Open Relationships: Ground Rules and Staying Safe

December 04, 2020 3 min read

Open Relationships and  Ground Rules for Staying Safe - The Condom People

Open Relationships: Ground Rules and Staying Safe 

We’re lucky to live in a time where all kinds of healthy relationships are acceptable and encouraged. As such, things like non-monogamous relationships are on the rise. But how does such an arrangement work? And how do you go about approaching them for the first time? We take a look at what an open relationship is, how you can establish some ground rules, and why it’s so important to stay safe.

What are open relationships?

Let’s start with some of the basics. People often use the term ‘open relationship’ without knowing what it means. In reality, the exact definition often depends on how the people involved view it. For some people, it means a committed relationship where both partners are free to explore other sexual and/or romantic relationships. For others, it’s more of a polyamorous situation, where multiple people are in the same relationship.

One thing is certain; you can’t be in an open relationship without your partner(s) being aware of that fact. We can only describe such a situation as an affair. The central part of an open relationship is that you make the decision together and that everyone involved is fully informed.

What are some open relationship ground rules?

People who enter into open relationships often say the same thing – setting ground rules is an essential part. This allows everyone to be on the same page about the expectations and limits of such a setup. As such, there are several things to consider:


First and foremost, for an open relationship to be successful, everyone that’s involved needs to be honest. You have to have a frank discussion with your partner about whether such a choice is right for you and them. Talk about your concerns, hopes, feelings, and what you ultimately want out of your relationship.

Physical limits

Sex can be a healthy part of any open relationship. However, it’s important that you establish sexual boundaries before you get started. What are you, and aren’t you, both comfortable with? Are you allowed to try things your main partner doesn’t enjoy? Is kissing allowed? Where are you allowed to have sex? At home? All these questions need considering, and you should only proceed if both partners are happy and comfortable.

Emotional limits

Of course, with the excitement of a new sexual partner can come emotional intimacy. As with setting physical limits, you need to discuss where your emotional boundaries are. Are regular dates okay? Can you spend several nights with another partner? Are people in your social circle off-limits? These questions will be different for each couple.

How can you stay safe in an open relationship?

Once you’ve got your basic ground rules, in place, it’s time to think about how you’re going to stay safe in your open relationship. Taking care of your and your partners’ physical and emotional wellbeing is vital for the relationship to succeed.

Use protection

Condoms play a part in many healthy sexual relationships. If you or any of your partners have a penis, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect against STIs and unwanted pregnancy (if that’s a possibility). What’s more, condoms can add fun and excitement to the bedroom, whether through flavoured fun or enhanced pleasure.

Check your health regularly

If you’re meeting new sexual partners with some frequency, everyone involved should be checking their sexual health. There are plenty of STI clinics throughout the UK, helping you make sure that you protect your own health, as well as that of your partners.

Have regular catch-ups

Communication is a vital part of an open relationship. To make sure everyone’s emotional health is taken care of, you should schedule regular catch-ups. You can discuss how it’s working, how you’re feeling, and whether any adjustments need making.

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