Open Relationship and Inclusive Dating Blog

How To Ask Your Partner For an Open Relationship

couple talking

You’ve decided that you want to pursue an open relationship with your partner. Maybe that’s because your marriage or relationship is struggling and nothing else has worked. Maybe it’s because you see the benefits of an open relationship. There’s many reasons you might want to ask your partner for an open relationship.

But in the end, for most people, asking a partner for an overtly unconventional change to the relationship will be stressful.

We’ve got some tips on telling your partner that you’d like to try an open relationship.

Things To Consider Before Asking Your Partner For An Open Relationship

First, the fact that you’re nervous and “stalling” is a good thing. There are many relationship issues which shouldn’t be tabled, however, when asking for an open relationship, the gravity of the situation can’t be discounted.

This is a big deal.

For most people, an open relationship flies in the face of the cultural standards they were raised with. For whatever reason, you’ve gotten yourself beyond those perspectives. But your partner likely hasn’t even considered the idea.

This means that what you’re going to say will create a potential state of shock for your partner.

How To Ask For An Open Relationship

Select a comfortable place and time to talk.

This one should be obvious, but often, we forget the importance of our setting and ambience when conveying a potentially tough subject. First, make sure your partner has no obligations which could interrupt and cut short the discussion. You don’t need your partner hearing a portion of the matter and then going to pick up the family dog from boarding.

You don’t want to be drunk, because that has it’s own pitfalls; however, if you think a glass of wine might help grease the communication groove, go for it.

You probably want to avoid a public place.

You know your partner well enough to understand what environment is mellow and conducive to heavier subject matter.

Make it understood you’re not looking for a hall pass.

man with two women open relationship

The way you frame the open relationship ask will set the tone of the conversation. Asking for an open relationship already is a difficult situation, you don’t want to make it contentious, or more contentious, by making it seem like you’re simply looking for an excuse to get with other people.

You need to make sure you clearly define an open relationship as both persons having some additional options but those options are governed under mutually agreed upon and understood boundaries.

He or she may immediately assume that you’re trying to score with your yoga instructor, or the server at your local tavern. Its easy for paranoia to set in when asking for an open relationship. You need to be clear in what an open relationship is an how it will benefit you both.

Your partner should understand that an open relationship isn’t a free for all romantic fest.

Heavily focus on your ambition to improve the relationship.

The core competency of this conversation needs to focus on your resolve to improve the current state of your relationship. An open relationship should be one piece of a larger scope of action that helps elevate the relationship.

Don’t pitch an open relationship as a “cure all.” Instead, make it a part of a larger plan that works with improving communication, spending more time together, etc.

Allow them to react and feel and express themselves. They may meltdown.

If your partner melts down, and they might, don’t melt down with them. Remain calm and listen, listen, and then listen more. Let them speak. Allow them their space to converse even if what they’re saying feels combative. If you become combative or defensive, it all falls apart.

Don’t fold like a lawn chair.

Again, they may melt down. If this happens, outside of allowing them to speak as we covered in the prior section, you equally don’t want to fold up. In other words, you’ve thought this through, so their anger shouldn’t drive you to change what you want. You can stick to your beliefs without asserting yourself in a combative manner.

Come prepared with a small step towards the ultimate goal.

This one is super important. When you ask for an open relationship, make sure you have smaller steps prepared to pitch. Because at some point, your partner may say, “what does this new way look like?” You don’t want to respond by painting a super dramatic picture of change. Instead, have a small step ready, such as “we’ll both spend a week and explore the benefits and downsides to an open relationship and reconvene on Sunday. Thoughts?”

This step instills some trust that you’re not taking the decision to embark on an open relationship lightly.

What Do You Do If You Want An Open Relationship, But Your Partner Doesn’t?

If you’ve followed all of the steps and your partner doesn’t seem amicable to even a small change in the open relationship direction, you’ll need to do some soul searching.

First, you’ll need to consider what brought you to the open relationship revelation in the first place. Was your relationship tanking? If so, are there other ways to fix the relationship and is your partner willing to help with those?

Is this a general desire having nothing to do with how happy or unhappy you are with your partner? In other words, do you want an open relationship in any circumstances?

If the latter is true, you’ll probably struggle in monogamous relationships. Signing up for an open relationship dating site without your partner’s consent is harmful to you, your partner, and those you meet on your online open relationship journey. Remember, an open relationship is a serious, mindful and thoughtful journey. Someone using an open relationship dating website isn’t looking to home wreck.


Asking for an open relationship isn’t easy. The way you frame the ask and where you ask are important influencers for how your partner may react. You’ll need to deeply think through why you feel an open relationship will improve life for not only you, but your partner – and be ready to eloquently convey this.

If your partner ultimately doesn’t want an open relationship, you’ll need to consider what it is you’re really wanting and decide an appropriate way forward.