Perhaps you’ve been dating someone for a while and you absolutely love what you two share. But, as complex as human beings are, we all desire different things when it comes to a perfect relationship. Of course, variety is the spice of life, and we’re big advocates of being in happy and healthy relationships.
But for those who have being in an open relationship on their mind, here are all of your questions about this lifestyle, answered.
First, it’s important to notice the difference between polyamory, polygamy, and an open relationship.
What is polyamory?
Polyamory is when one partner or a couple have multiple romantic, intimate and loving partners with the consent of everyone involved. It’s more about a couple’s search for more nurturing and emotional relationships.
What is polygamy?
Polygamy is when one partner or a couple have multiple romantic, intimate and loving partners with the consent of everyone involved. It’s more about a couple’s search for more nurturing and emotional relationships.
For many polyamorous and polygamous individuals and couples, each relationship is treated equally, but love is the main priority in every relationship formed.
What is an open relationship?
An open relationship is having multiple sexual partners with the consent of everyone involved. It’s more about a person or couple’s sexual appetite and lust for new partners and experiences. Sometimes, both partners engage in sexual activity with openothers together i.e. swinging.
Most importantly, those who engage in open relationships keep their primary relationship as their first priority.
What do polyamory and an open relationship have in common?
Both polyamory and an open relationship are non-monogamous (not exclusive).
How can you be in a successful open relationship?
Being in an open relationship takes a lot of trust and mutual respect. And one way to enforce these fundamentals is to set clear goals and guidelines within your primary relationship.
Some rules you and your partner can consider:
- Always make honesty a priority
- Don’t spend too much time with additional partners
- Always gain consent
- Don’t date friends or people that you or your partner knows
- Always use protection
Open relationships and jealousy
Another factor that often comes into play with open relationships, is jealousy. And in actuality, being in an open relationship could potentially minimise a partner’s level of jealousy. Sounds crazy? Allow us to explain.
Well, for monogamous couples, the concept of jealousy is taken on in a different approach. A person may feel suspicious, lied to, and insecure when they suspect that their partner is looking at or perhaps seeing someone else.
In an open relationship however, all of the cards are laid on the table and honesty is always a priority. This effectively removes the need to feel suspicious and promotes full transparency.
What if one partner falls in love?
Being in an open relationship, there will always be a risk of one partner falling in love with someone else.
But you can address this in two different ways:
- Make sure that the foundation of your primary relationship is strong before embarking on an open relationship
- Perhaps polyamory is something you’d be interested in, and may work better as opposed to an open relationship
How can you prepare to be in an open relationship?
Spend time researching about the various lifestyles by reading literature (The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy is a great way to start), or online articles.
Finding forums of people going through similar situations is always great, as it gives you first-hand experience.
And, if possible, ask someone you know who is currently in an open relationship about the ins and outs, in order to decide if it’s for you.
How can an open relationship be maintained over time?
If you’ve decided that an open relationship is for you, the ultimate goal is to be happy and secure. For some, it may seem near impossible to maintain an open relationship over time without one or both partners getting hurt or feeling vulnerable.
But there are actually a few things that you can do to make sure that your lifestyle choice benefits you and keeps you satisfied in the long-run.
- Prioritise communication. Feelings of jealousy, hurt or anger need to be conveyed to your partner in order for an open relationship to work. The key is full disclosure and collaboration.
- Trust your partner and in return, be open and honest.
- Actually think about the long term, not just the immediate benefits that you will gain
- Set clear rules and expectations
- Be upfront, honest and straightforward with all other partners. They too have feelings and shouldn’t be an afterthought.
- Be sure that both you and your partner really are on the ‘open-relationship train’, and not simply agreeing to this lifestyle just to make the other happy.
- Avoid being in an open relationship as a last resort to save your partnership.
- Validate your feelings when you’re feeling insecure by asking your partner how much they love you.
- Make sure both of you know that you’re each other’s number one, and that they are enough.
- Don’t compare yourself to your partner’s activities, or the partners that they’re seeing.
The perks of being in an open relationship
At this point, you may be asking yourself if being in an open relationship is healthy? Well, an “open relationship is as healthy as the people in them,” says Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, an expert in sexual and gender minorities.
So, what are the perks of being in an open relationship? It’s an opportunity to feel secure with one person while exploring your sexuality with others that you find attractive or appealing. It gives one the freedom of sexual diversity and, for many, actually helps a couple grow and develop.
In fact, a study found in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that those who were in an open relationship felt just as satisfied as those in monogamous relationships.
Knowing this, do you feel that being in an open relationship is for you?
The truth is, there is no right way to be in a relationship. Two people fit together for a number of different reasons, and if you both value sexual exploration with each other and other people while having your primary relationship as a foundation, then this may just be the perfect lifestyle for you.