We Opened Our Relationship But I’m Unsure of the Rules

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I just finished reading “How I (Still) Make My Open Relationship Work” and wanted to ask you a few questions, as I am in a very new situation. I recently have moved to Europe for 3 (ish) months, my boyfriend is in California, we have every intention of staying together, and we have been together for 4 years. We had a bump in the road a few years ago where we both sort of ‘cheated‘ (I kissed someone when I was drunk, and he had some things going on, but nothing extreme). We worked through all of it and are very happy, very open, and communicate about EVERYTHING now. I can honestly say he is the only person I want to be with, the only person I truly love. I’ve told him everything from when I had someone reappear in my life and how my feelings are about them and even when I have had fantasies of other men, and of course nothing compares to him, but I disclose it anyway. Likewise, he tells me his concerns.

So my question here is regarding while I am away. We had a very long talk through texts while I was in Spain about sex, about what would happen when we saw each other, we brought up new fantasies, and just random topics of the like. We are meeting up in Japan at the end of the 3 months of not seeing each other, and I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind if when we were there we found kinky things to do like love hotels, and it would be fine with me if he wanted to get a massage with a happy ending, lol. He in turn mentioned that he wouldn’t mind if I enjoyed dancing with other guys while on my trip, and if a make out were to occur while dancing, and it happened naturally, then he gives his “permission” and whatnot. We are both very sexual beings, and we talked about it a lot, and I felt very happy to hear him say this, but still unsure if it would actually happen.

So a few weeks have passed, and I never thought this would happen, but basically I was dancing with some friends at a music festival, and we were all having fun, and a guy who is my friend just leaned in and asked me if he could kiss me. I smiled because it seemed right, and it happened. It was friendly and fun and only a couple seconds long… so I feel like it very much abides by this “rule” we have made.

My problem here is, I haven’t told my boyfriend yet. I do not know how to tell him. I want it to be light and easy to tell, but we are far away from each other so it would have to be on Skype. He didn’t 100% say if he would want to know. But he also mentioned he could find it sexy to hear about how I turned another guy on. Should I wait to tell him in person in October when we see each other? Not telling him at all is out of the question because I know it will come out in some form eventually if I wait. I just want to do this the right way so I don’t hurt his feelings, even though he gave me his consent, it’s a new thing and I don’t want to make him sad while I’m gone and we are already missing each other a lot.

Thank you so much!

— Love Is An Open Door

How and when should she tell her boyfriend?
Share your advice below


  1. I’m sorry, but this is so naively silly that it goes all the way over into sweet. You haven’t opened your relationship; you’ve given each other permission to flirt. So flirt. And don’t talk about it and don’t worry about it. Just take all the sexual energy the flirting has created and when you meet fuck each others brains out. Then go out and find a yakitori joint and get drunk on cheap saki, go back to your hotel, and repeat. Don’t overcomplicate your life. Good grief.

    1. Yeah I’m with ya on that. OP has acted within the established rules and has done nothing that could compromise either partners’ health. There’s no need to divulge to your every single permissible thing you do. Unless hearing those things excites them, which it sounds like it does. But there’s really no obligation here.

      Good call on the love hotel, too.

    2. Permission to flirt, really? Most people we know would consider kissing, however briefly, to have crossed the line from flirting to something more.

  2. I say bring it up before your trip to Japan. Holding it back may make it seem like a bigger deal. You need to get it off your chest, because it’s bothering you. Skype is probably better than text.

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