Should I try a closed long-distance relationship if I'm used to open relationships?

Question

I have a question about trying a closed relationship because I've usually been in open ones in the past. I really think I have feelings for this guy, but he wants a closed relationship, and I'm not sure whether that will work for me in the long term, especially given that we're long distance. Should I give it a try?

Received via Telegram (name withheld)

Answer

There is no right answer to this question, especially given the inherent difficulty of long-distance relationships. However, the short version of this question is a tentative "yes," given that you think you could be truly content with a closed relationship.

Giving this relationship a shot is really only a bad thing if you don't think you could ever be happy with a closed relationship long-term. You absolutely should not agree to be in a closed relationship on the assumption that your mate will eventually agree to open up the relationship, because that might never happen. It's certainly more common for gay relationships and BDSM relationships to open up over time, but this is by no means a foregone conclusion.

pullquote

That said, many open relationships do start closed. Usually it is a good idea for two people in a new romantic relationship to focus on each other until the new relationship energy wears off, especially if one or both partners have a preference for closed relationships. How long it takes new relationship energy to fade varies, but it can take months to years.

After six months or a year or however long, you could always have a conversation about opening up the relationship, but it is probably best not to ask for at least the first few months. If he says no, accept the answer cheerfully, don't push back, and let the issue rest. You can return to it every few months, but if you keep getting a "no," you will need to accept that being in a closed relationship is your price of admission to be with him; if you wish to be with him, you will need to forego sexual and romantic connections with others.

One additional wrinkle to this question is the fact that you're long-distance. Being long-distance certainly ups the difficulty level of being in a closed relationship, because many people feel a strong need for physical intimacy and human touch on at least a semi-regular basis. In light of this, you might consider eventually trying to negotiate an exception to your closed relationship terms that says you can seek other casual sexual partners when you're long-distance and expected not to see each other for a while, but perhaps not when you're close by or expected to see each other within a month or so, thereby giving you and your mate the chance to really anticipate your visits with each other.

At the end of the day, you will have to figure out just what it is that you can be happy with. There is nothing wrong with monogamy if it works for you. I know that I can be happy in many types of relationship structures, including closed relationships and more open polyamorous relationships. Just because my current relationships happen to be polyamorous and somewhat open does not mean that this relationship structure is all I would ever be able to accept. In fact, if my mates asked me to close our relationship, I would gladly do so. Whether you're capable of being in a closed relationship or are willing to be in one is something only you can determine for yourself, and it may take some trial and error on your part.

Hope that helps! Feel free to leave a comment below or ask any follow-up questions you might have by visiting our contact page.

Viro the Science Collie

Viro Science Collie is a PhD virologist and medical writer, experienced in teaching, technical communication, and writing for the public. He has been active in the furry community since 2012 and has been happily and ethically non-monogamous for much of that time. His interests include non-traditional relationship structures, technology, biological science, and tennis.