It’s common to fantasize about others when you’re in a relationship, whether you’re enjoying the attention of a cutie our at the club, or flirting it up with your co-worker. Some may even want to explore sensual connections beyond just a flirtatious vibe. But the fear of what could go wrong when broaching the subject with a partner or potentially hurting their feelings often scares people away from ever bringing it up.

But what if you could have your cake and eat it too by going consensually non-monogamous? Some people find that it brings in a new spark of passion and novelty, potentially bringing partners closer together. Others find that it adds pleasurable layers to the relationship, including simply enjoying your partner lavishing up some delicious attention. If you’re wanting to give non-monogamy a try, here are some important notes to consider!

1. Explore an alternative relationship

Many of us are taught that a relationship should be a one-on-one commitment. Yet attraction to others is an inevitable and natural part of life, single or not. This sharp contrast is a disconnect between what we want to do and what we believe we should do. Opening your mind and exploring alternatives allows you to satiate your desires, while still acting as a loving, supportive, and trustworthy partner.

So, how do you start?

2. Communicate with your partner

Tell them that you really care about their feelings. Rather than hinting that you’re getting bored, let your partner know that you are very happy with them and the relationship. Even if the truth is that you do feel bored, conversations with topics such as these should be handled delicately and respectfully. Openly and honestly express that you have feelings you want to explore. Explain open relationships to your partner, and see if they would be open to adding this new aspect to your relationship. If it’s not for them, respect their decision and find other ways to liven things up.

3. Set some rules and boundaries

Make sure you and your partner are on the same page before trying to bring someone else into the relationship. Start by first having a conversation about what you both are okay with and what is too much. Establishing boundaries or rules is something that can help you both feel comfortable but it can also help you stick to them. Agree to start slow, and check-in with your partner regularly to make sure you’re both still comfortable.

4. Decide which play is okay

All couples have different limits with what they can do with others, so this part will be specific to what you and your partner feel comfortable with. Maybe you’re okay with kissing, but not intercourse. Or, maybe you’re only okay with intercourse, but only if it’s in the other room. Decide on your limits, and make sure everyone agrees to respect that – including anyone new you bring into the mix.

5. Set a length of time

Determine with your partner what exactly you’re looking for from opening up the relationship. Maybe you’re just looking for one-night-stands and quick hook-ups; maybe you’re looking for something more along the lines of friends with benefits or even a short-term dating partner. If things progress, decide if you’ll be open to long-term dating or bringing someone else into the relationship in the future. Then again, you and your partner may try opening up once – or a few times – and conclude it just isn’t right for your dynamic.

6. Should you share?

There are plenty of different options you and your partner can explore in opening your relationship. Maybe you’d like to swap partners with another couple, date other people separately, or try group sex together. You may even want to have a threesome, simply to spice things up. The important thing is trust and honesty between you, your partner, and anyone else that joins your relationship.

7. Check jealousy at the door

A common question that comes up in opening relationships is jealousy. The fact of the matter is, your partner loves and cares about you. Another person isn’t a replacement, but rather an enhancement on what you already have together. Some jealousy comes from fear or feelings of inadequacy; however, opening your relationship is about sharing and building upon what was started between you and your partner.

8. Change and adapt

If you or your partner do end up feeling jealous or insecure, maybe it’s time to rehash the boundaries. Whatever is established between all parties involved can be changed continuously – adaptation to changing lifestyles, changing emotions, is what helps to keep the relationship afloat. Open relationships take communication and trust between all parties, but the most important factor is the desire to keep the ones you care about happy, satisfied, and fulfilled – both sexually and emotionally.

9. Find trustworthy partners

The single most important feature about anyone you or your partner play with is that you must both trust them. You don’t want to end up in a situation with a third party where you or your partner feels like there is a preference forming or that someone is being “stolen away.” Find partners that you can trust – sexually and otherwise – who will respect the boundaries set in place. Start a conversation at a swinger’s club or meet like-minded individuals online.

10. Explore at your own pace

Go as slow or as fast as needed for you and your partner to feel comfortable. Keep communication open, and when things inevitably change, re-discover your boundaries once more. A good and caring partner will always be respectful and responsive to your needs.