How Do You Define Open Relationship?

Open Relationship Therapy » How Do You Define Open Relationship?

An open relationship is a form of ethical non-monogamy in which all parties agree to have relationships outside of the primary relationship.  The depth and quality of those relationships vary from couple to couple and can change over time.   In most cases, the primary couple determines the level of engagement they have with other people.

Defining terms

Primary relationship:

A term used to call the main couple; meaning the couple that is choosing to open their relationship or marriage.  For example: “ My husband and I refer to our marriage as our primary relationship.”

Primary partner:

A term used to address the individuals in the primary relationship.  For example: “My primary partner and I live together and we date other people.”

Secondary relationship:

A term used to describe a relationship that may require less time and attention than the main relationship.  This is sometimes referred to as a satellite relationship.

Secondary partner:

A term used to describe anyone you date who is not your primary partner.  This is also referred to as a satellite partner.

Special note:

Some people disagree with the use of primary and secondary.  They prefer everyone be on the same level.  While this works for some, using terms such as primary and secondary can be very helpful in understanding roles and expectations.  In the above examples, they are meant to clarify not limit what is possible in any given relationship.

Common questions

Why would a couple want to open their relationship?

There are many reasons why a couple would want to open their relationship.  Some couples have been together (possibly married) for many years and they have come to a place where they want the option to explore other romantic pursuits without losing what they have with their current partner.  They see opening their relationship as a way to meet needs they may not be able to meet in the marriage and do so in a way where everyone feels supported.

What’s the best way to open a relationship?

My best advice on how to open a relationship is to go slow.  Take time to get clear on what you want and what you need to get there.  Once you have some clarity, consider having a conversation with your partner.  This is where coaching can be very helpful.  Once the topic is on the table, then you and your partner can decide how to best move forward.

To learn more about my coaching technique and to see if working together is the best fit for you, contact me and schedule a Poly-Coach Session today!

About the Author

Laurie Ellington

I teach people how to break through false beliefs and negative behavior patterns. I offer my clients tools that empower their life and their relationships.