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We Asked People In Open Relationships To Share How They Make It Work

"I really learned that I am good enough."

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1. You might have to unlearn some of the things that society has taught you is "normal" in a relationship.

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"We are taught that jealousy is a sign of love; that possessiveness must mean that the person cares for you a great deal. In reality, while jealousy can tell you something, it's usually about the person experiencing it. When jealousy occurs between people who already have a basis of open, honest communication, it can help to strengthen bonds rather than driving a wedge between people."

—33/F/Lesbian

"Accept that love isn't about control or ownership. Love is about acceptance."

— 36/M/Pansexual

2. Before you jump in, feel free to hit the books and do a little research.

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"There is a ton of literature on open relationships ranging from personal stories and experiences to academic work. Understanding the history and cultural underpinnings of today's heteronormative relationships might help you to better describe exactly what you are wanting to achieve in your own relationship(s)."

—27/M/Gay

3. You're going to learn a lot about yourself in the process.

etsy.com

"I've learned how to process and learn from jealousy. In a monogamous relationship, jealousy is mixed with dishonesty and disloyalty. In non-monogamy, you realize the real source of jealousy is your own insecurity, and you learn how to deal with it as a team, instead of as adversaries."

— 31/F/Bisexual

"It forces you to deal with your own insecurities. I've been an open relationship for nearly 8 years and only in the past year have I really learned that I am good enough. Learning that has allowed me to explore other relationships, learn what I really want for my own life and be able to communicate my interests with my partners. It also allows me to keep a level of independence I never realized I wanted."

—28/Female/Straight

4. Get ready to do a lot of talking.

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"Open relationships can only flourish when you are willing to be 100% open and honest with each other. Once you've opened up to each other, opening your relationship will only bring you closer."

—25/F/Bisexual

"TALK! Talk talk talk! No amount of discussion will eliminate all the issues that might arise but it will help. But don't talk so much you don't make out — that can be the opposite problem."

— 41/M/Straight

5. Because communication, trust, and honesty is key for setting expectations.

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"That the feeling of anxiety and dread that comes with the unknown melts away with good communication and clearly set expectations. The part that sucks about getting cheated on is the dishonesty. Eliminate dishonesty and it doesn't feel like cheating anymore at all. It feels healthy and normal."

—21/F/Bisexual

6. Just because you're in an open relationship doesn't mean you can do ~whatever~ you please with whomever you please (unless that's previously agreed upon, of course).

BET

"Respect the boundaries you have set and never assume your partner is 'going to be okay' with something beyond what has been previously determined."

— 34/F/Bisexual

7. There is certainly no one way to be non-monogamous, so set boundaries you're comfortable with.

NBC

"Just know what polyamory means to YOU, because different people do things in different ways. Examine what you want from a non-monogamous relationship before going into one, set up boundaries with your partner, and don't break your own rules. Polyamory isn't for everyone, but it can be really beautiful and fun for everyone involved. Everyone has to be comfortable and clear on what's okay and what's not okay within your specific relationship."

— 28/genderqueer/bisexual

"Your open relationship does not need to follow any one script. You are only as limited as your imagination to create a relationship that meets your needs. Beware of people with a YDIW (you're doing it wrong) approach because your relationship doesn't look like theirs. You don't have to meet any criteria to be 'open enough' or live up to standards created by someone else. Be creative, be honest (with yourself and your partners), be tender."

— 31/F/Dyke

8. If your current relationship is already rocky, making it open probably isn't the best solution.

FOX

"Don't try to fix a broken relationship by opening it up. Making things more complicated never solved a problem."

—34/F/Bisexual

"If there are any problems in your existing relationship, it will not make them better. If anything, it will make your problems worse."

—21/F/Pansexual

9. Remember that safe sex isn't just about who you're sleeping with, but who your partner is sleeping with as well.

Stacy_t / Getty Images

"Be aware that if you're sleeping with multiple people, you need to practice safer sex with all of your partners and for your and your partners' health, GET TESTED REGULARLY. Don't be sloppy and put your and your SO's well-being at risk."

— 22/F/Bisexual

10. But it doesn't have to be all about sex — unless that's what you're looking for.

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"I mean, I suppose it can be, if that's what you're looking for. For us, it's mostly a lot of big dinners and board games."

— 36/F/Pansexual

11. Like any relationship, jealousy can still happen — it's all about how you handle it.

Bravo

"Jealousy happens, hurt feelings happen, and you have to talk about those things or they fester and cause issues. Also, things aren't going to work if one person brushes another's concerns away with excuses or disinterest/lack of concern."

—21/F/Bisexual

"I used to have serious trust issues before I started being in open relationships. I thought it would maybe enhance those issues, but instead, it re-enforced my faith in my primary partner and clarified to me the nasty roots of my trust issues. Jealousy isn't non-existent in open relationships, it's just handled in a much more loving, understanding way."

— 23/F/Bisexual

12. Feeling stuck? Try getting together and getting it all down on paper.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

"Listen to yourself. Understand what you want and need and then write it down and share it with your potential partners. Ask them to do the same and then start building the path to middle ground."

— 30/F/Pansexual

13. And when in doubt, remember these three words: Boundaries, intentions, and desire.

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"Communicate with your partner. Talk about boundaries, intentions and desires. Work together to ensure that communication will not cease. Spend time together and respect that jealousy will be there and talk about it."

— 31/Man/Straight

14. There will be challenges, so prepare to embrace them.

Dmitrii Guzhanin / Getty Images

"Accept that there will be challenges — challenges of jealousy, challenges against 'normal society thinking', and challenges that will make you a better person. Being in an open relationship will challenge many schools of thought about what is normal, but that's ok. Accept that this will not be easy, but be willing to accept the challenge of trying it and you'll be just fine."

—32/F/Open

15. Not everyone is going to "get" your relationship, or even agree with it.

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"I've learned that nobody owns anybody — not their sexuality, not their genitals, not their affections. Each of us owns ourselves, and it's our right and duty to ourselves to be accepted for who we are, however we are."

—54/M/Straight

"I'm tired of hearing that because my relationship is open it makes it less valid when, in reality, I love my partner very much."

—17/M/Pansexual

16. The whole experience might change the way you think about love and relationships.

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"Love can be different between partners. Love really can multiply, stretch and be fluid. I've also learned how to handle jealousy, high emotion, and communication much more than monogamous relationships."

—34/F/Pansexual

17. Not having fun? Maybe it's time to re-evaulate the situation.

Lifetime

"This is your person and it's meant to be fun. If it ever isn't fun or makes you uncomfortable — say something."

—28/female/ open

18. And remember that open relationships take a lot of work — just like any other relationship — but that's what makes them worth having.

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"If you don't communicate, the relationship will fail. If you don't plan with each other, people will be unsatisfied. If you don't respect boundaries or even ask what those boundaries are, you're not going to have fun. Always keep that in mind and your relationship will be as strong as ever."

—19/M/Bisexual

Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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