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It sounds impossible, right? After all, it takes two to tango. How can one person transform a relationship without the other one on board? It may sound a little sly and tricky, but in some cases, it's just what a couple needs to make the shift from bitterness to bliss. If you're asking how to solve relationship problems without breaking up, this concept is a great solution.


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But if stating your desire to be with other people would really cause such a rift in your relationship, Queen recommends addressing the underlying jealousy causing those feelings, potentially with a therapist. Or sometimes, one person is attracted to more than one gender and wants to explore relationships with people of a different gender than their partner.

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If one person would go nuts thinking about their partner with someone else and the other's totally chill with it, that might be another reason to open a relationship halfway. Queen recommends talking to your partner about it unless you know it'll stress them out and they won't be on board.

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That made me wonder: Can a relationship be open for only one person? It can't be given begrudgingly because one partner feels pressured.

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If you want a one-sided open relationship and your partner's not comfortable with it, you're best off either compromising on that front or ending the relationship altogether. If you're interested in hooking up with other people but don't want your partner to, bringing up this kind of arrangement may be scary, but it's a more honest way to get what you want than cheating.

In short, any relationship model is totally fine if both partners fully consent to it. It also helps if the person who's monogamous experiences compersion — happiness resulting from their partner's happiness. Or maybe one person is into a particular kink that their partner doesn't participate in.

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But both partners have to be totally OK with this arrangement to make it work, says Queen. Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen, PhD tells Bustle that arrangements do exist where one person can hook up with other people and the other can't. Differences in what Queen calls "jealousy tolerance" can also factor into the decision to have a half-open relationship.

Or is it unfair to hold each other to different standards?

A beginner’s guide to open relationships

By Suzannah Weiss. Just make sure you find a poly-friendly one.

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Sometimes, for example, one partner is asexualso the other needs to go elsewhere to get as much sex as they want. Often, there's a unique situation that makes this the best option. But like consent to sexconsent to a relationship must be enthusiastic. I've always been curious about open relationships, but I hate the thought of someone I'm dating hooking up with someone else.

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As open relationships are becoming more mainstream, many couples are becoming curious if this arrangement could be right for them.


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I am asked this question more than almost any other question about polyamory.