What to do when your boyfriend or girlfriend suggests an open relationship

Jewell asks: I’ve been in this relationship for 2 years, but during the journey we broke up for like 6 months. I couldn’t move on with my life, just found myself thinking of him every passing day. After a while we got in touch again. We started talking and I found out we’d broken up cause of just a misunderstanding. We got back together, but things haven’t been the same since then. This relationship is now from a distance. We only talk once in a while. This is hurting me so badly but I just love him too much. He told me he loves me but that I shouldn’t be blinded by my love for him. He said I should have another relationship to check if I can love another. I should enjoy my life as a student; he doesn’t want to restrict me. I should make him part of my world, but not my whole world. I find this confusing. Should I continue in this relationship? Though he tells me he loves me, he wants me to determine what I want. We hardly talk and if you think I should continue, what should I do to make this relationship work?

Hi Jewell –


I appreciate your asking me these things, but I think you’re asking the wrong dog.  The only one who can answer these questions is him.  But I’d ask them in different ways:


First, what does he want from you?  What does he want in this relationship?  Is he only concerned about the future (maybe he’s testing to see how committed you’d be over time; after all, you guys did break up for six months, so he might be scared to commit if you’re not fully in)?  Or is he unsure about things as they are, and maybe looking to get involved with other people, and would feel better about it if you did the same?


Second, where does he see this relationship going?  Is he thinking about marriage?  Is he thinking past next week?


Third, why are things so distant?  Does he like it this way, or is he frustrated too, the way you are?


And fourth, what does he mean by “part of your world but not your whole world?”  What part of your world does he want to be?  (For example, if you saw how I spend my day, you’d see lots of different activities, from sleeping to chasing squirrels to barking at passers-by to answering questions here… but I’d still say my human Handsome is my whole world.  I’m just that crazy about him.  And he feels the same about me.)


Try these out on him.  And see what he says.  If he pushes the questions away, that might mean he’s not as interested in the relationship as he once was.  And maybe it’s time to let it go, even without the misunderstanding that broke you up before.  But if he gives you good, real answers, you might learn a lot about him, in ways that could really help your relationship grow.


And either way, let me know what happens!



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