An open relationship is a relationship in which partners want to stay together, but would like to experience intimate relationships with other persons. This is not cheating, because both parties accept the terms upon which they agree, or at least tolerate them.
There are several types of open relationships:
- First there is a multi-partner relationship which occurs between 3 or more people and it doesn’t necessarily involve a sexual relationship between all of them.
- Another is a hybrid relationship, in which one partner is and one isn’t monogamous.
- Finally, there is swinging in which partners who are in a loving relationship have sexual relations with other people for fun.
It is believed that in some parts of America this occurs more frequently than in others, and mostly among young, college-educated people, rather than among uneducated people and minorities (ethnic or racial), according to Elaine Hollander and Howard Vollmer, the authors of Attitudes Towards “Open Marriage” Among College Students as Influenced by Place of Residence. These authors also believe that open relationships are probably more common for women than for men, which they explain with the fact that women are stressing the idea of equal rights and open relationships are one step towards equality. A survey conducted by QUERTY, which included 1,000 Americans of which 906 were familiar with the topic showed that 3% were in an open relationship, 10% have been in the past, and 86% have never experienced something like that (2% didn’t want to speak about it). When they were asked if they would consider being in such a relationship, the numbers changed a little – 14% said yes, 72% were against it, 13% were undecided, while 2% again stayed silent about it.
However well thought through this notion may sound, it is not without consequences on a relationship. In fact, it could put your current relationship into great risk. But it can also bring some freshness into a relationship and make your life more interesting. Whether an open relationship would work for you depends on you, your partner and the state of your relationship. Here are the pros and cons of engaging in something like this, so you can decide whether or not you are up to it and if it would be right for you based on relevant information.
- The Pros
Not being limited to being with only one person. This is the main reason why people decide to go for open relationships. You are allowed a certain amount of freedom, and if you happen to like someone else but your partner, you are able to act on it and if someone you feel attracted to starts flirting with you, you can freely do the same without your relationship holding you back.
Spice up your life. You can have sexual relations with more people and experience different things. This can bring some additional fun and excitement into your life.
You don’t have to miss opportunities. When you are in a monogamous relationship, an experience such as swimming naked with persons of the opposite sex is out of the question. An open relationship doesn’t limit you in that way.
There are no strings attached. If you are in an open relationship, chances are you are not ready to commit to only one partner at the moment, or you simply don’t think your current partner is the right person for you in the long run. This way you can be in a casual relationship and avoid the pressures of commitment if you are not ready.
Guilt-free. In an open relationship you don’t have to feel guilty for checking out a good-looking person passing by or being with someone else. Or at least that is how it should be in such a relationship.
- The Cons
Guilt. In theory, such a relationship should come guilt-free, but people usually feel a certain amount of guilt after they have spent the night with someone else and then come back to their partner.
Jealousy. It is irrational to be jealous if you both agreed that you want an open relationship, but your nature will make you jealous when you realize your partner has been with someone else. At least you will wonder if they were better than you in something and your confidence may drop.
The risk of pregnancy and disease. If you have more sexual partners, you can’t trust all of them and someone may carry an STD. And don’t think condoms can fully protect you (they sometimes rip). Also, if you get pregnant with one of those partners, it will certainly destroy your relationship with your partner who probably won’t be glad to raise another man’s baby.
Managing your time and priorities. More sexual partners means more time needed, and that can bring pressure into your life, even if you thought an open relationship will make the pressure go away. Managing more relationships can be too much and you may start paying less and less attention to your main partner, which can lead to the end of the relationship.
Your relationship will probably end. In an open relationship you meet other people and your partner does, too. So the chances of you or your partner finding someone ‘better’ and leaving are definitely high. Even if you don’t intend to leave, you will probably feel insecure about whether your partner will want to, and that can really destroy the relationship.