your relationship, it may be best to work on improving the relationship first, before adding an additional person to it. 

Prepare for the conversation with your partner

Bringing up the possibility of bringing a third person into your relationship with your partner can be tricky, and it can be important to go into the conversation with a clear understanding of your desires and reasons for it. So, before telling your partner that you'd like to introduce a third person into your relationship, it may be wise to try to understand your reasons. Perhaps you want to try something new sexually, or monogamy doesn't make sense to you anymore.

Ask yourself how you're committed to your relationship with your partner, and how you can envision this working for you both. It may help if you can verbalize your commitment and love for your partner and the reasons you want to bring a third person into your relationship before sitting down with them. Remind yourself that a conversation needs both talking and listening, so keep an open mind to your partner's opinions, questions, and concerns.

Choose the right time and place to have the conversation

This may be a difficult, uncomfortable, or emotional conversation for some couples to have, so it may be helpful to try to ensure that you are having it at a time and place where you are both more likely to feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed. 

Try to choose a time when neither of you has other commitments that could cut off the discussion prematurely. Also, try to find a time when you and your partner are most likely to be relaxed and not stressed. As for the place, it likely makes sense to choose somewhere where the two of you are alone and won't be interrupted.

Only proceed if everyone wants to

If your partner is opposed to the idea of introducing a third person into your relationship, you may need to think about what your priorities are, and you may have some tough decisions to make.

Adding a third person to your relationship should be a decision that you both make because you will enjoy it or want to explore it. If not everyone involved is comfortable with the idea, you may need to have a conversation to determine how best to move forward otherwise. 

Maintain ongoing communication 

If you and your partner agree that you both want to explore adding a third person into the relationship, it can be really important to maintain effective ongoing communication to ensure that the arrangement works and continues to work for everyone involved. Below are a few topics and tips to keep in mind as you move forward: 

  • Discuss Boundaries: You and your partner may want to discuss with each other what you assume, expect, or don't feel comfortable with, as well as what you would like to happen. Once you have found the right person to join you, it can be wise to also discuss their boundaries and expectations and let them know about yours.
  • Have A Time-Out Strategy: Any person has the right to stop an activity at any time if they no longer feel comfortable. With this in mind, it may be a good idea to have a safe word and a plan for if/when someone begins to feel uncomfortable. The plan can include a pause for everyone to stop, or that the third person should leave, or that everyone needs a little time to regroup. Whatever the safe word and plan is, it can be important for all three people to respect and follow it.
  • Be Flexible And Honest: Things may not always go as you plan, and your feelings may not always be what you thought they would be once you are in a situation. Something that you originally thought you were interested in may turn out to make you uncomfortable, or the reverse may be true. To help ensure that everyone continues to feel comfortable and heard, try to keep the lines of communication very open. It may be important to reevaluate the arrangement at different points. 
Need help with communication in your relationship?

Get additional support in therapy 

Relationships can be complicated, and this can be especially true when you are trying to navigate a new stage, arrangement, or transition, such as adding a new person into the relationship. For help with relationship concerns and support in developing effective communication with each other, you and your partner can speak with an online therapist. Research has found online therapy to be effective in improving relationship satisfaction, so it can be a useful option for couples interested in exploring changes to their relationship. 

Non-monogamy can still carry some stigma and misunderstandings around it, so some couples may feel more comfortable getting support with these concerns in a discreet way. With online therapy, you don’t have to travel to an office—you and your partner can meet with your therapist from the comfort of your home.

Counselor reviews

Continue reading below for some reviews of Regain counselors from others seeking help with their relationships: 

“My girlfriend and I have been working with Alison for about four months now and with her help and guidance we have strengthened our relationship tenfold. Her communication style is amazing and she really strives to make the best of our time with one another. If you’re looking for a counselor you can put your faith in with the whole experience, she’s the one to go to.”

“With Cassandra’s help, we’ve been able to bring our relationship to a new, healthier, and much happier level, working through painful situations, growing as individuals and as a couple, and with tools to stay on this path. She’s very responsive, and it has been great to have her facilitate our messaging through the app all week. I highly recommend Cassandra. She’s skilled, supportive, and down-to-earth. We feel totally comfortable with her.”


Some couples may decide that they want to explore the possibility of opening up their relationship and adding a third person to it. Developing and maintaining clear, effective, and honest communication can be an essential piece of making this arrangement work and helping to ensure that everyone involved feels comfortable. If you would like support with these or other relationship concerns, you can meet with a licensed counselor for help. 

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