The concept of a hall pass has become a topic of intrigue and trepidation. It means granting one partner the freedom to explore a connection with someone outside the partnership. The dynamics of love, commitment, and intimacy have evolved. Thus, prompting couples to explore unconventional avenues to maintain the spark in their relationships. Whether it’s a fantasy whispered in jest or a serious consideration, the idea of a hall pass is not without its complexities.

“Common reasons for considering a hall pass in a relationship include exploring sexual desires, addressing boredom, or seeking novelty,” says Charnéi Washington, LMFT.

“It means that one or both partners may feel a need for variety, excitement, or exploration beyond their usual routine or sexual interactions within the relationship. So developing a mutual understanding of a hall pass system can allow the members of the relationship to do so,” Washington continues. “A sex therapist can help by facilitating open and honest communication between partners to understand their motivations and ensuring both are on the same page.”

As couples grapple with whether to embrace or eschew the hall pass, they find themselves at the crossroads of desire and devotion.

Charnéi Washington is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate who provides telehealth services in Washington state. Her specialization is in Sex Therapy, and she’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Sexology. Washington is passionate about working with couples, families, and individuals as they navigate challenging life transitions and relational difficulties. She spoke with 21Ninety about how to discuss the concept of a hall pass and how to keep the trust.

In addition to speaking to Washington, the 21Ninety staff writers and SEO team shared their thoughts on hall passes.

How to Discuss Hall Passes In Your Relationship

Effective communication about a hall pass involves candidly expressing desires, fears, and expectations. Partners must actively listen, fostering trust and understanding. Open dialogue ensures clarity and aligns expectations, paving the way for a consensual and respectful decision.

“Benefits of granting a hall pass may include increased sexual satisfaction and variety,” Washington explains.

“However, without a solid foundation for the relationship entering into a Hall Pass System prematurely, risk factors and challenges may involve jealousy, insecurity, or emotional disconnect.”

Washington mentions that a therapist can help couples weigh these factors and develop coping strategies.

Unambiguous dialogue is crucial to align both individuals, reducing misunderstandings and fostering consensual decisions aligned with partnership values and boundaries. It ensures a shared understanding for a harmonious relationship. Unambiguous dialogue is crucial to align both individuals, reducing misunderstandings and fostering consensual decisions aligned with partnership values and boundaries. It ensures a shared understanding for a harmonious relationship.

“Complete vulnerability with your partner is paramount. It serves as the initial stride towards productive communication. The capacity to articulate your wishes, anxieties, and worries to be acknowledged, comprehended, and valued in a secure environment established by your partner and vice versa is crucial,” the sex therapist shares.

“This openness permits you to express yourself entirely and facilitates both of you in reaching compromises and negotiating the terms” she continues.

Possible Challenges

Navigating a hall pass presents challenges, including trust issues, emotional complexities, and potential imbalances in relationship dynamics. Clear communication is vital for mitigating these hurdles and maintaining a healthy connection.

“Some common challenges and emotions may include jealousy, guilt, or fear. A therapist can make space for this partner to process these feelings with their partner while fostering understanding and reinforcing the foundation of the primary relationship,” says Washington.

Furthermore, engaging in a hall pass arrangement introduces potential drawbacks for couples, such as the erosion of trust, heightened emotional turmoil, and the disruption of established relationship dynamics.

Additionally, the unequal experiences or emotional investments in external connections may lead to a power imbalance. Imbalances further complicate the delicate equilibrium of the relationship. Successfully managing these cons requires vigilant communication, emotional intelligence, and shared commitment in navigating hall pass complexities.

Rules According to A Sex Therapist

Establish clear rules for a hall pass. Set foundations on communication, boundaries, and emotional transparency. Also, regular check-ins ensure mutual understanding and respect. This fosters healthy exploration, while safeguarding the primary relationship.

“Tailored guidelines or ground rules can be designed to the primary couple’s unique requirements and foundation. For instance, it may be advisable to consider measures such as practicing safe sex, implementing other safety precautions,” said Washington. “Also, establishing a defined timeframe, and maintaining open and honest communication about experiences help uphold the relationship’s fundamental values within a hall pass arrangement,” Washington reveals.

Washington mentions that a sex therapist can help couples maintain emotional intimacy and trust. She often suggest regular check-ins done outside of therapy. Furthermore, she wants couple to implement emotional connection exercises. They can include spending time together or opportunities of appreciation and gratitude.

21Ninety Staff Weighs In

The 21Ninety staff chimed in on whether they would use a hall pass and who they would use it on.

“If my partner gives me a hall pass, it depends on where I am in life on wether I’d use it. If we’ve been married for 10 years and we need to spice things up, I’d consider. But, if my partner and I have only been dating for a few years, probably  not,” reveals Aysia Morton, the associate editor of 21Ninety.

“If I had the opportunity to have a hall pass it would be for fantasy purposes. It most likely would never happen, and thats the fun in it. I would use my hall pass on Daniel Kaluuya. That man is so fine and sophisticated,” she adds.

Morton thinks couples should to be on the same page before implementing a hall pass.

“Be honest with your partner about your feelings and ensure you both agree to the terms and conditions set,” she says.

While Morton says it depends on the circumstances if she uses her hall pass, Justin Young admits he would use his hall pass with his partner.

“If my partner and I were entertaining the idea of a hall pass, I’d turn it into a joint adventure. The concept could be an opportunity to explore together, adding even more spice to our relationship. The crucial part would be transparent communication, ensuring that both of us are comfortable with the idea and setting clear boundaries. So, yes, with the condition that it’s a collaborative and consensual for both of us,” Young explains.

He would consider using his hall pass on Ana de Armas, Eiza Gonzales, Zendaya, or Christian Serratos. 

While SEO team member Amara Amaryah was opposed to the idea of using a hall pass. While she believes the concept of a hall pass is “super fun” and “reveal what might be hard to articulate [in the relationship].”