I’d like our open relationship to be less open

Thanks for chat yesterday.

Brattle Theatre book event tickets here.

My boyfriend and I have an open relationship. We've been having a lot of fun for six months now. I love being with someone who understands that people can want to be independent and free, and at the same time want to be spooned to sleep every night.

When we decided to give an open relationship a shot we set up ground rules: always use protection, don't bring other people back to our apartment, and, of course, just be honest with each other with what we're doing and with whom. Last night, he randomly mentioned that he thinks one of my friends is super hot, and for the the first time in six months, I felt really uncomfortable about him being with someone else. Until now, the other people we've been with have all been outside our friend circle.

I didn't tell him it bothered me because I panicked a little and brushed the whole conversation off. I wish we could go back to when we were setting up rules and add "no friends" to the list, even though it seems like that defeats the purpose of an open relationship a little bit. I don't know how to revisit this conversation to tell him that the idea of him hooking up with my friend makes me uncomfortable.

– Open?

Here's the thing about boundaries in relationships: If they don't work, they can be changed. Negotiations are ongoing, and check-ins should happen regularly. That's how people stay together. They have to ask, pretty frequently, is everybody OK?

I'd argue that the rules you set with your boyfriend allow for this. You say you promised to “be honest with each other with what we're doing and with whom." Doesn't part of this statement apply to your feelings, in general?

It makes sense that you're uneasy about renegotiating the terms, but it sounds like you and your boyfriend do well with this kind of talk. You were able to discuss the basics of this arrangement without losing track of the goal. You have every reason to believe he'll have empathy. And if he doesn't ... that's something to know.

Speak up sooner than later. It's part of what it means to be open, in general.

– Meredith

Readers? Advice on adding this rule?