On open relationships…

If you say that you are in an open relationship, the chances of being misunderstood are quite high. Some folk think you’re cheating, are being forced into doing something you don’t want by a more lascivious partner, or are doing it simply to fix a broken relationship. Sometimes those things can be true, but the majority of people who would actively choose to label themselves as being in some form of open relationship are not actually being dishonest, coerced, or simply kidding themselves. Most of us who are in open relationships firmly believe that you cannot expect one single person to be your everything, and some even think that it is possible to fully and completely love more than one person at a time.

It’s a tricky concept for many people to grasp, but I often wonder why that is. After all, people are unfaithful all the time. Even if you’ve never felt the urge yourself, chances are that you either know someone who has cheated or you have read the details of any of any number of “love rats” in a newspaper or magazine. For many people, monogamy is really quite hard indeed. They get tempted by others, but they still claim to love their partner… and they probably do. Just because you and your partner like different things in certain areas of your lives, doesn’t mean you don’t still love each other. Of course jealousy crops up, but the thing about the majority of open relationships is they are honest about this. Hurdles can nearly always be overcome if you are willing to talk about your problems.

No single method of organising romantic and sexual relationships is more correct than another. Well, certainly not to anyone other than the people involved!

6 thoughts on “On open relationships…

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  1. “Most of us who are in open relationships firmly believe…”

    I would think that most people *not* in open relationships would agree that it's unrealistic to expect one person to 'be your everything'. At least I hope so: I really don't think a realistic expectation of what you can expect from a partner is confined to polyamory.

    It's just that for me (and I can only speak for me) the holes that aren't filled by my partner are filled by my friendships (of both sexes), my family and, ultimately, myself. Rather than (excuse my crudeness) getting those holes filled by finding other people who want to fill my holes.

    I have some other personal quibbles – the expectation of unfaithfulness as the norm, or that knowing people who have been unfaithful is a reason for non-monogamous relationships rather than just getting out of one that clearly doesn't work for them – and the suggestion that honesty is somehow more normal in open relationships (what on earth is the opposite of 'open' relationships? 'Closed'? How miserable) seems weird.

    However – main point is: as much as it's not what I choose, I completely respect your right (and the right of lots of my friends) to choose it, and it's really interesting and engaging reading what you write about it. So, good. Hurray!

  2. I too would hope that *everyone* would not expect that all their needs could be met by one person, but after years of being bombarded with subliminal messages from society and the media, I think many people do. People talk about looking for someone who “completes” them, finding “the one” – if folk don't look deeper, they can begin to feel as though their partner should satisfy every single one of their needs.

    You're right about friends fulfilling a lot of that role for most people (whether they're in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship).

    I wasn't saying that being unfaithful is the norm, I was merely pointing out that there are frequent reports of such behaviour. Even if you've never done it, you may have heard of someone who has, so the concept of something other than monogamy already exists in many people's minds, just not a very ethical alternative!

    It's nice to hear from someone who respects others' choices. Wouldn't it be lovely if everyone did that? My view is that people need to find what works for them, so education regarding the options is important. If you know there's something other than monogamy and you're still certain you've made the right choice, then you most definitely have 🙂

  3. The thing about unfaithfulness is interesting – I came across a question on OKC that pretty much was 'all relationships should be open because there'll always be cheating in monogamous relationships – yes or no?'. I come down firmly on no – thousands of people manage to have happy and faithful monogamous relationships. Open relationships, of whatever form, should be a happy and informed choice, not just a miserable 'least worst' option. And I couldn't agree more with Lori's final paragraph in the comment above mine 🙂

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