Dating Someone In An Open Relationship: What Is It Like?

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Dating Someone In An Open Relationship

The concept of dating has evolved. Years back, people dealt with arranged marriages, and I’m not even sure if dating was a thing. 

Today, you choose whoever you want to date, and you are allowed to have multiple partners at a go, provided you all agree to it.

Have you ever dated someone in an open relationship? Better still, are you thinking of trying it for the first time? 

Perhaps you are just curious about open relationships.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. This post explains what it’s like to date someone in an open relationship, including the dos and don’ts. 

But first, let’s explore the meaning of an open relationship so we are all on the same page.

What is an Open Relationship?

An open relationship is a romantic relationship where lovers consent to pursue sex or emotional attachment with third parties. 

As the name suggests, it’s a non-monogamous relationship, so partners are not exclusive. However, there are rules that govern the whole thing. Partners come up with the rules and agree to follow them.

Romantic partners may agree to be in an open relationship from the start. Alternatively, the relationship might start as a monogamous one and be classified as open after some time.

Dating Someone in an Open Relationship

Dating someone in an open relationship seems like an uphill task. And though it has worked out fine for some, it’s not a one-horse race. 

Dating alone has its share of challenges, let alone dating someone in an open relationship. There are rules to be followed, and worst of all, you are not entitled to almost anything.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Of course, there are advantages, but I just want you to know what you are getting into. 

You are a unicorn, so you should know your place to avoid getting hurt.

What to Expect When Dating Someone in an Open Relationship

Knowing what to expect will help you understand more, make it work, and protect your emotions. Some of your expectations:

When Dating Someone in an Open Relationship

There will be rules

As I said, these rules are set by the parties in an open relationship. Mostly to protect the relationship and those involved.

Unfortunately, you, as a third party, are affected by these rules regardless of whether you were involved in making them or not.

A common rule in open relationships is that parties should not invest in a connection with a third party in a way that pulls the bond existing in the relationship. To observe this rule, the person you are dating should not invest in you. 

And not just emotional, in any way that drifts them from the already existing relationship.

Another thing is that the person you are dating should tell their partner about you. So you need to accept that there will be a controlling force, and you can’t do anything about it unless you agree to date the two of them.

On the brighter side, you are allowed to date other people. This means you can enjoy the whole dating experience with someone else. 

However, it might be complicated since you also have to share this with the person you are dating. 

Man in an open relationship seeing his girlfriend meet with another man
Man in an open relationship seeing his girlfriend meet with another man.

Other rules in open relationships include:

  • Tell the other person if you’re feeling jealous or insecure.
  • Don’t get into a romantic relationship with someone who might want monogamy.
  • Practicing safe sex with third parties.
  • Practicing safe behavior, that is (no getting involved with liars, cheaters, or people “on a break”).
  • Honesty means telling each other if there is a change in your connection.

You will always come second

If you accept this, then you are good to go. The person you are dating will never leave their partner for you. Actually, parties to an open relationship have a much stronger bond.

If you can trust someone enough to date other people and be okay with it, that connection is insane. 

Especially if the relationship started as an exclusive one, the parties enjoy each other’s company for more than two years, cultivate their connection, and opt to open the relationship. 

You will enjoy intimacy and spending time together, but you will always come second. 

You need to set boundaries

Setting emotional boundaries will save you a great deal. Like in any other relationship, emotional boundaries protect you from emotional manipulation. And sorry to say this, but you can be easily manipulated when dating someone in an open relationship.

That’s why you need to set your own healthy boundaries. This way, you can tell when you are being taken advantage of and walk away if you feel unsafe. 

One such essential boundary is being emotionally independent. This means getting your emotions in order so you don’t invest in something that won’t last. 

And, the best way to achieve this is by understanding precisely what you are getting into. 

Dating Someone in an Open Relationship: Can it Work?

Two men kissing a girl
Two men kissing a girl.

Yes, but you should know it won’t be easy. Some have tried and it worked. You just need to understand your place, set your rules, work on your emotions, and you are good to go.

However, it’s not entirely up to you. The other person has to put in an effort too. That’s where communication comes in. For the relationship to thrive, you should lay everything on the table and embrace honesty.

By thriving, I don’t mean marriage or something permanent. I mean, having a healthy dating experience and enjoying it as long as it lasts. 

Whatever you agree with the person you are dating, you should stick by it. And remember, you are allowed to make adjustments or walk away if you feel it’s not working for you. 

Dating should be fun, not draining for whatever reason.

Is there Cheating when you are Dating Someone in an Open Relationship?

Well, this depends entirely on the type of relationship you instigated. Did you discuss cheating and sleeping with other people?

In a normal relationship, cheating is often when your partner sleeps with another person. But in the case of an open relationship, your partner is already sleeping with another person, probably even more than one.

I would say it’s cheating if you agreed not to sleep with another person outside of what you have. 

What I mean is that the person is already in an open relationship, so it’s you and the other person. 

What you agree on should determine if it’s cheating or not. It can even be considered cheating because they didn’t tell you about it, not because they slept with another person. 

If that’s what you agreed on. 

A girl visits her boyfriend's house and sees him with another woman.
A girl visits her boyfriend’s house and sees him with another woman.

The Do’s and Don’ts When Dating Someone in an Open Relationship  


  • Communicate with the person.
  • Know your place.
  • Enjoy yourself.
  • Follow the rules.


  • Don’t take each other for granted.
  • Don’t expect everything to be smooth.
  • Don’t forget to protect yourself. 
  • Don’t let the relationship overwhelm you.

Final Thoughts

The main purpose of dating someone in an open relationship is to have fun. After all, the relationship won’t lead to anything permanent.

So as you date, have all the fun in the world. And most of all, keep your emotions in check, so you don’t get invested and start feeling jealous. I’m emphasizing this because it happens. I don’t blame those who get attached. It’s easy to fall for someone when you spend time together and get intimate.

Unfortunately, the other person might not grow attached, mostly because they are used to the game. 

Therefore, always keep in mind that this is not a permanent thing.  

Photo of author


Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.