Transitioning into non-exclusive/open relationships
Received this question in my inbox earlier today. It is a common question so I figured I would tackle it for everyone else too!
Question: I’m seeing this one girl, but want to keep it casual. What do I need to do to keep her from wanting more? I get the feeling that she may want to push this into a relationship, which I do not want (although this girl is pretty rad, and I met her through close friends, so I don’t want to burn this bridge). I would like to transition this into an open relationship. Bottom line: I want her to realize that I don’t want to be exclusive without hurting her or leading her on.
Thanks for your question!
Until she brings up the “What are we?” type question/talk, you honestly don’t need to do anything other than keep things casual (date once or twice a week), and make sure you communicate that you go with the flow and like to take things slow.
You’ll have to deal with this issue at some point though:
So you just met a really cool girl, you’ve hung out a few times, gone on some dates, and then she drops the bomb on you: “So… what are we?” Shit! You’ve been going with the flow and have managed to keep expectations in check up until this point, but the relationship has finally reached the point where the girl wants to know if this is something a little more official. This is a BIG stage in a relationship. This is a “make it or break it” moment. Yikes! That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if you can handle this question with ease (I will show you how), you don’t have to jump into anything quicker than you want. You maintain that control every man desires (to a realistic extent), and you get to “keep the pants” (ie: the power, again to a realistic extent) too.
Ok so what do you do when this question is brought up?
First, what I’m about to tell you MUST BE CONGRUENT. If it isn’t congruent, and you don’t TRULY BELIEVE IT, than don’t bother because you will just look like an asshole. But if you do truly believe it and ARE congruent with it, than it will be perfect because it creates a win/win situation (for both you and your girl).
Girl: So, what are we?
You: Well, this is actually something I’ve been thinking about too, because I actually do like you (true) and feel like we have that connection (true). It’s just that, I don’t know if you feel like this too, but maybe you do, but like, you know how when you meet someone and you have that connection right away, that chemistry, and so you start hanging out and you JUMP into a relationship super fast, before you even really know each other, and so now you’ve put a bunch of expectations and labels on your relationship.
So then you are boyfriend and girlfriend for a month or two, and everything is great, and you are getting to know each other on a deeper level, which is only possible after spending a bunch of time together, but then you start to find out not only the good things, but also the faults. You begin to fight over these little things, but because you didn’t take the necessary time INITIALLY to get to know each other before you jumped into a committed relationship, one person either has to CHANGE who they are OR the other person has to deal with the others faults (which may or may not be possible).
So eventually after a month or two all you’re doing is fighting and you end up breaking up, which can only be explained because you rushed into a relationship before you actually knew the other person, and all it did was cause an emotional roller coaster.
To be honest… I’ve done that TOO many times, so now I like to just go with the flow and take things easy. I like to get to know everyone very well, you know like, your girlfriend/boyfriend should be your best friend right? So that can only happen once you’ve known them for long enough to get to know them deep down, and now I like to wait, and not rush into things.
I recently gave a TEDx talk on “Escaping Video Game Addiction”. You can watch the video here.
The best part about what I just said is that the girl will 99% of the time AGREE with you about it, because almost everyone who has had a boyfriend/girlfriend or two has experienced this exact scenario, because it legitimately IS the reason why so many relationships fail so quickly.
People just don’t take the time to actually get to know one another anymore. It also connects with her on an emotional level because she is recalling the feelings she had (the ups and downs), so it makes sense to her. You are explaining it to her in a way that she will understand (emotions). You are communicating in an effective way – the message is clear.
Now the thing you need to consider is this: Non-exclusive/open relationships have their faults too.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- There is a risk factor. You basically just told her that you aren’t exclusive, meaning she could go meet another guy. If this other guy is willing to go exclusive, there’s a good chance she will take him up on it.
- Jealousy is not appropriate. You cannot be jealous of her with other guys, and vice versa. This is one of the toughest ones to deal with, but you NEED to understand that it is completely inappropriate to feel jealous when you chose this path.
- You must be firm and strong. You must set rules to keep things casual; keep things positive. I wouldn’t recommend seeing each other more than once or twice a week. Also remember that you still need to go on dates, you can’t just hang out at home and watch movies together. How boring!
- Must be congruent. KNOW why you are in open relationships, because that will be unique to each person. For example I typically go into open relationships because I want to keep things casual and continue to work on improving myself. I have many goals and ambitions – other priorities, and I just don’t feel like I have the energy to take a relationship seriously right now.
I also want to go over a few misconceptions you may run into:
- That being in an open relationship automatically makes you a “player”.
- Being in an open relationship means you are not committed to the girl.
Wrong. You just aren’t exclusive, but you are still committed to moving that relationship forward, potentially to an exclusive relationship.
- Being in an open relationship is the guys choice and not mutual.
Wrong again. For an open relationship to work it MUST be a two-way street. Although if the guy is firm in his commitment to stay out of an exclusive relationship, the girl may only have two choices: 1. Be in an open relationship with him, or 2. Lose the guy.
- Open relationships lack the connection that an exclusive relationship does.
Wrong!!! When I’m in an open relationship with a girl, I am doing that because I actually care about her and HAVE that connection; otherwise I would just keep it to a friendship/booty-call type scenario (again being a 2-way street).
Well, first of all, I hate that term “player” because to me, a “player” is someone who isn’t upfront about his intentions, and he leads girls on. Example: If a girl refused to sleep with a guy unless she was his girlfriend, a player would make her his girlfriend in order to get laid, and then treat her like shit afterwards. This method I discussed above is VERY upfront and VERY honest. There is no manipulation or deceit (IMPORTANT).
Time to wrap this up, but what I want to re-iterate in closing is that being able to transition a new relationship into an non-exclusive/open relationship is all about being upfront and honest with your partner.
It’s all about being congruent; having that belief that this is the approach you would like to take. It’s all about understanding it must be a win-win situation for both of you. It’s also being willing to take the risks involved: you have the potential to lose the girl.
My TEDx Talk Video
In September of 2013 I was asked to give a TEDx talk in Boulder, Colorado on Escaping Video Game Addiction. It was an incredible honor. Although this talk speaks to video game addiction, it’s truly a talk about the freedom to live your life on your own terms.
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