Is an “indoor pass” ever a good idea in a relationship?

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Opening up a relationship can bring difficult feelings, even long after you’ve gotten back together (Picture: Getty)

A hall pass is the slang term for when someone in a relationship is granted permission to have sex outside of the relationship, usually on a one-time or limited-time basis.

In the 2011 film of the same name, Owen Wilson’s character is given a weekly pass by his wife after he says he feels the marriage is stale and he misses his single days.

A couple might consider a hall pass for the same reasons, or because one or both partners may want to explore ethical non-monogamy. A hall pass for specific individuals – like a celebrity crush, should the opportunity arise – can also be brought up.

It sounds like a great way to eat and eat your cake, but without proper communication and mutual consent, things can get very messy indeed.

jessica warren, Founder and Relationship Coach at WellWarren, told “An indoor pass can feel sexy and liberating and gives couples the opportunity to be open and honest about what they want…

“However, if you offer your partner a hall pass or vice versa, you may never really know what you both think of non-monogamy until it actually happens. It can irreversibly change your relationship dynamic.’

Though arena passes are blithely viewed as “giveaways,” they can run afoul of the same issues that can arise with polyamory or open relationships.

Vector illustration of friends turning away from each other.

A lack of communication can turn a hall pass into a breakup (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Perhaps a partner feels they need to say yes to keep the relationship going, or tells themselves that once they’re reunited, they won’t stay apart any longer, only to be left with grudges when it counts.

“If you have a partner with an anxious attachment style, jealousy or self-esteem issues, or a strong belief in monogamy, even demanding a hall pass can spark arguments and feelings of hurt or conflicting values,” Jessica adds.

In the media we might see the hall happily ever after, but in real life there is no such thing. You must fully address the potential pitfalls before proceeding, and work to ensure the relationship survives after the reunion.

But according to Jessica, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for a relationship — at least if you do it right.

She says: “It depends on whether your partner is demanding, demanding, or playfully thinking about something that you’re comfortable with or not.

“If you have strong, opposing views about monogamy, you may find that those differences are irreconcilable or undermine the trust or sense of freedom in your relationship.”

When you’re leading the discussion about a hall pass, it’s important to pay attention to your partner’s feelings. Jessica says the issue should be approached “gently, gradually, and in an open and loving way.”

Make your boundaries clear with open and honest conversations (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

On the other hand, if your partner has brought it up and you’re struggling with your feelings, she says, “It may be helpful to consider whether past trauma has produced feelings of jealousy, not-enough-enough, or control. It may be useful to consult with a psychologist.” talk about it; or when there are genuine differences in relationship beliefs that cannot be managed together.’

Is this a deal breaker for any of you? Will you manage to keep going together? Are your needs being taken care of or does it feel like you are being pushed to agree? All of these are questions to ask yourself.

Jessica says, “Anyone even considering including other partners in a monogamous relationship must be willing to have potentially triggering and emotionally intelligent conversations with their partner.

“You should speak transparently and honestly about the requirements you need for the hall pass. It will be an ongoing conversation about what you need before, during and after.

“Being able to talk about feelings in respectful and honest conversations with your partner is key.”

Ambiguity in these conversations often leads to irritation, so don’t dance around what you want or don’t want.

Ask directly if your partner would like to do this in the future as they may be drawn to the fantasy but not the harsh reality and difficult feelings that can arise.

Also, be specific. Set terms you’re comfortable with, from the exact length of the hall pass to whether you want to know what happened afterward.

You may also want to specify that they protect themselves when having sex with others (although they should anyway) or demand a ban on dating people you know.

What works in one relationship can spell disaster in another, and hall passes can be a great way for a monogamous couple to stay together while exploring their sexuality.

However, this is subject to the condition that you both act in good faith; Prioritize the partnership, take responsibility and make decisions from a place of truthfulness and respect.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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