Your partner says “I want an Open Relationship. Let’s start seeing other people”, What do you do?
In the current society we live in, people have begun shying away from being held responsible for their actions, so much that they prefer to lose out on experiences as long as it means no responsibility or accountability whatsoever. And this is very evident in the modern-day relationship world. Relationships require a high level of responsibility and accountability; it is no wonder people are suddenly vying towards open relationships.
On the other hand, Exclusive Relationships can be tough to deal with especially with the high rate of cheating and dishonesty in relationships these days. Which is why, most people prefer to rather be in open relationships to save themselves from the stress and anxiety that exclusivity comes with. But does it really work?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the differences between Open Relationships, being Mutually exclusive, and the pros/cons of an Open Relationship, I will first define what each term is, so you can get an idea of the subject matter.
What Is an Open Relationship?
An open relationship is a relationship where parties aren’t exclusively dating each other. In other words, both people are openly allowed to have other sexual and/or romantic partners. Although often misplaced as Polyamory, (Polyamory is open enough for feelings to be formed while Open relationships are based on sexual relations) they are two different concepts. Some types of Open relationships can be classified into Swinging, Monogamic, Hybrid, relationship anarchy etc.
What is a Mutually Exclusive Relationship?
This is when both parties are exclusively dating each other. There is a mutual agreement between them that neither of them would be romantically or sexually involved with other people.
Just so you know; Relationship ambiguity can be really stressful on the mind, so It helps if you have a clear intention about your life and dating style and also what your partner wants. If they want to strictly be seeing you or otherwise. All that needs to be explicitly communicated.
Also being exclusive doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a relationship. It could be friends with benefits relationship and both of you choose to be exclusive.
So yes, your partner says “I want an Open Relationship. Let’s start seeing other people”, What do you do?
Well, the choice on what to do is really up to you and how whatever decision you make will affect you. But I will give you some pointers to help you determine which of the options best suits you by pointing out the pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at some reasons people go into Open relationships;
- The need for a challenge: Some people do not enjoy relationships or get easily bored unless they are being challenged. Open relationships create an avenue for jealousy, attachment, or possessiveness, and these are challenges for a relationship to work through. These emotions can also lead to greater self-awareness which may be seen as satisfying to those in open relationships.
- The lack of deep emotional commitment: Commitment is very scary for a lot of people, because they are constantly scared of being hurt. Hence, they shy away from relationships that would require them being totally committed.
- For the Sex: For some, it’s just about the sex. The way having multiple sexual partners makes them feel and the drive to please them all, they find pleasurable. And for those with high sexual drives but their partners are unable to satisfy them.
- The belief that humans were not created to be with one partner: There is the belief that humans are polygamous in nature and that monogamy/exclusivity no longer makes sense.
And the list goes on.
Pros of being in an open relationship
- Freedom: The freedom to explore different aspects of yourself without the hindrance exclusive relationships come with.
- No pressure for commitment from your partner and you do not have to fulfill all of your partner’s emotional and sexual needs or interests.
- You get to experience new and exciting sexual interests with different people whenever you please. You might find a new partner who is into something you had never considered before.
- It can help couples with different sex drives. If your partner perhaps has very low interest in sex, and you are quite the opposite, an open relationship maybe the answer for you. It takes the pressure off your partner to try and meet up to you drive.
But what are the cons in Open relationships?
- Jealousy: When you truly love someone, the jealousy will always be there. Because you will always want them to yourself. There is no way you will be cool knowing someone else is handling someone you deem precious to you. If there is no jealousy then there is definitely no real love in that relationship.
- Reduced Honesty: There will be little or no honesty in your primary relationship. You start to doubt if they still have feelings for you and then you also start hiding details of your other conquests from them. All trust becomes lost.
- Controlling emotions: You will always have to struggle with keeping your emotions in check to avoid ruining it. Often times, you will go through emotional pain and you end up giving up on a real relationship ever happening
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Let’s not forget the sexual danger you might be putting you and your partner in. Diseases can be easily transmitted when you have multiple partners at one.
Can it really work?
Ultimately, Open relationships often fail due to a lack of honesty. The issue isn’t so much the honesty between the two people in the relationship. The issue is the lack of honesty these individuals have with themselves. Often, the person who wants an open relationship either no longer wants to be with their partner or are just looking for easier ways to cheat without the emotional guilt.
In a recent poll I conducted, asking men if they could be comfortable in an open relationship, 47.7% of the answers were negative with even a hint of vehemence from 33.9% at the mere suggestion. Only 18.3% were open to the idea. This made me realize, Men may love the idea of an open relationship. The idea of sleeping with multiple women while still being in a loving relationship and this ticks all the boxes of a good life for them.
However, there is one downside for men to an open relationship which they absolutely do not like one bit: If a man is sleeping with multiple women, then their partner is just as likely to be sleeping with multiple men. Which means they will have to consider the fact that their woman will also engage in sexual engagements with other men.
There is something called “The hero instinct” in relationships It means that men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel essential, and to provide for the women they care about. The hero instinct speaks to the built-in desire men possess for something in life that goes beyond sex and even love.
Simply put, men need a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, especially from their relationships. So, the thought of another man’s hands on what is theirs’ to protect is purely inconceivable to them. Which let’s be honest is quite selfish
Although for women, it was a whole different ball game, 35.1% didn’t seem to mind their partners having other partners while 34.2% blatantly said they couldn’t and 30.7% vehemently rejected the idea. From this statistic, it would seem that women are even more open to the idea than men. I will like to tie this to the fact that a lot of women are warming up to the idea of sexual liberation and are embracing having multiple partners. Meanwhile, a study says women are believed to use open relationships as a foolproof way to preserve or rekindle relationships, given how jealous men get when they see their partners with other people. Women being sexually open and adventurous only as an attempt to keep a man would just be plain manipulative of course.
So, from my findings and polls, turns out, a lot of people that say they want open relationships actually mean; “open for me, closed for you” because they hate to share.
In the end, someone always gets hurt. Someone lies. Someone breaks the rules.
All in all, whatever relationship you chose, all good relationships are based on communication. You need to communicate with your partner about your feelings and be honest upfront. And do not forget to create boundaries!!
The whole point of being in a relationship is to enjoy yourself and your partner in whatever context works for you. If you both feel like your relationship would do better if you open it up, go for it and if not, stick to your values and decline.