Closing the book on an open relationship

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couple sitting on a couchIt seemed like a good idea at the time.’

If that’s how you describe an open relationship, it may be time to shut it down.

Open relationships are considered by some to enhance a primary relationship. Couples agree to open up their relationship for various reasons, including differing sex drives, a desire to spice things up, or the belief they aren’t good at monogamy. However, an open relationship can also drive a couple to the brink of separation. Getting down to semantics, open relationships on the brink may have nothing to do with the open aspect, but everything to do with the couple’s relationship itself. Closing this Pandora’s Box may be just as difficult as it was opening it.

Reasons an open relationship can fail

A failed open relationship is nothing to be ashamed of. It can be tricky though: how do you graciously close the book on an open relationship? The secret seems to be good communication – with your partner and with yourself.

First, determine what needs to end: the open arrangement or the entire relationship? If it’s the type of open relationship that was the problem, you should discuss this with your partner. If you feel that it might be time to shut down the entire relationship, remember these tips:

  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – know the difference between ending the relationship and ending the open aspect.
  • Take a lessons-learned approach –Take stock of what worked, what didn’t work, and figure out how to apply these lessons to your relationship and to other aspects of your life.
  • Keep the communication open – having clear expectations about what’s happening next will help both partners transition to the next step, whatever that may be.
  • At least you tried – some people live their lives in fear; fear of failing, fear of being vulnerable, fear of pursuing their dreams. Trying an open relationship in good faith takes courage and is risky emotional business. Be proud of yourself for veering out of your comfort zone, even if it didn’t work out.

Whether you’re closing the book on an open relationship or deciding to move on, get the support you need to take care of yourself because strong emotions will come up to the surface. Sharing your feelings with your partner, a trusted friend or a professional, can mean the difference between isolation and moving forward with more self-awareness than you started out with.

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