How to Have an Open Relationship without Getting Jealous
Ready to have an open relationship but are worried about jealousy getting in the way? You’re not alone. Most people who consider experimenting with non-monogamy or opening up a relationship anticipate feelings of jealousy and wonder how they might navigate these new, complicated feelings.
Fortunately, there are many ways to prepare yourself for an open relationship so that you can better handle jealousy if and when it arises. In the sections below, we’ll explore how to have an open relationship and strategies for mitigating feelings of jealousy so that you can practice healthy and happy non-monogamy with your partner(s)!
What’s an Open Relationship?
Before we get into jealousy and open relationships, let’s get clear on what we mean when we say “open relationship”. Put simply, an open relationship is a non-monogamous partnership in which both partners agree to have sexual or intimate relations with others. Open relationships are becoming quite common, with 1 out of 5 adults in the United States having been in a non-monogamous relationship at some point in their lives.
There are many different iterations of open relationships, including ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, hierarchical non-monogamy, relationship anarchy, and more. Figuring out exactly which type of open relationship is best for you and your partners is a key first step in minimizing jealousy down the road.
Is an Open Relationship Right for Me?
If you’re considering opening up your relationship, this is one of the most crucial questions to ask yourself. It’s important to understand that open relationships don’t work for everyone or every partnership. Whether it was your idea or your partner’s to open up, you need to be honest with yourself and each other about whether this is truly what you want and if you can make it work together.
A healthy, consensual, and ethical open relationship requires a certain level of trust with your partners as well as emotional stability and solid communication skills. These are skills and qualities you can develop over time, but it’s important to first feel confident in your relationship with yourself and your partner(s). Existing trust issues and unresolved trauma from previous relationships could intensify feelings of distrust or jealousy, so it’s best to deal with those before searching for additional partners.
Tips for How to Have an Open Relationship Without Jealousy
If you want to proceed with an open relationship, understanding when and how jealousy may come into play is extremely important. Here are a few ways that you can prepare for jealousy in the context of an open relationship and deal with those emotions if and when they do come up:
Equip yourself with resources and support.
Do more of what you’re doing right now! Find articles and books to read with your partners and establish a network of support if you can, whether that be an online support group, a friend with open relationship experience, or a specialized therapist. That way, if you do feel jealous, you can turn to something or someone outside of your relationships to help you process your emotions.
Learn about your attachment style.
This can help improve your self-awareness and understand where your feelings of jealousy stem from. Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma, and Consensual Nonmonogamy is a helpful resource for understanding your attachment style in the context of non-monogamy.
Set clear boundaries with each of your partners from the get-go.
Some people refer to them as ground rules, others prefer to call them boundaries. Regardless, you need to make sure you’re on the same page with your partners about the kind of open relationship you want and what specific things are okay/not okay within that relationship structure. Mutual consent is essential! Boundaries may include safe sex practices, communication boundaries, sexual boundaries, and emotional boundaries. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all, and there are no rules about the types of rules or boundaries you can set with your partners!
Practice radical honesty, both with yourself and with your partners.
Be honest with yourself and your partners about whether an open relationship feels right, your needs within your relationship, and whether things change down the line. The more honest you are with your partners about your needs and wants, the more honest they are likely to be in return.
Communicate openly and regularly with all your partners.
Communication is key in any type of relationship, but especially in an open relationship. It can be helpful to set regular check-ins or dedicated times to discuss your open relationship, share how things are going, and determine whether any changes should be made to keep everyone happy and healthy.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
If you notice yourself starting to feel jealous, it’s usually best not to suppress those emotions. But that doesn’t mean you have to act on those feelings, at least not right away. Give yourself space and time to feel jealous and healthily process the emotions that arise. Tools for self-regulation, such as journaling, meditating, exercising, or talking to a friend, can help you work through your feelings. Often, jealousy will subside after some time, and you will no longer feel the need to act on it.
Prioritize self-love and self-pleasure.
Another important strategy for reducing the frequency of jealousy or coping with feelings of jealousy is to focus on yourself and practice regular self-care. Say your partner is out with someone else. Rather than fixate on it, plan a date for yourself and enjoy a healthy distraction. Run yourself a luxurious bubble bath, cook up your favorite meal, dance to your favorite music, or indulge in a solo session with some new sex toys. If you can learn to truly love yourself and cherish your time alone, you will experience fewer insecurities and feelings of jealousy.
Is It Possible to Have an Open Relationship without Jealousy?
It’s important to note that even if you follow all these tips and establish a healthy, consensual open relationship, that does not mean you will never experience jealousy. Feelings of jealousy may still arise from time to time (just as they do in monogamous partnerships)– and that’s completely normal! You’re navigating a new relationship style that requires work, practice, and trial and error, so be patient with yourself and your partners.
The most important thing is to prepare yourself for feelings of jealousy and learn how to act, or not act, on those feelings.