Open Relationship Rules and 8 Tips for Navigating Them

Written by Juicebox

Open relationships aren’t the oddity they use to be. Chances are that you know someone in some form of non-traditional, non-monogamous relationship. Maybe you’ve given it a try yourself. Brianna Rader, founder of the Juicebox Love+Sex explains: “Traditional monogamy is the default option in our society, but people forget how daunting an expectation it can be, especially since we expect our partner to fulfill all our needs until death”. Open relationships may seem unmanageable if you haven’t had experience with them. But just like more traditional relationships, there are better practices, or open relationship rules to help you navigate them successfully.

Whether you are interested in exploring an open relationship or just want to educate yourself, its best to start with the vocabulary, open relationship rules, and common situations to help understand the basics. 

Ethical Non-monogamy

Ethical non monogamy is a blanket term to describe any relationship involving more than two romantic or sexual partners. In this all parties are respected and aware of the nature of the relationship. This means that all partners involved are aware of the other partner(s) other relationships, and enthusiastically consent to whatever specific form or relations their situation involves. The appeal of this kind of relationship is that you get your sexual and social needs fulfilled from several sources/people. Diversity in how (and from whom) you get your needs met helps keep you from having any one person responsible to meet “all your needs”. This can go a long way towards helping you create healthy, thriving relationships from casual hook-ups to friends-with-benefits and beyond.

Open Relationships

Open relationships focus more on fulfillment of sexual needs outside of a relationship and tend to be non-romantic. This can take many forms, from tinder hookups, swinging with your partner, and to larger events like play parties and group sex. These events are useful if you fall in love easily, and you don’t want to “be in a relationship” right now. But for those who are already in a relationship and are looking for more or different sexual fulfillment, the term monogamish covers couples who have activities outside of their relationship, but still have some form of commitment to each other.


Polyamory is a romantic relationship with more than one person at a time; with the root poly- meaning multiple and amor- meaning love. This can work in a lot of different ways but the two main categories these kinds of relationships can fall under are hierarchical and non-hierarchical. Hierarchical is when you have a primary partner, then secondary and so on. The partner higher in the hierarchy has more priority. Non-hierarchical relationships have all partners being treated equally in terms of time and decision making power for the relationship.

All this may sound simple, but in practice it can get complicated. If boundaries aren’t set and relationship status aren’t clear, things can go wrong and feelings can get hurt. To help avoid that, the experts at Juicebox have 8 open relationship rules for being respectful and still having fun.

8 Open Relationship Rules To Get You Started

Now that you understand the basic terminology, here are some open relationship rules to help couples explore other partners while retaining respectful boundaries with their significant other. Before opening up your relationship, be sure to talk with your partner about other expectations or open relationship rules that meet both of your needs.

1. Limit sex to 1x a month

For most people, it’s really hard to “fall in love” and “stay in love” if you only have sex with each other once every 28-30 days. For some folks, sex twice a month can work, especially if everyone follows the rest of the Protocols. The more frequently you have sex with the same person (especially GREAT sex), the closer you are to “having a relationship” whether you’re calling it that or not.

2. Limit how you stay in contact/communicate

Be conscious of how you’re staying in touch with your lovers/hookups. If you’re sexting/texting/calling/hanging out with each other every day or several times a week, and you weren’t doing that before, you may unconsciously be sliding into “relationship mode”. If you find yourself Facebook stalking your lover or getting upset that you don’t see each other or talk “enough,” realize that they’ve unintentionally become your “dopamine dealer.”

3. Don’t do sleepovers, beware of morning sex

Having an unintentional sleepover (you have sex ‘til late in the night and it’s just more practical to crash in the same bed, or you accidentally fall asleep on each other and, boom!, it’s morning!)… or banging each other the next morning can flip the “you’re dreamy” switch.

4. No trips/weekend getaways together

Long weekends and trips together, by their nature, include sleepovers and morning sex! Danger! Danger! Going away on a trip with a lover, having several days of sex, lots of pillow talk, sharing meals together, waking up next to each other = dating and having a relationship, doesn’t it? It’s a perfect recipe for falling in love or having someone fall in love with you.

5. Talk openly about what is and isn’t working

Build into even your “most casual” of hook-ups that everyone can talk openly about what’s going on for them. It makes for better sex, healthier hook-ups, and less drama. For a professional, outside perspective, try working with a sex & relationship coach to help you navigate an open relationship more smoothly.

6. Thank folks within 24-hours

Send a fun and/or silly (yet respectful!) text or voicemail within 24-hours thanking them.  Sometimes we get caught up in our insecurities about sex, especially casual sex. Sending a message letting them know that you think they’re awesome often goes a long. Let them know that you feel good about your time together and that they shouldn’t worry. It also makes you look like a class act, which you are!

7. Always practice safer sex

A) Make sure your safer sex conversation is before sex. B) Use condoms for penetrative sex. C) Get tested at least twice a year. D) Have sex with people who do A-C and will notify you if they test positive for something.

8. Respect people’s privacy

Bragging or gossiping isn’t sexy or cool. It’s okay to be excited about all the great sex you’re having. If you are going to share though, make sure your partner is okay with it.

There are plenty of other open relationship rule to consider, and it can be intimidating. Whether you want to try it on your own or open up your relationship with your current partner, you may have doubts or insecurities, especially if it’s your first experience. This is where resources like Juicebox can help. With a variety of services like private counselling and an interactive community, you can work to understand your options and find a relationship that is both satisfying and healthy for you and your partner(s). 


“Open Relationship Rules and 8 Tips for Navigating Them.” Open Relationship Rules and 8 Tips for Navigating Them, Juicebox, 12 Jan. 2019,

Swinging Without Keys

Times have certainly changed; not just the way you meet other couples, but also the age people start swinging. It is no longer only for the generation over 35! Couples that want to meet other couples for more than a game of Memory are getting younger. They are more liberated and don’t feel the guilt the older generation felt about changing partners for sex.

But how do you know if swinging is you and your partner’s cup of tea?

  • Talk about your wishes and desires with your partner. Be sure to be subtle to figure out if he or she is willing to listen to your ideas. Make sure you tell each other it’s not about cheating, but about joining a lifestyle. Together! Don’t pressure your spouse.
  • If you both decide to explore swinging, then discuss your boundaries and establish ground rules. And don’t cross those lines!
  • Start off in a “slow” way. Go to a club, explore what turns you and your partner on. Meet and interact with people in the lifestyle and tell them you are newbies so they won’t come on too strong. Make a profile on a swingers site and be clear about your wishes and expectations. No more need to throw keys in a bowl and just accept the person you have to have sex with. You have a choice!

Read more about swinging,terms, do’s and don’ts.

What are your tips for newbies?

10 Erotic Resolutions

There is nothing more boring than people complaining about sexual boredom. That is so ordinary, lack luster and quite frankly rather lazy. When we decide to actively nurture our sexuality, we are taking a stand for living a vibrant and pleasure filled life. Re-charging your sexuality takes big action and consistency. When you make that extraordinary decision to take action; why not call it “a resolution to sexual evolution”. You are doing something remarkable – you have begun a life changing journey. Understand that your sexuality is a path to freedom and conduit to life force energy such as creativity.

When you choose to give time to your eroticism you are giving time to living a bigger, more abundant and more self fulfilled life.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around this idea that sex requires the same kind of willful intent that a great diet plan or financial management program does.We have to make space for sex. Sometimes, we have to move obstacles and even spend our resources on sex. More often than not, we have to challenge our own shame and dug in belief’s about our own bodies — and this is not small aspirations. Creating a new relationship with sex this year may bring with it some ups and downs. You may find yourself expanding and contracting. But that’s all normal. It’s all apart of your sexual evolutionary plan. Remember: Sex is something that you do; not something that you aspire to.

10 Erotic Resolutions

1. Decide that you want more sex in your life and commit to creating a year of pleasure and go on a Sex Safari!

2. First, do some research. Start with reading some important books about sexuality such as “The Erotic Mind” By Jack Morin, “Mating in Captivity” By Esther Perel, “Come as Your Are” by Emily Nagoski, “Woman on Fire” by Amy Jo Goddard, “The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, “‘More Than Two” by Franklin Veaux and “Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner by Pamela Madsen.

3. Then put the books down and go out and Investigate! There are many opportunities for getting out of your bedroom and into a safe, sane and extraordinary erotic adventures. There is everything from Hedonist Cruises geared for people who are exploring the “swinger” life style to attending smaller dip your toe in the water experiences for women and couples from Back to The Body: Sensuous Retreats to Women to smaller day long workshops. . The point is to go out and try something different! Go on a sexual safari and try out some new things. Thinking Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, go to Ohio and check out an incredible weekend conference called AIS Winter Wickedness Go by yourself or with a partner! It’s could be a wonderful play and study experience!

4. Not ready to leave the house yet? Buy a massage table and check out The Pleasure Mechanics- they have an incredible library of low cost videos and courses that will help you find a sexual adventure with your massage table and a lover.

5. Get some private instruction! Would you go on a safari without a guide? Many people would! But there is a huge advantage to working with a sex educator who will guide you on your journey. Some will simply coach you through your sexual resolutions, others will help you create your own list and others will go with you on all of your adventures; smoothing the way. There are lots of options. You hire a gym coach or a nutritionist – why wouldn’t you hire a sex educator to help you put together your plan?

6. Do something that involves your sensual eroticism but not your genitals Take a cooking class; go on a food or wine tour. Explore how sexy eating can be. Use your fingers and feed each other. Eat off of each others plates! Be naughty. Explore eating new kinds of foods Check out “Blind Dining” where you close off your eyes and go deeply into your other senses

7. Explore your prohibitions! What feels off limits to you erotically? Do you feel a charge around it? Explore it Try watching a video or reading a book about your prohibition. You might find that in your journey to exploring it – that you have found your biggest turn on

8. Spend a day walking through sex shops and lingerie shops without buy. Remember this is a safari. Just take in all of the possibilities for erotic expression. Why calls to you? Is there something that you want to explore further?

9. Slow down the adventure. Try to take your time exploring all of these experiences. We create erotic tension in our lives by nibbling at the edges and taking our time. There is no race. Savor!

10. Dare to be different. Our sexuality is uniquely our own. Don’t let what turns you on frighten you as long as it is “sane, safe, and consensual”. Forget date night. Try planning a big deal trip and creating the space needed around it or be spontaneous because nothing is more boring than know that you are going to have sex every Thursday at 9 p.m. Try spicing up this year with fooling around in the car; in a dark corner, or kissing under the moon light.