A Recipe for Open Relationships

Juan Herrera
7 min readSep 9, 2019



Open relationships are just one of the many types of relationships you can have, they are not for everybody, yet you have the freedom to shape your own.


  • In this post, I will use the word partner very often. Although, in some cases, I’ll switch to the word her. It should be interpreted as a gender-neutral pronoun, so feel free to reword it as you wish.
  • In the same way, I draw stick figures. They have no race or gender either.
  • Gender-specific emojis are chosen randomly.

Over the past few years, I have had open relationships with my partners. When my friends found out about it they were awestruck. They felt a mixture of fear and wonder.

This article summarizes these interactions and the questions they asked me:

1. How does it work? 🤔

An open relationship is a type of relationship in which you can see other people. See other people is a very vague term, but it is vague on purpose since open relationships can be tailored in many ways:

In open relationships, some couples allow sex, but not holding hands. Some allow kissing but never having sex. Some allow sex but only under casual circumstances and without happening more than once. It can be as complex as you deem.

But don’t you get jealous? 😐

I do.

But we dodge jealousy by not explicitly sharing details of the people we see, if any.

So you lie to each other? 😒

No. If my partner explicitly wants to know the details I will share them. A typical conversation could go like this:

  • My partner: So how was the party?
  • Me: It was very fun, we danced all night, and had a great time with friends.

At this point, my partner can ask further questions if she wants to

  • My partner: So…did you dance with anyone in particular?
  • Me: Actually, yes, I met someone cool at the party.

She can ask further if she wants to

  • My partner: Did you hook up with this person?
  • Me: Yes, I did.

Having this conversation can be heartbreaking from the jealousy standpoint. So that's why people like me, choose not to have it.

As a side note, I believe jealousy comes from my own insecurities. If I had a higher level of self-mastery I’d probably be able to endure that conversation, but I’m still not there yet.

On the other hand, we have a presence commitment, which also helps.

A presence commitment? 🤔

Yes, it means that the moment we meet, we forget about everybody else. We do not flirt or chat with others but instead, we focus solely on ourselves. By being 100% present and committed to the time we are sharing together, we get a reassuring feeling that help us enjoy ourselves and forget about jealousy.

2. But why do you need to see other people if you already have a relationship? 🤷‍♂️

I don’t need to see other people, I just enjoy the freedom of being able to do it if I ever feel like it.

I don’t always meet people I resonate with or people I feel attracted to, but when I do, I want to spend time with them, hear what they have to say, and explore different layers of connection (verbal, physical, or even spiritual).

Does your partner enjoy that freedom as well? 💁

Yes. Some partners confessed that they were reluctant at first. Having an open relationship can be frightening, but once they realized they had the freedom to decide who they wanted to spend their time with, as opposed to being conditioned to spend it with me, our relationship strengthened. The time we spent together was not an obligation, but a conscious choice.

But aren’t you afraid of your partner leaving with another person? 😨

No. The way I see it, there are two possibilities:

  1. 👎🏻 My partner meets someone who doesn’t meet her expectations.
  2. 👍🏻 My partner meets someone who surpasses her expectations.

My partner meets someone who doesn’t meet her expectations 👎🏻

With time, even the most exciting relationships can become a routine. Meeting new people will allow my partner to better appreciate our relationship by having a point of reference.

When I date someone outside my relationship and it doesn’t work, I gain perspective to recognize how lucky I am to have my partner, and how amazing our relationship actually is. That strengthens our relationship.

My partner meets someone who surpasses her expectations 👍🏻

We are about 7.7 billion humans on Earth. How can you be so sure that you are the absolute best match for your current partner? Perhaps you are because the two of you are connected in a more spiritual way, but if that’s not the case, chances are that there are a least a few hundred people who would be a great match for your partner as well.

If your partner is lucky enough to meet someone she resonates more with, why deprive them of that possibility? Wouldn’t you feel joy to see your partner happy, even if it’s not with you?

So, in the end, both outcomes are actually positive.

3. Have you ever been in love? ❤️

That depends on your definition of love.

My perspective of love, which is likely biased, and probably mistaken, makes a strong differentiation. If you:

  • Can’t stop thinking about your partner.
  • Expect to spend the rest of your life with him/her.
  • Feel like there’s no better match for you.

I call that attachment. Moreover, if you:

  • Treat the other with respect, kindness, and empathy.
  • Have a relationship based on principles such as honesty and integrity.
  • Want the other to be happy without neglecting your own well-being.

Then I call that love. Based on this, you can reach 2 conclusions:

  • Attachment and love do not exclude each other, in fact, relationships can be a mixture of the two.
  • Love is not restricted to partners, you can love your friends and family as well.

So yes, I’ve been in love, with my family, friends, and every single partner.

4. How do you get into an open relationship? ✋

When I am starting to date someone I usually say it at an early stage. This way we align expectations with clarity and honesty from the beginning.

What if they don’t want to? 🙅‍♂️

When expectations are not aligned it is better to let go right away instead of embarking in a relationship that will likely fail. Letting go, of course, is harder if you are attached. So the earlier you mention it, the better.

What if I’m in a relationship already? 👭

Relationships are always free to take the shape you and your partner want, but that is difficult if you:

  • Don’t talk about it.
  • Consider it taboo.
  • Feel attached to each other.

Over the past few years, I’ve met a few couples who have chosen to shape their relationship into something that suits them more. For example:

  • 👫 I met this couple who didn’t have an open relationship but would still go to a swinger club from time to time. It suited them because they felt more comfortable when they knew their partner was only meeting someone casually in their presence.
  • 👬 I also met this couple who had an open relationship but lived together. So they defined their own set of rules, such as forbidding the use of their house for dating purposes.
  • 👭 Or the other day I met this couple who had an open relationship but would only engage in sexual activity if their partner was present.

Therefore, the term “Open Relationship” can fall short when it comes to defining the shape of your relationship, and “Consensual Non-Monogamy” becomes a more accurate umbrella term that encloses the different possibilities.

The End 🙌🏻

Open relationships are just one type of relationship, and it will certainly not suit everybody. The truth is that this post was never about open relationships but about freedom.

The freedom you and your partner have to define the shape of your relationship. The freedom to try. The freedom to choose for yourselves. The freedom to connect in your own unique way. A freedom that is not tampered by culture, religion, or society, but supported through honesty, consent, and love.

Special thanks to Susie Sahim for validating and proof-reading! 🙏🏻