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So, I have been in nothing but open relationships since my last monogamous relationship crashed and burned and have not looked back. I am currently happily in a long term relationship that has been mostly smooth sailing thus far. There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding surrounding open relationships so I thought I would begin to shed some light on the issue. I'll start this off by saying I am in a sexually open relationship, I have never tried Polyamory but do strongly believe it could work. I could very well talk about it in another blog if you guys are interested. The first question I commonly get asked concerning open relationships is
do they work?
The short answer is- Yes! However, there are billions of different personalities, billions of different people and billions of different life experiences. I am a BIG fan of the philosophy that relationships are not a one size fits all issue. Open relationships can mean more work, more compromise and more communication. However I would say any relationship could use more of those things. Like any relationship, both partners have to truly want it. If there is any shift in communication at all, it can damage the relationship. Both partners must be a hundred percent honest.
If you were ordering at McDonald's and asked for a big Mac when all you really wanted was a salad, could you be mad when you got the wrong thing? It's the same with relationships.
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What about jealousy?
Jealousy is an interesting emotion. Any emotion, as well as jealousy is something you can learn to control. Jealousy is something that can make or break any relationship, not just an open one. The best advice I could give concerning jealousy are to be aware of your own emotions, be in control of your own emotions, and to talk to your partner.
How do you call it a relationship?It depends on your views on sex and relationships. To me, sex and love are not in any way, shape or form related, nor do I want them to be. The person you are dating is the person who visits you at the hospital, the person you live with, they are the person who listens to your life story, who holds your hand, and whom you have children with if you so desire. Someone you have sex with is just that, someone you have sex with. However that is just me.
Now all that considered, there are honestly several pros and cons of open relationships in my opinion.
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Pros-You can have sex with whoever you want- Remember that hot friend that was always off limits in a relationship? Well they're not off limits anymore! Go for it.
-You have more chances to explore your sexuality- Chances are very high that your partner is not interested in trying everything you are interested in trying. In an open relationship you can learn more about your sexuality by trying things they may not be interested in with other people. By doing this, you can potentially learn more about yourself.
-Outside partners can lead to a better sex life between you and your partner- Outside partners can be highly interesting and unique causing more novelty within the sexual side of the relationship.
-It's easier to maintain your personal freedom- In monogamous relationships it's a lot easier to blur the lines involving personal freedom based off paranoia, or the insecurity of your partner cheating. When cheating is not a factor there's a lot more room for freedom.
-They are generally more honest- I mean, think about it, have you ever been able to tell your partner about your prior Sexcapades, who you think is hot, or your favorite porn star? In an open relationship that kind of honesty is always an option.
-It allows for building more trust- Trust is very interesting. You have to give it to function, it's easy to lose, and hard to gain back once it's lost. The thing about trust, is it's gained by testing a relationship. Open relationships offer for more chances to test your relationship, and can result in either disaster or a stronger relationship as a result.
Cons-For some people it can feel less intimate- For people who associate love and sex they may feel confused, or like they are giving themselves to multiple partners
-The truth can hurt- For a lot of people, knowing that their partner is sleeping with other people can be unbearably painful and hard to deal with.
- It can be a health hazard- If proper protection is not used and both partners do not get regular STI checks you can spread all sorts of diseases
- Communication gaps do happen- One partner may be under the illusion that they will change the other, one partner may not really want an open relationship, in all cases the relationship will be doomed.
-Accidents can happen- If birth control fails, there can be terrible consequences.
Yes, but how do I make one work?
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Okay, well this sounds like the right thing for me.. But how do I make one work? I have the answer!
- Safety first- Use birth control, condoms, and receive regular test. This can keep you from spreading STI's and from having any unwanted kids.
- Know this is what you really want- If it's not, then why bother? There's a point in each person's life where we have to put on our big girl/boy pants and make decisions ourselves. Don't ever do something so serious for someone else's benefit.
- Establish boundaries- Boundaries are important in any relationship. Know what they are and set them. Boundaries can give you a sense of security when traveling into uncharted territory. Common rules are no sex in the home you share, no mutual friends, no sleepovers, and always using condoms with casual partners.
- Communicate everything- Me and my significant other talk about every small detail of our relationship until we are exhausted, and then we talked some more. We discussed every little detail of what was okay, and what wasn't. Do not enter an open relationship if you are not willing to talk a whole lot.
- Try your best to be honest- Almost everyone on this planet is a liar. However for any relationship to work, you have to put your most honest foot forward. Open relationships will force you to talk about difficult things, try not to run away from this.
- Do have a special set aside time with your partner- No casual encounters should be set in this time frame, spend it focusing on each other. Any casual encounters can wait.
- Talk about any jealousy or fears with your partner- Jealousy is something everyone feels. If you know the secret to not feeling it, please tell me. However, it is something you can express healthily and helpfully. Talk to your partner about it, and listen to them. This will make all the difference in the world.
Overall, open relationships can be a good and very much valid style of relationship. In the end, it's up to you if it's right for you or not. Know yourself first.