An open relationship is one where two people, in a monogamous relationship, make a consensual decision to explore non-monogamy.
The decision to keep an open relationship can mean a variety of things. From the inclusion of new partners together or separately, to the development of external romantic relationships.
Apparently, for the success of a relationship like this, there is no recipe for a cake. Monogamy, as the most popular relationship style, is not the only relationship style available. In fact, new research suggests that people in open or polyamorous relationships are actually just as happy, if not happier, as monogamous relationships.
And, as the discussion has been growing, we decided to talk a little about the topic. How about we debate a little about the subject and better understand this possibility, just to avoid hasty conclusions?
In this post, we’ve gathered very enlightening information, which is not intended to end the discussion. On the contrary: we want to promote it!
The freedom to be requires recognition of choices—both ones own and others. Knowing an idea doesn’t require you to change your mind. Your relationship doesn’t need to be open. But it’s always good that the mind is…
What does it mean to be in an open relationship?
The term “open” gives the idea of something airy, without shackles, without obligations. By contrast, a “closed” relationship can seem almost claustrophobic!
Perhaps, at this point is the origin of a series of misinterpretations.
A so-called closed relationship corresponds to the monogamous model that, for a number of reasons — which do not fit in the discussion of this text — we agree as ideal, normal and best.
The open relationship, on the other hand, proposes a break in this “contract” of monogamy. It creates alternatives in which the couple can have parallel relationships, without this being seen as betrayal.
Which model, after all, is the best? What we must understand is that both situations allow conditions for a healthy coexistence, with mutual respect and focused on the partners’ happiness. The best relationship, therefore, is the one that works for the couple.
“Closed” would be an adjective better applied to any type of relationship — between two or more people — that, precisely, was not guided by dialogue, the search for consensus and satisfaction of those involved. This, of course, is a failed model…
Anyone who has had a monogamous relationship, knows that it is a difficult type to maintain… It asks for patience, learning and, occasionally, it ends. With open relationships it is exactly the same!
It’s not easier—because, after all, no relationship is. It doesn’t mean that anything goes and feelings are protected.
Desire and romantic affection
The big difference is in the negotiation of desire. When you embark on a monogamous relationship, you accept certain rules regarding the conduct of desire. It defines that only one person will receive your romantic affection and that relation will be exclusive with that particular partner. By circumventing these limits, the commitment falls apart.
Of course, in addition to these more trivial combinations, there are so many others that each couple discusses in their intimacy of coexistence.
There is no ideal monogamous dating or marriage formula. It fits according to the personalities involved, conceptualizing betrayal, for example, in a unique way.
Thinking like that, we approach the idea of an open relationship. Now, if what betrayal means, what hurts and what will not be admitted, can be interpreted in different ways, shouldn’t we think about whether relation fidelity is really so essential?
For you, it might be. For another, it may represent an unnecessary convention. What the experience of the open relationship shows is that one preference does not exclude the validity of another.
A monogamous relationship has its problems, but it can be filled with extreme happiness. Because the couple lives well like this, they feel complete and satisfied with the choice. And an open relationship? It also faces its obstacles, but it is confirmed in the good life.
The only problematic relationship is the one that suffocates, disrespects the other, blocks and imposes rules that do not prioritize common agreement. Disharmonious wills do not bring good company…
What determines what is right and wrong comes down to consensus. If he is present, it is enough for the pursuit of pleasure to be positive.
Difference between serious and open relationship
Is an open relationship not serious? In fact, when the expression is used to define a relationship of casual contacts, without further emotional involvement, we can think of it that way.
However, this is not the case with open dating or marriages, in which the idea of connection and companionship is implicit.
An open relationship can be lighter as possessiveness passes away. You give the other — and yourself — the freedom to exercise desires. However, freedom requires trust, good sense.So, beware of involved feelings and full respect for boundaries — yes, they are also part of the open relationship!
Think about what you think is a serious relationship. Delete the issue of monogamy from your list. What’s left applies to any couple.
The seriousness is in committing to live the individuality, without hurting the other person. Never harm, lie, ridicule, force or manipulate wills.
Seriousness is measured by the trust, honesty and sincerity involved. If there is complicity and love, what is missing for the relationship to be seen as serious?
Open relationship rules
There is no mold, no fixed pattern, that sets the rules for an open relationship. Each couple defines the course of the experience, combines conditions that they deem important, and arrives at particular consensus.
Perhaps, more than talking about rules, we should talk about premises. And here we can score two, without which no open relationship—or not—is really healthy. The fundamental premises are dialogue and self-knowledge.
Living in an open relationship is a process of discovery. The conversation needs to happen at all times. As there is no ready-made recipe, those involved need to analyze what they want, what they consider positive, what they are not willing to accept. And, of course, during the experimentation process, they may change their minds!
Self-knowledge is essential because, without recognizing one’s own limits and motivations, it is difficult to find realistic expectations, guarantee self-esteem in place and negotiate the “contract clauses”.
Giving up oneself to please the other inevitably brings a lot of pain and frustration. You don’t have to live in an open relationship to know that. Any human relationship faces the same risk.
Points that need to be thought about before opening the relationship
First, the couple must be sure they understand an open relationship in the same way. It is necessary to listen and speak with maturity and transparency. Before practice, theory needs to be well resolved.
Is it just this or can partners allow themselves other levels of involvement? Are acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, mutual friends part of the list of possibilities or are they banned? Does the non-exclusivity pact apply to every day of the week, anywhere or, for example, is it restricted to travel times?
As long as they are both unsure of what they want to live and what they consider healthy to allow the other, it is better not to move forward.
The theory may prove flawed. Therefore, communication needs to be active and continuous. Adjustments can be consented. And it is even allowed to come to the conclusion that the open relationship is not working! After all, no relationship comes with guarantees of success.
When the open relationship doesn’t work
The advantages of an open relationship are tempting: greater freedom for desire (no blame), enormous complicity between the couple, break from routine, psychological maturity, absence of the ghost of traditional betrayal…
However, none of this will happen if the couple’s opening to new partners is motivated by a crisis, an attempt to “save” the relationship or marriage. The name of this is snare.
Including others is not the answer when there are disagreements, weariness, or disappointments. It cannot be an excuse for postponing an end. If two are not satisfied, it is even unfair to expect others to realize that they bring happiness.
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Another big mistake is to embrace your partner’s will, not to lose him, without sharing the same philosophy of life. The open relationship must be interesting for both, promoting mutual satisfaction.
In short, the primary relationship needs to be solid, those involved should be fully aware of the emotions they will need to manage and the responsibilities they will take on. If the search for “free love” is a strategy to escape loneliness, better review the concepts.
For everything to be ok, it is essential that everything starts well. No subterfuges or concessions that will fuel devastating hurts and insecurities.
Who can live an open relationship?
Anyone who is willing to reinterpret the meanings of love is able to live an open relationship.
It is necessary to be convinced of the choice, freeing oneself from the weight of other people’s opinions. Don’t expect everyone’s approval and understanding. Remember that the decision is yours and the partner’s. If they’re both happy, that’s what counts.
The option to open up the relationship can be excellent for young couples, as well as for long-term partners, who love, respect and know each other well enough to experience freedom, without the negative charge of jealousy and suspicion of betrayal.
Just don’t be fooled into imagining that the open relationship isa path free from doubts and the need for learning. It is essential to bet on yourself, keep your self-esteem up to date and self-knowledge in evolution.
If you’re considering the idea, why not talk to a psychologist or therapist to get deeper into self-love first? The more aware we are of our decisions, purposes and motivations, the more sensible and firm our steps will be.