How to end an open relationship: 10 important tips

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It’s over. Leaving someone is one of the hardest things we have to do. 

Most of the time, we feel like we can’t end a relationship that isn’t unhealthy anymore.  

Despite your best intentions, you may have realized that your open relationship has turned into a full-blown nightmare. 

So is there a graceful way to say goodbye to and close an open relationship? 

It’s time to know how you can end your open relationship. This way,  you can start reclaiming your life with the hopes of finding an exclusive one. 

Closing an open relationship? Here’s how

When you come to realize that this open relationship isn’t for you anymore, you have to shut the door. 

And there are good and worst ways to go about ending this. 

While being in an open relationship rarely works out in your favor, leaving still brings pain and heartache.

And no matter how much you hate the idea of breaking up, it’s time to pull the plug.

Here are 10 important tips to approach the breakup and handle its aftermath. 

1) Do a reality check

Ask yourself what has changed and what your life has become. 

To start with, go over these questions to help you think:

  • Is being in an open relationship makes you happy from within?
  • What have you gained from it from sexual satisfaction? 
  • What about your needs and your expectations that your partner can’t meet?
  • Have you decided that you want to return to monogamy?
  • If you’re married, is ending this open relationship your way to get your original relationship back to normal?

Maybe you’re interested in non-monogamy but decided to be monogamous again due to social pressure or family expectations. 

List down the sacrifices you’ve made for this open relationship. And consider what you’re not getting from this relationship.

A study shares that 92 percent of open marriages end in divorce, supporting the view that a relationship without exclusivity is doomed to fail. 

When you realize that it’s not worth it and being in this situation doesn’t make sense, breaking up would not be as hard as you think it is. 

But recognize that it will never be pain-free. 

No matter what kind of relationship you have, ending it will always cause pain on both sides. 

2) Prepare yourself

Think about what you feel and what you want to say to the person.

You can start by writing down your thoughts.

Consider writing a boilerplate message – something along the lines of, “Thank you, it was great, but it’s not working out.”

And find ways how you will physically distance yourself from your partner.

By preparing yourself ahead, ending this open relationship will become less intimidating and overwhelming.   

Since ending this relationship can feel like ripping off a bandage, make sure to look after your emotional and physical health too.

Consider what you can do to keep your spirits high.

But then, no matter how much you get ready for a break-up, it can sometimes get messy.

You’ll still experience losing someone who provided you with so much excitement, affection, and pleasure at some point. 

The most you can do now is to gather the strength to let all these let go.

3) Do it in-person 

Give yourself and your partner the consideration and respect you both deserve. 

While breaking up through text, email, or phone call sound easier, they’re not the best options.

Also, never leave or ghost your partner just like that. 

Gather the courage to break up with your partner in person. Talk face to face with full honesty. 

This is the most decent and mature thing you can do.

If it’s possible, do it in an intimate, familiar place. But if you’re worried that your partner tends to act violently, a public place is much safer. 

You and your partner will feel distraught. It’s fine and expected. Just avoid doing anything stupid. 

Your open relationship deserves closure with dignity. This way, you can both move on with your life without regrets, hatred, and bitterness.

4) Make a clean break

Most of the time, breaking up can be chaotic. 

But no matter what, make it clear to yourself and the other person that it’s over.

If things aren’t working anymore, avoid falling into a trap by giving your relationship a shred of hope. This isn’t kinder than pulling off the band-aid instantly. 

If you give an impression that you two can get back, your partner might get determined to win you back soon. 

You both have to see that your open relationship has ended. 

This way, you can start getting over it and move on.

What to keep in mind? 

  • Don’t suggest staying friends
  • Avoid saying “let’s keep in touch”
  • Never post bad things about your relationship
  • Don’t feel bad about yourself for ending the relationship 
  • Give each other space
  • Avoid talking or seeing each other

While doing those things is hard, it will help you focus on moving forward. Even if you plan to remain friends, it will happen in time. 

It’s reasonable and healthy to refrain from seeing and communicating with each other. So muster the courage to cut all contact for some time. 

Experts suggest letting months pass before starting any kind of friendship

In the meantime, it’s important to avoid any emotional entanglements with your former partner.

5) Be firm and honest – but not cruel

Whatever your reason for ending the relationship is, the other person has to know about it. 

Tell your partner the truth.

You never have to give too much detail. You simply have to be clear, honest, and gentle all at the same time.

To express your feelings, you can say, “I don’t think our goals align anymore.” Or something like, “I’ve realized what I want in a relationship.”

Also, avoid those overly used breakup clichés like “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of thing. And take note that you don’t have to unload all your complaints and comments about the other person. 

The key is to make it known what’s happening.

New York City psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible, Rachel Sussman shares, 

“The people that I see who have the hardest time after a breakup, it’s because they don’t understand.”

Better make this experience less painful for both you and your partner. 

Remind yourself of what you’ll feel if you were in their shoes.

By being honest, you can go through this whole breakup thing without too much drama.

6) Be positive about what the relationship gave you

See, wanting an open relationship is okay when both partners compromise and set rules to make it work. 

But this kind of relationship isn’t something to force yourself into especially if what you want now is to let this connection go.

So even if you’re ending your open relationship, you can touch on the good points as well. 

As much as you expect to dwell on the negative side of the relationship, you can shift to the positive aspects of it. 

Appreciate the relationship that you had with warmth and love while being clear that it’s over. 

This can make leaving the person easier to handle.

Soften the break-up blow my being grateful for all the great times you’ve shared. Because for one thing, you can feel the special connection like this person loves you when you’re having sex.

Say something like, “If not for you, I wouldn’t get to experience being myself and all those joys we had.” 

And even though you’re remembering those memories, remind yourself that you’re ending this open relationship for a reason. 

You’re doing this so you can leave and move without regrets. 

Recognize that while it’s good and feels magical, you’re both better off without each other.

7) Don’t be each other’s support system

While you feel guilty for being the one ending the relationship, never be the one to make the other person feel better. 

Don’t offer to be there for them or be their friend (at least not for now).

Susan Trombetti, relationship expert and owner of Exclusive Matchmaking has this to share, 

“You aren’t what they need right now and, as a matter of fact, you are the last person they need in order for them to move on.”

Once you break up, your emotions are your own. And this goes for the other person too. 

Getting comfort from each other will only make everything feel a lot worse. 

While you’re also upset about this, it’s best for both of you to find another source of support through the breakup.

Again, remember not to contact the other person. This article shares that people who limit contact after breakup recover emotionally faster.

And for f*ck’s sake, you don’t need to have sex anymore. 

8) Don’t delay ending the relationship

While you don’t want to hurt your partner or face the inevitable pain of breaking up, you might be putting this on hold.

But the sooner you end this relationship, the sooner you can both move on with your lives.

If you’re certain that being in an open relationship isn’t for you anymore, then there’s no reason to delay breaking up.

In most cases, the other person can feel that things have changed too. So while it will hurt, ending the relationship won’t come as a complete surprise.

Once you’re prepared, do it. 

Just be mindful of these instances if you can:

  • Avoid breaking up on significant dates 
  • Don’t break up before or after happy occasions
  • Avoid sad days too, like when the person is mourning a loved one

Keep in mind that there’s no reason to delay or avoid a break-up. 

When you do you’re only prolonging your chance of being in a relationship with a more fulfilling one.

9) Stick to your decision

Even if you feel hurt or guilty for leaving your partner, know that you’re doing the right thing. 

Find ways on how you can let go of this relationship and the person for good.

It’s hard to deal with all those emotions that come with breaking up. But never allow the other person to convince you to stay together. 

Know that feeling bad or guilty aren’t reasons to stay in this relationship.

And there’s no right or wrong way to feel when a relationship ends. 

It’s better to have the strength to face your emotional discomfort rather than pulling away from it. 

All you can do is to allow yourself to feel those emotions. You can cry, be sad, feel disappointed, or listen to sappy songs.

Acknowledge your emotions and feelings with open arms. 

But then keep these two points in mind: 

  • Never let these negative emotions linger for so long
  • Never judge or be hard on yourself (or the other person)

It’s best to learn from this experience. If you messed up, know that you can still get up from all these. 

By doing this, you’ll come to terms with what happened in your relationship. 

And just like any other breakup, going through the stages of grief that come after leaving a partner takes time.

By breaking the connection with this person, you can leave the relationship and be ready to live a fulfilling life.

10) Love yourself more

This is the most important thing you have to do before and after ending the relationship. 

Give yourself the love you deserve to have.

Being in an open relationship can create that temporary void in who you are.

This is why you have to look after yourself more to rebuild your identity and self-esteem.

After a break-up is the best time to work on yourself.

Here are things you can start doing:

  • Rediscover or find a new hobby
  • Start a project you’ve been putting off for long
  • Spend more time with your family
  • Meet your friends and have coffee with them

When you’ve given yourself the time you need, you’ll soon realize that you deserve a lot more than what your open relationship has given you.

Remind yourself that you are worthy to be in a real, loving relationship. 

Having second thoughts?

If you’re experiencing second thoughts about this whole break-up thing, don’t worry as it’s quite normal.

This is common when you’ve been with this person in an open relationship for a long great length of time.

That even if it isn’t a committed relationship, you still become integral parts of each other’s lives.

It’s understandable to wish to get back to how things were.

But just because something worked before means that it will work for a longer period. That’s why people end something to move on.

The pleasure, joy, happiness, and sexual satisfaction that an open relationship can be so strong that it will convince you to stay.

But then, these alone don’t define lasting romantic relationships.

In some cases, people can’t leave their relationship when:

  • They’re scared to face their unhappiness 
  • They don’t want to take responsibility for their decisions
  • They’re unwilling to face the pain that comes with leaving
  • They’re unable to face the consequences of their decision to leave

One thing you can do here is to remind yourself again and again what you want.

And don’t feel guilty for breaking the other person’s heart

When you realize and acknowledge that this open relationship isn’t working anymore, then, it will be easier for you to adjust to your new reality. 

Think about your future

You’re missing the chance of being with someone if you continue to hang onto this open relationship.

Can you see that your future is at standstill? 

An open relationship is not an exclusive pairing as both can pursue sex with others. 

You have to realize the huge difference between being a lover and being a partner.

Maybe you’ve just convinced yourself before that being in an open relationship is exactly what you need. 

Even if an open relationship is starting to be more widely accepted in society, it remains to be marred with a lot of stigmas.

And in most cases, open relationships work better in theory than they do in real life. No wonder, they wither over time.

So if ever you change your mind at some point, know the reasons why most open relationships fail

But now is the time that you have to be true. This time around, you don’t have to compromise.

You just have to be honest with yourself.

Heal your heart

Getting over a relationship is painful, but possible. The reality is, no matter what kind of relationship you have, someone or both partners, are going to get hurt.

This kind of connection is what makes you, breaks you, and makes you whole again. 

And know that you deserve much more than what this open relationship gave you.

You can experience the beauty and thrill of a loving, romantic relationship with someone you have a connection with. Something that’s without facing the complications of an open relationship.

Believe in yourself. Believe that it’s possible.

You must have to see this entire experience as an opportunity to take care of and love yourself. 

Keep in mind that your relationship with yourself is the most important thing. 

And when you open yourself to more possibilities, you’ll get to be with the one exclusively for you.  It’s worth it.

Know that ending your open relationship makes perfect sense. 

At the end of the day, it’s your heart that matters most.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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