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10 Hidden Signs He Wants an Open Relationship & How to Confront Them

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
A young couple in bed, the man on busy his phone and the woman laying down faced away from him, with an empty expression on her face.
There are many signs that suggest a partner may want to change a monogamous relationship to a non-monogamous or open one. People may find it very difficult to raise the possibility of opening their relationship to a partner, particularly if they have been monogamous from the beginning. Let's take a look at these signs and how to bring them up to your partner to gain clarity.

You have been together for quite a while, and you've always felt that you have a good routine and close relationship. But recently, things have shifted. You can't put your finger on what is wrong, but you feel that there is something he isn't sharing with you. Before you end up back on a dating site like EliteSingles or OurTime to find a new match, here are ten signs he wants an open relationship and tips on how to talk to him about them.

1. He Is Interested in Who You Are Attracted To

He may notice you looking at someone in public or characters in a movie or TV show and ask if you think they're attractive. You can dig a little deeper by answering him and observing his response.

Is he pleased when you admit your attractions and tell him what is attractive to you? A lack of jealousy and comparison can indicate that he is interested in non-monogamy.

2. He Reads Books or Watches Shows About Open Relationships

These might be non-fiction books, documentaries, reality TV, or maybe pornography about threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes. If this is new behavior, it is more likely this is a sign of interest. The best way to check is to simply ask him about it.

3. He Flirts With Others and Includes You

Has his banter increased? Does he include you in the banter? He might ask the person he is flirting with if they find you attractive or flirt openly with you and others.

Again, open communication is essential in any relationship, so ask him about this behavior. You'll probably want to avoid having this intimate conversation in public, so save this conversation for when you get home.

4. He Talks About Bringing Someone Else Into Bed While Having Sex

Talking about bringing another person into your sexual relationship excites him. He might mention a specific person that you both know, a celebrity, or someone you saw together when out.

This might just be a fantasy of his. We all have fantasies that we don't necessarily want to enact. Explore what excites him about this fantasy, and don't shy away from asking if he wants to actually try this.

5. He Wants to Go to Sexual Events Together

He may suggest attending a strip club, burlesque show, swingers club, or sex party. If he suggests a swingers club or sex party, this obviously isn't a hidden sign. However, the others may well be. Ask him what excites him to figure out more about what he wants.

6. He Talks About People in Open Relationships

If he makes a point of telling you about other open relationships, he likely wants you to ask questions and hopes you will be interested in learning more. If you are interested, this is a good place to start a dialogue about his desires and yours.

7. He Doesn't Get Jealous

If he is committed to you and doesn't get jealous even when someone else shows interest, it could be because he enjoys the idea of you having sex with someone else. This is especially true if he enjoys it when you show attraction to others.

As with earlier signs, directly asking him about this is the best way to find out what is going on.

8. He Has Previous Experience With Open Relationships

Many people are non-monogamous by nature but are uncomfortable owning that by starting non-monogamous relationships. Family and cultural pressure to find "the one" and "settle down" leads to people suppressing these desires.

In time, the need for non-monogamy asserts itself, leaving them in a very difficult position. How do they tell a partner who agreed to a monogamous relationship that they are not monogamous?

If you discover a partner has previous experience in open relationships, discuss this in detail. Ask if he identifies as non-monogamous or open. Ask if the experiences were fleeting or longer-term, if they were positive or negative, and how they affected his other relationships.

9. His Grooming Improves

People tend to get more relaxed about their grooming and style once they're in a more committed stage of their relationship. A sudden improvement in grooming can be a sign that he is trying to make a good impression on potential partners and that he is interested in opening up the relationship. It can also signify that he may already be pursuing another relationship.

Tell your partner that you have noticed the change and ask what has prompted it.

10. He Jokes About Having a Threesome, Foursome, or Moresome

When you're out in public, he points to someone and jokes about having a threesome with them. If you ask if he is serious, he may laugh it off if he is concerned about your response. If he detects rejection or upset in your voice, it may be difficult for him to own his desires.

Have an honest conversation with him and ask if there is any truth to these jokes. Make sure he knows his desires are important too.

Open Relationships Aren't for Everyone

Open relationships work well for some people and not for others. They require excellent communication skills and only work well when both people consent and are clear about what they want.

If your partner is exhibiting these signs, the best way to handle it is to start an open, honest conversation. Ask sensitive questions and listen to the answers without making any assumptions (especially about cheating). If it turns out he wants an open relationship, don't panic. There is lots of help available. Speak to a therapist or coach with experience working with couples considering non-monogamy or other alternative relationship styles.

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey holds a PhD. in clinical psychology and is a certified advanced GSRD therapist. She specializes in sex and intimacy with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Lori also has two successful blogs and is a renowned published author.