Open Relationships: Is It for You?

Are you in love with your partner but also want to be with others? Consider being in an open relationship.

Unconventional relationships are getting increasingly popular these days. Many people realize that monogamy is not for them and are instead turning to open partnerships or even polyamorous relationships to scratch an itch that a monogamous relationship just cannot. 

As open relationships become increasingly common, many couples wonder if this arrangement suits them. Whether you are freshly dating or have been together for decades, almost any time is an excellent time to contemplate an open relationship! 

Even as it becomes more frequent, we (as a culture) still need a social script on how to discuss these topics. So let's talk about what open relationships look like, how they work, and how they may be improved.

What Are Open Relationships?

An open relationship is one in which you have more than one romantic or sexual partner simultaneously. It's a non-exclusive or non-monogamous relationship that both partners agree on. 

Because one or both parties participate in romantic or sexual activities outside the partnership, the agreement portion of the arrangement is critical.

So when the two parties do not consent to an open relationship or marriage and one or both continue to engage in various pairings, it's called a non-consensual, non-monogamous (NCNM) relationship.

Who Chooses an Open Relationship?

Because there are still a lot of stigmas attached to non-monogamy, not everyone is eager to admit to having open relationships. According to dating studies in 2019, 2.4% of Canadian adults and 4% of Americans report being in an open relationship. 

Museum Date

According to another poll, 31% of women and 38% of men prefer non-monogamous relationships. There is a growing population of people who choose open relationships now that times and standards are changing.

Why Do Couples Resort to Open Relationships?

People may wish to be in an open relationship for various reasons. Open relationships offer several advantages when conducted with respect and the permission of all parties involved.

Regarding sexuality, humans prefer novelty, and we all want it at some time. A new partner is an excellent approach to satisfy your need for new sexual encounters.

Couple Kissing

People with effective open relationships have good communication skills, a deeper feeling of trust, and responsibilities and expectations that have been properly established.

It's far easier to meet a partner's demands if they tell you what they want instead of leaving you to guess. Partners in open relationships can lay all their cards on the table.

Non-monogamous persons can also express their desires and identities without fear in open partnerships. They don't have to hide their crushes or extramarital affairs from their partner, which causes a lot less emotional discomfort.

Pros of Open Relationships:

Cons of Open Relationships:

  • Better communication
  • New experiences (sexual and non-sexual)
  • Less pressure from conventional relationships
  • Jealousy and issues with self-esteem can lead to breakups
  • Risk of sexually transmitted infections
  • Risk of sexual addiction

Open Relationships vs Other Types of Non-Monogamy Relationships

There are minimal distinctions between ethical non-monogamy and polyamory relationships.

Defined, ethical non-monogamy is the umbrella word for polyamory. Every polyamorous partnership has its own set of rules. They all have sexual and emotional closeness. This is the primary distinction between the non-monogamous connotation.

Non-monogamous persons, in general, have sex with others outside of the core relationship rather than emotional connection.

On the other hand, the concept of an open relationship is more variable.

People can date and meet new people while being devoted to their primary relationships

Are Open Relationships for You?

Because many people expect partnerships and marriages to be monogamous, discussing an open relationship with loved ones can be difficult. People may find it difficult to accept something because of religious or familial values.

Despite the widespread expectation that everyone will, one day, be in a monogamous relationship leading to marriage, some people realize as early as their adolescence that they are not interested in monogamy. 

Others enter open relationships due to circumstances, such as developing a crush on someone new or because a partner suggests it.

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Happy Couple

Unfortunately, this is not always the ideal approach to starting a relationship. When infidelity is involved, it is preferable to address the fundamental issue in the relationship first rather than attempting to conceal it by opening up the partnership. This frequently entails breaking up or divorcing.

However, there are situations when the method allows both parties to go toward an open relationship with a positive view based on trust, love, and commitment.

Of course, that decision is highly personal, and it's crucial to acknowledge that open partnerships, in which two partners agree to pursue sex and/or love outside of their existing relationship, aren't for everyone. 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself before entering an open relationship:

  • Why do you want to do this?
  • Are you hoping to “fix” a troubled relationship?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking about boundaries?
  • How do you deal with jealousy?

How to Make an Open Relationship Successful

Although couples have agreed to enter open relationships with consent, the priority of the primary relationship above any other connections is a major feature of any open relationship.

Here are some of the things that you can do to make an open relationship work:

Research

Research open relationships as much as you can before doing it. You can purchase books about it, talk to others who are already doing it, download podcasts, or even find a virtual group. 

Clarify If It's What You Both Want

Once you and your partner are fully aware of and comfortable with what an open relationship entails, you should speak with each other to reaffirm that it is the correct choice. It will only work if you are committed.

If you chat together and one or both of you need clarification on whether opening your relationship is the correct move, speaking with a couples therapist jointly might be beneficial.

Communicate Your Goals

You'll want to share your goals now that you've done your homework and have determined that opening your relationship is the correct decision for you.

Every aspect of an open relationship necessitates open communication with your primary spouse, so this step will help you get into the habit of talking about the relationship more frequently.

You must agree once you've communicated your goals for this new dynamic. Things will not go smoothly if you have a goal that the other does not share.

Establish Rules and Boundaries

To make an open relationship work, you'll need to collaborate on your rules to protect each other's emotional and physical safety.

Signs That an Open Relationship Isn’t Going to Work

It may appear great to some, but there are various reasons these arrangements fail. The following are some of the signs that an open relationship isn’t going to work:

  • Jealousy
  • Uncontrolled emotions
  • Self-esteem
  • Honesty

The Takeaway

Although an open relationship may be viable for a couple, it should not be utilized to salvage one. If you believe your relationship is on the verge of dissolution, there are many better options, such as seeking couples counseling with your partner. Opening up your marriage will only complicate an already tough situation.

DatingScout.com Author Chris Pleines
Chris Pleines
Founder of Datingscout and Author of Online Dating for Dummies
Chris founded Datingscout 14 years ago, and today he is one of the leading Online Dating Experts. He is the co-author of Online Dating for Dummies and the author of the Internet's largest online dating study analyzing 20 Million Profile Pictures with artificial intelligence. He also appeared in numerous television interviews and publications to give expert advice as well as tips about online dating.

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