Magazine True Life & Opinions 8 ways to make an open relationship work By David Blackett | @boysiesPhoto © Getty images Come one, come all to the hot topic of OPEN RELATIONSHIPS. I can already hear the mumbles: ‘an open relationship isn’t a real relationship’... ‘if I was in love then I wouldn’t need anyone else’... ‘true love is only between two people.’ You guys can shut up, just shut up. Shut. Up. What you’re saying isn’t helpful and no one here will like you. This isn’t the time or the place. We are gathered today to help those who want to give it a go, maybe see if the shoe fits – and if the shoe fits then it’s none of your business, just be happy that other consenting adults are happy. OK? Good. Relationships are tricky beasts – wait, stop, reverse a little. People are tricky beasts – getting to know someone, finding out their inner workings, their wants and desires is an absolute nightmare. This is possibly why hook-up apps where a surname can feel too intimate are booming business, whereas find-a-pal-for-coffee apps are non-existent. So when it comes to a human you’ve interacted with to the point that you’re willing to present them to the world as an extension of yourself, with words like ‘boyfriend’ ‘other half’ or my personal fave, ‘apple of my eye,’ you will have already negotiated a tricky river of compromise, acceptance and most importantly love. Well done you – it can be hard work but it’s totally worth it. So why would you want to jeopardise that by throwing more arms, legs and lungs into the mix? Guys, I can’t lie to you. The main reason people want an open relationship is because it’s fun. The reasons why it’s fun vary from person to person but fun is what it boils down to. Open relationships can come about for a bundle of reasons. Most of them are valid, but occasionally, like getting pregnant to save a relationship, they might not be the absolute best choice. I asked a couple of folk why they had opened up their relationship. Why two dicks just weren’t enough. Dave from Leeds said: “I was really young when I got with my boyfriend. We were just teenagers. We were also incredibly horny all the time. It started pretty early, possibly in the first six months or so. We started chatting about who we thought was hot on a night out, daring each other to flirt with guys, and found out it was a massive turn on. It sort of just went on from there.” Ryan from London said: “I like cock. My relationships feel like a separate thing to my sex life so I always go into it being honest about what my expectations are and what I want to do. Some guys are on board, others get freaked.” Getting into a conversation about wanting an open relationship can be difficult, and bad phrasing can open, a world of hurt. On one hand you might be saying to the one you love “I just really love to feel my bell end in a stranger’s arse” and what they are hearing is “You’re not good enough.” When this isn’t the case, your partner just doesn’t have a stranger’s arse any more. If you want to go down this route and keep your relationship – you need to make sure you are both safe and secure in how you feel for each other. For some people falling in love and sexual desire aren’t the same thing, and you know what? They don’t have to be. Your interpretation of love and what a relationship means is completely up to you. The important thing is not to be a dick and hurt people on purpose in the process of finding out. Why not try these pointers to minimise hurt feelings if you and your boy are thinking about embarking on a wondrous journey of extra-marital activity? 1 - HAVE RULES Try not to have more than four rules because then it becomes really unfun, but set boundaries that you’re both comfortable with. These rules aren’t set in stone forever, if he does something that’s not rule breaking and it hurts your feelings, then have a chat about why that is. If you want to try something outside of the boundaries then raise it for discussion. People and their desires change. Don’t worry, just be honest about how you’re feeling. Some common rules include: Only playing together. Never the same person twice. Avoid mutual friends. Hide the details, don’t hide the people. Don’t bring anyone home. 2 - WHAT COUNTS AS CHEATING? An open relationship can mean a lot of things, so set this simple rule from the start. Do you only open things up for a kinky three-way? Or are you as free as birds to go out and do what you like whenever you like? Is kissing a no go? Are you allowed to use chems with strangers? Making sure condoms are used is a no brainer though, right? 3 - HOW HONEST DO YOU WANT TO BE? Honesty might not always be the best policy. If going out and getting your yayas alone is the option you go for make sure you’re both agreed on how much you want to know. Some couples run happily on a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Others get their rocks off knowing that their bae is bumping uglies in a carpark in Croydon. You make the rules – just make sure they make you happy. 4 - WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE? Why are you doing this? For the love of God WHY? Is it that more cocks in the bed makes you spaff like a trouper? Or is it that the light of your life just won’t chain you up, slather you in pig oil and fist you till you squeal? The guy you love and want to spend your life with just might not fuck the way you want and that’s OK, as long as everyone is on the same page. It doesn’t have to be all about sex. Some people just have too much gosh darn love to give and it’s more a polyamorous relationship they’re after. The major bonus of which is that it can end up with you having significantly lower rent. 5 - HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOUR FUCK? Are they allowed to have your mobile number? Are all interactions strictly through hook-up apps? Can they know your surname? Can you follow them on Instagram but a Facebook friendship is a click too far? 6 - TELL HIM IF YOU’RE JEALOUS Jealousy can ruin a good relationship. If you have any feelings of jealousy then make sure to tell him. Jealousy is one of the main reasons people break up. Nip it in the bud before it affects your relationship. 7 - DON’T FORGET YOUR PARTNER If you are having more sex outside your relationship than in it, you need to make sure your partner still feels valued. Sex between you and him may not be the most important aspect of your relationship, but you need to make sure he still feels like your king (or queen). 8 - GET TESTED Make sure both of you get regular check ups for HIV and STIs. You may be using condoms all the time but your partner may not. Getting regular check ups at your GUM clinic will put your mind at ease and if one of you does pick up an STI you can get it treated. Remember it takes roughly about ten days for an STI to show up in tests. HIV can take four weeks. For more information on sex, sexual health and STIs, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/sex. To find your nearest GUM clinic, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/clinics.