This Is What It’s Like To Be In An Open Relationship

Whether we’d like to admit it or not our instinctive reaction to hearing that individuals are in an open relationship is still one of shock, and maybe even a little judgment. There’s a tendency for us to raise our eyebrows and have to wonder at it. This is just the majority of cases — there are still a good number of people who are able to take it in stride and understand completely. But at the tail end of the other extreme are those who look down on open relationships and snidely think: “they must not love each other enough.”

But like all things that have to do with hate, this sentiment is simply born from ignorance. We, as people, hate what we do not know. This is why it’s important to usher in understanding and see that the first step is to become informed. So before casting judgment on open relationships, let’s take a look at what being in one is like as described by different individuals who have experienced one.

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The first common misconception about open relationships is that it’s a free-for-all. People assume that couples are simply together for the label but are free to do basically anything within the confines of their relationship. This might be true for some, but not all. See, the distinction is that each couple will have their own unique standards and structure for their relationship.

Bel, who’s recently been trying out open relationships, varies it based on her partner. They discuss together the parameters of their openness and it’s never been the same twice for any partner. Her other relations might sometimes be purely physical or they might also hold emotional attachment. Christian enjoys a very open structure with his partner; they talk to each other about their online dating profiles and sometimes even drop each other off to meet other partners. Then there’s Marc*, whose relationship is only ‘semi-open’ meaning that the line is drawn at emotional attachments. Theirs is also a bit more private, with only names being given unless more questions are asked. 

Screencap from Vicky Cristina Barcelona

As for why they opted into open relationships in the first place, the answer is not that they are simply ‘thirsty’ people. In fact, the common element across all couples interviewed was that the choice to be open was done in order to make the relationship stronger. They similarly share that it was to give their partners and themselves the freedom that a traditional relationship might restrict and make them resent for not having.

Bel shared that she wouldn’t want to feel her emotions should be constricted to only one person. For Marc specifically: “We kinda just wanted to explore our individual lives and wants. I don’t think we wanted to deprive each other of the lives we could live and this arrangement is just a compromise for that. Better to live a life without regrets than to live one in the bitterness of the ‘what if'”. Christian talked about how the openness had solved previous problems in their relationship which needed a new perspective.

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Something which tells of how difficult it actually is to have a successful open relationship is what all the interviewees feel is necessary to make one work. They were unanimous in their answers of mainly trust and communication being key. It shows how mature a couple must be in order to believe in one another so fully and completely — and how strong they are, too.

Christian shares: 

Communication is key in making it work. Well, communication is the oldest form of sex. Haha! Being open and honest about your partner and learning when and why we are doing it is also a factor. If an open relationship tends to fall out, you haven’t gauged your partner, or he/she would want to be back to a monogamous lifestyle. Tiring as it may seem, if you can compromise and settle with the priority, why not? If it conflicts on your views or plans on swinging later on, give thanks to him/her and venture out and look for the person for you.

For Marc: 

Trust, communication, honesty, and clear cut lines and rules.

It only works if you tell each other what they ask to hear. Be honest with yourselves and your partners and it will all be good.

Another thing is that this stuff is not for everyone. It takes a high degree of security, trust, and effective Interpersonal communication for these types of things to work.

And Bel thinks: 

An open relationship will always succeed if both partners are very secure about themselves and their partner that they trust even if one would do romantic things with other people, there’s that assurance that the main couple love each other and be there for each other regardless. The converse is true for unsuccessful open relationships. It’ll never work out if one or both partners are heavily insecure about themselves and their partner that they leave room for feelings like jealousy that usually hinders the openness of an open relationship.

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For all of them, an open relationship was never the product of “not loving their partner enough.” Quite the opposite. They decided to venture into this after careful consideration and thoughtful discussions. Bel entered into one because they both decided it was the best way to satisfy needs that might have been left wanting. Christian and his girlfriend were mature enough to realize what they did and didn’t want, as well as what they could and couldn’t handle. For Marc, it was complete trust and openness that made him know that he and his partner could do this.

What are your thoughts and opinions on open relationships? Share them with us in the comments! 

*Name has been changed to ensure anonymity

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